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Aaron Hernandez Trial: Victim's Girlfriend Says Hernandez, Odin Lloyd Were in 'Beginning Stages' of Friendship


John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(FALL RIVER, Mass.) -- New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez and Odin Lloyd were in the "beginning stages of a friendship" at the time of Lloyd's murder, the victim's former girlfriend said on the stand today.

It was Shaneah Jenkins, 23, who introduced Lloyd, 27, to Hernandez, she said.

Hernandez, who dated Jenkins' sister, is charged with orchestrating Llyod's murder.

Friday’s testimony from Jenkins, now a second-year criminal law student at New England Law School, contradicts the defense team's assertion during opening statements that the two men were good friends.

Lloyd and Hernandez "would hang out and smoke" marijuana in the basement of Hernandez's Massachusetts home, Jenkins said, confirming that Lloyd had rolled joints in her presence.

In opening statements, prosecutors said Hernandez's DNA is on a joint he shared with Lloyd.  

When asked if she knew of any time Lloyd and Hernandez were together without her, Jenkins said, "just the one I was made aware of the weekend he was murdered."

Emotions ran high as Lloyd's relatives sat through testimony on Friday from the captain of the North Attleboro Fire Department, who responded to the 911 call after the body of the semi-pro football player was found after being shot six times.

Capt. John White told the jury he "saw a gentleman laying on the ground" and saw "no breathing" as he walked towards him.

A member of Lloyd's family walked out as White described condition of the body. Other relatives were seen grabbing tissues.

"This person was laying on their back, face up," White told the jury. "He had no pulse. He was cold to the touch. He was very stiff. You couldn't move his jaw, couldn't move his arms."

White pronounced Lloyd dead at the scene. He said he noticed shell casings around the body and blood coming from the right side of the body.

When graphic photos appeared on screen, Judge Susan Garsh paused and reminded jurors of their purpose.

"These photographs are being introduced solely for the purpose so you can see the position of the body or any visible wounds," Garsh said. "Please put aside any emotions or sympathy they may generate."

The first witness today was William Cambio, who saw Lloyd's body. Cambio works near the North Attleboro industrial park where Lloyd's body was discovered.

Another man who saw Lloyd is David Swithers, president of Advanced Electronic Design, the company to which a high school student ran initially after discovering the body.

"I saw an African-American male," Swithers said. "There were flies around his nostrils."

Prosecutors said in opening arguments Thursday that Lloyd's murder was preceded by a text message from Hernandez, now 25.

On June 17, 2013, Hernandez "told Odin Lloyd he was going to come out to his house that night," Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg told the court.

Hernandez was driving when he and two other men picked up Lloyd from his home and brought him to the industrial park, near the Patriots' home at Gillette Stadium, according to prosecutors.

"Odin Lloyd was shot six times," Bomberg told the jury.

Hernandez's defense attorney, Michael Fee, in the defense's opening statement, declared Hernandez "an innocent man" and said the prosecution's account of events was "just a story and it's not true.”

"Aaron Hernandez did not murder his friend Odin Lloyd," Fee told the jury, claiming investigators prematurely zeroed in on Hernandez to the exclusion of other suspects.

"You come with an open mind," Fee said. "Give us a chance to show you the truth."

Next week, jurors are scheduled to see Hernandez's house, Lloyd's house and other locations relevant to the case.

As Hernandez's trial gathers steam, his former team, the Patriots, will play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Hernandez caught Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's last Super Bowl touchdown pass in the team's 2012 loss to the New York Giants.

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Deflate-Gate: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Speaks Out Ahead of Super Bowl


Digital Vision(PHOENIX) -- The NFL is conducting a "thorough and objective investigation" into the "deflate-gate" controversy, league commissioner Roger Goodell said on Friday.

Following accusations that the New England Patriots used under-inflated balls during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago, Goodell said the NFL is focusing on two questions: "Why were some footballs used in the game that were not in compliance with the rules, and was this result of a deliberate action?"

"We take seriously anything that potentially impacts the integrity of the game," Goodell said in his State of the League speech, ahead of the Super Bowl game between the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. "I want to emphasize, we have made no judgement on these points. And we will not compromise the investigation by engaging in speculation."

Goodell confirmed the footballs were tested at halftime of the AFC championship game.

Once the investigation is complete, the results will be shared publicly, according to Goodell.

