Entries in Plea (7)


James Holmes Expected to Enter Plea at Court Hearing

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office(DENVER) -- James Holmes will be in a Colorado courtroom on Tuesday, where he is expected to enter a plea to charges stemming from the deadly shooting massacre at a movie theater in Aurora last summer.

Holmes, 25, is charged with 166 counts, including murder, attempted murder and explosives charges, for allegedly opening fire during a crowded midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20.  Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded by gunfire.  Another 12 people sustained other injuries.

It's widely expected that Holmes will plead not guilty by reason of insanity, however, defense attorneys could still ask the judge to delay the arraignment.  Once a plea is entered, the district attorney will have about 60 days to determine if prosecutors will seek the death penalty.

If Holmes pleads not guilty by reason of insanity, he will be immediately committed and court-appointed psychiatrists will determine if Holmes was insane when he allegedly opened fire at the movie theater.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Movie Massacre Case: James Holmes Plea Expected Next Week

Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office(DENVER) -- Accused Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes is expected to enter a plea next week, sources told ABC News, after his legal team lost an attempt to challenge the constitutionality of Colorado laws governing mental health defenses and insanity pleas.

In motions filed last week, public defenders asked Judge William Sylvester to answer a series of legal questions, including whether or not a court-ordered mental evaluation could be used against Holmes if he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but later withdrew it.

“In order to effectively represent Mr. Holmes, counsel must be able to accurately assess the consequences of a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity,” his attorneys wrote.

Prosecutors argued there were no constitutional issues to settle, pointing out that public defenders in two previous and unrelated cases filed similar motions that were denied.

“Defendant has not met his burden to show any of the statutes he challenges are unconstitutional,” prosecutors wrote in a motion filed by District Attorney George Brauchler’s office.

In an order filed late Thursday, Sylvester largely ruled against Holmes’ legal team, investigative sources told ABC News.

A court spokesman, who had not seen Sylvester’s ruling and could not comment on what it said, confirmed that prosecutors and defense teams received copies of the order Thursday evening. Attorneys on both sides did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

The judge’s ruling sweeps aside potentially time-consuming legal wrangling that threatened to delay an arraignment hearing set for March 12, when Holmes is expected to enter a plea.

Holmes, now 25, is charged with 166 counts, including murder, attempted murder and explosives charges, after prosecutors say he opened fire July 20 during a crowded midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded by gunfire. Another 12 people sustained other injuries.

Prosecutors have not said whether they intend to seek the death penalty. Holmes has not entered an insanity plea, but his attorneys said he “is considering” the option.

Defense attorneys not involved with the case said that by raising constitutional questions, Holmes’ lawyers may be trying to “build a record” that might help them in potential future appeals.

“Many things are filed to preserve the defendant’s right to appeal,” said Denver defense attorney Larry Pozner. “If you don’t ask, you can’t complain later.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Etan Patz Case: Why the DA Prosecuted Pedro Hernandez

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- Towards the end of Pedro Hernandez' taped confession to kidnapping and killing six-year-old Etan Patz he can be seen kneeling and praying with the detectives who questioned him, ABC News has learned. At that moment, according to sources who have seen the video, there is the sense that everyone in the room has tears in their eyes. Certainly Hernandez appears to.

Is it textbook police work? Maybe not. Nor are the hugs exchanged by suspect and investigators. But is it a powerful, moving and, most importantly, convincing confession?

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance clearly thinks so.

So do multiple persons familiar with the case interviewed by ABC News.

Following a grand jury indictment of Hernandez on kidnapping and second degree murder charges, the Manhattan D.A. will now go forward with a prosecution that will by all accounts be a difficult one. No physical evidence found to date links the suspect to the crime, a number of sources say, there are no witnesses, and the crime -- committed in 1979 -- has long been blamed on another man, although that man was never indicted.

Still, in a system of justice that has winners and losers, in a town like New York where sometimes it seems that all that matters is the zero sum game, the decision of prosecutors to go forward speaks to the law as they understand it, sources explain. The prosecutors have seen the psychiatric reports on the suspect, they have viewed and reviewed the confession, they are certain Hernandez is not crazy.

