<![CDATA[NBC New York - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Wed, 27 May 2015 18:17:25 -0400 Wed, 27 May 2015 18:17:25 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Baby Dies After Losing Consciousness in Queens Park: Police]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 15:58:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/shutterstock-police-crime.jpg

A 10-week-old baby girl who lost consciousness while at a Queens park with her mother was pronounced dead at a hospital Wednesday, police said.

The baby girl, who has since been identified as Zoey Kaplan of Queens, was with her mother and her mother's friend at the park, located at Borage Place and Burns Street in Forest Hills, police said. When the mother went to check on Zoey in her stroller, she found the girl vomiting.

Police responded to a 911 call around 12:30 p.m. By the time they arrived at the park Zoey had lost consciousness. EMS transported the girl to North Shore Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival, according to police.

Police say an investigation is ongoing and that no charges will be filed until a medical examiner determines what killed her.

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<![CDATA[Copper Thieves Caused A Train Suspension: MTA]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:23:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Subway-A-Train-Suspension-Copper-0527.jpg

The MTA says copper thieves were to blame for power problems that brought down the A line in part of Queens for hours and caused headaches for as many as 100,000 commuters throughout the city during the peak of the morning rush.

Service between Rockaway Boulevard and Broad Channel was suspended for several hours Tuesday night and Wednesday after thieves ripped out about 500 feet of cable from 12 locations along the tracks near the Howard Beach stop, the MTA said.

“This morning’s service disruption was directly caused by the theft of cable from along the subway right of way. This led to delays and crowding along all 31 miles of the A train, and forced thousands of Rockaways customers to use shuttle buses to get to work,” said Carmen Bianco, the MTA New York City Transit president . “We are working closely with the NYPD Transit Bureau to help them investigate this crime and identify the culprits responsible.”

The theft was discovered at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, when a Manhattan-bound train lost power near the Howard Beach station, the MTA says. About 150 straphangers were aboard the train when it lost power, and MTA workers brought in another train behind it, so they were able to get off the disabled cars.

The MTA says the stolen cable was likely sold for scrap.

The theft of the copper cables caused service disruptions that reverberated through the entire length of the A and C lines Wednesday, the MTA said.

Service was suspended between Rockaway Boulevard and Broad Channel through the morning rush, forcing thousands of commuters in the Rockaways to rely on shuttle buses or other forms of transportation.

And because A trains are stored in Rockaway Park -- on the Rockaway Peninsula -- the MTA said many trains that would otherwise be used for the morning rush were trapped, severely curtailing service on the line. Trains that were in service were terminating at the Euclid Avenue C stop, which reduced service on that line as well. 

Service was partially restored by late morning, but the MTA said trains would be replaced by shuttle buses again Wednesday night for repair work. Service on the A south of Broad Channel will be suspended after 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. Thursday, according to the MTA. 

As many as 100,000 commuters were affected by the outage. 40,000 of those commuters rely on the A train to get out of the Rockaways, including 3,700 who ride the train to Manhattan. 

"It's a big deal. You need it, it's the only way out," said one woman who lives in the Rockaways. 

Taiwann Frett, one of the drivers who manned the emergency shuttles, tried to keep everyone cool during the morning commute.

"It was a herd. It was outrageous," he said. "The people were aggravated, understandably. They're trying to get to work." 

The Rockaway Ferry, which started post-Sandy as an emergency route, could have been a backup plan for some of the stuck straphangers. That service was discontinued a couple of months ago.

"It's easier, it's faster," said Richard Cotter. 

To see the latest information on the line's status, visit mta.info.

Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.



Photo Credit: MTA]]>
<![CDATA[Strong Thunderstorms Possible Amid Historic May Heat]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 15:53:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP10092211661.jpg

Severe thunderstorms could douse the region Wednesday afternoon and evening amid a wave of hot, muggy conditions that have helped make this month one of the hottest Mays on record in New York City, Storm Team 4 says.

Track Severe Weather Alerts Here

Warnings were being issued for parts of New York northwest of the city and watches are in effect across New York and New Jersey. 

The sizzling conditions that hit the tri-state Tuesday continued Wednesday in what is expected to be the third-hottest May on record in Central Park. Highs are expected to climb into the upper 80s before a cold front pushes through and sparks off a line of strong to severe thunderstorms.

The potentially severe weather should move into the five boroughs and northwestern suburbs just in time for the evening commute. The Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, New Jersey, the Hudson Valley and the Catskills are likely to see the most intense storms, according to Storm Team 4. 

The strong storms have the potential to bring damaging wind gusts, small hailstones and lots of lightning to the area between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Parts of inland New Jersey and the Hudson Valley are under a severe thunderstorm watch until 7 p.m. There is the potential for some localized power outages and airport delays with these storms.

Wednesday night will be mostly cloudy with patchy fog and a few lingering thunderstorms. Temperatures will be in the low 70s.

More heat, haze, humidity and thunderstorms are again in store for the tri-state on Thursday. Highs will climb to the upper 80s amid scattered wet weather in the afternoon.

Conditions will be more tenable on Friday and Saturday, with highs in the low to mid 80s and partly to mostly sunny skies.

Much-needed rain looks likely on Sunday into Monday as another cold front slowly crosses the area with showers and thunderstorms. Highs will be in the upper 70s on Sunday before cooling down to the upper 60s on Monday and Tuesday.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[NY Homeowners Fear Property Reassessment Will Hit Pockets Hard]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 17:33:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nassau+reassessment.jpg

Joseph Caffera pays more than $10,000 dollars a year in property taxes on his Bellmore home, and he wasn't happy to hear that Nassau now plans to reassess all county properties by 2018.

"I said, 'Don't tell me they're gonna start this again,' and I guess they are," he said.

Like many, Caffera worries that if the county determines his home is worth more, his taxes will increase. Former board of assessors member Jeffrey Gold says that concern is warranted.

"I would venture to say everyone will see their assessment go up," said Gold. "It's gonna be a real mess. Even with a perfect reassessment, there's going to be a lot of unhappy people."

The problem, Gold says, is that in recent years, home values fell and a record number of homeowners challenged their assessments and won tax reductions. Now, with values rising again, those homeowners could get hit hard.

"We could go up and that wouldn't bode well for me or for the fact that I am trying to sell my home," said Pat Arcoro, who fought her tax bill and won a $10,000 reduction.

In some cases, Gold said homeowners have slashed their tax bills by 50 percent.. The reassessment, he said, could reverse a lot of that

"Usually when they reassess, it's not to send taxes back down," he said.

The county executive's office declined comment on its plan.

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<![CDATA[Auto Mechanic Shot Dead in Jersey City: Police]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 17:50:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Untitled-1171.jpg

An auto mechanic was shot and killed Wednesday afternoon as he worked on a car in Jersey City, police said.

It appears the man, who police confirmed was in his 50s, was hit by a stray bullet.

The shooting happened on Sackett Street between Bramhall Avenue and Atlantic Street as school was letting out at nearby Ollie Culbreth Jr. Elementary School. Kids were leaving the school and were immediately sent back inside, sources said.

A medical examiner was at the site of the shooting Wednesday evening as residents gathered around.

"Living in this neighborhood is getting ridiculous," one person said.

Police are investigating the shooting. No arrests have been made.

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<![CDATA[Hostage Situation at Gas Station]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 18:00:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/antioch-hostage-chop---23453108.jpg

SWAT teams surrounded a Bay Area gas station on Wednesday where a suspect with a gun was reportedly holding two hostages inside.

The California Highway Patrol was assisting Antioch police in the standoff.

One of the two hostages being held inside the Arco gas station at 2610 Contra Loma Blvd. was released at about 2:50 p.m. (5:50 p.m. ET). The other hostage was apparently still inside with the armed suspect, authorities said.

Police were continuing to negotiate with the suspect.

Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando said it started with a reported traffic collision at West 10th Street and Auto Center Drive. A male suspect seen running from the crash ran to a nearby business, where he carjacked a man, he said. According to Cantado, the suspect eventually resurfaced in Concord, where had stolen another vehicle.

Cantando said officers pursued the suspect's vehicle to the L Street off-ramp of Highway 4, where he crashed. The suspect then attempted to carjack a woman, but was deterred by CHP officers arriving on scene, he said.

A CHP officer did fire a single shot at the suspect after the suspect pointed a weapon, Cantando said. The suspect was able to run into the gas station in Antioch where he took a pair of hostages. It was not immediately clear whether the hostages worked at the gas station or if they were customers.

An employee of a nearby company said nearby businesses have been advised to stay indoors while police deal with a “possible abduction” next door. The employee declined to give her name.

The L Street off-ramp from Highway 4 was shut down, according to CHP.

Bay City News contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Train Delayed After Hitting Pedestrian]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 17:08:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/metro+north+pedestrian+struck+fairfield.jpg

The Metro-North New Haven Line is delayed after a train from Grand Central Terminal to New Haven struck and killed a man on the tracks just east of the Fairfield Metro station, according to police and the railroad.

Railroad officials said the collision happened around 3:40 p.m. Wednesday. The train had departed New York City at 2:04 p.m. and was due to arrive in New Haven at 4:06 p.m.

According to Fairfield police spokesman Lt. James Perez, a Metro-North conductor or engineer said the train had just departed the Fairfield Metro station when he spotted a person standing on the side of the tracks east of Black Rock Turnpike. The man jumped in front of the train and was struck.

A passenger on the train told NBC Connecticut he didn't feel or hear anything at the time of the crash.

Police have not identified the man but said he appears to be middle aged. Metro-North is handling the investigation into the crash.

Train service was temporarily suspended between Southport and Bridgeport as a result. Trains are back up and running, but the railroad is warning commuters to expect delays of up to 30 minutes.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.



Photo Credit: Fred Shepard]]>
<![CDATA[Pair Charged with Arson and Hate Crime]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 12:15:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/522458741.jpg

A homeless man and a teenager have been charged with a hate crime for allegedly torching a New York home.

The Journal News says 29-year-old Anner Grijalva-Esquival and a 16-year-old boy face arson charges after allegedly torching an abandoned home in Spring Valley on May 13.

Police say the two set fire to the home because of a dispute they had with several individuals. Investigators say they thought the individuals were squatting in the house when they torched it.

The home had been boarded up for years. Authorities say a man's decomposing body was later found there under a blanket and was unrelated to the arson. Investigators are still working on identifying him and determining his cause of death.

Authorities wouldn't say how the fire started.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lucky Day! $2,000 Tip on $93 Bill]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 13:12:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/20150526+Big+Tip.jpg

The staff at one D.C. restaurant received a big surprise this weekend -- a $2,000 tip on a $93 bill.

A customer at Blue 44 in Chevy Chase visited the restaurant on Monday to pick up a few quarts of gumbo, the staff said. When bartender Laura Dally told the regular his order would be free, he not only paid his bill, he left an extra $2,000.

