JACKSON - There are new accusations about American Red Cross workers stealing money. About 30 workers at a call center are accused of taking $100,000 intended for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The latest accusations come after weeks of criticism about the American Red Cross? response to the disaster.
Local Red Cross Chapter President Don Paxton said the arrests do not involve any local volunteers. The local chapter has been trying to raise relief money just like other chapters from around the country. Though monetary donations are usually hard to generate, families and corporations, seem to be more than willing to donate supplies.
The ?Helping Americans Needing Disaster Supplies,? or HANDS, distribution center accepts food and clothing that is then shipped to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for disaster relief.
Organizers said because they deal in physical goods it is easier for donors to see how their gifts are used and lessens the opportunity for fraud and theft.
?When an item comes through the door or is unloaded off of a truck, we can send it, and a lot of times someone will call and have a donation they want to make and we tell them where it's going to go to, right then,? said Cindy Cheeks of HANDS Distribution.
Donations given to the distribution center are then sent directly to Katrina victims on the Gulf Coast.
The HANDS center started with just a few donations at a local church but has quickly grown into an independent operation.
The American Red Cross continues to provide financial assistance to Katrina victims. Nationwide the Red Cross has spent $1.3 billion but expects the disaster to cost more than $2 billion.
Investigators Await Autopsy Results For Illinois Student Found Murdered
Autopsy results could be released this week, for an Illinois State student found murdered in Mississippi. FBI agents arrested 27-year-old Maurice Wallace in Atlanta last week on felony theft charges. They said Wallace is a person of interest.
Agents plan to question him about the murder of 21-year-old Olamide Adeyooye.
Workers at a chicken farm outside of Lake Mississippi found her body earlier this month.
Police said Wallace lived a few doors down from the student's off-campus apartment.
Burned Body Is Slain Ill. Student NORMAL, Ill., Oct. 27, 2005
Olamide Adeyooye (CBS/The Early Show) Quote
"She was a great person. It always happens to great people."
Rick Paterala, friend of Olamide Adeyooye
(CBS/AP) The father of an Illinois State University student who authorities say was killed, then burned in a Mississippi chicken house, says his daughter's soul will help guide investigators to her killer.
Authorities said dental records confirmed Wednesday that the badly burned body was that of 21-year-old Olamide Adeyooye, an ISU senior last seen two weeks ago renting a movie at a video store near her off-campus apartment in Normal, Ill.
It's believed Adeyooye was murdered within days, reports (video) Jay Levine of CBS station WBBM-TV in Chicago.
"I believe Olamide's spirit will find the culprit. Whoever might have killed her, Olamide's spirit will find him out in Jesus' name," said her father, Adiodun Adeyooye.
Authorities did not release a cause of death and offered little new information on an investigation that will expand to Mississippi after a week of foot, canine and aerial searches across Illinois.
"As far as the cause of death, we believe she was already deceased when the body was dropped off in Newton County (in central Mississippi)," Newton County Sheriff Jackie Knight said. "We have investigators from Illinois here with us but we believe the actual death took place in Illinois."
And Illinois, says Levine, is where authorities are focusing their search for suspects.
Knight said he was not aware of any signs of sexual abuse.
Normal Police Lt. Mark Kotte said authorities still were investigating how Adeyooye, who was last seen Oct. 13 in the central Illinois city where she went to school, ended up hundreds of miles away in Mississippi. Her car, a green 1996 Toyota Corolla, still was missing Wednesday.
"Bloomington-Normal is a very safe community and this is an incident that is extremely rare," Kotte said. "It is not an incident of somebody going around preying on college students."
Kotte said police are interviewing several "persons of interest" in the case, and that some people already questioned by investigators will be questioned again. Police say none is a suspect currently.
"We still have a list of persons of interest and that hasn't really changed. We still have quite a few people that we need to talk to, and also people now that we will be re-interviewing," Kotte said.
Adeyooye's father said he wants to see justice for the death of his daughter, who he said was diligent, quiet and never offended anyone.
"It's a sad moment to hear of the death of my daughter ... to find the body (had) been burnt, it is sad. I want the justice to take place," her father said, fighting back tears.
The body of Adeyooye, a native of Nigeria who moved to suburban Chicago when she was 8, was found Friday in central Mississippi by the owner of the chicken house who was cleaning up after a suspicious blaze there four days earlier.
Illinois investigators had suspected the body could be that of Adeyooye because physical descriptions matched and the fire occurred just four days after she disappeared. They also said the burned building is about 60 miles from Interstate 55, which also passes through Normal.
Adeyooye was reported missing when she didn't show up for classes and her weekend job as a waitress. Police launched a criminal investigation last week after evidence and interviews led them to suspect foul play.
Adeyooye, who studied laboratory sciences and biology at ISU, was due to graduate from the 20,000-student college in December and planned to return to Chicago to complete her clinical training at a hospital. She grew up in the Chicago suburb of Berkeley.
"As we mourn her passing and try to make sense of what is sometimes unexplainable, I ask everyone in the university community to keep Olamide's family and friends in their thoughts and prayers," ISU president Al Bowman said. "This terrible tragedy will bring with it many emotions: grief, anger, perhaps a sense of helplessness."
Nearly 40 investigators, including the FBI and Illinois State Police, assisted in the search for Adeyooye. Her family and friends also searched, posting fliers and sending out messages through Web sites and blogs.
After learning of her death, friend Rick Paterala, 23, of Schaumburg, said: "You always hear about stuff like that on the news but it never hits close to home. ... She was a great person. It always happens to great people."
AGENCY: OFFICER IN CHARGE: LOCATION: TELEPHONE: CONTACT:
Normal Police Department Chief Kent D. Crutcher Normal Police Department (309) 454-9535 Lieutenant David Warner
The Normal Police Department is investigating the disappearance of a 21 year old female resident, Olamide Adeyooye. She was reported missing Saturday, October 15th, by her family. Adeyooye lives in an apartment in the 900 Block of Market Street in Normal and attends Illinois State University.
At this time foul play is not suspected. The Normal Police Department is seeking out individuals who have had any contact with Adeyooye after Thursday, October 13th or know the location of Adeyooye’s car, a Green 1996 Toyota Corolla 4-door Illinois License LBG927.
Olamide Adeyooye Female 21 Years Old Dark Complected 5' 02", 110 Lbs Black Eyes / Brown Hair
Persons with information should call Detective Sergeant Scott Johnson at 309-454-9535.
According to theChicago Sun Times, The remains of a woman believed to be in her early 20s were found in recent days in a rural Mississippi chicken house. Authorities believe that they may be of the missing ILL State student, Olamide Adeyooye. Although it has not been confirmed there seem to be striking physical similarities.
The remains of a woman believed to be in her early 20s were found in recent days in a rural Mississippi chicken house, and authorities said Monday they may be a missing Illinois State University student.
Police in Downstate Normal — where 21-year-old Olamide Adeyooye disappeared two weeks ago from an off-campus apartment — were notified Sunday or Monday about the possible link. Illinois authorities are sending dental and medical records to the coroner in Newton County, Miss., about 70 miles east of Jackson and Interstate 55. Police would not say whether the woman found is Adeyooye, but family and friends have been told the physical similarities are striking. It could be several days until the coroner can make a final identification, authorities in Mississippi said.
Normal police provided medical records of missing ISU student Olamide Adeyooye to Mississippi authorities Monday after receiving word that an unidentified female body had been recovered.
The Normal Police received a call yesterday afternoon from Mississippi State Highway Patrol that an unidentified body had been discovered, NPD Lieutenant Mark Kotte said.
Update from WFIE 14, most likely the body recovered by police in Mississippi will not be identified until Wednesday.
Authorities say they likely won’t know until at least Wednesday whether a body found in Mississippi is that of a missing Illinois State University student. Police in Normal said they’re still collecting medical and dental records Tuesday that will be used to determine whether the unidentified body is that of 21-year-old ISU senior Olamide Adeyooye. Police say they hope to send the records to Mississippi later in the day.
Update: From NBC5; Police Hope To Identify Body As Search For Student Continues
“Whether or not this pans out to be the body of Olamide … is to be seen,” he said.
Adeyooye’s family is hopeful that the body is not hers.
“It just hit me, you know, my sister could be dead,” said Adewale Adeyooye, the missing woman’s brother. “And this whole time, even though this whole thing was going on, it was hard to believe.”
Mississippi authorities notified Normal investigators about the body Monday in response to a nationwide alert seeking Adeyooye and her car, Kotte said. The car, a green 1996 Toyota Corolla, still was missing.
The alert notifies investigators any time an unidentified body is found that could match Adeyooye’s description, Kotte said. It is the first report Normal police received since their investigation began, he said.
Authorities on Wednesday positively identified the remains of Olamide Adeyooye, using dental records. No cause of death was released.
The Illinois State University senior's body was found Friday near Lake, Miss., in a burned chicken house that was being used to store hay.
Investigators here in Mississippi were able to match the missing woman's dental records with remains found at the scene of that fire, which occurred Oct. 17. The structure was located just off Interstate 20 in a small community on the Newton-Scott County line.
It wasn't until Oct. 21 that the body was discovered underneath the rubble, while the family who owned the land was cleaning up.
Meanwhile, Normal, Ill., police say they have several people to interview and re-interview in their investigation into the death of Adeyooye. Lt. Mark Kotte says authorities are still investigating how Adeyooye ended up in Mississippi.
A native of Nigeria who moved to suburban Chicago when she was eight, Adeyooye was last seen Oct. 13 at a video store near her off-campus apartment in Normal.
When Adeyooye went missing, it came as a shock and surprise to everyone who new her and she had many friends on the Illinois State University campus.
"She would brighten a room when she would come in. She'd make you smile and she'd make you laugh," said her friend, Colleen.
Those friends and fellow students had worked many hours over the last two weeks to try to help locate her. They put signs all over the campus and the city of Normal. They helped out police as they searched and they set up a phone bank, hoping for tips that would lead to her being found.
The disappearance has hit her long time boyfriend especially hard. Andy Wildreck and Olly, as they called her, had been together since high school.
"We used to write letters in high school to each other; we were attached at the hip," said Wildreck.
Investigators continue probing the mysterious case of Olamide Adeyooye, the student who had been missing from Illinois State University and was later found dead in a burned building in Newton County.
Investigators say at this point they're no closer than they were to figuring out how or why the young woman was there.
Detectives in Newton County are continuing to pour over evidence in the case in hopes of finding some clue that might help them solve this case.
It's a difficult process that so far isn't leading them very far.
Police in Normal, Illinois, Adeyooye's home, say they're still looking at several people of interest in the case, but continue to say no one has been charged. They say they'll be asking Mississippi authorities do air searches of the area around the fire scene.
Here's a timeline of events:
Adeyooye was reported missing by friends and family on Oct. 15. She was last seen renting movies at a store in Normal.
The following Monday, Oct. 17, a barn in Lake, Miss., burned to the ground.
But it wasn't until Friday, Oct. 21, that a body was found underneath the ashes, as the property owner cleaned up after the fire.
On Oct. 26, dental records from Adeyooye were matched with the remains found in lake by an anthropologist in Hattiesburg.
Adeyooye's vehicle is still missing:
Vehicle description: Green 1996 Toyota Corolla Illinois license LBG927 The front passenger seat is broken and is in the recline position ISU sticker is on the center of the rear window Rosary beads are hanging from the rearview mirror
The Normal, Illinois Police Department posted a news release to its Internet site:
"We would like to express our deepest sympathy to the family of Olamide Adeyooye during this very difficult time. Yesterday, Chief Kent Crutcher informed the family of the identification results and met individually with family members. Chief Crutcher has met daily with the family since the investigation began to answer their questions and offer support.
The Normal Police Department continues to work in cooperation with federal, state and local law enforcement in Mississippi. Our detectives have met with and briefed area law enforcement officials on the status of our investigation.
We continue to investigate individuals that may have been involved or have information regarding this case. To say we have a suspect implies we have narrowed our focus in this investigation. We have and will continue to search for any and all information which will bring the responsible parties to justice. We understand our community’s interest in the progress of this investigation. We would like to remind everyone we can only release information that will not impair this investigation or damage future criminal proceedings.
This tragedy has cast an understandable shadow of uncertainty. We would like to assure the community the Normal Police Department is doing everything in our authority to preserve the character of our town and the safety of our citizens.
We would like to emphasize, we continue to actively search for Olamide Adeyooye’s vehicle at the local, state and national level."
Chief Kent D. Crutcher Normal Police Department Lieutenant Mark Kotte (309) 454-9726
Wednesday, October 26, 2005 10:33 PM CDT staff, wire reports
DECATUR - Dental records confirmed that a body found in a burned chicken house last week is an Illinois college student who disappeared two weeks ago, authorities said.
Newton County Sheriff Jackie Knight, at a press conference Wednesday evening, said investigators believe Olamide Adeyooye, 21, an Illinois State University senior from suburban Chicago, was killed in Illinois and transported to Mississippi for disposal.
The destruction of the barn, located near Lake, was an attempt to cover up Adeyooye's death, authorities believe, although the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Knight said Adeyooye had “no ties to Mississippi.”
Police hope a necklace found at the scene will offer clues in a case that has puzzled investigators.
Knight urged residents to watch for Adeyooye's car, which has been missing since her disappearance. The car is a green 1996 Toyota Corolla with Illinois license plate LBG 927.
Adeyooye's body was found Friday by the barn's owner, Guy Hollingsworth, as he was clearing debris from the Monday, Oct. 17, fire.
Adeyooye was reported missing when she didn't show up for classes and her weekend job as a waitress. Police launched a criminal investigation into her disappearance last week after evidence and interviews led them to suspect foul play.
Adeyooye's father, Adiodun Adeyooye, said he wants to see justice in the case.
‘‘I believe Olamide's spirit will find the culprit. Whoever might have killed her, Olamide's spirit will find him out in Jesus' name,'' he said.
Normal, Ill., Police Lt. Mark Kotte said some people already questioned by investigators will be questioned again, although none is considered a suspect.
‘‘We still have a list of persons of interest, and that hasn't really changed. We still have quite a few people that we need to talk to, and also people know that we will be re-interviewing,'' Kotte said.
Knight said his office will continue to work with the Normal Police Department, Illinois State Police and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation in trying to solve the case.
Knight said he was not aware of any signs that the victim had been sexually abused.
Kotte said authorities were still investigating how Adeyooye, who was last seen Oct. 13 at a video store in the central Illinois city where she went to school, ended up in Mississippi.
‘‘Bloomington-Normal is a very safe community, and this is an incident that is extremely rare,'' Kotte said. ‘‘It is not an incident of somebody going around preying on college students.''
Adeyooye, who studied laboratory sciences and biology at ISU, was due to graduate from the 20,000-student college in December. She planned to return to Chicago to complete her clinical training at a hospital. She grew up in the Chicago suburb of Berkeley.
‘‘As we mourn her passing and try to make sense of what is sometimes unexplainable, I ask everyone in the university community to keep Olamide's family and friends in their thoughts and prayers,'' ISU President Al Bowman said. ‘‘This terrible tragedy will bring with it many emotions: grief, anger, perhaps a sense of helplessness.''
Nearly 40 investigators, including the FBI and Illinois State Police, assisted in the search for her. Her family and friends also searched, posting fliers and sending out messages through Web sites and blogs.
After learning of her death, friend Rick Pateraoa, 23, of Schaumburg, said: ‘‘You always hear about stuff like that on the news but it never hits close to home. ... It always happens to great people.''
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Newton County Sheriff Jackie Knight urged residents to watch for Olamide Adeyooye's car, which has been missing since her disappearance on Oct. 13. The car is a green 1996 Toyota Corolla with Illinois license plate LBG 927.
[ send green star]
Death at construction site ruled suicide By Stewart Smith / staff writer Monday, October 24, 2005 11:33 PM CDT GRUESOME DISCOVERY - White Construction Project Superintendent Ray Satcher, facing camera at left, and employee Vaughn Purvis, facing right, are interviewed Monday by Meridian Police Department Detective Joe Boswell, left, and reserve officer Carlton Miller after a body was found inside the old Trailways Bus Station at 2301 Sixth St. The building is located across 23rd Avenue from the Doughboy Monument. The body was that of a foreman for EverGreene Painting Studio Inc., a subcontractor working on renovation of the adjacent Grand Opera House. Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler ruled the death a suicide. White Construction is using the building for storage during the Opera House renovation. PHOTO BY KYLE CARTER / THE MERIDIAN STAR
A man whose body was found by a co-worker Monday at a downtown construction site died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Lauderdale County's coroner said.
Construction workers discovered the body, believed to be a Georgia man, at about 12:30 p.m. in the old Trailways Bus Station on Sixth Street. The building is being used for storage by the contractor overseeing renovation of the adjacent Grand Opera House.
Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler said the unidentified man, estimated to be in his mid-30s to early 40s, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
“A weapon was found at the scene right near him. This was definitely self-inflicted,” Cobler said.
However, Lt. Dean Harper, spokesman for the Meridian Police Department, said investigators had not ruled out other possibilities.
“We are investigating it straight out, and we are open to anything. We treat every gunshot victim for any possibility. We are not saying for sure what it is,” Harper said.
Ray Satcher, project supervisor with White Construction Co., lead contractor on the Grand Opera House renovation, said the deceased man was a foreman for EverGreene Painting Studio Inc. The New York-based company was hired to restore decorative moldings and to re-create wallpapers at the Opera House, which is being returned to its 1890s decor.
The renovated Grand Opera House will be the centerpiece of Mississippi State University's Riley Education and Performing Arts Center.
Satcher said the body was discovered by another EverGreene employee, whom neither Satcher nor police would identify.
Jeff Greene, president of EverGreene Painting Studios, declined to comment when contacted by telephone Monday.
Convicted Murderers Caught In AlabamaInmates Discovered Missing Early Monday
POSTED: 8:02 am CDT October 18, 2005
UPDATED: 2:28 pm CDT October 18, 2005
MERIDIAN, Miss. -- Two inmates who escaped from the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian Monday morning have been captured in Alabama, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Both men were serving life sentences for capital murder. Gregory Malone, 26, and Christopher Roy, 24, were discovered missing about 1 a.m. Monday during a routine head count. WAPT-TV reported that Malone and Roy used a saw blade to cut a steel bar and crawl to freedom. "We spotted them (Monday) morning around 2:30 at a local convenience store. We're still trying to determine if they have a means of transportation or if they are hitchhiking or had somebody on the outside provide them with a vehicle," said Lauderdale County Sheriff Billie Sollie. The privately run prison is the midst of a change in wardens. Sollie said the state contracted a private company to operate the facility, which specializes in prisoners who required daily medication. Malone, formerly of Jackson, was convicted in 2001 of murdering Dannie Ward. According to trial testimony at the time, Malone and another man attempted to rob Ward at his home in July 1998. Ward resisted and was shot during the robbery attempt. He died two weeks later. Roy was convicted in 2001. Prosecutors had said Roy and another man killed Dong Phong "Tommy" Nguyen in 1999 in what they called a drug-related crime. Nguyen's body was found in a shallow grave in the Vancleave area on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Darryl Anderson, interim warden of East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian, says the two will be returned to Mississippi. Anderson wouldn't provide details about what led to the capture.
Mom Who Set Son On Fire With His Puppy May Get Death
POSTED: 5:57 am CDT October 18, 2005
UPDATED: 7:33 am CDT October 18, 2005
ELYRIA, Ohio -- A woman who was severely burned as a child has been found guilty of killing her 4-year-old son and setting his body on fire. An Ohio jury convicted Nicole Diar Monday on 10 counts, including two of aggravated murder aggravated arson and tampering with evidence. The 28-year-old woman could receive the death penalty. Her son Jacob's body was so badly burned that the coroner was unable to determine a cause of death. Prosecutors believe Jacob was suffocated or drowned before Diar burned his body and his new puppy. Prosecutors allege Diar drugged Jacob with codeine, then strangled him as he slept in his bedroom, before setting the house on fire. "Jacob went to bed one evening in his mother's home, in his mother's care and never woke up again," said Gary Bennett, the Lorain County prosecutor. The October coroner's report ruled the death a homicide and stated that the cause of death was "violence of an unknown origin." The defense said the woman wasn't capable of setting the blaze because Diar herself sustained disfiguring injuries in a fire when she was also 4 years old. The woman was burned as a child when her brother ignited her nightgown with a lighter. She underwent years of surgery so that she could move her arms and neck. Diar had said that God was responsible for the death of her son Jacob's August 2003 death. She said, "He burned me, and now He burned him." Some of the most damaging testimony came from baby sitters who watched Jacob, according to WEWS in Cleveland. Sitters told the court Jacob was actually afraid to sleep in his second-floor room. Police also said that on the night of the crime, Diar was out for a night on the town, drinking and singing into a karaoke machine. But the defense painted a different picture of a loving mother who always cared for the well-being of her son. Some neighbors alleged the boy was at times neglected.
Mother, Stepfather Charged With Murder Of 12-Year-Old GirlAutopsy Showed Girl Was Strangled
POSTED: 8:29 am CDT October 14, 2005
UPDATED: 10:11 pm CDT October 14, 2005
JACKSON, Miss. -- The mother and stepfather of a 12-year-old Carriere girl were charged Friday with capital murder after an autopsy revealed the child had been strangled, authorities said. Pearl River County sheriff's deputies were called to the Crosby Memorial Hospital in Poplarville late Wednesday night when doctors caring for Ashley Andrews found signs of long-term child abuse. Aaron Russell, the department's chief deputy, said Andrews had already been pronounced dead when deputies arrived at the hospital. He said the girl's mother, Christina Andrews, 34, and stepfather, Shaun Dillard, 26, were detained at the hospital when deputies found scratches and bruises on the child that were consistent with abuse. After an initial court appearance Friday, Dillard was charged with capital murder, sexual battery and statutory rape. Christina Andrews was charged with capital murder. Circuit Judge James Hal Breland denied bond for both Dillard and Christina Andrews and a preliminary court hearing is set for Oct. 25. Russell said an autopsy performed Thursday revealed that the seventh-grade Pearl River Central Middle School student died of "manual strangulation." Another child, whom Russell described as an infant, was taken into the care of the Department of Human Services.
State Employees Accused Of Altering Licenses To Get Red Cross Aid
JACKSON, Miss. - Mississippi Highway Patrol is investigating alleged fraud by at least two of its employees. Two civilian employees who work out of the Natchez Drivers Service Bureau face criminal charges for allegedly changing addresses on drivers licenses.
The pair are accused of changing the addresses to locations on the coast to apply for Red Cross assistance.
A highway patrol trooper also is under investigation.
All three are on administrative leave without pay.
East Mississippi Correctional Facility Escapees Captured
Jackson – Shortly after midnight Tuesday morning, authorities acting on information provided by Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) investigators and the United States Marshall’s Service Central Mississippi Fugitive Task Force, took into custody two inmates who had escaped from the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian, Mississippi. State inmates Christopher Roy, MDOC #K8649 and Gregory Malone, MDOC #T5510 had been at large for nearly 24 hours.
The United States Marshall’s Service Fugitive Task Force from Birmingham, Alabama arrested the two escapees at an Econo Lodge hotel in Tuscaloosa, Alabama without incident. MDOC officials along with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, Meridian Police Department and the U. S. Marshall’s Service Central Mississippi Fugitive Task Force had been actively seeking the whereabouts of the escapees since early Monday. “I cannot adequately express my appreciation to the many law enforcement officers in Mississippi and Alabama who worked tirelessly and jointly in this effort to apprehend these two escapees,” corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps said.
Roy and Malone were discovered missing around 1:00 a.m. Monday during a routine count at The GEO Group, Inc. operated private prison in Meridian. "Details of the preliminary investigation reveal that inmate body counts were not taken accurately,” Epps said. "We are investigating the situation and disciplinary action will result."
Roy is serving a life sentence for a conviction of homicide in Jackson County. Malone is serving a life sentence for a conviction of capital murder in Hinds County. Both offenders now face additional charges for escape, carrying a possible penalty of five years. Pending extradition hearings, the two will be transferred to the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Two Inmates Escape from East Mississippi Correctional Facility
Meridian – State inmates Christopher Roy, MDOC #K8649 and Gregory Malone, MDOC #T5510, were discovered missing around 1:00 a.m. this morning during a routine count at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian, Mississippi.
Authorities are searching for Roy, a 24-year old white male with brown eyes, brown hair, is 6’ in height and weighs 180 pounds. Roy is serving a life sentence for a conviction of homicide in Jackson County. Malone, a 26-year old black male with brown eyes, black hair, is 5’7” in height and weighs 150 pounds, and has multiple tattoos on both arms, back and chest. Malone is serving a life sentence for a conviction of Capital Murder in Hinds County.
Both escapees are considered dangerous. Anyone with any information or sightings of Roy or Malone should contact local law enforcement or the East Mississippi Correctional Facility at (601) 485-5255 or MDOC investigators at 601.359.5604 or 601.573.5720.
JACKSON, Miss. - One of the Jackson area's most-wanted suspects, Jonathan Banks, was found dead in a motel Thursday night, according to police. Police said a citizen's tip led them to the Regency Inn motel on Highway 80, where they found Banks' gold Chevy Impala parked nearby.
Police surrounded the hotel where they believed Banks, 38, was hiding inside.
Police said Banks kidnapped and raped his ex-wife earlier this week.
"He had made claims himself that he would not be taken alive. He was considered to be armed and dangerous," said Cmdr. Lee Vance, of the Jackson Police Department. "We tried to make contact with him, by knocking on the door, by calling or attempting to call him by phone."
Police forced their way in and found Banks dead, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot.
Investigators said they weren't sure how long he had been dead.
Motel managers told police Banks checked in Tuesday using his own name.
Update on one 7yr old victim August 24, 2005 10:51 AM
Please help get the word out about this little girls poisoning death...her local community has done all they can to keep this as hush hush as possible due to their failure to protect her with so many aware of SERIOUS concerns of abuse. Someone please listen, this has happened to too many innocent children and will continue if allowed.
Onslow County DSS Sued for August 2003
Lawsuit Issue: Whether DSS Negligent in Kayla Allen - Carolyn Futrell Matter
Tuesday, August 23, 10:00 am ET
WILMINGTON, N.C. – Aug. 23, 2005 – Yesterday a lawsuit was filed which puts at
issue whether the Onslow County Department of Social Services ("DSS") was negligent
regarding its involvement with events leading up to the August 2003 alleged forcible
poisoning of Kayla Allen by her legal guardian Carolyn Futrell, who now awaits trial for
this child’s murder.
The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court in Jacksonville, Onslow County, NC on
behalf of Heather Baker, who is the court-appointed Personal Representative of the
Estate of Kayla Yvonne Allen, by Wilmington, NC attorney Tom Lamb. The defendants
in the lawsuit are the Onslow County DSS, its Director, Roger E. Penrod, the Child
Protective Services Manager, Loretta Keelin, and three Social Workers who were
involved with several reports of abuse regarding Kayla Allen. The lawsuit alleges the
failure of the DSS to protect Kayla Allen from abuse by Carolyn Futrell during the threeyear
period leading up to the child’s fatal poisoning on August 24, 2003. Despite
mounting evidence of abuse, the Onslow County DSS permitted Carolyn Futrell to keep
custody of Kayla right up to the time of the child’s alleged murder by this woman.
Notably, the lawsuit alleges that the Onslow County DSS failed to take appropriate
protective measures for Kayla during the period of time when the DSS was doing its
investigative assessment of the allegations of abuse by Carolyn Futrell that were made
by Kayla and others in the summer of 2002. Instead of protecting Kayla from the
woman whom she said had physically abused her, the Onslow County DSS returned
Kayla to Carolyn Futrell and permitted Carolyn to keep custody and control of Kayla
during the four-and-a-half months when the department was investigating the
allegations of the child’s abuse by Carolyn that were made to law enforcement officials
by Kayla, herself, in June 2002 as well as related abuse reports that were made to the
DSS by her aunt and two other people later in the summer of 2002. Upon completing
their investigation in October 2002, the DSS ultimately determined that these reports of
abuse made by Kayla, her aunt, and the two others were "unsubstantiated", and closed
Kayla was allegedly forcibly poisoned by her legal guardian Carolyn Futrell on August
24, 2003 in their Richlands, NC home – fourteen months after the child, at age six, had
made her allegations of abuse by Carolyn to law enforcement in June 2002. According
to a press release from Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown issued on May 20, 2004,
Girl's Death Prompts Call For Tougher Car Seat Law
POSTED: 3:52 pm CDT August 5, 2005
UPDATED: 4:30 pm CDT August 5, 2005
JACKSON, Miss. -- The Hinds County district attorney will decide whether a mother will face charges in the death of her 6-year-old daughter.
Jakina Mack was killed Wednesday in a car crash on Watkins Drive. Police said she was not wearing a seat belt.
An emergency worker and a state senator want tougher laws for drivers who don't secure young passengers.
Under current state law, children are not required to sit in a booster seat.
Lisa Valadie is a mother of four and a paramedic. Valadie said she's fed up with responding to calls where children have been injured because they weren't buckled in correctly.
"This is another law that will save our kids' lives," she said. "We have a car seat law. Let's make it a little bit stronger and go with the booster seat law, and definitely, we'll save our kids' lives in that age group."
A recent study showed that 96 percent of people in the state do not know how to properly install a car seat or a booster seat.
Emergency workers say a child should ride in the back seat in a booster seat until the age of 12. After the age of 12, a child should sit back with his feet on the ground with a seat belt that fits securely across his chest and waist.
On Aug. 13, AMR will have a free car seat check -- complete with installation instructions -- at the Clinton Fire Department on Clinton Raymond Road from 8 a.m. until noon.
JACKSON, Miss. -- A Jackson mother may face charges in connection with the death of her 6-year-old. The mother, Catherine Mack, rear-ended another car at the corner of Watkins and Village Drive. Her daughter, Jikina, wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was killed after being thrown from the car. Jackson police will hand over evidence to the Hinds County district attorney, who will then decide if the case should go before a grand jury.
Police: Man's Testicles Locked In Padlock Man Could Not Remove Lock For Two Weeks
POSTED: 3:02 pm CDT August 5, 2005
UPDATED: 3:15 pm CDT August 5, 2005
BRENTWOOD, N.H. -- Emergency workers helped a New Hampshire man out of a difficult situation over the weekend after a friend apparently locked a padlock around his testicles.
According to the Portsmouth Herald, police reported that the 39-year-old man was intoxicated when they arrived at the scene on July 30 at about 3:40 a.m. The man, who was not identified, told them that he had the padlock around his testicles for two weeks.
The man said that a friend put the lock on while he was drunk and passed out. When he woke up, the friend was gone.
"Never in my 13 years have I seen anything like this," Cpl. H.D. Wood told the Herald.
The man told police that he tried to remove the lock with a hacksaw because the key had broken off in the lock.
He was taken to Exeter Hospital, where a locksmith removed the padlock. He was treated and released, and the hospital said he had no lasting injury.
Police said that they did not know the motive for the incident.
Reduced Bond For Accused Sex Offender Outrages Family
JACKSON, Miss. - The family of a 12-year-old boy wants the man accused of sexually abusing the child back behind bars. The family says the boy was kidnapped and abused by Christopher Russell, 23, last fall.
In May, Russell turned himself in to Nashville, Tenn., police and was returned to Jackson to face charges in the case.
Russell was charged with kidnapping, sexual battery and gratification of lust.
Judge Oran Page originally set Russell's bond at $150,000, but during a preliminary hearing on June 29, Page reduced the bond to $15,000.
Russell posted bond and was released from jail.
Page said at the time he reduced the bond, neither the detective nor prosecutors in the case objected.
In a statement, Page said prosecutors failed to tell him that Russell had fled the area and had been extradited back to Mississippi.
The boy's family said they are outraged by the judge's decision.
"I just can't live the way I'm living -- with this guy out here walking the street. Not just mine, but what about the other children?" said the boy's father.
The family has asked Jackson Mayor Frank Melton to help them put Russell back behind bars.
Melton said he's asking the city attorney to look into raising the bond amount and possibly having Russell re-arrested.
Melton said Russell should be considered a flight risk.
Feds seek removal of citizenship as attorney denies charges
Tuesday, August 2, 2005; Posted: 11:34 a.m. EDT (15:34 GMT)
Osyp Firishchak was never a member of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police, according to his lawyer.
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- An aging Chicago carpenter should be stripped of his U.S. citizenship because he was a member of a police unit that helped the Nazis round up Ukrainian Jews for forced labor and death camps during World War II, federal attorneys argue.
"He acquiesced in conduct contrary to civilization and decency," government attorney Gregory Gordon told U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan as a civil trial against Osyp Firishchak began Monday.
Firishchak, 86, came to the United States after World War II, settled in Chicago and obtained American citizenship. But the Justice Department's Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations says he lied on his visa application and broke other rules.
The government says he joined the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police and helped in widespread roundups of Jews who were sent to forced labor camps and death camps after the Germans occupied Ukraine in 1941.
If Der-Yeghiayan rules against him, Firishchak would be stripped of his citizenship. The government then likely would seek to deport him.
Defense attorney James Maher III told the judge that Firishchak was never a member of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police and that there is no proof he did any of the things the government claims. Maher also said there is nothing to suggest Firishchak was dishonest on his visa application.
The government's first witness, Holocaust researcher Dieter Pohl, described what happened to the Jewish population in the city of Lviv at the hands of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police.
"There was constant violence against the Jews," Pohl said.
Firishchak's name of surfaced after the fall of the Soviet Union when the newly independent Ukraine opened its archives to Holocaust researchers.
Government attorneys acknowledged they have only a smattering of direct evidence that specific acts allegedly were committed by Firishchak. But they say they can prove he was part of the auxiliary police throughout the war and that the unit was instrumental in carrying out the Holocaust in Ukraine.
Cleric sentenced in terror conspiracyYemeni gets 75 years for attempt to fund al Qaeda, Hamas
Tuesday, August 2, 2005; Posted: 2:16 p.m. EDT (18:16 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A federal judge Thursday sentenced a Yemeni Muslim cleric who once called himself Osama bin Laden's spiritual adviser to the maximum 75 years for conspiring to support al Qaeda and Hamas.
Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, 57, was convicted in March of attempting to funnel millions of dollars to Palestinian-backed Hamas and to al Qaeda, the radical Islamic group behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Hamas is an Islamic fundamentalist group that the U.S. State Department labels a terrorist organization.
U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson also fined al-Moayad $1.2 million for his role in attempting to fund terrorist organizations, said Bob Nardoza, a spokesman in the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York.
"This defendant is truly beloved in Yemen by millions of people for a lifetime of charitable work on behalf of poor people," said Al-Moayad's lawyer during the trial, Bill Goodman.
"This sentence will be seen in Yemen and throughout the Arab world as evidence of American hatred of Muslims and not as evidence of American justice."
U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf, based in Brooklyn, called al-Moayad a "master terrorist financier" and said he "richly deserves the maximum sentence imposed."
"Those who finance terrorist attacks, and rejoice in the murder of innocent victims, are no different from those who plant the bombs or carry the backpacks," Mauskopf said news release. "Money is the lifeblood of terrorism."
After a five-week trial in Brooklyn and five days of deliberations, a jury found al-Moayad guilty of conspiring to provide material support and resources to the foreign terrorist organizations.
A Yemeni assistant, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, 31, also was convicted of terrorism conspiracy. Zayed is scheduled to be sentenced September 1.
Zayed and al-Moayad were arrested two years ago in a sting operation that culminated in Germany and were extradited to the United States.
They were on trial in Brooklyn because they had been charged with raising money at a mosque there.
The government's case relied largely on secretly videotaped conversations between the defendants and a pair of undercover FBI informants at a Frankfurt, Germany, hotel in 2003.
One of the informants, Mohamed Alanssi, testified al-Moayad boasted about giving money, weapons and recruits to al Qaeda leader bin Laden.
Alanssi said al-Moayad told him he personally delivered $20 million to bin Laden before 9/11 and $3.5 million to Hamas.
Surveillance tapes played in court showed al-Moayad and the informants discussing funneling $2.5 million into the fight against America's "Zionist government."
Al-Moayad denied he gave any money to bin Laden and said their relationship was one that dated to the years when bin Laden was battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan, a cause they shared with the United States.
Al-Moayad contended the money was raised for charities in Yemen, where he is an influential religious and political leader.
Friday, July 29, 2005; Posted: 10:57 a.m. EDT (14:57 GMT)
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A one-time drifter was executed for the rape and murder of a woman who was attacked on a jogging trail eight years ago.
David Martinez, 29, was put to death Thursday for the slaying of Kiersa Paul, an art student from Minnesota who had gone to meet him at an Austin park. She apparently had met Martinez through mutual friends.
"Only the sky and green grass goes on forever, and today is a good day to die," Martinez said in a brief statement.
As the lethal injection began taking effect, Martinez sputtered and gasped several times before losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead eight minutes after the drugs began flowing into his arms.
Paul's parents, holding hands with another of their daughters, watched through a window a few feet away from Martinez. He made brief eye contact but said nothing to them.
As other witnesses, including his mother, entered a chamber viewing area, Martinez nodded and smiled.
On the night she was killed, the 24-year-old Paul told her sister she was heading to a popular Austin park to meet someone she knew only as "Wolf," which was Martinez's nickname.
The next morning, her body was found by a jogger. She had been raped and strangled. Her throat had been cut at least eight times, and she had an "X" carved into her chest.
Defiant serial bomber gets expected life term July 18, 2005 12:50 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Eric Rudolph was sentenced to life in prison Monday for his role in a deadly women's clinic bombing after he angrily denounced abortion and one of his victims called him a "monster."
His diatribe — and the emotional statements of his victims — came as he was sentenced under the plea deal that spared his life. He received two life terms without parole for the 1998 bombing that killed an off-duty police officer. Next month, he is to receive two more life terms for the 1996 Olympic bombing and other attacks in Atlanta.
"The full responsibility for this would have been the death sentence," Emily Lyons, the nurse maimed by his bomb, said Monday in court.
And Felicia Sanderson, whose husband died in the explosion, said, "I want to tell you there is no punishment in my opinion great enough for Eric Rudolph. When Eric Rudolph leaves this earth and has to face final judgment, I'm going to leave the final judgment in God's hand."
Seated at the defense table, Rudolph nodded in agreement. Then, when it was his turn to speak, Rudolph angrily lashed out at abortion and the women's clinic that performs them.
Rudolph: ‘Deadly force’ needed "What they did was participate in the murder of 50 children a week," he said. "Abortion is murder, and because it is murder I believe deadly force is needed to stop it."
"Children are disposed of at will," he said in a long speech against abortion. "The state is no longer the protector of the innocents."
But Lyons, when she spoke earlier, said Rudolph was nothing but a coward.
"When it was your turn to face death you weren't so brave again," Lyons told the federal courtroom. "You want to see a monster, all you have to do is look in the mirror," she said.
She read her statement in a strong voice and occasionally looked across the aisle at Rudolph.
"It really doesn't matter what you say because I will go back to my home and you will go back to jail. The clinics in town will still be open and abortion will still be legal," Lyons said.
Prosecutor Michael Whisonant said in court that Rudolph was an "evil man" who shopped for bomb components on Christmas Eve and "appointed himself judge, jury and executioner" when he pushed the button detonating the bomb near police officer Robert "Sande" Sanderson.
"Rudolph has no regret for his actions, and he may consider them to be morally justified," said Whisonant.
Rudolph, 38, pleaded guilty in April to setting off the remote-controlled bomb that maimed Lyons and killed Sanderson outside the New Woman All Women clinic on the morning of Jan. 29, 1998.
Sentencing in August for 1996 Olympic bombings He also faces sentencing Aug. 22 in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics bombing that killed one woman and injured more than 100, as well as 1997 bombings at an abortion clinic and gay bar in Atlanta.
Felicia Sanderson, speaking with Rudolph to her back, told the court of the devastation he caused to her family.
"My son Nick lost the only father that he ever knew. I never forget the look on my son's face when I told him Sande was gone," she said.
She said Rudolph took away a man who "touched many, many lives. ... He was always willing to help anyone out."
The clinic's director, Diane Derzis, told Rudolph, "It gives me great delight to know you are going to spend the rest of your life sitting in an 8-by-12 box."
Any proceeds for Rudolph’s story will go to victims As the hearing began, U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith ruled that any proceeds Rudolph might receive from books or other projects must go to pay restitution to his victims.
In a statement distributed after his guilty pleas, Rudolph portrayed himself as a devout Christian and said the bombings were motivated by his hatred of abortion and a federal government that lets it continue. He called the plea bargain "purely a tactical choice on my part."
Under the plea agreement, Rudolph also disclosed hidden explosives in the mountains of western North Carolina, where he was captured in May 2003 after more than five years as a fugitive.
JACKSON, Miss. -- A 16-year-old was hospitalized Thursday after being shot by his neighbor. Police said it happened during an alleged home burglary on McDowell Park Circle in Jackson at about 9 a.m. Family members identified the teen as Richard McCoy. He's being treated at Central Mississippi Medical Center for a gunshot wound to the torso. Mark Nelson, 49, told police he heard rustling at his back door, then saw a man with his face covered and a knife in his hand standing in the hallway. Nelson said he told the man to leave, but the man moved toward him. That's when Nelson said he fired the shot. Police said McCoy ran back to his home and his mother called police. News of the shooting surprised McCoy's uncle, who said the teen had never been in trouble. "It's summertime, though," he said. "Kids don't have nothing to do -- they get into all kinds of stuff. But as far as I know, he was a good kid." Officers took Nelson downtown for questioning but are not planning to file any charges. Detectives found a knife in the house, and a white T-shirt they believe was used as the mask in Nelson's back yard.
Police Arrest Sons, 3 Friends In Death Of Slain Preacher
POSTED: 4:51 pm CDT July 1, 2005
UPDATED: 5:05 pm CDT July 1, 2005
JACKSON, Miss. -- There was a major development Friday in the shooting death of the Rev. Rufus Brooks Sr. Jackson police arrested five people, including Brooks' two sons -- Nicholas Brooks, 21, and Rufus Brooks Jr., 20. The brothers, along with Lamarcus Hogan and Ryan Woodfork, both 18, and Montrell Francis, 17, are all charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Brooks, was found shot to death in his home on Springdale Drive in Jackson. Nicholas Brooks says he has no idea who murdered his father. "If I knew who killed my father, none of us would be here, so the information that we supplied them with was obviously not enough," said Nicholas Brooks. "That's all I can say." Investigators have not released a motive.
Conviction coincides with 41st anniversary of civil rights killings
Tuesday, June 21, 2005; Posted: 4:50 p.m. EDT (20:50 GMT)
A jury found former Klansman Edgar Ray Killen guilty of all three counts of manslaughter Tuesday.
PHILADELPHIA, Mississippi (CNN) -- Forty-one years to the day three civil rights workers were ambushed and killed by a Ku Klux Klan mob, a jury found former Klansman Edgar Ray Killen guilty of all three counts of manslaughter Tuesday.
The 1964 "Freedom Summer" killings of James Chaney, 21, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner, 24, helped galvanize the civil rights movement that led to major reforms in access to voting, education and public accommodations.
Circuit Court Judge Marcus Gordon set Killen's sentencing for Thursday at 10 a.m. (11 a.m. ET). He faces a prison sentence ranging from one to 20 years per count, said Mississippi Attorney General James Hood.
"There's justice for all in Mississippi," Hood said.
The jury of nine whites and three blacks reached the decision after several hours of deliberations. The conviction was on a lesser charge; prosecutors had charged Killen with murder.
Killen, 80, displayed no emotion as the verdicts were read.
But as the wheelchair-bound man was being escorted from the courthouse under heavy guard, he took swipes at reporters' microphones and cameras. One of the reporters was black, as was a cameraman.
'This is not over with'
Chaney's brother, Ben, said that despite the verdicts, "This is not over with. ... But we'll take what we got."
From her home in New York's Manhattan, Goodman's mother, Carolyn Goodman, 89, said she had waited a long time for a guilty verdict, but it was "nothing to be happy about."
"I'm just overcome. ... But you know I had a feeling it was going to happen," she said.
"I just hope he's off the streets," she said of Killen. "I don't want anything more terrible than that. I don't want anything violent. I'm against capital punishment."
Schwerner's widow, Rita Bender, said, "I would hope that this case is just the beginning and not the end."
She acknowledged the fact that the case likely became a high-profile one because Schwerner and Goodman were white New Yorkers who came to the South the summer of 1964 with hundreds of other volunteers to register black voters. Chaney was a black man from Mississippi.
Neshoba County District Attorney Mark Duncan said the verdict means his county will no longer "be known by a Hollywood movie anymore," referring to the 1988 film "Mississippi Burning" based on the killings.
"Today we've shown the rest of the world the true character of the people of Neshoba County," Duncan told reporters.
Prosecutor: 'Venom' still exists
In his closing argument Monday, Duncan implored the 12 jurors to "hold the defendant responsible for what he did."
"What you do today when you go into that jury room is going to echo throughout the history of Neshoba County from now on," Duncan said. "You can either change the history that Edgar Ray Killen and the Klan wrote for us, or you can confirm it."
"Find him guilty of murder," Duncan said. "That's the verdict that the state of Mississippi asks you to return."
"Those three boys and their families were robbed of all the things that Edgar Ray Killen has been able to enjoy for the last 41 years. And the cause of it, the main instigator of it was Edgar Ray Killen and no one else," the district attorney said.
"He was the man who led these murders. He is the man who set the plan in motion. He is the man who recruited the people to carry out the plan. He is the man who directed those men into what to do."
The balding, bespectacled Killen -- a former part-time Baptist preacher -- appeared to be sleeping during much of the closing remarks.
Hood, who led the case, said he wished "some of my predecessors would have done their duty" by bringing charges against Killen. Noting that it was "not good politics to bring this case up," he said, politics and time should not get in the way of justice.
Hood said testimony showed Killen possessed "venom" at the time of the killings and still does.
"That venom is sitting right there. It is seething behind those glasses," he said. "That coward wants to hide behind this thing and put pressure on you."
Conviction coincides with 41st anniversary of civil rights killings
Burden of proof
Defense attorney Mitch Moran said "nothing in the record shows Edgar was there" during the ambush and killings.
"The '60s was a terrible era in a lot of ways. We do not need to relive them, and we do need to go forward," Moran said. "What I'm asking you to do is to look at this evidence and hold the state to the burden of proving this case beyond a reasonable doubt."
On June 21, 1964, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were on their way to investigate the burning of a black church when they were briefly taken into custody for speeding.
According to testimony, the Klan had burned the church to lure the three men back to Neshoba County.
After they were released from the county jail in Philadelphia, a KKK mob tailed their car, forced if off the road, and shot them to death. Their bodies were found 44 days later buried in an earthen dam -- in a trench dug in anticipation of the killings, according to testimony.
In a 1967 federal trial, an all-white jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of convicting Killen. The lone holdout said she could not vote to convict a preacher.
Seven other men were convicted of conspiring to violate the civil rights of the victims, namely their right to live. None served more than six years in prison. At the time, no federal murder statutes existed, and the state never brought charges.
A jury panel of four blacks and 13 whites has been sworn in to hear the murder trial of Edgar Ray Killen, charged with murdering three civil rights workers in 1964.
Prosecutors and the defense each made opening statements Wednesday, lasting about 15 minutes each.
Attorney Gen. Jim Hood also laid out a narrative of what happened in the month leading up to the slayings of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney in rural Neshoba County.
Defense attorney Mitch Moran acknowledged publicly for the first time that Killen was in the Ku Klux Klan at the time of the slaying. Moran says the Klan is not on trial in the case.
Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon intentionally did not tell the jury panel which 12 of them will decide the case and which five will serve as alternates. He also ordered the attorneys not to disclose that information. Testimony is to begin Thursday.
KKK Members Attending Trial
For the second time in as many days, two members of the Ku Klux Klan greeted Edgar Ray Killen as he got ready to enter the Neshoba County Courthouse.
For the first time, one of them actually spoke at length about why they're here. That man, identifying himself as Cole Thornton, says he came from Florida only as a show of support to the Killen family. He said he and his fellow Klansman, J.J. Harper, are offering to help in any way they can.
"We didn't intend any harm to anybody. We didn't bring any trouble to anybody. We didn't look for any trouble," Thornton said. "But his family has suffered a lot. There's a lot of people in Mississippi (who have) suffered a lot. I'm sorry for that. I was no part of it. But his wife is very sick and his brothers are stressed out. We just came to lend a hand."
Killen himself has repeatedly denied he was ever a member of the Klan or had anything to do with it, and Thornton says he doesn't know anything about him being involved either.
"American White Knights of the KKK. He's never been a member. I know that for a fact. Like I said, it has nothing to do with the KKK," said Thornton.
Philadelphia has been very careful to cultivate a good image for itself during this trial. And people are hopeful having members of the KKK here won't do anything to hurt that image.
"No, I don't think so. You know, I don't think it's something that. I really don't know exactly, but I really don't think it will affect, you know, they're not doing anything major. They're just showing up," said Deborah Posey, a member of the Philadelphia Coalition, which formally called for the murder case to be reopened and justice pursued.
All of Philadelphia is likely hoping that's the case.
Even in Trinidadian terms the murders of which Lester Pitman has been found guilty are among the most heinous. A country used to bloody murder was both stunned and outraged by the tortured death that Pitman meted out to an elderly woman, Maggie Lee, her daughter Lynette Pearson, and her son-in-law, John Cropper, the husband of social activist and now Independent Senator, Angela Cropper.
Pitman and his accomplice, or accomplices, showed no mercy after gaining entry to the Croppers' Cascade home, slitting the throats of their victims in an orgy of slaughter that must have subjected the doomed trio to cruel and unusual punishment in the seconds, minutes or even hours before they met their savage and unexpected deaths.
As a consequence it is difficult, impossible even, to summon any sympathy for Pitman, whatever the feelings of disquiet that overtook him when the death warrant was read to him, his own enduring banality (as is the case with so many killers) revealed by his choice of fast-food fried chicken as his last meal on Monday.
Nonetheless, it is difficult to discern how the State can possibly carry out its plan to hang him on that day given his right to lodge appeals to save his sorry life and the inevitability of a battery of lawyers combining their talents either because they want to prevent what they consider to be a legal travesty or simply because of their conviction that nobody-not even the State-has the right to kill.
That last is a philosophical, even religious, discussion that deserves to be ongoing, whatever what might be presumed to be the majority's vengeful view, but the State, as of now, has to proceed with maximum caution lest it ends up committing a crime for reasons of political expediency. This remains a very real possibility given popular pressure on the powers-that-be to do something, indeed anything, to arrest the general blood-letting that has become part of the daily diet of all Trinbagonians.
The point is that even if Pitman deserves to be hanged the State will find itself doing the right thing for the wrong reason and that is an untenable situation given the huge questions of State power as it relates to life and death that are bound to be raised with what, we fear, all kinds of unforeseen consequences in the future. Whatever the national urge for blood, the leadership responsibility is for restraint.
Ready to do battle, attorneys representing convicted killer Lester Pitman on their way to the Port of Spain Hall of Justice yesterday. They are (from left) Douglas Mendes SC, Ian Stuart Brook, Gregory Delzin and Reginald Armour SC. After a brief hearing,
The High Court yesterday granted convicted murderer Lester Pitman a stay of execution following the production of a notice of appeal filed by his lawyers on April 22 which the State said it had never received.
Maintaining his stand on the death penalty, however, Attorney General John Jeremie issued a statement to the media after Pitman won the stay of execution.
"This of course shall not deter the State from pursuing the execution of its constitutionally determined mandate in the very near future, in respect of the other condemned prisoners," the AG's office stated.
Even before Justice Rajendra Narine granted the stay yesterday, Gilbert Peterson SC, who represented the AG and Commissioner of Prisons in a motion filed by Pitman, said the State's decision to stand down the execution, which had been planned for Monday, was only temporary.
He told the judge that the State would agree to a stay that lasted only until after Pitman's appeal against his conviction is determined by the Privy Council.
Pitman, 25, of Mitagual, San Juan, was convicted of the 2001 murders of UK-born agricultural consultant and philanthropist John Cropper, his mother-in-law Maggie Lee, 83, and sister-in-law Lynette Lithgow Pearson, 51, a former British Broadcasting Corporation anchorwoman.
Attorney General John Jeremie told Parliament on Monday that State executions would resume, and Pitman was read a death warrant two days later.
By Thursday, a constitutional motion was filed on the killer's behalf seeking a stay of the execution order on the basis that he had an appeal pending before the Privy Council, and an order commuting his sentence to life imprisonment.
Justice Narine heard the application for the stay yesterday morning in the Port of Spain Civil Chamber Court.
Peterson said he could not oppose the stay in light of a notice that Pitman wanted his appeal heard by the Privy Council. That notice was dated April 22, but Peterson said the State had no knowledge that it existed before he saw it on Thursday.
"There is no evidence that the notice was served on the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Attorney General (as is normally the practice). It would appear that the applicant had been keeping it in his back pocket," the attorney told the judge.
He referred to affidavits filed by Solicitor General Lynette Stephenson SC and attorney Norton Jack, a Senior Legal Advisor to the AG.
Stephenson said she checked the registry of her chambers on June 2 for any notice that Pitman intended to appeal to the Privy Council, and there was no record that any such notice was served.
Jack said Jeremie had asked him in May this year "to make general enquiries into the status of prisoners on Death Row and as to whether any of them had any appeals pending".
He said he checked the Solicitor General's chambers and the Court of Appeal on May 27, and got no notice in relation to Pitman; and he checked the Appeal Court Registry on May 31 and was told that no notice had been filed on Pitman's behalf.
"It is against that background that the warrant was read, as the State is entitled to do," Peterson said.
But both Justice Narine and Douglas Mendes SC, who is Pitman's lead attorney, remarked that it was "curious" that those searches did not turn up the document, which had been filed since April 22.
"What is more is that a letter was sent to the Minister of National Security (in April) of his (Pitman's) intention to appeal to the Privy Council, and the practice is that the Minister appoints a lawyer to do what is necessary to file the appeal. That letter was not acted on," Mendes said.
"Further, Mr Pitman had a right to be heard by the Mercy Committee before it recommended that he should be hanged, and no efforts were taken to contact him before that decision was taken.
"It is simply woefully inadequate what took place in this case," Mendes complained.
Before he granted the stay, Justice Narine said: "Perhaps if the procedure in cases of this type would become known to all and sundry, mistakes of this type would not happen again".
The stay orders the State to undertake that Pitman will not be executed until his constitutional motion, scheduled for a June 27 hearing, is determined.
Lester Pitman, a convicted murderer scheduled for execution come Monday, is hopeful that his date with the hangman will not come to pass, his attorney said yesterday.
Ravi Heffes-Doon, one of a battery of attorneys who have taken up Pitman's case, said he visited the 28-year-old killer at the Port of Spain prison yesterday and said he seemed "still a bit depressed but hopeful that he would get a stay (of execution)".
Heffes-Doon said he briefed Pitman on what arguments would be made in his favour at a constitutional motion scheduled for hearing this morning, so that Pitman fully understands what is taking place.
In his affidavit filed in support of the motion, Pitman professed how he felt with the grim knowledge of his death warrant.
"I have been feeling really scared. I can't help but think of myself being taken to the gallows to be executed. I can't understand how I could be executed when I am still appealing my conviction and I have not even been heard by the Mercy Commission," he said.
Pitman also included his reaction to the death warrant read to him on Death Row on Wednesday afternoon.
"(When) I realised that I was to be executed, my mind went blank and I felt numb. I did not hear when the Superintendent read the date on which I am scheduled to be hanged. Later on, I asked a prison officer who told me that I am scheduled to be hanged on Monday," Pitman stated. "After the Superintendent read out the death warrant to me I told him that I have an appeal to the Privy Council which had not been heard yet. He asked me if I wrote to the Minister (of National Security) in order to get my appeal. I said yes."
"I want to exercise my right to appeal to the Privy Council," he went on.
Heffes-Doon also filed an affidavit in the motion, which was filed yesterday.
He said that after Pitman told him he had written to the Minister stating that he wanted to appeal to the Privy Council he spoke to a prison officer yesterday at the Port of Spain prison to get a copy.
He said he was referred to the Prison Commissioner's office, where he was informed that he would have to submit a written request for a copy.
Heffes-Doon said he submitted a request, but had no response up to yesterday.
"He has taken pride in his short temper and proclivity to extreme violence. The violence has escalated through his life, including during his incarceration. ... Mr. Martinez's decision to refuse his death penalty appeal is a logical extension of his lifelong disrespect of his own, as well as others' physical well-being."
Martinez, in the death row interview, affirmed that he likely would kill again.
"Maybe not now," he said, "maybe not in 10 years. But someday, maybe 20 years from now, somebody would set me off. I give my life freely."
Psychologist Carmen Petzold found that Martinez suffered from "numerous disorders," possibly stemming from his hellish childhood. Born to a heroin addict, Martinez was placed for adoption with a family in which he was verbally, physically and, he claimed, sexually abused by his new mother. Martinez told officials he was "beaten every night until my mother's hands hurt and she had to stop."
'His life just fell apart' Martinez's adoptive mother, Velma Griffin, who raised the child from 15 months to nine years, when her marriage ended in divorce, denied all the abuse allegations. Today, she prays for him and hopes his life will be spared. She routinely attempts to visit him on death row, though on each occasion he has rebuffed her, silently returning to his cell when he determines the identity of his visitor.
"I feel very sad," she said. "I cry all the way home. I have to sit in the car five to 10 minutes to compose myself. I just wanted him to know that somebody loves him."
Griffin said Martinez's early years showed promise — as a Boy Scout he was selected to address the Texas Senate. But after the divorce, when she gave up custody of her four children to her ex-husband, "his life just fell apart."
Martinez said the situation hardly improved when his adoptive father remarried. His stepmother, he asserted, intensely disliked him and worked to alienate his father.
"She wouldn't do anything," he said. "She'd wait until my dad came home, and he'd hit me hard."
Martinez's father, stepmother and siblings could not be located for comment.
By the time Martinez dropped out of the ninth grade, he was a steady inhaler of spray paint fumes and similar substances. His adolescence and young adulthood were marked by continual violent skirmishes — only during three years was he free of the criminal-justice system, records show.
"I always looked at it like everybody owed me something," Martinez said. "My mentality was not giving a damn. I couldn't see myself in the world for some reason. I was mad all the time. ... I always thought that I could go right someday. I always thought that things would work out for the best. And all the time I was getting further in the hole."
Deadly trail In 1994, he stabbed a co-worker during an altercation at the pizza restaurant at which they worked, resulting in a seven-year sentence for attempted murder. He had been out of prison three weeks when he murdered Oliveros, a 45-year-old prostitute with a history of narcotics offenses.
Martinez said he contacted the escort service for which Oliveros worked. When Oliveros arrived at Martinez's home — he was staying at Griffin's residence — the two quarreled over the woman's $300 fee.
In three statements to police, Martinez acknowledged that he had sex with the woman, then killed her. In one, he admitted that he had taken money and cocaine from her belongings. Martinez's county cellmate, Rios, who received a reduced sentence for his testimony, told jurors the killer told him he had placed a knife to the woman's throat as she gathered her things to leave, engaged in sex, forced the knife into her throat, then, to silence her, slashed her throat.
He then placed the corpse in a bedroom closet, retrieving it three days later to dump it in a nearby vacant lot.
Prosecutors told jurors that to find Martinez guilty of capital murder they could accept that he had robbed and/or sexually assaulted his victim. It was not necessary that jurors agree on which felony he committed. The court of criminal appeals upheld prosecutors' interpretation of the law.
In his death row interview, Martinez said he took money and drugs in the incident, but the theft was an afterthought, not a motivating factor. He indicated the couple had engaged in consensual sex.
Residents of a well-kept South Houston neighborhood, where Oliveros apparently lived with her parents, now deceased, would not comment on the victim's descent into drug abuse and prostitution.
'Condemned forever' On Aug. 23, 2001, Martinez slashed his stepmother's throat in an unprovoked attack as his 8-year-old half-brother and 12-year-old half-sister watched. The injured woman survived after spending nine days in the hospital, five of them in intensive care. Martinez was arrested later the same day after he confided his crimes to a relative in La Porte, who notified police.
When police searched Martinez's bedroom the next day, they found blood on the bed frame, wall, floor, closet shelves and door. Some of the blood, said Assistant District Attorney Marie Munier, was from Oliveros, some from Martinez. Because of irregularities the Houston Police Department's crime lab, the blood samples were tested a second time with the same results, she said.
Killer's 1-word creed: violence Fearing he'll kill again, dreading a prison life, Alex Martinez is ready to be executed By ALLAN TURNER Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
LIVINGSTON - The blue prison tattoos on Alex Martinez's arms and torso, as intense in imagery as anything on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, tell the story of his life. Somewhere, surely, are references to his wretched childhood, the endless beatings and psychological abuse.
But it's the tombstones, macabre tributes to the women whose throats he slashed, that are most chilling.
"Maria," reads one, referring to Maria Martinez, the stepmother who miraculously survived his brutal attack in August 2001. "To be continued."
The second cuts to the heart of what brought the 28-year-old one-time Houston fast-food worker to death row. Beneath the inscription, "RIP," are a date, a woman's name and the sum, "$300." Seemingly cryptic, the tattoo is a crude ink-and-skin memorial to South Houston prostitute Helen Joyce Oliveros, who, on Aug. 12, 2001, was murdered by Martinez during a squabble over her fee.
Martinez admitted that the slashings, just weeks after he was freed from prison where he served a sentence for attempted murder, might seem extreme responses to minor provocations — unless one believes in violence.
"Yeah, I believe in violence," said Martinez, who is scheduled to be executed Tuesday and become the ninth killer to die in the state's Huntsville death house this year. "I was raised up with violence. I was hit, kicked, hollered at. It destroyed my family. Even in here (prison) I'm subject to violence. Even the state will be violent when I'm killed."
Partly out of fear that he will kill again, partly out of dread of spending his life behind bars, Martinez said in a recent death row interview that he wants to die. To the consternation of his appeals attorney, Houston lawyer Pat McCann, the killer has insisted that all efforts to save his life be halted.
"I think Alexander's life still has value," he said. "I wish he would change his mind."
McCann thinks a key element of the prosecution's case — testimony by his client's Harris County cellmate, Cesar Rios — is faulty.
"This is a case that never should have been a capital case to start with," McCann said. "A lying jailhouse snitch was one of the key elements in making a murder case a capital case. ... If Alexander dies, he'd be dying for a lie. That's not justice."
In rejecting Martinez's initial, automatic appeal in March 2004, however, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found that other evidence was "consistent with and corroborated" Rios' testimony. Evidence also supported the accuracy of three confessions Martinez gave investigators after his arrest.
"He's one of the scariest people I've encountered across the table," said Assistant District Attorney Tammy Thomas, lead Harris County prosecutor in the case. "He seems to enjoy the kill. That's pretty apparent from the trial transcript. He's not sorry."
"He is among the most dangerous individuals this forensic psychiatrist has evaluated," Dr. Seth Silverman wrote after examining Martinez to determine his competency to waive appeals.
[ send green star]
JACKSON, Miss. - A 1-year-old hospitalized at University Medical Center in critical condition Wednesday after being severely beaten by her mother's boyfriend died Thursday, according to Jackson police. DeAngela Mallette suffered severe head trauma.
Police arrested Antonio Love, 22, on one count of felony child abuse. The charge has since been upgraded captial murder.
Love was one of metro's most wanted in 2003, when he was sought on aggravated assault charges. He was ultimately acquitted. Police believe the beating took place at the Cedarstone Apartments early Wednesday morning.
Police said when DeAngela's mother realized the young girl was injured, she and Love dropped off the older children at day care and then drove to the hospital.
In the meantime, DeAngela's 9-year-old sister called police from the day care, saying that her mother was in trouble and headed to UMC.
JACKSONMiss. -A local mother said the newborn baby she buried earlier this month was not her own, and she may end up suing a Jackson hospital. "I'm thinking she's in the ground, and when I thought I was dealing with it, I had to deal with it over again," said Terrica Booth. "It was like a ton of bricks hit me again." Booth said she and her fiance spent hours saying goodbye to their stillborn daughter in a hospital room at CMMC. She said they didn't look inside the casket, but held a funeral for their daughter a few days later in their hometown of Collins. "Two weeks after that, I am getting the shocking news that my baby is still at the morgue," Booth said. Administrators at CMMC won't comment on the case, saying patient information is confidential. Booth said administrators have offered to pay for both funerals. She said she buried the girls next to each other and now considers both of the children her own. "They gave it to us, so we have two kids," Booth said. "I named my baby Julia, and I named that baby Tulia." Booth said she still doesn't know who the first child belongs to or how the mix-up happened. "I knew it was just a body, but still, it was my baby," Booth said. "They treated my baby like it was a piece of trash -- like it wasn't nothing to give me the wrong baby. It wasn't right." Booth has hired an attorney and hopes to talk again with hospital administrators before filing a lawsuit in the case.
JACKSONMiss. - U.S. Marshals caught up with one of the FBI's most wanted suspects at Jackson Evers International Airport. Renaldo Valdez was in Federal Court Monday after Marshals caught him trying to board a flight. Valdez is wanted on cocaine charges in Pennsylvania.
Pearl police had Valdez in custody Sunday night on unrelated charges, but they released him before his fingerprints came back with the information that he was a wanted fugitive.
When Pearl police received the fugitive information, they called the U.S. Marshals Service.
Four Mounties Killed in Canadian Pot Raid March 04, 2005 9:02 AM
TORONTO — Canadians were stunned Friday by the deadliest attack on police officers in 120 years, the slayings of four Mounties while they were investigating an illegal marijuana farm in western Canada.
"Canadians are shocked by this brutality and join me in condemning the violent acts that brought about these deaths," Prime Minister Paul Martin said. He has called for a moment of silence before opening his Liberal Party's annual conference later Friday.
The four Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers had been investigating a farm near the village of Rochfort Bridge in northwestern Alberta when they were shot, RCMP spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes said. The four and the suspected gunman were found in a Quonset hut late Thursday, Oakes said.
A government source told The Canadian Press the suspect killed himself after shooting the officers. State-run CBC-TV identified the gunman as 46-year-old James Roszko and said he had a long rap sheet, including the use of illegal firearms and sexual assault.
"It's my sad duty to inform you that four members of the RCMP were killed today in the line of duty — four brave, young members," said Bill Sweeney, commanding officer of the Mounties in Alberta.
"The loss of four police officers is unprecedented in recent history," Sweeney said. "I'm told you have to go back to about 1885 in the RCMP history during the Northwest Rebellion to have a loss of this magnitude."
The Northwest Rebellion was an unsuccessful attempt by indigenous rebels to establish an independent nation in the northwestern frontier.
One of the four officers killed Thursday was a young constable who had been on the job for only two weeks, Canadian Press reported. Another was a 33-year-old ace marksman who entered the service with his twin brother.
Police have not officially released the names of the officers but family members confirmed that 29-year-old rookie Constables Brock Myrol and Leo Johnston were among the dead.
David Myrol, an Edmonton lawyer, said his cousin Brock was part of a close-knit family, which is devastated by his death.
"We'll be asking questions about what happened," he told the National Post newspaper. "There's no doubt."
The officers were armed only with handguns. Some have asked why the officers didn't have better backup and how all four could have been killed by a single gunman.
Sgt. Rick Oncescu of the Calgary RCMP said two SWAT teams were called into the area and Mounties from surrounding jurisdictions also responded when the four officers didn't respond to radio calls Thursday afternoon.
Maj. Scott Lundy, a spokesman for Edmonton Garrison, said the military received a request from the RCMP for assistance early in the afternoon. He said two armored personnel carriers, an ambulance and about 20 military personnel were dispatched from the military base.
Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said she would consider tougher penalties for growers in a proposed marijuana decriminalization bill. The Liberal Party is preparing to debate a resolution that asserts legalizing pot would curb drug dealers and organized crime.
Ex-priest Shanley sentenced 12 to 15 years on child rape charges
The Associated Press
Updated: 1:11 p.m. ET Feb. 15, 2005
BOSTON - Defrocked priest Paul Shanley, a central figure in the Boston Archdiocese clergy sex abuse scandal, was sentenced Tuesday to 12 to 15 years in prison for raping a boy repeatedly in the 1980s, sometimes in a church confessional.
“It is difficult to imagine a more egregious misuse of trust and authority,” Judge Stephen Neel said in imposing the term. But he turned aside a prosecutor’s request for a life sentence.
Shanley, 74, once known for a being a hip “street priest” who reached out to troubled children and homosexuals, was convicted last week of two counts each of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a child.
He will be eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence, or 8 years. He was also sentenced to 10 years’ probation.
The case hinged on the reliability of the accuser’s memories of the abuse, which he said he recovered three years ago as the clergy sex abuse scandal unfolded in the media.
No life term Prosecutor Lynn Rooney had recommended a life sentence, saying Shanley used his position of authority to gain the trust of the boys he then molested.
“He used his collar and he used his worshipped status in that community,” Rooney said. “There has been no remorse shown on the part of this defendant. There has been no acceptance of responsibility.”
Arthur Austin, who claimed he was one of defrocked priest Paul Shanley's sexual abuse victims, receives a hug outside the courtroom Tuesday from Kathy Dwyer, who claimed she was sexually abused by another priest.
Shanley’s lawyer, Frank Mondano, did not suggest a specific term, but asked Neel to allow Shanley to serve his sentence in a county lockup rather than state prison. The judge refused. Another notorious pedophile priest, John Geoghan, was killed in a Massachusetts state prison, allegedly by a fellow inmate.
Mondano said the prosecution’s case was built on “vilification, half truths and lies.” He has said he plans to appeal.
Among the spectators who packed the courtroom for Shanley’s sentencing hearing were other people who accused Shanley of sexually abusing them but were not part of the criminal case. As Shanley was led from the courtroom in handcuffs, they burst into applause and one man called out “Goodbye.”
Victims of abusive priests and their advocates were pleased by the sentence, saying it could amount to life in prison given Shanley’s age and a heart condition.
“The important thing is that he’s off the streets,” said David Clohessey, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “We’re relieved and grateful and believe Massachusetts is a safer place because of this decision.”
Victim, family make statements Shanley’s accuser, now a 27-year-old firefighter in a suburb of Boston, said the former priest would pull him from Sunday morning catechism classes at St. Jean’s parish in Newton and rape and fondle him. The abuse began in 1983, when he was 6 years old, and continued for six years, he said.
Rooney read a written statement by Shanley’s accuser.
“I want him to die in prison,” the man’s statement said. “I hope it is slow and painful.”
The accuser’s wife addressed Shanley in court, saying “no words can ever explain my disgust for you. You are a coward. You hid behind God.”
“You robbed my little boy of his innocence,” the accuser’s father told Shanley. “You destroyed his understanding of good and bad and right and wrong.”
During the trial, the accuser broke down on the witness stand as he described in graphic detail being abused by Shanley in a church bathroom, rectory, confessional and pews.
“He told me nobody would ever believe me if I told anybody,” he testified.
Idaho Teen Is Tied Up and Scalped February 08, 2005 7:35 PM
BOISE, Idaho - A 16-year-old girl was allegedly tied up and scalped with a 4-inch knife in what police say may have been an act of revenge by another woman.
The girl, who had a punk-style mohawk haircut before the attack, is recovering at home. Doctors could not reattach her scalp, which was found near a hot spring.
Police searched for Marianne Dahle, 26, who disappeared after the Jan. 18 attack at Kirkham Hot Springs, about 70 miles from Boise.
"When I say this gal was scalped, she was truly scalped," said Chief Deputy Bill Braddock. "The top of her head, her hair, was completely cut off."
Dahle and the victim, whose name was not released, were longtime acquaintances and hung out with a punk clique, he said.
"The motive, as near as we've been told by witnesses, was retaliation for acting in a way that the adult perceived as being offensive to women as a gender," Braddock said. "According to their creed, if you disrespect women you are not allowed to wear a mohawk."
Soldier Gets Six Months in Abu Ghraib Case February 04, 2005 8:01 PM
By T.A. BADGER, Associated Press Writer
FORT HOOD, Texas - Sgt. Javal Davis, who admitted abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003, was sentenced Friday to six months in a military prison and given a bad-conduct discharge from the Army.
A nine-man military jury deliberated for about 5 1/2 hours to determine the punishment for Davis, a former Abu Ghraib guard who earlier this week confessed to stepping on the hands and feet of a group of handcuffed detainees and falling with his full weight on top of them.
The 27-year-old reservist from Roselle, N.J., faced up to 6 1/2 years in prison for battery, dereliction of duty and lying to Army investigators. A deal with prosecutors, however, reportedly capped his sentence at 18 months.
Davis said he saw detainees being physically mistreated and sexually humiliated by other guards, but that he failed to help them or report the abuse, as required under military law. He also admitted lying to an Army investigator by denying his misdeeds at the Baghdad prison.
Maj. Michael Holley, one of the prosecutors, asked the nine jurors to sentence Davis to 12 to 24 months in prison. Holley said Davis's misdeeds have tarnished the image of American soldiers in the world's eyes and endangered forces serving in Iraq.
"There must be consequences for those actions," the prosecutor said during his closing arguments. "These assaults are best characterized by two words: brutal and cowardly."
Defense lawyer Paul Bergrin implored the jury of four Army officers and five senior enlisted men to go lightly on Davis, saying he is a good man and a good soldier who has already been punished enough for a brief lapse in judgment.
Bergrin said Davis will forever have a felony conviction on his record, and that he has performed 10 months of menial duties, including painting curbs and picking up trash, while confined to a U.S. base in Iraq after his arrest.
"How much more do we kick him when he's down on the ground?" he asked.
Teen on trial for grandparents' murders blames antidepressants February 01, 2005 9:05 AM
CHARLESTON, S.C. Court TV — When 12-year-old Christopher Pittman attempted suicide in 2001, doctors put him on a five-week regimen of Zoloft and another antidepressant. Christopher did not try to kill himself again, but his lawyers claim the drugs caused him to kill the two most important people in his life — his paternal grandparents.
Joe Pittman, 66, and Joy Pittman, 62, were asleep in their rural Chester County, S.C., home on Nov. 28, 2001, when Christopher took a pump-action shotgun and killed the retired couple. The boy then set the house on fire and fled in the family car.
"I took everything out on my grandparents, who I loved so very much," Christopher wrote in a letter that his father, Joe Pittman Jr., read at a federal Food and Drug Administration hearing last year. "When I was lying in my bed that night, I couldn't sleep because my voice in my head kept echoing through my mind, telling me to kill them."
As Christopher Pittman goes on trial Monday, his case is refocusing a national debate on the dangers of antidepressant use. Christopher's lawyers, along with an expert on criminal liability for people who take prescribed medicines, are expected to use the proceedings as a bullhorn.
They will concede that Christopher pulled the trigger. The defense, however, is expected to call a team of experts and use pharmaceutical company documents to convince jurors that the antidepressants Christopher was taking made him unable to discern right from wrong when he took the lives of the people he called "Pop-Pop" and "Nanna."
The defense will also claim that Pfizer knew as early as the 1980s that Zoloft could cause a patient to develop homicidal urges.
The Rock Hill Herald reported in December that the defense had a long-secret portion of a 1983 Pfizer document that reported that one patient had been taken off Zoloft during a clinical trial. The portion of the report that had been in the public domain from 1983 to 2004 indicated only that the patient was taken off the drug because of treatment failure and nausea, anorexia and painful urination.
The newly released section further explained that the same patient had developed thoughts of killing himself and others, according to the paper. "[The patient] began to verbalize feelings of killing other people and then himself," a physician involved with the 1983 clinical trial wrote at the time.
Prosecutors have said very little publicly about Christopher's defense strategy. They have, however, insisted that Christopher not be freed on bail and that he be tried as an adult. A judge agreed that the nature of the crimes justifies trying the now-15-year-old as an adult.
Prosecutors are expected to highlight Christopher's previous brushes with authorities, school officials and family members to argue that he showed antisocial behavior before being prescribed antidepressants and after he stopped taking them.
Lawyers on both sides of the case were not immediately available for comment.
"A bond hearing last month exposed 38 incidents involving sweet, quiet, laid-back Christopher since the murders, including shouting obscenities at staff and seemingly trying to fashion a jailhouse weapon by sharpening both ends of a toothbrush," David Verhaagen, a licensed psychologist, wrote in a Jan. 18 opinion piece in the Charlotte, N.C., Observer.
Opening statements are set to begin Monday afternoon before Charleston County Circuit Judge Daniel Pieper.
The judge has previously indicated that he will allow the defense to present evidence about the possible adverse effects of antidepressants in some patients, but reminded the attorneys that the trial is a criminal proceeding, not a civil action against pharmaceutical companies.
The trial is expected to last two weeks. If convicted of murder and arson, Christopher Pittman faces up to life in prison.
Jackson Stands Before Prospective Jurors January 31, 2005 2:51 PM
By LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Dressed in a bright white suit and a jewel-trimmed vest and belt, Michael Jackson on Monday stood before the first group of prospective jurors who could decide his fate on charges he molested a teenage cancer patient and plied the boy with alcohol at his Neverland Ranch.
The pop superstar, accompanied by four defense lawyers, stood and smiled as he faced prospective jurors for the start of jury selection in what could become the most sensational celebrity trial the world has ever seen. He greeted the clerk with a handshake at the courthouse in this small coastal city in central California.
Outside, fans from around the world pressed up against a chain-link fence and shouted words of encouragement, holding up signs that read, "Dear God, Please Give Michael Justice" and "France Supports and Loves MJ."
Fans danced and sang a Jackson song attacking the district attorney and booed a woman who held a sign backing the accuser.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon, whom Jackson has derided in a song as a "cold man" with a vendetta, did not come to court. A deputy represented the prosecution.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a teenage boy — then 13, now 15 — and plying him with alcohol.
On Sunday, Jackson issued a court-approved video statement on his Web site, predicting he would be acquitted. His parents also spoke out in his defense Monday, saying the young accuser was after his money.
"I know my son, and this is ridiculous," his mother, Katherine Jackson, said in an interview broadcast on CBS' "The Early Show." She said people who believe her son is guilty "don't know him."
Judge Rodney Melville told the first group of 150 prospective jurors that they might have to serve for about six months, but that it was an important duty.
"Most of us have relatives who have fought and died to protect this service," Melville said. "Freedom is not free. Jury duty is part of the cost of freedom."
The first group was predominantly white. About a quarter appeared to be Hispanic. There were only three blacks.
Sixty-six members of the first group asked to be excused, but during questioning by the judge two changed their minds. A woman who said she was eight months pregnant was excused from the case.
Five hundred more prospective jurors were to be processed later Monday and on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Those not excused will out questionnaires, and then will be questioned individually by the attorneys. The judge wants 12 jurors in addition to eight alternates.
The small-town feel of the jury pool was apparent during questioning. One woman ran a pet shop, while another was in local real estate. One woman said she could get a medical excuse from her doctor across the street. A few said they have friends who work at Jackson's Neverland ranch.
Prospective jurors were addressed with nine-digit numbers in court.
One woman said she worked at an elementary school where she dealt with "people that need counseling for molestation."
Other prospective jurors said they had to care for sick relatives or had too many job responsibilities. One woman said that at 75, she was "just too old."
"You don't look a day over 60," the judge replied.
The woman said she was willing to serve if she had to, but noted she had "a multitude of illnesses."
When another woman said she had to be home every night to care for her mother, the judge told her that she would be home every night.
"Don't they lock juries up, too?" the prospect asked, inquiring if the judge could guarantee she would get home.
"Oh yeah, I'm going home every night," said Melville, who intends to end each day of trial by 2:30 p.m.
One man said he couldn't serve because his employer wouldn't pay him while he was on jury duty.
Police Find Body of Missing Indiana Girl January 30, 2005 7:40 PM
ROTHERSVILLE, Ind. — A state trooper on routine patrol found the body of a missing 10-year-old girl in a stream Sunday morning, five days after she apparently accepted a ride from a young man in a truck while she returned home from running an errand.
The trooper found the body of Katlyn "Katie" Collman in the stream in a wooded area about a quarter of a mile off Interstate 65 about five miles north of Seymour, Sgt. Jerry Goodin of the Indiana State Police said at a news conference.
Goodin did not disclose how the Crothersville girl died or how long her body may have been in the stream. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday in Louisville, Ky.
"This is a saddening day for law enforcement officials," Goodin said. "We've come to know Katie. It hits everyone very hard."
The discovery of the body about 10 a.m. Sunday came three days after authorities issued an Amber Alert for her and two days after her parents issued a public appeal for her safe return on Friday. Also on Friday, authorities released a sketch of a young man whom a witness said was driving a pickup truck Collman was seen in.
The sketch sparked a rash of telephone tips, but none that provided solid information.
A $10,000 reward for information in the case remains offered.
No family members spoke during the news conference Sunday afternoon at the Vernon Township Fire Department in Crothersville, which has served as the command post for agencies that mobilized to search for the girl. It was there that Collman's parents, Angie Collman and John Neace, issued a written statement Friday appealing for their daughter's safe return.
"Please do not harm her. We ask that you just drop her off anywhere so that she may return to a family and community that loves her very much and misses her dearly," the statement said.
Collman's family had last seen her about 4 p.m. Tuesday as she walked to a store about three blocks from her home to buy toilet paper, investigators said. A clerk told investigators that the girl bought the toilet paper, and an acquaintance talked to her about a block away as she headed home.
A witness who saw Collman in the truck said she looked like a normal passenger.
"There was no sign of her being held against her will or trying to get out," Goodin said at the time.
Goodin said authorities waited two days to issue an Amber Alert for Collman because they needed a lead in her disappearance. Alert criteria say authorities must have a lead on a missing child's whereabouts before an alert can be issued.
Once police received a description of a truck — a white Ford F-150 pickup truck about 15 years old that appeared to be clean and well-maintained — they issued the alert, Goodin said.
The sketch of the truck's driver shows a very thin white male, 5 feet, 8 inches to 6 feet tall, 18 and 20 years old with short, dark hair and a fair complexion. A description said the man smokes cigarettes.
Collman, a fourth-grader at Crothersville Elementary, "always had a smile on her face," said Terry Goodin, superintendent of the Crothersville schools.
Counselors would be available at Collman's school on Monday, said Terry Goodin, who's also a Democratic state representative and the brother of the state police sergeant
Activist Says Reopening Murder Case Violates Killen's Civil Rights
JACKSONMiss. - One of the most outspoken activists against reopening the 1964 civil right murder case is Richard Barrett. Barrett, who heads the Nationalist Movement, said he thinks Killen's constitutional rights are being violated.
"You have to prosecute a man for murder within the time for a speedy trial," Barrett said. "Forty years is not a speedy trial."
Barrett met Killen last July in Philadelphia. He said Killen asked him to be his lawyer in the case, but Barrett said he had other obligations.
This murder happened within 10 miles of where I grew up.
Sri Lankan Teenager Raped by Rescuer January 07, 2005 12:56 PM
By SHIMALI SENANAYAKE, Associated Press Writer
GALLE, Sri Lanka - She survived the tsunami, only to suffer the brutality of her rescuer.
On a pilgrimage to a temple, the 18-year-old and her family stopped for a picnic by the beach. That's when the tsunami struck.
Flailing in the water, the teenager heard a voice. "He told me to grab his hand, that he will save me," she said.
She and the stranger were swept into a muddy river. When they reached a bank, he pushed her into a bed of brambles and raped her.
"I screamed and told him not to hurt me," the shy teenager told The Associated Press. "He put his hands around my neck and told me that even if he kills me right there, no one will know."
Since the Dec. 26 tsunami, authorities have received many reports of sexual abuse — including attacks on children — at refugee camps and elsewhere. But there was no one to help the 18-year-old — the waves killed her father, mother and seven other relatives.
Earlier that day, the family and neighbors had left for the Kataragama temple, venerated by Buddhists and Hindus, to celebrate her father's 65th birthday.
Their bus, which carried 32 passengers, stopped at a beach. The girl was wading at the shore with two nieces when the waves crashed around them. Fourteen of the travelers died.
At the teenager's home in a village near the southern town of Galle, her only surviving sister displayed photographs of their parents, brothers, sisters and their families at weddings and birthday celebrations.
She allowed the AP to interview her younger sister on condition the teenager and the family would not be named and no photographs would be taken. They fear being ostracized by the village because of the attack.
After the rape, the teenager said, "I felt lifeless." Soaked with mud, her body itched all over from the thorns.
Dazed, she saw two figures approaching.
"He told me not to breath a word," she said. "He spoke to the men and left me with them. I didn't say anything and was terrified because they, too, were men."
The teenager was loaded into a truck with corpses and the injured. She recognized her brother's body and fainted.
At Karapitiya hospital, doctors and nurses were kind, she said. Dr. D. Wasantha said the teenager didn't mention the rape until a day after being admitted, and was initially treated for respiratory problems from inhaling water.
"She was very reluctant to talk and we didn't want to probe too much as she was already very upset and kept saying not to tell anyone," Wasantha said.
After learning of the rape, the doctor gave the young woman pills to prevent pregnancy.
"I don't want to talk to the police. They ask a lot of questions I don't understand and don't know how to respond," the teenager said, toying with the corner of her brown T-shirt.
The teenager lived a sheltered life before the tsunami, but she did go to college for a time, studying the Sinhalese language, political science and economics. She dropped out a year ago to take care of the family household.
"I want to be a journalist," she said when asked about the future. Her eyes lit up and she smiled faintly, but that faded when her aunt said they hoped some man would marry the teenager.
Her sister soon dampened any idea of a quick marriage: She said gossip already was swirling around the village, where rape brings stigma and shame to the victim rather than the rapist.
Affidavit describes grisly slaying January 06, 2005 12:38 PM
CARIBOU — The pretty, young night supervisor at the Tim Hortons restaurant was savagely beaten and left to die in the employee bathroom Sunday night while her alleged assailant waited on customers at the counter and drive-through window, according to a court document.
After Erin Sperrey, 20, of Presque Isle was beaten to death, her body was dragged from the bloody bathroom of the Bennett Drive doughnut shop and placed in the back seat of her car.
Shortly after midnight, her body was found by police in the abandoned car 120 miles south on Interstate 95 near Lincoln.
The state medical examiner’s office said Tuesday that an autopsy determined Sperrey had died of "multiple traumatic injuries."
According to a court affidavit presented Tuesday morning to Justice E. Allen Hunter in Aroostook County Superior Court, Christopher Shumway, 19, of Caribou told police he had beaten the young woman with his hands and feet and strangled her, leaving her to die in the bathroom while he waited on customers.
The court document points to robbery as a motive for the slaying, although police would not speculate on that possibility. Shumway admitted taking the cash box from the restaurant, according to the affidavit. Another employee verified that $1,200, including currency and rolled coins, was missing from the employee office.
Shumway made his initial court appearance on charges of murder and violation of probation. He was ordered held without bail.
A hearing to determine bail, if any, will be held within five days. During Tuesday’s court session, which lasted about 10 minutes, Shumway was told he wasn’t expected to enter a plea and that he shouldn’t make any statements. Justice Hunter also told Shumway that an attorney would be appointed to represent him.
Shumway tried to hang himself while police waited outside his motel room on Monday in Bangor, where he was apprehended, according to the affidavit. Jim Foss, Aroostook County Jail administrator, said Tuesday afternoon he could not say whether Shumway was on a suicide watch while in jail because of the confidentiality of medical records.
Aroostook County Sheriff James Madore said later that Shumway is "being watched closely." In court
During the hearing, Sperrey’s parents, Johna Lovely of Presque Isle and Kevin Sperrey of Mapleton were supported by 22 family members and friends. Lovely, with the hands of her husband, Kim Lovely, around her shoulders, sobbed and cried during the short hearing, her face showing the strain of the previous 36 hours.
Kevin Sperrey, sitting in a side seat, also showed the strain of losing his daughter. His face was drawn and flushed red.
"She was just a great person," Amanda Sperrey, Erin Sperrey’s sister, said outside the courtroom. "I just don’t know how anyone can do something like this to another person."
No family members apparently were in court to support Shumway.
Shumway, his hands and feet shackled, was subdued during his initial appearance. Dressed in Aroostook County Jail garb of gray T-shirt and pants, he was nearly inaudible when he answered "yes" when asked if he understood the charge against him. His dark hair was cropped within a half-inch of his scalp.
The young man stood motionless in front of Justice Hunter, lifting his eyes only a couple of times from the floor and his canvas prison shoes.
Security in the courtroom was tight. Six plainclothes detectives stood in the courtroom, while three uniformed Aroostook County deputy sheriffs stood next to Shumway and between him and the exit from the courtroom.
Lt. Dennis Appleton, head of the Maine State Police Criminal Investigation Division in northern Maine, said just before the court hearing that there was nothing new in the investigation of the case. Both Sperrey and Shumway had been working at Tim Hortons for several months since late summer. She was the night shift supervisor, and he was a staff member.
Shumway was on probation in connection with a misdemeanor charge of harassment by telephone sometime last year. The charge didn’t involve Sperrey, according to authorities. Shumway lived with his mother in Caribou.
Sperrey, who was unmarried, was a lifelong resident of the Washburn-Mapleton area and was living in Presque Isle.
She was described by a former teacher as a warm person who worked hard in life.
"She always had a smile and was a very warm person," Dave Bartlett, director of the Alternative Education School at Presque Isle High School, remembered Tuesday morning. "She was one of our success stories here. She was self-motivated, a very hard worker," he said. "She worked with prekindergarten children during her senior year on a program she developed, and the kids loved her." She took a college-level course on childhood development to help herself with that program, he said. Sperrey graduated from the school in 2002.
He said her death was hard on faculty who knew her and on her classmates, some of whom had called Bartlett since the news of her death surfaced Monday morning.
The affidavit The police affidavit filed by state police Detective Darryl J. Pelletier describes Shumway’s alleged killing of Sperrey.
Shumway reportedly told his grisly story to state police Detectives Anna Fizel and Jay Peary after he was arrested at 6:45 a.m. Monday at Motel 6 on outer Hammond Street in Bangor.
According to the affidavit, Shumway’s attack started when Sperrey went into the shop’s freezer during the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. Shumway followed her, pushed her down, and Sperrey struck her head. He took Sperrey’s car keys from her before they left the freezer. Outside the freezer, Shumway told police he apologized for his actions and gave Sperrey back her keys. Sperrey said she had to leave, and the two struggled. Sperrey was screaming, according to the affidavit.
Shumway told police he started to strangle Sperrey: "She was fighting for her life," the document stated. "The fight moved into the bathroom. Shumway kicked Sperrey in the head, mouth and chest. Blood came out of Sperrey’s mouth," the statement reads.
"Shumway left Sperrey in the bathroom to wait on customers at the counter and drive-through. When Shumway left Sperrey she was breathing and when Shumway returned, Sperrey was not breathing. Shumway dragged Sperrey out to her car and put her in the back seat," according to the statement. Shumway then took the store’s cash box from the office, drove to Fort Fairfield for gas and cigarettes and continued to drive south.
Crime unravels The murder and robbery started to unravel hours before Shumway lost control of Sperrey’s car on I-95 just north of Lincoln and ended up in the median strip down a 20-foot embankment. Shortly before 8 p.m., Corey Searles and his girlfriend, Laura Cyr, stopped at the drive-through of the Caribou restaurant. Getting no response at both drive-through windows, Searles entered the doughnut shop and called out without getting a response. Cyr contacted her father, Joe Cyr, a retired U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Joe Cyr called the Caribou Police Department, and Officer Douglas Bell searched the restaurant, finding no one. He observed blood in the bathroom and the disarray of the office and then called restaurant manager Marie Possocco, who ascertained that $1,200 was missing. She told police that Sperrey and Shumway were working the shift.
Later, state police Detective Joshua Haines and Trooper Chuck Michaud found blood splattered on the floor by the drive-through window and on the floor behind the counter in the main lobby. Blood was found on the floor of the rear storage area hallway that leads to the employee bathroom, on the bathroom floor, on the wall under the sink and on the toilet seat.
"The blood appeared to be a high velocity, very fine, spatter particles," according to the affidavit. The investigators also found footprints in the blood on the bathroom floor.
The detectives found drag marks on the bathroom floor and in the rear hallway leading to the rear exit of the building. A crumpled contact lens was found on the bathroom floor along with a single silver earring. Inside the freezer, they found bread rolls on the floor and a silver earring matching the one in the bathroom.
A friend of Shumway’s, Darlene Dubois, told police that Shumway had talked about robbing a place and using the money to flee to Massachusetts.
Trooper Barry Meserve found the lifeless body of a female in the rear seat of Sperrey’s 1999 green Kia at about 12:30 a.m. Monday in the southbound lane of I-95 at mile 231 in Township 2 Range 8. "The female’s face showed signs of a severe beating," according to the affidavit.
Police learned Monday that after Shumway left the restaurant, he headed south in Sperrey’s car, losing control of the vehicle in a snowstorm on I-95. A Dedham family driving home from Presque Isle picked up Shumway and gave him a lift to Bangor.
Other detectives with the Bangor Police Department and the state police found out that Shumway had registered at Motel 6 at 2:23 a.m. Monday, just 15 minutes before police inquired. He paid in cash, including rolled coins.
The room was kept under surveillance until 5:08 a.m. when police tried to make contact with the young man. Getting no response and concerned about his well-being, the police made a forced entry. Shumway was sitting on the bed wearing a shirt and pants, smoking a cigarette, and he had his hands in the air.
He told police they needed a warrant. Police left, keeping the room under surveillance. They returned at 6:45 a.m. and arrested him for Sperrey’s murder.
In the interim, according to the affidavit, Shumway tried to hang himself by wrapping the telephone cord around his neck and tying it to a clothes rack. He also inflicted superficial wounds on his forearms with a box cutter.
Funeral services for Sperrey will be held Friday afternoon at a Presque Isle funeral home. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to establish a fund for businesses to use to install security devices to protect young people working at night for them.
Man Charged Under Patriot Act for Laser January 04, 2005 8:08 PM
By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press Writer
NEWARK, N.J. - Federal authorities Tuesday used the Patriot Act to charge a man with pointing a laser beam at an airplane overhead and temporarily blinding the pilot and co-pilot.
The FBI acknowledged the incident had no connection to terrorism but called David Banach's actions "foolhardy and negligent."
Banach, 38, of Parsippany admitted to federal agents that he pointed the light beam at a jet and a helicopter over his home near Teterboro Airport last week, authorities said. Initially, he claimed his daughter aimed the device at the helicopter, they said.
He is the first person arrested after a recent rash of reports around the nation of laser beams hitting airplanes.
Banach was charged only in connection with the jet. He was accused of interfering with the operator of a mass transportation vehicle and making false statements to the FBI, and was released on $100,000 bail. He could get up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
Banach's lawyer, Gina Mendola-Longarzo, said her client was simply using the hand-held device to look at stars with his daughter on the family's deck. She said Banach bought the device on the Internet for $100 for his job testing fiber-optic cable.
"He wasn't trying to harm any person, any aircraft or anything like that," she said.
The jet, a chartered Cessna Citation, was coming in for a landing last Wednesday with six people aboard when a green light beam struck the windshield three times at about 3,000 feet, according to court documents. The flash temporarily blinded both the pilot and co-pilot, but they were later able to land the plane safely, authorities said.
"Not only was the safety of the pilot and passengers placed in jeopardy by Banach's actions, so were countless innocent civilians on the ground in this densely populated area," said Joseph Billy, agent in charge of the FBI's Newark bureau.
Then, on Friday, a helicopter carrying Port Authority detectives was hit by a laser beam as its crew surveyed the area to try to pinpoint the origin of the original beam.
According to the FBI, the Patriot Act does not describe helicopters as "mass transportation vehicles." As for why Banach was not charged with some other offense over the helicopter incident, Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, did not immediately return calls for comment.
A few hours after the helicopter was hit by the laser, FBI agents canvassed Banach's neighborhood, trying to find the source of the beams. Banach told the agents it was his daughter who shined the laser at the helicopter, according to court papers.
Similar incidents have been reported in Colorado Springs, Colo., Cleveland, Washington, Houston and Medford, Ore., raising fears that the light beams could temporarily blind cockpit crews and lead to accidents.
Last month, the FBI and the Homeland Security Department sent a memo to law enforcement agencies saying there is evidence that terrorists have explored using lasers as weapons. But federal officials have said there is no evidence any the current incidents represent a terrorist plot.
Man Pleads Guilty in Tsunami Death E-Mail Case January 03, 2005 10:11 AM
Mon Jan 3, 9:15 AM ET
LONDON (Reuters) - A British man admitted Monday to sending hoax emails to friends and relatives of people missing since the Asian tsunami.
Christopher Pierson pleaded guilty to sending more than 30 emails to worried relatives, saying their loved ones had been confirmed dead, after they posted their details on the Web Site of TV station Sky News.
Pierson, 37, from Ruskington in Lincolnshire, eastern England, was to be detained until January 24, an official at London's Horseferry Road Magistrates Court said.
Pierson pleaded guilty to charges of malicious communication and causing a public nuisance after police seized computer equipment at the weekend.
Pierson is accused of posing as a British official from the "Foreign Office Bureau" in Thailand in his emails. All the messages came from one bogus email address, email@example.com.
Sky News said it was "disgusted" that its Web site had been abused and contacted police as soon as it found out.
The death toll from the tsunami, triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off western Indonesia a week ago, stood at almost 144,000 Monday, including at least 40 Britons.
JACKSONMiss. - Charges are pending against a man accused of slamming his truck into a car on Interstate 20. Police say Tommy Vargas, 37, of Jackson, sped off from a routine traffic stop in Brandon, Miss.
The chase reportedly topped 100 mph as the Vargas headed west in the eastbound lanes of I-20. The chase ended when Vargas allegedly slammed into a car driven by David Coon, 59. Coon died a short time later.
Vargas remains in a hospital.
Brandon resident Dennis O'Dell said he and his father narrowly escaped the same fate.
"I saw the man's airbag go off and his windows blow out," said O'Dell. "Cars in front of us were dodging police cars. Police cars were dodging cars. The man they were chasing was dodging cars."
After the crash, police said Vargas jumped off the I-20 bridge. He broke his legs. Coon died at University Medical Center. O'Dell admitted he doesn't know the full story, but thinks it should have had a much better ending.
"I know police have a tough job and I wouldn't want it, but I think the outcome could have been different," said O'Dell.
US Lawyer Helped Spread Terror Message - Prosecutor December 31, 2004 8:46 AM
Wed Dec 29, 3:02 PM ET
By Gail Appleson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. criminal defense lawyer was part of a plot to help her militant Muslim client smuggle messages out of prison calling for a return to violence in Egypt and the killing of Jews wherever they are, a federal prosecutor said on Wednesday.
The accusations were made in closing arguments in the closely watched case against Lynne Stewart, a liberal New York lawyer known for representing the poor and unpopular. Stewart, 65, has denied any wrongdoing and said she followed ethical rules that guide an attorney's behavior.
Her case is being followed by the nation's defense lawyers, some of whom are worried the Bush administration is trying to intimidate attorneys who represent suspected terrorists and other unpopular clients.
She is charged with breaking the law while working for radical cleric Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. He was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack U.S. targets and is serving a life sentence. Prosecutors say the plot included the 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center.
The most serious charge against Stewart, providing material support to terrorists, carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.
Stewart, together with the cleric's former paralegal and his translator, used attorney-client visits to the prison to take Abdel-Rahman's "terroristic" messages out of prison and deliver them to his violent followers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember said.
"They broke Abdel-Rahman out of jail, not literally but figuratively. They made him available to other criminals, the worst kind of criminals -- terrorists," Dember told the court.
MESSAGES FROM RIFAI TAHA
The three are accused of helping Abdel-Rahman communicate with the Islamic Group, which prosecutors say is a terrorist organization and the cleric is its spiritual leader.
Among the charges is that they helped pass messages from Rifai Taha, a militant Islamic Group leader, to Abdel-Rahman in prison. Taha urged the end of the cease-fire that the group had observed since its 1997 attack that killed close to 60 foreign tourists in Luxor, Egypt.
Dember said the Luxor attack was a hallmark of the Islamic Group.
"They committed this horrific act in the name of Abdel-Rahman to achieve his release," he said. "All they achieved was bloody murder."
In 2000, Stewart called a Reuters correspondent in Egypt and read a statement issued by the cleric saying he had withdrawn his support for the cease-fire. That correspondent was subpoenaed in the case.
Dember also accused defendant Ahmed Abdel Sattar, the cleric's former paralegal, of helping to draft a 2000 fatwa, or religious order, issued in Abdel-Rahman's name calling on Muslim men to "fight the Jews and kill them wherever they are found."
Stewart has denied condoning the fatwa.
The case against Stewart includes charges that she violated signed agreements to follow special prison restrictions aimed at preventing Abdel-Rahman from sending messages that could result in violence.
The rules limited the cleric's access to mail, the media, phones and visitors. Dember said Stewart signed an agreement on the restrictions but had no intention of abiding by it.
Pearl Police Say Teen Stole $2,500 From Grandparents
JACKSONMiss. - Pearl police are looking for a teenager who allegedly stole more than $2,500 from her grandparents. Police said Tina "Noelle" Couey, 16, used her grandparents' debit cards to clean out their account Monday.
Now the grandparents can't pay their bills, and they worry Couey will use the money to buy drugs.
"She needs to come home and get help, because we love her regardless," said Couey's grandmother, Judy Fortenberry.
Couey's mother is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence for armed robbery.
Pearl police plan to charge the girl with grand larceny once she is found.
Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call police at (601) 939-7000.
Rankin Inmate Used Back Pain Ruse To Escape, Officers Say
JACKSONMiss. - An escaped inmate was back in custody Wednesday morning after several hours on the run. Corrections officers said Jeffrey Elkins, 33, was taken to the University Medical Center Tuesday morning after he complained of back pain.
But the Rankin County inmate never saw a doctor, officers said. Instead, the shackled and handcuffed inmate managed to escape from a private security guard.
Elkins was on the run for nearly seven hours before police found him on the hospital property.
A mother is grieving the shooting death of her son this holiday season. Patricia Ferguson can't help but ask why it happened, especially since the suspect is a man she mentored.
Ferguson's 14-year-old son, John, was killed in November on Queen Christina Lane in Jackson.
Michael Lewis, 23, is charged in the crime. Patricia Ferguson worked at Provine High School, where Lewis was a student.
"(Lewis) would come in, and I knew he was enduring and going through some things," she said. "I would say, 'Mike, come here. Let me talk to you.' And he would talk to me about a lot of things. I would say, 'Mike, if you put God first, everything will fall into place. But you have to be responsible, and you have to be accountable.'"
Lewis was out on bond for a firearms charge when John Ferguson was killed.
Lewis will face a judge on that charge in March.
He could go before a grand jury early next year for Ferguson's death.
12/13/04Alleged Rape Victim's Family Fears Officer Will Get Special Treatment
JACKSON Miss. - Jackson police Officer Perry Coleman surrendered to police Thursday and is being held without bond at the Raymond Detention Center on a charge of child rape. Coleman's alleged victim, a 13-year-old girl, is undergoing counseling, and her family is concerned the officer will receive special treatment.
When Coleman was brought to court, TV cameras were kept behind a fence and at a considerable distance compared to other suspects who walked the same path.
Police sources said the order to keep Coleman out of the camera's view came from his own brother-in-law, Deputy Chief Gerald Jones.
When asked about the order, Jones he had "nothing to do with it."
Meanwhile, the victim's family is being guarded in their public comments about the case.
"We trusted him so fast because he was an officer," the victim's mother said in a Wednesday interview. "I thought he would have been a good mentor for her."
Since then, however, the victim's mother said the police chief has asked her not to talk to the media. The family has now hired an attorney.
When 16 WAPT tried to ask Jackson Police Chief Robert Moore about the mentoring role a the officer had with the girl, a reporter was told, for the second day in a row, that Moore was not available and could not be located, even though Moore's black Dodge Durango was parked in his spot at police headquarters.
Coleman is under protective custody at the Raymond Detention Center, kept from the other inmate population because he is a police officer.
12/13/04Jury Sentences Lee To Die By Lethal Injection
Convicted murderer Derrick Todd Lee is now formally sentenced to die by lethal injection for murdering Jackson native Charlotte Murray Pace. During Friday morning's hearing, Pace's mother and sister both had opportunities to speak directly to Lee.
Ann Pace showed him a picture of her daughter after the brutal attack and said, "This is how you left her."
Sam Pace said she considered speaking to Lee about her sister, but in the end, decided victims aren't what Lee cares about.
"He sees them as inhumane, so [I] decided to tell him how he's going to die, so he has something to think about," she said.
Sam Pace told Lee she would be there at his execution.
Lee's attorneys filed motions for a new trial, but those were denied. They also plan to appeal his death sentence.