National news in brief for Aug. 28
Zimmerman will ask Fla. to pay some bills
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman’s attorney is going to ask the state of Florida to pay for some of his client’s non-lawyer legal bills.
Attorney Mark O’Mara said Tuesday that the defense team is still totaling up its trial expenses. But he said that it may eventually bill the state as much as $300,000.
He said the costs were incurred for experts, as well as costs such as printing of deposition transcripts and court reporters.
Zimmerman was acquitted last month of all charges in the shooting of Miami teenager Trayvon Martin.
State law allows defendants to get their legal expenses reimbursed by the state if they are found not guilty.
O’Mara normally bills at $400 per hour. He said neither he nor any of his fellow attorneys have been paid anything.
Arias’ attorneys want venue change
PHOENIX (AP) — Lawyers for convicted killer Jodi Arias want her new sentencing moved out of the Phoenix metropolitan area because of excessive publicity.
Arias’ attorneys filed a motion Tuesday seeking a change of venue, saying their research indicates 70 percent of the media coverage in Arizona of the first trial took place in Maricopa County.
They also want live television coverage prohibited for the retrial.
“Both the nature and extent of the publicity surrounding Ms. Arias’ case render it impossible that the accused will receive a fair trial in this capital case if it is tried in Maricopa County,” Arias attorney Kirk Nurmi said in the motion.
Nurmi also said the case has received “widespread, unfair and prejudicial coverage” from the Maricopa County-focused media outlets.
Mother testifies against accused baby shooter
MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — The mother of a baby who was fatally shot in his stroller in coastal Georgia testified at a man’s murder trial Tuesday that she threw her arms across her baby, trying to save him.
Sherry West cried as she told the court what happened as she walked home from the Brunswick post office March 21 with her 13-month-old son Antonio Santiago. Two teenagers approached her, and the older one demanded money, West testified.
“I told him I have a baby and I have expenses and I didn’t have it,” West said.
The teen threatened the baby when she refused to give him money a second time.
“He asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby,” West said. “I said, ‘Don’t shoot my baby.”’
She said the teen fired a warning shot into the ground, fired a shot toward her head that grazed her ear when she ducked and then shot her in the leg. He then turned toward the baby in the stroller.
“I tried to stop him,” she said. “I put my arms over my baby, but he still shot him.”
After the baby had been shot, the teen still tried to grab her purse and hit her in the head with his gun, she said.
West screamed for help and both teens ran off, she said.
Asked by prosecutor Andrew Eknomou if the shooter was in the courtroom, West said he was. She pointed at De’Marquise Elkins, 18, who sat at the defense table with his lawyers and showed no emotion.
Prosecutors said Elkins and an accomplice, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, stopped West, and the older teen pointed a small .22-caliber revolver at her and demanded money and eventually shot the baby when West wouldn’t surrender her purse.
Fort Hood gunman won’t call witnesses
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people at Fort Hood decided not to call witnesses or testify Tuesday during his trial’s penalty phase, which is his last chance to plead for his life before the jury begins deliberating whether to sentence him to death.
Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is acting as his own attorney, told the judge he was resting his case without submitting evidence, calling witnesses or testifying in his own defense. The judge then dismissed jurors, who convicted Hasan last week for the November 2009 shooting rampage that also wounded more than 30 people at the Texas military base.
But shortly after the jury left the courtroom, the judge asked Hasan more than two dozen questions in rapid fire, affirming that he knew what he was doing. His answers were succinct and just as rapid.
“It is my personal decision,” he said. “It is free and voluntary.”
The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, then read him several court opinions to back up her decision not to introduce evidence in Hasan’s favor on her own.
“In other words, Maj. Hasan, you are the captain of your own ship,” Osborn said.
She said closing arguments would begin Wednesday. Whether Hasan will address jurors then remains unclear.