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Entries in Court (45)

Wednesday
May152013

Leila Fowler 911 Call Released, Brother to Appear in Court

ABC News | Calaveras Unified School District(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- In the 911 call from the day 8-year-old Leila Fowler was stabbed to death, her father's girlfriend, who was not home, didn't appear to know that Leila has been hurt. She told the operator that Leila was "freaking out" after her brother said he had allegedly seen an intruder in the house.

The brother has since been arrested and charged with second-degree murder with special circumstances for using a dangerous weapon in the killing. He is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday, though his name has not been released because he is a minor.

On April 27, Leila's 12-year-old brother told Valley Springs, Calif., authorities that he found his sister stabbed to death after an intruder broke into their home. There were no adults at the house when the stabbing occurred. The boy said he called his parents, who alerted sheriff's deputies.

"My children are at home alone and a man just ran out of my house. My older son was in the bathroom and my daughter started screaming," the panicked woman said in the 911 call released by the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office. "When he came out, there was a man outside my house. I need an officer there."

The woman calling was Leila's father's girlfriend, according to ABC News' Sacramento affiliate KXTV.

When the dispatcher asked if the children had seen the intruder, the woman said, "They did see him. My daughter is freaking out right now."

She also said the children were "really scared" and that she was trying to get home.

The boy told authorities the intruder, whom he described as a tall man with a muscular build, fled the scene. The boy's description launched a 15-day manhunt that included door-to-door searches and divers in a reservoir.

The Calaveras County Sheriff's Office in Northern California announced the arrest of the 12-year-old boy on May 10.

Mark Reichel and Steve Plesser, attorneys from a firm hired by the boy's family to represent him, told KXTV that they met with him Wednesday at a juvenile detention facility.

"He's actually doing very well right now," Plesser said. "As well as can be expected in these really difficult times."

The two attorneys said they plan to ask the court to allow the boy to return to his family.

Neighbors in Valley Springs said they feared all along that Leila's brother -- not a mystery man the boy described -- might be responsible for the girl's stabbing death.

"It made us sadder, because he's just 12 years old," Barbara Barron told ABC News. "The family has lost two children now."

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar272013

Polo Tycoon Cannot Adopt Adult Girlfriend, Florida Court Says

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- A Miami appeals court Wednesday reversed a ruling that allowed Florida polo tycoon John Goodman to adopt his longtime adult girlfriend.

Florida's Third District Court of Appeals Senior Judge Alan R. Schwartz wrote that the adoption of a "paramour" or lover was "so contrary to the beneficent purposes of such an action" that it could not be confirmed by the court, according to court documents.

Goodman, a 49-year-old multimillionaire who founded the International Polo Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., made headlines when he adopted his girlfriend, Heather Hutchins, 42, in an attempt to preserve part of his fortune for her while negotiating a civil suit settlement.

Carroll Goodman, John Goodman's ex-wife and the mother of their two children, filed the appeal, according to court records.

Attorneys for Goodman and his ex-wife could not immediately be reached for comment.

In 2011, a trial court in Palm Beach County approved the adoption. As a result, Hutchins was recognized as another one of Goodman's "children" under the trust fund that had been set up by him and Carroll Goodman for their biological children in 1991.

According to court documents, John Goodman and Hutchins entered an adoption agreement contract that paid her $5 million immediately at the signing of agreement, another $3 million by the end of 2012, and lifetime payments valued at an estimated $8.75 million -- a total of $16.75 million over time. The agreement also allowed Hutchins to request additional amounts from the trust.

While the adoption earned national attention, Goodman found himself in the spotlight again in May 2012 when he was sentenced to 16 years in prison and fined $10,000 for killing a man in a drunk-driving crash.

On May 11, 2012, a Florida judge said in court that Goodman "left to save himself" after his Bentley slammed into 23-year-old Scott Wilson's Hyundai and sent the car into a nearby canal in Wellington, Fla., in the February 2010 accident.

Wilson, an engineering graduate, was strapped into the driver's seat and drowned.

At the time of the court case, Judge Jeffrey Colbath granted that Goodman could be released on a $7 million bond pending his appeal. As conditions for his release, he was placed under house arrest and monitored 24 hours a day with a GPS device, and could not apply for a new passport. His driver's license was also permanently revoked.

A Florida jury found Goodman guilty of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide last March.

Goodman claimed in court that his $200,000 car malfunctioned and lurched forward. He has also denied being drunk at the time of the crash that killed Wilson, although other testimony has contradicted him and his blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit three hours after the crash.

Prosecutors said Goodman left the scene of the accident without calling 911.

"Scott Wilson's death was senseless," Colbath told the court at the time.

"His conduct from the moment the crash happened to the time he came to be in the custody of law enforcement was to save himself," the judge said. "It wasn't to go get help and it wasn't because he was disoriented. It was because he wanted to figure out a way to save himself. He had an opportunity to try to save Mr. Wilson."

"I believe what the jury believed -- that he knew he pushed [Wilson's] car in the canal. He knew there was someone in the canal and he left to try to save himself," Colbath said.

Last April, court documents revealed that Goodman agreed to a $46 million payment to Wilson's parents, Lili and William Wilson. Each received $23 million in the settlement.

In his decision Wednesday to void Goodman's adult adoption of Hutchins, Schwartz cited the crash, the trust fund John and Carroll Goodman had set up in 1991 for their two biological children, and that Goodman gave his ex-wife "no notice of the adoption proceeding."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar062013

New York Man Summoned to Court for Laughing Too Loud?

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(ROCKVILLE CENTER, N.Y.) -- Robert Schiavelli of Rockville Center, N.Y., says he never thought laughing could get him in trouble with the law.

“I was laughing out the window. I was laughing out the window of my own house, and they gave me a ticket,” Schiavelli told ABC News.

Schiavelli was slapped with two summonses for disturbing the peace after police said he was laughing too loudly in his front yard.

Police responded to Schiavelli’s home Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 after neighbors complained that his laughs could be heard across the driveway.

Schiavelli, who is considered disabled because of neurological impairments, says the neighbors mock him, and he uses laughter as a defense mechanism.

“They kept staring at me. He kept eyeballing me … and mocking me,” Schiavelli said.

That’s when Rockville Center police showed up to issue the 42-year-old two tickets, including one for, “disturbing the peace the night before.”

Now Schiavelli’s  attorney says he’s fighting to keep his client  out of jail.

“The day my client gets convicted for laughing, I’ll quit practicing law, and I’ve been practicing for 20 years,” Andrew Campanelli told ABC News. “The ordinance and prosecution are simply absurd.”

Campanelli says the ordinance grants police the right to ticket anyone who’s acting, “in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct or be offensive to others.”

Each summons carries a $250 fine, and Schiavelli could face 15 days in jail.

“Over the next two weeks, I’ll be filing a motion to dismiss. I’m not going to allow him to plead guilty for laughing,” Campanelli said. “We’ll pursue federal court if needed.”

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul232012

Colorado Movie Theater Shooting: Suspect to Appear in Court

University of Colorado Denver/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AURORA, Colo.) -- Prosecutors are considering pursuing a death penalty case against James Holmes, the alleged gunman accused of a movie theater rampage in Aurora, Colo., last Friday that left 12 dead and 58 wounded.

A decision on charging Holmes, 24, with capital murder has not yet been made, but Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers told reporters on Monday that she is talking with victims and their family members about it.

There are currently only four people on Colorado's death row, and only one person has been executed in that state since 1976.  Nevertheless, experts expect prosecutors to seek the death penalty when Holmes is formally charged later this week.

Holmes is expected in court Monday for a preliminary hearing.

Members of the Aurora community are anxiously awaiting the hearing, which will mark the first time Holmes will been seen in public since his arrest following the deadly rampage at a midnight screening of the The Dark Knight Rises on July 20.

"He has harmed so many people," Police Chief Daniel Oates told ABC News.  "Not only the victims, but all of their extended families.  So I think it will be very hard."

Oates also said that Holmes' parents have remained silent.

"They're not talking to us right now," he said.  "Maybe that will change, but right now they are not talking to us."

The suspect will be brought to court from his jail cell at Arapahoe County Jail through an underground tunnel.

The court appearance is expected to be brief and will start the clock on the 72-hour deadline for the district attorney to file formal charges at an arraignment where Holmes will enter his plea.

The police chief told ABC News that his team is getting significant help from the FBI's behavioral analysts in trying to figure out what could have changed Holmes from a promising young student to a suspect in one of the largest mass shootings in U.S. history.

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Friday
Jun292012

George Zimmerman's Dad Testifies Recorded Voice Howling for Help Is His Son

ABC News(SANFORD, Fla.) -- George Zimmerman's father listened to frantic howls for help overheard in a 911 call Friday and told a Florida courtroom that the voice "was absolutely George's."

Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman, took the stand during a bail hearing for his son. Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

Both father and son appeared in court with the distinct outline of bullet proof vests beneath their suits.

The judge did not immediately rule on Zimmerman's request to be let out on bond.

During the hearing, Zimmerman's lawyer Mark O'Mara played a tape of a 911 call in which a woman tells police that someone is yelling and she thinks they are calling for help. In the background of the call frantic screams for help can be heard, with at least 14 calls for help in a 40 second period.

The howls stop and the woman tells the 911 dispatcher that she just heard a shot.

Robert Zimmerman listened to the tape with the rest of the courtroom and was then asked if he could identify the voice calling for help.

"It was definitely George's," the father said.

The parents of Trayvon Martin insist that the voice calling for help is their son's.

Earlier in the hearing, a member of a Sanford, Fla., ambulance crew told a court that Zimmerman's head, including his moustache and beard, were covered in blood after the shooting of Martin.

EMT Kevin O'Rourke testified during Zimmerman's bond hearing Friday morning that "45 percent" of Zimmerman's head had blood on it and that the lacerations on Zimmerman's head "would probably need stitches."

O'Rourke also testified that Zimmerman's nose was broken and urged him to see a doctor within 24 hours. The EMT examined Zimmerman after having checked on Martin, who had died after being shot by Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, 28, has said that he shot the unarmed teenager after being knocked down, having his head banged on the pavement and then believing that Martin was going for Zimmerman's handgun.

Zimmerman's lawyers Friday tried to establish that their client might have thought he had suffered a "life-threatening injury."

In addition, a forensic accountant for the defense, Adam Magill, walked the court through the donations to Zimmerman's legal defense fund.

Under cross examination, however, accountant Adam Magill testified that Zimmerman and his wife had shifted about $132,000 between four accounts, often transferring sums of $9,999. Transfers of $10,000 or more are required to be noted by banks and a prosecutor suggested it was intended "to make it look like he didn't have the money."

Zimmerman hopes a judge will agree to let him out of jail Friday. The judge revoked Zimmerman's $150,000 bond earlier this month when prosecutors told the judge Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about how much money they had.

He appeared in court Friday without the shackles he wore in his last appearance, but the outlines of a bullet proof vest under his gray suit was clearly visible. He faces the prospect of a prolonged stay in jail if his plea to get out on bond is rejected.

Also present was the family of Trayvon Martin.

It is Zimmerman's second appearance before Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester. During the last one on April 20 he sat stone faced as his wife lied to the court about the Zimmerman's finances.

Zimmerman's wife, Shellie Zimmerman, told the judge she was essentially broke, when in the days leading up to that hearing, she and her husband held clumsily coded jailhouse conversations about shuffling to various accounts $135,000 in cash amassed from donations to Zimmermans website. Audio tapes of the hushed jailhouse conversations were released earlier this month.

Shellie Zimmerman has been charged with perjury.

Orlando defense attorney Mark Lippman said that whether or not Lester grants Zimmerman bail, he is likely to "receive a tongue-lashing from the judge."

It is also expected that if the normally stern judge grants Zimmerman bail, the bond would be much higher than his previous bond of $150,000. Typically bail bondsmen charge 10 percent of the total bond.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

WATCH: Prisoner Busts Out of Kentucky Jail Cell -- and Into Court

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- A suspect trying to escape from a Louisville, Ky., cell recently got quite a surprise when he pushed through a door.

The inmate, whose name has not been released, had attacked a deputy during a court hearing Monday at the Jefferson County Courthouse, according to ABC News affiliate WHAS-TV.

He was then put into a holding cell. When a deputy tried to remove another inmate from that cell, the suspect forced his way out.

He and the deputy then crashed through a door and into a courtroom that was in session.  The suspect reportedly managed to get 20 feet from the deputy before court bailiffs seized him.

The county sheriff’s office said that nobody in the courtroom was in danger. The inmate is now charged with attempted escape and assault.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May252012

Man Who Confessed to Killing Etan Patz Expected in Court

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A New Jersey man who police say confessed to killing Etan Patz is expected to make his first court appearance in New York City on Friday, the 33rd anniversary of the 6-year-old's disappearance.

Pedro Hernandez, 51, was arrested Thursday after he told detectives that he lured Patz into the basement of a bodega with the promise of a soda and strangled him.

At a news conference on Thursday, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Hernandez admitted he "choked [Patz] there and disposed of the body by putting it into a plastic bag and placing it into the trash."

Kelly said Hernandez provided no motive for the killing.

Patz disappeared on the morning of May 25, 1979, the first day he was allowed to walk to the school bus stop alone.

Authorities were tipped off to Hernandez after an individual contacted the police with information that led them to identify Hernandez as a person-of-interest.

Kelly said Hernandez had told family members and friends that he had "done a bad thing and killed a child in New York."

He was taken into custody at his residence in Maple Shade, N.J., Wednesday morning.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May102012

John Edwards Prosecution Uses ‘Nightline’ Interview in Court

Sketch by Christine Cornell(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The last thing jurors in the John Edwards trial saw Thursday before the prosecution rested was video from a Nightline interview that shows Edwards lying.

