The verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial has received a lot of attention – duly so – throughout the media. The Broad Side has several excellent articles on the verdict and the reaction to it. This week’s “6 Things” takes a look at some other famous trials and arrests in the news:
1. Jodi Arias Sentencing Deferred to September. After a five-month trial, Jodi Arias was convicted in May of the brutal murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. The jury that found her guilty also decided that the killing was “especially cruel,” which made Arias eligible for the death penalty. Her defense team is arguing that the “especially cruel” component of the jury’s finding should be vacated. If her lawyers win that motion, a new jury will be assembled, and lawyers for both sides will re-argue the nature of her crime. On Tuesday, the hearing on the defense motion was postponed until late August. If the prosecution decides to stop seeking the death penalty, then the presiding judge will sentence Ms. Arias to life in prison, either with or without the possibility of parole.
2. Witness in Whitey Bulger Trial Found Dead. In the ongoing trial against famed Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, the prosecution is now one witness short. Stephen Rakes, 59, spent decades chasing Bulger’s shadows after the gangster robbed Rakes’ liquor store at gunpoint in 1984. Rakes had been on the prosecution’s witness list, although a decision had recently been made not to call him. Rakes was reportedly frustrated by the decision, but he continued to be a constant presence at the trial, which has already spanned six weeks. He was found dead on Wednesday afternoon. There were no obvious signs of trauma to his body, and his death is under investigation.
3. Captain of Shipwrecked Cruise Liner Renews Plea Request. In 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship wrecked just off the coast of Italy, killing 32. Its captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial and is renewing his push to get a plea bargain. The charges include manslaughter, abandoning ship, and causing the wreck. If convicted, Schettino could face 20 years in prison. A different judge, who presided over pretrial hearings, rejected Schettino’s earlier request to negotiate a more lenient sentence, but allowed five others, who were then co-defendants, to strike a deal with the prosecution. Schettino now claims he is an “innocent scapegoat.”
4. Army Private Must Face Charge of Aiding The Enemy. 25-year-old Army Private Bradley Manning gave “reams” of classified information, including battlefield reports and diplomatic cables, to WikiLeaks. Manning was charged with various offenses in a court martial, including aiding the enemy and computer fraud. The former is the most serious charge he faces, exposing him to a sentence of life in prison without parole. His defense team made a motion to dismiss both charges, but the motion was denied by the presiding judge. The judge is still considering defense motions to dismiss five counts of theft, and Manning has already pleaded guilty to other counts that could put him in jail for 20 years.
5. Anti-Corruption Protester Sentenced to Prison. Alexei Navalny, 37, is considered Russia’s most effective anti-corruption campaigner and opposition leader. That has made him very unpopular with President Vladimir Putin. Navalny was found guilty of embezzlement on Thursday and sentenced to five years in prison. Outsiders view it as a politically motivated case, and expressed their outrage and disappointment in the verdict. News of the conviction sparked protests in Red Square, even though Navalny himself expected to be convicted and Russian officials made no pretense about cracking down on opposition.
6. Mexican Drug Cartel Leader Arrested. Mexican authorities captured the notorious leader of the Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales. He was seized in a border city just south of Laredo, Texas. In a 2012 indictment against him in U.S. federal court, Mr. Trevino Morales is accused of laundering millions of dollars in drug-sale proceeds through U.S. businesses. The U.S. government was offering a $5 million reward for his capture; the Mexican government was offering $2.5 million. The arrest is described as the most significant blow to organized crime since Mexico’s new president assumed office seven months ago, and credit is given to intelligence gathered cooperatively by U.S. and Mexican officials.
Don’t forget to check back next week for the “6 Things” you’ll need to know!
Photo Credit: Wikicommons