05 24 2016
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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  • Some hope killing will bring peace in Afghanistan     
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The court-martial of admitted Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan came to a screeching halt Wednesday as the lawyers assigned to back up his defense asked to withdraw from the case.
The court-martial of admitted Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan came to a screeching halt Wednesday as the lawyers assigned to back up his defense asked to withdraw from active participation in the case.
Hasan is representing himself on charges that he shot and killed 13 people and wounded 32 in the November 2009 rampage at the installation, near Killeen, Texas. But the presiding judge, Col. Tara Osborn, ruled before the court-martial began that defense lawyers could act as stand-by counsel during the proceedings.
Osborn was holding a closed-door hearing with defense lawyers and Hasan late Wednesday morning, and recessed the court-martial until Thursday.
The lawyers' roles had been limited to helping Hasan file motions and coaching him on procedural matters. But before testimony could resume Wednesday morning, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe told Osborn that Hasan was "working in concert with the prosecution to achieve a death sentence."
"It becomes clear that his goal is to remove impediments and obstacles and is working towards a death penalty," Poppe said. He and the two other lawyers said they were still willing to defend Hasan if needed but couldn't ethically stand by to help him at this point.
Hasan objected to Poppe's characterization, calling it "a twist of the facts." But he refused to submit his objection in writing, a move that Osborn requested to avoid revealing privileged information, and insisted on being heard in open court.

On Tuesday in court, Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford stared hard at the Army psychiatrist in a wheelchair who hours earlier admitted to carrying out the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, appearing to brace for questions from the man now acting as his own attorney.

The man, Maj. Nidal Hasan, just stared back.

The drama of Hasan facing and possibly questioning those who survived his attack was expected to continue Wednesday, a day after Hasan left no room for question about who was behind the shooting rampage and why.

"The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter," Hasan said Tuesday at the outset of his court-martial. "The evidence presented with this trial will show one side. The evidence will also show that I was on the wrong side. I then switched sides."

Hasan's blunt declaration came during his brief opening statement before a panel of 13 senior officers who will decide his fate. He is charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 on November 5, 2009, at a processing center for soldiers heading to Afghanistan and Iraq. He faces a possible death sentence, if convicted.

Hasan is representing himself, and is expected to cross-examine witnesses as well as possibly testify on his own behalf.

The courtroom turned silent as Lunsford, who was shot seven times during the rampage, was called to testify. He was the first of several survivors scheduled to testify against Hasan.

Lunsford recounted how the gunman rose from a chair in the processing center, shouted "Allahu Akbar," pulled out a pistol and began shooting.

"It was a state of panic," Lunsford said.

Lunsford, a health care specialist, described how his friend and colleague, physician's assistant Michael Cahill, tried to hit Hasan with a chair to stop the shooting; Hasan shot him dead. Soldiers tried to flee or take cover inside the processing center as Hasan fired dozens of shots.

As Lunsford was checking behind him, "Major Hasan is turning the weapon on me," he said. "He has a laser on his weapon and it goes across my line of sight and I blink. In that time, he discharges his weapon. The first round, I'm hit in the head."

A second shot caught Lunsford in the back. He decided to play dead for a while before changing his mind and deciding to run for the door. He made it out of the building but was shot five more times outside, he testified.

Hasan continued shooting at Lunsford even as he was receiving first aid outside the processing center, before police arrived. Officers shot and wounded Hasan, ending the rampage and leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.

After the prosecution finished questioning Lunsford, the judge asked Hasan whether he had any questions for the witness.

"I have no questions," Hasan said.

Hasan also declined to question Michelle Harper, who worked at the deployment center and was inside when the shooting began. Prosecutors played a recording of her 911 call, where she pleaded for help.

A U.S.-born citizen of Palestinian descent, Hasan had been scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan before the killings. Prosecutors hope to show that the devout Muslim had undergone a "progressive radicalization," giving presentations in defense of suicide bombings and about soldiers conflicted between military service and their religion when such conflicts result in crime.

Hasan did not want to deploy to fight against other Muslims and believed "that he had a jihad duty to kill as many soldiers as possible," said Col. Michael Mulligan, the lead prosecutor in the case.

Investigators found 146 spent shell casings in the room where the attack began, Mulligan said. Hasan carried two laser-sighted pistols and 420 rounds of ammunition, his pockets lined with paper towels to muffle the sounds of the magazines banging together, he said.

Internet searches on Hasan's computer used keywords like "terrorist killing," "innocent," "Quran," "fatwas" and "suicide bombings," Mulligan said.

Hasan told the panel in his opening statement, "We mujahedeen are trying to establish the perfect religion." But, he added, "I apologize for the mistakes I made in this endeavor."

The mujahedeen consider themselves as warriors who defend the Islamic faith.

Hasan told his family he had been taunted after the al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001. Investigations that followed the killings found he had been communicating via e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American radical cleric killed by a U.S. drone attack in 2011.

The case was first set to begin in March 2012, but has been delayed repeatedly, notably over a previous judge's unsuccessful demand that the beard Hasan has grown while in custody be forcibly shaved.

Among others scheduled to testify include Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Royal, who survived the shootings with two bullet wounds to his back. The slugs left him with nerve damage that numbs his left arm and leg and sends streaking pains "shooting up and down my back."

It's also left invisible scars as well, post-traumatic stress that has hurt his ability to perform his duties as a computer specialist and left him unable to feel safe in his own country.

Royal escaped the gunfire only to go back into the processing center in an attempt to tackle Hasan.

"I had escaped without being wounded," Royal said. "I got ... in the parking lot, and then I said, 'I can't let him get away with this.' And I wasn't even thinking that I didn't have a weapon. I just knew that I couldn't let him get away."

Lunsford said Tuesday he encountered Royal outside the building.

"I ask him, 'Am I out of the building yet?'" Lunsford testified. "He says I am, and to play dead.

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