Thursday, July 31, 2008

Air Force technical sergeant sentenced to decade in prison for killing of wife

61-year-old Saner Wonggoun, a former Travis Air Force Base technical sergeant, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and benefits in the January 6, 1994 manslaughter of his wife after her affair.

After learning that his wife was pregnant by another man, he bludgeoned her to death with a claw hammer, and wrapped her body in plastic and a sleeping bag, driving it to an isolated Marin County beach.

Military judge Col. William Burd sentenced Wonggoun Wednesday, July 30 while crediting him with 635 days of confinement. The judge ruled that Wonggun was guilty of voluntary manslaughter, rejecting military prosecutors’ contention that he was guilty of unpremeditated murder. The voluntary manslaughter charge was what his defense attorneys were arguing, saying "in heat of passion caused by adequate provocation."

Wonngun made plans to flee the country back to his native Thailand, arranged for friend to look after his kids and paid them $50,000 for their expenses.

He wasn't seen again until November 2006, when Thai police - working with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations - located him selling charcoal in a village market.

He was returned to the United States last February and subsequently confessed to the killing, explaining that he was in a blinding rage when the attack occurred.Co-counsel Capt. Jason Largey told the court that Wonggoun had clearly acted out of uncontrolled rage when his wife informed him that she was pregnant with another man's child.

"He had no plan that day, just rage at his wife," Largey said. "Sgt. Wonggoun lost it. This revelation on a lunch break from work shattered Sgt. Wonggoun's world."

Wonggun explained that he had a seargent as a mentor in his native Thailand.
The contact with a U.S. Air Force technical sergeant led to Wonggun’s immigration to the US, entering the Air Force, and obtaining the rank of tech seargent and a 19 year career, he lamented that his career and life was destroyed by his actions.

"I'm sorry for everything I did," Wonggoun concluded.

The case will be forwarded to Scott AFB in Illinois for final resolution.

Man sentenced to 24 years in prison for slamming girlfriend on floor

An Albany, NY man was sentenced to 24 years in prison for a crime that the prosecutor, District Attorney David Soares, said that "no time in prison that can make up for that type of behavior."

Donnell Bonney, 30, was found guilty of attempted murder back in June after a 14 hour deliberation over 2 days by a jury. He broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home in Albany September 21 and grabbed her hair and neck. The man, on parole from an unspecified crime, was convicted of attempter murder, burglary, assault, unlawful imprisonment, and aggravated harassment. He was found not guilty of possessing a knife, menacing, and endangering the welfare of a child.

The couple's son who entered the home during the attack, probably saved the victim’s life according to prosecutors. In final arguments, Assistant District Attorney Christina Calabrese states that Bonney pounded his victim, slamming her head to the ground, and promised her on September 14 that he was going to kill the woman. Bonney’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Peter Lynch argued that testimony from doctors did not support evidence of head slams.

During sentencing, the ex-girlfriend noticed Bonney's "downwards spiral."
"The pain and fear that I felt was indescribable," stated the letter, read for the victim by Assistant District Attorney Christina Calabrese.

In concluding, Soares said, "This man intentionally tried to kill a woman he once loved and did so in the presence of one of their children. I feel there is no amount of time in prison that can make up for that type of behavior, but I hope this lengthy prison sentence helps to bring about some closure for the victim and her family,"

Spokane, WA pastor convicted of rape attempt, faced 20 to life, got 18 years

(Original Post 6-13-08)
By Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - A former pastor in Spokane has been convicted of attempted rape.The Rev. Herman Lewis was convicted Wednesday for an April 30, 2007, incident when he offered a woman $50 to have sex with him and then attempted to drag her out of a Shari's restaurant when she refused.

Lewis was pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church, but lost his job after his arrest.An addition to attempted rape, the jury convicted the 50-year-old Lewis on first- and second-degree assault charges. He was acquitted of indecent liberties and of a second count of first-degree assault.Lewis faces 20 years to life when he is sentenced next month.

(Update 7-31-08) Lewis was sentenced to 18 years in prison by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen. His sentenced matched prosecutors' request, while the defense asked for 3 years. Lewis explained his actions by being on anti-psychotic drugs. Besides the prison time, Lewis will have to pay $7385 in restitution for damage to police squad cars during the chase, and will have to register as an sex offender.

Serial rapist sentenced to 60 years in prison

Ricardo Rosales, who pleaded guilty to 5 felony charges involving sexual assaults of 2 Fontana, CA women, was sentenced to 60 years in prison byJudge Dwight W. Moore in Fontana Superior Court on June 27. The charges stemmed from attacks on two women in September 2005. One assault happened at a hair salon, where a woman was sexually assaunted until she gave Rosales $100, and the second assault took place when the victim was walking down the street. Rosales was arrested a week later.

Court documents filed in the case show a pattern of sexual assaults since Rosales was 13 years old. In January and February 1998, Rosales carried out a series of sexual assaults and robberies in a women's restroom at a Riverside grocery store, according to court documents.
Rosales told investigators he would hide inside a bathroom stall and watch women in neighboring stalls before assaulting or robbing them at knifepoint. He was incarcerated in juvenile facilities for several years after being convicted of the Riverside assaults.

According to Deputy District Attorney Cary Epstein, Rosales is not eligible for release before 2056. If released, he'll have to register as a sex offender, and California SO registration always lasts for life.

Caregiver faces mandatory minimum of 25 years after rape, sodomy convictions

A former caregiver of a woman who was raped by him faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison after being convicted of the rape and sodomy of a brain injured 70 year old woman. The woman suffered injuries in a car crash in her 20s which killed her husband and led her parents to take care of their two kids, one of which was born after the crash.

John Alvin Taylor, 59, was convicted of 3 counts each of 1st degree rape and 1st degree sodomy by Marion County Circuit Judge Susan Tripp after a bench trial whose closing arguments ended last June.

The woman, now 73, was sexually assaulted in September 2005 in the McKillop Residence on the campus of Marian Estates, an assisted-care facility in Sublimity where Taylor worked.
During the trial, the woman testified that she did not want to have sex with Taylor, but that he came into her room several times.

The abuse was reported after another caregiver found a condom wrapper in the woman's apartment.

Taylor worked for the facility from June 2004 to September 2005, and his responsibilities included changing beds, washing laundry, serving food and cleaning, according to one of his statements.

Taylor’s attorney objected to testimony about the woman’s dimished capacity, but Judge Tripp allowed the evaluation.

Deputy District Attorney Matt Kemmy, who prosecuted the case, said that “it was important to convict this guy, to not only to get him out of the caretaking business but to put him in prison… I don't think she was able to grasp how serious it was, what he was subjecting her to… Given her mental capabilities, she would have been prey to the will of the defendant," Tripp wrote in her ruling.

Spokane security guard pleads guilty to peeping on women using Homeland Security cameras

Darin Earl Wanless, a 33 year old security guard at the federal courthouse complex in downtown Spokane, pled guilty to a single count of felony voyeurism for incidents last year when he watched women undressing. He ogled a woman inside condoes and a second victim inside a hotel. He originally faced 4 counts of voyeurism last August, and is scheduled to be sentenced to a jail range of between 0 and 90 days in jail (not prison) by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno.

“We’ve got boobies!” Wanless exclaimed while watching one of the women, according to court documents. The charging documents name the women involved, but The Spokesman-Review does not generally name victims of sex crimes.

Federal investigators who reviewed recordings from the security camera between May 15 and June 11 last year determined that Wanless made inappropriate use of the cameras on 22 other occasions, court documents say. The rooftop cameras, including four on each corner of the post office, are controlled from the adjoining U.S. Courthouse, and the images they capture are reviewable.

Department of Homeland Security funds paid for the digital cameras. A senior law enforcement official had previously told the newspaper the cameras are so powerful they can be used to count ice cubes in a tumbler in an adjoining building.

Secure Solutions LLC, under contract with Federal Security Services, a division of ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) to provide security for the federal complex (including the courthouse and post office, fired Wanless after a fellow security guard reported him.

Lorie Dankers, Pacific Northwest spokeswoman for ICE, held Wanless as an example of what not to do when behind the surveillance camera. “He’s an example of what you should not do. That’s been underscored since this incident.”

Wanless was ordered to serve 3 years supervision, pay $500 to a victims’ compensation fund, and register as a sex offender for the next 10 years by Judge Moreno. One of the victims will read her victim impact statement at next month’s sentencing. The prosecutor was Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Kelly A. Fitzgerald.

Man charged with vehicular assault, DUI after wife falls off of car in argument

Diamond Mircea, 29, was charged with vehicular assault in the first degree and felony DUI during his arraignment Monday in First District Court in Central Islip after his wife Monica feel off the top of his car after an argument 12:30 Sunday morning.

Monica, his wife, was left near their Islip Terrace, NY apartment in a pool of blood, and she is still in critical condition at a local hospital. Monica, 25 climbed on top of the car to try and get her husband to stop, and slammed her head on the pavement after faling off the roof.

Monica Mircea was taken by ambulance to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, where she was in the intensive care unit yesterday. [Robert] DelCol, [Mircea’s lawyer] said her condition was critical.

Mircea is being held on $50,000 bond and was issued a protection order at the request of Monica’s family, who cheered. The family is also taking care of the couple’s 4 year old son. His next court appearance will be August 5.

Wife who died after lingering on life support leads to murder charge

Eugene A. Shade II, 34, of North Adams, MA, was charged with murder yesterday after the wife he allegedly strangled died at the local hospital Wednesday morning. He plead not guilty to murder in Northern Berkshire District Court On July 22, Eugene Shade strangled his wife, 22 year old Julie, and was charged with attempted murder, domestic assault and battery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a knife) the next day.

The murder happened after an argument where he snapped after discussing separation with his wife. Shade allegedly strangled his wife with a pillow and his hands, then tried to place a knife to her throat, but could’t go through it. He called 911 turned himself in, and let the police videotape him.

Julie Shade's father, James E. Burdick of North Adams, said her mother and grandmother were with her when she died, sometime after midnight.

"We're at a standstill right now," Burdick said. "I have two grandchildren who have no parents, and I'm going to bury a murdered daughter. I'm holding it together with toothpicks right now. I can't tell you how much crying I've done."

He said his daughter had been on life support since July 22 and survived surgery for a collapsed lung on Saturday.

"Every day she kept breathing was a miracle in itself," he said. "She fought with everything she had. She just did not quit at all, but there was only so much she could take."

Burdick and other members of Julie Shade’s family will set up a trust fund for their two daughters, ages 1 and 3. Funeral arrangements was postponed pending the autopsy, which revealed a "preliminary cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest, secondary to strangulation," Judge Michael J. Ripps ordered Shade held without bail and continued the case until September 8. Thew daughters are in the custody of the Department of Social Services.

NJ gym teacher pleads guilty to endangering 16 year old girl's welfare by having sex with her

Daniel W. Kerekes, a 37 year old South Brunswick High School gym teacher, has pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child July 30. He faces 3 years out of a statutory maximum of10 years in prison when he's sentenced October 17 for endangering the welfare of a child.

This charge, which stems from a 9-month sexual relationship with a 16 year old student, is the latest step in legal proceedings which began when he was arrested back in April for more serious charges of sexual assault of a student. Kerekes has been placed onpaid suspension from his job at SBHS gym teacher since his arrest, and it is not currently known if he's been fired or resigned. The accused is also the boys lacrosse coach at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South and makes $59,000 per year at both jobs.

Union County, NC man charged in shooting death of wife after violating protection order

Gregory Coffey, 41, who has had a history of violence against his wife, allegedly killed his estranged wife, 32 year old Towanda Lashawa Chambers Coffey. He forced her into a car, shot her in the back of the head, all the while driving the car towds, then into a shopping mall not far from the Waxhaw police department. Gregory was served a restraining order in June ordering him to stay away from his wife. The order replaced a dropped charge of misdemeanor assault on a female.

The incident began around 6 p.m. Tuesday, when police say Gregory Coffey approached his 32-year-old wife in a convenience store parking lot near downtown Waxhaw. Witnesses told police the man forced the woman into the car, then got in the back seat and pointed a gun at the back of her head.

The two drove off, but minutes later the car struck a brick wall outside the Captain's Galley restaurant on N.C. 75, in the same shopping center as the Waxhaw Police Department.
When police arrived, they found the woman dead from a gunshot wound, and the man on the ground outside, with cuts and bruises. Witnesses said the man shouted several times, “It was an accident.”

Police did not disclose a possible motive.

The victim was married to her husband for 3 years and had a criminal history, both misdemeanor and felony convictions, dating back to 1992. Her history included financial card theft and assault with a deadly weapon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Voyeurism case dropped due to poor wording of law - public places are not protected, but perp sentenced on disorderly conduct charge anyway

(Original Post 5-11-08)
Brian Presken, 32, of Pensacola, is filing a motion to get his misdemeanor voyeurism conviction overturned because of the legal argument that people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in public places. The former teacher allegedly placed a mirror under a woman's skirt at a Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Pensacola last summer.

Presken is suspected of looking under the woman's skirt July 8 at Barnes & Nobles Booksellers on Airport Boulevard in Pensacola.

Here is what, according to a police report, happened:

The woman was slightly bent forward browsing bookshelves when she noticed a flash of light. She said she thought Presken had taken a picture of her. The Pensacola woman said she noticed another flash of light, and when she turned around, Presken's hand was beneath the opening of her skirt, and there was something in his hand.

The woman screamed, and Presken retreated. The woman caught up to Presken, confronted him and called police.Someone in the store found a mirror on a shelf and gave it to police.
Presken, who passed out while being questioned by police, told police he kept a mirror with him to check his appearance. The 26-year-old victim wouldn't comment on the motion.

Victim's advocates acknowledge that depending on how the laws are written, voyeurism charges can be overturned based of poor wording, and that laws need to be clear and concise.

"I guess what would really matters is the way the law in Florida is written," said Ilse Knecht, deputy director of public policy at the National Center for Victims of Crime in Washington, D.C. "It seems ridiculous, but we have to really, really be clear in laws about things like that because every single word gets evaluated, and it makes a difference."

In the motion, defense attorney Katheryne Snowden points out that the statute her client is charged under — 810.14 — doesn't define the phrase "reasonable expectation of privacy."
An analysis of the bill that eventually became law also noted that the phrase was not defined.
According to the motion, "No Florida court has addressed section 810.14 ... or the reasonable expectation of privacy therein." Snowden didn't return messages left at her office.

Since the phrase "resonable expectation of privacy" is undefined, that gives plenty of wiggle room for defendants and their lawyers to fight voyeurism charges. The Florida statute criminalizing video voyeurism gives places where a reasonable expectation of privacy can be found as anyplace where a person can disrobe. Laws in other states have been overtured, and then re-written because defendants have sucessfully used the privacy argument.

In Washington, two men convicted in separate voyeurism cases used the privacy argument when they appealed their cases to their state's supreme court. In 2002, the court overturned the men's convictions, and state lawmakers ended up amending the state's law.

One of the men was accused of taking pictures under the skirts of two female employees at a mall. The other was suspected of videotaping under the skirts and dresses of women and girls at an event in Seattle.

The court said both men had engaged in reprehensible behavior, but the law they were charged under didn't apply to public places.

"They found that the way the law was written wasn't clear that a person should have an expectation of privacy under their clothes in public, which is ridiculous," Knecht said. "But (lawmakers) changed the law to be clear to give people that expectation of privacy."

Many states passed the laws in effort to combat "upskirting" and "downblousing" or the practice of secretly videotaping and taking photographs underneath women's skirts and dresses and down their blouses. The crimes have become more prevalent as cell phones have gotten smaller and more are equipped with cameras.

"It's kind of high-tech Peeping Tom," Knecht said.

Candy Carlisle, a spokeswoman at Cordova Mall, said the mall tries to safeguard customers against crimes like "upskirting" and "downblousing" by making sure security officers are as visible as possible.

She said the more security officers are seen throughout the mall, perhaps people will be less inclined to secretly photograph and videotape women.

Some pictures and videos taken under women's skirts and dresses end up on the Internet. A Google search of the terms upskirting and downblousing reveals thousands of Web sites.

"I think it's really disrespectful," said Heysi Barrientos, 20, who lives in Ensley. "Knowing people do that makes you think about wearing different kinds of clothes."

A victim of voyeurism tells how her life charged after the incident.

Sarah Spivey, 53, of Foley, Ala., was shopping at Books-A-Million in Pensacola last year when a man was accused of taking pictures under her dress. Faith Wilson, 43, of Pensacola, pleaded no contest in the case. Spivey said she had no idea the pictures had been taken until a store employee told her and she talked with police.

"My dress (reached) all the way down to my ankles," she said. "He had to do some contorting to get them."

Spivey said the incident has caused her to be more aware of her surroundings when she's in public.

"I was mortified," she said. "I thought I was safe in the bookstore."

Some victims of voyeurism refer to themselves as sexual assault victims, and some say they experience a feeling of always being watched, Knecht said.

"It's not just a kind of creepy thing," she said. "It actually has a real ramification for victims."

(Update 7-30-08) Presken's appeal of the voyeurism charge was allowed to go ahead, and on May 16, that charge was dropped, though the judge said it was reprehensible.

"As of this moment ... there is no clear prohibition of this reprehensible conduct anywhere in the laws of Florida, especially in the section under which the defendant was charged," Roark said in a May 16 order granting the motion.charge was dismissed as such.

However, prosecutors filed a disorderly conduct charge involving the same incident and charges on May 13. Defense attorney, Katheryne Snowden asked to have the latest charge dropped, which didn't happen.

Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Emerson asked for the maximum sentence for Presken - 60 days in jail, which the victim, a 26 year old woman, concurred with.

"I would have loved to have seen him get 60 days," she said.

However, Judge Roark sentenced Presken to 60 days of electronic monitoring and 6 months probation after he pleaded no contest to the disorderly conduct charge. Roark barred Presken from contact with the victim and her her family or with the bookstore, and banned him from entering Escambia County without permission.

"There is no answer to this situation. It's a very difficult situation for everyone involved, including the court," Judge roark said in closing.

Editorial By Sarah Tofte - Clearing DNA backlogs should prioritize rape kit testing

Every two minutes, someone is raped in the United States. Every year, more than 200,000 rape victims, mostly women, report their rapes to police.

Most consent to the creation of a rape kit, an invasive process for collecting physical evidence (including DNA material) of the assault that can take up to six hours. What most victims don't know is that in thousands of cases, that evidence sits untested in police evidence lockers.

The backlog of untested evidence gained national attention in 2001 when Debbie Smith, a rape victim, testified before Congress. The Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program was started in 2004 with the goal of processing the nearly 400,000 untested rape kits nationwide.
But the program has been expanded to allow states to test backlogged DNA evidence from any crime. Even as the proportion of rape victims who report their assaults is increasing, the processing of rape evidence is still backlogged - and the arrest rate of rapists is decreasing.

If Congress is serious about eliminating this backlog, lawmakers should amend the reauthorization bill to prioritize the testing of rape kits.Rape kits can help identify unknown assailants by matching DNA profiles obtained from evidence to profiles in the FBI's national DNA database. The kits can confirm the presence of a known suspect's DNA, corroborate a victim's version of events or exonerate innocent suspects.

Most states are not required to notify victims if their evidence has not been tested, so people usually have no idea whether their kits have been processed. Many victims assume that silence from the police means that their kit did not yield helpful information.

Over the past four years, Congress has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars for states to conduct DNA testing on evidence from rape crime scenes.

But in reports to the Justice Department from 2005 to 2007, half the states receiving grants indicated that they were not spending all the money, and those that were did not indicate whether they were prioritizing backlogged rape kits.

States are not required to specify how many rape kits they process, and most reports say only how much DNA evidence was tested. Thus, evidence from homicides and other violent nonsexual crimes is regularly processed, while rape kits remain untested.

Congress should require states that receive grants to use at least 30 percent of the money to pay for testing backlogged rape kits. This is the least we can do for rape victims who submit to invasive exams in the hope of bringing their assailants to justice.

Sarah Tofte is a researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Veteran police officer sentenced for stalking ex-wife in May - apparently rapes her last weekend

(Original Post 5-13-08)

Daryl Lee Evans, a 25 year veteran of the Winnipeg Police Department, pleaded guilty to violation of a probation order and failure to comply with probaiton for contacting his ex-wife after she wanted him to leave her alone. He repeatedly e-mailed and called the woman, and even went over to her house. The probation he served stemmed from incidents 19 months ago with the same woman.

The guilty pleas come 19 months after Evans received a one-year suspended sentence on similar charges. Defence lawyer Richard Wolson said Evans finally realizes his marriage is over.
"A marked change has occurred and he has moved on with his life," Wolson said.

Wolson and special prosecutor Don Knight jointly recommended an 18-month suspended sentence as part of a plea bargain that would spare the victim from testifying in court. Knight said the offences were "on the low end of the scale" and did not involve threats or violence.

Judge Linda Giesbrecht accepted the joint recommendation but not the characterization of the harassment as minor.

Whether someone is saying 'I love you and I don't want to break up' ... that can be extremely distressing to someone who doesn't want contact."

(Update 7-30-08) Evans apparantly is at it again. The Winnipeg Free Press reports that a 25 year veteran of the Winnipeg Police Department broke into and violently sexually assaulted an ex-wife last weekend. He was arrested Sunday and charged with sexual assault, burglary, and assault for raping and choking the woman. The woman, who's still in the hospital, had her eyes covered with tape and her limbs bound. She managed to call 911 and her husband appeared in court Monday.

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, the husband and wife's names are banned from Canadian publication due to her status as a sexual assault victim. However, the Free Press says that

The former sergeant was on an unsupervised 18-month probation order after being convicted in May of failing to comply with a court-imposed no-contact order and violating the protection order against him held by his former wife. He was also given a suspended sentence and a $100 fine.

Only Daryl Evans meets that criteria, so Victimized Over The AOC assumes it's him until further notice.

British woman guilty of poisoning husband after planned divorce

From the BBC

A wife from a Cornish village has admitted poisoning her husband three times in four months.
Linda Lees, 45, admitted three counts of slipping drugs into her Royal Navy husband Paul Lees' food and drink after their relationship deteriorated. Lees, from Bosnoweth, Helston, appeared at Truro Crown Court to face the charges committed in March, April and July this year in Helston and Exeter.

Mother-of-one Lees was bailed for sentencing on 7 October.

Her engineer husband Paul, also aged 45, met her when he was posted from Portsmouth to the Naval Air station at Culdrose, near Helston. But six months ago, after 23 years of marriage and affairs by both, he decided the relationship was going to end. Lees used her own tranquilisers or the date rape drug GHB to stupefy her husband, apparently to find out if he was in another relationship.

In one incident she intercepted his food at an Exeter restaurant and laced it with poison by telling the waiter she was going to put her wedding ring into the meal. She told the waiter she was having a romantic reconciliation with her husband and wanted to surprise him by finding the ring in his meal. Instead he became groggy and realised he had been poisoned.
In another incident Lees poisoned a Chinese takeaway meal.

After the case Det Con Martin Skinner said: "This really was a crime of passion.
"It is fair to say there had been a strained relationship throughout the 23 years they had been married. Paul Lees is in the forces and his long absences led to the relationship deteriorating. It appears she may have been trying to find out if he had any other relationship going on."

Preacher charged with murder in death of missing wife

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Police believe a body found in a small-time evangelist's home freezer is his wife and a mother of eight, and arrested him on a murder charge as he preached at a south Alabama church. Anthony Hopkins, 37, was being held in the Mobile County jail Wednesday awaiting a bond hearing and appointment of an attorney.

Police said no one reported 36-year-old Arletha Hopkins missing, even though she hadn't been heard from in three years. The body was discovered covered in a freezer in a utility room during a police search of the home in Mobile after a relative of the preacher contacted police.
Mobile Police Chief Phillip Garrett said Hopkins was arrested Monday night at at a revival in Jackson, a town in rural Clarke County where he has roots. The pastor of Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Beverly Jackson, told reporters that Hopkins told her he was a single parent because his wife had died in childbirth.

Police awaited results of forensic tests to determine the cause of death, but Garrett said authorities believe it is Hopkins' wife. The freezer was moved to a forensics lab.

Garrett said Anthony Hopkins, the father of six of the eight children, has been charged with rape and sodomy in a separate case involving the female relative and could face more charges related to another relative.

Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. said the children who lived with Hopkins — who ranged in age from 3 to 19 — have been taken into protective custody by the Department of Human Resources.

Garrett said the Hopkins children were home-schooled. He said Hopkins "kept to himself," and apparently moved from place to place. Neighbors called him "Rev." because he attended church so often, loading the children into a van.

Police said he preached at various churches and did not appear to be affiliated with a particular denomination. At the church in Jackson, Hopkins was delivering a message about forgiveness that drew encouraging "amens" from the congregation.

Clarke County Sheriff's Chief Investigator Sgt. Ron Baggett said he listened through the church door before assisting in the arrest about 10 p.m. Monday. About 25 people were in the congregation at the time.

Mississippi girlfriend murderer loses appeal to state Court of Appeals

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The state Court of Appeals has upheld the murder conviction and life sentenced handed a Plantersville man in 2007 for the murder of his estranged girlfriend.Bernard Young, who did not testify at his Lee County trial, has maintained that he didn't kill Tamara Neil.

Neil was shot three times and her body was found in her car on June 26, 2006, on Mississippi Highway 6 between Tupelo and Plantersville.She was the mother of Young's two children.

Prosecutors say Young followed Neil around Tupelo on the morning of her death. They say Young blocked the victim's car at the Plantersville city limits sign and fired five shots at her.The Appeals Court on Tuesday rejected Young's claims.

Suburban Dallas man sentenced to 30 years for murdering wife

A retired ironworker who wanted to change the guilty plea for shooting his wife to death was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday, July 28 by District Judge Mike Thomas in Criminal District Court No. 4. Freddie Willhite, 69, killed his wife at 7:30 in the evening at their home in the Dallas suburb of North Richland Hills on March 19 of last year.

Willhite claimed that his wife Donna, 66, had enticed and ridiculed him his whole life. During testimony in the punishment phase, Tarrant County Deputy Medical Examiner Lloyd White testified that Donna Willhite was shot at close range.

Their daughter, Mellisa Martinez, described her father as a violent drunk who tried to get her to move out of the couple’s shared home. She felt her father would be dangerous to both the community and her, and that Willhite had mailed the daughter a drawing of where her mother was shot.

Martinez had told relatives not to allow her father inside their home if he was drunk.
"On the Saturday before the incident, he called and left a message saying that mother had died," Martinez testified. "I quickly called her, and she said she was fine, but I found it very odd that he would do that."

On the evening of March 19, 2007, Freddie Willhite called his daughter, saying he was angry with Donna Willhite. "He kept saying, 'That’s it, that’s it,’ his daughter said Willhite said.

Willhite tried to change his plea July 16 because, in his own words, lawyer Scott Brown of Fort Worth, "told me I don’t have a chance [and] said that the jury would be mad for taking up their time with the case."

However, Judge Thomas said the defendant knew what he was doing. The prosecuting attorney was Tarrant County assistant district attorney Rebecca McIntire. Willhite can get out in 15 years with good behavior.

Walter Sayre, Akron, OH rapist, sentenced to 19 years

Walter Sayre, a 37 year old Akron, OH rapist who served prison time for the 1992 rape of a 72 year old woman, was sentenced to 19 years in prison and a Tier III sex offender listing yesterday for assaulting a 57 year old Kenmore, OH woman on February 19 this year knowing he was HIV positive. Out of prison for only 6 months, Sayre pled guilty to rape, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and felonious assault. Judge Judith Hunter was the presiding judge. Tier III sex offenders have to stay on The List for life, and must report to the police every 3 months. Ohio prison sentences carry no “good time,” but prison time can be added for bad behavior.

Calgary, Alberta businessman gets 1 1/2 years probation for groping 17 year old


Groping a teen he'd plied with alcohol while in the "throes of a mid-life crisis," has landed a Calgary man an 18-month term of probation.

Provincial court Judge Anne Brown said the discharge sought by defence lawyer Balfour Der for Phillip Howard Graham, in part because of a positive psychological report, wasn't warranted.
And Brown was critical of the objectivity of Dr. Thomas Dalby's assessment, although she accepted his opinion Graham was a low risk to reoffend.

In his report, Dalby said Graham is "concerned about moral standards and rules," Brown noted.
"This assessment certainly flies in the face of the court finding that Mr. Graham was in essence acting out on the throes of a mid-life crisis," she said.

Brown said Graham abandoned "his role as the mature, responsible adult by being the least mature person in the situation."

Graham was convicted of sexual assault in an incident two years ago in which he groped a 17-year-old guest attending his daughter's house party.

Brown ruled the city businessman, then 53, plied the teen with alcohol to the point she became ill and flirted with her so openly his daughter sent him to his room. After a nap, Graham went out to their hot tub and was soon joined by others, including the victim.

He pulled the teen close to him and put his hand under her swim suit. The girl jumped from the hot tub, leaving the home.

Brown said an aggravating factor to the crime was Graham was in a position of trust over the partygoers. "Far from acting as a responsible adult, Mr. Graham seemed rather to be trying to curry favour with young people 35 years his junior," she said.

Conditions of Graham's probation include that he undergo counselling for self-esteem, alcohol abuse and gender sensitivity, and complete 75 hours of community service.

Kathie DeFelice, Danvers MA, gets 8 to 13 years for stabbing ex-boyfriend to death

A 48 year old Danvers, MA woman who originally faced 1st degree murder charges for stabbing her ex-boyfriend, a 55 year old house painter, to death will serve 8 to 13 years in a Massachusetts prison after jurors convicted her of manslaughter Thursday, July 24.

After 7 years of an off and on relationship and a restraining order that Kathie DeFelice took out on William Olsen Jr, a housepainter, DeFelice broke her own restraining order to contact Olsen. After two weeks of calling him, with some calls lasting 5 hours, DeFelice invited Olsen back to her apartment on October 30, 2006.

It was there that DeFelice stabbed him with a kitchen knife that entered the center of his chest, pierced his pericardial sac and aorta and caused him to bleed to death within minutes. DeFelice testified that she grabbed the knife from a table and stabbed blindly as Olsen tried to strangle her, provoked, she said, by her request that he stop contacting her family. Then she ran out of the apartment.

But prosecutor Kate MacDougall offered jurors a different scenario, one in which DeFelice was jealous that Olsen had moved on, starting a new relationship, that she was angry because her own new boyfriend had decided to go home for the night, that she felt abandoned, perhaps, when Olsen passed out drunk on the sofa.

Salem Superior Court Judge David Lowy said while sentencing DeFelice,

"Only Ms. DeFelice knows what happened in that room on Oct. 30, 2006, but we know that the jury did not find beyond a reasonable doubt an absence of excessive force in self-defense, heat of passion or sudden combat."

Questions ramain in Megan Touma's death

Tom Foreman Jr.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)- Even with a suspect in custody, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the death of a pregnant soldier found in a motel bathtub in Fayetteville more than a month ago.

Police have charged Fort Bragg soldier Edgar Patino in the death of Army Spc. Megan L. Touma, but investigators haven't released a cause of death or motive.

Touma was last seen alive not long after she arrived on June 12 at Fort Bragg, home to the Army's 82nd Airborne Division and its Special Operations Command. She was divorced, though authorities have said nothing about the father of her child.

She was temporarily assigned to Fort Bragg's 19th Replacement Company, and would have eventually been assigned to work at a base dental clinic.

Police scheduled an 11 a.m. news conference Wednesday, the same day Patino is scheduled to appear in court.
Patino was arrested without incident at his home Tuesday, said Lt. Lars Paul, a police watch commander. He was being held in the Cumberland County jail without bond.

Sgt. Patino was transferred to Fort Bragg in December 2007, said Bruce Anderson, spokesman with the U.S. Army Europe. Before that, Patino had been assigned as a combat engineer to the 18th Engineer Brigade in Bamberg, Germany, Anderson said.

Touma, 23, was found dead June 21 at a Fayetteville motel after a maintenance supervisor smelled a foul odor coming from a room, which had been protected by a "Do Not Disturb" sign for four days. A dental specialist from Cold Spring, Ky., Touma was seven months pregnant and had recently arrived from a base in Germany.

Authorities have said a soldier studying psychological warfare at Fort Bragg was a person of interest in the case. It wasn't immediately clear if police were referring to Patino.

Police also investigated a letter sent to The Fayetteville Observer from a person who claimed to be a serial killer responsible for Touma's death. The letter featured a circle-and-cross drawing that was the same as one used a generation ago by San Francisco's infamous Zodiac Killer. Authorities said a similar symbol had also been drawn in lipstick on the motel room mirror.
Police have said they believed the letter was written to mislead investigators and the news media.

Touma is among three servicewomen killed in recent months near a North Carolina military base.

Earlier this month, Army 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc, 24, was found dead in a wooded area near Camp Lejeune three days after a suspicious fire at her Fayetteville apartment. Her estranged husband, Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, who is stationed at Camp Lejeune, has been charged in her death.

In January, the burned body of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, who was eight months pregnant, was discovered in a shallow grave near Camp Lejeune in the back yard of her former co-worker and a man she accused of rape, Cpl. Cesar Laurean. Laurean fled to Mexico but was arrested April 10. He has been charged with murder and is awaiting extradition.

During a news conference, police said that Patino, who was married, was the father of Touma's unborn baby, and that he was the last person who went into Touma's hotel room while she was alive.

6 months probation for boyfriend of woman stuck to toilet

NESS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A man whose girlfriend sat on a toilet for so long that the seat adhered to her body will spend six months on probation.

Kory McFarren pleaded no contest last month to a misdemeanor count of mistreatment of a dependent adult. A judge sentenced him Tuesday to six months in jail but granted the probation after the victim, Pam Babcock, asked for leniency.

"She didn't believe that her circumstances were his fault," Ness County Attorney Craig Crosswhite said.

Babcock's plight became known in February when McFarren called the Ness County sheriff, expressing concern about his live-in girlfriend. When authorities arrived, they found Babcock physically stuck to the toilet.

McFarren told police Babcock had refused to come out of the bathroom for two years. Medical personnel estimated she'd been sitting on the toilet for at least a month and said the seat had adhered to sores on her body.

She is now under the protection of a guardian who was appointed through the legal department at the hospital where she received treatment. Also Tuesday, McFarren was sentenced to six months in jail for an unrelated charge of lewd and lascivious behavior for exposing himself to a teenage neighbor in March.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Provo, UT man sentenced for sex with disabled woman

A Provo, UT man was sentenced to up to 5 years in prison for having sex with a woman with spina bifida who had the "understanding of a teenager," according to court documents.

A charge of first-degree felony rape was dismissed against Jessie Ervin Dodds as part of a plea deal, and the charge of attempted forcible sexual abuse was reduced from a second-degree to a third-degree felony. Dodds, 30, admitted after his June 1 arrest to having sexual intercourse with a woman who he said ''may not have been able to understand what was happening,'' according to a police affidavit.

Dodds, a longtime family friend, raped the woman May 30. He was on probation for 3rd degree felony forgery and theft, but the new charges will be served concurrently, not consecutively with the 0 to 5 year sentences for the other convictions reinstated due to the probation violation.

Jen Gonzales, Payton UT teacher, sentenced to 6 months jail, 3 years probation for sleeping with proctor son

Jennifer Gonzalez of Payson, UT was sentenced yesterday to 6 months in jail and 3 years probation for the seduction of a 16 year old boy that she was supposed to mentor as her proctor son. (A proctor son in Utah is like a foster son elsewhere, except the proctor child is intended to be reunited with their original family.) Judge Samuel McVey, who presided over the case, also ordered her to complete a sex offender treatment program and pay a $975 fine and possible restitution for counseling.

She was arrested after her husband Richard came home from work and found her and the boy with candles and oils, both with their pants down. The teen ran into the bathroom with his pants down and Jenn who was topless, pulled her pants up.

Richard pulled out a 9 mm handgun at both parties, threatening to kill Jenn and ordering the teen out of the house. For that, he was sentenced last month to 18 months of probation for threatening or using a dangerous weapon in a fight. The couple filed for divorce in May. Jenn pleaded guilty to 2 counts of attempted criminal forcible sexual abuse, a 3rd degree Utah felony on June 4. (Jen's original charges were 2 counts of criminal forcible sexual abuse, a 2nd degree felony). Richard pleaded no contest on June 14 to his charges and served 20 days in jail.

Judge Samuel McVey heard arguments from deputy county attorney Mariane O'Bryant why Utah's Adult Probation and Parole's recommendation of jail time should be followed. The argument was that Jenn was in a position of trust, and that he believed he was in love with the teacher.

"This individual, as well as many of our teenage victims, thought that he was in love with this individual... and frankly did not disclose to us everything that happened until it was clear there was no relationship." Prosecutors were told about sexual contact which was more frequent than stated in his initial statement.

The mother and grandmother of the boy urged Judge McVey to jail Jenn, stating,
"Jenn, the day you first took [my grandson] home from the detention center I gave you one of my most precious possessions...He needed someone to love him and take care of him, but instead of being a parent for him you took this time to work on him so you could satisfy your own sexual urges and make yourself happy at his expense. He trusted you. We all trusted you. We asked him to care for him as a mother, not a lover."

Defense attorney Mike Esplin said that Jen Gonzales was in sex offender treatment since her arrest, and that she needed probation with GPS to keep the 2 jobs she had been working since she was fired from her position as a teacher at Mt. Nebo Junior High School. She taught 6th and 7th graders with behavioral problems at the Cornerstone Unit, an alternative program.

McVey, in sentencing, denied Esplin's request, stating that Jen's position of trust, as well as the 15 year age difference, meant that "regardless of whether he, as a matter of fact, consented to this, as a matter of law he was incapable of consenting....You were in a position of responsibility, entrusted by the state of Utah and society in general to provide appropriate supervision for this minor- That obviously did not happen."

Joseph Blue case - "Jekyll and Hyde" "boyfriend" convicted of rape

‘Mr. Hyde’ guilty of rape, assault
JESSIE STENSLAND, Assistant editor Published: July 23, 2008 12:00 AM Updated: July 24, 2008 4:23 PM
Panties don’t fit, but they won’t acquit

A man described as “Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde” by the county prosecutor is going to prison for strangling and raping his ex-girlfriend last August.

A jury in Island County Superior Court found Joseph Blue, a 28-year-old Oak Harbor man, guilty of rape in the first degree and assault in the second degree by strangulation. The verdict was read last Friday, after seven days of testimony by the victim, police, doctors, witnesses and competing experts.

In the end, members of the jury evidently agreed with Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks’ portrait of Blue.“This case is about the Jeckyl-and-Hyde behavior of this man, Joseph Blue,” Banks said in his opening statement.

“It was triggered by jealousy and fueled by alcohol, cocaine, prescription medication and marijuana,” he added.

Blue’s attorney, Jon Ostlund of Anacortes, tried to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case by questioning the victim’s credibility and the lack of forensic evidence.

“This is a case of exaggeration, a case of fabrication, a case of vindictiveness,” Ostlund said.
Ostlund repeated over and over that Blue was guilty of assaulting the woman, but not of raping or strangling her.

The first witness was a dispatcher who brought a 911 tape of the frightened woman asking for help after Blue had left her apartment after a night and morning of terror.“He told me he was going to kill me over and over and over again while he was strangling me,” the woman said.
The victim, a 30-year-old Oak Harbor woman, spent hours on the stand during the trial, answering questions about her ordeal. She asked that her name not be used in the newspaper.

The petite, soft-spoken woman explained that she and Blue had lived together, but she had kicked him out before he went to Alaska last year. When he returned, they still hung out as friends.

She explained that Blue had badly fractured his wrist the day before the assault. She said he was taking a lot of prescription pain medication, but was also intoxicated from alcohol, cocaine and pot.

She described how Blue beat her, bit her all over her body, urinated on her head, dragged her by the hair, gouged her eyes with his thumbs, hit her with a belt, sodomized her, raped her and strangled her several times, once causing her to lose consciousness.

“If he wasn’t strangling me or hitting me, he was lecturing me on how this was my fault,” she said, “and trying to make me understand that this was what I deserve.”

The woman started crying while describing the strangulation.

“I couldn’t fight. He was so strong. He was so strong,” she said. “I kept thinking to myself, this is it.”

During the trial, Banks introduced testimony from two other women who claimed that Blue had assaulted and raped them in other states. The testimony was allowed, Banks explained, in order to show that beating, strangling and raping women was part of “a common scheme or plan” for Blue.

Blue’s ex-girlfriend claimed that he had beaten her very badly, choked her until she lost consciousness and raped her. She managed to escape and ran out of the home naked. She had photos taken of the injuries.

“Her whole face was a mess,” Banks said after the trial. “It looked like a Halloween mask.”

Blue’s ex-wife took the stand and testified about two incidents of alleged violence. She claimed he strangled her and hit her inside a truck, then slammed the vehicle’s door on her hand.

She claimed he assaulted her again, 10 days later. She said he smothered her with a pillow and later raped her.
Blue didn’t testify at the trial, which his attorney called a strategic decision.

In his closing argument, Ostlund said there was “no objective evidence” to support that Blue either raped or strangled the woman. Doctors testified that the forensic results are unclear. Also, Ostlund pointed out that Blue’s hand was broken. His orthopedic surgeon testified that he wouldn’t have been able to use the hand without intolerable pain, even with all the drugs he took.

But Banks countered that Blue obviously was able to beat the woman and hold her down to bite her, which Ostlund didn’t refute. Banks showed the jury numerous photos of the woman’s injuries. The prosecutor said it’s not a stretch to think that Blue also could have strangled and raped the small woman, even with one hand.

In a bizarre turn of the trial, Ostlund discussed a pair of skimpy, thong underwear that the victim testified Blue had worn. She claimed Blue told her he got them from his friend “Todd.”
Wearing rubber gloves, Ostlund held the panties up for the jury and argued that his client wouldn’t fit in them. He questioned why they weren’t tested for DNA.

Banks, however, said the underwear was just a distraction from the important evidence in the case. He said “Todd” provided a real bit of comic relief when he testified about the thong and other underthings.

“I would encourage you to use gloves if you are going to handle it,” he told the jury.

Blue could face more than 10 years in prison when he is sentenced at 9 a.m. on Aug. 22.

Banks said the sentence range will depend on whether the two charges are considered separate crimes or part of the same act. The likely range, he said, is an indeterminate sentence with a minimum of 93 to 123 months. Blue would have to serve the minimum sentence and go before a review board that will decide whether to release him.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at or call 675-6611.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Military women fight rape, sexual harassment

The Associated Press
8:28 AM CDT, July 27, 2008

Sexual assault and harassment involving female military personnel is not a new consequence of war. But the sheer number of women serving today — more than 190,000 so far in Iraq and Afghanistan — is forcing the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs to more aggressively address the issue.

131 attacks reported

In the fiscal year that ended Oct. 1, 131 rapes and assaults were reported in Iraq and Afghanistan among members of the military, said Kaye Whitley, director of the Defense Department's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. Comparing that to previous years isn't possible because of changes in the way data was collected, she said.

Barging in

Carolyn Schapper, 35, alleges she was harassed in Iraq by a fellow Army National Guard soldier to the extent that she began changing clothes in the shower for fear he'd barge into her room unannounced — as he already had on several occasions. Schapper, of Washington, said she never filed a formal complaint. If she complained, Schapper figured, she'd be the one moved — not the other soldier.

A matter of trust

When victims do complain, too often the perpetrator is not moved out or punished, said Colleen Mussolino, national commander of the Women Veterans of America. "You have to be able to trust fellow soldiers, and if you can't do that, you're basically on your own. So it's really rough, really rough for them," Mussolino said.

Other problemsDepression, anxiety, problem drinking, sexually transmitted diseases and domestic abuse have been linked to sexual abuse, according to the Miles Foundation, a non-profit group that supports victims of violence associated with the military. Since 2002, the foundation says, it has received more than 1,000 reports of assault and rape in the U.S. Central Command areas of operation, which include Iraq and Afghanistan.

The military acts

After high-profile attacks in Kuwait and Iraq, a confidential component was added to the military's reporting system, so a victim can seek help without necessarily triggering an investigation. This summer, the Pentagon is also is working with the non-profit group Men Can Stop Rape to help teach troops how to identify warning signs of problems around them. In January, the VA opened its 16th inpatient ward specializing in treating victims of military sexual trauma. And in response to complaints that it is too male-focused in its care, the VA is making changes such as adding keyless entry locks on hospital-room doors so women patients feel safer.

The impact

The data that exists — incomplete and not up-to-date — offers no proof that women in the war zones are more vulnerable to sexual assault than other female service members, or American women in general. What is known is that the effects of a military sexual trauma can be long-lasting: The VA still sees veterans who experienced sexual attacks in Vietnam and even World War II.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Cowboy" Mike sentenced to 47 3/4 years in prison for rape, murder

"Cowboy" Mike Braae was sentenced Thursday, July 24 to 47 ¾ years in the Washington State prison system for the 2001 rape and murder of 44 year old Lori Jones. Superior Court Judge Richard Strophy called Brahe one on the few “truly dangerous” individuals he met in his 37 year legal career, and said to the convicted murderer and rapist, "That's your epitaph, and you're proud of it so you can swagger on to the Department of Corrections."

A jury found Braae guilty of murder and first-degree rape May 22, six years to the day after he was charged.

Jones' two daughters, Elisa Jones, 18, and Melinda Frazier, 32, testified at trial and had planned to speak at the sentencing by telephone. Jones is visiting Frazier in Tennessee, where she is stationed with the Navy.

Shandi Druett, Jones' legal guardian, said the daughters changed their minds because they had nothing more to add and felt comfortable leaving the decision in the judge's hands. They asked prosecutors to seek the maximum penalty. Strophy sentenced Braae to 573 months in prison — the top of the sentencing range.

Druett said the sentencing was a huge relief and provides closure so the daughters can move on with their lives. "We're very happy this is the end, and we're very happy with the outcome," she said.

Brahe told Strophy he had nothing to do with Jones’ murder and that his defense attouneys did not interview witnesses that would have freed him from jail. "I wouldn't be standing here convicted of this crime today" if lawyers Larry Jefferson and James Shackleton did a better job representing him.

He will serve the sentence for murder and rape after he completes his Idaho sentence for aggravated assault and fleeing a police officer in 2012. He will be processed by the Washington DOC before being returned back to Idaho.

Prior to Thursday's sentencing, Brahe's lawyers had argued Strophy should dismiss the rape conviction — resulting in a lesser sentencing range — because the rape and murder constituted a single act.

"The events were not separate and distinct conduct," they wrote in their memorandum to the court. "Rather, the rape was integral to Ms. Jones death."

Strophy agreed with the prosecution that the crimes were distinct because Braae's intent changed while committing them. Braae's intent in raping Jones was to have sex by force.

"When Braae concluded the rape, and proceeded to murder Lori Jones, his objective intent changed as he strangled her to death," according to their sentencing memorandum.

Brahe testified he met Jones 3 months prior to her death, but forensics proved he was in Jones’ apartment when she died, 2 days after he killed her.

Vernon Center, CT man sentenced to 2 decades in prison

Oral Haines was sentenced to 20 years in prison and 10 years of special parole in Vernon Superior Court Friday, July 25 for molesting a family member between ages 9 and 23. His conviction was after only 3 hours of jury deliberation. Because of the statute of limitations in effect when the abuse was finally reported back in 2003, Haines was only charged with the sexual abuse occuring after the victim was 21 and not the childhood and adolescent sexual abuse, but it was factored into Haines' sentence.

The abuse started as inappropriate touching, she said, before progressing to further sexual abuse, including intercourse. The woman also told jurors that she eventually began using birth control so that Haines would not impregnate her.

Haines, charged with 2 dozen counts of 3rd degree sexual assault and a count of 1st degree sexual assault, was found guilty on all counts. He denied the charges, then said that the sex was consensual between himself and the victim.

During his two-week trial, defense lawyers Jeff Kestenband and Moira Buckley questioned why the woman waited so long to report the lengthy childhood abuse; Haines was charged with only two years’ worth of assaults due in part to the state’s statute of limitations on sexual crimes.

However, expert testimony revealed to the court that victims of traumatic abuse often hide the details of their abuse from others due to a deep sense of shame or responsibility, even going so far as to protect their abusers. After just three hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Haines of one count of first-degree sexual assault and 24 counts of third-degree sexual assault, acquitting him of one count of first-degree kidnapping.

Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Leaming, who prosecuted the trial, said that his actions were “one of the most heinous crimes one can commit. Never once, prior to the trial or since, has the defendant shown the slightest bit of remorse.”

The victim also spoke at the sentencing, and said “I’m sure you thought I wouldn’t show up for the trial; that I wouldn’t stay the course. That you still had control over me.”

The woman called herself the voice for those women who come forward to confront their abusers “even if their families or society ostracizes them.”

Kestenband, however, argued for less jail time for the man he said was a good person and a good father; one who suffered from a background of mental illness and parental abuse. According to Kestenband, Haines’s father was physically and emotionally abusive, and many of Haines’ behaviors mirror those that his father inflicted on him.

Another factor in sentencing, Kestenband said, should be Haines’ life expectancy. Haines, 52, is without work, on disability, and is plagued by physical ailments.“Eight years, for somebody in his position, is a significant period of incarceration,” Kestenband said, after proposing a maximum eight-year sentence for Haines.Many of Haines’ friends and family also spoke during the sentencing in support of their friend and father, supporting Kestenband’s comments.

Conditions of special parole include sex offender treatment and registration, no contact with the victim or pornography. Kestenband plans to appeal.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ottawa, ON woman gets 8 years for killing husband

Husband killer gets 8 years
Compassion for 'well-liked' woman outweighed by violence of crime, judge says during sentencing
The Ottawa Sun

Friends gasped as the judge sent Teresa Pohchoo Craig to jail for eight years for stabbing her sleeping husband to death with a butcher knife. "We love you Teresa," a crying woman said as the 51-year-old was led out of an Ottawa courtroom yesterday morning.

Friends had hoped Craig, who a jury found guilty of manslaughter in the March 2006 killing of her husband Jack Craig, would be sentenced to about two years.

Defence lawyer Richard Morris had argued that Craig was driven to kill by years of emotional abuse at the hands of a domineering and controlling man who physically abused the couple's son.

Judge Robert Maranger said he had compassion for Teresa Craig, for what she endured living with a "mean, disrespectful" man like Jack Craig, but felt an eight-year penitentiary term would help to deter others from similar crimes.

"This was a cruel and monstrous act committed by a fundamentally decent human being," Maranger said.

Paramedics found Jack Craig in the Kemptville mobile home where he lived with his wife and son, critically injured with stab wounds to his chest, after a 911 call from a neighbour's home. She later made a videotaped confession to police.

The Craigs had been married 14 years after meeting through a penpal service. Teresa lived in Malaysia and came to Canada to marry him. The level of support Craig received through her trial was "unprecedented" in his time as a judge, Maranger said.

"Mrs. Craig is a person who is very well-liked and who seems to be easy to like."
But sentencing must be based on the idea that a just society is measured by the value it places on a human life, he said.

Many mitigating factors -- Craig's clean criminal record, good character, diagnosis of depression and post traumatic stress disorder at the time, and her low risk to reoffend -- were outweighed by the violence of the crime, he said.

"There were two, deep penetrating wounds that had to involve plunging the knife with a serious degree of force into the body of Jack Craig, virtually burying the entire blade into his body," Maranger said.

The fact the victim was asleep and "physically defenseless" when he was attacked and that their then-10-year-old son was sleeping 15 feet away further aggravated the circumstances in the judge's mind.

"It is clearly a case where a conditional sentence is inappropriate as a term of imprisonment should be well in excess of two years," he said, prompting gasps from the court benches, which were filled with Teresa Craig's supporters.

A young girl in the second row put her face in her hands and started to cry.

Manslaughter penalties range from a suspended sentence to life in prison.
"In this case, that there was some abuse, is undeniable. However, I cannot equate what occurred in this relationship with the line of cases where battered woman syndrome was applied as a significant mitigating factor," the judge told the court.

"I am very sympathetic to Mrs. Craig, I have compassion for Mrs. Craig, but it would run completely contrary to the evidence heard at this trial to find that the aggravating factors in this case when compared to the mitigating factors don't make this, by definition, a near murder."
Craig has four months credit for time she has already served in jail. She will have to give a sample of her DNA and is prohibited from owning weapons for the rest of her life.

London, ON area men plead guilty to sexual assault for exposing "partners" to HIV

Men withheld HIV status
Both plead guilty to aggravated sexual assault
The London Free Press

Both men were ordered to tell their intimate partners they were HIV positive.
And both pleaded guilty yesterday to having unprotected sex with unsuspecting girlfriends.
Edward Kelly, 32, and Tendai Mazambani, 34, each pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault in separate cases. Both are to be sentenced later.

Kelly, 32, has a previous conviction in the London area for the same offence in 2003.
Acting Middlesex Crown attorney Mary Potter told Superior Court Justice Johanne Morissette that Kelly was diagnosed with the HIV virus in October 1997.

In September 2002, he was issued a public health order to tell all his sexual partners he was infected and to wear a condom.

But on June 3, 2005, he met a 37-year-old woman, whose identity is protected by court order, on Quest, an Internet personal chat line, court was told. They hit it off, met in person the next day and had protected sex two days later.

Kelly did not tell her he was HIV positive, court heard.

On June 11, 2005, they had sex again, this time without protection. And he did not tell her about his medical status, Potter said.

At the end of July, the woman believed Kelly had not been upfront with her and was often unreliable when setting up times to see her. She broke off the relationship. In August 2005, Kelly was arrested and his parole was revoked. Eight months later, he was released from custody and called the woman.

She picked him up a week later. They continued to be friends, Potter said, until the woman was asked by one of Kelly's roommates if she knew about his HIV.

A day later, on May 2, 2006, the woman called police. Kelly was arrested the next day.
The woman has been tested and remains HIV negative.

Kelly's lawyer, Robert Farrington, said the Crown had agreed to delay the sentencing to Sept. 18 to give Kelly time to put his personal affairs in order. He has been on bail since May 2007.
Mazambani's plea was to one charge, but seven more remain outstanding until his sentencing July 31.

"Guilty," he said softly from the prisoner's box to the charge involving a woman he knew socially in 2006.

Geoff Beasley, acting for the Crown, said between May and September 2006 Mazambani had sex with the woman. They had three conversations about HIV and Mazambani denied having the virus, the woman said.

Mazambani never told the woman his HIV status, Beasley said, and she has said she would never had engaged in sexual relations with him had she known. She said she didn't find out until after the relationship ended. She has been tested for the virus since and remains HIV negative.

Mazambani's sentencing was adjourned for a week to give the victim a chance to attend.

Torturer convicted of 19 hours of inflicting hell on 23 year old victim - sentenced to life

(Original Post 6-24-08)

NEW YORK (AP) -- An ex-convict was found guilty Tuesday in the rape and torture of a Columbia University graduate student who survived 19 hours of nightmarish sadism in which he scalded her with boiling water and attempted to blind her before trying to burn her to death.

Robert Williams was convicted of attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, arson and other charges in the attack, which was so prolonged and agonizing that the victim begged her tormentor to kill her and later tried to kill herself.

The verdict followed a gruesome trial that included dramatic testimony from the victim, who said Williams, 31, made her swallow fistfuls of painkillers, ordered her to gouge out her eyes with scissors, sealed her lips with super glue and gagged her with duct tape before torching her apartment.

Williams, who was found guilty of all but two of 46 counts, was not in court to hear the verdict read. The judge said that when Williams was told a verdict had been reached, he simply turned over in his courthouse cell and went back to sleep.

"He didn't have any more reaction to that than he has had to anything else," said Williams' attorney, Arnold Levine.

The victim and her relatives, in the front row of the courtroom, showed no reaction while the verdicts were read. Her father, on behalf of the family, later declined to comment.
Williams, who previously served eight years in prison for attempted murder, could get a life sentence at a hearing set for July 24.

When the trial began June 5, prosecutor Ann Prunty told jurors that Williams had violated the victim "in every way imaginable -- and in some ways unimaginable," then tried to finish her off by burning her alive.

The evidence against Williams included DNA from the victim found on a shirt he was wearing when he was arrested and DNA from him on one of the woman's T-shirts. The victim also identified him in court.

The woman told teary jurors that Williams repeatedly raped and sodomized her, scalded her with boiling water, threw bleach at her eyes in an attempt to blind her and slit her eyelids during the excruciating torture in her upper Manhattan apartment.

Tied up and left unconscious to die in a fire her attacker set in her apartment, the woman woke up and used the flames to burn through some of her restraints and escape what might have become her crematorium.Prunty credited the victim's intelligence and mental toughness with helping her survive, despite the emotional and physical pain.

The victim testified that she memorized features and scars of her torturer while trying to connect with him -- even asking about his taste in music -- and trying to convince him she wouldn't identify him to authorities.

The nearly three-week trial was unusual in that the defendant was in court just once for a few hours. He was forced to show up on the day the victim testified and pointed him out to the jury as her rapist and torturer.

(Update 7-26-08) State Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman sentenced Williams to a minimum sentence of 422 years, stating that for the sake of public safety, she doesn't want him to ever get out again. She said about the victim,

"Everyone who witnessed (the victim's) testimony in this courtroom had to be impressed by her bravery, her intelligence and her extraordinary grace."

When the defense attorney stated that he wanted his client to be sentenced "in a way to give him hope of going home one day," Judge Berkman replied, "The defendant, by his own conduct, has forfeited any hope of liberty."

Man pleads guilty to groping woman onboard airplane

(Original Post 4-22-08)

Federal authorities indicted Michael Lamar Holland, 46, on abusive sexual contact charges for an incident where he allegedly groped a 39 year old woman. Holland originally struck up a conversation wiht the 39 year old alleged victim, but started to stroke her hair, then other places. The woman got away from Holland, and was taken to another seat.

Groping led to United Airlines flight's diversion to Pittsburgh
"The next thing you know, he's groping her," said Hresko. "The flight attendants asked our (air marshals) to get involved."Holland was handcuffed by air marshals and taken to an empty seat in another part of the plane, Hresko said. The pilot opted to divert the flight to Pittsburgh so Holland could be removed, said Hresko. United Airlines officials did not immediately return a call for comment.

The flight left Dulles carrying 182 passengers at 6:08 p.m. and landed in Pittsburgh about an hour later. Pittsburgh airport officials said the flight continued on to Seattle at 9:35 p.m. It was not immediately clear if Holland had an attorney, or whether he would remain in custody in Pittsburgh. He was held overnight in the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh prior to appearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay.Holland did not appear to be intoxicated when he was taken into custody Sunday night, Hresko said. "There was no alcohol on his breath, and when he was interviewed he said he hadn't had a drink for five years," Hresko said.The offense of abusive sexual contact, a federal misdemeanor, is punishable by [two years]
in prison and a [$250,000]fine.

Holland plead guilty Tuesday to abusive sexual contact in federal court. No sexual intent need be proven, just the harm to the victim in an abusive sexual contact charge, unlike other, more serious charges.

(Update 7-26-08) Holland was sentenced to a year's home detention for the above crime. Federal guidelines call for 6 to 12 months in federal prison.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Donald Phares sentenced to 9 years for murder of wife of 4 decades

Donald Phares, of Flora Vista, NM, was sentenced to 9 years in prison for killing his wife of 40 years on October 13, 2007, a sentence possible only because their daughter Amy suggested the plea agreement. He killed his wife Shan by shooting her in the back of the head with a .22 caliber gun while she prepared their breakfast. Donald has never formally admitted responsibility, something which did not sit well with District Judge Thomas Hynes.

Even while being formally sentenced to prison, the defendant appeared indifferent and didn’t address the court, but Todd Sewell, Amy’s husband, spoke on behalf of his wife."My wife is a complete wreck. She needs this to be over to get on with her life," he said. "It's just been very emotional to try to reach some understanding about the fate of her father."

"The family is torn. We have a daughter who is dealing with a dead mom and a father who is the perpetrator, as far as she is concerned," Deputy District Attorney Paul Wainwright said. "Their suggestion, with my approval, was that we reduce (prison time)."

Judge Hynes stated that he accepted the plea agreement only because the victim (and perp’s) daughter and son-in-law asked for it so they could get on with their lives.

"To come down from 15 (years) to nine seems to me to be a substantial reduction to what I would have sentenced him to," Hynes said.

Phares called 911 to report his wife’s shooting death, but according to the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, gave false information about his activities and concealed the information about his .22 caliber gun from police.

When detectives requested to test Phares for residual gun fire residue, the man said he may have gun powder on his hands because he had been firing his .22-caliber rifle earlier in the day. Detectives asked Phares where he had been firing his rifle, he led them to an area with tire tracks and boots which matched Phares’. A shallow grave was found which turned out to be his wife’s.

Because the murder case relied almost exclusively on circumstantial evidence — with no evidence of a motive — Phares may have been acquitted by a jury at trial, Chief Public Defender Christian Hatfield said, noting the man had been happily married to the victim for nearly 40 years with no history of violence. Hatfield also noted the man's extensive Vietnam military service and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

"It's an extremely anomalous in a life of loving and caring," Hatfield said of the murder. "There's a reasonable chance that a jury would come back (with a verdict) either way."

Deputy District Attorney Paul Wainwright said, "I think it was a fair ending. "What's sad is Mr. Phares showed absolutely no remorse at any of the proceedings. He didn't make an attempt at apologizing."

Editorial By Julie Bindle (Guardian [UK]) - No excuse for rape

There is no excuse

The Italian ruling that it is not possible for a man to rape a woman wearing tight jeans was finally overturned this week, but Julie Bindel finds little to celebrate while sexual assault trials still focus on the behaviour of the victim

It has taken almost a decade of feminist campaigning to overturn one of the most ridiculous rulings on rape in Europe, so forgive me if I don't sound too grateful. This week, judges at the Italian Court of Cassation reversed a ruling that went like this: if you wear tight jeans it is impossible to be raped, because you would need to help the man get into your knickers.

Seriously, this belief has been enshrined in case law since 1999. It is a bit like the old saying here that goes, "If you don't want to be raped, just cross your legs."

The ruling came about as a result of a line of defence run by a 45-year-old man accused of raping a young woman during a driving lesson. He was convicted, but on appeal put forward a defence that the victim must have consented, as her jeans were too tight for him to get into by himself. The judges agreed, and his conviction was quashed.

The same defence has been used successfully in rape cases since, but luck ran out for the latest man to try it when he was accused of sexually assaulting his partner's daughter, aged 16, by pushing his hands down the front of her jeans. Using the 1999 case, he argued that he could not have committed the alleged acts against the will of the girl because her jeans were too tight. But the court did not accept his excuse, ruling that "jeans cannot be compared to any type of chastity belt".

It would be comforting to think that Italian attitudes to rape are behind the times. Unfortunately, though, there are countless examples from the UK and around the world of women being blamed for rape. It's either because of what we wear or how we behave; it's who we sleep with, or it's what we drink.

"Blame culture" attitudes towards rape victims are widespread: according to a poll of young people carried out by Amnesty International last year, more than a quarter of those asked said that they thought a woman was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was wearing sexy or revealing clothing.

A survey in Ireland earlier this year on attitudes to rape found almost 40% of the 1,000 adults questioned believed rape victims themselves bore some responsibility in certain circumstances - if, for instance, they wore sexy clothing or were flirting.

Even the director of public prosecutions, Ken MacDonald, told this newspaper that young women's "promiscuity" and heavy drinking contribute to low rape conviction rates. And one of Scotland's most senior lawyers, Donald Findlay, recently commented that in cases of sexual assault, courts should no longer assume that a girl under 16 is "vulnerable". He claimed that "many such girls know more about sex at 13 than [he] did at 23", and that defence lawyers should, in certain trials, be able to refer to how an alleged victim was dressed.

All this helps reinforce the myths that rape can be due to a "misunderstanding". Rubbish. Men are not "confused" about what is consent and what is not: but many will use it as an excuse, and many more let them. And however much pressure is on women to dress sexily to titillate men, they are severely punished for it.

In South Africa in February, for example, four women wearing miniskirts were sexually assaulted at a taxi rank in Johannesburg by a group of men. They were forcibly stripped and paraded naked, while the attackers shouted to passersby that the women "wanted" this treatment.

Some men seem almost hysterically worried about preserving women's honour and chastity and yet more than a few of them commit acts of rape. Either way, it is all the fault of women. In Nigeria, a senator has drafted a bill which would result in women being imprisoned for three months if they display their belly buttons, breasts or wear miniskirts in public places.

In Poland, meanwhile, one legislator has announced plans for a bill that would ban miniskirts and other "enticements" with the goal of reducing street prostitution and rape. He called for the miniskirt ban as part of an overall crusade against the "enticement to sex" by women in public. In northern Malaysia, a directive from a conservative city council has forbidden women from wearing high heels or brightly coloured lipstick in order to "preserve their dignity" and avoid "incidents like rape and illicit sex".

Debates about Muslim women and the veil often centre around women making themselves vulnerable to assault. Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali, the most senior Muslim cleric in Australia, was criticised for a sermon in which he likened women who did not wear the veil to uncovered meat that attracted predators.

But where is the message to men, telling them that a woman displaying her arm or ankle does not mean she wants to be forced into sex with anyone who has a mind to?

In Britain, we hardly need wonder why the rate for rape convictions is so low when we hear stories like the one that came from some mock jury trials, staged as part of a research project on attitudes to rape and documented in a a report by the Economic and Social Research Council in 2006. A "juror" said that, "a woman's got to cooperate with a man to be able to do it, to have intercourse, unless he thumps her or what, and he didn't - there was no bruising on her body anywhere. I would say she was probably pissed but at the same time she more or less consented."

The problem is clear: but what do we do about it? Will women have to give up and walk around encased in a full suit of armour? No: instead, we need to challenge these views: to take, for example, the UK government to task when it, on the one hand, admits we are at crisis point with the pathetically low rape conviction rate but, on the other, creates public awareness campaigns around drink-spiking that put the onus on women to protect themselves.

Scotland has the right idea. This summer a new campaign challenging people's attitudes to rape is being launched by Rape Crisis Scotland with funding from the Scottish government. Posters will be displayed across the country in an attempt to challenge the idea that women are somehow to blame for being raped if they have been drinking, wearing revealing clothes or have been sexually active.

Scotland's justice secretary said that it was "hard to believe" that in a modern Scotland there are people who still think that if a woman is dressed in a certain way or has been drinking it's her own fault if she is raped. For how many decades have feminists being saying this? Why has the message not got through? And how many more women will be raped because men can pretend they are "confused" at the "mixed messages" put out by women who dress up to the nines for their own enjoyment?

Let's be clear; women have the right to go out dressed outrageously and be gagging to pull a man for sex. Consensual sex. Women do not want to be raped. Ever. All rape is "real rape", even if she is wearing a skirt up to her neck, has her breasts on show and is drinking and flirting like crazy. Rape is sex without consent. Which part of that is difficult to understand?