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Mark Makela/Getty Images(NORRISTOWN, Pa.) -- Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to three to 10 years in state prison by a Pennsylvania judge who had designated the comedian a "sexually violent predator."

Judge Steven O'Neill sentenced Cosby in a Norristown, Pennsylvania, courtroom, and then denied bail during pending appeals, capping a two-day hearing attended by about a dozen women who accused Cosby of sexual assault, including Andrea Constand, whom he was convicted of assaulting in his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

He ordered that Cosby be taken into custody immediately. Cosby, who had removed his pinstriped suit jacket, was escorted out of the courtroom by guards with his hands cuffed in front of him. He held his cane in his right hand.

"It's been a long journey to get here and today justice was served. It has been a long time coming, but it arrived when a convicted felon named William H. Cosby Jr. left the courtroom in handcuffs headed off to state prison for his crimes," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said with Constand standing at his side at a press conference following the sentencing.

Judge O'Neill rejected a request from defense attorneys to allow Cosby to be released on bail pending appeals.

Montgomery County Correctional Facility

O'Neill ordered Cosby to serve the sentence in "total confinement" for "no less than 3 years and no more than 10 years."

"Mr. Cosby, you were convicted of a very serious crime," O'Neill said, adding "that you penetrated Andrea Constand's genitals with your hands without her permission."

No remorse

O'Neill called Cosby's crime a "planned predation."

The judge noted that Cosby has never shown any remorse and has not sought any kind of psychological counseling.

O'Neill told Constand that her victim impact statement presented to the judge in writing and partly giving in court Monday was a major factor in helping him decide Cosby's sentence.

"I put a high degree of weight on the impact of the victim and her family," O'Neill said.

In a written statement to O'Neill, which was released Tuesday, Constand wrote, "Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others."

Before sentencing Cosby, O'Neill asked defense attorney Joseph Green whether Cosby wanted to make a statement before he is sentenced. Cosby declined.

"This has been a long journey for justice for all of the accusers, particularly for Andrea Constand and her family," said attorney Gloria Allred, who represents 33 women who have accused Cosby of sexual abuse. "This is an important day. Judgment day has come."

Chelan Lasha, who says Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in 1986 in a Las Vegas hotel room when she was 17, said she had hoped for a harsher sentence for Cosby.

"But I'm very happy to know that Mr. Cosby will do time in prison, that he's touchable like he touched us," Lasha said after the sentencing hearing.

From VIP to SVP


Earlier Tuesday, Judge O'Neill designated Cosby a "sexually violent predator."

Cosby appeared alert, cooperative and engaged as he answered a series of questions from prosecutor M. Stuart Ryan designed to determine whether he fully comprehended the implications and consequences of the "sexually violent predator" designation.

Pennsylvania state law defines a person with such a designation has "a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses." The consequences of such a designation are severe and lifelong.

The designation also means that Cosby will be required by law to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and be subject to the most stringent requirements a sex offender can incur.

At one point, Cosby interrupted Ryan with a question: "If I went from the city to another city ... even if it's just overnight, do I have to get in touch with the state police?"

Ryan suggested Cosby seek the counsel of his attorneys.

Cosby's lawyers had pleaded with O'Neill Monday not to send the entertainer they described as an 81-year-old, infirmed blind man to prison but rather place him under house arrest.

Steele asked O'Neill to incarcerate Cosby with a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Cosby was convicted in April of drugging and molesting Constand, a former director of operations of women's basketball at Cosby's alma mater Temple University who once considered the comedian a mentor. The assault occurred in 2004 at Cosby's suburban Philadelphia home.

Constand told O'Neill Monday she wanted "justice as the court sees fit."

"Racist and sexist trial"

After Cosby's was taken to a Montgomery County jail for processing before he is transferred to state prison, his spokesman Andrew Wyatt blasted the trial and conviction as "the most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States."

He said Cosby "is doing great" and "knows that God is watching over him."

"They persecuted Jesus and look what happened," Wyatt said. "I'm not saying Mr. Cosby is Jesus, but we know what this country has done to black men for centuries."

Cosby's wife of 54 years, Camille Cosby, did not attend Tuesday's hearing, but released a statement, saying, "We have now learned that Bill Cosby was denied his right to a fair trial..."

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WPVI-TV(NORRISTOWN, Pa.) -- Women's rights activist and attorney Gloria Allred lauded the sentencing of Bill Cosby, saying it "has been a long journey to justice for all of the accusers."

Cosby was sentenced on Tuesday to three to 10 years in a state prison by a judge who described him as a "sexually violent predator." The comedian once known as "America's Dad" was led out of the Norriston, Pennsylvania, courtroom in handcuffs shortly thereafter.

Outside the courthouse, Allred, who represented some of Cosby's accusers, said she's "glad the judgment day has finally come for Mr. Cosby."

"This is a very important day," she said. "Judgment day has come."

She also accused Cosby of showing no remorse, as did Judge Steven O'Neill during the sentencing hearing.

Allred said she was "very proud" of the victims who came forward and cooperated with the investigation, despite the statute of limitations' running out.

Chelan Lasha, who accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her in a Las Vegas hotel room in 1986, when she was 17, said she'd hoped for a harsher sentence.

"But I'm very happy to know that Mr. Cosby will do time in prison -- that he's touchable like he touched us," Lasha said.

Cosby's wife, Camille Cosby, wrote in a statement that he was "denied his right to a fair trial" and accused Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele of using falsified evidence against him.

Camille Cosby alleged that a tape-recording Steele played during the trial was doctored, adding that the mother of Andrea Constand, the victim Cosby was convicted of drugging and raping, "surreptitiously and illegally made the recording" in 2005 without his knowledge or consent.

A forensics expert who analyzed the recording told Cosby's defense team that it was "not a true representation of the original content or conversation," according to Camille Cosby's statement.

In April, Cosby was convicted of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, the former director of operations of women's basketball at Temple University, Cosby's alma mater. Cosby assaulted Constand, who once considered him a mentor, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

O'Neill ordered Cosby to serve in "total confinement" for "no less than three years and no more than 10 years." The two-day hearing was attended by a dozen women who had accused Cosby of sexual assault.

"Today, justice was served," Steele told reporters on Tuesday. "It's been a long time coming, but it arrived when a convicted felon named William H. Cosby left the courtroom in handcuffs."

Steel said that Cosby has "been able to hide his true self" for decades. "Finally, Bill Cosby has been unmasked, and we've seen the real man as he's heading off to prison."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A young girl in Virginia was killed while swinging on a hammock after a tree the hammock was tied to fell on her, authorities said.

"It was a tragic accident," Kraig Troxell of the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office told ABC News.

The tree that collapsed on 7-year-old Sabina Henderson was already rotting in its trunk, but it was likely a combination of that and the wet ground caused by rain from Hurricane Florence that uprooted the tree, Troxell added. The accident happened on Saturday evening during a family gathering.

Both Sabina and another child, an 8-year-old boy who was also swinging on the hammock, were rushed to the hospital. The boy had only suffered minor injuries and was released soon after. Henderson died later that night.

The young girl's father, Ben Henderson, described her as a smart, witty girl who loved to tell jokes.

"She was a powerful personality that lit up the room and was a memorable force for all those that met her," Henderson said in a statement.

"She was amazingly kind and thoughtful to her friends and family," he added. "Sabina was genuinely and completely loved by all that knew her. Her loss tore a giant hole in our lives that will never be mended. We will never recover from this we will only survive."

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Metropolitan Police Department(WASHINGTON) -- Friends and family are set to gather at a funeral service in Florida Tuesday for Wendy Martinez, one week after she was brutally stabbed to death while jogging in Washington, D.C. in an apparent "random" attack.

Martinez, 35, had just gotten engaged and her grieving mother, Cora Martinez, told reporters last week that her daughter will be buried in the wedding dress she had picked out for a ceremony in Colombia, where her fiancé, Danny Hincapie, is from.

"We all commented how beautiful the dress was, how it was so Wendy, it was her style," her friend since high school, Luz Hainey, told ABC affiliate WPBF.

"I have to stay strong in my faith and remember that she’s in a better place," Hainey added. "That truly is what we’re holding onto for right now."

Martinez, 35, was stabbed seven times in the face, neck and back while jogging in the Logan Circle neighborhood, according to court documents. Authorities said she stumbled into a restaurant after the attack where customers tried to save her life.

At Tuesday's funeral in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, mourners are expected to wear bright colors to celebrate her life, her passion and her selflessness, friends said, according to WPBF.

The victim's mom told reporters she was so proud of her daughter for running into the restaurant for help.

"Our girl had the energy to fight," she said.

A suspect, 23-year-old Anthony Crawford, was arrested last week and charged with murder. He made an initial appearance on Sept. 20 and returns to court on Oct. 11.



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Google Maps (EASTON, Mass.) -- A mother has been arrested for allegedly leaving her 1-year-old son in a shopping cart at a Target parking lot this weekend, police said.

A customer at an Easton, Massachusetts, Target reported that a baby was in the parking lot alone around 1 p.m. on Saturday, the Easton Police Department said.

When police arrived, they said the 17-month-old boy didn't appear to be hurt, but was evaluated by the fire department and then taken to a hospital to be checked.

The department received a call around 2 p.m. from a man who said he was with the boy's mother and she claimed the baby had been left behind accidentally, police said.

The mother, 27-year-old Taylor Perdue, told detectives that she and three friends went back to her car after they left Target and she "believed that one of her friends had secured her son in his rear-facing car seat," police said in a statement Monday.

Perdue said her friends left in a separate car and she then drove to Plymouth, about 33 miles from the Target. She "realized that her son was not in the car seat" when she arrived, police said.

Perdue, of Acton, Maine, was charged with abandonment and endangerment of a child, police said.

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families launched an investigation and, in coordination with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, returned custody of the child to Perdue later that evening, police said.

It is not clear when Perdue will appear in court or if she is represented by an attorney at this time.

A manager at the Easton Target store declined to comment on the incident.

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FBI Charlotte(GASTONIA, N.C.) -- As the FBI and local authorities desperately search for a 6-year-old boy who went missing in a North Carolina park, investigators are using divers, helicopters, drones and the boy's parents' voices to try to find him.

Maddox Ritch, 6, who has autism and does not talk, went missing Saturday while at the Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia with his family, police said.

Maddox has blond hair and blue eyes, weighs 45 pounds and is 4 feet tall, police said. He was wearing black shorts, closed-toe sandals and an orange T-shirt that reads "I am the Man" at the time he went missing, according to police.

On Monday, authorities checked dozens of dumpsters and went to businesses near the park asking for surveillance video while police dogs re-searched areas, the Gastonia Police Department said.

Crews searched the park's lake using sonar and divers Monday.

Helicopters and drones have also been used in the search, police said.

Authorities have also recorded messages from Maddox's parents and are playing those messages in the woods of the park in the hopes that their voices will persuade him to come out if he's there, FBI Special Agent Jason Kaplan said Monday.

Former FBI agent and ABC News contributor Brad Garrett said that the idea of broadcasting Maddox's parents' familiar voices makes perfect sense.

Children with special needs "tend to be extremely close to their parents," Garrett told ABC News. "If you have a kid that can't really communicate but his parents talk to him every day ... I completely understand why they would do it."

Garrett said the FBI likely recorded the phrases Maddox's parents use with him most often.

But as authorities turned to the media for help this week to spread the word about Maddox's disappearance, the boy's family shared their thoughts in a statement.

"I want to thank everyone for showing up to search for Maddox and also thank everyone for their prayers. We are trying to help the police in any way possible. They are still asking the public to just wait and let the professionals handle the search," Maddox's father said in a statement Monday to WCCB in Charlotte.

At a news conference Monday, authorities said Maddox's mother and father have asked for privacy, and their names have not been released.

Police urge anyone who was at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday to call the tip line at 704-869-1075.

"We have spoken to many people who were there, but we want to make sure we talk to them all," Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said in the statement released by police Monday. "No piece of information is too small. Something you may think is insignificant could be helpful to our case."

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ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Thousands of people continue to be forced to evacuate in the Carolinas due to rising rivers after Hurricane Florence -- and more rain is on the way Tuesday.

A tropical wave off the Carolina coast could become a tropical depression late Tuesday and brush the Carolinas with some heavy rain through Wednesday.

The National Hurricane Center is watching a low pressure off the North Carolina coast and saying it could become a tropical depression.

Even if it does not become a tropical depression, the storm system will bring heavy rain, dangerous surf and rip currents to the Carolinas.

After that a cold front will bring more heavy rain to the area.

Flood watches and warnings have been issued Tuesday morning from Midwest into the Southeast.

Severe storms are also threatening the Midwest and Northeast over the next two days.

A reported tornado produced damage in central Tennessee, east of Nashville, on Monday and more severe weather is expected.

