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Man who murdered sister as teen wants record wiped clean

A Skagit County man who was convicted of murdering his 8-year-old sister in 2001 will go before a judge Thursday in hopes of wiping the conviction from his record. 

Steven Rickards filed a motion to seal records and vacate his conviction as a juvenile offender. 

>> Read more trending news

On Nov. 14, 2001, Rickards admitted to investigators with the Mount Vernon Police Department that he stabbed his sister, Samantha, nearly 20 times inside their Mount Vernon, Washington, home, according to an arrest report. Rickards told police he then placed his sister’s body inside a freezer. 

The teen explained to investigators that voices in his head told him to kill his sister. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and treated for mental health issues, according to court documents. 

Rickards, who is now 29, says he has been working hard to better himself after his release. Court documents say he’s working as a licensed electrician. He says he’s trying to pass a background check in order to become a licensed hearing instrument specialist. 

Skagit County prosecutor Richard Weyrich released a statement regarding Rickards’ request, saying his office is “sensitive to juveniles being able to rehabilitate themselves and have their records sealed but this is not one of those cases.”

Weyrich hopes to ask the Legislature in the upcoming session to correct what he considers a mistake in the wording of the current statute.

It has been 16 years since the brutal crime occurred and the people who live in Mt. Vernon still want answers. 

Hollie Van Esch’s grandparents lived next door to the Rickards at the time of the murder. She told KIRO Samantha would often visit the house.

“She was just the sweetest girl,” Van Esch said. “She used to come over and help my grandma with meals for my grandpa.”

Van Esch said people still stop by the home and ask her about what happened.

“It’s heartbreaking to sit there and know, what happened in that house,” she said. “We just never understood. We wanted to know, why did he do it?”

Memories of Samantha, her childhood friend, still hit home.

“It’s still in the back of my mind all the time. To this day, it’s shocking that something like this could hold on so strong,” Van Esch said.

Rickards’ hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Skagit County Superior Court in Mount Vernon, Washington.

Woman shot in Las Vegas massacre sues bump stock maker, hotel, festival organizer

A California college student filed suit Tuesday against the manufacturer of devices that enabled a gunman to rapidly rain bullets on a crowd gathered for a country music festival in Las Vegas earlier this month after she was seriously injured in the deadly attack.

>> Read more trending news

Also named in the suit were MGM Resorts International, Mandalay Corp., Live Nation Entertainment Inc. and the estate of Stephen Paddock, the man who turned a gun on himself after killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more in the Oct. 1 attack. 

Las Vegas police said Paddock, 64, opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest music festival from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel.

Investigators said they found 12 rifles in his room that were fitted with bump stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at nearly the rate of automatic guns.

>> Read the latest on the Las Vegas shootings

Paige Gasper, 21, was wounded in Paddock’s attack. A bullet hit her in her right underarm and traveled through her chest, shattering her ribs and lacerating her liver, according to the suit filed Tuesday in Clark County District Court. Friends tried to help her, but were hampered by other fleeing concert-goers, who trampled Gasper in their haste. She was saved by a good Samaritan, who pulled her behind the cover of a dumpster, the suit said. Another stranger drove her to Spring Valley Hospital for treatment.

>> Related: Las Vegas shooting: Remembering the victims

On Tuesday, Gasper sued Slide Fire Solutions, the company that made the bump stocks used by Paddock, on accusations that the company was negligent and its products have design and manufacturing defects, Reuters reported.

Gasper accused MGM Resorts and Mandalay Corp., its subsidiary, of failing to quickly respond to the shooting of Mandalay Bay security officer Jesus Campos, who police said was shot while checking on Paddock six minutes before the 64-year-old commenced his attack. She also accused the companies of failing to monitor Paddock, who brought multiple weapons to the hotel and set up surveillance cameras outside his room.

>> Related: Casino mogul Steve Wynn says Las Vegas shooter would have triggered alarms at his hotels 

“How did the hotel not know about that? Why wasn’t that a red flag?” Michelle Tuegel, an attorney representing Gasper, asked the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The company can talk about hearts and prayers, but this lawsuit is about action and answers. Paige wants answers.”

Gasper said in her lawsuit that Live Nation, the organizer of the Route 91 Harvest music festival, and MGM failed to provide visitors with adequate emergency exits, hampering efforts to escape the massacre.

In a statement released to the Review-Journal, MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong called the Oct. 1 shooting a “meticulously planned, evil, senseless act.”

>>Related: Police: Stephen Paddock shot security guard before firing on Las Vegas concert

“As our company and city work through the healing process, our primary focus and concern is taking actions to support the victims and their families, our guests and employees and cooperating with law enforcement,” DeShong said. “Out of respect for the victims, we are not going to try this case in the public domain and we will give our response through the appropriate legal channels.”

Victor Schwartz, an attorney who specializes in injury cases, told Reuters that it won’t be easy to hold MGM liable for Paddocks’ attack.

“Victims would have to show the company could have foreseen the shooting and take steps to prevent it,” Reuters reported. “That would be difficult for such an extreme event.”

Harvey Weinstein investigations launched in New York, London

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are investigating complaints against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein amid reports that he sexually harassed women for decades, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Police in London told The Guardian on Thursday that a complaint was made against Weinstein on Wednesday and that officers were investigating the report.

The alleged assault took place in the London area in the 1980s, according to BBC News.

In a statement released to Variety magazine, New York police said that officers are working to learn of any additional complaints against Weinstein.

“No filed complaints have been identified as of this time,” police said on Thursday morning.

The reports come amid a slew of sexual assault and harassment allegations against Weinstein, who co-founded entertainment company Miramax. Among Weinstein’s accusers are high-profile Hollywood stars, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd.

>> Related: Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow add to Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment claims 

Women started to come forward after The New York Times published a report last week detailing complaints of sexual harassment made against Weinstein over nearly three decades.

Three women, former aspiring actress Lucia Evans, Italian actress Asia Argento and a woman who was not identified, accused Weinstein of rape in a report published Tuesday by The New Yorker.

>> Related: 3 women accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape: report

Weinstein was ousted from his position at The Weinstein Company on Sunday in the wake of the New York Times report. His wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, said Tuesday that she was leaving Weinstein in light of the allegations. Weinstein said in a statement on Wednesday that he was going to counseling.

He denied the rape allegations in a statement to The New Yorker issued by one of his representatives.

>> Related: Harvey Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman leaving him amid sexual harassment allegations

New York police opened an investigation into Weinstein in 2015, after Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez told officers that she was groped by Weinstein without consent.

Authorities outfitted Gutierrez with a wire and had her meet with the producer. In an audio recording of the meeting published by The New Yorker on Tuesday, Weinstein can be heard apologizing after he’s confronted about the alleged assault.

>> Related: Harvey Weinstein recording was not enough to charge him, DA says

"Why yesterday (did) you touch my breast?" Gutierrez asks in the recording.

"Oh please, I'm sorry,” he answers. “I'm used to that.”

Despite the recording, no charges were filed against Weinstein.

Prosecutors said that they were never consulted about the New York Police Department’s plan to get Weinstein to admit to the assault on tape and that the tape was not enough evidence to convict the 65-year-old. Police defended their actions, saying that the recording was one of multiple bits of evidence collected by officers and presented to the Manhattan District Attorney for prosecution.

White restaurant manager charged with enslaving black cook

A white restaurant manager in South Carolina has been charged with enslaving a black buffet cook for at least five years, according to a federal indictment unsealed this week.

>> Read more trending news 

The cook, Christopher Smith, 39, alleges that he was forced to work up to seven days a week, often for 18 hours a day without breaks, brutally beaten and threatened repeatedly.

Bobby Paul Edwards, 52, is accused in the indictment of using “force, threats of force, physical restraint and coercion” to enslave Smith at J&J Cafeteria in Conway, S.C. Conway is just inland from Myrtle Beach.

