Blog Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

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

    Emotional moment when family members address killer in court

    A jury took a little more than two hours to find ex-Marine Eddie Ray Routh guilty of murder. (REUTERS/LM Otero/Pool)A jury took a little more than two hours to find ex-Marine Eddie Ray Routh guilty of murder. (REUTERS/LM Otero/Pool)
    STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Erath County District Court Judge Jason Cashon sentenced Eddie Ray Routh to life in prison without the possibility of parole, then turned the floor over to the families of the two men the defendant had just been found guilty of murdering.

    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

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

    Defense questions if fairness can be had in Chris Kyle country

    Investigator Michael Adcock testifies at trial about one of the rifles recovered from the crime scene where “American Sniper” Chris Kyle was killed. (REUTERS/Mike Stone)Investigator Michael Adcock testifies at trial about one of the rifles recovered from the crime scene where “American Sniper” Chris Kyle was killed. (REUTERS/Mike Stone)
    STEPHENVILLE, Texas — A man in weathered work boots and a flannel jacket butters his popcorn at the local movie house before ambling into the 6:50 p.m. showing of “American Sniper” — the blockbuster war film about famed former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

    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.

    Eddie Ray Routh, Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. (AP Photo/CBS)Eddie Ray Routh, Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. (AP Photo/CBS)

    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 —

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

    Watchdog group urges U.S. to focus on more than Islamic State

    Las Vegas police on the scene of the June 2014 deadly rampage carried out by extremists Jared and Amanda Miller. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Eric Verduzco)Las Vegas police on the scene of the June 2014 deadly rampage carried out by extremists Jared and Amanda Miller. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Eric Verduzco)
    As U.S. officials scramble to suppress the pace of foreign fighters flocking to join extremists in Syria and Iraq, a national watchdog group is imploring the federal government not to overlook terrorist threats at home.

    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.”

    Click image to read the Southern Poverty Law Center's study on lone wolf domestic terrorism.Click image to read the Southern Poverty Law Center's study on lone wolf domestic terrorism.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

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

    Father of two victims says triple homicide was a ‘hate crime’

    Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, enters the courtroom Wednesday in Durham. (Reuters/Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer)Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, enters the courtroom Wednesday in Durham. (Reuters/Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer)
    The middle-aged white man charged with fatally shooting three young Muslim students near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a self-proclaimed atheist who rants about religion in general on Facebook.

    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: “... the 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

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

    Lawyers for St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch want a lawsuit by one of the Ferguson grand jurors dismissed. (AP Photo/File)Lawyers for St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch want a lawsuit by one of the Ferguson grand jurors dismissed. (AP Photo/File)

    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.”

    Michael Brown and former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. (Facebook)Michael Brown and former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. (Facebook)

    A month ago, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit on behalf of the unnamed juror, alleging that McCulloch has wrongly implied that all 12 jurors believed that there was no evidence to support charging Wilson. The juror,

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

    Deal worth up to $25 million also calls for private firm to educate the government on preparedness

    Phoenix Air lands near Atlanta on Aug. 5 with Nancy Writebol aboard in an isolation chamber. (AP/Todd Kirkland)Phoenix Air lands near Atlanta on Aug. 5 with Nancy Writebol aboard in an isolation chamber. (AP/Todd Kirkland)
    On an unusually cold morning in northwest Georgia last month, Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol pulled up to the private aviation company Phoenix Air with five dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

    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.”

    Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol and her husband, David, touring the jet that rescued her from West Africa (Photo: Courtesy of the Writebol family)Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol and her husband, David, touring the jet that rescued her from West Africa (Photo: Courtesy of the Writebol family)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

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

    Lawyer salaries and security top expenditures, records reveal

    Top attorneys in the State of Colorado v. James Holmes. (L-R) Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson, Public Defender Chief Trial Deputy Daniel King and Public Defender Chief Trial Deputy Tamara Brady. (Getty Images)Top attorneys in the State of Colorado v. James Holmes. (L-R) Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Pearson, Public Defender Chief Trial Deputy Daniel King and Public Defender Chief Trial Deputy Tamara Brady. (Getty Images)
    The criminal court case against Colorado theater gunman James Holmes has already absorbed at least $5.5 million in public monies, according to records obtained by Yahoo News.

    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’

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

    Schools and city offices closed, but the record snowfall never arrived in Philadelphia. (Photo: WVPI-TV)Schools and city offices closed, but the record snowfall never arrived in Philadelphia. (Photo: WVPI-TV)
    At nightfall on Monday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared a snow emergency — ordering that parked cars be moved to clear the city's designated emergency routes ahead of what government forecasters predicted could be a “crippling” and “potentially historic” blizzard.

    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.

     

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

    Lawyer: ‘They are sworn to tell the truth, but a good liar can slip by’

    A jury pool of 7,000 will be screened at the Arapahoe County court in Centennial, Colo., to determine 12 jurors and 12 alternates in the trial of James Eagan Holmes. (Brennan Linsley/AP Photo)A jury pool of 7,000 will be screened at the Arapahoe County court in Centennial, Colo., to determine 12 jurors and 12 alternates in the trial of James Eagan Holmes. (Brennan Linsley/AP Photo)
    CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Opening day of the Colorado theater shooting trial got under way with a few hiccups: a juror who may have fallen asleep in court, three others spotted playing on their phones, and one who arrived hours early at the wrong court.

    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 sat impassively Tuesday as prospective jurors heard the charges against him. (Jeff Kandyba/AP Photo)James Holmes sat impassively Tuesday as prospective jurors heard the charges against him. (Jeff Kandyba/AP Photo)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

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

    A clean-cut James Holmes appears in court

    A courtroom sketch showing accused murderer James Holmes (L) sitting with Arapahoe County Public Defender Tamara Brady (C) at the Arapahoe District Courthouse in Centennial, Colorado, USA, 20 January 2015. (EPA/JEFF KANDYBA)A courtroom sketch showing accused murderer James Holmes (L) sitting with Arapahoe County Public Defender Tamara Brady (C) at the Arapahoe District Courthouse in Centennial, Colorado, USA, 20 January 2015. (EPA/JEFF KANDYBA)

    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.

    Before the hearing

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Pagination

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