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Alleged getaway driver charged in killing of judge, wounding of girlfriend
Jeremy Gorner Apr-13-2017 271 0


Chicago police say the attempted armed robbery of a slain Cook County judge and his injured girlfriend early Monday was not a random act while announcing murder and other charges against the first of several suspects.

Police also revealed that shell casings found outside the judge's Far South Side home matched ballistics evidence from an attempted armed robbery in the early morning hours three months ago. The victim was shot and wounded.

At a news conference Wednesday evening at police headquarters, Chief of Detectives Melissa Staples answered few questions, emphasizing that the investigation remained "open and ongoing" and that more details would come out in court Thursday. But she did call the attack on Associate Judge Raymond Myles and his girlfriend "a targeted robbery." However, Staples wouldn't say whether it was the judge or his girlfriend who was the target of the robbery.

According to the Cook County state's attorney's office, Joshua T. Smith, 37, was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and armed robbery.

Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for State's Attorney Kim Foxx, said Smith is expected to appear in bond court at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Thursday.

Police would not identify Smith's role in the attempted armed robbery, but multiple law enforcement sources told the Chicago Tribune that he acted as the alleged getaway driver.

According to court records, Smith was charged in Cook County Circuit Court in 2002 with armed robbery, aggravated vehicular hijacking and aggravated unlawful restraint. He pleaded guilty the following year to armed robbery and was sentenced to six years in prison, the records show.
Police are still seeking the gunman and a third participant, according to sources.

At the news conference, Staples said video surveillance in the area of the judge's home in the West Chesterfield neighborhood played a crucial role in identifying the getaway car used in the attempted holdup and its license plate. The cameras did not capture the shooting itself, however, she said.
There had been a push recently to get cameras installed throughout the neighborhood - an effort that the judge had joined in.

"I can tell you that the placement and the concentration of cameras in and outside of the judge's neighborhood was instrumental for detectives to get a jump-start on this case," Staples said.

Tactical officers found the suspected getaway car - a red 2005 Pontiac Sunfire - in the Calumet Police District on the city's Far South Side on Tuesday night, even though its license plate had been switched since the shooting in an attempt to "hinder our investigative efforts," Staples said. The officers noticed the car had different plates on the front and rear, she said.

Records show that Smith shares an address with the woman who owns the Pontiac. But detectives do not believe she was involved in the attempted holdup, Staples said.

Staples told reporters that the shell casings found outside the judge's home matched those retrieved at the scene of an attempted armed robbery and shooting in the Englewood neighborhood in January, but she said the two shootings don't appear to be otherwise linked. Police said guns used in Chicago shootings often change hands and that the victim of the January holdup attempt was not cooperating with investigators. The victim, identified by police sources as an alleged gang member with a long arrest record, was shot in the leg.

The brazen attack on Myles, believed to be the first fatal shooting of a Chicago-area judge in more than three decades, touched off a massive investigation.

An early riser, Myles was up before dawn Monday, getting ready to go to the gym with his girlfriend before reporting to his courtroom. But as the 52-year-old woman left the two-story brick residence shortly before 5 a.m., she was confronted near the garage by a gunman who shot her in the leg, according to police. Hearing the commotion, Myles, 66, ran outside and exchanged words with the assailant before he was shot and killed.

A neighbor and friend of the judge told the Tribune he was awakened by the shouts of the woman and the crack of about six gunshots. "She was screaming, 'Don't kill him, don't kill him!' " the neighbor said.

An autopsy found Myles had been shot multiple times, the Cook County medical examiner's office said Tuesday.

The FBI has offered $25,000 for information leading to the apprehension of the killer.
Sheriff Tom Dart's office investigates about 10 death threats against Cook County judges a year but had no record of any threats against Myles in recent years.

News of Myles' death stunned colleagues at the county's main criminal courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue, where Myles had worked for years. Longtime courthouse employees described Myles as hardworking and friendly. He was assigned to the "youthful offenders" call, where he heard narcotics cases involving defendants about age 27 and younger.

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A week after the murder of 11-year-old AbbieGail "Abbie" Smith in New Jersey, the girl's grief-stricken father and sister in Jamaica made an impassioned plea to President Trump to allow them into the United States to attend the girl's funeral Monday.

In an exclusive video to APP.com, father Kenroy Smith tearfully asked Trump to intervene after AbbieGail's older sister Kenish had her visa application denied. The visa for Kenroy, who had previously been deported from the U.S. on a drug charge 16 years ago, remained in limbo.

The Smiths said they were desperate to come to Keansburg to pay their final respects to AbbieGail and to see where she had been fatally stabbed last week. They feared they would miss their only chance to say goodbye.

"My dear little AbbieGail was taken away and I need to pay my last respects to her," Kenroy Smith said breaking down in tears. "That's all I'm asking."

Kenish, the sister, said her temporary visa application was rejected Wednesday. She said she wasn't given a reason, but officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, questioned her about her occupation as a cosmetologist and her ties to her home country before making the decision.
Kenish said she showed officials AbbieGail's death certificate and a letter from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, but she was still turned down for a visa.

A State Department official said visa applications are judged on a case-by-case basis and the department doesn't comment on individual cases.

"AbbieGail Smith needs her sister there at the moment," she said. "Who's going to stand up for us? We have no control. We can't do it on our own."

Kenroy Smith said he would find out Friday whether he would be granted entry to the United States.
"She's my daughter. She's my everything," he said. "Please let me see my daughter for the last day before she goes under."

AbbieGale's body was found July 13 wrapped in a blanket on the roof of her apartment building hours after she was reported missing, authorities said. She was killed by a stab wound to the neck.
Smith's upstairs neighbor Andreas Erazo has been charged with her murder. He is in the Monmouth County Jail awaiting a bail hearing.

AbbieGail will be buried Monday following a Mass at St. Ann's Church in Keansburg.

Kenroy Smith said he was unsure whether he would be allowed into the country. He was deported from the United States to Jamaica in 2001 following a marijuana arrest.
"I'm not worried. I'm just praising God," he said.

Latisha Smith, one of AbbieGail's sisters who lives in Maryland, said she has been up early every day this week writing emails to elected officials and going to local immigration offices in a frantic last-ditch effort to help her father and sister get visas.

"Every minute it's like I'm hitting a roadblock, but I'm just not going to stop," she said. "I'm not stopping until they're here."

Latisha Smith said AbbieGail frequently visited her father in Jamaica and that Kenroy had developed a special bond with his youngest daughter.

"We're a family. We all need to be together for AbbieGail," she said. "The government — I just hope they hear my cry."
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A former Miss Kentucky USA from Louisville is accused of smuggling drugs into an Ohio prison for an inmate.

Kia Hampton, 28, was arrested on May 26 in Allen County, Ohio, after police say she was caught smuggling marijuana into the Allen Correctional Institution for Jeremy Kelly, an inmate at the facility, according to an affidavit detailing the arrest.

Hampton was crowned Miss Kentucky USA in November 2010 when she was 21 years old. She was the first African American chosen to represent Kentucky in the Miss USA pageant.

While listening to recorded phone calls, officers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol said they obtained enough evidence to obtain a warrant for a cavity search.

As officers were interrogating her, Hampton reached into her pant leg and pushed a white balloon on to the floor, the affidavit said.

Officers later determined that she was carrying 2.82 grams of marijuana into the jail, Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Kenneth Sturgill said.

She was indicted on July 13 by an Allen County grand jury and faces one count of "illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto the grounds of a specified governmental facility," a third-degree felony that carries a three-year prison sentence.

Hampton is scheduled to be arraigned July 26 in Allen County.
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Dallas will have its first female police chief by the end of the summer.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax has chosen Detroit Deputy Police Chief Ulysha Renee Hall from a pool of seven finalists, three of them internal candidates.

"It was a difficult choice," Broadnax said at City Hall Wednesday, "but I believe Renee Hall will be a dynamic chief."

Dallas' chief position has been vacant since October, when Chief David Brown retired from the department. Assistant Chief of Police David Pughes ran the department as interim chief while officials searched for a permanent replacement.

Pughes didn’t apply for the job, but three insiders did: Deputy Chiefs Malik Aziz and Rick Watson and Assistant Chief Gary Tittle.

Dallas city managers have chosen to hire outsiders for the top cop job multiple times in the last few decades. Three consecutive chiefs — Mack Vines, Bill Rathburn and Ben Click — all came to the city after careers in departments outside the state.

Aziz, who has been a finalist in several other cities, was a favorite among officers to become the next chief. He had no comment Wednesday about the chief selection.

The city manager’s office initially selected eight people as finalists for the job, but Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye withdrew his application.

The city manager touted Hall's passion for public service and said she has the right tools to solve the department's key challenges.

"Chief Hall is a proven leader with a stellar background," Broadnax said. "These are qualities I believe are critical as we tackle crime to make our city safer while addressing organizational and policy issues within the department."

City officials say Hall will formally take over Sept. 5.

