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The Latest: Erdogan says Russian defense missiles on track
Fri, June 28, 2019 11:32 EDT
OSAKA, Japan (AP) — The Latest on the Group of 20 summit meetings in Osaka, Japan (all times local):
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he expects the scheduled delivery of Russian air defense missiles under a contract that has vexed the United States.
Erdogan said Saturday at the start of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, that the deal is a priority and the delivery of the S-400 air defense systems should start without delay.
The U.S. has strongly urged NATO member Turkey to pull back from the deal, but Ankara has refused to budge and the first shipments are expected next month. It would mark the first such deal between Russia and a NATO member.
Putin hailed growing bilateral trade and a rising flow of Russian tourists to Turkey.
Russia and Turkey have closely coordinated their actions in Syria, signing a de-escalation deal for the northwestern province of Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold.
That deal has recently been tested by increased fighting, raising the prospect of a government offensive and a major humanitarian crisis.
President Donald Trump has sat down for talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Osaka.
The two leaders spoke of good intentions as the meeting began Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan.
Their discussions are expected to focus at least in part on the bitter dispute over technology and trade that has triggered a tariffs war between the two largest economies.
Xi started his comments with a reference to “ping-pong diplomacy” that launched the U.S. normalization of relations with Beijing nearly 50 years ago.
He noted that “cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation.” He added that, “Today I’m prepared to exchange views with you concerning the growth of U.S.-China relations so as to set the direction for our relationship.”
Group of 20 leaders have joined their host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in showcasing support for helping women close the gap with men in finance and other forms of economic empowerment.
Ivanka Trump, adviser to President Donald Trump, said Saturday that the world economy would get a boost of up to $28 trillion by 2025 if women were on an equal economic footing. She was speaking at a special session on the issue at the G-20 summit in Osaka that included her father. She described improving the status of women as “smart economic and defense policy.”
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the U.N. secretary-general’s special advocate for inclusive finance for development, says “it is really necessary to close this gap for women to be economically empowered.”
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Conviction comes after DNA, family tree crack 1987 killings
Fri, June 28, 2019 08:04 EDT
EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A jury convicted a Washington state man Friday in the killings of a young Canadian couple more than three decades ago — a case that was finally solved when investigators turned to powerful genealogy software to build a family tree of the then-unknown suspect.
Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, and her 20-year-old boyfriend, Jay Cook, disappeared in November 1987 after leaving their home near Victoria, British Columbia, for what was supposed to be an overnight trip to Seattle. Their bodies were found in separate locations in northwestern Washington state about a week later.
Investigators preserved DNA evidence that was recovered from Van Cuylenborg’s body and pants, but they didn’t know whose it was until last year. Authorities used genetic genealogy to identify the suspect as William Earl Talbott II, a construction worker and truck driver who was 24 at the time of the killings and lived near where Cook’s body was discovered.
The genealogy technique has revolutionized cold-case investigations across the U.S. in the past year. It involves entering crime-scene DNA profiles into public genealogy databases, finding relatives of the person who left the DNA and building family trees that lead detectives to a suspect.
Talbott did not testify during the trial in Snohomish County Superior Court, and the jury rejected the suggestion from his lawyers that he had sex with Van Cuylenborg but did not kill her or her boyfriend. It’s still unknown how Talbott encountered the pair and what happened during their final days.
“It’s been such a long wait for all of us,” John Van Cuylenborg, Tanya’s older brother, said after the verdict in a video posted by The Daily Herald newspaper . “It feels great to have some answers. We don’t have all the answers, but we have a lot more than we had for 31 years.”
When the couple didn’t return from their trip as scheduled, their families began a frantic search for them, including renting a plane to try to spot the copper-colored Ford van they had been driving.
About a week later, Van Cuylenborg’s body was found down an embankment in a rural area north of Seattle. She had been shot in the back of the head.
Hunters found Cook dead two days later in brush near a bridge over the Snoqualmie River — about 60 miles (95 kilometers) from where his girlfriend was discovered. He had been beaten with rocks and strangled with twine and two red dog collars, authorities said.
Talbott flinched and gasped when the jury read its verdict, then was pushed out of the courtroom in a wheelchair, the newspaper reported.
He is one of dozens of suspects authorities have arrested in old cases over the past year through the genetic genealogy, including a California man charged in the Golden State Killer case. The serial attacker killed 13 people and raped nearly 50 women during the 1970s and 1980s.
In Talbott’s case, a genetic genealogist used a DNA profile entered into the GEDmatch database to identify distant cousins of the suspect, build a family tree linking those cousins and figure out that the sample must have come from a male child of William and Patricia Talbott.
The couple had only one son: William Talbott II.
Once Talbott was identified as a suspect, investigators tailed him, saw him discard a coffee cup and then tested the DNA from the cup, confirming it matched evidence from the crime, prosecutor Justin Harleman told jurors during the trial.
“The use of GEDmatch — I hope more and more people will be willing to allow their DNA on these sites so that this world can be safer,” said Cook’s sister, Laura Baanstra.
This story has been corrected to show Talbott’s name was misspelled on second reference.
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DMZ, where Trump may meet Kim, is a vestige of Cold War
By HYUNG-JIN KIM | Sat, June 29, 2019 02:48 EDT
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Demilitarized Zone, where U.S. President Donald Trump wants to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday, may be the most heavily fortified strip of land in the world and serves as an uneasy and occasionally bloody borderline between the two Koreas.
There isn’t much demilitarized about it: A minefield laced with barbed wire, it’s guarded by combat-ready troops on both sides and has been the site of numerous, sometimes deadly gun-battles and skirmishes. U.S. presidents and other top officials have often travelled to the DMZ to reaffirm their commitment to the defense of ally South Korea in times of hostility with North Korea.
If Kim accepts Trump’s offer for a cross-border handshake, the most likely spot inside the DMZ where the two can meet is the Korean border village of Panmunjom. Last year, Kim stepped over into the southern side of Panmunjom for a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, becoming the first North Korean leader to set foot on South Korean land.
Here’s a look at a border that could once again be a part of history:
The DMZ, which runs across the Korean Peninsula, is 248 kilometers (154 miles) long and the 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) wide. Created as a buffer at the close of the 1950-53 Korean War, it’s jointly overseen by the American-led U.N. Command and North Korea.
Hundreds of thousands of North and South Korean troops are now deployed along the DMZ, which is littered with an estimated 2 million mines, tank traps, razor wire fences and guard posts.
It’s extremely rare for anyone to cross the DMZ in unauthorized areas. More than 30,000 North Koreans have escaped to South Korea for political and economic reasons since the war’s end, but mostly via the North’s long, porous border with China.
Violence was more common in the Cold War, but a 2015 land mine blast blamed on North Korea maimed two South Korean soldiers and pushed the rival Koreas to the brink of an armed conflict.
As relations improved last year, Kim and Moon agreed on several deals aimed at reducing animosity at the border. They removed mines from certain areas, dismantled some of their guard posts and halted frontline live-fire exercises. Experts say tensions can easily return if diplomacy eventually fails to end the North Korean nuclear stalemate.
If Trump is going to meet Kim inside the DMZ, Panmunjom is the most likely place. It has been the venue for past high-level talks. It’s somewhat safer than other areas, and it is just an hour’s drive from Seoul, where Trump will meet with Moon. Most past DMZ visits by U.S. presidents and other officials happened at Panmunjom and nearby areas.
North and South Korean troops stand only several meters (yards) away from each other there. They once carried pistols, but since last year’s deals they aren’t armed.
Panmunjom is also where an armistice was signed to stop the Korean War. That armistice has yet to be replaced with a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula in a technical state of war. About 28,500 American troops are still stationed in South Korea.
Panmunjom is 52 kilometers (32 miles) north of Seoul and 147 kilometers (91 miles) south of Pyongyang.
Since the armistice, more than 830 rounds of talks have been held in various Panmunjom conference rooms.
Panmunjom is where, during his first summit with Moon in April 2018, Kim stepped across the concrete slabs that form the military demarcation line and the leaders shook hands. Kim then took Moon’s hand and led him back across the borderline into the North, where they posed for a photo together before returning to the South for a summit.
Before that, the most famous incident at Panmunjom happened in 1976, when ax-wielding North Korean soldiers killed two U.S. officers sent out to trim a tree that obstructed the view from a checkpoint. Washington sent nuclear-capable bombers toward the DMZ in response. Animosities eased after then leader Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong Un, expressed regret over the incident.
In 2017, North Korean soldiers sprayed bullets at a colleague who was making a dash for the border. He survived and now lives in South Korea.
PAST PRESIDENTIAL VISITS
In 1993, President Bill Clinton visited Panmunjom when the North Korean nuclear crisis first flared. In 2002, President George W. Bush visited the DMZ a few weeks after he labeled North Korea part of an “axis of evil.”
In March 2012, Kim Jong Un came down to Panmunjom and met front-line North Korean troops in his first known visit to the area since taking power in late 2011. He gave the troops rifles and machine guns as souvenirs and ordered them to maintain “maximum alertness,” according to state media.
Days after Kim’s Panmunjom trip and ahead of a planned North Korean long-range rocket launch, President Barack Obama visited a front-line U.S. military camp just south of the DMZ and told American troops they are protectors of “freedom’s frontier.”
In November 2017, Trump planned to visit the DMZ with Moon to underscore his stance on North Korea’s nuclear program, but his plans were thwarted by heavy fog that prevented his helicopter from landing at the border.
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Police arrest man suspected of killing Utah college student
By LINDSAY WHITEHURST | Fri, June 28, 2019 09:56 EDT
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah college student missing 11 days was abducted and killed and her remains burned in the yard of a man now facing aggravated murder and other charges, authorities said Friday.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown, who became emotional at times during a morning press conference, said Ayoola A. Ajayi will be charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping, obstruction of justice and desecration of a body in the death of 23-year-old Mackenzie Lueck.
He was arrested without incident Friday morning by a SWAT team.
Ajayi, 31, is an information technology worker who attended college on and off but never earned a degree and was briefly in the Army National Guard but didn’t complete basic training.
He doesn’t have a criminal record, according to online court information, but a northern Utah police department said he was accused of a rape in 2014. Police investigated but the alleged victim, an adult woman, declined to pursue charges, North Park police said in a news release.
Brown said telling the missing woman’s parents in Southern California was “one of the most difficult phone calls I’ve ever made.” Her parents are “devastated and heartbroken by this news.”
Lueck disappeared on June 17, after she returned from a trip home for her grandmother’s funeral and took a Lyft ride from the airport to a park north of Salt Lake City. She was last seen apparently willingly meeting someone there at about 3 a.m.
Her text conversation with Ajayi was her last communication and phone location data shows them both at the park within a minute of each other, Brown said.
“This was the same time as Mackenzie’s phone stopped receiving any further data or location services,” he said.
He declined to say whether or how exactly they knew each other. Ajayi has acknowledged texting with Lueck around 6 p.m. on June 16, but denied talking to her later, knowing what she looked like or having seen any online profile for her — despite having several photos, including a profile picture, Brown said.
The police chief said investigators were seeking to determine if others were involved. A second person was questioned at the time of his arrest and later released, Brown said.
Police have not discussed a motive for the killing, or specified a cause of death. A judge ordered Ajayi held without bail. It was not known if he has an attorney to speak on his behalf. He had not returned previous messages from The Associated Press prior to his arrest.
After discovering that Ajayi was the last person Lueck communicated with, police searched his home on Wednesday and Thursday. Police Thursday described him as a “person of interest.”
In his backyard, they said they found a “fresh dig area,” and charred items that belonged to Lueck. They also found burned human remains that matched her DNA profile, Brown said.
Ajayi has worked in information technology for several companies including Dell and Goldman Sachs, according to his LinkedIn page. Goldman Sachs confirmed he worked as a contract employee for less than a year at the Salt Lake City office ending in August 2018. Dell said Ajayi had worked there but didn’t provide his dates of employment.
Ajayi also appeared to have pursued employment in modeling with a bio page on a website called modelmanagement.com. Court records show he is divorced.
Lueck was a part-time senior at the University of Utah studying kinesiology and pre-nursing, and was expected to graduate in Spring 2020. She had been a student since 2014 and had an off-campus apartment. The university offered counseling services to any students or staffers affected by her death.
She is from El Segundo in the Los Angeles area and flew to California for a funeral before returning to Salt Lake City, police said. Her family reported her missing on June 20 and became more concerned after she missed a planned flight back to Los Angeles last weekend.
Lueck’s uncle, who did not provide his name at the police press conference, held back tears as he read a statement from her family thanking the investigators for their work.
“They’re also grateful to her community, her friends and others around the nation who have supported this investigation,” he said.
She was a bubbly, nurturing person who helped others and took care of animals like guinea pigs, hedgehogs and cats, friends have said. They did not respond to requests for comment after the arrest was announced.
Lueck’s sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, said in a statement the group is grieving her loss and hoping the members closest to her can find comfort as they remember her lasting impact on her loved ones.
Associated Press writers Brady McCombs and Morgan Smith contributed to this report.
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Alabama woman charged in fetal death, her shooter goes free
By BLAKE PATERSON | Fri, June 28, 2019 06:37 EDT
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama district attorney’s office hasn’t decided whether to prosecute a woman indicted for manslaughter after she lost her fetus when she was shot during a fight.
Marshae Jones was five months pregnant when 23-year-old Ebony Jemison shot her in the stomach during a December altercation over the fetus’s father, authorities said.
Jemison was initially charged with manslaughter, but a Jefferson County grand jury declined to indict her after police said an investigation determined Jones started the fight, and Jemison ultimately fired in self-defense. Jones, 28, was indicted by that same grand jury Wednesday.
The indictment stated Jones did “intentionally cause the death” of “Unborn Baby Jones by initiating a fight knowing she was five months pregnant.”
However, the office of District Attorney Lynneice O. Washington said there has been no decision on whether to pursue the case against Jones.
With Washington out of the country, her chief assistant D.A. Valerie Hicks Powe put out a statement expressing “sympathy for all the families involved, including Mrs. Jones, who lost her unborn child.” Both prosecutors are African American women; Washington took office in 2017 as the first black female district attorney to be elected in Alabama.
While the grand jury “had its say,” Powe said the office has “not yet made a determination about whether to prosecute it as a manslaughter case, reduce it to a lesser charge or not to prosecute it.” She promised a thorough review and “an outcome that is most just for all the parties involved.”
“Foremost, it should be stated that this is a truly tragic case, resulting in the death of an unborn child,” she said. “The fact that this tragedy was 100 percent avoidable makes this case even more disheartening.”
A Birmingham law firm, White Arnold & Dowd, said in a statement Friday that it is representing Jones.
“Marshae has been subjected to extraordinary violence, trauma and loss over the past year,” the statement reads, adding that Jones recently lost her home to a fire and lost her job. “Now, for reasons that defy imagination, she faces an unprecedented legal action that subjects this victim of violence to further distress and harm.”
The law firm also noted that Jones has no criminal history and is raising a young daughter.
Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid had called the fetus “the only true victim,” having been brought unnecessarily into a fight and “dependent on its mother to try to keep it from harm.”
A 2006 Alabama law allows homicide charges to be brought when a fetus or embryo is killed. The law was named “Brody’s Law” on behalf of the unborn son of Brandy Parker, who was nearly nine months pregnant when she was shot and killed in 2005. Lawmakers said at the time that would allow for two murder charges when a pregnant woman is killed.
However, a section of the 2006 law also notes that the provision does not authorize prosecution of a “woman with respect to her unborn child.” That wording could become an issue in the case against Jones.
Advocates for women’s rights expressed outrage over Jones’ arrest.
Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said women across the country have been prosecuted for manslaughter or murder for having an abortion or experiencing a miscarriage.
She said Alabama currently leads the nation in charging women for crimes related to their pregnancies. She said hundreds have been prosecuted for running afoul of the state’s “chemical endangerment of a child” statute by exposing their embryo or fetus to controlled substances.
But this is the first time she’s heard of a pregnant woman being charged after getting shot.
“This takes us to a new level of inhumanity and illegality towards pregnant women,” Paltrow said. “I can’t think of any other circumstance where a person who themselves is a victim of a crime is treated as the criminal.”
The district attorney’s office said it will decide how to proceed “only after all due diligence has been performed.”
Alabama is one of dozens of states that have fetal homicide laws allowing criminal charges when fetuses are killed in violent acts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Jones’ arrest also drew criticism from the Yellowhammer Fund, which raises money to help women have access to abortions.
“The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act,” said Amanda Reyes, the group’s director.
Associated Press reporters Jeff Martin in Atlanta and Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama, contributed to this report.