Teen's fury as veteran police chief escapes charges for chilling indecent proposal: Top cop told her 'he would drop underage drinking charge if she posed for naked photos in station basement'
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Teen's fury as veteran police chief escapes charges for chilling indecent proposal: Top cop told her 'he would drop underage drinking charge if she posed for naked photos in station basement'
A teenager who was allegedly told by a police chief that underage drinking charges would be dropped if she posed for naked photos in the station's basement has expressed her anger that he has escaped prosecution.
Janelle Westfall, 19, was allegedly propositioned by David Seastran, the veteran former police chief in New London, New Hampshire.
She claims that in 2013 she was arrested by Seastrand as she walked home from a party - she was charged with giving a false name and for being in possession of a beer can.
Later that week Seastrand asked her to attend the police station and discussed punishment - such as community service.
But they then went into the basement of the station.
Seastrand told the Union Leader: 'He said would grab the station's camera to shoot a series of nude photos of me, and then he'd hold it over my head for two years to be sure I didn't commit another crime.'
'He's standing there in uniform, he had his gun strapped on his side.'
She told the newspaper that Seastrand had told her if she told anyone he would deny it. But the Colby-Sawyer student told a friend, as well as her family members who are police officers.
Her father Todd Westfall told her to write down her account and he contacted police.
A month later Seastrand resigned as the New London police chief in April.
Court documents say the town's insurance provider paid $70,000 to Janelle on behalf of the town and Seastrand.
The attorney general's office said the allegations were disturbing, but did not rise to the level of criminal conduct.
State prosecutors said Seastrand's actions were 'abhorrent behavior and unacceptable behavior for anyone in that type of a position,' did not file criminal charges against him.
Seastrand has been prohibited from ever serving as a law enforcement officer again.
The Valley News reports that the Seastrand did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
Westfall did not return to college in 2013 and transferred to a new college this year.
Original report here
Posted by bussorah at 12:39 PM
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Nasty British cops
Thrown in the cells for beeping at a police car! Driver handcuffed and DNA-tested... then faces six-month legal ordeal
When the car in front is driving you mad, a short sharp beep on the horn is sometimes irresistible. But Paul Samara will be thinking twice before doing that again.
After sounding his horn at a police van which was moving slowly and repeatedly braking in front of him, he was handcuffed, thrown into a cell, and had his fingerprints, DNA and mugshot taken.
The 34-year-old train driver, who has never been in trouble with the police in his life, was accused of abusive and threatening behaviour and charged with a public order offence.
The incident led to a six-month ordeal with the threat of a conviction hanging over his head until the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop the case just before he was due to face magistrates.
While Mr Samara is relieved at the outcome, he is appalled at the way he was treated and has lost all faith in the police. ‘They were very heavy handed,’ he said.
‘I’ve never been into a police station before that night, let alone a cell, so to have my fingerprints taken and to be charged for something I hadn’t done was very upsetting.
‘For six months I was worried I would end up with a criminal conviction, that it would affect my chances of getting a job and ultimately my livelihood – it made me anxious and ill.
‘The police officers were obviously annoyed and determined that I would spend a night in the cells. They acted like bullies.’
Mr Samara, who has a partner, a five-year-old step-daughter and a baby on the way, was driving home to Blackburn after finishing his shift at Blackpool railway station at 11pm when the drama unfolded in May this year.
He had pulled behind the police van, which was driving slowly through a Blackpool street, when it stopped suddenly several times, causing him to brake sharply.
Each time, Mr Samara said, he beeped his horn instinctively. ‘For a train driver, especially because we have no brake, using the horn if there is danger is just a natural thing to do,’ he said.
On the last occasion the van stopped and a policewoman got out and challenged him. ‘I didn’t shout or swear or wind my window down, but I did tell her the manner of her driving had caused me to slam on the brakes,’ Mr Samara said.
He said the policewoman told him she was out looking for a missing child. She was upset about his attitude and told him: ‘When you have a problem don’t come to us as we won’t want to know.’ Mr Samara told her he was going to make a complaint about her.
Then her male colleague joined her, ordered him out of his car and handcuffed him. Mr Samara was arrested and taken to the police station where he was left in the cells for two hours and eventually charged.
He appeared at a preliminary court hearing but prosecutors dropped the case last month after CCTV obtained from the police station contradicted the officer’s evidence that he was threatening and abusive.
At one point she admitted that she had lost her temper with him.
Last night his solicitor, Mark Ellis, of James Murray Solicitors, said the case should never have come to court. ‘Mr Samara was simply trying to make his way home when he ran into these police officers who took umbrage at him for sounding his car horn,’ he said.
‘The CCTV we obtained clearly contradicts their account that he was shouting and being threatening. Despite this, the CPS seemed determined to take the case to court and it wasn’t until a week before the trial – after six months of anxiety for Mr Samara – they realised there was no case.’
A CPS spokesman said the decision to bring a charge had been made by Lancashire police. He said the case was reviewed, as is normal, and the CPS decided there was ‘not a realistic prospect of a conviction’.
A spokesman for Lancashire police declined to comment.
Mr Samara said: ‘I’m just relieved it’s all over and life can go back to some sort of normality.’
Monday, December 29, 2014
"Duty to kill you"; cop suspended for threat to protesters
He sounds as mad as a meatant
A Northern California police department put one of its officers on leave Monday and is investigating threatening comments from his Twitter account about demonstrators who have participated in protests over the recent deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and New York.
The San Jose Police Department said Officer Phillip White was sidelined after officials learned of statements made Saturday from his Twitter account.
In one of his tweets, White said: "Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you. #CopsLivesMatter."
In another, he said he would be off-duty at the movies with his gun if anyone "feels they can't breathe or their lives matter."
The tweets and hashtag played on protest slogans "I can't breathe" and "black lives matter."
Efforts to reach White through the San Jose Police Officer's Association were not successful.
The tweets and White's Twitter account have been deleted amid a social media firestorm over the comments. White's department, union and a college where he coached basketball all condemned the comments.
"It is extremely important for the community to know the comments made on Officer White's private social media account do not reflect the thoughts or feelings of the men and women here at the San Jose Police Department," San Jose Police Chief Larry Esquivel said.
The department said it has received "numerous media inquiries" about White since the online news site Buzzfeed reported the officer's tweets Sunday.
"Offensive, disrespectful and inappropriate social media comments have no place in the public discourse surrounding the tragic loss of life from recent officer involved incidents," the San Jose Police Officers' Association said in a prepared statement. "We condemn these comments."
Raj Jayadev of Silicon Valley De-Bug, which works to promote a better relationship between minorities and police, told CBS San Francisco that White must be fired. "I saw venom and vitriol and I saw someone who is a walking danger and a walking threat who has a badge and a gun along with the state's authority to use it."
Menlo College, a small private school about 25 miles south of San Francisco, cut ties with White, who served as a paid, part-time assistant basketball coach.
Posted by bussorah at 6:50 PM
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Australia: Three trials, three acquittals: meet Philip Leung - the man they couldn't convict
A remarkable case. The prosecutors were convinced he was guilty and the jurors decided that too. And on the balance of probabilities he was. But the judges were clearly right in deciding that the evidence did not rise to the "Beyond reasonable doubt" criterion. He would appear to be highly emotional in a way that is common among homosexuals and that could account for some of his odd behavior
On Monday, Philip Leung began his day as an inmate at a prison farm near Muswellbrook, still facing two-and-a-half-years behind bars over the manslaughter death of his long-term partner Mario Guzzetti.
By the end of the day, he would be a free man sitting on a train bound for Sydney after his conviction was sensationally thrown out by the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.
Mr Leung is the first person in NSW legal history to stand trial, three times, over the same death since Louisa the "Botany Murderess" Collins - who was the last woman to be hanged in the state, in 1889
"I'm in shock," said the former Sydney jeweller during an exclusive interview with The Sun-Herald, less than 24 hours after his release.
"No more trials, no more courts, I am happy. But also I feel much anger and disappointment with the system," he said. "I always maintained my innocence but three times they [the Crown] tried to fill in the gaps so they could convict me."
Mr Leung's seven-year "nightmare" centred on events that occurred on the morning of Easter Saturday in 2007, when witnesses found him cradling his lover's head at the bottom of the stairs in their Alexandria terrace. By the time paramedics arrived, Mr Guzzetti, 72, had stopped breathing. It had been almost an hour between a loud bang that a neighbour heard and Mr Leung's phone call for an ambulance. In that call, he said: "I had a fight with my friend ... now my friend is dead."
The case later came to hinge on a bloodstained juicer found on the floor beside the body which the Crown alleged Mr Leung had used to strike his lover. Crucial medical and scientific evidence, however, proved inconclusive, stating Mr Guzzeti's injuries were consistent with both a physical attack and a fall down stairs.
At his original trial in 2009, Mr Leung was acquitted of murder when a judge directed the jury to find him not guilty - on the basis that there was insufficient evidence.
But the Crown used NSW's controversial double jeopardy laws, introduced in 2006, to have the verdict quashed. Mr Leung then faced court on a manslaughter charge but in an unexpected twist, became the first person in Australian legal history to be twice acquitted by a judge's directed verdict.
Wiping tears from his face, he told Fairfax Media that day he was "finally free" to move on. However, the Crown had other ideas. In March 2012, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal upheld a second appeal and ordered that Mr Leung once again be tried for manslaughter.
In November that same year, he became the first man in NSW history to stand trial three times over the same death. Recalling the moment the jury returned to the courtroom, he said: "Because it was the first time a jury was judging me, I believed justice would come. And when the foreman came out with the jury, he smiled at me, so I believed this was also a good sign. But then I heard the word 'guilty' and my mind...my mind just blacked out," he said.
As he was led away to prison, Mr Leung yelled "this is wrong". In March last year, he was sentenced to a minimum four-and-a-half-years' jail.
Mr Leung revealed that since being jailed two years ago, he had been shifted between Silverwater, Parklea, Cessnock, Bathurst and Muswellbrook prison facilities, encountering repeated "homophobic" violence and abuse along the way.
"I was attacked in a laundry at Parklea and had three ribs broken. In Cessnock, I was targeted and needed stitches above my left eye. I refused to argue ... I tried to avoid trouble. But always, I was bullied."
Mr Leung was days away from his second Christmas behind bars on Monday when unbeknown to him, his solicitor, Ben Archbold, took carriage of some remarkable news.
In a majority decision, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton and Justice Christine Adamson ruled the evidence before the court was insufficient to convict Mr Leung beyond reasonable doubt. Specifically, they could find no evidence that the juicer was used in any offence. Neither did the evidence "go so far as to exclude a fall".
Mr Leung was playing table tennis when the prison's manager approached with "urgent news".
"There was no warning. It came so suddenly that my mind, it struggled. I was so overwhelmed."
After scrambling to make the last train out of Muswellbrook at 7.30pm - so he did not have to spend a further night in prison, Mr Leung arrived at Sydney's Central Station at 12.30am on Tuesday, "dazed", jaded, but joyous. "I wandered streets, sat in bus stops...I just wanted to be by myself, feel freedom, smell the air...deal with emotions."
The following morning, Mr Leung was met by his solicitor Mr Archbold who fulfilled his client's only immediate wish - a bowl of museli "with real nuts and honey".
Mr Archbold said: "It's been an extremely long road but very satisfying to have played a part in justice finally being served." Of the Crown's "relentless pursuit" of Mr Leung, he added: "How much pain and suffering should one man have to be put through?"
Mr Leung's next battle is to gain access to his own house which, since the conviction, has been the subject of both a caveat and confiscation proceedings by the DPP.
He said, finally, he could now grieve his dead partner - without the lingering accusation being his killer. "My life starts again but without the person I want to share it with," he said.
Six days on, Mr Guzzetti's Italian-based family has yet to be informed of the latest twist in the long-running legal saga. A Sydney-based family friend, who preferred not to be named, said: "How do I even begin to explain this?"
Posted by bussorah at 4:31 PM
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Social worker who falsely accused dad of abusing his six-year-old daughter can STILL look after children
A social worker who falsely accused an innocent father of abusing his six-year-old daughter was allowed to continue working with vulnerable children, it has emerged.
Suzi Smith alleged during a custody battle that she had seen Jonathan Coupland, 53, attack his child.
The accusation – made while she was ‘really, really angry’ – led to him being handcuffed in front of neighbours, thrown into a cell and banned from seeing his daughter. The Daily Mail revealed the case in April, and since then a disciplinary hearing has found Mrs Smith guilty of misconduct and ruled that her fitness to practise is impaired.
But she was not struck off or suspended. Instead, she was given a three-year caution order, which means she can continue to work with the most vulnerable children.
It has also emerged that she was allowed to continue working as a social worker after making the false accusation.
Last night, Mr Coupland told of his anger that Mrs Smith was permitted to carry on working with children. ‘I am shaking with rage,’ he said. ‘I feel disgusted. It is unbelievable. I was arrested for sexually assaulting the most precious thing in my life. Once you are tarred with that brush, that is it. People where I live think I am a paedophile.
‘But she was working with children again – the one place I would never want her to work again. She even got a promotion. What has she got now? Just a slap on the wrist. No parent or child should go through what my family has gone through. No sanction will ever be strong enough for her.’
Mrs Smith, 53, admitted making the ‘horrific mistake’ and was sacked early last year from her job with Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, which represents children in the family courts.
She was jobless between February and June 2013, but from July 2013 until January 2014, was employed by an agency to work with children for Southampton City Council, where she dealt with issues of child protection and adoption.
The disciplinary hearing at the Health and Care Professions Council, in Kennington, South London, was told she was even given a promotion and did three other stints of agency work as a social worker for local councils until January, when she had to stop working in the run-up to her disciplinary case.
Mr Coupland, from Spalding, Lincolnshire, raised his daughter alone after splitting from her mother. The former painter and decorator has fought a lengthy custody battle.
In January 2012, Mrs Smith made a home visit and apparently clashed with Mr Coupland. Subsequently, she wrote the damning case note while she was ‘really, really angry’. She claimed she had witnessed Mr Coupland stroking his daughter inappropriately – which he has always denied and she now admits did not happen.
Later, Mr Coupland was arrested at home on suspicion of sexual assault and questioned for about ten hours. He claims officers threatened to put his daughter in temporary care before he begged them to place her with his mother.
The following day, Mr Coupland was told there would be no further action. Mrs Smith had been interviewed by officers and retracted what she had previously claimed.
Cafcass, which is funded by the Department of Justice, sacked Mrs Smith and paid Mr Coupland £86,000 in damages.
Mrs Smith’s husband Tim, who represented her at the hearing, said she was overworked when she made her initial record about Mr Coupland touching his daughter. ‘She immediately retracted that with the police,’ he said. ‘At the time of making that record Mrs Smith was in a mood. She was working 14 hours a day and had something like 40 cases on the go. There is no other explanation apart from it was just a horrific mistake.’
Mrs Smith said she had learned from what happened. ‘I have tried to establish a better work-life balance to make sure I am not overworked and that each of my cases get the attention they deserve,’ she told the hearing. She said she was ‘taking time to do less work but more accurate work’.
Mrs Smith has previously apologised to Mr Coupland and said she was put under pressure by police to stick to what she initially wrote that he had done. Panel chairman Stephen Fash said Mrs Smith had ‘overstated’ what she thought she had observed. The panel found she made the false allegation, but did not do so dishonestly.
