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Chinese National Pleads Guilty to Smuggling US Arms

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A 28-year-old Chinese citizen pleaded guilty Wednesday to a plot to illegally export U.S. sensors.

Bo Cai planned to export defense articles made for military purposes to China, according to offcials. He and his cousin, 29-year-old Wentong Cai, plotted to take the technology without a license to give in order to give to a customer.

The sensors, orginally created for sale to the U.S. Department of Defense, were intended for use in motion control systems. Cai admitted that from March 2012 to December 2013, Bo Cai enlisted the help of his cousin to acquire the products under the cover that he would use the sensors at Iowa State Univeristy for academic purposes.

Wentong Cai was a Chinese citizen in the country under a student visa at the time of the incident.

Bo Cai obtained a sensor from undercover agents in New Mexico, then developed plans to smuggle the product out of the country. He was arrested in December 2013 before boarding a flight to China.

“It is a top priority for the Justice Department and the District of New Mexico to protect our national security and our technology from disclosure to foreign governments," U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said.  "This prosecution demonstrates the federal law enforcement community’s commitment to safeguarding our nation’s military secrets by keeping America’s critical technology from falling into the wrong hands.”

Bo Cai faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted. His cousin, who was arrested in January 2014, pleaded not guilty.

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Researchers Return to Real World After Four Months on 'Mars'

iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- Six researchers who have been living in a mock-up Mars habitat on a Hawaiian volcano returned to the real world Friday, feeling a breeze and hearing birds for the first time in four months.

The second Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation mission, known as HI-SEAS, ended 120 days of the Red Planet exploration on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano.

Expedition leader Casey Stedman and his five crew members had been living inside their 1,000-square-foot solar-powered dome, which includes common areas such as kitchen, dining room, bathroom with shower, lab and exercise space.

“I haven’t seen a tree, smelled the train, heard a bird, or felt wind on my skin in four months,” Stedman posted on his Instagram account.

The crew have been cooking with dehydrated food that doesn’t require refrigerated food and venturing out of the dome only for simulated spacewalks in mock spacesuits.

“It’s really great to taste fresh fruit and vegetables again,” Stedman told ABC News on Friday.

“The main purpose of the project is to learn about the problems that might occur to crew members if they went to Mars,” Kimberly Binsted, principal investigator of the project, told ABC News.

Binsted said crew members have to deal with disagreements and conflicts with each other, and solve depression and anxiety.

“It’s not like if you have a problem with someone, you can go out for a run in a park on Mars,” Binsted said. “You have to get along with each other in a very small space.”

Not only were the members confined physically, they couldn'tt surf the internet to kill time either.

“Communication with the outside world has a 20-minute delay each way,” Binsted said. “So one click on the internet will take 40 minutes to refresh.”

Binsted said one of the technologies tested in the past four months is a device that detects the voice and proximity between two crew members.

“It was a really good experience,” Stedman said. “The first thing I wanted to do after I come outside was to squint.”

“We had little direct contact to the sun in the past four months,” Stedman said. “We wear our spacesuits when we go out, and the masks cover most of our face.”

“There weren’t really altercations among the crew,” Stedman said. “But even in a family vacation, you disagree with someone over something.”

Stedman said most disagreements were about procedures to get things accomplished.

“We all come from different backgrounds, so we have different interpretation of data,” Stedman said.

Stedman said he found sun dried tomatoes taste really good with mustard during the past four months.

“We have the dried and ground tomato powder,” Steadman said. “You can make a paste out of it.”

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Woman, Kids Evicted After Renting House from Fake Owner

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- An Atlanta woman who said she was duped into renting a house from a fake homeowner has been evicted along with her children.

“I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say,” Lyna McNeil told ABC News affiliate WSB-TV after she was forced to abruptly move out Thursday evening.

McNeil has eight children, but at least one of her kids is an adult. It's not clear how many were living with her in the house.

Animal control officers were also on the scene, taking the family dogs because they no longer had a home.

“Animal Control came and took our dogs,” said McNeil, “The children are crying because they’re taking our dogs."

Animal Control did not return calls to ABC News.

McNeil's furniture and belongings were stacked in the yard Thursday evening and she spent the night in her car while her children stayed with friends, WSB-TV reported.

McNeil said that she moved into the northwest Atlanta neighborhood after renting the Caron Circle home from a man named “Shawn,” under the agreement that she would pay $750 a month after making minor repairs, WSB-TV reported.

After moving in, McNeil says she was contacted by the real homeowner, identified only as Mr. Carr, demanding that she and her eight children leave the house.

“I have offered to pay him rent. I’ve offered to pay him security deposits, but he doesn’t want that,” McNeil told the station.

The homeowner filed an intruder affidavit with the Superior Court of Fulton County demanding that McNeil be out by Thursday, a representative from the Fulton County Sheriff’s department told ABC News. Officers arrived at the scene “to keep the peace while the order was executed,” said the representative, who said the sheriff’s department could not comment on the issue any further.

A neighbor of the family told ABC News that the house the McNeils were living in had been empty for as long as she could remember, and the house had never been up for sale.

“I just don’t understand how somebody could rent a place that’s not theirs,” said the neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous.

“They were nice and polite,” the neighbor said of the McNeils. “I pray things work out for her.”

WSB-TV reports that McNeil is getting a lot of support from the community in finding a home.

McNeil could not be immediately reached by ABC News for comment.

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One Dead in Pennsylvania Hospital Shootout

iStock/Thinkstock(DARBY, Penn.) -- A patient opened fire at a hospital campus in Pennsylvania on Thursday, killing his case worker and wounding a psychiatrist, according to police.

District Attorney Jack Whelan announced charges Friday against Richard Plotts, the suspect in the deadly shootout in Darby.

Plotts had an appointment with his doctor, Lee Silverman, scheduled for 2:30 p.m., but showed up about an hour earlier.

Silverman had the suspect's case worker, Theresa Hunt, meet him and the patient in the office. According to the doctor, Plotts was agitated, refusing to sit down. He removed the gun from his waistband and start to rant, then pointed the weapon at Hunt and shot her in the head.

In response, Silverman said he pulled out a semi-automatic gun he had in the office, and returned fire with the suspect. The doctor was shot through his thumb as he was covering his face, and was also grazed in the head, according to officials. He was treated and released Thursday night.

Another doctor and caseworker wrestled with Plotts to subdue him until police arrived.

The patient was found with an additional 39 bullets, which authorities believe indicate that he was going to reload and shoot others.

Plotts criminal history dates back to 1990 and he is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

"If it wasn't for the heroic action of the doctor and the case worker, we believe he was there and going to reload that revolver, and continue to fire and continue to kill," Whelan said.

Officials believe Plotts had an issue with a rule that banned guns from the medical facility.

He is being treated for his injuries, including two gun wounds to the stomach, and is sedated, according to Whelan.

The District Attorney's Office is in the process of charging him with murder and the attempted murder of Silverman.

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Mom Who Left Kids in Car for Job Interview Glad for 'Second Chance'

Scottsdale Police Department(PHOENIX) -- The Arizona mom arrested after leaving her kids in a hot car while she went on a job interview said she's "extremely grateful" for a second chance, a week after reaching a deal with prosecutors that would drop criminal charges against her.

"Not many people get the opportunity that I have, so I'm grateful," Shanesha Taylor, 35, told ABC News Friday.

The mom left her two young sons, 2 years and 6 months old, alone in her SUV with the fan on and the windows rolled down in March during her interview in Scottsdale for a job Taylor says the family desperately needed. Taylor told police she was homeless at the time and hadn't been able to find a babysitter for the boys.

Taylor couldn't say if she would do it again.

"That's a difficult decision because I was basically choosing between caring for my children or providing for my children. That's something people face every day," she said.

Taylor didn't get the job she was seeking, but her plight prompted an outpouring of support and financial donations from strangers.

Taylor and her attorney Benjamin Taylor (the two are not related) reached an agreement with Maricopa County Bill Montgomery's office last Friday that will allow her to avoid prosecution if she meets several conditions.

"She will take 26 weeks of parenting classes and set up a trust fund for her children," Benjamin Taylor said. "That's the main agreement. Once everything is completed, which it will be, then they will officially dismiss the case."

The attorney's office confirmed that those conditions are part of the deal, but elaborated that Shanesha Taylor must take a minimum of 26 weeks of parenting classes. It could be up to 52 weeks, they said, determined by a judge based on a report from the adult probation department.

The next hurdle is getting her kids back, who are under supervision of Child Protective Services, according to her attorney, who is working pro bono. They have a court date in late August.

Taylor currently has weekend visitation rights to see her three children, the two sons and a 9-year-old daughter who was in school on the day of her arrest. She remembers that day as a nightmare.

"It was a good moment when I walked out of the interview and once I saw the police, and the scene, it was devastating," Taylor said. "My mind went from, I had just secured what I needed to to take care of my family, to, oh my gosh, what's going to happen to my family?"

Bystanders had reported seeing the kids left in the car, police said.

One witness said the youngest boy was crying and sweating. Temperatures in the SUV had exceeded 100 degrees.

Taylor said she thought they would be OK, and had no other choice.

"It was a moment of trying to do the right thing," she said. "I previously scheduled care that didn't come through, so I had to make a spur of the moment decision. I had to make a decision based out of desperation."

Her story -- and her tearful mugshot -- garnered sympathy from supporters who raised more than $114,000 for Taylor's family. Taylor said she's using the money to rent a house in Phoenix and start a trust funds for her kids, per the attorney's deal.

Her sons are too young to grasp why their mom is gone, but her 9-year-old daughter understands, Taylor said.

"It's a difficult balance trying to explain to her that sometimes people do things wrong, and sometimes they have to go to jail," she said. "But at the same time, she knows my intentions and how I am as a mother. She knows I do my best."

Taylor hopes her case sheds light on other parents who struggle to find work and provide for their kids.

"Parents have to make decisions: Do I keep this job, or do I get rid of this job because I can't afford daycare?" she said. "People are struggling."

Soon Taylor will begin looking for work again -- perhaps something in finance or administration -- but she's also interested in starting a nonprofit for parents like her.

"People need that one place they can go to receive help," she said. "Right now, they don't know where to go."

But for now, Taylor is just grateful to avoid being tried on felony abuse charges.

"I was given a second chance and my children were given a future," she said.

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Foster Dad Arrested in Toddler's Hot Car Death

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WICHITA, Kan.) -- A foster parent was arrested Friday in the death of a 10-month-old girl who had been left for hours in a hot car, according to Wichita, Kansas police.

Police officers got a call reporting a baby left on the backseat inside a car just before 7 p.m. on Thursday.

“We arrived on scene just a little before 7 p.m. on Thursday night,” Wichita Police Department spokesperson Lt. Dan East told ABC News. “The girl was unconscious and unresponsive.”

“She was sitting in the back seat of the car,” East said.

The child was pronounced dead minutes after paramedics arrived on the scene, according to a police report by the Wichita Police Department.

The foster child was in the care of two men, who were questioned by police on Thursday night.

“To our knowledge, the two men have four foster children,” East said. “One 5-year-old and one 7-year-old have been taken from the home and put in protective custody.”

“The 29-year-old dad picked up the girl from the babysitter and left her in the car,” he said.

“The two men were watching TV when the foster dad saw something that reminded him of the girl, and he ran outside and got the child out," East added. "They appeared really upset when we arrived on scene."

Shortly before 1 a.m. Friday, police officers arrested the 29-year-old, Seth Jackson, for aggravated child endangerment. The second man, 26, was not arrested.

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Man Who Killed Neighbor over Tree-Trimming Feud Has No Regrets

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ENCINITAS, Calif.) -- From inside the California jail where he is awaiting sentencing, Michael Vilkin said that given the chance, he would not change anything about the day he killed his neighbor John Upton.

“I’m not a kind of person who, if you spit in my face, I will not…just turn around and leave,” Vilkin, 62, told ABC News’ 20/20. “And Upton was, figuratively speaking, spitting in my face the whole year.”

A jury found him guilty of murder in the first-degree and assault with a deadly weapon last month. He faces 25 years to life in prison for the first-degree murder charge.

Vilkin and Upton, 56, had been arguing for over a year about Vilkin’s landscaping efforts on his property in Encinitas, California. The focus of their dispute was a narrow strip of land on Vilkin’s property in front of Upton’s rental home, where Vilkin was attempting to clear Brazilian pepper-trees.

