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August 26th, 2013
06:12 AM ET

Judge May Set Date for Arias Penalty Phase Retrial

Convicted murderer Jodi Arias will be back in court this morning and a judge could set a date for her "penalty phase" retrial.

After listening to four months of testimony, it took the three days for the first Arizona jury to find Arias guilty of killing her boyfriend.

But they could not decide against the death penalty or life in prison.

According to Arizona law, prosecutors are allowed one more chance at death.

“If a new jury still can't decide, Arias will get life in prison and a judge will determine whether or not she's eligible for parole,” reports CNN's Ted Rowlands.

The new trial won’t be as long because the original first degree guilty verdict still holds and the new jury will not hear as much information as the first.

But finding impartial new jurors who haven't heard of the Arias case will be difficult, given the wide media coverage of the first trial, as will finding witnesses that will stand-up for Arias.

Pleading for life after 18 days on the witness stand during the trial, Arias had asked the jury to spare her life for the sake of her family saying, “Either way, I'm going to spend the rest of my life in prison, either a life that is shortened or not. if it's shortened, the people who will hurt the most are my family. I'm asking you, please, please don't do that to them.”

So in the end, Arias may end up being her own best chance for avoiding the death penalty. What, if anything she says to the new jury may determine if she lives or dies.

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Filed under: Jodi Arias • Law • Murder trial
July 10th, 2013
06:47 AM ET

Debate over forensics at day 11 of Zimmerman trial – George Howell reports

A dramatic series of arguments to report at the George Zimmerman trial yesterday.

Day 11 of the trial turned into a debate over forensics, and who was where when the fatal shot hit Trayvon Martin.

The judge left open a key decision, over data jurors might see when they are back in court just a few hours from now.

George Howell reports details live from Sanford, Florida.

“Judge Debra Nelson, the Prosecution, and Defense wrangled late into the night—10pm—over whether to admit text messages & photos from Trayvon Martin's phone, and a computer animated reconstruction of the crime scene, that defense attorneys want admitted as evidence,” Howell reports.

“Judge Nelson questioned whether Martin actually sent the messages, or someone else. Defense Attorney Don West meanwhile argued the text messages and photos weren't turned over by the prosecution in a timely manner.”

In the end, the judge didn't rule on either issue, adjourned court, and walked off after hours of arguments.

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Filed under: Law • Trial • Zimmerman
July 9th, 2013
05:58 AM ET

Defense witnesses dispute Prosecution claims in Zimmerman trial – George Howell reports

The defense presented its case in the George Zimmerman trial yesterday.

Jurors heard from a parade of witnesses, all disputing a key prosecution claim that the voice screaming for help on the 911 call the night Trayvon Martin died was Martin’s. Defense witnesses hammered home the same answer to make their case that the voice screaming on the call was actually George Zimmerman's.

Today, the defense is set to introduce its own controversial piece of evidence: A toxicology report on Trayvon Martin.

George Howell has details.

“Judge Debra Nelson ruled that testimony regarding marijuana levels in Trayvon Martin's system will now be allowed as evidence for jurors to consider, as this trial moves into day 11,” Howell reports.

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Filed under: Law • Trial • Zimmerman
June 13th, 2013
06:22 AM ET

Mom busts alleged child predator – John Zarrella has the story

This morning CNN is reporting a story of a crusading parent out to keep her daughter safe.

A mother we are identifying only by Carolyn, her first name, pretended to be her own 11-year-old daughter and used social media to turn the tables against an alleged child predator. John Zarrella has more on the story.

Carolyn says she found inappropriate messages sent to her daughter from a grown man and fooled the alleged predator into thinking she was her daughter in order to stop him and eventually have him caught. “The man now charged with sending the lewd texts and pictures is 23 year old Michael Jerome Bradley,” Zarella says. “But Bradley might still be out there if not for Carolyn's dogged pursuit.”

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Filed under: Crime • Law • Parenthood • Uncategorized
June 4th, 2013
06:23 AM ET

Ex-Cop denies killing wife – Ted Rowlands reports


A former policeman is on trial in Kansas, accused of killing his wife and setting their home on fire more than two years ago.

Attorneys for Brett Seacat say his wife, Vashti, started the fire and shot herself.

But prosecutors say he was upset about the dissolution of their marriage, giving him more than enough motive.

On Monday, jurors heard from the Seacats' marriage counselor,CNN affiliate KWCH reported.

Connie Suderman testified that Seacat called her just hours after his wife's death in April 2011.

"He said, 'I killed her, Vashti is dead and it's my fault.' That's what he said," Suderman said, according to KWCH.

The counselor also testified that she met with Vashti Seacat shortly before her death.

READ MORE: Did Kansas cop kill wife, burn down their home?

Filed under: Court • Crime • Law
May 31st, 2013
07:02 AM ET

AZ mom is freed from Mexican prison – Rafael Romo has more on her release

A Mexican judge ordered the release of Arizona woman Yanira Maldonado from prison late Thursday. Maldonado was arrested last Wednesday as she and her husband, Gary, were on their way back to Arizona. She was accused of attempting to smuggle 12 pounds of marijuana that Mexican authorities alleged they had found under her bus seat.

Maldonado reunited with her husband with an emotional bearhug after her release and speaks live to the press. Rafeal Romo has more on the story on "Early Start" this morning.

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Filed under: Crime • International law • Law • Law enforcement • Mexico
May 29th, 2013
09:09 AM ET

American woman jailed in Mexico due in court today – Casey Wian reports

The American woman accused of trying to smuggle 12 lb. of marijuana is due in court today. Casey Wian has more. "There's a chance she's gonna get out soon," Wian reports. But, he says, “In this case the judge has the power to hold Maldonado in prison up to four months before trial.”

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Filed under: Court • Crime • Law
May 29th, 2013
08:52 AM ET

Inside Arias' jury room – Christine Romans has the story

Last week, the jury deadlocked during the sentencing phase of Jodi Arias’ trial. Eight jurors wanted the death penalty, four others held out for life, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial. Christine Romans has more on what went on inside the jury room and why the jurors couldn’t make a unanimous decision to sentence Arias.

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Filed under: Crime • Jodi Arias trial • Law
May 28th, 2013
07:46 AM ET

American wife & mother accused of smuggling pot, arrested in Mexico – John Berman reports

Yanira Maldonado, an American woman accused of smuggling pot in Mexico, may find out today if she will go free or remain in jail until her trial. John Berman has the story.

"Arizona Senator Jeff Flake says he is personally involved," Berman reports. "He is working the case. He's had several conversations with...the Mexican Ambassador to the United States. They're trying to bring Maldonado home."

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Filed under: Court • Crime • Law
March 22nd, 2013
05:44 AM ET

Texas police chase may be linked to Colorado prison chief's death – Ed Lavandera reports

Police in Colorado are taking a "strong look" at whether a suspect shot dead by police in Texas is the same man wanted in the killing of Colorado's prison chief. The man was gunned down after a wild chase in a car that was similar to one seen leaving the Colorado home where Tom Clements was shot dead as he answered his door.

CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera has more live from Decatur, Texas this morning. “The chase started when a Sheriffs Deputy tried to the Cadillac over on a remote stretch of Texas highway,” Lavadera reports. “Deputy James Boyd was shot twice in the chest, but he was wearing a bullet proof vest and is expected to survive. That triggered a long high speed chase.”

Lavandera says "The Denver Post," quoting federal and state officials, identified the suspect as 28-year-old Evan Spencer Ebel, a parolee from the Denver area. “The Post says Ebel is the focus of the investigation into the murder of Tom Clements, the director of Colorado's prison system. In a press release Thursday night, El PasoCounty investigators in Colorado did not deny the accuracy of the reports but instead criticized the leak of Evan Ebel's name by law enforcement sources.”

Filed under: Crime • Law • Law enforcement
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