Years before when authorities say Ariel Castro kidnapped two teenage girls and a young woman and held them captive in his basement, he terrorized the mother of his children, viciously beating her and locking her inside the house, her relatives said Thursday.
In interviews with The Associated Press, relatives of Grimilda Figueroa, who died after a long illness last year, described Castro as a "monster" who abused her in demented ways. He once shoved her into a cardboard box and closed the flaps over her head, said Elida Caraballo, her sister.
"He told her, `You stay there until I tell you to get out,"' recalled Caraballo, who cried as she recalled her late sister's torment. "That's when I got scared and I ran downstairs to get my parents."
Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, was arrested Monday, when one of the three women, Amanda Berry, broke out of his Cleveland house and called 911 while he was away. Police found the two other women inside. The women had vanished separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.
Castro has been charged with rape and kidnapping. During his brief arraignment Thursday, he tried to hide his face and didn't speak or enter a plea. A public defender assigned to represent him didn't comment on his guilt or innocence.
Some relatives of Castro have said they were shocked by the allegations against him. An uncle, Julio Castro, said it's been difficult news to absorb.
"Of course we have taken it hard," he said. "We only knew one Ariel, my sweet nephew. He was a sweet, happy person, a musician. We didn't have the slightest idea of the second person in him."
But relatives of Figueroa, Ariel Castro's former common-law wife, said that Castro savagely beat her over the years, shoving her down a flight of stairs, breaking her nose and dislocating her shoulder, among other injuries.
Castro kept Figueroa imprisoned inside her own home, locking the doors from the inside, and forbade her from using the telephone, Caraballo said. After warning her not to leave, he would test her to see if she obeyed, Caraballo said.
"He would go creeping downstairs, not telling her that he's home, spying on her," Caraballo said. "See who she's calling. Next thing you know, he'll pop upstairs."
Monica Stephens, Castro's former daughter-in-law, married Castro's son in 2004 but split from him in 2006. On Thursday, she recalled how her ex-husband told her that he and his mother were beaten by Castro.
"They were like hostages in their own house," she said.
Castro, to frighten his wife, kept a mannequin wearing a dark wig propped up against a wall and sometimes drove around the neighborhood with it, relatives said.
"He threatened me lots of times with it," said Angel Caraballo, Castro's nephew, who used to play with his cousins at the house where the kidnapped women were found. "He would say, `Act up again, you'll be in that back room with the mannequin."'
One day, Figueroa was returning home with her arms full of groceries when Castro jumped into the doorway with the mannequin, frightening her so badly that she fell backward and smashed her head on the pavement, Elida Caraballo said.
In 1996, Castro hit Figueroa for the last time, family members said. After one particularly bad beating, Figueroa ran outside with one of her sons, crying out to neighbors just as the captive women did on Monday, Caraballo said.
"The neighbors went across the street to get her," Caraballo said. "And that was the last time she ever stepped in the house."
Authorities in northwest Ohio say one of three teenage boys named in an Amber Alert has been located several counties away and has pointed them to the bodies of the other two.
Ottawa police say the Thursday morning alert about two missing 17-year-olds and a missing 14-year-old was issued after a mother returned to a Putnam County trailer home and found a crime scene. Police and the sheriff have released no details about that scene, the bodies or where they were found. Autopsies are planned.
Investigators say one of the 17-year-olds and a missing car were found in Columbus, about 90 miles southeast of Ottawa. Authorities say the teen was detained and told them where the bodies were.
There has been no word on any possible charges.
A Nobel Peace Prize-winning medical group says Syria's health system has been shattered during the more than two-year conflict and that their organization plans to nearly double their presence in the country.
Members of Medecins Sans Frontieres told a briefing Thursday that they were forced to work inside private homes and even in a cave, as the group has yet to receive government permission to work inside the country.
The official death toll has been estimated at more than 70,000, but the group said the actual toll appears to be much higher.
The group, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said it was struck by the absence of other aid groups working Syria.
