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Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Internet: One-Stop Shopping For Sickos

From anonymous bullying to anonymous murder for hire, the Internet has something for every sick taste.

Kenneth Eade, Attorney, Author of legal thrillers

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 

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Power of the State

 Even a competent lawyer may not be able to mount an adequate defense against the state, with all its resources, if he has next to nothing for investigation and works for starvation wages.

Anthony Lewis (1927-2013) legal journalist 

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Master Plot

There are stories that we tell over and over in myriad forms and that connect vitally with our deepest values, wishes, and fears. Cinderella is one of them. Its variants can be found frequently in European and American cultures. Its constituent events elaborate a thread of neglect, injustice, rebirth, and reward that responds to deeply held anxieties and desires. As such, the Cinderella master plot has an enormous emotional capital that can be drawn on in constructing a narrative. But it is only one of many master plots. We seem to connect our thinking about life, and particularly our own lives, to a number of master plots that we may or may not be fully aware of. To the extent that our values and identity are linked to a master plot, that master plot can have strong rhetorical impact. We tend to give credibility to narratives that are structured by it. [True crime narratives often incorporate master plots.]

H. Porter Abbott, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 2002

Thursday, October 22, 2020

John Cheever on Academic Literary Criticism

The vast academic world exists like everything else, on what it can produce that will secure income. So we have papers on fiction, but they come out of what is largely an industry. In no way does it help those who write fiction or those who love to read fiction.

John Cheever in Writers at Work, Fifth Series, edited by George Plimpton, 1981 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Jeffrey Toobin: A Journalist Exposed

      Jeffrey Toobin, a 60-year-old journalist with a bachelor and a law degree from Harvard University, began writing about crime, politics and law for New Yorker magazine in 1993. In 2003, he became the chief legal analyst for CNN. His seven books include one about the O.J. Simpson murder case, and one about the Patty Hearst kidnapping. He also wrote a book favorable to President Obama and one critical of President Trump. In addition to a book on the U.S, Supreme Court, Toobin wrote about the sexual accusations against Michael Jackson. On CNN, he was a regular commentator and panelist. 

     On October 13, 2020, Toobin and three of his colleagues were participating in a ten-minute Zoom call "strategy session" in anticipation of CNN's upcoming election night coverage. During that call, Toobin's colleagues were shocked to see him masturbating. 

     Shortly after the bizarre incident, Mr. Toobin was suspended by New Yorker magazine and placed on leave by CNN. 

     On October 19, 2020, in a statement published on his computer Motherboard, Toobin, in a bit of an understatement, wrote that he had made an "embarrassingly stupid mistake. I believe," he said, "that I was not visible on Zoom, I thought I had muted the Zoom video." Mr. Toobin apologized to his wife, his family and friends, and to his co-workers at New Yorker and CNN.

     Brian Stelter, one of the talking heads at CNN, referred to Mr. Toobin's unintentional exposure of an intentional act as an "accident." In so doing, Mr. Stelter was also exposed--as a journalistic hack.

     There was a time when someone of Mr. Toobin's status and fame would never be able to live something like this down. In modern America, however, with President Bill Clinton as a good example, politicians and media types can shrug off huge embarrassments and move on with their careers. Perhaps this is because the public now realizes that the hypocrites in public life are no better than they are, and in most cases, worse.

     On November 11, 2020, New Yorker fired Mr. Toobin. 

The Fanatic Versus The Martyr

A martyr is someone willing to die for what he believes in. A fanatic is someone willing for you to die for what he believes.

Marsha Hinds, journalist

Leonard Woolf On Serious Versus Commercial Novels

Novels by serious writers of genius often eventually become bestsellers, but most contemporary bestsellers are written by second-class writers whose psychological brew contains a touch of naivety, a touch of sentimentality, the story-telling gift, and a mysterious sympathy with the day dreams of ordinary people. [What a literary snob.]

Leonard Woolf (1880-1969), husband of Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Daniel Sanchez Mass Murder-Suicide Case

     Beatriz "Betty" Silva lived with her sister Maria and Maria's husband Max in a mobile home located among 400 modular dwellings in a subdivision outside of Longmont, a town 35 miles north of Denver, Colorado. The 25-year-old student at Front Range Community College worked at a Chipotle fast-food franchise, and as a sales associate with Marshalls Department Store. On November 22, 2012, Thanksgiving Day, she told her boyfriend, 31-year-old Daniel Sanchez, that she had found someone new. Sanchez, a quick-tempered, violent man, flew into a rage, made threats against the new boyfriend, and began stalking and harassing Silva.

