Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Former Pennsylvania National Guardsman sentenced to prison for assault

By LES STEWART [Lebanon, PA Daily News]

A Pennsylvania National Guardsman was sentenced Wednesday [April 21] to Lebanon County prison for three months to two years for sexually assaulting a woman in a Fort Indiantown Gap barracks in December 2007. He was one of three soldiers charged in the case.

President Judge John C. Tylwalk sentenced 28-year-old Alan W. Ledford Jr. of South Coopersburg on misdemeanor charges of indecent assault and simple assault. Ledford pleaded guilty in February as part of a plea agreement with the office of the Lebanon County District Attorney. In exchange for his guilty plea, a more serious felony charge of sexual assault filed was dismissed.

Sean P. McMenamin, 25, of Pottstown was also scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday, but his defense attorney is involved in defending another client in a homicide trial in another county this week, Tylwalk said. McMenamin will be sentenced at a later date. Ledford and McMenamin were scheduled to go on trial in February, but both pleaded guilty.

A third defendant in the case, Matthew S. Taggart, 25, of Springfield, Delaware County, pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced in June to three months to two years in Lebanon County prison for indecent assault and simple assault.

They were charged with sexually assaulting a then-36-year-old Lebanon County woman at a Fort Indiantown Gap barracks on Dec. 15, 2007. On Wednesday, defense attorney Ari Weitzman said alcohol played a role in the events of Dec. 15, 2007. He asked Tylwalk to sentence Ledford to probation.

He said his client was "extremely intoxicated" that night, and Ledford did not plan for the victim to be sexually assaulted by three men. "This happened spontaneously," Weitzman said.

What began as consensual sex between Ledford and the victim in a bathroom utility room in a barracks escalated into the sexual assault of the victim, the defense attorney said. "This is not the way Mr. Ledford typically conducts himself," Weitzman said. Ledford has served in the military for 11 or 12 years and hopes to spend the rest of his life in the service, the defense attorney said. His guilty plea may jeopardize that, he added.

Ledford enlisted in the military at the age of 17 and has served since then, Weitzman said. He has earned the rank of sergeant, he added. He served 14 months in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2005, the defense attorney said. At the time of their arrest, McMenamin, Ledford and Taggert were scheduled to be deployed to Iraq but were ordered to remain in the United States to face the criminal charges. None was deployed.

When he was arrested, Ledford was a member of Detachment 1, Company A, 628th Aviation Support Battalion, which is based at the Gap.

On Wednesday, Megan Ryland-Tanner, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, said she has been in contact with the military and said she is not sure how Ledford's case will be handled by military authorities. Tanner agreed that alcohol played a role, but said that does not excuse the conduct of the three men.

"These three men engaged in sexual contact with (the victim) without her consent," Tanner said.

The victim said the judgment she used the night of the assault was out of character for her. She had met four men at a Union Township bar and went to the Gap along with two other women. She said she has been undergoing counseling since the sexual assault. "It's something that continues to follow me," she said.

Ledford faced the woman and apologized. "It's something that should have never happened," he said. "I'm truly sorry for that." The judge said the victim had acknowledged she had not shown the best judgment the night of the assault. "But that does not excuse what you did," Tylwalk told Ledford.

In addition to the prison sentence, Ledford was ordered to pay fines of $900.

Lehigh Acres, FL woman sentenced to 25 years prison, 10 years probation for murder of sleeping husband

A Lehigh Acres, FL woman who murdered her husband while he was sleeping then staged a phony abduction of her self and her kids was sentenced to 25 years in prison followed by 10 years probation Monday, April 26, in a Lee County courtroom. The woman plead guilty to 2nd degree murder in the attack on her husband took place August 11, 2008. Child abuse charges, for the phony abduction story, were dropped as part of the plea deal. The phony abduction took place  with the help of Amber duct taping her kids. The husband suffered 6 gunshot wounds to the head.

Amber Rose Roberts, [then] 24, had at first told Lee County sheriff's deputies that she and her two young children had been kidnapped. That was how she explained why they were walking in the area of Greenbriar Boulevard while her husband, John Roberts, 27, was dead in bed, having suffered from multiple gunshot wounds.

But according to detective William Murphy, the stories Amber Roberts told didn't add up.

"When confronted with the inconsistencies, Amber Roberts confessed to shooting John Roberts multiple times with a .9 mm handgun," Murphy reported. "She also confessed that the alleged kidnapping was false. The information provided by Roberts was consistent with the physical evidence gathered at the scene. Amber Roberts also escorted detectives to multiple locations and additional evidence was recovered."

One of those locations was the canal at the corner of 32nd Street West and Ann Avenue, where deputies found the gun.

John Roberts' body was found by a deputy who arrived at the couple's 16th Street West home to serve eviction papers. Their home had been in foreclosure. They had lived there with their 7-month-old son and Amber's 5-year-old son.

The victim's cousin, Robbin Brophy said that two weeks before the murder at a family function, things seemed to be going smoothly and asked this pointed question of her cousin's killer. “Who made you judge, jury and executioner of John’s life? Do you realize how many lives you have ruined?” Brophy also said that "If there was a problem, you could have come to any one of us.” Brophy was one of almost 20 family members of the victim present. Assistant State Attorney Dan Feinberg said they would have liked to have seen a harsher sentence, but understand the criminal justice system.

Amber Roberts said little except to answer mostly yes and no questions from prosecutors.[She] had planned on using battered wife syndrome as a defense, and she said she agreed with the strategy of her attorney, David Goldberg, who didn’t take the deposition of law enforcement officers in the case. Instead, he deposed rebuttal witnesses who could testify about that defense.

“I was just going by what he was looking at in my best interests,” was the lengthiest statement Amber Roberts said.Goldberg said the battered spouse syndrome was a viable defense, but the plea was in her best interests.

The son she had before her marriage with her victim is in the care of relatives. The whereabouts of the child she had with her victim is unknown. Amber should be released in a little under 20 years, assuming she gets all of her good time credits.

Man who strangled wife to death with belt sentenced to 30 years imprisonment

A man who strangled his wife to death with a belt was sentenced to 30 years in a Tallahassee, FL, courtroom Monday, April 26. Daniel Tappen murdered his wife Kimberly inside their southeast Tallahassee, FL home in 2008. After a 6 day trial, and five hours of deliberation, Tappen was convicted of 2nd degree murder by a jury on March 10 of this year. The main reason that Tappen was convicted of 2nd and not 1st degree murder was defense evidence showing that Kim had a high level of cocaine in her body and the insistence that Kim's death was suicide.

During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors asked for life without parole. Kim's mother, Lynn Delay, brought her dead daughter's childhood teddy bear, saying the bear was "still very much loved just like his owner." Kim's sister Cheryl Phillips said that "It has been almost two years now and I just want to stop crying, but I can't, it hurts so much."

 "Danny is a kind and harmless man. There is not an unkind bone in his body. Throughout our entire marriage, he never said no to me," says Daniel's ex-wife Mary Jane Tappen.  Through tears, his mother turned her attention from the Judge to Daniel. "We know that you didn't do this son and we love you very much."

The defendant will be eligible for early release after serving 25 1/2 years in the Florida Department Of Corrections. He hopes to be incarcerated in Wakulla Correctional Institute, 20 miles from Tallahassee.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rapist gets 50 years for vicious attack in Illinois park

A Madison County, IL judge gave a convicted rapist a harsher sentence than even prosecutors asked for yesterday, April 26, after the victim testified about her injuries caused by the attack. Associate Judge Kyle Napp sentenced 31 year old Keith Recklein, of Granite City, IL, to 50 years in prison. The sentence breakdown is as follows - 2 25 year terms to be served consecutively  for two Class X felonies of aggravated criminal sexual assault and 5 years to be served concurrently to the sexual assault charges for aggravated battery.

In the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Recklein telephoned the woman, a stranger, after midnight on May 1, 2008, and lured her to Horseshoe Lake State Park near Granite City with a claim that a friend of hers was there and needed help. The call was made on her friend's cell phone. Park workers found the woman, then 20, of Lebanon, unconscious with critical head injuries, the next morning.

The woman said she remembered meeting a man at the park but said she lost consciousness when he put her in a head lock, and did not remember the beating or sexual assault. She awoke later in a hospital, suffering from a facial fracture, fractured ribs and a brain injury. She said she feared for a time that she was pregnant with her attacker's child.

Police had no suspect in the case for several months, but then reinterviewed people who had been at a bar in Caseyville with the victim's friend when he passed out and was taken home. The man later noticed that his cell phone was missing. Recklein was one of the people at the bar, and an expert witness said DNA found on the victim's panties was likely from Recklein.

Judge Napp presided over Reichert's bench trial last October, finding him guilty. The testimony which influenced her the most was a park worker's testimony that he thought the woman was a pile of garbage dumped in the park before moving closer. Judge Napp said that Reichert treated his victim like a piece of garbage and that he was a danger to society.
Reichert's attorney Charles Stegmeyer said his client had a wife and children which needed him. For trying to kill someone else's grown daughter for his sexual pleasure, Reichert lost the right to be a father to his children.

Boulder, CO woman who stabbed husband in heart pleads to negligent homicide - gets 90 days JAIL with work release

(Original Post 2-13-10)
A 32 year old Boulder, CO woman who stabbed her husband pled guilty to criminal negligent homicide after stabbing her husband, John Houseman, to death with a kitchen knife. Traci Housman was originally charged with 2nd degree murder, which carried a sentence of 10-32 years in prison. Criminally negligent homicide carries a 1-3 year prison sentence. In 2007, the couple met on Myspace after a 20 year off and on relationship. They were married in June 2008.

Boulder County District Court Judge Maria Berkenkotter has discretion in sentencing as the guilty plea was "blind." Matthew Connell, Traci's public defender, plans to ask for a probation sentence for his client because of the victim's history of domestic violence. Police reports and one of John's ex-wives tell of his violent tendencies. He was ticked by police in 2001 after death threats and "basking her face in."

According to police, Housman stabbed her husband once in the chest with a kitchen knife during an altercation in their 2994 23rd St. home early on Aug. 2. Housman told investigators that they had been drinking on the Pearl Street Mall earlier in the night and ended up at a nearby sushi restaurant, where John Housman started telling people, "I'm gay," according to a police report.

Traci Housman told detectives that her husband had told her years ago that he was bisexual, and she had no problem with it. But, according to police, she told him that night "that it was disrespectful for him to announce this to everyone since they were married."

They got into an argument, and Traci Housman decided to walk home, the report said. When she arrived, her husband was waiting, "and he was angry," according to the report.

Traci Housman told police that her husband pushed her into a wall, grabbed her hair and hit her head several times. She told detectives that he pushed her head into a glass framed picture, causing it to break, and she eventually got away to grab a knife from the kitchen, according to police.

"Traci said she poked out at John with one of the knives she had grabbed, and he suddenly stopped his attack," the report said.

Housman said she ran to the backyard, and when she went back into the house, she found John Housman sitting up against a wall with a large wound where she had "poked him," the report said. She immediately began CPR, according to police, and called 911 twice.

Stewart Lundstrom, Traci's brother, said "We are saddened that we can't be there for her with such an important choice to make. Please note that although we are stuck here, our hearts are with Traci, whatever her decision may be." Lundstrom and Traci's mother attended all of her hearings except the plea agreement, which they missed due to a snowstorm. Traci will be sentenced on April 23, and is being held in the Boulder County Jail on $250,000 bail.

(Update 4-27-10) Last Friday, Housman was sentenced by Boulder County District Court Judge Maria Berkenkotter to 7 years probation, 400 hours of community service and 90 days in the Boulder County jail's work release program. "It's completely undisputed that Mrs. Housman stabbed Mr. Housman...The dents in the wall that were made by John slamming Mrs. Housman's head into the wall are powerful evidence of what happened that evening...I am persuaded that Mrs. Housman is genuinely and profoundly remorseful for her actions."

Hope Housman, the victim's daughter, had a letter about the loss of her father read by Boulder County Deputy District Attorney David Cheval. "I was daddy's girl. I never thought about how life would be without daddy. Words can't explain how I feel. There's a hole in my heart."

None of John Housman's family members or friends were in the courtroom Friday, while numerous friends and family members showed up to support Traci Housman. Deputy District Attorney Amy Okubo said John Housman's supporters stayed away because they didn't want to hear bad things about the man they loved.

Matthew Connell, defense attorney for Housman, said he didn't want to insult John Housman during the hearing, "but I don't know how to talk about this case and ignore the fact that John Housman was very severely beating up Traci Housman that night."

Traci herself said in mitigation, "I know how excited they [John and Hope]were for all those things, and now [Hope will] have to feel his absence at all of those milestones...But John was different that night. I saw it in his eyes...I really loved John, and I still do. Know that I never wanted this to happen."

The 90 day jail sentence will be suspended once Traci finds employment, something a defense attorney said will be at a local gas station. As for the community service, her father John Lundstrom said "The community service -- that's not punishment to her. That's what she loves to do."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Remains of 25 year old Brooklyn woman missing since December 2008 found- repeat sex offender suspected

(Original Post 12-11-08)
A high ranking New York City MTA assistant police chief’s son, sandwich shop owner, and registered SO was arrested yesterday on suspicion of the kidnapping (and presumably rape and murder) of a 25 year old aspiring dancer from McAllen, TX after her disappearance a week ago today.

According to her family, 25 year old Laura Garza, shoe store worker and recent transplant to New York from Texas, Garza fell in love with NYC after a trip there earlier this year, and saw an opportunity to engage in two of her passions – designing and dance.

Garza's cousin, Isela Villalobos, told WNBC Monday from Mission, Texas, that Garza loved New York after moving there from McAllen. “She went there for a vacation this year and she came back and told her mother she was moving,” Villalobos said. “She loved fashion and she loved the dance, and where else but New York do you go for that?”

As the search for Garza continues, all her friends and family can do is hope and pray that she is found alive.

Garza’s aunt, Elma Esquivel, sat with other family members in their home in Texas, holding pictures of the missing woman and weeping. “He knows where she is,” she said of Mele. “How come he don't tell us where she is?”

“If you guys see her, please call the police and let the authorities know that you've seen her or try to help her out,” her friend Christy Torres told NBC News. “We really want her to come home. We want her to be safe.”

Unfortunately, it is probably too late, as Garza crossed paths with 23 year old Michael Melo, the Newburgh, NY area sex offender with a history of exposing himself to women, and either forcing sex on them, or jacking off in front of them.

Melo had been charged, then convicted of shopping mall parking lot sexual assaults in New Jersey, where he would run up to women, jack off in front of them, leaving semen on his victim’s clothing. One of the New Jersey victims was a 16 year old girl. These offenses were plead down to child endangerment and forcible touching, and Melo was sentenced to 6 years probation.

Garza was picked up at a Manhattan club a week ago today at 4 AM by Melo and another man, after going out with a friend, something that profiler Clint Van Zandt says protects from sexual predation of adults:

Garza came to the bar with a friend, but she left her friend to be with a man she had just met, someone she otherwise knew nothing about. As Tom Cruise's character learned in the movie "Top Gun," you never leave your wingman, the person who would have your best interest at heart, a lesson also learned by 18-year-old Natalee Holloway in Aruba and Imette St. Guillen, the 24-year-old criminal justice graduate student who in early 2006, made a fatal error in judgment; she too trusted the wrong man.

After the other man left, Garza was left alone with Melo, who was the last person who saw her alive. They went to Melo’s hometown of Newburgh, and that’s where the last reports of her alive were made. Though she hasn’t been found, profiler Clint van Zandt lays out his belief that Garza is probably dead, using available police evidence:

When Garza was reported as missing, the police quickly went looking for Mele. When they found him he had scratches on his neck, bite marks on his hands, and had allegedly scrubbed his car and apartment with bleach, this with the assistance of his unknowing girlfriend. He also cut out a large piece of his carpet, indicating that he had accidentally spilled bleach on it, a piece large enough to wrap around the body of a 5’2”, 120 lb. woman like Garza. Witnesses indicate Mele frantically cleaned and vacuumed his car and apartment the morning of Garza’s disappearance, eventually disposing of the vacuum cleaner, one that could contain physical evidence related to the missing woman.

In their search for Garza, police have found a machete, a woman’s shoe and other items of clothing that could be related to the victim, some of which were recovered from a nearby dumpster he was seen going through. Evidence of blood was found in Mele’s SUV, one he had parked at his parent’s home, and blood was also found by police in his apartment.

DNA should quickly tell police if the blood and other physical evidence confirm what investigators believe, that Mele took Garza to his apartment where he may have assaulted and murdered her, then took her remains to a yet to be discovered body disposal site. Should this be the case, investigators will attempt to determine where he car was the morning of Garza's disappearance and where a man in panic would go to dispose of a body.

Divers are in the pond behind his apartment in case he chose a close by site. Although now in police custody for violation of his probation, he is represented by counsel and is not discussing his role in the disappearance and possible death of Garza. I have no doubt that other young girls and women, after seeing Mele's photo and reading about his actions, will come forward to identify him as their previously unidentified assailant. Too late, I fear, for Laura Garza.

Melo was arrested yesterday and held on $50,000 bond by Rockland County police for parole violations, including skipping three sex offender classes, hanging out at bars, failing to met with his PO, and moving to his own apartment from his parents’ home. At least 10 other women have reported various sexual violations by Melo, and officials suspect that the number of victims is much higher.

Besides Paramus, NJ police officials, other law enforcement officers have investigated Melo. Police Detective William Fritz became interested in Melo 2 years ago after complaints of sexual aggression against young women. “His behavior can be described like a predator,” Fritz said.

When minors are kidnapped by sex offenders, most of the time, the first 72 hours are the most critical (and this is the reason why Amber Alerts are issued). If a victim has not been found in the first three days alive, they probably won’t be. There is no reason to doubt this applies to adult victims as well as child victims. However, Garza’s Texas family, including her aunt Elma Esquivel, are holding out hope that for one young woman, things might turn out differently.

“He knows where she is. How come he don't tell us where she is?”

(Update 4-26-10) Laura Garza's body was found in Pennsylvania. Her remains were discovered by two ATV riders in a field April 11 in Olyphant Township, PA, near Scranton.

By April 13, Pennsylvania investigators determined the remains didn’t belong to a missing person in that state’s database. They notified state police in New York, and that led investigators to travel to Pennsylvania and obtain sample to use for the DNA tests.

New York State Police Capt. Wayne Olson said that “That DNA evidence has concluded that the remains are definitely those of Laura Garza...We’ve got a lot of legwork to do here.”  Convicted sex offender Richard Mele is still the only suspect in her murder. "Michael Mele has never been cooperative in this investigation," Olson said.

Miss Garza's remains and a Michael Kors wristwatch were found in a remote wooded area more than a half-mile from the nearest home. Two days after the discovery, investigators in Pennsylvania contacted state police in Middletown, N.Y., to see if the remains could belong to Miss Garza.

Now that the remains have been identified, both New York and Pennsylvania investigators will begin trying to determine the circumstances surrounding Miss Garza's death. For now, New York investigators have taken the lead in the investigation, though Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola said his office, the state police and the county coroner's office are still involved in the investigation.

"New York authorities have jurisdiction," he said. "It is possible she was killed here, but I believe the evidence will dictate otherwise." He declined to elaborate.

Lt. Pierce Gallagher said officials plan to interview residents in the Olyphant area regarding possible recollections of suspicious activity around the time of Garza's disappearence and death.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Silver Spring man who stabbed wife to death in front of child sentenced to life without parole

A Montgomery County, MD man was sentenced to life without parole for stabbing his wife to death while their child was home. Lamour A. Harrison, 37, was stabbed to death by her own husband, 49 year old Claude Harrison, in their Silver Spring apartment.  He went from room to room, stabbing her with a 12-inch knife four times after he broke into the bedroom in which she barricaded herself with - their 18 year old daughter Shanoy's.

After arguing in the kitchen with his wife, Claude Harrison followed her to a bedroom, where she slammed the door between them, according to police. He then forced his way into the bedroom, according to the documents. Detectives think Lamour Harrison "attempted to barricade herself" inside their daughter's bedroom while Claude Harrison had the knife in his back pocket, according to Feeney. After forcing his way into the room, he stabbed her four times, [a law enforcement officer] said.

After the stabbing, he follows the victim into the kitchen, along with their daughter, and prosecutor Peter Feeney describes the last moments of the 37 year old mother's life during closing arguments.

"This is a horribly intimate picture. This is horrific. Dad and mom, Shanoy watching. He takes the knife, and if there's any question at all in your mind about premeditation, after the kitchen incident there ought not to be. He's talking to her. He's talking to his wife. ... And she says to him, 'Please, please.' His response – I mean she's begging, she's begging, begging – his response: 'Please what?'" Shanoy falls over her mother as she lay dying from the stab wounds which literally pierced her heart.

Brian D. Shefferman, Harrison's defense attorney argued that his client did not mean to kill his wife, saying that "Raw emotion got the better of Claude Harrison on August 10th. He snapped. He did an awful, awful thing...This clearly was not Claude Harrison’s normal way of dealing with stress and problems, and marital strife...What he did was completely wrong ... We know that," Shefferman said. "But this was not a premeditated and deliberate act. It was the result of raw emotion and frustration. Once he got control of that knife, he clearly lost control."

To establish premeditation, though, prosecutors don't have to show the defendant engaged in weeks or even minutes of planning. They can argue that the amount of time someone takes to weigh whether to kill or not need only be a matter of seconds. And in cases like Harrison's, when someone is accused of stabbing or shooting repeatedly, prosecutors will argue that the second, third or fourth attacks are themselves a matter of premeditation because the defendant had a chance to stop but didn't.

Feeney said that previous talk of hurting his wife and the choice of a 12 inch knife when smaller knives were available underscored Harrison's intent to kill. "He's looking for a knife that’s going to get the job done. There’s a butter knife. I don't want that. There's a regular steak-knife. I don't want that. There's a knife that you would use to chop an onion. That's not big enough. I want this. I want this. This is going to get the job done. He hunts her down, ladies and gentlemen," he says to the court, particularly the jury.

Jurors, persuaded by that argument, convicted Harrison of 1st degree murder February 25. Almost two months later, on April 22, Harrison was sentenced to life without parole. "This is yet another domestic-violence murder in front of a child. It's deeply troubling," said Montgomery County's chief prosecutor John McCarthy. Because Harrison was sentenced to life, the governor must sign off on any parole request, meaning he should die behind bars.

"Divorce party" murderer of ex-wife sentenced to life without parole for at least 10 years

Andy Passant and Naomi Corrigan, Evening Gazette

Brian Jones was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison for butchering 34-year-old mum-of-two Katrina Jones at the former marital home in Church Close, Marske. Katrina was knifed 12 times after arguing with her ex-husband on November 27 last year. She had been decking out the house with banners and balloons to celebrate the end of their 10-year marriage.

Yesterday there were dramatic scenes at Teesside Crown Court as Jones was found guilty of murdering Katrina at the end of a two-week trial. Jones, 63, of Thrushwood Crescent, Marske, collapsed in the dock, at which point the judge called an adjournment while the defendant received attention.

The former doorman and bodybuilder, had denied murder, raising the defences of provocation and diminished responsibility.But after deliberating for more than seven hours the jury of six men and six women unanimously found him guilty of murder.

The trial judge, the Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Peter Fox QC, told Jones: “The jury has found you guilty of murder. I am bound therefore to pass, as I now do, a sentence of life imprisonment.” There were gasps from the public gallery and members of Jones’ family wept.

Struggling to be heard above the sound of crying, the judge said he was satisfied Jones had gone to get the knife from a neighbour’s house before returning and stabbing Katrina.

“Your intention, I am clear, was to kill her,” he said. The judge said he accepted Jones had been provoked, but not to the degree needed for a legal defence. He also took into account his age, his physical health and the fact that he had no previous convictions for violence.

But he told Jones, who will be 64 later this year, he would have to serve a minimum of 10 years before being considered for parole. A tearful Jones tried unsuccessfully to address the judge before being led from the dock. Family members shouted out that they loved him.

Members of Katrina’s family, who remained dignified and calm during and after the trial, had been in court to hear the verdict. Afterwards Katrina’s mum Jean Evans paid an emotional tribute to her daughter outside court. In a statement, Mrs Evans said Katrina “was my baby and I miss her with all my heart”.

As the family waited nearby while Detective Sergeant Colin Helyer, relatives of Jones came out of the court and several hurled abuse. Gestures were made and one shouted: “He’ll be out in six and a half.”

The court heard how the couple had been married for 10 years.
In February 2009, Jones found out his wife was seeing someone else when he discovered a Valentine’s card.
Katrina filed for divorce although Jones was desperate to save their marriage. Jones said they still regularly had sex until about July last year and left his head “screwed up”.

He ended up moving to a flat in Thrushwood Crescent, Marske. But he spent much of the time staying with his former neighbour next door to Katrina. Police were called a number of times by Katrina, who was keeping a diary of the harassment she was suffering at the hands of Jones. The trial had heard how he had gone round to confront Katrina as she prepared to hold a divorce party.

He snapped after seeing the house had been decorated with banners, balloons and streamers. One poster read: “Katrina’s divorce party. Free at last.” There was also a photo of Jones with the message “Pin the tail on the ex”, the jury heard. Jones argued with Katrina and then went next door to get a knife before returning and repeatedly stabbing her.

He then dialled 999 and pleaded for help to save his former wife’s life. Jones said he was “devastated” when he became aware of the divorce party. He said: “I couldn’t believe she would do that, I couldn’t believe she would hurt me that much.” Jones said he remembered arguing with Katrina but couldn’t remember attacking her.

THE heartbroken mum of Katrina Jones told how she will never get over losing her youngest daughter.

Jean Evans, along with other members of Katrina’s family, remained dignified and calm throughout the trial, despite hearing horrific evidence of the attack and previous incidents of harassment suffered at the hand of Jones.

In a touching statement given after the case, Mrs Evans said: “Katrina was the youngest of my four children. She was my baby and I miss her with all my heart. “I miss being able to cuddle and hold her and I miss being able to tell her how much I love her and how proud she made me feel every day. In hindsight I wish that I had told her every day that I loved her, at least it would have made up for all the times that I will not be able to do that now. My life has changed for ever and it will never be the same again. I loved my daughter very much and still do.”

Mrs Evans, a widow who lives in Middlesbrough, described her daughter as “funny, caring and lovely to be around”. And she added that the whole family are struggling to come to terms with what happened to Katrina. “Mark, Phillip and Susan who are Katrina’s brothers and sister are totally heartbroken at Katrina’s death and this will affect them and their families for the rest of their lives,” she said.

“With regards to Jordan (Katrina’s son) his whole life has been turned upside down and thrown into chaos. Everything that he trusted and believed in has been taken away from him.” She asked that the family’s privacy be respected.

During the case, Katrina’s family heard that police were called to the house on several occasions and she was keeping a diary of his harassment.

Detective Sergeant Colin Helyer, who led the case, said: “This is one of the most extreme cases of domestic violence that I have ever dealt with and the victim endured months and months of abuse which has ultimately led to her death. “Throughout the court case, Katrina’s family have had to listen to a lot of painful and upsetting evidence given by various witnesses. They have remained dignified throughout this time. This is a just result for a horrific crime. I only hope that it brings some closure for the family and they can now move on with their lives.”

El Paso, TX woman gets light sentence for killing husband with knife

An El Paso, TX woman will only be in jail for a little under 2 months after her conviction of criminally negligent homicide in the stabbing death of her husband. Judge Bonnie Rangel sentenced the woman to 2 years after jurors acquitted her of murder and manslaughter on Friday. The killer, 25 year old Leslie Alvarado, was convicted of stabbing to death 32 year old Leopoldo Mosqueda, who bled to death after being attacked on November 4, 2007.

Both the prosecution and defense attorney accepted that Alvarado stabbed her husband in the arm intentionally. However, there were differences in their arguments about why the killing happened. The trial, presided over by 171st District Court Judge Bonnie Rangel, began Monday with closing arguments on Thursday.

During his closing argument Thursday, [defense attorney Ruben]Hernandez said that Alvarado stabbed her husband in self-defense.He argued that Leopoldo Mosqueda had tried to rape her the night he died. If Alvarado had wanted to kill Mosqueda, she would have stabbed him in a vital organ and not in the arm, he said.

But Assistant District Attorney Scott Ferguson argued that Alvarado purposely selected a large knife for the attack. Ferguson took the knife that killed Mosqueda and stabbed the air in front of the jury during his closing argument. "When you stab someone like this in the arm, two or three times, you know at the very least that she's intending to cause death or serious bodily injury," he said.

Ferguson also argued that a taped jail conversation of Alvarado showed that she had a motive for killing her husband because she had a relationship with a woman.

On Wednesday, April 21, prosecutors brought up an August 2003 incident in which Alvarado allegedly hit her husband with a bat, but the victim dropped charges. Dr. Timothy Proctor reviewed the records of both the victim and defendant, with the records showing that Alverado had been abused regularly, and Mosqueda was diagnosed as bipolar. "It was a very chaotic relationship, and what I saw was mutual aggression," Proctor said.

After Judge Rangel's sentencing, the victim's sister, Maria Teresa Mosqueda, said that despite the strained relationship with her brother, "I can never forgive you. Never." Hernandez told reporters "I think we're still happy with the result because it wasn't a murder. She didn't plan it, and she didn't want that result."

Judge Rangel sentenced Alvarado to 2 years for aggravated assault for attacking Vickie Dobson at a mall, causing head injuries.The aggravated assault sentence will be served concurrently with the homicide charges.

"Man" sentenced to 80 to life for murdering wife in front of 4 year old son

A 30 year old Omaha, NE "man" who beat, choked, and stabbed his wife to death in front of their 4 year old son was sentenced to 80 years to life by Douglas County District Judge J. Michael Coffey yesterday afternoon. Sonia Espinoza-Lucero, 34, was brutalkly murdered by her husband Johnny Rix, described as controlling and violent. Deputy Douglas County Attorney Kim Pankonin said that the murder scene was the worst she saw in 16 years as a prosecutor, but the DV leading up to it was all too typical. Rix plead no contect to murder and child endangerment.

A sweet woman, Sonia Espinoza-Lucero kept the couple's volatile relationship secret from her coworkers, friends, even family. She worked hard and raised the couple’s three sons — including 1-year-old twins, Pankonin said. And she dealt with the neverending specter of her husband’s temper.

Pankonin said Rix was "insanely jealous" and controlling. He drove his wife to work, constantly called to check on her and hounded her at home. It was the same behavior Rix was accused of in the late 1990s.

In that case, a Grand Island, NE woman's family helped their daughter escape the relationship while Rix was at work. "This was not unusual conduct for the defendant. And it resulted in the senseless loss of a mom, sister and friend. It was a gruesome, horrible death she did not deserve," Pankonin told the court.

The 4 year old witnessed the beating and murder, and was also traumatized because his father tried to jump of of a fast food restraraunt with him before police intervened.

"By the child’s interview he saw a good portion of it,” said Pankonin. “He was able to act it out to a therapist and act it out with a doll so he saw a good portion of it which is very, very sad.” 

He made a big mistake, he left three little kids without mom and dad and the big kid, he got too many problems, too many psychological problems ‘cause he saw everything and right now his behavior is not really good,” said Sonia's brother, Alex Espinoza.

The sentence breakdown is 60 to life for 1st degree murder, and 20 years, served consecutively to the 60 to life term, for use of a weapon during a felony. Rix must serve 40 years, or half the minimum term, before parole, something Pankonin believes Rix will never be granted.

Though Rix apologized for the pain he cause his wife's family, Judge Coffey said that "people have described her death as ‘horrific.’If you saw what has been done here, that might be mild. It was completely senseless. Extremely violent. I only hope the children can somehow put it aside."

Judging from the aftereffects on the now 6 year old boy, it looks like that will be a long way off.

AM Rapist gets 75 to life for attacks on San Diego area women

The AM Rapist, a man who terrorized San Diego area women between 2000 and 2001, will never hurt another woman again. He was sentenced to 75 to life yesterday in San Diego Superior Court by Judge Kerry Wells, who commended the victims for their perseverance. Judge Wells stated that she "hope[d] that you all know that what the defendant did to you does not define you. How you handled it defines you. What happened to each of you is every woman's nightmare. You all suffered an unimaginable trauma. You all fought to survive in your own way. I'm in awe of that."

The judge added: “There’s no question he deserves to die in prison.”

Authorities attributed a series of rapes that occurred from June 2000 to February 2001 in Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and the College Area to a suspect they dubbed the “A.M. Rapist.” The victims — all women in their mid-20s according to prosecutors — were awakened by an intruder who choked, fondled and raped them.

Each attack occurred in the pre-dawn hours, earning the sexual predator his nickname.

Eventually, DNA evidence linked [now 34 year old Stephen]Richardson, a former Navy man who had been stationed in San Diego at the time, to each of the crimes. According to court documents, Richardson was discharged from the Navy for psychological reasons and returned to the Chicago area in March 2001. At the time of his arrest, he was married, had earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and worked in a management position at company earning $70,000 per year.

Richardson was arrested in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights last summer, and plead guilty to five counts of rape last month on the 12th. In addition, he is suspected of a sixth rape of an Arlington Heights woman who was sexually assaulted July 29, 2003, at 4AM. That DNA profile came back positive for a match with the other 5 assaults. Charges haven't yet been filed in that case, but the investigation is still continuing.

In court, with all five of his victims looking on, he claimed that  depression, loneliness, and lack on control led him to burglarize and rape, and also led to attempted suicide by drug overdose.

