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Robert Nelson speaks about wrongful rape conviction and 30 year imprisonment
Lisa Benson Jun-30-2013 1440 0


Robert Nelson sat quietly at sister's table, admittedly nervous about talking to a reporter about the 30 years he spent in prison and the rape conviction that changed his life

"I've never done anything like this before," Nelson said.

Nelson spent more than half of his life in prison after being wrongly convicted of a 1983 rape. He was sentenced to 70 years for the crime, before being exonerated by DNA evidence earlier this month.

That freedom came with a lot of adjustments for Nelson, 49.

"One of the biggest things was learning how to use the phone. I never used a text phone. When I got locked up they didn't have text and cell phones," Nelson said

Decision making is also a skill that Nelson has to work on after spending so much time behind bars.

"It's hard to decide what you want when you walk into a store because you've got the freedom to choose. And inside you don't have the freedom to choose you got to get what every they give you," Nelson added.

On June 12, Nelson was released from prison after DNA testing exonerated him of the 1984 rape conviction. The victim identified Nelson as her attacker on a police line-up, but was wrong.

"I couldn't believe it, a jury found me guilty. There wasn't even no evidence to find me guilty, so I went on to prison and tried to fight it best I could," Nelson said.

Nelson's sister,Sea Dunnell joined his fight, contacting Laura O'Sullivan with the Midwest Innocence Project. Nelson was freed within a year of O'Sullivan taking the case.

"I knew it was being worked on; and they were going to set him free," Dunnell said.

Dunnell has had her Christmas tree up since last Christmas in anticipation of her brother coming home. She plans to keep it up as a constant reminder of the unyielding hope, faith, and love she has for her baby brother.



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A Georgia news anchor died the day before her 25th birthday after she fell off the top of a North Carolina waterfall Thursday.

Taylor Terrell, who grew up in Atlanta and served as a news anchor for 41NBC News in Macon, was visiting Rainbow Falls, a 150-foot waterfall, with a friend to celebrate her Friday birthday when she slipped and was swept over the falls, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“It’s a real dangerous spot,” Transylvania County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Eddie Gunter told the news outlet. “We usually have about two to three waterfall deaths up there every year ... that is the seventh (waterfall-related death) we’ve had in our county this year.”

An investigation will be helmed by the U.S. Forest Services, forest public affairs officer Cathy Dowd told the Telegraph.

Terrell “was wading in the river near the top of the falls (when) she lost her footing and fell in the water where the current swept her up and over the falls,” Dowd said. “Her body was recovered at the base of the falls.”
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A black therapist who was trying to calm an autistic patient in the middle of the street says he was shot by police even though he had his hands in the air and repeatedly told them that no one was armed.

The moments before the shooting were recorded on cellphone video and show Charles Kinsey lying on the ground with his arms raised, talking to his patient and police throughout the standoff with officers, who appeared to have them surrounded.

"As long as I've got my hands up, they're not going to shoot me. This is what I'm thinking. They're not going to shoot me," he told WSVN-TV from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg. "Wow, was I wrong."

The shooting comes amid weeks of violence involving police. Five officers were killed in Dallas two weeks ago and three law enforcement officers were gunned down Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Before those shootings, a black man, Alton Sterling, 37, was fatally shot during a scuffle with two white officers at a convenience store. In Minnesota, 32-year-old Philando Castile, who was also black, was shot to death during a traffic stop. Cellphone videos captured Sterling's killing and aftermath of Castile's shooting, prompting nationwide protests over the treatment of blacks by police.

At a news conference Thursday, North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene said the investigation had been turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the office of the state's attorney. He called it a "very sensitive matter" and promised a transparent and thorough investigation, but he refused to identify the officer or answer reporters' questions.

"I realize there are many questions about what happened on Monday night. You have questions, the community has questions, we as a city, we as a member of this police department and I also have questions," he said. "I assure you we will get all the answers."

The chief said officers responded following reports of a man with a gun threatening to kill himself, and the officers arrived "with that threat in mind" — but no gun was recovered from the scene.

Kinsey, 47, said he was trying to coax his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from which he had wandered. Police ordered Kinsey and the patient, who was sitting in the street playing with a toy truck, to lie on the ground.

"Lay down on your stomach," Kinsey says to his patient in the video, which was shot from a distance and provided to the Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/2ahReMa) on Wednesday. "Shut up!" responds the patient, who is sitting cross-legged in the road, playing with his toy.

"He has a toy truck in his hand! A toy truck!" Kinsey says to officers who have their guns drawn. Kinsey said he was more worried about his patient than himself.

An officer then fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg, assistant police chief Neal Cuevas told the newspaper. The video posted on websites does not include the moment of the shooting.

"I'm telling them again, 'Sir, there is no need for firearms. I'm unarmed, he's an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand," Kinsey said.

"When he shot me, it was so surprising ... It was like a mosquito bite, and when it hit me, I'm like, I still got my hands in the air, and I said, 'No, I just got shot,'" Kinsey said.

After the shooting, Kinsey said he asked an officer why he was shot and he said "'I don't know.'"

The officer has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard.

Kinsey's attorney, Hilton Napoleon, provided the cellphone video to the Herald.
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Austin, Tex., police officers face an investigation after disturbing videos showed a violent arrest and comments afterward by one officer saying blacks have “violent tendencies.”

A dashcam video published Thursday by the Austin American-Statesman showed Officer Bryan Richter, who is white, slamming Breaion King, who is black, to the ground twice during the June 2015 speeding stop. Separate footage that also surfaced Thursday revealed the conversation about race between King and another white officer, Patrick Spradlin.

"Why are so many people afraid of black people?" Spradlin asked King.

“That’s what I want to figure out because I’m not a bad black person,” she replied.

“I can give you a really good idea why it might be that way: violent tendencies," Spradlin said.

Prosecutors cleared King, a 26-year-old elementary teacher, of a resisting arrest charge after viewing the video of the June 15, 2015 arrest. The 112-pound woman told the local newspaper she has hired lawyers as she considers a suit against the department.

“I’ve become fearful to live my life,” King said. “I would rather stay home. I’ve become afraid of the people who are supposed to protect me and take care of me.”

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo announced Thursday that he has removed both Richter and Spradlin from the streets as the department conducts an internal review. The probe will include both a criminal investigation and an administrative review into how Richter's supervisors arrived at the decision to give him the lowest level of discipline: counseling and training.

The chief said he didn't know of Spradlin's comments, which he called racist, until local media began inquiring about it. He said at a press conference that he wants to apologize to King, who didn't file a formal complaint with the department after the arrest.

“After reviewing both videos, I and our leadership team were highly disturbed and disappointed in both the way Ms. King was approached and handled and in the mindset that we saw on display in those videos,” Acevedo told the Statesman. “But there is another piece, which has caused concerns as to our review process and the systems we have in place.”

The video of the arrest in a parking lot started with Richter asking King to get back inside her white Nissan Versa. He told her he had pulled her over for speeding.

"You were about to go inside without a wallet, so I know you were only coming over here because you knew I was going to pull you over," Richter said. "I can absolutely stop you if you’ve already parked, yes."

The encounter escalated when Richter asked her to get out of the car. When she didn't immediately get out, he began pulling her out of the car.

"No, why are you touching me?" King yelled. "Oh my God! Oh my God!"

"Stop resisting!" Richter yelled. "Get out of the car!" The car's horn honked as they struggled for a moment.

"I’m getting out, let me get out," King said. "Do not touch me."

Richter then pulled her out and flung her to the pavement, yelling at her to put her hands behind her back as she cried out in pain. He told her he was "about to Tase you."

"Oh God, why are you doing this to me?" she asked. She put her hands behind her back then struggled to her feet.

Richter kicked her legs out from under her, picked her up and threw her down again. He finally handcuffed her as another officer showed up to the parking lot.

