Tag Archives: judge

Judge denies motion to toss confession in Cecily Aguilar trial

WACO, Texas (KTRK) — After a hearing that lasted almost four hours, a judge in Texas denied a motion requested by Cecily Aguilar, the woman accused of helping dismember and hide the body of Fort Hood Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, asking that her confession be thrown out.

Aguilar was charged in July 2020 for her alleged role in Guillen’s death. She was the girlfriend of the main suspect in the case, 20-year-old Aaron Robinson, an Army Specialist who was named a person of interest.

In March 2021, she asked a federal judge to toss her confession, saying it was taken illegally. On Wednesday, a judge disagreed, saying she provided the information voluntarily.

According to federal court documents, officers did not read Aguilar her Miranda rights at the start of an interrogation that took place on June 30, 2020. The documents state Aguilar was being questioned about Robinson.

You can read all 27 pages of the court records here.

ABC13’s Steve Campion was the only Houston reporter at her court appearance in Waco. For the first time, video of Aguilar’s conversation with investigators was revealed.

The 22-year-old is seen on camera saying, “I’m ready to get this **** over with” before sitting down to speak with them.

Aguilar’s public defenders have not spoken publicly about the case. Eyewitness News also learned that Aguilar told investigators Robinson forced her to participate in the crime saying he held a gun to her head and demanded her to go to the Leon River that evening in April.

Aguilar also claims her phone was taken away and that officers did not tell her anything she said could be held against her in court.

READ ALSO: Gruesome details in report show how Vanessa Guillen may have been killed

Aguilar reportedly helped lead law enforcement to Robinson, before he was confronted and killed himself.

Meanwhile, dozens of people surrounded the court house in support of Vanessa’s family.

“She knows how hard this is for me to be actually, like, sitting there, and it’s going to get even harder,” said Vanessa’s sister, Mayra Guillen. “There’s so many more things that … they just told us that we’re going to see, and whether we will to sit there or not. I want to know everything. I want to know the truth. I want to know what happened, what they did to my sister. I feel like that’s the fuel that keeps me going.”

WATCH: Suspect in Vanessa Guillen case had ‘no remorse’ in court, attorney says

If convicted, Aguilar faces up to 20 years in prison with a maximum $ 250,000 fine.

“I just watched that demeanor, I watched those tapes and I just realized, you know what? We’re dealing with a very bad person here and hopefully, she’ll get the punishment she deserves,” said Guillen’s family attorney, Natalie Khawam.

COVERAGE ON VANESSA GUILLEN INVESTIGATION:
Why you may never see video of Vanessa Guillen’s killer in his last moments
Army determines Vanessa Guillen’s death was ‘in the line of duty’
Army officials reveal new details in Vanessa Guillen case
Timeline offers look at tragedy and legacy of Ft. Hood soldier
New Vanessa Guillen mural created to fundraise money for family

For updates on this story, follow Steve Campion on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: Steve Campion

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

California Assault Weapons Ban Overturned by Federal Judge

A federal judge in California on Friday overturned the state’s three-decade-old ban on assault weapons, which he called a “failed experiment,” prompting a sharp retort from the state’s governor.

California prohibited the sale of assault weapons in 1989. The law was challenged in a suit filed in 2019 against the state’s attorney general by plaintiffs including James Miller, a California resident, and the San Diego County Gun Owners, a political action committee.

The judge, Roger T. Benitez of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, wrote that sections of the state’s penal code that defined assault weapons and restricted their use were “hereby declared unconstitutional and shall be enjoined.”

But the judge said he had granted a 30-day stay of the ruling at the request of Attorney General Rob Bonta, a move that would allow Mr. Bonta to appeal it.

Judge Benitez wrote that the case was about “what should be a muscular constitutional right and whether a state can force a gun policy choice that impinges on that right with a 30-year-old failed experiment.”

“It should be an easy question and answer,” Judge Benitez, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, continued. “Government is not free to impose its own new policy choices on American citizens where constitutional rights are concerned.”

The judge wrote that the firearms banned under the state’s law were not “bazookas, howitzers or machine guns,” but rather “fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles.”

In a statement late Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom called the ruling “a direct threat to public safety and the lives of innocent Californians.”

Mr. Newsom also criticized the opening lines of Judge Benitez’s decision, in which he wrote that, like a Swiss Army knife, the AR-15 assault rifle “is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.”

The AR-15 re-entered the American gun market in 2004 after the end of a federal assault weapons ban. It has a national following among gun owners, but it has also been used in mass shootings and vilified by its critics as a weapon of mass murder.

Mr. Newsom wrote that comparing the gun to a Swiss Army knife “completely undermines the credibility of this decision and is a slap in the face to the families who’ve lost loved ones to this weapon.”

In a separate statement, Mr. Bonta called Judge Benitez’s decision “fundamentally flawed” and vowed to appeal it.

“There is no sound basis in law, fact or common sense for equating assault rifles with Swiss Army knives — especially on Gun Violence Awareness Day and after the recent shootings in our own California communities,” he said.

Gun rights activists celebrated.

Brandon Combs, the president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, a group in Sacramento that helped bring the lawsuit to court, said in a statement that the ruling “held what millions of Americans already know to be true: Bans on so-called ‘assault weapons’ are unconstitutional and cannot stand.”

Alan M. Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, another group that was involved in the lawsuit, said in a statement that the judge’s ruling had “shredded California gun control laws regarding modern semiautomatic rifles.”

“It is clear the judge did his homework on this ruling, and we are delighted with the outcome,” added Mr. Gottlieb, whose group is based in Washington State.

Judge Benitez was appointed as a district court judge in 2003 and confirmed by the Senate the following year.

In 2017, he blocked a new California law that would have banned magazines of more than 10 rounds. A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld his ruling last year in a split decision, but the appeals court said in February that an 11-judge panel would rehear the case.

Some critics of the judge’s latest ruling, including Anthony Rendon, the speaker of the California Assembly, noted an irony: It was handed down on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, an annual project organized by groups that advocate for tougher gun laws.

The ruling is “alarming and wrong,” said Ari Freilich, the state policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a group led by Gabrielle Giffords, the former representative from Arizona who was shot a decade ago. “It’s also an insult to families across the nation, on today of all days, who have seen in the most painful way possible how dangerous and deadly assault weapons are.”

Michael Levenson, Thomas Fuller and Shawn Hubler contributed reporting.

Author: Mike Ives
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

French Open line judge struck in the neck in 'nasty' incident at Roland Garros

A line judge nearly suffered a nasty injury after failing to dodge a powerful serve by Gregoire Barrere in the Frenchman’s defeat to Fabio Fognini on the first day of the French Open.

Barrere was serving during the maiden game of the final set to try to work a way back into the match against the world No 27 Fognini.

The Italian had won the opening two sets 6-4, 6-1 at Roland Garros.

Fognini was leading 15-0 at the start of the third set when Barerre fired a first serve down the court.

The ball was called out by the umpire but continued to fly in the direction of a line judge who failed to move out of the way.

The line judge just about managed to turn her head as the ball struck her in the lower neck region. It drew a wince from the crowd.

JUST IN: Naomi Osaka criticised over media blackout after French Open win

Nadal is in the same half of the draw as both Djokovic and Roger Federer. A potential semi-final between Nadal and Djokovic is possible.

The Spaniard must first beat Australian Alexei Popyrin. Meanwhile, Djokovic faces a first-round match against Tennys Sandgren.

“You can win Roland Garros after winning events before and you can win Roland Garros without winning events before. I want to win events before Roland Garros because I like winning them,” Nadal said before the tournament.

“Of course, it’s easier to win Roland Garros when you have won events in a row before during the clay-court season, as I’ve done throughout my career.

“But at the same time I’m nearly 35 and my situation is a little bit different. The main goal for me is to give myself a chance. I want to give myself chances to be competitive in every single event.”

Djokovic is hoping to win the French Open for just the second time.

The 34-year-old added: “I saw the draw. It’s the first time, I think ever, where Roger, Rafa and myself are in the same half of the draw in any Grand Slam.

“It’s going to be very interesting for sure. Only one of us can make the final. I’m going to obviously do my best to be that guy who reaches the final match.”

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Judge Delays Trial of Three Officers in Death of George Floyd

MINNEAPOLIS — The trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd has been delayed several months to allow for a federal case against them to move forward.

The decision was announced Thursday by Judge Peter A. Cahill during a pretrial hearing for the three former officers, and comes weeks after another former officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of two counts of murder and one of manslaughter for kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.

The three other former officers, who were scheduled to face trial on Aug. 23, will now be tried in March, Judge Cahill said. They face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Two of the officers, all of whom were fired shortly after Mr. Floyd died last May, were rookies at the time: J. Alexander Kueng, 27, who was positioned on Mr. Floyd’s back, and Thomas Lane, 38, who held Mr. Floyd’s legs down. A veteran police officer, Tou Thao, 35, was positioned nearby and kept bystanders, who grew increasingly angry as they watched Mr. Floyd repeatedly say he could not breathe, from intervening.

All four officers were seen in a widely circulated cellphone video taken by a bystander that captured Mr. Floyd’s last moments and reverberated around the world, prompting weeks of social unrest in American cities.

The delay in the second trial will have the effect of allowing a recently announced federal case to move forward, while also putting some distance between the second trial and the enormous publicity generated by Mr. Chauvin’s trial, which was livestreamed and shown on television networks around the world.

“What this trial needs is some distance from all the press that has occurred and is going to occur this summer,” Judge Cahill said in court on Thursday.

Mr. Chauvin’s conviction was handed down April 20, and about two weeks later the Justice Department announced indictments against the four former officers on federal criminal charges of violating Mr. Floyd’s civil rights. The indictments were not a surprise, but they were unusual, partly because Mr. Chauvin had already been convicted of murder in Minnesota.

In similar cases, the federal government has often only filed charges if officials believe that justice was not served at the state level. For instance, after four officers accused in the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in the early 1990s were acquitted, they were indicted on federal charges.

Because federal charges often come only after the conclusion of state cases, some legal experts were surprised to see that the three other former officers were indicted by a federal grand jury before their case went to trial in Minnesota.

Still, even though Judge Cahill cited the federal case as a reason for delaying the trial in Minneapolis, it is uncertain that a federal trial would happen before March 7, when the three former officers are now scheduled to go on trial in state court. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department in Minneapolis said on Thursday that no date had been set for a federal trial of any of the former officers.

Mr. Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced on the highest charge for which he was convicted — second-degree murder — on June 25. Judge Cahill ruled this week that Mr. Chauvin could receive a higher sentence than the 15-year maximum that Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines call for. Judge Cahill ruled that Mr. Chauvin was “particularly cruel” in killing Mr. Floyd and also found that several other so-called aggravating factors apply: that he committed the crime in front of children, abused his authority and did so with the participation of at least three other people.

Legal experts say Judge Cahill is likely to sentence Mr. Chauvin to up to 30 years in prison, although the maximum sentence possible is 40 years.

The trial of Mr. Chauvin was deeply traumatic for the city of Minneapolis, especially its Black community, with the harrowing video being shown repeatedly and emotional testimony from bystanders who witnessed Mr. Floyd’s murder. At its conclusion, the city almost immediately began bracing for the second trial of the other officers.

But now that the trial is delayed, some activists said it would have been better to hold the next trial on time, rather than push it off to allow for the publicity generated by Mr. Chauvin’s trial to subside.

“I think they should have just moved forward,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a lawyer and prominent civil rights activist in Minneapolis.

She added, “I don’t think it helps our community in a positive way to have to wait about another year.”

Author: Matt Furber
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Prue Leith: Bake Off judge unwittingly attended orgy and saw 'bouncing bottoms everywhere'

Author
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed

“Anyhow, this guy, he thought it was fantastic. So he just vanished,” she went on to add.

“So there I am, 19 or something. So I went to the bar and somebody immediately said to me, ‘Why have you got your clothes on?’ I said, ‘I’m just going to change’.

“I’d walk away. Someone else saying, ‘Why have you got clothes on?’

“So I realised the only way to be invisible was to take my clothes off,” the restaurateur recalled.

When Will Derek Chauvin Be Sentenced? Judge Says in 8 Weeks

Judge Peter A. Cahill revoked Derek Chauvin’s bail on Tuesday after he was convicted of murdering George Floyd.

Mr. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who has been free on bail since the fall, was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs and remanded into the custody of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

Judge Cahill said he expected to begin a sentencing hearing in about eight weeks. Mr. Chauvin was convicted on all three counts he faced at trial — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Because Mr. Chauvin has no criminal history, the sentencing guidelines for each of the murder charges is 12.5 years. But the maximum sentences for each charge differ: Second-degree murder can result in a term as long as 40 years, while the maximum for third-degree murder is 25 years.

Austin and Travis County officials can keep enforcing local mask mandate for now, judge says

Austin and Travis County can keep requiring masks for at least a bit longer after a district judge denied Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton[1]‘s request for a temporary block of the local mandate.

Paxton sued the local officials for refusing to end the mandate after Gov. Greg Abbott[2] lifted state restrictions earlier this month. Paxton will likely appeal the decision.

District Judge Lora Livingston has yet to issue a final ruling on the merits of the case, meaning Austin and Travis officials may later be told to comply with state officials.

But in the meantime, County Judge Andy Brown said Friday’s ruling at least prolongs the amount of time masks are required in their communities — which gives them more time to vaccinate their residents.

“I’ve been doing everything that I can to protect the health and safety of people in Travis County,” Brown said in an interview. “And Judge Livingston’s ruling today allows us to keep doing that.”

Abbott ended nearly all of the state’s COVID-19 safety restrictions on March 10, including the statewide mask mandate[3], citing decreases in COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases. Many public health experts said the move was too soon, before the majority of the state was vaccinated or even was eligible for a shot.

In his order, Abbott said that “no jurisdiction” can require a person to wear a mask in public if the area doesn’t meet a certain threshold for coronavirus hospitalizations in that hospital region. Many local governments dropped their restrictions as a result. However, this was not the case in Travis County where officials said they would continue to require public mask use.

Paxton sued Austin and Travis County the day after state restrictions were lifted[4]. He maintained that Abbott’s order supersedes all local jurisdictions.

State lawyers pushed for the judge to grant a temporary injunction the next day, but Livingston said it wouldn’t have been fair to give the defendants only a day to prepare. Therefore, masks remained required in Travis County in the meantime.

“Every day that we can keep the local health authority mask mandate in place is a victory,” Austin mayor Steve Adler said in an interview with The Texas Tribune on Friday. “The fact that we were able to keep it in place for the last two weeks, during spring break, is a victory, for however long it lasts.”

Adler said as case numbers level off and vaccination eligibility widens, the city can follow through on plans to open more businesses — but the mask mandate should remain in place.

“You can wear masks and still open businesses, you can wear masks and have more students in school,” Adler said, “You could wear masks and do all of those things, and it is such a small price to pay to protect lives and people.”

Texas has seen improving conditions as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have dropped to lows not seen since October. Vaccinations are increasing with more than 11.5% of the population fully vaccinated — although Black and Hispanic Texans face systemic medical inequities and are being vaccinated at disproportionately low rates. Starting Monday, all Texans older than 16 will be eligible to register for a vaccine appointment.[5][6][7]

But even though the numbers are improving, Dr. Mark Escott, Travis County Interim Health Authority, testified in court Friday that over the last week, he is seeing the downward trend leveling out. And with variant COVID-19 strains in the mix, Escott said the situation could worsen without public health intervention.

“It’s clear that we haven’t beaten COVID-19 yet,” Escott said. “And it’s clear that if we are able to maintain those protections that it’s going to buy us time to get more people vaccinated, and ultimately, it’s going to save lives.”

This isn’t the first time Paxton sued over COVID-19 restrictions. Back in December, Paxton successfully sued Austin and Travis County over local officials implementing an overnight curfew during the New Year’s holiday weekend. However, the case wasn’t decided until after the holiday, and officials enforced the curfew.

Paxton also blocked El Paso County’s order telling nonessential businesses to shut down[8] in November.

The final outcome of the case could have implications for other Texas cities and counties on how local governments can enforce their own public health mandates, even after the state ordered them to end.

During Friday’s hearing, discussion broadly centered around the question: What powers do local public health departments have, and how do the governor’s emergency powers affect them?

Austin and Travis attorneys said public health officials have the authority to implement health measures — like mask mandates — outside of the context of the pandemic, and therefore should not be affected by Texas’ latest order.

State attorneys argued that Abbott’s emergency powers because of the pandemic trump any local orders.

Livingston pushed back on some of the state attorney’s arguments that not requiring masks allows for individual freedom.

“I’m trying to understand why the person with the deadly virus should have more power than the person trying to stay alive and not catch the deadly virus,” Livingston said.

She pointed to past examples of Abbott delegating authority in the pandemic’s response to local governments — and said she understands why officials say they have received mixed messages.

“It’s got to be pretty confusing for local officials to know when they are charged, in the governor’s mind, and have the responsibility to react locally and take charge locally — and when they shouldn’t,” Livingston told the state’s attorneys. “I just needed to let you know that I find that kind of a puzzle.”

Neelam Bohra contributed to this story.

Disclosure: Steve Adler is a former Texas Tribune board chairman and has been a financial supporter of the Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here[9].

Reese Oxner