Lincolnshire Police said officers were ‘duty bound to investigate’ Mrs Smith’s allegation, adding: ‘It transpired that the allegation was not as originally reported to us. The male was released without charge.’
Friday, December 26, 2014
Ryan Ferguson on his first year of freedom: Man wrongly jailed for TEN YEARS
In just one year, Ryan Ferguson has crisscrossed the country from coast to coast, appeared on national television, published one book, started writing a second, got certified as a personal trainer, moved in with his girlfriend, left his hometown, adopted a puppy and celebrated his 30th birthday.
If it sounds like Mr Ferguson is making up for lost time, he definitely is.
The former Missouri college student was released from prison a year ago after serving nearly a decade of hard time for a murder authorities now say he didn't commit.
‘I have to be doing something positive. If I’m not moving forward, then what am I doing? I missed my entire 20s in prison. I can’t stand still in life right now. I've already missed enough of it,’ he said.
Mr Ferguson has already published a book, which he wrote during his final months in prison. Stronger, Faster, Smarter: A Guide to Your Most Powerful Body is one part fitness manual, one part self help book and one part prison memoir.
One year after gaining hard-won freedom, Mr Ferguson opened up to DailyMail.com, about how his burgeoning relationship with his girlfriend, who was his prison pen pal, has helped him adjust to life on the outside.
The love of his life, Myka Cain, spoke exclusively to DailyMail.com about what made her decide to leave her hometown in central Missouri to follow Mr Ferguson after his release.
Mr Ferguson spoke of the struggles of learning to be a free man again and how he is still coping with lasting physical and psychological effects of life in prison.
He also talked for the first time about his hellish ordeal in solitary confinement and how he had to rely on being physically fit to survive in a maximum-security prison.
Despite this hardship, Mr Ferguson maintains the studied optimism of a motivational speaker. ‘I say yes to all opportunities that I can. Don’t be a watcher, man. Be a doer. I am continually trying to create. I’m always reading, I’m always studying,' he said.
‘It’s all helping to let it not be in vain. That is my mission statement. Let ten years in prison not be in vain. Everything I do is to take advantage of the opportunities I have with the amazing supporters that I have. ‘It will help me deal with what I’ve had to deal with psychologically.’
Mr Ferguson was convicted of the brutal November 2001 murder of a newspaper editor in Columbia, Missouri, after his own friend took the stand and testified against him.
A review of the trial later revealed that police coerced and coached key witnesses - including his friend Charles Erickson, who gave a detailed account of how Kent Heitholt died, despite admitting he had no memory of the night of the killing due to mixing alcohol and a cocktail of drugs.
No physical evidence connected Mr Ferguson to the crime. A judge also ruled that prosecutors and detectives withheld key evidence from Mr Ferguson’s defense team that could have exonerated him.
Mr Ferguson was convicted in the fall of 2005 and sentenced to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder and robbery.
In November 2013, an appeals court vacated the conviction and freed Mr Ferguson. After a review, the Missouri Attorney General announced that he would not re-file charges.
Mr Heithholt’s murder remains unsolved. Erickson remains in prison, though Mr Ferguson has said he believes his former friend should be released, as well.
Mr Ferguson said he believes he was railroaded by an overzealous prosecutor and detectives who stepped over the line. He says that as he sat in jail for a crime he did not commit, he was felt powerless as detectives built a case against him with little regard for the facts of what really happened.
‘As the evidence started to come back that pointed to the fact that I didn't do it, they just didn't care,’ he said.
'I gave up on society for many years and I was very fortunate that the facts started to get out.'
After his release, his attorney filed a $100million civil rights lawsuit against the state of Missouri. The outcome of that case is still pending.
Mr Ferguson says the love of his life has helped him to adjust to life on the outside
Prison love story
When Mr Ferguson emerged from prison into the public eye last year, many where shocked to see a pretty brunette at his side in his first press conference.
Mr Ferguson and Myka Cain, 26, met and fell in love while he was still in prison. More than a year later, they are still going strong.
He says that she has been instrumental in helping him adjust to freedom after ten years behind bars. 'She’s been very patient and very understanding,' he said.
'Coming back out into the real world without her, I think life would be a lot more difficult for me. She’s an incredible woman and I love her and appreciate her so much.'
Miss Cain was one of 20 of people who wrote to Mr Ferguson while he was behind bars. She says they had known each other for years before he went away and reconnected while he was locked up.
Somewhere - amid 20-page soul-baring letters - they became something more than friends and their relationship turned to romance.
It was weeks before he saw the first picture of her. They started talking on the phone every day - sometimes three or four times.
She drove to the Jefferson City Correctional Center, the maximum-security prison where Mr Ferguson was housed, every Sunday for years.
Prison visitation, Mr Fergson recalled, is no way to carry on a relationship. 'On visits we were allowed to have a hug when you leave and then a kiss on the lips. You could reach over the table and hold each other's hand,' he said.
'If you hugged for more than two seconds, they would yell at you. If you tried to slip her the tongue when you kissed, they would put it in lockdown.' 'If you tried to touch her under the table, they would put you in lockdown. You had to be very careful.'
Miss Cain, who was working at a car dealership in her hometown of Rolla, Missouri, says she wasn't sure whether Mr Ferguson was ever going to get out of prison when she started her relationship with him in 2013. 'There were times where I would think that this would never work,' she said.
She gets uncomfortable when asked about why she decided to write to Mr Ferguson in prison and what motivated her to carry on a relationship with a man who could have been locked up until she was an old woman.
'We have known each other for a long time. We reconnected and we started to talk by writing,' is all she will say.
Miss Cain took up Mr Ferguson's cause - rebooting his website, starting the social media campaign and trying to generate attention to his cause.
She was also instrumental in helping him write his book. Every week, he sent her dozens of pages in his handwritten chicken scratch.
She would then type up whatever she could decipher and mail him back the type-written pages so he could edit them.
When he was released in November 2013, their love was in full bloom. She says she never thought twice about staying with him and trying to carry on their relationship.
'Relationships out here, you don’t typically learn about people until you're already deep within in the relationship. By the time Ryan got out, we felt like we already knew so much about each other,' she said.
The couple have moved four times since last November - finally settling down together in Fort Myers, Florida, where Mr Ferguson's mother lives.
They both admit that it's been difficult maintaining a relationship while he adjusts to living as a free man. He's had to re-learn how to relate to people now that he gets to choose who he wants to spend time with. No more learning to live with cellmates with violent pasts. 'I’m his cellmate now,' Miss Cain laughs.
Stronger, Faster, Smarter
Mr Ferguson says he was into fitness and keeping himself healthy before he was locked up. After he went away, it became a matter of survival.
He started working out every single day and playing basketball to keep in shape. His goal was to get big and keep healthy. Because the bigger he was, the harder it would be for somebody to take advantage of him,
'Sometimes the only thing that was stopping them from doing certain things to me was the fact that I was larger than them and I was psychically more dominant,' he said.
'It saved my life. I feel like there was situations where I could have been raped. I know there are guys that I was locked up with that were capable of that thing.'
After a few years inside, Mr Ferguson's fellow inmates realized that he was ripped. He seemed to be getting a lot more out of his gym time than they were. So they started asking him about his routine.
Pretty soon, he says, half of the guys on his wing were on his fitness regimen. He says there was a run on chocolate milk and peanut butter and honey sandwiches in the prison lunch line - his recommended post-workout meal.
His book Stronger, Faster, Smarter started as a one-page fitness regimen that he wrote up for his fellow prisoners.
Then it grew by pages and pages. Over the course of his last five months in prison, he found himself writing a book.
Now, after prison, he finds solace in his own workout regime. It's a way for him to maintain discipline an routine now that every aspect of his life is not dictated to him by corrections officers, he says.
Life in the hole
Mr Ferguson also opened up for the first time about the hardest part of his decade behind bars - his nearly yearlong ordeal in solitary confinement and lockdown.
In September 2007, during a search of his cell, corrections officers found razor blades. To this day, Mr Ferguson maintains that the weapons did not belong to him or his cellmate. He says they were planted.
As punishment, Mr Ferguson was sent into solitary confinement.
'I was set up. It was the worst thing. I’m in prison for a crime I didn't commit and then I ended up going to the hole for something I didn't have anything to do with,' he said.
It's the most frightening place a person can be because when you're in isolation, there’s nothing to deal with except your mind. You basically go crazy in there. There's no stimulation. No nothing. You come out and you're different.'
For three months, Mr Ferguson spent nearly every waking moment in a box with just his thoughts and a book. Nobody to talk to, nothing to do except read..'
He is still dealing with the effects of his time in solitary confinement.
He says he can no longer lift nearly as much weight as he could when he went in. And he has breathing problems - he declines to call them panic attacks - when he gets short of breath and cannot calm himself down.
'My body certainly doesn't cooperate with me. I got put in the hole for a year, almost. When I went into the hole, I was in the best shape of my life. When I got out, I wasn't the same,' he said.
He's working on a second book now. And a new documentary about his ordeal. He also hinted at a possible scripted reality TV show that will highlight cases of people being falsely convicted of crimes.
Miss Cain confesses that sometimes she worries he's moving too fast and needs to slow down.
He says he can't stop now, he's got too much to catch up on. 'After everything I lost, I'm still very far behind,' he said.
Posted by bussorah at 8:16 PM
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Another murder suspect is named by Innocence Project 15 years after victim's ex-boyfriend was locked up for her death
The University of Virginia's Innocence Project has identified another suspect who they say could be linked to the death of Hae Min Lee, whose murder was the focus of the hit podcast series 'Serial'.
Ronald Lee Moore, who was released from prison 10 days before Lee vanished in January 1999, could have been responsible for her death, they say, and they are now hoping to test physical evidence in the case against his DNA. He killed himself in 2012.
Lee's body was found in a Baltimore park just weeks after she broke up with her boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was ultimately convicted of murder and is now serving life in prison for the death.
Syed, then 17, has always insisted that he was over their break up and did not murder her, and there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. But a friend, identified on the podcast as 'Jay', claims Syed told him he had murdered her and helped him bury her body.
His story and the investigation around Lee's murder were the subject of the highly-popular podcast series, Serial, and in the final episode, UVA's Innocence Project suggested other suspects.
In an interview with TIME, Deirdre Enright, the head of the Innocence Project at UVA, suggested that Moore could have had a part in her death.
Moore, who committed suicide while in prison in 2012, aged 40, was identified as a suspect in a 1999 rape and a 1999 cold case rape-murder when his DNA later matched the crimes.
In one case reported in the L'Observateur at the time of his suicide, police said a DNA match in 2006 connected him to a sexual assault in which he broke into a woman's apartment, shocked her with a cattle prod, and forced her to perform sex acts on him.
Earlier this year, the Baltimore Sun reported that another DNA match connected him to a 1999 murder, in which he broke into 27-year-old Annelise Hyang Suk Lee's apartment and strangled her.
He was arrested for burglary in December 2011 - and was listed as one of America’s Most Wanted Fugitives at the time. He ultimately took his life in 2012.
Enright believes he could have had something to do with Lee's murder in January 1999.
'In some ways, he was ideal because he had been released from prison and fit the timeframe for Hae's murder because he had been out for 10 days when she was murdered,' she told TIME.
But Enright said she and her team are also pursuing other theories and looking into other potential suspects - who cannot be named because they are still alive - while they wait for the courts to test the evidence, which could take months.
Enright admitted there were some problems with Moore as a suspect, including that he had been tied to sexual assaults but Lee was apparently not sexually assaulted. However, Enright said that she knows a rape kit was carried out on Lee's body - and that it was not tested.
'What we know is that Hae had her clothes on, although I know her shirt and bra had been moved up,' Enright told TIME.
'And her skirt was on but pushed up... There were hairs on her body, two of which were microscopically compared to Adnan, and he was excluded and they didn't belong to her either.'
If it comes back as a match with Moore's DNA, it should show Adnan is not guilty, she said.
Alternatively, it could match someone else who's already locked up, or it could belong to someone not known to the authorities - but that, too, should clear Syed of her murder, she said.
'If there was semen and it was not her boyfriend and it was not Adnan, and we still couldn't point out a serial killer or a serial rapist, I would still argue - depending on what that physical evidence there was - that that should also exculpate Adnan,' she told TIME.
One problem with Moore as the suspect is that Jay led police to Lee's car after he said he and Syed buried her body, and Enright cannot yet account for this.
'But I wonder about whether Jay somehow got involved with people who had some other entire scheme going on and it's them he's afraid of,' she said.
Posted by bussorah at 4:44 PM
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Undercover Welsh cop who switched number plates on his Vauxhall Corsa in bid to avoid £60 fine for doing 35mph in a 30 zone is jailed
An undercover police officer who tried to dodge a £60 speeding ticket by swapping his car number plates has been jailed for three months.
Detective Constable Anthony Rees-Thompson was caught on a speed camera doing 35mph in a 30mph zone in Swansea, Wales.
But instead of paying the penalty, the officer, 40, wrote to the speed camera unit saying there had been a technical error or that another similar car was using the same registration number.
The father-of-four sent in photographs of his silver Vauxhall Corsa with new plates, bought for £21 online.
Speed camera officials compared the photographs and noticed the plates had the same digits but the new ones had been customised with a blue GB sign and the Welsh flag.
But the court heard Rees-Thompson forgot that his car was being filmed every day as he drove it into police headquarters in Bridgend - and his force's own HQ CCTV was used to catch him.
A court heard he now faces being sacked and losing more than £100,000 in pension rights - all over the £60 lie.
Prosecutor Meirion Davies said: 'He chose to cheat the legal process with a deliberate deception. 'He fitted different plates and took photographs to deliberately mislead those who were investigating the speeding offence.'
Rees-Thompson, of Abercrave, Swansea, denied perverting the course of justice claiming he changed the plates because they were damaged.
Jonathan Elystan Rees, defending, asked for him to receive a suspended prison sentence to avoid being attacked in prison. Mr Rees said: 'He has served 11 years as a police officer of an impeccable record.
'As a former serving police officer he can be expected to be a risk in all sorts of ways while serving in custody - threats to his mental and also his physical wellbeing.'
Jailing him for three months at Newport Crown Court, Judge David Wynn Morgan told Rees-Thompson: 'This type of offence strikes at the heart of the criminal justice system.
'The purpose of the points system is those who drive badly get punished and it discourages bad driving. 'The system depends on the honest completion of the relevant forms and the dishonest completion of forms is all to easy to do.
'Yours wasn't a panic reaction - it was a carefully considered and thought out course of action.
'The alteration of this vehicles appearance and correspondence that went with it was a calculated demonstration of your bare-faced dishonesty and arrogant belief that you could get away with it.
'Nevertheless, this is a tragedy. You have lost your employment, your reputation and because your self esteem is evidently based on your occupation and profession you obviously have suffered a huge blow.'
He will now lose his job in the covert management department of South Wales Police and his pension rights.
As he was taken down, Judge Morgan told the prison officers: 'Police officers are not to escape offences of this nature. 'But I do ask that all appropriate precautions are taken for his safety in custody.'
Tim Jones, Head of Professional Standards at South Wales Police, said: 'We note the sentencing of Detective Constable Anthony Rees-Thompson and the decision of the court today. 'DC Rees-Thompson will now be subject to a fast track gross misconduct process chaired by the Chief Constable.
'South Wales Police Anti-Corruption unit fully investigated the fraudulent activities of DC Rees-Thompson which led to his conviction. 'We expect the highest standards of professional conduct from all members of staff, and will not tolerate individuals who undermine the committed public service of their professional colleagues.'
