Fox News 2024-04-24 01:03:46


Grandma accused of killing Kansas moms bought 5 tasers, searched ‘pain level,’ docs say

A grandmother accused of killing two Kansas women amid a child custody battle searched “taser pain level” and other phrases that give insight into the women’s horrific deaths, court documents reveal. 

Grandmother Tifany Machel Adams, 54, her boyfriend, Tad Bert Cullum, and married couple Cole and Cora Twombly all face two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of 27-year-old mother Veronica Butler and visitation supervisor Jilian Kelley, a 38-year-old preacher’s wife who was also a mother. 

The four belonged to a religiously affiliated anti-government group called “God’s Misfits,” Fox News Digital previously reported

Their motive, investigators say, was to get custody of Butler’s two children. Wrangler Rickman, Adams’ son, had custody of the children but was confirmed to be in an Oklahoma rehab facility when the women disappeared. Butler was allowed supervised visitation with her children every Saturday and was likely to be granted unsupervised visitation during an upcoming hearing, per court documents. 

Butler and Kelley were last seen alive on March 30 as they set off from Hugoton, Kansas, to a court-supervised visit with Butler’s two children in Oklahoma. 

SUSPECTS CHARGED WITH KILLING KANSAS WOMEN BELONGED TO ANTI-GOVERNMENT ‘GOD’S MISFITS’ GROUP, AFFIDAVIT SAYS

When the pair never brought Butler’s daughter to a birthday party as planned, Butler’s family set off to look for the two women. 

They found Butler’s car on the border between Kansas and Oklahoma with “evidence in and around the vehicle that indicated a severe injury,” including blood on the road and Butler’s glasses on the ground near a broken hammer.

A pistol magazine was found in Kelley’s purse at the scene, investigators wrote, but the pistol was nowhere to be found, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Fox News Digital.

Interviews with the Twombly’s 16-year-old and a review of Adams’ phone and data from three burner phones led investigators to find the women’s bodies on April 14 in a cow pasture leased by Cullum, court documents show.

VERMONT SON SPEAKS OUT 6 MONTHS AFTER RETIRED MOTHER’S MYSTERY MURDER: ‘TURN YOURSELF IN AND TURN TO CHRIST’

Adams told police that Butler and Rickman’s children were staying the night with family friends on March 29 and that Butler had canceled her visitation with the children on the morning of March 30. But Butler’s phone records indicated that although she did call Adams, she was in the process of picking up Kelley for the visit. Kelley was Butler’s preferred supervisor for visitations, investigators wrote.

Rickman’s grandmother, Debi Knox-Davis, reported to police that the father of the children told her their family wouldn’t have to worry about their custody battle with Butler for much longer, per court documents. He told her Adams “knew the path the judge walked to work,” she told police, and that they planned to “take out Veronica at drop off (sic).” 

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) obtained a warrant to search Adams’ phone on April 1. Searches performed on the device allegedly included “taser pain level,” gun shops, prepaid cellular phones and “how to get someone out of [your] house.”

‘BABY MARY’ MOM CAUGHT LIVING SUBURBAN FAMILY LIFE 40 YEARS AFTER LEAVING NEWBORN TO DIE IN WOODS

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A search of local gun shops later showed that Adams had purchased five stun guns on March 23.

On April 3, the Twombly couple’s daughter reportedly told police that she was told her parents, Adams and Cullum were responsible for Butler and Kelley’s deaths. Adams had provided the other three with burner phones, she said, so they could communicate discreetly about their plans.

Before the women were last seen on March 30, the 16-year-old reportedly said she’d overheard conversations between the four suspects about how “Butler [was] not protecting her children from her brother … in reference to a sexual abuse allegation.” 

The 16-year-old said her parents told her they would “not have to worry about [Butler] again” and that the two may have been placed in a well, per court documents.

“[The 16-year-old] asked why [Kelley] had to die and was told by Cora that [Kelley] wasn’t innocent either, as she had supported Butler,” investigators wrote.

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The group’s plan was initially to “throw an anvil through Butler’s windshield while driving, making it look like an accident because anvils regularly fall off work vehicles,” Cora allegedly told the 16-year-old.

The minor reportedly named a fifth party who was involved in planning the women’s deaths but who has yet to be arrested. 

OSBI investigators found records that Adams had purchased the three prepaid cellphones. Tracing the previous locations of the phones led detectives to “fresh dirt work” covered with hay, where the women’s bodies were found, according to authorities.

Although the women’s bodies and causes of death are pending a medical examiner’s report, OSBI said, there is “no chance” Butler and Kelley are still alive.

“This case is tragic,” OSBI spokesperson Hunter McKee told KFDA. “You have two people who are dead and four people who committed an absolutely brutal crime.”

Law professor roasts Manhattan DA’s case against Trump in NY Times guest essay

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against former President Trump is a “historic mistake,” a law professor argued in an opinion piece published Tuesday. 

In a New York Times guest essay, Boston University law professor Jed Handelsman Shugerman argued Bragg was overreaching in his attempts to try a federal election crime under New York state law. He said the Manhattan’s DA allegation against Trump was “vague” since the prosecution failed to specify “an election crime or a valid theory of fraud.”

Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in relation to alleged hush money payments made to pornography actress Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election. The presumptive GOP presidential nominee returned to court Tuesday as the trial continues, Fox News Digital reported.

GOV GAVIN NEWSOM WORRIES ABOUT ‘OVERINDULGENCE,’ ‘OBSESSION’ WITH TRUMP HUSH MONEY TRIAL: ‘LESS IS MORE’

Shugerman suggested Bragg should instead center his argument around the idea that “it’s not the crime; it’s the cover-up” and pointed to allegedly falsified business records.

“Most of them were entered in early 2017, generally before Mr. Trump filed his Federal Election Commission report that summer. Mr. Trump may have foreseen an investigation into his campaign, leading to its financial records. Mr. Trump may have falsely recorded these internal records before the FEC filing as consciously part of the same fraud: to create a consistent paper trail and to hide intent to violate federal election laws, or defraud the FEC,” Shugerman wrote. 

However, the law professor noted Bragg’s filing and Monday’s opening statements do not indicate prosecutors were following this approach. He also conceded that his own explanation could also have “significant legal problems.”

Bragg’s election interference theory is “weak,” Shugerman wrote. “As a reality check, it is legal for a candidate to pay for a nondisclosure agreement.”

TRUMP SAYS CRIMINAL TRIAL IS HAVING ‘REVERSE EFFECT’ AS HE CAMPAIGNS AT NEW YORK BODEGA, VOWS TO SAVE CITY

Shugerman also raised three problems with Bragg’s effort to try a federal crime in a state court. The first, he wrote, was that there was no previous case of “any state prosecutor relying on the Federal Election Campaign Act,” which he called an “overreach.”

The second issue he raised was that the prosecutors didn’t cite judicial precedents involving the criminal statute at hand.

“Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued that the New York statute requires that the predicate (underlying) crime must also be a New York crime, not a crime in another jurisdiction. The Manhattan DA responded with judicial precedents only about other criminal statutes, not the statute in this case. In the end, they could not cite a single judicial interpretation of this particular statute supporting their use of the statute,” Shugerman wrote.

The third problem was that precedent in New York did not allow “an interpretation of defrauding the general public,” Shugerman wrote.

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Shugerman said it was reasonable to question whether the case against Trump was about “Manhattan politics” rather than New York law. 

“This case is still an embarrassment of prosecutorial ethics and apparent selective prosecution,” Shugerman concluded, adding that Trump could win in appellate courts if he is convicted. “But if Monday’s opening is a preview of exaggerated allegations, imprecise legal theories and persistently unaddressed problems, the prosecutors might not win a conviction at all.”

Sports power couple file for divorce after one year of marriage

Two-time WNBA champion Kelsey Plum and New York Giants tight end Darren Waller filed for a joint petition for divorce just one year after the couple wed, according to online court records. 

The Las Vegas Aces star posted a cryptic message on social media Tuesday, seemingly aimed at her relationship. 

“I’m devastated. I walked through fire for that man, but now I see it’s time to go,” she wrote in a message posted to X. 

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“God has given me an incredible life, and I’m truly so grateful for the profound love from my family and friends. One day I’ll share my story, today is not that day. Thank you for the grace to process my pain, to forgive and move forward. Today and everyday I will continue to choose joy.” 

She included the Bible verse “Philippians 1:6.” 

Online records in Clark County confirm the couple filed for divorce on Tuesday. 

HOW WNBA STAR KELSEY PLUM’S FAITH GOT HER THROUGH ‘BRUTAL’ YEAR: ‘GOD HAS ALWAYS HAD A PLAN FOR ME’

Earlier this year, Waller addressed breakup rumors after he posted a video on TikTok that suggested the couple was heading toward a split. He denied the rumors while speaking to TMZ Sports in January. 

Waller did not release a statement on social media, but the two did not appear to be following one another on Instagram as of Tuesday. 

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Waller, who was playing for the Las Vegas Raiders at the time, and Plum were married on March 4, 2023. Days later, he was traded to the Giants. 

Plum is a two-time WNBA champion, winning both titles with the Aces in 2022 and 2023. 

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Crucial Senate showdown in key battleground state underway

It’s officially game on in Pennsylvania, as Republican candidate Dave McCormick and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. were projected the winners of the two major party Senate primaries in the northeastern battleground state.

Both candidates, who were unopposed in Tuesday’s Democratic and GOP primaries, will now face off in a high-profile and expensive Senate showdown that is one of a handful across the country which will likely decide whether the GOP wins back the Senate majority.

McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, West Point graduate, Gulf War combat veteran and Treasury Department official in former President George W. Bush’s administration, is making his second straight bid for the Senate.

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He was part of a crowded and combustible battle for the 2022 GOP nomination. He ended up losing the nomination by a razor-thin margin to celebrity doctor and cardiac surgeon Mehmet Oz, who secured a primary victory thanks to a late endorsement from former President Donald Trump. Oz ended up losing the general election to then-Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

This time around, McCormick faced no major opposition in the GOP primary. He was backed last year by longtime Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell as well as the Pennsylvania GOP, and was encouraged to run by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is the party’s Senate campaign arm.

TRUMP MAKES MAJOR ENDORSEMENT IN KEY SENATE RACE

McCormick endorsed Trump early last month after the former president scored major victories in the coast to coast Super Tuesday contests and Nikki Haley – Trump’s last remaining rival for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination – dropped out of the White House race.

Trump, the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, returned the favor earlier this month, endorsing McCormick.

Casey, the son of a popular former governor, is running for a fourth six-year term in the Senate. He served a decade as Pennsylvania’s auditor general and then treasurer before winning election to the Senate in 2006.

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The most recent public opinion polls indicate Casey holding a single-digit advantage over McCormick.

Democrats currently control the U.S. Senate with a 51-49 majority, but Republicans are looking at a favorable Senate map this year, with Democrats defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs. 

Three of those seats are in red states that Trump carried in his 2020 election defeat to President Biden — Ohio, Montana and West Virginia, where Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin is not running for re-election. And Pennsylvania is one of five key general election battlegrounds where the Democrats are defending seats. Democrats may also have to worry about holding the open Senate seat in blue Maryland, where former GOP Gov. Larry Hogan is running.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub

State lawmakers move closer to allowing teachers to carry firearms in classrooms

Tennessee lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a GOP-backed bill on Tuesday that will allow schoolteachers to carry firearms on school grounds, though the names of the armed instructors would not be published to the public.

Earlier this month, Republican lawmakers in Tennessee joined together to approve Senate Bill 1325 with a 26-5 vote. The bill allows a teacher or faculty member who meets certain requirements, to possess and carry a firearm on school grounds.

In order to carry a handgun, teachers must have a handgun carry permit, have written authorization from both the school’s principal and local law enforcement and undergo 40 hours of handgun training. The worker must also not be prohibited from purchasing, possessing and carrying a handgun under Tennessee or federal law, as determined by a background check.

On Tuesday, the House in the state Legislature continued to push the bill closer to becoming law by passing the sister bill by a 68-28 vote. It now heads to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law.

TENNESSEE LAWMAKERS PASS BILL ALLOWING TEACHERS TO CARRY GUNS AT SCHOOL 1 YEAR AFTER DEADLY NASHVILLE SHOOTING

Last year, a fatal shooting at The Covenant School, a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, left three children and three adults dead.

The state Senate’s approval of the bill sparked outcries from teachers, students, Democratic lawmakers and even Covenant School parents.

On Tuesday, protesters screamed, “Blood on your hands,” before House speaker Cameron Sexton called for state troopers to remove them from the balcony, FOX 17 in Nashville reported.

NASHVILLE SCHOOL SHOOTER MANIFESTO: POLICE GROUP SIDES WITH SCHOOL IN LAWSUIT OVER RELEASE

Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, called the bill “morally insane.”

“Republicans continue to hold our state hostage,” he reportedly said. “God have mercy on you that you do not hear the pain of these mothers saying to protect kids, not guns.”

One of the sponsors of the bill, Sen. Paul Bailey, said the bill allows staff and faculty to carry arms if they choose to, but in order to carry a gun, they must go through 40 hours of training and undergo a psychological evaluation.

Rep. Ryan Williams, another sponsor of the bill, said the standards teachers must meet in order to carry in a Tennessee school will be “very high.”

The law is considered “100% permissive,” according to Williams, and is up to school districts to implement. Approval also falls on law enforcement and school administrators.

BILL LETTING TRAINED TEACHERS CARRY GUNS PASSES WEST VIRGINIA HOUSE

Williams also said the bill is intended to be a deterrent, adding the identities of teachers carrying guns would not be released.

Still, Rep. Jason Powell, a Democrat from Nashville, said the law “makes me sick to my stomach,” adding it is dangerous.

“It’s going to have dangerous impacts around the world,” Powell reportedly said. “Think about law enforcement. It’s going to delay responses. It’s going to put law enforcement in danger. How will they know who’s the assailant and who’s the teacher with the gun?”

NASHVILLE EASTER BRUNCH SHOOTING SUSPECT IS ARRESTED IN KENTUCKY

Lee did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the matter.

Before its passage, the bill’s proponents argued teachers and faculty could serve as a more immediate response force to a shooting situation. They said it could be particularly helpful in rural counties with limited law enforcement resources.

The contentious bill comes approximately a year after a deadly shooting last March at The Covenant School. The shooter, who was killed at the scene by police, killed three children and three adults during the rampage.

The bill also comes amid a larger push from Tennessee Republicans to loosen gun laws, including signing off on permitless carry for handguns in 2021.

The push includes an effort to expand the state’s permitless carry law to include long guns.

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The original law allowed residents 21 and older to carry handguns in public without a permit. Two years later, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti then allowed 18- to 20-year-olds to carry handguns publicly.

Lawmakers also approved a bill that would allow private schools with pre-kindergarten classes to have guns on campus. The governor has not yet signed it into law.

Fox News Digital’s Lawrence Richard and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump vows to go after ‘radical left’ at colleges, focus on ‘defending tradition’ if elected

Former President Trump said he plans to “fire” the “radical left” individuals that “have allowed our colleges to become dominated by Marxist maniacs and lunatics” and ensure higher education is focused on “defending the American tradition” if elected to a second term. 

The 2024 Republican presumptive presidential nominee posted an education policy video to his Truth Social Tuesday night amid violent antisemitic anti-Israel protests on college campuses across the nation. 

TRUMP SLAMS COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY FOR CLOSING CAMPUS AMID ANTI-ISRAEL PROTESTS: ‘MEANS THE OTHER SIDE WINS’

“For many years, tuition costs at colleges and universities have been exploding and I mean absolutely exploding,” Trump said. “While academics have been obsessed with indoctrinating America’s youth, the time has come to reclaim our once great educational institutions from the radical left. And we will do that.” 

Trump said his “secret weapon” will be the “college accreditation system,” which he says is called “accreditation for a reason.” 

“The accreditors are supposed to ensure that schools are not ripping off students and taxpayers, but they have failed totally,” Trump said. 

Accreditation is a third-party review process to review whether education programs meet defined standards of quality. 

“When I return to the White House, I will fire the radical left, accreditors that have allowed our colleges to become dominated by Marxist maniacs and lunatics,” the former president continued. “We will then accept applications for new accreditors who will impose real standards on colleges once again, and once and for all.” 

Trump said the standards would include “defending the American tradition and Western civilization, protecting free speech, eliminating wasteful administrative positions that drive up costs, incredibly, removing all Marxist diversity, equity and inclusion bureaucrats, offering options for accelerated and low cost degrees, providing meaningful job placement and career services, and implementing college entrance and exit exams to prove that students are actually learning and getting their money’s worth.” 

Trump also said, if elected, he would direct the Justice Department to “pursue federal civil rights cases against schools that continue to engage in racial discrimination.” 

Trump added that schools “that persist in explicit, unlawful discrimination under the guise of equity will not only have their endowments taxed, but through budget reconciliation.” 

Trump said he would advance a measure to have universities “fined up to the entire amount of their endowment.” 

“A portion of the seized funds will then be used for restitution for victims of these illegal and unjust policies–policies that hurt our country so badly,” he said. 

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MOVES TO HYBRID LEARNING ON MAIN CAMPUS AMID ANTISEMITIC PROTESTS

“Colleges have gotten hundreds of billions of dollars from hardworking taxpayers, and now we are going to get this anti-American insanity out of our institutions once and for all,” he continued. “We are going to have real education in America.” 

The former president’s policy video was posted to Truth Social Tuesday afternoon, shortly before he blasted Columbia University for moving its classes virtual amid days and days of massive pro-Gaza protests on campus. 

“They’re closing Columbia now? I mean, it’s just crazy,” Trump said. “Columbia should gain a little strength, a little courage and keep their school open.” 

Trump’s comments came after students at Columbia University were instructed that classes had shifted to virtual or hybrid amid ongoing safety concerns stemming from the anti-Israel protests filling the campus. 

“It’s crazy because that means the other side wins,” Trump said Tuesday. “When you start closing down colleges and universities—that means the other side [wins.]” 

“The people running Columbia have made a grave mistake,” Trump said. 

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Columbia University’s updated guidelines, as of Tuesday morning, said all courses on the Morningside main campus have moved to hybrid learning “until the end of each school’s Spring 2024 semester.”

“Safety is our highest priority as we strive to support our students’ learning and all the required academic operations,” the school’s Provost Angela Olinto wrote in a statement released early Tuesday morning. “It’s vital that teaching and learning continue during this time.”

Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly defense says single juror blocked acquittal

Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly’s defense confirmed to Fox News Digital that there was “one, lone holdout” who wanted to convict, while the remaining jurors sought an acquittal.

Arizona Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink declared that the case ended in a mistrial on Monday, as the jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision to convict Kelly of second-degree murder or any of the lower counts of manslaughter, negligent homicide or aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Fink scheduled a 1:30 p.m. status hearing for Monday, April 29.

Fink said that the hearing next week will “allow the state to take a look at the situation and decide whether or not it wishes to ask the court to reset the matter for trial.”

“The jury verdict was seven to acquit and one, lone holdout who was stubborn and would not listen to evidence,” the defense team told Fox News Digital. “All the other jurors were angry about it.” 

The jury remained deadlocked after deliberating since Thursday for more than 15 hours. 

“They won’t wear me down,” Kelly said at the courthouse of the potential of being tried a second time, according to AZ Central. 

“I feel like I’ve been in suspension for 15 months, and I’m getting nowhere, and I’m still on that treadmill. We have to wait a little longer,” Kelly’s wife, Wanda Kelly, added Monday, according to the outlet. 

ARIZONA RANCHER DEFENSE CONSULTANT CLAIMS ‘CARTEL INFLUENCE’ IN MURDER PROBE, RIPS SHERIFF’S PAST COMMENTS

Fox News Digital reached out to Santa Cruz County District Attorney George Silva’s office on Tuesday but did not immediately hear back. 

Kelly’s defense attorney, Brenna Larkin, said in her closing argument last week that evidence did not support the prosecution’s claim that the deceased, Mexican national Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, was an “unarmed migrant pursuing the American Dream” before he was found shot to death on Kelly’s 170-acre cattle ranch near Keno Springs outside Nogales, Arizona, on Jan. 30, 2023.

The defense claimed that prosecutors failed to prove that Cuen-Buitimea was shot by Kelly’s gun. The defense maintained that Kelly only fired warning shots into the air from his patio earlier that day, and Wanda Kelly testified about dialing their Border Patrol ranch liaison upon spotting two armed men dressed in camouflage and carrying rifles and backpacks walking about 100 feet from their home. Law enforcement responded to the property, and hours passed before Kelly called Border Patrol again to report finding the body about 115 yards from the ranching couple’s residence. 

A criminologist working pro bono as a consultant for Kelly’s defense, Dr. Ron Martinelli, excoriated Santa Cruz County Sheriff David Hathaway’s testimony about having crossed the border to Mexico weeks after the shooting on Kelly’s ranch to interview Daniel Ramirez, a Honduran man who prosecutors claim was the sole sight witness to Cuen-Buitimea’s death. Larkin said, based on Ramirez’s own testimony, he was not there. 

Ramirez testified that he formerly ran drugs across the border, though not on the day of the shooting, and had been deported several times. Additionally, the defense argued the investigation was mired by cartel influence. 

Hathaway, who only recorded about six minutes of a 40-minute interview with Ramirez, was pressed about a conduit who arranged the meeting in Mexico named Juan Carlos Rodriguez. 

Martinelli told Fox News Digital that the district attorney’s office was forced to reveal to the defense team that Rodriguez is a twice convicted felon – the first for aggravated assault and domestic violence after strangling his girlfriend, and then he served another two years in prison “for the transportation of weapons into the United States.” 

“The Sinaloa Cartel and Malas Manos do not allow independent people to bring guns, traffic guns into the United States,” Martinelli told Fox News Digital last week, while the jury was still deliberating. 

ARIZONA RANCHER GEORGE ALAN KELLY’S WIFE TESTIFIES IN MURDER TRIAL, DESCRIBES ARMED MEN NEAR BORDERLANDS HOME

“To me, [Hathaway] absolutely conceded to violating Mexican law and United States State Department protocols with regards to conducting an international investigation in Mexico,” Martinelli said, referencing the sheriff’s testimony. “His whole statement and justification that he went down to Mexico to quote, ‘offer his condolences to the family’ is beyond belief. You know, are we to assume that that’s his M.O. every time a Mexican national dies in a violent crime in Nogales that he personally takes it upon himself to go down to a foreign country to express his condolences? I mean, that’s beyond the pale.” 

Martinelli further took issue with the sheriff’s department and the district attorney’s investigator. “Once they knew who these people were, well into this investigation, months and months ago, they continued to believe these people over two American citizens, who were law-abiding and cooperative,” the consultant added. 

The defense also pressed Hathaway on the stand about a YouTube video in which the sheriff referenced the Kelly case and claimed that the rancher wanted to “hunt me some Mexicans.” 

“Just after hearing the sheriff and seeing the video, to us, the sheriff was the moving force behind the arrest and continued prosecution of George Alan Kelly. And I believe, this is my opinion, I believe that it was to further his political designs for re-election as sheriff,” Martinelli said last week, vowing to bring a personal complaint to the state’s attorney general’s office seeking an investigation into Hathaway and the sheriff’s department regardless of the outcome of the case. “Because if this was the United States Department of Justice, and we had such a grievous civil rights violations, DOJ would be on and the FBI would be on top of this in a heartbeat, and they would be looking towards what we refer to as a consent decree against this agency. This is just crazy. These people should not be having badges of authority.” 

Fox News Digital reached out to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department about the defense consultant’s allegations again on Tuesday but did not immediately hear back. 

“We’re not here to solve the mystery,” Larkin said Thursday. “And the fact is, we’re probably never going to know what really happened to Gabriel. And we won’t know because the investigation in this case jumped to conclusions. They didn’t search when they should have. They didn’t preserve evidence that they should have. They didn’t do tests that they should have. And now we’ll never know.”

“We all live in Santa Cruz County. I live in Santa Cruz County. You folks live in Santa Cruz County,” Larkin said. “After reviewing all the evidence in this case, if I were to imagine finding a body on my property someday, hopefully that never happens. If I ever find a body on my property someday, and I don’t know what happened, and I don’t know how it got there, I think I’d be considering my options before I call these guys.” 

Testimony also revealed that the fatal bullet was never recovered from the scene. Martinelli also previously told Fox News Digital that none of the state’s witnesses in the trial had provided any rebuttal testimony against the defense theory that a rip crew — a gang of bandits, sometimes cartel-affiliated — could have fatally shot Cuen-Buitimea and robbed him.

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Prosecutor Mike Jette maintained in his closing argument that there was “no justification” to use deadly physical force upon seeing “two unarmed men walking two fences away” and claimed Kelly pulled out his AK-47, stepped out onto his back patio and, without any verbal warning, fired nine times. The defense said while Kelly would have been justified in using deadly physical force, the elderly rancher did not. 

Larkin added that there is nothing in the law that prevents him from using lesser force to defend himself and his wife out on their isolated ranch “in the middle of nowhere.” 

Lionel Richie has one superstar in mind to replace Katy Perry on ‘American Idol’

With Katy Perry’s “American Idol” exit drawing closer and closer, her fellow judges are weighing in on what they’ll miss most about the “Roar” singer and who they think should take her seat on the judges’ panel. 

Speaking to Fox News Digital at the “American Idol” Top 10 Tastemaker event in Los Angeles on Monday, Lionel Richie recalled the moment he knew the dynamic between him, Perry and fellow judge Luke Bryan was something special. 

“Katy’s great,” said Richie. “The first season, she made me turn into my mom and dad and grandma so fast, ‘Like what are you doing? You can’t do that in public.’ Everything that was adult came out of me. I realized this lady was out of control. Then Luke would come in and say some stuff. Then I started thinking about my reputation. But then we got to the point where it settled in, I became papa bear and I have the children.”

‘AMERICAN IDOL’ AUDIENCE BOOS KATY PERRY FOR ANOTHER QUESTIONABLE CRITIQUE

“I’m going to miss her. Finding someone who has that sense of humor, it’s going to be tough,” he added.

While there’s no replacing Perry, Richie does have one person he’d like to see step into her role: Taylor Swift. 

“Taylor Swift, if you’re listening out there, this is a wonderful place to stay,” he said. “Luke and I would love to have you join us.”

In February, Perry — who began serving as a judge on “American Idol” during its sixteenth season in 2018 — announced her plans to leave the singing competition once the current season concludes. 

“I think this probably will be my last show, my last season for ‘Idol,’” Perry announced on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

‘AMERICAN IDOL’ FANS CRITICIZE KATY PERRY AND LUKE BRYAN AFTER ‘RUDE’ REACTION: THEY NEED TO ‘APOLOGIZE’

“I mean, I love ‘Idol’ so much… It’s connected me with the heart of America, but I feel like I need to go out and feel that pulse to my own beat,” she added as she winked at the host. 

While Bryan admitted he had a certain perception of who Perry was before starting the show, he’s grown to know the real her and loves the friendship they’ve built over the past seven years. 

“I’m going to miss just how mine and her personalities really gel,” he told Fox News Digital. “There’s no stress in mine and her delivery on the show. Last night, me and her combatively went at each other, and then we don’t even worry about it. Some people take that stuff and go, ‘Well you upstaged me on TV.’ Not in seven years have we ever had those moments where we were trying to outshine each other’s stardom or step on each other’s toes. We just really had fun and tried to rebrand the show into something that a lot of people want to huddle up and watch.”

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“Going into this show I had a perception of Katy Perry,” he added. “Leaving this show, the beauty of Katy is, she is who she is. We’ve had so many amazing talks through the years. All of our differences and everything, it’s always been how great conversations should go. I would tell her stuff that would enlighten her, and she would enlighten me on something that I didn’t know about.”

“We’ve grown as friends. Me and Lionel have been there throughout her motherhood,” he said. “I’m looking forward to her going out and her doing what she wants to do, but I’m also looking forward to reuniting somewhere [down the line] where we can visit and catch up.”

Longtime host Ryan Seacrest shared Bryan’s sentiment. 

“She’s brought an amazing generosity, love, big heart and that kind of spirit to the show,” he said. “Whoever comes in we hope they’ll have that same kind of impact.”

As for Perry, besides missing her fellow judges, she said she’s going to miss the inspiring stories and the resilience she sees in the contestants every season. 

“I’m going to miss the storytelling, the inspiring backgrounds of all these kids, the struggle that they go through, the hope they find,” Perry told Fox News Digital. “I’m going to miss watching them bloom and blossom. I’m going to miss them finding their conference. I’m going to miss how they inspire me. Hearing them and seeing their resilience is incredible.”

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With the “Idol” season finale around the corner, the question of who will be stepping in for Perry comes up more often than not. 

During an interview with E! News last week, Perry said that she enjoyed having country music sensation Jelly Roll on the show and would love to see him sit alongside Richie and Bryan. 

“I gotta say, Jelly Roll was crazy when he came on the show,” she told the outlet. “I was convinced at anything he said. He could run for president. He could be my pastor. I might go back to church for him. He could sell me anything.”

“To have any of these guys plus Jelly on the show would be amazing. I love you, Jelly!” she said.

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Top 9 driving distractions that contribute to accidents, according to experts

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month — a good time to be mindful about potential hazards on the road.

Laura Adams, senior analyst with Aceable, an Austin, Texas-based driver education company, told Fox News Digital that distracted driving poses “significant risks,” contributing to about 3,000 deaths per year.

“Understanding the most common driving distractions, adopting proactive measures to avoid them and investing in defensive driving education are crucial steps to create a safer environment for yourself and others on the road,” she said.

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Tina Paff, a certified driver rehabilitation specialist for Bick’s Driving School of Southwest Ohio, told Fox News Digital that driving distractions tend to fall into one of three main categories: visual, physical or cognitive.

The experts identified nine of the most common distractions on the road.

1. Daydreaming

Daydreaming is one of the “most frequent” and “scariest” distractions, Adams warned.

“It can occur during monotonous or long drives, like a daily commute,” she said.

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“Maintaining focus on the road and practicing mindfulness while driving can help prevent lapses in attention caused by daydreaming or what you see outside your vehicle,” she said.

2. Using a cell phone

Checking your cell phone while driving is an example of a visual distraction, according to Paff.

“You might take your eyes off the road to read that text, or to look at the GPS, or to adjust music, or for climate control,” she said. 

“They all take your eyes off the road.”

Adams agreed, noting that while answering a text can be a natural impulse, any phone-related activities will divert your attention from the road. 

“To avoid distraction, use proactive measures like setting your phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode and pre-programming any GPS apps before you start driving,” she advised.

3. Looking at something outside your vehicle

Staying focused on driving means actively scanning your surroundings by watching the road ahead and using your side and rearview mirrors, according to Adams.

“The biggest culprit is the cell phone.”

“Looking at something outside your vehicle for too long, such as a billboard, another car or anything else that might catch your eye can be dangerous,” she said. 

“If you’re not paying attention when a vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian gets in your path, it only takes a couple of seconds for an accident to happen.”

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Paff categorized these types of distractions as “cognitive,” since it’s “taking our mind off driving.”

Practicing mindfulness while driving can help prevent lapses in attention, she said.

“Think of the times you arrived somewhere and you don’t remember the drive getting there,” she said.

“The biggest culprit is the cell phone, as we begin to engage in the conversation or text chain more than concentrating on driving.”

4. Abusing substances and lacking sleep

Substance abuse, or even the use of some allergy or sleep medications, can “leave us feeling foggy,” Paff noted.

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“And we may miss a few very important things along the way, like a stop sign, a light or traffic,” she said.

Sleep deprivation can also cause fogginess, taking one’s attention away from the road, Paff added.

“If you know you are driving in the morning, maybe start limiting that medication you take at night that can and will affect your driving,” she said. 

“If you suffer from sleep deprivation and you have no choice, you may want to leave your house with an energy or caffeinated drink.”

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People who are sleep-deprived shouldn’t keep their car “all heated and cozy,” Paff said. “Go ahead and open the window [and] get that cool air blowing through to keep you alert and responsive.”

5. Reaching for objects

Tasks like reaching for a fallen object, answering a text or chatting with a passenger can all come as “natural impulses,” Adams said.

“Reaching for a fallen object while driving can only take a matter of seconds, but those seconds could be the difference between staying safe and causing an accident,” she noted. 

“Before driving, consider what you may need and place it close to you. If you need an object that would take your attention away from driving, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place to retrieve it.”

6. Interacting with passengers

Establishing clear rules for passengers is a must, especially for new drivers who are still getting comfortable with the road, Adams said. 

“If you have passengers, tell them you must stay focused on the road to drive safely,” she suggested. “To keep them engaged while maintaining safety, you could ask them to help you navigate the best route to your destination.”

7. Eating and drinking

Instead of trying to multitask while driving, Adams said it’s best to finish eating and drinking before driving. 

“Managing messy foods or spills could be a significant distraction behind the wheel or cause you to lose control of your vehicle,” she warned.

“Phones can cause us to stop physically driving, but so can eating, drinking [and] grooming,” Paff added.

8. Adjusting onboard systems

To ensure that your hands stay on the steering wheel, it’s important to have all your supplies in place before you start driving, said Paff.

Adams agreed, suggesting pre-adjusting all onboard systems, like climate control, mapping, music, seats and mirrors. 

“Stay focused on the destination, be alert to others around you, turn phone notifications off and enjoy the ride.”

“Trying to make changes while driving can be a dangerous distraction and prevents you from physically making changes while driving,” she said.

9. Dealing with pets or moving objects in the vehicle

“Always secure your children, pets or anything in your vehicle that could move before getting underway,” Adams advised. 

“If they need your attention, pull off the road to manage them safely instead of trying to reach the backseat while driving.”

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Even vigilant drivers are at risk when other drivers are distracted, Adams warned. To help reduce this risk, she suggested taking a defensive driving class.

“They teach valuable tools and strategies to anticipate and respond to hazardous situations, including those caused by distracted drivers,” she said. 

“By learning defensive driving techniques, you can enhance your awareness of potential risks, improve your decision-making skills and reduce the likelihood of being involved in a distracted driving accident.”

Another technique that Paff offered is envisioning arriving safely at your destination while driving.

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“This type of visualization may help your concentration as well as keep you focused on the other drivers around you to prevent something disastrous from happening,” she said.

“Stay focused on the destination, be alert to others around you, turn phone notifications off and enjoy the ride.”

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