Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

  • Meteorologist offers rare apology on Twitter for ‘big forecast miss’ on snowstorm

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 5 days ago

    Prepare for a foot to 24 inches in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, they warned. The governors of both states signed disaster proclamations in advance.

    But shortly before midnight — when the snow arrived as a menace not a monster — came a mea culpa rarely seen in the meteorology world.

    Gary Szatkowski, chief of the National Weather Service office that serves Mount Holly, N.J., and Philadelphia, offered a heartfelt public apology on Twitter.

    My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public.


    You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn't. Once again, I'm sorry.

    Szatkowski, who according to his LinkedIn page has been with the National Weather Service for nearly 35 years, then wrote that the storm will still have great impacts to the Northeast, “but for much of New Jersey, and for the Philadelphia Metropolitan area, this is a big forecast miss.”

    Szatkowski's sincerity drew cheers, jeers and even a few laughs.

    @GarySzatkowski If pondering a career change... Try comedy in Canada... Kids are making fun "that's not a storm"


  • Legal experts warn of stealth jurors infiltrating Colorado movie theater shooting trial

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 11 days ago

    Jury selection is no easy task, and veteran trial consultants warn of bigger challenges ahead.

    “What each side needs to worry about in this case are what's called stealth jurors … trying to sneak onto the jury because they have an agenda,” said Robert Hirschhorn, who has acted as a jury and trial consultant since 1985.

    James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to one of the worst mass murders in American history. Prosecutors say he ambushed a crowded suburban Denver movie theater, killing 12 people and injuring 70, as they were watching a midnight showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” in July 2012.

    The case has drawn international media attention and stoked fiery debate about the death penalty, gun control and the execution of people who are mentally ill — all of which leave open the possibility that someone with a motive might penetrate the panel that will decide Holmes’s fate.

    “They do it even more so in really high-profile cases,” said Hirschhorn, whose résumé includes the criminal trials of Terry Nichols, William Kennedy Smith and Robert Durst.

  • Jury selection begins in long-awaited Colorado theater shooting case

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 11 days ago

    CENTENNIAL, Colo. — An almost unrecognizable James Holmes appeared in court on Tuesday in the death penalty case in which he is accused of a murderous rampage at a Colorado movie theater.

    Holmes — who since his July 2012 arrest has sported wild orange hair and later, mutton-chop sideburns — is now clean-cut, and he appeared in civilian clothes during an introductory hearing before jury selection, which began Tuesday afternoon.

    Several courtroom observers did a double take before they realized it was Holmes sitting at the defense table. His dark hair was neatly trimmed and was wearing pleated khaki pants, a striped button-down blue shirt, a charcoal sports jacket and tortoiseshell glasses. It was the first time Holmes has appeared in court in something other than a jail jumpsuit. He wore no cuffs on his wrists, but a hidden cable kept him tethered to the floor.

    No cameras were allowed in the courtroom, but a sketch artist was present. Those images are expected later.

    The defendant ’ s fate ultimately hangs on whether the jury thinks he was sane or insane at the time of the killings.

    Jury selection, Weaver said, “shows we are moving forward — finally.”

  • Why it’s taken so long to bring Colorado theater shooter James Holmes to trial

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 15 days ago

    That’s nearly three times the 12-month timetable the Supreme Court of Colorado recommends for judges to process felony criminal cases.

    “That means from arrest to sentencing in one year,” said Greg Hurley, an expert on judicial administration. But “there’s going to be some of these cases where that just can’t happen.”

    The State of Colorado v. James Eagan Holmes is unquestionably one of them.

    Since Holmes gave himself up to police minutes after killing 12 people and wounding 70 others at a midnight screening of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in July 2012, there have been:

    • Five trial dates • Two judges • A request for a third judge (denied) • Two sanity evaluations • More than 1,700 motions, notices, orders and other documents filed

    “I’m relieved that it’s finally starting,” said Pierce O’Farrill, who survived but still has a .40-caliber bullet lodged in his left arm.

    Holmes’ public defenders admit he was the gunman but argue the former neuroscience graduate student was in the throes of a psychotic episode at the time.

    District Attorney George Brauchler contends the attack was calculated, alleging the 27-year-old spent months stockpiling his arsenal.

  • Judge won’t postpone James Holmes theater shooting trial

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 17 days ago

    The Colorado judge overseeing the James Holmes murder case on Wednesday denied an 11th-hour attempt to have the much-anticipated trial delayed again.

    With jury selection set to begin Jan. 20, Holmes’ court-appointed defense team asked the court last week for more time to sift through hundreds of pages of new evidence, among other things.

    Holmes faces the death penalty for the July 2012 rampage at a Denver-area movie theater. Twelve people were killed and 70 others injured during a midnight screening of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” Holmes, a graduate student in neuroscience at the time of the murders , pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

    In his order, Judge Carlos Samour wrote that the defense’s request “falls short on the merits.”

    “Regardless of how ‘enormous’ this case is, the ‘unbelievable amount of information’ that must be processed and the complexity of the mental health issues involved … it is irrefutable that the defense counsel, their expert witnesses and their staff have had an abundant amount of time to prepare for trial,” Samour wrote.

  • Ferguson prosecutor: Some witnesses lied, including woman who didn’t see shooting

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    “I’m sure she was nowhere near the place,” McCulloch said during a St. Louis radio interview. “She recounted the statement that was right out of the newspaper.”

    While investigators doubted her story, McCulloch said the woman was allowed to testify because “early on, I decided that anyone who claimed to have witnessed anything would be presented to the grand jury.”

    The prosecutor’s appearance on KTRS 550-AM was his first interview since Nov. 24, when he announced that the grand jury had decided not to indict Wilson for killing Brown. The officer, who resigned his position after the ruling, says he shot in self-defense.

    McCulloch’s handling of the death of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer has been criticized from the outset. On Thursday, State Rep. Karla May, a Democrat, called for McCulloch to be investigated for prosecutorial misconduct, the AP reported.

    “Just like any jury, they can believe all, part or nothing of any witness testimony,” he said.

  • James Holmes' parents: Theater gunman mentally ill, shouldn't be executed

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    Robert and Arlene Holmes’ two-page letter to the Denver Post editorial section was delivered by Lisa Damiani, one of the gunman’s court-appointed attorneys. The newspaper published the entire letter on Friday.

    The parents are breaking their silence as 9,000 summonses are being mailed to prospective jurors. Jury selection is scheduled for January with a trial to begin in late spring or early summer.

    Holmes, who turned 27 in jail last week, is charged with murdering a dozen people and attempting to murder 70 others inside an Aurora movie theater in July 2012. The former medical student is accused of stockpiling weapons and meticulously planning his rampage for months. Prosecutors — who are seeking the death penalty — say Holmes also wanted to kill police by leaving his Denver apartment booby trapped with explosives.

    Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and has undergone two court-ordered sanity exams, which have not been made public.

    Holmes is “absolutely not” insane, says Marcus Weaver, who was shot in the theater.

  • Ebola cases require rare dual air ambulance rescues

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    There has been an apparent first in the fight against Ebola this week.

    According to flight records, the private jet company contracted by the State Department to transport Ebola patients flew two air ambulances to West Africa on the same day.

    Until Wednesday, Phoenix Air had flown only one Ebola-fighting mission at a time. A second Gulfstream jet featuring the ability to treat infectious patients in flight had been held back in case of an emergency with the first aircraft. But last month, the Georgia-based operation finished customizing a third jet to handle the specialized medical equipment.

    The increased rescue capacity comes just in time. On Thursday, the Red Cross warned of a possible rise in the rate of Ebola infections in West Africa as people travel across the region during the holidays.

    So far, no information is known about the mission of this week’s second Ebola flight. Messages left for Phoenix Air were not immediately returned on Thursday. A State Department spokeswoman said she could not immediately answer questions from Yahoo News.

  • Attorneys demand Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson be banned from policing in Missouri

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    In a nine-page petition, the National Bar Association — the country’s oldest and largest group of African American attorneys and judges — asks the Missouri Department of Public Safety to revoke Wilson’s law enforcement license.

    Last month, a St. Louis grand jury declined to indict Wilson, who is white, for the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. A federal civil rights investigation continues, but the likelihood of charges being brought is slim, since Wilson has testified he was in fear for his life at the time of the shooting.

    Missouri's 17,500 officers are licensed by the DPS. By law, the state's top cop can discipline officers who have “committed any criminal offense, whether or not a criminal charge has been filed.”

  • In Darren Wilson's words: Grand jury testimony gives first look at officer's fear before Michael Brown shooting

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 2 mths ago

    CLAYTON, Mo. — Michael Brown had the “crazy” look of a “demon” as he barreled toward Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the final moments of his life.

    “He turned, looked at me, made like a grunting noise and had the most intense aggressive face I’ve ever seen on a person,” Wilson told detectives the morning after he fatally shot the unarmed 18-year-old.

    This is a first look at Wilson’s account of what happened in the Aug. 9 shooting, detailed in more than 100 pages of testimony revealed Monday after a grand jury did not indict the officer in Brown’s death.

    Brown never put his hands up in surrender, the officer told grand jurors investigating the case.

    But he did make a fist with his left hand — and reached under his shirt to his waistband with his right — while rushing at Wilson, according to the officer.

    “I shoot a series of shots,” Wilson said. “I don't know how many I shot; I just know I shot it.”

    But Brown kept coming, he said.

    “It looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him,” Wilson told the grand jury on Sept. 16, five weeks after the controversial shooting.