Tag Archives: Homicide

Backup driver in deadly Arizona Uber autonomous crash charged


Prosecutors have filed a legal cost towards the backup driver of an autonomous Uber car that fatally struck a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix

PHOENIX — The backup Uber driver concerned within the first self-driving car fatality has been charged with negligent murder for being distracted within the moments earlier than fatally placing a girl in suburban Phoenix.

Maricopa County Legal professional Allister Adel’s workplace mentioned on Tuesday that Rafaela Vasquez was charged on Aug. 27 within the 2018 crash in Tempe that killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg. She pleaded not responsible throughout a listening to on Tuesday. Her lawyer didn’t instantly reply to an inquiry from The Related Press.

Prosecutors declined in March 2019 to file legal costs towards Uber, as a company, in Herzberg’s demise.

Vasquez, 46, advised investigators that she didn’t use her cell telephones earlier than the crash.

However the Nationwide Transportation Security Board concluded Vasquez’s failure to observe the highway as she watched the tv present “The Voice” on her telephone was the principle reason behind the crash.

The contributing components cited by the board included Uber’s insufficient security procedures and ineffective oversight of its drivers, Herzberg’s resolution to cross the road outdoors of a crosswalk, and the Arizona Division of Transportation’s inadequate oversight of autonomous car testing.

The board additionally concluded Uber’s de-activation of its automated emergency braking system elevated the dangers related to testing automated autos on public roads. As an alternative of the system, Uber relied on the human backup driver to intervene.

The Uber system detected Herzberg 5.6 seconds earlier than the crash. Nevertheless it however failed to find out whether or not she was a bicyclist, pedestrian or unknown object, or that she was headed into the car’s path, the board mentioned.

The demise reverberated all through the auto business and Silicon Valley and compelled different corporations to sluggish what had been a quick march towards autonomous ride-hailing companies on public roads.

Uber pulled its self-driving vehicles out of Arizona the day earlier than the NTSB issued a preliminary report on the crash, eliminating the roles of about 300 individuals who served as backup drivers and carried out different jobs linked to the autos.

Gov. Doug Ducey prohibited Uber from persevering with its exams of self-driving vehicles after Herzberg was run over.

A toxicology report confirmed that Herzberg examined constructive for methamphetamine.

Vasquez had beforehand spent greater than 4 years in jail for 2 felony convictions — making false statements when acquiring unemployment advantages and tried armed theft — earlier than beginning work as an Uber driver, in keeping with court docket data.

Vasquez’s first identify was listed on a driver’s license as Rafael, however police say Vasquez identifies as a girl and goes by the primary identify of Rafaela.

The choice to not criminally cost Uber in Herzberg’s demise was made by Yavapai County Legal professional Sheila Polk, whose officer dealt with the case after the prosecutor’s workplace in metro Phoenix cited a possible battle of curiosity for having beforehand participated in a public-safety marketing campaign with Uber.

The case was returned to prosecutors in metro Phoenix after the choice to not cost Uber had eradicated the battle of curiosity.

A trial for Vasquez is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2021.


This story has been corrected to indicate Vasquez’s age is 46.


Krisher reported from Detroit.


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Ex-US Olympic dressage athlete charged with tried homicide


A historical past of disputes between a former Olympic equestrian athlete and two individuals who rented from him at a farm the place he trains riders apparently turned violent this week, leaving a girl with life-threatening gunshot wounds.

Prosecutors in Morris County on Thursday charged Michael Barisone, 54, with two counts of tried homicide and weapons offenses.

In keeping with a prison criticism, a girl referred to as 911 Wednesday afternoon and stated Barisone had shot her twice.

Police arrived to search out the lady bleeding on the bottom with wounds to her chest, and one other man mendacity on high of Barisone. Barisone had fired on the man as properly however had missed, in response to the criticism, and the person had subdued him till police arrived.

The lady’s accidents had been described as critical and life-threatening.

Authorities haven’t launched their names. In keeping with the criticism, they lived on the farm, and there had been a number of latest calls to police from the residence due to what it described as “landlord-tenant associated points.”

Earlier than he was faraway from the scene, Barisone was overheard repeating the phrase, “I had life,” in response to the criticism.

In keeping with his web site, Barisone was a member of the 2008 Olympic workforce and the 1997 gold medal-winning Nations Cup workforce in Hickstead, England. It says he has coached Olympians and is a member of the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s board of administrators.

It was not instantly doable to succeed in Barisone, whose voice mailbox was full.

The Morris County prosecutor’s workplace did not have a document of an legal professional listed for Barisone on Friday, and an preliminary courtroom look hadn’t but been scheduled.


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ME Investigator twice dominated stabbing vic died of pure causes


A Georgia man was fatally stabbed over the weekend, however a health worker investigator twice dominated he died from pure causes due to his current medical circumstances, in line with a report.

The physique of Ray Neal, who lived in Gwinnett County, was found drenched in blood Saturday morning by his sister, Michelle Smalls, in line with WSB-TV. 

“There was blood on the mattress, after which he was laying in a pool of blood,” Smalls advised the information station.

Regardless of the massacre, an investigator from the county’s health worker workplace inspected the scene for 10 minutes and failed to seek out Neal’s stab wounds.

“She was in. She went in all of 10 minutes and mentioned it was pure causes. The funeral residence director got here to choose him up. When he walked in, he mentioned, “That is one thing completely completely different than what they mentioned,’” Smalls mentioned.

The investigator made the rushed judgement even because the responding police officer discovered Neal’s dying suspicious, the report mentioned.

“I noticed a considerable amount of blood on the mattress and beneath Ray Neal. I additionally noticed blood on the partitions within the toilet and on the bathe curtain,” the officer wrote in a report.

The investigator, who has since been disciplined, attributed Neal’s blood lack of his current sicknesses, together with hepatitis C, in line with the report.

Investigators later positioned the stab wounds and on Monday Neal’s dying was dominated a murder.


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25 years after murders, OJ says ‘Life is fine’


After 25 years living under the shadow of one of the nation’s most notorious murder cases, O.J. Simpson says his life has entered a phase he calls the “no negative zone.”

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In a telephone interview, the 71-year-old Simpson told The Associated Press he is healthy and happy living in Las Vegas. And neither he nor his children want to look back by talking about June 12, 1994 , when his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death and Simpson was transformed from Hall of Fame football hero to murder suspect.

“We don’t need to go back and relive the worst day of our lives,” he said. “The subject of the moment is the subject I will never revisit again. My family and I have moved on to what we call the ‘no negative zone.’ We focus on the positives.”

But the pain has not faded for Goldman’s family.

“Closure,” said Goldman’s sister Kim, “isn’t a word that resonates with me. I don’t think it’s applicable when it comes to tragedy and trauma and loss of life.”

“I don’t suffocate in my grief,” she said. “But every milestone that my kid hits, every milestone that I hit, you know, those are just reminders of what I’m not able to share with my brother and what he is missing out on.”

Ron Goldman, then 25, was returning a pair of sunglasses that Nicole Brown Simpson’s mother had left at a restaurant where he worked when he and Simpson’s ex-wife were stabbed and slashed dozens of times.

O.J. Simpson’s televised “Trial of the Century” lasted nearly a year and became a national obsession, fraught with issues of racism, police misconduct, celebrity and domestic violence.

Represented by a legal “Dream Team” that included Johnnie Cochran Jr. and F. Lee Bailey, he was acquitted by a jury in 1995 in a verdict that seemed to split the country along racial lines, with many white Americans believing he got away with murder and many black people considering him innocent.

He has continued to declare his innocence. The murder case is officially listed as unsolved.

The victims’ families subsequently filed a civil suit against him, and in 1997 he was ordered to pay $33.5 million for the wrongful deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman. Some of his property was seized and auctioned, but most of the judgment has not been paid.

For a man who once lived for the spotlight , Simpson has generally kept a low profile since his release from prison in October 2017 after serving nine years for a robbery and kidnapping conviction in Las Vegas. He insisted his conviction and sentence for trying to steal back his own memorabilia were unfair but said: “I believe in the legal system and I honored it. I served my time.”

After his release from prison in Nevada, many expected him to return to Florida, where he had lived for several years. But friends in Las Vegas persuaded him to stay there.

“The town has been good to me,” Simpson said. “Everybody I meet seems to be apologizing for what happened to me here.”

His time in the city hasn’t been without controversy. A month after his release, an outing to a steakhouse and lounge off the Las Vegas Strip ended in a dispute. Simpson was ordered off the property and barred from returning.

No such problems have occurred since, and Simpson is among the most sought-after figures in town for selfies with those who encounter him at restaurants or athletic events he attends occasionally.

He plays golf nearly every day. The knees that helped him run to football glory at the University of Southern California and with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills have been replaced, and he recently had Lasik surgery on his eyes.

Simpson said he remains close to his children and other relatives. His parole officer has given him permission to take short trips, including to Florida, where his two younger children, Justin and Sydney, have built careers in real estate.

His older daughter, Arnelle, lives with him much of the time but also commutes to Los Angeles.

“I’ve been to Florida two or three times to see the kids and my old buddies in Miami. I even managed to play a game of golf with them,” he said. “But I live in a town I’ve learned to love. Life is fine.”

He also visited relatives in Louisiana, he said, and spoke to a group of black judges and prosecutors in New Orleans.

The glamor of his early life is just a memory.

After his football career, Simpson became a commercial pitchman, actor and football commentator. Once a multimillionaire, he says most of his fortune was spent defending himself from the murder charges.

Simpson declined to discuss his finances other than to say he lives on pensions.

To coincide with Wednesday’s anniversary, Kim Goldman will launch a 10-week podcast, “Confronting: O.J. Simpson,” in which she will interview her brother’s friends, the detective who investigated the killings, attorneys for the defense and prosecution, and two of the 12 jurors who acquitted Simpson. She will continue to make the case that Simpson was guilty.


Linda Deutsch is a retired special correspondent for The Associated Press. She covered all of Simpson’s legal cases during her 48-year career as a Los Angeles-based trial reporter.


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German nurse who murdered 87 patients given life sentence


Niels Hoegel liked to bring about cardiac arrests in his patients by injecting them with overdoses of heart medication and other drugs because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them. Sometimes he succeeded in bringing them back, but in at least 87 cases they died, making him what is believed to be modern Germany’s most prolific serial killer.

A court in the northwestern city of Oldenburg on Thursday found the 42-year-old nurse guilty of murdering 85 patients, aged 34 to 96, and sentenced him to life in prison. He had earlier been convicted of two other killings.

“Your guilt is incomprehensible,” presiding judge Sebastian Buerhmann said as he handed down the verdict. “I felt like an accountant of death.”

Hoegel worked at a hospital in Oldenburg between 1999 and 2002 and another hospital in nearby Delmenhorst from 2003 to 2005, and the killings took place between 2000 and 2005, the dpa news agency reported.

Hoegel was convicted in 2015 of two murders and two attempted murders and is already currently serving a life sentence. There are no consecutive sentences in the German system, but Buerhmann noted in his verdict the “particular seriousness” of Hoegel’s crimes, a finding that all but ensures he will remain incarcerated after the standard 15-year term is up.

During his first trial, Hoegel said he intentionally brought about cardiac crises in some 90 patients in Delmenhorst because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them. He later told investigators that he also killed patients in Oldenburg.

That prompted a wider investigation involving both hospitals, and police and prosecutors reviewed more than 500 patient files and hundreds more hospital records. They also exhumed 134 bodies from 67 cemeteries, and questioned Hoegel multiple times, concluding that he had used a variety of drugs to attempt resuscitation of his patients, and was fully aware they might die.

Prosecutors noted that many of Hoegel’s victims were not terminally ill patients, but were on the path to recovery.

“The fact is sometimes the worst fantasy is not enough to describe the truth,” Buehrmann said.

In all, Hoegel was tried in Oldenburg on 100 counts of murder, but the court found him not guilty on 15 counts for lack of evidence, which Buerhmann noted with regret to the family members present.

“We were not able to shine light through part of the fog that lay over this trial,” Buehrmann said. “That also fills with a certain sadness.”

Frank Brinkers, whose father was thought to have been killed by Hoegel, was one of those left wondering because the court could not definitively prove culpability.

“That is very, very bitter,” Brinkers said after the verdict. “I have gone through hell and that is hard to bear.”

Pleas are not entered in the German system but during the seven-month trial, Hoegel admitted to 43 of the killings, disputed five and said he couldn’t remember the other 52.

Hoegel testified that he had a “protected” childhood, free of violence. He said his grandmother and his father, who were both nurses, had been his role models for going into the profession.

“Now I sit here fully convinced that I want to give every relative an answer,” Hoegel said during the trial. “I am really sorry.”

An expert testified during the trial that while Hoegel suffered from personality disorders, he was psychologically competent to stand trial and serve his sentence.

In his closing statement to the court on Wednesday, Hoegel reiterated his earlier apology, expressing shame and remorse, and saying he realized how much pain and suffering he had caused with his “terrible deeds.”

“To each and every one of you I sincerely apologize for all that I have done,” he said.


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Doctor killed 25 patients, officials say. Can they prove it?


Prosecutors face a legal hurdle as they pursue 25 murder charges against an Ohio doctor accused of essentially using his colleagues as weapons by ordering fatal painkiller doses for hospital patients but not directly administering them himself, legal experts say.

Critical care doctor William Husel has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer, Richard Blake, said Husel was trying to provide “comfort care” for dying patients and didn’t intend to hasten their deaths, as prosecutors allege.

If the case goes to trial, legal experts said, a key challenge for prosecutors would be proving that Husel ordered doses without medical justification and intending to cause deaths, even if the drugs were actually administered by a nurse or other colleague.

“The real defense I would see that he would have is this might be within the range of legitimate medical conduct,” said Wes Oliver, a criminal law professor at Duquesne University. Whether Husel administered the drugs himself or ordered them is irrelevant under the law, Oliver said.

“If you set something in motion that then causes a death, it doesn’t matter whether you’re the physical last act,” Oliver said.

It’s one of the biggest cases of its kind against an American health care professional, and it appears to a far less cut-and-dried case than that of a nurse in Germany who was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for murdering 85 patients by personally administering drug overdoses.

A critical element is what Husel was thinking at the time he ordered the painkillers.

“The question is, what was going through their mind when they did it?” University of Dayton law professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister said. “Was it his purpose to take the life of another? Was he acting recklessly? Or was he acting negligently, like was he just sloppy? … Now that’s a hard case to make when you’ve got 25 people dead.”

The murder charges were brought only in cases that involved fentanyl doses between 500 and 2000 micrograms, far more than authorities say is typically used to treat pain.

Prosecutors likely will argue Husel, 43, had to know that there was no legitimate medical need for such large doses and that they would be lethal, said former prosecutor Ric Simmons, who teaches criminal law at Ohio State University. They would need to prove his intent, not motive.

Simmons and Hoffmeister said they found it interesting that no other medical workers were charged in the case despite being aware of or involved in the high doses.

“If you’re a medical professional, that might have jumped out at you,” Hoffmeister said.

Other employees from the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System were treated as witnesses and aren’t being prosecuted, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said.

It’s possible that not facing criminal charges made those employees more cooperative witnesses, Simmons said.

They still might face repercussions. Dozens of nurses and pharmacists have been reported to professional boards for review and possible disciplinary action in the matter.

Mount Carmel fired Husel in December and has said any employees who had a role in administering medication to patients who received excessive doses have been removed from patient care as a precaution.

The hospital system found Husel ordered potentially fatal drug doses for 29 patients, including five who might have received those drugs when there still was a chance to improve their conditions with treatment. The hospital system said six more patients got doses that were excessive but probably did not cause their deaths.

Authorities are still reviewing cases, O’Brien said.

Courts likely will look closely any action the State Medical Board has taken regarding Husel, Oliver said. Records show no prior disciplinary action against Husel by the board until it suspended his medical license over the current allegations. The board won’t disclose whether it received any complaints that didn’t result in action.

Mount Carmel has publicly apologized and pledged to continue cooperating with authorities and making “meaningful changes” to ensure such events never happen again.


Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed to this report. Follow Franko on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10.


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Fatal Uber shooting stemmed from ‘vomit’ in car


A ride-hailing driver shot and killed a New Mexico passenger earlier this year during an argument over “a large amount of vomit” in his Uber vehicle, prosecutors said in new documents.

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Court documents submitted by the Bernalillo County district attorney last week said the vomit and an argument over a cleanup fee led to the shooting, the Albuquerque Journal reported .

Police say driver Clayton Benedict fatally shot passenger James Porter, 27, after stopping along a highway in Albuquerque on March 17. Benedict has not been charged and has declined to comment.

A charging decision may come in the next few weeks, district attorney spokesman Michael Patrick said.

“Prosecutors are currently going over hundreds of documents and videos,” Patrick said.

Benedict picked up Porter and his friend from a bar on the evening of St. Patrick’s Day, according to a search warrant affidavit seeking details from Uber about Benedict’s trips and other information.

The friend, Jonathan Reyes, later told police the two had been at the bar since 2 p.m. and although he typically doesn’t drink, he had six or seven drinks that day.

Benedict — who had been driving for Uber for a year and a half — told detectives they were traveling south on Interstate 25 when Reyes threw up in the backseat.

“At this point, the other passenger and Clayton start to go back and forth about a potential ‘clean-up fee,'” the detective wrote in the affidavit. “James is the male arguing/pleading with Clayton not to charge him for a ‘clean-up fee.'”

That’s when Benedict said he pulled over and asked the men to get out of the car. He said he ended the ride and gave Porter a review of “one star.” He said Porter slammed the door and the two argued outside the car.

Benedict said Porter was yelling and moved toward the open driver’s side door, threatening to run Benedict over with his own car. Benedict said he fired “an unknown amount of rounds” toward Porter.

Porter’s family sued Uber and Benedict last month. The San Francisco-based Uber told the newspaper in a statement that Benedict no longer has access to the Uber app as a driver.

Last year, an Uber driver in Denver was charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a passenger on a Colorado highway. Police have said driver Michael Hancock, 29, shot and killed Hyun Kim, 45, following an altercation in the car. Hancock’s family has said he only shot in self-defense.


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