Three women — Hall, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson — now have some of the most powerful law enforcement jobs in the Dallas area.

Hall, who has been on the force in Detroit since 1999, has dealt with several issues paralleling crises in Dallas. These include the increasing homeless population and the loose-dogs issue that has affected low-income neighborhoods.

She now oversees officers on the east side of the city.
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The boyfriend of a woman who was shot and left for dead outside of a Midlands hospital has now been charged with her murder, according to the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

Albertus Lewis is now charged with murder and obstruction of justice.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department said the victim, identified as Mayra Sanchez, 20, was dropped off about 4:30 a.m. July 5 at Palmetto Health Richland.

Sanchez later died at the hospital.

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A 25-year-old South Carolina woman was in jail on Tuesday on a murder charge for the death of her 13-month-old daughter, who police said she left in a car last month while she went to a hair salon in suburban Atlanta.

The mother, DiJanelle Fowler, kept the car running with the air conditioning on, but the car's battery died while she was inside the beauty shop in Tucker, Georgia, on June 15, said DeKalb County Police spokeswoman Shiera Campbell.

Police believe Skylar Fowler was dead by the time her mother returned to the car a few hours later, Campbell said.

"Instead of calling 911, she called roadside assistance to get her battery jumped," Campbell said in a phone interview.

Fowler concealed the baby from the person who helped restart her car, then went to a hospital and called 911, Campbell said.

The mother told police she herself had passed out from some sort of medical condition, Campbell said. But the child's condition indicated she had died sooner than the time Fowler suggested, the police spokeswoman said.

The high temperature in DeKalb County that day was 92 degrees Fahrenheit at 5 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Twenty-three U.S. children have died so far this year after being left in hot cars, up from 20 through mid-July in 2016, according to the nonprofit KidsAndCars.org, which tracks such deaths.

In all, 39 children died in hot cars in 2016. The highest annual number was recorded in 2010, when 49 children died, said Janette Fennell, founder and president of the KidsAndCars.org.

Children ages 3 and younger account for 87 percent of the hot-car deaths the group has tracked, she said.

Fowler left the Atlanta area after her daughter's death. She was arrested late on Monday after turning herself in to DeKalb County Police, who had been searching for her, Campbell said.

In addition to the second-degree murder charge, she also is charged with second-degree cruelty to children and concealing a death, jail records show. Court records did not show whether Fowler had hired a lawyer.
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The Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed a woman who called 911 has been identified.
According to police sources, the officer has been identified as Mohamed Noor.

Noor joined the Minneapolis Police Department in March of 2015. He was celebrated as the first Somali officer for the 5th Precinct. He graduated from Augsburg College in 2011 with a degree in business administration.

In May of 2016, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges recognized Noor, calling his assignment a "wonderful sign of building trust and community policing at work."

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Noor has two open complaints against him from 2017 and one from 2016.
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The woman killed was identified by family, friends and clients as Justine Damond, a spiritual healer from Australia, who was also a bride-to-be. The BCA says the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office has conducted its autopsy and will formally release her identity and cause of death, once all family notifications have been completed.

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They say an officer fired his weapon and killed the woman but many questions remain.
No video of the incident has surfaced.

According to the news release, "The officers’ body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists."

The BCA reiterated that it does not determine whether a law enforcement agency policy was violated -- that decision will be reviewed through the department's internal affairs process.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau released a statement Monday afternoon saying, "This is clearly a tragic death."

She said there are a lot of unanswered questions -- many of which she's pushing to get the answers to as quickly as possible.
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Fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver has been indicted for murder for the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.

A Dallas County grand jury returned the indictment for Oliver Monday on one count of murder and four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant, according to Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson.
  
"It is important to let our community know that justice is proceeding effectively and thoroughly at the Dallas County DA's Office," Johnson said. "This is the very first time we have issued an arrest warrant for a police officer before the case was presented to a grand jury. As we move forward, my office continues to be committed to seeking justice for Jordan and his family. You have my personal guarantee that we will prosecute this case vigorously."

Oliver, 31, was one of the responding officers on a call about a loud party on the night of April 29. Edwards was in a vehicle with three other teenagers leaving the party. Police said the car was driving away from the officers when Oliver fired a rifle into the vehicle and killed Edwards.
Oliver has already been indicted for two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant for a separate incident before the deadly shooting.
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The Dallas Country Grand Jury is expected to determine whether former Balch Springs Police Officer will be indicted for the murder of 15 year old Jordan Edwards. A press conference is scheduled for 3pm today.

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