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Sunday
Jun192011

Casey Anthony Trial: Expert Says Official Autopsy Was 'Shoddy'

Orange County Government, Florida(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Two forensic experts testified over the weekend that two-year-old Caylee Anthony was not necessarily suffocated by duct tape, as the defense's argued its case in the murder trial of Florida mother Casey Anthony.

Forensic expert Dr. Werner Spitz argued Saturday that the duct tape the prosecution claimed suffocated her was actually applied after her body had decomposed. He also claimed that the autopsy performed on the toddler was "shoddy," as Caylee's skull was not opened, so he conducted a second autopsy himself.

Spitz has also testified as an expert in the high-profile cases of O.J. Simpson and record executive Phil Spector.

The defense's first expert witness Saturday was Dr. William Rodriguez, who also refuted the evidence that Caylee Anthony was suffocated by duct tape placed over her nose and mouth.

Rodriguez, a forensic anthropologist with the U.S. Department of Defense Armed Forces Medical Examiner's Office, testified that it would be impossible to determine the exact position of duct tape on a corpse.

Duct tape can shift over time as it loses its stickiness, Rodriguez argued, and could have been moved by animals who came in contact with the two-year-old's body.

Casey Anthony is accused of murdering her daughter Caylee.

She has pleaded not guilty and faces the death penalty if convicted.

The trial resumes Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun192011

Four Killed in New York Plane Crash

Thinkstock Images/Getty Images(WESTCHESTER, N.Y.) -- Four people are dead following a plane crash in New York’s Westchester County on Saturday.

The crash reportedly occurred in the suburb of Armonk on Saturday afternoon. Officials say the Cessna 210 aircraft departed from Westchester County Airport around 1 p.m. and was bound for Montauk when shortly after takeoff the pilot communicated to a control tower that there was an emergency and tried to return to the airport. The pilot reportedly was trying to land when the single-engine plane crashed and burst into flames.

All four people onboard were killed when the plane went down.

The victims have been identified as Keith Weiner, 63, his wife Lisa Weiner, 51, their daughter Isabel Weiner, 14, and Lucy Walsh, 14.

Investigations are continuing into the cause of the crash.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun192011

'Barefoot Bandit' Colton Harris-Moore Won't Cash In on Crime Spree

BananaStock (File Photo)(SEATTLE) -- "Barefoot Bandit" Colton Harris-Moore won't be profiting from his seemingly made-for-Hollywood crime spree, a two-year run of daring capers including stealing planes and boats.

Harris-Moore, who as a teenager repeatedly eluded police until he was finally run to ground in the Bahamas in July 2010, pleaded guilty Friday to seven felonies at a federal court in Seattle.

Harris-Moore, now 20, entered the federal courtroom looking calm, with a slight smile on his face, ABC affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle reported.

After answering a litany of questions from the judge, he said the word "guilty" seven times, admitting to stealing planes, cars, guns, a boat and more, from the San Juan Islands across the country and beyond to the Bahamas.

The deal worked out between federal prosecutors and Harris-Moore includes a recommendation that he spend five to six and a half years in prison.

He also agreed not to profit from his crimes. He is allowed to sell his story, but the deal would have to be negotiated by a third party and profits would have to go to paying off his victims, who collectively suffered an estimated $1.4 million in losses and damages.

In addition to the federal charges that were resolved with the plea deal, Harris Moore faces dozens of state charges that are expected to be filed by prosecutors in San Juan, Island, Skagit and Snohomish counties.

In the months before his arrest, he had apparently branched out from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest, where he is listed as a suspect for crimes committed in South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana.

Harris-Moore's two years on the run came to an end fitting for a Hollywood movie, when he was taken into custody in the Bahamas after a half-hour long boat chase that ended with police riddling his boat with bullets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun182011

Pentagon Bomb Scare: Is Suspect a Lone-Wolf Terrorist?

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An international investigation is underway into whether the Marine Corps Reserve lance corporal who was arrested on Friday for carrying suspected bomb making materials near the Pentagon is simply an unstable, misguided young man, or a cold-blooded lone wolf terrorist.

"We don't know what a lone wolf, al Qaeda-inspired operative looks like. We don't know where they hang out, we don't know really what motivates them," former FBI agent Jack Cloonan said. "So when you don't know that, you've got a talent pool of people that is so huge, it stresses law enforcement. We just don't know what they look like and what they want to do."

The United States was lucky in this incident, because police were able to arrest the man in question, Ethiopian-American Yonathan Melaku, 22, who was recently charged with breaking into 27 cars in suburban Washington.

FBI investigators have been dissecting Melaku's life since his arrest, but as of yet have found no links to terrorist organizations, although he was carrying pro-al Qaeda literature.

But while he may have been acting alone, the recent appearance of a "hit list" on a jihadi web site that names 40 prominent figures from government, the U.S. military and the media who should be attacked, has officials concerned about people who might have no formal links to al Qaeda but still be inspired by their rhetoric.

According to a bulletin circulated by the FBI, the hit list appeared on the website Ansar al-Mujahideen after one poster highlighted Al Qaeda leader Adam Gadahn's call in a June 3 message for lone wolf attacks on American public figures and corporate institutions.

Melaku was arrested around 2 a.m. Friday, when an army policeman confronted him at Arlington Cemetery. Police say they found four zip-lock bags with a substance labeled ammonium nitrate, a key bomb-making material, in his backpack. Also inside were spent 9mm ammunition and a notebook containing the words "al qaeda," "Taliban rules," "mujahidin" and "defeated coalition forces," according to police.

Searches of Melaku's home and car turned up no explosives, and the material in Melaku's backpack tested negative as a potential explosive, sources said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun182011

Expert: Caylee Anthony Was Not Necessarily Suffocated by Duct Tape

Orange County Government, Florida(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony's defense team called Dr. William Rodriguez to the stand Saturday morning, a forensic expert who refuted the evidence that Caylee Anthony was suffocated by duct tape placed over her nose and mouth.

Dr. Rodriguez, a forensic anthropologist with the U.S. Department of Defense Armed Forces Medical Examiner's Office, testified that it would be impossible to determine the exact position of duct tape on a corpse. Adding that Duct tape can shift over time as it loses its stickiness, and could have been moved by animals who came in contact with the two-year-old's body.

Casey Anthony is accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee.

She has pleaded not guilty and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Rodriguez's testimony comes after Casey Anthony's "surprise witness" became an embarrassment for the defense Friday when the witness held a news conference outside of the courthouse and said that he did not know the Anthony family.

Defense attorney Jose Baez previously included Vasco Thompson, a convicted kidnapper, as a last minute surprise addition to his amended witness list earlier this week.

Baez claimed that Thompson and Casey Anthony's father, George Anthony, shared a series of phone conversations the day before Caylee Anthony's disappearance was reported to authorities in July 2008.

George Anthony angrily issued a statement through his attorney earlier this week denying those claims.

"I have no idea who George Anthony is," Thompson said. "The phone number they got, I didn't have that number until February of 2009. I don't know why they dragged me into all this mess."

It is unlikely that Baez will now call Thompson to the witness stand.

Hours before Thompson spoke, a brawl erupted among people who had lined up all night for a coveted seat to the murder trial, prompting the Orange County Courthouse to change the rules for those seeking admission to the trial on Saturday.

The new rules now require people to line up at 8 a.m. on the day before they want to attend a hearing. At 4 p.m., a list will be made of those who can attend the next day's hearing. At 8 a.m. the next morning, those on the list must present an I.D. to gain admission to the hearing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun182011

Illegal Immigrant Accused of Using Stolen Identity to Get Airline Job

Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department(MIAMI) -- An illegal immigrant from Guyana is facing several charges after he was arrested on Friday for allegedly stealing the identity of a disabled man and using the man’s identity to land a job as a flight attendant.

Jophan Porter was arrested at Miami International Airport, after authorities say an investigation revealed that Porter used the identity of New York City resident Anthony Fair to secure the job with American Airlines.

The victim, who is unemployed, reportedly found out that his identity had been stolen after he was denied medical benefits by officials who claimed he was making too much money, according to ABC’s New York station WABC-TV.

Porter faces forgery and identity fraud charges, among others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to Return to Tucson for Short, Private Visit

P.K. Weis/Giffords Campaign - P.K. Weis via Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords plans to return Arizona for a brief private visit with her family this weekend, her husband and officials from her office said Friday.

The Congresswoman is expected to make no public appearances during the visit, according to a news release from her office.

For Giffords, the weekend visit will be the first time she has been back in the state since January -- when she was shot in the head at a community event.

"For five long months, Gabby has been living and working in the rehab facility in Houston," husband Mark Kelly said in the news release. "Now that she is an outpatient, her first priority is coming home to the place that is such a source of strength for her."

Giffords was released from TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital Wednesday.

"It's great for her to be out of the hospital. That's a long time for anybody to be in a hospital bed, in a hospital room," Kelly told a CBS News crew, speaking for the first time on camera since Giffords was released from a Houston hospital.

Giffords was nervous about leaving the hospital where she'd been for nearly five months, Kelly said.

The couple are staying at their suburban home near the Johnson Space Center. Kelly recently returned from commanding Space Shuttle Endeavour. Giffords attended his shuttle launch last month and had surgery to replace a portion of her skull while he was on his mission.

Jared Loughner is accused of opening fire at Giffords' Jan. 8 meet-and-greet event.

A federal judge ruled Loughner mentally incompetent to stand trial for the mass shooting, which killed six and left 13 injured including Giffords.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

National Guard to Remain at Southwest Border until September

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The 1,200 National Guard troops serving in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas will stay through Sept. 30; the deployment was to end at the end of June.
 
Department of Homeland Security press secretary Matthew Chandler Friday issued a statement about the extension saying that the National Guardsmen will continue to be responsible for providing law enforcement support in countering the illegal smuggling of people, drugs and weapons.

In addition to the extension, DHS will implement new technologies and hire more personnel to beef up the current border security.  

The National Guard, at the border since last summer, have already assisted the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in seizing more than 14,000 pounds of drugs and the discovery and apprehension of over 7,000 illegal border-crossers, according to Chandler's statement Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

Man with Suspicious Materials Detained Near Pentagon

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- A man who was carrying suspected bomb making materials and pro-al Qaeda literature was arrested in Arlington National Cemetery early Friday morning, triggering a bomb scare that snarled Washington's morning rush hour. The FBI, however, determined that the material in his backpack was harmless.

"There was not a device and the products found are determined right now to be inert," said Brenda Heck, special agent in charge of counterterrorism for the FBI.

The material in the suspect's backpack tested negative as a potential explosive, sources said.

Sources told ABC News earlier that the backpack contained what was believed to be ammonium nitrate and spent ammunition for an automatic weapon. The material was reportedly contained in four large Ziplock-type bags.

Sources also said there were pro-al Qaeda statements found in a notebook that contained mostly notes for a financial class. There was also was a page containing words "al qaeda," "Taliban rules," "mujahidin" and "defeated coalition forces."

Two separate law enforcement sources told ABC News that law enforcement identified the suspect as Yonathan Melaku, 22, of Alexandria, Va. U.S. Park Police said no charges have been filed against him yet.

Melaku is a naturalized citizen and lance corporal in the Marine Corps Reserve, 4th engineer batallion out of the Baltimore, Md.

Sources say they haven't found any ties to a terrorist organization.

Police and the media congregated at Melaku's home in Fairfax County, Va. where two people were seen being questioned by authorities and FBI agents. The FBI and Fairfax police were seen huddling in groups and putting police tape to prevent people from entering the area. They went into the townhouse with bomb technicians without a search warrant under the "public safety hazard" issue.

An FBI spokesman would not confirm whether the house was indeed Melaku's or his parents' residence, but did say it's connected to the suspect and there was no safety hazard.

Melaku allegedly told police in Arlington when he was captured that there were other "devices" in the area and also the location of his vehicle. But the FBI said there was no reason to believe other individuals were involved and they believe the suspect acted alone.

Police were investigating a vehicle, a red 2011 Nissan, that contained materials authorities were examining to determine if it was a bomb or other weapon. The material was reportedly neutralized, according to law enforcement spokesmen at the scene.

Park Police Sgt. David Scholsser said in a news conference the man was found at about 1:30 a.m. in the Arlington National Cemetery, located near the Pentagon. He was first caught by the Ft. Myers police but then ran into adjacent Arlington National Cemetery, where he was apprehended by the military. When questioned, Melaku was uncooperative but then took the police to his car.

Melaku was arrested last month for smashing windows and stealing valuables from 27 cars in Leesburg, Va. He was charged with four counts of grand larceny although the police did not find any discernible ideological motive.

A man by the same name and birth month was also arrested in Fairfax County for reckless driving and failure to stop. He pleaded guilty and paid a $200 fine for the former charge and $30 for the second charge.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

Casey Anthony Trial: Surprise Witness Embarrasses Defense

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony's "surprise witness" became an embarrassment for the defense Friday when the witness held a news conference outside of the courthouse where she is being tried for murder and said that he did not know the Anthony family.

Defense attorney Jose Baez included Vasco Thompson, a convicted kidnapper, as a last minute surprise addition to his amended witness list earlier this week. Baez claimed that Thompson and Casey Anthony's father, George Anthony, shared a series of phone conversations the day before 2-year-old Caylee Anthony's disappearance was reported to authorities in July 2008.

George Anthony angrily issued a statement through his attorney earlier this week denying those claims. Friday, Vasco Thompson stood outside the Orange County courthouse and also denied that he'd ever met George Anthony.

"I have no idea who George Anthony is," Thompson said. "The phone number they got, I didn't have that number until February of 2009. I don't know why they dragged me into all this mess."

Baez never said what Thompson's connection to the case may have been, but he has accused George Anthony of helping to dispose of Caylee's body after she accidentally drowned in the family pool.

It is unlikely that Baez will now call Thompson to the witness stand.

Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child and four counts of lying to law enforcement. She has pleaded not guilty and faces the death penalty if convicted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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