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Teacher sentenced to 2 years in prison for firing gun in classroom

Authorities said mental health treatment was an important consideration in plea negotiations with a Dalton, Georgia, teacher who barricaded himself inside his classroom in February and fired a handgun.

>> Read more trending news

Randal Davidson pleaded guilty Tuesday to causing damage to property, carrying a gun on the campus and disrupting school operations. He apologized in court for his role in creating panic at Dalton High School during the incident, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen

No one was seriously hurt, but the Feb. 28 incident forced evacuations and sent panicked students running through the halls. One student suffered an ankle injury in the commotion.

Davidson, a former social studies teacher, was sentenced to two years in prison followed by eight years on probation.

His attorney, Richard Murray, said Davidson, 53, came to school that day intending to kill himself “in the place he felt loved,” the Daily Citizen reported.

“He did not mean to hurt those kids,” Murray told a judge during sentencing Tuesday. “But he was so absorbed in his own depression and his own mental illness that he just wasn't considering them. Yes, he is responsible for his actions, but there are mitigating factors."

A history of mental illness, severe financial pressure and the recent death of his father contributed to Davidson’s plans, Murray said.

Who Is Randal Davidson, Teacher Who Allegedly Fired Shot In Class (Dalton Public Schools)

Davidson had previously been hospitalized three times after authorities responded to calls about worrisome behavior, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. School officials were aware of those incidents and “were confident that Mr. Davidson was fit,” a spokesman for the district told The AJC. 

Investigators believe Davidson’s goal that day was likely to be killed by police, “an act sometimes described as ‘suicide by cop,’” District Attorney Bert Poston said in a statement.

Poston said he met with faculty and staf membersf, students and parents at the high school, about 91 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta, before deciding on the terms of the plea deal. The case involved nearly 2,000 victims, all of whom were given an opportunity to have their voice heard over a series of meetings.

Ultimately, the victims felt prison time was warranted, but it was important that Dalton seek mental health treatment at his own expense, the Daily Citizen reported. 

“All parties were in agreement about the final terms of the plea agreement and (the school’s principal) spoke at sentencing in support of the agreement,” Poston said

The February incident unnerved a community already on edge in the wake of a mass shooting at a Florida high school earlier that month.

School officials were first notified before third period that day, when some students arrived for Davidson’s class and he would not let them in the room, Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier said. 

The students told Principal Steve Bartoo. When he went to the door and used his key to try to open it, Davidson forcibly closed it on him, Frazier said. Davidson warned Bartoo he had a gun. Then the principal heard a gunshot.

The bullet went through a window and outside.

“Not knowing where the shot was aimed or if more were to follow, Bartoo retreated and put the school on immediate security lockdown,” Poston said. “Once authorities were notified and first responders were en route, Bartoo ordered an evacuation of the school starting with the classrooms nearest to Davidson’s.”

After about 30 to 45 minutes, authorities got Davidson to surrender.

Under the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop charges of aggravated assault and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime, the Daily Citizen reported. 

Davidson can’t have contact with current Dalton High students and he won’t be allowed on any school property as conditions of his sentence.

Pit bull shot, killed by veteran after attacking service dog at Florida animal clinic, police say

An Army veteran shot and killed a pit bull that was attacking his service dog at a Nassau County animal clinic, WJAX reports.

A witness told officers that James Strickland, a 70-year-old Army veteran with a concealed carry license, was holding his service dog back from a pit bull that was trying to attack it at the Fernandina Beach Animal Clinic.

>> Read more trending news 

Witnesses said the service dog was restrained and Strickland was holding it back as two people tried to pull the pit bull away.

Officers said as the dogs were momentarily separated, Strickland told the pit bull's handler twice that he would shoot the animal if it could not be restrained.

According to police, the pit bull broke free from its handlers and again attacked Strickland’s dog.

Strickland fired twice at the pit bull from very close range with a .38 caliber handgun, officers said.

According to witnesses, Strickland never pointed the weapon at any person, nor were any individuals in harm’s way when he discharged his firearm. 

Strickland's dog was not seriously hurt but did suffer visible scratches. 

Strickland’s dog is a Weimaraner named Betty Boop and is a VA service animal.

The pit bull, named Dozer, died at the scene, WJAX reports.

The dog’s primary owner Althea Brown was not at the scene, police said.

The pit bull was reportedly taken to the animal clinic for ringworm treatment by Mouhamadou Moustapha Ba and Courtney Scott, who also claimed to own the dog.

Scott said the pit bull slipped out of its collar as it was being put in their vehicle. 

Florida Statutes 767.03 provides for defense in killing a dog if it is believed that the attacking dog is intent on killing a domestic animal or livestock. 

Strickland told police he felt strongly that this attack would be fatal for his dog, officers said.

At this time, it is not believed that the pit bull has ever been declared dangerous, police said.

Ford recalling 550,000 Fusions, Escapes because vehicles could unexpectedly roll away

The Ford Motor Co. issued two safety recalls Wednesday affecting 550,000 Fusions and Escapes that could suddenly roll away when parked, the company said in a press release.

>> Read more trending news 

Ford believes that a faulty shifter cable bushing is responsible for the problem in 2013-16 model year vehicles and said it will replace the bushing for free.

In the meantime, Ford is urging owners to use the parking brake to make sure the vehicle is secure when parked.

“If the parking brake is not applied, a degraded shifter cable bushing that detaches from the transmission could result in unintended vehicle movement, increasing the risk of injury or crash,” the company said in a statement.

>> Related: Toyota recalling 645,000 vehicles because airbags might not inflate

Ford said it is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the malfunctioning part.

How to know if your child is overweight

It's easy to fall in love with your child's chubby cheeks and pudgy legs. But by the age of 2, if your toddler is heavier than the other children of the same age, it's possible that he or she may be overweight. 

>> Read more trending news 

How can you tell the difference between normal baby fat and an actual weight problem? Here's the skinny on excessive weight and obesity in children:

Is my child overweight? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Body Mass Index (BMI) is the best indicator. BMI is a measurement of someone's body fat based on his or her height and weight. A child at a normal or healthy weight should fall between the fifth and 85th percentiles for children of the same age and gender. If your kid's BMI is at or above the 85th percentile, then he or she is overweight. BMI scores in the 95th percentile are considered obese.

You can use a BMI calculator, such as the one on the KidsHealth website, to find out your kid's BMI. All you have to do is enter age, gender, height and weight and the tool will give you the BMI and a chart showing the percentile.

What to do if your child has a high BMI

KidsHealth noted that a high BMI is not always a sign of trouble. There are certain times when a child might gain weight -- during a growth spurt, for example -- and the BMI will go up temporarily. That's why most doctors track these numbers over time. It's important to see if there's a consistent trend.

Most pediatricians start keeping track of your child's weight around the age of 2. If you're worried that your little one might be at risk, bring it up during your next visit.

How to manage your child's weight

Being overweight can lead to quite a few problems for your little one. Overweight or obese children often end up with other health issues and they can carry their weight struggles into adulthood. The CDC noted that “children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their average weight peers. They are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression and lower self-esteem.”

So what can you do to keep your kid healthy? Parents Magazine offered the following recommendations:

  • Avoid foods that are high in starch: Starchy foods can quickly dissolve into glucose, so switching to foods high in protein can make a big difference.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables with a low glycemic index: A food's glycemic index will tell you how fast that item's carbohydrates will turn into glucose. The lower the index number, the longer your child will likely feel full.
  • Add protein to meals and snacks: Healthy fruits and vegetables can make a world of difference if you're trying to cut unhealthy snacks and sides from your kid's diet.
  • Watch out for highly processed foods: These choices are usually not as healthy as natural foods.
  • Make healthy eating a family affair: Nobody likes to feel singled out. Pushing the whole family toward healthier eating habits can benefit everyone and avoid making your child feel uncomfortable at the dinner table.

FDA asks: Is almond milk or soy milk really even milk?

In a blow to plant-based milk enthusiasts, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Tuesday announced a crackdown on “standards of identity” for non-dairy milks.

>> Read more trending news

“An almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess,” Gottlieb said in a keynote address at Politico’s Pro Summit, citing the FDA’s standards that reference milk as coming from a lactating animal.

“[These] are basically regulations that define recipes for how products need to be manufactured in order to call themselves, for example, ketchup. How many tomatoes do you need to actually call something ‘ketchup?’” he said.

Today, there are a variety of plant-based “milks” on the market, including soy, almond and coconut milks, not to mention multiple dairy alternatives.