“I was on a destructive path with nothing to lose,” Richardson said. “Today I’ve lost everything that has ever mattered to me...What I have done to each of you has haunted me over the years. I always felt that I was living on borrowed time, but I can’t change the past.”

Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth McCluthchey called Richardson a "wolf in sheep's clothing" because the sex predator appeared to the outside world to be a family man and an upstanding member of the military. Her assessment was seconded by Richardson's wife, who said in a statement submitted to the court that she had been "lied to, deceived and betrayed."

This was seconded by two victims who chose to make an impact statement.

"Stephen Richardson almost killed me, and the assault was the worst thing I've ever gone through in my life. Perhaps [he]will come to realize how devastating his actions were."

A second woman believes that she's being watched whenever she goes to the grocery store, and worries for the safety of her daughter.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Man gets 7 years for hatchet attack on wife - judge not amused by "alibi"

A Port Richey, Florida man was sentenced to 7 years in prison followed by 3 years of probation last Friday, April 16, after attacking his wife with a hatchet, and trying to pretend to jurors at his trial that the attack was accidental, coming after he attempted to move furniture.

On June 8, 2008, investigators say, [now 43 year old Daniel]Stuckey attacked his wife at their home at 10018 Old Orchard Lane in Port Richey. The couple's two daughters - Dominique, 16, and Danielle, 9 - testified during the one-day trial that they were in bed with their mother at the time of the incident, . Dominique Stuckey awoke and saw their father carrying the hatchet toward their mother and, screaming, the girl tried to stop him.

Antoinette said she woke up because of the screaming and that her husband started swinging and cursing at her.

Stuckey said that while the argument heated up, he had the hatchet, used to move furniture, in his hand, and it dropped and hit her arm. Stuckey could not explain why there was a gash above her eye.

Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence, 15 years for the 2nd degree Florida felony, while defense attorneys asked for a downward departure. It appeared that Stuckey got off, as he was convicted of the aggravated battery charge after acquittal of a more serious attempted murder charge, which carried a 30 year maximum.

Pasco County Circuit Judge Michael Andrews berated Stuckey for sticking to his story even after his conviction. "I simply cannot buy this argument that you continue to make that you didn't intend to use the hatchet," .It just doesn't make any sense whatsoever." He continued after sentencing. "I wish I could show you how I could move furniture with a hatchet," Stuckey said, before being led off into the Florida Department Of Corrections.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Salt Lake City mom sentenced to jail for bashing estranged husband with hammer

A Salt Lake City, UT mother who admitted "surprising" her husband with a hammer attack after leading him down to her parents' basement was sentenced to 30 days in jail, three years of probation, a $250 fine and 200 hours of community service Monday, April 19. Amy Teresa Ricks, 37, was given the light sentence mainly because her victim, her estranged husband Joel Ricks told the judge he still loved his wife and that prison would be hard on their daughters.

Ricks was initially charged with attempted murder, a first-degree felony, for the May 4, 2007, attack that took place in her parents' Holladay condominium. The couple had gone out for dinner and returned to the condo where they started kissing.

Joel Ricks told police his wife then told him, "I've got a surprise for you." Amy Ricks blindfolded her husband, led him downstairs, spun him around in circles and told him to count to 100. After Joel Ricks was hit with the hammer, prosecutors said, he pulled off the blindfold, spotted sleeping bags, a knife and plastic bags nearby, and ran off to get help.

The perpetrator's attorney Susanne Gustin said her client is "a kind person, a smart person, a wonderful mother," Gustin said. "She's working full time and is the sole support of this family. She's not a danger to the community or anybody else. This happened because of mental pressure. She was a battered spouse."

Amy Ricks herself said I don't want to be separated from my children for any time, I am with them all the time," she said. "The last two years have been a nightmare for everyone. I'm sorry for it and I just want it to be over."

Prosecutor Tupakk Renteria disputed Amy's claim of abuse and said that even if it was the case, that doesn't excusing luring a victim down to a basement under false pretenses.
3rd District Judge William Barrett said that while the punishment for the attack needed to be severe enough to act as a deterrent, "Sometimes I hate this job.This was a tragic case and is a tragic case." Amy must report to jail on April 27. Her husband still has a no-contact order issued against her.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Husband who hired hitman to kill wife gets life without parole in Philly courtroom

A Jamaican national who had his nephew kill his estranged wife so he could have a better chance of escaping drug charges was sentenced to life without parole Friday for her murder. 46 year old Corbin Thomas was sentenced to mandatory life without parole after a Philadelphia jury convicted him of 1st degree murder of his wife, Hope Thomas. Common Pleas Court Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi presided over the trial and jury, which only took 40 minutes to deliver a guilty verdict.

Prosecutors said Thomas ordered hit hit on his wife to prevent her from testifying against him about his marijuana distribution operation, an operation which led to drug and money laundering convictions and a 35 year federal prison sentence.

On the night of Nov. 14, 1995, a gunman in a Wolfman mask accosted Hope Thomas and Danielle as the woman unlocked the door to their Cedarbrook rowhouse. The girl was tied up and left in a bedroom. Hope Thomas was led to a basement shower stall and shot in the head.

Corbin Thomas was initially suspected because the Thomases were separated, a divorce was all but final, and Hope Thomas had a protection-from-abuse order barring her husband from the house.

But the masked gunman escaped, and no physical evidence linked Corbin Thomas to scene. Police questioned and released Thomas. Four months later, he fled to Jamaica, and later to London.

He was arrested in London in 2002 and was also indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of operating a multimillion drug ring. But British authorities would not extradite him to the United States unless Philadelphia officials agreed not to seek the death penalty.

Hope's mother, Donell Morgan and daughter, now 21 year old Danielle, endured the five day trial and cross examination from Thomas, who had represented himself in the proceedings. Danielle said that "It was very hard. It was as if he disrespected me. Because I felt that he was guilty all along and he still questioned me."

Morgan said that "This has been like living a nightmare. To see it end the way it has is such a release...We always knew that he was the one who killed my daughter."

A key witness against him was Gary St. Louis Gordon, his right-hand man in the drug ring, who testified that Thomas offered him $10,000 to hire someone to kill his wife.

When a first hit man took the money and ran, Thomas turned to his nephew to do the job, Gordon testified. The nephew, Winston "Titos" Thomas, is missing and believed to have been killed in Jamaica for drug activities.

Thomas plans to appeal, and Judge DeFino-Nastasi appointed Barbara A. McDermott to handle it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The blind raping the blind - rape between two residents of complex catering to visually impaired - attacker sentenced to 20 years

(Original Post 6-8-08)
Hawley Ridge Apartments, 920 N. Hawley Rd in Milwaukee, was the scene of a rape May 31 when Matthew Lilek, 41, allegedly impersonated himself as a 75 year old woman's son so he could rape her. The woman, who is visually impaired, and Lilek both live at that same apartment building.

According to a complaint:
The woman told police she was waiting for a visit from her son when someone rang her doorbell. She admitted a man, claiming to be her son, into her apartment. The man told her he sounded different because he had a cold. He then assaulted her.

At one point, the woman said, the man carried her into her bathroom and dumped her into her bathtub. He started to pour water on her, then continued to attack her until her doorbell rang.

The woman described the man as weighing more than 200 lbs., with moles on his back and dry elbows, wearing a wristwatch on one wrist and a name tag on the other.

According to police, a videotape shows a resident of the apartment building, Matthew Lilek, entering the woman's apartment and then leaving it a short time later carrying a bra. The bra, the complaint says, was recovered from Lilek's apartment, along with a pair of women's underpants. Lilek told police he took the underpants from the apartment building's laundry room and wore them while he attacked the victim.

Lilek is charged with second-degree sexual assault; aggravated battery and burglary. He faces 58 1/2 years in prison if convicted of all charges and if given the maximum sentence.

(Update 4-13-10) Lilek plead no contest in January to second-degree sexual assault, use of force, and aggravated battery in exchange for prosecutors dismissing a felony burglary count. Yesterday, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet sentenced Lilek to 20 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision.

Judge Dallet said that despite developmental delays, Lilek chose a particulary vulnerable victim, posed as the victim's son, and inflicted serious injuries. Judge Dallet read previous uncharged incidents of inappropriate sexual contact into the record. "I'm not sure he can understand how wrong this is, so how will he not do it in the future?" she said.

The victim's son said she began suffering from Usher syndrome, a genetic disorder that leads to loss of hearing and sight. She had lived at Hawley Ridge a little more than five years at the time of the attack and enjoyed the independence it offered. Since the attack, she has moved to a group home, her son said, and does not like it. The woman attended the sentencing and was happy with the outcome, her son said.

He also said the family plans a civil suit against Hawley Ridge, noting that the management kept Lilek as a tenant despite earlier reports of inappropriate sexual contacts with residents. Lilek's mother was a major contributor to the Badger Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired. She declined to comment after the hearing.

As for Lilek, his attorney said that his client was focused of returning to jail to listen to yesterday's Brewers game (which Milwaukee lost, 10 to 5). Lilek told Judge Dallet, "I want to go to jail, and that's exactly what I want to do. And I'm disavowing my entire family as well."

Mother of 3 strangled in home, allegedly by "husband"

A mother of 3 who worked at a suburban Chicago zoo as an outreach coordinator was strangled, allegedly by her husband, around 2 AM Saturday, April 10, in their west suburban Chicago home, according to police.

Ian A. Alamilla, 33, a Westmont resident who is a Belize native, was charged by DuPage County, IL prosecutors with 1st degree murder for strangling his "wife," 34 year old Tara, in the basement of her Westmont home. Ian drove to the Central District Police Station in Chicago's near south side around 5:30 AM and turned himself to police. According to DuPage County prosecutor Robert Berlin, Alamilla said that he had been in a fight with his wife and that police should check on her.

Chicago police contacted their Westmont counterparts, who found the mother of three dead in her basement. Her kids, 2, 5, and 11, were found by police asleep and physically unharmed.

The couple had been separated since March 5, 2010, after Tara filed for divorce. The divorce papers make no allegations of DV, and according to neighbors, the couple, who still lived within several blocks of each other,were trying to repair their marriage. Ian was at his wife's home for the youngest child's birthday party.

Christin O'Malley said, "They were very cordial with each other. Never once did she ever say he was violent She was a good person, but so was Ian. That's why this is so shocking."

At Brookfield Zoo, where Tara Alamilla had worked since 2006, she had established a reputation for making inroads with Chicago Public Schools teachers in the zoo's new education program. A teacher-development program that she coordinated, Levels of Engagement, won the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Education Award in 2009, officials said.

More recently, Alamilla was helping with the design of wildlife clubs in Guyana, said Stuart Strahl, president and chief executive officer of the zoological society. Earlier, Alamilla also had managed the zoo's accessibility program for children with disabilities, arranging internships and volunteer opportunities, Strahl added.

"She was a remarkable woman with a huge heart that would reach almost anybody at any level," Strahl said. "Her passing is a great loss."

Brookfield Zoo made grief counselors available to employees and set up a memorial fund in Tara Aramilla's name to enhance the institution's education efforts.

DuPage County, IL State's Attorney Joe Birkett said that "Tragically, Tara's life was taken on the birthday of her youngest child. The heartbreaking, senseless loss of life in this case is compounded because it involves three young children who have lost their mother and now see their father accused of taking her life."

DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan set Ian's bail at $2 million.

10 signs you're dating a socipath (by Lovefraud)

If your new romantic interest exhibits all or most of the following behaviors, be careful. He or she might be a sociopath.

1. Charisma and charm. They’re smooth talkers, always have an answer, never miss a beat. They seem to be very exciting.

2. Enormous ego. They act like the smartest, richest or most successful people around. They may actually come out and tell you that.

3. Overly attentive. They call, text and e-mail constantly. They want to be with you every moment. They resent time you spend with your family and friends.

4. Jekyll and Hyde personality. One minute they love you; the next minute they hate you. Their personality changes like flipping a switch.

5. Blame others. Nothing is ever their fault. They always have an excuse. Someone else causes their problems.

6. Lies and gaps in the story. You ask questions, and the answers are vague. They tell stupid lies. They tell outrageous lies. They lie when they’d make out better telling the truth.

7. Intense eye contact. Call it the predatory stare. If you get a chill down your spine when they look at you, pay attention.

8. Move fast. They quickly proclaim that you’re their true love and soul mate. They want to move in together or get married quickly.

9. Pity play. They appeal to your sympathy. They want you to feel sorry for their abusive childhood, psychotic ex, incurable disease or financial setbacks.

10. Sexual magnetism. If you feel intense attraction, if your physical relationship is unbelievable, it may be their excess testosterone.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Molest victim shoots attacker, pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter

A Fort Bragg, CA man who shot his alleged molester pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter April 6 in a case where he is considered a folk hero. 32 year old Aaron Vargas, allegedly victimized from ages 11 to 28 by his former next-door neighbor, faces a maximum of a decade in prison for shooting 63 year old Darrell McNeill in February 2009.

He told [his family] McNeill began molesting him while they were on a fishing trip when Vargas was 11 years old. McNeill continued to psychologically harass Vargas into adulthood, the Vargas family said.

McNeill would drop by the house Vargas shared with his fiancee at all hours, call frequently and ask to baby-sit Vargas’ newborn daughter, his sister [Mindy Galliani] said. Galliani believes her brother snapped on the night he drove to NcNeill’s home outside of Fort Bragg carrying a .44 caliber cap and ball pistol.

The men argued and Vargas shot McNeill once in the chest, then stayed at the home for 20 minutes to make sure he was dead, preventing Liz McNeill from phoning for help, law enforcement officers said. After the shooting, Vargas disassembled the gun and divulged his accusations for the first time.

Liz McNeill and her sons have written letters urging Humboldt County, CA prosecutors to charge Vargas with lesser charges that murder, and according to Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Norman and Vargas’ attorney, Tom Hudson. Three men and a woman contacted the DA's office alleging molestation by McNeill, and Norman said the plea agreement was “a fair resolution in light of all the facts.”

Vargas has became a celebrity of sorts since his arrest immediately after the killing. His sister’s unflagging outreach efforts garnered nationwide media attention and support from the Fort Bragg community and beyond for Vargas, who many consider to be the victim in this case.

More than 2,000 people signed an online petition seeking a reduction in the charges or dismissal of the case. A dozen people claim McNeill also molested them, said Vargas’ sister, Mindy Galliani.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ron Brown took into account the plea of the victim's family in accepting the plea agreement, but not the public support for Vargas, shown by a petition urging charges be dropped. “That is the reason we’re not guided by public opinion,” Judge Brown said.

Brown will sentence Vargas after an April 20 stipulated facts hearing. There is a chance that Vargas can be sentenced to more than 10 years by Judge Brown. Voluntary manslaughter carries a 21 year maximum sentence, and Vargas can retract his plea if Brown sentences him to 10-21 years.

Yale bans professor/undergraduate sex on campus

Yale professors won't be able to have sex with any undergraduate students on campus anymore. The policy, floated since 1983 by Yale Deputy Provost Charles Long, prohibits professors from any romantic relationship with any undergraduate student, not just those with students under their “direct pedagogical or supervisory responsibilities.”

The previous policy is still in place regarding professional/ graduate student and graduate/undergraduate relationships. Yale professionals, who thought such a policy was already in place, were consulted and gave positive feedback.

Such a policy was floated in the past, but nixed due to women students feeling that it would be paternalistic. Yale wanted one policy to cover all relationships. The policy now says undergraduates “are particularly vulnerable to the unequal institutional power inherent in the teacher-student relationship and the potential for coercion, because of their age and relative lack of maturity.”

British man gets 25 to life sentence for running over wife for insurance policy

A cheating husband killed his wife 'in cold blood' after secretly taking out a £250,000 insurance policy on her life. Christopher Daffin, 43, ran down his wife Colette as she walked to work in the early morning.

He claimed he killed her in the heat of the moment, but Daffin is beginning a 25-year jail sentence for her murder. The electrician, who had been spotted 'lurking' in bushes nearby wearing dark clothing and sunglasses, had tried to make the tragedy look like a hit and run accident.

Minutes after the killing on July 8, he feigned surprise when one of his wife's colleagues rang to say she had not arrived at work at 6am. But detectives began to suspect him when he showed a lack of concern on learning his wife of 15 years had been killed in a road accident.
Police later discovered Daffin had allegedly been involved in an 'on-off' affair for at least two years, with a woman he met while working at her home. It also emerged he had forged his 43-year-old wife's signature on a £250,000 life insurance policy a year before her death. He then bought the 4x4 car used in the killing under a false name, never registering, taxing or insuring it.

Nottingham Crown Court was told Daffin claimed he had killed his wife in the heat of the moment after a blazing row. But prosecutors said it was a premeditated killing. Judge Jonathan Teare agreed, telling Daffin the murder was planned and carried out in 'cold, and not hot blood'. The judge was told how the electrician had 'lain in wait' for Mrs Daffin as she walked to work as a breakfast waitress at the Ringwood Hall Hotel near Chesterfield.

Nirmal Shant QC, prosecuting, told the court he used a Vauxhall Frontera bought in secret using a false name nine months earlier. Mrs Shant said a motorist travelling 80 yards behind Daffin watched as he swerved on to the pavement and hit Mrs Daffin before driving back on to the road without braking. Mrs Daffin was struck at about 30mph and dragged a short distance before being thrown clear of the car. She died of head injuries.

Her husband then drove to a derelict pub and abandoned the 4x4 vehicle before walking to the van he used for work and driving home. Before police arrived at the family home in Chesterfield, Daffin changed out of the clothes he had been spotted in earlier. But they were later found in a bag in his van, along with the registration document for the Frontera.

Mrs Shant said a year before murdering his wife, Daffin had taken out a life insurance policy in her name, forging her signature on the application form.

Judge Teare told him that although killing her may not have been his motive for taking out the policy, it was 'certainly in his mind'. He added: 'It was taken out at a time when you were having an active affair with another woman. 'I am satisfied it was in your mind that £250,000 would be coming your way if your wife died and no blame was attached to you.'

The court heard that Mrs Daffin confided in a friend two months before she died that she suspected her husband of having an affair. He had also threatened to kill her by running her over 'when there was no one there', the friend, Marie Shepherd, told the court.

Miss Shepherd said she tried to reassure Mrs Daffin that her husband must have been 'messing about' and asked her how he would get away with it 'with all the forensics'. But Mrs Daffin replied: 'Apparently he's got another car.'
Daffin was jailed for life and told he must serve at least 25 years before being eligible for release. Mrs Daffin's father, John Oliver, said: 'I'm satisfied with the sentence, but there are no winners in this case. I'd have been in favour of capital punishment - I don't see why the taxpayer should keep him for 25 years.'

Daffin was sentenced April 8.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Female coach charged with sexual relationship with female student - pleads guilty, sentenced to 6 months in jail

(Original Post 9-8-09)
A 17 year veteran of Xenia [OH] High School has been charged with 3 counts of sexual battery for a two month "relationship" she had with a player on a team she coached. Xenia police Capt. Scott Anger, the 42 year old Osbourne was charged with three counts of sexual battery, a 3rd degree offense, for off campus incidents with a 17 year old volleyball player on July 1 and September 2. According to the probable cause warrant, Osbourne “admitted to having engaged in sexual conduct with the minor child.”

The long time counselor and girls' vollyeball coach has been put on paid leave pending the outcome of the case.

Osborne, a 17-year veteran, has a personnel file full of positive performance reviews and glowing letters of recommendation from past students, fellow teachers and administrators.

“When a longtime counselor retired (in 2007), the hiring for that spot was very competitive,” [Xenia Schools Superintendent Jeff] Lewis said. “We had three female counselors, and I really hoped to hire a man. But (Osborne) just outshone everyone, and her hiring was unanimous.”

First-year Xenia High School Principal Ted Holop addressed students Friday and sent a message to parents.

Lewis said that there have been no complaints against Osbourne, but that “It was just shocking — we’re very saddened and embarrassed by this. I feel empathy for her, but I’m also angry because this is a breach of our trust.”

Osbourne, arrested Thursday, September 3, posted a $7500 bond Friday. A grand jury case hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. Sexual battery is a 3rd degree felony in Ohio with a 1 to 5 years prison sentence. Teachers convicted of such crimes must register as a Tier 3 sex offender for life.

(Update 4-10-10) Osborne changed her plea in a Greene County, OH courtroom to guilty on March 30, 2010. In exchange, prosecutors dropped two out of three charges of sexual battery and recommend that her teaching certificate be revoked.

Prosecutor Nicole Burke's comments are below:

"The victim is under the age of 18 and she's had a pretty rough time while the case was going on. She's finally got some closure, some vindication that this did happen and Brenda took responsibility for that. She was in a position of trust, dealing with children under the age of 18. She took advantage of that position and we feel she shouldn't be in that position ever again."

Osborne will be sentenced June 30.

(Update 6-30-10) Osborne was sentenced earlier today to 6 months in jail, years of probation and sexual predator registration for the rest of her life every 90 days. Greene County Judge Stephen A. Wolaver presided over her trial.

Prosecutor Nicole Burke said,  "[The victim's] entire senior year was pretty much destroyed. She had to literally hide in a place where she should have felt safe. Yes, Brenda Osborne was punished, but she deserved to be punished." Defense attorney Richard Skelton said,  "If you're a teacher, don't have an inappropriate relationship with a student. It's that simple. You'll pay the price if you do." Apparently, support from the community expressed through letters received to Judge Wolaver affected her sentence, as he said, "Your council [sic] provided me with dozens of letters on your behalf. This tells me a lot about who you are."

Jurors recommend death for California serial killer, judge grants request

(Original Post 3-10-10)


SANTA ANA – Courtroom spectators applauded Tuesday when an Orange County jury recommended that serial killer Rodney James Alcala be put to death for five sexual assault and torture murders committed in the 1970s.

Alcala, who represented himself during the eight-week trial, did not look at the jury as the verdict was announced after just an hour of deliberations. He stared down at the counsel table with no outward sign of emotion.

But family members of murder victims pumped their fists and cheered.

Robert Samsoe, the older bother of victim Robin Samsoe – a junior high school student who was kidnapped while on the way to ballet lessons on June 20, 1979 – raised his fist and shouted "Yes! Yes!" Robin was Alcala's last victim.

"It's a great feeling that Robin did not die in vain," Robert Samsoe told reporters later. "We got a monster off the streets for good today."

Dedee Parenteau, the sister of murder victim Jill Parenteau, who was raped, tortured and strangled in her Burbank apartment a week before Samsoe was murdered, smiled and raised her fist when the verdict was announced.

"I'll never have Jill back, but I do feel a sense of relief," she said. "I'm happy for Jill and the other girls that they got justice today."

And Anne Michelena, the sister of murder victim Georgia Wixted, smiled and accepted congratulations from friends in the courtroom. "I've waited 33 years for this," she said. "It was really hard to hear what happened to my sister, but this feels like a sense of relief."

Judge Francisco P. Briseno politely reprimanded the spectators – mostly family members of victims – after the spontaneous applause when the verdict was announced. "Remember you are in Superior Court," he said. "Please keep your composure."

Briseno said he will schedule Alcala's sentencing date on Wednesday.

The same jury convicted Alcala last week of five counts of first-degree murder, plus the special circumstances of committing multiple murders, murders during the course of sexual assault and torture, and murder during a kidnapping.

Those special circumstances findings triggered the penalty phase, where the jury's only choice was the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jurors said later they had little difficulty making that decision.

The jury foreman, who gave his name as Jeff, said, "These were horrendous crimes. ... There was an overwhelming feeling to render a verdict of justice to show our sympathies to the families."

Juror Greg Lacey, 63, spoke to some family members of the victims. "I'm a father and a husband," he told them. "Seeing you gave us the strength to do our duty."

It was the third time that Alcala has heard a jury condemn him to death.

He was tried twice, convicted twice and sentenced to death twice before in the Samsoe case, but both of those convictions were reversed on appeal.

Before he could be tried a third time for Samsoe's death, he was linked by DNA and other forensic evidence to the sexual assaults and torture murders of the four women in Los Angeles. Those cases were merged into one trial in Orange County.

Earlier Tuesday, Alcala played lyrics from the 1960s song "Alice's Restaurant" during his 13 minutes summation and told his jurors that they would become "de facto killers" if he is executed.

Alcala told jurors that a verdict of life in prison without the possibility of parole "would end this matter now" and would provide closure to the family members of his five victims. But if jurors decided that death was the appropriate penalty, they would "instantly become wannabe killers in waiting," he said.

One juror, who gave his name as Vic, told reporters that Alcala's argument was "very insulting. He basically called us killers."

Alcala took the rare step of representing himself during the eight-week trial. He presented no evidence in the brutal Los Angeles County murders of Jill Barcomb, 18, in November, 1977; George Wixted, 27, in December 1977; Charlotte Lamb, 32, in June 1978, and Jill Parenteau, 21, on June 14, 1979.

But he continued to insist that he did not kidnap or murder Robin Samsoe, an always-smiling junior high schooler who was kidnapped as she pedaled a friend's bicycle to ballet practice on June 20, 1979. Her decomposing remains were found 12 days later in the foothills of Los Angeles County not far from Alcala's home in Monterey Park.

Alcala quickly became a suspect in the Samsoe case in 1979 when his parole officer reported to Huntington Beach Police detectives that he bore an uncanny resemblance to a police artist's composite sketch of a man in his mid-30s who talked the 12-year-old girl into posing for photos a few minutes before she went missing.

Detectives learned that Alcala held himself out as a freelance photographer and that he was in the vicinity of the beach at 14th Street where the photo incident took place. Several other young girls then came forward and identified Alcala as the photographer.

He was arrested on July 24, 1979, and has been in custody ever since, either awaiting trial or on Death Row at San Quentin Prison before his convictions were reversed.

During the investigation, detectives found dozens of photographs of young women at Alcala's home in Monterey Park and in a storage locker in Seattle. They also discovered a pouch of jewelry in that storage locker that contained gold ball earrings that Robin Samsoe's mother identified as hers.

Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy argued that Alcala was a predatory monster who sought out young women to kill because he enjoyed it, and that he sometimes kept the earrings of his victims as trophies.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, forensic examiners determined that the DNA from Charlotte Lamb – one of his Los Angeles victims – was on rose-shaped earring that were found in the same pouch as the earring belonging to Robin Samsoe.

Marianne Connelly, Robin Samsoe's mother, arrived at the courthouse about an hour after the verdict was announced. She hugged her two sons, who have attended almost every minute of the third trial, and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, and trial prosecutors Murphy and Gina Satriano. "I am just delighted with the verdict," she said, near tears. "Three times going through this is enough. Hopefully, we'll never have to do this again."

(Update 4-10-10) On Tuesday, March 30, Alcala was sentenced to death in an Orange County, CA courtroom.  Judge Francisco Briseno for the deaths of 4 victims and a teenage girl. Briseno said that Alcala's posing of bodies after death indicated that "sadistic sexual motives" were the root cause of the rape-slayings, and that he had an "abnormal interest in young girls."

Student, secret porn star, murdered, body found, killer convicted, sentenced to life without parole

This story, originally written on December 1st,2007, is about the murder and discovery of the body of Emily Sander, better known as Zoey Zane. It has been taken from the MSNBC website.

The identification of the body of Emily Sander, 18, was confirmed by a forensic orthodontist, El Dorado Police Chief Tom Boren said. The body was released to Sander's family after forensic examinations and an autopsy. The results of that examination and the cause of death were sealed by the county attorney's office, and police would not release details about the cause of death.

Police also said Saturday they were re-interviewing witnesses, family and associates of suspect Israel Mireles, 24 and his pregnant 16-year-old girlfriend. They said his whereabouts were still unknown, but they believed she was still with him. Sander, 18, disappeared late Nov. 23 after leaving a bar with Mireles outside El Dorado, and police labeled Mireles a suspect in her disappearance.

The body was found Thursday about 50 miles east of El Dorado, along U.S. 54 near the Woodson County town of Toronto. Close to the body, investigators found a bedspread that had been missing from Mireles' El Dorado motel room, Boren said. Investigators found a large amount of blood in the room.

Sander's case drew wide attention after it was revealed that she appeared on a popular adult Web site under the name Zoey Zane. In some photographs, she appears merely scantily clad in lingerie or cowgirl outfits. Other pictures, some of which require viewers to pay for, are more explicit, showing her nude, fondling herself and posing with other women.

Mireles' girlfriend is seven months pregnant. Investigators think she remains with Mireles "on her own volition, but investigators fear for her continued welfare, as well as that of her unborn child," Boren said in a statement Friday.

The rental car the pair were driving was found abandoned Tuesday in Vernon, Texas, where Mireles has relatives. Sander's grandfather, Clem Sander of El Dorado, said Friday afternoon that relatives had begun preparing funeral arrangements.

Update: (12-22-07)
Mireles has been found, and charged with the rape and murder of college student (and secret porn star) Emily Sanders. Formal charges include capital murder, rape, and aggravated criminal sodomy. Mireles had been traveling with his 16 year old girlfriend Victoria Martens, who was found unharmed. The couple was found in Melchior Muzquiz, Mexico. Under an extradition agreement, Mireles will not face the death penalty for crimes against Sanders. Mireles will also face aggravated indecent liberties with a child for thew sexual relationship with Martens.
Cops: Found Body Is Missing Student

Update (8-20-09)
After Mireles' preliminary hearing on Tuesday, August 18, Kansas Attorney General Steve Six laid out the reasons why Mireles should get a November 2 trial date. These reasons include the brutality of the attack when Sanders was raped and killed.

On Nov. 30, 2007, coroner Jaime Oeberst conducted the Sander autopsy. She found that the two entrance stab wounds had actually caused four perforations in the chest, meaning the weapon had been plunged in more than once in each spot.

Sander had been strangled; she had two phone cords around her neck.
Blunt-force injuries had caused her brain to swell. She had circular-pattern injuries that could be consistent with being struck with one of the beer bottles found in the motel room and an abrasion on one of her breasts that was consistent with a bite mark.

Oeberst also found that Sander had extensive sexual assault injuries. Diane Schunn, an expert on sexual assaults, also examined Sander and would later testify that she had never seen such extensive injuries.

Also, the background of Sanders' last night was explained by prosecutors.

(Update 2-14-10) After a 4 day trial with graphic testimony and 75 minutes of deliberation, Mireles was convicted Friday, February 12 afternoon of capital murder. Mireles made a flimsy defense about how a "mystery guy" robbed him, stayed in the motel room with Sanders, stabbed and raped her while Mireles was driving on the streets. The Kansas Attorney General personally prosecuted this case and cross-examined Mireles after he took the stand in his defense.

"So the guy came and attacked you, tried to get your money, and you just leave him there with Emily and all your stuff?" Kansas Attorney General Steve Six asked on cross-examination. "I just left," Mireles said.
"Did you tell anyone when you were coming back... or if you were coming back?" Six pressed. "No," Mireles said.

"This mystery guy didn't know if you were going to get the police... or go to the Retreat (bar) and get some friends" and return? "No," Mireles said.

Six also went over other details of Mireles' story. Mireles said he was so panicked he grabbed a knife that had Sander's blood on it —"the murder weapon," Six called it — and Sander's body, put them in the trunk of his car and later disposed of the body.

Mireles said that was correct. "Does this make any sense to you?" Six asked. "None of it makes any sense to me," Mireles said.
The savage abuse Sander suffered in her death didn't make sense to Six.

This abuse included two stab wounds which went in so deep into Sander's body that they left both entry and exit wounds, a brutal rape at knifepoint, and sodomy with a toilet plunger handle. A crime scene technician described the murder scene Tuesday, February 9.

Crime-scene investigator David Klamm said he spent two days working with a team to collect evidence from an El Dorado motel room where Israel Mireles had been staying. "Ms. Sander had been reported missing, and we had a bloody room," he said. "But we had to see if there was some connection."

Emily Sander, 18, had been missing for two days, when Klamm arrived at the El Dorado motel. Inside were blood-soaked bed sheets, carpet, splatters on chairs and articles of clothing, including a woman's bra.

Klamm found blood stains on the floor and on the handle of a toilet plunger nearby, lying underneath the front window and by the door to the room. There also was blood splattered across the arms of chairs underneath the window. From his training, Klamm recognized the spots on the chair as a "flow pattern," which means it fell from the source.

The phone jack lay nearby, ripped from the wall, Klamm testified today in Mireles' murder trial. Klamm also found a 9-inch piece of phone cord on the floor. It had blood on it, too. Blood seemed to cover the room, when the owner of the motel first looked inside the room.The broken window first drew the attention of I.C. Patel.

The victim's mother, Clara Biedinger, made this statement moments after the guilty verdict was announced.

"When I kissed her good-bye, I promised her we'd get him. And we did. We got him today...He won't ever hurt anyone else," she said. The mother's final kiss of her daughter took place at the morgue. Mireles will be sentenced March 31 by Butler County District Judge David Ricke.

(Update 4-10-10) Ten days ago, Judge Ricke sentenced Mireles to life without parole plus 203 months for his crimes. “The disrespect in which you treated Emily Sander in your short dealings with her was and is appalling,” he said as he passed sentence.

Sander's mother and father were in attendance, but her grandfather, Clem Sander and uncle Brent Blaine gave victim impact statements before the criminal judgement.

 "What you did was more like a savage animal, rather than a human being," Clem Sander said. Brent Blaine contrasted his niece's strong will with the cowardly acts of Mireles. "Her will was not broken that night, but you are still a pathetic little man." Mireles said nothing in mitigation.

Kansas DA Steve Six, who personally prosecuted the case, said “This is one of the most cruel and heinous cases my office has seen in some time. Our prayers are with Emily Sander’s family as they continue to grieve.”