TIME Crime

Attorney: Boy, 10, Charged With Homicide Was ‘Intimidated’ By Cops

His questioning raised many "red flags" about the death of a 90-year-old woman, attorney says

An attorney for a 10-year-old boy who was charged with murdering an elderly woman this week said his client’s alleged confession may have been subject to “intimidation” by police, raising “red flags” about his homicide rap.

“It seems there was some intimidation,” Bernard Brown said, CitizensVoice.com reports. “You can see through the writing of the affidavit, they seem to be double backing and re-interviewing [the boy] or his family.”

Police say the boy, who was charged as an adult on Monday with aggravated assault and homicide, admitted attacking 90-year-old Helen Novak with a cane and repeatedly punching her, which resulted in her death. The alleged attack occurred at the home of his grandfather, who helped care for Novak. In Pennsylvania, any child charged with murder is charged as an adult, according to the Juvenile Law Center.

His mother then took him to the police four hours later and said the boy admitted to assaulting Novak. When interviewed, the boy’s grandfather also said the boy admitted to attacking her. According to the arrest affidavit, the boy’s mother allowed him to be questioned alone, although one expert said a parent has no right to waive a right to attorney for his or her child.

“The defense can probably raise the argument the statement was not given voluntarily, it was compelled in conjunction with the mother,” said Al Flora, former chief public defender for Luzerne County.

[Citizens Voice]

TIME weather

Polar Vortex Could Return This Winter

Accuweather says arctic conditions will return to the northeastern U.S. this winter, though the NOAA says things won't be as bad

In spite of a gradual transition from summer to fall, forecasters report that winter is, in fact, coming with a pronounced drop in temperature and high amount of snow.

“After record-shattering temperatures and high snow totals last winter in the Northeast, a similar theme will continue into the 2014-2015 season,” said forecasters Accuweather, noting that the polar vortex, a sequel no one asked for, “will slip down into the [Northeast] region from time to time,” although it will not be as “persistent.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a more tempered projection for this winter, however. Even though temperatures will be below average in the south-central and southeastern states, it said, overall weather will not be as extreme as the winter of 2013-2014. It even forecast that the west coast will experience one of its warmest winters on record. Drought conditions are expected to improve in December and January.

The Weather Channel says that while last winter primarily hit the upper Midwest, this winter’s chill will largely impact the East Coast and Gulf Coast.

TIME Autos

Chrysler Recalling Nearly 907,000 Cars, SUVs

(DETROIT) — Nearly 907,000 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep SUVs and cars are being recalled for alternators that can fail and heated power mirror wiring that can short and cause minor fires.

The recalls, posted Thursday by U.S. safety regulators, push the total number of recalls so far this year to over 500, totaling more than 51 million vehicles. That’s a full-year record on both counts, due mainly to massive General Motors recalls of more than 30 million vehicles.

The largest of Thursday’s recalls covers nearly 470,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees, Chrysler 300s, and Dodge Chargers, Challengers and Durangos from the 2011 through 2014 model years. The alternators can fail, causing the 3.6-liter V6 engines to stall unexpectedly.

The problem also can cause the electrical system to fail, as well as knock out power-assisted steering, antilock brakes and electronic stability control. It can even cause fire or smoke, according to documents Chrysler filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

NHTSA opened an investigation into the problem in July, and Chrysler began its own probe in August. The company analyzed warranty complaints and alternators that had failed. The alternator generates electricity to recharge the battery and run other devices.

Chrysler investigators traced the problem to heat fatigue in an alternator diode. Chrysler said it received 322 complaints about the problem, while 55 people complained to NHTSA. The company said it knows of one crash related to the problem, but no injuries or fires.

The company will replace the alternators with upgraded versions for free. Owners will be notified in November. The company says customers who see warning lights or suspect a problem should contact their dealers.

The recall affects cars and SUVs sold mainly in the U.S. and Canada, but some were sold in Mexico and overseas markets.

The second recall covers almost 437,000 Jeep Wranglers from 2011 through 2013. Water can find its way into the heated power mirror wiring harness and cause corrosion. That can cause a short and could cause a minor fire and smoke, as well as cause loss of function of the mirror.

The problem was discovered in February after three Wranglers in Canada were damaged. Chrysler says it has 26 complaints about the problem, but it knows of no fires, crashes or injuries.

Dealers will move the wiring and install a protective shield to keep water out at no cost to owners, starting in December. Most of the Wranglers are in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, but more than 78,000 were sold overseas.

The total number of recalled vehicles already has shattered the old full-year record of 30.8 million that was set in 2004.

TIME Natural Disasters

20 Million Set to Take Part in ‘Great ShakeOut’ Earthquake Drill

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate speaks during an event on earthquake preparedness Oct. 14, 2014 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate speaks during an event on earthquake preparedness Oct. 14, 2014 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Alex Wong—Getty Images

At 10:16 a.m on Thursday, millions of people around the world will practice the "drop, cover and hold on" moves

More than 20 million people around the world on Thursday are expected to take part in the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, an annual event that promotes earthquake readiness.

At 10:16 a.m. on Oct. 16, participants will practice the government-recommended “drop, cover and hold on” protocol, which involves getting on the ground, taking cover under a table or desk and holding on until the earthquake is over.

With 10.32 million people registered, California has the highest participation of any U.S. state or nation taking part. ShakeOut events are also happening inNew Zealand, Japan, Southern Italy and parts of Canada as well. More than 25 million people in total are participating in a ShakeOut event of some kind during 2014, according to the Great ShakeOut organization.

ShakeOuts started in California, where earthquakes are common, but soon spread to other states, and the drills are usually coordinated with local emergency services.

TIME justice

John Grisham Says Sentences Often Too Harsh for Child-Porn Watchers

John Grisham speaks during a television interview in New York in 2012.
John Grisham speaks during a television interview in New York in 2012. Scott Eells—Bloomberg/Getty Images

“These are people who haven’t hurt anybody. They deserve some type of punishment, whatever, but 10 years in prison?”

Best-selling author John Grisham blasted the harsh punishment that people who watch child pornography face upon conviction, saying the prison system has “gone nuts.”

“We have prisons now filled with guys my age — 60-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody,” Grisham said in a recent interview. Grisham said there are men in prison who “got online one night” who “probably had too much to drink” and ended up on child-pornography websites, a crime he said a friend had committed.

The writer of legal thrillers The Pelican Brief, The Firm and A Time to Kill took the controversial stance in a recent interview with Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, in which he spoke at length about issues he believes face the American criminal-justice system today. During the interview, Grisham shared the story of a friend from law school who served time in prison for downloading child pornography.

“These are people who haven’t hurt anybody. They deserve some type of punishment, whatever, but 10 years in prison?” Grisham queried.

There is wide consensus in the U.S. that the distribution and possession of child pornography is a federal offense that should be punished, but there is controversy surrounding the one-size-fits-all approach to punishment, particularly at a time when sexting and online porn are so prevalent. Over the past 15 years, according to the advocacy organization Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the length of federal sentences for child pornography have increased 500%.

In 2013, the U.S. Sentencing Commission began reviewing the sentencing policy surrounding child pornography, given the complexity of the issue in the Internet age. “Because of changes in the use of Internet-based technologies, the existing penalty structure is in need of revision. Child-pornography offenders engage in a variety of behaviors reflecting different degrees of culpability and sexual dangerousness that are not currently accounted for in the guidelines,” the commission’s chair Judge Patti Saris said in 2013.

Grisham stopped short of defending all convicted sex offenders, adding that he has “no sympathy” for pedophiles. “God, please lock those people up,” he said. “But so many of these guys do not deserve harsh prison sentences, but that’s what they get.”

[Telegraph]

Read next: John Grisham Apologizes for Child Porn Remarks

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