And if he is not crazy and he has confessed to police -- and he has in the past to family members and others -- that he killed Patz, the default position is not that his is a false confession, according to sources familiar with the case, but that it's true. In other words, it's the statement of a guilty man who, at age 51, wants to get a long-ago crime off his chest.

However formidable the burden of proof may be, then, this is a case that appears to be moving forward.

In that sense, the Hernandez case is the polar opposite of another legal firestorm that fell to Manhattan D.A. Vance -- the arrest of the prominent French politician and IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel maid. Depending on jury composition, the presentation of circumstantial evidence, and the skill of the prosecutors, it is conceivable that the case could have been made to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that "DSK" committed the crime.

But in the end, when they examined all the factors they had before them, the prosecutors felt that despite what appeared to be a large body of evidence, they themselves were not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that DSK was guilty. So in an atmosphere charged with issues of class and race and the suggestion of preferential treatment for a member of the global elite, Vance and his prosecutors dropped the case.

In the current case, which no one pretends will be anything but an uphill battle, they will move forward.

Their courtroom strategy will be to draw the jury back time and again to Hernandez' own words.

But Harvey Fishbein, the attorney for Hernandez, will have a large arsenal of weapons with which to fight back.

"This case will take time and it will take money," Fishbein said after his client's 90-second court appearance Thursday. And, he added, "This case will not tell the world what happened to Etan Patz."

Fishbein, sources say, is virtually certain to try to cast reasonable doubt on Hernandez's guilt by calling as a witness the former federal prosecutor who identified Jose Ramos, a convicted sex offender, as Patz's likely killer. In effect he will put the ex-prosecutor, Stuart GraBois, and his prime suspect on trial.

Ramos was released from a Pennsylvania prison earlier this month after serving 27 years for molestation in an unrelated case, but was immediately rearrested for allegedly lying about where he planned to live after his release.

Fishbein will elicit all he can about Ramos's past admissions that he was "90 percent certain" he had Patz in his apartment the day he went missing. He may bring forth the testimony of jailhouse snitches incarcerated with Ramos, and he will ask, repeatedly, "Where is the evidence?"

"My client will plead not guilty," Fishbein said. And without suggesting his client's confession was false, he simply noted that it is a documented fact that people confess to crimes they have not committed.

Should the case make it all the way to trial, a knowledgeable insider said, one would probably bet against the prosecution.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Catherine Greig, 'Whitey' Bulger's Girlfriend, Pleads Guilty

WCVB-TV BOSTON(BOSTON) -- Catherine Greig, the longtime girlfriend of former Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger, cried as she pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges that she helped Bulger stay on the lam for more than 16 years.

She pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy to commit identity fraud.

Despite charges that could have put Greig, 60, in prison for over a decade, the deal cut with prosecutors may land her in prison for as little as 32 months. Sentencing is set for June 12.

In a statement of fact signed by Greig and released in court Monday, the mob moll stated, "I engaged in conduct that was intended to help Bulger avoid detection from law enforcement, and to provide him with support and assistance during his flight from law enforcement."

The charges chiefly concerned her use of false documents and the forging of identities over the 16-year period she lived with the accused boss of Boston's Winter Hill Gang, a man who is charged with 19 murders.

Some of the victims of those murders spoke out about the news, expressing their frustration at what they feel is a slap on the wrist for Greig.

Steven Davis, who says his sister, Debra David, was killed by Bulger, was allowed to give a victim impact statement in court and called Greig a "monster."

In an interview with the Boston Globe earlier in the week, Tim Donohue, whose father's 1982 killing was linked to Bulger, said, "She helped that guy on the run…We could have had these answers 16 years ago. She's a criminal, she's not a victim. She's a criminal."

Public opinion of Greig has not improved as details of Greig and Bulger's life on the run continue to leak out. After their capture in California last June, authorities found over $800,000 in Bulger's apartment, most of it in $100 bills.

