Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Boyfriend" gets 99 years in strangling, dismemberment of woman

Timothy Shepherd was sentenced late [October 14] to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, the maximum punishment for the murder of former girlfriend Tynesha Stewart, whom he strangled and dismembered before burning her remains on two barbecue grills in March 2007.

Sitting between his lawyers, Shepherd showed no emotion as he leaned back, rested his chin on his hand and listened to Stewart's mother and sister testify from the witness stand during their victim impact statements.

"You're no man," said Stewart's sister, Gayla Taylor. "You're still a scared little boy. I feel sorry for you. Your soul is gone."

Stewart's mother, Gale Shields, said she will forgive Shepherd and hopes he gets mental help.
"I have to forgive Timothy if I'm going to see Tynesha again," Shields said.

Testimony during the trial showed that the two had a history of domestic violence, something Stewart's mother and sister railed against after the verdict.

"Timothy once was a wonderful, wonderful man," Shields said. "There are always red flags and young people need to recognize the red flags."

It also was a point addressed in a short statement to reporters after the verdict.

"In the interest of the public, we hope the media coverage will pay more attention to the details regarding the nature of the relationship between Tynesha and Tim that could lead to this event and less on the events that occurred after the murder," said the jury foreman, who read the statement and declined to give his name.

"An increased awareness of the indicators of domestic abuse could prevent such an event in the future."

Shepherd, 28, said the two were arguing in his north Harris County apartment about a man Stewart was dating at college when she grabbed a knife from a table and came toward him.
Shepherd testified that Stewart, 19, swung a knife at him, nicking two of his fingers.

Shepherd told jurors he held her by the neck with one hand and tried to get the knife out of her hand with another as the two struggled. He said he "snapped" and strangled Stewart, then went to a hardware store to buy a jigsaw to cut up her body.

Prosecutor Kebharu Smith said Shepherd's testimony showed jurors that he was a "monster."
Chip Lewis, Shepherd's attorney, said he expected Shepherd to appeal the conviction.

Lewis' strategy, to compartmentalize what happened to Stewart's body after she had been killed, from the actual strangulation, was "almost impossible, given the decisions Shepherd made after Miss Stewart died."

During the guilt/innocence phase of the trial, Lewis argued that there wasn't enough evidence to convict Shepherd. At the punishment stage, Lewis argued that Shepherd was in the grip of "sudden passion," a legal doctrine that would have capped Shepherd's sentence at 20 years. The jury disagreed.

Prosecutor Marie Primm said she was satisfied with the verdict and noted that 99 years and a life sentence for murder are essentially the same. With either, Shepherd is eligible for parole in 30 years.

Cinnaciti area woman gets 13 years for attempting to kill husband

By Kimball • October 17, 2008

There are two sides to Billie Jo Harris.

Her family and friends insist she is a kind, loving person who gave freely of her time and heart.
"My mom has spent a lifetime taking care of others," Daryl Brewer said Thursday.

Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor Anita Vizedom said the 56-year-old grandmother of 18 is evil and deserves a stiff prison sentence for blasting a hole in her husband, Jeffrey, and almost killing him.

"The only word that can be used to describe her is 'wicked,'" Vizedom told Common Pleas Judge Charles Kubicki Jr.

Last month, a jury convicted Harris, of Green Township, of attempted murder and felonious assault. Thursday, the judge sent her to prison for 13 years.

Her family and friends begged the judge for leniency. They said she was a wonderful woman who was active in church, providing for the elderly and watching her grandchildren, they said, despite 11 surgeries for cancer, a bad back and having fingers amputated because of illness.

"She is not the lazy drunkard that she was portrayed to be during the trial," her son said.
On the night of Jan. 10, her husband came home from his bakery delivery job, he said, to find his wife drunk and belligerent, accusing him of infidelity.

He told her he was sick of her drinking, was leaving and wanted a divorce. He left the house but quickly returned to retrieve his medication. When he walked in the house, his wife was 3 feet away and used a shotgun to shoot him in the stomach.

As he was on the floor she refused to call 911, kicked him in the stomach and hit him in the head with an ash tray.When police arrived, she refused to let them in as her husband was bleeding next to her. She also told her husband if she was going to jail, he was going to die.

Vizedom said phone calls from Harris when she was in jail immediately after the shooting reveal the real woman. In those taped calls, Harris asked her family to take anything of value from her house. She told them to get the title to the car and turn off the utilities.

And she wanted one more thing.

"She really wanted the karaoke machine," Vizedom said. "That's what she was concerned with as her husband lay in the hospital with a 50-50 chance of dying."

"You brutally shot your husband in his stomach with a shotgun and stood over him wishing him death while he struggled to phone for help," the judge told Harris.

Harris insisted she didn't shoot her husband - even though they were the only people in the house.

"No matter what he's done, I do love him," said Harris. "He knows I didn't do this."

Wrong, her husband said. He begged the judge to send his wife to prison for the maximum. He has had five surgeries since the shooting and still carries lead in his body. Because the shotgun blast destroyed his stomach muscles, he has to wear a compression vest.

"I have been sentenced for the rest of my life," he said. "I have lost everything I worked for."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

From Lovefraud - predators seek partners who seek to please

In the Thursday, October 23rd, edition of the Lovefraud blog, Steve Becker, LCSW, writes about how predatory "partners" seek compliant victims.

It is no accident that narcissistic and sociopathic personalities will seek, and often successfully attract, partners who have their own issue: a tendency to dread the idea of disappointing or displeasing them.

This is admittedly a generality, but it’s a pattern I’ve observed in my clinical experience, and it makes sense. The exploiter, who regards others as existing principally to satisfy his or her wants on a continual basis, must by definition find in a mate someone who is highly motivated—and especially, highly afraid not—to satisfy him or her.

Thus one often finds the pairing of an exploiter complemented by a partner who is prone, perhaps compulsively, to look inward to himself or herself as the cause of the exploiter’s dissatisfaction.

Clinically the goal is to encourage the over-accountable, overresponsible partner to examine this aspect of himself or herself. This is necessary given the fair assumption that sociopaths and narcissists are unlikely to genuinely reform their characteristically manipulative, selfish ways.

I’m often surprised in my work by the tenacious investment exploited partners make in solving the needs and complaints of their self-centered mates. Of course they’ll never succeed, but as long as they continue owning the exploiter’s blame for the latters’ discontent, they can keep trying, keep striving to be a better mate—to become, finally, the good-enough mate the exploiter has claimed to deserve all along.

Let us emphasize the futility of this scenario—the exploiter really doesn’t want a satisfying or, for that matter, even a perfect, partner; rather what he or she wants is a partner who, in his or her insecurity, will continue to accept on some level blame for the exploiter’s unending, habitual exploitation.
The exploiter, in other words, is looking much less for the perfect partner than the perfect scapegoat. For this reason the sociopath and many narcissists will recruit these qualities in a partner—qualities, for instance, of high self-doubt, high guilt, high fear of incurring others’ wrath or displeasure, and a strong tendency to self-blame.
Moreover individuals possessing these qualities will tend to be drawn to individuals who seem to be their counterpart in many ways—for instance confident, self-assured, powerful-seeming, unself-doubting, and perhaps unself-reflective. They may harbor the fantasy that the latters’ seeming strength and confidently entitled attitudes may prove a salutary complement to their self-questioning, self-doubting natures.
And this is certainly possible—this complementarity can theoretically work—in situations uncomplicated by sociopathy or narcissistic personality.
But when the more confident partner is a sociopath, or narcissist, this complementarity of personalities becomes a set-up. The less confident partner, whose tendency is to self-destructively accept the exploiter’s blame for the latter’s rages, discontent, abuse and general misery, becomes the perfect foil, the perfect dupe, for the sociopathic or narcissistic partner, who has it made, so to speak.
Again and again I encounter wonderful, thoughtful, emotionally generous individuals who are trapped less by their exploitative partners than the intolerable idea of themselves as failed mates. The result is their often intensified efforts to be found satisfactory by, and to obtain validation from, the exploiter.

The exploiter is, of course, incapable of appreciating his or her partner’s devotion. But even if not, he or she would intentionally withhold such recognition anyway; his or her object, remember, rather than to uplift his or her partner, is calculatingly the opposite—to engender hopelessness and depression in him or her.

On and on the cycle goes, until the vulnerable partner, just as the exploiter has sought, finally feels so low, incompetent and disempowered that he or she can’t seriously imagine a different future.

By now a form of despair has set in—the despair of expecting to be found just as wanting in future relationships as the present. Dangerous resignation follows this hopelessness—again, exactly the outcome the exploiter wants.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Police officer gets decade in prison, but escapes SO registration in Texas for coerced sex

(Original post 5-24-08)

Jimmy Fennell Jr, a former Georgetown, TX police officer, pleaded gulity to sexual misconduct and kidnapping, but was able to escape sex offender registration and more serious charges ofofficial oppression and aggravated sexual assault. At his scheduled sentencing by Judge Burt Carnes on June 24, Fennell will face a 2 year prison term followed by a 10 year probation term.

