Trial

Hearing Delayed In Penn State Frat Pledge's Fall Death Case

May 2, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A judge's illness is delaying a hearing for members of a Penn State fraternity charged after the FBI recovered security camera footage from a basement bar area the night a pledge was fatally injured.

Twelve members of the shuttered Beta Theta Pi chapter face the Wednesday preliminary hearing to determine if there's enough evidence to send the charges to county court for trial.

Officials say a substitute judge may take over and preside later in the day.

AG Drops Manslaughter, Assault In Penn State Frat Death Case

May 1, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania prosecutors are dropping involuntary manslaughter and assault charges against five Penn State fraternity brothers related to the death of a pledge ahead of a hearing to determine whether there's enough evidence to head toward trial on the remaining allegations.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the decision Tuesday, one day before the preliminary hearing for 12 members of Beta Theta Pi over the February 2017 death of 19-year-old Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey.

Bill Cosby Convicted Of Drugging And Molesting Woman

Apr 26, 2018
Mark Makela / Pool Photo via AP

Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America's Dad.

Jury To Deliberate After Cosby Painted As Predator, Victim

Apr 25, 2018
Matt Slocum / AP

Jurors at Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial are poised to start deliberating after a marathon day of closing arguments that portrayed the comedian both as a calculating predator who's finally being brought to justice and the victim of a multimillion-dollar frame-up by a "pathological liar."

The seven men and five women sequestered at a suburban Philadelphia hotel will start weighing charges on Wednesday in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. They begged off a late Tuesday start, saying they were exhausted from 5½ hours of arguments.

In Closing, Defense Calls Cosby Accuser 'Pathological Liar'

Apr 24, 2018
Matt Slocum / AP

Bill Cosby's lawyers urged a jury Tuesday to acquit the 80-year-old comedian of sexual assault charges they said were based on "flimsy, silly, ridiculous evidence," arguing he was falsely accused by a "pathological liar" scheming for a big payday.

The first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era was nearly in the hands of a jury after the defense declared that Cosby himself was the victim of an elaborate frame-up.

Judge Rules Jury Can Hear Bill Cosby's Quaalude Testimony

Apr 17, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

The jury at Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial can hear the comedian's decade-old testimony about giving quaaludes to women before sex, a judge ruled Tuesday, handing the prosecution a key victory in its effort to portray him as a serial predator.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A woman charged with falsely accusing two state troopers of rape has been ordered to stand trial in northeastern Pennsylvania.

A district judge on Friday ordered 37-year-old Christine Cromer to trial in Luzerne County Court on charges of filing false reports and unsworn falsification.

Authorities allege that Cromer falsely accused a trooper of raping her in a police cruiser in November 2016 and also provided false information in a protection-from-abuse application when she said she was raped by another state trooper.

On Witness Stand, Accuser Calls Bill Cosby A 'Serial Rapist'

Apr 11, 2018
Dominick Reuter / AP

The first accuser to testify at Bill Cosby's retrial described the comedian Wednesday as "a serial rapist" as she parried with his lawyers, while a second accuser tearfully confronted the comedian over a 32-year-old assault allegation: "You remember, don't you, Mr. Cosby?"

The courtroom dramatics prompted mistrial requests from Cosby's lawyers — which were denied — as prosecutors began putting on a parade of women who say Cosby drugged and molested them long before he met Andrea Constand, the chief accuser in his sexual assault retrial.

Bill Cosby's Sex-Assault Retrial Won't Be Like The First One

Apr 9, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

With opening statements in Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial set for Monday, prosecutors have lined up a parade of accusers to make the case that the man revered as "America's Dad" lived a double life as one of Hollywood's biggest predators.

Matt Rourke / AP

Bill Cosby will be back in Montgomery County court Monday for what is expected to be two days of pre-trial hearings. His defense team will argue that the case against the 80-year-old entertainer should be tossed, while the county district attorney will seek to add 19 accusers to the case against the Philadelphia-born comedian.

Here’s what will be same during Cosby’s retrial on sexual assault charges: the judge, the criminal charges, the Norristown location, and the lead prosecutor.

Keystone Crossroads

The gerrymandering case that could force a new congressional map continued Tuesday in Harrisburg.

Eighteen Democrats are suing, alleging Pennsylvania’s map – considered the nation’s most gerrymandered, by some measures – was drawn unfairly by state GOP leaders to advantage Republicans.

So far, the minutiae of mapmaking have dominated testimony.

Expert Testifies Pennsylvania Congressional Map Shows 'Extreme Partisan Intent'

Dec 12, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

A political scientist serving as an expert for voters challenging Pennsylvania's congressional districts testified Monday that "extreme partisan intent" by Republicans appears to have been the predominant factor in producing a map that has disproportionately favored GOP candidates.

University of Michigan professor Jowei Chen said during the first day of a Commonwealth Court hearing over the 2011 maps that none of the hundreds of computer simulations he has run has produced a map so favorable to Republicans.

Second Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Challenge Heads To Trial

Dec 11, 2017
Keystone Crossroads

A state court trial over congressional district boundaries is about to get underway in Pennsylvania as a parallel case awaits a decision in federal court.

The Commonwealth Court proceeding Monday in Harrisburg was put on a fast track by the state Supreme Court a month ago.

The lawsuit by a group of voters says the 2011 Republican-drawn map is too partisan and violates the state constitution. They want a new map.

A separate challenge was the subject of a federal trial last week in Philadelphia.

Ex-Prosecutor: Cosby Paid Accuser Millions Of Dollars

Nov 6, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

A former prosecutor claims his decision in 2005 not to charge Bill Cosby with drugging and molesting a woman led to the comedian paying his accuser a settlement "well into the millions of dollars."

Bruce Castor's assertion in a lawsuit Thursday against the accuser, Andrea Constand, and her lawyers is the first time anyone has put a value on the confidential settlement.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Police have endured harsh public scrutiny over use of force cases, but prosecutors have also taken heat for choosing not to pursue cases when civilians are shot by police.

On this week’s episode of 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and host David Harris talks to David LaBahn, president and CEO of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, a national association representing elected and appointed prosecutors.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Jerry Sandusky Denied New Trial On Child Sex Abuse Charges

Oct 18, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Jerry Sandusky lost a bid Wednesday for a new trial and a chance to convince a jury he is innocent of the child sexual abuse charges that landed him a decades long prison sentence.

Judge John Foradora ruled that he was denying Sandusky's request for a new trial and dismissal of the charges.

The former Penn State assistant football coach's lawyers have 30 days to appeal the judge's decision to the Superior Court.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A Pennsylvania judge said Monday he will announce later this week whether to grant former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky a new trial or throw out child sexual abuse convictions against him.

Cliff Owen / AP

 

It’s been less than a week since U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair) announced he’s resigning from Congress, and the field for a special election to fill his seat is already highly contested. Murphy was forced to resign amid revelations of an extramarital affair in which the anti-abortion lawmaker allegedly urged his mistress to get an abortion.

Chris Knight / AP

A judge is hearing evidence of worried texts from Penn State fraternity brothers as he considers whether there's enough evidence to send charges related to a pledge's death to county court for trial.

Testimony resumed Monday in a preliminary hearing for the Beta Theta Pi chapter and 16 of its members, accused in the February death of 19-year-old pledge Tim Piazza after a night of heavy drinking.

Prosecutors introduced a text from the house pledge master that said "it's over" and that he didn't "want to go to jail" for it.

The Charges Against Bill Cosby And The Sentences They Carry

Jun 13, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

The fate of entertainer Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges is in the hands of a jury near Philadelphia, which began deliberations Monday.

A look at the charges, and the punishment he could face if convicted:

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WHAT IS COSBY ACCUSED OF?

Matt Rourke / AP

Prosecutors' case against Bill Cosby drew toward a close Friday with the jury hearing the comedian's damaging, decade-old testimony about giving quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.

Testifying under oath in 2005, the TV star said he had obtained several prescriptions for the now-banned sedative in the 1970s but didn't take them himself, according to the deposition read to the jury.

"When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?" Cosby was asked.

"Yes," he said.

Jury May Soon Hear From Cosby, Even If He Doesn't Take Stand

Jun 8, 2017
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AP, Pool

A jury that heard seven hours of testimony from a woman who says Bill Cosby drugged and assaulted her may soon hear from Cosby himself — even if he doesn't take the stand.

Prosecutors are expected to show jurors an earlier deposition in which Cosby said that he routinely gave women pills and alcohol before sexual encounters and gave at least one of them quaaludes, a now-banned sedative.

The suburban Philadelphia jury on Wednesday heard trial accuser Andrea Constand offer her most direct denial yet that any of their earlier meetings were romantic.

Cosby's Accuser Stands By Her Story Under Cross-Examination

Jun 7, 2017
Mark Makela / AP, pool

The woman who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and violating her more than a decade ago stood by her story at his sex-crimes trial Wednesday, withstanding hours of often tedious cross-examination that didn't produce the stumbles the TV star might have hoped for.

Calm and composed, Andrea Constand brushed off suggestions she and Cosby had a romantic relationship before the 2004 encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home.

Cosby's Accuser Says She Was Drugged, Groped; 'I Was Frozen'

Jun 6, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP, Pool

Bill Cosby's chief accuser took the stand at his sexual assault trial Tuesday to tell her story publicly for the first time, saying the comedian groped her after giving her three blue pills that left her paralyzed and helpless.

"In my head, I was trying to get my hands to move or my legs to move, but I was frozen," Andrea Constand, a 44-year-old former employee of the basketball program at Temple University, Cosby's alma mater, said in their long-awaited courtroom confrontation. "I wasn't able to fight in any way."

She added: "I wanted it to stop."

Cosby's Lawyer Attacks 1 Accuser As Sex Assault Trial Opens

Jun 6, 2017
Matt Slocum / AP

Bill Cosby's lawyer asked jurors not to view him as a fallen celebrity on trial in a sexual assault case, but as a flawed man "whose infidelities have made him vulnerable" to these types of accusations.

Cosby, 79, the champion of fatherhood and family values, walked into court on the first day of the trial Monday without his wife of more than 50 years, Camille, or any of their four daughters. He was instead joined by a TV daughter, Keshia Knight Pulliam, who was 5 when he made her a child star on the "The Cosby Show."

Bill Cosby Goes On Trial, His Freedom And Legacy At Stake

Jun 5, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP, file

Bill Cosby went on trial Monday on charges he drugged and sexually assaulted a woman more than a decade ago, with a prosecutor warning the jury not to fall into the trap of confusing the 79-year-old comedian with the beloved family man he played on TV.

Fired Pittsburgh Sergeant On Stand In Civil Rights Trial

May 25, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A fired Pittsburgh police sergeant is set to continue testifying in his civil rights trial on charges he wrongly beat a drunken man and then lied about it in a report.

Former Sgt. Stephen Matakovich testified Wednesday that he thought 19-year-old Gabriel Despres was preparing to attack him and that he struck Despres to prevent that.

But federal prosecutors say a surveillance video of the incident doesn't support Matakovich, who is charged with deprivation of civil rights and falsification of a document.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

*UPDATED: May 22, 2017 at 5:39 p.m.

The panel that will decide Bill Cosby's fate in his sex assault trial began to take shape Monday with the selection of five jurors, three white men and two white women.

The search for 12 jurors and six alternates was expected to take several days. Experts believe lawyers on both sides will be considering race, sex, age, occupation and interests of potential jurors.

Cosby Prosecutors Seek To Use Jokes About Date Rape Drugs As Evidence

Mar 31, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Prosecutors preparing to try actor Bill Cosby on sexual-assault charges want to use not only his explosive deposition testimony about getting quaaludes to give to women before sex but also his riffs on trying to slip women the supposed aphrodisiac Spanish fly.

In a court filing Thursday, they say the comments show his familiarity with date rape drugs and should not be dismissed as "merely jokes." They quote Cosby making Spanish fly references in his 1991 book "Childhood" and in an interview that year with talk show host Larry King.

Verdict Turns Page In Penn State Child Molestation Scandal

Mar 27, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Penn State is trying to turn the corner on the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, but the former FBI director who authored a scathing report on it more than four years ago says more changes are needed, even after the conviction of the university's former president.

A jury's guilty verdict against Graham Spanier on Friday to a misdemeanor count of child endangerment made him the last of the three former high-ranking administrators to be held criminally culpable for how they handled a 2001 complaint about Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a team shower.

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