The second video picked up with King handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser as she spoke with Spradlin. She asked him if he thinks racism still exists.

“Let me ask you this: Do you believe it goes both ways?” he asked. She said that she does think racism cuts both ways but thinks white people have more rights than African-Americans.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, when you hear about stuff like that, it is the black community that is being violent," Spradlin said. "That’s why a lot of the white people are afraid, and I don’t blame them. There are some guys I look at, and I know it is my job to deal with them, and I know it might go ugly, but that’s the way it goes.

He continued, “But yeah, some of them, because of their appearance and whatnot, some of them are very intimidating."

King paid a $165 ticket and court costs after Richter said he had clocked her driving at 50 mph in a 35 mph zone on Riverside Drive that day, the newspaper reported. Her attorney Erica Grigg told the Statesman she was disturbed by the footage.

"When I looked at this video, I was heartbroken because I thought, 'That would never happen to me because I’m white," Grigg said.
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Authorities say a Florida police officer shot and wounded an autistic man's caretaker following reports of a man threatening to shoot himself.

North Miami Assistant Police Chief Neal Cuevas told The Miami Herald that officers responded to the scene Monday to find 47-year-old Charles Kinsey, a therapist who works with people with disabilities, according to WSVN-TV, trying to get his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from where he wandered.

Cuevas says police ordered Kinsey and the patient, who was sitting in the street playing with a toy truck, to lie on the ground. Kinsey lies down and puts his hands up while trying to get his patient to comply. An officer then fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg, Cuevas said. No weapon was found.

Kinsey's attorney, Hilton Napoleon, provided a cellphone video to the Herald on Wednesday taken moments before the shooting. It shows Kinsey lying in the middle of the street with his hands up, asking the officers not to shoot him, while the autistic man sits next to him, yelling at him to "shut up."

"Sir, there's no need for firearms," Kinsey said he told police before he was shot, according to the station. "It was so surprising. It was like a mosquito bite."

Kinsey is black. Police haven't released the name or race of the officer who shot him.

The Miami Harold posted video of the encounter on their website.

Circle of Brotherhood, a group of men who work together to perform acts of community service and crime prevention, are demanding answers after Kinsey, who is one their members, was shot.

The group had plans to gather Wednesday evening in front of the police department's headquarters to raise concerns about the shooting, CBS Miami reported.

"We found out bits and pieces and we're still finding things out," said friend Lyle Muhammad. "So we'd just like to go see him."

The Circle of Brotherhood said the North Miami Police Department is just the latest law enforcement agency to be called to task for the shooting of an unarmed black man.

They want answers and want the officer who shot Kinsey to be held accountable for criminal negligence.
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Baltimore prosecutors on Monday failed for the fourth time to secure a conviction against a city police officer for the death of black detainee Freddie Gray, as a lieutenant was cleared of all charges.

The acquittal of Lieutenant Brian Rice renews questions about the prospects for the remaining cases stemming from the death of Gray, who suffered a fatal neck injury in April 2015 after he was bundled into the back of a police transport van.

Police union officials have called on prosecutors to drop the charges against three officers still awaiting trial in the case, which triggered protests and rioting in the mainly black city and stoked a national debate about how police treat minorities.

Tensions flared anew this month with the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police in Minnesota and Louisiana. The controversy took a tragic turn when eight police officers were shot dead in apparent reprisal attacks staged by lone black gunmen in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Rice, 42, the highest-ranking officer charged in the Gray case, was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct on Monday following a bench trial.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams, who oversaw a non-jury trial at Rice's request, said prosecutors did not prove that Gray died as a result of Rice's failure to secure him with a seat belt.

In a statement, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked the community to respect the judicial process during "a very difficult time for our city."

Rice was the fourth of six officers to stand trial in the case. Williams previously acquitted Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr., both of whom were in court on Monday. Goodson, the driver of the van, had faced the most serious counts, including a second-degree murder charge.

Officer William Porter faces a September retrial after a jury deadlocked.

In addition to Porter's retrial, Officer Garrett Miller is scheduled for trial later this month, while Sergeant Alicia White's trial is set for October. Porter and White face manslaughter among their charges, while Miller is charged with assault and other crimes.

Warren Alperstein, a Baltimore defense attorney who attended the trial as a spectator, said he was "not surprised by the verdict whatsoever."

"At the end of the day, the state may have to say we're cutting our losses and moving on," he said.

But Doug Colbert, a law professor at the University of Maryland who has followed the cases, said there is still value in having brought the prosecutions, even if they are unsuccessful.

"The police departments are now on notice that the legal community stands ready to prosecute in these types of cases," he said. "Hopefully this will be the last time anyone suffers the kind of fate that Freddie Gray did."

Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case are barred from commenting by a gag order from Williams.

Rice, who is white, ordered two officers on bicycle to chase Gray, 25, when he fled unprovoked in a high-crime area.

Prosecutors said Rice acted negligently by failing to secure Gray with a seat belt in the van.

But defense lawyers said Rice made a reasonable split-second decision while Gray was being combative and a hostile crowd looked on, they said.

Williams said prosecutors failed to show the lieutenant was aware of a departmental policy requiring seat belts for prisoners during transport.

"A mere error in judgment is not enough to show corruption," the judge said.
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Court records show a white former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot a black motorist has been arrested.

Fulton County jail records show James R. Burns was arrested Saturday on charges including felony murder in the June 22 shooting of Devaris Caine Rogers.

Burns told investigators he shot a car that was "trying to run me over and kill me."

But a police internal affairs investigation found that evidence contradicted Burns' version of what happened. It showed that Burns shot into a vehicle not knowing whether 22-year-old Rogers was the person he'd been called to investigate at a northeast Atlanta apartment complex.

Burns also faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and violation of violation of his oath of office. No bond has been set.

Last week, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner defended firing Burns just nine days after the incident.

"Our communities are not going to allow us to spend six, eight, 10, 12 months before a grand jury determines if they are going to indict on an issue when there is clear evidence that suggests that the officer violated our standard operating procedures," Turner told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview last week.
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At least two police officers were killed and several officers wounded in a shootout in Baton Rouge, reports CBS affiliate WAFB.

Police responded to a report of officers shot at a location on Airline Highway near Old Hammond Highway around 9 a.m., WAFB reports.

Baton Rouge police are still processing the situation, which has apparently ended. Few details have been released.

Earlier Sunday, Sgt. Don Coppola with the Baton Rouge Police Department confirmed to WAFB that "multiple officers (were) struck by gunfire."

The shooting happened near the B Quick store on Airline Highway. Coppola said that authorities believe the "scene is contained," meaning that a shooter was unlikely on the loose.

"I do not have the extent of the injuries," Sgt. Coppola told WAFB. "We're hearing that it may also include some deputies [with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office], but that's preliminary information and I'm waiting on confirmation."

Authorities talk to the driver of a car near an area where several officers were shot while on duty less than a mile from police headquarters, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La.© AP Photo/Mike Kunzelman Authorities talk to the driver of a car near an area where several officers were shot while on duty less than a mile from police headquarters, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La.
Baton Rouge has been filled with tension since the July 5 shooting of a black man pinned to the ground by white police officers.

At a three-hour service Friday, mourners paid their respects to 37-year-old Alton Sterling, whose shooting outside a convenience store began a tumultuous week in race relations in America.

Last week, police arrested and identified three young people who they say plotted to kill Baton Rouge cops using guns stolen from a pawn shop. Law enforcement said at a conference they believe it to be a substantial and credible threat on police officers in the Baton Rouge area.

On Friday, grieving residents of Baton Rouge honored an appeal at the funeral of Sterling to celebrate his life rather than demonstrate about his death.

"If you want to protest, please leave now," Gary Chambers, master of ceremonies for the funeral, said at the beginning that the event at Southern University.

