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Man accused of beating wife, an online exhibitionist, to death with liqueur bottle

An Alabama man charged with killing his wife, whose slaying last month unveiled her double life as an online exhibitionist, is accused of beating her to death with a bottle of absinthe, court records show.

The partially-clothed body of Kathleen Dawn “Kat” West, 42, of Calera, was discovered lying in the road in front of her home just after 5 a.m. on Jan. 18, Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said in a Thursday news conference. She lived there with her husband, William Jeffrey West, and their 12-year-old daughter. 

Jeff West, 44, was arrested Thursday and charged with murder. According to Shelby County Jail records, he was being held Friday in lieu of $500,000 bond. 

The couple’s daughter was not home when her mother was killed.

Lemley said Thursday that Jeff West was the department’s chief suspect from the beginning of the investigation, though Kat West’s “online professional activities” warranted investigators’ attention. 

He declined to specify what evidence pointed them toward her husband. 

“Let me say this. We are still restricted, very restricted, on what information that can be given out,” Lemley said. “The case is still under investigation, even though we have made an arrest. But, the case has to go to trial as well.”

The West murder case has shone a national spotlight on small-town Calera, due mainly to the more salacious details of Kat West’s life. Though she described herself on social media as a full-time stay-at-home wife and mother, she operated a subscription-only adult website where she went by the name “Kitty Kat West.” The public page boasted a suggestive photo and promised users that, for a monthly $15.99 subscription fee, they could get more risqué material beyond the paywall. 

Her Twitter account, also listed under her stage name, directs viewers to the paid adult website, as well. Kat West’s bio on the adult site, which was still live as of Friday, described the site, in part, as “hundreds of pics of ALL me, having some naughty fun.”

In the days immediately following the slaying, Kat West’s mother, Nancy Martin, wrote on Facebook that it seemed “impossible for the extreme sadness and grief we feel (over) the loss of our beautiful daughter, Kat, to ever diminish.” She described her daughter as a “cherished wife to Jeff” and a loving mother to their own young daughter.

A fundraiser in Kat West’s name was established, but quickly ended as the case became more public.

On Jan. 24, Martin changed her profile picture to one of her daughter and son-in-law. It remained there as of Friday afternoon.

See Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley’s news conference, recorded by WBRC in Birmingham, below.

Lemley said that investigators interviewed many witnesses in the case, as well as collecting a lot of evidence that needed to be processed. Four detectives were assigned to the case, two of them full-time. 

“Evidence takes time to process,” the police chief said. “And we have to wait on that evidence to come in so we can connect all the dots.”

Detectives were awaiting analysis on a final piece of evidence from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. That final report was issued on Tuesday and, after a thorough review by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, a warrant was issued for Jeff West’s arrest, the chief said. 

>> Read more trending news 

“We know exactly what happened, for the most part, on this case.” Lemley said. “I mean, we can’t tell you verbatim what was being said one way or the other, but we know what happened that night. We do have evidence to support that.”

The chief credited neighboring Shelby County law enforcement agencies, state agencies and the FBI with assisting in the investigation. 

Lemley again declined to go into detail about the evidence, but Jeff West’s arrest warrant, obtained by AL.com, indicates that Kat West was killed with a bottle of Lucid Absinthe. An autopsy found that the victim died of blunt force trauma to the head. 

The court documents state that, when a 19-year-old neighbor left for work Jan. 18, she found Kat West face-down on the ground in nothing but a sports bra, her body half in the roadway and half in the yard of the home across the street. A cellphone was found nearby, along with a green liquor bottle. 

Lucid Absinthe is sold in green bottles. 

TV news magazine Inside Edition on Jan. 25 aired surveillance footage from R&R Wine and Liquor, in Calera, that shows Kat West, just about eight hours before she was killed, walk into the liquor store with a man who appears to be her husband. In the video, the couple looks happy and playful.

“They came in (and) it looked like they were on their date night,” store clerk Stacey Oglesby told Inside Edition.

The couple bought two things that night: Lucid Absinthe and Jameson Irish Whiskey, Oglesby said. 

Lemley said it was not completely clear what could have happened between the couple’s visit to the liquor store, when they appeared happy, and when Kat West was bludgeoned to death. 

“It’s a domestic. Unfortunately, domestics turn bad pretty quickly,” Lemley said. “Anything can trigger it.” 

Jeff West, a military veteran, works as an unsworn police officer at Birmingham Southern College, AL.com reported. Officials at the school said they are in the process of terminating his employment. 

As of Thursday, Jeff West had not admitted involvement in the crime, Lemley said. 

Over 170 Texas school districts allow staff to be armed

President Donald Trump has called for the arming of qualified teachers in the wake of a deadly shooting that left 17 people dead at a Florida high school, but in Texas dozens of school districts already allow staff members to carry firearms.

>> Read more trending news

Officials with the Texas Association of School Boards on Thursday told KSAT that they were aware of at least 172 school districts that let staff members carry firearms. Each district individually decides whether to allow staff to carry weapons, board spokeswoman Theresa Gage told the news station.

Under state and federal laws, schools are usually considered gun-free zones, but Texas law allows for districts to authorize employees to carry firearms under a pair of programs, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported.

>> Related: Teachers to Trump: #ArmMeWith funding, supplies and resources, not guns

The Guardian Plan, which allows for certain teachers to be designated as “guardians” who are allowed to carry concealed handguns, was created in 2007 as schools were reeling in the wake of a shooting at Virginia Tech that left more than 30 people dead and nearly two dozen injured, Texas Monthly magazine reported in 2014.

Four years after the creation of the Guardian Plan, the state legislature passed the Protection of Texas Children Act. The act allows school districts to arm and train one employee as a school marshal for every 400 students, according to Texas Monthly.

Agua Dulce Independent School District Superintendent Wayne Kelly told the Caller-Times that his district chose to participate in the Guardian Plan starting in 2016. To participate in the program, teachers and staff members are required to undergo mental health evaluations and 80 hours of training by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, according to the newspaper.

>> Related: Some Ohio school districts arm staff, but don't tell public

"I feel like it would be good because there's a way to stop (school shooters)" under the Guardian and the School Marshal plans, Fabian Crossland, whose son is a kindergartner, told KSAT.

Still, the plans have their critics, including Texas State Teachers Association spokesman Clay Robison.

“It’s a bad idea. It’s always been a bad idea, and it will stay a bad idea,” Robison told the Dallas Morning News. “Teachers are there to teach, and they will protect their kids as the teachers did their best to do in Florida. Steps need to be taken to reduce the number of guns floating around in the hands of wrong people. Guns in the hands of teachers are not the solution. It’s a cop-out.”

>> Related: Florida Gov. Rick Scott calls for reform to state's gun laws, increase in school security

Trump on Friday reiterated his call to allow certain teachers and school administrators to carry concealed weapons in school, arguing that such a move would prevent or drastically cut down on the carnage caused by school shootings.

He wrote Thursday on Twitter, “If a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school.”

“Why do we protect our airports, our banks, our government buildings, but not our school?” Trump asked Friday during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. “Our schools are essentially gun-free zones and that makes them very dangerous places.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, schools currently allow staff members to carry guns on campuses in about two dozen states.

Kentucky bill would terminate parental rights of women after birth of drug-addicted babies

The opioid epidemic in the U.S. has claimed millions of victims and has spread into even remote corners of American society. 

>> Read more trending news 

While critics have accused states and the federal government of being slow to act in addressing the crisis, there has been a recent spotlight on the pharmaceutical companies’ role in the epidemic, and Kentucky, in particular, is taking steps to try to protect babies born to drug-addicted mothers.

A new bill in the state’s Legislature would terminate the parental rights of mothers of babies born addicted to drugs, classifying the newborns as “addicted and abused at birth,” according to The Associated Press. The new mothers would lose their babies unless they are enrolled in drug treatment programs. The state would be required to begin the process of terminating parental rights within 60 days of the birth of a drug-addicted baby.

>> Related: Pregnant inmates have local jails scrambling to provide care

The Republican Kentucky House Majority Caucus Chairman David Meade introduced House Bill 1 to address extensive problems in the state’s adoption and foster care system, the website KYForward.com reported, but he also included an effort to try to address the opioid crisis, which has hit the Bluegrass state hard.

“Many issues have led to the epidemic of children lingering in the state system, including an oversized bureaucracy, the opioid epidemic, and a lack of attention in the past to these issues. House Bill 1 is the first step in putting Kentucky on a different track for adoption and foster care, and truly putting children and families first,” Meade said, according to KYForward.com.

>> Related: Kentucky teacher arrested after allegedly snorting crushed pill in class

The legislation, which was unanimously approved Thursday and is now headed to the House floor for debate, has bipartisan support among lawmakers. 

Girl gives teacher her 75 cents in ice cream money to help with family funeral

A kind-hearted gesture by an Alabama sixth-grader has gone viral after the girl gave up her ice cream money -- 75 cents -- to help fund the funeral for her teacher’s father-in-law.

Price Lawrence, an English teacher at Highlands Elementary School in Huntsville, posted about the moment Tuesday on Facebook. He said that his first period students could tell that he was “a little off” that morning, so he explained that his wife’s father had died over the weekend and that he was worried about her.

The students offered their condolences, then got busy on classwork. The subject of their teacher’s family’s loss was forgotten, except for one girl. 

“While standing at my door giving hugs and high-fives at dismissal to second period, one little girl put something in my hand,” Lawrence wrote. “She told me, ‘This is for your wife. I know it was real expensive when my daddy died, and I don’t really want ice cream today anyways.’”

Lawrence posted a photo of what the girl gave him -- three quarters and a note on an index card on which she had written, “Ms. Laerence (sic), I’m sorry,” followed by a frowny face in what appeared to be red colored pencil.

“I wish the world would pay more attention to children,” Lawrence wrote. “We could learn a lot from them.”

As of Friday morning, Lawrence’s post had been shared close to 260,000 times. More than 31,000 people responded to it. 

“That is how children should be raised,” one man wrote. “Kudos to that family.”

“God bless her little heart,” a woman wrote. 

Other commenters said the girl’s gesture had them in tears.

“Amazing how much love children have,” another woman wrote. “God bless this little one. Learn from her.”

“If we all had a heart like this sweet child, what a wonderful world we would have,” a third woman wrote. 

>> Read more trending news

Lawrence’s wife, Jessica Lawrence, posted the image on her own Facebook page, saying that the girl’s heart “affected (her) in the most positive way.” Jessica Lawrence, a high school English teacher, went on to say that the child’s gesture reminded her of the famous quote children’s television icon Mr. Rogers used when discussing tragedy.

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,’” Rogers said. “To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in the world.” 

Jessica Lawrence had a message for her own helpers.

“I see you, I love you and I appreciate you,” she wrote. “Thank you for giving me reason to continue to believe in the goodness of the world.”

One commenter wrote that he would not only give the girl a hug, but also make sure she gets all the ice cream she wants.

“I might have already paid the lunchroom for her ice cream for the rest of the week,” Price Lawrence responded. “Anonymously, of course.”

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation

Rick Gates, a former aide in President Donald Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements and conspiring against the United States on Friday, making him the fifth person to enter a guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

READ MORE: Paul Manafort, Rick Gates face new charges: report | Mueller investigation: Lawyer pleads guilty to lying to investigators in Russia probeWho is Rick Gates and why was he indicted by Robert Mueller?Who is Paul Manafort, the man indicted in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation?What are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates charged with?MORE

Florida Gov. Rick Scott calls for reform to state's gun laws, increase in school security

In the wake of  mass shooting at a Florida high school, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday proposed a three-point plan to prevent gun violence that includes banning the sale of firearms to anyone younger than 21.

>> Read more trending news

The announcement comes more than one week after deputies said Nikolas Cruz, 19, returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after being expelled, fatally shot 17 people and injured more than a dozen others.

Scott's plan also calls for a trained law enforcement officer in every school in the state by the time the 2018 school year begins -- one officer for every 1,000 students on campus.

>> Related: Armed Stoneman Douglas resource officer 'never went in' during Florida shooting

The plan will require mandatory active shooter training at all schools. Students, teachers and staff must complete all training and "code red" drills by the end of the first week of each semester.

Stoneman Douglas had one armed resource officer, who never entered the school during the shooting.

"I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun," Scott said Friday during a news conference at the Florida State Capitol. "I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun."

>> On WFTV.com: Florida lawmakers fail to take up rifle bill as shooting survivors arrive at capitol

The sale of bump stocks will be completely banned under the proposal.

Scott on Tuesday met with members of law enforcement, school administrators, teachers, mental health experts and leaders of various state agencies to discuss school safety and possible changes to gun laws.

Scott also met with students this week.

>> On WFTV.com: Scott holds workshops to discuss school safety, gun laws

"He was very open to our ideas," Rain Valladares said. "He didn't say, 'I agree; I disagree.' He just wanted to hear our input on everything."

Student Carlos Rodriguez said he and his classmates will continue to fight for change.

"I'm hopeful and I'm confident that things will go well, because we are one voice -- we are one powerful voice," he said. "This is a movement that was begun by students and is run by students, and this is just one step.”

Teachers to Trump: #ArmMeWith funding, supplies and resources, not guns

Teachers around the nation are using the hashtag #ArmMeWith on social media to push for an increase in what they say they really need in schools: funding, mental health resources, school supplies and books, not guns.

The #ArmMeWith movement is a reaction to President Donald Trump’s call for some teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools, even proposing that teachers receive bonuses for helping with security. Trump made the statements following the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last week that claimed the lives of 17 people.

>> Read more trending news 

Some educators, such as Utah teacher Kasey Hansen, said carrying a concealed weapon in school is “more of a solution” than hiding in a corner and waiting if an armed intruder enters the classroom. 

But others, including the president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, called arming teachers a horrible idea and said an educator’s handgun would be no match for the assault-style weapons often wielded by attackers.

“The solution is to ban these military weapons from people who shouldn't have them,” Weingarten said.

Related: Alabama Sen. Doug Jones calls arming teachers ‘the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard’

“Teachers already shoulder a huge burden when it comes to educating properly, due to lack of funding, support and resources and making sure their students are taken care of emotionally,” Brittany Wheaton, an English teacher in Utah, told CNN. “Asking us to now carry the burden of having the responsibility to kill is irreparably damaging, even if we never have to discharge our weapon.”

Wheaton, along with Kansas teacher Olivia Bertels, launched the movement. According to BuzzFeed, the two met through Instagram and have individually developed significant followings on the platform, often sharing snapshots of their classrooms and inspirational messages.

Following the Florida high school shooting, Wheaton reached out to Bertels said it was “time for teachers to demand their voices be heard.”

Here’s a look at the burgeoning social media movement:

What did president Trump say at CPAC? Watch his speech here

President Donald Trump addressed the Conservative Political Action Convention Friday, telling members of the group they would get their border wall, that he thought some teachers should be armed in school and that his administration "has had the most successful first year in the history of the presidency.”

>> Read more trending news

CPAC, hosted by the American Conservative Union, is held annually and is a favorite  gathering for conservative elected officials.

Trump has spoken at CPAC before – at the conferences held in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. He skipped the conference in 2016 while he was campaigning for president. 

Trump engaged with the crowd in the more than 75minute spee-ch. He smiled when the audience chanted, “Lock her up,” in response to a comment about Hillary Clinton.

Here is the president’s speech from CPAC. Trump’s remarks begin at the 41:15 mark.

Police: TN jailer had 3 weapons, 1,500 rounds of ammo in plan to ‘shoot up’ church

Tennessee police acting on a tip last weekend thwarted a correction officer’s apparent plan to “shoot up” the church his estranged wife attended, officials said. 

Daniel Vernon Toler, 35, of Huron, is jailed at the Wayne County Jail on weapons charges, according to Fox 17 News in Nashville. Toler is a jailer at South Central Correctional Center in Clifton.

Police, acting on the tip, approached Toler at work, where he was found to have an AR-15 assault rifle, two additional weapons and 1,500 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle, the news station reported. An AR-15 is the model of weapon used in the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and faculty members. 

“This is what didn’t happen in Florida,” Brent Cooper, district attorney for Tennessee’s 22nd Judicial District, told Fox 17. “Law enforcement listened to a tip and a potential tragedy was avoided.”

>> Read more trending news

In a news release shared on Facebook, officials stated that the tip was fielded by the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, whose investigators passed the information to the Clifton Police Department because that was where Toler was employed. 

Clifton investigators found Toler at work Sunday morning and, upon searching his vehicle, found the AR-15, an assault-style shotgun and a .17-caliber bolt-action rifle. An arrest warrant in the case stated that the AR-15 had a round in the chamber.

There were also multiple extra, loaded magazines for the assault rifle. 

When questioned, Toler told detectives he planned to potentially carry out the shooting when he got off work that evening, the news release said. 

“There were no specifics how it was going to be done, but (Toler) said the report was credible and that the threat would be possibly carried out after he got off work, which would have been Sunday evening,” Doug Kibbey, Clifton city manager, said in the news release.  

Fox 17 reported that the apparent target was Emanuel Baptist Church in Huron. The head of the church’s security team told the news station that Henderson County sheriff’s deputies call him and warned that Toler had threatened to “shoot up a church and kill himself.”

Toler and his wife, who is a member of the church, are divorcing, the news station said. 

Kibbey said in the news release that he has “the best officers in the state.” Cooper also praised Clifton police officers, particularly Investigator Steve Wilson, who handled the Toler case. 

“It is a very good chance that Officer Wilson’s quick, thorough response saved a lot of lives,” Cooper said. 

Kibbey said the quickness of the joint effort by investigators in Henderson County, Clifton and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is assisting in the case, was “paramount” in getting Toler into custody.

“This could have ended in a bad way,” Kibbey said

Michael B. Jordan responds to criticism about him living with his parents

Michael B. Jordan had a quick response for one person on Twitter who criticized his living arrangement.

On a Feb. 6 appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Jordan said he still lives with his parents.

>> Read more trending news 

“I love my parents, but we have a roommate relationship right now, which is interesting,” Jordan, 31, said. “You get home-cooked meals, but then you also have random trips to the kitchen in the middle of the night. Just the random run-ins that just might be a little uncomfortable from time to time.”

For Jordan, that included his mother seeing him “sometimes shirtless, maybe a little naked.”

Related: Michael B. Jordan reveals what he had to give up for ‘Black Panther’

Mashable reported that the “Black Panther” star replied to a Twitter user who took issue with him living with his parents and his interest in anime, the latter of which has been documented by Nerdist.

“Michael B. Jordan is a 5’9” adult man that loves anime and lives with his parents,” the Twitter user named Chris wrote. “Y’all told me all of those things were unacceptable though.”

“First of all, I’m 6 feet and they live with ME, put some respeck on my name,” Jordan replied.

Jordan also name-dropped some popular anime characters: Goku, from “Dragonball Z,” and Natuto, of the anime series of the same name.

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