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Former police officer to go on trial for killing neighbor in apartment mix-up

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Marilyn Nieves/iStock(DALLAS) — In a homicide case that sparked days of protests in Dallas and calls for justice from the victim’s family in the Caribbean, a former police officer is expected to go on trial Monday, accused of fatally shooting a 26-year-old unarmed black man after mistaking his apartment for her own and wrongly suspecting he was a burglar.

Amber Guyger, who is white and a former Dallas police officer, is charged with murder stemming from the Sept. 6, 2018, fatal shooting of Botham “Bo” Jean at the South Side Flats apartment complex in Dallas.

“Anytime you bring a case against a police officer it’s difficult anywhere in the country because there’s so much automatic credibility given to law enforcement officers,” Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Jean’s loved ones, told ABC News on Sunday.

Merritt said he is hoping the judge presiding over the case rejects Guyger’s attempt to use Texas’s Castle Doctrine as a defense. Similar to Florida’s “stand your ground” law, the Castle Doctrine allows people to use lethal force to defend themselves from harm that presents itself in the comfort of their own home.

“Of course that’s tricky because we know Amber Guyger was not in her own home,” Merritt said.

He said if the judge refuses to instruct the jury on the Castle Doctrine, Guyger is likely to be convicted.

Opening arguments in the case are expected to begin Monday after a jury was picked earlier this month to hear the case.

Jean’s family, including his parents, brother and sister, are expected to hold a prayer vigil on the steps of the Dallas courthouse Monday morning before the trial begins, Merritt said.

“We’re hoping to see a diverse jury that’s able to critically analyze testimony from law enforcement officers,” Merritt said.

Guyger, 31, was fired from the Dallas Police Department 18 days after she fatally shot Jean. She had been a member of the department for four years.

She told investigators she arrived home about 10 p.m. after working a 15-hour shift and parked her car on the fourth floor of the building instead of the third floor, which corresponded to her apartment, according to an arrest warrant affidavit by investigators from the Texas Rangers, a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Guyger’s apartment was directly beneath Jean’s fourth-floor unit.

“Guyger entered the building and walked down the fourth-floor hallway to what she thought was her apartment,” according to the arrest warrant. “She inserted a unique door key, with an electronic chip, into the door keyhole. The door, which was slightly ajar prior to Guyger’s arrival, fully opened under the force of the key insertion.”

When the door opened, she saw a “large silhouette” in the nearly completely dark apartment and believed it was a burglar, according to the warrant.

Guyger told investigators she drew her firearm, gave verbal commands that were ignored and fired twice, hitting Jean, who lived alone, in the torso, according to the document.

She was still in her uniform at the time of the shooting.

“Due to the interior darkness of the apartment, Guyger turned on the interior lights while on the phone with 911. Upon being asked where she was located by emergency dispatchers, Guyger returned to the front door to observe the address and discovered she was at the wrong apartment,” according to the arrest warrant.

During his funeral, Jean, who was an accountant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, was recalled by mourners as a man of many talents: a strong Christian, a beloved friend, dependable work colleague and a gifted singer. Jean’s uncle said he had aspirations of becoming a politician in his native country of Saint Lucia.

“The sound of gunshots did not have the resonance to be heard on our small island, but their impact was of nuclear proportions,” Jean’s uncle, Ignatius Jean, told mourners at the funeral. “A nuke had been unleashed on our family by someone charged to protect and serve.”

Guyger was initially arrested and charged with manslaughter. But a Dallas County grand jury later indicted her on one count of murder.

Guyger’s defense team had requested a change of venue for the trial, arguing Guyger couldn’t get a fair trial in Dallas County because of the publicity surrounding the case.

A judge rejected the request.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Fort Jackson Army recruit dies preparing for outdoor physical training drill

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JRLPhotographer/iStock(COLUMBIA, S.C.) —  An 18-year-old Army recruit at Fort Jackson died on Friday night following a “medical emergency” before an outdoor physical training exercise, according to a Fort Jackson official.

The unidentified recruit was from central North Carolina and part of the 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry regiment, nicknamed the “River Raiders.”

U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle, Jr., posted a statement to Twitter saying the recruit, “experienced a medical emergency” while preparing to do physical training and that “separate investigations will be taking place to determine the facts behind the incident.”

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“The tragic loss of a Soldier, our nation’s most precious resource, is devastating to the families, friends and teammates,” according to the statement.

Medical responders transported the 18-year-old from Fort Jackson to Providence Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina, where the recruit was pronounced dead shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Friday night. According to a statement on the Fort Jackson Facebook page, Providence Hospital staff reported that the death was not heat related.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own. Our hearts and prayers are with the family members and team mates of the deceased soldier,” said Beagle. “We are providing every comfort and assistance we can to all involved.”

All 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry soldiers-in-training were given the opportunity to call home in the 36 hours following the recruit’s death.

The recruit’s name would not be released until next-of-kin notification is complete. The cause of death is under investigation.

Fort Jackson trains half of the Army’s basic combat recruits with 10,000 soldiers training daily, according to the base’s website.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Viral 'beer money' request reportedly generates $1 million in donations for children's hospital

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Carson King(NEW YORK) —  A college football fan who made a social media plea for “beer money” and turned the humorous request into a fundraising effort for a children’s hospital has now reportedly reached $1 million in donations.

“We just reached a million in total contributions,” Carson King, the man who launched the fundraising effort, tweeted on Sunday, along with “Let’s goooo!” and “We’re not done yet!”

King said the money is being raised through his Venmo account.

It all started as a joke when King, 24, waved a sign that read “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished,” under which he’d scrawled his Venmo handle in black Sharpie, on Sept. 14 during ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

“I thought it would just be a joke,” King told “Good Morning America,” on Friday. “I didn’t think anyone would actually see it.”

 When his Venmo account hit $600, he spoke to his family for advice and decided to change course. He took to social media to announce that after covering the cost of a case of Busch Lite, he would be donating the rest of the proceeds to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

After the “GMA” broadcast, money transfers and donations flooded his Venmo account. Within hours, he’d received more than 2,000 notifications, King told “GMA.”

Busch Beer and Venmo announced on Twitter that they would match King’s donation. As of Friday, King had raised $157,000.

King told “GMA” he intends to keep his Venmo account open for donations as they continue to appear until the end of the month. After that, he will cut a check from the money in his account and present it to the hospital in person, where he will go on a tour of the hospital facilities and get to meet some of the kids who will benefit from the massive donation.

“We can’t think – our minds are blown by this,” tweeted an account which states is the official Twitter account of University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. “Thank you to everyone who helped reach this milestone! We’re so grateful!”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Woman arrested with $6,000 worth of stolen coins in baby stroller, police say

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Bakersfield Police Department (BAKERSFIELD, Calif.) —  Police in Southern California said they were concerned when they saw a woman struggling to push her baby in a stroller, but they got a heck of a surprise when they went to check on her.

Officers in Bakersfield, California, just north of Los Angeles, said they approached the woman to “check her welfare” but they quickly realized that is wasn’t a baby she was struggling with. She was actually totting thousands of dollars in stolen coins from a recent home invasion, according to the Bakersfield Police Department.

Police shared images from the scene via Twitter on Friday, showing the stolen coins, which they alleged she acquired in a burglary.

“Two BPD detectives saw a woman struggling to push a baby stroller,” the department said in a tweet Friday. “They went to check her welfare and discovered the stroller didn’t contain a child… but instead held over 6K in coins taken in a burglary.”

Fritz was arrested on burglary in the first degree, a felony, as well as other charges, including obstructing the peace and possession of a controlled substance, court records show.

She was being held on $65,000 bail as of Sunday afternoon and was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

It’s unclear if Fritz has retained an attorney.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

14-year-old boy fatally shot in Denver in argument over Jordan sneakers: Sister

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aijohn784/iStock(DENVER) — An argument over a pair of Jordan sneakers apparently escalated into a shooting in Denver that left a 14-year-old boy dead and his juvenile friend in custody, police and the victim’s sister said.

Treaujalaune ‘”Trey” Lornes, a high school freshman, was killed on Wednesday afternoon at a home in Denver, police said.

A spokesman for the Denver Police Department confirmed to ABC News on Sunday that a juvenile was arrested in connection with the fatal shooting, but declined to release further details because the suspect is a minor.

But Lornes’ sister, Tyquajanna Lornes, told ABC affiliate station KMGH-TV in Denver, that police informed her family that an argument over a pair of Jordan sneakers apparently prompted the killing.

“My brother got shot on the stairs in the house, and now they’re saying that it’s not over a gun, it was over a pair of shoes! It was over a pair of shoes!” the sister said.

She said her brother and his friends were at a car wash near their school, Washington High School, on Wednesday when an argument broke out over a pair of Jordan sneakers and continued at the home of one of the youngsters.

Police confirmed the shooting occurred inside a Denver home around 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

The suspect, whose name and age were not immediately released, was taken into custody on suspicion of manslaughter, second-degree assault, three counts of felony menacing, attempting to influence public officials and being a juvenile in possession of a handgun.

Formal charges against the suspect are pending a review of the case by the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Officials at the district attorney’s office could not be immediately reached for comment on Sunday.

Tyquajanna Lornes told KMGH that the boy who shot her brother initially blamed the killing on someone else.

“The boy that sat there with him and watched him die, and watched him go, when he should have died at home with us, killed him,” she said.

She said she spoke to the suspect’s mother prior to his arrest.

“She told me, ‘My son feels so bad. He cries every night and tells me that he sees Trey all over again every time he goes to sleep.’ But to wake up this morning and know that you were the one that did that to him…,” she said shaking her head.

Tyquajanna Lornes said her brother dreamed of one day playing professional basketball and earning enough money to take care of his entire family.

“He was sweet,” she said tearfully. “He was a baby.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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