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Monday
Aug152011

Casey Anthony to Appeal Probation Order

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony's legal team said Monday that they will appeal a judge's ruling that she begin serving a year-long probation later this month that would force the Florida woman out of hiding.

Anthony, 25, has gone underground since she was released from jail last month following her acquittal on charges she murdered her daughter Caylee.

Judge Belvin Perry ruled earlier this month that Anthony must report to a probation officer in Orlando on Aug. 26. The probation is for her conviction of charges of stealing checks from her best friend Amy Huizenga during the period that Caylee was missing.

The Florida probation department allowed Anthony to serve the probation on the check charge while she was in jail awaiting her murder trial, but Judge Stan Strickland, who presided over the check case, said that was a mistake. Strickland issued an order that Anthony return to Florida for a year-long probation.

Judge Perry eventually took over the case and ruled that Strickland's original sentence was clear and that Anthony would have to return to Florida for probation. Perry also scolded Anthony's legal team for realizing the Probation Department was making a mistake and allowing the error to proceed.

Anthony's legal team did not have a response immediately after Perry's ruling, but Monday told ABC News that they will appeal.

In court papers filed previously, they have argued that Anthony complied with the probation requirement and that forcing her to serve it now would put her in danger since she has received death threats following her acquittal.

Anthony's lead attorney Jose Baez also asked the judge that if she is ordered to comply with the probation demand, that she be allowed to serve it outside of Florida.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Woman Accused of Assaulting Son for Having Facebook Page

Florida police say Althea Ricketts, 62, beat her son with a computer cable for being on Facebook. (Orange County Jail)(APOPKA, Fla.) -- A Florida woman, told that her teenage son had posted a message on Facebook suggesting he might harm himself, allegedly beat him with a computer cable because he wasn't supposed to be on Facebook in the first place, police said.

The woman, 62-year-old Althea Ricketts of Apopka, Fla., was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse. The name and age of her son were not made public.

Officer Josean Velez, who handled the case, said Ricketts volunteered that she had hit her son.

"Althea stated to me that hitting a child with a cable is a common way of disciplining kids where she comes from," Velez said.

According to police, an acquaintance called Ricketts Friday night to tell her about an upsetting post on her son's Facebook page. Police say Ricketts called back, said she had hit her son and that he had run off.

The police report, provided to ABC News, said the boy had updated his Facebook status Friday night to say, "I broke a glass on purpose and kept a piece to play with it later." A neighbor said the boy had a history of cutting himself, and called his mother after receiving a text message from a church friend about his Facebook status.

The neighbor said Ricketts hit her son with a computer cable, raising red welts on his arms, according to the police report. Police were called after the boy ran to a friend's house and said he was afraid he would be hit again if he went home.

Another neighbor, according to police, quoted Ricketts as saying the boy "deserved everything he got for lying to her." The neighbor answered, "There are ways to discipline a child without bruising them up," according to the police report.

A call to the Ricketts' home was not answered. Ricketts was released without bond Sunday from the Orange County Jail. Pending trial, she was ordered not to have contact with her son.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Twin Boy's $50K Hockey Shot in Jeopardy

Twins Nate and Nick Smith of Owatonna, Minn. (Pat Smith)(FARIBAULT, Minn.) -- Nate Smith made all the sports highlight reels and won $50,000 for making an impossible hockey shot in a charity fundraiser. But the 11-year-old hockey fan now stands to lose the bonanza because of his father's honesty.

Nate was posing as his twin brother Nick when he made the shot.

"I just felt I had to do the right thing," dad Pat Smith told ABC News on Monday. "I just think that honesty is more important than any prize or money you could get."

Nate made his shot at a celebrity fundraiser hockey game in Faribault, Minn., last Thursday. He took aim from the center ice and fired the puck 89 feet straight into a goal that measured a mere three and a half inches. The puck is three inches wide.

It happened during the annual "Shattuck vs. the World" game attracts Shattuck-St. Mary's alumni who play in the NHL and raises money for the Faribault Youth Hockey Association.

Pat Smith, the twins' father, purchased three raffle tickets at the Shattuck – St. Mary's school hockey game for a chance for one of his kids to make an unforgettable shot across the ice and win $50,000.

"We thought we'd go to the fundraiser and support those guys, nothing else. So I went over to purchase a few tickets with Nate, who was with me," Pat Smith said.

When asked by his dad if he should put Nate's name on the tickets, Nate declined, saying with a cast on his arm recently removed, Nick had a better chance of scoring a winning goal.

The family didn't expect that Nick's ticket would be drawn, so Nick headed outside shortly before halftime. Nevertheless, he told Nate to take the money shot if his raffle ticket was drawn.

Nate took to the ice in his twin brother's place and in a play which had the entire arena on its feet, effortlessly swung his hockey stick to hit the goal in the $50,000 shot. "I was shocked . . . I couldn't believe it," said Nate.

However, the boys may never see the check.

"After he made the shot, we had to sign some documents and stuff, and I thought oh boy, we don't want to mess that up," Pat Smith said. "I didn't have time to really think it through and I said yeah, it was Nick's shot."

"The next day we felt so badly, I called into the organizers, we told them that Nate made the shot. We did the right thing," the dad said.

The insurance carrier for the event, Odds on Promotions, has not indicated whether it will accept Nate making a shot in Nick's name. The company did not return calls to ABC News on Monday.

The twins are hoping to get another stroke of good luck and said if they receive the prize, they will save the money for college and donate funds to their local hockey association.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Countdown to 9/11: Ten Years Ago Today (August 15, 2001)

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ten years ago this month, America was more concerned about summer vacation than terror attacks. The big movie at the mall was American Pie II, which had just taken over the box office lead from Rush Hour II, and Beyonce was thinking about ditching her band for a solo career.

The big stories in the news were about shark attacks, wildfires and a missing Congressional intern named Chandra Levy. A teenage baseball player became a hero, and then a villain, after he pitched a perfect game at the Little League World Series. There were also inklings that something might be amiss at an energy company called Enron. By the summer of 2001, Americans had become all too familiar with "hanging chads," but few had ever heard of al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden.

While the nation drifted through the dog days, however, a group of terrorists was in the final stages of planning a series of attacks that would kill 3,000 people on September 11. Much of the federal government seemed to have been in a summer daze as well, missing the warning signs of what would become the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil. While some in the intelligence community raised red flags, the White House had only vague information about an impending attack, hamstrung by the fact that the CIA was failing to share information with the FBI about the terrorists' travels.

ABC News is detailing what America was doing and what the hijackers were doing, day-by-day, in August and September 2001. Here's what was happening ten years ago, August 15, 2001 -- 27 days before 9/11:

  • FBI agents initiate an "intelligence investigation" into Zacarias Moussaoui after flight school instructors report concerns that he might be a terrorist.
  • 'We Are Going To Be Struck Soon:'  CIA counter-terrorism chief Cofer Black tells a Defense Department convention, "We are going to be struck soon, many Americans are going to die, and it could be in the U.S."
  • Future hijack pilot Marwan al-Shehhi purchases a one-week gym membership in Lantana, Florida. He and most of the other hijackers-in-training carry out physical fitness routines.
  • In the News:  The Pentagon announces that U.S. warplanes have bombed a radar site in Iraq in an attempt to disable the nation's increasingly effective air defenses, the second such attack in a week.


Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Aruba Orders Suspect Gary Giordano Held in Robyn Gardner Case

Handout Photo(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- An Aruba judge ordered Gary Giordano, the sole suspect in the disappearance of Maryland woman Robyn Gardner, to remain in Aruba for 16 more days.

Giordano is being held in the possible drowning of 35-year-old Gardner, who is now presumed dead. Giordano told police that he and Gardner were snorkeling together when Gardner was swept out to sea, but police arrested him following inconsistencies in his story, according to Aruba authorities.

Giordano left the hearing with a shirt over his head as he was put into a police van and driven back to prison.

Gardner's family applauded the judge's ruling.

"We are confident in the decision made by the Aruban authorities to keep Gary Giordano in custody," the family said in a statement released through a spokesman.

"We are still hoping to find out what has happened to our daughter, as we have not given up hope that she may still be alive. ...We just want to find our daughter, and we continue to ask the public for any tips they may have in helping our Robyn come home," the statement said.

In a hearing that lasted three hours, prosecutors convinced a judge that Giordano's history of domestic violence allegations and the inconsistencies in the story he told police about what happened to Gardner were suspicious enough to warrant further detention in the country.

Giordano's attorney, Michael Lopez, had said prior to the hearing that he hoped a lack of evidence against his client would convince the judge let Giordano be released from jail.

Now, Aruba police will have more than two weeks to mount a case against Giordano, based on evidence collected from witnesses, surveillance video, personal cell phones and laptops, and other information collected by police and the FBI, who are helping with the investigation.

Police are asking members of the public that may have information about Gardner's disappearance to call 011-297-582-0695 and leave their tip and contact information.  The Natalee Holloway Resource Center, which is also helping with the case, has set up an American tip line at 407-237-2295.

Prosecutors will again have to go before a judge at the end of the 16 days to seek further detention or file formal charges.

If the judge orders Giordano detained again, prosecutors will have another eight days to mount evidence against him, but the burden of proof to keep him in the country becomes significantly more difficult after that, police said.

The judge will have to decide next Tuesday whether to prolong Giordano's incarceration and at that point could order him held for another eight days. Aruba law would allow Giordano to be held a maximum of 68 days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Aruba Suspect in Court in Robyn Gardner Disappearance

Handout Photo(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- The sole suspect in the disappearance of Robyn Gardner could be set free Monday if Aruban authorities cannot convince a judge that his troubling past with women is enough evidence to keep him there as a suspect.

Gary Giordano, 50, of Maryland, reported Gardner, 35, of Maryland, missing more than 10 days ago, claiming she was swept out to sea while they were snorkeling together. Police said they arrested Giordano due to inconsistencies in his statements.

Prosecutors Monday will focus on a history of domestic violence allegations and restraining orders to keep Giordano in Aruba for another eight days as they build their case against him. Gardner is now presumed dead, they said.

Two women were granted restraining orders against Giordano, and court documents obtained by ABC News show allegations of a violent assault by an ex-girlfriend.

In recent days, police searched an abandoned phosphate mine not far from where Giordano says Gardner was swept out to sea, but found only a pink shirt and black sandals that don't belong to the missing woman.

Still, investigators have not said they have a motive, a weapon, or a body to help prove their case.

Beth Holloway, the mother of Natalee, has offered help to the efforts to find Gardner through the foundation she started, the Natalee Holloway Resource Center, in Washington, D.C. The foundation has been working with Robert Forester, Gardner's live-in boyfriend in Maryland, along with the Gardner family to get the word out about the appearance.

The center has set up a phone tip line for the public to alert authorities to any knowledge they may have connected to Gardner's disappearance: 407-237-2295.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Details Emerge on Indiana Stage Collapse Victims

Joey Foley/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Snapshots of the victims of the stage collapse that killed five people in Indianapolis over the weekend are emerging while many of the at least 40 injured people are fighting for their lives in hospitals.

The nightmarish scene took place Saturday night at the Indiana State Fair, when winds of up to 70 mph blew down thousands of pounds of steel scaffolding, wooden beams, lighting, sound and other equipment of an outdoor stage down as 12,000 people waited for a Sugarland concert.

The five victims of the accident include: 42-year-old Tammy Vandham of Wanatah, Indiana; Glen Goodrich, a 49-year-old father of two from Indianapolis; and Nathan Bird, a 51-year-old stagehand who has on top of the rigging when it fell.  On Sunday night, vigils were held for 29-year-old Christina Santiago of Chicago and Alina Bigjohny of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who was 23.

Others still fighting for their lives include a 5th grader identified simply as "Jade."  The girl's family issued a statement "to thank those who have been praying for her and ask them to continue praying."

The state fair will be open again on Monday for the first time since the incident, with Gov. Mitch Daniel attending a memorial service to remember the five that died.  The service will take place on the fairgrounds Monday morning.

Indiana State Police have said that the number of those injured could rise, given that some might have been transported privately for emergency care, rather than in ambulances ordered by rescue workers.

Gov. Daniels said the wind gust was a "fluke" that no one could have anticipated.  Rain had been in the forecast, but not the sudden high winds that damaged the stage.

"It's not clear to me at this stage how anyone could have foreseen a sudden, highly localized blast of wind in one place," Daniels said.  "The weather service is very good.  They were in constant contact, repeated contact with the folks here at the fairgrounds, and they were right about the arrival of the storm.  It came 15 or 20 minutes after the tragedy."

"In Indiana the weather can change from one report to another report and that was the case here," State Police Sgt. Dave Bursten said.

But some of the people who were there said they aren't so sure.

"There should have been warning the storm was coming," one witness said.  "You could tell the sky was getting really dark off to the left."

The crowd had been warned that thunderstorms were approaching and that they might have to evacuate.  But the same announcer said concert organizers hoped the show would go on, so many stayed put.

Two minutes later, just before 9 p.m., it was too late.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Did the 'Bad Hair Bandit' Strike Again in Missouri?

FBI(BUTTE, Mo.) -- A woman known as the "bad hair bandit" -- for the assortment of ill-fitting wigs she's worn while robbing at least 18 banks since December 2010 -- may have struck again, authorities say.

After a spree that had apparently been confined to Washington and Oregon, the FBI is investigating whether the same bandit robbed a bank in Montana last week.

On Thursday, an unidentified woman wearing a short, dark-haired wig walked into the Bank of Butte in Butte, Missouri, passed a note to the teller, and walked out with over $1,000 in cash.

Butte-Silver Bow County Sheriff John Walsh told The Montana Standard that the FBI is now investigating whether the Butte robber was the infamous "bad hair bandit."

"I couldn't confirm she [the bad hair bandit] is involved, but it certainly has potential," Walsh told the newspaper.

Witnesses described the woman at the Butte robbery as a 40-year-old white female, about 5 foot 8 to 5 foot 10 inches tall and with a heavy build.

According to the FBI website, the woman typically enters the bank and passes a note to a teller in which she demands cash and states that she is armed.  She tends to wear a zippered hoodie, eyeglasses, a baseball cap, and some type of wig, and appears to flee by car, which the bureau describes as possibly a newer silver or gold sedan similar to a Honda Accord.  Seattle police told ABC News that they believe she may not be from the region.

"There is a strong probability she may be from out of the area which is why no one has recognized her … she needs to turn herself in," a Seattle police spokesperson said.

The "bad hair bandit" earned her nickname for the arsenal of odd wigs that she has used in her spree.  She wore a curly blonde wig while robbing a bank in January, and a month later sported a wavy red weave while robbing another.  In July, she hid her blonde locks under a black baseball cap.

A few weeks later, she was back to what might be considered her signature look -- which is strikingly similar to the look of the woman who robbed the Bank of Butte last week -- a short brown bob with glasses.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Runaway Blimp Lands in Ohio Woman's Yard

Kim Steele/Photodisc/Thinkstock (file photo)(WORTHINGTON, Ohio) -- For about seven hours Sunday morning, an unmanned Hangar 1 Vodka promotional blimp was AWOL from Don Scott Airfield in Columbus, Ohio.

The incident required the notification of Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration.

It's believed that strong winds from a storm ripped the blimp from its moorings, sending it skyward.

Despite of the size of the Spector 19, Model A-60+ -- 128 feet from tip to tip -- no one was able to locate the missing aircraft, even with Ohio State University police officers and the Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers on the case.

Ultimately, the deflated blimp was found by a 94-year-old woman who looked out her window to see it draped across the backyard of her residential Worthington neighborhood home, only about two miles from where it broke free.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug142011

Police Find Kidnapped Girl, Father Dead in SUV 

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Officials in El Dorado County discovered the bodies of a 2-year-old girl and her father who allegedly abducted her.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a statewide Amber Alert was issued after Madeline Samaan-Fay was reportedly kidnapped by her father, Mourad Samaan.

The bodies were found inside Samaan's SUV on Saturday evening.

Madeline was abducted Aug. 7, though an Amber Alert was not issued until Friday

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