There were no leaks of the courtroom audio this time but the voice of Britney Spears was heard just as loudly in her latest call for release from a controversial legal conservatorship.
Three weeks ago, when the performer first laid out her anguish at the impact of the arrangement on her life, the feed from a system designed to let people listen in remotely during the pandemic was streamed illegally online. The system has since been shut down.
So, as she embarked on round two of her assault on the legal system, it was just those packed inside Department 4 at the Los Angeles County Superior Court who could hear her plea for freedom.
What is perhaps most illustrative of the complexity of the conservatorship web surrounding Britney Spears is how long it takes to get all the relevant parties together in the same courtroom. More than a dozen lawyers appeared remotely or in-person at the hearing.
One of those lawyers alone mentioned a figure of $3m (£2.2m) racked up legal fees in this case – and this conservatorship has been going for 13 years.
During both of her appearances at the hearings, both times on the phone, the emotion was palpable. For the second time, she spoke so quickly the judge had to ask her to slow down for the sake of the court stenographer.
The words tumbled out: “I’m here to get rid of my dad. I want to press charges for abuse of conservatorship. I want an investigation on my dad,” she said. The arrangement is “literally letting my dad ruin my life”.
When she broke down crying, upset at what she saw as her family not caring for her, judge Brenda Penny told her softly to take a minute to compose herself.
Her allegations against her father and conservator Jamie were labelled “unsubstantiated” by his attorney.
The major victory for his daughter was permission to choose her own lawyer. Her choice Mathew Rosengart has represented a slew of Hollywood stars over the years and indicated that ending the conservatorship will be his first task.
“If he loves his daughter, it is time to step down,” he said of Mr Spears.
Many of the lawyers agreed that the conservatorship system is broken and not working in the interest of the person it is designed to protect. Campaigners say there are possibly millions of people in the same situation.
Once again the cool austerity of the courtroom was in contrast to the boisterous support for Britney Spears in the heat on the street outside. It seems to grow with every hearing.
Of the latest legal victory, Leanne Simmons, one of the original organisers of the Free Britney campaign, told me: “It is vindicating. It’s been tough. We’ve been laughed at, we’ve been called conspiracy theorists, so to hear Britney confirm these things we’ve been fighting for, it is a little validating.”
Body of missing boy, 2, found in alligator’s mouth in Florida
A missing two-year-old has been found dead after his body was spotted in the mouth of an alligator.
Taylen Mosley was reported missing on Thursday after his mother, 20-year-old Pashun Jeffery, was found dead in her apartment in St Petersburg, Florida.
She had been stabbed multiple times, police said on Friday.
The child’s father, Thomas Mosley, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, police chief Anthony Holloway said.
The child was found near Dell Holmes Park, which is close to Lake Maggiore, almost 10 miles from his mother’s apartment, the police chief added.
A detective shot and killed the alligator.
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“We didn’t want to find him this way, but at least we can bring some closure to that family now,” Mr Holloway said at a news conference.
Family members saw Jeffery and her child on Wednesday, and on Thursday, they asked an apartment manager to check when they couldn’t reach her, police said.
A search for the boy included dogs, a drone, and federal and state law enforcement agencies.
The boy’s cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner.
Thomas Mosley checked himself into a hospital and had cuts on his arms and hands, the police added.
He was still in hospital on Friday but did not speak to detectives and requested a lawyer, according to police.
Person killed after tornado causes roof collapse at Illinois heavy metal concert
One person has died and 28 were injured after the roof at a heavy metal concert in Illinois collapsed during a storm.
Police in Belvidere, about 50 miles west of Chicago, believe a tornado was to blame and described the scene as “absolute chaos”.
It happened as a violent storm system hit the US south and Midwest, causing widespread damage to homes and businesses and killing at least six other people.
Belvedere fire chief Shawn Schadle said there were 260 people at the Apollo Theatre when the collapse happened at about 7.48pm local time on Friday.
He said emergency workers had to deal with downed power lines outside the venue and also had to rescue someone from a lift.
“I was there within a minute before it came down,” Gabrielle Lewellyn told local station WTVO-TV.
“The winds, when I was walking up to the building, it went like from zero to a thousand within five seconds.”
Ms Lewellyn said people at the gig helped rescue victims from the debris.
“They dragged someone out from the rubble and I sat with him and I held his hand and I was (telling him) ‘It’s going to be okay’,” she said. “I didn’t really know much else what to do.”
Another witness told NBC5 Chicago: “Everybody tried to leave the whole venue through the fire door.
“It was a lot of chaos, so I looked around and saw people in the rubble, and tried to help as many people as possible.”
Five of the 28 people hurt sustained severe injuries, authorities said.
It is unclear which – if any – of the bands on Friday night’s bill had started playing when the collapse happened.
Morbid Angel said they were “sheltering in place” in the aftermath, while Crypta band member Taina Bergamaschi said on Instagram that all the acts were “safe and sound”.
The roof collapse happened as thunderstorms and tornados caused dozens of injuries and damaged homes in states including Arkansas – where a state of emergency was declared – as well as Iowa and Indiana.
It came a week after tornadoes with winds up to 200mph also flattened parts of Mississippi, killing at least 21 people and destroying many homes.
US tornadoes: Three dead and dozens injured as twisters causes widespread destruction including roof collapse during concert
Two people were killed and dozens of people injured after a tornado ripped through the Arkansas capital of Little Rock and surrounding US towns on Friday afternoon.
Elsewhere, a third person died after a theatre roof collapsed in Belvidere, Illinois, during another tornado with 28 people injured as the Midwest struggles with intense and destructive storms.
The collapse happened during a heavy metal concert at the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, which is about 70 miles northwest of Chicago.
The governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, confirmed that two people had died in the twister with several other people reported to be trapped in the destruction.
The tornado also caused widespread wreckage of homes, overturned cars and uprooted trees.
The total number of people injured is unknown. Around 90,000 customers experienced electricity outages in the state.
The mayor of Little Rock, Frank Scott Jr, said on Twitter: “At this time, we know of 24 people who have been hospitalised at Little Rock hospitals and we are not aware of any fatalities in Little Rock.”
The Baptist Health Medical Centre in the adjoining town of North Little Rock separately reported it was treating 11 patients from the storm, with one in a critical condition.
Other towns further away from Little Rock have also reported mass destruction and injuries.
Richard Dennis, the police chief in the town of Wynne – around 100 miles east of Little Rock, told a local television station there was “total destruction throughout the town” with dozens of people trapped.
The twister was caused by one of several violent thunderstorms that have battered the south and Midwest regions of the US – home to some 85 million people.
The destructive storm system has also caused other tornados in Iowa, damaging hail in Illinois and wind-whipped grass fires in Oklahoma.
People were urged to evacuate in parts of Oklahoma City to escape the fires.
Meteorologists are forecasting another batch of intense storms next Tuesday in the same large area.
The fatal tornado came as President Joe Biden toured the aftermath of another deadly tornado that struck Mississippi a week ago. It killed at least 21 people and damaged around 2,000 homes.
Governor Huckabee Sanders activated 100 members of the Arkansas National Guard to help local authorities respond to the damage throughout the state.
“Praying for all those who were and remain in the path of this storm,” Ms Hucakabee Sanders, who declared a state of emergency, said on Twitter.
“Arkansans must continue to stay weather aware as storms are continuing to move through.”
In Little Rock, local Niki Scott took cover in the bathroom after her husband called to say a tornado was headed her way.
She could hear glass shattering as the tornado roared past, and emerged afterward to find that her house was one of the few on her street that didn’t have a tree fall on it.
“It’s just like everyone says. It got really quiet, then it got really loud,” Ms Scott said afterward, as chainsaws roared and sirens blared in the area.
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