Man pleads guilty to killing girlfriend, burning body

A South Carolina man has admitted to beating his girlfriend, stuffing her body into a suitcase and then burning it in a barrel last year.
  
News outlets report 23-year-old John Coddington of Fort Mill pleaded guilty Wednesday to murder in the death of 32-year-old Tiffany Williams and was sentenced to 45 years in prison as part of a plea deal.

Coddington, who first met Williams online, admitted to beating her in their apartment in December 2015 and watching her die.

Prosecutors say days later, Coddington tried to cover up the crime by burning Williams' body in Chester County. They say he also burned her clothes and personal belongings.

Top French Court Suspends Riviera Town's Burkini Ban

France's highest administrative court struck a blow against controversial 'burkini bans' Friday, upending one town's decision to prohibit the full-body swimsuit on its beaches.

The Council of State suspended the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet, just west of Nice, saying it "seriously, and clearly illegally, breached the fundamental freedoms to come and go, the freedom of beliefs and individual freedom."

The Riviera town was one of roughly 30 municipalities to forbid beachgoers from donning the swimsuit often worn by Muslim women, reporter Jake Cigainero tells our Newscast unit.

The ruling is expected to affect those other bans, The Associated Press reports. And a lawyer representing the Human Rights League — one of the groups that challenged Villeneuve-Loubet's ban — tells the news service that the decision "is meant to set legal precedent."

Appeals court hands loss to New Jersey sports betting effort

A federal appeals court has rejected New Jersey's attempt to legalize sports betting, setting aside the state's legal challenge to a federal ban.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling published Tuesday invalidates a law passed by New Jersey in 2014 that would have allowed sports betting at casinos and racetracks.

The four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA sued the state, claiming the expansion of legal sports betting would damage the integrity of their games and lead to game-fixing.

Currently, only Nevada offers betting on individual games. Delaware offers multigame parlay betting in which players must pick several games correctly to win. Hundreds of billions of dollars are bet illegally on sports annually.

The 3rd Circuit wrote Tuesday New Jersey's law violates a 1992 federal law.

Court agrees with tossing strict North Dakota abortion law

A federal appeals court agreed Wednesday that one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws is unconstitutional — a North Dakota statute banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
 
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a decision last year from U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland, who ruled the law unconstitutional. The law was approved by the Republican-dominated Legislature in 2013, though it was quickly put on hold after the state's lone abortion clinic filed a la

Several conservative states have passed restrictive abortion laws in recent years, but abortion rights supporters say North Dakota's 2013 fetal heartbeat law was the strictest in the country.

Supporters said the law was meant to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 ruling that legalized abortion until a fetus is considered viable, usually at 22 to 24 weeks. It wasn't immediately clear whether the state would appeal the case, though lawmakers have set aside $800,000 to defend the state's abortion laws.

"Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota's law) generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs," the appeals court ruling said.

Court Halts Execution Of Tyler Woman's Killer

The Texas Court of Criminal of Appeals halted the scheduled lethal injection of Clifton Lamar Williams until questions about some incorrect testimony at his 2006 trial can be resolved.

 Williams, 31, had faced execution Thursday evening for the killing of Cecelia Schneider of Tyler, about 85 miles east of Dallas. Investigators determined she had been beaten and stabbed before her body and her bed were set on fire.

 In a brief order, the court agreed to return the case to the trial court in Tyler to review an appeal from Williams' attorneys. They want to examine whether incorrect FBI statistics regarding DNA probabilities in population estimates cited by witnesses could have affected the outcome of Williams' trial.

 "We need time to look at this," said Seth Kretzer, one of Williams' lawyers. "No way we can investigate this in five hours.

 "It requires some time, and the CCA saw that."

 The Texas Department of Public Safety sent a notice June 30 that the FBI-developed population database used by the crime lab in Texas and other states had errors for calculating DNA match statistics in criminal investigations. The Texas Attorney General's Office informed Williams' attorneys of the discrepancy on Wednesday.

 Prosecutors in Tyler, in Smith County, had opposed Williams' appeal for a reprieve, telling the appeals court the state police agency insisted that corrected figures would have no impact. Williams is black, and prosecutors said the probability of another black person with the same DNA profile found in Schneider's missing car was one in 40 sextillion. Jurors in 2006 were told the probability was one in 43 sextillion. A sextillion is defined as a 1 followed by 21 zeros.

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