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A Pennsylvania appeals court on Wednesday overturned rapper Meek Mill’s conviction in a drug and gun case that has kept the rapper on probation for a decade and made him a celebrity crusader for criminal justice reform.

The unanimous three-judge panel said that new evidence that undermines the credibility of the officer who testified against the rapper at his trial made it likely he would be acquitted if the case were retried.

City prosecutors have backed the defense bid for a new trial and confirmed they do not trust the officer, who has since left the force and was the only prosecution witness at the 2008 nonjury trial. Still, District Attorney Larry Krasner said Wednesday his office needs time to decide whether to drop the case.

The 32-year-old performer, born Robert Rihmeek Williams, is now free of the court supervision he’s been under most of his adult life. Williams has said he had trouble notifying probation officers about his travels as required because of the erratic nature of the music industry. A little more than a year ago, he spent five months in prison over technical violations of his parole.

“The past 11 years have been mentally and emotionally challenging, but I’m ecstatic that justice prevailed,” Williams said in a statement. “Unfortunately, millions of people are dealing with similar issues in our country and don’t have the resources to fight back like I did. We need to continue supporting them.”

Reginald Graham, the officer who wrote the search warrant in Williams’ case and testified at his trial, left the Philadelphia Police department a few years ago after an internal probe found he had stolen money and then lied about it.

Graham testified at trial that Williams pointed a gun at him during his 2007 arrest outside his southwest Philadelphia home. Williams, who was 19 at the time, has denied pointing a gun at police.


The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday upheld the convictions and death sentence of a man who killed four people in Omaha, seemingly at random, shortly after his release from prison in 2013.

Nikko Jenkins pleaded no contest in 2014 to four counts of first-degree murder and multiple weapons counts for three separate, deadly attacks around Omaha. He was sentenced to death  in 2017 after years of delays over concerns regarding his mental health. The high court’s opinion addressed combined direct appeals on Jenkins’ behalf.

Among the arguments Jenkins’ attorneys made is that the trial court abused its discretion in accepting his no-contest pleas in a death penalty case. In a no-contest plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but concedes there is enough evidence for a conviction. The plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.

The Douglas County Public Defender office also argued that the court was wrong to allow Jenkins to represent himself and that, because it believes Jenkins is mentally ill, sentencing him to death violated the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.


Johnny Gibbs has been trying to get a valid driver’s license for 20 years, but he just can’t afford it.

To punish him for high school truancy in 1999, Tennessee officials told him he would not be able to legally drive until he turned 21. He drove anyway, incurring two tickets and racking up more than $1,000 in fines and fees.

Like other low-income defendants in similar situations across the country, Gibbs couldn’t pay and ended up serving jail time and probation. That incurred another cost: a monthly supervision fee to a private probation company.

Rather than risk another arrest, Gibbs, now 38, decided to quit driving, which he said makes it nearly impossible to work. He said he spent several years living in a motel room with his mother, his disabled father and his sister before they all became homeless. In August, the family found housing in a dilapidated trailer, miles from the nearest town or food source.

A growing number of legal groups and nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. are challenging these practices, but they continue — despite a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court decision that found it unconstitutional to incarcerate defendants too poor to pay fines.

In Oklahoma, for example, the Washington-based Civil Rights Corps, which has litigated more than 20 lawsuits since it was founded in 2016 to undo various aspects of “user-funded justice,” is challenging policies that it claims have led to one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

Counties across the state of Oklahoma refer debt collection to a for-profit company, Aberdeen Enterprizes II, which adds an additional 30 percent fee and threatens debtors with arrest. Many of those who can’t pay are not just thrown in jail; they’re also made to pay for their incarceration, further increasing their debt.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Bivens said reforming fees, fines and bail is a priority of the Conference of Chief Justices, a nonprofit organization comprising top judicial officials from each of the 50 states.


Two students suspected of opening fire at their school are charged with over a dozen counts of murder and attempted murder as well as theft and arson, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The charges came on the same day a memorial service was being held for the one student who was killed in the May 7 shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch on May 7. Wight students were injured.

The accused gunmen, 18-year-old Devon Erickson and 16-year-old Alec McKinney, were arrested at the school and investigators say they opened fire inside using handguns.

The charges were listed in electronic court records. It wasn't clear if McKinney was being charged as an adult.

The celebration of 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo's life will be held at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch. The senior was just days from graduating when he was fatally wounded.

Castillo along with classmates Brendan Bialy and Joshua Jones are credited with helping minimize the bloodshed by charging at one of the suspects in a classroom.

According to Bialy, Castillo sprang into action against the shooter "and immediately was on top of him with complete disregard for his own safety." Jones said he was shot twice in the leg during the ordeal. Bialy said he was able to take the attacker's weapon.

All the injured students have been released from hospitals.


An Illinois mother and father charged with murder in the death of their 5-year-old son are due in court for preliminary hearings in the case.

Court records show 36-year-old JoAnn Cunningham and 60-year-old Andrew Freund Sr. of Crystal Lake are scheduled for Friday morning preliminary hearings in McHenry County court. Both face murder charges in Andrew "AJ" Freund's beating death last month. Police found AJ's body in a shallow grave covered with straw April 24, nine days after authorities say he died and a week after his parents reported him missing.

Public defenders represent both parents. Freund's court-appointed attorney on Tuesday asked for a psychological evaluation of his client.

According to an affidavit, the parents forced AJ to take a cold shower before he died as punishment for lying about soiling his underwear.


A man accused of killing the mother of his child in Milwaukee is due in court. WITI-TV reports that 34-year-old Dariaz Higgins has a preliminary hearing scheduled Monday.

Higgins is accused of fatally shooting 24-year-old Sierra Robinson and wounding another woman earlier this month. He faces several charges including first-degree intentional homicide.

The body of Higgins' 2-year-old daughter, Noelani Robinson, was found in a ditch in Minnesota four days after Higgins was arrested on March 13. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the child died from head trauma. Her death remains under investigation.

Funeral services were held Saturday for Sierra and Noelani Robinson in Kansas City, Missouri, where Sierra's father lives.


A South Dakota man accused of killing his girlfriend and dumping her dismembered body into a river in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has made his first court appearance.

Stephen Falkenberg appeared Thursday in Yankton County court. He's charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tamara LaFramboise.

No plea was entered. His attorney, Clint Sargent, says he intends to plead not guilty.

Prosecutors say Falkenberg killed LaFramboise in Yankton, where they both lived, then drove to Menominee County, Michigan, where he grew up. Authorities say he discarded LaFramboise's dismembered body in the Little River, where two boys found it on Saturday.

LaFramboise's head, hands and feet have not been found. A probable cause affidavit says Falkenberg told his sister he argued with LaFramboise, pushed her and she hit her head and died.


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