The Trial Diaries

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18 seated for jury in Aaron Hernandez trial


FALL RIVER — Thirteen women and five men were selected on Monday to serve as jurors in the Bristol County murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriot tight end who is accused of orchestrating the murder of Odin L. Lloyd in 2013.

Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh said she will swear in the jurors on Thursday, weather permitting, unless she finds cause to dismiss any of them. Opening statements would begin after jurors take their oath.

Before sending jurors home on Monday, Garsh instructed them to avoid any media coverage of the case, and to avoid discussing it with anyone. Each morning before the trial begins, Garsh said, she will ask jurors if they have complied.

“Do your absolute best to avoid anything at all” about the case outside the courtroom, Garsh said, adding that the trial could last from six to 10 weeks.

The 18 jurors were culled from a pool of more than 50 people during a court session Monday morning. During preemptory challenges, Hernandez’s lawyers knocked out 17 potential jurors, while prosecutors found problems with 13. Lawyers did not have to give reasons for striking jurors from the pool.

Six of the 18 jurors will be designated as alternates after testimony ends in the trial and once deliberations begin.

After the jury was selected Monday, Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward, wiped her eyes as she sat with other relatives. Hernandez’s family was not present in court.

Hernandez, 25, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and weapons charges in the June 2013 slaying of Lloyd, 27, of Dorchester, who was shot several times in an industrial park near the athlete’s North Attleborough home.

Hernandez’s alleged accomplices, Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, are also facing murder charges and have pleaded not guilty. They will be tried separately.

Shayanna Jenkins, Hernandez’s fiancee, faces a perjury indictment in connection with the case. She has also pleaded not guilty, but prosecutors have petitioned Garsh to grant Jenkins immunity, raising the possibility that she may testify for the government at Hernandez’s trial. Garsh has not yet ruled on the immunity request, according to court records.

Hernandez also faces two counts of first-degree murder in Suffolk County in the slaying of two men in Boston’s South End in 2012. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in that case; the trial is scheduled to begin later this year.

Separately Monday, prosecutors filed a sealed motion to bar the testimony of Dr. David J. Greenblatt, whom the defense wants to call to testify about the effects of PCP use on the brain.

Prosecutors have argued previously that there is no evidence that any defendant in the case used PCP on the date of Lloyd’s murder.

Source: Travis Andersen


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Juror questioning to resume in Boston Marathon bombing trial


BOSTON — Jury selection is set to resume Monday in the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR’ tsahr-NEYE’-ehv).

Judge George O’Toole Jr. questioned about 80 people over six days. He has not revealed how many of them have been dismissed, but many prospective jurors said they could not be impartial because they already believe Tsarnaev is guilty. Others said they could not impose the death penalty. Still others said they haven’t formed an opinion about Tsarnaev and could consider both life in prison or the death penalty.

The 21-year-old Tsarnaev is charged with 30 federal crimes, including 17 crimes that carry the possibility of the death penalty. He has pleaded not guilty.

Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured in the 2013 bombing.

Source: AP


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A Manhattan made-for-TV murder


As Wall Street investor Thomas Gilbert Sr. stood under the giant elm trees shading Princeton University’s stately Nassau Hall on a sunny June Commencement Day in 2009, he saw a gleaming future for his son, Thomas Jr.

“He’s going to run a hedge fund!” the senior Gilbert, also a Princeton alumnus, declared with pride when asked what the handsome, 6-foot-3, blond-haired Tommy planned to do with his economics degree.

Things turned out very differently for both Tommy and his father.

Tommy, now 30, never held down a job after graduating and lived off his parents’ handouts. And on January 4 he was arrested on suspicion of shooting his 70-year-old father in the head inside his parents’ eighth-floor Manhattan apartment.

Tabloids and TV news were riveted by the drama of the wealthy scion who, according to an indictment, killed his father on a Sunday afternoon with a .40-caliber Glock pistol after asking his mother, Shelley, to run out and fetch him a sandwich.

When she returned to her tony Beekman Place apartment shortly after 3:15 p.m., Tommy was gone and her husband was dead in the bedroom, the Glock not so artfully placed on his chest, as if to suggest this was a suicide. She called 911 and reported that she thought Tommy had murdered his father, court papers show.

When cops descended on Tommy’s shabby, one-bedroom apartment in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood around 11 o’clock that night, after tracking him down by pinging his iPhone and ordering him to return to his apartment, they found ammunition for a .40 Glock, a Glock manual and carrying case, a speedloader, a red dot site for a handgun, 21 blank credit cards and a “skimmer” device used to steal credit card numbers. Arrested on the spot, Tommy was indicted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office a few days later.

The details of the Tommy Gilbert case have captured the imagination of a certain portion of society in Manhattan and the Hamptons. After all, if money, good looks, an Ivy League education and an entrée to Wall Street aren’t sufficient ingredients for happiness and success, what is?

“People are calling him a monster, but the person I knew wasn’t a monster,” a former Princeton classmate tells Newsweek. “He was a human and a likable one.”

Marc Agnifilo, a lawyer for Tommy, declined to comment.

With his J. Crew looks (and a closet full of J. Crew clothes, according to a former girlfriend, Anna Rothschild), Tommy seemed like a classic New York WASP. He enjoyed the best education, starting with Manhattan’s elite Buckley School and the Deerfield Academy boarding school in Massachusetts. The family belonged to the obsessively exclusive Maidstone Club in fashionable East Hampton, New York, close to where his father and mother own a house worth more than $10 million in the elite Georgica Association enclave. Nearly every weekend, even in winter, Tommy surfed the notoriously rough waves off Montauk, and he went to NASA space camp as a child, a former Princeton classmate said. “I remember him saying once after graduation, ‘I always wanted to work there,’” the classmate said.

Shelley, a former debutante and the daughter of an AT&T executive, attended the all-female Ethel Walker boarding school, in Simsbury, Connecticut, and the all-female Hollins College in Virginia, two institutions known to draw proper, well-heeled young women. She worked briefly at a New York investment bank that later became known as Rothschild Inc. Shelley’s society wedding in 1981 to Thomas Sr., at St. Bartholomew’s church on Park Avenue, a Byzantine-Romanesque structure in which Vanderbilts worshipped, was followed three years later by Tommy’s birth.

Thomas Gilbert, Jr. is walked into Central Booking at Manhattan Criminal Court on Jan. 5, 2015. Gilbert is charged with murdering his father, hedge fund owner Thomas Gilbert, Sr. Jefferson Siegel/NY Daily News/Getty As blogs bristled with barbs about a “spoiled brat” and “trust-fund baby,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce indicated at a press conference on January 5 that money was behind the ghastly crime. The senior Gilbert had been paying the $2,400-a-month rent on Tommy’s Chelsea apartment, and New York’s tabloids reported that Tommy was not happy with his father’s threat to cut his weekly allowance to $300 from $400—hardly a princely sum in Manhattan.

Tommy is “clearly a bright, troubled kid” who had a “difficult relationship with both parents,” says a person close to him who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He needs serious psychiatric long-term treatment.”

While no evidence has emerged of a diagnosed mental health problem, there were some disturbing signs. Last September 18, court records show, Tommy was charged by police in Southampton with violating a June 2014 protection order taken out by Peter Smith Jr., whose father rode the Hampton Jitney bus on weekends from Manhattan with Tommy’s father. Only three days earlier, in nearby Sagaponack, the Smith home, a 17th century historic mansion, burned to the ground in circumstances that are unclear. Lisa Costa, a detective with the Southampton police who is investigating the fire, says Gilbert is a “person of interest” in the blaze.

Tommy spent the five years since he left Princeton doing not much more than surfing, practicing Bikram yoga, working out, eating sushi and watching Netflix, according to Rothschild, who dated him in early 2014. Rothschild, a 49-year-old Manhattan socialite who runs a public-relations firm and is 19 years older than Tommy, encouraged him to attend black-tie gala events, where he would sip one glass of wine at most. Until he moved into the Chelsea apartment in May 2014, he lived in a dark, cramped basement studio apartment, also paid for by his father, near 86th Street and Lexington Avenue, where the Upper East Side starts to turn from pricey to gritty. “Tommy was quite well dressed and very clean, but that studio,” with ragged furniture and a television with no cable service, “was appalling,” says a person who saw it.

His signature trait, friends and former classmates told Newsweek, was his quietness. “Basically, he has no friends, his phone didn’t ring and nobody texted him,” says Rothschild. When Tommy told her he was interested in acting, she said she told him, “I don’t think that’s the best option for you, because you don’t talk a lot.” But last April she encouraged him to set up a session with a photographer to get professional modeling pictures.

Tommy apparently never talked, even to his former Princeton classmate, about why he had graduated two years later than expected, though court papers show he was busted for drugs on the eve of his original graduation date, in 2007. “He seemed kind of gentle but insecure,” that former classmate says. “He always seemed ambivalent. He was sweet, but he seemed abnormally calm. He wasn’t even anxious about his thesis.” The 64-page thesis, titled “The Word Effect: Effects of the Word Content in the Financial Times on Firms’ Earnings in the U.K.,” is lightweight by Princeton standards. Wei Xiong, the economics professor who was Tommy’s thesis adviser, says, “I honestly don’t remember this student.”

Despite his father’s bold prediction at that commencement, Tommy was skeptical of Wall Street. He saw it as “having way too much power and control,” the former classmate says. Others say that was a reflection of his attitude to his father, who was also a Harvard Business School graduate. “He would talk about how anything he attempted to do, it wasn’t good enough” for his father, Rothschild says. “He probably figured, What’s the point of having a job?”

Last May, Tommy did register a hedge fund, though it never raised any money, securities filings show. In an industry where fund names typically convey meaning, he called his the Mameluke Capital Fund. The Mamelukes were medieval slaves who rose up against their Egyptian rulers in 1250 and held on to power for nearly three centuries.

While wealthy in absolute terms, the Gilbert family was not superrich by New York standards. A will filed in Manhattan Surrogate Court shows Gilbert Sr.’s estate worth $1.627 million. Slayer laws would prevent Tommy from inheriting his one-third share if convicted. In a possible sign of a cash crunch, according to a former colleague of the father, the Gilberts listed their East Hampton home for sale last month for $11.5 million. (The listing was canceled after the murder.)

Thomas Gilbert Sr. “was driven by power, money and success,” the former colleague tells Newsweek—particularly in recent years, as he struggled to grow a small hedge fund, Wainscott Capital Management, that he started in 2011 after four decades in private equity. The older Gilbert would typically sleep only four to five hours a night and fire off emails at 4 a.m. that were “frenetic,” this person says.

Frenetic was the last word people would use to describe Tommy.

At the Main Beach Surf Shop in East Hampton, George “McSurfer” McKee remembers Tommy as someone who always took the path of least resistance, who was “a little below-average in turning and catching waves. He was kind of fooling around.” While he always had plenty of surfboards, he tended to avoid the tough-to-control short boards, preferring a longer, wider “fishtail” board. “He would always,” McKee says, “ride the easiest one to ride.”

Source: Jackie Bischof


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Tennessee investigative agency says it has finished evidence analysis in Holly Bobo case


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Authorities say they have completed their analysis of more than 460 pieces of evidence in the case of a woman whose partial remains were found three years after her disappearance, possibly bringing defense attorneys a step closer to seeing how prosecutors have linked their clients to her.

Two men, Zachary Adams and Jason Autry, were arrested last spring and charged with murder and kidnapping in the case of Holly Bobo, a nursing student who was 20 when she disappeared from her house in April 2011. In October, John Dylan Adams was charged with raping Bobo. All have pleaded not guilty.

No trial has been set and the defendants’ lawyers have filed a motion to dismiss the charges. The attorneys said they had not received any evidence linking their clients to the crime. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Josh DeVine said Thursday that some hair samples have been sent to the FBI for testing, but the TBI has analyzed all the evidence it has received.

Still, it was unclear when the defense would receive any information. District Attorney Matt Stowe told The Associated Press that they would get the evidence they’re requesting “at some point.”

At the time of Bobo’s disappearance, her brother told police he saw a man dressed in camouflage leading her into the woods near her home in Parsons, located about 110 miles east of Memphis. Last September, more than three years later, authorities said two men searching for ginseng found Bobo’s skull in a wooded area not far away.

Bobo’s disappearance and the subsequent lengthy search attracted national attention as authorities distributed posters with her photograph throughout the South.

Prosecutors have not said whether they plan to seek the death penalty. Hearings scheduled for this month have been postponed to an undetermined future date.

Jennifer Lynn Thompson, Adams’ attorney, says state prosecutors have not even told her who found Bobo’s remains or where they were found.

“I do not understand what is happening,” Thompson said. “I have never before been involved in a case where there is no information about why my client was charged.”

In the motion to dismiss, Thompson and Fletcher Long, Autry’s lawyer, asked the judge to force prosecutors to produce “all dental record analysis and forensic studies” performed on the skull.

Adams has been in jail since March and Autry has been in jail since April. At a court hearing Dec. 17, Decatur County Circuit Judge Creed McGinley expressed concern that prosecutors had not yet provided key evidence to defense attorneys. He ordered the state to begin turning it over by Dec. 24.

Thompson says the state missed that deadline.

Then, TBI Director Mark Gwyn — who has said the Bobo investigation has been the most exhaustive and expensive in agency history — announced he was suspending all work on the case after District Attorney Matt Stowe accused TBI agents of misconduct.

Stowe took office Sept. 1 after defeating District Attorney Hansel McCadams, who had indicted Adams and Autry.

The dispute was only resolved after Stowe stepped down from the case and Jennifer Nichols, a Shelby County attorney who was Stowe’s co-counsel on the case and who had worked with death-penalty cases, was appointed as a special prosecutor. She is the third prosecutor in the case, which Stowe said is unusual.

He said the fact that multiple prosecutors have been involved, plus the complex nature of the case, have contributed to the delays.

“We’re talking about terabytes and terabytes of information,” he said.

Attorney Steve Farese, who represents the Bobo family, said the recent developments in the case are “different” than in other cases, and he acknowledged that the family is concerned with how the case is going.

“But they understand that this is a tedious process and they want to make sure everyone has their t’s crossed and their i’s dotted and to get this thing done right,” Farese said.

Later, Farese added: “No one should lose focus that this is about justice.”

Source: AP FoxNews


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Richard Glossip, Death Row Inmate Set To Die Next Week: ‘I Think About Just Being Able To Hug My Family’


Richard Glossip wakes up each day knowing that at 6 p.m. on Jan. 29, he’s going to die.

The 51-year-old has been on death row ever since he was convicted of first-degree murder nearly 17 years ago on the testimony of a single witness. Glossip has maintained his innocence from the start, and now he’s hoping that a last-minute reprieve from Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) — or the White House — can spare him from becoming the 196th person to be put to death by the state of Oklahoma.

Justin Sneed, a young contract handyman who worked and lived at the Best Budget Inn that Glossip managed in Oklahoma City, confessed to beating motel owner Barry Van Treese to death with a baseball bat on Jan. 7, 1997. Prosecutors said Glossip feared losing his job and recruited Sneed to kill his boss. Sneed would later testify that Glossip promised him $10,000 to commit the crime. Both men were convicted of first-degree murder. In exchange for his testimony, Sneed received a life sentence without parole; Glossip received a death sentence.

A judge told Glossip that if he admitted his involvement in Van Treese’s death, he would be sentenced to life in prison and eligible for parole in 20 years. Glossip said he refused to perjure himself by admitting to something he didn’t do.

Last month, Glossip went on a hunger strike, which drew more attention to his case. He had already brought several anti-death-penalty advocates into his corner, including Sister Helen Prejean, the nun and clemency advocate behind the memoir Dead Man Walking. A petition calling for Fallin to spare Glossip’s life has garnered more than 11,000 signatures.

If Glossip is executed as planned, he’ll leave behind four children: Christina, 35; Erica, 32; Tori Lynn, 28; and Richard Jr., 26, as well as two grandchildren, ages 14 and 8. The Huffington Post spoke to him by phone earlier this week.

I laugh all the time. I know the guards done think I flipped, completely crazy, because I laugh at the TV all the time.

I love British comedies. Especially this one called “Last of the Summer Wine.” It’s these three guys, these old buddies who have been friends for years and years since school. And it’s about the things they enjoy, like climbing a hill and lying in the grass. They don’t need cars, homes, all that fancy stuff. They just need a cup of tea or to go lie on a hill somewhere.

And you watch that, it makes you realize you didn’t need all them things in life either. All you need to live is a simple life. A simple life will always be the best.

You just gotta make do with what you have. And I do. Anything funny that comes on, I’ll watch, and I’ll sit and laugh with it. It helps me get through every day, knowing something’s there to laugh at.

It doesn’t always have to be a serious thing every day that you get up. Just because you’re facing being executed, don’t mean you can’t laugh and try to live a life as best you can while you’re in your situation.

I’m proud to say a lot of people down here say I’ve made a difference in their lives, and it’s helped them to cope with this a lot better. You gotta spend the time you have no matter where you are, make the best out of the situation.

My last cellie, Wendell Grissom — he ended up seeing that you don’t have to live every day in this place miserable. That you don’t have to be mad at a guard because he does something to you that you didn’t like. It’s their job; you can’t be getting mad and kicking on the door and screaming at people just because they decided they didn’t like what you’re doing at the time.

Grissom had that problem at first. Even his pen pal in England wrote me and said, “I’ve never seen such a big change in a person.” She said his demeanor is so much better since he met me.

And that makes you feel good, knowing you could help change somebody. To make a difference. Letting it destroy your mind or taking whatever peace you have left is just crazy. You just can’t let that happen to you.

I didn’t realize I had that much strength to deal with this for so many years. People complain about the simple things in life that they don’t have. Like a new car or this or that. I get up every day facing this and I fight. It surprises me that I have it in me. I sure didn’t think I did.

I thought I’d have been a granddad many times over. I am a granddad, and I’m happy about that. But a lot is different now, that’s for sure. I just thought life would be totally different.

I have two grandkids that I’ve never seen except in pictures. It gives you something to look forward to. That if something should happen, and this should change, I would get to see these people and get to be part of their lives. They’d get to see me, who I am, and see that this place hasn’t changed me.

Every now and then I’ll lie back and think about that. I really do. I just think about amazing things that could happen if I were to be set free.

I think about just being able to hug my family. Being with them at mealtimes. And I miss working so bad, it’s unbelievable. I love to work. I’ve always loved to work.

That’s one of the things I miss most in life. Being able to get up and go to work each day, and bust my ass each day, as I always have. I know it sounds strange and simple.

My oldest daughter just got back into my life. We had written each other several times since I’ve been locked up, but as for phone conversations, we just started talking on the phone a little over a month ago. She was so excited to talk to her dad, since we haven’t seen each other for so long.

When your family starts getting back in your life and you see how much they loved you, even after all the years you’ve been separated from them, it helps keep you very, very strong. Especially over these last couple of weeks.

They showed up at my trial without my consent. I really didn’t want them there. I didn’t want them drug into this mess. That’s what it was. A mess.

I didn’t want them visiting me in prison, which made them very upset, for the most part. I didn’t want them seeing me through the glass and cuffs and shackles. I didn’t want them seeing their dad like that. I wanted them to remember me as I was.

My uncle was a preacher, so I had to grow up in the church. But I’ve never really been away from the church for long periods of time. I’ve always believed.

I think [being on death row] makes you a lot stronger in your beliefs. Or you better let it make you a lot stronger in your beliefs, that’s for sure. When you get down close to where I’m at now, it’s a comfort to know that you’ve made peace with everything. Especially God.

A lot of people ask if I hate [Sneed]. I don’t hate him. Hatred ain’t gonna do anything for you. I don’t know what people believe in the afterlife, or what’s going to happen. I don’t even know, to be honest with you 100 percent, what I believe. But I do believe that there is something after this life, and that I don’t want to be going through it hating everybody.

I don’t give up hope in any way, shape or form. Because until they lay you on that table and stick them needles in you and you’re completely dead, you always have hope. I’ll never let them take that away from me, no matter what.

I’m not afraid of dying. Everybody dies. It’s just a part of life: You’re born, you die, that’s it. But I do want people to know that I’m innocent.

Everybody’s skeptical when you first tell them you’re innocent. When you’re on death row and in prison, people come up and say, “I’m innocent; I didn’t do it.” But when you look into the case and start seeing for yourself, “Hey, something ain’t right here,” then it really kind of bugs some of these people that I’m not more angry than I am. That I’m taking this like I am. But I’d rather take it like this than be miserable every day up until that day.

A lot of reporters have asked me, “If you got out tomorrow, would you be bitter toward all of the things that have happened to you?” I told them, “No, I wouldn’t.” I’m not a bitter person now, and I don’t want to be a bitter person ever. Things happen. It’s unfortunate that they do. But all I can do now is fight.

My friends say, “You just can’t seem to catch a break.” Maybe now I’ll catch the break. Who knows. It’s not over till it’s over.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length. For more on HuffPost’s conversation with Glossip, listen to our podcast below:


Source: Kim Bellware Hufington Post


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First Hernandez murder trial could start Tuesday


With jury selection nearly complete, the first murder trial against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez could begin as soon as Tuesday, with opening statements.

Via the Associated Press, Judge E. Susan Garsh has cleared a pool of 53 potential jurors.  The judge individually questioned the jurors in search of potential bias, a hardship that would prevent them from serving on a lengthy trial, or any other valid reason to be excused.

The lawyers for the prosecution and for Hernandez will be permitted to eliminate 18 potential jurors each from the panel.  The goal will be to have 18 jurors (12 main jurors and six alternates) in place for Tuesday.

If my math is correct (and it rarely is), Judge Garsh will need to clear one more juror to allow 36 to be stricken by the parties.  With only 53, striking 36 would leave 17.

Hernandez is accused of killing Odin Lloyd in June 2013.  Hernandez faces two other murder charges from an incident in July 2012.

Source: Mike Florio NBC Sports


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Vanderbilt gang-rape defense points to campus culture


NASHVILLE, Tenn. Defense attorneys for the former Vanderbilt University football players whose own cellphones show they participated in a dorm-room sex assault have placed blame on the elite Southern university, saying their clients’ judgment was warped by a campus culture where drunken sex was common.

The graphic evidence and testimony presented in court is all the more shocking because it shows that several others were at least partly aware that an unconscious woman was being taken advantage of or had enough evidence to show that something had happened to her, and did nothing to help her or report it.

That bystanders’ failure to act falls well short of the university culture Vanderbilt officials say they were trying to create on campus long before the morning of June 23, 2013.

It also hints at the enormity of the challenge facing colleges nationwide as they try to establish campuses where students are safe, everyone understands the rules, and entire communities work together to make sure such crimes don’t happen.

”I think we need to think about the range of bystanders who could have intervened before they got into that dorm room,” said Jane Stapleton, a professor at the University of New Hampshire and an expert on intervention programs. And by not calling for help when the woman was seen lying unconscious and naked in a hallway afterward, the other athletes made such behavior seem normal, she said.

The U.S. Department of Education issued its most specific guidance yet for how schools should handle sex assault complaints in 2011, and colleges including Vanderbilt updated their policies. Meanwhile, college women increasingly took matters into their own hands, networking with each other and supporting a national campaign to file Title IX complaints claiming their schools were mishandling cases. After these gang rape charges were filed in 2013, Vanderbilt became one of dozens of universities subject to more intense investigation.

Sarah O’Brien, who spearheaded the Title IX complaint against Vanderbilt, said she’s not at all surprised at the testimony showing how many people failed to help. Many at Vanderbilt and elsewhere tend to look the other way, she said.

The first to be tried are former wide receiver Cory Batey and star recruit Brandon Vandenburg, whose dorm room became the scene of the alleged crimes. Also charged with aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery are Brandon Banks, who played defensive back, and Jaborian McKenzie, a former receiver for the Commodores. All have pleaded not guilty.

Banks and McKenzie will be tried later, and were not provided with plea agreements in exchange for their cooperation, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Worrick Robinson sought on Friday to prove a point he made as the trial opened: that Batey had been a promising young player before he ”walked into a culture that changed the rest of his life.”

”Is there anything in their culture that might influence the way they act or the way they think or the way they make decisions?” Robinson asked his expert James Walker, a neuropsychologist who said Batey claimed to have had between 14 and 22 drinks that night.

”Yes, at that age peer pressure is critical,” Walker responded, ”because you’re just going out on your own, you’re not fully an adult, you’re not fully a child. … You tend to take on the behavior of people around you.”

Prosecutors objected, and Walker ultimately acknowledged that he had done no scholarly work on Vanderbilt’s campus culture.

But even prosecutors presented testimony and evidence showing that many people failed to intervene. Batey’s defense, in particular, has suggested that drunken sex was commonplace because nobody apparently called for help when Vandenburg was seen carrying the unconscious student into the dorm.

Cameras showed a crowd gathered around as Vandenburg pulled up to the dorm in a vehicle with his unconscious date. At least five students later became aware of the unconscious woman in obvious distress, but did nothing to report it. Rumors quickly spread around campus, and still no one apparently reported it.

The assault might have gone unnoticed and uncorroborated had the university not stumbled onto the closed-circuit TV images several days later in an unrelated attempt to learn who damaged a dormitory door. They were shocked to see players carrying an unconscious woman into an elevator and down a hallway, taking compromising pictures of her and then dragging her into the room.

Prompted by the video, school authorities contacted police, who found a digital trail showing one of the players sent videos about what they were doing as it was happening.

The woman – a neuroscience student who had been dating Vandenburg before the alleged rape and returned to Nashville to testify – cried softly and the jurors stared wide-eyed as a detective narrated the videos Vandenburg shared and described the pictures taken on their cellphones.

She testified that she woke up in Vandenburg’s dorm room bed the next morning with her clothes on, and still has no memory of anything that happened after Vandenburg passed her drinks the night before, some of which were purchased for the players by a team booster.

Dillon van der Wal, who just completed football season playing tight end at Vanderbilt, testified that he didn’t tell anyone despite knowing the woman socially and seeing her unconscious in the hallway, with red hand marks on her buttocks.

”You thought well of her, you cared for her welfare,” defense attorney Fletcher Long said. ”When you encountered her in the condition you found her with the marks you testified to, you called the police?”

”I did not,” van der Wal, replied.

Vanderbilt officials say school rules go beyond federal requirements on sexual violence responses. The student handbook clearly lists resources available to victims and encourages anyone who witnesses possible sexual misconduct to take action and report it to law enforcement. However, university spokeswoman Princine Lewis said Friday that rulebook is ”meant to encourage reporting. It does not require it.”

Closing arguments are expected on Monday.



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Cop: Man whose yard had bodies laughed when told of search


WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — A police investigator says a Pennsylvania man initially laughed when told that authorities planned to search his property for bodies, then became nervous and repeatedly glanced at the area where police later found two corpses.

State police Lt. Richard L. Krawetz testified Wednesday at the trial of Hugo Selenski, who’s charged with strangling a pharmacist and the pharmacist’s girlfriend in 2002.

Krawetz, the trial’s first witness, says Selenski denied that any bodies were buried in the yard and even offered to help dig.

Selenski has pleaded not guilty to killing Michael Kerkowski and Tammy Fassett. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Authorities found at least five sets of human remains in Selenski’s yard in 2003. Selenski was acquitted in 2006 of killing two other people but convicted of abusing their corpses.

Source: Michael Rubinkam AP



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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial start date pushed back

Boston Marathon Bombing

The terrorism trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will not be getting underway next week — and a new start date is impossible to set as jury selection drags on, federal court officials announced this morning.

With jury selection headed into its eighth day this morning, Ginny Hurley, outreach coordinator for U.S. District Court in South Boston, said Judge George A. O’Toole Jr.’s target date of Monday for opening statements “is not realistic.”

Hurley went on to say in a brief statement, “It is not possible yet to specifically target a new start date.”

She said jury selection is progressing, “but in the interest of thoroughness is taking longer than originally anticipated.”

Source: Laurel J. Sweet / Boston Herald


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Las Vegas strip killings suspect sentenced for bribing prison guard


A Nevada man serving time for rape and awaiting trial in a deadly shooting and fiery crash on the Las Vegas Strip was sentenced on Wednesday to as much as five additional years behind bars for a prison bribery scheme, officials said.

Ammar Asim Faruq Harris, imprisoned on a 2013 conviction for rape and robbery and charged with murder in the deaths of three people in the heart of Las Vegas the same year, pleaded guilty in October to bribery of a public officer.

At a court hearing Wednesday, a judge ordered that his existing prison sentence for rape be extended by two to five years for bribery, a spokeswoman for the Nevada attorney general said.

Law enforcement officials found a cell phone and other contraband in Harris’ High Desert State Prison cell in 2014, items he obtained through payments to a guard, according to court documents.

A total of seven people were charged in the smuggling scheme, including another inmate and the prison officer, the attorney general’s office said.

Harris is slated to go on trial in July and could face the death penalty if convicted in connection with a February 2013 triple homicide that authorities say stemmed from a road rage incident in Las Vegas.

He is accused of opening fire from his Range Rover SUV on an aspiring rapper as the victim was driving his Maserati on the Strip. The Italian sports car then veered into a taxicab, which crashed and burst into flames, police said. The rapper, cab driver and taxi passenger were all killed.

Authorities said Harris and the shooting victim, Kenneth Wayne Cherry, 27, had argued in the valet area of the Aria Resort and Casino a few blocks away a short time before the shooting. Harris has pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder and several other charges in the case.

The incident unfolded less than a mile from where rapper Tupac Shakur was fatally shot in September 1996 while riding in a BMW with Death Row Records co-founder Marion “Suge” Knight.

Source: Victoria Cavaliere