Review Category : National News

Chris Kyle’s Widow Walks Red Carpet at Academy Awards

ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) — Taya Kyle, the widow of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, whose life was portrayed in the hit film, American Sniper, walked on the red carpet of the Academy Awards to show her support for the film and military families.

“I wanted to be here to represent Chris obviously,”Taya Kyle told ABC’s Robin Roberts at Sunday night’s awards. “It’s not the ideal time to do that but I still want to embrace everything that he should be here to do with me.”

American Sniper was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Adapted Screenplay. The film was awarded an Oscar in one category, Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

Chris Kyle, who was considered the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history, served four tours in Iraq and helped found a veterans organization.

He also wrote a best-selling autobiography, which served as the basis for the film American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Clint Eastwood.

Closing arguments are expected this week in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, the man accused of murder in the shooting deaths of the former Navy SEAL and Kyle’s friend, Chad Littlefield, at a Texas gun range in February 2013.

Routh faces life in prison if he is found guilty of the charges. Routh’s attorney has entered a plea that his client is not guilty by reason of insanity.

A psychiatrist for the prosecution has said Routh knew what he was doing was wrong.

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Lawyer: Las Vegas ‘Road Rage’ Suspect May Have Been Target

@LVMPD/Twitter(LAS VEGAS) — The 19-year-old accused of murder after a reported road rage incident in Las Vegas is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday, amid his lawyer’s claims that he was acting in self-defense and that no road rage occurred.

Erich Nowsch Jr. is charged with murder, attempted murder and illegal discharge of a gun in the death of Tammy Meyers. He was arrested Thursday.

Defense attorney Conrad Claus said Nowsch — not Meyers — may have been the target the night of the shooting, Feb. 12.

“The facts seem to point to self-defense in this situation,” Claus told ABC News in an exclusive interview. “It seems to explain the facts we have in front of us more sensibly than any other explanation.”

According to a police report released Friday, there were two shooting scenes.

Police said Nowsch told friends he felt threatened as he watched Meyers and her 15-year-old daughter take part in a driving lesson. According to the report, Nowsch jumped in a friend’s silver Audi and followed Meyers and her daughter.

The Audi’s driver cut off the mother and daughter and got out of the car, telling Meyers, “I’m gonna come back for you and your daughter,” according to the police report.

That’s when police said Meyers went home and picked up her son Brandon, who was armed with a gun, and went out to find the driver who threatened her.

According to the police report, Meyers and her son approached the vehicle Nowsch was in and Nowsch opened fire.

Tammy and Brandon Meyers then retreated back to their home, where Nowsch allegedly opened fire again, fatally shooting Tammy Meyers. She died at a hospital two days later.

Nowsch admitted to friends that he fired a total of 22 shots that night, police said.

After the arrest of Nowsch — who lived near the Meyers’ home — Meyers’ husband, Bob Meyers, revealed that his wife knew the teen suspect and even “fed him, she gave him money.”

“We know this boy. I couldn’t tell you this before. He knew where I lived,” Bob Meyers told reporters outside his house Thursday. “We knew how bad he was, but we didn’t know he was this bad, that he’s gotten to this point.”

Police said they only learned of the Meyers’ personal connection to Nowsch hours before the arrest.

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Flights Grounded in Texas; Arctic Air Returning to Northeast

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More than 1,000 flights into and out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport have been canceled Monday because of freezing rain, sleet and sub-freezing temperatures.

Meanwhile, Arctic air is returning to the Northeast, with chilling temperatures expected later Monday from Boston to Washington, D.C., following a milder Sunday reprieve.

At least 15 states from North Dakota to Maryland are under a wind chill advisory Monday. Wind chills in parts of the Midwest could drop to -40 degrees. Wind chill figures in the inland Northeast Tuesday could fall to similar figures — near -35 degrees.

One wave of the system moved through the deep south Sunday, producing multiple accidents and spin-offs in Texas and leading authorities at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and airlines to take extra precautions. A second round of freezing precipitation is expected in the Dallas area during the morning rush hour, with dangerous travel conditions expected.

Additionally, a new storm system in the Southwest is expected to bring rain and snow to California, Nevada and Arizona.

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LA Metro Riders Complain of Unwanted Sexual Advances

David McNew/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Mass transportation is intended to get people from Point A to Point B with a minimum of hassle.

And yet, as The Los Angeles Times reports, just over 20 percent of passengers riding L.A. Metro trains and buses claimed they were subjected to unwanted sexual advances or behavior during the first half of 2014.

Metro spokesman Paul Gonzales called the finding by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority unacceptable.

All told, 22,000 people were asked if they encountered untoward behavior that included “touching, exposure, or inappropriate comments” and 4,850 people admitted they had.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it received 31 reports of indecent exposure on Metro trains and buses in 2014 and made 12 arrests. There were also 62 reports of inappropriate touching, with 18 people being taken into custody. There were also six reports of inappropriate comments, with two of those offenders being arrested.

Gonzales says what’s particularly disturbing is the low number of actual reports to police about inappropriate behavior on the Metro system compared to the much higher number of those saying it happened to them in the survey.

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California Hit-and-Run: ‘Party Bus’ Wanted for Dragging Man 200 Feet

Alex_Schmidt/iStock/Thinkstock(NORWALK, Calif.) — Authorities in Southern California are looking for a “party bus” involved in an alleged hit-and-run Saturday that left a man seriously injured.

Efren Virgen was walking along a Norwalk, California, road when he was struck by a vehicle around 2:30 a.m., the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said.

Virgen was dragged for over 200 feet, authorities said, and the vehicle kept driving.

A witness described the vehicle as a black “party bus” that was playing music and flashing neon lights, according to the Sheriff’s Office, adding that this “type of vehicle is rented out by groups for special events.”

Virgen, 26, was still in critical condition this afternoon, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Virgen has two daughters, ages 7 and 2, according to ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

The victim’s brother Samuel Virgen told KABC the 7-year-old is “asking these questions.”

“All she knows is that her daddy’s hurt and he’s in the hospital,” he added, according to KABC.

Anyone with information about the bus is asked to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711.

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“American Sniper” Trial: Can Big Night at Oscars Sway Jurors?

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures(NEW YORK) — As the stars gather Sunday for the Academy Awards, some question whether an Oscar win for American Sniper would impact jurors in the murder trial of Chris Kyle’s accused killer, Eddie Ray Routh.

After each day of the murder trial in Stephenville, Texas, State District Judge Jason Cashon has reminded the jurors to avoid any media coverage, but he has not banned them from watching the Oscars with closing arguments scheduled to begin Monday.

According to jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, this real-life trial and Academy Awards overlap is “truly unprecedented.”

“[It’s] never happened in judicial history,” she said.

Although the film depicts Kyle as a war hero, Dimitrius said she’s confident the 12 jurors won’t be swayed even if they have seen the film.

“When this jury goes into this jury room to begin their deliberations, I believe the most powerful evidence will be … from the testimony of the witnesses in the case,” Dimitrius said. “That testimony is more powerful than anything you could see in a movie, anything that you could read in a newspaper, or anything that you could hear from a friend or colleague.”

American Sniper was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Adapted Screenplay. But Dimitrius said she believes jurors will listen to the judge’s instructions, even if the film enjoys a big night.

“Even if this movie wins six Academy Awards, that jury is going to do their civil duty by taking into consideration solely the evidence and the witnesses that they heard in the courtroom,” she said.

During jury selection earlier this month, potential jurors were asked on a questionnaire if they had seen American Sniper or read Kyle’s autobiography, but the judge said it doesn’t matter if a juror has seen the film as long as he or she can be fair.

Kyle, who was considered the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history, wrote an autobiography that became the basis of the film, which stars Bradley Cooper.

Routh is accused of shooting and killing Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, at a Texas gun range in February 2013.

Routh has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. One psychiatrist testified that the Marine veteran had severe schizophrenia and didn’t know right from wrong, while the prosecution claimed he was fully aware of his actions.

The film is not considered a heavy favorite for any of the three major categories in which it was nominated, said ABC News and ESPN contributing editor Chris Connelly, but he added that “it certainly has a chance.”

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‘Road Rage’ Suspect’s Lawyer Questions Changing Timeline

@LVMPD/Twitter(LAS VEGAS) — An attorney for the teen accused of fatally shooting a Las Vegas mother after an alleged “road rage” incident questioned whether there was any “road rage” involved at all and expressed doubts about other details provided by the victim’s family.

Conrad Claus, one of the attorneys representing Erich Nowsch, 19, told ABC News he questions why descriptions of events leading up to the fatal shooting of Tammy Meyers changed, why Meyers and her children would behave the way they purportedly did, and why a composite sketch of a suspect done before his client was arrested Thursday does not more closely resemble Nowsch.

The timeline of events in the case, which police have said is based upon eyewitness accounts from Meyers’ children, has evolved over time.

Initially, police said it appeared someone followed Meyers, 44, and her 15-year-old daughter home from a road-rage incident following a late-night driving lesson on Feb. 12.

Later, police said Meyers and her daughter fled the alleged road-rage incident but were not followed home. The daughter told police the “road rage” involved the driver of the other car getting out of the driver’s seat and saying, “I’m gonna come back for you and your daughter,” according to a police warrant issued Friday.

After returning home, Meyers and her armed, 22-year-old son went looking for the person who allegedly threatened Meyers and her daughter, the police said in the revised timeline. According to an arrest report released Friday, they found that person two blocks from their home.

Nowsch told his friends, according to the report, that he saw a car with a gun pointed at him coming toward him. The report alleged Nowsch opened fire on the approaching vehicle driven by Tammy Meyers. Meyers and her son then drove home, according to the police report, only to have Nowsch appear at their home and open fire. The son returned fire, police said, and when the shooting stopped Meyers was critically injured. She died at a hospital two days later.

After the arrest of Nowsch, who lived near the Meyers’ home, Meyers’ husband, Bob Meyers, revealed another new detail: He said his wife actually knew the teen suspect and even “fed him, she gave him money.”

“We know this boy. I couldn’t tell you this before. He knew where I lived,” Bob Meyers told reporters outside his house Thursday. “We knew how bad he was, but we didn’t know he was this bad, that he’s gotten to this point.”

Police said they only learned of the Meyers’ personal connection to Nowsch hours before the arrest.

Besides expressing doubt about whether the “road rage” occurred, Claus questioned why Meyers and her daughter would not have gone to the police immediately after allegedly being threatened, or why the family wouldn’t have told the police who allegedly confronted the mother and daughter if they knew the person.

The Las Vegas Metro Police Department was not available for comment Saturday.

The Meyers family has made no public statements since Thursday.

Nowsch is charged with murder, attempted murder and illegal discharge of a gun, and is expected to make his first appearance in court Monday.

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Texas Prison Disturbance ‘Under Control’

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(RAYMONDVILLE, Texas) — A prison disturbance involving nearly 2,000 inmates was brought under control on Saturday night, according to a facility spokesman.

Inmates at the Willacy County Correctional Center in Texas had broken through their housing structures and made their way onto the recreation yard. Some inmates reportedly set fires that caused minor damage to three of the ten housing units.

Management and Training Corporation, which runs the facility, said on Friday night that two officers and one inmate suffered minor injuries.

On Saturday evening, officials said the inmates were being relocated to other federal prisons “for an undetermined amount of time to allow facility leaders to assess damage and begin making necessary repairs.” A spokesperson said that the inmates were “calm and cooperative” and the the situation was “under control.”

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Mall of America Heightens Security After al-Shabaab Threat

Photo by Carolyn Schaefer/Liaison(MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.) — One of the largest malls in the United States has heightened security after a video claiming to be posted online by a Somali militant group affiliated with al Qaeda called for attacks against the mall.

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, issued a statement Saturday, saying it had increased security in light of the video purportedly from al-Shabaab, which took credit for the deadly attack at a Kenyan mall that killed at least 67 civilians in 2013.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called the video the “new phase we’ve evolved in terms of the global terrorist threat and what we need to do in terms of counter-terrorism.”

“Groups like [ISIS], al-Shabaab, AQAP (al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula) are now publicly calling for attacks either through the internet, through videos, through publications, which means that we need to respond militarily but we also have to have a whole government approach through law enforcement, homeland security and frankly countering violent extremism efforts here in the homeland in communities,” Johnson said on ABC’s This Week. “We’re in a new phase now and I’m afraid that this most recent video release reflects that.”

The Department of Homeland Security and FBI issued a joint statement Sunday, saying the agencies were aware of the “reported call from al-Shabaab for ‘Westgate style’ attacks against shopping centers around the world, to include in the United States.”

“In recent months, the FBI and DHS have worked closely with our state and local public safety counterparts and members of the private sector, to include mall owners and operators, to prevent and mitigate these types of threats,” the statement continued.

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Disturbance Involving About 2,000 Inmates Reported at Texas Prison Facility

Click Images/iStock/Thinkstock(RAYMONDSVILLE, Texas) — Inmates refused to participate in work duties and did not come out for breakfast on Friday morning, forcing a Texas facility into lockdown.

According to Management and Training Corporation, which runs the Willacy County Correctional Center, several inmates broke through the housing structures and made their way onto the recreation yard. Most recent estimates say about 2,000 inmates are involved in the disturbance. “Another 1,000 inmates, housed in a separate part of the facility, are not involved in the incident,” the company statement said.

The company says inmates claimed to be unhappy with the medical services they received and were “demonstrating to make their concerns known.”

On Friday, correctional officers used tear gas in an effort to control the unruly inmates after inmates set fires inside three of the ten housing units. The company said the damage to the buildings was minor.

MTC said Friday night that two officers and one inmate suffered minor injuries and were treated at the facility.

The facility is surrounded by two perimeter fences, and MTC notes that none of the inmates have attempted to climb those fences.

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