SEARCH

Wednesday
Oct052011

October 5th is America's Most Popular Birthday

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly 1 million Americans will be blowing out birthday candles today. Oct. 5 is the most common birthday in the United States, according to a survey conducted by AnyBirthday.com.

On any given day, an estimated 750,000 Americans celebrate a birthday, but today, more than 960,000 will do so, the website says. Among them are some famous faces, including Julie Andrews, Kate Winslet, and Nicky Hilton.

But why is Oct. 5 such a popular day for babies entering the world? One need only think about New Year's Eve. The length of an average pregnancy is around 274 days. Counting backward, the date of conception for Oct. 5 babies would be that holiday known for parties, champagne, and -- at least according to the data -- a little more than a simple smooch at midnight.

Conversely, the website found that the most uncommon birthday is May 22, although it gave no explanation as to why.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

Gunman Kills Two, Injures Four at California Quarry

AbleStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Two people are dead and four have been injured at a shooting at a quarry in Northern California early Wednesday morning, officials and witnesses said.

An employee arrived at a safety meeting at Hanson Permanente quarry in Cupertino with an automatic rifle and opened fire. The shooter may still be on the loose.

Most, if not all of the wounded are in critical condition, according to ABC's San Francisco affiliate KGO-TV. 

There are unconfirmed reports that that the shooter is still in the quarry making threats to continue shooting.

Police have the road that leads up to the quarry blocked off.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

Missing Missouri Baby: Amber Alert Cancelled as Search Continues

Kansas City Police(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- Police have cancelled an Amber Alert for a missing 10-month-old infant believed to have been abducted from her crib in Kansas City, Mo., though the investigation and search for her continues.

Over 100 Kansas City police officers and FBI agents are searching for Lisa Irwin, the missing infant who was last seen at 10:30 p.m. on Monday asleep in her crib at her parents' home.  The massive search has also included canines, mounted patrol, a fugitive unit, and a narcotics and vice unit.  Police issued the alert for Lisa Irwin early Tuesday morning.

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday police pulled the Amber Alert, which is meant to immediately inform the public of a missing minor who is believed to be at risk of serious injury or death.

"Although the investigation and search for Lisa Irwin continues, an active Amber Alert is no longer necessary in this case.  Lisa Irwin is still considered a missing/endangered juvenile," police Sgt. Stacey Graves said in a news release.

Kris Ketz with ABC's Kansas City affiliate KMBC-TV reported late on Tuesday that the K-9's were finished searching for the night and that the police search will continue Wednesday morning.

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, police Capt. Steve Young said that police have exhausted everything possible at the original scene.  Young also said that there have been no indications at this point that the parents' story is "hinky" or problematic.  Lisa's mother was taken to police headquarters earlier on Tuesday for questioning and her father was not, but Young could not say why.

"You can say they are being held, but you can also say they are being cooperative," Young said.  "They're an essential part of the investigation, and we're continuing to talk to them."

Young confirmed that a neighbor said they saw someone walking down the street at night with a baby in a diaper, but he did not know if this tip had led investigators to any more information.  He said investigators do not have any "hard leads" or suspects yet.

Lisa's mother put her down to sleep at approximately 10:30 p.m. Monday night, according to police.  When Lisa's father arrived home from work at around 4 a.m., he went into her room to check on her and discovered she was missing.  The parents immediately called police.

"They saw the window and the screen appeared that it was tampered with," Officer Darin Snapp, public information officer for the Kansas City Police, told ABC News.

Authorities believe Lisa has been abducted and that the suspect entered and exited through the bedroom window. Police said there is no indication that anything else was taken from the house.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

NYC Helicopter Crash: Victim Identified as British Woman on Birthday Tour

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A woman visiting New York to celebrate her 40th birthday died trapped in the back seat of the helicopter that spun out of control and plunged into New York City's East River on Tuesday.

The passengers were four members of a British family on holiday to celebrate Sonia Marra Nicholson's birthday.

The other three passengers were Nicholson's partner Helen Tamaski, her mother Harriet Nicholson and her stepfather Paul Nicholson, officials said.

Tamaski is in critical condition at Bellevue hospital.  Harriet Nicholson is also at Bellevue and in stable condition.  Paul Nicholson, 72, is in stable condition at New York University Hospital.

Paul and Harriet Nicholson are British citizens who live in Portugal and Sonia Marra Nicholson and Helen Tamaski were living in Australia.

Three family members and the chopper pilot were almost immediately pulled ashore Tuesday afternoon while divers searched frantically for the final passenger.  Rescue personnel immediately began performing heart compressions on one of the individuals initially pulled from the water and who appeared to be unconscious.

Sonia Marra Nicholson was recovered more than two hours after the crash at 5 p.m. and pronounced dead.

"I just hope it is the only fatality and our prayers are with those in the hospital," New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The Bell 206 helicopter took off from a heliport at 34th Street.  Joy Garnett told ABC News's New York affiliate WABC-TV that she saw the chopper lift off and almost immediately begin to spin around several times and then plunge into the river.

"He took off and spun," one official said.  The pilot tried to turn it around and land, but he missed by 40 feet, officials said.  The chopper landed in 50 feet of water and sank within minutes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

Petit Home Invasion Trial: Will Joshua Komisarjevsky Take the Stand?

Connecticut State Police(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Lawyers for Joshua Komisarjevsky are poised to begin the defense of their client in the triple murder case after the prosecution has presented overwhelming and often sickening evidence against him.

To avoid having Komisarjevsky sentenced to death, the defense has taken unusual steps from a combative approach to the victims' family to repeatedly seeking a mistrial.  Several defense experts raise the possibility that Komisarjevsky's defense team could take the even more daring tactic of putting him on the stand.

Komisarjevsky, 31, is on trial for having broken into the home of Dr. William Petit on July 23, 2007 along with accomplice Steven Hayes.  Hayes was convicted last year for his role in the crimes and given the death penalty.  He is currently serving his sentence on Connecticut's death row.

During the home invasion, they beat Dr. Petit about the head with a baseball bat and then tied him up.  They raped and strangled Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48.  Their two daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, were tied to their beds for hours and terrorized.  Komisarjevsky admitted to sexually molesting Michaela Petit.

The house and the girls' bodies were doused with gasoline and the home was set on fire.  Dental records had to be used to identify Hawke-Petit's body.  And experts have testified that the death of the young girls was sure to be agonizing.

The job of Komisarjevsky's legal team -- Jeremiah Donovan, Walter Bansley III and Todd Bussert -- won't be easy.  Their client gave a 90-minute long audio taped statement to police.  He wrote a diary in jail which became part of a book in which he appeared to taunt Dr. Petit, the sole survivor of that night.

Their client is so reviled that the legal trio have referred to themselves as the most hated men in Connecticut.

Attorneys in the case are under a gag order so ABC News talked to several prominent Connecticut defense attorneys on what possible strategy the Komisarjevsky defense team might use.

"They are going to try to hang the jury up on whether or not Komisarjevsky was merely an accessory to the murder of a child or if he had a hand in committing the murders himself.  If he's only an accessory, the defense will say he ought not to be killed," said Norman Pattis, one of the highest profile criminal defense attorneys in Connecticut.

They will blame Hayes for the violence, Pattis said.  It was Hayes who bought the gas, Hayes who poured the gas in the family home and Hayes who lit the house on fire, they will argue.

Donovan is known as bold strategist in the courtroom, said Pattis, and it is possible that he will try something risky on the stand.  "He has nothing to lose," said Pattis.  And that could include putting his client on the stand.

The defense is expected to begin its case on Wednesday.  Closing arguments could come as early as Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

Judge to CIA Contractor: No Gunslinging in Colorado

Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images(DENVER) -- Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor who sparked a months-long international drama when he shot and killed two men in broad daylight on the streets of Pakistan in January, appeared in a Denver court Tuesday after being charged with a felony for his part in a skirmish in a bagel shop parking lot.

Rob McCallum, a spokesman for the court who attended the hearing, told ABC News Davis was calm as he was read the charges against him, including second degree assault -- a felony that carries a minimum mandatory sentence of five years in prison.  He was taken into custody after the hearing and a Colorado judge set bond at $10,000.

