News Column

Zimmerman Wanted Bulletproof Vests

June 19, 2012

Melanie Eversley with staff and wire reports

The former Florida neighborhood watch volunteer accused of killing unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in February told his wife to buy bulletproof vests for them and for his lawyer, according to jailhouse calls released Monday.

"As uncomfortable as it is, I want you wearing one," George Zimmerman told his wife, Shellie.

The calls released by prosecutors detail how he instructed his wife to transfer money from bank accounts. The calls could play a role in Zimmerman's second bond hearing next week.

The judge in the case revoked Zimmerman's initial $150,000 bond and ruled the couple had deceived the court. Zimmerman has been back in jail for almost a month.

Prosecutors used the calls to try to show that the Zimmermans knew $135,000 had been raised for his defense. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and claims self-defense.

Man in webcam case won't be deported

A former Rutgers University student convicted of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate will not be deported to his native India, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement spokesman Ross Feinstein said.

Dharun Ravi, 20, is due to be released today from a New Jersey jail after serving 20 days of a 30-day sentence. Ravi was convicted of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and other criminal counts for using a webcam to see his roommate, Tyler Clementi, kissing another man in September 2010. Days later, Clementi leaped to his death off the George Washington Bridge.

Foreign citizens convicted of crimes in the Untied States can face deportation. Ravi lived in India until he was 5 and remains an Indian citizen, though he is in the USA legally.

U.S. sues to return dinosaur to Mongolia

The fossil of a dinosaur that roamed the earth 70 million years ago should be turned over to the United States by an auction house so it can be returned to its home in Mongolia, according to a lawsuit the U.S. government filed in New York.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the nearly complete Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton was imported from Great Britain to Gainesville, Fla., in 2010 with erroneous claims that it was worth only $15,000. It sold at auction May 20 for more than $1million. The sale was contingent upon the outcome of any court proceedings. The lawsuit did not identify the buyer.

Jim Halperin, co-founder of the The Heritage Auctions, a defendant in the lawsuit, said he believes the seller was acting in good faith.

Companion of disappeared woman sues

A Maryland man who was suspected in the presumed death of his traveling companion in Aruba is suing to collect on a travel insurance policy issued in the woman's name.

Gary Giordano, 51, said in a lawsuit that AMEX Assurance is required to pay him $3.5million under a policy purchased before the trip. He said in the suit that his companion, Robyn Gardner, is presumed dead after her disappearance Aug. 2.

Giordano was held for months in an Aruban jail on suspicion of being involved in Gardner's disappearance but was released in November after a judge said there wasn't enough evidence.

American Express spokeswoman Gail Wasserman declined to discuss specifics of the case but said policyholders generally must wait one year before filing a claim if a person is presumed dead but a body has not been located.

Giffords attends commencement

With his wife, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, watching and cheering nearby, retired astronaut Mark Kelly exhorted graduates at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to a life of public service, encouraging them to persevere when faced with unexpected challenges.

Giffords didn't speak during the commencement but sang the National Anthem. The Arizona Democrat was shot in an assassination attempt that left six dead outside a Tucson shopping center 18 months ago.

Kelly, a 1986 graduate of the academy in Kings Point, N.Y., spoke of his wife's recovery and sought to use it as inspiration for the graduates.

"She reminds me each and every day to deny the acceptance of failure," he said.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012

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