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Aaron Hernandez Prosecutor: Records ‘Show the Path’ to Murder

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(FALL RIVER, Mass.) — The murder of Odin Lloyd began with a text message, prosecutors said Thursday at former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez’s murder trial in Bristol County, Massachusetts, as they laid out their timeline of the killing.

Hernandez “texted Odin Lloyd,” with whom other messages suggested he was upset, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bombger told jurors in his opening statement. “He told Odin Lloyd he was going to come out to his house that night.”

Hernandez was driving when he, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace picked up Lloyd from his home at 2:30 a.m. on June 17, 2013, and brought him to an industrial park not far from Gillette Stadium, where Hernandez was a standout Patriots tight end with a $40 million contract, Bomberg said.

“Odin Lloyd was shot six times,” Bomberg told the jury.

Hernandez, Ortiz and Wallace “left evidence at the scene, they took evidence with them,” Bomberg said. “In some cases, they were successful at destroying evidence.”

The weapon in the killing of Lloyd, 27, a semi-pro football player, has never been recovered.

Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty to Lloyd’s murder, sat at the defense table in a dark suit, white shirt and light colored tie.

Ortiz and Wallace also have pleaded not guilty in the case and will be tried separately.

Hernandez’s defense attorney, Michael Fee, in his opening statement, declared his client “an innocent man” and called the prosecution’s account of events “just a story and it’s not true.”

“Aaron Hernandez did not murder his friend Odin Lloyd,” Fee told the jury.

Fee insisted his client lacked intent to murder and said the prosecutors are only trying to “dazzle and distract.”

“You come with an open mind,” Fee said. “Give us a chance to show you the truth.”

Nevertheless, Bomberg asserted Hernandez “committed the crime of murder” and he said video surveillance, cellphone records and photographs “show the path.”

Ten minutes after Lloyd was shot, video surveillance showed Hernandez, Ortiz and Wallace return to Hernandez’s house, where Hernandez was seen at the entrance to his basement holding a gun.

“That, ladies and gentlemen, is a Glock,” Bomberg said.

Lloyd’s relatives sat in court as the prosecutor explained where he was shot and the shell casings that were found. A tear was seen rolling down the cheek of Lloyd’s mother, and other relatives sobbed or comforted one another.

It was the defense that first tied Hernandez to the team now preparing for the Super Bowl.

In June 2013, “Aaron Hernandez was in his offseason with the New England Patriots and enjoying his lifestyle,” Fee said.

It was a lifestyle, Fee added, that was not unusual for an unmarried 23-year-old professional athlete. Hernandez liked to drink, Fee said, liked to smoke marijuana and liked to go to nightclub with his friends, one of whom was Lloyd.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pet of the Week

Small Plane Lands on NJ Highway

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

File photo. (VStock/Thinkstock)(WEST MILFORD, N.J.) — A small plane has landed on a highway in New Jersey, according to ABC News’ affiliate WABC-TV.

The plane landed intact on Route 23 in West Milford on Thursday, WABC reported.

Andrew May told WABC he was driving his truck down the highway when he saw the Cessna fixed-wing aircraft. He said the pilot guided the plane onto the highway to avoid traffic and then pulled to the side of the road.

“It almost felt like the plane hit us,” he said. “That’s how close it was. Thank God it didn’t.”

He added, “He did a really good job landing the plane, so kudos to him.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

UVA Sorority Members Outraged over Frat Party Ban

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

LanceKing/iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — Sorority members at the University of Virginia have been ordered by their national chapters to avoid all fraternity events this weekend and stay in their homes during those functions, sparking outrage among many students at the school.

This new mandate comes right before a night famously known throughout the Greek community as Boys’ Bid Night — a night where fraternities welcome new members and invite sorority sisters to their parties. Traditionally, Boys’ Bid Night is a night of heavy drinking and partying, for both fraternities and sororities, but now sorority sisters are being ordered to not leave their houses at all.

University president Teresa A. Sullivan released a statement Thursday regarding the mandate.

“The National Panhellenic Conference and its member national organizations arrived at this decision and issued relevant instructions to their chapters in Charlottesville pursuant to their own policies. The University was not involved in this decision, and we consider this a matter between the national organizations and their local chapters here in Charlottesville,” she said in the statement.

Earlier this month, the University of Virginia lifted a suspension on Greek life after fraternities and sororities agreed to new regulations aimed at making parties safer for students. These rules were announced as part of the process of restarting Greek activities on the scenic Charlottesville campus that was rocked last semester by a now-discredited Rolling Stone magazine article that described a culture of drinking and sexual abuse at UVA.

Many students are not taking the most recent regulation lightly.

Nicolette Gendron, a fourth-year student in Kappa Alpha Theta at UVA, said she is angered by the situation.

“It takes away choice, and a women’s choice over her own safety and over her own body and I think it codifies women as sex objects. Just completely take the women out of the equation for their own good,” Gendron told ABC News. “How come men still get to have their parties and we have to be locked in our sorority houses? It just doesn’t make sense.”

Lindsey Bond, a former member of a sorority at UVA and a fourth-year student, also finds the mandate upsetting, believing that it is hurting women rather than helping them.

“I think it’s an ill-placed attempt to promote something positive. I think that it comes from a place of wanting to help but ultimately it kind of does the opposite because it stigmatizes women and sort of places them once again in a position where they don’t have authority,” Bond said. “What would have been more apt would have been really to sort of foster a conversation with sororities.”

Student Council representative Abraham Axler, chair of the Representative Body, co-sponsored a resolution asking for the sorority national presidents to come to campus Friday and have a conversation about this issue.

“It is a fundamental mischaracterization that cancelling Boys Bid Night makes women safer,” Axler said.

“Where [this mandate] crossed the line is that there was no communication, there was no collaboration with Greek women of the University of Virginia,” he said.

“This is not just a bunch of women who are just upset since they can’t go out on Saturday night. I think what people are really upset about is this absolute affront to our self-governance,” Axler noted.

Fraternity members are also furious, since the situation comes after they had to undergo major changes under the new Fraternal Organization Agreement.

“Under the new fraternity rules we are required to have an invite list and invite people out to parties by 11:59 p.m. the Tuesday before an event, which we have done already, and we are getting a lot of women saying they aren’t going to come because of this ban,” said a third-year student in a fraternity, who asked not to be identified because his organization instructed members not to speak with the media. “I don’t understand how the ISC thinks they can lock people up until two in the morning.”

The university’s policy now requires beer to be served in cans, fraternities to register their functions with the Inter Fraternity Council by 11:59 p.m. on the Tuesday before an event and “sober monitors” on hand wearing a designated identifier for all official chapter gatherings.

The University of Virginia says it was not involved in conversations with the sororities regarding this ban.

“This is a matter between the national organizations and their local chapters here in Charlottesville,” University Spokesperson Anthony de Bruyn told ABC News in a statement.

“With regard to activities scheduled for this weekend, we have confidence in our students’ ability to use good judgment, be mindful of one another’s safety, and adhere to the new safety practices developed by them and outlined in the recently revised Fraternal Organization Agreements,” de Bruyn added.

The National Panhellenic Conference said it has nothing to do with the new mandate, saying the decision to enforce it falls on each sorority’s national president. However, it remains unclear how it will be enforced by each sorority.

“Sorority organizations with chapters present on UVA campus, that are also NPC member organizations, collectively made the decision to not participate in men’s bid night events. This directive from the sorority organizations and their inter/national presidents is intended to help uphold a NPC Unanimous Agreement of women not participating in men’s recruitment and address safety and risk management concerns associated with this tradition,” the National Panhellenic Council said in a statement to ABC News.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Crusin In Cruces

Clipper System to Bring More Snow to Northeast

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(NEW YORK) — As millions are still digging out from a record-breaking blizzard that slammed New England this week, a clipper system is moving through the Ohio Valley and Northeast on Thursday and Friday.

Overnight, the clipper dumped snow and ice in Michigan, prompting many schools to close on Thursday. It will next cut through Ohio, Pennsylvania and western New York as it heads towards the Northeast.

The roads for the Friday morning commute could be a bit messy and slick from New York City to Boston, where up to 1 inch and 2-4 inches of snow could fall, respectively.

Higher amounts are expected up north, especially in parts of northern Vermont and Maine. Portland, Maine is forecast to get between 3 and 6 inches of snow.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Maine, where up to a foot of snow could fall in some areas.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pilot Describes ‘Hardest Part’ of Parachuting Down to Ocean

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

US Coast Guard(NEW YORK) — With a parachute over his head, a life-vest around his neck and his plane hurtling towards the Pacific Ocean, pilot Lue Morton paused not to pray but to take a selfie with his GoPro camera.

“It was kind of funny,” Morton told ABC News. “Right before that, the gentleman in the Coast Guard told me, ‘I do not envy you at all.'”

Morton, 25, was seven hours into a solo flight from California to Hawaii Sunday when his single-engine Cirrus SR-22 suffered what Morton believes was a malfunction in the fuel system.

After calling for help on his satellite phone, Morton picked up the phone again to call his dad, Pat Morton.

“It kind of takes on a new meaning when your typical end of your phone call conversation is the typical ‘I love you,’ and then, well, ‘Hopefully, I’ll be able to tell you that again,’” Lue Morton said.

“The hardest part of that flight was making that phone call,” he said. “At that point I told them, ‘I’m probably going to be ditching in the water.’”

Morton did ditch his plane into the water at the advice of the U.S. Coast Guard, which realized Morton would not make it to land or within range of a rescue helicopter.

Coast Guard officials diverted Morton south of his position to the location of a nearby Holland America cruise ship in the middle of an 18-day round-trip cruise to Lahaina, Hawaii, from San Diego, that had agreed to help.

As Morton, a pilot since the age of 17, circled the ship with the fuel in his plane dwindling, he prepared to pull the “airframe parachute system,” a standard feature on the Cirrus planes Morton flies as a pilot at The Flight Academy.

“I felt like a 5-year-old standing on a high dive looking down,” Morton said. “I was like ‘OK, alright, here we go.’”

The parachute deployed with a controlled explosion, something that Morton said caught him off guard despite his preparation.

“You tell yourself what’s going to happen and you talk yourself through it…but you’re still not quite ready for what’s going to happen,” he said.

Morton grabbed his life raft in the ocean and said he then wondered if he would be able to make it out.

“There’s a lot of things that could have gone wrong,” Morton said, “[such as] if I get my pant leg or shirt sleeve caught on something as I’m getting out, or I get a huge swell or something that cascades over the aircraft or rolls the aircraft.”

None of those things did go wrong for Morton. He watched from his tiny life raft as his new plane sank into the ocean.

Morton was then picked up by a boat sent from the Holland America cruise ship.

“I’m really grateful that they were able to take care of me while I was there,” Morton said. “First time on a cruise boat,” he joked. “Hopefully, the last I’m going to drop in on.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Double Your Dollars

Super Bowl Security: Law Enforcement Deploying the Latest Tech

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

NFL Media(GLENDALE, Ariz.) — The Super Bowl is supposed to be about fun and games, but law enforcement is planning for every possible security scenario.

High-tech scanners are being used to search every item entering the University of Phoenix Stadium — from fixtures and food to the costume worn by halftime performer Katy Perry, customs and border protection program manager Ronald Nunn said.

“Katy Perry’s stage came in last night,” Nunn said. “We’ve got port-a-potties. We’ve got everything — food, hot dogs, hamburgers, the NFL paraphernalia, jerseys, everything.”

Officers will be wearing portable radiation detectors, and bomb-sniffing dogs will also be employed.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, in an exclusive interview inside the stadium, told ABC News that security experts are on high alert, with a focus on smaller-scale and lone wolf-style attacks.

“Our challenges in Homeland Security are evolving. We have more concerns about domestic-based acts of violence, inspired by things people may see or read on the Internet,” Johnson said.

While Johnson said there are no credible threats against this weekend’s game, he said authorities are prepared to respond by any means necessary. That security involves a U.S. Customs Black Hawk helicopter, part of a fleet of aircraft guarding the Super Bowl from above. F-16 fighter jets will also be in the air.

Roughly 30 miles of airspace over the big game is restricted.

World News Videos | ABC World News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Despite 89 Percent Disability Rating, Ex-NFL Star Shines on “Survivor”

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(NEW YORK) — After a gritty and muscular performance on CBS’ Survivor, a former NFL star lineman, Brad Culpepper, is being accused of fraud and deceit by the insurance company that two years earlier paid him $175,000 in workers’ compensation for his 89 percent disability rating.

According to a civil lawsuit, Culpepper told doctors of “low back pain and stiffness which is almost always present,” and said he had “quite a bit of difficulty…getting into or out of the bath and performing heavy activities around his home.”

Yet, on the Survivor episode, aired in 2013 and filmed on a remote island in the Philippines, Culpepper leads his team through a series of strenuous tasks: paddling a canoe, diving under water repeatedly, retrieving large crates and stacking them on the shore.

“I was on pain medication, and I had a back procedure right before that,” Culpepper told ABC News in his first public comments on the lawsuit.

“Just because I chose to do things that are contra [sic] to my body, doesn’t mean I’m not in pain, and doesn’t mean I’m not impaired,” Culpepper said in the interview to be broadcast Thursday night on World News Tonight with David Muir and Nightline.

Now a prosperous personal injury lawyer in Tampa, Culpepper says he was hurt when front page headlines described his as a fraud and a fake.

“This whole lawsuit is ludicrous,” he told ABC News. “I’ve worked too hard in my life to have this as a headline.”

The insurance company alleges Culpepper “willfully and deceptively provided false information” to the doctors who examined him.

“I told the truth,” Culpepper said, turning over a file of medical reports and X-rays that he says prove he suffered permanent injuries during his NFL career when he played for the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chicago Bears.

At one point in the interview, as Culpepper grew frustrated at the questions of how he could perform so well on Survivor given his 89 percent disability rating, the 46-year-old former defensive lineman stripped down to his undershirt to show a torn bicep, and a serious shoulder injury.

“Is that normal?” he asked. “That’s not, okay, that causes me pain.”

Culpepper said he had no regrets about his appearance on Survivor, which triggered the fraud allegations.

“I did it for Monica,” he said, speaking of his wife who had previously appeared on Survivor and was invited back only if he would join her on the program.

But she says it was a mistake.

“I 100 percent wish I had never asked him to be on the show,” she told ABC News. “For all that he’s going through right now and being this insurance company’s target, is not worth it.”

World News Videos | ABC World News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

Rare Sierra Nevada Red Fox Spotted at Yosemite National Park

Thursday, January 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

National Parks Service(YOSEMITE, Calif.) — A Sierra Nevada red fox, one of North America’s rarest mammals, was spotted in Yosemite National Park for the first time in nearly 100 years, authorities announced.

The fox was spotted using motion-sensitive cameras on two separate occasions, Dec. 13, 2014 and Jan. 4, 2015.

“We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox, one of the most rare and elusive animals in the Sierra Nevada,” said Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent, in a statement. “National parks like Yosemite provide habitat for all wildlife and it is encouraging to see that the red fox was sighted in the park.”

According to the National Parks Service, the red foxes have previously been seen north of the park in the Sonora Pass area. The Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator) is slightly smaller, with darker fur than other red foxes. Fewer than 50 of the foxes are thought to exist today.

The species’ stability was addressed in a 1937 book by Joseph Grinnell, Fur-bearing Mammals of California.

“The Sierran red fox is present in such small aggregate numbers, and lives so far removed from human settlements, that it rarely if ever comes into conflict with man’s activities; on the contrary it benefits man by producing a very valuable pelt,” Grinnell wrote.

As fewer and fewer of the pelts were collected — just two a year by the 1970s, according to NPS — the species was added to the state-threatened list in 1980. According to the National Parks Service, relatively little is known about the foxes due to the rarity of sightings.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wells Fargo Museum Gold Robbers Planned Heist With Two Cars

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

KGO-TV(SAN FRANCISCO) — The FBI and San Francisco Police are on the hunt for three thieves who rammed their SUV into the lobby of the Wells Fargo Museum in San Francisco on Tuesday morning.

Surveillance photos show that the SUV that crashed into the windows of the building carried just the driver and two other suspects appeared from another car, a Sedan, that was parked alongside the curb, authorities said.

The men, who were wearing ski masks, stole gold nuggets, ABC’s San Francisco affiliate KGO-TV reported.

The museum on Montgomery Street is the site of the first Wells Fargo that opened in 1852.

The property features an “impressive display of gold dust and ore from California’s Gold Country and a special collection of Gold Rush letters carried by hundreds of express companies.”

One suspect restrained a guard after holding a pistol to the guard’s head, FBI spokesman Brian Weber said, though details of how he was restrained are being withheld.

Wearing ski masks and black gloves, the suspects were described as about six feet tall, according to authorities.

In view from the glass exterior of the building was a Wells Fargo stagecoach that “carried passengers and gold across the western plains.”

Police were alerted about the robbery at 2:26 a.m. Tuesday.

The men took off in a sedan and left the SUV inside the bank, police said.

Authorities were looking for three men in a white Ford Taurus who were last seen heading eastbound across the Bay Bridge, according to KGO’s report.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Diana Rodriguez told ABC News on Tuesday that the bank is cooperating with the San Francisco Police Department’s investigation.

“We’re disturbed this happened to the Wells Fargo History Museum, but are grateful no team member was harmed,” she said in a statement to ABC News. “Additionally, the historic stagecoaches on site were not damaged. Rest assured, the museum will reopen, so it can continue to serve the thousands of visitors and Bay Area residents who visit it each year.”

World News Videos | ABC World News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Loyal Listeners Club

Maryland Mansion Fire: Dry Christmas Tree Blamed for Deadly Blaze

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — An electrical failure that set ablaze a 15-foot Christmas tree caused a mansion fire in Annapolis, Maryland, earlier this month that killed six people, authorities announced Wednesday.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents also concluded that the fire, which started in the home’s great room, was an accident.

“While the explanation that has been shared with us today does not bring solace, it does start us down the long road to acceptance,” read a statement issued Wednesday by the Boone and Pyle families.

It took almost a week for six bodies to be found in the burned-down mansion. All those who were thought to be inside are believed to be accounted for, according to fire department officials.

The 16,000-square-foot mansion was owned by tech executive Don Pyle and his wife Sandra.

According to relatives, the Pyles had four of their grandchildren — Alexis (Lexi) Boone, 8; Kaitlyn (Katie) Boone, 7; Charlotte Boone, 8; and Wesley (Wes) Boone, 6 -– over at the time of the four-alarm fire. All six died in the blaze.

Crews started going through the wreckage last Wednesday, according to ABC affiliate WJLA, a process that ATF investigators said could take weeks.

The house was “built more like a commercial structure,” Anne Arundel County Fire Capt. Russ Davies told reporters, so searching is a “time-consuming process.”

Initially the fire had been handled as a criminal investigation.

Relatives described the Pyles as loving grandparents nicknamed “Pop-Pop” and “Dee-Dee.” The night before the blaze, Don and Sandra treated their four grandchildren to a special outing to Medieval Times, according to a family spokeswoman -– even taking them to Target beforehand to pick up costumes for the occasion.

Family members of the victims thanked well-wishers last week in a statement. Attributed to “the Boone and Pyle families,” it said in part, “We wish to express our gratitude and appreciation for the love and support being shared with us during this tragic event. We are blessed that so many family, friends, and neighbors have come together for us in our time of need.”

“Life is fragile,” the statement concluded. “Make time today to embrace your loved ones.”

Authorities said at Wednesday’s news conference that they would conduct additional tests and analysis.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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