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Monday
Sep192011

Conn. Babysitter Charged with Sexually Assaulting Second Boy

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CLINTON, Conn.) -- A 20-year-old Connecticut babysitter already facing charges of sexual assault on a minor is accused of having a sexual relationship with another 14-year-old boy, according to new information released Monday.

Loni Bouchard, of Clinton, Conn., was arrested Monday morning on charges of sexually assaulting a teenage boy from Southington, Conn., in November 2010. Bouchard is already facing charges of sexual assault on a different 14-year-old whom she was hired to babysit in Clinton in early 2011.

Southington police announced that they arrested Bouchard early Monday morning on the new charges, and that she is being held on $25,000 bail. Police did not return calls for comment.

Bouchard’s attorney said Bouchard is in counseling and hopes people will not pre-judge her, and that this second arrest strengthens the family’s resolve to have her placed in a supervisory diversionary program.

In July, Bouchard was arrested following a three-month investigation into her relationship with a Clinton, Conn., boy she babysat regularly. According to police records, Bouchard repeatedly stayed over at the home of the boy, and offered him alcohol and marijuana in addition to having sex with him. When the boy’s mother discovered their relationship through Facebook messages, she notified police.

Bouchard’s journals detailing the relationship with the Clinton boy were released earlier this month.

“I know there is a 5-year age difference, but why does it have to matter?” she wrote in the journal. “I don’t care about the law.  I just want to be with him and not have to hide it.”

Bouchard’s mother, Kimmy Bouchard, is also charged in providing alcohol and marijuana to the Clinton teen.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep192011

Police Lineups Faulty, Researchers Say

Comstock/Thinkstock(AMES, Iowa) -- Researchers say that the traditional police lineup could use an overhaul.

“Mistaken eyewitness identification is the primary cause of the conviction of innocent people,” said Dr. Gary Wells of Iowa State University.  “If you look at, for example, DNA exoneration cases where DNA came along and was used to test claims of innocence…three out of every four of those exonerations are cases of mistaken identification.”

Wells, an eyewitness identification expert and the lead researcher behind a new study by the American Judicature Society, says that police forces should update the way they conduct lineups.

“One of the things we observed over and over again is that witnesses tend to compare one person to another, decide who looks most like the perpetrator and then their propensity is to pick that person.  That’s OK if the real perpetrator is in there, but if the real perpetrator is not in there, there’s still someone that looks more like the perpetrator than the others,” Wells said.

The standard lineup seen on TV and in movies has witnesses looking at groups of people either standing in front of them or in a grouping of photos.  Researchers call this a simultaneous lineup.  Wells and his team said their research shows that a sequential lineup is more effective.

In a sequential lineup, a witness looks at each person individually and says whether he or she is the suspect before moving onto the next person.  Wells said that when a witness looks at each person individually in a lineup, they are less likely to mistakenly pick one of the “filler” people added to fill out the lineup.

Wells and his team worked with the police departments from Austin, Texas, Tucson, Ariz., San Diego, and Charlotte, N.C., testing the two methods of lineups. Each detective conducting the different lineups was also blind as to which person in the lineup was the suspect and which were just fillers. Researchers say that this also helps more effective identification.

The statistical analysis of the study revealed that the two procedures yielded similar numbers in identifying the suspect.  However, the sequential method yielded fewer misidentifications. Only 12.2 percent of the time did the witness misidentify the suspect in the latter method. The more traditional simultaneous method yielded the mistaken identification of a filler person 18.1 percent of the time.

Along with producing fewer mistaken identifications, the sequential method also showed that witnesses were more confident, producing fewer “not sure” responses.

Wells said that some police departments have already changed the way they do lineups over the last few years.

“A number of jurisdictions- New Jersey, North Carolina, places like Boston, Denver, Dallas…but there are still so many jurisdictions that sort of have resisted this switch,” Wells said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep192011

Mystery Mansion Death: Victim's Family Wants Case Reopened

Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center(CORONADO, Calif.) -- The family of Rebecca Zahau, the woman found naked, bound and hanging at a Coronado, California mansion, want the investigation into her death reopened.

"It seemed like from the beginning a lot of things were ignored," said Mary Zahau-Loehner, Rebecca Zahau's sister.

The family believes that Rebecca Zahau is the victim of murder, not suicide.

Rebecca Zahau was the girlfriend of pharmaceutical mogul Jonah Shacknai.  Her death came two days after Shacknai's 6-year-old son Max fell down the stairs at the historic Spreckels Mansion where they were staying.  The boy died of his injuries.

Rebecca Zahau's nude body was found on July 13.  Her hands and feet were bound.  She allegedly painted a message in black paint that read, "she saved him can you save her."

Investigators have ruled Rebecca Zahau's death a suicide.

"Rebecca received news regarding Max's grave condition at about 10 minutes to one in the morning.  She made the decision to take her own life," said San Diego County Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Nemeth.

Zahau-Loehner said that she spoke to her sister just hours before she learned that Max had taken a turn for the worse.  She said that her sister sounded normal.

Zahau-Loehner and her family continue to question how the 32-year-old woman could have killed herself if her feet and hands were bound.

Since investigators ruled the death a suicide, respected forensic examiners have questioned the ruling, saying that Zahau's death could indicate a ritualistic killing and that the injuries suggest a substantial blow to the head.

Red rope was found tied around Rebecca Zahau's ankles and wrists.  The autopsy report showed that Zahau had four hemorrhages and blood was found on Rebecca Zahau's legs, as well as bruises and tape residue.  It also showed that part of a T-shirt had been in her mouth.

ABC News' legal analyst Dan Abrams said its unlikely that the case will be reopened in a way that will make the Zahau family happy.  He said that even if the case is labeled closed, investigators are still looking at new evidence and leads as they get it because of the high profile nature of the case.

Abrams said that the circumstances of the death were odd, but investigators would argue they have an explanation for each circumstance.

"If this had been a murder, there probably would be an enormous amount of evidence public," he said.

The Zahau family has launched a website and fund to help them in their quest to learn more about Rebecca Zahau's death.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep192011

Second Petit Murder Trial Begins in Connecticut

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- It has been called the most horrific crime in Connecticut's history.  A 2007 home invasion escalated into a triple homicide leaving a mother and her two daughters dead and a father badly beaten and emotionally scarred.

Four years later, the final chapter in this tragic story is about to unfold in a New Haven courtroom as the death penalty trial of 31-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky, one of two men charged for the crimes that night, gets underway with opening statements Monday.

Komisarjevsky faces 17 charges ranging from murder to abduction and assault.  The grisly details of the story are widely known from court documents and testimony in the trial of Komisarjevsky's alleged accomplice Steven Hayes.

On July 23, 2007, for seven hours, Dr. William Petit, his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit and their daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, were held hostage.  The daughters were tied to their beds and one of them was allegedly sexually assaulted by Komisarjevsky.

Hawke-Petit was driven to a bank at gun point, told to withdraw money and taken back to her house, where she was raped and then strangled.  The house was doused with gasoline and set on fire.  Hayley, Michaela and their mother died, the girls tied to their gasoline splashed beds.

Dr. Petit managed to escape and crawl to a neighbor's house, beaten and bloodied, to call for help.

Komisarjevsky and Hayes were arrested a block away from the Petit family home.  Both men had lengthy criminal records.  Hayes and Komisarjevsky tried to plead guilty to the crimes in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors refused.

Hayes stood trial for his role in the crimes last year.  In court, Hayes seemed subdued.  It took the jury just hours to find him guilty.  When he was allowed to address the court, Hayes said "death would be a welcome relief."  He was sentenced to be executed and is now on death row.

Hayes' trial mesmerized Connecticut and much of the country with reporters lining up each day to enter the courtroom, and sending out minute-by-minute accounts of the testimony over Twitter.  When it was over, Dr. Petit even sat down for an interview with Oprah, an indication of just how much the public at large was following this case.

Despite the high stakes nature of the death penalty trial, Hayes' attorney Thomas Ullmann adopted a courtly rather than a confrontational manner in court.  And he always maintained a respectful demeanor towards Dr. Petit and his relatives.

But the trial of Joshua Komisarjevsky promises to be different.  Komisarjevsky's three court-appointed attorneys, Walter Bansley III, Jeremiah Donovan and Todd Bussert have adopted a combative, even confrontational style with Dr. Petit and his family.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep192011

Wall Street Protesters Say They’re Settled In

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Protesters who vowed to “occupy Wall Street” are holding their ground in downtown New York, and say they have no plans to leave anytime soon.

The protest started Saturday with a “Day of Rage,” when thousands of people gathered in the Financial District and vowed to stay on Wall Street as long as it takes to make their point that they will “no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.”

Organizers have said they hoped for as many as 20,000 people to join the protests, but estimates Saturday were that the crowd peaked at around 5,000.

Although the number has dwindled since Saturday, those remaining seem to be in it for the long haul.  According to tweets sent out by Occupy Wall Street, the group has blankets, food and space heaters available for protesters.

The New York Police Department says that even though the demonstrators don’t have a permit for the protest, they have no plans to remove those protesters who seem determined to stay on the streets.

According to the Occupy Wall Street website, the effort was inspired by the lasting demonstrations of “our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Iceland.”

Organizers of the protest told ABC News affiliate WABC-TV in New York that they are hoping the crowd will grow as the work week begins Monday.  Like the protests that inspired this one, the demonstration is being fueled by social media, with supporters using the Twitter hashtag #takewallstreet to organize meetings of the so-called “General Assembly” and to advertise the effort.  The event is also streaming live online.

According to a statement on the Occupy Wall Street website, supporters of the movement are angered by what they call the principle of “profit over and above all else.”

“The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%,” the statement said.

Comments New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made last week that some may argue seem to have forecast the event.

“You have a lot of kids graduating college who can’t find jobs.  That’s what happened in Cairo.  That’s what happened in Madrid.  You don’t want those kind of riots here,” Bloomberg said.

For now though, the protesters have vowed to stay peaceful and hold their ground until the changes they are demanding are met.  They are calling for protests in other cities, worker and student strikes, and the creation of similar organizations throughout the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep192011

Plane's Video Memory Cards Could Hold Clues to Reno Crash

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- The World War II-era stunt plane that crashed into a grandstand near Reno, Nevada, killing nine, was equipped with a video camera that could help investigators learn what led to the crash.

National Transportation Safety Board officials said Sunday that the airplane had a recording system, and a box containing memory cards was found at the scene of the crash.

Investigators say they'll analyze the cards to see if there is any footage that could explain what happened.

The crash happened Friday during an air race in Reno, injuring a total of 69 people seated in the VIP seats on the tarmac.  Witnesses said that as the P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost piloted by Jimmy Leeward rounded the final clubhouse turn, something dropped off the tail of the plane, and that that may have been what caused the problem.

NTSB investigators recovered a component in the area where witnesses say they saw something drop.  Officials said it's unclear whether this is connected to the plane that crashed or another one.

The tragedy in Reno was another near miss for Commander Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head earlier this year in Tucson.  Kelly was scheduled to fly a P-51 similar to the one that crashed at the Reno air show, though he was not going to be racing.  He apparently did not witness the crash.

As investigators work to piece together what caused the crash, officials are also looking into another fatal air show crash this weekend.

A day after the air race crash in Reno, an antique plane crashed at an air show in Martinsburg, West Virginia, Saturday.  Pilot John Mangan was flying a 1958 T-28 Warbird when it suddenly crashed after completing an acrobatic move with another T-28.  Mangan was killed.  No other injuries were reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep192011

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Only the Latest Military Barrier to Fall

Bill Clark/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- If the Military Leadership Diversity Commission has its way, a full repeal Tuesday of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, won't be the last brick to fall from the U.S. military's sporadically crumbling barriers that have excluded African-Americans, women, Muslim clerics and even overweight recruits.

The panel recommended earlier this year, for instance, that the Department of Defense eliminate its "combat exclusion policies," meaning women would be assigned to units involved in "direct ground combat."

The record is long on diversity milestones that have changed the face of the nation's armed services.

Here are a few:

Women on Combat Ships
Woman can't serve in direct land combat but Congress enacted a law in 1993 that did allow them on combat ships, as well as bomber and fighter aircraft. And the military lifted its ban last year on their serving aboard submarines.

Muslim Chaplains
The Army signed up its first Muslim chaplain in 1993, followed later in the decade by a Navy chaplain who became the first Muslim to serve the Marine Corps.

Racial Desegregation
Whether it was because of President Harry S. Truman's 1948 executive order integrating black servicemen or the later need for soldiers in Korea, the military moved deliberately to desegregate its ranks. The last all-black unit was disbanded in the mid-1950s.

Ex-Convicts
The military has even opened the door to more ex-convicts in recent years, although by necessity. "The significant increase in the recruitment of persons with criminal records is a result of the strain put on the military by the Iraq war," Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told the Washington Post in 2008.

Overweight Recruits
Similarly, recruitment targets have prompted the military to be more lenient when it comes to enlisting overweight recruits, as Americans grow plumper and plumper. But a portly soldier is less likely to be a successful one, so he or she must adhere to a weight-control regimen to stay in good graces.

All-Male Academies
Women were long thought to be incapable of withstanding the rigors of military-oriented colleges, so they were denied access until the Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that the all-male Virginia Military Institute admit them under the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.

Women's Army Auxiliary Corps
Republican Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers, the first woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, proposed a bill in 1941 that would result in creation of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, or WAAC -- although an amendment to give woman full military status failed, so they were not part of the regular army.