Authorities in rural Los Angeles County were warning people to be on the lookout for four pit bulls suspected of killing a 63-year-old jogger Thursday.
Sheriff's Lt. John Corina told reporters that a woman in a car saw the dogs attacking the female jogger Thursday morning. The witness called 911 and honked her horn to try to get the dogs to stop.
"When the first deputy on scene saw one dog still attacking the woman, he tried to chase the dog away," Corina said. "The dog ran off into the desert, then turned around and attacked the deputy, the deputy fired a round at the dog and tried to kill the dog, and the dog took off into the desert."
The woman died of her wounds while she was in an ambulance on the way to a hospital near the high desert community of Littlerock, about 65 miles northeast of Los Angeles, said Evelina Villa, county animal control spokeswoman.
Sheriff's officials were alerting people in the area to watch for the four tan-colored dogs, and they were using a helicopter to search for them.
Meanwhile, the woman's death is under investigation.
It was unclear whether the dogs had collars or owners.
"In these areas, you might have a situation where people dump animals out in rural areas," said John Mlynar, a spokesman for the nearby city of Palmdale. He added that he'd never heard of an attack like Thursday's.
Residents who live near the site of the attack said stray dogs are constantly roaming the area and have attacked people before.
"It's really scary," Diane Huffman, of Littlerock, told KABC-TV. "I don't know what to think. I really think I'm going to be getting a gun to protect myself."
A team of smokejumpers parachuting into a fire in the mountains of Southern Oregon landed in an illegal marijuana garden being prepared for growing season.
The six smokejumpers from a base in Redmond found the site Monday evening, when there was a rash of lightning strikes.
Jackson County sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson says the smokejumpers notified authorities, who hiked into the remote site in the Rogue River-Siskiyou (SIS'-kee-yoo) National Forest. They seized two guns and more than 1,000 little pot plants.
Carlson says the site near the community of Applegate was being cultivated by growers for Mexican drug gangs, and it's been used before.
She says the smokejumpers saw some people but weren't sure whether they were pot growers, so no one was arrested.
The smokejumpers extinguished the fire after it burned less than an acre.
Arizona authorities have arrested an 18-year-old Phoenix man in connection with a bomb threat that was tweeted after the Jodi Arias verdict was announced.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputy Joaquin Enriquez says Laquint Cherry was taken into custody early Thursday. He's facing a felony charge for making threats.
The investigation began Wednesday night after someone tweeted that an explosive device was going to be placed in the courtroom and was going to detonate Thursday afternoon. The sheriff's office increased security and conducted additional bomb sweeps but found nothing.
Enriquez says detectives traced the Twitter activity to a hotel in west Phoenix. The bomb squad and the SWAT team responded, and Cherry eventually came out of the hotel room. A woman who was with him was questioned and released.
Enriquez says the investigation is ongoing.
It wasn't immediately clear if Cherry had legal representation.
Jodi Arias will spend the weekend on suicide watch and return to court next week when jurors are expected to consider whether the death penalty should be an option for the former waitress' sentence.
Minutes after her conviction for killing a former boyfriend, Arias told a TV station she would "prefer to die sooner than later," complicating matters for defense lawyers who had hoped to spare her life during the penalty phase of the trial. The case was scheduled to resume Thursday, but court officials postponed it until Wednesday without any explanation.
The surprising interview with Fox affiliate KSAZ only added to the circus-like environment surrounding the trial, which has become a cable TV sensation with its graphic tales of sex, lies and violence. Since her arrest, Arias has repeatedly sought the spotlight, including TV interviews, 18 days on the witness stand before a global audience, jailhouse tweets and now the post-conviction comments.
She cannot choose the death penalty. It is up to the jury to make a sentencing recommendation, and the judge will then make the final decision.
If she were sentenced to death, she could decide not to appeal to speed up the process, but it could still take years to play out as she lives under punishing conditions on death row. The state Department of Corrections says Arizona death row inmates have little contact with the outside world and only get to leave their solitary cells for two hours a day, three times a week. They get three showers a week.
The panel of eight men and four women convicted Arias of first-degree murder Wednesday after about 15 hours of deliberations over four days. Testimony began in early January.
The so-called "aggravation" phase of the trial was expected to begin next week. When it does, jurors will deliberate one more time to determine whether the death penalty should be an option for sentencing Arias.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez must convince the panel that the murder was committed in an especially cruel, heinous and depraved manner. This phase will be a mini-trial of sorts, as both sides call witnesses to present testimony to jurors — the defense in an effort to spare Arias' life, the prosecution to at least have a shot at a death sentence.
If jurors find the killing fits the definition of cruel and heinous, the panel will recommend either life in prison or death.
If the panel finds no aggravating factors exist, jurors will be dismissed and the judge will determine whether Arias should spend the rest of her life in prison or be sentenced to 25 years with the possibility of release.
Arias admitted killing her onetime boyfriend Travis Alexander on June 4, 2008. She initially denied any involvement, then later blamed masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense when the victim attacked her after a day of sex.
Prosecutors said she planned the killing in a jealous rage as Alexander wanted to end their affair and was planning to take a trip to Mexico with another woman.
Phoenix criminal defense lawyer Dwane Cates said Arias has presented obstacle after obstacle for her defense attorneys, who are now just trying to save her life.
"Her defense counsel put four years of their lives into this," Cates said. "They're trying to do everything they can for her, and every problem they have in this case is caused by her.
"Every time she opens her mouth, she creates a new problem for the defense," Cates added.
He said prosecutor Juan Martinez will likely play for jurors the jailhouse interview from several years ago in which she said she wouldn't be convicted — along with the interview she did after her conviction.
"I would say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, she challenged you to convict her and you did. Now give her her wish and put her to death,'" Cates said.
Defendants convicted of crimes rarely do interviews right after convictions and before being sentenced, but Arias honored an earlier request that she talk to the Fox station in the event of a first-degree murder conviction.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail system, has allowed Arias to do other media interviews and even put on a videotaped "American Idol"-style Christmas singing contest in which Arias took home the top prize.
The sheriff's office said no more interviews will be allowed with Arias now that she is on suicide watch.
During the next phase of the trial, prosecutors will likely call back to the witness stand the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, as well as the lead detective to explain for jurors how Alexander did not die quickly and likely suffered tremendous pain.
Arias stabbed and slashed Alexander nearly 30 times, shot him in the forehead and slit his throat from ear to ear, leaving the motivational speaker and businessman nearly decapitated before she dragged his mutilated body into his shower where friends found him about five days later.
Complicating things even more for her attorneys are Arias' own words. As she sat in jail awaiting trial several years ago, she made a bold prediction during an interview on the television show "Inside Edition."
"No jury will convict me," she said. Then she went before a camera Wednesday and made more news.
"Longevity runs in my family, and I don't want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place," a tearful Arias said. "I believe death is the ultimate freedom, and I'd rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it."
Brian Skoloff can be followed at https://twitter.com/bskoloff .
Justices of Massachusetts' highest court heard arguments Thursday on whether special magistrates who are trying to unburden trial courts of a flood of drug cases tainted by a state laboratory scandal may release convicts on bail before they're granted new trials.
Special "drug lab" court sessions began after authorities shut down Hinton state lab in Boston last summer following allegations that former chemist Annie Dookhan faked test results and tampered with evidence in narcotics cases.
Dookhan, 35, of Franklin, has pleaded not guilty to perjury, obstruction of justice and other charges following a 27-count grand jury indictment stemming from cases in six counties. Authorities have said Dookhan tested more than 60,000 drug samples involving 34,000 defendants during her nine years at the lab.
Since then, dozens of defendants whose cases involved evidence that Dookhan handled have been freed while their new trial motions are pending.
But Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett is challenging whether the special magistrates, all retired Superior Court judges, may put sentences on hold and release drug convicts on bail before decisions on whether they'll get new trials.
Typically, a judge first decides whether a defendant should get a new trial and then considers whether that person should be free in the meantime.
Blodgett's office also is asking the high court to decide whether a special magistrate has the authority to reconsider a decision by a judge to deny a motion to put a sentence on hold and release a defendant on bail. And the district attorney wants the court to clarify whether a guilty plea by a so-called Dookhan defendant is valid if the process involves a judge and a special magistrate.
"The rules of criminal procedure are not being followed," Essex Assistant District Attorney Ron DeRosa told the seven judges of the Supreme Judicial Court.
But lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and the state's public defender agency, Committee for Public Counsel Services, argued that the thousands of defendants whose cases are caught up in the crisis deserve immediate relief.
"Defendants lost their liberty on account of this fraud," CPCS attorney Beth Eisenberg told the justices.
The agencies made their legal arguments on behalf of two drug convicts from Essex County cases who are seeking release from custody.
ACLU lawyer Matthew Segal asked the justices to affirm the authority of the special magistrates, saying defendants are bearing a burden caused by misconduct at the lab.
In a third related case, Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Miller argued on behalf of the Massachusetts Superior Court system, saying use of special magistrates is an effort by the court "to address these cases in a timely way and in an unchaotic way."
She said the lab scandal set up an unprecedented problem in the criminal justice system, and that inmates need a mechanism to come forward and ask for release.
A court spokeswoman said the justices will issue a ruling within 130 days.
The U.S. Postal Service has temporarily suspended delivery to a western Pennsylvania apartment complex after a carrier walked in on a drug deal.
Postal spokesman Tad Kelley tells The (Sharon) Herald that delivery to the 200-unit Shenango Park Apartments complex in Hermitage will resume once officials feel it is safe. Hermitage is about 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
Postal officials want the complex to build a single-point delivery station with boxes for each resident.
Randy Hilliard, senior vice president for NDC Real Estate Management says that would cost about $15,000 and would take at least a month. He's hoping arrangements can be made to resume delivery sooner, and downplayed the incident saying "there's no real threat there."
Police have responded to several drug- and assault-related incidents at the complex in recent weeks.
A former third-grade teacher has pleaded guilty to murdering her former husband in what New Jersey prosecutors say was killing that also involved her parents.
Kathleen Dorsett told a judge Thursday she sent 42-year-old Stephen Moore to his death in the backyard, where her father was waiting to kill him, in 2010. Dorsett says she was changing her daughter's diaper when she heard a scream and she helped put his body in the trunk of a car.
Dorsett faces up to 58 years in prison.
Her father, Thomas, and her mother, Lesley, are due in court later Thursday.
Dorsett and her father were accused of killing Moore. Her mother was charged with conspiracy, accused of plotting behind bars with her daughter to have her former mother-in-law killed.
The resurgent U.S. housing market has sent builders calling again for Richard Vap, who owns a drywall installation company. Vap would love to help. And he would — if he could hire enough qualified people.
"There is a shortage of manpower," says Vap, owner of South Valley Drywall in Littleton, Colo. "We're probably only hiring about 75 or 80 percent of what we actually need."
More than six years after the housing bust stalled construction and led many companies like South Valley Drywall to slash payrolls, the reverse is occurring: As demand for new homes has risen, builders and the subcontractors they depend on can't hire as fast as they'd like.
Builders would be starting work on more homes — and contributing more to the economy — if they could fill more job openings. In the meantime, workers in the right locations with the right skills are commanding higher pay.
The shortage of labor ranges across occupations — from construction superintendents and purchasing agents to painters, cabinet makers and drywall installers. The National Association of Home Builders says its members have complained of too few framers, roofers, plumbers and carpenters. The problem is most acute in areas where demand for new homes has recovered fastest, notably in Arizona, California, Texas, Colorado and Florida.
The problem results largely from an exodus of workers from the industry after the housing bubble burst. Some experienced construction workers found other jobs — in commercial building or in booming and sometimes higher-paying industries like mining and natural gas drilling and aren't eager to come back.
Hispanic immigrants, largely from Mexico, who had filled jobs during the boom were among those who left the industry and, in some cases, the United States.
