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Entries in Trial (236)

Monday
Jun182012

Teen Burning Jurors Begin Deliberating in Florida

Hemera/Thinkstock(DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla.) -- Jurors began deliberating Monday in the trial of a Florida teen accused of planning the torching of his middle-school classmate after the prosecution urged them not to let him "get away with letting other people do his dirty work for him."

In her closing argument, prosecutor Maria Schneider told jurors Monday that Matthew Bent, 17, on trial for second-degree attempted murder, was trying to avoid responsibility when he offered money for the 2009 attack in which Michael Brewer was soaked with rubbing alcohol and then set on fire.

"Matthew Bent was the reason why this crime happened," Schneider said. "He was offering people money to beat Michael, not to scare Michael."

Bent faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

On Oct. 12, 2009, Bent and two other teens confronted Brewer, who was 15 at the time, near an apartment complex after their middle school let out in Deerfield Beach, Fla. One boy doused Brewer with rubbing alcohol and another flicked a lighter, setting Brewer ablaze.

Brewer survived the attack by jumping into a nearby pool, but not before second- and third-degree burns covered nearly two-thirds of his body.

Schneider stressed to the six-person jury the disputes between Bent and Brewer prior to the attack.

Brewer testified Thursday that Bent targeted him because he refused to buy drug paraphernalia from Bent. And the day before the attack, Brewer's parents reported Bent to the police for allegedly attempting to steal a family bicycle. Brewer said he stayed home from school on Oct. 12, fearing possible retaliation by Bent.

The bad blood between Brewer and Bent reveal revenge as a clear motive for Bent to plan the attack on Brewer, Schneider argued.

Denver Jarvis, 17, is serving eight years in prison and Jesus Mendez, 18, was sentenced to 11 years for their roles in the attack. Jarvis poured the rubbing alcohol on Brewer and Mendez flicked a lighter, setting Brewer ablaze.

Bent's attorneys rested their case Monday morning after informing the court that Bent would not testify in his own defense and without calling a single witness.

Defense attorney Perry Thurston called the allegation of Bent's offer a fabrication on Friday. The attack happened spontaneously after the boys chanced upon a jug of rubbing alcohol on the street, he said.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Johnny McCray said Bent "will have scars for the rest of his life" because of the trial, and argued that convicting an "innocent child" would not bring justice for Brewer.

"This is prosecution overkill," Thurston said.

Brewer has undergone extensive skin graft surgery and physical therapy since he was attacked. His mother Valerie Brewer testified that her son still requires therapy in order to keep his muscles flexible enough for routine functions.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Roger Clemens Emotional After Prosecutors Strike Out

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After a federal jury cleared him Monday of all counts, Roger Clemens, the legendary pitcher known for his toughness, broke down.

"For all you media guys that have followed my career, I put a lot of hard work into that career" Roger Clemens said as he wept on the courthouse steps surrounded by family.

Clemens, known as "The Rocket" and perhaps the most dominating Major League Baseball pitcher of his era, has been in a five-year fight to clear his name. He had become one of the primary symbols of what was wrong with baseball, accused of taking steroids and lying about it to Congress.

"Let me be clear. I have never taken steroids," Clemens said in a dramatic hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which called him to testify in February 2008.

The government spent four years investigating Clemens, dispatching 103 agents to 72 locations across the United States and around the world to prove that the former pitcher had committed perjury in denying his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Clemens was charged with two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements, and one count of obstructing Congress. On Monday, a jury acquitted him on all charges after a 10-week trial.

The case was largely built on the word of one man: Clemens' former trainer, who directly contradicted Clemens during that dramatic hearing before Congress in 2008.

"I injected Roger Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs," former New York Yankees trainer Brian McNamee told the House committee.

In end, the jury did not believe McNamee, whose credibility was severely damaged by the testimony of his estranged wife.

"She was able to persuade this jury that everything her estranged husband said was nothing but a lie," Lester Munson of ESPN said.

So the government struck out, and Clemens did something he had done many times before. He won.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

Jerry Sandusky Trial: Alleged Victim Says He Screamed for Help But No One Heard

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- The prosecution in the Jerry Sandusky trial finished presenting its witnesses Thursday with the most heart rending tale of sexual abuse leveled against the former Penn State football coach as a soft-spoken high school grad recalled screaming for help in Sandusky's basement, but getting no response.

The courtroom was once again brought to tears as the 18-year-old known as Victim 9 said that for four years Sandusky would come downstairs to the basement, drop his pants, and rape him and force him to perform oral sex.

Victim 9 said he weighed less than 70 pounds at the time and was helpless when Sandusky allegedly came for him.

"There was no fighting against it," he said. "Sometimes (I'd) scream, sometimes tell him to get off me, but other than that, who was there? We were in the basement, no one could hear you down there. We were always down there."

When asked to point out his alleged assailant, Victim 9 pointed at Sandusky without looking at him.

"Can you look at him?" the prosecutor asked. "I don't want to look at him," the witness replied.

Victim 9 was the eighth and final alleged victim to testify about being molested in the case against Sandusky, who is charged with 52 counts of child sex abuse. If convicted of the charges, Sandusky, 68, could be sentenced to life in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

Victim in Florida Teen Burning Takes the Stand

Comstock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Michael Brewer, who was nearly burned to death by his middle-school classmates in 2009, took the stand Thursday against the teen accused of planning the attack.

On the afternoon of Oct.12, 2009, Bent and two other teens, all 15 at the time, confronted Brewer near an apartment complex in Deerfield Beach, Fla. One boy doused Brewer with rubbing alcohol they found in a container on the street, then another set him ablaze with a lighter.

"I felt like I was going to die," Brewer testified Thursday afternoon, NBC 6 Miami reported.

More than two and a half years after the fire covered 65 percent of Brewer's body with second- and third-degree burns, he confronted the alleged ringleader of the attack,17-year-old Matthew Bent, in a trial that has captured national attention. Charged with attempted second-degree murder and facing 30 years in prison if convicted, Bent was angry at him, Brewer said, because he refused to buy drug paraphernalia from Bent.

"He tried to sell me a bowl that I didn't want,'' Brewer testified, explaining that a bowl can be used to smoke marijuana or tobacco, according to the Miami Herald.

Brewer's testimony contradicted his statement in a deposition that the source of his dispute with Bent was a $40 video game. Under cross-examination, Brewer admitted that his previous statement was a lie.

The attack came one day after Brewer's parents reported Bent to the police after Bent attempted to steal a family bicycle. Brewer had stayed home that day from Deerfield Beach Middle School, where all the boys attended, fearing possible retaliation by Bent.

While Bent played no physical role in the violence, prosecutors aim to convince the jury that Bent orchestrated the attack in a quest for revenge against Brewer.

Denver Jarvis, who is serving eight years in prison for pouring the rubbing alcohol on Brewer, testified Wednesday that Bent offered him $5 or $10 to "throw that on Michael," the Associated Press reported.

Jesus Mendez, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for flicking the lighter that ignited Brewer, is expected to testify Friday.

Brewer survived the attack by jumping into a nearby swimming pool, but his mother Valerie testified Tuesday that her son still requires physical therapy in order to keep his muscles suffciently flexible.

Listen to the 911 call placed after the attack here

Mendez and Denver Jarvis, who is serving eight years in prison for pouring the rubbing alcohol on Brewer, pleaded no contest in the incident and took plea bargains. In February, Bent rejected a plea offer limiting his imprisonment to 10 years, opting for a jury trial instead.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Jerry Sandusky Trial Hears Tales of Coerced Shower Sex

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- More than half of the boys allegedly sexually assaulted by former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky have now testified, and all have told of being shocked and shamed into silence by his aggressive attacks, and most have broken down crying while reliving them.

Wednesday afternoon, a man who is now 23 and identified as Victim 5 testified through tears of how Sandusky allegedly leered at him in a shower and insisted on soaping him up. The man, who was almost 11 at the time, said he tried to squirm away, but the former coach held him tight with his erect penis on the boy's back.

"I went to the far end of the shower and stood under the shower head and tried to face the wall as much as I could. I kept looking over my shoulder and I saw that (Sandusky) was standing a few feet away from me and I felt uncomfortable, I felt like he was looking at me. I noticed his penis was enlarged, but I didn't understand the significance of it back then," he said.

"I noticed he started coming in my direction. He threw some soap at me and started lathering my shoulders. I crept forward a little bit more, as did he, and I felt his body on my back, and I kept lurching forward, but I didn't have anywhere more to go. I felt his penis on my back. I felt his arm move forward, he touched my...my genitalia, he took my hand and placed it on his penis," the man said.

Finally, Victim 5 was able to run out of the shower and dry himself off, he said. Neither Sandusky nor the boy said another word that night, and they never spoke again, the man said.

The witness was the fifth alleged victim to testify. Three of them have cried. At times, members of the jury have also been seen wiping away tears. And three more alleged victims are expected to be called to the stand.

Victim 5's tearful account came just ahead of another graphic description of alleged shower sex by Sandusky, as prosecutors successfully won the right to have two janitors from the Penn State football building testify about an assault their coworker witnessed.

Janitor Ronald Petrosky took the stand and quoted coworker Jim Calhoun's words: "Buck, I just witnessed something in there I'll never forget the rest of my life. That man that just left, he had that boy against the shower wall licking on his privates."

Calhoun, an elderly part-time janitor in the Penn State football building at the time, now has dementia and could not testify about the incident. Petrosky and coworker Jay Witherite worked with Calhoun the night of the alleged incident and testified about it.

"I started walking over to (clean) the shower and just about went in when I saw two sets of legs. I saw one set of hairy legs and one set of skinny legs. I just dropped the hose and went out in hall, figured I'd wait until whoever was in there came out," Petrovsly said.

Petrosky said he waited outside in the hallway and saw Sandusky and a small boy exit the locker room, hair wet and carrying gym bags, and walk down the hall holding hands. When Petrosky went into the locker room, he encountered Calhoun.

"I could see he was upset, his face was white, his hands was trembling," Petrosky said. "I thought it was a medical condition. I said, 'Jim what's wrong?'"

Petrosky fetched Witherite, a more senior staffer, who again asked Calhoun to describe what he had seen.

"He talked to him about it, same story," Petrosky said. "He said he was sucking on his (penis), is what he said. We thought he was going to have a heart attack. We kept people with him all night to make sure he was alright. It was hard to concentrate after that."

The accounts of Witherite and Petrosky constitute the alleged assault against Victim 8 as described in the grand jury presentment, one of 10 alleged victims that the state attorney general's office used to arrest and charge Sandusky with 52 counts of sexual abuse. The attorney general's office have not been able to identify Victim 8.

The shower assaults echo the testimony of earlier accusers, who have said Sandusky would bear hug them naked in the Penn State showers, start soap fights in order to begin touching them, and then grope them and try and rape them.

The accounts also corroborate the testimony of witness Mike McQueary, a Penn State assistant football coach who says he saw Sandusky raping a boy in the showers in 2001.

Sandusky is charged with 52 counts of sex abuse stemming from 10 alleged victims. Sandusky, 68, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the charges.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

John Edwards Won't Be Retried on Campaign Finance Charges

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department has dropped its case against John Edwards and will not retry the former presidential candidate on charges that he used nearly $1 million in campaign funds to hide his mistress and love child during his 2008 bid for the White House.

Edwards last month was found "not guilty" on one count of violating campaign finance rules by a North Carolina jury. On five other counts the jury was deadlocked and a federal judge declared a mistrial, opening the door to another trial.

Today's announcement from federal prosecutors ended any prospect of another trial.

"The jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict on five of the six counts of the indictment, however, and we respect their judgment," Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement.

"In the interest of justice, we have decided not to retry Mr. Edwards on those counts."

Edwards' attorney Abbe Lowell hailed the department's decision to forgo a retrial.

"We are grateful that the Justice Department, after hearing from the jury, has dismissed the remaining charges in this case. As we stated in our motions and arguments in court, the novel theory of campaign law violations charged by the Justice Department is not a crime," Lowell said in a statement.

Edwards was accused of soliciting nearly $1 million from two wealthy donors from 2007 to 2008 and using that money to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter while running for president.

His defense team argued that the money was solicited by a rogue aide, Andrew Young, who pocketed most of the proceeds for himself and that the cover-up was intended only to keep the affair a secret from Edwards' wife Elizabeth and not to further his political career. Elizabeth Edwards was dying of cancer at the time.

The trial was packed with dramatic moments featuring Elizabeth Edwards' fury over the affair, her dying regrets as she spent her last days without her estranged husband, the sometimes odd behavior of Hunter, and the brazen behavior of Edwards as he clung to his national ambitions while scandal wrecked his family.

Jurors told Judge Catherine Eagles they were unable to reach a verdict. After being sent back to try to reach a unanimous verdict, the jury announced they were hopelessly deadlocked.

Jurors interviewed after the trial said the majority believed Edwards was innocent of the charges.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

Jerry Sandusky Witness Tells of Staring at Coach in the Showers with a Boy

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, a key prosecution witness in the trial of fellow football coach Jerry Sandusky, Tuesday yelled at a defense attorney when pressed about his claim that he saw Sandusky raping a young boy in the team's showers.

McQueary's confrontation with the defense lawyer came after he again described finding Sandusky and a boy locked in what he indicated was anal sex, and how he left after making a loud noise and looking at Sandusky, but not speaking to him.

The boy in the showers has never been identified, and McQueary's subsequent statements are at the heart of the university's dismissal of school president Graham Spanier and legendary football coach Joe Paterno, and criminal charges against two other school officials for not alerting police.

