Review Category : National News

Federal Court Denies Change of Venue Request from Suspected Boston Marathon Bomber

FBI(BOSTON) — A federal appeals court in Massachusetts on Friday ruled against suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his attorneys, who had been calling for a change of venue in Tsarnaev’s trial.

A three-judge panel heard arguments from both Tsarnaev’s legal team, as well as that of the prosecution, determining by a two-to-one majority to deny the request. Noting that “any high-profile case will receive significant media attention” and thus “it is no surprise that people in general, and especially the well-informed, will be aware of it,” the jurors determined that “a jury anywhere in the country will have been exposed to some level of media attention” in this case. Jurors being aware of the case “does not equate to disqualifying prejudice,” the judges wrote.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers had argued that the media’s coverage would make it impossible to find a fair jury in Massachusetts. A circuit court judge had already denied the change of venue motion three times.

The judges cited numerous high-profile cases, including the prosecution of Zacharias Moussaoui, as well as comparing the bombing to the 1993 and 2001 attacks at New York’s World Trade Center, saying each event “received national and international attention.”

In a dissenting opinion, one judge wrote that while the trial is an opportunity for closure, “rather than convicting Tsarnaev and possibly sentencing him to death based on trial-by-media and raw emotion, we must put our emotions aside and proceed in a rational manner.” Specifically, he says, the courts must ensure that Tsarnaev receives a fair trial.

Jury selection for Tsarnaev’s trial is ongoing.

Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev are believed to have been the perpetrators of the April 15, 2013 bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 250.

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American Airlines Flight Delayed Nine Hours by Heavy Snow, Mechanical Problem

william87/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — What was supposed to be a nearly one-hour flight turned into a nine-hour ordeal for passengers on board an American Airlines plane delayed for hours because of icy conditions and a mechanical problem.

American Airlines flight 382 was scheduled to leave for Oklahoma City from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport at 1:45 p.m. CT Friday, but the plane was grounded until 10:48 p.m. CT.

“We get on the plane and it’s just one thing after another,” said passenger Brandon Sullivan.

Sullivan told ABC News that the plane sat at the gate for hours waiting for de-icing, which was delayed by heavy snow. After about five hours, a mechanical problem kept the plane grounded, said Sullivan.

“We get so excited, we get to the end of the runway and then we find out we have a mechanical problem,” he said.

American Airlines spokesperson Matt Miller apologized for the “frustrating experience,” adding that Friday “was a challenging day at DFW due to extreme weather impacting north Texas. The safety of our passengers and employees is always our top priority.”

Sullivan said passengers got agitated.

“People were obviously frustrated and there seemed to be no crew around there for a little bit,” he said. “People were going in the liquor fridge, pulling out whatever they wanted to drink. It got a little chaotic there for a little bit.”

Rachel Charlton, another passenger, called it an “up and down” experience.

“We were happy one second because we thought we were leaving and then the next second we were just deflated because we were turning back to the gate,” she said.

When the plane returned to a gate, Miller said the crew had to be replaced because they had worked for eight hours, which made it illegal for them to fly.

The flight eventually departed at 10:48 p.m. CT – more than nine hours after some of its passengers initially boarded. It landed in Oklahoma City about a half hour later, according to Flightaware.com.

Because the plane was not held on the tarmac, the delays did not violate the three-hour limit set by the Department of Transportation.

“Ten hours – it feels great to be home,” said Sullivan. “It’s incredibly stressful day. I don’t ever want to do that again.”

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Swastikas on California Home Have Neighbors Riled Up

ABC News(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Is a swastika-laden yard display at a Sacramento, California, house “vulgar” or is it an expression of free speech?

The display, which first started going up months ago, now features an army-green figure raising its arms, a Palestinian flag, and — in a recent addition — American and Israeli flags altered by swastikas, according to ABC News affiliate KXTV-TV. At night, it gets illuminated by Christmas lights.

Police received a complaint about the display this week and visited the home, but no illegal activity was found, police said. Neighbors also have expressed disgust about the display to the media.

The people listed as the owners of the home did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News. It was not clear that the owners also occupied the home.

There has been at least one small demonstration at the site, and now protesters have been joined in their outrage by a state legislator.

“Swastikas displayed on a house in the River Park section of Sacramento tarnish the neighborhood,” State Sen. Marty Block, chairman of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, said in a news conference Thursday, “And disrespect and dishonor the memory of tens of thousands of brave American soldiers … men and women who died for their country fighting Hitler’s henchmen who wore that very same symbol.”

Block, D-San Diego, said that while he recognizes the “cherished” freedom of speech, “My colleagues and I call on the owner of that house to voluntarily remove his vulgar display.”

Robert Roehrs, a neighbor who lives four houses away, said the neighborhood is otherwise a “very, very, quiet” suburb.

“I certainly don’t approve of [the display] and I don’t know who he is,” Roehrs told ABC News, adding that he first thought the display was part of Christmas decorations.

Roehrs, who has lived in his home since 1968, said he doesn’t know the identity of the resident, who has moved around some of the items over time.

“I think the guy accomplished what he wanted to accomplish, in my opinion,” Roehrs said. “He got a lot of publicity and a lot of notoriety. He hasn’t talked to anyone, apparently. We had a lot of traffic around here. Normally, we don’t get more than two or three cars an hour.”

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Missing Log Cabin Found 3,750 Feet Away from Original Location

Klamath County Sheriff’s Department(KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.) — A man returned to his property in Oregon earlier this week only to find that his log cabin was gone.

It wasn’t wrecked from bad weather or bulldozed to the ground. The entire building was just not there.

Police eventually found the cabin 3,750 feet away from its original location and now believe they have figured out who took it.

The case appears to involve a complicated ownership agreement regarding the property, a fire at the main house on the land that displaced the people who had lived there, and changing romantic relationships, according to investigators from the Klamath Falls Sheriff’s Department.

“Quite frankly, it’s one of the most unusual moments I’ve ever seen,” Sheriff Frank Skrah said at a news conference Thursday.

The approximately 1,200-square-foot cabin was a secondary building on a larger property that was jointly-owned by three individuals — a man, his ex-wife and the ex-wife’s former flame.

The former flame built the cabin and was the only person listed on the home loan, sheriff’s officials said. However, the other man allegedly then sold the cabin to a neighbor without the owner’s permission, the officials added.

The former flame returned to the property on Tuesday for the first time in months to find the log cabin missing and then reported it to police.

Police were able to determine that the neighbor who paid $3,000 for the cabin had no idea it was stolen.

The home was first listed as $10,000, but the buyer was able to haggle down the price, officials said.

“To quote him, ‘It was a steal of a deal,'” a sheriff’s department official said at a news conference on Thursday.

The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed.

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‘Hot Convict’ Jeremy Meeks Plans His Modeling Future from Prison

Stockton Police Department via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — “Hot Convict” Jeremy Meeks says he’s eager to serve out his sentence and is looking ahead to starting a career in modeling and acting.

“I’m in a place where I will be able to provide for my family and really change my life,” Meeks told ABC News from a Nevada prison. “I never thought that everyone in the world would recognize me for my looks, so I feel extremely blessed and very thankful.”

The chisel-jawed, blue-eyed Californian became an Internet sensation last year when his mug shot went viral after the Stockton Police Department posted it on its Facebook page. Meeks was sentenced several weeks ago to 27 months of prison on weapon charges, but hopes for a November release that accounts for time served and good behavior.

Meeks is now working with agent Jim Jordan of White Cross Management and said he plans to take full advantage of his viral fame.

In preparation for his release and foray into modeling, Meeks said that he is working on getting ripped.

“I eat healthy. I do a lot of push-ups, pull-ups, dips, burpees, and I stay very active,” he said.

Meeks said he wants to try his hand at both modeling and acting. “I wish I could be on a show like Sons of Anarchy,” said Meeks.

Jordan is confident Meeks’ notoriety can propel him into a successful career. “There is a sea of opportunities waiting for him,” Jordon said, who is working to set Meeks up with “modeling agencies around the world, endorsement deals and reality show interests.”

As for that mug shot, Meeks said he wasn’t intentionally giving his best “blue steel” for the picture.

“I was just thinking about missing my family,” he said. “I was really thinking about my son a lot at that moment, that was the only thing that was on my mind.”

Until then, Meeks said he is keeping his head down and relying on backing from the outside.

“I’ve got a lot of support my family, my friends, and from my fans — I get hundreds and hundreds of letters every month. I’m very thankful for all the support I’ve been getting,” Meeks said.

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Jameis Winston Rape Accuser Speaks Out in Film

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The woman who accused football star Jameis Winston of rape is speaking out in a new film.

Erica Kinsman shared her story in The Hunting Ground, which filmmakers say seeks to expose the epidemic of violence and institutional cover-ups sweeping college campuses across America.

According to Kinsman, the alleged incident occurred at Winston’s off-campus apartment on Dec. 7, 2012 following a night of drinking. At the time, she was a student at Florida State University, and Winston was the university’s superstar quarterback.

“I just want to know, ‘Why me?’” she said in the film, which is appearing in theaters starting Friday. “It doesn’t really make sense.”

Kinsman told filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick that when she identified her alleged rapist, she was told by the lead detective, “This is a huge football town. You really should think long and hard about whether you want to press charges or not.”

While the Tallahassee Police’s handling of the case has been criticized, no charges were filed in the case, with Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs citing insufficient evidence. Winston — who has maintained that the encounter was consensual — was also cleared in a university code of conduct hearing.

Winston is slated to be one of the top picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

Ziering contends that Florida State University’s desire to protect its reputation, and the athlete involved, contributed to how the case was handled.

“Here’s a family that really believed in law enforcement, really believed in their school, in their institution, could not imagine it would not do the right thing by them,” Ziering said.

Kinsman eventually left the university. The filmmakers noted Kinsman faced backlash after coming forward.

“The reprisals she experienced…she received all kinds of very aggressive comments on social media,” Dick said.

A university official told ABC News FSU was not aware Kinsman ever said she felt driven out of the university, adding that university officials “went to extraordinary lengths to support her.”

“FSU uses a nationally recognized victim-centered approach in handling sexual assault complaints, and our victim advocate professionals were by Ms. Kinsman’s side throughout this case,” said Browning Brooks, assistant vice president for university communications. “She was provided academic accommodations regarding class schedules and exams, access to counseling and was informed about all of her options in deciding whether to initiate criminal or student conduct charges under Title IX.”

The filmmakers are thankful that the subjects in The Hunting Ground agreed to participate in the movie, and believe that the victims’ voices can help people to consider the significance of college sexual assaults.

“I hope it radically changes the way our culture and our country views this issue and views these crimes,” Ziering said.

The Hunting Ground, which was shown at Sundance Film Festival, features a Lady Gaga song with Diane Warren, “Til It Happens to You.”

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‘Just So Tragic': Mom of Slain Hostage Pities ‘Jihadi John,’ Mohammed Emwazi

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) — The parents of an American journalist beheaded by terrorists on video expressed pity for the “tragic” choices by their son’s apparent killer, “Jihadi John,” but said ISIS must be destroyed.

Hours after the masked man’s identity was revealed Thursday by The Washington Post and confirmed by government officials, slain journalist James Foley’s mother Diane told ABC News that she was surprised to learn alleged ISIS “executioner” Mohammed Emwazi came from a “well-to-do” family in London.

“He had a privileged background, if you will,” Foley said, referring to Emwazi’s purportedly middle class background and college degree in computer science from the University of Westminster. “So, to me, it’s just tragic that he would, such a talented young man would lose his way and become part of such a brutal network as ISIS.”

“It’s not all about him. It’s about, you know, this whole culture of hate and brutality and all that ISIS is. I mean, if it hadn’t been this young man, it would have been another one. This young man is one of the very saddest,” she said.

But that’s as much as Foley said she’s willing to think about Emwazi.

Asked how she reacted as a mom to the public disclosure of the name of the man who drew a knife across her son’s neck on video, she replied, “We would like, you know — ISIS needs to be stopped.”

James’s father, John Foley, agreed that Emwazi is only one of the terrorists who must face justice for brutally slaying their son and so many others. If ever captured alive, he might not attend his trial. “I doubt it. I really doubt it. I mean I’m not interested in who he is or what he’s done. I’m done with the guy,” he told ABC News in Tucson.

The Foleys spoke to University of Arizona journalism students on Wednesday on a visit to the desert southwest state and said they may visit the family of another American killed while in ISIS hands, Kayla Mueller of Prescott.

Before Foley’s death, his family was able to assemble a team of hostage negotiators to hunt for their son.

When some Spanish and French hostages were ransomed in March and April last year, the team debriefed them and learned that all the Westerners, including James and Kayla, were held captive together as a group at sites near Raqqa, Syria — intelligence they feel the U.S. government didn’t act on fast enough.

“Obviously, at that point we wanted as much as possible to be done to secure his release and that obviously didn’t happen,” John Foley said on Wednesday in the interview.

A raid by an entire squadron of America’s elite Delta Force hit an aging oil refinery site on July 3. But President Obama recently told BuzzFeed News that they missed the hostages being moved by “one or two days.”

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Nine Found Dead in Missouri

John Roman/iStock/Thinkstock(TYRONE, Mo.) — The Texas County Sheriff’s Department in Missouri says nine people were found dead in the area of Tyrone on Thursday evening.

At about 10:15 p.m. Thursday, the TCSD responded to a reported disturbance called in by a young girl who said she heard gunshots. The girl had fled to a neighbor’s house to alert authorities.

Deputies responding to the scene found two people dead inside the home. Further investigation revealed five dead victims and one person who had been wounded in three additional residences. A separate residence contained an elderly woman who appeared to have died of natural causes, while a ninth body was found in a vehicle in Shannon County.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says that the dead individual in the vehicle, identified as a suspect, appeared to have suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The injured victim was taken to a nearby hospital, the MSHP says.

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Inmates Attack Seven Correctional Officers at SC Prison

DanHenson1/iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — A South Carolina prison was briefly placed on lockdown Thursday after a number of inmates attacked correctional officers.

According to the South Carolina Department of Corrections, seven officers at Lee Correctional Institution were attempting to search an inmate when they were assaulted by “multiple inmates.” All seven officers received medical attention outside the prison and have since been released.

Two inmates were seen by medical staff at the prison and do not require additional treatment, the South Carolina Department of Corrections said. It was not immediately clear whether the inmates injured were involved in the attack.

Lee Correctional Institution is a maximum-security institution meant for violent offenders and inmates with behavioral problems, according to the state Department of Corrections website.

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Texas Rep. Introduces Bill to Posthumously Award Medal of Honor to “American Sniper” Chris Kyle

Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, introduced a bill on Thursday that would call for President Obama to posthumously award “American Sniper” Chris Kyle with the Medal of Honor.

Kyle, the Navy Seal on whom the movie American Sniper was based, “gave the ultimate sacrifice and served his nation with distinction and bravery while saving countless American lives,” Williams said in a release. “There is no doubt that this true American hero is worth of our nation’s highest military honor.”

Kyle served four tours in Iraq and is credited with the most confirmed kills in U.S. military history.

After leaving the military in 2009, Kyle had worked with wounded veterans, including spending time with them on the shooting range. On Feb. 2, 2013, Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield took former Marine Eddie Ray Routh to a shooting range, where Routh fatally shot and killed them both.

Routh was found guilty of capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

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