05 23 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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A military jury considering the fate of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with massacring soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, resumed deliberations Friday morning in the death penalty case.

Hasan is charged with 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder in the November 5, 2009, shooting rampage at a deployment processing center where prosecutors say he targeted soldiers he was set to deploy with to Afghanistan.

A judge handed the case to the jury, a panel of 13 senior officers, on Thursday afternoon after 12 days of testimony in a court-martial where Hasan was acting as his own attorney.

After nearly three hours of deliberations, the panel asked to rehear the testimony of the police officer who shot Hasan, ending the rampage that left 13 people dead and dozens wounded.

Jurors also asked to see a map marked by the police officer, Mark Todd, indicating where he shot Hasan.

The questions appeared to indicate that the jury was evaluating the charge -- premeditated attempted murder -- against Hasan for firing at Todd, who was not wounded in the attack.

The jury began deliberations after Hasan declined to make a statement during closing arguments.

The prosecution urged the jury to convict, saying the evidence showed that he believed he had a jihad duty to kill as many soldiers as possible. If the jury unanimously convicts Hasan of two or more counts of premeditated murder, he faces a possible death sentence in the penalty phase.

"There is no doubt, as I said in the beginning, the accused is the shooter," the prosecutor, Col. Steven Henricks, told the jury.

"The only question for you is ... is this a premeditated design to kill?"

For more than 90 minutes, the prosecutor took the jury methodically through the evidence in the case, meticulously piecing together how he says Hasan prepared and planned for the attack.

Prosecutors have maintained the American-born Muslim underwent a progressive radicalization that led to the massacre at the sprawling central Texas base.

"He did not want to deploy, and he came to believe he had a jihad duty to kill as many soldiers as possible," Henricks told the jury.

Hasan picked the day -- November 5, 2009 -- because it was when the units he was scheduled to deploy with to Afghanistan were scheduled to go through the processing center, he said.

Hasan, who has been acting as his own attorney, rested his case without calling a single witness or taking the stand to testify on his own behalf.

His decision not to offer a defense was an anticlimactic end to the trial in which prosecution witnesses, primarily survivors, painted a horrific picture of what unfolded inside a processing center during the attack.

During closing arguments, prosecutors showed a graphic FBI video of the crime scene hours after the rampage, where bodies, blood and bullets still covered the floor.

As the video was shown to the jury, some of the family members of those killed fought back tears.

One woman laid her head on her husband's shoulder, tears pouring down her cheeks, while another woman, a wife of a victim, left the courtroom.

For his part, Hasan watched the video, appearing to pay close attention.

Hasan, who has insisted that the jury not be allowed to consider lesser charges against him, said his attack on soldiers at Fort Hood was not an act of "sudden passion."

There was "adequate provocation" for the attack because the soldiers were going to participate in "an illegal war" in Afghanistan, Hasan told the military judge Wednesday, arguing against the jury being allowed to consider voluntary manslaughter or unpremeditated murder.

Prosecutors argued against the inclusion of lesser charges, saying the attack wasn't carried out in "the heat of sudden passion," and Hasan said he agreed.

The judge ruled that the jurors can consider a lesser charge of unpremeditated murder but not voluntary manslaughter. They can also consider unpremeditated attempted and other lesser charges, she ruled.

Much has been made of Hasan's defense or, as his stand-by attorneys have said, the lack of it. Judge Tara Osborn declined a request by Hasan's attorneys to drop out of the case. The attorneys argued that Hasan was helping the prosecution put him to death.

There may be something to that claim.

Hasan took credit for the shooting rampage at the outset of the trial, telling the jury during opening statements that the evidence will show "I was the shooter."

Osborn barred Hasan from pleading guilty at the start of the court-martial. Under military law, defendants cannot enter guilty pleas in capital punishment cases.

The judge has refused to allow Hasan to argue "defense of others," a claim that he carried out the shootings to protect the Afghan Taliban and its leaders from U.S. soldiers.

Perhaps as a way around that ruling, Hasan in recent days has leaked documents through his civilian attorney to The New York Times and Fox News that offer a glimpse of his justification for carrying out the attack. Among the documents was a mental health evaluation conducted by a military panel to determine whether Hasan was fit to stand trial.

"I don't think what I did was wrong because it was for the greater cause of helping my Muslim brothers," he told the panel, according to pages of the report published by The New York Times.

He also said, according to the documents: "I'm paraplegic and could be in jail for the rest of my life. However, if I died by lethal injection, I would still be a martyr."

Military prosecutors called 89 witnesses and submitted more than 700 pieces of evidence before resting their case.

The judge excluded much of the evidence that the prosecution contends goes to the heart of the motive for the attack, including e-mail communications between Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born cleric who officials say became a key member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

Osborn also declined to allow prosecutors to use materials they maintain showed Hasan's interest in the actions of Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar, the American soldier sentenced to death for killing two soldiers and wounding more than a dozen others at the start of the Iraq war, an attack he said he carried out to stop soldiers from killing Muslims.

Along with the e-mails and the material related to Akbar, Osborn declined to allow the use of Hasan's academic presentation on suicide bombings, saying "motive is not an element of the crime."

 

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