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Judge Denies Change of Venue Motion in Colorado Movie Theater Trial

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office(AURORA, Colo.) — A last-minute attempt by lawyers for alleged Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes to get the venue of his murder trial changed was denied by a judge on Thursday, with opening statements in the trial slated for next week.

Lawyers for Holmes had previously moved for a change of venue in April 2014, but that attempt was also denied.

Twenty-four jurors were seated last week. The opening statements are scheduled to begin on Monday.

Holmes is accused in the shooting that left 12 people dead and many more injured at an Aurora movie theater in 2013. He faces 24 counts of first-degree murder.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

FAA Investigating Drone Siting Near Dulles International Airport

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in National News

estt/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident that occurred on Thursday morning when a drone was spotted near the runways for Dulles International Airport.

The FAA released a statement Thursday saying that the crew of a Trans States Airlines flight spotted the drone at about 11 a.m. The pilots said the unmanned aircraft was flying about 1,000 feet above the earth within three to four miles of the airport.

The Trans States Airlines flight was able to land safely.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Teen Suspended for Fake Bomb Vest Prom Proposal Stands by His Actions

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Ibrahim Ahmad was suspended for five days from La Center High School in Washington after wearing a fake bomb vest for his prom proposal. Photo by: Ibrahim Ahmad (LA CENTER, Wash.) — The teen who donned a fake bomb vest to issue a prom proposal and received a five-day suspension for his actions told ABC News that he stood by his idea and believes the school’s punishment was unfair.

Ibrahim Ahmad, 18, of La Center, Washington, pulled the stunt Tuesday during lunch at La Center High School. It was witnessed by the principal and disciplinary action followed swiftly after, but Ahmad said his peers didn’t have a problem with the idea.

“The people that were in the cafeteria understood what was going on….I had a friend help me make the posters. Teachers even saw me make the posters,” he told ABC News.

Ahmad said he created the simulated device from a paint ball jacket and red tubes. Along with the vest he carried a sign that read: “I kno it’s a little late, but I’m kinda the bomb, Rilea will u be my date to prom?”

His proposal was well received, he said.

“They applauded. You know, it was funny. The cafeteria was just — it was a happy moment,” he said, adding that his intended date, Rilea Wolfe, accepted the proposal.

Since Ahmad can no longer attend the Saturday event — his suspension includes the prom — he and Wolfe will instead go to dinner and a movie, he said.

Ahmad said he was born in Seattle and is of Middle Eastern background. Asked whether he understood why his actions could be viewed with particular sensitivity given the current climate, he replied: “Well, wouldn’t that just be fueling, like, the stereotypes?”

“Being a Middle Eastern child, you’re growing up with all these bomb jokes. It’s kind of like it’s always a thing that’s there but … the people that were there, they understood the situation,” he added.

Ahmad, who plans to study biology in college, told ABC News that he wouldn’t change his prom proposal if he had the opportunity, and he believes the school’s actions were too harsh.

“I’m not allowed to go on the school property and I can’t do soccer right now because I’m suspended but I feel like it’s — five days is a bit much, ‘cause even kids that get into, like, fights, they get suspended for like a day and that’s something more serious,” he said. “What they said I did was I disrupted the learning environment of the study body. It was during lunch, so.”

Mark Mansell, the school district’s superintendent, did not respond to a message left for him by ABC News at his office Thursday, but in an interview published Wednesday in The Columbian newspaper he said the punishment was warranted.

“I want all my kids to feel safe and supported, but there’s a line,” Mansell told the newspaper. “Given the way the world is today and school safety, even if one parent or one student was upset about this, it causes issues.”

A short video on the newspaper’s website shows the vest-wearing Ahmad making his proposal while onlookers cheer.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Loyal Listeners Club

Michael Brown’s Parents File Civil Suit in Son’s Death

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Brown Family / Facebook(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Soon after Michael Brown was fatally shot by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer last summer, his parents hinted at the possibility of a lawsuit. Now, the suit has been filed.

The Brown family is seeking unspecified damages for the 18-year-old’s death on Aug. 9 at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson.

Wilson, who has since quit the Ferguson Police Department, has been cleared by a grand jury of criminal wrongdoing in Brown’s death and cleared by the Justice Department of civil rights violations.

