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Two Men Accused Of Rape Exonerated 26 Years Later After The Woman Recants

A Manhattan Supreme Court exonerated Van Dyke Perry and Gregory Counts on Monday, (May 7) for a 1991 rape and kidnapping, after the victim told investigators the assault "never happened."

As reported by The New York Times, during the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 1991, an unidentified woman approached police officers sitting inside a patrol car on a Harlem street. She told the cops she'd been kidnapped at knife point by three black men near her home in Queens and raped. Before the month's end, Perry and Counts were arrested and charged with sodomy, kidnapping and criminal possession of a weapon.

There was no physical evidence to support the woman's claims, and semen recovered didn't match Perry or Counts. The prosecution leaned heavily on her inconsistent testimony. The defense however argued the woman was unreliable because she was a recovering crack addict and fabricated the story to protect her boyfriend who was wanted by police for shooting Perry two months prior.

Yet despite the shaky testimony and lack of evidence, both men were convicted. Perry served 11 years while Counts served 26. The third man accused was never arrested. Monday morning, both men walked into a Manhattan courtroom where district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr asked the State Supreme Court judge to vacate their convictions. Counts broke down in tears and said he forgives his accuser.

“I can’t be angry. If I waste a minute being angry it’s a waste of time. That’s a minute I could have been happy.”

In April, the woman told investigators from the district attorney's office as well as lawyers with the New York Innocence project the rape " never happened." The semen collected matched a man who died in 2011 but was found through the FBI database.

“At the end of the day, nothing will give these men back the years away from family, or the years spent in prison,” Vance said. “No apology can make them whole.”

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Justice For Junior: Testifying Witness Says Hit Has Been Placed On His Life

Kevin Alvarez, one of several Trinitarios gang members responsible for the barbarous June 2018 murder of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz, was indicted on murder charges.

However, after striking a deal with the prosecution, which involves flipping on his co-conspirators, Alvarez pled guilty to manslaughter and conspiracy and faces 25 years in prison. According to the 20-year-old, a death sentence has been placed on him for "doing something bad" like snitching to cops.

“They go out and look for you in groups until they find you and kill you,” he said. Alvarez said for "doing something bad

In a packed courtroom, Monday (May 21) he nervously identified the five others responsible for the vicious stabbing death of the Bronx teen. Alvarez said he drove one of the four cars to chase Junior and revealed the 15-year-old tried to run into nearby St. Barnabas Hospital for help, but blocked him, which is why Junior then ran into a bodega.

Alvarez said he assumed Junior was in another gang and involved in a rival shooting.

He then explained that he was the one who pushed the bodega door open, helped to drag Junior out and repeatedly punched and kicked Junior in the head while he was down. Junior tried to tell him he wasn't the person they were looking for, but Alvarez and co. didn't listen.

Video of Junior’s murder played again in court in slow motion. Junior’s mom with their heads between her knees, cried quietly throughout. #JusticeForJunior pic.twitter.com/APqZ2k8Odh

— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) May 21, 2019

The prosecution then played the heartwrenching footage from the bodega. Reportedly, Junior's mother turned away and kept her head between her knees crying.

If all members of the Trinitarios gang are convicted, they face life in prison.

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Florida Teacher Arrested For Carrying Knives And Loaded Guns In Classrooms

A fourth-grade teacher at Starkey Elementary School was arrested Monday (May 20) after authorities found knives, a 9mn Glock with seven rounds of ammunition and other weapons.

According to reports, the 49-year-old had the weapons, including a six-inch fighting knife and a two-inch finger knife, in classrooms with students.

Reportedly, Starkey Elementary School principal saw Betty Soto behaving suspiciously as she carried the backpack with her wherever she went.

Law enforcement arrived on campus after being notified by the principal. They interviewed Soto and found the weapons. The teacher reportedly was let out on bond at 9 PM Monday night and when asked by reporters why she brought the weapons to school she attributed it to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"Ask Desantis," she answered. "Ask your governor."

In early May, the Republican governor signed a bill that will allow teachers to carry guns inside a classroom. The measure was a reported response to the Parkland High School shooting.

Soto's Facebook page will be investigated as part of the overall investigation due to a post that was shared. "Are you surprised I'm a revolutionary? You should have seen it coming. Hate that I was on my way to the plantation, but I had to free some minds."

Erica Kennedy, a mother of two at Starkey Elementary, described Soto's behavior as "militant" and "suspicious."

"She seemed very abrupt, the way she was speaking. I almost felt like she was talking to these kids like she was their parent, you know, just really, a little overboard. So, it made me kind of, something kind of went up in the back of my hair like, hmmm," Kennedy explained.

Soto reportedly will not be returning to Starkey Elementary School.

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Tom Lynn

Milwaukee County Declares Racism A Public Health Crisis

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele signed a resolution Monday (May 20) stating how racism is a public health crisis and that the county plans to take action.

"Everybody has been reading and hearing about the same set of statistics in Milwaukee for decades," Abele said. "We lead in an unfortunate way the racial disparities in employment, in education, incarceration, income and even things like ... access to capital."

The resolution hopes to take actionable steps to level the playing field in Milwaukee, a playing field that finds minorities disproportionately affected.

Nicole Brookshire, the Milwaukee County Office on African American Affairs Director, was with Abele at the signing and spoke on the potential power of the resolution.

"We need to address racism as a public health crisis but on a large scale to make sure that we transform our culture, transform how we serve our residents and we drive solutions that are equitable," she said.

The resolution hopes to assess internal policies and procedures to make sure racial equity is a core element of the county, work to create an inclusive organization and identify specific activities to increase diversity and encourage other local, state and national entities to recognize racism as a public health crisis.

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