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Aaron Hernandez Trial: Prosecutors Play Video of Him Before the Murder

Aaron Hernandez Trial: Prosecutors Play Video of Him Before the Murder

Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Prosecutors in Massachusetts Thursday showed surveillance video of Aaron Hernandez with Odin Lloyd in the car the former NFL star was driving before he allegedly murdered the man.The former New England Patriots tight end could be seen on a camera -- mounted at a Canton gas station -- pumping gas and entering a convenience store before the June 13, 2013 murder of Lloyd.Prosecutors have said that Hernandez, 25, rented a Nissan Altima -- the same one seen in the surveillance footage played in court Thursday -- prior to Lloyd's murder. Prosecutors said the man in the car was Lloyd.Hernandez is on trial in the murder of Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's then-fiancee.

There have been questions about where the slaying occurred, although the victim's body was later found at an industrial plant.Although Lloyd was shot, no gun was ever recovered.

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Cops Hunt Gunman After 1 Dead in Texas Shooting Attacks

Cops Hunt Gunman After 1 Dead in Texas Shooting Attacks

iStock/Thinkstock(MISSOURI CITY, Texas) -- Police in Texas are searching for a gunman believed to have randomly attacked five people in the last week, including one who later died. The attacks happened in Houston and nearby Missouri City, Texas, and involved pedestrians walking alone, police said. "It has no rhyme or reason, no particular time of day, no gender, no race, any of that," said detective Derek Spencer of the Missouri City Police Department. "It just seems that random. ... That is very concerning and scary." Police said the attacks started at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 17, when a gunman in a dark sport utility vehicle tried shooting at a 21-year-old college student. The gun jammed and the victim ran away. About a half an hour later, 34-year-old Pak Ho was shot and killed nearby. He told police about a dark SUV before he died. The third attack happened three hours later, police said. Savalas Holmes said he saw a black Jeep Cherokee before he was shot near the thigh. "He pulled right up on side of me. Window down already, already had it on his mind what he wanted to do," Holmes said. "That's when I turned to run. That's when he shot me." Holmes said 1,000 thoughts ran through his head: "Am I losing too much blood? Am I going to collapse here?” Hours after Holmes was attacked, a 50-year-old man was shot at a bus stop 15 miles away. Another attack happened at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, when police said a person was shot in the arm and stomach. The suspect is believed to be in his early 30s, with a stocky build, light mustache and a beard. "We want to try to bring this person to justice for those family members and the rest of the community where they don't have to live in fear," said detective Andy Robb of the Missouri City Police Department.

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Florida Robber Douses Clerk in Lighter Fluid, Threatens to Set Him Ablaze

Florida Robber Douses Clerk in Lighter Fluid, Threatens to Set Him Ablaze

Brian Jackson/iStock/Thinkstock(PALM BAY, Fla.) -- An armed robber doused a convenience store clerk with lighter fluid and threatened to set him ablaze if he did not surrender money from the cash register in surveillance video released by police in Palm Bay, Florida.The incident happened early Wednesday morning at a Kangaroo Express convenience store, authorities said.The robber walked into the store with his face covered and began dousing the clerk with lighter fluid, according to police. He held a lighter and threatened to set the clerk on fire.The clerk handed over an undisclosed amount of cash to the robber, who then ran off, police said.The clerk was not injured during the robbery.

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NTSB Official Clarifies Statement on California Train Derailment

NTSB Official Clarifies Statement on California Train Derailment

KABC-TV(OXNARD, Calif.) -- The National Transportation Safety Board says that the truck that caused Tuesday's train derailment in Oxnard may have been stuck on the tracks when it was struck, though it was not stuck at the railroad crossing.NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt was forced to clarify his comments on Wednesday evening, saying that "this was not a traditional grade crossing accident." Earlier, he had said that the truck was "not actually stuck on the track," when he says he intended to tell reporters that the truck wasn't stuck at a crossing, and that the determination as to whether or not the truck was stuck has not yet been made.The driver of the truck, identified as Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez, fled the scene, but was found uninjured 1.6 miles away. He was not in the truck at the time of the collision, according to Oxnard Police Department Assistant Police Chief Jason Benites.Benites said that Ramirez was driving a produce truck when he turned right onto the tracks.

Police and the truck driver’s attorney have said he was stuck.

At least 28 people were injured in the crash, including at least four critically.

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United Airlines Officials Highlight ‘Near-Misses’ in Safety Message to Pilots

United Airlines Officials Highlight ‘Near-Misses’ in Safety Message to Pilots

Boarding1Now/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- United Airlines officials recently sent a "brutally honest" safety bulletin to pilots following four incidents involving flight crew errors that were classified as "major safety events and near-misses."The Jan. 9 message -- which was obtained by ABC News -- was sent by Howard Attarian, Sr. Vice President Flight Operations, and Mike Quiello, Vice President Corporate Safety. The Wall Street Journal first reported about the message.Two of the events occurred near the ground, according to the bulletin, with a pull-up maneuver issued in one of the incidents. One of the incidents involved an “Undesired Aircraft State on departure,” with the flight crew contributing to a safety lapse. A fourth incident involved a low fuel state.“The common thread with all of these is that they are preventable,” the message states.A 2013 UPS cargo plane crash in Birmingham, Alabama, which was later blamed on pilot error, was referenced in the message. The plane crashed short of the runway at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, killing two crew members.Pilot retirements, seat movements and new hires were identified in the message as factors that bring added risk to flight operation.“While no one ever shows up to work with the goal of intentionally making a mistake, we are human and mistakes happen. What we can control is how we conduct ourselves on each and every flight,” the message states.United issued a statement to ABC News Wednesday after details of the message were initially reported by the Wall Street Journal. ABC News reached out to the airline early Thursday with calls for further comment, but those efforts were unsuccessful.“As part of our commitment to safety, we constantly monitor flight operations data and regularly communicate the findings with our pilots,” the statement reads. “Our proactive approach to safety aligns with the FAA’s Safety Management System and enables us to recognize potential issues and adjust our actions to further ensure the safety of our customers and coworkers.”Read the full memo below:

Date: January 9, 2015SAFETY ALERT: Significant safety concernsRecent events in our operation have dictated that we communicate with all of you immediately. Over the past few weeks, our airline has experienced what we would categorize as major safety events and near-misses.In Flight Operations we have seen two events in close proximity to terrain (one resulting in a GPWS pull-up maneuver), an Undesired Aircraft State on departure and a low fuel state on arrival after a deviation from a Sabre Flight Plan routing.The common thread with all of these is that they are preventable. We must ask ourselves, “Do we have our priorities in line every time we put on our uniforms and strap into the airplane?” While the airline industry always seems to be in a state of flux, the one constant for all of us is that we are professional aviators with the common goal of flying our passengers and crew from point A to point B SAFELY.Another common thread to some of these events is a lack of attention to disciplined Crew Resource Management. Every time we enter the cockpit with the intention of performing our pilot duties, we evaluate risk. Every pilot must be willing to speak up if safety is in question. In the same vein, every pilot must also accept the input of their fellow crewmembers on the flight deck. In most cases, one of the pilots recognizes an unsafe situation. In some cases, a pilot’s input is ignored. This is unacceptable.The recent CFIT accident in Birmingham involving another carrier underscores how quickly things can unravel. The approach and landing appeared normal to the pilots until right before impact. Let’s not for a moment think something like that could not happen at United.We are currently seeing a lot of movement in the pilot group, such as retirements, seat movements and new hires, that – while welcome – introduces significant risk to the operation. While no one ever shows up to work with the goal of intentionally making a mistake, we are human and mistakes happen. What we can control is how we conduct ourselves on each and every flight. If you have ever used the term “Standard Brief” before departure, you have not complied with an SOP. If you have ever exceeded Stabilized Approach Criteria intentionally and not executed a go-around, you are not in compliance.We know this is a brutally honest message and the tendency may be to rationalize why compliance is not occurring in some areas. Bottom line: United is at a critical juncture in its history and we as aviators must adhere to the policies and procedures outlined in the Flight Manuals, FOM, WOM and ALPA Code of Ethics. Reviewing, understanding, and complying with the guidance in company manuals is imperative to returning ourselves, our fellow crewmembers and passengers to their families safely. This is our top priority and greatest responsibility, and we appreciate in advance your continued commitment and cooperation.Fly safe.Howard Attarian, Sr. Vice President Flight OperationsMichael Quiello, Vice President Corporate Safety

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“American Sniper” Trial: Eddie Routh Attorney Says Jurors Who Saw Movie Didn’t Hurt Case

“American Sniper” Trial: Eddie Routh Attorney Says Jurors Who Saw Movie Didn’t Hurt Case

ABC News(STEPHENVILLE, Texas) -- A defense attorney for Eddie Ray Routh, who was convicted of capital murder in the American Sniper trial, said the fact that some jurors had seen the movie did not hurt their case. The movie American Sniper, which was up for six Oscars, including Best Picture, is based on the memoir of famed Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. A Texas jury of 10 women and two men found Routh guilty Tuesday of killing Kyle and Kyle’s friend Chad Littlefield during a trip to a gun range Feb. 2, 2013. After the verdict, it was revealed that several members of the jury saw the movie before being selected to serve on the trial, but they maintained it did not interfere with their ability to fairly judge Routh. Attorney Shay Isham, who was part of the team that defended Routh, said in an interview with ABC News’ Nightline that there were concerns about selecting jurors for the highly publicized case, but they didn't see the movie as a reason to dismiss them. “I’ve been picking juries here for 19 years and in a whole lot of other counties, too. Just because someone has seen the movie doesn't automatically disqualify them,” Isham said. “Most of the people that can do that job and can take an oath to not be leaning one way or the other, and wait until the evidence is finished to make up their mind and deliberate the case; most of them that tell me that, they can set that aside.” “There wasn't very many jurors dismissed because of too much pretrial publicity because they've seen so much or read so much that they already had their mind made up,” he added. "You get 10 strikes in a criminal case in the state of Texas and so there’s a whole bunch of things that go into whether you want to exercise one of those precious few strikes that you have." Routh had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and his attorneys had argued the former Marine had mental disorders and was in the grips of psychosis when he fatally shot Kyle and Littlefield. Because Routh’s lawyers never disputed he killed the two men, the biggest question the jurors had to answer was whether they thought he was legally insane or whether he was faking his claims of insanity. Seven members of the 12-person jury spoke to ABC News Wednesday about how they came to the unanimous decision after two and a half hours Tuesday night. "That was something that we really had to figure out," juror Kristina Yager told ABC News. "In the beginning, I know a lot of us came into the jury questioning that, but evidence shows that there was a real definite pattern there." "When I say there’s a pattern that we saw, he would get intoxicated, get in trouble, and then the police would show up and he would say, ‘I'm a veteran, I have PTSD, I'm insane,’ you know, and every time something bad happened he pulled that card," Yager said. Routh’s mental state was at the crux of the case, with both sides presenting experts who disputed different diagnoses up until the final hours of the trial. While calling rebuttal witnesses to the stand Tuesday, the defense also re-called Dr. Mitchell Dunn, the psychiatrist who concluded Routh was insane in earlier testimony. Isham, Routh’s attorney, said he doesn't second-guess using the insanity defense for Routh. “I don’t think it was a gamble that the insanity defense was what we provided,” he said. “[It was] the most viable defensive theory because of his trips to the [Veterans Affairs] mental hospital and Green Oaks mental hospital, and the diagnosis of schizophrenia. There were other experts also that thought he was legally insane.” And Isham added that PTSD was “never a part of the defense strategy.” “Mental illness was what he was diagnosed with, mental illness was what he went to the hospital for,” he said. Routh was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but Isham said he expects an appeal to be filed in this case.

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Hedge Fund Owner Could Face $1 Million Monthly Child Support Payments

Hedge Fund Owner Could Face $1 Million Monthly Child Support Payments

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A multibillionaire hedge fund owner could be on the hook for nearly $1 million a month in child support -– including staggering sums for a private jet, vacations and stationery – according to newly filed court documents in an Illinois case that threatens to be one of the biggest divorce settlements in the country. Ken Griffin filed for divorce last year from his wife Anne after 11 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. The couple is the parents of three children, ages 2, 4 and 7. In those court filings, Ken Griffin says his estranged wife reported how much it costs to raise their children each month, including $14,000 for food, $300,000 for a private jet, $160,000 for vacations and $2,000 for stationery. According to Illinois law, children of divorce are entitled to continue the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage. A spokesperson for Dias Griffin told ABC News that her husband is trying to avoid his financial responsibilities to his family. But Griffin said in court papers that he already pays for virtually “every expense related to the children,” and that his estranged wife simply wants him to "continue funding her lifestyle." The marriage included five homes, access to two private airplanes, a household staff and 24/7 security services for the children. Dias Griffin is also asking a judge to throw out her prenuptial agreement, which she says entitles her to only 1 percent of her husband’s estimated $5 billion estate -– or around $50 million. She says she signed the document under duress the day before the couple's 2003 wedding in Chicago. Griffin is the founder of the Chicago-based Citadel LLC.

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Hedge Fund Owner Could Face $1 Million Monthly Child Support Payments

Hedge Fund Owner Could Face $1 Million Monthly Child Support Payments

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A multibillionaire hedge fund owner could be on the hook for nearly $1 million a month in child support -– including staggering sums for a private jet, vacations and stationery – according to newly filed court documents in an Illinois case that threatens to be one of the biggest divorce settlements in the country. Ken Griffin filed for divorce last year from his wife Anne after 11 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. The couple is the parents of three children, ages 2, 4 and 7. In those court filings, Ken Griffin says his estranged wife reported how much it costs to raise their children each month, including $14,000 for food, $300,000 for a private jet, $160,000 for vacations and $2,000 for stationery. According to Illinois law, children of divorce are entitled to continue the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage. A spokesperson for Dias Griffin told ABC News that her husband is trying to avoid his financial responsibilities to his family. But Griffin said in court papers that he already pays for virtually “every expense related to the children,” and that his estranged wife simply wants him to "continue funding her lifestyle." The marriage included five homes, access to two private airplanes, a household staff and 24/7 security services for the children. Dias Griffin is also asking a judge to throw out her prenuptial agreement, which she says entitles her to only 1 percent of her husband’s estimated $5 billion estate -– or around $50 million. She says she signed the document under duress the day before the couple's 2003 wedding in Chicago. Griffin is the founder of the Chicago-based Citadel LLC.

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Three New York Men Arrested in Plot to Join ISIS

Three New York Men Arrested in Plot to Join ISIS

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three New York City men were arrested Wednesday on charges they allegedly conspired to join ISIS in Syria, while also trying to carry out attacks on the terror group's behalf in the United States, the FBI said. Federal officials said the men had planned to travel to the Middle East and had also spoken about attacking President Obama or planting a bomb in Coney Island, Brooklyn, authorities said. Federal officials said Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, was arrested on Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul. Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, had a plane ticket to travel to Turkey sometime next month. He was arrested in Brooklyn, according to the feds. Abror Habibov, 30, a third man, is accused of helping fund Saidakhmetov's efforts, authorities said. He was arrested in Florida. The arrests came as FBI Director James Comey spoke Wednesday about how ISIS, also known as ISIL, is recruiting members. "ISIL in particular, is putting out a siren song through their slick propaganda through social media that goes like this: 'Troubled soul, come to the caliphate, you will live a life of glory, these are the apocalyptic end times, you will find a life of meaning here fighting for our so-called caliphate and if you can't come, kill somebody where you are.' That is a message that goes out to troubled souls everywhere," he said.

 

Three Brooklyn Residents Charged with Attempt and Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIL http://t.co/TNZPdmUpiB

— FBI (@FBI) February 25, 2015

In August 2014, Juraboev allegedly posted this message on an Uzbek-language site of ISIS: “I am in USA now. ... But is it possible to commit ourselves as dedicated martyrs anyway while here? What I’m saying is, to shoot Obama and then get shot ourselves, will it do? That will strike fear in the hearts of infidels." A week later, the FBI met with Juraboev twice. He allegedly told them that he believes in ISIS’ terrorist agenda and that he would like to go to Syria to fight with ISIS “if Allah wills,” authorities said. He also told them he would harm Obama if he could, based on president’s role in killing Muslims, his support for Israel and recent bombings of ISIS. Juraboev allegedly said he didn’t have an imminent plan to harm Obama, but that if anyone within ISIS told him to, he would, authorities said. The FBI twice met with Juraboev, where he again professed his loyalty to ISIS and repeated his claims that he would kill the president should the terror group ask him to.

“ISIL calls on its followers to come fight for the terrorist organization in Syria, and in messages to followers outside Syria, ISIL has called on them to attack police, intelligence officers or the military in their home countries including the United States,” said NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. "By pledging allegiance to ISIL, these defendants conspired to fight for a designated foreign terrorist organization either in Syria, or even New York."

In one November 2014 discussion, Saidakhmetov allegedly suggested he join the U.S. military so he could pass military information to ISIS -– and if his plan ever fell apart, he could open fire on American soldiers, according to the charging documents.

And then just last month, Saidakhmetov said he could buy a machine gun and “shoot all police” before “go[ing] to the FBI headquarters” to “kill the FBI people,” authorities said. “It was made quite plain based on those statements that if they were not able to go [to Syria or Iraq], that they would seek to acquire weapons here .. and seek to attack,” Bratton said. “Those aspirations were made quite clear." Nevertheless, by that time, Saidakhmetov and Juraboev had purchased tickets to fly to Turkey, a known destination point for those looking to sneak into Syria, the charging documents say. "The defendants looked to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, by flying to Turkey in a vain attempt to evade detection. And several of the defendants planned to commit acts of terror here -- in America -- if they could not travel, to include killing FBI agents,” added FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez. "The defendants violated the true tenants of their faith in pursuit of their radical, violent agenda. We rely on help from the community, the public and religious leaders to be mindful of those who could be radicalized. We cannot do this alone." Saidakhmetov is a Brooklyn, N.Y., resident and citizen of Kazakhstan. Juraboev and Habibov also live Brooklyn and are citizens of Uzbekistan. The men have been charged with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization. Habibov was arraigned this afternoon in Florida. His alleged accomplices have yet to face a judge. If convicted, the men each face a maximum sentence of 15 years behind bars.

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“American Sniper” Trial: Why Jurors Who Saw Movie Were Still Picked

“American Sniper” Trial: Why Jurors Who Saw Movie Were Still Picked

Keith Bernstein/Warner Bros(DALLAS) -- The prospect of jurors being biased in the "American Sniper" trial was a concern from the very beginning of the case because of the popularity of victim Chris Kyle's memoir and ensuing blockbuster film about the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history.Now, it has been revealed that several members of the jury saw the movie before being selected to serve on the trial, but they maintain that it did not interfere with their ability to fairly judge accused killer Eddie Ray Routh.Routh was found guilty on Tuesday night of the capital murders of Chris Kyle and Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield and now faces life in prison.At least two of the jurors told ABC News after Tuesday's verdict that had seen the Academy Award-nominated film and informed the prosecution and defense of that prior to being picked.About 800 people were summoned for jury selection with the expectation that only 400 to 500 would appear, officials said before the trial began. From there, they were interviewed by lawyers on both sides and had to fill out a questionnaire with 22 questions addressing their familiarity with Kyle's story as well as other issues that would come up in the trial, like the military and mental illness.Juror Barrett Hutchinson told ABC News today the questionnaire "specifically asked...could you put [your views on the film] to the wayside and make a fair and impartial judgment based on only the facts presented? And me personally, that's one of the things I processed and told myself I could do.""I laid it out on the questionnaire, told them my thoughts on it and in the end, they picked me for a juror," he said.Fellow juror Stephanie Templeton said that the movie was "awesome" but didn't have any direct connection to the case."It was basically a movie through the eyes of the sniper and his family, and it really didn't have anything to do with Mr. Routh or the killings," Templeton told ABC News. "I mean the screen went black and you saw the procession. It didn't have any information about the capital murder case that we served on."Kyle was known for having the most confirmed kills in American military history during his four tours of duty in Iraq and that made him a public figure. But the fact that a jury was being asked to decide the fate of his killer just days after a Clint Eastwood-directed film about Kyle was up for Best Picture at the Academy Awards was "truly unprecedented," according to jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius.Dimitrius did not work on this case but has been involved with high-profile cases including that of O.J. Simpson. She said that in order for a defense team to select a juror who has prior knowledge about the individuals involved in a case, they must be comfortable that the jurors will be impartial."Whatever [the jurors] said during the voir dire did not rise to a level of concern based on what the defense attorneys were looking for," she told ABC News.The film itself makes a difference too, Dimitrius said, and since an actor portraying Routh is only shown briefly at the end of the film, with no further depiction of the murder or their interaction, that likely lessened the attorneys' concern."Even though you have Hollywood portrayal in a movie, what happens in a court room is the jury's reality," she said.

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Investigation Closed on Ex-NFL Player’s Boating Accident, 16-Hour Swim

Investigation Closed on Ex-NFL Player’s Boating Accident, 16-Hour Swim

@AndySlater(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Officials have closed an investigation into the boating accident that forced former National Football League player Robert Konrad to swim about 16 hours to shore.An incident report released by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission details Konrad's account given to law enforcement after he reached shore early on Jan. 8, including an estimate that his boat's damages would cost $70,000.The Bahamian government notified the U.S. Coast Guard that it found Konrad's vessel in Grand Bahamas around Dead Man's Reef on Jan. 9, according to the incident report.

Konrad, 38, who played for the Miami Dolphins from 1999 to 2004, told emergency responders that he'd fallen off his boat around 1 p.m. on Jan. 7 as it continued on autopilot toward the Bahamas.Konrad told authorities he was taking his vessel from Boca Raton, Florida, to Riviera Beach in the Bahamas for "routine maintenance," according to the report."Konrad decided he would recreational fish as he cruised to Riviera Beach," the report said.A police video shows Konrad as he sat huddled in a police car in Palm Beach, Florida, shivering under a blanket with the heat cranked all the way up in the early hours of Jan. 8.Authorities met with Konrad and his attorney, William Rafferty, on Jan. 14 at Good Samaritan Hospital to record a witness statement. They met again on Jan. 29 at Mariner Marine in Riviera Beach to photograph the damage to the boat. A staff member at the business estimated the damage at $70,000.

The law enforcement report lists damage to his boat, including damaged windows, gear cases on both motors and the bottom gel coat and fiberglass.Konrad later recounted his ordeal for the media, saying he "prayed to God" after falling from his 38-foot boat as he was trying to reel in a fish just as a large wave hit."I shouldn't be here," Konrad told reporters.He described the frustration of seeing Coast Guard helicopters that didn't spot him. He faced darkness, 10-foot waves and 25-mile-per-hour winds while his boat moved away on autopilot. Despite being bitten by jellyfish and seeing a shark circle him, he kept swimming.Once he reached shore, he said it was "bittersweet" because he couldn't walk."I had hypothermia and my body was shaking uncontrollably. I didn't realize it was five in the morning," he said.Konrad and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

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NC District Will Have Saturday School to Make Up for Missed Days

NC District Will Have Saturday School to Make Up for Missed Days

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A North Carolina school district will be in session on Saturday and parents aren't too happy.The Gaston County school district made the announcement Tuesday on Facebook and on its website:

"Gaston County Schools will use Saturday, February 28 as an inclement weather makeup day. Students will attend school on Saturday, February 28 for a half day to make up the day missed on Tuesday, February 24. School will begin at the regular time. Dismissal for elementary schools will be at 11:30 a.m. Dismissal for middle schools and high schools will be at 12:00 noon. Breakfast and lunch will be served on Saturday."

Some parents are outraged, citing the four-day notice and inability to change weekend plans."Would you please tell me what the students who work on Saturdays and can not work on any other day because crammed enough with school weekdays. GOOD JOB GASTON COUNTY SCHOOLS," wrote one commenter."This is absolutely ridiculous! What are those of us who have things we can't get out of supposed to do? This was not well thought out. I guess we will have two unnecessary absences. Also, what about the teenagers who have weekend jobs?" wrote another.According to the school district's inclement weather policy on its website, "the Board of Education reserves the right to use early release days and Saturdays as make-up days."Some parents aren't upset though, citing that they'd rather have the kids go to school on Saturday than have a day of the upcoming spring break.One mom can't wait for Saturday: "Lol well I'm not here to complain like some of yall!! I'm happy that they are using alternate days!! Woo hooo Saturday school means more mommy free time!!! Thanks GCS."A phone call to the Gaston County school district communications department was not immediately returned.Other school districts around the country are figuring out ways to make up lost days without having students come in on the weekend.One district -- Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia -- will add six minutes of instruction per day for its high school students to make up for the schools being closed from Feb. 17 through Feb. 20.In Boston, which has been slammed by winter weather, public schools will use days previously designated as holidays to make up time. On March 17, Evacuation Day, school will be in session. Bunker Hill Day, June 17, may also be added to the school year.

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Maraschino Cherry Tycoon: The Secret Drug Lair New York City Police Uncovered

Maraschino Cherry Tycoon: The Secret Drug Lair New York City Police Uncovered

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In a scene reminiscent of the show Breaking Bad, New York City investigators raided the business of one of the nation’s largest processors of maraschino cherries -- only to find that his Brooklyn factory also served as a marijuana growing operation, authorities said.Investigators returned to the factory Wednesday in the Red Hook section, a day after the owner shot and killed himself as authorities raided it.There's a good chance the cherry atop your sundae or at the bottom of your Manhattan is from Dell’s Maraschino Cherries, a family business founded in 1948 that now appears to have also hosted what sources described to ABC News as a large-scale, elaborate marijuana growing operation.A team of city and state environmental regulators, along with prosecutors from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, had been at the company for several hours Tuesday investigating a complaint of illegal chemical dumping in the waters off Red Hook, prosecutors said.At first owner Arthur Mondella, 57, cooperated with the search. Then, as investigators discovered “flimsy shelving and a faint smell of marijuana,” a source briefed on the investigation said, Mondella became vague.

 

It's #NationalCherryMonth make sure to eat Dell's Maraschino Cherries! pic.twitter.com/fxIBnJIX6j

— Dell's Cherries (@DellsCherries) February 17, 2015

 

When a team member said, “Well we’re going to get a warrant to get behind this wall” that’s when Mondella “excused himself to his private bathroom where he apparently shot himself and died at a local hospital,” a statement from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office said.Prior to the gunshot, a source said Mondella yelled to his sister who had been standing outside the bathroom: “Take care of my kids."About 80 pounds of marijuana were recovered in three huge bags. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash was also found on the property, authorities said.Several luxury cars were also recovered, including a Rolls-Royce, a Porsche and Harley-Davidson motorcycle.Mondella has a couple prior arrests, but they are sealed. A previous 2011 arrest for assaulting his second wife at their former Brighton Beach home had been dropped, authorities said.Dell’s Maraschino Cherries had recently undergone a $5 million makeover of its Red Hook plant, which employs a dozen people.The investigation into environmental crimes continues though it remains unclear whether anyone would now face charges.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

“American Sniper” Trial: Widow Taya Kyle Praises Jury’s Decision to Convict Eddie Ray Routh

“American Sniper” Trial: Widow Taya Kyle Praises Jury’s Decision to Convict Eddie Ray Routh

Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The widow of "American Sniper" Chris Kyle has spoken out for the first time since a jury found her husband's killer guilty late Tuesday night.Taya Kyle posted a lengthy message Facebook on this "poetic morning" praising the actions of the jury."God Bless the Jury And good people of Stephenville, Texas!!" she wrote on the public figure page dedicate to her husband.The mother of two went on to share a lengthy story about a friend of her husband's who wrote a song that matches her mood Wednesday morning before paying tribute to her husband."Chris, you are the love of my life. You live on in my heart. You always will. I hope we all live lives that make you proud," she wrote. "And babe, Rest assured you don't need a fancy resting place -- you live on...Safe In the hearts you left behind."Taya Kyle was a constant presence at trial and was the first witness called to the stand.She spoke emotionally about her life with her husband and their final exchange.She attended the Academy Awards on Sunday in support of the film based on her husband's autobiography and returned to Texas for the remainder of the trial. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Video Shows Ex-NFL Player’s Shock at Learning He Swam 16 Hours to Shore

Video Shows Ex-NFL Player’s Shock at Learning He Swam 16 Hours to Shore

tuja66/iStock/Thinkstock(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Former National Football League player Robert Konrad couldn't believe it when he was told he swam 16 hours to the Florida shore after falling off his boat into the Atlantic Ocean, according to video that has surfaced of emergency responders comforting him after his ordeal."You are a lucky son of a b****," a voice can be heard telling Konrad as he sat huddled in a police car in Palm Beach, Florida, shivering under a blanket with the heat cranked all the way up in the early hours of Jan. 9.Konrad, 38, who played for the Miami Dolphins from 1999 to 2004, had told the responders, including police and rescue workers, that he'd fallen off his boat around 1 p.m. as it continued on autopilot toward the Bahamas.One official offers Konrad a seat in a vehicle as the other offers to look for another blanket."How far out were you?" one voice asks."About 10 miles," Konrad says. "I've been swimming since 1 o'clock.""One o'clock in the afternoon?" the voice asks in disbelief."What time is it now?" Konrad asks."Like almost 5 o'clock in the morning," the voice responds."Shut the **** up," Konrad says with shock in his voice.After asking for water, Konrad asks, "Is there any chance you have a phone...to just let my family know I'm alive?"Konrad dictates a number and a police officer can be heard telling Konrad's mother, "He's OK. He's a little cold and wet. He was in the water for a while but he's fine and we have the medics looking at him now."Konrad later recounted his ordeal for the media, saying he "prayed to God" after falling from his 38-foot boat as he was trying to reel in a fish just as a large wave hit."I shouldn't be here," Konrad told reporters.He described the frustration of seeing Coast Guard helicopters that didn't spot him. He faced darkness, 10-foot waves and 25-mile-per-hour winds while his boat moved away on autopilot. Despite being bitten by jellyfish and seeing a shark circle him, he kept swimming.Once he reached shore, he said it was "bittersweet" because he couldn't walk."I had hypothermia and my body was shaking uncontrollably. I didn't realize it was five in the morning," he said.

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Wesleyan Student Lawyers: Don’t Rush to Judgment on Drug Charges

Wesleyan Student Lawyers: Don’t Rush to Judgment on Drug Charges

Left to right: Rama Agha Al Kakib, 20, Andrew Olson, 20, Eric Lonergan, 21, and Zachary Kramer, 21. (Middletown Police)(MIDDLETOWN, Conn.) -- Lawyers for two of the Wesleyan University students arrested on drug charges after a rash of overdoses say they intend to plead not guilty and have asked the public not judge their clients before all the facts are out. Wesleyan students Eric Lonergan, 21, Andrew Olson, 20, Zachary Kramer, 21, and Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20, were arrested Tuesday on various drug charges. Lonergan's attorney, Jason Donovan, said his client intends to plead not guilty. “[There was] no allegation that he sold any of these substances that created the serious situation with these students," Donovan said. Jennifer Zito, the attorney for Kramer, said her client also intends to plead not guilty. “There was no MDMA found in his possession. He was unfortunately caught up in a dragnet sweep,” said Zito. “I’m asking the public not to prejudge until the facts are in.” Lonergan, Kramer and Al Nakib appeared in Middletown Superior Court in Connecticut Wednesday for their arraignment hearings, according to the Middletown Police. They did not enter pleas, a court official said, but they were released on bond. The students are due back in court March 3. The Middletown Superior Court clerk did not know who was legally representing Olson or Al Nakib, and Olson did not respond to an email to his student account. All four students have been suspended by Wesleyan pending a formal hearing. Over the weekend, 11 people were hospitalized because of suspected overdoses related to the drug MDMA, also known as "Molly." Middletown Police Chief William McKenna told reporters Tuesday that the doses that caused the hospitalizations likely "had a mixture of designer drug chemicals." Wesleyan University President Michael Roth said in a statement the university takes drug use seriously and is cooperating with authorities. "We will do everything we can to make our community as safe as possible," Roth said. He added that the hospitalized students had improved. “I am pleased to report that the two students who remain at Hartford Hospital have made progress,” Roth said in a statement. “We continue to be hopeful about their recovery, and we ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers.” Lonergan faces charges of possession of a controlled substance and 16 counts of illegal obtaining or supplying of drugs, police said. Olson faces a charge of sale of a hallucinogen, two counts of possession of hallucinogen and marijuana possession charges. Kramer faces charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a regulated substance and possession of marijuana less than 1/2 ounce. Al Nakib faces three counts of possession of a controlled substance, as well as possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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

“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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FBI Releases Video of ‘Black Hat Bandits’ Robbing Bank

FBI Releases Video of ‘Black Hat Bandits’ Robbing Bank

FBI(NEW YORK) -- The FBI released a video Tuesday it says shows the so-called "Black Hat Bandits" in action robbing a bank.The pair has robbed seven banks in Virginia and Maryland in the last two months, according to the FBI.

They received their name because they don black hats, winter coats, sunglasses and some kind of facial disguise -- like a ski mask or a fake beard -- during the robberies.The video released on Tuesday shows the two robbing a bank in Arnold, Maryland, on Jan. 30, the FBI said.Their most recent robberies happened on Feb. 18 when they hit two banks within 40 minutes of each other in Virginia.The robbers have become increasingly violent, the FBI says, "most recently holding a gun to a customer's head and jumping teller counters in attempts to gain access [to] bank vaults."Based on their tactics, the FBI believes the robbers either have military or police training.

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

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

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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