Cow’s milk and soy milk contain about 8g of protein per cup, whereas almond, coconut and rice milk contain only 0-1g of protein per cup.

Here are some key differences in calories, protein and more among the five, composed by NBCNews.com:

  • Dairy milk: 110 calories; 2.5g fat (1.5g sat fat); 8g protein; 12g carbohydrate; 12g sugar; 0g fiber
  • Soy milk: 110 calories; 4.5g fat (0.5g sat fat); 8g protein; 9g carbohydrate; 6g sugar; 2g fiber
  • Almond milk: 30 calories; 0g fat (0g sat fat); 1g protein; 1g carbohydrate; 0g sugar; 1g fiber
  • Coconut milk: 45 calories; 4.5g fat (4g sat fat); 0g protein; 1g carbohydrate; <1g sugar; 0g fiber
  • Rice milk: 120 calories; 2.5g fat (0g sat fat); 1g protein; 23g carbohydrate; 10g sugar; 0g fiber

The National Milk Producers Federation “welcomed Gottlieb’s recognition today that the labeling practices of many plant-based dairy imitators violate long-standing federal standards,” NMPF spokesman Chris Galen said in a statement, according to ABC News.

“The move would be a major boon for dairy groups, which have been struggling amid dropping prices and global oversupply,” Politico reported. “The industry has petitioned FDA to enforce marketing standards for milk, but the agency has not previously addressed the issue.”

Gottlieb said the plan to redefine the rules for milk products is going to take some time and lawsuits against the agency are expected, because “if you open our standard of identity, it talks about a lactating animal but if you open a dictionary, it talks about a milk coming from a lactating animal or a nut,” he said.

Read FDA’s milk guidance documents and regulatory information.

Atlanta students take home top prizes at Harvard University debate competition

A high school student from Atlanta took home the top prize at a prestigious international debate competition at Harvard University over the weekend. 

Jordan Thomas, who attends Grady High School, took home first place at the annual Harvard Debate Council tournament, where scholars from all over the world come together to debate social and political issues. 

Thomas was one of a group of 25 African-American students from Atlanta who were selected this year to attend the tournament through the inaugural year of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project. The Atlanta-based initiative was created to recruit, train and sponsor minority students to participate in the annual program at the Ivy League university. 

>> Read more trending news 

The group didn't just participate -- they excelled. 

In addition to Thomas' win, two out of the four teams participating made it to the semi-final round -- beating out hundreds of other students. 

"Our kids dominated the competition," Diversity Project creator Brandon Fleming told WSB. "Of our 12 teams, 10 advanced past preliminary rounds."

Fleming, a Harvard assistant debate coach and a former teacher at Ron Clark Academy, said he created the Diversity Project because he saw so few African-Americans represented at the competition. 

For its first year, the Diversity Project had more than 150 applicants in Atlanta, out of which 25 were selected. Most of the students -- chosen from 16 high schools across Atlanta -- had little experience with debate. 

The young students spent eight months learning public speaking, analysis, critical thinking and debate skills before attending the two-week summer intensive program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their tuition, travel and board were fully funded through corporate sponsors including Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola and the Art Institute of Atlanta. 

Thomas said in a news release that he was thrilled to bring first place back to Atlanta.

“To bring the championship back to Atlanta was the most satisfying feeling, and to walk onto the campus of one of the most elite universities in the world and meet personal and council goals, brings a unique and new satisfaction that I’ve never experienced,” Thomas said in a statement.

Thomas said he was also happy to be able to challenge stereotypes and represent his city.

“Being a young, middle class, black, public school student from the South created a stigma that automatically set me back in comparison to the competition, most of who were international students or from preparatory schools in the Northeast,” Thomas said. “But I was determined to represent my city and my story. I wanted people to see where I came from and how I could keep up with them.

Applications for the 2019 Harvard Debate Council open Aug. 15. More than 350 nominations have already been submitted. 

McDonald’s giving away free french fries through the end of the year

McDonald’s is giving away free french fries for the remainder of 2018.

Every Friday until December 30, you can get an order of medium fries for free, McDonald’s announced as part of a promotion for National French Fry Day.

>> Read more trending news 

>>Related: Celebrate National French Fry day with what else, french fry deals

In order to get the free fries, customers have to download the McDonald’s app to get the deal’s coupon.

Customers also have to make a purchase of at least $1 to redeem.

Charges against strippers arrested with Stormy Daniels dropped, report says

Update 5:30 EDT July 18: The charges against the two strippers arrested with adult film star Stormy Daniels last week in Columbus, Ohio, have been dropped, according to BuzzFeed News.

>> Read more trending news 

Brittany Walters and Miranda Panda were taken into custody along with Daniels early last Thursday at the Sirens Gentleman’s Club.

Daniels, who was charged with three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business, was released hours later, but the other two remained jailed on charges related to a 2007 state law that prohibits anyone who isn’t a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude performer, according to The Associated Press.

In Daniels’ case, officials noted in a motion to dismiss the charges that the law applies only to regular performers.

Police said at the time that the arrests of Daniels, Walters and Panda were  "part of a long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution, along with other vice-related violations,” but a Columbus judge, in dismissing the charges against Daniels, said her arrest was a “mistake.”

>> Related: Who is Stormy Daniels, the woman who claims to have had an affair with President Trump?

The charges against Walters and Panda were dropped Wednesday because the facts of the case "do not meet the elements required to prosecute under this law," Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement.

(Original story)

Prosecutors dropped charges against adult film star Stormy Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, after she was arrested early Thursday on accusations of inappropriate touching while performing at a strip club in Columbus.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 7:30 p.m. EDT July 12: Stormy Daniels has changed her plans and won’t return for an encore performance at a strip club in Columbus where she was arrested early Thursday.

Her lawyer Michael Avenatti says the adult performer is looking for another club in the area where she can perform.

Daniels was arrested early Thursday on charges she let customers at the Sirens Gentleman’s Club touch her inappropriately, which is against the law in Ohio at an adult club. 

Update 7:00 p.m. EDT July 12: The show must go on. Stormy Daniels is returning to the Sirens Gentleman’s Club in Columbus, Ohio, Thursday night for a follow-up show.

The adult film star was arrested after a performance at the club early Thursday on three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexual oriented activity. The charges were later dropped.

“I'll be going onstage tonight at Sirens in Columbus to perform for my fans and register voters as planned. Can't stop the storm,” Daniels tweeted Thursday afternoon. 

She also said she’ll donate her tips from Thursday night’s performance to two other dancers who were also arrested, but are still facing charges in the case.

Update 3:10 p.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told The Associated Press that his client was “traumatized and rattled” after her arrest. He earlier told MSNBC that female undercover police officers asked if they could put their faces between Daniels’ breasts while she was performing on-stage at Sirens Gentleman’s Club in Columbus.

Avenatti told the AP that Daniels was in her tour bus after Wednesday night’s performance when officers knocked on her door. She was arrested on three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business, but the charges were later dropped after prosecutors determined she was working as a guest at the club and not a regular performer. State law prohibits anyone who isn't a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude regular dancer at adult establishments, according to The Associated Press.

Update 1:30 p.m. EDT July 12: Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein confirmed in a statement Thursday that charges have been dismissed against Daniels following her arrest at Sirens Gentleman’s Club.

Daniels was arrested on three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business. Two other performers, identified by police as Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters, were also arrested.

“I’ve determined that these crimes were not committed, based on the fact that Ms. Clifford has not made regular appearances at this establishment as required under the law,” Klein said. “We’ll do the same inquiry for the other defendants involved, as well.”

Update 12:55 p.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney confirmed Thursday afternoon that charges were dropped against his client.

Police arrested Daniels early Thursday while she was appearing at Sirens Gentleman's Club in Columbus. She was arrested after she inappropriately touched undercover officers who were at the strip club as part of a long-term sting operation unrelated to Daniels, according to police. She was charged with three counts of illegal sexual oriented activity in a sexually oriented business.

The charges were based on a 2007 Ohio law that prohibits anyone who isn't a family member from touching a nude or semi-nude dancer, according to The Associated Press. However, officials noted in a motion to dismiss the case that the law applies only to regular performers

"In this case, there has been no evidence provided to the State that Defendant appears or has appeared regularly at Sirens," Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein wrote in the state's motion to dismiss.

Daniels was scheduled to appear twice at Sirens, on Wednesday and Thursday night. However, Avenatti announced her second scheduled appearance had been canceled in light of her arrest.

Update 11:10 a.m. EDT July 12: The state law used early Thursday to justify the arrest of Daniels and two other performers at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, has been used 88 times in Franklin County since 2008, WCMH reported.

The 2007 law was introduced by a conservative religious group and bars dancers from touching customers and vice versa, save for immediate family members, The Associated Press reported. Police said Daniels was charged with three counts of illegal sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business as part of a long-term investigation of alleged human trafficking and prostitution in Columbus.

A spokeswoman for Columbus’ city attorney told the AP that the charges carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine per count, should Daniels be convicted.

Update 10:45 a.m. EDT July 12: Police said they arrested Daniels and two other performers early Thursday at Sirens in Columbus "as part of a long-term investigation into allegations of human trafficking, prostitution, along with other vice related violations."

In a news release Thursday, officials said Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, was arrested along with Miranda Panda, of Marion, Ohio, and Brittany Walters, of Pickering, Ohio.

Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said she will plead not guilty to three misdemeanor counts of illegal sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business. In an appearance Thursday morning on MSNBC, Avenatti characterized his client’s arrest as being part of a “sting operation.”

Update 10 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told MSNBC on Thursday that female undercover officers asked his client to allow them to put their faces between her breasts before her arrest in Columbus early on Thursday.

“Unbeknownst to her, the police had set up a sting operation in the strip club with multiple officers,” Avenatti said. “I think it’s an absurd use of law enforcement resources.”

Update 7:38 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels issued a statement saying her Thursday performance in Columbus has been canceled.

>> On MyAJC.com: Stormy Daniels headed to Atlanta in July

Meanwhile, WSYX’s Mike McCarthy tweeted that police also arrested two other performers on illegal touching charges at the Sirens strip club overnight.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Status of Stormy Daniels’ Dayton, Ohio-area appearance unclear after Columbus arrest

Update 6:52 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted that his client will plead “not guilty” to the charges.

Update 6:41 a.m. EDT July 12: WSYX’s Mike McCarthy reports that Daniels was released from jail on $6,000 bond. 

WCMH reporter Matt Edwards tweeted that “Daniels was picked up minutes ago by a sedan with WV plates.”

Update 6:03 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH reporter Hattie Hawks tweeted that Daniels’ “bond has been posted by Denver Nicks.”

Update 5:49 a.m. EDT July 12: The charging documents reveal more information about the allegations against Daniels. 

>> See an image of the complaint here (WARNING: Discretion advised.)

Update 5:16 a.m. EDT July 12: WSYX’s Mike McCarthy tweeted that Daniels “is accused of touching three @ColumbusPolice officers during her appearance at #Sirens.”

According to WBNS, Daniels fondled patrons and undercover officers, police said. 

Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, told WBNS that his client’s arrest “was politically motivated.”

He added: “There's no question these officers were undercover at that strip club. They knew my client would be performing there, and I find this to be a complete waste of resources.”

WBNS reporter Tino Ramos also shared a video of Daniels walking into the Jackson Pike Correctional Facility.

Update 4:33 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH’s Matt Edwards just tweeted a photo that appears to show officers leading Daniels into the jail.

Update 4:22 a.m. EDT July 12: WCMH is reporting that Daniels’ arraignment is scheduled for Friday morning at Franklin County Municipal Court.

Daniels is being charged with “illegally sexually oriented activity in a sexually oriented business,” a first-degree misdemeanor, according to WCMH’s Olivia Fecteau.

Meanwhile, comedian Kathy Griffin took to Twitter to call out Columbus area law enforcement.

Update 3:28 a.m. EDT July 12: According to WCMH reporter Olivia Fecteau, Daniels “has not yet been booked into jail.” Jail workers said Daniels will be booked at the Franklin County Correctional Facility II on Jackson Pike, Fecteau tweeted.

Update 2:52 a.m. EDT July 12: Daniels was performing at a club called Sirens when she was arrested, WCMH reporter Olivia Fecteau tweeted early Thursday. When Fecteau called the club, the person on the line declined to comment, she said.

According to Fecteau, “Ohio Revised Code 2907.40 outlines charges against either a patron who touches an employee (or vice versa) who is nude or semi-nude. Depending on what happened, the charge can be a first- or fourth-degree misdemeanor.”

Original report: Porn star Stormy Daniels has been arrested in Columbus, Ohio, her attorney tweeted early Thursday.

“Just rcvd word that my client @StormyDaniels was arrested in Columbus Ohio [while] performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs,” wrote Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer. “This was a setup & politically motivated. It reeks of desperation. We will fight all bogus charges. #Basta.”

>> Trump acknowledges he reimbursed Cohen, lawyer who paid Stormy Daniels

In a second tweet, he added: “She was arrested for allegedly allowing a customer to touch her while on stage in a non sexual manner! Are you kidding me? They are devoting law enforcement resources to sting operations for this? There has to be higher priorities!!! #SetUp #Basta.”

>> Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city

He continued: “We expect her to be released on bail shortly. We also expect that she will be charged with a misdemeanor for allowing ‘touching.’ We will vehemently contest all charges. #Basta.”

>> Read more trending news 

Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, claims that she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006, more than a decade before he became president. Daniels is now suing Trump and his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement that she signed days before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen reportedly paid her $130,000 after she signed the agreement.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show is coming to Netflix

If you couldn’t get a ticket to Bruce Springsteen’s lauded appearances on Broadway, at least there’s the TV version.

Netflix will launch “Springsteen on Broadway” on Dec. 15, the same night as the artist’s final show of what will be a 236-performance run at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York.

>> Read more trending news 

Springsteen’s historic series of intimate, acoustic solo concerts began in October 2017 and has been extended three times after its initial eight-week run. 

Based on his autobiography, “Born to Run,” Springsteen’s one-man event does feature a special appearance by his wife, Patti Scialfa. 

The show is directed and produced by Emmy-winner Thom Zimny, who will also produce the film version along with Springsteen’s longtime manager Jon Landau, tour director George Travis and Landau Management partner Barbara Carr.

Parents charged with murder after 4-month-old son suffocates while in ‘timeout’

A New Jersey couple is accused of smothering their 4-month-old with a comforter by putting the boy in a “timeout” when he would not stop crying, authorities said. 

William Herring, 42, and Brianna Brochhausen, 22, of Mahwah, are each charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. According to a news release from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, Herring and Brochhausen were arrested Monday by troopers with the New Jersey State Police. 

Police officers and paramedics were sent on Valentine’s Day to the Hilltop Motel in Springfield Township, where the couple was living at the time, after they called 911 and said their infant son, Hunter, had stopped breathing. He was rushed by ambulance to Virtua Hospital in Mount Holly, where doctors transferred him to the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

While in the PICU, Hunter had minimal brain activity and needed a respirator to breathe, the news release said. He died March 3 after doctors removed him from life support.  

Photos on Brochhausen’s Facebook page show that Hunter was a twin. His sister, Harley, will be 10 months old later this month. 

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in the news release that the couple became frustrated the night of Feb. 14 when Hunter would not stop crying. They decided he needed a “timeout,” the prosecutor said. 

“He was positioned on his stomach on the bed, and the comforter was pulled over him, covering his head and entire body,” Coffina said. “The parents then went outside to smoke cigarettes, returning to the room approximately 10 minutes later, where they discovered that Hunter was not breathing and was unresponsive.”

It was unclear where the surviving twin was at the time that the victim stopped breathing. Hunter’s autopsy found that he died of complications of suffocation, the news release said. 

“The thoughtless actions of these individuals ended up costing a defenseless 4-month-old infant his life,” Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said in a statement. “I commend the detectives of our Homicide South Unit and Criminal Investigation Office for their commitment and dedication to finding justice for baby Hunter.”

>> Read more trending news

Coffina pointed out the help that is available for new parents who find themselves struggling. 

“The responsibilities of becoming a new parent can sometimes be overwhelming,” Coffina said. “Those who find themselves at a point of crisis when caring for a newborn child should know that help is available, and they must seek that help rather than taking actions that might harm their child.”

Parents Anonymous of New Jersey offers parent support groups, as well as a 24-hour Stressline/Family Helpline. Helpline volunteers listen to the concerns of parents and provide referral and crisis intervention information. 

The helpline can be reached at 1-800-THE-KIDS, and additional information about resources can be found on the organization’s website

New Jersey also has a Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, which allows parents or their representatives to anonymously surrender a newborn baby at any hospital emergency room, police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid or rescue squad that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The law is for parents of babies up to 30 days old. 

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