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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The Difference Between a Jurist and a Juror

     A jurist is anyone (judge, lawyer, or scholar) learned in the law: "The jurist was an expert in American constitutional law."

     A juror is a member of a jury: "A juror is supposed to apply the law to given factual situations and is not expected to be a Jurist."

Rod L. Evans, The Artful Nuance, 2009 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Horse Tail and Mane Thief

     State police searched for a suspect who cut the manes and tails from three horses at a western Pennsylvania horse complex. Horse hair is used to make jewelry and tail and mane extensions for show horses. Their hair can be used to make brushes, violin bows, hat bands and wigs.

     The thief struck during the lunch hour on February 18, 2015 when the horses were unattended in a open field along a road in Jefferson Township, Butler County. It takes years for horses to grow back their manes and tails. [I guess they'll need extensions now.]

"Police Seek Suspect Who Cut Off Tails, Manes From Horses," Associated Press, February 24, 2015 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On The Relationship Between His Life And His Writing

I've been drinking too much lately and have made plans to cut it down somewhat. Also there have been some rough seas on the home front. Everything seems to get in the way of the writing but maybe it creates it too.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1971-1986, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Writing Quote: Good Science Fiction Is Hard To Write

     As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, and on behalf of all the variations and sub-genres such as urban fantasy, alternate history and steampunk which collectively make up "speculative fiction," I'd argue that genre fiction is different from literary fiction.

     Whether it's dealing with  ray guns and rocket ships, swords, sorcery or fur and fangbangers, speculative fiction's unifying, identifying characteristic is that it doesn't attempt to mimic real life in the way that literary fiction does. It stands apart from the world we know. It takes us away to an entirely secondary realm, be that Middle Earth or Westeros, or to an alternate present where vampires and werewolves really do exist and you ring 666 to report a supernatural crime…

     Speculative fiction can be considerably harder to write than literary fiction…When readers are paying close attention to every hint and clue, the writer needs to have internal logic, consistency of character and scene-setting absolutely nailed down. Readers have to be convinced that this unfamiliar world is solidly real if they're ever going to suspend disbelief and accept the unreal, whether that's magic and dragons or faster-than-light travel.

Juliet McKenna, The Guardian, April 18, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Future of Investigative Journalism Is Uncertain

     Investigative reporting in America did not begin with Watergate. But it became entrenched in American journalism--and has been steadily spreading around the world--largely because of Watergate.

     Now, 40 years after Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein wrote their first stories about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington's Watergate office building, the future of investigative reporting is at risk in the chaotic digital reconstruction of journalism in the United States. Resource-intensive investigative reporting has become a burden for shrunken newspapers struggling to reinvent themselves and survive. Nonprofit start-ups seeking to fill the gap are financially fragile themselves, with their sustainability uncertain.

Leonard Downie Jr., The Washington Post, June 7, 2012 

Writing Quote: The Appeal of Scandinavian Crime Fiction

     The detectives in Scandinavian crime fiction share many attributes with their American and British counterparts. Many are unkempt, unhealthy and sometimes fatalistic characters, but are nevertheless humane and brilliant sleuths. They doggedly pursue the criminal element, usually (but not always) winning the day at the expense of maintaining a normal family or social life. Some are alcoholics whose human interactions are limited to station and squad car. Some even develop relationships with the victims, or even worse, the criminal.

     Key to the appeal of Scandinavian crime literature is the stoic nature of its detectives and their peculiarly close relationship with death. One conjures up a brooding Bergmanesque figure contemplating the long dark winter. Another narrative component just as vital is the often bleak Scandinavian landscape which serves to mirror the thoughts of the characters. Ancient stone and dark shores inhabit these stories such that the landscape becomes an important narrative agent, even a character itself. Readers will also find fascinating the supernatural strain pervading this literature: Ancient beliefs in ghosts, changelings, and other natural spirits thrive in contemporary Nordic noir.

Jeremy Megraw, nypl.org, January 14, 2013 

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Glen Hochman Murder-Suicide Case

     In January 2015, 52-year-old Glen Hochman took a disability retirement from the White Plains Police Department after missing four months of work due to an ankle injury suffered while helping a motorist. Hochman had been on the suburban New York City force 22 years. He resided in an upper-middle-class home in Harrison, a small town twenty miles northeast of Manhattan with his wife Anamarie DiPietro-Hochman and their three daughters and three dogs. Following his retirement, Glen Hochman and his wife had engaged in a "family discussion" about separating.

     At nine-thirty in the morning of Friday February 20, 2015, Anamarie Hochman visited the Harrison Police Department where she reported that she and her husband had just had an argument over an $80 cellphone bill. Because he hadn't threatened her and didn't became violent, she asked the department not to act on this information. She said she was merely "documenting" the incident.

     Later on the day Anamarie went to the police department, she, her oldest daughter, and a friend left Harrison by car on an overnight excursion to an area casino. That left two of her daughters--17-year-old Alissa, a Harrison High School senior and Deanna, a 13-year-old student at the Windward School in White Plains--at home with their father.

     The next day, Saturday February 21, at three-fifty in the afternoon, Alissa's boyfriend, at Anamarie's request, went to the Hochman house to check on the girls. In the garage he found Mr. Hochman lying dead on the floor with a pistol in his hand. (A .40-caliber Glock pistol.)

     The stunned boyfriend called Mrs. Hochman who was driving home from the casino. He then dialed 911. Anamarie's friend, a passenger in her car, called 911 as well.

     At the Hochman residence, officers with the Harrison Police Department, in addition to Mr. Hochman, discovered the bodies of Alissa and Deanna in their rooms. The girls had been shot in the head at close range. The family pets had been shot to death as well.

     On Sunday February 22, Harrison Police Chief Anthony Marraccina, without saying it directly at the press conference, revealed that Glen Hochman had killed his daughters, shot the dogs, then committed suicide. He had left behind a 5-page note that explained why he had "taken his daughters away."

     According to Chief Marraccini, Glen Hochman had no history of mental illness or domestic violence and was not in financial trouble. The chief, however, did not reveal the exact contents of the suicide note. Autopsies were performed by a forensic pathologist with the Westchester County Medical Examiner's Office. Friends and relatives of the family said they had not seen this coming.

     

Criminal Justice Quote: Man In Czech Republic Killed Eight In Restaurant Before Killing Himself

     A man armed with a gun killed eight people at a restaurant in the town of Uhersky Brod in the eastern Czech Republic near Zlin…The shooter then killed himself…Authorities didn't know the identify or motivation of the assailant. However, they do not believe the incident was terror related…

     The attacker was a local man in his 60s…He rushed into the restaurant just after noon on February 24, 2015 and fired multiple times before using the gun to kill himself…Two other people were wounded in the shooting. Uhersky Bond, a town of 50,000, is located near the border with Slovakia.

"8 Killed In Czech Restaurant Shooting," CNN, February 24, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Drunk On Ice

     A Fargo, North Dakota man accused of being drunk while operating a Zamboni ice-grooming machine on January 30, 2015 during a high school hockey game has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence. [If I were his attorney I'd argue that one "operates" not "drives" a Zamboni "machine."More over, DUI laws pertain to motor vehicles, forms of transportation on public highways. I'd probably lose, but as a lawyer you've got to do something.]

     Steve Anderson allegedly was drunk while preparing the ice for a girl's hockey game. Spectators alerted South Sports Arena officials that Anderson was driving the Zamboni into the boards and appeared impaired. Police say Anderson's blood-alcohol level was 0.30, nearly four times the legal limit for driving. [Let's hope he's not also the driver of the team bus.]

     The 27-year-old could face up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

"Man Pleads Not Guilty To Drunk Zamboni Driving," Associated Press, February 20, 2015 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Literary Critics

On punching out critics, no don't do it, unless you do it in play-form. It's all viewpoint, you know. And most viewpoints are pretty damned standard-form. And how does one become a critic? You know somebody in power who gives you the job.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Writing Quote: What is "Slipstream Fiction"?

The weaving of the real and unreal is part of a fast-growing strain of fiction some call slipstream. The label slipstream encompasses writing that slips in and out of conventional genres, borrowing from science fiction, fantasy and horror. The approach, sometimes also called "fantastika," "interstitial" and "the new weird," often combines the unexpected with the ordinary.

Anna Russell, The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2014 

Writing Quote: Is Investigative Journalism In Its Golden Age?

     The news about news is often grim. Newspapers are shrinking, folding up, or being cut loose by their parent companies. Layoffs are up and staffs are down. That investigative reporter who covered the state capitol--she's not there anymore. Newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune have suffered from multiple rounds of layoffs over the years…But despite a long run of journalistic tough times, the loss of advertising dollars, and the challenge of the Internet, there's been a blossoming of investigative journalism across the globe from Honduras to Myanmar, New Zealand to Indonesia.

     Woodward and Bernstein may be a fading memory in this country, but journalist with names largely unknown in the U.S…are breaking one blockbuster story after another, exposing corrupt government officials and their crony corporate pals in Azerbaijan, Angola, and Costa Rica…

     "We are in a golden age of investigative journalism," says Sheila Coronel. And she should know. Now the academic dean at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Coronel was the director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, whose coverage of the real estate holdings of former President Joseph Estrada--including identical houses built for his mistresses--contributed to his removal from office in 2001.

     There are, to take another example, the halcyon days for watchdog journalism in Brazil. In October 2013, at an investigative journalism conference there organized by the Global Journalism Investigative Network, there were 1,350 attendees.

Anya Schiffrin, salon.com, August 31, 2014 

Writing Quote: Raymond Chandler On The Hard-Boiled Detective Novel Protagonist

     "Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean," Raymond Chandler wrote in his article, "The Simple Art of Murder" which could be called the manifesto of the American hard-boiled detective novel. This man, the detective, "is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of and certainly without saying it."

     It's a worthy aesthetic, and Chandler was certainly the master of it, even back in 1944, when he wrote "The Simple Art of Murder." The essay was a repudiation of the English school of murder mystery--best represented by Agatha Christie--or, more specifically, the countless American knockoffs thereof, genteel, stilted puzzles set in "Miami hotels and Cape Code summer colonies," rather than manor houses. Chandler held up Dashiell Hammett as the exemplar of what he referred to as the new "realist" school of crime fiction, yet Chandler was Hammett's equal, if not his superior in the style that would also become known as noir.

Laura Miller, salon.com, September 7, 2014 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Florida Cop Might Be Charged With Abuse of Homeless Man

     Authorities in Fort Lauderdale are considering filing criminal charges against an officer who was videotaped pushing and slapping a homeless man at a bus terminal. The incident happened on February 23, 2015 and the video soon surfaced on YouTube. Officer Victor Ramirez, a nine-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, has been suspended without pay.

     The video shows the officer holding the man's arm, then pushing him to the ground. The officer tells the man to get up and slaps him in the face. Police identified the man as Bruce Laclair. Laclair has been charged with trespassing.

     Police Chief Frank Adderley said that in addition to looking at possible charges against the officer, the agency will review its use-of-force policy. [Why? Surely every cop with a brain knows that you don't go around pushing and slapping people for the hell of it.]

"In Video, Officer Pushes, Slaps Man at Florida Bus Terminal," ABC News, February 25, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Arrest Counterterrorism Official With State Department For Soliciting Sex With A Minor

     A senior State Department official in charge of counterterrorism programs was arrested after allegedly soliciting sex from a minor. Daniel A. Rosen, who is the State Department's director of counterterrorism programs and policy, was arrested on a charge of using a communications device to solicit a juvenile. Investigators believe Rosen, 44, had been communicating online with a female detective from a police child exploitation unit posing as a minor. Officers arrested him at his home and transported him to a Washington, D.C. jail.

     According to Rosen's Linkedin page, he is responsible, at the State Department, for all "strategic planning, policy planning, program and budget planning and oversight, and legislative relations and interaction" associated with the agency's counterterrorism program.

"Senior State Dept. Official Accused Of Soliciting Sex From Minor," UPI, February 25, 2015 

Writing Quote: Was Raymond Chandler A Literary Novelist?

The fact that some genre writers write better than some of their literary counterparts doesn't automatically consecrate their books. Although a simile by Raymond Chandler and by the legion of his imitators is the difference between a live wire and a wet noodle, Chandler's novels are not quite literature. The assessment is Chandler's own, tendered precisely because he was literary. "To accept a mediocre form and make something like literature out of it is in itself rather an accomplishment." So it is. And there are a number of such accomplishments by the likes of Patricia Highsmith, Charles McCarry, Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, and dozens of others.

Arthur Krystal, The New Yorker, October 24, 2012 

Writing Quote: The Relationship Between Science and Science Fiction

     There is a co-dependency between science and science fiction. Many scientists and engineers acknowledge that science fiction helped to spark their imagination of what was possible in science…

     Sometimes science fiction authors just make things up, but untutored imaginings tend not to make the best science fiction. As JBS Haldane put it: "the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." We need scientific input to sustain a rich science fictional imagination…

     Some science fiction writers are (or were until retirement) full-time scientists and academic researchers in their own right. Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, who coined the term "Big Bang", claimed to write his science fiction in order to publish ideas that would not fit into scientific journals. Back in the 1960s, Fred Pohl edited The Expert Dreamers and Groff Conklin edited Great Science Fiction by Scientists, with stories by George Gamow, JBS Haldane, Fred Hoyle, Julian Huxley, Norbet Weiner, and others. Some authors who were originally researchers have been successful enough to quit the day job in favor of fiction…

     Not all science fiction writers have science PhDs. Many of the Golden Age writers had little formal education. James White, for example wanted to be a medical doctor, but couldn't afford the training; that didn't stop him writing the marvelous alien doctors in space series called Sector General. Many science fiction writers have arts and humanities backgrounds, yet manage to write good hard science-based science fiction.

Susan Stepney, The Guardian, January 21, 2015


Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski's Fan Mail

I get many of my letters from people in madhouses and jails and some from strange people out of them. What they say, mainly, is that I have given them a reason for going on: "Since you are so screwed-up, Bukowski, and still around, there is a chance for me." But I don't write to save people; I dislike most of them. I feel best when I am totally alone. I've tried to answer most of my letters, especially from people in the madhouses but I found that an answer just brings another letter, a longer one and a stranger one.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1971-1986, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Writing Quote: Are Literary Fiction Writers Better Than Genre Authors?

     All of the most prestigious awards for fiction each year are given to the works of literary fiction, which makes it sometimes easy to say that writers who write literary novels are better writers.

     In reality, neither of the two categories of writers necessarily deserve the distinction of being better writers. Different writers is a better word choice…

     Is essence, the best genre fiction contains great writing, with the goal of telling a captivating story to escape from reality. Literary fiction is comprised of the heart and soul of a writer's being, and is experienced as an emotional journey through the symphony of words, leading to a stronger grasp of the universe and of ourselves.

Steven Petite, huffingtonpost.com, April 28, 2014 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Brittany Killgore Sex Dungeon Murder Case

     After two years of marriage to Lance Corporal Cory Killgore, 22-year-old Brittany Killgore, on April 11, 2012, filed for divorce. The Marine was serving in Afghanistan. Brittany lived in Fallbrook, California, a San Diego County town of 38,000 not far from Camp Pendleton, the U.S. Marine base.

     At two in the afternoon on Saturday, April 14, 2012, one of Brittany Killgore's friends called the San Diego County Sheriff's Office to report her missing. The caller had last seen Killgore at 7 PM the day before when she stopped by her friend's apartment to borrow a dress. Killgore said she was going on a date with a 45-year-old Marine staff sergeant named Louis Ray Perez who was picking her up in less than an hour. They were going into downtown San Diego.

     At 7:45 that Friday evening, the friend received a text message from Killgore's cellphone that read, "Help." The friend texted back, "What? R U okay?" When Brittany didn't respond, the friend texted, "Brittany are U okay? I am freaking out here." At 8:05 PM the friend received another message from Killgore's cellphone that read, "Yes I love this party." The worried friend considered this text suspicious because Killgore always used the word "yeah" instead of "yes" in her text messaging. That was the last the friend heard from Killgore's phone. (A transient in downtown San Diego later found Killgore's cellphone in the doorway of a Comfort Inn.)

     A detective with the San Diego Sheriff's Office called Sergeant Louis Perez (who didn't have a criminal record) and asked if he'd come in for questioning regarding the Killgore missing persons case. Perez said he would and showed up at the sheriff's office shortly after the call.

     According to the 16-year veteran of the Marine Corps, he had gone to Killgore's apartment at four o'clock Friday afternoon to help her pack for her upcoming move to another place. He asked her if she'd like to go out on a dinner-dance boat that evening in downtown San Diego. Killgore declined, saying that she was tired. Soon after Perez left Killgore's apartment at 5:10 PM, she sent him a text saying she had changed her mind. Perez returned to her place at 7:30 for the date.

     According to the Marine's statement, he dropped Brittany off in downtown San Diego in front of a club called the Whisky Girl Night while he looked for a place to park. Fifteen minutes later, when he arrived at the club on foot, he couldn't find her. Perez looked around for 30 minutes, then headed home to the house he shared in Fallbrook with his girlfriend, 36-year-old Dorothy Grace Marie Maraglino and her friend, Jessica Lynn Lopez, 25.

     The deputy who interviewed Perez that afternoon asked if he could take a look inside the white Ford Explorer the Marine had driven to the sheriff's office. Perez said he had no problem with that.

     The first thing the detective noticed about Perez's car was the fresh mud caked on the underside of the vehicle and in its wheel wells. The Marine's shoes were also muddy. Perez told the officer that the car had gotten that way when he recently collected firewood near Camp Pendleton. The deputy took a plastic bag from inside the car that contained a pair of blue latex gloves which appeared to be blood-stained. (A presumptive luminal test confirmed it was blood and later DNA analysis identified the blood as Brittany Killgore's.) Perez also possessed a stun gun that had a human hair follicle attached to it. At this point in the investigation, Sergeant Perez became a suspect in Brittany Killgore's disappearance and possible murder. The deputy, after recovering a stolen AR 15 assault rifle from Perez's Ford Explorer, arrested him on a charge of theft. The "person of interest" in the Killgore case was taken to jail where he was incarcerated under $500,000 bond.

     From Perez's cellphone, investigators collected messages sent from his phone to Killgore's. The first message, sent at 9:20 PM on Friday, April 13, almost two hours after Killgore's "help" text, said, "Your friends are calling me worried." Later that evening, at a time investigators believe Killgore was dead, Perez had texted, "Now I am worried too."

     When the San Diego detectives questioned the suspect's housemate, Dorothy Maraglino, the 37-year-old said Perez had returned home Friday night sometime between 10 PM and midnight. He remained in the Fallbrook house until he left for San Diego the next day in response to the call from the sheriff's office.

     On April 15, 2012, San Diego deputies searched the Perez/Maraglino/Lopez house in Fallbrook where they suspected Brittany Killgore had been murdered. The searchers discovered that one of the rooms in the dwelling had been set up as a "sex dungeon" equipped with a variety of "sex apparatuses, toys, and tools" such as handcuffs, whips, leather restraints, and chain shackles. When asked about this sadomasochistic playroom, Dorothy Maraglino and Jessica Lopez explained that they participated in erotic master-servant and master-slave role-playing. Dorothy identified herself as the dominatrix and said that Louis Perez enjoyed spanking women.

     The Killgore missing persons/murder investigation took an even more bizarre turn on April 16, 2012 when investigators learned that master Dorothy and her slave Jessica had checked into the Ramada Inn located in the Point Loma section of San Diego. Deputies showed up at room 105 at 9:30 that morning. Lopez, in a drowsy voice, told the officers she was too exhausted to come to the door to let them in. When a deputy cracked the door open as far as the interior door chain would allow, the officer saw blood on the floor. Another officer kicked the door open and the police stormed into the motel room.

     The sheriff's deputies found Jessica Lopez, naked from the waist up and covered in blood from self-inflicted superficial knife wounds on her neck and wrists. (Maraglino had left the motel.) A message in lipstick scrawled on the mirror above the dressing table read: "PIGS READ THIS." Below this message lay a 7-page, handwritten murder confession signed by Jessica Lopez.

     In the confession, Lopez admitted using a ligature, in the sex dungeon in the Fallbrook house, to strangle Brittany Killgore to death. She killed the victim out of fear Louis Perez would be seduced by her. After half-hearted attempts to dismember Killgore's body, Lopez doused the naked body with bleach to destroy physical evidence. She wrote that she "hid the body of that whore in almost plain sight" near Lake Skinner, noting that the police would find handcuff marks on the victim's wrists. Lopez said she had deposited the knife she had used in her attempts to "chop her up" in a beach restroom in Oceanside. The police would also find a pair of handcuffs with the knife. In her statement/suicide note, Lopez said she was taking full responsibility for Killgore's murder.

     At 2:30 that afternoon, searchers located Killgore's naked remains lying in the brush along the side of a road near Riverside County's Lake Skinner, 23 miles north of Fallbrook. The police arrested Jessica Lopez on April 17, 2012 on the charge of first-degree murder. Louis Perez, already in custody on the gun theft case, was charged with first-degree murder as well. Dorothy Maraglino, also charged with first-degree murder, was taken into custody on May 10, 2012. The three suspects were held on $3 million bond and all pleaded not guilty.

     At a Killgore murder case preliminary hearing that got underway on March 11, 2013 in Vista County Superior Court, the victim's best friend Elizabeth Hernandez testified that she and Killgore became acquainted with Marine Sergeant Louis Perez, Jessica Lopez, and Dorothy Maraglino in 2011 after Hernandez responded to an ad selling a fertility monitor on a website used by military families. Hernandez said she befriended Maraglino because the two of them were trying to get pregnant. After that, Brittany Killgore regularly visited the house where Maragalino resided with Lopez.

     Hernandez testified that Perez, Lopez, and Maragalino openly discussed their sexual lifestyle that involved Perez as the master, Maragalino as the mistress, and Lopez as the slave. In their sex dungeon they had painted a giant spider web on the wall and bars on the ceiling. According to the preliminary hearing witness, Hernandez and Killgore made it clear they were not going to participate in the sex games.

     In 2012, Elizabeth Hernandez and Killgore had a falling out. At that time, Killgore was preparing to divorce her husband, Lance Corporal Cory Killgore. Hernandez testified that she discussed the souring of their friendship with Louis Perez, Lopez and Maragalino. After that, Lopez and Maragalino began referring to Killgore as "the disease" and "herpes." According to Hernandez, Perez and Maragalino said they could get rid of Killgore but they wouldn't because they knew Hernandez would miss her. Hernandez said she thought they were joking.

     On March 14, 2013, Deputy Medical Examiner Craig Nelson testified that the victim had been strangled with some kind of ligature and that her body had been moved to where it was found near Lake Skinner. The forensic pathologist said their were two marks on Killgore's neck and tiny hemorrhages in her eyes that indicated strangulation as the cause of death. Dr. Nelson had also discovered cuts on the victim's left wrist and left knee that suggested that someone had attempted to dismember the body. The cut to the left leg was so deep it reached the bone. The bone contained tool marks that indicated a saw had been used in the dismemberment attempt. This had occurred postmortem.

     A woman followed Dr. Nelson to the stand who said she had lived in the Maraglino house for three months in late 2010. According to this witness, she had been Maraglino's sex slave for a time and knew that Maraglino and Louis Perez enjoyed choking their sex partners.

     On March 16, 2013, Vista Superior Court Judge K. Michael Kirkman ruled that the prosecution in the Killgore case had presented enough evidence against the defendants to justify a murder trial.

     On April 8, 2014, murder defendant Dorothy Maragalino, represented by the fourth attorney assigned to her since 2012, was back in court filing motions that would delay the progress of the case. Initially, Maragalino had insisted on representing herself then changed her mind. After dismissing her next two lawyers, the judge assigned her a public defender who asked to be removed from the case, Attorney Jane Kinsey, the fourth defense attorney, needed more time to prepare. Judge Kirkman granted the motion.

     That April, Jessica Lopez's attorney, Sloan Ostby, asked the judge for more time to study the 7,345 pages of documents he had demanded from the prosecution on discovery. Ostby said he also had to review 165 DVDs that had been supplied by the state. The judge granted this motion.

     Attorney Brad Patton, representing Louis Perez, the accused sex dungeon master, filed a series of pretrial motions in 2014 that slowed progress in the case. On December 12, 2014, perhaps in an attempt to move things along, the district attorney's office announced it would not seek the death penalty against the defendants.

     On June 6, 2015, at a pre-trial hearing, Judge Kirkman denied a motion by defense attorney Sloan Ostby to exclude writings by Jessica Lopez that described, in detail, the victim's torture, murder, and dismemberment. Attorney Ostby, characterizing the writings as the product of his client's fantasies, argued that the material was so gruesome it would unduly prejudice a jury. Judge Kirkman said he would allow the writings into evidence with some restrictions of the most disturbing parts.

     The handwritten "Pigs Read This" document had been found in the hotel room along with Jessica Lopez's suicide note. In denying the motion to completely suppress this evidence, Judge Kirkman said, "It is a document that very much has relevance."

     In earlier court related statements, prosecutor Patrick Espinoza compared the defendants to the Manson family. Defense attorneys objected to this and asked the judge to forbid such comparisons in the future. Judge Kirkman granted that request.

     On August 14, 2015, the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office released its Brittany Killgore autopsy report. The document confirmed that Killgore had been strangled. Moreover, attempts had been made to dismember her body. The victim was initially identified by a small tattoo on her left wrist. According to notes made by Deputy San Diego Medical Examiner Dr. Craig Nelson, "On the left side of the [victim's] neck and face were two small, paired brown marks that were suggestive of use of an electrical weapon…The victim's left knee had a large, but bloodless, incised would suggestive of attempted dismemberment."

     On September 8, 2015, in Vista, California, jury selection began in the Dorothy Maraglino, Louis Perez, and Jessica Perez murder trial.

     

Criminal Justice Quote: "Outlaw" Versus "Scofflaw"

     An outlaw is a lawless person or a fugitive from the law: "Jesse James was an outlaw, whose crimes inspired many books."

     A scofflaw is a contemptuous lawbreaker--especially of minor laws such as parking regulations: "The scofflaw had four parking tickets and ignored them all."

Rod L. Evans, The Artful Nuance, 1997 

Criminal Justice Quote: A Violent Way To Reduce Prison Overcrowding

     An inmate killed his cellmate at a Pennsylvania prison because he wanted his own private cell. Forty-five-year-old Lawrence Peterson Jr., formerly of Easton, will now serve a life sentence on top of the 40-to 80-year term he had been serving for a violent robbery.

     Clearfield County District Attorney Bill Shaw said he had planned to pursue the death penalty but decided to skip the trial after Peterson, on February 21, 2015, said he wanted to plead guilty to first-degree murder and take a life sentence. The beating death of inmate William Keitel, 59, took place on August 2, 2013. Keitel died nine days later in the infirmary at the state prison in Houtzdale.

"Cellmate Killed Man So He Could Have His Own Cell," Associated Press, February 23, 2015 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Humor

Humor is good when it stems from the truth. In fact, truth alone is often humorous. But the humor of artifice--whose worst device is exaggeration--always makes me a little ill because it is just another con game…I suppose that the worst is Bob Hope with his flip little cute exaggerations and his name droppings. I don't keep up much with the world and he drops these names I never heard of, all supposing to mean something.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1965-1970, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Writing Quote: What Is "Literary Fiction"?

     "Genre fiction" is a nasty phrase--when did genre turn into an adjective? But I object to the term for a different reason. It was clever marketing by publishers to set certain contemporary fiction apart and declare it Literature--and therefore important art and somehow better than genre writing.

     The term sneaks back into the past in an anachronistic way, so that, for example, Jane Austen's works are described as literary fiction. This is nonsense. Can anyone think for a moment that were she writing today she'd be published as literary fiction? No, and not because she'd end up under romance, but because she writes comedy, and literary fiction, with rare exception, does not include comedy. [Literary novels are humorless. Perhaps that's why they call it "serious fiction."]

     Jane Austen never for a moment imagined she was writing literature. Posterity decided that, not her. She wrote fiction to entertain and to make money which is what we novelists have been doing ever since. Perhaps in our serious and solemn way, we ask fiction to bear a burden it was never intended to carry.

Elizabeth Edmondson, The Guardian, April 21, 2014 

Writing Quote: Joyce Carol Oates On Getting An Idea For A Short Story

A novel is so much more difficult than a short story. If you run, it's almost like you can think through your whole short story before you finish running. With a novel, it's almost impossible to do that.

Joyce Carol Oates, Where I've Been, And Where I'm going, 1999

Writing Quote: The Silent Novelist

No novelist has ever lived who did not at some time get stuck. And for every writer in working trim there may be a dozen persons of great ability who are somehow self-silenced. At long intervals they turn out remarkable fragments--embryo stories--but they cannot seem to pull themselves together and finish anything.

Jacques Barzum, On Writing, Editing and Publishing, 1986 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Sex Offenders Are Being Murdered In California's State Prison System

     California state prisoners are killed at a rate that is double the national average--and sex offenders account for a disproportionate number of victims, according to an Associated Press analysis of correction records.

     Male sex offenders made up about 15 percent of the prison population but accounted for nearly 30 percent of homicide victims, the AP found in cataloging all 78 killings officials reported since 2007…The deaths--23 out of 78--came despite the state's creation more than a decade ago of special housing units to protect the most vulnerable inmates, including sex offenders, often marked men because of the nature of their crimes. In some cases they have been killed among the general population, and in others, within the special units by violence-prone cellmates. Correction officials acknowledge that those units, places that also house inmates trying to quit gangs, have spawned their own gangs.

    Officials blamed a rise in the prison homicide rate on a state corrections system overhaul meant to reduce crowding. As part of the effort, California in 2011 began keeping lower-level offenders in county lockups, leaving the prisons with a higher percentage of sex offenders and gang members…

     The problem is most acute with sex offenders. In the fall of 2014, the corrections department inspector general reported that so many homicides occurred in the "increasingly violent" special housing units reserved for vulnerable inmates that the department could no longer assume that inmates there could peacefully co-exist.

"Many Sex Offenders Killed By Inmates in California Prisons," Associated Press, February 17, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: If You Don't Have A Gun, Pick Up A Knife. If You Don't Have A Knife, Pick Up a Brick

     A nursing home worker in China was accused on February 21, 2015 of killing three elderly residents and injuring 15 with a brick. Luo Renchu, 64, had argued with his boss over unpaid wages prior to his assault on elderly residents and staff at the privately run home in the central part of the country…The attack happened on February 19 after an argument over 40,000 yuan in unpaid wages. Luo and his wife, who also works at the home, had been promised 10,000 yuan before the start of the Chinese New Year which started two days before.

     The nursing home owner's mother and brother were among the 15 assaulted. Six others were in life-threatening condition…Police were searching for the accused assailant.

"Nursing Home Worker Allegedly Killed 3 Elderly Residents in China With Brick," Fox News, February 21, 2015 

Writing Quote: Horror, The Least Literary Branch Of Speculative Fiction

For awhile now, so-called "literary" and "genre" fiction have been moving from outright opposition to a cautious rapprochement. Literary writers such as Jonathan Lethem, Donna Tatt and Michael Chabon increasingly deploy tropes and images from genre, while genre writers have upped their stakes considerably in terms of complexity, moral resonance and style. Sophie Hannah, Josh Bazell and Denise Mina have reinvented crime fiction; Charles Yu, Iain M. Banks and M. John Harrison have given a literary uplift to science fiction; while China Mieville, Jeff VanderMeer and Kelly Link have done the same for fantasy. But horror--the third aspect of "speculative fiction"--has had markedly less success in this regard.

Stuart Kelly, The Guardian, November 7, 2012 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Readers Expect Something New

     Different people read for different reasons, but to reproduce the mundane circumstances of their everyday lives is generally not one of them. There are literary writers who understand this and those who don't--hence the preponderance of divorce novels, teen angst novels, dealing-with-aging parent novels etc, that do little more than take us to where we've already been and tell us what we already know.

     Those who write science fiction and other forms of speculative fiction generally understand that while what we know and understand has its charms, the reason most of us read is to experience something fundamentally new.

Susan Defreitas, litreactor.com, September 24, 2014 

Writing Quote: Kurt Vonnegut On Writing Students

I wish my students could write simply and clearly, and keep a story moving as well. They are damned if they will tell a story simply and directly, and I have discovered the reason for this. It is not the fault of their previous teachers. It is their own fault: they have no stories to tell. I am going to take them on walks, and make them look at people. I have just ordered them to buy a book, which is to be the core text for my workshop. The book? That Steichen collection of photographs, The Family of Man

Kurt Vonnegut in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Magazine Publishers

I've followed this writing game a long time. Strange thing. Take a guy who has been editing a magazine. You see him published here and there. Then he decides to stop publishing his mag and devote himself to his "art." He then vanishes and is never heard from. He's no longer there to play you publish me and I'll publish you. And this happens as well with the magazines of more expensive format and a larger readership. What the hell does this tell you?

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Cheye Calvo Drug Raid: Trigger-Happy Dog Killers

     On July 28, 2008, drug traffickers in Los Angeles sent, by Federal Express, a box containing 32 pounds of marijuana to an address in Berwyn Heights, Maryland, a town of 3,000 ten miles north of Washington, D.C. The people who lived at that address had nothing to do with the shipment. The address was a delivery drop site where an accomplice would pick up the package before someone at the site took it inside. Ideal drop locations were homes occupied by childless couples who worked during the day. It also helped if the house had a front porch and at least one of the drug conspirators worked for the package delivery company.

     This particular marijuana delivery operation fell apart when, at a FedEx facility in Arizona, a drug dog made a hit on the parcel. The authorities in Arizona, after notifying the Prince George's County Police Department, resealed the box and sent it on its way. In Maryland, at the FedEx station station in Beltsville, narcotics officers with the county police department took possession of the contraband.

     Instead of conducting a cursory investigation to determine the identities and backgrounds of the people who lived at the point of delivery and conferring with the chief of the Berwyn Heights Police Department to determine if there was suspicious drug activity associated with this house, the officers in charge of the case decided to deliver the package and then raid the place after the resident took the box inside. Had they checked with Patrick Murphy, the Berwyn Heights chief of police, the Prince George's County officers would have learned that 37-year-old Cheye Calvo, his wife Trinity, and her mother, Georgia Porter lived at that address.

     Mr. Calvo worked for a nonprofit organization that ran several public boarding schools for at-risk children. His wife Trinity had a job as a state finance officer. These people were not only law-abiding citizens, but Mr. Calvo was the mayor of Berwyn Heights. Had the Prince George's County police enlisted Mr. Calvo's cooperation, they could have caught the drug movers at the point of destination. Instead, the county officers acquired a search warrant to raid the Calvo house.

     According to the plan, on the day after the package had been intercepted at Beltsville, a county officer, posing as a deliveryman, would bring it to the Calvo house at six-thirty in the evening. The police department's SWAT team, however, wasn't available to lead the raid that day. Melvin High, Prince George's chief of police called the police department in Greenbelt and asked if he could borrow their SWAT unit. The chief in Greenbelt said he couldn't help because his unit was not authorized to operate outside the boundaries of the town. Chief High then turned to Michael Jackson, the sheriff of Prince George's County. Sheriff Jackson agreed to send his SWAT deputies into the Calvo house.

     Every police leader in the county knew of the impending raid but Patrick Murphy, the chief of police of Berwyn Heights. Not only were his colleagues planning a wrong-house intrusion, the SWAT team that police chief High had recruited had been used mainly to intercede in domestic disturbances. The unit had no experience in conducting drug raids.

     At six o'clock on the evening of the raid, Mr. Calvo arrived home from work ahead of his wife, Trinity. He gathered up Payton and Chase, his two black lab retrievers and took them for a walk. While he was away, a police officer approached the residence with the package of marijuana. Georgia, Mr. Calvo's mother-in-law, came to the door and instructed the "deliveryman" to leave the white box, addressed to her daughter, Trinity Tomsic, on the front porch.

     The point of delivery drug trafficking accomplice, realizing that the police had intercepted the package, ran from the scene. Mayor Calvo and his dogs returned from their walk a few minutes before seven. Mr. Calvo picked up the box, set on a small table near the front entrance, and climbed the stairs to charge out of his suit.

     A few minutes later, Georgia, while preparing dinner, looked out the kitchen window and saw a SWAT officer pointing a rifle at her head. A few seconds after she screamed, SWAT officers broke down the front door. From the second floor, Mr. Calvo heard his mother-in-law, the front door cracking apart, loud voices, and gunfire. Several deputies rushed into Calvo's bedroom, grabbed him and dragged the stunned mayor down the stairs in his boxer shorts.

     Payton, the seven-year-old lab, lay dead on the living room floor. The officers ordered Calvo to his knees and told him to remain in that position with his hands cupped on his head. No one would listen as Mr. Calvo tried to tell them he was the mayor of the town and that the raiders had made some kind of mistake.

     One of the SWAT officers, in speaking to another member of the unit, said he thought the subject, who was kneeling in his own living room, was crazy. In the meantime, officers were tearing the house apart looking for evidence of the drug trade. Finally, after an hour of ripping the place apart, an officer told Calvo they had intercepted a box of marijuana that had been sent to his address. The officer assured Mr. Calvo that the police had a search warrant and what they were doing was perfectly legal.

     With his hands bound behind his back, Mr. Calvo was led into the kitchen where he saw Georgia lying face-down on the floor, her hands restrained behind her back and a rifle barrel pointed at her head. Near her body Mr. Calvo saw his other dog, Chase, lying in a pool of blood. An officer had shot the three-year-old lab as the terrified dog fled into the kitchen.

     Ninety minutes after the intrusion, about the time personnel from an animal control agency hauled away the dead pets, a member of the SWAT team removed Mr. Calvo's plastic hand restraints. A narcotics officer informed him that while the white box delivered to his house by the police was enough to arrest him and his wife on drug charges, they would give them both a break as long as they cooperated with the authorities.

     When Trinity came home a little after eight, police questioned her in the front yard. Having found no evidence of drug trafficking in the house, the invading officers departed, leaving Mr. Calvo, his shaken mother-in-law, and his distraught wife with a smashed front door, a ransacked house, a dark cloud of suspicion hanging over their heads, and a home without their beloved pets.

     That night, Cheye Calvo and his wife cleaned up the blood spilled by their dogs and tried to put their house back together. An officer from the Berwyn Heights Police Department came by at midnight to help the mayor secure the front door. The next morning, the couple's friends started calling, offering their support and sympathy. The local and national media took an immediate interest in the story.

     At a news conference held on August 5, 2008, Prince George's County Police Chief Melvin High announced that his officers had arrested two suspects allegedly involved in the interstate scheme to deliver marijuana by shipping packages to unsuspecting homes. The package addressed to the mayor's house in Berwyn Heights was one of six or so parcels intercepted by the authorities in northern Prince George's County. In all, the packages contained 417 pounds of marijuana worth $3.6 million. One of the suspects worked for FedEx.

     Chief High and Sheriff Michael Jackson said they would not apologize for the Berwyn Heights raid which they characterized as legal and responsibly conducted. The sheriff said his SWAT team had been deployed because guns and violence are often associated with drug rings. Chief High, to those assembled at the news conference, said, "In some quarters, this has been viewed as a flawed police operation and an attack on the mayor. It was not. This was about an address, this was about a name on a package. In fact, our people did not know this was the home of the mayor and his family until after the fact." When asked by a reporter if the arrests of the FedEx deliveryman and his alleged accomplice had cleared Mayor Calvo and his wife, Chief High said, "From all indications at the moment, they had an unlikely involvement but we don't want to draw the definite conclusion. Most likely they were innocent victims."

     On August 8, 2008, Chief of Police Melvin High telephoned Mayor Calvo to inform him that Maryland's attorney general had cleared him and his wife of drug trafficking. While the chief didn't apologize for for the SWAT raid, he expressed regret over the killing of the dogs. A month after the Berwyn Heights SWAT raid, Melvin High retired.

     The internal affairs investigators, obviously aware that the killing of the dogs was unwarranted and made the SWAT team look like a squad of armed and vicious law enforcement zombies, did their best to make the killings appear justified. According to a preliminary report issued by the sheriff's office, the officer shot Payton because the dog had "engaged" a deputy. The police killed the other pet because it ran toward an officer.

     A few days after the police made the September 4, 2008 preliminary report public, Mr. Calvo released the results of necropsies (animal autopsies) performed by a veterinarian with the Maryland Department of Agriculture. According to the findings of this expert, the police had shot Peyton four times, twice in the chest/flank region, once in the jaw, and once in the neck. Chase had been shot twice, one on the bullets striking his chest and the other his left rear leg.

     In conducting the internal inquiry into the Calvo raid, the investigators did not interview Mr. Calvo or his mother-in-law. Quoted in the Washington Post, Calvo said, "The fact they've done an internal review without contacting the victims of their raid, the people whose house they stormed through, shows they're not very interested in the facts."

     In January 2011, Prince George's County attorneys settled the lawsuit Cheye Calvo had brought against the county in 2009. The parties to the civil suit did not disclose the amount of the settlement. 

Criminal Justice Quote: The College Roommate From Hell

     A university student stabbed his sleeping roommate in the throat, slashed his forehead and chased him to continue the attack when the victim broke free. The assault took place in the dormitory on a northern California campus. The assailant, Dillon Sang Kim, 19, slashed himself before he was arrested. His mug shot shows a stitched knife wound around his neck. The attacker's hospitalized 19-year-old roommate is expected to recover from the knife assault.

     Kim was charged with attempted murder and assault. The judge denied him bail…

     Police say the attack was unprovoked…The victim awoke early Tuesday February 17, 2015 to find Kim standing over him holding a knife. He stabbed his roommate several times and cut the victim's forehead and shoulder before the victim ran toward a bathroom that connected to an adjoining room occupied by two other students. Kim chased after his wounded roommate and stabbed him in the back when he fell down. The victim made it to the adjoining room where another student called 911. Police arrested Kim outside the dormitory.

     University Student Charged With Stabbing, Slashing Roommate," therepublic.com, February 20, 2015


Writing Quote: Beware Of The Publisher's Advance

I have seen a lot of novelists stop writing or at least slow down after getting an advance. They have a feeling of completion after making a deal. That's bad news creatively. If you are within a few months of having a finished, edited manuscript, I advise you to carry on without an advance, without that false feeling of completion, without that bit of good news to announce to a lot of people before the job is really done.

Kurt Vonnegut in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012 

Writing Quote: Can Novels Influence The Course Of Events?

     The line between fiction and nonfiction is more blurry than many people like to admit. Sometimes, political writing that claims to be nonfiction is actually fiction. The political power of such fiction-as-nonfiction is undeniable…

     The power of fictions that admit to being fiction, such as novels, may seem to pale in comparison. There are exceptions, of course: In popular lure, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is said to have led to slavery's abolition.

    Novels aren't directly credited with starting wars, yet fiction still instigates change. Fiction can say publicly what might otherwise appear unsayable, combating the coerced silence that is a favored weapon of those who have power…

     Does fiction affect politics? Yes, inevitably. So is all fiction political? To my mind, yes again. Fiction writers who claim their writing is not political are simply writers who seek to dissociate themselves from the politics furthered by their writing. Making up stories is an inherently political act. Like voting is. And like choosing not to vote is, too.

Mohsin Hamid, The New York Times Book Review, February 17, 2015 

Writing Quote: What Not To Do When Writing A Novel

Never ever read a powerful novel when you're trying to write a novel of your own.

Richard Price, The New York Times Book Review, February 22, 2015 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Michael Salmon Rape Case: The English Pediatrician From Hell

     In the 1970s and early 1980s, Dr. Michael Salmon, a pediatrician who specialized in children's growth disorders and neurological problems at the Stoke Manderville Hospital in Buckinhamshire, England, was one of the United Kingdom's most eminent physician. Dr. Salmon received recognition and praise for his work with children from Princess Dianna and other prominent English citizens. He also became quite wealthy.

     In 1987, Dr. Salmon fell from grace when detectives searching his office in connection with a medical fraud investigation came upon a sheaf of love letters from several of his teenage female patients. The discovery of these letters triggered an investigation of a very different kind that led to an indecent assault conviction. The judge, in November 1990, sentenced Salmon to three years in prison for the assault of three girls. In 1991, his professional colleagues struck the 56-year-old physician from the United Kingdom medical register.

     Salmon served eighteen months of his three-year sentence at the Grendon Underwood Prison. After his release, he managed to reinvent himself as a wildlife expert. He purchased a mansion in a remote area near a national park. He told his neighbors and members of the community that he was a retired hospital consultant from an aristocratic family. In his club and church circles, he insisted on being addressed as "Dr."

     In 2011, the Thames Valley police launched an investigation into rape and sexual abuse at the Stoke Manderville Hospital called Operation Yewtree. In the course of that investigation, former female patients of Michael Salmon's came forward with stories of sexual abuse that occurred when they were in the teens and pre-teens. The women accused Salmon of having assaulted them in his consulting room at the hospital. His victims, at the time of the alleged offenses, had ranged from eleven to eighteen-years-old.

     A Crown prosecutor, in November 2013, charged the former physician with the sexual assaults of nine girls at the hospital and the rape of a teenager at his home. In the rape case, the 16-year-old victim had turned to the doctor for help after learning that she had become pregnant.

     Salmon pleaded not guilty to all charges, calling the allegations "absolute nonsense." He characterized his accusers as "gold diggers" and desperate women looking for attention.

     In December 2014, the Michael Salmon sexual abuse trial got underway at the Reading Crown Court. In her opening statement to the jury, Crown prosecutor Miranda Moore said, "On some of the occasions the defendant handled the breasts of the young girls with the pretense of listening to their hearts. He also, on occasion, carried out internal vaginal examinations for which there was no medical need whatsoever."

     On February 6, 2015, the jury found Michael Salmon guilty of nine counts of indecent assault and two counts of rape. As constables led the 80-year-old out of the courtroom to his jail cell, his wife who had stood by him throughout the trial, wept.

     In speaking to reporters following the guilty verdict, Detective Sergeant Malcolm Wheeler of the Thames Valley Police Child Abuse Unit, said: "Salmon was a prolific sexual offender who abused his position of power for his own sexual gratification. His victims trusted him, they believed him because he was a doctor and they thought he was trustworthy."

     On February 12, 2015, at Salmon's sentencing hearing, Reading Crown Court Judge Johanna Cutts, in addressing the convicted man, said: "It was your conceited arrogance that led to your downfall. All the girls were ill at the time. They were treated as objects of your sexual gratification." Regarding the 16-year-old Salmon had raped twice in his home, Judge Cutts said, "You raped her at the time when she couldn't have been more vulnerable. This court sees a lot of rape cases. It is rare to see such a cold-blooded and ruthless crime."

     Judge Cutts sentenced Michael Salmon to eighteen years in prison. For a man his age it was a sentence of life.

     

Criminal Justice Quote: The Country Boy Version Of Citizens Arrest

     A police manhunt in northern Idaho for an escaped person with a history of violent crime came to an end on February 19, 2015 when a homeowner shot and wounded the fugitive. Roy Beiluch escaped from the Shoshone County Jail two days before while on cleaning duty. He entered a crawl space through the ceiling of a utility room and made his way to the jail lobby. The 48-year-old was aided by a female accomplice who was taken into custody a day after the escape.

      Bieluch, in custody since December 2014 on charges of burglary, malicious injury to property and petty theft, wound up at the home of a man living outside of Wallace, Idaho, a town of about 800 people.

     Shortly after five-thirty on the evening of February 19, the homeowner responded to his dog's wild barking. Armed with a handgun he went out to see what was disturbing his dog. That's when he confronted the jail escapee. The homeowner called 911 and ordered Bieluch not to move. The fugitive instead moved toward the homeowner who opened fire, hitting the intruder in the leg.

     According to the authorities, Bieluch has ties to the white supremacist group Aryan Nation. Officers who took him into custody transported the escapee to a nearby hospital….

Chuck Ross, "Armed Idaho Homeowner Ends Manhunt," The Daily Caller, February 20, 2015


Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Finding The Motivation To Write

This writing game is more desperate than holding up liquor stores, yet I'm snared in now and there's no out. A man finally gets lazy, too lazy and the mind gets too lazy to do any damned job. Now I'm almost too lazy to write. An empty belly and rent due might stove that up, though.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1971-1986, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Writing Quote: The Biographer's Relationship To His Subject

The most important thing that you as a biographer can do is to write from the heart. Write only about someone you have deep feelings for. If you care deeply about your subject, either positively or negatively, so will your readers. If you take on a biography about someone you couldn't care less about, possibly for the money, or because you have received a good publishing contract, the readers won't care about your subject either, and probably won't finish reading your book.

Brian Klems, writersdigest.com, December 9, 2013 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Writers Know Their Genre

     Writers of science fiction are, first and foremost, voracious readers, and they're often very savvy about the genre they work in. Whereas most literary writers have only the barest conception of where their work fits in the current publishing milieu. This is because many of them have been studying classic literature.

     The literary divisions are a little clearer within genre fiction--to an almost laughable degree (hence paranormal young adult romance, alternative historical fantasy, "furry" fiction, and virtually everything ending in the suffix-punk). But despite the fact that the differences between various types of literary fiction are more subtle, it behooves anyone serious about publishing to get savvy about them…

     The more knowledgeable you are about the imaginative space you're working in, the less likely you are to reinvent the wheel, and the more likely you are to get a handle on who your readers are and what they like.

Susan Defreitas, litreactor.com, September 24, 2014 

Writing Quote: Critic Peter S. Prescott on Kurt Vonnegut And Other Science Fiction Writers

     Peter S. Prescott says in his Newsweek piece on science fiction (December 22, 1975): "Few science fiction writers aim higher than what a teen-age intelligence can grasp, and the smart ones--like Kurt Vonnegut, carefully satirize targets--racism, pollution, teachers--that teen-agers are conditioned to dislike."

     That unsupported allegation about me will now become a part of my dossier at Newsweek. I ask you to put this letter in the same folder, so that more honest reporters than Mr. Prescott may learn the following about me:

     I have never written with teen-agers in mind, nor are teen-agers the chief readers of my books. I am the first science fiction writer to win a Guggenheim, the first to become a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the first to have a novel become a finalist for a National Book Award. I have been on the faculties of the University of Iowa and Harvard, and was most recently a Distinguished Professor of Literature at CCNY.

     Mr. Prescott is entitled to loathe everything I have ever done, which he clearly does. But he should not be a liar. Newsweek should not be a liar.

Kurt Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Tammy Meyers "Road Rage" Murder Case: Fear And Confusion in Las Vegas

     Tammy Meyers and her husband Robert lived on a cul-de-sac in a Las Vegas residential neighborhood with their four children. On Thursday night February 12, 2015, with Robert Meyers out of town on business, the 44-year-old mother gave their 15-year-old daughter a driving lesson on the parking lot of a nearby school. According to the initial account of what happened after that driving lesson, as Tammy drove her daughter home, they became involved in some kind of dustup with a man in a car with two passengers. That man, as the story went, followed the mother and her daughter home. In front of their house, at 11:30 PM, the unknown motorist shot Tammy Meyers in the head. The assault was widely reported in the media as a road rage shooting.

     Emergency personnel rushed Tammy Meyers to the Medical Center of Southern Nevada where doctors placed her on life support. On Saturday February 14, as police officers searched for the unknown suspect in a silver sedan, a man described as 25-years-old, six-foot tall and 180 pounds, physicians took Tammy Meyers off life-support. She died shortly thereafter.

     Following Tammy Meyers' death, new details surfaced about the murder that put a different slant on the case. As Tammy and her daughter drove home that night from the school parking lot, a man driving a silver sedan sped by them. Tammy's daughter, to register her displeasure at the speeding motorist, reached over and honked their horn.

    The speeder, apparently angered by the rebuke, pulled in front on Tammy's green Buick Park Avenue and came to a stop. The man climbed out of his vehicle and confronted the frightened mother and daughter. After threatening the women, the man got back into his car and drove off.

     Instead of calling the police or going home and doing nothing about the encounter with the unknown motorist, Tammy sent her daughter into the house to fetch her 22-year-old brother Brandon. Brandon got into the Buick armed with a 9 mm pistol. He and his mother drove off in search of the unknown motorist who had frightened his mother and his sister.

     According to this version of the story, after driving around for a few minutes, Tammy spotted the silver car she was looking for. She followed that vehicle but quickly lost track of it and headed home. The man she had been following, however, hadn't lost track of Tammy. He followed her and Brandon back to their house.

     At eleven-thirty that night, the man in the silver car caught up to Tammy and her son in the cul-de-sac in front of their home. That's when Brandon and the man exchanged gunfire. A bullet from the other man's gun struck Tammy in the head. She collapsed in her driveway, the shooter sped off, and someone called 911.

     In speaking to a television reporter with a local ABC affiliate, Robert Meyers said he didn't know why his wife had to lose her life over such a petty incident. "Every time you turn around someone's getting shot in Las Vegas," he said. Admitting that "there were mistakes made" by his wife, the husband called his son Brandon a hero.

     Some people, while lamenting Tammy Meyers' murder, said they didn't understand why she didn't call the police instead of taking matters into her own hands and risking her life and the life of her son by going after the man who had threatened her? Wasn't that asking for trouble? What was she thinking?

     In the wake of this public criticism, Robert Meyers shut down the GoFundMe fundraising site that had been started by a friend of the family. Mr. Meyers returned $6,000 to donors. Sympathy had turned to skepticism. Regarding the Internet site, Mr. Meyers said, "If all of you people think I was a fraud and lied about the facts I am truly sorry."

     Brandon Meyers, in response to the criticism of his mother, said this to a reporter: "Everyone can think what they have to think. I did it for a reason. And I'd do it again for anyone I love."

     On Thursday February 19, 2015, one week after the shooting, the so-called Las Vegas Road Rage Murder Case took a confusing twist when 19-year-old Erich Milton Nowsch Jr. surrendered to the SWAT team that surrounded his house less than a block from the Meyers residence. Norwsch, five-foot-three and 100 pounds, didn't look anything like the composite  police sketch of the unknown motorist in the silver car.

     Robert Meyers, in speaking to reporters about this development in the case said, "We know this boy. I couldn't tell you this before. He knew where we lived. We knew how bad he was but we didn't know he was this bad. My wife fed him, she gave him money, she told him to pull his pants up and be a man."

     To a group of reporters out in front of his house, Mr. Meyers said, "Are you all happy? You made my wife look like an animal. There's the animal, a block away!"

    So what did this new twist in the case mean? If Brandon, his sister and their father knew the identify of the person who had committed the murder, why wasn't Nowsch arrested sooner? How did detectives identify Nowsch as the suspected shooter?

     While a Las Vegas prosecutor charged Erich Nowsch with unspecified offenses, the suspect is expected to be charged with murder with a deadly weapon, attempted murder with a deadly weapon and discharging a gun within a vehicle.

     According to a police report on the case made public on Friday February 20, detectives found, in front of the Meyers residence, six .45-caliber shell casings. Norwsch's friends told investigators that the suspect had never mentioned a road rage incident to them. Instead, he said people were after him. Moreover, he was not the driver of the silver Audi involved in the case. Norwsch told his friends that he returned fire when someone in the green Buick shot at him from inside the car.

     At this point in the investigation, the authorities are trying to figure out if this was a case of road rage or a neighborhood dispute that had gotten out of control.

     

Writing Quote: The Pedigree Of The Short Story Genre

 The relationship of the short story to the novel amounts to nothing at all. The novel is a distinct form of art having a pedigree and practice of hardly more than a couple of hundred years; the short story, so far from being its offspring, is an ancient art originating in the folk tale, which was a thing of joy even before writing, not to mention printing, was invented.

A. E. Coppard, The Collected Tales Of A. E. Coppard, 1951 

Writing Quote: What Hasn't Been Done In The Horror Genre

Writing horror isn't so easy. With any type of fiction, it's difficult to think of something that hasn't already been done. With horror fiction, it's especially true. Creepy basements, loud noises from the attic, hidden rooms, Indian burial grounds, old hotels, multiple personality disorder, etc.--it's all been done before, and it's all out there. These cliches shouldn't restrain you, however. They've simply defined the space you're working in. You know what's out there, now create your own story.

Cris Freese, writersdigest.com, October 25, 2013 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Not Selling Out

     I think that over-ambition kills. I think that trying to be a writer kills. Writing simply has to be a sickness, a drug. It doesn't have to be, it just is. When one thing or another cures your sickness, that's it. And, of course, there are no guidelines.

     I've been lucky. For decades now I haven't had to force myself to write anything in any particular way…If you slant your writing it means you want to make money, you want to get famous, you want to get published for the sake of getting published. I think that only works for a while. The gods are watching us. And they extract their toll. Without fail.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Writing Quote: Ray Bradbury Called Himself A Fantasy Writer

     Ray Bradbury's rocket ships were not souped-up fighter jets. Instead, they were the latter-day descendent of Joseph Conrad's sailing ships: You traveled on them not so much to encounter adventures as to think about what the encounter might mean. His Mars was not an arid red desert, it was filled with towns where old ladies puttered around on the same kinds of charming but pointless errands little old lades do in Marcel Proust's Cambray…


     One way to sum up Ray Bradbury is to notice that he is just about the only American science fiction writer to claim, proudly, the label "fantasy" for his books. Fahrenheit 451 was his only real science fiction novel, he said. You might even locate him in a middle ground between the best American fantasy literature and the hyper-masculine world of Astounding Science Fiction. 

John Plotz, slate.com, June 6, 2012
      

Writing Quote: Kurt Vonnegut on Male Novelists Of His Time

Male novelists don't slug and insult each other the way they used to, since they aren't a bunch of drunks any more. They would be drinking less even if it weren't for the sudden humorlessness of the judiciary with respect to driving while under the influence. Not just male writers, but male artists of every sort, are no longer pressured to prove that they are real men, even though they have artistic sensibilities. As I've said elsewhere, my father was a gun nut like Ernest Hemingway, mainly to prove that he wasn't effeminate, even though he was an architect and a painter. He didn't get drunk and slug people. Shooting animals was enough. But male American artists don't even bother to shoot off guns anymore. This is good.

Kurt Vonnegut in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012

    

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Halifax Mass Murder Plot

     On Thursday morning February 12, 2015, a caller on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Crime Stoppers tip line caused serious concern with a disturbing report. The tipster said that a 19-year-old James Gamble from Timberlea, Nova Scotia, a suburb of Halifax, as well as a woman named Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, 23 from Geneva, Illinois and a 20-year-old Nova Scotia man, Randall Steven Shepherd, planned to shoot as many shoppers as they could on St. Valentine's Day at the Halifax Shopping Centre on the west side of the city.

     The informant said the group had acquired the necessary weaponry to commit Canada's version of America's 1929 St. Valentine's Day massacre. After committing the mass murder, the plotters planned to take their own lives.

     The persons identified by the RCMP tipster revealed through photographs and comments on an Internet chat stream their obsession with serial killers and bloody murder scenes. The American, Lindsay Souvannarath, had written messages on her Twitter account she didn't want posted until after her self-inflicted death.

     At one-twenty in the morning of February 13, 2015, police officers watching James Gamble's Timberlea residence, observed a couple believed to be the suspect's parents drive away from the house. After pulling the parents over, a detective called the house and spoke to their son.

     Gamble, whose house was now surrounded by an Emergency Response Team, told the detective on the phone that he was unarmed and ready to exit the dwelling. Instead, he shot himself to death in the house. Inside the suspect's home, besides the body, officers found three loaded rifles.

     An hour after the suicide in Timberlea, officers took Lindsay Souvannarath into custody when she flew into the Halifax International Airport from her home in Illinois. Police officers arrested Randall Shepherd who was at the airport to greet her.

     Shortly after her arrest, Souvannarath confessed to the conspiracy to randomly murder as many people as possible at the Halifax shopping mall.

     A local prosecutor charged the American woman and her alleged 20-year-old Nova Scotia accomplice with conspiracy to commit murder. In the meantime, detectives with Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Team were looking into the background James Gamble who had committed suicide. The investigators were trying to determine the extent of his participation, if any, in the mass shooting plot.

     At a press conference held on Saturday February 14, St. Valentine's Day, Justice Minister Peter MacKay announced that the mass murder plot was not "culturally motivated" or linked to Islamic terrorism. The justice minister called the murder conspirators "murderous misfits." Mr. MacKay acknowledged, however, that murderous misfits like the ones in custody could be exploited by terrorist organizations. He said, "An individual that would so recklessly and with bloody intent plot to do something like this I would suggest would also be susceptible to being motivated by groups like ISIS and others."

     On February 17, 2015, Charles Aukema, one of Lindsay Souvannarath's professors at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, told a reporter with the Cedar Rapids Gazette that his former English student "knew how to put together a sentence and had a command of detail." The professor added, "Sometimes it was pretty sick detail." 

Criminal Justice Quote: Jail Versus Prison

Jail is the place where people awaiting trial are detained or where those convicted of minor offenses (usually those calling for detention of thirty days or under) are kept. Prison is a facility for housing those found guilty of major crimes…Prison is another term for penitentiary. 

Rod L. Evans, The Artful Nuance, 1997 

Criminal Justice Quote: Too Drunk To Drive But Not Too Drunk To Fabricate Evidence

     A man poured water onto a freezing road to try to fool police officers into thinking the cause of his drunken car crash was black ice. Twenty-year-old Bryan Byers of Sparta, New Jersey was arrested Saturday February 14, 2015 and charged with drunken driving and other offenses.

     Authorities said he hit a guardrail after running a stop sign in a BMW early that morning. Shortly after the crash, 20-year-old Alexander Zambenedetti, a friend of Byers, showed up in his own car. The two men dumped 5-gallon buckets of water onto the read to create black ice…

     An officer on patrol saw Byers walking in the road and Zambenedetti sitting in his vehicle with two buckets in the back seat around 2:45 AM. Zambendetti wasn't wearing a shirt despite a wind chill of 15 below zero.

     Mr. Byers confessed to the evidence-fabricating scheme.

"Man Created Black Ice To Mask Drunken Driving Crash," Associated Press, February 18, 2015 

Writing Quote: Depression Era Horror Fiction

The Great Depression only enhanced America's interest in things supernatural and horrifying. A number of horror-themed radio shows sprung up including "The Shadow" (1930) and "The Spider" (1933). Both spawned successful spinoffs in the form of novellas and comic books. Yet the 1930s also marked the last decade of the pulp magazine. Publisher Henry Steeger visited the French Grand Guignol Theater for inspiration and returned to revive the Dime Mystery Novels series. He added Terror Tales and Horror Stories over the next two years. All these pulps survived until 1941. The very real horrors of World War II overshadowed fictional ones. It wasn't until the 1950s that the horror genre hit its stride.

Kristin Masters, blog.bookstellingyouwhy.com, October 24, 2013 

Writing Quote: Inserting Humor Into Your Nonfiction

Sociologists, linguists and biologists say that our ability to laugh and desire to do so isn't all fun and games, but actually serves two essential life functions: to bond with members of our "tribe," and to lessen tension and anxiety. Both of these are also excellent reasons to incorporate humor in your nonfiction. As a communication tool, effective use of humor can humanize you, cementing your bond with readers. It can also help your work stand out in a crowded market. And as advertising studies have shown, humor enhances how much we like what we're reading and how well we remember it afterward.

Anne Jasheway, writersdigest.com, August 9, 2011

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Getting A Late Start

I just got rid of a short story called "The Other." Arete took it. They pay a grand. Then they asked that I might illustrate the story. I sat down and flipped out three or four drawings, took me maybe five minutes. They accepted--$400. Everything is very strange. From a total bum to all this. But something is watching me. I am always being tested. There is always the next day, the next night. I began late and I'm going to have to keep pounding. I missed a hell of a lot of years. But the luckiest thing that ever happened to me is that I didn't get lucky early.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Writing Quote: Dystopian Science Fiction

Dystopia has appeared in science fiction from the genre's inception, but the past decade has observed an unprecedented rise in its authorship. Once a literary niche within a niche, mankind is now destroyed with clockwork regularity by nuclear weapons, computers gone rogue, nanotechnology, and man-made viruses…We have plagues and we have zombies and we have zombie plagues.

Michael Solana, wired.com, August 24, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Portal Fantasy Story

The "portal fantasy" is a mainstay in the fantasy genre. In this type of novel, someone from our world discovers a pathway to another world where he or she is our relatable explorer. We discover this new world through this narrator's eyes. It's a tried and true fantasy plot.

Charlie Jane Anders, i09.com, January 26, 2012 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The Tip Forger

     A former waitress has been charged with forgery and other crimes for allegedly adding $10 or $20 to tips that customers of a western Pennsylvania restaurant left when they paid with credit cards. Police in Penn Township say 30-year-old Gina Haney of North Huntingdon put the number "1" or "2" in front of single digit tips customers had scrawled on receipts. As a result, she received $10 or $20 more than those customers intended.

     Haney allegedly fudged tips on 20 one-dollar tickets at Lucci's Pizza and Pasta between September and December 2014. The restaurant's manager alerted authorities after two customers called to complain about the overcharges on the same day. He pulled other receipts from her customers that revealed more overcharges.

     Haney denied knowing anything about the inflated tips.

"Ex-Waitress Charged With Padding Customers' Tips," Associated Press, February 15, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Drug Cops Find Nothing After Breaking Into A 90-Year-Old Woman's House

     A broken door. Smashed windows. Residue from a flash grenade on the carpet. That's the state in which cops in south Florida left a 90-year-old woman's house after raiding it for drugs. They didn't find any illegal activity, but won't admit they made a mistake.

     The woman said the raid happened on December 18, 2014. "I don't know how the cops got in here. The noise woke me up when something said boom! Like a bomb or something," she said. "Cops standing over here talking about where's the drugs? I said 'what? What drugs? Ain't no drugs in here.' "

     Riviera Beach police said they got a search warrant based on evidence of criminal activity.

     After drug-sniffing dogs failed to find anything, the police left. When asked whether they got the wrong address, a police spokesperson said that just because the woman didn't know anything about drugs being sold out of her house "doesn't mean it didn't happen." The cops agreed to repair the damage to the woman's house. [Months have passed and they have done so.]

Robby Soave, "90-year-Old Woman's House Destroyed By Cops in Wrong-Door Raid," reason.com, February 18, 2015 

Writing Quote: The Unhappy Vocation

Novel writing is considered a profession and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think that an artist can ever be happy.

Georges Simenon, Paris Review, Summer 1955 

Writing Quote: The Biased Biographer

I think the most biased biography I know of, almost viciously biased against the subject, was Lawrence Thompson's biography of Robert Frost. But Frost did not do the convenient things. Thompson took on the job of being Frost's biographer something like forty years before Frost died, and he was not allowed to publish the book until Frost was gone. That was their agreement. If Frost had died at sixty or seventy, instead of ninety, that would have been much nicer for Thompson. So there's that side of it. And Frost had some pretty unpleasant characteristics, along with tremendous charm. Thompson simply got turned off by him. There was a relationship with a woman that involved them both--they were rivals--there's nothing about that in the biography, of course. Thompson ends by attributing the worst possible motives to anything Frost did. The book is painful to read.

Scott Donaldson, themillions.com, February 27, 2012 

Writing Quote: Why The Fantasy Story Is So Appealing

     From the earliest myths and legends, through different cultures, fantasy has been with us. Think of the Arabian Nights stories, the Arthurian Romances, Spenser's The Fairie Queen, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lord Byron's Manfred, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and the works of Edgar Allen Poe, Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, and George MacDonald.

     Whether these stories are set in our world or a secondary world where magical creatures and/or people exist, they all share a common theme: the exploration of the human condition. Even the much maligned medieval/quest fantasies offer their readers the chance to vicariously explore a wondrous world, battle evil and restore justice. Even a lowly Hobbit can change the course of the world by destroying the Ring.

     That is the appeal of the tolkienesque fantasy. In our modern world where politicians prove corrupt, large corporations rip off customers and terrorists kill ordinary people going about their daily lives, the traditional quest fantasy provides an antidote to cynicism. Fantasy, deriving from the word fantastic, exercises our sense of wonder.

Rowena Cory Daniells, The Australian Literature Review, June 17, 2010 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Writers, Lighten Up

"It's so easy to make money with science fiction stories that say civilization is garbage, our institutions will never be helpful, and your neighbors are all useless sheep who could never be counted on in a crisis," says David Brin, a science fiction writer who thinks we've gotten too fond of speculative technological bummers. Movies like "Blade Runner," "The Matrix," "Children of Men," and more recently "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent," all express some version of this dark world view.

     Neal Stephenson, the author of Cryponomicon, usually writes exactly those kinds of dystopian stories. In his fiction, he tends to explore the dark side of technology. But a couple of years ago he got a public wake up call.

     On stage at a writer's conference, Stephenson was complaining that there were no big scientific projects to inspire people these days. But Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University, shot back, "You're the one slacking off." By "you", Crow meant science fiction writers.

Adam Wernick, pri.org, July 29, 2014 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hellementary Education Quote: Teacher Plays Kindergarten Detective Rather Than Cop

     A Florida kindergarten teacher who video-taped a boy as he beat other students on three occasions was suspended without pay. Duval County Public School officials accused Rita Baci of failing to protect her students as she recorded the beatings with her cellphone in November 2014. School administrators hit Baci with a 15-day unpaid suspension at a school board meeting on February 12, 2015.

     The 65-year-old classroom veteran was also reprimanded for using her foot to push a student out of her class and leaving him unattended in the hallway…The video Baci took showed one boy being hit about his face and body several times. Another kid was shown being kicked as he tried to hide under a table. A third student was punched and slapped on video.

     Baci said she had taken the videos for evidence of the boy's aggressive behavior in her classroom at the John E. Ford Montessori School in Jacksonville. She showed what she had recorded to an assistant principal before meeting with the disruptive child's parents. She also let other students watch the videos….

"Florida Teacher Suspended After Filming Kindergartner Beating Other Students," Fox News, February 15, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Scofflaw And His Phantom Twin

     A New Jersey man repeatedly told local court officials they had the wrong guy, that it was his twin brother who had racked up all those traffic tickets. Court officials finally realized that Olawale Agoro used a fake name to have his court dates postponed. Olawale posed as his twin brother Tony to get new court dates for his traffic violations. As a result of his impersonation, he faced charges of hindering apprehension, false swearing and resisting arrest…

     The rouse began in July 2014 when a Maywood, New Jersey officer pulled Agoro over and issued him five traffic tickets. When he appeared in municipal court, he identified himself as Tony and said he was legally blind. However, officer Matthew Parodi, who pulled Agoro over, knew he was the same person he had stopped.

     Agoro left the courthouse and asked a man to drive his [Argoro's] car around the corner and stop. At that point the police officer saw the impostor climb in behind the wheel. Officer Parodi issued him three more tickets and his car was impounded.

     Agoro would go to the Rochelle Park, New Jersey Municipal Court where he posed as Tony and begged the clerk to grant adjournments for his brother because he was in Nigeria mourning the death of their father. After the adjournments were granted, Agoro missed a court date. That's when a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. The additional charges were filed when the authorities realized that Tony did not exist.

"New Jersey Man Posed as Twin to Avoid Court Dates," Fox News, February 15, 2015


Writing Quote: The First Novel Blues

     I completed my first novel on July 29, 2012 and spent the next two months sending it out to hundreds of agents and any publisher I could find that accepted unsolicited manuscripts. Dropping over a grand on ink, paper, and postage, my days consisted of checking my email, walking to the post office, and scanning the Internet for details of any literary agency that had an address, never mind a respectable client list.

     I received dozens of rejection slips but mainly non-replies. Those that did get back to me all said the same thing: love it, but can't see it selling. After a few months I was forced to admit that my novel wasn't going to be bought for $500,000 nor for the price of a battered second-hand paperback. I was devastated. What would become of me now?

James Nolan, vice.com, April 29, 2014 

Writing Quote: Categories Within The Fantasy Genre

To name a few sub-fantasy genres: There's Epic Fantasy involving thick books and very long series; High Fantasy, usually very traditional and Tolkienesque; Dark Fantasy that mixes in horror or grim themes; Grimdark Fantasy employing a dystopian element in the world or plot; Steampunk, a mix of fantasy and old Victorian clockwork and steam elements; Arcanepunk, a blend of science fiction and fantasy; Historical Fantasy incorporating magic into historical fiction often mixed with the sword and sorcery sub-genre; and Urban Fantasy which blends the ideas of magic and myth with modern day worlds.

Joanna Penn, thecreativepenn.com, June 27, 2013 

Writing Quote: Psychological Crime Novel Protagonists

Although it's widely acknowledged that the human capacity for self-delusion is boundless, it can often be difficult to get through psychological crime novels of the "How well do you know your husband/wife/best friend?" variety without becoming so irritated by the protagonist's willful obtuseness that you end up wanted to give him, or more usually her, a good shake.

Laura Wilson, The Guardian, September 19, 2004 

Writing Quote: The Longevity Of Children's Literature

It's striking how long children's book can last. One explanation may be the way in which they're read. They become part of our emotional autobiographies, acquiring associations and memories, more like music than prose. Another explanation may lie in the fact that children's books are designed with re-reading in mind. For all children's writers are conscious that his or her books may be re-read by children themselves.

S. F. Said, The Guardian, February 16, 2015