Appeals Court Upholds Murder Conviction of Former Police Officer (BCNN1 8.6.21)

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According to the Associated Press, A Texas appeals court on Thursday upheld the murder conviction of a former Dallas police officer who was sentenced to prison for fatally shooting her neighbor in his home. A panel of three state judges ruled that a Dallas County jury had sufficient evidence to convict Amber Guyger of murder in the 2018 shooting of Botham Jean. The decision by the 5th Texas Court of Appeals in Dallas means Guyger, who turns 33 on Monday, will continue to serve her 10-year prison sentence and largely dashes her hopes of having the 2019 conviction overturned. She will become eligible for parole in 2024, under her current sentence. The ruling comes in a case that drew national attention because of the strange circumstances and because it was one in a string of shootings of Black men by white police officers. The appeals court justices did not dispute the basic facts of the case. Guyger, returning home from a long shift, mistook Jean’s apartment for her own, which was on the floor directly below his. Finding the door ajar, she entered and shot him, later testifying that she thought he was a burglar. Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, had been eating a bowl of ice cream before Guyger shot him. She was later fired from the Dallas Police Department. Guyger’s appeal hung on the claim that her mistaking Jean’s apartment for her own was reasonable, and therefore, so too was the shooting. Her lawyer asked the appeals court to acquit her of murder or substitute in a conviction for criminally negligent homicide, which carries a lesser sentence.

According to the Daily Mail, The founder of the Hillsong megachurch, Brian Houston, has been charged with allegedly concealing his father’s sexual abuse of a child in the 1970s. In a statement, the NSW Police Force confirmed detectives had served a court attendance notice on 67-year-old Houston’s lawyer in Sydney about 2pm on Thursday. The charge against Houston – who has recently led prayer services in Monterrey, Mexico – is one of concealing a serious indictable offence. It can carry a maximum penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment, depending upon the exact crime concealed. The sensational development follows a years-long investigation by police in the city’s Hills District, where the global Pentecostal church first opened its doors. ‘Police will allege in court the man knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police,’ a statement said. Brian Houston released a statement about the charge on Thursday night. ‘These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter,’ he said. ‘I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.’ NSW Police began investigating Brian Houston after a 2014 royal commission into child sexual abuse delved into how Hillsong’s forerunners – the Hills and Sydney Christian Life Centres – handled abuse allegations raised against Frank in 1999. Then, Frank Houston was accused of sexually abusing a seven-year-old boy from Sydney’s east during trips from his native New Zealand three decades’ prior, in 1969 and 1970. After learning of the allegations, Brian Houston, then the president of the evangelical organisation the Assemblies of God in Australia, confronted his father, who confessed, the royal commission’s final report said, and ended his dad’s career as a preacher. However, the inquiry found that neither Houston nor the organisation’s national executive referred the Frank Houston sex abuse allegations to police. Houston Sr died in 2004, age 82, after confessing to a ‘continuing problem’ of a sexual interest in young boys. He was never charged by police. Brian Houston told the royal commission he did not report his dad to police as the victim was 35 or 36 years of age at the time the allegations surfaced. Brian Houston also claimed that, weeks after he became aware of the abuse, the victim had told him he did not want to go public or approach the police. The Hillsong Church released the following statement on Thursday night. ‘We are disappointed that Pastor Brian has been charged, and ask that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process as is his right. He has advised us that he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name. Given that this matter is now before the court, neither Pastor Brian or Hillsong Church will be making further statements. We thank all who are a part of our church for their support and prayers at this time.’ The charge against Pastor Houston will send shockwaves through the global evangelical empire Brian and wife Bobbie have built.

According to The Washington Post, The Justice Department on Thursday announced a sweeping civil rights investigation into the Phoenix police department’s use of force and its policies on dealing with homeless residents — the third federal probe of a local law enforcement agency launched since President Biden took office. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the pattern and practice investigation will seek to determine whether the Phoenix police engaged in excessive force or discriminatory behavior. He emphasized that investigators also will examine how the police department has treated residents with mental and physical disabilities and whether the agency unlawfully has disposed of the belongings of homeless residents — an issue that Garland did not mention when he began police investigations in Minneapolis and Louisville this spring. Phoenix leaders said they welcomed the federal intervention. “The recommendations that will result from this review will assist us in our ongoing efforts to become an even safer, stronger, more equitable city,” Mayor Kate Gallego said in a statement.

According to the Associated Press, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced mounting pressure Tuesday to resign, including from President Joe Biden and other onetime Democratic allies, after an investigation found he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women and worked to retaliate against one of his accusers. “I think he should resign,” Biden told reporters Tuesday, echoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and New York’s U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, all Democrats. The leader of the state Assembly, which has the power to bring impeachment charges, said it was clear Cuomo could no longer remain in office. Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, said he would move to complete an impeachment inquiry “as quickly as possible.” Cuomo remained defiant, saying in a taped response to the findings that “the facts are much different than what has been portrayed” and that he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.” The nearly five-month, non-criminal investigation, overseen by New York’s attorney general and led by two outside lawyers, concluded that 11 women from within and outside state government were telling the truth when they said Cuomo had touched them inappropriately, commented on their appearance or made suggestive comments about their sex lives.

According to PEOPLE magazine, A little boy is getting a second chance after enduring unimaginable heartbreak — all thanks to the detective who responded to the call on the night his world changed forever. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Detective Mike Blair and his wife Danyel said they knew they had to take in Ronnie Oneal IV and give him a new life after his traumatic experience in 2018. According to the sheriff’s department, Ronnie was just 8 years old when his mother and 9-year-old sister were brutally murdered by his dad, Ronnie Oneal III. That evening, HCSO Detective Mike Blair responded to the gruesome scene, where he discovered that little Ronnie had also been attacked, and was stabbed and lit on fire by his father. Ronnie Oneal III was sentenced to three life terms plus 60 years in prison for the murders. During Ronnie’s stay in the hospital, Blair would often visit, bringing the boy gifts from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he has a connection, according to WFLA. But it was not until one special evening that Blair realized just how impactful his visits were for Ronnie. “He kind of held on to my hand as I left, and he said, ‘Could you watch a movie with me?’ and I said, ‘No I can’t, I’ve gotta get back to work,'” Blair recalled in the video. “And I said, ‘How ’bout I come back and watch a movie with you tonight?'” “I called my wife and we were planning to go on a date night that night and I said, ‘Hey, instead of doing date night, do you mind if we watch a movie with this kid?'” Blair continued. Danyel agreed — and it wasn’t long before the couple knew they had to do more for Ronnie. At the time, Ronnie was living with family members who had some problems in their home. A Guardian Ad Litem was supervising his care and later approached the Blairs about taking him in. Added Danyel: “I had already started praying that God would soften Michael’s heart and say, ‘Okay, yes, we have a place and Ronnie belongs home with us.'” Even the couple’s five kids were on board, as Blair recalled: “My kids had come to me… and said to me, ‘Dad, you just need to go with Mom on this; we need to start fostering.'” The Blairs made it happen in 2019. After a five-month process, they took Ronnie in as their own, officially becoming a family of eight, according to the sheriff’s department video. Blair said, “The easiest way to surmise the whole, this is — it’s been a God thing for us.”

According to CBN, U.S. Olympian Sydney McLaughlin won the gold medal setting a world record Tuesday night Eastern Time in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. McLaughlin won the race with a scorching time of 51.46. After her victory, McLaughlin said it’s all about “just trusting the process and giving the glory to God.” Before the race she also quoted the Bible verse about how “iron sharpens iron”, referring to her American teammate Dalilah Muhammad who came in a close second, earning the silver. McLaughlin had delivered a stellar performance in the semi-finals, landing a spot in the finals at the Tokyo Olympics. She won the semi-final by scoring just shy of the Olympic record with a time of 53.03, despite facing rainy conditions.

According to Yahoo Sports, Nearly 500 Milwaukee Bucks fans tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a mass gathering downtown to watch the team close out the Phoenix Suns at home. Health officials announced the sudden surge in cases on Thursday, revealing that 491 people who have tested positive for COVID are believed to or confirmed to have attended the celebration in the the city’s Deer District for Game 6 of the NBA Finals. “We anticipated an increase in positive cases due to the delta variant but 155% increase in one week is distressing,” Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kriste Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The state is now in its “extreme transmission” phase as nearly 200 of every 100,000 have tested positive, according to health officials.

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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!