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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Joey Meek

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A friend of the white man accused of fatally shooting nine black parishioners in Charleston last year pleaded guilty Friday to lying to federal authorities during their investigation. He also revealed that the suspect told him he planned to kill himself after the slayings, which he had planned for months.

The plea by Joey Meek, 21, marked the first conviction in a mass killing that stunned the country, reignited discussions about race relations and led to the removal of a Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina Statehouse. Dylann Roof, who is charged with the slayings, had previously posed for photos with a rebel flag.

Meek signed a deal with prosecutors under which he agreed to plead guilty to lying to authorities and failure to report a crime. He could face up to eight years in prison when he's sentenced later, although prosecutors say they will argue he deserves less time if he's helpful in their ongoing case.

Meek admitted to key points of the government's case against him, saying Roof had told him he had planned for more than six months to shoot people at a black church in Charleston on a Wednesday night during Bible study. Meek also said Roof told him he had a gun and a fanny pack to carry extra ammunition, and that he intended to start a race war with the killings.

He also said Roof told him he had planned to kill himself after the church slayings.

Authorities have said Meek failed to tell investigators all he knew about Roof's plans to shoot the parishioners at Emanuel AME Church last June. Roof, 22, is charged with nine counts of murder in state court and with hate crimes and other charges in federal court.

A lawyer for Meek told reporters after the hearing that her client feels remorse for his role in the slayings. Debbie Barbier said Meek hopes relatives of those slain will forgive him but understands they likely won't.

State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Roof's trial, which has been delayed until next year. Federal authorities haven't said if they too will seek a death sentence for Roof. No trial date has been set on those charges. Roof's attorneys in both cases have previously said he's prepared to plead guilty in return for life sentences.

Before Meek was charged last fall, he had long been a part of the story of Roof and his arrest. A day after the massacre, Meek, who had hung out with Roof off and on in the weeks before the June 17 shooting, told The Associated Press Roof had drunkenly complained to him that "blacks were taking over the world" and "someone needed to do something about it for the white race."

Meek also told the AP he called the FBI after recognizing Roof in surveillance footage from the church, down to the stained sweatshirt he had worn while playing Xbox videogames in Meek's home the morning of the attack. He also said Roof told him he used birthday money from his parents to buy a .45-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun.

But authorities allege that Meek knew more, saying in an indictment he knowingly lied to an FBI agent when he said "he did not know specifics of Dylann Roof's plan to shoot individuals on a Wednesday, during Bible Study, at an AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina."

Roof's federal defense team had no comment on Meek's guilty plea. The Associated Press left messages with his attorneys in the state case seeking comment.

Debra Gammons, a former prosecutor who now teaches at Charleston School of Law, says that Meek's cooperation will be important to both state and federal prosecutors. To prove murder in South Carolina, one must show premeditation.

"As far as the prosecution goes you now have this other person saying this is what the plan was," she said. "It's good evidence from the state's perspective and the federal government's perspective."

But Gammons said much will turn on specifically what Meek has to say.

"If it's as vague as what I saw earlier that Roof said he wanted to start a race war, that's pretty vague," she said. "But if he said, yeah I'm going down to Charleston, I know where this church is and this is what I'm going to do, that's more direct."

Under the plea agreement, Meek must testify truthfully and also provide "any books, papers or documents of evidentiary value to the investigation."

 

___

Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/

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