TIME Courts

Durst Lawyers Say FBI Illegally Searched His Hotel Room

Robert Durst
Gerald Herbert—AP Robert Durst is escorted into Orleans Parish Prison after his arraignment in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court in New Orleans, March 17, 2015.

Attorneys claim arrest of millionaire accused of murder was invalid

(NEW ORLEANS) — Attorneys for millionaire Robert Durst, who faces a California murder charge, say Durst’s arrest in New Orleans on weapons charges was invalid, in part because the FBI searched his hotel room illegally.

Durst, who waived extradition to California on the murder charge, was arrested last month at the J.W. Marriott hotel in New Orleans. He is set for a Thursday hearing on Louisiana charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and illegally possessing a firearm along with an illegal drug.

Items recovered from his hotel room included a .38-caliber revolver and about 5 ounces of marijuana, according to court records.

A sworn statement supporting the warrant “contains a material misrepresentation designed to cover up the FBI’s unlawful, warrantless search of Mr. Durst’s hotel room,” according to a copy of a motion filed by Durst’s attorneys.

The motion asking Magistrate Harry Cantrell to throw out the warrant will likely be argued Thursday. Durst’s attorneys also have asked the judge to subpoena Fox News Channel’s Jeanine Pirro, a former New York prosecutor who investigated Durst in connection with the disappearance of his first wife in 1982, and all video surveillance for March 14 and 15 from the Marriott and Los Angeles Police Department.

The FBI and Los Angeles police, who have a warrant accusing Durst of killing his friend and spokeswoman Susan Berman in 2000 to keep her from talking to Pirro’s investigators, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Pirro has said she planned to talk to Berman. Durst’s attorneys want to confirm that she had never contacted Berman before she was killed, according to the motion.

Louisiana State Police referred requests for comment to the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office. That office does not comment on open cases or investigations, spokesman Chris Bowman said.

Orleans Parish district attorney’s investigator Jim O’Hern testified at Durst’s bail hearing that he helped Los Angeles detectives get the warrant on which Durst was arrested early March 15, a Sunday. An FBI agent had inventoried Durst’s belongings in his hotel room the afternoon of March 14 and a judge signed the warrant about 2 a.m. the next day, he said.

The affidavit used to get the warrant states that Los Angeles police and New Orleans prosecutors got a warrant, then searched the room and found the gun and drugs, according to a motion filed Tuesday and provided to The Associated Press on Wednesday by Durst’s attorneys.

“However, those items were actually discovered by the FBI in a warrantless search of Mr. Durst’s hotel room, preceded by a warrantless detention and arrest, long before the search warrant was issued,” the motion said.

Agents C. Bender and C. Williams had identified and frisked Durst, “a frail, 71-year-old man in poor health,” in the hotel lobby and should have taken him immediately to jail if they were arresting him on a California warrant, the attorneys wrote.

O’Hern testified that the search was an inventory to ensure safekeeping of Durst’s belongings. Neither FBI policy nor court rulings support such a search, “and the state cannot expect the Court to take this justification seriously,” the motion said.

Quoting a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that “an inventory search must not be a ruse of a general rummaging in order to discover incriminating evidence,” they said, “the FBI agents rummaged through all of Mr. Durst’s luggage and clothing, opened every bag and pocket, and inspected, removed and photographed every item in his possession, down to his pens, glasses and medication.”

If the agents had just wanted to safeguard Durst’s property, they should have just removed and secured it, the attorneys wrote.

They also argued that Durst’s federal convictions — interstate transportation of a firearm while under indictment and possessing a firearm or ammunition while a fugitive from justice — aren’t among felonies that make possessing a firearm illegal in Louisiana.

TIME Courts

Student Accused of Killing Classmate on Prom Day to Claim Insanity

A sign at the entrance to Jonathan Law High School memorializes Maren Sanchez as a flag at half-staff blows in the distance on school grounds in Milford, Conn., on May 2, 2014.
Jessica Hill–AP A sign at the entrance to Jonathan Law High School memorializes Maren Sanchez as a flag at half-staff blows in the distance on school grounds in Milford, Conn., on May 2, 2014.

Connecticut teen to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in the next few months

A 17-year-old Connecticut high school student accused in the fatal stabbing of his classmate nearly a year ago plans to use an insanity defense, according to recently filed court documents.

Christopher Plaskon is charged with stabbing 16-year-old Maren Sanchez in the chest and neck with a knife in a stairwell at Jonathan Law High School in Milford on the morning of their junior prom. Police have been investigating if the April 2014 attack was related to Sanchez’s refusal to be Plaskon’s prom date.

In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Plaskon’s attorney, Edward J. Gavin, says Plaskon, at the time of the alleged offense, was “suffering from a mental disease or defect and/or extreme emotional disturbance.”

In the motion filed Monday, Gavin said he planned to introduce expert testimony about Plaskon’s mental state.

The following day, a superior court judge granted State’s attorney Kevin Lawlor’s motion to have the teen undergo a psychiatric evaluation by a mental health professional hired by the state.

“We will either verify or refute the defense’s claim,” Lawlor tells PEOPLE.

The evaluation, which will be conducted by Dr. Howard Zonana, professor of psychiatry and clinical professor of law at Yale University, will take place over the next several months.

“We are going to do our best to ensure justice is done and it will be determined based on the facts as we continue to find them,” says Lawlor.

The alleged attack took place on April 25 around 7:10 a.m. in a stairwell base by a school access door, according to a probable cause statement released by police.

A witness observed Plaskon on top of Sanchez during the attack and “actually unsuccessfully tried to pull him away from the victim,” the report states.

After the alleged assault, Plaskon, whose hands and clothes were bloody, told a school resource officer, “I did it. Just arrest me,” according to the document. Police recovered the knife in the hallway a short distance from the scene.

Sanchez, who had plans to go to the prom with her boyfriend and had posted a photo of her blue prom dress on Facebook, was friends with Plaskon, but they never dated, the New Haven Register reports.

Plaskon, who pleaded not guilty last year, is looking at 60 years in prison if convicted of Sanchez’s murder. If found not guilty by reason of insanity, he could spend 60 years at a state maximum-security psychiatric hospital or potentially released earlier if doctors decide he is no longer dangerous to himself or others, according to CBS New York.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME police

Coroner Classifies Man’s Death in Katrina Aftermath as a Homicide

An officer convicted for burning Henry Glover's body is serving a 17-year federal sentence

(NEW ORLEANS) — New Orleans’ coroner has classified the death of a man shot by a police officer in the chaos following Hurricane Katrina as a homicide.

Coroner Jeffrey Rouse made the announcement Wednesday in the case of Henry Glover, whose body was burned by one police officer after another officer shot him on Sept. 2, 2005.

The immediate legal implications are unclear. Officer David Warren was acquitted by a federal jury after saying he believed Glover was armed when he shot him.

Glover’s family has called for state charges in the case. The New Orleans district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An officer convicted in a separate trial for burning Glover’s body is serving a 17-year federal sentence.

TIME Accident

Teen Who Got Heart Transplant Dies 2 Years Later in Police Chase

His transplant was at first denied because of run-ins with the law

A suburban Atlanta teenager who received national attention two years ago after doctors turned down his request for a heart transplant was killed Tuesday in a high-speed police chase.

Anthony Stokes, 17, of Decatur, Georgia, received a transplant to replace his failing heart in August 2013—but only after a hospital reversed its decision denying him a spot on the transplant list because of his brushes with the law.

Doctors rebuffed Stokes because he had a “history of noncompliance,” and they did not think he would take his medications or show up for follow-up appointments, Stokes’ mother said. The…

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

TIME weather

California Imposes First-Ever Mandatory Water Restrictions

Weeds grow in dry cracked earth that used to be the bottom of Lake McClure in La Grange, California on March 24, 2015.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Weeds grow in dry cracked earth that used to be the bottom of Lake McClure in La Grange, California on March 24, 2015.

The state is facing a historic drought

California’s governor issued unprecedented mandatory water restrictions for the entire state on Wednesday, in the face of a persistent drought that is growing dire.

Gov. Jerry Brown directed the State Water Resources Control Board to cut the state’s water usage by 25% by enacting a series of water reduction practices, which could translate to savings of about 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months. The plan would include replacing 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought-tolerant landscaping, replacing appliances with energy-efficient models and enforcing restricted water use for places like golf courses and cemeteries. Additional measures will address agricultural water use and investment in water-saving technologies.

“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” said Brown in a statement referring to the record-low snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

The order also asks local water agencies to implement conservation pricing, which can encourage water reductions and discourage waste. Local water suppliers will be required to report water usage, conservation and enforcement actions every month.

A year ago, Governor Brown declared the drought a state of emergency. The drought has lasted four years so far.

TIME Religion

What’s the Origin of the Easter Bunny?

Getty Images

It doesn't come from the Bible

Easter is the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, but the seasonal chocolate eggs and the bunny who delivers them are nowhere to be found in scripture.

The exact origins of the Easter bunny are clouded in mystery. One theory is that the symbol of the rabbit stems from pagan tradition, specifically the festival of Eostre—a goddess of fertility whose animal symbol was a bunny. Rabbits, known for their energetic breeding, have traditionally symbolized fertility.

Eggs are also representative of new life, and it’s believed that decorating eggs for Easter dates back to the 13th century. Hundreds of years ago, churches had their congregations abstain from eggs during Lent, allowing them to be consumed again on Easter. According to History.com, in the 19th century Russian high society started exchanging ornately decorated eggs—even jewel encrusted—on Easter.

But how did the Easter Bunny begin delivering eggs on American shores? According to History.com, the theory with the most evidence is that the floppy-eared bearer of candy came over with German immigrants:

According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.

Bunnies aren’t the animal traditionally associated with Easter in every country. Some identify the holiday with other types of animals like foxes or cuckoo birds.


11 Former Atlanta Educators Convicted in Cheating Scandal

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, second from right, listens as Senior ADA Clint Rucker gives the state's final arguments in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial, in Atlanta on March 18, 2015,
Kent D. Johnson—AP Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, second from right, listens as Senior ADA Clint Rucker gives the state's final arguments in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial, in Atlanta on March 18, 2015,

(ATLANTA) — In one of the biggest cheating scandals of its kind in the U.S., 11 former Atlanta public school educators were convicted Wednesday of racketeering for their role in a scheme to inflate students’ scores on standardized exams.

The defendants, including teachers, a principal and other administrators, were accused of falsifying test results to collect bonuses or keep their jobs in the 50,000-student Atlanta school system. A 12th defendant, a teacher, was acquitted of all charges by the jury.

The racketeering charges carry up to 20 years in prison. Most of the defendants will be sentenced April 8.

“This is a huge story and absolutely the biggest development in American education law since forever,” said University of Georgia law professor Ron Carlson. “It has to send a message to educators here and broadly across the nation. Playing with student test scores is very, very dangerous business.”

A state investigation found that as far back as 2005, educators fed answers to students or erased and changed answers on tests after they were turned in. Evidence of cheating was found in 44 schools with nearly 180 educators involved, and teachers who tried to report it were threatened with retaliation.

Similar cheating scandals have erupted in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Nevada and other public school systems around the country in recent years, as officials link scores to school funding and staff bonuses and vow to close schools that perform poorly.

Thirty-five Atlanta educators in all were indicted in 2013 on charges including racketeering, making false statements and theft. Many pleaded guilty, and some testified at the trial.

Former Atlanta School Superintendent Beverly Hall was among those charged but never went to trial, arguing she was too sick. She died a month ago of breast cancer.

Hall insisted she was innocent. But educators said she was among higher-ups pressuring them to inflate students’ scores to show gains in achievement and meet federal benchmarks that would unlock extra funding.

Over objections from the defendants’ attorneys, Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter ordered all but one of those convicted immediately jailed while they await sentencing. They were led out of court in handcuffs.

“They are convicted felons as far as I’m concerned,” Baxter said, later adding, “They have made their bed and they’re going to have to lie in it.”

The only one allowed to remain free on bail was teacher Shani Robinson, because she is expected to give birth soon.

Bob Rubin, the attorney for former elementary school principal Dana Evans, said he was shocked by the judge’s decision and called it “unnecessary and vindictive.”

Prosecutors said the 12 on trial were looking out for themselves rather than the children’s education. Defense attorneys accused prosecutors of overreaching in charging the educators under racketeering laws usually employed against organized crime.

The attorneys for some of the defendants said they will appeal.

Hall served as superintendent for more than a decade, which is rare for a big-city schools chief. She was named Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2009 and credited with raising student test scores and graduation rates, particularly among the district’s poor and minority students.

But the award quickly lost its luster as her district became mired in the scandal, which began to unfold when The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that some scores were statistically improbable.

In a video message to the staff before she retired, Hall said: “I am confident that aggressive, swift action will be taken against anyone who believed so little in our students and in our system of support that they turned to dishonesty as the only option.”

The monthslong trial began in August with more than six weeks of jury selection, and testimony concluded in late February.

District Attorney Paul Howard said it was the biggest and most complex case his office had ever handled. It lasted more than two years and involved hundreds of interviews with school administrators, staff, parents and students.

“Our entire effort in this case was simply to get our community to stop and take a look at the education system,” Howard said.

Dessa Curb, a former elementary school teacher, was the one educator acquitted of all charges.

“I’ve prayed and I believed that this would be my outcome,” said a dazed-looking Curb, tears in her eyes.

TIME Crime

Duke University Investigating Noose Found Hanging on Campus

An aerial view of the Duke University campus including the Duke Chapel in Durham, NOrth Carolina on April 21, 2013.
Lance King—Getty Images An aerial view of the Duke University campus including the Duke Chapel in Durham, NOrth Carolina on April 21, 2013.

Officials say the rope tied into a noose was found about 2 a.m.

(DURHAM, N.C.) — Duke officials are trying to find out who hung a noose outside a building that houses several offices, including those focused on diversity.

Officials say the rope tied into a noose was found about 2 a.m. Wednesday in the Bryan Center plaza. The center is home to offices including the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and the Center for Multicultural Affairs.

Duke’s vice president for student affairs says anyone found responsible for “committing this act of intimidation” will be held accountable. Vice President Larry Moneta said in an email to students that he felt anger and disgust when he learned about the noose.

University and student leaders have scheduled a forum for Wednesday evening on the steps of Duke Chapel. Speakers will include President Richard Brodhead.

TIME Crime

Idaho Man Who Called 911 To Complain About Bar Tab Could Get Jail Time

The man called 12 times to complain about a $30 bar tab

An Idaho man who called 911 early Monday to complain that a bar overcharged him is now facing up to a year in jail time and a $1,000 fine.

According to a report by KXLY, the drama began when an intoxicated Phillip Poissonnier was kicked out of Club Tequila in Post Falls, Idaho shortly after 1 a.m. Officers gave him a courtesy ride home, but later he called 911 repeatedly because he wanted the police to address the bar allegedly overcharging on his $30 bar tab.

“We were responding to a prowler call and while we’re on the prowler call, he’s calling 911 making sure he’s not overcharged,” Post Falls Police Captain Pat Knight said.

On one of 12 calls, Poissonnier told a 911 operator that she was “just like his ex wife.”


TIME Smartphones

3 Charts That Show Why We’re Addicted to Our Phones

They make us feel happy and productive

A new report from Pew Research Center takes a sobering look at why many Americans just can’t be without their smartphones.

Many Americans need — yes, need — their phones to access the Internet, according to Pew’s survey of U.S. adult smartphone owners, published Wednesday. About 7% of respondents said they required their phone to go online since they did not have broadband or any other options for Internet access. The most “total smartphone-dependent” Americans, as Pew termed this category, tended to be in low-income and non-white groups:

Pew’s survey also found the 36% of U.S. adults didn’t own a smartphone, suggesting how millions of Americans, believe it or not, are getting by just fine without their Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. In fact, most smartphone owners can complete tasks just fine when their phones aren’t by their sides:


But in the end, Americans probably won’t ditch their smartphones if they don’t have to. Though about half of respondents said their phones made them feel distracted, the overwhelming majority also said their phones made them feel happy and productive.

That love-hate relationship might be why some scientists believe cell phone addiction is real — and also why some research shows you that it might actually be beneficial to always have your phone. In that case, everyone needs their phones.

Read Next: iPhone Separation Anxiety Makes You Dumber, Study Finds


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