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   SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman is once again a free man after an arrest on criminal charges — but his freedom carries conditions.

   The former neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin earlier this year was released from jail Tuesday pending arraignment on the latest charges against him: aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief.

   Zimmerman was released on the condition that he wear an electronic monitor, keep his distance from guns, and stay away from the girlfriend who accused him of trying to choke her and then a week later pointing a shotgun at her. His bond was set at $9,000.

   Zimmerman's arrest is the latest of several brushes he has had with the law following his acquittal in Martin's death, a case that drew worldwide attention as it sparked nationwide debates about race and self-defense laws.

   The choking accusation was disclosed for the first time by a prosecutor at Zimmerman's first appearance Tuesday before a judge. Zimmerman's girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, feared for her life because Zimmerman mentioned suicide and said he "had nothing to lose," according to Assistant State Attorney Lymary Munoz.

   After the hearing, Zimmerman's public defenders said he did not appear to be suicidal and expressed confidence he would be acquitted of any wrongdoing.

   "He doesn't appear to be a danger to himself or a danger to anybody else," said public defender Daniel Megaro.

   Zimmerman, 30, wore gray jail garments and handcuffs during the hearing and spoke only when answering yes or no to the judge.

   Judge Frederic Schott ordered him to stay away from Scheibe's house, wear a monitoring device and refrain from contact with her. He was forbidden from possessing guns or ammunition or traveling outside Florida.

   Zimmerman has been charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He also has been charged with battery and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors. An arraignment was set for Jan. 7.

   Judge Schott said Zimmerman's previous brushes with the law were not a factor in the conditions he imposed, but he did cite the new allegation of choking as a reason for the bond amount.

   Earlier this year, Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the February 2012 fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin. The Justice Department has been investigating whether to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman related to that case. A department spokesman said Tuesday that it would announce its decision soon.

   Zimmerman revealed in an affidavit for hiring public defenders that he has at least $2 million in debts and no income. He said he had less than $150 in cash on hand.

   Public defender Jeff Dowdy said Zimmerman's family has been supporting him financially.

   "I would think it would be difficult for George Zimmerman to get a job in central Florida," he said.

   Zimmerman has previously used a website to raise money for his legal and living expenses, including $95,000 spent on bail in the Trayvon Martin case. The site also says tens of thousands of dollars were spent on living expenses and security.

   In this latest scuffle, both Zimmerman and his girlfriend called 911 Monday and provided dueling descriptions to dispatchers about the argument at the home she rented where Zimmerman was also staying.

   Scheibe accused him in the emergency call of pointing a gun at her, smashing a coffee table and then pushing her outside. Zimmerman also called dispatchers, denied pointing a gun at her and blamed her for the broken table.

   The girlfriend told deputies the ordeal started with a verbal argument and that she asked Zimmerman to leave the house. Her account in the arrest report says he began packing his belongings, including a shotgun and an assault rifle. She says she began putting his things in the living room and outside the house, and he became upset.

   At that point, the report said, he took the shotgun out of its case.

   Zimmerman told his girlfriend to leave and smashed a pair of her sunglasses as she walked toward the front door, the report said. Scheibe told deputies he pushed her out of the house when she got close to the door.

   In his call to 911, Zimmerman said he never pulled a gun on his girlfriend and that it was she who smashed a table. He also told the dispatcher that Scheibe was pregnant with their child and that she had decided she would raise the child on her own. When Zimmerman started to leave, "she got mad," he said.

   Seminole County Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma said at a news conference that Scheibe was not pregnant. He also said Zimmerman was compliant and unarmed when deputies came to the house.

   On Tuesday, Dowdy said he could not confirm whether the girlfriend was pregnant.

   The arrest Monday was the latest legal problem for Zimmerman since he was acquitted last summer of criminal charges in the fatal shooting of Martin. Zimmerman has said he shot the 17-year-old to defend himself during a fight in February 2012 inside a gated community in Sanford, just outside Orlando.

   Relatives of Martin accused Zimmerman of racially profiling the teen and instigating a fight. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

   In September, just two months after his acquittal, Zimmerman was accused by his estranged wife of smashing an iPad during an argument at the home they had shared. Shellie Zimmerman initially told a dispatcher her husband had a gun, though she later said he was not armed.

   No charges were ever filed because of a lack of evidence. The dispute occurred days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers. George Zimmerman was served the papers while in custody on the latest charges, said Shellie Zimmerman's lawyer, Kelly Sims.

   In 2005, he had to take anger-management courses after he was accused of attacking an undercover officer who was trying to arrest Zimmerman's friend.

   Later that year, Zimmerman's former fiancee filed for a restraining order against him, alleging domestic violence. Zimmerman responded by requesting a restraining order against her. Both requests were granted, and no criminal charges were filed.

   Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has also been pulled over three times for traffic stops.

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   ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — In a closely watched, first-of-its kind municipal election, voters in New Mexico's largest city have soundly defeated a ban on late-term abortions.

   Voters on Tuesday rejected the measure 55 percent to 45 percent following an emotional and graphic campaign that brought in national groups and hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising. The campaign included protests that compared abortion to the Holocaust and displayed pictures of aborted fetuses.

   A coalition of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and Planned Parenthood, called the results a huge victory for Albuquerque women and families.

   "Albuquerque families sent a powerful message today_they do not want the government interfering in their private medical decisions," Micaela Cadena with the Respect ABQ Women campaign said in a statement. "Dangerous, unconstitutional laws like the one we rejected today have no place in Albuquerque, no place in New Mexico, no place anywhere in our nation."

   NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said, "We hope today's resounding defeat of this abortion ban sends a clear message to the extreme forces around the country now trying to impose their agenda on cities around this country. "

   Activists on both sides of the issue said it was the first municipal ballot measure on the matter, which usually is debated at the state and federal level. Abortion opponents had hoped that a victory in Albuquerque would create momentum in their long-running fight to ban abortion.

   Father Frank Pavone, national director of the New York-based Priests for Life, said Tuesday night that anti-abortion activists should not be discouraged.

   "It is a brilliant strategy and we will see to it that this effort is introduced in other cities and states," he said in a statement. "The fact is, of course, that children have in fact been saved through this effort, simply because we have raised the issue of fetal pain, which does not even cross the minds of many abortionists."

   Much of the campaign focused on the debate over when and whether fetuses can feel pain.

   Albuquerque became the focus of the latest anti-abortion campaign because it is home to Southwestern Women's Options, one of just a handful of clinics in the country that perform late-term abortions. The proposal would have banned abortions after 20 weeks except to save the mother's life.

   A leader of the initiative, Tara Shaver, said her group gathered signatures to put the issue to voters after failing to make headway in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

   Asked if other cities with late-term abortion clinics might be targeted in the future, Shaver said, "We are encouraging people to see what can be done at the city level. ... We are starting to get calls from people asking us how to do what we have done."

   Police were stationed near polling places Tuesday as protesters from both sides tried to persuade voters who were lining up before the polls closed. One school reported an hour wait.

   Michelle Halfacre said she cast her ballot in favor of the proposal, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks except to save the mother's life.

   "I had an abortion when I was young, and I regret it," Halfacre said. "I don't believe in it."

   But Jonathan Cottrell, a crisis hotline volunteer, said he voted against the proposal because he believes it marks the beginning of a "slippery slope to ban abortion in general."

   "I feel that women have the right to choose what to do to their body," Cottrell said.

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Brenden Morrow scored twice and the St. Louis Blues continued their mastery of the Buffalo Sabres with a 4-1 win Tuesday night.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Magnus Paajarvi also scored and Jaroslav Halak made 23 saves for the Blues, who have won 13 of 15 games against Buffalo since 1999.

Tyler Ennis scored the Sabres' goal just 10 seconds into the game, as Buffalo lost at home after consecutive home wins last week.

The Blues' league-best power play stayed productive, scoring in their fourth straight game. It's a stretch that's seen the Blues go 6 of 17 with the man advantage.

St. Louis is 8-1 in its past nine trips to Buffalo. The Blues improved to 7-2 against Eastern Conference teams, outscoring opponents 31-17.

Though the Blues outshot the Sabres 31-24, they got off to a slow start.

After a dump into the Blues zone off the opening faceoff, Ville Leino stripped the puck from Jay Bouwmeester below the left faceoff circle and found Ennis, who beat Halak with a low shot to give the Sabres an early lead.

It took less than a minute for the Blues to tie it, as Morrow pounced on a rebound and beat Ryan Miller at 1:09 of the first.

Tarasenko scored a power-play goal with 36 seconds to play in the first period on a pass from T.J. Oshie, who collected his own blocked shot.

Buffalo has been outscored 31-4 in the first period this season.

Morrow's second of the game came when Cody McCormick lost the puck behind the Buffalo net. Chris Stewart picked up the puck and passed to Morrow, who had raced into the high slot for a one-timer.

It was Morrow's first multi-goal game since April 17, when he scored twice against Montreal. Stewart had two assists.

Paajarvi added his first goal for the Blues when he beat Miller below his blocker with just over six minutes played in the third.

St. Louis' top-ranked road penalty kill stopped both of Buffalo's power plays.

Defenseman Mike Weber returned to the Sabres' lineup after missing 10 games with a hand injury suffered Oct. 25 against Florida.

NOTES: Blues C Patrik Berglund missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. ... The Sabres sent D Rasmus Ristolainen, LW Johan Larsson and C Mikhail Grigorenko to their American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester on Tuesday. ... Buffalo also sent D Nikita Zadorov to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013 22:38
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   Confessed white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin has been executed after two federal stays were vacated just after midnight Wednesday.

   U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughery ruled late Tuesday afternoon that a lawsuit filed by Franklin and 21 other death-row inmates challenging Missouri's execution protocol must first be resolved.

   Later in the day, a second federal judge stayed the execution, saying a defense appeal over Franklin's mental competency needs more review.

   After an appeal by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the 8th circuit U.S. District Court vacated both stays. 

   Only the U.S. Supreme Court can intervene to stop Franklin's execution now.

   The 63 year old inmate was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for killing 42 year old Gerald Gordon in a sniper attack outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977.

   It was one of as many as 20 killings committed by Franklin, who targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980.

 
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 16:48
Published in Local News
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