Crime in the News - FindLaw Blotter
FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

Recently in Crime in the News Category

Amanda Knox may now breathe a sigh of relief. She has finally been acquitted of murder.

Again.

Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation, overturned Amanda Knox's latest conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher. Knox's legal nightmare began in 2007 when her roommate in Italy, Meredith Kercher was found murdered in their home. Knox and her then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of murder in 2009. They were then acquitted by an appeals court in 2011. The story did not end there. The Court of Cassation then overturned the acquittal and ordered a retrial in 2013. Knox and Sollecito were once again convicted in 2014. Friday's decision overturned the 2014 conviction, concluding that the evidence did not support the conviction.

Police in Charlottesville, Virginia say they have found no evidence to substantiate a University of Virginia students' claim that she was gang raped at a fraternity party in 2012. The accusations were published by Rolling Stone in November 2014, sparking nation-wide discussion and controversy.

However, Police Chief Timothy Longo told a news conference that a five-month investigation did not uncover any evidence to "conclude to any substantive degree that an incident occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house or any other fraternity house, for that matter." Longo added, "That doesn't mean something terrible didn't happen to Jackie ... we're just not able to gather sufficient facts to determine what that is."

In the last month, a Michigan couple was charged with animal cruelty for neglecting five horses and letting a pony die. An Alabama man pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty for killing a neighbor's cat. And a reality television star angered fans when he tried to run over a cat with a sleigh.

With so many animal lovers demanding justice, readers may be wondering: Are there any defenses to an animal cruelty charge?

The answer, of course, depends on the circumstances of each particular case. But here are three potential animal cruelty defenses that defendants may want to consider:

Penn State is once again at the center of a scandal. A Pennsylvania State University fraternity has been suspended for allegedly posting pictures of unconscious and nude women onto two private Facebook pages.

Penn State's Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) has been suspended for one year pending an investigation by police and university officials into the Facebook pages. According to CNN, one page was entitled "Covert Business Transaction"; this page was shut down after a victim complained and was replaced with a second page entitled "2.0."

The pages were discovered by a victim who saw a topless photo of her on a fraternity member's open Facebook page. Other pictures showed unconscious women fully or partially naked in sexual or embarrassing positions, along with drug sales and hazing. Somebody wiped the pages clean before police were able to get a warrant, but authorities were able to find 20 printed images that were originally on the pages.

Police are still investigating and have yet to arrest anybody. However, what could these frat members even be arrested for?

In a case that prompted stricter potency limits on edibles in Colorado, a man accused of shooting his wife after eating marijuana laced candy.

Richard Kirk, 48, of Denver, pleaded not guilty to first degree murder last week. Kirk was arrested in April 2014, after his wife Kristine was shot while on the phone with 911. Kristine told 911 operators that her husband had eaten pot candy and was paranoid and hallucinating. Richard allegedly crawled through a broken bedroom window, got his gun from a locked safe, and shot his wife in the head.

Will prosecutors be able to prove first degree murder and convict Richard Kirk?

Police have arrested and charged a man accused of shooting and injuring two police officers during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, last week.

Jeffrey Williams, 20, allegedly shot one officer in the shoulder and another in the face during a protest Thursday night. Tips from the public led officers to Williams' home, where they found a handgun that matched the shell casings at the scene of the crime, CNN reports. Williams was charged with two counts of first-degree assault, one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle, and three counts of armed criminal action.

While investigation is ongoing, what will prosecutors have to prove in order to convict?

You may have heard of or seen incidents of animals being hurt or mistreated by humans. But what exactly is animal cruelty under the law?

One recent case has animal rights activists fuming. A North Carolina woman was arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty after she allegedly let her dog die of starvation. The dog had medical issues, and the woman claimed she spent hundreds of dollars trying to nurse the dog back to health. Animal control investigators suspected foul play when the dog was surrendered to animal control, sick and severely underweight. The case is pending, and if convicted, the woman could spend up to 30 months in jail.

Did the woman really commit animal cruelty? The simple answer is that it depends on the jurisdiction.

Jodi Arias will be sentenced to life in prison after jurors failed to agree on whether to sentence her to death. A previous jury convicted Arias in 2013 of killing her lover, Travis Alexander.

With jurors deadlocked on sentencing and no indication they could reach a consensus, the judge was forced to declare a mistrial and will now decide if Arias should be eligible for parole after 25 years.

Eddie Ray Routh has been found guilty of murdering former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield. The jury sentenced Routh, a former U.S. Marine, to life in prison without the possibility of parole, concluding what had been dubbed the "American Sniper" trial after Kyle's autobiography and subsequent blockbuster movie of the same name.

Coinciding with the release of the Clint Eastwood-directed movie depicting Kyle's life and service as a sniper in Iraq, Routh's murder trial gained widespread media coverage. Other veterans, some biopic subjects themselves, have been vocal in their support for Kyle and in their outrage at his killer.

Although the verdict was read Tuesday night, the story isn't quite over yet. Here are five things to know about what the jury decided and where the case goes from here:

Police have charged a New Jersey mom, a first-grade teacher, with endangering the welfare of a child after a 15-year-old attending a drinking party at her home had to be hospitalized.

Tracey Harding, 50, of South Brunswick, was allegedly aware of the boy's condition, but told the teen's mother he was sleeping when the mother called looking for her son, The Associated Press reports.

In some cases, it's parents acknowledging that their kids will drink anyway and trying to provide a safe environment and keep an eye on them. In other cases, it's parents trying to be cool and impress their kids. Even with the best intentions, moms and dads can get into legal hot water for allowing their kids to imbibe on their watch.