“I wanted to clear the land from the wood and to build a house there,” Vilkin said.

On March 28, 2013, the neighbors’ dispute took a fatal turn. Vilkin shot Upton while he was outside on Vilkin's driveway, first in his midsection and then in his head.

Upton, a documentary filmmaker and philanthropist, was profiled on ABC News’ 20/20 in 1993 for his mission to rescue hundreds of deformed Romanian orphans. But while friends and family saw him as a hero, Vilkin said he was afraid of Upton.

“No, he did not [raise a hand at me]. But I was afraid of him, really afraid because he was roaring at me, he was yelling at me,” Vilkin said. “He acted like a gangster, like a tough guy, like a Mafioso. I believe that he was a Mafioso.”

Vilkin told police he believed Upton was carrying a gun and shot him in self-defense, but police found no evidence of a second gun at the scene.

“I was shooting. I did not aim. It was very close,” Vilkin said. “I expected to act in self-defense.”

Having already spent 18 months in jail, Vilkin said he will appeal the jury’s decision, saying his lawyer was incompetent.

“I’m always hopeful,” Vilkin said, “unless I see a pistol in your hand. Then I will shoot you in one second.”

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Investigators Solve Mystery of Porcelain Dolls Left on Doorsteps

Orange County Sheriff's Department(SAN CLEMENTE, Calif.) -- Investigators in California say they've solved a strange case involving porcelain dolls being left on the doorsteps of girls they hold an eerie resemblance to.

At least eight families received the dolls in the Talega community of San Clemente, with all of the girls targeted around 10 years old.

Families began filing police reports about the dolls as early as June 16. Initially, police didn’t have a crime to investigate. But as the mystery grew – and as the families learned of the other dolls – authorities began examining the dolls and meeting with the impacted families, trying to find patterns.

According to a press release issued late Thursday by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the investigation focused on a woman who attends church with many of the families who found the dolls.

“Investigators made contact with the female adult who admitted to placing the porcelain dolls on the porch of the various residences in the community. Investigators have concluded that her motivation was out of goodwill and that she intended it as a kind gesture,” the press release states.

The woman was only trying to give away toys her own family had outgrown, police said Friday.

Lt. Jeff Hallock added that the woman is now mortified by the media attention after news organizations picked up the story about how creepy dolls had mysteriously appeared.

"She was embarrassed and I think a little scared that something she intended to be a good-will gesture turned into something that was terrifying the community for a short time," Hallock said.

The woman, who police haven't named, even tried to match the girls with dolls that looked like them.

"She tried to pick dolls that resembled girls who lived there," he said. "In her mind, her motivation was purely kindness. It was meant as a good-will gesture. In retrospect, I think she wishes she would have left a note."

Hallock said the woman might simply have been cleaning out a closet and trying to get rid of the toys in a nice way, but added that the investigation is over since police confirmed she had no bad intentions.

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Tornado Kills Couple, Injures Son at Virginia Campground

iStock/Thinkstock(NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, Va.) -- Police have identified a couple who were killed in their tent by a tornado that ripped through a packed campground on the eastern shore of Virginia early Thursday, injuring two dozen people.

Ferocious winds twisted trailers and mangled trees as golf ball-sized hail rained on more than 1,300 panicked vacationers huddling for safety at the Cherrystone Family Camping Ground and RV Resort in Northampton, Virginia.

During a news conference Thursday, Virginia State Police said a tree had fallen on one tent, killing husband and wife Lord Balatbat and Lolabeth Ortega, both 38, and critically injuring their 13-year-old son, who was in a nearby tent. The family was visiting from Jersey City, New Jersey.

“We’re in a 37-foot motorhome and it started rolling back and forth and we’re hearing stuff slamming,” said Jerry Kennett.

Northampton County had been under a tornado warning until 9 a.m.

Winds up to 100 miles per hour snapped trees and flipped a tractor-trailer. After surveying the damage, the National Weather Service confirmed it was an EF-1 tornado.

“All the sudden, the wind started picking up, hail [the] size of golf balls … and you could see the wind spinning and it would change direction,” said Peyton Asal. “I mean, we were in the eye of this tornado. … It was scary.”

A total of 38 people were taken to hospitals with broken bones, lacerations and cuts.

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Marine's Wife Miscarried Months Before She Went Missing, Friend Says

Courtesy Corwin Family(TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif.) -- The wife of a Marine who vanished nearly one month ago had suffered a miscarriage a few months before her disappearance, a close friend said. She was pregnant again at the time she was reported missing, according to police.

Police said Erin Corwin was last seen on June 28 before telling her husband she was going on a hike in Joshua Tree National Park. She did not return home that evening and her husband, Jonathan, called police the next day.

Authorities are investigating the possibility that Corwin was having an affair with her married neighbor and was pregnant with his child, according to a police search warrant.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office is continuing its investigation, but conversations with a longtime friend of Erin's and a ranch owner that she spent time with in recent months provides a look into her day-to-day life.

Erin, who turned 20 last week while she was still missing, loved riding horses both in California, where she and her husband moved to last year, and in her home state of Tennessee.

"She loved her horses and loved her family," her longtime friend Brooke Phillips told ABC News.

"She just always was laughing and having fun and trying to cheer people up," Phillips added.

The pair kept in touch when Corwin and her husband moved to Twentynine Palms, a military base in California's Yucca Valley.

In January, Corwin announced on Facebook that she was pregnant, tagging her husband and accepting friends' congratulations in the comments. Her sister confirmed to ABC News that it was the couple's first child.

Phillips said that she spoke to Corwin about the subsequent miscarriage, though she was not exactly sure when Corwin found out.

"She was really sad about it. She wanted kids. She loves kids and she thought she was really positive about it, like 'Sure, the time will come when I have kids,'" Phillips said.

According to police, that time came soon. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department confirmed in news release on Tuesday that she was pregnant when she disappeared.

A search warrant released by the office earlier in the investigation details how they came to suspect that the father of her unborn child may be her neighbor, another Marine named Christopher Lee.

The lengthy probable cause statement was initially released by the sheriff's office but they are now refusing to comment on the findings they included in the report.

The probable cause statement, which was filed in conjunction with a search warrant for a U-Haul truck that was being used by Lee and his wife during the investigation, details how police spoke to a good friend of Corwin's who said that Corwin was having an affair with Lee, and that Corwin "may be pregnant with Lee's child." Lee, who is now a reservist in the Marines, could not be immediately reached for comment by ABC News.

"Erin told [her friend] that Lee was worried if his wife discovered Erin was pregnant, Lee's wife would divorce him and keep him from his child," the probable cause statement reads.

Corwin's sister told ABC News that she had not spoken to her about this second pregnancy before her disappearance.

According to the probable cause statement, a different friend of Corwin's said that Corwin had told her that Lee had planned a "special day together" as a "celebration for Erin's pregnancy" that included a hunting trip.

Investigators went on to say in the official report: "It is highly likely Erin could have been harmed by an unknown firearm."

That same report says that Lee initially told investigators he knew Corwin only as an acquaintance, but later said that they "had previously kissed each other but never had sexual intercourse."

The police lay out a timeline where Corwin had told her husband that she was going to be at Joshua Tree National Park, 10 miles away from their home, for the same amount of time that Lee was scheduled to be hunting in the same park, but he told investigators that he did not see Corwin on the day she disappeared, June 28.

Her car was found abandoned a few minutes' drive from Twentynine Palms, the neighborhood where both Lee and Corwin live, and police said that they saw a single set of footprints going from her abandoned vehicle to a set of tire marks that were consistent with the tires of Lee's Jeep Cherokee.

Police do not have any official suspects or persons of interest in the case. Lee was arrested during the investigation because police discovered that he owned a potato launcher, which is classified as an illegal destructive device, and he is out on bond for that charge.

"Although suspicious circumstances have existed from the inception of this investigation there is still not enough evidence to rule out that Erin Corwin could be voluntarily missing," the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in its Tuesday statement.

The case is ongoing and remains a missing persons investigation.

"We are looking for a crime scene," Sheriff Department’s Specialized Investigation Division Capt. Leland Boldt said.

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New Jersey Woman to Share $20 Million Lottery Jackpot with 19 Relatives

iStock/Thinkstock(OCEAN COUNTY, N.J.) -- A New Jersey woman who hit the $20-million Pick-6 jackpot said she plans to share the winnings with 19 relatives.

