On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
91°
Partly Cloudy
H 90° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    91°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 90° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    87°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 90° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    78°
    Morning
    Partly Cloudy. H 82° L 73°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Florida Supreme Court lets stand dozens of death sentences, including 11 from the First Coast
Close

Florida Supreme Court lets stand dozens of death sentences, including 11 from the First Coast

Florida Supreme Court lets stand dozens of death sentences, including 11 from the First Coast
Photo Credit: Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee. (Scott Keeler/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Florida Supreme Court lets stand dozens of death sentences, including 11 from the First Coast

Almost a dozen men sentenced to death because of crimes committed on the First Coast have had those penalties upheld by the Florida Supreme Court.

The Court denied appeals relating to sentences for 30 cases in the past three days- including nine from Duval, one from Clay, and one from St. Johns- following their latest ruling that continues to refine Florida’s death penalty sentencing process. 

This all started in early 2016, when the US Supreme Court ruled Florida’s death penalty sentencing scheme unconstitutional through the Hurst case. At the time, the ruling was based on the fact that juries recommended a sentence, but were only advisory, and the judge issued the final decision. The state legislature passed a new law to address that, but then the Florida Supreme Court struck that down, saying a unanimous jury must now be required in order to impose the death penalty. 

That ruling, which came in October 2016, left open the question of what would happen with inmates on death row who had been sent there by a non-unanimous vote. That became more clear at the end of 2016. 

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in December 2016 that any death penalty imposed by a non-unanimous jury that became final before the 2002 Supreme Court case known as Ring would stand, because it was based on the understanding of the law at the time. In Ring, the High Court ruled Arizona’s death penalty sentencing scheme was unconstitutional, and while Florida’s law was discussed, there was nothing explicitly ordered for the state at the time. In the Hurst ruling, the Supreme Court determined Ring did, in fact, apply to Florida- hence the creation of that case as the dividing line. Subsequently, as appeals have been coming before the state’s high court, non-unanimous death sentences imposed and finalized after Ring have been sent for a new sentencing phase, while those pre-Ring have stood. 

The latest wrinkle that led the Florida Supreme Court to put pending appeals on hold was Hitchcock. In this case, the defendant argued that Hurst meant his non-unanimous death sentence was unconstitutional under both Florida and the US Constitution, even though it was finalized in 2000. The Florida Supreme Court ruled in August 2017 that they had consistently upheld the standard they had put in place, and as such, the defendant was not entitled to a new sentencing phase. 

With Hitchcock settled, in the last three days alone the Florida Supreme Court has denied appeals from 30 death row inmates. Eleven of those inmates are from the First Coast. 

Clay County 

Donald Bradley- sentenced to death for the 1995 murder of Jack Jones. He was also convicted of burglary in connection to this crime. The wife of Jones propositioned Bradley to intimidate and assault him but make it look like a home invasion, in response to an affair Jones was having with a teen girl. Bradley got two brothers- Brian and Patrick McWhite- to help, telling them it would be an assault. Bradley’s assault with a “war stick” and gun left Jones with injuries he ultimately died from. The brothers and Jones’ wife, Linda, were arrested as well. The jury recommended death for Bradley 10-2. 

St. Johns County 

John Marquard- sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of Stacy Willets. He was also convicted of armed robbery in connection to this crime. Marquard, Willets, and Mike Abshire drove from North Carolina to Florida, where they were all planning to move. The two men had talked about killing Willet for her car and money before leaving North Carolina, and while stopped in South Carolina, Marquard said he was going to kill her. In St. Augustine, the men lured Willet into the woods by telling her she was invited to a party, and ultimately Marquard stabbed her and pushed her face into a puddle until she stopped breathing. The two then tried to sever her head from her body. Abshire was also convicted and was sentenced to life. The jury recommended death for Marquard by 12-0 

Duval County 

Pressley Alston- sentenced to death for the 1995 murder of James Lee Coon. He was convicted of other crimes in connection to this, including robbery with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and more. Coon was last seen after visiting his grandmother at a Jacksonville hospital. Alston and his half-brother, Dee Ellison, were both arrested, and Alston confessed, saying they had planned a robbery a few days prior, but couldn’t find anyone to rob. A day later, they saw Coon, got in his car, took his watch and cash, and then fatally shot him. The jury recommended death for Alston 9-3. 

Marvin Jones- sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of Monique Stow. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Ezra Stow in connection to this crime. Jones bought a used car from Ezra Stow and wrote a check for the vehicle and repairs, knowing it would bounce. Stow’s daughter, Monique, called Jones to arrange payment, and Jones agreed to come by to give the money. Instead, he fatally shot Monique while she was in the restroom, and shot Stow when he reached for his own gun. The jury recommended death for Jones by 9-3. 

Jason Stephens- sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of 3-year-old Robert Sparrow III. He was also convicted of kidnapping, several counts of armed robbery, and other charges in connection to this crime. Stephens and several accomplices, including Horace Cummings and others who were never apprehended, broke in to the home of a man to steal money and marijuana. The toddler and many other people were in the home at the time, and they were held hostage by Stephens and his accomplices. When they left, Stephens took the toddler as “insurance” and left him in a car in a sunny area. He was found dead hours later. The medical examiner testified the toddler died from asphyxiation, but could not rule out hyperthermia. The jury recommended death for Stephens by 9-3. 

Ronald Clark Jr.- sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of Ronald Willis. He was also convicted of armed robbery in connection to this crime. Clark and another man, John Hatch, were hitchhiking, when Willis pulled over to pick them up. Clark ordered Willis to pull over, and then fatally shot Willis. The men dumped the victim’s body in a ditch, used his stolen car to drive around doing things through the night, and then retrieved the body, weighted it, and dumped it in the water off the Nassau County Sound Bridge. Hatch was caught in Nassau County and Clark was caught in South Carolina. The jury recommended death for Clark by 11-1. 

Etheria Jackson- sentenced to death for the 1985 murder of Linton Moody. Moody and his brother owned a furniture shop, and he had gone to Jackson’s home to get a payment for a washing machine from Jackson’s live-in girlfriend. Jackson assaulted Moody, had his girlfriend take Moody’s wallet and keys, choked him unconscious, hit him, and stabbed him multiple times. Jackson and his girlfriend hid the body in carpet and put that in the victim’s vehicle. Some of the stolen money was used to buy cocaine. The jury recommended death for Jackson by 7-5. 

Gregory Kokal- sentenced to death for the 1983 murder of Jeffrey Russell. Kokal and William O’Kelly picked up Russell, who was hitchhiking, and drove to a Jacksonville Beach park where they beat Russell with a pool cue and robbed him. Russell was then fatally shot. The jury recommended death for Kokal by 12-0. 

William Sweet- sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of 13-year-old Felicia Bryant. Sweet was also convicted of attempted murder and armed burglary in connection to this crime. Sweet is one of three men who had robbed and physically accosted a woman in her apartment, and the other two men had been identified. The victim asked a neighbor if her two daughters- including Felicia- could stay with her, and the neighbor agreed. The other daughter heard a loud kick overnight. She later saw someone pulling on the screen in the living room, and ultimately, they all saw Sweet outside. They alerted the girls’ mother, who came over, but as they all attempted to leave, Sweet forced his way in and opened fire, hitting the initial victim and Felicia. The jury recommended death for Sweet by 10-2. 

Steven Taylor- sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of Alice Vest. Taylor was also convicted of burglary and sexual battery in connection to this crime. Vest’s body was found in her bedroom, and the phone line to her home had been severed. She had been sexually assault, stabbed about 20 times with a knife and scissors, strangled, and hit with a metal bar and candlestick, among other things. Taylor and Gerald Murray were arrested for the crime, which Taylor said was a burglary gone badly. The jury recommended death for Taylor by 10-2. 

William Thomas- sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of Rachel Thomas, his wife. Thomas was also convicted of burglary and kidnapping in connection to this crime. Thomas planned to kidnap and kill his wife to avoid paying his portion of their impending divorce settlement. He beat her and tied her up and took her from the scene by vehicle, and she was never seen again. A friend of Thomas, Douglas Schraud, was involved in the kidnapping and was convicted. Thomas also received a life sentence for the murder of his mother, Elsie Thomas, with the motive to keep her from talking to police about his wife’s murder. The jury recommended death for Thomas by 11-1.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • More than 6 million people worldwide -- including more than 1.7 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Sunday, May 31, continue below: Crowds return to St. Peter’s Square to hear Pope Francis Update 8:48 a.m. EDT May 31: Crowds returned to St. Peter’s Square as Pope Francis resumed his traditional greeting from his window, CNN reported. It was the first time the pontiff has addressed a live audience since the lockdown in Italy began three months ago. Francis said he hoped people would “have the courage to change, to be better than before and to positively build the post-pandemic world.” Tourists were absent and only a few hundred people gathered. They wore masks and adhered to social distancing to listen to Francis, CNN reported. US coronavirus cases surpass 1.7M, deaths top 103K Published 12:05 a.m. EDT May 31: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States continued to climb past 1.7 million early Saturday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,747,085 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 102,836 deaths. The hardest-hit states remain New York with 369,660 cases and 29,710 deaths and New Jersey with 159,608 cases and 11,634 deaths. Massachusetts, with 95,512 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,768, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 118,917. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Six other states have now confirmed at least 50,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 109,509 cases, resulting in 4,136 deaths • Pennsylvania: 75,697 cases, resulting in 5,537 deaths • Texas: 62,675 cases, resulting in 1,652 deaths • Michigan: 56,969 cases, resulting in 5,464 deaths • Florida: 55,424 cases, resulting in 2,447 deaths • Maryland: 52,015 cases, resulting in 2,509 deaths Meanwhile, Georgia, Virginia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 42,000 cases; Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 34,000 cases; North Carolina, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 21,000 cases; Iowa and Arizona each has confirmed at least 19,000 cases; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 17,000 cases; Mississippi and Rhode Island each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases; Nebraska and Missouri each has confirmed at least 13,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 11,131; Kansas, Kentucky, Utah and Delaware each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 7,493; Arkansas and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.
  • Hours after a peaceful demonstration outside the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Duval County Jail, groups of people took violent action against Jacksonville Police and other first responders.  One officer was stabbed or slashed in the neck, according to Sheriff Mike Williams. The officers’ condition was not provided.  At least one JSO cruiser was on fire, and others were damaged when people jumped on top of them.   Sheriff Williams said the original protest was peaceful. But at approximately 6:30 pm, around 200 people began to ‘confront police officers, throw rocks and vandalize police cars’. That is when one officer was stabbed or slashed in the neck.  WOKV’s Hannah Lee was live on the air as police fired gas on the crowds in an attempt to get them to disperse. She witnessed multiple arrests. 
  • Nearly 6 million people worldwide -- including more than 1.7 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Saturday, May 30, continue below:  Trump postpones G7 after Germany backs out amid pandemic concerns Update 9:24 p.m. EDT May 30: President Donald Trump is postponing the Group of Seven summit, or G7, until later this year after Germany said it could not confirm participation, citing concerns about the coronavirus. Trump said he would like to move the meeting to September and include four other countries; Russia, Australia, India and South Korea, CNN reported. The G7 are the U.S., Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Japan. 'I'm postponing it because I don't feel as a G7 it probably represents what's going on in the world. It's a very outdated group of countries,' Trump said. Trump had previously planned to hold the event in person in Washington D.C. next month. “The Chancellor thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G7 summit in Washington at the end of June,” Merkel’s spokesperson said in a statement, CNN reported. “As of today, given the overall pandemic situation, she cannot confirm her personal participation, that is, a trip to Washington.” Minnesota governor expects spike in coronavirus infections amid protests Update 9:04 p.m. EDT May 30: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz expects to see a spike in coronavirus cases following the protests that have encompassed Minneapolis the last few days. 'I am deeply concerned about a super-spreader type of incident,' Walz said, CNN reported. 'We're going to see a spike in Covid-19. It's inevitable.' He has warned residents to stay indoors as protests have grown increasingly violent. Walz had already issued an 8 p.m. curfew that took effect Friday, CNN reported. Earlier Saturday he activated the Minnesota National Guard. Highways into Minneapolis were also shutdown at 8 p.m. Saturday. Walz said jails have the capacity to hold everyone taken into custody. There are 24,200 confirmed cases and 1,036 deaths from the coronavirus in Minnesota, according to The New York Times. EU urges Trump to reconsider relationship with WHO Update 4:25 p.m. EDT May 30: The European Union on Saturday urged President Donald Trump to rethink his decision to terminate the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization as spiking infection rates in India and elsewhere reinforced that the pandemic is far from contained. Trump on Friday charged that the WHO didn’t respond adequately to the pandemic and accused the U.N. agency of being under China’s “total control.” The U.S. is the largest source of financial support for the WHO, and its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organization. The head of the EU’s executive arm urged Trump to reconsider. “The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Germany’s Funke media group that Trump’s decision was the “wrong signal at the wrong time.” US cities fear protests may fuel new wave of virus outbreaks Update 4:20 p.m. EDT May 30: The massive protests sweeping across U.S. cities following the police killing of a handcuffed black man, George Floyd, in Minnesota have elevated fears of a new surge in cases of the coronavirus. Thousands of unmasked protesters have sent shudders through the health community, which worries its calls for social distancing during the demonstrations are unlikely to be heard. Minnesota’s governor said Saturday that too many protesters weren't socially distancing or wearing masks after heeding the call earlier in the week. But many seemed undeterred. “It’s not OK that in the middle of a pandemic we have to be out here risking our lives,” Spence Ingram, a 25-year-old black woman with a preexisting condition, told the Associated Press on Friday after marching with other protesters to the state Capitol in Atlanta. “But I have to protest for my life and fight for my life all the time.” Health experts fear that silent carriers of the virus who have no symptoms could unknowingly infect others gathering in large crowds. Images from many demonstrations show most protesters have been wearing masks, but that doesn’t guarantee protection from the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cloth masks because they can make it more difficult for infected people to spread the virus, but they are not designed to protect the person wearing the mask from getting the virus. Supreme Court allows California virus restrictions on churches in 5-4 split Update 1:45 p.m. EDT May 30: A divided U.S. Supreme Court late Friday upheld coronavirus restrictions placed on church gatherings by the state of California, as Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the four more liberal justices in backing the power of states to enforce measures for public health. “Although California’s guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” the chief justice wrote in the late-night ruling. “The notion that it is ‘indisputably clear’ that the government’s limitations are unconstitutional seems quite improbable,” Roberts added in a three-page 5-4 opinion. The ruling came on a request from a California church to dispense with limits on church gatherings imposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Golden State. The decision came just over a week after President Trump had very publicly pressured states to drop coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship. Cuomo signs bill for essential workers who have died due to COVID-19 Update 1:45 p.m. EDT May 30: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Saturday granting death benefits to the families of police officers, public health workers and other front-line workers who have died of the coronavirus. “You gave your lives for us, we will be there for your families going forward,” Cuomo said as he signed the legislation at his daily briefing on the virus. The bill passed by state lawmakers this past week provides an accidental death benefit that is more substantial than the regular death benefit that public workers’ families receive. Dozens of police officers, public health workers, transit workers and paramedics have died of COVID-19 in the months since New York became the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. Coronavirus cases in New York continue to fall Update 1:30 p.m. EDT May 30: New York City will begin phase one of its plan to reopen starting June 8, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The city has seen a significant decline in the number of new cases of the novel coronavirus since a peak in the city in early April. The numbers of new hospitalizations and deaths each day are also decreasing. At least five counties in the state have entered phase two of reopening. “Overall, that has been tremendous, tremendous progress from where we were,” Cuomo said Saturday. So far, 373,108 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state, according to the New York Times. The Times reported 29,535 people have died. These statistics, provided by the New York Times, show trends in the state over the last week: Peak -- April 4: 12,312 new cases; April 7: 1,055 deaths May 22: 1,678 new cases; 139 deaths May 23: 1,754 new cases; 98 deaths May 24: 1,601 new cases; 146 deaths May 25: 1,279 new cases; 92 deaths May 26: 1,044 new cases; 103 deaths May 27: 1,132 new cases; 98 deaths May 28: 1,758 new cases; 99 deaths US death toll passes 102,000 Update 8:27 a.m. EDT May 30: At least 102,836 people have died in the United States from coronavirus, according to the latest numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There have been at least 1,747,087 cases recorded nationwide. On Saturday, Johns Hopkins reported 1,068 new cases and 27 deaths. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories. Global cases near 6M, death toll tops 365K Update 7:49 a.m. EDT May 30: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 365,368 early Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 5,945,737 people worldwide. Meanwhile, 15 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,123. The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows: • The United States has reported 1,747,087 cases, resulting in 102,836 deaths. • Brazil has recorded 465,166 cases, resulting in 27,878 deaths. • Russia has confirmed 396,575 cases, resulting in 4,555 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 272,607 cases, resulting in 38,243 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 238,564 cases, resulting in 27,121 deaths. • Italy has reported 232,248 cases, resulting in 33,229 deaths. • France has confirmed 186,924 cases, resulting in 28,717 deaths. • Germany has reported 183,025 cases, resulting in 8,520 deaths. • India has recorded 174,301 cases, resulting in 4,981 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 162,120 cases, resulting in 4,489 deaths Washington’s stay-at-home order to end Sunday  Update 5:37 a.m. EDT May 30: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state’s stay-at-home order will expire on Sunday as planned. “Under this approach, counties will have more flexibility to demonstrate that they have the capability to stay on top of the virus,” Inslee said in a Friday news conference. “This does not mean, obviously, that we’re returning to normal. It means that, three months to the day after we declared a state of emergency, we’re successfully moving forward.” Mexico’s coronavirus death toll doubles in 2 weeks; Brazil’s deaths overtake Spain’s  Update 5:21 a.m. EDT May 30: Mexico’s novel coronavirus-related death toll stands at 9,415, the second-highest count in Latin America, meaning it has nearly doubled in only two weeks and trails only Brazil in the region. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, Mexico has confirmed a total of 84,627 cases, more than 3,200 of which were diagnosed Friday. Meanwhile, Brazil recorded an additional 1,124 virus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing its cumulative count to 27,878 and pushing the country past Spain’s total fatalities of 27,121. The South American nation also confirmed 26,928 new cases in the same 24-hour period, bringing the nationwide infection count to 465,166. US military personnel in South Korea test positive for COVID-19 Update 5:02 a.m. EDT May 30: A pair of newly assigned U.S. Forces Korea service members have tested positive for COVID-19, USFK said in a statement. The soldiers, who are being treated in the designated COVID-19 isolation barracks at Camp Humphreys, arrived at Osan Air Base May 27 on a U.S. government-chartered flight, USFK said. The pair were placed in mandatory quarantine upon arrival and have since tested positive for the virus. SCOTUS rejects request from California church to block restrictions on in-person services Update 3:42 a.m. EDT May 30: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Friday to reject a request from a California church to block restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend religious services during the coronavirus pandemic.  “Although California’s guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, explaining his break with fellow conservative justices in denying the request.  “Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports, and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time,” Roberts wrote. US coronavirus cases surpass 1.7M, deaths near 103K Published 12:51 a.m. EDT May 30: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States continued to climb past 1.7 million early Saturday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,747,085 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 102,836 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 368,284 cases and 29,646 deaths and New Jersey with 158,844 cases and 11,409 deaths. Massachusetts, with 95,512 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,718, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 117,455. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Six other states have now confirmed at least 50,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 106,910 cases, resulting in 4,088 deaths • Pennsylvania: 74,984 cases, resulting in 5,464 deaths • Texas: 61,630 cases, resulting in 1,635 deaths • Michigan: 56,621 cases, resulting in 5,406 deaths • Florida: 54,497 cases, resulting in 2,413 deaths • Maryland: 50,988 cases, resulting in 2,466 deaths Meanwhile, Georgia, Virginia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 41,000 cases; Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 33,000 cases; North Carolina, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 21,000 cases; Iowa and Arizona each has confirmed at least 18,000 cases; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 17,000 cases; Mississippi and Rhode Island each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases; Nebraska and Missouri each has confirmed at least 13,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 11,131; Kansas, Kentucky, Utah and Delaware each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 7,493; Arkansas and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.
  • Cleanup is underway at the College Football Hall of Fame Saturday morning. The popular Atlanta attraction was damaged and looted during violent protests in Atlanta on Friday night, Atlanta police confirmed in a statement. Kimberly Beaudin, CEO of the College Football Hall of Fame, told WSB-TV that no one got away with anything from inside the museum. “We inspected everything. None of the artifacts or treasures were damaged,' she told the news station. “The interior of the building is in tact.”  But there’s no question a lot of damage was done. Beaudin assessed the damage Saturday morning. Glass from the front doors could be seen scattered on the ground as well as tipped over merchandise displays in the gift shop. The College Football Hall of Fame is next to Centennial Olympic Park and a just a few blocks away from the CNN Center, where Friday’s protests later turned to riots. People smashed the front windows of the Hall of Fame’s gift shop with garbage cans and other objects to get inside, where they took items from the shop.  “All the damage appears to be contained to the front of the store. Obviously, the store was looted,' Beaudin said. “Some damage to the glass on the field, but primarily the store. It’s physical damage to property that we will fix.” The CEO said crews will work to secure the building and then start repairs to prepare the hall to reopen. The hall has been closed since March 16 and was in the process of enacting plans to reopen. “We will get it restored and get it open as soon as possible,' she said.  Beaudin added that she is heartbroken not only to see the damage at the hall but also to the city of Atlanta. “We completely support the right for peaceful protest. This, unfortunately, just turned into chaos and disorder so quickly,' she told WSB-TV.
  • More than 5.8 million people worldwide -- including more than 1.7 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Friday, May 29, continue below: Virus protection adds new wrinkle to Southwest heat relief Update 11:15 p.m. EDT May 29: Trying to stay safe during a global pandemic is hard enough, but people in Southwest desert cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas where temperatures can soar into the triple digits are also trying to protect themselves from the brutal heat. A 48,000-square-foot hall of the Phoenix Convention Center was being transformed Friday into a daytime heat relief center for homeless people, with city officials offering free transportation to get them there. But with most other government-run spaces like libraries and community centers still closed this week to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Salvation Army and other nonprofit groups were shouldering a big load of the responsibility for ensuring people stay cool and hydrated amid extreme heat warnings for some parts of the southwestern U.S. At a dozen of their sites in metro Phoenix, Salvation Army staff and volunteers Thursday asked people to wear masks, clean their hands with the alcohol-based sanitizer gel provided and stay at least 6 feet away from others as a precaution amid the virus outbreak. UN announces first 2 deaths of UN peacekeepers from COVID-19 Update 10:15 p.m. EDT May 29: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday announced the deaths of the first two U.N. peacekeepers from COVID-19. He made the announcement at a ceremony marking the International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers, saying both peacekeepers, who died Thursday and Friday, were serving in Mali. The U.N. said one was from Cambodia and the other from El Salvador. Guterres said the coronavirus pandemic has changed almost everything, but not “the service, sacrifice and selflessness” of the more than 95,000 men and women serving in the 13 U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world. According to the U.N. peacekeeping department, there have been 137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in U.N. peacekeeping operations, with the greatest number by far — 90 cases — in Mali. There were 21 cases in the U.N. mission in Congo, 17 in Central African Republic, three each in South Sudan and Cyprus, and one each in Lebanon, the U.N.-African Union mission in Sudan’s Darfur region, and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in the Middle East. Person tested positive at Lake of the Ozarks Update 9:15 p.m. EDT May 29: Health officials said Friday that they were seeking to “inform mass numbers of unknown people” after a person who attended crowded pool parties over Memorial Day weekend at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks tested positive for COVID-19. Camden County Health Department said in a release that the resident of Boone County in mid-Missouri tested positive on Sunday after arriving at the lake area a day earlier. Officials said there have been no reported cases of the virus linked to coronavirus in residents of Camden County, where the parties seen in videos and photos posted on social media took place. Because “mass numbers of unknown people” need to be notified, the officials released a brief timeline of the person’s whereabouts last weekend, including stops at a bar called Backwater Jacks, a bar and restaurant that has a pool, as well as a dining and pool venue called Shady Gators and Lazy Gators. Backwater Jacks owner Gary Prewitt said previously in a statement that no laws were broken, though the images appeared to show people violating Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s state order requiring social distancing. Parson allowed businesses and attractions to reopen May 4, but the state order requires 6-foot social distancing through at least the end of May. US judge won’t lift 50-person cap on Nevada church services Update 8:10 p.m. EDT May 5: A federal judge rejected a rural Nevada church’s request Friday for an emergency injunction that would allow it to exceed Gov. Steve Sisolak’s 50-person cap on religious gatherings. Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley filed a lawsuit against the governor last week that argued the previous ban on religious gatherings of more than 10 people was unconstitutional. Sisolak raised the limit to 50 people under strict social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus when he announced this week the reopening of several business categories previously considered non-essential. That cleared the way for casinos to open June 4 for the first time since mid-March. Washington DC starts reopening in fits and starts Update 6:50 p.m. EDT May 5: As the nation’s capital took the first tiny steps toward reopening Friday, the continued threat of coronavirus was ever present. Showing IDs was not enough at the Dacha Beer Garden in Washington’s Shaw neighborhood. Would-be customers had to answer a series of questions about any possible exposure to the COVID-19 and whether they themselves had shown any symptoms. “Please keep your mask on when you’re not dining and drinking,” hostess Amy Symonds told the patrons, laying out a series of rules and taking down everyone’s’ phone numbers before they were seated at socially-distanced tables. “It’s good to have some level of normalcy again,” said Jeff Gullo, who was one of the first in line to get in. Fifteen minutes after opening, nearly two dozen people were seated at the popular all outdoor facility. But the gradual reopening of the District of Columbia as a three-month stay-at-home order was lifted came in fits and starts, with not everyone ready for even a limited return to pre-pandemic normality. Barbers and hair salons welcomed back clients grown haggard from months of self-maintenance. Nonessential businesses, shuttered since late March, started offering curbside pickup. And restaurants that have been operating solely on takeout began limited outdoor seating. UK officials report 2,095 new cases of COVID-19 Update 6:20 p.m. EDT May 5: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 2,095 new coronavirus infections early Friday evening, raising the country’s number of COVID-19 cases to 271,222. The previous day, 1,887 new coronavirus cases were reported. Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced that a total of 38,161 have died in the U.K. due to the novel coronavirus. According to Johns Hopkins University, which releases its own numbers on a rolling basis, here are the countries with the highest numbers of reported coronavirus cases: 1) United States: 1,743,235 cases 2) Brazil: 438,238 cases 3) Russia: 387,623 cases 4) United Kingdom: 272,607 cases 5) Spain: 238,564 cases 6) Italy: 232,248 cases New Jersey announces reopening of child care centers, youth day camps Update 4:35 p.m. EDT May 29: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced plans to reopen more businesses and programs across the state. Murphy said child care centers can reopen June 15, and non-contact organized sports activities can resume June 22. Youth day camps can start July 6. “We want our children to be able to enjoy their summer with friends, participating in the activities that create lifelong memories,' he said. 'We know day camp is one of those memory building places.” Horse racing in the state can resume without fans beginning next weekend. Murphy said the data continues to move in the right direction, with new hospitalizations down by 70% since the state’s peak. To date, 11,531 people have died in New Jersey due to COVID-19. New Jersey health officials confirmed 158,844 coronavirus cases Friday. President Trump announces U.S. will pull out of World Health Organization Update 3:05 p.m. EDT May 29: President Donald Trump announced during a news conference Friday that the United States will terminate its relationship with the World Health Organization. The president said the move was made because he does not agree with the way the organization has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly but they have refused to act. Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,' he said. Trump called out China’s role in the spread of the virus. “The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency,' he said. New York City to begin opening June 8  Update 2:50 p.m. EDT May 29: New York City is on track to begin reopening on June 8 as the state gradually loosens restrictions put in place during the coronavirus crisis. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made that announcement Friday, saying the nation’s worst pandemic hot spot is meeting goals set for hospital rates and testing. The governor said the city will “stockpile” personal protective equipment like masks, and will focus on infection rates in hot spots by ZIP code. Cuomo made the remarks as a large swath of upstate New York got the go-ahead Friday to reopen hair salons, retail shops and offices under strict guidelines. New York City remains the only region of the state that has not yet commenced economic rebirth. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier Friday that masks or face coverings are necessary for all employees and customers for reopenings to be safe and effective. Connecticut colleges and universities to hold in-person classes this fall Update 2:00 p.m. EDT May 29: Mark Ojakian, the president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, said the university system plans to reopen campuses this fall. CSCU consists of 17 campuses, including UConn and Yale, and will open Aug. 24, the Hartford Courant reported. The first day of classes will be Aug. 26. Ojakian said there will be safety policies and procedures put in place to keep faculty and students safe. “We still have a lot of planning to do and more questions need to be addressed in the coming weeks and months,' he said. Each school will have to prepare and present plans to reopen that meet state health and safety standards. Many classes will have online portions. According to the Hartford Courant, students will be able to attend in-person classes on campuses until Thanksgiving break. Students will be asked to leave campus for the holiday break and will remain off-campus, completing the rest of their courses and final exams virtually. Coronavirus cases continue to drop in New York; city prepares for phase one of reopening Update 12:20 p.m. EDT May 29: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is nearing milestones that would allow the city to begin reopening in the next few weeks. “We are confident that we will be able to go to phase one in the first two weeks of June,' he said during a news conference. “This is going to be based, of course, on the tangible indicators and thresholds from the state and the city. So that’s what will lead the decision. We have to have that factual evidence.' De Blasio said officials have not confirmed which day phase one will begin. He said officials are conducting conversations that will help them determine “the exact right date to start.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus are down. De Blasio said Thursday that 5% of New York City residents tested positive for COVID-19. “Every day we’ve seen progress in recent weeks, today the lowest we’ve ever seen,” he said. “Congratulations everyone, this is putting us well on the way to our goal of opening in the first half of June. Well done NYC.' Sen. Bob Casey tests positive for COVID-10 antibodies Update 11:55 a.m. EDT May 29: Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey revealed Friday morning that he received a positive test result from a COVID-19 antibody test, which means that he “likely had COVID-19 at some point over the last several months and [has] since developed an antibody response to the virus,” he wrote in a statement. Casey said he experienced a low-grade fever and mild flu-like symptoms for days and he contacted his physician, but he was never tested for the coronavirus. He said he self-isolated and continued to work remotely, as his symptoms were “mild and manageable.” “I will continue to follow the guidance of public health experts by wearing a mask in public and observing social distancing practices, and I hope that others will do the same to help slow the spread of this virus,' Casey wrote in the statement. Doctors sue for mail access to abortion pill during coronavirus pandemic Update 5:55 a.m. EDT May 29: A group of doctors, in concert with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, challenging a rule that requires patients to visit medical facilities in order to obtain abortion pills. In the suit, the physicians argue patients should be allowed to have prescriptions for the drug mifepristone filled by mail, avoiding direct contact with potentially contaminated health care settings during the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Of the more than 20,000 drugs regulated by the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration,) mifepristone is the only one that patients must receive in person at a hospital, clinic or medical office, yet may self-administer, unsupervised, at a location of their choosing,” the lawsuit states. Tyson Foods shuts down 7th meatpacking facility amid latest coronavirus outbreak Update 2:53 a.m. EDT May 29: Tyson Foods shut down its Storm Lake, Iowa, pork processing plant temporarily, following the latest novel coronavirus outbreak to infect the company’s operations. Citing a “delay in COVID-19 testing results” as a partial reason for the facility’s idling, the company issued a statement attributing the shutdown to “team member absences related to quarantine and other factors” as well. According to the Des Moines Register, 555 of the Storm Lake plant’s 2,517 employees have tested positive for the virus. The two-day stoppage is intended to allow for deep cleaning and sanitization with plans to reopen for business next week, the company statement said. Since the onset of the global pandemic, Tyson has shuttered six other facilities temporarily, including facilities in Waterloo, Columbus Junction and Perry, Iowa, as well as Dakota City, Nebraska; Logansport, Indiana; and Pasco, Washington, the Register reported. Iowa has confirmed a total of 18,586 novel coronavirus cases, resulting in 506 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. US deaths near 102K, total cases soar past 1.7M Published 12:49 a.m. EDT May 29: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 1.7 million early Friday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,721,750 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 101,617 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 366,733 cases and 29,529 deaths and New Jersey with 157,185 cases and 11,409 deaths. Massachusetts, with 94,895 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,640, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 115,833. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Five other states have now confirmed at least 53,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 103,813 cases, resulting in 3,993 deaths • Pennsylvania: 74,220 cases, resulting in 5,373 deaths • Texas: 60,395 cases, resulting in 1,611 deaths • Michigan: 56,014 cases, resulting in 5,732 deaths • Florida: 53,285 cases, resulting in 2,364 deaths Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut and Virginia each has confirmed at least 41,000 cases; Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 33,000 cases; North Carolina, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases, followed by Iowa with 18,586 and Arizona with 17,877; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 16,000 cases; Rhode Island and Mississippi each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases; Nebraska, Missouri and South Carolina each has confirmed at least 10,000 cases; Kansas, Kentucky and Delaware each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; Utah, the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 7,364; Arkansas and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.

The Latest News Videos