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Thursday
Jun302011

Police, FBI Search for Michigan Infant Believed to Be Kidnapped by Father

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LUDINGTON, Mich.) -- An intense search is underway in Michigan for Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips, a baby girl missing since Wednesday afternoon.

Sean Phillips, 21, the four-and-a-half-month-old's father, is suspected of kidnapping his daughter.

"He did not say where she was, and he did not say he knew where she was," Mason County prosecutor Paul Spaniola said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Phillips, a National Guardsman, was set to deploy to Afghanistan but instead faces a kidnapping charge at home and is being held on a $500,000 bond. If convicted of kidnapping, he would face a potential penalty of life in prison.

Katherine's mother, Ariel Courtland, 19, identified Phillips as the alleged kidnapper. The couple also has an older child.

Courtland and Phillips had run an errand near their home in Ludington, Mich., about 80 miles west of Grand Rapids, Mich., police said. They evidently got into an argument and Phillips allegedly took off with the child.

"Baby Kate," as her mother calls her, is teething. She has no hair, blue eyes and was dressed in a white one-piece outfit with black polka dots and black and pink flowers.

Courtland said she never suspected Phillips would hurt their daughter and does not think he would leave the child with someone else. "I think, if anything, he just left her somewhere," she said.

Now that he's been arrested, she said she feared he would keep the baby's location a secret.

Phillips was arrested at his parents' home late Wednesday afternoon, but police found no trace of baby Katherine.

Officials are operating under the assumption Katherine will be found alive, Ludington Police Chief Mark Barnett said, but time is of the essence.

Police believe Phillips may have taken his daughter to a local Wendy's restaurant sometime between 1 and 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. They are looking for anyone who may have seen one or both of them there.

Authorities have issued an Amber Alert for the baby. Police are urging anyone with information to call (231) 869 5858 or to leave anonymous tips on their Silent Observer Hotline, 888-786-7274, or on the website www.lsotip.com.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Analysis: Did Casey Anthony's Lawyers Save Her from Death Penalty?

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony's defense team rested its case Thursday after trying with mixed success to implicate her father and meter reader Roy Kronk in disposing of the body of Caylee Anthony, two men who are at the center of their strategy to save Casey Anthony from a death sentence.

Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with killing her two-year-old daughter Caylee, and conviction could result in her execution.

The most debated tactic of her defense team was to keep her off the stand.

"The jury will be given very specific instructions, you cannot hold it against her that she's not testifying," said ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams. "But I am certain these jurors are going to be thinking, 'Why didn't she testify?'"

In his opening statement, defense lawyer Jose Baez laid out a strategy that began with the bombshell claims that Caylee drowned in the family pool, that her body was found by her grandfather George Anthony, who then helped dispose of the body.

Casey Anthony lied for months about her daughter's death because she was "trained to lie" through years of sexual abuse by her father and brother, Baez stated.

Baez may have succeeded in raising doubts about George Anthony's integrity by having Krystal Holloway testify on the last day of the defense. Holloway claimed to have had a year-long affair with George Anthony and told the court that while people were still searching for Caylee, George Anthony confided to her that "it was an accident that snowballed out of control," indicating that he knew Caylee was already dead.

George Anthony laughed at the suggestion that he had an affair with Holloway or that he hid Caylee's body. While her testimony may have raised doubts about the general truthfulness of George Anthony, it did not address the specific claim that he buried Caylee's body.

The defense also did not succeed in establishing its claim that George Anthony molested his daughter. The issue was barely raised in the trial and when it was, George Anthony sharply denied it.

"There is not an iota of evidence that he took the body or that he abused his daughter," Abrams said.

However, there is no DNA evidence linking Casey Anthony to Caylee's remains, and the cause of death is "homicide by undetermined means." The defense claims that without knowing the exact way in which Caylee died, there's no proof that Caylee was murdered. They claim her death resulted from an accidental drowning.

"The strongest argument is that there's almost no proof that this was a murder as opposed to an accident," Abrams said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Despite Cash Stash, Bulger Gets Paid Defense

WCVB-TV BOSTON(BOSTON) -- Notorious fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger, captured last week as authorities seized $822,000 cash hidden in the walls of his rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., has been assigned taxpayer-financed lawyers to defend himself against 19 murder charges.

After Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler in Boston ruled that the alleged former South Boston mob boss is entitled to taxpayer-funded counsel, attorneys J.W. Carney and his law partner, Janice Bassil, were appointed to represent Bulger, 81, who eluded capture as a fugitive for 16 years.

"I find at this time that the defendant is unable to retain counsel," Bowler said, adding there will be a review down the road to determine if Bulger should repay those attorney fees.

Bowler's ruling came after U.S. District Chief Judge Mark Wolf ruled that the 1994 indictment on racketeering charges against the alleged former South Boston mob boss can be dismissed as the government requested, allowing federal law enforcement to focus its case against Bulger on 19 murder charges.

"It is in the public interest that this case be dismissed," Wolf said.

The issue of just who was going to represent Bulger and how the lawyers were going to be paid sparked outrage among Bulger's victims. Bulger himself taunted Judge Bowler last week when he said he could fund his own defense if the feds just gave back his $822,000.

However, legal observers, including Boston defense attorney Anthony Cardinale, said Bowler's ruling made sense.

"He has said he doesn't have enough money to pay for a lawyer," Cardinale told ABCNews.com. "It's as simple as that. And this is the kind of case that requires a lawyer with very specific qualifications and abilities and manpower....The guy deserves the best defense that can be given to him, even though he is a monster. Now, if his financial statement later turns out to be false and he does have money hidden around, well, then he could be charged with perjury. But that's the least of his problems."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Ex-IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Back to Court Friday

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been under restrictive house arrest in Manhattan and his attorneys tell ABC News Radio that they plan to ask a judge to remove some of the conditions of his bail.  

Strauss-Kahn wasn't due back in court until the middle of July, but to make such a request, defense attorneys would likely have to present compelling new evidence.  

Now ABC News has learned that sudden holes emerged Thursday night in Strauss-Kahn's case. He has been accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York. Law enforcement officials reveal that his accuser has been linked to an imprisoned alleged drug dealer and a discussion about profiting from the charges.

Previously, Strauss-Kahn's attorneys said they had uncovered information that would "gravely undermine the credibility" of his accuser.

Strauss-Kahn is set to attend a bail hearing Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

CIA Cleared in All But Two Interrogation Investigations

Danita Delimont/Gallo Images/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday it is closing all of its investigations into the Central Intelligence Agency's controversial enhanced interrogation program without further legal action, except in the case of two incidents in which detainees perished.

The investigations by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham into the alleged mistreatment of detainees by the CIA, which covered the experiences of more than 100 detainees, concluded that, not including the two fatal cases, "an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press release. Beyond finding that the CIA officers acted "in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance" given them, in some instances Durham found the detainees were never in CIA custody at all.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said had been informed of the department's findings and he "welcomed" the news.

"We are now finally about to close this chapter of our Agency's history," he said. "As Director, I have always believed that our primary responsibility is not to the past, but to the present and future threats to the nation."

Panetta, who is on his last day as the spy chief before heading to his new job as the Secretary of Defense, said the agency will "of course" continue to cooperate in the two cases of detainee death that Holder said required further investigation. Earlier this month, Time magazine reported Durham had begun calling witnesses before a secret federal grand jury concerning his investigation into the 2003 death of Iraqi prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi, known as "the Iceman."

The inquiry into the CIA's interrogation program initially grew out of a 2008 probe into whether the CIA had purposefully destroyed nearly 100 interrogation tapes. The tapes purportedly show CIA agents using harsh interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, on terror suspects. No charges were filed at the conclusion of that investigation.

The use of such enhanced interrogation techniques and the ensuing scandal created such tension between the White House and the CIA that at one point in a heated argument in 2009, Panetta reportedly threatened to quit his post. More recently, controversy surrounding the technique reemerged after several former officials said that it was key to gaining the intelligence that led to the successful operation against al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden -- a claim vehemently disputed by others, including Sen. John McCain, who was himself a torture victim during the Vietnam War.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Gen. David Petraeus Confirmed as CIA Director

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate has unanimously confirmed Gen. David Petraeus as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The 94-0 vote was called by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT.

Petraeus will replace Leon Panetta, who is leaving the CIA in July to be the next Secretary of Defense.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Massachusetts Woman Dead in Public Pool for Two Days

File photo. (JupiterImages/Photos.com)(FALL RIVER, Mass.) -- The body of a Massachusetts woman went unnoticed for two days in a Fall River public swimming pool, which remained open to the public and was even visited by health inspectors, generating outrage and calls for an investigation.

Marie Joseph, 36, was found Tuesday evening by a passerby, two days after she experienced an apparent accident on the water slide at the 12-foot-deep, state-run Vietnam Veterans Swimming Pool, officials said.

Police said Joseph took her neighbor's son, 9, to the pool Sunday afternoon.

"Marie unexpectedly slid down the slide, landing on top of him," Fall River Police Chief Daniel Racine said Wednesday. He further stated he believed Marie went under the water and did not surface.

Police said the boy notified lifeguards immediately after the incident, around 2 p.m. Sunday, but no action was taken.

William Flanagan, mayor of Fall River, called Joseph's death "tragic" and said he was demanding an investigation.

"It has come to my attention that health inspectors from the city visited the pool on Monday and Tuesday and inspected the facilities. I have immediately placed those inspectors on administrative leave," he said, adding that the city plans to offer assistance to the state Department of Recreation and Conservation, which manages the pools and is conducting the investigation.

A photographer for the Herald News visited the pool Tuesday before Joseph's body was discovered and took a photograph of the crowded pool, which only recently opened for the summer.

Police said it was unclear how many people, if any, had seen Joseph's body in the pool before it was recovered late Tuesday evening. Her body is being autopsied to determine cause of death.

All 30 of Massachusetts' deep-water pools will be closed until further notice.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Casey Anthony Won't Testify, Defense Rests

Orange County Government, Florida(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony stood Thursday and told the judge and jury in her first degree murder trial that she will not testify in her own defense against charges that she murdered her daughter, Caylee.

Judge Belvin Perry asked the Florida woman, "Have you had ample time to discuss this with your attorneys, that is the pros and cons of testifying or not testifying?...Has anybody used any force or pressure in making you arrive at that decision and the decision is your decision freely and voluntarily?"

To those questions, Anthony stood up and simply replied, "Yes sir."

After Anthony's statement, defense attorney Jose Baez rested the defense team's case.

Casey Anthony, 25, is accused of murdering 2-year-old Caylee and could face the death penalty if convicted.

The prosecution expects to start calling rebuttal witnesses Thursday. Then there will be closing arguments by both the prosecution and defense. Judge Perry will likely charge and instruct the jury over the weekend. The jury could begin deliberating Saturday or Sunday and could work through the holiday weekend.

The defense ended their testimony with the parents and brother of Casey Anthony. They asked each family about how they buried their pets and each family member gave conflicting answers. Some of the family’s pets were buried in towels wrapped in clear tape, others in blankets and others in plastic bags.

It appeared the defense was attempting to draw a comparison to how Caylee's remains were found in December of 2008 and how the Anthony family buried their pets.

The quiet rest to the case didn't match the shocking opening statements made by the defense when Baez argued that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008 and that George Anthony, Casey Anthony's father, helped hide the body. They said that Casey Anthony hid her daughter's death in the same way she hid sexual abuse at the hands of her brother and father.

George Anthony has adamantly denied those claims. Throughout the defense's case, they attempted to undermine George Anthony's integrity. Their first witness Thursday was a woman who claimed to have had an affair with him during the search for the missing toddler. She testified that while people were still searching for Caylee, Casey's father indicated to her that his granddaughter might be dead from "an accident that snowballed out of control."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Obama Presents Robert Gates with Presidential Medal of Freedom

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates knew he was going to receive a grand send-off Thursday from the military on his final day on the job, but he did not expect that President Obama would also honor him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

President Obama and Vice President Biden were among the hundreds that gathered on a parade field outside the Pentagon that has sweeping views of Washington’s monuments.

The president praised Gates as “a remarkable public servant” and said he could think “of no better way to express my appreciation to someone who I have come to admire and whom I consider a friend.”  
 
Gates seemed genuinely surprised to receive the honor and jokingly told the president that it was “a big surprise, but we should have known a couple of months ago. You're getting pretty good at this covert ops stuff.”

Gates called serving as Defense Secretary the “greatest honor and privilege of my life.”  He thanked President Bush for “giving me this historic opportunity" and for President Obama’s confidence in asking him to stay on in the post even though Gates was “someone he did not know at all.”

President Obama said that Gates had earned the right to retire after serving seven Presidents, but that when Gates agreed to his request to continue to as Defense Secretary in his administration it was because he is a “humble American patriot, a man of common sense and decency: quite simply one of our nation’s finest public servants.”

Obama praised Gates for his advice on national security matters and dedication to having the Defense Department serve “our troops in the field as well as they serve us. “

The President described Gates’ greatest legacy as “the lives you saved and the confidence you gave our men and woman in battle who knew that there was a Secretary of Defense who had their backs and who loved them and who fought for them and who did everything in his power to bring them home safe."

In the end, Gates acknowledged that the troops would always be on his mind.  “I'll just say here that I will think of these young warriors -- the ones who fought, the ones who keep on fighting, the ones who never made it back -- till the end of my days.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Man Gets Past Airport Security; Boards Flight with Fake ID and Pass

Creatas/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The Transportation Security Administration is facing many questions Thursday after a Nigerian man was arrested for getting past security and onto a flight at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport with false documentation.

In a court document obtained by ABC News, an FBI agent who arrested Olajide Oluwaseun Noibe says he was able to board Virgin America Flight 415 to Los Angeles last Friday with a fake ID and stolen boarding pass.  The crew aboard the flight became suspicious they had a stowaway sitting in row three and turned Noibe over to authorities in Los Angeles, but for some reason he was released.

Noibe was then arrested on Wednesday at Los Angeles International Airport when he tried to get on a Delta flight bound for Atlanta.  After searching his bags, FBI agents say they found 10 boarding passes -- all apparently stolen.

Noibe is due in court in Los Angeles Friday.

Following the incident, the TSA said, "Every passenger that passes through security checkpoints is subject to many layers of security including thorough physical screening at the checkpoint.  TSA’s review of this matter indicates that the passenger went through screening.  It is important to note that this passenger was subject to the same physical screening at the checkpoint as other passengers."

The agency added that it could not "comment further on the specifics of the case given the ongoing FBI investigation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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