Posted by bussorah at 3:33 PM
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Paedophile British cop gets kid glove treatment -- allowing him to re-offend
A paedophile police officer who groomed his victim for more than a decade had been allowed to keep his job - despite being caught taking photographs of children eight years ago.
Disgraced Cambridgeshire Police sergeant Nick Lidstone, 55, of Barrington, Cambridgeshire admitted a series of rapes and child sex attacks relating to one victim at Norwich Crown Court last month.
But it emerged today Lidstone was arrested eight years ago for taking 'up-skirt' pictures of children with a spy pen in a branch of Tesco in Royston, Hertfordshire.
At the time he was given a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to a minor public order offence at North and East Hertfordshire Magistrates' Court in 2005 - but all of his most serious abuse happened after this offence.
Because he was not charged with a sexual offence, his name was not placed on the sex offenders' register.
He was allowed to keep his job and it was not until he admitted abusing a girl in court last month that he was dismissed from his role at the force's headquarters.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, reported the years of abuse - which culminated in being raped as an adult - earlier this year.
A court heard Lidstone's abuse of the girl escalated and all of the most serious attacks happened after his arrest for the photos.
Sentencing him to 14 and a half years in prison, Judge Anthony Bate said he had used his victim as a 'sexual toy'. He placed Lidstone on the sex offenders' register for life.
He said: 'You have one previous conviction which has two worrying aspects: firstly, the nature of the offence and secondly, the fact you were convicted under public order legislation when quite clearly these were serious sexual offences.
'You had armed yourself with a covert camera and were found taking pictures of children. Why on earth you were not charged under the sexual offences act, I do not know. 'Whoever took that decision, it allowed you to carry on as a police officer.'
The judge added that because he was convicted of a public order offence, nobody had looked more closely at Lidstone's relationship with children and a chance to detect his abuse was missed.
Despite undergoing therapy to address his sexual deviancy, Lidstone carried on abusing his victim, who suffered significant psychological harm.
Judge Bate said that Lidstone's apparent cooperation with therapy showed how he was able to 'manipulate experts' into believing he had an ordinary sex life.
Prosecutor Andrew Shaw said the pictures taken in 2005 were of 'young children' and there was some doubt over whether the worst of the images were found.
Kerry Broome, mitigating, said Lidstone had agreed to undergo counselling in order to keep his job. His role with the police had not involved regular contact with children.
Lidstone pleaded guilty to 13 offences - including three counts of rape, three counts of indecency with a child, various sexual assaults and taking an indecent photograph of a child - in November this year. He denied six other counts, which were left to lie on file.
Mr Shaw told the court Lidstone started grooming the girl when she was nine. The court heard he would expose himself to her, show her pornography and take indecent photographs.
'This was serious sexual assault,' Mr Shaw said. 'The abuse was more or less continuous and culminated in rape when she was a young adult.'
His victim was unable to make a statement to the court, saying she was so distressed that even the thought of it made her physically sick.
One witness who knew the victim described how her life had been 'ruined'. 'She has never been able to integrate or make friends,' he said. 'He has shown himself to be lying and manipulative.'
Dressed in a black suit, Lidstone broke down in tears in the dock as details of his abuse were read out.
Referring to the latest offences, Miss Broome said her client had been 'infatuated'.
She said that, with expert help, there was no reason he should pose any further danger to the public. 'He is very well aware of the shame he has brought on the police force and his 30 years of service are over,' Miss Broome said.
Cambridgeshire Police have not yet responded to the judge's comments.
Speaking after Lidstone was dismissed last month, Deputy Chief Constable Alec Wood said: 'This was an appalling crime where the victim was put through a horrendous ordeal over a prolonged period.
'We want the public and our own employees to feel confident about raising concerns about the conduct of our officers and staff. 'We will always investigate these cases thoroughly and ensure any offenders are brought to justice.'
Jon Brown, who heads the NSPCC's programmes for tackling sexual abuse, said: 'It seems quite incredible that this officer wasn't charged first time around with a sexual offence.
'If he had been it's possible these later, more serious crimes could have been stopped sooner or even prevented in the first place.
'The tragedy is that a young girl has suffered terribly at this man's hands when he should not have been allowed the freedom to act in this appalling way.
'This underlines the importance of taking all sex offences extremely seriously and making sure the right course of action is followed through. 'It would only be right for the police authority to take a look at how he came to be charged with a minor offence all those years ago and to ensure it doesn't happen again.'
Posted by bussorah at 9:10 PM
Monday, December 22, 2014
Father is banned from seeing his children and entering his own home or street for ten years after wife launched 'Kafkaesque' legal proceedings against him in secret
Meddling lawyers make family dispute worse
A father suffered a Kafkaesque injustice when he was thrown out of his home without warning and effectively barred from seeing his six children for five months, a High Court judge said yesterday.
After being banned from his street, the man was later jailed overnight and convicted of a crime for phoning his wife.
Mr Justice Jackson accused lawyers and courts of injustice due to ‘unproven allegations’.
The father, named only as Mr R, was barred from his home after his wife took out a non-molestation order.
He was also forbidden from contacting her except via her lawyers. Such orders are designed to protect women from domestic violence.
But Mr Justice Jackson said the ban was granted ‘in proceedings of which [Mr R] was unaware’. The hearing before a district judge on June 20 lasted no more than five minutes.
Mrs R’s lawyers did not attempt to contact her husband and he knew nothing of the order until he came home from work one day later that month. Despite the claim that his wife was in danger of violence, she allowed him to stay overnight and he left the following morning.
Days later, he was arrested for an ‘innocuous breach’ of the order after calling his wife to ask about the case, Mr Justice Jackson said. She phoned police and he was held overnight and taken to court.
With no lawyer, he pleaded guilty to breaking the order, and was sentenced to a day in prison.
‘He was a man of good character who now has a criminal record,’ Mr Justice Jackson said. ‘And … the effect of the original order was to deprive him of contact with his children for fully five months. All in all, Mr R could be forgiven for feeling like the hapless protagonist in Kafka’s The Trial.’
Mr Justice Jackson said that following marriage problems, Mrs R had contacted solicitors in May, hoping to persuade Mr R to leave.
The lawyers applied for a court order, saying the wife was at risk of harm. They claimed Mr R had shoved her, thrown objects, and had pushed her to the floor 17 years ago.
The application added that the wife had previously been expected to ‘engage in distasteful sexual practices’ and that her husband had controlled the finances.
But Mr Justice Jackson said the only recent incident listed was a row over a credit card bill and that the order was ‘entirely unrealistic’.
It was five months before an appeal reached the High Court, which ruled the order should never have been made. It found 11 injustices by the courts that granted and maintained the order.
The father, who can now see his children, told the court in a letter he was ‘disillusioned with the justice system … which removes me from my home and family with a completely fabricated statement’.
A police report said Mrs R begged officers not to arrest Mr R over his phone call and that her solicitor had told her to contact them.
Posted by bussorah at 3:16 PM
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Was man framed to cover up for a rogue British cop?
The official body responsible for putting right miscarriages of justice is to launch an urgent, ‘fast-track’ inquiry into Wales’s worst mass murder following a Mail on Sunday investigation.
A spokesman for the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) last night revealed it has given its highest ‘priority one’ status to the case of David Morris, 52, who is serving four life sentences for the savage killings of Mandy Power, 34, her daughters Katie, ten, and Emily, eight, and her 80-year-old mother, Doris Dawson.
Divorcee Mrs Power was Morris’s occasional lover, but was also in a lesbian relationship with Alison Lewis, a former police officer who was the wife of a serving South Wales sergeant, Stephen Lewis.
Mr and Mrs Lewis were arrested for the murder and interviewed before Morris became a suspect, though not charged.
Stephen’s twin, Inspector Stuart Lewis, was the first senior officer to reach the scene in Clydach, near Swansea, where Mandy and her family were bludgeoned to death.
After lying in wait and slaughtering them with a heavy pole, the killer set fire to their house in an effort to cover his tracks.
Inspector Lewis could not account for his movements at critical times during the night of the killings, June 26, 1999, and went off duty before telling any senior colleagues that this was a case of mass murder and arson. An official inquiry found he had told numerous lies and he was formally disciplined, though not criminally charged.
As this newspaper revealed last month, a dossier compiled for the CCRC by Morris’s lawyers, Maslen Merchant and Francis FitzGibbon QC, contains compelling fresh evidence, uncovered after a five-year investigation by Winchester University journalism lecturer Brian Thornton.
It includes the record of a message received by the murder inquiry incident room, which came from a trusted police informant. It stated that Mandy ‘and her kids had been threatened by her current lover’s husband who was a police officer’.
Also in the dossier are results of forensic tests done before Morris’s trial, which found traces of a man’s DNA on the murder weapon, the matches used to light the fire, and on Mandy’s clothes and watch. Inexplicably, further tests that could have established whether this DNA matched Morris or someone else were never carried out.
Morris has always protested his innocence, and from his cell at Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire, is urging the CCRC to have these further tests conducted as soon as possible.
In the wake of the Mail on Sunday report, several new witnesses have come forward with potentially vital new evidence.
(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here
The CCRC spokesman confirmed that these statements will also form part of the new inquiry.
(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here
Posted by bussorah at 1:56 PM
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Australia: Cop escapes conviction over Curti assault
A police officer who assaulted Brazilian student Roberto Curti during his fatal arrest in Sydney's CBD has escaped a conviction.
It has been more than two years since Mr Curti died in the early hours of March 18, 2012, after a chase and violent struggle with police in which he was tasered, handcuffed, hit with capsicum spray and knelt on.
Following an inquest into his death and a lengthy local court hearing into the matter, Senior Constable Damian John Ralph was the only officer out of three cops to be found guilty of his assault on Tuesday.
Shortly after handing down this decision, Magistrate Claire McFarlane placed him on a two-year good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded.
Ralph's lawyer Roy Hood told the court the serving officer, who has been on restrictive duties since December 2013, had been a "troubled soul" since Mr Curti's death.
In finding Ralph guilty of assault on Tuesday, Ms McFarlane said the senior constable had used at least two cans of capsicum spray on Mr Curti.
It was deployed within 15cm of the 21-year-old's face, while he was lying stomach down and being knelt on by other officers.
"While I accept in the heat of the moment he may have thought it was appropriate ... it's obvious it was not," she said.
But she found Ralph was a man of good character, who was unlikely to reoffend and suffered from post-traumatic stress as a result of the incident.
Ralph, along with his colleague Chin Aun Lim, were charged with Mr Curti's assault, while fellow officers Scott James Edmondson and Daniel David Barling were charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The court heard Mr Curti became increasingly afraid after taking the drug LSD before his death.
When he stole two packets of biscuits from a convenience store, it was incorrectly reported as an armed robbery involving two men.
When Mr Curti was later spotted by police, he had no shirt and shoes on.
He was tackled twice by police on Pitt Street before being brought to the ground on the third attempt.
He died at the scene.
Posted by bussorah at 10:29 PM
Friday, December 19, 2014
British dickless Tracy used force database 'like Google' to leak information about manhunt for police killer Dale Cregan
A policewoman who used the force database 'like Google' to leak information about the manhunt for police killer Dale Cregan to her sister has been jailed.
PC Katie Murray wept as she was jailed for almost three years after accessing confidential information about the pursuit to trade as 'gossip.'
The 29-year-old even sent her sister, Lindsey, the name and picture of one of the two women police officers shot dead by the one-eyed killer, three hours before they were formally identified at a news conference.
In a WhatsApp message between the pair, Lindsey said: 'Oh my God, I can't believe this s***, you better come here after work and fill me in' only for Murray to reply: 'I don't really know anything. He he'.
The officer, who had been with Greater Manchester Police since 2004, later filmed Cregan as he arrived at Newton Heath Police Station for interview.
In the clip she could be heard repeating 'Oh my God, oh my god,' as the killer was being transferred after handing himself in.
Cregan is currently serving a whole life sentence for the gun and grenade killings of PCs Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, in 2012, and a gangland double murder
Hospital worker Lindsey, said to be a habitual gossiper, was said to have passed on the sensitive material given to her by her sister.
Eight days after the serial killer carried out his second of four murders, she told a friend: ''Talking to Kate last night, I know the full story about Cregan x'
She was said to have provided details of the case and future police tactics concluding: 'keep it to yourself though. They are all targets our Kate said.'
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, the sisters, both of Droylsden, were both convicted misconduct in a public office after a trial.
Katie was jailed for two years nine months and Lindsay was jailed for six months.
Passing sentence Judge Jonathan Foster QC told the women: 'Katie and Lindsay Murray, until this event you had both done well with your lives, both had responsible jobs and many people spoke well of you. But as sisters you have one thing in common. You both failed to recognise or respect the boundaries between right and wrong.
'Katie Murray you have fallen from grace and you have compromised the confidence of the public in the integrity of the police force. You have affected the reputation of the vast majority of serving police offices and made it less likely members of the public with cooperate with them.
'You knew your sister was a habitual gossiper and was likely to pass on information to others outside confidence. You used the police computer as if you were accessing Google.'
The court heard the WPC had once been in a relationship with cannabis dealer Jason Lloyd, 44, and also used the force database to get confidential information to him about police investigations into his criminality over a 20 month period.
But Nick Clarke QC prosecuting said: 'She also misused police systems to gain and provide information to friends and family members without any lawful policing purposes.
'Lindsey has requested Katie to check police systems and provide information to her regarding other individuals and incidents known to her.
'There was no proper policing purpose for such inquiries and no legitimate basis for the dissemination of the information.'
Leaks by Katie included details of the investigations into the murders by Cregan of Mark Short, 28, who was shot dead at The Cotton Tree Pub in Ashton-under-Lyne on May 25 2012 and father David Short, 46, who was killed in a gun and grenade attack at his home on August 10 2012.
When Cregan and another suspect were initially arrested and questioned and bailed on their return from Thailand on June 12 2012, Katie reviewed the arrests and looked at their custody records.
'Examination of call data, text and 'What App' messages between Katie, Lindsey and associates has established that Katie divulged to her sister information regarding the murder investigations including the hunt for Dale Cregan and his associates, their arrest and custody process.
'Lindsey was aware that Jason Lloyd was in contact with the Cregan family..'
Mr Clarke said when the two policewomen were killed on September 18 2012, Katie was not assigned to the investigation team - yet sent a picture of WPC Nicola at 12.53pm three hours ahead of the Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy naming the dead office during a news conference.
The prosecutor said: 'Not only did she constantly monitor the incident logs and activity as shown on the police computers, she was also contacting her sister, then almost immediately afterwards Lloyd.
'Katie Murray calls Mr Lloyd at the time the news is breaking so she can talk to him about developments. Lindsey Murray is clearly very interested in what's going on.
'She even released a picture of one of the murdered officers before that unfortunate officer had been publicly named by police.
'We are sure that you will be aware how sensitively and carefully controlled the release of such information has to be, to ensure that families are first told through appropriate official channels, other than reading about it on Twitter or through some other gossip based system of information leak - which is what was instigated by Katie that day.'
Murray was found out when police seized Lloyd's mobile phone following the Cregan murders and texts on his mobile phone was examined.
'When police raided Katie's home, they found an envelope of letters written to her from Lloyd which she kept in the drawer of her bedside cabinet.
In mitigation Murray's defence counsel Rick Holland said: 'Despite the fact she was a police officer for ten years, nothing can prepare her for the rigours of the custodial regime that awaits her.
'She was profoundly upset when those two officers died as were all the officers. She didn't take the images from the internal computers, the information was obtained and she shared their details from Facebook.
'There was a language used that was contemptuous of Cregan and others. She described the day she was arrested as the worst in her life. She is utterly ruined now.'
James Harrison, representing Lindsay Murray said: 'She was receiving information from police computers out of curiosity. It was a sustained course of misguided curiosity. She says she was like a member of neighbourhood watch.'
Lloyd, from Droyslden was jailed for 15 years after being convicted of misconduct, drugs and firearms offences.
Posted by bussorah at 2:11 PM
Thursday, December 18, 2014
U.S. Supreme Court Establishes that Police, But Not the Rest of Us, Can Get the Law Wrong—And Not Face Charges
If a police officer’s erroneous understanding of the law leads to him pulling someone over, does he violate the Fourth Amendment, which established "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures"?
On Monday, the Supreme Court said no, it’s not a violation. In Heien v. North Carolina, eight justices held that a police officer does not violate the Fourth Amendment if he has a mistaken but reasonable interpretation of state criminal law. (Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.)
What Constitutes a Reasonable Seizure
The Fourth Amendment forbids, among other things, "unreasonable" seizures. A traffic stop is a "seizure," and a seizure is unreasonable unless the police have a "reasonable suspicion" that a person has committed a crime (or is about to).
For nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court has made it clear that the "reasonable suspicion" requirement does not demand that an officer be absolutely right; in fact, the officer need not even be more likely right than wrong. A police officer can make a mistake of fact about whether someone has committed a crime and yet still be "reasonable."
In the Heien case, the Court, by an 8-1 vote, added to that law. The Court ruled that a stop can be "reasonable" even if the officer makes a reasonable mistake of law.
In Heien an officer mistakenly, but reasonably, believed that a driver had violated a state traffic law by having only one working brake light. The officer stopped the vehicle, questioned the driver and another occupant, and ultimately found cocaine, which was used to convict the driver and passenger.
Because the officer’s interpretation of the traffic law was reasonable, the Court concluded, there was no Fourth Amendment violation, even though the officer was wrong about the law (in North Carolina, it is not a violation so long as at least one brake light is working).
Police Officers’ Obligation to Know the Law
The Heien opinion will leave many people with the impression everyone must know the criminal law except for the police.
The Heien opinion holds that the police can act "reasonably" even if they don’t know the criminal law but then says that no private party can act "reasonably" if he or she makes the same mistake. That dichotomy implies that the police can break the law, but members of the public cannot, a double standard that is offensive to longstanding American values.
That problem arises from two facts: Private parties use the term "reasonable" in a common-sense manner as a guide for their conduct, but the Fourth Amendment uses that word as a term of art and as a legal standard. The result is that the police can act unlawfully but "reasonably" because the scope and requirements of the Fourth Amendment are not identical to those features of the substantive criminal law. The Court could have saved itself some criticism by making that point, but that is the lesser problem with the opinion.
Citizens and Ignorance of the Law
An obvious question raised by the Heien case is whether a private party can also raise a mistake-of-law claim when he is charged with a crime. The Supreme Court appeared to say "no."
Unfortunately, the Court too glibly treated this important issue.
The Heien opinion will be read as an endorsement of the common law rule that ignorance of the law is no excuse to a crime. The opinion, however, does not examine what that rule means and how it arose.
The common law did not recognize a mistake of law defense because (1) the defense made no sense in past eras when there were only nine felonies, (2) each felony outlawed obviously immoral and harmful conduct, such as murder, rape and robbery, and (3) each crime required the government to prove that the defendant acted with a "guilty mind" or "evil intent."
The no-ignorance rule made sense 600 years ago but makes no sense today because (1) there are thousands of crimes, (2) in many cases no reasonable person would have thought that the conduct at issue was a crime, and (3) the prosecution does not have to prove that a person acted with a "guilty mind" or "evil intent" in every case.
As Heritage has stated on several occasions (see here, here, and here), a strong argument can be made that the Supreme Court should abandon the common law no-ignorance rule because in many cases it has become a senseless anachronism that creates manifest injustices utterly unimaginable when English jurist William Blackstone described the criminal law.
The Supreme Court did not discuss the arguments on the merits of that issue because it did not arise in Heien. The Court discussed the issue merely to respond to an argument advanced by some non-parties who filed amicus curiae ("friend of the court") briefs. Unfortunately, however, many lower courts will cite the Heien opinion as having endorsed the common law rule.
But all may not be lost. It is important to remember, especially at this time of year, that there still could be a happy ending. After all, even Ebenezer Scrooge changed his mind when he finally confronted his past. There is hope that the Supreme Court will do so, too, when a defendant presents a mistake-of-law defense in a proper case.
Posted by bussorah at 9:52 PM
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
'Angel of Death' murders: TV investigation casts doubt over conviction of Colin Norris
Glasgow-born serial killer Colin Norris is serving a minimum of 30 years behind bars, but a TV investigation finds all of his victims could have died from natural causes
New scientific evidence casts fresh doubt on the conviction of a nurse who was jailed for a minimum of 30 years for murdering four elderly women and attempting to kill another, according a TV investigation.
Glasgow-born serial killer Colin Norris, the so-called "Angel of Death", was jailed for life in March 2008, when he was 32, after he was found guilty of murdering the women while working in Leeds General Infirmary and the city's St James's Hospital in 2002.
A doctor raised the alarm after noticing that one of the patients had suddenly and unexpectedly slipped into a hypoglycaemic coma from which she later died.
A jury at Newcastle Crown Court was told that Ethel Hall, 86, who was not diabetic, had been injected with a massive and fatal dose of insulin, which reduced the sugar content in her blood to a level where her brain became starved of the glucose it needed to function properly. Tests showed insulin levels 12 times the norm, the court heard.
Norris has always protested his innocence and denied injecting patients with insulin. His case had been the focus of campaigners who fear a miscarriage of justice and is currently under review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
A BBC Scotland investigation has now raised the possibility that all of Norris's victims could have died from natural causes.
In a programme to be screened tonight - BBC Scotland Investigates: The Innocent Serial Killer? - Professor Terry Wilkin, an endocrinologist specialising in diabetes at the University of Exeter, questions the blood test on Ethel Hall.
Prof Wilkin suggests just over a litre of insulin would have been required to give the result used in court - a test result which was presented as proof of deliberate poisoning.
In the documentary, another expert, Dr Adel Ismail, a retired clinical biochemist, says another explanation for the blood result could be a rare condition called insulin auto immune syndrome (IAS).
According to the programme, IAS was said by prosecution experts at the trial to be too rare to be considered a possible explanation, but more cases have emerged since 2008.
Professor Wilkin said: "The data that has come from the analysis that was done on the samples that were given to the laboratory is perfectly consistent with insulin auto immune syndrome. "So if you're asking me the question, does insulin auto immune syndrome fit with the facts of the case as reported, then yes it does."
Insulin poisoning expert Professor Vincent Marks told the programme it was wrong to conclude in the trial that hypoglycaemia is rare. He said: "It wasn't as well known at the time of the trial as it is now that in the, particularly the elderly, frail, sick person, hypoglycaemia is far from rare." He concludes that the "verdict was unsafe".
The programme makers put the evidence they gathered to one of the jurors from Norris's trial at Newcastle Crown Court. The juror tells the show: "If the new evidence was available at the time, I think they would have thrown the case out."
West Yorkshire Police said: "Norris was arrested, prosecuted and, on the basis of the evidence presented to the court, he was convicted and sentenced. "His conviction was upheld at the Court of Appeal in December 2009. The case is currently under review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) and we will consider their findings when they are presented to us.'