Edwards was formally charged with “attempt to establish peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude or human trafficking.” He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of the federal felony of “forced labor,” according to the U.S. attorney general’s Civil Rights Division. He also would have to pay up to a $250,000 fine and full restitution to Smith.

The attorney general notes that the indictment is “merely an accusation” and that Edwards is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. 

Allegations of a brutal enslavement first emerged about two years ago in a civil suit filed on behalf of the cook. The suit, which also names Edwards’s brother, the restaurant’s owner, as a defendant, is pending.

The 2015 complaint alleged that Edwards beat Smith with a frying pan, burned him with tongs that Edwards had dipped into a grease fryer, beat him with his belt buckle and fists and routinely used racial slurs in speaking to him, according to The Post and Courier. Smith, who was paid a salary of less than $3,000, has an intellectual disability, the Post reported.

On one occasion, when Smith was too slow about restocking the buffet, Edwards took Smith into the back of the restaurant and beat him with his belt buckle, according to the Washington Post’s account of the lawsuit.

“Plaintiff was heard crying like a child and yelling, ‘No, Bobby, please!’ After this beating, Defendant Bobby forced Plaintiff to get back to work,” the complaint read, according to the Post.

The Post and Courier said that Smith was forced to live in a roach-infested apartment near the restaurant and at times was so exhausted from working that someone had to feed him. 

Smith told WMBF in Myrtle Beach in 2015 that he began washing dishes after school at J&J when he was 12 years old. He worked there for more than 20 years before Bobby Edwards became the manager in 2010. 

Smith’s lawsuit says he never told anyone of the enslavement because he was afraid Edwards would kill him. The allegations came to light after a waitress told her mother-in-law of the abuse, and the woman went to state social workers.

Read more at WMBF, The Washington Post and The Post and Courier.

Rose McGowan's Twitter account suspended after Harvey Weinstein, Ben Affleck tweets

Actress Rose McGowan said Twitter has temporarily suspended her account in the wake of critical tweets about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Ben Affleck.

>> James Van Der Beek says he's been sexually harassed by 'older, powerful men'

"TWITTER HAS SUSPENDED ME," the "Charmed" star wrote on Instagram late Wednesday. "THERE ARE POWERFUL FORCES AT WORK. BE MY VOICE. #ROSEARMY"

>> See the post here

Her post included a screenshot of a message saying that her account had violated Twitter's rules, so the social network "limited some of [her] account features."

>> Seth MacFarlane made joke about Harvey Weinstein in 2013; it’s just now making sense

"While in this state, you can still browse Twitter, but you're limited to only sending Direct Messages to your followers – no Tweets, Retweets or likes," the note said

>> Harvey Weinstein recording was not enough to charge him, DA says

"Your account will be restored to full functionality in: 12 hours and 0 minutes," the note continued. "You can start your countdown and continue to Twitter once you: Delete Tweets that violate our rules."

The rule-violating tweets were not identified in the screenshot.

>> Read more trending news

The news came after McGowan slammed Weinstein and said Affleck had known about Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct. McGowan received a $100,000 settlement from Weinstein in 1997 "after an episode in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival," the New York Times reported.

James Van Der Beek says he's been sexually harassed by 'older, powerful men'

In the wake of numerous sexual misconduct claims against producer Harvey Weinstein, actor James Van Der Beek shared that he, too, has been "grabbed by older, powerful men" in Hollywood.

"I've had them corner me in inappropriate sexual conversations when I was much younger," the "Dawson's Creek" alum tweeted, adding, "I understand the unwarranted shame, powerlessness & inability to blow the whistle. There's a power dynamic that feels impossible to overcome."

>> Terry Crews reveals he was sexually assaulted by 'Hollywood executive'

Van Der Beek did not name the men who had touched him inappropriately.

The revelation came after Van Der Beek, 40, tweeted in support of Weinstein's accusers.

>> Harvey Weinstein recording was not enough to charge him, DA says

"What Weinstein is being accused of is criminal," Van Der Beek wrote. "What he's admitted to is unacceptable – in any industry. I applaud everybody speaking out."

>> Read more trending news

Van Der Beek isn't the first man to share his own sexual assault story. Actor and former NFL linebacker Terry Crews tweeted Tuesday that he had been groped by a "high level Hollywood executive."

Las Vegas shooter's brain reveals no clues

Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock reportedly does not appear to have the brain abnormalities that police expected to find, according to an examination by doctors who have begun his autopsy.

>> Las Vegas shooter's longtime friend says he was a man who 'cared about everybody'

The Las Vegas Review-Journal spoke to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, a familiar face to those who watched the news immediately after the shooting and beyond, and the sheriff said preliminary examination of Paddock’s brain did not yield any abnormalities.

>> Read the latest on the Las Vegas shootings

“All those things that you would expect to find, we have not found,” he said.

>> On Rare.us: Father of Las Vegas shooter was a “minister” — of a criminal nature

The shooter’s brother, Eric Paddock, said he never saw any of this coming and believed that the “only thing possible” was that "something broke in his [brother’s] head," The Washington Post reported.

“I’m hoping they cut open his brain and find something. There’s a data point missing,” Eric Paddock said after finding out that his brother had murdered 58 people and wounded hundreds more.

>> Read more trending news

That data point is still missing, but the Review-Journal did note two other important things: Authorities don’t yet know the toxicology results, and Dr. Steven Winkler reportedly prescribed Paddock an anti-anxiety drug as recently as June.

Police release video of soccer star Alex Morgan's eviction from Disney's Epcot

On Oct. 1, one of the biggest stars of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team was out with friends at Epcot in Orlando, Florida, when the night took a major turn for the worse.

>> Watch the news report here

Alex Morgan, who also plays for the Orlando Pride, was out with Orlando City player Donny Toia and his wife, and after some sort of altercation, the trio was kicked out of the park and told not to come back, authorities said.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office released body camera footage of the three as deputies issued them trespass warnings for “conduct not welcome on Walt Disney property.”

>> Watch the footage here

Deputies and park officials said Morgan and the Toias were being verbally aggressive, loud and belligerent toward park staff and other guests, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.

>> On WFTV.com: Orlando Pride adds Alex Morgan to roster

In the video, the three can be heard arguing with the deputy and park employees and at one point, one of them, who was off camera, took exception with how a deputy described their behavior.

“Dude, you guys are lying right now,” the woman can be heard saying. “I can’t imagine what black people go through.”

As his son practiced at XL Soccer World in Orlando on Tuesday, Erlend Kleiven said he was disappointed in what he saw in the body camera video.

“Obviously, as a role model from the national team, for young kids to look up to her, wear her jersey, obviously that’s not something that is good for the sport,” he said.

>> Read more trending news 

While soccer dad Jason Gilmore agreed that what he saw in the video was not a good example for aspiring players, he argued that Morgan might be getting more flak than was warranted.

“It isn’t great role model stuff, but on the other hand, I mean, we kind of forgive this stuff, and worse, from male athletes,” he said.

After spending about 15 minutes in a conference room at Epcot, the three were escorted from the park, but not before Morgan assured her friends that the trespass warning wouldn’t stick.

“That’s fine,” she said after hanging up her phone. “It’ll be rescinded tomorrow. It’ll be rescinded tomorrow.”

The Walt Disney Co. warned that if Morgan or the Toias ever entered its property again – which includes all theme parks, water parks and resorts – they could face arrest.

None were charged criminally in connection with the incident.

Morgan apologized for the incident on Twitter.

>> Read the apology here

Harvey Weinstein recording was not enough to charge him, DA says

Prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence in 2015 to charge Harvey Weinstein with sexual assault, despite an audio recording secretly taken at the behest of the New York Police Department by a woman who claimed the Hollywood film producer groped her.

>> Read more trending news

In the recording, published Tuesday by The New Yorker, Weinstein can be heard apologizing to Filipina-Italian model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez after she confronts him about the alleged assault.

"Why yesterday (did) you touch my breast?" Gutierrez asks in the recording.

"Oh please, I'm sorry,” he answers. “I'm used to that.”

The audio recording was made after Gutierrez went to the New York Police Department with a complaint about Weinstein. She told police that she was going over her modeling portfolio with Weinstein at his Tribeca office when he started to make crude comments about her breasts, The New Yorker reported.

She told police that “Weinstein then lunged at her, groping her breasts and attempting to put a hand up her skirt while she protested,” according to The New Yorker.

>> Related: Report: Harvey Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman leaving him amid sexual harassment allegations

As she was speaking with NYPD Special Victims Division investigators, Weinstein called her, according to The New Yorker. The next day, they had her put on a wire and meet with Weinstein in hopes of getting a confession, the magazine reported.

Despite the recording, authorities said that they did not have enough evidence to file charges against Weinstein.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman Agnifilo said Tuesday in a statement that prosecutors lacked evidence because of the NYPD’s failure to work with prosecutors.

“The NYPD -- without our knowledge or input -- arranged a controlled call and meeting between the complainant and Mr. Weinstein,” Agnifilo said. “The seasoned prosecutors in our Sex Crimes Unit were not afforded the opportunity before the meeting to counsel investigators on what was necessary to capture in order to prove a misdemeanor sex crime.

“While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent.”

Police defended their actions Tuesday in a statement, nothing that “experienced detectives and supervisors from NYPD’s Special Victims Unit” were part of the police investigation.

>> Related: 3 women accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape: report

“The recorded conversation with the subject corroborates the acts that were the basis for the victim’s complaint to the police a day earlier,” Deputy Commissioner Stephen P. Davis said. “This follow-up recorded conversation was just one aspect of the case against the subject. This evidence, along with other statements and timeline information was presented to the office of the Manhattan District Attorney.”

A police source, who was not identified, told The New Yorker that the decision not to charge Weinstein came after two weeks amid questions about her past, including reports from tabloids that Gutierrez had once accused an older businessman of sexual assault and then refused to work with prosecutors.

“We had the evidence,” the source told The New Yorker. “It’s a case that made me angrier than I thought possible, and I have been on the force a long time.”

Accusations of sexual harassment and assault have piled against Weinstein in recent days, after The New York Times published a report detailing decades of sexual harassment complaints against the Miramax co-founder. He admitted to some wrongdoing in the wake of the Times report but on Tuesday “unequivocally denied” allegations of rape made by three women to The New Yorker.

“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” Weinstein spokeswoman Sallie Hofmeister said in a statement released to The New Yorker. “Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.”

Weinstein was ousted from his position with The Weinstein Company on Sunday amid fallout from the sexual harassment allegations. Multiple celebrities have come out in support of his accusers.

Police: Woman kills daughter's fiancé while preparing breakfast

A woman is accused of shooting and killing her daughter’s fiancé after an argument in DeKalb County, Georgia, deputies said. 

The shooting happened on Oct. 7 at an apartment complex on East Ponce de Leon Avenue.

>> Read more trending news 

Paw Law, 57, is accused of shooting Nyatole Eh, 17, of Clarkston, Georgia, several times in the abdomen. 

Police said Law was upset because her daughter, who is several months pregnant with Eh’s child, was about to move to Wisconsin with her fiancé. 

Police said the family had an argument over the issue Saturday.

“It appears (the) mom had been planning this and was that adamant that she did not want her (daughter) leaving with him,” said Clarkston police Detective Jason Elliot.

Detectives said Law left the house, bought a revolver from a local pawn shop and then, police say, slept on her decision.

"It appears they were in the kitchen, preparing breakfast. There was no type argument or even (an) altercation. It's looking like mom just walked up behind the victim and shot him,” Elliot said.

Law's daughter, Madaya Be, became emotional talking with WSB-TV about Eh and said it's been hard on both families.

"It was surprising. I never thought something like this was going to happen," Be said. "He's a very good, innocent guy."

Law was arrested at her home and taken to the DeKalb County Jail. 

Police told WSB-TV the woman, who is a grandmother, has a Georgia weapons permit.

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