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UVA Student Newspaper Apologizes for April Fools Day Article Satirizing Martese Johnson Incident

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- The managing board of the Cavalier Daily, the campus newspaper at the University of Virginia, apologized on Wednesday for an ill-advised April Fool's Day joke that poked fun at a recent incident in which Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents allegedly injured a student, Martese Johnson, while arresting him.

The front page of Wednesday's issue featured an article, apparently an attempt at satire, headlined "ABC agents tackle Native American student outside Bodo's Bagels." The subheader read "University students decry 'Trail of Schmears.'"

The paper's managing board issued a swift apology, saying that that article, as well as a second entitled "Zeta Psi hosts 'Rosa Parks' party," were removed from the newspaper's website.

"The April Fools editions [are] meant to start a converastion and provide satirical commentary on important issues," the managing board wrote in a statement. "The April Fools edition is not meant to come at the expense of our peers. We neglected to foresee that these pieces would come across as the latter, and for that, we regret their publication."

Their statement reiterated the Cavalier Daily's mission of providing "the University community with new, relevant and insightful information that inspires critical conversation and even action on Grounds. Today's April Fools edition was meant to further this mission in a humorous and satirical manner," they wrote. "Unfortunately, we fell short of this goal today."

The university has dealt with multiple controversies in recent months. Besides the incident involving Virginia ABC agents and Martese Johnson in March, the school was also the subject of a scathing Rolling Stone magazine report detailing an alleged on-campus sexual assault. The magazine has since backtracked on the story, and Charlottesville Police recently announced that they had found no evidence of the alleged rape.

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Calif. Governor Announces New Water Restrictions as Drought Worsens

NASA(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced a set of mandatory water conservation measures on Wednesday, as the state continues to struggle with a prolonged drought that has lasted for more than four years.

"Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow," Brown said in a statement after visiting a manual snow survey in the Sierra Nevadas. "This historic drought demands unprecedented action."

For the first time in the state's history, the governor has directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions across California, in an effort to reduce water usage by 25 percent. The measures include replacing 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought-tolerant landscaping, banning the watering of grass on public street medians, requiring agricultural water users to report their water use to state regulators, and requiring large landscapes such as campuses, golf courses and cemeteries to make significant cuts in water use.

The governor’s announcement comes just a few weeks after NASA’s top water scientist, Jay Famiglietti, declared in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that California only had a year's-worth of water supply left in its reservoirs.

The last four years have been the driest in California’s recorded history. As of March 24, more than 98 percent of California is suffering from abnormally dry conditions, with 41.1 percent in an exceptional drought, according the U.S. Drought Monitor, which estimates that more than 37 million Californians have been affected by the drought.

The state’s snowpack, which is largely responsible for feeding the state’s reservoirs, has been reduced to 8 percent of its historical average, and in some areas in the Central Valley, the land is sinking a foot a year because of over-pumping of groundwater for agriculture.

In January 2014, Brown declared a state of emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages. The announcement was quickly followed with the launch of a website, www.SaveOurWater.com, aimed to help Californians make reductions in water use. Tips include everything from reducing shower time to planting drought-resistant trees and plants.

“We are in an unprecedented, very serious situation,” the governor said in his January statement. “At some point, we have to learn to live with nature, we have to get on nature’s side and not abuse the resources that we have.”

Californians use an average of 181 gallons of water each day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The winter wet season was a big disappointment for water conservationists. Half of the state’s annual rainfall usually arrives in December, January and February, and although there were brief stormy periods, California recorded less rain in January than any January before it: less than two inches.

In March, the state announced emergency legislation to fast-track more than $1 billion in funding for drought relief and water infrastructure projects, after the State Water Board released a report outlining a steep decline in water conservation during the month of January.

California is not the only state struggling with drought. In Nevada, the Lake Tahoe Basin’s snowpack is reported to be at 3 percent of its normal average, prompting the primary water provider in the Reno-Sparks area to urge customers to cut water use by 10 percent on Tuesday.

