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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Monday
Sep052011

Teen Kills Uncle’s Attacker, Unaware It’s His Dad

Comstock/Thinkstock(EDGEWOOD, Wash.) -- A teenage boy unwittingly stabbed his own father to death while trying to protect his uncle outside his home, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said.

The fight started when a 47-year-old man showed up at an Edgewood, Washington residence and, according to police, began beating his 46-year-old brother with a crowbar in the driveway.

When two teenager brothers in the home looked outside and saw their uncle being attacked, they ran to help him, ABC affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle reports. The 17-year-old boy stabbed the attacker several times, not knowing it was his own father, who was estranged from the family, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Mike Blair told KOMO-TV.

Both men were rushed to area hospitals with serious injuries and, according to KOMO-TV, the boy’s father died hours later from his stab wounds.

The teen was not taken into custody.

“He was standing up for the safety of his uncle -- it just so happened that it ended up being his father who was killed,” Blair said, adding, “certainly we would allow a member of our community to protect somebody who’s being feloniously assaulted, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now.

“Based on the circumstances…we were comfortable that this person is not a danger to the rest of society,” he said.

Blair said it will ultimately be up to the prosecutor to decide whether to file charges against the teen, KOMO reports, but said the facts, so far, show the teen was just trying to defend his uncle.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep052011

Lauren Spierer's Mother Releases Letter to Daughter's Abductor

Blair Wallach(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) -- In a chilling letter addressed "To whom this may concern," Charlene Spierer speaks directly to those responsible for the disappearance of her daughter, Lauren Spierer, three months ago.

Lauren Spierer, 20, was last seen on June 3 leaving a sports bar in Bloomington, Ind., where she was a student at Indiana University. Classes have started again at IU, and Charlene recalls in the letter the excitement her family felt last year as Lauren began her freshman year.

But, she writes, "this year is considerably different. We packed and shipped all of Lauren's things home. 19 boxes. ... I won't go into the details of what it was like to pack Lauren's things. I will just tell you it was excruciating."

The investigation into the disappearance of the petite fashion major has taken many turns, yielding thousands of tips and at least 10 persons of interest.

In the weeks immediately after she went missing, some of Lauren's friends came under scrutiny for not coming forward voluntarily to provide information to the police.

There was speculation that Spierer may have overdosed on cocaine, and those with her panicked and disposed of her body. One month after she went missing, a body turned up in an Indiana creek, but it was later determined that it was not her.

"Much has happened over the past three months. I won't bore you with the details, if you've even gotten this far in reading this letter. I will say we have had the support and guidance of a multitude of people which has helped keep us going," Charlene writes in the letter published on a website dedicated to providing news on Lauren.

Charlene and her husband, Robert, are offering a reward of $100,000 for information that leads to finding their daughter.

Search efforts are ongoing in Bloomington, and a Facebook page, Twitter feed, website and blog continue to offer updates on the investigation, as well as pleading with the public to help find Spierer.

"If you think for a minute, her father and I are going to disappear, think again. We are just as determined today as we were day one," Charlene Spierer writes. "Do you think this is a game? This is no game. We are in this for the long haul ... we will NEVER give up."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep042011

Tropical Storm Lee Bears Down on Gulf Coast

Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- Tropical Storm Lee beared down on the Gulf Coast Sunday morning with wave after wave of hard rain.

Thousands of customers lost power in Louisiana and Mississippi. The storm has also generated mandated evacuations in Louisiana bayou towns.

The center of Tropical Storm Lee was on the coast of southern Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour Sunday morning.

However, conditions won’t change much just because the center is on the coast, since the center isn't where the strongest winds are located.

"In this case it's not so important to focus on the center. The center is on the coast and it's going to be moving inland in the next several hours," said Todd Kimberlin with the National Hurricane Center. "In this case all the front winds are well removed from the center."

Low lying coastal areas were flooded, making some roads impassable by vehicle, and only navigable by paddle.

Jean Lafitte, La. resident Mike Lavelle's home has been turned into an island, surrounded by water.

"I knew this was going to happen sooner or later. I was hoping it didn't happen but it has happened," Lavelle said.

For Lavelle and so many who weathered Hurricane Katrina just six years ago, all of this, is all too familiar.

Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner is hoping sandbag barriers will save his small town in southeast Louisiana.

Tropical Storm Lee may come and go, but Kerner's not going anywhere.

"If they made everybody leave, I'd buy a house boat and stay here," Kerner said. "I mean I love this area and it's worth fighting for. We're down right now, but this community's not giving up."

Down the street, Jean Lafitte resident Laura Melancon is paddling her way home.

"We're like stuck with our cars and we can't really move around a lot," Melancon said.

With the center now on shore, West End resident Phillip Boudreaux said he isn't optimistic that the bad weather will stop anytime soon.

"I don't think it's over yet. I think it's going to get worse before it gets better," Boudreaux said.

Throughout the region, people spent the holiday weekend working overtime to protect their homes.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told residents to remain vigilant.

Tropical Storm Lee's heavy rains still pose the threat of more extensive flooding or flash flooding to the Gulf Coast.

"Some chance that the rain will persist today and tomorrow and add to the totals which have already fallen and then the storm is expected to lose tropical characteristics and become post tropical," said Kimberlin.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep042011

UCLA Student Still With Libyan Rebels

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- UCLA student Chris Jeon is still in Libya, say two reporters keeping tabs on him in Libya.

The 21 year old has turned into an Internet sensation, after buying a one-way ticket to Libya to fight against Ghadafi loyalists before returning for his last year at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Bradley Hope of the National and Kristin Chick of the Christian Science Monitor came across Jeon in the rebel-held town of An Nawfiliyah in Libya, where they interviewed him on Thursday.

In a video captured by Hope, Jeon is surrounded by Libyan rebels, wearing an L.A. Lakers basketball jersey, a Kaffiyeh—a traditional Arab headdress, goggles, camouflage-printed pants, shoes that resemble Converse Chuck Taylors.

“I want to go to Sirte,” Jeon tells the rebels in English. It’s not clear that they understand him, or he understands them. In an interview with Hope, Jeon said, “It’s hard to communicate. I don’t really speak any Arabic.” According to Jeon’s Facebook page, he can only speak English, Spanish and Korean.

On Friday, Al Jazeera English’s Evan Hill tweeted that Jeon was headed home: “Our team in east #Libya said rebels fed up with Chris Jeon, US kid who tried to join, told him 2 go, last seen on pick-up going 2 Benghazi.”

However, according to recent tweets from Hope and Chick, Jeon is still in Libya.

“Last we heard, he was still a celebrated mascot of the rebels, going from brigade to brigade. But info is hard to get,” Hope tweeted Saturday. Later, he tweeted a picture of a couch at a rebel hospital in Ras Lanuf where Jeon spent Thursday night, according to doctors.

“He apparently slept in the hospital there, took a shower, got some sunscreen, then hitched a ride back to the front. Chris Jeon—still here,” Chick tweeted Saturday.

Ras Lanuf is roughly an hour east of An Nawfiliyah—and farther away from Sirte than where he was the day he was interviewed.

Jeon told the paper that he came to Libya because it was the end of his summer vacation, and he “thought it would be cool to join the rebels.”

“This is one of the only real revolutions [in the world],” he said.

Jeon told Hope that his family had no idea he was in Libya. Calls to numbers listed as his phone number, or his relatives’ on Friday and Saturday were not answered. Jeon has not responded to an email sent to his personal email account.

Far from the suggestion that Jeon was being sent home by the rebels, Hope tweeted that according to some rebel commanders, he has been wholly accepted.

“There was no sign of rebels being ‘fed up’ with him. We talked to about five diff commanders and soldiers,” he tweeted today. “And one guy, who had never met him, told us in all seriousness that Chris wasn’t American anymore. ‘He’s Libyan’.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep042011

Florida Teen Charged With Impersonating Physician's Assistant

Comstock/Thinkstock(KISSIMMEE, Fla.) -- A 17 year old is facing felony charges for his real-life "Catch Me If You Can"-style prank that could have put lives in danger.

Matthew Scheidt was arrested Friday, accused of impersonating a physician's assistant for five days at a central Florida hospital.

