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Judge recommends man arrested by disgraced ex-Houston officer be declared innocent

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iStock(HOUSTON) — A Texas judge has recommended that a man who was convicted based on allegedly false evidence from a disgraced former Houston police officer be declared innocent, prosecutors said.

Judge Ramona Franklion ordered that Otis Mallet be declared innocent on Monday after prosecutors and defense attorneys submitted a joint filing, claiming the case against him had been built on false claims made by former Houston Police Department Officer Gerald Goines.

“Mr. Mallet’s case is significant because it appears that Mr. Goines was operating outside of the law for more than a decade,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement. “There’s no telling how many cases like this may be out there.”

Mallet was convicted in 2011 after Goines claimed he’s participated in a drug deal. Goines testified that Mallet and his brother sold him crack cocaine for $200 in 2008 while he working as an undercover narcotics officer.

Prosecutors said Goines’ testimony was “the cornerstone” of the case against Mallet, although four neighbors disputed the story in court.

Mallet was convicted based on the officer’s testimony and has served two years of an eight-year sentence.

Prosecutors decided to reopen the case last month when Goines was indicted on charges of felony murder and tampering with a government record in connection. The charges stemmed from a botched drug raid that left two people dead and four officers wounded.

Upon re-examining the case against Mallet, prosecutors found that Goines had repeatedly lied about nearly every aspect of his testimony, according to court records.

Ogg said thousands of cases could come under scrutiny in light of the charges against Goines.

“Now we know Mr. Goines was lying and using the district attorney’s office as a tool to convict people wrongfully more than a decade ago,” Ogg said in a statement. “This case also raises questions about how buy-money was being issued by the Houston Police Department’s narcotics division, and how drug payouts were being supervised and audited.”

Nicole DeBorde, Goines’ attorney, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, but she told the Houston Chronicle that Ogg’s actions were a “media stunt.”

“The DA’s office is using this as way to bolster their position in the other case,” she said.

Mallet’s case will now go to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for review.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Weinstein accuser breaks down on stand as judge ends testimony

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iStock(NEW YORK) — A New York judge ended testimony early on Monday when a witness who claims Harvey Weinstein raped her became overwrought with emotion detailing her relationship with the disgraced Hollywood mogul on the witness stand at the start of her fifth hour of cross-examination.

Weinstein is charged with raping the woman in a New York City hotel in March 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on another woman, Mimi Haleyi, in 2006.

Monday’s witness is not being named by ABC News because she says she is the victim of sexual assault and has not publicly identified herself, as some of the other witnesses have.

The witness acknowledged under cross-examination that after the alleged 2013 attack she had breakfast with Weinstein and two of her friends that morning, then went to a meeting with one of his staffers and ended the day by meeting him at a movie premiere.

The next day, she met with Weinstein and his daughter in another hotel lobby on his birthday, according to her testimony.

Last week, under direct examination, the woman testified that she had engaged in consensual sexual relationship with Weinstein both before and after the March 2013 alleged attack — as well as a subsequent attack she detailed nine months later at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles, for which Weinstein is not charged.

In that incident, she testified that Weinstein violently raped her after she told him she was dating an actor, demanding the sex by telling her beforehand “you owe me one more time” and afterward telling her, “Now you can go and have your relationship and what you can do is bring me other girls.”

Weinstein is charged with a total of five felony counts. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and denied ever engaging in nonconsensual sex.

During a daylong cross-examination, defense attorney Donna Rotunno zeroed in on the witness’ previous testimony that she was never romantically or sexually interested in Weinstein — who was more than twice her age when he allegedly raped her.

“Every time you reached out to Mr. Weinstein and made it sound like you wanted to see him, you were acting?” Rotunno asked.

“I wanted him to believe I wasn’t a threat,” the witness replied.

At times the witness’ responses to direct questions were vague.

Noting that the witness only got one substantial audition — in 2013 — from her connection to Weinstein, Rotunno asked, “So you stuck around for the rest of 2013 [and through] 2016, because you thought he was grotesque and you didn’t want to have sexual relations with him?”

“I engaged with my abuser because of what I believed in my mind and the perception of the society we live in that I was OK and something wasn’t going to happen to me,” she responded.

At another point, Rotunno asked her, “You manipulated Mr. Weinstein every single time, isn’t that correct?”

“I felt there was an aspect to the way I felt I needed to protect myself that had an element of manipulation,” the witness responded.

At another point, the witness explained that “to understand what I say, you have to understand my perspective and my beliefs and that’s not something I’ve really been allowed to dive into.” She testified last week that she was raised in what she described as a Christian “cult.”

It wasn’t until 4 p.m, as her fifth hour of cross-examination was beginning, that she finally got the chance to dive into that part of her thinking.

Throughout her testimony, the witness described a complicated relationship with Weinstein in which she said initially consented to mutual oral sex because she felt sorry for him, but ultimately felt degraded and abused and ultimately ended the relationship in 2016.

She testified on Monday that “oftentimes before we engaged in something sexual, there was a negotiation. … The more I realized I was feeling like I was just being used, I tried not to have sexual encounters with him and we’d get into this back and forth … I wanted to reduce what he wanted from me.”

At another point during Rotunno’s cross-examination, the witness acknowledged that she arranged with Weinstein to meet her mother.

“This is after you claim Mr. Weinstein raped you in New York, and after [the incident at the] Peninsula?”

The witness acknowledged that it was, saying that her mother was badgering her to meet Weinstein, but had no idea of either their consensual sexual relationship or the witness’ claim that Weinstein raped her.

“You made a choice to have sexual encounters with Harvey Weinstein when you weren’t attracted to him,” Rotunno charged at another point. “You liked going to parties, you liked the power and you liked the opportunities.”

“That’s your version,” the witness replied.

In a dramatic May 2014 email to a boyfriend she had been dating during some of the time she said she was also with Weinstein, the witness explained to the boyfriend that, like Weinstein, her father had dated “women younger than me.”

“Harvey validated me in ways my parents never did. My parents would never invest in me like that. …Harvey was my father’s age and he gave me all the validation I needed,” she said.

She said she continued to engage in consensual sexual relations with Weinstein after she claims he raped her because, “I played into sexual dynamics simply to feel I would never be taken advantage of again.”

Upon reading a line from an email to the boyfriend, the witness began to sob and struggled to compose herself without success.

A break was called by the judge, but several minutes later the witness returned to tell prosecutors she was having a panic attack and the judge ended her testimony for the day. It will resume Tuesday morning.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

"In Case You Didn't Know," Brett Young shared a new song about his wife and daughter

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ABC/Mark LevineDuring the launch of his Chapters Tour, Brett Young debuted a sentimental new song in honor of two important women in his life

Brett visited three states in three days during the opening weekend of the tour, beginning in Knoxville, Tennessee, traveling to Toledo, Ohio and then performing at the iconic Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. He used the live shows as an opportunity to share a new song called “Lady,” written about his three-month-old daughter Presley and wife Taylor Mills Young

The song begins with Brett recalling the first time he heard his daughter’s heartbeat when his wife was eight weeks pregnant.  The second verse tells his daughter that her mom is the one who will dry her tears, no matter what’s caused them.

“I hope you look just like your mama/And love her like I do/If you watch her every move/You can always run to daddy/You’ll always be my baby/But look at her/Baby girl/And you’ll learn how to be a lady,” he declares in the chorus. 

Brett and Taylor welcomed Presley in October of 2019.

The country crooner continues on the Chapters Tour through May, before joining Jason Aldean‘s We Back Tour as an opening act in the summer.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

One dead, several in critical condition after students struck by car: Police

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iStock(MOORE, Okla.) — Six high-school students were struck by a car in Moore, Oklahoma, Monday afternoon, leaving one dead and three in critical condition, according to police.

The suspect, a male adult driving a red pickup truck, did not stop after the crash, according to a Moore police spokesman. The driver, who is now in custody, hit multiple vehicles before and after striking the students.

Police took blood to determine if the suspect was intoxicated and are still waiting for those results.

At this time there is no known motive, police said.

“We got special people that live and go to school here in Moore,” Dustin Horstkoetter, a director with the school district, said Monday at a press conference. “And to see kids and coaches giving first aid and helping their classmates and their students … we live a good community.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

First openly gay federal judge dead at 72

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iStock(NEW YORK) — The first openly gay judge appointed to a U.S. federal court died Sunday, according to court officials and colleagues.

Judge Deborah Batts, 72, presided over the bench at Southern District of New York since 1994 and oversaw major cases including the criminal trial against al-Qaida member Mamdouh Mahmud Salim and the defamation lawsuit filed against Bill O’Reilly. A spokeswoman for Fordham University School of Law, where Batts taught for over 30 years, said she died in her sleep.

Batts was slated to preside over the upcoming federal trial of Michael Avenatti over his alleged theft of Stormy Daniels’ book advance.

She was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1969. Three years later, Batts earned her law degree from Harvard, where she served on the editorial board of the school’s Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

After graduation, she worked as a judicial clerk in the Southern District of New York and then spent a few years in the private sector. In 1979, Batts became an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York and began teaching at Fordham Law in 1984.

Matthew Diller, the dean of Fordham Law School, called Batts a beloved member of the school’s community.

“Since joining the federal bench, we have been fortunate to hold on to her as a superb teacher of trial advocacy and a dear friend. She was a mentor to students and faculty alike. We will miss her sharp sense of humor and the joy that she took in life,” he said in a statement.

Batts worked for New York City’s Department of Investigation from 1990 to 1991 as “special associate counsel” and from 1990 to 1994 served as a commissioner in the New York Law Revision Commission.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton nominated Batts to serve as the United States District Judge for the Southern District and she was sworn in on June 23, 1994, becoming the first female black LGBT federal judge in the nation. Batts was named senior judge of the Southern District Court on April 13, 2012, her 65th birthday.

Harvard Law School honored her work in 2001 with an official portrait painted by Simmie Knox. Batts married Dr. Gwen Lois Zornberg, a New York psychiatrist, in 2011.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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