A cold front will move into the Great Lakes and the Midwest on Tuesday with damaging winds, hail and a few tornadoes. Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati are all in the path of these damaging storms later Tuesday.

Damaging storms move into the Northeast, from Washington, D.C., to New York City and into Boston on Wednesday. Damaging winds, hail and an isolated tornado are all possible Wednesday afternoon and evening.

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iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The white man who invoked Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense law in the fatal shooting of Markeis McGlockton, an African-American father of three, during a confrontation over a handicap parking space has been released on bond.

Michael Drejka was released from jail on Monday after posting $100,000 bond, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office told ABC affiliate station WTSP-TV in Tampa.

Drejka, 48, was arrested and charged with manslaughter in the July 19 shooting of McGlockton outside a convenience store in Clearwater, Florida.

McGlockton, 28, was shot after he came out of a Circle A store and saw Drejka berating his girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, about parking in a handicap zone. Surveillance video showed McGlockton shoving Drejka to the ground and Drejka, who had a legal concealed weapons permit, pulling a handgun and shooting McGlockton.

In a jailhouse interview earlier this month, Drejka told WTSP that he felt his life was in danger after McGlockton "tackled" him to the ground.

"I followed the law the way I felt the law was supposed to be followed," Drejka said. "I cleared every hurdle that that law had put in front of me."



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ABC News (HOUSTON) -- Officer assist. Suspects on the ground,” said the call from dispatch that came into Wendy Caldwell’s police car.

The car’s sirens went on, and Caldwell was off racing through the streets of Houston, Texas.

“He needs assistance,” Caldwell explained in an interview for the ABC News special “The Real Rookies.” “Sometimes the most difficult, dangerous part of it is actually getting to the call. So you’re going to go around, through, weave, make your way through to get there as safely as possible.”

It’s a typical day for Caldwell, who’s a rookie police officer with the Houston Police Department. It’s also a job she had 25 years ago: Caldwell, who is 54 years old, is Houston’s oldest rookie cop

On July 21, 1993, Caldwell, then 29, graduated from the police academy in the top 10 of her class and joined the mounted patrol division.

“For me, it was the best job on the planet. Where else can you get to be a police officer and ride a horse in the same day? It was perfect for me,” said Caldwell.

“She was somebody that was there, would have your back, take care of you if the situation dictated and knew her job, knew what she needed to do,” said Scott Berry, who was Caldwell’s partner on the job at the time.

But three years into the department, Caldwell got pregnant and had her first child. She realized staying at home to raise her two children was more important to her at the time.

“It was an extremely hard decision for me. I wanted to do both, but I realized that my children were more important,” Caldwell said. “That time that I got to spend with them was absolutely golden for me. I'll never be able to replace that, so that's something, those memories that I have with my kids, I'll have forever.”

However, by late 2015 to 2016, Caldwell was 52 years old, and her marriage of almost 20 years started to fall apart. She decided she had to figure out how to support herself.

“I was holding a résumé that pretty much said ‘stay-at-home mom,’” said Caldwell. “So I knew that I had to do. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew that I had to do it.”

Caldwell talked to a friend of hers who is a recruiting sergeant to see if she could return to the police force.

“He said, ‘You’re eligible, but — you’d have to do the whole six and a half months (of police] academy again because we don’t have any lateral transfer classes, and you’ve been gone more than five years. Would you be willing to do that?’” she recalled. “I said, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’”

“I think for most people, the six and a half months they spend in the police academy are the longest 10 years of their life. It’s grueling. It’s never-ending. It’s very difficult. It’s very stressful, mentally and physically,” said Michael Barton, Caldwell’s fellow cadet.

“We want everyone held to the same standards, and when they announced a 52-year-old female is joining your police academy class, it’s like, ‘What is she doing here?’ It raises an eyebrow,’” said fellow cadet Robert Dougherty.

Caldwell said the experience was an “all your eggs in one basket kind of thing for me.” She still had her strength, shooting abilities and driving skills, but there was the mental aspect of it that was tough for her.

“Starting over, putting myself in that position again to wear that cadet uniform again, knowing that I had already earned this, that was hard. It was a mental game for me big time,” she said.

Fellow cadets, who sometimes called her “grandma” or “nana,” said Caldwell was inspirational, but also a motivation not to fall behind, especially when it came to physical training.

“I mean, if a 52-year-old woman is going to beat you, and you’re 25 years old, then that’s pretty embarrassing, quite frankly,” said Barton.

Still, the course took its toll on Caldwell.

“I remember one weekend, I was literally laying in the bed, crying, thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I’m going to make this,’” Caldwell said.

At one point in the course, Caldwell’s leg was broken during redman training, an exercise designed to put cadets in a scenario where it feels like they’re fighting for their lives, Caldwell explained.

“The thought that crossed my mind was, ‘I’m done. This is it. This is going to end it. I’m not going to be able to graduate. This is the biggest bone in your body. How are you going to come back from that?’” she said. “I had no idea, but my thought process was, ‘I’m done.’”

But by the end of the training, Caldwell was allowed to graduate.

“I knew I still had a ways to go. I still needed to complete my physical recuperation, but the fact that I had made it, and earned this badge and uniform again, it was a big deal. It was a really big deal,” she said.

Caldwell graduated number 17 out of 67 and joined the Central Patrol Division for her permanent assignment.

“I realize, that at 54 years of age, I'm not as fast as I used to be, my reaction times are probably a little bit slower, although I'm wiser in the aspect of I can see it coming before it gets there, so I guess it's kind of a trade-off in that respect,” she said.

“It was a difficult road to get here, but it was well worth the rewards.”

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Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images(NORRISTOWN,Pa.) -- Bill Cosby -- one of the most iconic figures in modern U.S. history, a multiplatform entertainer who revolutionized comedy in the 1960s and the television sitcom in the 1980s -- will learn his fate Tuesday for drugging and molesting a woman who once saw him as a mentor.

In addition to receiving his sentence on three counts of aggravated felony assault, Cosby will learn whether the court will deem him a “sexually violent predator,” a stunning fall for the man once known as "America's Dad."

Judge Steven O'Neill is expected to sentence Cosby Tuesday morning in a Norristown, Pennsylvania, courtroom.

Cosby's lawyers pleaded with O'Neill Monday not to send the entertainer they described as an 81-year-old, infirmed blind man to prison. But Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele asked O'Neill to incarcerate Cosby with a maximum sentence, arguing Monday that saying "he's too old to go to prison is a get-out-of-jail-free card."

"Nobody is above the law," Steele said.

Cosby, facing a maximum of 10 years in prison, was convicted in April of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former director of operations of women's basketball at Cosby's alma mater Temple University who once considered the comedian a mentor. The assault occurred in 2004 at Cosby's suburban Philadelphia home.

Constand told O'Neill Monday she wants "justice as the court sees fit."

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iStock/Thinkstock (RICH COUNTY, Utah) -- A 14-year-old boy was struck and killed by a stray bullet in what was apparently a freak accident while riding in the back seat of a car with his family Sunday.

Zackary Kempke and his family were driving near the Monte Cristo mountain range in a remote area of Rich County in Utah when he was struck in the head, according to the Rich County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said the bullet came from someone who was shooting at a target several hundred feet away from where Kempke was shot.

The individual who fired the shot and multiple witnesses said that they did not know there was a road down the range, according to the sheriff's office, and could not see the vehicle passing by due to massive trees and brush blocking their view.

Kempke’s uncle, Cory Hopkins, told the Deseret News family members were initially angry and thought the shooter should have been more careful, but have let go of the anger.

“We’ve all had time to think, and you know ... that family’s going to live with this for the rest of their life, and I think that’s tragic on that point too,” Hopkins told the Deseret News.

Authorities have not filed charges at this time because the shooting appears to be unintentional.

"It appears to have been unintentional," the sheriff's office said. "When the investigation is complete, all information and evidence will be turned over to the Rich County Prosecutor for further action or charges."

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LAPD(LOS ANGELES) -- Police arrested a man on Monday in connection with a string of brutal attacks on homeless men in Los Angeles, including two who were beaten to death while sleeping.

The suspect was arrested on assault charges after he allegedly beat a man in Santa Monica Monday morning, leaving the victim unconscious with “head injuries consistent with blunt force trauma,” according to the Santa Monica Police Department.

The victim was sleeping under the Santa Monica Pier at around 6:30 a.m. when he was attacked and rushed to a local hospital, according to several local media outlets. His condition was unknown.

After his arrest in Santa Monica, the police department notified the Los Angeles Police Department, which has been searching for a suspect in the deaths of the two homeless men earlier this month.

