Nation and world news briefs

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Detroit’s violent crime leads the nation

DETROIT — Detroit’s violent crime rate led the nation among big cities in 2019, despite the city’s numbers dropping.

Last year, 13,040 violent crimes were reported to police — murder, rape, assault and robbery — in Detroit compared with 13,478 in 2018, a 3% drop, according to the FBI’s Crime in the United States report released Monday morning. It occurred as violent crime nationwide dropped 0.5% last year.

But Detroit’s rate of 1,965 violent crimes per 100,000 people placed it highest among cities with more than 100,000 residents, followed by St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and Baltimore, Maryland.

Police chief James Craig attributed the high violent crime rate largely to two factors: More illegal guns on the street and people not knowing how to handle disputes.

And, Craig said, things have gotten worse on both fronts this year; as of Monday homicides were up 23% over the same period in 2019, while nonfatal shootings were up 50%. All crime is down 12%, driven by a 23% drop in property crimes.

“A lot of our violence is argument-based,” Craig said. “We’ve seen significant increases in that. It was up last year, but it’s gotten worse this year, with a lot of stress related to COVID.”

Craig said having more illegal guns on the street has resulted in more violent crimes.

“I’m not talking about people who purchase guns legally and have a legal license to carry,” Craig said. “Those aren’t the people causing the problems. It’s illegal guns.”

Detroit police officers arrest between 85-130 people weekly for illegally carrying guns, but Craig said they often end up back on the street with no bond. Often, the cases are pleaded down, resulting in probation.

“When there’s no certainty for punishment for illegally carrying a gun, people continue carrying — and a lot of these people carrying guns illegally commit violent crimes,” Craig said.

Detroit also ranked as the most violent in 2018.

Murders in Detroit increased last year to 275 from 261 in 2018, according to the report. The city in 2017 made headlines when the homicide total dipped below 300 for the first time since 1967.

—The Detroit News


Trial delayed for woman linked to Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen’s slaying

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge has delayed the trial for Cecily Aguilar, a woman accused by authorities of helping to dismember and dispose of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen in April.

Aguilar’s hearing set for Monday was instead pushed back to Nov. 30, according to officials from the U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, Waco Division.

Judge Alan Albright ordered the trial to be reset after a request by Aguilar’s defense team for extra time to prepare their case.

The order continued: “The failure to grant such a continuance would unreasonably deny the defendant’s counsel the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence.”

Aguilar, a 22-year-old Killeen civilian employed at a local gas station before her arrest, is charged with three felony counts of conspiracy to tamper with evidence. She pleaded not guilty on July 14.

Army officials accuse Aguilar of helping her boyfriend, Fort Hood Spc. Aaron David Robinson, cover up the April 22 slaying of Guillen.

Authorities believe Robinson, who died July 1 after shooting himself as Killeen police tried to detain him for questioning, struck 20-year-old Guillen with a hammer as they worked together in a weapons room on post.

Army officials have not publicly given a possible motive for the killing.

Authorities say Robinson toted Guillen’s body off post in a large protective case used to carry weapons.

Burned pieces of the same style of box were found near the Leon River in Bell County, where construction workers found Guillen, authorities have said.

—Austin American-Statesman


After surge of federal agents ends, officials in Kanas City tout results of Operation LeGend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Days after it was announced that more than 200 federal agents and investigators involved in Operation LeGend have left Kansas City, local and federal officials gathered to talk about the results of the crime-fighting initiative.

At a news conference Monday, U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison said 500 arrests were made as part of the operation and federal charges were filed in about 125 cases.

Garrison was joined by Mayor Quinton Lucas and Police Chief Rick Smith at a fire station on Indiana Avenue, where last week a child was brought after being fatally shot.

Operation LeGend was named after another child killed by gun violence in Kansas City: 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and while sleeping in his bedroom this summer. The operation was started in Kansas City by order of the U.S. Department of Justice and was expanded to eight other cities, including St. Louis, Memphis and Detroit.

In Kansas City, the operation promised the help of hundreds of federal agents to help stop a surge of violent crime.

Last week, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri said federal agents who were part of the surge have returned to their home districts.

—The Kansas City Star


Prosecutors reject drunken driving charges against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

AUSTIN, Texas — Travis County prosecutors have opted not to pursue charges against controversial conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who had faced drunken driving charges earlier this year though he had a blood alcohol content that was below the legal limit for driving in Texas.

The district attorney’s office on Sept. 18 rejected his charges, records show.

Jones, according to his arrest affidavit, smelled strongly of alcohol when a Travis County sheriff’s deputy pulled over his Dodge Charger for going 5 mph above the speed limit on Barton Creek Boulevard, near Jones’ home in West Austin.

The deputy was responding to a call from Jones’ wife, who reported they were in an argument that had been a physical fight earlier in the day, the affidavit says. She said Jones left the residence in a black Dodge Charger and that he was possibly drinking, the affidavit says.

Jones’ ex-wife later sought to have two of his children placed in her care after his arrest.

After the deputy pulled him over, Jones agreed to three field sobriety tests — horizontal gaze, walk and turn, and one leg stand — and had problems completing all of them, the affidavit says.

He was arrested and taken to jail where he voluntarily performed a breathalyzer test. The blood alcohol test first came back at 0.076. A second test taken four minutes later, just before midnight, showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.079, the closest reading possible to the legal limit without reaching it.

—Austin American-Statesman


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