According to police, the untrained teen spent time in the operating room and emergency room, where he conducted exams, provided patient care and accessed restricted patient information.

It all started on Aug. 24, when Scheidt allegedly went to the human resources office at the Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee, Fla., and requested a new hospital badge, according to the police report.

He allegedly said he was a physician's assistant in a program at Nova Southeastern University and he needed to replace his old badge, which had out of date information. Police said that though he gave two different explanations to two different people in the HR department, he was given a badge with his name and picture, stating that he was a P.A.

That week, Scheidt repeatedly presented himself as a P.A. in the emergency room, according to police.

Physicians on duty told the police Scheidt wore scrubs, a lab coat and his badge, and helped restrain a combative patient, cleaned and dressed wounds and removed an IV for a patient who was being discharged.

Scheidt also performed patient interviews and physical exams on disrobed male patients and accessed patient charts with personal and medical information, the police report said.

On just his second night as a "physician's assistant," he allegedly did chest compressions for about five minutes on a patient in cardiac arrest.

He told hospital staff he was 23 years old, claimed his mother was an executive with the corporation that owns the hospital and bragged he had been deputized with the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, the police report said.

Scheidt allegedly played doctor for six days before emergency room staff contacted human resources because they thought there was something suspicious about him, police said. The ER staff began questioning his qualifications when he continually requested access to restricted areas of the hospital, according to the report.

The HR department contacted the Surgical Management Group, where Scheidt said he was a P.A., and found that though the teen worked there, it was as a part-time billing clerk, not a P.A. Scheidt was fired from that job and had to return his P.A. ID card.

When the Surgical Management Group's practice manager confronted him about his claims that he had been deputized by the Sheriff's Department, he said his status was "top-secret" and the department wouldn't verify his employment because of his undercover status, the police report said.

Again, it appears, the teen was allegedly stretching the truth. Scheidt had been in the Sheriff's Explorer Program, but was removed for "over-stepping his explorer duties," by attempting to mislead people into the belief that he was a deputy, according to the police report.

When an officer from the Kissimmee Police Department showed up at Scheidt's front door to retrieve an ID card he had not turned in when he was fired from the hospital, the teen cried and said he had simply been shadowing as a records clerk, which he is allowed to do, and not acting as a P.A.

He said the HR department at the hospital was making up lies about him to "cover their butts," the police report said. He allegedly stuck with that story and told the officer to check with the emergency room P.A., who would back up his story.

On Sept. 2, Scheidt was arrested, and charged with five counts of impersonating a physician assistant, a third degree felony.

The Osceola Regional Medical Center issued a statement saying that patients treated in the ER during the time Scheidt was there received the medical care they needed, and that they are reviewing hospital practices to ensure this does not happen again.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep042011

Professor Doubled as Drug Kingpin, Cops Say

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) -- A California university professor is on the run following a raid on his home that allegedly turned up more than a pound of methamphetamine, unregistered rifles and handguns, body armor, leather biker vests and evidence of his involvement with a motorcycle gang, police said.

Steve Kinzey, who has been an associate professor of kinesiology at California State University, San Bernardino for nearly 10 years, is suspected of leading a motorcycle gang and methamphetamine drug ring in southern California.

Law enforcement officials said they believe he is the president of the local chapter of the Devils Diciples motorcycle club, which has been the target of a six-month narcotics and weapons trafficking investigation.

San Bernardino Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said investigators determined Kinzey and his girlfriend, Holly Robinson, were allegedly buying large amounts of methamphetamine and distributing it to at least six other people throughout San Bernardino county. Police intercepted a package of methamphetamine allegedly being distributed to his house, and on Aug. 26 raided his home. Upon discovering drugs and illegal weapons in his home, police issued a fugitive arrest warrant for Kinzey, who was on the run.

The Kinzey’s investigation began when the San Bernardino Gang Impact team started looking at the Devils Diciples motorcycle gang, and Kinzey's name came up in connection with illegal activity.

According to Bachman, during the probe, police turned up some surprising information on the alleged drug kingpin: he was a well-liked university professor.

One of Kinzey's students, Drew Peterson told ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles that he can't believe his professor could be the leader of an outlaw motorcycle gang, but he said Kinzey "would talk about his biker buddies, or his brothers, and say that they had each others' backs and were basically family."

University president Albert Karnig said the school would assist the sheriff's department in the investigation.

"To have an associate professor who is a member of the Devils Diciples and allegedly dealing methamphetamine is quite alarming. I mean, it's unusual to say the least," San Bernardino County Sheriff Rod Hoops said

The fall quarter at CSU-San Bernardino begins Sept. 14, and according to the school’s website, Kinzey was set to return to campus and be an adviser to several students in the Department of Kinesiology this semester.

Seven other people were arrested on drug-related charges. But Bachman said "the investigation is ongoing, and Kinzey is still a fugitive."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep032011

Mandatory Evacuations Issued for Californian Wildfire

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(HESPERIA, Calif.) -- Mandatory evacuations were in effect for the Cajon Pass between Los Angeles and Las Vegas after a wind-fueled brush fire—dubbed “Hill Fire”—threatened homes after it started burning Friday afternoon.

The fire charred over 1,148 acres and was 30 percent contained by Saturday, according to ABC News Los Angeles affiliate KABC-TV.

Although no flames were visible Saturday morning, firefighters reported that the fire remained a concern as increasing winds and rising temperatures were forecasted for Saturday.

While some residents began returning to their homes as winds tapered off Friday night, residents south of Mesquite Street, east of Baldy Mesa Avenue, west of Oak Hills Road and north of Cajon Pass on Interstate 15 were still under mandatory evacuation orders Saturday.

Nearly a dozen aircrafts, including a DC-10 jumbo jet tanker, and an estimated 900 firefighters were called in to help extinguish the flames.

A firefighter was reported injured as well as some local motorists who were treated for smoke inhalation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep032011

Tropical Storm Lee: New Orleans Residents Brace for Rain, Flooding

Stockbyte/Thinkstock (NEW ORLEANS) -- Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Lee pounded the Gulf Coast Saturday as it approached New Orleans—bringing as much as 20 inches of rain and testing the strength of the levees that failed six years ago.

The rain has been relentless, coming down nonstop since Friday morning along with winds gusting as high as 40 mph.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect from Pascagoula, Miss., across the coast to Sabine Pass, Texas.

A number of tornado watches and warnings were in effect in the area though none have been reported thus far.

In South Mississippi, Kazimier Buryn is one of many racing the clock to get everything they need before the storm touches down.

"You're better off to have stuff that you don't need instead of wishing that you had gone and done something about it when it's too late," Buryn said.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency in ten parishes.

"The bottom line for folks is to know regardless of what they call it, if you live in south Louisiana, especially southeast Louisiana, you are going to see a lot of rain between now and Tuesday," Jindal said.

The storm is expected to make landfall into the state's central coast late Saturday and make its way toward New Orleans.

National Hurricane Center hurricane specialist Eric Blake said it doesn't matter where the storm lands because the effects will be felt to the same extent and in the same places regardless.

"Tropical storm force winds and heavy rains are spread out all the way from Louisiana to Alabama and almost into northwest Florida," Blake said.

Louisiana residents are not taking any chances.

They are sandbagging, cleaning out storm drains and getting ready for torrential rain.

New Orleans could get as much as 20 inches of rain, putting the city at risk for major flooding.

"In other communities when the storm surge comes in, it comes in and it goes out. Here, it comes in, it has to be pumped out because we're in a bowl,” said John Young, Jefferson Parish president.

It was six years ago almost to the day that Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans.

Pump operators are working overtime until the storm system passes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep032011

Casey Anthony Broke, Sober and Unemployed Say Probation Officers

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony is unemployed, has not consumed alcohol or drugs and has not made any money over the past month, according to the Florida Department of Corrections where Anthony reported for probation at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

“She was cooperative and answered all the questions of her probation officer,” according to a media advisory.

Anthony, the 25 year old acquitted of murdering her daughter Caylee, also reported that she had not attended any classes, had not used or purchased illegal drugs nor had any contact with law enforcement over the past 30 days. Anthony’s attorney did not wish to comment on Anthony’s probation visit.

Despite Anthony’s declaration that she does not have a job and has not made any money, there is speculation that Anthony will be able to cash in on her notoriety with a book or television appearances. So far, however, she has remained in hiding since her release from jail.

It also comes as Judge Belvin Perry presided over a hearing Friday on whether Anthony should have to reimburse local and state authorities for money spent on Caylee’s search, according to ABC News’ affiliate WFTV in Orlando. Anthony admitted to and was convicted on four counts of lying to authorities. One of her admitted lies was that Caylee had been snatched by a babysitter, triggering a massive investigation and search.

Anthony could be facing bills that add up to more than $500,000. Agencies including the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s office have all been called to testify regarding how much money they spent in the search for Caylee, according to WFTV.

Prosecutors want Anthony to pay up for every day from July 15, 2008 when Caylee was reported missing to Sept. 19, 2008 when her remains were identified.

Friday’s hearing is one of several lawsuits Anthony can anticipate.

Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, the woman who shared a name with the fictional nanny Anthony claimed abducted Caylee, is suing Anthony for defamation.

“When Zenaida first came to me, we never thought Casey would see the light of day again,” Fernandez-Gonzalez’s attorney John Morgan told ABCNews.com. “It was never about money in the beginning. Now, it’s about accountability and responsibility.”

According to Morgan, Fernandez-Gonzalez received threatening phone calls, lost her home and lost her job because of Anthony’s use of her name.

Anthony is scheduled to do a video deposition for the defamation lawsuit next month and the trial has been tentatively set for April 2012.

Anthony is also facing a suit for $100,000 by EquuSearch, the volunteer search organization that hunted for Caylee after being assured by Anthony that her daughter was alive and pleading with them to help find Caylee.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

Judge Walton Will Allow Retrial for Roger Clemens

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Judge Reggie Walton has allowed a retrial in the case of Roger Clemens which he set to begin on April 16, 2012. Walton had previously declared a mistrial on July 14 after only two days of testimony, when prosecutors defied his order by introducing evidence that Walton had ruled could not be shown to the jury.

During arguments Friday Clemens’ defense attorney Michael Attanasio stated that the prosecutors willfully violated the judge’s order to force a mistrial alleging that they had to, “win at all costs” since they did not like the jury that had been seated and that they had insight into the defense strategy after opening statements had been made in the trial.

In making his ruling Judge Walton said, “I have nothing based on my past experience with counsel that this was their intent … I find it difficult to believe that Mr. [Steve] Durham intentionally violated an order,” Walton said about prosecutor Steve Durham.
 
“I don’t think on the record that we have here -- that there is a double jeopardy bar,” Walton ruled, referencing the 5th amendment of the Constitution.
 
Clemens lawyer argued before Judge Reggie Walton Friday that a retrial was not appropriate since the prosecutors now knew the defense strategy and they said future jury pools would be tainted.
 
Clemens defense attorney Michael Attanasio began his argument before Judge Reggie Walton by saying, “Something has gone wrong here … and that something is a win at all cost mentality.”

Clemens was indicted in August 2010 on charges of obstruction of Congress, perjury and false statements for testimony he gave to Congress in February 2008 regarding the use of performance enhancing drugs, specifically steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH.  Clemens’ former trainer, Brian McNamee, has acknowledged that he injected former teammate Andy Pettitte with HGH in 2002 and 2004 and both men were to be key witnesses for the prosecution against Clemens.
 
When he declared the mistrial in July, Judge Walton blasted the prosecutors after they showed the jury extended parts of Clemens congressional appearance on Feb. 13, 2008, which referenced conversations Andy Pettitte had with his wife Laura Pettitte about the use of HGH.  Before the trial Walton issued a ruling that statements that Mr. Pettitte made to his wife could not be admitted or shown to the jury.

At the end of the hearing Walton said he was very troubled by the events but that the double jeopardy standard had not been met with the record that had been presented to him. Walton set jury selection to begin on April 16, 2012.
 
It is expected the defense team will appeal, Clemens team nor the prosecutors commented when they departed the courthouse since there is a gag-order in place.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio