National News

iStock(MADISON COUNTY, Idaho) -- Home surveillance footage shows missing 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow days before he and his 17-year-old sister, Tylee Ryan, disappeared.

The video, obtained by East Idaho News, shows JJ playing in the front yard of his home with friends and was shot on Sept. 17, nine days after he and Tylee were seen at Yellowstone National Park on Sept. 8 with their mother, Lori Daybell.

The footage is the last image of JJ before his disappearance and is being used by police to piece together a timeline of the children's last known whereabouts.

JJ, who has autism and was adopted by Vallow, was last seen alive on Sept. 23 at Kennedy Elementary School in Rexburg, Idaho, according to a probable cause affidavit for Lori Vallow's arrest obtained by ABC News. The next day, Vallow called the school and informed them that JJ would no longer be attending and that she would homeschool him going forward, but requests for JJ's transcripts were never made.

No witnesses have seen JJ since Sept. 24, police said. Tylee has also been missing since September.

The children's safety came into question in November after Kay Woodcock, the biological grandmother of JJ, called Rexburg police and requested a welfare check, the affidavit states.

When police arrived at Vallow's home on Nov. 26, they were met by Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, and her fourth husband Chad Daybell, whom she had married about four weeks earlier. When police found Vallow later that day, she claimed JJ was staying with a friend in Gilbert, Arizona.

That friend later told investigators that Vallow and Daybell had contacted her separately with requests to falsely tell police JJ was with her, according to the affidavit.

Vallow and Daybell were gone when police returned to the home the next day.

Vallow was arrested on Thursday in Hawaii, where she and Daybell have been living, on charges of felony desertion and nonsupport on dependent children, weeks after she failed to comply with a court order to produce them in Madison County, Idaho, on Jan. 30.

Her bail was set at $5 million. She is scheduled to appear in court on March 2, when she is expected to be turned over to Idaho authorities.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Two highly publicized student murders has caused one university to implement significant changes to its campus safety, including a $13 million building to house the school's police department.

Both incidents, which involved the deaths of female students at the University of Utah, sparked conversations about the safety on campus and the operations of its police department.

Lauren McCluskey, a track athlete at the university, was found dead in a parked car near a residential hall on campus in October 2018.

McCluskey's former boyfriend, Melvin Rowland, shot and killed the 21-year-old and later killed himself on the same night.

Earlier that month, McCluskey had reported to the university police that Rowland, 37, was harassing and stalking her. McCluskey ended their one month relationship after learning he was a registered sex offender who lied about his name, age and criminal history, which included a 2004 conviction of enticing a minor, police said.

Last summer, another University of Utah student, Mackenzie Lueck, was found dead in July 2019 after being reported missing two weeks earlier. Lueck, 23, was murdered by a man she had met in an off-campus park late at night. The suspect was later identified by police as 31-year-old Ayoola Ajayi.

Ajayi, who has pleaded not guilty, is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, obstructing justice and desecration of a human body in connection with Lueck's death.

Now, 16 months since McCluskey’s murder, the University of Utah has introduced a number of initiatives to support campus safety.

After McCluskey’s death, an independent review committee created a list of 30 campus safety recommendations. In just a little over a year, they implemented all recommendations with the new building being the last on the list.

"These buildings are way past their life span," Chris Nelson, the university’s communications director, told ABC News. The university police department is currently in an outdated building that was previously used by the Army during World War II. The new building, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, will be located in a more accessible location, according to Nelson.

Among the other changes the university has implemented, a new healthy relationship and consent training has become mandatory for all incoming students.

University President Ruth Watkins had also ordered a preexisting task force to re-look at safety. The safety task force, composed of students, faculty and staff, introduced a new carpool system in August 2019 called SafeRide. With SafeRide, students can request a ride during the evening to and from any point on campus, including the residential halls and hospital.

Nelson noted, "The biggest thing we are working on is to make sure our students have our trust. We always have to improve. We’ve made some really important steps. It’s an ongoing effort."

