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The Court of Special Appeals in Maryland, the state’s second-highest court, has ordered another trial and restored charges against a man from Northwest Baltimore who was acquitted in the murder of North Carolina native Phylicia Barnes. The court says Circuit Judge John Addison Howard committed a mistake in January 2015 when he acquitted Michael Johnson of second-degree murder charges. Judge Howard initially declared a mistrial. State prosecutors are glad the case is being looked at again. “This case has and always will be about securing justice for this 16-year-old girl, and we are elated that the Court of Special Appeals decision will allow us to do so,” said Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby in a statement. Johnson has been free since his acquittal last year. The victim’s father, Russell Barnes, is happy with the court’s choice to restore the charges. “I got a new trial! Thank you Jesus,” said Barnes. “This guy was not supposed to get out. We have to fight for justice for our vulnerable children.” Phylicia’s body was found in the Susquehanna River four months after she went missing from her sister’s apartment in Baltimore back in 2010. Johnson, who had a relationship with her half-sister for nearly a decade, was charged a year after the death. Read more.


Oscars Put the Focus on Gender and Racial Diversity

After coming under fire for their lack of diversity, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is focused on including more people of color and women to vote in next year’s Academy Awards. According to reports, the organizers of the awards ceremony invited 700 new people with hopes of shifting the demographics of their voter pool. Nearly half of those invited are women and people of color. If everyone invited were to join, the amount of White members would drop from 92 percent to 89 percent. The amount of male members would drop from 75 percent to 73 percent. Amongst those invited include Idris Elba, Tina Fey, Anika Noni Rose, Mary J. Blige, Ice Cube, and will.i.am. Rose took to Twitter to share her excitement: “I’d like to thank @TheAcademy!…for welcoming me (& so many fabulous artists) to the class of 2016,” she posted. Actor Jacob Vargas also took to social media to express his gratitude: “Thank you @TheAcademy for inviting me join this group of talented film makers. I am truly honoured,” he said. Read more.


LeBron James to Become a Free Agent

It was all good just a few weeks ago when NBA star LeBron James rode through the streets of Cleveland to celebrate his 2016 championship title. According to reports, James has now decided to opt out of his $24 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and enter free agency on Friday. Despite the move, there is a very high chance that he will remain in Cleveland. “I love it here in Cleveland. I have no intentions of leaving,” said James. “There are some technicalities to take care of I’ll leave up to my agent. That’s right from the horse’s mouth.” His agency, Klutch Sports Group, has yet to release a statement. Read more.


Jessica Williams to Leave ‘The Daily Show’

Jessica Williams, the youngest correspondent on The Daily Show, revealed she will be leaving to focus on her own upcoming project for Comedy Central. “I feel so many emotions,” said Williams. “I feel like I’m growing up and graduating.” Williams joined the show as a correspondent in 2012 at the age of 22. She broke barriers by not only becoming the youngest person to take on the position, but the first Black woman to do it as well. “The sadness I have for Jessica leaving is only eclipsed by the joy I have for her starting her new show,” Daily Show host Trevor Noah said in a statement. “If her podcast is anything to go by, it’s going to be an exciting show!” Williams’ last day on the show will be Thursday. Read more.


#HesWithHer: President Obama and Hillary Clinton to Make Campaign Appearance

President Obama and Hillary Clinton are slated to make their first campaign appearance together on July 5. The two will visit Charlotte, North Carolina. Back in 2008, President Obama won in North Carolina, but when he ran for a second term in 2012, he fell short. According to Hillary Clinton’s camp, she and the president will talk about their aspirations to build an “America that is stronger together.” Read more.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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