In Texas, more than half the state is currently suffering under abnormally dry conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

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NYPD Cop Who Berated Uber Driver Is Under Internal Review

Sanjay Seth/YouTube(NEW YORK) -- A video showing a police detective berating an Uber driver in New York City has gone viral, and the NYPD said the video is under review by the Internal Affairs Bureau and that it will also be investigated by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The officer in the video, identified as NYPD Detective Patrick Cherry, will be transferred out of his post with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Police Commission William Bratton said Wednesday.

Bratton also offered an apology to the Uber driver and the passengers for the detective's actions during the encounter.

In the video, the detective stands at the driver's door, shouting, "Do you understand me? I don't know what [expletive] planet you think you're on right now."

Sanjay Seth confirmed to ABC News that he was a passenger in the car when the incident occurred on the West Side Highway, and that he took the video with his cellphone.

Testifying at Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) tomorrow to jump-start the independent investigation into yesterday's Uber incident.

— Sanjay Seth (@sanjayseth) March 31, 2015

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier, "There’s just no place for any public servant to use discriminatory or negative language."

The driver remains calm in the video and does not raise his voice to the detective. At one point, the detective slams the driver's door closed.

The incident began when the Uber driver honked at the detective's car after the detective was apparently trying to park without using his blinker, Seth said, and the Uber driver wanted to make it through the green light.

When the detective walks away for a moment after berating the driver, the passenger who is videotaping says, "That's crazy. That's really inappropriate."

Another passenger says, "Abuse of power, obviously."

The detective comes back and continues, "Now let me tell you something the next time you do it again."

The driver interrupts and says, "Okay."

The detective yells, "Okay what? You don't let me [expletive] finish? Stop interrupting me!"

The driver apologizes to the detective.

The detective then says, "Who do you think you're talking to here? ... Every time I open my mouth you have something to say."

The detective ends with saying, "The only reason you're not in handcuffs going to jail ... is because I have things to do, that's the only reason that's not happening."

The Uber driver was never given a ticket, police said.

Seth testified before the CCRB Wednesday. If it finds the complaint against Cherry legitimate, the detective would get a mark on his record, but it is up to Commissioner Bratton to determine a punishment. Verbal abuse in and of itself is not a terminable offense, according to police sources. A CCRB judge would first have to find Cherry guilty of misconduct and then that decision would get forwarded to the commissioner, who can accept or reject. Punishment for such matter could include losing pay or vacation days.

Uber responded to the incident with a statement.

"The behavior in the video is wrong and unacceptable and we appreciate the NYPD investigating the incident. We are in touch with our driver-partner who was subjected to this terrible experience and will continue to provide any support he needs," Uber told ABC's New York station WABC-TV.

Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association, noted he is "not trying to minimize the significance of what occurred."

"I am simply pointing out that cops are just like everyone else," Palladino added. "They have families, friends, and other things going on in their lives, too, that may affect their behavior at times. There is no disputing that we are held to a higher standard and that is why this incident is so newsworthy. Detective Cherry is a person of good character and an excellent Detective. He really should not be judged by one isolated incident."


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NC Teen Writes Rejection Letter to Duke University's Rejection Letter

ABC News(DURHAM, N.C.) — Spring is here along with the angst of the college admissions process for high school seniors everywhere.

One North Carolina teenager decided to fight back with a rejection letter to the rejection letter she said she received from Duke University.

“Dear Duke University Admissions,” the letter written by 17-year-old Siobhan O’Dell begins. “Thank you for the rejection letter of March 26, 2015. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me admission into the Fall 2015 freshman class at Duke.”

“This year I have been fortunate enough to receive rejection letters from the best and brightest universities in the country. With a pool of letters so diverse and accomplished I was unable to accept reject letters I would have been able to only several years ago,” she continues.

The teenager ends the letter with: "Therefore I will be attending Duke University's 2015 freshmen class. I look forward to seeing you then."

O’Dell posted the letter on Tumblr, where it quickly drew the Internet’s attention and drew calls for Duke University to reconsider her application.

Unfortunately for O’Dell, going viral did not equal a spot in Duke’s freshman class. O’Dell also posted to Tumblr on Tuesday the response she says Duke officials sent to her rejection to the rejection email.

“I understand how disappointed you are that we were unable to offer you a space in our incoming class,” the note reads. “I want to be honest with you and let you know that it’s very rare that we learn something that leads us to change our decision. In the last 10 years we’ve received about 500 requests for a review…and changed the decision four times.”

Duke’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Cristoph Guttentag, had no comment on O’Dell’s application when reached by ABC News.

The Durham, North Carolina-based school’s loss may be another college’s gain. O’Dell, who did not reply to ABC News, posted on her Instagram account that she has already been accepted to the University of South Carolina.
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Total Lunar Eclipse Will Be Shortest in a Century

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Don't press the snooze button for this one.

The total lunar eclipse set to take over the skies on Saturday will be the shortest in a century, lasting five minutes and turning the moon red, according to NASA.

The sky spectacle will be visible from all parts of the United States, with people in the eastern part of the country seeing the beginning stages of the partial umbral eclipse before sunrise at 6:16 ET.

The total eclipse will be visible to people in the Western United States at 7:58 PT. At this time, the moon will turn a shade of blood red as it skims the outskirts of Earth's shadow.

The eclipse is the third in a tetrad, a series of four eclipses. The fourth is set for Sept. 28, 2015.

The best part of all for Saturday's phenomenon: No telescope is needed. If you're in an area with visibility, all you'll need to do is step outside to enjoy the view -- that is, if you can catch it in time.

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Gary Dahl, Inventor of the Pet Rock, Dead at 78

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(JACKSONVILLE, Ore.) — Gary Dahl, the inventor of the Pet Rock, has died, The New York Times reports. He was 78.

Dahl’s wife, Marguerite Dahl, confirmed that her husband had passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Jacksonville, Oregon, on March 23.

While working as a freelance copywriter in Northern California, Dahl came up with the idea for the Pet Rock, first as a joke. It turned out to be one of the great fads of the 1970s that also happened to make him rich.

Backed by two investors, Dahl bought smooth Mexican beach stones for a penny apiece and then worked up packaging that looked like a carrying case along with instructions on the proper care and feeding of the Pet Rock.

The Pet Rock hit stores around the 1975 Christmas season and within months, Dahl sold 1.5 million of them, eventually earning a whopping $15 million from his venture.

Other inventions he came up with, like the Original Sand Breeding Kit, weren’t as lucrative. While Dahl trademarked the Pet Rock name, it didn’t stop copycats from getting in on the action with their own versions of his idea.

Years later, Dahl returned to copywriting and admitted that things hadn’t exactly turned out the way he planned even though the Pet Rock made him very wealthy.

Dahl is survived by his third wife, Marguerite, several children and seven grandchildren.

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Andrew Getty, Grandson of J. Paul Getty, Found Dead at Home

John Roman/iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Andrew Getty, the 47-year-old grandson of the late billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, was found dead at his Hollywood Hills home Tuesday under what appear to be mysterious circumstances.

There had been reports that police had detained Getty's ex-girlfriend for questioning. On Wednesday morning, police said that no one was in custody in connection with Getty's death.

Two weeks ago, Getty had sought a restraining order against the same woman, according to the Los Angeles Times.  TMZ also reports that police responded to domestic disturbances at Getty's residence involving the couple on multiple occasions.

Police also said that the investigation would be a coroner's investigation for the time being, as there had not yet been a determination of what caused Getty's death.

Getty's family is worth $5 billion, making them the 54th wealthiest family in the U.S., according to Forbes magazine.

Gordon Getty, the deceased's 81-year-old father, is believed to have a net worth of $2.1 billion.

Although it's been decades since J. Paul Getty was at or near the top of the list of the richest men in the nation, he did make his fortune from Getty Oil, which came from the merger of several companies. J. Paul Getty died in 1976.


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After Just Six Hours, Defense Rests in Boston Bombing Trial

FBI(BOSTON) -- In the Boston Marathon bombing trial the prosecution took 92 witnesses and more than three weeks to present their case, but on Tuesday, the defense for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rested after just four witnesses and about six hours.

Weeks ago during opening statements defense attorney Judy Clarke admitted to Tsarnaev’s role in the bombing and the violent aftermath, but argued it was Dzhokhar’s older brother Tamerlan who was primarily responsible for the mayhem nearly two years ago, in April 2013. In the six hours she used Tuesday, Clarke focused on evidence that she said showed it was Tamerlan who “led the way.”

One witness, an FBI fingerprint analyst, told jurors that investigators found a fingerprint or fingerprints from Tamerlan Tsarnaev on a pressure cooker bomb lid recovered from Watertown, where the brothers engaged in a firefight with police days after the bombing, and on possible bomb-making supplies including rolls of tape, a caulking gun, a soldering gun, a jar of nails, and a book on DIY wiring all found in the Tsarnaev family home. None of those items, potential bomb components, had Dzhokhar's fingerprints.

The analyst also testified that 500 items were tested for fingerprints from the marathon bombing scenes, but only two items had recoverable fingerprints. Pieces of cardboard believed to be part of the first bomb contained prints belonging to Tamerlan, none to Dzhokhar. A shredded backpack also located at the scene contained a crumbled piece of paper that had Tamerlan's palm prints but, again, none belonging to Dzhokhar, the analyst said.

The prosecution fired back, however, saying that just because an item doesn't contain a fingerprint doesn't mean someone did not touch it. "They could've used gloves,” the government said.

Earlier Tuesday a computer forensic expert, testifying for the defense, said it was on Tamerlan's laptop that experts found the search terms "Ruger" "gun store" and "fireworks firing system,” but not on Dzhokhar's laptop. The brothers would use a Ruger 9mm pistol to allegedly murder a police officer three days after the marathon bombing.

That same expert testified that Tamerlan's computer showed searches for "Boston Marathon," but Dzhokhar's laptop didn't search that term until after the bombings.

The defense showed a digital trail that they said showed Tamerlan downloaded an issue of Inspire magazine to his computer, then transferred it to a thumb drive. That same thumb drive was used to transfer the Inspire copy to Dzhokhar's computer, the defense said. The magazine included an infamous bomb-making how-to article called “How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

A majority of searches on Dzhokhar's computer showed he was mostly on Facebook or a Russian social networking site, the defense said.

Clarke had said during opening remarks that while Tamerlan was “looking and immersed in death and destruction and carnage in the Middle East, Dzhokhar spent most of his time doing what teenagers do: Facebook, cars, girls.”

In another rebuttal, the prosecution argued that it is impossible to know who is using a computer unless there is a camera planted on it showing someone actively operating the device. On at least one occasion, the prosecution said, Dzhokhar did use Tamerlan's computer to log into his personal email account.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the Watertown shootout three days after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding 260 others on April 15, 2013. Dzhokhar escaped the shootout but was captured hours later hiding in a dry-docked boat. Bleeding in the boat, he had allegedly scrawled a message implying the marathon bombing was revenge for the death of “innocent Muslims” in the Middle East.

Dzhokhar has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts related to the bombing, and, if convicted, he could face the death penalty.

At the end of Tuesday’s session, the judge announced the trial will take a break for a few days, with closing arguments starting next Monday.


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Parents of Alleged Colorado Theater Shooter James Holmes Speak to California Newspaper

Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images(DEL MAR, Calif.) -- The parents of accused Colorado theater shooter James Holmes spoke to a California newspaper for an article published Tuesday about the prayer book published earlier this month that was taken from Holmes' mother's journal.

Arlene Holmes began writing in her prayer journal in 2013, after her son was arrested and charged in the shooting that killed 12 people and injured dozens more in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, the Del Mar Times reports. Her new book, When the Focus Shifts, was published earlier this month as a means of "drawing attention to her opposition to the death penalty, especially for the mentally ill, and her advocacy for improved treatment for those with severe mental disorders," according to the newspaper.

Arlene's husband, Bob Holmes, told the Times that he felt publishing the book was "very courageous of Arlene. It's a very personal book for her."

Opening arguments in the murder trial are expected to begin in late April.

The Times reports that the book contains prayers for the prosecutors handling James Holmes' case and the victims of the 2012 shooting.

Arlene and Bob Holmes also told the newspaper that they held out hope that the district attorney would accept a defense offer of a guilty plea in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without parole. The prosecutor is seeking the death penalty.

In the interview, Arlene Holmes admits that she and her husband feel some "guilt" for their son's actions, noting that "we didn't recognize he was ill and needed treatment."