Goodell was also asked about Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch's comments at Media Day on Tuesday, during which the player repetitively said, "I am just here so I won't get fined."

"Marshawn understands the importance of the Super Bowl," Goodell said. "I've been very clear that when you're in the NFL you have an obligation to the fans."

"It is part of your job. And there are things we all have to do in our jobs that we may not necessarily want to do," he added.

"It may not be at the top of his list. Everyone else is cooperating and doing their part. It is our obligation," Goodell said. "It comes with the territory. It comes with the privilege of playing."

Looking to the off season, Goodell said the league will focus is on player safety, including establishing a Chief Medical Officer position to oversee medical-related policies.

Goodell said he expects to have the position "in place very soon."

Goodell added that concussions were down 25 percent this season, continuing a three-year trend.

The league also aims to bring more awareness to domestic violence and sexual assault, Goodell said.

This past Thursday was the first meeting of the new League Conduct Committee to review the personal conduct policy, of which Goodell said "raises the standards for all of us" by emphasizing ongoing education, prevention and support services.

"We want to make a difference, not just internally but externally."

Looking back on this season, Goodell said the league is in a better place than it was in August.

"We obviously as an organization have gone through adversity," he said, but noted that "the NFL is made up of good and caring people."

"It's been a tough year but a year of progress," Goodell said.

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Aaron Hernandez Trial Judge’s Stern Warning About the Super Bowl


iStock/Thinkstock(FALL RIVER, Mass.) -- As the judge wrapped up day two of the Aaron Hernandez murder trial on Friday, she gave the jurors an unusual warning in recognition of the fact that this high-profile case involving a former NFL player was unfolding in advance of a weekend that isn't like any other during the football season.

"I am not going to forbid you from watching this Super Bowl on Sunday, if that's something that's really important to you," Judge Susan Garsh told the 18 jurors.

"But I am going to ask you to be especially vigilant if you're watching the game with friends or family or any third party, just have your antenna -- just be really, really vigilant. You have to avoid anything that has anything to do with this case or Mr. Hernandez," she said. "If you hear that word, you got to walk out of the room, distance yourself, immediately stop people, and if his name or this case is mention on the television screen or computer, just walk away."

New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, now 25, is accused of killing Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player, on June 17, 2013.

As Hernandez's trial gathers steam, his former team, the Patriots, will play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

"It’s vitally important that you know how long it took us to get a group of 18 fair and partial jurors, and it’s very, very important that you avoid being exposed to any outside influences," Garsh added. "As I've told you before, it just would not be fair to anyone involved in this case so please, if you feel you must watch the game, take every precaution to avoid being exposed to any outside influence to this case."


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Defense Wants Vanderbilt Rape Trial Verdict Thrown Out over Juror


iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The defense team for Brandon Vandenburg, one of the former Vanderbilt University football players who was convicted this week of raping a female classmate, is now trying to get the verdict thrown out after discovering one of the jurors did not disclose he or she was a sexual assault victim.

ABC News has confirmed that the juror in question, whom ABC News has decided not to identify, was a victim of statutory rape 15 years ago, and his or her attacker was sentenced to 12 months in jail and 60 months of probation for the crime, but the juror never revealed that information during the jury selection process.

In a statement to ABC News, the attorney for the juror said that the "past situation has zero similarity to the facts presented within the Vanderbilt trial...nor did the past situation have any impact upon deliberations or decision-making in this case."

Vandenburg's defense said it now plans to file a motion to have the verdict vacated, which, if granted, means the judge could declare a mistrial, and the guilty verdict could be overturned.

On Tuesday, the jury took just three hours to decide Vandenburg and another former Vanderbilt football player, Cory Batey, were each guilty of four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg was also found guilty of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography after prosecutors claimed he recorded the sexual assault on his phone, shared it with friends and then tried to cover it up.

Vandenburg and Batey were scheduled to be sentenced on March 6.

The graphic sexual assault case played out in a Nashville, Tennessee courtroom over 12 days, as prosecutors presented surveillance video they said showed Vandenburg carrying the victim into his dorm, accompanied by Batey and two other former players, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie. Jurors also had to watch cellphone video that prosecutors claimed Vandenburg recorded as the sexual assault went on in his dorm room in 2013.

Prosecutors said the victim, a 21-year-old former neuroscience major and dance team member at the university, was drunk and passed out when the incident occurred.

The defense argued that the young men were not guilty of rape, but rather of making a mistake.

Banks and McKenzie also face rape and sexual battery charges, but have not yet gone to trial. They have pleaded not guilty.

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Astronaut Leland Melvin Takes NASA Photo with His Dogs


NASA(NEW YORK) -- A retired NASA astronaut is a viral star thanks to his official NASA photo that shows him posing with two unlikely companions.

Leland Melvin, who retired from NASA last February according to the space agency, is seen in the photo in the traditional orange spacesuit worn by astronauts in their official photos. But instead of posing alone, Melvin is flanked by his two dogs.

The undated photo of Melvin, 50, was tweeted Wednesday by Adam Aton, a newspaper reporter in Missouri.

 

This is an official portrait for astronaut Leland Melvin. Also, his handle is @Astro_Flow. I'm in awe. pic.twitter.com/KHWVo94mZO

— Adam Aton (@AdamAton) January 28, 2015

 

When another tweeter asked Melvin if the story that he snuck the two dogs into the NASA studio during his photo shoot is true, Melvin replied, “Yes sir!,” followed by a rocket emoji.

 

@chrisfloyduk: @AdamAton @marthaburzynsk AF told me he snuck his dogs into the NASA studio 4 that shot. Is that right, Leland?” Yes sir! ????

— Leland Melvin (@Astro_Flow) January 29, 2015

 

Melvin has evidently won praise for his photo before because another person tweeted to him on Jan. 24 that he has “the best astronaut photo.”

Melvin replied to that tweet with another photo, this one showing his two dogs sitting stoically by his side.

 

@isorude_mark: @Astro_Flow You have the best astronaut photo!”Thx Mark. The time when they were behaving during ???? ???? pic.twitter.com/hvlZjAIVkN

— Leland Melvin (@Astro_Flow) January 24, 2015

 

Neither Melvin nor NASA responded Friday to ABC News’ requests for comment.

According to Melvin’s NASA biography, the Virginia native was selected by NASA in 1998 and is a veteran of two space flights, logging over 565 hours in space. Melvin later went on to travel the country as co-manager of NASA’s Educator Astronaut Program and was named as associate administrator for the Office of Education.

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Would Putting Seatbelts on School Buses Save Children’s Lives?


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every day, nearly half a million school buses hit the road, taking 25 million children to school. And while many parents think their children are in safe hands, tragedy can strike in a flash.

Michael Watkins was 9 years old when the school bus he was riding on the way to his Indiana charter school crashed into a bridge in March 2012.

The bus driver, 60-year-old Thomas Spencer II, and a student, 5-year-old Donasty Smith, died in the crash. Dozens of other students were injured -- including Watkins, who broke his femur.

On average, five children die in school bus crashes each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Watkins’ mother, Natasha Hobbs, believes her son’s injury could have been prevented had he been wearing a seatbelt on the school bus.

“All I know is he wasn't in one and he ended up with a broken femur, two surgeries, a wheelchair, walker, therapy,” said Hobbs.

U.S. regulations only require seatbelts on small school buses -- those under 10,000 pounds. And only six states require all school buses to be equipped with seatbelts (Texas, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York) -- a big difference from click-it-or-ticket laws across the nation that require passengers in cars to buckle up.

Watkins, now 12, says he doesn’t understand why seatbelts aren’t required on school buses as they are in other vehicles.

“It’s silly. If you’re gonna wear a seatbelt in the car, you gotta wear it on the bus too,” said Watkins. “But there's not one on a bus.”

ABC's GMA Investigates was on the scene for a crash test at C.A.P.E., the Center for Advanced Product Evaluation. The test was run by IMMI, one of the leading providers of seatbelts in the school bus industry. Inside the school bus were 12 dummies of different ages, seated in different positions -- four dummies wore seatbelts and eight did not.

High-speed cameras captured what happened when a bus crashed into a wall at 30 miles per hour. Later, Larry Gray, CEO of IMMI, walked ABC News Anchor Paula Faris through the bus wreckage.

A middle-to-high school-sized dummy -- who did not wear a seatbelt -- was initially sitting on the edge of a seat with one leg in the aisle. After the crash, the dummy hit the seat, spun around and landed in the aisle.

A 6-year-old-sized crash test dummy -- who was also not wearing a seat belt -- was initially facing the rear of the bus and wearing a backpack. After the crash, the dummy struck the seatback behind him, rebounded and hit the seatback in front of him, before falling out of his seat and into the aisle.

Both a 6-year-old-sized dummy and middle to high school-sized dummy wearing seatbelts struck their heads on the seats in front of them, but remained “well-restrained and probably fared very well,” said Gray.

A full-frontal crash might seem bad, but experts say a high-speed rollover crash could be catastrophic. So IMMI moved its dummies to a second bus, and demonstrated a rollover test. Two of the dummies were belted and three were unbelted.

Despite the bus rolling onto its side, the two belted dummies remained safe in their seats. The dummies without seatbelts, meanwhile, were thrown throughout the school bus.

“You can see that the two children that are belted, it’s a no-brainer, they’re in their compartments and they’re safe, the children that are unrestrained, this is very dramatic,” said Gray. “They’re thrown throughout the vehicle and they hit hard surfaces or the roof of the vehicle. So we see that seatbelts protect and reduce injuries.”

IMMI says its research shows that, in general, lap-shoulder seatbelts can reduce injury and death by 50 percent.

But the NHTSA, the government agency responsible for safety on the road, has long refrained from requiring seatbelts on all school buses, saying that school buses are inherently safer than passenger cars due to their construction -- even without seatbelts.

In addition, the agency has maintained that mandating seatbelts would have unintended consequences. The costs involved in outfitting buses with seatbelts, the NHTSA has said, could reduce the number of buses available and wind up diverting more students into passenger cars, which they say would increase fatalities and injuries on the road.

While research shows that school buses are the safest way to transport children to school, even without seatbelts, Hobbs questions that conclusion.

“Well, my kids were in a school bus accident and they were thrown around like marbles in a bag,” said Hobbs. “So, yeah, I challenge science.”

GMA Investigates wanted answers, so ABC News' Faris sat down with Mark Rosekind, the new head of the NHTSA. Rosekind told Faris that although there has been no federal mandate requiring seatbelts on school buses, his agency is reviewing the issue.

“Everything’s on the table for us to look at,” Rosekind said. “So this issue is going to be looked at to see whether or not there’s more for us to do. Seatbelts, unquestionably, save lives.”

Faris questioned whether this was a change from the agency’s previous stance on seatbelts in school buses.

“I'm the new guy, fresh eyes,” answered Rosekind. “Does that mean we might change things? We may. We're gonna look for every action we can take to help those kids be safer.”

Weeks into his new role, Rosekind is now promising a full review.

“I'm waiting to see sort of what we're going to be able to do here,” Rosekind said. “I don't mind saying -- because our kids are precious -- we're going to do this one pretty fast.”

Hobbs agrees that children’s safety should be the priority. The mother on a mission says her goal is to make sure every school bus in Indiana has seat belts.

“This is our future. So we need to protect them,” said Hobbs.

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Aaron Hernandez Trial: Victim's Girlfriend Takes Stand


Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(FALL RIVER, Mass.) -- Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and Odin Lloyd were in the "beginning stages of a friendship" at the time of Lloyd's murder, the victim's former girlfriend said on the stand Friday.

It was Shaneah Jenkins, 23, who introduced Lloyd, 27, to Hernandez, she said.

Hernandez, who dated Jenkins' sister, is charged with orchestrating Llyod's murder.

Friday's testimony from Jenkins, now a second-year criminal law student at New England Law School, contradicts the defense team's assertion during opening statements that the two men were good friends.

Lloyd and Hernandez "would hang out and smoke" marijuana in the basement of Hernandez's Massachusetts home, Jenkins said, confirming that Lloyd had rolled joints in her presence.

In opening statements, prosecutors said Hernandez's DNA is on a joint he shared with Lloyd.

When asked if she knew of any time Llyod and Hernandez were together without her, Jenkins said, "just the one I was made aware of the weekend he was murdered."

Emotions ran high as Llyod's relatives sat through testimony earlier Friday from the captain of the North Attleboro, Massachusetts Fire Department, who responded to the 911 call after the body of the semi-pro football player was found after being shot six times.

Capt. John White told the jury he "saw a gentleman laying on the ground" and saw "no breathing" as he walked towards him.

A member of Lloyd's family walked out as White described the condition of the body. Other relatives were seen grabbing tissues.

"This person was laying on their back, face up," White told the jury. "He had no pulse. He was cold to the touch. He was very stiff. You couldn't move his jaw, couldn't move his arms."

