Monday, November 30, 2009

Scorned husband gets 25 to life for slashing wife, strangling her lover's wife

A suburban Toronto man who killed the wife who cheated on him by slashing her throat and kidnapping and killing another woman was sentenced to 25 years to life Friday in a Toronto courtroom.

Christopher Little slashed the throat of his estranged wife, Julie Crocker, on February 12, 2007 in their marital bed at their home in Markham, a suburb immediately north of Toronto. To cover up this crime, just before the murder of the wife, he stalked, kidnapped, then strangled the wife of his wife's "lover", 33 year old Paula Memendez. The reason Little killed Menendez was to make it appear as it Menendez avenged herself by killing Crocker, then hanging herself. In addition, sportscaster Rick Ralph would lose his mistress and wife.

The Crown portrayed Little as angry, humiliated and utterly alone after his wife of nine years left him to begin a romantic relationship with Ralph, a radio sportscaster. However, Little, a father of two, appeared calm and spoke in a monotone through most of his four days on the witness stand in Newmarket court this month.

"I'm not an angry person," Little told the jury of six men and six women, when pressed for his reaction to his wife Crocker's repeated affairs with other men. The only flash of visible emotion during Little's testimony came when he appeared to shed tears as he described discovering the murder scenes at his home on a quiet, prosperous Markham street.

[The]court heard that Little planted a GPS tracking device in her Volvo, which he used to surprise her and Ralph when he found them together in a downtown Toronto hotel room next door to Crocker and Ralph's offices at Rogers Communications in September 2006. "Julie, I know you're in there. Rick, I know you're in there," Little said as he peered in a peephole, according to Ralph's testimony. "Let's settle this like adults."

Ralph told court that Little also threatened to call Menendez that night, not realizing that her marriage was also virtually over. Anger, not humiliation, was Crocker reaction, Ralph said. "She was mad," Ralph told court. "She said Chris had probably installed it using her money and she was going to force him to remove it."
Court heard that Little tested Crocker's clothing for semen in 2005 and again in August 2006, when he found a positive match for another man's semen on her golf shirt. That man's identity was never determined, since Ralph testified that he hadn't become intimate with Crocker at this point.

The jury did not see a videotape of Little drugging and assaulting Crocker sexually while she was unconscious.

Outside the courthouse, Judy Crocker, Julie's mother, said that her daughter was a devoted mom. "As a mother, Julie was protective and devoted to her children. They adored her and she loved them fiercely...During the trial, the individual permitted to say the most about Julie was the man who committed this horrific act of violence."

Judy Crocker said her daughter was only trying to let Little down easy, since he couldn't accept they were no longer a couple. "In fact, it was her kindness and concern for her husband, her efforts to make things easier for him, which led to the prolongation of a marriage that had been essentially over for a very long time."

Claudia Johnston, Menendez' sister said this about her sister.
"Sadly, the punishment will never be enough for any of us because it will not offset the sentence that we all have to serve. That is living our lifetimes without Paula. Despite Chris's and Mr. Rosen's deplorable efforts in spinning stories and attempts at obscuring the truth with lies, the jury was able to see past it, use their common sense and help bring some closure to our families."

Defence lawyer John Rosen argued Menendez might have been driven to end her life and the life of Crocker out of despair over her crumbling marriage to Ralph. Menendez's family said this was totally untrue.

"Paula had a great deal to look forward to. Her life had taken an unexpected turn, and while sad, she had the vision and the strength to work past this as she eagerly made plans for her future. Alternatively, Chris Little did not possess the same courage to deal with the challenges of his life and instead carried out this very cowardly act against two innocent and defenceless women."

Justice Fuerst said in passing sentence that "You slashed the throat of the woman you professed to love so severely that her head almost came off...It's difficult to imagine a greater callousness than robbing children of their mother's love."
Fuerst said about Menendez' murder that "Paula Menendez was truly an innocent player ... in a production cast and staged by you and you alone...She was facing her future with grace and courage. You saw to it that the pain you inflicted increased a thousand-fold when you sought out and publicly labelled her a homicidal, suicidal maniac day after day in this court. Let there be no mistake. Paula Menendez was your victim."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Calgary, Alberta man's bail hearing on rape charges

(Original Post 5-7-08)
Obsession over a former co-worker led a city man to repeatedly rape her — and possibly contemplate killing her —a prosecutor charged today.

Crown lawyer Pat Yelle said the woman had to flee the man’s northwest Calgary home half naked, with her hands cuffed behind her back, to escape.

But defence lawyer Tonii Roulston said David Michael Gendreau has a right to be presumed innocent and will be taking his case to trial.

“I’m not going to put forward a case, I’ll save that for the trial judge,” Roulston said, at a hearing to determine if Gendreau could be released on bail.

The former supervisor with Canada Post faces charges of sexual assault and unlawful confinement in connection with an incident at his Charleswood home on Jan. 31.

Yelle told provincial court Judge Catherine Skene the woman fled Gendreau’s home after being held for nearly six hours and repeatedly raped.

The prosecutor said the woman was only able to escape when Gendreau fell asleep and she was able to loosen a rope he had tide to the handcuffs which bound her wrists behind her back.

The harrowing assault left the victim believing she would be murdered when Gendreau discussed having to go to her home to retrieve a glass which might contain his fingerprints after they had consumed beer there earlier.

“At that point she was terrified he was planning on killing her,” said Yelle.

Gendreau tied a rope to her handcuffs and laid on top of it so he could fall asleep, she said.
The woman, naked from the waist down, was able to escape to a nearby home and call police, who found Gendreau had loaded her abandoned purse and clothing into his car, said Yelle.
Roulston argued it was “sheer speculation” her client considered murdering the woman and argued there were inconstancies in her story.

The lawyer also dismissed suggestions he was obsessed with the victim, noting he has not tried to contact her while in the Calgary Remand Centre since Feb. 1.

Skene will decide this afternoon whether she’s ready to make a decision.

(Update 11-29-09) On December 18, Gendreau will be sentenced for 5 counts of sexual assault after being convicted of sexual assault and unlawful confinement. Justice Scott Brooker ruled that when he attacked his former coworker, that there were five separate sexual assaults in 5 hours, instead of the assault being treated as a single crime. Crown prosecutor Gary Cornfield stated that Gendreau's fantasies about the victim indicate planning of the attack against her.

"I find all five of those assaults took place essentially as described by the complainant," Jutice Brooker said. 

Cornfield wants a prison sentence between 5 and 7 years, a permanent weapons ban, SO registration, a $100 fine, and a DNA requirement imposed on Gendreau at the sentencing. As for Gendreau, he continued to deny his involvement in the assault. "You're going to charge me, convict me, take my DNA, register me as a sex offender and then you want to fine me? For something I didn't do? Are you high?"

In New York City, DV cases proceed without victims

By COLLEEN LONG (AP) – 15 hours ago

NEW YORK — Karla Giraldo's face required about 40 stitches after an incident with her boyfriend, a New York state senator. The wife of New York TV personality Dominic Carter had a swollen lip, cut ear, and bruised body after they argued over care for their child. In both cases, the women testified in court that their partners were not guilty.

Giraldo said it was an accident after initially telling doctors her boyfriend did it on purpose, according to testimony. Carter's wife, Marilyn, said it wasn't her husband, as she claimed on a 911 call, but rather a day laborer who hit her.

Their stories are not uncommon. Experts say most victims usually recant after reporting their partners committed the abuse. As a result, the majority of domestic violence cases nationwide are prosecuted without the victim's consent or participation.

Victims, who are nearly all women, are not required to "press charges" against their alleged abusers. Law enforcement officials make the decision based on circumstance, but they face legal hurdles when the victim won't testify. To deal with such an idiosyncratic crime, prosecutors have devised other ways to handle cases. As a result, so-called family justice centers are cropping up around the country, one-stop shopping for victims of domestic violence where they can find social, economic and legal support.

In New York City, Scott Kessler runs the Queens center that prosecutes about 6,000 cases a year, more notably the trial of State Sen. Hiram Monserrate, accused of slashing Giraldo's face in a jealous rage. Kessler argued Karla Giraldo initially told medical personnel it wasn't an accident, and then changed her story when she discovered he'd be arrested. Monserrate was acquitted of the more serious charges but convicted of a lesser charge for dragging Giraldo out the foyer of his apartment in a violent scene caught on video.

Giraldo was called as a witness, where she argued it was an accident and the district attorney's office was out to get Monserrate. It's nothing new for Kessler. "When you stand up on a domestic violence case, you pretty much stand alone," he said. On his turf, the most diverse county in the country, there are many patriarchal systems, and often times the victim's family won't encourage the victim to participate.

Kessler said because he knows women generally won't participate he employs evidence-based prosecution, like photos of the injuries taken by cameras stationed at police precincts, 911 calls delivered electronically to their office and domestic violence incident reports taken by police that use checklists to determine the woman's state.

"We anticipate," he said in his office, surrounded by blown-up photos of bruised and battered women. "And in a way, it takes the pressure off the victim because we can prosecute without them. Of course, it's best if they participate."

There are myriad reasons why victims don't want to move forward with criminal cases, or even report the crime to begin with. Most want the violence to stop, but they don't want the abuser to go to jail, said Bea Hanson, chief program officer for Safe Horizon, a large, nonprofit that offers a range of services for victims of domestic violence.

"Love. Financial dependence. He's a father figure for kids. So many women often think they still may be good father despite the abuse. There are a lot of reasons," she said. "Also there's a fear of retribution. Because most cases there isn't jail time," she said.

The idea behind the family justice center is to provide a network of support for the victim, who will, theoretically, feel comfortable enough at some point to hold their abuser accountable. Services are available in one location, from help with housing to job training, orders of protection and prosecutors working on cases. There are translators who speak hundreds of languages, and there's even a play room where children can go so they don't have to hear about the case.

The centers are run by the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence. Kessler's center opened in 2008. A center in Brooklyn opened in 2005 and prosecutes 9,000 cases annually, and one will be open in the Bronx in about six months. Tens of thousands of clients visit annually. Anyone can use the services, which are free.

"It's a holistic approach," said Wanda Lucibello, who heads the Brooklyn center. "About 60 percent of the people are there because the police have been called, and someone has been arrested. But others come just to get support and assistance."

The idea started about a decade ago, and there are now 55 centers nationwide, according to Casey Gwinn, president of National Family Justice Center Alliance. Gwinn started the first center, in San Diego, in 2002. Twenty-seven organizations came together to provide victim assistance, including social workers and childcare. Gwinn said while initially victims weren't willing to participate, the more support they have, the more the confidence they get.

"They recant often because they're scared and they have no other options," he said. "But if they have resources, they don't recant."

The majority of domestic violence cases are settled outside court, and sentences range from jail time to counseling and electronic monitoring. The recent high-profile trials in New York are not the norm.

NY1 newsman Dominic Carter was convicted of third-degree attempted assault on his wife Marilyn. He is planning to appeal. In his decision, Ramapo Town Justice Arnold Etelson said he found Marilyn Carter's revised story "nothing short of preposterous." His sentencing is set for Jan. 14 and he's taken a leave of absence from the network.

Monserrate will be sentenced Dec. 4. Judge William Erlbaum, ruling in a non-jury trial, said Giraldo's testimony carried more weight than that of the medical personnel, and it had to be taken at face value.

"There are two people who have actual knowledge about what happened in that apartment," Erlbaum said. "Can one know she's not being forgiving or that she's not being compassionate? One can't know that."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Drifter sentenced to 34 to life for rape of hiker

A rapist who attacked a hiker on Stinson Beach, CA, was sentenced to 34 years to life in prison Tuesday. The sexual attack occured in August 2005, when Terry Ray Hawes, 46, met her at a market. Hawes followed her back to her campsite where he assaulted and detained her. He was arrested August 31 at a Santa Cruz homeless shelter.

In December 2005, Hawes was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial and sent to Atascadero State Hospital for treatment. In June 2006, Judge Kelly Simmons declared him stable enough to be tried and set a trial date.

In December 2006, a jury ruled that Hawes was still mentally incompetent, and criminal proceedings were suspended again. Hawes was sent back to the mental hospital for further treatment.

After a trial earlier this year, a jury convicted him of assault to commit rape, attempted rape, criminal threats, and other counts but was deadlocked 11-1 on a count of penetration with a foreign object causing great bodily injury. He was retried on the penetration charge and was convicted by the second jury.

Deputy District Attorney Aicha Mievis said that

"The victim suffered immeasurable fear and dehumanizing brutality. He beat her, knocked her unconscious, threatened to rape her dead or alive and alluded to dismembering her. He then assaulted her sexually several times throughout the night. But amazingly she survived, and today justice was served for her. She is a hero. She showed extraordinary courage, not only during her nightmare at the hands of the defendant but in having to testify in two separate jury trials."

The victim, now 32, who was not at the sentencing, said in a phone interview that "It's nice to know I can finally put it behind me. I was just hoping he wouldn't be able to hurt anyone else. As long as he's off the streets, I'm happy."

Jon Rankin, Hawes' defense attorney, said that "I think it's unfortunate that someone with mental issues that were never fully addressed was ultimately a subject of the criminal justice system," Rankin said. "Unfortunately, there's no place between the streets and prison these days."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lethal injection of "girlfriend" leads to 20 to life sentence

A Tonawanda, NY man who gave his "girlfriend" a lethal injection after a December 12, 2008 argument was sentenced to 20 to life on November 18. Julius C. Franquet, 42, plead guilty on October 7 to 2nd degree murder for the murder of 38 year old Ann Marie Paciorek, a medical researcher. State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang scolded Franquet after he said "let's get on with this" during his sentencing.

The judge pointed to the "valuable research" the victim likely would have accomplished. Paciorek was a researcher at the University at Buffalo's Toshiba Stroke Research Center and a graduate student at the school.

David G. Jay, Franquet's attorney, called the the case "is a double tragedy," noting Franquet also "had a future in" medicine had his drug addiction not "ruined his life." Jay told the judge Franquet "has taken responsibility" for his crimes.

Dr. Mark Paciorek, the victim's brother, spoke about the control that the perp had over hisyounger sister, and how the murder devastated the family, including the parents of the victim.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mother of 2's remains found - husband charged

After a 14 month search, the parents of a North Carolina mother of 2 were relieved after discovering the remains of their daughter inside of the Tar River Fox Pen. The remains of Kelly Morris, 28, was found last week in the hunting tract, located near Creedmore, NC. She disappeared after leaving from her stepmother's house September 3, 2008, and the next morning, firefighters were called to the Granville County home she shared with her husband and accused murderer, William Scott Morris, 35. The fire was determined to be arson, yet there was no sign of Kelly.

In the next few days, Kelly's dad, Pat Currin began the search for Kelly, which quickly turned into a search for her remains. "Fourteen months - I really don't have much to say right now," he said after learning his daughter's remains were found. Kelly's mother, Wanda Hollis, said "I knew that this day would come eventually. It's like a brick lifted off your chest. I'm glad I didn't have to wait five years, or 10 years."

[Al] Mignacci, a retired IBM engineer, took the search's lead within a month of her disappearance. It wasn't his first missing-person chase. Two years before, he helped look for a Lee County woman thought to be abducted. Just last week, he was helping to find a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl killed and hidden under thick kudzu.

For Morris, Mignacci set up inside the workshop of Currin's construction company, plotting a 15-mile radius from her house, divvying up roads to other volunteers, highlighting all the combed-over territory in yellow.

When he heard the news that Morris had been found at Tar River Fox Pen, he recalled walking outside the fence line along Sam Moss-Hayes Road, passing maybe a few hundred feet from where she was found. Inside, he said, sportsmen bring dogs to chase the foxes and coyotes that wander over roughly 900 acres. A 4-foot fence surrounds the property, and dogs can be heard howling inside from the road.

On Wednesday, at least a dozen State Bureau of Investigation agents and sheriff's deputies were again walking that the fence line, this time inside and lined up abreast with wooden staffs to poke through the leaves and underbrush.

Meanwhile, Morris made his first court appearance in Oxford, NC, where he was being held without bail on 1st degree murder and arson charges. He faces the death penalty. Mignacci said, while going over new areas to find Kelly's remains, that  "It's been a long, tough struggle. A lot of kind searchers put in a lot of time."

Barbarian "boyfriend" sentenced to 12 years for eye gouging woman

Published Date: 21 November 2009


A JEALOUS man who gouged out his former partner's eye and threw it over the balcony of a high-rise flat was jailed for 12 years yesterday for what a judge described as a crime of almost medieval barbarity.

Natalie Farrell, 27, had broken up with Francis Murphy, 26, and was living with another man when he went to her home and attacked them. The eye had been "dangling" after the attack and she thought Murphy then wiped a hair from her cheek and put it over the balcony of the eighth floor of Dalfield Court, Dundee. It was only when she went downstairs and a friend found the eye that she realised what had happened.

Murphy had admitted gouging out the eye. He was also found guilty of twice attempting to murder Ms Farrell on 26 May, once by strangling her and then by trying to throw her over the balcony.

Solicitor-advocate Iain Paterson, defending, said the offences had stemmed from a combination of tangled emotions, drink and drugs. He said Murphy was struggling to come to terms with what had happened.

The judge, John Morris, QC, told Murphy: "You were convicted of crimes which are almost medieval in their barbarity and which would make any right-thinking person recoil in horror."

Ms Farrell told the trial that she and Murphy had been partners for ten years, but they had separated and Paul Stanton, 31, moved in a couple of days before the incidents. Murphy did not take the split well, she said. She said that she had been expecting a visitor and opened her door when the buzzer sounded, but it was Murphy. He was "under the influence of drugs and heavily intoxicated with drink".

After the attack the police and an ambulance arrived and a friend found the eye and gave it to paramedics. However, the hospital was unable to re-attach it, Ms Farrell added.

New Mexico prison guard sentenced to 18 years for raping women

A prison guard was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday, November 20 for raping female inmates at the Camino Nuevo private prison in Alberquerque, New Mexico.  This prison holds around 50 women, many in the final days of their sentences. Anthony Townes plead guilty to and was sentenced to 18 years in prison for 8 counts of rape and false imprisonment, two counts for each inmate he victimized.  The attacks occurred between January and  August of 2007. His MO was to force women into places unmonitored by security cameras.

"I knew him as a monster, a liar a man who thought because of his position he was wanted by all but could do as he pleased," one of the victims said. Townes claimed he pled guilty to avoid a 36 year sentence that he could have received in found guilty by a jury. "There is no fear factor. I would never threaten anyone else's kids. I have a grandmother, mother a girlfriend, a sister and 4-year-old daughter, so therefore I would not do that to any woman because no woman deserves that," he said.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Woman who molested male "friend" avoids SO registration with plea deal

A Longmont, CO woman who raped her male "friend" was found guilty of the attack, but won't be forced to register as a sex offender. 54 year old Janice McCarl plead guilty to menacing and 3rd degree assault, down from charges of sexual assault that could have put her behind bars for as much as 16 years.

The attack took place in early November last year, when McCarl and the victim, days before his 50th birthday, after a barbecue. The victim, who had had sex with the suspect before,  fell asleep around 10PM. He woke up, and felt his butt hurt and the perp molesting him, according to the police report. He could'nt move and McCarl told the victim to go back to sleep.

The next morning, she woke up with a hand cut, presumably from when she had her hand inside his butt. They had coffee and McCarl went home. Two days later, the victim called his perp, whoi admitted that she had molested and drugged him. She admitted that her conduct was "mean, nasty, and disgusting" and apologized to him.

McCarl faces 5 years in prison when sentenced in January. The victim believes that she should have been required to register as a sex offender, according to Prosecutor Catrina Weigel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Habitual criminal sentenced to at least 32 years for rape

A Greenville, NC man was sentenced to 32 to 39 years in prison Monday, November 16 for raping a 22 year old woman. James Lee Cotton, who turns 40 on November 22, was supposed to go to trial for the rape of the woman, but decided to enter an Alford (or no contest) plea. Superior Court Judge W. Russell Duke Jr. sentenced Cotton, and after he's released, he'll have to register as a sex offender.

Cotton was arrested in 2007 after DNA testing matched him to evidence collected in the 2002 rape. The woman, then 22, said she woke up to someone who put a pillow to her face, produced a knife and raped her, police reported. The suspect entered the residence through a partially opened window at the residence on East Fifth Street.

Cotton was in prison at the time of his arrest. N.C. Department of Correction records indicate Cotton had been convicted on multiple breaking and entering of vehicle charges and a habitual felon charge.

Cotton's plea spared him from a possible de facto life sentence for two counts of 1st degree rape, 1st degree sex offense, and a count of 1st degree burglary.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Relatives' persistance pays off in conviction of man for wife's murder

A family's search for justice for their loved one turned out to bear fruit when ker killer, her husband - was sentenced to 25 years in the Missouri Department Of Corrections Thursday, November 12. Bradley Jennings killed his wife Christmas Day 2006, but it took a determined effort by Lisa's family to convince the Missouri Highway Pareol that her death was murder, not suicide.

Bradley Jennings initially told investigators his wife committed suicide following an argument between the couple. But the story eventually unravelled after disbelieving relatives of Lisa Jennings pushed for further investigation.

Although Jennings' original story stood for almost a year, relatives disputed the idea that Lisa Jennings would have walked into a closet and shot herself as her husband described.

While Dallas County, MO prosecutors issued a written statement about the lack of evidence, the Dallas County Sheriff,  Mike Rackley, remined suspicious. After the Missouri Highway Patrol opened an investigation, they found that the blood spatters over the victim's body were inconsistant with suicide - and that her husband likely pulled the trigger, as shown by his bloody clothes, stained by his wife's blood.

Dallas County jurors found Bradley Jennings guilty of 2nd degree murder and armed criminal action, recommendning 20 years for the murder and 5 years for the criminal action charge - sentenced which were handed down by Circuit Court Judge John W. Sims.

Conviction for rape after mistaken release from jail

A Buffalo, NY man who was mistakenly released from jail was convicted of predatory sexual assault - a crime which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. 27 year old Rasheed Milton was convicted of 2 counts of predatory sexual assault and a weapons count for raping an 18 year old woman at knifepoint earlier this year.

The crime occurred in the Dartmouth Avenue home of Milton's sister. Milton grabbed the victim as she was walking along Dartmouth and forced her into the house, where he assaulted her for four hours.Because of a bookkeeping error, Milton was freed from the county jail in Alden last Feb. 27 by mistake. He was arrested a day after the sex attack.

State Supreme Court Justice John J. Michalski, who presided over the trial, will sentence Milton on January 26, 2010. Prosecutor Aaron F. Glazer will urge the Erie County DA to recommend the maximum sentence. Milton also faces a federal sentence for drug trafficing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anchorwoman's killer, rapist sentenced to life without parole

Jury chooses life sentence in TV anchor killing
By CHUCK BARTELS (AP) – 3 days ago

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A jury sentenced a man to life in prison Thursday for the beating death of a popular Arkansas television personality, sparing him the death penalty after hearing testimony about his rocky upbringing by an abusive, drug-addicted mother.

Jurors deliberated less than three hours before recommending that Curtis Lavelle Vance, 29, be sentenced to life in prison without parole for the death of Anne Pressly. They also handed down a life sentence for rape, 20 years for burglary and 10 years for theft.

Pressly, 26, was an anchor on KATV's "Daybreak" program and had a bit part in the President George W. Bush biopic "W." She died Oct. 25, 2008, five days after a brutal assault that crushed her face and left her gasping for air.

Vance's mother testified Thursday that she was abusive, and a doctor said Vance showed signs of paranoia. Pressly's mother, Patti Cannady, told jurors Wednesday what it was like to lose an only child.

After the verdict was read, Cannady mouthed "It's OK" to prosecutor Larry Jegley, nodded, and tucked her hands over her heart. But as she left the courtroom, Cannady stopped and turned at the door. She leaned toward the defense attorneys and said, "You protected someone who should have never been protected."

Vance, who had appeared uncomfortable during much of his mother's testimony, showed no emotion as the sentence was read.

Jacqueline Vance Burnett had told jurors she was an abusive mother who had a number of crack-fueled run-ins with the law.

Burnett said she worked as a prostitute to earn money for drugs and once snapped after a "date" fell through. She said Vance had been left in charge of a younger brother and that when she returned, the brother was smearing feces on a wall. Burnett said she threw Vance into a brick wall several times until he nearly passed out.

She also told jurors she would buy drugs with money her children received from Social Security after their fathers died and that she had spent time in prison for burglary, forgery and theft.

Burnett said she has since gone through rehab and she apologized to Vance from the witness stand for throwing him against the wall. He mumbled something, then said "I love you, momma."

During closing arguments, prosecutor Larry Jegley called Vance's upbringing "an American tragedy," but he noted that siblings and other family members have led successful lives and said Vance's situation was a result of his own choices.

"Do I like it? No," Jegley said after the sentence was read. "But they can consider all of them. That's the law."

Defense lawyer Katherine Streett had urged jurors — who had convicted Vance a day earlier of capital murder, rape, burglary and theft of property — to have the "courage" to not impose the death penalty.

"The decision you're about to make may speak as much about you as it does about Curtis Vance," Streett said. If mitigation in this case ... has any meaning to you in a significant way, you do not have to kill him," Streett said.

Vance's attorneys did not comment after the sentence.

Another brother, B.J. Montgomery of Little Rock, testified that Vance played with him, made sure he did his homework and protected him from their mother. At times Vance would cook for the rest of the family, Montgomery said. "That's my brother, and I love him," he said.

Vance's girlfriend, Sheanika Cooper, said he often spoiled their three children, two girls and a boy.

A psychiatrist had told jurors Vance showed signs of paranoia and compared the man's brain to a car with bad wiring.

"Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't," said Dr. Shawn Agharkar, who teaches at Morehouse and Emory universities.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Teacher gets year of probation for stalking student's mom

Wakefield, MA resident Christopher Cieto, a former Hollis/Brookline high school teacher, was sentenced to a year on probation for stalking a student's mother. Cieto resigned from his position as an English teacher September 11, three days after he was placed on administrative leave and four days before he was formally charged with two counts of misdemeanor stalking and a count of obscenity.

Police began investigating June 24, after a Hollis woman reported that she was receiving harassing e-mails, one of which included a photograph of a naked and sexually aroused black male, from the waist down.

The woman told police she began getting e-mail messages in April from someone who identified himself as "Robert Reddick," and claimed to be keeping an "eye" on her, Mello wrote in his application for the warrant. After an initial batch of messages, the woman heard nothing more until June, when she received more e-mails from someone purporting to be "Chris Sheridan." Some of the e-mails included photographs of a young man, and one e-mail stated, "I think you just need to have some fun. If you need to escape, just let me know."

Police charge that Cieto used his position as a teacher to learn the woman's e-mail address, though he never had any sort of personal relationship with her. The woman didn't know Cieto, but recognized his real name, as her daughter had been in one of his classes, Mello wrote.

Cieto was sentenced to a year in jail, suspended, and required to undergo evaluation and treatment as a sex offender.

British guard has inmate's baby, sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison

A British prison guard was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison - 1 year for misconduct in public office, and 1 1/2 years for cell phone smuggling - for a sexual relationship she had with a 21 year old "dangerous" offender. Kelly-Anne McDade, 31, got pregnant with Nelson Delgado's baby while she worked at and he was an inmate at Aylesbury young offenders institution in Buckinghamshire. McDade worked at the institution for 3 years before starting the relationship with Delgado. McDade gave birth in February this year.

Nigel Ogborne, the prosecutor, said that McDade tried to explain away the pregnancy by saying that it was the result of a fling. "She was asked by the prison authorities about the pregnancy and she indicated that it was as a result of a relationship on a foreign holiday." After the prison governor found out it was Delgado's baby, he said it "could have caused a massive breach of security."

Richard Germain, defending McDade, told the court: "There is no doubt it was an inappropriate relationship, but Ms McDade would say, 'You can't help who you fall in love with'.

She fell in love with this serving prisoner, who was nearly 10 years her junior."

He said the case was "unique". "At some point in the future, she and Mr Delgado hope to set up home together and bring up the child together."

McDade resigned after she was caught on closed circuit TV unlocking Delgado's door after lights out. After Delgado was moved to Swinfen Hall young offenders institution earlier this year, McDade tried to smuggle three cell phones inside a stereo. She was caught, and a subsequent search of her home turned up a "love" letter and some weed.
The presiding judge was Christopher Tyrer at Aylesbury Crown Court.

Molester sentenced to prison for exposing wife to HIV

A convicted child molester from Camden, SC, was sentenced to 6 years prison and 4 years probation Thursday, November 12 for knowingly exposing his now ex-wife to HIV. Joel Lynn Bedenbaugh, 47, married the victim in 2002. DUring their five year marraige, Bedenbaugh told his victim (er, wife) that the drugs he was taking was for a rare condition that he had, not HIV. 

The indictment for these charges stemmed from an investigation into his medical history for an ongoing sexual abuse investigation involving an 11 year old girl. Aiken County Circuit Court Judge Paul Burch sentenced Bedenbaugh to sex offender registration to control his risk.

Bedenbaugh was convicted of having inappropriate contact with a 13-year-old girl in November 2006. He was sentenced to two years of probation after admitting to the relationship.

In addition to having taught at St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic School, Bedenbaugh had been an employee of the Aiken County School District and an employee at a Georgia school. He had also taught privately at his residence and served as an instructor with the Gateway summer arts enrichment program. The incidents alleged did not reportedly occur on any school property, according to officials.

According to state law, it is illegal for someone who knows he or she is infected with HIV to knowingly engage in sexual intercourse with another person without first informing that person of the HIV infection.

Under the law, it is also illegal for a person who knows he is infected to knowingly commit an act of prostitution with another person, knowingly sell or donate blood, blood products, semen, tissue, organs or other body fluids; forcibly engage in sexual intercourse without the consent of the other person, including one's legal spouse; knowingly share with another person a hypodermic needle, syringe or both for the introduction of drugs or any other substance into, or for the withdrawal of blood or body fluids from the other person's body without first informing that person that the needle, syringe or both has been used by someone infected with HIV.

Bedenbaugh faces three counts of 1st degree criminal sexual conduct with a child for the incident with the 11 year old girl.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fresno man sentenced to 50 to life for murdering estranged wife, brother-in-law

Stepdaughters speak of trauma after guilty plea by a Fresno man.
Published online on Friday, Nov. 13, 2009
By Pablo Lopez / The Fresno Bee
A Fresno man was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his estranged wife and her brother in August 2007. Moses Mejia, 40, sobbed in Fresno County Superior Court as his three stepdaughters, who witnessed the shooting, and several other relatives tearfully described how Mejia ruined their lives.

"We all live with a pill, a depression pill, so we can keep on living," said Ofilia Perez, the mother of the two slain victims -- Sandra Luevano and Javier Castro.

Police said Mejia took a cab to Luevano's home on North Crystal Avenue, entered the residence, shot the two victims and then left in the same cab on Aug. 31, 2007. Luevano's daughters were 15, 13 and 11 at the time of the shooting. Friday, the three sisters told Judge Gary Orozco that they suffer from depression, anxiety and fear. In my nightmares, I hear Javier scream," said Jasmine Nagra. "I hear the gunshots."

Daniela Luevano said she still can vividly see her mother and uncle dead on the floor. "I remember it as if it happened yesterday," she said. Monica Luevano said she remembers feeling helpless and calling 911.

The three girls told the judge that Mejia deserves a long prison term, but said they don't harbor hate for him. Instead, they have forgiven him. "I hope he finds the help he needs," Jasmine Nagra said. Javier Castro's two school-age sons, Michael and Daniel, told the judge that they also feel a huge loss. "The only time I can see him is in my dreams," Daniel Castro said.

Police said Mejia and Luevano were married about five years, but were separated when the shooting happened. She had obtained an emergency protective order against Mejia, but the order never was served because he could not be found, police said.

Attorney Michael Aed, who represented Mejia, said Friday that his client admitted guilt during his trial last month to spare Luevano's daughters from testifying. Mejia admitted guilt against his attorney's advice. "It was a crime-of-passion shooting," Aed said. Now, Mejia will be nearly 90 years old before he is eligible for parole, Aed said.

Mejia did not speak in court, but in a letter, he wrote that he was sorry. If the death penalty was an option, Mejia would have taken it, Aed said. "He knows what he did was wrong," Aed said.  "And he knows he can't take away their pain."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Boyfriend" sentenced to 35 years for attempted murder of woman

A South Carolina man was sentenced to 35 years in prison for attacking his ex-girlfriend and her mother and forcing the ex-girlfriend to ride on his motorcycle, then pushing her off. Curtis Nealey of Darlington, SC, was convicted  on two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, and kidnapping and possession of a weapon during the commission of violent crime. Nealey's conviction in a Darlington County courtroom came after a two day trial.

Fourth Circuit Court Judge Michael Baxley sentenced Nealey to 20 years on the assault and battery charges, 10 years for criminal DV, and 30 years for kidnapping. These sentences will be served concurrently, but consecutively with a 5 year sentence for possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

The acts which led up to the sentencing took place on October 14, 2008. Nealey was spending time with his ex-girlfriend at her home when things began to become heated. When the victim's mother intervened, Nealey hit the mother over the head with a ceramic object, and forced the girlfriend at knifepoint to ride on his motorcycle.

Prosecutors were unable to determine exactly how fast the motorcycle was traveling, but were told by the victim that the vehicle was traveling at a high speed when she was thrown off. The ordeal continued when Nealey turned the motorcycle around to find the victim, who had survived the fall and attracted the attention of the driver of a passing 18-wheeler.

She grabbed on to the outside of the 18-wheeler and screamed “He’s trying to kill me,” as Nealey tried to pull her off. The driver of the 18-wheeler testified in court that Nealey left the scene after he told him he’d called the police. The woman suffered two broken arms that required plates and screws, head injuries, road burns as well as facial injuries as a result of the attack, McKenzie said.

Nealey was located and arrested by Darlington County authorities several days after [the] incident.

Because kidnapping and assault and battery with intent to kill are considered violent crimes by South Carolina, Nealey must serve 85% of his sentence.

Rhode Island man guilty in British Virgin Islands scuba death of wife

A Rhode Island man who killed his wife in the British Virgin Islands while scuba diving was convicted of murder by a BVI court Tuesday, October 27. After a three week trial and only a few hours of deliberation, David Swain, now 53, was convicted in the murder of Shelly Tyre on March 12, 1999. Swain and Tyre had been married for 6 years before Tyre's murder, but Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Terrence Williams said that the defendant wanted to kill Tyre to be with his mistress Mary Basler.

“He liked her body, mind and face…You saw Mary, she is not short of looks…Mary and Shelley knew each other as they dived together. So it was too close for comfort…This was no man looking for only physical intimacy, but to move on with a new life partner…But he wanted the money too…So if he divorced Shelley he get nothing.”

Williams, in his closing arguments Monday, said that Swain knew that their was an issue with his wife's mask, and did not do everything in his power to save her after she was in trouble - particulary when he failed to perform CPR or call "Mayday."

“Her struggle that day was a fatal struggle after she was attacked by Swain when he deprived her of air and hold her down…He (Swain) thought that he could have held the truth under the blanket of the ocean, like he held down her body, but you cannot hold down the truth. This is a case where someone thought they committed the perfect murder but the truth always benefits from good fortunes and one such good fortune is a slip of tongue by Mr. Swain himself.”

“Until this day I cannot understand what Mr. Swain was saying - how if he had continued to do more CPR he would have put the occupants of the boat at danger. I cannot understand that until now….Others who were not related to Shelley tried…and there is the husband who is a trained EMT, saying no further use she is dead and Pan Pan…taking his own time.”

Pan-pan is a term stating that there is a safety or medical issue at sea which does not pose an immediate threat to life or vessels, but which needs to be monitored.

Meanwhile, Swain’s Lawyer Hayden Sinclair Douglas during his closing arguments earlier on Monday said that while the letters sent to Basler by Swain does not paint him in a flattering light, the jurors need to ask themselves if they get from it that he wanted to be with Basler at any cost including killing his wife.

Douglas said that there was a determination by both Tyre and Swain to fix their marriage since they were having problems with Tyre’s job which resulted in them not seeing much of each other. He said a resolution was made by Tyre getting a job closer to home. “The point I want you to get is that Swain said that there was a move in the right direction to rectify the void taking place…Was there any evidence that Swain was given an ultimatum which would caused him desperation on his financial things…Swain said they would find way to fix the marriage and they did.”

He also said that the autopsy was inadequately done which left it open to various possibilities which could have led to Tyre’s death under the water, and could have included her getting a heart attack or stroke which led her to panic and drown. Douglas said they were not eliminated.

The victim's father, Richard Tyre, made his victim impact report, showing how Swain betrayed their trust when he killed their daughter. After the murder, when their daughter's death seemed to be an accident, the Tyre's still suported their former son-in-law. After the verdict, he made this statement.

 The intelligence, concern, integrity and the efficiency, the way the court behaved impressed us immensely. And the second thing is that we watched the jury for these 21 days and the intensity of their attention and the way they listened carefully to the evidence made us feel very good. The third thing is that we feel extremely good that people like David Swain won’t be able to hurt anymore women…We are just happy with how the court and jury behaved and with the BVI justice system.

Swain's sentencing will be November 4. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, but the presiding Judge, Justice Indra Hariprashad Charles, has the authority to set a minimum term before parole eligibility.

(Update 11-12-09) Swain was sentenced to 25 years minimum in prison two days ago. WIth time served, this means the earliest he can go before a parole board is in 23 years. This minimum sentence was what Principal Crown Counsel Mrs. Grace Henry-McKenzie asked for.

Last Wednesday during a hearing, his Lawyer Hayden St. Clair-Douglas told the court that Swain who will be 54 on November 20, served four years as a Council person in his hometown, Jamestown. He said that he can anticipate that his client will not have any behavioural infraction during his time in prison and will turn out to be a model prisoner.

Douglas had requested of the court to allow his client to go before the Parole Board in the next 17 years where he can request to be paroled.

The Lawyer also presented to the Judge some 40 character statements on behalf of Swain which were sent via emails and letters describing him as a kind and giving person. Statements were also submitted from his two children who also expressed hope that the court would allow him to go before the Parole Board at an early stage.

Judge Charles' explanation for her decision is as follows:

  Mr. Swain I could have sentenced you to a sentence of life imprisonment with eligibility for parole in 30 years in keeping with the UK laws.” However, the Judge said that when she took all matters into consideration, she decided to sentence him to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole in 25 years. The Judge added “because of your good behavior, I will less the time spent on remand. It is the best I can do in this situation. I am bond by the jury’s decision.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mother of two's killer - her husband - sentenced to life in shooting

A Moss Point, MS man who killed his wife because he thought she would leave him was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole when he turns 65. Circuit Court Judge Robert Krebs sentenced 31 year old Frank Patton to life for the murder by deliberate design of his 30 year old wife Remika February 23, 2008.

Patton at first told police an intruder came in the house and shot both him and his wife. A Moss Point police detective testified that there were no signs of forced entry into the home and the security alarm was set but didn’t go off until after Frank Patton opened the door for police.

When asked if he shot his wife, Frank Patton said: “No. Why would I shoot my wife? I love my wife. I want this to work. I never had anything (in) my life. She gave me a child. She gave me a house, and my credit was messed up. She went and put her name on (a)...truck,” before later adding, “I think she shot herself.”

A forensic pathologist testified that the wife’s gunshot wound to the head was not self-inflicted. Patton's wound to his chest, however, was.

Remika's mother Tammy Tate, said that her son-in-law and daughter no longer slept in the same bedroom or drove to work together, even though they worked in the same shipyard. While they married in April 2004, the man would simply disappear for several days at a time. Tate's last conversation with her daughter ended with his message. “If she ever needed me, to call me anytime. I told her that I love her, and she told me she loved me too.”

Sabrina Austin described her former friend's husband as anti social and said that she wanted a divorce because “She told me she felt like a roommate. She told me she never felt like a wife.”

Remika leavs behind two children, an 8 year old and a 3 year old.

Ex- convict found guilty of torturing "girlfriend"

Charles Robert Peck Jr, a 51 year old parolee from Acampo, CA with a long criminal history, will probably spend the rest of his life in prison for torturing and assaulting his "girlfriend" earlier this summer. Torture carries a mandatory life sentence with parole possible after 7 years, but Peck's previous Kansas convictions can lengthen his minimum California prison stay if they count as strikes under California's 3 strikes law.

In sometimes tearful testimony, Peck's girlfriend told a San Joaquin County jury about her ordeal, which began June 27.

She said Peck came home, jumped on her in their bed and began beating her. The assault continued and she tried but failed to get away, losing consciousness. When she awoke, she said Peck had wrapped a chain around her neck and fastened it to a pull-out couch. Eventually she gave up, and she said the assaults stopped. Then Peck treated her wounds and even left the home, but she was scared that he was waiting outside for her.

On July 1, she escaped to a nearby road, and flagged down a passing car which took her to the local hospital. She suffered extensive brusing to her face and legs. After two days of deliberation, they convicted Peck of five felonies Thursday, Novemner 5 and found that his Kansas convictions, including one for kidnapping which earned his 21 years in Kansas prisons, were relevant. However, a judge will consider if they should count as strikes at Peck's sentencing.

Sex offender suspected in disappearance of women sentenced for failure to register

A sex offender convicted of masturbating on women at a mall and suspected in the disapperance (and possible death) of Laura Garza, a 25 year old woman was sentenced to prison on Thursday, November 5. Orange County Court Judge Nicholas DeRosa sentenced Michael Mele to 1 -3 years in prison for failure to register as a sex offender. Mele moved from his parents house in the Town of Newburgh to an apartment in the Town Of Wallkill.

Mele met the Texas transplant in a Manhattan nightclub in early December. She was last seen by an unidentified witness laughing and kissing him in his SUV in the parking lot of the Newburgh Mall. He was forced to register as a sex offender after he pleaded guilty to misdmeanor charges of exposing himself and masturbating on women at the Palisades Center mall in Rockland County.

Judge DeRosa said that that act was "depraved and unfathomable," something that would be expected “in a secure mental health facility, or zoo, not in a mall in the United States of America.”

Mele plead guilty to the count of failure to register in court on September 29.  Assistant District Attorney Karen Edelman-Reyes believes that Mele's parents, William and Michelle, colluded with their youngest son when they failed to inform New York City police officers that their son had moved. The plea deal also held off a trial for the charges.

Mele's also facing separate misdemeanor public lewdness charges in Rockland County, and he's also due in Town of Newburgh Court in November, for a hearing to determine whether he violated the terms of his probation last year. He's accused of skipping sex offender counseling and going to the Marquee nightclub in Manhattan last year, a violation of orders that he stay away from establishments that serve booze.

Marquee was where he met the 25-year-old Garza, an aspiring dancer who moved to New York City from Texas last year. She was seen Dec. 3, leaving the club with Mele.

The trial could have forced prosecutors to turn over to the defense sensitive evidence pertaining to Garza's disappearance; Mele's never been charged in connection with that case, but the address-change charge and another case, involving allegations that he possessed stolen credit cards, both relied on evidence obtained during a search warrant that police executed on Mele's apartment at the Regency Club in the Town of Wallkill. The search warrant was obtained as police scrambled for evidence of Garza's whereabouts.

“I'm sorry that I let so many down, including myself. These mistakes do not represent me,” Mele said. One of his lawyers, Craig Brown, told reporters afterwards that “I think his parents were disappointed in the district attorney's remarks and in the judge's remarks."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I-5 serial killer sentenced to life without parole

By Layla Bohm

[Lodi, CA]News-Sentinel Staff Writer
Friday, November 6, 2009 6:03 AM PST

They were daughters and sisters. Some were mothers. All were victims of Roger Reece Kibbe. And when the six women were raped and murdered by Kibbe, their family members were never the same.
On Thursday, some of those family members cried and glared at a stone-faced Kibbe, now 70, as he was sentenced to six terms of life in prison with no possibility of parole. He pleaded guilty to the charges in September, in a deal to avoid the death penalty.The family members also had a chance Thursday to publicly say just how much their lives had changed in the decades since their daughters and sisters went missing.

Between 1977 and 1986, Kibbe spent a lot of time on Interstate 5, and at the same time women began disappearing, then turning up dead. The crimes gathered attention, and the media soon dubbed the suspect the "I-5 Strangler," since that road seemed to be a frequent theme.

"There's one question that I'd like to ask: Why? Why did you take the lives which you have not the rights to? You took my daughter, you took these other people's daughters," said Thomas Brown, father of 19-year-old Stephanie Brown, whose body was found July 15, 1986, off Highway 12. Brown was one of the victims that investigators had long believed Kibbe had killed. At the time, science wasn't able to link them. Then in 2003, DNA linked Brown's death to Kibbe. Around the same time, another link was made with another victim.

San Joaquin County Sheriff's Detective David "Vito" Bertocchini, who had handled the Brown investigation and never forgotten it, went to see Kibbe in prison. Kibbe waived his right to remain silent, and he began telling investigators about his victims.

Kibbe even went with them in a helicopter to try finding one of the bodies. By then, 17 years had passed since Brown had been killed.

The young woman was one of four daughters, whom her mother often called her "Little Women," after the Louisa May Alcott book. Stephanie Brown went to pick up her roommate who needed a ride home from a bar, but she took a wrong turn and got on I-5. Her car was found at Hood Franklin Road.

She was the youngest of the six victims Kibbe admitted killing. The oldest was 29-year-old Barbara Ann Scott, who was kidnapped in Pittsburg on July 3, 1986, less than two weeks before Brown was killed. Scott was raped, killed and dumped at Lone Tree Golf Course in Contra Costa County.
 Her sister, Pamela Reed, asked Kibbe to look at her as she spoke, but he looked straight ahead through the hour-long sentencing. "I cannot fathom how a so-called human being could do such things to a woman," Reed said. "I thank God that you will never hurt another woman for the rest of your pathetic life.

For years, Reed hasn't displayed Scott's photo in her home, saying the pain was too great. But, she said while fighting back tears, "When I get home today I am hanging her picture on the wall. We will celebrate her life from this day forward.

Some family members have managed to forgive Kibbe, including Brown's mother. They said it was their way to honor their daughters and instead focus on them. Another mother, Carmen Anselmi, could barely speak one sentence before she broke down sobbing. All I can say is that he took her away from me, but I still forgive him," said Anselmi, whose daughter, Charmaine Sabrah, 25, was kidnapped near Thornton on Aug. 17, 1986.

For Anselmi, the past 23 years have also been filled with a sense of guilt: The mother and daughter had traveled from Sacramento to Stockton for an evening of dancing, and they were heading home when their car broke down on I-5. Kibbe stopped his two-seater car and offered to drive them one at a time, since he only had one extra seat. Sabrah had an infant son at home, so she went first. Her mother never saw her again, and Sabrah's body was later found in Amador County.

The son Sabrah left behind has since been raised by his grandmother. To add to the family's sorrows, shortly before her death Sabrah's husband had taken their two children to his native Jordan. He never returned, and the family hasn't had contact with them; her remaining son doesn't know his siblings.

That son, Sabri Sabrah, stood before the judge with his arm around his grandmother. He clenched his left hand as he spoke briefly of Kibbe: "All I know is that I hope he burns in hell for all eternity and that he suffers for every person he has hurt."

Patrick Green, a relative of another victim, 25-year-old Katherine Quinones, also struggled to remain composed. "I'm the only brother of Katherine Kelly Quinones. She left a son and a daughter," he said before choking up, turning and striding quickly out of the courtroom, never returning.

Kibbe picked up Quinones on the streets of downtown Sacramento on Nov. 5, 1986. He raped and murdered her, then dumped her body at Lake Berryessa in Napa County.

That is also where he told investigators that he dumped the body of 21-year-old Lou Ellen Burleigh. She disappeared Sept. 11, 1977, after going to what she thought was a job interview in a Walnut Creek shopping center.

Despite multiple searches, with Kibbe in tow, investigators have never found Burleigh's body. Though 32 years have passed since her death, her mother and brothers said Thursday that they still mourn the many holidays they've been unable to spend with her.

"He took that time away from our life. I believe that in this case an eye for an eye is just as the Bible says, but I have to forgive just as the Bible says," said her brother, Chris Burleigh.

Kibbe was also sentenced for kidnapping Lora Heedick, 21, on April 21, 1986, in Modesto. She was raped and murdered, then dumped in the Brannon Island area near Isleton. Her family could not attend the sentencing, said Deputy District Attorney Kevin Mayo. As for an actual motive, that remains elusive. Investigators believe Kibbe is a sociopath. His lawyers stopped just short of agreeing.

"I don't know if he's a sociopath, but he's certainly different from the rest of us," said defense attorney Jan David Karowsky. Since Kibbe pleaded guilty six weeks ago, he has undergone three days of interviews with a psychologist, which was part of the plea deal.

The psychologist noted many of the things Bertocchini had — that he always saw himself as the victim. Kibbe saw his mother as a tyrant, and he even dwelled on one time when an officer pulled him over and he felt it was unjust, Bertocchini said.

As a teenager, Kibbe stuttered and wet the bed, which point to something wrong in his childhood, said his other attorney, Deputy Public Defender Miriam Lyell.

Kibbe did not speak during the sentencing. Karowsky instead made an apologetic statement on his behalf, looking directly at the families.Victims' family members shook their heads and said afterward that they don't believe Kibbe is sorry. One victim's brother, Carl Burleigh, noted that Kibbe had caused pain and loss to his own family, too.

"Many people have had much harder lives than him. There is simply no excuse for the choices he made. He is simply weak and cowardly. He shows that today by hiding behind Lady Justice," Carl Burleigh said in court. "His greatest act is that when he dies he will be used as fertilizer

NYC incest victim gets 5 - 15 for castration death of father, her abuser

An incest victim was sentenced to 5-15 years in prison Friday for cutting off her father (and perp's) penis while he bled to death. Brigitte Harris was convicted of 2nd manslaughter after a two week trial. Jurors acquitted her of 2nd degree murder and 1st degree manslaughter charges after 3 hours of deliberation on September 30. Judge Arthur Cooperman, who presided over the trial in Queens Supreme Court, sentenced Harris. Harris was beaten and raped by her father, a Liberian citizen, since she was 3.

Ms. Harris, 28, contends that she did not intend to kill her father, 55-year-old St. George [Staten Island]resident Eric Goodridge, after luring him to her Far Rockaway [Queens] apartment on July 28, 2007. Prosecutors say Harris lured Goodridge, 55, to her Beach 69th St. apartment on July 28, 2007, handcuffed him to a chair and stuck a towel in his mouth.
She then removed his penis with a surgical scalpel.

She admitted to cooking the evidence on a stove because she had learned from researching the John Bobbitt case that a penis can be reattached. She simply wanted to dismember him to prevent him from sexually abusing anyone else. He was found handcuffed and beaten, with his genitals severed and a towel stuffed in his mouth.

Harris acted after learning that he was planning to take his sister's daughters back to Liberia, where he was born. "There was no way I could let it continue. I did it because I couldn't let my sister's children go through that...I don't know why I didn't take the towel out of his mouth.I didn't want him to hurt anybody else."

Harris told her sister, aunts, and other relatives about the incest, but they did not believe her. "No matter what he did, he's still your father," one aunt said. "The people who did know me should have known I wasn't lying. They knew me. They knew I wasn't that type."

The unusual case flipped the common dynamic that a jury is supposed to feel sympathy for the victim and at least some aversion toward the defendant. One juror called Goodridge “a sick pedophile”; others agreed with the prosecutor’s statement that he was "despicable.” On the other hand, at least 10 jurors said they plan to write letters to the judge and the parole board to ask that Ms. Harris be set free on time served.

“No one should have to go through what she had gone through. I just felt to put her away for another 30 or 40 years is not justice. Hopefully, she will get the help she needs and be able to make a life for herself when she gets out,” said one of the jurors.

Cooperman acknowledged the findings of mental health professionals who agreed Goodridge repeatedly sexually abused his daughter from age 3, but he cautioned against victims taking the law into their own hands.

"Sometimes, the crime itself warrants punishment," he said

“[Jurors] came back with a just verdict, but the judge came back [and said] ‘give her the max’ without even thinking,”  said Harris' attorney Arthur Aidala, who represented her pro bono.

On Riker's Island, the jail for NYC residents awaiting trial, Harris' interests include vampire books, and ironically, cooking classes. She has also found out that many incarcerated female inmates have their own incest histories. "I try to tell them that if they did it to you, they could do it to someone else," she said.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Man who killed wife to collect on insurance policy sentenced to life without parole

A man who bludgeoned his wife to death in front of their baby boy's crib was sentenced to life without parole by San Bernadino Judge Timothy Freer Friday, November 6. Forty-one year old Kelle Lee Jarka killed his wife of 20 years, 40 year old Isabelle Jarka, in Murrieta, CA, on April 28, 2008 for the $1.3 million in insurance he took out on her.

Jarka claimed he came home after running errands the morning of April 28, 2008, to find his home broken into and his wife -- who had been struck 11 times in the head -- lying face down on the bedroom floor in a pool of blood.

Police concluded the burglary had been staged. Forensic evidence suggested Isabelle was lying in bed asleep when the first blow was struck and that the killer followed her as she crawled across the bedroom floor, continuing to strike her in the head in what prosecutor Burke Strunsky described as "rage-inspired overkill."

The murder weapon was never found. But on Jarka's laptop computer, investigators discovered records of incriminating Internet searches, including "how to medically suffocate" and "how long does a life insurance policy need to be in effect to pay out."

The perp's brother-in-law and childhood friend, Bill Schafer, said that Kelle had been imprisoned based solely on circumstansial evidence and "We believe in his innocence. We are proud of him."

The victim's two sisters, including Laura McGraw, who adopted her dead sister's two kids, said that "All of our dreams have been shattered because of Kelle's arrogance and greed."

The perp's statement to the court was, "Isabelle and I dreamed ... of growing old together. That dream was taken away from us. I maintain my innocence to this day."

Judge Freer said that that statement of innocence even after being found guilty of murder was "astounding," and that the "extreme cruelty" inflicted on the murderer against his wife reflected "chiiling and "disturbing" conduct.

The only true explanation of his conduct, according to Judge Freer, was evil. In Jarka's scheme to kill his wife to get out of debt, "in this court's opinion, he became morally bankrupt."

Security guard gets 3 months house arrest for sex assault on co-worker

Ralph Robles, a 39 year old former hospital guard, will serve 3 months of house arrest for the indecent assault on a co-worker in Bethlehem, PA. Robles plead guilty to the assault in the hospital basement. Northampton County Judge Stephen Baratta sentenced Robles Thursday, November 5 after reading a pre-sentence report suggesting that he is a low risk to reoffend.

Robles, a seven-year Easton Hospital security guard, was charged with putting a switchboard operator in a head lock and forcing her to perform oral sex Jan. 7, 2007, while she was working alone.

But when he pleaded guilty in September, it was to a second-degree misdemeanor count of indecent assault, with prosecutors dropping a more serious felony charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Reading from a presentence investigation, Baratta said Robles admitted only to rubbing up against the victim on various occasions. ''The situation was a big mistake,'' said Robles, who was fired by the hospital after the charges surfaced.

Robles, who will serve 21 months of probation after the house arrest is over, must undergo sex offender treatment. Robles has a civil judgement against him by his victim, who alleges that he had a history of assault and harassment before the sex attack. Easton Hospital and some of its administrators are also named in the federal lawsuit.

Videotaped rapes net men 6 years in California's prison system

A woman who was videotaped while being raped recieved justice yesterday when her attackers were sentenced to 6 years in California prisons. Michael Alexander Clemmons, 20, of Tustin, and John Paul Foster II, 23, of Seaside, Ca plead uilty in September to eight sex charges, including including rape of an unconscious person unable to resist due to an intoxicating substance. Yesterday, Luster Mitchell Lewis, 21, of Irvine, plead guilty to similar charges. All defendants received 6 years in prison, a sentenced handed down by Ornage County Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel.

The three became friends while attending Tustin High School in Tustin, CA. Clemmons and Foster played football for Santa Ana City College, while Lewis moved elsewhere in California.

In July 2008, the men were partying at the Key Inn, a motel at 1611 El Camino Real in Tustin, with the 18-year-old acquaintance, who was intoxicated but expecting the defendants to take care of her, according to Deputy District Attorney Robert Mestman. But instead, Mestman said, the three men took advantage of her sexually after she passed out while using a video camera to record the action.

The victim was non-responsive throughout the sexual assault, and did not resist – even when Clemmons slapped her in the face, told her to wake up, and held her nose closed to suffocate her in order to wake her up, Mestman said.

The videotape was discovered by a third party in December 2008 and turned over as evidence to Tustin Police, prosecutors said. Tustin Detectives located the victim, who said that she was unaware of the sexual assaults because she was passed out from too much to drink.

In her victim impact statement, the woman told the court that the assault left her with emotional issues and unable to trust. The inability to trust is not limited to the actual attackers, but also included her "friends," who did not believe that she had been raped, and her "boyfriend," who when she told the story of her attack, sided with the attackkers, his longtime friend rather than his "girlfriend."

"He said he didn't want to have to choose between his friends of 12 years and a girl who he's been dating for four months...I don't know why I stayed with him. I had hope it would get better."

In addition, after the rapes, the defendants refused to take her home, so "they told me to take the bus. I was angry and confused and I didn't know why they wouldn't help me.

Deputy Alternate Defender Kenneth Morrison offered this statement of remorse on Foster's behalf.

  John has never attempted to justify or excuse in any way anything he did that night, but there are some things  that may help to explain why he acted as he did," Morrison said. John has dealt with deep emotional feelings of abandonment since childhood due to tragedies in his family life," he said. "As a result, he has been somewhat of a follower in order to be accepted and fit in with people who have befriended him …

   John sincerely believes that but for the influence of alcohol and that desire to be accepted and fit in, he would not have been deluded into believing that the contact was in any way consensual and he would have stepped in and tried to stop the others when inappropriate touching began," Morrison said

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Special ed teacher who had sex with 18 year old student pleads guilty to misdemeanor

(Original Post 8-28-09)
A suburban Cincinnati former teacher and mother was charged with having a "consensual" sexual relationship with a Winton Woods High School student who she tutored. The high school is located in Forest Park, OH. Mary Ems, a 43 year old special education teacher, resigned in March after having sex with the boy, who was not in any classes with Ems. According to Forest Park police, the sex occurred off grounds.

Ems, a divorced mother of two, was not charged with felony sexual battery, the crime alluded to in the police report. If she had been charged and convicted of that, she would have had to report as a sex offender, said Julie Wilson, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office.
The victim also would have had to testify, something he is reluctant to do, school and police officials have said.

Instead, Ems' attorney and prosecutors reached an agreement on the misdemeanor sex charge, which holds a maximum sentence of six months upon conviction but no requirement to report as an offender. The charge [usually] refers to having sex with a child between the ages of 13 and 16.
In Ohio, minors are defined as those who are 18 and have not finished high school as well as those under 18.

(Update 9-15-09)
Ems formally pleaded guilty to the unlawful sexual contact with a minor charge as scheduled before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Melba Marsh. According to Assistant Prosecutor Anne Flanagan, the victim's non-cooperation prevented her for going after a felony conviction. Instead, the plea to the unlawful contact and surrender of teaching license will allow Ems to escape both a felon and sex offender stigma. Ems' formal sentencing will be October 29, and she can be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail, but the judge is leaning towards probation.

(Update 11-5-09) Ems was formally sentenced by Common Pleas Court Judge Melba Marsh to 2 years probation yesterday. However, Ems' position at Union Christian Post Graduate Academy, a school for teenage boys 17 and older, concerned Judge Marsh. Marsh also sentenced Ems to continue counseling and to undergo a polygraph test. "I want to verify that no other child comes into contact with you and becomes a victim," Marsh said, and if Ems did not conduct herself appropriately, "We have a Hamilton County jail for individuals who can't conduct themselves as they should."

Disgraced Sacramento divorce lawyer gets 1 1/2 years for fondling clients

A former Sacramento divorce layer was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison, 5 years probation, and lifetime sex offender registration yesterday for fondling his female clients under the guise of helping them medically. Gary Appelblatt, 57, plead no contest to four counts of sexual battery and a fifth count of improper touching in exchange for 9 other sexual battery counts being dropped and a maximum sentence of 18 months. Judge Gary E. Ransom sentenced the disgraced former lawyer in Sacramento Superior Court. Appelblatt tried to ask for a few days of free time to get his affairs in order, but Judge Ransom ordered him directly to prison.

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives launched their investigation of Appelblatt in February 2008 when a woman told them he made her take off her tank top and then reached into her pants during a divorce consultation. Appelblatt, she said, had a pharmacy degree on his office wall. She said he checked her breathing with a stethoscope and pounded her knees with a rubber mallet, then conducted something along the lines of a breast exam.

A month later, the detectives arrested Appelblatt. A TV report of the arrest brought out other victims who told investigators about similar experiences with Appelblatt that dated back to 2003.

Another victim stated that Appelbaum offered to reduce her legal bill by $5000 if she would have sex with him. All victims stated that the lawyer told them not to tell anyone about the assaults. 

At the time of the plea deal on August 17, Deputy District Attorney Keith Hill said "I think to me the most important thing is that lawyers are in a position of trust with their clients. I think he violated that, and I think he deserves the punishment he is going to get."

Hill went on to explain what he and the victims were hoping to accomplish with the no contest plea. "Realistically, when you take it all into consideration, it's a lot for these victims to go through again. You've always got to consider the victims. What was allowable under the law, this will be an appropriate sentence, and I hope and trust the judge will give him the maximum at the time of sentencing, and he indicated on the record this morning that that is the likely outcome."

Hill said he spoke to all of the victims last week and that they approved of the plea deal. "They were all willing to come forward and testify at trial, but they are relieved to not have to do that and to know that he's admitting guilt and that he will be punished for it."

At sentencing, Hill said that the use of the phony medical certificate and doctors' tools, as well as the fact that divorce clients have been through "terrible emotional" times just befor hiring him as a client, showed "planning and sophistication." "It was a complete legal and moral breakdown on his part. This is something he did for years, something he did over and over and over, to victim after victim after victim."
Tom Johnson, Appelblatt's defense lawyer, said his client, a practicing lawer for the past 2 decades, "stands before you utterly humiliated as a person and as an attorney." Echoing this, Appelblatt himself said that he had suffered from unaddressed mental issues and expected to be disbarred later this month. "I've lost my livelihood which I have loved for the last 20 years and (am) facing loss of my freedom."
Three of his victims also appared in court. One victim said that "You preyed upon my life when I was most weak and most vulnerable..."You robbed me of my dignity and self-worth." A second victim stated that "I only hope Mr. Appelblatt never has the opportunity to get his hands on anybody again."  All of them said that Appelblatt violated their trust, took advantage of their vulnerability, and made them suspicious of professionals.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Husband, brother allegedly murder woman to cover up rape, gain $100k in insurance

Two brothers are being held without bail in the Cook County Jail for the murder of a woman who was one of the brother's wives. Dujuan Powe, 20, staged the carjacking of his brother, sister in law, and nieces and nephews a week ago today on Chicago's Northwest Side. As they were filling up at a gas station, Dujuan had carjacked the family, ordering the woman, Kenyatae Collier-Brewer, 22, into the trunk of the car. Dujuan wore a mask from the movie "Scream" while committing the crime.

Twenty-two year old Darron Brewer drove home while his estranged wife was in the trunk of the car. Dujuan went to the 2200 block of North Tripp Avenue and shot Collier-Brewer twice in the head, killing her. The gun used in the murder was traced back to Dujuan's house, where he lived with his girlfriend. Brewer reported his wife missing Monday, October 26. 

According to prosecutors, the murder was dome to cover up the rape of the woman, who threatened to go to police. Also, there was the little matter of the $100,000 (or $150,000) life insurance policy that Brewer and his brother would collect on if his wife died.

Emotions ran high Friday during a bond hearing for Brewer, who was charged Thursday with first-degree murder. Moments after Brewer was escorted by sheriff's deputies into the courtroom, Collier-Brewer's aunt, Tanisha Peppers, rushed from a spectator area through glass doors into the courtroom, glaring at him. A deputy took her by the arm and had her return to the public viewing area. Brewer kept his head bowed, ignoring about a half-dozen in-laws.

As the gruesome details of the slaying were read by Assistant State's Attorney Jodi Peterson, the victim's mother, Theresa Jones, sobbed and ran to the back of the spectator area, where she was comforted by her sister.

The aunt said that the couple, who met in preschool, had troubles, with attempts on Collier-Brewer's life. She began coming home hurt, and was shot in a robbery while pregnant with her youngest son. The victim moved out of the home she used to share with Brewer three months ago, but when she was hit over the head with a glass bottle and needed eight stitches, she explained away the incident as gang violence.
The victim leaves behind two kids, 9 month old Darron, and 1 1/2 year old Darriona. 1st degree murder normally carries a 20 to 60 year sentence without parole, but when comitted with a gun, the minimum sentence is 45 years without parole.

Newark, NJ rapist gets 19 years for attacking gas station clerk

Kyle S. Lyons, 23, of Newark, NJ, was sentenced to 19 years in prison and status as a Tier 3 New Jersey sex offender Friday, October 30 for raping a gas station clerk last year.

Lyon plead guilty to two counts of rape, a first-degree felony; attempted rape, a second-degree felony; kidnapping, a first-degree felony with a sexual motivation specification; and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony.

On Nov. 5, 2008, Lyons walked into Gas America, 814 Mount Vernon Road, where the victim was working as a store clerk, under the pretense of needing to use the phone, Licking County Assistant Prosecutor Dan Huston said.

Lyons left, then returned, dragging the victim by the arm and throat into the gas station's bathroom, where he tried to force her to perform oral sex, Huston said. Lyons told her if she did not cooperate, he would kill her, but she still tried to wrestle away, Huston said.

Lyons then grabbed both her ankles, pulling her to the ground, where he forced himself on her, Huston said.
After the rape, Lyons told her to "fix herself up," apologized and left, Huston said. Lyons then burned the shirt he was wearing during the attack and discarded other clothing in a dog-food bag, he said.

Licking County Common Pleas Court Judge Jon Spahr imposed sentence after consulting with the victim, police, and others. Huston said that while Lyons showed signs of mental illness, they were not major enough to prevent senteicing on the sentencing date. "He made a conscious choice to inflict pain and anguish on (the victim)," Huston said.
The victim read a statement to the court describing how the crime affected her, her fiance, and her family. "What you chose to do to me that night has changed who I am, but you did not break me. Because I am a survivor and not your victim, I went back to my place of employment and went on with my life. I still have a long way to go, and so much to heal, but I am not a quitter or a loser, like you."

"No sentence the court hands down can ease the pain or make things right," Judge Spahr said. Lyons' defense attorney, Andrew Sanderson, said that he hoped his client would take advantage of treatment programs and family support while in prison.