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Two Dead After Shooting at Fresno Medical Office Building

iStock/Thinkstock(FRESNO, Calif.) -- Two people were killed in a domestic violence-related shooting incident at a Fresno medical office building on Tuesday.

Police say Moua Neng, 43, entered the building and fired multiple shots at close range. The gunshots left a 33-year-old woman, believed to be an estranged wife or girlfriend, dead. Neng then allegedly killed himself.

Fresno Police Department Deputy Chief Pat Farmer said that witnesses said the woman was shot "several times." After that, "there was a pause and as officers were arriving we heard another shot."

Farmer noted that there had been a prior domestic violence case -- 11 years ago -- involving both Neng and the victim. The victim is believed to have been an employee at the facility.

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Brooklyn DA Charges 23 with Enterprise Corruption in $7 Million Medicaid Fraud Case

iStock/Thinkstock(BROOKLYN, N.Y.) -- Twenty-three defendants, including nine doctors, were charged with enterprise corruption on Tuesday in connection with a $7 million Medicaid fraud indictment handed down by Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson Tuesday.

The defendants allegedly lured individuals from low-income neighborhoods, homeless shelters and welfare offices into corrupt medical clinics for unnecessary tests with the promise of free footwear. "These defendants allegedly exploited the most vulnerable members of our society and raked in millions of dollars by doing so," Thompson said in a statement. "That so many doctors allegedly participated in this elaborate scheme to defraud a health care system designed to help the poor is truly disgraceful."

Among the charges leveled against the defendants were corruption, money laundering, health care fraud, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing, grand larceny, conspiracy and petit larceny. Some of the defendants face up to 25 years in prison on the most serious charges.

The investigation into the case begain in July 2012, a release from Thompson's office says. The initial tip came from a Brooklyn resident who told the D.A.'s Action Center that "she was approached by recruiters and taken to one of the clinics, where she met with a podiatrist and was given a knee brace and sneakers." The woman said she did not need the knee brace, but "was told she had to take it to get the sneakers."

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Virginia Hospital Escape: Armed Prisoner in Manhunt Captured

Fairfax County Police(FALLS CHURCH, Va.) —  Police have captured an escaped prisoner who became the subject of a manhunt after fleeing custody at a Virginia hospital Tuesday morning, officials said.

The escaped prisoner, Wossen Assaye, was identified by a bus passenger who recognized him on the bus and called police, a law enforcement source told ABC News.

The suspect was arrested in Washington, D.C., by Metropolitan Police Department without incident at 25th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, law enforcement sources added.

Assaye earlier prompted a lockdown at Inova Fairfax Hospital, in Falls Church, Virginia, less than 10 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., authorities said.

 Assaye had been taken to the hospital for injuries sustained during a suicide attempt last Friday, officials said. For the first 24 hours of his hospital treatment, he was watched by Alexandria County sheriff’s deputies, and after that, responsibility for security went to security contractor Allied Protective Services.

At 3 a.m. this morning, Assaye overpowered a female security guard at the hospital and took her gun, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler said Tuesday after Assaye was captured.

Next, Assaye confronted a male security officer, according to Bobby Mathieson of the U.S. Marshals Service. Mathieson said the male officer fired a shot but no one was hit -- though Roessler said it was unknown who fired the shot.

Assaye then escaped through a hospital stairwell, officials said. Authorities say they don't know what restraints were on him. He was wearing a hospital gown and no shoes at the time.

Authorities said they did not know if the escape was pre-planned.

Assaye fled to a residential neighborhood and broke into the trunk of a 2002 silver Toyota Camry, authorities said. When the owner of the car started to drive to work, Assaye kicked his way out of the trunk and carjacked the vehicle, police said.

The driver was slightly injured during the carjacking, police said.

Around 10:30 a.m., the Camry was found abandoned. Assaye then carjacked another car and fled, police said.

The second car, a 2008 Hyundai Elantra, has also been located, police said after Assaye's capture.

Police said a weapon has been recovered.

Police are looking for this escaped prisoner. He is wearing a hospital gown and no shoes & armed with a gun. pic.twitter.com/sMtvEYkWeL

— FairfaxCounty Police (@fairfaxpolice) March 31, 2015

Authorities released a photo of the suspect's girlfriend, stating that Assaye may be with her.

The escaped prisoner may be with his girlfriend pictured here. pic.twitter.com/Ccb6D5qsv8

— FairfaxCounty Police (@fairfaxpolice) March 31, 2015

A heavy police presence was reported near the hospital, and police vehicles were seen blocking the hospital’s entrances during the search for the prisoner. Hospital employees were being sent to a nearby high school, and a shuttle bus was carrying the employees to work during the lockdown, police said.

Assaye made his initial appearance in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, Tuesday afternoon. He was charged with one count of escape from custody in addition to the charge he is already facing for armed robbery.

Assaye appeared "heavily shackled" and escorted by four deputy U.S. marshals, a law enforcement source said.

His next appearance will be Friday afternoon.

According to a court complaint, Assaye was accused in a string of bank robberies in eastern Virginia between October 2013 and March 20, 2015. In each situation, authorities say, the perpetrator entered the bank -- often with a cell phone to his ear -- either displayed a handgun or demand note, and verbally demanded money.

Assaye had a criminal history, with convictions for multiple burglary and robbery offenses in 1998 and 1999, and served time in prison between 2000 and May 2013, according to the complaint.


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Aaron Hernandez Trial: Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Recalls His Last Conversation with Hernandez

ABC News(FALL RIVER, Mass.) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft recalled his conversation with Aaron Hernandez about the incident that's the basis of the football player's murder trial.

Kraft was on the stand in the Fall River Justice Center in Fall River, Massachusetts, about 40 miles south of Gillette Stadium, where Kraft said he last spoke to Hernandez for about "five to 10 minutes." Kraft said he "vaguely" remembered that Hernandez told him he was "completely innocent."

Hernandez, 25, is charged with killing Odin Lloyd on June 17, 2013. Lloyd, 27, was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee and was was found shot to death in an industrial park less than a mile from a home that Hernandez and his fiancee shared.

Kraft said he approached Hernandez on June 19, 2013, in the weight room of Gillette Stadium and asked to speak with him. At that time, media were reporting about Hernandez's involvement in the incident.

Kraft mostly answered "yes" and "no" to questions from both the defense and prosecution, revealing that the businessman had "no problems" with Hernandez in the stadium, but admitted to an attorney that he didn't know much about the player's life outside of the stadium.

"You were at Gillette stadium and you saw all the media assembled there," an attorney asked Kraft. "The media coverage at that point was non-stop and it was extensive. And that bothered you, didn't it?"

Kraft then answered "yes."

Kraft said earlier when he took the stand, "I had heard there was an incident that had transpired," and that he had asked Hernandez "whether he was involved."

"Any player involved in our system...I consider family," Kraft said. "I wanted to get him help."

"He hugged and kissed me and thanked me for my concern," Kraft said of Hernandez, saying he didn't see Hernandez after that conversation.

The defense attorney asked questions about Hernandez's contract through the 2018 season, asking why Kraft would make such a long-term investment in the player, to which Kraft responded, "He's a very good player."

Last month, a trainer that's not employed by the team testified in the trial. Coach Bill Belichick and linebacker Brandon Spikes are on the witness list, but it's not clear if they will be called to the stand.

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Alabama Moms Meet After Facebook Apology for Kids' Behavior Goes Viral

ABC News(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Thanks to the "power of social media," two Alabama moms met on Monday, just days after one of the women posted on Facebook apologizing for her daughters' "rude and obnoxious" behavior at the movies.

It all started when Birmingham mom Kyesha Smith Wood sent her son, daughter and step-daughter to see Cinderella at the local movie theater.

"There were two girls behind us, they were giggling, kind of talking...kicking my seat," Rebecca Boyd, of Adger, Alabama, recalled to ABC News.

"I turned around and I said, 'You know girls, we paid for this movie just like you did. Could you guys keep it down?' They just laughed," Boyd said. "After I spoke to them, they seemed to not care. They just laughed in my face."

Wood said her son told her what happened.

"That broke my heart," Wood told ABC News. "It really made me feel a lot of shame and I felt embarrassed for the girls' behavior."

Wood posted the story on her Facebook page, asking the moviegoer to contact her.

"The woman I'm looking for addressed them and asked them to be quiet and they were disrespectful," Wood wrote on Facebook. "After the movie she approached my girls and told them that her husband had been laid off and this was the last movie she would be able to take her daughter to for a while and my girls ruined that for her."

Wood's post continued, "This rude, disrespectful, and awful behavior is unacceptable and they owe you an apology."

The local Jefferson County Sheriff's Office then shared Wood's post on Facebook. The story went viral, generating over 250,000 likes.

"I live in that community," Sgt. Jack Self told ABC News. "I just felt like if I could put it for a bigger audience, maybe she could find the lady she was looking for."

Boyd's identity was revealed when she left a comment on the sheriff's office post, and on Monday, the moms finally came together in person.

"I was shocked that the mother supported me," Boyd told ABC News.

"I believe they’re good girls," Boyd said. "They just made some mistakes.”

Wood's daughters will write an apology letter to Boyd, according to Wood's Facebook post, and also contribute some of their allowance towards the Boyd family's next trip to the movies.

"Rebecca is really the hero in this," Wood said. "Initially none of this would have happened if Rebecca had not said something to the girls."

"I think more parents have to do that," Wood added.

Wood said, "the intention was never to embarrass or humiliate the girls, but at the same time, I think they kind of understand the power of social media and how quickly the things you do wrong can spread."

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Former Police Chief Says He Feared FLDS Church Leaders

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A former police chief who served the twin towns that the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints dominates is coming forward for the first time, claiming he lived in fear that Warren Jeffs and other church leaders would take his family away if he didn’t do their bidding.

“This community has always been a theocracy,” Helaman Barlow told ABC News' Nightline in an exclusive interview.

For years, Barlow said he was the head of the marshals that patrol the twin towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah -- because the community straddles state lines, they have town marshals. Barlow is now divulging what he says are church secrets to federal investigators, who are suing the local town governments, accusing them of being wholly controlled by the church. It’s a charge local officials in both towns deny.

“To be a police officer in this community and to be hired by the marshal’s office is a calling from the church,” Barlow said. “You had to get permission to go to the police academy from the church.”

Even though Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS Church, is serving a life sentence in prison for marrying and raping two 12-year-old girls, Barlow alleged that Jeffs still controls every aspect of life for most of the roughly 10,000 people who live in the community, from what they believe, to what they own, to who they marry, even what they eat.

But now there is a small but growing movement to wrestle control away from Jeffs, and Barlow is one of the key players in doing that. Since leaving the church, Barlow has grown out his hair and grew a mustache, and now rides a motorcycle, all of which he said is to show he is in defiance of church rules.

“It’s more of statement to show that I’m not with the church, I’m not with the Jeffs. I’m obviously out,” Barlow said. “For me, it was an outright overt act to show everyone I’m done with it. I’m done.”

As the chief marshal, Barlow said his job was to “protect the church.” He joined the force 20 years ago and said he quickly learned that the marshals work hand-in-glove with FLDS Church security, known as “The God Squad,” who keep a close eye on outsiders.

“They have a huge network of cameras in this community,” Barlow said. “They can watch every street.”

Serving under Jeffs, the former chief said he was asked to do things he now regrets, but he isn't willing to publicly admit all of those things yet because he is still working on an immunity deal with federal investigators.

In a deposition with the U.S. Department of Justice, Barlow stated that the marshals knew of widespread underage marriages in the community and didn’t do anything to stop it. Barlow also said he was asked by a city official to alter police reports.

In addition, when Jeffs was on the run and listed as one of the FBI’s “Most Wanted,” Barlow said he personally audio-taped conversations with law enforcement officials and then made them available to Jeffs.

“I knew it was wrong, but it was a way for me to keep my value up,” Barlow said.

Barlow said he lived in constant fear that the Jeffs could take his wife and kids away from him if he didn’t do what the prophet asked.

“With one phone call, he could call me and say, ‘yeah, you’re out,’ and I would say, ‘I’m not going,’ but then he could call [my wife] and say, ‘he had no priesthood, he has to go, you have to leave him,’” Barlow said.

He and his wife explained that it was the belief of the church that if the prophet told a wife to leave her husband and she refuses, then she has “spiritually murdered” her children.

Barlow said he witnessed the church’s power firsthand in one particular case of a family being “out” -- Ron and Ginjer Cooke, two non-church members who moved to the community. They say that for six years they were subject to a relentless campaign of spying, vandalism and the refusal of local governments to give them basic utilities, such as power, water or sewage.

“It’s like being terrorized,” Ginjer Cooke said. “You’re always on edge, ‘What’s going to happen next? What are they going to do?’ ...They are really good at driving people away. A lot of people leave.”

But the Cookes didn’t leave, Ginjer said, because they wanted to stand up and fight for their right to live there.

“I can’t let someone abuse my family like that,” she said. “You can’t teach [your kids] that it’s OK to let someone do something like that and get away with it.”

The Cookes recently won a $5.6 million lawsuit against the local government, and they now have water and power. The local government denied the harassment, but now that Barlow is out of the church, he told a different story.

“The Cookes were coming in against the wishes of the church, so if there was an opportunity to do something to either force them to leave or inconvenience them or discourage them, maybe they will go away,” he said. “They would do it, I would do it, at that time in the church, and any church member today would do it.”

Barlow insists he did sometimes use his position to try and prevent persecution against non-members, specifically in the case of Willie Jessop, the former bodyguard and spokesman for Jeffs, who very publicly quit after Jeffs confessed to marrying underage girls.

“Mine was a terrible crisis of faith,” Jessop told Nightline. “I was very passionately defending Mr. Jeffs and the community...but what I never saw coming, the shot that I got hit in the back with, was what he was doing in secrecy.”

Leaving made Jessop a deeply unpopular man within the church. In his deposition with the Department of Justice, Barlow said he prevented his officers from charging Jessop with crimes he didn’t commit.

It wasn’t only the things that he said he felt forced to do as chief, Barlow said, but it was also the increasingly arbitrary and strange rules being imposed by Jeffs that made him and his wife question the church. Rules that included eating only beans for protein, then beans were suddenly forbidden, or only being allowed to turn on the bathroom faucet with the right hand, the “clean hand,” because the left was “dirty.”

The community, the Barlows said, is forbidden from reading newspapers or watching TV. They are only given information over the pulpit, they said.

Finally, after years of doing Jeffs' bidding, Barlow decided to leave the church.

“I stopped and realized that the religion that I was trying to go to, the church I was trying to attend, was nothing like the church that I was raised in, that I was born into, that I was married in,” Barlow said. “It was entirely different...then I stopped and went, ‘why am I trying to go to a different church than I believe in? I’m done with that.’”

The Barlows and their friends have been out now for about two years, and all agree their lives are much better than they were before when they were under the church’s eye.

There are signs of hope emerging in the community, they say. A new public school, something Jeffs had once banned, has opened and now hundreds of children of former church members are getting a proper education. A new Subway restaurant opened. Property once controlled by the church is now being auctioned off. Jessop purchased one of Jeff’s compounds and turned it into the “America’s Most Wanted” bed and breakfast.

But many allege that the church still maintains control of the local governments, which town officials continue to deny.

Nightline went to a town council meeting to confront the council and ask if it was controlled by the church. There, Hildale City Council Member Carlos Jessop said, "I personally deny that. I would hope you would give us the respect of allowing each person in this room their personal beliefs. ...We are here to serve the public."

In a statement, the attorney for the local governments a denied that town officials are controlled by the church, and with regards to the former chief, Helaman Barlow, the attorney said, "We question his credibility, since he repeatedly lied under oath."

Barlow admits he has perjured himself while defending the church in the past, but insists what he is saying now is true.

Even though the community is changing, it is still very tense and very much divided. Barlow said he swings between being optimistic that the community will slowly join mainstream America and being darkly pessimistic about worst case scenarios, either through violence erupting from a church unwilling to relinquish control or from followers who feel betrayed.

“When people do wake up like we did, when people realize, ‘hey this is broke and we got tricked, this isn’t real, yet this person or these people caused me to do this much hard to my own family,’ I think you cannot underestimate the kinds of emotions and anger and violence that is possible,” he said.

Watch the full story on Nightline Tuesday night at 12:35 a.m. ET.

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