White pronounced Lloyd dead at the scene. He said he noticed shell casings around the body and blood coming from the right side of the body.

When graphic photos appeared on screen, Judge Susan Garsh paused and reminded jurors of their purpose.

"These photographs are being introduced solely for the purpose so you can see the position of the body or any visible wounds," Garsh said. "Please put aside any emotions or sympathy they may generate."

The first witness on Friday was William Cambio, who saw Lloyd's body. Cambio works near the North Attleboro industrial park where Lloyd's body was discovered.

Another man who saw Lloyd is David Swithers, president of Advanced Electronic Design, the company to which a high school student ran initially after discovering the body.

"I saw an African-American male," Swithers said. "There were flies around his nostrils."

Prosecutors said in opening arguments Thursday that Lloyd's murder was preceded by a text message from Hernandez, now 25.

On June 17, 2013, Hernandez "told Odin Lloyd he was going to come out to his house that night," Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg told the court.

Hernandez was driving when he and two other men picked up Lloyd from his home and brought him to the industrial park, near the Patriots' home at Gillette Stadium, according to prosecutors.

"Odin Lloyd was shot six times," Bomberg told the jury.

Hernandez's defense attorney, Michael Fee, in the defense's opening statement, declared Hernandez "an innocent man" and said the prosecution's account of events was "just a story and it's not true.”

"Aaron Hernandez did not murder his friend Odin Lloyd," Fee told the jury, claiming investigators prematurely zeroed in on Hernandez to the exclusion of other suspects.

"You come with an open mind," Fee said. "Give us a chance to show you the truth."

Next week, jurors are scheduled to see Hernandez's house, Lloyd's house and other locations relevant to the case.

As Hernandez's trial gathers steam, his former team, the Patriots, will play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Hernandez caught Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's last Super Bowl touchdown pass in the team's 2012 loss to the New York Giants.

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Hot Air Balloon with Wedding Party Onboard Lands on Street


iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A hot air balloon with a couple on board taking their wedding vows was forced to make an emergency landing on a San Diego street Thursday afternoon.

The balloon, with a 6-person wedding party on board, began experiencing trouble about 20 minutes into the group’s trip.

The balloon’s pilot, Phil Brandt, was forced to dodge buildings and power lines as the balloon hovered perilously over a valley.

Brandt, a nearly 25-year veteran pilot, fired up the aircraft repeatedly to try to keep it afloat. He eventually directed the balloon towards a tree, which it clipped before making a safe landing on the street below.

“I used that tree to my advantage on the landing actually, to slow the basket down so we could land in the street and come to a stop quick ,” Brandt told local ABC News affiliate KGTV.

The bride’s father, Curtis Cam, told KTGV the balloon ride was a memorable way for his daughter’s wedding to end.

“We ended up coming down, hitting a tree and landing in the street,” he said. “We’re never going to forget the ending of the wedding."

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Vanderbilt Rape Trial Jurors Say Video Evidence Decided Their Guilty Verdict


ABC News(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Three jurors from the Vanderbilt University rape trial said the evidence that played the biggest role in deciding a guilty verdict was video that prosecutors claimed proved four former Vanderbilt football players sexually assaulted a female classmate.

"As soon as we saw the videos and photographic evidence...we knew exactly who was guilty of what and what we were going to come back with," said juror Todd Easter. "What we knew is that a terrible crime had occurred."
 
The jury took just three hours Tuesday to decide Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey were each guilty of four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg was also found guilty of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography after prosecutors claimed he recorded the sexual assault on his phone, shared it with friends and then tried to cover it up.

Three jurors from the trial sat down with ABC News' 20/20 for an interview the day after the verdict to talk about the case.

"We are absolutely confident in that we made the right decision for every count," said Easter, who was the juror tasked with reading the verdict for the court.

The graphic sexual assault case played out in a Nashville courtroom over 12 days, as prosecutors presented surveillance video they said showed Vandenburg carrying the victim into his dorm, accompanied by Batey and two other former players, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie. Jurors also had to watch cell phone video that prosecutors claimed Vandenburg recorded as the sexual assault went on in his dorm room.

Prosecutors said the victim, a 21-year-old former neuroscience major and dance team member at the university, was drunk and passed out when the 2013 incident occurred.

