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Psychic ordered to pay $1.6 million back to victim and spend 40 months in prison

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iStock(NEW YORK) — A woman who allegedly claimed that she was able lift curses as a result of a God-given power is now facing a court-issued judgement.

She was ordered to pay $1.6 million in restitution after being found guilty of one count of wire fraud.

The suspect, whose legal name is Sherry Tina Uwanawich, was sentenced to 40 months in prison in southern Florida before facing three years of supervised release. The sentence was issued Sept. 6.

Uwanawich, who according to court documents also was known as Jacklyn Miller, “would claim that her curse-lifting work required her to receive money for the purchase of various expensive items needed for rituals.”

The indictment detailed how Uwanawich allegedly “claimed to engage in meditations in order to communicate with spirits or higher beings. Based upon these meditations, the defendant claimed to have learned that the victim was suffering from a ‘curse’ that purportedly had been placed upon her now deceased mother and which had been passed on to her.”

She allegedly told the victim, whose name is not disclosed in court documents, “that in order to remove the curse, the defendant needed cash from the victim to purchase various expensive ‘materials,’ such as special candles and crystals,” the indictment reads.

Uwanawich met with the victim “multiple” times “over a period of years,” from 2007 to 2014.

The indictment does not specifically say how, where or when Uwanawich, 28, met the victim, identified as V.G. in court documents, but it’s believed they met in Texas before the suspect moved to Florida, where she continued the ruse.

The Miami Herald reported that the suspect met the victim at a Houston mall in 2007.

The indictment shows wire transfers that the victim sent to the suspect originated in Houston and were delivered to an account in Florida.

“On at least one occasion, the defendant needed items of jewelry and other personal property to ‘work with’ in her ‘curse removal work,’ promising that said items would be returned,” according to the indictment. “The items were never returned.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Ex-cheerleader Brooke Skyler Richardson avoids prison time in infanticide case

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iStock(CARLISLE, Ohio) — A former Ohio high school cheerleader who was charged with killing her newborn daughter and burying the baby in her family’s backyard has avoided prison time.

One day after Brooke Skyler Richardson, 20, of Carlisle was cleared of the most serious charges levied against her, Judge Donald E. Oda on Friday decided to spare her any time behind bars.

“I just wanted to say how sorry I was,” she told Oda before he delivered her sentence. “I can sometimes be selfish but I would like to think that I’ve become better. … I’m forever sorry.”

Richardson was sentenced Friday to three years of probation and seven days of jail time with credit for time served, meaning that she was allowed to go home Friday. The judge did sentence her, however, to six to 12 months in prison if she violated her probation.

“I think that your choices before birth, during birth, and after show a grotesque disregard for life. And I think when I look at this case that to me, is what offends the community sensibilities. But because of policy decisions that are beyond my purview, the jury was not permitted to consider those things,” Oda said. “And neither am I.”

In 2017, Richardson, then 18, delivered her baby, alone and at home, and then buried the infant’s remains in her family’s backyard, according to authorities. When Richardson went to a doctor for birth control two months later, she told doctors what she had done and they called police.

During her trial, prosecutors maintained that she didn’t want to be an 18-year-old single mother so when she gave birth, just days after attending her senior prom, she killed the baby and buried her — never telling a soul.

But, her defense lawyers argued that the baby, who was named Annabelle, was stillborn at delivery.

In police interrogation video presented in court, Richardson could be seen telling investigators in July 2017 that she did not hear a cry or a whimper and that the baby’s eyes were closed.

Oda said Friday he believed Richardson’s version of events.

“In all of this mess that we have with this case, I think what often gets overlooked, Miss Richardson, is just how precious life is. Your life. Annabel’s life. Life is precious, and it should be protected. And it should be guarded in all respects,” he later said.

On Thursday, a Warren County jury found Richardson not guilty of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. She was found guilty of abuse of a corpse.

She faced up to a year in prison on that conviction.

The family of the baby’s father, Trey Johnson, had sought the remains of Annabelle. They were instead given to Richardson’s family.

The judge said that both families should be permitted to visit Annabelle’s burial site.

“As hard as I’ve tried to find the right word to describe — broken, shattered, destroyed — none of them seem to fit the amount of pain I’ve felt,” Trey Johnson’s mother, Tracy Johnson, told the court Friday during the sentencing hearing.

She reminded the court that not only had she lost her first grandchild, but that her son had lost his first child.

“And, Skyler had no intention of ever letting us know,” she said. “I find out from watching her interviews with detectives and her parents that not only did she know from the very beginning that Trey was the father, but also that she tried to secure her remains and plan on burying her without any of us ever knowing,” she said. “My friends and family will tell you I’ve become withdrawn, cut off in a shell of the outgoing person I’ve always been.”

Tracy Johnson said Friday that she would have taken the baby in and raised her “with no questions.”

“Instead, I get to send two balloons to heaven with notes telling her how much her daddy loves her, how much I love her,” Tracy Johnson said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Gun deaths of St. Louis children rise to 22 as 3-year-old shoots self in head

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iStock(ST. LOUIS) — A 3-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed himself in the St. Louis area, bringing the total number of children killed in gun-related incidents in the St. Louis metropolitan area to 22 so far this year, according to a count by the Associated Press.

The St. Louis County Police Department charged the boy’s father Friday with one count of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree. Rodney March II, 28, is being held on a $100,000 cash bond.

March left a loaded .40 caliber Glock within reach of the boy and the child, who shared his father’s name, was able to get the gun and shoot himself in the head Thursday, police said in a statement to ABC News.

“Ladies and gentlemen it is tragic any time we lose somebody in any manner. Certainly more tragic when we lose somebody to gunfire. And it is certainly beyond the pale and heartbreaking when we lose a child anywhere in the communities we live in,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said during a press conference on Thursday.

“So this is heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking for the family, for those involved and I will tell you, that it’s also heartbreaking for the police officers who are involved in this,” Belmar said at the press conference.

The incident happened at the boy’s home and he was then driven to the hospital by his mother. While en route, the mother flagged down police for help.

County police said they quickly began to administer medical assistance to the boy and then moved him into one of their vehicles before rushing him to a local hospital. While one officer was driving, the department said the other officer tried to administer life-saving treatment to the child. The child was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The toddler was not the only child to be shot to death in the St. Louis metro area on Thursday. Authorities said 13-year-old Clifford Swan III was killed Thursday night. Police have arrested an 18-year-old man suspected in the killing, but have not released the suspect’s name.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

'Hard Times': Why Sheryl Crow believes America needs to watch Ken Burns' new 'Country Music' film

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PBS

Noted filmmaker Ken Burns traces the history of Country Music — along with the history of America — in his new sixteen-hour documentary that premieres Sunday on PBS.

For Nashville-based rocker Sheryl Crow, it’s a connection that’s easy to see.

“I think the journey of country artists and the journey of American musicians at large paints an incredible picture of who we were at our best and who we were at our worst, and how we overcame a lot,” she says. 

“With regard to country music and blues…I think there is an overlap there — and mountain music — you can really get a clear picture of what it means to overcome,” Crow adds. “And we need more of that.”

Burns’ thoughtful evaluation of events profiles how music brought the U.S. together during some of its most troubled times. Sheryl believes that’s a message that’s more important now than ever.

“Oh my goodness!” she reacts. “Listen, I am a tried and true proponent of introducing young people to our history.”

Sheryl goes on: “I think at this moment, we need to understand who we were before now, and how far we’ve gotten away from it, and what it means to fight for the things you believe in.  And what it means to hear each other, and what it means to disagree and still live together peacefully and respectfully.”

Sheryl’s new collaborative album, Threads, weaves together contributions from country artists like Maren Morris, Chris Stapleton, Vince Gill, and Willie Nelson alongside other greats like Stevie Nicks, Sting, James Taylor and Mavis Staples.

The first installment of Country Music, titled “The Rub” (Beginnings – 1933), premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on PBS, with “Hard Times” (1933-1945) following on Monday. The series continues on subsequent nights before wrapping up on September 25.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

'Friends' co-creator talks titles, pants, and "PIVOT"

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A “Friends” fan PIVOTS at Friends25 popup in NYC/ABC Radio(NEW YORK) — With the upcoming 25th anniversary of Friends, Entertainment Weekly‘s new issue is looking back at the sitcom with co-creator David Crane.

“We always felt that the strength of the show was that it wasn’t just jokes,” Crane says. “It was really about caring about these six people in an emotional way, even when it was funny. If it were just really good jokes, I don’t think we would have been there as long as we were.”

Fans of Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey know every show for 10 seasons had a pretty self-explanatory title, like “The One Where No One’s Ready,” which now comes in pretty handy when trying to find that special episode for streaming. 

Of course, streaming back then was for liquid, not TV shows. Crane had a simpler explanation: “Let’s cut to the chase.”

As with many shows, Friends‘ writers found their lives being adapted for the gang’s goings on. For example, writer Adam Chase made the mistake of buying a pair of leather pants.

“The rest of us took it from there after giving him a really hard time about his leather pants,” Crane recalls; that grief was transferred to David Schwimmer’s Ross. 

One moment the show’s fans loved was Ross’ yelling “PIVOT!” as he, Chandler, and Rachel struggled to lift a couch up a narrow staircase. While the apartments on Friends were impossibly spacious for 20-somethings in Manhattan, the staircase WAS Big Apple accurate.

“They all lived in those apartments, but try to get a couch up a flight of stairs!” Crane says. “That’s where we captured the New York we actually lived in.”

The scene was so memorable that the designers of the Friends25 pop-up experience recreated the staircase and couch, so fans can Instagram their own “PIVOT!” moments.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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