SEARCH

Wednesday
Jul062011

Man Set for Execution in Texas Despite Obama's Pleas for Delay

David J. Sams/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Lawyers for the Obama administration are taking the unusual step of asking the Supreme Court to delay the execution scheduled for Thursday of a Mexican national who is on death row in Texas.

Humberto Leal, who has lived in the United States since he was 2 years old, is set to be executed for the 1994 kidnapping, rape and murder of Adria Sauceda, a 16-year-old girl.

But Leal's case has been complicated by the fact that he and other Mexican nationals on death row across the country were never informed of their right to seek legal assistance from the Mexican consulate.  Such a failure of notification is a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations -- a treaty that the United States is a party to -- which says that foreigners in custody have the right to consular notification, communication and access.

"The violation of the Vienna Convention in Mr. Leal's case was no mere technicality," said Sandra Babcock, who serves as Leal's lead counsel. "The Mexican consulate would have provided experienced and highly qualified attorneys who would have challenged the prosecution's reliance on junk science to obtain a conviction and would have presented powerful mitigating evidence at the penalty phase, including expert testimony regarding Mr. Leal's learning disabilities, brain damage, and sexual abuse at the hands of his parish priest."

The case is generating interest at the highest levels of the U.S. government from officials who do not want to send a message abroad that foreigners in custody have no right to consular notification.  But it also has stirred a debate about the role of international courts and state death penalty convictions.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial body of the United Nations, determined that Leal and some 50 other Mexican Nationals on death row in the United States were entitled to judicial hearings to determine whether there had been a breach of their rights.

After the ruling, then President George W. Bush directed state courts to review the cases.  But Texas pushed back, arguing that U.S. state courts were not subject to the rulings of an International Court.

In 2008, the issue reached the Supreme Court, which said that Congress would have to pass legislation in order for the ICJ decision to be enforced.

But it was only last month that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the Consular Notification Compliance Act, which was meant to facilitate U.S. compliance with consular notification and provide judicial review for these particular foreign nationals who were denied access to their consulate.

As things stand now, the law has no chance of passing before the planned execution of Leal.  Only the Supreme Court or Gov. Rick Perry of Texas have the power to delay the execution and Perry has indicated that he is not sympathetic to the international court's finding.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul062011

Schwarzenegger to Give Maria Shriver a 'Generous Settlement'

Lee Celano/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning to give Maria Shriver a "very generous divorce settlement" that will be beyond what is required under California law, reports RadarOnline.com.

A source revealed to Radar, "Arnold realizes he is to blame for the collapse of his marriage.  Maria was a loving wife and mother, and he doesn't think that any amount of money can minimize what he has put her through."

With Schwarzenegger’s fortune estimated to be between $400 million and $700 million, Shriver could receive several hundred million dollars.

The source added, "This is going to be a very amicable divorce, and it won't be played out in the media.  Neither one of them wants that.  Arnold hasn't lost his mind, he is going to be giving away his fortune to her.  He wants to show his children that he is taking responsibility for his actions."

Shriver filed for divorce last week.  Schwarzenegger is expected to file his response to Shriver's petition within the next two weeks, as required by California state law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul062011

Casey Anthony Jury 'Not Interested' in Speaking to Media

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The seven women and five men who found Casey Anthony not guilty of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee declined to discuss the verdict that stunned court watchers.

Judge Belvin Perry, who presided over the trial, ordered that the jurors' names be barred from being made public until further notice.

"We are not releasing their names at this time.  They are asking you to respect their privacy," Karen Levey, the director of due process services for the Orange County circuit court, told a swarm of reporters waiting to hear from the jurors.  "They are just not interested...a universal, unequivocal no."

Levey said that Orange County sheriff officers would be transporting the 12 jurors back to their hotel, where they have been sequestered for more than six weeks.  The five alternate jurors also declined to speak publicly about the case.

Casey Anthony, who faced the possibility of the death penalty, was found not guilty of murdering Caylee.  The jury declined to convict her of either first degree murder or aggravated manslaughter of a child.

The jurors found Anthony, 25, guilty on four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement.  It's possible she could be released from prison for time served later this week.

The Casey Anthony jury has been a serious group throughout the trial, with some taking notes and others focused with laser-like intensity on the testimony, which has ranged from the dramatic to the tedious.

Due to the intense media coverage of the crime in the Orlando, Florida area over the last three years, the jurors were selected from a pool in nearby Pinellas County in early May, and bused to Orlando for the duration of the trial.  They have been sequestered and living out of an Orlando hotel since the trial began more than a month ago on May 20.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Al Qaeda-Linked Operative Held on US Navy Vessel in Secret for Two Months

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Last April in an operation off the coast of Africa, the U.S. military targeted a senior commander with the Al Shabaab terrorist group who acted as an envoy between al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, holding him in secret until Tuesday, when a federal indictment was announced by the Justice Department.

