Review Category : National News

“American Sniper” Trial: How Jurors Reached Their Guilty Verdict

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Six of the jurors who found a former Marine guilty of murdering famed Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and Kyle’s friend Chad Littlefield said they believe Eddie Ray Routh knew the difference between right and wrong when he pulled the trigger on Feb. 2, 2013.

The jurors — speaking exclusively Wednesday to ABC News — said they spent time going over the facts in the case before reaching the verdict, which comes with a sentence of life in prison. Juror Barrett Hutchinson said the jurors ruled out the possibility that Routh was insane at the time of the shooting, a possibility discussed by mental health experts during the trial.

“Without a doubt,” Hutchinson told ABC News, when asked if Routh knew right from wrong. “He knew the consequences of pulling the trigger the first time.”

After fatally shooting Littlefield, Routh then shot Kyle before leading police on a chase.

Routh pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and his attorneys argued that the former Marine had mental disorders and was in the grips of psychosis at the time of the gun range shootings.

Under Texas law, even if a person was suffering from a mental illness, they can be found guilty as long as they understood that what they did was wrong.

Christina Yeager said she and her fellow jurors wondered whether Routh was faking the depths of his psychosis at the time of the shooting.

“I know a lot of us came in this jury questioning that, but evidence showed there was a real definite pattern there, when it came to his earlier convictions,” Yeager said, discussing Routh’s pattern of drug or alcohol abuse, followed by police trouble and claims of post-traumatic stress disorder.

While many of the jurors avoided reading Kyle’s book or watching the blockbuster movie that it inspired, Hutchinson admitted that he watched the film, and said that it helped him understand Kyle’s role as a Navy SEAL.

“You just put that to the side, and take in the facts and make your own judgment. I put [movie details] out of my mind, and looked at Chris as a person, looked at Chad as a person, looked at Eddie as a person,” said Hutchinson, who did not specify when he saw the film.

The jury consisted of 10 women and two men, and was tasked with choosing from three possible decisions: guilty, not guilty, or not guilty by reason of insanity. State prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in the case.

The trial lasted for nine days, and jurors deliberated for more than two hours before reaching the verdict.

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“American Sniper” Trial: Verdict Reached in Double Murder Case

Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images(STEPHENVILLE, Texas) — A Texas jury has reached a verdict at the trial of a former Marine accused of murdering famed Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and Kyle’s friend Chad Littlefield.

The verdict, which has not yet been revealed, will be read Tuesday evening.

Eddie Ray Routh has been on trial for the February 2013 murders of Kyle and Littlefield at a Texas gun range.

The judge instructed the jury of 10 women and two men that they were to consider three possible decisions: guilty, not guilty, or not guilty by reason of insanity.

State prosecutors have made it clear that they would not be seeking the death penalty in the case, and while the sentence for murder is life in prison, Routh’s sentence officially will come at a later court hearing.

Routh pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and his attorneys have argued that the former Marine had mental disorders and was in the grips of psychosis when he fatally shot Kyle and Littlefield during a trip to a gun range on Feb. 2, 2013.

During the 9-day trial, the prosecution and the defense have presented dueling testimony from mental health experts about whether Routh was insane when he committed the murders.

Under Texas law, even if a person was suffering from a mental illness, they can be found guilty as long as they understood that what they did was wrong.

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“American Sniper” Trial: Verdict Reached in Double Murder Case

Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images(STEPHENVILLE, Texas) — A Texas jury has reached a verdict at the trial of a former Marine accused of murdering famed Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and Kyle’s friend Chad Littlefield.

The verdict, which has not yet been revealed, will be read Tuesday evening.

Eddie Ray Routh has been on trial for the February 2013 murders of Kyle and Littlefield at a Texas gun range.

The judge instructed the jury of 10 women and two men that they were to consider three possible decisions: guilty, not guilty, or not guilty by reason of insanity.

State prosecutors have made it clear that they would not be seeking the death penalty in the case, and while the sentence for murder is life in prison, Routh’s sentence officially will come at a later court hearing.

