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DPSCS(BALTIMORE) — A manhunt is underway for a murder suspect who was mistakenly released from a Baltimore detention center and even the suspect's mother wants him back in prison.

Rodriquez Purnell, 30, remains on the loose after he was accidentally allowed to walk free from Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center on Friday.

Purnell has been in and out of jail for drugs and robbery over the years, but he was recently incarcerated on a first-degree murder charge, accused of fatally shooting T.J. Rheubottom, 27, last year.

Purnell was in custody waiting to be retried for Rheubottom’s murder after his first trial ended in a hung jury, but after corrections officers confused his current case with old charges, they let him go. Authorities didn’t realize the mistake until two days later when the victim’s family said they called the jail after Purnell was spotted hanging out in the neighborhood.

He has not been seen since.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections said in a statement Wednesday that it placed an employee on paid administrative leave for mistakenly releasing Purnell.

“Preliminary results indicate a lapse in release procedures that would otherwise have identified the pending charges at the time of release,” the release said.

The situation remains under investigation, with officials trying to find out whether any procedures need to be changed.

Rheubottom’s mother, Jackie Davis, is stunned by Purnell’s accidental release and worries for the safety of her family and witnesses in the murder case.

“I believe that he is very dangerous and he needs to be off the streets today,” Davis told ABC News. “This should have never happened.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Four former guards of a U.S. security company hired to protect diplomats were found guilty Wednesday in the September 2007 shooting deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 17 others.

The men, who were on trial for a second time after their case was dismissed in 2009, claimed their convoy came under attack in Baghdad and were returning fire.

However, federal prosecutors successfully argued that the former Blackwater guards were the aggressors in the incident and showed "grave indifference" to bystanders who were killed or injured by their actions.

A jury convicted Nicholas Slatten of first-degree murder, punishable by a maximum of life in prison. Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were found guilty of lesser charges, including multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter.

Following the verdicts, all the defendants were ordered jailed while their lawyers said they would appeal.

Meanwhile, even after deliberating for a month, the jury still has to decide on the remaining counts in the case.

Blackwater has since been renamed Academia and bills itself as a private military company.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- The University of North Carolina admitted Wednesday that about 3,100 students took so-called "paper classes" with no faculty oversight and no actual class attendance from 1993 through 2011.

The school estimates that half of the students were athletes, mostly from the UNC's basketball and football teams.

Wednesday's report goes much further than when the scandal first came to light in 2011, which initially stated that it was only about academics.

This revelation, however, drags the UNC's vaunted athletic program into the morass.

According to the investigation conducted by the college, two employees in the African and Afro-American Studies department organized fake classes that doled out As and Bs to students who never showed up, presumably to maintain eligibility for sports.

The employees were Julius Nyang’oro, the department's chairman, and Deborah Crowder, the department’s administrator. It was up to Crowder, the report alleged, to give out grades on single papers turned in by students, hence the term "paper classes."

The investigation does not directly implicate any high level administrators at the school. However, it does suggest they missed obvious signs of improprieties and "failed to conduct any meaningful oversight."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Little League star Mo'ne Davis is back in the spotlight, starring in a new Chevrolet ad that aired during Game 1 of the World Series.

And the pint-sized pitcher is still out to prove that throwing like a girl is a good thing.

Davis said she had "the best summer of my young life" as the star of Philadelphia's Taney Dragons. She led the team to the Little League World Series and made history as one of the few girls to play in the series, and the first Little Leaguer ever to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

"I stand for girls who want to play sports with the boys and to be a role model for people young and old," Davis, 13, says in the commercial, directed by Spike Lee. "I throw 70 miles per hour -- that's throwing like a girl."

Chevrolet posted a longer version of the commercial, which aired Tuesday night, on YouTube that includes interviews with her family, coach and other people who have come in contact with the young star.

"There's this little girl that I'd never seen before and she's throwing these effortless, perfect spirals, once after another," said coach Steve Bandura, who spotted Davis on the field when she was only seven years old. "And she's throwing them like twenty yards and it just looked like it was computer-generated."

The NCAA says Davis' appearance in the Chevy ad won't affect her eligibility to someday play college sports.


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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Rob Carr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A six-year-old Kansas boy who suffers from a painful tumor on his spine was in the stands when the Kansas City Royals threw their first pitch in a World Series game since 1985.

On Tuesday, cancer was the last thing on young Noah Wilson's mind.

"It was amazing," his dad Scott Wilson told ABC News on Wednesday. "We walked away with a loss but the energy in that place was phenomenal." 

Wilson, his wife and their two sons, including Noah, were at the game thanks to a neighbor who launched a campaign last week to send Noah, a lifelong Royals fan who has a rare bone cancer called Ewing sarcoma, to see the team play in the World Series. They have tickets to Wednesday night's game, too.

"Noah had a blast last night and he got home and was still excited," Wilson said. "He fell asleep pretty quick because it was a late night, and he got up this morning already wearing his Royals hat and ready to go." 

Their neighbor Ryan Zimmerman set up a GoFundMe page last week, and supporters raised more than $11,000 to send the cancer patient to Wednesday night's game. MLB and StubHub ended up donating tickets, and Zimmerman said the money raised would be used instead to pay off Noah's hospital bills.

But the Wilsons had a better idea.

"Noah is one of many kids battling cancer. We've always felt kinda weird about this whole thing, so many families are deserving of this," he said. "So we took the money and we bought 16 tickets on StubHub for the game, plus the [extra] tickets donated and gave them to other families going through cancer, that we've met at the hospital or through friends."

"There's no better way to spend it, in our opinion," he said.

On Monday, when Wilson went to pick up the tickets for Wednesday's game, an MLB employee who had heard about the campaign offered up her tickets so the family could also attend Game 1 Tuesday night.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio





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