Entries in Release (12)


Oregon Sheriff May Release Undocumented Immigrants to Ease Jail Overcrowding

Kevin Horan/Stone(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Multnomah County, Ore., officials say they will decide this week whether to endorse a proposed detention policy to allow undocumented immigrants jailed for nonviolent misdemeanor crimes to be released.

Sheriff Dan Staton, who has been drafting the proposed policy shift with county chair Jeff Cogen, said the move is necessary to make space for violent criminals in his overcrowded jails.

“I’m releasing people who are committing burglaries. I’m releasing people that are stealing vehicles. I keep releasing people that are low level drug offenders and I’ve got to put a stop to it,” Staton told ABC News’ Portland affiliate KATU-TV.

The proposed policy would mean local officials would decline immigration holds issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for nonviolent offenders, according to a copy of the proposal found on the Multnomah County Commissioner’s website.

ICE can issue holds to federal, state and local law enforcement to ask that they hold an undocumented immigrant for 48 hours while officials investigate whether the person entered the United States illegally.

Because Multnomah County isn’t compensated for holding the alleged undocumented immigrants, the practice places an “undue burden on the county,” according to the proposal

“Moreover, the unmitigated compliance with ICE detainers requests has the potential of further straining the resources of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and occupying scarce and costly jail beds that should be reserved for those who pose the greatest threat to public safety,” the proposal said.

Staton has said he will continue to honor the immigration holds for undocumented immigrants accused of felonies and misdemeanor violent crimes.

Oregonians for Immigration Reform, a group advocating for “sustainable” immigration, said the policy shift was “rewarding” to undocumented immigrants.

“Either we’re a nation of the rule of law or we’re not, and rewarding people who are here illegally — specifically here illegally — rewarding them with a special condition is a slap in the face to everybody who goes through the immigration process lawfully,” member Jim Ludwick told KATU.

The Multnomah County Board is expected to vote on whether to endorse the proposal on April 4, however their decision does not affect whether it becomes official.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Man Imprisoned for 1962 Arizona Double Murders Pleads No Contest

Hemera/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- A man who spent almost four decades in prison for killing two people in the Arizona desert Wednesday pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree murder and will go free.

Bill Macumber entered a plea in Maricopa County Superior Court under an agreement with prosecutors and received a sentence of time served. Although the victims' family asked Judge Bruce Cohen to deny his request, prosecutors said they couldn't pursue a third trial because key evidence has been destroyed or lost.

The 77-year-old Macumber, who had no history of violence, was convicted in the 1970s in one of the most sensational murder cases in the history of Arizona. Macumber was twice sentenced to life in prison for killing Joyce Sterrenberg and Tim McKillop, both 20 years old, and leaving their bodies in the desert.

On May 24, 1962, the young couple was found shot and killed next to their car in an area now near Scottsdale. The case went cold for 12 years until Macumber's wife, Carol Kempfert, went into the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Department where she worked and told her supervisors that her husband had confessed to the murders. Macumber was arrested a week later.

In 1975, Kempfert testified against her now-ex-husband, again saying that he confessed. During the trial, three pieces of evidence allegedly had been collected by investigators at the scene and were also presented: Macumber's .45 automatic pistol, a lifted palm print and bullet casings, according to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. At the time, prosecutors argued that the physical evidence linked Macumber to the murder scene.

Macumber was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to two concurrent life terms that year. After successfully appealing his convictions, Macumber was retried in 1977 and again found guilty and sentenced to two life terms.

In total, Macumber served 37 years in prison.

In 2009, Macumber and his attorneys petitioned the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency, which in a rare move unanimously recommended his sentence be commuted, saying, "An injustice has been done in Mr. Macumber's case" and that his wife had "motive, means and opportunity to falsely pin the murders on Mr. Macumber."

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer denied the recommendation for clemency.

In 2011, Macumber petitioned the court for post-conviction relief and was granted an evidentiary hearing. But without the necessary evidence, prosecutors said they were unable to retry the case. After the judge's ruling Wednesday, Macumber will be released.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alleged Rape Victim Released from Detention After 20 Days

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- After nearly three weeks in custody at a youth detention center in California, a 17-year-old alleged rape victim was finally released Monday, with the apologies of the presiding judge.

“I am truly sorry for all that you have been through,” a Sacramento County judge told the girl, who was held as a material witness in the case against her alleged rapist, ABC News affiliate KXTV reports.

The teen had previously skipped court dates in which she was expected to testify against the man she said raped her, inciting authorities to serve her with a warrant and keep her in custody to ensure that she would be available to testify in the future.

“The last thing we ever want to do is put a victim or a witness in custody, but when you have serious crimes of violence and a multiple offenses, you have to balance the protection of the community here,” Sacramento County Assistant District Attorney Albert Locher said earlier this month.