Dave Erickson, president of Greyhawk Homes in Columbus, Ga., lost an employee who took a job this year in Texas. The former employee is now installing fiber-optic cable and earning 30 percent more than he did as a construction supervisor.
"I think he's frustrated with the cycle we went through in recent years," Erickson says.
A shortage of labor in a well-paying industry might seem incongruous in an economy stuck with a still-high 7.5 percent unemployment rate. But it reflects just how many former skilled construction workers have moved on to other fields.
In 2006, when the boom peaked, 3.4 million people worked in home building. By 2011, the figure had bottomed at about 2 million. As of last month, about 2.1 million people were employed in residential construction.
Jobs in the industry did rise 4.1 percent in April from a year earlier, faster than overall U.S. job growth. But they'd have to surge 24 percent more to reach 2.6 million, their 2002 level — "the last time the market was normal," said David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.
For now, the industry is building faster than it's hiring. In February, builders began work on single-family homes at the fastest pace in five years. And in March, they broke the 1 million mark for the first time since June 2008. Permits for future construction are also near a five-year high.
In the 12 months that ended in March, housing starts surged 47 percent. Yet over the same period, the industry's employment grew just 3.7 percent.
Normally, a rebound in home construction helps propel an economy after a recession. But even with the steady gains in housing starts, sales and prices since last year, the industry remains below levels considered healthy.
The National Association of Home Builders says nearly half its members who responded to a survey in March said a scarcity of labor has led to delays in completing work. Fifteen percent have had to turn down some projects.
"I can't find qualified people to fill the positions that I have open," says Vishaal Gupta, president of Park Square Homes in Orlando, Fla. If not for the labor shortage, "I would be able to build more homes this year and meet more demand than I can handle today."
Gupta's company is facing a side effect of the labor shortage: Demand for higher pay from qualified workers. On some occasions, he says he's been outbid by rivals that need contractors for their own projects. Gupta's preferred paint contractor left for a rival that paid more. His new cabinet contractor is about 10 percent more expensive than the one Gupta used before.
The higher pay they're handing out helps explain why builders have been gradually raising prices on new homes. The median price was $246,800 in February, up about 12 percent from the same month in 2011, the Commerce Department says.
The industry may have to look more aggressively for workers at vocational schools, federally funded programs like Job Corps and elsewhere, says Crowe of the homebuilders group.
"We'll have to recruit more," he says.
Vap, owner of South Valley Drywall, rode out the downturn after the housing crash in part by relying on commercial construction projects. He cut his residential construction staff from 244 in 2006 to 80 in 2009.
This year, Vap has hired 15 field employees for residential construction and says he needs to hire 35 more to do the work he foresees in 2013.
During the 2005-2006 housing boom years, Gupta had to bring in workers from Texas because there weren't enough employees in Florida to keep up with construction. He doubts many of those veterans will return.
"A lot of people who are from other states or from Mexico are not willing to come back here as fast as they did last time because of what they experienced," Gupta says.
Between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million Mexicans moved from the United States to Mexico — roughly twice as many as in the previous five-year period, according to the Pew Research Center. Though an estimated 11 million people remain in the United States illegally, the influx of illegal immigration from Mexico has essentially stopped, says Douglas Massey, a professor of sociology at Princeton University.
"The Mexican economy is doing quite well, with strong growth in manufacturing and both skilled and unskilled services," Massey notes. "If construction demand picks up, we may see an uptick in Mexican immigration, but I think the boom years are likely over."
Crowe and other economists predict that as demand for new homes strengthens further, higher wages will woo back many laborers who took up other jobs during the downturn.
The home builders association is pushing Congress to let more immigrants enter the country through a worker visa program. The association cites census data showing that foreign-born workers make up about 22 percent of the U.S. home construction work force. It estimates there are 116,000 unfilled jobs.
Still, even if builders find more workers to hire, two other factors could hold back the industry for a while: A tight supply of building materials and ready-to-build land. Surveys by the National Association of Home Builders show that builders have grown concerned about those obstacles.
In part, that's why Crowe, the association's chief economist, thinks employment in single-family home building won't return to its 2002 total until 2016. And he isn't unhappy about that.
"In a perverse sort of way, the mild housing recovery is probably a good thing, because we need to rebuild the infrastructure of the industry," Crowe says.
Secretary of State John Kerry says the transfer of advanced missile defense systems from Russia to Syria would be a "destabilizing" factor for Israel's security.
Kerry says the U.S. has expressed concerns about what the S-300 batteries in Syria would mean for Israel's security. He wouldn't address what the missiles might mean for Syria's civil war.
He spoke to reporters in Rome after the Wall Street Journal reported that Russia was preparing to sell the weapons to President Bashar Assad's regime. The report said Israel had warned the U.S. Kerry praised Moscow for helping try to organize Syrian peace talks.
Investigators say a 61-year-old woman has been charged with murder after strangling her elderly husband at their home in North Carolina.
Police said they were called to the home in Cary around 11 p.m. Wednesday by someone who said 77-year-old Sharad Amtey was unconscious. He died a short time later at the hospital.
Authorities weren't releasing any other details about the case.
Dottie Amtey was arrested after officers arrived at her home. She is being held in the Wake County jail, and it wasn't known if she had an attorney.
Officials in Cary say it is the first homicide in the town southwest of Raleigh in nearly two years.
A spate of high-profile shootings has left Americans with the perception that gun crimes are on the rise, but a new study shows the opposite appears to be true, according to a study.
A Pew Research poll released this week found that 56 percent of adults believe that gun crime is more common now than 20 years ago. But a report by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics seems to show that crime involving firearms has fallen dramatically over the last 20 years, with the rate of homicides committed with guns cut in half since 1993. The rate of the violent crimes fell even more, and is now just a quarter of what it was.
In the Pew poll of 924 adults, just 12 percent correctly answered that gun crime fell over the last 20 years. Gun rights advocates say media coverage of gun violence has distorted the public perception.
"This doesn't surprise me in the least," Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation told FoxNews.com. "When people respond in opinion polls, it's shaped from what they're getting through the network news, The New York Times, The Washington Post. And for them, 'if it bleeds it leads' – if there's a tragedy, that becomes the lead story."
But supporters of tighter gun control laws say it is modern medicine, not a more peaceable public, that is behind the numbers.
"More people are being shot in America, but fewer people are dying," Erika Soto Lamb, the communications director for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told FoxNews.com. She cited CDC data which show that, since data has been kept in 2001, the rate of people being assaulted and shot during the assault has risen 25 percent.
In other words, the data since 2001 tell a slightly more complex story: Fewer people are being attacked with guns, but slightly more people are being shot with guns – yet at the same time, fewer people are being killed with guns.
"A number of factors are believed to have contributed to this, but mostly, improved medical care is helping to save more lives," Soto Lamb said. "The latest studies should not be taken as proof that this country does not have a gun violence epidemic. We do."
Still, the biggest trend over the last 20 years is the reduction in gun-related attacks and killings, and Gottlieb blames the media for ignoring that story.
"The Second Amendment Foundation has been tracking the data year-in and year-out, and each year, we put out a news release about how gun crime is down. But the media just doesn't want to hear it if it doesn't further their anti-gun agenda," Gottlieb said.
The idea that public perceptions don't match up with the numbers is hardly surprising, said Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University who researches public opinion.
"The public perceives rising crime in general… [so] I don't think anti-gun bias is a good explanation," Caplan told FoxNews.com.
Gallup polls show that Americans overestimate crime in general. In 15 out of 16 Gallup polls conducted in the past 20 years, Americans incorrectly said that crime had risen compared to the previous year.
While gun crime fell dramatically over the last 20 years, crimes committed without guns fell just as fast.
Gottlieb had an explanation for that.
"All crime has basically been going down. And that's because more people have firearms to protect themselves," he said.
While firearm ownership rates have been relatively flat according to survey data, many more people now have licenses to carry guns on their person. The number of states with laws that give people a right to carry handguns outside of the home – known as "shall-issue concealed-carry laws" -- has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, going from 16 states in 1993 to 43 now.
Estimates show that guns are used in self-defense between 100,000 and 2 million times each year. Overlooking that, Gottlieb said, is the media's biggest error.
"You never hear about defensive gun uses. Every time there's a tragedy, there's a call for gun control. But every time a gun is used in self defense – usually it doesn't make the news, and you never hear a call for relaxing the gun laws so more people can defend themselves."
Contact the author at email@example.com or on twitter at @maximlott
Las Vegas prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a self-described pimp charged in a shooting and fiery crash that killed three people on the Strip.
Ammar Asim Faruq Harris was arrested Feb. 28 in Los Angeles and is jailed in Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Sun reports (http://bit.ly/12hcumo ) the district attorney filed the notice of intent to seek the death penalty Wednesday after a special panel reviewed the case and recommended that action.
Harris was arrested a week after the pre-dawn crash in which he's accused of shooting out of a black Range Rover into a Maserati sports car, mortally wounding driver Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr.
The Maserati crashed into a taxi that exploded into flames, killing cab driver Michael Boldon and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, of Maple Valley, Wash.
Information from: Las Vegas Sun, http://www.lasvegassun.com
FBI agents did not tell Boston police they had receiving warnings from Russia's government in 2011 about suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and had performed a cursory investigation, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis told Congress Thursday, in the first congressional hearing into last month's terror attack on the Boston Marathon.
Davis said that none of four people he had assigned to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force was aware that the FBI investigated the vague warning, found nothing and had closed the file. One of his detectives was in the dark despite being assigned to the unit that investigated Tsarnaev, Davis said.
"They tell me they received no word about that individual prior to the bombing," Davis said.
Davis said he would have liked to have known but conceded that it might not have prevented the attack. The commissioner said his detectives would have wanted to interview Tsarnaev.
"The FBI did that and they closed the case out," he said. "I can't say I would've come to a different conclusion based on the information at the time."
The House Homeland Security Committee hearing came less than three weeks after Tsarnaev died in a police shootout. His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was arrested and faces federal terrorism charges.
The committee chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said the hearing will be the first in a series to review the government's initial response, ask what information authorities received about the brothers before the bombings and whether they handled it correctly.
Thursday's hearing was unlikely to shed much light on those questions. Nobody from the federal government testified.
But in a time of widespread budget cuts, the hearing began laying the groundwork for an expected push for more counterterrorism money. Both Davis and Kurt Schwartz, the Massachusetts homeland security chief, praised federal grants that for years have kept cities flush with money for equipment and manpower.
"People are alive today" because of money for training and equipment, Schwartz said.
McCaul and Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the committee, also spoke of the importance of federal money, as did former Sen. Joe Lieberman, one of the founders of the Department of Homeland Security, who took a new seat as a congressional witness.
"You can't fight this war without resources," Lieberman said.
Lieberman said it would have been possible, albeit difficult, to have prevented the bombing. He said the U.S. should have shared threat information with state and local law enforcement.
"When you're dealing with homegrown radicals, the community around them is going to be your first line of defense," Lieberman said. "State and local law enforcement will always have a better knowledge of the neighborhood, the institutions the people are going to be involved with."
In written testimony, Davis told lawmakers that cities should look at deploying more undercover officers and special police units and installing more surveillance cameras — but not at the expense of civil liberties.
"I do not endorse actions that move Boston and our nation into a police state mentality, with surveillance cameras attached to every light pole in the city," Davis said. "We do not and cannot live in a protective enclosure because of the actions of extremists who seek to disrupt our way of life."
Investigators used surveillance video from a restaurant near one of the explosions to help identify the Tsarnaev brothers.
"Images from cameras do not lie. They do not forget," Davis said. "They can be viewed by a jury as evidence of what occurred. These efforts are not intended to chill or stifle free speech, but rather to protect the integrity and freedom of that speech and to protect the rights of victims and suspects alike."
A New Jersey Army major and his wife have pleaded not guilty to abusing their foster children.
John and Carolyn Jackson of Mount Holly appeared in federal court in Newark on Thursday. Each remains free on $250,000 bail, charged with endangerment, assault and conspiracy.
The couple are accused of abusing their three foster children with disciplinary measures that included assault, withholding food and water, and forcing the children to eat hot sauce. Bones were also broken.
Prosecutors say the couple told their three biological children they were "training" the foster children to behave and instructed the biological children not to tell anyone.
Prosecutors say the alleged crimes took place in 2010 while the family was living at the Picatinny Arsenal in Rockaway Township.
The Statue of Liberty is reopening July 4 after Superstorm Sandy flooded the island where it stands.
The statue has been closed since Sandy struck the region on Oct. 29 and damaged much of Liberty Island's infrastructure. The statue itself is on higher ground and was not damaged.
Ferry tickets to visit the island on July 4 or later may be purchased online or by phone. Tickets to the statue's crown are only available by reservation.
Meanwhile, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is not expected to re-open to the public this year. The museum sits on Ellis Island, next to the Statue of Liberty in the center of New York Harbor. Sandy bought water levels up to 8 feet to the island, destroying boilers and electrical systems.
Authorities in rural Northern California on Wednesday were searching for a man suspected of fatally shooting his wife and two young daughters at their home.
Shane Franklin Miller, 45, was on the loose a day after the killings in Shingletown, Shasta County sheriff's officials said.
"There is a manhunt for him right now," Lt. Dave Kent said. "He's a prime suspect. We're not looking for anybody else."
Schools in the rural community of about 2,000 people about 230 miles northeast of San Francisco were under lockdown, The Record Searchlight of Redding reported (http://bit.ly/18WtPDn ).
Kent said deputies received a call from Miller's residence around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. When they arrived, they found the bodies of Miller's wife, Sandy, 34, and two daughters, Shelby, 8, and Shasta, 4. Shane Miller wasn't there.
Kent said he did not know who placed the call.
Investigators have released a photo of Miller and said he may be driving a gold-colored 2010 Dodge Mega Cab pickup with a camper shell. He's considered armed and extremely dangerous.
Miller may be heading to a cabin in coastal Humboldt County, where authorities have said several weapons may be stored.
Initially, authorities believed the cabin was in Ferndale, about 180 miles west of Shingletown, a drive of nearly four hours over rural highways.
But Kent said Wednesday evening he could not confirm the location, and Ferndale Police Chief Bret Smith said there was a residence in nearby Petrolia, not Ferndale, where Miller has stayed in the past.
Lt. Steve Knight, a Humboldt County sheriff's spokesman, said authorities there were working with Shasta County sheriff's officials, but he declined to provide any details about the search.
The two-story house that authorities were called to is nestled among pine trees with a barn and greenhouse in the back, The Record Searchlight reported. Horses and llamas graze on the property near the Lassen National Forest.
Kent said deputies were called there last month regarding a domestic dispute.
A small helicopter lost power and came crashing down on a busy downtown Honolulu street Wednesday afternoon, but no one was seriously injured, authorities said.
"It's a pretty miraculous situation that no one was badly hurt by this," said Capt. Terry Seelig, a spokesman for the Honolulu Fire Department. "This is a pretty busy area."
The helicopter was on a photography flight when it lost power, forcing a crash landing on Fort Street, which is home to a large apartment complex and Hawaii Pacific University. The area is usually full of university students and downtown office workers, and has a lot of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
The chopper ended up along a curb, badly damaging a parked car, Seelig said. A fire station is also on that street, so firefighters who heard the crash ran out to help.
The 30-year-old woman who was piloting the helicopter was uninjured, said Honolulu Emergency Services spokeswoman Shayne Enright said. The 71-year-old male passenger was treated at the scene for minor injuries to his head, Enright said.
Seelig said the chopper belongs to Mauna Loa Helicopters. Representatives of the company couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Preliminary information indicates the Robinson R22 Beta had an engine failure, said Allen Kenitzer, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.