Rape conviction reversed, based partly on 1872 law

A California appeals court overturned the rape conviction of a man who pretended to be a sleeping woman’s boyfriend, ruling, in part, Wednesday that an arcane law from 1872 doesn’t protect unmarried women in such cases.

A panel of judges reversed the trial court’s conviction of Julio Morales and remanded it for retrial, in a decision posted Wednesday from the Los Angeles-based court.

Morales had been sentenced to three years in state prison. He was accused of entering a woman’s bedroom late one night after her boyfriend had gone home and initiating sexual intercourse while she was asleep, after a night of drinking.

“Has the man committed rape? Because of historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition of rape, the answer is no, even though, if the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband, the answer would be yes,” Judge Thomas L. Willhite Jr. wrote in the court’s decision.

The decision also urges the Legislature to examine the law.


Same-sex marriage likely to win approval next week

The showdown in Illinois over same-sex marriage is largely symbolic. Most of the rights afforded to gay couples by legislation pending in Springfield already are guaranteed under the state’s “civil unions” law.

But if the General Assembly approves the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act next week — as now seems likely, after a committee victory Thursday — such unions will be called marriages.

Some opposing religious leaders warn of a violation of “natural order.” Some supportive African-American leaders see in the issue an echo of old debates over interracial marriage.

It’s even drawn in the nation’s most prominent convert on the gay-marriage issue, President Obama, who took the extraordinary step of publicly encouraging his former colleagues in the Illinois legislature to pass a specific bill.

Proponents appear ready to heed that advice next week, after pushing the bill through the Senate Executive Committee on Thursday. It would make Illinois the 10th state to fully recognize same-sex marriage.


School official resigns after parking lot incident

A Georgia school board member resigned Thursday after coming under fire for allegedly ramming a teen-ager with her SUV during a dispute over a parking space.

Angela Cornett, 41, was arrested a week ago and charged with reckless conduct. Cornett had steadfastly said she didn’t intentionally ram the teen outside the Cartersville Walmart, but the incident — which has attracted national attention and local outrage — was caught on the store’s surveillance video.

The video, released by the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, shows 17-year-old Emily Gulledge standing in a parking space as a white Lexus SUV approaches.

Gulledge said Cornett, a Bartow County school board member, told her to move. “I didn’t think she was going to hit me,” she told “The Today Show” on Thursday. “I politely told her that I was holding the space. She tells me to move again and rams me.”

Photos released by the Sheriff’s Office show black grime on the girl’s pants. She was not hurt.

Cornett “just felt it was in the best interest of her, her family and the school district” to resign, effective immediately, her attorney said.


Woman denies involvement in 2008 murder of boyfriend

A woman charged with killing her motivational speaker ex-boyfriend in a jealous rage in Arizona in 2008 calmly denied any involvement in the gruesome slaying in a recorded telephone call with a detective that was played for jurors Thursday.

Jodi Arias, 32, could become the fourth woman on Arizona’s death row if she’s convicted of killing Travis Alexander. Prosecutors said she shot him in the face, stabbed and slashed him nearly 30 times and slit his throat in a volatile, jealousy-fueled attack.


— From news service reports