Daily Dispatches
Michael Skakel at his bond hearing Thursday.
Associated Press/Photo by Bob Luckey/The Stamford Advocate (pool)
Michael Skakel at his bond hearing Thursday.

Midday Roundup: Kennedy cousin freed from jail

Newsworthy

Bailed out. Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was released on bail after spending more than a decade in jail for the 1975 slaying of neighbor Martha Moxley. A judge granted Skakel a new trial last month saying that his attorney failed to locate an essential witness. Skakel was convicted in 2002 in Moxley’s bludgeoning with a golf club in upscale Greenwich, Conn., when they were both 15. Skakel is the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel. Robert Kennedy Jr., who campaigned to overturn Skakel’s conviction, said this week that he felt “pure joy” over his cousin’s pending release. “Everybody in my family knows that Michael is innocent,” Kennedy said Tuesday. “He was in jail for over a decade for a crime he didn’t commit. The only crime that he committed was having a bad lawyer.” Connecticut prosecutors must now rebuild the case against Skakel, which was based largely on testimony about incriminating statements Skakel made over the years.

Road to recovery. Billy Graham returned home Thursday after being hospitalized in Asheville, N.C., for observation and lung tests. Dr. William R. Hathaway, chief medical officer at Mission Hospital in Asheville, said Graham was alert and in good spirits during his two-day stay. Hathaway said doctors are pleased with the results of Graham’s evaluation. Graham uses a wheelchair and has been hospitalized for several health-related issues over the past few years. On Nov. 7, Graham celebrated his 95th birthday surrounded by hundreds of guests including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and real estate mogul Donald Trump.

Lost in the system. The Arizona Department of Public Safety is investigating how 6,000 cases of suspected child abuse reported to the state hotline were never investigated. Over the past four years, a team at Arizona’s Child Protective Services agency improperly designated the cases “N.I.”—meaning “not investigated”—to help manage their heavy workload and focus on the most severe cases, said Clarence Carter, chief of the state’s child welfare system. At least 125 cases already have been identified in which children later were allegedly abused. The hotline problems were exposed after police agencies inquired about the status of two abuse cases. Both cases had been marked N.I. Under state law, all reports generated via the statewide hotline must be investigated, Carter said Thursday. He noted plans would be revealed Monday on how the state will catch up on the overlooked backlog.

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Supermarket tragedy. Hordes of shoppers were picking up food after work in the Latvian capital of Riga when an enormous section of the supermarket’s roof caved in. Firefighters rushed in to save them, only to be crushed themselves when a second part of the roof collapsed. The death toll from the rush-hour disaster Thursday evening at the Maxima supermarket rose to 47 on Friday, including three firefighters, police said. Spokesman Toms Sadovskisk said the death toll is expected to go even higher, and that six of the dead were still unidentified.

Lynde Langdon
Lynde Langdon

Lynde lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. She holds degrees from the University of Missouri in journalism, Russian, and business administration. She is in a long-term, committed relationship with the Lutheran church. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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