The customer -- who asked not to be named -- scrawled out on the bill that he wanted the chef to have $1,000, Dally to get $500 and owner Chris Nardelli to get the remaining $500.

"We gave them a couple quarts of gumbo on the house after their meal, but never expected anything like this," Nardelli said in a statement.

Blue 44, at 5507 Connecticut Ave. NW, opened in April 2011.

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<![CDATA[Police Kill Man Holding 17-Month-Old Son Hostage: Authorities]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 11:57:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Middletown-Hostages-New.jpg

A SWAT team member shot and killed a 39-year-old man allegedly holding his 17-month-old son hostage at a home in central New Jersey overnight, authorities say.

Scott McAllister was fatally shot after a five-hour standoff at his home on Bayside Avenue in the East Keansburg section of Middletown, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office said. 

McAllister was killed hours after were called to the home after getting a 911 call about a domestic dispute inside the home, the attorney general's office said. 

The mother of McAllister's son was outside the home when officers arrived, and told them that the man was drunk and had beaten her. She added that the man, who was still inside the home, had a knife and was threatening to hurt the boy. 

A SWAT team and a hostage negotiator responded to the home and tried to get McAllister to surrender peacefully and turn over the child. 

When the negotiations failed, the SWAT team forced their way into the house. That's when authorities say one of the officers shot McAllister.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The infant, who was near his father, was not hurt in the standoff.

Nearby residents were evacuated from their homes during the standoff. One neighbor told NBC 4 New York the suspect worked on a fishing boat.

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<![CDATA[Photo of Cops, Black Man Sparks Ire]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 15:46:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cops+antler+photo+with+blur.jpg

A photo of two white Chicago police officers posing with rifles as they stand over a black man lying on his stomach with deer antlers on his head has sparked outrage.

The photo, showing Officers Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan, was published Tuesday by the Chicago Sun-Times. It was released in March by a Cook County, Illinois, judge and is believed to have been taken in a West Side police station between 1999 and 2003, the Sun-Times reports.

The Polaroid image was given to the police department in January of 2013 and immediately prompted an investigation that led to McDermott being fired in 2014, police said Wednesday.

McDermott was stripped of his police powers and charges were filed with the Police Board, which terminated him in October of 2014.

“This picture is disgusting," Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said in a statement issued to NBC Chicago, "and the despicable actions of these two former officers have no place in our police department or in our society."

McDermott has reportedly appealed to a dismissal court, but attorneys for the police department and McDermott asked that the photo be sealed earlier this year. The judge refused that request in March and the photo was recently obtained by the Sun-Times.

The other officer in the photo, Finnigan, is also the face of a scandal involving the Special Operations Section of the police department and is currently serving a 12-year sentence in a federal prison in Florida. He pleaded guilty to charges in a murder-for-hire scheme and income tax evasion, relating to money he stole as a police officer.

"As the Superintendent of this department, and as a resident of our city," McCarthy said, "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior, and that is why neither of these officers works for CPD today. I fired one of the officers, and would have fired the other if he hadn't already been fired by the time I found out about the picture, which is why I fired the officer involved as soon as I learned about photo. Our residents deserve better than this, as do the thousands of good men and women in this department.”

The man in the photo has not been identified.



Photo Credit: Chicago Sun-Times]]>
<![CDATA[Merriam-Webster Adds 1,700 Words, Including "Jeggings," "NSFW"]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 14:52:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/27167011.jpg

The Merriam-Webster unabridged dictionary has included new words that will have some people saying “WTF.”

The company announced Tuesday it has added 1,700 new terms, many of which are influenced by the internet and social media.

Such entries include meme, NSFW, emoji, clickbait, and photobomb.

Others refer to popular culture, such as jeggings, photobomb, twerk and vocal fry.

For a word to be included, it has to be “used in a substantial number of citations that come from a wide range of publications over a considerable period of time,” according to Merriam-Webster. “Specifically, the word must have enough citations to allow accurate judgments about its establishment, currency, and meaning.”

Here are some other new entries:

Net Neutrality (Noun)

Definition: the idea, principle or requirement that Internet service providers should or must treat all Internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source or destination.

Clickbait (Noun)

Definition: something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink, especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.

Sriracha (Noun)

Definition: a pungent sauce that is made from hot peppers pureed with usually garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar and that is typically used as a condiment.

Slendro (Noun)

Definition: a pentatonic tuning employed for Javanese gamelans that divides the octave into five roughly similar internals.

Dark Money (Noun)

Definition: money contributed to nonprofit organizations that is used to fund political campaigns without disclosure of the donors' identities.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Long Island Man Turns Over Nearly 6-Foot-Long Gator]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:01:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/alligator+long+island1.jpg

An American alligator that's nearly 6 feet long was turned over to animal caretakers on Long Island on Tuesday by its owner, the Suffolk County SPCA said.

"Rocky" the alligator was given to the SPCA by Andre Ricaud, who said that the reptile had grown too big for him to handle. Ricaud is licensed to possess the animal and used it to teach children as part of Party Pets of New York, which he founded in 1989.

Ricaud owned Rocky for 17 years and said he got the gator when he was about a foot long. But over time Rocky got bigger and bigger.

"I just felt it was time for him to go," Ricaud said in a YouTube video. "American alligators do not make good pets." 

The SPCA turned Rocky over to Michael Ralbovsky of the Rainforest Reptile Sanctuary in Massachusetts.

This isn't the first time an alligator showed up on Long Island. Sightings are pretty common, especially in the summertime. They're usually turned in by their owners or found roaming around near water.

A 3-foot-long pet alligator living in a home on Long Island was turned over to the SPCA in March. More than a dozen of the creatures were found on Long Island in 2013.

It is illegal to own an alligator in New York state without a license and people who keep the animals as pets could be fined.


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<![CDATA[Airline Calls in the Pizza Guy]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:31:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Delta+Plane+Pizza+Philly+Knoxville+Atlanta+Pizza+Delta.jpg

Call in the pizza guy!

That’s what the crew of a Delta flight from Philadelphia did after the Atlanta-bound aircraft landed in Knoxville, Tennessee instead Tuesday afternoon.

Bad weather in Atlanta caused the crew of Delta Flight 561, which took off from Philly just after 2 p.m., to land more than 200 miles from their destination.

The diverted flight landed in Knoxville around 3:50 p.m. As dinner time began to approach, the pilot announced to the passengers that they ordered pizza. A short time later dozens of pizza pies arrived.

“It’s part of a standing procedure at Delta to get food and beverages to delayed customers – whether it be a severe weather event that drove the diversion last night or a delay in airport due to an aircraft mechanical issue,” said Delta Air Lines spokesman Morgan Durrant.

The pizzas came from Marco's Pizza in Maryville, Tennessee. The pizza chain, which also has locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, delivered about 65 pizzas to the airport Tuesday.

The Philly flight, originally scheduled to last about two hours, finally took off from Knoxville around 6:15 p.m. and passengers, with bellies full of pizza, arrived in Atlanta just after 7 p.m.

The Philly flight wasn’t the only Atlanta-bound Delta plane forced to land in Knoxville that got pizza delivered Tuesday.

Wittenmyer was on an Atlanta-bound plane from California.

Vazquez, who was on a diverted flight from Denver, told NBC10 that the delivery “made everyone so much happier. When they announced they ordered pizza the plane erupted in cheer and applause.”

Delivering pizzas to diverted planes was a “team effort with the flight crew and our airport representatives,” said Durrant.

Delta even delivered pizza to passengers on an Atlanta-bound flight that wound up diverted to Columbia, South Carolina.

And, in case you were wondering, passengers had their choice between plain, pepperoni or supreme, according to passengers.



Photo Credit: Twitter - @BillyTheKidWit / Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rescuers Remove Blade From Wounded Sea Lion]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 14:42:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/5-26-15+Injured+Sea+Lion.JPG

Volunteers and a professional rescue team from SeaWorld came to the aid of a sea lion that appeared Saturday on a dock in Channel Islands Harbor with the handle of a bladed weapon protruding from his body.

"This animal would have died because of this impalement," said Keith Yip, curator of mammals at SeaWorld San Diego and leader of its rescue team.

The male sea lion, estimated to weigh 600 pounds or more, had been overnighting on an empty dock, then disappearing during the day. Concerned boaters and live-aboards in the harbor dubbed him Bubba and worried that he might not survive until rescuers could get him help.

Rescuers arrived early Tuesday morning, shortly after Bubba had disappeared again into the water, and they awaited his return. One search boat, the Captain Jax, patrolled the harbor the entire day without a sighting until just before 5:30 p.m., when Heidi Dinkler checked back at the spot near the end of dock B where the sea lion had been overnighting and found him swimming nearby. Dinkler, a retired Kern County Fire Battalion Chief, radioed the second rescue boat.

"He's back!" Dinkler said in lowered voice as not to startle the animal. Within minutes the sea lion perched itself atop the end of the dock.

NBC4 was riding with Dinkler at the time of the sighting, and remained in the Captain Jax for the duration of the mission, affording an up-close view of the rescue.

On the dock, the sea lion was darted twice with a tranquilizer, then dove into the water and resisted the efforts of rescuers to capture him for nearly two frustrating hours. With the effect of the tranquilizer starting to wear off, a third dart was fired and stuck, but still the sea lion was able to back out of a net every time it was placed over his head.

Team members were beginning to worry that they would have to postpone the effort on account of darkness when he was finally netted using an extra-long net provided by the Coast Guard. Harbor Patrol also assisted in spotting and herding the sea lion.

After Bubba was brought to shore, Yip and veterinarian Sam Dover, DVM, discovered the blade was so deeply embedded it had to be cut out with a scalpel.

"It angers me," said Yip as he held up the weapon. "You know, it's not right. There's no animal that deserves this kind of treatment."

"Clearly it was done intentionally," said Dover, founder of the Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI), which organized the rescue effort.

The blade was taken as evidence for follow up investigation. Harming a sea lion is a federal offense under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, enforced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA's office of investigation will attempt to determine how the sea lion was wounded, Martina Sagapolu, deputy special agent in charge, said.

Who stabbed the sea lion remains unknown. NOAA is encouraging anyone with information to call its hotline number, 800-853-1964.

Boaters were stunned and angry over the wound that was inflicted.

"I've seen him about three days ago, it was the first time it was here," said Kenny Knoll, who lives aboard a boat near the dock where Bubba appeared.

"But this was vicious, this was," Tony Raimondo said. "I think someone must have gashed the thing because when you look at that gash, it was continuous -- it didn't happen by accident."

Sometimes loud and aggressive -- even known to steal fish from a catch -- sea lions are not always popular in harbors.

Just last month, sport fisherman Dan Carlin was holding a fish for a photo while motoring back to dock in San Diego's Mission Bay when a sea lion leapt to snatch it from his grasp.

The sea lion bit Carlin's hand and pulled him down some 20 feet underwater before he broke free and escaped, he told interviewers.

In Channel Islands Harbor on New Year's Day, a fisherman who had been cutting bait on a dock was bitten in the leg by a sea lion and sent into the water. The same sea lion continued to loiter near the dock for another month and at one point he struck it with a pole to ward it off, the fisherman said. The fisherman identified himself as Jerry and his account of the January incident was corroborated by others in the harbor.

That sea lion had different coloration from the wounded one that was rescued Tuesday, Jerry said, and he expressed doubt they are the same animal.

From his dinghy, Knoll was able to follow the rescue until its conclusion. After Bubba was placed in a safety cage for transport to San Diego, Knoll was able to get a close look.

"Amazing!" he exclaimed, visibly relieved that the days of suspense were over.

Dover and Yip expressed confidence that after treatment, the sea lion will be able to return to the ocean.

Yip returned to SeaWorld with Bubba. Dover said planned to return to Santa Barbara to resume working with mammals oiled by last week's spill. Its draw on resources was a factor that kept volunteers from getting to the sea lion sooner, he said.



Photo Credit: Courtesy: NBC4 Viewer]]>
<![CDATA[Author of "To Die For" Appeals for Pamela Smart's Release]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 15:56:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SmartAndCamerasCropped.jpg

The author of “To Die For,” a novel inspired by Pamela Smart and the murder of her husband by her teenage lover, is asking the governor of New Hampshire to consider parole for the former school media coordinator.

Joyce Maynard, whose book was later turned into a movie starring Nicole Kidman, sent a letter to Gov. Maggie Hassan saying that she did not intend her work of fiction to shape the public perception of Smart.

Smart, portrayed during her trial as a 22-year-old femme fatale, was convicted in 1991 of conspiring in her husband’s killing and sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole.

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE LETTER]

If the film adaption of the book contributed to a public perception of Smart as a ruthlessly ambitious killer, that was not her intent, Maynard wrote.

“To whatever extent the existence of that film affected attitudes towards Pamela Smart over the years, I can only reiterate: Nicole Kidman did not play Pamela Smart in ‘To Die For,’” Maynard wrote. “That character was a creation of my imagination.”

Smart admitted to having an affair to then-15-year-old Billy Flynn when she was director of media services at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, New Hampshire. But she continues to deny that she lured him into a plot to kill her husband.

She is imprisoned at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York.

A recent HBO documentary, "Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart," raised doubts about whether her trial, the first to be televised from start to finish, was fair.

Hassan's spokesman, William Hinkle, said in a statement that there was no outstanding petition for a pardon or commutation of sentence for Pamela Smart.

“Governor Hassan does not believe jury verdicts should be overturned without clear evidence of a miscarriage of justice, and at this time, the governor has not been presented any new information that would warrant consideration of a pardon even if such a petition existed,” he said.

Four men admitted to participating in the plot to kill Gregg Smart.

Flynn pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and testified that he shot Smart after Pamela Smart threatened to break up with him if he did not.

Flynn and Patrick Randall, who held a knife to Gregg Smart’s throat, were paroled this year. Two other men were released after serving sentences.

Maynard, whose March letter to Hassan was just released to the media, noted that Smart had earned two advanced degrees while in prison and had helped other inmates. She appealed to Hassan to be compassionate.

“And to whatever extent Pamela Smart’s chances for a fair parole hearing may have been affected by my novel, I trust you will do what you can to rectify that situation by giving her the same second chance granted the others involved in that case,” she wrote.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[More Former Students Report Sexual Abuse at Horace Mann]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 10:50:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/horace+mann+sex+abuse+allegations.jpg

A new investigation into alleged sexual abuse at an elite New York City private school has found that the abuse was more widespread than previously reported.

The Wall Street Journal reports the investigation into the Horace Mann School identified more than 60 former students who say they were abused from the 1960s through the 1990s. The report was compiled by a nonprofit group founded by alumni to address the scandal.

The new number of alleged victims is more than double the 25 cited in a 2013 report by the Bronx district attorney's office.

Horace Mann said in a statement Tuesday it would review the report to determine whether it contains any suggestions that would further strengthen child safety. The school previously announced a number of settlements with former students.
 

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<![CDATA[Emergency Management Official Fined for Abusing Power During Sandy]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 11:54:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/steven-kuhr-sized1.jpg

A former state emergency management official has been fined $4,000 for diverting crisis recovery workers to remove a fallen tree from his driveway during the response to widespread Sandy devastation.

The state Joint Commission on Public Ethics announced the fine Tuesday against Steven Kuhr, former deputy commissioner of the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, which encompasses the Office of Emergency Management.

The ethics commission says Kuhr admitted in a settlement that he violated state ethics law prohibiting the use of his official position to secure unwarranted privileges for himself. Kuhr was dismissed from state service after the October 2012 incident.

The settlement follows an investigation into Kuhr's actions by the Office of the New York State Inspector General.
 

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<![CDATA[Rick Santorum Announces 2nd White House Run]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 17:44:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP426424332129.jpg

Rick Santorum, an aggressive advocate for conservative family values, will launch a second bid for president on Wednesday, a spokesman said.

The former Pennsylvania senator exceeded the political world's expectations by scoring a second-place finish in the race for the Republican presidential nomination four years ago. Yet as he competes again, he may struggle even to qualify for the debate stage in 2016.

The 57-year-old Republican will deliver his announcement at a factory near his western Pennsylvania hometown, according to spokesman Matt Beynon.

Santorum will be surrounded by factory workers at the event, a carefully scripted setting designed to showcase his focus on the working class. A major player in 2012, he opens this political season almost as a heavy underdog in a race expected to feature more than a dozen high-profile Republicans — most of them newcomers to presidential politics.

Santorum says his experience could pay dividends the second time around. Most of the GOP's recent presidential nominees, Mitt Romney and President Ronald Reagan among them, needed more than one campaign to win the nomination.

"This is a long process," Santorum told reporters recently. "One of the things that I feel very comfortable with — I've been through this process before." He said it's a "completely wide open race."

The prospective Republican field already includes four sitting senators, four governors, four former governors, two business leaders and a retired neurosurgeon.

Santorum won 11 states in the last presidential primary contest, yet his early longshot status may keep him out of presidential debates altogether.

Only those who place in the top 10 of national polls will be allowed to participate in the first Republican presidential debate in August, according to guidelines released by network host Fox News. Santorum and fellow 2012 candidate, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, are among those on the bubble.

Much of Santorum's past success was tied to his performance in Iowa, where he scored a narrow victory over Romney in the nation's first presidential nominating contest. Facing little competition for the state's influential evangelical vote, Santorum impressed voters by touring Iowa's 99 counties in a pickup truck.

Iowa will continue to be a focus in 2016, according to Beynon, who said Santorum's rollout tour would begin in Iowa on Thursday and Friday and move to South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday.

His road to relevancy this time won't be easy, however.

"It's going to be much more competitive," said Foster Friess, a prominent Santorum donor who will attend Wednesday's announcement.

Santorum faces considerable competition for his party's social conservatives. The list of candidates already courting religious voters includes former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist pastor who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. And like Santorum, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is a Catholic.

Questions remain about Santorum's ability to raise money as well.

Expressing confidence, Beynon said Santorum would benefit from a donor network that has only grown in the years since his first run.

"He would anticipate having more money," Beynon said. "That was certainly a factor in his decision."

And Friess, who previously gave more than $2 million to a pro-Santorum super PAC in 2012, said he would continue to support Santorum's White House ambitions, although he plans to avoid donating large amounts directly to the campaign or a supportive super PAC, both of which would disclose their donors.

"Any giving I'm doing is going to be lower-profile and less noticed," Friess told The Associated Press.

On the ground in early-voting states like Iowa and South Carolina, Santorum starts off as well-known among voters and activists. But a new crop of Republican competitors like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been aggressively touring the states in recent weeks as well. And some voters prefer a fresh face in an election season expected to feature Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Democratic side.

"The electorate is so unpredictable, I wouldn't make a betting guess for him or against him," Iowa National Republican committeeman Steve Scheffler said of Santorum. "But he's got a lot of work to do — like the others."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kitten Escapes Hawk Attack]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:12:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/5-26-15-Kitten+Hawk+Rescue.jpg

A little white kitten narrowly missed having to dig into her nine lives on Tuesday after escaping the mouth of a hawk in a Southern California neighborhood.

The kitten's ordeal was already underway in Jurupa Valley when Lindsey Gage saw a large hawk perched on top of a neighbor's basketball hoop on Mountain Shadow Drive, Riverside County Animal Services spokesman John Welsh said.

Gage was in her car with her 6-year-old daughter about to leave for the grocery store when she noticed something inside the hawk's mouth: a white kitten.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing," Gage said. "At first I thought it was a rare occurrence just to see a hawk that close, let alone a baby kitten in its mouth."

The hawk took off and flew down the street, but it lost its grasp on the 5-week-old female kitten and dropped the feline from the sky, Welsh said.

A man watching nearby saw where the kitten landed and pointed Gage in its direction, where she scooped up the baby animal and took her to the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley.

The kitten has a wound on its chest, but it doesn't appear to be life-threatening, Welsh said.

Shelter officials said there is no timetable on when the kitten could be put up for adoption, because she is very young and possibly must be bottle-fed. The kitten will likely go through rehabilitation before the shelter makes any final decisions, officials said.



Photo Credit: Riverside County Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[Missing Girl Safe, Uncle Killed ]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 11:37:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/caitlyn-uncle.jpg

A missing 9-year-old Benbrook, Texas, girl abducted by her uncle is safe in Bossier City, Louisiana, Benbrook police say, after her uncle was killed in a struggle with an FBI Task Force officer Tuesday afternoon.

An Amber Alert for Caitlyn Elizabeth Williams was issued early Tuesday morning after officials said she was believed to have been taken by her uncle, 24-year-old Jessie Nicholas Williams, of Arlington, last Friday. Family members reached out to the man but said he had been unresponsive, which they said was unusual.

Benbrook Police Officer Sandy Eubanks said a tip led law enforcement to a motel room where the girl's uncle was killed during a struggle with law enforcement.

"The Amber Alert that was issued resulted in numerous tips that led officers to a motel room in Bossier City, Louisiana," Eubanks said. "Just a little bit earlier, the FBI attempted to take the suspect into custody. An FBI Task Force officer was shot and wounded and the suspect was killed. The child was safely recovered."

The wounded officer, whose name has not been released, was shot in the leg and is expected to recover. Police were not able to comment on the condition of the girl, but they said she is expected to be reunited with her parents in North Texas soon.

"Since they said she's safely recovered, I presume she's uninjured," Eubanks said.

Police have not released any motive or further details about the girl's abduction.

Caitlyn Reported Missing; Uncle Believed to be Involved

Police told NBC 5 they believe Jessie took Caitlyn Friday. She was believed to be headed to a friend's house for the weekend, but, police said she never showed up.

Caitlyn and Jessie were spotted twice over the weekend, once at a hotel on Alta Mesa Boulevard at Interstate 35W and later at a hair salon on Bryant Irvin Road. After being spotted at the hair salon, police said Caitlyn's appearance could have been altered.

"She was described as having long wavy brown hair, we have reason to believe that her hair may have been cut short to alter her appearance," said Benbrook Police Officer Sandy Eubanks.

Police began looking into the girl's disappearance after her parents called and reported her missing Monday. According to police, the girl's parents expected her to return home from her friend's house on Sunday. When she hadn't returned Monday, they called police.

"She was supposed to return Sunday, and when she didn't, they decided to wait, because the weather was bad," said Eubanks.

Investigators learned Caitlyn never arrived at the friend's home and that she had been spotted with her uncle at two locations. Attempts by family members to reach Jessie Williams have been unsuccessful.

"Because the other family members can't contact him, obviously that elevates the level of concern we have for the child," said Eubanks.

Police originally said an Amber Alert had not been issued because there was not a specific suspect or vehicle that could be described, but armed with new information Tuesday morning the Amber Alert was issued for Caitlyn and her uncle.

A rental car believed to have been used by the uncle was recovered, police said.

Family Urges Uncle to Return With Missing Girl

Caitlyn's great grandmother, Linda Bullard, spoke to NBC 5's Jeff Smith and made a plea for Caitlyn's safe return.

"Jessie, please, you know Caitlyn needs to be at home, she needs to be in school, she needs to be with her friends and her mom and her dad and me. Please bring her home," Bullard said.

Police said they spoke to Caitlyn's parents, her neighbors, friends and relatives in an effort to find her. Neighbors told NBC 5's Jeff Smith that FBI agents canvassed the neighborhood along Wade Hampton Street Monday night. They said the two agents knocked on doors and asked to come inside and look around.

Neighbors said the agents asked a lot of questions about Caitlyn, her great grandmother and how often she rode her bike alone in the neighborhood. They also asked if neighbors recognized her uncle.

"The family has only been in this area for a short period of time. And we haven't had any prior calls; there's no call history with regard to the address that they live. So the information’s very limited," said Eubanks.

NBC 5's Ray Villeda, Ellen Bryan, Amanda Guerra, Jeff Smith and Frank Heinz contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Prosecutors Oppose Moving Menendez Case to D.C.]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 11:23:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-bob-menendez-a-corte.jpg

Federal prosecutors are opposed to moving U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez's corruption case from New Jersey to Washington.

Attorneys for Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen had filed the request this month, arguing virtually none of the 22 counts they're charged with occurred in the state.

In court documents filed Tuesday, prosecutors said Menendez ignores allegations he accepted numerous things of value in New Jersey. They also said his lawyers are based in New York, less than 15 miles from the federal courthouse in Newark, and not in the District of Columbia.

The New Jersey Democrat is charged with accepting gifts and donations totaling about $1 million from the Florida ophthalmologist in exchange for political favors. The gifts included flights aboard a luxury jet and a Paris vacation.

Menendez has said he accepted gifts from Melgen because the two have been close friends for years.

Defense lawyers argued the government began the investigation and grand jury presentation in Florida before moving the case to the state.

The basis for trying the case in New Jersey "appears to be radio communications from the pilot of a plane in New Jersey airspace on which Senator Menendez was a passenger," the defense brief states. "Needless to say, the pilot's cabin and the airport control tower were not the 'nerve center' of the conspiracy alleged in the indictment."

The brief claims the location of the defendants and possible witnesses, the expense to the parties and the location of attorneys and the fact that events at issue took place in Washington are compelling reasons to move the case from New Jersey.

Prosecutors said New Jersey is just as accessible to Florida as it is to D.C.

Melgen has been charged in a separate 76-count indictment in Florida alleging he made false diagnoses and performed unnecessary surgeries that he then billed to Medicare.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Victim Knocked Out, Robbed of $1]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 16:05:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Southeast+DC+Stron-Arm+Robbery+051725.jpg

D.C. police are looking for a man who knocked a 63-year-old man out with one punch in an apparent robbery May 17 in Southeast.

About 5:45 p.m. that Sunday, a man in a red shirt exchanged words with the victim in the 2900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.

WARNING: Some may find the surveillance video below disturbing.

Surveillance video from nearby Petey Greene Community Center shows the man in a red shirt punch the 63-year-old victim, dropping him to the ground. He stepped away from the motionless victim before returning, bending over him, and apparently going through his pockets and taking a dollar.

Several other people seen in the video did nothing to intervene or assist the victim.

Anyone with information about the case should call police at 202-727-9099 or by texting the tip to 50411.



Photo Credit: Metropolitan Police Department
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<![CDATA[Baby Found Critically Injured at AC Casino]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 07:27:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Baby-Ballys-Casino-Injured.jpg

A police investigation is underway after a newborn baby was found critically injured at an Atlantic City casino on Memorial Day.

An EMS dispatch reporting a 2-month-old child in respiratory distress was made shortly after 7:30 p.m. Monday night for the Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.

When crews arrived they found an injured infant who had been born prematurely, according to investigators. The baby was first taken to the Atlanticare Regional Medical Center and then airlifted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The child was listed in critical condition Tuesday night.

Police, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency are all investigating the incident.

No arrests have been made.
 

