Review Category : National News

Theodore Wafer Testifies in His Defense at ‘Porch Shooting’ Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) — Theodore Wafer took the stand Monday to tell his side of the story of what happened the night he fatally shot Renisha McBride on his porch outside his suburban Detroit home.

Defense attorneys had previously refused to say whether Wafer, 55, would testify at his own murder trial. But after seven days of witness testimony, Wafer took the stand Monday afternoon.

When the judge asked how he was doing, Wafer replied that he was “nervous.”

Wafer is charged with second-degree murder in the death of McBride, 19, after she showed up on his porch in Dearborn Heights during the early morning of Nov. 2, 2013.

Last week, Dr. Werner Spitz, a forensic pathologist called by the defense, testified that he believed McBride had a concussion from the car crash. He added that McBride’s blood alcohol level would have caused her to experience a loss of judgement.

Also of interest to Spitz was an apparent laceration on McBride’s hand. He told the jury that she may have injured it from pounding on Wafer’s door. The testimony contradicted that of the medical examiner, who said he did not observe anything out of the ordinary on McBride’s hand during the autopsy.

Dr. Kilak Kesha, an assistant medical examiner from Wayne County, described McBride’s brain as “pulpified” and how the bullet wound the teen suffered proved catastrophic. He also told the jury that he wasn’t able to discern any other injuries.

Whether Wafer’s screen door was torn from a break-in attempt or if it was damaged from the bullets he allegedly fired at McBride will be a key question in the case, which is reminiscent of the George Zimmerman trial in Florida.

McBride, who is black, was shot in the face, falling on her back, with her feet facing Wafer’s door, prosecutors said.

Wafer, who is white, told police he didn’t know his gun was loaded and said he shot the unarmed teen by accident, according to a recording played to jurors.

Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must prove his or her life was in danger.

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Hypothermic Man Clings to Raft, Saved from Burning Boat

U.S. Coast Guard(PORT ANGELES, Wash.) — A Coast Guard aircrew over the weekend rescued a Washington man clinging to a life raft after his boat caught fire, authorities said.

The aircrew received the call around 11 a.m. Sunday regarding a burning vessel three miles north of Neah Bay, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The caller, who was described in a statement to ABC News as being a man in his mid-60s, 6-foot tall and 200 pounds, reported that his 25-foot pleasure craft Dawn Trader had gone up in flames — and that he had abandoned the ship and jumped into his life raft while donning a survival suit.

An aircrew, 25-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Neah Bay, and Good Samaritans aboard a nearby vessel all jumped to the rescue of the man, still clinging to the raft in 46-degree water.

“Based on deteriorating responsiveness of the survivor to our radio calls, we suspected he was near succumbing to hypothermia and feared he would lose consciousness,” said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Geraghty, aircraft commander, in a statement to ABC News.

The Coast Guard crews arrived at 11:50 a.m. to begin searching for the man among heavy vision impairing fog that prevented the crews from seeing more than 100 feet in front of them.

Finally, at noon, the man was found, authorities said.

“I reached the survivor rather quickly even with the sea state and distance first between us,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Johnston said. “I told him it would be loud and the rotor wash would be painful so please keep your eyes closed and I’ll take care of you.”

Johnston then picked the man up off of the raft since he had slowly become immobile due to extreme hypothermia — a process he described as “very challenging.”

Once in the helicopter, Johnston said he “got his attention and made him stay awake by talking to him and lightly squeezing his arm.”

The man was immediately transported to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles and is reportedly in a severe hypothermic state, though he was able to walk on his own to and from the helicopter, Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer told ABC News. There has been no reported change in the man’s condition.

Cmdr. Geraghty spoke out about the incident, crediting the man’s raft and handheld radio as the emergency measures that “most likely saved his life.”

“The extensive search area and difficult conditions we encountered would have made locating him nearly impossible had we not been able to hone in on his radio transmission with the helicopter’s direction finding system,” he said.

The at-sea rescue was a first for Dolphin aircrew’s aviation survival technician and light mechanic, making for quite the heroic teaching moment. Geraghty applauded the crew members, saying that they “performed exceptionally in an incredibly challenging environment.”

“This was a great rescue and superior job done by all the crew,” added Johnston. “Another person gets to go home and be with their loved ones. There is no greater feeling.”

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‘Porch Shooting’ Trial Resumes in Detroit

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) — The trial of a suburban Detroit man accused of fatally shooting an unarmed woman on his porch is entering its seventh day of testimony Monday.

Theodore Wafer, 55, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Renisha McBride, 19, after she showed up on his porch in Dearborn Heights during the early morning of Nov. 2, 2013.

Dr. Werner Spitz, a forensic pathologist called by the defense, testified last week that he believed McBride had a concussion from the car crash. He added that McBride’s blood alcohol level would have caused her to experience a loss of judgement.

Also of interest to Spitz was an apparent laceration on McBride’s hand. He told the jury that she may have injured it from pounding on Wafer’s door. The testimony contradicted that of the medical examiner, who said he did not observe anything out of the ordinary on McBride’s hand during the autopsy.

Dr. Kilak Kesha, an assistant medical examiner from Wayne County, described McBride’s brain as “pulpified” and how the bullet wound the teen suffered proved catastrophic. He also told the jury that he wasn’t able to discern any other injuries.

Whether Wafer’s screen door was torn from a break-in attempt or if it was damaged from the bullets he allegedly fired at McBride will be a key question in the case, which is reminiscent of the George Zimmerman trial in Florida.

McBride, who is black, was shot in the face, falling on her back, with her feet facing Wafer’s door, prosecutors said.

Wafer, who is white, told police he didn’t know his gun was loaded and said he shot the unarmed teen by accident, according to a recording played to jurors.

Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must prove his or her life was in danger.

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Mystery Animal Roams the Streets in California

City of Norwalk California-City Hall (NORWALK, Calif.) — Residents in Norwalk, California, are jittery over reports of an African lion possibly roaming the streets.

So far, only grainy security images of the mysterious creature have emerged, showing the animal prowling along the sidewalk.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife experts studied that footage. The cat-like animal is not a mountain lion, authorities determined.

“Department officials still cannot definitively identify the type of animal,” authorities said. “They will continue to investigate.”

Norwalk Mayor Marcel Rodarte is intrigued by the creature’s appearance.

“The tail doesn’t seem to match up to the physical traits of a mountain lion, so it is still a mystery,” Rodarte said.

Authorities with a local zoo claimed all the big cats are accounted for.

A similar lion scare occurred last year in Virginia — but that ominous animal turned out to be a bizarrely-coiffed labradoodle named Charles the Monarch. While dog-grooming tricks can confuse people from time to time, the gait of the mystery beast in California has residents concerned.

“We’ve got dogs and my sister got another little dog, so we’re all just making sure everybody keeps their pets inside,” resident Elizabeth Colon said.

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Toledo Mayor Says Northwest Ohio Water Is Safe

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(TOLEDO, Ohio) — Toledo, Ohio Mayor D. Michael Collins says his city’s water is now safe. Officials lifted a water ban that had affected 400,000 people in Ohio and Michigan possibly due to toxins from algae.

Saying there is no simple answer for what could have set off the water emergency, Mayor Collins reminded citizens to play it safe.

“We now as a result of this must recognize that we sit with 20 percent of the fresh water supply of the entire planet at our doorstep,” he said. “And if we don’t — if we hesitate to respect that, then we are going to jeopardize this entire corridor of our United States with the future of our children.”

Toledo officials over the weekend had warned its residents, and others in the area, not to drink or boil water from the tap after samples from the city’s water treatment plant showed high toxin levels.

Governor John Kasich declared a state of emergency Saturday. As many as 500,000 people were affected.

In an urgent notice posted to the city’s Facebook account, officials said water from the tap should not be consumed or boiled, as boiling water could have made the situation worse. The water could be dangerous to both humans and pets, the notice said.

The “do not drink” notice applied to all customers of Toledo Water — including all of Lucas County, Ohio, and some parts of Michigan.

Early Monday morning, city officials had been awaiting test results from the Environmental Protection Agency to determine when the water may be safe enough to drink.

The toxins appeared to have been caused by a harmful algal bloom. Consuming the toxins could cause abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness or dizziness. Anyone who believed they might have been exposed was urged to seek medical attention.

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Neighbor Arrested in North Carolina School Counselor’s Murder

iStock/Thinkstock(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) — A North Carolina man is scheduled to appear in court Monday for his first appearance on the charge of murder in the June death of a popular school counselor.

Sharman Odom, 34, was arrested Saturday, accused of murdering Maggie Daniels.

Daniels was found dead in her apartment June 28. According to police, physical evidence obtained during the course of the investigation connected Odom — a neighbor in the Windsor Apartment complex — to Daniels’ death.

Odom was arrested Saturday in Winston-Salem. He smirked as he was led out of the Newton police department, but declined to speak to gathered reporters.

Before her death, Daniels served as a counselor at Discovery High School in Newton, a 13,000-population town located northwest of Charlotte.
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Thousands Stranded, One Dead in California Mudslides

Credit: Cory Kay(FOREST FALLS, Calif.) — About 2,500 people were stranded after thunderstorms caused mountain mudslides in Southern California, while one person was found dead in a flooded creek Sunday, authorities said.

The mudslides swallowed cars, campers and vans. The debris flow engulfed one home. Emergency crews rescued the home’s resident.

One person was killed after swift-moving floods swept their car away, authorities said.

After arriving at a Forest Falls campground Sunday morning, 500 children and adults were left stranded.

The storm moved in quickly, snapping trees and sending a torrent of water rushing through the region. In Forest Falls, a wall of mud as high as 15 feet and up to 75 feet wide was reported.

In Mount Baldy, rescuers broke the windows of a car trapped underwater, making sure no one was inside. The vehicle was empty, a small shred of hope amid the devastation witnessed by residents such as Michael Scully.

Authorities made reverse 911 calls to urge residents to stay put while crews clear the roads with bulldozers.

All the water was desperately needed elsewhere in the state. In northern and central California, firefighters battled more than a dozen fires. Crews created a six-mile fire line to protect the town of Burney.

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Mom Arrested, Charged in 2-Year-Old Daughter’s Murder

iStock/Thinkstock(ASTORIA, Ore.) — Oregon police arrested a Washington woman on suspicion of aggravated murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter in a Cannon Beach hotel room, police said.

Jessica Smith, 40, from Goldendale, Wash., was found in her car on a logging road off of Highway 26, where she is believed to have been since the crime, police said at a news conference.

Smith’s daughter Isabella was found dead in a room at the Surfsand Hotel on Friday. Alana Smith, the woman’s 13-year-old daughter, was also in the room, seriously injured.

Smith faces attempted aggravated murder charges in connection with the 13-year-old girl’s multiple cuts and stab wounds, according to police.

The teen was flown to a hospital in Portland, where she was listed in stable condition following surgery. The teen could be discharged from the hospital within a few days.

Smith is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at Clatsop County Court in Astoria.

The father of the two children, Greg Smith, is not a suspect in the case and has been cooperating with police, officials said.

According to court records obtained by KATU-TV, the couple had recently filed for divorce and Jessica Smith had been denied her request for a restraining order against Greg Smith in July.

If convicted of aggravated murder, Smith could face the death penalty.

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Water Emergency Remains in Toledo, Ohio

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TOLEDO, Ohio) — The Ohio city of Toledo is continuing to warn its residents, and others in the area, not to drink or boil water from the tap after samples from the city’s water treatment plant showed high toxin levels.

Governor John Kasich declared a state of emergency Saturday. As many as 500,000 people are affected.

In an urgent notice posted to the city’s Facebook account, officials say water from the tap should not be consumed or boiled, as boiling water could make the situation worse. The water could be dangerous to both humans and pets.

The “do not drink” notice applies to all customers of Toledo Water — including all of Lucas County, Ohio, and some parts of Michigan.

Officials are awaiting test results from the Environmental Protection Agency to determine when the water may be safe enough to drink.

The toxins appear to have been caused by a harmful algal bloom. Consuming the toxins could cause abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness or dizziness. Anyone who believes they might have been exposed is urged to seek medical attention.

Alternative water should be used for all consumption, though officials believe the water is safe for bathing.

Understandably, finding bottled water is getting tougher since so many places that sell it have run out. The National Guard made a delivery of 33,000 gallons Sunday.

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Unruly Passenger Causes Diversion of American Airlines Flight

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Police arrested a New Mexico woman on Sunday after she became disorderly onboard an American Airlines flight on Sunday, forcing the plane to be diverted to Nashville.

A female passenger aboard a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Boston, allegedly became disorderly during the flight, rushing towards the cockpit and engaging in violent or threatening behavior. An arrest report indicated that she is also accused of punching a male flight attendant in the stomach. Police say she appeared slightly intoxicated.

The woman, 55, was charged with assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and three counts of assault of a law enforcement officer.

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