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Friday, January 31, 2014

Where Is Leanne Bearden?

     In 1999, Leanne Hecht from Roswell, Georgia graduated from the University of Georgia. With her degree in marketing, she moved to Denver, Colorado after being offered a job there. In 2008, Leanne began dating Josh Bearden, a Denver resident from Garden Ridge, Texas. Bearden had graduated from Texas A & M and possessed a degree in marketing as well. The couple were married in 2009.

     Leanne and Josh, in March 2012, left their home in Denver to embark on a trip around the world. Twenty-two months later, after visiting 56 countries and blogging about their adventures, they returned to the United States.

     In December 2013, following a short stay with Leanne's family in Roswell, Georgia, the pair traveled to Garden Ridge, Texas to visit his folks. They had scheduled a flight back to Denver for January 21, 2014.

     Early Friday afternoon, on January 17, 2014, Leanne left the Garden Ridge house to hike in the rugged west Texas terrain northeast of San Antonio. The five-foot, 100 pound woman with two piercings on her left ear, wore hiking shoes and a pair of jeans. She did not take her cellphone, but was in possession of $60 and a couple of credit cards.

     At 5:30 PM that Friday, when Leanne didn't return home from her outing, Josh reported his wife missing. At eight the next morning, officers withe the Garden Ridge Police Department and the Comal County Sheriff's Office, accompanied by 150 volunteer civilians, a contingent of Texas National Guard members, Texas Rangers and a search and rescue team, launched a massive search for the missing 33-year-old. A pair of helicopters, for three hours, flew over a 23-mile-square patch of landscape that features boulders, cliffs, and caves. The search produced no clues as to what happened to Leanne Bearden.

     Leanne had been missing a week when a group in Denver held a fundraiser to solicit money to hire a private missing persons investigator named Charles Parker.

     Assuming Leanne wasn't abducted or murdered, she either ran off, got lost, or suffered an injury. She could have twisted an ankle or fallen off a cliff. It seems rather odd, however, that given the hostile terrain, and the possibility of getting injured or lost, she did not leave the house with her cellphone.

     On January 29, 2014, a member of the missing woman's family posted the following message on Facebook: "The pressure of transitioning from her two-year trip back into what we consider "normal" life seems to have left Leanne very anxious and stressed. As a result there is evidence that Leanne may have voluntarily left the area….We initially believed that she was somewhere in the local area. However, after much searching…no evidence has been found of her presence. If Leanne has indeed fled this area, she is extremely vulnerable. She left with only a few assets and is traveling very light. Although she is athletic, she is small in stature. Her mental and physical status is uncertain. We fear for her greatly."

     On Thursday, February 13, 2014, a Garden Ridge police spokesperson announced that Leanne Bearden's body was found in a wooded area not far from her in-law's house. Jewelry and identification cards were with the body. An autopsy will determine her cause and manner of death.

     According to media reports, Bearden's body was discovered hanging from a tree. The area where she was found had been searched several times by members of her family. As a result, it was not included in the search conducted by law enforcement agencies, volunteers, and search and rescue crews.

     On Friday, February 14, 2014, Garden Ridge Police Chief Donna O'Conner announced that the autopsy results reveal that Leanne Bearden committed suicide. The case is closed.



Criminal Justice Quote: Man Arrested for Trying to Buy a 10-Year-Old Girl

     On January 12, 2014, Alliance Ohio police arrested a Cuyahoga Falls man after he tried to purchase a 10-year-old girl for sex from an undercover police officer. Robert W. Thomas Jr., 36, was arrested…following a weeklong investigation….Thomas requested a child in the 5-to 8-year range, offering to pay $400 in cash for her. The man told the undercover officer that he wished to keep the child permanently at his home to engage in sexual conduct and, police say, to "train her to please him."…

     Alliance detectives also executed a search warrant at Thomas' home. They found a computer, electronic storage devices, sexual paraphernalia, videos and several firearms….He has been charged with trafficking in persons, attempted kidnapping, attempted rape and possessing criminal tools. He is being held in the Stark County Jail on $2 million bond.

Staff report, WKTC News Cleveland, January 12, 2014




Criminal Justice Quote: The Suicide and Alleged Rape of a University of Missouri Student

     The University of Missouri is launching an independent investigation into allegations that several football players raped a MU swimmer. That swimmer, 20-year-old Sasha Menue Courey, killed herself three years ago, but a recent report airing on ESPN initiated new calls for an investigation. MU officials are upset with ESPN's report which suggests the University should have done more to investigate these allegations of rape….

     Courey went to the MU psychiatric ward in the spring of 2011 and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, She told the counselor a football player raped her in February of 2010. And a football friend of hers says he saw video of at least three football players assaulting her….

     Sasha's parents told ESPN they didn't trust MU officials since the university was slow to react to their request for information after their daughter's death.

Matt Stewart, "University of Missouri on the Defense After ESPN Reports Swimmer's Alleged Rape, Suicide," Fox News, January 27, 2014

     

Writing Quote: Can Writing Be Taught

     I find it both fascinating and disconcerting when I discover yet another person who believes that writing can't be taught. Frankly, I don't understand this point of view.

     I've long believed that there are two distinct but equally important halves to the writing process: One of these is related to art; the other is related to craft. Obviously, art cannot be taught. No one can give another human being the soul of an artist, the sensibility of a writer, or the passion to put words on paper that is the gift and the curse of those who fashion poetry and prose. But it's ludicrous to suggest and shortsighted to believe that the fundamentals of fiction can't be taught.

Elizabeth Gorge, Write Away, 2004

Criminal Justice Quote: Catholic School Alumni Turned Porn Star Goes to Jail

     In a gross and shocking miscarriage of justice, a Nebraska county judge handed down a harsh 45-day sentence to Catholic school-girl-turned-porn-actress Valerie Dodd, the Rosa Parks of the publicly nude. One evening some months ago, 19-year-old Dodd took her one-woman act to Lincoln Pius X High School in Lincoln, Nebraska. A former student of the Catholic school, Dodd--who now goes by the stage name "Val Midwest'--wanted revenge on teachers and ex-classmates who had said mean things about her new career, so she took pictures of herself in the buff on school grounds….

     Police ticketed her for trespassing and public nudity. Undeterred, this modern-day civil rights hero returned to the school wearing only pasties and panties--an act of sexy civil disobedience, if ever there was one.

     The court did not take kindly to Dodd's subversive art and activism….

Robby Soave, "Teen Porn Star Who Got Nude on Catholic School Grounds Gets 45 Days in Jail," The Daily Caller, December 27, 2013


Criminal Justice Quote: Stephen Glass' Shattered Dream of Practicing Law

     Disgraced ex-journalist Stephen Glass' dream of becoming a California lawyer has been shattered, at least for the foreseeable future. The California Supreme Court on January 27, 2014 rejected Glass' bid to secure a state bar license, concluding that he had not overcome the stain of his tarnished and infamous past as a journalist who fabricated stories for prominent publications in the late 1990s.

     Glass has been pursuing a law license for years, arguing that he deserves a second chance in a new profession after his much-pulicized fall for concocting bogus accounts for magazines such as the New Republic and Rolling Stone. Glass' journalistic exploits led to a book and a movie, "Shattered Glass."…

Howard Mintz, "Disgraced Ex-Journalist Stephen Glass Loses Bid to be California Lawyer," San Jose Mercury News, January 17, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Writing Quote: Lajos Egri on Originality

     In the arts we cannot discover startling originality--only trends, styles, twists, slants, tricks, exaggeration, minimization, emphasis on parts instead of the whole. Originality, then, is rare in the field of literature and, for that matter, in all fields of art.

     If we consider originality almost non-existent, then what shall a writer strive for? Characterization. Living, vibrating human beings are still the secret and magic formula of great and enduring writing. Read, or better, study the immortals and you will be forced to conclude that their unusual penetration into human character is what has kept their work fresh and alive through centuries, and not because they may have a new "slant" which seemed to many to be "original."

Lajos Egri, The Art of Creative Writing, 1990 

Criminal Justice Quote: Airport Drug Cash

     It started when police found $7.2 million stuffed in eight suitcases at a Panama airport. Investigators say they suspect the cash, which had been concealed in hidden compartments in luggage on a flight from Honduras, was being moved for a powerful cartel, but they haven't said which one. The money was mostly in U.S. $100 bills….

     In a case that highlights the regional impacts of the drug trade, now Honduran investigators are trying to figure out how the suitcases slipped by airport authorities, drug police and special investigators at the Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. [Let me guess: police payoffs.]

Catherine E. Shoichet, "Police Find $7.2 Million Cash Stashed in Suitcases at Airport," CNN, January 15, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Heroin High

     The nearest I can come to explaining to someone who doesn't take illegal drugs the unrecapturable [I don't think this is a word] specialness of your first heroin high is to invoke the deep satisfaction of your first cup of coffee in the morning. Your subsequent coffees may be pleasant enough, but they're all marred by not being the first. And heroin use is one of the indisputable cases where the good old days really were the good old days. The initial highs did feel better than the drug will ever make you feel again.

     The chemistry of the drug is ruthless: it is designed to disappoint you. Yes, once in a while there's a night when you get exactly where you're trying to go. Magic. Then you chase that memory for a month. But precisely because you so want to get there it becomes harder and harder. Your mind starts playing tricks on you. Scrutinizing the high, it weakens. You wonder if you're quite as high as you should be….Ah for the good old days when heroin felt wonderful. If I had to offer up a one sentence definition of addiction, I'd call it a form of mourning for the irrecoverable glories of the first time.

Ann Marlowe, How To Stop Time, 1999

Criminal Justice Quote: Are Men All Potential Murderers?

When a murder occurs, the search is for motive as well as weapon. Hypotheses generally center around passion, greed, and uncontrollable anger. All of the above related factors have often been seen as at least comprehensible, if deplorable. After all, some say, how can a man stomach his wife's affair with another man or her consideration of another relationship? Although money as a reason for murder is perceived as unacceptable knavery, acquisition of financial resources is recognized as a goal toward which, of necessity, most strive throughout most of their lives. Regarding uncontrollable rage, anger is an emotion with which everyone must struggle, and all deal with it imperfectly. "A man can take just so much," has been one way the killer's apologist has attempted to explain an apparently senseless murder.

Constance A. Bean, Women Murdered By The Men They Loved, 1992 

Criminal Justice Quote: Not All Interrogated Suspects are Guilty

The goal of any interrogation, by definition, is to elicit a confession from a guilty party, not to investigate the truth of a denial. The common tactics used to gain confessions are based on the idea that only guilty people are interrogated in the first place. In theory, when a suspect is brought in for questioning, detectives begin with an "interview," in which information is gathered and the police make an assessment as to the guilt or innocence of the party. In this step, a non-accusatory question-and-answer period is meant to allow the detective an opportunity to gather more information and to make observations about the suspect that might indicate that he is lying. Once they decide that they are speaking with a guilty party, the interrogation begins. Detectives often believe that they are experts at separating truth from lies, but studies have shown that this is a false confidence.

Sarah Burns, The Central Park Five, 2011

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Who Can Afford College?

     The average cost of tuition, room and board at private four-year colleges and universities has increased 27.89 percent--from $31,993 during the 2008-2009 academic year to $40,917 this year [2014]. At public four-year colleges and universities, the average cost has risen 27.96 percent--from $14, 372 in 2008-2009 to $18,391 this year.

     According to the inflation calculator provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the $31,993 total price tag for a private school in 2008 would be equal to just $34,616 at the end of 2013 if college costs rose at the rate of inflation--a far cry from the $40,917 an average student is paying this year. Similarly, the $14,372 total price tag for a public school in 2008 would be equal to just $15,550 at the end of 2013--substantially less than the $18,391 an average student at a taxpayer-funded public school is paying this year.

Eric Owens, The Daily Caller, January 22, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The JonBenet Ramsey Case was Bungled by Investigative Hacks

     ….The Boulder police union's contract requires that police officers regularly and frequently rotate through the various units--traffic, patrol, and investigations--rather than developing extensive experience in a particular area. Thus, Boulder police rotate in and out of detective duty, which is highly desirable for the officers because they don't have to work weekends or wear uniforms, but also means that relatively untrained detectives have to handle criminal cases. This is a major difference from employment contracts in other Colorado cities.

     Imagine how we [John and Patsy Ramsey] felt when we learned than an officer who had only been a detective for several months was one of the major police investigators on the case.

     Our friends began telling us that the Boulder police detectives were contacting them and saying things like, "The Ramseys think you may have something to do with the death of their daugher. Would you like to tell us anything about the Ramseys?" A standard interrogation technique. Bias the witness against a suspect and let them spill their guts out. We also heard the police made comments like, "The Ramseys refuse to talk with us. Will you help us?"

John and Patsy Ramsey, The Death of Innocence, 2000

Criminal Justice Quote: The Mark Young Marijuana Sentencing Case

     In the state of Indiana, a person convicted of armed robbery will serve about six years in prison; someone convicted of rape will serve about eight; and a convicted murderer can expect to spend twenty-five years behind bars. These figures are actually higher than the nation average: eleven years and four months in prison is the typical punishment for an American found guilty of murder….

     [In 1990, 38-year-old Mark Young] was arrested at his Indianapolis home for brokering the sale of seven hundred pounds of marijuana grown on a farm in nearby Morgan County. Young was tried and convicted under federal law. He had never before been charged with drug trafficking. He had no history of violent crime. Young's sole role in the illegal transaction had been that of a middleman--he never distributed the drugs; he simply introduced two people hoping to sell a large amount of marijuana to three people wishing to buy it. The offense occurred a year and a half before his arrest. No confiscated marijuana, money, or physical evidence of any kind linked Young to the crime. He was convicted solely on the testimony of co-conspirators who were now cooperating with the government. On February 8, 1992, Mark Young was sentenced by federal judge Sarah Evans Barker to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

Eric Schlosser, Reefer Madness, 2003

Criminal Justice Quote: Arrest First, Ask Questions Later

     A compassionate Houston driver who gave some change to a homeless man was later wrongfully arrested on police suspicion that his charity was part of a drug deal. During a late-night drive, Greg Snider pulled into an empty parking lot to make a call on his cell phone. A homeless man approached him and asked for money. Snider gave him 75 cents in change before continuing his drive….

     A police car pulled Snider over. The officer ordered him out of his car, handcuffed him and put him in the back of the police car….The officer told Snider that he had seen him make a drug deal. Eventually, as many as 10 police cars approached the scene….Snider agreed to let the officer search his car…After an hour-long search, officers were forced to admit that the man had no drugs, and let him go. The police laughed all the while--apparently, they found it hilarious that they had detained an innocent man for over an hour over a misunderstanding. [Had the driver made a "furtive move," he may have been shot.]

Robby Soave, The Daily Caller, January 17, 2014 

Writing Quote: Getting Into a Writing Program

     When I went to writing school, I craved rules. I craved a mentor, and the revelation of secrets, and the permission to write scads, and most of all I craved the confirmation that I could write. In other words, I was like practically everyone else.

    What a mystique writing programs have! A sense of promise emanates from their doors, wafts up from the embossed paper bearing their letterheads. I felt that being accepted to one, and especially to that bizarrely exotic one nestled in the middle of America, Iowa, was like being chosen for an initiation into mysteries. After all, what could be more mysterious than learning how to write?

Bonnie Friedman, Writing Past Dark, 1994 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Professional Criminal

     Professional crime is primarily a money crime. This its essential character. For the professional criminal--whether white, black or brown, immigrant or native-born, child of middle-class or of poverty--the motive force is business….

     Professional crime is not radical violence, sex crime, or violence for violence sake. The vicious beating of some old lady for the change in her handbag is not the quintessence of professional crime. Neither is the pointless assassination of random victims by a sniper on top of a university tower. These sorts of crime are the handiwork of amateurs, psychopaths, adventurers--not professional criminals.

     A great deal of crime in America is disorganized crime. It arises out of frustration, spur-of-the moment impulse, recklessness and, above all, thoughtlessness.

     By comparison, professional crime is organized crime; the acts are those of calculation, tradition and, occasionally, seasoned opportunism.

     The professional-criminal tradition in America dates back to Prohibition and extends profitably into the present. Along the road to riches professional criminals acquired a vast arsenal of profit-making techniques. They have improved, expanded and refined these techniques. From their perspective they have constantly sought to advance the state of their art.

Thomas Plate, Crime Pays, 1975

Criminal Justice Quote: Catherine Wood and Gwendoline Graham: Angels of Death

     Killing to ease the stress of a bad day was part of the strategy adopted by care assistants Catherine Wood and Gwendoline Graham at the Alpine Manor Nursing Home in Walter, Michigan. To make their game more fun, they selected their elderly victims in a sequence whereby the first letter of their names spelled out the word, M.U.R.D.E.R….
 
     Wood and Graham were lesbian lovers and while they both received satisfactory job reviews, their nursing home colleagues had suspicions about their behavior. For one thing, the pair liked to boast about the callous way they treated some of their patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease which included taking souvenirs such as trinkets and ornaments. Colleagues were not sure how seriously to take things they were told.

     After a series of eight deaths at the nursing home, some of these boasts landed on fertile ground. Wood's ex-huband heard stories about patients being suffocated and, after months of indecision, eventually went to the police. The two women were arrested in December 1988 and charged with murder….

     Wood was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to twenty to forty years imprisonment while Graham, found guilty of six murders, was sentenced to life with no hope of parole.

Robin Odell, The Mammoth Book of Bizarre Crimes, 2010




Writing Quote: Applying the Rules of Grammar

There's one thing to remember about the rules of grammar….They are not rigid; they change as our perceptions of our language change. What satisfied our eighth-grade teacher certainly won't satisfy an editor, but then our eighth-grade teacher wasn't trying to be an editor. The rules, however, were there to be learned, and once we learned them, we could believe they applied only when they made our work better.

William Noble, Noble's Book of Writing Blunders, 2006

Criminal Justice Quote: Prison Rape by Guards

     New data suggests that inmates have just as much to fear from their guards as they do from each other: Nearly half of all sexual assaults in U.S. jails and prisons are committed by corrections officers and staff. That statistic actually represents an uptick in reported cases of sexual assault. Accusations of rape against prison guards and staff rose 18 percent between 2006 and 2011--the most recent year for which data is available--according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics….

     According to the statistics, in cases where the accusation was found credible, 77.1 percent of the victims--and 80 percent of the perpetrators--were male. More than a third of the victims were 24-years-old or younger….

     Some experts think rape between guards and prisoners is actually occurring at an even higher frequency than the number of accusations suggest….

Robby Soave, "The Horrible Truth: Half of All Prison Rape is Committed by Guards," The Daily Caller, January 24, 2014




     

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sex Trafficking at the Super Bowl

     Big public events that attract tens of thousands of people also draw criminals such as thieves, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Many of the hookers are teenage women, runaways forced into the sex trade. For police administrators big events are law enforcement and security headaches. If crime is prevented, no big deal. If something goes wrong, there's hell to pay. For law enforcement, events like the Super Bowl are no-win propositions.

     The Super Bowl presents an enormous challenge to law enforcement practitioners. While the first concern is terrorism, there is also the problem of crime. On February 2, 2014, the annual Super Bowl extravaganza will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the home of the NFL's New Jersey Giants. The proximity of this venue to New York City will make it an attractive base of operation for a small army of flesh traffickers.

     Danielle Douglas, an anti-prostitution activist has said that the "Super Bowl is a huge arena for sex trafficking--men are coming to the event to have sex with women, men and/or children." For the past several years in New Jersey, police agencies have been waging a losing battle against pimps who keep young prostitutes on drugs and in conditions of involuntary servitude.

      Early in 2013, the New Jersey legislature strengthened the state's human trafficking law. But in August of that year, a federal judge struck down the portion of the legislation that applied to criminalizing the placing of commercial sex ads online. According to the judge, that section of New Jersey's law conflicted with federal sex trafficking legislation. New Jersey's attorney general has appealed the federal ruling.

     In anticipation of this year's big game, New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman created a Super Bowl task force to deal with the expected wave of pimps and their sex slaves. Police officers assigned to Super Bowl detail are being trained to look for young women who seem frightened, or bear signs of physical abuse. Also receiving this training are hospitality workers and airport employees.

     The state is publishing public information ads profiling exploited sex trade victims, and law enforcement hotlines have been put into operation. It's doubtful, however, than these measures will make much of a dent in the annual Super Bowl sex business.

     

Criminal Justice Quote: O.J. Simpson's Outrageous Take on Nicole Brown's Murder

I wonder sometimes what Nicole was thinking at the end. I think now about what must have been going through her head when she realized what was about to happen to her, oh man. It hurts me to think about it. I would have put up a fight, I would have protected Nicole, you know. I'll never hear my kids say "Mommy" again. That hurts me every day. I know it hurts my kids, too. [O.J. Simpson to an adoring fan prior to his murder trial.]

O.J. Simpson, I Want to Tell You, 1994

Writing Quote: Elizabeth George on Sherlock Holmes and Imperfect Characters

     No one wants to read about perfect characters. Since no reader is perfect, there is nothing more disagreeable than spending free time immersed in a story about an individual who leaps tall buildings of emotion, psyche, body, and spirit in a single bound. Would anyone want a person as a friend, tediously perfect in every way? Probably not. Thus, a character possessing perfection in one area should possess imperfection in another area.

     Sir Arthur Conan Doyle understood this, which is one of the reasons that his Sherlock Holmes has stood the test of time for more than one hundred years and counting. Holmes has the perfect intellect. The man is a virtual machine of cogitation. But he's an emotional black hole incapable of a sustained relationship with anyone except Dr. Watson, and on top of that, he abuses drugs. He has a series of rather quirky habits, and he's unbearably supercilious. As a character "package," he emerges unforgetably from the pages of Conon Doyle's stories. Consequently, it's difficult to believe that any reader of works written in English might not know who Sherlock Holmes is.

Elizabeth George, Write Away, 2004

Whackademia Quote: Elementary School Teacher Brought Pot-Laced Food to Employee Dinner

     Police in northern California have arrested an elementary school teacher after she allegedly brought marijuana-laced food to an after-hours employee pot-luck dinner. Teresa Gilmete Badger, a 47-year-old teacher at Matthew Turner Elementary School in Benicia, was arrested on January 24, 2014 on suspicion of poisoning after a six-week-long investigation….

     After the late-November 2013 get-together in the bay area town, several people reported feeling ill…At least one of the women tested positive for THC, the principal intoxicant in marijuana….A 15-year-old got sick after someone at the party brought leftovers home….

Ed Payne and Greg Morrison, "Police: Teacher Brought Marijuana-Laced Food to After Work Pot Luck," CNN, January 25, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Let Them Eat Bread

     Dozens of inmates in Arizona jails run by a sheriff who has been a controversial figure in the national immigration debate have been put on a diet of bread and water for desecrating U.S. flags that hang in each cell….Maricopa County lawman Joe Arpaio, who has been called "America's toughest sheriff," said 38 inmates were currently getting these meals twice a day as punishment for destroying government property while in custody at six jails.

     "These inmates have destroyed the American flag that was placed in their cells. Tearing them, writing on them, stepping on them, throwing them in the toilet, trash or wherever they feel," Arpaio said in a statement. "It's a disgrace to those who have fought for our country." The punishment will last for seven days, he said, and a second offense could bring 10 more days of the sparse diet.

     A sheriff's spokesman said the bread provides the daily requirement of calories and nutrients that is necessary….

David Schwartz, "Arizona Sheriff Puts Inmates on Bread and Water for Desecrating U.S. Flag," Reuters, January 24, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Berthoud Police Department: One of the Worst

     The police department in Berthoud, Colorado is so dysfunctional and mismanaged that town leaders are considering disbanding it, according to an in-depth article in the Fort Collins Colaradoan….The paper reported terrible morale, poorly secured assault rifles that aren't necessary for routine police work, and broken or poorly maintained equipment at the eight-officer department. [Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith] submitted a confidential report to the Berthoud town board detailing the department's myriad problems…"It has been reported that Chief Glenn Johnson was most often found in his office focused on computer work, or was absent much of the time he was scheduled to be at work," Sheriff Smith reported.

     "As a matter of fact," Smith wrote,  the evidence suggests a serious lack of control existed. The examples of outdated reference materials, clutter, disorganization, and the poor state of the evidence room and failed evidence procedures indicate that the chief did no walking around his department facility, or if he did, he ignored obvious inefficiency and problems."

     The Sheriff's office also found Chief Johnson hired officers who were unqualified and who displayed "warning signs of inappropriate and sometimes illegal behavior." He also found squad cars with bald tires, oil leaks and broken laptops. And he found that Johnson purchased several fully automatic "machine guns" from the military that are typically only used by SWAT units. Berthoud, with a population of about 5,000, does not have a SWAT unit….[Thank heavens.]

Greg Campbell, "Report: Scandal-Plagued Colorado Police Department is a Disaster," The Daily Caller, January 22, 2014




Sunday, January 26, 2014

What Happened to the New Jersey Couple Jorge Rodriguez and Melissa Pereira?

     Jorge Rodriguez, 24, and his girlfriend Melissa Pereira, one year older, had been in a relationship for more than two years. She worked as a production assistant with Fox News in New York City and was also the assistant director of the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson (New Jersey). Melissa resided with her mother at the Wayne Village apartment complex in Wayne, New Jersey. Jorge, the manager of a photography studio, lived in Garfield, New Jersey.

     On Friday night, December 27, 2013, the couple told Melissa's mother they were taking a short drive in Jorge's white Honda Prelude. She left the apartment with her cellphone but left behind her jacket and wallet. People saw the couple that night buying candles at a local K-Mart store.

     The next morning, Melissa was not back in her apartment and Jorge did not show up for work at the photography studio. On Monday, December 30, family members reported Jorge and Melissa missing. The couple had made New Year's Eve reservations at the Cherry Valley Manor in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. They did not show up at the bed and breakfast, and had not called for a refund of their reservation deposit.

     At 10:30 on the morning of January 19, 2014, after a wireless company determined the location of Melissa Pereira's cellphone, police officers entered the Pereira rented garage behind the Wayne Village apartment complex. Inside the garage officers found the white Honda with the frozen couple inside the car. They had been dead for some time.

     According to a police spokesperson, the bodies did not show outward signs of trauma. The Honda's fuel tank was bone-dry, and the car battery was dead.

     While detectives would have to wait for the autopsy results to know the estimated times of death, a resident of the apartment complex provided information that suggested that the couple had died the night they left the Wayne Village apartment in Rodriguez's car.

     The apartment resident told investigators she had seen a young couple in a white Honda pull up to the garage at eleven o'clock on the night of December 27. The man got out of the car, unlocked the door, and backed the vehicle into the garage. The witness said the young man and his companion were smiling and appeared to be happy. 

Writing Quote: Literary Hit Jobs: A Moral Dilemma

     "If you want to be a writer, somewhere along the line you're going to have to hurt somebody. And when that time comes, you go ahead and do it," Charles McGrath said when he was an editor at The New Yorker. "If you can't or don't want to tell that truth, you may as well stop now and save yourself a lot of hardship and pain."…

     A novelist wrote a withering account of her recent marriage. Soon after the book came out, the author's ex-husband killed himself. Was she correct to write that novel?

Bonnie Friedman, Writing Past Dark, 1994 

Criminal Justice Quote: Can Criminal Interrogators Lie?

     Courts have long upheld the rights of interrogators to lie to suspects, with a single exception, which stems from an 1997 Supreme Court decision. In that case, Bram v. United States, the court held that a confession was not admissible if it came from threats or "direct or implied promises," such as an assurance that a suspect would be treated more leniently if he confessed, or more harshly if he did not. Despite the restriction on both "direct" and "implied" promises, in the years since 1997, courts have tended only to reject confessions when there was evidence of an explicit threat or promise.

     Since then, the practices of interrogators have grown more nuanced, to include threats and promises that are merely and subtly implied, and therefore more often accepted in courtrooms as legitimate. Even when an explicit threat or promise is made, it can be difficult for an interrogation suspect to prove that coercive techniques were used, as most interrogations are not recorded in their entirely, and a detective's word can carry more weight with a jury than that of the accused.

Sarah Burns, The Central Park Five, 2011


Criminal Justice Quote: Prosecuting Rapists

My first lesson about sex-crimes prosecution was that perpetrators were not the only enemy. There is a large, more or less hidden population of what I later came to call collaborators within the criminal justice system. Whether if comes from a police officer or a defense attorney, a judge or a court clerk or a prosecutor, there seems to be a residuum of empathy for rapists that crosses all gender, class, and professional barriers. It gets expressed in different ways, from victim-bashing to jokes in poor taste, and too often it results in giving the rapist a break.

Alice Vachss, Sex Crimes, 1993

Whackademia Quote: History of School Shootings

     Large scale attacks at schools and college campuses may seem to be a recent phenomenon, but this is not the case…In fact, the deadliest school attack in the United States occurred in 1927, when a 55-year-old man named Andrew Kehoe murdered his wife and then used dynamite to blow up a school in Bath, Michigan. In all, Kehoe killed 45 people and wounded 58; most of these were children.

     Nearly 40 years later, in 1966, Charles Whitman, a 25-year-old student at the University of Texas, went on a rampage. First he killed his wife and mother, then he set up a sniper position in a tower on campus and gunned down 45 people, killing 14…

     The 1970s and 1980s were not devoid of school attacks. In 1979, a teenage girl named Brenda Spencer opened fire on an elementary school across the street from her home in San Diego, California. She killed 2 adults and wounded 8 children and a police officer. Ten years later, in 1989, a 26-year-old named Patrick Purdy opened fire on an elementary school playground in Stockton, California. He killed 5 children and wounded 29 children and a teacher.

Dr. Peter Langman, Why Kids Kill, 2009 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Writing Quote: Writers Who Take Themselves Too Seriously

I'm so revolted by writers taking themselves seriously that, as a kind of protest, I've de-prioritized the role of writing in my life. I do it when I've not got anything better to do--and even then I often do nothing instead. [I just watched a documentary on J. D. Salinger's life. Now there's a guy who took himself and his writing seriously.]

Geoff Dyer, in a Paris Review interview

Criminal Justice Quote: Plea Bargaining

People think that plea bargaining is a dirty word: an automatic insult to victims and defendants. I guess that's because of the way it's usually done. Prosecutors can plea-bargain for all sorts of wrong reasons that all add up to the same thing: conviction rates. Some of the most obscene pleas I've ever seen a prosecutor take have been done in the name of sparing the victim the hardship of testifying; some of them with the victim in the courtroom trying to protest with no one listening.

Alice Vachss, Sex Crimes, 1993

Criminal Justice Quote: Rape Victim Media Anonymity

     Rape is dealt with differently under the Scottish legal system from the way it is treated in England, particularly in how the crime is reported in the media. Up here, we are extremely careful about preserving the anonymity of the victim--another example of the superiority of Scots Law over the English version.

     Anonymity is vital--rape often results in victims of the crime being mentally scarred for life and the last thing they need is the added distress of having their names appear in the media. Even the successful conviction of an offender can be of little consolation to a woman violated in this manner, something that the psychologists have been examining for years. In some respects, being a rape victim is like no other type of victim: the ramifications run deep into the subconscious for years, perhaps for a lifetime. It can not be shrugged off in the way some other crimes are ultimately forgotten, buried under the pressure of getting on with life. For the victim and the family concerned, the anguish is horrific.

Les Brown and Robert Jeffery, Real Hard Cases, 2006

Criminal Justice Quote: Manner of Death Mistakes

    Death cases aren't always what they appear to be. A recent American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology article analyzed a decade's worth of death investigations in Fulton County [Atlanta], Georgia. The researchers found that death investigators and forensic pathologists disagreed on the manner of death in 12 percent of those cases. Twenty times, death investigators overlooked evidence such as strangulation marks, bullet wounds, and knife wounds and recorded those cases as natural or accidental deaths, only to have the pathologists conduct autopsies and discover that they were homicides. In one case, a driver inadvertently struck a pedestrian. The collision was tying up traffic and it was raining, so the investigator did a perfunctory examination before removing the body and classifying it as an accident. Pathologists later identified multiple gunshot wounds to the victim's head. By then, valuable time and evidence were lost.

     Alternately, in twenty-one cases, death investigators reported homicides that proved to be accidents, suicides, or natural deaths.

John Temple, Deathhouse, 2005

Friday, January 24, 2014

Teen Murderers: Girls Gone Wild

Glendale, Arizona

     On the afternoon of January 18, 2014, 16-year-old Jessica Burlew, a runaway from a juvenile group home in Phoenix, was in her mother's Glendale, Arizona apartment. With her mother's knowledge, the teen was having sex with her 43-year-old boyfriend. The girl's mother, Tracey Woodside, left the apartment to take out the trash. While outside the dwelling handling the garbage, Woodside received a call on her cellphone from Jessica who said that her lover, Jason Earl Ash, was dead.

     When Woodside returned to the apartment, she found Ash lying in bed with an electrical cord twisted around his neck. He also had superficial cuts on his face, arms, and torso. When Tracey Woodside called 911, Jessica ran out of the apartment.

     At the death scene, the girl's mother told police officers that Ash and her daughter regularly played sex games involving ligature strangulation and cutting. Just before passing out Ash was supposed to utter a "safety word" to signal a discontinuation of the choking. This time he died before issuing the warning. (He's not the first person to die of sexual asphyxia, it's a dangerous game.)

     Police officers found Jessica at a neighbor's apartment wearing a burka as a disguise. When questioned by officers she admitted accidentally strangling her 43-year-old sex partner with the electrical cord. At first she thought he had merely passed out. To revive Ash, she cut him with a razor blade. After realizing that he was dead, she continued to cut on his body to relieve her own stress.

     A spokesperson with the Glendale Police Department, on January 22, 2014, announced that Jessica Burlew has been charged, as an adult, with second-degree murder.


Mundelein, Illinois

     At 8:30 on the morning of Tuesday, January 21, 2014, a 14-year-old girl who resided with her mother and her 11-year-old sister in Mundelein, Illinois, a suburban community 30 miles northwest of Chicago, called 911. According to the caller, an intruder had entered the home that morning shortly after her mother left for work. The man had stabbed her younger sister several times then ran out of the house.

     Police officers found the 11-year-old victim, Dora Betancourt, unconscious and bleeding on the second floor of the dwelling. Emergency personnel rushed the girl to a nearby hospital where she died shortly after arrival. She had been stabbed 40 times. Based on the cuts on her hands and arms, investigators believe the victim tried to defend herself. At the scene, officers recovered a bloody 4-inch kitchen knife.

     Questioned at the Mundelein Police Department, the 14-year-old sister described the intruder as a Hispanic man. When a detective pointed out that the victim had, clutched in her hands, follicles of her older sister's hair, the suspect confessed to the stabbings. After the attack she took a shower to wash off her sister's blood then called her mother who told her to dial 911.

     When asked why she attacked her sister with the kitchen knife, the 14-year-old said she had cooked six dinners for her younger sister the previous week and the girl showed no gratitude. Also, the victim had recently hit her. (Obviously there is more behind this vicious, pathological knifing than that.)

      Dora Betancourt had been a student at the St. John's Lutheran School in Libertyville. The 14-year-old murder suspect also attended St. John's.

     A Lake County prosecutor has charged the 14-year-old girl with first-degree murder. She is being held at a juvenile detention center. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Pot Dealers: Bust Them or Tax Them?

     Two states--Colorado and Washington--have completely legalized pot for recreational use….It is estimated that $7.6 billion is spent annually by state and local justice systems on marijuana arrests….Advocates of reforms say instead of spending this money on enforcement, the government could spend it elsewhere and tax marijuana to reap even more for its coffers. Indeed, taxing pot could raise hundreds of millions of dollars, but there is no guarantee that it would be a moneymaker for states.
 
     The financial gains in Washington and Colorado, the two states that have legalized marijuana, have not been as great as some expected. Washington had projected up to $450 million in added annual tax revenue, but the state's new pot consultant figures it could be little more than half that. In Colorado, the Colorado Futures Center think tank forecasts $130 million in new tax revenue but thinks that won't even cover the cost of regulating the new industry.

Mariano Costillo, CNN June 23, 3013 

Criminal Justice Quote: Actress Witnesses a Knockout Game Crime

Actress Rose McGowan said on Twitter that she witnessed a knockout game attack [in Los Angeles] on a 65-year-old man. McGowan, who is most famous for her roles in "Scream" and for dating goth rocker Marilyn Manson, sent several tweets detailing the incident. McGowan said that a young man on a skateboard struck the man who was accompanied by his dog. The man was bleeding after the attack, she claimed.

Chuck Ross, The Daily Caller, January 2, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Tough Cases

When a detective looks back on a life of crime fighting, it is natural that the hard cases, the big mysteries, the complex investigations, are those that are remembered best….Crime is seldom simple and the harder the case, the more impact it makes on your life.

Les Brown and Robert Jeffrey, Real Hard Cases, 2006

Criminal Justice Quote: Feminists Debate Prostitution

     Feminists across Western Europe are sounding the alarm. Prostitution, they claim, has become today's "white slavery," which ever more women from Bulgaria and Romania, Africa and Asia, being forced, tricked or seduced into selling their bodies.

     But in so doing, these activists are creating a schism in the [feminist] movement, between those who see prostitution as another form of male oppression and those who see it as a possible means of female empowerment.

     Much of the debate is centered in Germany, where prostitution is legal. As a result, the German author Alice Schwarzer said, the country has become…"a paradise for johns from all over the Continent," who come in busloads to frequent the new "mega-brothels" in Cologne, Munich or Berlin.

     And, indeed, prostitution is big business in Germany. In bordellos along the borders with France and Poland, countries where prostitution is illegal, groups of visitors are often offered flat-rate packages. Though exact numbers are rare, experts estimate that there are as many as 400,000 prostitutes in Germany, serving more than a million clients and churning out a hefty revenue of 15 billion euros a year.

Mirian Lau, The New York Times, December 29, 2013 

Writing Quote: Using a Pen Name

Pseudonyms are especially attractive to fiction writers, whose work (inventing people and seeing the world through their eyes) requires an impersonation, of sorts. Writing under a pen name is like doing an impersonation of someone doing an impersonation. I've fantasized about using an alias, but my fantasy mostly entails making a lot of money writing a quick horror novel. [Unless you write in that genre, good luck with that.]

Francine Prose, "Bookends," The New York Times Book Review, November 17, 2013

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Australia's "Incest Town"

A shocking incest "cult" has been discovered nestled in the hills near Sydney, Australia, and the sickening details have disturbed the entire country. At least 40 adults and children were discovered living in squalid conditions and suffering from a wide array of health issues and deformities as a result of massive inbreeding. The "family," all of the descendants of a brother and sister who had 13 children four generations ago, were discovered after people in a nearby town called authorities to say that children in the hills were not going to school. Authorities describe the shanty incest town as one of the worst cases of incest ever made public.

Kiri Blakeley, "40 Adults and Children Discovered Living in Squalid 'Incest Town' ," Articles in the News, December 11, 2013

Criminal Justice Quote: Execution by Sword

Because primitive execution by the sword depended so much on the ability or willingness of the victim to remain motionless and unflinching, and also on the dexterity and accuracy of the executioner, the method was eventually phased out [in the mid-1600s]. The public spectacle of the decapitation, the headless corpse and gushing blood, became so abhorrent to society that Germany, like many other European countries, adopted the system of hanging its criminals behind prison walls, and the fearsome, blunt-tipped execution swords were honorably retired to museums.

Geoffrey Abbott, Lords of the Scaffold, 2001

Criminal Justice Quote: Bias in Forensic Science

The close relationship that forensic practitioners engender with law enforcement agencies renders them susceptible to cognitive bias through the wider problem of information sharing. Confirmation bias occurs when practitioners use selective external information, consciously or unconsciously garnered from their associates, to assist their conclusions. This is a well-studied phenomenon in eyewitness lineups, in which witnessed who are initially tentative with their identifications become positive after learning that the person they identified is the prime suspect according to the police. Confirmation bias has played a role in numerous forensic scandals, and was recently acknowledged as one of the leading cause of the [fingerprint] misidentification of the 2004 Madrid [train] bomber.

C. Michael Bowers, Forensic Testimony, 2013

Criminal Justice Quote: Arsenic: The Inheritance Powder

Until the early nineteenth century few tools existed to detect a toxic substance in a corpse. Sometimes investigators deduced poison from the violent sickness that preceded death, or built a case by feeding animals a victim's last meal, but more often than not poisoners walked free. As a result murder by poison flourished. It became so common in eliminating perceived difficulties, such as a wealthy parent who stayed alive too long, that the French nicknamed the metallic element arsenic poudre de succession, the inheritance powder.

Deborah Blum, The Poisoner's Handbook, 2010

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fredrick Brennan: A Theft Victim's Ordeal

     Fredrick Brennan, a 19-year-old with a disability called osteogenesis imperfecta commonly known as brittle bone disease, while confined to a motorized wheelchair that operates by a joystick, lives on his own in an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. He makes his living working at home creating code for new websites.

     Late in 2013, an acquaintance withdrew money from Brennan's account by using, without authorization, his debit card.

      Brennan, before traveling to Atlantic City, New Jersey to visit his mother on December 1, 2013, pulled $4,850 out of his account before the possibility of a second unauthorized withdrawal. When he boarded the bus for Atlantic City, the cash was in his wallet packed inside his luggage.

     On January 1, 2014, at the conclusion of his New Jersey visit, Brennan headed home to Brooklyn. Upon arrival at the Port Authority transportation complex in mid-town Manhattan, Mr. Brennan wheeled himself toward a MetroCard machine. It was there he encountered a homeless man who offered to help him find his way through the massive Port Authority building. The man immediately followed-up the offer by asking Brennan for a dollar. When Brennan removed a dollar bill from his wallet, the man said, "Come on, I can't even buy a hotdog with this." Brennan handed the panhandler another buck. The man took the money and walked off.

     With his cash-filled wallet sitting on his lap, Brennan started the process of buying a MetroCard. The homeless guy, having returned to the scene, grabbed Brennan's wallet and fled. "He took my wallet," the victim screamed.

     A bystander who heard Brennan, ran after the thief who bolted up the stairs that led to Eighth Avenue. A short time later the good samaritan, accompanied by a police officer, returned to the victim. The thief had escaped into the hubbub of Eighth Avenue. The police officer, however, had retrieved Brennan's wallet. The cash was gone.

     Although Brennan's description of the thief was vague, the crime had been caught on a Port Authority surveillance camera. The next day, January 2, a New York City detective called Mr. Brennan with the news that officers had made an arrest in the case. Could the victim come back to Manhattan and pick the suspect out of a line-up at the police station?

     On January 2 Brennan traveled by bus and subway to the police station in Greenwich Village. The fact the city was expecting a massive show storm that day caused Brennan to worry about how he would get back to his home in Brooklyn.

     At the police station, Brennan had no trouble identifying the man who had stolen his wallet. The man he picked out of the line-up was Chris Sanchez. The 49-year-old suspect had been arrested near the Port Authority earlier that morning with $4,073 in his pocket. Police also found, on his person, small quantities of crack and marijuana.

    A Manhattan assistant prosecutor charged Chris Sanchez with grand larceny. Until the matter was resolved in the slow-moving criminal justice system, the authorities would have to hold onto the victim's stolen cash.

     Following the line-up identification, Brennan was asked to spend some time at the station filling out police forms and writing up a statement of the crime. By the time he left the police building it was late in the evening and snowing heavily. Worried that his wheelchair--he had been saving up for a new one--would short out in the snow, the cooperating crime victim asked a police officer if he could arrange for a ride back to Brooklyn. The officer said the station didn't have access to a van with a wheelchair lift. The theft victim would have to find his own way home.

      A detective pushed Brennan through the snow to the Union Square subway station, then left. It was eleven o'clock at night and snowing hard.

      Frederick Brennan boarded a subway train en route to the Atlantic Avenue Station where he got on another train that took him to 86th Street and Bay Parkway in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. There he waited for the bus that would take him on the final leg of his trip home. Problem was, the bus didn't come and the snow kept falling.

     After waiting at the bus stop for more than an hour, Brennan's hands and feet were starting to numb. Since his wheelchair couldn't plow through the snow, he used his cellphone to call 911 for help. A short time later an ambulance pulled up and carried him to a nearby medical center. The next day the hospital discharged him.

     A few days after Mr. Brennan's ordeal, he returned to Manhattan to testified before the grand jury considering the case. Based on the surveillance video and the victim's testimony, Mr. Sanchez was indicted on the charge of grand larceny. If the matter involves a trial, that will require his testimony as well. In the meantime, the theft victim will have to live without his money until the case is closed.

(This blog is based primarily on an article published in The New York Times by Michael Wilson.) 

Criminal Justice Quote: NYC Cops Rough-up 84-Year-Old Jaywalker

     The New York Police Department is receiving widespread criticism after officers injured an 84-year-old man--who doesn't speak English and didn't understand police orders--for the crime of jaywalking. Kang Wong committed jaywalking at an Upper West Side [Manhattan] intersection in New York City around 5 PM on Sunday, January 19, 2014….He is a resident of the area.

     An officer soon approached him and tried to write him a ticket. But Wong, who speaks only broken English, didn't understand what was happening, and continued walking away from the officer. When the officer tried to grab him, he pushed back….Several cops descended on Wong and threw him against a wall. The elderly man came away from the encounter with a bloodied face.

     Wong was handcuffed and taken to the hospital and then to the police station….Later that night, Wong was released, but will face charges of jaywalking, resisting arrest, obstructing government administration, and disorderly conduct.

Robby Soave, The Daily Caller, January 20, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Punishing Heroin Traffickers in Vietnam

     A Vietnamese court has sentenced 30 people to death for trafficking in heroin at the conclusion of a mass trial. State media reported the 21 men and 9 women were convicted [on January 19, 2014] of being part of a ring that smuggled nearly 2 tons of heroin from Laos into Vietnam and then on to China. The trial lasted 20 days and was held in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

     Vietnam has tough drug laws and possessing or trafficking 600 grams (21.16 ounces) of heroin can result in a death sentence. There are currently 700 people on death row [in Vietnam]. In 2011 the country switched from firing squads to lethal injection on humanitarian grounds.

Associated Press, January 20, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Cheesy Exhibitionist Arrested

      Philadelphia police have arrested a man [on January 15, 2014] they believe is the "Swiss cheese pervert," who reportedly sexually propositioned unsuspecting women with the dairy food. The suspect, identified as 41-year-old Christopher Pagano, was arrested at his Norristown, New Jersey home. Investigators suspect Pagano is the man who drove up to women on several occasions and offered them money to put cheese on his genitals and perform a lewd act….

     In March 2009, Norristown police charged Pagano…with criminal solicitation to commit prostitution and disorderly conduct after a Norristown woman called police to report a man who said he would pay her $20 to perform a sex act on him with Swiss cheese he removed from his pocket. Under a negotiated guilty plea on November 6, 2009, a Montgomery County prosecutor dropped the criminal solicitation charge, leaving the summary offense of disorderly conduct. [A judge fined Pagano $100.]

The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 16, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Monsignor Nunzio Scarano: The Money-Laundering Priest

     A Vatican monsignor on trial for allegedly plotting to smuggle 20 million euros ($26 million) from Switzerland to Italy was arrested on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 in a separate case for allegedly using his Vatican bank accounts to launder money. Financial police in the southern Italian city of Salerno said Monsignor Nunzio Scarano had transferred millions of euros in fictitious donations from offshore companies through his accounts at the Vatican's Institute for Religious Works. Police said millions have been seized and that other arrest warrants were also issued….

     The Salerno investigation was already underway when Scarano, dubbed "Monsignor 500" for his purported favored banknotes, was arrested in June in Rome on the smuggling accusations. Prosecutors say he, a financier and a carabinieri officer devised an elaborate plot to transport 20 million euros in a private jet from Switzerland to Italy to avoid paying customs duties. The plot fell apart because the financier reneged at the last minute….Scarano was fired from his job as an accountant in the Vatican's main financial office and his accounts at the Vatican bank were frozen by Vatican authorities after his arrest.

Nicole Winfield, "Vatican Monsignor Arrested for Money Laundering," Bloomberg Businessweek, January 21, 2014 

Writing Quote: Write What You Know

     Before you write about a subject, make sure you know it inside and out. If there are questions in your mind, don't skip them or cover them up. Do your best to find the answers. Then, if questions remain, you can always be honest and say so; the reader will forgive you.

     Whenever there's something wrong with your writing, suspect that there's something wrong with your thinking. Perhaps your writing is unclear because your ideas are unclear. Think, read, learn some more….

     The old admonition to "write about what you know" is a cliche, but it's still good advice. No matter how vivid and fertile your imagination, you'll write best what you know best.

Patricia T. O'Conner, Words Fail Me, 1999

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Zakieya Avery Kills Two Children in Botched Exorcism

     Zakieya Latrice Avery resided in a Germantown, Maryland row house with her four children, ages one through eight. Twenty-one-year old Monifa Sanford lived under the same roof with the Avery family. The women had met at a church called Exousia Ministries of Germantown. (It is one of 600 or more non-Catholic churches around the world where exorcism is practiced.) The 28-year-old mother of four and her husband, Martin Luther Harris, Jr., are separated. He lives in Los Angeles. Zakieya had once resided in Gaithersburg, Maryland where she had worked as a pharmacy technician.

     On Thursday night, January 16, 2014, one of Zakieya Avery's neighbors in this community north of Washington, D.C. dialed 911 to report on unattended child inside a car outside the Avery house. When officers with the Montgomery County Police Department responded to the 911 call the child was no longer in the vehicle. Officers knocked on Avery's door but no one answered. The officers left the scene but reported the matter to a child protection agency.

     The next morning at 9:30, the concerned neighbor called 911 again. This time the caller reported a car with its doors standing open parked outside the Avery residence. A bloody knife lay on the ground near the vehicle.

     Upon the arrival of the police, Zakeiya Avery bolted out the back door but didn't get very far. Inside the dwelling, officers discovered the dead bodies of one-year-old Norell Harris and his two-year-old sister Zyana. The toddlers had been each stabbed several times. It appeared they had been attacked while sleeping. In another bedroom, officers found five-year-old Taniya and eight-year-old Martello. These two children had also been stabbed but were alive. The two wounded siblings were rushed to a nearby hospital.

     Avery's adult housemate, Monifa Sanford, was also taken to a hospital where she was treated for cuts.

     Police officers took Zakieya Avery into custody at the scene. The next day detectives arrested Sanford. Both women have been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. Police officers booked the suspects into the Montgomery County Jail where they are being held without bond.

     A few days after the murder arrests, Captain Marcus Jones, head of the major crimes unit, told reporters that Zakieya Avery thought her kids were possessed by the Devil which led to a botched exorcism procedure and the deaths. Monifa Sanford was in custody because she had assisted in the deadly ritual. According to the police, both suspects have confessed.

     Avery's step-grandmother, Sylvia Wade, told a reporter with the Washington Post that Avery was "humble and meek" and said she loved her children. "I don't know what triggered it. She wasn't herself." Indeed. If anyone was possessed by the Devil, it wasn't these young, helpless victims.
   

      

Writing Quotes: A Discussion of the True Crime Genre

Crime fiction spends a great deal of time sorting through the chaos to find some order, a sense of resolution for the often inexplicable madness of murder. Real crimes, however, don't work that way. Evidence is misfiled, suspects evade arrest on technicalities, investigations stretch out for years before an end comes in sight--if at all. True crime is a messier affair….

Sarah Wienman, The Daily Beast, May 2010


What is there to say about true-crime books? They're fun. They can be intellectually compelling, and, like the fictional variety from [crime novelists] Hammett, Cain and that crowd, they're more often than not rooted in the far side of respectability or polite society. Most every writer wants to write one. The trick is to come up with the right crime, the right crook or issue.

Peter Manso, The Huffington Post, July 2011


A number of popular true crime writers today (and yesterday) like to fluff up their narratives with figments from their imaginations, and often sugarcoat the details about a crime for what they think will bring them a wider reading audience. But I don't do that. It's not fair to the memories of the victims, their families, or the cops who worked the cases and brought the killers to justice. I tell it like it is, and I've been told time and time again by victims' families that this is the way they want their loved ones' stories to be told--truthfully, even though it is painful. Seeing things made up, they tell me, is more painful to them because often times the criminals become glamorized in a sense. You won't find glamorized killers in my books.

Gary C. King, All Things Crime, July 2013


True crime writing draws upon the methods of nonfiction and fiction, turns the American dream of picket fences and summer picnics into the American nightmare; solicits a particular kind of reader response, and cautiously toes the line between fact and fiction, and the temptation on part of the author to "create and embellish" for the sake of art. True crime writing can be understood as a style, a form, and a genre of universal appeal forever embedded in our popular culture, however sensational and exploitive it has become. Styles of writing and the themes portrayed are often grisly, morbid, and voyeuristic, thus obscuring the work of serious crime historians attempting to establish important links between economic conditions, social mores, and the day-to-day living conditions of people in a given place and time.

Richard Lindberg, richardlindberg.net, 2002 

Criminal Justice Quote: President Obama on Pot

As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol. [But Mr. President, pot smoking is a crime in all but a few states. It's also a federal offense.]

President Obama in an interview with a New Yorker editor, January 2014




Whackademia Quote: Sex Education: Grade School Through College

     Next month [February 2014] Montana State University will hold a Latex and Lace Condom Fashion Show in which about 30 students will strut down a T-shaped runway--in front of more than 1,300 MSU students and staff--dressed in outfits comprised of condoms….This will be the fifth year the school holds the condom fashion show event.

     [According to Ashlyn Alsberg], a MSU student who works at MSU Health Promotion as a sexual health educator…the show is meant to be an education opportunity for students to learn about sexual health. [Are MSU students stupid? Where were they when their middle school teachers were putting condoms on bananas? Good heavens, how much sex education is enough?]

Caroline May, The Daily Caller, January 20, 2014

Writing Quote: Don't Create a Protagonist Who is Happy

I'm aware that for a starving writer, a happy man is neither the best nor the most lucrative theme. Most readers do not know that happy people are the worst subjects to write about. They are dull because nothing exciting happens around them. Writers thrive on unhappiness and crime. The well-known slogan that crime doesn't pay is true for general consumption, but not for writers.

Lajos Egri, The Art of Creative Writing, 1990      

Monday, January 20, 2014

Retired Cop Curtis Reeves Kills Unarmed Theatergoer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     If convicted as charged, Curtis Reeves could be sentenced to life in prison. In his case, a ten-year sentence would probably have the same result.
     

Criminal Justice Quote: Vigilante Judges

At times, judges abandon their neutrality and step into the adversarial void, acting like prosecutors, forcing defendants either to take a deal or wait in jail for a trial date. That, or they deny a defendant his rights altogether….Many defendants plead guilty without a lawyer present. In some cases, they had been in jail for months without counsel. In others, they had no idea what they were pleading guilty to or they accepted sentences higher than the legal maximum.

Amy Bach, Ordinary Justice, 2009 

Criminal Justice Quote: Crime-Fighting, Las Vegas Style

     A Las Vegas police captain who helped a rock star pull off an elaborate wedding proposal by arranging a flight on a department helicopter has retired rather than face demotion, and the pilot's flying wings have been clipped….

     Captain David O'Leary faced demotion to lieutenant for helping arrange the August 7 [2013] private flights for Gun N' Roses guitarist Daren Jay Ashba and his then-girlfriend Columbian actress Nathalia Henao….

     O'Leary, a 25-year veteran who oversaw the Financial Crimes Bureau, instead retired on December 20. Officer Ray Horsley who piloted the helicopter, is being transferred out of the Air Support Detail as of January 11 [2014] and will no longer be allowed to fly for the department….

Associated Press, January 3, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Real Murder is Often Stranger Than Fiction

     It might be thought that murder presented as fictional entertainment on cinema and television screens is frequently implausible. Yet in its bizarre, extraordinary and frequently farcical consequences it is invariably bettered by the real thing. Truth really is stranger than fiction….The details of murders…frequently fall into that category where the conclusion is, "You couldn't make that up."…

     Murder seems to attract weird behavior beyond the basic elements of one person killing another. Tremaryne Durham, for instance, a murder suspect in custody in the United States, became fed up with the monotonous institutional food he was served in prison and arranged a plea bargain whereby he would admit guilt in return for a chicken dinner.

Robin Odell, The Mammoth Book of Bizarre Crimes, 2010 

Criminal Justice Quote: In-House Police Involved Shooting Investigations

     After a [police-involved] shooting, [The Santa Barbara Police Department] policy states that the officer must request a supervisor, additional units and medical personnel, handcuff the suspect [presuming he is not dead], preserve the scene and identify witnesses. Officers cannot discuss the shooting with one another or write about the incident. Instead, the supervisor asks the officer for a description of the outstanding suspects, where the evidence is and what direction shots were fired. Among other duties, the supervisor is there to secure the crime scene and determine whether other suspects are at large and witnesses are being interviewed. He or she is not authorized to inquire about the involved officer's tactics and state of mind, according to the [police] manual. The police chief is the only one authorized to release the officer's identify.

     To the question of who holds police accountable, in Santa Barbara, California, an officer-involved investigation is done internally….

     An administrative investigation follows the [internal] investigation to ensure all department policies were met and to evaluate the officer's civil liability and examine training procedures. At this point, the investigation becomes a human resources issue with information gathered not permissible in court. The administrative investigation is considered a "confidential peace officer personnel file," according to the manual….

     Some bigger cities do have independent [police-involved shooting] oversight. Los Angeles, Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco have implemented police commissions that include citizen oversight of police matters, especially deadly force issues. Smaller cities with fewer officer-involved incidents, such as Santa Barbara, generally don't….

Alex Kacik, "Overseeing the Overseers," missionandstate.org, January 8, 2014  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sergeant Brett McKnight Kills Woman in Ohio Drug Raid

     Eleven people were inside a mobile home near Chillicothe, Ohio when, at 10:30 PM on December 11, 2013, a dozen or so members of a local drug task force unit rolled up to the dwelling with a no-knock warrant to search for guns and drugs. One of the occupants of the trailer house was a teenage girl.

     Just before breaking into the home, one of the heavily armed U.S. 23 Task Force officers tossed a flashbang grenade through a window. At the moment the device detonated officers forced their way into the house.

     Following the initial chaos created by the SWAT-like raid, officers found Krystal Marie Barrows slumped on the living room couch. The 35-year-old mother of three had been shot in the head. She died shortly after being flown by helicopter to the Wexner Medical Center in Columblus.

     The raiding police officers arrested two women and four men for illegally possessing pistols, assault rifles, and heroin. The task force cops also recovered stolen goods and a significant amount of cash. During the raid, none of the mobile home occupants pulled a gun or fired a shot. This meant that Krystal Barrows had been shot by one of the task force officers.

     According to the results of a preliminary police inquiry into Barrows' death, she had been shot by Ross County sergeant Brett McKnight. The eleven-year veteran of the Ross County Sheriff's Office had accidentally discharged his sidearm outside the trailer when the flashbang grenade went off. The bullet pierced the trailer home's exterior wall and hit Barrows in the head.

      Other than a misdemeanor drunk and disorderly conviction, Krystal Barrows did not have a criminal record. Her sons were aged 19, 14, and 9. Detectives with the Ohio Bureau of Investigation are looking into the case to determine if Sergeant McKnight had fired his gun recklessly. If that turns out to be the case, the officer could be charged with negligent homicide.

     Whether officer McKnight was reckless or not, the law enforcement agencies involved in the fatal drug raid can expect to be defendants in a wrongful death suit. Taxpayers will end up paying the bill for this police involved shooting. 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Blue Meth Scam

Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Mexico, says drug distributors are selling methamphetamine tinted blue in the Four Corners region. That mirrors AKMC's hit drama "Breaking Bad," which depicted an Albuquerque-based meth operation that cooked up the drug with a blue hue. Abar says tinting meth blue is a way for distributors to advertise and brand their product. But he says the blue meth being sold makes people sick. He says it has been cut with chemicals to make it blue and is not the "pure" product portrayed in "Breaking Bad."

Associated Press, January 14, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Can a Murderer be Convicted Without the Body?

In October 1947, ship's steward James Camb raped and murdered actress Gay Gibson aboard the Durban Castle out of South Africa. Although Camb disposed of his luckless victim out of one of the liner's portholes and the body was never found, fresh scratches on the suspect's arms and back indicated his involvement in a fierce struggle. Blood-flecked saliva on the pillow cover of Miss Gibson's bed was consistent with manual strangulation, and in situations of abject fear such as that Gay Gibson must have felt at the hands of her attacker, it is common for the bladder to empty--which accounted for the extensive urine staining on the bed. In March 1948, after the ship docked in Southampton, England, Camb was tried, convicted and sentenced to death.

Brian Lane, Chronicle of 20th Century Murder, 1993

Writing Quote: Writer Envy

    It used to be like a fever with me, a compulsion, a madness: to go into a bookstore, head straight for the brand-new books, flip right to the back of the jacket and see if the author was young or old, my age or even--rats!--younger. Envy is a vocational hazard for most writers. It festers in one's mind, distracting one from one's own work, at its most virulent even capable of rousing the sufferer from sleep to brood over another's triumph.

     Envy is the green-eyed beast. It is a sickness; it is a hunger.... It takes what was most beloved--reading books, writing them--and sours it, a quick drop of vinegar into the glass of sweet milk. Even friendships aren't exempt.

Bonnie Friedman, Writing Past Dark, 1994


  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Problem of Rape in India

     The gang-rape of a Danish woman in one of New Delhi's most popular tourist districts is prompting concern for the safety of foreign travelers and raising questions over how much progress has been made in India after a year in which considerable attention has been focused on the prevalence of rape.

     Indian police said that a 51-year-old Danish tourist was gang-raped [on January 14, 2014] in the popular paharganj district after asking a group of men for directions to her hotel. Police have arrested two people in connection with the rape….

     The incident comes a year after the rape and death of a 23-year-old student in a bus in New Delhi that sparked mass protests across the country and a national dialogue on the position of women in society and the pervasiveness of rape.

Chelesa Sheasley, The Christian Science Monitor, January 15, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Political Correctness Over National Security and Common Sense

     The U.S. Justice Department will significantly expand its definition of racial profiling to prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation in their investigations….The move addresses a decade of criticism from civil rights groups that say federal authorities have in particular singled out Muslims in counterterrorism investigations and Latinos for immigration investigations.

     The Bush administration banned profiling in 2003, but with two caveats: It did not apply to national security cases, and it covered only race, not religion, ancestry or other factors.

Matt Apuzzo, "U.S. to Expand Rules Limiting Use of Profiling by Federal Agents," The New York Times, January 15, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Say Goodbye Rape Murderer Dennis McGuire

     Dennis McGuire, 53, whose arguments that the new lethal injection protocol could cause terror and agony [like that of his victim] were rejected by a federal judge, was pronounced dead at 10:53 AM on January 14, 2014. Ohio adopted the new protocol--a combination of the sedative midozolam and the painkiller hydropmorphone--after the manufacturer of the old drug, pentobarbital, stopped selling it for lethal injections.

     McGuire was convicted of raping, sodomizing and slashing the throat of an acquaintance Joy Stewart, who was eight months pregnant at the time of her murder in 1989….

     McGuire was…given a last meal of roast beef, toasted bagel with cream cheese and onion, butter pecan ice cream, fried chicken, potato salad, fried potatoes with onion an Coco-Cola.

     [Because it took the executioner 25 minutes to kill McGuire, his family has filed as unusual punishment lawsuit against the state of Ohio. At least Mr. McGuire was sent off with a full stomach.]

Tracy Connor, "Ohio Killer Executed With Untested Two-Drug Cocktail," NBC News, January 16, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: How to Spot a Heroin Addict

Dope [heroin] can make you bad looking, especially if you're using a lot: you retain water, so your face grows puffy and aged, you develop blemishes, your skin looks green. After quitting, you look worse for months before your former looks return.

Ann Marlowe, How to Stop Time, 1999

Friday, January 17, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Illegal Possession of a Secret Compartment

     Civil libertarians are criticizing Ohio police for arresting a driver because his car contained a compartment that could theoretically store illegal drugs, though no drugs were found at that time.

     The driver…was pulled over for speeding. A highway patrolman noticed wires running to a secret compartment in the car and arrested the suspect, even though there were no drugs in the compartment. The officer also claimed he smelled marijuana in the compartment--giving him probable cause to search it--though none was ultimately discovered.

     It makes no difference whether police find drugs or not, according to a new Ohio law that prohibits secret compartments.

Robby Soave, The Daily Caller, December 30, 2013 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Psychology of Police Use of Force

When you ride around all day long and you're dealing with shootings, you're dealing with robberies, you're dealing with all this violent crime that's constantly going on, that's going to influence how you respond in certain situations. And we have to take that into account in our training. We teach our officers to try to interact with people and realize that not everybody in a given neighborhood is a thug or a criminal, they're not all out to hurt you. These are important things that I think we've got to face head on.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey in a 2013 report on police use of force

Writing Quote: The Perfect Crime Novel Detective

     Though [writer Roger Rosenblatt] studied at Harvard, and even taught there, his most important education came from popular fiction. Above all, detective fiction, starting with Sherlock Holmes.

     "I wanted to be Holmes, himself," he writes early in [his new book, The Boy Detective]. "The detective I concocted for myself was not exactly like him. What I imagined was a composite made up of Holmes's power of observation, Hercule Poirot's powers of deduction, Sam Spade's straight talk, Miss Marple's stick-to-itiveness, and Philip Marlowe's courage and sense of honor--he who traveled the 'mean streets,' like mine, and was 'neither tarnished nor afraid.' The fact that, as far as I could tell, I lacked every single one of these qualities, and saw no prospect of every achieving them, presented no discouragement."

From Pete Hamill's review of Rosenblatt's book The Boy Detective in The New York Times Book Review, November 17, 2013 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Saving Sean Penn

Three armed sheriff deputies were called to safely escort actor Sean Penn out of a West Hollywood restaurant and into his car. The star was dining at Craig's when deputies got a call around 11:08 PM Sunday [January 5, 2014] from restaurant staff that paparazzi were blocking the entrance to the restaurant and preventing patrons from leaving. That's when deputies arrived to clear a path. [Penn walked ten steps to his car without incident. Police officers shouldn't act as private bodyguards or restaurant security.]

Jessica Chasmar, The Washington Times, January 9, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Conjugal Visits

     Conjugal visits, a concept that started at the Mississippi State Penitentiary as a prisoner-control practice... [in the 1950s], will soon be over. [Prison officials]…plan to end the program on February 1, 2014, citing budgetary reasons and "the number of babies being born possibly as a result." In Mississippi, where more than 22,000 prisoners are incarcerated--the highest rate in the nation--155 inmates participated last year…..

     In the 1970s, new prisons often included special housing for what had come to be called extended family visits. But by 1993, only 17 states allowed conjugal visits. Mississippi is one of just five that have active programs. In California and New York, they are called family visits and are designed to help keep families together in an environment that approximates home. Some research shows that they can help prisoners better integrate back into the mainstream after their release. ["Some" research? What does the other research say?]

     Visits in those states, and in Washington and New Mexico, can last 24 hours to three days. They are spent in small apartments or trailers, often with children and grandparents, largely left alone by prison guards. Visitors bring their own food and sometimes have a barbecue.

     In New York, about 8,000 family visits were arranged last year, a figure that corrections officials say has declined. Of those, 48 percent were with spouses. The rest were with family members such as children or parents.

Kim Severson, "As Conjugal Visits Fade, A Lifeline to Inmates' Spouses is Lost," The New York Times, January 12, 2014 

Writers Quote: Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas?

     At writers' conferences and book signings, authors are almost always asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" This fascinates fledgling writers, especially those who feel they haven't done enough with their lives that's the least bit interesting.

     Yet, ideas abound. From where you are sitting at this very moment, you can generate more ideas than you will ever use. Scan a newspaper or magazine. Do any of the stories pique your interest? There may be another slant the writer neglected to explore or you may read a local story that is perfect for a national market. And don't forget your early life as a rich source of ideas--remember the high points and low points, the traumas and joys. [My advice: if you want to get published,  forget your early life. The coming of age book is an overworked genre.]

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Pen on Fire, 2004

Criminal Justice Quote: "Ghost Gun" Legislation

A California lawmaker proposed legislation [on January 13, 2014] to make background checks and gun registration requirements for anyone who builds plastic firearms on a 3-D printer at home….It's part of a growing effort across the country to pre-empt the spread of these undetectable guns. State Senator Kevin de Leon said he is trying to address a twin threat from what he called "ghost guns"--plastic guns that can evade metal detectors and unregistered weapons that can fall into the hands of people who are legally prohibited from owning firearms under state law. "Currently, no one knows they exist until after a crime has been committed," said de Leon.

Associated Press, January 14, 2014 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Murder Versus Manslaughter

The acid test of murder is intention and what the law calls mens rea or guilty mind. Guilty intention is described as malice aforethought and it is this which distinguishes it from manslaughter. The classic definition of murder based on malice aforethought goes back to English Common Law and takes account of the age and mental status of the offender. This was set out by Lord Chief Justice Edward Coke (1552-1634) when he referred to "a man of sound memory and at the age of discretion." In practical terms, this meant an individual who was not insane and aged at least ten years.

Robin Odell, The Mammoth Book of Bizarre Crimes, 2010

Criminal Justice Quote: The Case For Firing Squads

 A lawmaker in Wyoming says the state ought to take action now to avoid a constitutional crisis if lethal injection for convicts is ever outlawed and pass a bill to allow for the return of firing squads…. Senator Bruce Burns said that Wyoming state law only allows for a gas chamber to be used in place of a lethal injection….But that causes a dilemma in his mind. "The state of Wyoming doesn't have a gas chamber…so the procedure and expense to build one would be impractical. I consider the gas chamber to be cruel and unusual, so I want the firing squad because they also have it in Utah."

Cheryl K. Chumley, The Washington Times, January 14, 2014 

Writing Quote: Fear of Criticism

     Are writers more concerned with others' opinions of them, more given to depression, and more reluctant to share their work, especially work they consider risky, than other creative types? In my experience, yes, yes, and yes. While the painters and other visual artists I know are surely sensitive people, they also seem enviably oblivious to what others think of their work. Musicians and actors, too, have hefty egos and tend to be more obsessed with what they do than what others think about what they do….Regardless of talent, it's almost impossible to get new writers to stand up and read from their work. [Maybe it's because they think this kind of exercise is self-important and boring to others.]

     Yes, writers' temperaments are unique. I have watched the most talented writers compare themselves to their favorite authors--to dead authors, especially--and grow encyclopedia-sized [writer's] blocks because they believe they'll never be as good. [They are probably right.]

     Talent seems to be inverse to confidence. Some of the most talented writers I know are reluctant to send out their work, so convinced are they that no will will ever publish it.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Pen on Fire, 2004