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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Aaron AlexisWashington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis' mother apologized Wednesday for her son's actions and said she was glad that he is "now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone."

"I don't know why he did what he did, and I'll never be able to ask him why, Cathleen Alexis said in an audio statement.

"I'm so, so very sorry this has happened. My heart is broken," she said.

Her statement comes two days after Alexis killed 12 people at the historic Navy base.

The facility will remain closed to all but "essential" employees again Wednesday as authorities piece together what triggered a military contractor to fatally shoot 12 people there.

The investigation continues as the families of Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims visit Capitol Hill to mark nine months since the tragic mass shooting and call on Congress to act on legislation to reduce gun violence now.

What made him do it?

While no specific reason has been given on why Aaron Alexis went on a murderous rampage at Navy Yard, his overall mindset came into sharper focus Tuesday -- including a history of trouble in the Navy and psychological issues.

That past includes a Newport, Rhode Island, incident on August 7.

Describing himself as a Navy contractor, Alexis told police he believed an individual he'd gotten into a verbal spat with had sent three "people to follow him and keep him awake by talking to him and sending vibrations into his body," according to a police report. Alexis said he hadn't seen any of these people, but insisted they'd followed him between three hotels in the area -- the last being a Marriott, where police investigating a harassment complaint encountered him.

There, Alexis told authorities the unseen individuals continued speaking to him through walls and the floor. He said they used "some sort of microwave machine" to send vibrations into his body to keep him awake.

He added, according to the police report, that "he does not have a history of mental illness in his family and that he never had any sort of mental episode." Nonetheless, a police sergeant alerted authorities at Naval Station Newport to Alexis "hearing voices." Reached Tuesday, officials at the base referred CNN to the FBI, which declined to comment.

It's not known if this incident was related to Monday's shooting spree. Still, it and other details offer insights into the shooter and raise questions about whether he could have been stopped.

The Navy moved to discharge Alexis in 2010 due to what two Navy officials described as a "pattern of misconduct."

There were also run-ins with police, beyond the Newport incident. In Seattle, for instance, Alexis was arrested in 2004 for shooting out the tires of another man's vehicle in what he later told detectives was an anger-fueled "blackout."

DeKalb County, Georgia, authorities said Tuesday they arrested Alexis in 2008 on a disorderly conduct charge.

And recently, Alexis contacted two Veterans Affairs hospitals around the capital, law enforcement sources told CNN. Two indicated he sought help for sleep-related issues, with another source saying Alexis was "having problems sleeping" and "hearing voices."

Whatever his past, Alexis was a military contractor and was in the Navy's Ready Reserve -- a designation for former military members who don't actively serve in a Reserve unit but who can be called up if the military needs them.

Moreover, he had legitimate credentials to enter the base, Valerie Parlave, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington field office, said Tuesday. He also had a secret security clearance valid through 2017, even after leaving the service full-time in 2011, Navy spokesman John Kirby told CNN.

Should he have? Did the military miss opportunities to prevent Alexis from attacking? And how was he able to get a shotgun onto the naval base?   There are no definitive answers.

Investigators scour crime scene, hotel and beyond

Federal law enforcement sources say authorities recovered three guns from the scene: a shotgun and two handguns.

Two days before the shooting, Alexis spent "a couple hours" shooting at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in northern Virginia before paying $419 for a Remington 870 shotgun and a small amount of ammunition, said the store's attorney, J. Michael Slocum.

He was approved after a federal background check, he said.

The two handguns, sources say, may have been taken from guards at the naval base. But how Alexis brought the shotgun in remains an open question, with Washington Mayor Vincent Gray speculating that he concealed it.

Surveillance video shows Alexis walking into the facility, bringing a bag into a bathroom in Building 197 and coming out with the shotgun, a federal law enforcement official said. It's believed Alexis had the disassembled gun inside the bag.

From there, he headed to a perch overlooking the building's atrium and began firing on those below using 00 buckshot shells, each packed with about a dozen pellets capable of causing tremendous damage, according to the same official.

Parlave said Alexis is believed to be solely responsible for Monday's bloodshed that, in addition to those killed, left eight wounded.

Three of the injured suffered gunshot wounds, one of whom was released Tuesday. Another is Washington police Officer Scott Williams, who is credited with killing Alexis. Still, that doesn't mean authorities aren't looking into others who might have helped Alexis, wittingly or unwittingly, or known something about the plot.

Federal investigators on Tuesday collected Alexis' computer and possessions from the hotel where he spent the last few days of his life. They also reviewed surveillance and other tools to see whom he interacted with in three weeks around Washington.

Co-workers have portrayed Alexis as having lived the mundane work life of a well-paid tech contractor given daily per diems that allowed a comfortable stay in an expensive city, a senior law enforcement official said.

Authorities are also appealing for the public's help in an investigation that U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen estimates could take "weeks and months."

"No piece of information is too small," Parlave said.



'Who was this guy?'

A native of New York City -- where both his parents, now divorced, still live -- Alexis worked between 2001 and 2003 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. His supervisor there, Barry Williams, told CNN he never would have expected such a violent outburst, though Alexis would get easily frustrated about minor things and hold grudges.

Years later, Alexis joined the Navy, rising to the rank of petty officer and working on electrical systems.

But his four years in service weren't all smooth. He was written up for eight instances of misconduct on duty, a U.S. defense official told CNN, including cases of insubordination, disorderly conduct, unauthorized absences and at least one instance of intoxication.

"He wasn't a stellar sailor, we know that," said Rear Adm. Kirby, the Navy spokesman, adding that the misconduct cases were all "relatively minor." "... None of those (offenses) give you an indication he was capable of this sort of brutal, vicious violence."

The revelations led to questions about whether Alexis should have retained his security clearance or been able to obtain a job working on military bases. Defense officials have ordered a review of security measures at U.S. installations worldwide.

On Wednesday, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the Navy chief of operations, told a congressional committee that an initial review of security and access controls at Navy installations around the world would be completed within two weeks.

Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said earlier that he felt Alexis' infractions "were kind of swept under the rug."

"It is real easy to just pass the buck along to another military base or, in this instance, a defense contractor," the Texas Republican said Tuesday. "...There are so many red flags that popped up in this case."

Without a civilian conviction, the offenses weren't enough to produce a general discharge; Alexis was granted an honorable discharge in January 2011 instead. He remained part of the Navy's Ready Reserve up to his death, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told CNN.

The Experts -- the contracting firm for which Alexis worked for about six months over the past year -- said the last of two background checks it conducted in June on Alexis "revealed no issues other than one minor traffic violation."

Still, did something change more recently? There was the August incident in Rhode Island. And a friend and former housemate, Kristi Suthamtewakul, told CNN's "New Day" that she noticed personality changes in Alexis over the last few months, but nothing indicating the potential for such violence.

"Aaron was a very polite, very friendly man," she said.

Among other problems, he had been frustrated about pay and benefits issues after a one-month contracting stint in Japan last year, Suthamtewakul said.

"He got back and he felt very slighted about his benefits at the time," she said. "Financial issues. He wasn't getting paid on time, he wasn't getting paid what he was supposed to be getting paid."

"That's when I first started hearing statements about how he wanted to move out of America," Suthamtewakul said. "He was very frustrated with the government and how, as a veteran, he didn't feel like he was getting treated right or fairly."

Another friend, Texas resident Michael Ritrovato, also said Alexis recently had been frustrated with his employer over pay.

But Ritrovato said his friend never showed signs of aggressiveness or violence, though he played a lot of shooting video games online.

"It's incredible that this is all happening, because he was a very good-natured guy," Ritrovato said. "It seemed like he wanted to get more out of life."

Friend Melinda Downs described Alexis as "very intellectual" and of "sound" mind -- saying if he did hear voices, "he hid it very well." The two spoke as recently as a week ago, at which time Downs said she had no hints of what was to come.

"It is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," she said. "Who was this guy?"





CNN's Michael Pearson and Greg Botelho reported and wrote from Atlanta; Pamela Brown reported from Washington. CNN's Phil Gast, Catherine E. Shoichet. Ed Payne, Chris Lawrence, Barbara Starr, Chris Cuomo, John King, Deborah Feyerick, Evan Perez, Tom Cohen, Dan Merica, Larry Shaughnessy, Brian Todd, Alan Silverleib, Susan Candiotti, Joe Johns, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Joe Sterling, Paul Courson and Ed Lavandera contributed to this report.

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