In addition, he must also permanently surrender his peace officer's license as a condition of the plea deal. Should Williamson County Judge Burt Carnes change the agreement, Fennell can withdraw his guilty plea.He resigned from the Georgetown Police Department in January after he was indicted. In a search warrant affidavit filed after the October incident, the woman claimed she was drunk at the time, and Fennell drove her to a park, asked her to dance for him, and then assaulted her on his police cruiser.

In 1996, Fennell's fiance Stacey Stites was strangled to death by Rodney Reed, who is currently on Texas' death row, but appealing. His attorney says this about the murder case:

"Jimmy Fennell was never a serious suspect in the case. You heard from her relatives. I think the Rodney Reed case needs to be put to bed and Rodney Reed needs to get the justice he's well due,"

(Update 10-19-08) Fennell's plea agreement was thrown out on June 24. He requested a bench trial and pled guilty on September 19 of two counts. One count was of kidnapping and the other count was sexual activity with someone in custody. He was sentenced on September 26 to 10 years, with the sexual misconduct charge to he served concurrently with the kidnapping charge.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mother hopes new law mandating dating violence prevention in schools deters

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. - Ann Burke saw signs of trouble with her daughter's boyfriend.

He'd incessantly call her at night, keep her from her family, and, ultimately, physically abuse her during a tumultuous relationship that ended with her death three years ago. Burke's 23-year-old daughter, Lindsay, may not have understood the dynamics of an abusive relationship, but her death is helping to ensure that other young people do.

A new law in Rhode Island called the Lindsay Ann Burke Act requires all public middle and high schools to teach students about dating violence in their health classes.

The initiative was spearheaded by Burke and her husband, Chris, who say schools should be obligated to teach teens the warning signs of abusive relationships and broach the subject head-on so victims feel empowered to get help and leave violent partners.

"If this could happen to her, this could happen to anyone," said Ann Burke, a health teacher who runs a memorial fund to raise money for dating violence workshops for parents and educators.

One other state, Texas, mandates unspecified awareness education on dating violence for students and parents, while several other states encourage it. But the Rhode Island measure goes further by requiring the topic be incorporated annually into the curriculum for students in seventh through 12th grade.

Burke says such education would have allowed her daughter to recognize the danger in her relationship earlier. Though her daughter left her boyfriend several times, she didn't change her phone number or have a plan for safely cutting off contact for good.

She also believed she could be friends with her boyfriend if the romance ended.
"I said, `No, he said that to you before, Lindsay. You can't just be friends,'" Burke recalled.

Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, who shepherded the proposal through the legislature last year, said domestic violence is a disturbingly common crime, yet education about it is scarce and haphazard.

"You teach sex ed, you teach `don't do drugs,' you teach `don't drink,' you should also be teaching `don't be a victim of domestic violence,'" said Lynch, whose office receives about 5,000 cases a year.

School districts are expected to start implementing the law this school year. By December, officials hope to have established a policy for responding to incidents of dating violence.

The law is gaining traction around the country, with members of the National Association of Attorneys General unanimously adopting a resolution encouraging the education in their states. Nebraska's top prosecutor said he intends to submit legislation modeled after Rhode Island's law, and apparel maker Liz Claiborne Inc. has helped promote it around the country.

The education focuses as much on nurturing good relationships as avoiding abusive ones.
In a recent sophomore health class at South Kingstown High School, teacher Karen Murphy reviewed communication skills for friendships and romantic relationships, including waiting until you're calm before confronting someone with a problem and openly expressing your feelings.
"You've just found out that somebody spread a rumor about you and you approach them at their locker," Murphy told the class. "Are you going to want to start talking to her when you're extremely angry after you've just found out about it?"
"No," the class replied in unison.
Alex Butler, a 15-year-old sophomore, said he didn't think dating violence was a problem at his school but that the education has helped him identify stages of abusive relationships.
"It's nice 'cause then you can warn other people even if you don't know them," he said.
Even if the lessons seem obvious, teachers hope students will recognize that some behaviors they may tolerate in their relationships — obsessive text messaging, for instance, or physical control — are unacceptable and possible precursors to violence.

Ann Burke said Lindsay fell hard for Gerardo Martinez after meeting him at a wedding, and though he seemed respectful and nice, problems emerged after Martinez began exerting control over her daughter. Ann Burke became so distraught that she couldn't sleep and she sought the advice of counselors. Fearing the worst, she even told Lindsay she couldn't bear to live without her.
One day in September 2005, after Lindsay had moved in with her brother to get away from Martinez, Burke became concerned when Lindsay didn't answer her phone.

Police found Lindsay in the bathtub of Martinez's home, her throat slashed. Martinez was convicted last year of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Burke believes her daughter would have wanted her to teach others about dating violence.
"You may have killed her physical body, but I'll be damned: her spirit is still living on in her family and friends," she said. "We're going to do what we need to

Thursday, October 2, 2008

British man ordered to sign SO registry for 7 years for voyeurism

Peeping Tom forced to sign sex register

Pamela Welsh 2/10/2008

THE VICTIM of a ‘peeping Tom’ style incident at a Salford swimming pool has welcomed the decision to make the culprit sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.

Stefan Sinclair, 22, photographed a naked woman with his mobile phone as she changed at Fit City Worsley in July this year. The victim, who did not wish to be identified, had been swimming at the pool, in Bridgewater Road, Walkden, on Thursday, July 10.

She was getting changed in a cubicle when she saw a mobile phone under the cubicle door, filming her as she got changed.
The culprit, Sinclair, pleaded guilty to a charge of voyeurism at Salford Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September 25, and was given a four month suspended sentence, with 200 hours unpaid work.He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for seven years.

The victim, who lives in Worsley, welcomed the sentence, saying she was felt violated.
She said: "It was really horrible. I was just getting changed and was towelling off when I saw a hand and a mobile phone under the cubicle. I ran out to confront him but he had already disappeared. It is really disgusting that he could do such a thing and I’m glad he got the sentence he did."

The victim also claimed the policy on mobile phones was not made clear to staff at the pool, even after the incident occurred.
She said: "My parents went back and saw staff on their mobile phones even when it was made clear that this was not allowed. I think the management should make the policy clearer."
The police were called and CCTV pictures showed that Sinclair had been in the vicinity of the cubicle.

When interviewed by police, Sinclair said he realised what he had done was wrong and that he taken the picture initially with the intention of using it for his own sexual gratification.
Marsha Myers, defence for Sinclair, said: "He feels deep remorse - significantly the image was deleted because the remorse set in straight away.

"He is being supported financially and emotionally by his family, who are deeply upset about this offence, but stand by him, as does his partner."

Sinclair, of Border Brook Lane, Boothstown, was a lifeguard, fitness trainer and cleaner at the pool. He lost his job as a result of the incident. Deputy District Judge Hugh Edwards told Sinclair: "You abused a position of trust when working at the pool."

Councillor Barry Warner, Salford City Council’s lead member for culture and sport, said: "Our partner, Salford Community Leisure (SCL), has taken this matter very seriously and acted promptly to suspend and subsequently dismiss Mr Sinclair from his job with SCL.

"I would like to take the opportunity to reassure customers that SCL, supported by the Salford City Council, will continue to take all reasonable action to prevent this type of action happening again."

Boston shelter drops Sandra Bernhard as fundraiser headline

BOSTON — A women's shelter on Wednesday cut headliner Sandra Bernhard from its annual benefit after she said Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin would be gang-raped if she ever visited New York.

Bernhard's made the remarks last month during her one-woman show in Washington before Palin visited New York to campaign. Bernhard said Palin would be "gang-raped by my big black brothers" during a diatribe in which she also criticized Palin for opposing abortion rights.

Many guests at Rosie's Place, a Boston shelter, have been victims of violence, public relations director Leemarie Mosca said.

"In light of our mission, we don't think violence against women is a laughing matter," she said.
Mosca said the shelter expected to book a replacement before the Oct. 16 luncheon "Funny Women ... Serious Business."

"Right now, our main focus is our event and making sure the event is a success," Mosca said. "And for us, that means not including Sandra Bernhard at this time."

A representative for Bernhard had no immediate comment on the cancellation.

In a statement on her Web site, Bernhard said the gang-rape comment was part of a larger piece from her show about "racism, freedom, women's rights, and the extreme views of Gov. Sarah Palin — a woman who doesn't believe that other women should have the right to choose."

"I certainly wish Gov. Palin no harm — I'd just like her to explain to me how she can hold such outrageous views ... and then go back to Alaska," she said.

Former postmaster sentenced to 17 1/2 years for attempt on ex-wife

Postmaster David Willis of Cornelius, NC was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison for a murder-for hire scheme hatched so his ex-wife wouldn’t share his retirement pension. Federal authorities (the FBI and US Postal Inspection Service) wiretapped Willis discussing with another postal employee how to kill the ex-wife, April Timmons with antifreeze and also asked about hiring a hit man.

Willis said that “antifreeze, the old formula, tastes as sweet as lemonade. And it will kill your ass real quick. You throw a little lemon juice in it, it’s already orange colored and all you gotta do is drink it – and it doesn’t take that much. Two days later, they croak.”

He complained that half of the $5,000 per month retirement pension would have to go to his ex. “I might have worked for Wal Mart the last 30 years…I can’t live on $2500 a month. I’m going to have to work 30 more years – I can’t stand 30 more years at the post office. I need to retire and enjoy life while I can.”

There is no parole in the federal prison system, and Willis has to serve at least 85% of his sentence.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mercersburg, PA man convicted of beating, raping "girlfriend"

A Mercersburg, Pennsylvania man was convicted of raping and beating his pregnant “girlfriend” Monday, September 29 after 2 hours of deliberation and a one day trial by a Franklin County Jury in Chambersburg. Marcus Riley, 21, was convicted of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, indecent assault, simple assault, criminal trespass and burglary in the January 17 attack at the 19 year old victim's home near St. Thomas, PA. Riley was also convicted of simpale assault for a November 12, 2007 attack.

The victim testified that Riley called her "all day and all night long" before the Jan. 17 incident. Two days before the rape, the woman testified she told Riley she intended to testify against him at a Jan. 22 preliminary hearing on the charges that he beat her up at an apartment in Greencastle, Pa.

On Jan. 17, he called her again, and after she hung up, she saw him pull into the driveway, she testified. When she would not allow him in, she heard a window in the kitchen being smashed. He came in the door and started beating and kicking her immediately, she testified.

"He started kicking me in the back and I started screaming about my baby," the woman testified. Riley forced her into her basement bedroom, urinated on her and sexually assaulted her, she testified.

“This wouldn't have happened if you just talked to me," the victim testified Riley said to her during the attack. Assistant District Attorney Lauren Sulcove showed pictured taken of the woman’s bruised, scratched face, and showed pictures of the woman’s eye swollen shut.

Pennsylvania State Police Troopers Courtney Pattillo, Jeffrey Bopp and Chad Corbett showed pictures of the crime scene featuring broken glass and a rock outside the door. Greencastle Police Officer Kevin Creager testified about the woman’s November assault injuries.

Defense attorney Allen Welch asked the woman whether the sex was consensual, which she denied. Welch also asked whether the woman was upset as Riley was leaving, shoved him into the kitchen door window, causing it to break, and received her injuries during an ensuing fight. The woman again denied that those things happened.

Both the prosecution and defense agreed the DNA taken from the victim’s rape kit came from Riley, who did not testify at the trial. Rape and some of the other crime are 1st degree felonies, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Judge Carol Van Horn scheduled Riley’s sentencing for January 7, 2009, so PA’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board assesment under Megan’s Law can assess him. Van Horn also revoked Riley’s $500,000 bond.

Indy man who choked daughter's attacker to death won't face charges

A convicted sex offender who broke into the house a family rented from his uncle and was restrained by a 17 year old’s father until he choked to death died from a combination of strangulation and heart trouble, according to the Marion County coroner's office yesterday.

David Meyers, 52, broke into the NW Indianapolis home of Robert McNally, 64 around 3:20 Am Sunday, wearing only latex gloves and a a mask. Meyers also carried rope, condoms, and a knife when he broke into McNally’s 17 year old daughter’s bedroom. The girl screamed, and McNally wrapped his arm around Meyer’s neck until he died.

McNally is unlikely to face charges because he apparently used reasonable force to protect his daughter and himself, said Matthew Symons, spokesman for the Marion County prosecutor.
"We will do a standard review that we do in all such situations," Symons said.

An autopsy determined Meyers' cause of death to be asphyxia by strangulation with contributing cardiovascular disease, said Marchele Hall, the coroner's office manager.

McNally, who rented from Meyer’s uncle, called the incident “a lose-lose situation” and felt sorry for the offender’s family. He even asked to attend Meyer’s funeral. Meyer was convicted of criminal confinement and criminal deviate conduct in 1998. He lived with his mother a few hundred feet away from the McNally’s.