The man, identified as Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, is allegedly a top leader in the al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia, and has been acting as a go-between with al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).  The latter, Yemen-based group was behind the failed Christmas day bombing of a U.S. Airliner in 2009 and a plot to blow up cargo aircraft last year.
 
Warsame has been charged in a nine-count federal indictment filed in Manhattan with conspiracy charges, providing material support to Al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, carrying firearms in furtherance in crimes of violence, conspiracy to teach and demonstrate the making of explosives, and receiving military training from AQAP. 

Warsame was held on a U.S. Navy vessel and interrogated for intelligence purposes since he was detained by U.S. military special forces, who interdicted him as he returned to Somalia from Yemen on April 19, 2011. According to officials, Warsame was flown into the United States late on Monday night, and made a brief court appearance Tuesday after the indictment was unsealed against him.
 
In a statement, Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said, “As alleged, Ahmed Warsame was a conduit between al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- two deadly terrorist organizations -- providing material support to them both.”
 
If convicted of all the charges against him, Warsame could face life in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Casey Anthony Verdict: Family Gets Death Threats in Wake of Acquittal

Hand Out/ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Members of Casey Anthony's family received death threats Tuesday after the Florida woman was acquitted of murder in the death of her daughter, 2-year-old Caylee.

Mark Lippman, the attorney for George and Cindy Anthony, Casey Anthony's parents, told ABC News that the family has received death threats. Authorities are reportedly investigating the threats. No additional details were immediately available.

The verdict provoked shock and outrage, and the backlash was swift.

Spectators outside the courtroom comforted each other and cried, and one man remarking that Casey Anthony should leave town because she's not welcome in Orlando.

Law enforcement officials roped off a door where Cindy and George Anthony were expected to make their exit from the court, and bystanders chanted "Appeal! Appeal!" and "justice for Caylee."

One woman said, "[The verdict] is going to make millions of people think they can get away with killing their child. ...That isn't a good depiction of what our justice system is like or should be."

Jurors in the explosive murder trial headed into deliberations with plenty of forensic evidence and expert testimony to pore over. They also had seen a lot of family drama play out on the witness stand, including allegations by the defense team that Casey Anthony's father, George, and brother, Lee, had sexually molested her.

It also appeared that Cindy Anthony perjured herself in testimony about computer searches for the term "chloroform," and it was revealed that Casey Anthony told elaborate lies -- not just about the circumstances surrounding her daughter's disappearance, but about other aspects of her life as well.

A statement released Tuesday by Lippman on behalf of George, Cindy and Lee Anthony seems to demonstrate the family's conflict:

"While the family may never know what has happened to Caylee Marie Anthony, they now have closure for this chapter of their life," the statement reads.  "They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives. Despite the baseless defense chosen by Casey Anthony, the family believes that the Jury made a fair decision based on the evidence presented, the testimony presented, the scientific information presented and the rules that were given to them by the Honorable Judge Perry to guide them. The family hopes that they will be given the time by the media to reflect on this verdict and decide the best way to move forward privately."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Casey Anthony Verdict: Public Irate, Social Media Explodes with Opinion

ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- "She can kill her child and get away with it ... but I can't get married to my partner and adopt a child," Mark Walker wrote on his Facebook wall Tuesday mere seconds after Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first degree murder, manslaughter and child abuse.

"This is O.J. Number 2," one woman said outside the courtroom, where hundreds of people gathered to protest the jury's decision.

In New York's Times Square, a woman reacted tearfully to the trial's verdict: "She killed a little girl. So she gets off and, you know, and she goes home and maybe has another baby that she can abuse and hurt."

Even celebrities joined in the discussion, airing their own opinions of the verdict.

Kim Kardashian, whose father represented O.J. Simpson during his 1995 murder trial, wrote on Twitter, "WHAT!!!!???!!!! CASEY ANTHONY FOUND NOT GUILTY!!!! I am speechless!!!"

Sharon Osbourne was appalled: "Casey Anthony not guilty?? ... it's a disgrace. She'll probably get her own reality show now."

Such was the reaction from the public after jurors cleared Casey Anthony of the most serious charges against her in the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. Anthony was found guilty only on four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement. For those who felt the verdict was a miscarriage of justice, the anger quickly erupted onto Facebook and the Twittersphere.

As for why so many with no direct personal stake in the case expressed themselves so boldly after the verdict, some psychological experts say it is the media's fault.

"The main reason that people are reacting so strongly is that the media convicted Casey before the jury decided on the verdict," said Dr. Carole Lieberman, a forensic psychiatrist in the department of psychiatry at UCLA. "The public has been whipped up into this frenzy wanting revenge for this poor little adorable child. And because of the desire for revenge, they've been whipped up into a lynch mob."

While the jury decided that there was too much reasonable doubt to convict Anthony, Lieberman said nobody likes a liar, and Anthony was a habitual liar.

"And nobody liked the fact that she was partying after Caylee's death," said Lieberman. "Casey obviously has a lot of psychological problems. Whether she murdered her daughter or not is another thing."

Still, Lieberman said she is not aware of one news story that questioned whether Anthony could be innocent.

"In general, the public had the story made up in their minds, and it's hard for people to accept an outcome that is different than what they already decided, even though there wasn't enough evidence brought up to show that," said Lieberman.

Despite the evidence, or lack thereof, many were open about their feelings on the outcome of the case. Peg Streep, author of Mean Mothers, said she was personally shocked by the verdict.

"Ultimately the myths of motherhood -- combined with the descriptions of Casey as a good mother and the photos of a smiling baby with her mom -- apparently proved more convincing than the evidence the prosecution presented," said Streep.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Jared Loughner's Forced Medication Ordered Temporarily Halted

Pima County Sheriff's Department(PHOENIX) -- A federal appeals court has ruled that prison officials must temporarily stop administering anti-psychotic medication to Jared Lee Loughner, who is charged in the Arizona shooting that left six people dead and 13 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

Prison officials at the Bureau of Prisons had ordered the drugs as part of Loughner's treatment for mental illness. Lawyers for Loughner challenged the order.

While a lower court ruled that Loughner could be medicated, a panel of judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order on Friday that temporarily blocked the involuntary medication until both sides had a chance to brief the court on the issue. The court asked for briefs by Wednesday evening.

Those killed in the Jan. 8 shooting rampage included 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green and U.S. District Judge John Roll. Loughner was tackled and disarmed at the scene by bystanders, and has since been charged in a 49-count federal indictment.

Loughner has been undergoing treatment at a government mental facility in Springfield, Mo.

In May Loughner was found mentally incompetent to stand trial for the shooting rampage in Tucson.

Loughner, 22, who has delusions and hallucinations, is paranoid schizophrenic, according to mental health professionals. Loughner's mental health evaluation also found that he had an "irrational" distrust of his lawyers.

Prosecutors said they hoped Loughner would become mentally competent enough to stand trial.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Minnesota Government Shutdown: Neither Side Budging

DC Productions/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A bipartisan commission of former lawmakers was appointed Tuesday to seek a way around the budget impasse that has shut down the state of Minnesota.

But while the commission starts work to find a compromise to get the state's 20,000 employees back to work and reopen state parks, former Minnesota governor and current Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty encouraged Republicans to stand strong and launched a new campaign ad touting his role as governor in 2005's 10-day stalemate.

"Minnesota government shutdown. Why? Because Tim Pawlenty would not accept Democrats' massive tax and spending demands. Result: Pawlenty won," the ad boasts.

That shutdown was six years ago, but once again the North Star State's government has come to a screeching halt. As the current impasse entered its fifth day Tuesday, some of the state's leading politicians on both sides of the aisle weighed in on the problem.

While Pawlenty bragged about his work in the 2005 impasse and suggested the current stoppage is good for the state, former Vice President Walter Mondale -- a Democrat -- and former governor Arne Carlson -- a Republican -- started a committee to find a solution by week's end. The bipartisan panel will come up with "a third approach," Carlson told reporters, according to Bloomberg News.

In the state capital of St. Paul, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton was set to meet with the Republican leaders of Minnesota's GOP-controlled legislature. At issue is how to deal with the state's projected $5 billion deficit over the next two years. To reduce the shortfall, one of Dayton's proposals involves raising taxes on the rich, a move Republicans have opposed.

Dayton demanded that Republicans drop their focus on policies involving abortion and stem cell research and instead focus on "the fiscal side of things."

Amid all the partisan bickering, the shutdown continues -- with serious consequences for the Midwestern state. More than 20,000 state employees are now without work. State parks are shuttered. Construction projects paused. Highway rest areas are closed.

"This is a terrible situation," Dayton said.

The deadlock in Minnesota could be a preview of things to come in Washington. Lawmakers in the nation's capital are currently divided on how to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, while at the same time reaching an agreement to reduce the country's deficits going forward.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Roger Clemens Trial Set to Begin

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The trial for seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens begins Wednesday with jury selection, and the defense may be bolstered after indications that Judge Reggie Walton may limit questions to Clemens' former Yankee teammates about injections of performance enhancing drugs they reportedly received from former Yankee trainer Brian McNamee, the government's star witness in the case.

Judge Walton said that he is not likely to allow prosecutors to question Clemens' former Yankee teammates Chuck Knoblauch, Mike Stanton and Andy Pettitte, that they received injections of steroids and performance enhancing drugs from McNamee. The men are expected to be called as witnesses by federal prosecutors in the trial, which is expected to last four to six weeks. Clemens has stated that the injections were vitamin b12 and lidocaine. Walton said it may not be fair to Clemens to have the jury hear that all three of the teammates received performance enhancing drugs from McNamee. "If he did not know what he is receiving? That's a real danger." Walton said about Clemens and his defense.

Clemens was indicted last August on charges of obstruction of Congress, perjury and false statements as a result of testimony he gave to Congress regarding use of performance enhancing drugs, specifically steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH. Clemens is charged with making the false statements to congressional investigators in a Feb. 5, 2008 deposition. The perjury charges arose from his Feb. 13, 2008 testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Judge Walton also limited Clemens defense attorney's use of claims that Brian McNamee was involved in an alleged rape and sexual assault in October 2001 when McNamee was found in a pool with a woman who was incoherent. While McNamee was never charged in the incident, Clemens' defense team wanted to highlight that McNamee lied to police investigators about it.

The defense wants to impeach McNamee's credibility as the government's key witness, contending that McNamee was fearful of being linked to steroid dealer Kirk Radomski when federal investigators approached him in 2007. Clemens' lawyers wanted to show that McNamee was trying to save his own skin when he named Clemens as someone who he had allegedly provided steroids. Judge Walton told the lawyers that the defense could only refer to the alleged rape investigation as a "criminal investigation" to the jury.

McNamee cooperated with investigators for the Mitchell Report, which examined steroids in baseball on behalf of Major League Baseball. McNamee's claims in the report that he injected Clemens with steroids and growth hormone in 1998, 2000, and 2001 were among its most significant revelations. The report led to congressional hearings that saw Clemens squaring off with McNamee.

With jury selection expected to last several days, one issue that could delay the trial is a defense request to obtain audio recordings of Clemens interviews in February 2008 with House investigators. Prosecutors plan to read portions of the transcript of the interview to the jury, but the defense wants the audio tapes to be played. The issue is complicated by the fact that the recordings were made by the House Clerk's office. The transcripts were released when the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asked that the transcripts be made available as part of their investigation, but the audio recordings were never released. Judge Walton said he had concerns about trying to get them since the recordings would be protected by the Speech and Debate clause limiting the powers of the Executive branch to compel Congress to take certain actions. Walton urged the prosecutors to see if the committee would request that the audio recordings be released. Clemens' defense attorney Rusty Hardin said: "There is a lurking due process issue here--not being able to hear the tone and voice [of Mr. Clemens.]"

Opening arguments are scheduled for July 11.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Indiana Body Not Missing College Student Lauren Spierer

Blair Wallach(INDIANAPOLIS) -- The body found in an Indiana creek Sunday is not that of missing college student Lauren Spierer, the Marion County Coroner's Office in Indianapolis said Tuesday.

"It appears as though this is an African-American female and not that of Lauren Spierer," Chief Deputy Coroner Alfie Ballew said.

A forensic pathologist and forensic anthropologist have determined that the "physical structural characteristics" of the body, including bone structure of the face, dental structure of the mouth and hair on the head, indicate that the body does not belong to Spierer.

The autopsy is ongoing and the coroner's office will work with the Indianapolis Police Department to determine the victim's identity and cause of death. While the process, which will involve microscopic sampling, might take up to several weeks, the cause of death might never be determined.

The body was discovered Sunday night at Fall Creek, located about 65 miles north of Bloomington, Ind., where missing Indiana University student Spierer was last seen June 3.

Witnesses reportedly spotted the body floating in the water at the creek's edge just before 7 p.m.

"Once we find out who she is, then we can backtrack and try to determine the events that led to her demise," said Kendale Adams, Indianapolis police public information officer to ABC's local affiliate WRTV.

Spierer was last seen at 4:30 a.m. at the intersection of 11th street and College Avenue, walking home to her apartment after a night out at Kilroy's Sports Bar and, later, a friend's party. Surveillance footage from her apartment at Smallwood Plaza shows that she never returned home. The last trace of the missing student was her keys, found one block away from where she was last seen.

Police in Bloomington have named 10 persons of interest in their ongoing investigation, including Jesse Wolf, Spierer's boyfriend who first reported her disappearance, and Jason Rosenbaum, the last person to admit seeing Spierer.

Sunday marked one month since the 4-foot-11, 95-pound fashion major disappeared.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio