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Monday, March 31, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Sore Losers at the University of Arizona

     Tucson police officers said Saturday night, March 29, 2014, that they shot pepper spray at several hundred fans who took to the streets and threw beer bottles and firecrackers at officers after the University of Arizona's basketball team's overtime loss in the NCAA tournament. There were no reports of injuries to fans or officers, but 15 people were arrested for offenses such as resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly….Of those arrested, 14 were released, and one was sent to the Pima County Jail….

     Tucson police sergeant Pete Dugan said crowds leaving bars and restaurants near campus after the game filled University Boulevard and wouldn't leave despite urging through a public address system and social media declaring it an unlawful assembly.

     Police brought in cruisers and a unit of officers with batons, helmets and face masks to block the street when people started tossing beer bottles, cans, and firecrackers, hitting police vehicles and endangering officers. Officers fired pepper spray, pepper canisters and pepper balls, which disperse into the air….

"Police Fire Pepper Spray at Fans Upset With Arizona Loss," ABC News, March 30, 2014


Whackademia Quote: The Phantom Education of Illiterate Football Players

     If I had ever turned in a 146-word paper to one of my professors, I can assure you I would not have received an A- even if they were the most brilliant 146 words written in English. But apparently if you're an athlete at the University of North Carolina, those 146 words don't even have to be grammatically correct. Former professor Mary Willingham provided the essay as an example of the sort of "work" that UNC athletes are allowed to get by on at the school, and the image has certainly sparked conversation around the topic.

     It's one thing to know that athletes who attend schools where sports are a priority get special treatment and are often given grades they don't deserve just to keep them on the team. But it's a whole new thing to see a one paragraph essay that makes up a fictional conversation between Rosa Parks and a bus driver and know that the jock who wrote it got a better grade than a lot of students got for their well-reseached 10-page essays. But according to Willingham, who spent 10 years tutoring student athletes before turning whistleblower, this sort of thing happens all the time.

     "I became aware of this 'paper class' system, she told ESPN, "where students would take classes that didn't really exist." Formerly called "Independent studies," these "paper classes" involve no attendance, and in fact only require students to write a paper, at least according to Willingham. And the papers the students produce are far from college quality; in fact, Willingham says, some of the players only have a second grade reading level, which for an adult is functionally illiterate….

     In the ESPN segment, Willingham's allegations are backed up by former UNC athlete Duenta Williams, who added that advisors at the school were mostly interested in ensuring that he remained eligible to play, not in ensuring he got the best education possible. They both also claim that the NCAA turned a blind eye to these practices….[If American high schools didn't graduate illiterates, we'd still have college football, it just wouldn't be as professional. The problem is in our public education system where sports is also more important than academics.]

Emma Cueto, "This 146-Word Essay Earned UNC Athlete An A-, Says Former Professor," Clementinedaily.com, March 28, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Get A Room

     A Florida man was arrested for lewd behavior after a 6-year-old girl found him naked in a Walgreens bathroom--where he was having sex with his girlfriend. The little girl went into the restroom of the Winter Haven, Florida drugstore just as a nude Christopher Mahurin, 24, emerged from the stall where he was having sex with Jenna Lynn Frey, 22, about 8 PM….

     Mahurin pushed the girl toward the door when she began to scream….But when her father heard the yelling, he burst into the bathroom and grabbed the girl. Cops arrived a short time later and found Mahurin and Frey sitting in a car parked in the lot outside the drugstore. The couple later admitted that they were having sex in the stall before the little girl walked into the restroom.

     Mahurin was slapped with charges that include lewd exhibition, indecent exposure in public and battery….

Joe Kemp, "Naked Florida Man Scares Girl, 6, After Having Sex in Walgreen Bathroom," New York Daily News, March 24, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Another Secret Service Drinking Scandal

     Three Secret Service agents in President Obama's detail were sent home from the Netherlands after reportedly spending a night out drinking in Amsterdam ahead of the president's arrival Monday, March 24, 2014. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told Fox News that the agents had been sent home "for disciplinary reasons" and had been placed on administrated leave pending an investigation.

     The Washington Post reported that the three agents, all members of the Secret Service Agency's Counter Assault Team (CAT) went out in the Dutch capital Saturday night. Staff at their hotel alerted the U.S. Embassy after finding one of the agents passed out in a hallway Sunday morning. According to regulations recently adopted by the Secret Service, agents on official trips are prohibited from drinking alcohol 10 or fewer hours before being on duty….

     The incident is the latest incident of bad behavior among members of the elite agency. Most notoriously, 10 agents were removed from their jobs after agents and officers engaged in heavy drinking and brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms while in Cartagena, Columbia for an economic summit in April 2012. Mark Sullivan, then the director of the agency apologized for the conduct of his employees and stepped down months later. Obama then appointed Julie Pierson to be the first female director of the agency….

"Secret Service Agents Sent Home From Netherlands," Fox News, March 26, 2014 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Catching Corrupt Politicians: A Never Ending Job

     The fact that so many politicians are crooked begs the question: are people drawn to public office crooks at heart, or are they simply naive narcissists who, once in office, realize they're members of what the humorist P. J. O'Rouke called the "parliament of whores?" If these civic do-gooders didn't know going in how corrupt a profession they had entered, they learn early on how easy it is to get rich on taxpayer money, lobbyists eager to pay for their votes, influence peddling, and inside information. And the corruption isn't limited to state and local politicians, it flourishes on the federal level. The money these people steal from us every year is in the billions.

     One could define government generally as organized crime. (It's also orchestrated stupidity.) That's why there is so much governmental secrecy and official lying. Politicians who claim they are "transparent" in their official dealings are lying through their teeth. And anyone who believes that our government is transparent is stupid. Nothing can get a politician in trouble quicker than telling the truth. If you aren't an accomplished liar, that is, if you can't tell an obvious lie with a straight face, politics is not for you.

     It's no surprise that a vast majority of Americans have an extremely low opinion of politicians in all levels of government. Dishonest used car salesmen, ambulance-chasing lawyers, and even journalists are held in higher esteem. The only people reviled more than politicians are pedophiles, rapists, and sadistic serial killers. (I think.)

Four State Legislators From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

     In 2010, undercover investigators out of the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office began offering bribes to Democrat and Republican members of the State House of Representatives. In the course of that sting operation, investigators amassed 400 hours of audio and videotape recordings depicting four representatives accepting bribes from a lobbyist who secretly recorded the transactions. Each of the bribe takers, on numerous occasions, allegedly had his or her hand out for cash, money orders, and in one case, a Tiffany bracelet.

     Charged with taking bribes to vote against a Pennsylvania law that would require voters to possess photographic identification, were Ronald G. Waters ($7,650), Vanesa Brown ($4,000), Michelle Brownlee ($3,500), and Louise Bishop ($1,500). All of the suspects are black Democratic representatives from Philadelphia. Investigators had also offered bribes to Republicans but there were no takers. (One could hope they refused the illicit offers because they are honest. I suspect they refused because they smelled a rat. Am I cynical? Yes.)

     In the fall of 2013, the new Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane closed the public corruption case and announced there will be no prosecutions stemming from the three-year sting operation. In justifying her decision not to pursue the four Philadelphia Democrats, Kane said the operation had been poorly managed and that investigators didn't utilize traditional police techniques. She also accused her predecessor, Tom Corbett (now governor), of racial targeting.

     A watchdog group has called for an independent counsel probe of Attorney General Kane's motives for dismissing the corruption cases. One shouldn't be surprised if her decision was political. Her critics believe that if the representatives had been four white men from Philadelphia, the case would have gone forward. Justice is not always blind, especially when politicians are involved.

A California State Senator From San Francisco

     Leland Yee emigrated to the Untied States from China when he was three. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley then earned a Masters Degree from San Francisco State University. In November 2006 he was elected to the California Senate.

     As a state senator, Yee allegedly did business with Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, a former Chinatown gangster who operated out of the Gee King Tong Free Masons in the city's Chinatown. On March 26, 2014, FBI agents arrested Senator Yee and Raymond Chow for illegal gun trafficking and wire fraud. As a Democratic senator, Yee has been a strong proponent of gun control. (Hypocrisy is the lifeblood of politics.) Senator Yee also faces federal charges of accepting inappropriate campaign contributions, influence peddling, and money laundering. A few days after his arrest Senator Yee dropped out of his bid for the job of state secretary.

     Yee's arrest made him the third Democratic California State Senator to be arrested for corruption by the FBI in 2014. The three earlier FBI sting operations involved taking cash bribes and other perks in exchange for supporting or opposing various legislation.

The Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina

     Patrick D. Cannon, a radio host and owner of a parking management company, was elected to the Charlotte city council in 1993. In August 2010, the FBI began a sting operation involving undercover agents posing as real estate developers with plenty of money to hand out in return for favorable treatment from the leaders of the state's largest city.

     In November 2013, the voters of Charlotte elected Patrick Cannon to the office of mayor. He had been on the job just a few months when on March 26, 2014, FBI agents arrested the 47-year-old Democrat on charges of extortion and bribe taking. The mayor stood accused of accepting, in the form of bribes, $48,000 in cash, a junket to Las Vegas, and the use of a luxury apartment. The day after his arrest, Cannon resigned from the mayor's office.

     While dishonest Democrats are currently in the news, Republican politicians have not escaped charges of political corruption. So, how do you like your crooks, Republican or Democrat? I like them behind bars. But for every one they put away, ten people just like them fight to take their place in the parliament of whores.    

     

Criminal Justice Quote: The Fear of Being Sued

     A wealthy society, like a wealthy person, is apt to err on the side of caution, an instinct akin to trying to protect a lead in games. But what's going on here is not the age-old tension between caution and risk. There's a third dimension of risk that never existed, at least not in ordinary daily choices, until recent decades: legal risk. In any social dealings, whether selling products, managing employees, running a classroom, or building a playground, there's a chance that someone might be hurt or offended. And in modern America that carries with it the risk of being sued.

     Dealing with legal risk is different from dealing with other risks because, instead of weighing the benefits and costs of a choice, it requires focusing on the lowest common denominator. A choice might be beneficial or productive but nonetheless carry huge legal risk. The playground could be perfectly suited for its purpose, attracting tens of thousands of children to healthy activity, and still be the source of liability whenever some boy decides to launch himself off the swing and breaks his leg--as is certain to occur from time to time.

     This is not a problem that takes care of itself. America has a public health crisis but doesn't know how to make the legal choices needed to let children to take the risks of growing up. We don't know how to say that sometimes things go wrong. This is an odd phenomenon, as if the adults fell on their heads and developed a kind of amnesia about how life works. The victim of an accident appears, demanding satisfaction, and we shrink back in legal fear.

Philip K. Howard, Life Without Lawyers, 2009

Hellementary Education Quote: When Grade School Failed to Protect His Son, Father Filed Protection Order Against Bully

     ….A father in California filed a restraining order against a 9-year-old for bullying his child. Stephen Feuder said it was his last resort. He went to court to protect his son. Feuder said he complained about the bullying to the school district near Sacramento, but the district didn't respond. Feuder says the boy ran up to his son and punched him in the face.

     The local sheriff's department says it's never heard of a restraining order against a person so young as nine, but a spokesman said "I guess as a parent, you have to do what you have to do."

     By law, the restraining order must be delivered to the person within five days, but the school district won't tell Feuder where the bully lives. Now Feuder says he's going to try to get a judge to force the school to give him that information.

Craig Thomas, "Father Files Restraining Order Against 9-Year-Old For Bullying His Son," Tucson News Now, March 24, 2014. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Innocent Woman Locked Up in California For 32 Years

     A 74-year-old woman was released from prison on March 24, 2014 after serving 32 years for a murder committed by her abusive boyfriend. Mary Virginia Jones walked out of Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, California to the tears and cheers of family and friends….

     Jones was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery in a 1981 shooting death, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan set aside those convictions….The district attorney's office has agreed to accept a plea of no contest to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for Jones' release. Jones has already served 11,875 days, which exceeds the 11-year maximum sentence for voluntary manslaughter.

     Jones' case was taken up by the University of Southern California's Post-Conviction Justice Report. It contends Jones' boyfriend, Mose Willis, kidnapped two drug dealers and forced the woman to drive to an alley, where he shot both men. One of them was killed….

     For years Jones maintained that she "did not willingly participate in the crime." A week before the shooting, Willis shot at Jones' daughter, Denitra Jones-Goodie, and threatened to kill both of them if they contacted the police….Law students at USC's Post Conviction Project argued Jones would not have been convicted if the jury had heard testimony on the effects of intimate partner battery, previously known as "Battered Women's Syndrome."

"Woman, 74, Freed After 32 Years in Prison For Murder She Didn't Commit," CBS News, March 25, 2014 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Arsenic Poisoning

A person can be accidentally poisoned by arsenic through inhalation, absorption through the skin or mucous membranes, skin contact, and ingestion. People have died by breathing arsenic fumes, licking paintbrushes to make a fine point, or wearing inadequate clothing when applying arsenic-based products. The effects of mild poisoning from inhalation include loss of appetite, nausea and diarrhea. Effects of more severe chronic or acute exposure include skin lesions, chronic headaches, apathy, a garlic oder on the breath, a metallic taste in the mouth, a bronzing pigment of the skin resembling "raindrops on a dusty road" and possible damage to the liver. In addition, arsenic and arsenic compounds are known cancer-causing agents and have been implicated in lung and skin cancer and associated with birth defects.

Michael Baden, M.D. and Marion Roach, Dead Reckoning, 2011 

Criminal Justice Quote: Dr. Arthur Waite: The Happy Poisoner

     In 1917, on trial for his life, accused of double murder, Dr. Arthur Warren Waite laughed at the law. It was, he agreed, all true. He had indeed murdered his mother-in-law by mixing germs in her food. He had also killed his wealthy father-in-law, but when germs failed, and arsenic too, Waite had used chloroform, suffocating the old man with a pillow to finish him off. Why? "For the money," said Waite.

     Waite's trial was the New York City sensation of its day. The debonair young dentist cheerfully explained how he had poisoned his mother-in-law mixing pneumonia, diphtheria and influenza germs into her meals.

     Dr. Waite's father-in-law had been a hardier soul, resisting tuberculosis bacteria sprayed up his nose, chlorine gas, and various attempts to give him pneumonia, including dampening his bed sheets. Science caught up with Dr. Waite when arsenic he'd poured into the old man's soup was detected at autopsy. [Waite was found guilty and hanged.]

Roger Wilkes, ed, The Mammoth Book of Murder & Science, 2000

Criminal Justice Quote: In Cops Versus Dogs, Dogs Lose

     The Browns say a patrolman wielding a shotgun killed a member of their family. Cali, a gentle and loving pit bull was shot to death after jumping the backyard fence in Ardmore, Oklahoma say her owners, who have started a massive social media drive to get the officer disciplined.

     Sarah Brown says a neighbor witnessed the shooting and heard the cop boasting about how "awesome" it looked when the dog's collar blew off from the blast.

     Ardmore Police Captain Eric Hamblin said the March 2014 shooting was justified because animal control officers were unable to collect the dog after receiving phone complaints that a pit bull was acting aggressively in the neighborhood. According to Hamblin, the policeman who shot Cali has received death threats….

     Brown says the neighbor told her the cop had laughed after shooting her 2-year-old dog….The dog joined the family as a puppy and had no history of bad behavior, family members said….

Deborah Hastings, "Oklahoma Family Says Cop Shot To Death Their Beloved Dog For No Reason," New York Daily News, March 25, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jim Fisher's Upcoming Talk About His New Book, "The Mammoth Book of Murder"

     For true crime buffs, armchair detectives and aspiring murderologists in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, Jim Fisher, true crime writer and publisher of this blog, will be discussing his new book at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.

     The March 31, 2014 presentation will be held at 6 PM in the McKelvey Building's Witherspoon room. There is no charge, but please leave your guns and knives at the door. (Just kidding.)

     The Mammoth Book of Murder: True Stories of Violent Death is comprised of 200 murder case accounts arranged according to the many ways different people find to commit criminal homicide. It features criminal investigation, criminology, forensic science, and plenty of courtroom drama. There are chapters on murder-for-hire, serial killers, arson-murder, convictions based solely on circumstantial evidence, murders solved through forensic science, cases involving junk science, historic cases, drug-addled and insane murderers, and cases reflecting the current murder-sucide epidemic in the U.S.

     The Mammoth Book of Murder is not for the faint of heart or people who don't like the sight of blood. During the presentation on March 31 an ambulance will be standing by outside the venue. (Just kidding.) There will be time left for questions and comments.

     All of Jim's books are available on Amazon.com and other online book selling sites.

Hellementary Education Quote: Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Will Be Girls at Christian Elementary School

     A family says their eight-year-old granddaughter has been pressured to leave her Christian elementary school in Lynchburg, Virginia for being a tomboy. Sunnie Kahle's grandparents, Doris and Carroll Thompson, received a letter from Timberlake Christian School after they had an issued with the eight-year-old's "biblical lifestyle."

     "We believe that unless Sunnie and her family clearly understand that God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity, that TCS is not the best place for her future education," principal Becky Bowman wrote in the March 14 letter to Thompson.

     Doris and Carroll Thompson are furious with the school's assertions against their granddaughter…."Sunnie realizes she's a female, but she wants to wear jeans and a t-shirt. She didn't want to wear her frilling dresses anymore," said Doris. Kahle.  Her appearance led to students asking if she was a girl or a boy. This was eventually noticed by the administrator at Timberlake Christian School.

     Although Sunnie is a good student, a school administrator says the situation is causing a classroom disruption. The school claims they just want Sunnie's family to follow guidelines and understand Sunnie is a girl and dress her appropriately….[Sunnie now attends a pubic school.]

"Family Says Girl Was Kicked Out of School For Tomboy Appearance," MyFox News, March 25, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Shoplifting Versus Kleptomania

In its condemnation of kleptomania as an euphemism for the shoplifting of the well-to-do, America followed England. More attention was paid to the crime and how to stop it than to the disease and how to cure it. Founded in 1850 as a private security company [and investigative agency], the Pinkerton National Detective Agency established a division to catch shoplifters after the Civil War and most of the major department stores took advantage of it. Pinkerton detectives pursued shoplifters, while socialists, transcendentalists, and humorists lampooned kleptomaniacs as proof of democracy's failure. In his 1888 essay, "A New Crime," Mark Twain writes, "In these days, too, if a person of good family and high social standing steals anything, they call it KLEPTOMANIA, and send him to the lunatic asylum." …A lifelong advocate for free speech, suffragism, and a classless society, the anarchist Emma Goldman derided kleptomania. In a speech she gave in 1896 Pittsburgh, she denounced it as yet another strategy the wealthy enacted to steal from the poor.

Rachel Shteir, The Steal, 2011

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Esteban Manzanares: Border Patrol Agent Allegedly Raped 14-Year-Old Honduran Girl

     Before becoming a U.S. Border Patrol agent in 2008, Esteban Manzanares, a resident of McAllen, Texas, a town on the Mexican border, worked as a jail guard and served in the Army National Guard. He had been married two years to his wife Susana, a woman he'd met online in 2000.

     In August 2013, Esteban and Susana separated. He moved from their home in Edinburg into an apartment in nearby Mission, Texas. The couple's two children, a girl and a boy, one and six-years-old respectively, remained with their mother. The divorce became final in February 2014.

     After the separation, the 32-year-old border patrol agent and his 30-year-old ex-wife remained on good terms. As far as she could tell, he was mentally sound and remained devoted to his children who both suffered from cystic fibrosis.

      But at work, agent Manzanares had gone rogue. Two women who had crossed the Rio Grande into Texas illegally reported that they had been raped by a border patrol agent. The details of the crime and the victim's description of the rapist led FBI agents and border patrol personnel to suspect Manzanares. They did not, however, have enough evidence to charge him or place him on administrative leave.

     Working with a cloud of suspicion over his head, a few hours prior to the end of his daytime patrol shift on March 12, 2014, Manzanares encountered a young woman and two 14-year-old girls in a Hidalgo County park a few miles from Mexico. The woman immediately identified herself and the girls as Honduran nationals who had just entered the county illegally.

     Manzanares handcuffed the females and put them in his patrol truck, but instead of taking them to a border patrol station, he drove them to a remote spot a few miles away. In this scrub-filled no-man's land, Manzanares sexually assaulted the women and the girls, one of whom was the older victim's daughter.

     Following the assaults, Manazanares put one of the girls back into his truck and drove off leaving the woman and her daughter in the wilderness. The border patrol agent drove to his apartment in Mission where left his victim tied up. Later that night he returned to his apartment and raped the girl.

     In the meantime, the mother and daughter had been picked up and taken to the McAllen Medical Center. Their description of the man who had assaulted them led to a search of Manazanares' patrol truck. Inside the vehicle searchers found blood stains and pieces of duct tape.

     During the early morning hours of March 13, 2014, two FBI agents showed up at Manzanares' apartment in Mission. They knocked on the door and heard, from inside the dwelling, a gunshot. The agents called for backup. Members of the Mission Police Department's SWAT team broke into the apartment. Inside officers found the 14-year-old Honduran girl. She was nude and bound, but alive. Manzanares had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.


Criminal Justice Quote: Public Defender Offices

     Traditionally, the country's legal apparatus favors the office of the district attorney. The states instinctively supported the creating of prosecutors' officers because of a political will to solve crime and punish those who commit it. By contrast, the need to provide counsel for poor people accused of crimes is a burden that the U.S. Supreme Court thrust on the states in the sixties. Thus with a more popular mandate, prosecutors tend to receive more money and resources. For instance, Congress spent $26 million building the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina, to train prosecutors. There is a similar school in Reno, Nevada, for training state and local judges. No federally funded counterpart exists for defense lawyers. Also, the Bureau of Justice Assistance gives federal aid to state and local law enforcement agencies…with no equivalent moneys for the defense….[All this may be true but the American legal system--the presumption of innocence, the Bill of Rights, and due process--is geared to help the accused.]

Amy Bach, Ordinary Justice, 2009 

Criminal Justice Quote: Innocent Man on Death Row Thirty Years

…..Glenn Ford, Louisiana's longest-serving death row prisoner, walked free on March 11, 2014 after spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit….According to the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana, a judge ordered that Ford be freed after prosecutors petitioned the court to release him. New information corroborated what Ford had said all along: that he was not present at nor involved in the November 5, 1983 slaying of Isadore Rozeman….Ford had been on death row since 1984, making him one of the longest-serving death row prisoners in the United States….

Dana Ford, "Louisiana's Longest-Serving Death Row Prisoner Walks Free After 30 Years," CNN, March 11, 2014

Hellementary Education Quote: Police Arrest Mother For Not Signing School's Guestbook

     A Missouri mother is furious about how she was treated by school administrators and police officers who had her arrested for trespassing because she failed to sign a guestbook when she came to the elementary school to assist her special needs son. The mother, Niakea Williams, received a call from her son's teacher that he was having a medical episode. William's son, Michael, suffers from Asperger's Syndrome.

     Williams rushed over to Walnut Groves Elementary School in St. Louis County, Missouri, to help her son. School officers promptly let her inside….Williams provided assistance to her son, calming him down. Soon after, the principal came to the classroom and informed Williams that she violated school policy by failing to sign the guestbook. Williams replied that she was perfectly willing to sign the book. It was too late, the principal said….

     Police responded to the scene as if there had been a reported unauthorized entry into the school--even though staff had let Williams inside. Officers with the Calverton Park Police Department arrested Williams and took her to the station. The school was on lockdown for 12 minutes, and a letter was sent out to parents explaining what happened….[What happened is this: an idiot has been put in charge of the Walnut Groves Elementary School. Moreover, we now know that officers with the local police department are not very bright either.]

Robby Soave, "Parent Comes to School to Help Son, Principal Calls Cops and She's Arrested," The Daily Caller, March 25, 2014



     

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Father Kills Boy in His Daughter's Bedroom

 A father in the Houston suburb of Spring, Texas is accused of fatally shooting a 17-year-old boy he found in his teenage daughter's bedroom early Thursday morning, March 13, 2014. Harris County investigators said the suspect's 16-year-old daughter let the boy into the house….Her father told investigators he heard noises coming from his daughter's bedroom about 2:30 AM and went to investigate. He found the 17-year-old in the bedroom, and there was an alteration before the boy was shot once….The accused shooter was not arrested or charged with a crime. A Harris County grand jury will decide, what, if any, charges will be filed against him. [When confronted by her father in the bedroom, the girl said she did not know the boy which led the father to believe he had a rapist in the house.]

Phyllis Stark, "Dad Kills Teen Hiding in Daughter's Bedroom," 13 News Houston, March 13, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Criminal Crack Addict

     Every street cop in America knows that crack cocaine is the most potent drug on earth. A high percentage of violent crimes in this country are perpetrated to get money to buy the drug.

     Crack cocaine, or freebase, is created by cooking powdered cocaine with baking soda. When cooled, the product is hammered into curly white flakes that resemble bits of shaved soap, or paint peelings. A flake is called a "rock."

     Addiction is swift, and the prospects for recovery are bleak. Smokable cocaine doesn't trickle into the brain--it overwhelms it. The high is an intense burst of pleasure. But the downside is a free fall into deep depression. Addicts say you rise through the ceiling, then crash back through the floor. The user, desperate to postpone the brutal collapse that follows when the dose wears off, quickly learns the strategy of obtaining, in one transaction, as many rocks as possible.

     But no matter how much you have, it's never enough. A terrifying cost comes with prolonged usage--a horrible craving that makes users go berserk. It creeps into the mind minutes after the last rock is smoked up. The addict must get more. So he picks up whatever weapon is available and goes shopping. And that's where law-abiding citizens all too often get sucked into a crackhead's world.

Robert A. Waters, The Best Defense, 1998

Criminal Justice Quote: Determining Gender From the Skeletons of the Young

     Determining sex in children can be elusive. Most of the skeletal differences, even in the pelvis, that distinguish the sexes don't fully define until early adulthood, and the differences that do exist in children are often not of the magnitude that permit a confident estimate.

     One of the best indicators of sex in a child is the teeth. In determining gender, the indicator is not in how dissimilar they are but in how alike. It is well known that in general males tend to be a year or two slower than females in their overall body development. But although girls' long bones grow earlier and faster than boys' do, for some reason that same advantage is not as extensive in the development of the teeth. Accordingly, it is possible to estimate the sex of a child's skeleton by comparing the extent of skeletal development with the level of dental maturation. The older the child, the more accurate the technique. However, we usually do not attempt to estimate the sex of immature skeletons because the accuracy reaches only about 80 percent even in older children. In a forensic case, 80 percent is not good enough; we can estimate with 50 percent reliability just by guessing.

Dr. Douglas Ubelaker and Henry Scammell, Bones, 1992

Criminal Justice Quote: No One Charged in Deadly Baseball Brawl

     San Francisco prosecutors have declined to file charges in a stabbing case stemming from the Giants-Dodgers rivalry that resulted in the death of a 24-year-old Dodgers fan near AT&T Park in 2013. District Attorney George Gascon said on March 21, 2014 that his office could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Michael Montgomery, 21, of Lodi, California, did not act in self-defense when he stabbed Fort Bragg, California resident Jonathan Denver in a brawl on September 25, 2013.

     Authorities say subsequent interviews with witnesses and fight participants conducted over the past six months revealed that Denver and his brother had teamed up against Montgomery before he used the knife to defend himself. Denver had left a Giants-Dodgers game that night with his father and brother in the eighth inning to go to a bar. They encountered Montgomery and his friends in front of a liquor store…around 11:30 PM. One of Montgomery's friends was wearing a Giants cap.

     The two groups argued about the Giants-Dodgers rivalry, and the squabbling escalated into a brawl. Authorities say both groups were intoxicated: Denver's group on alcohol and Montgomery's group on marijuana.

     Montgomery was booked into the county jail on suspicion of homicide, but he was released two days later when prosecutors concluded there was not enough evidence to file charges….The two brothers collectively weighted about 150 pounds more than Montgomery and they double-teamed him….Witnesses told investigators that Montgomery had a bottle in his hand for self-defense when Denver's brother grabbed an aluminum chair…and hit Montgomery in the head with it. Montgomery dropped the bottle and stabbed Denver who had been punching him during the assault….

Vivian Ho, "No Charges in Fatal Stabbing Fueled by Giants-Dodgers Rivalry," San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2014 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Prostitutes and Cops: Freebies Are Legal in Hawaii

     You don't have to be a hardcore libertarian to question the wisdom of arresting and prosecuting adult prostitutes. Aside from cases involving the trafficking of underage sex slaves, this form of crime fighting is a waste of limited law enforcement manpower. Moreover, this type of vice control fosters police corruption and unprofessional behavior.

     The criminalization of prostitution has affected law enforcement more than it has altered the oldest profession in the world. A recent study conducted by a professor at the University of Chicago and a professor from Columbia University revealed that a prostitute is taken into custody once every 450 tricks, and only one in ten of these arrests leads to more than a few days in jail. That doesn't mean, however, that police officers aren't bothering whores. One in every 30 tricks a prostitute performs is a freebie with a cop as payment for not being arrested. According to this study, a prostitute is much more likely to have sex with an on-duty police officer than to be arrested by one. The law enforcement freebie is simply a cost prostitutes pay to stay out of jail.

     A former Massachusetts police officer pleaded guilty in 2013 to extorting sex from prostitutes he threatened to arrest. In August of that year, a passerby called 911 in Portland, Oregon when she saw a 50-year-old detective having sex with a prostitute in a vacant lot. The authorities threw the prostitute into jail but merely cited the detective for the minor offenses of patronizing a prostitute and indecent exposure. The cop was suspended without pay.

     In West Sacramento, California, an officer was convicted of raping prostitutes in his police car. All over the country hookers who refuse to cooperate are raped by cops. A vast majority of these crimes go unreported. This is another price prostitutes pay for selling themselves for sex. While it's a rough business, there has never been a shortage of hookers. It's a matter of supply and demand, pure capitalism. Cops demand their cut which is often in the form of free sex.

     In Hawaii, vice cops are allowed by law to have sex with prostitutes in order to make their cases. This incredibly stupid law was intended to solve the so-called "cop check" problem involving hookers who employ tactics to identify undercover cops to avoid arrest. Apparently in Honolulu vice cops are too stupid or lazy to pull off prostitution stings without going all the way. Vice cops in every other state have managed to get the job done without dropping their pants.

     Recently a bill that would nullify the legal exemption that allows cops to commit what for civilians is a crime, passed the state's House of Representatives. The measure is being argued in the Senate.

     Under Hawaii's vice law exemption, cops not only get free sex, they get it under the banner of crime fighting. It's amazing what these crime fighting warriors are willing to sacrifice on our behalf.

     The Hawaiian vice exemption encourages police behavior that in every other state is considered unprofessional and illegal. Moreover, it couldn't be good for marriage and other domestic relationships. Johnny, what does your dad do for a living? He arrests whores he has had sex with. Are they hiring down at the Honolulu PD?

     The existence of taxpayer paid sex for Hawaiian vice cops is yet another reminder that you can never underestimate the stupidity of some legislators and police administrators.
   
     

Criminal Justice Quote: The Houston Church Caper

     Thousands of dollars in cash and checks--along with written credit card information--were stolen from Houston's Lakewood Church on Sunday, March 9, 2014….The total amount was somewhere around $600,000….[Whoa--forget bank robbery, hit big churches.]

     Someone broke into the church's safe Sunday evening, taking cash, checks and envelopes containing written credit card information….A church employee made the discovery Monday morning. Lakewood, which is led by Pastor Joel Osteen, encouraged those who made contributions to the church on March 8 and 9 to monitor their bank and credit card accounts closely for fraudulent charges….[The stolen funds were fully insured.]…

Craig Hlavaty, "Church Tithes Stolen From Lakewood, Fox News, March 11, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: O.J. Simpson: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Some writers of letters and a lot of kids don't seem to care if I'm guilty or innocent. They just want to believe in me….When I speak to kids, I say that you have to accept responsibility for your own actions…I say to everybody that if I had committed this crime, I would have had to take responsibility for my actions….

O.J. Simpson, I Want to Tell You, 1994 [Letter to a young fan following his arrest for double murder.]

Criminal Justice Quote: Norway's Angel of Death

     Arnfinn Nesset managed the Oakdale Valley Nursing Home in Norway, and between 1977 and 1980 he murdered 22 of his elderly patients by the administration of the drug curacit (a derivative of curare, which is used by the natives of South America to tip their arrows). During a preliminary interrogation Nesset confessed to the killings, adding, "I've killed so many I can't remember them all." At various times he gave different reasons for the murders, including euthanasia, pleasure killing, schizophrenia and a morbid need to take life.

     By the time Nesset came to trial, he had retracted his confessions and pleaded not guilty. He was eventually convicted of 22 out of a final 25 counts of murder, plus charges of forgery related to the embezzlement of the deceased patients' money--not for his own use, he was quick to emphasize, but to swell the funds of missionary charities. Nesset was sentenced to 21 years' imprisonment, the maximum permitted under Norwegian law.

Brian Lane, Chronicle of 20th Century Murder, 1995 

Writing Quote: Selecting a Genre

     You want to write, but to write about what, exactly? A memoir; history; poetry; a novel? Or a short story, perhaps. Or a long short story.

     While they are theoretically allowed to exercise their free will, many writers will contend that they've been invisibly but firmly propelled in one particular direction. Writers might write what they like to read, and we have heard how reading is the foundation of writing. Following your own reading tastes might help you narrow the field; fiction or nonfiction; poetry or prose. If you love movies, or the theater, or TV, you may be driven to write in those genres.

Ian Jackman, The Writer's Mentor, 2004

Criminal Justice Quote: Big Case Talking Heads: The Art of Second Guessing

     ….Whenever a sensational murder case takes over the headlines…legions of law enforcement specialists populate television shows, providing endless insights, theories, and especially I-would-have-done-it-a-better-way rebuttals concerning the methods being used to solve the crime….

     I have frequently been one of those professional talking heads, giving my forensic two cents' worth on a number of tabloid homicides. It can be, I blush to admit, agreeable to give one's opinion on another person's errors.

Frederick Zugibe, M.D. and David L. Carroll, Dissecting Death, 2005

     

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cruise Ship Employee Tries to Rape then Kill Passenger

     Ketut Pujayasa, a 28-year-old citizen of Indonesia, worked as a room service attendant on Holland America's ms Nieuw Amsterdam. Following a background investigation that included a criminal history check, the cruise line hired Pujayasa in 2012. According to the cruise line, up until he went berserk and attempted to rape and murder a 31-year-old female passenger, he possessed an excellent work record.

     On February 14, 2014, the Nieuw Amsterdam sat in international waters off Honduras. That morning Pujayasa delivered breakfast to the American passenger's room. When he knocked on the door, she allegedly yelled, "Wait a minute, son of a bitch!"

     Taking the woman's outburst as an insult to himself and his family, Pujayasa brooded over the incident for hours. That evening, when off duty, he used his master key to enter the woman's vacant stateroom. From there he entered the room's outdoor balcony where he fell asleep.

     Later that night, when Pujayasa awoke on the balcony, he realized the woman was asleep in her bed. He crept into the room, removed his trousers and underwear, and climbed on top of her. The victim resisted, and in the course of a struggle, he slammed her in the face with a laptop computer. In an attempt to choke her silent, Pujayasa wrapped a cord attached to a curling iron around her neck. She retaliated by kicking him in the genitals and trying to stab him with a corkscrew.

     Fearing that someone on board would hear the commotion created by the fight and come to the passenger's aid, the smallish Indonesian tried to pull the victim out onto the balcony where he could toss her overboard. At this moment, another passenger, reacting to the screaming and sounds of a scuffle, pounded on the woman's door.

     Pujayasa, still naked from the waist down, let go of the victim and stepped out onto the balcony. From there he jumped to an adjacent balcony, entered that room, and fled from the crime scene.

     The victim ran out of her room with her face bruised and swollen and the curling iron dangling from her neck.

     Back in his quarters, Pujayasa told his roommate that he had just killed a passenger.

     The Nieuw Amsterdam, on February 15, 2014, docked at Roatan, Honduras. From there the victim was flown to a  hospital in southern Florida. She is expected to survive the beating.

     When the cruise ship docked at Fort Lauderdale on February 16, FBI agents took Ketut Pujayasa into custody. Before being booked into the Broward County Jail on federal charges of attempted murder and aggravated sexual abuse, the suspect confessed fully to his FBI interrogators. A federal magistrate denied Pujayasa bond. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Man Accused of Mailing Bomb to Sheriff Joe Arpaio

     Federal agents have arrested an Oklahoma man accused of mailing a package bomb last year addressed to Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona [Maricopa County] lawman who calls himself "America's toughest sheriff."…

     Gregory Lynn Shrader, 55, is suspected of dropping off the parcel, filled with gunpowder and other materials at a U.S. Postal Service mailbox in Flagstaff, Arizona, but the package was intercepted by state authorities before it reached Arpaio….The device was rendered harmless by the police.

     Shrader was arrested in March 2014 and is being held without bond at the Tulsa County Jail, where he is awaiting release to the custody of U.S. marshals….He was charged in a criminal complaint with one count of willfully making a threat through the U.S. mail. Arpaio has drawn criticism for his aggressive stance on illegal immigration. He was the subject of a U.S. Justice Department probe over his office's treatment of HIspanics and has been scrutinized for housing county inmates in a Spartan "Tent City" jail. He has also been the subject of multiple threats of violence….

Laila Kearney, "Man Charged With Mailing Package Bomb to 'Americans Toughest Sheriff'," Associated Press, March 12, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: School Cop Breaks Student's Arm

     A public school police officer was suspended after chilling video footage caught him breaking a high school student's arm. Steve Rivers, an officer with the Beaumont Independent School District in Beaumont, Texas, was attempting to break up a fight between two students. Another officer wrestled the student to the ground and he was pinned when Rivers attempted to handcuff him….

     Rivers snapped the student's arm forward. It can clearly be heard to break during the video which was filmed by a bystander with a cell phone. The student began screaming almost immediately but the officers continued to push his head against the pavement. After a parent complained Rivers was placed on unpaid leave pending the results of an investigation….

Robby Soave, "This Video of Cop Snapping a Kid's Arm Will Make You Scream," The Daily Caller, March 18, 2014 

Johnny Cash's Great Niece Murdered

     Meth could have played a role in the stabbing death of Johnny Cash's great niece….Courtney Cash, 23, was found dead Wednesday, March 19, 2014, inside a wooden chest in her Baxter, Tennessee home. Putnam County deputies arrested Wayne Masciarella soon afterward and charged him with first-degree murder. Masciarella is also suspected of stabbing Cash's boyfriend William Austin Johnson. Masciarella had gotten into a fight with Johnson and Cash at their home before stabbing them and fleeing.

     The three are believed to be friends….Witnesses had seen them together hours before the stabbing. After the attack, Johnson drove himself to a hospital in Sparta along with his and Cash's 20-month-old daughter. The child was not injured.

     Masciarella was booked without bond into the Putnam County Jail….He has been previously arrested 20 times in Putnam County. Courtney Cash was the granddaughter of Tommy Cash, the brother of Johnny Cash….

Adam Tamburin, "Murder of Johnny Cash's Relative Could Be Tied to Meth," The Tennessean, March 21, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Pope Versus the Mafia: My Money Is On The Mafia

     Pope Francis has launched a stinging attack on the mafia, warning gangsters that they will go to hell unless they repent and stop doing evil. "Blood-stained money, blood-stained power, you can't bring it with you to your next life. Repent," he said.

     The Pope was speaking in March 2014 at a prayer vigil for relatives of those killed by the mafia. He has spoken out frequently about the evils of corruption and wrote a booklet on the subject in 2005 when he was archbishop of Buenos Ares….

     "This life that you live now won't give you pleasure. It won't give you joy or happiness," he said. "There's still time to not end up in hell, which is what awaits you if you continue on this path."…[Preaching God to degenerate sociopaths is like trying to shame politicians for their dishonesty.]

"Pope Francis Denounces 'Evil, Blood-Stained' Mafia," BBC News, March 21, 2014 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Walmart Toe-Sucker Arrested

     Police in North Carolina have arrested a man accused of sucking on a woman's toes at a Walmart store after convincing her that he was a podiatry student. Authorities say Michael Anthony Brown was arrested Thursday night, March 20, 2014 at his home in Concord. He was turned over to Lincolnton police. A Lincoln County magistrate has set his bond at $50,000 on a charge of assault on a female….

     According to police, Brown is a registered sex offender….The victim agreed try on several pairs of shoes at the store in Lincolnton. At some point the man stuck her foot in his mouth. Police say the when the woman became upset, the man offered to pay for her groceries.

"Walmart Toe-Sucking Suspect Arrested," Associated Press, March 21, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: No Free Lunch for Roche Harris

     A Georgia man who is accused of impersonating a police officer in order to get a free continental breakfast from a Dunwoody hotel has been arrested. On March 16, 2014 Roche Harris was charged with impersonation of a police officer, simple battery, theft by taking, and loitering and prowling.

     In December 2013, Harris went to the Straybridge Hotel and attempted to eat the continental breakfast even though he was not a guest at the establishment. When he was confronted by staff, Harris allegedly threw hot water in the manager's face.

     In February 2014, Harris returned to the hotel and displayed a badge in an attempt to pass himself off as a law enforcement officer in order to get free food….Harris returned to the hotel on March 16 and began taking food again. Employees called 911 after recognizing the 36-year-old….

Evan Bleier, " Police Arrest Man For Impersonating Officer in Order to Get Free Continental Breakfast," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 20, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Lawyers, Legislators, and Judges Have Destroyed Accountability

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

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

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

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

Philip K. Howard, Life Without Lawyers, 2009 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

God, The Devil, and Marijuana: Stephanie Hamman Stabs Her NASCAR-Loving Husband in Church

     Stephanie Faye Hamman lived with her husband Steven in an apartment in Church Hill, Tennessee. At nine-thirty Sunday night, March 16, 2014, as Steven watched a NASCAR race on television, his 23-year-old wife climbed into her Toyota Celica and drove the car through the front doors of the Providence Church across the street from their apartment.

     From inside the church Stephanie called Steven on her cell phone and informed him she had plowed the Toyota into the building. When Steven walked into the church through the demolished front entrance, he found his wife lying at the foot of the altar. As he checked on the condition of his wife, she rose up and stabbed him in the right side of his chest with a large kitchen knife. "The devil is in me!" she yelled.

     The devil may have been in Stephanie, but the big knife was in Steven. He managed to pull it out of his chest and make his way back across the street to his apartment where he called 911.

     After thrusting the kitchen knife into her husband's chest, Stephanie got back into the damaged Toyota and drove off. Later that night a Church Hill police officer found the car parked in an apartment complex parking lot in nearby Allandale. A relative had driven Stephanie to the emergency room at the Holston Valley Medical Center.

     When taken into custody at the hospital, Stephanie explained to the arresting officer that she had stabbed her husband because she was angry over his "worshiping NASCAR."

     At the Church Hill Police Department, after she had been advised of her Miranda rights, Stephanie became quite talkative. "So God told me," she said, "that He wanted me in their [the church] so I drove my car through the front doors. God told me to do it, so I did it."

      "After I drove through the doors, I put all the things I brought to the church to the altar. I called Steven and told him I had wrecked. I laid down in front of the altar until he got there. The devil told me to take the kitchen knife with me. I prayed I would not have to use it on him, but I did."

     Stephanie told detectives she had been baptized earlier in the day at another church. She also admitted that she smoked a lot of marijuana. "I smoke a bunch of weed," she said. "I love to smoke it. Sometimes when I do, I start seeing things that others don't. Isn't God good? He told me this would happen, and just look, I am okay."

     While Steven Hamman wasn't as okay as his wife physically, doctors expected him to survive his puncture wound.

      A Hawkins County prosecutor charged Stephanie Hamman with attempted first-degree murder and felony vandalism. The judge denied her bail. This case has insanity defense written all over it. Forensic shrinks will have a field day with this one.

   

     

Writing Quote: Useless Writing Advice

Over and over since I've been working on this book, I've been making notes to myself: Don't forget to tell about eating raw broccoli or drinking black coffee or dancing around the room to raise your energy level. Or, should I mention that a very famous novelist masturbated thirteen times a day when she was writing--should I pass that information on? [No, you should not pass that information on because it's a load of crap and not helpful.]

Carolyn See, Making a Literary Life, 2002

Criminal Justice Quote: The Life of a Corpse: Postmortem Changes

     Climate and terrain have a great impact on the speed with which a body decomposes. If a body is deposited in a wooded area in upstate New York in the dead of winter, it's going to decompose much more slowly than one dumped in Florida woods in the summer. One reason is that flies and bacteria, the two main factors in turning a corpse into a skeleton, aren't active outdoors in cold weather. Research shows that bodies placed outside in the winter don't bloat as much as those in the summer, and many of them turn what we refer to as "Halloween colors"--orange and black.

     Although not every case holds true, bodies usually go through several predictable stages: fresh, bloated, and dry. At this last stage, the decomposition process has ceased, maggots have finished feeding, and, unless rodents and larger carnivores eat it, the corpse will change very little even over a period of years. If there is any flesh left covering the skeleton, it will harden so that it will someday resemble leather or parchment paper.

     During the early stages of decomposition, internal gases bloat the abdomen, the skin stretches like plastic wrap, and the veins fill with bacteria, turning them green and black so they look like thin highways or the graining on marble--hence the term "marbling."

     Sometimes, in as little time as two weeks, the face, chin, throat, groin, and abdomen become the first areas to skeletonize. The less meaty and, to maggots, less desirable areas, such as the arms and legs, often decompose last. When you lift a body to look under it, those areas of the body in contact with the ground often resemble Swiss cheese or wormwood; this is where maggots have left the body and burrowed into the ground. Contrary to common belief, hair and nails don't keep growing after death; it's the shrinkage of the tissue that gives this illusion. Skin and hair are dead cells; they were dead before the individual died.

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

Criminal Justice Quote: Armed With a Tattooed Handgun

     Police armed with assault rifles descended on a Maine man's home after members of a tree removal crew... reported that he had a gun. Turns out the "gun" the tree crew had seen on Michael Smith of Norridgewock was just a life-sized tattoo of a handgun on his stomach.

     Smith, who works nights, was asleep when the tree crew contracted by a utility company to trim branches near power lines, woke him up at 10 AM Thursday, March 19, 2014. He went outside shirtless and yelled at the workers to leave. When he's not wearing a shirt, the tattoo looks like a gun tucked into his waistband….Police didn't charge him.

"Gun Tattoo in Maine Prompts Heavy Police Response," Fox News, March 19, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: An Accused Serial Killer's Whacky Defense

     A transgender woman recently accused of killing three prostitutes in Washington state nearly twenty-five years ago is blaming the crime on someone else--her pre-op self. DNA and fingerprint evidence links Donna Perry, who was born Douglas Perry, to the serial murders of Yolanda Sapp, Kathleen Brisbois and Nickie Lowe. The bodies of the three, who worked as prostitutes, were found on the banks of the Spokane River in 1990.

     Police also recovered a .22-caliber bullet casing in the vehicle Perry was driving at the time of the murders….But Donna Perry has told investigators that she is not to blame…."I'm not going to admit that I killed anybody, I didn't. Donna has killed nobody. Doug did."…

     Perry, who underwent sex reassignment surgery in Thailand in 2000, had told detectives back in 2012 that she underwent the operation "as a permanent way to control violence."…Perry is being held in the Spokane County Jail on $1 million bond. Jail records list Perry as a female, through under her birth name, Douglas R. Perry.

Chuck Ross, "Post-Op Transgender Woman Blames Serial Killings on Pre-OP Self," The Daily
Caller, March 19, 2014 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Jailing the Mentally Ill

     ….In the 1950's, more than half million people lived in U.S. mental institutions--one in 300 Americans. By the late 1970s, only 160,000 did, due to efforts by psychiatrists, philanthropists, and politicians to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill.

     Today there's one public psychiatric care bed for 7,100 Americans--the same ratio as in 1850. The motives behind this trend were varied. Emptying the asylums was going to save money. And who needed hospitals with all the antipsychotic drugs on the market? Deinstitutionalization was going to restore citizens' rights and protect them from deplorable conditions like those portrayed in movies like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," conditions in which an insane person was unlikely to be cured. Wouldn't it be better if the mentally ill were treated at home, given support, therapy, and medication via community clinics? It sounded good, but the reality was quite different.

     In 1961, a joint commission of the American Medical and American Psychiatric Associations recommended integrating the mentally ill into society. This plan depended on the establishment of local facilities where mentally ill people could receive outpatient care. In 1963 Congress passed a law providing funding for these "community mental health centers". States, under pressure from the patients' rights movement, downsized their psychiatric hospitals faster than anyone had anticipated….

     As of 2006, 1.3 million of America's mentally ill were housed where they used to be until the late 1800s: in prisons. Between 1998 and 2006, the number of mentally ill people behind bars more than quadrupled. In some county jails, rates of inmates with mental illness have increased by nearly 50 percent in the past five years. It's not uncommon for individual jails to report that 25 to 30 percent of their inmates are mentally ill or that their mentally ill populations rises year after year….

Mac McClelland, "Schizophrenic Killer My Cousin," Reader's Digest, February 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Forensic Anthropologist

Forensic anthropologists, unlike medical examiners, cannot actually determine cause of death because they are not medical doctors. In a forensic case, it is the forensic anthropologist's job to determine…from bones race, ancestry, sex, and age. [Physical stature can also be determined.] Through their examination of human remains, if there are definitive markers that seem to contribute to a person's death, like bullet fragments embedded in bone, then [forensic anthropologists] can determine what is called the "manner of death." [Not really. How could the anthropologist know if the deceased was murdered, committed suicide, or accidentally shot himself?]

Jarrett Hallcox and Amy Welch, Bodies We've Buried, 2006 

Whackademia Quote: Academia Versus Free Speech

     Perhaps nowhere are First Amendment values more imperiled than at the modern American college campus--the very place where free speech should be the most clearly cherished and vigorously upheld. So argues Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate which was released in paperback [in March 2014]….

     "It's becoming quite easy to get in trouble for just questioning the administration, depending upon who your university president or administrators are," [Lukainoff said in a Daily Caller interview].

     Many people have the wrong impression about the state of discourse in academia, falsely believing that Supreme Court decisions settled the matter decades ago. While it is true that courts have consistently upheld college students' First Amendment rights, the rulings have not stopped enthusiastic censors at both private and public universities from criminalizing free speech.

     Sadly, society isn't paying enough attention. When Lukianoff tells people of the plight of the modern college campus, he often hears the opinion that the censorship is acceptable because it's well-intentioned--an idea that "just scares me to death," he said. According to Lukianoff, "A previous generation, if you told them you were going to get in trouble for your opinion on college campuses, the generation of the 60s and 70s, it was completely outrageous to them. You didn't have to explain why it was a big deal. Now when I go to campuses I hear a lot more from students saying, 'Well it's well-intentioned. It's not that big a deal.'"…

     College and university administrative bloat is partly to blame….The ranks of the bureaucratic class has grown exponentially at universities [and in society at large]. A report by the American Institute for Research found that on most college campuses the majority of workers are people who do not teach students. What are all these low and mid-level administrators doing instead? Many of them are censoring students….

Robby Soave, "'Unlearning Liberty' Author Interview: How College Administrators Murdered Free Speech," The Daily Caller, March 14, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: 1977 Ft. Leavenworth Escapee Caught

     James Robert Jones, who had escaped from a military prison in Kansas in 1977, has been found in Florida. He was convicted of murder 40 years ago. Authorities said that Jones was arrested in Pompano Beach when he arrived at work on Thursday, March 13, 2014. US. Marshals said that he has been using a Florida driver's license since 1981 and used the alias Bruce Walker Keith since 2005. He was living in Deerfield Beach.

     Jones reportedly told law enforcement officers that he expected his past to catch up with him eventually….He did not try to flee when arrested.

     Jones, a former Army private, was convicted of killing another Army private in 1974 at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. He was sentenced to 23 years in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas at the maximum security prison. The marshals service was brought in by the Army in January to help on the case. They used facial recognition technology to find that Jones was living in Florida….

Daniel S. Levine, "Military Prison Fugitive On The Run Since 1977 Found in Florida," Associated Press, March 14, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Man Killed in Argument Over Movie

     A Texas man who argued with two other movie goers on March 16, 2014 about the ending of a film was struck outside the theater by a truck driven by his adversaries. He was killed….The men's discussion of the film grew more heated as the three left the theater and went to the parking lot after the late Sunday evening film. Two of the men then got into a pickup truck.

     The driver of the truck put the vehicle in reverse striking the victim and knocking him to the ground. The truck they sped away. The victim died at a Houston area hospital….The film…was "300: Rise of an Empire," a Greek-era film steeped in battle scenes….

"Texas Man Killed in Cinema Parking Lot After Argument About Movie," Reuters, March 17, 2014 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Was Kendrick Johnson Murdered?

     Kendrick Johnson attended Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia. The thin, muscular 17-year-old played on the football and basketball teams. After attending his fourth period class on Thursday, January 10, 2013, Kendrick went missing. The next morning someone discovered the student's body stuffed upside-down inside a  rolled-up wrestling mat that stood on its end in the school gymnasium. He was dead.

     Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine, in charge of the death scene investigation, quickly concluded that the high school student's death had been accidental. According to Sheriff Prine, Kendrick must have gone into the mat head-first to retrieve a shoe or some other item. The sheriff theorized that Kendrick got stuck inside the mat and suffocated.

     On January 25, 2013, the head of the Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory where a forensic pathologist had performed the autopsy ten days earlier, informed members of the media that Johnson's body had "showed no signs of blunt  force trauma." Sheriff Prine assured reporters there were no other signs of a struggle on Johnson's body.

     Kendrick's parents, Kenneth and Jackie Johnson, took issue with the manner of death determination and complained that officials with the sheriff's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation were not talking to them about their son's death.

     In mid-April 2013, Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson told a reporter with the Valdosta Daily Times that Kendrick Johnson's body had been moved before he arrived at the gym. According to the coroner, the sheriff had waited six hours before informing him of the gruesome discovery. (Under Georgia law, the local coroner's office must be notified immediately in cases of sudden, violent, or unexplained death.) Regarding the delay in notification and the moving of the body, Coroner Watson said, "Well it compromises my investigation one-hundred percent. I don't know what the county [sheriff's office personnel] did when they got on the scene....The [death] scene, in my opinion, had been compromised."

     On May 4, 2013, the authorities finally provided the media with a copy of the autopsy report. According to the forensic pathologist who performed Kendrick's autopsy, the young man had died from "positional asphyxia." Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson, based upon this cause of death determination, had no choice but to rule that Kendrick Johnson had died as a result of a freak accident.

     Kenneth and Jackie Johnson, convinced that their son had been murdered, and that the authorities were involved in a cover-up, asked a judge to authorize an exhumation. In May 2013 the judge granted the request which led to a second autopsy. That postmortem examination was performed by Dr. William R. Anderson, a forensic pathologist with the private firm Forensic Dimensions, a company located in Heathrow, Florida. The Johnson's paid for Dr. Anderson's postmortem review.

     The dead boy's parents were also pressing for a federal investigation into the closed case. In support of this request, the Johnson couple alleged that crime scene evidence had either been destroyed or tampered with. The sheriff's office had also denied the parents the opportunity to view high school surveillance camera footage of their son during the hours before he went missing. The parents also claimed that postmortem photographs of Kendrick revealed lacerations on his face and body.

     On May 23, 2013, Kenneth and Jackie Johnson released copies of two reports that had been written by a pair of paramedics with the South Georgia Medical Center Mobile Healthcare Service. According to the paramedics, Kendrick's body showed obvious signs of a struggle. Moreover, they found the student's body in a pool of blood and vomit. One of the paramedics wrote that he considered the high school gym the scene of a criminal homicide. The sheriff, however, insisted that morning that Kendrick Johnson's death had been a tragic accident.

     The results of the second autopsy performed by Dr. William R. Anderson were released in early September 2013. In his report, Dr. Anderson concluded that Kendrick Johnson had died from "unexplained, apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma to his right neck and soft tissues."

     The attorney representing the Johnson family told reporters that she was sending a copy of Dr. Anderson's autopsy report to the civil rights division of the U. S. Department of Justice. The cause and manner of Kendrick Johnson's death has not been changed. Officially, he died of a freak accident.

     On October 10, 2013, Kendrick Johnson's parents revealed that when their son's body was exhumed for a second autopsy, Dr. Anderson discovered that the boy's internal organs were missing. "I feel outraged about them stuffing my son's body with newspaper," Jaquelin Johnson said. The parents have told reporters that they believe the missing organs is further evidence of foul play and a cover-up in their son's death.

     Michael Moore, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia announced on October 31, 2013 that the FBI will investigate the circumstances surrounding Kendrick Johnson's death. "We're happy," Jacquelyn Johnson said. "The only thing we ever wanted was the truth."

     In December 2013, FBI agents questioned several of Johnson's Lowndes High School classmates as well as Lowndes County coroner Bill Watson. Agents also spent time with the deceased boy's parents. The parents, in February 2014, filed a lawsuit against the funeral home that handled their son's remains. According to the plaintiffs, funeral home personnel intentionally destroyed his internal organs in an attempt to interfere with the investigation into their son's murder.

     On March 13, 2014, in Macon, Georgia, four of Johnson's classmates as well as students from nearby Valdosta High School appeared before the federal grand jury looking into the death.

     CNN reporters, on March 17, 2014, announced that they had acquired, through the Georgia Open Records Act, an anonymous email dated January 27, 2014. According to the police tipster, one of Johnson's classmates confessed to killing the young man. This person had not, however, confessed directly to the email sender. In an effort to identify the tipster, a Lowndes County assistant district attorney has ordered a communications company to hand over its internet records pertaining to this email.

   

     

Criminal Justice Quote: Bias in the Autopsy Room

Unfortunately, many medical examiners think of themselves as part of the prosecution team. It's so easy to fall into that frame of mind. The cops say, "Hey, if you can place the time of death at 3 AM, we've got this guy cold. After that he's got an alibi." And then you start hearing about all the hideous things the "bad guy" has supposedly done in his life, while viewing all the bad things that someone did to this body on the table before you. But I have to be alert to what will guide me and what might mislead me because sometimes, of course, the cops have got it wrong.

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

Criminal Justice Quote: Blood Spatter Patterns

     Drip and flow patterns are the infamous O.J. Simpson patterns that became known worldwide. A drip pattern occurs when a drop of blood drips into another liquid, usually more blood. If a person is bleeding and the drops are hitting an already formed puddle on the floor, a drip pattern will result. A flow pattern is blood that has been dropped in a trail. Though these types of patterns can be caused by other occurrence, they are traditionally represented by someone bleeding on the move, fleeing the scene of a crime.

     Splashed stains are similar to drip stains, though usually a little larger. They result from blood being projected with little force exerted on them and they usually disperse in a radial pattern. Think of splashing in terms of a mud puddle. If you jump in the puddle, the mud splashed in a radial pattern away from itself….

     Projected patterns are associated with a larger volume of blood that is acted upon with a significant amount of force. One of the classic examples of this pattern is an arterial spurt, seen in violent crimes when there is sharp force trauma or, in other words, a stabbing or slashing. If the all-too-familiar jugular vein is slashed, it will most certainly create this pattern.

     Satellite patterns are created when blood that was originally part of a bigger stain leaves that stain through some type of force. A drop of blood that is flying through the air will not separate without another force acting upon it. Think of it in terms of dropping blood at a significant height. When the drop hits a surface, it goes through four actions: contact, dispersion, displacement, and collapse. When blood contacts a surface, it flattens out. If there is enough volume and force to break the surface tension of the blood drop when it hits, it will disperse, sending blood out in all directions. If the force is great enough, it will displace. The displaced blood leaves the original parent stain, causing what is called satellite spatter. Satellite spatter is merely small stains leaving a larger stain. Finally, the blood drop will collapse back on itself with the vast majority of the blood collecting back together….

     Cast-off patterns are patterns that are created by blood being slug off an object, such as a bloody baseball bat, that is in motion or when the object suddenly stops….These patterns are traditionally found in a linear fashion, representing a swinging or chopping motion, and can help define where a person was when the pattern was created….These patterns are one of the three patterns that have caused the most debate among the bloodstain experts….

Jarrett Hallcox and Amy Welch, Bodies We've Buried, 2006  

Criminal Justice Quote: Discouraging Citizens From Filing Police Complaints

     Kansas lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it much harder for citizens to report instances of police abuse, while simultaneously putting internal affairs investigations at even greater risk of succumbing to police corruption. House Bill No. 2698 would require citizens to swear an affidavit before submitting a complaint against an officer. If any part of the complaint is later shown to be erroneous, the citizen could be prosecuted. Complaints will not be investigated until the accusers swear affidavits, according the bill's text.

     It gets worse. The bill also establishes that police officers accused of abuse will never be questioned until after they have read and reviewed all aspects of the complaint. Ironically, this is exactly the opposite of how police interrogate citizens, suspects are never given the opportunity to review the entire case against them before being questioned.

     The bill would also mandate that all investigations are final. If one police agency finds a cop to be innocent, no other agency would be allowed to review the case--even if the latter agency is a higher authority, such as the state police….[Under the U.S. Constitution, the citizen is protected against the government. This laws and others like it protects the state against the citizen. It's not supposed to work that way.]

Robby Soave, "Awful Bill Would Make It Even Harder to Report Police Abuse," The Daily Caller, March 18, 2014 

Hellementary Education Quote: "My Little Pony" Fan Bullied

     If you are a person who was alive in the 1980s or 1990s, you may remember a line of friendship-happy toy figurines called My Little Pony. You may also be surprised to learn that the toy line is still going strong today. On Thursday, March 13, 2014, officials at Candler Elementary School in Buncombe County, North Carolina allegedly told nine-year-old Grayson Bruce and his mother that the boy needed to leave his My Little Pony paraphernalia at home….

     The boy's mother, Noreen Bruce, said school officials asserted that the My Little Pony trappings are a "trigger for bullying" and had become too distracting to other students. More specifically, other kids have been picking on the boy with flurries of insults and physical assaults because the Hasbro-generated franchise is geared toward girls….

     While Grayson Bruce does admit that most of the characters on the show are female, he is a huge fan. He has My Little Pony backpack and at least two My Little Pony action figures. One appears to be Fluttershy, who represents the element of kindness. The other is Rainbow Dash, who keeps the skies blue and generally maintains the weather in Ponyville. The boy also has a My Little Pony lunchbox….

     For now, Grayson Bruce has stopped taking his My Little Pony stuff to school. This incident is far from the first time that school officials have stepped in to prevent a boy from carrying around things that are typically associated with girls. [What about girls carrying around GI Joes?]

Eric Owens, "Bullied Boy Forced to Stop Toting Around My Little Pony Merchandise at Grade School," The Daily Caller, March 15, 2014 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Criminal Justice Quotes: Thieves and Fences Are Like Bread and Butter

Basically, the thief needs the fence to survive. The thief's fund-raising abilities would be greatly diminished were the multi-connected fence not around to handle the fruits of his crime. Indeed, the very existence of the fence is considerable encouragement to the thief, who then knows where his next meal is coming from.

Thomas Plate, Crime Pays! 1975 

Hellementary Education Quote: Principal Mopped Up Floors with Kids

     ….School surveillance video…shows an elementary school principal dragging kindergarteners down school hallways on two separate occasions. The principal is Carmen Perez Dickson. At the time, she was the chief administrator at Tisdale School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. So, America, guess what happened to Dickson. Was she fired? Was she arrested? Is she rotting away in prison?

     Of course not. Don't be silly. Principal Dickson got suspended for all of six months. She is still employed. And when her suspension ends next month [March 2014], she will return to work in the Bridgeport Public Schools (though at least not as principal at Tisdale.)

     Both the kindergartener-dragging incidents occurred in the spring of 2012. The details which led to Dickson to drag the two separate kids down the hallways have not been disclosed. The mothers of the dragged children made the videos public….[At Tisdale Elementary, when they say a kid has to be dragged to class, they mean it.]

Eric Owens, "You Won't Believe the Lenient Punishment For This Kindergartener-Dragging Principal," The Daily Caller, February 22, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Execution by Lethal Injection

The first lethal injection was carried out in 1982 when Texas put Charles Brooks to death. But this method of killing inmates has not proved to be any more humane that the electric chair or gas chamber. Much like the guillotine in France, adopted in the eighteenth century as a more benign form of execution than boiling or burning at the stake, lethal injection hasn't lived up to its hype. It, too, has produced horribly botched executions.

Billy Wayne Sinclair and Jodie Sinclair, Capital Punishment, 2009 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Body Bag

     A good body bag gives up no clues. Little about what it contains should not be detected by any of the five senses of the observer. And nothing should be presumed--not even the length of what's inside. Death, after all, changes everything. And unnatural death changes everything absolutely.

     The Office of the New York City Medical Examiner orders about 8,000 body bags each year; Philadelphia's M.E., about 3,000; and Milwaukee's about 2,000. Massachusetts offices prefer shrouds, which are more like plastic envelopes folded and welded at the ends. They order 5,000.

     The same polyvinyl chloride used to make pipes can be woven into flexible fabric of varying degrees of strength. Some body bags will be dragged over long distances of rugged underbrush; others will be hoisted on the rocker legs of helicopters. Bags may need to be nothing more than short-term storage compartments, or nothing less than unconditionally leakproof vessels of somber transport. Zippers can swoop around the edges of the bag or run right down the middle. Handles, rivets and locks are optional.

     These days most body bags are white. That way you don't miss much--the red carpet fiber, the black hair, a chartreuse fleck of paint. You can see a lot, if you know how to look.

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

Criminal Justice Quote: Winston Churchill on Who's a Prostitute?

Sir Winston Churchill supposedly asked Lady Astor whether she would sleep with him for five million pounds. She said she supposed she would. Then he asked whether she would sleep with him for only five pounds. She answered,"What do you think I am?" His response was, "We've already established that; we're merely haggling over price."

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

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Home Invaders Rape Pregnant Woman

     A nightmarish scenario played out in Madison, Wisconsin on February 13, 2014 when three burglars repeatedly raped a woman who was six months pregnant in a horrifying home invasion. The Wisconsin woman and her blind husband were awoken around 5 AM by three assailants who charged into their bedroom with weapons drawn. "Someone's gonna die tonight!" one of the robbers threatened as they entered the room. One of the attackers yanked the male victim from the bed and viciously beat him….The female victim pleaded that she was pregnant and told the robbers that they could take whatever they wanted.

     But another burglar dragged her from the bed and into the hallway, pointed a gun at her stomach and grunted, "You're going to die tonight." She then had to allegedly endure all three men raping her, with one forcing her to commit oral sex during the attack.

     The suspects stole electronics, credit cards and the couple's wedding rings while they stuffed the bloodied victims in the house laundry room before fleeing the scene….In addition to the three men who broke into the home, three were arrested for their roles in assisting in the crime. The six suspects charged are African Americans--five are male, and one is a female who helped plan the crime, but did not participate in the actual home invasion.

     Shockingly enough, the assailants are thought to have targeted the wrong house….They were planning on robbing a man carrying large sums of cash in the same neighborhood, but went to a different home instead….

Scott Greer, "Horror: Pregnant Woman Gang-Raped in Vicious Wisconsin Home Invasion," The Daily Caller, March 13, 2014 

Whackademia Quote: Are College Students Starving While Their Professors Live High on the Hog?

     The promise of the public university has long been that students could receive an affordable education, subsidized by the taxpayers. But with out of control tuition costs and mounting loan debt, students everywhere are now so poor that they resort to food shelters to keep from starving to death….

     Food banks affiliated with the College and University Food Bank Alliance have appeared on over 50 campuses, according to Nate Smith-Tyge, who directs the food bank at Michigan State University….

     Stony Brook University, a public university in New York, opened up a food bank to help hungry students supplement their meals. When the food bank opened up last September, it already had 50 students waiting in line. Tuition as Stony Brook is almost $20,000 per year. [As the president of the university and the school's professors are living like kings and queens, the students are starving.]….

     Other students rely on their attendance at university events where food is provided free of charge. For many, "free pizza night" at the inaugural events of certain student clubs saves a costly trip to the grocery store….

     Meanwhile, universities have driven up tuition to fund such luxuries as expensive sports stadiums, opulent dorms for rich out-of-state students and permanent professional bureaucracies. But if it's any consolation, at least now students can pick up a free can of soup or box of macaroni at their campus's local food bank.

Robby Soave, "Your Tax Dollars at Work: Tuition So High That Students Rely on Food Shelters, Charity," The Daily Caller, March 15, 2014

      

Criminal Justice Quote: The Art of Safecracking

     The first and easiest way to gain entry into a safe is, if the safe is small enough, to remove it from the premises where it can be worked on without worry of detection….

     The safe door is the strongest point of a small safe. By turning a small safe upside down, you can often use a sledgehammer and chisel or a pick and axe and, by brute force, smash a hole into the bottom of the safe.

     If you drill a small hole in one corner of the safe door, thereby missing all of the extra anti-theft protection, you may be able to peel back the layer of steel [covering the safe insulation material] exposing any locking mechanism. This peeling is accomplished with a pry bar, chisel and hammer. [It's a matter of popping the spot welds.]

     To make certain that the safe contains valuable items, you may first want to go on a scouting expedition. This is accomplished by drilling a small hole into one of the four walls of the safe and inserting a small video camera with a light unit to illuminate the contents of the safe….

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

Criminal Justice Quote: What is Caliber?

Caliber which is used to describe weapons other than shotguns, has to do with the nominal diameter of the barrel (hence of the ammunition) expressed in hundredths of an inch….Thus, a .38 revolver has a barrel .38-inch in diameter. A .30-caliber rifle fires bullets .30-inch in diameter. Magnum used in a description of a firearm refers not to caliber but to the firepower of the propellant used; however, normally a magnum firearm is a slightly different caliber from the closest caliber of a regular firearm--thus, you have .357 magnums which can fire .38 ammunition, but don't try to fire .357 magnum ammunition in a .38 revolver; it will fit the chamber and cylinder, but the firing mechanism and the barrel aren't meant to withstand a magnum load.

Anne Wingate, Ph.D., Science of the Crime, 1992 

Criminal Justice Quote: The High-Tech Cop

     ….As recently as the mid-1980s, a police officer was equipped with the bare basics--an in-car police radio, a pen, notebook, baton and a six-shot revolver with a strip loader and a few extra bullets. Back then many old-timers eschewed bulletproof vests and even hand-held radios, which were just coming into fashion….

     Cops of today have far greater resources at their fingertips, including hardware and software that used to reside at the station house. A police cruiser now typically is equipped with at least one laptop, giving instant access to national criminal databases, as well as portable fingerprint scanners, Breathalyzer units and automatic license-plate-reader technology that can identify stolen cars while cruising down the street, even at high speeds. And while not department issued, personal smart phones and specifically, policing-related apps are expanding officers' one-stop data search capabilities.

     Cops are also toting far more firepower, typically high-caliber semi-automatic pistols and rifles with assorted magazine clips, as well as less-lethal beanbag shotguns and tasers….

Andrew Blankstein, "Meet the Mega Cops: High-Tech Crime Gear Transforms Police Work," NBC News, February 8, 2014

     

Monday, March 17, 2014

Malaysian Flight 370: The Ultimate Missing Persons Mystery

     The Malaysian Airlines Boing 777, an hour after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur after midnight on March 8, 2014, disappeared without a trace. The plane and the 239 people aboard are still missing. Searchers from 25 countries utilizing 43 ships and 58 aircraft have not turned up one piece of physical evidence in the case.

     Without a single eyewitness account, or physical evidence, no one knows if this mystery is a mass murder-suicide, tragic accident, or something worse in the realm of terrorism.

     Except for tidbits of electronic evidence regarding the plane's erratic flight path, the media has little to report on. This has led to wall-to-wall speculation. A week after the disappearance investigators are directing their attention to the flight crew, particularly the pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, 57 and his 27-year-old first mate, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

      This line of inquiry, which should have been undertaken much earlier, suggests the authorities have not ruled out the possibility of a hijacking. This has led to speculation that the plane is sitting on some remote and abandoned airfield. If this is the case, it raises the question of whether or not the passengers are alive. If the hijackers are terrorists, probably not. If they are for ransom kidnappers, who knows?

     And if the plane is on the ground somewhere, what is step two of the plan?

     Even if the plane is eventually found on the bottom of the Indian Ocean, the case will generate, for generations, conspiracy theories that in number and imagination will surpass the speculation that currently surrounds the JFK assassination. When major crime narratives are riddled with gaps, conspiracy buffs fill in the blanks. Many of the dots they connect will have been created by them.

     This case will end up, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, as one of the greatest mysteries of modern time.