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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Tuesday
Mar272012

Trayvon Martin Investigator Wanted Manslaughter Charge

Orange County Jail(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The lead homicide investigator in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin recommended that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting, multiple sources told ABC News.

But Sanford, Fla., Investigator Chris Serino was instructed to not press charges against Zimmerman because the state attorney's office headed by Norman Wolfinger determined there wasn't enough evidence to lead to a conviction, the sources told ABC News.

Police brought Zimmerman into the station for questioning for a few hours on the night of the shooting, said Zimmerman's attorney, despite his request for medical attention first. Ultimately they had to accept Zimmerman's claim of self defense. He was never charged with a crime.

Serino filed an affidavit on Feb. 26, the night that Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman, that stated he was unconvinced Zimmerman's version of events.

Zimmerman, 28, claimed he shot Martin, 17, in self defense.

One complicating factor in the investigation was that the first detective to interview Zimmerman about the shooting was a narcotics officer rather than a homicide detective.

The State Attorney's office said only "no comment" when asked about the affidavit Tuesday.

The revelation is the latest salvo in a war of leaks meant to bolster each side amid rising tension over the shooting.

Martin's parents appeared before a House panel Tuesday and rallies continue around the country demanding that Zimmerman be arrested.

The case has triggered national interest with pro-Martin rallies in cities from coast to coast.

Martin was shot as he made his way to his father's fiance's house while returning from a convenience store where he bought a pack of Skittles and iced tea. He was followed by Zimmerman who found him suspicious. At some point, Zimmerman ignored the suggestion from a 911 dispatcher that he stop following Martin, left his truck and went to look for Martin. At the same time, Martin was on the phone with his girlfriend and complained that someone was following him.

What happened then is not clear. The girlfriend has said that she heard Martin ask someone, "Why are you following me?" before the sounds of a scuffle and the phone was disconnected.

Leaks from the police report detail Zimmerman telling police he was heading back to his truck when Martin knocked him down with a punch to his nose, jumped on him, repeatedly banged his head on the ground, then tried to grab Zimmerman's gun.

In a struggle for Zimmerman's gun, the watchman shot the teenager, Zimmerman told police.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

JetBlue Captain's Behavior Forces Plane Landing

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A JetBlue pilot acting erratically was allegedly locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot, causing an airplane traveling from New York to Las Vegas to be diverted to Texas.

A passenger sitting close to the front of the plane told ABC News that the co-pilot walked out of the cockpit and went to the bathroom before the incident happened.

"The guy was in the bathroom for a while and the pilot inside the cockpit locked the flight door," the passenger said. "Passengers noticed the guy acting weird when he came out of the bathroom."

The unruly pilot then went to the cockpit and started pounding on the door. The passenger heard someone yelling "bomb" and "we're going down." The passenger believes it was the pilot who had been locked out.

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A co-pilot remained in the cockpit and was flying the plane, designated as Flight 191, which was carrying 135 passengers and six crew members.

The passenger said it was a "crazy scene" that ended when a group of male passengers restrained the disorderly pilot at the front of the plane until it was able to land.

A government source told ABC News that the pilot was subdued by an off-duty New York City police officer and an off-duty JetBlue pilot who were traveling on the flight.

The off-duty pilot flight helped land the plane in Texas.

"At roughly 10 a.m. CT/11 a.m. ET, the pilot in command elected to divert to Amarillo, Texas, for a medical situation involving the captain," JetBlue said in a statement.

"Another captain, traveling off duty, entered the flight deck prior to landing at Amarillo, and took over the duties of the ill crewmember once on the ground," the statement said. "The aircraft arrived Amarillo at 10:11 am CT, and the crewmember was removed from the aircraft and taken to a local medical facility."

The captain is now in FBI custody.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

Key Supreme Court Justices Skeptical of 'Obamacare' Mandate

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two years after President Obama signed the signature achievement of his administration, the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether a key provision of the law is constitutional.

In a courtroom stuffed with spectators, the justices focused intently on the individual mandate, the part of the law that requires most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who seemed at times nervous and hoarse, arguing on behalf of the law, told the justices that the health care law was passed to address a "fundamental and enduring problem" in that millions of Americans were unable to get health care.

But the conservatives on the bench had some tough questions for the government lawyer.

Justice Anthony Kennedy got right to the core of argument. "Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?" he asked, referring to an argument from the challengers of the law who say that while Congress can regulate interstate commerce, it cannot force someone into the marketplace.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito asked Verrilli about the limits of federal power.

"Can the government require you to buy a cellphone?" Roberts asked.

"Do you think there is a market for burial services?" Alito said.

Alito also asked the government: "Could you express your limiting principles as succinctly as possible?"

[ CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TUESDAY’S ARGUMENTS IN FULL ]

[
CLICK HERE FOR A TRANSCRIPT OF TUESDAY’S ARGUMENTS ]

Kennedy suggested that the law which requires "the individual citizen" to act "is different from what we have in previous cases and that changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in the very fundamental way."

Verrilli repeated that the law was not about forcing someone to buy a product, but regulating how it is paid for.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to the government's side, pointing out that those people who choose not to buy health care affect the market place in a "major way" by shifting costs to those people who are insured, doctors and the insurance companies.

Paul D. Clement, arguing on behalf of 26 states challenging the law, said the individual mandate was "an unprecedented effort to compel an individual to enter into commerce" and said the law was "without any limiting principles."

But liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan seemed skeptical of Clement's argument that the government could have mandated individuals to buy insurance not in advance, but "at the point of consumption," at the hospital for example. Is this just a "matter of timing?" Kagan asked.

More than once, Roberts pointed out to lawyers challenging the law a key aspect of the government's argument: that health care is different than other markets because everyone will eventually find themselves, sometime in their lives, in need of health insurance. And Kennedy wondered about how a young person who is uninsured might affect the market.

Justice Kennedy, who is sometimes seen as the swing vote on the court, picked up on the government's argument that the health care market is unique. While he said he was concerned about the limits of that principle, he conceded that a young person who chose not to buy health care insurance could "be very close" to affecting the rates of insurance in a way that is not true in other industries.

"That's my concern" Kennedy said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

New SAT Security Changes After NY Cheating Ring

Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After last year's scandal on New York's Long Island that involved high school students paying others to take the SAT for them, the College Board announced security changes Tuesday.

"We are confident that the security enhancements announced today will help maintain an honest and fair testing environment for the millions of students who take the SAT each year as part of the college admission process," said Kathryn Juric, vice president of the College Board for the SAT Program.

"These reforms close a gaping hole in standardized test security that allowed students to cheat and steal admissions offers and scholarship money from kids who played by the rules," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. "Millions of college-bound students who take the SAT and ACT each year should have renewed confidence that honest applicants will not take a back seat to cheaters, and that those who cheat will be caught."

In September, an alleged SAT cheating ring was uncovered on Long Island and seven students were arrested. Prosecutors said that at least six high school students had paid collegiate Sam Eshaghoff thousands of dollars to take the test for them. But by November, the college entrance exam cheating scandal had grown, with 12 more students facing felony charges.

A total of 20 teens were arrested for either impersonating someone and taking the test or paying someone to take it for them, Rice said.

Last year, the College Board said that the agency and the Educational Testing Services would review its security enhancements. ETS also hired a firm led by former FBI director Louis Freeh to determine whether its security procedures were deficient.

The College Board's reforms, which will take effect in the fall, include test-takers either uploading a picture of themselves during registration or mailing an image to the testing agency and proctors more frequently checking IDs. The photos submitted by the students will be printed on their admission ticket and test center will have them. The uploaded photos would be retained in a database and made available to high school and college admissions officials.

The rival ACT is also changing its security measures.

"ACT is proud to announce new safeguards that will further ensure the integrity of the testing process and meet students in the tech-savvy world they live in today," said Jon Erickson, president of ACT Education. "Under our revised test security protocols, test security will be enhanced by the latest Web and photography technology, while being reinforced by the people who know the students best -- the teachers and counselors at their high schools."

According to the College Board website, more than 2 million students take the test each year. Last year, 138 scores were canceled after ETS found that students had cheated on their exams.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

Trayvon Martin Dogged by School Suspensions

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was shot dead during a scuffle with a neighborhood watchman, was suspended from his Miami school three times over the past year, according to his family's attorney.

The revelation that Martin, 17, was dogged by disciplinary problems at school was the latest salvo in a war of leaks meant to bolster each side amid rising tension over the Feb. 26 shooting.

Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, will appear before a House panel on Tuesday, and rallies continue around the country demanding that George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old watchman who shot Martin, be arrested.

Family attorney Benjamin Crump confirmed to ABC News that Martin had been slapped with a 10-day school suspension after a bag with suspected marijuana was found in his backpack.

Last year, Martin was also suspended for spraying graffiti on school grounds.  The Miami Herald reported that the school guard who stopped him searched his backpack and found 12 items of women's jewelry and a flathead screw driver that the guard believed to be a "burglary implement."  But Martin was never charged or specifically disciplined for the incident.

Crump alleged that Sanford police had leaked damaging information about Martin in order to muddy the case, calling it a "conspiracy."  The attorney called the school disciplinary problems "irrelevant" to the case that "an unarmed 17-year-old kid was killed."

The case has triggered national interest, with pro-Martin rallies erupting in cities from coast to coast.  Martin's mother has moved to trademark two popular rallying cries, "I am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon."  The family said it does not want other people printing memorabilia.

"Sybrina Fulton has no desire to profit from her son's death, but wants to protect her son's name legacy," said family representative Ryan Julison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

Colorado Wildfire Kills One, Forces Hundreds to Evacuate

Hemera Technologies/ThinkstockUPDATE: A second fatality was reported early Tuesday afternoon.

(DENVER) -- One person was killed and hundreds more evacuated from their homes in Colorado on Monday as a fast-moving wildfire burned through more than four-and-a-half square miles, authorities said.

The death was confirmed overnight by the sheriff's office in Jefferson County, a largely rural area 25 miles southwest of Denver where the wildfire was first reported midday Monday.

Authorities said the fire, which officials suspect flared up from a controlled burn in the area last week, spread quickly because of dry and windy conditions in the area.

More than 900 homes were evacuated Monday, and authorities overnight told homeowners in surrounding neighborhoods to be ready to leave immediately should the direction of the flame shift.

Authorities said the fire was spread by winds gusting as high as 70 miles per hour and that made it grow more than 100 times in size in just a matter of hours.

Jefferson County officials were asking for help from fire departments as far away as Arizona to assist the nearly 100 firefighters on the ground now.  Authorities also hoped to have air tankers available to drop fire retardant on the flames Tuesday.

“We’ve asked for air support and we’re hoping, crossing our fingers, that we get that tomorrow,” Jefferson County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacki Kelly said Monday.  “We asked for it today and they simply couldn’t fly because it’s too dangerous.”

Evacuees were moved to temporary shelters in two high schools and the Red Cross was activating its resources to help as well.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

Supreme Court Hears ‘Obamacare’ Challenge on Individual Mandate

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the second day of arguments regarding health care, Supreme Court justices are considering the key constitutional issue, whether the government can compel Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine or tax. That provision kicks in 2014.

The government argues that Congress had the authority to pass the law under the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause and its taxing power.

But opponents of the law – 26 states, four individuals and a small-business group – say Congress has no authority to force someone into the marketplace. They argue that if Congress has the power to pass the mandate, that would mean that the scope of its power is unlimited.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

Missing Vermont Teacher: Police Warn Town as Body Possibly Found

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt.) -- The discovery of a body believed to be that of teacher Melissa Jenkins, whose SUV was found earlier this week still running with her 2-year-old son inside, has left police alarmed that whoever might have harmed her will strike again.

The body of Jenkins, 33, from St. Johnsbury, Vt., is believed to have been found 16 hours after she vanished on a dark Vermont road Sunday night.  Residents of the town of fewer than 8,000 people, which sits roughly 40 miles from the Canadian border, were stunned after her disappearance and the discovery of the body.  Police are telling the public to remain vigilant.

"I cannot disclose the details of how the body was found or the condition of the body, but this death is considered suspicious," Det. Sgt. Walter Smith said Monday.  "We don't know if it's an isolated incident, we expect the public to use all diligence and vigilance while out and about."

More than 100 friends and family members braved frigid winds at a candlelight service Monday for the teacher who taught science at St. Johnsbury Academy, a boarding school of about 970 students.

Jenkins was also a freshmen basketball coach and a dorm proctor until the birth of her son.  She also worked a second job, moonlighting part-time as a waitress at the Creamery Restaurant in Danville, Vt.

Her vehicle was recovered Sunday evening after a friend who had been looking for the single mother contacted the police.  The body that is believed to be her was found in the nearby town of Barnet, Vt.  Police say Jenkins had no restraining orders out on anyone.

"[This is] something you would never think of in this small town we have here," family friend Ron Craig told ABC News.

Family members believe Jenkins left home to help someone with car trouble, but exactly whom she planned to meet is a mystery.

A family friend is caring for Jenkins' toddler.  The boy's father, B.J. Robertson, would not comment about Jenkins. 

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar262012

Shallow Grave Could Be That of Two Missing Michigan Women

Comstock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- A grisly discovery made this weekend on the west side of Detroit could help solve the mysterious case of what happened to Abreeya Brown and Ashley Conaway, who were forced into the trunk of a car and abducted Feb. 28 by two armed men.

A shootout between Brown’s stepfather and the suspects ensued before the car sped away. Brown, 18, and Conaway, 21, were never seen again. But acting on a tip Sunday evening, police found what they hope will break open this case. “We have unearthed in a shallow grave, the remains of two females, on the surface fit the description of the two young ladies we were looking for,” said Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee.

Though no one has been formally charged in the disappearance of the women, Conaway’s ex-boyfriend, 26-year-old Brandon Cain, has long been a suspect in their disappearance. When the two girls went missing, Conaway’s family told police that she had recently tried to break things off with Cain and that he even fired gunshots at her and Brown after that.

Cain and another man, 24-year-old Brian Lee, are already in police custody for shooting at the woman on Feb. 8. But even after Sunday’s discovery Police Chief Godbee says murder charges are still a long way off.

While this weekend’s discovery might bring answers to the two missing girl’s families, they still want justice to be served.  "Life without parole with what they did here. They deserve it. They took these girls' lives away from them forever," Brown’s aunt, Jacquelyn Porter, told ABC News’ Detroit affiliate WXYZ.

Autopsies on the bodies are expected to be done Monday. In the meantime, police will continue to examine evidence found near the shallow grave.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar262012

Soldier Charged in Drug Running, Murder for Hire

Colorado County Sheriff's Office(WASHINGTON) -- A lieutenant in the U.S. Army allegedly was willing to work with drug runners and to execute a murder-for-hire plot, according to Justice Department officials.

The Justice Department on Monday announced charges against Kevin D. Corley, who, during much of the alleged plot, was a first lieutenant in the Army and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Federal prosecutors say they became aware of Corley in January 2011 after an associate of his allegedly told DEA agents posing as members of the Los Zetas Cartel "about a friend in the military who could provide military weapons to them."

"The agents were later introduced to Corley, who allegedly identified himself as an active duty officer in the Army responsible for training soldiers," a Justice Department release said. "He offered to provide tactical training for cartel members and to purchase weapons for the cartel under his name."

Authorities claim Corley began to discuss military tactics and even mailed operatives an official Army book on the subject. He allegedly said that for a fee he could could train 40 cartel members in two weeks.

The topic then supposedly turned to the subject of a plan to "raid a ranch where 20 kilograms of stolen cocaine were being kept by rival cartel members."

"Corley confirmed he would conduct the contract killing with a small team, at a minimum comprised of himself and another person who he described as an active duty soldier with whom he had already consulted," prosecutors say.

According to the complaint, Corley agreed to perform the contract killing and retrieve the 20 kilograms of cocaine in exchange for $50,000 and five kilograms of cocaine. He allegedly offered to refund the money if the victim survived and agreed to provide security for marijuana shipments in the United States.

"On March 5, 2012, Corley delivered two AR-15 assault rifles with scopes, an airsoft assault rifle, five allegedly stolen ballistic vests and other miscellaneous equipment to an undercover agent in Colorado Springs, in exchange for $10,000," prosecutors said in a statement.

"At the meeting, Corley and the undercover agent allegedly again discussed the contract killing and the retrieval of the cocaine, which was to occur on March 24, 2012," the complaint said. "Corley allegedly stated he had purchased a new Ka-Bar knife to carve a 'Z' into the victim's chest and was planning on buying a hatchet to dismember the body."

The story ends on March 24, when Corley and two other suspects allegedly traveled to Laredo and met with undercover agents, at which time they discussed the location of the intended victim, the logistics of performing the contract kill and their respective roles.

The three were arrested, during which time a fourth suspect was shot and killed, agents say.

The three are charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine; use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking or violent crime; and conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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