Entries in Murder (19)


Murder Threat Against Movie Mogul and Others Uncovered

JB Lacroix/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Federal authorities say an aspiring actor has been arrested for trying to extort millions of dollars from movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and four other tycoons and their families by threatening to kill them if his demands for money were not met, the New York Post reports.

According to court papers, Vivek Shah, 25, was arrested Aug. 10 at his parents’ home in Schaumburg, Ill., before he was about to return to Los Angeles with plans to take handgun shooting lessons.

Authorities say Shah sent extortion letters to Weinstein, a Florida oil executive, a billionaire coal magnate, the daughter of a Texas oilman, and Eric Lefkofsky, the co-founder of Groupon.

Shah is currently being held without bail in West Virginia, where one of his alleged targets maintains a home.  Shah’s father, Mahesh Shah, tells the Post the allegations are “out of character,” and says his son is a “very good person.”

Vivek Shah is charged with two counts of interference with commerce by threats, and two counts of transmitting threatening communications in interstate commerce.

Weinstein co-founded Miramax Films and won an Academy Award as a producer in 1999 for Shakespeare in Love.  His producing credits include more than 250 TV and film projects, including Pulp Fiction and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Weinstein, the father of four daughters, declined to comment on the alleged extortion plot.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


William Balfour Found Guilty in Jennifer Hudson Family Murder Trial

(CHICAGO) -- A jury has found William Balfour guilty of murdering actress Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew in 2008.

Balfour, 30, was accused of killing the three in a jealous rage, believing that his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, Jennifer Hudson's sister, was dating another man.

The jury found Balfour guilty of all counts against him after some 18 hours of deliberations over three days.

Balfour, charged with three counts of first-degree murder and additional charges including kidnapping and burglary, pleaded not guilty. Convicted on all counts, he now faces life in prison.

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Jennifer Hudson, her fiance and her sister, Julia Hudson, entered the courtroom shortly before the verdict was to be read. The verdict came shortly after the jury told the judge that it was split, prompting the judge to tell jury members to resume deliberations in hopes of reaching an agreement.

The trial began on April 23 in Chicago. Prosecutors called more than 80 witnesses over two weeks, and the defense rested its case after 30 minutes, calling only two witnesses to the stand. Balfour did not testify.

Prosecutors alleged that Balfour fatally shot Hudson's mother Darnell Donerson, 57, in her living room, and then shot Hudson's brother Jason Hudson, 29, as he lay in bed. He then kidnapped Hudson's nephew Julian King, who was 7. Investigators believe the boy was shot in the head as he lay behind the front seat of an SUV.

Prosecuting State Attorney Veryl Gambino said Balfour was in a state of rage over Julia Hudson's dating another man, and said Balfour had issued several threats against her and her family. Balfour allegedly was enraged Oct. 24, 2008, after he saw balloons another man sent to Julia Hudson and punched them.

The killings happened in the family home in Chicago's tough Englewood neighborhood, where Jennifer Hudson grew up.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jennifer Hudson Gives Tearful Testimony at Murder Trial

John Shearer/WireImage(CHICAGO) -- Jennifer Hudson took the stand for nearly an hour Monday afternoon as the first witness in the Chicago trial of the man charged with killing her mother, brother and nephew.

"None of us wanted her to marry William," she said of her sister's marriage to defendant William Balfour, her voice cracking with emotion. "We did not like how he treated her."

Crying on the stand at one point, Hudson, who has vowed to attend every day of the trial, paused for a few seconds to compose herself. The award-winning actress and singer choked up when asked about her relationship with her mother, saying, "I slept with my mom until I was 16 years old." Hudson also testified she would sign blank checks and leave them for her mother, so that she could pay the household bills. 

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Hudson, 30, described the last time she saw her mother, a few days before the killings in the family home. She said she remembered it vividly because it was one of the few times that the entire family came over to share a meal. "Thank God I got that," she testified.

Hudson's voice cracked with emotion almost every time she spoke about her mother. At one point a deputy brought her a box of tissues and a cup of water.

Hudson testified that she knew something was wrong on the day of the killings in 2008 because her mother didn't text her that morning as she usually did by 9 a.m.

Despite her powerhouse of a singing voice, Hudson had to be instructed more than once to speak louder on the witness stand, even with a microphone in front of her.

Hudson said she learned of the killings from her sister, Julia, and flew back to Chicago to identify the bodies of her mother and brother at the medical examiner's office. She did the same thing a few days later for her 7 year-old nephew, for whom she said she had often babysat.

On cross examination, the defense asked Hudson about brother Jason Hudson's being shot in the past. The defense's opening statement painted a portrait of Jason, 29, as a drug dealer who "brought danger" to himself and his family.

After testifying for about 50 minutes, Hudson, who used a private entrance to gain access to court, sat in the gallery with fiance David Otunga and a bodyguard, in addition to two deputies who guarded the bench on which she sat.

Showing little emotion, Julia Hudson testified later that she knew Balfour was a drug dealer. "I eventually fell for him, after him being so persistent," she said of their relationship. They were married Dec. 30, 2006. She didn't invite or tell her mother, brother Jason or sister Jennifer about the wedding.

She testified that their relationship took a tumble after she returned from a trip to Japan with Jennifer promoting Dreamgirls in February 2007. She said she realized in the year after Japan that Balfour was having relationships with three other women. "It was not a secret, they would call, I would answer," she said.

She said her mother and Balfour "didn't get along."

"He was jealous," she said. "Wouldn't like anybody to do anything. Everything was a problem."

The jealousy apparently extended to her son from a previous relationship. "Julian couldn't kiss me. 'Don't kiss my wife,'" she said Balfour would tell her then-six-year-old son, Julian.

Balfour's trial opened Monday morning with State's Attorney Veryl Gambino recounting the defendant's alleged threat to his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, in the weeks preceding the killings: "If you leave me, I'll kill you. I'll kill your family first and then I'll kill you."

Gambino went on to describe Balfour as being enraged that Julia was dating another man and said he had issued several threats against her and her family, despite his being involved with two other women. Balfour allegedly went into a rage Oct. 24, 2008, after seeing balloons sent to Julia Hudson by another man and punched them.

After fatally shooting the actress' mother, Darnell Donerson, 57, in her living room, prosecutors allege, he shot Hudson's brother, Jason, as he lay in bed, before kidnapping her nephew, Julian. Investigators believe the boy was shot in the head as he lay behind the front seat.

Balfour has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder. His trial is expected to last a month.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Opening Statements to Begin in Jennifer Hudson Family Murder Trial

Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic(CHICAGO) -- Opening statements will be made Monday in the trial of the man charged with murdering Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew.

Prosecutors say William Balfour brutally murdered 57-year-old Darnell Donerson, Hudson’s mother; 29-year-old Jason Hudson, her brother; and 7-year-old Julian King, her nephew, in October 2008 in Chicago.  He is the estranged husband of the actress’ sister Julia Hudson.

Balfour, 30, has been charged with three counts of first degree murder and one count of home invasion.  He has pleaded not guilty.

Jennifer Hudson, 30, is expected to attend the trial every day, and she may even take the stand at some point.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former 'Survivor' Producer Extradited to Mexico in Wife's Death

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The former Survivor producer charged with killing his wife during a vacation in Cancun has been extradited to Mexico to await his trial.

Forty-year-old Bruce Beresford-Redman was released from a Los Angeles detention center then turned over to U.S. Marshals on Wednesday, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Beresford-Redman is charged with aggravated homicide in the death of Monica Beresford-Redman, whose body was found in a sewer at a Cancun resort in April of 2010.  They had been vacationing with their two children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Propofol Expert Claims Michael Jackson Gave Himself Fatal Injection

David McNew-Pool/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The final defense witness in the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's doctor was an expert in the anesthetic propofol who told the court Friday that he believes the pop star gave himself a fatal injection of the drug.

Dr. Paul White also said he saw no evidence of the prosecution's theory that Jackson died from an overdose of propofol administered through an IV drip that was set up by Dr. Conrad Murray.

But he also said that Murray should not have left the room with Jackson under the influence of propofol.

White was the last witness for Murray, who the prosecution blames for Jackson's death by giving him too much propofol and not properly monitoring Jackson while administering propofol.

The defense team contends that Murray was trying to wean Jackson off of propofol. They allege Jackson wanted propofol because he was suffering from insomnia brought on by withdrawal from the painkiller Demerol.

At the time of his death, Jackson was preparing for his "This is It" world tour, and exhaustion from that preparation also allegedly contributed to his insomnia.

White is not through testifying, though. He is expected to be called back to the stand and aggressively cross examined by prosecutors when the trial resumes Monday morning.

The jury is expected to begin deliberating on Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Man Pleads Not Guilty in Alleged Joss Stone Murder Plot

ROBERT VOS/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A 34-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from an alleged plot to murder British soul singer and former Tudors actress Joss Stone.

Kevin Liverpool entered the plea to charges of conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm and conspiracy to commit robbery, according to the UK's The Guardian.  His alleged conspirator, 31-year-old Junior Bradshaw, has not yet entered a plea.

The two men were arrested in June.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Austin Powers' Convicted Rapist Accused of Murdering Cellmate

Darrin Klimek/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The man who played Dr. Evil's henchman Random Task in the original Austin Powers movie -- and who was recently sentenced to life in prison for a brutal sex crime -- is now suspected of murdering his prison cellmate, according the The Los Angeles Times.

The newspaper says Joseph Hyungmin Son was behind bars with a 50-year-old sex offender who was found murdered in their cell at Wasco State Prison in central California on Monday.

Son was arrested in 2008 in connection with the gang rape and kidnapping of a 20-year-old woman in California on Christmas Eve in 1990.  He was sentenced to life in prison last month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Murray: 911 Call Would Have Neglected Michael Jackson

Al Seib-Pool/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Dr. Conrad Murray told police that Michael Jackson fell into a cardiac arrest when he left the singer briefly to go to the bathroom, and he didn't call 911 immediately because "to speak to a 911 operator would be to neglect" the singer.

Prosecutors at the trial over Jackson's death Friday played jurors Murray's recorded interview with police officers conducted two days after Jackson died of a drug overdose. The calm, methodical interview had never been played publicly and gave Jackson fans a chance to hear Murray's account of the singer's final moments alive.

Murray could face four years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the singer's death. The interview occurred on June 27, 2009 at the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey, Calif., where Murray's attorneys were staying.

"I love Mr. Jackson," Murray said. "He was my friend and he opened up to me in different ways, and I wanted to help him as much as I can. He was a single parent. ... I always thought about his children.

"I wanted to give him the best chance," said Murray of his efforts to save the singer.

Murray, at times, described his friend as a chemically addicted man who had a deep "pharmacological knowledge." He told police Jackson's veins were "dried up" like an old man's, making it difficult to find sites to inject an IV.

Of Jackson's health, he said that the singer was "very thin," had trouble with his right hip and suffered from a toe fungus.

When asked about whether Murray knew if Jackson saw any other doctors, Murray said, "He never disclosed that to me, but because he moved around so much, I would assume that he was."

That statement could raise juror's eyebrows. On nightstands next to the bed where Jackson died and where Murray administered propofol to the singer were vials of prescription pills prescribed by at least two other doctors besides Murray, according to pictures shown to jurors and trial testimony.

Murray said that when Jackson asked him to be his personal physician, accompanying him on his comeback tour dubbed "This Is It," he had no idea that he would spend six nights a week administering the powerful anesthetic, propofol, to the singer.

"That was not my purpose of joining his team," Murray told police. "I was there to help him, and I was going to be available should something go wrong.

"What I was recognizing was Michael Jackson might have had a dependency to a substance," Murray added. "I was trying to wean him off."

Murray told police that in the three days before Jackson died, he had begun the weaning process. He said that the first day, he gave Jackson a small dose of propofol and on the second day, he gave him no propofol at all. But on the third day, Jackson returned from a night of rehearsing and he was wide awake.

The doctor had been summoned to Jackson's home after midnight on June 25, 2009, the day Jackson died. Jackson entered the home a short time later after rehearsing at the Staples Center.

Jackson told Murray that he was tired and felt fatigued. He told the doctor, "I'm treated like I'm a machine. ... Let me just have a quick shower and change and I'll come back to you."

When Jackson returned, Murray rubbed his body with cream to treat the singer's vitiligo, a condition that discolors the skin. The singer took a valium and Murray put an IV near Jackson's knee and began administering doses of two sedatives, lorazepam and midazolam.

At 3 a.m., Jackson was still awake.

"I said: How about if you try to meditate?" Murray told police. "Let's change the lighting of the room, let's lower the music ... let me rub your feet and try to relax."

Jackson fell asleep for 10 or 15 minutes and awakened again. Murray said that nothing seemed to be working to get the singer to sleep, that he double-checked Jackson's IV because he couldn't understand how he was still awake after receiving several doses of the sedatives.

After 10 a.m., Jackson told Murray, "Please give me some milk so I can sleep because I know that's all that works for me."

Milk was Jackson's nickname for the white-colored propofol.

Finally, at 10:50 a.m., Murray said Jackson finally fell asleep after he administered the propofol.

"I made sure that there was oxygen on the bedside. ... I had a pulse oximeter ... that shows the amount of oxygen that he has in his blood and also allows me to look at the heart rate," Murray told investigators.

Murray said he gave Jackson just 25 milligrams of propofol.

Prosecutors say that Murray recklessly administered the drug and didn't properly monitor Jackson. They claim the oxygen tank was empty and that the pulse oximeter didn't have an audible alarm to alert someone if something was wrong.

Murray's phone records and the testimony of his girlfriends revealed that he exchanged texts and calls with at least four women on the morning Jackson died.

Murray told investigators that he went to the bathroom for a short time and returned to a lifeless Jackson.

Murray said he immediately began trying to ventilate Jackson through CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He added that because Jackson didn't have a landline, it made it difficult to call for help.

"To speak to a 911 operator would be to neglect him," he said. "I want to ventilate him, do chest compressions enough to give him an opportunity."

He said that he felt a pulse in Jackson's groin area and administered CPR on Jackson's bed because he couldn't move him to the floor alone.

He said that while he administered CPR with one hand, he called Jackson's assistant on his cell phone for help but didn't advise him to call 911. Eventually, a bodyguard would run into the bedroom and call 911.

Murray showed little emotion as the tape played. The police interview followed the playing of surveillance video of Murray leaving the UCLA Medical Center after Jackson was declared dead.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


No Prints: So How Did Michael Jackson Drug Himself?

Kevin Mazur/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- None of the fingerprints on propofol bottles found in Michael Jackson's bedroom or in his doctor's possession belonged to the King of Pop, sources close to the investigation told ABC News.

That revelation might deal a crippling blow to Dr. Conrad Murray's defense theory that Jackson himself took a lethal dose of propofol and the sedative lorazepam without Murray's knowledge, creating a "perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly." Murray is on trial for Jackson's death and could face four years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

In opening statements, defense attorney Ed Chernoff told jurors that Murray was actually trying to wean Jackson off the milky anesthetic and that he had given him only 25 mg of the drug June 25, 2009, the day the singer died.

"When Dr. Murray came into the room and found Michael Jackson, there was no CPR, there was no doctor, no paramedic, no machine that was going to revive Michael Jackson," Chernoff said. "He died so rapidly, so instantly, he didn't even have time to close his eyes."

Prosecutors contend that Murray was reckless in his care of Jackson and that he failed to properly monitor the singer. Propofol is typically administered in a hospital setting, to sedate patients for surgery. Prosecutors also argued that Murray did not let first responders and doctors know that he was treating Jackson with propofol.

Meanwhile, Murray's former girlfriends, Nicole Alvarez and Sade Anding, are expected to take the stand Tuesday. The prosecution says Murray had phone conversations with the women on the day Jackson died. He also had bottles of propofol shipped to Alvarez's Santa Monica, Calif., home. Murray's one-time girlfriend Bridgette Morgan told jurors Monday that she called Murray on the day of Jackson's death, but that he didn't pick up the phone.

Monday's testimony in the manslaughter trial centered on the efforts of emergency room doctors at UCLA Medical Center to revive an already dead king of pop.

Cardiologist Thao Nguyen said Murray "sounded desperate" and "looked devastated" in the hospital. Both Nguyen and Dr. Richelle Cooper said that Jackson appeared dead when they saw him and that he showed no signs of life throughout their efforts to restart his hearth.

Nguyen also testified that when she began to ask Murray questions, he was not able to tell her the time Jackson stopped breathing, when medication was administered to him that day, or the interval of time between the two events.

She added that when she "specifically asked" Murray if Jackson had taken any other sedatives or narcotics, "his reply was negative."

The defense did appear to bolster their argument when one of the emergency room doctors said that even if she had known that Jackson had taken propofol, she would not have been able to revive the singer.

"Had Dr. Murray told you he had given 25 mg of propofol at 10:30, would it have altered your treatment of Michael Jackson?" asked defense attorney Michael Flanagan.

"No," answered the Dr. Cooper, who was on duty at UCLA Medical Center's emergency room the night Jackson died.

"Would that have altered the result that happened to Michael Jackson?" Flanagan asked.

"As I said, Mr. Jackson died long before he became my patient," Cooper answered. "Knowing more, it's still unlikely I could have done something different to him."

Murray told Cooper that he was treating the singer for dehydration and that Jackson had no history of health problems, witnesses have testified.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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