Review Category : National News

Facebook Friend Request Spat Leads to Arrest

Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(LARGO, Fla.) — A spat over a Facebook friend request resulted in a 72-year-old woman being slapped and another woman being arrested, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities say Rachel Anne Hayes, 27, became upset when the alleged victim refused to accept her friend request on Facebook because she felt the name Hayes was using was “inappropriate.”

“The victim told Hayes she would be willing to accept the request if she would change the name,” the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Hayes left the home where the two were arguing and returned a short time later, according to authorities, at which point she allegedly continued the argument at the front door.

Authorities said Hayes slapped the alleged victim “several times” before she was able to retreat inside the home and lock the door.

Hayes was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on Thursday afternoon on suspicion of felony aggravated battery on an elderly person. She has been released on $10,000 bond.

She has not yet entered a plea and it was unclear whether Hayes had hired an attorney.

The Facebook name that allegedly set the argument in action was not released by authorities. However, Facebook has a well-known policy of requiring users to use the name they identify with in real life.

“Asking everyone to use their real name grounds the community in reality and ties it back to all the real-world relationships that we have,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a town hall earlier this month.

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Aurora Theater Shooter James Holmes ‘Is Not a Monster,’ Parents Say

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office(NEW YORK) — The parents of James Holmes, the man accused in a 2012 movie theater rampage in Colorado, said their son “is not a monster” and expressed hopes that he gets institutionalized in their first public statement since the attack.

“We love our son, we have always loved him and we do not want him to be executed. We also decry the need for a trial,” said Robert and Arlene Holmes in a statement released Friday through a lawyer, Lisa Damiani.

The Aurora, Colorado, attack left 12 dead and 70 injured. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

His parents, who declined previous interview requests, said a trial would be devastating for relatives and survivors.

“A lengthy trial requires everyone to relive those horrible moments in time, causing additional trauma. In the criminal justice system, the prosecution and defense can agree to a sentence of life in prison, without parole, in exchange for a guilty plea,” Robert and Arlene Holmes said. “If that happened, our son would be in prison the rest of his life, but no one would have to relive those horrible events at a trial the media has permission to televise.”

The parents said they are aware that people want their son to be executed.

“We have read postings on the Internet that have likened him to a monster. He is not a monster. He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness. We believe that the death penalty is morally wrong, especially when the condemned is mentally ill,” the statement read.

Earlier this month, the judge overseeing the case refused to delay the trial, despite defense attorneys’ request for more time to review massive amounts of evidence.

“This case has been pending for 2 1/2 years,” Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. wrote in his 20-page order. “Counsel, their skilled experts and their staff have had a considerable amount of time to prepare for trial.”

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America Conducted Fewest Executions Since 1994

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Death Penalty Information Center on Thursday released its annual report, which found that America conducted the fewest executions in 20 years in 2014.

The report says that just 35 executions took place in 2014 in seven states, the smallest number of people put to death since 1994. Also in 2014, only 72 people received death sentences, the smallest number in the 40 years of the modern death penalty.

Three states — Texas, Missouri and Florida — accounted for 80 percent of the country’s executions.

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Ohio Supreme Court Says Traffic Camera Can Stay

Timothy Epp/iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — The Supreme Court of Ohio on Thursday upheld the city of Toledo’s automated traffic camera system used to catch drivers who run red lights or commit speeding violations.

According to the court documents, the court heard arguments from an Ohio man who claimed that the policy “usurps the jurisdiction of the municipal court, is unconstitutionally vague and violates due process.” The crux of the complaint is that the appeal process through which a motorist would have to go if they were to contest a camera-issued ticket is established by the Toledo Police Department.

The state supreme court says that the Toledo law “does not offend…the Ohio Constitution” and that cities are within their rights to establish automated ticketing systems.

Three justices wrote a dissenting opinion, arguing that the city council did not have the power to limit a municipal court’s jurisdiction, as they believe the Toledo system does.

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New York AG Sends Cease-and-Desist Letters to Companies Selling Realistic-Looking Toy Guns

sunstock/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Thursday that his office has sent cease-and-desist letters to retailers including Walmart, Amazon and Kmart, urging them to stop selling toy guns that break New York state law by lacking distinguishing designs from the real thing.

“When toy guns are mistaken for real guns,” Schneiderman said, “there can be tragic consequences.” The law prohibits the sale of toy guns in realistic colors — such as black, blue, silver or aluminum — unless it has a non-removable, one-inch-wide orange stripe running down the sides and front end of the barrel.

“New York State law is clear,” Schneiderman added, “retailers cannot put children and law enforcement at risk by selling toy guns that are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.”

Schneiderman’s office also sent cease-and-desist letters to ToyArsenal.com and Sears.

At least four people have been killed and one child seriously injured since 1997 due to law enforcement officers mistaking toy guns for real guns.

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Mystery in Texas Meteorologist’s Shooting Deepens

KCEN/Facebook(WACO, Texas) — Police in Texas don’t have a suspect or a motive in the shooting of a TV meteorologist in the station’s parking lot on Wednesday.

The suspect fled on foot as the weatherman was able to drive a short distance in his bullet-ridden car to get help.

“We are actively looking for [the suspect],” Trooper D.L. Wilson told ABC News Thursday. “We had troopers out overnight, but we didn’t get any calls of suspicious people. We can’t rule out that he’s not in the area, but more than likely, he’s left the area.”

Because there is no specific search area, police are “kind of scaling back,” he added.

Police are interviewing the victim, KCEN-TV’s Patrick Crawford, and trying to get enough information for a forensic sketch of the suspect.

The man shot Crawford at least twice on Wednesday as he was getting into his car outside the Bruceville-Eddy, Texas, TV station, and left 11 bullet holes in his vehicle, Wilson said.

“Mr. Crawford is advising he has never seen this man before,” the trooper said.

The suspect has been described as a white male, 30 to 35 years old, with a medium build and a receding hairline.

“We’ll do our best, follow any leads, and hopefully we can track this gentleman down,” Wilson said.

Crawford’s wife Heather Brinkmann, who is also a meteorologist at the station, posted an update on her Facebook page Wednesday night to say her husband is in stable condition.

KCEN-TV reported that police were at the station Thursday, checking IDs of everyone driving in the parking lot.

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Mystery in Texas Meteorologist’s Shooting Deepens

KCEN/Facebook(WACO, Texas) — Police in Texas don’t have a suspect or a motive in the shooting of a TV meteorologist in the station’s parking lot on Wednesday.

The suspect fled on foot as the weatherman was able to drive a short distance in his bullet-ridden car to get help.

“We are actively looking for [the suspect],” Trooper D.L. Wilson told ABC News Thursday. “We had troopers out overnight, but we didn’t get any calls of suspicious people. We can’t rule out that he’s not in the area, but more than likely, he’s left the area.”

Because there is no specific search area, police are “kind of scaling back,” he added.

Police are interviewing the victim, KCEN-TV’s Patrick Crawford, and trying to get enough information for a forensic sketch of the suspect.

The man shot Crawford at least twice on Wednesday as he was getting into his car outside the Bruceville-Eddy, Texas, TV station, and left 11 bullet holes in his vehicle, Wilson said.

“Mr. Crawford is advising he has never seen this man before,” the trooper said.

The suspect has been described as a white male, 30 to 35 years old, with a medium build and a receding hairline.

“We’ll do our best, follow any leads, and hopefully we can track this gentleman down,” Wilson said.

Crawford’s wife Heather Brinkmann, who is also a meteorologist at the station, posted an update on her Facebook page Wednesday night to say her husband is in stable condition.

KCEN-TV reported that police were at the station Thursday, checking IDs of everyone driving in the parking lot.

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‘Slender Man’ Stabbing Suspects Competent to Stand Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(WAUKESHA, Wis.) — Two Wisconsin girls who allegedly stabbed a friend over Slender Man were found competent on Thursday to stand trial.

A Wisconsin judge found 13-year-old Anissa Weier competent, while the second suspect, Morgan Geyser, waived her right to a hearing and was, as a result, ruled competent.

Testimony from three doctors who evaluated Weier — one hired by the prosecution, the other two by her defense — presented their findings before the judge.

The prosecution’s doctor found her competent, while the defense’s doctors found her incompetent.

When Weier herself was asked by Judge Michael Bohren if she considered herself competent, Weier said, “I consider myself incompetent, sir.”

By stating such, under Wisconsin law, Weier set a very high burden of proof for the prosecution to clear and the judge ruled that they had met the burden.

Later in the day, a second hearing to determine Geyser’s competency was waived by the teen’s lawyers, agreeing with a doctor’s opinion that she is competent. The judge agreed and as a result Geyser was ruled to be in fact competent.

According to investigators, Geyser and Weier from Waukesha, Wisconsin, decided they wanted to be with Slender Man, a fictional horror character born from a dark corner of the Internet.

In stories they read about him online, Slender Man kidnaps and kills children. Not only did the girls believe he was real, police said, they were convinced the only way to get in his good graces was to kill someone.

But Slender Man isn’t real. And their friend, a girl named Payton Leutner, survived being stabbed last May with a large kitchen knife 19 times.

All three girls were 12 at the time.

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Judge Finds ‘Slender Man’ Stabbing Suspect Competent to Stand Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(WAUKESHA, Wis.) — A Wisconsin judge found 13-year-old Slender Man stabbing suspect Anissa Weier competent to stand trial on Thursday.

Testimony from three doctors who evaluated Weier — one hired by the prosecution, the other two by her defense — were heard in court.

The prosecution’s doctor found her competent, while the defense’s doctors found her incompetent.

When Weier herself was asked by Judge Michael Bohren if she considered herself competent, Weier said, “I consider myself incompetent, sir.”

By stating such, under Wisconsin law, Weier set a very high burden of proof for the prosecution to clear and the judge ruled that they had met the burden.

A second hearing to determine the competency of the other suspect, Morgan Geyser, is set Thursday for 2:30 p.m. ET.

According to investigators, Geyser and Weier from Waukesha, Wisconsin, decided they wanted to be with Slender Man, a fictional horror character born from a dark corner of the Internet. In stories they read about him online, Slender Man kidnaps and kills children.

Not only did the girls believe he was real, police said, they were convinced the only way to get in his good graces was to kill someone.

But Slender Man isn’t real. And their friend, a girl named Payton Leutner, survived being stabbed last May with a large kitchen knife 19 times.

All three girls were 12 at the time.

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Al Sharpton Meets with Sony’s Amy Pascal over Hacked Emails

Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Rev. Al Sharpton met with Sony Chairman Amy Pascal Thursday morning about the racial remarks in private emails that were leaked after the company was hacked, and while he said that they discussed possible routes for improved relations, he did not let her off the hook.

“The jury is still out with where we go with Amy,” Sharpton said at a news conference after his meeting with Pascal.

Pascal is the chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and her emails were a main target in the hack. She has already apologized for the contents of the emails, but said that the private messages “are not an accurate reflection of who I am.”

That was not enough for Sharpton, however, who said that she called his advocacy organization, the National Action Network, as soon as the inappropriate remarks were released.

“I said to her at that time that the climate and environment of Hollywood only confirms the type of language that was used in those emails,” Sharpton said Thursday.

“Being that Hollywood is an environment that still resembles 1950s America, it is a context that confirms the language,” he said.

Sharpton did confirm that the National Action Network, as well as the NAACP, the National Urban League and the Black Women’s Roundtable, will work with executives from Sony about ways to increase and improve racial diversity in the entertainment industry.

“Our interest is in changing Hollywood…seeing to it that Sony is on the right side of changing Hollywood,” said Mark Morial, the president of the National Urban League, who appeared alongside Sharpton during Thursday’s new conference.

Both men concluded their comments by condemning the hack itself, with Sharpton slamming the “dangerous precedent” that was set by what Sharpton described as a foreign government being able to “manipulate and bully the American corporate structure.”

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