Nation roundup for March 5
Sick images at cannibalism trial
NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors finished presenting evidence to a jury hearing the cannibalism conspiracy case against a New York police officer Monday after showing jurors a video of a screaming woman, made to appear as if cooking over an open flame, and other disturbing images from websites devoted to torturing and eating women.
The government rested a week after it began trying to prove that Officer Gilberto Valle tried to conspire with others on the Internet to kidnap, kill and cannibalize six women, including friends and his wife.
As soon as the government finished, defense lawyers asked the judge to acquit their client, saying prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence to let a jury decide whether Valle planned to carry out a crime. A judge reserved decision. Defense attorney Julia Gatto said it has not yet been decided whether the officer will testify.
Earlier, FBI computer forensics examiner Stephen Flatly testified Valle frequently visited websites showing women in various stages of forced duress, including one that offered images of women who did not survive.
“Some are dead. … A couple of them appeared to have been strangled,” he said.
As Flatly described the images displayed on video monitors in federal court in Manhattan, some jurors put hands to their mouths.
12 are charged in band hazing death
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Twelve former Florida A&M University band members were charged Monday with manslaughter in the 2011 hazing death of a drum major.
Ten of the band members had been charged last May with third-degree felony hazing for the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion, but the state attorney’s office said they are adding the charge of manslaughter for each defendant. They also have charged two additional defendants with manslaughter, though they have yet to be arrested.
The second-degree manslaughter charge announced during an afternoon status hearing carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
Champion died in Orlando in November 2011 after he collapsed following what prosecutors say was a savage beating during a hazing ritual. It happened on a bus parked in a hotel parking lot after Florida A&M played Bethune-Cookman in their annual rivalry football game.
Authorities said Champion had bruises on his chest, arms, shoulder and back and died of internal bleeding. Witnesses told emergency dispatchers that the drum major was vomiting before he was found unresponsive aboard the bus.
Stocks push Dow to highest close
NEW YORK (AP) — Investors brushed off early jitters about a potential slowdown in China and pushed the Dow to its highest close of the year.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 38.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 14,127.82. The index is a fraction of a percentage point away from its record close of 14,164, reached on Oct. 9, 2007.
Stocks dropped at the opening bell and stayed lower most of the morning amid concern that new steps introduced by the Chinese government to cool the booming housing market in the world’s second-largest economy.
Chinese markets were dragged down by housing stocks, which fell sharply after the country’s cabinet ordered new measures to rein in home prices. China will raise minimum down payments in areas where prices are deemed to be rising too fast and crack down on efforts to evade limits on how many properties each buyer can acquire.
Casey Anthony speaks at hearing
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Appearing in public for the first time since she was acquitted of murder, Casey Anthony revealed that she doesn’t have a job or a car, lives with friends and relies on unsolicited gift cards and cash to get by.
“I guess you could say I’m living free off the kindness” of others, Anthony said at a bankruptcy hearing in Tampa.
Anthony, 26, was acquitted of murder in July 2011 in the death of her daughter, Caylee. She was released from jail several days later and disappeared from the spotlight. At the time, she had been vilified online and elsewhere, and her attorneys said threats had been made against her.
Anthony said all of the “unsolicited” money, gift cards and donations were sent to her attorneys, who then pass them along to her. She added that her criminal attorney, Jose Baez, has given her about $3,400 in cash “to help with my living expenses.”
She refused to disclose who pays for her cell phone, with one of her attorneys saying that it was due to “safety and security concerns.”
Anthony filed for bankruptcy in January, claiming about $1,000 in assets and $792,000 in liabilities.
Only one creditor showed up at the hearing: R. Scott Shuker, who is a lawyer for Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez.
Fernandez-Gonzalez said her reputation was damaged by Anthony telling detectives that a baby sitter by the same name kidnapped Caylee. The detectives were investigating the 2008 disappearance of Caylee, who found dead several months later.
Anthony’s attorney said details offered by Anthony did not match Fernandez-Gonzalez and clearly showed Anthony wasn’t talking about her.
Shuker grilled Anthony repeatedly on whether she has been approached to tell her story for a movie, book or TV deal. Anthony insisted that she has not spoken to any agent or media organization.
Shuker said afterward that he questioned whether she was telling the truth.
“From the smell test, it didn’t smell right,” he said. “Any time you see an attorney in what’s supposed to be a no asset case being that active, more to the point, you had five attorneys there, allegedly none of them being paid, that’s odd.”
Shuker said that his client suffers damages “to this day” because of her alleged link to the case.
Anthony’s listed debts include $500,000 for attorney fees and costs for Baez, her criminal defense lawyer during the trial; $145,660 for the Orange County Sheriff’s office for investigative fees and costs; $68,540 for the Internal Revenue Service for taxes, interest and penalties; and $61,505 for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for court costs.
Anthony had not been seen in public since she left an Orange County jail on July 16, 2011, 12 days after she was acquitted of murdering Caylee but convicted of lying to investigators and sentenced to four years in jail. With credit for the nearly three years she spent in jail since August 2008 and good behavior, she had to serve only several days when she was sentenced July 7.
During Monday’s hearing, she said that in 2008 she transferred her interest in about a dozen photos to her criminal attorney, and that he sold those photos to ABC for $200,000. The money helped pay for her defense, she said.
Anthony added that she “was asked to participate in” photos and licensed those photos to Baez. She didn’t say what those photos were of, or where they eventually ended up — other than that she “posed” for them. She said she thinks Baez eventually sold, or planned to sell, those photos.
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