     When they were going together, Betty had loaned Daniel Sanchez $1,000, money he needed to fix up his truck. He had not paid her back as promised, so on Saturday, December 15, 2012, she arranged to meet him in the parking lot of a Best Buy on the outskirts of Denver where they would discuss how he planned to repay the loan. When Betty climbed into his vehicle, Sanchez called her names, punched her in the face, and used her cellphone to text threatening messages to her boyfriend. Against her will, Betty Siva was driven around in Sanchez's truck while he tried to talk her into checking into a hotel where they could resume their relationship. She refused, and after an hour or so, he drove her back to her car and let her out of his truck.

     Betty Silva reported Daniel Sanchez to the Denver police, and on Sunday afternoon, December 16, 2012, officers took him into custody on charges of false imprisonment, second-degree kidnapping, harassment, and domestic violence. He spend the night in the Boulder County Jail, and at ten o'clock Monday night, posted his $10,000 bond and was released.

     Furious over the fact the woman he loved had turned him in to the police, Sanchez drove straight from the jail to Silva's mobile home where he parked on the street in front of her dwelling. Armed with a .45-caliber, 13-round Glock pistol and an extra magazine, Sanchez entered the Silva dwelling by shooting out the glass panel to the rear sliding glass door. Once inside the home, Sanchez took Betty, her 22-year-old sister Maria, and Maria's husband Max Ojeda, hostage.

     At four o'clock the next morning, Betty Silva called 911. The dispatcher overheard her say, "No, no, no." The 911 operator next heard the sounds of a gun being fired. Following the gun shots, Sanchez came on the phone and informed the dispatcher that he was going to kill himself. Again, the sound of gun fire, then silence. No one else came to the phone.

     Weld County Sheriff's deputies and a SWAT team rolled up to the modular home at 4:18 that morning. Officers weren't sure how many people were in the dwelling, or if any of them were alive. At 5:30 AM, after getting no response from inside the hostage site, members of the SWAT unit stormed into the mobile home. Officers found Sanchez dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. They discovered 29-year-old Max Ojeda and his wife Maria dead in their bedroom. Betty Silva had been shot to death in another part of the house. Officers found 16 spent shell-casings scattered about the murder site.

     In reporting Daniel Sanchez to the Denver police, Betty Silva had indicated a reluctance to go forward with the more serious kidnapping related charges. By minimizing the seriousness of Sanchez's crimes against her, Silva may have contributed to her own death, and the fate of the other two victims. Had the magistrate been convinced that Sanchez posed a serious threat of life-threatening violence, Sanchez's bail may not have been set so low. There is also the possibility that regardless of the amount of Sanchez's bail, this young woman's fate was sealed once she became this violent, unstable man's girlfriend. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Locard Exchange Principle in Forensic Science

The theory that a criminal perpetrator leaves part of himself at the scene of a crime, and takes a piece of the crime site with him, was postulated in 1911 by Dr. Edmund Locard in Lyon, France. Referred to as the Locard Exchange Principle, this concept, along with the idea of interpreting physical evidence to reconstruct what took place at the site of a criminal act, is the basic rationale behind crime scene investigation. The term "associative evidence" describes items that, pursuant to the Locard Principle, can connect a suspect to the scene of a crime.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

A Literary World Outsider

     Like most writers, my principal connection with the literary world has been through books and magazines. I've read hundreds of books and articles about writing, publishing, and the writing life by well-known writers, how-to authors, editors, literary agents, critics, journalists, and writing teachers.

     Besides literary biographies and autobiographies, as well as the published letters and journals of literary figures, I enjoy reading memoir/how-to books by celebrated writers. Examples of this genre include The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer, On Writing by Stephen King, On Writing by George V. Higgins, The Summing Up by W. Somerset Maugham, On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner, None But a Blockhead by Larry L. King, and Chandler Speaking by Raymond Chandler.

     My library is also stocked with collections of author interviews such as the Writers at Work series featuring the Paris Review interviews conducted by George Plimpton and his colleagues. Interviewees in this eight-book series, which ran from 1958 to 1981, include Ernest Hemingway, Irwin Shaw, John O'Hara, John Cheever, and James Jones.

     I also like to read so-called "conversation with" books, collections of interviews featuring a single writer such as Mary McCarthy, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Graham Green, Tom Wolfe, and Eudora Welty.

      In 2019, I read Cast of Characters, a book by Thomas Vinciguerra about the golden years of The New Yorker and Another Life, a biography by Michael Korda about his years as a book editor and writer. In 2020 I enjoyed The Way of the Writer by Charles Johnson.

     While I've corresponded over the years with a handful of well-known authors, I've only had one literary friend. That person was the mystery writer Ross H. Spencer who died in 1998. He was a literary outsider as well,

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Child Rapists Jerry Sandusky and Earl B. Bradley: Men Who Don't Deserve to Live

     Once they have been tried and convicted, and have exhausted their appeals, pedophiles should be executed. They don't deserve to live. We shouldn't have to feed them, dress them, provide them with health care, protect them from other inmates, or hear what they have to say about anything.

     These controlling, narcissistic, remorseless, and sadistic child abusers can not be rehabilitated. While they have learned to impersonate decent human beings, except for indignation and rage, these heartless criminals are as emotionally cold as machines. They are relentless in their obsession with child sex, and no pill or shot can stop them.

     Because many child rapists are intelligent, hardworking, successful, and superficially charming, we have to constantly remind ourselves of what is going on behind the pedophile's facade of respectability and decency. The fact that some of these perverts are excellent teachers, pediatricians, priests, or football coaches, is irrelevant. Moreover, our attention should not be diverted because a pedophile has friends in high places. Children most vulnerable to these sexual predators belong to parents who are either too naive, busy, stupid, or indifferent to keep an eye on adults who pay too much attention to their children. Pedophiles also take advantage of co-workers who either protect them, or are afraid to stick their necks out and report their suspicions. Pedophiles also benefit from prosecutors who shy away from cases like this.

Jerry Sandusky

      Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State football coach convicted in 2011 of raping several boys, told a reporter with the Associated Press that he was "distraught" over the penalties the NCAA has issued to Penn State's football program. I have three questions about this: Why was a journalist even talking to this child molester? What relevance did Sandusky's opinion have to with anything? And who cared what he thought? If Jerry Sandusky were a real human being--one with empathy, self-awareness, and a conscience--he would not have made such an outrageous statement because he'd realize how most people would react to it. If the former football coach was "distraught" about anything, it should have been what he had done to all those children. Sandusky didn't care about the lives he had ruined. 

Earl B. Bradley

     In June 2011, a 58-year-old pediatrician from Lewes, Delaware named Earl B. Bradley was found guilty of raping, over a ten year period, 85 girls and one boy. All of his victims were between two and five-years old. Not only did the physician molest these toddlers, he video-taped himself doing it. When investigators, in December 2009, searched his pediatrics office, the officers found dozens of these tapes.

     At his trial, presented before a judge instead of a jury, Bradley's attorneys did not argue that he was innocent. Instead, they raised a procedural defense questioning the constitutionality of the police search of his office. The judge ruled the search constitutional, found the defendant guilty, and sentenced him to 14 life sentences plus 164 years.

    In August 2012, after spending a year in the prison library, Bradley sent a 15-page letter to the Delaware Supreme Court in which he asked the justices to take up the issue of the constitutionality of the office search that uncovered his child molestation sex tapes. In his appeal, Bradley did not deny raping 86 of his patients.

     A normal person, under these circumstances, wouldn't be capable of mustering up outrage over a supposedly unconstitutional search. This doctor, a pedophile who raped his patients, then billed their parents, referred to the police search of his office as an "assault" on his "basic and core privacy rights." 

    Every breath Earl B. Bradley takes in his cell at the state prison near Smyrna, Delaware is an affront to humanity. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

A Comedian's Take on the IRS

The IRS! They're like the Mafia, they can take anything they want!

Jerry Seinfeld 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Mother Pimp

     In April 2012, a tipster called the Nebraska State Patrol to report a woman he had met on Craigslist. According to the informant, she had sent him sexually graphic photographs of her 14-year-old daughter. For a price, this woman offered to make the girl available for sex.

     On April 26, an undercover state officer, posing as a potential John, arranged to meet the 35-year-old mother of three at a motel in Kearney, Nebraska. Michelle Randall, accompanied by her 14-year-old daughter, offered to sell herself for $150, and/or the girl for $200. The officer flashed his badge and arrested the mother. A child protection agent took custody of the teen.

     The arresting officer took Randall to the Buffalo County Jail where she was held on $250,000 bail under charges of soliciting the sexual assault of a child and possession of child pornography.

     Police and child protection personnel went to Randall's home near Minden, Nebraska where they found the suspect's other two daughters, ages 7 and 9, alone in the filthy house. The girls were placed into foster care.

     When questioned by the police, Michelle Randall admitted allowing her 41-year-old boyfriend, over a period of 14 months, to have sex with her teenage daughter and her seven year old. She also named some of the men who had paid to have sex with the girls.

     Over the next few weeks, Nebraska police officers arrested seven men, including the boyfriend, who had paid to have sex with the 14-year-old one or more times. Three of these men had sexually molested the seven-year-old sister. They were all charged with sexual assault.

     A Columbus, Nebraska man, 37-year-old Donald Grafe, had sex with the 14-year-old at a Lincoln truck stop. The other arrestees included Logan Roepke, a 22-year-old man from McCook, Nebraska; 38-year-old Alexander Rahe from Omaha; 41-year-old Shad Chandler from Lincoln; and Brian McCarthy, 25, also from Lincoln. McCarthy had pornographic images of the 14-year-old on his cellphone.

     In November 2012, Michelle Randall pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault of a child and two counts of possession of child pornography. The judge sentenced the mother pimp to 92 to 120 years in prison.

     In January 2013, Shad Chandler from Lincoln, Nebraska, pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child. Three months later the judge sentenced him to 15 to 45 years behind bars. The other patrons of child prostitution pleaded guilty and received similar sentences. In 2013, police officers arrested three more men accused of having sex with the 14-year-old girl. These men were eventually convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.  

The Short Story Market

I suspect that things were much easier back when I was starting out. Editors were actually writing to young short story writers asking if they had manuscripts! It's occurred to me that if I were an unpublished young writer right now, I might very well have to stay unpublished.

Anne Tyler in The Best American Short Stories, edited by Anne Tyler, 1983 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Decline Of Newspaper Circulation

In 1984, in a country of 235 million, U.S. daily newspaper circulation reached its peak at 63 million. Daily newspaper circulation in 2018, with a U.S. population of 350 million, dropped to 30 million. Since 2004, 1,810 newspapers have gone out of business. Today, there are only about 40,000 editors and reporters working for daily newspapers. It is an industry that is dying, and dying quickly.

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Loss of Employee Accountability

     Discussing the virtues of accountability is a little like talking about the joy of taking exams. It's not exactly what we look forward to in life. Accountability is scary--someone else judging how we're doing….But accountability is an essential part of a healthy life and a healthy society. We all know this. In this age of legal insecurity, however, we are no longer free to act on the obvious--as with our obsession with safety and with rights. We want a perfect world, without failures or disagreements.

     In striving for this utopia we don't notice all the vital benefits that we lose. The freedom of people to make accountability judgments is vital to just about everything important and joyful in work life…

     To see ourselves as we really are, we need the mirror of other people's views. Scientists tell us that most people are incapable of accurately judging themselves, because humans are hard-wired by nature to be self-centered. Our founders believed this as well--that a human being was an atom of self-interest. By protecting against the judgment of others, modern personnel law [employer-employee relations] fosters these worst tendencies in humans, starting a downward spiral…

     One federal judge told me about presiding over a discrimination trial in which the facts of the worker's incompetence were overwhelming. As the trial progressed, it was clear to everyone in the courtroom that the worker had no claim. When the verdict came in dismissing his claim, however, the employee still couldn't see it. He sat in the courtroom in disbelief, crying in frustration at the injustice that had been done to him. Inside a legal cocoon, people let their imaginations replace reality.

Philip K. Howard, Life Without Lawyers, 2009 

The First Women In American Law Enforcement

Women found a place in early-twentieth-century police departments in part because the idea of what police were for was in flux. A hundred years later, we're accustomed to images of police as militarized soldiers in the never-ending war on crime. But in the early decades of the last century, policing was as much about promoting social welfare as preserving law and order. Female officers tended to runaways, enforced child labor laws, and searched for missing children.

Rachel Monroe, Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Yale Professor Samuel See's Jailhouse Death

     Samuel Ryan See grew up in California's Central Valley where he attended California State University in his hometown of Bakersfield. After acquiring his Bachelors of Arts degree, See earned a Ph.D from the University of California, Los Angeles.

     In May 2013, the 34-year-old assistant professor of English and American Studies at Yale University married Sunder Ganglani, a former student at the Yale School of Drama. The two men took up residence in a house in New Haven, Connecticut. 
     Professor See's academic focus, as described on his Facebook page, included "British and American Modernist Literature and Sexuality Studies." In addition to writing about sexual orientation in modern literature, See moonlighted, under the alias Ryan Cochran, as a male escort. In one of Ryan Cochran's Internet profiles, See described himself as loving sex and being with men. "I can get into all kinds of sexual and social situations--just name your pleasure. I'm down to earth, humble [really?], personally generous, and horny a lot of the time." Professor See was, in other words, a male prostitute.
     Dr. See, on leave from Yale University during the fall semester 2013, was not getting along with his 32-year-old husband. On September 18, 2013, officers with the New Haven Police Department, after responding to a domestic call at See's residence, arrested See and Sunder Ganglani for breaching the peace and third-degree assault. 
     After a judge issued orders of protection requiring that the two men stay away from each other, Ganglani moved to New York City. 
     At five in the evening of Saturday, November 23, 2013, Ganglani, in violation of his protection order, showed up at the New Haven house to retrieve some of his possessions. Two hours later the estranged couple were engaged in a heated argument. The fight became so intense a third man in the house called the police. 
     When the responding officers couldn't calm down the combatants, they placed both men under arrest for violating their protection orders. This infuriated See who couldn't believe he was being arrested in his own home. The situation escalated when See fought against being handcuffed. In the scuffle with officers, Professor See fell and sustained a cut above his right eye. 
     While being escorted in handcuffs to the police vehicle, See, in addressing the arresting officer, said,  "I will kill you. I will destroy you."
     Following his treatment at the Yale-New Haven Hospital, police officers booked See into the police department jail on the additional charges of interfering with police and second-degree threatening. He was placed into a cell at nine-fifteen that night.
     At six o'clock the next morning, when a guard checked on Professor See, he found the prisoner unresponsive. The officer called for paramedic help then tried to revive Dr. See with CPR. Fifteen minutes later, emergency service responders pronounced the inmate dead.

     The forensic pathologist who performed Dr. See's autopsy ruled out trauma as the cause of death. (From this I assume the professor did not hang himself or cut his wrists. And he wasn't attacked by another prisoner.)

     In January 2014, Chief State Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill announced that professor See had died of a heart attack brought on by methamphetamine and amphetamine intoxication. The manner of death went into the books as accidental.

     In September 2014, a See family lawyer, after reviewing police and hospital records, told reporters that Mr. See may have died of either neglect or mistreatment at the jail. Attorney David Rosen pointed out that Professor See's death had not been reported to the police for three days after his passing. Although the family was considering filing a wrongful death suit against the authorities, the lawyer conceded that there probably wasn't enough evidence of official negligence or wrongdoing to support such an action. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Lucious Smith Murder Case: The Dangerous Job of Helping Dangerous People

     Stephanie Ross, after graduating in 2009 from the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in psychology, landed a job as a counselor at a central Florida high school. In September 2012, the 25-year-old began working for a firm that according to its corporate literature, provided a "...comprehensive approach to managing the health needs [for insurance companies'] most costly and complex members." Ross' employer, Integra Health Management Company, arranged health care for clients diagnosed with chronic illnesses. Ross had been hired as a service coordinator which involved visits to the homes of disabled people.

     One of Ross' mentally deranged clients, 53-year-old Lucious Smith, lived in a one-story, cement-block apartment complex in Dade City, a town thirty miles north of Tampa. Smith, an anti-social person who was seriously mentally disturbed, paranoid, and violent, embodied the kind of man nobody wants as a neighbor, co-worker, relative, customer, or mental health patient. Residents of the neighborhood perceived Smith as more than just a bellicose pain-in-the-neck, they considered him physically dangerous. Because association with this man brought trouble, he was a person to avoid.

     Since 1981, Lucious Smith had served four separate stints in Florida's prison system for committing various crimes of violence. In 2005, after doing seven years for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, Smith moved into the small apartment in Dade City. (Since he didn't have a job, he must have been on the public dole). Over the next six years, police were called to investigate 60 criminal complaints against Smith that included assault, trespassing, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct. Smith constantly fought and threatened his neighbors, and as a result of his bad behavior, had been banned from the local convenience store.

     As part of her job, Stephanie Ross had to visit Lucious Smith in his apartment. After three house visitations, Ross placed a notation in Smith's file that this man had made her "very uncomfortable."

     On the morning of December 10, 2012, Stephanie Ross was in Dade City delivering insurance paperwork to Mr. Smith. Shortly after entering Smith's apartment, neighbors and other witnesses saw Lucious Smith chasing a young woman down the street. Stephanie Ross was yelling, "Help me! Help me!" As she ran, Smith stabbed her in the back with a butcher's knife. Smith grabbed the fleeing victim by her pony-tail and threw her to the ground. He climbed on top of his bleeding victim and plunged the knife several more times into her body.

     As people ran to Stephanie Ross' aid, Smith got up and casually strolled back to his apartment. A motorist pulled up to the bloody scene and drove Ross to a nearby hospital where she died a few hours later.

     Not long after the fatal knife attack, police officers found Smith waiting for them outside his apartment. They arrested him without incident and took him to the Pasco County Jail where he was held without bond. A local prosecutor charged Smith with first-degree murder. Shortly thereafter, a grand jury indicted him on that charge.

     In February 2013, two psychologists hired by Smith's defense attorney testified at a preliminary hearing that Mr. Smith was still mentally ill and therefore not competent to stand trial. A psychiatrist hired by the state disagreed. As a result, the judge ruled the defendant mentally competent. However, in May 2013, after further examinations of Mr. Smith, the state mental health expert changed his evaluation. This led the judge to change his mind and rule the defendant incompetent for trial. Judge Pat Siracusa ordered that Mr. Smith be treated at a state mental hospital until doctors there determined he was competent to stand trial.

     On June 11, 2013, the U. S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Integra Health Management with two workplace safety violations. According the the agency's news release, "A serious violation has been cited for exposing employees to incidents of violent behavior that resulted in death." The second violation involved the company's failure to report the workplace fatality.

     In February 2014, Stephanie Ross' family filed a wrongful death negligence suit against her former employer, Integra Health Management and several other firms including the owner of Smith's apartment complex and his insurer. According to the plaintiffs, Ross' Integra Health Management supervisor, aware of her documented concerns about Mr. Smith, "took no action whatsoever." The plaintiffs' attorney, Bradley Stewart, argued that the employer violated its duty to protect Ross from violence.

     Who knows how many ticking time-bombs like Lucious Smith live among us. Social workers like Stephanie Ross whose work puts them in touch with people like Smith are more vulnerable than the police who are armed and wear bullet-proof vests. Violent, out of control mental cases should not be living in open society and social workers and others who try to help them do so at great risk to themselves.

     As of October 2020, Lucious Smith had not been tried for Stephanie Ross' murder. If the Ross lawsuits had been resolved with either verdicts or settlements, there is no record of these outcomes on the Internet.

The First "Selfies"

The first selfies involved politicians: Self-centered, self-righteous, self-deluded, and self-serving.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Arthur Morgan III: A Narcissistic, Remorseless Child Killer

     By November 2011, Imani Benton, a 26-year-old resident of Lakehurst, New Jersey, had terminated her relationship with Arthur Morgan III, the father of their two-year-old daughter, Tierra. The couple had fought constantly, and on several occasions had taken each other to court. He continued to deny the breakup even after she returned the engagement ring and the other jewelry he had given her. The two of them had also traded accusations of child abuse. As a result of Benton's domestic abuse complaints, state child protection agents conducted four separate investigations that ended up clearing Morgan of these accusations. As a result, he continued to have access to his daughter.

     On November 15, Morgan's boss at Creative Building Supplies Company in Lakewood, New Jersey fired him.

     On November 21, 2011, just eight hours after he had called Imani Benton a bad mother and a whore, Morgan made arrangements with her to take Tierra to see a movie about dancing penguins. Four hours after Morgan promised to return the toddler, the girl's mother called the police to report Tierra missing.

     Police officers from thirteen New Jersey law enforcement agencies looked for the girl and her missing father. The search came to an end when searchers found Tierra's body in Shark River Park twenty miles north of her Lakehurst home.

     Homicide investigators believed that Arthur Morgan had dropped the girl's car seat, with her strapped into it, fifteen feet into a creek that ran below an overpass. The partially submerged car seat had been weighed down by a car jack. The drowned girl, still wearing her Pink Hello Kitty hat, had landed in three feet of water. (According to the father who did not deny throwing his daughter off the bridge, he heard her scream as he got back into his car.)

     After leaving his daughter to drown in the creek beneath the overpass, Arthur Morgan drove to a friend's house where he had a few drinks. The next day, he boarded a train for San Diego, California.

     At four in the afternoon on November 29, 2011, agents with the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Morgan at a house in San Diego. (He was arrested on a federal unlawful flight to avoid prosecution warrant. These UFAP warrants are dismissed after the fugitive is returned to the local jurisdiction.)

     Back in New Jersey a few days after his apprehension, Morgan faced the charge of first-degree murder. Over the objection of his court-appointed lawyer, the arraignment judge set Morgan's bond at $10 million. Peter J. Warshaw Jr., the Monmouth County prosecutor in charge of the case, said he would seek the maximum penalty of life without parole. (New Jersey had abolished the death penalty several years ago.)

     The Arthur Morgan child murder trial got underway in a Freehold, New Jersey Superior Court on March 12, 2014. In his opening remarks to the jury, prosecutor Warshaw accused the defendant of killing his daughter simply because he was angry that Imani Benton had ended their relationship. According to the prosecutor, Morgan killed Tierra to get back at his former girlfriend. Mr. Warshaw called the killing a "knowing and purposeful murder" motivated by pride and revenge.

     The public defender told the jurors that her client was merely guilty of reckless manslaughter, a lesser degree of criminal homicide that carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Given the undisputed facts of this case, that would turn out to be a hard sell.

     The murdered girl's mother, Imani Benton, took the stand as the prosecution's star witness. To the jury, Benton read a letter the defendant had sent her from the San Diego jail shortly after his arrest. In that letter, Morgan, in justifying the murder, accused members of Benton's family of abusing Tierra. He referred to their behavior as "heinous and depraved." Morgan also blamed the girl's mother for her death: "You should have come with us to the movie. It would have been so different, I'm sure. That was the plan, to go as a family."

     Regarding the defendant's self-serving letter, Imani Benton testified that, "If I would have gone to the movie, we wouldn't have gone to the movie. We all would be dead."

     One of the defendant's co-workers at the Lakewood lumber yard testified that Morgan had been paid every Tuesday, and by Friday, he was broke. According to Tulio Bazan, the defendant spent a lot of money on clothes. "He showed me the Gucci sunglasses, a Gucci wallet, and the Gucci shoes." Morgan told the witness that the wallet itself cost him $400.

     In mid-April 2014, the jury in Freehold, New Jersey, following a short period of deliberation, found Arthur Morgan guilty as charged.

     Six weeks after the guilty verdict, at his May 28, 2014 sentence hearing, the convicted murderer apologized to Imani Benton for the breakdown of their relationship. (He didn't apologize for killing their daughter.) "I want to say I'm sorry for the deterioration of what I thought was a beautiful friendship between the two of us that blossomed into a daughter. For anybody that was truly affected by this, I hope we can all heal from the situation, knowing that Tierra is in a better place." (In other words, he was the victim in this story.)

     As one might expect from a narcissistic sociopath with a god-complex, the convicted murderer whined about the media coverage of the trial. He said he didn't like newspaper photographs that depicted him as either angry or inappropriately jolly. He informed the court that had he known that reporters would make negative comments about his designer courtroom attire, he would have dressed more modestly.

     The complaining sociopath also rambled on about how badly his murder victim had been treated by members of Benton's family. He contrasted that behavior to how, before he murdered his daughter out of wounded pride, he had been such an excellent father.

     Judge Anthony Mellaci, Jr., before handing down Morgan's sentence, lamented that New Jersey no longer imposed the death penalty. "You'd be candidate number one for its imposition," he said. "Your actions were horrific, unthinkable and appalling. This child was alive when she was placed in the water in pitch darkness. She had to suffer the unthinkable action of having water rush in and fill her lungs while strapped into that car seat. This child suffered before she died."

     Judge Mellaci sentenced the remorseless sociopath to life in prison without the possibility of parole.