Routh pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and his attorneys have argued that the former Marine had mental disorders and was in the grips of psychosis when he fatally shot Kyle and Littlefield during a trip to a gun range on Feb. 2, 2013.

During the 9-day trial, the prosecution and the defense have presented dueling testimony from mental health experts about whether Routh was insane when he committed the murders.

Under Texas law, even if a person was suffering from a mental illness, they can be found guilty as long as they understood that what they did was wrong.

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Metrolink Crash: Truck Driver Arrested on Felony Hit-and-Run Charge

KABC-TV(OXNARD, Calif.) — The driver whose truck was involved in a crash with a Southern California Metrolink commuter train that left at least 28 people injured has been arrested on a felony hit-and-run charge, police said Tuesday night.

The driver was identified as Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez, who had a valid commercial driver’s license from Arizona, Oxnard Police Department Assistant Police Chief Jason Benites said.

Ramirez fled the scene but was found uninjured 1.6 miles away from the accident scene, and was not in the truck at the time of the collision, Benites said.

Police originally said the driver was arrested, but Benites said later Tuesday he had been stopped but was not under arrest. Tuesday evening, however, charges were announced.

Ramirez, 54, was driving a produce truck when he turned right onto the tracks, eventually getting stuck on the tracks, Benites said. Minutes after the crash, Benites said, an officer found the driver and said he looked disoriented.

The driver was taken to a hospital for observation.

Others injured included people with head trauma and neck and back injuries who were taken to a hospital.

Police said at least four people were critically injured, including the engineer. The conductor and another crew member were injured, treated and released from the hospital, officials said.

The train was heading towards downtown Los Angeles when it crashed early Tuesday morning after striking the truck in the rail crossing.

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EXCLUSIVE: Hope Solo Talks to ABC’s Robin Roberts About Domestic Violence Assault Allegations, Soccer Suspension

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — U.S. women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo opened up to ABC’s Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts about her recent suspension from the sport and alleged domestic violence assault charges that were brought against her but later dropped.

Solo, who plays professionally for Seattle Reign and belongs to the U.S. national women’s soccer team, addressed being suspended after the U.S. Soccer team van her husband was driving and in which she was a passenger was pulled over last month.

Her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

When Roberts asked Solo, 33, what she was thinking during that incident, the two-time Olympic gold medalist replied: “Well, clearly, I wasn’t thinking. I mean, it was a horrible choice….I think I just wasn’t in a good place, emotionally, to even make good decisions. I mean, it’s not an excuse but I just, it was stupid. Should’ve called a taxi.”

Solo served a 30-day suspension from soccer and was reinstated on Saturday.

Roberts also talked with Solo about domestic violence charges that were brought against her last year following a dispute at a family gathering in Seattle.

Solo had been accused of assaulting her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew, and had been charged with two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault to which she pleaded not guilty. The charges were dropped in January shortly before a trial was scheduled to begin.

Unlike male professional sports players in similar legal trouble — including several high-profile domestic violence cases in the NFL — Solo was not suspended.

“How do you respond to those critics who say, ‘Hey wait a minute…is that fair?’” Roberts asked.

“All of us, in my opinion, have a fundamental right to be considered innocent until proven guilty….I know U.S. Soccer took a lot of heat,” she said. “But I am very grateful that they let due process play itself out. Those eight months were some of the worst months of my entire life.”

The full interview with Solo is scheduled to air Wednesday morning on ABC’s Good Morning America.

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Police Dash Cam Captures New Jersey House Exploding in Blast That Injured 15

Stafford Police Department(STAFFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J.) — A police car’s dashboard camera captured a massive explosion on Tuesday that completely destroyed a house and reportedly injured 15 people, two critically, in Stafford Township, New Jersey.

The explosion occurred at 10:32 a.m. as workers were trying to locate the source of a leak that filled the neighborhood with the smell of gas, and many of the injured were gas company workers and emergency responders, ABC News affiliate WPVI-TV reported.

Area homes were being evacuated around the time of the explosion, according to the Stafford Township Police Twitter page.

Gas main break at RT9 & Oak Ave. Homes in immediate area being evacuated. NJ Gas is, actively correcting problem. http://t.co/1acNYo81Jw

— Stafford Police NJ (@StaffordPolice) February 24, 2015

Stafford Township Police did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

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“American Sniper” Trial: Eddie Ray Routh Says the Killings ‘Tore My Heart Out When I Did It’

Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images(STEPHENVILLE, Texas) — The ninth and possibly last day of the American Sniper trial continued Tuesday with more rebuttal evidence presented by the prosecution, including additional tapes from a jailhouse interview that Routh had with a reporter from The New Yorker.

Excerpts from the interview were already played during the prosecution’s initial portion of the case, but the recordings played Tuesday included a different call where defendant Eddie Ray Routh is heard saying “I don’t know why I did it. But I did it.”

“It tore my f****** heart out when I did it,” Routh is heard saying, suggesting that Routh was aware of what he had done when he shot famed Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and Kyle’s friend Chad Littlefield.

Routh’s defense team has argued that Routh was insane at the time, and hence not responsible for his actions.

The testimony on Tuesday began with a crime scene analyst who said that evidence suggested Kyle had no idea that he was about to be shot.

Howard Ryan recreated the 2013 crime scene and determined that Kyle was “definitely not facing the shooter” and “absolutely never saw this coming.”

Kyle and Littlefield were shot dead by Routh, a former Marine, at a Texas gun range in February 2013 and Routh has plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Ryan said that his analysis of the blood patterns and the crime scene indicates that Littlefield was killed first by being shot in the head while he was on his knees, and Kyle was killed second. Both men were killed quickly and at close range, he said.

The defense also re-called Dr. Mitchell Dunn, the psychiatrist who concluded that Routh was insane in earlier testimony. Dunn said today that the forensic psychologist hired by the prosecution, who concluded that Routh was not insane, used flawed methods.

Dunn was one of the final rebuttal witnesses that took the stand before Assistant Attorney General Jane Starnes began with the state’s closing arguments. The judge ruled that the jury will hear both closing arguments this evening and be left to consider three possible verdicts: innocent, guilty, or guilty by reason of insanity.

Starnes went through the various points that the prosecution believes indicates that Routh knew what he was doing was wrong — which is the defining legal characteristic of sanity — listing how he fled from police, knew that he would be jailed, and showed remorse shortly after the killings.

She also said that it was a “load of hogwash” that Routh allegedly believed Kyle and Littlefield were hybrid “pig assassins.”

The defense team took turns addressing the jury, with attorney Tim Moore urging jurors to decide with their conscience and not to be swayed by what they believe the public would think about their decision.

Attorney Shay Isham then argued that Routh was not fleeing the crime scene in a typical manner, as seen by Routh’s documented stop at a Taco Bell hours after the shooting.

A third defense attorney, Warren St. John, spoke to Routh’s mental state, and the duty of the jurors.

“You’ll never have as much power today as you will for the rest of your life,” St. John said.

“He killed those men because he had a disillusion, he believed in his mind they were going to kill him,” St. John said.

Routh’s defense team has argued that the former Marine was in the grips of psychosis and did not know that what he was doing was wrong when he killed the two men. Prosecutors contend that he was sane and should be found guilty of the two murders. If found guilty, 25-year-old Routh faces life in prison.

Kyle’s confirmed kills in Iraq earned him the distinction of being the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. His autobiography was the basis for the movie American Sniper.

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Trayvon Martin: DOJ Announces No Charges Against George Zimmerman

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — While the public waits for a Justice Department announcement over two separate investigations spurred by the summer shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, the department announced Tuesday it is closing its investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Justice Department officials met with Martin’s family on Tuesday, and were told that they will not be filing charges against George Zimmerman, who shot the 17-year-old after a confrontation in 2012. Thursday marks three years to the day since Martin was killed.

Federal prosecutors concluded there is not sufficient evidence to prove Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla., intentionally violated Martin’s civil rights.

“Although the department has determined that this matter cannot be prosecuted federally, it is important to remember that this incident resulted in the tragic loss of a teenager’s life,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division said. “Our decision not to pursue federal charges does not condone the shooting that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin and is based solely on the high legal standard applicable to these cases.” The case sparked intense discussions over race in America because Martin was walking to his home with only Skittles and an iced tea in his hands.

Florida prosecutors tried to convict Zimmerman of state-level murder and manslaughter charges, but in July 2013 a jury acquitted him, saying prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to prove their case.

One juror -– the only minority on the all-female jury –- later told ABC News that “as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can’t say he’s guilty.”

“You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty,” she said. “But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.”

In Sanford, race-related tensions had been simmering for nearly a century, but Martin’s death “was the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back,'” bringing “those issues to the surface,” the new Sanford police chief, Cecil Smith, recently told federal officials.

After Martin was killed, Holder sat down his own teenage son to explain that -– as unfair as it may be -– young black men must often interact with police in a different way than others, he told an NAACP convention in July 2013. It was “a conversation I hoped I’d never have to have,” Holder added.

As media attention mounted over Martin’s death, protests grew across the country calling for justice. The city of Sanford now says a police department had not been scrutinized like that by the press, religious organizations, social activists and the broader public since Los Angeles police beat Rodney King in 1991.

Zimmerman was not a police officer and the neighborhood watch program he was a part of was independent from local police.

Many accused Zimmerman of discriminating against Martin –- essentially taking action against the teenager and ultimately killing him because Martin was black. Zimmerman is Hispanic.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and FBI opened an investigation into the case, noting “experienced federal prosecutors” would determine “whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation” of federal law. In a statement, the department noted there are “limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction.”

Privately and publicly, Justice Department officials have been telegraphing all along that they were unlikely to file charges against Zimmerman. And in November 2013, Holder said the case against Zimmerman “in substantial part was resolved” with his acquittal months earlier.

Nevertheless, federal officials have insisted their civil-rights probe would be thorough and complete. Several months ago –- nearly two years into the Justice Department’s investigation –- Holder said federal investigators were still seeking to interview certain witnesses “as a result of some recent developments.”

More recently, Holder has said he hoped to announce the findings of the Zimmerman and Ferguson-related probes before he leaves office, which could happen in a matter of weeks, depending on when the U.S. Senate confirms his successor.

Holder has said then when a decision is announced in the Zimmerman case, it will be accompanied by “as much information” as possible detailing the Justice Department’s findings.

In the Ferguson case, the department is currently conducting two probes into the matter.

A criminal investigation will try to determine whether then-officer Darren Wilson used unreasonable force and intentionally violated Michael Brown’s civil rights when he shot the unarmed teenager in August. The second probe – though not criminal in nature –- will look more broadly into whether the Ferguson police department has routinely engaged in a “pattern or practice” of unlawful and discriminatory policing.

A state grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, declined to indict Wilson on Nov. 4, 2014. Many expect the Justice Department will not be able to bring federal charges against Wilson, but will take action against the local police department.

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Trayvon Martin: DOJ Announces No Charges Against George Zimmerman

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — While the public waits for a Justice Department announcement over two separate investigations spurred by the summer shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, the department announced Tuesday it is closing its investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Justice Department officials met with Martin’s family on Tuesday, and were told that they will not be filing charges against George Zimmerman, who shot the 17-year-old after a confrontation in 2012. Thursday marks three years to the day since Martin was killed.

Federal prosecutors concluded there is not sufficient evidence to prove Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla., intentionally violated Martin’s civil rights.

“Although the department has determined that this matter cannot be prosecuted federally, it is important to remember that this incident resulted in the tragic loss of a teenager’s life,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division said. “Our decision not to pursue federal charges does not condone the shooting that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin and is based solely on the high legal standard applicable to these cases.” The case sparked intense discussions over race in America because Martin was walking to his home with only Skittles and an iced tea in his hands.

Florida prosecutors tried to convict Zimmerman of state-level murder and manslaughter charges, but in July 2013 a jury acquitted him, saying prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to prove their case.

One juror -– the only minority on the all-female jury –- later told ABC News that “as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can’t say he’s guilty.”

“You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty,” she said. “But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.”

In Sanford, race-related tensions had been simmering for nearly a century, but Martin’s death “was the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back,'” bringing “those issues to the surface,” the new Sanford police chief, Cecil Smith, recently told federal officials.

After Martin was killed, Holder sat down his own teenage son to explain that -– as unfair as it may be -– young black men must often interact with police in a different way than others, he told an NAACP convention in July 2013. It was “a conversation I hoped I’d never have to have,” Holder added.

As media attention mounted over Martin’s death, protests grew across the country calling for justice. The city of Sanford now says a police department had not been scrutinized like that by the press, religious organizations, social activists and the broader public since Los Angeles police beat Rodney King in 1991.

Zimmerman was not a police officer and the neighborhood watch program he was a part of was independent from local police.

Many accused Zimmerman of discriminating against Martin –- essentially taking action against the teenager and ultimately killing him because Martin was black. Zimmerman is Hispanic.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and FBI opened an investigation into the case, noting “experienced federal prosecutors” would determine “whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation” of federal law. In a statement, the department noted there are “limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction.”

Privately and publicly, Justice Department officials have been telegraphing all along that they were unlikely to file charges against Zimmerman. And in November 2013, Holder said the case against Zimmerman “in substantial part was resolved” with his acquittal months earlier.

Nevertheless, federal officials have insisted their civil-rights probe would be thorough and complete. Several months ago –- nearly two years into the Justice Department’s investigation –- Holder said federal investigators were still seeking to interview certain witnesses “as a result of some recent developments.”

More recently, Holder has said he hoped to announce the findings of the Zimmerman and Ferguson-related probes before he leaves office, which could happen in a matter of weeks, depending on when the U.S. Senate confirms his successor.

Holder has said then when a decision is announced in the Zimmerman case, it will be accompanied by “as much information” as possible detailing the Justice Department’s findings.

In the Ferguson case, the department is currently conducting two probes into the matter.

A criminal investigation will try to determine whether then-officer Darren Wilson used unreasonable force and intentionally violated Michael Brown’s civil rights when he shot the unarmed teenager in August. The second probe – though not criminal in nature –- will look more broadly into whether the Ferguson police department has routinely engaged in a “pattern or practice” of unlawful and discriminatory policing.

A state grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, declined to indict Wilson on Nov. 4, 2014. Many expect the Justice Department will not be able to bring federal charges against Wilson, but will take action against the local police department.

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How the Coast Guard Is Dealing With Great Lakes Ice

iStock/Thinkstock(ST. IGNACE, Mich.) – Due to the bitter cold temperatures this winter, the Great Lakes right now are more than 85-percent frozen — more frozen than they have been all season.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Katmai Bay — stationed in St. Ignace, Michigan — has been working nonstop this season to keep shipping channels open along the Straits of Mackinaw.

Shipping slows down during the winter months, but there are still many important shipments that need to get through, including vital road salt that Midwest communities are relying on to clear streets and highways.

The Katmai Bay also works as a lifeline to those vessels that are stuck in the ice, often helping to clear a path for the ships to make their way to port.

The cutter recently needed to help the crew of a Canadian freighter that is stuck in the ice. Katmai Bay ferried the crew to land to get supplies and food, and within a couple of days will be leading a convoy to get the ship moving again.

There’s so much ice buildup right now, the U.S. Coast Guard believes it will have to work to keep shipping channels clear in the Great Lakes for at least the next few months.

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