• iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Adnan Syed, a convicted killer who gained international fame from the podcast "Serial," will finally get a new trial after spending roughly 18 years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit.The Maryland Court of Special Appeals determined Syed received ineffective assistance by his counsel during his 2000 trial, according to a 138-page opinion filed Thursday afternoon.The ruling can still be appealed to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, which means Syed's conviction could be upheld.Syed's conviction was originally vacated by a lower circuit court in 2016, but the State of Maryland appealed that decision.Syed has been incarcerated since his arrest in February 1999 for the murder of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. She was found buried in a shallow grave in Baltimore's Leakin Park. Syed was sentenced to life in prison in 2000.A retired Baltimore judge issued a ruling in June 2016 granting Syed a new trial on the grounds that he received ineffective counsel in 2000 from a defense attorney who failed to cross-examine a state cell expert witness on key evidence.The ruling followed new evidence presented during a second post-conviction relief hearing in February 2016, including testimony from alibi witness Asia McClain Chapman, who says she spoke with Syed in the library of her high school in Baltimore County at the time the state claims he killed Lee.Syed's lawyer celebrated the long-awaited decision on Twitter.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- In the wake of a string of deadly bombings that shook Austin, Texas, and surrounding areas in recent weeks, the city's police chief called the suspect a "domestic terrorist," even though the incidents have not been formally labeled as such by the feds. The declaration by Chief Brian Manley came during a panel discussion this morning hosted by local media that was focused on the handling of the bombings."I actually agree now that he was a domestic terrorist for what he did to us," Manley said, according to local media."This is a distinction I wanted to make today," Manley said, according to The Austin American-Statesman. During the panel, Manley reportedly said that he hadn't made that declaration earlier because "I was so focused that we put a stop to it," but he felt appropriate categorizing it as domestic terrorism "for what it did to our community," The Statesman reported.The terrorism label is significant because authorities, including Manley, had not used that classification previously.Under U.S. law, "domestic terrorism" is defined by statute and has to be intended to "intimidate or coerce a civilian population"; or "influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion"; or "affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping."Doing so would increase the FBI's involvement in the case, but would not change the penalties without a hate crime designation.The confession video found on the phone of the bomber, Mark Anthony Conditt, who was killed in a blast as police closed in on his vehicle, reportedly did not mention specific threats of terrorism."He does not at all mention anything about terrorism, nor does he mention anything about hate," Manley said on March 21."But, instead, it is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point," he said.
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  • KXTV(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old black man who was unarmed when police shot and killed him in Sacramento earlier this month, will be laid to rest Thursday as mass protests over his death continue in California's capital.The funeral service, which is open to the public, will be held at BOSS Church in south Sacramento beginning at 11 a.m. PT. The Rev. Al Sharpton is expected to deliver the eulogy, according to ABC affiliate KXTV.A wake for Clark took place at the church Wednesday night.Clark died on the night of March 18 after Sacramento police fired 20 bullets at him in his grandmother's yard. He was a father of a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, according to his brother, Stevante Clark.Officers were responding to reports of a black male breaking into a car and hiding in a backyard when they encountered Clark last Sunday night. Police said Clark advanced toward the responding officers while holding an object in his hand. Initially, police reported that Clark was armed with a gun, then with a "toolbar," but he was found to be holding a cellphone. The fatal shooting came less than two years after the killing of Joseph Mann, another unarmed black man who was shot by Sacramento police in July 2016.Widespread protests erupted in California's capital and beyond after the Sacramento Police Department released body-camera and helicopter infrared footage of Clark's killing. One demonstration outside the home arena of the Sacramento Kings basketball team last week caused a lengthy delay in a scheduled game and prevented ticketed fans from entering the event. The footage released by police shows Clark running from a neighbor's yard and onto his grandmother's property. Officers are seen running down a driveway after Clark and taking cover at the edge of a building. The officers yell several times for Clark to stop and show his hands before firing a barrage of gunshots.Clark regularly entered his grandmother's home through the backyard because the front doorbell was broken, according to his brother, Stevante Clark. The two officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave and reportedly have each received death threats. The Sacramento Police Department has so far refused ABC News' request to release the names of the officers.California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced at a press conference Tuesday that he will oversee an "independent part" of the Sacramento Police Department's ongoing investigation into the shooting.Clark's family has retained renowned civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented the family of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida in 2012.
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  • ABCNews.com(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- The brother of the accused mass shooter in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre pleaded no contest Thursday to trespassing on the Stoneman Douglas campus. Zachary Cruz, 18, was arrested on March 19 for trespassing at the school where his brother, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, allegedly gunned down 17 people on Feb. 14.As a part of the deal, Zachary Cruz can never return to Stoneman Douglas and must stay at least 1 mile away from the Parkland, Florida, campus.He also cannot have contact with any of the shooting victims or their family members, and he can't be on any school campus unless he is enrolled to attend. Zachary Cruz was sentenced to time served and six months of probation. While on probation, he must wear an ankle bracelet and cannot have any weapons.He also must schedule an appointment for therapy.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(HOLLYWOOD, Md.) -- A prayer service will be held Thursday afternoon for a 16-year-old girl who was gunned down at her Maryland high school.Just before 8 a.m. on March 20, Jaelynn Willey was in a hallway at Great Mills High School when she was shot once in the head, allegedly by 17-year-old Austin Rollins, according to the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office. A 14-year-old boy was also injured in the leg from the shooting.Rollins was then confronted by a school resource officer and fatally shot himself in the head, according to the sheriff's office.Willey and Rollins "had a prior relationship, which recently ended," the sheriff's office said. "All indications suggest the shooting was not a random act of violence."Two days after the shooting, Willey's mother tearfully announced her daughter would be taken off life support. Willey, the second-oldest of nine siblings, died hours later, surrounded by her family, the sheriff's office said.Thursday's prayer service will be at the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department in Hollywood, Maryland. The shooting took place four days prior to a nationwide March for Our Lives rally.St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron called the shooting "our worst nightmare.""This is what we prepare for," he said. "And this is what we pray we never have to do."
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Severe storms plowed through Texas all the way to Tennessee on Wednesday, with four tornadoes reported -- three in eastern Texas and one in Louisiana.Wind gusts in parts of Mississippi topped 60 mph overnight, as golfball-sized hail was reported there as well as in Texas and Louisiana. Parts of eastern Texas saw more than 6 inches of rain, with an area just north of College Station seeing almost 6.5 inches as Austin saw a record of almost 6 inches.On Thursday morning, that storm system is slowly moving east and dumping heavy rain from Texas to Ohio, with flash flooding likely around Houston, Shreveport and Nashville. Nine states are under flood alerts. As the system continues east, parts of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi may see up to 4 inches of rain over the next 24 hours, leading to flash flooding. Severe storms are expected Thursday in cities including New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham, as well as western Georgia and near Atlanta. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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