Breaking the Bubble

Actor Heath Ledger found dead in NYC

Australian actor Heath Ledger, 28, was found dead Tuesday in his New York apartment, reported the New York Times. Ledger was found naked on the floor near his bed in a SoHo apartment that he had been renting. A bottle of sleeping pills was found near his body.

Paul J. Browne, chief police spokesman, said the police did not suspect foul play. The police found no evidence of alcohol consumption and there were no illegal drugs in the loft. The police do not know if the sleeping pills found on a nightstand had anything to do with the death, and officers who checked the apartment found other prescription medications in the bathroom.

Ledger’s body was found after a masseuse arrived for a regular appointment at 2:45 p.m. and was let in by a housekeeper. Knocks on his bedroom door went unanswered and the two pushed open the door to find an unconscious Ledger. They attempted to revive him by shaking him, but when he didn’t respond, they called for help. The housekeeper reported that she heard Ledger snoring in his bedroom at 12:30 p.m.

An autopsy was performed Wednesday, but the results came back inconclusive, said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for New York City’s chief medical examiner. More blood and tissue tests need to be done to determine the manner and cause of death. The tests could take from 10 days to two weeks.

Ledger came to fame by staring in hit movies like “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Patriot.” More recently, Ledger plays the role of the Joker in the upcoming film “The Dark Knight.”

Ledger leaves behind a two-year old daughter, Matilda Rose, whom he had with former girlfriend Michelle Williams.

Dirty bomb suspect sentenced to 17 years

Jose Padilla was sentenced to 17 years and four months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to help Islamic jihadist fighters abroad, reported the New York Times. The Brooklyn-born Muslim convert was once accused by the government of trying to detonate a “dirty bomb” in the U.S.

The sentence was more lenient than the federal sentencing guidelines recommended and fell short of the maximum life sentence that the government had been requesting. In her decision, Marcia G. Cooke, judge of Federal District Court in Miami, underscored the severity of Padilla’s crimes. She questioned the effects of the conspiracy and the fact that no evidence linked Padilla and his two co-defendants to specific acts of terrorism.

“There is no evidence that these defendants personally maimed, kidnapped or killed anyone in the United States or elsewhere,” Cooke said. “There was never a plot to overthrow the United States government.”

She noted other recent terrorism cases where the guilty received life sentences had committed more heinous crimes. For example, Zacarias Moussaoui had plead guilty to conspiracy in connection to Sept.11 attacks, and Terry Nichols was convicted of murder in the Oklahoma City bombing incident.

The judge also gave Padilla credit for the three and a half years he spent in a naval brig after his arrest in 2002 on suspicion of being involved in a dirty bomb plot. Cooke described Padilla’s isolation and interrogation at the brig has being “harsh.”

“It’s definitely a defeat for the government,” said Jeanne Baker, a lawyer for a co-defendant who was sentenced to 15 years and eight months. Lawyers for the co-defendants promised to appeal the sentence.

Alicia Valle, spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office, said that the government was also considering an appeal on the sentences and that the sentences were below what the prosecutors sought.