In the months since their capture five separate safety-deposit boxes filled with money have been found in both the U.S. and Europe, and under the agreement signed by Greig she is not required to reveal where any more may be hidden.

She is also not required to testify against Bulger, who is now 82.

Despite the wealth secreted away by the pair, Greig and Bulger lived a life that was, by all accounts, solidly middle-class. Living under the names of Charles and Carol Gasco they managed to live a normal life before their July 21 capture in Santa Monica.

Greig, a former dental hygienist, was able to keep up her appearance throughout their life on the run, frequenting beauty salons, dentists, and plastic surgeons even as she lived off the grid.

In the end, the looks that gained her the attention of the alleged mob kingpin may have been what brought her to justice. Ron Gollobin, a former television reporter who covered the height of the Boston Mafia wars noted that, "She was a very distinctive woman, stunning even at 60."

"He looked like any old man with a baseball hat," said Gollobin. "There is an irony that it was ultimately Catherine who brought him down."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Guilty Plea From Mom Whose Son Died After She Left Him in Minivan

Commonwealth of Va Dept of Corrections(PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va.) -- Karen Murphy, the Virginia mother who inadvertently left her two-year-old son in her minivan and found him dead hours later, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of misdemeanor child neglect and will not go to prison, ABC affiliate WJLA reported.

Murphy sobbed as she left the courthouse, WJLA said.

“She’s devastated by the loss of her son, she’s going to have to deal with that, and she is dealing with that,” said Edward MacMahon, Murphy’s attorney.

According to press reports and court documents, on June 17 Murphy, a veterinarian, left her son, Ryan, strapped in his car seat while she worked at an animal hospital. When she parked in the driveway of her home in nearby Bristow seven hours later, she saw the boy and tried unsuccessfully to revive him. He had died of heatstroke.

According to court documents, Murphy had previously left Ryan in the car while she worked at an animal hospital, back in January. Twenty minutes later, an employee of Ryan’s day care center called Murphy, who realized her mistake.

This pattern led prosecutors to charge Murphy with felony murder along with the two misdemeanors. The maximum sentence for all three charges could have been 40 years in prison.

On Monday, Murphy received a sentence of two years in prison, which was suspended, WJLA reported, adding she also got six years of probation and was ordered to do 400 hours of community service, to be served at an animal shelter.

The owner of a Facebook page titled “Supporters of Dr Karen Murphy, DVM” posted the following statement: “Today Karen received the compassion she’s shown & given to all of us through the years. The horrendous charges against her were greatly reduced and settled … Our prayers have been answered!”

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


California Teen Pleads Guilty to Second-Degree Murder

Hemera/Thinkstock(OXNARD, Calif.) -- A teen who shot and killed his eighth-grade classmate in 2008 has reached a deal with prosecutors, agreeing to plead guilty to second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter with use of a weapon in exchange for a 21-year prison term, which will be served in both youth facilities and prison.

Brandon McInerney, now 17, was 14 when he shot his classmate Larry King, 15, at their Oxnard, Calif., middle school. The plea deal comes ahead of what would have been McInerney's second murder trial. The second trial could have resulted in McInerney being convicted of first-degree murder and being sentenced to 50 years in prison.

The deal denied McInerney credit for time served, so he will end up having served a sentence of nearly 25 years. He turns 18 in January; when he is released, he will be 39. He was charged and tried as an adult.

The deal was reached despite McInerney's lawyers having argued that he was guilty of only voluntary manslaughter. They had argued also that because McInerney had just turned 14 when he shot King, he was, in the words of defense attorney Scott Weprin, "a kid who made a very bad mistake" and who should have been tried as a juvenile -- meaning he would have been free when he was age 25.

Wippert told ABC News that after McInerney's trial there was no "mechanism" to switch the case to juvenile court, a law he said needed to change.

There will still be a formal sentencing of McInerney, which will take place Dec. 19. Victim impact statements will be given at that time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio