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Wednesday
Sep282011

Petit Jury Shown Photos of Partially Nude, Bound Victim

Connecticut State Police(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Prosecutors trying a Connecticut man for murder Wednesday showed jurors photos of 11-year-old Michaela Petit, taken by her alleged killer as she lay partly naked and tied to her bed with a pillow case covering her face.

Suspect Joshua Komisarjevsky, 31, told detectives in his audio taped confession that he took the cellphone photos as a kind of blackmail and that he was prepared to send them to his accomplice, Steven Hayes, while he was at the bank with Michaela's mother, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, in case she didn't cooperate. Hayes had gone to the Bank of America to withdraw $15,000 from the family's bank account.

Michaela, her sister and her mother died in the 2007 home invasion.

Komisarjevsky began taking the photos at 7:27 a.m. that day and he took the last image at 9:14 a.m., according to John Brunetti, a forensic scientist with the Connecticut State Police. There were eight images in all.

Six images were of "a young, white girl" Brunetti testified. Two of the photos were of Komisarjevsky himself. In his audio taped confession, Komisarjevsky admitted to molesting the girl and ejaculating on her as she was tied to her bed.

All 18 jurors, including 6 alternates, looked at the pictures as the folder slowly passed from one to the next. Several of the jurors seemed subdued after viewing the images.

The bodies of Michaela,11, Hayley Petit, 17, and Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, were found in the charred remains of the Petits’ suburban home in Cheshire, Conn., July 23, 2007. Komisarjevsky could be ordered executed if he is convicted.

His accomplice, Steven Hayes, was found guilty last year and sentenced to death. Hayes is on Connecticut's death row.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug302011

Kids Sue Mom for Being Bad Parent and Lose

File photo. (Comstock/Thinkstock)(COOK COUNTY, Ill.) -- Illinois mom Kimberly Garrity applauded a court ruling Monday that threw out a lawsuit by her two children who had sued her for allegedly being a bad mom.

"We are very pleased with the court's decision," said Shelley Smith, Garrity's attorney.

In court papers, Smith called the complaint a "litany of childish complaints and ingratitude."

Garrity, 55, battled her kids Steven Miner, 23, and Kathryn Miner, 20, for two years. The children sought $50,000 for emotional distress stemming from the damage of her supposed bad mothering.

The case was originally tossed by a Cook County circuit court, but the kids appealed. Last week, an Illinois appellate court also dismissed it.

Raised in a $1.5 million home by their father, the children alleged the Garrity was a lousy mom because she failed to send money for birthdays, called her daughter home early from homecoming, and threatened to call the police on her son, then 7, if he didn't buckle up in the car.

Steven also accused his mother of once smacking him on the head, saying that he still suffers from headaches. One of the exhibits in the case included a birthday card that Steven called "inappropriate" because it failed to include cash or a check.

When contacted by ABC News, Kathryn Miner said, "I have no comment."

In its ruling, the appellate court said that it found that none of Garrity's behavior could be ruled "extreme or outrageous."

"Such alleged actions are unpleasant and perhaps insensitive, and some would arguably fall outside the realm of 'good mothering,' but they are not so shocking as to form a basis for a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress," the court ruled.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug222011

Casey Anthony Back in Florida

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony, the Florida woman acquitted of murdering daughter Caylee, is back in her home state of Florida, defense attorney Jose Baez told a media outlet.

In an interview with Fox News, Baez confirmed his 25-year-old client's whereabouts.

"She is back in Florida. We brought her back in the event the appellate court rules sometime this week. And we're going to follow the letter of the law," Baez told Fox News' Geraldo Rivera on Sunday.

Anthony was ordered earlier this month by Judge Belvin Perry to return to Florida to serve a year's probation stemming from a check fraud case. She is scheduled to report by Aug. 26. Her defense team has appealed that decision.

Since her release from the Orange County Jail on July 17, Anthony's only confirmed whereabouts have been in Ohio, where photos and video posted by TMZ.com showed her shopping in an Old Navy store and walking with a frozen drink in her hand.

The dispute over Anthony's probation stems from a check fraud conviction in 2010. Before her first degree murder trial, Anthony pleaded guilty to stealing checks from best friend Amy Huizenga during the time that Caylee was missing.

Judge Stan Strickland, who presided over that case, ordered Anthony to serve 412 days in jail and a year's probation when she was released from jail. An error was made on the written sentencing documents, which allowed Anthony, 25, to serve her probation while in jail awaiting trial.

Anthony's defense lawyers claimed that forcing Anthony to serve probation again is an "illegal sentence" and puts her in harm's way especially if she must serve the probation in Florida. Anthony was the subject of public vitriol and death threats throughout her trial, and following her release.

Perry criticized defense attorney Baez for allowing his client to serve probation while in jail when he knew it was against the court's wishes.

The Florida Bar is investigating Baez over his handling of his client's probation in the check fraud case, ABC Affiliate WFTV reported.

Baez responded to WFTV saying, "I am looking forward to the Bar completing its investigation, so that it can be dismissed just like the 20 previous complaints. It is part of the job whenever you fight an unpopular case."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug122011

Casey Anthony Ordered to Come Out of Hiding, Report for Probation

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony, the Florida woman acquitted of murdering daughter Caylee, must emerge from hiding and return to Orlando, Fla., by Aug. 26, a judge ordered Friday.

Judge Belvin Perry issued a written order that Anthony, 25, must report to the Department of Corrections in two weeks to serve a year of supervised probation.

Anthony's probation stems from a check fraud conviction in 2010. Prior to her first degree murder trial, Anthony pleaded guilty to stealing checks from her best friend Amy Huizenga during the time that Caylee was missing.

The judge who presided over that case, Stan Strickland, ordered Anthony to serve 412 days in jail and a year's probation when she was released from jail. An error was made on the written sentencing documents which allowed Anthony to serve her probation while in jail awaiting her murder trial.

Last month, Strickland filed an amended order demanding Anthony return to Florida to serve a year's probation. Her defense attorneys claimed her probation had already been completed and they filed for an emergency hearing on the matter.

During that hearing, Judge Perry said that Anthony should not have been allowed to serve her probation while in jail. He said at the time that the situation was a "legal morass" and he was unsure how to rule.

"It's not a clear black and white issue," Perry said on Aug. 5. "I can't answer the question if someone is erroneously placed on probation can they be made to redo it...I just don't know the answer at this time."

Anthony, who’s received death threats since her acquittal, has been in hiding since she left the Orange County Jail on July 17.

The order to return to Florida follows the release of a report by Florida's Department of Children and Families. They ruled that Anthony's failure to protect Caylee contributed to the child's death and that she harmed her daughter by failing to report her missing.

Caylee, 2, wasn't reported missing until July 15, 2008, 31 days after she was last seen alive. It was Anthony's mother, Cindy Anthony, who reported the toddler had disappeared.

For years, Anthony contended that a nanny had stolen the child, but her defense argued during her murder trial that Caylee had accidentally drowned in the family pool.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug042011

Polygamist Warren Jeffs Guilty of Child Rape

Douglas C. Pizac-Pool/Getty Images(SAN ANGELO, Texas) -- A jury has found polygamist religious leader Warren Jeffs guilty of child rape.

Jeffs, the leader of a radical polygamist sect of Mormonism known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS), was found guilty of forcing two teenage girls into "spiritual marriage," and fathering a child with one of them when she was 15. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Jeffs, who acted as his own lawyer, called only one witness in his defense. The witness was a fellow member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints who, at Jeffs' direction, read at length from the Book of Mormon. During the trial, Jeffs frequently interrupted testimony.

He ended the trial in silence Thursday, standing mute for nearly half an hour during the time designated for his closing argument.

Every five minutes, District Court Judge Barbara Walther would remind Jeffs of the time. Spectators in the gallery exchanged smiles and odd glances. One security officer did his best to stifle a yawn.

Finally, at the conclusion of the 25 minutes allotted to Jeffs for his summation, Jeffs turned toward the jury with a slight smile and said quietly, "I am at peace."

Texas state prosecutors wrapped up their case against Jeffs by using his own words against him: a disturbing August 2006 recording of what Jeffs' called a "heavenly comfort" training session with three of his so-called "spiritual wives."

Earlier, lead prosecutor Eric Nichols gave an impassioned closing argument as he summarized the evidence for the jury, occasionally jabbing his finger toward Jeffs. He urged them to convict Jeffs, who he said cast sexual acts in terms of religious principals.

One of the females was exactly 12 years, one month, and three days old when the recording was made. Jeffs was charged with aggravated sexual assault for this incident, considered a first-degree felony.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul262011

Mom of Boy Killed By Driver Gets Probation

Aaron Newman, four, was killed on a Georgia road in April of last year by a hit and run driver. (ABC News)(ATLANTA) -- A single mom who was charged with vehicular homicide after her 4-year-old son was killed by a hit-and-run driver was sentenced Tuesday to a year's probation and community service.

Raquel Nelson, 30, was charged with vehicular homicide because she was not crossing the street at the crosswalk in Marietta, Ga., at the time of the accident last year.

Nelson faced up to three years in jail on the charges, but Judge Kathryn Tanksley instead gave her 12 months probation on each of two charges, vehicular homicide and failure to use the crosswalk, but combined the two counts into a year's probation.

In addition, she was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service.

In an unusual move, Tanksley also offered Nelson a new trial, telling her that if she is found innocent of the charges her record would be cleared.

The judge said she had received letters of support for Nelson from across the country, and the online group Change.org claims to have delivered 125,000 signatures on a petition in support of Nelson and to demand a crosswalk at the site of the accident.

Prosecutors told the court that they never intended to seek jail time for Nelson, and several characters witnesses spoke glowingly of the woman who volunteered at school events.

The driver of the car was given six months in jail for hitting Nelson, one of her daughters and her son Aaron Newman last year, and then fleeing the scene.

Nelson was originally charged with reckless conduct, improperly crossing a roadway and second-degree homicide by vehicle.

Jerry Guy, the man who hit the family and never stopped, reportedly admitted drinking "a little" alcohol earlier in the day. He also admitted to being on painkillers and being partially blind in one eye.

Guy had been convicted of two previous hit and run accidents. He pleaded guilty to the hit and run that took A.J.'s life and served six months in jail.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul212011

Casey Anthony's Defense Bills State $147,000

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony's defense team has billed the state of Florida more than $147,000 to defend the woman acquitted of murdering her daughter, Caylee.

Anthony's lawyers, led by Jose Baez, have tallied their costs at $147,018.60 so far, according to records from Florida's Justice Administrative Commission. The state has already paid $118,847.75 of that bill. They've refused to pay nearly $12,000 of the defense's cost.

Things that the state refuses to pay for include some of the costs for deposition transcripts, the use of independent contractors and some of the defense team's travel costs.

None of the money paid by the state of Florida will pay any of the defense attorneys' salaries.

Casey Anthony, who lied about having a job at Universal Studios, was ruled indigent in March 2010 and the state took on the cost of her defense.

The largest expense was more than $67,000 on independent contractors to aid their investigation.

Another $21,000 was spent on expert witnesses. The state is paying all of those costs. The defense called several witnesses to cast doubt on the state's forensic evidence concerning the car abandoned by Anthony when Caylee disappeared, Caylee's remains and the wooded area where the 2-year-old girl was found.

A group of activists and lawmakers are fighting for passage of a law dubbed Caylee's law that would make it a felony to not report a child missing within 48 hours of his or her disappearance.

Casey Anthony remains in hiding. She was last seen when defense attorney Jose Baez led her from the jail shortly after midnight on July 17 and the two sped away in a car.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul142011

Judge Declares Mistrial in Roger Clemens Case

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A mistrial has been declared in the perjury case against former baseball star Roger Clemens, just days after the trial began.

The defense complained that prosecutors failed to follow a pretrial ruling to limit information about conversations fellow ballplayer Andy Pettitte had with his wife about the use of human growth hormone. Judge Reggie Walton halted proceedings Thursday, quickly accepted their concerns and declared a mistrial.

Clemens' defense team raised objections to prosecutors showing jurors extended parts of Roger Clemens' testimony on Feb. 13, 2008, which referenced conversations between Pettitte and his wife about use of human growth hormone.

Before a brief recess, Walton admonished prosecutors for not editing down portions of the testimony: "I made a ruling that statements that Mr. Pettitte made to his wife could not be admitted."

"This clearly runs afoul of my pre-trial rulings."  Walton told the prosecutors. "That testimony is not going to be relevant."

A new jury will now be called.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul132011

Former 'Survivor' Producer to Face Murder Charges in Mexico

Photos[dot]com/Jupiterimages(NEW YORK) -- The former Survivor producer charged with killing his wife at a Cancun resort two years ago has been ordered to return to Mexico to stand trial, according to published reports.

Bruce Beresford-Redman has been jailed since November of 2010. The body of his wife, Monica Beresford-Redman, was found in a sewer at the resort in April 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul072011

Casey Anthony Will Be Freed Next Week

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony, acquitted of killing her daughter Caylee, will be released from jail next Wednesday, her attorney told ABC News.

Anthony, 25, was ordered Thursday to remain in jail after Judge Belvin Perry sentenced her to four years in jail and a fine of $4,000 on her conviction of lying to law enforcement officials.

The judge gave her four consecutive jail sentences, but she has already served nearly three years and would get credit for time served as well as good behavior. Perry originally estimated Anthony could be freed in late July or early August, but Anthony's attorney Jose Baez told ABC News that she will be released July 13.

On Tuesday, after being acquitted of first-degree murder and all of the top counts against her, Anthony was found guilty of four charges of providing false information to law enforcement. Two of the counts were related to her lies about being employed at Universal Studios, one was about the fictional nanny she claimed had snatched Caylee, and the fourth count was for saying she spoke to her daughter on the phone on July 15, a time when Caylee was already dead for a month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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