Friday, August 27, 2010

Montgomery Township high school teacher sentenced to county prison for abuse of homeroom student

A former Pennsylvania teacher has received a 1 to 23 month prison sentence in the Montgomery County (PA) prison for having sex with a 17 year old boy in her class. 37 year old Heather Zeo plead guilty to misdemeanor corruption of minors charges in exchange for a 1 to 23 month sentence at the county prison.

Zeo allegedly initiated the affair with the teenage boy by sending him a “friend request” from her Facebook page at the end of April 2009, according to court papers. He and another 17-year-old boy communicated with Zeo on the Internet social networking site. Both were in her 11th grade homeroom class, according to DA Risa Vetri Ferman.

Though the other student allegedly had conversations of a sexual nature with Zeo, he told investigators he didn’t have sex with her. The student involved in the affair allegedly “made out” with the woman a half-dozen times in her homeroom class, E-139, during the second and fourth periods when no one else was there, according to the affidavit. At some point during the affair, Zeo told him that rumors were circulating about her and another student.

Despite the rumors, Zeo and the boy continued their relationship. During the second week of May, 2009, they had a heavy petting session at a Montgomery Township strip mall. During a second meeting a few days later at the same place, Zeo and her victim had full sexual intercourse.
Because Pennsylvania's age of consent is normally 16, Ferman explained that Zeo was prosecuted because she abused her position of trust in the community. “The big deal is we’re dealing with a teacher, and teacher is in a unique position of trust and authority in both the school and community. We send our children to school to learn math, science and reading, but we don’t expect them to be taught in adult areas. We don’t expect them to be taught about sexual relationships.”

German girl band singer sentenced to community service, suspended 2 year sentence for infecting "lover"

A German court has given pop singer Nadja Benaissa a two-year suspended sentence for having unprotected sex while failing to tell her sexual partners she was HIV positive.

The 28-year-old Benaissa is a member of the popular girl band No Angels. She discovered she was HIV positive in 1999 when she was three months pregnant. She was arrested in April 2009 for having unprotected sex with three men in 2004 and 2006 and failing to inform them of her HIV status. To do so can be classified as aggravated assault under German law.

Both the state prosecutor Peter Liesenfeld and her defense had asked the courts for the suspended sentence in the trial, which ended on Wednesday. Liesenfeld cited her confession and her expression of remorse as reasons for lighter sentence "I made a huge mistake," Benaissa said in an emotional apology during the closing arguments.

"I am sorry from the bottom of my heart," she said. "I would love to turn back the clock, but I can't."

But the 34-year-old man she infected with HIV gave an angry testimony during the trial, saying she had caused "a lot of suffering in this world." Because she and the man both have a strain of the virus that is relatively rare in Germany, medical experts had determined the man had almost certainly been infected by Benaissa.

She was also convicted of attempted aggravated assault for having unprotected sex with another man who did not contract the virus.She said she was afraid that her career would be negatively impacted if it became public that she is HIV positive.

Instead of jail time, the pop star is expected to complete 300 hours of community service and attend regular counseling sessions. No Angels, which first formed in 2000 and got back together in 2007 after a brief break, are expected to restart their tour. That tour was interrupted last year when Benaissa was arrested just before performing in Frankfurt.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Maria Lauterbach's killer sentenced to life without parole

(Originally Posted 1-12-08)

Maria Lauterbach, a 20 year old Marine who was 8 months pregnant, was found murdered yesterday in North Carolina along with her fetus after her disappearance December 19th. She last spoke to her mother December 14th and her car was found a week ago (January 7th). Yesterday, remains of a woman and her fetus were found in the primary suspect's home, that of another Marine she suspected of rape in April last year. The idea that the baby was the rape suspect's is plausible.

The suspect in her murder, Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean 21, was accused of rape by Maria, and she was scheduled to testify against Laurean at a military hearing.

While Maria's mother described her as a liar, her uncle, Peter Steiner, described the pregnancy as due to the alleged rape, and maintained that the Marines did not protect his niece. When her car was found, a military protective order, similar to a restraining order, was found, but civilian officials said they were never notified. The order, which lasted from July to September, stated Laurean could not come within 1000 feet of Maria.

The Jacksonville (NC) Daily News has more.

Civilian investigators have said a military protective order — similar to a restraining order, but authorized by the commanding officer in charge of the Marine being restrained — existed for a pregnant Marine against the Marine accused of killing her, but they were never made aware of it by anyone from Camp Lejeune.

Paul Chiccarelli, special agent in charge of Naval Criminal Investigative Service aboard Camp Lejeune, said the "crucial information that brought the turn in the case came through the base," adding the base had been very cooperative throughout the investigation. Chiccarelli said Laurean was not taken into custody after Lauterbach reported the alleged rape because there were indications that Lauterbach and Laurean carried on "some sort of friendly relationship" after she filed the complaint against him.

Chiccarelli said Laurean had not been considered a flight risk after the Lauterbach disappearance.

Laurean ended up fleeing at around 4AM Friday, and is currently on the run. He is believed to be in either Louisiana or Texas as of 6:30 PM Sunday.

Lauterbach's uncle, Peter Steiner, a psychiatrist who lives in Louisville, Ky., and had been in Jacksonville in the past week looking into his niece's disappearance, said his niece called her uncle's home at least twice a week, because they were very close. "She was a very beautiful, athletic young lady. She volunteered to join the Marine Corps. She was very committed to the Marines, and she is being portrayed in a way that does not look well."

Because of the widespread coverage, Victimized Over The AOC will link to sources which provide more in-depth coverage of this story.

Holly's Fight Against Violence, a Canada-centric blog against violence against women, has this tribute to the young Marine.

The Jacksonville, NC Daily News has this special section related to coverage of her disappearance and murder.
Update (1-15-08): According to the autopsy report, Maria Lauterbach died of blunt trauma to the head, putting to rest all doubt about her murder. There was a note written by Lauren claiming that she committed suicide by slitting her throat. Laurean is said to be in hiding, and not actively on the run.

"It is believed that he has reached a location where his need to move in high speed or long distance no longer exists,” said Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown. A $25,000 reward has been postedfor information leading to Laurean's arrest.

Update (1-18-08): Marine officials did not believe that Lauterbach was the victim of foul play until she was found dead. Mrs. Laurean waited 24 hours before reporting Lauterbach's death to authorities, and an item, believed to be a crowbar, suspected as being the murder weapon, was recovered after being turned in by a witness. Police found Laurean's truck, and are going over evidence inside it.

“We believe that we have an item that may have been used in the murder of Maria Lauterbach,” Sheriff’s Department Capt. Rick Sutherland said. “It is consistent with what the Medical Examiner believes is the cause of death. We have not confirmed what this item is.”

Laurean is now believed to be in Mexico, where he allegedly told fellow Marines and his wife he would flee to if convicted in the rape.

The FBI filed court documents this week stating Laurean told members of his Marine Corps unit he would flee to Mexico if it appeared he would be found guilty of raping Lauterbach. Laurean's wife, Christina Laurean, also told authorities she believed her husband would head to Mexico if he was in legal trouble. Laurean is reported to have mailed letters back to his wife in North Carolina, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The letters had a Houston postmark, the AP reported.

"We strongly suspect, but have not confirmed, that Laurean may be in Mexico," said FBI spokesman Richard Kolko in Washington. "We have a strong working relationship with law enforcement partners in Mexico, and we're working with them to locate and apprehend him." In addition to the original charges of first-degree murder, bank card theft and obtaining property by false pretense, Laurean has been charged by the FBI with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
(Update 4-11-08)

Laurean has been captured in Morelia, capital of the Mexican state of Michoacan. Besides murder, charges include theft, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and fraud. Police carrying out an anti-kidnapping operation stopped Laurean because he was acting suspicious, and then ran him through a criminal database. It is believe that Laurean used Lauterbach's ATM card to with draw funds for his flight to Mexico, which according to prosecutors occured January 14.

U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza said in a statement that “Laurean fled to Mexico early this year in the hope of avoiding justice” and called the arrest “a clear message to all would-be fugitives from U.S. law that Mexico will not provide them refuge.”

Prosecutors dropped the death penalty as the maximum sentence to secure Laurean's extradiction.

Phone messages seeking comment left at Lauterbach’s parents’ home in Vandalia, Ohio, with Lauterbach’s uncle Pete Steiner, and with family attorney Chris Conard were not immediately returned late Thursday.

Another family attorney, Merle Wilberding, said Lauterbach’s mother, Mary, received the call from the FBI informing her of the arrest with “shock and surprise.”

“She’s been living with Cpl. Laurean being on the run ... and living without an expectation that he was going to be captured any time soon, so when the word came it really caught her by surprise, and she’s still trying to let it all sink in,” Wilberding told WDTN-TV in Dayton, Ohio.
(Update 4-20-09) Laurean was formally extradicted back to North Carolina from Mexico last Friday. Earlier today, he was in court for a bond hearing in Onslow County District Court. The hearing, presided over by Judge Paul A. Hardison, enede with Laurean being denied bond. His next court appearence will be May 18. Official charges include 1st degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and numerous theft related charges.

(Update 8-24-10) Laurean was convicted by a jury after three hours of deliberation of bludgeoning Lauterbach to death and immediately sentenced to life without parole. The trial was moved to Wayne County, NC from Onslow County due to pre-trial publicity. Besides the 1st degree murder charge, Laurean was also convicted of theft and fraud by using Lauterbach's ATM card.

During closing arguments, Chief Assistant District Attorney Ernie Lee talked about the 4 weeks between when the victim's mother last saw her daughter and when Lauterbach's body was found in a burn pit. “On Jan. 11, 2008, Mary Lauterbach’s nightmare became a reality when her daughter’s body was found buried in the defendant’s backyard,” Lee said. Lee went on to say how Laurean's career was at stake, since sex with a subordinate is a crime in the Marine Corps.  Despite the DNA test showing that Laurean was not the father of Lauterbach's unborn child, “as long as Maria Lauterbach was still out there he could not [be a good Marine].”

Meanwhile, Lauterbach's defense attorney, Dick McNeil, said that his client should not be convicted of 1st degree murder because Laurean's wife, Christina, also had motive. Texts and computer records make no record of Laurean and Lauterbach being in contact between the rape allegation and the murder. Laurean was eventually cleared of that rape allegation.

McNeil painted his client as a panicked Marine who was at home minding his own business when a troubled, distraught woman came to his door in violation of a protective order. McNeil says he questioned Lauterbach’s truthfulness during the trial, not to degrade her reputation, but to show she was depressed and confused.

Before sentencing but after the verdict, Maria Lauterbach told Laurean to look at his mother and think of his daughter. “I feel so sorry for your daughter. She will have to live with the shame that her father is in prison for murdering not one but two people,” she said.
McNeil said that he planned to appeal the verdict.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Iraq vet who killed wife gets 14 1/3 years in prison

A wife-killing Iraq veteran was sentenced to 14 1/3 years for the February 18 strangulation murder of mother-of-one Winter Plummer.  Sheldon Plummer, 28 was sentenced Friday, August 20 in accordance with a plea agreement which capped his sentenced at 14 years 4 months. According to the July 21 plea agreement, Sheldon strangled his wife to death in their Lacey, WA apartment. The supposed reason for the murder was in self-defense after the victim attacked him with a knife.

Thurston County sheriff’s detectives began investigating Winter Plummer’s disappearance April 18, after one of Sheldon Plummer’s friends, also an Army soldier, called the sheriff’s office to say Sheldon Plummer had called him and “wanted advice on how to dispose of a body,” court papers state.

When detectives spoke to Sheldon Plummer, he said that about a month earlier, his wife had packed three suitcases and left after an argument.But Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Mealy has said that Plummer’s timeline of when his wife left was inconsistent.

Detectives later found that Plummer had pawned his wife’s jewelry. Detectives also thought it was suspicious that Winter Plummer’s car still was parked at the apartment complex at The Villages at Nisqually Ridge Apartments. And they found it odd that she would abandon her daughter.

A prosecutor later said Plummer had disposed of some of his wife’s belongings to make it appear as though she had left. Sheldon Plummer even sent text messages from her cell phone to her family members in Arizona in an effort to make them think she was alive.

After detectives initially interviewed Sheldon Plummer, he removed his wife’s body from a storage unit and placed it in his garage, court papers state. Soon thereafter, he admitted to killing his wife. He told detectives he acted in self-defense after she attacked him with a knife during an argument, court papers state. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jodilyn Erikson-Muldrew said in court Friday that the medical evidence contradicted that claim.

The 14 year, 4 month sentence is in the middle of the standard sentencing range for 2nd degree murder without any priors in Washington State. In Florida, 2nd degree murder can carry up to a life without parole sentence. Certain female teachers have been sentenced to more prison time for raping their students, even in Washington.

During an emotional hearing before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy, Winter Plummer’s family members, including her father, Carlos Goseyun, spoke of the loss of their loved one, who grew up on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona and joined the Army to better her life.

Winter Plummer’s grandmother, Andrea Goseyun, broke into tears in court, describing how she taught Winter the Apache language and traditions. She spoke about how Winter was a great athlete, excelling at volleyball, basketball and softball. She also said her granddaughter was an outstanding soldier. “I loved her as much as my own daughter, and today I miss her,” Andrea Goseyun said. “I know that I will never be able to speak to her again.”

Sheldon's attorney, James Dixon, tried to explain his client's murder of Winter Plummer by invoking post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. According to Dixon, his client had done three tours of Iraq, saw many friends become casualties and suffered a concussion in his 1st Iraq tour.  Dixon hired Dr. April Gerlock to write a report on his client. 
Dixon noted that Gerlock’s report says people who suffer from PTSD can experience a “heightened sense of arousal to an actual or perceived threat,” and that they “may respond with aggression in response to that threat.”

In a phone interview Friday, Gerlock cautioned that Plummer’s case is complex. She added that she thinks PTSD contributed to Plummer’s actions. Not all soldiers coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, and most who do never commit violent crimes, Gerlock said. It’s difficult for soldiers to shift from that “hyperawareness of ongoing danger” during combat tours to day-to-day civilian life, she said.

Gerlock also said that soldiers she sees every day minimize their PTSD to continue on with their lives, including careers and families. "We’re doing a lot for the recently deployed, but they have a lot on their plates. It’s tough. It’s so hard on these folks. They’re young, they want to get a family going and they just keep getting deployed.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Woman gets 6-15 years for blasting husband while sleeping

A 48 year old Michigan woman was sentenced on August 11, 2010 to 6-15 years in prison for shooting her husband, a Michigan State trooper, to death. 53 year old Sgt. Melvin Paul Holbrook was killed with gunshot blasts from his service revolver to his body on August 11, 2009. Both lived in the Michigan town of Beulah.

Joni Holbrook shot her husband multiple times as he slept in their Benzie County home, then called 911 and reported the incident. She pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder after agreeing to a last-minute plea deal the day before her jury trial was set to begin.

Joni Holbrook told [Benzie Circuit Judge James]Batzer when she entered her plea that she killed her husband because he subjected her to years of mental, physical and sexual abuse. Batzer later told the Record-Eagle that Holbrook's attorneys had "considerable evidence" she had been sexually battered and abused, and he took that evidence into account for her sentence.

Joni's statement to her victim's family echoed those remarks. ""I am sorry that my actions have taken someone so special away from you," she said. "I don't look at myself as a killer. I look at myself as a survivor."

Joni's attorney Jesse Williams said that the sentenced for her husband's killing, "a matter of self defense," was better than he thought. "The outcome was better than people expected. I didn't know what to expect. This court and this judge gave her a fair shake down."

State police Lt. Bill Elliott, who worked with the victim at the Traverse City post for two decades, said "It's just a very difficult situation. I don't know what the right answer would have been, but I was surprised to hear how lenient the sentence was." The victim's sister, Meleen Froman, said "I just think it's a mockery. I just think it's sad. I'm a little angry now." Froman traveled from Oklahoma to MIchigan for the sentencing.

