Review Category : National News

Robert Durst Returns to New Orleans Court

HBO(NEW ORLEANS) — Robert Durst returned to court in New Orleans for two hearings Monday, with prosecutors telling the judge that the only way to determine how likely a flight risk Durst is would be to pore through his criminal history.

Durst’s first appearance Monday was a bail hearing on two weapons charges, while the second hearing is to contest his arrest on a murder warrant issued by Los Angeles police.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit, the handcuffed Durst appeared impassive and disoriented in court, shifting in his chair.

As for his chances of being granted bail, they’re “slim to none, and none just left town,” Durst’s attorney, Dick DeGuerin, told ABC News before the court appearance.

The New York real estate heir was arrested on March 14 by FBI agents at a New Orleans hotel in connection with the death of Susan Berman in Los Angeles 15 years ago.

Durst’s attorneys have said Durst is innocent and say they plan to tell the court that the L.A. arrest warrant is invalid and there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him.

“Bob Durst didn’t kill Susan Berman and he doesn’t know who did,” DeGuerin said outside court last Tuesday. “That being said my concern that the warrant that was issued in California was issued because of a television show and not because of facts.”

“We want to contest the basis for his arrest because I think it’s not based on facts, it’s based on ratings. So we will continue to fight for Bob. We want to get to California as quickly as we can so that we can get to a court of law and try the case where it needs to be tried,” DeGuerin said.

Durst has spent the past week at a jail equipped to deal with the mentally ill.

FBI agents believed Durst, 71, may have wanted to flee the country, possibly to Cuba, as he registered under an alias at the hotel, paid with cash, and was found with fake documents, a law enforcement source briefed on the investigation told ABC News.

The day of Durst’s arrest was the day of the first nonstop flight from New Orleans to Cuba since 1958, according to nola.com.

Police say, at the time of Durst’s arrest, they also found him in possession of a full-face latex mask, more than $42,000 in cash, enough pot for about 300 joints, a fake ID, a real passport and a .38 special revolver with four live rounds.

Durst has denied killing Berman, but some believed he had a motive, allegedly wanting to silence her about the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathleen Durst.

Kathleen was officially declared dead in 2001, and Robert Durst has said he has no idea what happened to her.

Durst was also charged in the 2001 killing of a neighbor in Galveston, Texas, but he claimed self-defense and was later found not guilty.

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Sugarloaf Mountain Lift Accident Caused by Mechanical Failure in Gearbox

Courtesy Greg Hoffmeister(FRANKLIN COUNTY, Maine) — A “major mechanical failure” in a gearbox was the cause of a ski lift malfunction at Sugarloaf Mountain that left seven people injured, the ski area said Sunday.

“The trigger for the incident was a major mechanical failure in one of two gearboxes connecting the lift’s electric motor to its drive bullwheel,” Sugarloaf said in a statement Sunday. The Maine resort and an engineer contributed to the preliminary investigation, according to the statement.

On Friday, the gearbox had passed a routine procedure that identifies potential problems, Sugarloaf added.

The resort said the investigation is ongoing and the lift remains closed.

The King Pine lift had been in full operation Saturday when it suddenly stopped and then started to go backwards, according to a spokeswoman for the ski area.

The lift was immediately shut down and all available mountain safety personnel were sent to the scene to evacuate the skiers on the chair, the resort said in a statement.

More than 200 riders were evacuated. Four people were hospitalized.

Hank Margolis, who was on the ski lift about a few hundred feet away, said, “There was definitely panic.”

“We heard people screaming,” Margolis told ABC News. “Everyone was standing in the lift line concerned about people jumping into them. They were screaming and running away.”

“There were people lying on the ground, they were definitely immobile,” Margolis added.

Robin Lepage said her 23-year-old daughter was at the top of the lift and about to get off when the chair started moving backwards.

“They moved the bar back down and held on for dear life,” Lepage told ABC News. “She said they stopped about half-way down and came to a grinding halt.”

The chair then “swayed and hung there” for about an hour until they made it safely to the ground, Lepage said.

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Some Service Members on Purported ISIS ‘Hit List’ Unfazed by Threat

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Several of the military service members whose personal information appears on a purported ISIS “hit list” said Sunday they are unfazed by the online threat, as military officials continued the process of notifying individuals named on the list.

The personal information of 100 service members was posted on a website by a previously unknown group calling itself the “Islamic State Hacking Division” that urged “lone wolf” sympathizers to kill those named on the list.

ABC News is not identifying the three service members who provided reactions to their personal information appearing on the list.

“This is just a way they are trying to intimidate us — and it’s not going to work,” said one service member.

Another service member said it is not surprising that ISIS wants to hurt members of the U.S. military, though he was surprised that this group would be “brazen” enough to publish it.

A third service member called the publishing of the list “regrettable” but said he had no concerns for himself or his family.

They would not disclose what precautions they had taken in the wake of the online threat, though they said they were already being cautious.

“I wouldn’t say I’m scared,” said one of the service members. “It’s just part of this ‘new war’ against an enemy with a different, more developed capability than what we’ve faced in the past. We have to make the adjustments in order to continue to win the battles.”

A defense official told ABC News it does not appear that the information on the list was gained through a data breach. Instead, the official said it all appears to have come from publicly available information on social media and Internet sites.

Some of the service members acknowledged that information on the Internet can make such a threat possible.

“We really weren’t surprised because all the people I saw on that list are on a webpage some place anyways, all that information was already public,” said one service member.

“In a world with computers, it’s easy to find information on anyone,” said another. “We have a footprint — the best we can do is to make that foot print not so deep in the sand.”

The service members said they had been made aware of the threat, though some would not disclose under what specific circumstances.

In the wake of the threat, U.S. Central Command posted a message on its Facebook page reminding its personnel to maintain “a heightened sense of vigilance whether dealing with work or home computer usage, specifically as it relates to Social Media.”

“Adversaries and malicious ‘cyber’ actors continue to use any method possible in an attempt to gain access and exploit any information they can,” the posting said.

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One Hiker Dead, One Critical After Cliff Collapse at Point Reyes National Seashore

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANSISCO) — One hiker is dead and another is in critical condition Monday after they were caught in a rockslide near Arch Rock in Point Reyes National Seashore.

The two hikers were walking along Bear Valley Trail in the Marin County, California, national park Saturday evening when they reached the end of the trail, the Arch Rock overlook, John Dell’Osso, a spokesman for the U.S. National Park Service told ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco.

The cliff unexpectedly gave way and they fell some 60 feet below, both covered in rubble and rock, Dell’Osso said.

One of the hikers was pronounced deceased at the scene and the other was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, he said.

Park officials had put up signs at the trailhead Wednesday warning that visitors could not hike out to the end of Bear Valley Trail because a fissure had appeared at the “tip” of the overlook, Dell’Osso said.

The park service issued a trail advisory on its website on Thursday warning hikers that fissures along the top of Arch Rock may have weakened it.

“Bluffs along the California coast are inherently unstable. They are prone to crumbling and sliding,” the website reads. “It is very dangerous to climb or walk along the edge of cliffs.”

Dell’Osso said park officials even put a 24-inch by 40-inch sign just past the start of the trail to warn visitors of the unstable bluff.

The Marin County coroner’s office will release the identity of the decedent pending notification of next of kin, Dell’Osso said.

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One Dead in Florida Helicopter Crash

John Roman/iStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — One person was killed when a helicopter crashed in a residential neighborhood in Orlando on Sunday, officials said.

The Orlando Fire Department said the helicopter crashed into an apartment on top of a garage around 2:15 p.m..

No one was in the apartment, but fire officials said the crash sparked a fire.

“I heard an explosion and the power went off immediately and I knew it was too loud to be a transformer, so ran out the house and could see the black smoke and the flames,” said a neighbor who lived three doors away from the affected apartment.

Emergency officials said Sunday afternoon it was not clear how many people were onboard the chopper, or what caused the crash.

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UVA Student Arrest ‘Disturbing,’ Charlottesville Police Chief Says

ABC News(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The police chief of Charlottesville, Virginia, Timothy Longo, called the images of a University of Virginia student’s arrest last week “disturbing” in an appearance Sunday on ABC’s This Week, while calling on police to think more about race in their interactions with community members.

“What is depicted on video is unfortunate, it’s tragic, it’s certainly disturbing to me as a law enforcement official and frankly disturbing to this community,” Longo told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz of video showing UVA student Martese Johnson, who was injured while being arrested by Alcoholic Beverage Control police outside a bar near the UVA campus Wednesday night.

Images of a bloodied Johnson quickly circulated on social media and led to student protests on campus, with Virginia State Police called in to conduct an investigation.

Longo met with students at a heated town hall meeting Friday where they expressed concern that the relationship between police and minority groups has escalated.

“Law enforcement depends so much on its relationship with its citizens, if any aspect of our citizenry feels threatened, feels that they’re not being treated fairly, that disrupts my ability to have that relationship and carry out the function of what I call relational policing,” Longo said on This Week.

He said he is focused on continuing the discussion and helping the community move forward from a difficult few months, saying police need to consider the importance of race while engaging with the community.

“I think attitudes need to change, I think hearts need to change,” Longo said. “This is a difficult discussion, it’s an uncomfortable discussion as we saw on Friday afternoon. We all saw students that are hurt and angry and wanting and deserving of answers. We need to keep this discussion alive and well and law enforcement, frankly, needs to be reminded of the history of this country and the aspect of race and the importance it plays in our history. And we need to remind ourselves of that as we go into our communities to engage the people we need to have a relationship with.”

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New Clues in Mysterious Murder of Arizona Woman

ABC News(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — A memorial service for an Arizona woman murdered in February will be held Sunday, just days after police announced there is new evidence in the mysterious case.

Allison Feldman, 31, was found dead by her boyfriend in her Scottsdale, Arizona, home on Feb. 18.

Police have been tight-lipped about details of the investigation so far, but on Friday Scottsdale Police Department Commander Tom Henny provided some details.

A search warrant was also released – revealing that items including credit cards, a Tiffany bracelet and an iPhone 6 were stolen from Feldman’s home.

“We have nothing right now that leads us to believe that she was targeted in this case,” Henny said.

Feldman’s father Harley said it doesn’t matter to him whether she was targeted or not.

“As far as who it is and whether she knew him or not, that doesn’t matter to us,” he said. “We just want him caught.”

Her sister Kelly said she just misses her sister.

“No matter what it’s not going to bring her back,” she said. “And it’s left a terrible hole in our family, and that will never, never go away.”

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Bar Co-owner Says Martese Johnson Was ‘Cordial’ the Night of His Arrest

Photo courtesy of Martese Johnson(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The co-owner of the Charlottesville bar that Martese Johnson tried to enter before his bloody arrest said that the University of Virginia student was “cordial and respectful” and did not appear to be drunk.

Johnson, 20, was bloodied during an arrest near the campus early Wednesday morning, sparking protests on the campus over alleged police brutality as well as a state investigation of the incident.

He was arrested outside a Charlottesville bar by state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents who are charged with enforcing alcohol laws in Virginia.

Kevin Badke, the co-owner of Trinity Irish Pub, said in a statement Saturday night that Johnson was refused entry to the pub moments before he was arrested and the bar does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. Johnson, 20, was rejected because he provided the wrong zip code when presenting his ID, Badke said.

“Mr. Johnson, probably realizing the reason for the error, stated that he had moved. At this point, Mr. Badke and Mr. Johnson had a brief conversation because Mr. Badke is from the south side of Chicago, where Mr. Johnson indicated he was from. In Mr. Badke’s opinion, Mr. Johnson did not appear to be intoxicated in the least. Despite the conversation, which was cordial and respectful, Mr. Badke reiterated that he could not permit him to enter,” according to Trinity’s statement.

The bar noted that in Virginia, there is no legal requirement that customers entering a restaurant where alcohol is served must be over the age of 21. “Therefore, Martese had every right to attempt to enter Trinity so long as he was using his lawful identification. However, Trinity’s decision to enact a 21 and over policy after 10 p.m., for busy evenings, does not make Johnson’s attempt to enter illegal,” the statement reads.

“He handed Mr. Johnson his ID back and Mr. Johnson began walking in a north westerly direction up University Avenue. A few moments later, Mr. Badke heard a commotion, turned, and saw Mr. Johnson on the ground about 30 feet further up on University Avenue with ABC agents detaining him,” the statement continued.

In a press conference Thursday, Johnson said through his attorney Daniel Watkins in a statement that he was “shocked that my face was slammed into the brick pavement three blocks from where I attend school.”

Alcoholic Beverage Control said Johnson was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice.

The arrest is currently under investigation by the Virginia State Police.

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NCAA Tournament 2015: Perfect March Madness Bracket Falls With OSU

saje/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The last perfect bracket out of the 11.57 million in Tournament Challenge finally fell when the Arizona Wildcats knocked off the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday.

Malachi from Cleveland, Ohio, had correctly picked all 32 games through the second round in the ESPN tournament challenge, including upsets by Georgia State and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He declined to share his last name.

He picked more upsets on Saturday, but the No. 10 seed Buckeyes couldn’t beat No. 2 Arizona, bringing his run to an end.

He told ABC News Saturday that he was shocked by his success.

“There really was no method to the madness,” he said.

Malachi said he filled out his bracket 15 minutes before the deadline on Thursday.

“They’ve [family and friends] been keeping me in the loop and just joking with me,” he said. “They’re picking at me and having fun with it.”

His bracket predicted Duke to beat Kansas in the final by a score of 58-0, which he insisted was the result of a glitch on the website.

Malachi added that he didn’t watch a single college basketball game until the tournament started.

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Authorities Search for Motive in Machete-Wielding New Orleans Airport Attack

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) — Authorities continue to search for a motive in the bizarre attack on TSA agents by a man with machete and a can of wasp spray at the New Orleans international airport.

The suspect, Richard White, 62, died at an area hospital on Saturday after he underwent surgery for gunshot wounds, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

White was a Jehovah’s Witness, and “refused” certain types of medical care, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said at a press conference Saturday. He added that there was also a “mental illness component.”

Authorities searched a bag the suspect dropped in the security area and found several Molotov cocktails and a search of his abandoned car revealed smoke bombs and chemical tanks, Normand said.

What the suspect intended to do with the tanks and what triggered the attack remained unknown, the sheriff said.

White entered the TSA pre-line shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, and was challenged by an agent who was checking boarding passes to be scanned, Normand said. He sprayed the agent in the face with the insecticide and continued past the checkpoint, he said.

Two more TSA agents then confronted White, according to police. He sprayed one male agent with the wasp spray before pulling a machete from his waistband and swinging it at him and a female agent.

“The male TSA officer grabbed a piece of luggage in order to defend himself,” Normand said.

White chased the male agent through a metal detector before he was shot three times — once in the chest, once in the leg, and once in the face — by Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Lt. Heather Sylve, police said.

A bullet from Sylve’s gun also hit the female TSA agent who was running from White. She suffered a non life-threatening injury, police said.

Normand said it did not appear that White was trying to get on a plane. A statement from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said his criminal history consisted of a few minor arrests.

Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security, called the attack a “senseless act of violence,” in a statement released Saturday.

Johnson said this incident is a “reminder of the variety of threats we face and the important work that the men and women of the Transportation Security Administration do every day to keep millions of passengers traveling through our airports safe.”

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