The teen was released on the condition that she would be monitored by a GPS system, but her location would be kept confidential.

Locher told ABC News Monday that the teen and her defense attorney had reached an agreement with prosecutors to permit her release. The terms of the agreement were confidential, the attorney said.

Prosecutors were forced to re-file charges against the alleged rapist, Frank William Rackley, after the teen skipped out on a preliminary hearing and the Feb. 28 trial. The new trial has been set for April 23, when the alleged victim is once again expected to testify, Locher said.

Rackley, an ex-convict with a criminal history that dates back to 1992, was previously arrested for rape, though according to court documents, those charges were dropped.

Locher said the teen victim’s testimony was imperative and cited the potential public safety issue if Rackley is let go on the charges.

The teen’s attorney, Lisa Franco, did not return calls for comment. She previously told ABC News affiliate KXTV that the detention of her client was preventing the girl from moving on with her life.

“She needs to be released.  It’s the only way she can start moving on, stop being victimized and move on with her life after what’s happened to her,” Franco said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Andrea Yates Could Be Released from Psychiatric Hospital to Attend Church

Brett Coomer-Pool/Getty Images(KERRVILLE, Texas) -- Andrea Yates, the Houston mom who in 2001 drowned her five young children one by one in the bathtub, might soon be allowed to leave the state psychiatric hospital where she is being treated for mental illness to attend church.

"She's been approved by a certain church to attend Sunday services, and I anticipate that that recommendation will be forthcoming from her doctors," Yates' attorney, George Parnham, told ABC News. He would not name the church.

Parnham said he expects doctors at Kerrville State Hospital to file a letter to the state district court within 10 days recommending that Yates be granted a two-hour pass to attend church on Sundays, the first step toward a permanent release.

"I hope that little by little she will adapt to the outside world by taking baby steps," he said.

Yates was convicted of capital murder in 2002, but acquitted at a retrial in 2006 after jurors found her not guilty by reason of insanity. The stay-at-home mom had a history of mental illness and suicide attempts before drowning Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke 2, and Mary, 6 months, after her husband, Rusty, left for work.

Yates confessed to the killings after calling police to her home. A police video showed a wet sock in the hallway and the body of one of Yates' children face down in the bathtub. The other four bodies were laid on a bed and covered with a sheet.

In tapes released to ABC News' Primetime in 2006, Yates said she drowned her children because she didn't want them to go to hell. Yates' defense team argued she was influenced by Michael Woroniecki, a preacher from Oregon.

"The church she requested to attend is 180 degrees different from the ramblings of that hell, fire and brimstone preacher," said Parnham. "She would just like to get back into a stable church whereby God and Christianity become a role in her life. There's nothing nefarious about that."

Experts testified that postpartum psychosis prevented Yates from knowing right from wrong. With treatment, the delusions and hallucinations cleared and Yates realized what she had done.

Parnham said Yates makes cards and other crafts and sells them in the hospital gift shop. She sends the proceeds to the Yates Memorial Children's Fund, a charity founded by Parnham to fund women's mental health education.

While Yates' doctors may deem her ready to re-enter society, the public may feel differently.

"We tend to keep people with psychosis hospitalized a lot longer than we need to, partly because society is spooked by these individuals and judges tend to reflect those views," said Dr. Phil Resnick, director of forensic psychiatry at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland. Resnick testified in both of Yates' trials in her defense. "States tend to be quite conservative in releasing people."

Dr. Stephen Montgomery, a forensic psychiatrist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, said church could be a good starting point for Yates' return to life outside the hospital.

"It's always healthy for patients to be reintroduced into society, and church is a good support network and source of strength for many people," he said. "The only concern would be making sure she's no longer having any type of delusion that might affect her understanding of spiritual scripture."

After seven years of treatment, Parnham said Yates is "just as normal as you or I." He hopes conditional release for weekly church services will be the first step toward her one day living on her own and holding down a job.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Battered Wives, Two Confessed Murders, Two Women Now Free

Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two women, who in separate cases confessed to killing their husbands and made headlines for their sensational murder trials, were freed just one day apart after they each employed a controversial and difficult defense, claiming that years of abuse led them to murder.

Barbara Sheehan, a New York City school secretary, who admitted shooting her police officer husband 11 times with two of his own pistols, was acquitted of murder Thursday, after claiming she had been abused for years and feared for her life on the morning of Feb. 18, 2008.

On Friday, Gaile Owens of Memphis walked out of the Tennessee prison cell where she's been held since being convicted in 1985 of hiring a stranger to kill her husband. After 26 years of appeals from death row, Owens was paroled when new evidence that she had been the victim of sustained domestic abuse was revealed.

Both cases were critical tests of the so-called battered-woman defense, in which attorneys argue that a history of abuse led their clients to kill.

Legal experts say the battered-woman defense is a tough case to make for attorneys.

"It's not easy. A battered-woman defense is always an uphill climb," defense attorney Gloria Allred, who didn't represent either woman, told ABC News. "There are a lot of questions her lawyers are going to need to answer for the jury. Why didn't she report the abuse? Did she tell anyone?"

Allred said juries are often unsympathetic to women they believe should have left their husbands sooner, rather than turn to murder later.

Owens, whose death penalty conviction was reduced to life in prison last year, was granted parole last week, and she walked free Friday. At her 1985 trial, she did not talk about being physically and sexually abused by her husband, claiming later she didn't want to expose her young sons to the truth about their father.

On Thursday, a jury acquitted Barbara Sheehan of murder, but convicted of her of illegal possession of a firearm.

"There's no joy today," Sheehan's attorney Michael Dowd told reporters outside the courthouse. "The only thing that can bring joy to this family would be to bring them back 17 years before the first blow was struck."

Sheehan admitted to shooting her husband after a fight in which he threatened her if she did not accompany him on a trip to Florida. Sheehan claimed she had been seriously beaten on a trip a few months earlier to Jamaica and was reluctant to leave her home.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said neither side could claim victory and called on battered woman to go to authorities when they are first abused.

In 2010, a New York woman accused of murdering her husband successfully used the battered woman defense and was acquitted. Shanique Simmons had been routinely abused by her husband and was even raped, she testified. Simmons stabbed her unarmed husband in the hallway of their Bronx apartment, but claimed self defense.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Casey Anthony's Parents Were Asked to Be Decoys in Jail Release

Hand Out/ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla) -- Casey Anthony's attorney wanted to use her parents as media decoys at the Orlando, Florida jailhouse where she was released on Sunday, according to the couple's lawyer.

Mark Lippman, who representd Casey Anthony's parents George and Cindy Anthony, told HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell on Sunday that he refused the request from attorney Jose Baez.

"Last night we got a call from Mr. Baez ... he had wanted to use my clients as decoys for the media and I, of course, did not agree with that and neither did my clients," said Lippman.  "One, it was risky at best, and two, just in my opinion, something that would not be beneficial to anybody."

Lippman added that he did find out that Casey Anthony is safe at an undisclosed location.  Anthony reportedly boarded a private plane from the Orlando Executive Airport around 3 a.m. Sunday upon her release after approximately three years in prison just after midnight Sunday.

In the interview, as reported by The Examiner, Lippmann indicated that there has still been no further contact between Casey Anthony and her mother -- though Cindy Anthony did want to have contact with Casey, and Mr. Baez blocked it, according to Lippman.

"After the trial Cindy tried to see Casey and again was rebuked.  Now again, even a simple telephone call apparently seems to be too much for either Casey or Mr. Baez, so we're asking publicly that Mr. Baez at least reach out to me and let me know what's going on," Lippman said.

Casey Anthony's release comes 12 days after she was convicted of four counts of lying to police and a day after she filed an appeal of those convictions.

Anthony, 25, was sentenced to four years for lying to investigators about her 2-year-old daughter Caylee's 2008 disappearance and death, but she had already served three years and was credited for good behavior.  Aside from the jail time, Anthony was fined $4,000.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Casey Anthony Cops May Provide Her Protection Upon Her Release

Orange County police patrol guards Casey Anthony's parents' house on July 12, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images (ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The police who investigated Casey Anthony for murder -- and still believe she is guilty -- said Tuesday that they are assessing the threat to her safety and may provide police protection for Anthony when she leaves jail this weekend.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings acknowledged the anger over the verdict that found Anthony not guilty of killing her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. The fury has been directed at Anthony, her parents, the judge and the jury.

"Our intelligence section is assessing the threats," said Sgt. John Allen, who helped interrogate Anthony at Universal Studios after she admitted she had lied about working there.

"A lot of people have strong sentiments about the outcome, but no one has the right to take the law into their own hands...I would hope people step back and, regardless of their feelings, not commit another crime," Allen said at a news conference with other members of the team that investigated Anthony.

Demings said that when Anthony, 25, leaves jail Sunday, "We will assist in her departure from those premises."

If there is an "overriding public safety need," they will escort her to her destination, the sheriff said. He added, however, "We will not be providing any elaborate protection for Casey once she leaves."

The jury's not-guilty verdict has not changed the opinion of the cops who grilled Anthony and investigated Caylee's death.

When asked whether he still believed that Anthony was guilty, Allen replied, "I certainly don't have any doubt."

