July 28, 2013 CNN
Ariel Castro agreed Friday in an Ohio courtroom to a plea deal in one of the most sensational kidnapping cases in recent memory. The deal, reached with prosecutors, would let him avoid the possibility of a death sentence and spare his victims from having to testify at a trial.
The plea deal recommends that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole -- that he never get a parole hearing. It would also mean that a trial Castro was facing on August 5 would not happen and he would not face the possibility of being sentenced to death. Judge Michael J. Russo went over the deal with Castro, and told him that he would be labeled as a sexual predator.
Castro replied that he understood. At one point, he interjected that he was "also a victim as a child" to which Russo responded that he could make whatever statement he wanted during the sentencing hearing. Russo also said that victims would be notified of the hearing and also would then have a chance to say what they liked.
Russo went through charges Castro faces relating to the allegations he held three women captive for a decade and asked him how he pleaded.
Over and over, Castro replied: "Guilty."
July 29, 2013 Associated Press
HIALEAH, Fla. — The gunman who went on a shooting rampage at his South Florida apartment building, killing six people, was a lonely man who spoke about having pent up anger, those who knew him said Sunday.
Pedro Vargas, 42, lived on the fourth floor of a barren, concrete apartment complex in the Miami suburb of Hialeah with his elderly mother. He rarely spoke with others there, and confided to a man who worked out at the same gym that he liked to work out his anger by lifting weights and trying to get big.
"He'd just say this was the only thing that would keep him normal, pulling out all the anger in the gym," Jorge Bagos told The Associated Press.
Bagos said the gunman expressed frustration over bad experiences with women and losing all his hair from using steroids.
July 25, 2013 Good Morning America
The only minority on the all-female jury that voted to acquit George Zimmerman said today that Zimmerman "got away with murder" for killing Trayvon Martin and feels she owes an apology Martin's parents.
"You can't put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty," said the woman who was identified only as Juror B29 during the trial. "But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence."
She said the jury was following Florida law and the evidence, she said, did not prove murder.
The court had sealed the jurors' identities during the trial and still hasn't lifted the order, but Juror B29 edged out of the shadows in an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts. She allowed her face to be shown, but -- concerned for her safety -- used only a first name of Maddy.
The nursing assistant and mother of eight children was selected as a juror five months after she had moved to Seminole County, Fla., from Chicago.
All six of the jurors were women and Maddy, 36, who is Puerto Rican, was the only minority to deliberate in the racially charged case. Zimmerman, 29, was a white Hispanic and Martin, 17, was black.
July 20, 2013 Boston Globe
Marge Habib waved to her brother and sister as they rode past early that Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend in 1976. Her brother’s 16-foot motorboat was hitched to the back of her sister’s Mercury Cougar and they were heading to Plymouth for a day of fishing along with their dates.
“It was a beautiful day,” recalled Marge, who was working at a fruit stand on Route 9 in Westborough when the coast-bound foursome cruised by. “They were tooting and laughing and they were happy.”
That was the last time she ever saw her younger siblings, Danny and Elaine. The next morning, fishermen came upon Danny Kwiatkowski’s tri-hull Arrowglass motorboat floating partially submerged — but otherwise undamaged — about 6 miles off the coast of Marshfield. The people were gone, leaving behind only Elaine’s purse, two pairs of shoes, and some cans of soda.
The Coast Guard concluded that the four were probably dead — victims of the frigid Atlantic – but their families never believed it. They kept looking for the lost boaters, scouring the shoreline and islands of Cape Cod Bay, traveling the country on the advice of psychics, and appealing for help in every imaginable quarter.
July 21, 2013 Good Morning America
Authorities and volunteers expanded their search of vacant and abandoned houses today in a Cleveland, Ohio, suburb for more possible victims after three bodies wrapped in plastic bags were found within less than 200 yards of each other.
Michael Madison, 35, was arrested Friday after authorities uncovered the body of a woman who had been wrapped in several garbage bags in a garage near a vacant East Cleveland home where he was apprehended.
Madison, a convicted sex offender, has been named a suspect in all three deaths, Norton said. He has not been charged.
"We believe every hour he was on the street, he would have been a danger to someone," East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton told ABCNews.com.
Police returned to the neighborhood to find two more bodies in the backyard and in the basement of nearby vacant homes the next day, Norton said.
All three corpses were found in the fetal position, wrapped in multiple trash bags, officials said.
July 18, 2013 Atlantic Wire
An expert witness testifies at a trial to provide evidence in his or her field. Over the course of several decades beginning in the late 1970s, witnesses with the FBI went further, suggesting that particular evidence—hair-match analysis—was a stronger indicator of guilt than the science supports. They tried, in other words, to help prosecute the case.
Now, in an apparently unprecedented move, the Department of Justice has agreed to review 120 convictions that may have been influenced by the agents' exaggerated testimony. In 27 of those cases, the convicted individuals were sentenced to death.
If so, the department will assist the class of prisoners in unprecedented ways, including waiving statutes of limitations and other federal rules that since 1996 have restricted post-conviction appeals. The FBI also will test DNA evidence if sought by a judge or prosecutor.
As many as 21,000 cases may have been affected by similar testimony. The Innocence Project, one of the groups that worked with the Department of Justice on the issue, explained why the cases are being reconsidered.
Stephen "Stippo" Rakes, a possible witness in the murder trial of alleged crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, has been found dead, authorities said.
The body of Rakes, 59, had "no obvious signs of trauma" and an autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Lincoln, Mass., Police Chief Kevin Mooney announced today.
The corpse was found on Mill Street in Lincoln yesterday at 1:30 p.m., police said.
Rakes had been on the witness list and had been eager to testify that Bulger threatened his family at gunpoint and forced him to turn his liquor store into a front for the Winter Hill Gang. But earlier this week prosecutors informed Rakes he would not be called to testify, a decision that left Rakes "despondent," a source close to his family told ABC News.
The judge overseeing the Bulger case hunkered down with lawyers in a confidential conference at the South Boston courthouse today where the trial is being held. Bulger, alleged to be a notorious and murderous crime boss and federal informant, is standing trial after being found on the lam in California two years ago.
Federal prosecutors said Rakes was supposed to testify that Bulger and associate Stephen Flemmi threatened his daughter at gunpoint, and took over his South Boston liquor store for Bulger's headquarters. Bulger sidekick Kevin Weeks testified last week Rakes' contention that Bulger's gang put a gun to his daughter's head was bogus. Read More
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With the purpose of writing about true crime in an authoritative, fact-based manner, veteran journalists J. J. Maloney and J. Patrick O’Connor launched Crime Magazine in November of 1998.
Their goal was to cover all aspects of true crime: from organized crime to serial killers, from capital punishment to prisons, from historical crimes to celebrity crime, from assassinations to government corruption, from justice issues to innocent cases, from crime films to books about crime. Read More