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Strauss-Kahn's defense has 'constructive meeting' with prosecutors
July 6th, 2011
05:15 PM ET

Strauss-Kahn's defense has 'constructive meeting' with prosecutors

New York (CNN) - Attorneys for Dominique Strauss-Kahn said Wednesday that the defense team had a "constructive meeting" with prosecutors, who maintain that they are not ready to drop sexual abuse and attempted rape charges against the French financier after questions were raised about the accuser's credibility.

"The investigative process is continuing, and no decisions have been made," said Manhattan District Attorney spokeswoman Erin Duggan.

The two-hour meeting came just days after prosecutors disclosed credibility issues regarding the hotel maid who accused Strauss-Kahn of sexually attacking her.

"We had a constructive meeting today with (Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance) and his colleagues," said a statement from William W. Taylor III and Benjamin Brafman.

Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty in June to charges that prompted him to resign from his post as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Questions about the case surfaced last week when Vance indicated that the woman, 32, had been less than truthful with authorities about some aspects of her life and her whereabouts immediately after the alleged attack at the Sofitel hotel May 14.

Legal analysts suggest that prosecutors are looking for ways to salvage the case.

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July 5th, 2011
05:15 PM ET

Anthony lawyers decry media coverage

Orlando (CNN) - Defense lawyers for Casey Anthony lambasted the judgmental role adopted by some members of the news media and their guests in the months leading up to Tuesday's verdict.

"I hope that this is a lesson to those of you who (have) indulged in media assassination for three years," defense attorney J. Cheney Mason said after the verdict in the Casey Anthony case, which has attracted intense media scrutiny.

"Bias and prejudice and incompetent 'talking heads' saying what would be and how to be - I'm disgusted by some of the lawyers that have done this. I can tell you that my colleagues from coast to coast and border to border have condemned this whole process of lawyers getting on television and talking about cases they don't know a damn thing about," Mason said.

Former prosecutor Nancy Grace, whose show on CNN sister network HLN has featured the case extensively, defended the media coverage. "I find it interesting that his first reaction was to attack the media like we had something to do with it," she said. "We didn't have anything to do with it; this was all tot mom."

She added, "There is no way that this is a verdict that speaks the truth."

"Casey did not murder Caylee; it's that simple," co-defense attorney Jose Baez said. "I think we should all take this as an opportunity to learn and to realize that you cannot convict someone until they've had their day in court."

He said he hoped Anthony would be able "to grieve and grow and somehow get her life back together."

And he called the case "a perfect example" of why the death penalty does not work.

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June 30th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Knox's mom: No celebration until Amanda is free

(CNN) - The family of American student Amanda Knox is happy that new DNA analysis has called into question her murder conviction, but won't celebrate "until she walks out of that prison," her mother said Thursday.

In an interview with CNN's "Newsroom," Edda Mellas said her daughter is "not taking anything for granted." But a priest who was visiting Knox reported the results were met with "jumping and hugging" on Wednesday.

"There are many people that support her," Mellas said. "He said he could finally see the light back in her eyes, and she looked like she could finally breathe after three and a half years."

Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were found guilty in the 2007 killing of Knox's roommate, Meredith Kercher. Kercher was found dead in the villa she rented with Knox in the central Italian university town of Perugia, semi-naked and with her throat slashed.

In December, Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison. But Wednesday, forensic experts told an Italian court that the DNA evidence police used to link Knox to the murder weapon may have been tainted.

The next hearing in her appeal is scheduled for July 25, with further hearings on July 30 and August 1. Mellas said a decision on the appeal could come in late September.

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June 28th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Lawyers oppose order to forcibly medicate Loughner

(CNN) - A federal judge ordered the government to respond by Tuesday to a legal challenge against a decision to forcibly medicate Arizona shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner in a federal prison.

In the order dated Monday, U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns said the government must answer the emergency motion by lawyers representing Loughner that contends forcing him to take mind-altering psychotropic drugs against his will violates his rights.

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June 27th, 2011
05:30 PM ET

Amanda Knox: 'I don't know what happened that night'

Perugia, Italy (CNN) - Amanda Knox, the American student convicted of killing her British roommate Meredith Kercher in Italy, faced a surprise accusation Monday from another man behind bars for the murder.

Rudy Guede refused to say Knox was not involved - and prosecutor Giuliano Mignini read out a letter saying Guede thought the American and her then-boyfriend had killed Kercher.

Guede wrote to a news website in the spring of 2010, after the three were convicted, referring to "a horrible homicide of a splendid young girl, Meredith Kercher, by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito."

Mignini produced a copy of the letter on Monday during Knox's appeal against her conviction. Defense lawyers said they did not know of the existence of the letter before Mignini read it in court.

Knox took the stand for emotional testimony after Guede spoke, saying she was "shocked."

"The only time that Rudy Guede, Raffaele Sollecito and I were in one room together was in a court room.... He knows what the truth is. I don't know what happened that night," she said.

Monday's appeal hearing was the first time the three people convicted of the crime appeared in court together since a preliminary hearing years ago.

Kercher was found stabbed to death in 2007 at the house she shared with Knox in Perugia, the central Italian town where both were students. She was semi-naked and her throat had been slashed.

Knox, 23, and her then-boyfriend Sollecito, 27, were convicted of the murder in 2009. Guede was found guilty in a separate fast-track trial and sentenced to 16 years.

Defense lawyer Carlo della Vedova and Knox's mother Edda Mellas both rejected Guede's testimony Monday. Her father Curt Knox, speaking to CNN from Seattle, said it was "very disappointing that he will not own up to his responsibility."

Under cross-examination, Guede said he had written what he always believed, but that it "was not up to me to say who was the killer."

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June 27th, 2011
03:15 PM ET

Bachmann makes official 2012 presidential announcement

(CNN) - Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann formally announced her candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination Monday during an appearance in Waterloo, Iowa - the city where she was born.

Bachmann, a 55-year-old Tea Party favorite currently serving her third term in the House, told a crowd of supporters that Barack Obama's presidency has been a failure. She promised to lead a new conservative revolution characterized by smaller government and a lower federal debt.

"Make no mistake about it: President Obama is a one-term president," Bachmann declared. "Together we can rein in all the corruption and waste that has become Washington and instead leave a better America for future generations."

Bachmann blasted Obama's controversial 2009 economic stimulus plan, telling the crowd that "spending our way out of this recession hasn't worked."

Echoing Ronald Reagan's famous refrain, the congresswoman asserted that "more than ever, Washington is the problem."

"The real solutions will come from our businesses, our communities, our schools and the most basic and powerful unit of all - our families," she proclaimed.

While making a direct appeal to the Tea Party's deficit hardliners, Bachmann also made a pitch to religious conservatives, praising the country's past military victories in part by citing a line from the Bible: "Greater love hath no man than this, but that he lay down his life for his friend."

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt dismissed Bachmann's claim she could lead a new economic recovery, arguing that "her policies would erode the path to prosperity for middle class families."

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June 27th, 2011
08:45 AM ET

Syrian general: Hundreds of soldiers, police killed by armed gangs

Damascus, Syria (CNN) - Syria's military spokesman says more than 400 members of security forces have been killed in the months-long unrest that has taken hold in the country, a charge that came as videos surfaced allegedly showing children killed in the violence.

In an interview with CNN in Damascus, Maj. Gen. Riad Haddad said that 1,300 security personnel also were wounded, and that 300 soldiers, 60 security officials and 50 police died in the violence.

He also has said 700 people, whom he described as terrorists, and their families had fled Syrian authorities for Turkey.

Haddad offered no details about the killings of the security forces other than to blame the deaths on armed gangs. CNN cannot independently verify the claim.

President Bashar al-Assad has faced growing criticism from leaders in the United States, Europe and elsewhere over his government's violent clampdown on demonstrators. Al-Assad has repeatedly blamed "armed gangs" in explaining its military crackdowns, which have pushed thousands of Syrians to flee to Turkey.

Security sources in Lebanon told CNN that about 1,000 Syrians have crossed into Lebanon near the town of Hermel.

Months of protests have left more than 1,100 dead, according to human rights activists. But the extent of the carnage is not clear. About 10,000 people have been jailed since mid-March when the protests began, said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the London-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights.

CNN cannot independently verify the claims of the activist or the human rights group.

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June 24th, 2011
04:45 PM ET

Caylee Anthony could climb pool stairs, grandmother says

Orlando (CNN) - Two-year-old Caylee Anthony was able to climb into the family's backyard pool on her own, but she couldn't have installed the removable ladder or opened gates leading to the area, her grandmother testified Friday at the outset of an emotional day in the Casey Anthony murder trial.

Defense attorneys are trying to prove that Caylee could have accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008. They argue Casey Anthony and her father panicked when they found the girl's body and covered up her death.

Prosecutors argue Casey Anthony used chloroform to render her daughter unconscious, put duct tape on her nose and mouth to smother her, and then stored her body in the trunk of her car for a few days before disposing of the remains in a wooded field.

But Anthony's defense team has worked intently to call that theory into question in the last few days as the trial rolls toward the end of its fifth week.

On Thursday, Anthony's mother, Cindy Anthony, testified she was using a family computer to search for terms including chloroform and alcohol in March 2008, three months before Caylee disappeared.

She testified Friday about how Caylee was always anxious to get into the pool and how she could climb and descend the pool steps virtually unaided as she approached her third birthday.

Then Anthony's brother, Lee Anthony, took the stand to say that stains in the back of the trunk were there when he owned the car from 2000 to 2005, and probably before. Witnesses for the prosecution have said subtle stains in the trunk of the car could have been made by fluids from the girl's decomposing body.

Later, Anthony and her brother both began to cry when defense attorney Jose Baez asked why he didn't visit his sister in the hospital after Caylee was born in 2005. He said he had only one brief conversation with his mother about his sister's pregnancy until just days before Caylee was born.

"I was very angry at my mom and at my sister," he said. "I was just angry at everyone in general that they didn't want to include me, didn't find it important enough to tell me."

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June 24th, 2011
09:15 AM ET

President Obama backs rights for gay couples in New York fundraiser

(CNN) - President Barack Obama took his act to New York on Thursday as the featured attraction at three back-to-back fundraisers, where he touted his progressive credentials, including support for equal rights for gay couples.

Obama kicked off his evening at the LGBT Leadership Council gala at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan. After condemning discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, the president drew rigorous applause when he addressed same-sex couples.

"I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every couple in this country," Obama said.

The president, who during the 2008 campaign said he wouldn't promote same-sex marriage but did support civil unions, did not use the word "marriage" in his speech. His speech came amid some frustration that Obama, even given his efforts to rescind the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibiting gays from serving openly, has not gone far or fast enough in backing gay rights.

In his speech, Obama acknowledged that the "change" he'd promised wouldn't be easy, nor would it always be quick.

"I did not run for president to do easy things," he said. "It was time for us to do hard things, the big things, even if it was going to take time."

About 600 people paid $1,250 apiece to attend the event. They included Jane Lynch of "Glee" and the night's master of ceremonies, Neil Patrick Harris of "How I Met Your Mother."

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June 23rd, 2011
08:00 PM ET

Captured fugitive 'Whitey' Bulger will be taken to Boston

Los Angeles (CNN) - Nabbed mobster James "Whitey" Bulger appeared relaxed Thursday at a Los Angeles hearing, where he learned he will be taken to Boston to face a string of charges - including multiple murders - dating back to the early 1970s.

Bulger did not seek bond, according to a spokesman for federal prosecutors. He and and his girlfriend are being held without bail. It was not clear when the longtime fugitive, who sported glasses and a white beard, would be transported.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John E. McDermott asked Bulger if he was aware of the two existing indictments against him.

"I know them. I know them all. Thank you," he politely told the magistrate.

Bulger, a Boston mobster on the lam for 16 years, "appeared to be a guy who was healthy, vibrant and knew what was going on," said assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale.

Bulger, 81, faces multiple charges related to alleged criminal enterprises that spanned two decades.

Bulger, subject of a $2 million FBI reward, has been living in a Santa Monica apartment and was arrested outside it, the FBI said Thursday. He is charged with 19 counts of murder and a slew of other crimes.

Acting on a tip, members of the Fugitive Task Force staked out the residence Wednesday and arrested Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Elizabeth Greig, 60, who was inside the home, said FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers. Greig is suspected of harboring Bulger.

Neither put up a fight, authorities said. After the arrests, members of the Fugitive Task Force, which included the FBI and police, searched the apartment. Agents found firearms and a large amount of cash, a law enforcement official said.

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