August 10, 2018

On Thursday night, Tennessee executed Billy Ray Irick, 59, for the 1985 rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer. He's the first death row inmate Tennessee executed since 2009 and the state's first one using a controversial lethal cocktail containing midazolam, a drug aimed at stopping pain before the inmate is injected with the paralytic drug vecuronium bromide and finally compounded potassium chloride, the lethal drug.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution, with Justice Elena Kagan's signature and Justice Sonia Sotomayor's scathing dissent. "Although the midazolam may temporarily render Irick unconscious, the onset of pain and suffocation will rouse him ... just as the paralysis sets in, too late for him to alert bystanders that his execution has gone horribly (if predictably) wrong," Sotomayor wrote. "In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the State of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody." Previously, the Supreme Court has compared potassium chloride to "chemically burning at the stake."

States have turned to midazolam in recent years as supplies of other lethal-injection drugs have dried up, in large part because drugmakers are refusing to sell states products to kill people. Midazolam has failed several times, and when Tennessee administered the drugs to Irick, The Tennessean reports, "he was coughing, choking, and gasping for air. His face turned dark purple as the lethal drugs took over." Another concern in the case is that Irick was mentally ill, according to Robert Durham at the Death Penalty Information Center. Tennessee is considering a bill barring the execution of people with serious mental illnesses, Durham said, and "it's unseemly that Irick would be executed and then the case ultimately gets resolved in his favor." Tennessee has two more executions scheduled this year. Peter Weber

2:12 p.m.

David and Louisa Turpin pleaded guilty in a horrifying case of abuse against 12 of their 13 children.

The California parents were arrested last year, with police alleging they underfed and shackled their children, ranging from ages 2 to 29, in decrepit conditions for nearly a decade. The Turpins pleaded guilty to 14 felony counts, including one count of torture, on Friday and will be sentenced in April, per CBS News Los Angeles.

One of the Turpin children escaped from their home outside of Los Angeles in January 2018 and was able to call for help. Police say they found some of the siblings chained to their beds in dark, disgusting conditions. The Turpin siblings detailed their parents' abuse in hundreds of journals, and more disturbing stories have been revealed in the year since. They've since been found to have suffered mental and physical injuries contracted via malnourishment and physical beatings.

The couple originally faced dozens of criminal charges, but they were reduced to 14 counts on Friday. They include torture, abuse of a dependent adult, child endangerment, and false imprisonment charges, per the Palm Springs Desert Sun. None of the charges pertained to the 2-year-old. The parents could end up in prison for life when they're sentenced in two months. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:03 p.m.

R. Kelly has been charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The R&B singer, who has for years faced allegations of sexual abuse, was charged in Chicago on Friday morning, the Sun-Times reports. His first court date has been scheduled for March 8, the report adds.

Kelly was indicted in 2002 on child pornography charges in connection with a video that allegedly showed him sexually assaulting a minor, but he was ultimately acquitted. Recently, prosecutors reportedly examined a new video that attorney Michael Avenatti says shows Kelly abusing an underage girl. CNN viewed the tape and reported that it appeared to show Kelly abusing a girl, referencing her "14-year-old" genitalia. The New Yorker reported when news of that video came out that "an indictment is pending and Kelly could be arrested soon."

Avenatti responded to the charges on Friday by writing, "After 25 years of serial sexual abuse and assault of underage girls, the day of reckoning for R. Kelly has arrived." Kelly's history of alleged abuse was documented in the recent Lifetime series Surviving R. Kelly.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, prosecutors will sign an arrest warrant for Kelly on Friday afternoon. Brendan Morrow

1:29 p.m.

The women who worked at a spa where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft allegedly solicited a prostitute were in "sexual servitude," police say.

The Jupiter Police Department on Friday detailed the conclusion of a eight-month long prostitution ring investigation. As part of it, they uncovered that at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, women lived and were not allowed to leave, reports USA Today. Arrest records say the women were in "sexual servitude;" investigators are probing whether the spa was involved in human trafficking.

Police say they have video evidence of Kraft soliciting sex at this spa, which has since been shut down, and that he did so on at least two different occasions; they also say he appeared to be a "regular," according to NBC News. Police reportedly have evidence that Kraft, who faces misdemeanor charges, was driven to the parlor.

"We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity," a spokesperson for Kraft said. An "active arrest warrant" has been issued, police say. Brendan Morrow

1:02 p.m.

President Trump may be able to pardon his ex-campaign chair for federal crimes. But there's nothing he can do in New York state.

That legal truth is the basis of a plan New York prosecutors have cooked up to ensure Paul Manafort stays in prison, Bloomberg reported Friday. New York's district attorney started investigating Manafort even before Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued charges against the political operative, and is reportedly drafting a slew of criminal charges that don't intersect with the federal government's allegations.

Manafort, Trump's 2016 campaign chair, was convicted last year on financial crimes and has yet to be sentenced, though he's potentially facing life in prison. As recently as November, Trump said he "wouldn't take" the possibility of pardoning Manafort "off the table." But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has reportedly wanted to "ensure" Manafort isn't let off the hook, sources tell The New York Times. So he's been investigating Manafort's bank loans since 2017, and is reportedly planning to levvy bank fraud charges regardless of a pardon.

A big challenge for Vance has been "skirting laws that protect defendants from being charged twice for the same offense," Bloomberg writes. That concern was reflected when former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked Albany to tamper its double jeopardy protections, but that didn't happen, meaning Manafort's team will likely allege he's being double charged. Still, a state grand jury has already started reviewing the case and will reportedly vote on charges within the next few weeks, the Times reports, writing that Vance's team has "expressed confidence that they would prevail."

Read more about the reported backup plan at Bloomberg. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:22 p.m.

Could the voting system used to determine the Oscars' Best Picture winner make all the difference this year?

The Academy uses a preferential ballot to select Best Picture, which means voters don't simply check off one movie to win. Instead, they rank all of the nominees. When ballots are collected, a film wins if it was ranked first by more than 50 percent of the Academy.

But that's a difficult feat considering there can be as many as 10 choices. If no film captures a majority, whichever receives the fewest votes is eliminated, and those who ranked that eliminated film first have their second pick moved up to first. For example, let's say someone ranked Vice first, followed by Roma. If Vice receives the fewest votes during the first round, this person's Best Picture pick is now Roma. The elimination and movement goes on until one film earns more than 50 percent of the votes.

A common theory among Oscars pundits is that when the Best Picture race is fairly open, many voters' second or third favorite takes the prize. Or, as the Los Angeles Times puts it, the movie that is "least disliked" will win.

So what's the least disliked this year? Many have argued it's Black Panther, while others think it could be The Favourite, which tied with Roma for the most nominations. The system may not help Green Book, though, seeing as controversy around the film has divided viewers, much like last year's losing Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Bohemian Rhapsody could be set back for similar reasons, although the Academy has shown a surprising amount of love for that film.

It may be, however, that the system simply benefits the existing frontrunner, Roma. The technical accomplishments of Alfonso Cuarón's film can't be denied, even if it's not every Oscar voters' very favorite, and that may be enough to push it over the top. Brendan Morrow

12:03 p.m.

Police in Jupiter, Florida, have charged New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with soliciting of a prostitute, Miami's CBS4 News reported Friday. Kraft was apparently one of 25 people charged in the prostitution ring bust, which revolved around a Palm Beach County massage parlor.

While details are still being announced, TMZ reports that the 77-year-old billionaire "is accused of soliciting a prostitute on at least two separate occasions." Additionally, police claim they have "video of Robert Kraft involved in acts with a prostitute as part of their investigation," NBC News reports.

Kraft bought the Patriots in 1994, and has seen the team win six championships during his tenure. The prostitution ring investigation reportedly took more than eight months to complete, and involved Homeland Security and the IRS, in addition to local police. Jeva Lange

11:30 a.m.

Fox is removing Jussie Smollett from Empire — at least for a little bit.

After police accused the actor of falsifying his report of a hate crime, Fox spent weeks insisting he wasn't being written off the show. Empire producers continued to stand by Smollett in a Friday statement, saying they were "placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out." Still, they had decided to "remove" Smollett's "role of 'Jamal' from the final two episodes of the season."

Last month, Smollett filed a police report saying he was the victim of a hate crime and that two men attacked him in Chicago. After inconsistencies emerged in Smollett's account, police arrested him Wednesday night on charges of filing a false police report. Chicago police then alleged on Thursday that the purported crime was a staged "publicity stunt" to "promote his career" and perhaps secure a raise.

Smollett has since been released on bail and returned to the Empire set Friday, reportedly telling cast and crew there he's innocent. Various reports suggested Fox would cut Smollett's scenes from Empire or even fire him, but the network didn't take official action until Friday. In its statement, Fox only said it was cutting Smollett's scenes "to avoid further disruption on set," and reiterated that showrunners "care about him deeply." Read the whole statement from Fox on Twitter. Kathryn Krawczyk

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