Categories
Uncategorized

Police on hunt for extremely dangerous suspect in cemetery triple killing

Three bodies were found at Perris Valley Cemetery on Monday.

A manhunt is on in California for an “extremely dangerous” man suspected of killing three people at a cemetery this week, authorities said.

José Luis Torres Garcia, 33, has been identified as the suspect in the murders of three people whose bodies were found Monday at Perris Valley Cemetery in Perris, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, officials said.

The victims and the suspect knew each other, and it appears all four drove to the cemetery together, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said at a news conference Thursday.

A motive is not known, the sheriff said, but he added that these were not random killings.

Bianco said he believes Garcia acted alone, and that he should be considered “armed and extremely dangerous.”

Investigators zeroed in on him by combing through surveillance video from across the city, which the sheriff said placed Garcia with the three victims

The victims were identified by police as Jaime Covarrubias Espindola, 50, Jose Maria Aguilar-Espejel, 38, and Rodrigo Aguilar-Espejel, 28.

The sheriff has not said how the victims were killed.

A felony warrant has been issued for Garcia’s arrest, the sheriff said. A DUI warrant and a drug warrant were previously issued for Garcia, both in California, the sheriff said.

Bianco has asked the public for help in finding Garcia but urges people not to make contact with him.

ABC News’ Ella Torres contributed to this report.

Categories
Uncategorized

GOP attorneys general seek to block Equal Rights Amendment

Five Republican attorneys general are seeking to block an effort by three Democratic-led states to see the Equal Rights Amendment adopted into the U.S. Constitution

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —
Five Republican attorneys general are seeking to block an effort by three Democratic-led states to see the Equal Rights Amendment is adopted into the U.S. Constitution.

Legal chiefs in five states — Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska and South Dakota — filed a motion on Thursday to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Virginia, Nevada and Illinois. All five rescinded their approvals of the ERA amendment before a congressionally mandated ratification deadline more than 40 years ago, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said Thursday.

“Tennessee has an interest in ensuring that its vote to reject the ERA is given effect,” Slatery said.

Virginia recently became the 38th state to ratify the measure designed to guarantee women the same legal rights men enjoy. “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” it says.

Constitutional amendments must be ratified by three-quarters of the 50 states, or 38. But the ERA’s future is uncertain, in part because the ratification deadline set by Congress expired so long ago.

Enforcing that rule fell to the archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, who announced that he would “take no action to certify the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment.” The three Democratic attorneys general sued Ferriero, arguing that the deadline, first set for 1979 and later extended to 1982, is not binding

“The Equal Rights Amendment is valid as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution, and it is disappointing and frankly unfathomable that any state would take action to block equal rights for women,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring in a statement.

Herring added the Democratic states “will continue working with our partners to ensure that all women have the constitutional equality to which they are entitled.”

Categories
Uncategorized

Weinstein jury asks judge if they can issue partial verdict

The judge sent the jury back to keep deliberating.

Jurors in the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault case asked the judge about a partial verdict.

“We the jury request to understand if we can be hung on [counts] 1 and or 3 and unanimous on the other charges,” they said on Friday afternoon.

Counts one and three are the two top charges of predatory sexual assault.

Prosecutors argued that the jury should be instructed to keep deliberating, saying they would not be willing to accept a partial verdict “at this juncture.” Manhattan Supreme Court Judge James Burke sent the jury back to deliberate.

Earlier on Friday, the jury heard a read-back of Annabella Sciorra’s full cross-examination testimony — part of one of the most powerful and affecting accounts of the trial.

At a bathroom break about halfway through Annabella Sciorra’s full, 2-hour cross exam and redirect follows, the jury sent a new note, saying the read-backs could be ceased: they had heard all they needed.

On Thursday, the jury sent a note to Judge Burke, requesting the court read to them the cross-examination and everything after Sciorra’s testimony.

Sciorra described in wrenching detail in the courtroom on Jan. 23 about the night nearly 30 years ago that she alleges the disgraced Hollywood producer violently raped her at her apartment.

Her allegation is not one of those being considered as a charge in this trial, but, rather, was offered in support of two predatory sexual assault charges against Weinstein — which require the state to prove that Weinstein attacked at least two women — Sciorra and one of the two accusers. It’s part of prosecutors’ larger efforts to demonstrate a pattern of sexual predation.

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 any sexual encounters were consensual.

The jury’s request may indicate they’re working through the witnesses, and not the counts, a veteran law enforcement official following the trial closely told ABC News.