The $13 million will cover the building's design and construction costs. The building will house the police department, better interview rooms and will be "a place where anyone reporting a crime will have the privacy they would expect," Nelson said.

"Almost 60% of our police department is new. Our new police chief started this week and we’ve hired a new detective who specializes in domestic and interpersonal violence," said Nelson.

No tuition or state tax dollars will go toward the project. The university’s cash reserves will be used and fundraising may have to make up the remaining cost.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(CAMDEN, N.J.) -- Homeland security officials in New Jersey are warning residents of the potential terrorism threats the state faces from extremist and white supremacist groups.

Officials have "taken notice at the rise in activity from white supremacist extremists" and have increased the threat posed by them in 2020 from moderate to high, according to the 2020 terrorism threat assessment released by New Jersey's Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

Homegrown violent extremists are the "most persistent hostile actors in New Jersey," according to the statement.

The assessment referenced the shooting at the Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August that targeted the Hispanic community and left 22 dead, another that killed a woman during a Passover service at a synagogue near San Diego in April and the shooting rampage at two mosques in New Zealand that left more than 50 people dead in March 2019.

"New Jersey has also faced incidents supportive of extremist ideologies," the statement read, mentioning the Jersey City attack "rooted in anti-Semitism" that killed Jersey City Police Det. Joseph Seals and five others in December.

In addition, a man in Camden County was arrested in November on accusations that he directed acts of vandalism against two synagogues in Midwestern states "for the purpose of intimidating minorities," and a Sussex County man "accused of being obsessed with Nazis and mass shootings" was arrested on weapons charges and bias intimidation in June, according to the statement.

"We will do everything we can to keep you and your families safe. However, we rely on the public’s assistance," Jared M. Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, said in a statement. "I ask all residents and visitors to 'See Something, Say Something' by reporting terrorism-related suspicious activity."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- An Oklahoma school district has issued an apology after a longtime sports announcer called the names of the opposing team "pretty disgusting" at the start of a high school girls basketball game.

Lorna Pollard, whose daughter plays on the basketball team for Crooked Oak High School in Oklahoma City, filmed the beginning of the game against Newkirk High School on Friday night as the starting players lined up to have their names announced.

In the video, the announcer can be heard saying, "Now their names are pretty disgusting, but I'm going to try to call them out," while apparently referring to the visiting team.

Pollard later posted the video to Facebook, stating that people at Newkirk initially tried to defend the announcer, "that the man was old and he didn't mean it like that."

"But that's exactly what he meant," Pollard wrote. "...there is no excuse or ignorance in 2020."

The principal of Crooked Oak High School, Laura Knight, who wrote on Facebook that she was at the game, described the announcer's comments as "shocking."

Knight then encouraged naysayers to "give the appropriate people a chance to handle things," stating that school administration removed the announcer and replaced him "with a person that went to lengths to ensure that everything else was announced correctly."

"Their administration sought out ours to apologize," Knight wrote. "Their fans, administrations and coaches treated us well. I know that does not take away the hurt, but please know that they took care of it, it was not ignored."

Newkirk Public Schools Superintendent Brady Barnes issued an apology on Saturday morning, saying that the longtime announcer "made an unfortunate and inappropriate personal comment."

"In around 20 years of announcing Newkirk games, this is the first time something like this has occurred," the statement read. "While he did not make any similar comments, I made the decision to replace him at halftime."

Brady said the comment "does not represent the Newkirk Public Schools or its beliefs" and apologized "for any pain or affront" the comment caused to Crooked Oak's players, parents, patrons and school employees.

The superintendent did not speak to "whatever personnel actions may be taken in the future."

Crooked Oak won the game to become district champions, and the players handled the moment of adversity "beautifully," Knight wrote.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


(NEW YORK) -- Bans on single-use plastic bags -- one of the most pervasive sources of pollution -- are taking effect in cities and states across the U.S. as efforts to combat global plastic production pick up.

But while the moves are being lauded by environmentalists and the local governments that support them, some are questioning whether the move will be effective, primarily because of the unintended environmental consequences associated with replacement materials such as paper, thick plastic and reusable bags.

Plastic bags were widely introduced to American consumers in 1979 and were marketed as preferable to paper because they are durable, waterproof and have many functions, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

Until the early '80s, paper bags were standard for carrying groceries. With the adoption of plastic bags by grocery chains Safeway and Kroger in 1982, plastic bags soon dominated supermarkets and convenience stores across the U.S. by the end of the decade, the UNEP states.

In the U.S., 380 billion plastic bags and wraps are used every year, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Low-density polyethylene, the material from which plastic bags are made, is produced from crude oil or natural gas, making the petroleum-based plastic bags non-biodegradable.

While many plastic bags are recyclable and large retailers in some areas are required to accept them for reprocessing, many wind up tangled in trees and littering streets.

Plastic pollution costs some communities $1 million in annual fees to remove waste mostly made up of grocery bags, according to the EPA.

A worldwide effort

Across the globe, countries have increased their efforts to limit plastic bags and other plastic materials from being produced, distributed and ultimately released into the environment.

In the U.S., statewide bans against plastic bags are being put into place. Eight states have passed legislation banning single-use plastic bags, with three -- California, Hawaii, and Oregon -- currently in effect. Bans in New York, Maine and Vermont are scheduled as early as next month, while in several cities, restrictions have been implemented without the adoption of state-led legislation.

California became the first to introduce regulations banning single-use plastic bags in August 2014. Proposition 67, also known as SB270, officially passed in November 2016, prohibits plastic bags at groceries, chain pharmacies, and other stores.

Since the policy took effect, Californians Against Waste (CAW), a nonprofit organization that sponsored the bill, has reported a substantial reduction in plastic bag litter in the state’s rivers, beaches and landscapes.

During a 2010 annual beach cleanup, crews from CAW reported that 65,000 grocery bags were scattered along water bodies, a number that CAW says decreased by 72% in 2017. Mark Murray, executive director of the nonprofit, attributed the decrease to the ban.

Retailers in California have been in full compliance with the law, he said, and compared to the 13.8 billion grocery bags that were once distributed in the state each year prior to the policy, none are now distributed. Instead, paper and reusable grocery bags are supplied to customers for a fee.

The organization initially feared that restrictions would prompt a significant uptick in the use of paper bags, but data suggests the 10-cent charge has curbed any growth in paper bag generation.

California’s reported success with SB270 has sparked policies in states like New York, which is soon to follow suit on March 1. Similar to upcoming bans in Maine and Vermont, New York stores will be replacing plastic bags with paper bags that customers can purchase for a cost of no less than 5 cents.

Commissioner Basil Seggos of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) hopes that the ban will prevent 23 million single-use plastic bags used annually in the state from ending up in the environment and landfills. He expects the quality of life for New Yorkers to increase when harmful litter becomes eliminated.

Paper has been widely supported by legislators as a less environmentally damaging alternative to plastic bags. Terry Webber, executive director of the American Forest & Paper Association, a paper industry trade association, said paper is a renewable, recyclable and compostable resource that is made with wood fiber from sustainably managed forests.

As opposed to petroleum-based plastic bags, Webber claims two-thirds of the energy used to make paper comes from renewable biomass (residuals such as tree limbs and bark that are used as a renewable energy source to power paper mills). 90% of water used during manufacturing also returns to waterways, he claimed.

What the skeptics say

However, the shift from plastic to reusable and paper bags has been met with skepticism by some consumers, manufacturers and industry experts, who fear banning plastic will result in additional environmental problems and hurt consumers.

A 2017 study conducted by Recyc-Québec, a government recycling agency in Canada, looked at the life cycles of different disposable bags used within the province.

Results indicate that though conventional plastic bags tend to have higher environmental impacts when released into the environment, when compared to alternatives (such as compostable bioplastic, paper, thick plastic, and oxo-degradable plastic bags), they appear to have the least overall environmental impact (except as litter).

