Saturday September 29, 2012

Burnt currency, campus ban: Tidbits of info. give little insight into Colo. shooter

DENVER (AP) -- The suspect in the Aurora movie shooting case mailed "burnt currency," along with a notebook, to his psychiatrist before the attack. He threatened a professor and was banned from a university campus before withdrawing from its neuroscience graduate program. His defense team has added a psychiatrist.

Those were the few tidbits of information in hundreds of pages of heavily-redacted court documents released Friday, which serve as the best chance the public has to understand what happened before James Holmes allegedly opened fire at a midnight screening of the new Batman movie more than two months ago.

The documents shed little light on Holmes’ possible motives or whether the university ignored warning signs about him. That’s partly because Arapahoe County District Judge William B. Sylvester continued to keep under seal the key documents in the case -- the affidavit that lays out prosecutors’ case against Holmes, and the search warrants that allowed them to gather evidence against him.

Holmes, 24, faces 152 charges in the July 20 shooting that killed 12 people and injured 58 others.

Some of the documents are entirely blacked out. In others, Sylvester’s rulings on legal disputes, references to years-old case law and even copies of newspaper articles are redacted, along with information about the investigation.


Advertisement

Syria rebels launch broadest push yet for top city; U.S. says regime moved chemical weapons

BEIRUT (AP) -- Rebels on Friday pressed their broadest assault yet to drive President Bashar Assad’s forces out of Syria’s largest city, activists said, with fierce fighting erupting in an Aleppo neighborhood that is home to Kurds, an ethnic minority that has mostly stayed out of the civil war.

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said intelligence suggests Assad has moved some of Syria’s chemical weapons to better secure them. Panetta said the main sites are believed to be secure, though his comments indicated that there are lingering questions about what happened to some of the weapons.

On the diplomatic front, top representatives from Western nations and Middle East allies met Friday at the U.N. to urge Syria’s fractured opposition to unite. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Friends of Syria group that the U.S. would deliver an additional $15 million in non-lethal aid and $30 million in humanitarian support, on top of more than $175 million already given to political opposition.

Diplomacy has been largely sidelined in the 18-month-old Syria conflict because a key tool -- U.N. Security Council action -- has been neutralized by vetoes from Assad allies Russia and China.

The military battle for control of the country has also been locked in a stalemate, most visibly in Aleppo, a northern city of 3 million. Since a rebel offensive on Aleppo two months ago, each side has controlled about half of the city and has repeatedly tried -- but failed -- to capture the rest. Aleppo would be a major strategic prize, giving the victor new momentum.

U.S. seeks to rally Syrian opposition, Clinton pledges $45M in additional aid

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Obama administration moved Friday to rally Syria’s opposition with pledges of $45 million in new non-lethal and humanitarian assistance as the administration and other world leaders lamented the failure of diplomatic efforts to push Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. would contribute an additional $15 million in non-lethal gear -- mostly communications equipment -- to the civilian opposition trying to oust Assad as well as $30 million in new humanitarian assistance to help those affected by the continuing violence.

She also delivered a new, stark warning to Iran that it must stop arming and supporting the Assad regime.

"It is no secret that our attempts to move forward at the U.N. Security Council have been blocked repeatedly, but the United States is not waiting," Clinton said as she announced the new aid at a gathering of the Friends of Syria group that she hosted at a New York hotel on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. She and other foreign ministers from the group met with nine Syrian opposition figures, including several who traveled from Syria to attend Friday’s session, to discuss strategy.

With U.N. action blocked by Russia and China, Clinton said the rest of the world must support the Syrian opposition. She also said it was urgent that the fractured foes of the regime unite around plans for a political transition that could put an end to more than three decades of Assad family rule. Activists say the current 18-month long conflict has led to more than 30,000 deaths.

Man apparently shoots self in head on live TV after high-speed chase west from Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) -- A man apparently shot himself in the head Friday on live national television at the end of a high-speed chase that began in Phoenix.

Fox News was covering the chase that began at midday using a live helicopter shot from Phoenix affiliate KSAZ-TV when the man driving what appeared to be a crossover sedan stopped, ran into the desert and appeared to place a handgun to his head and fire.

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith told viewers minutes later that the video was supposed to be on a 10-second delay so it could be cut off from airing if something went awry.

"We really messed up, and we’re all very sorry," Smith said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the man survived.

Police: Masked teen killed by father had knife; dad didn’t realize it was his son till later

NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) -- A popular fifth-grade teacher fatally shot a masked, knife-wielding prowler outside his house during what appeared to be a late-night burglary attempt, only to discover he had killed his 15-year-old son, police say.

"It’s something out of a Hollywood script," said John Hodge, the first selectman, or top elected official, in the town of about 14,000 people. He said he couldn’t recall another killing in his eight years on the job.

No immediate charges were brought against the father, Jeffrey Giuliano, in the shooting of his son, Tyler, around 1 a.m. Thursday. Police said they were investigating whether the father’s handgun was registered.

State police said Jeffrey Giuliano got a call from his sister next door saying that someone might be trying to break into her home. Giuliano grabbed a gun and went outside to investigate, troopers said.

He confronted someone in a black ski mask and black clothing and opened fire when the person came at him with a knife, police said.

No sign of remains in soil in new Detroit-area search for Hoffa; union boss disappeared in ‘75

ROSEVILLE, Mich. (AP) -- Jimmy Hoffa is presumed dead, cocooned in mystery and innuendo and missing for the past 37 years. Patricia Szpunar just hopes that if the former Teamsters boss’ remains do turn up, they’re not in her backyard.

Over the years, authorities have dug up a Michigan horse farm, looked under a swimming pool and pulled up floorboards in their quest for Hoffa.

The latest search led police, droves of local and national reporters and dozens of curious onlookers to Szpunar’s brick ranch-style home in Roseville.

"I’m looking forward to everybody going home," she told The Associated Press on Friday from her front porch. Szpunar has lived at the house since 1988.

Minutes earlier, a small mob of people scooted by, following closely behind police who were carrying tubes of soil samples taken from two 6-foot holes drilled through the concrete floor of her backyard shed.

6 teens arrested in taped beating of Pa. woman

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) -- Six teenagers were in custody Friday on charges they brutally beat a neighbor on her stoop just "for fun" and then posted cellphone video of the attack on Facebook, authorities said.

Four 16- and 17-year-old girls were charged as adults in the attack on the 48-year-old woman, a crime that has shaken this struggling city of about 30,000 residents just outside Philadelphia. The girls were charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, burglary and harassment. Another teen girl and a 19-year-old woman were also arrested later Friday afternoon.

The woman, whom police described as "mentally challenged," was punched, kicked and hit with a shoe and chair, and suffered cuts and bruises but no broken bones, authorities said. Her name was not released.

The attack occurred Tuesday at a two-story stucco house, where the woman lived, down the block from a small grocery. No one answered the door at the building Friday.

"It appears just for fun," Chester police Detective James Nolan said. "There hasn’t been a discernible explanation as to why."

Police Commissioner Joseph M. Bail Jr. said the victim was doing better Friday and being treated for lacerations and abrasions at a crisis unit.

The Delaware County Daily Times first obtained video footage from police on Thursday.

It showed a group of girls walking down a sidewalk then suddenly attacking a woman sitting on her stoop. The teens follow the woman into her home as she tries to escape, taking turns punching and beating her. They quickly flee.

In the neighborhood where the woman lives, cashier Crystal Pate said she knows two of the girls -- one babysits her daughter -- and said they were not bad kids.

Chester has long battled high rates of crime and poverty. Mayor John Linder said youth should understand that attacking people will not be tolerated.

"This is an egregious attack," Linder said. "It’s unbearable."