Review Category : National News

Freddie Gray’s Death Ruled a Homicide

Courtesy Murphy, Falcon & Murphy(BALTIMORE) — The death of Freddie Gray has been ruled a homicide caused by severe trauma, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday morning. Her office has also found probable cause to pursue criminal charges in connection to the case.

Gray, 25, was taken into police custody in Baltimore on April 12 and sustained a spinal injury during that time that required medical attention. He went into a coma several days later and died a week after his apprehension.

Police have never said why they took him into custody in the first place, noting only that he ran from officers, and they have not publicly explained how Gray received the spinal injury.

Violent protests rocked Baltimore on Monday afternoon and through the night, prompting hundreds of arrests and a citywide curfew that extends through this weekend. There have also been a number of peaceful protests through this week.

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Woman Charged with Murder of Missing Fiance After His Kayak Capsizes

New York State Police(NEW YORK) — The fiancee of a man who disappeared after his kayak capsized in New York State has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with his death, authorities said Thursday.

Angelika Graswald, 35, and Vincent Viafore, 46, both of Poughkeepsie, New York, were kayaking on the Hudson River near Cornwall, New York, at approximately 7:30 p.m. on April 19, according to the New York State Police.

Graswald “did intentionally cause the death of Vincent Viafore,” according to a criminal complaint by the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

According to authorities, rough water and strong winds caused Viafore’s kayak to overturn. Viafore, who was not wearing a life jacket, was unable to right to his kayak, according to state police.

Graswald called 911, according to authorities, and they initially said that she tried to help him. While trying to help her fiance, she fell out of her kayak, but was later located in the water by a boater and rescued, authorities initially said, noting that Graswald was later treated and released from a local hospital for hypothermia.

Authorities located both kayaks, but Viafore was not found, according to state police. Despite what initially appeared to be a tragedy on the open water, Graswald has now been charged with murder.

It’s unclear why authorities believe Graswald acted with intent to allegedly kill Viafore. At a news conference Thursday afternoon, New York State Police officials did not specify a motive or detail how Viafore was killed.

It was unclear if Graswald has entered a plea or retained an attorney.

Graswald is scheduled to next appear in court on May 5, according to Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler.

“My office is working closely with the New York State Police to ensure that this case can be presented to an Orange County Grand Jury next week,” Hoovler said in a statement Thursday, noting that the investigation is ongoing.

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Aurora Shooting Trial: Officers Recount Moments When James Holmes Was Captured

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) — Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes was wearing so much protective gear when police first saw him on the night of the attack that first responders thought he was a SWAT member, police testified on Thursday.

First responders told the court how they apprehended Holmes, who faces the death penalty for killing 12 and injuring 70 others in the 2012 attack. Holmes has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, and his attorneys have admitted in court that Holmes was the one responsible for the attack but believe he was not sane at the time.

Here are several officers’ descriptions of the moments when they apprehended Holmes.

Where They Found Holmes

Two of the responding officers who were the first on the scene, Jason Oviatt and Jason Sweeney, testified in court on Thursday. The first 911 calls from the theater came in to dispatch at 12:39 a.m. and police officers arrived on scene at 12:40 a.m.

Oviatt said that he saw Holmes as soon as they pulled up to the theater because he was standing by a white car by the emergency exit of theater nine, where the shooting had happened.

“There was a person standing on the opposite side of the car dressed in a black tactical helmet and a gas mask. On first glance, he looked like another cop to me,” said Aurora police officer Jason Oviatt.

As Oviatt approached, he began to realize that the gear Holmes was wearing was not police-issued tactical gear, and when he was about 20 feet away, Oviatt began to get a sense of his demeanor which tipped him off.

“The person was relaxed. That said to me he wasn’t an officer,” Oviatt said. “I knew that he had to be involved in the shooting.”

Oviatt said that as he approached Holmes, he “pointed my gun at him.”

As Oviatt held Holmes at gunpoint, Officer Jason Sweeney told the court that he cleared the vehicle and ordered the suspect on the ground when he saw a plastic clamshell rifle case.

What Did Holmes First Say To Officers

Sweeney ordered Holmes to the ground and “he had his head up, he was looking where we were taking him,” Sweeney said in court.

When they patted Holmes down through his layers of tactical gear, they found “a couple” of pocket knives and a handgun, Sweeney said.

Sweeney was the one to ask him if he was alone and Holmes responded: “It’s just me.”

Dismantling Holmes’ Gear

Oviatt and Sweeney then dragged Holmes away from his car and towards a nearby dumpster where they began taking off the layers of tactical gear that he was wearing.

“I made him kneel down on the ground and then cut his coat off,” Oviatt said in court. “There was too much material in the coat, I was cutting with a razor but every cut I made there was more to get through, it took too long.”

“I left him in his underwear and a torn T-shirt,” he said.

Taking Him to the Police Station

The officers then put him in the back of a patrol car and strapped him in.

“He was moving around quite a bit, not sitting still, appeared to be looking all around,” Sgt. Stephen Redfearn told the court.

“The suspect appeared to be trying to look at what was on my computer,” Redfearn said.

Holmes has been in court since the trial started on Monday, sitting quietly and relatively expressionless throughout.

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Baltimore Police Officers Reeling From Riot-Related Injuries

Laryn Bakker/iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — Baltimore police Thursday said 98 of the city’s officers have been injured since riots broke out Monday afternoon.

Nearly half, or 43 officers, required emergency medical treatment at a hospital, with 13 still out on medical leave, “meaning they are unable to come in to work at all,” Police Capt. Eric Kowalczyk announced.

Fifteen of those 43 most-severely injured officers have been put on light duty because they can perform administrative duties but not patrol the street. The remaining 15 were able to return to active duty, officials said.

Kowalczyk did not detail any specific injuries sustained by the officers, or how they received them, although many of them were pelted with rocks and other objects.

“These weren’t little pebbles being thrown,” he said of the interactions with rioters. “These were chunks of cement with serrated edges and glass embedded in them. That’s what was being thrown at our officers.”

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NFL Draft Day: Jameis Winston Goes to Tampa Bay Buccaneers as No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have selected Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

The Florida State star, who is expected to sign a multimillion-dollar contract with Tampa Bay, was not at the draft, but back home in Alabama — leaving an empty stage at the draft in Chicago.

After he was selected, Winston tweeted that he was “so proud to be” a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, adding that it was a “dream come true.”

With Winston off the board, the Tennessee Titans made Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota the No. 2 pick.

Before the draft, Winston had told ESPN, “Anyone that wants to take that chance on me … they’re going to be lucky.”

The NFL Players Association told ABC News on Thursday that Winston could make roughly $24 million for his first four years. On April 17, Nike announced that it had signed Winston.

“The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl,” said ESPN football analyst Todd McShay. “And he looks like he’s capable of winning a Super Bowl.”

But Winston had said he’d be at home in Alabama during the draft, surrounded by his family. He posted on Instagram Thursday, thanking his supporters.

Still, though, the 21-year-old All-American athlete, known for his arm strength and agility on the gridiron, continues to be hounded by critics and skeptics because of some headline-grabbing controversies off the field.

At Florida State in 2012, Winston was accused of rape. He maintained that the sex was consensual. No charges were filed in the case, with Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs citing insufficient evidence. Winston was also cleared in a university code of conduct hearing. A day before Nike made the announcement, his accuser filed a civil suit against both him and the university. She also spoke out in a documentary titled The Hunting Ground.

Winston was also sidelined for making lewd comments and received a civil citation in 2014 for allegedly stealing $32 worth of seafood from a Florida grocery store. He said that was a mistake.

“All my mistakes make me a better person,” he told ESPN.

On Thursday, his agent, Greg Genske, told ABC News in a statement that with the NFL draft, Winston “enthusiastically begins a new chapter of his life and is grateful for the support of his family and friends, coaches, teammates, teachers and legions of fans.”

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Sea Lion Rescued After Wandering San Francisco Streets

KGO-TV(SAN FRANCISCO) — A sea lion pup that wandered onto the streets of San Francisco early Thursday morning is now resting safe at a marine mammal rescue center.

A tourist first spotted the male sea lion under an SUV in San Francisco’s Marina District around 6:30 a.m., ABC News station KGO-TV reports.

It took rescue crews close to a half-hour to eventually capture the animal, with aerial helicopter footage showing one rescue worker finally getting the sea lion into a net.

“Luckily the San Francisco Police Department had stopped traffic around him and was protecting him until we got there,” Shawn Johnson with the Marine Mammal Center told KGO-TV.

After the sea lion was captured, workers with the Marine Mammal Center realized they’ve dealt with this particular seal once before.

“He was rescued in Santa Barbara County in February and brought up here for rehabilitation. He was here at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito for nearly two months,” Johnson told KGO-TV.

The person who found the sea lion the first time named him “Rubbish,” Johnson told KGO-TV, and in that time, he’s lost close to 20 pounds.

Johnson said sea lions like Rubbish are part of a growing problem, as crews from the center have rescued more animals in the past four months than all of 2014.

“The elevated ocean temperatures have caused all the fish to migrate farther away from them,” Johnson told KGO-TV.

Johnson said he hopes after this latest stay at the center, Rubbish will go on to live a successful life in the wild.

“It is pretty heart-wrenching to know that you put all this effort into rehabilitating them and giving them a chance out in the wild,” he said.

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Woman Found Dead in Maui, Hawaii, Waters May Be Shark Victim

wallix/iStock/Thinkstock(MAUI, Hawaii) — A popular beach spot in Maui, Hawaii, remains closed as authorities await confirmation of an apparent fatal shark attack.

Margaret C. Cruse, 65, of Kihei, Maui, was found by snorkelers Wednesday around 9 a.m. in a popular surfing area called “Dumps.” Cruse was unresponsive and floating face-down just 200 yards offshore, the Maui Fire Department said in a statement. Paramedics and firefighters were unable to revive her.

The department said that Cruse had been snorkeling with two friends and then separated from them. Authorities said the injuries to the woman’s upper torso were consistent with a shark attack. They were awaiting an official autopsy report.

If confirmed, the attack would be the first shark-related death in the U.S. since 2013, according to the International Shark Attack File. That year, two people died in Maui after being bitten by sharks.

According to the ISAF, two-thirds of all shark attacks in the world occur in the U.S., with 52 reported in 2014. Earlier this month, a Florida man was airlifted to the hospital after being bitten by a shark. The man was spearfishing off Jupiter Inlet when he was bitten, according to a report by ABC News affiliate WPBF-TV.

In southern California, 2,500 miles away from the Maui beach, sharks have residents on guard. Signs warning people of several great white sightings dot the shoreline. So far, the beaches have remained open.

Beachgoer Ryan Riske said the signs were a reality check.

“To hear [about] it and actually see a sign up, you know, it wakes you up a little bit,” Riske said on Thursday.

Cruse’s death would also be the latest in a long line of dangerous, close encounters in the U.S. In September, Ida Parker and Kristin Orr were kayaking in the water near White Horse Beach in Plymouth, Massachusetts, when a great white shark attacked. The two women were stunned, but not injured.

“It happened so fast,” Orr said. “I was talking to her and the next minute, I’m in the water, and I just see a shark biting my kayak.”

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“American Sniper” Widow Taya Kyle Says She Put Hate for Chris Kyle’s Killer Behind Her

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Taya Kyle, widow of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, now an advocate for veterans’ families, talked about having to face her husband’s murderer Eddie Ray Routh in court, and though forgiveness is still out of reach for her, she said hate is behind her.

“It’s okay not to understand all the reasons why. But to see how you can be better for it and what you can take away from it, how you can help others, because we all have something,” Taya Kyle told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in an exclusive interview that will air on a special edition of 20/20 on Friday, May 1, at 10 p.m.

“That’s why God tells us not to hate, because the moments where I had just disdain, disgust, like any focus on that person, it hurt me,” she added.

In the wake of her husband’s death, Taya Kyle has written her own book, American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Renewal, which details their love story, how she and her family dealt with his death, and her life as a military spouse. The book will be released on Monday, May 4, in collaboration with Jim DeFelice and published by William Morrow Publishers.

Nearly three years after coming home from Iraq for good, Chris Kyle became a bestselling author with American Sniper, also co-written with DeFelice, which chronicled his war experience. He also began helping fellow veterans adjust to civilian life by taking them to a Texas hunting resort, Rough Creek Lodge.

He found that hunting and target shooting helped veterans relax and open up.

On Feb. 2, 2013, Chris Kyle was doing just that with Routh, a Marine who graduated from the same high school a decade after Chris Kyle. Routh had served as a Marine in Iraq and was a rescue worker in Haiti after the deadly earthquakes.

Routh’s mother reached out to Chris Kyle for help with her son, who, after he returned home, was acting erratically, smoking marijuana, drinking heavily and even threatening suicide. Though he had never met Routh, Chris Kyle agreed and asked his friend Chad Littlefield to come with him and Routh to Rough Creek Lodge.

After waiting for Kyle to fire all his shots down range, Routh used one of Kyle’s 9mm handguns to shoot Littlefield six times, killing him. Routh then killed Kyle with six shots.

“Neither one of ’em saw it coming,” said Taya Kyle.

Routh, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, was convicted of capital murder in February 2015. He received an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Taya Kyle was a constant presence at the widely publicized trial, and testified for the prosecution.

“There’s a consequence for everything, and that goes back to the Bible for me,” Taya Kyle said of the verdict. “You can forgive somebody and still believe they need a consequence.”

Taya Kyle said being in the courtroom mere feet away from the man who murdered her husband brought on a wave of different emotions for her.

“When it was autopsy-type pictures and [Routh] would be staring at them, I wanted to come out of my seat, like, ‘Don’t you dare look at them in that vulnerable state, you don’t have the right,’” Taya Kyle said.

As part of his defense, Routh’s lawyers told the court that Routh didn’t understand that it was wrong to kill. The defense called family members, friends and psychiatrist Dr. Mitchell Dunn, who testified that Routh had serious mental-health issues before murdering Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. Dunn also said that Routh was schizophrenic with delusions that his co-workers were cannibals who wanted to eat him.

But forensic psychologist Randall Price, whom the prosecution called as a rebuttal witness among other forensic experts, testified that Routh knew that what he was doing was wrong and was faking schizophrenia.

Prior to his conviction, Routh had spent time in and out of mental hospitals. Routh’s lawyers said during the trial that Veterans Affairs doctors should not have released him. But Taya Kyle doesn’t believe mental illness or post-traumatic stress disorder excuses his actions.

“In this situation, though, you know, this guy manipulated, every time he got in trouble, he used some sort of excuse,” she said. “PTSD doesn’t cause you to murder people.”

Though she is still finding her way in a life without her husband, Taya Kyle said she is moving forward.

“I think everybody goes through things in their life where they’re like, ‘This does not make any sense,’ or ‘I don’t understand why this is happening,’ but that’s part of the journey of faith,” she said.

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Ex-FBI Agent Perjured Himself in ‘Whitey’ Mobster Trial, Prosecutors Say

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — The former assistant special agent in charge of the Boston FBI field office will be arraigned Thursday on federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with testimony in the case of notorious Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, prosecutors said.

Robert Fitzpatrick, the 73-year-old former number two leader of the Boston FBI office in the early- to mid-1980s, testified for Bulger’s defense in the gangster’s trial in 2013, which ended with a conviction and a life sentence for Bulger. Federal prosecutors said a warrant was issued for Fitzpatrick’s arrest and the former agent turned himself in on Thursday.

Fitzpatrick will be arraigned on six counts of perjury and six counts of obstruction of justice, said Christina Sterling, spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s in Boston. His arraignment will take place in the same court where the death penalty phase of the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is ongoing.

In an indictment filed on Tuesday, federal prosecutors said that during the Bulger trial, Fitzpatrick “made false material declarations to aid Bulger’s defense” and to “enhance his own credibility as a former FBI official by making false claims about his professional accomplishments as an FBI agent.”

Prosecutors said in the indictment that Fitzpatrick lied on the stand when he said that Bulger claimed to him that he didn’t consider himself an FBI informant. Fitzpatrick was also allegedly lying when he claimed he tried to get the FBI to dump Bulger as an informant. Rather, prosecutors said Fitzpatrick “never advocated that James Bulger be closed as an FBI informant.” For years, the indictment said, Fitzpatrick “falsely held himself out as a whistleblower who tried to end the FBI’s relationship with Bulger.”

As to claims unrelated to the Bulger case, but still made on the stand, prosecutors said Fitzpatrick was not telling the truth when he said he found the gun used to kill civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. While he was on the stand, the attorney questioning Fitzpatrick said it was Memphis, Tennessee police who actually recovered the weapon before it was turned over to the FBI.

The indictment also accuses Fitzpatrick of lying about arresting the head of the New England Mafia, Jerry Angiulo, in 1983. Prosecutors said that arrest was made by another FBI agent in Boston.

An attorney for Fitzpatrick, Robert Goldstein, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News, but told The Boston Globe his client “adamantly maintains his innocence and looks forward to challenging the government’s allegations in a courtroom as soon as possible.”

Bulger is serving a life sentence. Fitzpatrick is expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.

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New Timeline Revealed as Police Hand over Freddie Gray Investigation

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) — Baltimore police announced Thursday that newly obtained security camera footage showed that the police van transporting Freddie Gray made a previously unknown stop on the day he was arrested.

Detectives have now determined that the police wagon picked Gray up after he ran from police, made a stop that detectives did not know about before, made another stop, then made a third stop to pick up another prisoner, and then finally went to the police station, according to Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis, who headed the Baltimore Police Department’s investigation of the case.

The investigation into Gray’s death is ongoing after riots and looting erupted in the city earlier this week. Peaceful protests have resumed since after approximately 500 National Guard troops were deployed.

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