Jury Finds Steven Hayes Guilty in Connecticut Triple Murder

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Steven Hayes has been found guilty in the deadly home invasion that left a woman and her two daughters dead, a Connecticut jury determined Tuesday, making him eligible for the death penalty.

Hayes, 47, is one of two men accused of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11, in July 2007. Joshua Komisarjevsky, Hayes' alleged accomplice, will stand trial next year.

The emotional and, at times, gruesome three-week trial culminated in emotional closing arguments last week, with Hayes' lawyer trying to pin the majority of the blame on Komisarjevsky.

The prosecution described, often in detail, how Hayes and Komisarjevsky broke into the Petit's upscale Cheshire home in July 2007 and held them captive for hours, eventually raping Hawke-Petit and Michaela, pouring gasoline in the bedrooms, and setting the house on fire with the daughters tied to their beds.

Only the father, Dr. William Petit, survived.

Testimony revealed that Hawke-Petit had been strangled to death after she'd been raped, while Hayley and Michaela died of smoke inhalation.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Nebraska Toddler Duct-Taped to Wall by Mom, New Photos Show

Photo Courtesy - Gage County Attorney(BEATRICE, Neb.) -- Photos of a teen mother and her boyfriend duct-taping her two-year-old son to a wall have been made public by Nebraska prosecutors, weeks after they were convicted for the incident in which they took pictures of the toddler for fun.

The child, temporarily removed from his mother's custody, is again living with the mother, an 18-year-old admitted drug user.

Sentenced late last month, Jayla Hamm, who was 17 at the time of the abuse, received 10 days in jail and two years probation. Her boyfriend, Corde Honea, 19, an ex-convict, was sentenced to three to five years for child abuse and received an additional 12 to 24 months on felony possession of stolen firearms.

High on drugs, Hamm held the boy in place while Honea taped his body to the wall of their Beatrice, Neb., home using bright-green duct tape, authorities said. In some of the photographs, the boy, dressed in a red onesie, is seen hunched over, unable to escape, his wrists firmly taped to the wall behind his back and above his shoulders.

State health officials are monitoring the home, said Randall Ritnour, the Gage county attorney. Prosecutors, he said, were investigating a separate case to determine whether she should continue to retain custody.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Times Square Bomber Gets Life in Prison

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Marshals(NEW YORK) -- Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a car bomb in New York's Times Square on a crowded Saturday night, was sentenced to life in federal prison on Tuesday.

Shahzad said "Allahu Akbar" after hearing the sentence, and said he would "sacrifice a thousand lives for Allah."

"War with Muslims has just begun," said Shahzad.

Shahzad also said he was happy with "the deal" God had given him. "We have laws made by Allah. We don't need laws made by humans."

In handing down the sentence, Judge Mirian Cedarbaum said, "You are capable of education, and I do hope you spend time in prison thinking about whether the Koran gives you the right to kill innocent people."

Shahzad pleaded guilty in June to the failed May 1 attack, and admitted receiving terror training from the Pakistani Taliban. Two of the ten different terror and weapons charges to which he pleaded carry mandatory life sentences.

The 31-year-old naturalized American, who was born in Pakistan and lived in Connecticut, warned in June that further terror attacks were coming.

After Shahzad had pleaded guilty to the first charge, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, Judge Cedarbaum said, "I gather you want to plead guilty to all [the charges.]

"Yes," said Shahzad, and then said he wanted to plead guilty and 100 times more," because he wanted the U.S. to know it will continue to suffer attacks if it does not leave Iraq and Afghanistan and stop drone strikes in Pakistan.

Calm, but clearly angry, and standing the whole time, Shahzad spent nearly an hour giving the judge a narrative of his failed bombing attempt, and how he changed from a financial analyst with an MBA to a would-be bomber and what he called "part of the answer" to the U.S. killing of Muslims. He also confirmed that he had placed the bomb in Times Square at its busiest in order to do the maximum damage.

Shahzad admitted driving a Nissan Pathfinder into midtown Manhattan on Saturday evening, May 1, when the city's theater district was packed with tourists. He abandoned the SUV, which was stuffed with fireworks, propane, gasoline and fertilizer, after trying to use the fireworks to ignite the vehicle.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Mother of American Killed by Mexican Pirates Begs Hillary Clinton: 'Help Me'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A U.S. woman whose son was shot in the head by Mexican pirates while boating on a border lake in Texas is begging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help her, "mother to mother."

The body of David Michael Hartley, 30, has yet to be recovered days after he was killed by teenage pirates on Falcon Lake after he and his wife, Tiffany Hartley, crossed the border on their jet skis. U.S. officials said they're prohibited from entering into Mexican waters to search for his body and Mexico said it doesn't have the money to look.

"He needs to come home and we're begging the Mexican government, the governor of Texas, President Obama," the man's mother, Pam Hartley, told ABC News.

"To Hillary -- mother to mother -- help me bring my son home, please," she said, crying.

Tiffany Hartley said she and her husband dismissed warnings about crossing into the Mexican side of the lake to take pictures of a historic church. As they made their way back to the U.S. border, they were approached by three boats of fully-armed pirates.

"David and I were racing back to the U.S. and they started shooting," she said. “I looked back and I saw that David had been shot and I turned around to go get him."

Hartley said she failed to pull her husband onto her jet ski and, for her own safety, was forced to abandon her husband.

The state of Texas had warned boaters and fisherman as far back as April to stay away from the Mexican side of the lake. Since then, the drug wars along the border have gotten more violent and there have been reports of more pirate encounters. There have been at least five reported run-ins with pirates on the lake so far this year, although this is the first reported case of a death.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Solar Panels to be Installed on White House

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House will announce Tuesday it will install solar panels on the structure in the spring of 2011.  Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will make the announcement at the GreenGov conference at The George Washington University.

The president has long touted the benefits of solar power, not only as a way to create a greener country and save energy, but also as a job creator that will aid the overall economic recovery.

“We've got some fights to make sure that we're sparking innovation and igniting a clean energy sector where American workers are making solar panels and wind towers and cutting-edge batteries for the new plug-in hybrid, that leads on clean energy -- because the economy that leads on clean energy I believe is going to lead the global economy.  And I want America to be that nation,” the president said in February of this year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Yale University Questions Police Force During Club Raid

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- New Haven Police Department officers are accused of using excessive force during a raid of a Yale University party where cops allegedly brandishing semi-automatic weapons tasered a student before arresting several others.

Jordan Jefferson, the student who was tasered, had to be hospitalized following the incident. A total of five students were arrested during the raid.

According to Yale University, several students have reported "serious concerns" about the behavior of the officers who showed up at Elevate Lounge during the early morning hours of Oct. 2.

Police entered the club, which was being rented out by two colleges at Yale for a private dance party, to do a "compliance check," according to Joe Avery, public information officer for NHPD.

Avery said there were 256 people in the club, 100 more than permitted by the fire marshal. The officers began to "defuse the chaotic situation and safety hazards in Elevate."

The NHPD argues the scene inside Elevate "created serious safety hazards" and the fact that it was "58 percent over legal occupancy" was an "egregious violation." Officials also note "other violations," such as underage drinking and allowing patrons of all ages inside the club.

A Yale University spokesman said those who were not 21 and were not allowed to legally drink were not given a bracelet that would allow them to be served at the bar, and were not permitted to drink inside the establishment.

According to the statement, Jefferson hit a police officer when he was being arrested and "had to be tased to be brought under control."

As for the pending investigation, the police department said, "The City of New Haven and the NHPD does not tolerate unprofessional or improper behavior by any officer, and will investigate fully any complaint or reasonable suspicion of that kind of behavior."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Federal Officials to Release Revamped Auto Safety Ratings

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal safety officials are unveiling new, tougher crash test standards Tuesday for 2011 model year vehicles.  Some of the major changes to the rating system include the use of a female-sized crash test dummy. For the first time, the Department of Transportation is using these smaller-sized dummies to help determine how well a vehicle protects in accidents.

"We've raised the bars on safety. More stars safer cars. People really have to prove to us these cars deserve a five-star rating," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

Cars will get safety ratings of one to five stars, with five stars being the highest score.  Consumers can use the ratings to assess vehicle features, such as forward collision warning systems and crash avoidance.

For automakers, doing well on the test means designing side airbags large enough so women's heads do not slip under them.

The new tests, along with the new ratings, include a side crash into a pole, and front and side impacts with male and female dummies.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


U.S. Plans Law Enforcement 'Surge' on Trains

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. authorities plan a law enforcement surge this week along Amtrak routes, an exercise called operation RailSafe.  The heads of the country's biggest mass transit systems were briefed on the possible terror threat, all part of what is being called an abundance of caution.

Amtrak is holding a high-security exercise on Friday in which uniformed officers will be a visible presence on national transit routes. RailSafe will include all the local police agencies along the Amtrak routes involved in the exercise. Amtrak's counterparts in Europe and Britain will also be holding an exercise called "Rail Action Day" on Friday, according to a senior Amtrak official in the security sector.

A senior Department of Homeland Security official said the exercise is "long-planned" and "is not connected in any way" to the terror threat in Europe.

The stepped-up security comes as the U.S. used drones Monday to attack a suspected center of the plot in Pakistan.

The target was one of the terror training camps in the Waziristan region, where U.S. officials say a contingent of German citizens of Afghan and Turkish descent have been preparing for jihad against Europe.

U.S. officials say some have already been dispatched, likely those with their faces obscured in a recently released propaganda tape.

However, Pakistani officials told ABC News that at least eight Germans, including the group's leader, known as Commander Fayaz, were killed today by CIA missiles launched from an unmanned aircraft. The suspected militants belonged to a group called Jehad al Islami.

The strike comes a day after the State Department issued a highly unusual travel advisory for Americans going to Europe because of the potential threat of Mumbai-style commando attacks on civilians, possibly by terrorists of German origin based in Waziristan. Authorities learned of the possible plot this summer from a German national who had been training for jihad and is being held by the U.S. in Afghanistan. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


District Attorney Accused In 'Sexting' Scandal Resigns

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(GREEN BAY, Wis.) -- Ken Kratz, the Calumet County, Wisconsin district attorney accused of sending sexual text messages has resigned, according to WBAY-TV.  Kratz handed his resignation letter to Governor Jim Doyle.

Kratz' resignation comes two weeks after the governor received two formal complaints from Calumet County residents asking him to remove Kratz from office.

In the short letter, Kratz expressed sadness and regret over his resignation, but said he hopes to repair his reputation and resume his legal career.

The scandal unraveled nearly three weeks ago, when Kratz admitted to sending sexually suggestive text messages to domestic abuse victim Stephanie Van Groll while prosecuting her ex-boyfriend's case.

Since then, at least four more women have come forward, alleging Kratz also sent them inappropriate messages over the years.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court Weighs Military Funeral Protests: Are They Free Speech?

Photo Courtesy -- Darren McCollester | Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Do members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church have a constitutionally protected right to protest at the funerals of members of the military?

That's the question the Supreme Court took up Monday as it began its term.

In the case, Snyder v. Phelps, the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder sued members of the Westboro Church's Phelps family after they protested at his son's funeral.

As they have at many other military funerals, the church members carried signs near the funeral with messages including "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags." Snyder was not gay. The Topeka, Kan., church members say they are protesting the federal government's tolerance of homosexuality and that soldiers' deaths are a divine message about America's sins.

Albert Snyder sued for emotional distress and an invasion of his family's privacy, winning $5 million before the ruling was overturned by a federal appeals court. The court said that Westboro's protest was "rhetorical hyperbole" protected by the First Amendment.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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