Top 5 Live-WURD Tuesday March 31
1. Prosecution Rests in Boston Marathon Bombing Trial
The government today rested its case against accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after teary-eyed jurors heard heartbreaking testimony about the bombing’s youngest victim, 8-year-old Martin Richard.
Richard was killed in the Boston Marathon attacks on April 15, 2013, Chief Medical Examiner Henry Nields testified. The entire length of his small body was blasted with fragments from the bomb allegedly detonated by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Nields said.
Jurors saw the damage done to his clothing: a charred long-sleeve Boston Celtics jersey, its sleeves tattered, large holes throughout, stained with blood. Under that Richard wore a short-sleeve New England Patriots t-shirt, which was ripped apart and bloody. Nields could not determine whether he was wearing pants or shorts because the fabric had completely melted.
2. Rogue narcotics officers finally go to trial
Prosecutors on Monday accused six Philadelphia narcotics officers on trial in federal court of shaking down suspects, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and lying about it on police reports.
Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman and John Speiser – former members of the Philadelphia Police Department’s elite Narcotics Field Unit – are accused in what Police Commissioner Ramsey has called “one of the worst cases of police corruption I have ever seen.”
The trial’s central question will likely be this: Whose testimony is more credible – cops accused in kidnappings, extortions, assaults and drug dealing, or admitted criminals who say their rights were violated?
Prosecutors allege that from 2006 to 2012, the officers – led by Liciardello – stole over $400,000 in cash, drugs and personal property from drug suspects – and falsified police records.
3. Mumia Abu-Jamal ailing, supporters say
A lawyer representing Mumia Abu-Jamal said the former death-row inmate was hospitalized Monday for an undisclosed reason.
Bret Grote, legal director for the Pittsburgh-based Abolitionist Law Center, said he and a small group of supporters were told by staff at Schuylkill Medical Center that Abu-Jamal was a patient there.
Grote said he saw three prison correctional officers, including a supervisor, guarding the door to a critical-care room where Abu-Jamal was being treated.
“We’re concerned, about as concerned as it gets, about Mumia’s health,” Grote said.
A woman answering the phone at the Schuylkill County hospital said there was no one named Abu-Jamal or Wesley Cook, his birth name, listed as a patient there.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections declined to confirm that Abu-Jamal had been hospitalized. “We never discuss an inmate’s medical condition,” said deputy press secretary Susan Bensinger in an e-mail.
4. Two men dressed as women try to ram NSA gate
Two men dressed as women smashed a stolen car into a police vehicle after they disobeyed commands at the closely guarded gates of the National Security Agency on Monday, prompting police to open fire.
One of the men died, the other was injured and a police officer also was taken to a hospital. Details remained unclear hours later. Initial images from the scene showed emergency workers loading the uniformed officer into an ambulance. Nearby were a dark-colored SUV and an SUV emblazoned with “NSA Police,” both heavily damaged.
It was not known why the men wound up at the gate at Fort Meade, a sprawling military post that houses the National Security Agency, or why they did not obey orders from NSA police. Fort Meade is just off Interstate 295 between Baltimore and Washington.
5. Did Germanwings pilot use crash to commit suicide?
Prosecutors in Germany say Andreas Lubitz was treated for “suicidal tendencies” before he got his pilot’s license. Last week, when Lubitz strapped into the cockpit on a lonely journey with 149 others, he left behind bottles of antidepressants and a doctor’s warning that he should not fly.
On Monday, German prosecutor’s spokesman Christoph Kumpa said Lubitz had been treated as a suicide risk “for an extended period of time” before he received a pilot’s license.
Transcripts of the cockpit voice recorder leaked to a German newspaper quote Lubitz as saying “hopefully” and “we’ll see” when asked to go over landing procedures.
The captain takes a bathroom break and comes back to a locked cockpit door.
He knocks, bangs, then shouts: “For God’s sake open the door!”
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon