The Trial Diaries

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Source: Joan Rivers’ doctor took selfie, began biopsy before her cardiac arrest

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The cardiac arrest leading to Joan Rivers’ death happened as the comedian’s personal doctor began performing a biopsy on her vocal cords, a source close to the death investigation told CNN.

A staff member at Manhattan’s Yorkville Endoscopy clinic told investigators that the doctor, who has not been publicly identified, took a selfie photo in the procedure room while Rivers was under anesthesia, the source said.

Rivers, 81, was at the clinic for a scheduled endoscopy by another doctor, gastroenterologist Dr. Lawrence Cohen. That procedure, intended to help diagnose her hoarse voice and sore throat, involved the insertion of a camera down her throat.

After Cohen, the clinic’s medical director, finished his work, a biopsy was done on Rivers without her prior consent, according to the source.

An ear, nose and throat specialist not certified by the clinic as required by law performed a biopsy on her vocal cords. The doctor is described by the source as Rivers’ personal ear-nose-throat physician.

Clinic: Vocal-cord biopsy did not kill Joan Rivers

“Even though you are a licensed physician, you still should have, if you will, the checks and balances to get your approval to practice in that particular place,” said Dr. Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

Investigators believe that Rivers’ vocal chords began to swell during the allegedly unauthorized biopsy, cutting off the flow of oxygen to her lungs, which led to cardiac arrest on the morning of August 29, the source said.

Rivers, 81, was rushed by paramedics from Yorkville Endoscopy to New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital a mile away, where she died a week later.

Yorkville Endoscopy issued a statement last Thursday denying reports that any vocal cord biopsy has ever been done at the clinic, although federal privacy law prevented any patient information from being released.

The day after the denial was issued, the clinic confirmed that Dr. Cohen “is not currently performing procedures…nor is he currently serving as medical director.”

The source said that at this time neither Cohen nor the ear, nose and throat doctor have been accused of wrongdoing by investigators.

The clinic declined to respond to the source’s comments about a biopsy or a selfie, citing federal privacy law.

Timeline emerges in Joan Rivers’ death

Source: CNN Susan Candiotti and Alan Duke

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St. Louis grand jury term extended as it hears Ferguson evidence

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The St. Louis grand jury hearing evidence in the case of the white police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown last month has been given an extra four months to weigh possible criminal charges against the officer, officials said on Tuesday.

The prosecutor’s office still hopes to conclude its presentation of evidence to the grand jury in October but now has until Jan. 7 to do, said Edward Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.

“The case is still being presented to the grand jury and we are moving forward with it,” Magee said.

Under Missouri law, grand juries can be empanelled up to six months but typically are held for four months. The current grand jury sitting in St. Louis County was due to disband Sept. 10, but at the request of the prosecutor’s office, St. Louis County Judge Carolyn Whittington has approved holding the jury for the full six months. She then added 60 days to the jury’s term, said Paul Fox, the county’s director of judicial administration.

“This is not a typical case,” Fox said.

The Aug. 9 shooting of Brown by police officer Darren Wilson took place at midday in a residential neighborhood of the mostly black St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Reports by multiple witnesses that Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was shot multiple times ignited weeks of demonstrations and rioting through the area.

Brown’s family, protesters and civil rights leaders have demanded that Wilson be charged with a crime. They say there is enough evidence for McCulloch to file charges directly without the use of a grand jury and they have demanded that he be replaced with a special prosecutor.

Accounts of the altercation between Wilson and Brown differ. Some witnesses have said Brown posed no threat to the officer, while friends of the officer have said Brown injured Wilson before the shooting. An autopsy showed the teenager was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.

City officials say they are certain there will be more protests and possible rioting if Wilson is not charged and they are making plans for how to handle such unrest.

Source: Carey Gillam of Reuters

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Virginia police search for missing college student

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Police on Tuesday searched for a University of Virginia student missing since the weekend, a police spokesman said.

Hannah Graham, 18, was last heard from in a text message early on Saturday.

About 50 officers and other personnel had looked for Graham on Monday and the search had restarted off the university campus, Charlottesville police spokesman Lieutenant Ronnie Roberts said.

Graham was last seen off the university campus. Asked if there was any sign of foul play, Roberts said: “It’s still a missing persons case.”

Graham is described as slender, about 5 feet 11 inches tall, with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles. She was last seen wearing a black crop-top with mesh cut outs.

Source: Ian Simpson of Reuters

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Tony Stewart fatal dirt-track accident to be heard by grand jury

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The circumstances surrounding a fatal dirt-track accident involving three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart in upstate New York last month will be heard by a grand jury, authorities said on Tuesday.

Stewart, one of the biggest names in auto racing, struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward during a non-NASCAR sprint car race on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

“Upon my review of all of the information contained in the entire investigation, I have made the determination that it would be appropriate to submit the evidence to a grand jury, for their determination as to what action should be taken in this matter,” said Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo.

“I respect the time and effort spent by both the Ontario County District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Office in investigating this tragic accident.” Stewart said in a statement. “I look forward to this process being completed, and I will continue to provide my full cooperation.”

Stewart and Ward bumped cars during the race and the collision sent Ward into an outside retaining wall.

During the ensuing caution period, Ward jumped out of his car in an apparent attempt to confront the 43-year-old Stewart, who remained in the race.

When Stewart came around on the next lap, Ward, while in the middle of the track, pointed at Stewart. As Stewart approached Ward, his car appeared to fishtail, striking Ward and throwing him some 50 feet.

Ward was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Tantillo said he intended to present the case to a grand jury “in the near future.”

Source: Steve Ginsburg of Reuters

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Judge halts proceedings in child stabbing case

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WAUKESHA, Wis. — A judge halted court proceedings Monday for one of two 12-year-old girls accused of trying to kill a classmate to please a fictional character called Slender Man while the girl undergoes a competency evaluation.

The girl’s attorney, Maura McMahon, told Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren during a brief hearing that a psychologist has questioned the girl’s competency, raising concerns about whether she would be able to assist in her own defense. Bohren ordered a competency examination to be completed within 30 days.

The girl faces one count of first-degree attempted homicide in adult court. She would face up to 65 years if she’s convicted. Her attorneys have said they plan to seek a transfer to juvenile court, where she couldn’t be held past age 25.

The girl’s preliminary hearing — in which a judge decides whether enough evidence exists for a case to continue to trial — was scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. McMahon asked Bohren to allow the hearing to continue, saying the girl would suffer harm if the case is delayed. After the hearing, McMahon told reporters that as the girl ages it becomes harder to convince a judge she belongs in juvenile court.

Assistant District Attorney Ted Szczupakiewicz objected, saying it makes no sense to continue proceedings only to find out down the road the girl was incompetent.

Bohren ultimately determined that continuing before competency is settled could violate the girl’s due process rights. The girl is due back in court Oct. 22.

Bohren last month ordered the other girl to receive treatment based on doctors’ testimony that she says she sees and speaks with things others can’t, including unicorns and characters from the Harry Potter and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. If doctors aren’t able to get her to a point where she can help with her defense within a year, then she could be held at a treatment center indefinitely.

According to court documents, the two girls attacked the 12-year-old victim in a wooded Waukesha park after a May 30 sleepover. Once the alleged attackers left, the victim crawled to a road where a passing bicyclist found her.

One of the alleged attackers told investigators they planned to kill their classmate to gain favor with Slender Man and then run away to his mansion in the Wisconsin woods.

The victim has recovered and returned to school, though doctors had told police the knife just missed a major artery near her heart.

The Associated Press isn’t naming either of the alleged attackers because their cases could be moved to juvenile court.

Source: TODD RICHMOND of Associated Press

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Doctor convicted of killing sentenced in sex case

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PROVO, Utah — A Utah doctor convicted of killing his wife was sentenced Monday to one to 15 years in prison in a separate sexual abuse case.

Martin MacNeill, 58, was convicted in July of sexually abusing his adult daughter in 2007.

Fourth District Court Judge Samuel McVey sentenced MacNeill after hearing from the doctor’s daughter, Alexis Somers.

Somers read a letter in court calling her father a “monster.”

“He destroyed my world and created a living nightmare in its place,” the Deseret News reported.

The Associated Press doesn’t normally identify alleged victims of sexual crimes, but the adult daughter asked to be identified in this case.

MacNeill on Monday was also ordered to pay $1,125 fine.

He’s not eligible for probation because has not taken responsibility or shown remorse, the judge said.

Prosecutors said the sexual abuse occurred one month after MacNeill’s wife was found dead.

MacNeill was convicted in November 2013 of drugging his wife and leaving her to die in a bathtub.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in the murder case on Friday.

Source: AP

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Texas doctor poisoned lover’s coffee over obsession: prosecutor

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HOUSTON- A breast cancer physician charged with spiking her lover’s coffee with a compound used in antifreeze was obsessed with the man and even had a private investigator follow him, prosecutors said in opening statements at her trial on Monday.

Dr. Ana Maria Gonzalez-Angulo, 43, is charged with aggravated assault of a family member, which also covers domestic violence in dating relationships, for allegedly spiking Dr. George Blumenschein’s coffee in January 2013.

“This case is about a woman who had an attraction, which wound up with a rejection and it led to an absolute obsession with George Blumenschein,” Assistant Harris County District Attorney Justin Keiter said.

Gonzalez-Angulo and Blumenschein, both oncologists with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, had been in an affair for two years when she asked him to try a coffee blend during a rendezvous at her home, a criminal complaint said.

She is accused of spiking the coffee with ethylene glycol, which is commonly found in antifreeze and in science labs.

Blumenschein told investigators that four hours after he drank two sweet-tasting cups of coffee he began to experience slurred speech, and a loss of balance and some motor skills.

Blumenschein was admitted to the emergency room that night and found to have central nervous system damage, cardiopulmonary complications and renal failure. He survived after undergoing dialysis treatments.

A doctor called police after seeing a hazy quality in Blumenschein’s urine bag and upon examination, finding crystals consistent with ethylene glycol poisoning, prosecutors said.

An attorney for Gonzalez-Angulo told jurors his client was innocent of the charges and it has not been proven that Blumenschein was poisoned by ethylene glycol.

The doctors and experts prosecutors plan to present “are doing little more than guesswork,” said Andy Drumheller, who represents Gonzalez-Angulo.

“We don’t guess people into felony convictions,” he said.

Drumheller said his client tried but was unable to convince Blumenschein to go to the emergency room when he started showing signs of illness.

Gonzalez-Angulo would face five to 99 years in prison if convicted.

Source: Amanda Orr of Reuters

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Urban Outfitters Sells Bloody Kent State Sweatshirt, Quickly Apologizes

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If you’re going to sell a college-branded sweatshirt with what looks a whole lot like bloodstains and bullet holes on it, maybe you don’t pick the school with one of the most infamous shootings in history.

Urban Outfitters learned this lesson over the weekend, after BuzzFeed discovered it was selling a “Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt” for $129.

The listing urged customers: “We only have one, so get it or regret it!”

Speaking of regret, after a widespread outcry, Urban Outfitters apologized via its Twitter account on Monday. It claimed that the blood-colored splatters and frayed holes were part of the shirt’s vintage charm:

“Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset.”

On May 4, 1970, the National Guard shot into a crowd of 2000 people at a rally at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine, all of whom were students at Kent State.

Was this red-colored, tattered sweatshirt merely an accident? The store does sell vintage college shirts from other schools, such as

Bates College and Cathedral College. They do not have blood-red stains on them.

Urban Outfitters’ mistake could be another person’s good fortune. According to The Washington Post, the sweatshirt is now being sold on eBay with a starting bid of $550.

The eBay seller wrote:

“I ordered it and am waiting myself, as soon as it arrives, I’ll ship it to you. Perfect for Halloween or whatever your deal is. Also; I’m gonna give 50% of the profit to The Southern Poverty Law Center, who protect those who cannot protect themselves, often those who are victims of police brutality.”

This is not the first controversial clothing sale this year. Last month, clothing retailer Zara sold a baby shirt that looked very similar to shirts worn by Jewish concentration camp inmates.

It’s also not the first controversial clothing sale for Urban Outfitters.Business Insider reported that the hipster clothing chain previously sold a “drunk Jesus” shirt, a “depression” shirt and “Lord Ganesh” socks.

In 2012, the Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters over the use of “Navajo” in naming their products.

Source: Megan Turchi Boston.com Staff

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Judge sees confession tape in ’79 missing boy case

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NEW YORK — After the videotape clicks on, the 53-year-old calmly tells investigators how he choked 6-year-old Etan Patz in the basement of a Manhattan convenience store on May 25, 1979. He describes putting the boy, who was still alive, into a plastic bag, then putting the bag inside a box and dumping it nearby.

“I was nervous; my legs were jumping,” Pedro Hernandez said. “I wanted to let go, but I just couldn’t let go. I felt like something just took over me. I don’t know what to say. Something just took over me, and I was just choking him.”

The tape was played at a hearing Monday to determine whether or not the confession can be used as evidence at Hernandez’ murder trial — not whether the statements are true. It was the first time the public could hear Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty, talk in his own words about the notorious case that plagued police for decades.

Judge Maxwell Wiley must decide whether Hernandez was properly advised of his rights and is mentally capable of understanding them.

Etan became one of the first missing children to be pictured on a milk carton, and the day he disappeared, May 25, became National Missing Children’s Day. His body has never been found.

His parents were in court Monday, the first time they have appeared publicly since Hernandez was arrested two years ago. The father, Stan, watched stoically while the boy’s mother, Julie, left before the tape began.

On the video, Hernandez is dressed in a brown jacket, white T-shirt and jeans, and sits at an empty desk save for a can of Pepsi. He talks about his family and his medical history — he is HIV-positive, suffers back problems and is bipolar.

He explains how he killed the child but doesn’t remember what the boy was wearing, that Etan had a cap on when he vanished, or that the weather was bad that day. He says he tossed the boy’s book bag behind a freezer; no bag was ever found. He doesn’t remember the boy saying anything, and nothing in particular caught his attention that made him choose the boy, he says.

“I just approached to him or I asked him, you want a soda? I said come with me,” he said. “He didn’t say nothing to me. He didn’t kick. He wasn’t angry. He just kind of stood there, and I just felt bad what I did.”

Hernandez’s lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, argued his client falsely confessed and lacks the mental ability to understand his rights. He described Hernandez’ demeanor on camera as exhausted from hours of questioning; Hernandez had been in custody nearly eight hours when the taping began.

“When those eight hours were finished, he was convinced he had something to do with the disappearance of Etan Patz,” Fishbein said.

In 2012, police got a lead that brought them to Hernandez, a high school dropout who had worked at a corner store near where Etan disappeared.

Hernandez, most recently a resident of Maple Shade, New Jersey, also told police that he confessed before: to his ex-wife, to a friend, and in front of about 15 people during a prayer circle at a church group. No one ever went to authorities.

“We were all holding hands and praying,” he said of the church meeting. “And everybody was confessing, so I confessed. I told them I killed a child.”

The hearing is expected to last several weeks.

Source: COLLEEN LONG of Associated Press

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Seattle woman broke into apartment and raped sleeping man: police

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A Seattle woman is accused of raping her neighbor as he slept after a party.

The victim shoved the 240-pound woman, later identified as 26-year-old Chantae Gilman, off of him when he woke up to her having sex with him, according to the Seattle P-I.

She apparently broke into the 31-year-old’s apartment on June 16, 2013 after a birthday party. It wasn’t until recently that a sample of DNA taken from the victim was analyzed.

Gilman was linked to the crime, but she is apparently undergoing drug treatment, a neighbor told KOMO-TV.

A Facebook page that appears to belong to Gilman frequently notes her sporadic sobriety.

“I’ve got 2 months pregnant and I’m 31 weeks pregnant,” Gilman apparently wrote on Aug. 5.

An arrest warrant was issued for Gilman, a mother of four other children who is reportedly pregnant with another child.

Court documents show Gilman held the victim down during the alleged rape and told him to be quiet. He managed to push her out of his west Seattle apartment.

He then described Gilman as “a drug user in the area.”

In the past, Gilman had been treated for mental health issues and drug abuse. She’s also pleaded guilty in 2006 and 2008 to criminal charges, court records show.

She reportedly suffers from bipolar disorder and another mental illness, the TV station reported.

During an undated interview, Gilman reportedly told investigators she didn’t remember having sex with the man or being at his home, the P-I wrote.

Source: Nicole Hensley New York Daily News

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