They are today, but, as the Military Leadership Diversity Commission noted in its March 15, 2011, report to President Obama and Congress, the Defense Department and armed services "should report to Congress the process and timeline for removing barriers that inhibit women from achieving senior leadership positions."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep182011

Remains Found During Search for Missing Nursing Student

Giorgio Fochesato/Vetta/Getty Images(ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif.) -- A volunteer in the search for missing California nursing student Michelle Le discovered a body in a remote, brushy area of Alameda County, but investigators said it could take weeks to determine whether they are the young woman.

The remains were so decomposed that investigators could not immediately say whether they were those of a male or female. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the remains were found in the same area where police believe the woman charged with Le's murder dumped her body.

Alameda County investigators have sealed off access to the scene, but say it could take weeks to identify the remains if they have to use DNA testing. Officials said they haven't found any articles of clothing or other evidence that ties the body discovered to Le.

"Today, one of the search party members did discover remains. Right now, that's all we know," said Lt. Roger Keener with the Hayward Police Department, according to ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco. "There is nothing that indicates gender with the remains. The body is decomposed."

Le, 26, went missing May 27, when she took a break from her nursing classes at a Hayward hospital. She told colleagues she was going to her car, but she never returned from the break and her locked Honda SUV was found later half a mile away.

A former high school friend of Le's, Giselle Esteban, 27, was arrested 11 days ago ago in connection with Le's disappearance. Investigators say surveillance video, cell phone records and DNA samples led to Esteban's arrest.

In June, Esteban told KGO that she "hates" Le because Le was friends with the father of Esteban's 5-year-old daughter. Esteban has denied having anything to do with Le's disappearance.

Even without Le's body, investigators said they have enough to charge Esteban with murdering the nursing student. Surveillance video shows her at the crime scene before and after Le went missing, traces of Le's blood were found inside Esteban's car and Le's DNA was found on one of Esteban's shoes, Hayward police said.

Cell phone records also show both women's phones "traveled on a similar path" from the hospital around Alameda County immediately after Le disappeared.

Esteban is due back in court Monday, after a judge postponed a plea hearing last week so she could get an attorney.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Sunday
Sep182011

Man Shoots Two in Church After Nearby Killing, Cops Say

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ORLANDO) -- Parishioners in a Florida church tackled a man who had walked in and shot the pastor and associate pastor after apparently killing another person in a home a short distance away, Polk County police said.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told ABC affiliate WFTS-TV in Orlando that Jeremiah Fogale, 57, was taken in to custody after the horrified parishioners wrestled him to the ground.

Greater Faith Christian Church Pastor William Boss and Associate Pastor Carl Stewart were being treated for their wounds at Lakeland Regional Medical Center for their injuries.

Police declined to identified the person killed in the shooting, saying next of kin confirmation had not yet been made.  They said only that the person was shot at a home near the church.

According to the initial witness reports, Fogel ran through the front door of the church shortly before 10 a.m. today and shot the both the pastor and associate pastor, police said.  Parishioners in the church tackled Fogel and held him until law enforcement responded and took him into custody.  No other members of the church were injured.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep182011

Kara Kennedy Remembered: Ted Kennedy’s Daughter Dies at 51

Brian Snyder-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- She bore that famous last name –  still, Kara Kennedy lived her life outside the spotlight as much as any Kennedy could.

Friday night, that life ended at just 51 when Kara Kennedy suffered a heart attack after working out at a gym in Northwest Washington, D.C.

She was a mother of two teenagers, Grace and Max.

She was known for her fighting spirit – she beat inoperable lung cancer in 2002.

Five years later, her mother told the Boston Globe Kara Kennedy was cancer free and running five miles a day.

“Last summer she was in the best health that I can remember,” mother Joan Kennedy said.

Even so, the cancer treatment “took quite a toll on her and weakened her physically,” Patrick Kennedy said, “Her heart gave out.”

In August 2009, with her father Senator Ted Kennedy on his deathbed, Kara Kennedy accepted the Presidential Medal of Honor on his behalf.

Kara Kennedy was not the only member of her immediate family to battle cancer.

Her father Ted died of a malignant brain tumor and her brother Ted Jr. beat bone cancer though he lost a leg to the disease when he was just 12.

She is just the latest Kennedy to die young in an extended family that has suffered immeasurable loss.

“It is an unlucky family in a lot of ways and of course we pay a lot more attention to them because it is such a prominent family,” said Kennedy biographer Susan Milligan.

Funeral arrangements for Kara Kennedy right now are still being organized.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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