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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The FBI has surrounded the remaining occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, the bureau said in a statement Wednesday night.

According to the agency, one of the occupiers rode an ATV outside the barricades established by the militia. When the FBI tried to approach the driver, he sped back, they said.

The FBI said that it has secured barricades both in front of and behind where the occupiers are camping.

The bureau said negotiations continue.

“It has never been the FBI’s desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue, and to that end, the FBI has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully," said Greg Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. "However, we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene, and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area.”

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Ramin Talaie/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  The Justice Department has filed a federal lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri, after the city rejected a deal that would have brought sweeping changes to its embattled police department, which allegedly engaged in "racially discriminatory policing."

The lawsuit, announced Wednesday by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, alleges a pattern or practice of law enforcement conduct that violates the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as federal civil rights laws and says the citizens there "have waited decades for justice."

"The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe," Lynch said. "They have waited nearly a year for their police department to accept rules that would ensure their constitutional rights ... They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer."

Ferguson came under the national spotlight after a city police officer fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August 2014. Officer Darren Wilson was never charged in the shooting, but a Justice Department investigation into the Ferguson police department found what Lynch called "systemic and systematic" racial bias within the force's policing practices.

After the results of that investigation were announced last year, the Justice Department began "painstaking negotiations" lasting 26 weeks, seeking to reach a deal that would address the Justice Department's findings, according to Lynch. An agreement was reached weeks ago, but last night the Ferguson City Council "rejected" the deal "approved by their own negotiators," said Lynch, calling the move "extremely unfortunate" and "profoundly disappoint[ing].

"I think that the city of Ferguson had a real opportunity here to step forward, and instead they’ve chosen to turn backwards," Lynch added. "They’ve chosen to live in the past, and they’ve chosen to adopt a means of really ignoring the voices of their citizens, they’re choosing to ignore the complaints of their citizens."

Ferguson leaders expressed concern that the agreement reached would cost the city up to $3.7 million in the first year alone.

Nevertheless, the failure to reach final agreement left the department "no further choice" but to file suit, said Lynch, whose department is now urging a federal judge to compel a litany of changes within the Ferguson police department.

The lawsuit filed today lays out much of what the department detailed in its 104-page report last year.

According to the Justice Department, from October 2012 to October 2014, African Americans were more than twice as likely to be searched, to receive a citation or to be arrested, than other stopped individuals. In addition, of all incidents from 2010 to August 2014, African Americans accounted for 88 percent of all incidents in which a Ferguson police officer reported using force; and while African Americans make up 67 percent of Ferguson’s population, they made up more than 90 percent of all charges involving "manner of walking in roadway," "failure to comply," "resisting arrest," and "disturbing the peace."

"The city and residents of Ferguson deserve what every American is guaranteed under the Constitution: the right to be free from excessive force, from unconstitutional stops [and] from unconstitutional arrests," Lynch said during her announcement today. "We intend to aggressively prosecute this case and we intend to prevail."

The City of Ferguson said it is aware of news reports about the expected suit but had no immediate comment.

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(BAYONNE, New Jersey) --  The Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was rocked by stormy weather arrived back in New Jersey Wednesday night, where it is expected to be inspected by the Coast Guard.

The Anthem of the Seas arrived in Bayonne, New Jersey around 9 p.m.

The ship, which left from the same port on Saturday and was due to head out on a week-long cruise to the Bahamas, was supposed to arrive sooner after the captain made the decision to turn around, but that arrival time was pushed back further because the "weather isn't great," a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said on Tuesday.

"The Captain has been very sensitive to the rough ride guests have already experienced. So he's slowed down his speed to smooth it out," the spokesperson said.

Coast Guard officials are expected to be on hand to inspect the ship.

"The Coast Guard will participate in an investigation that will help determine if there are any contributing causal factors or lessons learned from this event that could help prevent injuries or damage in the future, as occurs with any commercial vessel operating in U.S. waters under similar circumstances," the Coast Guard said in a statement released Wednesday.

In a statement Wednesday night, the cruise line apologized "for exposing our guests and crew to the weather they faced, and for what they went through."

They said the ship encountered "sustained 120-mph winds" which "far exceeded forecasts."

"Even so, it is our responsibility to eliminate every surprise we possibly can," said the company, which plans to bolster its planning system going forward.


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iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) --  Two Maryland police officers died Wednesday from injuries sustained in a shootout with a suspect, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.

“It is with great sadness that I tell you that both deputies that were shot earlier today have succumbed to their injuries,” Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler said on Wednesday.

The two sheriff’s deputies were responding to a call at a shopping center in Abingdon, Maryland, when they were fired upon, authorities said. The suspect injured one of the officers and fled the scene. The second deputy followed in pursuit and was also wounded.

Additional deputies onsite exchanged gunfire with the suspect and fatally wounded him, authorities said, noting he was pronounced dead at the scene. At least one of the deputies was airlifted to an area trauma center.

There are no additional suspects or threats to the community, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. The officers’ identities have not been released.


The suspect has been identified by police as 67-year-old David Evans. He had two outstanding warrants--one of which was a Florida criminal warrant for assaulting a police officer. That incident is still under investigation.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan released a statement on the shooting, saying he was “heartbroken.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hundreds of manatees have gathered together in a Florida spring to escape the winter chill, drawing scores of visitors.

While there are believed to be more than 1,000 manatees currently gathered in Kings Bay, the headwaters of the Crystal River in Florida, most of the animals are crowded together in a one acre-area of the 60-acre bay known as Three Sisters Springs, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official.

For decades, hundreds of manatees have swum to the bay every winter to escape the Gulf of Mexico's cold waters, according Ivan Vicente, a visitor services specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.

But this year, the bay is believed to be seeing the largest number of manatees ever gathered together in recent history, Vicente told ABC News today. He added that an official state survey would confirm the 1,000 estimate this Saturday.

 The Three Sisters Springs in particular are seeing an "overwhelming" number of manatees, Vicente said.

"The waters in this particular area appear to be the most ideal wintering habitat for manatees in Kings Bay," he explained. "The water is just over 72 degrees, which is nice and warm for them. The water is shallow and the area is confined by beautiful trees that protect it from harsh winds."

 Visitors have been flocking to the Three Sisters Springs area to see and photograph the gentle giants snuggled together up close.

The manatees – which are on average 10 feet long and weigh 1,500 pounds – "can rest in these springs for weeks and weeks without food," Vicente said. "Not having food isn't a problem as long as the manatees can do so without too much disturbance from humans, so they can conserve their energy."

However, manatees may sometimes "take a break from resting" and "get very, very close to people" since they're "very curious creatures," Vicente said.

But there's no need worry if the animals do get close to visitors, as manatees are not known to be violent at all, he said.

"There has never been a recorded manatee-related emergency ever," Vicente joked.


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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Vincent Van Gogh once said, “I’m not an adventurer by choice but by fate.”

Now the Art Institute of Chicago is launching an interactive experience that will allow you to live out your own artistic adventure just like the painter.

With the help of Airbnb, you can stay in an exact replica of Van Gogh’s famous “The Bedroom” from his beloved “Yellow House” for just $10 a night. The masterpiece was created to celebrate the Art Institute’s exhibition of “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” series, which runs through May 10.

"Response has been great so far," Art Institute spokeswoman Amanda Hicks wrote to ABC News. "We're releasing the rooms in cascading blocks, so that people can have multiple opportunities to check in and grab a night during the run of the Van Gogh exhibition (Feb 14 - May 10). We have two re-creations of the bedroom in play right now. The one we did as the AirBnB venue, and another one in the museum itself that is a to-scale replica built on a gallery floor that marks out the actual blueprint of the second story of Van Gogh's yellow house in Arles, France.

“The re-created bedroom in the museum is an immersive digital/sound experience, surrounded by big screens that scroll images and text from Van Gogh's letters and sketchbooks, with music tying it all together. It's really exciting!"

Van Gogh’s actual “Yellow House” was located in Arles, France, and the recreated room is in the Chicago neighborhood of River North.

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ANDER GILLENEA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is considering a possible investigation into events surrounding the storm that rocked a cruise ship off the Carolina coast and forced it to turn around.

Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Anthem of the Seas left New Jersey on Saturday headed for a week-long trip to the Bahamas, but abandoned its course Monday after experiencing hurricane-force winds and waves reaching 40 feet on Sunday.

Now, after receiving a request from a U.S. senator, the NTSB may investigate in conjunction with another investigation that is already underway.

The NTSB is already investigating the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro in October after it left Florida for Puerto Rico.

"That investigation includes a weather group that is investigating TOTE Maritime’s decision-making processes regarding vessel operations in hurricanes and other heavy weather occurrences," the NTSB said in a statement released Tuesday, referencing the owner of the El Faro. "The Anthem of the Seas incident may provide us an additional opportunity to learn best practices that cruise line operators employ for operating in heavy weather.”

The cruise ship is now headed back to its home port in Bayonne, New Jersey, and is expected to dock at around 9 p.m. Wednesday.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(WASHINGTON) -- Floridian Ralph Soles, 74, said he was caught transporting methamphetamine into New Zealand two years ago. He was arrested and spent the next 18 months in custody, he said, eventually gaining his release on appeal.

“I lost a lot,” Soles said. “When I came home, I didn’t have a home. I didn’t have a home to go home to.”

The Lakeland, Florida, resident is one of dozens of elderly U.S. citizens who’ve been unwittingly conned into becoming drug mules, officials say.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) announced on Wednesday an investigation into the scam for the first time and issued a warning at a Senate hearing convened by the Special Committee on Aging.

“Those who target vulnerable populations, to include our elderly, are among the worst kinds of criminals,” ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña said.

ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and CBP, along with foreign counterparts as a part of "Operation Cocoon," have intercepted 144 people who were allegedly transporting drugs, which included methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy and heroin, according to ICE.

Fifteen people affiliated with a transnational criminal organization were also arrested in connection to these alleged crimes, ICE said.

More than 30 elderly U.S. citizens are still incarcerated overseas in connection with the drug scam, according to investigators.

The average age of the conned narcotics couriers was 59, ICE says. The oldest individual involved in the scheme was 97, but he was stopped by HSI agents before leaving the United States, according to ICE.

Before Soles traveled overseas, he said he was emailed repeatedly by a man who said he wanted to invest in Soles’ company.

Soles, who at the time managed investments in commercial businesses and properties, said he eventually responded to the man, who called himself “Lawrence Green.”

The so-called Green and Soles began talking on the phone and became friends, he said.

In 2013, he got on a plane for Johannesburg, South Africa, to meet with Green to “set-up a bank account,” Soles said. But when he arrived, he added, Green informed him that he had gone on vacation to Fiji and asked Soles to meet him there.

So Soles said he agreed to make what he thought was a business trip.

Before taking off, Soles was asked to bring a suitcase with him, he said, adding that a man brought the suitcase to Soles’ hotel, where he said he looked inside and saw nothing but clothes.

The first leg of his flight took him through Bangkok, Thailand, where he said he went in and out of the airport during his layover, he said. He then flew for the second leg to New Zealand, where he was stopped by authorities, Soles said.

“They knew what they were looking for, because there was something in that suitcase,” he said.

He was arrested, convicted and spent a total of 13 months behind bars, he said, eventually gaining his release after being acquitted at a second trial.

The scammers entice their victims, like Soles, with the promise of an inheritance or business opportunity and then a request that they fly to various countries to meet with “attorneys” or “business partners,” ICE officials said.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Special Committee on Aging, said in her opening statement Wednesday, “Once the seniors are ensnared, the criminals then deceive them into smuggling drugs by asking them to travel overseas, where they are given packages with unknown contents to carry across international borders.”

The seemingly harmless items have included chocolates, picture frames, tea, markers, canned goods, shampoo bottles, soap and wooden hangers that actually conceal drugs, which can result in arrest and detention by authorities.

Soles said he later found out that drugs had been sewn into the lining of the suitcase he was asked to take.

He said he wants the U.S. government to get more involved in helping the elderly in similar situations abroad and is speaking out so others who are still in jail overseas don’t feel as alone.

“I’m 74 years old,” he said. “I lost basically two years of my life. I got a heck of an education.”

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- An Alaska Airlines flight made an unscheduled landing in Denver after a passenger became agitated and “issued a threat,” according to an Alaska Airlines spokesperson.

Scheduled to fly directly to San Diego, Flight 769 departed Boston Logan International Airport around 6:30 p.m. ET Tuesday before a male passenger, whom the airline said was intoxicated, in row 13 became upset and began verbally abusing others on the flight, according to the airline.

The flight crew asked the disruptive man to calm down and intervened several times, the airline said, but the agitated passenger then threatened the safety of the flight.

The captain decided to land at the nearest airport “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the airline, causing a 45-minute delay for the flight.

Video of the incident shows passengers applauding when the unruly passenger was removed from the plane.

While the Denver airport called the incident a “customer service issue only,” the Federal Aviation Administration deemed it a “security issue.”

No arrests were made, according to the airport in Denver.

The flight landed in San Diego at 10:18 p.m. PT., according to flight tracking website FlightAware.com.

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ABC News(BALTIMORE) — His story has been heard by millions since the 2014 launch of investigative podcast, Serial, turning listeners into armchair detectives.

Adnan Syed was convicted in the 1999 murder of his high school ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, who was found strangled in a Baltimore park. At age 17, Syed was arrested and later sentenced to life in prison. His attempts to appeal were unsuccessful until a Maryland court agreed to give him another chance to present new evidence –- including an alibi witness.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Asia McClain explained why she is speaking up 17 years later.

“I was compelled by my children. Keeping that legacy, integrity, and stepping up to tell the truth was very important to me," she said. "I want my kids to know their mom was strong."

McClain testified during Syed’s post-conviction hearing last week, saying she spoke with him at the public library on Jan. 13, 1999 at the very time the state says Syed killed Lee.

“I just happened to be at a specific place at a specific time,” she says.

McClain says she didn’t rehearse for her testimony, and was nervous. She also avoided making any eye contact with Syed during her testimony.

"I didn’t know what the temperament of the prosecutor was going to be," she said. "Just not knowing what to expect was a little fearful."

Though she testified for Syed, she recognizes that the decision as to whether Syed will get a new trial ultimately lies with the judge. The state maintains he belongs behind bars.

“I hope that enough information was presented to the judge for him to be able to make a rational decision," she said. "Whatever that might be, is in his hands.”

And her message to Syed?

“I would just personally apologize that I didn’t come forward in 2010," she said, of when the defense lawyer reached out to her to testify.


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Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — The lead lawyer for former pharmaceutical company CEO Martin Shkreli is firing back at lawmakers on Capitol Hill after his controversial client was sharply questioned at a hearing last week on drug prices, defending his client's tweet that referred to members of Congress as "imbeciles."

In a letter published online by the New York Law Journal, Benjamin Brafman, a defense attorney who has represented musicians Jay-Z, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Michael Jackson, accused the House Oversight Committee -- which subpoenaed Shkreli -- of ordering the "Pharma Bro's" appearance to "publicly humiliate him."

"They demanded his appearance and then ridiculed and condemned him for invoking his constitutional rights that Congress is expected to respect and defend, not ridicule," he said.

The 32-year old Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, was heavily criticized after Turing dramatically raised the price of a drug used to treat parasitic infections, from $13.50 to $750.

Shkreli, who also faces an unrelated securities fraud charge, invoked his Fifth Amendment right at the hearing and did not answer lawmakers' questions -- only responding in a tweet as he left Capitol Hill.

Brafman defended the tweet as the expression of “raw outrage at the forced spectacle he was required to participate in.”

A spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee did not immediately return a request for comment.

Shkreli, who has pleaded not guilty to the securities fraud charges, will next appear in federal court on May 3.

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Courtesy Sean Ferguson(NEW YORK) -- The captain of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was rocked by terrifying, hurricane-force winds off the coast of the Carolinas Sunday told passengers that the forecast wasn't "anything near what we actually experienced."

"What we experienced yesterday, that was something very special," Anthem of the Seas' ship master Claus Andre Andersen said in a video produced by Royal Caribbean on Monday. "I honestly have not seen a low pressure that was not forecasted, anything near what we actually experienced."

The captain's video aired on an in-house channel in guest staterooms Monday, one day after passengers and crew members endured wind gusts topping 76 miles per hour and waves nearly 40 feet high. The rough seas forced the captain to turn the Bahamas-bound ship around.

In Royal Caribbean's video, which passenger Sean Ferguson filmed and provided to ABC News, Andersen tells the cruise director that at 10 a.m. Sunday, "everything was nice and dandy." At 1 p.m., after speaking on the phone with the Miami office, Andersen walked onto the bridge as the winds started to pick up.

That's when Andersen noticed the wind was "stronger than what it was forecasted. Quite a bit stronger...it just didn't stop."

"It just became so intensified. In eight or nine hours, it goes from being nothing to a full-blown storm," he said.

The weather toppled chairs, broke ceilings and shattered glasses. No one was seriously injured. Passenger Jessica Sheridan, who's on the ship with her husband and 20-month-old son, told ABC News Tuesday that she was afraid for her life as the boat tipped side to side.

Anthem of the Seas originally left Cape Liberty, New Jersey, on Saturday for a seven-night cruise to the Bahamas. The 10-month-old ship has 2,090 staterooms and can hold over 4,000 guests. After the storm, Royal Caribbean announced that the ship would be heading to Port Canaveral, Florida. However, on Monday, the cruise line announced that the ship was turning around and is now headed back to port in New Jersey, where it's expected to arrive early Wednesday evening.

The captain addressed the change of plans in the Monday video, saying a low pressure system was expected to form off Florida’s Atlantic coast near Jacksonville, Florida, fueled by the storm system in the ocean, and that could "be very, very strong, as well."

While the ship was safe, the captain said "there is no need" to "make guests and crew that have already been scared or been in fear ... to have that manifested again."

He also said Nassau -- one of the planned stops and where is said this new weather system might affect -- is "notorious" for strong winds.

Andersen said the "right thing to do" was "return to New York."

He said the ship handled the weather very well.

"I'm very pleased with the ship and its condition," he said. "Yes it was uncomfortable ... very scary for many."

"You are always, always on my mind," he said looking at the camera to the guests, explaining that the safety and comfort of guests, the crew and the ship is paramount.

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson told ABC News earlier Tuesday, "We are sensitive to the fact that our guests went through an uncomfortable ride."

"Every time one of our ships sets sail, our single focus is to give our guests a wonderful, outstanding vacation," the spokesperson said. "Clearly, due to the weather, we were unable to deliver the Royal Caribbean cruise vacation anticipated, and that we were looking forward to providing. The Anthem team maintained a safe environment, continued to deliver needed services, and did their best to reassure worried guests."

Royal Caribbean noted Monday that the ship’s seaworthiness had not been affected in spite of the "extreme wind and sea conditions" which included "wind speeds higher than what was forecasted."

"We know it was tough day on Sunday and apologize for their discomfort," Royal Caribbean said in a statement Monday. "We also thank our captain and crew for guiding the ship safely back to better weather."

"Safety is our highest priority and ships are designed to withstand even more extreme circumstances than Anthem of the Seas encountered," the statement said.

The company said on Twitter that all guests were “safe and accounted for" and that all guests will receive a full refund and a future cruise certificate for 50 percent of the cruise fare paid.

The National Transportation Safety Board noted Tuesday that the incident "occurred in international waters and involved a Bahamian-flagged vessel, and we are actively engaged with our U.S. and international partners to determine what would be the best course of action, in accordance with established international protocols."

"In addition, we have received correspondence from Sen. Bill Nelson urging that the NTSB review this incident as part of its investigation into the El Faro accident," the NTSB added. "That investigation includes a weather group that is investigating TOTE Maritime’s decision-making processes regarding vessel operations in hurricanes and other heavy weather occurrences. The Anthem of the Seas incident may provide us an additional opportunity to learn best practices that cruise line operators employ for operating in heavy weather."

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Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- The fate of Adnan Syed -- the man at the center of Serial -- now rests in the hands of a retired Baltimore City judge, who says he will make a decision about whether or not Syed gets a new trial in the coming weeks.

Syed, a convicted killer, has spent 16 years in prison, after the state says he killed his former high school classmate Hae Min Lee. The pair had dated. Lee was found strangled in Leakin Park in 1999.

“I am proud to represent this man,” said C. Justin Brown, at the start of his closing arguments standing next to a jumpsuit-clad Syed, hands shackled at the waist. “He didn’t kill Hae Min Lee. He couldn’t have.”

The court reopened Syed’s 2012 post-conviction hearing so that his lawyers could present new evidence thanks in part to “Serial.” The post-conviction hearing was originally slated to last three days but went on for five because of the amount of witnesses called to testify. On Tuesday, counsel provided rebuttal evidence and presented their closing arguments, rehashing days’ worth of evidence and testimony before the judge.

“We proved our case, your honor,” Brown said. Syed’s lawyers, Brown and Christopher Nieto, called seven witness during the hearing. They argued for a new trial for Syed on two points: an alibi witness who said she saw Syed at the Woodlawn Public Library at the same time the state says he killed Lee but was never sought out for her testimony in Syed’s 2000 trial, and cellphone location data that was deemed “unreliable” by AT&T that was used against him during his trial, pinpointing him near the wooded area where Lee was buried.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to present new evidence before the court," Syed said in a statement. "I’m incredibly grateful for the love of my family and friends who stood by me all this time.”

Both of these issues, Syed’s lawyers say, are due to “failures” of Syed’s 2000 trial lawyer Cristina Gutierrez. Several of the witnesses Brown and Nieto called previously worked with Gutierrez, each remarking that Gutierrez was overworked and declining in health, unable to perform her job to the best of her abilities.

But in the state’s closing arguments, Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiruvendran Vignarajah called Gutierrez a “meticulous” and “tenacious” lawyer, saying she did everything she could do to “vigorously advocate” for Syed, “pouring every ounce of her great talent” into defending him.

“To have her name smeared as it is, as a vehicle to make this case…it is not fair,” Vignarajah said.

The state called only two witnesses of its own to testify against Syed: a former Woodlawn Public Library security guard, and FBI Special Agent Chad Fitzgerald, who corroborated the testimony of a cellphone expert who placed Syed at the scene of the burial.

The security guard was called to verify that there were not security cameras in the library. However during testimony he said “it’s possible” there were.

Perhaps the most crucial part of the hearing was last week, when Brown called Asia McClain (now Campbell) to testify as the alibi witness or “missing piece of the puzzle.”

McClain testified that she was with Syed at the time of the killing, but she says she didn’t call the police initially to divulge her story because of fear.

“I started to call the police and then I chickened out. I think I hung up cuz I got scared.”

She didn’t make herself known to Gutierrez but she wrote letters to Syed. Syed told Gutierrez, didn't pursue the angle.

Before Tuesday, the judge also heard from defense witness David Irwin, an award-winning lawyer with experience both as a prosecutor and defense attorney.

“An alibi witness is the best possible defense you can have,” he said. “The defense, Cristina Gutierrez, was on notice that Asia McClain was an alibi witness. She [was] willing to put herself on the line to tell what she believes is the truth.”

But the victim's family members are still convinced Syed is her killer.

“The events of this past week have reopened wounds few can imagine,” the family said in a statement released Sunday by the Maryland Attorney General’s office. “It remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae. She stood up for what was right, regardless of popular opinion.”

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Nashville Fire Department(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- A fire sparked from a hoverboard destroyed a Tennessee mansion last month, fire officials said, spreading so quickly that a 16-year-old girl had to jump from a second-story window into her father's arms.

On the evening of Jan. 9, two teenagers hid upstairs in their Nashville home after hearing noises coming from the first floor, unaware that they were coming from a Fiturbo F1 hoverboard that had burst into flames, the Nashville Fire Department said in a statement as it unveiled the results on an investigation into the blaze. After the 16-year-old girl jumped from the second floor as smoke approached, the father helped her 14-year-old brother climb down with a ladder, fire officials said.

The teenagers were taken to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt with minor injuries, the fire department said. Their father, who injured his arm while catching his daughter, drove himself to the emergency room.

Nashville Fire Department

The 4,000-square-foot home, worth $1 million, was completely destroyed in the fire, Nashville Fire Department Public Information Officer Brian Haas told ABC News Tuesday. It is unclear if the family will rebuild the home, he added.

The hoverboard that caused the fire was burned so badly that fire officials will likely be unable to determine whether it was charging at the time the fire sparked, Haas said.

"We are fortunate that there were only minor injuries in what was an extremely dangerous fire," Nashville Fire Chief Rick White said. "We hope Nashvillians use extreme caution before purchasing or using these hoverboards."

Nashville Fire Department

After an investigation, the fire department discovered that another Fiturbo F1 hoverboard, bought from the same batch by friends of the family, sparked a small fire in the battery compartment as it was charging, according to the fire department. Only the hoverboard was damaged in that fire.

The Fiturbo F1 hoverboard is no longer available on Amazon.com. A representative for Fiturbo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Nashville Fire Department advised that hoverboard owners always use the manufacturer-supplied charger and to follow the manufacturer's recommended charging times. It also advised against overcharging the devices and leaving a device unattended while it charges.

"If you're going to be charging it, make sure you’re there watching it," Haas said. "Do not leave it plugged in overnight."

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently investigating dozens of fires across the United States thought to be caused by hoverboards, according to the Nashville Fire Department.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Lithium ion batteries power our phones, laptops, and cameras –- but if handled improperly, they also have the power to potentially bring down a plane.

Following a series of disquieting tests, the FAA on Tuesday issued a safety alert warning airlines that transporting these batteries as cargo carries the “risk of a catastrophic hull loss.”

Lithium ion battery fires can lead to a “catastrophic explosion,” which fires suppression systems are “incapable of preventing,” the FAA said in the alert.

Such fires downed Boeing 747s in Dubai and South Korea in 2010 and 2011, killing all crew members (no passengers were on board). Then, a series of battery fires in the batteries of Boeing 787s prompted the FAA to ground the entire Dreamliner fleet in 2013.

As recently as late last year, a smoking lithium ion battery in a flight attendant’s credit card reader prompted an emergency landing in Buffalo.

The FAA is now urging airlines to conduct safety assessments and reevaluate their lithium ion battery protocols.

Most commercial passenger airlines voluntarily prohibit rechargeable lithium ion batteries, and just last month, a UN panel recommended banning rechargeable lithium battery cargo from all passenger jets.

However, a recent FAA funding bill failed to ban shipping such batteries by air.

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