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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Crime Bulletin: Militarized Policing

     American law enforcement has become zero tolerant, more violent, and militarized. Local, state, and federal teams of elite paramilitary special weapons and tactic (SWAT) units regularly patrol big city streets and break into homes unannounced in search of drugs. Officers on routine patrol carry high-powered semi-automatic weapons. Virtually every law enforcement agency in the country either has its own SWAT unit or has officers who are members of a multi-jurisdictional force. The barrier between the    U. S. Military and domestic law enforcement has broken down. The police have become soldiers, and military personnel now function as civilian law enforcers.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Justin Bieber: Tough Guy

     Justin Bieber could have attended an all-girl's school and no one would have been the wiser. He would have been bullied, however, by his less attractive classmates. Now that the pop star is growing up, his handlers are trying to make him more manly. That daunting task probably explains the recent bad-boy stunts, the backwards-worn baseball hat, and the prison-pants look. The latter affectation makes him look more like a rich mental patient than a hard-ass, and is perhaps a lot closer to reality.

     But how can a pop singer with body guards, who looks like a J. C. Pennys' model, come off as a bad hombre? (Tattoos alone won't do the trick.) One way might be to provoke a rich neighbor into filing a battery charge against you.

     It seems that the singing bad-boy has upset the residents of his gated Calabasas, California enclave by speeding around the place in his Ferrari. (Now there's a tough guy vehicle.) One of Bieber's irate neighbors, on Tuesday, March 26, 2013, reportedly showed up at the pop star's mansion and asked him to stop driving around the enclave at 100 mph. Bieber lives on a street called Prado Del Grandioso. (No kidding. It must be rough for kids growing up on this Boulevard of Hard Knocks.)

     According to the 47-year-old business man who confronted Bieber, the 19-year-old spit in his face, and threatened to kill him. I tend to believe the complainant because tough guys don't spit, they simply kick your ass. Moreover, after the incident, Bieber's security team (he has a team of bodyguards) escorted the spit victim off the singer's estate. The neighbor called the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office which dispatched a couple of deputies to the scene.

     Bad Boy Bieber has denied committing battery, and spitting with the intent to look tough.

     Last May, on the mean streets of Calabasas, Bieber struck a paparazzi as he snapped pictures of the singer and his squeeze, Selena Gomez. The assault took place at the Commons at Calabasas Shopping Center. Bieber allegedly kicked the photographer in the lower abdomen. (You never know when those martial art lessons will come in handy. Instead of banning guns, we should outlaw those men with cameras who harass our poor celebrities.)


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Judge Judy's Son, D.A. Adam Levy, Accused of Influencing Rape Investigation of His Live-In Trainer

     On Wednesday night, March 20, 2013, police officers arrested 35-year-old Alexandru Hossu on two counts of first degree rape. Hossu stands accused of having engaged in forced sex with a 12-yeasr-old girl on October 24, 2010 in the town of Southeast, a Putnam County community sixty miles north of New York City.

     Hossu, a Romanian national, has been living in the United States on a work visa that expired in 2000. He faces up to 25 years in prison, and eventual deportation. Hossu is being held in the Putnam County Jail on $100,000 bond.

     The district attorney of Putnam County, Adam Levy, reluctantly recused himself from the Hossu case which is being handled by a prosecutor from neighboring Westchester County. Levy has been accused of trying to influence the criminal investigation of Alexandru Hossu. This accusation of official interference has been leveled by Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith.

     Sheriff Smith has alleged that Mr. Hossu has been living with D. A. Levy in his million-dollar home in the upscale Brewster section of Southeast. Hossu worked as the prosecutor's in-house personal trainer. (How many prosecutors can afford a million-dollar mansion and a live-in trainer?)

     Adam Levy has issued a statement that Alexandru Hossu moved out of his mansion six months ago, and his office has supplied the media with two current addressed for the rape suspect. These two locations, however, were found not to be residential addresses. The district attorney claims no knowledge of his personal trainer's immigration status, and denies having interfered with the Hossu investigation.

     This case has caught the attention of the local media because Adam Levy's mother is Judy Schnendlin, TV's Judge Judy. That explains the mansion, and the personal trainer. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Crime Bulletin: The Amanda Knox Acquittal Overturned

     In November 2007, Seattle exchange student Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, were arrested by the Italian police for the murder of their fellow University of Perugia student, British born Meredith Kercher. Prosecutors, at the 2009 murder trial, argued that Kercher had been the unwilling victim of a drug-fueled game of rough sex gone wrong. Kercher's half-naked corpse was discovered under a blanket in her bedroom. Her throat had been slit. Knox, then 20, and Sollecito, 24, were found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

     An Italian appellate court, in October 2011, overturned the murder convictions on grounds the prosecution's evidence--unreliable witnesses and questionable DNA analysis--didn't support the government's theory of the case. The inmates were released from prison. Amanda Know moved back to Seattle where she's a creative writing student at the University of Washington. (She has written a book about her case that's awaiting publication. I presume the book is nonfiction.)

     Italian prosecutors appealed the conviction reversal to the Court of Cassation, Italy's highest judicial body. On March 26, 2013, the high court overturned the appellate court's acquittal, and ordered a new trial. The decision was not based on the merits of the prosecution's case, but on procedural issues.

     While the U.S. and Italy are parties to an extradition treaty, it's not a given that it will be honored in the Knox case. If she is not returned to Italy, she could be tried in absentia.   

Monday, March 25, 2013

Crime Bulletin: Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz Retires Under Pressure

     Mayor Martin Chavez appointed Ray Schultz to the position of Albuquerque Police Chief in 2006. Three years later Mayor Richard Berry reappointed him to the job. Since Chief Schultz's reappointment, an unusually high percentage of Albuquerque police officers have been involved in cases of excessive force and police involved shootings.

     Since 2010, Albuquerque officers have shot more than 35 citizens, 18 of the shootings being fatal. This is one of the highest per capita police involved shooting rates in the country. This year the city awarded $10 million to the family of an Iraq War veteran shot to death by an Albuquerque police officer. The victim of the shooting had post-traumatic stress disorder.

     Critics of the Albuquerque Police Department blame the excessive law enforcement violence on a police culture of brutality. Last year, several Albuquerque officers were reprimanded for controversial social media postings that included one by an officer involved in a fatal shooting who described his occupation as "human waste disposal." Instead of protecting and serving, this officer saw his job as using deadly force to clear the streets of undesirables. Clearly unsuited for police work, this man should have been fired.

     In March 2013, the embattled police chief announced that he would be retiring to, as they say, "spend more time with his family." In all fairness to Chief Schultz, because of police unions, firing a police officer has become extremely difficult, and in many cases impossible. Without the power to fire, police administrators do not have much control over the rank-and-file. This is particularly problematic in the era of militarized policing, and zero-tolerance law enforcement.

     In the old days, civilian safety came first, officer safety second. Today the priorities are officer safety and job security.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Crime Bulletin: State Senator Audrey Gibson's Ammunition-Control Proposal

     Florida Senator Audrey Gibson has recently introduced a bill that would require buyers of bullets to first undergo two-hours of anger-management counseling. Okay. But what about people who buy guns, knives, baseball bats, and cases of beer? What about couples about to get married, or on the brink of parenthood? I have an idea: why doesn't the federal government require all of us to take, say once a year, an anger-management course? (I think I need one now.)

     It is simply impossible to comprehend how people this stupid manage to get themselves elected to office. Even in Florida. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Criminal Justice Quote: At The Mercy of a Jury

Having your fate rest in the hands of a jury is the same as entrusting yourself to surgery with a mentally retarded doctor.

Bill Messing

Denying Reality In Public Education

     David Fabrizio, the principal of the middle school in Ipswich, Massachusetts, shocked parents by canceling the school's March 2013 Honors Night. The idea behind the annual ceremony was to single out students who have earned high grade point averages. The honored students probably received some kind of certificate of achievement. You know, congratulations for a job well-done, keep up the good work kind of thing. The goal, I image, was to encourage and reward excellence. While it all seemed pretty harmless, Principal Fabrizio found the tradition hurtful to students who did not earn the right to be so honored. That's why he put an end to Honors Night.

     In Fabrizio's letter to parents, he laid out his rationale for ditching the ceremony. He wrote: "The Honors Night which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients' families can also be devastating (italics mine) to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class, but, who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade point average." (I wonder how many students actually fit this description. I would guess not many.) Principal Fabrizio also pointed out that many students with bad grades did not get support at home. What he was saying here is that successful students have an advantage. One advantage they might have is superior intelligence.

     As a kid who was a poor student with disappointed and embarrassed parents, I can say that I never resented the good students. Had everyone in my classes been as mediocre as me, I wouldn't have seen how hard work is rewarded through college scholarships and entrance into the better schools. When I enrolled into a college without admission standards, I knew I had a lot of catching up to do.

     While I wasn't happy as a failed student, denying the good students the recognition they deserved would not have made me or my parents feel any better.

     So, what was behind this movement in public education to wish away the reality that academically, not all kids are equal? I wonder if some education administrators resent the high-performing students and their boasting, too-proud parents. (It would be interesting to know what percentage of elementary and middle school educators were mediocre students themselves. It's no secret that in colleges and universities, education is one of the least demanding majors.)

     Principal Fabrizio had a background in coaching where the good athletes were worshipped and rewarded. The lesser athletes were humiliated and rejected. In sports, if you perform badly, you can get booed. To my knowledge, no one got booed in the classroom. When he coached, was Mr. Fabrizio concerned that his better athletes had physical advantages over the second-stringers? Did he ever start a hardworking player who was small, awkward, and slow? Would he play a kid who was lazy and out-of-shape? I don't think so. At the end of the season, there were team members who were not awarded varsity letters. Should they have been devastated?

     In my opinion, Principal Fabrizio's letter to school parents in Ipswich, Massachusetts as a load of pedagogical crap.

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Involved Shootings

A recent police study found that you're much more likely to get shot by a fat cop if you run.

Dennis Miller

Law Enforcement Fear Mongering

     Police administrators, aware that Americans tend to be wary of governmental authority, have never been above fear mongering. The "thin blue line" metaphor--the notion that a fragile barrier of uniformed cops stands between civilized society and hordes of rapists and looters--is a good example of scaring citizens into accepting and appreciating excessive police authority.

     Those skeptical of the "thin blue line" concept were proven right in the early 1970s following a series of experiments in Kansas City, Missouri by the Rand Corporation. The studies revealed no correlation between police patrols and crime prevention. Government fear mongering, from the "reefer madness" era through "thin blue line" period continues. Now, in addition to the specter of a society collapsing under the weight of drug addiction and crime, the fear of terrorism has propelled the move toward a more militarized, heavy-handed form of law enforcement. Today, getting on an airplane, or entering a public school, is like visiting someone in prison. Police officers patrol many big cities the way soldiers walk the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. Many politicians want to turn school teachers into armed police officers. (If I had a child in school, I'd advise him not to talk back to any teacher under stress who's packing heat.) If this trend isn't reversed, the day may come when the fear of crime and terrorism will be matched by the fear of the police.

     As Winston Churchill once said, "Democracy means that when there's a knock at the door at three in the morning, it's probably the milkman." Today, in America, it's certainly not going to be the milkman, and if it's a SWAT team at your door, forget the knock.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Anthony Weiner: The Problem With Disgraced Politicians

     I would argue that if you like and respect politicians, you are either one yourself, want to be a politician, or are related to one. Or maybe you are just stupid. (Okay, that was a bit harsh.) But really, who likes these people? Who can like a sociopath?

     Since I harbor such an intense dislike of politicians, I love political scandals. The bigger the scandal, the better I like it. And I don't care which party the disgraced politician represents. In that regard, I am nonpartisan. While major political scandals raise my spirits, the feeling doesn't last very long. That's because disgraced politicians have a way of coming back. I call it the Bill Clinton Syndrome. Even Richard Nixon, the man behind Watergate, the mother of Twentieth Century political scandals, managed to inch his way back to a certain degree of respectability. (Death is usually a big help in that regard.)

     Politicians, as sociopaths, are incapable of experiencing shame or embarrassment. So instead of fading into obscurity with red faces, these people keep clawing their way back into the limelight and positions of power. They resist political oblivion the way cockroaches fight off insecticide.

Anthony Weiner

     The former U. S. Congressman from New York City is one of my all time favorite disgraced politicians. This is the guy who was run out of office in June 2011 for transmitting photographs of his private parts to female constituents. At first he claimed that someone had hacked into his cellphone. That was a lie, and he was caught with his pants down, as it were.

     The beauty of the Weiner scandal is that this man is such a pompous blowhard, pathological narcissist, and clownish fool. If you didn't thoroughly enjoy his fall from grace, you're obviously not a connoisseur of the political downfall. Or maybe you are, but don't like to admit it.

     Anthony Weiner, the media-whore congressman who, before his fall, was considered one of the leading contenders in the upcoming New York City mayoral race, has been chomping at the bit to make a political comeback. In March 2013, less than two years following his colossal disgrace, Weiner shelled out $106,500 for two polls to determine what New Yorkers think of him now. The polls were in anticipation of a possible Weiner run for mayor or city comptroller.

     While the news was bad for him, it was music to my ears. According to reports, New York voters have not forgotten what a fool he made of himself and the people who put him into office. This doesn't mean, of course, that we've heard the last of Anthony Weiner. Like all good sociopaths, he never admits defeat. That's the part I don't like. 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Stupid Pickpocket

Once I pulled a job. I was so stupid. I picked a guy's pocket on an airplane and made a run for it.

Rodney Dangerfield 

Crime Bulletin: Joe Biden's Take on Domestic Violence

In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.

