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Main article: Breaking

'We've Caught Our Monster': Sex Offender Charged With Murder Of Girl Found In Creek

A convicted sex offender has been charged with murdering a 12-year-old Florida girl whose body was found in a creek last week.

The girl disappeared from outside her family’s Pensacola apartment in May. A fisherman found the body of Naomi Jones five days later.

Robert Letroy Howard, 38, who was dating a woman in the apartment complex where Naomi lived, was arrested Thursday, Escambia County Chief Deputy Chip Simmons said.

“We have caught our monster,” Simmons told reporters at a press conference. “We have caught the killer that took Naomi’s life.”

Howard is facing charges of first degree premeditated murder, kidnapping and failure to register as a sex offender.

According to Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan, surveillance video captured Howard by the creek where Naomi’s body was found.

“Howard could not provide a viable alibi of his whereabouts during the disappearance of Naomi,” Morgan said.

Howard has been on the Alabama Sex Offender Registry since 1999 after being convicted of two counts of sexual assault and rape involving a 19-year-old victim. He was jailed 15 years for the offenses.

A report made by the sheriff’s office indicates Howard told investigators he “had nothing to do with killing Naomi Jones” and was in Alabama at the time. Morgan said detectives determined that was “false information.”

Naomi disappeared after she and her siblings returned home from an afternoon walk on May 31. She left behind her cellphone, keys and purse at her home.

Authorities said the girl was active on social media prior to her disappearance and that “tech surveillance” was “critical” in solving the case. However, investigators have declined to confirm whether Howard used social media to communicate with the victim.

 “He was not unknown to our victim,” Morgan said, without elaborating.

Authorities said they believe Naomi was killed within 24 to 36 hours of her disappearance. The medical examiner determined that the death was probably due to asphyxiation.

Howard, who is being held behind bars without bond, is scheduled to appear in court on June 30.

Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said their office is likely to seek the death penalty.

Howard’s sister, Althea Walker, told WKRG News that she disagrees with the way the sheriff’s office portrayed her brother.

“I want people to know he is not a monster,” Walker said.

The sheriff, who said investigators believe Howard acted alone, warned parents to be mindful of their children’s activities.

“Please be parents,” Morgan said. “Your children are carrying a handheld computer. It just happens to double as a cellphone … There are predators out there [and] you can’t protect your children from this unless you parent. That’s part of your job.”

David Lohr covers crime and missing persons. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow him on Twitter.

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Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

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jun 12, 20:43
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Homicide Suspected After Missing 12-Year-Old Girl Found Dead

Five days after 12-year-old Naomi Jones was reported missing, a grim-faced law enforcement official announced that the body found in a Florida creek was hers.

“It unfortunately is my sad duty today to inform you of the outcome of the search,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said at a Monday press conference. “We know that she was found in the water.”

Morgan said homicide is suspected in the child’s death and detectives are interviewing people of interest.

“We have defined two people we are extremely interested in,” Morgan said, without elaborating.

Fishermen found Naomi’s body around 4 p.m. Monday, in a Pensacola creek. Police are investigating how she ended up there, several miles from her home at Aspen Village Apartments, the sheriff added.

State Attorney Bill Eddins told Pensacola’s WEAR-TV he has appointed an FBI agent to assist the sheriff’s office.

“Since the investigation started there have been more than 200 law enforcement officers on the ground, more than 300 interviews were conducted and 30 search warrants were issued,” Eddins said.

Naomi disappeared after and her siblings returned home from an afternoon walk on May 31. She left behind her cellphone, keys and purse at her home.  

Naomi’s mother, Shantara Hurry, told WKRG News that it was her son who first called her, telling her Naomi was missing.  “I rushed home from work to find my daughter … and she was nowhere to be found.”

Morgan told WKRG News that investigators believe the girl last had contact with a friend over Facebook before disappearing.

Officials have not delved into details of Naomi’s death. Jeff Martin, director of the First Judicial Medical Examiner’s Office, told The Pensacola News Journal on Tuesday that they expected to complete her autopsy by the end of the day and would only release the results if it didn’t jeopardize the ongoing investigation.

Also unanswered is the central question of why Naomi, who recently graduated the fifth grade at Ferry Pass Elementary School, was killed.

“I don’t care why,” Morgan said Monday. “I leave the whys to the psychologists and the script writers. We want to solve this crime and bring to justice the person who took Naomi’s life.”

To that end, Morgan said individuals questioned by police “may be involved in not only the disappearance of Naomi but might quite possibly be involved in her homicide.”

Morgan did not say whether any of the people being questioned are among the more than 300 registered sex offenders living within a 5-mile radius of Naomi’s home.

After the tragic news Monday, the community quickly organized a prayer service at Olive Baptist Church to comfort neighbors and volunteers who had been searching for the missing child.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Cindy Vess, a family friend, told WEAR-TV. “It’s just so heartbreaking for someone so young and for her life to end so tragically.”

“I can’t imagine what [Naomi’s mother is] experiencing right now,” added Gina Gonzalez, who had participated in volunteer search efforts. “And I hope it shows my kids that I am telling them the truth when I tell them to stay close. It hurts. It really does. It hurts.”

Brad Dennis, director of the KlaasKids Foundation, said Naomi’s family has asked for privacy as they mourn.

“The family is doing as expected,” he told The Pensacola News Journal. “There’s still a lot of unanswered questions obviously, so for them the grief comes in waves.”

Neighbors and friends have donated to the family through a GoFundMe account to help Naomi’s family with expenses.

Anyone with information in the disappearance or death of Naomi Jones is asked to call the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 436-9620.

David Lohr covers crime and missing persons. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow him on Twitter.

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jun 7, 22:01
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Tiger Woods Asleep At The Wheel Before DUI Arrest, Police Say

Golfer Tiger Woods was sleeping and needed to be woken up when he was arrested for driving under the influence on Monday, according to a police report

Officers in Jupiter, Florida, found Woods, 41, asleep at the wheel in his Mercedes early Monday morning, according to the police report published on CBS 12 on Tuesday. Woods’ car was stopped in the right lane of the road with the brake lights and right turn signal on, the report stated.

After officers woke Woods up, he was “cooperative” but he was “confused” and his speech was “slow, sluggish [and] very slurred,” according to the report.

The police report stated that Woods didn’t know where he was, asked how far he was from his house and “changed his story of where he was going and where he was coming from.” Woods reportedly told officers that he was taking several prescription drugs.

Woods took “full responsibility” for his actions in a statement on Monday and blamed the incident on an “unexpected reaction to prescribed medications,” saying alcohol was not involved.

The golfer agreed to a breathalyzer test and had a blood alcohol level of .000 percent, according to the police report. Under a heading on the report titled “Odors,” it states, “None.”  

Read the full police report below.

This is a developing story and will be updated. 

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may 30, 17:17
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Donald Trump Finally Met His Match In The Handshake Stakes

There’s a certain art to dealing with a Donald Trump handshake.

And Tajikistan’s strongman president, Emomali Rahmon, appears to have gotten it down to a tee.

The authoritarian ruler didn’t let the U.S president’s reputation as a fierce hand-grabber faze him when the pair met at a summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday.

In fact, he had the upper hand — as this viral clip shows:

Perhaps Rahmon analyzed footage of Trump’s February meeting with Japan’s prime minster Shinzō Abe to see how it shouldn’t be done:

Or maybe he studied Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s technique


Or he  might have just read HuffPost’s piece on how to defend yourself from a Trump-style handshake.

Here’s how Twitter users responded to Rahmon’s handshake encounter:

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may 24, 12:40
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Oklahoma Cop Who Killed Terence Crutcher Found Not Guilty Of Manslaughter

The white police officer who fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man whose car stalled in the middle of the road in Tulsa, Oklahoma last year, was found not guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday evening.

Jurors deliberated for nine hours before acquitting the officer, 42-year-old Betty Shelby.

Shelby was responding to an unrelated call on Sept. 16, 2016, when she approached Crutcher’s vehicle. According to CNN, Shelby said she fired at Crutcher, 40, because he reached into his car.

On Monday, she told the court that she feared for her life

The Tulsa Police Department claimed that Crutcher failed to comply with orders from Shelby and the other officers who were on the scene. Videos of the incident, which captured several angles of the shooting, showed police with their guns pointed at Crutcher as he calmly walked toward his car with his hands above his head.

Moments later, he was shot

After the fatal shooting, Shelby was charged with felony manslaughter.

Her attorneys claimed she feared Crutcher was under the influence of PCP, a hallucinogenic drug. Police found PCP in Crutcher’s car, and an autopsy report later revealed that Crutcher had the drug in his system at the time of his death.

Crutcher’s family, who maintain that the shooting was unjustified, accused the police of using the drug possession to deflect attention from the fact that Crutcher was unarmed when police shot him, The Associated Press reported.

Crutcher’s twin sister Tiffany told reporters after the shooting that he was a father who was just trying to make his family proud.

“That big bad dude was a father. That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College,” Tiffany Crutcher said. She added that Crutcher “loved God” and would sing at church every week. Friends of Crutcher described him to The Associated Press as a friendly and generous person who went to church and was trying to turn his life around.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Shelby overreacted, and pointed out that Crutcher was not acting combative when he was confronted by police, per ABC News.

Crutcher’s family said they were disappointed by the verdict, NBC News reported, and called the Tulsa Police Department “corrupt.”  At a press conference, Tiffany Crutcher accused police of a cover-up.

“All the elements of manslaughter was there,” she said. “Terence’s hands were up. Terence did not attack her, Terence did not charge her. Terence was not the aggressor, Betty Shelby was the aggressor.

About 100 protestors who gathered outside of the courthouse yelled “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” after the verdict was handed down, the Tulsa World reported.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) then asked residents and protestors to respect the verdict and remain calm.

“Those who disagree with the verdict have the right to express their opinions,” Fallin said in an official statement. “I just ask that they do so in a peaceful manner.”

Hours later, peaceful demonstrators collected outside of the Mayo Hotel in downtown Tulsa, where Shelby is believed to be staying, per Fox 23 News.

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may 18, 08:53
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Suspect in Arizona's 'Serial Street Shooter' Case Is Arrested

A 23-year-old Phoenix man has been arrested in connection with a wave of shootings that terrorized the Arizona city in 2016 and left at least nine people dead, authorities said Monday.

Aaron Juan Saucedo, who was already in police custody on a murder charge, was rebooked Monday into the Maricopa County Jail on 26 additional felonies, including multiple counts of homicide, aggravated assault and drive-by shooting, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said during a press conference.

“This case plagued our community for more than a year ... and left behind a trail of victims that included mothers, sons, brothers, sisters and families still mourning the loss of their loved ones,” Williams said. 

Before mentioning Saucedo’s name, Williams described each of the attacks and read the names of the nine people he is accused of killing.

“Our hearts go out to the surviving families,” she said. “Today we are closer to providing them the justice they deserve.” 

Saucedo was arrested last month in an investigation of the 2015 murder of 61-year-old Raul Romero, according to 3TV/CBS 5. He pleaded not guilty Friday to that first-degree murder charge.

Investigators initially believed that a shooter or shooters were responsible for seven killings in the Phoenix area. But authorities said Monday they have linked Saucedo, who had recently been identified as a “person of interest” in the serial shootings, to 12 incidents and nine deaths, the first being the murder of Romero in August 2015.

The case against Saucedo remains open, officials said. No motive has been identified, police said. 

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called Monday “a good day in the city of Phoenix.”

“It is our residents and our law enforcement working together that has help put a community at ease and help provide closure to the victims of these terrible crimes,” Stanton said. 

In addition to Romero, Saucedo is suspected of killing Jesse Olivas, 22;  Diego Verdugo Sanchez, 21; Krystal Annette White, 55; Horacio De Jesus Peña, 32; Manuel Castro Garcia, 19; Maleah Ellis, 12; Stefanie Ellis, 33; and Angela Linner, 31. Saucedo is also suspected of wounding a 16-year-old boy and a 21-year-old man, authorities said.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the case has been handed over to his office for prosecution. His office will review the evidence and file charges that “will meet a reasonable likelihood of conviction,” he said. 

“That’s the goal there — to make sure that we have a case that we can prosecute successfully that will hold responsible individuals accountable for the harm they cause to our community,” Montgomery said. “And make no mistake, for the pain that both surviving victims and surviving family members of victims have suffered, this may bring them justice but will not bring them perfect justice.”

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may 9, 01:29
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'Active Shooter' At Texas' North Lake College Dies In Apparent Murder-Suicide

An “active shooter” reported at North Lake College in Irving, Texas, is dead, along with one victim, police said Wednesday.

The shooter appears to have killed himself after fatally shooting one victim, according to the Irving Police Department’s Twitter feed.

The college sent out an alert at 11:45 a.m. local time, saying that there was an ongoing “intruder lockdown” in place, according to The Dallas Morning News. 

By 1 p.m., police had identified a suspected gunman, telling the Morning News that a suspect seen in surveillance footage was a white man with a brown buzz cut, wearing an orange tank top with a gray stripe. It’s unclear whether that suspect was the one who later killed himself.

Nasrin Nanbakhsh, a math tutor who was on campus Wednesday, told the Morning News she saw the suspect standing over the victim, who was sitting in a chair. She said the suspect fired three shots.

Students and teachers reportedly took shelter inside classrooms and reported seeing officers with rifles clearing each room. Later, campus security escorted students out. The college reported that all classes were canceled for the rest of the day.

Irving police said on Twitter that there appeared to be “

” but that police would “continue to search to make the campus safe.”

MacArthur High School nearby was also on lockdown as a precaution, the office of Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne confirmed.

North Lake College is a two-year community college with its central campus in Irving’s Las Colinas neighborhood. It is one of seven colleges in the Dallas County Community College District.

Around 11,000 students were enrolled at North Lake College in fall 2013, according to the school, with nearly 80 percent of those students attending full-time.

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may 3, 21:01
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May Day Strikes Hit Cities Around The Country

Workers in cities from coast to coast took the day off Monday to hit the streets and protest the Donald Trump administration for what organizers hoped would be the largest May Day demonstration in the U.S. in years.

The mass protest ― coordinated by labor, immigration and other progressive groups ― served as another early test of the grassroots momentum against the new White House and its right-wing policies. It came on the heels of a climate march that drew tens of thousands to Washington on Saturday.

Backers of the May Day protests saw the day as an ideal opportunity to challenge the Trump administration over its immigration crackdown. The president has promised to ramp up deportations of undocumented workers, strip federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities, and build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Zeferina Perez, a 59-year-old who came from Mexico two decades ago, said she wanted to show that American businesses cannot function without immigrant labor. She said it stung to see her community vilified on the national stage when immigrants were working hard for meager wages and often exploited to begin with.

“We need to demonstrate to everyone that immigrants are important to this country,” said Perez, who was passing out protest leaflets in D.C. ahead of Monday. “We’re willing to take any job that they give us. We only want to work and take care of our families.”

Los Angeles protesters began gathering before daylight Monday ahead of several marches taking place across the city.

In Philadelphia, teachers took sick days and protested over their lack of a contract, blocking traffic as they marched down North Broad St. Students joined them,

In downtown Denver, around 60 people gathered to protest Trump and fight for better working conditions for all people, immigrants included. Eva Martinez, representing Service Employees International Union local chapter 105, told HuffPost in Spanish she’s here to send a “message to Trump that we are together and we are strong and we’re going to fight.”

In New York City, workers picketed outside B&H Photo after the company announced earlier this year it would shut down its two warehouses in the city, cutting more than 300 jobs. 

Several businesses in different cities closed their doors to show their support for the May Day protests and immigrants’ rights.

The May Day holiday has radical roots in the American fight for an eight-hour workday, and it serves as an annual working-class celebration of labor in many foreign countries, including Mexico. The largest May Day demonstration in recent U.S. history occurred in 2006, when hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers went on strike to rally for immigrant rights.

As they laid the groundwork for this May Day, organizers had that massive protest in mind ― echoing other recent, anti-Trump demonstrations, like the massive women’s march that followed Inauguration Day.

“I think May 1 is the start of something, just as Jan. 21, with the women’s march, was the start of something,” said David Huerta, president of United Service Workers West, which is part of the Service Employees International Union. “We have to continue to voice our grievances with this administration and let them know there’s a resistance building. This isn’t just about immigrants or women. It’s about all of us who are being targeted.”

Although large-scale U.S. strikes are at a historic low in modern times, Trump’s election has kindled hopes on the left of a massive general strike to shut things down. February’s “day without immigrants” managed to shut down restaurants and other businesses in certain cities. March’s “day without a woman” brought thousands to Trump’s doors in Washington mid-week, many of them forgoing work for a Wednesday.

Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said it remained to be seen whether the strikes have a legacy.

“We may be entering an era of political strikes, in which unions and other groups set a date and an agenda, but in which lots of unaffiliated people join in,” Lichtenstein said. “The question is: Can these strikes be given any sort of institutional backbone, any impact other than a one-time event that needs to be recreated from start each time?”

Unions like Huerta’s played a major role in May Day planning, advising workers on their rights if they wanted to strike and pressuring companies not to retaliate against anyone who takes part. Tech companies like Google and Facebook have agreed not to punish employees who are out for the day, and they’ve encouraged their contractors who employ low-wage janitors and food service workers ― many of them Latino immigrants ― to do the same.

In Washington, a local immigrant rights group called Many Languages One Voice was canvassing the downtown business area asking employers to close for the day. If they were unwilling to do that, the group wanted them to commit to allowing employees to miss work without reprisal. The group handed managers pledge sheets to sign, and doled out information about the protests to workers, telling them not to work or shop on Monday.

“We want folks to see that there’s a group on the ground that’s concerned about retaliation,” said Hannah Kane, an organizer with the immigrant rights group. Kane said more than two dozen restaurants, hair salons and other mostly independent businesses had agreed to shutter for the day. Her group planned to accompany workers back to work on Tuesday if they were concerned about being punished.

There have been several short-lived protest strikes since Trump took office, including a temporary work stoppage by taxi drivers at JFK International Airport. That strike was a direct response to an executive order issued by Trump barring refugees from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The “day without immigrants” in February closed restaurants and some schools in cities like Washington.

Perez said she hoped that May Day would one day become the working-class celebration in the U.S. that it is in her native Mexico.

“May Day is the worker’s day,” she said. “Here they don’t honor the work that immigrants do. We want people to respect us and our rights.”

Kate Abbey-Lambertz and Ryan Grenoble contributed to this report.

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may 1, 19:32
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Arkansas Executes First Inmate In 12 Years

Arkansas carried out its first execution in 12 years on Thursday night following a flurry of court filings. 

Ledell Lee, 51, was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. CDT, just minutes before his death warrant expired. Lee had no last words, according to the Arkansas Department of Corrections. 

Lee is one of eight men the state originally wanted to execute over 11 days before the supply of one of the drugs in its three-part lethal injection protocol expires at month’s end. Four of the inmates have received individual stays of execution. 

Throughout his more than two decades on death row, Lee maintained his innocence. He was convicted of the 1993 beating death of 26-year-old Debra Reese in her Jacksonville home.

Lee’s execution came after a flurry of last-minute appeals for more time to test DNA evidence that his lawyers hoped could exonerate him. The Innocence Project and the American Civil Liberties Union represented Lee in his final court battles. 

“Ledell Lee proclaimed his innocence from the day of his arrest until the night of his execution twenty-four years later,” the Innocence Project said in a statement following Lee’s execution. “During that time, hundreds of innocent people have been freed from our nation’s prisons and death rows by DNA evidence. It is hard to understand how the same government that uses DNA to prosecute crimes every day could execute Mr. Lee without allowing him a simple DNA test.”

It added: “While reasonable people can disagree on whether death is an appropriate form of punishment, no one should be executed when there is a possibility that person is innocent.”

Lee’s attorneys had raced to court Thursday with a string of filings that raised various issues about Lee’s trials and his representation over the years. Among them, attorneys noted that Lee’s lawyers in his first trial provided inadequate counsel and that the presiding judge didn’t disclose an affair with the assistant prosecutor, whom the judge later married. Lee’s post-conviction counsel showed up in court appearing drunk and slurring his words.

Arkansas set out to execute eight people over the course of 11 days. Why these eight? Why now?"
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

Lee’s current attorneys further argued that Lee had an intellectual disability, which made him ineligible for the death penalty under the Constitution.

Other legal petitions surrounded Arkansas’s use of midazolam, the controversial sedative that has been blamed for botched executions in states including Arizona and Oklahoma, and others questioned the state’s hasty execution schedule, which shortened the defendants’ time for measures such as clemency reviews.

The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals voted against granting Lee clemency Thursday.  

Notably, the U.S. Supreme Court’s newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, voted with the 5-4 majority that refused to reverse the 8th Circuit’s decision to allow the execution to take place. 

Justice Stephen Breyer, who was in favor of granting Lee a stay, lamented that Arkansas’s driving factor ― the expiration date of the drugs ― seemed arbitrary.

“Arkansas set out to execute eight people over the course of 11 days. Why these eight? Why now?” Breyer wrote. “The apparent reason has nothing to do with the heinousness of their crimes or with the presence (or absence) of mitigating behavior. It has nothing to do with their mental state. It has nothing to do with the need for speedy punishment.”

Lee’s execution was first effectively put on hold Wednesday due to a temporary restraining order put in place by a Pulaski County Circuit judge. The judge blocked the state from using its supply of pancuronium bromide, the second drug in the state’s three-drug cocktail. The drug supplier objected to the drug’s use in executions and said the state misleadingly obtained its product and refused to return it despite being refunded by the supplier.  

On Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court lifted the judge’s restraining order.

Just before 7 p.m., when Lee’s execution was scheduled to take place, the 8th Circuit issued a temporary stay ― followed later by a temporary stay from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ― to take additional time to consider his case.

Alito’s stay was set to expire at 9:30 p.m. or by a subsequent order, whichever was later. By 9:30 p.m., the 8th Circuit had denied all of Lee’s requests, but Alito’s stay remained in place pending the final order. The Arkansas Department of Corrections said the lethal injections were started at 11:44 p.m., and Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. with no reported complications in the execution process. 

An ADC spokesman told The Associated Press that Lee requested Holy Communion as his last meal. 

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) had aggressively sought Lee’s execution and called his death a “lawful sentence ... carried out.”

“The family of the late Debra Reese, who was brutally murdered with a tire thumper after being targeted because she was home alone, has waited more than 24 years to see justice done. I pray this lawful execution helps bring closure for the Reese family,” Rutledge said in a statement. 

Amnesty International USA, which opposes capital punishment, called Thursday’s execution a “shameful day for Arkansas.”

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apr 21, 07:33
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Anita Hill Speaks Out In The Wake Of Bill O'Reilly's Sexual Harassment Allegations

Anita Hill once inspired a national movement across the country for women to speak out against sexual harassment in the workplace. Now, in the wake of Bill O’Reilly’s harassment accusations and his subsequent departure from Fox News, Hill is calling for another change in the way U.S. society makes excuses for men in positions of power.

“The problem with sexual harassment isn’t just because people behave badly,” said Hill, now a professor of social policy and women’s studies, in a USA Today interview published Wednesday. “The problem is our inability to develop productive responses to it, and that exists because of our culture that accepts it, because that culture then gets built into how we approach solutions to it.”

“It gets built into the choices we make about who can be believed,” she added. “And even when we find sexual harassment exists, the solutions are very often to move the women who have complained to other positions.”

In 1991, Hill testified in front of an all-male panel of congress members against her former boss Clarence Thomas, who was waiting to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. During the hearings, which were broadcasted to millions of Americans across the country, Hill described all the sexually explicit comments she said Thomas had made while she worked for him as a federal government employee.

Her testimony was controversial and subjected to extreme scrutiny, but it also marked one of the first times that workplace sexual harassment was examined as a public issue. Hill’s testimony inspired thousands of women to speak out against harassment ― an act that was unheard of at the time.

In her interview with USA Today, Hill said that despite all the progress that’s been made, people still make excuses for men’s predatory behavior. She recalled President Donald Trump dismissing his “grab them by the pussy” comments as “locker room talk.”

“We have a whole host of people accepting that as just something men do as opposed to understanding it as predatory behavior that is not only immoral but is also illegal,” Hill told the USA Today. “We had some social forces coming together but we had a cultural excuse that overlaid [Trump’s] statement or his explanation.”

Hill added that women now have more opportunities than she did to speak out against harassment, giving as an example former Uber engineer Susan Fowler’s blog post, which detailed how the company had handled her sexual harassment claim.

“The idea that these kinds of behaviors can stay hidden is fading because there are ways to get them out. I think the key is to keep pushing,” Hill said. “When you deal with someone like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, the key is for people to keep coming forward.”

O’Reilly was dropped from Fox News on Wednesday after sexual harassment accusations resurfaced. Similarly, Ailes stepped down as CEO of Fox News in September after a sexual harassment lawsuit ended in a hefty settlement

Hill’s comments on O’Reilly’s controversy and Fowler’s HR complaints echoed an op-ed she penned for The Washington Post this month, in which she argued that organizations have no excuse for not holding themselves accountable for sexual harassment.

“Sexual harassment is about control, power and those who abuse it,” Hill wrote for the Post. “It can be stopped only when companies recognize that everyone benefits when women can work in a workplace that is abuse-free.”

Read Hill’s full interview with USA Today here.

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apr 20, 14:05
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