Home US News

US News

National News – ABC News Radio National News and Headlines From ABC News Radio

  • Puerto Rico readies for large protests pushing for governor’s resignation as celebrities rally demonstrators
    by KT on July 18, 2019 at 1:36 am

    Jose Jimenez/Getty Images(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) — Residents, officials and authorities in San Juan were gearing up Wednesday for what was being touted as large demonstrations in the Puerto Rican capital, as protesters went back to the streets to continue demanding the resignation of embattled Gov. Ricardo Rosello.San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told ABC News in a call on Tuesday night that she expected Wednesday’s planned protest to be the largest they have seen yet — with 20,000 people marching from the Capitol building to the governor’s mansion. She credited the involvement of musical artists who had called for protests. On Saturday, the nonprofit journalism group Center of Investigative Journalism published nearly 900 pages of conversations from a leaked group chat between Rosello and several top aides that detail efforts to manipulate public narratives, operations to discredit negative press coverage and criticism of opposition leaders.The conversations, made through the Telegram app, also contain sexist, homophobic and misogynistic comments from the members of the group, according to the report. These messages have not been independently authenticated by ABC News. After the revelation of the messages, Rossello announced the resignation of a number of government officials including Luis Rivera Marin, the secretary of state. “I have not committed any illegal acts, or corrupt acts. I committed an improper act,” Rossello said of the Telegram chat group messages.But by Monday, the Old San Juan streets surrounding the governor’s mansion were filled with hundreds of protesters calling for Rossello to leave. Clashes left nearly two dozen police officers injured.On Tuesday, Rossello apologized for his involvement in the messaging but insisted that he would not resign his post.”I’m not proud of what I did. Those were merely comments but they were hurtful comments. And I apologize for what I’ve done. But, I need to move forward, continue on with the work I’m doing for Puerto Rico,” he said. He said he understood that Monday night’s protests were a direct message against him and his administration.”I will continue in my job,” a defiant Rossello said from the governor’s mansion, adding “my commitment is to keep on working.”On Wednesday, Royal Caribbean said that a second cruise ship — this time, the Harmony of the Seas — would not be stopping in San Juan because of concerns about the demonstrations.”Due to the ongoing civil unrest in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we have cancelled Harmony of the Seas’ call to San Juan. Harmony will now sail to St. Maarten, her next scheduled port of call. Concern for the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew members is our top priority,” the company said.The previous day, Royal Caribbean said it that had canceled a planned stop to the city by its Empress of the Seas and would be rerouting to Tortola.”Our guests will receive refunds for prepaid shore excursions. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will make adjustments as necessary,” the company said in part.In response to the news that the Empress of the Seas would not be docking in San Juan, Cruz told ABC News Tuesday night that there are times where one has to “forego a little today to ensure a lot tomorrow.” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a written statement on Tuesday that the latest political developments on the island “prove the President’s concerns about mismanagement, politicization, and corruption have been valid.”The governor responded to the White House’s comments, saying “Corruption is a social evil. It’s a social evil in the private sector, it’s a social evil in local government, it’s a social evil in the federal government.” Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. […]

  • ‘A new beginning’: Man convicted of murder in the ’90s exonerated thanks to genetic genealogy
    by CJC on July 17, 2019 at 10:35 pm

    Zinkevych/iStock(IDAHO FALLS, Idaho) — In the 1990s, Christopher Tapp was sent to prison for the rape and murder of Idaho teen Angie Dodge.Despite his DNA not matching evidence found at the crime scene, he was still convicted based on the theory that multiple people were involved in the crime.On Wednesday, after decades of proclaiming his innocence and claiming his confession was coerced, Tapp was finally exonerated due to the novel DNA technique of genetic genealogy, which was used to find identify a new suspect in Dodge’s murder.Stepping out of the courthouse, Tapp told reporters, “I hope that things get learned from this mistake and I hope things get changed.””I’m glad I was able to come out the other end and still smile and still be happy,” he said.”I accepted the fact that I was gonna be a convicted felon,” Tapp said. “Now I don’t ever have to worry about that. It’s a new life, a new beginning, a new world for me. And I’m just gonna enjoy it every day.”Tapp added, “I hope nobody ever forgets Angie Dodge.”Mystery DNA and a coerced confessionThe case dates back to June 13, 1996, when 18-year-old Dodge was raped and killed in her Idaho Falls apartment.Semen and hair was collected at the scene and DNA testing showed they belonged to the same suspect, according to the Idaho Falls Police. Detectives canvassed the neighborhood in their search for the killer, but to no avail.In January 1997, Tapp, then a 20-year-old living in Idaho Falls, confessed to being involved in the rape and murder, according to authorities.His DNA didn’t match the semen and hair samples but police said “an existing theory was that multiple people were involved and Tapp was suspected to have been one of those people.”Tapp — a “kid” “scared for his life” — sat through nine interrogations, his attorney, John Thomas, told ABC News.”Tapp’s confession matched details from the crime scene and included assertions that he had not acted alone,” said police. “Based on his confessions, knowledge of the crime, and other facts that supported a theory that multiple people had been involved in the rape and murder, Tapp was convicted in 1998 by a jury.”No information from Tapp — who is now 43 — led to more arrests or the person who left behind DNA, police added.A proclamation of innocenceIn 2001, Tapp said his confession was coerced and that he was innocent, but Idaho’s supreme court affirmed the conviction, police said. The Idaho Innocence Project took up Tapp’s case as one of their first and pushed for his exoneration.Tapp filed several petitions for post-conviction relief over the years, and in 2017, while a petition was pending, he made a plea deal to amend his sentence.To secure the deal, Thomas presented new DNA evidence and argued that Tapp’s confession was coerced.In 1997, after being “coerced and pressured” by investigators, Tapp told police he held Dodge down by her wrists during the rape and murder, Thomas said. Dodge’s hands were swabbed for DNA but were not tested until 2016; that test found DNA was only present from Dodge and the killer — not Tapp, said Thomas. It was unclear why the evidence wasn’t tested at the time.In the 2017 deal, the rape conviction was vacated, Tapp’s murder sentence was reduced to time served and he was freed, said Thomas.New technology finds a new suspectIdaho Falls police say the search for the mystery suspect who left DNA at the crime scene never stopped in the years after Dodge’s killing.In November 2018, police turned to genetic genealogy.Genetic genealogy — a novel technique that compares unknown DNA evidence to public genetic databases to identify suspects through their family members — has been called a “game-changer” in the effort to crack cold cases.Since the arrest of the suspected “Golden State Killer” in April 2018, about 70 suspects have been identified through the technology, according to CeCe Moore, the chief genealogist at Parabon NanoLabs, which investigated the Dodge murder among others.Moore, who also appeared as an expert in ABC News “20/20″ episodes, said she started building family trees of people who shared DNA with the unknown suspect and with each other, and found where those intersected in one marriage. She was spurred on by Dodge’s mother who inspired her to push thru this case even though it was so difficult.”I knew the suspect had to be a descendant of that marriage, so I narrowed it down to six men who were descendants of that couple. And five of the six on that list lived over 1,000 miles away, didn’t have any connection to Idaho that we could find. One of them did live in Idaho,” Moore told ABC News.In February, investigators surveilled the man who lived in Idaho, obtaining a wad of discarded chewing tobacco from him, said police.That man not only was not a match to the DNA at the crime scene, but he was also found not to be close relative to the suspect, Moore said.While Moore felt like she “was back to square one,” she said she also was “aware of the fact there could be a missing descendant.”Moore remembered that one of the men in the family had gotten married early and then divorced. While there didn’t appear to be a child from the marriage, she thought it was possible that a child was born shortly after they separated.”I went back to my research and tried to find what happened to that woman… we finally found her by finding her mother’s obituary, which listed her current name and listed a son,” Moore said.It turns out Moore’s hunch was correct — that son was from the first marriage but carried his stepfather’s last name — Dripps.In May, detectives went to Caldwell, Idaho, to investigate Brian Dripps Sr.Investigators recovered a cigarette butt Dripps threw out of his car window — and the DNA on the cigarette butt was found to be a match to the semen and hair at the crime scene, police said.As it turned out, Dripps lived across the street from Dodge when she was killed. Detectives even spoke to him five days after the slaying during a neighborhood canvass, police said.But he moved away from Idaho Falls the year of the murder, police said.Dripps, 53, was arrested on May 15 and charged with Dodge’s murder and rape, police said. In a police interview, once confronted with the DNA evidence, he admitted to the crime and said he went into Dodge’s apartment alone.Dripps has not entered a plea and his attorney did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment. He has a motion hearing set for Thursday and a preliminary hearing on Aug. 7.Also, in May of this year, a key witness in the case reportedly recanted her testimony, according to the Post-Register newspaper.’The power of genetic genealogy’Tapp, who was released from prison in 2017, is married and working at a local plastic bag factory, his lawyer said.”He’s doing well,” his lawyer, Thomas told ABC News on Tuesday, but getting back his family’s name will mean a lot to him.”It is a huge thing for him and his mom. They’re the last two Tapps of his particular line,” he said. “He hasn’t had any children. He’s an only child for his mom.””It’s hard for me to fathom or believe it still,” Tapp told ABC News hours before the exoneration hearing. “For me it’s just the disappointment I’ve received over the last 22.5 years…. I just didn’t know what was gonna happen, if the state or the judge or anybody would do the right thing.”On Wednesday afternoon, a judge approved prosecutors’ motion for post-conviction relief, making Tapp the first person to be exonerated for murder thanks to genetic genealogy, said Moore.Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Clark said he believed there was clear and convincing evidence of Tapp’s innocence.Tapp was accused of helping with the murder, not being the sole killer, and Clark says investigators believe Dripps’ alleged confession was to acting alone.Ethically “my obligation is to remedy that conviction,” Clark told ABC News before the hearing. “That’s a very sobering thing to be involved in, no doubt.”Moore called Tapp’s case a highlight of her career.”I’m more excited and exhilarated about this than I think anything else. It’s just such an incredible feeling to be a part of clearing an innocent man’s name,” she said.Moore believes genetic genealogy will help with more exonerations going forward.”There’s been so much focus put on arresting the violent criminals — which is very important — but I always thought there wasn’t enough attention put on the fact that when we do that, we’re clearing a lot of other potential persons of interest, or even suspects,” Moore said.”So it’s been less formal with all the other cases, but there are many other cases where people’s names have been cleared thanks to genetic genealogy, people who have carried burdens for years,” she said. “So I think this is very important to demonstrate the power of genetic genealogy, not just to convict people, but also to exonerate.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. […]

  • Sex assault charge dropped against actor Kevin Spacey
    by KT on July 17, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    Scott Eisen/Getty Images(NANTUCKET, Mass.) — Prosecutors in Nantucket on Wednesday dropped a felony sexual assault charge against the actor Kevin Spacey, after watching their case against the actor slowly fall apart under scrutiny from Spacey’s defense team during months of contentious pre-trial hearings that unfolded in the resort island’s lone courtroom.The decision to drop the charges followed a meeting between the accuser, his parents and prosecutors on Sunday, July 14, following a July 8 hearing in which the alleged victim exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a hearing in which he was testifying about his missing cell phone.”The complaining witness was informed that if he chose to continue to invoke his Fifth Amendment right, the case would not be able to go forward,” Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said in a statement released on Wednesday. “After a further period of reflection privately with his lawyer, the complaining witness elected not to waive his right under the Fifth Amendment.”In October, 2017, the young man contacted the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office to allege that 15 months earlier Spacey had plied him with beer and whiskey in July 2016 after meeting the two met at the Club Car bar and restaurant in Nantucket, where the young man had worked that summer as a busboy, and sexually assaulted him.The alleged victim admitted to authorities that he lied to Spacey about his age, saying he was a 23-year-old college student attending Wake Forest University, when in fact he was an 18-year-old busboy working at the restaurant where he met the actor.The alleged victim told investigators that while Spacey was touching him, he was texting and communicating with his girlfriend and other friends on Snapchat and sent his girlfriend a Snapchat video of Spacey groping him, according to the criminal complaint. He alleged the inappropriate touching of his genitals continued for about three minutes, according to the complaint. Those texts and videos have been a key focus of heated, pre-trial courtroom debates during previous hearings in the case.In January, authorities charged Spacey with a single felony count of indecent assault and battery.But over the course of months of pre-trial hearings, it emerged that the mother of Spacey’s accuser had deleted potentially exculpatory data from her son’s cell phone before turning it over to police, and that the lead investigator in the case did not file a report stating the mother’s voluntary admission until just last month — in June, 2019 — more than three years after the alleged encounter.When Spacey’s defense team learned of these developments last month, they sought from the judge in the case and were granted direct access to the accuser’s phone.Defense attorneys, who compared the results of the state’s forensic examination of the phone with screenshots of the group chat conversation from that night that the accuser had initially texted to investigators, concluded that key parts of those conversations had been deleted before the phone was turned over to investigators.A civil attorney for the accuser then informed the court that the phone had apparently been irretrievably lost — and even questioned whether police returned the device to the family at all after the government completed its forensic exam of the contents of the phone.The accuser appeared in court earlier this month and took the witness stand. He testified he did not report the alleged assault to police for 15 months, in October, 2017, rather than the three months prosecutors had been contending since filing charges against the actor in January. The lead investigator in the case testified later that day under questioning from Spacey’s defense attorney that the one-year difference was the result of a “typo,” and a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office acknowledged the error in response to a question from ABC News.He also testified that he had turned the phone back over to the accuser’s family a few weeks after obtaining it. But the accuser’s father went on to testify that he doesn’t recall ever receiving the device back, prompting the lead investigator to acknowledge that he was “remiss” and failed to get a signed receipt confirming the return of the phone.But part of the way through the accuser’s July 8 testimony, during questioning from Spacey defense attorney Alan Jackson, a recess was called after the accuser was asked whether he was aware that it’s a crime to delete potentially exculpatory data from a piece of evidence in a criminal probe. He said on the stand that he had not been aware of that.Then a recess was called — during which the accuser informed the judge through a representative that he had decided to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to protect himself against self-incrimination — and declined further testimony. That prompted Barrett to order the accuser’s testimony stricken from the record.That led Jackson to demand of Nantucket District Court Judge Thomas Barrett that the case be dismissed on the spot. An assistant district attorney asked for a week to confer with his office, and the next hearing in the case was scheduled for July 31.”This entire case is completely compromised” by the accuser’s decision to take the Fifth, Jackson told Barrett. “He’s the sole witness than can establish the circumstances of his allegation.”Barrett declined to immediately dismiss the charge, after an assistant district attorney asked for a week to confer with his office, but acknowledged from the bench that “without [the accuser’s testimony], the Commonwealth will have a tough row to hoe,” adding that it remained unclear whether the case would “continue or collapse” without the testimony of the accuser himself.In Oct. 2017, actor Anthony Rapp claimed in a BuzzFeed interview that Spacey made sexual advances towards him at a party in 1986 when he was 14 and Spacey was 26.When the story was made public, Spacey posted a statement on Twitter saying he is “beyond horrified” by the story, but doesn’t remember the encounter. He went on to say he was examining himself and now chooses “to [openly] live as a gay man.”Rapp’s allegation prompted a flood of similar allegations against the actor for groping and other inappropriate behavior over the course of his long career, but to date no other charges beside the now-dropped Nantucket charge have been filed. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. […]

  • Air Force warns against storming Area 51 as Facebook event reaches 1.5 million attendees
    by CJC on July 17, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Sgt. Connor Mendez/U.S. Army (LINCOLN COUNTY, Nev.) — The Air Force is warning people against storming Area 51 in Nevada, after a Facebook event page, organizing a meet up at the “Alien Center tourist attraction,” went viral.Conspiracy theorists believe that the U.S. government has kept UFOs and extraterrestrial life at the location, which is actually an Air Force training range.As of Wednesday morning, over 1.5 million people said they were “attending” the event, called “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” The event is scheduled for Sept. 20 at 3 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Another 1.1 million Facebook users indicated they were “interested.””We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry,” according to the Facebook page. “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets [sic] see them aliens.””Naruto” refers to the running style of the Japanese anime character, Naruto Ozumaki.”The United States Air Force is aware of the Facebook post,” Air Force spokesperson Laura McAndrews told ABC News in a statement. “The Nevada Test and Training Range is an area where the Air Force tests and trains combat aircraft. As a matter of practice, we do not discuss specific security measures, but any attempt to illegally access military installations or military training areas is dangerous.”The range is the largest contiguous air and ground space available for peacetime military operations in the free world, according to the Air Force, spanning 2.9 million acres of land and 5,000 square miles of airspace which is restricted from civilian air traffic.The range is also used by the Department of Energy for testing, research and development.   Area 51 is just Coachella for conspiracy theorists — Tank.Sinatra (@GeorgeResch) July 15, 2019   It’s unknown how many of the 1.5 million Facebook attendees would actually travel to the remote location in Nevada for the event, as the page has sparked Internet memes poking fun at the idea of storming the Air Force range for the opportunity to see aliens.The Air Force did investigate UFOs under Project Blue Book from 1947 to 1969, but the project was headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, not at the range in Nevada.   me and the boys on our way to sneak in Area 51 to save the aliens pic.twitter.com/1gfWjC6xHR — Michael Scott 📚 (@michaelgclump) July 14, 2019   Project Blue Book concluded that none of the UFOs investigated were a threat to U.S. national security and there was “no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as ‘unidentified’ were extraterrestrial vehicles,” according to the Air Force.The project’s findings are available in the National Archives for public review.   He’s training to free the aliens at Area 51… pic.twitter.com/5oz1Q5rUZ6 — Guy (@apiecebyguy) July 15, 2019   Earlier this year, the Navy updated its guidelines for how its pilots report the sighting of “unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft” due to an increase in the number of reports in recent years.”There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years,” Joseph Gradisher, spokesperson for Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare, told ABC News in May.   Me and my new pals when I bust them outta Area 51 👽👽👽#Area51 pic.twitter.com/cFJrq7ILHr — trafficlightsandwich (@LightSandwich) July 15, 2019   “For safety and security concerns, the Navy and the [U.S. Air Force] take these reports very seriously and investigate each and every report. As part of this effort, the Navy has updated and formalized the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities,” he said.Gradisher added that senior Naval intelligence officials and aviators “who reported hazards to aviation safety” have briefed congressional members and staff in response to requests for information.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. […]

  • Heat wave is coming: How to stay safe and prepare an emergency supply kit
    by KT on July 17, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    winstonwolf89/iStock(NEW YORK) — With a massive heat wave forecast to hit huge swaths of the U.S. from New York City all the way to Nebraska and temperatures expected to swell into the triple digits this weekend, here are some expert tips on how to stay cool and safe from heat-related illness.New York City’s Office of Emergency Management announced Wednesday that air-conditioned cooling centers will be open to the public throughout the city through the weekend and advised in a statement that most heat-related deaths occur after exposure to heat in homes without air conditioning.Staying inside in an air-conditioned room is the best way to to stay safe amidst extreme heat waves, the Emergency Management office warned.”Hot weather is dangerous and can kill. People with chronic physical and mental health conditions should use air conditioning if they have it, and get to a cool, air conditioned place if they don’t,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a statement”During times like these, we all need to look out for each other. Be a buddy and check on your family, friends and neighbors who are at risk and help them get to a cooling center or another cool place – even if for a few hours,” she added.Other tips for protection against the heat include staying out of the sun, avoiding strenuous activity during the sun’s peak hours, drink a lot of water, cool down with a bath or shower and wear lightweight clothing when outside.How to prepare an emergency supply kitIn new guidelines for how to deal with heat waves, the American Red Cross warns to prepare an emergency supply kit ahead of a heat wave in case of a power outage.The emergency disaster kit should include one gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food items, a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit, medications, cash and more basic necessities.Red Cross guidelines for before a heat wave- Prior to an anticipated heat wave, listen to local weather forecasts and make a plan with family members and friends about where to spend time during a major heat wave.- Prepare an emergency disaster kit in case a power outage occurs.- If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, find places you could go during the hottest parts of the days such as libraries or malls.Red Cross guidelines for during a heat wave- When the heat wave hits — it’s important to never leave pets or children alone in vehicles where temperatures can soar rapidly. – Stay hydrated, wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing, eat small meals, stay indoors and take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors, the Red Cross recommends.- Check on family members, friends and neighbors who don’t have air conditioning.Check out the Red Cross’s full guidelines for dealing with a heat wave here. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. […]