Napoleon Bonaparte

    In a speech delivered in Washington, D. C. on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, Vice President Joe Biden, the self-proclaimed criminal justice expert on subjects ranging from how to stop intruders by shot-gunning them through closed doors, to the problem of domestic violence, once again revealed the scope and depth of his stupidity. In profiling men who physically abuse women, Biden said, "We've learned that certain behaviors on the part of an abuser portend much more danger than other behaviors. For example, if an abuser has attempted to strangle his victim, if he's threatened to shoot her, if he's sexually assaulted her, these are tell tale signs to say this isn't your garden variety slap across the face."

     Joe Biden has the unusual ability to make statements that are both puerile and offensive. While it's obvious that a man who attempts to strangle a woman is dangerous, a man who slaps a woman in the face could be just as dangerous. "Garden variety" or not, a man who has slapped a woman in the face has committed criminal assault. Moreover, slaps have a way of escalating to more severe beatings, and even murder.

     Among the dumb politicians in Washington, Joe Biden has been the most eager to put his stupidity on display. He's done it time and time again. In fact, he's done it so many times and in so many ways, people no longer take much notice. I guess every village has to have an idiot. But when that idiot could become the President of the United States, it's cause for concern. 

Crime Bulletin: Another Gang Rape in India

     On Friday night, March 15, 2013, a Swiss couple on a three-month vacation in India were camped out in the forest 400 yards off a road near the town of Datia in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The couple had ridden their bicycles from the temple town of Orchha. In the morning, they planned to bicycle to the city of Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal. (A British woman in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal four days later had to jump from her hotel balcony to escape being raped by the hotel owner. The tourist injured her leg.)

     The Swiss woman and her male companion, that Friday night in the Indian woods, were set upon by seven or eight men. The intruders beat them, tied the man to a tree, then gang-raped the woman. After committing these crimes, the gang stole the tourists' mobile phone, laptop computer, and their money. ($188) The woman received treatment for her injuries at a hospital in the nearby city of Gwalior.

    In December 2012, as a result of six men gang-raping and killing a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus, the Swiss government issued a travel notice warning of the dangers of being raped in India. Historically, the police in India have treated rape as a victimless crime. That attitude, in the wake of the New Delhi case and other recent high-profile crimes against women in the country, might be changing. New laws and tougher law enforcement policies, however, will not, among large portions of India's male population, change the culture of rape in that nation. It is still a dangerous place for women.

     On March 17, 2013, the police in Datia arrested six men in connection with the Swiss tourists case. The next day these men were charged with rape, assault, and theft. All of the suspects are poor farmers from villages near the scene of the crimes. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Forensic Pathology: Cause and Manner of Death

     Forensic pathologists are physicians educated and trained to determine the cause and manner of death in cases involving violent, sudden, or unexplained fatalities. The cause of death is the medical reason the person died. One cause of death is asphyxia--lack of oxygen to the brain. It occurs as a result of drowning, suffocation, manual strangulation, strangulation by ligature (such as a rope, belt, or length of cloth) crushing, or carbon monoxide poisoning. Other causes of death include blunt force trauma, gunshot wound, stabbing, slashing, poisoning, heart attack, stroke, or a sickness such as cancer, pneumonia, or heart disease.

     For the forensic pathologist, the most difficult task often involves detecting the manner of death--natural, accidental, suicidal, or homicidal. This is because the manner of death isn't always revealed by the physical condition of the body. For example, a death resulting from a drug overdose could be the result of homicide, suicide, or accident. Knowing exactly how the fatal drug got into the victim's system requires additional information, data that usually comes from a police investigation. A death investigator, for example, will try to find out if the overdose victim had a history of drug abuse, or if there were signs of a struggle at the scene of the death. Has this victim attempted suicide in the past? Did the victim leave a suicide note? Did someone have a compelling motive to kill this person? Is there evidence of a love triangle, life insurance fraud, hatred, or revenge? These are basic investigative leads that could help a forensic pathologist determine the manner of death.

     When the circumstances of a suspicious death are not ascertained, or are sketchy, and the death was not an obvious homicide, the medical examiner might classify the manner of death as "undetermined." Drug overdose cases that are only slightly suspicious and therefore not thoroughly investigated often go into the books as either accidents or suicides. This is true of other forms of slightly suspicious death. Because a body is found dead in the water doesn't necessarily mean this person has drowned. This victim could have been murdered and then dumped into the water. Even in a death by drowning, the person could have died after being criminally thrown from a boat or off a pier.

     There are more sudden, violent, and unexplained deaths in the United States than the nation's four hundred board-certified forensic pathologists can handle. This gruesome workload ideally should require at least a thousand forensic pathologists. As a result of this personnel shortage, not every death that calls for an autopsy gets one. Because there is also a shortage of qualified criminal investigators, not every death that requires an investigation gets the attention it deserves. This means we don't know exactly how many people in this country are murdered every year. And of the cases we know are criminal homicides, about half go unsolved. This is one of the biggest failures of our criminal justice system. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Forensic Science

Forensic scientists are not policemen. We are scientists. We deal with matters objectively. We do not act on our suspicions.

Dr. Cyril Wecht, forensic pathologist 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Criminal Justice Quote: Prison Overcrowding

On average, drug prisoners spend more time in federal prison than rapists, who often get out on early release because of the overcrowding in prison caused by the drug war.

Michael Badnarik

Stephen Slevin: The Forgotten Inmate

       The Dona Ana County Jail is in Las Cruces, New Mexico in the south central part of the state not far from the Mexican border. In August 2005, a driving while intoxicated and receiving stolen property arrestee named Stephen Slevin was placed into the 846-cot lockup. The 51-year-old, because of his history of mental illness, was segregated from the jail population. For reasons that defy understanding, Slevin remained in solitary confinement until his release in June 2007. After having Slevin in custody for 22 months, the local prosecutor dropped the charges against the so-called "forgotten inmate." (Had he been truly forgotten, the inmate would have starved to death. Since someone fed this isolated prisoner for 22 months, jail personnel knew of his situation. So how did this happen?)

     The "forgotten" prisoner had entered the Dona Ana County Jail in relatively good health, mentally and physically. He left the place weighting 133 pounds with bed sores and rotten teeth. (During his incarceration, he had pulled out his own abscessed tooth.) Slevin also walked out of the facility suffering from post-traumatic stress.

     Attorney Matthew Coyte, in December 2008, filed a civil rights suit on Slevin's behalf against Dana Ana County, New Mexico. County authorities fought the suit, but at Slevin's civil rights trial in March 2012, the jury awarded the plaintiff $22 million. Fighting the case had been an obvious mistake. The county appealed the award on grounds the damages were excessive.

     In March 2013, the Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners dropped the appeal and settled the case. The county agreed to pay the "forgotten inmate" $15.5 million.

     The settlement resolved the civil side of the case. But what about the criminal aspect of Slevin's 22-month wrongful imprisonment? The bureaucrats responsible for this man's ordeal were clearly guilty of a degree of reckless indifference that was criminal. But holding government employees responsible for malfeasance is extremely difficult. The nature of bureaucracy protects incompetent practitioners by making it almost impossible to pinpoint wrongdoing to any one person.

     Had Stephen Slevin been falsely imprisoned in a private sector facility, corrections personnel would be serving prison sentences.

     If Mr. Slevin, months into his hellish confinement, had committed suicide, this would have been a homicide case. The taxpayers of Dona Ana County had to foot the bill for this stunning example of governmental negligence, but no public employee was held criminally culpable for this inexplicable corrections fiasco. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Crime Bulletin: Sherlock Holmes on Criminal Investigation

     The creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, said that a first-class investigator had to have a good mind, exact knowledge, and the powers of observation and deduction. That's true, as far as it goes, but he forgot to mention persistence, audacity, objectivity, and above all, integrity. And a little luck never hurt anyone.

Criminal Justice Quote: Politics

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

Groucho Marx

Crime Bulletin: Harlem Mother Jumps to Her Death Holding Infant

     Cynthia Wachenheim lived in an high rise apartment building with her husband and 10-month-old son on Broadhurst Avenue near 147th Street in Harlem, New York. A city employee on maternity leave, the 44-year-old was being treated for postpartum depression.

      Neighbors, at noon on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, heard Wachenheim and her husband arguing before he left for work. At three-thirty that afternoon, the depressed mother, holding her baby in her arms, jumped from her eighth-floor window. She landed on her back, cushioning the baby's fall. The boy bounced off the dead woman's body and rolled onto the street crying. The infant arrived at the Harlem Hospital in critical but stable condition, and is expected to survive.

     The distraught mother left behind a 13-page handwritten suicide letter in which she acknowledged that she had been making her husband suffer. "You're going to think I'm evil," she wrote. 

Terrilynn Monette's Unexplained Death

     Terrilynn Monette grew up in Long Beach, California. After attending Wilson High School, she graduated from Cal State San Bernardino with a degree in elementary education. In 2011, the 24-year-old, pursuant to a program called "teachNOLA", moved to New Orleans to educate disadvantaged students. Monette ended up teaching second graders at Woodland West Elementary, a low-performing school in a poor section of the city.

     On Friday night, March 1, 2013, Monette and a few friends were drinking at Parlay's Bar in the Lakeview section of New Orleans. Later that night, at three-thirty in the morning, the bartender decided Monette had enough to drink, and cut her off. Telling her friends that she planned to sleep a few hours in her car before driving home, Monette walked out of the bar shortly after the barkeep refused to serve her any more alcohol.

     The school teacher, wearing a pink and yellow sweater and blue jeans, was last seen at five that morning sleeping in her black 2012 Honda Accord in the Harrison Avenue bar's rear parking lot. Some time after that, she and her car were no longer behind the bar. Terrilynn Monette simply disappeared.

