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Sandy Hook 911 Tapes Released

The Hartford Courant is excerpting the just-released 911 tapes from the Sandy Hook school shooting. You can listen to them here.

Also at the Courant: A Chilling Window into Adam Lanza's World. Photos from his bedroom and computer room are here. An analysis of Adam's "chilling" book he called The Big Book of Granny, is here.

The summary report released by police last week is here. No motive has been found. While Lanza had mental health issues, those who knew and/or evaluated him saw no indications of violence.

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Caro-Quintero Writes MX President: "I've Paid Enough"

Rafael Caro-Quintero, freed from prison in Mexico after 28 years when a court in Mexico reversed his conviction (a decision later reversed by a reviewing court) has written a letter to Mexican officials urging them to reject the U.S. demand for his extradition. He is charged in federal court in California with the 1985 murder of DEA Agent Kiki Camarena.

Caro-Quintero's lawyers submitted the letter on his behalf. His current whereabouts are reportedly unknown. [More...]

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O.J. Simpson Loses Bid for New Trial

A Las Vegas judge has denied O.J. Simpson's bid for a new trial. Lawyers for Simpson argued at a hearing held months ago that his trial counsel was ineffective and had a conflict of interest. From the opinion:

“Mr. Simpson failed to demonstrate that counsel experienced an actual conflict of interest that substantially impacted counsel’s performance at trial. Mr. Simpson also failed to establish that the State withheld exculpatory evidence. Finally, Mr. Simpson failed to establish that appellate and trial counsel were ineffective or that any deficient performance by counsel resulted in prejudice. Given the overwhelming amount of evidence, neither the errors in this case, nor the errors collectively, cause this court to question the validity of Mr. Simpson’s conviction.”

Simpson's current attorney says he will appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, and if he loses, file a habeas action in federal court.

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Duke Lacrosse Accuser Convicted of Murder

Crystal Mangum, who falsely accused the Duke Lacrosse players of sexual assault, has been convicted of second degree murder in the stabbing death of her boyfriend. The judge sentenced her to 14 to 18 years in prison.

Mangum testified at her trial and claimed self-defense. The victim, who lived for 10 days after she stabbed him, told investigators before he died that he had been trying to get away from her.

She testified he beat her that night, but "she was unable to explain why paramedics who checked her out after her arrest found no evidence that she had been beaten or choked." Also, "blood drops were on the carpet in the hallway where Daye said she stabbed him, but not in the master bedroom where Mangum said she stabbed him. [More...]

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Michael Skakel Released on Bond Pending Retrial

After serving 11 years for the murder of Martha Moxley, Michael Skakel has been freed on $1.2 million bond pending a retrial.

Skakel, the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was 15 years old in 1975 when Martha Moxley was murdered. The crime went unsolved for more than 20 years and suspicion had always focused on his brother Tommy. After Dominick Dunne and Mark Fuhrman re-ignited interest in the case through their books, suspicion shifted to Skakel and in 2000, he was charged with murder. He was convicted at trial and sentenced to 20 years to life.

Had Michael Skakel been charged in 1975 when the murder occurred, he would have been tried in juvenile court and if convicted, received a sentence of no more than two years. That's how juveniles were treated back then in Connecticut.

At the time of the crime, there was a five year statute of limitation on murder, which had expired by the time Michael was charged. In upholding the conviction, the Court overruled its own 1983 precedent. (More on that below.)

I'm glad Skakel's conviction was overturned, but I don't agree his conviction was the result of inadequate representation at trial. Here's what I think went wrong at the Skakel trial and on appeal. A recap: [More...]

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Mexican Court Overturns Caro-Quintero's Release

Did politics and the DEA get to the Mexico Supreme Court? The Court has overturned the August order of an appeals court releasing Rafael Caro-Quintero (background here.) Caro-Quintero served 28 years before an appeals court reversed his conviction, finding the federal court in Mexico lacked jurisdiction because since DEA Agent Camerena was not a consulate official or diplomat, Caro-Quintero should have been tried in state court.

After a meeting in Washington in September, Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam promised that authorities in his country would reapprehend Caro Quintero.

The U.S. is now offering a $5 million reward for Caro-Quintero's arrest. His whereabouts are unknown.

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"Silk Road" Busted and Closed

The travails of Silk Road owner Dread Pirate Roberts is an interesting tale. Bitcoins, internet drug sales and now contract hits are alleged.

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Aaron Alexis: Navy Yard Shooting Suspect

Police have identified Aaron Alexis, a 34 year old from Texas, as the Navy Yard shooter. 13 people are dead, including Alexis.

Aaron Alexis, a native of New York, who served in the Navy from 2007 to 2011 as an aviation electrician’s mate 3rd class, allegedly entered the base early Monday morning, perhaps using another man’s identification card to pass through the gates.

....From 2008 until his discharge in 2011, Alexis was a member of an aviation support squadron based in Fort Worth, Texas, where he worked on C-40s, a military version of the Boeing 737 that the Navy uses as a cargo plane. Law enforcement officials said that he was more recently working as a military contractor.

He was born in Queens, NY. Authorities say he used another employee's ID to enter the yard. But they don't believe that employee was involved. His motive is unknown.

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Appeals Court Orders Released Somali Pirate Negotiator Back Into Custody

Somali pirate negotiator Ali Mohamed Ali scored a big victory last week when a U.S. District Court Judge ordered him released on bond subject to home detention pending trial, primarily due to the excessive length of his pretrial detention (28 months.) The Court's opinion is here.

The Government filed an emergency request for a stay pending appeal, which has been granted by the Appeals court.

PER CURIAM ORDER filed [1455209] granting motion to return appellee to custody [1455046-2]; The district court is directed to enter an order returning appellee immediately to the custody of the United States; Granting request to expedite briefing; Setting briefing schedule: Appellant’s Memorandum of Law and Fact due 09/09/2013. Appellee’s Memorandum of Law and Fact due on 09/12/2013.

Ali is now back in custody. Ali's case has been the subject of several appeals, including one over jurisdiction. He was assisting the victims of the pirated Danish ship and its owner by negotiating with the pirates for the release of hostages.

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Shellie Zimmerman Files for Divorce

Shellie Zimmerman's lawyer today announced she has filed for divorce.

John Donnelly, a family friend who testified in George Zimmerman's defense at his trial, told Reuters that Shellie was "devastated" when her husband "just packed up and left" after his acquittal and was gone for a month without telling anyone his whereabouts. Shellie had lost touch with him and had grown increasingly upset.

The divorce petition is here.

(No character attacks on anyone please. They will be deleted.)

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Bradley Manning Sentenced to 35 Years

Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years today. The Government asked for 60. The maximum was 90. He will be eligible for parole after 1/3. He gets credit for the time already served. He also will get another 112 days of credit for the harsh conditions he endured during in the early days of his confinement.

In all, he received 1,294 days of credit, and will be eligible for parole in 8 /12 years.[More...]

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Fox News Reporter Loses NY Appeal re: Holmes Leaks

A NY appeals court has ruled Fox News reporter Jana Winter can be compelled to testify in the James Holmes murder case in Colorado (background here). It did not rule she had to give up the law enforcement sources who leaked information to her -- that will be up to the Colorado judge to decide. NY has a more expansive reporters' shield law than Colorado. In Colorado, reporters have qualified, not absolute immunity.

You can read the opinion here. Two justices dissented, which means Winter can appeal to a higher NY court.

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Oscar Pistorius Court Appearance

Update: The Indictment and 107 person witness list is here, courtesy of journalist Barry Batemen of Eyewitness News. The first charge is the unlawful and intentional killing of a person. (On page 2 the indictment says it doesn't matter if the person killed not the person one intends to kill. In other words, the state doesn't have to prove he intended to kill Reeva Steenkamp, only that he intended to kill someone.) The second charge is illegal possession of 38 rounds of ammunition at his home. [More...]

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Mexico Releases Raphael Caro-Quintero

Raphael Caro-Quintero, accused of the murder of DEA agent Kikki Camerena in 1985, has been released from prison in Mexico after 28 years. An appeals court reversed his conviction, finding the federal court in Mexico lacked jurisdiction because Camerena was not a consulate official or diplomat and should have been tried in state court. (also see the translated version of this article from Mexico.)

The DEA is angry. It wants Caro-Quintero to stand trial in California for Camerena's murder and has an extradition request and international alert for him. [More...]

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Two Friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Indicted

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston on charges of Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice. The Indictment is here.

Robelo Philliipos was not indicted. His lawyer says he is still negotiating with the Government.

What's missing from the Indictment? Any reference to what the two told the FBI during their early interviews. Did DOJ conclude their statements were inadmissible? The Complaint against them had alleged: [More...]

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