Judge Batner explained to the detractors of the plea deal why their was a 15 year maximum for Joni's sentencing. "The law is an imperfect vehicle, but it's what we have. I know this sentence is going to be unsatisfactory to parties aligned on both sides. There is nothing that this court can do ... that can make it satisfactory."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Eastpointe, MI woman's killer "boyfriend" sentenced to life without parole

A 48 year old man was sentenced to life without parole Tuesday, August 17 by Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Edward Servitto for bludgeoning then suffocating his baby's mama to death with a vacuum cleaner and trying to hide the body in his car trunk.  Latoya Lowery, 35, was murdered around January 11 after an argument in which 48 year old David Cook struck her in the head with the vacuum cleaner. After she stayed alive, Cook finished her off by suffocating her. Lowery was reported missing January 11, and her body was found January 14. Cook was convicted of  1st degree murder by a jury in July. Cook had two children with Lowery.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Serial rapist sentenced to 30 more years of imprisonment - already serving 80 years

A serial rapist who was sentenced to 80 years in prison for a previous rape conviction was handed another 30 year sentence August 17 in a Chicago courtroom.  Benjamin Johnson, now 44, was sentenced for an attack on a then 21 year old woman in her Wriglyville apartment in March 2006.

The woman, then 21, had just returned to her apartment, in the 600 block of West Addison, when Johnson beat and raped her, [Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Patricia]Shea said. The victim, who said she “feels dirty every day,” still has nightmares and can always hear the sound of her “skull being pounded, Shea said. “I thought I was going to die that night,” Shea said reading from the statement, describing the attack and the woman’s life following it.“. . .Day to day life stopped being fun and started being scary.”

The sentence for this attack will be served consecutively to the 80 year sentence for a May 2006 rape.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Massage therapist sentenced to 4 years 2 months for groping patients

An Oregon City, OR massage therapist was sentenced to four years and two months in prison for fondling vulnerable women. Rick McDaniel, the owner of Soulful Massage Therapy, plead guilty to 2 counts of second-degree sexual abuse in Clackamas County Circuit Court Tuesday, August 10. Originally, McDaniel was charged with 17 counts of 2nd degree sex assault involving 13 women, but most of the counts were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. After a victim videotaped McDaniel admitting the groping and blaming it on sex addiction, he was indicted in March this year.

McDaniel selected particularly vulnerable women -- one had leukemia, another had been raped years earlier, said prosecutor Bill Golden. The women need someone caring to talk to as they tried to "regain a sense of well being and balance," Golden said. Instead, they met a man who used the encounters "for his own gratification," Golden said.

Four victims were present during McDaniel's sentence. The former rape survivor said, "Over time, I opened my heart and revealed my personal history.You can't understand the pain I feel." A second victim stated, "I can't get back what I lost. Now I have hate inside me. You're a very sick person. You're not a man, you're an animal."

After McDaniel had tried to apologize to his victims, Circuit Judge Ronald D. Thom prevented him from doing so. "I think that would be highly inappropriate given the circumstances," said Judge Thom.

Nicaraguan national gets 10 months for sex trafficing of woman

A Nicaraguan national was sentenced to only 10 months in federal prison Monday, August 16 for transporting a woman from Atlanta to Northport, AL for sex work between January 7 and 15 of this year. Donald Castilblanco-Hernandez, 27, was officially convicted of a count of one count of interstate transportation of an individual for prostitution after pleading guilty in late spring. The presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon, also sentenced Castilblanco-Hernandez to 5 years of supervised release and registration as a sex offender.

According to court documents, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement received a tip that a Hispanic man was offering the services of prostitutes at a home on 10th Street in Northport. ICE agents executed a search warrant at the home on Jan. 15. They found a woman and three men inside the house, according to court documents. All of the occupants were determined to be foreign-born nationals unlawfully present in the U.S.

The agents discovered the woman and a man in a back bedroom. The man admitted that he had paid $25 to have sex with the woman. During interviews conducted later, agents discovered that the woman was being paid $15 to have sex with men. They found a suitcase in the bedroom filled with her clothing and 20 condoms that Castilblanco-Hernandez had bought.

Castilblanco-Hernandez was promised the reduced sentence when he plead guilty on June 1, 2010 in exchange for his cooperation with federal authorities, according to Raymond R. Parmer Jr.'This case is a perfect example of the outstanding cooperation between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and state and local law enforcement agencies,' Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent-in-charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in New Orleans, stated in the release.

"Because of such positive inter- agency cooperation, human trafficking and smuggling criminals are discovering how difficult it is for them to hide their illegal activities from authorities. We are dedicated to identifying and dismantling these types of illicit operations wherever and whenever we find them."

After sentencing, US Attorney Joyce White Vance issued this statement.

   Making money off the exploitation and misery of another human being, whether for commercial sex acts or forced labor, is human trafficking and nothing more than modern-day slavery. Prosecuting this type case is how we begin to address the criminal enterprise of human trafficking, which, sadly, is growing in the United States.

   It is a top priority of the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office to forge partnerships among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and victim service providers to identify, investigate and prosecute crimes of human trafficking and reduce the number of people who become enslaved by it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Boston police wants investigation into "Craigslist Killer" suicide

A top Hub official is calling for an independent probe into how alleged Craigslist killer Philip Markoff - Nashua Street Jail’s most infamous inmate - could commit a slow, gruesome suicide, denying his alleged victim’s family justice.

