Court Reinstates Conviction for Kennedy Relative

Michael Skakel, the 56-year-old nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, could be headed back to prison after a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling released December 30, 2016. As CNN reported, Skakel had been in prison from 2002 through 2013 for the 1975 killing of Martha Moxley, his 15-year-old neighbor. The recent court decision reinstated his murder conviction, adding another chapter to a strange saga that’s stretched over several decades.  The Moxley Murder: On October 31, 1975, the beaten body of Martha Moxley was discovered under a tree in her family’s yard in an upscale Connecticut neighborhood. She was last seen the
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Juveniles May Face Prison for Wildfire Deaths

The devastation resulting from wildfires that have created havoc near Gatlinburg, Tennessee over November and December 2016 is astounding. So far, there have been 14 deaths and approximately 175 injured; property damage includes the destruction of 2,400 homes, commercial buildings, and other structures. According to CNN, early estimates put the toll at more than $500 million and that number could rise as authorities continue to assess the massive swath of scorched landscape. From the beginning, officials have pointed to arson as the cause of the wildfires. Based on their investigation, two juveniles are currently being held at a Sevier County
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Vandal Changes Iconic Hollywood Sign to Read “Hollyweed”

A prankster changed the world-famous Hollywood sign in Los Angeles over the New Year’s holiday weekend, perhaps in a show of support for California’s new law on recreational use of marijuana. According to a CNN report, two letters were altered so that the sign would read “Hollyweed,” sometime early on Sunday, January 2, 2017. The incident is being called a crime of vandalism, and charges may apply if the perpetrator is caught. Minor Damage to the Sign: Authorities say the vandal – most likely a man – used darkly colored tarps to change the two O’s in the sign into
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Lenient Treatment for Prison Guards having Sex with Inmates

Two Fort Worth prison guards who committed sex acts with inmates avoided having to register as sex offenders, the Dallas Morning News reports, despite having admitted to the crimes. Instead of pleading guilty to crimes that would require them to register as sex offenders, Brady Michael Green and Jose Angel Rivas plead guilty to other offenses, such as not cooperating with investigators, withholding information about a crime, making false statements and obstruction of justice – all nonsexual crimes. No Sex Offender Registration Required After they are released from prison, the former prison supervisors will not have to comply with sex
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Illegally Manufactured Opioids and Drug-Related Deaths

A report released on by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed alarming statistics about the rise in drug overdose deaths during 2015. CNN reported that CDC officials are extremely concerned about the number of deaths involving opioids, blaming prescription drug misuse and heroin use. However, CDC specifically pointed to illegally manufactured drugs like fentanyl as a factor in the sharp uptick in deaths. Statements by the agency’s director coincide with CNN’s own report on drug deaths for 2015. As the incidents of deaths due to illicitly created controlled substances reaches epidemic proportions, it’s clear that law enforcement
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Death Row Inmate Challenges State’s Execution Process

This month convicted death row inmate Ronald B. Smith was pronounced dead. Smith endured tortuous pain and suffering for 34 minutes by lethal injection at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. According to the Department of Corrections spokesman, Bob Horton, the time it took inmate Smith to die was within the normal time frame of death row protocol. Horton also noted that Smith coughed periodically within the first 13 minutes indicating that he was still conscious. Robbery Charges In 1994, Smith was convicted of robbing and murdering Casey Wilson, a store clerk in the state of Alabama. After trial,
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Fatal Police Shooting Causes Concern

The Victims: Early Monday morning tragedy struck a neighborhood in Americus, Georgia. Two officers were responding to a domestic dispute near Georgia Southwestern State University. It is reported that officer Nicholas Ryan was shot and killed at the scene. The other officer, Jody Smith was airlifted and is said to be in critical condition. The Suspect: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has identified convicted felon Minquell Kennedy Lembrick as the shooter. Several days after the shooting Lembrick was still at large. Originally there was a $20,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of Lembrick. However, other agencies
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Mistrial in Dippolito Solicitation Case

An already-bizarre case took an unexpected twist on December 14, 2016, when a criminal court judge declared a mistrial for Dalia Dippolito, a defendant charged with murder-for-hire. ABC News reported that the jury was deadlocked on the charges, wherein Dippolito was accused of attempting to hire a hitman to kill her husband; the proposed hitman was actually an undercover police officer. The case made headlines when it was featured on the TV show “Cops,” and when videos of the undercover operation were posted online. After hearing the evidence and deliberating for nine hours on the case, members of the jury
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FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitive Arrested

A fugitive was arrested in connection with a quadruple murder case that had landed him on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list the day before. Marlon Jones was charged with four counts of murder in the Oct. 15 shooting at a residence that was home to a popular South Los Angeles Jamaican restaurant. According to the Los Angeles Times, Jones was at a party at the location when a fight broke out and shots were fired, killing four and wounding ten. Based upon the facts available so far, he will face special circumstances allegations that make him eligible for
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USC Graduate Student Charged in Professor’s Stabbing Death

A tragedy darkened the last day of fall semester classes at University of Southern California, as a graduate student stabbed and killed a beloved instructor at the school. On December 2, 2016, Professor Siaufung “Bosco” Tjan was attacked by David Jonathan Brown in his office at the Seeley G. Mudd Building, according to the Los Angeles Times report. Brown was taken into custody immediately after the incident and is facing murder charges that were officially announced at his arraignment hearing on December 6, 2016. If convicted, he will face 26 years to life in prison for the crime. Suspect Charged
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Tutor Fired After Assault on a Child in His Care

Criminal charges are pending against a Baltimore school tutor accused on multiple felony counts after a student in his care was left with severe facial injuries. According to WBFF Fox 45 News, the 25-year-old employee at the Baltimore Curriculum Project allegedly threw the seven year old boy into a wall. The student is currently recovering from a fractured jaw, two missing teeth; a third tooth was pushed deep into his gums. While the tutor is contesting the charges, which include criminal assault along with various counts of child abuse, he has been fired as a result of the incident at
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Court Rules Dylann Roof Can Represent Himself in Charleston Shooting Case

There has been a development in the case against alleged Charleston church shooter, where a judge ruled that Dylann Roof will be allowed to represent himself throughout the criminal trial proceedings. Roof stands accused of killing nine people in the June 2015 incident, and he was previously deemed mentally competent to face the charges against him. The judge will allow Roof to object to potential jurors if he feels they aren’t fit to serve, and jury selection continued November 28, 2016. As the case proceeds to trial on nine counts of murder and other charges, the court will continue to
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Former USA Olympics Doctor Arrested for Sexual Assault Against Minors

In a case that spans several decades and multiple continents, Dr. Larry Nassar, a doctor at Michigan State University, was arrested November 21, 2016 on charges that he sexually assaulted minors. The physician also acted as team physician for the USA Women’s Gymnastics team for more than 16 years, over four different Olympic Games. According to a CNN Crime & Justice report, Dr. Nassar faces three counts of sexual assault against female children under the age of 13 years old. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison for his sex crimes. Michigan State University Police Team Up
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Court Blocks Release of Brendan Dassey

November 17, 2016 heralded a new development in the case featured in Netflix’s hugely popular 10-part series, “Making a Murderer.” CNN reported that a federal appeal court refused to allow the release of Brendan Dassey, a teen who provided a confession under questionable circumstances in the murder case that was the focus of the Netflix documentary. Dassey was convicted of murder charges in 2007, but the conviction was overthrown in August 2016 when a judge found that the interrogation techniques which evoked the confession were improper. The Wisconsin Attorney General who fought against his release considered the decision a victory,
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Law Enforcement Officers Shot and Killed

Two Iowa towns are mourning the loss of law enforcement officers shot and killed in the line of duty on November 2, 2016, reports The Los Angeles Times. A suspect is in custody for the shootings after flagging down authorities a county away from where the crimes originally took place. As police continue to investigate, they revealed gruesome details in the case which demonstrate that the separate crimes were no accident: The officers were ambushed while sitting in their patrol cars. The man will face murder charges, and likely prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law considering that he
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