Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Manchester, IA man gets 35 years for shooting now ex "girlfriend"

MANCHESTER, Iowa -- Robert Krogmann on Monday [December 21] received the maximum penalty for shooting and critically wounding his ex-girlfriend, after the judge said he showed a "continued refusal to take responsibility for his actions."

The 51-year-old was handed a 35-year sentence, after the maximum sentences for attempted murder and willful injury were ordered to be served consecutively. Krogmann was convicted last month in the March 13 shooting of Jean Smith, 49, at her Manchester home.

With minimum-sentencing laws, he likely will stay in jail until he's 75.

Dubuque County District Court Judge Lawrence Fautsch said he based his decision on the recommendation of the prosecution and the pre-sentence investigation. According to a pre-sentence report, Krogmann said he believed Smith was "trying to crucify me." "She's been getting along quite well, considered what they did to me," Krogmann said in the report.

Delaware County Attorney John Bernau argued that in recorded conversations and letters sent after the trial, Krogmann showed contempt for "everyone and everything." Bernau said Krogmann insulted his own children ("My -- expletive deleted -- kids better all be at my sentencing ... because it would just look stupid if they weren't there"), the jury ("The jury doesn't know a -- expletive-deleted -- thing about bipolar disorder"), a jailer ("worthless piece of -- expletive deleted"), and even the mashed potatoes served in the jail ("slop").

Bernau also accused Krogmann of "orchestrating" the large showing of family support in the courtroom.Krogmann's sister, Patty Wessels, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, said that wasn't the case. "He's my brother, and I wanted to be here," she said.

During trial, Krogmann claimed that a yearslong battle with bipolar disorder and depression skewed his judgment during the shooting, and he didn't intend to kill Smith.  "I was sick," he said Monday. "I only intended on ending my own life."

Krogmann shot Smith three times, in the stomach, arm and spine. Smith testified that she pleaded for Krogmann to call 911, but he didn't allow it. He finally let her call her mother, who dialed authorities from out-of-state, Smith said.

But during the sentencing, Krogmann said he called 911 and gave her "everything she wanted" after he shot her. "I stayed with her until I was chased away," he said.

Jean Smith said her life will never be the same. Metal plates and screws hold her arm and spine together, and though she may be able to walk again, it would only be with the aid of braces on her legs. "You have already given me a life sentence," she told Krogmann.

Wife killer sentenced to life without parole in Waco, TX

A Waco man was sentenced to life without parole for the hammer bashing death of his wife, 33 year old Rosario Moreno, on May 11 in front of her children, now 5 and 8. A week before, a judge gave the victim and her kids a temporary restraining order ordering the perp, 29 year old Robert Chavira Espinosa, to stay away from her and her children. The restraining order was based on two assaults in April 2009. Espinoza pled guilty to a count of capital murder yesterday in exchange for not facing the death penalty. State District Judge Ralph Strother accepted his guilty plea after the defendant was told that he'd spend the rest of his life in prison.

Before 19th State District Judge Ralph Strother accepted Espinosa’s guilty plea Tuesday, he asked Espinosa whether he understood that the plea would result in him dying in prison. Espinosa responded, “Yes, sir.”

McLennan County prosecutor Edward Vallejo said the district attorney’s office offered the plea deal after carefully weighing all facets of the crime. That included Espinosa’s background and the “traumatic damage” the trial would have caused his children, who were the only witnesses to the crime.

“This plea was fully and extensively discussed with and agreed to by Rosario Moreno’s family members, who continue to be in our thoughts and prayers,” Vallejo said.

Espinosa’s defense lawyer, Waco attorney Russ Hunt, said Espinosa had “a number of mental health issues.” However, he was legally sane at the time of the offense, he said. Espinosa’s actions were partly fueled by his drinking too much alcohol the night of the murder, Hunt said."I have no doubt Robert wishes he hadn’t done this,” Hunt said. “But wishing can’t change this.”

Gladys Moreno, a 19-year-old cousin, walked Espinosa through the days and weeks after the attack. She talked about the family’s daily trips to Temple to see Moreno in the hospital, how the doctors showed them photos of her brain bulging out of her skull and the agonizing decision to take her off life support.

Gladys Moreno also talked about how the family struggled with whether to let Moreno’s children see her in the hospital and how traumatizing it was for them once they were allowed to visit. Moreno had always loved her hair, but because of the attack, her head had to be shaved and was covered in stitches, she said.

“You don’t see them, the questions they ask us, the stuff they’re going through,” Gladys Moreno told Espinosa, referring to the children.

The victim's sister, Elena Moreno said that though she plans to raise her niece and nephew, “the love I can give them will never be nearly as much as the love my sister could have given them.” Then she had words for her sister's killer. She said the children will learn to hate their father, though the family used to think he was a good person. The victim's sister also said that Espinosa deserved to die. “The pain that you’ve left us with will never leave. Why did you sink to such a crime that’s so bad we cannot find a name for it?”
Though the family asked the killer why he killed their cousin and sister, they never got a straight ansewr. The only answer recieved from Espinosa was “I don’t know why.”

Naughty teacher's husband caught peeping on inmates at jail - wife sentenced to 4 to 20 for sex abuse of boy

(Original Post 10-28-09)
A suspected voyeur in the Ada County (Idaho) Sheriff's Department is charged with sending inappropriate photos of female inmates to his wife. The wife is a former Meridian, ID teacher who was convicted of having sex with a 13 year old boy.

Forty year old Shawn Beach is charged with 2 counts of video voyeurism and faces 5 years in prison. He took the photos with his cell phone camera while working behind the monitors at the jail. Shawn then sent these photos to his wife Ashley. During the investigation into her "affair" with a 13 year old male student, forensic investigators found the photos of the inmates.

"They are images of the back side of an inmate that is nude and the other one inmate is sitting on a bench may or may have not have their pants down...Took images of that for no good reason and sent them outside of the organization. That alone led to his termination," said Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney. Beach had worked as jail support staff for 18 years.

Meridian Police Lieutenant Tracy Basterrechea said that even though photos, not videos were involved, the case still falls under the video voyeurism law. "She was in the state of undress. She didn't know the image was being transmitted from one cell phone to another."

According to Sheriff Raney, "Whether or not Shawn's actions will ultimately cause him to be convicted of a crime or not, this former employee violated the trust and values that the other 620 members of this organization live by every day. That's not acceptable here."

Shawn's 37 year old wife Ashley plead guilty to lewd conduct with a minor under 16 a week ago today, and faces up to life in prison. Prosecutors, however, are seeking a 20 year sentence with parole eligibility in 7 years. She was caught in the bushes with a 13 year old boy on September 17, and investigators later found that she had a sexual relationship with her victim for 6 months. She'll be sentenced December 22 by 4th District Judge Ronald Wilper.

(Update 12-30-09) Ashley Beach was sentenced to 4 to 20 years in prison yesterday by 4th District Judge Ronald Wilper. Besides the "relationship" with the 13 year old boy, Ashley also admitted inapropriate, though nonsexual, relationships with 5 other kids, including a girl who she took drinking at 2:30 AM.

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Jean Fisher said that Ashley "was a woman who lost her way. It shows that there are other things going on that are out of control." Judge Wilper said that the now convicted sex offender would not be able to be a hands-on mother anymore. "You are going to be a mother who won't know her children other than visiting days. On the other hand ... you are still alive."

Ashley said to Judge Wilper that "I was thankful I was caught, because it was a train wreck I couldn't stop on my own."

Ketamine rapist sentenced to 23 years in prison

A convicted rapist was sentenced to 23 years in prison on his 42nd birthday, Monday December 14, for two counts of attempted unlawful sexual penetration with enhancements. The 23 year sentence breaks down as follows - 4 years for the first unlawful sexual penetration count with a 15 year enhancement for using a deadly weapon to inflict great bodily injury - the Ketamine filled syringe. The second 4 year term for unlawful penetration will be served consecutive to the 19 year term.

Santa Barbara Judge Rick Brown also ordered Steven Neff, who admitted attacking women and injecting them with Ketamine, to register as a sex offender and pay restitution. Judge Brown said that the attacks were calculated and sophisticated, and his actions showed “callous disregard for the victims,” who experienced “sheer terror.”

Neff's own words on paper and on the witness stand convicted him, as he wrote supposedly fictional stories about a guy who would inject women hotel guests with Ketamine, steal their belongings and money, and use the proceeds to go on a surfing and snowboarding trip. Prosecutors were able to bring evidence against Neff in the form of diary entries stating that he wanted to spy on, then rape a former girlfriend, and how he used to inject his ex-girlfriend with Ketamine around once a week during the course of their 1 1/2 year relationship, having sex with her while she was unconscious.

The first victim—then a 22-year-old UCSB student—was jogging on Haskell’s Beach when Neff grabbed her from behind, pinned her down, and injected her with Ketamine. Neff testified that while he had her down, he masturbated through his shorts. A small bit of his DNA was later found on her jogging shorts. The woman, who went in and out of consciousness during the attack, didn’t remember if she had been sexually assaulted. Neff denied sexually assaulting her, though he admitted to being more “sexually charged” because he was on drugs. Follow-up exams were inconclusive.

The more gruesome allegation came from a former co-worker of Neff’s who alleged she had been at Neff’s home, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, when he came up from behind where she was sitting on a couch and she felt a prick in her neck. She soon lost her ability to function but was partially consciousness. At some point she remembered Neff inserting an enema into her and losing control of her bowels. She felt him smearing something on her face as well as his, she told the jury when she took the stand, and she believed it to be her own excrement.

Neff also admitted to attacking a French tourist on a Santa Barbara beach and a woman who was skiing on a mountain in Mammoth. Those attacks, however, were not prosecuted because the statute of limitations had passed.

The prosecutor [Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen] ran into statute of limitation-related problems at the end of Neff’s first trial, which resulted in Neff’s conviction on the exact same charges. Neff originally faced more serious felony charges of unlawful penetration with a foreign object but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on those charges. Five days into deliberations in the first trial, the jury received new instructions detailing the option of finding Neff guilty of lesser offenses.

Zonen, in court papers, said he hadn’t asked the judge to issue instructions on lesser offenses, as he thought those charges fell outside the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations generally allows a longer time to file charges for more serious offenses. After the jury found Neff guilty of the lesser charges, the public defender filed a motion for a retrial, which was granted by the judge. Zonen then re-filed charges but this time only for the lesser charges.

Neff, who claimed at his sentencing to have a “broken heart and a contrite spirit,”  hoped that the journals and short stories would help sex offender treatment providers help others “who have my problems.” Neff also apolgized to his family and community. He faces more charges.

CSA - the elephant in the bedroom for adult relationships

The biggest hidden issue in adult romantic or sexual relationships, in my opinion, is child sexual abuse (CSA). Since a third of women and a sixth of men have been sexually victimized in childhood, it stands to reason that the effects of the victimization will carry on to the adult relationships that survivors have. This leads to physical problems like painful sex, and when a true partner (someone who is a peer) has sex with the CSA survivor, that sex can trigger the original abuse - leaving the partner in the position of revictimizing the survivor.

Another problem in adult relationships is the confusion of sex with love. This means that the woman (or man) will become sexually active because she believes that the sex partners she encounters love her, when in fact, they are using her in a similar manner as the original perpetrator used her during childhood.

If the CSA victim was abused by a member of the same sex, then this may lead to sexual identity confusion. Issues associated with adult aftereffects of male-on-male sexual abuse are explored here. Issues regarding woman on woman abuse are tackled in the book "The Last Secret - Daughters Sexually Abused By Mothers" by Bobbie Rosencrans.

If a woman (or man) hasn't gotten over earlier sexual abuse, can there be so much damage as to preclude the possibility of a consensual relationship? According to some researchers, this may be the case. Zurbriggen and Freyd (2003) said that if "consensual sex decision mechanisms" are damaged, then there cannot be consensual sex, even though coercion may not be involved. Damaged Consensual Sex Decision Mechanisms, according to Zurbriggen and Freyd, are "inaccurate beliefs, unhealthy cognitions about the self, a lack of access to one's internal affective state, and the presence of risk seeking decision rules."

Minimization of CSA's impact on adult sexual relationships is widespread. The damage of CSA does not stop with the victim reaching adulthood. According to these statistics, CSA survivors have a 60% chance of sexual revictimization in adulthood, and a 49% chance of being a DV victim. A 1998 study by Koss & Dinero stated that 2/3's of adult rape victims have a CSA history, as contrasted with 20% of the women without an adult vicitmization history.

Child molesters not only groom their victims for sexual abuse, but "pre-groom" their victims for adult victimization. Perpetrators who target victims of any age know prey from a distance. Suceptibility to revictimization takes place for reasons outlines in the link above. According to this survivor, the predators who take advantage of the CSA victim in adulthood are doing so from a position of power in the same manner as the original child molester did.

Predators seek power and control over their victim. “Power- The ability to control the behavior of others even against their will.” (Sociology Fourth Edition 1990)

Predators will use any means to dominate their victim. Most children lack the intelligence and physical strength to combat an adult predator. Trickery, praise, isolation, threats, pain, torture, blackmail are only a few means of control. And some adults lack the ability to combat a predator, especially if the adult was a victim as a child. An adult victim can become trapped and helpless just like a child.) And may revert back to their known survival tactics of the child victim.

A predator will physically attack a victim but a predator will also emotionally attack the victim and everyone else. Emotional attacks are very deceptive in nature and are done in full sight of everyone. It is the cooing, sweetness, complementary, smiling, showing great concern for others, or paying oh so special attention to others or to a certain person.

Predators display such warmth and speak loving kindness to their victim(s). And will display enthusiastic interest in their victim’s job, hobbies, field of study, or any interest of the victim; the predator will also be enthralled with the same thing(s).

In short, CSA can leave victims vulnerable to what could best be seen as adult sexual predation. Adult sexual predation, as explained above, and adult grooming serve the exact same purpose as child molestation - power and control over a victim. Adults who victimize other adults seek to entangle them in relationships which should never be though of as anything but an extension of CSA dynamics into adulthood.

Child sexual abuse can lead to many issues with trust, trustworthiness, and revictimization not just as children or teens, but also as adults. These detrimental effects are yet another in a string of reasons why child sexual abuse must be countered.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

15 year old Muskegon boy sentenced to 20-57 years for rape of 19 year old woman

15 year old Teddius Patterson, of Muskegon, MI, was sentenced to a term of 20 to 57 years today for the burglary and rape of a 19 year old woman last summer. Patterson, who had an extensive juvenile criminal record, was 14 at the time of the rape and burglary. He was found guilty by a judge in a bench trial earlier this month.

Patterson's sentence breaks down as follows - 18 to 55 years for 1st degree criminal sexual conduct; 8 to 20 years for 1st degree home invasion; 2 to 5 years for firearm theft, and a year each for two firearm posession counts. All sentences except the firearm posession counts will be served concurrently.

The attack happened the night of June 22 in the Margaret Street apartment of a 19-year-old woman. Patterson was 14 at the time, out on bond facing juvenile charges for an earlier break-in of an elderly woman’s home while she slept. He already had a record of juvenile convictions for arson and possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.

In testimony at Patterson’s trial and at an earlier probable-cause hearing, the victim told of being sexually groped by a young stranger she confronted in her apartment — then trying to shoot him dead with her husband’s loaded handgun, only to have the invader wrest the gun away and point it at her, repeating the sexual assault with his hand.

Patterson’s 48-year-old mother, who has spent much of her son’s life in prison for drug offenses and felonious assault and was most recently released in March 2008, wrote a letter to the judge pleading for mercy for Teddius and taking the blame on herself for his bad conduct. The boy was raised by his grandparents.

Senior Assistant Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson asked for a long sentence for Patterson, citing the lack of remorse and that Patterson believed his confession was a lie. The attack, according to Hilson, was “an extremely traumatic event (for the victim). ... Every sound that happens in her home (now) causes her concern. Not only was the security of her home violated, but her own personal body was violated. It is only by the grace of God that she is not dead today."

14th Circuit Judge William C. Marietti said about the attack, “(This) is probably every woman’s nightmare...It leaves a very, very bad taste in this community’s mouth, a very bad taste in my mouth. This is devastating to this community, and particularly devastating to the victim." Because of previous felony convictions, "at some point I have to shift my focus from rehabilitating you ... to protecting the community."

Kansas AG - Domestic violence a growing problem in state

By Steve Six

For most families, the holidays are a time to be thankful and share time together. Unfortunately, for some Kansas families this time of year can bring stress, anger and even violence.

It is absolutely critical that we raise awareness about the programs and services available to families in crisis. Many communities have shelters dedicated to protecting women, men and children from abusive family members. Some also have services to assist batterers in stopping abusive behavior and violence.

Significant efforts have been made in recent years to combat the ever-present problem of domestic abuse. My office stepped up efforts to help local shelters that assist families in crisis situations by increasing training for local programs, providing grant funding and improving services available to victims.

We also created the Domestic Violence Shelter Improvement Program, which encourages businesses and corporations to support domestic violence shelters across the state through monetary or in-kind contributions. Along with Walmart, we also developed an awareness campaign and distributed posters containing information about domestic violence services and prevention.

Recently, I established the Batterer Intervention Unit and Advisory Board, to develop effective batterer intervention programs throughout the state. We believe that developing these programs is a critical step toward improving our statewide response to domestic violence and better addressing a batterer's cycle of abuse.

My office also coordinated the development of the law enforcement model policy on stalking to better protect victims. We provided regional law enforcement training across the state regarding the new stalking law to ensure uniform response to these serious crimes.

With efforts being made on all sides of the problem, it is troubling that fatalities related to domestic violence are increasing. With economic stress and financial pressure, many more families may be in crisis. It is critical that each of us works to ensure that families in our communities have access to quality services. Domestic violence affects all Kansas communities.

With two major multiple homicides this year, the number of fatalities related to domestic violence is on the rise. If you or someone you know is struggling with abuse, please seek assistance from law enforcement or a domestic violence program. You can contact 888-END-ABUSE for assistance. You have a right to be safe.

To find out more about services available in your community, call the Attorney General's Victim Service Division at 800-828-9745.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Judge rejects plea agreement between victim and ex-"girlfriend"

A man whose potential maximum sentence went from 20 to 2 years had his plea agreement rejected by Allen County Superior Court Judge Fran Gull after his victim, his ex-girlfriend, said that the agreement prevented her from getting justice in the case. 31 year old Chad Reuille broke into his "girlfriend" K.P.'s Fort Wayne, IN home and allegedly raped her at knifepoint last July. Reuille was originally charged with rape, but pled guilty to residential entry and invasion of privacy.

Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Stacey Speith said that text messages suggested that the attack made it hard to convict on a charge of rape, but the victim said that the statement was taken out of context.

According to both Speith and [K.P.], at some point after the alleged July attack in her home, Parrish sent Reuille’s sister a text message. The message was in response to questioning about why she hadn’t reported Reuille for alleged abuse earlier.

To which [K.P.] responded that Reuille “never used a knife.” While prosecutors might have believed that statement could indicate to the jury that [K.P.] changed her story, [she] said the text was taken out of context. “I meant he’d never used a knife before,” she said.

The victim said that “I don’t think he should just be able to be out,” Parrish said during the hearing. “I’m scared. I don’t understand this offer.” Judge Gull will sentence Reuille at a later date, to give both the prosecution and defense a chance to make a new plea agreement.

Restaraunt employee who raped 20 year old coworker sentenced to 6 years

A rapist who attacked his coworker was formally sentenced to 6 years in prison Thursday, December 17 by Otero County, NM Judge Sandra A. Grisham. Valente A. Hernandez Jr, 21, was sentenced to three years consecutively for two counts of criminal sexual penetration of a co worker on December 1, 2008. He was found guilty by an Otero County jury on November 19, 2009 on both counts.

Hernandez also will have to register as a sex offender, pay a $5000 fine, $100 in fees, and spend between 5 and 20 years on probation after serving at least 85% of his sentence. Judge Grisham recommended that the perp serve his sentence in a Las Vegas, NM prison where there is a sex offender treatmen program, and "take advantage of the therapeutic community program" offered there.

According to testimony during the trial, the victim saw Hernandez before getting a ride home from work by her male roommate on Nov. 30, 2008. Hernandez, the victim and the victim's roommate were coworkers at the same Alamogordo restaurant. The victim invited Hernandez over to her residence after speaking to him before leaving work late on Nov. 30, 2008.

During testimony in the two-day trial, the victim had admitted to Alamogordo Department of Public Safety detectives she had started drinking alcoholic beverages after arriving home.

The victim's roommate's girlfriend arrived a short time later, then her roommate went to his bedroom to go to sleep. Around 3 a.m. Dec. 1, 2008, Hernandez and another man arrived at the residence with their own alcoholic beverages. The man and victim continued to drink while Hernandez, the victim and man talked in the living room.

The man, who is a friend of Hernandez, left a short time later after drinking and talking in the living room with the victim and Hernandez. The victim said she passed out on the living room floor but woke up to find herself being assaulted by Hernandez.

Deputy District Attorney Peter Burns and Assistant District Attorney James Cowan, prosecuting, stated that "It is apparent Judge Grisham gave this a lot of thought. During the allocution, the court was very attentive and understood what the victim was asking for. And the court made an appropriate ruling."

Hernandez said before sentencing, "This night it happened I wasn't all there. I thought she consented to it. I am sorry for what happened. I am sorry to (the victim). I will have to live with this the rest of my life as will (the victim)."

Judge Grisham believed, even after meting out the 6 year sentence, that he was still minimizing his crimes."You are sorry for what happened and not sorry for what you did," she said.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

40 to 50 years for Daykin, NE man for choking wife to death

A man who overreacted to his wife's abuse was sentenced to a term of 40-50 years in prison by District Judge Paul Merritt Jr. Wednesday, December 23. 49-year-old Mark Ziemann said that "I know it was wrong. I'll regret it for the rest of my life."

Ziemann pled no contest to 2nd degree murder on October 2, 2009 under District Judge Paul Merritt Jr.

In the courtroom, Deputy County Attorney Amy Jacobsen said friends of Rhapsody Ziemann's reported her missing Dec. 13, 2007, after she asked them to watch her daughter, Daniella, the night of Dec. 10. She never returned to pick her up. Lincoln police searched her apartment at 3341 Holdrege St., where they now believe her husband killed her. A sheet was missing from the bed, along with her purse.

Investigators called her husband, who said he hadn't been to the apartment until he was told his wife was missing Dec. 13. He said he was with his brother. But his alibi quickly fell apart. His brother, Brent Ziemann, called investigators to say he wasn't with Mark - but was told to lie and say he was, Jacobsen said.

Brent Ziemann also said his brother told him he'd killed his wife and taken her body to his trailer house in Jefferson County, she said. Police found her body there Dec. 15, 2007, with blood on her mouth and marks around her neck. She had died of blunt force trauma to her head and asphyxia by manual strangulation.

Jacobsen said Ziemann asked an aunt to store a bag of things. When she turned it over to police, they found a bloody sheet, Rhapsody's purse and other items. She said police also obtained a note Ziemann left for his brother explaining what happened: When he kissed his wife, she bit his lip. Then "my fingers clenched around her throat for two agonizing minutes," Jacobsen said he wrote.

Ziemann's defense attorney Stuart Dornan said "Mr. Ziemann did a very bad thing under extraordinary circumstances," but that he wasn't a bad man. He went on to talk about how his client had struggled with Asperger's disorder, but managed to get through college and become a law abiding citizen.

Because Ziemann had suffered from extreme stress and potential harm from his wife, his client reacted in an "animalistic fashion." Two of Ziemann's supporters said that he "was used, abused, and didn't have sense to know it." and that the wife may have had his hands on the knife.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Joe Kelly said he didn't think that [the 20 year term asked for by the defense]was sufficient. Despite what his family and friends thought of Rhapsody, Kelly said, Ziemann seemed to have a sincere love for her. He didn't think he was exploited or mentally abused, as they told the judge they did.

Kelly asked District Judge Paul Merritt to focus on the difference in size between Ziemann, a tall man, and his wife, barely 5 feet tall. "He could have done things short of killing her to force her to release her grip. One kick, one hit, one slap would have taken care of the situation," he said. But Ziemann held her throat, even after she let go, and he killed her. Could the same thing happen again, Kelly asked. Probably not, he conceded. But maybe a road rage could. "We're not convinced that he has much insight into the act," he said.

Judge Merritt said that the circumstances in the leadup to the murder suggested that more had happened than just the defendant's version of the story. "I do believe he was in pain when he reacted, but he obviously overreacted," he said.

Rhapsody's cousin Rey Pacuno said that "We just really want justice for this. After two years, we have a response from the court. ... Let God decide the other."

Father compensated £8,100 for detective work leading to conviction of son-in-law for daughter's death

Last updated at 1:56 AM on 24th December 2009

A man who carried out his own investigation to prove his daughter was murdered by her husband has been given £8,000 for his efforts. Retired college lecturer Bert Whitehead, 83, spent six years proving his daughter Anita Stead's death was not an accident.  She was 39 when she died in 2002.

Her husband Alan Stead locked the mother-of-four in a computer room inside their garage before starting the fire. He claimed the fire was an accident caused by an electrical fault. Mr Whitehead collected witness statements that led to his son-in-law being convicted of murder.

"I had to keep fighting to the bitter end to get justice for Anita,' he said yesterday. 'It is what any father would do. My family has lost forever a beautiful daughter, joyful, well-educated, well-informed and wonderful mother."

Delivery driver Stead, 43, was jailed for life at Stafford Crown Court in February. A judge this week awarded Mr Whitehead £8,098 "to compensate him in respect of his expenses and loss of time."

Mr Whitehead said: "I wasn't allowed in court, but I sent all the information I had to the judge, and he agreed with me. This isn't a reward or profit or anything. It simply amounts to the effort I had to put in, in order to achieve my objectives. For two years and 10 months I was on my own, against a bureaucratic wall, and in the end the only person who listened to me was the coroner."

Judge Mark Eades told Stafford Crown Court: 'Under my powers, I find, as a fact, that Mr Whitehead has been active in the apprehension of the defendant and is therefore eligible to receive a reasonable sum to compensate him in respect of his expenses and loss of time. "In respect of what he has done to effect the apprehension of the defendant, he should receive £8,098, paid by the High Sheriff of Staffordshire."

Life without parole for murder of estranged wife, friend by estranged husband

A man who shot his estranged wife and her friend was sentenced to life without parole in a Humboldt County, Iowa courtroom on Monday, December 21. Kyle Deemer, 29, was sentenced to two consecutive life without parole sentences for the shotgun slayings of Jessica Deemer and Bryce Mercer. Judge Baker said that Kyle made a series of decisions to kill the couple, and he thought that "You seem to be convinced that what you did was justified."

Deemer followed his wife and Mercer from Des Moines to a point north of Marshalltown on Highway 14. Jessica and Mercer were going to Mercer's family reunion in Gladbrook for the weekend. On Highway 14, Deemer forced them off the road with his vehicle, then shot both of them. The judge described how Deemer had to expel the expended shell and re-load after shooting Mercer, before he could shoot Jessica.

This was Judge Baker's rationale for making the murder sentences consecutive instead of concurrent. Jessica's sister, Jamie Luedke, said that "I despise you, Kyle, for so many reasons. I hope you will experience the same sadness and suffering every day of your life."
Her father, Kevin Luedtke, asked this question of the killer. "Kyle, after all this family has done [for] you, I cannot understand why you would return the favor with such cruelty. What on Earth did you have to gain by killing Jessica?" After the sentencing, he went on to say that "As of this day forward, Kyle Deemer ceases to exist for our entire family. If you're lucky, you'll never see Ty again," Kevin said. "But don't be surprised, when he's an adult, if he looks you up and says, 'How could you do this to me?'"
Ty is the Deemer's 6 year old son who is being raised by the victim's relatives.

Meredith Kercher killer Guede gets sentence reduced

By Ariel David in Rome, AP

But after four hours of deliberations, the eight-member jury upheld the conviction of of Rudy Hermann Guede on charges of murder and sexual violence. Guede, who is from Ivory Coast, was sentenced to 30 years last year after requesting a fast-track trial, but denies killing the British student.

The two others who were convicted earlier this month of her killing are Amanda Knox, the US student who was the victim's roommate in Perugia, and Raffaele Sollecito, Knox's boyfriend at the time. Knox and Sollecito both deny wrongdoing and are expected to appeal against their convictions. They were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively.

Kercher, a student at Leeds University, was killed in November 2007. Guede, who was arrested in Germany shortly after the killing, has admitted he was at the scene of the crime on the night of the murder, but said that he did not kill Kercher.

Guede was in court yesterday when the verdict was delivered and told reporters afterwards: "I am not happy because I am innocent."

The Kerchers' family lawyer Francesco Maresca said he was satisfied that Guede was found guilty but was "surprised" the sentence was almost halved. He added that the ruling recognised some extenuating circumstances for Guede. The court is expected to give its reasons for the decision within 90 days.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Loophole in Oregon DV laws leave victims unprotected after sentence completion

Maxine Bernstein
(AP) — PORTLAND, Ore. - Ten years after she survived a brutal beating by her husband who struck her repeatedly in the head with what police suspect was a crowbar, Erika Belka is scrambling to put together a safety plan.

John Belka, now 52, served seven years in prison for attempted murder, followed by three years parole. Under a plea deal, the state agreed not to bring additional charges involving suspected sexual misconduct with his children.

Parole officers kept close watch on Belka the past three years with stringent conditions: sex-offender treatment and regular polygraph tests; orders to not contact his wife, their seven children, his sister, sister-in-law or any minors; and an electronic bracelet with a GPS system that tracked his whereabouts with directives not to travel to Portland's east side except to see his parole officer.

On Dec. 7, Belka completed his parole, and the conditions, treatments and tracking systems are gone.

Oregon has no other way to protect victims, unlike neighbor Washington state, which offers criminal no-contact orders that can extend after an offender's sentence and parole are completed. And, unlike many states, Oregon places a restriction of six months from the time the violence or a threat occurred to the time the victim can petition for a civil restraining order, unless the person was in jail or out of state.
In Belka's case, neither applies because he's been on parole for three years, living in Portland. His ex-wife would have had to get the restraining order immediately when Belka was released from jail and renew it annually.

"When the supervision ends, it sometimes leaves people out there without any protections," said Kim Hirota, Belka's parole officer. "If I were in her place, I'd be worried right now. There doesn't seem like there's a lot we can do legally for her."

Washington state does have criminal no-contact protection. In fact, it's perhaps the most expansive of any in the nation, said Doug Miles, a former Colorado prosecutor who now is an advisor to the Washington, D.C.-based AEquitas: The Prosecutor's Resource on Violence Against Women. There, judges routinely order domestic violence defendants to have no contact with their victims, usually for the duration of the crime's maximum penalty, even if the person convicted doesn't serve that long.

If Belka had been convicted of attempted murder in Seattle, for example, he'd be ordered to have no contact with his ex-wife the rest of his life because attempted murder carries a maximum of life in prison. If he did contact her, he'd face criminal sanctions, initially a misdemeanor that would rise to a felony after multiple violations.

"The reason we ask for no-contact orders here is because we want to provide every protection for victims that we can," said David Martin, King County senior deputy prosecuting attorney who oversees domestic violence cases. "I think it's pretty basic."

Christine Herrman, a former King County prosecutor who now directs Oregon's Sexual Assault Task Force; Multnomah County domestic violence coordinator Chiquita Rollins; and Rod Underhill, a Multnomah County chief deputy district attorney, all say the Belka case shows a gap in legal protections that Oregon should fix.

Herrman said seeking more protection for victims after defendants have completed their parole is something the Oregon Legislative Alliance to End Violence Against Women will consider in the 2010 special or 2011 regular legislative session. "I do think there's a hole," Herrman said. "I don't think many of us would expect to have the unwelcome surprise of running into our offender, especially after clearly surviving such a horrendous attack."

About 5:30 a.m. April 16, 1999, paramedics found Erika Belka on her back along the driveway of her Northeast Portland home, bleeding heavily. Her husband was shirtless, kneeling beside her, blood on his mouth and arms. Belka told police he suspected his wife interrupted a burglary while she was on the porch praying. The couple were active in New Song Community Church.

Police determined that Erika Belka, who counseled church women, had kept mum about serious problems in her own home. The day before the assault, though, she confided to a friend concerns that her husband had blown her inheritance and wasn't paying the bills, and she learned he hadn't been telling her when her sister called.

Doctors initially said she had a 20 percent chance of survival, with nearly 1,000 skull fractures and bruising on the left side of her brain. The prognosis improved, yet John Belka seemed to keep pressing for a do-not-resuscitate order, police records show. Detectives arrested him June 11, 1999. By January 2000, he pleaded no contest to attempted murder, and the state agreed not to pursue sexual abuse allegations made by his children.

The plea deal meant the state could monitor him heavily during his parole but couldn't register him as a sex offender or alert the public upon his release. A community alert, drafted in 2006 but not publicized, described Belka's method of offending: gains access to minors by placing himself in a position of responsibility over them, has joined religious congregations to gain access to potential victims. "My biggest concern is that because of the plea bargain and how he was charged, the community can't be warned," said his sister, Lynn Siva-Wentzel.

Erika Belka's older sister became her legal guardian the past 10 years and handled her medical and health needs, legal and financial matters. The Belkas' seven children-six of whom they had adopted-were placed in foster care; one was adopted. All but one are now adults.

Erika Belka, now 55, has made a slow but remarkable recovery, lives independently and volunteers. She's had numerous surgeries to relieve pressure in her skull, including one earlier this year. She still has a brain shunt and plates in her head, suffers hearing and vision loss, headaches, seizures, significant short-term memory loss, vertigo and cognitive impairment. Belka, her sister and John's sister recently met with his parole officer to plan for their safety. Police have flagged their addresses. If problems arise, the county's Domestic Violence Reduction Unit is to be alerted.

John Belka says he lives with what he's done. He says he's not going to contact his ex-wife or children and just wants to keep his job of three years, dispatching for a trucking company. He said he wouldn't have minded a no-contact order post parole. "I recognize what I did was wrong. It was evil. I bear all the responsibility, and I own that every single day," he said. "My responsibility is to stay away because I've hurt everybody so bad."

Domestic violence experts and prosecutors say tweaks in the law or new statutes might be warranted. Underhill wasn't aware of Washington's criminal no-contact law but thinks it bears looking at. Defense lawyers, however, may object to post-parole court orders. "I understand the logic behind it, but you have to balance that against someone's constitutional rights," said Jon Martz, a Portland criminal defense lawyer.

Other states also allow longer durations for civil protective orders, including Washington and Colorado, where they may be permanent.Rollins said it might be easier to tweak the existing civil restraining order law in Oregon, adding a clause that would allow domestic violence victims to obtain them within six months of the completion of an offender's parole or probation.

Other states, including Washington and California, can grant permanent civil protective orders. In Oregon, there was a trade-off-making it easier for victims to obtain the civil orders without a hearing at which they'd have to face their offender, while requiring victims to renew them annually.

Belka's parole officer is frustrated. "He had all these conditions, and the people in this situation don't want contact with him," she said. "Now, he's just free to do what he wants." While John Belka's sentence may be up, Erika Belka's will never be lifted. "I think one of the things that hit home to me" Hirota said, "is when she said, 'You know, I'll never be done with this."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Michigan man sentenced to life without parole in shotgun murder of wife

Calhoun Couty Circuit Judge Conrad Sindt sentenced a man who murdered his wife to life without parole in a Branch County, MI courtroom Friday, December 18. 40 year old Thomas Foley was sentenced to the mandatory life without parole sentence for the shotgun murder of Dee Dee Foley, 41 on February 7, 2009.

Foley was convicted by a jury the day after Thanksgiving of shooting and killing his wife in the shower in their rural farmhouse while the couple's son and a friend played outside. Police speculate that Foley used a 12-gauge shotgun he took months before from the home of his brother-in-law.

Prosecutors told the jury he killed Dee Dee Foley, a Union City teacher, about 3 p.m., and only two hours before the family was to celebrate their son's 10th birthday at a party at the home of friends.

When Dee Dee Foley didn't arrive at the party, Tom Foley returned to the home and called police about 5:20 p.m. and said he found her dead. A month later Michigan State Police arrested Foley and he was found guilty after a three-week trial in Coldwater.

Before the sentencing, Calhoun Couty Circuit Judge Conrad Sindt, who presided over the trial, agreed to conduct a hearing after defense attorney J. Thomas Schaeffer said a woman came forward the day after the verdict and said she saw a car with a young man driving leaving the Foley driveway about 4:45 p.m. the day of the murder. A couple testified for the defense at trial they passed the house about 4 p.m. and also saw a white car leaving.

Prosecutor Terri Norris argued against Schaeffer's motion for a new trial and said the new witness is just cumulative and should not be heard. But while Sindt would not dismiss the jury verdict, he said the new witness should be examined under oath as part of Schaeffer's motion for a new trial.

Foley said about his wife, "I love her with all my heart and I never tried to hurt her. She is my best friend. There was no way, no way in hell, no way in heaven that I did this to her. I looked for justice in this trial and I didn't find it. I just want the person who did this to her to be found. There is no way I planned to kill my best friend, the mother of my child."

However, Marilyn Shiery, the victim's mother (and perpetrator's mother-in-law) said that "God and the world, including this family, would have forgiven you your affairs, your ending your marriage, you desire to move but do not ever ask for forgiveness for this hideous murder and the aftermath you and you alone created. There is no forgiveness."
She also made this statement prior to Foley's sentencing.
  We can now believe you were not only not in love with Dar, but were never in love with anyone including yours and Dar's son. We also now know you were and are in love with only yourself and your selfish wants. Now when your son says, 'Grandma, I think my Dad killed my mom and he did it when he sent us outdoors, but I don't know why,' I will be able to truthfully answer him 'Because he wanted everything your mother stood for, he just didn't want her in the picture. You were devious, misleading, zealously hiding your dark side and deluded enough to think you could get away with murdering her. You took her father's gun from her brother's home to kill his sister.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Former police chief sentenced to year in federal prison for breaking restraining order

By Mashaun D. Simon  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A man whose job it was to ‘serve and protect’ has been sentenced to serve a year in federal prison. Dennis Lamar Thomas, 50, of Jefferson served as a former Assistant Police Chief with the Jefferson Police Department. He was arrested over a year ago when he violated a state restraining order filed against him by his estranged wife. He went to see her at his son’s home. When police arrived they found a crack pipe, a loaded .38 caliber gun and a hand grenade in his possession.

In addition to his one year sentence, Thomas, who pleaded guilty in August, will also serve three years of supervised release, and was fined $3,000.

19 year old barred from dating without permission for auto, gun theft with 16 year old girl

On Friday, December 18, an Appleton, WI teen was sentenced to a year in jail and a three year probation term whose conditions include no dating females without permission of the probation agent and no use of social networking sites like Facebook or Myspace. This sentence was handed down by  Outgamie Couty Judge John Des Jardins against 19 year old Jordan Christensen for theft of a firearm, auto theft, and bail jumping.

On May 26, Christensen stole a gun from his foster parents’ residence, stole their car and fled the state with his 16-year-old girlfriend, claiming through a blog posting that they intended to get married. The girl emptied her bank account and stole additional cash and a cell phone from her residence before they left. After a missing and endangered child [Amber] alert was issued the two were picked up in Tennessee by police and returned to Wisconsin.

The bail jumping charge stems from Christensen's attempts to contact the girl through her social networking page after he was released on bond. This ban is part of Christensen's probation, along with his probation officer having to check the suitability of females he dates after he finishes his jail term. “He just creates more trouble for himself," Judge Des Jardins said.

Before he was sentenced, Christensen made a short statement. "I feel sorry towards the families. I realize the trouble we put everyone through. I am taking responsibility. I am guilty."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bagel shop attacker sentenced to 27 3/4 years in prison

A man who molested a 19 year old woman outside a bagel shop and exposed himself to 3 other victims was sentenced to 27 3/4 years behind bars in a New Jersey courtroom Monday, December 14. Andrew Pena, a 42 year old carpenter, attacked the woman in the parking lot of G&A bagels on January 28, 2007. Pena was convicted in 1 hour 15 minutes of aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint and burglary by a jury on August 10, 2009.

The assault occurred at about 3:15 a.m. when the woman waited inside a car parked near the bagel shop as her friends went inside. A man sweeping outside told the woman she couldn’t park there and directed her to the back of the building, where the attack occurred.

The prosecution noted during its case that the victim had picked Pena out of a lineup. It also said a fingerprint from her vehicle was a match to Pena and that a footprint matched his shoe. Pena also had told police he was at the scene and told the woman to move the car, but claimed he had nothing to do with the attack. Rather, he said, police wrongly charged him and never investigated others.

Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Meg Rodriguez, who argued for consecutive sentencing on all five counts, said the Butler attack was an escalation, as Pena had been convicted in Wayne in 2002 and Paramus in 2003 of lewdness for exposing his genitals to two different women in store parking lots.

The victim, in her impact statement told how the attack left her scared, scarred, and unable to drive either alone or at night. "I fear for my life that when the defendant gets out of jail he will find me and seek revenge."

Besides the prison term, Pena will have to pay $3380 in fines and penalties, and will be evaluated at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center to see if he can be treated there.

64 year old woman gets 6 years for "boyfriend's" manslaughter

A 64 year old Salinas, CA woman was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday for smothering her "boyfriend" to death. 66 year old Lynne Nicole Feurer pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter after being originally charged with murder. Her victim was Joseph Francis Cupita, 81, who she had met in a Chicago ballroom in the early 2000s. The couple moved to California in 2004. The presiding judge was California Superior Court Judge Larry Hayes.

On May 28, 2007, police found Cupita's body lodged between his bed and the wall in the couple's Pacific Grove apartment after an intoxicated and tearful Feurer told a newlywed at the London Bridge Pub that she'd just killed her husband.

Forensic pathologist John Hain concluded the frail man was suffocated, likely with a pillow by someone kneeling on his chest. Defensive wounds indicated he fought for his life, and Hain estimated it took minutes for him to die.

Feurer told police she and Cupita were fighting over his refusal to go to his dialysis appointment. She remembered struggling with him, but few details. Prosecutor Elaine McCleaf said the claim was disingenuous, because Feurer had the presence of mind to gather up her medications and passport before she fled.

Defense attorney Bryan Keller had planned to argue at trial that Feurer was a battered woman who acted in self-defense. He said he settled the case only when McCleaf offered manslaughter rather than a life-term murder.

But McCleaf said Feurer's alcoholism poses a danger to society. She cited three previous drunken-driving convictions and an alcohol-related theft conviction.

She argued that Cupita's vulnerability, the "gruesome" manner of his death and Feurer's callousness were all factors that aggravated her crime to the level of a maximum 11-year sentence.

Keller maintained those aggravating circumstances were balanced or overweighed by the mitigating circumstances that Feurer was a battered woman who acted in self-defense. He called for the lower term of three years.

The prosecutor said she made the offer in light of Feurer's positive contributions, community support and alcoholism.

The killer's son, Alex Feurer, said that "I remember Joe and I miss him a lot," he said. "He did many good things for my family, for my mom and me." "It [His mother's alcohol and prescription drug addictions]unfortunately cost Joe his life. But she's finally here. She's a whole person. She's not the same and she has a lot to offer."

Others who spoke at the sentencing included Reiko Hidaka Scott, cupita's ex-girlfriend, who said that "He was just such a nice, sweet, personable person. He really lived his life through his music and making people happy."

In the end, Haye rejected the battered woman defense put forth by Keller, but weighed that against Feuer's contributions and his own experiences caring for a Alzheimer's patient. Since manslaughter is a violent crime, Feurer must serve 85% of her sentence. She was credited with almost three years behind bars.

Canadian Customs strip search woman back from grandmother's funeral - racial profiling suspected

A Ottawa, ON woman of Carribean decent alleges that she was singled out for a strip search by the Canada Border Services Agency (Canadian Customs) because she was a Jamaican born woman. Charmaine Archer, a 42 year old nurses aide at a nursing home, was pulled over with her cousin and 4 year old son by Canadian customs agents as they were headed home from their grandmother's home in Jamaica. The cousin and son were inspected without further incident, but Archer was forced to undergo a strip search.

Agents told Archer, who is a Canadian citizen, she was flagged because she paid for part of her ticket with a credit card, because she booked last minute and because she only stayed for four days.

Agents took what she described as gauze swabs and ran them over her wallet, the lining of her suitcase and even her toothbrush. This took over an hour, Archer said. Her toothbrush, agents said, tested positive for heroin and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Archer said to the agents that “You’re a liar. I don’t do drugs, I don’t know anybody that does drugs, and I wasn’t around drugs when I was in Jamaica … I come from an upstanding family and nobody touched that toothbrush but me.”

Canadian officers told Archer that she would have to undergo a strip search. “I said to her, ‘No way that’s going to happen! My husband don’t know what’s inside my rectum and neither will you.” After the customs agents handcuffed Archer and threatened to take her son away from her, she submitted. Archer describes what happened next.

 I got undressed. There were three women in the room — quite humiliating, quite degrading. I’m a big person, very conscious of my body … you can imagine how I felt. They made me stand up and hold my arm up and they made me lift up my breast. Then she told me to turn around and bend all the way over with my feet wide apart. And then she told me to use my hand and open my rectum.

 They told me to put one foot forward then squat and cough … they told me to lift up my belly and they told me open my feet apart and to pry my legs apart and they looked underneath my crotch. When it was over they asked if I wanted to take a minute to sit down.

This is by no means isolated,” said Ewart Walters, editor of the Spectrum, a monthly newspaper aimed at Ottawa’s black community. “There have been enough incidents over the years of people being picked on.”

He pointed to Leon Stewart, who was held for three hours at the airport in March, 2000. Like Archer, he was strip searched, only Stewart was asked to produce a bowel movement to satisfy customs agents he wasn’t concealing drugs.

“There is an overwhelming number of black people coming from Jamaica who get stopped and asked questions.” Walters said.

Archer's travel agent, Kermit Dougan of Voyages G Travel in Gatineau, PQ, across the river from Ottawa, said that Jamaica is on a list of destinations with a reputation for drug use. Even so, many of his clients, who are black and “not happy about how they’ve been treated,”  have used Toronto's Pearson International Airport, Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau AIrport, and even Syracuse NY's Hancock International Airport to avoid the racial profiling at Ottawa's airport.

Archer says that she is retaining a lawyer since “I want to know what my rights were. I hope no one will ever have to feel the form of degradation that I felt. And that lack of power.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Anchorage man sentenced to 48 years after slashing man to death after sex

A 29 year old man who slashed a man to death during a sexual encounter in Anchorage, AK was sentenced to 48 years in prison Thursday, December 10 by State Superior Court Judge Philip Volland.

Hunter killed Randall Roe, 47, after Roe picked him up on Fourth Avenue early one morning in November 2006. Roe, who had brain damage from a bicycle accident, was high on cocaine and had his own history of trouble. Something went wrong during the encounter, the men struggled, and Hunter pulled out a knife and killed Roe in the cab of Roe's pickup, according to trial testimony.

Hunter testified at both his trials that he acted in self-defense and that he was not himself because he was so intoxicated on malt beer and vodka the morning of the murder. The first jury couldn't reach a verdict. The second jury acquitted him of first-degree murder but convicted him of the lesser second-degree murder charge.

At the sentencing, the defense and prosecution argued over whether Hunter was just intoxicated that night and acting out or if he is a dangerous man with mental health problems who cannot be controlled. Prosecutor John Skidmore asked Volland to send Hunter away for 60 years, saying he was a danger to the community. Defense attorney Paul Maslakowski asked for the minimum 10 years.

One aspect of the trial which helped Judge Volland determine the character and mental state of Hunter was his two hour long statement, read to the courtroom after his conviction. Volland said that the statement told him more about the defendant than the evidence and statements from officials.
That allocution was telling me more about Mr. Hunter than anything else in this case...[It was] a rambling, disjointed discourse largely irrelevant to sentencing in which Mr. Hunter both simultaneously admitted to his various mental health and addiction problems and denied them...This is a man in denial of his problems. This is a man who has some significant cognitive problems. This is a man not completely in touch with his surroundings and the world.

Two rapists sentenced to de facto life terms in New Hanover County courts

Last Thursday, December 10, 2009, two separate rapists were convicted by New Hanover County juries of separate sex and kidnapping crimes against mainly adult victims. Nicholas Lee Lofton, a 28 year old resicent of Rocky Point, NC, was convicted of robbery, two counts of kidnapping, burglary and two counts of assaulting a child under 12 years old, malicious castration, one count of attempted sex offense and two counts of sex offense. Lofton was sentenced to 84-115 years in prison. The second rapist, 51 year old Douglas Job Smith, was sentenced to 94-115 years in prison after convictions of rape, sex offense and kidnapping. The New Hanover County District Attorney's Office prosecuted both cases.

In the Lofton case, a man and woman testified that three men, including Lofton, burst into their bedroom on Oct. 5, 2007 while they slept in a home in the 600 block of Sharease Circle and pointed guns at them. The attackers punched and kicked the man, and burned his neck and genitals with hot pliers, said prosecutor Barrett Temple. The attackers bound the man and his girlfriend, she said. During the attack, all three attackers sexually assaulted the man's girlfriend in front of the man's two young girls, whose eyes were duct-taped, Temple said. “The girls were awake the whole time and aware of what was going on."

The attackers, who were known by their victims, rummaged through the house and grabbed $400 in cash and jewelry. Lofton was caught because the victims knew his voice and saw his face. Temple said that “It was a tough case for us, and we were pleased with the verdict.”

On December 10, 2007, Smith pulled up in his vehicle and offered a 32 year old woman a ride home, but instead of taking her home, he took her to his house, a 8' x 27' camped behind a Castle Hayne business, according to prosecutor Connie Jordan.

When the woman asked to use the bathroom, she couldn't because the room was littered with feces. That's when Smith pulled out a butcher knife and forced her to take off her clothes. He bound her wrists and ankles and duct-taped her mouth before raping and sexually assaulting her over six hours, Jordan said.

It wasn't until workers at the business arrived the following morning that they asked Smith to move his truck because it was parked across several parking spaces. He moved his vehicle and returned to the residence where the woman eventually managed to undo the duct tape on her ankles and run outside to an automotive business where workers contacted 911, Jordan said.

Police found the woman's clothes inside a garbage bag in the camper, and arrested Smith in Columbus County, NC. According to Jordan, “The jury's verdict will really help her attempt to put this behind her more. Not only has she been trying to forget it for two years, I really feel like their verdict is a powerful healing tool for her...This will be with her for the rest of her life. I don't see any way around that. It's a devastating crime. I can't even begin to understand how you cope with this.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Buffalo, NY murderer, rapist sentenced to 40 to life

New York State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller sentenced a murderer and rapist to a 40 years to life sentence Friday, December 11, saying that the attacker would have been condemmed if he had struck in either Texas of Florida.

[46 year old Earl Gill] pleaded guilty Nov. 5 to second-degree murder for the death of Johnson and first-degree rape for attacking a 46-year-old woman in the Travelers Lodge on Main Street on Jan. 8, 2006, punching her in the face when she resisted his advances.

Carter told the judge that if she is alive in 40 years when Gill comes up for parole, she will vigorously oppose his release. Gill, Carter said, "doesn't deserve to ever see freedom."

Gill's lawyer, Kevin W. Spitler, said Gill is "remorseful [and] accepts responsibility" for "his inability to control his addiction to drugs," his motive for the break-in.

After the victim awoke to discover Gill ransacking her house, she was sexually assaulted and choked — a plastic bag affixed over her face with duct tape to ensure her death.

Gill, who had been in custody since his arrest February 18, served two previous stints in the New York prison system. The terms were 3 years between 1987 & 1990 for a sex abuse conviction, and a decade between 1994 and 2004 for a burglary conviction.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tampa Bay area sheriff's deputy sentenced to 5 years for sex assault of motorist

Circuit Judge Wayne S. Timmerman sentenced a former Hillsborough County deputy to 5 years in prison and 10 years of sex offender probation Thursday, December 10. Raymond Choy, 38,  faced 30 years for sexual battery and another 30 years for kidnapping before the plea deal. Choy's attorney, Normal Canella Sr, said that his client's deal was appropriate "in view of the totality of circumstances. My client is pleased and certainly should be pleased by the outcome."

Assistant State Attorney Rita Peters said prosecutors decided to offer the deal after reviewing all the circumstances in the case. Peters said she explained the agreement to the victim.

Authorities say Choy was investigating a hit-and-run when the assault happened on April 1, 2007. He ran the license plate of the car that drove away and went to the owner's home, where he took a woman into custody.

She told investigators that Choy took her to the accident scene and then drove to orange groves in Thonotosassa, telling her she wouldn't be arrested if she cooperated. She immediately called the sheriff's office after Choy took her back home. Investigators took samples from the woman's hair and arm. Choy's DNA matched those swabs.

Choy, a seven-year veteran, was placed on administrative leave before resigning.

The victim, flanked by her boyfriend, said that Choy "ruined my life. As a deputy, he was there to protect and serve. He didn't do that."

Vermont man with girlfriend, wife sentenced to 15-30 years for assaults

A man with a girlfriend and a wife living with him was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in a Vermont prison Wednesday, December 9 for physically, emotionally, and sexually abusing them at their Williston, VT home. Judge Michael Kupersmith sentenced Kaseem Smith in Vermont District Court in Burlington after a plea aggreement in which sex assault charges were dropped in exchange for guilty pleas to two aggravated domestic assault charges.

The charges which lead to the assault charges were two instances in 2007 where Smith hit his "girlfriend" with a walking stick until it broke, and hitting her with hand weights. After that incident, the "girlfriend" fled the house, assisted by her employer and the women's advocacy group Women Helping Battered Women.

Other instances against both women included forcing or coercing the women to either fight or have sex with each other while he watched, having the girlfriend eat her contacts as punishment for disobeying him, and putting a gun in his wife's mouth and telling her not to move because the safety wasn't on.

"You just took whatever happened and hoped it would end soon," said the "girlfriend." The wife said that "You had to do everything Kaseen said to do, otherwise, you were looking for a beating."

Smith, 34, once hosted a show called "KA Live," which aired weekly on Channel 15, a community access channel in Burlington. He is also a former coach for youth football in Essex and youth recreational basketball in Williston.

Smith's lawyers argued that neither woman ever sought medical help as a result of injuries allegedly inflicted by Smith. The two women conceded under questioning that Smith never abused any of their children and was well liked by the kids he coached.

The lawyers also questioned the veracity of some of what the women said Smith did. "A lot of the allegations are easily made, but difficult to disprove," Bill Skiff, one of Smith's lawyers, told Kupersmith.

Smith, in a brief statement just before Kupersmith sentenced him, apologized to his estranged wife and the ex-girlfriend for his conduct. "I'd like to say I'm sorry for the mental and physical anguish I caused the ladies and the kids," he said. "But I'm a peaceful guy now."

Chittenden County Deputy State's Attorney Rosemary Gretkowski said that "Anything less than this sentence would demean the severity and the atrocity of this abuse."

To his credit, Judge Kupersmith said that "Mr. Smith is a chronic batterer and abuser. I consider him to be a major danger to the community... What I have heard is credible evidence of years and years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse perpetrated on two women."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Baseball bat attacker of woman, child sentenced to 40 years behind bars

A man who beat his "girlfriend" and her son, leaving the woman's mother as her grandson's guardian and her daughter's caregiver was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday, December 3, in an Alachua County, FL courtroom. Daniel Steven Fucci, 46, was sentenced for the baseball bat attack on Debra Charlene Wyrosdick, 45, and her son Andrew, 7, leaving them both in a pool of blood.

Earlier, Fucci plead guilty to attempted murder, aggravated child abuse, and felony fleeing. He plead to , in his words, spare the child from having to testify in a jury trial. Fucci also atempted to justify his attack on the woman and her child, saying that "It was 50-50. She attacked me and I fought back," Fucci told Judge James Nilon. "We'd both been drinking a lot and arguing. I had no intention of hurting her - I was trying to get the knife away from her."

When an ambulance crew arrived, they reported finding Wyrosdick unconscious on the floor with Andrew on top of her and both appeared to be dying in the kitchen that was covered in blood.

Wyrosdick's mother, Ruby Wyrosdick, who is now Debra's caretaker and guardian of her son, testified that Debra received massive brain injuries and "still needs more therapy than we can afford. She will likely need assistance for the rest of her life."

Ruby Wyrosdick also said that her daughter remained in a coma until late 2008 and then spent about 10 months in an assisted living facility before moving in with Ruby. "Half of her head appears caved in," Ruby Wyrosdick said.

Fucci claimed that he still "loves" his victim, saying that "I would be her slave for life because I still love her," Fucci said. "I accidentally hit her in the head. It was self-defense. I was trying to stop her from coming at me with a knife." Judge Nilon said that the baseball bat injuries were too forceful to be self-defense, and that Fucci's behavior pattern was entrenched for 10 years, and he was "certainly old enough to have sought and received help for this pattern of behavior."

Among the other factors that Nilon said he considered before sentencing Fucci was a pre-sentence investigation showing that Fucci had a long history of violent behavior and statements from two of Fucci's sisters who asked for leniency.

The sisters told Nilon that Fucci had been physically, mentally and sexually abused by another of their brothers while they were growing up and that Fucci had a history of getting involved with damaged women who drew him into their dramas.

Psychologist Dr. Harry Krop testified that he had examined Fucci three times since the crimes and determined that Fucci abused alcohol, has a personality disorder with narcissistic and obsessive traits, had indicators of bipolar disorder and that there were apparent features of post traumatic stress disorder.

Because all inmates must serve at least 85% of their prison sentences, Fucci will serve at least 34 years and will be 80 when he gets out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Woman's murderous "boyfriend" sentenced to life without parole

A man who choked his "girlfriend" to death because she was seeing her ex was sentenced to life without parole yesterday in a Tallahassee, FL courtroom. Thirty-six year old Terrell Lee Robinson plead guilty to the 1st degree murder of pregnant 25 year old Elisabeth Killam in a Tallahassee, FL apartment on September 23. The choking took 5 to 6 minutes, according to Robinson's police statement. When she tried to scream, Robinson stuffed napkins in Killiam's mouth. Robinson took medicine to commit suicide, but was found semiconscious.

The victim's family members attended Robinson's sentencing, which was to a mandatory life without parole sentence. “I often have to beg God to take the image of Elisabeth out of my mind. The pain of that knowledge is debilitating,” said Killiam's sister.

“What we fervently hope is that Terrell Robinson will not be allowed out of prison again,” Barbara Killam told Circuit Judge Terry Lewis in speaking on behalf of her daughter. “Now we live in a constant state of struggle to try to grasp that she is gone. We have lost our joy in life.”

David Killam, told Lewis that if his daughter were alive today, “she would tell you in no uncertain terms that justice has not been served.”

Robinson plead guilty to the murder to avoid facing a possible death penalty. According to Assistant State Attorney Jack Campbell, the 2 1/2 months between the crime and sentencing was “the fastest resolution in a first-degree murder case (he’d) ever heard of.”

Robinson's reason for pleading guilty against his public defender's advice was “I’d like to get on with it. Nobody needs to be run through the mud. Every time we go through this, her body continues to be drug through the grave.”

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Canada commerorates 20th anniversary of Montreal Massacre

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, which led to greater recognition of violence against women in Canadian society. Commerations of the event were held all across Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement it is important for Canadians to remain committed to eliminating violence against women.

"On Dec. 6, 1989, 14 bright, talented, young women were murdered at l'Ecole polytechnique de Montreal in one of the most tragic acts of violence against women in our country's history," Harper said.

"Their deaths galvanized the need to end violence against women in the hearts and minds of Canadians.

"Today, on Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, we should all take time to remember and reaffirm our commitment to continue working to protect the lives, dignity and equality of all women."

Man held in beating, rape, murder attempt on 91 year old woman

Leslie James Setzer, 34, of East Stroudsburg, PA, was charged with the rape, beating, and attempted murder of a 91 year old woman on Saturday, November 28. Patrolman Kevin Buck of Palmerton, PA was called to the victim's house just before 2 PM, and said that after a man asked to use her phone, he struck her in the head, raped her, and attempted to smother her with a plastic bag.

When the man fled, the victim called police. Buck said the victim provided a description of her attacker and it matched the description of a man who had just walked into the emergency room at Palmerton Hospital ''stating that he needed help.''

Police arrested Setzer at the hospital. The victim has been at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest since the attack. Buck said she has been upgraded to stable condition.

Buck said that the attack was a random act perpetrated by a stranger. Besides the rape, attempte murder, and beating charges, Setzer also faces aggravated assault, indecent assault, and aggravated indecent assault.

He is currently being held on $1 million bail at the Carbon County Prison.

Murderer, armed robber, sentenced to a decade for rape of Youngstown woman

A murderer serving 55 years to life for the rape-slaying of 19 year old Sierra Slayton in August 2005 was sentenced on November 30 to an additional prison term for the rape of another woman in Youngstown, OH. Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge John M. Durkin sentenced 26 year old Antwon Lanier to an additional 10 years in prison for one count of rape and one count of intimidation of a victim. Lanier plead guilty to those counts to avoid trial on those counts and charges of kidnapping, aggravated robbery. 

The rape and intimidation conviction stems from a 2005 incident where Lanier assaulted a Warren woman in the front yard of a home not far from a Youngstown South Side bar.

The rape victim told police she was forced out of Teenie’s Tavern on South Avenue at gunpoint and raped in the front yard of a house with high bushes near Taft Elementary School on East Avondale Avenue.

Police checked the area around Taft and found a house with high bushes on East Avondale at the corner of Homestead Street. A used condom and its wrapper were found in the front yard near bushes and taken as evidence.

The woman, when interviewed by police, said she’d gone to the bar with a female friend. She said they were approached by two men, one later identified as Lanier. The female friend had asked to see Lanier’s license because she didn’t believe he was old enough to drink. She remembered the birth date — May 6, 1983 — from the license.

After the exchange, when the victim went to the restroom, Lanier followed her, pulled out a handgun and said “Don’t talk, scream or cry or I’ll kill you and your friend.” He ordered the victim out of the bar and down East Avondale, and after another threat, raped her in front of the house. Lanier then damanded the victim's money. The victim gvae him only $6. Lanier looked at her ID and threatened to kill her if she reported the attack.
Besides the Sierra Slaton slaying, Lanier was sentenced to 21 years for armed robbery and assault. Ohio prison sentences are served without benefit of parole or other early release.

Prosecutors disappointed that fondler of woman received only probation

A young man who sexually abuse his friend's mother after a party with friends to celebrate their impending college experience has been sentenced to 30 days in jail, 2 years probation and sex offender registration. Douglas County District Judge J Russell Derr sentenced Camden Stutheit to those terms after he plead guilty to 3rd degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor in Nebraska, for the crime, which took place in August 2008.

Stutheit, then 19, Evan M. Block, Eric D. Jones and several other teenagers — most of them Millard West High School graduates — had gathered at the victim's home to party on the weekend before they were to report for the first semester at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The woman arrived home and, angry that her son had thrown a party, kicked everyone out.

After lingering outside for a while, Block, Stutheit and Jones decided to sneak into a bedroom of the woman's house, authorities say. Testimony and police interviews indicated all three took turns fondling the woman's breasts — and Stutheit admitted penetrating her with a finger.

Block was acquitted of first-degree sexual assault charges after a weeklong trial in May. Jones testified against Block and wasn't charged.

His attorney, Alan Stoler, said Stutheit is remorseful for his actions and has made changes. Stutheit, who was drunk that night, hasn't had a drop since, Stoler said.

Stoler said the probation office tested him to see if he had any sexual addictions — and determined that he does not. Put simply, Stoler said, Stutheit's behavior is something that will not be repeated. The probation office recommended he be placed on probation. “I'm very comfortable in saying I don't expect to ever see Camden Stutheit anywhere near this sort of situation for the rest of his life,” Stoler said.

Stutheit, in his second year at UNL, has been diligent in his studies and his job, Stoler said. The judge allowed Stutheit to report to the Douglas County Jail to begin his 30-day term on Dec. 21, just after his first semester. “I just wanted to say I (am) extremely sorry to the victim,” Stutheit said. “I'm extremely remorseful, and nothing like this will ever happen again.”

Judge Derr told Stutheit that “The facts in this case are fairly egregious. I'm very cognizant of the victim in this case. On the other hand, you have absolutely no record.” Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said the outcome of this case is "disturbing" and that his office failed to go for a felony conviction on the guilty plea. "The results are bothersome. The level of responsibility and the accountability that they were held to aren't enough for what was done to this woman.”

The victim, who said that the case “stirs up too much in me,” did not attend Stutheit's sentencing. “I've got to put this behind me, because it's really affected me. But at least somebody got something.” In response to her case, a Nebraska lawmaker has filed a bill making sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult a felony. That should be done. No one should be able to get away with what was done to me.”