Poll: Majority of Republicans want legal marijuana

WASHINGTON — Almost two-thirds of Americans think marijuana should be legal, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

That represents the highest number in the nearly 50 years since the polling organization began asking about the issue, according to a press release.

The findings come as four states prepare to vote on November ballot initiatives that would increase momentum behind legalization of the drug for recreational and medical use.

Voters in Michigan and North Dakota will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use. Missouri has three initiatives on the ballot that would legalize marijuana for medical use. And Utah has a medical marijuana measure on its ballot.

Democrats and independents remained more likely than Republicans to say marijuana should be legalized, the poll found. But for the first time, a majority of Republicans — 51 percent — also expressed support for legalization. That’s up 9 percentage points from last year.

The Gallup figures were based on poll conducted Oct. 5-11. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

— CQ-Roll Call

Teen accused of beheading his mother found not guilty, sentenced to psychiatric care

The Franklin County, N.C., teen charged with beheading his mother in 2017 has been judged not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to state psychiatric care.

At his hearing in Louisburg on Monday, Oliver Funes Machada stood and told Superior Court Judge Henry Hight Jr., “I just want to say I’m sorry,” according to a video feed from WRAL. “Let’s hope God forgives me.”

Machada, 18 at the time of the slaying, called 911 and told emergency dispatchers he had killed his mother “because I felt like it.” Sheriff Kent Winstead reported at the time that the teen walked out of the house holding his mother’s head and a large butcher knife.

Prosecutors dropped first-degree murder charges last year and transferred him to Central Regional Hospital in Butner to evaluate his fitness to go forward in the case. Hight noted that he had received extended psychiatric treatment twice before the crime.

At a hearing Monday, a doctor at Central Regional described him as extremely delusional, believing that he was acting on instructions from God. At times during Machada’s treatment, his physician said, he paced naked in his room and barked like a dog. The doctor said he would not want to see the defendant outside of a secure setting.

At the hearing, Hight concluded Machada suffered from a psychotic illness that led to the killing.

“He said ‘Jesus wanted it to happen,’” Hight said. “’He would have stopped me if he didn’t want it to happen.’”

— The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

Florida woman relaxing in a hammock is killed by a falling palm tree

A woman who just wanted to relax in a hammock ended up dead under the weight of a toppled palm tree.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, a visitor to Egmont Key Park Saturday afternoon was lying down and relaxing when the palm tree supporting the hammock came crashing down on her.

The woman, identified as 20-year-old Isabel Melendez, was taken to a hospital. The Tampa woman died there of her injuries.

“The death does not appear to be suspicious,” according to the sheriff’s office.

— Miami Herald

Farting felon pleads guilty to federal gun and drug charges in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A man whose flatulence-filled police interview was memorialized in court documents pleaded guilty Monday to federal gun and drug charges.

Sean A. Sykes Jr., 25, was charged last year in U.S. District Court in Kansas City with possession with intent to sell cocaine, heroin and marijuana, and with being a felon in possession of three firearms, two of which were reported stolen.

On Monday, Sykes pleaded guilty to the drug possession charge and a charge of using a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime.

The charges stem from a September 2017 traffic stop by Kansas City police near 39th Street and Warwick Boulevard.

Sykes was a passenger in a car where officers found a backpack with the drugs and guns, including a .357 Magnum that had been reported stolen from a car in Independence a few days earlier, according to court documents.

A Kansas City police detective who interviewed Sykes wrote in his report that when he asked Sykes about his address, “Mr. Sykes leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering with the address.”

“Mr. Sykes continued to be flatulent and I ended the interview,” the detective wrote.

Sykes will be sentenced at later date, after a pre-sentence report is completed.

— The Kansas City Star