TTR News Center

4 teens in deadly Michigan highway rock-throwing case to be sentenced as adults, judge rules

No Comments

Courtesy Aimee Cagle(NEW YORK) —  A judge in Michigan has ruled that four teens who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2017 highway rock-throwing incident that led to the death of Kenneth White will be sentenced as adults.

In July 2018, when the teens’ lawyers entered pleas for Mark Sekelsky, Alexander Miller, Trevor Gray and McKayden Payne, they’d included a proposal for juvenile sentencing.

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Farah rejected that request during Tuesday’s hearing. Instead, he gave the teens and their lawyers until Aug. 20 to accept being sentenced as adults, reject his revision to the plea agreement and try to negotiate a new one or head to trial. The teens could choose their options as a group or individuals.

Farah rejected the advice of every professional juvenile expert who testified at the sentencing hearing in the fall, all of whom had recommended juvenile sentencing. In court Tuesday, he said that while none of the four teens had dropped the fatal rock, Farah repeatedly said that not one had been forced or cajoled to be there.

“The seriousness of the alleged offense is as high as it gets,” he said in the court Tuesday. “This is a homicide.”

Theresa Simpson, White’s mother, said on Tuesday after the hearing that she was pleased with the judge’s decision.

“I’m so glad that Kenneth is getting the justice he deserves. … My prayers were answered,” Simpson told ABC News affiliate WXYZ-TV in Detroit. “I’m ecstatic over the decision that was made today. … It’s what we all wanted for him.”

On Oct. 18, 2017, at about 8:30 p.m., White and his friend Steve Amthor were driving home from work, heading south on I-75 at about 70 mph in a van. Amthor said he saw a large rock coming toward the vehicle, in which White was the passenger, authorities told ABC News.

The rock, according to Amthor, entered the passenger side through the windshield, hitting White, 32, in the face and then ricocheted from his face to his chest, authorities said. About 20 rocks were found strewn on the highway, police said.

In court Tuesday, Farah referred to two days of exchanged SnapChat messages among the teens in which “the letters ‘LOL,’ ‘LMAO’ or ‘HAHA’ appear … and many after it was learned that they had killed somebody.”

“We could possibly go to prison for life from this,” Farah read from the messages in court. “You guys knew what could’ve happened. And, if we do get caught — which we won’t — it’s our own fault. LOL. We gotta take our punishment. Lay low for a while and everything will be fine.”

Farah said that after it was reported in the news that White had died, the conversation between the teens on SnapChat then turned to getting teardrop tattoos to commemorate the crying of White’s family.

“Well, maybe, we should (get) tattoos with ‘Crip Gang’ next to the tattoo,” the judge read.

Farah said the rock that killed White was not the only item tossed from the overpass by the teens. He said that tire irons, mufflers and even a shopping cart had been thrown as well though at different times and at different locations.

“What was the purpose? Wait till the road cleared and drop to see it break? No. (It was) to make contact in this (game) called ‘Overpassing.’ To be able to say aloud ‘Dinger!’ when a car was hit,” he said.

A fifth suspect — Kyle Anger who was 18 at the time — is the one accused of throwing the actual rock that killed White. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for other charges being dropped. He is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date.

All five teens had been originally charged as adults with second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, six felony counts of malicious destruction of property and two misdemeanor counts of malicious destruction of property.

Lawyers for the teens said they were disappointed with the judge’s ruling.

“We’re back to the drawing board. Each one of the four boys has a mechanism within that plea that they have the option to withdraw the plea should the court not have granted juvenile sentencing. So the court made its decision, not granting juvenile sentencing, and I’m sure all the lawyers are gonna go back to the drawing board,” said lawyer Michael Manley.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tennessee neighbors form human chain to prevent ICE from arresting father in driveway

No Comments

Nashville Noticias(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Neighbors in the outskirts of Nashville prevented immigration officials from detaining a man in his driveway, and then formed a human chain to allow the man and his son to return to their home.

The man and his 12-year-old son were sitting in a van outside their home in the neighborhood of Hermitage when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrived. The man and the boy refused to get out of the van — and that’s when neighbors stepped in to help, according to video posted on social media.

The neighbors brought gas, food and water, and then formed a human chain so the father and son could get inside their home without being stopped by the ICE agents.

The agents eventually left without arresting the man, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.

It was the second incident in just a few days in which ICE agents appeared to try to take people from their cars into custody, even though it is unclear the agency has that authority. In the other incident, on Sunday in Los Angeles, a neighbor also intervened — taking video of the incident on her cellphone.

Both incidents also come in the wake of an announcement by the Trump administration that it planned to increase the pace of deportations.

In Sunday’s incident, a woman was pulled out of her car by ICE agents in unmarked vehicles on a street in the Echo Park neighborhood.

When a neighbor, Alicia Rivera, saw what was happening, she pulled out her phone and began documenting the arrest. At one point, she tried to block the agents’ vehicle to stop them from driving away with the woman in the back seat.

“Show me the order,” Rivera is heard saying in the video. “…You can’t take her. It’s not signed by the judge.”

The agents then left the woman’s car in the middle of the street with its hazard lights on and took the keys, Rivera told ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV.

Rivera identified the woman as a mother of two and told KABC-TV the woman’s partner and children are “devastated” over her arrest.

ICE did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News about either incident. Neither of the two individuals have been publicly identified.

After the Los Angeles incident, the agency told KABC-TV: “Congress has established no process, requirement, or expectation directing ICE to seek a judicial warrant from already overburdened federal courts before taking custody of an alien on civil immigration violations. This idea is simply a figment created by those who wish to undermine immigration enforcement and excuse the ill-conceived practices of sanctuary jurisdictions that put politics before public safety.”

A spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles told ABC News that the organization has spoken to the woman and evaluating how it might assist her.

CHIRLA attorney Yolanda Martin told KABC-TV that ICE agents cannot pull over a car unless they have reasonable suspicion that the person is undocumented.

 After the incident in Nashville, police there put out a statement, saying officers learned that the ICE agents were trying to serve a detainer on the man, they were instructed to “not be involved in the service of the detainer, but to stand by from a distance to keep the peace if necessary,” police said.

Nashville police said when ICE had attempted to pull the van over when it instead pulled into a driveway on Forest Ridge Drive.

“The caller said the driver was sitting in the van and was not getting out,” the statement read. “He requested the police department’s assistance, but did not specify what he wanted the police department to do.”

Video posted by Facebook group Nashville Noticias shows at least a dozen people surrounding the van while holding hands. Soon after the chain was formed, the man’s son was seen getting out of the passenger seat to go inside the home.

“We were going to hold it down as long as the police were here,” Felishadae Young, neighbor who participated in the human chain, told ABC Nashville affiliate WKRN-TV. “We were going to be out here just as long.”

The boy’s mother was seen in video thanking the volunteers for helping the family.

Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, policy director for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, told WKRN-TV that people “have to look very closely” at the document when ICE agents say they have a warrant because they are “often signed by an ICE agent,” rather than a judge, so it is not legally binding.

The organization responded to the family’s home on Monday morning after hearing about what had happened, WKRN-TV reported.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Bodies of missing North Carolina men found, homicide suspected: Police

No Comments

Raleigh Police Department (RALEIGH, N.C.) — Police in North Carolina have found the bodies of two men they believe were killed by two suspects who have been charged with their deaths.

James Daishawn Robinson, 21, and Ryan Craig Veach, 19, were charged on Saturday with two counts of murder in the deaths of 23-year-old Brendan Hurley and 21-year-old Anthony McCall, according to the the Raleigh Police Department.

A third person, an unidentified juvenile, was charged with accessory after the fact to the murder, according to police.

Police have not said how the men were killed or commented on any possible motive.

“Through investigative means, detectives were able to locate the body of Brendan Hurley in Johnston County on Saturday,” police told ABC News. “A second body was discovered in Nash County today.”

Hurley and McCall were last seen on July 16 and were reported missing the following day.

An unidentified man who called police said that Hurley went over to a friend’s house the night before but hadn’t been seen since, according to a recording of the call.

“He was supposed to pick me up at 9 p.m. He has not. He’s gone and he didn’t show up for work,” the caller said.

He called Hurley a “very responsible young man.”

“I need to make a report that he’s missing and something is wrong,” he added.

Hurley left behind a 2-year-old daughter.

“It’s so sad too because she’s not going to see her dad by a choice that wasn’t given to her,” Laura Hurley, the victim’s mom, told Raleigh ABC affiliate WTVD Monday. “She’s two and now it’s going to be up to us to make sure that she knows who he was and how much he loved her. And it’s so unfair. It’s so unfair what everybody is feeling, friends, families.”

McCall’s father, Mark, told the station that Hurley picked up his son around 6:30 p.m. on July 16 to head to McCall’s mother’s house to let her dogs out.

It was the last time the two men were seen.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Driver indicted exactly 1 year after 3-year-old boy died from being left on scorching hot bus: DA

No Comments

ABC News, FILE(HOUSTON) —  Exactly one year after a 3-year-old boy died from being left on scorching hot bus outside a Houston day care, the driver of the bus was indicted, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Former bus driver Maurice Mitchell, 62, was indicted Friday and arrested Tuesday for injury to a child by recklessly causing serious bodily injury or death — a second-degree felony — according to the Harris County District Attorney’s office.

On July 19, 2018, 3-year-old Raymond “R.J.” Pryer Jr. was left on a hot bus for several hours after the bus returned to a day care from a field trip.

When R.J.’s father went to pick him up from day care that day, he found the 3-year-old unresponsive in the 113-degree bus, authorities said at the time.

Mitchell had allegedly “disengaged a passenger safety alarm, which was to safeguard young passengers from being left behind,” without first looking through the bus to make sure kids weren’t left there, prosecutors said in a statement.

R.J.’s parents filed a lawsuit against the day care which has since had its operating license revoked, according to ABC Houston station KTRK-TV.

A memorial bench dedicated to R.J. was unveiled on Saturday at Doss Park, where the 3-year-old had been on the field trip the day he died, said prosecutors.

Hot car deaths reached a record level last year with at least 52 children killed, including R.J., according to national nonprofit KidsAndCars.org.

“As the summer heat intensifies, we should honor R.J.’s memory by ensuring no more children are left in hot vehicles,” Harris County Assistant District Attorney Michele Oncken said in a statement.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Classmate in custody for allegedly killing Ole Miss student Alexandria 'Ally' Kostial: Officials

No Comments

iStock(OXFORD, Miss.) — A 22-year-old Texas man is in custody in connection with the killing of an Ole Miss classmate whose body was discovered over the weekend, authorities said Tuesday.

Brandon Theesfeld was arrested Monday for the murder of Alexandria “Ally” Kostial, 21, according to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office.

Theesfeld “was a student in the School of Business Administration and has been suspended from the university,” school spokesman Rod Guajardo told ABC News via email.

Deputies were on a routine patrol Saturday at 10:30 a.m. when they found Kostial’s body in Harmontown, Mississippi, about 30 miles from Ole Miss, according to the sheriff’s office.

Her cause of death has not been released.

It was not immediately clear how Theesfeld allegedly knew Kostial, if at all.

Theesfeld, shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, made an initial court appearance Tuesday.

He did not enter a plea.

Kostial was from St. Louis and was studying marketing at the University of Mississippi’s School of Business Administration, according to the sheriff’s office and the university.

She had been attending summer school, according to her father.

Kostial was also a fitness instructor at the campus recreation center and a former member of the Alpha Phi sorority, said Kassidy Desnoyer, her friend from high school and college.

“She spent her summers going on mission trips. She cared about people and just wanted to help,” Desnoyer told ABC News on Tuesday. “She was the brightest light I’ve ever came across.”

A statement from Alpha Phi said: “The Alpha Phi community is grieving the loss of Ally Kostial, and we send our deepest sympathies to her family during this incredibly difficult time. We hope that the Alpha Phi sisters who knew Ally best can find peace and comfort as they reflect on the lasting impact she made on the lives of her family members and friends.”

“We are truly saddened by the death of Alexandria Kostial,” University of Mississippi Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks said in a statement on Monday.

“Ally was a valued member of our campus community,” Sparks said. “We extend our deepest sympathy to her family, friends, and classmates, and stand ready to support them during this time.”

Before attending Ole Miss, Kostial graduated in 2016 from Lindbergh High School in St. Louis, according to the school district.

“Our hearts are broken for the Kostials, and we extend our deepest sympathies to her entire family during this time,” Lindbergh Schools spokeswoman Beth Johnston told ABC News via email on Monday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

%d bloggers like this: