Entries in Not Guilty (7)


Monica Chavez Found Not Guilty in Car Crash That Killed Family of 5, Caused by Possible Seizure

(THORNTON, Colo.) -- A Colorado woman who suffered an apparent seizure right before getting into a car crash that killed a family of five was found not guilty of negligent homicide.

Monica Chavez was driving more than 100 miles per hour with her two kids in Feb. 2011.

She apparently had a seizure when she entered an intersection, went airborne and smashed into two cars on a Thornton, Colo., street. Randy and Crystaldawn Stollsteimer, and their kids, Sebastian, Darrian, and Cyrus, died instantly.

"It's wrong. This verdict is wrong," said Jessica Johnson, a relative of the Stollsteimer family on Friday.

Only six states require a doctor to tell the department of motor vehicles when a patient is diagnosed with seizures. The Stollsteimer family, outraged by the verdict, hopes to make Colorado the seventh.

Prosecutors argued Chavez should not have been behind the wheel because of another seizure-like episode she had in 2006. After the 2006 episode, doctors told Chavez in the emergency room that she should not drive until cleared by a neurologist, prosecutor Tiffany Score said.

She ignored the order, according to prosecutors, but defense attorneys counter that Chavez saw her own doctor who was not convinced she'd had a seizure.

"No doctor will tell you that she should not have been driving five years after something that they never called a seizure," defense attorney Megan Downing said. "She was told she was fine and that's why she was in the car that day."

Chavez suffered another seizure at a McDonalds in August 2010, according to prosecutors.

Chavez's husband, George, said the 2010 incident didn't raise a red flag because he thought she just blacked out from suffering a heat stroke, according to ABC News station KMGH-TV in Denver.

Chavez was charged with five counts of negligent homicide and two counts of child abuse for putting her own children in danger.

The Chavez case received renewed national attention after Commerce Secretary John Bryson was charged with a felony hit-and-run last weekend after he says he suffered a seizure while driving. Bryson was found blacked out after hitting two cars. No one was injured.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Spray Tan' Murder Trial: Adam Kaufman Explains His Defense

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Adam Kaufman, the Florida developer who earlier this week was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2007 death of his wife in an explosive trial that became known as the "spray tan" trial, says he never thought he would be convicted.

"In my heart I didn't," Kaufman said Thursday on ABC's Good Morning America.  "You leave it up to 12 good people that have to make a very, very difficult decision.  Presented with the evidence in this case, I just didn't feel that they would be able to come back with a guilty verdict."

Kaufman stood accused of strangling his wife Eleonora "Lina" Kaufman to death in their Aventura, Fla., home.  The defense maintained throughout the trial that the real estate developer is innocent, arguing that his wife died from a pre-existing heart condition.

The case initially garnered nationwide attention in 2009, when the defense blamed Eleonora's death on a violent, allergic reaction to the spray tan that she'd received the day before she died.

Attorneys said that theory was disproved by science, and the defense was later dropped.  Defense attorneys soon instead said she died naturally from an unknown heart condition.

In his first appearance since being declared innocent, Kaufman on Thursday explained why his defense team initially presented that case.

"The night before she [Eleonora] passed away she had a spray tan for the first time and we felt that it would be negligent of us not to bring that up," Kaufman said on GMA.  "The problem was that it was never investigated, it was never looked into and we felt that it should have."

"You weren't getting answers from the medical examiner's office.  They wouldn't return our phone calls," he said.  "You have a 33-year-old woman [who is] healthy, active, in great shape, eats well, doesn't drink and smokes a few cigarettes a month.  We were thinking of every possible thing that could have happened."

Kaufman sat stone-faced and silent throughout most of the trial, and didn't take the stand in his defense.  He did break down in tears as the court heard the desperate 911 call he made when he found his wife on their bathroom floor five years ago.

"It's something that I don't wish on my worst enemy," Kaufman said on GMA.  "It's something that you don't ever expect you're going to be in a situation like that where you walk in and suddenly find your wife, who's healthy by all means, collapsed, cold, non-responsive."

The explosive trial ended Tuesday with an emotional outburst from the defendant's mother-in-law, who stood by his side throughout the trial and even testified for the defense.

Frida Aizman, Lina Kaufman's mother, was ejected from the courtroom after she had an emotional response to the prosecution's suggestion that she only came to Kaufman's defense in order to maintain her relationship with her grandchildren.

After the not guilty verdict was read, she and her son-in-law hugged.

"No matter what, I'm truly blessed to have that," he said of his wife's family's support.  "Her family has been extremely supportive throughout this whole thing."

"Everyone that knew our relationship and knew us would never in a million years think that would be possible," Kaufman said of the charges that he strangled his wife.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Illinois Man Acquitted in 50-Year-Old Rape Case, Faces Murder Charge

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A man who was accused of raping his half-sister 50 years ago was found not guilty Thursday by a judge in DeKalb County, Ill., who said prosecutors "failed to meet their burden."

The sexual abuse allegation against Jack McCullough, 72, was revealed when police contacted his half-sister during a cold case investigation into the 1957 murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph.  McCullough has pleaded not guilty in that case and will be tried at a later date.

"I believe that based on what the law requires in terms of the kinds of proof in these cases, there wasn't enough [evidence]," McCullough's public defender, Regina Harris, told ABC News, speaking about the rape case.  "[The judge] didn't say she didn't believe the victim, she didn't say she wasn't credible. There just wasn't enough to support it under the law that applied."

The alleged victim testified at McCullough's trial and recounted the horror of the day in 1962 when at age 14, she asked for a ride in a convertible she said her half-brother was driving.  He gave her a ride to his residence, where she said he turned on her.

"He told me to get on the bed.  He took my lower clothes off and he raped me," the woman told the court, according to ABC News affiliate WLS-TV.

Three roommates walked in and McCullough offered them a turn to assault her, the victim said.  Two of the three men did, according to her testimony.

Although the statute of limitations for rape was three years in Illinois at the time, Harris said, McCullough was able to be prosecuted since he left the state in 1962 and was no longer a resident of the state.

McCullough had faced between one year and life in prison if he had been found guilty.

The 72-year-old was arrested in Seattle last July after police uncovered new evidence in the cold case murder of Ridulph.

When Ridulph first went missing on Dec. 3, 1957, police received an anonymous phone call days later that John Tessier, McCullough's birthname, matched the description of a man seen talking to her.

Tessier changed his last name to McCullough after his mother died in 1994 to honor her maiden name, Harris said.

When police questioned him, he said he had taken a train from Rockford, Ill., about 40 miles from Sycamore, to Chicago, where he received a physical exam and psychological tests to determine his eligibility for military service.

Nearly five months later, Ridulph's bones were found about 120 miles from where she vanished.

McCullough left the state soon after the murder and joined the Air Force.  He later transferred to the Army and then worked as a policeman.

Decades later, new leads emerged, including an unstamped train ticket McCullough's ex-girlfriend found behind a picture frame.  According to an affidavit, the ticket had a government stamp, indicating it was issued to the government, a common practice at the time when distributing tickets to military recruits.

Under a new cloud of suspicion, McCullough admitted he had never taken a train to Chicago, and said his stepfather drove him there and he then hitched a ride back to Rockford where he called his stepfather to pick him up.

In a courthouse interview last year, McCullough maintained his innocence and alibi.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House Shooter Pleads Not Guilty

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Oscar Ortega-Hernandez pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in what prosecutors charge was an attempt to assassinate President Obama.

According to investigators, the 21-year-old Idaho man got out of his car about a half-mile away from the White House and fired several rounds from a rifle before driving off and then fleeing on foot.

Ortega-Hernandez was arrested a few days later in Pennsylvania.  Last week, he was indicted on 17 criminal counts.

No one was hurt in the shooting, although bullets were found embedded in the White House.  The president happened to be in San Diego at the time of the incident.  His wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their two daughters were not home either.

No date was scheduled for Ortega-Hernandez's next hearing.  Prosecutors contend that he's dangerous and had been planning the shooting for months, reportedly spending time before the incident at an Occupy DC encampment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Casey Anthony Back in Protective Custody But Could Get Bail

ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony is back in protective custody at Florida's Orange County jail but could be let out on bail before her Thursday sentencing if the defense asks for it and the judge agrees.

It usually takes a few hours to process a person out of custody.  In Anthony's case, bail terms could be light and she could even be released on her own recognizance.  But the defense may choose to keep her in jail until sentencing if they believe it gives them a tactical advantage with the judge, said legal expert Robert Dekle.

Hours after the jury shocked the courtroom on Tuesday by finding her not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, Casey Anthony was returned to jail where she was kept in protective custody, a standard procedure for high profile inmates, according to ABC News affiliate WFTV.

The jury found Casey Anthony guilty on four counts of providing false information to law enforcement, which are first degree misdemeanors punishable with up to one year in jail per count.

Sentencing on the guilty counts will be held on 9 a.m. Thursday.  The maximum sentence applicable in this case is four years, but having already served two-and-a-half years behind bars, Anthony stands to serve one-and-a-half years.

It is possible that Judge Belvin Perry could rule that Anthony can serve the years concurrently, which would set her free since she's already served over two years in jail.

Prosecutors can't realistically appeal the verdict because that would be double jeopardy.  The only theoretical possibility of any sort of retrial would be for the feds to get involved because of a civil rights issue, but that doesn't apply in this case.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Casey Anthony Jury 'Not Interested' in Speaking to Media

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The seven women and five men who found Casey Anthony not guilty of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee declined to discuss the verdict that stunned court watchers.

Judge Belvin Perry, who presided over the trial, ordered that the jurors' names be barred from being made public until further notice.

"We are not releasing their names at this time.  They are asking you to respect their privacy," Karen Levey, the director of due process services for the Orange County circuit court, told a swarm of reporters waiting to hear from the jurors.  "They are just not interested...a universal, unequivocal no."

Levey said that Orange County sheriff officers would be transporting the 12 jurors back to their hotel, where they have been sequestered for more than six weeks.  The five alternate jurors also declined to speak publicly about the case.

Casey Anthony, who faced the possibility of the death penalty, was found not guilty of murdering Caylee.  The jury declined to convict her of either first degree murder or aggravated manslaughter of a child.

The jurors found Anthony, 25, guilty on four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to law enforcement.  It's possible she could be released from prison for time served later this week.

The Casey Anthony jury has been a serious group throughout the trial, with some taking notes and others focused with laser-like intensity on the testimony, which has ranged from the dramatic to the tedious.

Due to the intense media coverage of the crime in the Orlando, Florida area over the last three years, the jurors were selected from a pool in nearby Pinellas County in early May, and bused to Orlando for the duration of the trial.  They have been sequestered and living out of an Orlando hotel since the trial began more than a month ago on May 20.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


VERDICT IN: Casey Anthony to Learn Her Fate Tuesday

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A jury in Orlando has decided on a verdict in the case of Casey Anthony, the 25-year-old Florida woman charged with killing her two-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008.

The jury is expected to deliver its verdict at approximately 2:15 p.m. Eastern time.

Story developing...

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio