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Claude Nolan
Nov 092013

George Frey/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) — A Utah jury has found Dr. Martin MacNeil guilty of drugging and drowning his wife — all so he could allegedly pursue an affair with a woman he met online.

MacNeill, 57, has been found guilty of first degree murder and obstruction of justice for the April 11, 2007, death of his wife, Michele MacNeill, 50. The former beauty queen’s cause of death has been the main source of contention between the prosecution and defense.

MacNeill will be sentenced Jan. 7 at 1 p.m. His bail will remain at $1 million dollars until sentencing.

Prosecutors said MacNeill persuaded his wife to have plastic surgery so he could dope her up during her recovery and then drown her, clearing the way for his purported mistress, Gypsy Willis, to move in to the family’s home.

MacNeill’s defense lawyers said heart problems were a contributing factor in the mother of eight’s death and that the Utah doctor was not guilty.

His defense attorney, Susanne Gustin, acknowledged at the start of the trial that MacNeill “has made poor choices in his life. We’ve heard he had affairs during his marriage,” she said.

“We may think he is a total jerk, that is absolutely disgusting and that’s natural. But it’s very critical that during this trial you set aside your emotion,” Gustin admonished the jury when the trial began a month ago.

During the three week trial, family fireworks flew as four of MacNeill’s daughters testified. One of his oldest daughters, Alexis Somers, told the jury that she believes her father was guilty.

“Ever since the day my mom died, I was concerned that my father killed her,” Somers said. “I’ve been fighting to get justice for this case ever since then.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Nov 092013

(NEW YORK) – Dr. Martin MacNeill has been found guilty of murdering his wife in 2007. His wife, Michele, was found dead and drugged in the family’s bathtub. MacNeill’s own daughters testified against him after they suspected he had overmedicated their mother and were suspicious of his relationship with another woman.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Oct 042013

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) — A Louisiana man freed from jail less than a week ago after 41 years in solitary confinement has died, according to his attorney and a close friend.

Herman Wallace, 71, died early Friday morning in New Orleans at the home of close friend and program director at Tulane’s School of Medicine Ashley Wennerstrom.

“He was surrounded by a whole lot of friends and family in the last few days of his life,” Wennerstrom told ABC News. “He was definitely aware that he was no longer incarcerated and he was happy to be free.”

On Tuesday Wallace was taken from a correctional facility to a New Orleans hospital for treatment of advanced liver cancer. Wallace, who was serving time for an armed robbery conviction, was one of three inmates who were convicted in the 1974 slaying of a prison guard.

The men became known as the “Angola 3″ and were moved to solitary confinement, where Wallace spent more than four decades until a federal judge overturned his conviction on Tuesday and ordered his immediate release.

Wennerstrom said that Wallace was “relatively alert” in the last few days and recognized all of the people who visited him.

U.S. District Chief Judge Brian Jackson in Baton Rouge ordered a new trial in the case because he said women were unconstitutionally excluded from the grand jury that indicted Wallace in the stabbing death of the guard, which “violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of ‘the equal protection of the laws.’….thereby rendering his conviction and resulting sentence unconstitutional.”

“Herman Wallace has been afforded some measure of justice after a lifetime of injustice,” his attorneys said in a statement.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sep 042013

Angelo Merendino/Getty Images(ORIENT, Ohio) — Convicted Cleveland kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro has died after he was found hanged in his prison cell, Ohio Department of Corrections confirmed to ABC News.

Castro, 53, was found hanging in his cell at Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio, on Tuesday at approximately 9:20 p.m. local time, corrections spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.

Upon finding Castro in his cell, facility staff tried to resuscitate him, according to Smith.  Castro was taken to Ohio State University Medical Center and was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m.

“Inmate Ariel Castro was found hanging in his cell this evening at 9:20 p.m. at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient.  He was housed in protective custody which means he was in a cell by himself and rounds are required every 30 minutes at staggered intervals,” Smith said in a statement.

“A thorough review of this incident is underway and more information can be provided as it becomes available pending the status of the investigation,” the statement concluded.

Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years by an Ohio judge on Aug. 1.  Castro, a former school bus driver, kidnapped Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus between 2002 and 2004 and imprisoned them, sometimes restrained by chains, in his Cleveland home.

Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape, assault and aggravated murder.  The plea deal spared Castro the death penalty because he was accused of the aggravated murder of a fetus after forcibly causing an abortion in one of his victims that he is accused of impregnating.

The women escaped on May 6, when Berry broke part of a door and yelled to neighbors for help.  Castro was arrested that evening.

The home where Castro held his victims was torn down last month as part of the plea deal.

At Castro’s sentencing hearing last month, he shocked a Cleveland court by saying he was “not a monster,” “lived a normal life” and that the sex he had with the three women he held captive for more than a decade was “consensual.”

Castro’s statement came after Knight confronted him for the “hell” she endured in his house for 11 years.

Castro showed no reaction to the remarks by Knight.  Instead, he gave a rambling speech in which he depicted himself as a person who had “everything going” for himself but was plagued by an addiction to porn.

During the hearing, detectives told how he captured the three women and subjected them to a decade of torture, which one woman wrote in a diary was like being held as a “prisoner of war.”

While in captivity, Berry gave birth to her now 6-year-old daughter, who Castro fathered.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sep 042013

Photo Credit: Cuyahoga County JailABC News has confirmed Ariel Castro, the former Cleveland, Ohio, school bus driver who pleaded guilty to holding three women hostage for a decade, is dead.

A spokesperson with Ohio Rehabilitation and Correction said Castro was found hanging in his prison cell at 9:20 p.m. (ET) Tuesday evening and was taken to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center where he was pronounced dead 90 minutes later.

Due to the high profile of his crime, Castro had been in protective custody, meaning he was in a cell alone and was checked by correctional facility staff every 30 minutes.

Castro was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole last August 1 after agreeing to plead guilty to 937 counts, including kidnapping, rape, assault and aggravated murder, in exchange for prosecutors declining to seek the death penalty.

He admitted to kidnapping Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus between 2002 and 2004, repeatedly raping them in his Cleveland home. The three women managed to escape on May 6 when Berry broke free and called 911 from a neighbor’s home.

Castro had also been accused of the aggravated murder of a fetus for allegedly forcibly causing an abortion in one of his victims, whom he was accused of impregnating.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio