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The Latest Story From The Trial

  • The US Attorney has filed two motions in response to former Congressman Corrine Brown’s pursuit of a new trial.  Brown was found guilty on 18 of 22 federal charges. Her attorney says Brown’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury of her peers and to a unanimous verdict were violated with the removal of a juror during deliberations. An alternate juror was seated, and the verdicts were rendered about a day and a half later.  FULL COVERAGE:  The federal case of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown  In its response, the Acting US Attorney Stephen Muldrow says the self-serving view of the facts is belied by the record, which supports the Court’s decision to strike Juror 13, and the Court should deny the motion.  And he says the Court was well within its discretion to remove the juror based on a finding that there was no substantial possibility that the juror could render a verdict determined solely on the facts and the law.  In a separate motion, the US Attorney’s Office opposes Brown’s request for a judgment of acquittal. Motion for a new trial  WOKV was in the courtroom throughout the trial, including a hearing after a day and a half of jury deliberations where District Judge Timothy Corrigan told attorneys that a juror had contacted him about concerns with another juror. While much of the nature of that juror’s concerns were initially discussed in a closed session of court, WOKV has since obtained the transcript, which shows Juror 13 had said at the outset of deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty on all charges.  Juror 13 was questioned by Corrigan and told the court he believed he was following instructions to consider the evidence presented at trial and the law as instructed. He further said his religious or moral believes were not interfering with his ability to decide the case as instructed. The juror who initially raised a concern to the court even said Juror 13’s statements weren’t getting in the way of the deliberations, according to the transcript.  Corrigan carefully worded his ruling in his decision to remove that Juror 13, saying sincerely held religious beliefs and prayers for guidance are not ground for dismissal, but Juror 13 making the statement that he did before the deliberations took hold show inconsistencies with the instructions. Corrigan also noted that Juror 13 said specifically that the “Holy Spirit” had directed him on the verdict.  Corrigan ruled that, while it seemed Juror 13 was “very earnest, very sincere” in his belief and attempt to follow the court’s instructions, his statement about the “Holy Spirit” directing his verdict was a “disqualifying statement”. That further led to the conclusion that there was “no substantial possibility” the juror could follow the court’s instructions and that he using an “external force” in his decision making.  Case in review  Brown was convicted on May 11th of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of aiding and abetting mail fraud, and seven counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud in connection to her soliciting money for a sham charity organization called “One Door For Education”. Prosecutors argued Brown, her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and One Door President Carla Wiley raised money for the group, but used the funds for personal expenses and lavish events.  Brown was also convicted of engaging in a scheme to conceal material facts, corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the due administration of internal revenue law, and three counts of filing a false tax return- generally involving Brown not reporting income she received from One Door and over reporting her charitable contributions.  Simmons and Wiley pleaded guilty ahead of Brown’s trial, and both testified for the prosecution. Brown took the stand in her own defense, claiming she was taken advantage of by Simmons. Sentencing dates have not yet been set for any of the three, with all remaining out of prison as the court proceedings continue.

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  • The US Attorney has filed two motions in response to former Congressman Corrine Brown’s pursuit of a new trial.  Brown was found guilty on 18 of 22 federal charges. Her attorney says Brown’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury of her peers and to a unanimous verdict were violated with the removal of a juror during deliberations. An alternate juror was seated, and the verdicts were rendered about a day and a half later.  FULL COVERAGE:  The federal case of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown  In its response, the Acting US Attorney Stephen Muldrow says the self-serving view of the facts is belied by the record, which supports the Court’s decision to strike Juror 13, and the Court should deny the motion.  And he says the Court was well within its discretion to remove the juror based on a finding that there was no substantial possibility that the juror could render a verdict determined solely on the facts and the law.  In a separate motion, the US Attorney’s Office opposes Brown’s request for a judgment of acquittal. Motion for a new trial  WOKV was in the courtroom throughout the trial, including a hearing after a day and a half of jury deliberations where District Judge Timothy Corrigan told attorneys that a juror had contacted him about concerns with another juror. While much of the nature of that juror’s concerns were initially discussed in a closed session of court, WOKV has since obtained the transcript, which shows Juror 13 had said at the outset of deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty on all charges.  Juror 13 was questioned by Corrigan and told the court he believed he was following instructions to consider the evidence presented at trial and the law as instructed. He further said his religious or moral believes were not interfering with his ability to decide the case as instructed. The juror who initially raised a concern to the court even said Juror 13’s statements weren’t getting in the way of the deliberations, according to the transcript.  Corrigan carefully worded his ruling in his decision to remove that Juror 13, saying sincerely held religious beliefs and prayers for guidance are not ground for dismissal, but Juror 13 making the statement that he did before the deliberations took hold show inconsistencies with the instructions. Corrigan also noted that Juror 13 said specifically that the “Holy Spirit” had directed him on the verdict.  Corrigan ruled that, while it seemed Juror 13 was “very earnest, very sincere” in his belief and attempt to follow the court’s instructions, his statement about the “Holy Spirit” directing his verdict was a “disqualifying statement”. That further led to the conclusion that there was “no substantial possibility” the juror could follow the court’s instructions and that he using an “external force” in his decision making.  Case in review  Brown was convicted on May 11th of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of aiding and abetting mail fraud, and seven counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud in connection to her soliciting money for a sham charity organization called “One Door For Education”. Prosecutors argued Brown, her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and One Door President Carla Wiley raised money for the group, but used the funds for personal expenses and lavish events.  Brown was also convicted of engaging in a scheme to conceal material facts, corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the due administration of internal revenue law, and three counts of filing a false tax return- generally involving Brown not reporting income she received from One Door and over reporting her charitable contributions.  Simmons and Wiley pleaded guilty ahead of Brown’s trial, and both testified for the prosecution. Brown took the stand in her own defense, claiming she was taken advantage of by Simmons. Sentencing dates have not yet been set for any of the three, with all remaining out of prison as the court proceedings continue.
  • Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was found guilty on 18 of 22 federal charges, but now, she’s pushing for a new trial.  Brown’s attorney has filed a motion that says her Sixth Amendment right to a jury of her peers and to a unanimous verdict were violated with the removal of a juror during deliberations. An alternate juror was seated, and the verdicts were rendered about a day and a half later.  FULL COVERAGE: The federal case of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown A motion for a judgement of acquittal has also been filed. These come as the defense notifies the court that a new attorney, Samuel Walker, will be joining Brown’s legal team. He’s from the same firm as the attorney that’s taken her through trial, James Smith III. Motion for a new trial WOKV was in the courtroom throughout the trial, including a hearing after a day and a half of jury deliberations where District Judge Timothy Corrigan told attorneys that a juror had contacted him about concerns with another juror. While much of the nature of that juror’s concerns were initially discussed in a closed session of court, WOKV has since obtained the transcript, which shows Juror 13 had said at the outset of deliberations that the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty on all charges.  Juror 13 was questioned by Corrigan and told the court he believed he was following instructions to consider the evidence presented at trial and the law as instructed. He further said his religious or moral believes were not interfering with his ability to decide the case as instructed. The juror who initially raised a concern to the court even said Juror 13’s statements weren’t getting in the way of the deliberations, according to the transcript.  Corrigan carefully worded his ruling in his decision to remove that Juror 13, saying sincerely held religious beliefs and prayers for guidance are not ground for dismissal, but Juror 13 making the statement that he did before the deliberations took hold show inconsistencies with the instructions. Corrigan also noted that Juror 13 said specifically that the “Holy Spirit” had directed him on the verdict.  Corrigan ruled that, while it seemed Juror 13 was “very earnest, very sincere” in his belief and attempt to follow the court’s instructions, his statement about the “Holy Spirit” directing his verdict was a “disqualifying statement”. That further led to the conclusion that there was “no substantial possibility” the juror could follow the court’s instructions and that he using an “external force” in his decision making.  In the motion for a new trial, Brown’s attorney, James Smith III argues that the record does not support the court’s conclusion that the “Holy Spirit” is an external force.  “There is a substantial possibility the holy spirit was actually the juror’s own mind or spirit telling him that one or more witnesses had not testified truthfully,” the motion says.  Smith focuses on the fact that Juror 13 believed he was deciding the case based on the evidence and the court’s instructions, and that he believed he was receiving “guidance” from “his father in heaven”. The motion argues that the court must find the juror’s dissent isn’t based on the evidence- beyond a reasonable doubt- and that wasn’t done here. Smith distinguishes Brown’s case from two cases which were cited in the decision to dismiss, because both of those cases involved eleven jurors testifying that the twelfth juror was refusing to follow the court’s instructions.  In his claim that Brown’s right to a unanimous verdict was violated, Smith argues the other jurors did not testify that Juror 13 wasn’t following the court’s instructions, and in fact one of the jurors had testified the statement wasn’t interfering in deliberations. According to Smith, Juror 13 showed his decision would be based on his thoughts and beliefs, and his determination of not guilty was based on his assessment of witness credibility.  Because of that, Smith argues the record doesn’t show beyond a reasonable doubt that Juror 13’s “not guilty” verdict was based on anything but the evidence, so Brown’s right to a unanimous verdict was violated.  Smith further argues Brown’s right to a jury of her peers was violated. In these arguments, Smith focuses on Corrigan’s statement that “there’s nothing wrong with praying for guidance”.  “If there is nothing wrong with praying for guidance from the holy spirit, then there can be nothing wrong with receiving guidance from the holy spirit,” Smith says in the motion.  He called on a Fourth Circuit case over the presence of a Bible in the deliberation room to further his argument, quoting portions of the ruling which speak to the interaction between religious beliefs and jury service.  “To ask that jurors become fundamentally different people when they enter the jury room is at odds with the idea that the jury be ‘drawn from a fair cross section of the community’,” the portion of the Robinson v. Polk case reads.  This builds to Smith’s argument that Juror 13’s reference to a “Holy Spirit” may not be an outside force, but may instead be evidence of his “appreciation of the seriousness of his duty” and “an aspect of their identity”.  “Indeed, for some, the holy spirit, whether one exists or not, may provide the strength to render whatever verdict the law and the evidence compel,” Smith argues in the motion.  He adds that dismissing a juror because of reliance on a “Holy Spirit” could risk excluding much of the population from jury service.  To close, Smith says determining the “Holy Spirit” is an external force is a “philosophical determination”.  “Accordingly, justice requires a new trial,” he says.  Motion for acquittal A second motion filed by Brown’s legal team says the government’s case didn’t establish “the essential elements” of the charges Brown faced. Several references are made to the testimony of Brown’s Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons. Brown’s defense was built on the argument that she became increasingly reliant on Simmons, and he took advantage of that trust. The defense argued Simmons controlled Brown’s finances and managed her office, and while she was negligent in handling her personal affairs, there was no intent of criminal wrongdoing. “Had she paid closer attention to her finances she might have discovered Mr. Simmons misdeeds,” the motion says. Instead, Smith argues the prosecution asked the jury to speculate about what Brown was thinking and to rely on “guilt by association”. “The government presented a purely circumstantial evidence case,” the motion says. Smith says a portion of Simmons’ testimony “eviscerated” the government’s theory about Brown’s guilt. “To the surprise of the government, Mr. Simmons provided exculpatory on behalf of the defendant. One of the government’s primary theories of guilt was that the defendant never intended to use any of the funds solicited from donor for charitable or legitimate purposes. Mr. Simmons testified it was in fact the intent with regard to the funds raised for the events and despite the government’s attempt to impeach him on that point he remained resolute,” the motion reads. That is referring to a portion of Simmons’ testimony where he said they always intended to use events to raise money for a sham charity organization called One Door For Education, but never could because of high costs. When asked by  prosecutors how long he would let the alleged mismanagement go on before changing something, Simmons could not give a definitive answer. The motion additionally says Brown never controlled One Door accounts or even served on the organization’s Board. She also had only met a third alleged co-conspirator, the President of One Door Carla Wiley- on a few occasions. Brown says she didn’t know that One Door was not a legitimate charity when she solicited donations, and in fact did see at least one example of their work paying off- when almost two dozen students were sent on an exchange trip to China. Finally, the motion argues that Brown’s innocence is boosted by the fact that she was acquitted on four of the charges. Smith writes it doesn’t make “logical sense” to believe Brown was involved in this scheme, but be acquitted on these charges. Case in review Brown was convicted on May 11th of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of aiding and abetting mail fraud, and seven counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud in connection to her soliciting money for a sham charity organization called “One Door For Education”. Prosecutors argued Brown, her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and One Door President Carla Wiley raised money for the group, but used the funds for personal expenses and lavish events.  Brown was also convicted of engaging in a scheme to conceal material facts, corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the due administration of internal revenue law, and three counts of filing a false tax return- generally involving Brown not reporting income she received from One Door and overreporting her charitable contributions.  Simmons and Wiley pleaded guilty ahead of Brown’s trial, and both testified for the prosecution. Brown took the stand in her own defense, claiming she was taken advantage of by Simmons. Sentencing dates have not yet been set for any of the three, with all remaining out of prison as the court proceedings continue.
  • “The Holy Spirit” told him now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was not guilty on all charges.  We’re getting new insight in to the reason one of the initial members of the jury in Brown’s federal fraud trial was removed from the case, a day and a half after deliberations started. WOKV previously reported that a juror expressed concerns about another juror’s comments about “higher beings”, and that ultimately led to the dismissal of the juror who made the comments. The discussion between the Judge and attorneys, as well as juror interviews which supported the excusal, were made during a hearing session that was closed to the public, though, so the exact details weren’t initially available.  Now, a transcript of that roughly 90 minute proceeding has been unsealed.  FULL COVERAGE: The federal fraud trial of now-former Congresswoman Corrine Brown The release of the transcript comes at the request of several media organizations, including Cox Media Group on behalf of WOKV. It was discussed during a Monday hearing that followed Brown’s convictions last week on 18 of the 22 federal charges she had faced. The Judge allowed her conditions of release to remain in effect, meaning Brown will not go to prison pending her sentencing hearing, unless she violates terms put in place by the court. The transcript The closed door session began with District Judge Timothy Corrigan reminding Juror 8- who was the one who notified the court of the concern- that she was not being asked to disclose her position in the ongoing deliberations or the opinions of the other jurors. Instead, he focused in specifically on her call to the courtroom deputy.  Juror 8 told Corrigan she wrote a letter explaining her concern, in case she didn’t get a phone call.    The letter was read by Corrigan and shared with the attorneys. It says Juror 8 was concerned because Juror 13 said “A Higher Being told me Corrine Brown was Not guilty on all charges”. The letter says Juror 13 then went on to say he “trusted the Holy Ghost”.  Upon further questioning from Corrigan, Juror 8 said the first comment was made right at the start of deliberations. The second part was made within a few hours. Juror 13 had not said anything similar since that time. Juror 8 said the comments were not interfering with the jury’s ability to deliberate, but she was concerned it would interfere with Juror 13’s ability to make a decision as the court instructed- based solely on the evidence and testimony presented at trial and the law they were instructed on as it relates to the case.  While Juror 8 believed other jurors shared the same concern she had, she told the court that she had come forward on her own, and that the others likely didn’t even know she had.  After Juror 8 was excused from the hearing room, Assistant US Attorney A. Tysen Duva called the text of her letter “pretty startling”. He said potential jurors are asked during the selection process whether they can set aside religious and philosophical beliefs, and that it appeared Juror 13 may not be able to do that. He asked Corrigan to call in the foreperson to see if she had a similar view of what was taking place.  “Because if it’s affecting the deliberation overall, we all know what that result could be. And I don’t think anybody wants that. And so I think that has to be the inquiry: Is this viewpoint affecting the jury’s ability to reach a verdict, whatever that verdict might be? Because I think the worst scenario here is to stop at this point and sort of hope for the best. I think—I think with an issue like this that came up so early in the jury deliberations, we might all be headed for trying this case a second time. And I don’t think anybody wants that,” Duva said.  Defense Attorney James Smith III disagreed, though, saying the information available didn’t indicate that Juror 13 was not fulfilling his duties. In fact, he pointed out that Juror 8 told the court Juror 13 appeared to be participating in deliberations.  “I can understand why there might be a threshold concern with this as initially reported to the court, but I think, given the answers that we’ve received now from the juror, that it’s not affecting her deliberations. Absent any information to show that this juror is refusing to follow the court’s instructions, I don’t believe that anything additional needs to be done, frankly, at this point,” Smith said.  Corrigan agreed that he didn’t need to make further inquiry with other jurors, siding instead with speaking straight to the juror in question, Juror 13.  “It really is a fine line, because, obviously, people pray for guidance and so forth, and I—you know, that’s certainly to be respected. On the other hand, if this juror is, in effect, raising some religious view that would prevent him from ever determining that a defendant was guilty on charges or that Ms. Brown was guilty on charges, that is problematic,” Corrigan said.  Corrigan went on to question whether Smith would feel the same if the juror had indicated a higher being told him Brown was guilty, rather than innocent.  Corrigan decided to interview Juror 13, but used a different elevator to usher Juror 8 out and bring in Juror 13, so that the movement of those involved were not visible to the press.  The questioning of Juror 13 started broadly, seeing if the juror remembered the questioning on this line from the selection process. Juror 13 said he did remember, and that he was not having any religious or moral beliefs that were interfering with his ability to decide the case as instructed. He did confirm to Corrigan that he had expressed a religious sentiment to other jurors.  “I told them that in all of this, in listening to all the information, taking it all down, I listen for the truth, and I know the truth when the truth is spoken. So I expressed that to them, and how I came to that conclusion,” said Juror 13.  Juror 13 said he had prayed about the matter and had received information on what to do from “My Father in Heaven”. Despite that, Juror 13 maintained that he was basing his decision on the evidence presented at trial and the law as instructed.  When Juror 13 was excused so the court could further discuss the matter, Duva immediately expressed his concern about some “very damaging things” said by Juror 13.  “This is a juror who is guided by what he believes a deity told him to do, and is apparently implementing that, and not by the court’s instructions on the law. There is nowhere in the court’s instructions on the law where it says that it’s permissible to receive information from a god or higher power and implement that and impose that on the deliberative process,” Duva said.  Again, Smith disagreed, noting that the juror believed he was still following the court’s instructions.  “I think a fair reading here—what may have happened is that, as a person of deep faith, and perhaps like many people with deep faith, has prayed for clarity, the ability to be fair, the ability to be calm, but I did not hear this juror say, I came in with a view given to me by god, and I’m going to go with that, I’m going to follow God no matter what,” Smith said.  Smith said he had concerns this juror would be removed “simply because he is a man of faith”.  To distinguish between the comments relayed by Juror 8- which could amount to a “religious intrusion” in the deliberations- and Juror 13’s sincere religious beliefs- which could include praying for guidance- Corrigan called Juror 13 back in to directly ask him if he made the comments that had been reported to the court.  Juror 13 confirmed that, at the start of deliberations, he said “the Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty on all charges.  Duva then moved to remove Juror 13 from the panel and seat the first alternate, noting specifically that making that comment at the start of deliberations shows that he wasn’t following the court’s order. Smith said because the juror maintained that he was considering evidence, there was no valid basis for removal.  Ultimately, Corrigan cited some case law which said a juror should be excused only when “no substantial possibility exists” that a decision is being based solely on evidence in his decision to remove Juror 13. He added that “sincerely held religious beliefs” and praying for guidance are not in themselves grounds to dismiss, but Juror 13’s statements and the timing of the statements show inconsistencies with the law as instructed.  “Because, by definition, it’s not that the person is praying for guidance so that the person can be enlightened, it’s that the higher being—or the Holy Spirit is directing or telling the person what disposition of the charges should be made,” Corrigan said.  Four alternates were seated for the trial and all of them sat through the proceedings without knowing they were alternates. They were then kept in the courthouse once deliberations began, although they were not in the deliberation room. Once Corrigan excused Juror 13, the conversation moved to whether to seat an alternate or proceed with 11 jurors.  Duva and Smith conferred, and agreed an alternate should be seated. Juror 5 was the first alternate in the selection process and was installed on the panel.  Corrigan did note that his ruling could potentially be an issue raised on appeal.  The newly reformed jury was instructed to start their deliberations over. About a day and a half later, they returned with unanimous verdicts convicting Brown on 18 of the 22 federal charges she faced, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, filing false tax returns, and more. She was found not guilty on two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud.  The charges all stem from Brown’s role in a sham charity called One Door For Education. She, her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and One Door President Carla Wiley raised more than $800,000 in donations to the charity, but used the money for personal expenses instead, according to prosecutors.  Despite the convictions, Brown is maintaining her innocence. Shortly after the verdicts, Smith said he intends to file a motion for a new trial and take other measures. The defense has said Brown did not closely manage her finances and office, relying instead on Simmons, who betrayed her trust. They said any wrongdoing was a mistake, and not criminal.  Simmons and Wiley both pleaded guilty and testified in the trial.  Other juror contact During a Monday hearing, Smith told the court that he had been contacted by one of the jurors about an issue the juror believed would help his appeal. Corrigan told Smith to file a motion if he wanted to contact the juror, and Smith said he would. Duva indicated he would want any such interview to be conducted in the presence of a court report.  Corrigan further said another juror had reached out to a court officer to express concern about how some of Juror 13’s comments were being characterized in the media. The juror claimed statements that Juror 13 was voting not guilty because what he was told by the Holy Spirit was “not true in the partial vote we had taken prior to removal”. It’s unclear whether the “not true” was referring to how the comment was being characterized or how the voting was taking place, but Corrigan noted that jurors should not be contacting the court to talk about deliberations.  EDITOR’S NOTE: All of the direct quotes in this article are attributable to the court transcript, not to WOKV’s independent confirmation of what was said. 
  • He describes it as the 1st quarter in a legal football game.   Just about an hour after former Congresswoman Corrine Brown was found guilty on 18 of 22 charges in her federal fraud trial, her defense attorney, James Smith, was already vowing this would not be the end of the legal fight.   Speaking outside of the federal courthouse Thursday afternoon, Smith says he will file a motion for a new trial, though he didn't release any specifics of his plan.   Smith says his client maintains her innocence and that she is 'strong' and will keep fighting.   On the topic of sentencing, Smith says Brown will not get 'anything remotely close' to 357 years in federal prison. He also says that he hopes any sentences she gets will factor in the 'good' she has done.   Smith says he's sad about the result, but the sun will rise tomorrow. Meanwhile, Brown has released a statement of her own, following the 18 convictions: 'While I respect the jury's decision I disagree with it and I want to make it clear that I maintain my innocence. I did not commit these crimes and I intend to file a motion for a new trial. I will continue to stand on my record of decades of faithful service to this community and the nation. I have a long record of charitable service to the community and that will continue even during this process. I want to thank my family and friends for their prayers and support during this difficult time. I ask that you continue to pray for and support me. This fight is not over and as I'm sure you know I will continue to fight to clear my name and restore my reputation.

The Latest On-Air Coverage

The Trial of Corrine Brown

Former congresswoman Corrine Brown has returned to Duval county to answer federal charges of conspiracy and fraud. We go in-depth to dissect the latest from inside the courtroom

Verdict of Corrine Brown

Topics: Former congresswoman Corrine Brown has been found guilty on 18 counts.
Posted: May 11, 2017

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  • Andy Szasz was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012 and beat the initial cancer after receiving treatment, but after falling ill with pneumonia in December, he was rushed to the hospital and placed into an induced coma the next day when he stopped breathing. >> Read more trending news Doctors at Southampton General Hospital in England estimated he would be in a coma for a week, but they were surprised when he woke up after just four days with the help of his dog, Teddy, a 4-year-old schnauzer-poodle mix. While waiting for him to come out of a coma, Andy’s wife, Estelle, received special permission to bring Teddy into the hospital. Pet visits usually take place outside the hospital, but hospital staff made an exception for Teddy. Inside Edition reported that Andy woke up from his coma as soon as Teddy entered the hospital room and started barking. “Ted is such a remarkable little dog in many ways,” Andy said. “He’s clever, loving, loyal, funny and a right little character.” >> Related: Mastiff named Martha crowned world’s ugliest dog Fiona Hall, senior sister for the general intensive care unit, told the Daily Mail that having pets around during recovery can be incredibly beneficial for patients, their friends and families, and hospital staff. “It can be motivational, aiding recovery, and can provide a pleasant and familiar experience in what can otherwise prove to be a long, uncomfortable journey in hospital,” she said. For helping his owner wake up, Teddy was recognized by the U.K.’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the same organization Andy adopted him from, under a special animal category. He was the only animal to win an award under the newly-created category.  >> Related: Dog saves family with nine children from house fire
  • An overweight passenger on a Spirit Airlines flights from Las Vegas to Denver said he was embarrassed and humiliated by the airline when it took away one of two seats he had booked in order to fly more comfortably. >> Read more trending news Jose Cordova told Denver 7 that he bought two seats on both his original flight to Vegas and for the return trip because of his size. 'I am a big person and I know one seat wouldn't fit for me, and to be comfortable, I wanted to have two seats,' Cordova said.  'You don't want to overhang on someone else's lap, so you want to make sure you have that extra seat without bothering anybody.'  Cordova said his flight to Vegas was fine, but Spirit overbooked his return flight and took one of his seats without asking. >> Related: United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from flight “They stole one of his seats. They sold it out from under him,” Denver 7 quoted one of Cordova’s friend Scott Tenorio as saying. Spirit apologized to Cordova and said it was refunding the cost of his flights. It also said it was investigating what happened.
  • A 14-year-old girl fell 25 feet from a gondola ride at Six Flags Amusement Park in Queensbury, New York, Saturday night as a group of park guests gathered under her to help break her fall. >> Read more trending news The “Sky Ride” was stopped at the park about 55 miles north of Albany when the accident happened, according to CBS News. The teenager was on the ride with a child relative when she fell from the two-person car, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.  The ride was stopped after the operator was told of a rider in distress, CBS reported. The video shows the girl somehow slipped through the safety bar, which briefly held her aloft while she dangled in the air. The teen from Delaware struck a tree before landing in the crowd, which had gathered to catch her. She was treated at the park, then taken to an area hospital. >> Related: Girl, 11, dies after falling out of ride at water park Park officials said the ride was working properly. “There does not appear to be any malfunction of the ride, but we have closed the attraction until the a thorough review can be completed,” USA Today reported park officials said in a statement. Another person was injured as he was trying to help catch the girl.
  • A missing North Carolina teenager, who vanished last year, has turned up at a home in Georgia. Hailey Burns, now 17, has been reunited with her family at an undisclosed location in Georgia, according to law enforcement sources. >> Read more trending news A FBI special agent in Charlotte learned of information that led investigators to a home in Duluth, Georgia, where they found Burns. A man found at the home, Michael Ren Wysolovski, was taken into custody and is now facing a number of state charges, the FBI said. The FBI in Charlotte and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will continue their investigation into Burns' disappearance and will work closely with the FBI Atlanta and the Gwinnett County Police Department.  Burns  was last been seen at her Charlotte-area home on May 23, 2016. Police said at the time they had information that she may have left of her own accord and they weren’t sure if she had help. “You have to let go of the hope that she will just walk through the door, the teen’s mother, Shaunna Burns, said in a later interview. “We are past that point. She is not just going to come home in the middle of the night. You have to hope that they still find her, wherever she is.” >> Related: Body, likely missing Arkansas boy, found after 3 relatives discovered dead “You have to distract yourself because you will drive yourself crazy wondering what you could have done, or could be doing,” her father, Anthony Burns, said after his daughter disappeared.
  • Like other first year students corralled in Wesleyan College’s auditorium in Macon, Georgia, Dana Amihere didn’t know what to make of the spectacle unfolding on stage. >> Read more trending news It was fall 2006 and the freshman had been awakened in the dead of night. A group of sophomores stood on stage yelling, screaming and cheering as part of a hazing ritual that seemed part pep rally, part seance, she said. But one feature struck Amihere, an African American, about the young women on stage tormenting the first year students: They wore purple, hooded robes. “They looked just like Klan robes,” she said. “It was kind of like bells and whistles going off.” Amihere had no idea at the time how close she was to the truth. For more than a century, the nation’s oldest college chartered for women has had historical links to the Ku Klux Klan that have never been formally acknowledged. Its class names in 1909, 1913 and 1917 were the Ku Klux Klan. The 1913 yearbook is named the “Ku Klux.” A sketch of a masked night rider on horseback galloping under crescent moon graces the title page. The 1910 yearbook contains a prominent sketch of a female figure in white hood and robe holding a burning cross. Read more here.

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