During a discussion of one provision of the assault charge -- specifically one that would at least temporarily strip Davis of his personal firearm -- an attorney for Davis revealed that after his troubled experience working for the CIA in Pakistan, Davis has become a firearms instructor often working in the Washington, D.C., area.  The judge ruled that Davis would be allowed to use his firearm, but not in Colorado and only under supervision in the D.C. area, McCallum said.

Davis has not pleaded in the case and is not expected back in court until a preliminary hearing in December.  An attorney for Davis, William Frankfurt, did not respond to requests for comment for this report.

Davis has already been the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for the deadly Pakistan shooting -- part of a promise Sen. John Kerry made to Pakistani officials in an effort to secure Davis' release from Pakistani prison in February.  But a spokesperson for the DOJ refused to answer any of ABC News' questions Monday on the status of that investigation, seven months after Davis came home.

According to police, Davis, 37, and another man who identified himself as Jeff Maes, got into a verbal then physical altercation over a parking spot in front of a Denver bagel shop over the weekend.

"He literally parked his car behind me and started shouting at me and I said, 'You need to relax.'  And he got out of the car," Maes told ABC News' Denver affiliate 7News.  "When I got hit, I went back, I hit my back straight on the concrete and then, I don't know, I must've got up.  I looked, he's standing there and I got up to defend myself and started again."

Maes said his two daughters, six and eight years old, cried after witnessing the fight.

Police arrested Davis and initially charged him with a pair of misdemeanors, noting that he was "the aggressor" in the fight.  He was released on $1,750 bond, but Monday a Colorado district attorney announced Davis was to be charged with second degree assault.  He is also charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, the DA's office said.

For a man whose job was to stay in the shadows, Davis found himself at the center of international spotlight for weeks after he was arrested in Pakistan Jan. 27 following the fatal shooting of two men on the streets of Lahore, Pakistan.

Davis was charged with the double murder and quickly questions emerged about who he was and for whom he worked.  The official U.S. government line -- even reaching as high as President Obama -- was that Davis was just a "diplomat" who believed he was being robbed and should have been released due to diplomatic immunity.

But nearly a month after his arrest, U.S. officials told ABC News Davis was actually an independent contractor working for the CIA in Pakistan.

As high-level negotiations strained and the already rocky relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan worsened, the U.S. found an unusual way out of the diplomatic rift in March: the payment of "blood money" to the victims of the crime in exchange for Davis' release -- a somewhat common practice sanctioned by Pakistani law.

Both the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, whose officers arrested Davis, and the district attorney's office, which charged him with the felony, told ABC News that Davis' notoriety or government connections would not impact the proceedings against him.

"It doesn't matter who you are, you're all treated the same," Douglas County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Sgt. Ron Hanavan said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct042011

Amanda Knox 'Overwhelmed' as She Returns Home to Seattle

ABC News(SEATTLE) -- Amanda Knox, acquitted Monday after four years in an Italian jail for a murder she has steadfastly claimed she didn't commit, returned to Seattle Tuesday evening and told friends and supporters she was "overwhelmed" to be home.

"They're reminding me to speak in English because I'm having problems with that," Knox said, her voice trembling. "I'm really overwhelmed right now. I was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like everything wasn't real."

Standing at a podium in front of her family and lawyers, dressed in a loose gray sweater over a black t-shirt, Knox added, "What's important for me to say is just thank you to everyone who has believed in me, who has defended me, who has supported my family. ... My family's the most important thing to me right now and I just want to go and be with them."

She took no questions and left the room with her family.

Knox's arrival back home capped an emotional rollercoaster for the 24-year-old woman. Her legs buckled and she nearly collapsed when the Italian court threw out her murder conviction,  releasing her from prison for the first time in four years.

Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted in 2009 of killing Knox's British roommate Meredith Kercher. Knox had been serving a 26-year prison term and Sollecito a 25 year sentence.

After being hustled out of the courtroom crying and stumbling, Knox emerged back at Cappane prison where she was greeted with an exuberant welcome from the inmates.

Corrado Maria Daclon, secretary general of the USA Italy Foundation, said he engineered Knox's departured from the prison, an overnight stay near Rome and getting her to plane under the radar of the media.

"The foundation had been working on the plans to get Amanda out of jail for 20 days, carefully studying how to get her out of jail, her arrival in Rome, transfer to the airport, her arrival and transit through nonpublic area of the airport," Daclon said.

Knox thanked Daclon and her supporters in a letter released Tuesday.

"To hold my hand and offer the support and respect through the barriers and controversies of the Italians. There was the Italy USA Foundation, and many who have shared my pain and helped me to survive on hope," Knox wrote.

"I am forever grateful for their caring hospitality and their courageous efforts. Those who wrote to me, who defended me, who stayed close to me, who prayed for me. We are forever grateful. I love you. Amanda," the letter read.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct042011

Ex-Archives Worker Sold Recordings on eBay

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A man entrusted for four decades with guarding the nation’s most treasured historical records might spend the next 10 years in prison after stealing hundreds of recordings and selling them online.

Leslie Charles Waffen, formerly one of the top officials at the National Archives, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he put stolen sound recordings up for sale on eBay.

“This case is especially egregious because the defendant was a high-ranking government employee who violated his obligation to protect historical records,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a prepared statement announcing the plea deal. “These items were entrusted to the National Archives to be used by all citizens, not to be auctioned for personal profit to the highest bidder.”

Investigators say they uncovered Waffen’s “eight-year scheme” in September when he sold a 1937 tape of New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth.

Waffen, 66, sold the recording on eBay for $34.74 under the username “hi-fi_gal.” Federal agents, tipped off to the sale, obtained the tape and traced it back to his work at the National Archives in College Park, Md. They watched and waited and in the next few weeks agents noticed “hi-fi_gal” selling other Archives properties on eBay.

Agents raided Waffen’s home Oct. 26, 2010 in Rockville, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C. Archives investigators and U.S. Marshals loaded a moving truck with boxes holding 6,153 recordings seized from Waffen’s basement.

As part of the plea deal, Waffen has agreed to forfeit at least 955 of the recordings and will reimburse the federal government for the “full amount of the loss.”

The Archives has hired appraisers to calculate the value of what’s been sold.

Inspector General Paul Brachfeld of the National Archives and Records Administration declined to say what else Waffen stole until after his sentencing March 5. But he hopes the former archivist receives “the strongest sentence possible,” 10 years in prison.

“We want to put people on notice,” Brachfeld told ABC News. “If they steal from our collection, we are going to put them in prison.”

Until last summer, Waffen had spent five years as chief of the Motion Picture, Sounds and Video Recording Branch at the National Archives.  As noted in this New York Times article from 2004, the unit has custody of sound and video recordings of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, including the famed “Zapruder film.” He first began working for the National Archives in 1969.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct042011

Alabama Immigration Law Causes Hispanics to Leave Schools

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) -- Alabama schools are seeing abnormally high rates of absences for Hispanic students after what is widely considered the toughest anti-immigration law in America went into effect.

The law, which was approved by the state legislature and widely backed by voters, allows police to check for papers and detain undocumented residents without bail. It also mandates that public schools share with authorities the citizenship status of all newly enrolled students.

Keith Ward, spokesperson for Huntsville City Schools, one of the largest school districts in the state with 23,000 students, told ABC News that of the 1,435 Hispanic students enrolled in Huntsville schools, 207 were absent last Thursday, the day the law took effect.

As of Monday, that number had decreased to 111, according to Ward. It is still substantially above the average of 20 to 40 absences for Hispanic students for a given week prior to the law. Ward expects the number of Hispanic absences to continue to decrease as the week continues and then plateau.

He credits the decline to the rapid outreach of Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardynski.

"The superintendent tried to reach out and explain the law...in terms of what the law means for schools," said Ward. "We have no control over the other aspects of the law."

Wardynski took to YouTube and the district's cable access channel in both English and Spanish on Sept. 30.

"This bill that was passed by our state is really about gathering statistics, it's not about coming to anybody's house, taking anybody away," he said. "The schools are not enforcing extradition."

Under the law, schools are required to ask new students for either a birth certificate or proof they are in the country legally. However, if they are unable to provide proper documentation they are still able to attend school and neither the students nor the parents will be arrested.

"This is just one additional check mark on a registration form," Ward said.

The school then provides statistical information to the state about the number of students who were unable to provide documentation.

The state made available formal letters that schools can send to parents of new students that clarify the requirements of the law and informs parents that they should not be concerned if they are unable to provide citizenship documents or sworn statements.

"Rest assured," reads the letter, "that it will not be a problem if you are unable or unwilling to provide either of the documents."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct042011

Death Row Inmate Says Lawyers from Elite Firm Abandoned Him

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday centering on a death row inmate’s claim that his lawyers from an elite law firm abandoned his case without notice, causing him to miss a critical deadline for appeal.

The case centers on Alabama death row inmate Cory Maples, who was convicted of murdering Stacy Alan Terry and Barry Dewayne Robinson II in 1995.

After his conviction Maples thought he had won the lottery when two out-of-state lawyers from an elite New York law firm offered to represent him in post-conviction proceedings. Maples hoped for a new trial based on claims that his trial lawyers had been ineffective for failing to present evidence of his history of mental health problems as well as his intoxication at the time of the crime.

After months of hearing nothing on his case Maples learned that he’d missed an important appeals deadline. Worse, he learned that the two lawyers he thought were representing him had left their top shelf firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, and failed to properly notify the court or their client.

Maples later learned that the clerk of the court had sent the lawyers a notice of the deadline, but the notices had come back unopened in the mail with the words “return to sender” and “left the firm” written on the envelope.

Upon learning that his lawyers had missed the deadline Maples scrambled to have the deadline extended, given the circumstances. But the courts rejected his request for an extension and reaffirmed their dismissal of his case.

Maples’ new attorney, former Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre, told the justices on Tuesday that his client’s case should not have been dismissed.

Garre said that the former lawyers actions rose “to the level of abandonment” and called the facts of the case “shocking” and “extraordinary.”

Garre pointed out that not only did the two lawyers abandon their client and fail to notify the court that they were no longer following the case, but when the Clerk of the Court received both notices back marked unopened he did nothing to follow up the issue.

Garre acknowledged that there was a local counsel assigned to the case, but he said that the lawyer was merely serving as a liaison to the New York lawyers as was then required by Alabama law. Garre said that the local attorney had no real role in the case and when he received notice of the appeals deadline he took no action because he believed the matter was being handled by the New York lawyers.

All the while Maples had no idea that his case had fallen through the cracks.

But in court, John C. Neiman Jr., the Solicitor General of Alabama, seized upon the fact that there was indeed a local lawyer involved who had been notified of the appeals deadline. He argued the lower courts had fulfilled their obligation to inform the counsel and that once the clerk of the court saw that the local counsel had received notice of the pending deadline, the clerk had no reason to pursue the fact that he had received the “return to sender” letters back in the mail.

Nieman’s suggestion seemed to irritate Justice Elena Kagan.

She asked Nieman if he had been involved in a similar case where a letter was sent off to the principal adversaries and was returned unopened he might not ask himself, “Huh, should I do anything now?”

Chief Justice John Roberts asked for evidence from Neiman that the local counsel had actually done anything pertinent to the case. “You still haven’t told me one thing he did,” Roberts said.

And Justice Samuel Alito asked why Alabama would not have consented to Maples’ attorneys filing an out-of-time appeal, given the circumstance of the case.

“The holding of the Alabama courts here,” Nieman said, “was that this would not be an appropriate circumstance for an out-of-time-appeal.”

Alito broke in: “Is that a discretionary matter or is that a flat rule, once you passed a certain time deadline, you are out of luck. There is no opportunity where there’s good cause for an extension?”

Justice Antonin Scalia was the only justice who seemed to speak up in support of Alabama. He attacked the notion that the local attorney had no responsibility to watch over the client. “You want us to believe that the local attorney,” Scalia asked, "has no responsibility for the case at all?”

In briefs filed with the Court Neiman acknowledged that “On the face of it, it is hard not to feel a little sorry" for Maples. But he reiterated the fact that Maples does not deny killing two people and that he received a “full determination of the merits of his claims" in state court.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio