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Entries in grand jury (3)

Monday
Apr092012

No Grand Jury in Trayvon Martin Shooting

Allison Joyce/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- A Florida special prosecutor will not bring the Trayvon Martin shooting before a grand jury, her office announced Monday. The grand jury is scheduled to convene on April 10, but will not hear evidence about the shooting of the unarmed black teenager by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain.

In making the announcement, special prosecutor Angela Corey said her office was continuing to investigate the Feb. 26 shooting. “The decision should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case,” her office said in a statement.

Not using a grand jury leaves the decision whether to indict Zimmerman up to Corey, a decision that could come as early as this week. Ever since Corey was appointed special prosecutor on March 22 by Gov. Rick Scott, she has said that she may not utilize a grand jury.

There has been growing pressure for an indictment of Zimmerman, although Zimmerman, 28, and his supporters claim he fired in self defense after he was attacked by Trayvon, who was 17.

The Sanford, Fla., police department was temporarily closed Monday as a handful of protesters wearing hooded sweatshirts in solidarity with Martin blocked the entrance, sang songs and chanted “Freedom.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb192012

Jury to Deliberate in George Huguely's Murder Trial 

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Jurors in former University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely V's murder trial will now have three days away from court to think about what they have heard and seen before reconvening to decide Huguely's fate on Wednesday.

Huguely faces anywhere from one year to life in prison, based on what the jurors decide.

After Saturday's closing arguments, jurors decided they were too tired to begin deliberations, so court will reconvene on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Court is closed Monday because of the holiday and a grand jury day was previously set for Tuesday.

The jury is made up of 14 people: 12 main jurors and two alternates. There are seven women and seven men, ranging from their late 20s to early 50s.

Over the course of two weeks of the trial, the jurors listened to nearly 60 witnesses, including family, friends and teammates of Huguely and Yeardley Love, as well as a bevy of experts, most of which were medical.

In addition to the multitude of witnesses, the jurors have watched videos, read correspondence and looked at graphic photos.

Defense attorney Fran Lawrence began his closing arguments Saturday with his hand on Huguely's back, stating repeatedly that his client had "no intent" to kill Yeardley Love.

"George played a role, but it's overwhelmingly a tragedy," Lawrence said, maintaining that there was no intent to kill. "He contributed to her death but he did not kill her. He left her there alive and that's not up for dispute."

He referred to Huguely as a "stupid drunk" and "boy athlete" who was not calculating or malicious. Lawrence said Huguely went to Love's apartment to talk to her and to make up, not to kill her.

Lawrence said Huguely and Love were living in a "lacrosse ghetto" of attractive twenty-somethings and that the drama of romance led them to "jilt" each other.

The attorney said Huguely's "I should have killed you" email was an expression, not a threat, which he likened to a parent telling a child, "I will crush you."

The attorney contradicted the prosecution's claim that Huguely slammed Love's head against a wall, saying that Love may have fallen.

Lawrence told jurors to re-watch the video of Huguely's police statement and that they would see from his reactions that he had "no clue" Love was hurt or dead.

The defense attorney reminded jurors of a surveillance tape they saw Friday from the burger bar Boylan Heights the night before Love died that showed her and Huguely holding hands, saying it was an affectionate moment between the two.

Lawrence told jurors that alcohol ruined Huguely's life, but that he never intended to kill Love.

"Involuntary manslaughter needs your careful consideration," Lawrence said. "If you have any hesitation, that's a reasonable doubt."

Prosecutor Warner "Dave" Chapman delivered emotional closing arguments earlier Saturday, crying as he delivered his final remarks to jurors.

Chapman teared up as he gave the jury his account of the moments leading up to Love's death.

"She couldn't scream ... was it his hand over her mouth? Was it her face being mashed into the floor?" the attorney said. Huguely was almost a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier than Love. "She never had a chance."

Chapman read from the letter of apology Huguely sent to Love in February 2010 following an incident in which he had been caught holding a terrified Love in a choke hold. The letter was found in Love's desk drawer after her death.

"Alcohol is ruining my life," Chapman read from Huguely's letter. "I'm scared to know that I can get that drunk to the point where I cannot control how I act."

Jurors were shown the letter earlier in the trial, but its content had not been available to the public or media.

The prosecutor again addressed the email from his opening statement in which Huguely wrote to Love, "I should have killed you," after he found out that she had been with another man.

"These messages convey the depth of his anger and hard feeling toward Yeardley Love," Chapman said.

"Can you imagine the sight and sound and fury?" Chapman asked of the moment when Huguely kicked a hole through Love's bedroom door in order to get in. "She's freaked out at what's come through the door. First his foot. Then him."

The attorney said Huguely made no effort to help Love knowing that she was injured after their encounter and said he lied to his friends about where he had been because of what he had done. He said Huguely's acts were intentional, not accidental, and that "voluntary intoxication" is no defense.

The attorney questioned why, if Huguely hadn't beaten Love to a point where she was disabled, did she let him leave with her laptop or not call for help after he left?

Huguely was charged with first-degree murder, but jurors were also given the options of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

There are two theories under which Huguely could be found guilty of first-degree murder. The first is premeditation, that he had formed a purpose to kill her before doing so.

"The purpose doesn't have to be formed a long time [before], it could be formed quickly right before the killing, but they have to decide that his intent was to kill her," University of Virginia law professor Anne Coughlin told ABCNews.com.

The second charge that could lead jurors to a first-degree murder conviction, the felony murder count, does not involve premeditation.

"If they can prove the underlying felony, that he broke in to take her laptop and that he caused her death in the course of the felony, it could still be first-degree murder without premeditation," Coughlin said.

Jurors' could also decide on second-degree murder, a "more elusive category to define," according to Coughlin.

"It's a killing without premeditation but with malice," she said. "We're looking for some callousness or hardness of heart, which could be established by proof that he didn't intend to kill her but hurt her badly and then left her there to die."

Voluntary manslaughter could be the conviction if jurors viewed the alleged killing as a sudden act of "passion because of provocation."

"The idea could be that he was enraged because of fights of the past, fights of that evening ... that he did lash out in a homicidal way," Coughlin said.

The jurors' final option, aside from a not guilty verdict, is involuntary manslaughter, the charge that Huguely's defense attorney said in opening statements should be the harshest outcome jurors should even consider.

"The question is whether he actually caused her death in the course of committing an unlawful act or if he behaved with some kind or recklessness," Coughlin said.

In total, Huguely has been charged with six counts: first-degree murder, felony murder in a robbery or attempted robbery, robbery of a residence, burglary, entering a house with the intention to commit a felony and grand larceny.

The possible sentences for the range of charges and possible conviction are anywhere from one year to life in prison.

"So you can see the stakes involved for both sides," Coughlin said. "It's huge. And it all comes down to his mental state."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Tuesday
Jan182011

John Edwards Affair: Grand Jury Indictment Decision Expected Soon

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A long-running federal grand jury probe of John Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign is nearing its conclusion as investigators wrap up an inquiry which has been broadened to include issues beyond the money allegedly used to conceal the affair between Edwards and his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation tell ABC News that a decision on whether to seek an indictment of Edwards is expected within the next several weeks.

"I think it's very close," says one source involved in the case, noting that the government has recently dedicated significant resources to gathering evidence and interviewing key witnesses in North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

Former Sen. Edwards and his attorneys have acknowledged the grand jury investigation, but have denied wrongdoing.

The focus of the investigation remains on the more than $1 million allegedly spent to seclude Hunter and former Edwards staffer Andrew Young, who had falsely claimed paternity of Hunter's child, as Edwards continued his pursuit of the nomination.

Investigators are leaning strongly toward the legal conclusion that those payments should have been reported as campaign contributions since they supported -- albeit indirectly -- Edwards presidential campaign.

To bolster the case, sources indicate that the federal government has also been digging deeper into Edwards' past, scrutinizing the transactions of a web of loosely-connected political committees, corporations and non-profit organizations associated with his failed campaign, looking for potential violations of campaign finance and tax laws.

Among the groups facing scrutiny is a non-profit organization -- created by former Edwards' staffers and advisers -- known as The Center for Promise and Opportunity.

Tax records show the center received more than $2.2 million in 2006 from undisclosed donors and spent nearly all of it funding events and travel for Mr. Edwards and associates as he sought to enhance his credentials prior to officially entering the race´╗┐.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio