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Wife of Army soldier detained in Russia previously retained divorce lawyer, not aware of his travels: attorney

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The wife of a U.S. Army soldier being detained in Russia while visiting a girlfriend retained a divorce lawyer in 2022, and was not aware of his travels, her lawyer said Thursday. 

Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, an infantry soldier, was detained in the Russian port city of Vladivostok on May 2. He was charged with criminal misconduct and is accused of stealing from his longtime girlfriend.

The regional branch of the Russian Interior Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that Black and his girlfriend had a conflict, and she reported him to the police, claiming that she found cash missing after he stayed with her, The Associated Press reported.

EVAN GERSHKOVICH MARKS ONE YEAR IMPRISONED IN RUSSIA AS FRIENDS CAN ONLY WAIT FOR ‘NIGHTMARE’ TO END

Gordon Black, a U.S. Army serviceman detained in Russia, poses for a selfie in this picture obtained from social media, in an unspecified location.   (Gordon Black via Facebook/Reuters)

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Black, who had out-processed from his duty station in South Korea, was supposed to fly back to the U.S. to report to Fort Cavazos, Texas.

“Megan Black wishes to make clear that she had no advance knowledge of Mr. Black’s intentions to travel to Russia,” her attorney, Brett Pritchard, said in a statement. 

She became aware of her husband being absent from Fort Cavaszos when Army investigators reached out to her about his whereabouts, Pritchard said. 

Gordon Black’s mother, Melody Jones, said she believes her son was set up. She said her son’s relationship with the Russian woman was “volatile,” and that she suspected the longtime girlfriend might be a spy.

“I knew something was going to happen,” Jones told “GMA.” “I felt like he was being set up by her.”

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Gordon Black in Iraq

U.S. Army soldier Gordon Black sends a holiday message from Iraq in 2009. His wife says she was not aware of his recent travel to Russia and had hired a divorce lawyer in July 2022 to begin efforts to dissolve the marriage, her attorney said Thursday.  (U.S. Dept. of Defense)

Black’s wife believes his decision to go to Russia, at a time when relations between Washington and Moscow are severely strained, was “ill-advised” but was motivated by “entirely personal reasons involving an extra-marital affair between himself and a Russian national, and that Mr. Black is not involved in any form of geopolitical intrigue.”

Pritchard confirmed that Megan Black retained his services in July 2022 to initiate divorce proceedings after nine years of marriage to her husband. The couple share a 6-year-old daughter, he said. 

The pair have known each other since 2014 and got married in Belton, Texas, a suburb near the Army installation, after Black was assigned there, Pritchard said. 

The Russian city of Vladivostok

The Russian port city of Vladivostok. It is where U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black was detained last Thursday. (Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP via Getty Images)

Megan Black hopes her husband returns to the U.S. safely as soon as possible, Pritchard said. His arrest has put a strain on their daughter, “who has to deal with the dual uncertainty of not knowing when she will see or hear from her father again.”

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Meanwhile, the divorce proceedings remain “in limbo by a Texas family law court pending a potentially indefinite resolution of Mr. Black’s incarceration status,” Pritchard said. 

Fox News Digital’s Pilar Arias contributed to this report. 

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Arizona man convicted in 6-year-old son's starvation death

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A northern Arizona man was convicted in a jury trial Thursday of first-degree murder and other crimes in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

FORMER ARIZONA GRAD STUDENT CONVICTED OF KILLING PROFESSOR

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Authorities say the boy was locked in a tiny bedroom closet for 16 hours a day over a month with his older brother as punishment for stealing his family’s food at night when their parents were asleep.

FILE – This undated booking photo provided by the Flagstaff Police Department shows Anthony Martinez. The northern Arizona man was convicted in a jury trial Thursday, May 23, 2024, of first-degree murder and other crimes in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son. (Flagstaff Police Department via AP, File)

A Coconino County Superior Court jury delivered its verdict against 28-year-old Anthony Martinez in the death of his son, Deshaun Martinez. In addition to the murder charge, it also found him guilty of two counts each of child abuse, kidnapping, and aggravated assault on law enforcement officers.

Prosecutors said an autopsy showed the boy weighed just 18 pounds and had died of severe starvation.

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The boys’ mother, Elizabeth Archibeque, was sentenced in July 2023 to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to first-degree murder and child abuse.

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Bear spotted frolicking across driveway in Ventura County neighborhood 

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Bear spotted frolicking across driveway in Ventura County neighborhood 

Authorities are advising residents of one Ventura County neighborhood to be on the lookout for a bear that was spotted ambling through a driveway at the end of a cul-de-sac. 

The Santa Paula Police Department was first notified of the bear sighting early Thursday morning, a Facebook post from the department indicated. 

Where it was first spotted was not immediately released. 

Almost 24 hours later at 5 a.m. Friday, the bear was seen again, this time maneuvering between parked cars and a garage on Leavens Court, located off Richard Road in Santa Paula. 

The bear was seen maneuvering between parked cars and a garage on Leavens Court, located off Richard Road in Santa Paula, around 5 a.m. Friday. (Facebook/Santa Paula Police Department)

Video posted by the department shows the bear – which several commenters speculated to be a cub – frolicking across the driveway of a home.

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According to police, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was dispatched to confirm the bear’s location, but they could not find it. 

The bear was last seen heading south from Leavens Court, authorities said. 

Anyone who spots the bear is asked to call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 805-644-1766. Calls can also be directed to the Santa Paula Police Department’s non-emergency line at 805-525-4474. 

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Remaining wrongful death lawsuit filed after deadly Astroworld concert has been settled, lawyer says

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The one remaining wrongful death lawsuit filed after 10 people were killed during a deadly crowd crush at the 2021 Astroworld music festival has been settled, an attorney said Thursday.

Jury selection in the lawsuit filed by the family of 9-year-old Ezra Blount, the youngest person killed during the concert by rapper Travis Scott, had been set to begin Sept. 10.

ASTROWORLD TRAGEDY: EVERYTHING TO KNOW

But S. Scott West, an attorney for Blount’s family, said a settlement was reached this week.

Blount’s family had sued Scott, Live Nation — the festival’s promoter and the world’s largest live entertainment company — and other companies and individuals connected to the event, including Apple Inc., which livestreamed the concert.

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Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld music festival at NRG Park, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston. The one remaining wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of 9-year-old Ezra Blount, the youngest person killed during the concert, after 10 people were killed during the deadly crowd crush at the 2021 Astroworld music festival has been settled, an attorney said Thursday, May 23, 2024.  (Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

“The family will continue its journey to heal, but never forget the joy that Ezra brought to everyone around him,” West said in an email.

Treston Blount, Ezra’s father, had said that during the Nov. 5, 2021, concert, his son was sitting on his shoulders when they were crushed by the crowd. Treston Blount lost consciousness and when he came to, Ezra was missing. A frantic search ensued until Ezra was eventually found at a Houston hospital, severely injured. The boy, who was from Dallas, died several days later.

The lawsuit filed by Blount’s family was one of 10 wrongful death civil suits filed after the deadly concert.

Earlier this month, lawyers had announced that the other nine wrongful death lawsuits had been settled in connection with the concert.

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Terms of the settlements in all 10 lawsuits were confidential.

The settlement of the lawsuit filed by Blount’s family was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.

Attorneys for Live Nation, Scott and others have declined to comment in the case because of a gag order that limits what they can say outside court.

About 2,400 injury cases filed after the deadly concert remain pending. More than 4,000 plaintiffs filed hundreds of lawsuits after the Astroworld crowd crush.

During the crowd crush, attendees were packed so tightly that many could not breathe or move their arms. Those killed ranged in age from 9 to 27. They died from compression asphyxia, which an expert likened to being crushed by a car.

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Earlier this month, state District Judge Kristen Hawkins, who is presiding over the litigation, had scheduled the first trial related to the injury cases for Oct. 15. That trial was set to focus on seven injury cases. It was not clear on Thursday if that trial date would remain or be moved up with the settlement in the Blount lawsuit.

So far, no lawsuit has gone before a jury. One wrongful death lawsuit — filed by the family of 23-year-old Houston resident Madison Dubiski — was days away from going to trial earlier this month before it was delayed and then settled.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the lawsuits have alleged in court filings that the deaths and hundreds of injuries at the concert were caused by negligent planning and a lack of concern over capacity and safety at the event.

Scott, Live Nation and the others who’ve been sued have denied these claims, saying safety was their No. 1 concern. They said what happened could not have been foreseen.

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After a police investigation, a grand jury last year declined to indict Scott, along with five others connected to the festival.

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