The Trial Diaries

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Closing arguments end in Richard McTear murder trial

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Closing arguments have ended in the murder trial of the Tampa man accused of throwing a baby out of a moving car.

Richard McTear Jr., 26, is accused of causing the death of his ex-girlfriend’s baby boy by throwing him out of his car window on Interstate 275 in May 2009. He is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and other offenses in the death of 4-month-old Emanuel Murray.

The final arguments started just after 9 a.m. and wrapped up around lunchtime. Judge William Fuente said he will give jury instructions Thursday morning and deliberations will follow.

Assistant State Attorney told jurors evidence presented by prosecutors has “proven beyond every reasonable doubt that Richard McTear is guilty as charged.”

Defense attorneys pointed to reasonable doubt. “The question is not ‘do you think he did it?,” attorney Micheal Peacock said. “The question is, did the state of Florida prove that he did it?”

On Tuesday, the defendant’s father took the stand. Richard McTear Sr. told the jury his son never wanted to hurt baby Emanuel. Instead, he pointed at the baby’s mother, Jasmine Bedwell. McTear Sr. said he saw text messages between his son and Bedwell that worried him.

Peacock argued there’s no solid evidence linking McTear to the crime.

“Is it sad there’s a dead baby? Yes. What’s more sad is that we don’t know how it happened,” he said.

McTear could face the death penalty if convicted.

Source:  Erin Maloney, Reporter Bay News 9

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Laurence Lovette found not guilty on all charges in 2008 murder of Duke grad student

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DURHAM, N.C. — A jury in Durham has found Laurence Lovette Jr. not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato.

Mahato, 29, was found shot in the head inside his apartment more than six years ago.

The verdict was reached Wednesday morning after the jury deliberated for nearly eight hours.

Prosecutors say Lovette, 23, took Mahato to ATMs to withdraw money from his bank account before taking him back to his home and shooting him between the eyes with a 9mm pistol.

Defense attorneys argued there was no solid evidence linking Lovette to the crime and that the testimony of one woman was not a credible witness.

Lovette was also found not guilty of robbery with a firearm.

Even though Lovette was acquitted of Mahato’s death, he’s still serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the March 5, 2008, robbery and murder of Eve Carson.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior was shot five times on the morning of March 5, 2008, after she was kidnapped and taken to several ATMs to withdraw money.

Source: Andrea Cavallier Fox 8

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Trial remains on schedule for Davis teen accused of murder

More than a year after his arrest, a Davis teen accused of a double homicide listened as attorneys discussed his upcoming August trial date Wednesday morning.

Daniel Marsh, 17, is accused of torturing and mutilating Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87, and his wife, Claudia Maupin, 76, inside their Davis condominium in April 2013. He changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity on June 2.

In light of this new plea, the trial date was continued to allow for a psychological evaluation of the teen by two medical professionals. Yolo County Superior Court Judge David Reed postponed the trial to 9 a.m. on Aug. 25 in Department 6.

At Wednesday’s status conference, Reed discussed the psychological evaluations with counsel. He said one of the reports has been completed, but they are still awaiting the second.

“Hopefully, we will have that before the Aug. 18 trial readiness conference,” he said. He also scheduled another status conference at 9 a.m. on Aug. 8 in the same department.

Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral raised the issue of discovery, stating the prosecution have not received discovery from the defense regarding one of their expert witnesses.

“I find it hard to believe that there are no statements from this expert,” Cabral said. “We have not received any discovery.”

Ron Johnson, Marsh’s attorney, said he would get Cabral the discovery as soon as possible.

“Both sides have a responsibility to provide discovery,” Reed said. “I believe everyone is aware of that.”

Surrounded by four bailiffs, Marsh sat quietly in the jury box, glancing at his family in the audience as discussions continued.

Johnson noted that Marsh’s sister, Sara Marsh, wanted more visits with her brother.

Sara, who was present in the courtroom, told Reed she has only had two visits with Marsh since his arrest.

“I am requesting the ability to see my brother like my parents do,” she said.

Reed granted this request, authorizing her to have one visit with her brother before his next court date.

Marsh is charged with two counts of first degree murder with enhancements for using a “deadly or dangerous weapon,” in this case a knife. There are also additional enhancements noting special circumstances for committing multiple murders, stating that Marsh “intentionally killed more than one victim.” Enhancements for lying in wait and torture were also outlined in court documents. He faces 25-year prison terms for each murder count.

At the teen’s preliminary hearing in September, details of Marsh’s statements to officers came to light. The teenager allegedly confessed to stabbing each victim dozens of times and mutilating the bodies, telling investigators that “it just felt right.”

Maupin had 67 stab wounds, while Northup had 61, according to Yolo County Chief Deputy Coroner Gina Moya.

The murder took place April 13, 2013. Marsh was arrested on June 17, 2013 in Davis. Though Marsh was 15 at the time, he is being tried as an adult.

Source: Sarah Dowling The Daily Democrat

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Ohio man gets life for killing mother and living six months with body

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CLEVELAND- An Ohio man convicted of stabbing his mother and living with her corpse for six months was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Michael Petrie, 33, of Barberton, a suburb of Akron, was found guilty of murder and abuse of a corpse after a short trial in June.

Prosecutors said Petrie killed his 67-year-old mother in October 2012 by stabbing her in the face, neck and heart with a sai, a traditional Asian martial arts weapon.

Petrie continued to live with his mother in her home until April 2013 when police found her body.

Petrie, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia as a child, initially entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, according to a statement from Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh.

Summit County Judge Thomas Teodosio ordered a psychological evaluation late last year but the jury found Petrie legally sane at the time of the crime.

Petrie declined to say anything before Teodosio sentenced him.

Source: Kim Palmer of Reuters

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Prosecution rests in fatal Michigan porch shooting case

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DETROIT – Prosecutors rested on Wednesday after presenting evidence they said proved a white suburban Detroit home owner charged with second degree murder acted with malice and forethought when he shot a black teenager dead on his porch.

Theodore Wafer, 55, has been charged with second degree murder for firing a fatal shotgun blast at Renisha McBride, 19, at his Dearborn Heights home after she knocked on the door seeking help one morning last November. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Wafer told police after the shooting that he believed McBride was breaking into his home and his shotgun went off accidentally, blasting through his screen door.

Wayne County Assistant Medical Examiner Kilak Kesha, who conducted an autopsy on McBride, told a court that she was shot at a range of less than 3 feet (1 meter).

McBride, who was in a car crash before knocking on Wafer’s door, had a blood-alcohol content at the time of her death of 0.22, more than three times the state’s legal limit for driving, Kesha said.

Kesha surmised she could have been “staggering, slurring speech, disoriented and confused,” adding there were traces of marijuana in her system.

Testimony began last week in the racially charged case, which has sparked protests in Dearborn Heights and comparisons to the 2012 shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

McBride’s mother, Monica McBride, also briefly took the stand to testify about a $100 bill found on her daughter’s body.

Police officer officers were heard on an audio recording played in court discussing the cash, saying McBride could have been a prostitute. Monica McBride said in court on Wednesday that she gave her daughter the money after visiting her bank.

Defense attorneys also raised questions of police detectives asking why they did not investigate what might have been a footprint found on top of an air conditioning unit outside Wafer’s house.

Closing arguments are likely to be delivered on Monday, court sources said.

Source: Aaron Foley  Reuters

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Dalia Dippolito wins new trial as court tosses murder-for-hire conviction

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Dalia Dippolito — the Boynton Beach newlywed convicted in a murder-for-hire plot targeting her now ex-husband — deserves a new trial, the 4th District Court of Appeal said Wednesday.

The decision overturns Dippolito’s 2011 conviction and 20-year prison sentence in a case that attracted worldwide attention. The 31-year-old, called “The Murderous Madam” by the former lead prosecutor, has been on house arrest on $500,000 bail.

A jury found her guilty of paying an undercover cop, posing as a hit man, $3,000 to kill then-spouse Michael Dippolito. A video of police officers approaching Dippolito at a staged murder scene in 2009 went viral and was played at her trial.

But the appellate court said Dippolito was denied a fair trial because Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath improperly denied her lawyers’ request to individually question prospective jurors about their awareness of the high-profile case.

The court’s opinion states those private interviews “should have been conducted once it became apparent that a multitude of prospective jurors had been exposed to pretrial publicity.”

Source: Marc Freeman Sun Sentinel

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Man accused of trying to smother father could face new charges

CLEVELAND- A 58-year-old man arrested this week on suspicion of trying to smother his terminally ill father at a nursing home after getting drunk could face fresh charges pending the outcome of an autopsy, a county prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday.

Steven Curtis was arrested on Monday after police in the Cleveland suburb of Brecksville said he placed his hands over the mouth and nose of his father, Roy Curtis, 86, at The Oaks of Brecksville Nursing Home. The father died a few hours after the incident.

Curtis, who was released on bond after a hearing, has been charged with attempted murder, assault, misdemeanor menacing and disorderly conduct. Cuyahoga County prosecutors did not give details on what additional charges he may face.

There was no attorney listed for Curtis, who is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on the father on Tuesday, and the results were pending.

Source: Kim Palmer of Associated Press

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