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Entries in Arizona (224)

Saturday
Aug032013

Ariz. Cardinals Cheerleader Arrested for Allegedly Attacking Boyfriend

Arizona Cardinals | Scottsdale Police Department - Obtained by ABC News(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) -- An Iraq War veteran turned NFL cheerleader was arrested for aggravated assault and disorderly conduct after she allegedly attacked her boyfriend, who captured the incident on his cell phone.

Megan Welter, 29, of Scottsdale, Ariz., is seen on cell phone video obtained by ABC News angrily questioning her boyfriend about text messages between him and a female friend.

"Who is she!" Welter is heard screaming in the footage as her boyfriend, who has not been identified, tries to calm her down.

Police were called to the couple's home after Welter placed a 911 call and accused her boyfriend of attacking her.

"He smashed my head into tile," she is heard saying on the recording.

Video footage released by the Scottsdale Police Department that was shot at the scene of the alleged domestic dispute shows Welter pleading with officers to get her boyfriend out of the home.

But it was Welter who ended up being taken into custody on July 20 after her boyfriend countered with his side of the story. "I was asking her to stop, I was trying to leave, she was pulling out my hair, she was scratching me, she was punching me in my face and I have everything on tape," her boyfriend said.

Authorities said both parties admit to drinking heavily on the night of the argument. Welter was reportedly so drunk she could not say what had happened.

Welter has cheered for the Arizona Cardinals for two years, according to the team's website. But she's recently made headlines for her service in the Iraq War, where she spent 16 months.

"Our country has given us so many freedoms and to be a part of fighting for that and maintaining that, it means a lot," she told ABC's Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV.

Welter's boyfriend told ABC's Good Morning America that he hopes the incident "doesn't take away from the good things she's done for the NFL and for her country."

"I want people to know that she's a wonderful, beautiful woman who had a momentary lapse of judgment," he said.

A representative for the Arizona Cardinals did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul042013

Arizona Wildfire Now Partially Contained

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images(YARNELL, Ariz.) -- The Arizona wildfire that killed 19 men continues to burn, however, crews are making progress with the flames as the blaze is about 45 percent contained.

The conditions are very dry, so officials are being overly cautious. They hope to deliberately work to determine the best way to operate against the flames, according to Fire Information Officer Suzanne Flory.

Nearly 700 firefighters are working to contain and extinguish the flames, reports ABC's affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix. The goal is to contain the east side of the wildfire on Thursday and if all goes as planned, some residents could begin returning to their neighborhoods this weekend.

Memorial services for the 19 firefighters killed are scheduled for July 9 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May252013

Judge Says Sheriff Joe Arpaio Racially Profiled Latinos

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz.) -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is famous for chasing after undocumented immigrants in his Arizona jurisdiction.

But the man known as "America's Toughest Sheriff" hasn't been following the law, according to a decision issued by a federal judge on Friday.

The judge found that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) has systematically employed racial profiling against Hispanics. The office was ordered to stop using Hispanic ancestry as a factor in making law-enforcement decisions.

"The MCSO is disappointed by the outcome in this decision," said Tim Casey, a lawyer for the sheriff's office. "The MCSO's position is that it has never used race and will never use race in making its law-enforcement decisions."

Arpaio can appeal the decision, but Casey said that they would begin working internally to remedy any problems raised in the ruling.

"The sheriff respects the court and its authority and it will comply," Casey said.

The four-and-a-half-year case involved several plaintiffs, including two Latino siblings from Chicago who believed they had been subject to racial profiling, according to The Arizona Republic.

The parties were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and pro-bono attorneys from a Bay-Area law firm.

Dan Pochoda, the legal director for the ACLU of Arizona, said this was a victory for community members in Maricopa who have spoken out against Arpaio over this exact issue.

"The sheriff's pronouncement that he's never been found to do anything wrong is going to have to go by the wayside," Pochoda said.

The practical implications are unclear -- it's possible the office may need to undergo monitoring for the use of racial profiling, or supply data to the court to authenticate its practices, but not certain. The parties are scheduled to reconvene on June 14 to discuss implementation of the decision.

The ruling is a long-awaited victory for immigrant-rights activists who have criticized Arpaio's tactics for years. The judge's ruling explicitly points out that Arpaio overstepped the line when trying to enforce immigration laws.

"The evidence introduced at trial establishes that, in the past, the MCSO has aggressively protected its right to engage in immigration and immigration-related enforcement operations even when it had no accurate legal basis for doing so," U.S. District Judge Murray Snow wrote.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May112013

Arizona Police Officer Gives Bike to Teen Who Walks Nine Miles to Work

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- For one man in Arizona, getting pulled over by a police officer might have been the best thing to ever happen to him.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Natalie Simonick, 46, was on patrol around 11 p.m., when she saw a young man walking alone in a dark and desolate area who she thought might be violating curfew.

“And I pulled over and I asked him what he was doing,” Simonick told ABC News. “He said, ‘Walking home, I missed the bus.’”

After the young man, Christian Felix, showed Simonick his ID proving he was 18 years old, the sergeant offered Felix a courtesy ride home. Then Simonick learned Felix had never ridden a bike before.

“He never had a father in his life, so he had no one to teach him,” Simonick said.

By the end of the ride home Simonick was shocked.  It turned out Felix would walk the 9 mile distance to his home from his job at McDonald’s if he missed his bus.

Simonick was impressed by the young man. “He doesn’t drink and doesn’t smoke,” she said. “He had never had any contact with police as far as negative contact.”

After that night, Simonick spoke to her husband, who said she could give Felix their extra bike.  The other members of her squad agreed to help teach Felix how to ride a bike.

“It’s really something when someone comes up on the street and offers to do a kindness for you,” Felix told ABC affiliate KNXV. “These days you don’t see anything like that.”

Last month, Felix had his first bike lesson at the Phoenix police precinct parking lot.

"Two of my officers stood on either side of him and pushed him," Simonick said. "He was a little wobbly and rode into one of the poles, but my guys were right there to catch him."

After 45 minutes, Felix was riding on his own, and he and Simonick rode together around the lot.

Since then, the two have kept in touch, and Simonick said she wants to continue to help Felix.  So what’s Simonick’s next project?

“Well he did say that he’s never driven a car before,” Simonick joked.  "First things first I’ll see how he does with the bicycle.”

As for the attention, Simonick said she just wanted to show Felix that there are people out there who care.

“If everybody could help just one person in the world like this, I think it would definitely be a better place to life.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar112013

Ariz. Couple Who Won Million-Dollar Lottery Twice Credits Persistence

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- An Arizona couple who beat overwhelming odds to win a million-dollar lottery jackpot twice in less than 20 years says it was not luck, but persistence and a healthy dose of superstition that led to their wins.

Diane and Kerry Carmichael have just bagged a million dollars in the Arizona state lottery. The Tempe, Ariz., couple won $2.5 million in 1995.

“The odds of winning twice are in the billions to one,” Diane told ABC News.

She says that shattering such odds had little to do with gambling, but more with self-belief.

“When we first won, it wasn’t, if we were going to win again, it was when,” Diane said.  “About two years or so ago, the feeling returned.”

They say they have dropped $200 on lottery tickets every week, adding up to $10,000 every year, since 1984.  So, now, they’ve spent about $200,000 on tickets.

“It’s persistence,” she said.

They also mix in a little superstition.  They always buy from the same lottery office in Phoenix, and they have their method.  Still, the odds of this double win are stratospherically high.

Diane says that despite the two huge windfalls, she and her husband still live relatively modest lifestyles.

“We’re just not big spenders,” she said.  “We don’t have a big-screen TV.  Our cars are nine years and 13 years old, respectively.”

After their first win, the couple asked for their money in $125,000-per-year installments, with the last payment due next year.  They said they’re still going to play every week.

“I still think there’s one out there,” she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb202013

Jodi Arias Finishes Testimony Describing Killing

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- Jodi Arias stepped down from the witness stand Wednesday after mounting an emotional effort to save herself from death row, insisting to the Arizona jury that an explosive fight with ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander led to his death, and that her lies about killing him masked deep regret and plans to commit suicide.

Arias, 32, will now face what is expected to be a withering cross-examination beginning Thursday from prosecutor Juan Martinez, who has been aggressive to many witnesses throughout the trial and who is expected to go after Arias' claim that she was forced to kill Alexander or be killed herself.

She has been charged with her ex-boyfriend's murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Wednesday's dramatic testimony started with Arias describing the beginning of the fight on June 4, 2008 when she and Alexander were taking nude photos in his shower and, she claims, she accidentally dropped his new camera, causing Alexander to lose his temper. Enraged, he picked her up and body-slammed her onto the tile floor, screaming at her, she told the jury.

Arias said she ran to his closet to get away from him, but could hear Alexander's footsteps coming after her down the hall. She grabbed a gun from his shelf and tried to keep running, but Alexander came after her, she said.

"I pointed it at him with both of my hands. I thought that would stop him, but he just kept running. He got like a linebacker. He got low and grabbed my waist, and as he was lunging at me the gun went off. I didn't mean to shoot. I didn't even think I was holding the trigger," she said.

"But he lunged at me and we fell really hard toward the tile wall, so at this point I didn't even know if he had been shot. I didn't see anything different. We were struggling, wrestling, he's a wrestler."

"So he's grabbing at my clothes and I got up, and he's screaming angry, and after I broke away from him. He said, 'F***ing kill you b****,'" she testified.

Asked by her lawyer whether she was convinced Alexander intended to kill her, Arias answered, "For sure. He'd almost killed me once before and now he's saying he was going to." Arias had earlier testified that Alexander had once choked her.

But Arias' story of the death struggle ended there as she told the court that she has no memory of stabbing or slashing Alexander, whose body was later found with 27 stab wounds, a slit throat and two bullets in his head. She said she only remembered standing in the bathroom, dropping the knife on the tile floor, realizing the "horror" of what had happened, and screaming.

"I have no memory of stabbing him," she said. "There's a huge gap. I don't know if I blacked out or what, but there's a huge gap. The most clear memory I have after that point is driving in the desert."

Arias said that she decided in the desert not to admit to killing Alexander, a decision that would last for two years as Arias lied to friends, family, investigators and reporters about what really happened in Alexander's bathroom.

She eventually confessed to killing her ex-boyfriend, but insisted it was self-defense.

"The main reason [for lying] is because I was very ashamed of what happened. It's not something I ever imagined doing. It's not the kind of person I was. It was just shameful," she said. "I was also very scared of what might happen. I didn't want my family to know that I had done that, and I just couldn't bring myself to say that I did that."

"From day one there was a part of me that always wanted to (tell the truth) but didn't dare do that. I would rather have gone to my grave than admit I had done something like that," she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb102013

Steven Seagal Calls Sheriff Joe’s Posse Critics ‘Embarrassment to Human Race’

Matthew Simmons/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Hollywood action star Steven Seagal has a few choice words for critics of his latest role.

On Saturday, the actor and martial arts expert guided members of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s volunteer posse through a simulated school shooting. Members of the volunteer posse, some of them armed, began patrolling areas surrounding schools in Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, in January.

Seagal’s involvement was called a “mockery” by an Arizona state legislator, while a group of protesters also voiced their concern over Arpaio’s school posse protection plan.

“Anybody who has criticized me or the sheriff for standing up to help the children, in my opinion, is an embarrassment to the human race,” Seagal told reporters on Saturday.

Two dozen high school students volunteered to participate in the simulation Saturday, while SWAT deputies posed as the shooters.

In one scenario, which was allowed to be filmed, students hid under cafeteria tables while under siege by a gunman, who was then taken down by volunteer posse members.

“I want everybody to know that we are going to be around those schools and if you do something, we will be armed and we are going into the schools to save our kids,” Arpaio said on Saturday.

The volunteer posse, which is nearly 3,500 members strong, has been used to patrol shopping malls during the holiday season, scope out undocumented immigrants, and investigate President Obama’s birth certificate.

Seagal occasionally worked as a deputy for the Jefferson Parish sheriff in Louisiana and had a reality show Steven Seagal: Lawman.

Arpaio, the self-styled “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” began sending armed posse members to patrol schools in January, following the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre and a more local threat that resulted in the Dec. 20 arrest of a 16-year-old student at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Ariz., for a plot to bomb the school and shoot the students and faculty.

“We’re not going to wait for all the politicians,” Arpaio said. “Talk, talk, talk.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan292013

Jodi Arias Expected to Testify This Week

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- Alleged killer Jodi Arias is expected to take the stand this week and will try to convince an Arizona jury that her third version of how her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander died -- that she killed him in self defense -- is what really happened when she stabbed and shot him in his bathroom.

Her attorneys will also try to paint a sympathetic picture of Arias as a soft-spoken aspiring artist and photographer who was a recent and devout convert to Mormonism.

Her lawyers will have to overcome the prosecution's image of a woman who can glibly lie to friends as well as police, about things as mundane as where she worked to how she killed Alexander.

"I don't know how she can not take the stand, getting her up there you can have her crying and sobbing, saying she loved him, how horrible it was.  I can't conceive how you wouldn't," said Melvin McDonald, a criminal defense attorney and former judge and prosecutor.  McDonald has opposed Arias' prosecutor Juan Martinez in the past.

"She has got be likeable, tearful, show remorse for what happened.  She has got to talk about the great times they had, talk about how he turned on her, how he was mean and ugly and demeaning, and the pictures he took and the pressure he would put on her, that sort of stuff," McDonald said.

Arias, now 32, has been in jail since admitting to killing Alexander, 29, in 2008.  She dated Alexander for a year and continued to have a sexual relationship with him for a year after they broke up.  Her attorneys claim she killed him in self-defense, and that he was a controlling, abusive boyfriend who took advantage of a nice girl who fell in love.

Alexander's friends, however, have depicted Arias as a jealous woman and a stalker.  Prosecutors argue that her jealousy drove her to plot Alexander's murder, driving from California to his house in Mesa, Ariz., to have sex with him, luring him into a vulnerable position, and then stabbing him 27 times and shooting him in the head.

The jury in the case will have to sort through the divergent portraits of Arias, who sits in court each day in conservative blouses and large glasses and who cries each time prosecutors discuss Alexander's death.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan272013

Hikers Trapped by Raging Flood Waters Rescued in Arizona 

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Search and rescue teams rescued dozens of hikers Saturday who were stranded by raging flood waters in Bear Canyon near Tucson.

The teams used ropes and flotation devices to rescue the 40 to 50 adult and children hikers who were trapped in high waters after heavy rains caused surprise floods. Waters apparently rose in Bear Canyon hours after a heavy downpour ended. Police responded to 911 calls on foot and in the air and used infrared technology to locate the stranded hikers.

A Pima County Deputy said police were able to rescue all of the hikers who called in.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan222013

Jodi Arias' Jailhouse Art Sells for $300 on eBay During Murder Trial

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- Drawings by Jodi Arias, the California woman facing the possibility of the death penalty for stabbing and shooting her boyfriend, are selling like collector's items online.

Colored pencil drawings by Arias have fetched hundreds of dollars so far on eBay, where a supporter outside of the Maricopa County jail has been posting and selling drawings she composes inside.

At least two drawings by Arias, one of actress Grace Kelly and one of an unidentified female model, are still posted on eBay for sale, with current bids at $300 and $405, respectively.  The money will go toward Arias and her family, according to the descriptions with the items.

"All profits go towards Jodi's family traveling expenses to the trial, other fees, and of course money for Jodi so she can eat better food than what they serve in jail," some of the descriptions have said.

The drawings are being sold by an anonymous eBay user, 0817soldierofchrist, who declined to comment when reached by ABC News.  The next two items to be posted, according to the user, will be drawings of Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball.

Arias, 32, has admitted to killing former beau Travis Alexander in his home in 2008, claiming it was an act of self defense against an abusive lover.

Prosecutors, however, argue that Arias only admitted to killing Alexander and claiming it was self defense after she was caught, telling investigators multiple times that she had nothing to do with the murder and was not in Mesa, Ariz., when Alexander was killed.  She later changed her story to say he was killed by two masked intruders, a man and a woman, before admitting that she killed Alexander.

Prosecutors allege she killed Alexander out of jealousy during a 24-hour road trip to Mesa.

Arias was an aspiring photographer when she was arrested in July 2008, nearly one month after Alexander's body was found.

The drawings posted on eBay have received free advertising from one of Arias' most vocal supporters, the website JodiAriasIsInnocent.com.  The person who runs that website, identified to ABC News as S.J., said they are not directly involved in the sale or auction of the drawings.

"All the artwork has been hand drawn by Jodi while she has been incarcerated," the website owner added.

Arias' attorneys are expected to begin presenting her defense on Tuesday, Jan. 29, after the prosecution rested last week.  The trial took a one-week hiatus this week.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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