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Officer Down

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

SCAVO / MELROSE TRIALS: Updates (Motions)

A few things have been happening. Vito Scavo's attorney has filed a few motions in the past week. One of them requesting permission for Scavo to travel to Kentucky to be honored with the 1970 Murray State baseball team. Not quite sure how how welcomed he will be, but to each their own. I don't judge, I report.

A motion was also filed asking to extend the reply date and sentencing date for Scavo due ti his attorneys having other matters pending in court.

And lastly, a response was filed by Scavo's attorneys to the U.S. Attorney's response to his motion for a new trial.

All motions are ready for download for your reading convenience.

Download Travel Request >>HERE<<

Download Sentencing Extension >>HERE<<

Download Motion Reply >>HERE<<

----------------------------------------------------

NEWS: 'Cops' TV Crew, Officer Hurt in Oregon Crash


Story by kptv.com

PORTLAND, Ore. --

A Portland police patrol car carrying two crew members from the television show "Cops" collided with another car Tuesday night, police said.

A Subaru Outback traveling in the opposite direction drifted into the lane of the patrol car and hit the officer's car head on, said Detective Mary Wheat of the Portland Police Bureau. The crash occurred at Southeast 136th Avenue and Stark Street at about 9 p.m.

At least one of the cars involved rolled over onto its top.

Three people in the police car were injured and taken to local hospitals. They're all expected to survive, Wheat said. There were no serious injuries to the other driver.

Wheat said the officer involved in the wreck was not responding to a report of a crime.

A major crash team from the Portland Police Bureau has started investigating the crash. About nine blocks of Stark Street were shut down Tuesday night for the investigation.

Iesha Ash, who lives in the area, witnessed the aftermath of the crash.

"It's very bad. If you get on the other side, the cop car is all smashed up," Ash said. "And then the car is all smashed up so it's pretty bad."

"Cops" has been filming episodes in Portland for the past six weeks.

NEWS: Last Des Plaines investigator on Gacy case stepping down

Rafael Tovar was one of first officers involved in notorious case

Retiring Des Plaines Detective Rafael Tovar in the cell where John Wayne Gacy was detained. "It kept surprising us every day," he says of the case. (Tribune photo by Chris Sweda / September 24, 2009)


By Andrea L. Brown

Special to the Tribune

September 30, 2009

The Des Plaines Police Department is losing its last direct link to its most infamous case -- serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Detective Rafael Tovar talked with Gacy a number of times and still receives calls about once a month from students doing term papers or crime buffs curious about the case that thrust Des Plaines into national headlines more than 30 years ago.

Tovar, the last remaining investigator in the department who worked on the Gacy case, is scheduled to retire Wednesday.

Police unearthed bodies from the crawl space of Gacy's house in Norwood Park Township after his arrest in December 1978. He was convicted of murdering 33 men and boys and executed in 1994.

The horror as the facts unfolded decades ago is difficult to comprehend today, Tovar said.

Over several months, investigators found 29 bodies at Gacy's house and four others in the Des Plaines River.

"It kept surprising us every day," he said.

Tovar was part of the investigation early on when police questioned Gacy about the disappearance of his last victim from the alley of a drugstore on Touhy Avenue in Des Plaines. Tovar eventually became the liaison for Des Plaines when Cook County investigators took over the case.

In his several conversations with Gacy, Tovar discovered he sometimes told the truth and other times dropped coy hints.

"If he figured out we would find out, he would be honest," Tovar said. "If not, he would play games."

Tovar said that in his last conversation with Gacy, as he and two other investigators transported him to the Cook County Jail, Gacy implied that he had killed others. Tovar asked, "How many were there really?"

Gacy replied, "Forty-five sounds like a good number," Tovar recalled.

"There is no doubt in my mind there are at least 45 bodies," he said.

Asked why Gacy committed the crimes, Tovar said, "Some people choose to be evil."

Solving the Gacy murders was the most important case Des Plaines police ever have worked, Chief Jim Prandini said.

"We learned a lot in the department on how to manage such a large investigation," Prandini said. "We're not afraid to jump in with both feet. Detective Tovar was at the front end of that."

Tovar is known as a versatile and successful investigator -- skills he honed as a patrol officer. When he started in 1970, Tovar was the first Spanish-speaking officer in the suburbs. Neighboring departments often asked him to translate witness interviews in homicide investigations.

He joined the Cook County Metropolitan Enforcement Group in 1972, shortly after it formed, and was involved off and on until 1995. He worked local, county and federal investigations, operating under the street name "Jake."

From buying a marijuana cigarette for $1 to brokering a 1-ton cocaine purchase, Tovar said, he has handled it all.

"Jake Tovar was the finest narcotics undercover investigator I've worked with since I've been here," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Morris Pasqual, a federal prosecutor since 1990 and chief of the narcotics section.

Though his investigative work has been exciting, Tovar said his most rewarding experience was as a patrol officer. In 1971 police officers answered all ambulance calls, and one such call came on a cold February day when a man trying to drive his pregnant wife to the hospital couldn't start his car.

Tovar arrived and helped deliver a girl. He stayed in touch with the family over the years, and after the girl's father died, Tovar stepped in to help her again.

"I walked her down the aisle at her wedding," he said.

Tovar plans to spend his retirement traveling and writing. He has fleshed out ideas for short stories about growing up in southwest Texas when Hispanics and whites were segregated. He also plans to write about his most interesting drug cases.

Odds are good that the city will press him into service for his knowledge of department history and his expertise on the Gacy case.

"He's the last person who has firsthand knowledge," Prandini said.

NEWS: Guilty verdict in Brown's Chicken massacre

--I can't the jury giving him the death penalty. Luna was given life by one vote and I can't see this jury giving him differently--
Duke

2nd man, James Degorski, is convicted in the 1993 killings of 7 in Palatine
By Matthew Walberg

Tribune reporter

September 30, 2009

The packed courtroom was silent Tuesday as the judge's clerk took 30 seconds to read a verdict that many in the room waited 16 years to hear.

Victims' relatives struggled to keep their composure. Some clasped each others' hands, others stifled sobs, all trying to keep their emotions in check to avoid being removed from court after a warning moments earlier by the judge.

At the defense table, James Degorski showed no reaction as the clerk announced "guilty" seven times, making him the second defendant convicted for one of the Chicago area's most infamous crimes -- the 1993 massacre of seven workers at a Brown's Chicken restaurant in Palatine.

The jury took only 90 minutes to reach its decision -- about half the time lawyers on both sides spent on closing arguments earlier Tuesday. By contrast, his accomplice's jury took nearly 12 hours in 2007 to find him guilty even though it had overwhelming physical evidence and a video confession.

Amid acrimony and criticism over the lengthy investigation, Degorski's conviction marks a successful end for prosecutors to a mass-murder case that at one time seemed unlikely to ever be solved.

The same jury returns to the Cook County Criminal Courts Building on Wednesday to decide if Degorski, 37, is eligible for the death penalty.

Degorski's accomplice, Juan Luna, was sentenced to life in prison after a lone juror refused to impose the death penalty.

"It was a long process getting to this point, but we're certainly happy with the verdict," said Jim Schwantz, mayor of Palatine, which was rocked by the slayings. "As a community we look forward to closing the book on this and moving forward."

Frank Portillo, owner of the Brown's Chicken chain, said he welcomed the verdict for victims' families as well as franchise owners and employees who had the tragedy hovering over them all these years.

"I'm glad it's coming to closure for them too," he said. "I don't like to give interviews about it too much because it's not good for business. Now we can all put this behind us."

The evidence against Degorski appeared to be weaker than against Luna. A fingerprint, DNA evidence and a lengthy video confession linked Luna to the murders. But no physical evidence tied Degorski to the crime.

As a result, the prosecution case against Degorski largely hinged on the credibility of Anne England, his former girlfriend, and Eileen Bakalla, a friend from high school. In 2002, the two women broke the case that had stymied police for nearly a decade by disclosing that Degorski had confessed in the days after the murders.

A police task force member and a prosecutor also testified at trial that Degorski had confessed in 2002 to killing two of the victims, but the prosecution chose not to use a short video statement he had given.

Jurors were unavailable for comment because their duties aren't over, but they clearly must have believed England and Bakalla to reach such a quick verdict following a month of testimony. The defense had attacked the women's credibility, saying their drug use clouded their memories. England also had a history of psychiatric troubles.

Relatives of the victims -- restaurant owners Richard Ehlenfeldt and his wife, Lynn, and employees Tom Mennes, Marcus Nellsen, Guadalupe Maldonado, Rico Solis and Michael Castro -- played a mix of emotion. Some smiled and others cried as they left the courthouse but declined to comment. Degorski's family also would not talk to reporters.

Circuit Judge Vince Gaughan had warned that any family members who spoke to the news media wouldn't be allowed to testify during the death penalty phase.

Attorneys on both sides of the case also had little to say about the case because of Gaughan's "gag" order.

"Our next step is to convince the jury that life in prison is the appropriate sentence," said Assistant Public Defender Mark Levitt, who represented Degorski.

Degorski didn't appear surprised by the verdict. Moments after jurors were escorted from the courtroom, he seemed relaxed as he spoke with one of his lawyers, a slight smile flashing on his face.

In closing arguments earlier Tuesday, prosecutors focused on why Degorski committed the murders -- and who were the first two people he told.

"It was all about doing something big," Assistant State's Attorney Thomas Biesty said as he repeated a prosecution theme. "But what's the use of doing something big if you can't tell anybody."

Before England first approached police in March 2002 with her secret, police had interviewed hundreds of people, pursued thousands of leads and obtained false confessions from two people. But England, who had details only the killer could know, led them to Bakalla, who corroborated England's story. After Luna and Degorski were arrested, the two implicated each other in the murders.

England learned of the slayings after she was released from a mental health facility for an attempted suicide.

Prosecutors said Bakalla had no motive to lie about a man she still considers a friend.The defense concentrated less on the women than on the behavior of police investigating the murders, reminding jurors that before Degorski was charged, authorities had obtained false confessions from two people who said they were browbeaten into their confessions.

Faced with no physical evidence linking his client to the crime, the defense said police and prosecutors scrambled to concoct convoluted explanations to account for why no fingerprints, no shoe prints or no DNA from Degorski were recovered at the scene.

"If they could have linked Jim Degorski to this case, they would have," Levitt said. "They did not, because they cannot, because he wasn't there, because he did not do it, because he is not guilty."

NEWS: Supreme Court to hear Chicago gun case

--This was a long time in coming--
Duke

September 30, 2009 9:46 AM UPDATED STORY
The Supreme Court announced this morning it will hear a challenge to Chicago's gun restrictions that will determine if local handgun bans are legal.

Last year, the high court ruled the 2nd Amendment gave individuals the right to possess firearms and struck down Washington, D.C.'s gun bans.

Left open was the question of whether states and local governments are required to do the same.

But the court said today it will review a lower court ruling in the case of McDonald vs. City of Chicago that upheld a handgun ban in Chicago. That action court potentially could set in motion a nationwide re-establishment of the right to bear arms. The case will be argued next year.
With the court's action today, Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said his organization has a good chance at reversing the city's ban. The rifle association is a party to the McDonald suit.

"All the ban does is prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves," Pearson said. "It has no affect on the criminals at all."

If anything, not allowing citizens to carry guns puts criminals at an advantage, Pearson said.

City officials were not immediately available for comment.

In the high court's decision in June of last year, it ruled 5-4 for the first time that the 2nd Amendment establishes the right to own a handgun for personal self-defense, not only as part of a state militia.

Mayor Richard Daley immediately condemned the court's decision and vowed to fight any attempt to invalidate the city's now 27-year-old gun ban.

Hours after the court's decision, the Illinois State Rifle Association sued Chicago and Daley in an attempt to overturn the ban.

One of the plaintiffs is Otis McDonald, an elderly man who last year lived in the Morgan Park area and told the Chicago Tribune he keeps a shotgun at home to protect himself from gangs that plagued his neighborhood.

After the court ruled in the Washington, D.C., case, Morton Grove, Wilmette, Evanston and Winnetka dropped their gun bans, in large measure to fend off costly lawsuits.

In the McDonald case, Judge Frank Easterbrook, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, said that "the Constitution establishes a federal republic where local differences are to be cherished as elements of liberty rather than extirpated in order to produce a single, nationally applicable rule."

"Federalism is an older and more deeply rooted tradition than is a right to carry any particular kind of weapon," Easterbrook wrote.

Evaluating arguments over the extension of the 2nd Amendment is a job "for the justices rather than a court of appeals," he said.

he high court took his suggestion today.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, then an appeals court judge, was part of a three-judge panel in New York that reached a similar conclusion in January.

Judges on both courts -- Republican nominees in Chicago and Democratic nominees in New York -- said only the Supreme Court could decide whether to extend last year's ruling throughout the country. Many, but not all, of the constitutional protections in the Bill of Rights have been applied to cities and states.

The New York ruling also has been challenged, but the court did not act on it Wednesday. Sotomayor would have to sit out any case involving decisions she was part of on the appeals court. Although the issue is the same in the Chicago case, there is no ethical bar to her participation in its consideration by the Supreme Court.

Several Republican senators cited the Sotomayor gun ruling, as well as her reticence on the topic at her confirmation hearing, in explaining their decision to oppose her confirmation to the high court.

--Kristen Schorsch and Associated Press

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NEWS: S.C. Mayor Reinstates Police Pursuits

--At least someone pulled this mayor's head out of their ass--
Duke

Posted: September 29th, 2009 06:10 PM EDT

Officer.com News

The Mayor of Wellford, S.C. has agreed to reverse her recent, controversial policy banning police from chasing suspects, according to WTKR-TV3.

Mayor Sallie Peake instituted the policy earlier this month on the grounds that several officers have been injured during chases, driving up insurance costs for the town.

The reversal was made in response to a letter from the town solicitor stating that the policy conflicted with officers' sworn duty to uphold the law by preventing them from pursuing fleeing felons.

Peake told the news station that she is not happy about resuming chases, but now, "Officers can do whatever they want."

NEWS: Man, 19, charged with suffocating 5-month-old son

--If this guy is not a death row candidate, I don't know who is.--
Duke
Randel L. Thomas is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly suffocating his 5-month-old son.

September 29, 2009
STNGWire

Bond was set at $5 million Tuesday for a 19-year-old Bolingbrook man charged in the death of his 5-month-old son.

Randel L. Thomas, of the 100 block of Jeffrey Lane in Bolingbrook, is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly suffocating his baby son, according to a Will County State's Attorney's office release. Bond was set at $5 million Tuesday.

On Friday about 2:05 p.m., a 911 call was placed from the home because a baby there was not breathing, police said. Bolingbrook Police and Fire units responded and found the child unconscious and not breathing, police said. The infant was taken to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital where he was pronounced dead later that day.

Thomas and the baby's grandparents, of the same address, were home at the time of the incident and were subsequently interviewed by Bolingbrook detectives.

Thomas is alleged to have pushed down on the child's head with his hand, thereby suffocating the baby, according to the state's attorney's office.

Thomas is being held at the Will County Jail and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. on Oct. 26 in Room 405 at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet.

NEWS: 2 could be charged in escapee crime spree

--Opinions....--
Duke

September 29, 2009 (WLS) -- Two Cook County investigators may face charges after a convicted felon escaped from their custody and eluded police in a two-day crime spree earlier this month.

Robert Maday, 39, allegedly freed himself and disarmed officers Nick Argentine and Joe Fallon, then took off in the car they were using to drive him to court.

Police say Maday carjacked two women and robbed a Bloomingdale bank before he was captured more than a day later.

The suspended investigators are accused of failing to conduct themselves professionally.

-------------------------------------

NEWS: Police Worry About Demise of Crown Vic

Ford to halt production after 2011

BY REX HALL JR
Kalamazoo Gazette (Michigan)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- For police agencies, the Ford Crown Victoria has been like an old friend -- dependable, always there.

So news that Ford Motor Co. plans to halt production of the sedan after 2011 worries local law enforcement leaders, who say they are worried about finding a suitable successor and about the potential costs of replacing equipment that has fit the "Crown Vic" year after year.

"It's unfortunate for us," Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller said. "The cage alone inside our Crown Vics is the same cage for the Crown Vic five years back, and that's an expensive piece of equipment ... The Crown Vic is dependable; they fit what we need.

"That's all going to go out the window when they switch to the Ford Taurus."

The Taurus may be Ford's next police vehicle, according to an Aug. 28 report in the Detroit News, though the automaker has not officially announced a successor to the Crown Victoria.

In Lansing, where the Michigan State Police tests police vehicles, Lt. Keith Wilson said the Crown Victoria has been the car of choice among police agencies for the past several years because of its proven durability and serviceability.

Wilson, commander of the State Police's precision-driving unit, also said that until 2006, the Crown Victoria was the only police-rated vehicle with rear-wheel drive, often a preferred option for police.

"We're confident that whatever Ford brings to the table as a replacement for the Crown Vic will be a quality product," Wilson said. "They're very aware of the needs of law enforcement. It is their goal to retain their market share of police-vehicle sales."

Bill Campbell, fleet- and government-sales manager for Signature Ford and Mercury in Owosso, which has sold vehicles to agencies that include the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office and Kalamazoo Township Police Department, said Ford holds about 80 percent of the market for police-vehicle sales. The remaining 20 percent is spread among Chevrolet's Impala and Tahoe models and Dodge's police-rated Charger.

Campbell said that though Ford officials have been tight-lipped about a replacement for the Crown Victoria, his dealership has been told the automaker plans to offer two police-rated vehicles after 2011. He said he has not been told whether those will be new models or ones the company already has in production.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said the department buys eight to 12 Crown Victorias per year and generally keeps them on the road three to four years.

Hadley said he hopes that whatever Ford offers in the future, it will have enough space for the array of equipment officers need at their fingertips, including a computer, a mobile recording unit and radio and enough trunk space for the large amount of turnout gear officers in the combined police-fire force need to respond to fires.

He said he also hopes equipment the department is currently using in its Crown Victorias will fit whatever replaces them.

"If we don't have to replace our equipment, we don't incur an additional burden to the taxpayer," said Lt. Jon Uribe, acting captain of Public Safety's Services Division, which manages the agency's fleet.

Ford has told State Police officials it plans to work closely with police agencies and aftermarket vehicle outfitters before 2011 to allow departments to purchase whatever equipment they might need for the new patrol vehicles, the State Police's Wilson said.

"Fundamentally, I think the No. 1 concern is making sure the vehicle is safe for the officers," Hadley said.

The chief said the Crown Victoria is popular among officers mostly because of its handling, roominess and familiarity.

"Obviously, every year as you buy the same cars, officers become familiar with it," he said. "They like it ... they know how the car is going to react."

R.I.P.: Kansas Deputy, Suspect Fatally Shot


BY STAN FINDER and TIM POTTER
The Wichita Eagle, Kan.

WICHITA, Kan. -- A Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy and the man authorities say shot him have died, sheriff officials said this evening.

Deputy Brian S. Etheridge died after being shot twice about noon today (Sept. 28). The suspect, whom authorities did not identify, was shot and critically wounded as he tried to avoid capture early this evening, authorities said. He died at 6:10 p.m.

Etheridge, 26, was shot twice -- in the torso and in the leg or foot -- at about noon today at 3636 S. Rock Road, where he had responded to the report of a larceny, authorities said. He leaves behind a wife and small child.

He underwent surgery at Wesley Medical Center but died a few hours after he was shot, authorities said.

"It is a deep tragedy for all of law enforcement," and especially for the Sheriff's Office, Undersheriff Mike Stover said.

Etheridge had been with the department for 18 months, Sheriff Robert Hinshaw said.

The suspect in the case, a 27-year-old man, was spotted in a field about a quarter-mile from where the shooting occurred and was wounded as he exchanged gunfire with law enforcement officers.

Etheridge was responding to the report of a larceny at the house on South Rock Road, but Hinshaw said the call may have been "a set-up" to lure a law enforcement officer to the house.

The deputy was rushed to Wesley Medical Center, where he underwent surgery, and doctors were initially optimistic about his recovery. But his condition worsened in midafternoon and he died.

After Etheridge was shot, authorities set up a one-mile perimeter around the shooting location and asked people to leave their homes if possible.

Wineteer Elementary in Derby was placed on lockdown for a few hours after the shooting, Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw said authorities are interviewing relatives and neighbors of the 27-year-old suspect.

Authorities cordoned off an area between Rock and Webb roads and between 31st Street South and 39th Street South. Authorities asked motorists to avoid the area.

Hinshaw said emergency dispatchers received a call at 11:42 a.m. of a possible larceny. Etheridge, who was alone, arrived at the scene at 11:51 a.m. At 12:01 p.m., he reported to dispatch that he had been shot.

After the shooting, officers and deputies from several law enforcement agencies -- including Wichita police, the Kansas Highway Patrol, Derby Police Department and the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office -- were on the scene.

A combined SWAT team from the Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office and another from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation also were on the scene.

K-9 units also were present.

The shooting occurred just east of McConnell Air Force Base. Hinshaw said there did not appear to be any connection with the base.

Etheridge is the first local law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty in nine years, and the first sheriff's deputy to be killed since 1997.

Monday, September 28, 2009

NEWS: Trustees surprised at alleged dogfighting in Maywood

September 25, 2009

By DAVID POLLARD dpollard@pioneerlocal.com

Maywood elected officials were for the most part surprised that the mistreatment of dogs and alleged dogfights were taking place in the village.

"This was the first that I heard of it when it hit the news," said Maywood Trustee Audrey Jaycox. "I had no complaints (from residents) or inquiries about it."

She believes those involved were not people who grew up in Maywood. She wishes someone had spoken up sooner.

"You should be checking your surroundings for anything that relates to kids," she said. "You would think there would be some concern with that many dogs around there. Somebody around there had to be aware of something."

Trustee Dominique Garrett-Flowers said she was disgusted with what law enforcement officials found at the residences.

"I think it is appalling," she said. "I'm a dog owner myself. I think it is absolutely sick."

Trustee Kim Johnson is an animal lover and has a Lhasa Apso breed of dog, and has owned racing Greyhounds in the past.

She said the incident has her a bit embarrassed and a little sad in regards the abuse the animals received.

"It's kind of sad," she said. "I think they (dog owners) were taking them somewhere else to fight."

She wonders also how the daycare, where some of the dogs were found, really made their money. "From the daycare or the dogfighting?" she asked.

NEWS: Dogfighting on your block: Neighbors react to alleged dogfighting in Maywood

September 25, 2009
By MARIO BARTOLETTI mbartoletti@pioneerlocal.com

A lot of these dog men deal drugs, too; they'll kill you, torch your house, said a resident on 3rd Avenue, whose name Pioneer Press agreed to withhold.

"Almost no one on the block knew (they were fighting dogs) because you would see them walking by and the dogs were clean," he said. "But none of them has tags or insurance."

He said if you came close enough to the (daycare home on 2101 S. 3rd Ave.) you could smell the blood and feces from the dogs being bred. "But even if anyone knew, people are afraid to say anything, because they will come after you," he said.

While there were pit bulls near the children, there were also catch dogs, known as Canary dogs, a large, heavily muscled breed called Perro de Presa Canario which was infamously involved in fatal attacks on women in 2001 and 2006. But dog experts have said the breed is tolerant and even affectionate with children, but suspicious of and aloof with strangers.

"We have had dog attacks in the neighborhood in the past," he said. "A lot of people have dogs because they're afraid of being robbed."

Dogfighting doesn't cause burglaries and muggings, he said, but the neighborhood is close to the expressway and makes for an easy getaway.

"Dogfighting brings that element from Chicago into the neighborhood," he said. "I'm glad they closed the place. God forbid one of these kids gets eaten up."

Another resident, whose name Pioneer Press also agreed not to print, a frequent visitor to the neighborhood, said the neighborhood was so quiet she had not even heard about the dogfighting.

"I come here a lot," she said. "Not near that house, but it doesn't make me nervous."

Still another 3rd Avenue resident, also not named, said she had seen dogs at the house before and heard them barking.

"They didn't look like they were being harmed," she said. "Only two dogs would be out in the yard and they would be fine."

She said she talked with a relative when she heard dogs were forced to fight in the garage behind the house.

"We saw a lot of people going back and forth with dogs, but it was quiet. I talked to (my relative) and I said, 'I don't think they were hurting them.' She (the relative) said, 'Yes, one of the dogs had a broken leg; others were messed up,' " she said. "I was like, 'I didn't even know that. Right here. That's so sad.' "

NEWS: Three teens charged in fatal Fenger High beating

September 28, 2009
STNG Wire

Three teens have been charged with murder in the beating death of a 16-year-old boy Thursday afternoon near Fenger High School in the Far South Side Roseland neighborhood.

Silvanus Shannon, 19; Eric Carson, 16; and Eugene Riley, 18, all of Chicago, are charged with one count each of first-degree murder, according to Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton. Carson is being charged as an adult, and all three are scheduled for a bond hearing at noon.

About 3 p.m. Thursday, police responded to a large group of people fighting in the 300 block of West 111th Street and found a male punched, kicked and struck about the body, according to News Affairs Sgt. Antoinette Ursitti.

Derrion Albert, 16, of 12138 S. Normal Ave., was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

The incident occurred at the Agape Community Center at 342 W. 111th St.

Milton Massie, Director of Agape Community Center, saw the melee on surveillance tape. "The whole incident took a span of four minutes," Massie said. "Kids were coming from the east and the west and converging in the middle of the street. Kids were also gathering in the empty lot next to the center."

Massie said he saw one person hit another in the back of the head, causing him to fall to the ground. He then saw at least three or four teens beating another. "Kids were hopping over cars, bringing sticks. It was like a riot." Massie said. Massie estimated at least three people were hurt.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Child Abduction Emergency - Cook (Illinois)

CHILD ABDUCTION EMERGENCY AT THE REQUEST OF THE ILLINOIS STATE
POLICE...

AT THE REQUEST OF THE SCHAUMBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT, THE ILLINOIS
EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM IS ACTIVATED FOR AN AMBER ALERT.

THE SCHAUMBURG POLICE HAVE A CONFIRMED CHILD ABDUCTION THAT OCCURRED
AT 1055 NORTH SALEM. NEVEAH M GOMEZ IS A FEMALE... 1 YEAR OLD... 40
INCHES TALL... 27 POUNDS... WITH SHORT CURLY BROWN HAIR AND BROWN
EYES. SHE IS WEARING A PINK ONSIE. SHE WAS TAKEN BY KARINA GOMEZ
WHO IS A FEMALE HISPANIC... 21 YEARS OLD... 5 FEET 4 INCHES... 180
POUNDS... BLONDE AND BLACK SHORT LENGTH HAIR AND BROWN EYES... WITH
A TATTOO ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HER NECK AND A PIERCED LIP. KARINA
GOMEZ IS DRIVING A GOLD 2004 PONTIAC GRAND AM WITH ILLINOIS LICENSE
X-9-2-3-5-0-3.

ANYONE WITH INFORMATION SHOULD CALL 9-1-1 AND ADVISE THEY HAVE AN
AMBER ALERT REPORT. THIS CONCLUDES THIS AMBER ALERT ISSUED BY THE
ILLINOIS STATE POLICE.

Commentary: Murder in the worst degree

--Excellent words, if you ask me.--
Duke

(CNN) -- There are some things we should never allow ourselves to get used to.

Yes, ours is a violent society. We take ghastly acts, and, almost out of exhausted resignation, we categorize them with convenient labels.

The mowing down of people walking along city streets? "Drive-by shootings," as if the carnage is part of some video game. The attacks, sometimes deadly, upon motorists on their way home? "Road rage," as if the brutal assaults are understandable, a traffic-related offense.

We probably shouldn't be blamed for at times letting all of this wash over us. There is only so much cruelty that can be absorbed before a kind of numbness sets in.

Yet there is a certain kind of crime we must not let ourselves become accustomed to. Because if we do, then we are truly adrift.

Twice during the last week, reports of such crimes have been presented to us.

In North Naples, Florida, a woman and her five children were found slain in their townhouse. The throats of Guerline Damas and her sons and daughters, their ages ranging from 11 months to 9 years, had been slashed. Damas' husband, Mesac Damas, faces six counts of first-degree murder.

A family, erased.

And just as that news was sinking in came the report from the tiny town of Beason, Illinois. Raymond Gee, 46, his wife, Ruth, 39, and three of their children were found dead in their home, all five the victims of blunt-force trauma. Logan County Sheriff Steven Nichols said it was "a brutal homicide against an entire family." Police were looking for the killer or killers.

The violent obliteration of families, either by members of those families or by outside intruders, crushes something elemental in us, something sacrosanct. The murder of families is like no other crime, because to carry out such an act speaks of -- there is no other proper phrase for it -- utter soullessness.

We have always been taught: When there is nothing else, there is family. When, in times of the deepest despair, there is no one to lean on, there is family. Family is -- or at least should be -- the synonym for safety. Life's protective barrier against the world's dangers.

For people in families with agonizing problems, this can be tested and can fail. And the concept of family has been trivialized by some who would use it to further their own ends: certain political operatives and entertainment conglomerates and marketing firms, who know that "family" is such an emotionally powerful word that it can be used to sell just about anything.

But the power of the word is based on something profound and real, which is why, when someone decides to eradicate entire families, the implications are not just Shakepearean in their force, but something approaching biblical. This is not supposed to happen. No one has the right.

And although it is not an everyday occurrence, it transpires enough that we begin to forget the names and places.

In Mason, Ohio, last year, police said that Michel Veillette stabbed his wife, Nadya, and then set fire to the family's home, killing their four children, Marguerite, Vincent, Jacob and Mia. Veillette hanged himself in a jail cell while awaiting trial. In a Towson, Maryland, hotel room in April, police said, William Parente killed his wife, Betty, and daughters Catherine and Stephanie, before taking his own life. In Columbia, Illinois, this year, Sheri Coleman and her children Garett and Gavin were found strangled in their home. Coleman's husband, Christopher, has been charged with first-degree murder.

It is not an American phenomenon. In the village of Kabulpura in India this month, seven members of a retired teacher's family were found strangled. A 19-year-old woman and her boyfriend have been arrested; police said that the dead included the young woman's parents and her brother.

In South Africa four years ago, 15 people died in a single weekend when men opened fire on their own family members. Liz Dooley, director of the Family Life Centre in Johannesburg, told the South African Press Association that news reports of such crimes were potentially dangerous, because if people read or hear about them, "it becomes catching."

Meaning: Others may copy the crimes and commit them against their own families. As if such a thought is even comprehensible.

Often a motive, after the fact, is ascribed: jealousy or money problems or alcohol or drugs. Sometimes robbery, with the families selected at random.

All of which, in a law-enforcement sense, may be factual.

But the willful and violent ending of a family's life must never become one more story at which we glance briefly and then turn the newspaper page or zap to another channel on the cable box or click to the next screen on our laptop.

For if we lose our capacity to be shattered when this happens, then we have lost a part of ourselves.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

NEWS: 2 more ex-SOS cops plead guilty

ELITE UNIT | Both former officers get probation in deal

September 26, 2009
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter rhussain@suntimes.com

Two former Chicago Police officers were sentenced to probation Friday after they pleaded guilty to charges related to the Special Operations Section corruption investigation.

By agreeing to Cook County prosectors' plea deal, Frank Villareal and James McGovern joined five of their ex-colleagues who recently copped to robbing purported gang members and drug dealers. The deal is in exchange for providing information in the continuing state and federal probes of the now disbanded elite SOS unit.

But Villareal, 41, and McGovern, 43, were spared from the jail time Judge John J. Fleming ordered the others rogue officers to serve.

Villareal received four year's probation for theft.

James McGovern, a former sergeant, got even less: two year's probation for misdemeanor attempted obstruction of justice.

Villareal and McGovern were among the group of officers who stopped mostly Hispanic male motorists without probable cause, conducted illegal searches in their homes, stole their money and then tried to cover it up, according to Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Lynn McCarthy.

Villareal and several others inventoried 300 grams of cannabis and a weapon they found in a residence, in the 4500 block of West Marquette, on March 28, 2004. But they failed to report that they pried open a safe and found cash, a gold watch and a 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, McCarthy said, rattling off their crimes.

On June 30, 2004, Villareal searched the first floor of a home as the alleged scheme's ringleader, Jerome Finnigan, and officer Bart Maka snatched the phone away from a woman who was pregnant with triplets, McCarthy said. The woman, handcuffed for objecting to the illegal search, had been trying to call for help.

McGovern split money he recovered with other officers after shakedowns in 2003 and 2004.

He and several others only inventoried $2,790 of the $5,000 they found in a home in the 1400 block of East 67th Place and pocketed the rest, McCarthy said.

On Feb. 14, 2004, when a purported drug dealer told officers they could find additional cash in a residence in the 5600 block of South Kostner, McGovern and four others split $10,000 of the $30,000 to $35,000 they recovered.

Villareal also lied under oath when he testified against a man he helped arrest in 2005, telling a judge he saw the suspect drop a bag of drugs when he and Finnigan chased him, McCarthy said. The bag of cannabis mixed with cocaine was actually obtained in an illegal search.

-------------------------------------------------

Friday, September 25, 2009

R.I.P.: Alabama Deputy Run Over, Killed at Traffic Stop


BY ALAN RIQUELMY
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Ga.

OPELIKA, Ala. -- Lee County Sheriff's Deputy James Anderson died Thursday while in the line of duty.

Anderson, 39, was struck by a vehicle just before 1 p.m. CDT as he approached a car during a traffic stop at Lee Road 240 and Lee Road 234 in Smiths Station, said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones. The suspect driving the car, Gregory Lance Henderson, 31, of Columbus faces a charge of capital murder, the sheriff said.

Anderson, a three-year veteran of the sheriff's office, was the passenger in the patrol vehicle when the traffic stop happened, Jones said. The suspect's vehicle pulled into a driveway, and the sheriff's car pulled in behind it.

The suspect turned his car to the right, as if to pull back onto the road. The sheriff's car pulled to the right as well to block his exit, Jones said.

That's when Anderson got out of his vehicle and approached the suspect's car while the other deputy remained behind the wheel.

"When (Anderson) attempted to make contact with the driver of the stopped vehicle, the driver accelerated forward, striking the deputy and pinning him under his car," Jones said. "At that point, the other deputy took the offender into custody. Within minutes, other law enforcement officers and emergency equipment arrived."

Anderson was taken to The Medical Center in Columbus, where he was pronounced dead, Jones said.

Henderson is being held at a location other than the Lee County Jail for security reasons, the sheriff said. He has no bond.

Anderson leaves behind a wife, daughter, son and 150 members of the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Jones said. Arrangements are being made to return Anderson's son, a Marine at Camp Lejeune, to the area.

"He was one of our training officers," Jones said of Anderson. "It wasn't uncommon for the comment to be made, 'Well, wait and see how James does it.'"

The last Lee County Sheriff's Office employee killed in the line of duty was Sheriff William "Buck" S. Jones, who was fatally shot by a murder suspect on June 29, 1932.

NEWS: Texas Officer and Dispatchers Fired Over House Egging

--Things that make you go hmmmmmmm.--
Duke

UPI

A police officer and three dispatchers in Carrollton, Texas, were fired after a local home belonging to a controversial figure was egged, police say.

Carrollton Police Chief David N. James said Officer Jennifer Cackler, 28, and dispatchers Laura Anderson, Laken Schifelbeign and Ashley Cackler were all fired after the home of Steven Benzer was hit by as many as nine eggs May 9, the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reported Thursday.

Benzer was a controversial figure in the Carrollton community, having been involved in 110 incidents reported to police since 2006. One incident involving Benzer and a neighbor, Dianna Swadley, occurred days before Benzer's home was egged.

Cackler, 28, encountered Benzer, who allegedly was near a home he had been warned to stay away from, and Benzer responded by mentioning the recent death of Cackler's father.

"Are you trying to get me mad?" Cackler was quoted as saying during the May meeting.

The Star-Telegram said an internal investigation into the egging incident days later resulted in Class C misdemeanor citations against Cackler and two of the dispatchers.

UPDATE: (Northlake) Eric Navarro Homicide

I have been contacted by a few readers asking if I had any new information on this on going investigation. While I do not have the inside track any longer, I will always attempt to find information for anyone who asks. I do have some information.

-NOWAK, MARIUSZ 07/07/1989, Inmate # 2009-0047041, is still being held in custody at Cook County Jail on a $1,000,000.00 10% bond.

-LIRA, LUIS 09/10/1990, Inmate # 2009-0046581, is being held in custody at Cook County Jail on a $3000,000.00 10% bond.

-GERKEN, CHRISTOPHER 01/01/1990, Inmate # 2009-0047016, is being held in custody at Cook County Jail on a $750,000.00 10% bond.

Their next court date is September 28, 2009 at the Maybrook Courthouse at 1500 Maybrook Drive in Maywood.

Oscar Ocampo and Arturo Daza are still at large and there are warrants out for their arrest. If anyone has pictures of these two I would appreciate if you emailed them to me and I will post them for everyone here. You can send them to theduke124@gmail.com

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NEWS: Bond set at $500K for pair charged in dog-fighting ring

September 24, 2009

Bond was set at $500,000 each Thursday for two men charged with running a dog-fighting ring based in a home that also serves as a day-care facility in west suburban Maywood.

Charles Sutton, 42, and Lance Webb, 27, both of Maywood, are charged with felony dog-fighting, according to the Cook County Sheriff's office.

Judge Paula Daleo set bond for both at $500,000 each during a Thursday hearing in Maywood, said Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.

Judge Daleo also set a special provision that neither man is allowed to own any animals, Simonton said. A preliminary hearing was set for Sept. 29 in Maywood.

Sutton's wife operated the day care at 2101 S. Third Ave., while Webb owned the injured dogs and puppies at 2025 S. Sixth Ave.

Martez Anderson, 38, of Maywood, was also charged with being a felon in possession of an unsprayed or unneutered dog, a misdemeanor. He kept the fighting dogs at his house at 2025 S. Sixth Ave., according to the release.

Two other men are targets of the investigation but have not yet been apprehended or charged, the release said.

The sheriff's department Animal Crimes Unit found a dog with an eye ripped out, a dog with a leg twisted backward and a dog with its lower extremities nearly ripped off during a Tuesday raid, according to the release. Nine dogs required surgery or rehabilitation.

The gruesome scene was made even more harrowing by the presence of the licensed daycare operation, Sheriff Tom Dart said in a release.

The daycare operator insisted she was not involved in dog fighting and maintained children were never near the dogs or fighting equipment.

DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said the department received reports of dogs in the home in 2006 and 2007, but when investigators showed up unannounced on multiple occasions, the dogs were caged in the garage.

Wednesday, however, the day care operator surrendered her license, and DCFS will continue monitoring the home to assure she does not re-open.

All dogs rescued in the raid were taken to the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge.

NEWS: 16-year-old beaten to death in Roseland 'riot'

--Is this worth it? I mean really, shooting, beating each other to death?--
Duke

September 25, 2009

STNGWire

A 16-year-old boy was beaten to death in a melee involving dozens of people Thursday afternoon in the Far South Side’s Roseland neighborhood.

About 3 p.m., police responded to a large group of people fighting in the 300 block of West 111th Street and found a male punched, kicked and struck about the body, according to police News Affairs Sgt. Antoinette Ursitti.

Derrion Albert, 16, of 12138 S. Normal Ave., was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

The incident occurred at the Agape Community Center at 342 W. 111th St.

Milton Massy, Director of Agape Community Center, saw the melee on surveillance tape.

"The whole incident took a span of four minutes," Massy said. "Kids were coming from the east and the west and converging in the middle of the street. Kids were also gathering in the empty lot next to the center."

Massy said he saw one child hit another in the back of the head, causing him to fall to the ground. He then saw at least three or four teens beating another.

"Kids were hopping over cars, bringing sticks. It was like a riot." Massy said.

When police arrived, three of Massy's staff went out to rescue a boy who was getting beaten by several others. The teen was later identified as Albert. Police waited with the staff members until the ambulance arrived to transport Albert, Massy said.

Massy estimated at least three children were hurt.

Police did not have anyone in custody as of 11 p.m. and did not know the motive.

Calumet Area detectives are investigating the incident as a homicide.

NEWS: Man arrested for alleged terror plot to blow up federal courthouse

September 25, 2009
BY DAVE McKINNEY Springfield Bureau Chief

SPRINGFIELD — A Downstate man has been arrested on terrorism-related charges for an alleged scheme this week to blow up the federal courthouse in the state capital, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey B. Lang said that Michael C. Finton, of Downstate Decatur, who also uses the name “Talib Islam,” was arrested on charges of attempted murder of federal employees and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

“This alleged plot drives home the stark reality that we must avoid complacency and remain ever vigilant to the threats that violent extremists may pose to public safety,” said Lang, the lead federal prosecutor in the Central District of Illinois.

Federal agents were monitoring Finton, 29, at the time of his arrest after learning that he had allegedly written John Walker Lindh, an American who fought with the Taliban and whom Finton is said to have idolized. Finton also traveled to Saudi Arabia last year.

Finton allegedly communicated to a federal informant about his desire to receive military training and travel to the Middle East to become a jihadist fighter, according to a federal complaint.

Last February, Finton began meeting with an undercover FBI agent posing as a “low level al-Queda operative” and over a period of months discussed bombing locations in the U.S., including the Paul Findley Federal Building and Courthouse in downtown Springfield, prosecutors said.

Finton allegedly conducted surveillance on the courthouse and advocated detonating a car bomb. He is alleged to have discussed making the nearby office of U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) a secondary target.

Earlier this month, Finton met with the undercover FBI agent and was told a van would be available for the attacks and would contain 1 ton of explosives, the complaint alleged.

On Wednesday, Finton allegedly drove that vehicle — containing explosives he didn’t know were inactive — and parked it directly in front of the federal building, got out of the van and joined the undercover agent a few blocks away in another vehicle, where Finton attempted to detonate the explosives with a cell phone.

FBI agents immediately arrested Finton after he allegedly tried to explode the van, Lang said.

----------------------

Thursday, September 24, 2009

NEWS: Wheaton police car smashes into house

September 24, 2009 12:13 PM
A Wheaton police officer lost control of his squad car and smashed through the front door of a house early today, according to police.

Neither the sleeping residents nor the officer was injured in the accident, which took place about 4 a.m. in the 100 block of Brighton Avenue, on the city's south side.

Deputy Police Chief Thomas Meloni said the car left the roadway, struck a curb and ran across the lawn before running into the door and door frame of the house. The car went about three feet into the foyer, he said.

The cause of the accident remains under the investigation, and an exact dollar amount for the damage was not available, Meloni said. Police called a board-up service to the house following the accident, he said.

--Clifford Ward

NEWS: Four SWAT Officers Shot in Raid on N.J. Shore Home

By WAYNE PARRY
Associated Press Writer

LAKEWOOD, N.J. --

A gunman opened fire early Thursday on a SWAT team that burst into a home during a drug and gun raid, wounding four officiers while spraying bullets from atop a staircase, authorities said. One officer was critically wounded.

Lakewood Patrolman Jonathan Wilson was shot in the face during the raid, and was in critical but stable condition at a local hospital. Authorities said they were cautiously optimistic he would survive despite being grievously wounded.

"He is in good spirits, and he's communicating," said Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford.

Lt. Greg Meyer was shot in the foot, and was in good condition at the hospital with bone injuries.

Two other Lakewood officers, Sgt. Louis Sasso and Patrolman Leonard Nieves Sr. were shot in their bulletproof vests, sustaining only minor injuries despite being struck in the chest. They were treated and released from the hospital.

The suspect, Jamie Gonzalez, 39, was in critical condition after suffering numerous gunshot wounds as police returned fire, Ford said.

A second person who was inside the house when the shooting erupted also was in custody, but had not been charged as of Thursday morning. First Assistant Prosecutor Ronald DeLigny said it does not appear the second person was involved in the shooting, but may be implicated in the underlying guns and drugs case that brought the multi-agency task force to the house in the first place.

At 2:25 a.m., the task force consisting of officers from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, New Jersey State Police, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and Lakewood police executed a "no-knock" search warrant at the single family home.

As soon as they got inside, a suspect identified as Gonzalez opened fire on them from atop a staircase, striking the four officers,authorities said.

Police returned fire and shot Gonzalez several times. It was not immediately clear how many shots were fired.

Authorities were still searching the house Thursday morning for evidence in the shooting case, as well as the gun and drugs case.

Ford would not characterize the underlying drug and weapons case other than to say it was "big enough to attract the attention of the task force."

The shooting comes more than two months after Jersey City police Det. Marc DiNardo was shot in the face storming an apartment where two armed robbery suspects were holed up. Four other officers were wounded in the gun battle and the suspects were killed.

DiNardo was taken off life support and pronounced dead one day before his 38th birthday.

Lakewood was once known as the resort in the pines for wealthy New Yorkers in the 1800s and early 1900s. The Rockefellers and Goulds built mansions there. The township has a large Orthodox Jewish population and has one of the largest yeshivas in the world, Beth Medrash Govoha.

In recent decades, the population has become more mixed. Some sections of Lakewood have been plagued by troubles with drugs and gangs.

NEWS: Learn about Police Explorers Wednesday

--Yea, yea... I know... Most "on the jobbers" don't like this but believe it or not, if run properly this is actually a great program. I started as an explorer with the Cook County Sheriffs Police when I was like 16. It was pretty cool. Got ot ride alongs and learned all kinds of good info.--
Duke

September 24, 2009

The Elmhurst Police Department will welcome guests to its youth Explorer's program next week.

The Police Explorers Open House will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at the police station, 125 E. First St.

Elmhurst Police Explorers allows kids to train with actual police officers and learn basic aspects of law enforcement. For more information visit www.elmhurstpoliceexplorers.com.

Police Blotters September 24, 2009

Click on the town your interested in.

>>Franklin Park, Northlake<<

>>Bellwood, Maywood, Melrose Park<<

>>Elmhurst<<

>>Elmwood Park, River Grove<<

>>Harwood Heights, Norridge<<

>>Oak Park<<

>>River Forest<<

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NEWS: Five Dead and Town Warned to Lock Its Doors

Logan County officers survey and secure the home where five members of a family were found slain in their home as a search is under way for a suspect, in Beason, Ill.
(Seth Perlman/AP Photo)
Police Say Raymond and Ruth Gee and Three Children Are Dead of Apparent Homicide


By SARAH NETTER

Sept. 22, 2009—

Police issued a warning today in a small central Illinois town that whoever slaughtered a family of five was on the loose and extremely dangerous.

"I think people do need to lock their doors and take precautions," Logan County Sheriff Steve Nichols said today at a news conference according to the Bloomington Pantagraph. "Until we find this person, we consider them armed and dangerous."

Found dead in the family massacre were Raymond and Ruth Gee, approximately 46 and 39 years old, and their three children ages 11 to 16. Their youngest, 3-year-old Tabitha, survived the attack in the family's Beason, Ill., home and was taken to a hospital.

Police have called the Gee family murders a "brutal homicide."

Beason Postmaster Jodie Duncan, who knew the older children well, said no one in this tiny town of 300 knows what to think at this point.

"They're on edge," she said of the town's residents. "I think until the community gets more information as to what's going on, they're on edge." Rural mail carrier Harry David Edwards, who has delivered mail to the town's residents for more than 30 years, told ABCNews.com that he had heard it was one of the children's grandfathers who found the bodies Monday afternoon after not being able to reach the family.

"To take out kids and the whole family like that," he said, "I don't know."

Police said the bodies were found around 4:30 p.m. Monday after receiving a 911 call about a possible shooting at their 2150th Avenue home.

The children were identified as Justina Constant, 16, Dillon Constant, 14 and Austin Gee, 11.

"They were all good kids," Edwards said.

Murdered Children Made an Impression on Local Postmaster

Duncan said she got to know the children, and others in the town, as they congregated at the post office where the bus would transport them back and forth to schools in Lincoln, Ill.

Justina had a "heart of gold," Duncan said, calling the teen "the sweestest girl you'd ever want to meet."

Duncan said she'd recently begun dating a local boy about a month ago -- her first boyfriend -- and was "really, really excited" about the relationship and the token ring the boy had given her to show his affection.

Dillon, Duncan said, "was my buddy."

An enthusiastic wrestler who hoped to make it to the state championship once he got into high school, Dillon made a recent pact with Duncan to celebrate his eighth-grade graduation, she said.

She remembered Austin as a good little boy who preferred to do his homework last-minute at the post office in the mornings, something she'd tease him about.

As for the littlest, who has now become an orphan, "we're just praying," Duncan said.

The Sheriff's Office has said that the suspect or suspects should be considered armed and dangerous.

In a news released issued by Nichols' office, the department indicated it already had several leads that were being "vigorously pursued."

Edwards said police and other emergency crews have been canvassing not only the town, which encompasses about a six-block area, but the outlaying fields.

The bodies of the family have been taken to Peoria for autopsies to determine exact cause of death. The autopsies were scheduled for today.

Anyone with information about the murders is asked to call the Logan County Sheriff's Office at 217-732-4159.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

NEWS: Chicago cop defends decision to handcuff nurse

September 22, 2009
BY FRANK MAIN Crime Reporter

A Chicago Police officer today apparently defended his decision to handcuff a nurse who had refused to draw blood from a suspected drunken driver involved in a fatal accident until the driver was admitted to the hospital.

The officer arrested the female driver on Aug. 1, then asked the head emergency room nurse at Advocate Illinois Masonic Center to draw blood from the driver to determine her blood-alcohol level.

But the nurse, Lisa Hofstra, told the officer she could not take blood from the driver until the driver was admitted to the hospital.

The officer then handcuffed Hofstra and took her to a squad car where she sat in the back seat for about 45 minutes, according to a lawsuit Hofstra filed last month against the city and the officer claiming her rights were violated.

This morning on the Don Wade & Roma Show on WLS-AM (890), a man who called in to the program said he was the officer involved in the incident.

The man, who only identified himself as “Officer Roger,” said he was in the emergency room for more than 3 1/2 hours. He said he arrived at about 4:30 a.m. and finally obtained the blood test on the driver after 7 a.m.

Asked if a person’s blood-alcohol level can change radically over that period, he answered: “my point exactly.”

“There’s a lot more to the story,” the man said, “but because of the litigation, I can’t go into it.”

The woman arrested in the fatal accident has been charged with felony aggravated DUI, as well as other offenses, authorities say.

MELROSE TRIALS: Updates

Not much has been happening. Some dates were changed to September 29th. No new motions. The only paperwork lately is the following reply by the U.S. Attorney to Mickey Caliendo's request for a new trial.

If anything more happens, you will read it here.

>>DOWNLOAD HERE<<

---------------------------------

NEWS: Philadelphia Officer Benched for Cornrows

BY DANA DIFILIPPO
Philadelphia Daily News

To get booted off the street, a police officer has to do something pretty serious -- like shoot a suspect or be accused of brutality.

But in the 35th District, which covers Logan, Olney and adjacent neighborhoods, apparently a hairdo will do it.

A cop who got cornrows was ordered off the street and kept on desk duty for two days until he cut his braids off, sources said.

While dozens of black officers across the city wear cornrows, Officer Thomas Strain is white. So when the five-year veteran showed up for work Sept. 3 with the traditionally black hairstyle, it didn't take long for his colleagues -- or his bosses -- to notice.

"They pulled him out of roll call and took him right up to the inspector's office," said an officer who asked to remain anonymous.

Reached last week, Strain declined to comment about the hair hubbub.

But multiple officers in the 35th say it's been hot gossip, overshadowed only by worries of potential police layoffs, which were averted Thursday when the state agreed to help alleviate the city's budget woes.

"It's absolutely discriminatory," said one officer. Strain's cornrows 'do "was neat. It was above his collar. It's not like he shaved a Nazi sign or something anti-black or anti-Hispanic on his head. It's just cornrows. I don't know what the problem is."

The problem, police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said, is that Strain's superior didn't feel his cornrows were "professional."

Ordering Strain to chop them off had nothing to do with discrimination, added Vanore, who spoke with Inspector Aaron Horne about the incident.

Horne, who oversees the Northwest Police Division, which includes the 35th District, is the supervisor who directed Strain to banish the braids.

"The policy's the policy, it doesn't matter what race you are," Vanore said.

Police policy requires officers to have "clean, properly trimmed and combed hair" that doesn't prevent them from wearing their uniform hat "in a military-manner," Vanore said.

The policy prohibits "unnatural" hair colors such as blue, purple or green but doesn't ban specific styles, such as cornrows, mohawks, dreadlocks or bouffants.

Vanore didn't see Strain's cornrows, but speculated that they may have kept his hat from fitting his head in the required military manner. He couldn't explain why black officers with cornrows weren't ordered to get haircuts -- unless they're women, because the hair policy for female officers is slightly more permissive.

Still, while the division inspector did instruct Strain to get a haircut, Vanore emphasized, the officer wasn't formally disciplined.

This isn't the first time an officer's appearance has caused commotion in the 35th District.

Officer Kimberlie Webb in 2005 sued the city and the police department after she was barred from wearing a hijab, or Muslim head scarf, on the job. A federal appeals court last April upheld the department's policy, saying religious garb imperils the department's appearance of "religious neutrality."

Other police departments have endured hair hullabaloos too.

Baltimore in 2007 tried to ban its officers from wearing cornrows, mohawks and dreadlocks, shaving designs into the hair or fashioning hair into "sculpture."

But officers and others objected on civil-rights grounds, and the ban was never implemented.

Two officers in Dallas in 2001 claimed they lost their jobs because they refused to cut off their dreadlocks. A Dallas police spokesman said those officers were fired for other disciplinary reasons unrelated to hairstyle.

As for Strain, friends describe him as a hardworking cop who hails from a family of police officers and who adores police work.

The former Marine served in Iraq, where he twice survived explosions when his Hummer hit roadside bombs in 2006, co-workers said.

"He's a guy that, when things go bad, you want him there," one officer said.

John McGrody, vice president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, said the union has "no position" on the discrimination claim.

"If the officer's hairstyle is consistent with the policy, it shouldn't affect him," he said.

NEWS: Off-Duty Detroit Officer Kills Wife, Shoots Self

By BEN LEUBSDORF
Associated Press Writer

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. --

Police in a Detroit suburb say an off-duty officer fatally shot his wife in the parking lot of a library and then shot himself.

Sgt. Mark Gajeski (Guy-ES'-ski) of the Canton Township Public Safety Department says they both were Detroit officers who live in Canton.

The woman was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital Tuesday, while the man is on life support with a head wound. Their names were not immediately released.

Gajeski says police had responded to a disturbance at the couple's home over the weekend. He says the woman was going to the Canton police station, which is near the library, when she was shot.

The library was open at the time but was closed while investigators were at the scene.

NEWS: Nurse arrested on the job sues police

By Karen Jordan

September 21, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- A nurse is suing the Chicago Police Department after her arrest at Illinois Masonic Hospital.

Lisa Hofstra was handcuffed when she did not give a DUI suspect a blood test.

VIDEO: Nurse sues over arrest

Hofstra claims she told the arresting officer that the suspect would have to be a hospital patient first.

The nurse held a press conference on Monday to announce that she has filed the lawsuit over the disputed blood test.

Lisa Hofstra says she encounters police officers all the time during her work in the emergency room, has a good relationship with them and would not want to keep them from doing their jobs. But she says she was just trying to do her job last month when she was arrested.

"I still can't believe that happened. I did absolutely nothing wrong," said Lisa Hofstra, emergency room nurse.

Lisa Hofstra was in charge of the emergency room at Illinois Masonic Hospital in the early morning hours of august first when she says an already hectic shift took a turn for the worst.

"This particular officer was quite belligerent with me and staff from the second he walked in our doors," said Hofstra.

Hofstra says the officer brought a suspected drunk driver into the ER and demanded a blood alcohol test for the woman.

Hofstra says she explained that it's hospital protocol to first register a person as a patient before conducting a medical procedure. That's when Hofstra says the officer became argumentative with both her and her supervisor. At one point, he had to be removed from the nurses station by security but he came back.

"He snucked up behind me grabbed my arms. I didn't even realize what was happening...I just saw the faces of the people in front of me before I realized I was in handcuffs," said Hofstra.

Hospital surveillance video shows Hofstra in handcuffs, being walked out of the hospital and into the back of the officer's squad car.

Her attorney points out that the officer is seen smiling while she sat for 45 minutes before being released.

"Literally he held her hostage until there was a blood test done," said Blake Horwitz, Hofstra's attorney.

Horwitz filed a lawsuit on her behalf against the city of Chicago and the officer, alleging excessive force and false arrest.

"I would like this officer to be reprimanded for doing this. I don't like the thought of him being on the street," said Hofstra.

Hofstra is filing this lawsuit on her own, independent of the hospital. There is no comment on the matter from Illinois Masonic.

This case is also being reviewed by the Independent Police Review Authority.

NEWS: LAPD Takes on Notorious Street Gang

By THOMAS WATKINS
Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES --

A notorious street gang accused of terrorizing a neighborhood for years and killing a sheriff's deputy was the target of a coordinated assault by hundreds of law enforcement officials Tuesday.

Local police working with federal agents carried out a string of early-morning raids seeking key members of the Avenues street gang, a long-standing group that claims as its territory a swath of northeast Los Angeles. About 90 suspects were named in a massive federal racketeering indictment detailing criminal activity spanning more than a decade.

Officers in full body armor were seen at dawn Tuesday at a blocked-off staging area at the Dodger Stadium parking lot, where suspects were being processed at a portable booking area as media helicopters hovered overhead.

Scores of search warrants were served at 4 a.m. from Los Angeles to Kern County, and all the suspects were quickly rounded up, said Los Angeles police Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz. Within hours, several tattooed, shirtless men in handcuffs populated the parking lot.

There is "ironclad evidence of the crimes," Diaz said at the staging area.

"Our goal is to ... move these people out, occupy this community and support the law abiding people that deserve to live in dignity here."

Aside from murdering rivals, dealing drugs, graffiti tagging and other gang crimes, the gang is accused of making threats and carrying out acts of violence against police officers, culminating in two attacks that rocked the law enforcement community last year.

The first of these, in February 2008, saw Avenues gang members open fire with handguns and an AK-47 on Los Angeles police officers. Police shot back, killing 20-year-old Daniel Leon and injuring another man.

Then on Aug. 2, 2008, off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Juan Escalante was shot dead in front of his parents' home in the Cypress Park neighborhood northeast of downtown.

Even before the killing, authorities were investigating the Avenues, but his death increased the urgency of the operation. Earlier this year, police charged three men in Escalante's death and a fourth suspect remains at large.

The indictment details several possible motives for the murder. Carlos Velasquez, one of the men accused of killing the deputy, was heard in a wire-tapped telephone conversation telling another Avenues gang member that he killed Escalante in retribution for the death of Leon, nicknamed "Clever."

"Clever took one with him," the indictment states Velasquez said.

The 222-page indictment also alleges Avenues members posted inflammatory remarks on Web sites, including "Avenidas don't get chased by the cops. We chase them," and, "Avenidas don't just hurt people. We kill them."

Members of the largely Hispanic gang would also spray paint racist threats around neighborhoods to intimidate black people, according to prosecutors.

"This indictment attacks a criminal organization that has terrorized a community for generations," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Brunwin, the lead prosecutor in the case. "With all of the information collected over the past year, we assembled an indictment that led to dozens of arrests this morning and will make a significant difference in the neighborhoods in northeastern Los Angeles."

Tuesday's operation marks an ongoing focus on the Avenues gang, which gets its name from a series of streets running through the area.

In June 2008, another federal indictment took aim at the Drew Street clique of the gang. Prosecutors said Drew Street was the most active and violent clique within the Avenues and it produced significant drug-sale revenues for the Mexican Mafia, a prison-based gang that oversees much of Southern California's street gang activity.

That investigation resulted in the arrest of several of the clique's alleged leaders. Afterward, Mexican Mafia leaders attempted to re-organize the Avenues' presence in northeast Los Angeles by ending the clique rivalries within the gang and naming new Avenue leaders, Tuesday's indictment states.

Though incarcerated, Mexican Mafia leaders are able to communicate with street gangs through conversations on cell phones that are smuggled into prisons, as well as by passing folded notes to visitors.

R.I.P: S.C. Trooper Killed During LODD Memorial Ride


South Carolina state trooper Jonathan Nash, 41, was killed in a traffic accident Saturday morning during a memorial ride for another fallen trooper, WIS-TV reports.

Nash was driving the lead motorcycle during a memorial ride for Trooper H. Merl Godbold, who was killed in the line of duty in 1992, and whose family has organized the ride in his honor since 2006.

The incident reportedly occurred when a 79-year-old woman pulled out of a parking lot onto Highway 1 in Camden, S.C. and hit Nash's motorcycle.

A press release from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety confirms that the tragedy has been classified as a line of duty death.

"L/Cpl. Nash was an excellent trooper who had earned the distinction of serving on the motor unit," said Highway Patrol Col. Kenny Lancaster, Jr.

"Trooper Nash was well-loved and would be the first to step up and help anyone. This is a tragedy compounded because L/Cpl. Nash was killed during a charity ride to honor another trooper killed on the same roadway."

Funeral arrangements have been released by the Highway Patrol at the wishes of Nash's family:

Visitation:
When: 5 p.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday, September 22
Where: Sullivan-King Mortuary, Northeast Chapel, 3205 North Highway 81, Anderson. www.sullivanking.com/index.cfm (for directions)

Funeral services:
When: Funeral services begin at 11 a.m., Wednesday, September 23
Where: Civic Center of Anderson, 3027 MLK Jr. Blvd. (formerly Mall Road). www.andersonevents.com/directions.php (for directions);

Burial will follow in the M.J. "Dolly" Cooper Veterans Cemetery, 140 Inway Dr. (adjacent to the Richard Campbell State Veterans Nursing Home on Belton Highway).

Memorials:
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Andrea Nash Educational Fund, c/o Peoples Bank, 1921 E. Greenville Street, Anderson, SC 29621.

Monday, September 21, 2009

NEWS: FBI nabs 'Boy Lovers' child-porn ring

--No comment needed on this one--
Duke
September 21, 2009 3:28 PM | UPDATED STORY
The FBI today announced child-pornography charges against four men from Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, accusing them of operating a ring that distributed pornographic images and videos and referred to themselves by the name "Boy Lovers."

Charged are Jose Carlos Garcia, 22, of Schererville, Ind.; Neal Maschke, 40, of West Chicago; Corey Stinefast, 27, of Kenosha, Wis.; and Mark McGill, 24, of Crest Hill.

According to the complaints, the FBI began investigating the men in June after arresting one in their group. That man admitted to "possession, receipt, distribution and manufacture of child pornography," the complaint said. The man "also stated he had contacts with many other child pornography enthusiasts, some of whom were molesting children."

The man became a cooperating witness and may still face federal child-exploitation charges himself, according to the complaints.

In several recorded conversations -- in person, via phone and Internet chat -- the witness and Garcia allegedly discussed child pornography, and he and Garcia arranged to meet to exchange and view images and videos together.

In one phone exchange on July 11, Garcia allegedly told the cooperating witness that he had traveled to St. Louis and met with a man whom he filmed engaging in sexual activity with a young boy, the complaint against Garcia states.

On Aug. 25, the witness, Garcia and Stinefast allegedly went to a local amusement park, the complaint states. During the trip, Stinefast allegedly gave Garcia a computer disk containing child pornography that the witness later turned over to federal investigators.

The witness and undercover FBI investigators met with Garcia and Maschke in a hotel room in Skokie on Saturday night to exchange pornographic computer images and videos. Those two defendants were arrested at that time and were found to have child pornography with them, according to the FBI. Stinefast was arrested in Kenosha the same night.

McGill was taken into custody this morning. Officials say he gave a USB drive to the witness on Aug. 29 that contained over 3,500 images and 60 videos of child pornography.

If convicted of the charges against them, Garcia, Stinefast and McGill face between five and 20 years in federal prison, while Maschke faces up to 10 years in prison.

-- Staff report

--------------------------------------------

NEWS: S.C. Mayor Bans Police Pursuits on Foot

--Politicians, you gotta love 'em. This one is definitely up for a Darwin Award.--
Duke

The mayor of Wellford, S.C. is defending a policy she issued earlier this month which bans police officers from chasing suspects on foot, according to WSPA-TV.

