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Step father sentenced to 30 years over New Mexico boy’s death

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A New Mexico man was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Tuesday for not doing enough to help his 9-year-old step son who police said was kicked to death by the boy’s mother two years ago.

Stephen Casaus was convicted by a jury in September of five counts including child abuse with reckless disregard resulting in the death of the child, Omaree Varela, and he had faced up to 35 years behind bars. The child’s mother, Synthia Varela-Casaus, is scheduled for a mental competency hearing in January.

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Police have accused the couple of waiting nearly an hour after the incident on Dec. 27, 2013, before calling 911.

Casaus told the court in Albuquerque he was “heartbroken every day” by what had happened, that he had made mistakes in his life, but that he was not a child abuser.

But District Court Judge Stan Whitaker told him he found it “difficult, difficult, difficult” to believe that a mistake had led to the death of the boy.

“Nobody disagrees with you that we wish this day had never occurred and that Omaree as a child would not have suffered as he did,” Whitaker said. “Certainly, his mom will be held accountable for her part, but we’re not here for her part, we’re here about your part.”

The judge sentenced Casaus to 30 years followed by two years of parole then five years of supervised probation.

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Casaus could also face an additional nine years in prison on state drug dealing and federal weapons charges for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

(Reporting by Joseph Kolb; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Bernard Orr)

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‘Giuliani did all the wrong things’ on 9/11: Investigative reporter Wayne Barrett

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Janine Jackson interviewed the Village Voice’s Wayne Barrett about Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 for the August 17, 2007, episode of CounterSpin; that conversation was rebroadcast for the November 29, 2019, show. This is a lightly edited transcript.

[audio mp3="https://www.rawstory.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/CounterSpin191129Barrett.mp3"][/audio]

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Teenage boy’s family objects to ProPublica publication of video detailing his death

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The family of a teenage boy whose death ProPublica investigated has objected to the publication of a surveillance video that documented his last hours.

Yesterday, ProPublica published a detailed account of failings and missteps by the U.S. Border Patrol, in whose custody 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez died. As part of the story, ProPublica published several moments from a lengthy surveillance video in which Carlos struggles on the floor of his cell and then stops moving. The video, which had not been shared with Congress or the public, contradicts the government’s claim that Carlos was discovered as a result of a “welfare check.’’ It shows that his cellmate awoke, saw his motionless body, and summoned Border Patrol agents.

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Mass rally marks six-month anniversary of Hong Kong protest movement

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Hong Kong democracy protesters are hoping for huge crowds later Sunday at a rally they have billed as a "last chance" for the city's pro-Beijing leaders in a major test for the six-month-old movement.

The march comes two weeks after pro-establishment parties got a drubbing in local elections, shattering government claims that a "silent majority" opposed the protests.

But activists say public anger is building once more after chief executive Carrie Lam and Beijing ruled out any further concessions despite the landslide election defeat.

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