TIME Crime

7 People Shot at Florida Spring Break Party

A suspect was arrested after the shooting

A spring break party in Florida turned violent early Saturday after seven people, including students, were shot at a Panama City Beach home, officials said. One of the victims was shot in the head and others were hit multiple times, and were fighting for their lives at local hospitals.

A suspect was arrested after the shooting—identified as David Jamichael Daniels, 22, of Mobile, Ala.—and was being held in Bay County jail on seven counts of attempted murder, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

A .40-caliber handgun was recovered in the backyard of the residence, Bay County…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Italy

Amanda Knox Conviction Overturned by Italy’s Top Court

File photo of Knox, the U.S. student convicted of murdering her British flatmate in Italy in November 2007, arriving at the court during her appeal trial session in Perugia
Alessandro Bianchi—Reuters Amanda Knox, the U.S. student convicted of murdering her British flatmate Meredith Kercher in Italy in November 2007, arrives at the court during her appeal trial session in Perugia in this September 30, 2011 file photo.

American finally acquitted of the murder of Meredith Kercher

The Italian Supreme Court overturned Amanda Knox’s conviction Friday for the 2007 murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher.

Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted as co-conspirators in Kercher’s murder in the apartment they shared as exchange students in Perugia in 2009. But that conviction was overturned in 2011 and in 2014, after prosecutors argued that evidence had been omitted in the appeal, the original guilty verdict was reinstated. Knox was re-convicted in abstentia.

But Italy’s Supreme Court ruled Friday afternoon to finally acquit the 27-year old American of the long-hanging charges over her. She had faced extradition to Italy if the conviction had been upheld.

Knox released a statement saying she was “tremendously relieved and grateful” for the decision.

“The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal,” Knox says in the statement. “And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family, friends, and strangers. To them, I say: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your kindness has sustained me. I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in person.”

A man named Rudy Guede, whose fingerprints and DNA were found at the scene, has already been convicted for the murder and is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence, but prosecutors had argued that Knox and Sollecito were Guede’s accomplices.

This means the only standing conviction against Amanda Knox is a slander conviction for 2007 statements she made blaming bar owner Patrick Lumumba for Kercher’s murder. Lumumba was eventually cleared and sued Knox for slander. She was convicted and eventually received a 3-year prison sentence, which will now be counted as time served, since she has already spent almost four years in prison.

Since she moved back to the US after her 2011 acquittal, Knox has been leading a quiet life. She finished her degree at the University of Washington and got work as a freelance journalist for the West Seattle Herald. She was reportedly paid $4 million for her memoir about her experiences in Italy. And she’s engaged to a musician, Colin Sutherland.

Read next: A Look At The Amanda Knox-Inspired Movie The Face of an Angel

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TIME Crime

No Murder Charge for Suspect Who Cut Out a Pregnant Woman’s Fetus

Cheryl Swanson, left, Elaine Derstine, and her daughter, Michelle Smith, are part of a moment of silence during the vigil.
Cliffv Grassmick—AP Cheryl Swanson, left, Elaine Derstine, and her daughter, Michelle Smith, are part of a moment of silence during the vigil.

Prosecutors say Colorado law does not consider the fetus to be a person

A woman accused of cutting an unborn baby from a mother’s womb in Colorado will not be charged with murder.

Alleged attacker Dynel Lane struck after Michelle Wilkins, who was seven months pregnant, answered Lane’s Craiglist ad for baby clothes on March 18. When Wilkins arrived at Lane’s home, Lane beat her and cut out the fetus, police said. Wilkins locked herself in a room, called 911 and directed police to her location, saving her own life. The baby didn’t survive.

Prosecutors told the Denver Post Thursday that they cannot bring murder charges because Colorado does not recognize a fetus as a person by law unless it can survive outside the womb for an unspecified period of time. However, they will likely charge Lane with the unwanted termination of a pregnancy, a felony.

“Under Colorado law, essentially, there is no way murder charges can be brought if it’s not established that the fetus lived as a child outside the body of the mother,” District Attorney Stan Garnett said in a news conference last week.

Meanwhile, Republican representative Fordon Klingenschmitt is facing outrage for calling the attack an “act of God” on his evangelical YouTube channel. “This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb,” he said. “And part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our women are ripped open.”

Though both Republicans and Democrats have condemned Klingenschmitt’s words, the conservative representative told Fox affiliate KFOR that he refuses to apologize for the comments.

[Denver Post]

TIME Crime

This Woman Didn’t Get Any Bacon In Her Burger So She Shot Up the Drive-Thru

Shaneka Monique Torres looks around the courtroom before being found guilty on all charges related to her shooting a gun into a McDonald's when she failed to get bacon on her burger, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich
Chris Clark—AP Shaneka Monique Torres looks around the courtroom before being found guilty on all charges related to her shooting a gun into a McDonald's when she failed to get bacon on her burger, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich

Thankfully nobody was injured

A Grand Rapids, Mich. woman faces up to seven years in prison after she was convicted of multiple charges Wednesday for firing a bullet into a McDonald’s drive-through when staff forgot to put bacon in her cheeseburger.

Shaneka Monique Torres, 30, ordered a bacon cheeseburger at the McDonald’s on Feb. 10, 2014 but it arrived without bacon. She complained to a manager and was offered a free burger, according to Grand Rapids local news outlet WZZM 13.

At about 3.am, Torres and her friend returned to order another bacon cheeseburger. This burger also came without bacon and Torres verbally lashed out at a worker before pulling out her handgun and firing a round into the restaurant. No one was injured.

Torres was arrested at her home about 30 minutes later.

Her defense attorney, John Beason, argued that Torres discharged the weapon by accident and there was no correlation with the bacon-less burgers.

The jury deliberated for one hour and found Torres guilty of carrying a concealed weapon, discharging a firearm into a building and felony use of a firearm.

She will be sentenced on April 21.

Read next: California Woman Arrested for Trying to Steal Two Babies, Leading to One Death

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TIME health

Why ‘Dr. Death’ Wanted to Be Charged with Murder

Euthanasia crusader Dr. Jack Kevorkian talks with
Jeff Kowalsky—AFP/Getty Images Dr. Jack Kevorkian talks with jury consultant Ruth Holmes (R) as Brad Feldman, one of his legal advisors, listens after Kevorkian's arraignment in Oakland County Circuit Court, Dec. 16, 1998

March 26, 1999: Dr. Jack Kevorkian is convicted of murder for administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill man

It was an unusual murder trial, given that the victim’s wife and relatives were the killer’s staunchest defenders. But the support of Thomas Youk’s family was not enough to keep Jack Kevorkian out of prison. On this day, March 26, in 1999, the pathologist and highly public euthanasia proponent, whom TIME had called “Dr. Death” in a 1993 cover story, was convicted of murder for giving Youk a lethal injection to end his suffering from advanced Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Kevorkian was prepared to go to prison if it meant raising awareness of what he considered to be our nation’s backward, oppressive euthanasia laws. By the time of his trial, he had participated in more than 130 assisted suicides or, as in Youk’s case, mercy killings. For years he had dodged prosecution on the technicality that it wasn’t him who administered the fatal dose — it was always his terminally-ill patients, although he made the job easier for them.

Youk’s case was different. This time it was Kevorkian who injected the deadly drugs — while videotaping himself doing it. Then he gave the tape to the staff of the CBS news show “60 Minutes,” who broadcast it to a national audience.

On the tape, as CNN later reported, Kevorkian goaded prosecutors into coming after him so that the legality of assisted suicide and euthanasia could have a full airing in court — and in the news media. The law was not on his side, of course, and his decision to represent himself on the ensuing murder charges did not help him avoid prison. The jury found him guilty of second-degree murder, with a sentence of 10 to 25 years, rather than first-degree murder, which might have carried a life sentence.

Kevorkian was given early release in 2007, after serving only eight years, in part because he himself was then terminally ill with Hepatitis C. His sacrifice — or his flagrancy, depending on whom you ask — did succeed in bringing assisted suicide into the public spotlight, as he’d hoped. At the time of his death, Oregon, Washington and Montana had come to allow assisted suicide. Since then, Vermont and New Mexico have followed suit.

Part of what made Kevorkian such a prominent public figure was his zany personality, coupled with a dramatic flair that “brought a certain approachability to a grim subject,” as TIME wrote in Kevorkian’s 2011 obituary. He gave his two “suicide machines” names better suited to carnival rides or sinister sci-fi robots: Thanatron (which delivered lethal levels of narcotics) and Mercitron (which used carbon monoxide).

In 1993, a man dying from bone and lung cancer used Kevorkian’s carbon monoxide machine to kill himself. A friend of the deceased told TIME, “I know that when he put that mask on his face he had his finger sticking up in the air to say screw you all for the laws that made me suffer like this.”

It was, as TIME concluded then, “a gesture familiar to Dr. Kevorkian, who has made defiance of the law a passion second only to suicide.”

Read the 1993 cover story, here in the TIME Vault: Doctor Death

TIME Crime

Families Mark 25th Anniversary of Club Fire That Killed 87

A memorial to those killed in the Happy Land social club fire in the Bronx, New York, March 19, 2015.
Seth Wenig—AP A memorial to those killed in the Happy Land social-club fire in the Bronx on March 19, 2015

Family members and friends commemorated 25th anniversary of a social-club fire that killed 90 people

(NEW YORK) — Family members and friends of victims gathered at a vigil Wednesday night to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a social club fire that killed almost 90 people. At the time, it was the biggest mass murder in U.S. history.

On March 25, 1990, a Cuban refugee named Julio Gonzalez tried to win back the woman who had spurned him.

Gonzalez entered the Happy Land social club in the Bronx, which was humming with people — mostly immigrants — partying and dancing. His former live-in girlfriend, Lydia Feliciano, was checking coats, and they had a virulent argument. Gonzalez was thrown out.

In a rage, he returned just after 3 a.m., splashing gasoline on Happy Land’s only guest exit and lighting two matches. Then he pulled down the metal front gate.

Within minutes, 87 people were dead.

On the day after the fire, as firefighters carried out the bodies, an icy drizzle descended on shocked relatives rushing to find out if their loved ones might be among the dead.

On Wednesday evening, again under a chilly drizzle, about 100 loved ones crowded around the granite memorial at the site of the club, their prayers in Spanish ringing into the night.

They were joined by firefighters and police officers whose departments had responded to the blaze.

Earlier, during a Roman Catholic Mass at a nearby church, family members stood at the altar, each reading aloud the names of those who perished.

The fire was the worst in New York City since 146 workers died in a blaze at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in what is today’s Greenwich Village. They were killed exactly 79 years earlier on March 25, 1911.

That spring night in 1990, people were smothered by black smoke or fatally burned. It happened so quickly that some appeared like frozen figures from Pompeii.

A few still had drinks in their hands. Some had torn off their party clothes, engulfed by flames. Others died hugging or holding hands. Bodies were piled up on Happy Land’s dance floor in the darkness, their faces covered with soot.

Jaffrey Gotay does not treasure memories of her father. She has none, because she was only 3 when he died, and her mother was pregnant with her sister.

“A lot of it is unknown, it’s missing out, not really knowing what could have been,” said Gotay, whose family buried her father, Denny Alvarez, in Trujillo, a town in Honduras where others killed in the fire also are buried.

“You don’t really remember, and that sucks,” she said, tears streaming down her face.

The sisters grew up writing letters to their absent dad each year on Father’s Day, placing them near his picture.

Gotay brought along her 17-month-old daughter, whom she’ll eventually tell how her grandfather died.

In 1990, Happy Land drew a noisy, happy crowd of mostly young people. The club had been ordered closed for fire hazards — no sprinklers or emergency exits — but continued to operate illegally.

About two-thirds of the victims were part of a Bronx community of so-called Garifunas — Hondurans descended from proud black natives of the Caribbean exiled by British colonizers more than two centuries ago. In recent years, many Garifunas have fled a repressive Honduran regime and settled in New York.

That fateful weekend, they were enjoying their go-to club, speaking their own language and dancing to their drum-driven Garifuna music.

Gonzalez, now 60, sits behind bars for life in an upstate New York prison. He was convicted of 174 counts of murder — two for each victim on charges of depraved indifference and felony murder.

A refugee from Fidel Castro’s Cuba, he arrived in New York in the Mariel boatlift of 1980. A decade later, he was working in a warehouse but lost his job six weeks before the fire, police said.

Earlier this month, Gonzalez was denied parole.

TIME Crime

California Woman Arrested for Trying to Steal Two Babies, Leading to One Death

Shooting Baby Death
Scott Varley—AP Long Beach police chief Robert Luna, left, and Mayor Robert Garcia stand during a news conference in Long Beach, Calif., on March 25, 2015

Giseleangelique Rene D'Milian wanted to convince her boyfriend that he was the children's father

In a crime that authorities could only describe as “evil,” a 47-year-old woman in Long Beach, Calif., stands accused of attempting to snatch two infants, resulting in the death of a 3-week-old girl and serious injuries to both of their mothers.

Colluding with three other suspects, Giseleangelique Rene D’Milian, of Thousand Oaks, hatched a plot to steal two children in order to convince her boyfriend that she had given birth to his twins while he was abroad, according to police.

D’Milian spotted her first victim in January, a woman with a newborn who had gotten off a bus and was walking home, reports the Associated Press. Accomplice Anthony McCall, 29, of Vista, waited a couple of hours before he kidnapped the newborn Eliza Delacruz, shooting both of her parents and an uncle in the melee. Eliza’s body was found the day in a dumpster around 100 miles south.

Then in February, D’Milian used a fake charity as a front for luring an acquaintance with a son who was only 4 months old to a hotel, where McCall then assaulted her with a baseball bat. However, he fled when staff were alerted to the ruckus.

“In my notes, I had the word evil several times, and my staff told me to take it out but I can’t summarize it any other way,” police chief Robert Luna told reporters.

D’Milian and McCall are being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and conspiracy.

[AP]

TIME Crime

Nevada Prison Inmate Died of Multiple Gunshots, Coroner Says

Carlos Manuel Perez JrCarlos Manuel Perez Jr., 28. .
Nevada Department of Corrections/AP Carlos Manuel Perez Jr., 28.

Carlos Manuel Perez Jr. died last November of wounds to the head, neck, chest and arms

(LAS VEGAS) — The coroner in Las Vegas says the death of a Nevada state prison inmate by multiple gunshots more than four months ago was a homicide.

Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy said Wednesday that 28-year-old Carlos Manuel Perez Jr. died Nov. 12, 2014, at High Desert State Prison of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, neck, chest and arms.

Murphy says a homicide ruling means Perez died at the hands of another person. It doesn’t establish fault.

There’s no immediate word from state officials about who was involved in the shooting or whether anyone else was hurt.

State Department of Corrections officials didn’t immediately respond to messages.

Spokeswomen for Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Attorney General Adam Laxalt say an investigation is ongoing.

TIME Crime

Bloody Arrest at Virginia School Leads to Order for Reforms

In this photo provided by Bryan Beaubrun, Martese Johnson is held down by an officer Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Charlottesville, Va.
Bryan Beaubrun—AP In this photo provided by Bryan Beaubrun, Martese Johnson is held down by an officer Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Charlottesville, Va.

The bloody arrest of 20-year-old Martese Johnson stoked outrage and protests

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order Wednesday to reform policing by the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, after white officers from the agency bloodied a black University of Virginia student during an arrest a week earlier.

A photo and video of the student, 20-year-old Martese Johnson, lying on the pavement with blood streaming down his face while an officer kneeled over him, went viral, prompting McAuliffe to swiftly order a state investigation into the incident. The results of that investigation are not in, but McAuliffe said “it is not too soon to take proactive steps to improve ABC’s Bureau of Law Enforcement.”

The executive order requires four steps for reform, including retraining of all ABC special agents in “use of force, cultural diversity, effective interaction with youth, and community policing” by Sept. 1. It also calls for an “expert review panel” made up of local and campus law enforcement agencies and sheriff’s offices to complete a review of the ABC and make recommendations for additional changes by Nov. 1.

MORE: Bloody Arrest Puts University of Virginia Back in the Spotlight

 

 

TIME Military

The Desertion Charge for Bowe Bergdahl Was Months in the Making

TIME Photo-illustration. Bergdahl: U.S. Army/Getty Images The June 16, 2014, cover of TIME

Bergdahl's saga was TIME's cover story on June 16, 2014

Nearly a year after he was brought home through a prisoner exchange, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be court-martialed, a military official revealed Wednesday. The charges will be “desertion and avoiding military service” as well as “misbehavior before the enemy.” An official U.S. military announcement will come later Wednesday.

Last summer, when Bergdahl first returned to the United States, the chance that he might face such charges was already clear. Throughout a time of heated debate over the resources and compromises that had been necessary to bring him home, the Army promised to investigate what had happened. “Depending on the details, the facts of the case might support a charge of desertion–one of the most serious crimes a soldier can commit,” TIME’s David von Drehle explained.

And the details were bedeviling. As the story continued:

Sometime after midnight on June 30, Bergdahl made a neat pile of his armor, along with a note of farewell, then disappeared. He left his firearm behind, preferring to carry only water, a knife, a camera and his compass. More than 24 hours later, U.S. intelligence intercepted Taliban radio calls indicating that they had captured an American soldier.

The next part of the story was recounted by angry soldiers in magazines, on television and in Facebook posts in the wake of Bergdahl’s release. (In some cases, their accounts were facilitated by Republican political operatives eager to turn up the heat on Obama.) Each version brought its own details, but a clear picture emerged of the Army in Afghanistan urgently redirected to the task of finding the runaway soldier.

Read the rest of the story here on TIME.com: No Soldier Left Behind

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