A florist in Washington State who refused to provide floral arrangements to a gay couple for their same-sex wedding ceremony, due to her religious objection to such a union, can now legally be sued personally by the state's attorney general's office, a judge in the state has determined.
Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom ruled last week that the state may bring a consumer protection lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, as she is being accused of violating the Consumer Protection Act when she declined to provide floral arrangements to a regular customer's same-sex wedding because it went against her Christian beliefs.
The judge's decision means that Stutzman remains at risk of suffering a serious personal financial hit and potential loss of her business. Ekstrom has set the trial date for March 23. more >>
A man believed to be linked to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last week has been arrested in Bulgaria, officials announced today.
Prosecutor Darina Slavova told ABC News that Fritz-Joly Joachim, 29, was arrested on Jan. 1 for allegedly trying to smuggle his 3-year-old son into Syria. Joachim is believed to be part of a terrorist criminal group and had been in communication with Cherif Kouachi, one of the Charlie Hebdo killers, before his attempt to enter Syria. He was arrested in Bulgaria for allegedly kidnapping his son, and a background check showed his association with the terrorist group.
Joachim converted to Islam 15 years ago and reportedly became radicalized just two years ago. He resides in Bobigny, a suburb of Paris and is expected to be extradited to France, where he will likely face charges in association with the massacre that saw 12 people initially murdered before the Kouachi brothers were taken down by police after a standoff. more >>
Embattled Episcopal Bishop of Maryland Heather Cook, 58, who was formally charged with the drunk driving death of 41-year-old married father of two, Thomas Palermo, last Friday, spent the weekend in jail after failing to clear the hefty $2.5 million bail set by a district court commissioner.
In highlighting the charges Friday, Baltimore's new State's Attorney, Marilyn J. Mosby, said at a press conference that Bishop Cook, who's the first female bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and the second highest-ranking official in the diocese, had registered a staggering .22 blood alcohol level shortly after the Dec. 27 incident that killed the beloved father.
The charges, which include driving under the influence, causing an accident due to texting while driving, and leaving the scene of a fatal accident, could see the bishop spending more than 20 years in prison and $20,000 in potential fines. more >>
The fourth suspect in the deadly French standoffs has been located in Syria, after crossing over through the Turkish border.
Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, was suspected of taking hostages in Paris on Friday, after having been involved in the murder of a female police officer earlier last week. Boumeddiene was married to fellow suspect Amedy Coulibaly, who was killed by police in a raid on the grocery store where he had allegedly taken several hostages at a kosher market. Police initially believed that Boumeddiene was part of the standoff but now believe she was already in Turkey, five days before the killings.
"There is footage (of her) at the airport," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday, according to Anatolian News Agency. "Later on, she stayed at a hotel with another person and crossed into Syria on Jan. 8. We can tell that based on telephone records." more >>
Maryland's second-highest ranking Episcopal bishop, Heather Cook, 58, is now staring at a sentence of up to 21 years in prison and $20,000 in potential fines after Baltimore's new state's attorney, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced Friday that she'll be charged with multiple crimes, including driving under the influence, causing an accident due to texting while driving, and leaving the scene of a fatal accident that claimed the life of 41-year-old married father of two, Thomas Palermo, on Dec. 27.
Ending weeks of speculation over the bishop's suspected sobriety at the time of the deadly incident, Mosby noted in a statement that Cook registered a staggering .22 breathalyzer reading shortly after the fatal collision, just shy of the .27 reading she registered in the 2010 DUI incident that Episcopalian leaders failed to reveal to the general convention of delegates who elected Cook to the esteemed position in the Diocese of Maryland last spring.
While noting that Cook is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, Mosby said: "The State's Attorney's Office is committed to applying justice fairly and equally, no one is above the law. As concerned members of the public, I ask for your patience and understanding as we allow justice to run its course." more >>
UPDATE: 4:30 p.m. ET Jan. 9, 2015
French President Francois Hollande confirmed in his speech to the nation Friday that four hostages died inside the Paris Kosher supermarket that was attacked by gunman Amedy Coulibaly, 32, who was also killed. Although 12 hostages were freed from the supermarket it's also believed that Coulibaly's girlfriend and accomplice, Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, escaped the building either with the hostages or before they were released.
Terrorist group Al-Qaeda in Yemen has claimed responsibility for the Wednesday attack on the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo where 12 people were killed. The two men responsible for the attack, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, were killed during a shootout with police on Friday at a large printing warehouse northeast of Paris. more >>