New Nasa mission to look for planets around stars closest to us

A satellite will survey almost the entire sky in an effort to find any planets that might be encircling the stars. Source: Breakfast


Man charged with murder over death of 10-year-old Alaska girl

An Alaska man was charged today in the death of a 10-year-old girl whose remains were found more than a week after she was reported missing.

State prosecutors charged Peter Wilson of Kotzebue with first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual abuse of a minor and tampering with evidence in connection with the death of Ashley Johnson-Barr. An autopsy revealed signs of strangulation and sexual abuse, and DNA evidence also linked him to the crime, according to prosecutors.

Wilson, 41, pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges of making false statements as FBI agents and others searched for Ashley in Kotzebue, a remote Inupiat town on Alaska's northwestern coast.

The girl disappeared September 6. Her remains were found eight days later in rugged tundra accessible only by a four-wheeler or on foot.

The state charges come after Ashley's family had asked that any further legal action be delayed until after the girl's funeral Saturday, said John Skidmore, criminal division director for the state Department of Law.

Wilson took a cellphone from Ashley and lied when he said he had found it on the ground, according to an indictment filed last week from a federal grand jury. The indictment also says Wilson lied about knowing the girl and using a four-wheeler the day she vanished.

Ashley had her cellphone with her when she was last seen playing with friends at a park. The phone was found later that day in the pocket of a jacket belonging to Wilson, a woman named in an FBI affidavit only by the initials of JJ told authorities. The woman said Wilson often stayed at her home.

Wilson told authorities that he found the phone on the ground about a half-mile from the park.

On the afternoon the girl went missing, Wilson also disappeared with a four-wheeler for about two hours, according to authorities. The FBI affidavit said the girl's body was found on tundra outside Kotzebue, in an area concealed by thick alder and willow brush.

After the girl disappeared, Kotzebue residents helped search for her, holding vigils at the park where she was last seen. Similar prayer vigils were held across Alaska. The FBI sent 17 agents to help investigate.

Kotzebue is 42 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle and 885 kilometres northwest of Anchorage. It serves as a regional hub for northwest Alaska villages.

Ashley Johnson-Barr.
Ashley Johnson-Barr. Source: Supplied


Western Australia Govt refuses $3m payout to girl, 11, left with brain injury after electric shock

The Western Australian Government has rejected a proposed partial settlement for Denishar Woods, the 11-year-old girl who suffered a catastrophic brain injury after a severe electric shock at a public housing property, a support group says.

The National Indigenous Critical Response Service, which has been supporting the Perth girl's family since the incident, says the Government's decision to reject making the $3.2 million payment is "morally and politically abominable".

"I beg the state government to review its disgraceful decision to fail to advance the family some of the inevitable compensation," national co-ordinator Gerry Georgatos said on Monday.

"It's no skin off their nose to do what will be lifesaving for the family."

Mr Georgatos told AAP the full settlement for Denishar was likely to run to between $10 and $15 million to cover the cost of her care for the rest of her life.

But he said that could take several years to finalise and the ex-gratia payment would ease some of the family's enormous financial pressures.

Denishar's mother, Lacey Harrison, said she was "shell-shocked" by the Government's decision which would "strand my daughter, my children, myself as a mother".

"We should not be in this deplorable position where we've got to wait years for the compensation," she said.

The WA Government was being contacted for comment.

However, last month it approved an act of grace payment to allow the family to buy a specially-modified vehicle.

Denishar was shocked with up to 230 volts when she touched a garden tap at a Beldon property in March.

The incident remains under investigation by the Building and Energy Division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

Mr Georgatos said the department had repeatedly suggested a result was just weeks away and he could see no justifiable grounds for why it was taking so long.

Denishar Woods. Source: Nine


Dallas police officer who shot black neighbour mistaken for intruder fired by department

A white Dallas police officer who fatally shot her black neighbour inside his own apartment was fired today, the same day the man was being buried in his Caribbean homeland.

Police Chief U. Renee Hall dismissed Officer Amber Guyger during a hearing, according to the Police Department.

Guyger is charged with manslaughter in the September 6 shooting that left 26-year-old Botham Jean dead, and she was fired because of her arrest, according to the department.

Court records show Guyger said she thought she had encountered a burglar inside her own home. She was arrested three days later and is currently out on bond.

A statement from police said an internal investigation concluded that on September 9, Guyger, a four-year veteran of the force, "engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for Manslaughter."

Dallas police spokesman Sgt. Warren Mitchell later said that when an officer has been arrested for a crime, "adverse conduct" is often cited in the officer's termination.

Mitchell said that adverse conduct is "conduct which adversely affects the (morale) or efficiency of the Department or which has a tendency to adversely affect, lower, destroy public respect and confidence in the Department or officer."

One of the attorneys for Jean's family, Lee Merritt, said Jean was being buried today in St. Lucia.

The family's attorneys, along with protesters, have been calling for Guyger to be fired since the shooting. In a statement, the attorneys said they see the termination as an initial victory.

"However, we are committed to seeing through the next steps of the process of a proper murder indictment, conviction and appropriate sentencing," they said in the statement.

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson has said the case will be presented to a grand jury, which could decide a more serious charge than manslaughter.

During a conference call with Jean's parents and their lawyers on Sunday, Hall reported she intended to fire Guyger and explained the delay in the action, according to the family's attorneys in their statement.

Days before the firing, Hall said in a statement that she had not taken action against Guyger because she did not want to interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation.

There are conflicting narratives over what led up to the shooting.

Guyger told investigators that she had just ended a shift when she returned in uniform to the South Side Flats apartment complex where she lived.

She said when she put her key in the apartment door, which was unlocked and slightly ajar, it opened, according to the affidavit.

Inside, the lights were off, and she saw a figure in the darkness that cast a large silhouette across the room, according to the officer's account.

Guyger said she concluded her apartment was being burglarized and gave verbal commands to the person, who ignored them. The affidavit said she then drew her weapon and fired twice.

She called 911. Asked where she was, she returned to the front door to see she was in the wrong unit, according to the affidavit. The 911 tapes have not been released.

But according to an affidavit for a search warrant Jean "confronted the officer at the door."

After the shooting, Guyger's blood was drawn to be tested for alcohol and drugs, according to Hall. Authorities have not released results.

Merritt has called into question Guyger's narrative. The lawyer has said that two independent witnesses have told him they heard knocking on the door in the hallway before the shooting.

He said one witness reported hearing a woman's voice saying, "Let me in! Let me in!"

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he agrees with the decision to fire Guyger.

FILE - This file photo provided by the Kaufman County Sheriff's Office shows Amber Renee Guyger. Guyger, a Dallas police officer accused of fatally shooting her neighbor inside his own apartment has been dismissed, the police department announced Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. The Dallas Police Department fired Guyger weeks after she fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean inside his own apartment on Sept. 6. Court records show Guyger said she thought she had encountered a burglar inside her own home.(Kaufman County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)
Amber Renee Guyger, a Dallas police officer accused of fatally shooting her neighbour. Source: Associated Press

Man charged with sexual battery after woman claims he assaulted her while she slept on US flight

A Texas man has been charged with sexual battery, after a passenger says he began sexually assaulting her while she slept on a Southwest flight from Houston to Nashville yesterday.

The woman detailed the encounter to Nashville police, saying she talked to the passenger sat next to her briefly before falling asleep on the two-hour flight.

The man, identified as Alfredo Vela IV, 30, then began rubbing her back causing the woman to wake up WSMV reported.

She claims he then started to rub her inner thigh, touch her breast and try and put his hand up her shirt. The woman told police she was frozen in fear during the assault.

Vela IV was then arrested when the flight landed in Nashville. 

Police say he admitted to scratching the woman's back during the flight when interviewed.

He has been released on $US5000 bond and is due to appear in court on October 19.

Alfredo Vela Source: Nashville Police