September 19, 2013

Illinois Troopers Getting Tasers That Record Video

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.

Robel Phillipos leaves federal court on Friday in Boston after he was arraigned on charges of hindering the investigation of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
(Stephan Savoia/AP)
September 14, 2013

Three Friends Of Alleged Boston Bomber Plead Not Guilty

The three friends of the alleged Boston bomber pleaded not guilty to charges that they misled police to help Dzhokhar Tsarnaev evade capture.

The Boston Globe reports Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both 19, had been indicted and entered a not-guilty plea, but they had to repeat the process on Friday when Robel Phillipos, 19, was added to their indictment.

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.

 Cleo Younce, 13 (left) is reportedly in the company of Nicolas Hurley, 21.
(Champaign Police Department)
September 05, 2013

Champaign Police Recover Abducted Teen

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.

Ariel Castro
(Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer/Landov)
September 04, 2013

Ariel Castro, Ohio Man Who Held Women For Decades, Is Dead

Corrections officials in Ohio say Ariel Castro is believed to have committed suicide in his cell Tuesday night.

They say he was found hanged around 9:20 p.m. ET at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient.

Castro was serving a life sentence for holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for more than a decade.

Officials say medical staff at the prison tried to revive Castro. He was pronounced dead at a hospital around 10:50 p.m. ET.

Castro was moved to the prison in Orient for his safety. He first was sent to the Lorain Correctional Institution for processing.

In July, Castro pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges including kidnapping and rape. He was sentenced in August to life in prison plus 1,000 years.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Berry's 6-year-old daughter were rescued from Castro's home in May. They had disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004.

On Aug. 7, Castro's house was torn down.

"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.

John Kerry
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
September 01, 2013

Kerry: Tests Indicate Sarin Used In Syria

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.

Todd Farthing
(Champaign Police)
August 30, 2013

Champaign Blow Dart Suspect Appears In Court

A 19-year-old Champaign man has been charged with aggravated battery after two people were shot with blowgun darts as they walked on the University of Illinois campus.

Todd Farthing was charged with two felony counts Friday in Champaign County Circuit Court. He has not entered a plea and court records didn't indicate whether he has an attorney.

Police say they arrested Farthing after getting an anonymous tip.

One dart hit a 21-year-old woman in her left forearm as she walked through a cross walk on the night of Aug. 20. Later that night a 35-year-old man was struck in his left forearm.

Police say both were treated for their injuries at a local hospital.

Todd Farthing
(Champaign Police)
August 29, 2013

Champaign Police Arrest Suspect In Blow Dart Incidents

A 19-year-old man is facing a reckless conduct charge after two people were shot with blowgun darts as they walked on the University of Illinois campus.

Todd Farthing is set to appear in court Friday following his arrest on Thursday.

Police say they arrested Farthing after getting an anonymous tip.

Two people were hit by blowdarts last week as thousands of students returned to campus to start the fall semester.

One dart hit a 20-year-old woman in her left forearm as she walked through a cross walk. Later that night a 35-year-old man was struck in his left forearm.

Police say both were treated for their injuries at a local hospital.

No telephone listing for Farthing could be found and it wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

August 29, 2013

Danville Prison On Low-Level Lockdown

The Illinois Department of Corrections has put part of its prison in Danville on a low-level lockdown after inmates reported flu-like symptoms.

Department spokesman Tom Shaer said Thursday afternoon that one housing unit at the Danville Correctional Center in far eastern Illinois is under a Level 4 lockdown, the lowest level lockdown.

Shaer says the lockdown is a precaution and that tests are being done at a Chicago health lab. He says results of those tests should be available on Friday.

August 28, 2013

Quinn: Early Release Rules Followed `Precisely'

Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois prison officials followed the law "precisely'' when they granted early release to an inmate now facing a murder charge.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Joshua A. Jones was released in May five months early from a drug-dealing sentence.

The 28-year-old is now charged with murder in the Aug. 17 shooting death of a Decatur man.

Quinn said Wednesday that the law in the Jones case "was carried out to the letter.''

The Democrat signed a law last year that reinstated early release for non-violent inmates who behave behind bars. He suspended an earlier program after a 2009 scandal.

The new program started in March.

Jones served 19 months of a four-year term for selling heroin, crack cocaine and hydrocodone.

Chelsea Manning
(Patrick Semansky/AP)
August 27, 2013

Manning Would Pay For Hormone Treatment, Lawyer Says

Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning is willing to pay for estrogen treatments that would lead to breast development and other female characteristics, the lawyer for the former Bradley Manning tells The Associated Press.

According to the wire service:

"Attorney David Coombs told The Associated Press on Monday that Manning hoped the military prison [Fort Leavenworth] 'will simply do the right thing' based on the request for hormone treatment so the soldier will not have to sue in military or civilian court. Coombs said at this point, Manning does not want sex-reassignment surgery and expects to be kept with men in the prison where she's serving time for leaking mountains of classified material to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks."

The 25-year-old Manning, a former intelligence analyst, was sentenced by a military judge last Wednesday to 35 years in prison for giving WikiLeaks more than 700,000 documents and other materials. The records included copies of diplomatic cables, battlefield reports and video footage of a U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq. The earliest she might be released on parole is the year 2020.

The day after the sentence was handed down, the soldier who until then had been known as Bradley Manning released a statement saying, "I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible."

As The Associated Press wrote, "Manning's struggle with gender identity disorder" was an issue at the court-martial. Manning's attorneys presented evidence about the issue and raised questions about why the Army allowed Manning to stay in Iraq.

Since Manning's conviction and sentencing, Army officials have said that Fort Leavenworth does not provide hormone therapy for its all-male prison population.

Also Monday, Coombs wrote on his blog that Manning has chosen the middle name Elizabeth. And, there was word that the "Bradley Manning Support Network" has changed its name to the "Pvt. Manning Support Network."

Related: NPR Issues New Guidance On Manning's Gender Identity.

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