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Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Ron Jeremy Sexual Assault Case: The Legacy of a Former Porn Star

     Ronald Jeremy Hyatt, born in 1953 into a middle class family, grew up in Queens, New York. Following a stint as a school teacher he tried to establish a career as an actor on Broadway. When that didn't pan out, the chubby, five-foot six aspiring actor moved to the Los Angeles area to pursue a career in the film industry. Hyatt, now going under the name Ron Jeremy, found his place as a Hollywood actor when in 1979 the 26-year-old appeared in his first porn flick. (According to porn film fans, inches that would have made Jeremy six-foot three, ended up elsewhere. For the porn industry he was tall in the right place.)

     By 2018, having appeared in more than 2,200 adult films, Ron Jeremy, having acquired the nickname "Hedgehog" because of his stature and hairy body, had become an icon in the porn business. According to the Guinness Book of World Records he held the record in the category "Most Appearances in Adult Films." Moreover, his fame reached beyond the porn community into popular culture where, through endorsements and his "acting," he became a multi-millionaire. In 2001 Jeremy was the subject of a documentary called "Porn Star: The Legacy of Ron Jeremy."

     On November 15, 2017 Rolling Stone published an article by EJ Dickson that discussed a June 2017 YouTube video posted by a woman named Ginger Banks. In that ten-minute clip Banks told the stories of several women who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Ron Jeremy.

     Ron Jeremy's attorney attempted to get Rolling Stone to retract the damning piece, but the magazine stood behind the reporting.

     In 2018, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau launched an investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Ron Jeremy.

     On June 23, 2020, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies arrested the former porn star. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office charged Jeremy with raping a 25-year-old woman in her home in West Hollywood in May 2014. He also faced charges related to the sexual assault, on separate occasions, of two women in a West Hollywood bar. The alleged assaults of these women, ages 33 and 46, took place in 2017. The final charge involved the alleged rape, in the same bar, of a 30-year-old woman. This offense allegedly occurred in July 2019.

     The 67-year-old former porn star, incarcerated in the Los Angeles County Jail under $6.6 million bond, pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted as charged he faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

     On August 31, 2020, Ron Jeremy was back in court to face 20 additional sexual assault charges involving 13 women ages 15 to 56. The oldest alleged crime took place in 2004.

     The new charges included six counts of sexual battery by restraint, five counts of forcible rape, three counts of forcible oral copulation and two counts of forcible penetration by a foreign object. Ron Jeremy also stood accused of one count each of sodomy assault with intent to commit rape, penetration by a foreign object on an unconscious or sleeping victim and lewd conduct with a 15-year-old girl.

     The most recent sexual allegation against Ron Jeremy took place on January 1, 2020 when he allegedly assaulted a 21-year-old woman outside a business in West Hollywood.

     Ron Jeremy pleaded not guilty to the August 31, 2020 sexual assault charges.
     In January 2023, a judge found Jeremy incompetent to stand trial due to "neurocognative decline." Nine months later the 70-year-old defendant, with dementia and declining health, was released from his jail cell in Los Angeles to a private residence. It is doubtful he will ever be tried for any of the above crimes.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Marybeth Tinning: America's Worst Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy Case

     In January 1972 Marybeth Tinning's 8-day-old daughter Jennifer died of acute meningitis. The death brought Marybeth a wave of sympathy from her friends and neighbors. The nurse's aide, married to a cold and indifferent man who worked at the Local General Electric plant in Schenectady, New York, welcomed the attention she did not get from her husband. Three weeks after Jennifer's death Marybeth rushed her 2-year-old son Joseph to Schenectady's Ellis Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Without the benefit of an autopsy doctors diagnosed the boy's cause of death as a viral infection accompanied by a "seizure disorder."

     The tragic loss of two children within a span of three weeks brought Marybeth Tinning an intense amount of sympathy and attention. This once ignored and lonely woman fit the criminal profile of a person with the so-called  Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy personality disorder. Mothers with MSBP hurt or kill their children for the sympathy and attention they receive from friends, family and hospital personnel. However it wasn't until 1977 that members of law enforcement and the medical community became aware of this homicidal motive.

     Tragedy hit the Tinning family six weeks after Joseph's death when 4-year-old Barbara Tinning died. Following the third death of a Tinning child, hospital personnel, suspicious of foul play, notified the police. The pathologist, however, by identifying the cause of death as cardiac arrest precluded a criminal investigation.

     A year and a half after Barbara Tinning's sudden death, 2-week-old Timothy Tinning died at Ellis Hospital while being treated for a mysterious illness. The pathologist, unable to identify the cause of death, recorded it as a Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) case. ( SIDS is not a cause a death but merely a description of the death. However, it sounds more scientific than "unknown death.")

     In September 1975, Nathan Tinning, five months old, died of "pulmonary edema." While hospital personnel were growing increasingly suspicious, the police didn't get involved because all of the deaths except one had been classified as natural and the one exception had gone into the books as SIDS.

     Three and a half years after Nathan Tinning died Marybeth lost another child to death. Mary Tinning, age two and a half, had been a healthy child who for reasons that baffled physicians suddenly died. Although she was not by definition an infant, the child's death was recorded as another SIDS fatality.

     In 1980, after the sixth Tinning child had died of undetermined causes, sympathy for Marybeth was hardening into suspicion of murder. At the Ellis Hospital, among a dwindling group of Marybeth sympathizers, there was speculation that perhaps the Tinning family had been cursed with a "death gene." On August 2, 1981 emergency personnel rushed 3-year-old Michael Tinning, suffering from breathing difficulties, to the hospital where he died shortly thereafter. The official cause of death--bronchial pneumonia--didn't stem the tide of suspicion. The fact that Michael had been adopted laid waste to the death gene theory.

     In less than ten years seven children from the same family had died mysteriously and no one in the health care or law enforcement communities had asked the person most closely associated with each fatality, Marybeth Tinning, if she had anything to do with these deaths. While a few of her friends and neighbors still considered Marybeth a tragic, cursed figure deserving of their sympathy, her husband Joe seemed unfazed by it all.

     On the night of December 19, 1985, four years and three months after Michael Tinning's death, Marybeth telephoned her neighbor, also a nurse's aide, and said, "Get over here now!" The neighbor arrived at the Tinning house and found 3-month-old Tami Lynne, born when Marybeth was forty-two, lying on a changing table. The infant had turned purple and was not breathing. According to Marybeth the baby had been fusing all evening and when she (Tinning) couldn't stand it anymore she got up from watching television to ascertain why the infant was crying. She said she found her child tangled in blankets and not breathing. Unable to revive the baby she rousted Joe out of bed, called her neighbor then telephoned for an ambulance. The emergency personnel reached the house shortly after the neighbor arrived. At St. Clare's Hospital doctors pronounced Tami Lynne Tinning dead.

     The forensic pathologist who performed the infant's autopsy knew the Tinning family history of sudden death. Notwithstanding this knowledge and purple coloration that suggested death by suffocation, the pathologist classified this fatality as a case of SIDS. Hospital personnel, however, suspected criminal homicide. They believed that Marybeth Tinning was a serial killer.

     The local police had been suspicious of Marybeth for years but because none of the autopsies had resulted in a finding of homicidal death, detectives could not justify a criminal investigation. All they had to go on was the statistical unlikelihood of so many mysterious deaths occurring under the same roof to the same mother. After Tami Lynne's death a detective from the Schenectady Police Department went to the Tinning residence to ask Marybeth about the circumstances of the infant's passing. When the officer entered the house Marybeth said, "I know what you're here for. You're going to arrest me and take me to jail." The detective did not take her into custody but the investigation had begun.

     Detectives from the Schenectady Police Department and investigators with the New York State Police met in Albany to review the eight Tinning autopsy reports, pertinent hospital records and statements made by ambulance and emergency room personnel. After the meeting the officers agreed that without physical evidence of child abuse, an eyewitness, or a cooperating spouse, they needed a confession. If Marybeth did not confess to killing her children they had no case. A little help from the forensic medicine community would have gone a long way in aiding the police, but it wasn't there. Marybeth Tinning would have to confess.

     Seven weeks after Tami Lynne's death a Schenectady detective and a state police investigator went to the Tinning house and asked Marybeth to accompany them to the state police station in Louderville for questioning. Although she knew she was not under arrest Marybeth agreed to be questioned. In the interrogation room the suspect said she understood her Miranda rights and agreed to waive them. Initially, according to the police account of the interrogation (which was not recorded) Marybeth denied doing anything to her children that would have caused their deaths. The detectives made it clear that they did not believe this and not long into the interrogation they were joined by another officer, a state trooper who had known Marybeth from childhood. "I didn't do it!" she kept saying. The interrogators, convinced she was lying, pressed on.

     Eventually breaking down under the pressure of the station house interrogation, Marybeth admitted that she had killed three of her children. She said she had used a pillow to smother 3-month-old Tami Lynne, 5-month-old Nathan and 2-week-old Timothy. She denied foul play in the other five deaths. Detectives brought her husband Joe into the interrogation room and she repeated her admission to him. Joe Tinning seemed unmoved by the news that his wife had murdered three of their children.

     A stenographer typed up the confession in a question-and-answer format, a transcript that ran to 36 pages. When describing Tami Lynne's death, Marybeth said, "I got up and went to her crib and tried to do something with her to get her to stop crying. I finally used the pillow from my bed and put it over her head. I held it until she stopped crying."

     A team of forensic pathologists examined the exhumed bodies of the three infants. Two were too badly decomposed to render any clues and the third turned out to a body taken from the wrong grave. On December 16, 1986, at the preliminary hearing, Marybeth rescinded her confession claiming that her interrogators had forced her into confessing falsely. "They were telling me what to say," she said. "The police made a statement and I just repeated it." Marybeth's attorney asked the judge to exclude the 36-page confession on the grounds it had been acquired in violation of his client's Miranda rights. The judge denied the motion.

     A local prosecutor charged Marybeth Tinning with the murder of Tami Lynne, the last child to die. The case went to trial in 1987. The forensic pathologist who had initially ruled the death a SIDS fatality took the stand and testified that the child had been smothered to death. Five other pathologists for the prosecution agreed with this postmortem diagnosis.

     The defense countered with six forensic pathologists of their own who attributed Tami Lynne's death to a variety of natural causes. One of the defense experts testified that the child had died from Wernig-Hoffman disease, a genetic disorder that attacks the spinal column.

     The jury, confused by the conflicting medical testimony, relied on the defendant's confession to find her guilty. The jurors may also have found it difficult to believe that eight children from one family, including an adopted child, could have died of natural causes. (Actually nine if you count the first child's death.)

     At the Tinning trial, forensic science, instead of guiding this jury to a verdict, had cancelled itself out. Apparently unsure if Marybeth had intentionally killed her child for the attention she would get, the jurors found her guilty of murder in the second degree, an offense that carried a maximum sentence of 25 years to life.

     At her sentencing hearing, Marybeth, reading from a prepared statement said, "I just want you to know that I played no part in the death of my daughter, Tami Lynne. I did not commit this crime but will serve the time in prison to the best of my ability. However, I will never stop fighting to prove my innocence." The judge imposed the maximum sentence of 25 years to life.

     Although the Tinning case is an extreme manifestation of the Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy personality disorder, it is not the only case in the history of sudden infant death where an alarming number of babies have died before law enforcement authorities launched criminal investigations. (The Marie Noe case in Philadelphia is another example.) Before England's Dr. Roy Meadow introduced this syndrome into the vocabulary of murder, mothers in multiple death cases were less likely to come under suspicion of murder.

     In March 2007, after living twenty years in prison, Marybeth Tinning had her first parole board hearing. To the board members she said, "I have to be honest and the only thing I can tell you is that I know that my daughter is dead. I live with it every day. I have no recollection and I can't believe that I harmed her." The board denied her request for parole.

   In late January 2009, at her second parole hearing, Tinning said, "I was going through bad times when I killed my daughter." The board, believing that her remorse was "superficial at best," denied her parole. She was denied early release in 2011 and 2012.

     In June 2016, the parole board, for the fourth time, denied Marybeth Tinning's bid for freedom. After being denied two more times Marybeth Tinning was granted parole on August 12, 2018. She had been in prison 30 years.

Friday, December 29, 2023

The Colleen Harris Murder Case

     In 1985, 47-year-old James Batten kicked his wife Colleen out of the house. The estranged couple lived in Placerville, California, a town of 10,000 in the Sacramento metropolitan region. On the night of July 31, 1985, Colleen Batten called the El Dorado County Sheriff's office from her husband's residence and said, "I shot my husband. I think, I don't know, I don't remember. I don't know if I even shot him."

     Police officers found James Batten, Colleen's second husband, lying dead in his bed from two close-range shotgun blasts. The newly minted 43-year-old widow told the officers she had shot her husband in self-defense. She claimed he threatened to kill her and rape her daughter from her first marriage.

     Charged with first-degree murder, Colleen Batten went on trial in February 1986. A psychiatrist took the stand for the defense and testified that Colleen didn't remember much about the shooting because she suffered from a condition he called, "limited amnesia."

     At the conclusion of the three-week trial the jury, after deliberating almost two days, returned a verdict of not guilty. One of the jurors, in speaking to a reporter after the trial, said, "The net result was that we felt there was insufficient proof of intent to commit first-degree murder." (The prosecutor had made the mistake of not providing this jury the option of finding the defendant guilty of a lesser homicide offense. Faced with sending Colleen away for life or letting her walk, the jurors set her free.)

     Colleen married again, but in 2005 she and her third husband, 66-year-old Robert Harris, filed for divorce. The couple remained married, however. Although he resided in a cabin on South Lake Tahoe, Mr. Harris, in late 2012, returned to the Placerville house to care for his estranged wife as she recovered from hip surgery.
     On January 6, 2013, Colleen was once again on the phone with the police. For the second time in 27 years she was informing officers she had used a shotgun to blow away a spouse. (It was a different shotgun.)

     The police arrived at the Harris residence that night to find the newly widowed 70-year-old in the kitchen washing dishes. In the bedroom the police found Mr. Harris in bed with an upper torso shotgun wound.

    Police officers booked Coleen Harris into the El Dorado County Jail on the charge of first-degree murder.

     The second Coleen Harris murder trial got underway on March 18, 2015 in the El Dorado County Courthouse. In his opening statement to the jury, Deputy District Attorney Joe Alexander said the defendant had murdered her estranged husband in a fit of jealousy. On January 5, 2013, the day before the shooting, the defendant caught Mr. Harris standing outside the house on his cellphone with his overseas lover. This, plus the fact Mr. Harris had revealed his plan to move back to his cabin, had pushed the defendant over the edge.

     Defense attorney David Weiner, the lawyer who had successfully represented Coleen Harris at her previous murder trial, did not make an opening statement to the jury.

      Pam Stirling, the murdered man's daughter, took the stand for the prosecution. According to this witness, on the day before her father was shotgunned to death, the defendant sent her a text message that read: "Between you and me, as I sit here wondering who I am married to, your dad just called his Mongolia lover."

     The victim's daughter, in referring to the defendant, said, "Her emotions were going up and down. I was concerned that we would end up where we are today." The witness said her father, as a precaution, had installed new locks on his South Lake Tahoe cabin.

      Pam Stirling was followed to the stand by police officers and detectives involved in the case.

     On March 25, 2015, defense attorney Weiner said his client, on the day of the shooting, had been in a "gray fog."

     Defense attorney Weiner, on April 2, 2015, following the closing of the prosecution's case, put Colleen Harris on the stand. The defendant said that after she and her husband had argued over his paramour in Mongolia, she went into their darkened bedroom to console him and to make up. When she reached out to rub his neck, she felt the barrel of a shotgun. "I said, 'Bob, what are you doing? Why do you have this gun with you?' I thought he was going to kill himself."

     The murder defendant testified that in response to her efforts to make up with her husband he cursed and pushed her away. She said she felt a blow to her chest and thought it was the butt of the shotgun. She ran out of the room.

     According to the murder suspect, when she returned to the bedroom that night she reached over to her husband on the bed and asked, "Bob, are you okay?" She said she saw blood on his pillow and thought he was having a nose bleed. "I turned on the light and oh God, I saw the most horrible thing I have ever seen in my life. I said, "No, please! This can't be!' "

     In his cross-examination of the defendant prosecutor Joe Alexander said, "The truth is, Mrs. Harris, you were holding the gun when Bob Harris was killed."

     "I guess I was," she answered. The witness, however, vehemently denied pulling the trigger.

     Prosecutor Alexander, on April 14, 2015 in his closing statement to the jury, said the defendant "entered the room with a shotgun. She aimed it as Bob lay sleeping. She put a finger on the trigger--and pulled that trigger."

     On April 15, 2015, after deliberating less than two hours, the jury returned a verdict of first-degree murder. The defendant put her hands over her face and cried. The judge sentenced her to life in prison.

     In speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Colleen Harris' attorney said, "She took it hard, hard, hard. She is distraught." 

Thursday, December 28, 2023

What Happened to Kristi Richardson?

     In 1979 Ronald Richardson and his wife Kristi started the Richardson Trucking Company, a Casper, Wyoming business that specialized in the transportation of oil and gas industry equipment.

     On April 29, 2013 Ronald Richardson, at age 63, died. Kristi, his 60-year-old widow took control of the company. She resided in an affluent suburb of Casper, a city of 55,000 in the central part of the state that had become the center of a booming oil and gas industry that had brought crime and violence to a community with a traditionally low crime rate.

     Late in the afternoon of October 6, 2014 Kristi Richardson drove to her daughter Amber's house a block from her residence to drop off a birthday card and visit her grandchildren. At seven-forty that evening she took a routine call from one of her drivers. The next call, one made to Kristi's cellphone at eleven that night, went unanswered.

     The next morning when Kristi Richardson didn't show up for work at the trucking company, an employee called the house. When no one picked up the phone the employee notified the owner's daughter.

     Because all of the doors were locked at Kristi's house, her daughter gained entry into the dwelling by using a garage door opener. Kristi's car sat in the garage and her purse, containing her credit cards and $800 in cash, lay on the kitchen counter.

     In the bedroom Amber found her mother's cellphone lying on the bed. The only items missing from the home were Kristi's garage door opener and a hoodie she regularly wore. The daughter reported her mother missing to the Casper Police Department.

     Over the next several days officers with the Casper Police Department, Natrona County Sheriff's Office, fire and EMS personnel and citizen volunteers searched for the missing woman. The authorities used a helicopter to search parts of Casper Mountain.

     Members of Kristi's family who believed she had been the victim of foul play because she never left the house without her car, posted a $25,000 reward for information regarding her disappearance and whereabouts. Kristi's daughter told a reporter that "I believe someone was at the house before she got home."

     The Casper Star Tribune reported that crime scene investigators had found traces of blood and urine on the missing woman's bed. Detectives were looking into the possibility that Kristi had been abducted and murdered by either an employee, customer or business competitor.

     On May 5, 2017, with Kristi Richardson still missing and no arrests in the case, the mayor fired Casper Chief of Police Jim Wetzel. Reporters covering the case believed there might have been a police cover-up regarding a locally influential person of interest. On May 18, 2017, interim Chief of Police Steve Schultz turned the Richardson investigation over to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

     As of this writing Kristi Richardson remains missing and no arrests have been made. The missing woman's family has offered a $250.000 reward for information regarding her disappearance.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The Matthew White Murder Case

     In 1979, Matthew White, a six-foot-eleven center from Bethesda, Maryland, led the University of Pennsylvania Quakers to the NCAA final four. White was picked that year in the fifth round of the NBA draft by the Portland Trailblazers. Instead of entering the NBA, he earned a MBA from the Wharton School of Business. In 1984 Mr. White moved to Spain where, for the next twelve years, he played professional basketball. While in Spain the basketball player met and married Marie Reyes Garcia-Pellon.

     In 2010 after he suffered a stroke, Mr. White and Garcia-Pellon moved from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania to Nether Providence, a township near the eastern Pennsylvania town of Media. He, his wife and their 20-year-old son and teen-age daughter moved into a ranch-style home. Garcia-Pellon worked as a teacher's aide at the Nether Providence Elementary School.

     On February 10, 2013 the 55-year-old former Ivy League basketball star took his wife to an area hospital after her friends expressed concern about her mental health. Garcia-Pellon, no stranger to mental illness, had previously undergone psychiatric treatment. For some reason she was not admitted into the hospital that Sunday.

     On Monday afternoon, February 11, 2013, a friend of Garcia-Pellon's called the police department to report that Matthew White may have been murdered by his wife. At the Nether Providence house police officers found Matthew White sprawled out dead in the master bedroom. He had been stabbed in the neck.

     When questioned at the death scene Garcia-Pellon told the responders that sometime between midnight and one in the morning she got out of bed and walked into the kitchen where she picked up two knives. She returned to her husband, slipped the knives under her side of the bed and waited for him to fall asleep. When she was certain he was asleep she used one of the knives to stab him in the neck. The victim rose up, cried, "I'm dying, I'm dying" then fell back onto the bed and died.

     After killing her husband Garcia-Pellon got dressed and left the house. (Her son was no longer living at home and her daughter was attending college.) Later in the day she showed up at a friend's house. Garcia-Pellon told her friend that she had stabbed Matthew in the neck as he slept. The friend called the police.

     As a police officer handcuffed the 52-year-old murder suspect, Garcia-Pellon said, "I caught him looking at pornography, young girls. I love kids. I had to do it." (According to the police there was no evidence in White's computer that he had been viewing child pornography.)

     On Monday night the Delaware County district attorney charged Garcia-Pellon with first-degree murder, criminal homicide and possession of an instrument of crime. She was held without bail in the Delaware County Jail.

     Kathryn Labrum, Garcia-Pellon's Media, Pennsylvania attorney, on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 told reporters that her client was "so separated from reality right now." The lawyer described Garcia-Pellon's mental state as a "psychiatric crises." Attorney Labrum  said:  "He [Matthew White] knew that she needed help, tried to get her help and there you have it--a beautiful family ruined."

     In February 2015, after being found guilty of murder but mentally ill (a verdict that required mental health treatment while serving a 25-year prison term) the judge immediately probated Garcia-Pellon's sentence and ordered her transferred from the jail to the Norristown State Hospital. The judge did not believe the prison system was equipped to deal with someone so insane. The adjusted sentence meant that Garcia-Pellon, when declared sane, could be placed back into society. No one associated with this case seemed to object to this outcome.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The Phil Spector Murder Case

     In the morning of February 3, 2003, Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies responded to a call from the Alhambra mansion owned by Phil Spector, the 67-year-old music producer who became famous in the 1960s for his "wall of sound." In the foyer the deputies found 40-year-old actress Lana Clarkson slumped in a chair. She had been shot once in the mouth by the .38-caliber Cobra revolver lying on the floor under her right hand. When the fatal shot had been fired Clarkson and Spector were the only people in the house.

      Mr. Spector's chauffeur told the police that at five in the morning he heard a noise that sounded like a gunshot. Shortly after that Phil Spector came out of the mansion carrying a handgun. According to the driver, Spector had said, "I think I killed somebody."

     The music producer met the victim the previous night at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip where the struggling actress worked as a hostess for $9 per hour. When the nightclub closed for the night she accompanied Spector back to his house for a drink. According to Spector's account of the death, Lana Clarkson committed suicide.

     The crime scene investigation and the analysis of the physical evidence featured forensic pathology, the location of the gunshot residue and the interpretation of the blood spatter patterns. Los Angeles Deputy Coroner Dr. Louis Pena visited the death scene then later conducted the autopsy. The forensic pathologist, at the autopsy, found bruises on the victim's right arm and wrist that suggested a struggle. A missing fingernail on Clarkson's right hand also indicated some kind of violence just prior to the shooting. Her bruised tongue led Dr. Pena to conclude that the gun had been forced into the victim's mouth. Its recoil had shattered her front teeth. Clarkson's purse was found slung over her right shoulder. Since she was right-handed and would have used that hand tho hold the gun, the deputy coroner questioned suicide as the manner of death. Based on his crime scene examination and autopsy, Dr. Pena ruled Lana Clarkson's death a criminal homicide. The police arrested Phil Spector who retained his freedom by posting the $1 million bail.

     Blood spatter analysts from sheriff's office criminalists concluded that after the shooting, Mr. Spector had pressed the victim's right hand around the gun handle, placed the revolver temporarily into his pants pocket, later wiped it clean of his fingerprints then laid it near her body. From the bloodstains on his jacket the government experts concluded he had been standing within two feet of the victim when the gun went off. The absence of her blood spray on a nearby wall led the spatter analysts to believe that Spector had been standing between the victim and the unstained surface when he fired the bullet into her mouth. Gunshot residue experts found traces of gunpowder on Spector's hands.

     The forensic work performed by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office and the sheriff's department had not been flawless. A dental evidence technician had lost one of the victim's teeth; a criminalist had used lift-off tape to retrieve trace evidence from the victim's dress which had interfered with the serology analysis; and the corpse had been moved at the scene, causing unnatural, postmortem blood flow from her mouth which compromised that aspect of the blood spatter analysis

     The Phil Spector murder trial got underway in May 2007. On June 26 the government rested its case. The defense led off with Dr. Vincent Di Maio, the former chief medical examiner of Bexar County, Texas. Dr. Di Maio, considered one of the leading experts on the subject of gunshot wounds, testified that he disagreed with the prosecution's experts who had asserted that blood spatter can travel only three feet from a person struck by a bullet. Dr. Di Maio testified that blood can travel more than six feet if a gun is fired into a person's mouth, the pressure from the muzzle gas that is trapped in the oral cavity creates a violent explosion. "The gas," he said, "is like a whirlwind, it ejects out of the mouth, out of the nose."  Because 99 percent of intra-oral gunshot deaths are suicides, Dr. Di Maio opined that Lana Clarkson had killed herself. In Di Maio's 35 years as a medical examiner he had seen only "three homicides that were intra-oral."

     In an aggressive cross-examination by the deputy district attorney, Dr. Di Maio was asked how much he had been paid for his work on the case. The former medical examiner said that his bill was $46,000, which did not include his trial testimony. Courtroom spectators laughed when Dr. Di Maio told his cross-examiner that the longer he kept him on the stand the more it would cost the defendant.

     On September 18, 2007, the Spector jury, following a week of deliberation, announced they were deadlocked seven to five. Two days later, the judge sent them back to the jury room with a new set of instructions on how to determine reasonable doubt. In the Spector trial, the celebrity experts for the defense (including Dr. Henry Lee) did more than just muddy the water by pointing out mistakes and erroneous conclusions by the government's experts. They had offered a conflicting scenario backed by their interpretations of the physical evidence. In circumstantial cases deadlocked juries were not unusual. The hung jury was what Phil Spector had paid for and that is what he got. The jury remained split and the judge had no choice but to declare a mistrial.

     The second trial, this one not televised, got underway on October 20, 2008. The case went to the jury on March 26, 2009. Nineteen days later the jury found the defendant guilty of first-degree murder. Two months after that the judge sentenced Phil Spector to 19 years to life. In May 2011 the California Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. The California Supreme Court, when it declined to review the case, guaranteed that Mr. Spector would die in prison. Because so many high-profile forensic scientists disagreed on the interpretation of the physical evidence in the case it was not a positive landmark in the history of forensic science.

Phil Spector Post Conviction

     In 2006, while awaiting his first murder trial, Spector married Rachelle Short. In 2016 he filed for divorce claiming she was blowing through his $35 million estate. While he sat in prison she had purchased a $350,000 airplane, an Aston Martin and a Ferrari, expensive plastic surgery, expensive jewelry and two houses for her mother. Spector also claimed that Short had failed to pay $700,000 in taxes and was sending him only $300 a month in prison spending money. When the divorce came through the judge awarded Short $37,000 a month in spousal support plus $14,000 a month for housing costs.
     On January 17, 2021 Phil Spector died in prison at the age of 81.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

The Kennewick Man

     In the 1980s Native American activists began calling for a federal law that mandated the return of prehistoric remains and certain artifacts held by government and federally funded museums and universities to the descendants of these indigenous people. Following a series of Congressional hearings Senators Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and John McCain of Arizona proposed the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). President George H. Bush signed the law in 1990.

     NAGPRA, administered by the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act Office within the Department of Interior, is comprised of three principal sections. NAGPRA outlaws the unauthorized excavation of Native American Grave sites on federal land; requires museums and universities covered under the law to catalogue "cultural items" in their collections and share lists of these objects with the appropriate tribes so they can petition their return; and prohibits individuals from buying or selling Native American "cultural items," "sacred objects," "ceremonial objects" and artifacts with "ongoing historical, traditional or cultural importance" to a Native American group. NAGPRA does not apply to human remains and relics removed from state or privately owned land, or to artifacts acquired or found before 1990. 
The Kennewick Man Case
     Two college students walking along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington on July 28, 1996 stumbled upon a human skull lying in two feet of water. After examining the site as a potential crime scene, Benton County Coroner Floyd Johnson called in Dr. James Chatters, a local forensic anthropologist. Chatters discovered, buried nearby, the rest of the bones that he took to the coroner's office for further examination.
     Following a newspaper report regarding the discovery of human remains that appeared to be prehistoric, representatives of the Umatilla people, a federally recognized tribe that lived in the area, came forward to claim the skeleton under NAGPRA.
     On August 27, 1996 Dr. Chatters held a press conference and announced that based on the radiocarbon process he believed the Kennewick Man, also known as The Ancient One, had lived during the Paleo period 8,340 to 9,900 years ago. This alone made fascinating and important news, but Dr. Chatters' revelation that Kennewick Man's skull had Caucasoid features (a long narrow face with a prominent chin) heightened media interest because it fueled the debate over the hypothesis that prehistory Europeans as well as Proto-Mongaloids had crossed the Bering Straight into North America.
   Dr. Chatters discovered a Paleo projectile point lodged in the Ancient One's hip, a wound that had not been the cause of the five-foot-nine forty-five to fifty-year-old man's death.
     In September 1996, as Dr. Chatters made preparations to ship the remains to Dr. Douglas Owsley, a physical anthropologist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C., the United States Corps of Engineers (COE) stepped into the case on behalf of the Umatilla Tribe and three out-of-state Native American groups. The COE, having jurisdiction over the site of the Kennewick Man discovery, took custody of the remains before they were sent off for further scientific study.
     Although the Native American groups had not established cultural affiliation beyond oral histories, the COE, with speed uncharacteristic of a governmental agency, recognized their NAGPRA claim.
     Appalled by the arbitrariness of the COE's decision to repatriate the remains before they could be subjected to thorough scientific study, a group of anthropologists and archaeologists filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the COE's action. Federal Magistrate John Jelderks, in June 1997, ruled that the COE, by acting so hastily, had failed to consider and resolve key legal issues raised by the dispute. Judge Jelders vacated the repatriation and ordered the COE to reconsider the scientists' request to study the bones. In September 1997 a federal judge ordered the COE to send the Ancient One to the University of Washington's Burke Museum in Seattle. 
     Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, on January 13, 2000, issued a determination that the Kennewick Man was Native American and therefore covered by NAGPRA. Eight months later, Babbit ruled that the preponderance of evidence proved the Ancient One was culturally affiliated with the four claimant Indian tribes.
     Because Babbitt's ruling had no basis in science his decision created a firestorm of anger and frustration among anthropologists and archaeologists who believed the decision reflected "a lack of adherence to the statutory definition of cultural affiliation…and an apparent lack of appreciation for the decidedly balanced compromise that is at the heart of NAGPRA.

   In 2002 a group of scientists filed a federal lawsuit to block the repatriation of the Ancient One's remains. In August of that year the federal magistrate presiding over the case found in favor of the plaintiffs. The judge condemned Secretary Babbitt's ruling that the Native American claimants shared a cultural affiliation with the Kennewick Man. The judge opined that Babbitt, in making his decision, had not considered all of the relevant factors related to the issue. The four tribes, joined by the Department of Justice, appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

     The federal appeals court, in April 2004, affirmed the lower court's ruling. Appellate Judge Gould, in upholding the scientists' right to maintain control of the remains, wrote: "….Scant or no evidence of cultural similarities between Kennewick Man and modern Indians exists. One of the secretary's [Babbitt's] experts, Dr. Kenneth Ames, an anthropologist with Portland State University, reported that 'the empirical gaps in the record preclude establishing cultural continuities or discontinuities, particularly before about 5,000 B.C.' Dr. Ames noted that although there was overwhelming evidence that many aspects of the "Plateau Pattern" [The region drained by the Columbia and Fraser Rivers.] were present between 1,000 B. C. and A. D. 1, 'the empirical record precludes establishing cultural continuities or discontinuities across increasingly remote periods.' He noted that the available evidence is insufficient either to prove or disprove cultural or group continuity dating back earlier than 5,000 B. C., which is the case with regard to the Kennewick Man's remains, and that there is evidence that substantial changes occurred in settlement, housing, diet, trade, subsistence patterns, technology, projectile point styles, raw materials and mortuary rituals at various times between the estimate date when Kennewick Man lived and the beginning of the Plateau Culture some 2,000 to 3,000 years ago."

     In July 2004 the four claimant tribes announced they were not going to appeal the Ninth Circuit's decision to the U. S. Supreme Court. This closed the case and opened the door for further study of the Kennewick Man's bones. Native American activists regarded the Kennewick Man case a bitter defeat and significant setback in the repatriation movement.

     At the annual American Association of Forensic Sciences convention held in February 2006 in Seattle, Dr. Douglas Owsley presented his analysis of the Kennewick Man's remains. According to the anthropologist the Ancient One, because he was more than 9,000 years old, was more closely related to old world populations than to American Indian groups that came to North America across the Bering Straight 2,000 years later. 

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Passing The Trash

     In 2000, 37-year-old Wilbert Cortez, an elementary school teacher at PS 184 in Brooklyn, New York, was accused of inappropriately touching two of his male students. One of the boys reported the abuse to another teacher--three times. The teacher wrote a letter detailing the accusations and put the letter in Cortez's personnel file. Shortly after the students made their complaints school administrators decided to transfer Cortez to PS 174 in Queens. Instead of dealing with the problem, and if appropriate firing this teacher, they "passed the trash."

     On February 16, 2012 Queens District Attorney Richard Brown charged Wilbert Cortez, now 49, with the sexual abuse of two male elementary students in his computer lab class. The next day, after posting his $50,000 bail, Mr. Cortez walked out of the Queen's County Criminal Court building.

     The accused child molester, on May 29, 2012, was arraigned on additional charges that he repeatedly molested three male students at PS 174 in Queens between 2007 and 2011. Mr. Cortez faced up to seven years in prison on each count.

     When word got out that Wilbert Cortez had been accused of sexual molestation back in 2000 at PS 184 in Brooklyn, parents of children who had attended both schools were outraged that education administrators had swept the problem under the rug by sending him to Queens.

     Feeling the heat, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, on May 30, 2012, called an emergency meeting with these angry parents. More than 100 people attended the meeting held at PS 174. These concerned parents wanted to know why this teacher hadn't been investigated in 2000. Attendees also expressed concern that the school system's hiring procedures did not screen out pedophiles. Chancellor Walcott told those assembled that his staff would be digging through personnel files looking for old sexual complaints that had been ignored, and "take appropriate action where necessary."

     Chancellor Walcott's response, the promise to fix a problem that shouldn't have existed in the first place, didn't satisfy too many people at the meeting. Elementary schools in New York City and around the country were crawling with sex offenders because government laws and regulations limited what employers can legally ask job candidates about their past. As a result, pedophiles get into our schools. And once they are in, because of teacher's unions they were hard to remove. Administrators knew this, and for that reason find it easier to pass the trash. Public education is more about protecting teachers than protecting students from sexual predators. 

     On February 25, 2015 Wilbert Cortez pleaded guilty to inappropriately touching one student and endangering three others at PS 174 in Queens. Following his guilty plea Chancellor Walcott stripped him of his New York State teaching certificate.

     Because he had been allowed to plead down to relatively minor offenses the judge sentenced Wilbert Cortez to ten years of probation. The child molester was also required to register as a sex offender and undergo counseling. Like so many ex-public school teachers like him, he got off light. 

Friday, December 22, 2023

The David Bowen Murder-For-Hire Case

     The Bowens were an unlikely couple. Forty-four-year-old Daniel, a political ward captain, worked as a janitor at the Chicago Cultural Center. He and his wife Anne Treonis-Bowen, an attorney with the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, were in the midst of a nasty divorce that included a custody battle over their daughters who were five and six. Daniel couldn't stand the idea that his wife, the one with the better job, the one who would end up with the house and most of the marital assets, was about to become the dominant person in their children's lives. She would make all of the parental decisions while he'd be relegated to the role of a visiting ex-spouse. Daniel Bowen considered this a humiliating attack on his manhood. It was the hatred of his wife, not the love of his children, that drove this man to murder.

     In February 2004, Daniel Bowen offered his childhood friend, Dennis McArdle, $2,000 in upfront money to kill Mrs. Bowen. After the hit man completed the job and the victim's life insurance paid off, the murder-for-hire mastermind would pay McArdle another $20,000. Bowen also offered his friend a cushy low-level city job.

     McArdle, a convicted felon, alcoholic, drug addict and incompetent bungler with no prospects and nothing to lose, accepted the contract murder assignment. From a man he barely knew Mr. McArdle purchased, for $500, a .38-caliber revolver with a homemade silencer that didn't work when he and Bowen test-fired the gun in the basement of the cultural center. Bowen scheduled the murder for March 4, 2004, a day when he would be in the company of others and thus have an airtight alibi.

     As murder plots go this one was simple. Dennis McArdle was to shoot Daniel Bowen's wife after she parked her car that morning at the Chicago Transit Authority station southwest of the city. On the morning of the hit, wearing a ski mask and latex gloves, McArdle walked up behind the victim in the station parking lot and shot her once in the back of the head. To make the shooting look like a robbery rather than an execution style murder, McArdle took the victim's handbag. The ploy, to the trained eye of an investigator was transparent.

     Although this amateur hitman wore gloves to avoid linking himself to the shooting, disposed of the victim's wallet and got rid of the murder weapon, he took Mrs. Bowen's purse back to his apartment building where he hid it in the basement. A few days later the owner of the apartment building found the handbag, and inside it a prescription bottle bearing the murdered woman's name. The landlord called the police. Because McArdle was the only resident of the building with a connection to the murder victim, he became the prime suspect in the case.

     Ten days after Anne Treonis-Bowen's execution, detectives brought Mr. McArdle in for questioning. The 42-year-old suspect, suffering from cirrhosis and hepatitis, quickly confessed and agreed to testify against Daniel Bowen.

     In September 2004, while awaiting trial in the Cook County Jail, Daniel Bowen hanged himself. A month later a judge sentenced Dennis McArdle to 35 years in prison.

    The Bowen case exemplifies the fact that murder-for-hire is most often a crime of desperation committed by dimwits and fools. 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Fanatical Sports Fan

      According to experts, the psychology underlying fanatical sports fandom is a product of narcissism, juvenilia and borderline sociopathy. While some sports fanatics are just loud and obnoxious, a few can become violent and dangerous.

     Kurt Paschke, by anyone's standard, was an over-the-top super-fan. The 38-year-old lived in a rented house across the street from his parents in the Long Island town of Holbrook, New York. Kurt worked as a bartender at the Village Tavern in nearby Huntington. A rabid New York Jets football fan and a season ticket-holder, Kurt was one of those guys who paints his face in team colors and religiously wears the team jersey, hat and other gear. But as a fan, Kurt Paschke was so much more.

     To show his devotion to his Jets, Kurt had purchased a mini-bus he called the Jets Mobile. Out of this custom painted vehicle he tailgated at the Jets' home games at the MetLife Stadium in Queens. Painted green and white in homage to his beloved team, the bus featured a special Jets vanity plate as well as Jets inspired mud flaps and hubcaps. Kurt's mother had embroidered, for the Jets Mobile, team themed seat covers and interior curtains.

     On October 20, 2013 the hated Boston Patriots were in New York for a game against the Jets. On that Sunday afternoon the Jets, in overtime play, beat the Patriots 30 to 27. As Kurt and his jubilant parents were leaving MetLife Stadium following their glorious victory they were confronted by three angry Boston Patriot fans. Someone said something that sparked angry words and then a fight between Paschke and Boston fans Jaclyn Nugent, Amanda MacDowell and David James Sacco.

     In the skirmish, caught on videotape, Jaclyn Nugent can be seen hitting and kicking Paschke. The Jets fan retaliated by punching the 26-year-old Boston woman in the head. After the blow Nugent lunged at Paschke and the two scuffled. The fight ended on its own before security personnel broke it up. Paschke and Nugent, with bruises and cuts on their faces, parted ways.

     The post-game dustup at MetLife Stadium would have ended there had it not been for the online publication of videos showing a big, strapping man in a Jets jersey punching a woman in the face. And the story got even bigger when the media found out more about the man in the Jets shirt.

     Kurt Paschke, as it turned out, was more than just a Jets fanatic who punched a female Boston fan. Decades earlier he had served three years in prison for negligent homicide. (He had since been arrested twice for disorderly conduct and once for serving drinks to a minor.)

     On June 27, 1992, shortly after Paschke graduated from Sachem High School in Ronkonkoma, Long Island he got into a fight with another 17-year-old behind a pizzeria in Sayville, New York. Paschke pulled a knife and stabbed Henry Ferrer to death. Ferrer was not armed.

     In 1995 a jury found Paschke guilty of negligent homicide. In addressing the judge at his sentencing hearing, Paschke said, "I am deeply sorry. I can honestly say I never sought the confrontation, but when it came, I did what I had to do." Paschke served three years in a New York state prison. The judge had also sentenced him to several years of probation.

     In the aftermath of Paschke's fight with the Patriot fans, Paschke's mother Colleen, in speaking to a CNN correspondent, defended her son. The 62-year-old from Holbrook said, "If the girl is going to be out of control like that, why can't a guy defend himself? These girls today are really out of control. I really think that they are protected because they are girls and think they can get away with anything." Later, to a reporter with the New York Daily News, Kurt's mother said, "My son is the victim, really."

     Robert Ferrer, the 80-year-old father of the boy Paschke killed in 1992 wasn't in a mood to defend Kurt Paschke. Obviously still bitter over the violent death of his son Henry, Mr. Ferrer said this to the New York Daily News reporter: "He murdered my son and he got a minimum sentence for killing a 17-year-old boy. He got away with it because his father was a sergeant. [Kurt's father was an officer with the Suffolk County Police Department.] I was dead after it happened. I had a very nice house on Long Island [Bay Shore] and I sold it to get away. The guy is a born criminal."

     A Suffolk County prosecutor charged Paschke, Nugent, Sacco and MacDowell with disorderly conduct and assault. Until the case was resolved all four football fans were banned from MetLife Stadium. For Kurt Paschke this punishment went beyond cruel and unusual.

     In March 2014, in the case of punching out the Boston Patriots fan, Kurt Paschke pleaded guilty to the lesser disorderly charge of unnecessary noise. The judge fined him $289. Charges against the other three fans were dropped.

     Paschke, in August 2014 completed a four-hour fan conduct class. Following the completion of the good-behavior course, and a written apology, Paschke was granted the right to return to MetLife Stadium. He got his life back.
     In November 2017, Kurt Paschke was among ten finalists for induction into the New York Jets Fan Hall of Fame. (Yes, there is such a thing.) Shortly after the announcement went public, however, when the induction committee learned of this fan's violent past, Kurt Paschke was no longer up for consideration for the honor. For him, this must have been a terrible blow.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

When Does Speech Become A Criminal Act?

     In December 2018, 21-year-old Alexander Urtula, a biology major at Boston College, met Inyoung You, a 20-year-old South Korean girl attending the school as an economics major. Urtula was an outstanding student who was active in the college's Philippine Society of Boston, an organization for Filipino students.

     On May 20, 2019, the day of his graduation from Boston College, Alexander Urtula was deeply depressed and suicidal. As recorded on his Internet journal that was read by classmates and family members, and documented throughout the 47,000 text messages he had received from Inyoung You, Urtula had been the victim of intense and prolonged psychological abuse committed by his South Korean girlfriend.

     To control Alexander Urtula and isolate him from his friends and family, You repeatedly threatened to harm herself if he didn't do what she demanded. And what she demanded, in the weeks leading up to Urtula's graduation, was for him to take his own life. In her text messages she wrote things like "Go kill yourself," and "Go die."

     On the morning of May 20, 2019, the day of the college's graduation ceremony, Inyoung You used her cellphone to track the despondent Urtula to the roof of a parking garage in the Roxbury section of Boston. With You standing on the parking garage roof not far from him, Alexander Urtula jumped to his death. Allegedly, You made no attempt to dissuade him from leaping from the structure.

     In August 2019, three months following Urtula's suicide, Inyoung You withdrew from Boston College and returned to South Korea.

     Suffolk County prosecutor Rachael Rollins, in October 2019, presented a case to a grand jury that returned an indictment against Inyoung You on the charge of involuntary manslaughter. The rationale behind the charge involved You's reckless disregard for Urtula's life by intentionally tormenting him with psychological abuse that included telling him to kill himself. To make this case, the prosecutor would have to establish a direct casual relationship between You's abuse and Urtula's death.
     At a press conference following the grand jury indictment, prosecutor Rollins told reporters that You's "abuse became more frequent and more demanding in the days and hours leading up to Urtula's death."

     If Inyoung You was extradited to the United States for criminal trial her defense would include the argument that her text messages and other forms of communication with Alexander Urtula were constitutionally protected as free speech under the First Amendment. Moreover, she would argue that her behavior, while despicable, was not the principle cause Urtula's mental illness and suicide. Her attorney would no doubt also make the point that talking a person into suicide is different that helping a person take his or her life. One is speech, the other a criminal act.
     The above legal issues were never argued because in December 2021, following her extradition to the United States, You pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. The Suffolk County judge sentenced her to ten years probation. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The Anthony Baye Arson-Murder Confession

     Between December 27, 2009 and January 4, 2010 an arsonist in Northhamton, Massachusetts torched more than 40 homes. It was the biggest crime spree in the history of the town. One of the Ward 3 neighborhood fires took the lives of 81-year-old Paul Yeskie and his son Paul Jr. who was 39. Police officers patrolling Ward 3 during the early morning hours on four of the arson fire nights pulled over a vehicle driven by 26-year-old Anthony P. Baye. These investigative stops did not result in Mr. Baye's arrest.

     Anthony Baye was brought in for questioning on January 4, 2010 by Massachusetts State Police sergeant Paul Zipper and Trooper Michael Mazza. After he was warned of his Miranda rights to remain silent and his right to an attorney, the suspect asked to speak to a lawyer. The officers, instead of terminating the interrogation at that point informed Anthony Baye that he would be better off speaking to them first. They assured him that if he took responsibility for setting the fires the judge would go easy on him. Utilizing this confession inducing technique (developed by Fred Inbau in the 1930s) of minimizing the seriousness of the crime (referring to the arsons as "tomfoolery"), the troopers got Mr. Baye to admit setting 15 of the fires.

     While Anthony Baye didn't come out and admit setting fire that killed Mr. Yeskie and his son, he did say he never meant to do them any harm. In soliciting the arson-murder confession one of the interrogators misrepresented the criminal law when he assured Baye that if he hadn't intended to kill the Yeskies he could not be charged with felony-murder. (This was not true. Under Massachusetts law, if Baye had intended to set the fire which inadvertently led to their deaths he was guilty of criminal homicide under the felony-murder doctrine.)

     Following the ten hour videotaped interrogation the state troopers took Anthony Baye into custody. The local prosecutor charged him with two counts of first-degree murder and several counts of arson. Given the seriousness of the crimes Mr. Baye was not granted bail.

      Anthony Baye's attorneys, Thomas Lesser and David Hoose, on grounds the state interrogators had violated their client's Fifth and Six Amendment rights by not discontinuing the interrogation and providing him with an attorney when he requested one, filed a motion to suppress the confession.

     On September 21, 2011 Hampshire Superior Court Judge Constance B. Sweeney heard arguments on the defendant's motion to suppress. At the conclusion of the pre-trial hearing Judge Sweeney, while expressing reservations regarding the troopers' interrogation techniques, ruled Baye's confession voluntary and therefore admissible. The defense appealed Judge Sweeney's ruling to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court which agreed to rule on the admissibility of the confession before rather than after his trial.

     On May 21, 2012 the Massachusetts Supreme Court Justices ruled the Baye confession had not been given voluntarily and was therefore inadmissible as evidence against him. Although the justices didn't specifically rule on the issue of whether continuing the interrogation after Baye requested an attorney rendered it inadmissible, the constitutional law on this issue was settled. In the Baye case the state interrogators had clearly violated his Miranda rights. Under Miranda a confession can be inadmissible even though it was given voluntarily. Once a suspect exercises his Miranda rights the interrogation must stop. Anything said by the suspect after this point is not admissible evidence regardless of the fact no coercion was involved.

     One year after the state supreme court ruled Anthony Baye's confession inadmissible, the defendant, pursuant to a plea agreement, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter. On May 15, 2013 the Hampshire Superior Court judge sentenced Anthony P. Baye to twenty years in prison followed by fifteen years of probation.

Monday, December 18, 2023

The Crime Of The 20th Century Was Committed By An Illegal Alien

     In July 1923 Bruno Richard Hauptmann, when he was 23 and living in Germany, stowed away in the hold of the North German liner Hanover. He fled the country because he was wanted by the German police for armed robbery and burglary. When the ship docked in New York City he was discovered and handed over to the immigration authorities. Under the false identity of Karl Pellmeir, Hauptmann appeared before a special tribunal and shortly thereafter was shipped back to Germany.

     A month after his first attempt to get into the United States, Bruno Hauptmann stowed away on the same ship but was discovered before the vessel left the pier. He escaped arrest by the German authorities by diving overboard.

     Two months after his second attempt, Hauptmann made it to America as a stowaway on the S. S. George Washington. He stepped ashore on his 24th birthday with no passport and two cents in his pocket.

     In New York City Mr. Hauptmann was taken in by an immigrant he met on the street and within a few days found work as a dishwasher. He later obtained a job as a mechanic, then became a dyer's helper before finding work as a carpenter.

     On October 10, 1925 Hauptmann married a German-born waitress named Anna Schoeffler, and eight years later they had a son, Mannfried. They lived on the second floor of a rental house on 222nd Street in the Bronx.

     At nine o'clock on the night of March 1, 1932, Bruno Richard Hauptmann drove from the Bronx, New York to outside Hopewell, New Jersey where the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh lived with his wife Anne and their 20-month-old son, Charles Lindbergh Jr.. Hauptmann placed a three-piece homemade wooden extension ladder against the house, climbed into the second story nursery window and made off with the baby. Hauptmann left behind a ransom note in his own handwriting asking for $50,000.

     Following several more ransom documents, Charles Lindbergh's intermediary, on April 2, 1932, paid the $50,000 ransom to a shadowy figure in a Bronx cemetery. Pursuant to Lindbergh's orders, the police were not there to make an arrest and Hauptmann escaped into the night.

      On May 12, 1932 the Lindbergh baby's remains were found along a road two miles from the Lindbergh estate. He had been bludgeoned to death.

     The Lindbergh kidnapping and murder case went unsolved until September 1934 when police officers arrested Hauptmann in New York City in possession of a ransom bill. A search of his garage in the Bronx turned up $14,000 in the Lindbergh ransom money. Handwriting experts identified Hauptmann as the writer of the ransom documents and a wood expert connected the crime scene ladder to the suspect through his carpenter tools and a missing board in the attic to his house.

     Bruno Richard Hauptmann was tried for murder in January 1935 in the Hunterdon County Court House in Flemington, New Jersey. Following the six-week trial the jury found Hauptmann guilty as charged. Since he had not confessed and there were no eyewitnesses, the case against him, based principally on physical evidence connecting him to the crime, was circumstantial. The trial judge sentenced him to death.

     On April 3, 1936 Bruno Hauptmann died on the electric chair at the state prison in Trenton, New Jersey. To the very end he maintained his innocence. This illegal alien from Germany committed one of the most infamous crimes in United States history.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

The Julie Schenecker Murder Case

     Parker Schenecker, an Army intelligence officer, met Julie Powers, an Army linguist (Russian) in 1987 when they were deployed in Germany. Shortly after they were married in Louisiana in 1991 a psychologist began treating Julie for depression. Three years later she gave birth to Calyx, and in 1997 their son Beau.

     Not long after having Beau, Julie began taking anti-depression medication on a daily basis. In 2001 psychiatrists diagnosed her as suffering from bipolar disorder, schizo-affective disorder and severe depression. According to these physicians she had a personality disorder as well. (There is no effective way to treat the latter.) During her nine months of treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland outside of Washington, D.C., she labored under the false belief that a brain tumor was causing her mental illness. She held this belief after brain scans proved negative. During this time Mr. Schenecker hired a nanny to take care of the children.

     In 2009, while being treated in south Florida for mental illness, Julie Schenecker expressed a desire to take her psychiatrist's comb and use his DNA to impregnate herself.

     On November 6, 2010, while residing in an upscale neighborhood in Tampa, Florida, 15-year-old Calyx told a school counselor that her mother had slapped her in the face when they returned from her cross-country practice. The counselor reported the matter to the authorities, and that day a Tampa police officer, accompanied by a child protection social worker, paid Julie a home visit. Julie admitted hitting Calyx with her open hand during an argument four days earlier. The police officer decided not to make an arrest in the case.

     On January 15, 2011 Colonel Schenecker, while assigned as an intelligence officer with U.S. Central Command in Qatar, wrote a long email to the psychiatrist in Florida treating Julie. The colonel expressed concern about Julie's bellicose relationship with Calyx. It seemed the two of them never stopped fighting.

     Colonel Schenecker wrote: "Julie can no longer control Calyx and Calyx has been disrespectful and verbally abusive toward Julie." Colonel Schenecker also noted that his wife had taken to the bottle. "Drinking starts to affect the kids--they start mentioning it to me." Julie had also, according to the colonel, been driving erratically which had resulted in a traffic accident.

     Julie Schenecker wrote an email addressed to her family on January 27, 2011. The message read: "It's really difficult and I'm so sick mentally. I minimally take care of the kids, sad to say. Beau has also developed Calyx's attitude--makes me cry every evening. Seeing what they've become, I will end this soon. I am at my wits end."

     The day following Julie's email to her family, her mother Nancy called the police to report that she had not been able to reach her daughter. Due to Julie's mental state, Nancy was concerned that something was wrong. In response to the mother's request for a welfare visit, officers were dispatched to the Schenecker house. There, in the garage, they found Beau in Julie's SUV. The boy had been shot twice in the head.

     In Calyx's room officers discovered the 16-year-old lying on her bed with a fatal bullet wound to the back of her head. Both children had been shot by the .38-caliber revolver found at the scene. The bodies had been covered with blankets. The officers also recovered a journal at the scene in which Julie described her plan to kill her children and herself.

     Police officers found Julie Schenecker on her back porch. Wearing a blood-soaked bathrobe, she was asleep and under the influence of prescription pills. She awoke and told the officers why she had shot her children to death. She said she had done this because they had "talked back and were mouthy."

     Officers took Julie into custody at the death scene. At the police station, they continued to question her. Julie said she had shot Beau in the car after they had returned home from his soccer practice. She said she killed Calyx in her room as she did homework on her computer. Julie showed no emotion or remorse as she described killing her children.

     Julie Schenecker informed her interrogators that five days before shooting her children to death, she had driven 27 miles to a small Florida town where she purchased the revolver at a store called Lock N Load. (When buying the weapon she told the counterman that there had been a rash of burglaries in her neighborhood.)

     After questioning her at the police station, detectives took Julie to a nearby hospital for observation. She told a doctor that she had a "pre-existing" medical condition. Following her discharge from the medical center on January 29, 2011, officers booked the murder suspect into Hillsborough County's Falkenburg Road Jail on two counts of first-degree murder. The judge denied her bond.

     The homicide suspect's attorneys at her February 16, 2011 arraignment pleaded her not guilty. The lawyers announced they planned to launch an insanity defense on her behalf. Under Florida law, legal insanity is statutorily defined as a mental disease or defect present at the time of the crime that rendered the defendant incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the criminal act. In other words, the mental illness had destroyed the defendant's ability to distinguish between right and wrong. In Florida, as well as most other states, the so-called "M'Naughten right-wrong test," due to the fact that even seriously mentally ill people are aware of what they are doing when they kill someone, is a difficult defense to prove. Proving that the defendant's actions were driven by the mental illness and nothing else is usually an uphill task. (A defendant must prove legal insanity by a preponderance of the evidence. That means the prosecution does not have the burden of proving the defendant was sane. Like innocence, sanity is presumed.

     Colonel Schenecker divorced Julie in May 2011. Following a dispute over the distribution of family assets, he sued her in civil court for the wrongful death of their children. Julie's civil attorneys in the case countered that the plaintiff was equally responsible for the children's deaths. In support of this argument they cited the emails the colonel had sent to her psychiatrist less than two weeks before the killings. In these emails he expressed his concern for the well-being of the children.

     The Julie Schenecker double murder trial got underway on April 28, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. Following jury selection and the opening statements from each side, the prosecutor put police officers, detectives, crime scene technicians and a forensic pathologist on the stand. On May 5, 2014 crime scene specialist Matthew Evans testified that he had recovered numerous bottles of prescription pills at the murder house that included Lithium and Oxycodone.

     The prosecutor asked crime scene specialist Matthew Evans to read from portions of the journal taken from the house. From this document, Mr. Evans read the following to the jury: "The best job I ever had was having/bringing up my babies. This is why I had to bring them with me. It's possible they've inherited my DNA and would live their lives depressed or bipolar! I believe I saved them from the pain. I wouldn't wish this on nobody--ever."

     According to the defendant's journal she had worried that if she committed suicide her children would have to live with the stigma associated with their mother's act of self-destruction. "If you're wondering why I decided to take out the kids it was to protect them from embarrassment the rest of their lives."

     The crime scene investigator was followed to the stand by a detective who played an audiotape of the defendant's police station interview. Slurring her words, Schnecker explained in detail how she had shot her children to death and why. She also listed all of the prescription medicine she had been taking.

     The following day retired Army Colonel Parker Schenecker took the stand for the prosecution. The 53-year-old described to the jury the domestic turmoil of living with a mentally disturbed wife. During his testimony he never referred to her by name, referring to Julie as the "defendant."

     On May 9, 2014, after the prosecution rested its case, The Schenecker defense took center stage. Michelle Frisco, a 43-year-old house cleaner who worked for the defendant, said that Julie had been upset because Beau had become as disrespectful as his older sister. The defendant also told the witness that she drank heavily when her husband was deployed out of the country.

     Dr. Demian Obregon, a University of Southern Florida psychologist, testified that he had treated the defendant for various mental disorders. The medicine she took produced side effects such as "lip-smacking" and "leg-jerking." According to this witness, Julie, in August 2010, had starting expressing suicidal thoughts. In December of that year she had revealed deep feelings of being both helpless and hopeless.

     Throughout the trial Julie Schenecker sat passively with her attorneys at the defense table. But that changed suddenly in the middle of Dr. Obergron's testimony. When the psychologist told the jury he had warned her against mixing alcohol with her bipolar medicine, she yelled "Liar! You told me two drinks a day, two Oxys a day!"

     The trial judge responded to the outburst by ordering the jurors out of the courtroom. The judge then issued a strong warning to the defendant. If she engaged in this type of behavior again there would be serious consequences. Such outbursts would not be tolerated.

     On Monday, May 12, 2014, Dr. Eldra Solomon, another psychologist, took the stand for the defense. Hired by Julie's attorneys to examine and evaluate their client's mental state on the days leading up to the killings, Dr. Solomon testified that Julie, on the day she decided to buy the gun, "had her first clear thought in weeks." And that thought involved killing her children so they could all go to heaven together. "People who are not in a psychotic state," Dr. Solomon said, "do not kill their children."

     Dr. Michael Malher, a medical doctor and psychiatrist, had also been hired by the defense as an expert insanity defense witness. In his expert opinion Julie Schenecker, at the time of the killings, was insane pursuant to the criteria of the M'Naughten right-wrong test.

     In cross-examining the defense insanity witnesses, the prosecutor, in an effort to undermine their credibility, implied that they were nothing more than insanity defense hired-guns.

     On May 13, 2014 the defense wound-up its case with another expert who found that the defendant, at the time of the killings, was in a psychotic state. The defense also called Colonel Schenecker to the stand. The witness described his ex-wife as a 50-year-old with the judgment of a 10-year-old, and painted a picture of what it was like for him and his family to live with a person who was seriously mentally ill. Following the colonel's testimony the defense rested its case.

     The prosecutor, on May 14, 2014, in the rebuttal phase of the trial, pressed the argument that the double murder had been motivated by anger. The three rebuttal witnesses on this day were psychiatrists who testified that the defendant had operated under a clear, calculated plan to kill her children. These prosecution experts explained to the jury why the defendant, under Florida's right-wrong test, had not been legally insane. When shooting her children she had known exactly what she was doing. The defendant was not acting pursuant to any delusions, or instructions from voices in her head. She had been driven by anger, not mental illness.

     On Thursday morning, May 15, 2014, following the closing arguments and the judge's instructions to the jury, the jurors walked out of the courtroom to deliberate the defendant's fate. Just two hours later, at three o'clock, the jury returned to the courtroom with its verdict: guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. This jury had obviously rejected the Schenecker insanity defense.

     In addressing the judge in advance of the sentence, Julie Schnecker tearfully apologized for killing her children. She said, "They are alive and enjoying everything and anything heaven has to offer. Jesus is protecting them and keeping them safe until we get there." Immediately after this irony-laced statement, the judge handed Schenecker the mandated sentence of two life terms without the possibility of parole.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

The Strack Family Murder-Suicide Case

     Benjamin Strack, his wife Kristi and their children resided in a duplex in Springville, Utah, a town of 30,000 45 miles south of Salt Lake City not far from Provo. Just before eight o'clock on the night of Saturday September 27, 2014, the oldest Strack child, accompanied by his grandparents, approached the Strack half of the duplex to check on the family. Mr. and Mrs. Strack and three of their children had not responded to emails, text messages or phone calls.

     The grandparents and the oldest child entered the house through the front door that stood wide open. (The back door was cracked open.) In the master bedroom they discovered Mr. and Mrs. Strack and the three children. The 36-year-old parents and the children--Benson, 14; Emery, 12; and Zion, 11--were dead. 
     Police officers at the scene noted that none of the bodies showed signs of physical trauma. Moreover, there was no evidence of a struggle and nothing had been taken from the house. 
     Firefighters tested the air inside the dwelling and did not detect traces of carbon monoxide. The fact that pets in the house were alive and the other residents of duplex were unharmed, pointed away from death by carbon monoxide poisoning. 
     Following the five autopsies the medical examiner announced that none of the Stracks had been subjected to violent assault. The cause and manner of these deaths remained undetermined pending the results of toxicological tests. A police spokesperson told reporters that foul play had not been ruled out in this case. The medical examiner did not reveal when the Stracks had died. 
    On October 28, 2014, reporters learned that investigators believed that the children and their parents had been poisoned to death on September 27, 2014. According to detectives, the children's bodies had been positioned in their parents' bedroom after their deaths. The bodies of Benjamin and Kristi and their children were each lying next to a cup of red liquid. Kristi Stack had red liquid coming out of her mouth.

     From the house investigators removed 14 drinking cups and bottles, a pitcher of red juice, and a purple bucket containing yellow liquid. Searchers also seized a pair of slippers that contained a drop of blood and a towel stained by a red substance. Detectives, in the family's garbage, found empty methadone bottles, 10 empty boxes of nighttime cold medicine, various pill bottles, several empty boxes of sleeping aids, a bag of marijuana and Pepsi cups containing traces of a red liquid.

     In January 2015 the Utah State Medical Examiner declared that the deaths of the children were caused by toxic amounts of diphenydramine and methadone. Kristi Stack had died from the same drug plus dextrophan and doxylamine. Benjamin Strack had toxic levels of heroin in his system.

     The medical examiner ruled the parent's death as suicide and the two youngest children's death as homicide. The death of the 14-year-old was listed as "undetermined."

     According to the parents' friends and family, the mentally ill couple were worried about "evil in the world" and wanted to avoid a "pending apocalypse".

Friday, December 15, 2023

The Curtis Reeves Murder Case

     From 1961 to 1963, Curtis Reeves, Jr. served as a Navy machinists' mate on a submarine. Following his honorable discharge he drove a truck and worked in a warehouse. In the mid-1970s Reeves became an officer with the Tampa Police Department. He retired, at the rank of captain, in 1993 at the age of 51. In the 1980s officer Reeves helped launch the police department's first SWAT team, a unit he eventually headed.

     After retiring from police work Mr. Reeves took a job with the security department at the Florida theme park, Busch Gardens. When he left that position in 2005 he was director of security.

     In 2003 Reeves and his wife moved into a sprawling ranch-style home in the community of Spring Lake near Brooksville, Florida. He enjoyed riding his motorcycle and was a member of the Mountainview Estates crime stoppers organization. Curtis Reeves and his wife had two grown sons, one of whom was an officer with the Tampa Police Department.

     On Monday, January 13, 2014, Curtis Reeves and his wife attended the 1:20 PM showing of "Lone Survivor" at the Grove 16 theater in Wesley Chapel, a suburban community a few miles south of downtown Tampa. Sitting nearby was 43-year-old Chad Oulson and his wife Nicole.

     During the showing of the previews before the start of the feature presentation, Reeves became annoyed when he saw Mr. Oulson texting. When the ex-cop asked Oulson to stop that activity, Oulson ignored the request. After Reeves complained further, Oulson explained that he was texting his young daughter.

     Reeves, furious over the texting, left his seat to notify theater staff regarding this breach of moviegoing etiquette. When he couldn't find anyone in authority to complain to, Reeves returned to his seat. At that point Mr. Oulson made a derogatory comment regarding Reeves' attempt to report him to theater employees. The two men argued which prompted Mr. Oulson to throw a bag of popcorn at Reeves.

    When hit by the popcorn Reeves pulled out a .380-caliber pistol and shot Chad Oulson in the chest. The victim slumped over in his seat. The bullet that entered Oulson's body first hit his wife in the hand as she tried to hold her husband back. Mr. Oulson tried to speak but couldn't as blood seeped from his mouth. Another theatergoer applied CPR while others called 911.

     An off-duty Tampa police officer who happened to be in the theater approached Reeves who sat quietly in his seat with the pistol on his lap. When the officer asked Reeves to hand over the weapon, Reeves refused. Following a brief scuffle, Reeves calmed down and gave up his gun.

     Reeves' son, the Tampa police officer (who was off-duty) entered the theater about the time his father shot Mr. Oulson. Shortly thereafter an ambulance crew rushed Mr. Oulson to a Tampa area hospital where doctors pronounced him dead. His wife Nicole was treated for the bullet wound to her hand.

     When deputies with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office arrived at the theater to take the 71-year-old shooter into custody, they advised the suspect of his Miranda rights. Reeves told the officers that the man he had shot had struck him with an unknown object. In fear of being assaulted, he pulled and fired his gun.

     Charged with second-degree murder, Reeves made his first court appearance on Tuesday, the day after the shooting. His attorney, Richard Escobar, asked the judge not to set bond due to the fact his client, with all of his ties to the community, was not a flight risk. "The alleged victim attacked him," the defense attorney said.

     The judge, noting that being struck by an unknown object did not call for the use of a handgun, denied bail. During the arraignment, a Pasco County prosecutor said that a woman named Jamira Dixon had come forward with information regarding her recent encounter with Mr. Reeves. According to Dixon, Reeves had become enraged three weeks earlier when he saw her texting in the same theater. Dixon said he glared at her throughout the movie and followed her out of the room when she got up to use the restroom.

     If convicted as charged Curtis Reeves faced a maximum sentence of life in prison. In his case a ten-year sentence would probably have the same result.

     In August 2015 Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa, in a hearing on the case, made the comment that the right to a trial is not a right to a perfect trial. The Reeves defense took exception to this remark and following a backlash the judge recused himself from the case.

     Following one delay after another due to changes in Florida's stand your ground law, a doctrine applicable to the Reeves case, the new judge, Susan Barthle, postponed the trial again until the Florida Supreme Court sorted out conflicts in the application of the stand your ground doctrine. A new trial date was set for February 2019 then postponed again.

      On February 25, 1922, following a short trial, a jury sitting in Tampa, Florida found Curtis Reeves not guilty.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Shayna Hubers Murder Case

     In 2012 Ryan Poston, a 29-year-old lawyer from a family of prominent attorneys and corporate executives, resided in a condo in Highland Heights, Kentucky. He was involved in an on again-off again tumultuous relationship with a 21-year-old graduate student from Lexington, Kentucky named Shayna Hubers. A 2008 graduate of the prestigious School for the Arts, Hubers was pursuing a Master's Degree in counseling from Eastern Kentucky University.

     In 2011 and 2012 Mr. Poston and Hubers exchanged hundreds of text messages that revealed she was more attracted to him than he was to her. For months Poston had been trying to get himself out of the relationship. On October 11, 2012 Poston, his mother, his stepfather and Shayna Hubers had dinner at the young attorney's dwelling.

     After dinner that night Shayna Hubers went home but returned a few hours later. Upon her uninvited return the couple argued. Things really heated up when he informed her that he wanted to end the relationship. The argument further intensified when he told her that he had a date the following Friday night with the current Miss Ohio.

     At 8:53 PM the next day Shayna Hubers called 911 from Poston's condo and said this to the emergency dispatcher: "Ma'am, I have, I have, I killed my boyfriend in self defense."

     "What happened?" asked the dispatcher.

     "He beat me and tried to carry me out of the house and I came back in to get my things. He was right in front of me and reached down and grabbed the gun, and I grabbed it out of his hands and pulled the trigger."

     Responding police officers found Ryan Poston lying on his dining room floor next to his Sig Sauer .380-caliber pistol. He had been shot in the back, twice in the head and three times in the torso.

     A Campbell County prosecutor charged Shayna Hubers with first-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter and reckless homicide. Officers booked the suspect into the county jail in Newport, Kentucky. At her arraignment hearing the judge denied her bail.

     The Shayna Hubers murder trial got underway on April 13, 2015 in Newport, Kentucky before Circuit Judge Fred A. Stine. Commonwealth Attorney Michelle Snodgrass, in her opening statement to the jury, accused the defendant of killing Mr. Poston in a fit of jealous rage. According to the prosecutor's version of the killing, the defendant's first shot knocked the victim down. While he lay wounded and helpless on his dining room floor she pumped five more bullets into his body.

     Defense attorney Wil Zevely told the jurors that in an act of self defense his client shot her boyfriend six times before he fell to the floor and died.

     The lead detective in the case took the stand for the prosecution and testified that the death scene, the victim's dining room, showed no signs of a struggle. Several of Mr. Poston's condo neighbors testified they had not heard anything that night that suggested physical violence.

     A prosecution witness took the stand and said that the defendant had sent her a Facebook message regarding her plan to shoot Mr. Poston at a gun range and make the shooting look like an accident.

     The prosecutor played the defendant's recorded police interview in which she said: "I shot him probably six times. I shot him in the head. He was lying like this. His glasses were still on. He was twitching. I shot him a couple more times just to make sure he was dead."

     After Commonwealth Attorney Michelle Snodgrass rested the prosecution's case, defense attorney Wil Zevely put Dr. Saeed Tortani, a toxicologist, on the stand. Dr. Tortani testified that at the time of his death Ryan Poston was taking Xanax and Adderall, drugs linked to aggression and paranoia.

     On cross-examination the prosecutor brought out the fact the victim had been taking this medicine under a doctor's care. The commonwealth attorney also got Dr. Tortani to reveal he was being paid $380 an hour by the defense.

     Shayna Hubers took the stand on her own behalf. By presenting herself as the victim of her boyfriend's verbal and physical abuse, she laid out a scenario consistent with self defense. Her witness box story, however, did not conform to her recorded statement to the police or her 911 call.

     On Friday April 24, 2015 the jury, after deliberating five hours, found the defendant guilty of first-degree murder. The jurors recommended that Judge Stine sentence Hubers to 40 years in prison.

     Four days after the guilty verdict the convicted woman's attorney filed a claim for his client's early parole on grounds she had been the victim of domestic violence. Under the Kentucky statute that created this sentencing exception, Hubers' attorney would have to prove that at the time of the abuse she and the victim had been living together. If Judge Stine ruled in favor of Hubers on this sentencing issue she could be released from prison in five years.

     On August 14, 2015 Judge Stine sentenced Hubers to the recommended 40 years in prison. Pursuant to his ruling she had to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. That meant she won't be eligible for parole for 34 years. At the sentencing hearing a prosecution psychologist described Hubers as a narcissist.

     On August 26, 2016 Campbell County Circuit Judge Fred Stine announced his decision to overturn Shayna Hubers' murder conviction. The judge based this ruling on the fact that juror Dave Craig, before his jury service, had been convicted of a felony. Under Kentucky law felons are prohibited from jury service. The local prosecutor said she would re-charge Hubers and bring her to trial for a second time.

     In June 2018, while awaiting her second trial in the Campbell County Detention Center, Hubers married a fellow inmate named Richard McBee, a 41-year-old charged with robbery. Huber's second trial had been set for September 2017 and then January 2018 and then postponed again. 
     In August 2018, while being tried the second time for murder, Shayna Hubers married a transgender woman named Unique Taylor. Later that month, the second jury found Hubers guilty of first-degree murder. The judge, following the jury's recommendation sentenced her to life in prison. 
     In January 2019 Hubers and Taylor divorced.