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President Obama's proposal to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba has elicited mixed reactions from Valley residents with Cuban roots.
PHOENIX (AP) — A man who allegedly stole a car and threatened to take the owner into the desert and kill him is in custody after leading police on a chase through central Phoenix.
Hans Christian Andersen first told the now familiar story of an emperor who spent all of his kingdom’s disposable wealth on being well dressed. He had a change of clothes for every hour of the day, and he spent more time in his dressing room than managing the affairs of his empire.
PHOENIX (AP) — A Chandler woman who left her young son in a hot car while shopping last April was sentenced Wednesday to a year of probation.
A Chandler woman who left her young son in a hot car while shopping last April has been sentenced to a year of probation.
A Chandler father admitted to forcing his teenage son to sleep in the backyard as a form of discipline, according to court records.
For the seventh straight year, Maricopa County Superior Court is on track to be the largest National Adoption Day event in the United States.
More infants died in Arizona last year from unsafe sleep environments than motor vehicle accidents.
A Mesa preschool employee was sentenced to eight months in county jail and lifetime supervised probation on Oct. 31 after pleading guilty to accusations she wrapped a student in a blanket tightly.
Former Tempe High School teacher Joel Calderon has plead guilty to three counts of attempted sexual conduct.
A Mesa preschool employee accused of child abuse after police found a 2-year-old girl restrained in a sleeping area has been sentenced to eight months in the Maricopa County jail.
A Chandler man is accused of producing and distributing photos and videos showing the sexual abuse of a young child.
PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix man accused of killing and abusing his infant daughter has pleaded not guilty.
Maricopa County prosecutors say 39-year-old Duryea Dupri Bennett was arraigned Wednesday. His next court date is scheduled for Dec. 17.
Bennett was booked into jail on Oct. 9 on suspicion of first-degree murder and of child abuse.
Authorities received a 911 call the previous day that 1-month-old Natalyah Bennett wasn't breathing.
Phoenix police say paramedics noticed bruising on the baby and hospital personnel also found a skull fracture, broken ribs, bite marks and injuries consistent with a sexual assault.
They say the mother wasn't home and the father was alone with seven children ranging in age from 1 month old to 14 years old.
Police say none of the other children showed signs of abuse.
With the 2014 election less than a week away, it’s important to remember that an election is a job review for legislators and elected officials. Let’s review.
The fact that a toddler’s favorite toy held a packet of “Spice,” the illegal drug, wasn’t the only reason that the child was in danger, according to authorities.
The Children’s Action Alliance is asking candidates for the state Legislature to focus on the children.
Proponents of Proposition 122 insist that a potentially far-reaching amendment to the Arizona Constitution is necessary to ensure the public gets to monitor how well — or poorly — Arizona does in protecting children.
PHOENIX -- Proponents of Proposition 122 insist a potentially far-reaching amendment to the Arizona Constitution is necessary to ensure the public gets to monitor how well -- or poorly -- Arizona does in protecting children.
Postcards being paid for and mailed to voters by the Arizona Republican Party declare that "an unconstitutional federal law'' forces Child Protective Services -- which technically no longer exists -- "to hide botched investigations of abused kids.'' It features a photo of a young girl with a bruise on her arm crouching in the corner with her teddy bear.
The measure on the November ballot would allow the Legislature -- or voters -- to declare that the new Department of Child Safety will not follow the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act which includes provisions about what can and cannot be publicly released.
But it may not be necessary to amend the state constitution to do that.
"We could get out of CAPTA now if we reject the federal funds,'' said Dana Naimark, president of the Children's Action Alliance. Naimark, whose organization has taken no position on Prop 122, said she objects to proponents of the ballot measure using child-abuse issues to gain support, calling it a "distraction.''
Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, who has been at the forefront of demanding more transparency at DCS, supports Proposition 122. But she acknowledged the problem may not be with CAPTA, the federal law which the ballot measure would let legislators decide they don't want to enforce here -- and the one the mailer claims without backup is "unconstitutional.'' In fact, she said CAPTA specifically mandates disclosure of information in cases of deaths or near-fatal cases of abuse.
The big problem, she said, is how the state attorneys assigned to the child-welfare agency have chosen to read the federal law -- and to use it as a shield to reject requests for public records.
"They interpret CAPTA so broadly as to make it shut down the access to and flow of information, as opposed to do what CAPTA was intended, which is to facilitate the sharing of information in the case of the death or the near-death of a child,'' Brophy McGee said.
So is Proposition 122 needed to open up records?
"It's another tool in the tool box,'' she said, to ensure the new DCS she helped create -- and the lawyers that advise it -- err on the side of disclosure. "I'm fully prepared to use it.''
In essence, Proposition 122 would permit lawmakers or voters to decide that some federal law or program is not "consistent with the (federal) constitution.'' If that happens, all state and local governments and school districts would be prohibited from using their workers or funds "to enforce, administer or cooperate with the designated federal action or program.''
Where child abuse comes in is with CAPTA.
On one hand, the law which provides federal dollars to states for child-abuse programs specifically allows disclosure of information in instances of abuse that result in a fatality or near fatality. But other information is considered off limits.
More to the point, officials at Child Protective Services for years have cited CAPTA restrictions in rejecting requests for public records.
Brophy McGee said recent amendments to the law on confidentiality were designed to address some of that.
For example, the statute says records have to be maintained as required by federal law. But they also have declared that "all exceptions for the public release of DCS information shall be construed as openly as possible under federal law.''
"Every time we 'fix' (the law), they go right back to where they were and they cite CAPTA,'' Brophy McGee said. And she said that the new DCS is "not doing any better'' than the old CPS at being transparent about its operations -- even after she inserted a provision into the law creating DCS allowing the agency to hire its own attorney who might be willing to approve more disclosure.
That still leaves the question of whether lawmakers need Proposition 122 or can simply alter the existing Arizona law to demand fuller disclosure, regardless of federal law.
Businessman Jack Biltis, who is financing much of the pro-122 campaign, said he doubts that a simple amendment to state law would do much.
"CPS has really just been creating excuses not to disclose anything they didn't want to,'' he said, with the agency claiming the supremacy of the federal law. He said Proposition 122 would solve that by allowing lawmakers, citing the Arizona Constitution, to preclude precluding the DCS from participating in the federal CAPTA program if that is what is keeping records secret.
Biltis acknowledged that part of the decision lawmakers would have to make is whether such a mandate is worth the risk of losing federal dollars.
It's not a lot: Jennifer Bowser Richards, spokeswoman for DCS, put CAPTA aid to Arizona at just $670,000.
Biltis contends there is precedent that Washington cannot take away funds simply because Arizona refuses to follow federal law. That comes from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling two years ago which blocked the Obama administration from cutting off Medicaid dollars to states that refuse to expand their programs as part of the Affordable Care Act.
But that ruling dealt with a new requirement being superimposed on existing Medicaid law. This would involve Arizona trying to unilaterally alter an existing agreement.
Brophy McGee said she doubts there would be a legal fight if Arizona were to say it is going to make more information public, with or without Proposition 122.
"No state has ever lost funds because of CAPTA violations,'' she said.
DCS Director Charles Flanagan declined to be interviewed about the issue.
Jurors at the sentencing retrial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias saw a series of gruesome photos that showed her ex-boyfriend's dead body crammed into a shower at his house — his throat slit.
PHOENIX (AP) — A prosecutor at the sentencing retrial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias showed jurors two photos Tuesday of her ex-boyfriend and victim Travis Alexander.
One was an unremarkable picture of his face taken some time before his death. The other was a crime-scene photo showing his slit throat.
"She loved him so much that this is what she did to him," prosecutor Juan Martinez said in his opening statement, describing the gruesome suffering Arias inflicted on Alexander before his death in 2008.
"There are no mitigating circumstances in this case. None," Martinez said. "The only just punishment for this crime is death."
Arias has acknowledged killing Alexander but claimed it was self-defense after he attacked her. Prosecutors said it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage after the victim wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman.
Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi said Tuesday that Arias was the victim of profound sexual humiliation by Alexander, and that she is mentally ill and a victim of child abuse.
He urged jurors to sentence her to life in prison, saying she is remorseful about killing the man who never acknowledged to others that she was his girlfriend.
"Jodi Arias was always the girl behind the closed door in the bedroom," Nurmi told jurors.
He suggested his client would testify during the proceedings expected to last until December.
"She will tell you how horrified she is that she killed the man she loved," Nurmi said.
Arias, sporting shoulder-length hair and wearing a beige blouse, often looked at the jury while her lawyer laid out his case. She turned away, however, as the prosecutor detailed the crime that included shooting Alexander in the head and stabbing him nearly 30 times.
Members of the Alexander and Arias families looked on from the front rows of the courtroom during the opening statements.
Jurors were shown naked photographs that Alexander and Arias took of each other shortly before Alexander was killed. Alexander's sister turned away from the images and wept as the photos were being shown.
Arias, a 34-year-old former waitress, was convicted of murder last year in the killing of Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home, Authorities said she slit his throat so deeply that she nearly decapitated him and left his body in his shower where friends found him after about five days.
Jurors couldn't agree on a sentence then. Prosecutors have one more chance with a new jury to secure the death penalty, If the jury fails to reach a unanimous decision, the judge will then sentence Arias to spend the rest of her life behind bars or to be eligible for release after 25 years.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens told the new jury that they had to accept the guilty verdict on the murder charge.
The start of the sentencing retrial was less of a spectacle than the initial case in early 2013, when onlookers from around the country traveled to Phoenix and lined up outside court for the trial that became a tabloid TV sensation. Still, some of the people who regularly attended the first trial were back in court Tuesday.
The tumultuous relationship of Arias and Alexander became a major part of the obsession with the case as intimate details of their time together were revealed in the courtroom.
The first trial was broadcast live, but Judge Stephens imposed restrictions on the sentencing retrial. Cameras are allowed at the retrial, but no footage can be broadcast until it's finished.
A prosecutor at the sentencing retrial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias showed jurors two photos Tuesday of her ex-boyfriend and victim Travis Alexander.
PHOENIX (AP) — The Jodi Arias sentencing retrial began Tuesday with lawyers alternately portraying her as a vicious killer and a hard-luck case deserving a second chance.
As he delivered his opening statement, prosecutor Juan Martinez displayed a photo of the slit throat of Arias' boyfriend and victim Travis Alexander, who also was shot and suffered about 30 stab wounds in his Mesa home more than six years ago.
Prosecutors say Arias killed Alexander in a fit of jealousy and rage after he broke off their relationship and wanted to see other women.
Defense lawyer Kirk Nurmi countered Tuesday by citing Arias' clean criminal record until the killing as one of the reasons she deserves a life sentence, not death. He also said she suffers from mental illness and was a victim of child abuse.
"It's up to you to write the final chapter to this story," Nurmi told the new jurors deciding whether Arias should live or die.
The 34-year-old Arias was convicted of murder last year, but that jury deadlocked on whether to give her the death penalty or life in prison.
The start of the sentencing retrial was less of a spectacle than the initial case in early 2013, when onlookers from around the country traveled to Phoenix and lined up outside court for the trial that became a tabloid TV sensation.
The tumultuous relationship of Arias and Alexander became a major part of the obsession over the case as intimate details of their time together were revealed in the courtroom.
The first trial was broadcast live, but Judge Sherry Stephens imposed restrictions this time. Cameras are allowed at the retrial, but none of the footage can be broadcast until after it's finished.
As a registered Republican one of the biggest things that worries me about Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey is his climbing into political bed with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Why would a guy seek out the support and endorsement form a sheriff who is under federal scrutiny and court ordered regulation, has been shown to be an ineffective sheriff who blew off hundreds of cases involving rapes and child molests, has cost the taxpayers of Maricopa County well over $100 million dollars in misspent jail tax funds, has 30,000 unserved felony arrest warrants in his files, has cost us tens of millions of dollars related to lawsuits stemming from prisoners being abused and killed in his jail and who spent the last decade alienating Hispanics on both sides of the border?
PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say a Phoenix infant critically injured after allegedly being shaken 15 times by his father has died.
Phoenix police say the 6-week-old boy died Tuesday.
They say 28-year-old Guadalupe Gonzales was booked into jail Monday on suspicion of child abuse and now will be facing first-degree murder charges.
It was unclear Wednesday if Gonzales he has a lawyer yet.
Police were called to a hospital Sunday when medical personnel reported an injured child.
Hospital officials say the child's injuries weren't consistent with what the dad told them.
Police say Gonzales told detectives he rolled off a couch while he was sleeping and fell on the baby.
The child's mother told police that she returned home to find Gonzales holding the baby and crying and the infant wasn't breathing.
KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) — Lawyers for a Bullhead City man charged in the disappearance and death of an 8-year-old girl are asking a court for $10,000 to pay for a psychological evaluation.
The Mohave County Public Defender's Office said in court papers released Friday that 26-year-old Justin James Rector "does suffer some mental health issues."
Rector has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, child abuse and abandonment of a body in the death and disappearance of Isabella "Bella" Grogan-Cannella.
Her partially clothed body was found Sept. 3, a day after she was reported missing from her Bullhead City home.
Prosecutors say they are considering seeking the death penalty in the case.
Authorities describe Rector as a family friend who was staying at Isabella's home at the time she disappeared