Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

  • Missouri murder spree shatters tiny community's comfort zone

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 12 hrs ago

    Texas County Sheriff James Sigman said there were no signs of forced entry at the four countryside homes where the murders occurred. Located about 50 miles north of the Arkansas border, sparsely populated Texas County is made up of tightly knit farming communities.

    “We feel safe around here most of the time,” Sigman told reporters Friday afternoon. “Start locking your doors. The world’s changing.”

    The first sign of trouble came around 10 p.m. Thursday when a 15-year-old girl in the unincorporated community of Tyrone ran to a neighbor’s house, crying that her parents had been shot. According to Reuters, the teen arrived in her nightgown, having scampered barefoot through a snowy wooded area to get help.

    Deputies responded to her home and found her parents, Garold and Julie Aldridge, aged 52 and 47 respectively, dead.

    A few miles away, Garold's brother Harold, 50, and his wife, Janell, 48, were discovered shot to death in their bedroom as well.

    That’s when officers began checking every house in the tiny community, urging Tyrone’s nearly 50 residents to stay put and lock their homes.

    Sigman, who commands a staff of eight officers, kept thinking to himself, “I hope it ends.”

  • ‘American Sniper’ guilty verdict draws brisk, blunt reactions from Texans

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 2 days ago

    “We have people calling every day or coming in the store,” said Sierra Jones, an employee of the clothing store.

    They expect the demand to increase after a jury here found an ex-Marine guilty late Tuesday in the shooting deaths of Kyle, the legendary Navy SEAL “American Sniper,” and his best friend, Chad Littlefield, two years ago.

    Lana Karlberg, a store manager, said she wasn’t surprised that it only took the jury a little more than two hours to reject Eddie Ray Routh’s insanity defense and return a verdict.

    “Most people around here, if you talk to them, would say that they think he's guilty,” Karlberg said. “He had bragged to people about shooting them and killing them. It's all there.”

    The trial was closely followed in this rural town of 19,000, but also drew international attention in part because of the Oscar-winning blockbuster film based on Kyle’s memoir of his four tours in Iraq.

    “What a poetic morning when the snow is melting and the winter is thawing out promising a new day,” Taya Kyle wrote. “God Bless the Jury And good people of Stephenville, Texas!!”

  • ‘American Sniper’ jury finds ex-Marine guilty of murder

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 3 days ago

    Relatives of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle did not speak, but the brother and father of victim Chad Littlefield wanted to have their say. Each stood to somberly and sternly address Routh.

    “You took the lives of two heroes — men who tried to be a friend to you,” said Jerry Richardson, Littlefield's brother. “You became an American disgrace.”

    Routh, a former Marine and Iraq war veteran, shot the men several times while at a gun range on Feb. 2, 2013. Kyle, a former Navy SEAL and the deadliest sniper in American military history, often took fellow veterans to the shooting range as a form of therapy. Littlefield, 35, did not serve in the military, but often volunteered his time to help veterans, his family said.

    During the two-week trial, the defense team tried to convince the jury that mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder triggered Routh to turn on Kyle and Littlefield.

    But the jury took a little more than two hours Tuesday evening to reject the insanity defense and find Routh guilty of capital murder.

    From the defense table, Routh looked to his right at Richardson standing at the front of the public seating area.

    Judge Cashon then ordered deputies to take Routh away.

  • ‘American Sniper’ trial puts rural Texas town in unwanted spotlight

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 9 days ago

    Few in this tranquil town — the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World about 100 miles southwest of Dallas — get rushed about much.

    Those arriving for “American Sniper” at the humble Cinema 6 Tuesday night were hardly in a haste. Perhaps because everyone in these parts knows how and where the movie tragically ends.

    It was two years ago this month that Kyle, who attended college here before gaining notoriety for his record-setting sniper kills in Iraq, was gunned down by a allegedly mentally ill veteran at a shooting range outside of Stephenville. Kyle's best friend, Chad Littlefield, also died in the attack.

    Former Marine Eddie Ray Routh confessed to the shootings and is now being tried for capital murder on the historic town square — 3 miles from the Cinema 6.

    “That happening here just kind of magnifies everything,” said Chick Elms, co-owner of a rodeo supply shop and the Grand Entry Western Store.

    Elms, a modest man with a thick Texas drawl, said he felt the irony walking to his pickup after seeing the film.

    “It's different than normal life in Stephenville,” said Elms, 68.

    “Seven dead,” he said moments before his mother pulled him away to go to their sci-fi movie.

  • Report: Rise in ‘lone wolf’ domestic terrorists remains ‘substantial threat’

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 15 days ago

    According to a study released Thursday by the Southern Poverty Law Center — a nonprofit organization that tracks hate activity — on average, a terrorist attack or foiled encounter took place every 34 days in the United States from April 1, 2009, through Feb. 1, 2015.

    “We are not in any way trying to diminish the very real jihadist threat,” said Mark Potok, SLPC senior fellow and editor of the report. “But we have known since Timothy McVeigh murdered 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995 that there is a very real and very substantial threat in terms of terrorism from our fellow Americans.”

    The study, which included violence by people who identified with radical-right ideologies, as well as homegrown jihadists, identified 63 incidents — attacks, foiled plots and 14 unplanned situations, such as traffic stops, where extremists were confronted by police and reacted with major violence. In six years, 63 victims of terrorist attacks were killed, scores injured and 16 assailants died.

    Potok said the White House summit sounds all-encompassing on paper, but that history has proven otherwise.

  • Self-proclaimed atheist charged in slayings of Muslim students near UNC Chapel Hill

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 16 days ago

    “ There’s nothing complicated about it, and I have every right to insult a religion that goes out of its way to insult, to judge, and to condemn me as an inadequate human being  — which your religion does with self-righteous gusto ,” the suspect, Craig Stephen Hicks,  wrote on Facebook, without calling out any specific religious doctrine.

    He added: “... t he moment that your religion claims any kind of jurisdiction over my experience, you insult me on a level that you can’t even begin to comprehend. ”

    For now, Chapel Hill police say they are still investigating and have no evidence of a hate crime. Instead, they believe Tuesday’s killings were sparked by a long-standing dispute over parking spaces at the condominium complex where Hicks and two of the three victims, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, were neighbors. Abu-Salha’s sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, was also slain.

    Last month, Hicks, 46, posted a photo of a holstered gun sitting on a kitchen scale.

    “Yes, that is 1 pound 5.1 ounces for my loaded 38 revolver, its holster, and five extra rounds in a speedloader,” Hicks wrote with the photo.

  • Ferguson prosecutor: Gag order shouldn’t be lifted for grand juror to discuss Darren Wilson case

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 17 days ago

    The St. Louis County prosecuting attorney wants a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by a grand juror seeking to speak out about the secret proceedings that cleared former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, according to a motion filed late Monday.

    As of Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel had not ruled on the request by prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s lawyers to dismiss the lawsuit.

    “In this case, plaintiff is requesting the court to issue an injunction that would threaten the continued health and sound functioning of Missouri’s grand jury system,” the motion states. “Given the important state issues raised in this case, the court should abstain from exercising its jurisdiction over plaintiff’s claims.”

    Under Missouri law, it is a misdemeanor for a grand juror to disclose evidence or information about witnesses who appear before them.

  • State Dept. rewards ‘Ebola plane’ company with multimillion dollar raise

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 21 days ago

    Her mission: to meet and thank the people who accomplished her elaborate air medical rescue from West Africa last summer — a feat that helped save the aid worker’s life.

    “Their care and evacuation was an important part,” Writebol, 59, told Yahoo News. “It’s important to express gratitude. I’m just thankful for people who have been involved in the situation.”

    She is one of 25 people, who were either stricken with Ebola or exposed to the deadly virus, who Phoenix Air has transported — to the U.S. or other countries — at the State Department’s request since early August.

    Writebol showed her appreciation with sweets and hugs. The State Department, however, is rewarding the flight company’s heroics with a raise.

    The new deal worth $12.5 to $25 million begins Saturday and puts Phoenix Air on 24/7 standby for another year. The company has two distinctive jets tailored to carry a special isolation chamber for transporting highly contagious patients.

  • Cost of Colorado theater shooting case exceeds $5 million months before opening arguments

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 25 days ago

    That’s $2 million more than the estimated average cost of a completed Colorado death penalty trial — and the contentious Holmes proceeding is still months away from opening arguments.

    “Keep adding it up, this isn't ending anytime soon,” said Justin Marceau, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law who has studied the costs of capital murder trials.

    Holmes first appeared in court on July 23, 2012, three days after police say he assailed a packed 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 the two and a half years since that initial court appearance, primary personnel involved with the case — prosecutors, defense attorneys, the judge, court reporter, trial investigators and victims’ advocates for the district attorney — have been paid approximately $4.5 million.

    Even without the public defender releasing its expenses, it’s safe to say they’ve matched the prosecution’s $220,000 on experts, according to Stan Garnett, the district attorney in Boulder County, Colo.

    ‘Exponential effect’

    “Getting ready for a trial like this would be all-consuming,” he said.

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

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth 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"