- A Minnesota accused of fatally shooting three individuals and injuring two others in St. Paul the previous year, has been acquitted by Ramsey County Judge Kelly Olmstead.
- The case revolved around an alibi defense presented by the man accused.
- The judge stated there was “insufficient evidence to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the person who committed these heinous crimes.”
A judge has acquitted a Minnesota man accused of fatally shooting three people and wounding two others in St. Paul last year in a case that hinged on an alibi defense.
Ramsey County Judge Kelly Olmstead on Friday found Antonio Dupree Wright not guilty on all charges, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. Wright, 42, of Minneapolis, had waived a jury trial, allowing the judge to decide his fate.
“There’s insufficient evidence to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the person who committed these heinous crimes,” Olmstead said.
Prosecutors had charged Wright with second-degree murder and attempted murder, alleging he was the masked man who fired a handgun at the victims at a St. Paul duplex on Sept. 4, 2022. Killed were Angelica Gonzales, 33, Cory Freeman, 42, and Maisha Spaulding, 44.
“There is no question that the victims were intentionally targeted for murder,” Olmstead said. “The sole, true issue in this case is the identity of the shooter.”
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Wright’s attorney, Joe Friedberg, argued in his written closing that Wright had a “proven” alibi: He was in Chicago at the time.
“This is just a horrible case of a massacre, where the state charged the wrong guy,” Friedberg told the newspaper after the verdict.
On the day of the shooting, Wright’s aunt testified during the trial, he stopped by her Chicago home unannounced at 10 a.m. for a visit. His mother testified he went to her apartment at 10 p.m., which would have been over five hours after the shooting. She identified the man seen on surveillance video from the apartment lobby as her son.
Friedberg also argued that witnesses had testified the shooter had dreadlocks, which Wright didn’t have.
Stephen Anderson, who was shot in the head and hands, had told investigators that the gunman was named Antonio, the charges said. Anderson also picked Wright out of a photo lineup as the shooter. But Anderson backtracked at trial, saying the shooter had dreadlocks and was not Wright.
“While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the court’s decision,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Wright still faces kidnapping and attempted murder charges from a separate incident and remains jailed on $2 million bail.
Read the full article from Here
2 Chicago officers acquitted of unarmed man’s shooting
Two Chicago police officers accused of shooting an unarmed man and then lying about it were acquitted by a judge Thursday.
Sgt. Christopher Liakopoulos and Officer Ruben Reynoso were within their rights to protect themselves when they opened fire, wounding 23-year-old Miguel Medina twice on July 22, 2022, Cook County Judge Lawrence Flood ruled.
“The officers were not the aggressors,” Flood said, stating it was Medina and a juvenile who approached their vehicle.
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“I find both officers acted within reason in firing their weapons under these particular circumstances,” the judge said following a two-day bench trial.
The courtroom gallery packed with officers, police union officials and other supporters of Liakopoulos and Reynoso burst into applause at the verdict.
Liakopoulos and Reynoso had each been charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated discharge of a firearm and official misconduct.
Prosecutors had argued during the trial that the officers provoked a gunfight with the teen, who was armed, and then shot and wounded Medina.
The officers said they came under fire and shot Medina in self-defense, but no gun was found near him. The officers said Medina and the teen fired first, but surveillance footage contradicted their account, and the Cook County State Attorney’s Office found the officers had fired first.
Medina testified that he thought the unmarked police car contained gang members, so he put his hands up to show he was unarmed. He held a cellphone and wine bottle in one hand, and the other was empty.
“As the victim and juvenile approached the vehicle, the juvenile held onto the firearm,” Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Alyssa Janicki said. “The victim was unarmed.”
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As the armed teen ran off, officers fired shots from the car, and Medina was struck.
The teen then fired, but neither officer was hit.
Defense attorney Tim Grace, said during opening arguments that the officers “were faced with a deadly threat, and their actions were a reasonable use of deadly force.”
Medina was shot three times, including twice in the back, according to Gregory Kiki, his attorney.
The officers were headed to training at the police academy at the time of the shooting.
Read the full article from Here
Lions injury updates: Brian Branch, Taylor Decker injuries are ‘nothing serious’
The Detroit Lions entered their Week 4 game against the Green Bay Packers with eight members of their active roster dealing with injuries.
Four Lions players missed the game entirely—Jason Cabinda, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Emmanuel Moseley, and Kerby Joseph were ruled out or deemed inactive—while another four played through their respective injuries. Running back David Montgomery (thigh), left guard Jonah Jackson (thigh), and center Frank Ragnow (toe) all played a full allotment of snaps and didn’t look any worse for wear during the game.
The game wasn’t as kind to starting left tackle Taylor Decker (ankle), who reportedly aggravated his ankle during the game and was a bit worried that he may have re-injured it.
“It sucked,” Decker told Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. “I mean, I knew it was gonna be like that. It’s definitely aggravated and hopefully, it’s not completely re-injured and stuff like that, a setback. But we got a couple extra days leading into the next game, so it’s probably just going to be something I just got to deal with for a little while now.”
During the game, three more Lions were forced to leave at different points but all returned to the field after brief exits. Linebacker Derrick Barnes was cramping but was able to work through it fairly quickly. Defensive back Chase Lucas was dealing with an illness, but only missed one of his special teams snaps before returning. Defensive back Brian Branch appeared to suffer the most concerning injury, rolling his ankle severely enough to require a cart ride to the locker room.
Branch returned to the field, but you could tell his ankle was bothering him. Eventually, his ankle gave way again, and he was pulled from action in the fourth quarter and sat out the remainder of the game.
While Branch’s soft tissue injury could cost him some time, the good news is that the x-rays showed that there were no bone fractures, thus giving him a more positive prognosis.
On Friday, coach Dan Campbell was asked for injury updates on Decker and Branch. While he implied things were still in flux, the update’s overall tone was more good than bad.
“I’ll know more by this afternoon,” Campbell noted. “But I feel like we got out of the game pretty good with Decker. It doesn’t appear to be anything too serious with Branch, but there again, don’t know exactly how he’s going to feel until we get going when we get back this week, so I don’t really have anything.”
Because the Lions played on Thursday night this week, they get a bit of an extended break. Players are expected to have the weekend off to recuperate, and then return to work on Monday. While Campbell may have more updates when he meets with the media again early next week, the official injury report won’t be out until Wednesday.
Muskegon to Milwaukee Lake Express car ferry on track for ‘best year ever’
MUSKEGON, MI — In its 20th season, the Lake Express is expected to have a banner year.
Designed to bypass Chicago area traffic, the high-speed catamaran car ferry that connects Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Muskegon, Michigan, has officially left the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic in its wake, officials say.
“Been through a lot with COVID and the other things going on but what we saw starting last year, and continuing this year, is a real appetite for travel,” said Aaron Schultz, senior vice president for the Lake Express. “We’re having what we think will be our best year ever.”
The 192-foot ferry has a top speed of 34 knots, about 39 miles per hour, carrying up to 250 passengers. The high-speed car and passenger ferry boasts the fastest ferry service on Lake Michigan, crossing the around 80 miles in about 2.5 hours. Drive time from Muskegon to Milwaukee is about 4.5 hours.
“We’re meant to go fast,” Schultz said.
“We’ve got full car decks, people coming from all over,” Schultz said. “About 50 different countries have come through, all 50 states, and everyday we’re seeing people from dozens of states – even into the fall months here, we’re going strong.”
Built in Alabama in 2003, it was the first American-made ship of its kind. The Lake Express began relinking Milwaukee and Muskegon via cross-lake ferry in the spring of 2004, resuming the route left behind by the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper, which was discontinued in 1970.
The Lake Express is currently the only car ferry crossing Lake Michigan after the historic S.S. Badger, connecting Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, – a four hour journey – ended the 2023 sailing season early after damage to its ramp system in July.
“We saw a significant boost of travelers in the days after the Badger dock failure as we worked hard to assist passengers stranded by the cancellations,” Schultz responded to MLive/Muskegon Chronicle in an email.
“We were already experiencing increased traveler volumes in spring and summer prior to the SS Badger closure and continue to see added ridership as former Badger customers continue to choose the Lake Express to avoid the long drive around Lake Michigan and Chicago traffic hassles and congestion.”
The Lake Express crosses Lake Michigan four times daily during the spring (May 5 – June 29) and fall (August 21 – October 22), starting with a 6 a.m. CST departure from Milwaukee and a 9:30 a.m. EST arrival in Muskegon. The schedule has Muskegon departures at 10:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. while Milwaukee departures are 6 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Departure and arrival times for spring, summer and fall are on the ferry’s website.
Depending on weather, early Muskegon-bound travelers are able to witness stunning sunrises over the lake or sunsets for the evening westbound Milwaukee-bound passengers. For adventurous travelers, seats are available on the sun deck, giving passengers an open and windy view of Lake Michigan. There are also outdoor seats in the more protected upper stern (rear of the ship).
Some days, the Great Lake is so calm it can be difficult to make out the horizon as the still water and sky appear to merge. Conditions on Lake Michigan can also get dangerous in a hurry, but cancellations are “extremely rare,” Schultz said.
Captain John Rogers, one of four rotating captains, says the Lake Express is well equipped for Lake Michigan, “above and beyond” U.S. Coast Guard regulations.
“We have the top of the line radars and electronic navigation systems,” Rogers said. “We have a double-redundant monitoring system for all of our machinery – multiple compasses, multiple GPSs, multiple modes of communication.”
In August, the Lake Express helped in the rescue of seven people after a 27-foot boat sank beneath the surface of Muskegon Lake. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the crew spotted the boat as it was going down. The ferry raised an alarm, alerted authorities, and while waiting for help to arrive helped people out of the water along with fishermen.
“We did our job quite well that day and had some good help as well from a local fisherman who responded very quickly,” said Schultz.
Schultz said the Lake Express staff is proud to be both serving and showcasing the Muskegon and Milwaukee communities.
“Obviously, we’re big fans of Muskegon, we’ve been going there for 20 years,” he said. “We go for business trips and say ‘I want to move there sometime.’ Summer is terrific, the beaches, Muskegon State Park, certainly the downtown, the breweries, the farmers market, I could spend the rest of the day listing those things.”
The same is true for Milwaukee.
“Going to Milwaukee, you have all the things you have in a lot of big cities – art galleries, interesting neighborhoods, food and festivals – but in a more user-friendly manner,” he said. “We like hosting people from Michigan, who maybe come from the smaller towns and we like leaving Milwaukee to slow down. I think both sides benefit.”
The last crossings of the year are scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 22.
Two different types of passenger cabins are available: Classic and Premier. Classic Cabin fares for and adult is $108.50 for a one-way ticket or $187 for roundtrip tickets, while the Premier Cabin costs $130 or $233.00 roundtrip. For the complete listing of the variousrates and details about the cabins, click here.
“We’re going quick but you’re not in a rush,” Schultz said. “There’s a lot of room to move around. People will take a nap, people will play some games.”
Complimentary pet kennels for cats and dogs are available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be indicated during the reservation process. Passengers traveling with a vehicle are instructed to keep all luggage inside the vehicle except items they may need while on board.
Automobiles are charged $118 one-way or $224 roundtrip. Motorcycles are charged $66 one-way or $132 roundtrip. More details can be found here.
The common configuration is 44 vehicles and 12 motorcycles, but depending on space, the staff tries to fit a few more. Every inch counts. For large motorcycle events, the car ferry can book to carry up to 125 motorcycles.
The ferry’s Muskegon terminal is located at 1918 Lake Drive, and the Milwaukee terminal is at 2330 S. Lincoln Memorial Drive. Both terminals provide fast and easy connections to area attractions and major interstates. Passengers can begin checking-in an hour and-a-half before each scheduled departure and are encouraged to arrive at least 45 minutes prior.
The boarding process closes 15 minutes prior to each scheduled departure. One government-issued valid form of photo identification is required at the time of check-in and ticketing.
MLive was on the ship Monday, Sept. 25 to document the trip from Muskegon to Milwaukee and back. Check out some of our favorite photos below or view the entire gallery here of 80 images.
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