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Entries in Charges (21)

Friday
Jul052013

Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss Case Against George Zimmerman

Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The prosecution rested their second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman on Friday and his legal team immediately asked the judge throw out all charges, arguing that the state had failed to present evidence proving that he murdered Trayvon Martin.

The judge swiftly rejected the argument, but not before both sides made emotional legal arguments that are usually reserved for summations at the end of a trial.

In an impassioned plea, Zimmerman's defense attorney Mark O'Mara stated that the state did not produce direct or circumstantial evidence that Zimmerman acted with "ill-will or spite," the Florida requirements for second degree murder.

"There is not a scintilla of evidence to support that," O'Mara said referring to the implication that Zimmerman acted out of "ill-will and spite."

"He has the undeniable injuries that reference nothing other than an attack by Trayvon Martin," O'Mara said.

"You cannot look at that picture of my client's nose and say he wasn't beaten in the face," he said. O'Mara said the court would draw a similar conclusion by looking at the photos showing the back of Zimmerman's bloody head.

Zimmerman "did not land one blow… all he did was scream for help," O'Mara said.

Prosecutor Rich Mantei told the judge that Zimmerman "had enough in his heart to stop his trip to the grocery store…to get out of his car in the rain, follow him, and then as the witnesses make clear, pursue him and grab him."

"There are two people involved here. One of them is dead and one of them is a liar," the prosecutor said.

Mantei hammered at what he said are inconsistencies in Zimmerman's story, saying he "flat out lied" about being unaware of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. Mantei asked how could a jury be expected "to take his word about anything."

The request to end the controversial trial followed the testimony of the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Trayvon Martin's body and the teens mother and brother who said they could hear him screaming for help on 911 calls made before he died.

Dr. Shiping Bao testified after Martin's mother and brother took the stand as the prosecution neared completion of its case against Zimmerman.

Bao told the court that Martin, 17, was shot in the heart and said, "There was no chance he could survive."

The medical examiner said that Martin would have lived anywhere from one minute to 10 minutes after being shot as his beating heart ran out of blood to pump.

"His brain is still alive?" prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked.

"Yes," Bao replied.

"He can still feel pain in other words?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yes," he replied.

De la Rionda asked whether Martin would have been able to move after he was wounded.

"From my experience and another autopsy we did three weeks ago, I don't believe he could move," Bao said.

Bao's claim that Martin would have been unable to move could cast doubt on Zimmerman's version of what happened during their violent confrontation on Feb. 26, 2012.

Zimmerman, who is being tried on charges of second degree murder, has maintained that he shot Martin after he was knocked down and beaten by Martin and the teenager went for Zimmerman's gun. After the shot was fired, Martin sat up and said, "You got me," Zimmerman told police and media.

Bao's claim that the wound would have immediately incapacitated Martin is the latest example of what the prosecution says are discrepancies in Zimmerman's version of what happened that night

But Zimmerman's lawyer, Don West, got Bao to say during cross examination that it may have been possible for Martin to move a little after he was shot. "But only one person in this world knows," Bao added.

Bao's credibility took a hit when he admitted that he had changed his opinion on several elements. He originally estimated that Martin may have lived for as long as three minutes, but that was lengthened to as long as 10 minutes. He also said he changed his opinion about the effect of THC from marijuana in Martin's body.

Bao's testimony followed the mother and brother of Martin who both took the stand and told jurors that they could hear him scream for help on 911 calls made just before he died.

"That scream, do you recognize that?" de la Rionda asked Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton.

"Yes, it's Trayvon Benjamin Martin," she answered.

Prosecutors hoped that the testimony of Martin's mother and brother may have an emotional and convincing impact on the jury and that the jurors would tie their words to the opinion of FBI audio expert Hirotaka Nakasone who testified earlier in the trial that it was not possible to definitively identify the voice using available acceptable technology.

Nakasone said the best person to identify the voice would be someone who is intimately familiar with the voice.

During cross examination defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked Fulton if she hoped it would be her son, because if it wasn't her that could mean he was responsible for his death, O'Mara said.

"I heard my son screaming," Fulton replied. "I didn't hope for anything. I simply listened to the tape."

It's not clear what impact it could have the jury, which consists of six women.

A major point of contention in the trial is who was heard screaming for help in the background of 911 tapes the night Martin was killed. Fulton claims it was her son, while Zimmerman's father insists that it is his son's voice that is heard.

Moments before she began her testimony, Fulton tweeted, "I pray that God gives me strength to properly represent my Angel Trayvon. He may not be perfect but he's mine. I plead the blood of Jesus for healing."

Trayvon Martin's brother, Jahvaris Fulton, also told the jury that the voice on the tape was that of his brother.

But under cross examination, O'Mara played a tape of an interview with Jahvaris Fulton in which Fulton is heard saying "I'm not sure" when asked if that was his brother screaming. The jury was out of the courtroom at the time the tape was played. It's not clear whether they will be allowed to hear it at some point.

O'Mara had asked Jahvaris Fulton whether or not he had ever doubted that the screams were from his brother.

"When we heard it in the mayor's office I didn't want to believe it was him. It was clouded by shock and denial and sadness. I didn't want to believe it was him," the brother said.

Before the day's testimony was over, O'Mara put Zimmerman's mother, Gladys Zimmerman on the stand, replayed the 911 tapes and asked her if she recognized the voice that was screaming.

"My son, George," she replied. When asked how she could be sure, she answered, "Because he is my son."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar062013

Police: No Criminal Charges Surrounding Death of Woman Denied CPR

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BAKERSFIELD, Calif.) -- No one will be charged in connection with the death of an 87-year-old woman after she was denied CPR at her retirement home, Bakersfield, Calif., police said Wednesday night.

Authorities opened an investigation Monday after Lorraine Bayless' death attracted national attention because of a seven-minute 911 call was released in which the caller declined to administer CPR to the elderly woman.

"A thorough review was conducted of all the facts surrounding the case. The investigation revealed that no criminal statutes had been violated," Bakersfield Police Department officials said in a news release.

The 911 call revealed a staff member at the Glendale Gardens independent living facility refusing to perform CPR, or find someone else to perform CPR, on Bayless after she collapsed.

On the recorded call, a 911 dispatcher can be heard pleading with the staff member to find someone who would perform CPR on Bayless, saying, "Is there anybody there that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"

"Not at this time," the woman replied.

Although the woman identified herself as a nurse on the call, she was later reported to be a resident services director at Glendale Gardens.

Bayless was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Brookdale Senior Living, which owns Glendale Gardens, initially said the employee was following company policy by waiting for first responders instead of administering medical care herself. But on Tuesday, the company released a statement saying that the employee had not understood the company's guidelines and was put on voluntary leave pending an investigation.

"The incident resulted from a complete misunderstanding of our practice with regards to emergency medical care for our residents," the Tennessee-based company said. A spokesperson for Brookdale Senior Living said there would also be a company-wide review of its emergency medical policies.

In its statement, Bayless' family said the incident provided, "a lesson we can all learn from." The family also announced it had no intention of suing the facility.

"It was our beloved mother and grandmother's wish to die naturally and without any kind of life prolonging intervention," the family said. "We understand that the 911 tape of this event has caused concern, but our family knows that mom had full knowledge of the limitations of Glenwood Gardens and is at peace."

The family also said it was surprised by the amount of attention the incident received.

"We regret that this private and most personal time has been escalated by the media," the statement said. According to fire officials, Bayless did not have a Do Not Resuscitate Order, but this was not confirmed by the family or Glendale Gardens.

The incident not only made national headlines but has also triggered several investigations. The Kern County Aging and Adult Services is looking into possible elder abuse at the facility.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov302012

Alleged Teen Burglars Charged With Death of Accomplice Shot By Owner

Comstock/Thinkstock(BALDWIN, Ala.) -- An Alabama judge set $200,000 bonds Friday for three teenagers charged with felony murder in the death of 17-year-old girl who was allegedly helping them burglarize fishing camps when she was shot by a homeowner.

Summer Moody, 17, was with the three 18-year-old men -- Scott Byrd, Dylan Tyree and Daniel Parnell -- on April 15 when she was shot in the head by a man confronting the group "as they committed a series of burglaries on Gravine Island," according to the Baldwin County District Attorney's office.

Three residents near the camp that had been burglarized came outside and two fired warning shots. One of the shots was fired into the woods where the teens were hiding. Moody was shot in the head and died in the hospital several days later.

 

Byrd, Tyree and Parnell were all indicted on felony murder charges by a grand jury and the three residents, including the man who fired the shot that killed Moody, were not charged.

The teens are also facing first-, second- and third-degree burglary charges.

"The entire matter was presented to the grand jury, who determined what charges should be leveled and who to charge," District Attorney Hallie Dixon said in a statement. "The law is very clear that Miss Moody's death was the result of the young men's actions, and felony murder applies."

The decision was the result of a "thorough investigation into the death and the burglaries" which yielded "a large body of evidence," according to the district attorney's office. The three fishermen were cleared and are not expected to face any charges in the future.

"But for the actions of these three young men, who were engaging in armed burglaries and who acted aggressively when caught, Summer Moody would be with us today," Dixon said.

Martha Simmons of the Baldwin County District Attorney's office said, "It has been testified to an open court that they had a long gun and a knife with them at some point."

"I think that it also was testified in the preliminary hearing that the men [the fisherman] had told the police officer that initially they thought the boy had a gun with them," Simmons said.

"Logically, it seems crazy. But legally, it's pretty straightforward," Pam Pierson, a professor of law at the University of Alabama, told ABC News.

Under Alabama's felony murder statute, if a person is participating in certain felonies including burglary, and someone is killed, the other participants can be charged with murder even if they did not intend for anyone to die or even commit the actual killing.

"It's meant to deter people from committing felonies," Pierson said. "It means that whether you agree or disagree, morally if you set into action events that are really dangerous, then you ought to be held accountable for all of the consequences."

Pierson said that recently broadened self-defense statutes in the state allow for legal situations like this one.

The state's self-defense statute used to say that a person could only use an equivalent amount of force to defend themselves, but the amended law allows people to stand your ground with deadly force.

Along the same lines, the state's castle doctrine law gives everyone the right to protect their home. If an unarmed person threatens another person's home, the homeowner is allowed to use deadly force against them.

"Those are two huge recent amendments that have enlarged the self-defense laws," Pierson said. "Almost all law enforcement officials have been against these amendments because it encourages vandalism and being excessive, it entices people to use too much force when they should be more restrained."

Byrd, Tyree and Parnell are being held at the Baldwin Corrections Center. The attorneys representing each defendant did not respond to requests for comment from ABCNews.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio  

Tuesday
Oct302012

Teenage Suspect in Ridgeway Murder Charged with 17 Counts

Courtesy Westminster Police Department(DENVER) -- The 17-year-old who allegedly confessed to the murder of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway was formally charged as an adult Tuesday in Jefferson County, Colo., court.

Austin Sigg was charged with 17 counts. Eleven of the charges were related to Ridgeway's disappearance and subsequent death, including first-degree murder with deliberation, felony murder, second-degree kidnapping, sexual assault on a child, and robbery.

The other six charges pertained to Sigg's attempted abduction of a 22-year-old jogger in May 2012, and included attempted first-degree murder, sexual assault with criminal intent and second-degree kidnapping.

If he's convicted, Sigg faces a minimum of 40 years in jail before he can be considered for parole.

Sigg entered the courtroom Tuesday morning wearing a green jumpsuit; his wrists and ankles were shackled together. While he was alert during the hearing, he did not speak or appear to ask questions of his attorneys.

ABC affiliate KMGH reports that eight members of Ridgeway's family were in the courtroom for the arraignment, all dressed in the 10-year-old's favorite color, purple. Sarah Ridgeway, Jessica's mother, wore a white T-shirt decorated with eagle wings carrying a purple ribbon. The shirt bore the phrase "Justice for Jessica."

When the sexual assault charge was read, Sarah Ridgeway put her head down.

On the opposite side of the courtroom, Sigg's parents sat a few rows behind their son, keeping his younger brother between them. At one point Mindy Sigg rubbed her ex-husband's back. Rob Sigg appeared to mutter several prayers to himself before and throughout hearing.

At the end of the hearing, Sigg's mother, father and younger brother all sat with their heads down.

Sigg's attorneys have filed a request to get the case back into the juvenile system. If the reverse transfer is approved, Sigg would not be tried as an adult.

The next hearing in the trial is scheduled for Nov. 27.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep242012

Criminal Charges for Marines in Taliban Urination Video

The video appears to show four men in uniform looking around before urinating on three dead bodies. (http://apacheclips.com)(WASHINGTON) -- Two U.S. Marines have become the first to be criminally charged for allegedly urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters on camera.