As the prosecution wrapped up its case, the state used the last 15 minutes or so to play most of ABC’s Bob Woodruff’s interview with Edwards, in which the former presidential hopeful admitted to having an affair with Rielle Hunter. The interview, which originally aired on Nightline in August 2008, was the first time Edwards publicly admitted that Hunter was his mistress, but denied fathering her child.

Edwards was in the courtroom, watching himself on the video as it played. At times, Edwards looked down or put his head in his hands.

Watch part 1 of the 2008 Nightline interview:

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And part 2:

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Edwards is accused of illegally using campaign funds to hide Hunter and the baby. He claims any money he received to hide Hunter was a personal gift and he was motivated only to keep the affair and his daughter with Hunter a secret from his wife, not the government.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr122012

George Zimmerman Appears In Court; Arraignment Set for May 29

ABC News(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- George Zimmerman wept during his first night in jail for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a law enforcement official told ABC News on Thursday.

Zimmerman, who was arrested and charged Wednesday with second degree murder, was held in protective custody away from the other inmates in the Sanford, Fla., city jail.

Zimmerman, 28, made his first court appearance Thursday and spoke once, answering "Yes, sir" when the judge asked whether Mark O'Mara was his attorney. He wore a blue-gray jumpsuit and had several days of wispy growth on his face.

He did not enter a plea and his attorney did not request bond. His formal arraignment is scheduled for May 29.

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The Seminole County Sheriff's office said Zimmerman underwent a series of physical and mental health tests after arriving at the jail Wednesday night. He was then sent to protective custody where he was isolated from other inmates and under constant watch in his own cell, ABC News has learned.

Zimmerman was upset and wept for part of the night in his cell.

There was no sign of scarring on the back of his head and the booking photo shows no indication that his nose had been broken in his confrontation with Martin, as Zimmerman's former legal team had claimed.

O'Mara said outside of court when the hearing was completed that they had decided not to ask for bail and suggested it was at least partly out of concern for Zimmerman's safety.

Zimmerman, who is a white Hispanic, shot and killed the 17-year-old black teenager after following Martin for several minutes and telling a police dispatcher Martin appeared suspicious. He claims he fired in self defense after Martin attacked him and went for his gun.

The charge of second degree murder rather than a lesser charge of manslaughter surprised many observers of the case.

To get a murder conviction, the state would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Zimmerman acted dangerously to another, "evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life." Corey will have to prove specifically that Martin's death was not simply an accident or mistake, but that significant negligence was involved.

If convicted, Zimmerman faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr022012

JetBlue Pilot Held in Jail Following First Court Appearance

Courtesy: Randall County Sheriff’s Office(AMARILLO, Texas) -- JetBlue Capt. Clayton Osbon is being held in a Texas jail without bond following his first court appearance Monday, where he smiled at his wife in the courtroom but spoke very little.

Osbon, 49, only answered "yes" or "no" to questions from Magistrate Judge Clinton E. Averitte regarding Osbon's understanding of the charges against him and his right to an attorney.

"He was advised of his rights and the government filed a motion for pre-trial detention," courtroom deputy Beverley Bratcher told ABC News. "It was a quick initial appearance."

The hearing was Osbon's first public appearance since an apparent breakdown last week on a flight from New York to Las Vegas, during which he screamed about September 11 and religion, was locked out of the cockpit, and had to be restrained by passengers until the plane could make an emergency landing in Texas.

JetBlue Flight 191 was carrying 135 passengers and six crew members. A flight attendant suffered from some bruising to the ribs during the scuffle, but no one was seriously injured.

Osbon has been federally charged with interfering with flight crew instructions. According to the Department of Justice, the charge could be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

He was not asked to enter a guilty or not-guilty plea Monday.

Osbon appeared in an Amarillo, Texas, federal court for a seven-minute hearing where federal prosecutors asked that he be held without bond until a detention hearing on Thursday. The judge agreed and Osbon is being held in the Randall County Jail in Amarillo without bond.

Osbon's attorney, E. Dean Roper, did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News.

According to an FBI affidavit, "Osbon began talking about religion, but his statements were not coherent. The [first officer] became concerned when Osbon said 'things just don't matter.'"

"Osbon also yelled jumbled comments about Jesus, Sept. 11, Iraq, Iran, and terrorists," according to the criminal complaint filed against him. "He also yelled, 'Guys, push it to full throttle.'"

Osbon was subdued by at least five passengers after his co-pilot reportedly locked him out of the cockpit when he displayed potentially dangerous behavior. The flight from Kennedy Airport in New York was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.

On the ground, Osbon was taken off the plane in handcuffs and a wheelchair by Amarillo police.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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