Michel Escoto of South Florida was convicted Tuesday of murdering his newlywed wife in 2002 so he could collect $1 million from a large insurance policy he took out on her life. The 42-year-old attempted to drug her and drown her, but finally settled on beating her to death with a tire iron, prosecutors determined.
Michel Escoto had married 21-year-old Wendy Trapaga back in October 2002, but just four days later, he attempted to kill her. During their honeymoon to Key West, Escoto attempted to drug her with ground-up painkillers, but she said that her drink was too chalky, according to the Associated Press.
Just a few days later, he attempted to drown her in a Jacuzzi at the Executive Airport Motel in Miami, but couldn't get her to stay underneath the water. Later that night he drove her to a warehouse and strangled and beat her with a tire iron. more >>
The Supreme Court is being asked to review California's ban on sexual orientation change efforts for LGBT youth. A non-profit legal group defending religious freedom argues that it violates free speech and the rights of minors.
"Our Constitution was established to protect the people from renegade lawmakers," Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, said Wednesday. "This law is a prime example of legislators who care more about politically correct speech than free speech, and more about perks from special interest groups than the rights of children."
The law group is representing a psychiatrist, a licensed therapist who also oversees a church counseling ministry, and an individual dealing with same-sex attraction who claims to have benefited from such therapy before it was banned. more >>
NEW YORK – Pastors in New York City are optimistic that a policy banning churches from using public schools for worship services will be reversed despite a recent court ruling upholding that policy.
Pastor William Devlin, co-chair of Right to Worship New York City, told The Christian Post Wednesday that the mayor is on their side.
"Pastors across New York City are very encouraged about recent developments on the right to worship. We know that Mayor de Blasio is with us 100 percent and any day we will hear that he has reversed the draconian and discriminatory Department of Education policy ... we have his word," Devlin said. more >>
The death toll in the South Korea ferry disaster has reached 108 people. Crew members were arrested along with the ship's captain for their decisions last week during the sinking.
"We pray for the Sewol victims who lost their precious lives due to the accident," Chonghaejin Marine, which operated the ferry, said in a statement. "We prostrate ourselves before the victims' families and beg for forgiveness."
Rescue workers are still searching for 190 missing passengers, as more new bodies are being found every day. BBC News reported that it is still not clear what caused the incident last week, when the ferry "Sewol" sank off the southern coast near Jindo carrying 459 people on board, mostly students. more >>
Two Oklahoma State inmates have won the right to have their executions stayed until they learn exactly what drugs will be used in their executions and where they came from. The Oklahoma Supreme Court voted 5-4 to stay the executions until a proper hearing on the lawsuit can be heard.
Clayton Lockett was due to be executed April 22 for the death of 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman. The stay came just one day before he was to be put to death. A fellow inmate scheduled to be put to death on April 29 for the death of his roommate's 11-month-old daughter has also been temporarily spared.
Last month the state disclosed that it would be using up to five different drug combinations for executions after solutions of pentobarbital have been banned from being sold to the U.S. There has been a shroud of secrecy protecting the pharmacists and pharmacies that provide the drugs used in the executions, much to the dismay of prisoners and their lawyers. more >>
A small, coastal town in central California has settled a lawsuit regarding prayer at City Council meetings, ultimately agreeing to no longer hold any form of prayer, whether sectarian or non-sectarian, ahead of the local government meetings. City officials say they decided to settle the lawsuit to avoid further legal costs paid by taxpayer money.
Pismo Beach city officials announced their settlement earlier this week, nearly six months after the Freedom From Religion Foundation [FFRF] and the local chapter of Atheists United San Luis Obispo filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing that it had violated the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state and the state Constitution's "No Preference" Clause by allowing predominately Christian-themed prayers before city council meetings.
The groups argued that the city had allowed its volunteer chaplain, the Rev. Paul E. Jones, to lead predominately Christian prayers ahead of city council meetings from 2008 to 2013. The lawsuit alleged that Jones often called on Pismo Beach citizens to live a "Christian lifestyle in accordance with the bible," among other sectarian statements. more >>