The BBC said it is making its evidence available to the CCRC.
Posted by bussorah at 7:29 PM
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Chinese teenager executed 18 years ago is declared INNOCENT in rare U-turn by country's courts
The family of a Chinese teenager executed after being convicted of murder and rape 18 years ago, howled in anguish as he was declared innocent by a court today in a rare U-turn by the country's courts.
Hugjiltu was just 18 when he was found guilty of raping and murdering a woman in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, in 1996 and was put to death just 61 days after the woman was murdered.
But doubt was cast on the verdict when another man confessed to the crime in 2005, leading to the case being reopened by the Inner Mongolia Higher People's Court in Bobatu last month.
After the court in the autonomous region of northern China issued a statement today finding Hugjiltu not guilty, the dead man's mother, father and brother burned a copy of the decision on his grave in a highly charged protest.
In papers issued to the family at their home, the court ruled the original guilty verdict to be 'not consistent with the facts' and having 'insufficient evidence'.
As he delievered the papers Zhao Jianping, the deputy president of the court, made a profound apology for its mistake in sentencing the teenager, also known as Qoysiletu, to death
After Hugjiltu's mother Shang Aiyun had to be dragged from the teenager's grave as she wailed in pain, his brother Zhaoligetu told Sina.com: 'My mother wished him 'rest in peace' and hoped he could reincarnate.'
Mr Jianping gave Hugjiltu's parents compensation of 30,000 yuan (£3,093), the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
The money was a personal donation by the head of the court, it added, rather than an official payment by the institution.
'This is an amazing thing the court did, to admit that they were wrong,' said Wang Gongyi, deputy director of the research institute of the Ministry of Justice.
'It also sends a clear message to the police and prosecutors around the country – if there's not enough evidence, don't impose wrongful convictions,' he told AFP. 'In the future this case will be singled out as what not to do and will influence the entire legal system.'
In Hugjiltu's case, authorities interrogated the teenager for 48 hours, after which he confessed to having raped and choked the woman in the toilet of a textile factory, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported last month.
After he was executed in June 1996, Hugjiltu's family tried for nearly two decades to prove his innocence.
Finally it was found Hugjiltu's confession did not match the autopsy report, was inconsistent with 'other evidence', and that DNA evidence presented at the trial did not definitively connect him to the crime.
Police in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia where the crime took place, said they had opened an investigation into the officers responsible for the original case, according to the Legal Evening News.
Posted by bussorah at 1:21 PM
Monday, December 15, 2014
Original police file in infamous wrongful conviction missing
Lawyers for wrongfully convicted man want more answers from Chicago cops on file defense alleges was buried. Chicago police say they have turned over all files in case of wrongfully convicted man.
Daniel Taylor's lawsuit marks at least the fourth recent court case in which missing or suddenly rediscovered Chicago police files have been an issue.
Daniel Taylor alleges in a federal lawsuit he spent two decades in prison for a double murder he didn't commit because Chicago police detectives buried evidence that he was locked up at the time of the slayings.
To help bolster that claim, Taylor's attorneys earlier this year asked the city to turn over the original police file chronicling the 1992 homicide investigation.
It's a routine request, but an unexpected snag happened: The file was nowhere to be found.
After an exhaustive search, no one at the Chicago Police Department has been able to locate the original records of the investigation. Under the department's own orders, the files should have been preserved under lock and key at the records division, the city acknowledged in a recent court filing.
Attorneys for the city wrote in a filing last week that it's "unknown when or why (the original file) went missing." But a good-faith effort has been made to find it, and all the information in the city's possession has been turned over, they said.
But Taylor's lawyers are asking U.S. District Judge John Lee to force the city to answer further questions, including whether it is aware of any other cases in which a supposedly permanent homicide investigation record has vanished. If the case goes to trial, they intend to argue to a jury its disappearance was no bureaucratic accident.
"This is a big mystery, and we want to get to the bottom of it," Jon Loevy, Taylor's lead attorney, told the Tribune.
A city Law Department spokesman declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
Taylor's lawsuit marks at least the fourth recent court case in which missing or suddenly rediscovered Chicago police files have been at issue.
Earlier this year, lawyers for former El Rukn gang member Nathson Fields alleged that detectives buried their "street file" in an infamous 1984 double murder for more than a quarter of a century, withholding potentially valuable information from Fields' attorneys at his original trial as well as a 2009 retrial.
The Fields file finally turned up inside an old filing cabinet stuffed with hundreds of homicide cases, many of which should have been permanently warehoused years earlier, according to Fields' lawsuit.
The cabinet took center stage at the trial on Fields' claims in May, when it was wheeled into U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly's courtroom for the jury to view. The jury, however, was not swayed, finding there wasn't a conspiracy to hide the street file and awarding Fields just $80,000 in damages.
In another case in August, lawyers for James Kluppelberg — wrongfully convicted of setting a 1984 fire that killed a woman and her five children in their Back of the Yards home — learned that Kluppelberg's original investigative file had been found at a police warehouse at 39th Street and Michigan Avenue.
Inexplicably, the file was in a pallet full of boxes that had been "labeled for destruction," court records show. Loevy, who also represents Kluppelberg, said the file contains evidence pointing to his innocence that was never turned over at his criminal trial. The city has denied that claim, and the lawsuit is pending.
Meanwhile, in February, special prosecutor Dan Webb revealed in his report on the killing of David Koschman that the working police file in that explosive case was found stuffed in a box in a detectives' locker room at Belmont and Western, not in the records division where it should have been.
A decade after the Rush Street death, Richard Vanecko, a nephew of former Mayor Richard Daley was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for throwing the punch that killed Koschman. Webb, however, concluded in his report that there was not enough evidence to bring charges against any of the police detectives involved in the investigation.
Taylor was a 17-year-old gang member when he and seven other young men were arrested for the 1992 murders of Jeffrey Lassiter and Sharon Haugabook near Clarendon Park. All eight confessed and implicated one another in their statements.
But soon after he confessed, Taylor told police he believed he'd been in the lockup at the old Town Hall police station at Addison and Halsted streets at the time of the slayings. Police records, in fact, showed he had been arrested about two hours before the two were killed and released on bond more than an hour after the slayings. Still, he was convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
A Tribune investigation in 2001 uncovered evidence that supported Taylor's innocence claim and raised questions about how police put together their case against Taylor. After more than 20 years of fighting for his innocence, Taylor was released from prison last year after Cook County prosecutors dismissed the case.
Taylor's lawsuit, filed in February, alleged detectives obtained his confession by beating him and promising to release him. Once they learned he'd been in custody, detectives set about manufacturing evidence to undermine that claim, including a false report by two police officers claiming they had seen him coming out of an apartment complex minutes before the killings, the suit alleged.
Police also failed to tell Taylor's criminal defense attorney that a man who had been in the lockup with Taylor had corroborated his alibi, according to the lawsuit.
One of the original investigative documents that appears to be missing from the copies provided to Taylor's attorneys was a Dec. 30, 1992, general progress report concerning attempts to interview that man, John Anderson, about his contact with Taylor in the lockup, according to Taylor's attorneys.
Police records show that based on that progress report, a detective went the following day to an Uptown neighborhood Salvation Army looking for Anderson during the breakfast rush but couldn't find him.
Attorneys for the city said in court filings that after the Taylor file was discovered missing from the records division, an exhaustive search was conducted.
An Area North detective led a team that combed through hundreds of boxes and file cabinets at both the area headquarters and warehouse. Even a boiler room and gun range were explored in an effort to leave no stone unturned, city attorneys said.
In a response filed Tuesday, Loevy scoffed at the city's contention that it has shed all the light it can on how the Taylor file went missing.
"It's not like the plaintiff is asking the city to explain who built Stonehenge or what happened to Jimmy Hoffa's body," Loevy wrote.
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