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S.D. teen with brain cancer allowed to graduate 

A 17-year-old South Dakota student with brain cancer will be allowed to walk with her class at graduation on Sunday after school officials reversed their decision, the Rapid City Journal reported.

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Originally, Meridith Erck was told by the Rapid City School Board that she could not participate in graduation ceremonies for Central High School because she was six credits short of earning a diploma. She wanted to graduate with her twin brother, the Journal reported.

Schools Superintendent Lori Simon and Central Principal Mike Talley had rejected the request of Erck and her mother. The Journal reported that the district reversed itself after an outpouring of support for Erck.

Erck was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2015, and previously had colon cancer. Her illness prevented her from completing all of her classes on time.

 

 

Texas man gets 5-year sentence for killing girlfriend’s daughter

A Texas man convicted of killing his girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter was sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday, KSAT reported.

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Matthew Carrillo was found guilty Tuesday in the 2012 death of Kayla Garcia. The 28-year-old could have been sentenced to a maximum of life in prison.

According to trial testimony, the girl suffered massive blunt force head trauma and other injuries consistent with a beating.

The girl's mother is charged with injury to a child by omission and is awaiting trial, KSAT reported.

Alabama executes man for 1982 murder

Tommy Arthur, who escaped seven previous execution dates, was put to death by lethal injection for his conviction in a 1982 murder-for-hire, AL.com reported.

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Alabama correctional officials said the 75-year-old inmate was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. Friday. The execution began about 11:50 p.m., 10 minutes before the death warrant was to expire, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said. 

Arthur was convicted in the fatal shooting of Troy Wicker as Wicker slept in his Muscle Shoals home, according to court documents. Wicker’s wife initially blamed an intruder, but later testified she promised Arthur $10,000 to kill her husband, The Associated Press reported.

Arthur was nicknamed the “Houdini” of death row because he had eluded execution seven times. He was executed at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.

The inmate gave a thumbs up gesture with his left hand to his daughter, Sherrie. who was in the witness room, AL.com reported.

In a statement before the execution, Arthur read out the names of his children. "I'm sorry I failed you as a father. I love you more than anything on earth," he said, his voice cracking.

The execution was to have begun at 6 p.m. but was delayed by appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the execution had not begun by midnight, the state would have had to seek another execution date, AL.com reported.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said he hoped Wicker’s family can begin to recover.

"Thirty-four years after he was first sentenced to death for the murder of a Colbert County man, Thomas Arthur's protracted attempt to escape justice is finally at an end,” Marshall said. “Most importantly, tonight, the family of Troy Wicker can begin the long-delayed process of recovery from a painful loss." 

Greg Gianforte wins special election in Montana

Republican Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana's open U.S. House seat Thursday night and apologized to the reporter who accused the Republican of “body-slamming” him, CNN reported.

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With 84 percent of precincts reporting, Gianforte had earned 50.8 percent of the vote to lead Democrat Rob Quist, who polled 43.8 percent, CNN reported, citing Edison Research.

In his acceptance speech, Gianforte apologized by name to Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter who made the accusation after an altercation on Wednesday. The Gallatin County Sheriff's office later charged Gianforte with misdemeanor assault, CNN reported.

"When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it," Gianforte told his supporters at his election night rally in Bozeman. "That's the Montana way."

Saying he was "not proud" of his behavior, he added, "I should not have responded the way I did. For that I'm sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I'm sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs."

Members of the supportive crowd shouted, "You're forgiven."

Gianforte, a technology entrepreneur, was considered the favorite heading into Thursday’s election to fill the seat once held by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, but his scuffle with Jacobs raised questions about the outcome.

Democrats had hoped Quist, a Montana folk singer and first-time candidate, could have capitalized on a wave of activism following President Donald Trump's election.

JFK’s daughter, grandchildren pay tribute in video

The centennial of John F. Kennedy’s birthday is Monday, and in an early Memorial Day tribute, his daughter and grandchildren reflected on the life of the 35th president and the impact he had on their lives. 

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At the start of a video created by the JFK Library, Caroline Kennedy said she has thought about her father “and missed him every day of my life,” Today reported.

“Growing up without him was made easier by all the people who kept him in their hearts, who told me that he inspired them to work and fight and believe in a better world, to give something back to this country that has given so much to so many,” she said in the video.

Kennedy, 59, recalled hiding under father’s desk in the Oval Office, and spoke about the generation her father inspired, Today reported.

"As my father said in his inaugural address, 'This work will not be finished in our lifetime, it's up to us to continue to pass these values on to our children and grandchildren,'" she said.

In the video, Tatiana Kennedy Schlossberg spoke of her connection to her grandfather, then described her unique connection to one of the nation's most historical figures.

"One of the defining relationships of my life is with someone I've never met, my grandfather, President John F. Kennedy," she said.

“To me, that is where he lives, as a historical figure rooted in the past, but also as a person connected to so much of what came after him,” she said in the video. “But while my grandfather had reverence for the past, and the lessons it could impart, he also knew that America was a country where change was possible. That we aren't bound solely by tradition if we understand the past with which we are breaking."

Tatiana's sister, Rose Schlossberg, also described the need to reflect upon the past to help shape the future.

"My grandfather would be proud of how far we’ve come as a nation since 1963, but he’d have been the first to tell us that we have a long way to go,” she said.

The president's only grandson, Jack Schlossberg, said his favorite speech by John F. Kennedy was about sending a man to the moon, "not because it would be easy, but because it would be so hard."

Man finds 2.78-carat diamond at Arkansas state park

A Montana man promised his wife a diamond for Mother’s Day, and he sure delivered the goods.

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Wendell Fox discovered a 2.78-carat champagne-colored diamond at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas on May 13, ABC News reported. Staff at the park confirmed the discovery, calling it the second-largest one found at the Murfreesboro park this year.

"When I told her I was going to find her a diamond for Mother's Day I didn't know I would actually find one," Fox told ABC News. "I sort of pre-committed so I had to follow through.”

Fox, 70, an Arkansas native, named his gem “Way Out Yonder” as a tribute to their home in Montana. The gem will be made into a pendant for his wife, Jennifer, Fox told ABC News.

On March 11, Arkansas resident Kalel Langford found a 7.44-carat brown gem that he named Superman’s Diamond.

The diamond Fox found is “about the size an English pea,” park retail specialist Amanda Johnson told OzarksFirst.

“It contains a few inclusions, like most diamonds from the park, but it also has an unmistakable sparkling, metallic shine,” she said.

Fox and his wife live in Joliet, Montana, but both are Arkansas natives. He said they were walking around the park grounds “looking for a glimmer” when he noticed the diamond.

"I was surface looking, walking very slowly and looking very slowly and I saw it," Fox told ABC News. "I got down for a closer inspection because I wasn't quite sure what to look for, but as soon as I saw it I thought, 'that's probably a diamond.'"

When Fox showed the gem to the employees at the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, "one of the ladies sort of gasped and I just saw this big smile," he said.

"We still can't believe that we found it. It was just by the grace of God and love," Fox told ABC News.

Nursing assistant accused of causing injury that led to 98-year-old's death

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has arrested a nursing assistant accused of causing injuries related to a 98-year-old woman's death. 

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Edna Warren suffered a broken leg during physical contact with nursing assistant Hakim Ogunkunle, 43, on Tuesday at Newnan Health and Rehabilitation. 

Warren was taken to Piedmont Newnan Hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery, but died during the procedure. 

According to the GBI, an investigation revealed that Ogunkunle intentionally caused Warren's injury.

“He gave a preliminary statement about what occurred and it did not match the severity of the injury,” GBI spokesman Bahan Rich said.

Ogunkunle was arrested Thursday and charged with aggravated battery and exploitation and intimidation of an elderly person.

GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said the agency is focused on fighting crimes against the elderly and disabled, and in cracking cases like this one, it’s important that suspicious activity and injuries are reported.

“Over the years, we have definitely found that there has been underreporting, but since we started training law enforcement and prosecutors, we’ve noticed that there has been an increase in the number of reports that are made in these cases,” she said.

Investigators said they will look into Ogunkunle’s past and work to determine if there are any other victims.

“This case is just one example of if the case doesn’t get reported, there’s a great chance this person can continue to perpetuate these crimes. That is something that cannot be tolerated,” Miles said.

An autopsy will help determine how the victim’s leg was broken and if she had any other injuries.

If you believe someone is being abused, the state has a toll-free hotline to get help: 1-866-552-4464.

You can also visit this website.

Video shows a dump truck lose its brakes as it barrels towards a busy intersection

An out-of-control dump truck crashed into a vehicle on Coal Creek Parkway in Bellevue on Wednesday and it was caught on traffic cameras.

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Bellevue police said the dump truck was traveling northbound on Forest Drive when it lost its brakes and hit a Honda.

The driver of the Honda had minor injuries.

Coal Creek Parkway at Forest Drive was cleared just before 4:30 p.m.

1-month-old boy dies after parents didn't check on him for at least 6 hours, police say

The parents of a 1-month-old Cocoa, Florida, boy were arrested Thursday after investigators claimed their child died because they allegedly failed to check on him for at least six hours.

Superiah Campbell, 19, and Cameron Dowden, 21, were each charged with a count of manslaughter of a child for the May 10th death of their son.

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Cocoa police officers were called to the couple’s apartment unit at about 12:15 p.m. on May 10.

The 911 caller told officials the child had stopped breathing and was cold to the touch, investigators said.

Emergency personnel tried to resuscitate the child when they arrived at the apartment, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

After investigating the child’s death, police said they found that evidence showed the parents had not checked on the child for at least six hours, leading to the discovery of the boy in an unresponsive state.

“By failing to check on the child for over six hours, the defendants consciously did an act, or followed a course of conduct that they must have known, or reasonably should have known, was likely to cause death or great bodily harm,” Cocoa Police Department Detective Debra Titkanich wrote in an affidavit. “Both parents showed a reckless disregard for human life.”

Investigators had not determined an official cause of death but said it appeared the child suffocated. 

Naked man caught on camera stealing $25,000 swan sculpture in Florida

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office took to Facebook on Thursday in an effort to help track down a $25,000 swan sculpture stolen by a naked man in Lakeland, Florida.

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The man was caught on surveillance camera squeezing through a gap in the fence at Lakeland Cold Storage just before 5 a.m. Friday.

He was naked and carrying a five-gallon bucket, the video shows.

A short time later, a 2015 Ford F150 pickup truck loaded with a black and white-checked swan sculpture can be seen driving from the business.

“The truck was later recovered in Hillsborough County, sans swan,” the PCSO said on Facebook.

The naked man was also identified by deputies, but his name was not released by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators were confident that someone has seen the large missing swan statue.

“It’s got to be hard to hide one of these,” the office said on Facebook. “Someone has seen it.”

While the truck has been found and the suspect identified, the swan remains missing and investigators hope the public will help track it down.

“So, we have a naked man, a bucket and a very expensive and very large stolen swan,” the PCSO said on Facebook. “We know who the man is and we have the truck back. But have you seen the missing swan? Call us.”

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the stolen swan is asked to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-577-1600 or 863-298-6200.

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