A steady stream of mourners filed past Sterling's casket, which was adorned with music notes and a smiling photo of the man. Sterling was selling CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart store, as he had done for years, when he was killed by police responding to a call of a man threatening someone with a gun. Police have said they found a gun in Sterling's pocket.

Sterling's death was captured on cellphone video and circulated widely on the internet. His death, along with another fatal police shooting in Minnesota last week, sparked widespread protests. Then the fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas by a black sniper heightened tensions even more.

Sterling's death heightened tensions in Baton Rouge, where about 200 protesters were arrested over the weekend. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore said his office reviewed initial police reports on 185 arrests between July 8-11 and determined it will not prosecute roughly 100 of those cases.

Moore said they involve protesters who were arrested only on misdemeanor charges of obstruction of a roadway or public passage. DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, was among them. Moore said his office is reviewing the rest of the arrests, which include allegations such as resisting arrest, carrying guns or some "act of violence."
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SHEILA BURKE Jul-16-2016 174 0
A former Vanderbilt football player was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of taking part in the gang rape of an unconscious female student.

Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins handed down the sentence for Cory Batey after the victim in the case said her life has been shattered as a result of the rape.

The woman was a neuroscience and economics major when she was assaulted in a dorm on the Nashville campus in June of 2013. In all, four former football players were charged. The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual assault.

The players used their cellphones to take pictures of the rape. One also videoed it and sent the footage to friends as it was happening.

The victim said she learned of what happened to her when detectives showed her the graphic images retrieved from the phones.

During her victim impact statement, she described the horror she felt seeing the images of herself.

"I've seen with my own eyes what I was when Mr. Batey was done with me: a piece of trash, face down in a hallway, covered in his urine and palm prints, a photograph he took himself," the woman said. "There are no words to describe the horror of the images from that night and how it feels to watch yourself be dehumanized."

She wept throughout much of her statement as she described how her life and her belief in the fundamental goodness of people were both upended with the discovery of what happened to her.

The victim has had to testify at multiple trials, and Batey's high-profile status and the international attention the case received left her in constant fear of being known as the victim. As a result, she said she feels the attack on her continues throughout every new court proceeding.

"Everything the defendant has done in this case and the media circus surrounding it have been a continuous disruption, repeatedly dragging me back every single step I try to take forward," she said. "I can only feel that the defendant has intentionally wanted this to be as tortuous for me as possible."

The sentencing comes amid widespread furor over a Stanford University swimmer who was sentenced to six months in jail for a similar crime: sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on a college campus.

In Tennessee, the judge did not have the discretion to give Batey a lighter sentence. Batey was convicted in April of aggravated rape, which carries a sentence of 15 to 25 years.

Prosecutors asked for the maximum, saying the crime was particularly egregious and that the punishment would send a message about campus rapes.

Prosecutors have said Batey urinated on the woman and made a racial statement at the end of the attack. Batey is African-American and the woman is white. One of the four former players is also white. They did not say what the statement was.

The victims said Batey violated her sexually in multiple ways, but it didn't end there.

"Mr. Batey continued to abuse and degrade me, urinating on my face while uttering horrific racial hate speech that suggested I deserved what he was doing to me because of the color of my skin."

Batey, a 22-year-old who grew up in Nashville, apologized to the victim and to his family and mother. He also apologized to Vanderbilt University. He testified at one of his trials that he was drunk and blacked out at the time of the rape.

"My mother and family did not raise me in any way to mistreat anyone, let alone a woman, as I have been raised predominantly by women," Batey told the court. "I hope that if not today, maybe one day, you will find it in your heart to forgive me for any damages that I may have caused."

Batey and Brandon Vandenburg were convicted last year, but the verdicts were tossed because a juror did not reveal he was a victim of statutory rape. They have both been convicted a second time. Two other players are awaiting trial.

In handing down his sentence, Judge Watkins said the case stood out among the thousands he has seen in 32 years of practicing law.

"I've seen so many cases, and this is one of the saddest," Watkins said.
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