Demings said that an investigation involving the case remains open and involves a witness tampering allegation. He would not elaborate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Casey Anthony to Be Released from Jail Next Week

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony, acquitted of killing her daughter Caylee, will be released from jail next week, her attorney told ABC News.

Anthony, 25, was ordered Thursday to remain in jail after Judge Belvin Perry sentenced her to four years in jail and a fine of $4,000 for her conviction of lying to law enforcement officials.

The judge gave Anthony four consecutive jail sentences, but she has already served nearly three years and would get credit for time served as well as good behavior. Perry originally estimated Anthony could be freed in late July or early August, but Anthony's attorney Jose Baez told ABC News that she would be released July 13.  Late Thursday, Orange County Corrections released a statement saying that Anthony's projected release date had changed after a "detailed recalculation" to July 17.

Anthony entered the courtroom with her long hair down, as opposed to the tight ponytails she has been sporting throughout the trial. Visibly relaxed before the sentencing, Anthony chatted with her attorneys, laughed and even winked a few times. As the proceeding began, her demeanor became much more reserved and she looked downcast as the judge read the sentence.

Anthony will have to return to court again soon because the state of Florida has filed a motion to recoup some of the costs of investigating her case.

She also faces a defamation case. Anthony was served while in jail with a subpoena from the real Zenaida Gonzalez, a name Anthony used to describe a fictional nanny she claimed stole her child.

Anthony admitted in court that the kidnap story was a lie, and Gonzalez now wants that on the record for the libel case she has launched against Anthony.

"I want the truth to come out. I want them to know that I didn't do anything wrong," Gonzalez told ABC News Orlando affiliate WFTV.

There is a video deposition in the case scheduled for July 19.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lawyer Argues for Andrea Yates Release

BRET COOMER/AFP/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Ten years ago on Monday, Andrea Yates called 911 after drowning her five children in the family's bathtub and admitted to the first police officer to arrive at her Houston home, "I just killed my kids."

Now, Yates is being treated in a minimum-security mental hospital in Kerrville, Texas, from which her longtime lawyer, George Parnham, says he's "highly optimistic" she will be released after her recommitment hearing in November.

The first step is to secure the recommendation of her doctors. "I think that this year the doctors will recommend a regimen of therapy in a community-based outpatient facility," says Parnham.

Controversial as her case has been, Yates' attorney and friends argue her mental health is much improved after years of treatment and medication for postpartum psychosis and other conditions. Initially committed to the maximum-security North Texas State Hospital Vernon Campus, Yates was transferred to Kerrville in 2007.

"When this first happened, she was severely mentally ill and would experience extreme sickness at around this time each year," says Parnham.

But with therapy and treatments including anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medication such as Effexor, one friend who regularly visits Yates says, "She's come full circle and she's really well."

The highly publicized trials of Yates in 2002 and 2006 focused the nation's attention on postpartum psychosis and the nation's insanity laws. During her first trial, Yates' attorneys argued that she suffered from severe postpartum psychosis and delusion. She believed Satan was inside her, and that killing her children would save them from hell. Although she was initially found guilty, the appeals court later overturned the verdict.

In her second trial, Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity. At the time, defense lawyer Parnham described the verdict as "a watershed event in the treatment of mental illness."

After years of waiving the right to the hearing, Parnham plans to go before the court this year to argue that Yates is no longer dangerous to herself or others, and that her mental condition will not deteriorate if she is released. A judge or jury will eventually determine whether Yates meets these standards.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Released from Hospital

P.K. Weis/Giffords Campaign - P.K. Weis via Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was released from the TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital on Wednesday.  The Arizona congresswoman had been receiving treatment for a gunshot wound to the head after Jared Lee Loughner allegedly opened fire at a Jan. 8 event in Tucson, Ariz.

Giffords' physicians say her cognitive abilities and physical strength have improved satisfactorily and that "she no longer needs to remain a patient at the hospital."

"Congresswoman Giffords has shown clear, continuous movement from the moment she arrived at TIRR five months ago," Dr. Gerard Francisco said Wednesday.  "We are very excited that she has reached the next phase of her rehabilitation and can begin outpatient treatment.  We have no doubt that she will continue to make significant strides in her recovery."

Next, Giffords will move into a home in League City, Texas, with her husband, Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, where she will receive 24-hour assistance from a home health provider and will continue to work with the same rehab team on an outpatient basis.

Kelly said Wednesday that staying in the rehab facility has not been easy for his wife.

"Anyone who knows Gabby knows that she loves being outside.  Living and working in a rehab facility for five months has been especially challenging for her.  She will still go to TIRR each day but from now on, when she finishes rehab, she will be with her family."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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