An appeals court in Texas has overturned the 2010 conviction of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who had been found guilty of illegally funneling corporate money to Texas candidates during the 2002 campaign cycle.
But in a 2-1 ruling released Thursday, the state's Third District Court of Appeals says "we conclude that the evidence presented does not support a conclusion that DeLay committed the crimes that were charged. ... The fundamental problem with the State's case was its failure to prove proceeds of criminal activity."
The court found that a political action committee DeLay created, which was at the center of the case, could accept donations from corporations and that the PAC "could lawfully transfer the corporate funds out of state." Therefore, the judges write, "the State failed to prove the 'applicable culpable mental states' for the donating corporations to support a finding of criminal intent by the corporations."
What's more, the appeals court says:
"There was no evidence that [the PAC] or RNSEC [the Republican National State Elections Committee] treated the corporate funds as anything but what they were, corporate funds with limited uses under campaign finance law. Rather, when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence showed an agreement to two legal monetary transfers: that [DeLay's PAC] transfer corporate money to RNSEC for use in other states and not in Texas in exchange for RNSEC transferring funds to Texas candidates out of a hard money account."
"DeLay was convicted of conspiracy and money laundering ... for his participation in a scheme to circumvent Texas elections laws banning the use of corporate money in candidate campaigns.
"DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority used $190,000 in corporate money in a swap with the Republican National Committee for money raised from individuals to help finance Republican candidates for the Texas House in the 2002 elections.
"Those races were key to a GOP takeover of the House and set the stage for a 2003 congressional redistricting that helped give the Republicans a majority in the state's congressional delegation."
According to Austin's American-Statesman, "Justice Melissa Goodwin of Austin wrote the majority opinion, joined by visiting Justice David Gaultney. Both are Republicans." The dissenting vote was cast by Chief Justice J. Woodfin "Woodie" Jones, a Democrat.
Illinois State Police patrol officers will soon be carrying tasers with a video camera attached.
State police say it has purchased about 800 of these devices, which officers can use once they undergo specialized training.
“This is a less lethal use of force, which gives (police) another option to defend themselves, or to possibly subdue a combative motorist or a fleeing motorist” explained ISP spokeswoman Monique Bond.
Bond said a specialized unit has been given tasers, but she said all officers will now have access to them.
Lieutenant Brian Mennenga with the Champaign County Sheriff’s office said his department already uses tasers, and equips officers in the jail with the tasers that record video.
“Whatever happens in that facility, then it’s on video,” Mennenga said. “That way you can see first-hand the officer’s point of view when they did have to use a taser, or even if they didn’t have to use the taser, they can have the video activated to show the circumstances around that.”
Mennenga said the video can also become a valuable training tool for law enforcement.
Meanwhile, the Illinois State Police said its tasers will be distributed in the next few months.
Phillipos is accused of lying to police, while the other two former University of Massachusetts Dartmouth students face more serious charges of obstruction of justice.
The Globe adds:
"Assistant US Attorney John A. Capin said he expects to call up to 20 witnesses in a trial, which could last two weeks. The case was continued to Oct. 29.
"The charges against Phillipos relate to two occasions in April, five days apart, when federal agents allege that he lied about what he was doing in the hours after agents broadcast photos of the alleged suspects in the Marathon bombings.
"The indictment handed up by the grand jury said Phillipos told numerous lies before acknowledging that he and the Kazakh students had entered Tsarnaev's dorm room on the evening of April 18 and removed several items, including Tsarnaev's laptop and a backpack containing fireworks and Vaseline, which they believed had something to do with making bombs."
Reuters reports that Phillipos could face up to 16 years in prison, while Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov could face 25 years in prison or deportation.
The Champaign Police Department says a 13-year old has been recovered, and her alleged abductor is custody.
On Thursday at around 3:30pm, Cleo Younce, 13, was reported missing from her home in the 2400 block of Hathaway Drive in Champaign.
Police say Younce called her mother to report her own abduction, and was believed to be with Nicolas Hurley, 21, of Daleville, Ind.
Champaign Police said Younce and Hurley were acquiainted through family friends.
The state issued an Amber Alert for Younce about 11 a.m. Friday.
At 12:30 p.m., Illinois State Police announced Younce had been recovered and that Hurley was in custody. In a press release, Champaign Police said officers in Cape Girardeau, Missouri located Younce and Hurley coming out of a Wal-Mart store in the city. Hurley was arrested without incident.
Champaign Police said Cape Girardeau Police, the U.S. Marshall's Task Force, and Missouri State Police assisted in the investigation.
"Two local contractors destroyed the house and hauled the debris away, on their own dime," Brian Bull reported for WCPN. "City Councilman Matt Zone said every last shred of Castro's house is going to be pulverized and discarded."
The house was demolished as part of a plea deal that spared Castro from a possible death sentence.
Secretary of State John Kerry says that tests have shown evidence of Syria's use of the chemical agent sarin in an attack on the opposition last month that the White House has blamed on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
"I can share with you today that blood and hair samples that have come to us through an appropriate chain of custody from East Damascus, from first responders, it has tested positive for signatures of sarin," Kerry told CNN on Sunday.
"Each day that goes by, this case is even stronger," he said on the cable network's State of the Union program.
Kerry said the U.S. obtained the samples "independently," giving no indication the results came from the United Nations chemical weapons inspectors, who left Syria with samples on Saturday.
The U.N. has not said how long it would take to test its samples, but speaking on Saturday, a spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon suggested it might be days or a week.
Kerry said "we have confidence" that Congress will authorize the use of force against Syria.
"They are good people in the Congress," he tells CNN. "Politically, it's been difficult, but this is a matter of national security, it's a matter of the credibility of the United States of America, it's a matter of upholding the interests of our allies and friends in the region."
Update At 10:10 a.m. ET:
Reuters reports that Iran's former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is quoted by the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency on Sunday as saying Syria, an ally of Iran, had used chemical weapons:
"The people have been the target of chemical attacks by their own government and now they must also wait for an attack by foreigners," Rafsanjani said, according to ILNA.