December 10th, 2010
11:13 AM ET

Jurors convict juvenile in Chicago teen's beating death

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/12/10/derrion.albert.jpg
caption="Derrion Albert was an innocent bystander who ended up in the middle of a street fight, officials say."]

CNN Wire Staff

A 15-year-old was convicted in the 2009 beating death of a Chicago honors student that was caught on video, Cook County Circuit Court officials said Thursday.

Jurors deliberated only 30 minutes before convicting the teen of first-degree murder Wednesday in the death of Derrion Albert, CNN affiliate WGN reported. The defendant is not named because he is a juvenile.

Sentencing has been set for January 18, court officials said.

When the verdict was announced, the 15-year-old threw his hands up and fell back into his chair. His aunt ran out of the courtroom screaming, WGN reported.

Authorities said Albert, 16, was an innocent bystander who ended up in the middle of a street fight between two factions of students from Christian Fenger Academy High School.

When school let out on September 24, 2009, Albert was nearly six blocks away and on his way to a bus stop when two groups of students converged on the street, authorities said at the time. The factions began fighting after an earlier shooting that police called gang-related.

Albert was approached by two members of one faction and struck in the head with a long portion of a wooden railroad tie, then punched in the face, Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for Cook County prosecutors, has said.

After losing consciousness briefly, Albert woke up and tried to move from the fight, but was then attacked by members of the opposing faction, Simonton said.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
December 10th, 2010
10:47 AM ET

Palin warns of new 'death panels'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/12/10/palin.jpg]

Alexander Mooney
CNN Ticker Producer

"Death Panels" could be back, Sarah Palin says. But this time they are not the creation of the Obama administration. No, these are the handiwork of the bipartisan debt commission.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, the former Alaska governor takes aim at several of the controversial commission's recommendations, saying the cuts it proposes "implicitly endorses the use of 'death panel'-like rationing."

Palin highlights the commission's proposal for an Independent Payments Advisory Board, a committee, she says, that will make "bureaucrats, not medical professionals, the ultimate arbiters of what types of treatment will (and especially will not) be reimbursed under Medicare."

The former Alaska governor also takes aim the commission for advocating cuts in defense, an area that Palin says should be off-limits.

"Among the few areas of spending it does single out for cuts is defense – the one area where we shouldn't be cutting corners at a time of war," she writes. "Worst of all, the commission's proposals institutionalize the current administration's new big spending commitments."

Ultimately Palin, who appears to be beefing up both her economic and foreign policy credentials of late, hitches her wagon to GOP Congressman and budget guru Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

"In my view, a better plan is the Roadmap for America's Future produced by Rep. Paul Ryan. The Roadmap offers a reliable path to long-term solvency for our entitlement programs, and it does so by encouraging personal responsibility and independence."

Ryan, the Republicans go-to voice in the House on all things budget, would make for a key ally for Palin should she seek to further increase her own credibility on what is likely to be the No. 1 issue for Americans in the two years leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

"We must turn around before it's too late, and [Ryan's] roadmap offers a clear plan for doing so," Palin hales. "But it does more than just fend off disaster. CBO calculations show that the Roadmap would also help create a "much more favorable macroeconomic outlook" for the next half-century. The CBO estimates that under the Roadmap, by 2058 per-person GDP would be around 70 percent higher than the current trend."

Filed under: 360° Radar • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
December 10th, 2010
10:40 AM ET

Jury to resume deliberations in Elizabeth Smart case

Michael Christian and Jean Casarez
In Session

The jury will resume deliberations Friday in the trial of a homeless street preacher accused of kidnapping 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in 2002.

The jurors will decide whether Brian David Mitchell, 57, was legally insane when he snatched Smart at knifepoint from her bedroom on June 5, 2002. Smart testified at the month-long trial that he led her to a makeshift camp in the canyons above her home, "sealed" her as his spiritual plural wife and raped her.

Jurors deliberated for three hours Thursday before breaking until 10:30 a.m. ET Friday.

U.S. District Dale Kimball instructed jurors that in order to acquit Mitchell under the insanity defense, they must determine he was mentally ill and that his illness was so severe it kept him from knowing right from wrong.

Defense attorneys mounted the insanity defense for Mitchell, trying to convince jurors that Mitchell was so delusional he could not understand his actions were wrong when he abducted Smart. Several mental health experts testified for the defense, offering diagnoses that ranged from delusional to psychotic to paranoid schizophrenic.

Prosecutors produced their own mental health experts, who testified that Mitchell was little more than a narcissistic pedophile who used religious dogma and claims he received revelations from God to get what he wanted.

Smart spent nine months with Mitchell and his legal wife, Wanda Barzee, at makeshift camps in the Utah mountains and at a homeless camp outside San Diego, California.

Now 23, Smart was the star witness for the prosecution. She said Mitchell raped her nearly every day of her captivity, some days more than once. She initially was kept tethered between two trees and treated "like an animal," she testified. Later, she was allowed to accompany Mitchell and Barzee into town, but was forced to wear flowing religious robes and a veil. She was not permitted to speak to other people, she said.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment
December 10th, 2010
10:34 AM ET

Foreman: You say you want a revolution?

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

In case you didn't notice, London is on fire. Rioters are setting blazes, hurling stones, beating up famous statues and some of them kicked Prince Charles' car. Which is a little like beating up a statue, but still...

Students have come unhinged over a plan to triple university fees. The government says it had to approve the increase to fight soaring budget problems.

Which has me wondering if maybe we're setting the stage for similar unrest here on the American side of the pond.

We have a deficit problem. We're talking about hefty cuts of services and/or tax increases. And we always seem to have reasonable numbers of disaffected youth, no matter how many iPhones we buy for them.

Now, I would never want to encourage wild civil disobedience. To the contrary, I was one of the first reporters on the streets for ABC News during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. I spent 50 straight hours in the fray amid smashing bottles, rampant looting, occasional gunshots and more major building fires than I could count.

"You need to get out of here, right now!" a shop owner shouted at me shortly after the mob sacked his place. "You're going to get killed."

More than 50 people were killed. Hundreds of others were hurt. It was fascinating, especially the guy I saw carrying a looted refrigerator from Sears entirely on his own, but it was also dangerous, destructive, and in the end, pointless.

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Filed under: Opinion • Tom Foreman
December 10th, 2010
10:28 AM ET

Video: 'Don't ask, don't tell' fails

CNN's Anderson Cooper looks into why the Senate rejected a Democratic bid to open debate on "don't ask, don't tell."

December 10th, 2010
10:26 AM ET

Video: 'Don't ask, don't tell' fails in Senate

CNN's Anderson Cooper and his panel discuss the repeal effort of "don't ask, don't tell."

Filed under: 360° Radar • Ed Rollins • Paul Begala
December 10th, 2010
10:23 AM ET

Video: Sen. Harry Reid's gambling bill push

CNN's Anderson Cooper and his panel discuss Sen. Harry Reid's push of a gambling bill during this congressional session.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Anderson Cooper • Harry Reid
December 10th, 2010
10:21 AM ET

Video: Financial reforms under fire

When Alabama GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus becomes chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, what happens to reform?

Filed under: 360° Radar • Anderson Cooper
December 10th, 2010
10:18 AM ET

Video: Prosecutorial Misconduct

CNN's Anderson Cooper and his panel take a look at a recent study on prosecutorial misconduct in California.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Anderson Cooper • Jeffrey Toobin
December 10th, 2010
10:15 AM ET

Video: The RidicuList: Pizza Girl

Pizza girl makes the RidicuList for causing some slice of life drama at a pizza place.

Filed under: Anderson Cooper • The RidicuList
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