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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Former Pro Wrestler Kevin Nash and Son Arrested

     Former WWE star Kevin Nash and his 18-year-old son, Tristen Nash, were arrested on December 24, 2014 after getting into a scuffle at their Florida home. Kevin Nash, known as Diesel in the ring, was arrested after police say he got into a physical altercation with his son after the boy came home drunk. Father and son gave the police different accounts of the incident, each blaming the other.

     Tristen Nash claims he and his father got into an argument about the boy's girlfriend and the fact he came home drunk. The 6-foot-10 former wrestler pinned his son to the ground. Kevin Nash told officers that his son had been the aggressor and that he only pinned him to protect his wife…

     Police arrested the father at the scene, but deputies later returned and arrested Tristen after his mother and uncle said he tried to fight with them as well…The family lawyer told reporters that the son was "out of control."

     Kevin Nash and his son were released from the Volusia County Jail without bond.

"Former Wrestling Star Arrested on Battery Charge," CNN, December 25, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Over-The-Hill Sitcom Actor Stabs Man in Bar

     Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on the 1990s TV show "Saved by the Bell," was charged on Friday December 26, 2014 with stabbing a man during a fight on Christmas day. He faces charges of endangering safety, disorderly conduct, and carrying a concealed weapon…According to the criminal complaint, Diamond told police that he and his fiancee went out to several bars on Thursday night in Port Washington, a town thirty miles north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The couple got into a tussle with two men and another woman at the Grand Avenue Saloon…

     Port Washington police say they responded at 11:15 PM to a report of a stabbing. When officers caught up with the couple in their SUV down the road from the bar, Diamond said he had held a pen in his hand during the fight. In the vehicle, however, officers found a bloody switchblade knife. At this point Diamond admitted that he had accidentally stabbed the man while trying to defend his fiancee…The victim had been stabbed under the arm and was not seriously injured.

     Diamond appeared in Ozaukee County court where the judge set his bail at $10,000….His fiancee, 27-year-old Amanda Schutz, faces a disorderly conduct charge…

     Since his decade-long run on the TV show, Diamond has been sued several times for delinquent taxes and in foreclosure proceedings for missing mortgage payments. He has appeared on reality TV [the graveyard for career-dead celebrities] and most recently produced a tell-all documentary on Lifetime TV called "The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story."

"Saved by the Bell Star Arrested After Stabbing," Associated Press, December 27, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Officers Killed in the Line of Duty in 2014

     The number of law enforcement officers killed by firearms jumped by 56 percent in 2014 and included 15 ambush deaths. But gun-related police deaths still remain far below historic highs and lower that the average annual figures in the past decade, according to a report released Tuesday December 30, 2014.

     The annual report by the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found that 50 officers were killed by guns this year. That's higher than the 32 such deaths in 2013 but the same as 2012 figures. In 2011, 73 officers were killed in gunfire, the most of any year in the past decade. The average since 2004 is 55 police deaths annually,

     The report found that 126 federal, local, tribal and territorial officers where killed--from all causes--in the line of duty in 2014. That's a 24 percent jump from last year's 102 on-duty deaths and below the average annual figures since 2004 and the all-time high of 156 in 1973. Of the 126 officer deaths this year, shootings were the leading cause, followed by traffic-related fatalities at 49…

     The states that saw the most officer deaths were California, at 14, Texas, at 11, and New York, at nine. Florida followed with six deaths, and Georgia had five, according to the report. The 15 ambush assaults on police officers this year compares to just five in 2013, but matched 2012 for the highest since 1995….

"Report: Police Gun Deaths Up, Still Below Average," Associated Press, December 30, 2014 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Flagstaff Man Kills Police Officer

     A police officer in Flagstaff, Arizona was killed Saturday afternoon December 27, 2014 while investigating a domestic violence case…The gunman then fatally shot himself…The officer, Tyler Jacob Stewart, 24, was the first Flagstaff officer to die in the line of duty in 13 years and only the second fatality in the history of the department…

     Officer Stewart was investigating the case on the west side of Flagstaff when a man opened fire. Officer Steward was struck several times…The gunman was identified as Robert W. Smith of Prescott, an Arizona town 90 miles southwest of Flagstaff.

     Officer Stewart was taken to Flagstaff Medical Center where he died shortly upon arrival…Officials reported that the officer had not been able to return fire…Investigators do not know why Mr. Smith killed the police officer. Officer Stewart had been on the force less than a year…

     The last Flagstaff police killing occurred in 2001….

"Man Fatally Shoots Arizona Officer, Then Kills Himself, Police Say," The New York Times, December 27, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Targeting the Police

     Two Los Angeles police officers were shot at Sunday night December 28, 2014 while they drove their patrol car…The officers returned fire…No one was injured in the exchange. One suspect was arrested in possession of a rifle, the other remained at large…

     That Sunday there was a second incident involving police officers who were fired at. This shooting took place in Pasco County, Florida. Someone fired three shots at two sheriff's deputies as they sat in their patrol car. According to a sheriff's office spokesperson, "Both deputies heard the whizzing sound of each projectile. The officers did not see the shooter or the vehicle from which the shots were fired."…

     These two police targeting incidents occurred after New York police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were gunned down in their patrol car on December 20, 2014….

"Officers Shot At in Florida and Los Angeles," CNN, December 29, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

     If you want to write or illustrate books for kids, the number one piece of advice you're going to hear is "Join the SCBWI." I'll bet money on it.

     SCBWI stands for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and is a world-wide organization that links together those who want to create content for kids. There are many regional chapters in the United States, and plenty internationally as well. The group holds meetings, has annual conferences (both regional and national) and provides both a support system as well as a wealth of online resources.

Chuck Sambuchino in Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2013 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Death Penalty Remains Popular in Oklahoma

     The botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April 2014 and other troubling executions in Ohio and Arizona gave capital punishment opponents a flicker of hope that areas of the country that most enthusiastically support the death penalty might have a change of heart. They didn't.

     Although Governor Mary Fallin suspended further executions so that Lockett's death and Oklahoma's methods could be reviewed, the state held what amounted to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its overhauled death chamber only months later and is scheduled to resume killing inmates in mid-January 2015. And rather than causing states to question whether capital punishment is just or worth the risk of subjecting someone to a potentially agonizing death, the prolonged executions and problems states have had securing lethal injection drugs have led them to explore new and more efficient ways of killing, including gassing inmates…

     Lockett's execution did little or nothing to dampen support for the death penalty in deeply conservative Oklahoma which has killed more inmates than any other state except Texas since the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty. In October 2014, officials gave media tours of the renovated execution unit at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, which got a $104,000 overhaul after Lockett's death and now stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the shabby, 106-year-old facility.

     Not content with just the upgrades to the prison and lethal injection equipment, though, Oklahoma's House of Representatives conducted a study on the use of nitrogen gas to execute inmates and is expected to consider legislation early next year that would make Oklahoma the first state to adopt hypoxia by gas--the forced deprivation of oxygen--as a legal execution method…

     Tennessee passed a law in 2014 to reinstate the electric chair if it can't get lethal injection drugs and Utah is considering bringing back the firing squad.

     Oklahoma has executed 194 inmates since achieving statehood in 1907, including one by hanging, 82 by electrocution and 111 by lethal injection….

Sean Murphy, "Death Penalty States Unmoved by Botched Execution," Associated Press, December 27, 2014 

Writing Quote: Writing a Science Fiction Novel That Includes a Mystery Plot

Science fiction readers are frequently also mystery fans, and books that combine a science fiction setting with a mystery plot range from more or less straightforward detective stores with a future setting to uncompromising science fiction stories that have solving a mystery as a key plot element.

Peter Hack in Science Fiction Writer's Market Place and Sourcebook, edited by David G. Tompkins, 1994 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Shoplifter Fakes Heart Attack While His Accomplice Steals Toys

     Tarus Scott, 30, and Genard Dupree, 27, were arrested Tuesday December 16, 2014 after a surveillance camera in Walmart in Lake Wales, Florida, captured their shoplifting stunt on tape…The video showed the suspects walking through the store together. Suddenly, Dupree laid on the ground near the entrance and clutches his chest, pretending to have a heart attack.

     When other shoppers saw Dupree on the ground, they tried to help him while Scott allegedly helped himself to $369 worth of toys…Once Scott was out of the store, Dupree got up, brushed himself off, and walked out as well. Both men were seen getting into a silver sport utility vehicle…Police picked up the suspects a short time later and charged them each with grand theft…

     Both Scott and Dupree have extensive criminal backgrounds and Scott was recently released after serving 10 years in state prison. [Apparently ten years wasn't enough.]

"Man Fakes Heart Attack So Accomplice Can Steal Toys," huffingtonpost.com, December 17, 2014 

Writing Quote: Perfect Romance Heroines Are Off-Putting

I feel that a character's flaws are what allows the reader to relate to her. I'm well-known for not being a fan of the "perfect" heroine. Our admiration may be aroused by perfection, but that is a distant emotion. Empathy comes from a shared sense of humanity, and that's what interests me. The flaws that I choose are flaws that interest me; flaws that seem to challenge the character is some way.

Laura Kinsale, likesbooks.com, 2003

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Boy Drowns in Murky Day Care Pool

     A former Philadelphia day care owner pleaded guilty in the drowning death of a boy who attended her unlicensed center. Tianna Edwards, 32, faces up to 22 years in prison…She pleaded guilty on December 18, 2014 to involuntary manslaughter and lesser charges. Prosecutors say it took police nine hours to find 7-year-old Isear Jeffcoat's body in the murky backyard pool at her mother's house.

     According to the police, Tianna Edwards, in June 2012, dropped off 20 children for a swim then left the house. Before pleading guilty to the criminal homicide charge, Edwards had pleaded guilty to improperly taking $1.4 million in day care payments. The judge sentenced her to five years on that charge.

     With regard to the involuntary manslaughter charge, her lawyer said Edwards had pleaded guilty to take responsibility for what he called a "tragic accident." [Letting children swim unsupervised in a filthy pool was not an "accident."]

     Authorities say Edwards hid her criminal record to open Tianna's Terrific Tots day care center and spent government payments on gambling and personal expenses.

"Day Care Owner Pleads in Boy's Death in Murky Pool," Associated Press, December 19, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dead Infants Found in Abandoned Storage Unit

     A mother is under investigation after sheriff's deputies found the remains of two infants in a storage locker in Placer County, California. In November 2014, Placer County resident Regina Zimmer purchased the abandoned storage unit in an auction. Inside the locker she detected a foul odor coming from a container. "We opened it up, and the smell that came out was horrible," she said. "It was a little skull. It looked like it was in three pieces with some hair. And you could see a jawbone."

     Investigators said the previous owner of the storage unit had defaulted on the rent, leaving the inventory untouched for several months--including the remains of two babies. "The remains were in very poor condition," said Lieutenant John Poretti with the Placer County Sheriff's Department. "I mean, there was no easy way to tell exactly what we had."

     The container was taken to the Placer County morgue for autopsies on both babies to determine the causes of their deaths….

"Remains of Infants Found in Colfax Storage," kcra.com, December 18, 2014 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Writing Quote: The Children's Book Writer Must Identify With His Intended Reader

Before you begin to write your children's book, make sure that you are clear in your own mind whether you are writing about children, or for them. Do you have a reader in prospect? If there is any doubt or ambiguity about this, your work will suffer. If you try to write for children, but hope that adults will be reading the book, too, an element of insincerity is almost certain to slip into your style.

Joan Aiken, The Way to Write for Children, 1999

Friday, December 19, 2014

Writing Quote: Don't Interview Subjects in Restaurants

When I do interviews, I never take my subjects to a restaurant for lunch. It's one of the worst things a journalist can do. Stay on their turf. Interview them in their world. If they say, "Now I've got to go and pick up my kids from day care and go to the grocery store," you say, "Great. I can write while we're on the bus." I'm not just hearing their stories. I'm watching them live. I find my truth in what they say and how they live.

Katherine Boo in Telling True Stories, edited by Wendy Call, 2007 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Is Former NFL Star Darren Sharper a Serial Rapist?

     Former New Orleans Saints football player Darren Sharper has been indicted by an Orleans Parish grand jury on two counts of aggravated rape…Sharper's indictment stems from an alleged incident in September 2013. According to a police report, the rape happened in the Warehouse District on September 23, 2013 at ten in the morning. Later, police said a second victim claimed she was raped by Sharper and another man in the same apartment…

     Sharper, who remains in a Los Angeles jail, is under investigation for eight rapes and 11 druggings in Louisiana, Nevada, Arizona, and California. He is being held without bond in Los Angeles as he awaits two rape charges there. He also has been formally charged in two rapes in Tempe, Arizona.

     The 38-year-old Sharper spent 14 years in the NFL as a safety. He played for the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings and then the Saints. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection. He retired in 2010.

"Darren Sharper Indicted on Rape Allegations in New Orleans,"  USA Today, December 12, 2014 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Lambert Corpse in the Refrigerator Murder Case

     In June 2014, Patrick Lambert, his wife Anastacia, and their 6-month-old son moved into the Braeswood Oaks apartment complex in southwest Houston, Texas. Anastacia had been born and raised in West Africa and Patrick had lived in New York City, Clearwater, Florida, and Hawaii.

     On September 2, 2014, Anastacia Lambert called 911 to report a domestic disturbance at the second-story Braeswood Oaks apartment. To the responding officers with the Houston Police Department, she accused her husband with threatening her with a knife. The police did not take Patrick Lambert into custody and no criminal charges were filed against him.

     On November 20, 2014, the utility company turned off the power to the Lambert apartment for lack of payment. Because neighbors hadn't seen Anastacia, her husband, or their 11-month-old son since the end of November, they thought the family had moved out. Because Anastacia didn't have family in the country and didn't work outside the home, there were no relatives or fellow employees to report her missing.

     At two in the afternoon of December 8, 2014, maintenance workers at the Braeswood Oaks complex detected a strong odor of death coming from unit 822, the Lambert apartment. The workers called 911.

     Upon entering the apartment, police officers discovered a large quantity of dried blood on the kitchen floor. They also found 27-year-old Anastacia Lambert's corpse stuffed inside the refrigerator. She had been stabbed to death and her son was not in the apartment.

     On the day police found the body in the refrigerator, the authorities issued an Amber Alert for the Lambert child and his 38-year-old father. Police described the missing murder suspect as a five-foot-elven inch black male. The police did not have a description of Lambert's vehicle and had no idea regarding his whereabouts or the whereabouts of his son.

     Police officers had the crime scene refrigerator transported to the Houston Crime Lab for forensic examination.   

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Arrest Brazilian Serial Killer

     A Brazilian man has confessed to killing 39 women in the Rio de Janeiro region… If his claim is confirmed, he will be one of the most prolific serial killers in the country's history.

     In an interview with Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo, the alleged killer, Sailson Jose das Gracas, said he carried out his first slaying when he was 17 and continued to kill over the next decade. "I started robbing purses and small things like that," he told TV Globo. "And as I got older, I started having different thoughts. My thoughts started changing. From stealing, I started thinking about killing."

     The 26-years-old said he didn't kill impulsively but stalked his victims. Rio police said they arrested Sailson on Wednesday December 10, 2014 on suspicion of killing a woman in the suburb of Nova Iquacu. He confessed to that homicide and then told police about the other killings. Sailson described his need to kill as pathological.

     "When I didn't kill, I would get nervous," he told TV Globo. "I would pace around the house, and then when I killed, it calmed me."…The self-declared killer said he had no regrets about his actions and would kill again if set free. "What is done is done," he told the TV reporter. "If I leave prison in 10, 15, 20 years, I'll go back to doing the same thing."

"Brazilian Man Says He Killed Dozens of Women," CNN, December 12, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Man Kills Himself and His Two Children Amid Custody Battle

     A man who was in a custody battle with his ex-wife deliberately crashed his car into a tractor-trailor on a southern California freeway, killing himself and his two children…Alan Dean Edwards, 46, of Lancaster, his 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter all died in the crash on Interstate 5 around one in the morning on Monday December 8, 2014.

     The truck was parked in a brake-check area in Castiac, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles when it was struck from behind by Edward's fast-moving Honda Accord…The driver didn't make any attempts to stop…The front half of the car was crushed and wedged under the truck.

     Edwards and his former wife were in a custody battle and he had picked up the children on Friday December 5, 2014 for a scheduled visit. She filed a missing persons report when they failed to return on Sunday December 7.

"Man in Custody Battle Deliberately Crashes Into Truck, Killing Himself and His Two Children," Associated Press, December 9, 2014 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Two Atlanta Homeless Men Murdered

     Atlanta police are calling the shootings "sinister" because whoever pulled the trigger wasn't expecting to gain monetarily from the homicides. The victims were homeless men, shot to death as they slept. And police aren't convinced that the threat is over. "A lot of our shootings involve robbery. A lot of our shootings involve someone making good on an old debt or some kind of revenge factor," Atlanta police detective David Quinn told reporters on December 10, 2014. "I don't know why someone would shoot two defenseless men."

     The shootings happened over the Thanksgiving week within three days of each other. The killer hasn't struck since, but police are asking the city's homeless to remain vigilant…

     Dorian Jenkins was fatally shot five times as he slept, wrapped in a blanket, on a sidewalk in downtown Atlanta. Less than three days later, Tommy Mims didn't show up as normal at a recycling center where he took cans and other scrap metals to sell. Mims, known locally at "Can Man" was found dead under a bridge where he usually slept. His body, also wrapped in a blanket, was riddled with seven bullets. He was killed less than three miles from Jenkins…

     Detectives believe the killings are related because the rounds used in both shootings are fairly distinctive: .45-caliber bullets that haven't been manufactured since 2010. They were fired from revolvers, either a Taurus "Judge" or a Smith & Wesson "Governor." Since Mims had been shot seven times, the killer had to reload the gun. [Revolvers only hold five or six rounds in the cylinder.]

     The police have no motive or suspects in the murders.

"Atlanta Police Looking For Suspect, Motive in Killings of Homeless Men," CNN, December 11, 2014 

Writing Quote: Illustrating Your Own Children's Book

The most successful children's book authors are author-illustrators who illustrate their own books. Almost invariably, though, these people are primarily artists, their art is stronger than their writing, and all of them have enormous talent and experience as professional illustrators. These are some of the best artists in the nation. They are the people you'll be competing with if you choose to illustrate your own books.

Staton Rabin in The Writer's Handbook, edited by Alfrieda Abbe, 2005 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Stabber in Brooklyn Synagogue Killed by Cop

A man stabbed a person inside a Brooklyn synagogue Tuesday morning December 9, 2014 before he was shot and killed when he lunged at a police officer…The suspect entered the Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters where he stabbed another man sometime after one in the morning. A responding officer ordered the suspect to drop the knife. The stabber lunged at the officer who shot him in the torso. The stabbing victim was treated at a nearby hospital. [According to reports, the armed intruder said he wanted to kill a Jew.]

"Man Stabs Another Inside Brooklyn Synagoge, Then Lunges at Officer," CNN, December 9,  2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Rapper Murders His Wife, Kills Self on FaceTime

     Rapper Earl Hayes murdered his wife Stephanie Moseley early Monday morning December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles. Moseley, a dancer who toured with Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Usher, and Chris Brown, starred in VH 1's dramatic series "Hit the Floor."

     An angry Hayes, a member of Floyd Mayweather's Team Money, talked to the undefeated boxer on FaceTime prior to the murder-suicide. The call continued through the event. The rapper, in the midst of a break-up, accused his wife of infidelity with a famous singer…The welterweight boxing champion attempted to talk his friend down from his rage to no avail.

   A Los Angeles SWAT team discovered the bodies in a high-end Los Angeles apartment. Neighbors reported hearing an argument before hearing the gunfire.

     Hayes once belonged to Mayweather's music label and frequently partied with the boxer…

"Floyd Mayweather Witnesses Murder-Suicide on FaceTime," breitbart.com, December 9, 2014 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Man Leaves Scene of a Minor Accident to Get Away From His Angry Girlfriend

     Police in Vineland, New Jersey say a man told officers he fled the scene of an automobile accident because he "didn't want to deal with his girlfriend yelling at him." They say David Scarpa was having an argument with his girlfriend when he backed into a utility pole in Cumberland County. The caller who reported the hit-and-run on November 29, 2014 said he heard people "yelling" and then heard a bang and saw debris on the ground by the pole.

     Police say the 21-year-old Scarpa then took off and didn't report the accident immediately. He went to police headquarters to turn himself in a day later…A prosecutor charged Scarpa with leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving.

"Man Flees Crash to Avoid Girlfriend," Associated Press, November 30, 2014 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Teen Pimp Arrested For High School Prostitution Ring

     In the summer of 2014, 17-year-old Alexa Nicole De Armas, a Venice High School student in Sarasota, Florida, came up with a scheme to recruit other high school girls to offer sex for money and alcohol. De Armas and an accomplice planned to charge $50 to $70 for oral sex and $100 for intercourse with a virgin. The prostitutes, under the plan, would keep 40 percent of what they earned. De Armas wanted the money for narcotics.

     In a Facebook exchange between De Armas and the accomplice, De Armas wrote: Why pimp out old hoes when I have fresh young hoes I can give up for money? As long as I'm getting paid I'm trafficking all these bitches."

     In August 2014, the high school pimp allegedly arranged for John Michael Mosher, a 21-year-old restaurant dishwasher from Nokomis, Florida, to have paid sex with a 15-year-old girl. The encounter allegedly took place in a community pool shed in a Nokomis park. When the girl told Mosher that she did not want to have sex with him, he allegedly forced himself on her. The John gave De Armas $40 and a bottle of booze for the sexual act.

     In October 2014, four female students at Venice High School reported to school officials that Alexa Nicole De Armas had tried to recruit them as sex workers.

     Vice detectives, on Friday November 21, 2014, arrested De Armas on the felony charge of human trafficking of a person younger than 18. That day police officers also took John Michael Mosher into custody in Nokomis, Florida. Mosher faced the felony charge of sexual battery of a juvenile.

     De Armas and Mosher were placed into the Sarasota County Jail without bond. Police told local reporters that other arrests in this case were forthcoming. 

Kansas Preacher Shoots Man Breaking Into His House

     At eight-forty on Sunday morning November 30, 2014, a minister (not identified in the media) living with his wife and three young children on a rural road near Valley Center, Kansas, was forced to make a life and death decision.

     Alerted to an intrusion by his activated  home burglary alarm, the pastor ran into his kitchen to find a window shattered and a man about to enter the house. The minister, to protect  himself and his family, grabbed his handgun and opened fire.

     The intruder immediately retreated and ran off. Deputies with the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office, in responding to the home burglary call, came upon a man lying on the side of the road not far from the break-in. Officers rushed the bleeding man to the nearest emergency room.

     Police identified the burglar who was shot while breaking into the pastor's house as Cory Landon. Lucky for him, he had been struck by a single bullet that grazed his forehead. After being treated at the hospital and released, deputies booked Landon into the Sedgwick County Jail on the charge of aggravated burglary. (In Kansas and most states, intruding into a dwelling is a more serious offense than breaking into a commercial building.)

     Landon told the arresting officers that he and a few of his friends had been camping out in the area of the break-in.

     Neighbors praised the pastor for his bold anti-intrusion action. Faced with the same situation, they all  said they would have used deadly force. The neighbors did not believe the pastor's decision, given his position in the community, was immoral. He had reacted as a father and a husband, not as a man of the cloth. "That's an armed citizen taking care of business," one of the neighbors told a local report.

     Breaking into an alarmed dwelling in rural Kansas in broad daylight is dangerously stupid. This home intruder was either under the influence of drugs or is profoundly unintelligent. Neither one of these reasons, however, amounts to a legal defense. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Man Pushes McChicken Sandwich Into His Pregnant Wife's Face

     A picky eater in Des Moines, Iowa was jailed on December 2, 2014 for using a McDonald's McChicken sandwich as a weapon against his pregnant wife…Marvin Tramaine Hill II, 21, admitted to police that he threw the sandwich at his wife "because he doesn't like them." Hill was arrested for simple domestic assault and taken to the Polk County Jail.

     Des Moines police met with Hill at the couple's home where Hill told them it was actually his wife who assaulted him. Hill said his wife woke him up around one in the afternoon with a McChicken in her hand. He admitted that he became upset and threw the sandwich at her, then picked up some of the bun and threw it at her.

     The woman went to the bathroom to clean herself up but Hill followed and began recording her using his cellphone, which he later shared with the police. In the video, police saw the woman knock the phone out of his hand.

     Hill's wife had mayonnaise on her shirt and face when officers spoke to her. According to the woman, Hill had forcefully smashed the bun into her face. Police noted that the woman's nose was swollen and believed Hill was trying to entice the woman into knocking the phone out of his hand to make her appear aggressive.

"Man Assaulted Wife With McChicken Sandwich, The Des Moine Register, December 3, 2014 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Police-Involved Shootings are Up, Violent Crime Rated are Down

     The number of people killed by the police has increased by a third in recent years, even as violent crime has trended downward and the number of officers assaulted or killed in the line of duty has dropped…

     When adjusted for population, the data shows black people were twice as likely to be killed by police than whites. Blacks are also disproportionately more likely to come in contact with police as suspects in violent crime…

     In 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 386 whites and 140 blacks were killed by police, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on causes of death. [According to data I collected in 2011, the police killed 607 people that year.]…The number of people killed by the police has steadily climbed from 381 in 2008 to 546 in 2012…

     Twenty-seven officers were killed in the line of duty in 2013, and 49,851 were the victims of assault, according to FBI statistics…The FBI data show that the number of deaths and assaults have declined in recent years. In 2011, 72 officers were killed in the line of duty and in 2008, 61,087 were assaulted.

     Of the subjects in the 27 officer deaths in 2013, 15 were white and 11 were black, according to the FBI report. Of the officers killed, 25 were white and two were black.

"Killings by Police Increase as Crime Declines," Dayton Daily News, November 29, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Carjacker Runs Over, Kills Victim

     Police say a Long Island, New York man picking up food for a soup kitchen was run over by his own vehicle while trying to stop a carjacker from stealing it. Suffolk County police said 69-year-old Dionel Ramirez parked his car at a 7-Eleven in North Bay Shore early Friday November 28, 2014…He intended to run in quickly, which is why he left the car door open and the motor running.

     According to the police, the car thief started to drive off with the vehicle while Ramirez was in the store. Ramirez tried to stop the thief and the man ran over him. The victim, of North Amityville, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The car was later recovered, but no arrest has been made.

"Carjacker Kills Soup Kitchen Volunteer," Associated Press, November 29, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Juveniles Murder Motorist on Street With Hammers

     Two juveniles are in custody Sunday November 30, 2014 in the death of a man beaten with hammers on a St. Louis Street. The victim, 32-year-old Zemir Begic, suffered injuries to his head, abdomen, face, and mouth…He was unconscious by the time officers arrived on the scene. Begic was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead…

     Investigation revealed that the victim was traveling in his vehicle when several juveniles approached his vehicle on foot and began damaging it. The victim exited his car and the juveniles began yelling at him and striking him with hammers. After the assault the juveniles fled the scene on foot…Two suspects were later taken into custody. A motive for the murder was not immediately clear.

"Man Beaten to Death With Hammers in St. Louis," CNN, December 1, 2014 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Something's Not Kosher on Connecticut's Death Row

     A federal judge in Connecticut has rejected the arguments of a home invasion killer on death row who complained that the food he is being served in prison is not kosher. Steven Hayes, convicted of killing a mother and two daughters, sued the Department of Correction in August 2014, alleging the preparation practices for kosher meals in the kitchen at the state's highest-security prison do not conform to Jewish dietary laws.

     Hayes describes himself in the lawsuit as an Orthodox Jew and says he's been requesting a kosher diet since May 2013. He says he has suffered "almost two years of emotional injury from having to choose between following God and starving or choosing to survive. [What life and death choice did this cold-blooded killer give his three victims?]…

     The judge noted that Hayes is offered kosher meals, and the state Department of Correction has two rabbis who periodically monitor the preparation of kosher foods in the prison system. The judge said both rabbis certified that the food and the food preparation process comply with dietary laws. "Although Hayes raises as an issue regarding the lack of a reliable orthodox certificate or an onsite Jewish overseer, he provides no evidence suggesting that this leads to a finding that the meals are not kosher," the judge wrote….

"Death Row Inmate's Prison Food Complaint Rejected," ABC News, November 28, 2014

     

Friday, November 28, 2014

Writing Quote: The Secret of Being Funny in Print

What is the secret of writing funny? If I knew, I would write my own ticket. But I venture this thought: The art begins with a sense of sadness. This is the clown's gift.

James J. Kilpatrick, The Writer's Art, 1994 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New Orleans Detectives Ignore Rape and Child Abuse Cases

     A New Orleans' city inspector general's report claims that five police detectives failed to do substantial investigation of more than 1,000 cases of sex crimes and child abuse--with one detective being cited for stating a belief that rape should not be considered a crime. The report, released on November 12, 2014, examined the detectives' work between January 2011 and December 2013. It found the detectives filed follow-up reports [the first report after the complaint] for only 179 of 1,290 sex crime cases. In particular, the report found that some cases of potentially abused children and rape victims went completely without investigation.

     Police officials said the detectives were transferred to patrol duty and were under further investigation. The police also said two supervisors who oversaw the detectives have been transferred…

     The U.S. Department of Justice previously investigated the scandal-plagued police force and in 2012 the city agreed to a host of changes in policies. Among the federal probe's major findings were that the police force was rife with corruption and had numerous instances of excessive use of deadly force, discrimination and problems with its sex crimes unit. A federal monitor is overseeing compliance.

     The latest city report charged that a detective handling child abuse failed to investigate a case involving a 3-year-old brought to an emergency room due to an alleged sexual assault, closing the case without any charges even though the child had a sexually transmitted disease. The same detective closed with book with minimal or no investigation, and again with no charges, on two cases involving children brought to the emergency room with fractured skulls…

     Two detectives stood accused of writing six reports on the same day in 2013--to make it appear they had done follow-up reports years before to the old cases…In fact, these documents were written only after inspectors asked for the missing reports…

     The five detectives could face criminal charges and be fired…

"Report Claims Five New Orleans Cops Failed to Properly Investigate Over 1,000 Sex Crimes, Associated Press, November 13, 2014

     

Short Story Writers Can Take Chances That Novelists Can't

Short stories are gratifying and fun and not the kind of heavy lifting involved with a novel. I used to frequently write them in one sitting. Now it's usually several days. Whatever it is, it's a cheap investment in time. Plus, you can take the amount of chances you can't with a novel because if you waste three days, what do you care?

Lawrence Block, Writing the Novel, 1985 

Writing Quote: The Similarities Between Fiction and Creative Nonfiction

Nonfiction has many of the same requirements as fiction: opening hooks baited to entice readers; personalities and settings developed appropriately; background material presented without dumping; and consistent internal logic. In fact, nonfiction's familiar traits--who, what, where, when, why, and how--translate easily into character, setting, motivation, and problem-solving action.

Carol Ottolenghi-Barga, sfwa.org, 2001 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Writing Quote: Famous Short Story Writers

It is sometimes fashionable to dismiss the short story and to attribute its apparent decline to the greater versatility of the novel and to the rise of nonfiction. But the trouble does not lie with the form but with the practitioners. A really good short story writer will always find an audience. J.D. Salinger, John Cheever and John Updike have been remarkably successful, and the reason is that they are all masters of the form. They all have a good ear and eye for detail.

Frank McShane, The Life of John O'Hara, 1980 

Writing Quote: Early Success Can Be Bad

When you have a first novel [Fear of Flying] that sells 6 million copies, anything you do after it has to be a disappointment. You set a standard that you cannot compete with, and the pressure it puts on you is almost unreal.

Erica Jong in On Being a Writer, Bill Strickland, editor, 1989 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Writing Quote: Introducing Humor Into Your Writing

Humor can either be a genre in its own right, or an important ingredient in many other genres. Shakespeare wrote comedies, tragedies, and romances. Even in the most tragic of his tales, he knew the importance of inserting a humorous scene every so often to bring the audience some comic relief from all the death, deceit, and unrequited love in the rest of the play. While joke writing is a subsection of the genre, and a potentially lucrative one, it would be a mistake to confuse the ability to tell a joke with the ability to write humor.

Gordon Kirkland in Novel & Short Story Writer's Market, edited by Anne Bowling and Vanessa Lyman, 2002 

15-Monrh-Old Boy Dies in Hot Car, Father Charged

     A Connecticut man was charged on November 11, 2014 with the death of his 15-month-old son, who died this summer after he was left in a hot car for hours…Kyle Steitz, 36, turned himself in to police and was charged with criminally negligent homicide over his son Benjamin's death…The authorities released Seitz on his promise to appear in court the next day…

     Benjamin Seitz died of "hyperthermia due to environmental exposure" on July 7, 2014 after being left alone in a hot car by his father. The state medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. The temperature in the car reached 88 degrees that day, according to a report issued by Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Connecticut.

     Seitz was supposed to take his son to day care that morning but instead he drove to his job at a technology company and accidentally left the boy in the car until realizing he had forgotten about him….

"Connecticut Man Charged in Death of Boy Left in Hot Car," wtaqnews.com, November 12, 2014 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Graduating Magna Cum Debt

     The average amount of student debt per borrower in 2013, according to a study released on November 13, 2014 by the Institute for College Access and Success's Project on Student Debt, is $28,400…Matthew Reed, who directed the study, said the report aims to analyze increasing student debt averages for graduates with a bachelor's degree at a time when the cost of higher education is rising…

     "Debt varies from state to state and college-to-college so where you go to school can make a difference," Reed said. "It's something that prospective students should take a look at…Federal student loans come with protections such as fixed interest rates for the life of the loan, income based repayment programs, and public service loan forgiveness," Reed said. "These are not always available for private loans. Private loans are not a form of financial aid. They often have variable rates, and they do not have customer protections."…

     Kevin Long, a professor of economics at Boston University, said the rising averages of student debt is related to a combination of both poor labor market forces and increasing tuition costs….

"Recent Graduates Average $28,400 in Student Debt," The Detroit Free Press, November 17, 2014 

Writing Quote: Dealing With Criticism

     Criticism is the only antidote that human beings have discovered against error. It is the chief method that a skilled person can use to become even better. The key to discovering correctable errors before you commit a work to press.

     But criticism hurts. A deep and pervasive flaw in human character makes all of us resistant to the one thing that can help us do better. The only solution? Learn to grow up. To hold your head high, develop a thick skin, and take it.

     If a reader didn't like your work, that may be a matter of taste. But if she did not understand the work--or was bored--that's your fault as a writer, pure and simple.

David Brin in How I Got Published, edited by Ray White and Duane Lindsay, 2007 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Writing Quote: Category Romance Novels

Category romances are marketed monthly under imprints readers have learned to associate with romance. Each book bearing the same imprint carries a distinctive cover design its readers recognize. To reduce costs, all books in the line have a fixed page length. Once printed, they are marketed in a block. Single-title romance novels are not part of a category line, their page length is not fixed, and each is sold on an individual basis.

Vanessa Grant, Writing Romance, 2001 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Police Officer Kills Woman Who in a Struggle Took His Taser

     A Citrus County, Florida deputy is on administrative leave after he fatally shot a woman who pointed a Taser at him during a disturbance call in Inverness late Sunday night November 16, 2014…The sheriff's deputy shot 46-year-old Dawn Renee Cameron following a struggle after receiving a call in Inverness. A witness told deputies that Cameron attempted to light a truck on fire then left the scene.

     Once the deputy encountered Cameron at the entrance to a park, she attacked him, removing his Taser that she then pointed at the officer. That's when the deputry shot her. Cameron was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after midnight…

     Jail records show that Cameron was arrested in June 2014 on a parole violation related to a previous grand theft case. Authorities have launched an investigation into the police-involved shooting.

"Citrus Deputy Fatally Shoots Woman Who Pointed Taser," tbo.com, November 17, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Elements of a Great Biography

In general, a biography has to have a theme, and its subject has to fit into the context of the times the subject lived in. More than that, the subject of a biography should also be a symbol of some sort or the spirit of his or her age. The book should bring out some thematic element of that culture. Broadly, a good biography is one that illuminates and shows the times as much as the person.

Peter Rubie, Telling the Story, 2003

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Two Americans Accused of Stealing Infant Body Parts From Bangkok Medical Museum

     On Saturday November 15, 2014, workers at a DHL office in Thailand's Pathum Thani province noticed something gruesome while scanning packages destined for the U.S. The discovery caused a DHL manager to notify the Royal Thai Police.

     Inside five plastic boxes officers discovered an infant's head, a baby's left foot sliced into three pieces, an adult heart, and patches of human skin.

     Thai investigators questioned Ryan Edward McPherson and Daniel Jamon Tanner, the Americans who had tried to ship the body parts out of the country. The men claimed to have purchased the body parts at a flea market for $100. The idea was, they said, to shock their friends back home.

     Notwithstanding the fact McPherson and Tanner could not remember the location of the flea market, the Thai authorities, unsure if these men had broken any laws, released them without criminal charges. The men said they were headed to Cambodia.

     On Monday November 17, 2014, Thai detectives determined that the infant body parts had been stolen from the Siriraj Medical Museum within Bangkok's Sirira Hospital. The items had been taken from the forensic medicine section of the museum.

     Closed-circuit camera footage from the hospital showed that McPherson and Tanner had visited the institution on the day the body parts went missing. A Thai judge, that Monday, approved arrest warrants for the two Americans on charges of theft from a government hospital. If convicted as charged, McPherson and Tanner could be locked up abroad for up to seven years.

     In Thailand, infant body parts are purchased on the black market by people who believe they possess the power of black magic. Believers make these macabre acquisitions for protection, good luck, and success in business. In this case, the stolen body parts brought McPherson and Tanner no protection and plenty of bad luck. 

Whackademia Quote: In Class, Speak Softly and Carry a Big Knife

     A middle school math teacher in New Mexico waved a large knife at two students who were talking too much during a pop quiz. The incident happened on Friday November 14, 2014 at Bernalillo Middle School in Bernalillo, a small suburb 20 miles north of Albuquerque…The teacher, Benjamin Nagurski, had the knife out in the classroom to dig out staples from a bulletin board. He approached the two students who were chatting during the pop quiz.

     "Stop talking," Nagurski, 63 said while holding the knife about four feet from the students. "Maybe next time I'll pull a machete on you," the teacher later told one of the boys... The students sent a text message to his parents after the incident.

     Nagurski insisted that he had made the machete comment in jest…

     In the complaint filed with local police, one of the students said he felt "unsafe" and "scared." The school district superintendent assured parents that the children were never in harms way…

     Police officers booked Nagurski into jail on charges of unlawfully carrying a deadly weapon on school premises and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The teacher posted his $10,000 bond and was released. He was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.

"Math Teacher Pulls Knife on Students," The Daily Caller, November 18, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Charles Manson: Idiots Should Not Be Allowed to Marry Death Row Psychopaths

     Mass murderer Charles Manson plans to marry a 26-year-old woman who left her midwestern home and spent the past nine years trying to help exonerate him. Afton Elaine Burton, the raven-haired bride-to-be, said she loves the man convicted in the notorious murders of seven people, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate.

     No date has been set, but a wedding coordinator has been assigned by the prison to handle the nuptials, and the couple has until early February to get married before they would have to reapply…Burton, who goes by the name "Star," told the Associated Press that she and Manson will be married next month. "Y'all can know that it's true," she said. "It's going to happen. I love him," she added. "I'm with him. There's all kinds of things."

     However, as a life prisoner with no parole date, Manson is not entitled to family visits, an euphemism for conjugal visits.

     Sharon Tate's sister, Debra, who acts as a spokesperson for the families of Manson's victims, said the impending marriage is "ludicrous."

"Manson Gets Marriage License," Associated Press, November 18, 2014 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction in the 1950s

No science fiction novel in the fifties sold more than one hundred thousand copies. Science fiction itself was regarded with lack of interest or contempt outside of the genre walls. Its very audience was an unorganized constituency, much like audiences for contemporary men's magazines. They might like it, buy it, need it, but they were not in the main evangelical and those who were, simply increased the popular perception of science fiction as a strange field, incestuous and defensive. The genre made no impression up the academic/literary nexus which controls critical perception and audiences in this country.

Barry N. Malzberg, The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady, 1980 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: NYC Man Pushed to Death at Subway Station

     The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says a man killed by an oncoming train at a Bronx subway station had been pushed onto the tracks. A MTA spokesperson said it happened around 8:40 AM on Sunday November 16, 2014...

     The 61-year-old man was hit by a southbound D train at the Grand Concourse and East 167th Street station. The police are looking for a suspect…

     The victim is Wai Kuen Kwork of the Bronx. There have been three other incidents in recent years that involved a person being pushed onto the tracks.

"Man Hit by NYC Subway Train Was Pushed," Associated Press, November 17, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Illegal Alien Suspected in Hit-And-Run Murder of Girl

     An illegal immigrant driving drunk and without a license crashed through a fence Sunday November 9, 2014 hitting and killing a 3-year-old girl as she was waiting in line for ice cream in Porterville, California. Adolf Balbuena, 18, mowed down the toddler, Angeles Moreno, as she and several others, including an 8-year-old boy, were waiting for an ice cream truck. After hitting Moreno, Balbuena backed up and drove away. He was arrested at his home around an hour later…

     Balbuena…is an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Though the local district attorney is handling the case, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will ultimately decide whether he will be tried in the U.S. or deported back to Mexico….

Chuck Ross, "Illegal Immigrant Drunk Driver Hits and Kills 3-Year-Old Waiting for Ice Cream," The Daily Caller, November 11, 2014 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Writing Quote: Where Do Humorous Ideas Come From?

It is not hard to write funny stuff. All you have to do is procure a pen and paper, and some ink, and then sit down and write it as it occurs to you. The writing is not hard, but the occurring--that, my friend, is the difficulty.

Stephen Leacock in Becoming a Writer edited by Dorthea Brande, 1934 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Manhattan Diamond Heist

     The search in New York City continues for two men who robbed a Manhattan jewelry store at gunpoint on November 11, 2014…The two men robbed the store in the middle of the afternoon. Police responded to the scene in force, sweeping the building looking for suspects…"All of a sudden we saw the SWAT team and all the cops outside the building," one witness said. Diamond district workers and shoppers say they got the scare of their lives…

     Investigators say just before 2:30 PM, two men posing as deliverymen buzzed for entrance into the Watch Standard Jewel Store saying they had some letters…"Suspect number one pulled out a firearm and demanded that the store empty out the safe and place the jewelry inside a bag," Deputy Chief William Aubrey said...

     The four employees inside the eighth floor wholesale and retail store complied but yelled for the owner to call 911. The first suspect then whipped the 56-year-old owner, leaving him with a minor injury while the second suspect waited in the hall…

     The first suspect had a black shoulder bag with a letter K in a blue circle. The second suspect was wearing black True Religion jeans. Police haven't revealed how much jewelry the robbers walked off with.

"Police Investigate Armed Heist in Diamond District," NY1.com, November 12, 2014 

Writing Quote: Fiction Should Not Primarily Be About Ideas

Ideas are not the best subject matter for fiction. They do not dramatize well. They are, rather, a by-product, something the reader himself is led to formulate after watching the story unfold. The ideas ought to be implicit in the selection and arrangement of the people and places and actions. They ought to haunt a piece of fiction as a ghost flits past an attic window after dark.

Wallace Stegner, On Teaching and Writing Fiction, 2002 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Trooper and His Dog Find Missing Girl in Woods

     A 2-year-old girl was found Thursday November 6, 2014 in the woods wrapped in a blanket. She had wandered away from her home 22 hours earlier. Brooklyn Lynn Lilly wandered off while playing outside her Tawas City, Michigan home in the eastern part of the state near Lake Huron. Her neighbors and family had feared the worst. "We worried that maybe somebody came and grabbed her, family friend Patrick McDonald said…

     State Trooper Denis McGuckin and his dog Jax found Brooklyn…"She lifted her head up off the ground and looked back toward me and my dog and smiled," McGuckin said. "She said, 'I love the woods.' "

"Toddler Who Spent 22 Hours Alone in the Woods Found Safe," ABC News, November 7, 2014



Miguel Mejia-Ramos Sentenced for Tripple Murder

     Miguel Mejia Ramos, a 45-year-old New York City man, has been sentenced to 45 years in prison for fatally stabbing his sleeping wife in a rage triggered by jealousy and then killing their two toddlers. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown says Mejia-Ramos was sentenced Friday November 7, 2014. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter last month for the January 2014 killings. [Why did they let him plead to such a lesser offense? In places like Texas, killing three people will get you the death sentence.]

     Majia-Ramos told police officers he snapped after drinking and finding a photo on his wife's phone of her with another man. [Okay, but how does this explain the killing of the children?] He grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed 21-year-old Daisy Garcia and their daughters ages one and two. Police arrested him near Schulenburg, Texas. He was trying to flee to Mexico.

"NYC Man Gets 45 Years For Stabbing His Wife and 2 Toddlers to Death," Associated Press, November 7, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Vinita Hegwood: Teacher in Trouble for Profane, Racially Charged Tweets

     A Duncanville, Texas teacher has been "suspended without pay pending discharge" after accusations that she sent racially charged tweets about the incidents in Ferguson, Missouri…Vinita Hegwood, a high school English teacher at Duncanville High School near Dallas, allegedly sent the tweets from her personal Twitter account on November 7, 2014. "Who (expletive) made you dumb (expletive) crackers think I give a squat (expletive) about your opinions? #Ferguson kill yourselves," read one of the messages.

     Later that evening another Hegwood tweet appeared, saying: "You exhibit nigga behavior, I'm a call you a nigga. You acting crackerish, I'm a call you a cracker." Hegwood is African-American…

     It's not clear exactly to what or whom the teacher was referring, but the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, have often hinged on race…A grand jury is expected to decide soon whether Officer Darren Wilson will face charges.

     Hegwood is in her second year at Duncanville High School, where she maintained a website for her students…The Twitter account from which she allegedly made the comments has since been taken down…

     Lari Barager, Duncanville Independent School District spokesperson, called the messages "offensive" and "reprehensible" and stressed the tweets do not represent the 240 other teachers at Duncanville High School…

     The board of trustees for the school district will decide Hegwood's fate at its next meeting. 

"Texas Teacher Suspended After Racist Ferguson Tweet," CNN, November 11, 2014 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Writing Quote: Writing a Short Story is a Sprint not a Marathon

The short story form is like a hundred-yard dash, compared to a cross-country race. There's no time for pacing, strategy, getting a second wind. In a short flash you go flat out, and that's all.

Ben Bova, Notes to a Science Fiction Writer, 1975 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Writing Quote: Short Story Character Development

The novelist can slowly unfold the changing lives of several characters, but the short story writer has difficulty enough in making credible the change in a single character. Any intelligent reader has a very reasonable skepticism about sudden spiritual or moral change; the author most prove to the reader that this character was well on the way toward the change before it actually takes place. Doing this takes up much of an author's story.

Jarvis A. Thurston, Reading Modern Short Stories, 1955

Criminal Justice Quote: AC/DC Drummer Accused of Murder Solicitation

     Phil Rudd, the drummer for the legendary hard rock band AC/DC, has been charged with attempting to have two men killed. The 60-year-old appeared in a New Zealand court Thursday November 6, 2014 facing a count of attempting to procure the murders…He was also charged with threatening to kill, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of cannabis…

     Rudd entered a no plea to the charges at the Tauranga District Court, and was bailed out until November 27, 2014…The Australian-born drummer moved to New Zealand in 1983 after being sacked by the group. He rejoined the group years later…[On November 7, 2014, the New Zealand prosecutor dropped the murder-for-hire charge against Rudd.]

"AC/DC Drummer Phil Rudd Charged with Attempting to Have Two Men Murdered," CNN, November 6, 2014 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Federal Money Wasted on For-Profit Schools

     A trade group which represents some 1,400 for-profit colleges and universities sued in federal court on November 6, 2014 to force the U.S. Department of Education to rescind regulations designed to prevent the schools from taking billions in federal aid if they stick students with thousands of dollars in loan debt in return for unmarketable, dead-end degrees.

     Mainly at issue is a federal regulation called the "gainful employment rule." The rule compares graduate job earnings to their debt payments…Schools run afoul of the regulation if graduates can't get jobs which pay enough so that loan payments don't exceed 8 percent of their total annual earnings or 20 percent of their discretionary income.

     Schools that fail to meet these income-to-loan levels risk losing access to taxpayer-subsidized student loans and taxpayer-funded grants…

     For-profit schools rely heavily on federal cash and their chief executive officers bring home obscenely high salaries. For example, the CEO and president of Devry Education Group, Daniel Hamburger, made $5,680,939 in 2013. Edward H. West, president and CEO of Education Management Corporation, made $6,025,304 in 2013. Scott W. Steffy, president and CEO of Career Education Corporation, made $4,837,992 that year…

     Career Education Corporation, reached a $10 million settlement agreement in 2013 with the New York attorney general over charges of gross deception. The…company admitted that only 24 percent to 64 percent of graduates were able to find meaningful jobs. The company had touted an inflated rate of 55 percent to 80 percent…

     For-profit schools in the United States currently enroll about 2 million student.

Eric Owens, "For-Profit College Sue To Keep Billions In Federal Aid Flowing Despite Awful Student Outcomes," The Daily Caller, November 7, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Stealing From The Dead

     A 26-year-old Brockton, Massachusetts man turned himself in Friday night November 7, 2014 after Boston Transit Police released his surveillance photo as the suspect they believe stole the cellphone off a woman struck and killed by a Red Line train the day before…He is to be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court…
   
     The well-dressed young man still possessed the dead woman's phone and turned it in. The Transit Police had released the surveillance video that showed the suspect walking toward the phone, which had a distinct orange case. He covered it with his foot, then picked it up.

     The woman was struck and killed at 9:48 PM Thursday November 6, 2014 at the Downtown Crossing Station.

"Man Wanted in Theft of Woman's Phone Turns Himself In," The Boston Globe, November 8, 2014

     

Writing Quotes: The Use of Flashbacks in a Novel

     Flashbacks are not designed for the writer's amusement, but rather the reader's education. If your flashback is not going to elucidate, illuminate, or provide context, then you probably don't need it.

     It is also advisable not to use a flashback in a novel-length manuscript when you only have one or two flashbacks to insert. You're better off setting up a pattern of at least half a dozen flashbacks at fairly regular intervals, rather than taking one or two lonely excursions into the past. If there are only two flashbacks, the reader will be jarred by the digressions and they will stand out as an abnormality.

Jessica Page Morrell, Between the Lines, 2006

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Writing Quote: The One-Book Novelist

Some of the American writers are said--particularly by European and British critics--to be one-book writers. They produce one good novel and never again produce anything to equal it, apparently because their first book was so heavily autobiographical.

Mary McCarthy in Conversations with Mary McCarthy, Carol Gilderman, editor, 1991 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Bottle Bomb Injures School Bus Driver

     On November 3, 2014, classes at Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Richmond, Washington were canceled after a two-liter bottle exploded in the parking lot, injuring a bus driver…The explosion happened at eight in the morning. No students were on campus at the time of the incident.

     Police Sergeant D. B. Gates said the bottle was filled with a volatile substance and exploded as the bus driver walked past it. The driver was hit by something that came out of the bottle. There is also a second adult who may have been exposed to fumes. Both were taken to a nearby hospital.

     Nothing was found when the King County Police Bomb Squad swept the school. As a precaution, a nearby school was closed and another placed in a modified lockdown.

"Explosion in Washington Elementary School Parking Lot," Fox News, November 3, 2014 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Going to Jail For Feeding the Homeless in Public

     On Sunday November 2, 2014, 90-year-old Arnold Abbott and two pastors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were charged with feeding the homeless in public. This was the city's first crackdown of its new ordinance banning public food sharing…According to Mr. Abbott, "an officer said, 'drop that plate now,' like I had a weapon."

     Despite some criticism from homeless advocates, city officers have vowed that the new law will be enforced. "Just because of media attention we don't stop enforcing the law. We enforce the laws here in Fort Lauderdale," Major Jack Seller said. "I'm not satisfied with having a cycle of homeless in the city of Fort Lauderdale. Providing them with a meal and keeping them in that cycle on the street is not productive."

     But Abbott, who has been helping feed homeless people in the area through his Love Thy Neighbor nonprofit since 1991, said the authorities are targeting the city's most vulnerable residents. "These are the poorest of the poor. They have nothing. They don't have a roof over their head," he said. "Who can turn them away?"…Abbott said the threat of jail won't stop him from doing it again.

"90-Year-old Florida Man Charged for Feeding Homeless People," CNN, November 4, 2014

Whackademia Quote: High School Student Writes About Committing Mass Murder

     A Radnor, Pennsylvania high school senior who had a "fascination" with the Columbine High School massacre of 15 years ago wrote about shooting "everyone in classrooms" and blowing up the cafeteria. "I would be the first female shooter," the student…wrote in her journal…"I'm homicidal and I'm fine with that."…

     The student made references to killing a teacher, killing fellow students in a certain manner, and also injuring herself…"I want to trap them, pick them off one by one," the girl wrote. "Blow up the cafeteria, shoot everyone in the classrooms…Imagine the power, the bullets leaving the gun with a loud bang, piercing kids around me, the way they collapse, their blood splattering the floor--the screams."

     The student, who will be charged on November 3, 2014 as a juvenile with making terroristic threats, has a history of treatment for "psychological issues." [If this girl ever gets straightened out, she should consider a career as a true crime writer.]

"Radnor Police: Girl Threatened School Shooting," Philadelphia Inquirer, November 4, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Autobiographical First Novel

Highly autobiographical first novels are out of fashion. Budding writers are expected to cast their eyes away from themselves. And yet in our culture of instant gratification and celebrity, a writer's reputation can depend almost exclusively on the critical reception of a first novel. The problem is twofold: we expect first novels to be works of non-autobiographical genius well before a writer has time to mature.

Rosalind Porter, findarticles.com, 2005 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: English Teen Sentenced for Murdering Teacher

     A 16-year-old boy has been imprisoned for life after being convicted of murdering a teacher in Leeds, England. Ann Maguire, 61, was attacked at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds in April 2014.  She had worked at the school for more than 40 years and had been due to retire.

     Speaking outside Leeds Crown Court, Chief Superintendent Paul Money described Mrs. Maguire's murder as a "cold-blooded, brutal and cowardly act." He said the boy's motive appeared to be an "inexplicable hatred of this teacher who was simply carrying out her duty."

"Ann Maguire Murder: Killing 'Brutal and Cowardly'," BBC News, November 3, 2014 

Writing Quote: Novels Are Imperfect

I like the Randall Jarrell line: "A novel is a prose narration of some length that has something wrong with it." I think that's true. If you're going to write a hundred, a hundred and fifty, two hundred thousand words, perfection is a fantasy.

Salman Rushdie, The Paris Review, 2005 

Writing Quote: The Novelist as Embittered Loser

The novelist has a grudge against society, which he documents with accounts of unsatisfying sex, unrealized ambition, unmitigated loneliness, and a sense of local and global distress. The square, overpopulation, the bourgeois, the bomb, and the cocktail party are variously identified as sources of the grudge. [Today it would be global warming, consumerism, terrorism, and flag-waving yahoos.] There follows a little obscenity here, a dash of philosophy there, considerable whining overall, and the modern novel is born.

Renata Adler, Toward a Radical Middle, 1969 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Former Mob Boss Back in Prison For Violating Parole

     A reputed former mob boss was ordered back to prison Friday October 24, 2014 for violating parole, and his lawyer complained that the FBI would pursue his client "to the grave." Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, the reputed head of Philadelphia's La Cosa Nostra in the 1990s, must serve four additional months for failing to report a meeting with a former co-defendant at a Boca Raton, Florida cigar bar. "I never had dinner with Johnny Ciancaglini. I bumped into him," said Marlino on a return trip to Philadelphia. "I didn't report it…It just slipped my mind."

     Merlino, 52, has been living in south Florida since 2011, when he left prison after more than a decade from a Philadelphia racketeering conviction. His lawyer maintains that Merlino plans to work as a maitre d' at a new Boca Raton restaurant that will bear his name…

     The FBI has been tailing Merlino as part of a new, unspecified criminal probe, according to testimony from organized crime task force members. On the night of the cigar bar meeting in June 2014, five officers in five cars were on the surveillance detail. The FBI task force members, who feared they stood out among regulars as they sipped pricey drinks, said they observed Merlino talking with Ciancaglini and other felons in a glass-enclosed VIP section of a spot called Havana Nights.

     "It's very obvious what is going on. This is a night on the town with his mob buddies," said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer…Defense lawyer Edwin Jacobs Jr insists the contact was random and amounted to nothing more than "a couple minutes of chit chat."…

     Although Merlino appears to be enjoying an enviable lifestyle, he reported having almost no income.

"Ex-Mob Boss Gets 4 Months For Meeting Friend," Associated Press, October 24, 2014  

Writing Quote: Avoid Plot Digressions

Every scene in your novel must pertain to your plot. Every single one. Even if a character muses or meanders, that activity must be plot-related. A character under suspicion of murder may drift off into thought, but those thoughts had better be about why he's been wrongfully accused, how he's going to prove his innocence, or who the true murderer is, not random memories of whale-watching or hiking.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld, Make a Scene, 2008 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Writing Quote: A Writer's Despair

I want to write and I never never will…Whatever I'm doing, it's always there saying, "Write this--write that--write--" and I can't. Lack ability, time, strength, and duration of vision. I wish someone would tell me brutally, "You can never write anything. Take up home gardening!"

Anne Morrow Lindbergh in The Writer's Life, Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks, editors, 1997 

Criminal Justice Quote: Hit and Run Driver Kills Three Girls

     Three teenage girls trick-or-treating in Halloween costumes were killed on October 31, 2014 by a hit-and-run driver at a crosswalk near an elementary school in Santa Ana, California. There were hit by a Nissan Pathfinder at 6:45 PM. Two men were in the SUV.

     The girls ranged in ages from 13 to 15. Two of them were killed immediately while the third victim died on the way to the hospital. The vehicle involved was found abandoned not far from the scene. [The Nissan was probably stolen.] Santa Ana is located near Anaheim about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

"Three Trick-or-Treaters in Santa Ana Killed by Driver," NBC News, October 31, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Aerial War on Pot

     Georgia police raided a retired Atlanta man's garden on October 1, 2014 after a helicopter crew with the Governor's Task Force for Drug Suppression spotted suspicious-looking plants on the man's property. A heavily-armed K9 unit arrived and discovered that the plants were, in fact, okra bushes.

     The officers eventually apologized and left, but they took some of the suspicious okra leaves with them for analysis. A Georgia State Patrol spokesperson told reporters that, "We've not been able to identify the plants as yet. But they did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant." Indeed, like cannabis, okra is green and has leaves.

     Okra busts like these are good reasons for taxpayers to be skeptical about the wisdom of sending drug cops up in helicopters to fly around aimlessly, looking for drugs in suburban gardens. [It's a lot easier than wearing out shoe leather working on difficult criminal cases.] And that's not to mention the issue of whether we want a society where heavily-armed cops can burst onto your property, with no grounds for suspicion beyond what somebody thought he saw from several hundred yards up in a helicopter.

     Marijuana eradication programs, like the one that sent the helicopter up above the Georgia man's house, are typically funded partly via the Drug Enforcement Agency's Cannabis Eradication Program. Many of these funds come from the controversial asset forfeiture programs that allow law enforcement officials to seize property from citizens never even charged--much less convicted--of a crime.

     The Cannabis Eradication programs have historically inflated the size of their hauls by including non-psychoactive "ditchweed" in their totals of plants seized. In past years, ditchweed accounted for up to 98 percent of outdoor plant totals….

Christopher Ingraham, "Heavily Armed Drug Cops Raid Retiree's Garden, Seize Okra Plants," The Washington Post, October 6, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Importance of Setting

Settings are as varied in fiction as they are in the world: A humid southern bayou; icy Norwegian fords; a crumbling Victorian mansion; a stable, pungent with the stench of animals. These are just a few of the infinite number of places in which you might set your characters. Though they may seem like merely the backdrop to the action and drama of your narrative, they are more like the rich soil in which you plant your seeds. Do not forget to set the scene. Unless you have a good  reason to set your novel or story in a vacuum, establishing a physical setting is one of the most important and literal ways to ground the reader and keep characters from being floating heads.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld, Make a Scene, 2008 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Should Teachers Be Trained in Hand-To-Hand Combat?

     The altercation that took place in early October 2014 at Carver Vocational-Technical High School in Baltimore, Maryland was caught on camera…The video shows a female teacher who appears to charge a female student, then throws the girl against lockers and pulls her hair. A male student attempts to intervene and break up the fight.

     But another part of the video shows what happened before the teacher lashed out at the student. In the classroom, the teacher appears to order the girl to stop using her phone while the class is taking a test. The student is seen shoving a chair toward the teacher and appears to throw something at her. The student slams an object down on the teacher's desk and rushes out of the room.

     When the teacher confronts the girl in the hallway, the student throws a book at the teacher, prompting the teacher's physical response.

     While at least one parent believes the teacher was in the wrong and should have acted more professionally, a student at the school said the teacher's actions were justified because they were in self-defense. According to a press release from the school, the teacher was treated for injuries and placed on administrative leave while an investigation is concluded. The student has been charged with assault. [I presume this student has been suspended from the school.]

"Fight Between Teacher and Student Caught on Camera," Cox Media Group, October 16, 2014 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Writing Quote: Story Endings for Middle-Grade Readers

     When writing for nine-to twelve-year-olds, the endings don't have to be happy. But they do have to be satisfying in some fundamental way. In younger books, stories deal primarily with situations and feelings the child might encounter. In middle-grade stories the endings grow out of the characters, their internal changes, and their ability to understand and cope with the world around them. As a consequence, the endings of these books are more complex.

     For instance, sometimes life doesn't turn out the way the hero wants it to. Yet she does get some of what she needs--an understanding of how the world works, perhaps, or a new-found ability to cope with a confusing and challenging event. She might have to accept adverse circumstances or even mourn a deep loss. But in all of these situations, the hero learns something. She changes, grows and begins to get a firmer grasp on the complexity of the world around her.

Nancy Lamb, Crafting Stories for Children, 2001 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Man Lured Boys By Posing as Woman on Craigslist

     A Tustin, California man arrested for allegedly posting an ad on Craigslist in which he attempted to lure teenage boys by pretending to be a woman was released from jail on October 18, 2014…Sherwin Ngo, 34, posted bond a day after he was arrested by Irvine police…

     The mother of one of the alleged victims, a 15-year-old boy, found explicit emails on her son's computer…A 16-year-old from Mission Viejo has been identified as a second victim…

     Irvine police arrested Ngo on suspicion of committing a lewd act on one of the teens and an attempted lewd act on the other. Detectives suspect there may be additional victims based on emails seized during a search of Ngo's online accounts.

Scott Glover, "Irvine Police Say Man Posed as Woman on Craigslist to Lure Teen Boys," L.A. Now, October 18, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Rape Fugitive Caught

     Accused child rapist Gregory Lewis, the subject of a multi-state manhunt, was arrested on October 28, 2014 in upstate New York after fleeing from the police then crashing his vehicle into a river…Police said a New York Police trooper attempted to pull over Lewis' vehicle because it was missing a license plate. Lewis fled from the trooper and drove into Fort Edward Village…The trooper and Fort Edward Village police began searching for Lewis. A short time later a 911 call came in indicating that a vehicle had crashed into a river.

     Lewis was taken into custody at the scene of the crash. At that time the arresting officers recovered a handgun from the fugitive.

     Lewis had cut off a court-ordered ankle bracelet and fled Massachusetts after his September 2014 arraignment on two counts of statutory rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. He is accused of going on a multi-state crime spree in the weeks since that included alleged sexual assaults, kidnappings, and robberies.

"Fugitive Captured: Southbridge Man Accused of Child Rape Caught in New York," October 29, 2014 

Writing Quote: Setting Up Traps For Your Protagonist

If you're writing a novel where you are not springing an actual physical trap on your protagonist, think about other less dangerous entrapments. They can be benign, like staging a surprise party for a notoriously shy protagonist; sending a character who is inappropriately dressed to a fancy party or dangerously cold environment; or sending him into a room where another character is fuming with anger. Or it can be a situation in which an antagonist wrests information, a promise, or a concession from your protagonist, who gives in against his better judgement.

Jessica Page Morrell, Between the Lines, 2006 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Lewd in LA

     "Django Unchanged" actress Daniele Watts and her boyfriend have been charged with one count each of lewd conduct…If found guilty, both Watts and her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, could face a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

     The charges stem from an incident that took place in September 2014 outside CBS Studio Center in Studio City, California. Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department received calls that the couple was having sex in a parked car. The African-American actress and her white boyfriend accused police of racism for questioning them in what they said was only a public display of affection.

     Watts, a native of Atlanta, made her feature film debut in 2012 as Coco in the Oscar-nominated "Django Unchained."

"Actress, Boyfriend Charged With Lewd Conduct," CNN, October 22, 2014 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Drug Bust at John Wayne Airport

     Federal agents conducted a major drug arrest at a southern California airport that netted thousands of ecstasy pills…On October 9, 2014, Krista Marieann Boseley, 30, and Gilles Lapointe, 61, were arrested upon landing at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. A consensual search of their aircraft led to drug dogs discovering 50,000 ecstasy pills and 90 pounds of raw MDMA, also known as "molly."

     Boseley and Lapointe also had $20,000 in cash, which they claim had been won from a Las Vegas casino. According to Orange County officials, the private plane transporting Boseley and Lapointe had previously been linked to drug trafficking allegations, and authorities had automatically marked it for search upon entering U.S. airspace from Canada.

     Boseley, an aspiring model, previously worked as a real estate agent. However, her model listing has been taken down….

Christian Datoc, "Private Plane Caught Carrying 50,000 Ecstasy Pills, 90 Pounds of MDA," The Daily Caller, October 18, 2014 

Writing Quote: Writing Your Novel's Prologue

     A prologue to a novel is introductory material apart in time, space, or viewpoint (or all three) from the main story that creates intrigue for upcoming events. To qualify as a prologue, the information or events must exist outside of the framework of the main story. This stand-alone device must be absorbing, distinct, and beguiling in its own right. Often, an effective prologue will contain drama and dialogue so that it is immediate rather than reportorial. Prologues are aways loaded with specific and sensory details.

     A prologue's job is to provide a potent insight into the world of the story that cannot be provided through the unfolding of events. It can also be information that cannot be discovered by the protagonist, but is still necessary to the story.

     Prologues can take place five years or five centuries before the drama begins, but somehow the gap of time between the prologue time and story time must be bridged. But not all prologues are written strictly from the past. Sometimes they stem from the future or are told from a viewpoint that will not be heard from again.

     Although the prologue exists outside the flow of the narrative, it is always linked to the story events, characters, and themes. There are no hard and fast rules for length, but most prologues are at least several paragraphs and can run to twenty or more pages. However, try to keep prologues brief and vital, and no longer than a chapter.

Jessica Page Morrell, Between The Lines, 2006 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The G E Mound Case by Jim Fisher

     The G E Mound Case ia a narrative, nonfiction account of the controversial federal prosecution of five indian relic collectors involved in the archaeological destruction of a 2000-year-old Indian mound on land owned by a General Electric plastics plant near Mount Vernon, Indiana.

     Art Gerber, a prominent artifact collector, amateur archaeologist, and professional photographer from Tell City, Indiana, an Ohio River town located not far from the mound in the southern tip of the state, became the target of the federal investigation of the mound's destruction. Gerber, one of dozens of collectors who hunted relics on the site, had been on the mound in the summer of 1988 on only three occasions. The site had been destroyed six weeks earlier by a G E earthmoving contractor pursuant to a landscaping project around the plant's newly built reception center.

     Although G E officials knew they were using soil from an Indian mound for landscaping fill, Art Gerber and the other collectors were prosecuted to placate Native American activists, professional archaeologists, and others who consider artifact collecting and amateur archaeology a form of archaeological looting.

     The post-destruction analysis of the so-called G E Mound revealed that it was one of the most important Hopewell era (Middle Woodland) sites ever discovered. The criminal convictions of Art Gerber and the other collectors made legal history because the defendants were held culpable federally even though the artifacts had been removed from private land. To achieve this, the federal district judge broadly interpreted an arcane, never before used provision of the 1979 Archaeological Resource Protection Act. The unusual conviction was upheld by the federal appeals court in Chicago. Gerber's appellate attorneys appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court that declined to review the case.

     The G E Mound Case features Art Gerber's fight to defend amateur archaeology and Indian relic collecting. On a personnel level, the story involves his struggle against powerful political forces to avoid going to prison. Up against Native American activists who hated him, professional archaeologists who disapproved of his collecting, a well-organized corporate public relations machine, a biased media, and an aggressive federal prosecutor, Art Gerber lost his financial security, his health, and his freedom. Eventually the case would cost him his marriage.

     Once Art Gerber was on his way to federal prison, Native American activists and professional archaeologists, allies in the anti-collecting movement, turned on each other in a war over who controlled the 5,000 G E Mound artifacts that had been turned over to the FBI. The archaeologists wanted to study the relics. Native American wanted them returned to the earth. With the hasty reburial of these unique clues to the ancient past, the Native Americans won that fight. The G E Mound Case is set against the ongoing war over who owns the ancient relics of America's prehistoric past.

     Mr. Gerber died on August 28, 2017 at the age of 79. [I considered him a friend and personal hero.]

     

Can Police Officers Be Trusted with Seized Cellphones?

     A California Highway Patrol Officer suspected of stealing nude photos from the cellphones of women arrested on drunken driving charges sent the pictures to at least two fellow officers…Officer Sean Harrington, 35, confessed to investigators that he sent such photos at least six times over several years to colleagues…

     Harrington has worked for the CHP for five years…He is assigned to administrative duties pending the investigation. Contra County prosecutors say they expect to announce if they will file criminal charges in the coming days. Officers Robert Hazelwood and Dion Simmons are named in the October 24, 2014 search warrant affidavit, suspected of receiving the photographs and exchanging banter with Harrington…

     CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a statement that his agency has launched an investigation, citing a similar case several years ago involving two officers in Los Angeles…The investigation was sparked by a 23-year-old San Ramon woman arrested August 29, 2014 on suspicion of drunken driving…She later discovered nude photographs of herself had been sent from her cellphone to an unfamiliar number. Drunken driving charges against the woman have been dismissed in light of the investigation of officer Harrington…

     Harrington also sent officer Hazelwood photos of a 19-year-old woman arrested following a suspected drunken driving crash in Livermore, California on August 7, 2014. The photos show her wearing a bikini. Hazelwood responded in a text asking if there were any nude photos…

     Darryl Holcombe, a senior investigator with the Contra County District Attorney's Office said Harrington's behavior amounts to felony computer theft. Attorney Rick Madsen, who represents the 23-year-old woman, said the officers' communications were "dehumanizing" and "horribly offensive" to his client, saying, "It's going to lead to another level of mistrust and skepticism of law enforcement in general."

"California Traffic Cop Accused of Sending Nude Photos From Female Drunk Drivers' Cellphones," The Daily Mail, October 25, 2014


Criminal Justice Quote: Honey Boo Boo Gets TV Bye-Bye

     The Learning Channel (TLC) has given "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" the boot after a story surfaced Thursday October 23, 2014 claiming that June Shannon--aka Mama June--was dating a convicted child molester. Shannon reacted to the news in a video posted on her daughter Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson's Facebook page…Shannon denied she was dating Mark McDaniel, a sex offender who was recently released from jail. "The statement of me dating a sex offender is totally untrue," she said.

     McDaniel, who is in his early 50s, was convicted on May 20, 2004 of aggravated child molestation. He registered as a sex offender in March 2014. Shannon wrote a Facebook post on Thursday October 23 that she dated and dumped McDaniel 10 years ago. "I would never put my my kids in danger," she said in the video post.

    TMZ reported that McDaniel went to prison for molesting a relative of Shannon's. The site posted a photo of Shannon and McDaniel together, but Shannon insisted that the photograph was a fake. The cancellation of the TV series, however, is real…

     "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" debuted in August 2012. The show focused on the life of Alana Thompson, who rose to fame as a child pageant winner on the TLC show "Toddlers & Tiaras." In recent seasons, ratings for "Boo Boo" had decreased significantly. An episode in June 2014 brought in just 1.7 million viewers, a big drop for a show that had seen 3.2 million viewers at its peak.

" 'Honey Boo Boo' Canceled Amid Sex Offender Scandal," Fox News, October 24, 2014

     

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Collateral Damage in the Hunt for a Cop Killer

     James Tully, who doesn't own a car and who walks 5 miles to work every day, has been mistaken for Eric Frein, the Pennsylvania cop killer, more than 20 times by heavily-armed law enforcement officers scouring the Pocono Mountain region. On at least one occasion, Tully, 39, claims he was forced to the ground and had a rifle pointed at his head by an officer as he walked to his job along a heavily wooded road near where Frein is believed to be hiding…

     Hundreds of law enforcement officers descended on the area to search for Frein, who they say shot and killed corporal Bryon Dickson and wounded Trooper Alex Douglas in a ambush September 12, 2014 outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks in Pike County. Frein, a 31-year-old survivalist and expert marksman, has managed to evade capture in the dense woods of the Poconos--despite multiple reported sightings of him by police and local residents…

     Tully, a father of two who lives in Frein's hometown of Canadensis, was stopped by police so many times he started carrying his driver's license and work identification around his neck…After Tully left work Friday night October 17, 2014, he was stopped by an officer dressed in camouflage and a tactical vest and holding a rifle..."He yelled at me to get down on the ground with my arms out wide and demanded my name," Tully said. Tully said the man ripped the lanyard from around his neck as he drove his knee into his back…

     Tully said he was not released until a state trooper told the other officer that Tully was telling the truth. Tully limped the rest of the way home…

     Shortly after the encounter, Tully had trouble and was taken to the hospital where doctors told him his ribs were bruised as a result of the incident…He hopes the police will pay for X-rays and the time he was absent from work. [Good luck with that, Mr. Tully.]

     The Pennsylvania state police, meanwhile, claim they have no knowledge of the incident…

"Police Repeatedly Mistake Pennsylvania Man For Suspected Cop Killer Eric Frein," Fox News, October 24, 2014