Jul 20

Sunrise vigil held for Australian woman fatally shot by Minnesota officer

iStock/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) — Family and friends of the Australian woman who was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer last week gathered Wednesday in her native Australia for a sunrise vigil.

Nearly 300 people gathered at Sydney’s Freshwater Beach to pay tribute to Justine Damond, 40, who was allegedly shot by Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor on Saturday after she called 911 to report a possible assault near her home.

Vigil attendees, many carrying candles, tossed single pink blossoms into the ocean. Pink was her favorite color, her family said.

“We’re here to come together as a community around our beautiful Justine to honor her life, share our love and mourn her death,” her family said in a statement Wednesday.

Damond’s father, John Ruszczyk, who also attended the vigil, spoke out for the first time on Tuesday to demand more information about how his daughter died.

“Justine, our daughter, was so special to us and to so many others. Justine was a beacon to all of us,” Ruszczyk told reporters Tuesday. “We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death.”

Damond, a meditation and yoga instructor, lived in Minneapolis’ Fulton neighborhood with her fiance, Don Damond. The two were planning to marry next month.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jul 20

Afghan girls robotics team wins silver, meets Ivanka Trump

Twitter/Afghan Embassy, D.C.(WASHINGTON) — The six Afghan girls who were twice denied U.S. visas before President Donald Trump intervened at the last minute, won a silver medal for “courageous achievement” Tuesday at the robotics competition they traveled thousands of miles to attend.

The young women, who arrived in the U.S. shortly after midnight on Saturday, participated in the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge, in which teams of young women and men from around the world showcase robots they created. The three-day competition kicked off Sunday at Washington, D.C.’s DAR Constitution Hall.

The Afghanistan team’s “courageous achievement” recognizes teams that exhibited a “can-do” attitude even under difficult circumstances or when things didn’t go as planned. The gold medal in that category went to the South Sudan team and bronze to the Oman team, whose students are deaf.

The competition’s top honors went to the Europe team, which won a gold award for getting the most cumulative points over the course of the competition. Poland got silver and Armenia snatched bronze.

The Afghan embassy in Washington tweeted photos of Ivanka Trump meeting the girls, writing, “Our #STEMGirls are doing so well at @F1RSTglobal #FGC2017 that @IvankaTrump had to see. Thanks for supporting #Afghanistan & #womeninSTEM.”

Our #STEMGirls are doing so well at @F1RSTglobal #FGC2017 that @IvankaTrump had to see. Thanks for supporting #Afghanistan & #womeninSTEM pic.twitter.com/Dmhewg2lcx

— Afghan Embassy DC (@Embassy_of_AFG) July 18, 2017

The State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs also tweeted a photo of Ivanka with the Afghan team at the competition.

Senior Advisor @IvankaTrump meets with the Afghan girl’s team at the #FGC2017 robotics competition. @F1RSTglobal pic.twitter.com/DKk4QjrdwN

— State_SCA (@State_SCA) July 18, 2017

And Jennifer Korn, special assistant to the president, tweeted photos of the first daughter sitting down with the Afghan team, and at the competition, writing, “Amazing visit 2 @FIRSTweets w/ @IvankaTrump celebrating girls empowerment & STEM at Global Robotics comp & mtg / teams USA & Afghanistan.”

Amazing visit 2 @FIRSTweets w/ @IvankaTrump celebrating girls empowerment & STEM at Global Robotics comp & mtg / teams USA & Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/Yj4eog6fzm

— Jennifer S. Korn (@jennifersks) July 18, 2017

The team, from western Afghanistan’s Herat region, had twice been denied visas to enter the country by the U.S. State Department, although the reason was never publicly disclosed. Still, many critics pointed to Trump’s travel ban executive order and his administration’s policies, which some perceive as hostile to some foreigners, for the girls’ denial of entry.

But the president stepped in, and the team was soon U.S.-bound.

“The State Department worked incredibly well with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that this case was reviewed and handled appropriately,” Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser for strategy, said in a statement following the president’s intervention. “We could not be prouder of this delegation of young women who are also scientists — they represent the best of the Afghan people and embody the promise that their aspirations can be fulfilled. They are future leaders of Afghanistan and strong ambassadors for their country.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jul 20

What OJ Simpson juror thinks of Simpson now, two decades after criminal trial

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A juror who served on the 1995 O.J. Simpson criminal trial says his perception of Simpson’s innocence has changed over the years, but he ultimately stands by the not guilty verdict.

“Based off the evidence as presented in the trial … the only conclusion I can come to is not guilty,” Lon Cryer told ABC News’ Nightline co-anchor Dan Harris. “It wasn’t based on whether or not I really thought he did it or didn’t do it… The only thing that trial did was raise reasonable doubt in my mind about whether or not he was the perpetrator or not.”

In 1995, Simpson was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in what became known as the “trial of the century.” In 1997, however, Simpson lost a wrongful death civil suit that the Goldman and Brown families brought against him, and was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages. Simpson has always maintained he did not kill Goldman and Brown.

Watch the full story on “Nightline” Thursday at 12:35 a.m. ET

Cryer, who was juror No. 247 in the 1995 “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” criminal trial, said he now feels differently about Simpson.

“I’m probably pretty sure that he probably is the person that went over there and killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldberg,” he said.

Cryer said his perception changed after Simpson’s notorious book, If I Did It: Confessions of a Killer, came to light.

“I thought that was so bush league,” he said. “It became apparent to me in my mind that he was probably the person that went over there and killed those people.”

Cryer is perhaps best known as the juror who gave Simpson a black power salute — a raised fist — as he left the courtroom after the verdict was announced.

“It was only to say to Mr. Simpson … ‘Hey man, enjoy your life, go back and be a real person again, because really, truthfully this was a blessing to you that we gave you here,’” Cryer said. “I wanted to try to let him know how I felt about it, really, about him and about the fact that he had been acquitted.”

Cryer is featured in a four-part series, The Jury Speaks, airing on Oxygen that takes a look at some of the major trials of our time through the jurors’ eyes and asks them to recast their verdict votes given what they know now.

Nancy Glass, the executive producer of the Oxygen series, said she believes the public is still fascinated with the Simpson case because it’s still “an unsolved mystery.”

“And it involves money, celebrity, sex, murder,” she said. “I think it will always capture our imagination even if an answer is found.”

Reflecting on big moments during the 1995 criminal trial, Cryer brought up the infamous glove experiment, in which Simpson tried on a bloody glove found at the crime scene and the glove didn’t fit. Cryer said he thought that demonstration “backfired on the prosecution.”

“It screams out to me that obviously those gloves don’t fit him which means that maybe he wasn’t the perpetrator of the crimes,” he said.

Simpson had put on rubber gloves before trying on the glove in court, which Cryer acknowledged would likely change how the glove fit.

“But you have to remember that the prosecution allowed that to happen,” he said.

That experiment is something Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor in the trial, said she tried to stop from ever happening.

“I didn’t want to do it,” she told ABC News in a 2016 interview. “I knew it was a mistake … I objected. I said the latex is going to screw up the fit, they’ve shrunk, you know, I mean, I was on the record.”

Another pivotal moment in the trial was the audio tapes of LAPD Det. Mark Fuhrman, the officer who found the bloody glove and was heard the recordings using racial slurs. Hearing the Fuhrman tapes, Cryer said, was a big moment for him as a juror.

“It just it threw light on him as a perjurer in that case and of course he was a major prosecution witness,” Cryer said.

Simpson’s defense team brought the issue of race to the forefront, and they argued the LAPD had planted or contaminated evidence the prosecution presented during the trial.

“Whoever committed the crimes had bloody clothes, the bloody murder weapon, as well as bloody shoes, none of those pieces have ever been found,” Cryer said. “I don’t think that the perpetrator of that crime would have been clumsy enough to drop a glove … I actually believe those pieces of evidence were planted.”

But from his perspective, Cryer said he doesn’t feel race had an impact on the resulting verdict.

“There were some people that tried to infer that the verdict was a payback for the Rodney King verdicts,” he said. “I think a lot of people thought that some of us were predisposed to decisions beforehand. I personally wasn’t and I feel that none of the other jurors on the case were personally disposed to come up with a verdict other than what they would have come up with.”

The jurors were sequestered in a hotel for months throughout the trial. They weren’t allowed to watch television or read the newspaper and they were given a strict curfew every day.

“There were times where it really did feel like you were in jail. It wasn’t fun at all,” Cryer said. “I believe it created a certain tension because of course it created stress for people.”

After 253 days of trial and hearing testimony from 156 witnesses, the case was finally handed over to the jury to deliberate.

“We took a straw poll and of course the straw poll came back 10-2 for acquittal and I will admit to you, the adrenaline was flying in me,” Cryer said. “I didn’t lose sight of what I was supposed to do, but what it was about was I had been sequestered for 10 and a half months. I had no control over anything. When we were at the point of deliberation at this point, we as the jury have control of how much longer we’re going to be here.”

After less than four hours of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict and Simpson was found not guilty. But afterward, Cryer says his first days of freedom were mired in fear.

“The night that we were released I didn’t even stay at my own home. I was in fear. I wound up staying at a hotel the first night,” he said. “I had people camped out at my home in Los Angeles all the time and I had people would show up at my house and leave threatening remarks if … I answered my intercom switch and stuff.”

Simpson is currently serving a nine-to-33-year prison term for armed robbery and kidnapping after a 2007 Las Vegas hotel room confrontation over sports memorabilia. His next parole hearing is Thursday.

When he heard about Simpson’s conviction for the 2007 incident, Cryer said he felt like saying, “How stupid can you be?”

“All you had to do was just stay quiet,” he said. As for the sentence Simpson received for that incident, which some maintain was harsher than most for the crime, he said, “I believe that was Nevada’s way of saying, ‘We’re not California.'”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jul 20

Minneapolis police release 911 transcript in fatal shooting of bride-to-be from Australia

iStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) — The Minneapolis Police Department has released transcripts of the 911 calls placed by a bride-to-be moments before a responding officer shot her to death.

Justine Ruszczyk, a 40-year-old Australian native, placed her first call to 911 Saturday night at 11:27 p.m. local time to report what she believed was a sexual assault occurring near her home in Minneapolis’ Fulton neighborhood.

“I can hear someone out the back and I — I’m not sure if she’s having sex or being raped,” Ruszczyk told the 911 operator, according to the transcript released by police.

“It’s been going on for a while and I think she tried to say help and it sounds distressed,” she adds.

“OK, I’ve already got an officer on the way,” the 911 operator tells her.

Ruszczyk called 911 again about eight minutes later, expressing concern that police hadn’t arrived yet.

According to the transcript, the operator answers: “911, what is the address of the emergency?”

“I just reported one but no one’s here and was wondering if they got the address wrong,” Ruszczyk says.

“Are you Justine?” the operator asks. “You’re hearing a female screaming?”

“Yeah,” Ruszczyk responds. “Yes, along behind the house.”

“Yup, officers are on the way there,” the operator says.

Two officers form the Minneapolis Police Department, identified by authorities as Matthew Harrity and Mohamed Noor, responded to Ruszczyk’s call Saturday night.

Harrity was driving the squad car, while Noor was in the passenger seat, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. As they neared Ruszczyk’s home, Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the car, after which Ruszczyk immediately approached the driver’s side, authorities said.

Noor then fired his weapon, striking Ruszczyk through the driver’s side window, which was open, the Minnesota DPS said. The officers provided medical assistance to Ruszczyk until medics arrived but she was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Monday that Ruszczyk died of a single gunshot wound to her abdomen.

Both officers have been placed on standard paid administrative leave pending the investigation. Ruszczyk’s death has been ruled a homicide.

Police have launched an internal affairs review of the officers’ use of force.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune said the woman was Australian and went by the name Justine Damond, using the last name of her fiance, Don Damond.

“Her maiden name was Justine Ruszczyk,” the Star Tribune reported. “While the couple were not yet married, Justine referred to herself as Damond on her personal website.”

Damond’s website says she was a yoga instructor, a personal health and life coach and a “meditation teacher, embracing and teaching the neuro-scientific benefits of meditation.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jul 20

Boy finds 1.2 million-year-old fossil while playing outside

(Peter Houde) Jude Sparks, 10, found an animal fossil near his home in New Mexico, which is now being preserved at New Mexico State University. Peter Houde Jude Sparks, 10, found an animal fossil near his home in New Mexico, which is now being preserved at New Mexico State University. (LAS CRUCES, N.M.) — A piece of history has been found thanks to a boy stumbling upon a rare, 1.2 million-year-old animal fossil.

In November 2016, Jude Sparks, now 10, was on an outing with his family near their New Mexico home when he tripped over what he thought was a cow skull.

Now, researchers at New Mexico State University are preserving the discovery, which was identified as a Stegomastodon — a mastodon-like or elephant-like animal.

“I imagined through my own mind of being 9 years old and finding something like that and how incredible it would be,” dad Kyle Sparks. “Like most kids, he had this really strong phase, maybe 5 or 6 years old, where he’d be reading every dinosaur and fossil book you can imagine. He’s ecstatic about it.”

Sparks, a father of three, said he left what to do with the fossil up to Jude, who decided he wanted to call an expert.

Sparks reached to Peter Houde, a professor at New Mexico State University, who had experience with the same type of fossil in the past.

The next day, Houde came out to see the remains for himself.

“I was real excited,” Houde told ABC News. “I really like to encourage people to be aware. It was really fortuitous that this particular family did what they did. Had they tried to dig up something themselves, it really takes a great deal of technical know-how without destroying the specimen in the process. They were really responsible to try to get in touch with somebody.

“It is great for the community because now everybody can appreciate it,” he added.

Houde said the university was granted permission from the landowner where the fossil was found to perform an extrication in late May.

Prior, Houde confirmed the fossil to be that of a Stegomastodon.

Houde extricated the remains of the species with his fellow faculty members and a geologist.

Houde said one of the tusks is missing from the animal, suggesting that there could be more skeleton near the site where Jude found the skull. He hopes to return to the site with geologists for an additional search, he added.

Jude and his family have been invited to visit the fossil as researchers preserve it at the university, his father said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jul 20

Arrest made in apparent road-rage shooting that left driver hospitalized

Alex_Schmidt/iStock/Thinkstock(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) — Authorities in Virginia say an arrest was made Wednesday in an apparent road-rage shooting Wednesday morning, that left a woman hospitalized and the vehicle she was driving riddled with bullets.

The Alexandria Police Department said Wednesday that Ernest Stickwell, 58, of Mechanicsville, Maryland, had been charged with malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Authorities said he’d been taken into custody by the Maryland State Police and would, at some point, be extradited to Virginia.

Suspect arrested in Pennsylvania road rage killing Dramatic video shows alleged road rage incident on California highway

According to police, officers were called to the shooting in Alexandria around 7:56 a.m.

Police said the incident started on an interstate between the occupants of a black sport utility vehicle and another vehicle.

After the two vehicles exited the interstate, police said, they reached a stoplight. That’s when, according to police, the driver of one vehicle allegedly opened fire, shattering the SUV’s windows.

“Based on eyewitness testimony and interviewing the two people that were shot at, we’re starting to develop a picture that indicates it was a road-rage incident,” said the police department’s David Huckler. “I don’t know the exact circumstances that led to this shooting … What we’re concentrating on is to figure out exactly what happened in this case, discover the facts and present the case to the commonwealth attorney’s office.”

The SUV’s driver, a 33-year-old Bladensburg, Maryland, woman, suffered gunshot wounds to her upper body. She was taken to a hospital, where she was in stable condition. Her identity had not been released. A man, who was also in the SUV, was not injured.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jul 20

Minneapolis police officers were startled by noise before fatal shooting of Australian woman

ChiccoDodiFC/iStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) — Minnesota state officials have identified the two Minneapolis Police Department officers involved in the fatal shooting of a 40-year-old Australian woman who called 911 on Saturday.

Police have launched an internal affairs review of the officers’ use of force.

Here’s what we know about the officers and the tragic death that took place over the weekend.

The responding officers

Matthew Harrity, who has been with the Minneapolis Police Department for a year, and Mohamed Noor, who has been with the department for 21 months, were the responding officers to the scene after Justine Maia Ruszczyk called 911 to report a possible assault near her home on Saturday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced in a press release Tuesday night.

Harrity was driving the squad car, while Noor was in the passenger seat. As they neared Ruszczyk’s home, Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the car, after which Ruszczyk immediately approached the driver’s side, according to the Minnesota DPS.

The deadly shooting

Noor then fired his weapon, striking Ruszczyk through the driver’s side window, which was open, the Minnesota DPS said. The officers provided medical assistance to Ruszczyk until EMS arrived, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Monday that Ruszczyk died of a single gunshot wound to her abdomen after she was shot.

Both officers have been placed on standard paid administrative leave pending the investigation. Ruszczyk’s death has been ruled a homicide.

Investigators are seeking to interview a white male about 18 to 25 years old who was seen riding a bicycle in the area immediately before the shooting, according to the Minnesota DPS.

Complaints on file

ABC affiliate KSTP in Saint Paul, Minnesota, reported that Noor had at least three prior complaints on file with the department, according to city data.

Two of the complaints are still open and the other has been dismissed without disciplinary action, according to the department’s Office of Police Conduct Review (OPCR), which investigates allegations of police misconduct in the city. The office did not provide information on the nature of the complaints.

The victim, a bride-to-be

The Minneapolis Star Tribune said Ruszczyk was Australian and went by the name Justine Damond, using the last name of her fiancé, Don Damond.

“Her maiden name was Justine Ruszczyk,” the Star Tribune reported. “While the couple were not yet married, Justine referred to herself as Damond on her personal website.”

Ruszczyk’s website says the bride-to-be was a yoga instructor, a personal health and life coach and a “meditation teacher, embracing and teaching the neuro-scientific benefits of meditation.”

Unanswered questions

In a statement Tuesday, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges described Ruszczyk’s death as “tragic,” adding that she will continue to keep the lines of communication among officials and the public open due to interest in the case.

Harrity was interviewed by investigators Tuesday, but Noor declined to be interviewed, according to the Minnesota DPS. The Minnesota DPS Bureau of Criminal Apprehension cannot compel Noor to testify, and Noor’s attorney did not provide clarification on when, if ever, an interview will take place.

“We all want answers, we all want justice to be done … I wish he would make that statement,” Hodges said at press conference Tuesday night.

However, Noor’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, issued a statement describing Noor as a caring person with a family and said he “empathizes with the loss others are experiencing.“

“The current environment for police is difficult, but Officer Noor accepts this as part of his calling,” Plunkett said in the statement. “We would like to say more, and will in the future. At this time, however, there are several investigations ongoing and Officer Noor wants to respect the privacy to the family and asks the same in return during this difficult period.”

The officers’ body cameras were not turned on during the shooting, authorities said. The reason why police did not have their body cameras turned on is a “key question” for investigators, Hodges said on Good Morning America on Tuesday.

Minneapolis Police Department Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo said at Tuesday night’s press conference that the department is eight months out from fully rolling out body cameras across the force. He added that police department will soon review the body camera program.

Arradondo said the 911 call’s transcript will be released after Ruszczyk’s family has reviewed it.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau was out of the state for personal travel in the aftermath of the shooting but is cutting the trip short due to the incident, a spokesperson for the department told ABC News. She has been in constant contact with her team over the last three days, the spokesperson said.

In a statement, Harteau called the shooting “clearly a tragic death,” adding that she wants to “acknowledge the pain and frustration that family and community members have.”

“I also want to assure you that I understand why so many people have so many questions at this point,” she said. “I have many of the same questions and it is why we immediately asked for an external and independent investigation into the officer-involved shooting death. I’ve asked for the investigation to be expedited to provide transparency and to answer as many questions as quickly as we can.”

On Tuesday night, Minneapolis City Council member Linea Palmisano expressed her dissatisfaction with the information released so far, describing it as “underwhelming.”

The victim’s family and friends speak out

While speaking to reporters in Minneapolis on Monday afternoon, Damond said his fiancée’s death is a “loss to everyone who knew her.”

“She touched so many people with her loving and generous heart. She was a teacher to so many and living a life of openness, love, and kindness,” he said. “Our lives are forever changed as a result of knowing her. She was so kind and so darn funny … It is difficult to fathom how to go forward without her in my life.”

Ruszczyk’s family has demanded more information about how she died, her fiancé said.

“We are desperate for information,” Damond told reporters. “Piecing together Justine’s last moments before the homicide would be a small comfort as we grieve this tragedy.”

Justine Ruszczyk’s father, John Ruszczyk, said Tuesday he’s struggling to understand why she died.

“We thought yesterday was our worst nightmare, but we awoke to the ugly truth and it hurt even more,” John Ruszczyk told reporters. “Justine was a beacon to all of us. We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death.”

Family friend Julie Reed read a statement on behalf of Justine Ruszczyk’s family at a press conference in Australia.

“She was treasured and loved and we will really miss her,” Reed said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jul 20

Former prison guard believes O.J. Simpson has 'strong chance of getting out'

ABC News(NEW YORK) — O.J. Simpson will face a Nevada parole board Thursday after serving nine years in prison for armed robbery.

Craig Arnett, a former guard at Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada, said he got to see Simpson regularly during his first three years working at the prison. Arnett described Simpson as a model prisoner.

“He’s still an inmate, but he definitely wasn’t a problem child like some of the other ones were,” Arnett told ABC News. “I think he has a strong chance of getting out. I think he hasn’t really been a problem in prison.”

The parole board’s six commissioners will also consider the potential risk Simpson could pose to society should he be released. Simpson needs a majority vote of four of the six commissioners to be granted parole.

Simpson was convicted of armed robbery after he tried to steal sports memorabilia from Bruce Fromong and his friend in 2007. Simpson said he was attempting to get back his own personal memorabilia, but he was sentenced to 33 years in prison.

The former Heisman Trophy-winning football star apologized for his actions during a 2013 parole hearing.

“I didn’t know I was doing anything illegal, so I’m sorry,” Simpson said at the time. “I’m sorry for all of it.”

Now 70, Simpson is expected to speak at his parole hearing Thursday, which will be streamed live to the public.

Fromong told ABC News that he will be speaking on Simpson’s behalf.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jul 20

Wildfire forces evacuation of 2,000 from California town

iStock/Thinkstock(MARIPOSA, Calif.) — An entire California town was evacuated on Tuesday evening due to a 25,000-acre wildfire that had already destroyed eight structures, officials said.

California fire officials issued an evacuation order for the town of Mariposa, which has a population of about 2,000, on Tuesday as the wildfire threatened to burn some 1,500 homes and structures, according to fire officials.

The wildfire, dubbed the Detwiler Fire by authorities, ignited on Sunday. It was 5 percent contained as of late Tuesday evening, according to fire officials.

Officials said the fire also threatens to damage power lines that feed to the Yosemite National Park, located in the state’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County on Tuesday due to the fire, which he said had damaged power, water and communication infrastructure and forced the closure of major highways and local roads in the area.

“I don’t think we can emphasize enough how erratic and active this fire activity is — especially with this fire,” Mariposa County Sheriff Doug Binnewies told ABC affiliate KFSN-TV on Tuesday. “It’s done stuff that we’ve never seen before.”

More than 1,400 fire personnel from multiple agencies were dispatched to fight the “extreme and aggressive fire” via air and ground but the battle was complicated by severe temperatures and humidity, fire officials said.

“When you add the challenge that we’re in the foothills — when you add the slopes and grades and the temperatures we’re dealing with, the humidity we’re dealing with — it’s a full on the challenge,” Cal Fire public information officer Isaac Sanchez told KFSN.

Officials said the fire threatened several communities surrounding Mariposa, located about 160 miles east of San Francisco, as well as some “culturally and historically sensitive areas.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jul 20

Everything you need to know about OJ Simpson's parole hearing

Julie Jacobson-Pool/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) — All eyes will be on one of America’s most famous inmates, O.J. Simpson, on Thursday, as he appears in front of a parole board from behind bars at a Nevada prison.

If granted parole, Simpson, who was acquitted of all criminal charges in the 1994 killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, could be released from prison as early as October.

Here is everything you need to know about the parole hearing:

The conviction

Simpson, 70, is in prison following an arrest in 2007 during a botched robbery in Las Vegas, when he led a group of men into a hotel and casino to steal his own sports memorabilia at gunpoint. He was charged with a number of felony counts, including kidnapping and armed robbery. He was found guilty and sentenced to up to 33 years in prison.

The former football star contended the memorabilia and other personal items belonged to him. His bid for a new trial in the case was rejected in 2013, but he was granted parole that same year on some of the charges, based on good behavior. He was not released from prison at that time, since his prison sentences were set to run consecutively. Simpson had to wait until this year to appear again before the parole board.

The hearing

On July 20, Simpson will appear in front of the Nevada Parole Board in Carson City, Nevada, remotely via video conference from Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock. The hearing is set for 1 p.m. ET.

The decision

Simpson’s fate will be determined the same day as the hearing.

The commissioners will consider items including: his conduct in prison, participation in prison programs, potential letter of support and an assessment of the risk of re-offending.

He needs four votes from commissioners to get paroled.

Four commissioners will deliberate in Carson City; if they are unanimous, that will become the final decision.

If the panel splits in any way, they will stop the voting and call in via phone two additional commissioners who will be on standby in Las Vegas so the voting can resume.

If the deliberation moves to six commissioners, four of them must grant parole for Simpson to be released.

If the parole board is split evenly, the board has established a policy to deny parole for six months, and a subsequent hearing will be held in January 2018.

If granted parole

If Simpson is granted parole, his earliest possible release date is Oct. 1.

He could potentially leave the state; however, parole restrictions may require him to serve a year of community service in Clark County, Nevada.

Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto, told ABC News that Simpson is “hopeful” he’ll be paroled. Scotto said if Simpson is freed, he would want “to just keep a low profile, be with his kids, be with his family, play golf.”

A July 14 statement on behalf of Ron Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, and sister, Kim Goldman, said, “Fred and Kim Goldman anxiously await” Simpson’s parole hearing.

“While they respect the legal process, they are feeling both frustration and anticipation over how this will change their lives again should Simpson be released. As with all victims and survivors, they will remain patient and optimistic that the system will do what is necessary to ensure the public’s safety remains a priority and that proper justice will be served,” the statement continued.

Goldman’s family told ABC News earlier this year they cannot bear the idea of Simpson as a free man.

“Disgust,” Ron Goldman said when asked what it would look like to him if Simpson was paroled.

Added Kim Goldman, “He committed a horrible heinous crime, and I have no feeling except rot in hell.”

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