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Entries in Verdict (21)

Saturday
Jul132013

Zimmerman Jury Resumes Deliberation on Saturday Morning

Photo by Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The six female jurors resumed closed door discussions to determine George Zimmerman's fate at a courthouse in Sanford, Fla., on Saturday morning, deciding whether the neighborhood watch volunteer committed a crime when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin.

The jury deliberated for over three hours on Friday before they adjourned at about 6 p.m. Before they left for the evening, the jury requested a list of the evidence presented by both sides. They resumed deliberation promptly at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Zimmerman could be found guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter, or he could be acquitted.

The jury is expected to pause deliberations between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday so that the jurors can eat lunch on site.

Zimmerman, whose facial expressions have been emotionless during the trial, appeared to smile in court on Saturday as Judge Debra Nelson spoke to the jurors shortly before instructing them to resume deliberations.

Zimmerman, 29, maintains that he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense on Feb. 26, 2012. If convicted of the most serious charge he could be sentenced to life in prison.

His attorneys told ABC News that he is worried about the prospects about possibly spending the rest of his life behind bars or, if acquitted, a life in hiding. He has spent the last few days huddled with family as he awaits the verdict.

According to ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Analyst, Dan Abrams, the jury is likely to find Zimmerman guilty if they base their decision on emotion, whereas a verdict based on the "letter of the law" is more likely to result in an acquittal.

A verdict, which must be unanimous amongst the six female jurors, could be reached as early as Saturday afternoon.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul132013

Florida Police Prepare for Response to Zimmerman Verdict

Photo by Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- Police in South Florida are bracing for the verdict in the racially charged George Zimmerman murder trial, creating places for people to peacefully protest, monitoring social media and urging people to remain calm.

"It's a trying time for all of us. We're not sure what the verdict is going to bring but it's a great opportunity for evolution of the Sanford community," Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith said at a news conference Friday as the jury began its deliberations.

Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman, 29, maintains he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense, while the state argued that Zimmerman "profiled" Martin and concluded he was a criminal.

The case took on racial overtones after police declined to charge Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic. Martin was black.

Zimmerman was charged with murder nearly two months later by a special prosecutor appointed by the state.

Because of the tension over the case, the judge initially said she will delay the announcement of the jury's eventual verdict by two hours to give police ample time to prepare for security. It's not clear if that is still the plan.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin's family, told ABC News Friday that he did not expect violence.

"I certainly don't think Trayvon Martin supporters are going to be emotionally overcharged to act out in a way that's not responsible because they were very emotional when we were trying to get an arrest, and they were very peaceful, there was no violence," he said.

The jury could let Zimmerman walk free or convict him on second degree murder or manslaughter, charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life if convicted of the most serious charge.

Smith said the aftermath of the shooting had changed the "mindset, perception of what we see in our country today."

In Sanford, a town of 50,000 people, he said law enforcement has been knocking on doors, introducing themselves to people in order to foster better relations between police and the community.

In Miami-Dade County, where Martin lived with his mother, police have launched a campaign to encourage people to "be vocal, not violent" and have designated two parks where people can assemble peacefully to express their feelings.

A "rumor control" hotline, which is being staffed 24 hours a day, was launched in the county on Friday to address any problems that may arise after the verdict has been read. Authorities also said they are monitoring social media.

In Sarasota, Fla., at a news conference, Chief Bernadette DiPino encouraged people to react in a "civil and peaceful" manner to the verdict.

"When a verdict is read, not everyone is going to be happy," she said. "We are asking the public to take part in peaceful responses and speak with their mouths, not with their hands and not use weapons of any kind."

More than 25,000 people assembled peacefully in Sanford in March 2012 to protest after police initially refused to arrest Zimmerman.

"They wanted an investigation, they asked for an arrest, they asked for charges to be made and they asked for a trial. Each of those things has taken place," Smith said.

Now, he said, "there's nothing on the horizon for us other than to move forward."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar172013

Steubenville Football Players Guilty in Ohio Rape Trial

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(STEUBENVILLE, Ohio) -- Two Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl have been found delinquent by a judge -- the juvenile court equivalent of guilty.

The teens could serve prison time until they turn 21.

The verdict comes after a four-day trial that included tearful testimony from the accuser who said she was "embarrassed and scared" after hearing about the night she was allegedly sexually assaulted while intoxicated.

"I honestly did not know what to think because I didn't remember anything," she testified. The teen pieced together the night's events from Twitter, Instagram photos, a YouTube video, text messages and witnesses.

Prosecutors accused Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, of using their fingers to vaginally penetrate the girl at an alcohol-fueled party in Steubenville on the night of Aug. 11, 2012, as other teenagers watched. Mays was also accused of later sending text messages that included photographs of the girl with her clothing removed and charged with distributing nude images of a minor.

Brian Duncan, a lawyer representing Mays, told ABC News' "20/20" that what occurred that night was consensual.

"Trent Mays did not rape the young lady in question," Duncan said.

Richmond, in an exclusive interview recently with "20/20" anchor Elizabeth Vargas, said, "I didn't rape anybody. I didn't witness a rape going on.

"And if I would have thought that somebody was being raped or anything like that," he added, "I would have stopped it."

The case drew further attention when some outside the small Rust Belt town accused local officials of willfully protecting the football players, seen as hometown heroes.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec102012

DeeDee Moore Found Guilty in Murder of Florida Lottery Winner

Hemera/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- DeeDee Moore, the Tampa woman accused of swindling and then killing lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare, was found guilty today of first degree murder and other charges, after she declined to take the stand and the defense rested without calling a single witness.

In addition to the murder charge, Moore was also found guilty of possessing and discharging a firearm resulting in death. Prosecutors did not pursue the death penalty in the case, so Moore faces life in prison.

Prosecutors argued that Moore, 40, befriended Shakespeare before he vanished in April 2009 after he'd won $30 million in the Florida lottery. After Shakespeare had given away most of his money to people who simply asked for it, Moore agreed to manage the little he had left, but instead, prosecutors said, stole his winnings and killed him.

During a dramatic trial Moore has broken down in tears several times, and at one point said that she went into anaphylactic shock while in custody after taking the drug Bactrim when she was having problems with cuts on her ankles from being cuffed every day.

Early Monday the defense announced it would rest its case without calling any witnesses. Moore did not testify during her trial.

"There is no witness that can say she ever admitted to doing the killing or participating as a principle in helping anyone else do the killing," Moore's defense attorney Byron Hileman said Monday.

In the courtroom Monday morning, Moore's friend, former inmate Rose Condora was accused of threatening witnesses by Tampa Judge Emmett Battles, and was thrown out of the courtroom.

Authorities say Shakespeare, 47, was shot twice in the chest by a .38-caliber pistol sometime in April 2009. He wasn't reported missing until November 2009. His body was found under a slab of cement in a backyard in January 2010.

Polk County authorities claim Moore offered someone a $200,000 house in exchange for reporting a false sighting of Shakespeare. She also allegedly sent the victim's son $5,000 in cash for his birthday, and used the victim's cellphone to send text messages purportedly from him.

Shakespeare's mother, Elizabeth Walker, also testified that Moore tried to hide that her son was missing, and said that he had AIDS.

Sentorria Butler, Shakespeare's ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child, also testified. Butler told the court last week that Moore is a divisive and manipulative woman who told her Shakespeare, "ran off with the lady from the bank."

During the trial, jurors also watched a Walmart surveillance video that the prosecution said links Moore to Shakespeare's killing. The footage shows Moore making a $104 cash purchase of gloves, duct tape, plastic sheeting and other items detectives later found close to where Shakespeare's body was buried.

Jurors hearing the case also heard a rambling two-page letter that witness Greg Smith, a police informant who was a former friend of Shakespeare and supposed friend of Moore, says Moore allegedly forged while at a Comfort Inn & Suites in Lakeland, Fla.

The letter was meant to appear to be from Shakespeare, prosecutors said. They say the letter was a ruse to convince Shakespeare's mother that he was still alive. Moore attempted to cover her tracks while it was written, according to prosecutors.

During the trial, jurors had to be accompanied by a security escort into the courtroom after they told the judge Smith and Shakespeare's family and friends were making them feel uncomfortable outside the courthouse. None of the jurors had to be excused by the judge.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun232012

Jerry Sandusky Trial Did Not Include All of His Alleged Victims

Booking photo(NEW YORK) -- The fate of Jerry Sandusky ended with a guilty verdict Friday night in Bellefonte, Pa.

Following 20 hours of sequestered deliberations, the jury of seven women and five men read 45 "guilty" verdicts as Sandusky stood and looked at the jury. There were three not-guilty verdicts.

After court was adjourned, the former Penn State defensive coordinator was led in handcuffs to a police car to be taken to the local county jail. He faces a maximum sentence of 442 years and will be sentenced in approximately 90 days.

"The legal process has spoken and we have tremendous respect for the men who came forward to tell their stories publicly. No verdict can undo the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Sandusky, but we do hope this judgment helps the victims and their families along their path to healing," Penn State president Rodney Erickson said in a statement.

Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, said the defense plans to appeal the guilty verdicts, arguing it was not prepared to go to trial as soon as the judge ordered.

"The Sandusky family is very disappointed, obviously, by the verdict of the jury but we respect their verdict," he said. "We had a tidal wave of public opinion against Jerry Sandusky."

While Sandusky likely will be sentenced to life in prison, waiting in the wings of the sex abuse case are a group of men who say that they, too, were abused by the former Penn State football coach.

"Other victims have come forward after the grand jury presentment in this case, and we intend to continue to look into those matters," Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said.

The men said they would have testified in a new case if Sandusky was acquitted on Friday.

An attorney for two men who say they were abused by Sandusky told ABC News that "more than a few" new accusers were ready to testify.

"The state and federal authorities have investigated. He has not been charged, but he could be charged (with these crimes)," said attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who represents two new accusers. One of Anderson's clients, Travis Weaver, spoke publicly about the abuse for the first time this week.

"Travis came forward after the original eight, and since that time Travis is one of several to have come forward to report similar rape and abuse," the lawyer said.

Weaver and the other men came forward to police after Sandusky's arrest in November, but were left off the current case because of Sandusky's right to a speedy trial, Anderson said.

"He is not the only one, and I am working with and know of more than a few," Anderson said. "Time wouldn't allow (for them to be included)."

Weaver told NBC this week that Sandusky took him to the Penn State football locker rooms, where he showered with him, rubbed his back and blew on his stomach, acts that eventually progressed to oral sex and attempted rape. He filed a lawsuit against Penn State University and the Second Mile foundation, the charity that Sandusky helped create, last year.

Ben Andreozzi, an attorney representing the man known as Victim 4 in the current case, also represents two other accusers whom he said have spoken to authorities.

Weaver and the other alleged victim represented by Anderson have also informed federal investigators about their claims, as part of a federal investigation into whether Sandusky molested boys outside of Pennsylvania, which would rise to the level of a federal crime.

Weaver said in his lawsuit that he was molested outside of Pennsylvania while accompanying Sandusky on trips to bowl games with the Penn State football team.

In addition, Sandusky's adopted son Matt told prosecutors in recent days that he was also molested by the man who adopted him and is willing to testify against him. It's not clear whether he would press charges, however.

And an analysis of the timeline of the eight men who are involved in the current trial shows that Sandusky was allegedly involved with several boys for most of 15 years, but the indictment does not include any victims from February 2001 through 2003.

Experts say that there are two possibilities for that apparent gap: that Sandusky stopped molesting boys for a period of time, or, more likely, that there are more victims of Sandusky's abuse who have not come forward or been identified by police.

"My bet would be that there would be more victims out there," said John Seryak of the organization Stop Educator Sexual Abuse and Misconduct. "If he was still very active in his organization The Second Mile, his access to children would be immediate. He obviously is a super skilled predator. It would be surprising that he wouldn't act or spend that whole time grooming."

For Sandusky, this could have led to a hiatus in his behavior that then could have resumed around 2004, according to Ken Singer, a social worker who treats pedophiles and a past president of Male Survivor, a network for survivors of sexual abuse.

"I've worked with offenders who have recidivated after a number of years," Singer said. "It's not that the desires or the impulses are not there but the degree of control, which could be anything from a spouse keeping a good watch on him that keeps him from acting on impulse, it could be disgust with self and promises not to do this again, but then they hit a situation where they go back to other behavior."

Singer compared the behavior to that of an alcoholic.

"It's similar to an alcoholic that has been drinking for years then stops because of internal conditions, he's sick of drinking or whatever, finds sobriety, goes to AA, doesn't drink again for a number of years but then falls off the wagon and resumes his former lifestyle," Singer said.

While it is possible that Sandusky did stop for the years 2001 to 2004, Seryak said that it is unlikely. Pedophiles, he explained, can rarely control their impulses.

"If somebody was scared straight, he would want to disassociate from the organization," Seryak said. "That's not to say that when there was a report made in 2001 that it wasn't some sort of a wake-up call, but child molesters never really get wake up calls. There is strong evidence that they can't be rehabilitated."

"Make no mistake about it," he said. "These predators have a compulsiveness that's extraordinary, beyond what any of us could ever imagine."

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

Friday
Jun012012

John Edwards Jurors Explain Why Guilty Verdicts Weren’t Possible

Courtroom Sketch by Christine Cornell(NEW YORK) -- The jurors in the John Edwards trial spoke Friday morning for the first time about their nine days of deliberations that resulted in a not guilty verdict on only one count and a mistrial on the remaining counts.

One of the jurors, Theresa Fuller, told ABC News' Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos that she didn’t even think the case should have come to trial at all.  

“I felt like the evidence just wasn’t there.  It could have been more.  It could have been a lot more than what it was,” she said.

Despite the inability to reach a unanimous decision on most of the counts, the five jurors who appeared on GMA, including two alternates, were in good spirits about their experience in the highly dramatic case.

Jonathan Nunn, a juror and a maintenance specialist at the University of North Carolina, explained why he was unconvinced of Edwards' guilt in taking illegal campaign contributions in order to hide his pregnant girlfriend.

“In my opinion, it was personal gifts,” Nunn said.

Another juror, Sheila Lockwood, a telephone operator in a hospital, said she felt that because the money didn’t go to Edwards directly, she could not find him guilty.

“I just felt that he didn’t receive any of the money so you can’t really charge him for money that he got.  He didn’t even get the money so I just didn’t think he was guilty,” she said.

The 12 jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict and some stood their ground in opposition to Nunn and Lockwood.  Nunn says it occasionally grew tense in the jury room.

“There was a couple of times that it did but at the end of the day we were all just one big happy family and that’s the way we tried to keep it.  We tried to keep level-headed.  So at the end of the day everybody got along,” he said.

One of the strangest developments throughout the case were reports that one of the alternate jurors seemed to be flirting with Edwards.  That juror, Denise Speight, dismissed such assumptions with a laugh.

“I thought it was just the most funny thing I’ve ever heard.  Actually I was giggling over, I think, the media reaction when we walked into the courtroom over our outfits and color.  No intention of flirting with John Edwards and I don’t think he had any intentions of blushing or flirting back with me,” Speight, a pharmacist and mother, said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May312012

John Edwards Verdict: Not Guilty on 1 Count, Mistrial on 5 Counts

ABC News(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- A North Carolina jury found former Sen. John Edwards not guilty Thursday on one of six counts in a campaign-finance trial, and declared itself hopelessly deadlocked on the remaining charges, leading the judge to declare a mistrial on those counts.

Edwards, a two-time presidential candidate, accused of soliciting nearly $1 million from wealthy backers to finance a cover up of his illicit affair and illegitimate child during his 2008 bid for the White House, was found not guilty on count 3 of the six-part indictment. That count pertained only to whether Edwards illegally received several hundred thousand dollars in donations from wealthy heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to cover up the affair in 2008.

Following the verdict, Edwards, who remained silent throughout the trial, gave an emotional speech on the courthouse steps. He acknowledged his moral shortcomings and thanked his children, dramatically pausing when mentioning 4-year-old Frances Quinn, the baby he fathered with his mistress.

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Edwards was joined every day in the courtroom by his oldest daughter Cate, 30. He said he took care of his two other children, Emma, 14, and Jack, 12, seeing them off to school every day.

But when it came to acknowledging Quinn, the illegitimate daughter he had with a mistress, Rielle Hunter, he got choked up. "My precious Quinn," he said, "who I love more than any of you can ever imagine, [who] I am so close to, so, so grateful for."

Edwards said he did not believe he did anything "illegal" but acknowledged the affair he conducted while his wife, Elizabeth, was dying of cancer was "awful" and "wrong."

"No one else is responsible for my sins," he said. "I am responsible.

"If I want to find the person responsible for my sins, I don't have to go further than a mirror," he added. "It was me and me alone."

After nine days of deliberations, three times as long as the defense took to put on its case, the courtroom was thrown into confusion Thursday afternoon when it briefly appeared the jury had reached a verdict on all counts.

The jury informed the judge it had not reached a verdict and was charged again to go back to deliberating.

The other counts pertained to Mellon's donations in 2007, donations in 2007 and 2008 from another wealthy donor, Fred Baron, a conspiracy charge, and a charge of making false statements.

Less than an hour after the judge sent them back to deliberate, the jury returned and declared itself hung on those five outstanding counts.

It was not immediately clear whether the government would seek to retry Edwards on those counts.

The jury began deliberating on May 18 after a month of testimony.

The government spent three weeks building its case. Much of it hinged on the testimony of Andrew Young, once Edwards' most loyal aide, who testified he collected $725,000 from Mellon, who disguised her contributions as payments for antique furniture.

The prosecution detailed the way Edwards met Hunter and how he worked throughout his campaign to keep the affair and later his love child a secret. The government said Baron, another wealthy backer who was once Edwards' campaign treasurer contributed an additional $300,000 to move Hunter and her baby all over the country to keep them away from the media.

None of the principle witnesses in the case were ever called to testify. Baron died of cancer in 2008. Mellon is 101-years-old. And neither Hunter, not Edwards himself, ever took the stand.

In just three days of defense testimony, Edwards' lawyers tried to portray Young as the mastermind of a plot to use Edwards' scandal to request funds for his own personal use. Any lies Edwards told, his lawyers said, were in an effort to keep the affair a secret from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer, and not to advance his political career.

The panel of eight men and four women spent nine days and more than 50 hours deliberating, breaking only for lunch or when the judge ordered closed-door sessions to discuss issues with them. The jurors themselves captured headlines in recent days, when four alternate jurors began wearing color-coordinated outfits.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May042012

Amy Senser Found Guilty in Fatal Hit-and-Run Case

Hemera/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Amy Senser, the wife of former NFL star Joe Senser, was found guilty Thursday of two of three felony counts related to criminal vehicular homicide.

Senser was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident and failure to promptly report an accident, but was acquitted on the third felony charge of gross negligence. She was also convicted of misdemeanor careless driving.

The 45-year-old showed little emotion as the verdicts were read. She stared straight ahead. Jurors looked tense at the conclusion of the highly publicized trial in Hennepin County District Court, in Minnesota.

Anousone Phanthavong, a restaurant cook, was fatally struck by Amy Senser's sport utility vehicle as he refueled his stalled car on an Interstate 94 ramp in Minneapolis.

Senser is to remain free until sentencing on July 9. Each felony count was punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but sentencing guidelines suggested four years for each count. The misdemeanor carried a potential sentence of up to 90 days in jail.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar162012

Rutgers Trial Jury Reaches Verdict

ABC NewsUPDATE: A New Jersey jury on Friday found former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi guilty on all counts for using a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, having a gay sexual encounter in 2010.

Ravi, 20, was convicted of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest, stemming from his role in activating the webcam to peek at Clementi's date with a man in the dorm room on Sept. 19, 2010. Ravi was also convicted of encouraging others to spy during a second date, on Sept. 21, 2010, and intimidating Clementi for being gay.

Ravi was found not guilty of some subparts of the 15 counts of bias intimidation, attempted invasion of privacy, and attempted bias intimidation, but needed only to be found guilty of one part of each count to be convicted.

The convictions carry a possible sentence of five to 10 years in prison. Because Ravi is a citizen of India, and is in the US on a green card, he could be deported following his sentencing. The US deports most criminals convicted of felonies, with the exception of thefts of amounts under $10,000.

(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- A verdict has been reached in the case of accused Rutgers student Dharun Ravi, accused of spying on his college roommate Tyler Clementi with a webcam during a gay sexual encounter.

Ravi, 20, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges stemming from his alleged use of a webcam to peek at Clementi kissing another man on Sept. 19, 2010.  Prosecutors have alleged that Ravi then encouraged friends and other students to activate the webcam during another date, on Sept. 21, 2010.

Ravi, a citizen of India who was raised in New Jersey, is charged with invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest.  He faces the possibility of deportation if convicted of a serious crime.

Clementi's case gained national attention when he committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010.  Ravi is not charged in connection with Clementi's death.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio