Review Category : National News

Deaths of Twins Found in Truck Were Heat-Related, Police Say

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSSIER CITY, La.) — The deaths of 3-year-old twins who were found unresponsive in a pickup truck outside their Louisiana home were “heat-related,” according to preliminary findings from their autopsies, police said.

The autopsies for the brother and sister, who died Saturday, were conducted Sunday, and the “heat-related” findings are preliminary, Bossier City police spokesman Mark Natale told ABC News Monday. The Bossier Parish Coroner’s Office declined to comment.

The temperature reached 92 degrees in the area on Saturday.

The incident happened Saturday when the mother, who was home, told neighbors she was looking for her children, twins Oliver and Aria Orr, police said.

The mother and neighbors searched around the home and they then found the children unresponsive in a pickup truck parked outside the house and called 911, police said.

Police and fire crews responded just after 3 p.m. Responders took the children to the hospital, where they were both pronounced dead, police said.

No physical trauma was found on the children, Natale said.

Detectives with the Bossier City police juvenile unit are investigating how the children ended up in the truck, Natale said. No charges have been filed at this time but the investigation is ongoing, Natale said.

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Son Collapses in Tears at Funeral of Mother Who Saved Him in Orlando

iStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Brenda Lee Marquez-McCool was dancing with her son Isaiah Henderson at Pulse nightclub when shots rang out over the blaring music.

Instead of running away, McCool threw herself on her son, shielding him from the deadly bullets fired by shooter Omar Mateen. She saved his life, but lost her own.

At her funeral at the First United Methodist Church of Orlando Monday, Henderson, 21, broke down as he paid heartfelt tribute to his mother, almost unable to stand while he spoke.

“I never thought that her life would be ended right in front of my eyes,” he said, before collapsing in tears. “My mother accepted everyone with open arms. She loved everybody equally no matter what.”

His brothers rushed to the pulpit to hold him up and console him. “I haven’t stopped crying since,” Henderson said.

The funeral was also full of humor and colorful moments as Marquez-McCool’s family remembered her life. She was repeatedly referred to as a resilient woman who was a family leader and a fighter.

Henderson said he and his mother used to wrestle and “play fight,” adding that his mother always won. “I obviously lost. She’s a linebacker!” he joked. His family roared with laughter.

Many of Marquez-McCool’s 11 children spoke. Michael Santos, her brother, was the only one of her siblings to offer words of remembrance, though he struggled at times to get through them.

“I have nothing to say to you because my heart is on fire. I have no words,” said Santos. He spoke fondly of his Puerto Rican heritage and said that Marquez-McCool was quite the dancer, the life of the party. He looked toward heaven and asked Marquez-McCool to “tell Jesus to step up the salsa game”.

Robert Pressley, Jr., another one of Marquez-McCool’s sons, joined his friends near the altar and sang a tribute to his mother, at times pulling the microphone away from his mouth and holding down his head as he struggled to finish the song through tears.

At the end of Marquez-McCool’s funeral, the family walked outside to the church rotunda and released 150 white balloons in her honor. They held each other as they retreated into a private room reserved for immediate family.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Marquez-McCool was 49 years old. She was residing in Orlando when she was killed.

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Two College Sex Assaults: Why the Vanderbilt Case Has a Harsher Sentence than Stanford’s

iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg was found guilty this weekend in the rape of an unconscious woman in his dorm room and is expected to face a minimum of 15 years in prison.

As he awaits sentencing, his case is igniting comparisons to former Stanford athlete Brock Turner, who was recently sentenced to 6 months of jail time in a campus sexual assault case.

The Vanderbilt and Stanford cases seem similar from afar because they’re both high-profile college campus assault stories. However, Vandenburg and Turner were convicted of different charges and are facing very distinct consequences.

What to Know: The Vanderbilt Case

A jury this weekend found Vandenburg, 23, guilty on all counts of aggravated rape and sexual battery for his role in the rape of an unconscious woman in his dorm room in 2013.

Vandenburg and three of his teammates were accused in the assault. While Vandenburg was not accused of physically assaulting the victim himself, he was accused of encouraging others to do so — which is rape under Tennessee law, ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams explained.

Vandenburg and teammate Cory Batey were convicted in 2015, but those convictions were thrown out after a judge declared a mistrial because one of the jurors did not disclose that he had been a victim of statutory rape.

After this weekend’s conviction, Vandenburg faces a possible prison sentence between 15 and 25 years. Vandenburg’s lawyer did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape in April. Both Vandenburg and Batey will be sentenced July 15. The other two players allegedly involved are awaiting trial and both have pleaded not guilty.

What to Know: The Stanford Case

Former Stanford swimmer Turner, 20, was sentenced earlier this month to six months in a county jail after being convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a Stanford campus dumpster in January 2015. Prosecutors alleged Turner digitally penetrated the woman.

A jury found him guilty in March of three felony charges: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. The six month sentence made waves on social media with many criticizing that Turner was getting too little jail time. Turner could have faced a maximum sentence of 14 years for his conviction.

Abrams said, “You could argue that there are factual similarities [in the two cases,] but as a legal matter, they are totally different.”

Here are some key differences.

The evidence in each case

What the prosecutors could prove in each case is very different, Abrams said.

In the Stanford case, witnesses riding bikes on campus who apprehended Turner Turner “something scary that led them to step in and help, but exactly what happened was more difficult to prove,” Abrams said, so more serious charges against Turner were dropped because the prosecution did not think they could be proven.

In the Vanderbilt case, evidence included video from the scene, Abrams explained, so prosecutors “had a much easier time” proving the significant crime of aggravated rape.

The charges and state laws

Both cases are about sex assault, but the charges — and states — are different.

In the Stanford case, Turner was not convicted of rape; he was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.

In California, the maximum sentence Turner could have faced for this crime was 14 years.

In the Vanderbilt case, Vandenburg was convicted of aggravated rape and sexual battery.

In Tennessee, these charges could lead to a sentence between 15 and 25 years.

“The alleged acts are quite similar in many ways in both cases,” Abrams said of the Stanford case, in California, and the Vanderbilt case, in Tennessee, “But the laws in California and Tennessee are pretty different.”

Abrams said Turner could have potentially faced more time for his crime if it was in Tennessee and Vandenburg could have potentially faced less time if his crime was in California. Furthermore, the ways certain sexual assaults are defined are potentially different in each state.

So while these two high-profile college assault cases seem similar, the charges, state laws and now potential sentences are very different.

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Sandy Hook Families’ Lawsuit Challenged by Gun Manufacturer

iStock/Thinkstock(HARTFORD, Conn.) — Remington Arms, the parent company of the manufacturer of the assault rifle used by Adam Lanza in the Newtown elementary school shooting, returned to a Connecticut courtroom Monday to ask a judge to strike a lawsuit by families of nine victims who died and by one teacher who was wounded but survived. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 killed 20 students and six educators.

The lawsuit argues that the company knew the AR-15-style rifle was meant for the military yet marketed it to civilians. Remington Arms tried unsuccessfully a couple of months ago to dismiss the lawsuit based on a federal law that shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products. Now, the company wants the judge to strike the lawsuit.

A motion to strike is used to question specifically whether one or more of the claims made in a lawsuit is legally allowed. A motion to dismiss may be based on claims such as that the court does not have the power to hear the type of case or that the case was filed in the wrong court.

The case is being heard in a state court, but Remington, parent of the manufacturer Bushmaster, has argued that the federal law shielding gun manufacturers, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, still applies. These plaintiffs believe there are certain exceptions to the law that permit their claim, but an attorney for Remington, James Vogt, argued Monday, “The plaintiffs don’t fit into any of those categories” that would allow the suit to proceed.

“They’re asking the court to accept a definition that is not applicable” and is “too broad,” Vogt said. He also argued that the plaintiffs lack standing because the case comes too long after the sale of the rifle to Lanza’s mother. “It’s a rather clean argument that they didn’t meet the statute of limitations,” Vogt said.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Josh Koskoff, said that while “there is nothing unreasonable about manufacturing an AR-15, it’s what they do with it.”

Koskoff called the AR-15 the “gold standard military assault rifle,” and yet, he said, “There it was on the floor of a first-grade classroom” used by someone whose only resemblance to a soldier was that “he dressed like one.”

Koskoff accused Remington Arms of making “negligent choices” to “entrust the most notorious killing machine to the public and to continue to do so in the face of mounting evidence of its association of mass murder of civilians.”

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Trial Concludes for Van Driver Charged in the Death of Freddie Gray

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — The trial of Officer Caesar Goodson, the van driver charged with second-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, came to a close on Monday.

Judge Barry Williams will render his verdict Thursday morning. He will have to decide when, over the course of the ride, Gray sustained the fatal injury that led to his death, as well as whether that injury was a result of actions taken, or not taken, by Goodson.

Goodson, the third of six Baltimore City police officers to stand trial for their alleged role in the arrest and death of Gray, has pleaded not guilty.

Gray was alive when he was loaded into the back of a police van in handcuffs and leg shackles in April 2015. He was not wearing a seat belt. Roughly one hour later, Gray was found unresponsive and suffering from a severe spinal injury. The medical examiner ruled that he received the injury while being transported. Goodson was at the wheel.

Gray died several days later, his death sparking days of violent protests, riots and looting.

Following seven days of testimony and nearly 30 witnesses, the prosecution laid out a scenario in which Gray received a spinal cord injury following a wide right turn. Prosecutors argued the injury then progressively worsened throughout the remaining four stops during the ride, ultimately leading to Gray’s death days later.

During closing remarks, the defense countered that Gray’s injury was “catastrophic” and “immediate,” and did not occur until right before the last stop at the police station.

Williams, the same judge who presided in the previous cases of Officers William Porter and Edward Nero, will be the sole decider in the case. During closing remarks, he seemed confused by the state’s argument that the wide right turn was a “rough ride,” asking, “Can we not agree that taking a turn wide is less dangerous?”

He also asked prosecutors why Goodson stopped to check on Gray if it was his intent to give him a “rough ride.” Surveillance footage during the ride shows Goodson stopping the van, walking to the back, looking in, returning to the front, and getting back behind the wheel.

Porter’s trial ended with a hung jury in December and he will be retried in September. Nero, who opted for a bench trial, was acquitted last month.

Goodson faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the second-degree murder charge.

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Four Dead as Heat Intensifies in Southwest States, Millions Under Heat Warning

iStock/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) — Four people were killed in Arizona and millions more remain under a heat warning advisory following an intense heatwave that impacted several states Sunday.

A male and female hiker died Sunday in Arizona’s Pima County due to heat-related illnesses, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.

In nearby Phoenix, a 28-year-old female trainer died Sunday, according to the Phoenix fire department. A 25-year-old male hiker also died of heat exposure in the Superstation Mountains on Saturday, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Record highs were reported in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. The mercury in Yuma, Arizona, hit 120 degrees, according to ABC News meteorologist Max Golembo.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix also reported a high of 118 degrees at Sky Harbor International Airport, breaking the previous record of 115 degrees that was set in 1968.

Monday will be the hottest day of the week as temperatures in some areas will rise above 120 degrees, said Golembo.

Excessive heat warnings are in place and are expected to last at least until Tuesday evening in Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties, according to KABC, ABC News’ Los Angeles station.

The extreme heat is forcing firefighters to work extra hard to combat large fires raging across New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Officials say the Dog Head Fire in New Mexico has already burned nearly 18,000 acres; only 9 percent of the fire was contained as of Sunday night.

Fire crews were able to control 40 percent of the Cedar Fire in Arizona which has burned more than 12,000 acres as of Sunday afternoon.

Sherpa Fire in California has burned nearly 8,000 acres as of Monday morning.

The record heat also impacted some flights over the weekend.

A United Airlines flight operated by Mesa Airlines departed Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport Sunday afternoon and was minutes away from landing at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix when the flight crew notified passengers it would be turning back due to the weather.

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Empty Bounce House Crashes Into Power Lines in Incredible Video

@NCFirewire / Twitter(NIAGARA, N.Y.) — A bounce house was fortunately empty when it was swept up by wind during a child’s birthday party and sent flying into tension wires in Niagara, New York.

Incredible video taken by a nearby homeowner shows the bounce house floating through the air and eventually crashing onto the power line in the western New York town, according to ABC station WABC in New York.

No injuries were reported in the Saturday incident and the bounce house was later removed from the wires, WABC said.

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Feds Release Excerpts of Orlando Shooter’s Calls with Police

MyspaceFeds Release Excerpts of Orlando Shooter’s Calls with Police

(ORLANDO, Fla.) — The FBI has released portions of conversations between Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen and police that took place during the massacre last Sunday.

Witnesses told ABC News last week that Mateen made multiple phone calls from inside the club’s bathroom.

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Small Plane Crash-Lands Onto the Roof of a Houston Warehouse

KTRK-TV(HOUSTON) — A small plane crash-landed on top of a warehouse in Houston, Texas, late Sunday night, causing minor injuries to the pilot and heavy damage to the aircraft, according to the Houston Police Department.

“The pilot stated he ran out of gas,” Jodie Silva, a spokesperson for the Houston Police Department, told ABC News Monday. “He had a cut to his head, he was transported to the hospital for precaution.”

Silva said the injuries were minor and that the pilot was conscious and responding after the crash. The pilot was the only one on board, according to Silva.

The small plane dropped off the radar around 11 p.m. Sunday night, four miles north of Hobby Airport, the Houston Fire Department said in a statement. The H.P.D. and the H.F.D. have not released the name of the pilot.

Federal Aviation Administration said it is investigating the incident.

The pilot flew a single-engine Piper PA-24 and reported a loss of engine power before making a forced landing on top of a distribution center, a spokesperson for the FAA told ABC News Monday.

The pilot had flown from St. Louis to Houston, according to the FAA.

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Feds to Release Excerpts of Orlando Shooter’s Calls with Police

Myspace(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Later Monday morning the FBI is planning to release portions of conversations between Orlando shooter Omar Mateen and police during the deadly assault at Pulse nightclub last week.

Transcripts of those excerpts, summaries of negotiations with police and other investigative details will be released ahead of a scheduled press conference with law enforcement officials in Orlando, according to the FBI.

“What we’re going to be doing … is talking more about what happened, sadly, inside the nightclub,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’ll be releasing a partial transcript of the calls between the killer and the hostage negotiators so that people can, in fact, see the type of interaction that was had there.”

However, federal authorities will not be releasing Mateen’s pledges of allegiance to ISIS, Lynch added.

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