Girls could see kidnapper's suicide, FBI says
Alexandria Bain, 12, and Kyliyah Bain, 8.
May 11th, 2012
10:15 AM ET

Girls could see kidnapper's suicide, FBI says

[Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET] Police have arrested three more people in their investigation of the kidnappings of Jo Ann Bain and her daughters, a law enforcement source said Friday. The arrests are for making a false statement and illegal possession of a firearm, the source said. Bain and one daughter were found dead several days ago. Two other daughters were found alive Thursday night.

Also, a law enforcement source said Bain and her oldest daughter were strangled to death.

[Posted at 10:15 a.m. ET] A tip from a caller led the FBI to the place where fugitive Adam Mayes shot and killed himself - all within sight of the two young girls he had been holding captive, the agency said Friday.

When investigators came upon Mayes, "the girls were on their stomach face down. They were close enough to see what was going on when he killed himself," FBI spokesman Jason Pack said.

Alexandria Bain, 12, and Kyliyah Bain, 8, were tended to by two female agents who rode with them in an ambulance to the hospital.

"They were scared and relieved," Pack said. "They were hungry and thirsty. They gave them water and we drove them out right away."

The tip authorities received was not that someone had spotted Mayes, but that there was an old logging cabin behind a church that might have power and would be a good hiding place.

The area had been searched before by agents, but it was searched again.

There is no evidence that Mayes and the girls actually used the cabin, but they were believed to have been in the area for a few days, he said.

"There was no shelter or anything. It looks like they were in the open woods," Pack said. "They were dehydrated and dirty, like they were here for several days."

Felony charges filed in death of FAMU drum major
Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion died in November after a hazing ritual on a band bus
May 2nd, 2012
02:37 PM ET

Felony charges filed in death of FAMU drum major

Florida authorities have brought felony charges against 13 people in what they called the hazing death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion, a prosecutor announced Wednesday.

"Robert Champion died as a result of being beaten," State Attorney Lawson Lamar said. "His death is not linked to one sole strike but is attributed to multiple blows."

Joyce Dawley, the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Orlando division, said one person was in custody and one was being sought out of state. Sheriff's deputies and the FDLE were looking for the other 11 within Florida, she said.

Twenty misdemeanor charges also have been filed, but it was not immediately clear how those applied to the 13 people.

Champion collapsed in Orlando on the bus, which was carrying members of FAMU's Marching 100 after a November football game that included a halftime performance by the group.

Medical examiners ruled his death a homicide, saying he died "within an hour of a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt trauma blows to his body."

"This is a homicide by hazing," Lamar said.

Some university band members have said the 26-year-old died after taking part in an annual rite of passage called "Crossing Bus C," an initiation process in which pledges attempt to run down the center aisle from the front door of the bus to the back while being punched, kicked and assaulted by senior members.

An autopsy found "extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder and back," as well as "evidence of crushing of areas of subcutaneous fat," which is the fatty tissue directly under the skin.

The death prompted the university board of trustees to approve an anti-hazing plan that includes an independent panel of experts to investigate.

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Criminal charges to be filed in alleged FAMU hazing death
Florida A&M University student and band drum major Robert Champion, 26, died November 19.
May 1st, 2012
04:27 PM ET

Criminal charges to be filed in alleged FAMU hazing death

Criminal charges are expected to be filed Wednesday in Orlando, Florida, in the suspected hazing death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion, a law enforcement source close to the investigation told CNN.

Some FAMU band members have said Champion died last November after taking part in an annual rite of passage called "Crossing Bus C."

The crossing the bus ritual is an initiation process in which pledges attempt to run down the center aisle from the front door of the bus to the back while being punched, kicked and assaulted by senior members, band members have said.

Champion collapsed in Orlando on the bus, which was carrying members of FAMU's Marching 100 after a November football game that included a halftime performance by the group.

The medical examiner's office ruled his death a homicide and said Champion "collapsed and died within an hour of a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt trauma blows to his body."

An autopsy found "extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder and back," as well as "evidence of crushing of areas of subcutaneous fat," which is the fatty tissue directly under the skin.

The death prompted the FAMU board of trustees to approve a new three-part anti-hazing plan, which includes an independent panel of experts to investigate.

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March 8th, 2012
03:01 PM ET

Court: Barbour's Mississippi pardons are valid

Mississippi's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the pardons of more than 200 convicts issued by Gov. Haley Barbour on his way out of office, rejecting a challenge by the state's attorney general.

Attorney General Jim Hood had argued in court last month that Barbour failed to follow state law by filing proper notice in newspapers where the inmates' crimes had been committed.

But in its opinion Thursday, the high court wrote that the pardons "may not be set aside or voided by the judicial branch" on those grounds.

Among those Barbour pardoned before he left office in January were many convicted murderers, including four who had worked as "trusties" at the governor's mansion. Critics argued that the governor failed to consider the families of their victims before freeing them.

FULL STORY
January 30th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

Attorney general: Pardoned murderer found in Wyoming

[Updated at 2:17 p.m. ET] Joseph Ozment, a convicted murderer who was pardoned this month in a controversial move by outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, has been found in Wyoming, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced Monday.

Ozment was served at a hotel in Laramie, Wyoming, where he had been staying under another name, his office said.

"As our officers attempted service, Mr. Ozment fled in his girlfriend's vehicle but not before the vehicle made contact with one of our investigators," Hood said in a press release.  "That is when our officers asked for the assistance of the Laramie Police Department.  Mr. Ozment returned to the hotel on foot and ended up signing receipt of service in the presence of our two officers and two with the Laramie Police Department."

Ozment is one of four convicted murderers Barbour pardoned early this month. He did not appear at a court hearing in a case challenging the pardons. Hood said previously officials wanted to serve Ozment with a document telling him to appear in court.

Pardoned Mississippi murderer drops out of sight

According to a transcript of Ozment's confession to police, Ozment admitted being part of a robbery so he could have "Christmas money." He entered the convenience store with a friend who shot the clerk three times. The clerk, Rick Montgomery, crawled from around the counter and Ozment looked at him and shot him twice.

As he closed out his second term as governor, Barbour granted "full pardons" - meaning the convict's record is effectively wiped clean - to more than 200 people found guilty of a variety of crimes. All four of the convicted murderers he pardoned were serving life sentences and worked as trusties at the governor's mansion.

The move stirred outrage among relatives of the pardoned murderers' victims, among others. Hood has been particularly outspoken, earlier this month calling the pardons "a slap in the face to everyone in law enforcement and (saying) Gov. Barbour should be ashamed."

He also said Ozment and three other murderers did not meet the constitutional requirements to be granted a pardon, and he wants to see the men put back in jail to finish their life sentences.

Barbour has defended his pardons. He told CNN's John King that Ozment and the others have been rehabilitated.

"He has no obligation to do anything," Barbour said. "He's been pardoned. He's a free man."

So what will happen next?

"We said we would find him and we did," Hood said. "Now we will let the court decide what happens from here."

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Justice • Mississippi
January 11th, 2012
07:40 PM ET

Mississippi judge blocks release of pardoned prisoners

A Mississippi judge has issued a temporary injunction that forbids the release of pardoned prisoners, a move that comes after outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour pardoned 199 people.

Of the 199 people that Barbour pardoned on his way out of office, 14 were convicted murderers. Several convicted murderers have already been released.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • Mississippi
December 19th, 2011
09:45 AM ET

Florida A&M president to stay on job during probe of student's death

Florida A&M University President James Ammons will remain in office during an investigation into the suspected hazing death of a student, the school's board of trustees decided Monday.

The decision comes days after Florida's governor recommended to the board that it suspend Ammons during an investigation into various issues at the university, including the November death of marching band drum major Robert Champion Jr., 26.

Some band members said Champion died after taking part in a rite of passage involving a beating aboard a bus. One member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that students "walk from the front of the bus to the back of the bus backward while the bus is full of other band members, and you get beaten until you get to the back."

Authorities have ruled Champion's death a homicide.

Four students were expelled from the school, and 30 others were dismissed from the band after Champion's death, Ammons wrote in a letter to the board of trustees last month.

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CNN on the ground: Real Jersey shore in no hurry to evacuate; residents flee coast
August 26th, 2011
03:38 PM ET

CNN on the ground: Real Jersey shore in no hurry to evacuate; residents flee coast

Editor's Note: CNN has reporters up and down the East Coast to cover Hurricane Irene. We'll be providing updates throughout the day on the scenes they are coming across and the people they talk to.

[Updated 7:30 a.m. Saturday]

(WASHINGTON) The sun is peeking through on the National Mall in Washington. The city will resume passing out sandbags at noon. Yesterday they ran out of sandbags at 5 p.m. City residents can get five sandbags per household. For this storm, city officials are using Twitter to keep in touch with residents in addition to traditional media. Officials are using the hashtag #DCIrene on the microblogging site to get information out.

– CNN'S Eric Marrapodi

[Updated at 8:59 p.m. ET ]

(IN THE OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA) I've been feeling the storm escalate with every passing hour.  The rain is nonstop and the gale force winds are now gusting up to  tropical storm strength. This is a fraction of what's to come after dawn.  Authorities warn residents on the Outer Banks to heed the mandatory evacuation orders or risk the dangers of the storm alone.  Emergency personnel will not venture out into the storm because it's too risky.  Roads may be flooded or blocked for days after.  Everyone has been advised to be prepared to be on their own for at least 72 hours.

- CNN’s David Mattingly

[Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET ]

(SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NEW JERSEY)  This is the place where they filmed the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore”.  I was at the casino pier, which is actually like a boardwalk similar to New York's Coney Island. People were out enjoying the beach, getting tans and surfing.

With temperatures about 85 degrees,  it was a really nice day to be at the beach here. I heard Governor Chris Christie telling people to get off the beaches, but it didn’t seem to stop the people. I was told by regular beach-goers that the crowds weren’t nearly as big today. It was noticeably not crowded but it wasn’t a ghost town either.

Talking to tourists, some said they came down to enjoy the weekend and that they felt like thir trip was being cut short. One guy said he had just got to his hotel and was told they were going to close so he couldn’t even check in.

- journalist Aaron Brodie 

[Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET ]

(KILL DEVIL HILLS, NORTH CAROLINA)  After boarding up their house, a family in Kill Devil Hills left a spray-painted message for the storm on one of the boarded-up windows of their home.  "Good Night, Irene," the message said.

A sign expresses the sentiments of residents in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

The Nags Head Fire and Rescue Department also had a message for the hurricane:  "Go Away, Irene," the message written on a bulletin board outside their building said.

A sign outside a building in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., is addressed to the storm.

We found a couple going for one last walk on the beach before the arrival of Irene.  We also found a family with two young boys flying kites there.

Drew Goulde, a Kill Devil Hills resident and a maintenance worker at the
local Ramada Inn hotel, was surfing, taking advantage of a higher-than-usual tide.

"It is fun," Goulde said.  "I'm just messing around right now.  It's kind of
heavy out there though."

He said he would have to return to work at the hotel as soon as the
hurricane makes landfall sometime on Saturday afternoon.

- CNN’s Rafael Romo

[Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET ]

(KILL DEVIL HILLS, NORTH CAROLINA)  We are on the beach.  The first outer rain is just beginning to reach us. The wind has slowly intensified, but nowhere near gale-force yet. No one is in the water, and the few people on the beach are being told not to swim.

The weather worsens at a beach in North Carolina.

I'm manning a beach camera with CNN's David Mattingly. The camera is visible at the top right, covered with a black trash bag (a preferred protection over conventional rain covers; it's more versatile). As conditions worsen, we will go to a hotel balcony overlook with drier conditions and will continue broadcasting into the night and for the duration.  We've stocked our work space with water and food (the least salty or sweet the better).

CNN Cameraman Jay Schexnyder

[Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET ]

(STUMPY POINT, NORTH CAROLINA) Evacuating your home is never easy. And it gets a lot harder when you’re by yourself and have three toddlers in tow.

Kimberly Roehrig left her home in Stumpy Point, North Carolina. Her mom dropped her and her kids off at a specially designed county meeting point.

Here, she, Madison, 7, Faith 4, and 10-month-old Waylon would catch a county bus that will take her to a shelter off  North Carolina’s Outer Banks. She told us that she lives too close to the water.

“We boarded up, but we’re afraid it’s gonna flood,” she told CNN.

Kimberly Roehrig thinks the water may flood out her home, so she’s bringing her kids to a shelter.

“I don’t want to be there for a flood,” she said with a nervous smile.

Kimberly says she left her boyfriend behind to ride Hurricane Irene out in their home, along with their pets.

“I’m a little nervous, but as long as we have shelter, we’ll be ok,” she said.

– CNN's Rich Phillips

[Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET ]

(NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK) In a hurricane the higher you go, the stronger the wind gusts are. Construction workers have that in mind as they secure One World Trade Center in New York ahead of Irene’s arrival.

While the windows being installed on the soon-to-be tallest building in the U.S. are designed to withstand 125 mph winds they’re only in place up to the 52nd floor. Steel beams taking the place of the Twin Towers have risen to the 80th floor. The remaining upper floors are open to the elements.

Construction continues at the World Trade Center site.

That’s a serious concern because anything blown off a building from that height, even something as small as a bolt, can become a deadly projectile in a hurricane.

From now until 2 p.m. on Saturday - when all work is scheduled to be halted at the World Trade Center site - construction workers will be busy securing anything and everything.

“They are very big on safety here,” said Kelly Potts, an electrician working on One World Trade Center. “If anything is not tied down they will address it and fix it.”

She said anything loose is either being moved to lower floors or chained to steel beams.

“Loose boards, metal, anything that’s near the edge of the platform… they are going to make sure that it’s away from there and tied down.”

The construction cranes high atop the World Trade Center site will also be secured sometime Saturday. They are designed to withstand strong winds. Construction workers on the site are well aware how serious high winds are at a skyscraper under construction. While the Time Warner Center was being built a few years ago at Columbus Circle in New York a plywood board was blown off the building. It struck a man below killing him.

Listen to the full story here:

Get more CNN Radio Report podcasts on itunes or subscribe

– CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum

FULL POST

Minute by minute: Atlantis shuttle lifts off for final time
The final space shuttle launch in NASA history, the Shuttle Atlantis launches from the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday.
July 8th, 2011
01:36 PM ET

Minute by minute: Atlantis shuttle lifts off for final time

Editor's Note: Atlantis' journey to the International Space Station will be NASA's 135th and final mission in the space shuttle program, which began 30 years ago. Tune in to CNN's live coverage of the launch Friday, on CNN.com/Live and the CNN mobile apps. As part of our coverage our teams are the ground are sharing what they are seeing and hearing during this historic day.

[Updated at 1:36 p.m.] Astronaut Julie Payette, a Canadian flight engineer who flew two shuttle missions told CNN: “I feel good about it being a grand finale for an extraordinarily successful program.”

“This program has inspired so many people," she said. "It is very inspirational when we do things on the edge and this is one of the edges that’s hard to reach.”

[Updated at 12:37 p.m.] Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American in Space, said the launch today was a "really bittersweet feeling."

"[It's like] you've had a good friend or a car that did a really good job, but now its time to move on," she said.

[Updated at 12:20 p.m.] @NASA tweets: "The STS-135 post-launch news conference now will be held at 1 p.m. EDT."

[Updated at 12:06 p.m.] Linda Johnston from Palestine, Texas wiped tears away from her eyes as the shuttle blasted into space. This was her first launch and the moment was overwhelming. She rose from her wheelchair and looked by the brim of her straw hat as her husband and grandson stood by her side.

She said the shuttle symbolizes patriotism. Why its ending, she doesn't know - she's just happy that she and the three generations of her family got to see this one in the flesh.

Another family from Warren, Michigan came to see the last launch.

"It was something I could never see again," one woman told CNN's Brooke Baldwin as she cried. "But I've never seen it and I wanted to."

5-year-old Parker Mills, who was with the rest of his family explained, "It was ginormous!  It just went up into the clouds."

[Updated at 11:57 a.m.] @NASA tweets: Watch Administrator Bolden's video blog about the final shuttle launch and what's next for NASA:  http://t.co/wDqXVRK

[Updated at 11:55 a.m.] Astronaut Leroy Chiao is here to do an interview with CNN International. He's got a"celebration" cigar lit and in hand and said the final launch was "fantastic."

Chiao was the commander of Expedition 10 and lived aboard the International Space from October 2004 to April 2005 and has been aboard three shuttle flights.

[Updated at 11:41 a.m.] "When we saw the bright glare of the shuttle and the chants of U.S.A., U.S.A. started going up, it was hard not to cry, frankly," CNN's Carol Costello says.

[Updated at 11:33 a.m.] Space Shuttle Atlantis has achieved main engine cutoff.

[Updated at 11:31 a.m.] The solid rocket boosters continue to travel upward another 150,000 feet after they are ejected, former astronaut Cady Coleman explains.

[Updated at 11:29 a.m.] A half a ton of fuel per second is being drained from Atlantis' main fuel tank. Engines performing perfectly, NASA says.

[Updated at 11:28 a.m.] "Atlantis flexing its muscles one final time," flight commentator says.

[Updated at 11:27 a.m.] Atlantis is in the middle of its eight-minute ride into orbit.

[Updated at 11:26 a.m.] Space Shuttle Atlantis has lifted off, marking NASA's final mission in the space shuttle program.

"The space shuttle spreads its wings one final time for the start of a sentimental journey into history," launch control said.

FULL POST

October 22nd, 2010
06:39 PM ET

Burned Florida teen sees accused attackers in court

Michael Brewer in his hospital bed at Jackson Memorial Hospital on November 23.

Lawyers for three Florida teens accused of setting another boy on fire rejected plea deals Friday.

For the first time in more than a year, Michael Brewer saw the three former friends who are accused of pouring alcohol over him and setting him on fire in a dispute over a video game and $40. He suffered burns on more than 65 percent of his body and was hospitalized for over two months after the attack in Deerfield Beach.

One by one, the three teens walked into the Broward County courtroom in orange jumpsuits and shackles Friday. No words were exchanged, and it’s unclear whether the defendants saw Brewer, who sat in the back with his family.

There had been an expectation that a plea deal was imminent, but it was not to be.

Instead, Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey R. Levenson scheduled a hearing for December 13, when he'll review the case's progress.

FULL POST

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August 26th, 2010
01:36 PM ET

NASA announces discovery of 2 new planets

An artist's rendering shows two Saturn-sized planets discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission.

NASA has announced the discovery of two planets, slightly smaller than Saturn, orbiting the same star in the Milky Way, which have been discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope.

William Borucki, the Kepler Mission Science Principal Investigator, at the NASA Ames Research Center, announced on a teleconference "the first discovery of multiple planets orbiting the same star."

The two planets, known as Kepler 9B and 9C, have a clear gravitational interaction, according to NASA.

A third celestial body, has also been discovered. It's about 1.5 times the size of Earth, but it has not yet, been confirmed as a planet.

"The discovery incorporates seven months of observations of more than 156,000 stars as part of an ongoing search for Earth-sized planets outside our solar system," NASA said in a press release.

Read full story on CNN.com

NASA.gov: Read more about Kepler mission

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Filed under: Space
April 16th, 2010
05:16 PM ET

Feds: No civil right charges in teen's boot camp death

More than four years after the death of 14-year-old Florida boot camp inmate Martin Lee Anderson, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced no federal criminal civil rights charges will be filed against eight staff members.

The announcement effectively closes the case.

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