Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

  • James Holmes’ revealing courtroom behavior during the Colorado theater shooting trial

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 8 hrs ago

    As James Holmes watched his father being cross-examined on the witness stand Wednesday, the convicted Colorado theater shooter reverted to what has become his routine during many of the trial’s more contentious moments: He swiveled.

    The conspicuous behavior, almost a tic, has become a hallmark of sorts. From his seat at the defense table, Holmes begins to methodically swivel back and forth in his black office chair.

    Robert Holmes was testifying in an effort to sway the jury vote for a life sentence instead of the death penalty for his son.

    The defendant’s swivel was steady as Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler quizzed the elder Holmes about the arsenal his son amassed in the months before he opened fire in a Colorado movie theater on July 20, 2012, killing 12 people.

    Ten minutes later, Holmes sat slouched and motionless as the video depositions of old family friends and acquaintances were played in court.

    When the adjustments occur is key, much like the actions of a poker player who changes physical demeanor at pivotal moments.

  • Lafayette theater gunman spent weeks before rampage drinking beer at a motel pool

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 4 days ago

    LAFAYETTE, La. — The gunman who opened fire on Lafayette moviegoers before killing himself spent the final weeks of his life drinking and tanning poolside at a pay-by-the-week motel.

    “The only thing he ever done was lay his ass at the pool and drink them cold beers,” said a man who helps run a Motel 6 where John “Rusty” Houser had been staying.

    The worker spoke to Yahoo News, but asked that his name not be published because he is not authorized to talk for the company.

    “We’re trying to clean it up, and then this happens,” he said of the previously crime-riddled motel. “It don’t make us look too good.”

    Houser’s stay at the motel since early July was apparently uneventful — aside from the 59-year-old’s penchant for wearing a bright-yellow Speedo bathing suit while at the pool.

    “ I told him, ‘If I catch you down here again like that, I'm going to run you plum outta here,” the man said.

    He’d say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’” as he hustled back to Room 218 to put on more clothing, the worker said. “He was very nice to everybody.”

    “He was like a kitten,” the man said in a thick Cajun accent. “I don’t understand it, I really don’t. It’s still got me bloated today.”

    “For free!” the man added.

  • Colorado shooting verdict: James Holmes guilty in movie theater massacre

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 13 days ago

    CENTENNIAL, Colo. — “We the jury find the defendant, James Eagan Holmes, guilty.”

    The first murder conviction read by Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour Thursday evoked a whimper and several tissue-muffled sobs.

    Those sitting on the packed right side of Courtroom 201 — either survivors of the July 20, 2012, Colorado movie theater shooting rampage or loved ones of those killed — tried to heed the judge’s request to keep their emotions in check, but this day was a long time in the making.

    “As soon as you heard the first guilty, we knew all the dominoes were about to fall,” said Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was slain.

    “Yes, yes,” mouthed a tearful Sandy Phillips when it was confirmed that Holmes was guilty of murdering her 24-year-old daughter, Jessica Ghawi.

    Joshua Nowlan, his walking cane hanging on his courtroom seat, brandished a smile and nodded in agreement that Holmes was guilty of attempted murder for shooting him in the leg.

    After the hearing, dozens of the shooting victims and families of the slain congregated in the courthouse parking lot. Some celebrated, others cried — finding relief after their toil for justice.

  • Parents of Colorado movie theater victim living in camper to not miss trial

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 16 days ago

    In the process, the Texas couple has discovered a bit of peace for themselves — in a 393-square-foot travel trailer.

    “When you lose a child to murder, you learn that nothing else matters — just the time we have together and what we do with it,” said Sandy, 65.

    The Phillipses, vowing not to miss a moment of the trial, sold 75 percent of their belongings, rented out their San Antonio home and pulled a just-purchased camper to Denver in time for opening statements in late April.

    “It’s like a refuge to us,” Lonnie, 71, said of the one-bedroom camper.

    The couple has lived in the tight quarters with their two Maltese-mix dogs for nearly three months. Just inside the front door rests a photo of Jessica Ghawi, their 24-year-old daughter who was among the 12 people slain when the shooter opened fire in the theater on July 20, 2012 in nearby Aurora.

    Jurors in the case are set to hear closing arguments Tuesday after seeing more than 250 witnesses testify and 1,500 photographs submitted into evidence.

    “It’s tiny living,” said Sandy, 65. “We’ve gotten very good at it.”

  • Dylann Roof arrest video reveals officers’ emotions after capturing Charleston murder suspect

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    It wasn’t long after Shelby, N.C. patrolman Dan Bernat had slapped his handcuffs on alleged Charleston church killer Dylann Roof that officers were able to show their relief.

    The first congratulatory fist bump, in fact, came 45 seconds after Roof was in cuffs.

    Roof, a 21-year-old avowed white supremacist, had been national news and the subject of an intense manhunt since nine people were gunned down inside a Charleston, S.C. historic black church the night before.

    For Shelby, a rural town of 20,000 in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, hooking Roof was a big catch.

    On Tuesday the Shelby Police Department released patrol car dashcam video of the arrest. While the traffic stop and arrest of Roof are fairly uneventful, the officers’ reactions are anything but.

    They brandished big smiles after Roof was in cuffs and the threat of danger had passed.

    “You could tell they were all happy to apprehend this guy and get him off the street,” Shelby police Chief Jeff Ledford told Yahoo News. “I can understand them being excited.”

    The church’s security cameras had captured images of Roof and his black Hyundai sedan, which Charleston police relayed to news outlets in a widespread plea for help.

  • Dylann Roof’s arrest: How a small-town police foiled the accused Charleston killer’s getaway

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    SHELBY, N.C. — For 13 hours and 44 minutes last week, an unemployed high school dropout just barely of legal drinking age was the most wanted man in the United States.

    Dylann Storm Roof is accused of mercilessly shooting nine African-American people with a semiautomatic handgun equipped with laser sights on Wednesday evening inside a historic church in Charleston, S.C.

    The 21-year-old avowed white supremacist allegedly told one survivor that he would let her live so she could tell the story of what he’d done. Then he fled into the night.

    After that startling scene, Roof’s getaway and the ensuing manhunt ended in an unexpectedly mundane fashion and in an unlikely place: a traffic stop in Shelby, a small town between Charlotte and Asheville in the rolling foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

    “We had no idea the guy would end up here,” said Rusty Stroupe, a local college baseball coach. “Somebody attacks somebody inside a church, we’re all affected by that. This guy deserves justice for what he has done.”

    “Why Shelby? I don’t think anybody can figure that out,” said Mike Miller, Cleveland County district attorney.

    “I was stunned at first,” Ledford said.


  • Dylann Roof and Michael Slager are cellblock neighbors in Charleston County jail

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    Charleston’s hi-profile murder suspects are now neighbors: Roof is in cell 1141B, Slager 1140B in the protective unit

    SHELBY, N.C. — When church shooting suspect Dylann Roof left here on a police-escorted flight to South Carolina Thursday evening, he did so wearing a striped jail jumpsuit compliments of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department.

    Jailers booked Roof in at 7:28 p.m., less than 24 hours after the reportedly self-avowed racist allegedly massacred nine people during a Bible study session, sparking a regional manhunt.

    Roof was assigned Cell 1141B in a part of the jail where suicidal and other high-risk inmates get more oversight.

    Out of 937 males currently in the jail, Roof's cellblock neighbor is former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, who is jailed in a high-profile, racially charged murder case.

    But Roof and Slager are alone in their individual cells without any known way to speak to one another.

  • Waco police rarely dispatched to Twin Peaks prior to biker shootout, records reveal

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    Patrol officers were seldom sent to investigate trouble at Twin Peaks restaurant prior to the May deadly biker shootout in Waco, Texas, records obtained by Yahoo News reveal.

    The scarce number of calls conflicts with how law enforcement portrayed the self-described “breastaurant” immediately after the brazen lunch-hour rampage.

    “We have been made aware in the last few months of rival biker gangs — rival criminal biker gangs — being here and causing issues,” Waco police Sgt. Patrick Swanton told reporters outside the sports bar turned crime scene last month. “We have attempted to work with the local management of Twin Peaks to get that cut back, to no avail.”

    If Twin Peaks was a powder keg leading up the deadly brawl — there’s apparently not much of paper trail to prove it.

    A police dispatch log shows officers averaged less than one call a month to Twin Peaks between the restaurant’s opening in August and the May 17 shooting.

    Swanton said he couldn’t explain why the records released to Yahoo News didn’t reflect other previous crimes or arrests at the location.

  • Dallas suspect had talked of ‘shooting up schools and churches’

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    DALLAS — The suspect who attacked Dallas police headquarters overnight with a barrage of bullets and homemade explosives had a history of mental illness and violence, according to court records.

    Police said the man identified himself as James Lance Boulware, 35. The suspect’s hours-long rampage included a sensational standoff at police headquarters in downtown Dallas where he had left two pipe bombs, rammed patrol cars with an armored van, and exchanged a hail of gunfire with officers. One of the bombs exploded when a police technician tried to remove it. Boulware eventually fled that scene and led dozens of police cruisers on a chase south of Dallas.

    “It was very helter-skelter for a while,” said Dallas Police Chief David Brown.

    Patrol cars and buildings were left scarred by bullet holes, but police said no officers were injured.

    Picture of squad car that was shot at. No officers were injured.

    A police sniper shot and killed Boulware early Saturday as he sat barricaded in his armored van in a restaurant parking lot 10 miles south of downtown Dallas.

    (This story has been updated since it was originally published.)

  • McKinney pool party officer’s past includes allegations of racial profiling, questionable police practices

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    McKinney police Cpl. Eric Casebolt, who is white, was thrust into the country’s ongoing controversy about police conduct this week after a video of him responding aggressively to a disturbance at a suburban pool party went viral on social media. On the footage shot last Friday, Casebolt is seen drawing his gun on unarmed African-American teens and throwing one of them, a 15-year-old girl wearing a bikini, to the ground.

    Casebolt resigned late Tuesday as civil rights protesters descended on McKinney, a predominately white suburb north of Dallas. At a news conference, his civil attorney Jane Bishkin said the officer left his job of 10 years “with a heavy heart,” and apologizes his actions but maintains, “He was not targeting minorities.”

    Neither of Casebolt’s attorneys responded to messages left by Yahoo News seeking comment for this story.

    “Casebolt!” Brown recalls shouting. “That’s his name! This is the guy that took me to jail. I never will forget that name.”