Sigrid Endreson said she has played the lottery for years, continuing a routine that her mother kept. She willl split the jackpot with 16 of her siblings, aged between 53 and 76 years old, and three children of a brother who died a few years ago.

The split is not equal but is based on her mother’s wishes, Endreson said.

Endreson said her mother, Flossie Endreson, always dreamed of winning the lottery and sharing the winnings among the family. After she died in 2004 at the age of 85, the siblings gathered and collected funds to cover her funeral expenses.

When Sigrid Endreson discovered there were remaining finances from the collection, she said she decided to start up the lottery pool for her mother. Ten years later, the mother’s dream came true -- Endreson hit the jackpot.

“There were three or four family members that have lost their homes in Sandy,” family spokeswoman Marie McHenry said in a news conference Thursday. The brother "who lost his life [was] a dedicated state worker and father."

“It couldn’t come at a better time. It really couldn’t,” McHenry said.

Sigrid Endreson chose the lump sum option, so the actual prize is $14,158,641. She will get about $10 million after taxes.

The ticket, with one game board purchased for $1, was bought at a local 7-Eleven in Ocean County, New Jersey.


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NYC Deputy Mayor on 'Chokehold' Case: This Time Is Different

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It’s New York City’s ugliest roll call: Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Anthony Baez -- the litany of men of color injured and killed at the hands of New York City cops.

A week ago, yet another name -- Eric Garner -- was added to that list.

But with Bill de Blasio, a police critic and unabashed liberal, now sitting in the mayor’s office, it was supposed to be different. New York was supposed to be different.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, the man in charge of managing the current NYPD crisis insisted that this time around it is different.

“Things are very different,” said Anthony Shorris, the first deputy mayor. “Over the last six months, this administration has entirely changed the entire nature of police-community relations.”

Sitting in the ornate Blue Room at City Hall, Shorris acknowledged that there is still a lot to do in eliminating the gulf that separates New York City’s minority communities from the NYPD.

But in the first seven months of de Blasio’s term, Shorris said, the administration has started putting the city back together. More than anything, he said, that’s why there has been no unrest or violence in the wake of Garner’s death in NYPD custody last Thursday.

“It’s about building bridges between police and communities across New York,” Shorris said.

Unlike his predecessors, de Blasio and his top aides wasted no time in condemning the videotaped incident in which Garner was apparently choked by a cop as two plainclothes officers tried to arrest him for selling loose cigarettes.

“This was a tragedy and there’s no question that what happened to Eric Garner here was troubling to everybody,” Shorris said, echoing earlier comments by de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. “What we need to do is to honor Eric Garner’s memory. ... We have to make sure this doesn’t happen again and that’s the most significant action we can take.”

In the wake of Garner’s death, Bratton announced a sweeping program of retraining every one of New York’s 35,000 cops so they understand the proper way to use force and make arrests when suspects resist.

But there also are differences between de Blasio and his predecessors, Mike Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani, that are less obvious.

What hasn’t been advertised is the way de Blasio and Shorris have made the quiet plays behind the scenes at City Hall. Chief among those moves was bringing community leader the Rev. Al Sharpton into the mix.

Instead of waiting for Sharpton to go after City Hall, officials used their close ties to Sharpton to keep him calm and informed from the start, according to one official briefed on the administration’s efforts.

While the new administration’s approach has pleased some, cops and their supporters are not pleased with the note being struck at City Hall.

“Look, I agree it’s a tragedy, but you never want to jump to conclusions,” said retired NYPD Sgt. Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. “No matter who’s in charge, the police department never wants someone to say something in public that could sway the investigation.”

And, as for Sharpton, Giacalone said police reaction is simple: “He should not be consulted on anything. Cops look at him as a self-appointed ambassador. He’s not an activist; he’s an opportunist.”

Nevertheless, worried that the Garner death could cripple the fledgling administration if handled badly, City Hall went into full crisis mode. A war room was established. Emergency updates began pouring in. Staffers went sent to see Garner’s family. The mayor got on the phone as did his top aides.

“The administration is marshaling its resources at every level to ensure that we are strengthening the relationship between community and police in New York City in all of our neighborhoods.” That was the talking point handed to de Blasio and senior staff, who kept repeating it.

Bottom line, Shorris said, what happened in the last week is new for New York City because City Hall recognized the passion on the street and in minority communities and channeled it.

“We need to understand what happened and make sure what happened never happens again,” Shorris said.

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Six Ways Parents Can Save Their Kids from Deadly Hot Cars

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Alert passersby in a Philadelphia parking lot may have saved a life this week when they noticed an infant trapped in the heat of a locked car. The Good Samaritans, seen on cellphone video, called first responders who rescued the child, and took its parent into custody.

But with the United States entering the deep summer months, too many families have been less fortunate: a sobering 17 children have died of heatstroke in vehicles so far this year and likely more will come.

An average of 39 U.S. children have died per year since 2003, according to a San Francisco State University study. Over half were simply forgotten by their caretakers.

On Thursday, the Department of Transportation is urging new parents to remember these ways they can avoid a tragedy:

  • Never leave a child alone in a parked car, even with the windows rolled down or air conditioning turned on. Air conditioning can fail, and cracked windows may not be adequate to protect a child whose body temperature rises three to five times faster than adults.
  • Always look in both the front and back of the vehicle before locking the door and walking away.
  • Outdoor temperatures as low as 57 degrees can still be fatal over time. On an 80-degree day, a car can reach fatal levels in just 10 minutes.
  • Think of some ways to remind yourself about your child in the back seat. Put something you always keep on you, like your cellphone or purse, next to them, to remind you to turn around before getting out. Have a cellphone with an alarm clock? Set an alert.
  • Make sure their day care or school knows to call you if they do not show up. Or call your partner or spouse after you drop your child off with them to make sure you didn’t forget.
  • Never let children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them it is not a play area.

At a Washington day care center Thursday morning, a DOT demonstration emphasized the point. Under dark, overcast skies threatening rain, and a comfortable 75 degrees, a parked sedan reached 94 degrees within an hour.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told families, day care workers and media that he wanted to erase the perception that such deaths are an accident that “happens to other people in other places.”

“A lot of times [as a parent] you’re tired. You’re overwhelmed. You’re stressed out. You’ve got lots of things to think about,” he said, “and in some cases your mind just isn’t functioning as sharply as you’d otherwise want it to.”

“Parents just forget to look into the backseat, especially when their routines change, and bad things happen,” he added.

Foxx was joined by a Reggie McKinnon, a father whose infant daughter died in such a tragedy when he forgot her for four hours after picking her up from a doctor’s appointment and returning to work. He now says he honors her by educating others on heatstroke.

“Before [my] accident, every time I would read of a child dying in a parked car of heatstroke, I would ask, ‘How could they forget their child? I would never do that. That only happens to people who are uneducated, drunk, drug addicts, not me,’” he said, holding back tears. “And I couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

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Family of Victims Shows No Sympathy at Killer's Execution

0iStock/Thinkstock(FLORENCE, Ariz.) -- The family of two people murdered by a man sentenced to the death penalty by lethal injection showed no remorse when his execution dragged on for nearly two hours.

Jeanne Brown watched from the gallery at the Arizona State Prison Complex as Joseph Rudolph Wood, who shot her sister and father dead in 1989, died on Wednesday. She angrily brushed off his attorneys' complaints that Wood suffered during the execution.

"You don't know what excruciating is," Brown told the media after Wood was pronounced dead. "Excruciating is seeing your dad lying there in a pool of blood, seeing your sister lying there in a pool of blood. That's excruciating. This man deserved it."

Her husband added that the convicted killer smiled at the family before succumbing to the drugs.

"It's not just about him," Richard Brown said. "It's about other people that suffered, that are still suffering. He smiled and laughed at us and then went to sleep."

State doctors said Wood didn't suffer, but his attorneys claimed he did.

"It took Joseph Wood two hours to die, and he gasped and struggled to breathe for about an hour and 40 minutes," attorney Dale Baich, who witnessed the execution, said in a statement, adding that Arizona now joins the list of states responsible for a "bungled execution."

Witnesses described watching Wood gasp like a fish and hearing sounds similar to snoring. A doctor checked Wood a few times during the procedure and confirmed that he was sedated, witnesses said.

