The Trial Diaries

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U.S. Polo Mogul John Goodman Blames Faulty Brakes for Fatal Crash


Polo mogul John Goodman took the stand in his own defense Wednesday, blaming faulty brakes — and not alcohol — for a fatal 2010 crash.

Goodman, the owner of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, insisted that the brakes on his $200,000 Bentley weren’t working properly, causing the car to slam into a Hyundai driven by Scott Wilson, 23. The crash sent the Hyundai into a canal, where Wilson drowned.

“I went to grab my gear shift, and that’s the last thing I remember,” Goodman said.

Goodman testified that he was on his way to the fast-food restaurant Wendy’s to buy a Frosty frozen dessert when the accident happened.

“The first thing I remember after that was, I was seeing white everywhere,” Goodman said.

“Stars?” his attorney asked.

“Yes, and not really knowing where I was.”

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Prosecutors have claimed that Goodman was drunk at the time of the accident after working up a $272 tab partying at The Players Club in Wellington, Florida, later registering a blood-alcohol level of 0.177, more than twice the legal limit to drive.

Goodman admitted ordering 18 drinks at the club — but he said he only had three of those drinks.

The rest were for others, he said.

He also claimed he didn’t get drunk until after the crash, when he left the scene and stumbled upon a friend’s home, where, he said, he drank heavily.

“I drank it out of the bottle,” he said.

Goodman’s defense also called Dr. David Delonga, a medical specialist, to testify that Goodman was disoriented — not because of the amount he had to drink, but because the crash likely gave him a concussion.

“That would have been consistent in the range of a mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, to put it in layman’s terms,” Delonga told the court.

This is the second trial for the multimillionaire, who was convicted in 2012 for Wilson’s death and sentenced to 16 years behind bars. But that verdict was thrown out because of juror misconduct.

Goodman has pleaded not guilty.

Source: ABC NEWS via Good Morning America


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Bashara’s children testify about mother’s death, parents’ marriage


Bob Bashara stood outside his Grosse Pointe Park home after his wife’s killing and thanked those who had shown their “love and respect for my Jane.”

With his son, Robert Bashara, and his mother nearby, Bashara pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his eyes while he addressed the media on Feb. 1, 2012.

“You were standing right next to him there. Did you see him cry?” Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran asked Bob Bashara’s son on Thursday.

“No,” Robert Bashara replied.

Bashara’s son and daughter, ages 26 and 22 respectively, testified during their father’s trial in Wayne County Circuit Court. Bashara is facing charges, including first-degree murder, in Jane Bashara’s death. Her children told jurors about their parents’ relationship, finances and what their father had told them.

Blog recap: Bob Bashara trial

“My father only gave more information in response to me finding out new information,” Jessica Bashara testified. “Whether it was relating to pornography, whether it was relating to him having affairs.”

Bob Bashara initially denied cheating on his wife, his children both testified. They later learned the truth.

When Bashara was in jail in 2012, he spoke to his son by phone and denied that he had harmed Jane Bashara, but admitted he had a relationship with Rachel Gillett, according to a recorded call played in court.

Jessica Bashara referred to Gillett as her father’s “girlfriend” while testifying about ring that was a family heirloom belonging to her mother.

“I found out that my father had given it to Rachel Gillett,” she testified.

Bob Bashara told his daughter that he kept the ring in a drawer for a year and nobody asked about it, so he figured it wouldn’t be missed and gave it to Gillett, Jessica Bashara said.

Prosecutors have said Bob Bashara’s relationship with Gillett, his longtime mistress, who participated in BDSM – bondage, discipline, sadomasochism – with him, was the motive for Jane Bashara’s death.

Prosecutors contend Bashara had plans for a new life with Gillett and directed his former handyman, Joseph Gentz, to kill his wife. Bashara has repeatedly denied that he had any involvement in his wife’s death.

Both of his children said their father had never mentioned Gentz until after the death of their mother, who was strangled and found on Jan. 25, 2012 in the back of her luxury SUV, which had been dumped in Detroit.

“He didn’t give an explanation of Joseph Gentz until the media had brought out the name,” Jessica Bashara said, speaking in a calm, clear, composed voice throughout her testimony.

She said her father, who called himself a good judge of character, said Gentz needed work and a place to live and he wanted to help him.

Later, her father called Gentz “crazy and sick” and said he killed her mother, Jessica Bashara testified.

She testified that her father told her he “feels guilty every night for being such a terrible judge of character and letting him into our lives.”

Bob Bashara told his son he owed Gentz money for handyman work and Gentz was upset about it, Robert Bashara said.

When his son took the stand, Bob Bashara wiped his eyes with a tissue.

Robert Bashara testified his mother had two life insurance policies: one for $90,000 that was paid to him and another one that has not been paid to anyone.

He said he distributed the money: $15,000 to himself, $20,000 to his sister and, at his father’s request, $55,000 to his grandmother.

Nobody has received the money in his mother’s 401(k), which had $794,535.10 in it at the end of 2011.

Both Jessica and Robert Bashara testified their parents had been to marriage counseling.

Jane Bashara told her daughter she wanted to work on the marriage, but also said that if she and her husband divorced, she hoped to take her 401(k), make a clean break and get her name off his rental properties, Jessica Bashara testified.

Her mom was scared that her 401(k) would be taken because of the debts on the rental properties, she testified.

Beyond finances and marital troubles, Bashara’s children were also asked about their father’s extramarital affairs.

Prior to her mother’s death, Jessica Bashara had seen her father on, a BDSM website.

“I was very upset by it and voiced my concern to my mother,” she testified. “And she was upset that I was upset.”

When she asked her father about it, she testified he told her he was on pornographic websites because he had been experiencing erectile dysfunction and wanted to know if the problem was with him or her mother.

Jessica Bashara avoided looking at her father during most of her testimony, but appeared to look at him when the the prosecution played a clip of a TV interview Bob Bashara gave. In it, he said he loves his children and wouldn’t do anything to hurt them.

Testimony before Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans continues Monday morning.

Source: Elisha Anderson and Gina Damron, Free Press Staff Writers


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Covington to represent himself, may plead guilty in ‘Mother’s Day Massacre’ trial


TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – Emotional testimony, a dramatic 911 call, and an angry outburst from the defendant started the first day of testimony in the “Mother’s Day Massacre” murder trial of Edward Covington. And now, in a shocking twist, the judge has allowed Covington to fire his legal team, represent himself, and possibly change his plea to guilty.

Covington says he wants to plead guilty, not able to go through trial because he’s devastated and in as much pain at the victim’s family. “Ultimately I am responsible for this,” he tells the judge. “My guilty plea is the only thing to do. It’s the right thing to do.”

Covington asked for the jury to be dismissed, to not waste any more time, and for the judge to decide his sentence.

The judge said the only other time he was in this situation, he gave the death sentence. Covington said he feels the death sentence is warranted in this case. “In all honesty, I expect death,” he told the judge, expressing sorrow for the victim’s family. “This family doesn’t need to be put through any more. Six years is long enough. Let’s get this done and over with.”

The jury will come back Monday after Covington undergoes a competency evaluation. Covington said he was on a number of medications but is alert and understands what is going on.

The brutal murders are considered some of the most horrific crimes in Hillsborough County history. Covington admitted to killing his girlfriend, Lisa Freiberg, her two kids, 7-year-old Zachary and 2-year-old Savannah, and the family dog on Mother’s Day in 2008.

The day started during emotional testimony from Lisa’s mother, Barbara Freiberg, when Covington became noticeably agitated in court. He could be heard saying obscenities about the witness. Then, as his attorneys tried to calm him down, Covington said “I’m done.”

Judge William Fuente asked the jurors to leave the courtroom. The defense motioned for a mistrial, which the judge denied.

In the rare circumstance, Covington then told the judge he has “fired” his legal team, wants to represent himself, and change his plea to guilty. Covington claimed his lawyers are letting the witness lie on the stand.

He spoke at length to the judge about his relationship with Lisa, admitted to being at the crime scene and committing the murders. Covington said he wanted the jurors dismissed and to plead guilty.

The bodies were discovered on May 12, 2008 by Lisa’s mother and father in a single-wide mobile home Lisa was sharing at the time with Covington.

Her mother, Barbara Freiberg, tearfully testified on Thursday about going to the home when she became concerned after the children’s babysitter called saying the children had not arrived at her home that morning.

Freiberg cried as she told the jury how she used her key to open the door at the home when Lisa did not respond to her persistent knocking. She broke down in sobs as she recalled having to push the door open because Zachary’s body was in the way.

Freiberg told the jury Zachary didn’t have any clothes on. His body had been mutilated and dismembered.

Jurors also heard the emotional call Barbara Freiberg made to a 911 operator; her words barely understandable as she cries and screams after finding the bodies.
Detectives found Covington that day in his underwear, with blood on his hands, hiding in a closet covered in clothing and stuffed animals.

His attorney says mental illness drove him to commit the unthinkable act. “At this time of crime, Mr. Covington was insane, very, very insane. There was blood literally in every room, the walls, on the floors, the furniture,” said Michael Peacock.

Peacock added, “This is not a whodunit. We know who did this. Mr. Covington is bi-polar and suffers from mental illness.”

Covington could get the death penalty if convicted.

Source: Jeff Patterson WFLA


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Jurors hear doctor’s dying wife on 911 recording


PITTSBURGH — Jurors heard from prosecution and defense attorneys — and then from the dying woman herself — at the start of a homicide trial for a University of Pittsburgh researcher charged with poisoning his wife.

The prosecution says 41-year-old Dr. Autumn Klein can be heard “gasping and groaning and moaning and dying” on the 911 call by her husband, Dr. Robert Ferrante.

Attorneys for the 66-year-old researcher contend that Ferrante did not poison his wife, a neurologist. He also says medical experts will show she wasn’t poisoned by anyone and died of unexplained causes.

The jury heard the frantic — and at times ghastly — 911 call from the first witness, an emergency dispatcher.

Prosecutors want a first-degree murder conviction, punishable by life in prison.

Source: JOE MANDAK, Associated Press


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DA; No objection to delaying James Holmes trial in Aurora movie theater shooting to January


ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. – Prosecutors in the Aurora movie theater shooting trial say they do not object to delaying the start of the case, but only for a few weeks, according to documents filed with the court this week.

Defense attorneys for James Holmes first asked for the delay Tuesday saying they needed more time to review a doctor’s sanity evaluation that included 22 hours of interviews.

The trial is currently set to begin on Dec. 8.

Please Click Link Below To Read The Rest Of The Article……


Source: Deb Stanley, Team

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Mom accused of killing 6 babies appears in court


SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah judge will get his first chance in December to hear the evidence against a woman accused of killing six of her seven newborns and storing all of their bodies in her garage.

Attorneys for Megan Huntsman, 39, decided Monday not to waive their right to a preliminary hearing. That proceeding has been set for Dec. 11. At the conclusion of the hearing, a judge will decide if there is sufficient proof to send the case to trial.

Huntsman is in jail on $6 million bail, charged with six counts of first-degree murder. She has not yet entered a plea. She made a brief appearance in court Monday, but didn’t speak.

Huntsman’s estranged husband discovered the infants’ bodies on April 12 while cleaning out the home they had shared in Pleasant Grove, Utah, a city of about 35,000 south of Salt Lake City.

Police say Huntsman strangled or suffocated the infants from 1996 to 2006, and that a seventh baby found in her garage was stillborn. Investigators believe Huntsman was addicted to methamphetamine and didn’t want to care for the babies.

DNA results have revealed that all seven babies were full term and that her now-estranged husband, Darren West, was the biological father of the infants.

Huntsman lived with West during the 10-year period the children were killed, but he is not considered a suspect in the deaths. He went to prison in 2006 and spent more than eight years behind bars after pleading guilty to drug charges.

West made the grisly discovery while cleaning out the garage. He called police to report finding a dead infant in a small white box covered with electrician’s tape. Six other bodies were found wrapped in shirts or towels inside individual boxes in the garage after police obtained a search warrant.

Source: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool/ BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press


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Oscar Pistorius to finally learn his sentence


STELLENBOSCH, South Africa (AP) Oscar Pistorius will finally learn his fate Tuesday when a judge is expected to announce the Olympic runner’s sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius could be sentenced to years in prison, or he could be given a suspended sentence and a fine and receive no jail time for shooting Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home.

More than seven months after Pistorius’ trial started, Judge Thokozile Masipa will announce what punishment she has decided on after finding him guilty of culpable homicide, which is comparable to manslaughter, but acquitting him of murder.

Prosecutors have demanded at least 10 years in prison for the double-amputee athlete. His defense lawyers have suggested that three years of correctional supervision, with periods of house arrest and community service, would be appropriate.

Pistorius testified during his murder trial that he mistook Steenkamp for a dangerous nighttime intruder about to come out of the cubicle and attack him when he shot four times through the door with his 9 mm pistol. Judge Masipa last month ruled that Pistorius did not intend to kill Steenkamp, but he acted negligently and with excessive force in the Valentine’s Day 2013 killing.

He was also convicted of unlawfully firing a gun in a restaurant weeks before Steenkamp’s death. That normally carries a fine for a first offense, but has a maximum of five years in prison.

Masipa has a wide range of options available to her at the climax of the trial because there is no minimum sentence for culpable homicide.

Pistorius, 27, could serve no jail time, and possibly consider returning to the career that made him one of the world’s most recognizable runners on his carbon-fiber running blades, and the first amputee to compete on the track at the Olympics in 2012. He could be placed under house arrest, or he could be sent to prison for up to 15 years, almost certainly ending his running days.

Pistorius’ brother and sister, Carl and Aimee, gave interviews to a South African television station on the eve of the sentencing, describing what they said was a difficult and emotional time in the more than a year-and-a-half since their brother killed Steenkamp.

”It has been a long journey to this point,” Aimee Pistorius told eNCA. ”A very taxing one. It is difficult to support someone through something like this – all the guilt and ridicule and obviously the exposure that has come with it.”

Carl Pistorius said: ”Tomorrow will be very difficult. This is a weight we all have to carry.”

During his sentencing hearing last week, Pistorius’ chief defense lawyer called social workers and a psychologist who testified that the athlete had suffered significantly already, both emotionally and financially.

”He’s not only broke, but he’s broken,” chief defense lawyer Barry Roux said of Pistorius. ”There is nothing left of this man.”

Pistorius’ defense team also argued that South African prisons cannot cater for his disability and he would be vulnerable. Roux even cited an alleged threat against Pistorius by a reputed prison gang leader.

Prosecutors insist Pistorius must go to prison because of what they called the ”horrific” nature of Steenkamp’s death. The 29-year-old model was hit in the head, arm and hip with hollow-point bullets fired by Pistorius.

Chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel said that the defense’s suggestion of house arrest and 16 hours of community service a month was a ”shockingly inappropriate” sentence.

Recent sentences for culpable homicide in South Africa have been cited by analysts of Pistorius’ case.

A singer known as Jub Jub had his murder conviction overturned and replaced with a culpable homicide conviction after a 2010 drag race, when he and another man ploughed their cars into a group of schoolchildren on a road, killing four and seriously injuring two. The singer was sentenced to eight years in prison for culpable homicide.

In 2011, a South African rugby player convicted of culpable homicide for the beating death of a policeman on a Pretoria road was given a five-year suspended prison sentence. He served no jail time and paid the victim’s family $85,000 in compensation.

On Monday, correctional services authorities denied media reports by a radio network that they were already preparing a cell for Pistorius in a high-security section of Pretoria Central Prison ahead of the announcement of his sentence.

Source: Alon Skuy/AFP Photo/ AP


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Witnesses: Bob Bashara liked to spank women, looked like “movie star” after wife’s murder


DETROIT (WXYZ) – The second week of Bob Bashara’s First Degree Murder trial has begun. Today, witnesses said Bashara tried to get a $40,000 loan for a BDSM lifestyle friend in November of 2011. This was just two months before his wife Jane was murdered.

Click Link To Read More…Video Too.

Source: Jim Kiertzner WXYZ

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Boston bomb case judge wants 1,000 juror summonses


BOSTON — A federal judge says at least 1,000 people will be summoned to pick a jury for the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR’ tsahr-NEYE’-ehv).

Tsarnaev is charged with carrying out the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. He has pleaded not guilty and could face the death penalty if convicted.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge George O’Toole Jr. said he expects a pool of 1,000 potential jurors will be called to fill out questionnaires. About 100 will be culled for individual questioning. Twelve jurors and 6 alternates will be picked.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Jan. 5.

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, planted two bombs near the marathon finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police.

Source: DENISE LAVOIE, AP Legal Affairs Writer AP


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Michelle Knight says she now forgives kidnapper


CHARDON, Ohio — One of the three women held captive in a Cleveland home for about a decade told a crowd she has been able to forgive her kidnapper and find peace in her life.

Knight, who was kidnapped in August 2002 when she was 21, said she realizes now that Ariel Castro had a disease, and therapy has taught her that what he did hadn’t been his fault, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer ( reported.

Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus broke out of the house in May 2013 after suffering years of torture. Knight said it wasn’t until about a year and a half after her rescue from Castro’s home that she reached a breakthrough.

“I was able to say his name, Ariel Castro,” the 33-year-old Knight said. “I was able to forgive him.”

Knight made the comments during an interview conducted by a radio host on Sunday at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin High School in Chardon, Ohio.

Castro pleaded guilty to a long list of charges and committed suicide in prison in September 2013.

“I felt very appalled by it, but I understood,” Knight said of Castro’s prison suicide. “I don’t condone what he did.”

She received applause from the crowd when she said she hopes for the best for Castro’s family.

“A lot of people who have contacted me through Facebook see me as an inspiration,” said Knight, who has written a book about her ordeal called “Finding Me.” ”It means the world to me and it is an honor to help everybody I can.”

Knight said her time in captivity has made her stronger and has allowed her to know herself better.

“The situation (Castro) put me in didn’t define me,” she said. “I choose to live a meaningful life.”

Source: AP