Sheriff Andrea Cabral “failed in her duty to provide care and custody to an inmate awaiting trial, and because of this failure, the Brisman family will never see justice served,” Boston City Councilor Stephen J. Murphy, chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, told the Herald.

Markoff, 24, had been awaiting trial for erotic masseuse Julissa Brisman’s execution in a Back Bay hotel last year when he was found suffocated by a clear plastic shopping bag from the jail’s canteen yesterday morning. The apple-pie handsome former medical student at Boston University had also stabbed himself with a pen, sources said. He was pronounced dead at 10:17 a.m. He had not been checked on all night, sources said.

A spokeswoman for Brisman’s grief-stricken kin said the family is “shocked” and “dismayed” by Markoff’s death. “Their grief for Julissa is as fresh today as the day over a year ago when Markoff took Julissa away from them,” said attorney Djuna Perkins. “The long-awaited criminal prosecution was their only opportunity to confront him, and now he has taken that away as well.”

The shocking demise of the former doc-to-be - who sources said used his medical know-how to try to sever major arteries so he would bleed to death - was preliminarily ruled an “apparent suicide” by authorities on the day after the one-year anniversary of what was to be Markoff’s marriage to New Jersey bombshell Megan McAllister.

Murphy wants Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley to lead his own investigation into how Markoff was able to get away with taking his own life before trial, but a Conley spokesman said the DA is primarily focused on investigating Markoff’s cause of death. “Markoff was alone in his cell, and all evidence collected thus far indicates that he took his own life,” Conley and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis said in a joint statement.

Markoff - who was not on a suicide watch, though had been previously - was to go on trial next March as an accused sex ad-thumbing deviant on a stalking spree of Craigslist advertisers. Officials at the 654-bed maximum security jail did not say how long he may have been dead. Author Kevin Borgeson, a criminology professor at Salem State College, questioned how such a high-profile prisoner could have managed to carry out such a slow, agonizing finish.

“It sounds a little odd to me. It’s strange that he could have gotten that far into the day without somebody noticing,” Borgeson said.

A source familiar with the jail’s routine said Markoff’s metal cell door would have automatically opened for breakfast at about 7 a.m., after which staff should have called upon him for the mandatory morning cleanup of his quarters. “It’s shocking and very saddening,” his defense attorney, John Salsberg, said.

The Craigslist killer case made world headlines after Brisman, 25, a bee-stung-lipped New York actress, turned up shot to death in a room at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. Her skull had been crushed by the butt of a 9mm semiautomatic pistol. Prosecutors said Markoff had answered her online massage ad.

Brisman’s family has asked New Hampshire U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas to investigate State Line Gun Shop in Mason, N.H., where Markoff purchased the weapon used in the crime, Perkins said. She added Markoff purchased the firearm using a driver’s license that belonged to someone else.

“The family hopes that the U.S. Attorney’s office will focus its energies on this investigation now that the criminal prosecution has been foreclosed,” Perkins said.

On April 10, 2009, four days before killing Brisman, prosecutors said an armed Markoff held up Craigslist rent girl Trisha Leffler of Las Vegas at the Westin Hotel. He was also facing charges in Warwick, R.I., for attacking Cynthia Melton, an exotic dancer from Vegas, at the Holiday Inn Express on April 16, 2009.

Prosecutors said Markoff left a ridiculously amateur trail of fingerprints at the crime scenes and secreted the murder weapon in a hollowed-out “Gray’s Anatomy” textbook. They also found in his Quincy apartment four pairs of women’s panties hidden in his bed and plastic ties like those the Craigslist killer used to bind his victims.

David McLean, president of the Jail Officers and Employees Association of Suffolk County, said staffing was not a factor in Markoff’s suicide. “Staffing levels had nothing to do with what happened today,” McLean said. “We’re staffed accordingly 24 hours a day, whether it’s overtime or not.”

Monday, August 16, 2010

Man who held 1st wife hostage in Florida in 1989 sentenced to 55 years for murder of 2nd wife

A man who had been imprisoned 15 years in a Florida prison for kidnapping and holding his first wife and daughter hostage was sentenced to 55 years without parole for killing his second wife. Lake County Circuit Court Theodore Potkonjak sentenced Clarence Weber Thursday, August 12 for the July 5, 2008 stabbing death of his estranged wife Adelina.

Adelina had filed for divorce on June 30, 2008. Weber made multiple trips to the restaurant Adelina worked at between July 1 to July 5 leaving notes to meet, Kalata said. For unknown reasons, Adelina agreed to meet Weber on July 5, 2008. It was at this meeting that Weber stabbed her to death and then fled, [State's Attorney Eric] Kalata said.

Weber has a history of violent behavior against women, Kalata said. In 1989, Weber choked his wife, put a knife to her throat and held their daughter hostage. Weber served 15 years in prison in Florida for the offenses against his first wife, Kalata said. "It was a horrible situation in Florida and it was a horrible situation here. At the center of both horrible situations was Mr. Weber," Potkonjak said.

While Kalata asked for the maximum 60 year sentence, Assistant Public Defender John Bailey said he and his client were "asking for some hope that someday, somehow, Mr. Weber might be released because a long prison sentence is a life sentence because Mr. Weber is 61 years old," Bailey said.

Judge Potkonjak sided with the prosecution and the victim's family, saying that anything closer to the lower end of the sentencing range (20 to 60 years for 1st degree murder in illinois) will" deprecate the seriousness of his actions."

The victim's sister, Cynthia Trujillo, said in her victim impact statement "All the therapy in the world will not stop the tears...It's unbelievable how one person can shatter so many hearts." After the sentence was meted out, she stated,"[the family is] definitely satisfied with the sentence. As long as he's locked up, we'll be better off."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Southport, England man gets 25 to life for rape-slaying of estranged wife

A sex obsessed husband was sentenced to life with a minimum sentence of 25 years imprisonment for raping then strangling his wife. 32 year old Brent Mott was sentenced by Judge Henry Globe, QC in a Liverpool, England courtroom August 11, 2010 for the murder of his 35 year old wife Kate. Mott was convicted by a 9 man, 3 woman jury in Liverpool Crown Court after a 3 week trial and 3 1/2 hours of deliberation.

Judge Globe said, “You murdered her because you couldn't bear to lose her. You murdered her because you couldn't bear to think of her with anyone else. In your own words: ‘The pain of losing her to another bloke was killing you.’ And you murdered her for sex. It was done in circumstances of your heightened sexual frustration borne out of your own twisted obsession towards sex.”

Judge Globe also detailed the “considerable mental suffering” Mrs Mott had endured at the hands of her husband, who told everyone about their lack of physical relationship after she became pregnant with their second child.

After separating in 2009, Mott, who worked alongside his wife at Southport hospital, insisted on moving back into the family home [in Southport, England]. But, just weeks later, in November, 2009, Mrs Mott got a court order banning her husband from entering a make-shift bedroom she had set up in their Everard Road home and harassing her with his sexual behaviour.

But Judge Globe said the injunction “held no fear” for Mott.

On January 20, 2009, Mott came "home" from the pub and raped, then murdered his victim. Mott dressed his wife's nude body, and drove her body to a field where he tried to stage the murder as an accident by burning his car in a Scarisbrick, England field. He also sent texts to his victim's mother and feigned worry for her safety by calling the police, but he was caught 4 months later.

Kate Mott finalized their divorce just hours before her slaying, and gave her husband 2 weeks to leave their house.

Judge Globe said about the victim,

“This was an intelligent, mature woman who had already arranged for the locks to be changed upon your imminent departure, so desperate was she to see you leave. She wouldn't have willingly allowed you to have sexual intercourse with her and risk becoming pregnant in the course of that intercourse.

You came home determined to have sexual intercourse with Kate, come what may. It is inconceivable that she would have suggested having, and would actually have had consensual sex with you in these circumstances. You raped her at or around the time of killing her.”

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Diaper Man" gets house arrest for duping women into feeding, cleaning him

A Port St. John, FL man with a diaper fetish was sentenced to a year of house arrest, four years of (regular) probation, and a mental health evaluation Monday, August 9 by Brevard County Judge Robert Wohn. The Brevard County State Attorney's Office charged 40 year old Sean Kelly of stiffing female caregivers out of money he promised them caring for him. His crimes occurred in 2008 and 2009, and he portrayed himself as a mentally challenged man who was incontinent and had the emotional capacity of a 5 year old. He was officially charged with organized fraud of less than $20,000.

According to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, Kelly sometimes would hire women through postings on He would call them pretending to be the brother of the disabled man who needed care.

Kelly would then show up and pretend to be the man with the disability. The ruse was exposed when a caregiver's husband saw him get into a car and drive off. Lt. Tod Goodyear, who heads the sex crimes unit of the sheriff's office, said he believed Kelly had a fetish where adults want to be fed from bottles and wear diapers. "Online, we have found, there are groups that cater to this kind of fetish," Goodyear said.

One of the victims said that after she was tricked into feeding, bathing and cleaning Kelly, "I have to live with this for the rest of my life, this shame." Prosecutor Don Loughran said that Kelly likely had other victims, "but I think they are too embarrassed to come forward. What this man did was despicable."

During his sentencing, Kelly said that "An apology might not be enough. But . . . for my part, I apologize."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Woman who killed estranged husband recieves life without parole

A Baltimore County teacher was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of her husband Tuesday, August 10. Mary C. Koontz was sentenced to the maximum sentence for the 1st degree murder of her husband, Ronald G. Koontz, who was 66 when murdered. Ronald was a recently retired Baltimore County public school administrator.

The murder was committed on June 19, 2009, at the Koontz home in Glen Arm, Maryland. Mary shot her husband to death with a handgun, then went after her then 16 year old daughter Kelsey. After a 9 day trial and three days of deliberations, she was fouind criminally responsible for the murder of her husband and the attempted murder of now 17 year old daughter Kelsey. The guilty verdict took place July 8.

The defense said Koontz shouldn't be held responsible because she was delusional and had been isolated from her family since 2007 when, after a mental evaluation, she wasn't welcome in the home. Throughout the trial, several doctors testified that Koontz had been diagnosed with several different mental disorders.

A doctor for the defense said she didn't believe that Koontz was faking being mentally ill the day she killed her husband; however another doctor said Koontz was diagnosed with a disorder where she put her needs in front of others, and another said he didn't believe she was psychotic during the incident based on her actions prior to the killing.

When Koontz took the stand in her own defense, she said she didn't mean what she said in the messages.

Koontz said she was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and borderline personality disorder, and she'd been treated for depression since 1991. She said she was in a fog the day her husband was killed, and she told jurors she didn't remember pulling the trigger. Koontz claimed she was also trying to commit suicide. She told jurors her husband was abusive and that he referred to her as damaged and criticized her for a lot of things.