Several local media outlets, including ABC's Los Angeles station KABC, identified the suspect as 47-year-old Ramon Escobar. He was booked for murder and is being held without bail, according to KABC.

Escobar is also wanted in connection with the disappearance of two siblings in the Houston area last month, KABC reported, citing police sources.

Police have not released details about the suspect, but detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department said they believe he is connected to at least “three brutal attacks with a baseball bat on homeless people in Downtown LA.” All three attacks occurred on Sept. 16.

Two of the victims died and one was left in critical condition last week, authorities said. Police said the suspect robbed the victims and beat them with a baseball bat while they slept.

“Today LAPD Detectives were contacted by @SantaMonicaPD regarding a suspect they had in custody,” the LAPD tweeted Monday. “Detectives believe this is the suspect responsible for the murder of two men & the attempt murder of another in Downtown LA.”

Santa Monica Police Department Lt. Saul Rodriguez said his department is still working on a connection between the beatings.

"We have not 100 percent made the confirmation that this is indeed our suspect but it has not been ruled out," Rodriguez said Monday. "We're hoping to link everything together."

Last week, detectives with the LAPD said they were reviewing hours of surveillance footage, including some from the crime scenes, in an effort to identify the suspect.

They also circulated video of the suspected assailant, who they said should be considered a “violent predator,” according to a police statement released last week.

The suspect appears “to be transient” and was seen going into trash cans and drinking from leftover bottles, the statement said.

Authorities are expected to release more information at 3 p.m. local time Tuesday during a news conference.



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ABC News Photo Illustration(NEW YORK) -- At a time when our nation seems so polarized by politics, National Voter Registration Day is something we can all get behind, no matter who we're voting for.

Ahead of the midterm elections, "Good Morning America" is highlighting some ways you can make sure your voice is heard, and how some organizations are stepping up to show there is no excuse to not hit the polls this November.

Host a rosé and register party, or do what you have to do to rally your squad for the sake of democracy
Stephanie Young, a spokesperson for the nonpartisan organization When We All Vote, which is co-chaired by former first lady Michelle Obama, told "GMA" that it is important to make voting a "collective" activity.

Young recommends starting a conversation with those around you about voting, saying, "People are more inclined to listen to people that they know and trust."

"It can help to encourage you," to hit the polls, she said, "and it can also help to hold you accountable.

"Start a text chain, say, 'Hey, is everybody registered?’ You can literally send them our link," she said. "Then follow up with that text chain."

Carolyn DeWitt, the president and executive director of Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit also focused on increasing voter turnout, reiterated that positive peer pressure is a good way to increase voter turnout, especially among young people.

"Young people are a lot of times motivated by the collective, by being part of something," DeWitt told "GMA."

Registering to vote in the digital age is not hard

In many states, registering to vote can be done online, which has been a huge way to increase voter turnout over the years, according to DeWitt.

"We created the first online voter registration tool in 1999 and have been innovating it ever since. We have it available to partners for free; we have it available in 14 languages," DeWitt said.

Using this tool, DeWitt says they have been able to add more than 8 million voters over the past seven presidential cycles.

Plus, signing up online allows Rock the Vote to send election reminders, which DeWitt says have also been proven to increase voter turnout.

You could also register to vote right from your phone, while scrolling on the 'gram.

In honor of National Voter Registration Day, the social media platform Instagram is also making it easier for people to register to vote by implementing adds in feeds and stories that allow people to swipe up to register to vote or learn more about their states' voting rules, according to a company blogpost.

Educate yourself on the voting process, and the issues

"We have found over and over again ... the research tell us that young people don't participate at the same rate older voters do," DeWitt told "GMA" of voting. "A lot of times they are unfamiliar with the process and consequences."

DeWitt says that they have noticed education programs are a big way to increase voter turnout, especially among young people.

"Beginning last week we announced a program called Democracy Class, that is a free one-period curriculum on the history and importance of voting that culminates in them registering to vote," DeWitt said.

Scores of school districts and organizations across the country -- including the Los Angeles Unified School District and the School District of Philadelphia -- have signed on to implement Rock the Vote's Democracy Class.

Especially recently, DeWitt added that many young people are more motivated to turn out and vote when they are educated about critical issues, such as gun control.

"Young people are extremely passionate about the issues," DeWitt said, adding that "helping young people understand how issues are actually impacted by the elections that are going on" is a big way to get them to the polls.

Have a plan on election day to hold each other accountable

When it comes to the actual Election Day, Young recommends planning a day when you can all go together, as a way to hold friends and family members accountable.

"You can also do something super cute, and say, 'Let's plan to have dinner that day after we vote,'" she said. "There are so many things that you can do, I love to get my nails done; you can do a little voter spa day."

Whatever you decide, "You have to make it an activity, you have to make it a thing," Young added.

"There's a number of things you can do, but it takes one strong voice that's determined to influence their loved ones and their friends in the right way," she added.

Finally, Young recommends doing whatever you need to do to hold yourself accountable.

"We have to treat it like any other activity," she said. "We need reminders, we need an invitation, we need a calendar notification."

Think hard about the excuses you or friends may have
If you have friends that give logistical excuses on why they can't vote, or why it is difficult to vote, Young recommends encouraging them to think about what it means to stay home on Election Day.

"I think that unfortunately voting has been made a little difficult in places around the country and that's not a surprise, that's a fact," Young said.

"There is clearly a reason why some people want some people to stay home, and we need to stop and take a moment to think about it," she added. "We’re telling folks not to give their power away."

If transportation is an issue, there are a number of organizations, including the ride share company, Lyft, that are offering free or reduced-price rides to the polls on Election Day.

"People are trying to make it hard and confusing and not the easiest process," she said. "But we’re letting people know that it's not hard as you think it is.

"Our democracy is stronger when everybody participates," she added.

In a PSA released by When We All Vote, Obama lists a litany of excuses for why people say they didn't vote, including everything from studying for exams to trying to get dinner on the table.

"Voting can feel like the furthest thing from your mind; you might even feel like it's just not worth it. But that's exactly what some people want you to think," Obama said. "The truth is when we stay home, things stay the same or get worse."

DeWitt added that it is also important to remember the context of what would happen if everybody, especially the young generation, thought this.

"Voting absolutely matters, you might not think that your voice or your vote matters, but when you put it with 70 million other young people, there's incredible power to decide the direction of not only our communities, but also our country," DeWitt said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Authorities in Massachusetts have charged an undocumented immigrant with murder after he allegedly stabbed three fellow crew members, one fatally, on a fishing boat 55 miles off the coast.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts announced the charges on Monday, one day after they say Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez got into a fight on the ship he was working on, the Captain Billy Haver, and three people were injured. One of those members of the crew died.

The 27-year-old Vazquez, a native of Mexico, was in the country illegally, according to the Department of Justice.

Since the crime took place within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States it is considered a federal case. Vazquez was charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder.

The fishing boat, which has its home port in Virginia, was near Nantucket when one of seven crew members said he was assaulted by Vazquez with a hammer and a knife, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The crew member said he saw a fellow shipmate was already lying on the deck badly bleeding. Vazquez then allegedly attacked a third crew member.

Vazquez climbed the ship's mast before other crew members finally captured him, the attorney's office said.

The captain issued a distress call, answered by the German cruise ship, Mein Schiff 6, authorities said.

The first two crew members were treated by the cruise ship's doctor, with one being pronounced dead.

Lindsay McDannold, who is married to Vazquez's father but in the process of divorce, criticized the suspect in an interview with Boston ABC affiliate WCVB.

Vazquez was charged with abduction by force, intimidation, or deception after being arrested in Newport News, Virginia, on March 9 for what McDannold says was an attack on her daughter. He was released on bond, according to federal authorities.

"In March, he assaulted her and strangled her and held her against her will," McDannold said. "I think it's a travesty. I think the court system failed. I think they should do a better job in terms of policing these people when they come in."

Vazquez faces life in prison if convicted of murder.

He will then be subject to deportation after serving any potential sentence.



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Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images(NORRISTOWN, Pa.) -- A sentencing hearing for comedian Bill Cosby began Monday as women who said he drugged and physically took advantage of them, including one whom he was convicted of sexually assaulting, filled a Pennsylvania courtroom to watch the first major-celebrity punishment in the #MeToo era.

Andrea Constand, the primary accuser who testified at both of Cosby's trials, including the one that ended in a mistrial last year, addressed the packed Norristown courtroom Monday afternoon, speaking to Judge Steven O'Neill and barely glancing at Cosby, seated at the defense table.

In a two-minute victim-impact statement, Constand told O'Neill that she wants "justice as the court sees fit."

Constand's parents, Gianna and Andrew Constand, and her sister, Diane Parsons, also spoke in court, describing to O'Neill of the anguish and depression Andrea Constand endured after being assaulted by Cosby and having her character smeared by the comedian's lawyers over the course of two trials.

Andrew Constand said it was painful for him to hear his daughter portrayed by defense lawyers as a "pathological liar" and a "drug addict." He told the judge that after she was assaulted by Cosby, his daughter returned to Canada a "changed" woman.

"She seemed depressed, vulnerable and slow to react to questions," he said.

Diane Parsons agreed with her father, adding, "I observed a frail, timid, nervous, weak sister."

Gianna Constand was the only member of the family to address Cosby, once considered by many fans to be "America's Dad."

She said the one-time star of the "Cosby Show" had "protected himself at the cost of ruining many lives."

Seated in the courtroom were about a dozen women who'd accused Cosby of sexual assault, including the former model Janice Dickinson, who testified during the second trial that Cosby drugged and raped her in 1982 in a Lake Tahoe, California, hotel room.

Since Cosby was convicted only on the charges pertaining to Andrea Constand, the other accusers were not allowed to give victim-impact statements. But one, Victoria Valentino, a former Playboy model who claims Cosby raped her in 1969, told ABC News what she hopes to see on Tuesday after O'Neill sentences Cosby.

"To see him led out in handcuffs or shackles would be quite a triumph, I think, for all of us," Valentino said.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele implored O'Neill to show the 81-year-old Cosby no mercy and send him to prison for the rest of his life.

"We ask this because of who is his behind the mask, behind the act that he perpetrated for all the years that he did and that he used -- used -- to victimize," Steele said. "And we ask for a sentence of maximum confinement in this case because of [his] showing again and again of no acceptance of responsibility for his actions. No remorse. In many ways, you're led to believe he seemingly doesn't think he's done anything wrong."

The hearing began with the prosecution calling Dr. Kristen Dudley, a clinical psychiatrist and one of the authors of a report issued last month by the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, recommending to the court that Cosby be designated a sexually violent predator.

The question of whether Cosby should receive such a designation was challenged by defense attorneys who argued the state's designation process is unconstitutional because it's too punitive. That's an issue pending before the state Supreme Court.

O'Neill partially rejected the defense team's argument, determining from the bench that "at least until the constitutional issue is resolved by the higher court, this action -- as of today -- is constitutional."

Cosby's lawyers also objected on grounds that the state's evidence is insufficient to support the designation. O'Neill said he would decide on Tuesday before sentencing Cosby, after hearing from the defense's expert witness on sexually violent predators whether there's sufficient evidence to support the designation.

In her testimony Monday, Dudley described how the state's Sexual Offenders Assessment Board undertakes an extensive review of any case it is asked to assess, including investigatory reports, legal documents, criminal complaints, transcripts from both trials and notes from law enforcement interviews with Cosby and witnesses.

In the Cosby case, she said, "there were boxes of documents to go through."

Dudley said one of the factors the board considered in reaching its conclusion was the fear that Cosby would offend again, which was challenged by defense attorney Joseph P. Green.

Green asked Dudley whether she was aware that Cosby is legally blind. She said she was aware of Cosby's condition, and that it did not change her opinion or recommendation.

Green later argued that "there was no reasonable prospect that an 81-year-old blind man is likely to offend."

Dudley said Cosby declined an invitation to be interviewed by the board.

Cosby does not plan to speak during the sentencing hearing, nor is he expected to call witnesses to speak on his behalf, his spokesman Andrew Wyatt said.

"He's said everything he's got to say," Wyatt said.

His lawyers, however, asked O'Neill for leniency, saying that Cosby is too old and infirm to survive incarceration.

"What does an 81-year-old man do?" Green said in court. "How does he fight off the people who try to extort him on a walk to the mess hall?"

Green also asked O'Neill to take into account the more than $3 million Cosby paid Constand to settle a civil lawsuit she brought against him in 2005.

Cosby was convicted on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from drugging and molesting Constand in his suburban Philadelphia home 14 years ago.

The conviction came about 11 months after a mistrial was declared in Cosby's first trial as that jury failed to reach a verdict.

On April 26, a jury of seven men and five women deliberated a little over 12 hours before reaching a unanimous verdict.

It's far from clear what sentence will be handed down to Cosby, and the possibilities range from probation or house arrest to years in prison.

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