“Because of its thinness and lightness, being designed for a single use, its life cycle requires little material and energy,” the report says. “In addition, it avoids the production of garbage bags since it is commonly used for this function as well.”

The study, which looks at human health, quality of ecosystems, use of fossil fuels and abandonment in the environment, indicates that paper was the lowest-performing type of single-use bag with potential environmental impacts ranging 4 to 28 times that of a standard plastic grocery bag.

Also, reusables made from cotton, woven and non-woven polypropylene bags require tens to thousands of uses before they become more environmentally efficient than single-use plastic bags, the study says.

From Recyc-Quebec to the United Kingdom's Environment Agency other studies highlight the necessity of prolonged use when using reusable bags in order for their environmental benefits to exceed that of single-use plastic bags.

Research conducted by Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) suggests compostable materials can often result in greater environmental costs than non-compostable alternatives because of the impacts associated with extracting, processing, and manufacturing raw materials during onset production.

David Allaway, a senior policy analyst at DEQ’s Materials Management Program, said that in the case of 90% of manufactured items, most impact occurs when producing the product rather than when it goes to the landfill or gets recycled.

“The public believes materials come to us free of impact, and all we have to think about is compositing versus landfilling or recycling. In reality, it’s not quite true. By the time we buy this stuff most of the environmental impact has been done.”

Allaway points to the importance of assessing materials based on their intended purpose.

"I don’t think that a clear case can be made that either recycled paper or virgin plastic grocery bags are universally “better” or “worse” for the environment. Most life cycle assessments generally point to plastic grocery bags having fewer impacts than paper, but that isn’t always the case. Depending on which environmental issue you prioritize - litter, climate change, air toxins, marine debris, water consumption, etc. - you might favor one material over the other. There is no consistent or universal winner."

For Sarah Nichols, sustainable Maine project director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the decision to ban single-use plastic bags was one she struggled with for the past six years.

Virgin plastic, she explained, is ultimately a byproduct of the fossil fuel industry and is kept a low-cost material, allowing it to be made abundantly. As fossil fuels are major contributors to climate change, Nicholas says she has come to believe banning plastic bags altogether is the right thing to do. Similar to California and Oregon's bans, she believes people in Maine will not only adhere to the restriction, but reap its benefits.

“Every independent life cycle assessment that has looked at various bagging options has found that the common plastic grocery bag, when disposed of properly, has the least environmental impact," Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance said. "Paper has its purposes and should be an option that consumers can choose from, but there is no doubt that it takes more material, energy and water to manufacture than plastic, and its weight and bulkiness necessitate seven trucks to transport the same number of bags that can be hauled in just one truck of plastic.”

And Adrian Hong, president of Island Plastic Bags, Inc. in Hawaii, believes grocery bags should be available for a fee rather than ultimately banned because of the impact on manufacturers.

“I don’t think replacing plastic with other materials makes the planet better off,” he said, “You have to look at the life-cycle of the materials to see what’s best.”

Advice for consumers

In Oregon, the Department of Environmental Quality received a steady stream of phone calls in the first few weeks after implementing the ban. As residents grew accustomed to the policy, calls slowly tapered off and officials noted an uptick in use of reusable plastic bags in supermarkets.

When it comes to single-use plastic bag bans, environmental officials advise consumers to make choices that limit the number of any disposable bags they use - whether that is paper or plastic. Recycling paper and properly disposing of plastic bags ensure litter and harmful toxins aren't excessively released into the environment. On the manufacturing end, environmental officials argue that the responsibility to construct products more sustainably must fall on producers to create systemic change.

"The good thing is we're entering a phase where people are starting to think about single-use, recycling, and the climate," Matt Fletcher of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy said. "That in itself is a victory."

The EPA encourages consumers to reduce the number of bags they use, reduce the number of bags they throw away after one use, reuse bags, and recycle bags when they can no longer be used.

"The Agency promotes sustainable materials management (SMM), a holistic, systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively throughout the life cycle of products and services in the U.S. economy," the agency said in a statement.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- Two storms will move across the country and combine in the East to bring heavy snow and rain from the Rockies to the East Coast.

Already yesterday, Phoenix had the rainiest day since October 2018 when they got more than 1 inch of rain. Several MLB practice games had to be cancelled or delayed yesterday in Phoenix, Arizona due to the record daily rainfall.

In northern Arizona and New Mexico, up to 15 inches of snow fell and is still snowing.

As these storms move east, 13 states from Washington to Arizona and east to Missouri are under flood and snow alerts.

This morning these storms are moving through the West with one bringing heavy snow and rain to the Pacific Northwest and the other one in the Four Corners region of the southern Rockies.

Snow is also expected in Denver today but the heaviest will be just to the south and west of the city.

By Monday morning, the southern storm moves into the Plains and should bring heavy rain to the area where Flood Watches have been posted. Rain will also move into the very saturated south from Texas to Georgia where many rivers are still in flooding.

The northern storm is expected to move through the northern Rockies and into the northern Plains with heavy snow.

On Tuesday morning, however, these storms will begin to combine into one in the Midwest, bringing a hit of heavy snow to the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes and possibly Chicago.

To the South, heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected in the water logged states from Mississippi to the Carolinas!

Take a look at the snowfall forecast in the Rockies and the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes, some areas could see more than a half a foot.

The rain will be the heaviest from Kansas to South Carolina where some areas could see more than 2 inches of rain with some possible flooding.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- Two men have been shot, one of them fatally, at an alleged illegal cockfighting event.

The incident occurred early in the morning on Feb. 22 at approximately 12:30 a.m. when police responded to a reported shooting in a residential area in Pacoima, a neighborhood in northern Los Angeles, California, according to ABC News' Los Angeles station KABC-TV.

When police arrived to the scene they found a man in his 20s, who currently remains unidentified, had been shot and killed.

Authorities also discovered another man had been shot and he was transported to a local area hospital in stable condition. His identity was not immediately disclosed.

Police were not able to locate the suspected shooter and that individual is currently at large. Authorities did not immediately release a description of the suspect.

It is unclear if the shooting happened at a residence but evidence at the scene of the crime indicate that an illegal cockfighting event may have been taking place. The motive for the shooting still remains unknown.

The police investigation is currently ongoing.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(KISSIMMEE, Fla.) -- A man accidentally shot and killed his roommate when he was negligently handling a gun and shot her.

The incident occurred on Feb. 21 when authorities responded to a call in Kissimmee, Florida, in reference to a shooting.

When police arrived, however, they discovered that Savannah Leight Threatts had suffered from a gunshot wound and was already deceased. Authorities did not disclose where Threatts had been shot.

Anthonny Mendez, 23, was subsequently questioned by the authorities and it was discovered that Mendez had been handling the gun in an irresponsible manner when the incident happened.

“Anthonny Mendez, a roommate and friend of Savannah, had been negligently handling a firearm and ultimately shot her,” said the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in a statement on social media.

Mendez was arrested for manslaughter, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and violation of probation.

He is now being held at the Osceola County Jail with zero bond.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(BARSTOW, Calif.) -- A daredevil has died after crashing in a homemade rocket he had launched himself while filming a program.

“Mad” Mike Hughes, 64, died on Saturday near Barstow, California, after a rocket that he had built and crashed into the ground on private property at approximately 1:52 p.m. on Saturday near Highway 247, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

“In a cosmic quest to explore the final frontier on a shoe-string budget, Mike Hughes and Waldo Stakes have built a steam powered rocket that will launch Mad Mike 5,000 feet into the air,” said an article on the Science Channel, owned by the Discovery Channel, which has since been updated to confirm Hughes’ death. “As ground-breaking and awe-inspiring as this event will be, it is only the first step towards an even more ambitious goal in space exploration.”

