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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Kirking Case: SWAT Tactics in a Low-Risk Minor Drug Bust

     In 2013, DEA agents in northern Illinois on the hunt for home marijuana growers regularly surveilled agricultural retailers where cannabis cultivators were known to purchase their botanical supplies. Agents would follow patrons home and the drug investigations would go from there.

     On September 17, 2013, a DEA agent sitting on Midwest Hydroganics in Crest Hill, Illinois followed a woman from the store to her home in nearby Shorewood. Angela Kirking, 46, had purchased a bag of organic fertilizer she carried out of the store in a green shopping bag. She had no previous arrests for drugs or any other crimes.

     The DEA agent, on suspicion Kirking was growing cannabis in her house, checked her electric bill for February through August 2013. The federal drug investigator discovered that Kirking's electric payments were higher than her neighbors' utility bills. Because people who cultivate cannabis in their homes use relatively large amounts of electricity to power their grow lights, the DEA agent became even more suspicious of Kirking.

      DEA agents, on October 6, 2013, conducted a so-called "investigative garbage pull" at the suspect's house. (In most states and under federal law, a person's trash may be seized without a warrant because it's considered abandoned property that carries no expectation of privacy.) The trash grabbing agent discovered several plant stems that smelled like cannabis.

     Armed with the suspect's relatively high electric bills and the discarded marijuana stems, the DEA agent in charge of Kirking's case acquired a warrant to search her house.

     On October 11, 2013, four DEA agents and five local police officers conducted a pre-dawn SWAT-style raid of Angela Kirking's home. The officers rousted the terrified woman out of bed and at gun-point demanded to know if there were any illegal substances in the dwelling.

     The heavily armed searchers found 9.3 grams of marijuana in one room and a "plant portion" on her patio. The drug cops also discovered three glass pipes, three scales, and two books on how to grow marijuana. The drug raiders also walked off with Kirking's computer and a zip drive.

     Because the raid didn't produce enough evidence to warrant a federal drug charge, a Will County prosecutor charged Kirking with two state misdemeanor drug offenses.

     Nine heavily armed police officers had conducted a pre-dawn, no-knock raid of a home occupied by a middle-aged woman with no history of crime. Moreover, the DEA investigator knew his suspect was not a player in an organized drug operation. In other words, the raiders knew they were not storming a drug lord's house. Predictably, the officers found no guns or a cache of drug money.

     In the Kirking case, an unarmed DEA agent could have knocked on this woman's door in the middle of the day, showed her the search warrant, and conducted a routine, orderly search of the premises. But pursuant to today's militaristic style of policing, that approach never crossed this agent's mind. Pre-dawn SWAT raids are a lot more fun. They are also a lot more dangerous--for the civilians involved. Had Kirking picked up a gun thinking the cops were criminal home invaders, she would have been killed,

     Kirking's attorney, Jeff Tomczak, is fighting to get the case thrown out of court. He argues that the DEA agent did not present enough probable cause to legally justify the issuance of the warrant. While this may or may not be the case, the bigger policing issue involves the unnecessary and dangerous employment of SWAT tactics to enforce minor, low-risk offenses.


Criminal Justice Quote: Ex NYC Cop Shoots His Wife to Death in Their Home

     A former New York City police officer fatally shot his wife in their Queens home on Saturday, April 19, 2014 while their two young children were in the house….Officers responding to a 911 call around 11 AM at the family's home in Ozone Park found a 40-year-old woman who had been shot several times in the torso. The victim, Jessica D. Mera-Canty, was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

     The man, identified as Kevin Canty, 43, a former transit officer, was taken into custody a short time later about a mile from the house….The children, an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, ran from the house, looking for help. A neighbor took them to a nearby deli.

     "The kids were disturbed," Fez Atlas, the owner of Little Casablanca Deli, said. "The little girl knows what happened. And the boy told me that there was blood on the wall." Mr. Atlas said he hid the children behind the counter in an alcove by a wooden door, and kept an eye on the security camera video for their father….

     The police could not yet say whether the children had witnessed the shooting. The boy and girl were taken into police custody and given a medical examination before they were turned over to the city's Administration for Children's Services for questioning.

     Mr. Canty worked for the Police Department between 2008 and 2013….In 2012, he was praised on the department's Facebook page after he and three fellow officers helped save the life of a man who had suffered a heart attack at the Union Square-subway station.

Ashley Southall, "Ex-Officer Killed Wife, Police Say; Children Ran for Help," The New York Times, April 19, 2014 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Stealing Items Left at Grave Sites

     Police have charged a woman with stealing an item from a baby's gravesite at Mansfield Memorial Park in Mansfield, Ohio. Detective John Sigler said Frieda Kay Shade, 54 of Mansfield, turned herself in on April 23, 2014. She explained to authorities that she took a stuffed toy animal from the grave of Hayden Sheridan because a dog was running loose in the area and she didn't want it to destroy the toy. Sigler said Shade's attorney, Charles Robinson, said Shade will plead not guilty to one count of theft, a first-degree misdemeanor….

     Detective Sigler said several people came forward and identified Shade as the suspect after a video camera the police had set up near the gravesite captured a woman taking the toy. The footage was played in the social media where it received several thousand hits.

     "The video is there," said attorney Robinson, "we're not denying that. But the video evidence does not show what a person is thinking. There are mitigating circumstances. We have sympathy for the child who has expired."…

     According to Mansfield Municipal Court records, Shade has made several appearances in court for criminal and civil charges that include passing bad checks, unauthorized use of property, and evictions. Shade has two open cases in Richland County Common Pleas Court in reference to state taxes….

     The parents of the deceased boy believe his grave has been targeted by thieves over the years who have stolen flowers, wreaths, and toys. That led to the police department to set up a surveillance camera, the kind typically used by hunters, near the gravesite in July 2012….

"Woman Charged in Theft From Child's Grave," The Mansfield News Journal, April 25, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: California Police Plant Evidence

     California cops planted drugs in a woman's house to frame her after finding nothing in their illegal search of her home….Allison Ross has since filed a federal lawsuit against the Santa Clara sheriff's department, a crime lab, and twelve officers she claims participated in a conspiracy to plant drugs in her house and frame her for a crime she did not commit.

     Ross was initially charged with being under the influence of methamphetamine, but the case against her was thrown out after the district attorney determined that the police made false statements about Ross's arrest….

     Most shocking of all, Ross's lawsuit alleges that police vehicle video footage actually recorded the police discussing their plan to plant drugs inside her house. The incident transpired on New Year's Eve of 2009. Deputies arrested Ross's husband for unspecified reasons while he was at a neighbor's house. They then came to Ross's home, detained her and searched the premises. Ross…said she heard one officer tell another that they had not acquired a warrant….They ransacked the house, but found nothing criminal.

     The police video footage caught the officers admitting as much. "The house is clean, there is no meth in the house," said one officer….The officers then discussed taking white powder from the police vehicle and planting it in the house….Police reported that they found two bags of white powder inside the dwelling, although that was proven to be false. Ross also believed the crime lab tampered with evidence….

Robby Soave, "Cops Found Nothing in Raid, So They Planted Drugs to Frame Innocent Woman," The Daily Caller, April 24, 2014 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Arthur Conan Doyle and the History of Forensic Science

     The birth of the modern crime lab can be traced directly to fiction. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a physician and keen observer of his patients' abnormalities. He was a splendid writer, as well, and when he created Sherlock Holmes, he also imprinted on popular culture the idea that when the elements of science are coupled with applied logic, crimes can be solved. Doyle also knew that the way to brand the concept in the public's hearts and minds was to package the science in the form of a uniquely fascinating man. After all, it had worked before, in Charles Dicken's Bleak House, published in 1853. In that novel, Inspector Bucket personified all that amazed the public about Scotland Yard.

     By the time Doyle was writing, in the 1880s, London had had a police force for fifty years and the detectives of Scotland Yard since 1842. Starting in the 1860s, those detectives had added crime scene analysis to their toolbox of skills, and the forensic sciences took a great leap forward. But when Doyle captured it all in the form of Holmes, he did more than just sell books. One avid fan was Edmund Locard, who was influenced by the writing and went on to build the world's first forensic laboratory in Lyons, France in 1910. [The so-called Locard Principle: the criminal leaves part of himself at the crime scene and takes part of it with him.]

     The idea of crime labs spread throughout the world. In 1932, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened its lab under Director J. Edgar Hoover. [Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Detroit formed crime labs in the 1920s.]

Michael Baden, M.D. and Marion Roach, Dead Reckoning, 2001 

Criminal Justice Quote: College Jocks Assault Homeless Man

     Two college football players were arraigned in Massachusetts Superior Court on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 for allegedly kicking and beating a  homeless man until a passerby shielded the victim's body with her own…Craig "C.J." Parsons, 22, and Anthony Varrichione, 23, were charged with aggravated assault and battery and aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Additionally, Parsons was charged with violating the state's witness intimidation statute in an attempt to stymie the investigation….

     Parsons is a senior football player at Boston College and Vasrrichione, a former quarterback, recently graduated from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Both men pleaded not guilty….

     The incident occurred early January 26, 2014. The unidentified victim, 50, is a homeless man who was panhandling in Boston's Allston neighborhood. After an argument between him and the two suspects, Parsons and Varrichione allegedly punched and kicked him. Prosecutors say Parsons also knocked the man to the sidewalk, rendering him unconscious.

     A female passerby saw part of the attack and ran to the victim's aide, using her body to shield him from the attackers. Other witnesses called 911, and the victim was taken to a nearby hospital. The man is expected to survive but has no memory of the attack….

     Parsons, who was set to graduate this spring, has been given an immediate suspension from Boston College "in light of the disturbing nature of the allegations," said the director of communications for the college….Parsons' attorney told CNN that his client is "a wonderful young man from a fine family."…Varrichlione's attorney said  his client "has had no previous difficulties in life" [of course not, he was a football player]….

     Varrichione is listed as 6-foot-four, 225 pounds….Parsons played tight end for the Boston College Eagles and is six-foot-six, 253 pounds….

Laura Ly, "Two College Football Players Arraigned in Beating of Homeless Man," CNN, April 23, 2014 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The "Squeaky" Fromme Tape

     Nearly 40 years after a former Manson family member pointed a gun at President Gerald Ford, the audiotape from her pretrial psychiatric examination has been made public. Federal Judge Kimberly J. Mueller granted the release of the 132-minute recording on April 18, 2014 in response to a motion filed by the Sacramento Bee in November 2013.

     The recording of Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme was made on September 21, 1975, a little more than two weeks after the 26-year-old Fromme aimed her pistol at President Ford in Sacramento's Capitol Park. The gun did not go off and Fromme was wrestled to the ground by a Secret Service agent. The tape was made in order to determine her competence to stand trial and to be her own attorney.

     The Sacramento Bee reports that in the recording, Fromme spoke confidently about her ability to represent herself at trial and be acquitted….She was wrong. Though Fromme did not represent herself at trial, she was convicted and remained in prison until she was released on parole in 2009….Charles Manson, 79, remains imprisoned at California State Prison in Corcoran.

"Tape Released of Woman Who Pointed Gun at Ford," seattlepi.com, April 24, 2014

Writing Quote: Getting Your Novel Published

     Even if you've published short stories or a nonfiction book or two, you'll have to have a complete manuscript before you try to market your novel. Agents and editors generally insist on this, sometimes even for your second and third novel. This is because too many of them have signed contracts with new novelists, only to discover that the writer can't finish the work. In your query, remember to include an exact word count for your manuscript; a phrase like "approximately 125,000 words" will make an agent or editor think that you haven't finished the novel….

     When you get a request for more material, many agents and editors won't ask for the full manuscript. Instead, they'll ask for a synopsis and perhaps the first fifty pages or the first two or three chapters. Only when they've had a chance to review these will they ask to see the entire manuscript.

Meg Schneider and Barbar Doyen, Get Published, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Nigerian Child Bride Poisons Her Husband and Three Others

     A child bride forced into marriage in Nigeria killed a groom and three of his friends with a poisoned meal on April 7, 2014. Fourteen-year-old Wasila Umaru was married a week earlier to 35-year-old Umaru Sani….Over the weekend, the groom invited a dozen friends to his Ungwar Yansoro village, about 60 miles from the northern city of Majia.

     The teenager told police she bought rat poison at a village market and used it to prepare a dish of rice. According to a police official, "The suspect confessed to committing the crime and said she did it because she was forced to mary a man she did not love….The groom and a friend died the same day, and two other victims died later in the hospital. Umaru is cooperating with police and likely will be charged with culpable homicide….

     Child marriage is common in Nigeria and especially in the mainly Muslim and impoverished north, where the numbers increase in times of drought because a bride price is paid and it means one less mouth to feed. Fifty percent of Nigerian girls living in rural areas are married before they turn 18, according to the U.N. children's agency. That's a lot of child brides in a country of some 170 million….

     Child brides often suffer difficult pregnancies--the leading cause of death worldwide for girls aged 15 to 19--and are much more likely to contract AIDS and be subjected to domestic violence, according to the International Center for Research on Women….

     No one in Nigeria has been prosecuted for marrying a child, including Sen. Sani Ahmed Yerima, infamous for divorcing a 17-year-old that he married when she was 15 so he could marry a 14-year-old Egyptian girl in 2010, when he was 49. He had to divorce one of his child brides because Islamic law allows a maximum of four wives at a time.

     Many child brides are divorced for that reason and because of incontinence and other medical problems caused by difficult pregnancies, according to local child rights advocates who say such girls are put out on the street.

"Child Bride Kills Groom and Three of His Friends by Poisoning Meal," Associated Press, April 10, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Girl, 15 Steals Car With Kids Inside

     San Diego police say three children are safe after being taken on a wild ride by a suspected car thief who led authorities on a chase before being arrested….A woman told police Sunday, April 20, 2014 that someone drove off in her gray Dodge Charger while the children--ages 1, 3 and 7--were inside. The stolen vehicle was spotted by a California Highway Patrol officer on state Route 94 about an hour later. After a chase the Charger exited the freeway and was stopped.

     Police say a 15-year-old girl is being held on numerous charges related to the car theft….It is not clear if the young thief knew the children were in the car when she allegedly stole it.

"Children Safe After Car is Stolen," peaklife.com, April 21, 2014 

Writing Quote: Who Needs a Literary Agent?

     If your aim is to land a contract with one of the major book publishing houses, you probably will need an agent to represent your work. About 80 percent of the books these conglomerates publish are purchased through agents. Some of the largest houses won't even consider submissions from unrepresented writers; when they get manuscripts directly from the author, the author usually gets a short form note advising him to get an agent.

     The advantage to the big publishers in dealing only with agents is that agents know what editors are looking for and won't submit work that isn't salable. The agent's reputation, and therefore his ability to succeed as a agent, rides on submitting only the best--not just in terms of ideas, but also in terms of presentation and research--to only those editors who are appropriate for the project. The publisher saves enormous time and expense by allowing agents to do the work of shifting through submissions to find the real gems.

Meg Schneider and Barbara Doyen, Get Published, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tim Zickuhr: Former Ice Road Trucker Actor in Hot Water

     The reality TV show "Ice Road Truckers" falls within the genre of reality television series that feature rugged, rough-and-tumble men who live in swamps, dig for gold, run a business geared to the killing of ducks, hunt wild hogs, and transport unusual cargo over-the-road--Bubba or redneck TV if you will.

     "Ice Road Truckers," starring men who drive 18-wheelers on seasonal routes that cross frozen lakes and rivers in remote arctic territories in Canada and Alaska, premiered on the History Channel in June 2007. Later series focused on Alaska's remote Dalton Highway built on solid, snow-covered terrain. 

     In 2010, the History Channel introduced a spin-off series called "Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads." Tim Zickuhr, a 35-year-old part time actor from Port of Los Angeles, appeared in the series' second season. In a promotional video for the show, Zickuhr described himself as an "adrenaline junkie." The reality TV actor, referring to himself as an "outlaw," also said, "The action is the juice for me." Full of bravado and a lot of crap, Zickuhr was perfect for reality TV. 

     On December 18, 2013, in Las Vegas, Zickuhr allegedly hired a prostitute named Lisa Cadeau who worked under the trick name "Snow White." In his apartment, after she had performed the sex acts, Zickuhr gave her his ATM card to withdraw the money they had agreed upon. The next day, after checking his account, Zickuhr called Cadeau back to his apartment where he accused her of withdrawing more cash for her services than they had agreed upon. 

     At sometime during the heated dispute, Zickuhr allegedly punched the hooker in the face and threatened her life if she didn't return the $1,000 she had supposedly stolen from him. According to the police report, he tied Cadeau up, then dumped a bucket of cold water on her head. After locking the prostitute into a closet, Zickuhr demanded that she give him the phone number of someone who would pay him the money she had stolen. 

     Cadeau gave her enraged captor the phone number of a Las Vegas police officer she had worked for as a snitch. Zickuhr called the number and put Cadeau on the phone. To the cop, she exclaimed, "Help me, he's going to kill me!"

     When Zickuhr took the phone back from Cadeau, he instructed the man on the line to meet him with the money behind the Eureka Casino near the Las Vegas Strip. 

     After arranging the meeting with the man he thought was going to return his money, Zickuhr forced the prostitute to jump out of a second-story window onto the roof of a carport. As a result of her ordeal, Cadeau suffered injuries to her face and arms. She also had abrasions on her wrists from being bound. 

     At the Eureka Casino, two Las Vegas police officers arrested Zickuhr. As he was being hauled off to jail, the arrestee, according to the police report, "admitted that he'd made a mistake." (Exactly what "mistake" he was referring to is not clear.) 

     A Clark County prosecutor charged the former reality TV actor with first-degree kidnapping, extortion, and coercion. All three of these offenses are felonies that could put the "adrenaline junkie" behind bars for several years. 

     Following his arrest, Zickuhr told a TMZ reporter that he had not given Cadeau the money because she was a prostitute. He insisted that "Snow White" was a friend. He said he lent her the money, nice guy that he was. And what did she do? She wiped him out! So who was the real victim here?  

     Lisa Cadeau, in an April 22, 2014 email to a reporter with the New York Daily News, wrote: "I only withdrew the $80 I was supposed to, and an additional $120 that I wasn't." 

     

Gangster Shot in Court Room

     A U.S. marshal shot a defendant in a Utah federal courtroom on Monday morning, April 21, 2014 after the defendant rushed a witness as his trial….Saile Angilau, an alleged gang member charged with racketeering conspiracy, was shot several times at a Salt Lake City federal court house after Angilau attacked someone who was on the witness stand….Angilau was the only person shot….

     Judge Tena Campbell declared a mistrial, noting that the shooting happened in front of jury members, who were "visibly shaken and upset."

     Angilau is one of nine alleged members of the Tongan Crip Gang charged in a 2010 indictment with racketeering conspiracy. The indictment alleges Angilau committed several convenience store robberies in Salt Lake City and assaulted the stores' clerks from December 2002 to July 2007. Angillau was charged with several other crimes, including assaulting a federal officer.

Amanda Watts and Jason Henna, "Marshal Shoots Utah Defendant Who Rushed Witnesses," CNN, April 21, 2014 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Another Mother Drives Into the Water To Drown Her Children

     Police say Joann Smith, 49, of Florence Township, New Jersey, sped off a boat ramp into the Delaware River on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. She's charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of endangering the welfare of children.

     A man driving on West Front Street in Florence saw the sinking vehicle and ran out to help Smith and her three children, ages 15, 14, and 13, the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office said. One of the children came away from the capsized van with a cut leg.

     Smith was checked into a medical facility for evaluation. Her bail was set at $600,000….The incident comes after another mother was accused of driving a minivan into the Atlantic Ocean with her three children in Daytona Beach, Florida on March 4, 2014….

Gabe LaMonica, "Van With Children Hits River; Mother Charged," CNN, April 17, 2014 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: NYC Police Officer Kills Old Man Armed With Shotgun

     Police shot and killed a man in Queens Saturday, April 12, 2014 after he shot and killed his daughter. Authorities say an 86-year-old man called 911 saying that he had shot his daughter and her dog with a 12-gauge shotgun, and that he wanted to kill himself.

     Police officers responding to the scene on 38th Street in Long Island city found the man with the shotgun and ordered him to put it down, but he turned the gun toward them, prompting officers to shoot and kill him.

     Sources say the man's daughter was found with a shotgun wound to the head and was pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital….The dog, a brown Yorkshire Terrier, is being treated by the ASPCA for a neck laceration. It is expected to survive.

"Police Shoot and Kill Elderly Queens Man After He Kills Daughter," NY1 News, April 12, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Easter Egg Party Goes Violent

     An Easter Egg decorating party that went very wrong led a Brookline, Pennsylvania man to pelt his girlfriend with hard-boiled eggs before attempting to stab Pittsburgh police officers with a sword….

     Aaron Goempel, 27, awaited his arraignment on charges of aggravated assault charges stemming from the disturbance shortly after midnight, Sunday, April 20, 2014. Police say they responded to reports of a fight inside a Wareman Avenue apartment and found a woman with a red and swollen eye. She told officers that when accusing Goempel of cheating on her, he became agitated and began hurling eggs. He barricaded himself in the bedroom with an exercise machine against the door….

     Once officers got through the door, Goempel reached for a row of knives and swords atop the dresser. Police got him under control and took him to a cruiser where he started yelling racist obscenities at one of the officers. Goempel allegedly kicked another officer in the groin.

     According to court records, Goempel's criminal record includes guilty verdicts for disorderly conduct and public drunkenness dating to 2008. He awaits trial on charges of harassment, prowling, assault and traffic violations.

Carl Prine, "Egg Decorating Turns to Fight, Charges in Brookline, Police Say," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 20, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Arresting Police Rough Up an Old Man

     An Elderly Missouri man dialed 911 and asked for an ambulance to come and help his ailing wife. Instead, the police showed up, threw him to the ground, sat on his head and handcuffed him. He later received stitches for his injuries. "I never had anybody jump on me for doing nothing," said the man, Elbert Breshears of Humansville, Missouri….

     The trouble began after Breshears called to get help for his wife, who suffers from dementia. He asked for paramedics to come provide assistance to her after she knocked out one of their home's windows. The Humansville police arrived first, however. According to Breshears, an officer tackled him right away, then barked at him to stand up. "He told me to get up," recalled Breshears. "I told him I couldn't."

     Officers threw him into a pile of gravel and sat on his back and head as they attempted to handcuff him. Breshears pleaded with the officers to get off him. "I told them I can't get my hands up to where you can handcuff me. If you let me up you can handcuff me," he said. "I got no objection to being handcuffed."

     A doctor had to sew up his head and removed gravel from his wounds.

     Breshear said that he has had trouble with police in the past. A spokesperson for the police declined an interview with local reporters, but did say that the man is facing charges for abusing his wife, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. Breshears claims the charges are ridiculous. "I didn't hit my wife," he said. "I've lived with the woman for 47 years. I love the woman. I can't help what she does," he added, referring to her dementia.

     The wife was taken away from her home and is now under professional care. Breshears plans to sue the police.

Robby Soave, "Elderly Man Calls for Ambulance, Violent Cops Beat Him Instead," The Daily Caller, April 21, 2014 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Who Murdered Jeremiah Oliver?

     To get away from her estranged husband against whom she had been granted a restraining order, 28-year-old Elsa Oliver and her three children moved from their home in Fitchburg, Massachusetts to Florida where they lived with her mother. Early in 2013, Elsa, still married to Jose Oliver, returned to Fitchburg, a town of 40,000 in the north central part of the state. She came home with 5-year-old Jeremiah, his 7-year-old sister, and his older brother who was nine.

     In Fitchburg, Elsa began a relationship with Albert Sierra, a local man six years younger than her.

     In June 2013, a social worker with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), during a monthly visit to the Oliver home, noticed that Jeremiah wasn't in the house. In response to the social worker's inquiry regarding the boy's whereabouts, Elsa said he was in Florida living with her mother. The social worker took Elsa for her word and didn't verify the story.

     Five months later, the social worker left a DFC card at Elsa's house with the message there would be no further monthly visits from the agency.

     Jeremiah's sister, on December 2, 2013, told her elementary school counselor that her mother's boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, had abused her. The 7-year-old and her 9-year-old brother were taken out of Elsa's custody and placed into protective care. Jeremiah still wasn't around, and his siblings had no idea what happened to him. When detectives asked Elsa about Jeremiah, she stuck to her Florida story.

     After Jeremiah could not be located in Florida, a state juvenile court judge brought Elsa into court and asked her to account for her missing son. She refused to answer the judge's questions. The judge gave Elsa 72 hours to produce the boy. At the hearing, officials noticed physical signs that Elsa had been recently abused.

     Shortly after the judge's deadline passed without proof that Jeremiah was alive, a Worcester County prosecutor charged Elsa with two counts of reckless endangerment of a child and two counts of accessory after the fact of a felony. These charges related to the alleged physical abuse of Jeremiah's sister. Police officers booked Elsa into the Worcester County Jail where she was held under a $5,000 cash bond.

     Police officers also arrested 22-year-old Albert Sierra on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a knife) and two counts of assault and battery on a child causing bodily injury. A judge denied Sierra bail. Both of the accused pleaded not guilty to all charges.

     A party made up of Fitchburg police officers, K-9 units, and 100 volunteers searched the vicinity of the Oliver house without finding the missing boy. Detectives and others involved in the case believed that he had been murdered and that Elsa, out of fear, was covering up for her boyfriend.

     While the police tried to find Jeremiah's body, a bureaucratic fight broke out within the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families over who in the agency bore the most blame for the delayed reaction to Jeremiah Oliver's disappearance. The head of the public union that represents DCF employees protested the firing of Jeremiah's social worker and her supervisor. The union leader accused the department's commissioner of deflecting blame by scapegoating the social worker and her boss. In the meantime, the 5-year-old was still missing and presumed dead.

     Duval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, promised an investigation into DCF's handling of Jeremiah Oliver's case. He asked the Child Welfare League of America to review the workings of the agency. Several local politicians wanted more--they called for the governor to fire the agency's commissioner, Olga Roche.

     In March 2014, the Child Welfare League of America reported that state social workers missed nearly one in five home visits during a recent 12-month period.

     A Worcester County grand jury, in March 2014, indicted Elsa Oliver and Alberto Sierra on charges of kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and reckless endangerment. Oliver was held on $125,000 bail and Sierra on $100,000. Three other people were indicted for interfering with a criminal investigation and misleading the police.

     On April 18, 2014, Worcester County District Attorney Joe Early announced that Jeremiah Oliver's body had been found at nine that morning. The remains were wrapped in a blanket inside a suitcase discovered in a grassy area 40 feet off Interstate 190's southbound lane not far from Exit 6 in Sterling, Massachusetts. Found 12 miles from his home, the boy, according to the district attorney, was a victim of criminal homicide.

     The day after the missing boy's discovery, DCF Commissioner Olga Roche assured the public that the "DCF continues to focus on Jeremiah's siblings to ensure they are receiving the support they need during this very difficult time." The commissioner admitted that the boy's killing reflects a "serious failure" on the part of the child protection agency.

     On April 19, Jose Oliver, the murdered boy's father, in a cell phone call to a reporter from the spot where his son's body was found, said, "I know the body has not been here for six months. I believe the body was thrown here Thursday morning [April 17]. Anybody that drives through here, you could see it. There's more people involved in this besides my wife and Alberto Sierria. A couple of people know what happened. My question is who did it and why they did it. I want answers."

Criminal Justice Quote: Thieves at the Gas Pump

     Two Texas men allegedly manipulated gas pumps at local 7-Eleven stores in the Austin area to allow gas to flow freely, charging drivers a discounted rate for the fuel….Guilibaldo Gonzales Puente, 48, and Alejandro Conteno Alvarez, 33, would create a rally point, and, at times, spend between one to three hours at the pumps filling up cars….

     "A lot of the vehicles were large trucks with big bladders in the back, which could hold between 200 and 400 gallons," Detective Rickey Jones, said. Puente and Alvarez were arrested at a gas pump Monday, April 14, 2014.

"Two Men Accused of Stealing More than $27 G in Gas," Fox News, April 16, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Nanny State

     …..The conservatives' war on marijuana and the liberals' war on tobacco are manifestations of paternalism--the idea that government has the legitimate authority to stop adults from doing bad things, like smoking substances that politicians and bureaucrats do not approve of. [Some of these same politicians and bureaucrats smoke either cigarettes or pot. Laws are for us, not them.] Of course, smoking, whether of marijuana or tobacco, does have negative health consequences--but respecting the right of individuals to be wrong, as long as they do not interfere with the rights of others, is one of the pillars of a free society. [I'm afraid the free society structure has collapsed a long time ago.]

Ron Paul in Judge Andrew P. Napolitano's Lies The Government Told You, 2010 

Writing Quote: Getting Your Novel Off to a Good Start

     When I asked an agent recently how she decided whether or not to take on a manuscript, she told me she asked for the first fifty pages and read the first sentence. If she liked the first sentence, she read the second. If she liked that one, she read the third, and so on. If she reached the end of the first fifty pages without putting the manuscript down, she signed it up.

     Granted, most readers are willing to read your second sentence even if the first one isn't brilliant, but the agent's answer shows the importance of "hook." If you don't grab your readers with, say, your first fifty pages, you won't have them at all. So If you've been gleaning compliments from your writers group and good responses to your query letters, but your first fifty pages keep coming back with polite rejections, then you may have a good story that doesn't get started soon enough. If so, it's time to go back to the beginning and start looking for trouble.

David King, "The Fifty-Page Dash," in The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, Meg Leder and Jack Hefferon, editors, 2002 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Suicide and the Werther Effect

     Sociologists studying the media and the cultural contagion of suicidal behaviors were the first to recognize the copycat effect. In 1974, University of California at San Diego sociologist David P. Phillips coined the phrase Werther Effect to describe the copycat phenomenon. The name Werther  comes from the 1774 novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the author of Faust. In the story, the youthful character Werther falls in love with a woman who is promised to another. Always melodramatic, Werther decides that his life cannot go on and that his love is lost. He then dresses in boots, a blue coat, and a yellow vest, sits at his desk with an open book, and, literally at the eleventh hour, shoots himself. In the years that followed, throughout Europe, so many young men shot themselves while dressed as Werther and seated at their writing desks with an open copy of The Sorrows of Young Werther in front of them that the book was banned in Italy, Germany, and Denmark.

     Though an awareness of this phenomenon has been around for centuries, Phillips was the first to conduct formal studies suggesting that the Werther Effect was, indeed, a reality--that massive media attention and the retelling of the specific details of a suicide (or, in some cases, untimely deaths) could increase the number of suicides.

     The August 1962 suicide of Marilyn Monroe presents a classic modern-day example of the Werner Effect. In the month that followed it, 197 individual suicides--mostly of young blond women--appear to have used the Hollywood star's suicide as a model for their own. The overall suicide rate in the U.S. increased by 12 percent for the month after the news of Monroe's suicide. But, as Phillips and others discovered, there was no corresponding decrease in suicides after the increase from the Marilyn Monroe-effect suicides. In other words, the star's suicide actually appeared to have caused a whole population of vulnerable individuals to complete their own deaths, over and above what would be normally expected. This is the copycat effect working with a vengeance.

Loren Coleman, The Copycat Effect, 2004

Criminal Justice Quote: Rapper Goes Over the Edge

     Rapper Andre Johnson severed his penis and jumped from a Los Angeles apartment building early Wednesday, April 16, 2014….Johnson was seriously injured, but survived the fall from the second level of the building in North Hollywood, Los Angeles….Johnson, along with his recovered penis, were taken to Cedars-Sinae Medical Center, where he was treated….

     Details about what triggered the incident were not available. [Let me guess--drugs.] Johnson has been a member of Northstar, a Long Beach, California, hip hop group that was part of the Wu-Tang Clan family, according to the Wu-Tang Clan website. He performs under the name Christ Bearer….[Doctors were unable to reattach the severed member.]

Alan Duke, "Rapper Andre Johnson Severs Penis, Jumps Off Building, But Survives," CNN, April 16, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Xbox-Playing Dad Suffocates His Crying Baby

     Sheriff's deputies in north Florida say a man suffocated his young, crying son so he could play video games. Authorities say 24-year-old Cody Wygant is charged with third-degree murder and child neglect. He was being held Friday, April 18, 2014 without bail at the Citrus County Jail.

     Sixteen-month-old Daymeon Wygant wasn't breathing when emergency crews arrived at the home on Thursday morning. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. According to investigators, Wygant said the boy was crying uncontrollably, preventing him from playing his Xbox games. He covered the boy's nose and mouth [with his hand] for three to four minutes until the boy became lethargic, then placed him in a playpen and covered him with bedding.

     Detectives say Wygant didn't check on Daymeon for five hours….

"Deputies: Man Smothered Crying Son Over Video Game," seattlepi.com, April 18, 2014 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Boy in the Claw Machine

     A 3-year-old boy who went missing from his home was found inside a toy claw machine in a bowling alley across the street. The boy's mother called the Lincoln, Nebraska Police Department on April 15, 2014 to report her son had gotten out of their apartment while she was in the bathroom….Police canvassed the area and were notified by a man that a boy was inside the claw machine….

     The boy could only have gotten into the machine through the prize hole…."You have to weave your way in and out, so he had to work pretty hard to get in there," said Jim Lakey, the owner of the machine….The boy was not paying any attention to anyone outside of the machine "because he was just picking up stuffed animals and putting them down," Rachell Hildreth, a bartender at Madsen's Bowling Alley and Billiards, said.

     So did they have to use quarters to get him out? No, Lakey came to the rescue with a key to the machine….The boy was uninjured and allowed to keep one of the stuffed toys from the machine….

Jolie Lee, "Missing Nebraska Boy, 3, Found in Toy Claw Machine," USA Today, April 16, 2014 

Whackademia Quote: Squirt Gun Control: School Administrators All Wet

     Zero tolerance strikes again: A Maine high school suspended a 10th-grader for possessing a lookalike firearm after a bright yellow squirt gun fell out of his backpack. Administrators at Lewiston High School determined that the rules mandated a 10-day suspension. District Superintendent Bill Webster...told the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal that he could not comment on the details of the case. He did say that all facts were considered.

     "I can say that a student bringing a water pistol to school will, at first, be told that they [sic] are being suspended from school for ten days," he said in a statement. "We then work to get more facts and complete a review that often results in a reduction of the suspension period. Also it is not uncommon for other factors to enter into the suspension decision, including the level of student cooperation." [The fact that Webster is obviously unaware of how stupid this sounds is alarming.]

     Webster implied that the student should consider himself lucky, since many other districts would have expelled him without a second thought. [Thought? There's no thinking here.]

     Indeed, anti-gun hysteria has led to the implementation of draconian bans of harmless toys, and even finger gestures, at U.S. schools….

Robby Soave, "School Suspends 10th-Grader For Having Bright Yellow Squirt Gun," The Daily Caller, April 17, 2014 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Portland Pissers

     Portland, Oregon water officials are discarding 38 million gallons of drinking water that a 19-year-old was caught urinating into one of the city's reservoirs. A security camera caught the man urinating at about one in the morning on Wednesday, April 15, 2014 through an iron fence into Mount Tabor Reservoir No. 5 in southeastern Portland….Minutes later, two other men, ages 18 and 19, attempted to scale the fence and one of them entered the reservoir.

     The three men were caught, citied for trespassing and prohibited from returning to Mount Tabor Park. The 19-year-old was cited for public urination…."Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated," said David Shaff with the Portland Water Bureau. He acknowledged that the health risk is slight. "We have the ability to meet that expectation while minimizing public health concerns."...

     The 38 million gallons--about 760,000 soaks in a bathtub--will be drained into the sewage system, eventually reaching a treatment plant before they are dumped into the Columbia River. [Who knows how many dead bodies lay on the bottom of the river receiving this cleansed water?]

     In 2011, the city dumped 8 million gallons, a mere 160,000 baths, from Mount Tabor Reservoir No 1 after a 22-year-old man from Molalla, Oregon admitted to urinating in it. He eventually pleaded guilty to misuse of a reservoir and was sentenced to community service. [Theres a criminal offense in Oregon called misuse of a reservoir?] In that case, it cost the water bureau $32,700, passed on to customers, to drain the reservoir, and that decision caused a wave of backlash from many who said it was an unnecessary response.

     Some complained that animals sometimes fall into the reservoir and die without any such action taken. "I think part of it is just that general yuck factor of, 'Yes, we have birds on there all the time, but we don't have people peeing in it all the time,'" Shaff said in defending the 2011 decision. If the area were in drought conditions, he said he probably would make a different decision….

Teresa Blackman and Jeff Thompson, "Oregon Official Drain Reservoir After Man Urinates in It," KGW-TV Portland, April 17, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Fence

     The fence conveys the thief's stolen goods beyond the reach of the long arms of the law and into the hands of the more or less--and usually less--legitimate businessmen. He sells the merchandise to the businessman at a price less than the businessman can obtain elsewhere, and returns to the thief a percentage of the take in a shorter period of time than the thief could unload the goods. The fence's role is to serve two different masters; the key to his success is that he comes out on top of them both.

     The fence is the underworld's indispensable man. The businessman can purchase the hot goods without ever having to confront on a face-to-face basis the thief or hijacker; and the thief never has to expose himself to the businessman, who in the event of a police investigation might be the first to break down.

     The good fence is a man of a thousand connections….

Thomas Plate, Crime Pays! 1975 

Criminal Justice Quote: Child Killer Denied Parole Again

      Eric Smith has been denied parole for the seventh time. The Savona, New York native is serving a life term for killing a 4-year-old boy when Smith was 13. Smith is serving nine years to life in prison for killing Derrick Robie in Savona. He was convicted of murder in 1994 for luring the little boy into the woods where he hit him with a rock, stuffed paper in his mouth and crushed his skull with a 26-pound boulder.

     The 34-year-old prisoner is in maximum security Collins Correctional Facility south of Buffalo, New York. After a hearing on April 11, 2014, the parole board said the "serious and brutal" crime is more compelling than Smith's clean disciplinary record, positive prison programming and release plans. The board noted "significant community opposition" to Smith's release from prison.

"Smith Denied Prole," Associated Press, April 14, 2014 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Band Teacher Accused of Sexual Relationship With Student

     The El Paso County [Colorado] Sheriff's Office says a 38-year-old man was arrested after he was allegedly having a romantic relationship with a 16-year-old student. David Hurd was employed as a contract band choreographer and coach at Air Academy High School….A school resource officer received a report of the inappropriate relationship, and the case was investigated by the sheriff's office.

     Hurd, who lives in Aurora, Colorado [outside of Denver] was arrested on April 11, 2014. He was booked into the Aurora City Jail on a $50,000 bond. He faces two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of obscenity.

     Hurd was involved in multiple marching band activities throughout the county as a consultant and choreographer for many years. Investigators are concerned there may be more victims….

Raquel Villanueva, "Band Teacher Arrested for Sexual Exploitation of Child," KUSA-TV, April 14, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: U.K's Mental Health Act: Holding Kids in Jail

     Hundreds of children in England and Wales were detained under the Mental Health Act and locked in police cells because officers did not have anywhere else to take them….There were 305 detentions of under-18s in the first 11 months of 2013….Some were held for more than 24 hours….the practice of detaining children suspected of being mentally ill was first uncovered by the BBC in 2012….

     Some children were detained for periods of time--including 17-year-olds held for more than 24 hours and 15-year-olds for between eight and 15 hours. Police have the power under the Mental Health Act to take people they suspect of being mentally disturbed and who could be a danger to themselves or others to a "place of safety" to be assessed by a doctor. This detention may only last up to 72 hours. Places of safety will usually mean a hospital, care home or any other suitable place but, in exceptional circumstances, it may also be a police station.

Nicola Beckford, "Hundreds of Children Detained in Police Cells," BBC News, January 25, 2014 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Two Cannibals in Pakistan Ate a Baby

     Two brothers previously jailed for cannibalism and then released, have been arrested again after police discovered a child's severed head at their home in a remote village in northwest Pakistan. Mohammed Arif Ali was arrested on April 14, 2014 after neighbors alerted police to a "foul smell" coming from his house in the village of Kahawar Khan in the Khakkar district of Punjab….

     When officers went to investigate, they discovered the decapitated head of an infant next to a burning stove. The head, which is now being examined at a hospital in the nearby village of Darya Khan, looked to be around five days old….[I don't know if the severed head was five-days old or that was the age of the infant. How the infant died has not been revealed.]

     Arif Ali was arrested at the scene, while his broher, Mohammed Farman Ali, was apprehended by police hours later on the outskirts of their village. Police said both men confessed to eating human flesh. The brothers were released from prison last year after serving a two-year jail term for similar offenses--they admitted dismembering a woman's body they had stolen from a graveyard in Darya Khan where they lived at the time.

     With no explicit law on cannibalism in Pakistan, the two men were convicted of desecrating a dead body and other public order offenses in a case that provoked widespread revulsion across Pakistan….

Sophia Saifi and Paul Armstrong, "Two Brothers Re-arrested in Pakistan for Cannibalism," CNN, April 15, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Big Lufthansa Heist

     On December 11, 1978, armed mobsters stole $5 million in cash and nearly $1 million in jewels from a Lufthansa airlines vault at JFK Airport [Queens, New York] in what would be for decades the biggest-ever heist on U.S. soil. And until the arrest of Vincent Asaro on January 23, 2014, the crime went without a single wiseguy criminally charged.

     The theft became legendary after mastermind James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke killed off one crew member after another to avoid being ratted out to the cops. Martin Scorsese immortalized the theft in his 1990 film "Goodfellas," based on Nicholas Pileggi's book, Wiseguy. Burke, who died of cancer in prison in 1996, was the inspiration for Robert DeNiro's character, Jimmy Conway.

Larry Celono and Bob Fredericks, New York Post, January 24, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Abuse of Prescription Drugs

     Prescription drugs can be classified into three categories: narcotics (including Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet), depressants (including Xanax, Valium, and Librium), and stimulants (including Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Meridia). Drugs like Ritalin can lead a user to experience feelings of hostility and paranoia. Higher does of a drug like Xanax can cause impairment of judgment and irritability as well as paranoia, suicidal thoughts, agitation, and aggressiveness.

Phil Chalmers, Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer, 2009 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Writing Quote: The Unfinished Novel

You've always wanted to write a novel, but you haven't been able to. Not yet, you haven't. Perhaps you've been too intimidated to even begin. (Who do I think I am?) Or you've started writing several novels over the years, each with abundant hope and enthusiasm, but you soon become discouraged when the characters in your head did not breathe on the page. Or maybe you keep pulling the same novel out of the desk drawer whenever you have some downtime, and you work on it again for a week or a month--you feel a feverish sense or urgency--and the novel keeps growing, year after year, but seems unwilling to resolve itself, and then, alas, the so-called real world summons you, or you lose confidence in your creative or organizational abilities, and you shove the manuscript back into the drawer and push your chair away from the annoying desk. Well, you should know that you are not alone. We've all done the same thing. Writing is hard, and it's harder for the writer than it is for anyone else.

John Dufresne, Is Life Like This? 2010

Criminal Justice Quote: DNA Based Mugshots

A study published on March 20, 2014, reports on the possibility of computers to accurately create virtual mugshots on an individual based solely on that person's DNA. Several scientists from around the world, the majority of them from Belgium and the U.S., have studied facial features based on the aspects of ancestry, gender and individual genetic traits to come up with a formula for accurately predicting facial reconstruction from saliva, skin or a strand of hair. This means that if this initial study is improved upon and the process is refined, in the future (one author of the study claims this may happen within the next 5 to 10 years), accurate criminal mugshots may be created for police and other investigators from genetic material found at the scene of a crime….

Julie Mahfood, "DNA Mugshots Possible," Liberty Voice, March 22, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Typical FBI Field Office

     There is no set design for FBI officers. Many buildings are new, but some are quite old. Generally, each agent has a desk or cubicle, and squad supervisors have private offices. Squads are grouped together in areas informally referred to as "bull pens." The Special Agent in Charge (SAC) and Assistant Agent in Charge (ASAC) have much larger offices, with doors, sofas, and overstuffed chairs.

     Support personnel are interspersed in the squad areas. These support personnel may include file clerks, word processing personnel, computer technicians, financial analysts, or translators. Increasingly in the FBI, because of the terrorism threat, there are also a significant number of intelligence analysts.

     There will be a gun vault for the storage of ammunition and shoulder weapons, and also an evidence vault for the maintenance of items of physical evidence. Files are in abundance, as are computers, phones, secure file cabinets, and fax machines. Squads working national security matters and terrorism also have encrypted telephones that permit secure transmissions of sensitive information. Identification cards are worn at all times, and holstered firearms and dangling handcuffs are a common sight.

Joseph W. Koletar, The FBI Career Guide, 2006 

Whackademia Quote: On Duty Substitute Teacher Pleasures Himself

     A 72-year-old substitute teacher at Westhill High School in Stamford, Connecticut was put on suicide watch after he was allegedly caught masturbating in a school hallway while looking at school children on February 26, 2014. According to police, at about 7:33 AM, Michael Luecke was spotted lying on the floor by a teacher's assistant who thought he was injured. When she got closer, she realized the man had his hands in his pants and he was fully aroused….

     The assistant yelled at Luecke and notified school officials. Luecke ran off….A video surveillance tape showed Luecke in a corner of a stairwell looking at students in the courtyard. Once he was identified, Luecke was found in the classroom he was overseeing, and removed….He was brought to the main office and detained by school resource officers….

     Luecke was charged with public indecency, second-degree breach of peace and risk of injury to a minor. He was held on $25,000 bond. Because he was placed on suicide watch, his clothing was taken from him and his police photograph shows him dressed in a suicide smock….

     Luecke, a former biotechnology consultant, was employed by both Stamford and Greenwich school districts as a substitute teacher….He had been employed as a high school substitute since 2009….

"Substitute Teacher Charged With Indecent Exposure," Newsmax, March 2, 2014 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Notre Dame Student Passed Out in Business He Burglarized

     A student at the University of Notre Dame was arrested after he smashed a stained glass window at a massage therapy facility in downtown South Bend, Indiana with a 100-pound flower pot, ransacked the place and then helped himself to a bunch of Hot Pockets and some drumsticks.

     Police responded to an alarm at Therapeutic Indulgence…at 9:30 AM on Sunday, March 30, 2014. Inside, they found Notre Dame student Brian McCurren passed out in a kitchen area on the second floor. Police say McCurren, 19, had warmed up an impressive number of Hot Pockets in a microwave and consumed them. He helped himself to some tasty drumsticks, too. However, he seems to have become satiated and passed out at some point while eating the drumsticks.

     The Maineville, Ohio native also had some macaroni and cheese bubbling in an antique-style oven when he passed out. Prior to his feast, McCurren allegedly used a 100-pound flower pot to break through the front door of the spa facility. He then picked up a hammer and dug through some drywall….Business owner Sara Rose Frazier said McCurren also destroyed furniture and sprayed the contents of a fire extinguisher over the place, causing thousands of dollars of damage….

     Police strongly suspect alcohol was involved, not least because McCarren blew a .106 in a standard breath test around 10 AM before he was led out of the burglarized business in handcuffs….McCurren faces a raft of charges including burglary, vandalism, underage drinking and--no doubt for the Hot Pockets--minor consumption. He spent the night in jail….

Eric Owens, "Notre Dame Student Broke Into South Bend Spa, Wrecked It, Ate Hot Pockets," The Daily Caller, April 1, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Did Poker Champ Phil Ivey, Jr. Cheat a Casino?

     The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey is suing a World Series of Poker champ who it says cheated the house for $9.6 million….The lawsuit alleges that poker pro Phillip Ivey Jr. allegedly cheated while playing several sessions at a Baccarat table in 2012….While playing, Ivey allegedly cheated by fixating on pattern flaws on the back of the cards, a technique commonly known as "edge sorting."…

     The lawsuit also names card manufacturer Gemaco Inc. of Blue Springs, Missouri, who designed the cards….Also named in the lawsuit is a female partner of Ivey's, Cheng Yin Sun, who allegedly gave instructions to the dealer.

     Ivey admitted to using a similar technique in a London casino in 2012….He won 7.3 million pounds, or roughly $12 million, in one session. Ivey sued the casino last July when it refused to pay him.

     Born in California, Ivey moved to New Jersey at a young age. He mastered his craft by playing poker in Atlantic City throughout his teenage years with a fake ID….

"Borgata Sues Poker Pro Phil Ivey Who Allegedly Cheated House for $9.6 Million," NJ.com, April 11, 2014 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Campus Cop Kills Unarmed Student

     New details have emerged in the killing of 23-year-old Texas college student Cameron Redus who was shot five times--and once in the back--by a police officer during a traffic stop. Redus, a student at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, was pulled over by campus police corporal Christopher Carter a few blocks from the student's apartment. Redus had been driving under the influence….

     Al altercation soon broke out between Redus and Carter. According to Carter, Redus successfully wrested Carter's police baton from his hands, though the officer re-acquired it soon after. According to a neighbor who overheard the incident, Carter then instructed Redus to surrender. Redus responded, "Oh, your're gonna shoot me?" in a sarcastic tone. Carter did just that. He shot Redus--who was unarmed--five times….

     The bullets were fired at close range and hit him in the left eye, chest, left elbow, right hip, and back. The shot to the back was likely the one that killed him, according to the autopsy report. Officer Carter is on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation. The university has so far maintained that Carter will return to work in an administrative capacity….

Robby Soave, "'You Going to Shoot Me?' Asked Student Before He Was Shot Five Times, Once in the Back," The Daily Caller, March 24, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Kansas City Highway Sniper Case

     Police say they have linked some of the previously considered random shootings targeting vehicles traveling on Kansas City-area highways over the past month. Kansas City police didn't indicate on April 9, 2014 what led them to that conclusion, but federal authorities are helping investigate 13 shooting incidents between March 8 and April 6, 2014, including three in which drivers were wounded. Ten of the shootings took place in Kansas City, while the other three were in the suburbs of Blue Springs and Lee's Summit, Missouri, and Leawood, Kansas.

     Police say several other possible victims came forward after hearing about the shootings in the media, but it's unclear how many are connected. They also say victims and witnesses have provided inconsistent statements, making it difficult to establish how many of the shootings are related.

"Police: 13 Kansas City Highway Shootings May be Linked," Associated Press, April 10, 2014 

Whackademia Quote: Lacing Brownies With Pot Called Student Prank

     The girl who was arrested last fall for selling marijuana-laced brownies to classmates to raise money for a prom dress, is facing possible further punishment. On April 6, 2014, Saira Munoz, 19, was sentenced to four years probation and nine days in jail on drug charges. With time already served, she did not have to go back to jail.

     Now it turns out she may be in this country illegally and could be deported. Immigration officials say they are reviewing the case and have yet to file deportation proceedings. Last fall, Munoz enlisted the help of a classmate to help her sell the brownies. A customer who was acting erratically after eating one of the brownies on campus was taken to a hospital in a ambulance for observation. Investigators found cannabis in the brownies.

     It was the talk of the campus at Yuba City's River Valley High School [California] when she was arrested on drug charges and for recruiting a 13-year-old to help her sell the brownies. "We have a 13-year-old freshman, so that's bad," student body Vice President Diojot Shergill said. But Shergill also said deportation was too harsh of an outcome. Classmates feel it was more in line with a student prank, even though Munoz did if for cash….According to another student named Dursimrim Kalar, "She should not be deported for making weed brownies. I know lots of students who do that."…

Chris Patterson, "Teen Faces Deportation for Sale of Pot," CBS News, April 10, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Paper Crime Versus Gun Violence

In Mario Puzo's book The Godfather, Don Corleone observed that a dozen men with machine guns are no match for a single lawyer with a briefcase, and he had a point. Far more crimes in America are committed with paper than with guns, and many more times the amount of money and power change hands illegally through a stroke of the pen than through physical violence. Frequently a degree in accounting can be important in becoming an agent of the FBI, and being able to hit a moving target with a pistol or machine gun is far less of a factor in the solution of most crimes than the ability to follow a complex paper trail through to the crooked bottom line.

Dr. Douglas Ubelaker and Henry Scammell, Bones, 1992 

Criminal Justice Quote: Massage Parlor Prostitution Busts

     The message parlor has come to be regarded as a type of illegal brothel and is often located within the neighborhood shopping district. Massage parlors are usually relatively inconspicuous. There's not much publicity or advertisement, and the outer facade of the building is not very ostentatious or enticing to the casual shopper. Frequently, these message parlors advertise through small classified ads in local papers.

     Police employ a method called the duken to close down massage parlors. The duken entails having a plainclothes police detective accost an unsuspecting customer about to enter the parlor. The officer will say something like, "We know who you are and what you are doing here, would you like your wife to find out about it?" Out of fear, the patron will introduce the officer to the employees of the massage parlor as a friend who wishes their services.

     Once the detective gains entry, he plays the part of the customer coming in for the first time. The detective cannot carry a gun, identification cards, handcuffs or any object that would make the owner or employees of the massage parlor suspicious. Like the other patrons the officer then receives a massage.

     Smart prostitution houses always tell their clients to go into a room, remove all their clothes, and wait for their girl. This is because most police departments will not allow their officers to remove their underwear when investigating houses of prostitution. And of course these prostitutes know this.

     At no time may the detective suggest anything of a sexual nature to the masseuse. There must only be solicitation on the woman's part. The masseuse might attempt to sexually arouse the client while massaging him, but at this point there is no cause for arrest. As a enticement to get involved in sexual intercourse or oral sex many of these massage parlors will have televisions showing X-rated movies. Only after the masseuse suggest sexual intercourse or oral sex and states a monetary fee is she liable for arrest. At this time the vice officer may make an arrest even though no sexual intercourse or oral sex took place. Massage parlors usually employ only a few women as masseuses. Approximately two women do the massaging and soliciting. Their ages range from the mid-twenties to the mid-forties.

Mauro V. Corvasce and Joseph R. Paglino, Modus Operandi, 1995 

Criminal Justice Quote: Phrenology

     Junk science is not new. Much of today's junk science may have been yesterday's accepted truths. Consider the case of phrenology. In its heyday it was considered a solid science, the identification of basic brain functions as determined by cranial features. The shape and features of the head and face determined aspects of behavior. In the 1840s there were international conferences of phrenologists as well as professional associations. Today we know this to be quackery. [In the early1920s, police chief August Vollmer, to illustrate to his officers the phoniness of phrenology, invited a noted phrenologist to demonstrate his "science" at the Berkeley, California Police Department. The phrenologist, as he ran his hands over the bald head of a detective posing as a jail inmate, portrayed his subject as a born criminal destined to spend most of his sorry life behind bars.]

Michael Baden, M.D. and Marion Roach, Dead Reckoning, 2001

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jerome Murdough: Mentally Ill Trespasser Baked to Death in Jail Cell

     After graduating from a Queens, New York high school in 1976, Jerome Murdough joined the Marine Corps. He served a tour in Okinawa, Japan before his honorable discharge. Shortly after he returned to New York City, Murdough started drinking heavily and taking drugs. In his thirties, after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, he found himself living on the street and in homeless shelters. He had joined the growing number of mentally ill Americans living on the fringes of urban society. To maintain a semblance of sanity, Murdough had to keep taking his anti-psychotic medication. He also took anti-seizure pills and continued to medicate himself with alcohol.

     Over the years, New York City police officers, on a dozen occasions, arrested Murdough for the misdemeanor offenses of drunk in public, trespassing, and drug possession. On February 7, 2014, a police officer in Harlem, New York arrested the 56-year-old homeless man for trespassing. Murdough had been sleeping in an enclosed stairwell in a public housing project.

     The arresting officer booked Mr. Murdough into Rikers Island, the nation's second largest jail system. At any given time, Rikers Island is the temporary home of 1,200 prisoners, almost half of whom are mentally ill. At his arraignment, the judge assigned Murdough an attorney from the public defender office, and set his bail at a prohibitive $2,500.

     On February 14, 2014, a week into his incarceration, jail officials transferred Murdough to the Anna M. Kross Center, the jail system's massive mental health unit. They placed him into a 6-by-10 foot cinderblock cell at 10:30 that night. Pursuant to jail policy pertaining to prisoners in the mental observation unit, corrections officers were supposed to check on Murdough every fifteen minutes.

     At 2:30 the next morning, four hours after Murdough's transfer to the mental health unit, a corrections officer discovered Murdough dead on his cot. The first thing the guard noticed was the intense heat coming out of the cell. The temperature in the enclosure had risen to well about 100 degrees due to an heating system malfunction.

     While the forensic pathologist with the New York City's Medical Examiner's Office was unable to articulate the exact cause of death without more testing, initial indicators point to extreme dehydration otherwise know as heat stroke. Since psychotropic medications can impair the body's ability to cool itself by sweating, Murdough's prescription regime may have been a contributing factor to his death.

     Jerome Murdough's 75-year-old mother learned of her son's fate a month after he baked to death. She learned of  his passing from a reporter with the Associated Press. Mrs. Murdough hadn't been in contact with her son for three years.

     On April 3, 2014, a spokesperson for New York City's jail system announced that the warden of the mental health unit had been demoted over the incident. Two corrections officer were placed on thirty-day suspensions for not "following basic procedures."

Criminal Justice Quote: The Smell of Death

If you've ever caught the scent of decaying flesh, you haven't forgotten it. The thickly sweet odor of decay is almost overwhelming, especially on a hot day, even to someone accustomed to it. It makes you salivate, and your mouth takes on the sour, metallic taste you'd get from sucking on a copper penny. People sometimes try to use another scent to mask the stench. I tried to mask the odor with skin lotion that I applied to the inside of my mask, but it didn't work. The result was worse than its failure to work; I came to associate the pleasant scent of the lotion with the awful odor of death. Olfactory memory is said to be the strongest of all sensual memories….

Robert Mann, Ph.D. and Miryam Ehrlich Williamson, Forensic Detective, 2006      

Criminal Justice Quotes: Smart Guns, Stupid Idea

     Attorney General Eric Holder wants to explore "common sense" gun reforms, like mandating that gun owners should have to wear bracelets before they could activate their firearms. Holder made his remarks while testifying before a U.S. House of Representatives appropriations committee on Friday April 4, 2014. He acknowledged the existence of the Second Amendment, which gives people the unqualified right to own and carry weapons, but nevertheless expressed support for several gun control measures that he described as "common sense reforms."…

     "One of the things we learned when we were trying to pass those common sense reforms last year…is how guns can be made more safe by making them…talk to a bracelet that you might wear--how guns can be used only by the person who is lawfully in possession of the weapon," said Holder, referring to the so-called "smart gun" technology….[Here's an idea: How about manufacturing even smarter guns that in the hands of an ex-gun felon cannot be discharged as long as he is wearing his mandated bracelet that deactivates all firearms.]

Robby Soave, "Eric Holder Wants Gun Owners to Wear 'Smart Gun' Bracelets," The Daily Caller, April 7, 2014  

Whackademia Quote: The New College Major--Rioting

    An annual celebration at Iowa State University has gotten out of hand with a rowdy crowd overturning cars and knocking down light poles, seriously injuring one student. Police say the crowd began amassing late on the night of April 8, 2014 in the Campustown area in Ames and started pelting officers with rocks and beer cans.

     People in the crowd overturned at least two cars and knocked down two light poles, and one reportedly stuck a student. The injured person eventually had to be airlifted to a Des Moines hospital.

     University president Steven Leath says his university cabinet will gather to evaluate options for the remainder of the week's activities for the annual Veishea celebration, one of the oldest campus traditions, showcasing a variety of educational and entertainment events. [These university administrators should start a new tradition--no more "celebrations." That, of course, will not happen. If it did, the students might riot.]  

Criminal Justice Quote: Street Crime in Rio

On April 9, 2014 a television network was conducting a live interview with a woman about Rio, Brazil's street crime when a robber brazenly ripped a gold chain from her neck.

"How Bad is Brazil's Crime?" NPR, April 10, 2014 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lauren Harrington-Cooper Accused of Sexual Involvements With Four Male High School Students

     In 2013, 31-year-old Lauren Harrington-Cooper earned $45,075 a year as an English teacher and lunch room monitor at Wyoming Valley West High School in Plymouth, Pennsylvania. She and her husband Raphael resided in nearby Kingston, a suburban community across the Susquehanna River from Wiles-Barre in the northeastern part of the state.

     In August 2012, Harrington-Cooper and Raphael started the Cooper Dance Academy that offered instruction in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, ballroom and Zumba dancing. She also held a position as adjunct professor at Misericordia University, a four-year Catholic school in the town of Dallas not far from Wilkes-Barre.

     On December 12, 2013, the parents of an 18-year-old Wyoming Valley West senior informed the school's principal of sexually explicit text messages sent by Harrington-Cooper to their son. When questioned by his parents and the police, the student said his English teacher, during the past week, had performed oral sex on him three times. He also claimed to have engaged in sexual intercourse with her twice.

     Harrington-Cooper, when interviewed by detectives, allegedly admitted picking up the student and driving around with him before they had sex in her vehicle.

     Plymouth police officers and Luzerne County detectives booked Harrington-Cooper into the county jail on December 18, 2013 on the charge of institutional sexual assault. (In Pennsylvania, a teacher who has sex with a student over 18 can be charged with this third-degree felony. A teacher who has sex with a student younger than 16 can be charged with statutory rape. If the victim is between 16 and 18, the appropriate charge is corrupting a minor.) If convicted of institutional sexual assault, Harrington-Cooper could be imprisoned up to seven years. Shortly after her arrest, the judge released the suspect on $25,000 bond.

     Police arrested the English teacher again on January 9, 2014 on charges of corrupting a minor. According to the criminal complaint, Harrington-Cooper, in October and November of 2013, had performed oral sex on a 17-year-old student. The relationship had allegedly started after Harrington-Cooper told one of her female students that she thought the boy was good looking. The male student responded by leaving the teacher a note that included his cell phone number. Following her arrest on this charge, the judge released the suspect on another $25,000 bail.

     On January 22, 2014, Lauren Harrington-Cooper resigned from her Wyoming Valley West teaching job. Six days later, police officers took her into custody again. This time the criminal allegations involved two boys, one 16 and the other 17. The teacher, in October, November, and December 2013, after meeting the 16-year-old boy at a shopping center, allegedly kissed and rubbed against him in her car. She also showed him the butterfly tattoo on her breast.

     The 16-year-old told detectives that he had taken English from Harrington-Cooper in seventh grade then had her again when he was a junior. He said that because they were carrying on in a public place, he was uncomfortable. She allegedly informed him that she was having trouble in her marriage.

     Later on, the teacher asked both boys to delete the sexually explicit text messages she had sent them, noting that they would soon be questioned by the police.

     In the latter case, the Luzerne County prosecutor charged Harrington-Cooper with unlawful sexual contact. The judge released her on $50,000 bail. (She has pleaded not guilty to these latest charges)

     On March 21, 2014, an attorney from Scranton, Pennsylvania named Susan L. Luckenell informed the Wyoming Valley West School District of her intent, on behalf of the 16-year-old boy, to sue them and the former English teacher for their negligence in allowing the teen to become a "victim of sexual abuse." According to the attorney, her client had been damaged and injured as a result of the sexual experience with the adult teacher.

     In response to Luckenell's expression of intent to sue, the school district solicitor said, "I don't see where the district was negligent in any way."

     Lauren Harrington-Cooper, free on bail, awaits her trial on the sex offense charges. According to reports, following her first arrest, she tried to kill herself. There have been no reports regarding the current status of her marriage. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Smart Car Tipping

     How many goofballs does it take to flip over a Smart Car? Andrew Smith wants to know. Early Monday morning, April 7, 2014, he heard a loud racket outside his apartment in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood and thought nothing of it. Then a neighbor knocked on his door and told him that his wife's 2009 Smart Car--all 1,808 pounds of it--was sitting on its roof….

     San Francisco was abuzz over the trail of the tiny two seaters that were turned on their sides. A fourth car had been propped up on its rear end….San Francisco police said car flippers had also struck in the Exceisior neighborhood. One witness…saw about eight hoodie-clad men…pile out of a van and in mere moments flip a car on its side.

     The pranks against the German cars, first manufactured in the late 90s, will be investigated as felony vandalism. The fad began years ago in Amsterdam where Dutch delinquents deposited the vehicles into canals. The fad also has taken root in Canada….

David E. Early, "Smart Car Tipping Takes a Mysterious Turn in San Francisco," San Jose Mercury News, April 8, 2014

     

Criminal Justice Quote: Do Guns Save Lives?

     There are conflicting estimates of the number of individuals who successfully use guns to defend themselves and others. Neither police departments nor the federal government keep such statistics. Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University, has done extensive research into all forms of gun violence. In his widely acclaimed 1991 book, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, Kleck estimates that there are between 400,000 and 500,000 uses of firearms each year for defensive purposes. In recent years, his research has indicated that there may be up to 2.5 million instances of self-defense with firearms annually.

     The vast majority of these confrontations do not end in violence--usually a potential victim merely shows a gun and an aggressor retreats….

Robert A. Waters, The Best Defense, 1998

Criminal Justice Quote: Senator Dingbat On Gun Control

All vets are mentally ill in some way and government should prevent them from owning firearms. [How about: All politicians are crooks, liars, and hacks and should be prevented from passing stupid legislation.]

Senator Dianne Feinstein testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 3, 2014 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wrestling With Unruly Students

     A cell phone video showing a teacher and wrestling coach at Santa Monica High School fighting with a student has gone viral and the teacher and coach have been placed on leave…In a letter to parents, Sandra Lyon, the superintendent of the Santa Monica Unified School District, said the altercation happened in a classroom Friday morning, April 4, 2014.

     "A deeply disturbing incident involving a teacher and student occurred in a classroom at Santa Monica High School, resulting in the Santa Monica Police Department being called to the campus. A number of videos capturing at least a portion of the incident are circulating, and I can tell you from what I witnessed on one of those videos is utterly alarming," Lyon wrote. [Really? Utterly?]

     Lyon added, "Based on what I have viewed, the kind of physical restraint used by the teacher is unacceptable. I have placed the teacher on leave pending the outcome of an independent investigation." CBS Los Angeles reports witnesses said the incident unfolded because the student was openly holding a bag of marijuana. [I would say this is "utterly alarming."]

     When the teacher, who students identified as science teacher Mark Black, tried to confiscate it, the student got physical….There has been an outpouring of support for Black on social media. Many argue it was clear that Black was defending himself. Some said Lyon acted hastily in placing him on leave and called for the superintendent to resign….

"Teacher on Leave After Fight With Student Caught on Video," CBS News, April 7, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Individual Rights Versus the Public Good

     The parents of the child with autism in Hartford, Connecticut, were convinced that he should be in the classroom with other students. He had shown a tendency to be violent at an early age, but by 2002, when in the seventh grade, he was unusually large and increasingly prone to violence. He began attacking other students without provocation. He kicked the teacher and, a few days later, punched her in the face. The school told the parents that he had to be removed to an environment where he couldn't injure others. Asserting their legal rights under federal law, they refused. His conduct grew worse. He bragged about hitting the teacher, and started throwing furniture. The sense of urgency increased. "It is very difficult to control him while he is throwing furniture," the teacher's report stated. "He is a grave danger to other children, paraprofessionals and the teachers."

     The class practiced evacuation drills so that they could move quickly when the attacks started. But no one at the school had the authority to send him to a special educational setting where there was more control. Under federal law, the school had to institute formal legal proceedings and receive a formal order from the judge. The parents, heedless to the terror felt by the other students, demanded that their child stay put. The teacher took a leave of absence. After almost two years of legal hearings and thousands of dollars of expense, the school finally received the final order in the spring of 2004 that the child was unsuited to be in the classroom with other students,

      Fairness is an important goal for Americans. But what happened in Hartford, Connecticut doesn't bear much resemblance to fairness. Disruption is by definition abusive, even if at the hands of someone who can't help himself. But no one in the school had the authority to weigh the needs of the individual against those of the rest of the school community--at least not without drawn-out legal proceedings.

Philip K. Howard, Life Without Lawyers, 2009 

Criminal Justice Quote: Public High-Rise Housing and Crime

     In 1961, Jane Jacobs published a classic book, Death and Life of Great American Cities. Her thesis was that the old urban neighborhoods, despite a bit of crime, were actually good places to live and raise children. She was adamantly opposed to the urban renewal projects that bulldozed these neighborhoods and replaced them with high-rise housing. She felt that the old neighborhoods were built for pedestrians and that life on the street created not only a vibrancy of a living city but also a relatively low crime rate. She anticipated that the new high-rise buildings and streets built for cars but hostile to pedestrians would destroy neighborhood life and ultimately undermine the city as we once knew it.

     In many ways, history has vindicated her ideas. High-rise public housing proved to be a disaster for families with young children, and pedestrian life did indeed die in many central cities. As cities deteriorated, the bulk of people left or tried to leave for the suburbs. Crime rates skyrocketed. The only controversy that remained is whether these changes were the irresistible result of the automotive age or could have been prevented through public policy.

Marcus Felson, Crime & Everyday Life, Second Edition, 1998 

Criminal Justice Quote: Raiding FBI Agents Paw Through Old Man's Artifact Collection

     Dozens of FBI agents and police cars have descended upon the Indiana home of 91-year-old Donald Miller, a world traveler with a massive rare artifacts collection. The raid was in response to government concerns that Miller's collection may violate international treaties. [And we thought terrorism was a problem. Thank God for the FBI watching out for us.]

     Mr. Miller is a popular figure in the Rush County, Indiana community, and his collection has been featured in the local newspaper. Neighbors say that he is a kind old man with a fascinating life story: He worked on the Manhattan Project [the development of the atomic bomb] and visited more than 200 countries….Miller claims that he acquired the items legitimately, by bartering for them. He has always been willing to show visitors his collection.

     But the FBI thinks his collection might violate state and federal laws, as well as international treaties. Agents arrived at the house on April 2, 2014, sorting through the artifacts and trying to determine how each was acquired. It is unknown whether Miller will face criminal charges.

     Members of the community told reporters that Mr. Miller is an icon and his collection a historical landmark. "Leave the old man alone!" said Andi Essex, whose company did work on Miller's house. "He's done so much for people." Essex said she was amazed by Miller's collection when she first saw it. She asked if she could bring her grandfather to the house to see it, and Miller enthusiastically agreed….

     The collection includes a human skeleton and a piece of a Nazi bunker, according to Essex.

Robby Soave, "Your Tax Dollars at Work: FBI Raids 91-Year-Old Man's Rare Artifact Collection," The Daily Caller, April 4, 2014 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Jack Kerouac On Larceny

I suddenly began to realize that everybody in America is a natural born thief.

Jack Kerouac, On The Road, 1957 

Criminal Justice Quote: Most Murder Cases Aren't That Interesting

Sherlock Holmes would have no interest whatever in most of the 22,076 murders reported in the United States in 1994. [That's double today's murder rate.] Only 20 cases involved poison or explosives. Only 22 were by narcotics overdose. Some 78 murders were classified as involving rape. Just 15 involved prostitution and commercialized vice. Sniper attacks make good television, but only two such homicides occurred in the United States in 1994. About 1.7 percent of the murders involved romantic triangles…..Although 1,157 of the murders were classified as juvenile gang killings…the police often overdo their coding of gang involvement. Thus, if a store owner gets shot in a robbery and the offender seemed to be a gang member, many police departments count that incident as a gang murder rather than something more plain. Gang members may be highly criminal, but that does not mean that most of the crimes they commit are of, by, or for the gang itself. Members do most crime for themselves.

Marcus Felson, Crime & Everyday Life, Second Edition, 1998

Criminal Justice Quote: Analyzing Human Bones

     In examining the skeletal remains of a suspected murder victim, a county coroner who is relatively unfamiliar with skeletal anatomy might think he has found cut marks on the bones. He reports them to the police investigators as coming from a knife. A forensic anthropologist who has seen a lot of these cases before is able to interpret the marks differently, and recognizes them as the tooth marks of a scavenging carnivore. The distinctions are extremely fine, but tell that to a presumably innocent man the police are about to charge with murder….

     Experienced forensic anthropologists have examined thousands of bones from all time periods and from all over the world, and are beneficiaries of tens of thousands of examinations made by others in the field. They know what happens to a skeleton after the passage of a month, a decade, a century, two thousand years. They know what happens when a skeleton is left on the prairie after an Indian massacre and buried years later by a passer-by. They can distinguish between evidence of murder and the results of a dog passing by and helping himself….

Dr. Douglas Ubelaker and Henry Scammell, Bones, 1992      

Whackadamia Quote: Let's Do Away With Spring Break

     A popular spring break party near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus turned violent Saturday, April 5, 2014, resulting in more than 50 arrests and 6 injured police officers. Hundreds of law enforcement officers spent Saturday night and early Sunday morning restoring order to the streets of Isla Vista….

     At about 9:30 Saturday night, a campus police officer was hit in the head with a backpack that contained large bottles of alcohol. The violence escalated when a sheriff's deputy was hit in the head with a brick.

     Street signs were vandalized, mattresses set on fire and property, including law enforcement vehicles, were damaged, amid the riot….Authorities used tear gas, pepper spray, flash bang grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. At least 96 people were taken into custody and at least 44 people where hospitalized….

     The riot reportedly bagan after authorities responded to two stabbings in the area, but it's not yet clear what prompted the disturbance….

Jessica Chasmar, "56 Revelers Arrested, 6 Officers Injured in California Spring Break Riot," The Washington Times, April 6, 2014 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Detroit Mob Assaults Steven Utash After His Truck Hits Boy

     At four in the afternoon of April 2, 2014, Steven Utash, a 54-year-old tree trimmer from the Detroit suburb of Roseville, struck a ten-year-old boy while driving his pickup truck home from work on a busy thoroughfare in an east side Detroit neighborhood. The boy was hit when he darted onto the street into the path of the slow moving vehicle. The accident happened near a Clark gas station, a Happy's Pizza place, and a liquor store.

     Immediately after the mishap, Mr. Utash pulled over, jumped out of his truck, and ran to the screaming boy. What unfolded next was caught on a Clark gas station surveillance camera. 

     Ten or more men quickly surrounded Mr. Utash and began punching and kicking him. As he lay on the pavement being beaten, Mr. Utash repeatedly said he was sorry and pleaded with his attackers to stop. With his wallet, paycheck and cash gone, and his cellphone and equipment stolen from his truck, the bloodied Mr. Utash stumbled toward the gas station to get help. One man who tried to help him was himself assaulted by the mob. 

     Paramedics transported the ten-year-old to St. John's Hospital where a doctor treated him for scrapes, bruises, a swollen lip, and a sore foot. None of the boy's bones had been broken. Under the circumstances, his injuries were minor and he would be fine. 

     At the same  hospital, Physicians placed Mr. Utash into an induced coma. According to reports, he suffered serious brain injury that will require a prolonged period of recovery. 

     Outraged citizens in the Detroit area, through an Internet program called Go Fund Me, raised on Mr. Utash's behalf, $96,000 in just a few days. The campaign has drawn more than 2,000 donors. The hard working victim of the unprovoked vigilante attack earns a modest living, and does not have health care insurance. It is estimated that Mr. Utash's hospital costs are $20,000 a day. 

     On April 5, 2014, Detroit police officers arrested two teenage boys believed to have been involved in the gang assault. The unnamed suspects are 16 and 18-years-old. In the wake of the attack, Detroit police chief Mike Duggan asked residents of the east side neighborhood to remain calm, and people outraged by the assault to have patience while detectives work to identify all of the attackers and thieves.

     In June 2014, one of the suspects, 18-year-old Bruce Wimbush, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.

     Although Mr. Utash is white and all of his attackers are black, the chief of police said the crime was not motivated by race. Many people consider that analysis nothing more than politically correct rhetoric.  If Mr. Utash had been black, would he have been so viciously attacked and robbed? If Mr. Utash were black and all of his attackers white, would the media race baiters be out in full force? This is a disturbing case.