News Across America: Death row inmate sues Tampa police after wrongful conviction and kidney transplant halted by COVID vaccine

Morning In America

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Morning in America highlights communities from all across the country. Here are the top headlines you should know for Thursday, Oct. 7.

Tampa, Florida

Robert DuBoise, a former death row inmate who was exonerated after 37 years, is now suing the City of Tampa, officers on the case and a forensic consultant for allegedly framing him for the rape and murder of Barbara Grams.

DuBoise was 18 years old at the time and was convicted in 1985. According to the Florida Innocence Project, DuBoise was sentenced to death by Judge Harry Lee Coe III, despite a jury recommendation of a life sentence.

In August 2020, an attorney with the Conviction Review Unit in the Office of the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit found rape kit samples that had not been used during DuBoise’s trial. They were submitted for DNA testing by the Innocence Project and showed that DuBoise’s DNA was not present. Instead, genetic evidence in the sample came from two other men.

DuBoise was released from prison on Aug. 27, 2020.

Denver, Colorado

Leilani Lutali, a patient on the kidney transplant list, was moved to inactive status by the  University of Colorado Hospital for not receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Her living donor,  Jaimee Fougner, is also unvaccinated and UCHealth said both need to be vaccinated for the transplant process to continue. 

Lutali expressed religious concerns with the vaccines, as well as concerns that the vaccine would not be effective after receiving immunosuppressant drugs post-surgery.

“Both from a religious standpoint, and from doing some reading, I’m not certain that this is the right way to go,” she said. “The shot’s relatively new, and as a consumer, I’m not an early adopter, I wait and see what’s going on. I feel like I’m being coerced into not being able to wait and see, and that I have to take the shot if I want this life-saving transplant.”

The University of Colorado Hospital told Lutali she has 30 days to begin the vaccination series. If she decides to refuse COVID-19 vaccination she will be removed from the kidney transplant list. In that case, she will continue to accrue waiting time, but will not receive a kidney offer while listed as inactive.

Lancaster, South Carolina

A teacher in Lancaster County was hit in the back of her head by an elementary school student as part of a viral TikTok challenge, Lancaster School District officials said.

“This type of behavior is just like theft and destruction of property that is not a prank. It’s criminal behavior,” said Lancaster County School District and Transportation Director Bryan Vaughn.

Vaughn said students who physically assault a staff member will be held responsible “both legally and by board policy.” Assaulting a school staff member is an expellable offense.

“We share this information with parents so you can educate your kids on the issue and monitor their social media habits,” said Vaughn. “We also hope parents will speak with their kids about the serious repercussions of making poor decisions and peer pressure.”

Videos on the social media platform have shown similar or worse damage happening at schools around the country. TikTok said it was working to remove those videos.

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