Wood's case is the latest in a growing debate about the efficiency of the death penalty by lethal injections. One federal judge recently suggested a firing squad would be a more "foolproof" method.

But Jeanne and Andrew Brown don't care about the drug discussion. They're just glad Wood is dead.

"Everybody is worried about the drug," Andrew Brown said. "These people that do this, they deserve to suffer a little bit."

"I saw the life go out of my sister-in-law's eye as he shot her to death," he added. "I'm so sick of you guys blowing this drug stuff out of proportion."

Jeanne Brown said Wednesday marked the end of a long, painful journey for her family.

"Nobody sees the real picture of what took place in the last 25 years," she said. "Everyone is more worried about: Did he suffer? Who really suffered is my dad and my sister, when they [were] killed."

However, death penalty foes have argued, capital offenders should not suffer because the U.S. Bill of Rights bars "cruel and unusual punishments."

“Today the state of Arizona broke the Eighth Amendment, the First Amendment, and the bounds of basic decency," said Cassandra Stubbs, director of the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project, in a written statement after the execution. "Joseph Wood suffered cruel and unusual punishment when he was apparently left conscious long after the drugs were administered.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said justice was served with Wood's execution, but has ordered a review of what happened.

"I am concerned by the length of time it took for the administered drug protocol to complete the lawful execution of the convicted double murderer Joseph Wood," Brewer said in a statement. "While justice was carried out today, I directed the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of the process."

"One thing is certain, however, inmate Wood died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer," she said. "This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims -- and the lifetime of suffering he has caused their family."

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'Porch Shooting' Suspect Says He Shot Unarmed Teen 'By Accident'

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- The suburban Detroit man accused of fatally shooting Renisha McBride told police he didn't know his gun was loaded and said he shot the unarmed teen by accident, according to a recording played to jurors Thursday.

"What happened here?" Sgt. Rory McManmon asked, according to the recording that was played by prosecutors in the second-degree murder trial of Theodore Wafer.

"A consistent knocking on the door, and I'm trying to look through the windows, but every time I look through the windows and the door it's banging somewhere else," Wafer said on the recording. "So I open up the door, kind of like who is this? And the gun discharged."

"I didn't know there was a round in there," he tells McManmon on the recording. "I don't get it. Who's knocking on your door at 4:30 in the morning? Bang, bang, bang -- somebody wanting in."

Wafer, 54, who is white, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of McBride, 19, who is black, after she showed up on his porch in Dearborn Heights during the early morning of Nov. 2, 2013.

Valentine Peppers, a 911 operator with the Dearborn Heights Police Department, told the jury that Wafer told him the same story. Peppers said he called Wafer back after his initial 911 call in order to get more information for the responding authorities.

However, Peppers said that call was not recorded because it was outgoing.

Photos of the crime scene, including several of McBride's lifeless body, were also shown to jurors Thursday afternoon.

McBride was shot in the face, falling on her back, with her feet facing Wafer's door.

The photos were overwhelming for family members gathered in the courtroom. McBride's mother and several other loved ones became visibly emotional and had to walk out of the courtroom when the pictures were shown.

Defense attorneys in court tried to prove investigators mishandled -- or waited too long to collect -- evidence in the days after the shooting, in an effort to show it is unclear what McBride's intentions were on Wafer's porch that night.

On Wednesday, the prosecution and the defense presented their opening arguments, where prosecutor Danielle Hagaman-Clark argued that McBride had played a drinking game with her friend earlier that night, crashed her car and may have been seeking medical help for a cut on her head.

Wafer's defense said his client had "never been this scared in his life, ever" after hearing a series of booms and saw a shadowy figure outside his home.

"He hears metal breaking on his front door. Ted hears it. He's thinking, 'They're coming in. They're breaking into my house,'" defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter said.

Whether Wafer's screen door was torn from a break-in attempt or if it was damaged from the bullets he allegedly fired at McBride will be a crucial question in the case.

Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, a homeowner has the right to use force during a break-in. Otherwise, a person must prove his or her life was in danger.

The jury of seven men and seven women, including two alternates, will decide the case. Four of the jurors are black.

After two full days of testimony, the trial adjourned for the weekend and will resume Monday morning.

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