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<![CDATA[4 Men Sought in Violent Bronx Robbery: Police]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 04:26:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bx+apt+building+robbery.jpg

Police are looking for four men in a violent robbery at a Bronx building last week.

Police say three men entered an apartment building in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx on May 18 at about 8:20 p.m. and approached a man and a woman, police said. They allegedly struck the 37-year-old man in the head with a gun and grabbed the woman, also 37, in an attempt to muffle her screams.

The suspects took the man’s money and cell phone and fled the scene in a dark blue Dodge Caravan with a fourth male suspect who had been acting as a lookout, police said.

Police released surveillance video of one of the suspects and another man who was inside the building hours before the robbery and is wanted for questioning. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. 



Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Man Chokes, Robs Sleeping Women in Brooklyn: NYPD]]> Tue, 26 May 2015 23:31:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/robber+sleeping+woman.JPG

Police have arrested a man they believe broke into at least one sleeping woman's home in Brooklyn to steal valuables and officials say he may be connected to three other similar robberies.

The four reported robberies in Bedford-Stuyvesant happened over the past month, beginning Wednesday, May 6, when a suspect got in through an unlocked door just after 4:30 a.m. and grabbed a 27-year-old woman's neck as she slept, according to police. When she woke up, he fled with $100.

At about 7 a.m. the same morning, a suspect entered another home through an unlocked front door, and a 25-year-old woman woke up in time to see the suspect running off with $270 and a debit card, police said.

On Wednesday, May 13, at about 2:30 a.m., a suspect went into a home through an open window, and when the 28-year-old victim woke up while he was taking her purse, the suspect grabbed her throat and told her to be quiet, police said. He dropped the purse and ran away.

On Sunday, May 24, at about 9 p.m., a 23-year-old woman returned to her apartment to find the suspect inside. He ran out through a back window with the victim's electronics and property totaling about $2,500.

Jeffrey Robinson, 39, was arrested Tuesday in connection with a May 24th robbery, police said. Police were investigating whether he is connected to the three previous robberies.

Robinson was charged with criminal possession of stolen property, possession of burglar’s tools, assault and criminal mischief. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Surveillance video from the May 13 incident has been released by police.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

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<![CDATA[Car Flies into NYC Supermarket, 5 Hurt: Officials]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 06:15:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/CF90vToXIAAz04j.jpg

A car barreled into a supermarket in the Flushing section of Queens Tuesday evening, injuring five people, one of them seriously, authorities say.

Authorities say an out-of-control white Mercedes SUV driven by a 72-year-old woman flew out of the parking lot and into the packed Pathmark supermarket on Farrington Street just before 6:30 p.m., right into the produce section.

Witnesses said they heard what sounded like an explosion before they realized a car had crashed into the store.

"Sounded nothing like a car,"  said shopper Albert Graziosa. "I thought it was over, thought the whole place was going to explode."

Another witness said, "I saw it, then I heard it. Windows came out."

She said she narrowly missed being hit by the car. 

"If I hadn't stopped to talked to someone I knew, I would have been walking the car came through," she said.

Juan Maldonado of the city's Office of Emergency Management said at the scene that the injured people were taken to the hospital.

The city has issued a vacate order for the building as a precaution, but OEM officials said the supermarket is in no apparent risk of further damage or collapse. 

The driver was taken to Booth Memorial Hospital for treatment, but showed no signs of injuries.

A cause of the crash wasn't immediately clear. 

-- Gus Rosendale and Tracie Strahan contributed to this report



Photo Credit: @NYPD109Pct/Twitter
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<![CDATA[Prophet Muhammad Ad on D.C. Metro?]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 11:38:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Generic+Metro+722+x+406.jpg

The group behind a provocative contest for cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that led to a deadly shooting in Texas earlier this month has submitted the winning image to run as an advertisement on Washington, D.C., public transportation.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a conservative group behind some controversial ad campaigns, wants to plaster the image of the Prophet Muhammad on the side of Metrobuses and in train stations.

Pamela Geller, founder of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, submitted the the winning cartoon from the “Draw Muhammad” event to the Washington, D.C., Transit Authority.

"There is nothing about this cartoon that incites violence. It is within the established American tradition of satire. If America surrenders on this point, the freedom of speech is a relic of history,” Geller said.

Metro riders News4 spoke with had mixed opinions about the idea.

"I know it is a First Amendment issue, but I also know pictures of the Prophet Muhammad are considered disrespectful to Muslims,” one rider said.

"The First Amendment is absolute,” another said.

"We are aware that an ad has been submitted,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said in a statement. “It is going through a review process and has not yet been approved for our system."

The American Freedom Defense Initiative has run controversial ads on subways and buses in other cities across the country as well — among them Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco. In 2012, they were able to get another poster deemed offensive to Muslims on D.C.’s Metro.

Geller and the group were in the news recently, when the nation's largest mass transit system voted to ban all political ads on New York City subways and buses, following the group's legal battle to display "Hamas Killing Jews" ads on buses.

The AFDI is listed as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Fatally Stabbed Mom's Boyfriend in Head: Police]]> Wed, 27 May 2015 08:09:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/handcuffs-generic-on-black.jpg+20+may.jpg

A woman is facing murder charges after police say her boyfriend was fatally stabbed in the head Sunday in Brooklyn.

Burnette Singleton, 34, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of 54-year-old Russell Holdip, who police say is Singleton's mother's boyfriend.

Holdip was stabbed at about 1:30 p.m. inside an apartment on Grant Avenue in East New York, police said. Holdip lived in the building.

He was taken to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

It was not immediately clear if Singleton had an attorney.  

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