TIME Crime

Why These Indiana Teenagers Were Convicted of Murder Without Killing Anyone

The so-called 'Elkhart Four' were convicted under a little-used 'felony murder' law

The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments on Thursday whether to hear a case involving three unarmed teenagers who were convicted of murder despite the fact that none of them actually killed anyone.

On Oct. 3, 2012, then-16-year-old Blake Layman broke into a neighbor’s house along with three other teenagers and 21-year-old Danzele Johnson. All of them believed the home was empty, but once inside, the homeowner, Rodney Scott, heard the teens and fired on them with a handgun, fatally hitting Johnson.

MORE: States Use Secret Psychological Tests to Predict Future Crimes

Layman and three other teens—now known as the Elkhart Four—were unarmed at the time, and it was the homeowner who in fact shot Johnson. But the would-be burglars were the ones charged with “felony murder,” which can be found in most states but is rarely used, and allows for murder charges for individuals who commit a felony that leads to a death. Three were convicted after trial, while one pled guilty to the charges.

The Indiana Supreme Court is now considering taking up the case. Last year, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the teenagers’ convictions but said that the sentences applied were too severe.

TIME weather

Boston Area Dogs Are Climbing Snow Banks to Escape

Winter Storm in Boston
Dominick Reuter—EPA A woman walks her dog through Copley Square during a blizzard in Boston on Feb. 15, 2015.

Police in Weymouth are warning pet owners to keep their dogs leashed

You know your city officially has too much snow when your dog can climb the mountainous snow bank in your yard and escape.

The Weymouth Police Department, about 15 miles outside of Boston, Mass., issued this warning on its Facebook page on Thursday: “Please watch your dogs. We have been dealing with a large number of dogs that are running the streets. Most of them are getting out of yards that are usually secure because of snow banks.”

MORE: Watch the Most Selfless Dog in the World Shovel Snow

The police department warned residents that their beloved pets could get hit by cars or picked up and sent to a shelter if they didn’t have their proper tags.

Snowfall in the Boston area has shattered records in the past month. Snow totals have now hit 100 inches for the season, and most snowfall has come within the past month. A University of Oklahoma meteorologist has even calculated that the likelihood of this much snow falling in a 30-day stretch would occur only once every 26,315 years.

TIME Crime

University of Minnesota Drops Racial Descriptions From Crime Alerts

Nebraska v Minnesota
Hannah Foslien—Getty Images A general view of TCF Bank Stadium on Oct. 26, 2013 in Minneapolis.

Suspect descriptors will now only be included on a case-by-case basis

The University of Minnesota will no longer include vague racial descriptions in e-mailed campuswide crime alerts, after pressure from student groups.

University of Minnesota Vice President Pamela Wheelock sent an e-mail to students and faculty on Wednesday saying that a suspect’s description would now only be included “when there is sufficient detail that would help identify a specific individual or group,” according to the Star-Tribune.

The student-led campus advocacy group Whose Diversity? has been pressing for school officials to change policy recently, including a Feb. 9 demonstration outside the office of the university’s president, Eric Kaler.

Campus officials say they will now decide whether to include a description of a suspect on a case-by-case basis. The shift away from including racial information is rare but is in effect at the University of Maryland, according to the Star-Tribune, another Big Ten school.

TIME Crime

Ohio Steps Up Fight Against Heroin Deaths

TIME.com stock photos Health Syringe Needle
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Heroin-related fatalities have surged in recent years

Ohio lawmakers are looking to expand access to a drug that helps revive heroin overdose victims, as the state attorney general attempts to reduce its cost.

An Ohio House committee approved a bill Wednesday that would allow any individual—not just emergency responders—to provide heroin overdose antidote Naloxone to friends and family members without a prescription and/or fear of prosecution.

MORE: Heroin Deaths Have Doubled in 2 Years

The bill expands a law passed last year that provided increased access to the drug and allowed police and emergency responders to carry it. The latest bill, approved by the House Health and Aging Committee, would also allow pharmacies to hand out the drug without prescriptions.

Naloxone has been shown to temporarily revive overdose victims, allowing them to breathe and giving paramedics time to save their lives.

Heroin overdoses have grown into a public health crisis in Ohio within the last few years. According to the Ohio Department of Health, heroin-related deaths have increased from 16% of all drug-involved deaths throughout the state in 2008 to 35% in 2012, when 680 people died from a heroin overdose.

MORE: Holder Urges Use of Drug to Fight Heroin Overdoses

As heroin-related deaths have increased, the price of Naloxone has gone up as well. According to the Dayton Daily News, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is currently negotiating with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc., to decrease the cost by getting a price rebate for the drug.

TIME Crime

Colorado Bombing May Not Have Been Aimed at NAACP

Thaddeus Murphy
AP This Sept. 1, 2009 booking photo from the Colorado Department of Corrections shows Thaddeus Murphy of Colorado Springs, Colo. Murphy has been arrested in connection with the explosion at a building in Colorado Springs on Jan. 6, 2015, that houses a barber shop and local chapter of the NAACP.

A tax preparation office may have been the target

A Colorado man was set to be charged Friday in connection with a bombing outside an NAACP office in January—an attack the man says wasn’t aimed at the NAACP at all.

Thaddeus Murphy, 44, was arrested Thursday on charges of arson and possession of firearms in connection with the Jan. 6 bombing of a Colorado Springs building. The attack initially appeared aimed at the Colorado Springs branch of the NAACP, the civil rights organization that has been the subject of violence in the past. At the time, former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond called the incident a “terrorist attack.”

MORE: NAACP Bombing Evokes Memories of Civil Rights Strife

But Murphy says that he wasn’t targeting the NAACP, and instead was looking to attack a tax preparation company, KUSA/9News in Denver reports. There was only minor property damage from the attack, and no one was hurt.

Federal agents and local officers found seven firearms in Murphy’s home along with devices similar to what was used in the attack, the Department of Justice said.

Murphy, who had been convicted of prior felonies that made it illegal for him to possess firearms, was set to be formally charged in the incident on Friday and could face five years in prison for the attack and 10 years for possession of firearms.

TIME weather

Valentine’s Day ‘Snow Hurricane’ Hits New England

Just stay indoors with your Valentine already

A Valentine’s Day blizzard with hurricane-force winds was set to pummel much of New England on Saturday.

Blizzard warnings were issued in six states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island—as the fourth major snowstorm of the season made its way toward the East Coast. Iat had already dumped eight inches in parts of Michigan by Saturday afternoon.

MORE: It’s Better to Be Single on Valentine’s Day

New York City and Philadelphia remained under winter weather advisories while Boston, which has already experienced a historic total of almost eight feet of snow this season, could get another foot. Parts of Massachusetts were forecasted to receive 18 inches, and Cape Cod could experience hurricane-force wind gusts.

The bottom line is, stay inside with your Valentine and don’t poke your head out until April. And if you’re single, you have a perfect excuse to do absolutely nothing.

TIME Cybercrime

Obama Acknowledges U.S. ‘Plays Offense’ on Foreign Hacking

He compared it to basketball, because Obama

President Obama acknowledged that the United States “plays offense” against other countries online, arguing that the lines between defensive and aggressive actions are blurred in the world of cybersecurity.

In an interview with the tech news website Re/Code during a visit to Silicon Valley, Obama compared online security to basketball, describing a fluid situation where America routinely switches between offensive and defensive actions.

“This is more like basketball than football in the sense that there’s no clear line between offense and defense,” he said. “Things are going back and forth all the time.”

MORE: Obama Calls on Silicon Valley to Help Thwart Cyberattacks

He also argued that the technology goes both ways “because when you develop sufficient defenses, the same sophistication you have for defense means that potentially you can engage in offense.”

The remarks come after cyberattacks last year aimed at Sony over the planned release of the comedy The Interview, for which U.S. officials blame North Korea, and more recent attacks on the Anthem insurance company, in which China is suspected of playing a role.

Obama called for a set of international protocols that would set “clear limits and guidelines” on cyberwarfare.

MORE: Here’s How Obama Wants to Protect Against Hackers

“It’s not as if North Korea is particularly good at this,” he said. “But look how much damage they were able to do.”

He also argued that Iran is “good” at hacking, while China and Russia are “very good.”

The president was also asked about what technologies he uses personally.

“I don’t have a Fitbit yet, but I work out hard,” he said. “Word is these Apple Watches might be a good companion for my workouts. So I’m gonna see, I’m gonna test it out.”

TIME Terrorism

Deadly Shooting Kills 1 at Copenhagen Free Speech Event

DENMARK SHOOTING
Kenneth Meyer—AP An armed security officer runs down a street near a venue after shots were fired where an event titled "Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression" was being held in Copenhagen, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.

Cartoonist who has drawn Muhammad was in attendance

One person is dead after shots were fired at a cafe in Copenhagen on Saturday that hosted an event organized by a Swedish cartoonist who has received death threats of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, according to media reports.

MORE: Pakistanis Protest Charlie Hebdo Cover

According to the Associated Press and Reuters, Danish police say that one civilian was killed and three police officers were injured during the event titled “Art, Blasphemy and the Freedom of Expression.”

The cartoonist, Lars Vilks, has been the subject of numerous death threats over the years, primarily over a cartoon he drew in 2007 depicting Muhammad with the body of a dog. Some branches of Islam prohibit any likeness of Muhammad.

MORE: Turkey Censors Facebook Pages That ‘Insult’ the Prophet Muhammad

According to multiple media reports, gunmen fired numerous shots into the cafe and then drove away from the scene.

The incident follows the attack inside the offices of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in January, which killed 12 people.

TIME movies

Fifty Shades of Grey Brings in Record Numbers at Box Office

The erotic movie may become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all-time

Fifty Shades of Grey—an erotic R-rated movie based on the best-selling novel by E.L. James—brought in almost $9 million on Thursday and $30 million on Friday, according to Box Office Mojo, which could make it the highest-grossing February debut in history.

MORE: Fifty Shades of Grey Star Eloise Mumford: I Would Never Make a Film That Didn’t Empower Women

Movie experts are predicting that Fifty Shades, which features a sexually explicit relationship between a college student and a business mogul, will gross $91 million over a four-day stretch, surpassing the R-rated movie Passion of the Christ, which debuted in February 2004 and made $84 million.

It also could become the highest-grossing R-rated debut of all-time. Matrix Reloaded currently holds the top spot with almost $92 million made in its opening weekend in 2003.

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