Entries in Justice (5)


Cleveland Kidnapper Ariel Castro Found Dead in Prison Cell

Angelo Merendino/Getty Images(ORIENT, Ohio) -- Convicted Cleveland kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro has died after he was found hanged in his prison cell, Ohio Department of Corrections confirmed to ABC News.

Castro, 53, was found hanging in his cell at Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio, on Tuesday at approximately 9:20 p.m. local time, corrections spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

Upon finding Castro in his cell, facility staff tried to resuscitate him, according to Smith.  Castro was taken to Ohio State University Medical Center and was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m.

"Inmate Ariel Castro was found hanging in his cell this evening at 9:20 p.m. at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient.  He was housed in protective custody which means he was in a cell by himself and rounds are required every 30 minutes at staggered intervals," Smith said in a statement.

"A thorough review of this incident is underway and more information can be provided as it becomes available pending the status of the investigation," the statement concluded.

Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years by an Ohio judge on Aug. 1.  Castro, a former school bus driver, kidnapped Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus between 2002 and 2004 and imprisoned them, sometimes restrained by chains, in his Cleveland home.

Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape, assault and aggravated murder.  The plea deal spared Castro the death penalty because he was accused of the aggravated murder of a fetus after forcibly causing an abortion in one of his victims that he is accused of impregnating.

The women escaped on May 6, when Berry broke part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help.  Castro was arrested that evening.

The home where Castro held his victims was torn down last month as part of the plea deal.

At Castro's sentencing hearing last month, he shocked a Cleveland court by saying he was "not a monster," "lived a normal life" and that the sex he had with the three women he held captive for more than a decade was "consensual."

Castro's statement came after Knight confronted him for the "hell" she endured in his house for 11 years.

Castro showed no reaction to the remarks by Knight.  Instead, he gave a rambling speech in which he depicted himself as a person who had "everything going" for himself but was plagued by an addiction to porn.

During the hearing, detectives told how he captured the three women and subjected them to a decade of torture, which one woman wrote in a diary was like being held as a "prisoner of war."

While in captivity, Berry gave birth to her now 6-year-old daughter, who Castro fathered.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Six Years of Silence for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the Supreme Court justices Tuesday fired questions on the Obamacare mandate across the bench, one voice was notably -- but perhaps predictably -- silent. So far every justice on the bench has spoken up on the health care law except for one: Justice Clarence Thomas.

Indeed, if you search Tuesday’s 126-page transcript of arguments, you won’t find Thomas’ name a single time.

It has now been six years since the justice has asked questions during oral arguments, although he certainly has read his opinions from the bench in his robust baritone.

Thomas has said that he goes into the oral argument sessions knowing how he will decide a case so he doesn’t ask questions.

The silence may have been welcomed by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who could barely speak a few sentences before a justice interjected with a question from the “hot bench.”

Of the few times in recent memory that Justice Thomas has felt compelled to join the fray, it was during a hearing in 2002 that stunned the audience most. Speaking passionately on the issue of banning the burning of the cross, he said, “Now, it’s my understanding that we had almost 100 years of lynching and activity in the South by the Knights of Camellia and -- and the Ku Klux Klan, and this was a reign of terror and the cross was a symbol of that reign of terror. Was -- isn’t that significantly greater than intimidation or a threat?” Thomas asked Justice Department lawyer Michael Dreeben.

“Well, I think they’re co-extensive, Justice Thomas, because it is --” Dreeben replied before he was cut off.

“Well, my fear is, Mr. Dreeben, that you’re actually understating the symbolism on -- of and the effect of the cross, the burning cross. I -- I indicated, I think, in the Ohio case that the cross was not a religious symbol and that it has -- it was intended to have a virulent effect. And I -- I think that what you’re attempting to do is to fit this into our jurisprudence rather than stating more clearly what the cross was intended to accomplish and, indeed, that it is.”

The audio of Thomas’ questioning can be heard here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Justice John Paul Stevens: Wrong on Death Penalty After 35 Years?

U.S. Supreme Court(WASHINGTON) -- Former Justice John Paul Stevens is a man of few regrets from his nearly 35 years on the Supreme Court, except one -- his 1976 vote to reinstate the death penalty.

“I really think that I’ve thought over a lot of cases I’ve written over the years.  And I really wouldn’t want to do any one of them over...with one exception,” Stevens, author of the new memoir Five Chiefs, told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.

“My vote in the Texas death case.  And I think I do mention that in that case, I think that I came out wrong on that,” Stevens said.

At the time he thought the death penalty would be confined “to a very narrow set of cases,” he said. But instead it was expanded and gave the prosecutor an advantage in capital cases, according to Stevens.

