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Hearing for notorious killer Michael Ballard set for next month

Author: , follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published: Aug 06 2014 11:09:57 AM EDT   Updated On: Jul 23 2014 05:43:21 AM EDT

EASTON, Pa. -

A hearing will be held next month in Northampton County for convicted mass murderer Michael Ballard.

Ballard is scheduled to appear in front of Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano on Aug. 29 at 8:30 a.m. for his post-conviction relief act hearing.

The hearing will determine who Ballard's lawyers will be throughout the automatic appeal process.

During the hearing, the judge will interview Ballard to make sure he understands his right to appeal, and his right to represent himself.

Ballard has said that he does not want to appeal his death sentence. If he is deemed competent to represent himself during the hearing, it will ensure that an appeal won't be filed on his behalf.

Ballard pleaded guilty in 2011 to killing four people inside a home in Northampton in June 2010.

Ballard was given four death sentences, one for each victim: his ex-girlfriend, Denise Mehri; her father, Dennis Marsh; and her grandfather, Alvin Marsh at their home in Northampton.

Ballard also killed neighbor Steven Zernhelt, who heard cries and came over to help.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently denied an appeal filed on behalf of Ballard.

Ballard says he never authorized the appeal, and the court has ordered Ballard's former lawyers to explain why an appeal was filed without his knowledge.

Ballard is currently held at the state prison in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.

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ISIS video is counterpoint to Obama speech

52-second video plays much like a trailer for an action-adventure movie

Author: By Ed Payne CNN
Published: Sep 17 2014 07:49:40 AM EDT   Updated:  2 MIN. AGO
ISIS flag carrier
(CNN) -

The production is slick. The imagery: ominous.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is out with a new video from its Al Hayat Media Center. ISIS also produced the videos of the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker.

It took nearly a week, but this appears to be the terror group's response to President Barack Obama's speech in which he said the U.S. objective in expanded airstrikes would be to "degrade, and ultimately destroy" ISIS.

The President is expected to speak Wednesday about the U.S. strategy for combating ISIS, which also calls itself the "Islamic State."

The 52-second video plays much like a trailer for an action-adventure movie.

There are plenty of slow-motion explosions, and flames are shown engulfing American troops.

There are cameos from President George W. Bush and his "Mission Accomplished" banner, along with plenty of menacing fighters with masks over their faces, ready to execute civilians.

The producers even toss in a clip from Obama at the White House: "American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq," he says.

A lingering explosion puts an exclamation point on the whole thing.

And then the logo, fit for a Hollywood blockbuster: "Flames of War -- fighting has just begun ... Coming soon."

The video fades to black.

An ISIS magazine

Named after a town in northern Syria, Dabiq magazine publishes stories portending a battle between Islam and the West. It has portrayed Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona as "crusaders" who will "bring about the complete collapse of the modern American empire."

It also carries images evoking apocalyptic battles between the Sunni extremist group's fighters and the rest of the world, including American soldiers enveloped in flames.

ISIS is taking a page from the playbook of al Qaeda, a former ally that has praised and advocated terrorist attacks in its glossy magazine, Inspire.

But experts say the terrorist groups don't appear have the same propaganda goals.

Inspire focuses more on practical advice for terrorists planning attacks, publishing guides on how to make bombs and get them onto planes.

Dabiq is a vehicle intended to spark desire in its readers to join and fight with ISIS, said Seth Jones, a security analyst at the RAND Corporation.

Kurds say they killed an ISIS commander

The Kurdish fighting force known as the Peshmerga killed an ISIS commander during battle Tuesday, according to a senior Peshmerga official who took part in the operation.

The Peshmerga killed ISIS commander Abu Abdullah during a Kurdish operation to push ISIS farther from Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, the official said on condition of anonymity Wednesday.

In the battle, the Peshmerga reclaimed five Iraqi villages as well as a bridge along the main highway linking Irbil to Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, according to a senior Peshmerga official taking part in the operations.

The Peshmerga said the battle was meant to push ISIS fighters back toward Mosul, to the west of Irbil -- and part of the Peshmerga's larger plan to reclaim areas that ISIS claimed this year.

ISIS destroyed the bridge linking the two cities a month ago, hoping to prevent any opposing force from advancing on Mosul, but the Peshmerga said its forces went around the bridge for Tuesday's attack.

U.S. air power appeared to play a role in the offensive. Two U.S. airstrikes targeted an armored vehicle and ISIS fighting position northwest of Irbil, according to the U.S. military. That's the same area where the Peshmerga operation was under way.

 

On this Day

  • Civil War, Battle of Antietam painting

    Library of Congress

    On this day: September 17

    The U.S. Constitution is signed, the Civil War sees the bloodiest battle in American history, the prototype space shuttle Enterprise is unveiled, and the Camp David Accords bring peace between Egypt and Israel, all on this day.

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