Rape Suspect Who Cross-Examined Victim Found Guilty

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Luis Munuzuri Harris, the accused rapist who personally grilled his victim about the sex attack while acting as his own lawyer, has been found guilty but plans to appeal -- raising the possibility his victim will have to retell the ordeal again.

After 10 hours of deliberations Thursday, a Tampa jury found the convicted felon guilty of sexual battery, grand theft, kidnapping, impersonating a police officer, fraudulent use of personal information and fraudulent use of a credit card.

The charges stem from a July 2010 night when Harris drove along Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa impersonating an undercover narcotics officer. He pulled over the woman and raped her.

The woman's name is being withheld because she is a victim of a sex crime.

The trial ended in flamboyant fashion, much like it began. Both Harris and the woman he was found guilty of raping sobbed at the reading of the verdict.

During closing arguments, Judge Chet A. Tharpe ordered bailiffs to forcibly remove Harris from the courtroom when he began shouting. Pointing at jurors, Harris hurled accusations about the rape victim's arrest record and yelled, "I'm not waiving speedy trial." Bailiffs covered Harris' mouth with their hands as they exited the courtroom.

Harris, 31, is expected to be sentenced Feb. 17.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Investigation Prompts New USA Swimming Background Checks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- USA Swimming, the sport's national governing body, launched a new background check program this week requiring all coaches, employees, volunteers and anyone else working with swimmers to pass a criminal background check.

The move comes nine months after an ABC News investigation revealed that 36 USA Swimming coaches had been quietly banned from the organization for sexual abuse of young swimmers they coached.

USA Swimming's new background check requirement is "designed to deter individuals who should not be working with athletes from ever applying for membership," the organization said on its website. "Additionally, it serves to identify any unsuitable criminal history of those individuals who do apply for membership."

Individuals working with swimmers who have never had a background check must now do so through Acxiom Information Security Services, Inc. by Feb. 15. "This group includes the vast majority of the officials in USA Swimming," said one local swim club in Virginia on its web site, "a very large number of individuals."

The background check includes a national database search for criminal convictions, including a sexual offender search in all states and other watch lists from national and international databases. There are also additional county criminal searches in places of previous residence.

Individuals will automatically be disqualified from USA Swimming for any felony or misdemeanor involving a sexual crime. Other disqualifiers include convictions, deferred sentences or pending charges of violence, crimes involving firearms, animal abuse, drug use or possession, and child endangerment, neglect or abuse.

The background check is valid for two years and is repeated monthly.

The ABC News investigation revealed that San Jose swimming coach Andy King had received a clean bill of health in 2008 from USA Swimming's existing background check program, even though he abused more than a dozen teen female victims over three decades up and down the West Coast. Less than one year after being approved again by USA Swimming, King was abusing a 12-year-old girl in a shed during swim practices.

The report led the U.S. Olympic Committee to announce it would centralize and standardize background check programs across all 32 Olympic sports, affecting approximately one million athletes.

Two days after the story aired, USA Swimming apologized in a letter to its hundreds of thousands of swimmers, parents and coaches across the country and pledged to implement child protection safeguards.

Since the investigation, more victims have come forward to tell their stories. At least two additional USA Swimming coaches have pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct charges with young swimmers and more are under investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Winter Storm Blankets East Coast, Packs Icy Temperatures

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Winter weather is again making for tricky travel along the East Coast.

Some parts have seen more snow in a single month than is typical of the entire season. A winter storm is bringing more than just flakes, but also frigid, frozen conditions from Washington, D.C., up north to Maine.

Even before this latest storm, New York City has seen 31 inches of snow -- more than the yearly average of 27 inches -- and another two months of winter remain.
Nine states were under wind-chill advisories overnight from the midwest and Great Lakes, and that air was forecast to move east.

Temperatures in International Falls, Minn., reached a record minus-42 degrees Friday morning.

Snow totals in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area were forecast to reach one inch, while two inches was predicted for Philadelphia. New York City was forecast to receive two-five inches. Areas around Boston were to receive between five-nine inches. Somewhere between a half-foot and 12 inches of snow was forecast for areas around coastal Maine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police Hunt Woman Who Raised Kidnapped Carlina White

Carlina White pictured with her daughter. Photo Courtesy - Family of Carlina White(NEW YORK) -- The woman who raised kidnapped girl Carlina White for 23 years has dropped from sight as federal and New York law enforcement officials launched fresh probes into the girl's disappearance from a hospital in 1987.

Anne Pettway, the woman White called "Mom" while growing up, has several aliases, as well as a criminal history that includes charges of embezzlement, forgery, theft and drugs.  She's currently on parole for embezzlement charges in North Carolina, the New York Post reported.

Pettway left her home in North Carolina and did not turn up at her mother's home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where she told the Post earlier this week she was heading.

Authorities have not named Pettway as a suspect.  Pettway has defended herself saying that she was a good mom.

"I just hope that the officials be able to get her in their hands, so we can just hear her side of the story now," White told the New York Post.

Carlina White has since been reunited with her biological parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson, and has described a childhood of abuse, telling the New York Post that the woman hit her and threw things like shoes at her.

At just 19 days old, Carlina White was abducted from Harlem Hospital on Aug. 4, 1987.  Her worried parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson, had taken their feverish baby to the hospital.

The family claims a woman disguised as a nurse took Carlina White.  The woman had reportedly just lost her own baby.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iranian Hostages Reunite at West Point 30 Years After Release

Photo Courtesy - Express/Express/Getty Images(WEST POINT, N.Y.) -- Former Iranian hostages will reunite Friday at the spot in New York where they were first taken after their release three decades ago.

Thirty years ago, on Jan. 20, 1981, President Reagan informed Americans that the Iranian hostages were delivered to West Point after being held 444 days in captivity.

One of the hostages, Barry Rosen, said although it was 30 years ago, "It was just like yesterday for me."

He added that the moment of release was "very vivid in my mind."

Rosen, along with several of his fellow hostages , will come together at the U.S. military academy to share their story with the cadets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Leaves Tucson Hospital for Rehab in Houston

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Cheered by crowds of well-wishers, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords left the Tucson hospital Friday where she has been treated since suffering a gunshot to her head in an attack nearly two weeks ago.

Giffords is flying to Houston to begin the next step in her recovery, focusing on rehabilitation at a renowned brain injury facility at the Texas Medical Center.

Giffords is being accompanied to Houston by her astronaut husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, her trauma surgeon, Dr. Peter Rhee, and her mother, Gloria Giffords.

In another sign of progress, Giffords was taken outside Thursday for the first time since the attack to give her some sunlight. She stood up Wednesday for the first time with assistance and looked out of a hospital window.

Giffords suffered a gunshot wound to her head Jan. 8 when Jared Lee Loughner allegedly opened fire at the Democratic congresswoman's event outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson.

The motive behind the attack that killed six people and wounded 14 likely might never be understood, Giffords’ husband said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Intensive Rehabilitation' Is Next for Giffords, New Doctor Says

Photo Courtesy - Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had had a remarkable recovery from her gunshot wound two weeks ago, but she faces “intensive rehabilitation” in Houston, her new doctor told ABC News Friday.

She has been on a “smooth, glide path” so far, Dr. John Holcomb said, and he hopes to continue that good fortune when she is transferred from Tucson to the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center Friday afternoon.

“What we’ll do is make sure that she has taken this transfer okay, has no other complications that have developed that need other operations or interventions and then help coordinate the team that is caring for [her], anticipating problems, intervening early so that those problems don’t develop,” the trauma surgeon said.

Holcomb wants to get her back into rehab as soon as possible, he said.

“The key is get into intensive rehabilitation...Bringing in lots of different people from different specialties to work as a coordinated team, speech, cognitive, physical rehabilitation.  All working together under the direction of a rehab specialist,” he said.

Giffords has avoided major pitfalls including infections and brain swelling.  Holcomb said her recovery “sounds fantastic so far” and hopes that the prediction by Giffords’ husband that she would be walking within two months comes true.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Former President Bush #41 Marks Desert Storm 20th Anniversary

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(COLLEGE STATION, Texas) -- It was a gathering of Republican foreign policy heavyweights Thursday in College Station, Texas, as former President George H.W. Bush marked the 20th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm with his national security team.

Speaking before an audience of several thousand people, including Gulf War veterans, active duty military and students from Texas A&M University, including some from Iraq and Kuwait, Bush credited his Cabinet and military team for their leadership and unity during the planning and execution of the air and ground attacks that liberated Kuwait from invasion by Iraq.

“No president was ever better served by his foreign policy team,” Bush said.

Along with Bush, the event included former Vice President Dan Quayle, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and then-National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the coalition forces, was unable to be there because of health issues, but he sent a letter that was read by Powell. In the letter, Schwarzkopf noted that while the military mission ended 20 years ago, the legacy will last forever.

More than 500,000 Americans were deployed at the peak of the fighting. One-hundred forty-eight service members were killed and 467 were wounded.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Giffords Taken Outside Hospital for First Time Since Shooting

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Capt. Mark Kelly, the astronaut husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, said Thursday that the congresswoman soon will be "back at work" and predicted she would be walking around in a couple of weeks.

"I'm extremely hopeful that Gabby will make a full recovery. She is a fighter like nobody else I know," said Kelly.

In another sign of progress, Giffords was taken outside of the hospital Thursday for the first time since the attack to give her some sunlight. Just Wednesday, she stood up for the first time with assistance and looked out of a hospital window.

"I am extremely confident that she will be back here and back at work soon," said Kelly during a press conference Thursday. "I told the hospital staff to expect her to be walking around here in a couple of weeks. She'll be back."

Kelly also joked that he knows Giffords can't wait to write "thank you" notes to all of her supporters.

Giffords already has been able to scroll through an iPad, actions described Thursday by her doctors as "fantastic achievements forward."

Giffords suffered a gunshot wound to her head on Jan. 8 when Jared Loughner allegedly opened fire at an event held by the Democratic congresswoman outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Ariz.

Since the shooting, Giffords has been treated at Tucson's University Medical Center. But she is scheduled to be moved to the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research at Houston's Memorial Hermann Hospital, which specializes in brain injuries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Experts: Kensington Strangler Is Classified as 'Sexual Serial Killer'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- The man who has confessed to being Philadelphia's "Kensington Strangler" claims he didn't mean for the women to die, but experts on what they call sexual, serial killers believe the suspect knew what he was doing and "enjoyed the act of killing them."

Sources told ABC Affiliate WPVI that Antonio Rodriguez has confessed to police that he murdered Elaine Goldberg, Nicole Piacentini and Casey Mahoney between November and mid-December of last year. Prosecutors approved charges to be filed against Rodriguez Thursday. He is expected to be formally charged with three counts each of murder, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and abuse of a corpse.

Rodriguez is also a suspect in the sexual assault of at least three other women.

The 22-year-old suspect is described as soft-spoken, and at five-foot-nine and 150 pounds is slightly built.

Police sources told the Philadelphia Inquirer that during his interrogation, Rodriguez said that he didn't set out to kill the women and that he knew he had to stop.

Rodriguez wanted to have "rough fantasy sex," choking the women until they were unconscious, but he did not want to kill them, sources told the Inquirer.

Forensic psychologists told ABC News that Rodriguez, if convicted of being the "Kensington Strangler," fits the profile of a sexual, serial killer.

Forensic psychologist Louis B. Schlesinger said that sexual, serial killers often choose strangulation as the method of their murder because it's up close and personal.

"Strangulation allows an individual to control the speed at which the victim dies and this is very sexually stimulating for him," Schlesinger said. "It's not uncommon to strangle until almost the point of death, then release the pressure as she [the victim] is about to die so he can increase the time of the sexual strangulation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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