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office also confirmed the incident in a statement.

“A man was pronounced deceased after the rocket crashed in the open desert during a rocket launch event. Medical aid was staged for the launch and was on scene immediately,” read the statement. “Sheriff’s Aviation and Specialized Investigators have responded to conduct the investigation.”

This was not Hughes’ first launch. Hughes, who believed the Earth is flat, propelled himself about 1,875 feet into the air before a hard landing in the Mojave Desert in March of 2018.

"My story really is incredible," Hughes told the AP at the time. "It's got a bunch of story lines -- the garage-built thing. I'm an older guy. It's out in the middle of nowhere, plus the Flat Earth. The problem is it brings out all the nuts also, people questioning everything. It's the downside of all this."

According to ABC News’ Houston station KTRK-TV, the rocket launch was intended to be one of three featured in a new Science Channel series, Homemade Astronauts, which was chronicling the story of self-financed teams "in their cosmic quest to explore the final frontier on limited budgets." The steam powered rocket was supposed to launch Hughes 5,000 feet into the air, clearing the Karman Line, the border between Earth's atmosphere and outer space.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time,” said the Science Channel. “It was always his dream to do this launch, and Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(LAKE COUNTY, Indiana) -- A couple in Indiana were arrested after allegedly driving two teenage boys off a road because their bikes had President Donald Trump flags attached to them, police said.

Cailyn Smith, 18, and Kyren Jones, 23, were each charged Thursday with two felony counts of intimidation and criminal recklessness over the incident involving the teens, who are brothers, according to an affidavit from Lake County, Indiana.

"This is an unfortunate incident that involved two brothers expressing their support for President Trump. Our residents in Hobart should be able to express their support for any political affiliation without fear of any adverse recourse," Capt. James Gonzales of the Hobart Police Department told ABC News in a statement Saturday.

The brothers told police that they were riding their bikes in the city of Hobart around 8:30 p.m. when a blue Chevy Malibu began following them, according to the affidavit. The boys then said that it "swerved as if the driver wanted to hit them" and they had to ride their bikes into the grass.

A woman, later identified as Smith, was yelling about the Trump flags during the incident, saying, "y'all scared just like your president" and "America is not great f-----," according to the affidavit. The car eventually sped off after one of the brothers threatened to call the police.

Smith and Jones were also charged with theft for allegedly taking the flag and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors.

Snapchat videos that Smith and Jones took helped investigators secure the charges against the two.

It was not immediately clear if Smith or Jones had obtained legal representation.

The brothers were asked if the incident would deter them from donning the Trump flags, according to the affidavit. Both said no.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- After four days of deliberating, jurors in the Harvey Weinstein trial have yet to return a verdict and are recessed for the weekend.

On Friday, jurors asked Manhattan Supreme Court Judge James Burke about returning a partial verdict on the five counts against Weinstein.

"We the jury request to understand if we can be hung on [counts] one and or three and unanimous on the other charges," they said on Friday afternoon. Counts one and three are the two top charges of predatory sexual assault.

The jurors were sent back to deliberate after the prosecution refused to accept a partial verdict, a smart move that may increase the likelihood of Weinstein being found guilty on all counts, Stewart Ryan, a former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, prosecutor in both Bill Cosby trials, told ABC News.

"I think the logical conclusion, assuming [the jurors] are talking about counts one and three, is they have guilty verdicts on two, four and five, and some compromise is being struck," said Ryan, now with the Philadelphia-based firm Laffey, Bucci & Kent, LLP.

He called the prosecution's refusal to accept a partial verdict a "smart move."

"From a legal perspective, it made sense to send them back," Ryan continued, "but I think it can ultimately benefit them to give the jury the weekend. Sending them home increases the likelihood they come back with a full guilty verdict."

However, he cautioned, "You never know what a jury is thinking."

For attorney Lara Yeretsian, the jury's question about a partial verdict may indicate it's deadlocked on the two charges of predatory sexual assault, which could be good news for the defense.

"It would be cause for celebration by the defense attorneys if he was acquitted on those charges or if it was a hung jury," Yeretsian, who has represented celebrities including Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson, said in a statement.

"This is a good sign for Weinstein," she added, "because it means the jury can't agree on the most serious charges, the ones that could be a life sentence. It also means they're not unanimous on at least one of the accusers or possibly both of them.

"If he's lucky, they'll acquit him on at least one of the women's charges, likely Jessica Mann. If they believed even one of the accusers' stories, they wouldn't have a hung jury -- unless it turned out to be Anabella Sciorra, the strongest witness, whose story they didn't believe. In any event, this looks like good news for the defense."

Weinstein has been charged with five counts of sexual assault related-crimes including predatory sexual assault and rape in the first degree, stemming from two women's allegations. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and claims all sexual encounters were consensual.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Monday.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- There is one more chilly morning to get through before a mild weekend sets in throughout much of the Midwest and Northeast.

Winter weather advisories are in place in and around Raleigh, North Carolina, Saturday morning for the threat of black ice. This comes after Raleigh’s first measurable snow in more than a year caused multiple accidents, school closures and flight delays and cancellations.

Around 2.5 inches of snow accumulated in Raleigh, giving the city a higher season snow total than Philadelphia (0.3 inches) and Washington, D.C. (0.6 inches)

Totals from this storm topped 4 inches in central North Carolina and 5 inches in southern Virginia.

Freeze warnings, and even wind chill advisories, are also posted Saturday morning in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.

By Saturday afternoon, the chill will be long gone as temperatures rebound and by Sunday afternoon temps will be back to normal for Raleigh and Atlanta.

Sunday’s high of 53 degrees in Chicago is more than 15 degrees above normal and a temperature you’re more likely to see in early April rather than late February.

Moving west, a new storm is bringing rain from California to New Mexico.

The heaviest rain will begin to fall Saturday morning in Arizona, where there are flash flood watches posted, including in Phoenix.

One to two inches of rain is forecast to fall in Arizona and flooding can quickly occur.

There is also the threat of some thunderstorms as lightning has already been seen around Phoenix overnight. These storms will contain heavy rain, small hail and strong winds.

Several spring training games are on the schedule Saturday in Arizona, and many teams are postponing their start times.

This storm system is also bringing snow, with winter weather advisories posted for parts of the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California and the mountains near Las Vegas.

This system moves east Saturday night and into Sunday.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(COSTA MESA, Calif.) -- A city in California won a battle against the state Friday, at least temporarily, when a judge halted the transfer of people diagnosed with the coronavirus to its community for a quarantine site.

Costa Mesa, California, filed a legal action after it learned federal officials planned to use its Fairview Development Center to house and quarantine several patients who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The city said it was given little notice, and without input, about the plan.

"We have received no information regarding how the facility will be prepared, what precautions will be taken to protect those in the facility as well as those who live nearby, and other important planning measures," Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement.

Judge Josephine Staton, according to the city, issued the temporary restraining order late Friday night. An expedited hearing is expected to be held Monday afternoon.

Foley said the planned quarantine facility is adjacent to several residential neighborhoods and she and the Costa Mesa City Council were concerned about the safety of residents.

"Our top priority is the safety and security of this community and those who live in this region," she said.

The city filed the injunction largely because it says it was excluded from the process and hopes to have a dialogue with state, federal and local agencies going forward. "A full and complete explanation of all plans is required," the city said in a statement.

"Our staff and council have worked nonstop to piece together information, and we voted unanimously in an emergency meeting to file a request for a legal injunction to halt this plan," Arlis Reynolds, a Costa Mesa council member, said in a statement Friday.

In the U.S., there are 14 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to the CDC. There are 21 people, 18 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was docked in Japan, who tested positive for the virus and were repatriated to the U.S.

Globally, there are reportedly more than 75,000 cases of the coronavirus, which has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization, with over 2,300 related deaths.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Loren Mariani(LOS ANGELES) -- Kelly McCumiskey will never forget the day she decided to try scuba diving.

Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and confined to a wheelchair, the Air Force veteran hoped that her first dive would be her last.

“I was just not a happy person,” McCumiskey, 60, from Los Angeles said. “My idea was I can kill myself and nobody would realize that I did it so I don't shame my family or the military.”

But instead of dying, diving saved McCumiskey’s life.

“We go down and we hit 35 feet and I was like, I must have died -- there's something majorly wrong,” McCumiskey said. “I didn't realize the feeling I was having was I was out of pain. When we came back on the boat and I didn't need any pain meds at all, my life changed.

"Diving actually saved my life.”

McCumiskey is one of the founding members of Dive Warriors -- a nonprofit based out of Long Beach, California that teaches disabled veterans how to scuba dive. Once a month, the group takes former armed service members to the Pacific Ocean where they dive as a team, free of charge.

“Every time I hit the water, I go he-he-he,” McCumiskey said. “I never realized they could literally hear me from the boat laughing underwater as I'm going down through my bubbles. It totally brings me back to life.”

The program provides essential water therapy for those who need it. Jared Lemon, 39, from Temecula, California, lost an arm during his second deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. He said he struggles with phantom limb pain and PTSD.

“The second I go underwater -- Boom!! It goes away,” Lemon said. “It is straight up therapeutic and when I come up, it's like a reset before the pain begins to build back up again.”

Therapy isn’t the only factor that brings the group together. Many veterans say the program lets them experience the camaraderie they felt while serving. Mike Randell, 50, from Las Vegas, is a Gulf War veteran who has been a part of Dive Warriors for three years now. He drives more than four hours each way just to be a part of the mission.

“It’s an extremely special bond,” Randell said. “A lot of us have the same injuries. We understand the pain, the horror, the misery each of us experienced. It's about the team here and it gave me a whole new outlook on life. Dive Warriors really saved my life.”

A recent government study found veteran suicide on the rise in the United States and a rate of death much higher than the civilian population. More than 6,000 veterans took their lives in 2017 alone, a 6% increase than the year before. Dive Warriors hopes to change that by providing a support network that veterans feel they can rely on.

“You build a special bond because you're back to your military mindset,” McCumiskey said. “You got their six no matter what happens. That's your battle buddy right there. When you get that call at 3 o'clock in the morning because somebody's suicidal that night, you're able to talk them off the ledge because of that relationship and military mentality built from dives like this.”

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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Fort Valley Police Department(MACON, Ga.) -- Authorities on Friday obtained an arrest warrant charging Demarcus Little with the murder of his girlfriend, Georgia college student Anitra Gunn, state investigators said.

Gunn, a student at Fort Valley State University, was last seen on Valentine's Day, just outside Fort Valley, Georgia, near Macon.

The 23-year-old was found dead Feb. 18 in a wooded area of Crawford County, Georgia.

Little, 23, was arrested on unrelated charges earlier this week, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

He was charged with criminal damage to property after tires were slashed on Gunn's car and windows were smashed at her apartment, the Fort Valley Department of Public Safety said.

Todd Crosby of the GBI did not elaborate on the evidence at a news conference Friday but said "there was some development this afternoon" that led to the malice murder charge.

Gunn's death was ruled a homicide Thursday, but her cause of death has not yet been released, pending toxicology reports, officials said.

"There are no words to describe this hurt," Gunn's father, Christopher Gunn, wrote on Facebook Wednesday.

Anitra Gunn was a senior visual and performing arts major at Fort Valley State, a historically black university, school officials said. She sang in both of the university's choirs, a school spokesperson told ABC News.

"On behalf of the entire campus community, we wish to convey our most heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and other loved ones," university president Paul Jones said in a statement. "Her loss is a tragedy for all those who loved Anitra, for Fort Valley State University and our entire community."

Fort Valley State will hold a candlelight vigil on Monday night.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.







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