Juror Dr. Corbi Milligan told 20/20 that she was "horrified and utterly disgusted" when she watched the footage.

"I do hold [Vandenburg] criminally responsible for what occurred to [the victim] in that room," Milligan said. "It was horrific. ...She was horribly victimized, and as difficult as it was for us to have to render that verdict, it was justice, and it had to be done."

Another juror, Dr. Deirde Young, said the footage made her feel "awful."

"I asked myself, 'how could they do this to that young lady?'" Young added. "There can't be enough explanation to me. I don't know, I think they need to do some real soul searching. I've never experienced anything like these young men."

The defense argued the young men were not guilty of rape, but rather of making a mistake. Batey's lawyer, Worrick Robinson, claimed that college culture put his client in the situation, but the jurors said they weren't buying that argument.

"It's not a defense against a crime, and I think that's the core thing," Milligan said. "Several people, men and women, were seen on the surveillance camera and saw the victim in this state, and no one stopped to think, 'Is she going to be OK?'"

When the jury was dismissed for deliberations, Young said they all broke down in the jury room.

"Maintaining our composure -- it was difficult for all of us," Young said. "I tell you that composure crumbled when the doors closed."

Two other ex-players accused of being involved in the incident, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie, also face rape and sexual battery charges, but have not yet gone to trial. They have pleaded not guilty.

Vandenburg's childhood friends in California, to whom he sent the videos of the assault, were charged with tampering with evidence after he implored them to get rid of their cell phones. Last week, Joey Quinzio pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Miles Finley was offered the same plea agreement, but has so far declined it.

Another Vanderbilt football player, Chris Boyd, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for helping carry the unconscious victim into Vandenburg's dorm.

"I'm curious to know the people we saw on the surveillance video -- the multiple people who saw her -- what are they thinking now," Milligan said. "We are civilized human beings. The rules and responsibility of living in this society is you look out for your fellow man."

Vandenburg and Batey will be sentenced on March 6 and could face decades in prison.

After the verdict was announced this week, Nicholas Zeppos, the chancellor of Vanderbilt University, told ABC News in a statement, "I am deeply troubled that some students who knew or should have known about the incident that led to this week's convictions failed to take any positive action. This is not the culture at Vanderbilt, and it must never be repeated." Read the chancellor's full statement at the end of this article.

The victim in this case, who testified against her attackers, released a statement thanking police and prosecutors for bringing them to justice, and calling them her heroes. For District Attorney Glenn Funk, the guilty verdict carries a profound message to victims of sexual crimes.

"I hope this verdict sends a message to victims of sexual violence...that you will never be alone, that we will back you up, and that ultimately the system will work and you will be able to get justice," Funk said.

Full Statement from the Chancellor of Vanderbilt to ABC News:

Earlier this week, a Nashville jury found two former Vanderbilt students guilty of a vicious attack against a fellow student. The victim showed exceptional courage and strength in pursuing justice through the criminal trial. At this time, we are called upon again to consider as a community how we can ensure that what happened to the survivor of this terrible crime never happens again.

The heinous conduct described at trial was not the product of Vanderbilt's culture. On the contrary, such conduct is the very opposite of the values Vanderbilt stands for and our students hold dear. We abhor sexual misconduct, and we subject every student to the same standards.

Yet we must acknowledge that sexual assaults occur on college campuses across the country, and that Vanderbilt is no exception. But Vanderbilt can make a difference, and we must make a difference, because the consequences of sexual violence—shattered dreams and shattered lives—are intolerable.

As your Chancellor, I am personally committed to ending sexual misconduct at Vanderbilt, giving victims the support and assistance they need and sanctioning those found responsible. To end sexual misconduct at Vanderbilt we must all commit ourselves every day to our values, including respecting and caring for one another and holding accountable those who violate our standards. The university has taken numerous concrete steps to address sexual misconduct, including updating the university's policy against Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence; requiring all incoming students to complete PETSA and Alcohol.Edu training; making sure students and responsible employees know how and to whom to report sexual misconduct incidents; encouraging all members of our community to participate in the Green Dot bystander intervention program; opening a new Project Safe Center; and adding to our staff of prevention educators and victim resource specialists. We will administer a new campus climate survey this spring. And we will continue our comprehensive ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the importance of every student intervening when another student is at risk or in distress.

We can all commit to this never happening again, but ending sexual misconduct requires more. It requires commitment to our core principles, which demand that sexual harassment and sexual assault will never be ignored or downplayed or get lost in a bureaucracy. We must individually and collectively create a culture of transparency, support and cooperation.

The university's response to this tragic incident demonstrates our commitment to these principles. When the university reviewed surveillance video that raised suspicions about the actions of certain students, we immediately commenced an investigation and promptly reported our concerns to the Nashville police. We have worked closely with the Davidson County District Attorney's Office ever since. Not for a second did anyone consider sweeping the incident under the rug or according special treatment to our student-athletes. Indeed, if not for actions taken by Vanderbilt, the incident may never have been discovered and the defendants never prosecuted.

I will not be satisfied until campus sexual assaults are a thing of the past. And I want Vanderbilt to be at the forefront of that effort. I have therefore authorized Project Safe to augment its educational and prevention programs and victim support. Please visit the Project Safe Center or click on the Project Safe website to learn more. I encourage every member of the Vanderbilt community to get involved with Green Dot at Vanderbilt. Attend an upcoming Green Dot training session, the next of which is Feb. 20, or click on the Green Dot website to request information about bystander intervention. Make a personal commitment to stand up, not stand by, when you or another member of our community is at risk.

We come to Vanderbilt to be part of a community of exceptional individuals who learn from, support and take care of one another. We must never forget this. I am deeply troubled that some students who knew or should have known about the incident that led to this week's convictions failed to take any positive action. This is not the culture at Vanderbilt, and it must never be repeated.

I urge anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct, or who knows a victim, to contact the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action & Disability Services department, whose director, Anita Jenious, is Vanderbilt's Title IX coordinator. EAD investigates sexual misconduct reports, coordinates interim services for students who need them and determines responsibility for violations of the university's Sexual Misconduct policy. Whether the incident occurred yesterday, last week or last year, let EAD know so it can take action.

Above all, I ask each and every student to contribute the best of yourselves to our Vanderbilt community. Vanderbilt must and will play a leadership role in ending sexual misconduct. But it is only by coming together as a community that we can effect the deep and lasting change that this moment demands.

Watch the full story on ABC News' 20/20 Friday night at 12:35 a.m. ET.

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Jockey Accused of Zapping Horse Near Finish Line


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock (HOUSTON) — Jockey Roman Chapa is facing a felony charge of unlawful influence on racing based largely on a photograph taken during a race earlier this month.

When Chapa won the Jan. 17 race riding Quiet Acceleration at the Sam Houston Race Park in Texas, a snapshot of the photo finish circulated. He reportedly asked that the image be taken down, raising suspicions.

Prosecutors now allege that the photo showed Chapa, 43, holding a buzzer in his left hand. Buzzers are used to send an electrical shock to the horse.

Barry Abrams of ESPN’s In the Gate said the alleged device was intended to startle the horse and make him run faster.

“It doesn’t really hurt the horse,” Abrams said. “It more gets his attention. …It’s just meant to kind of startle him.”

Investigators said the jockey told them that the picture was photoshopped by someone trying to frame him.

Abrams said incidents like this were not common.

“Just about all the tracks these days have stewards positioned all over the rack track -- both with their own eyes and with cameras everywhere -- so it’s very difficult nowadays to execute such a thing effectively,” he said.

Chapa’s track record is questionable. In 2007, he was suspended for using an electrical device on a horse. And in 1994, he was suspended for using a nail to make a horse run faster.

Chapa did not respond to requests for comment by ABC News.

Andrea Young, president of the Sam Houston Race Park, said in a statement that the park was “pleased” with how fast the investigation had moved.

“These sorts of actions have no place in horse racing, and are a disservice to the tens of thousands of people involved in our sport who play by the rules every day. We will continue to support this investigation in every way possible,” Young said.

If he is convicted, Chapa faces up to 10 years in prison.


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Niagara Falls Climber Will Gadd Recounts Scaling 'Blue Icicle'


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Several people have survived plunges over Niagara Falls, but no one before Will Gadd has ever tried going in the opposite direction.

The professional climber, 47, scaled a frozen section of the waterfall Tuesday, clinging to a wall of solid ice. He was close enough to feel the spray of the pounding water feet away. Sarah Hueniken also participated in the climb.

Stunning video from the climb shows Gadd using two ice picks, along with strength and guile -- calculating every move, the terrain unsteady and unpredictable. During the climb, giant chunks of ice fell just past Gadd’s head, and 150,000 tons of water flowed next to him every minute, racing past at nearly 70 miles per hour.

“There’s nothing that feels better than climbing a blue icicle up into the sky,” said Gadd, who works with Red Bull. “I always feel like Jack and the Beanstalk. Definitely one of the highlights of my life, not just climbing career but life. You don’t get many of those.”

Lots of preparation went into the climb. He scouted the area months ago, long before the ice formed, and also worked with parks officials to receive the necessary permits.

“I’ve been lucky enough to climb all over the world. I got to climb ice on top of the roof of Africa, the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro. But this climb was Niagara Falls. This is the coolest waterfall in the world,” Gadd said.

Gadd reached the top of the falls in about an hour.


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Eric Frein Pleads Not Guilty to September Police Shooting


Harry Fisher/Allentown Morning Call/TNS via Getty Images(MILFORD, Pa.) -- Eric Frein, the man accused of killing a Pennsylvania state trooper and wounding a second before prompting a large-scale manhunt in September 2014, pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree murder, homicide of a law enforcement and possession of a weapon of mass destruction.

ABC's Scranton affiliate WNEP-TV reports that Frein pleaded not guilty in Pike County Court on Thursday. The 31-year-old survivalist was captured in October after a seven-week hunt. U.S. Marshals took him into custody at an abandoned airplane hangar.

WNEP says that Frein's defense lawyers are considering a motion to change the venue of the trial.

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Home Surveillance Video Shows Aaron Hernandez Carrying 'Gun' After Killing


Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Prosecutors Thursday unveiled video from Aaron Hernandez's own home surveillance system during opening arguments at his murder trial to help support their claim that the former New England Patriots tight end killed semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.

The video, previously disclosed in court documents but only shown as a series of still images, showed Hernandez, now 25, and two associates returning to his North Attleboro, Massachusetts, house in the early morning hours of June 17, 2013 without Lloyd, prosecutors said. Other evidence showed Lloyd had been with them earlier, prosecutors alleged.

During the video, Hernandez is shown carrying what appears to be a gun.

“That, ladies and gentlemen, is a Glock,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick Bomberg told jurors.

Hernandez had tampered with the cameras but investigators were able to retrieve photographs, prosecutors previously claimed. Those images, they said, were recovered from 14 surveillance cameras in Hernandez's $1.2 million home.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murdering Lloyd. His attorney, Michael Fee, insisted during opening arguments Thursday that his client lacked intent to murder and said the prosecutors are only trying to “dazzle and distract.”


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FDNY Rescues Boy Trapped on Ice in Bronx River


Viktor AA!p/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Firefighters from the Fire Department of New York rescued a boy who was trapped on an ice floe in the Bronx River on Thursday.

According to ABC's New York affiliate WABC-TV, the rescue occurred at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of Bronx River Avenue and Westchester Avenue. The boy could be seen standing near the shore while rescuers lowered a ladder to the boy, who climbed to safety.

WABC reports that there was initially a second child who fell into the water but managed to get to safety before firefighters arrived.

 

FDNY Firefighters from Ladder 54 rescued a boy trapped on ice in the Bronx River today. (photos by FDNY) pic.twitter.com/PN21WHRjTi

— FDNY (@FDNY) January 30, 2015

 

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Dartmouth College to Ban Hard Alcohol from Campus


ArtPhaneuf/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(HANOVER, N.H.) -- Dartmouth College President Phil Hanlon announced a plan to address "high-risk behavior on campus" and "create a safe and inclusive environment" on Thursday, most notably looking to "lead nationally" by seeking to ban hard liquor from campus.

"To be clear, no single action contains the consummate solution," Hanlon said in a statement. "If it did, these problems would have vanished from our campus and society years and years ago." Still, Hanlon insisted, hard alcohol will no longer be served at events open to the public and any underage students found in possession of hard alcohol will be more severely punished. No further efforts the school will undertake to eliminate hard alcohol from campus were specifically announced.

Other initiatives Hanlon announced on Thursday include a four-year mandatory sexual violence prevention and education program for students, comprehensive sexual assault training for faculty and staff, increased presence of faculty in the lives of students, and a comprehensive student code of conduct. The college will also reinforce rules for student groups -- including Greek organizations -- and hold those groups to "higher standards than ever before."

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