The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, October 19, 2021 1:00 am


Jury selection begins in trial on Georgia slaying

Associated Press

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – As jury selection got slowly underway Monday in the trial of three white men charged with fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery as he was running in their Georgia neighborhood, potential jurors said they came in with negative feelings about the case and worried about the personal consequences of serving on the jury.

The slaying of the 25-year-old Black man sparked a national outcry fueled by graphic video of the shooting leaked online more than two months after Arbery was killed. Father and son Greg and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan are charged with murder and other crimes in Arbery's death on Feb. 23, 2020, just outside the port city of Brunswick.

With hundreds called, jury selection could last two weeks or more.

Arbery's father said he was praying for an impartial panel and a fair trial, saying Black crime victims too often have been denied justice. “This is 2021, and it's time for a change,” Marcus Arbery Sr. told The Associated Press.

Evaluation sought for Bryant widow

Los Angeles County is seeking to compel psychiatric evaluations for Kobe Bryant's widow and others to determine if they truly suffered emotional distress after first responders took and shared graphic photos from the site of the 2020 helicopter crash that killed the basketball star, his teenage daughter and seven others, court documents say.

Vanessa Bryant, whose federal lawsuit against the county alleges invasion of privacy, has claimed in court papers that she has experienced “severe emotional distress” that has compounded the trauma of losing her husband and 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

Kobe Bryant and the others were killed Jan. 26, 2020, when the helicopter they were aboard, on their way to a girls basketball tournament, crashed in the hills west of Los Angeles amid foggy weather. Federal safety officials blamed pilot error for the wreck.

Details emerge of rape on train

A man charged with raping a woman on a commuter train just outside of Philadelphia harassed her for more than 40 minutes while multiple people held up their phones to seemingly record the assault without intervening, authorities said.

More than two dozen train stops passed as the man harassed, groped and eventually raped the woman, the police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said at a news conference Monday.

Police do not believe a single witness on the train dialed 911. They are investigating whether some bystanders filmed the assault.

Chicago officers tell vaccine status

Roughly 65% of Chicago Police Department employees have complied with a city requirement to report their COVID-19 vaccination status, lagging far behind other city departments Monday in a dispute that could lead to officer firings in the nation's third-largest city.

Chicago is requiring its employees to be vaccinated by year's end unless they have a religious or medical exemption. The first deadline to report vaccination status was Friday with those who didn't respond facing unpaid leave. The head of the Fraternal Order of Police had urged members to defy the city's requirement as both the city and union have taken the matter to court.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters Monday that the police department was assessing the number of employees who hadn't reported their status and that a “very small number” of those employees had been placed on “no-pay status” after being given more opportunities to follow through.

Texas sued over redistricting

Taking Texas to court again over voting laws, civil rights groups sued Monday over redrawn U.S. House districts that they allege thwart the political strength of a booming Latino population that is driving the state's explosive growth.

The federal lawsuit was filed even as Republican lawmakers were still rushing to put final touches on new voting boundaries in Texas, the big winner of the 2020 census – the only state awarded two new seats in Congress. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign off on the changes, which must reach his desk by Tuesday.

Republicans have said they followed the law in defending the maps, which protect their slipping grip on Texas by pulling more GOP-leaning voters into suburban districts where Democrats have made inroads in recent years.

Boy, 4, walks away after 70-foot fall

A 4-year-old boy who fell off a 70-foot cliff at Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky suffered a few scratches and bruises, but walked away without any severe injuries, officials said.

The boy and his parents were hiking near Princess Arch on Friday when he slipped fell, hitting “multiple ledges” before landing about 70 feet below, the Wolfe County Search and Rescue Team told news outlets. The father scrambled after the boy and called for help.

When Wolfe County Search and Rescue arrived, they were relieved to find the boy alert and talking.

Half of DC's trains taken offline

Washington's regional Metro system abruptly pulled more than half its fleet of trains from service early Monday morning over a lingering problem with the wheels and axles that caused a dramatic derailing last week. The ruling promises to complicate daily travel and commutes for thousands of riders for an unspecified length of time while the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the issue.

The Metro authority's safety commission ordered the withdrawal of the entire 7000-series line of trains overnight. The Kawasaki-made 7000-series are the newest set of trains in service and the 748 cars comprise about 60% of the fleet.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy told reporters Monday that a design flaw had been identified which caused the trains' wheels to spread too wide on the axles, allowing the carriage to slip off the tracks.

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