Jury finds Army soldier guilty of killing his wife, a young private at Fort Meade

BALTIMORE — Army Sgt. Maliek Kearney has been found guilty in the killing three years ago of his wife, a 24-year-old private stationed at Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County.

Kearney, 37, was found guilty Thursday afternoon of the federal crime of crossing state lines to commit domestic violence resulting in a death. He could be sentenced to as much as life in federal prison.

The jury returned his guilty verdict Thursday afternoon in federal court in downtown Baltimore.

Anne Arundel County Police found his young wife shot to death in the bedroom of her Severn townhome in August 2015. Someone had shoved a revolver against Karlyn Ramirez’s body and fired three times: once into her side and twice into her chest.

Ramirez, an Army private stationed at Fort Meade, was found with her infant daughter beside her body. The child was unharmed.

During a two-week trial, federal prosecutors outlined a careful plan by Kearney to commit the killing, saying he became consumed with rage after Ramirez was unfaithful and asked him for a divorce.

Prosecutors say he drove from Fort Jackson in South Carolina, shot Ramirez to death, placed their child beside her dead body, then drove back to attend work the next day.

His accomplice and mistress, Dolores Delgado, 33, of Florida, pleaded guilty last year to the same federal crime of crossing state lines to commit domestic violence in a death.

— The Baltimore Sun

New Air Force colonel to preside in Guantanamo’s stalled USS Cole case

MIAMI — A new judge has been assigned to preside at Guantanamo’s stalled trial of a Saudi man accused of plotting al-Qaida’s suicide bombing of the USS Cole warship off Yemen in 2000 that killed 17 U.S. sailors.

Air Force Col. Shelly W. Schools replaced the retiring chief trial judge, Vance Spath, on Monday, according to a memo obtained by McClatchy.

Spath drew national attention in November for summarily convicting the chief defense lawyer, Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, of contempt of court — and then ordering him to serve 21 days confinement in his trailer behind Guantanamo’s war court. Spath then quietly put in for retirement soon after a federal judge overturned Baker’s conviction.

Schools is a career Air Force lawyer who joined the service in 1997, the year she graduated from the University of Mississippi law school. It is unclear how soon she will appear on the military commissions bench.

At the request of war court prosecutors, a Pentagon panel, the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review, is deciding a range of questions Spath raised after he indefinitely froze pretrial proceedings in the death-penalty case against alleged Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri — including the scope of the war court’s contempt authority as well as who has the power to release attorneys of record from ongoing proceedings.

— Miami Herald

Number of pregnant women abusing opioids skyrockets

WASHINGTON — The number of women giving birth with opioid use disorder quadrupled between 1999 and 2014, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

The increase underscores the severity of the country’s opioid epidemic as a legislative package aimed at helping states curb addiction rates idles in the Senate. Newborns exposed to drugs while in the womb can suffer severe complications, including withdrawal, preterm birth and death.

The CDC study released Thursday found “significant increases” in the number of women with opioid use disorder at the time of delivery in 28 states with available data. The agency analyzed information from a database of inpatient discharges operated by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, finding that the prevalence of pregnant women addicted to opioids increased from 1.5 per 1,000 deliveries in 1999 to 6.5 in 2014.

“These findings illustrate the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic on families across the U.S., including on the very youngest,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement. “Untreated opioid use disorder during pregnancy can lead to heartbreaking results. Each case represents a mother, a child, and a family in need of continued treatment and support.”

The highest rates existed in Vermont (48.6 cases per 1,000 deliveries) and West Virginia (32.1), according to the report. The District of Columbia (0.7) and Nebraska (1.2) had the lowest rates.

The CDC reported in March that 63,632 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016, a 22 percent increase over the previous year. Two-thirds of those deaths were linked to opioids.

— CQ-Roll Call

University of Florida creates journalism position in honor of slain reporter Rob Hiaasen

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The University of Florida has created an investigative journalism position in honor of Rob Hiaasen, a reporter who was killed in the June shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md.

Journalist Ted Bridis will be the College of Journalism and Communications’ first Rob Hiaasen Lecturer in Investigative Reporting this fall, the university states on its website.

Hiaasen, 59, was one of five Capital Gazette staff members killed in a deadly shooting on June 28. He had worked as a columnist and editor for the newspaper since 2010.

Hiaasen graduated from UF with a degree in journalism in 1981 and joined the Palm Beach Post in 1987. He wrote more than 500 stories before he left the Post in 1993 and went to The Baltimore Sun, where he worked for 15 years.

One of Hiaasen’s most notable stories was an investigation headlined “Dr. Acer’s Deadly Secret” published in the Post on Sept. 29, 1991.

The story revealed how a dentist in Jensen Beach hid his bisexuality and had infected six of his patients with the AIDS virus.

Bridis has been an editor of The Associated Press’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington investigative team, which won the 2012 Pulitzer and Goldsmith prizes for investigative reporting on NYPD intelligence programs.

— The Palm Beach Post