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LA schools strike enters third day as bargaining resumes

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(LOS ANGELES) -- More than 30,000 picketing Los Angeles school service employees are expected to return to work on Friday after a planned three-day strike prompted the city's mayor to intervene and jumpstart labor negotiations.

The job walkout by the Service Employees International Union Local 99 -- which includes bus drivers, cafeteria workers and special education assistants -- began on Tuesday, forcing the Los Angeles Unified School District to cancel classes for 420,000 students for three straight days.

"SEIU Local 99 school workers plan to return to schools Friday, March 24," the union said in a statement.

While no contract settlement has been reached, both sides have returned to the bargaining table at the urging of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. No specifics on the negotiations were made public.

Bass' office released a statement saying the mayor "will continue to work privately with all parties to reach an agreement to reopen the schools and guarantee fair treatment of all LAUSD workers."

Max Arias, president of SEIU Local 99, issued a statement Wednesday evening welcoming Bass' involvement in the negotiations.

"We are grateful that the mayor has stepped in to provide leadership in an effort to find a path out of our current impasse," Arias said. "Education workers have always been eager to negotiate as long as we are treated with respect and bargained with fairly, and with the mayor's leadership we believe that is possible."

School district officials also released a statement, saying, they "have been in conversation with SEIU Local 99 leaders with the assistance and support of Mayor Bass."

"We continue to do everything possible to reach an agreement that honors the hard work of our employees, corrects historic inequities, maintains the financial stability of the district and brings students back to the classroom," the LAUSD's statement reads. "We are hopeful these talks continue and look forward to updating our school community on a resolution."

The striking service employees, backed by the powerful United Teachers Los Angeles union, began the final day of the strike by gathering at the school district's bus yard. The workers are planning to hold a large rally later Thursday at the Los Angeles State Historic Park in downtown Los Angeles with plans for a "unified call for LAUSD to bargain fairly," according to a statement from the union.

This week's labor action is the first major work stoppage for the nation's second largest school district since a 2019 strike by the 35,000 members of the United Teachers Los Angeles union.

The service employees have been working without a contract since June 2020. In December 2022, the union declared an impasse in negotiations, prompting the appointment of a state mediator.

The service workers' union said many of its members earn "poverty wages'' of $25,000 per year and are demanding a 30% pay hike, with an additional pay increase for the lowest-paid workers.

The school district's most recent offer calls for a 23% wage increase, along with a 3% "cash-in-hand bonus.''

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Thirty million people under severe weather alert after California tornadoes, mudslides

FILE, Rosmarie Wirz/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- More than 30 million people across a large swath of the nation were on alert Thursday for tornados, large hail and damaging winds after a severe weather outbreak spawned by a "bomb cyclone" in California moved east, leaving a wake of destruction from mudslides, tree-toppling gusts and the largest twister to hit the Los Angeles area in 40 years.

Residents in the South are bracing for large hail and tornadoes expected to sweep into Texas and Oklahoma Thursday night.

The wild weather system is the same one that blew in from the Pacific Ocean in Northern California as a "bomb cyclone," packing powerful winds that toppled more than 700 trees in San Francisco and killed at least five people in the Bay Area who were either struck by falling limbs or uprooted trees, officials said.

The storm pummeled the Golden State for two days, flooding farmland in the San Joaquin Valley and generating two confirmed tornadoes in Southern California, one just 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

The L.A.-area twister, the strongest to hit the area since March 1983, was rated as an EF1, with is on the lower end of the Enhanced Fujita tornado damage scale, according to the National Weather Service. Yet the 110 mph winds the tornado generated wrecked 17 structures, including 11 that sustained significant damage, according to the National Weather Service.

The ferocious Southern California funnel cloud touched down just after 11 a.m. local time in Montebello, just 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, and stayed on the ground for about three minutes, sending debris, including an industrial-size rooftop air conditioning unit damaging, swirling into the air, according to the weather service.

The tornado touched down in an industrial park, completely collapsing the roof of one warehouse, snapping a power power pole and uprooting trees, officials said. One person suffered minor injuries as a result of the tornado activity, according to the Montebello Fire Department.

"This was crazy. I mean we're used to earthquakes, but not tornados," Mike Turner, who was working in one of the damage warehouses, told ABC Los Angeles station KABC.

Turner said the twister ripped off an estimated 5,000 square feet of the roof of the factory he was in.

"It got real loud. Like I've never heard before, and for about 30 seconds to a minute," Turner said. "Then we kind of all were in the office and then after it died down, we went outside, and there was debris everywhere, it was like dust bowl in the factory."

A second tornado, rated an EF0, touched down in Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County, generating 75 mph winds and damaging 25 mobile homes, according to the National Weather Service.

Compared to the South, tornadoes in California rare. There have been 469 tornadoes in the state since 1950, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since records began in 1950, California averages 6.4 tornadoes per year. But in the last 30 years, the state has averaged 10 twisters per year, according to NOAA. Los Angeles County has had the most of any country in the state with 46 since 1950, followed by nearby Orange County with 31.

The storm system was accompanied by torrential rain throughout the Los Angeles region, triggering a mudslide in San Bernardino County and prompting the rescues of 17 farm animals -- including horses, cows and bulls -- that got stuck in the mud, according to the San Bernardino County Animal Control.

As the menacing storm moves into Texas and Oklahoma Thursday evening, residents are being warned to expect large-size hail and the possibility of more tornadoes forming from Dallas to Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

As the storm moves farther east on Friday, a strong threat of tornadoes is expected for parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, officials said. Among the cities bracing for twisters are Jackson, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee.

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Katelyn Markham's fiance arrested for her murder more than a decade later

John Allen Carter was arrested on March 22, 2023, in connection with the 2011 death of his then-fiancee Katelyn Markham, in Ohio. -- Butler County Sheriff's Office

(HAMILTON, Ohio) -- More than a decade after an Ohio woman disappeared, her then-fiance has been arrested in connection with her death.

John Allen Carter, 35, was arrested Wednesday and booked in the Butler County Jail in Hamilton, Ohio, where he remained in custody as of Thursday, according to online jail records. It was unclear whether he has an attorney.

He has been charged with two counts of felony murder, according to Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO, which cited the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office. ABC News has reached out to the prosecutor's office for comment.

Carter was believed to be the last person to see Katelyn Markham alive before she vanished in the summer of 2011. Markham was a 22-year-old college student residing in the Cincinnati suburb of Fairfield and was engaged to Carter at the time of her disappearance.

"We all suspected that he had something to do with it," Markham's father, Dave, told WCPO on Wednesday.

Carter called 911 to report Markham missing after she stopped responding to his text messages and didn't show up for work on Aug. 14, 2011, two days before her 23rd birthday. The couple had plans to move to Colorado in November, after Markham was expected to finish her bachelor's degree in graphic design.

"I went to her house and she was gone without her car, without her purse, without her keys," Carter told ABC News during an interview in August 2011.

"My gut feeling is that she's alive and that she's OK," he added. "I have to believe she's alive. I have to believe that I'm going to have her in my arms soon."

Authorities and volunteers, including Carter, searched for Markham for years. On April 7, 2013, Markham's remains were found in garbage bag at a dump site along Big Cedar Creek in southeastern Indiana, near the state line with Ohio, about 30 miles west of her home. Markham's death was ruled a homicide but the cause was unknown, according to WCPO.

The case went cold for years despite being featured in television shows and a documentary, the efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies and a $100,000 reward for information.

Then, in February, one of Markham's friends -- 35-year-old Jonathan Palmerton -- was arrested and charged with felony perjury in connection with her death, WCPO reported. That same day, authorities executed search warrants at Carter’s former home in Fairfield, where his mother lives, as well as at other residences of friends' relatives. Investigators also excavated the backyards looking for evidence. Carter was not arrested at that time, according to WCPO.

Upon learning about Carter's arrest on Wednesday, Markham's father said he felt "relieved."

"Everybody's thrilled that this is ending," he told WCPO. "I think myself and a lot of other people were expecting this and were waiting for this for 12 years."

ABC News' Ahmad Hemingway and Jessica Hopper contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump live updates: Grand jury will revisit case next week, sources say

Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A grand jury is continuing to weigh charges against former President Donald Trump in connection with the Manhattan district attorney's probe into the 2016 hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

No current or former president has ever been indicted for criminal conduct.

Here is how the news is developing. All times Eastern. Check back for updates:

Mar 23, 11:31 AM EDT
DA says compliance with GOP's requests for information would interfere with investigation

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s general counsel responded to House Republicans Thursday, telling them compliance with their requests for information would interfere with a legitimate law enforcement investigation.

General counsel Leslie Dubeck noted the House inquiry only resulted from former President Donald Trump’s social media post.

“Your letter dated March 20, 2023 (the "Letter"), in contrast, is an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution," Dubeck wrote. "The Letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry."

Mar 23, 9:50 AM EDT
Grand jury won't meet about Trump case this week

The grand jury hearing evidence of former President Donald Trump’s role in alleged hush money paid to Stormy Daniels will not meet about the case for the remainder of the week, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

The grand jury is meeting Thursday to consider a different case, the sources said. The grand jury news was first reported by Business Insider.

The grand jury is expected to reconvene Monday to consider the Trump case, at which time at least one additional witness may be called to testify, the sources said.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment.

It is not uncommon for grand juries to sit in consideration of multiple cases at once.

Mar 23, 7:37 AM EDT
Manhattan grand jury expected to reconvene Thursday

The Manhattan grand jury weighing charges against former President Donald Trump is expected to reconvene on Thursday, sources tell ABC News.

Mar 23, 5:28 AM EDT
Trump could still be elected president if indicted or convicted, experts say

According to law, former President Donald Trump can be elected president if indicted -- or even convicted -- in any of the state and federal investigations he is currently facing, experts tell ABC News. But there are practical reasons that could make it a challenge, experts say.

Trump said earlier this month at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that he would "absolutely" run for president even if he were to be criminally indicted.

"I wouldn't even think about leaving," Trump told reporters ahead of a speech. "Probably it will enhance my numbers."

Mar 22, 12:51 PM EDT
Manhattan grand jury to reconvene as early as Thursday

The Manhattan grand jury weighing charges against former President Donald Trump in connection to the Stormy Daniels hush payment investigation is not meeting on Wednesday, sources told ABC News. The earliest the grand jury would reconvene is Thursday, sources said.

The grand jurors were called Wednesday morning and told they were not needed during the day as scheduled, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. The grand jurors were told to be prepared to reconvene on Thursday when it’s possible they will hear from at least one additional witness, the sources said.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment, citing a policy of not discussing grand jury matters.

-ABC News' John Santucci and Luke Barr

Mar 22, 8:25 AM EDT
With Trump case looming, what is an indictment?

Criminal prosecution proceedings typically start with an arrest and a court appearance, but legal experts say that on many occasions, especially in white collar crimes, suspects aren't hit with charges or a visit from an officer until long after an official investigation is underway.

Typically, if a crime is being investigated, law enforcement agents will make an arrest, file initial charges and bring a suspect to be arraigned in court, Vincent Southerland, an assistant professor of clinical law and the director of the criminal defense and reentry clinic at NYU School of Law, told ABC News.

After this arraignment, prosecutors would impanel a grand jury for a formal criminal indictment. Southerland, who has been practicing law in New York state for 19 years, said this process includes giving the jury evidence, possible testimony and other exhibits before they can officially charge a person with felonies.

A Manhattan grand jury is currently investigating Trump's possible role in the hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The former president has denied any wrongdoing and having an affair with Daniels. His attorneys have framed the funds as a response to an extortion plot.

-ABC News' Ivan Pereira

Mar 21, 6:11 PM EDT
Pence discourages protests if Trump indicted

Former Vice President Mike Pence discouraged any protests should a grand jury indict Donald Trump.

"Every American has the right to let their voice be heard. The Constitution provides the right to peaceably assemble. But I think in this instance, I would discourage Americans from engaging in protests if in fact the former president is indicted," Pence said Tuesday when asked by ABC News if Americans should protest a possible indictment.

Pence said he understood the "frustration" while calling the case "politically motivated."

"But I think letting our voices be heard in other ways, and in not engaging in protests, I think is most prudent at this time," he said.

-ABC News' Libby Cathey

Mar 21, 11:00 AM EDT
McCarthy grows frustrated as Trump questions persist at House GOP retreat

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy again ripped into Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg when asked about the potential charges against former President Donald Trump at a Tuesday press conference at the House GOP retreat in Orlando.

When McCarthy was asked directly if had concerns about Trump's alleged conduct regarding the alleged hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, he didn't answer the question and instead pivoted to talking about Hillary Clinton and Bragg.

"What we see before us is a political game being played by a local. Look, this isn't New York City, this is just a Manhattan," McCarthy said.

McCarthy said he hasn’t spoken to Trump in three weeks.

When asked if Trump is still the leader of the Republican Party, McCarthy took a jab at the press: "In the press room, for all of you, he is."

-ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Will Steakin

Mar 21, 10:14 AM EDT
Grand jury to reconvene on Wednesday

A grand jury will reconvene on Wednesday to continue to weigh charges against former President Donald Trump in connection with the Manhattan district attorney's probe into the 2016 hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, paid $130,000 to Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign to allegedly keep her from talking about an affair she claimed to have had with Trump.

Trump has denied the affair and his attorneys have framed the funds as an extortion payment.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is mulling whether to charge Trump with falsifying business records, after the Trump Organization allegedly reimbursed Cohen for the payment then logged the reimbursement as a legal expense, sources have told ABC News. Trump has called the payment "a private contract between two parties" and has denied all wrongdoing.

Trump this weekend wrote on his Truth Social platform that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday.

The U.S. Secret Service is coordinating security plans with the NYPD in the event of an indictment and arraignment in an open courtroom in Manhattan, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. The two agencies had a call Monday to discuss logistics, including court security and how Trump would potentially surrender for booking and processing, according to sources briefed on the discussions. White collar criminal defendants in New York are typically allowed to negotiate a surrender.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Parents of Michigan high school shooter Ethan Crumbley will go to trial, judges rule

James Crumbley, left, and Jennifer Crumbley are seen in photos provided by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office. -- Oakland County Sheriff's Office

(PONTIAC, Mich.) -- Jennifer and James Crumbley have pleaded not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the Nov. 30, 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School.

Their son, Ethan Crumbley, who was 15 at the time, allegedly used James Crumbley's semi-automatic handgun to kill four students and injure several others.

Jennifer and James Crumbley are accused of making the gun accessible and failing to recognize warning signs.

In a written opinion, Judge Christopher Murray said Jennifer and James Crumbley's "actions and inactions were inexorably intertwined with" their son's actions.

The parents "were actively involved" in their son's "mental state remaining untreated," Murray said. The parents also "provided him with the weapon he used to kill the victims" and "refused to remove him from the situation that led directly to the shootings," Murray wrote.

In a concurring opinion, Judge Michael Riordan wrote that although parents typically cannot be held liable for a child’s crime, Jennifer and James Crumbley were aware of “visual evidence…that [Ethan Crumbley] was contemplating the act of gunshot wounds being inflicted upon someone.”

Days before the shooting, a teacher allegedly saw Ethan Crumbley researching ammunition in class, and the school contacted his parents but they didn't respond, according to prosecutors. But Jennifer Crumbley did text her son, writing, "lol, I'm not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught," according to prosecutors.

Hours before the shooting, prosecutors said a teacher saw a note on Ethan Crumbley's desk that was "a drawing of a semi-automatic handgun pointing at the words, 'The thoughts won't stop, help me.' In another section of the note was a drawing of a bullet with the following words above that bullet, 'Blood everywhere.'"

The Crumbleys were called to the school over the incident, and said they'd get their son counseling, but they did not take him home, prosecutors said.

Mariell Lehman, a lawyer for the Crumbleys, declined to comment on the ruling, citing a gag order.

Last year Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty to all charges against him, including terrorism and murder.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Man awarded $375K by jury looks ahead after LAPD officer found liable for injury

Oliver Helbig/Getty Images

(LOS ANGELES) -- Deon Jones, a man shot in the face with a rubber bullet during one of many mass protests in 2020, is speaking out after a federal jury found an LAPD officer liable for Jones' injuries and awarded him $375,000.

"I'm just grateful that we had a jury that decided in our favor. I believe that they saw the truth," Jones told ABC News.

The landmark verdict is believed to be the first time an individual LAPD officer was held personally liable for his alleged actions.

On May 30, 2020, Jones said he had been marching with a friend in Los Angeles' Fairfax District in the wake of George Floyd's death, when they decided to move to a less chaotic location — a Trader Joe's parking lot.

"We found ourselves in an area closer to the Trader Joe's in a crowd of people who were either recording, had their hands up or doing nothing at all. And then you have a police officer fire into that crowd," Jones said.

Peter Bueno, a veteran officer and a member of the LAPD's elite metropolitan division, denies shooting Jones. He testified that he shot at an unidentified protester who threw a water bottle at him.

A rubber bullet fractured Jones' cheekbone, but it came close to having a far worse outcome, Jones said.

"I'm reminded of what my ophthalmologist said. He said, 'If the bullet was an inch to the left, it would have hit your temple. If it was an inch to the right, you would have been blind.' So I would have been dead or blind," Jones said.

During the trial, the jury was shown body camera images from various officers that day and an enhanced body camera video, which Jones' attorney provided to ABC News with highlights. The defense argued the images proved it was Bueno who fired in the direction of Jones and other protesters.

Jones' attorneys said the case might set a precedent when it comes to similar cases in the future.

"We now have an example with our case, that you can take it all the way. We have an example that officers cannot brutalize peaceful protesters," Jones said.

Orin Synder, Jones' lead attorney, told ABC News the verdict represents vindication in a broader context.

"Protest is part of the fabric of our democracy. It is essential to our democracy. And if protesters fear excessive police force during peaceful demonstrations, it will chill essential First Amendment activity. The verdict makes clear that there will be accountability going forward if officers violate the constitutional rights of protesters," Synder said.

Bueno, a member of the department for more than 25 years, is still on the force. Following an internal investigation, he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

While the LAPD declined to comment, Bueno's attorney, Janine Jeffery, said her client plans to appeal the verdict.

In a statement, Jeffery said, in part, "We respectfully disagree with the jury's decision. For over one year after the incident, Mr. Jones gave a description of Officer Bueno that was not even close to Officer Bueno's physical appearance … Furthermore, Officer Bueno was in a very different location than the person identified by Mr. Jones and Jones' expert as the shooter … These inconsistencies, combined with the inaccurate description and location of Officer Bueno demonstrates that Officer Bueno did not shoot Mr. Jones."

The second phase of the lawsuit will examine Jones' claims that the city of Los Angeles and LAPD should be held accountable for police's response to peaceful protests.

"We are looking for systemic change… It shouldn't happen to me. It shouldn't happen to anybody," Jones said.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Colorado dentist formally charged with murder in wife's fatal poisoning

Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

(DENVER) -- A Colorado dentist accused of killing his wife by putting poison in her protein shakes was formally charged with first-degree murder on Thursday.

James Toliver Craig, 45, appeared in an orange prison jumpsuit at the Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colorado, where prosecutors filed formal charges while the defense requested all law enforcement notes to be preserved and for pretrial public comments to be limited. Craig, of Aurora, Colorado, also waived his right to a preliminary hearing within the 35-day window to give his lawyers more time.

A status hearing was set for April 7 at 3 p.m. MT.

Craig was arrested early Sunday and preliminarily charged with first-degree murder. He was ordered to be held without bond, according to a press release from the Aurora Police Department and an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by ABC News. A public defender representing Craig did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

The charge stems from the poisoning death of his 43-year-old wife, Angela Craig, who was hospitalized three times in the span of 10 days due to severe headaches and dizziness. She was admitted to UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora on the morning of March 15. Soon after, she had a seizure and was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit as her condition swiftly deteriorated. She was declared medically brain dead on Saturday afternoon and subsequently taken off life support, leaving doctors at a loss as to what would have caused her rapid decline, according to the affidavit.

The Aurora Police Department's Major Crimes Homicide Unit was called in to investigate and ultimately discovered that Angela Craig was fatally poisoned.

"When the suspicious details of this case came to light, our team of officers and homicide detectives tirelessly worked to uncover the truth behind the victim's sudden illness and death," Mark Hildebrand, chief of the Aurora Police Department's Investigations Divisions, said in a statement Sunday. "It was quickly discovered this was in fact a heinous, complex and calculated murder. I am very proud of our Major Crimes Homicide Unit's hard work in solving this case and pursuing justice for the victim."

In the week's before his wife's death, James Craig used a computer at his Aurora dental practice to create a new email address and conduct online searches related to poison, including "how many grams of pure arsenic will kill a human" and "is arsenic detectable in autopsy," the affidavit said. He also purchased arsenic online on Feb. 23 and the shipment was delivered to his home on March 4, according to the affidavit.

Two days later, Angela Craig sent a text message to her husband complaining of dizziness and that she felt "drugged," the affidavit said. James Craig responded: "Given our history I know that must be triggering. Just for the record, I didn't drug you. I am super worried though. You really looked pale before I left. Like in your lips even."

When he asked if she had "eaten anything," Angela Craig said she "had my protein shake," according to the affidavit. She was admitted to Centura Parker Adventist Hospital in Parker, Colorado, where she was treated and released. That same day, James Craig ordered the toxic plant extract oleandrin, but the package was "intercepted by FedEx" and never delivered, the affidavit said.

While his wife was hospitalized again from March 9 to March 14, James Craig ordered the highly lethal chemical compound potassium cyanide, which was delivered to his dental practice on March 13, according to the affidavit. When Angela Craig was hospitalized for the final time on March 15, one of her husband's business partners told an attending nurse about the potassium cyanide delivery and how there was no need for it at their dental practice, prompting the nurse to contact police, according to the affidavit.

James Craig was known to make his wife protein shakes regularly and investigators believe he had administered the poison through these drinks, the affidavit said. The couple shared six children, according to Denver ABC affiliate KMGH-TV.

Investigators spoke to Angela Craig's sister, who described the couple's marriage as tumultuous and said James Craig had multiple affairs with other women, according to the affidavit. Angela Craig had also told her sister that she was drugged by her husband several years ago because he was planning to commit suicide and didn't want her to be able to stop him. After Angela Craig's death, her sister told investigators that James Craig "said he would not allow hospital staff to conduct an autopsy," according to the affidavit.

Investigators learned that James Craig had told some of his employees that "his marriage was failing" and "he was in financial turmoil," the affidavit said. After Angela's Craig's death, James Craig also told the Colorado Department of Human Services that his wife had been suicidal and "he had saved her many times but never reported it," according to the affidavit. However, the affidavit noted that none of the people interviewed by investigators suggested Angela Craig had suicidal ideations.

The investigation determined that James Craig "has shown the planning and intent to end his wife’s life by searching for ways to kill someone undetected, providing her poisons that align with her hospitalized symptoms, and working on starting a new life" with another woman, according to the affidavit.

ABC News' Jenna Harrison Esseling, Jenn Leong, Michelle Mendez, Dominick Proto, Darren Reynolds and Ben Stein contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Southwest pilot suffers medical emergency on flight, off-duty pilot helps land plane

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(LAS VEGAS) -- An off-duty pilot jumped into action Wednesday after a Southwest Airlines pilot suffered a medical emergency, mid-flight, airline officials said.

Southwest Flight 6013 had just taken off for its trip between Las Vegas and Columbus, Ohio, around 6:33 a.m. when the pilot had a medical emergency, Southwest Airlines said in a statement. Crew members reported that the captain had stomach pain and fainted, according to air traffic control radio.

An off-duty pilot from a different airline, who was traveling as a passenger, entered the flight deck and assisted the crew with radio calls as they turned around and headed back to Las Vegas, according to Southwest.

"He is in the back of the aircraft right now with the flight attendants. But we need to get him on an ambulance immediately," an unidentified pilot in the cockpit told air traffic controllers, according to air traffic audio.

The plane made it back to Las Vegas where emergency health crews tended to the captain, according to the airline.

"We greatly appreciate their support and assistance," Southwest said of the off-duty pilot in a statement.

The Southwest pilot's status was not immediately disclosed. An alternate flight crew was called in and the passengers made it to their destination later in the day, according to Southwest.

"We commend the crew for their professionalism and appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding regarding the situation," Southwest said in a statement.

The FAA said it is investigating the incident.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'Cancer Alley' at center of lawsuit claiming environmental health crisis

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(NEW YORK) -- The residents of a Louisiana parish, located in an area that has become known as “Cancer Alley,” filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the local government alleging the petrochemical plants built in the area are tantamount to “environmental racism.”

The lawsuit, which names St. James Parish, St. James Parish Council and St. James Parish Planning Commission as defendants, seeks a moratorium on petrochemical plants in the Black districts of St. James Parish, as well as other relief. The lawsuit was filed by the environmental organizations Inclusive Louisiana and Rise St. James, as well as the Mount Triumph Baptist Church.

“It is one of the most severe and obvious forms of discrimination that people have been living with, and it needs to stop. It’s illegal,” said attorney Pamela Spees, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, at Tuesday’s press conference announcing the lawsuit.

The Center for Constitutional Rights and Tulane University Law School collaborated with the community to file the lawsuit, which states that it seeks to “remediate the ongoing effects of the Parish’s environmental racism.”

The predominantly-Black neighborhoods, nicknamed “Cancer Alley” for their high concentration of petrochemical plants and long-term air pollution, lie along the stretch of land along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

The environmental organizations and residents of St. James Parish submitted their first challenge to the production of petrochemicals in September 2019, according to a press release from St. James Parish residents Tuesday morning.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declined to comment regarding the lawsuit.

In 2022, after a preliminary investigation, the EPA released a letter with their initial recommendations in response to civil rights complaints accusing Louisiana regulators of neglecting Black community members' concerns about toxic air pollution, and wrote the state “must examine how polluters imperil the health of Black residents.”

According to the letter, which referred to the agency’s early research, Black residents in southeastern Louisiana have a disproportionate increased cancer risk from industrial air pollution and urged environmental and health agencies to analyze the impact on the residential plants, including a proposed Formosa Plastics facility in St. James Parish.

Studies have demonstrated that air pollution from petrochemical plants has the ability to change human DNA, which can lead to the development of cancer.

Gail LeBoeuf, the co-founder and co-director of Inclusive Louisiana and a community member, shared during the press conference that she has liver cancer that she believes the area’s plastics plants contributed to.

“For years now we have gone to the Parish Council with our concerns, but every time we are ignored,” she said.

According to the lawsuit, Black residents are heavily concentrated in the 5th District and 4th District of St. James Parish, which are 88.6% Black and 53% Black, respectively. The lawsuit emphasized that more than a dozen industrial facilities are located in these districts.

Community members are descendants of African slaves, according to citizens in the Parish, whose families have remained in the area.

"As a result of the vestiges of the slavery in Louisiana and in St. James in particular, plaintiffs’ members reside in some of the most polluted, toxic – and lethal – census tracts in the country, situated within a stretch of land along the Mississippi now widely known as 'Cancer Alley,'" the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, 11 facilities in St. James Parish report to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory and four of them are located in the 5th District. Five facilities are located in the 4th District.

Last September, Judge Trudy White, of Louisiana's 19th Judicial District in Baton Rouge, vacated air permits for the proposed $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics petrochemical facility in St. James Parish. Formosa Plastics affiliate FG LA- LLC, in addition to The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, appealed that decision and defended its proposed plant.

A spokesperson for FG LA LLC, Janile Parks, said in a written statement to ABC News the company still plans to continue to build the complex, coined as the "Sunshine Project," by exploring "all legal options in light of Judge White’s ruling as the project continues to pursue successful permitting."

"The serious health claims levied against FG’s project are false and unjustified. This project has been thoroughly vetted and approved by parish and state bodies because it relied on sound science in design and met all regulatory criteria, including locating the project in an area designated by parish government for industrial use," Parks said. "As part of the St. James Parish Land Use Approval Process, FG assessed various reasonable potential failure scenarios to demonstrate that, even under an unlikely failure event, materials being handled or stored onsite are not expected to cause or create a health or safety issue for even the nearest community."

This plant was destined to be one of the world’s largest production facilities for plastics and plastic feedstocks, which serve as the building blocks to develop plastics.

“The owners of these plants come to St. James Parish promising job and economic opportunities in our neighborhood; we don’t see any of that,” said Barbara Washington, a director of Inclusive Louisiana. “We’ve seen smoke and smog, and smell pollution.”

St. James Parish Councilmembers did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, and Councilman Clyde Cooper of District 5 declined to immediately comment on the lawsuit.

“There is no better example of the afterlife of enslavement than what is happening right now in St. James Parish,” said Vincent Warren, the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, during the press conference.

“Our plaintiffs, and the Black communities they are a part of, have essentially called on St. James Parish to end the building and the siting of the plants that are killing this community,” he said.

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Student who was patted down each day allegedly shoots two staffers at Denver high school

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(DENVER) -- A student who was under a "certain agreement to be patted down each day" at school allegedly shot and wounded two school administrators at East High School in Denver, authorities said.

The suspect, Austin Lyle, 17, fled the school on Wednesday morning after the shooting, Denver police said. His body was later discovered, officials said.

Police searching for the suspect had located his car in Park County, which is located southwest of Denver, officials said Wednesday evening. A male body was found near the vehicle, Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw later said during a press conference. The scene was being processed and the coroner was en route to the scene, McGraw said.

The Park County Coroner's Office later confirmed that the body was Lyle's.

The handgun used in the shooting has not been recovered as of Wednesday. Police had warned the public to not approach Lyle, calling him armed and dangerous. They said that Lyle, who had been wanted for attempted homicide, may have been be driving a 2005 red Volvo XC90 with Colorado license plate BSCW10.

The faculty members were both hospitalized following the shooting. They have been identified by the school district as Eric Sinclair, who remains in serious condition, and Jerald Mason, who was upgraded from serious to good condition. Mason has since been released from the hospital, Denver Health said.

The suspected shooter was required to be searched at the beginning of each school day, officials said. He allegedly shot the school administrators as they patted him down Wednesday morning in the school's office area, which officials said is away from other students and staff.

The suspect's daily searches were part of a "safety plan" that was a result of "previous behavior," officials said, though they did not elaborate on the previous behavior.

East High School was placed on lockdown in the wake of the shooting. Denver Public Schools later said it received clearance to start releasing students.

Last month, East High School students went to a city council meeting to call for action on school safety and gun violence after a 16-year-old student was fatally shot near the school, according to ABC Denver affiliate KMGH-TV.

The superintendent said Wednesday that the school will be closed for the rest of this week, and that the building will now have two armed officers present through the end of the school year.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in a statement said removing school resource officers was a "mistake" and said they should be quickly returned.

"We all have to step up as a community and be a part of the solution," he said.

Hancock also called on Congress to pass "common sense" gun legislation.

"Parents are angry and frustrated, and they have a right to be," he said. "Easy access to guns must be addressed in our country -- Denver cannot do this alone."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday that the administration's "hearts go out to the families of the two school administrators and in Denver today and to the entire school community."

Jean-Pierre noted that President Joe Biden unveiled another executive action aimed at tackling gun violence last week but that "as the president said in the State of the Union, Congress needs to do something."

This shooting comes two years to the day after a mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, that claimed 10 lives.

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Shelter-in-place lifted at Monmouth University after curling iron mistaken for weapon

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(WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.) -- Monmouth University lifted a shelter-in-place order after an investigation into a "possible armed subject" found that a curling iron "was mistaken for a weapon," a university official said.

Police at Monmouth, in West Long Branch, New Jersey, had received a report at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday of a "possible armed subject" on campus, the school said in an alert posted to its website.

Multiple local and county law enforcement agencies searched and secured the campus, the university said.

"Detectives were able to utilize video footage and other technology based on the description provided and identified a person of interest, a currently enrolled student," Patrick F. Leahy, the president, said in a letter posted early Thursday.

He added, "Based on interviews with that person, law enforcement personnel were able to determine that the person was in possession of a curling iron that was mistaken for a weapon."

The university issued an all-clear notification a short time later.

"All clear-the shelter in place on campus has been lifted, the campus is safe, an elevated police presence remains," school officials said on Twitter early Thursday. "Additional information will be sent via email."

All classes before noon on Thursday have been canceled, the school said.

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'Catastrophic level of water': Central California battles farmland flooding

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(NEW YORK) -- The latest atmospheric river storm to batter California has led to evacuations and flooded farmland. As the snowpack on the Sierra Nevada mountains melts, flooding in the Central Valley will remain a concern for weeks and months to come, experts say.

There has been a "catastrophic level of water," Tricia Stever Blattler, executive director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau, which represents more than 1,100 farms and ranches in the San Joaquin Valley county, told ABC News.

Channels that are designed to handle flood waters are "all running very high and very, very fast," with many experiencing "structural breakdowns," she said.

"We're still just experiencing so much more water in these storms than can possibly be held back by these dams," she said, calling this a "50-year event."

"There's a lot of cropland underwater right now," Stever Blattler said. "I can't even begin to tell you the numbers -- north of 50,000 acres. Maybe closer to 75,000, 100,000."

Recent floods have led to an evacuation order for parts of Tulare County, with the west side particularly hard-hit by floodwaters after breaches in waterways. Dairies also had to evacuate their cows due to flooding and some creameries have had to suspend operations, which could further impact dairy operations, Stever Blattler said.

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said in a video message earlier this week that there haven't been any fatalities reported, "but what we are seeing is devastating impacts to our agricultural community and farmland."

In neighboring Kings County, the former Tulare Lakebed -- what was once the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi before being drained more than 100 years ago for farming -- has also been filling back up in recent weeks with flows from several rivers and creeks amid the onslaught of rain.

Crops including tomatoes, onion, garlic and cotton are grown in the region, though planting in some parts will likely be delayed due to the floods, Stever Blattler said. Standing water in lower-gradient sections of Tulare County could also damage the area's almond, pistachio and orange trees, she said.

"Crop acreage will be diminished for a while," she said.

As the region recovers from the latest round of flooding rain to hit the state, officials are also preparing for the record historic snowpack on the Sierra Nevada to melt -- bringing with it the threat of additional flooding.

In anticipation of a potentially record Kings River runoff season, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District this week began a "rare flood release" from Pine Flat Dam into the old Tulare Lakebed, the Kings River Conservation District said.

The flood release, which is to make room in the reservoir for additional rain and melting snow, could last until the summer, officials said.

"Everybody's working together around the clock to share data to inform those decisions," Rick Brown, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, told ABC News. "Obviously, we're looking at the Sierra Nevada mountains -- we've got enough snow up there to fill up our reservoirs probably a few times over."

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Feds make largest methamphetamine bust in West Virginia history

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(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) -- The Department of Justice announced Wednesday it made the largest methamphetamine bust in West Virginia history.

The DOJ charged 30 people with allegedly distributing more than 200 pounds of meth, alongside guns and other drugs, over a period of seven months, dubbing the operation "Operation Smoke and Mirrors."

"The takedown of this drug trafficking organization stopped a record amount of methamphetamine, as well as other dangerous drugs, from reaching our communities and causing harm," United States Attorney Will Thompson said in a statement.

According to the DOJ, the individuals were also charged with distributing large amounts of cocaine and fentanyl in Charleston.

Officials seized 28 pounds of cocaine, 20 pounds of fentanyl, 18 guns and $747,000 in cash during the operation, the Justice Department said.

"This investigation demonstrates that we will use all of our resources, including new and innovative investigative techniques, against those who target our communities with this poison," Thompson said.

The announcement comes on the same day that the Department of Homeland Security disclosed it seized 900 pounds of fentanyl in its first week as part of its fentanyl-targeting operation called "Operation Blue Lotus."

According to DHS, the operation has led to 18 seizures, 16 federal arrests, and two state arrests. Those seizures prevented over 900 pounds of fentanyl, 700 pounds of methamphetamine and 100 pounds of cocaine from entering the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meth killed over 32,000 Americans in 2021.

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Amid classified documents probe, Trump's records representative sues Justice Department

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(WASHINGTON) -- One of former President Donald Trump's official representatives to the National Archives -- the agency that sparked the Justice Department's probe of Trump's handling of classified documents -- has now sued the Justice Department and the National Archives, demanding access to documents that the government has said may themselves contain classified information.

At the heart of the lawsuit, filed Tuesday by pro-Trump journalist John Solomon, is what Solomon describes in court records as "a binder of documents" -- "about 10 inches thick" -- that come from the FBI's past probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Solomon once asserted that the documents would offer "big revelations" about the probe, which he's called "one of the dirtiest political tricks in American history."

As ABC News previously reported, Trump tried to make the binder's worth of documents public the night before he left office, issuing a "declassification" memo for much of the material and secretly meeting with Solomon, who was allowed to review the documents and later keep a batch of them.

In closed-door testimony to Congress last year, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said 10 to 15 staffers working for the National Security Council had been tasked with "making copies" of the documents for Solomon and others. At the same time, Trump's then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, also had copies of a different "previous version" of the documents, which weren't redacted the same way, she testified.

After the Justice Department expressed privacy-related concerns about them being released, Meadows returned his documents to the department -- expecting them to be reviewed and then made public. But for more than two years, none of those documents were released.

Solomon and another of Trump's representatives to the National Archives, former Trump administration official Kash Patel, have suggested that politics were at play. But in private emails with Solomon and Patel, which Solomon filed in court to support his lawsuit, National Archives general counsel Gary Stern insisted otherwise.

Stern said his agency never received the "binder" that Meadows returned to the Justice Department. The National Archives did, however, receive a box filled with 2,700 pages of documents, which, according to Solomon, were the copies made "in preparation to be released to the news media on the morning of Jan. 20."

As Stern told Solomon in the emails, the thousands of pages of documents had "varying types of classification and declassification markings," with "no clear organization or delineation." Different copies of the same documents were "redacted differently," while "some documents did not have the required declassification markings," Stern said.

That left "uncertainty with respect to the status of classified information," which under federal law prohibited the National Archives from releasing any of the documents until what was actually declassified could be confirmed, Stern said.

In his lawsuit, however, Solomon argues that the documents are being "wrongfully withheld" from him because, he claims, they are presidential records and he is Trump's official representative -- even if it is "in his capacity as a journalist."

"This is a case about two government agencies apparently colluding to evade the Presidential Records Act," says Solomon's lawsuit, which was filed in Washington, D.C. federal court.

In their emails to the National Archives, Solomon and Patel insisted that -- at the least -- Patel should be able to access the documents because, they both said, Patel had an "active" security clearance. But Stern told Patel that his agency's "personnel security office could not find an active clearance" for Patel in its own systems or through other efforts. It's unclear from the emails whether Patel's clearance was ever confirmed.

Solomon's lawsuit, filed Tuesday, came on the same day ABC News reported that the Justice Department has preliminary evidence that Trump may have deliberately misled his own attorneys about classified materials held at his Mar-a-Lago estate and elsewhere.

When the FBI sought approval from a judge to raid Mar-a-Lago last summer, it noted -- among many other things -- that Patel publicly claimed Trump had already "declassified the materials at issue." Patel blasted the Justice Department for including his name in since-released court documents referencing those public comments, claiming the department was putting his safety in jeopardy.

Last year, citing the Freedom of Information Act, the conservative group Judicial Watch filed its own lawsuit asking a federal judge to force the Justice Department to release the Russia-related documents. According to the Justice Department, it has already provided at least 340 pages of heavily-redacted documents to Judicial Watch, and it has vowed to provide more than 800 pages in total.

Stern did not respond to request for comment from ABC News. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

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Appeals court rules that Trump attorney Evan Corcoran must testify in special counsel's documents probe

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(WASHINGTON) -- An appeals court on Wednesday rejected an effort by former President Donald Trump's attorneys to block Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran from having to testify and hand over records to special counsel Jack Smith's team investigating Trump's handling of classified records after leaving the White House, according to court records.

The three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled extraordinarily swiftly against the request for a stay by Trump's attorneys, who sought to block an order last Friday by the chief judge for the D.C. District Court, who determined the government had made a prima facie case that Corcoran's legal services were likely used by Trump in the furtherance of a crime.

Corcoran was expected to testify as soon as Friday, sources said.

D.C. district judge Beryl Howell ruled that prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith's office had made a "prima facie showing that the former president had committed criminal violations," according to sources who described her Friday order, and that attorney-client privileges invoked by two of his lawyers, Corcoran and Jennifer Little, could therefore be pierced.

Sources familiar with the matter further described to ABC New the six topics that Corcoran was ordered by Judge Howell to testify about, over which he had previously sought to assert attorney-client privilege.

The topics indicate that Smith has zeroed in on Trump's actions surrounding his response to a May 11 DOJ subpoena that sought all remaining classified documents in his possession -- which investigators have described as key to Trump's alleged "scheme" to obstruct the investigation, sources said.

ABC News reported exclusively Tuesday that Smith believes Trump intentionally and deliberately misled his own attorneys about Trump's retention of classified materials after leaving office, according to sources who described the judge's sealed ruling piercing Corcoran's claims of privilege.

According to sources familiar with the filing, Smith wants information from Corcoran on whether Trump or anyone else in his employ was aware of the signed certification that was drafted by Corcoran and signed by Trump attorney Christina Bobb then submitted in response to the May 11 subpoena from the DOJ seeking all remaining documents with classified markings in Trump's possession. That certification was later discovered to be false, prompting the eventual court-authorized search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in which FBI investigators recovered more than 100 classified documents -- including some located in Trump's personal office, according to previously released court documents.

Smith's investigators specifically want to ask Corcoran whether Trump was aware of the statements in the certification, which claimed a "diligent search" of Mar-a-Lago had been conducted, and if Trump approved of it being provided to the government, sources familiar with the filing said.

Corcoran was ordered to detail the steps he took to determine where documents responsive to DOJ's May subpoena may have been located, sources said. He also was ordered to provide testimony on why he believed all documents with classification markings were held in Mar-a-Lago's storage room, as he had allegedly confirmed to a top DOJ official when investigators visited the estate in June of last year.

Investigators have sought to question Corcoran on the people involved in choosing Bobb as the designated custodian of records for documents that Trump took with him after leaving the White House, and any communications he exchanged with Bobb in connection with her selection, per sources familiar with the filing.

Investigators also want Corcoran to tell them what he discussed with Trump in a June 24 phone call on the same day that the Trump Organization received a second grand jury subpoena demanding surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago that would show whether anyone moved boxes in and out of the storage room, which Trump's team had previously barred investigators from searching during their visit to the estate earlier that month, the sources said.

According to sources, Howell's order piercing attorney-client privilege on that topic said that the government had characterized the conversation as furthering "a different stage" of Trump's "ongoing scheme" to prevent the government from retrieving all classified documents from Mar-a-Lago.

"There is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump," a Trump spokesperson told ABC News. "The deranged Democrats and their comrades in the mainstream media are corrupting the legal process and weaponizing the justice system in order to manipulate public opinion, because they are clearly losing the political battle. The real story here is that prosecutors only attack lawyers when they have no case whatsoever."

A spokesperson for the special counsel's office declined to comment.

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