The prosecution said that Mary was deliberate when she planned the attack on her husband and daughter, because she concealed the rental car she used to try and get away and bought the gun ont of state.

During sentencing, Kelsey gave a victim impact statement which ended with "I know if I ever see her face again, my life will be at risk and it will be the last face I ever see." Mary said to Kelsey and her son from a previous marriage that “Words are totally inadequate. You deserve nothing but goodness in your life.”

After Mary received her life without parole sentence, Kelsey said, "I just wanted her to hear how much she hurt me ... Maybe she had bad things happen in her childhood, but it's an individual's responsibility to get help, talk to people, make sure you don't lead the rest of your life down a path of no return...I think that my mom should be a lesson to everyone that no matter what you're going through right now, you can get past it and you can move on. You can be a better person for whatever you're going through in your life."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Moscow, ID man who killed pregnant wife sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison

A man who killed his pregnant teacher wife was sentenced to 40 years in prison with parole eligibility after 20 years a week ago. The sentence runs as follows - 15 years fixed for 2 counts of voluntary manslaughter and 5 to 25 years for a single count of 1st degree arson. Parks plead guilty to the charges last spring. He was sentenced in Latah County Superior Court Tuesday, August 3.

Parks strangled Sarah in June 2009 in their Moscow, ID apartment. After she was murdered, along with her 5 months old fetus, Lilly Ann, Parks set the place on fire to cover up the evidence.

Sarah Parks’ family sat in the same room as the man who killed their beloved sister and daughter. Wearing buttons with her picture, they took the stand to reinforce why he needs to be locked up. Sarah’s sister told the court Silas was someone they had welcomed into their hearts, family, and home. She says she didn’t know there was such evil in the world. Sarah’s mother also took the stand to read dozens of letters from devastated students.

Towards the end of the 4 hour sentencing, Park himself took the stand. He said, “[I] failed utterly at my vows as a husband and I’ve failed as a decent human being. The potential in me to explode is scary. I can hardly believe what I’ve done...I love Sarah, I still love Sarah more than life itself. I deserve whatever this court decides to give...I have no desire but to atone for my unforgivable act."

After the sentencing, the victim's mother, Laura Allen, said that "We're very thankful the justice system has followed through."

Bayonne serial rapist sentenced to 35 years imprisonment

A Bayonne, NJ man was sentenced to 35 years in prison last week, Friday August 6 for a series of sexual attacks on women in late 2001 and early 2002. The attacker, Nealson Connell, was sentenced to 35 years in prison in a Jersey City, NJ courtroom, the maximum sentenced he faced under a plea deal. Connell was caught in August 2008 after his DNA was run through the FBI's CODIS database and found to match the DNA of the attacker in the rapes. He plead guilty March 24, 2010 to four counts of rape (aggravated sexual assault under New Jersey's criminal code.

On Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a now 50-year-old woman was attacked at about 5 a.m. in Journal Square as she walked to the PATH station, Rana said. On Jan. 7, 2002, he raped a now 27-year-old woman in Journal Square as she walked to the PATH station.

Three days later, on Jan. 10, 2002, he sexually assaulted a woman who is now 54 on Kennedy Boulevard near West 24th Street in Bayonne as she walked home from a public laundry, Rana said. She was dragged into the parking garage at Midtown Community School and attacked.

Perhaps the most violent attack was on Feb. 17, 2002, in an industrial area of Newark Connell grabbed a woman on her way to a movie theater and dragged her into a truck yard. Hidden between two trucks, he punched her in the face multiple times before sexually assaulting the woman, who is now 34, Rana said.

Some of the victims were in court during sentencing. The victim of Connell's last attack said that "Even in church, I'm fearful of people behind me waiting to receive communion." A second victim said that "I want him to pay for what he has done. I don't know why he did this to us." A third victim read a letter saying that she "can still feel the repeated bashing of a rock against my face. As I pleaded for my life and said, 'I can't breathe,' he hit me again and I thought I was going to die."
Hudson County Judge Joseph Isabella said that  the crimes Connell committed were the worst he's seen during a decade on the bench. "These are horrific, horrific crimes that have devastated the lives of four women -- horrific. He is a complete sociopath. He certainly does not belong walking in the streets of this community. He beat them mercilessly and raped them. In my 10 years, I have seen a lot but I don't think I've seen worse than this."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jackson Park rapist sentenced to 40 years for attacks

(Original Post 8-23-09)
A convicted Chicago felon was held without bail for allegedly robbing and raping or fondling people at gunpoint who were visiting Jackson Park’s Osaka Japanese Garden. The rapes and robberies took place between June 24 and August 18. Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney George Canellis stated that the suspect, 40 year old Richard Martin often claimed he was robbed before robbing the victims of taking their cell phones, cash, and wallets. He accused some victims of robbing him before some attacks.

In all four attacks, women were either fondled or raped, according to Canellis. Once, Martin told a woman while fondling her that "she must keep money everywhere."

During an attack on Aug. 8, a woman ran to nearby bushes as her male friends, ages 26 and 17, gave Martin a cell phone, $250, a bank card and an ID, Canellis said. He then demanded to know where the woman, 25, went and used a flashlight to locate her. When he found her, he fondled her, Canellis said.

When Martin raped a 23-year-old woman in the June 24 incident, her frightened male friend jumped into a nearby lagoon, Canellis said. This distracted Martin assaulted the woman as she tried to retrieve her wallet, Canellis said. At that point, he told the woman, he “just wanted money anyway,” Canellis said.

Martin’s latest victims were a 50-year-old female and a 52-year-old male who had been walking over a bridge near a lagoon at the Osaka Japanese Garden, prosecutors sid.

Late Tuesday [August 18], he allegedly ordered the two to lie on the ground. Martin went through both victims’ pockets before raping the crying woman, Canellis said. He placed a gun at the woman’s throat when he assaulted her, Canellis said.

Jackson Park is located 7 miles to the south of downtown Chicago on Chicago's lakefront. It is close to the Hyde Park and South Shore neighborhoods.

(Update 8-6-10) Martin pleaded guilty yesterday in Cook County Circuit Court to 5 felonies - 3 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Martin was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment, and will be required to serve 85%,  or 34 years, before release.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Canadian immigration judge sentenced to 1 1/2 years for sexual extortion of immigrant

A Canadian immigration judge was sentenced to 1 1/2 years imprisonment Thursday, July 29 for coercing a sexual relationship with a South Korean refugee. 51 year old Steve Ellis, immigration judge, lawyer, and former Toronto City Counselor, was found guilty of breach of trust and bribery after his guilty verdict on April 21. Ellis heard the case of a then 25 year old South Korean woman in July 2006, and during a meeting rigged by the victim's boyfriend on September 26, 2006 in a Toronto coffee house, said that “I really like you, and I really want to be friends with you.” After dumping his Filipina mistress, he promised the woman, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to be demanding. I’m not going to ask you to move in with me or anything like that. . . . I’m not going to fall in love with you.” The Crown proved that Ellis' "indecision" on the woman's refugee status would become a "yes" if she slept with him.

Ellis' 1 1/2 year sentence was a compromise between the Crown's insistence of a 3 to 3 1/2 year sentence and the defense's wish for probation. Superior Court Justice Thea Herman said that Ellis' sexual extortion “breached the significant trust placed in him and undermined public confidence in Canada’s immigration and refugee system." Herman also said that the principles of denunciation and deterrence are the major factors in breach of trust cases and said that he took advantage of his power over her as a male judge versus a female immigrant who had already been abused by men.

During the guilty verdict, she said, “There is no doubt that Mr. Ellis intended to use his public office — in particular, his considerable power over Ms. Kim — for his own benefit, that is, for an intimate relationship with Ms. Kim. Mr. Ellis literally held Ms. Kim’s life in his hands. He toyed with her right up to the end.”

Herman said the defence established Ellis suffers from bipolar disorder that may have impaired his judgment but “he knew what he was doing was wrong. . . . This was not an impulsive act.” However, the judge said Ellis had an “otherwise unblemished career” and this was “not a pattern of conduct.”

The victim, Ji Hye Kim, appeared at sentencing with her husband Brad Tripp, and said afterwards that they wish to move on with their lives.

Israeli Arab appeals rape-by-fraud sentence

(Original Post 7-29-10)
An Israeli Arab has appealed his conviction for rape by fraud to the Israeli Supreme Court. Sabbar Kashur's conviction on July 20 was for telling a Jewish woman he met that he was a single Jew when in reality, he was a married Israeli Palestinian father of two. They met outside a shop in Jerusalem and had sex. This happened in September of 2008, and a month and a half later, the woman went to Israeli police and cried rape. After nearly two years of house arrest. Kashur was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison.

A panel of three judges, headed by Tzvi Segal, deputy president of Jerusalem District Court, stated their reasons for the rape by fraud verdict.

 If she hadn't thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated... .The court is obliged to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price - the sanctity of their bodies and souls. When the very basis of trust between human beings drops, especially when the matters at hand are so intimate, sensitive and fateful, the court is required to stand firmly at the side of the victims ... otherwise, they will be used, manipulated and misled, while paying only a tolerable and symbolic price.

The verdict has sparked both condemnation and praise in both Israeli and other circles. Women's groups have said that the verdict recognizes that one does not have to use a position of authority or violence to commit a rape - that lying to get sex is just as must an assault as a forcible rape. Others have said that the true reason why Kashur was arrested and convicted of rape by deception was because he was an Arab who had sex with a Jew in Jerusalem.

There have been Israeli men who have been convicted of rape by deception in the past. Both of these have been people who were in a formal position of authority with their victims and promised their victims sex for something of value. Four states have rape by fraud laws - Alabama, California, Michigan, and Tennessee.

Massachusetts has rape by fraud legislation which has been stalled. The impetus for such a law comes from this. Wendy Murphy, a prominent law professor and victim's rights advocate, wants to see Massachusetts' law passed. “What I’ve proposed as a more representative alternative is to have a crime called penetration without consent, and avoid the force issue.”

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law professor Patricia Falk says while fiduciary relationships which are sexualized are considered to be non-consensual, defining fraud in other relationships is much more difficult. “What’s the difference between ‘I will love you forever and we’re going to get married’ and ‘I am LeBron James? What constitutes romantic inducements and things that are fraudulent enough for the law to take recognition of?”

(Update 8-4-10) Kashur was released pending appeal yesterday by the Israeli Supreme Court. The court said that  due to the circumstances of the case, "The possibility should not be ruled out that a higher court may reduce the petitioner's sentence." Kashur spent his first day of conditional freedom with his children in a shopping mall.