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Jun 17, 2015

U.S. sends seven seized boa constrictors back to Brazil

By Daniel Wallis

(Reuters) – The United States has returned to Brazil seven boa constrictors that are the offspring of a very rare white snake dubbed the “Diamond Princess” and were seized in connection with an illegal wildlife smuggling scheme, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The valuable leucistic boa constrictor was unlawfully brought to the United States in 2009 by a Utah-based collector, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

May 27, 2015

Colorado movie massacre defense: We need to talk about James

By Daniel Wallis and Keith Coffman

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Reuters) – In a hushed courtroom on the outskirts of Denver, defense lawyers played family videos of a young boy sitting on a sofa in shorts and a T-shirt, playing on a slide in a park, and frolicking in waves on a sunlit beach.

The films gave no hint of the violence that would later be committed by James Holmes, who could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering 12 people and wounding 70 others by opening fire inside a suburban Denver multiplex in July 2012.

May 12, 2015

Colorado rule lets massacre trial jurors dig into thorny issues

By Keith Coffman and Daniel Wallis

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Reuters) – Lobbing questions on topics ranging from loading ammo clips to booby-trapping apartments and the chemistry of gunshot residue, jurors have waded into the thick of the Colorado movie massacre trial as they weigh the fate of gunman James Holmes.

Taking full advantage of unusual state rules that require the judge to let them question witnesses, the jury of 19 women and five men have asked probing follow-ups on issues including crime scene forensics and Holmes’ behavior before the rampage. They have also made more unexpected contributions.

May 4, 2015

Human spirit, humor shine through at Colorado movie massacre trial

By Daniel Wallis and Keith Coffman

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Reuters) – While the details emerging in the Colorado movie theater massacre trial have been almost too much to bear for many, glimmers of the human spirit and resilience have also shone through at times in the windowless, low-ceiling courtroom.

Prompted by terrified accounts from severely wounded survivors and halting testimony from choked-up police officers, sobs have often been heard all around Courtroom 201 at the Arapahoe County Justice Center, from the victims’ families, the jury box, and members of the media.

May 1, 2015

Insane or evil? Trial fills in details of Colorado movie gunman Holmes

By Keith Coffman and Daniel Wallis

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Reuters) – Harrowing accounts from survivors dominated the first week of Colorado’s movie theater massacre trial, but amid the tears a much more detailed picture emerged of gunman James Holmes, his personal life, and his deadly plan.

    Prosecutors seeking the death penalty for the 27-year-old former neuroscience graduate student, and his public defenders, have filled in many of the gaps left when a judge sealed much of the key evidence in the 2012 mass shooting case.

Apr 30, 2015

Carjacker gets 80 years for Colorado crime spree caught on live TV

DENVER (Reuters) – A gun-toting felon whose two-hour carjacking and crime spree in Colorado last year played out on live television filmed from a news helicopter has been sentenced to 80 years in prison, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Christopher David Sullivan, 37, pleaded guilty last month to 46 charges including aggravated robbery, menacing with a deadly weapon and first-degree assault, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Apr 27, 2015

Colorado cinema massacre trial to get under way

By Keith Coffman and Daniel Wallis

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (Reuters) – Colorado’s long-awaited cinema massacre trial will begin on Monday with jurors asked to decide whether gunman James Holmes was insane when he killed a dozen moviegoers in 2012, or a calculating mass murderer who deserves execution.

Public defenders trying to spare the life of the one-time neuroscience graduate student, and prosecutors seeking the death penalty, are set to present their opening statements in a courtroom on the outskirts of Denver.

Apr 22, 2015

Utah lawmaker invokes Mormon prophet grandpa in medical pot plea

By Daniel Wallis

(Reuters) – A Utah state senator has invoked the legacy of his Mormon prophet grandfather in a video in which he describes almost overdosing on prescription opiates and vows to reintroduce a medical marijuana bill that was narrowly defeated this year.

Mark Benson Madsen, a Saratoga Springs Republican, is pushing for the conservative state to permit medicinal pot and seeking to enlist the support of Mormon voters after his proposed legislation failed to pass the legislature last month by just one vote.

Apr 20, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court rejects appeal over Arizona ‘fish pedicures’

April 20 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday
rejected an appeal by the owner a Phoenix-area spa that ran
afoul of Arizona state regulations that barred her from
providing pedicures in which clients have their feet nibbled by
small fish to remove dead skin.

The high court’s action, made without comment by the
justices, ends a years-long case over fish pedicures, which have
become a popular alternative to exfoliation for some spa-goers
in recent years but are banned in some U.S. states for health
and safety reasons.

Apr 7, 2015

Terrified fliers confront fears in Phoenix airport class

PHOENIX, April 7 (Reuters) – Heidi Cattey first became
scared of flying when she saw news reports of hijackers seizing
planes in the 1980s.

A decade later, she mistook vapor in the cabin of a flight
in Texas for smoke from a fire, flipped out and hasn’t flown

    • About Daniel

      "Daniel used to work for The Times newspaper and PA News agency in London before joining Reuters in 2003. Since then he has reported on political, general and economic news from across east Africa, Iraq and Latin America."
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