McQueary's testimony is a centerpiece of the state's case against Sandusky and is the first eyewitness account of molestation in the trial. McQueary's eventual statement to investigators, in addition to the alleged victims' own claims, led to Sandusky's arrest on 52 charges of child sex abuse.

McQueary followed to the stand a teenager being identified by ABC News only as Victim 1 whose wrenching story had jurors wiping tears from their eyes. Victim 1's story paralleled the story of Victim 4, who testified Monday that he was abused by Sandusky for years.

McQueary confidently gave the court a detailed description Tuesday of hearing "skin-on-skin slapping sounds" when he walked into the shower room of the Penn State football building on a Friday night in 2001 and seeing Sandusky pressed against a young boy in the shower.

He said he saw Sandusky and the boy, about 10 to 12 years old, in the shower with the boy pressed up against the shower wall and Sandusky behind with his arms wrapped around him "in closest proximity I think you can be."

McQueary said he stepped closer to look directly at the shower, instead of in the mirror, and that Sandusky and the boy separated and looked right at him. He then slammed his locker door shut loudly.

"We looked directly in each other's eye and at that time I left the locker room," McQueary said. "I made the loud noise in an attempt, I think, to say, OK, someone's here, break it up, please. Again I wasn't thinking quite 100-percent right. I'm used to pressure situations that was more than my brain could handle."

McQueary's statements about what he saw in the shower that night came under scrutiny after the prosecutor's office changed the date of the alleged event from 2002 to 2001, and McQueary's statements to his father, father's friend, and Penn State officials seemed to vary, according to grand jury testimony.

On cross-examination, Sandusky's defense attorney Karl Rominger questioned a tense McQueary about those inconsistencies.

McQueary said that although he described in "vague" terms to his father, his father's friend, and then his Penn State superiors what he saw, he was sure that they knew it was sexual.

McQueary, when pressed by Rominger, also said he "made sure Coach Joe knew it was sexual," referring to head coach Joe Paterno.

Rominger tried to show that McQueary had changed his story about what he saw to the people he told.

McQueary, raising his voice on the stand at Rominger, said that if his father's friend contradicted McQueary's account of events, he "would not call him a liar."

McQueary told the lawyer that Rominger was "playing semantics." When asked if he was sure Sandusky saw him in the locker room that night, McQueary said, "I'm a tall man," and "a big red-haired guy, most people see me wherever I go," causing laughter in the courtroom.

Rominger pressed McQueary for details about what he saw, confirming that McQueary never saw genitals or insertion, but McQueary said, "There's no way his genitals were not pressing up against the boy's rear end."

His testimony was the third major account of sexual abuse heard during the trial, and followed the halting, crying testimony of the man known as "Victim 1" Tuesday morning, the 18-year-old man who launched the sex abuse investigation into Sandusky.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

Jerry Sandusky Expected to Face Victim 1 in Sex Abuse Trial

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- A recent high school graduate who, as a freshman, made accusations of sexual abuse against Jerry Sandusky is expected to testify on Tuesday about how the former Penn State football coach molested him in his basement during sleepovers.

The young man known as Victim 1, who graduated high school earlier this month, prompted the three-year investigation into Sandusky after telling his mother in 2008 that he wanted to look up "ex weirdos" online because of Sandusky.  The then-freshman and his mother reported allegations of abuse to his high school, which notified authorities.  The prosecution might call school officials or investigators on Tuesday to support Victim 1's testimony.

The widespread investigation launched after Victim 1's report resulted in 52 charges of child sex abuse for Sandusky, stemming from the complaints of eight accusers and two eyewitness accounts.  Defense attorney Joseph Amendola said on Monday that Sandusky has always maintained his innocence, and that the alleged victims were likely lying for financial gain.

A wrestling coach at Victim 1's high school returned to a small, secluded wrestling room late one school night and found Sandusky and Victim 1 lying on the floor facing one another, according to the grand jury report.  Sandusky told the coach that they were working on wrestling moves, although Sandusky was not a wrestling coach.

Victim 1's testimony is expected to reiterate the pattern of abuse introduced by the man known as Victim 4 on Monday, who described Sandusky placing his hand on the boy's knee, rubbing his stomach and blowing on his stomach, and starting soap fights in the showers of the Penn State locker rooms after workouts that quickly turned into sexual assaults.

Sandusky, 68, showed little emotion during testimony Monday, shaking his head once when the accuser said that Sandusky offered him a walk-on spot on the Nittany Lions football team.

The prosecution is expected to call six more alleged victims to the stand during the trial, in addition to key witness Mike McQueary, who alleges that he saw Sandusky rape a boy in the football locker room showers.

Sandusky himself might take the stand in his own defense, according to statements made by Amendola during opening statements Monday.

"It was routine for people to get in the showers in Jerry's culture," Amendola said.  "He's going to tell you later, it was routine for individuals to take showers together."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

Victim 1 Cries on Stand in Penn State Sex Abuse Trial

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- The 18-year-old man who launched the sex abuse investigation into Jerry Sandusky wept on the stand Tuesday and brought some jurors to tears as he recalled the first time the former Penn State coach allegedly performed oral sex on him, when he was about 12 years old.

"After rubbing, cracking my back and rubbing his hands down back of my shorts, and the blowing on the stomach," he said, pausing to cry, "he put his mouth on my privates.  I spaced, I didn't know what to do.  With all the thoughts running through my head, I just kind of blacked out and didn't want it to happen.  I was froze."

The man, known as Victim 1, reported the alleged sexual abuse to his mother and his high school in 2008, launching a three-year investigation that led to 52 charges of child sex abuse against Sandusky.

The recent high school graduate was the second accuser to testify during the trial, which began Monday in Bellefonte, Pa., 10 miles from Penn State University.

He described meeting Sandusky through Sandusky's charity for underprivileged boys, the Second Mile, and spending time with Sandusky playing sports, doing activities and sleeping over his house.

Victim 1 described staying in Sandusky's basement bedroom, where a water bed and television were sequestered away from a pool table.  It was there that Sandusky began abusing him, he said.

Jury members placed their hands over their mouths or wiped tears away from their eyes as the man testified that Sandusky forced him to perform oral sex.

"lt was back cracking, rolling around in bed, back massages, hands down back of my shorts.  The same thing," he said, pausing to cry.  "Except this time he sat there and he looked at me and said something along the lines of, 'It's your turn,' and he made me, he made me put my mouth on his privates.  In the basement room."

Joseph Amendola, the defense attorney for Sandusky, tried during cross-examination to pick through the accuser's account of events, showing that he told investigators with Children and Youth Services and the state police different timelines for when the oral sex abuse began and ended, and showing that he didn't even mention oral sex to investigators until about eight months into the investigation, when troopers told him there were other young people with similar claims.

The back-and-forth between Amendola and Victim 1 became tense at times, as the accuser dismissed Amendola's suggestion that he was lying.

Victim 1 was adamant that staying at Sandusky's house affected his behavior.

"After I started staying with him it [my behavior] changed noticeably.  I acted out, I started wetting the bed, I got into fights with people, stuff I would never normally do," he said.

Sandusky also came to the boy's school frequently and pulled him out of class for conferences, he testified.

Once, Sandusky and the boy were working out in a wrestling room when Sandusky pulled the alleged victim off of a rock climbing wall and down onto him on a wrestling mat, where he began rolling around with the boy and blowing on his stomach.  Then, a coach walked in.

"Then the door opened and Joe Miller walked in on me.  I felt kind of like a relief that nothing was going to happen in the school," he said.

Amendola, however, went back over the incident with Victim 1, noting that in his grand jury testimony, Victim 1 said it was "hilarious" when he fell of the rock wall with Sandusky when they were climbing, and that he was "laughing hysterically."  Amendola reiterated that there had been no sexual contact during the incident.

Amendola also hinted that Victim 1 had discussed getting rich by bringing a civil suit against Sandusky, part of the defense strategy Amendola has described since the beginning of the case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun112012

Opening Statements to Begin in Jerry Sandusky's Trial

Patrick Smith/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Opening statements are set to begin Monday in the child sex abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.  The 68-year-old is charged with 52 counts of sexual abuse against 10 boys over a 15-year span.

Eight of the alleged victims are prepared to testify in the Bellefonte, Pa., courtroom, including a now 28-year-old man identified as "Victim 4" who is expected to be the first witness to take the stand.

His attorney, Ben Andreozzi, says his client has a very strong case.

"I honestly believe that the prosecution could put victim number four on the stand, rest the case and be done and Sandusky would be in jail for the rest of his life," says Andreozzi.

As former Pennsylvania prosecutor Kathleen Kane points out, quantity makes this case different from many other sex abuse cases and it's Sandusky's biggest problem.

"The volume of witnesses and their testimony taken as a whole and in repetition shows that Jerry Sandusky touched them in a sexual manner with the intent of it being sexual and it was not just an accident or a mistake," she says.

Love letters that Sandusky supposedly sent to the boys will be also offered as corroborating evidence.

But it will hardly be an open and shut case.

Sandusky's defense team is expected to attack the believability of each accuser and question the delay between the alleged molestation and when it was reported.  They say the alleged victims are lying and may have colluded to bring down a respected advocate for children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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