Fire destroyed their home during Harvey. But a Virgin Mary statue survived

(CNN)It wasn’t just wind and rain that caused damage when Hurricane Harvey blasted through the Texas coast. Fires did their share too.

But they also found something in the ashes that they say gave them hope — an intact statue of the Virgin Mary.
“Some may blame God and some may blame the hurricane but the only thing standing were holy things,” Natali Rojas told CNN affiliate KRIS. “As you can see this statue is the only thing that survived. I dug in there for things and all I found is a Virgin Mary.”
    The family said the Robstown Fire Department battled the flames even as the hurricane raged.
    “I wanna thank the Fire Department of Robstown for courage to show up in the storm while the tremendous power, the wind, the rain were going and they were still out here trying their best. It was incredible,” said Jesus Rojas, Natali Rojas’ father.
    The family is taking the statue’s survival as a sign that they can make it, too.
    “Appreciate what you have, listen to the warnings, hug your children and thank God for today and yesterday, and pray for a better tomorrow,” Natali Rojas said.

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    Day care driver expected to face charges after boy found dead in van

    (CNN)A Florida day care center employee is expected to face charges after a 3-year-old boy was found dead in a parked van, police in Orlando said Tuesday.

    Myles Hill was found on the floor at the back of the van parked at the Little Miracles Academy day care center around 6:30 p.m. on Monday, police told reporters. Police Chief John Mina said authorities believe he had been in the vehicle since around 9 a.m. that morning. The high temperature in Orlando on Monday was about 93 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Weather Underground.
    The cause of Myles’ death has not been determined, but Mina said that based on the evidence, it is believed to be heat-related. “This was an absolute tragedy that could have been prevented,” Mina told reporters on Tuesday.
      The van is used by employees to transport children from one day care location to another — as well as pick them up and drop them off at their homes.
      Mina said an employee, who has not been named publicly, had used the van Monday to move a group of children, including Myles, from one location to another. The employee dropped the children off and returned the van to the first location at around 9 a.m. It then sat in the parking lot until police were called later that night.It was unclear whether the employee locked the van after using it.
      Myles would have turned 4 on August 22.
      The Little Miracles Academy could not be reached by CNN. Multiple calls were unanswered and the website for the day care was down.

      No head count taken

      Employees found Myles’ body after his grandmother and legal guardian called the center because he was not dropped off at home that afternoon. Family members said employees at the center told them that Myles had not been seen at the day care center all day, according to CNN affiliate News 13.
      Vivian Chaney, who identified herself as Myles’ aunt to News 13, said that Myles’ attendance never came up when family members called the center on Monday to ask about school uniforms. “There should have been some kind of head count,” Chaney told News 13.
      The employee who drove the van allegedly told police there was no head count of the children when they were dropped off at the second location — and staff did not realize Myles was still in the van. Mina said he was unaware of any procedure the academy had for contacting families when a child who was expected at the center did not arrive.
      Mina said there are charges pending against the employee, but refused to expand on what the charges might be — and did not identify the individual involved. An autopsy is being conducted and charges will be filed once it is complete, Mina said.
      If Myles’ death is determined to be heat-related, he will be the 32nd child this year to die in a hot car in the United States — and the fifth in Florida, police said. An average of 37 children die each year in hot cars, according to safety organization Kids and Cars.

      Center closed ‘until further notice’

      Inspection reports from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) indicate that Little Miracles Academy has failed to comply with multiple standards for personnel records, supervision and transportation, dating back to 2015.
      In June 2015, the DCF found that staff had failed to include a signed Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Requirements form in its personnel records. According to the department, all child care personnel are required by law to report any “suspicions of child abuse, neglect or abandonment.”
      In March 2017, the department found that staff were not “within sight and hearing” of the children during nap time. In July, the department said the facility’s transportation log failed to include multiple required elements, including destination and arrival times and locations.
      Mina told reporters Tuesday that the DCF is conducting an “operational investigation” of Little Miracles Academy in response to Myles’ death.
      According to a tweet from News 13 reporter Jerry Hume, a note has been placed on the doors of Little Miracles Academy that says “closed until further notice.”

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      NAACP issues its first statewide travel advisory, for Missouri

      (CNN)The NAACP is sending a strong message to people of color traveling through Missouri: Go at your own risk.

      The organization is circulating a travel advisory after the state passed a law that Missouri’s NAACP conference says allows for legal discrimination. The warning cites several discriminatory incidents in Missouri, included as examples of “looming danger” in the state.
      The NAACP says this is the first travel advisory ever issued by the organization, at the state or national level. The Missouri conference initially published the advisory in June, and it was recognized nationally at the NAACP’s annual convention last week.
        “Individuals traveling in the state are advised to travel with extreme CAUTION,” the advisory warns. “Race, gender and color based crimes have a long history in Missouri.”

        Why now?

        The advisory was issued after Senate Bill 43 — which makes it more difficult for employees to prove their protected class, like race or gender, directly led to unlawful discrimination — passed through the Missouri Legislature in June. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed it into law soon after.
        Greitens and other supporters of the bill have said it puts Missouri’s standards for lawsuits in line with other states.
        But that’s not how the NAACP sees it. The Missouri NAACP State Conference called the legislation a “Jim Crow Bill.”
        “This does not follow the morals of Missouri,” Conference President Rod Chapel Jr. told CNN. “I hate to see Missouri get dragged down deep past the notion of treating people with dignity.”
        There have been other instances of discrimination in the state that could have elicited an advisory before this, several of which are listed in the warning. Among them are racist incidents reported at the University of Missouri that prompted protests across campus in 2015, as well as the state attorney general’s annual report that found black drivers were stopped by police at a rate 75% higher than white drivers.
        Chapel said he met with Greitens about the Senate bill several times. After the bill passed, he said they had a “fair and frank discussion” about what the legislation would do. At a later meeting, Chapel said he brought several faith leaders in the community to talk with the governor about theology and morality.
        “Ultimately, none of that worked,” Chapel said.
        Neither the governor’s office nor the Missouri Division of Tourism responded to multiple requests for comment.

        What does it mean?

        The advisory doesn’t tell people to not go to Missouri. Rather, the NAACP wants minority travelers to be aware of what it says are potential risks.
        “People should tell their relatives if they have to travel through the state, they need to be aware,” Chapel said. “They should have bail money, you never know.”
        In the advisory, the NAACP urges individuals to “warn your families, co-workers and anyone visiting Missouri to beware of the safety concerns with travel in Missouri.” These concerns, the organization writes, could include unnecessary search and seizures and potential arrest.
        Traditionally, travel advisories are released ahead of severe weather or political disruptions. The State Department publishes international travel warnings and alerts for countries with ongoing violence, frequent terrorist attacks or increased health risks, to name a few.
        The ACLU has issued travel advisories similar to the NAACP’s in the past: one for Arizona in 2010, and one in Texas earlier this year. Both advisories were circulated after state laws passed allowing law enforcement officers to question a person’s immigration status.

        What will it take for the advisory to be lifted?

        After SB43 passed through the Legislature, the initial travel advisory was supposed to last until August 28, when the bill would potentially go into effect.
        That changed when Greitens signed it into law.
        “We see this travel advisory remaining in effect for the foreseeable future,” Chapel said.
        He wants to see several changes in the state before the advisory is lifted, starting with the repeal of the law that prompted the advisory in the first place.
        Chapel also said there should be a plan in place on how the state is going to address people of color being stopped by police at a disproportionate rate. He also wants to see a change in how Missouri prosecutors handle hate crimes.
        “We need to have some basic ground rules for how human beings treat each other,” Chapel said.

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        Oklahoma sheriff, 5 others indicted in prisoner’s death

        (CNN)An Oklahoma sheriff and five other people have been indicted in the death of a prisoner who was held in a restraint chair more than 48 hours without adequate food, water or medical care, authorities said.

        He was placed in a restraint chair June 6, found unresponsive in the chair June 8 and pronounced dead at the jail that day, the release said. During his time in the chair, Huff was not given “proper amounts of food, water or medical treatment for illnesses he was suffering from,” the release said.
        In documents released this week, state authorities announced that second-degree manslaughter charges had been filed against Jerry Niles, 53, sheriff of Garfield County since 2013. Enid, the Garfield County seat, is about 115 miles west of Tulsa.
          Others charged with second-degree manslaughter were jail administrator Jennifer Niles, 34; assistant jail administrator John Markus, 29; detention officer Shawn Galusha, 37; nurse practitioner Lela Goatley, 57; and licensed practical nurse Vanisa Gay, 38.
          CNN reached out to the lawyer representing Jerry Niles and a lawyer representing three of the other defendants for comment, but has not received a reply.
          Court documents do not detail what roles they played in Huff’s death. The charge can be punished by two to four years in prison, up to one year in a county jail or $1,000 fine, the attorney general’s office said.
          An autopsy performed June 9, 2016, said Huff died of natural causes, with the probable cause of death being chronic alcoholism due to a compulsive condition from a prior disease.
          Through their lawyer, the Huff family issued a statement saying they appreciate the time prosecutors and the grand jury “have devoted to fully understand the horrific circumstances surrounding the death of their loved one, and their willingness to hold those who are responsible accountable for their actions.”
          In a federal lawsuit filed June 6, 2017, lawyers allege jail employees were negligent because they should have known about Huff’s medical conditions from previous incarcerations and been aware that he took medications for heart disease, hypertension, depression and other conditions.
          Huff started hallucinating and exhibiting delusions at some point during his incarceration and was placed in the restraint chair, the lawsuit says.
          Jail personnel didn’t receive a medical recommendation to use the chair, the lawsuit says, and jail employees didn’t check his blood pressure regularly, didn’t give him blood pressure medication and didn’t offer him hydration every two hours.
          Jail policy required the employees to check on Huff every 15 minutes but they didn’t do so, the lawsuit says.
          A response filed by Jerry Niles’ lawyer denies most of the allegations in the civil complaint, says the jail staff was property trained and says Huff’s constitutional rights were not violated.
          The defendants in the lawsuit are Jerry Niles, Jennifer Niles, Lela Goatley, three John Does (individuals who will be named later), the Garfield County Detention Center, the Garfield County Board of Commissioners and Turn Key Health Clinics, a company that provides health care to the jail.

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          Honorary Alaska ‘mayor,’ Stubbs the cat, dies at 20

          (CNN)In today’s political climate, catty politicians claw for every vote, but the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, was different. His ability to unite through cuddles and his fondness for naps made him remarkable, and this mayor — Stubbs the cat — also proved that opposable thumbs aren’t necessary for success in politics.

          The honorary mayor of the small Alaska town, elected as a write-in in 1997 due to a paucity of viable human candidates, died at age 20, according to a Saturday news release from his owners.
          “He was a trouper until the very last day of his life,” Stubbs’ owners said. “You are are a remarkable cat and we will dearly miss you.”

            A life in the spotlight

            Stubbs served Talkeetna for 20 years. His office, at Nagley’s Store, became a destination for locals and tourists alike who sought sage council from the cat.
            And although Stubbs lacked the legislative and rhetorical prowess of a typical politician, he always did well in the polls.
            “Over 75% of visitors ask ‘Where’s the mayor?’ or come in with this statement ‘I have an appointment with the mayor,'” the news release said. “I think we heard those two statements over 100 times a day during our first year.”
            Stubbs’ career wasn’t completely free of controversy, though.
            In 2013, Stubbs suffered a vicious attack from a neighborhood dog that left him sidelined in a hospital.
            But even a punctured lung, fractured sternum and deep lacerations couldn’t keep him from his duties. Stubbs recovered and assumed all his previous mayoral responsibilities.

            A steady health decline

            Although he loved the attention as a kitten and younger cat, Stubbs’ life in the public eye eventually began to wear on him.
            He began a retreat from public life in 2015 due to old age, and he cut back on visits to the store, according to the news release.
            By 2017, Stubbs just wasn’t having it anymore.
            “Stubbs did a couple TV shows and more than a handful of interviews, but was not fond of the camera and all the people; it had gotten to be too much for him,” his owners said.
            In the wake of his death, his owners hinted another of their kittens, Denali, may assume his role.
            “We couldn’t have asked for a better understudy than Denali — he really has followed in Stubbs’ pawprints in just about everything.”

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            Tennessee county inmates get reduced jail time for getting a vasectomy

            (CNN)Yes, you read that right. Inmates in White County, Tennessee, can shave 30 days off their jail sentence if they undergo an elective birth control procedure.

            Both male and female inmates can volunteer for the new program. Women receive a Nexplanon implant in their arm, which provides up to three years of continuous birth control. Men undergo a vasectomy. The procedures are free and conducted by the Tennessee Department of Health.
            General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield signed a standing order on May 15 enforcing the program.
              “I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility and give them a chance, when they do get out, not to be burdened with children,” Benningfield told CNN affiliate WTVF. “This gives them a chance to get on their feet and make something of themselves.”
              Since the program started, 32 women and 38 men have volunteered. The men are currently waiting to have the vasectomies performed.
              “I understand it won’t be entirely successful, but if you reach two or three people, maybe that’s two or three kids not being born under the influence of drugs. I see it as a win-win,” Benningfield said.

              Controversy over new program

              Not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway and the ACLU are speaking against the ethics and legality of it.
              “Those decisions are personal in nature and I think that’s just something the court system should not encourage or mandate,” Dunaway told WTVF.
              Dunaway has instructed his staff not to make any arrangements involving the birth control program.
              “Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director, in a statement.
              “Judges play an important role in our community — overseeing individuals’ childbearing capacity should not be part of that role.”

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              Who are the parole board members deciding O.J.’s fate?

              (CNN)At least four people will determine Thursday whether OJ Simpson will soon be released from prison.

              If the first four members of the Nevada parole board attending Simpson’s hearing in Carson City don’t all vote the same way, then two other commissioners will be called upon to try to reach a majority.
              If it’s an even split at 3-3, Simpson will have to wait for a new hearing in January, by which time a new commissioner will give the board seven members.
                Here’s what the state of Nevada has revealed on its website about each parole board member:

                Connie S. Bisbee

                • Position:
                • Chairwoman

                • Will attend hearing?
                • Yes, she will preside over the hearing. Was also at Simpson’s 2013 parole hearing

                • Years on Parole Board: 14 total, eight as chairwoman
                • Most recent former job:
                • Associate warden of programs for the Nevada Department of Corrections

                • Other jobs:
                • Judicial services director in northern Florida until 1999, US Air Force

                • Education: Criminal justice, Troy (Alabama) State University; master’s degree in Counseling and Human Development, Troy State

                Tony Corda

                • Position:
                • Commissioner

                • Will attend hearing?
                • Yes, was also at Simpson’s 2013 parole hearing

                • Years on Parole Board: Eight years
                • Most recent former job:
                • Associate warden of programs at Northern Nevada Correctional Center, 2 years

                • Other jobs:
                • Correctional officer, classification analyst at Department of Corrections

                • Education: Criminal justice, University of Nevada at Reno

                Adam Endel

                • Position:
                • Commissioner

                • Will attend hearing?
                • Yes, was also at Simpson’s 2013 parole hearing

                • Years on Parole Board: Eight years
                • Most recent former job:
                • Associate warden of programs at Ely State Prison, 8 years

                • Other jobs:
                • Correctional officer, caseworker III, and associate warden of programs, 18 years total

                • Education: Criminal justice administration, BS, Central Missouri State University

                Susan Jackson

                • Position:
                • Commissioner

                • Will attend hearing?
                • Yes, was also at Simpson’s 2013 parole hearing

                • Years on Parole Board: Nine years
                • Most recent former job:
                • Senior investigator with the Nevada Department of Public Safety, 15 years

                • Other jobs:
                • Agent with Nevada State Gaming Control Board; senior investigator with the Attorney General’s Office

                • Education: FBI Academy

                Ed Gray

                • Position:
                • Commissioner

                • Will attend hearing?
                • No, will watch from Las Vegas

                • Years on Parole Board: 10 years
                • Most recent former job:
                • Parole board case hearing representative, 14 years

                • Other jobs:
                • US Air Force and US Civil Service

                • Education: Post-secondary and adult education, BS, University of Nevada at Las Vegas; Human resource management, associate degree, Community College of the Air Force; Business management, associate degree, Community College of Southern Nevada

                Michael Keeler

                • Position:
                • Commissioner

                • Will attend hearing?
                • No, will watch in Las Vegas

                • Years on Parole Board:
                • 11 years

                • Most recent former job:
                • Southern Nevada Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Service

                • Other jobs:
                • Public services intern, case manager, teaching parent, clinical social work intern, clinical social worker, supervisor, psychiatric emergency services director, inpatient administrative coordinator, clinic director, and services coordination director, all with state of Nevada.US Army veteran.

                • Education: Social work, undergraduate and graduate degrees, University of Nevada at Las Vegas

                Vacant position

                Christopher DeRicco will become the seventh parole board member. He takes the place of Lucille Monterde, who served for three years.

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                Texas judge orders prison to cool down

                (CNN)Texas is famously hot and its prisons are no exception, especially in the summer months. So much so that a federal judge has ordered one prison to cool off for the sake of inmates’ health.

                The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has 15 days to come up with a plan to house some 500 “heat-sensitive” inmates at Wallace Pack Unit in living quarters exceeding no more than 88 degrees. The ruling, issued Wednesday by US District Judge Keith Ellison, also calls for easy access to respite areas for the remaining 1,000 inmates at the unit, which is located about 75 miles northwest of Houston.
                The preliminary injunction stems from a lawsuit filed in 2014 seeking cooler temperatures for inmates, citing a spate of deaths in the previous three years.
                  In 2016, the heat index at the unit surpassed 100 degrees on 13 days and hovered around the 90s degrees for 55 days, the ruling notes. No heat-related deaths have been reported at the unit, but at least 23 men have died because of heat in TDCJ facilities since 1998, Ellison wrote. Intermediary measures are necessary to avoid cruel and unusual punishment, he said.
                  “… the Court does not order defendants to reduce temperatures to a level that may be comfortable, but simply to a level that reduces the significant risk of harm to an acceptable one,” Ellison wrote.
                  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to appeal the ruling, saying the state has taken significant measures to mitigate the effects of the sweltering conditions.
                  Inmates are allowed to wear shorts and t-shirts in housing areas during summer months, the ruling notes. They can seek relief in air-conditioned areas, including an infirmary, administration offices, visitation areas, the education department and the barbershop.
                  But, after a nine-day hearing in June 2017, Ellison concluded the measures are insufficient to combat the risk of serious injury or death in summer months.
                  In his ruling, the judge quotes Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s famous line about Siberian prisons: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
                  “Prisoners are human beings with spouses and children who worry about them and miss them,” Ellison continues. “Some of them will likely someday be shown to have been innocent of the crimes of which they are accused. But, even those admittedly guilty of the most heinous crimes must not be denied their constitutional rights. We diminish the Constitution for all of us to the extent we deny it to anyone.”
                  According to the ruling, TDCJ argued at the hearing that its mitigation measures have successfully reduced the number of heat-related illnesses in the Pack Unit. Those measures include access to respite areas, ice water, industrial and personal fans, cool-down showers and wellness checks, the ruling said.
                  But inmates testified at the hearing that the respite areas can handle only a fraction of men in the unit, according to the ruling. Even then, the men are often forced to stand and move quickly from one respite area to another.
                  One of those inmates is 71-year-old Richard King. He suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. During the summer, he testified that he sweats profusely, making it difficult to write letters because the moisture drips all over his paper, the ruling states. When he lies down, sweat pools in his eyes.
                  He finds that it is often cooler to lie on the concrete floors than in his bunk, because his personal fan blows hot air and does not have a cooling effect.
                  While he has never been denied access to respite areas, he testified that he has been discouraged by the constant movement and standing, which can be difficult given his age and disabilities. Sometimes, corrections officers limit his time in the barbershop to 15 to 20 minutes, he testified, according to the ruling.
                  Paxton said it could cost TDCJ up to $20 million to retrofit the Unit with a permanent air conditioning system. The ruling does not require prison officials to install air conditions throughout the prison. It suggests that staff could adjust housing for “heat-sensitive inmates” such as the elderly and disabled to place them in cooled dormitories.
                  “The judge’s ruling downplays the substantial precautions TDCJ already has in place to protect inmates from the summer heat,” Attorney General Paxton said.
                  “Texas taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars to pay for expensive prison air conditioning systems, which are unnecessary and not constitutionally mandated. We’ll appeal the decision and are confident that TDCJ is already doing what is constitutionally required to adequately safeguard offenders from heat-related illnesses.”

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                  Michigan to institute harsher penalty for female genital mutilation

                  (CNN)A series of new laws passed in Michigan strengthen penalties for female genital mutilation practices in the state. Performing FGM or transporting another person in the state for the purpose of undergoing FGM will be punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 10 years more than the federal penalty for the crime.

                  The new legislation comes only a few months after the state became the backdrop for the first federal case involving FGM in the United States. Six people were charged for either committing or assisting in performing female genital mutilation on two 7-year-old girls, who were brought into Michigan from Minnesota. FGM is illegal in the United States for girls under 18 and is punishable by up to five years in prison, according to national law.

                  Stronger punishment

                    FGM is a painful surgical procedure to remove part of the clitoris or clitoral hood to suppress female sexuality. The World Health Organization considers the practice a human rights violation for both girls and women.
                    No religious texts require FGM. Yet some cultures and sects believe the practice makes for better wives by making girls more acceptable in their communities. The practice aims to reduce a woman’s libido to ensure premarital virginity and marital fidelity.
                    In addition to increasing prison sentences for those involved in FGM, the series of 12 bills passed by the Michigan legislature would revoke the license of any health professional who assists in or commits the procedure.
                    The laws state that saying the operation is “required as a matter of custom or ritual” will not be an acceptable defense for committing the crime. Parental consent is also not a legal defense, according to the new laws.
                    Governor Rick Snyder signed all 12 bills into law on Tuesday.
                    “Those who commit these horrendous crimes should be held accountable for their actions, and these bills stiffen the penalties for offenders while providing additional support to victims,” Snyder told CNN in a statement. “This legislation is an important step toward eliminating this despicable practice in Michigan while empowering victims to find healing and justice.”

                    The original case

                    Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, his wife, Farida Attar, 50, and Detroit emergency room physician Jumana Nagarwala, 44, were arrested and indicted in the initial case back in April. The Attars and Nagarwala face one count of conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation, two counts of female genital mutilation and one count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. Nagarwala and Fakhruddin Attar also face one count of conspiracy to transport a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
                    “Dr. Attar is not aware of any crimes that occurred at his clinic,” Attar’s defense attorney, Mary Chartier, said. “He has confidence that he will be vindicated through the justice system because he has done nothing to violate the law.”
                    Since the initial indictment, three more people have been indicted in the same case, bringing the total number of people charged for an initial incident that dates back to February up to six. The case is ongoing.
                    According to the complaint, the FBI had received information that FGM procedures were being performed at a clinic where Dr. Attar was the director. Court documents do not indicate the source of the information.
                    The Attars and Nagarwala are members of the Dawoodi Bohra community, a sect of Islam, said Victoria Burton-Harris, an attorney for Tahera Shafiq, one of the three people charged since April.
                    “There was no mutilation of any genitals, of any kind,” Burton-Harris said. “There was no federal crime committed of any type. This is, quite honestly, ignorance of religion that has caused fear and an outright attack on this particular sect of Muslims.”

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                    Mom of murdered toddler sentenced to probation

                    (CNN)The mother of murdered 2-year-old Bella Bond will not serve any additional jail time, despite helping dispose of her daughter’s body and continuing to take government benefits after her death.

                    Rachelle Bond, 41, pleaded guilty in February to charges including being an accessory after the fact to her daughter’s murder.
                    Her former boyfriend Michael McCarthy was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison last month for the murder of the toddler. He will be eligible for parole in 20 years.
                      “The sentencing today just completes the circle of injustice,” McCarthy’s attorney Jonathan Shapiro told CNN in a telephone interview Wednesday.
                      “She got away with murder by making a deal with the prosecution to testify against Mr. McCarthy in return for her freedom. The jury needed someone to pay for this terrible crime. If it couldn’t be Rachelle, then it had to be Michael.”
                      Bond was in jail awaiting her own trial when she agreed to testify against McCarthy.
                      She was also sentenced to two years’ probation for theft of over $250 by false pretense and for accepting government benefits meant for Bella after her death. Her probation will include a full psychiatric evaluation and rehabilitation for substance abuse.

                      Prosecutor: Agreements not entered into lightly

                      “We don’t enter into these agreements lightly or capriciously or frivolously,” Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said during a news conference Wednesday.
                      “We could not prosecute Michael McCarthy, and we would not have been able to hold him accountable without the truthful testimony of Rachelle Bond.”
                      Bond served nearly two years in jail and will enter a rehabilitation facility for substance abuse upon her release from South Bay Corrections Center in Boston on Friday, her attorney Janice Bassil said in court.
                      “She is scared about her future,” Bassil said. “She has a future without her child, and regardless of what people think of her involvement or not, she grieves the loss of that child every single day.”
                      Bond’s sentencing caps a saga that began in June 2015 when a jogger found an unidentified girl’s partially decomposed body in a trash bag along Deer Island near Boston. Authorities launched an extensive effort to identify the girl, known as “Baby Doe,” and commissioned an artist to draw a composite image of her that was widely shared.

                      A break in the case

                      The case broke open in September 2015, after Rachelle Bond admitted to a friend that her daughter Bella was dead, and that the girl had not been taken away from the Department of Children and Families, as she had told others, including the child’s father. The friend recognized Baby Doe as Bella Bond and notified police. The tip led to the arrest of McCarthy and Bond.
                      Prosecutors relied heavily on Bond’s testimony during McCarthy’s trial. They claimed that McCarthy had called Bella a “demon,” killed her and dumped a trash bag with the child’s body into the water near Deer Island.
                      During closing statements, prosecutors said the devastating world of heroin addiction had subsumed the lives of McCarthy, Rachelle Bond and those around them. Bond’s attorney claimed it’s a world that her client will try to leave behind.
                      “Once she completes an in-patient program, she will be in further step-down programs and eventually reach a point where I hope she will lead an independent life free of drugs and substance abuse,” Bassil said.
                      In addition to attending rehab for substance abuse, Bond is also barred from residing with anyone who uses illegal substances, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney David Deakin said in court.

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