The jury is expected to spend most the day in deliberations, and with court ending early Friday at 3 p.m., it appears unlikely they will return any verdicts on Friday.

If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault and is seeking resources, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Categories
Uncategorized

West Side Story opening draws protesters on Broadway

There was a chorus outside the Broadway Theatre on Thursday at the opening night of a new revival of “West Side Story” but what was being sung was a protest chant

NEW YORK —
There was a chorus outside the Broadway Theatre on Thursday at the opening night of a new revival of “West Side Story” but what was being sung was a protest chant.

A group of about 100 people demanded the removal of cast member Amar Ramasar, who was fired and then reinstated last year at New York City Ballet for sharing nude photos of women and sexually explicit texts.

The protesters chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, Amar Ramasar has got to go!” before the curtain went up even as the opening night celebration drew such stars as Andrea Martin, Julie Taymor, Vanessa Hudgens, Alec Baldwin and Iman.

Protests outside Broadway shows are relatively rare but have occurred by anti-Scientology activists outside “All My Sons” starring Katie Holmes in 2008 and outside “The Scottsboro Boys” in 2010 by people upset by that show’s material.

Alexandra Waterbury, a former student with the City Ballet’s affiliated school, the School of American Ballet, alleged in 2018 that Ramasar and two other men shared nude photos of her, taken without her knowledge, with other men in the company.

Since, then, there’s been a petition to remove Ramasar from “West Side Story,” where he plays Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. Producers in a statement last week backed the actor, noting that the incident took place in a different workplace and “has been both fully adjudicated and definitively concluded according to the specific rules of that workplace.”

“There is zero consideration being given to his potentially being terminated from this workplace, as there has been no transgression of any kind, ever, in this workplace,” the statement read.

Protesters held signs that read: “Boo Bernardo” and “Keep Predators Off the Stage.” One of the organizers, Megan Rabin, said she wanted alleged abusers to know they’ve been put on notice.

“I hope that we can set the precedent that Broadway is no place for a sex offender. There’s no place in the spotlight for a sex offender, and men who abuse their power will face consequences for it,” Rabin said.

Actor’s Equity Association, which represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers, issued a statement saying it is trying to ensure that all Broadway actors work in a harassment-free environment.

“Everyone at ‘West Side Story’ should be able to go to work and perform feeling safe and protected in their workplace. Equity has been in communication with the general manager and the members of the show. As a union, Equity’s role is to ensure that our members are protected in the workplace and we take that responsibility very seriously. Equity will continue to hold all employers to their legal obligation to maintain a safe and harassment-free environment,” said Executive Director Mary McColl.

Ramasar and another dancer were initially terminated by New York City Ballet. The third dancer resigned before he could be fired. Their union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, appealed the firings to the arbitrator, and both were reinstated last year. Ramasar did not return to the ballet company.

———

Associated Press writer Mark Kennedy contributed to this report.

Categories
Uncategorized

Wells Fargo agrees to $3 billion settlement over fake accounts

The bank has agreed to admit wrongdoing as part of the deal.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Wells Fargo have agreed to a $3 billion settlement that includes the bank admitting to opening millions of fake accounts.

A criminal investigation into the company’s actions found that from 2002 to 2016 Wells Fargo pressured employees to meet unrealistic sales goals, which led to millions of accounts being created by “thousands” of employees without consent from customers, a DOJ official told reporters on Friday.

“This settlement holds Wells Fargo accountable for tolerating fraudulent conduct that is remarkable both for its duration and scope, and for its blatant disregard of customer’s private information,” Michael Granston, deputy assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s civil division, said in a statement.

Wells Fargo, as part of a three-year deferred prosecution agreement, will admit that, among other illegal practices, employees created false records and forged customers’ signatures to open unauthorized checking and savings accounts, in some cases altering customers’ personal information so they wouldn’t be notified of changes to their accounts.

“The conduct at the core of today’s settlements — and the past culture that gave rise to it — are reprehensible and wholly inconsistent with the values on which Wells Fargo was built,” CEO Charlie Scharf said in a statement reacting to the settlement. “Our customers, shareholders and employees deserved more from the leadership of this Company. Over the past three years, we’ve made fundamental changes to our business model, compensation programs, leadership and governance.”

This settlement only pertains to the bank — no protections are extended to current or former employees or executives who may have been implicated in the scandal.

The $3 billion includes a $500 million civil penalty that will be distributed to investors by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wells Fargo in January reported a fourth-quarter net profit of $2.9 billion, down from $6.1 billion a year earlier.

For all of 2019, the bank reported a net profit of $19.5 billion.