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Impeachment Trial Day 5: What to expect

Impeachment Trial Day 5: What to expect

The Latest News Headlines

  • A Florida woman and her grown son were indicted Wednesday in the killings of her husband and sister that took place 25 years ago in New Jersey, according to authorities. Dolores Mejia Connors Morgan, 66, and Ted Connors, 47, both of Del Ray Beach, are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the 1994 slaying of Ana F. Mejia, 24, and the 1995 killing of 51-year-old Nicholas William Connors, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a news release. Both killings took place in the victims’ homes in Long Branch, a beachside city about an hour east of Trenton. A third person, Jose Carrero, 48, of Jackson Township, New Jersey, was also charged with murder in both homicides, Gramiccioni said. Carrero, who, like Morgan and Ted Connors, was arrested Jan. 10, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of second-degree conspiracy to commit murder in a plea deal with prosecutors. Media reports at the time of the killings indicated that Mejia considered her sister and brother-in-law her parents. An obituary that ran in the Asbury Park Press under the name Ana Mejia-Jimenez listed them as her mother and father, and Ted Connors as her brother. Mejia was found dead Dec. 8, 1994, in the bedroom of the apartment she shared with her boyfriend and her two young children, Gramiccioni said. “Mejia was stabbed multiple times and had a white powdery substance rubbed on her face when she was found. Her children were found safe within the residence,” the prosecutor said in a news release. Investigators initially believed it was cocaine that had been smeared on Mejia’s face, including inside her nose. According to NJ.com, however, the white powder found around Mejia’s nose and mouth was determined to be baby formula. Mejia had been stabbed 23 times and news reports at the time indicated her body was mutilated. Raw HTML blockedit “Six months later, on May 14, 1995, Long Branch police officers were dispatched to the Van Dyke Place home of Nicholas Connors, 51,” the news release said. “There, authorities found Nicholas Connors on a sofa, deceased after multiple gunshot wounds to the head.” Morgan, then 42, was the person who found him dead, NJ.com said. Two of the couple’s children, ages 13 and 12, were home but slept through the shooting. “By habit, he would wait for her to come home before going to bed,” then-Monmouth County Prosecutor John Kaye told the Asbury Park Press in 1995. “She found him on the couch, and there was blood all about.” Gramiccioni said last week that Carrero admitted conspiring with Morgan and Ted Connors “to kill Mejia in retaliation for what they believed were her actions to tip off law enforcement officers about the illegal activities of her boyfriend.” An Asbury Park Press article published in 1994 indicated that Mejia was slain a week after her boyfriend was arrested on drug charges. Raw HTML blockedit NJ.com reported Carrero said in court that Morgan feared her sister, who was allegedly working as a confidential police informant, would also tip detectives off about her illegal activities. She determined Mejia had to die, he indicated. Carrero told the court that he met with Morgan, who said she would pay him to help with the killing, and Ted Connors in the kitchen of the Connors home in 1994 to plan the hit on Mejia. He said he and Ted Connors planned to go to a party together the night of the crime to establish an alibi, NJ.com reported. He said he and Ted Connors left the party and parked down the street from Mejia’s house so no one would see Connors’ vehicle, the news site reported. They went to the house and Mejia opened the door for him and her nephew before returning to her bedroom. Carrero said he covered Mejia’s face with a pillow while Ted Connors stabbed her because he “didn’t want to see her” as she died, NJ.com said. After the murder, the pair returned to the party to maintain their alibi, Carrero said. “Carrero also admitted to conspiring with Ted Connors and Connors’ mother, Delores Morgan (then known as Delores Connors) to kill Nicholas Connors. Nicholas Connors was the adopted father of Ted and then-husband of Delores,” Gramiccioni said last week. Nicholas Connors “was killed in a successful effort to collect on a life insurance policy,” Gramiccioni’s news release indicated. NJ.com reported that Carrero said in court that he, Morgan and Ted Connors again sat at the kitchen table of the family’s home to plot out the husband and father’s killing. He said Ted Connors obtained a gun and Morgan went to work that night so she would not be home when her husband was slain. Carrero said he and Ted Connors again parked down the street from the house before walking to a side door and slicing the screen to make it look like a break-in. When they went inside, Carrero said he could hear a television in the next room. He said he remained in the kitchen while Ted Connors went in and shot his father, the news site reported. When he heard a second shot, he fled and ran to the car, with Ted Connors a couple of steps behind him, NJ.com said. News reports at the time indicated investigators almost immediately suspected the killings of Mejia and Nicholas Connors were related. Carrero said he was never paid outright for the crimes but Morgan loaned him cash at one point and he didn’t pay it back. He also lived at the family’s house for a while, rent-free, until Morgan kicked him out, the news site reported. As part of his plea deal, Carrero has agreed to testify against both of his codefendants. Gramiccioni said in exchange for his testimony, prosecutors would recommend consecutive sentences of five to 10 years in state prison for each of the two charges to which he pleaded guilty. The prosecutor said investigations into the Mejia and Nicholas Connors killings were launched back in 1994 and 1995 but the cases went cold. “Additional evidence recently uncovered by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Cold Case Unit and Long Branch Police Department resulted in charges being signed against the three defendants on Jan. 10, 2020,” Gramiccioni said. NJ.com reported last month that proof of the insurance payout Morgan received following her husband’s killing was part of the new evidence. An affidavit obtained by the site did not give the amount of the insurance payment she received. Cold case detectives also found that both the men accused in the crimes had confessed their alleged involvement to multiple friends. “The information given to (the friends) by Ted Connors and Jose Carrero is supported and proven to be true based on additional information discovered and confirmed in the current review of the file and additional investigation conducted over the last two years,” the affidavit read, according to NJ.com. The investigators also recently uncovered a transcript of a recorded conversation Ted Connors had with a friend about the crimes in 1995. Police re-interviewed one of the witnesses and obtained a new statement from him a couple of months ago, the affidavit said. Carrero’s sentencing was scheduled for June 5, but prosecutors told NJ.com it would not take place until he had testified against Morgan and Ted Connors. Both mother and son remain jailed without bond in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution.
  • A local man linked to the death of a woman has been sentenced for another crime. Action News Jax has been digging into Corey Binderim’s since he was named a person of interest in Susan Mauldin’s disappearance in November.  Corey Binderim pleaded guilty to uttering charges, a third-degree felony, for a counterfeit check.  Binderim was told he needed to pay Vystar Credit Union $5,000 in restitution.  Action News Jax has been following this story for months.  In October, 65-year-old Susan Mauldin disappeared from her home in Clay County Binderim had been hired to do some work for her at her house, but when he didn’t complete the job she asked for her money back.  Binderim was charged with her murder after her remains were found earlier this month by the FBI in a Georgia landfill after sifting through 7,000 tons of trash.  Judge Adrian Soud sentenced Binderim to 86 days in jail in Duval County on uttering charges.  He was given credit for that much time served already.  Now he’s waiting to be moved to Clay County to face more serious charges.  “You will be transported from the Duval County jail to the sheriff’s office in custody in Clay County to answer for the charges in Clay County. You will be held in the Clay County jail until further order of the court in clay county, do you understand that?” Judge Adrian Soud said.  We’ve reached out to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and the state attorney’s office to find out when Binderim is expected to leave Duval County.
  • Charles ‘Corky’ Rogers, a former football coach for The Bolles School, has died, Action News Jax has learned. He was a graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, where he was a three-sport star playing on the 1960 state champion football team and 1961 state baseball championship team.  He played for Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech and briefly for Don Shula with the Baltimore Colts. He coached at Lee and won 10 straight district titles from 1977-1986. He took over as coach at The Bolles School in 1989 and won seven state titles with two runner-up finishes. Among Florida coaches with more than 300 wins, Rogers is the only coach with fewer than 100 losses.  He amassed more high school football victories than any other coach in Florida.  “As legendary as they come, and was always very gracious to me and my family ... prayers up for the Rogers family ... RIP to a High School Icon,” Action Sports Jax’s Dan Hicken said in a tweet.  Rogers was 76.
  • Derrick Marks Jr.’s mother said he was hurting, mourning a best friend gunned down outside a central Alabama barbershop Tuesday. “I know you forever with me until we meet again,” Marks wrote on his Facebook page about three hours after Delquan McNeily, 21, was killed. Marks, 25, of Birmingham, decided to meet some friends to play video games and take his mind off his friend’s slaying. Minutes after leaving his home, Marks was also cut down by a bullet, AL.com reported. He died a short time later at St. Vincent’s East Hospital. “We never got a chance to see him,’’ Catrina Carey said of her son’s body. “I’m devastated. I haven’t eaten. I haven’t slept. I haven’t put my eyes on him.” The spate of violence began around 1:40 p.m. Tuesday when gunfire broke out outside Corey’s Barber Shop in Center Point, AL.com said. McNeily was found dead near the doorway of the business. David Agee, deputy chief of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, said the preliminary investigation indicated a group of men were arguing outside the barber shop, which AL.com reported is located in a heavily-populated commercial area. Witnesses from nearby businesses reported hearing at least five or six gunshots and seeing a vehicle speed away. “We don’t know what the argument was about, but weapons were drawn and a man was shot, and he is dead,” Agee said at the scene. AL.com reported that investigators determined McNeily and another man were arguing when a third person came out of the barber shop and opened fire, striking the victim. He was pronounced dead at 1:50 p.m. Marks was among the grief-stricken family and friends who gathered outside the barrier of police tape cordoning off the shop that afternoon, Carey told the news site. “They were best friends,’’ Carey said of McNeily and her son. “He used to be at my home all the time. They were very close. He was very sweet. He was the one in the bunch that never talked. He was on the timid side.” Carey said she saw her son when he came home from the crime scene in Center Point. Concerned about the violence and about how upset Marks was, she begged him to stay in that night. “I said, ‘Just don’t go back out. I don’t know what’s going on. Please just stay in the house,‘” Carey told AL.com. Marks got a phone call, however, and was soon packing up his gaming console to take with him to the Hunter Ridge Apartments in nearby Irondale, where he and friends planned to play for cash. He walked out the door around 6 p.m. and within 15 minutes, he had been fatally wounded. Carey told AL.com a bullet that struck Marks in the leg traveled internally to his heart, killing him. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 7:13 p.m., less than six hours after his best friend’s official time of death. The shootings took place about 6 miles apart. Irondale police officials told the news site Marks was found sitting in a vehicle in the apartment complex’s parking lot, which was littered with about three dozen shell casings. Investigators do not believe he was in the vehicle when he was shot. Carey said she believes her son may have been ambushed by someone who knew he was bringing cash to the apartment. She said she believes the two shootings in such a short time span are a coincidence. “In my heart, I don’t feel like one had anything to do with the other,” she told AL.com. Carey said she was still trying to comprehend both her son and his best friend being killed. “There’s so much violence in the neighborhood. We trying to talk to the kids, and the teens, and the young men, but the violence has just taken over,” she said. Carey said she will always remember the creative side of her son, who worked in refrigeration but dreamed of being a rapper. Marks had some success on the local rap scene under the stage name ABM Brazi. She urged the person who shot her son to surrender to police. “Whoever did it, especially if it was a friend, turn yourself in. You really hurt a lot of people,” Carey said, according to the news site. “I forgive you and I hope God blesses you, but I want justice served.”
  • Five teens accused of gunning down a 16-year-old girl during a botched marijuana robbery were caught on a doorbell camera arriving at and leaving the girl’s home, police and the victim’s family said. The teens have been charged with capital murder in the death of Madison Harris, 16, of Biloxi. According to the Biloxi Sun Herald, the suspects have been identified as Yakeshia Blackmon, 17; Willow Blackmon, 15; Jarvis Jermaine Cook, 17; Jasmine Joy-Sade Kelley, 15; and Jaquez Devonte Porter, 17. All five teens are being charged as adults in the homicide. The Sun Herald reported that Cook, who was already free on bond in connection with an aggravated assault case out of Gulfport, was ordered held without bail. The remaining four suspects were initially being held in lieu of $1 million bond. A judge on Wednesday revoked their bail at the request of Harrison County Prosecuting Attorney Herman Cox, the newspaper said. Biloxi police officers responded just before 2 p.m. Monday to a home on Rustwood Drive, where a caller told a 911 dispatcher a teen girl was having a “medical episode,” according to the Sun Herald. First responders found Harris, who had been shot in the hip area. Harris was taken to Merit Health Hospital, where authorities said she died during surgery. The caller, identified as Paultavius White, told detectives he was visiting Harris when the Blackmon sisters arrived with two teen boys and tried to rob Harris. According to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Sun Herald, White said he, Harris and Kelley were in a back bedroom when the two boys came to a window and pointed a gun at Harris, demanded she open it. White told investigators he recognized the boy with the gun as a teen nicknamed “Teflon,” the affidavit said. “Teflon” was later identified as Porter. The window was broken and would not open all the way, White told police. The Blackmon sisters entered the house, and then the bedroom, and Porter handed the gun to Yakeshia Blackmon, White said. White told detectives he grabbed Yakeshia Blackmon to take the gun from her and that it fired during the struggle. The bullet struck Harris in the hip. The affidavit said a Ring doorbell camera on the home caught footage of the Blackmon sisters, Cook and Porter entering the house. The footage showed them running out in separate directions after the shooting, with White chasing after them, the Sun Herald reported. James Waldeck, the fiancé of Harris’ grandmother, described the footage for WLOX in Biloxi. Waldeck told the news station Harris was at the home with White, who was a good friend of hers, while her father was in the backyard, raking leaves. She and her father, Stuart Harris, had lived there with her grandmother, Susan Richards, and Waldeck for about four years, following her parents’ divorce. “One girl came in, I saw on the Ring doorbell, about a half hour before,” Waldeck said. “And then, according to my Ring doorbell, four of them charged in an unlocked door here at the carport. And within a matter of 10 seconds, the shooting and screaming, and then them running out the door being chased by Paul, her friend, and then her dad.” White told authorities he believed Kelley, the youngest of the group, had set Harris up to be robbed by the sisters, the affidavit said. Detectives wrote that surveillance footage and neighbors indicated a red sedan with front-end damage had fled the scene just after the shooting, the newspaper said. Officers canvassing the neighborhood found a red Toyota Camry matching that description about 3 miles from the home, with Cook and another person inside. That person has not been charged in the case. The Blackmon sisters were arrested at their home across the street from the house where Harris was killed, the newspaper reported. A crew with WLOX was there covering the shooting when the girls were handcuffed and taken away. Detectives wrote in the affidavit that all five teens admitted to participating in the botched robbery, the Sun Herald reported. Their stories appeared to match what White told police. Waldeck told the news station Harris was friends with some of the teens accused of killing her. “They were in our house -- I thought as friends -- a number of different times, yes,” Waldeck said. “They just lived two or three houses down and across the street.” Waldeck said the friendly relationship changed after he and the other residents of his home suspected the teens broke in about two weeks before the shooting. “Of course, the police were called and we were pressing charges against that first crime, and we’re afraid this may have been retaliation against us reporting their crime,” Waldeck told WLOX. His interview with the news station may explain why the window didn’t open all the way when the teens were trying to get in to rob Harris. “We screwed the window shut so they couldn’t get in there,” Waldeck said. “We put deadbolts on the doors so that they had to be locked with a key to get in or out, but the carport door was unlocked and that’s where they made their way in.” Due to their ages, none of the teens are eligible for the death penalty if convicted of capital murder, the Sun Herald said. They would instead serve sentences of life in prison without parole. Waldeck said he believes the teens meant to kill Harris, who he described as “a beautiful young lady, completely innocent of all these things that have happened to her.” “She loved her music and she loved her friends,” Waldeck said. “She had a big laugh and always enjoyed herself, wherever she was.” Harris’ cousin, Peyton Harris, described the slain girl as being like an older sister. “She was always there for me and my cousins,” the teen said. “You know, she did nothing to deserve this, and I don’t know why this happened to her.” Waldeck said Harris loved her family, which included two brothers, a half sister and two stepbrothers. “She was a sweet girl who didn’t hurt anyone,” Waldeck told the news station.

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