     Deputies with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office searched a Bayou located between Parlay's Bar and Monette's apartment. They found no signs of her or the vehicle. The Louisiana license number to the missing Honda was WUN 494. The missing woman was black, five-foot-eight, and weighs 180 pounds. She had shoulder-length hair and a tattoo on her left leg. The authorities had no suspects in her disappearance.

     The body inside a car found by a diver in Bayou St. John on Saturday June 8, 2013 was identified as the remains of the missing school teacher.

     Following the autopsy, the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office ruled Monette's cause of death as drowning. The forensic pathologist found no evidence of foul play. Moreover, the victim had not been under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Members of Terrilynn Monette's family believed she had fallen asleep at the wheel.

     As of July 2019, there have been no arrested associated with this case.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Criminal Justice Quote: Mass Murder

On the night of November 14th, two men broke into a quiet farmhouse in Kansas and murdered an entire family. Why did they do that? Two worlds exist in this country: the quiet conservative life and the life of these two men--the underbelly, the criminally violent. Those two worlds converged that bloody night.

Truman Capote regarding his book In Cold Blood about the 1959 murder of the Clutter family

Criminal Justice Quote: Serial Killers

I have no desire whatsoever to reform myself. My only desire is to reform people who try to reform me, and I believe the only way to reform people is to kill them. My motto is: Rob 'em all, rape 'em all, and kill 'em all.

Carl Panzram, serial killer

Friday, March 15, 2013

Crime Bulletin: Getting past TSA with Fake Bombs

     Recently, a TSA undercover inspector with a fake bomb in his pants got through two checkpoints at the Newark-Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. He was actually cleared to board a plane.

     Had the bomb been real, it would have been powerful enough to blow a large hole in the aircraft which could have knocked the plane out of the sky.

     In a New York Post expose, a former TSA officer revealed that many TSA employees don't have high school degrees, and were employed by the TSA because they weren't qualified for decent jobs in the private sector. Some, according to the Post article, have criminal records. Not only that, these federal employees entrusted with our safety consider the TSA job a joke. Many hope to use the job as a stepping stone to a better federal gig.

     According to the whistleblower, undercover TSA inspectors carrying fake bombs and other weapons regularly get through security while security agents are patting down old ladies and harassing children in wheelchairs.

     Trusting government employees to keep us safe from airplane bombers is like relying on meth addicts and pedophiles to babysit our children. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Fingerprints

Jekyll's finger patterns remain the same when he transforms himself into Hyde.

Henry Faulds, English fingerprint pioneer 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Criminal Justice Quote: The Electric Chair

I am an expert of electricity. My father occupied the chair of applied electricity at the state prison.

W. C. Fields

Crime Bulletin: Accused Pedophile Mark Berndt's $30 Million Settlement

     In January 2012, Los Angeles detectives, after a year-long investigation, arrested Mark Berndt, a 61-year-old Miramonte Elementary School teacher in the Florence section of the city. The case came to light after a drugstore photo technician discovered images of children who had been blindfolded. Many of the students' mouths were covered with duct tape. A Los Angeles County prosecutor charged Berndt with 23 counts of lewd conduct which included allegations that he had spoon-fed semen to the blindfolded children as part of what he called a tasting game. The teacher also stands accused of feeding his students semen-tainted cookies, and placing cockroaches on their faces.

     Berndt has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is incarcerated in the Los Angeles County Jail in lieu of $23 million bail.

     The Miramonte school teacher had been the target of a 1993 criminal investigation triggered by a female student's claim that he had fondled her. Investigators dropped the case due to insufficient evidence.

     On March 12, 2013, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles United School District announced it will pay $30 million to settle the claims filed by the Miramonte parents of Berndt's violated students.

     When talking about the cost of public education, politicians never mention how much pedophiles cost the American tax payer. (See: "Mark Berndt: The Elementary Teacher From Hell," February 8, 2012 and "Pedophile Teachers in California Easier to Prosecute Than Fire," August 26, 2012.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I don't think I will do a Mafia character again. I want to get away from the violence a little bit, because it is starting to bother me personally.

James Gandolfini aka Tony Soprano. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Criminal Voyeurism: Dr. Adam Levison and Other Cases

     The act of voyeurism runs the gamut of watching reality TV, to window peeping, to the use of hidden and clandestine cameras for one's sexual gratification. In an era of adult entertainment, it seems odd that so many teachers, clergymen, politicians, bosses, lawyers, and physicians have been caught using covert devices like pen cameras to satisfy their sexual curiosities.

     A man (this is not a crime usually committed by women) who risks his family, career, and position in society by secretly videotaping females (and young boys) changing clothes, showering, using the restroom, or merely going about their daily activity in skirts, must possess a powerful sexual compulsion that by any standard is deviant. Because this form of pathological voyeurism is also a crime, the clandestine video-taper also risks going to prison. The risk/reward imbalance inherent in this bizarre behavior suggests that these voyeurs are beyond the reach of counselors and medication.

Richard Watkins

     In March 2010, an elementary school teacher in Calne, a town of 13,000 in southwest England, was caught using a pen camera to video-record boys as they changed their clothes for physical education class. Richard Watkins had been doing this for two years, and had thousands of clandestinely acquired images on his home computer.

     The 28-year-old teacher and former children's entertainer (said to possess "circus skills"), pleaded guilty to thirteen counts of criminal voyeurism. The judge sentenced Watkins to four years in prison where he would have plenty of time to practice his juggling.

James Mucha

     In March 2011, James Mucha, an employee of a small manufacturing company in Avon Lake, Ohio, was caught using a pen camera in the women's restroom. A female employee noticed a pen standing upright behind the door after she closed it. Thinking this was an odd place for a writing instrument, the woman picked it up, unscrewed the cap, and found a mini-camera.

     The 43-year-old pen camera owner was charged in August 2011 with three counts of voyeurism. (The company fired him.) Three months later, the judge sentenced Mucha to 150 days in the county jail followed by one year of probation. The judge also fined him $2,000. (Voyeurs who video adult women usually get lighter sentences than men who record children.)

Joshua Waguespack

     In April 2012, in LeLand, Florida, police officers arrested Joshua Waguespack, a seventh grade math teacher at St. Peter's Catholic School. The 33-year-old had used a pen camera to take videos of two girls, ages 12 and 13, who used his teacher's storage closet to change into their gym clothes. He had downloaded these images onto his iPhone and iPad.

     After pleading no contest to two counts of criminal voyeurism in February 2013, the judge sentenced Waguespack to five years in prison. (This is a relatively heavy sentence for a defendant who pleaded guilty which suggests that Waguespack has a criminal history the judge didn't like.)

Dr. Adam Levison

     Having studied at the University of California Berkeley, Georgetown University, and the New York Medical College where he graduated at the top of his class, Dr. Adam Levison taught robotic surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital's School of Medicine in Manhattan. The 39-year-old assistant Professor of Urology lived in a posh West Greenwich Village apartment. Dr. Levison had prestige, good-looks, and money. From all appearances this man had it all. He also had a lot to lose.

     On Tuesday, August 2, 2012, a New York subway transit officer, acting on a tip from two passengers riding on the train with Dr. Levison, arrested the urologist for using a pen camera clipped to a folded newspaper to take shots up women's skirts. Taken into custody at the Union Square Station during the evening rush-hour, the doctor did not protest or proclaim his innocence.

     At his arraignment the day after his arrest, the judge charged Dr. Levison with second-degree unlawful surveillance. If convicted, he faced a maximum sentence of four years in prison. Dr. Levison posted bail, and was released.

     A search of the doctor's pen camera video footage confirmed the suspicions of his fellow subway passengers and the arresting transit officer.

     Mount Sinai Hospital, two months after the subway arrest, announced that the physician was no longer employed by the institution.

     In January 2014, Dr. Levinson pleaded guilty in return for a sentence of five years probation. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Criminal Justice Quote: Serial Killers

I love to kill people. I love watching them die. I would shoot them in the head and they would wiggle and squirm all over the place, and then just stop. Or I would cut them with a knife and watch their faces turn real white. I love all of that blood. I told one lady to give me all of her money. She said no. So I cut and pulled her eyes out.

Richard Ramirez, the "Night Stalker" 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Criminal Justice Quote: Serial Killers

I should never have been convicted of anything more serious than running a cemetery without a license.

John Wayne Gacy

Criminal Justice Quote: Casey Anthony

I've thought about adopting, which sounds weird to me saying it, but there are so many children that deserve to be loved.

Casey Anthony

Pedophiles Run Free in California Because Jails and Prisons Are Full

     There is a lot to dislike about California. The state is broke, taxes are too high, politicians live like kings and queens, and the public school system is one of the worst in the country. California is home to so many street gangsters, drug dealers, carjackers, drug abusers, wife beaters, rapists, burglars, and armed robbers, there is not enough room in its jails and prisons for the vast number of pedophiles who live and offend in the state. California is not a good place to raise children who are not from upper-middle-class or rich families. (That doesn't mean that the children of Hollywood celebrities are doing that well.)

     In 2006, citizens of the Golden state, aware that they were living in the pedophilia capital of America, got behind a law that required all "high-risk sex offenders" (pedophiles) who had served their time or had been released early on parole, to be tracked for life with GPS monitors. These fiber-optic cables that transmit signals to private contract monitoring centers, are attached to sex offenders' ankles with rubber straps. Whenever a GPS-monitored pedophile enters a forbidden area such as a school zone or a playground, the ankle device is activated. Monitoring personnel, upon receiving an alarm signal, alert the appropriate parole authority through text message or email. The ankle device will also go off if tampered with or removed. (While I don't object to tracking convicted child molesters the way zoologists monitor chip-embedded animals, the ideal solution would be to lock these perverts up for life.)

     GPS monitored pedophiles and other sex offenders out on parole who were arrested for violating the terms of their conditional releases, used to sit in jail for months awaiting their parole revocation hearings. If found guilty of breaking the terms of their parole, judges sent these violators back to prison for up to a year. The system, designed to deter sexual deviates from reoffending, didn't work because there were so many of them they, along with all of the other criminals in California, overwhelmed the state's prisons and jails. 

     In 2011, justices on the California Supreme Court ordered state correctional bureaucrats to significantly reduce prison overcrowding. (Instead of this ruling, the judges should have issued a warning to criminals that said: if you don't like living with three or four other inmates in a cell, go straight.) Many judges on the county level issued similar mandates to reduce local jail populations. In October of 2011, Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature, to carry out the judicial decree, initiated the so-called "realignment program". Pursuant to this new corrections policy, prison inmates across the state were released on parole early. If those being shown the door prematurely were pedophiles and other high-risk sex offenders, they were fitted with the GPS tracking devices. 

     Under the realignment program, sex offenders who were incarcerated to await their parole hearings, could not be held in jail for more than 180 days. Following the implementation of the new policy, many jails simply refused to take sex offenders arrested for breaking parole. Most parole violators were released from custody within hours of their parole violation arrests.

     As a result of California's realignment program, tens of thousands of paroled, GPS-monitored pedophiles were serving their sentences out of the jail and prison system. Because these offenders knew they could break parole and not be incarcerated because jailers and prison wardens didn't want them, parolees started removing their GPS ankle devices. Alarms went off, parole violation warrants were issued (3,400 since October 2011), but no one was put back behind bars. (In California, if you're a pedophile, it's easier getting into college than jail.) While California's jails and prisons are no longer crowded, pedophiles and sex offenders who have shed their tracking devices are re-offending.

     Government, almost by definition, is dysfunctional. But criminal justice dysfunction that comes to the aid of child molesters and rapists is unforgivable. At some point in California's corrections field, inmate comfort trumped the welfare of children. It's just amazing what parents in that state put up with.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Marco McMillian: The Murder of a Mississippi Mayoral Candidate

     Marco McMillian grew up in Clarksdale, Mississippi, a town of 18,000 in the northwestern part of the state. In 2001, he graduated from W.E.B. DuBois Honors College at Jackson State University. After acquiring a masters degree in philanthropy and development from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, McMillian, a community organizer, moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he set up his own consulting firm. (Basically, as I understand it, McMillian showed nonprofit organizations how to obtain federal grants.)

     Late in 2012, after Clarksdale mayor Henry Espy, Jr. announced that he was not running for re-election after more than 20 years in office, McMillian moved back to the capital of Coahoma County. In January 2013, the openly gay, 34-year-old black man announced his candidacy for mayor of Clarksdale. The democrat said as mayor he would tackle the town's high rates of crime and poverty.

     At eight in the morning of February 26, 2013, on U.S. Highway 26 near the Coahoma/Tallahatchie County line about 25 miles from Clarksdale, Lawrence Reed, while driving McMillian's SUV, crashed head-on into another vehicle. The collision injured the 22-year-old Reed as well as the two occupants of the other car. Paramedics transported Reed by air to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis. The driver and passenger of the other vehicle were treated in Mississippi.

     Because Marco McMillian was not in his SUV, Coahoma County Sheriff's Office deputies, suspecting foul play, began looking for him. Thirty minutes after responding to the traffic accident, officers found McMillian's body lying in the woods near the Mississippi-Yazoo levee ten miles from Clarksdale. A set of tire tracks led to the spot at the edge of the woods where the corpse had been dumped.

     The circumstances of this case led to police speculation that Mr. McMillian had been the victim of a carjacking committed by a stranger, or had been murdered for some other reason by a man he knew. According to a sheriff's office spokesperson, investigators did not believe the murder had anything to do with politics or the fact the victim was gay. The Coahoma County coroner has not revealed the cause of death in the case.

     On February 28, 2013, according to a sheriff's office news release, Lawrence Reed, a black man, had been charged in Marco McMillian's death. While his current address is unknown, Reed had once resided in a Clarksdale apartment complex. The police have not revealed the motive behind McMillian's murder.