The former associate justice has been an outspoken opponent of the death penalty, but his admission of that 1976 Jurek v. Texas vote comes at a time when the country appears to be revisiting its stance on the death penalty, in light of Troy Davis’ execution last week.

He writes in his book that he regretted the vote “because experience has shown that the Texas statute has played an important role in authorizing so many death sentences in that state.”

In a recent Republican presidential debate there was a burst of applause after the moderator mentioned the 234 executions that occurred under Gov. Rick Perry. Stevens said he was “disappointed” when he saw that reaction.

“Maybe one believes, and certainly a lot of people sincerely do, that it is an effective deterrent to crime and will in the long run do more harm than good.  I don’t happen to share that view,” he said. “But there are obvious people who do.  And, of course, being hard on crime has been -- [and always is] -- politically popular, let’s put it that way.”

President Ford appointed Stevens in 1975. A year after his retirement Stevens is out with a memoir entitled Five Chiefs, about his time arguing in front of and then working with five different chief justices.

Despite his retirement status Stevens did not want to weigh in on whether to uphold President Obama’s health care legislation -- an issue that as of today 26 states and the Obama administration have asked the Supreme Court to decide.

But Stevens did give a piece of advice to his former colleagues: Just do it.

“If a case is there, the judge, the court has a duty to decide it. I think they just have to decide it and not think about that particular consequence.”

Although he’s retired Stevens still keeps an office at the Supreme Court. Elena Kagan replaced him on the bench, and Stevens said he couldn’t be happier.

“How is she doing? Well…wonderfully. I guess I say that not only because I agree with almost every -- every vote she’s made since she’s taken on the court,” he said. “But she writes beautifully. And she has written some very fine opinions.”

Stevens told Stephanopoulos her nomination made it easier for him to retire.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Supporters of Slain Border Agent Seek Justice, Answers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Less than one month before a gunman went on a bloody rampage in suburban Tucson, killing six and wounding 13, a similarly gruesome scene played out in a dark canyon just outside the city.

Bandits armed with AK-47s attacked a group of U.S. Border Patrol agents, including Brian Terry, a three-year veteran of the force who was shot in the back and killed.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers, friends and family of Terry gathered Friday for a memorial service at a Tucson sports arena. And some voiced frustration that justice for their fallen comrade hasn't come fast enough.

"The FBI is being completely mum on where the investigation is at," said National Border Patrol Council President T.J. Bonner in an interview. "We're pressing to get some answers not only for our organization but the family."

Bonner said the lack of details on the investigation was particularly troublesome in light of federal investigators' robust response to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at an event two weeks ago.

"It's incumbent upon the FBI to be more forthcoming about what they know and what they don't know," he said.

Federal law enforcement officials contacted by ABC News said four suspects are in custody, detained immediately following the shooting Dec. 15, but that a fifth suspect remains at large. Some observers believe he likely escaped to Mexico.

"We've got to hunt them down and put them in jail, whether they're drug traffickers, alien smugglers or, in this particular case, people who shoot and kill border patrol agents," said Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton.

An FBI spokesman declined to discuss the ongoing investigation or identify the names of the men in custody but said that the suspects were being held on "immigration charges."

No murder charges have been filed in Terry's death.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Real Life Superheroes? Mystery Men Patrol Streets of Seattle

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SEATTLE) -- Armed with a skintight black-and-gold, belted costume, a cape and a fedora, Phoenix Jones suits up at night to fight crime on the streets of Seattle. He's the leader of a real-life superhero movement called the Rain City Superheroes, a group of 10 fighters who perform their own form of vigilante justice on the streets of Seattle.

"It's a pretty simple message. Citizens need to be more accountable. Calling 911 is a great start, but it's not the end all to end all," Jones said. "Criminals feel free to just run wild in my city, and I'm not going to stand for it."

Superman can fly, Batman has his gadgets and Spiderman has his webs and supersharp senses. But Phoenix Jones, Red Dragon and Buster Doe have just their snazzy costumes and endless enthusiasm as they patrol Seattle's Capitol Hill.

Red Dragon sports a red robe and a wooden sword. Buster Doe covers his face with a white scarf. Jones wears a bulletproof vest and carries not just a Taser but a net gun and a grappling hook. His car has a computer in it that prints any e-mails sent to his superhero e-mail address.

Police are perplexed, worried the group will turn into vigilantes and doubt that the superhero posse has ever stopped any crime.

"Our concern is if it goes badly, then we end up getting called anyway, and we may have additional victims," Detective Mark Jamieson said.

Seattle police said that it is not illegal to dress up as a superhero, but they worry about excess calls to 911 when residents confuse Jones and the other real-life superheroes with criminals.

"I have two kids," Phoenix Jones said. "I always tell them the same thing every time before I go on patrol: 'This is the only thing daddy could think of to make the world better for you guys, and I'll see you when I get home.'"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio