He wrote that he never wanted his mother to have to bury a son. Then he was killed by police.

He wrote that he never wanted his mother to have to bury a son. Then he was killed by police.

(CNN) - "I see mothers bury their sons. I want my mom to never feel that pain."

Two years ago, Antwon Rose wrote those prescient lines in a poem for his 10th grade honors English class. He titled it, "I am not what you think."

He refused to be "just a statistic," the African-American teenager wrote.

On Tuesday, an East Pittsburgh police officer fatally shot the unarmed 17-year-old, who ran as police stopped a vehicle suspected of being involved in a shooting in a nearby community, the Allegheny County Police said. The officer was placed on administrative leave as the department investigates, police said.

In a few days, Antwon's mother will bury him.

His family released the poem Thursday through the Woodland Hills School District, where he attended school.

Antwon's mother wanted the world to read the poem her son wrote. He wrote about being "confused and afraid," wondering about the path he would take in life. The poem was read aloud at a rally Thursday in front of the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh.

"I understand people believe I'm just a statistic," Antwon wrote. "I say to them I'm different."

He dreamed, he wrote, "of life getting easier."

Police kill an unarmed teen running from a car that was linked to an earlier shooting

Police kill an unarmed teen running from a car that was linked to an earlier shooting

(CNN) - Hours after being sworn in on the local force, a suburban Pittsburgh officer fatally shot an unarmed 17-year-old who ran when police stopped a vehicle that was suspected to be involved in an earlier shooting, authorities said.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office and a family attorney identified the victim as Antwon Rose II of Rankin. Antwon, an African-American, died at a hospital. He had been a passenger in the car, which authorities suspected of being involved in a shooting earlier Tuesday in a nearby community, Allegheny County police said Wednesday.

Protesters on Wednesday converged on East Pittsburgh, the borough southeast of Pittsburgh where the shooting occurred.

Sometime before 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, someone fired nine .40-caliber rounds at a 22-year-old in North Braddock borough, Allegheny County police said. The victim, who returned fire, was struck and taken to a hospital. He was treated and released.

Witnesses, including one who flagged down a police officer, described the vehicle in the shooting. Thirteen minutes later, an East Pittsburgh officer saw a silver Chevy Cruze, which matched the vehicle's description, police said. The officer stopped the car around 8:40 p.m.

The officer ordered the driver out of the car and onto the ground, police said. Antwon and another passenger "bolted" from the vehicle, and the East Pittsburgh officer opened fire, striking Antwon, Allegheny County police said.

Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said Thursday it appears the East Pittsburgh officer "disregarded the basic humanity of this boy."

"Fleeing from a scene does not give law enforcement the right to indiscriminately shoot young boys or anyone. No one, especially children, should ever fear death at the hands of police. Lethal force should be an absolute last resort, not a first option," his statement said.

In a news conference, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said the shooting could be justified if the officer thought there was an imminent threat of death -- to the officer or others -- or if the fleeing suspect posed a threat. But, he said, the district attorney will ultimately decide if it was a justified use of force.

The officers involved weren't wearing bodycams, he said.

'All they did was run'

A witness to the shooting captured it on video that was posted on Facebook.

In the video, a police SUV is seen stopped in the middle of the street as another police car pulls up behind it. Two people are seen running from the Chevy Cruze. Within seconds three shots ring out. The runners appear to drop to the ground.

The woman recording the video says, "Why are they shooting at him?"

"All they did was run and they're shooting at them," the woman said.

The 20-year-old driver of the vehicle was later released, police said. Authorities are still searching for the other passenger.

Antwon was unarmed, McDonough told reporters. Two semiautomatic firearms were recovered from the floor of the vehicle, he said.

McDonough said he was "very confident" the car carrying Antwon was the one involved in the shooting, pointing to "ballistic damage to the rear window."

Based on witness statements, McDonough said, he believes officers gave Antwon verbal commands, but he didn't know the specific command.

Police: Officer fired 3 times, victim struck 3 times

The East Pittsburgh officer fired three times, hitting Antwon three times in various parts of his body, McDonough said.

Allegheny County officials on Thursday identified the officer as Michael Rosfeld, according to an email from the county's director of communications, Amie Downs. CNN has attempted to reach Rosfeld numerous times, but has not been successful.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave, police said. McDonough said on Wednesday that he had not been interviewed.

Asked if the officer is white, McDonough said, "I don't understand what that has to do with the situation."

The officer had worked with other local departments for seven years, CNN affiliate WPXI reported. He had been sworn in that day on the East Pittsburgh police force, Mayor Louis Payne told the station.

Family attorney S. Lee Merritt said Antwon "posed no immediate threat to anyone" because he wasn't armed.

"These facts, without more, simply leave very little room to justify the use of deadly force by this officer," he said in a statement.

East Pittsburgh Police Chief Lori Fruncek, who leads a force of eight patrol officers, couldn't be reached Wednesday.

McDonough said he understands that "in today's atmosphere, any time a young man is killed, there's cause for outrage ... in some areas." He asked for patience with the investigation.

"Some of the initial postings on social media that came out directly after this incident were inaccurate and inflammatory," he said. "I would urge that people in the community give us a chance to conduct an objective investigation."

In a joint statement, Payne, East Pittsburgh police and council, said they were saddened by Antwon's death.

"This is a very stressful time for our community. We are seeking truth and answers but the process takes time. We hope that everyone can respect this process. We will get through this together as a community," the statement said.

'He had this million-dollar smile'

During the Wednesday protest on a rainy evening in East Pittsburgh, people shouted, "Justice now!"

The Woodland Hills School District confirmed Antwon had attended Woodland Hills High School.

"From all accounts, he was a generous, hard-working and highly promising student," Merritt said. Assistant Superintendent Licia Lentz of the school district said Antwon was "a very bright young man" who took advanced placement classes.

"He had this million-dollar smile," she said. "He was gifted and teachers were really trying to mentor him."

Gisele Barreto Fetterman, who owns the Free Store in nearby Braddock, where her husband is mayor, said Antwon volunteered at the shop during the summer of 2015 and regularly came back on Saturdays. She described him as an attentive, mature young man with "such great energy."

The store provides food, toys, clothes, backpacks and other items to members of the community, and Antwon would offer to entertain kids while their parents picked up what they needed, she said.

"He was just a really great kid. He had these really intense, big eyes. He was very smiley, very goofy," Fetterman said.

Antwon also worked at a gym where Fetterman's children took gymnastics classes, she said.

"I just expected he would always pop in and update us on what's going on. I think about how his life was cut short and all the things we won't see him do and all of the dreams we will never see him achieve and it's a really sad day," she said.

New York facility tries to ease immigrant kids' anxiety while separated from parents

New York facility tries to ease immigrant kids' anxiety while separated from parents

DOBB'S FERRY, New York (CNN) - Twenty children who had been separated from their parents after crossing the US-Mexico border recently arrived at a foster care facility just outside New York City -- an ... Continue Reading
The Facebook campaign reuniting immigrant families won't stop -- despite Trump's policy reversal

The Facebook campaign reuniting immigrant families won't stop -- despite Trump's policy reversal

(CNN) - A California couple who started a Facebook campaign to reunite immigrant families will not stop raising money -- despite President Donald Trump's recent reversal on separating families that cross the US border.

Dave and Charlotte Willner have raised over $17 million from more than 460,000 donors since they started the campaign Saturday. The money goes to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES.

"This is a reminder of the power we have when we all stand together against injustice and now RAICES' work becomes more important than ever. However, a change in policy doesn't automatically reunite these innocent children with their families or erase the trauma our government inflicted. These families will need legal representation, counseling and other crucial services that RAICES will be able to provide to more people and at a greater and faster scale than ever before because of these funds," said the Willners in a statement.

They've already reunited families

RAICES will use the money to help reunite families and provide legal services, as well as to start a joint reunification fund. This fund will allow them to work with other local organizations to make sure the donations reach as many people as possible.

The organization has already reunited families and provided funds for fathers to call their kids in detention centers. They're also hiring more lawyers.

"Make no mistake that the administration is changing course because people spoke out," the fundraiser's Facebook page said.

"You spoke out. You showed that you're not okay with this, that none of this okay, and that you won't stand for it."

The Willners began their campaign, "Reunite an immigrant parent with their child," after seeing a viral photo of a 2-year-old girl crying, looking up at adults around her after crossing the border.

The girl, her mother and others had rafted across the Rio Grande, and they were stopped in Texas by US Border Patrol Agents. The initial aim was to raise $1,500, but a flood of public support caused them to raise that goal. They now hope to raise $20 million, according to the fundraiser's Facebook page.

"What started out as a hope to help one person get reunited with their family has turned into a movement that will help countless people," the Willners said.

The couple encourages people to donate to other organizations that help reunite immigrant parents with their children as well.

After she was separated from her daughter, the child's cries were heard across the country

After she was separated from her daughter, the child's cries were heard across the country

LOS FRESNOS, Texas (CNN) - "Can you play it?" Cindy Madrid asked. In the audio recording, children can be heard sobbing desperately after being separated from their parents at the border -- and among them is Madrid's six-year-old daughter.

She had heard part of it on the news, after investigative nonprofit ProPublica obtained it and published it online. "I want to hear the whole thing," she said.

Children wail inconsolably. The words "Mami" and "Papá" are heard over and over again. They are cries no parent should ever have to hear.

"We have an orchestra here," a man says in the recording. "What's missing is a conductor."

"It's sad they would say that about a suffering child," Madrid told CNN Thursday in a phone interview from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Port Isabel detention center in Texas.

"I'm grateful, though," she said. "No one would know what the children are going through if not for the audio."

Then she heard the only voice she recognized. It's her daughter Alisson, whom Madrid last saw 10 days ago at a Texas detention center. An immigration official called out the girl's name and took her away without explanation.

Alisson can be heard begging for someone to call her aunt. With ease, she recites the phone number -- which her mother said she memorized during the 17-day journey from their native El Salvador to the US border.

"Mommy says I'll go with my aunt and that she'll come to pick me up as quickly as possible," Alisson said.

As painful as it was to hear Alisson's pleas, Madrid said she found solace in knowing the audio recording exposed the childrens' anguished cries to the world.

"It's so sad to listen to so many children," she said. "So many children who had never been separated from their moms. What is happening is so unfair."

At the Port Isabel detention center, Madrid shares a large room with nearly 40 other mothers who have also been separated from their children by immigration authorities.

"There are many more rooms full of women going through the same thing," she said. "The majority are from Honduras. Four of us from El Salvador."

As Madrid spoke Thursday afternoon, first lady Melania Trump made an unannounced and hastily planned trip to a children's shelter in McAllen, Texas, to get what the White House described as a firsthand look at the migrant crisis.

"As a mother she must understand," she said when told of the official visit. "Perhaps she has never been separated from her children, but she should understand that a mother will do anything for her children."

Her daughter is only one of the 2,300 children already taken from parents awaiting prosecution as part of the Trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy. On Wednesday, the President appeared to cave to political pressure on the issue by signing an executive order intended to keep more families together at the border. The order didn't say anything about whether the 2,300 children already separated from their families would be reunited with them.

The government initially said those families would remain apart; officials later said that the families would be reunited, but there is little clarity as to how.

"It's maddening because at every moment I ask myself, 'How is she? Has she eaten? Are they taking care of her? Do they shower her?'" Madrid said.

When the news of the order appeared on the detention center televisions Wednesday, the dormitories erupted with applause.

"All the women were thanking God," she said. "There were tears of joy from the hope that we can soon be with our children again."

But Madrid said the mothers have received little information about how they might be reunited with their kids.

"They told us that based on the order the President signed we would be reunited with our children, but that we needed to have patience because there was a lot of paperwork for the children and they needed find an adequate place to be with them," she said.

There isn't much for the detained mothers to do except to yearn for a glimpse of their children. They watch television, including news reports about their plight. They sleep, pray or sit around chatting. Few know anything about where their children are or how they're doing, Madrid said. She has made numerous calls to the shelter housing Alisson.

"No one answers," she said. "I have lost count of how many calls."

Looking back, Madrid said she never would have made the journey from El Salvador to the US-Mexico border if she knew this would happen. She wanted to offer her daughter something more than the poverty and violence of her homeland, where Alisson was once nearly taken from her arms during a kidnapping attempt at a market.

On May 25, they left for the border, she said. The usually perilous trip was mostly uneventful. That is, until they crossed the Rio Grande into the United States at the Mexican border city of Reynosa on June 11. Within minutes, they were in federal custody.

Madrid recalled spending the day with Alisson in la hielera -- the Spanish word for "freezer" that migrants and guards use to describe the frigid government holding cells. They covered themselves with Mylar blankets in a room with a concrete bench. They were fed a piece of bread with a slice of ham.

About 8 hours after their arrival in the United States, Madrid said, she heard an immigration official call out her daughter's name. Alisson was taken away. Madrid asked why. There was no explanation.

The next time Madrid heard Alisson's voice was on the audio recording of the weeping children at the migrant shelter.

"God put an angel in her path to record that audio," she said. "That started everything. That person will be blessed more than any of us. My daughter helped bring positive change for the mothers. ... She stood up for all of us."

Foster mother describes trauma of kids separated from parents at the border

Foster mother describes trauma of kids separated from parents at the border

(CNN) - The screams were guttural. Terrified. Inconsolable. Different from those the family was used to hearing from the dozens of foster children that, for a short while, had become part of their lives for the past five years.

Two-year-old Nicole couldn't stop crying and would only repeat two words in Spanish over and over again: "mama" and "grandma."

"This one was different. The overall sheer terror of the screaming was different," foster mother Michelle said. "It was pretty horrific"

The little girl with big brown eyes and floppy curls had come from El Salvador with her mother. They had been separated by US authorities sometime after crossing the US border with Mexico.

Suddenly, Nicole found herself being sent hundreds of miles away to a stranger's home in a strange place called Michigan. She is one of the more than 2,300 children who were caught up in the Trump administration's "zero tolerance policy" toward undocumented immigrants. The policy effectively forced immigration authorities to separate children -- even babies -- from their parents.

CNN is only identifying the children and their foster mom by one name for privacy and security concerns.

When the family initially met Nicole, she was "shell shocked." But the next day the fear welled up inside the child and erupted whenever her foster mom left her side. Even if she moved just a couple of feet away.

'One of the most traumatized'

"She was one of the most traumatized." Michelle said. "We pretty much couldn't do anything without holding her. It was intense screaming and crying, more of a terror screaming. Very freaked out that I wasn't going to come back."

The little girl was afraid of losing everything all over again, Michelle said. Just like she has done dozens of times before, Michelle began to form a bond with the child. So did the three US-born children Michelle and her husband adopted.

Nicole began to relax into her new but temporary family life. If she was held just right, in a certain position, her tense little body would unfold and she'd become a typical cuddly toddler.

She kept calling Michelle "Leyla" -- which the family figured out was actually abuela, the word for grandmother in Spanish. Then Nicole began to mimic and pick up words. The family discovered Nicole loved being in the water. The toddler would completely calm down when they took a dip together.

But the trauma was always present.

The first time Nicole's mom called, foster mom Michelle wished she wasn't there listening. "I could have lived a lifetime without hearing this," Michelle said, her voice cracking with emotion. As soon as the mother and toddler were connected, Nicole's mom was "uncontrollably sobbing and crying. She was just saying 'I love you, I love you.'"

But Nicole shut down. She couldn't face her mother's sorrow. She looked away in silence. Still, her mother kept trying to make sure her toddler knew that she wanted her back desperately. "That was horrible for me as a parent to hear," Michelle said, her voice shaking with emotion.

Family bonds broken

Michelle and her husband have been foster parents for five years. She was a teacher who decided her calling was to take care of children in a different way. The family began taking part in the foster care system with children from the United States. They adopted three children who are now 18, 15, and 11.

Just when they were about to walk away from the foster care system, they got a call. "It was a blessing." It was Bethany Christian Services asking if they would like to begin fostering refugees and immigrant children.

They now know the drill well. The phone rings. Someone from Bethany Christian Services is calling. The organization helps provide for foster children, including matching them with families.

The voice on the other end of the phone asks, "Will you take a child?" The age of the child is given. And the child's expected arrival time. Usually you only have 24 hours' notice. For Michelle and her family, the answer is almost always "yes."

Five years, 107 children

"Sometimes they come in with no way to contact their family. Other times they have little pieces of paper with numbers and names written on them so that they can make contact. The papers are sometimes tucked away in their shoes," Michelle said.

In five years, Michelle and her husband have fostered 107 children, 13 from the United States, the rest from other countries. Each time, the children react differently to their new surroundings and their temporary home.

But some things stay the same: they all need comfort, love, and assurance that everything is going to be alright. In the past few months they have noticed a change in the level of the children's trauma.

"I have to tell the children, whenever I have to go somewhere and drop them off, that I will be back. I have to reassure them," Michelle said.

In past years it was very rare to foster very young children, Michelle said. But a few months ago the ages of the foster children dropped, and their trauma seemed far more acute. There was 2-year-old Nicole, and 4-year-old Mauricio, and 3-year-old Paula. All showed up at the border with parents but were separated from them.

Forming ties that must be broken

When 3-year-old Paula arrived, she didn't seem to speak English or Spanish. She spoke an indigenous language. No one in the house could understand her, except that she would cry out for her mother all the time.

She also wasn't eating much at all, Michelle said. With the help of a translator Michelle figured out Paula was still being breast fed.

"We communicated by pointing for a while," Michelle said. "She would just stare out of the window and want to go outside all the time. She thought if she was outside her mother could find her more easily."

But when fluent Spanish speakers would come into the foster home, suddenly the little girl would light up. "She would immediately go to them and start talking. 'They take me from mom, please take me back to my mom.' She would cling to them. When she realized that they weren't going to take her, she would come back to me and go quiet."

Eventually Paula was reunited with a parent.

Praise and judgment

Then there was 4-year-old Mauricio. He handled things differently. He was a ball of fun and energy when they first picked him up.

"He had a huge personality. It was like a party waiting to happen the minute we picked him up," Michelle said. But as the weeks went by and his mom still wasn't around, things changed.

"He was like 'okay I am done, I am ready to go with my mom now.' The behavior was starting to change when he realized this was not a summer vacation."

The little boy began having outbursts, like every single child who's hurting and confused and scared. Mauricio was extremely resilient, though -- and he was eventually reunited with family.

When Michelle and her husband first started fostering children, the local community reacted with praise and kindness. But as the political climate has changed, so have the comments. Not from everyone, but enough that it stings.

"We will get comments that 'you should be taking care of American kids.' Kids that are here already. That is true," Michelle said. And they have. But the comments don't stop there.

"They will start rattling off stuff on their opinion on Trump or the wall or their opinion on illegal immigrants," she said. "Or they comment that the kids should be learning English."

Michelle has decided to be more selective about who she tells now. She wants to protect the children and her own emotional well-being.

She is careful about what she reads and how much news she watches. In the end, she says she has to be emotionally and physically present for the kids, and for her family that is an ever-changing kaleidoscope of cultures, languages, and most of all, love. That is her mission. Everything else can be pushed aside.

'These are children'

"Our faith plays a huge role in what we have been doing from the beginning," Michelle said. But she has a message for those who try to talk to her foster children harshly.

"No matter how you feel about immigration, these are children," she said. "Keep your adult comments to yourself."

Michelle still believes deeply in what she is doing. She has a booklet that the family keeps with the names and something special about each child she has fostered. It gives her peace and joy to look at it sometimes.

She believes in her mission, her Christian faith, and the power of love for children who are caught in the middle of a political fight. Her latest arrival is a 5-year-old boy who came in just a day ago. She still doesn't know his whole story. A typical stay is a couple of months, sometimes shorter. One child has been at the home for a year and is in school.

Michelle has had to say goodbye to dozens of children she has come to care so much about -- including Nicole. She rejoices that families are reuniting. But it isn't easy to see a child traumatized one more time before they are back with their loved ones.

When she handed Nicole over, she felt a flash of fresh pain go through her heart. All the fear flooded back into the toddler's body. All the trust vanished when she realized she was being left -- again.

Handcuffs, assaults, and drugs called 'vitamins': Children allege grave abuse at migrant detention facilities

Handcuffs, assaults, and drugs called 'vitamins': Children allege grave abuse at migrant detention facilities

(CNN) - A year before the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy resulted in more than 2,300 children being separated from their families at the border in a mere five-week period, a ninth-gra ... Continue Reading
Prosecutor to jurors: 'You will hear a crime scene scream of what happened to Timothy Coggins'

Prosecutor to jurors: 'You will hear a crime scene scream of what happened to Timothy Coggins'

GRIFFIN, Georgia (CNN) - As the trial began Wednesday for one of the men accused of viciously murdering Timothy Coggins in 1983, Coggins' niece said it was a bittersweet day.

"Sweet that we're finally here, 35 years later, but bitter that my grandparents aren't here to see it," Heather Coggins said.

Heather Coggins' grandmother -- Timothy's mom -- died in 2016, but even on her deathbed, Heather previously told CNN, her grandmother "knew that this day would one day come."

Coggins watched as lawyers made opening statements in the trial of Frankie Gebhardt, 60, who is charged with felony murder, aggravated assault and concealing a death in the October 1983 slaying. Another defendant, Gebhardt's brother-in-law, Bill Moore Sr., faces the same charges but will be tried separately. Both men are in jail without bond.

Gebhardt's trial is expected to last about a week. Moore's trial could begin later this summer.

Three other people -- one a former corrections officer and another a part-time Milner police officer -- are charged with obstruction for their efforts to derail the investigation after it was reopened in March 2017, Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix said when the five were arrested in October.

As with many cold cases, evidence has gone missing, which defense lawyers say will be key to Gebhardt's defense. And while prosecutors acknowledge some witnesses' memories are spotty, the defense team intends to paint them as a rogue's gallery whose credibility is suspect.

The trial was plagued by jury problems from the start. Superior Court Judge Fletcher Sams sent deputies to find some of the almost 200 jurors -- well more than half the jury pool -- who didn't show up for jury selection Monday. On Wednesday, Sams jailed a sequestered witness -- a relative of Gebhardt's -- for 20 days after learning she was watching a livestream of opening statements outside the courtroom.

Gebhardt and Moore are accused of slicing and stabbing Timothy Coggins and tying him with a logging chain to the back of a truck before dragging him up and down a field off a rural road in nearby Sunny Side, a town about 30 miles south of Atlanta. Prosecutors say the men killed Coggins, who was 23, because he'd been socializing with a white woman, Gebhardt's "old lady" at the time.

The prosecution's case

Chief Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder admitted to the jury there will be problems with the case. In 1983, DNA fingerprinting was not yet an investigative technique and crime scene investigations weren't what they are today.

Plus, she said, the original investigation -- conducted during an era in which residents say the Ku Klux Klan held rallies and parades in Spalding County -- was "horrific, shameful, incomplete" and closed too quickly, just weeks after the murder. She conceded that half of the evidence from the crime scene is now gone.

Witness testimony and physical and circumstantial evidence, however, will point to Gebhardt, who Broder said repeatedly boasted about killing Coggins -- though never by Coggins' name, only by "the n-word."

"Sometimes these crime scenes whisper about what happened. ... Sometimes the crime scene screams," Broder said. "You will hear a crime scene scream of what happened to Timothy Coggins back in October 1983. Listen. Listen to it."

Gebhardt wanted to send a message to the black community in Griffin, she said.

"Rage fueled this murder. Anger fueled the mutilation of Timothy Coggins' body," she said, adding of the defendant, "Rage against African-Americans still exists in his heart."

The defense's case

Defense attorney Scott Johnston seized on the emotion Broder invoked, telling jurors that prosecutors want them to decide the case on their feelings rather than facts.

"The state wants you mad. The state wants you angry. The state wants you in a hurry. They want you to rush through," he said, adding that 35 years ago, the state didn't care about Coggins' death. "Just another dead black man in 1983."

The missing evidence will be key to proving Gebhardt's innocence, Johnston said. Included are shell casings, plaster casts of tire impressions, soil samples containing blood, Coggins' blood-stained sweater, hair samples, a homemade club, an empty Jack Daniels bottle and a $1 bill with red stains that was recovered from a store the day after the murder, he said.

"Where's that head hair? We don't know. State doesn't know," Johnston said. "(Authorities) picked up all the evidence. They tested some of it. Now, it's lost to us."

Johnston also said that, despite Broder's assertion that DNA fingerprinting didn't exist in 1983, prosecutors today have a DNA profile, taken from blood on Coggins' jeans. It doesn't match Gebhardt, the attorney said.

Following opening statements, prosecutors called former GBI medical examiner Warren Tillman, who testified that Coggins suffered about 30 lacerations, incisions, abrasions and stab wounds, including three that punctured his lungs.

Another witness, Jesse Gates, testified that he dropped off Coggins the night of the murder at a black club in Griffin and found it curious there were three white men outside. En route to the club, Gates said, Coggins began discussing "this Caucasian girl." Because of the racial climate in Griffin, Gates was concerned and told Coggins he needed to go to Atlanta if he wanted to date a white woman.

"I said, 'Now Tim, if I told you once, I told you twice, you need to be careful about dating Caucasian women in Griffin,' and he said, 'Mr. Jesse, you're just old-fashioned,'" Gates testified.

As for some of the other witnesses slated to testify for the prosecution, Johnston said one failed to report Gebhardt's alleged involvement in the murder for years until he was imprisoned for child molestation. Johnston described other witnesses as "jailhouse informants."

"What was done to that man was terrible, but what you're here to decide today is not if it's terrible. It's who did it," Johnston said.

The murder weapon

The defense also sought to cast doubt on another likely pillar of the prosecution's case: the murder weapon.

At a probable cause hearing in November, Jared Coleman, a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said a witness claimed Gebhardt told him he threw the knife used to kill Coggins in a well on his property. Investigators had not excavated the well because it would compromise the integrity of Gebhardt's home, Coleman said at the hearing.

Gebhardt's family members took two CNN reporters to the well after the hearing. It sat directly behind Gebhardt's one-story home with sky-blue siding. The well was housed in a shed between a woodpile and an empty hot tub. A small donkey stood in a pen nearby. The shed's doors were bound with a small chain.

Johnston said investigators have dug up the well since Coleman testified in November, and they found a knife, which he expects to presented as evidence, he said.

He described it as a "tiny piece of Japanese steak knife," but he said Gebhardt had been filling the well with trash, "20 years worth."

Migrant children are being sent to shelters across the country and far away from their parents

Migrant children are being sent to shelters across the country and far away from their parents

(CNN) - Hundreds of migrant children forcibly separated from their parents were transferred thousands of miles away from the border and some already have been placed in foster care, officials said. ... Continue Reading
5 things for June 21: Immigration, trade, Disney vs. Comcast, 'white rights' rally

5 things for June 21: Immigration, trade, Disney vs. Comcast, 'white rights' rally

(CNN) - We all know it's the first day of summer, but did you know it's also International Yoga Day? This elite police force in India knows just how to celebrate. Here's what else you need to know to ... Continue Reading
Crowd gathers at LaGuardia Airport to support children believed to be separated from families

Crowd gathers at LaGuardia Airport to support children believed to be separated from families

(CNN) - Dozens gathered Wednesday night at LaGuardia Airport to support separated immigrant children. Activists urged supporters via social media to come witness the arrival of children, whom they ... Continue Reading
ICE shuts down Portland office as protesters camp outside waiting for children to be reunited with families

ICE shuts down Portland office as protesters camp outside waiting for children to be reunited with families

(CNN) - US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has temporarily closed its field office in Portland, Oregon, as protests continue growing outside the facility.Dozens of people began protesting agai ... Continue Reading
Man who blocked traffic on Hoover Dam bridge wanted release of government report

Man who blocked traffic on Hoover Dam bridge wanted release of government report

(CNN) - The armed man who for more than an hour blocked a highway near the Hoover Dam with an armored truck and held a sign that said "Release the OIG report" is in an Arizona jail accused of several felonies, police said Saturday.

Matthew Phillip Wright, 30, of Henderson, Nevada, is accused of terrorist acts, unlawful flight from law enforcement, carrying a weapon in the commission of a felony and misconduct involving weapons. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of blocking a highway.

"Release the OIG report" apparently refers to the US Justice Department's internal watchdog report on the department's handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. The 568-page report was released this week, leaving Wright's message unclear.

Police said Wright had a rifle and handgun when he was taken into custody following a pursuit.

Authorities were called to the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge over the Colorado River just after noon on Friday when Wright allegedly parked across the southbound lanes. Both sides of US 93 were shut down for about 90 minutes.

At about 1 p.m. PT, Wright slowly drove into Arizona, running over spike strips about 5 miles in. Less than 4 miles later he turned down a dirt road and eventually stopped. The pursuit last about 35 minutes, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.

According to online jail records, Wright is being held without bail in the Mohave County Jail. It is unclear whether he has an attorney. Online records do not list one.

The Hoover Dam and the bridge are on the border between Arizona and Nevada.

Kilauea volcano destroys 467 Hawaiian homes, officials say

Kilauea volcano destroys 467 Hawaiian homes, officials say

(CNN) - Lava from the Kilauea volcano, which erupted more than a month ago, now covers 5,914 acres, or 9.24 square miles, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said Saturday.Lava has also destroy ... Continue Reading


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