Plan in motion for OJ Simpson release as soon as Monday

Published: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 @ 2:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 @ 2:44 PM

O.J. Simpson could be released on parole as soon as Monday in Las Vegas under a plan being finalized by Nevada officials, a prison spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The process culminating in freedom for the former football player, actor and TV pitchman is in motion, but must be approved and documents must be signed, state Department of Corrections spokeswoman Brooke Keast said.

Meanwhile, the 70-year-old Simpson remains at Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada awaiting transfer to High Desert State Prison outside Las Vegas, where he would be freed, Keast said.

Simpson's release is expected after nine years behind bars for his 2008 armed robbery and kidnapping convictions following a confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room.

He was sentenced to up to 33 years, but won parole in July due to good behavior and other credits earned in custody.

A state parole board set Sunday, Oct. 1, as the date Simpson becomes eligible for parole. Once released, he will be supervised by the state Division of Parole and Probation until Sept. 29, 2022.

His release could come on the first business day after Oct. 1 because state probation officials don't handle releases on weekends, said Keast, who said she intends to provide video to the public of the release.

"We've been trying to keep things as normal as possible," she said.

High Desert State Prison is located in Indian Springs, about 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas. It is the main processing center for inmates from southern Nevada.

A close Simpson friend, Tom Scotto, said Simpson is scheduled to be released "shortly after" Oct. 1. Scotto cast doubt on the Monday release date, saying officials were keeping plans secret.

Scotto has offered to have Simpson live with him in Naples, Florida. Such a move would require an agreement between parole departments in Nevada and Florida.

Florida has not received any transfer paperwork from Nevada, said Ashley Cook, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections.

Nevada Parole and Probation Capt. Shawn Arruti, who is involved in Simpson's release, declined to comment.

Malcolm LaVergne, Simpson's lawyer in Las Vegas, didn't respond to questions about a release plan.

Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of murder charges in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

He was found liable for the killings in civil court two years later and ordered to pay the victims' families $33.5 million.

David Cook, attorney for the Goldman family, said Wednesday the judgment amount has nearly doubled with interest over the years to more than $65 million. He said the family will continue to seek payment.

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Anthony Borges took bullets for classmates in Parkland school shooting

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 11:46 PM

People visit a makeshift memorial setup in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
People visit a makeshift memorial setup in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Anthony Borges is a hero, who put himself in the line of fire to protect his classmates when a gunman rampaged through their Parkland, Florida, school.

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Borges’ father and a friend who survived the massacre told ABC News that the 15-year-old Borges put the lives of others before his own.

“None of us knew what to do. So, he took the initiative to just save his other classmates,” Carlos Rodriguez, Borges’ best friend, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

A soccer player at the school, Borges placed his body between the gunman and the students. Rodriguez said that he survived the shooting because of Borges’ brave actions.

When gunfire broke out at the school Wednesday, Rodriguez said that Borges and his classmates rushed to hide in a classroom. The gunman was firing randomly at students as he closed in on their position in the building.

>> Related: Florida gun owner surrenders assault rifle after Parkland high school massacre

Rodriguez said that Borges was the last of 20 students to enter the classroom to take cover and that, as he attempted to lock the door, he was shot. He held his ground, keeping his body between the gunman and the other students, all of whom survived without injury.

Borges took five bullets to the back and both legs but survived, his father, Royer Borges, told police.

He told “Good Morning America” that his son called him moments after the attack and described what had happened.

>> Related: NY state troopers fly friend of school massacre victim to Florida for funeral

“He just called me and says, ‘Dad, somebody shot me in the back and my leg, too,'” said Royer Borges, unable to hold back his tears.

The father said others who were inside the building with the gunman shared stories of his son’s courageous actions that might have saved the lives of other students. Royer Borges expressed pride in his son, saying, “He’s my hero.”

Anthony Borges is in stable condition after undergoing hours of surgery, his father said.

“I only ask that people pray for him,” Royer Borges said.

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President Donald Trump endorses Mitt Romney in Utah Senate race

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 11:24 PM

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
George Frey/Getty Images
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)(George Frey/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has apparently endorsed one-time adversary and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney as Romney runs for Senate in Utah to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch, who is retiring.

Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in Congress, announced his retirement in January. That left room for Romney to take the front-runner’s spot in the race for Senate; Romney announced his candidacy for Utah’s Senate seat on Friday February 16, choosing to delay his announcement for 24 hours “out of respect for the shooting victims and their families in Parkland, Florida.”

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Romney’s announcement video promised to bring “Utah values” to Washington D.C., boasting that “on Utah’s capitol hill, people treat one another with respect.” Those close to Romney say as senator he is less interested in direct combat with President Donald Trump than he once was and more interested in promoting Utah — though the man grew up in Michigan and has deepest political ties to Massachusetts.

In a tweet of thanks to Trump, Romney swiftly pivoted to Utah voters.

The tweets — and support — makes odd bedfellows of Trump and Romney, who have a long record of openly criticizing each other.

President Donald Trump has blasted Romney for losing the 2012 election to then-President Barack Obama, saying he “had his chance to beat a failed president but he choked like a dog.” Trump has also called Romney “one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics” and a “dope.”

In a 2016 speech, Romney hammered Trump for a litany of abuses, calling him a “phony” and a “fraud.” He also jumped on Trump for his comments in the wake of the weekend of bloody race-fueled violence in Charlottesville and his endorsement of Roy Moore in the Alabama special election.

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Trolls on Twitter make false claims of being assaulted at screenings of ‘Black Panther’

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 4:07 PM

Marvel's "Black Panther" Has Record Breaking Opening Weekend

As Marvel’s latest superhero movie, “Black Panther,” draws praise and rakes in millions of dollars at the box office, Twitter trolls have emerged across the country attempting to stoke racial division by spreading false reports about the film’s largely African American fans.

Over the last few days, users have posted false claims that they were attacked by blacks while going to see “Black Panther,” the first movie from Marvel Studios led by a predominantly black cast.

“It’s very unfortunate that a film that is poised to become a cultural icon is being marred by this fake news,” said Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences at UCLA. “In the long run, it will not detract from the cultural significance of ‘Black Panther,’ but it does blunt some of the positive force it has as it opens. It is both surprising and not surprising.”

>> Chadwick Boseman says he drove past KKK rallies while filming 'Black Panther'

“Black Panther” is the story of T’Challa, played by actor Chadwick Boseman, who returns home to Wakanda, an isolated, technologically advanced African nation, after his father, the king of Wakanda, dies and T’Challa must take his place as ruler.

The movie, which took in an estimated $192 million over the weekend domestically — making it the highest February film debut ever — has been especially embraced by African Americans and blacks around the world. Many have been turning up at moviehouses in African garb or wearing all black in homage to the film. But the movie has given birth to an unusual movement — whites claiming they have been attacked by blacks while attempting to see the film.

Public information officers for police departments in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston contacted by The Times said they had received no reports that would match the assault claims appearing online.

>> Is the MoviePass subscription service worth it? Here's everything you need to know

In the tweets, the posters frequently blame “black youth” for the attacks, using images taken from various unrelated sources of bleeding and battered faces or images of blood in sinks and on towels.

“I was so excited to see #BlackPanther and a young black man at the theater shouted ‘you in the wrong place, cracker!’ And proceeded to bloody my face. It hurts so bad I can’t take it!” Twitter user @RobloxZionist wrote.

The image that accompanies the tweet is of actor Jensen Ackles, who plays Dean Winchester on the TV series “Supernatural,” with makeup and fake blood on his face from a fight scene filmed on the show.

A user named @sharkwheat attempted to claim that a photo of a man beaten outside a Dallas nightclub in 2013 was of his brother after being assaulted while seeing “Black Panther.”

“#BlackPanther this is my older brother Kenan. He was jumped just trying to see the movie. ‘This movie ain’t for you whitey’ was the last thing he heard before he was beat up by 2 black men, rupturing his eardrum. He didn’t even make it inside of the movie theater. Smh,” the tweet read.

>> ‘Black Panther’ actor Bambadjan Bamba comes out as undocumented

One user even pulled the image that Colbie Holderness, an ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, shared when she wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about the abuse she faced from Porter. The user claimed the photo of Holderness was an image of his wife after she was attacked when they went to see “Black Panther.”

Other Twitter users have been quick to call out trolls, noting where their images originally came from.

UCLA’s Hunt, a race, culture and media scholar, noted that the trolls’ posts were somewhat predictable, given the current political climate in the United States.

“We live in very polarized times,” he said. “There have been rumblings on message boards about white superheroes being reimagined as black superheroes. There is clearly concern from those who are worried about the changing demographics of the country.”

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Family who took in Nikolas Cruz: 'We just didn't know'

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 1:25 PM

WATCH: Suspected Florida High School Shooter Nikolas Cruz Appears In Court

The family that took in suspected school shooter Nikolas Cruz after his adoptive mother died suddenly last year said that, although the 19-year-old was troubled, it was unaware of any red flags to hint beforehand that he planned to carry out last week’s deadly attack.

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Cruz opened fire Wednesday on students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in what police believe was a preplanned attack, authorities said last week. The shooting left 14 students and three teachers dead. More than a dozen other people were injured.

“We knew he had troubles and a couple of issues, but I’ve raised three boys, and I thought we could help,” James Snead told The New York Times on Sunday. “It’s a very selfish thing he did -- aside from the families he hurt, he hurt the family that tried to help him and give him a chance.”

>> Related: Florida school shooting: What we know about the victims

James Snead and his wife, Kimberly Snead, told the Times that they took in Cruz after their son, who knew Cruz from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, asked if he could move in with them. Cruz had been staying with a friend of his mother’s after she died Nov. 1 of pneumonia, according to the Times.

“We didn’t know he had such an evil past,” James Snead told the Times. “We just didn’t know.”

>> Related: FBI didn't investigate tip about Nikolas Cruz before deadly school shooting

School records obtained by WPLG showed Cruz had a lengthy disciplinary record beginning in 2012, when he was in middle school. He faced disciplinary action five times while attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High from January 2016 to February 2017, WPLG reported.

School administrators in January 2017 recommended a threat assessment be done for Cruz after an alleged assault, according to WPLG. Details on that incident were not immediately available, although James Snead told the Times that Cruz had to leave school because of fighting.

>> Related: Classmate of Nikolas Cruz says ‘No one has ever been a friend to him’

The Sneads said Cruz was struggling with depression stemming from his mother’s death but that he appeared to be doing better, according to the Times. The couple had planned to have him see a counselor this week.

They said in an appearance on “Good Morning America” that they saw Cruz at the police station Wednesday when he was brought in after his arrest.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where he allegedly killed 17 people, is seen on a closed circuit television screen during a bond hearing in front of Broward Judge Kim Mollica at the Broward County Courthouse on February 15, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Cruz is possibly facing 17 counts of premeditated murder in the school shooting. (Photo by Susan Stocker - Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

“I went after him,” Kimberly Snead said. “I wanted to strangle him more than anything.”

She said she yelled, “Really, Nik? Really?” Cruz mumbled something in response.

“He said he was sorry,” Kimberly Snead told “Good Morning America.” “I was furious. Heartbroken. Devastated. I still can’t process it, what he’s done. This wasn’t the person we knew. Not at all.”

>> Related: Florida school shooting: Teacher of the year's emotional Facebook post goes viral

James Snead said the family has gone through “a roller coaster of emotions” since learning of Cruz’s alleged role in Wednesday’s massacre.

"It's still tough. We're still hurting. We're still grieving," he said on “Good Morning America.” "Everything everybody seems to know, we didn't know.”

FBI officials said they investigated a comment made last year on YouTube by a user who was going by the name “Nikolas Cruz.”

“The comment simply said, ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter,’” Rob Lasky, the FBI special agent in charge of the agency’s Miami division, said Thursday. Authorities were unable to verify the identity of the poster.

FBI officials also admitted last week that the agency failed to properly forward a tip about Cruz wanting to kill people to agents in Miami, prompting Gov. Rick Scott to call for the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray. The FBI is investigating the incident.

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