Staff Sergeants Joseph W. Chamblin and Edward W. Deptola are allegedly two of the four Marines shown in a video made in July 2011 in southern Afghanistan in which the men urinate on the corpses of three Afghan men while chuckling, according to Marine Corps spokesperson Col. Sean Gibson. A voice can be overheard in the background of the video apparently addressing the killed fighters, saying, "Have a nice day, buddy."

The two staff sergeants were officially charged with "posing for unofficial photographs with human casualties," failing to properly prevent or report misconduct by junior Marines under their command, the indiscriminate firing of a grenade launcher and the indiscriminate firing of an enemy machine gun.

Three other Marines from the same unit previously received non-judicial punishments after pleading guilty in connection with the video. Punishments for those Marines included a reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, and punitive letters for permanent placement in their personnel records.

In addition to the five Marines already facing punishments, a Marine Corps statement said "there are other pending cases related to this incident" and that further "disciplinary actions regarding other Marines will be announced at a later date."

All of the Marines identified so far were assigned to Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, Commander General of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, referred both staff sergeants to a Special Court Martial. Referring their cases to a Special Court Martial skips the evidentiary hearings needed to proceed to a General Court Martial and also limits their potential punishments.

Gibson, a spokesman for Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said the maximum punishments available under a Special Court Martial is one year of confinement, a two-thirds forfeiture of pay for one year, a reduction in rank to Private and a bad conduct discharge.

The video was recorded during a counterinsurgency operation in Helmand Province on or about July 27, 2011, but it was not posted on the Internet until January 2012. As it spread on the Internet, it drew instant condemnation from top Pentagon officials who feared that it would lead to a backlash against American troops serving in Afghanistan.

Shortly after the video appeared online, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos initiated a criminal investigation to authenticate the video. He also commissioned a command investigation by a three-star general to determine what factors may have led to the recording of the video. Both investigations concluded in March.

Based on the information gleaned from the command investigation, Mills ordered a further inquiry completed in June that looked into possible misconduct by members of the unit involved in the incident beyond those depicted in the video.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug162012

'Highly Incriminating' Evidence in Jerry Sandusky Case Could Lead to New Charges

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Prosecutors in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case said they had a "great deal" of "highly incriminating" evidence they never brought up during Sandusky's trial, evidence that could be related to pending criminal charges.

The statements are part of a transcript released Thursday from a closed-door meeting held in June, after Sandusky had been found guilty of 45 counts of child sex abuse.

In the meeting, Frank Fina, Pennsylvania's deputy attorney general, said that the state had investigative reports as well as testimony from unnamed victims in the case that were not brought up in trial and should remain secret because of the ongoing investigation.

"We turned over transcripts of other potential victims and transcripts relating to the Penn State University and some of the potential events involving Penn State's connection with this case that I think would be highly sought by the media and that would not be in the best interests, again, of anybody, especially potentially ongoing matters to be disclosed," Fina said, according to the transcript.

The attorney general has not commented on who the ongoing investigation might be targeting.

The meeting was called in June after a recording of Sandusky's son, Matt Sandusky, talking to the Pennsylvania attorney general was leaked to NBC. On the tape, Matt Sandusky told prosecutors that Jerry Sandusky had acted inappropriately with him, a charge that stunned Jerry Sandusky's defense team in the middle of the trial.

Prosecutors, investigators and Jerry Sandusky's defense attorneys all denied supplying NBC with the recording, and asked the judge to institute an all-encompassing order sealing all of the evidence in the case.

Only three copies of the tape existed, Fina said in the meeting. Two copies were kept by the state, one at the attorney general's office and the other at the Pennsylvania State Police offices. A third recording was given to Sandusky's attorneys, Joseph Amendola and Karl Rominger.

"I know that I received the tape disc from the Commonwealth concerning Matt Sandusky's testimony. I gave that copy to Mr. Rominger to review because there was no transcript," Amendola said in the meeting.

Amendola said he never listened to the recording, made a copy of it, or disseminated it.

There is now an investigation into who gave the recording to NBC.

Two Penn State officials have already been charged in connection with covering up Sandusky's crimes. Athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president of finance Gary Schultz are charged with lying to a grand jury about their knowledge of Sandusky's crimes and with failure to report suspected child abuse.

Attorneys for both men appeared in court Thursday for pretrial hearings, which include requests by both Curley and Schultz to have the charges against them dismissed. There is no trial date set in the case.

Curley's attorney has told ABC News that his client is very ill with lung cancer.

According to the internal investigation report released by former FBI director Louis Freeh in July, Curley and Schultz, as well as Joe Paterno and former university president Graham Spanier, all knew about two incidences in which Sandusky was showering with boys on Penn State's campus.

The men decided after a 1998 investigation into Sandusky showering with a young boy to simply bar the former football coach from bringing children onto campus, a edict which they did not enforce.

In 2001, all four men were told that Sandusky was seen in the shower again with a young boy by assistant coach Mike McQueary. McQueary has said he believed he saw Sandusky raping the young boy and relayed the information to Paterno in vague terms, making sure Paterno understood that the incident was sexual.

Curley and Schultz have maintained they were not told the incident qualified as sexual abuse. None of the men reported the incident to police.

Joe Paterno died of lung cancer in January.

Graham Spanier has never been charged in the case. The Pennsylvania attorney general's office has said that Spanier was not informed that the incident McQueary witnessed was sexual in nature.

The transcript released Thursday in the Sandusky case ends with all of the attorneys and judges overseeing the case and the grand jury investigation agreeing to seal all of the evidence in the case, whether it was mentioned in the trial or not.

Sandusky is in jail awaiting sentencing on his conviction.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May262012

Etan Patz Case: Suspect Pedro Hernandez Charged with Murder

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The former store clerk who confessed to the 1979 killing of Etan Patz was formally charged Friday with second degree murder of the little boy exactly 33 years to the day after he disappeared while on his way to school.

Pedro Hernandez, who despite a more than three decades-long investigation was never the target of police until this week, was arrested Wednesday at his home in New Jersey and promptly confessed to kidnapping and killing Patz.

New York City police hailed his arrest Thursday night, perhaps closing a case that has haunted New York for three decades. At 5:30 a.m. Friday morning, Hernandez was taken under guard to Bellevue Hospital where he was placed on suicide watch.

In a terse criminal complaint filed against Hernandez, prosecutors charge him with strangling Patz and placing him in a plastic bag, "thereby causing his death."

Hernandez, 51, has been in police custody since Wednesday and may not have been taking his prescribed medication and appeared suicidal before he was taken to the hospital, criminal justice sources said.

Hernandez's arraignment coincides with the May 25 anniversary of Patz's disappearance and National Missing Persons Day, a holiday that spotlights missing children chosen in honor of Patz.

The search for Patz was one of the largest, longest-lasting and most heart-wrenching hunts for a missing child in the country's recent history. His photo was among the first of a missing child to appear on a milk carton.

Hernandez confessed to police that as a 19-year-old bodega stock clerk he lured the boy into his shop's basement with the promise of a soda. There, Hernandez told police, he strangled Patz and stuffed his body in a plastic bag that was thrown into trash elsewhere in the neighborhood. The body was never found.

Hernandez had admitted to family members and friends as early as 1981 that he "done a bad thing and killed a child in New York."

Investigators reopened the long-dormant case in 2010 an in April excavated a basement apartment steps away from Patz's home and the bodega where Hernandez says he killed the boy.

The new focus on the case led one of Hernadez's family members or a friend to alert police that they suspected Hernandez's involvement.

When confronted, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Hernandez quickly confessed, even expressing "remorse" and "relief."

Hernandez was taken into custody at his home in Maple Shade, N.J., on Wednesday morning where he lives with his wife and daughter. The apartment is rented by his wife, Rosemary Hernandez, who let her husband move in after he told her that he was dying of cancer.

"We never had a problem with him," Hernandez's brother-in-law, Jose Lopez, told KYW, a CBS station in Philadelphia. "There was never a problem. He was a normal person. Never gave any sign that he did something like that."

Police have named other suspects in the past, but none had ever been arrested or charged.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Bradley Manning Judge to Rule on Request to Drop Charges

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(FORT MEADE, Md.) -- An Army judge said she will rule Wednesday on a defense request to drop the charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning, and set deadlines for various government agencies to provide assessments of the impact of Manning’s alleged leaking of classified materials to WikiLeaks.

The bulk of the day in the pretrial hearing focused on arguments for and against the motion his defense team filed last month to dismiss the charges against Manning with prejudice.

Manning is being court-martialed for allegedly leaking a trove of classified documents and video clips to WikiLeaks, a website dedicated to undermining government and corporate secrecy.

David Coombs, Manning’s civilian lawyer and the head of his defense team, argued that it was “abundantly clear the government didn’t understand their discovery obligations,” because they were using the wrong code of standards and looking only for “game-changing” information.

Manning’s attorney added that even if the government did a re-review and included additional factors, problems would arise from the “inherent conflict of interest” by the government, because finding additional material would “underscore” their violations. It would also cause issues for Manning’s right to a speedy trial, Coombs said.

The prosecution said they do understand discovery and “are producing (discovery information) above and beyond the minimum” requirements by law.

The defense’s motion to compel discovery was partially determined at Tuesday’s hearing.

Col. Denise Lind, the Army judge overseeing the hearing, set deadlines for the CIA, FBI, DIA, State Department, and Department of Justice to provide assessments they made regarding the impact of the classified materials being leaked to WikiLeaks.

The assessments are “relevant and necessary” because they “may contain information to the accused,” Lind said. She will review the assessments before deciding to forward them to the defense.

In addition, the court ordered forensic imaging of the remaining computers confiscated from Manning’s unit. Of the original 14 computers, five remain that have not been wiped clean.

There was also a request by the defense to obtain grand jury testimony from the Eastern District of Virginia.  A grand jury there has been empaneled to investigate the WikiLeaks case.

The government says that the grand jury testimony is out of its control because the decision is up to the federal judge who oversees that case. Coombs argued that the government can get it if it wants to, “but when the defense says, ‘Hey, we want the grand jury testimony,’ they say, ‘Oops, not within our jurisdiction.’”

The court also ruled that the defense would be allowed to post redacted portions of the defense motion to its blog.  Lind said that was not release authority for other documents, referring to prosecution documents, and that there is already a congressional process set up under the Freedom of Information Act for documents to be released.

The decisions on these rulings, including the motion to dismiss with prejudice, are expected to be determined Wednesday morning. The pre-trial hearing is expected to wrap on Thursday.

Tuesday morning’s session began with Manning replacing his Army defense lawyers, Maj. Matthew Kemkes and Capt. Paul Bouchard, with Capt. Joshua Tooman.

Manning requested the change in his defense counsel in a letter to Lind. No explanation was given for the change.  Coombs remains Manning’s civilian counsel and continues to head his defense team.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr182012

Woman Arrested for Killing Mother, Kidnapping Her Newborn Baby

KTRK-TV/ABC News(SPRING, Texas) -- A registered nurse arrested for gunning down and killing a new mother and snatching her 3-day-old baby in the parking lot of a Texas pediatrician's office will face capital murder charges, according to the Montgomery County district attorney.

The newborn, Keegan Schuchardt, was found alive and well six hours after his 28-year-old mother Kayla Marie Golden was killed Tuesday, according to police. The suspect in the killing, Verna Deann McClain, a 30-year-old mother of three, is in police custody.

"She's given a full statement to the detectives with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department," the district attorney, Brett Ligon, said Wednesday on ABC’s Good Morning America. "As part of the statement with that agency, in conjunction with the other evidence that we were able to obtain yesterday...we did charge her [McClain] in the early hours of this morning with capital murder."

Golden was standing by her pickup truck outside the pediatrician's office in Spring, Texas, around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday when a car with a man and woman inside pulled up. There was reportedly an altercation, after which the woman got out and shot the mother repeatedly with what was believed to be a 9mm pistol, then took the baby and drove off.

"My baby, my baby!" Golden reportedly screamed as her infant boy was taken from his car seat. The Houston Chronicle reported that the Lexus struck the mother as it drove off.

As the mother lay dying in the parking lot, a description of the getaway vehicle and occupants quickly went out as an Amber Alert. Golden later died at a local hospital.

Police were led to the Fawnridge Apartments in Houston, where sources said a SWAT team entered a unit and found a woman inside speaking on the phone with another woman. Investigators were then able to track the woman on the other phone to a home in north Harris County, where baby Keegan was found.

An affidavit obtained by ABC News from the Montgomery County police states that McClain admitted to shooting Golden and taking the baby to her home in Texas' Harris County.

According to the affidavit, McClain's sister, Corina Jackson, had recently said that her sister would be adopting a baby soon. After she allegedly killed Golden and stole her newborn, McClain stated to her sister that she now had the child. McClain has three children ages 16, 10 and 6.

"There were statements that were made by Ms. McClain that led us to believe this was an intentional act on her part, not that Ms. Golden was targeted specifically, but that this was part of a plan to kidnap a child," Ligon said.

Witnesses said the mom fought to keep the baby from the kidnappers, but ended up in the parking lot with gunshot wounds.

"The child was being put into the suspect vehicle and that's when the mother tried to get into the car," Lt. Dan Norris with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said. "The car sped away, knocking the lady to the ground."

The female suspect was described by witnesses at the time as a black female carrying a small caliber pistol, possibly a 9mm. There was no word from police on the other suspect who was driving the getaway car.

Baby Keegan remains in custody of the state's Child Protective Services while officials conduct a full background investigation on his father, Keith Schuchardt, before the newborn is returned to his care, according to Ligon.

There was no father listed on the baby's birth certificate so police want to make sure who the father is before turning the baby over to them.

"I expect them to be reunited this morning or sometime this afternoon," he said. "Obviously for the father, Keith, it has been a roller coaster. You lose your wife one day but you're able to recover your child, it's an emotional swing not many people would be prepared for but I understand he's holding up well."

It wasn't immediately clear whether there was any connection between the kidnappers and Golden or the baby's father

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr112012

Charges Filed in Trayvon Martin Case; George Zimmerman in Custody

Win McNamee/Getty Images(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- Six weeks after the controversial shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, special prosecutor Angela Corey has announced that George Zimmerman is to be charged with second-degree murder.  

Zimmerman is in custody after turning himself in, Corey confirmed in outlining the charges Wednesday at a news conference in Jacksonville, Fla.

"He is within the custody of law enforcement officers in the state of Florida," she said. Sources told ABC News that Zimmerman was en route to Sanford, where the shooting occurred.

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Zimmerman, 28, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed Martin, who was unarmed, on Feb. 26 after following the Sanford, Fla. teenager for several minutes.

The second degree murder charge is similar to manslaughter in that it does not require premeditation on Zimmerman's part.

If convicted of the charges Zimmerman could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

A bond hearing will be held Thursday when Zimmerman can apply for bail, Corey said.

Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's new lawyer, said Wednesday evening that he intended to seek his release at Thursday's hearing and said that he spoke briefly with Zimmerman.

"He's troubled by the fact that the state decided to charge him," O'Mara said.

The lawyer also said Zimmerman is scared.

"I think anyone who is charged with second degree murder would be scared. Yes, he's frightened," O'Mara said.

Corey opened her news conference by saying that she had spoken with Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, when she took over the case last month and "we told those sweet parents" that they would get answers.

She also worried that the "overwhelming amount of publicity in this case" could complicate efforts to get an impartial jury, adding that there was "so much information on this case that was released that shouldn't have been released."

Martin's parents said at a news conference Wednesday evening that they were grateful that Zimmerman has been arrested.

"We simply wanted an arrest," Sybrina Fulton said. "We got it and we say thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus."

Tracy Martin said, however, "This is just the beginning. We have a long way to go ... and we will march and march and march until the right thing is done."

O'Mara said that the case has become emotionally charged and that his client "is concerned about getting a fair trial. We need to calm this down and it needs to be tried in a courtroom."

He also said he is worried about Zimmerman's safety.

"If he was walking down the street right now he would be at risk," O'Mara said. "I'm hoping we can keep him safe."

The charges are certain to provoke controversy in Sanford, Fla., where the shooting took place, and across the country.

The special prosecutor's ruling came one day after Zimmerman's original legal team quit because they had lost contact with him, and suggested that the pressure of the case had "pushed him over the edge."

Earlier this week, Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said his city has become a "kindling box" due to the high emotions surrounding the case, and that he would "plan for the worst and hope for the best."

The case gained national prominence with rallies across the country demanding that Zimmerman be arrested and charged with murder. Zimmerman and his supporters say that the shooting had nothing to do with race and that he shot Martin in self-defense.

The U.S. Justice Department is also carrying out an investigation into the shooting.

Attorney General Eric Holder indicated Wednesday that the feds will have a higher bar to establish that the shooting was a hate crime.

"For a federal hate crime we have to prove the highest standard in the law it is something that was reckless, that was negligent ... We have to show that there was a specific intent to do the crime with the requisite state of mind," Holder said.

Corey declined to say where Zimmerman is being held out of concern for his safety.  

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