“Not only should he have been indicted from the very beginning, but he should definitely be held responsible for the killing of Mike Brown, Jr.,” Brown family attorney Anthony Gray said on Thursday.

Gray will try to make that point before a civil jury in a lawsuit filed against the city of Ferguson, police chief Thomas Jackson, and Wilson.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Van Ride at Center of Mystery Surrounding Freddie Grey Arrest in Baltimore

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Courtesy Murphy, Falcon & Murphy(BALTIMORE) — Four days after the unexplained death of Freddie Grey, questions still surround what happened while the 25-year-old was in Baltimore police custody.

Police have not clarified why Grey was arrested or how he became injured, but perhaps the most mysterious part of the incident is what exactly happened during Grey’s approximately 30 minutes inside a Baltimore police van.

“I know that when Mr. Grey was placed inside that van, he was able to talk and he was upset,” Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said at a news conference Monday. “And when Mr. Grey was taken out of that van, he could not talk and he could not breathe.”

“I am deeply troubled by this,” Rodriguez added.

Here is what has been reported:

Before the van:

A lawyer for the family said Grey was “chased” by police the morning of April 12 “without any evidence he had committed a crime.” According to authorities, a police van was requested at 8:42 a.m. to transport him, and Grey asked for an inhaler.

Cellphone video taken at one point appears to capture Grey screaming as officers drag him to the police van.

In the van:

At 8:46 a.m., after Grey was in the van, the driver believed Grey was acting “irate,” police said. An officer asked the van to stop so paperwork could be completed, police said, and Grey was taken out of the vehicle, placed in leg irons and then put back in the van.

At 8:59 a.m., the van driver requested that an additional “unit” check on Grey, police said.

Police union officials don’t believe Grey was wearing a seat belt in the van, they said at a press conference Wednesday.

Who else was in the van?

A second person was inside the prisoner transport wagon with Grey, police said Wednesday. He is considered a witness in a criminal investigation so his name will not be released, police said.

Grey’s condition:

At 9:23 a.m., medical services directed a technician to respond for an injured patient, as heard on a recording of the call that was publicly released.

At 9:24 a.m., the police requested paramedics take Grey to an area hospital. In a subsequent charging document, police said, “During transport to Western District via wagon transport the Defendant suffered a medical emergency and was immediately transported to Shock Trauma.”

At 9:37 a.m., medical responders said Grey was not breathing, according to EMS reports.

Family lawyer William Murphy Jr. said, “While in police custody, his spine was 80 percent severed at his neck. He lapsed into a coma, died, was resuscitated, stayed in a coma and last Monday, underwent extensive surgery at Shock Trauma to save his life.”

The Baltimore police agree that Grey suffered a spinal injury, but the department is still investigating how and when.

The police union put forth its theory Wednesday.

“Our position is something happened inside that van,” said Michael E. Davey, an attorney for the Baltimore police union said at a news conference Wednesday. “We need to figure out what happened.”

The Department of Justice is looking into whether a “prosecutable civil rights violation occurred,” a Justice Department official said Tuesday.

According to Baltimore police, the investigation into Grey’s death will be turned over to the state attorney’s office on May 1.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Song of The Day

Trans Teen to Get Apology from SC DMV for Forcing Her to Remove Makeup

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Chase Culpepper, a transgender girl, is now getting an apology from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles after she was forced to remove her makeup when trying to take a photo for her first driver’s license in March of last year.

DMV employees told Culpepper, 17, she needed to “look male” in her license photo and refused to provide her with her driver’s license until she removed the makeup she was wearing, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) told ABC News Thursday in a statement. The TLDEF was the legal group that filed a federal lawsuit against the South Carolina DMV on Chase’s behalf.

A settlement was made Monday, according to court documents, which said the South Carolina DMV agreed to change its photo policy, implement training on the treatment of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, allow Culpepper to return to the DMV and get her license photograph taken wearing makeup, and apologize to Culpepper for how she was treated.

“I am thrilled with the outcome of my lawsuit,” Culpepper said. “My clothing and makeup reflect who I am. From day one, all I wanted was to get a driver’s license that looks like me. Now I will be able to do that. It was hurtful to be singled out for being transgender and made to feel that somehow I wasn’t good enough. With this settlement, the DMV can no longer force transgender people to look like someone they’re not.”

Culpepper, who was assigned male sex at birth, originally identified as gender nonconforming last year, but has since begun identifying as a girl, the TLEDF said.

DMV officials asked Culpepper to remove her makeup after passing her driving test last year because of a policy banning license photos when “someone is purposefully altering his or her appearance,” according to court documents.

Culpepper’s mom, Teresa Culpepper, said she was proud of her daughter for “having the courage to stand up to the discrimination she faced at the DMV” and that her “victory will make the DMV experience much better for transgender and gender nonconforming people in the future.”

TLDEF Staff Attorney Ethan Rice added that the settlement sends a strong message about equal rights.

“Transgender and gender nonconforming people are entitled to be themselves without interference from the DMV,” he said. “It is not the role of the DMV or its employees to decide how men and women should look. People should be able to get a driver’s license without being subjected to sex discrimination. The policy changes and training that the DMV will implement in response to Chase’s lawsuit will help all transgender and gender nonconforming South Carolina residents in the future.”

The South Carolina DMV’s lead attorneys did not immediately respond to ABC News’ emails requesting additional comment. Additionally, the South Carolina DMV’s website was down Thursday afternoon.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Warren Weinstein: A Look at the American Hostage Killed During Counterterrorism Operation

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Warren Weinstein’s wife Elaine and their daughters Alisa Weinsten and Jennifer Coakley spoke with reporters in 2013 about Warren’s kidnapping. Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The American held hostage by al Qaeda who was was killed during a U.S. counterterrorism operation was a former Peace Corps official working in Pakistan for community projects.

Dr. Warren Weinstein was taken hostage in 2011 when he was a USAID contract worker in Lahore, Pakistan, who was helping Pakistani families escape poverty, according to President Obama. Gunmen stormed his apartment and took him captive before he was traded to al Qaeda.

Thursday, the White House said Weinstein and another hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national, were killed during an American government’s counterterrorism operation this past January. President Obama called him a humanitarian who “devoted his life” to help people across Africa and South Asia.

Weinstein’s wife, Elaine, spoke to ABC’s Good Morning America in December 2013 after seeing a video of her husband.

“I wanted to die right there on the spot,” Weinstein’s wife, Elaine, said at the time about her reaction to the video, “because he has no idea how hard we’ve tried to get him back…and it’s just heartbreaking because he’s asking for help and I can’t give him any.”

In 2012, Weinstein pleaded with President Obama to comply with the terrorists’ demands, saying, “My life is in your hands, Mr. President,” he said. “If you accept the demands, I live. If you don’t accept the demands, then I die.”

“I’ve done a lot of service for my country, and I would hope that my country will now look after me and take care of me and meet the demands of the mujahedeen,” he added.

“I tell the captive soldiers of al Qaeda and the Taliban and our female prisoners held in the prisons of the crusaders and their collaborators, ‘We have not forgotten you and in order to free you we have taken hostage the Jewish American Warren Weinstein,'” al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a 30-minute statement months after Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nugget of Knowldege

Oklahoma Admits Oil and Gas Industry Responsible for Dramatic Rise in Earthquakes

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(NORMAN, Okla.) — For the first time in the state’s history, Oklahoma’s state government officially recognized the long held scientific consensus linking the disposal of oil and gas wastewater with the record number of earthquakes plaguing it in recent years.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Geological Survey released a statement declaring it was “very likely that the majority of recent earthquakes, particularly those in central and north-central Oklahoma, are triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells.”

The statement coincided with the launch of a website produced by Oklahoma’s Energy and Environment Cabinet, featuring an interactive map and links to expert studies detailing the scientific evidence behind the link between Oklahoma’s earthquakes and the disposal of oil and gas waste water. The website represents the first time Oklahoma lawmakers have recognized the link, after years of official skepticism.

Hydraulic fracturing, a controversial gas extraction process involving the injection of waste water into deep underground wells, has boomed in Oklahoma. In 2009, the state’s landscape featured more than 32,000 oil wells, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Before Oklahoma’s recent oil and gas boom, which began in the mid 2000s, the state experienced only about one and a half earthquakes exceeding magnitutde 3.0 (the level at which most humans can detect an earthquake without scientific instruments) in an average year, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Last year, the state recorded 585 quakes of 3.0 or larger, about 600 times greater than the background seismic rate, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Another recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey claimed that the 5.6 magnitude quake that struck Prague, Oklahoma, in 2011, resulting in several injuries and damage to more than a dozen homes, appears to have been “waste water disposal induced.”

“There may be a link between earthquakes and disposal wells,” Chad Warmington, President of Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, said in a statement released Monday, “but we — industry, regulators, researchers, lawmakers or state residents — still don’t know enough about how waste water injection impacts Oklahoma’s underground faults.”

But William Leith, senior science advisor for earthquake hazards at the U.S. Geological Survey, claims that evidence for waste water induced earthquakes is “well established in theory, laboratory and field experiments.”

“The earthquake rate in Oklahoma has increased so significantly that it raises the risk of a larger damaging earthquake,” said Leith, who also warned that “Oklahomans should be concerned about this increased risk.”

“Oklahoma state agencies are already taking action to address this issue and protect homeowners,” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said in a statement released on Tuesday, referring to her efforts to assemble the Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity last year.

But critics were quick to point out that the Governor’s announcement came late and does not impose any measures to curtail the injection of waste water.

“The word finally popped across my head,” said Cory Williams, a Democract and State Representative who has been an outspoken advocate for a moratorium on waste water injection and often points to scientific evidence of waste water induced earthquakes that he says has been available for years.

“I have been frustrated,” Williams said. “We have a lot of bills that are all very much pro-industry, oil and gas related, yet we don’t have a single bill in the process in regard to induced seismicity and oil and gas operations. I think that’s a failure to act and a failure to protect our constituents.”

Oklahoma isn’t the only state experiencing a dramatic rise in earthquakes as vast swaths of central and eastern parts of the country have recorded an uptick in seismic activity during their region’s oil and gas boom.

Between the years 1973-2008 there was an average of 21 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or larger in the central and eastern United States per year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Last year, there were 659 quakes of 3.0 or larger.

The increase in seismicity has been found to coincide with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells in states including Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, and Oklahoma, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Exclusive: Baggage Handler Says He Expected to Die After Waking Inside Cargo Hold

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Willa Junior, the baggage handler who fell asleep inside the cargo hold of an Alaska Airlines flight, said he didn’t expect to survive.

“In my mind I said, ‘This is not happening. This is just a joke,'” he said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

The baggage handler said he woke up during the April 13 flight after a piece of luggage fell on his head.

Junior said he called his company, Menzies Aviation, and next called 911, but the call was cut after 44 seconds. So he started banging at the ceiling — so loud, that the plane’s passengers and crew could hear him.

“I was yelling, ‘Help me, somebody’s down here,’” he said.

Junior later texted his mother, expressing his worry and telling her that he loved her.

The plane, which was headed to Los Angeles, returned to Seattle after 14 minutes in the air.

At this point, Junior is still employed as a ramp agent with Menzies Aviation, which contracts with airlines to handle baggage. But Alaska Airlines permanently banned him from working on the airline’s flights.

Junior said he’s sorry for all the trouble he caused, especially for passengers whose plane was forced to turn around.

He said he learned a lesson, too.

“Don’t sleep on planes, or don’t doze off on a plane,” he said, “even though the job is hard, you know, stressful. Learn from my mistake.”

ABC Breaking US News | US News Videos

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pet of the Week

Three Passengers on SkyWest Airlines Flight Lose Consciousness

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(HARTFORD, Conn.) — Three passengers on a Wednesday SkyWest Airlines flight reported a loss of consciousness, the airline reported.

SkyWest Airlines Flight 5622 — operating as United Express — made an unscheduled landing in Buffalo due to the passengers losing consciousness. The passengers were evaluated after the plane landed, and the flight later arrived at its intended destination of Hartford, Connecticut.

The passengers who reported a loss of consciousness were not hospitalized, the airline said in a press release.

SkyWest Airlines is continuing to investigate the matter — but the airline says there are no indications of a pressurization problem on the plane.

ABC Breaking US News | US News Videos

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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