On Sept. 2, Mayor Sallie Peake issued a memo to all of the city's officers that read: "As of this date, there are to be no more foot chases when a suspect runs. I do not want anyone chasing after any suspects whatsoever."

Peake told the news station that she issued the mandate because several officers have been injured during chases, driving up insurance costs for the town.

The city is paying $20,000 annually in workers' compensation claims, much of which goes to the police force, she said.

According to Wellford Police Chief Chris Guy, three officers have been injured during foot chases in the last two years

Guy has told his officers to abide by the policy and says they can still protect the public.

"Just because a suspect may run does not mean we can't identify them, sign warrants, and catch them later," he said.

Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright disagrees with Guy's assessment, telling WSPA-TV that when a suspect gets away, there is always the chance he could hurt someone before officers catch up with him.

"If a bank robber or a drunk driver or a shoplifter or somebody with a warrant runs on foot, it's our obligation to do what we can do to bring them to justice," he said

Saturday, September 19, 2009

NEWS: Teen cop impersonator back in custody

September 19, 2009 11:36 AM | UPDATED STORY

The teen who posed as a Chicago police officer last January was ordered held this week by a judge who determined that the teen had violated conditions of his probation after officials discovered the boy wasn't home during several court-ordered checks this summer.

After a roughly three-hour hearing Thursday, Judge Andrew Berman ruled that the boy had violated his probation, which stipulated he could only leave his home for school, church and medical emergencies. Berman is expected to sentence the boy on Sept. 29.

The 15-year-old boy, who the Tribune won't identify because he is a minor, has been held in custody since late August after prosecutors petitioned the court claiming he had violated his home confinement.

The teen's home confinement officer testified at the hearing that he observed the boy outside his South Side home playing football. The boy testified that he was outside waiting to be picked up for a therapy session. There was also a three-day stretch when he was homeless because his mother had thrown him out after an argument.

Assistant States Atty. Jennifer Rutkowski said the boy had long been instructed to contact his probation officer if he had to leave the house and he didn't.

During his finding of violation against the teen, the judge admonished the boy for not taking responsibility and making up stories to cover his tracks.

The boy grabbed national headlines in January when he was charged as a juvenile for impersonating an officer. Police say the boy, then 14, walked into the Grand Crossing District station dressed in a police uniform and partnered with another officer for about five hours before being detected.

In May, the boy was arrested again for posing as a car buyer and driving off a South Side car lot in a luxury car, leading police on a pursuit. His charges in that case include possession of a stolen motor vehicle and trespassing.

When sentencing the boy to three years of probation for both cases in July, Berman warned the teen he was expected to strictly comply with his probation.

NEWS: Death penalty: Is 2nd try at lethal injection too cruel?

Now, why would we not try again? Oh yea, that's right. These pieces of garbage get to rape, pillage, and kill but we have to treat them nicely. They should have stuck the needle in his carotid or jugular. This country is way to soft on crime until it happens close to home, then everyone wants to know why we aren't doing something about it.
Duke
Ohio murderer files lawsuit after surviving 1st try
By Carol J. Williams Tribune Newspapers
September 20, 2009

As executioners poked his limbs with an IV needle, Romell Broom initially tried to speed along his demise, flexing his arm and tugging on a rubber tourniquet to better expose a vein on the inside of his elbow.

But as prison workers repeatedly failed to find a vein strong enough to take the lethal injections, the convicted rapist and murderer began despairing of his protracted end.

Witnesses and the execution team log describe how the 53-year-old winced and cried as a shunt inserted in his leg also failed to open a pathway for the fatal drugs.

Two hours and 23 minutes after it started, the execution was halted by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and a second attempt was scheduled for a week later.

The aborted execution Tuesday has stirred fresh concern among death penalty opponents about the efficacy of lethal injection, as well as the constitutional question of whether subjecting someone to a second execution attempt amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

On Friday, Broom's attorney filed lawsuits in state and federal court alleging that the convict's civil rights would be violated by another execution attempt.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost issued a temporary restraining order putting off the second execution attempt for at least 10 days. Broom's attorney, Tim Sweeney, also appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

Only once before in recorded execution history have state authorities failed to kill their target, legal scholars say. In 1946, 17-year-old Willie Francis stood up and walked away from Louisiana's "Gruesome Gertie" electric chair after a 2,500-volt current coursed through his body from head to ankle.

"The issue with Willie Francis was, can you re-execute him or would that be cruel and unusual punishment or double jeopardy?" said Deborah Denno, a Fordham University law professor and death penalty expert.

A divided high court decided in 1947 that Louisiana could lawfully subject Francis to execution again. A second electrocution killed him a year and three days after the first attempt.

"But so many aspects of that case are so outdated or so specific to Willie Francis and that time that even though it is entrenched precedent with the U.S. Supreme Court and frequently cited, one would look at the Broom case very differently," said Denno, whose writings on execution methods were cited by the U.S. Supreme Court majority in last year's decision upholding the constitutionality of lethal injection in Kentucky.

"I think we're in a new day in our treatment of human beings," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit archive of execution data.

"To subject someone to being at the brink of death, then yank them back because the state couldn't carry out its own procedures . . . suggests the whole lethal injection process is in need of further review," said Dieter, who has expressed views against capital punishment.

The Supreme Court took what some analysts saw as a narrow look at lethal injection in the Kentucky case, Baze vs. Rees. The state had carried out only one other execution in recent years and, as in the Francis decision, the court found no pattern of flaws with the state's methods.

While the high court examined the Kentucky case, other states held off on executions until the justices in April 2008 ruled lethal injection a humane means of execution if carried out correctly.

A similar, but not identical, three-drug process is used in all 35 states that allow the death penalty. It is often administered by corrections officers rather than doctors because the American Medical Association advises against physician participation in executions.

Death penalty opponents say the Broom incident should at least compel Ohio to impose a moratorium on executions and review the procedures.

"Ohio has a history here. It's not just him. He's the third guy in three years where we've had essentially variations on the same problem," said Jeff Gamso, volunteer attorney and former legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. He was referring to the executions of Joseph Clark in 2006 and Christopher Newton in 2007 in which prison workers took more than an hour and two hours, respectively, to kill the inmates because of trouble locating veins.

Some legal scholars said they expected little if any legal consequence from the Ohio incident.

"This certainly put someone through anxiety and stress, but whether that rises to cruel and unusual punishment -- I doubt the Supreme Court at the end of the day would agree with that," said John Eastman, dean of Chapman University's law school.

Robert Weisberg, law professor and director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, said public opinion has been little affected by previous botched executions.

What is likely to happen, he said, is an incremental backing off from capital punishment because of the costs, delays and mounting concerns about executing the innocent, with states and local governments seeking death sentences less often.

That is already happening.

Last year, there were 37 executions nationwide, the lowest number in 14 years, partly due to the states' review of execution procedures. The 111 new death sentences issued compared with more than 300 a year in the mid-1990s. Since 1973, 135 people have been exonerated and freed from death rows, including 5 people so far this year.

Weisberg said California is a prime example of a state that retains a death penalty in theory, yet rarely conducts executions, despite having the nation's biggest death row, with 685 condemned prisoners.

In California, executions have been on hold since early 2006, following concerns about lethal injections failing to fully anesthetize inmates in six of the 13 executions conducted in the state since capital punishment resumed in 1976.

NEWS: Police: Dad tells 4-year-old cocaine is candy

--Other than killing this idiot, is there really a punishment worthy of this crime?
Duke
N.J. man put baggies in son's jacket; boy shared drugs at his day care
updated 1 hour, 33 minutes ago

NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey police say a 4-year-old boy shared cocaine with his friends at day care because his father told him it was candy.

Newark police say 25-year-old Shaheed Wright of East Orange put several baggies of cocaine inside his son's jacket after police nearly caught him with it. The boy shared the drugs with three other 4-year-olds at his day care center Friday.

A teacher spotted a girl with a baggie in her mouth and called authorities after seeing the white powdery substance.

The children were taken to a hospital, but none were injured. Police found more baggies of cocaine after searching the boy's pockets.

Wright was charged with four counts of child endangerment and drug offenses. He is not listed in the phone book, and police do not know if he has retained a lawyer.

NEWS: Insane Killer Escapes on Trip to Wash. County Fair

--Really? They give these people field trips out in the public?--
Duke

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
Associated Press Writer

SPOKANE, Wash. --

A criminally insane killer from eastern Washington is on the run after escaping during a field trip to the county fair that his mental hospital organized.

Why such a dangerous person was out in public was a question many, including Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, were asking as authorities searched for Phillip Arnold Paul.

Authorities at Eastern State Hospital, where Paul is a patient, are being criticized for allowing him to visit the fair despite his violent criminal past and a history of trying to escape.

"Why was he allowed to take such a trip?" the governor said Friday. "Why did they go to a location that was so heavily populated with families?"

Authorities believed Paul, 47, was headed for the Sunnyside, Wash., area where his parents and many siblings live.

Paul was committed after he was acquitted by reason of insanity in the 1987 slaying of an elderly woman, whose body he soaked in gasoline to throw off search dogs. Paul buried the woman's remains in her flower garden.

In 1991, Paul walked away during a day trip to a Washington lake and was later captured. He attacked a sheriff's deputy in the jail booking area, knocking him unconscious, and was convicted of first-degree escape and second-degree assault.

Spokane County sheriff's officials were told Paul had $50 when he escaped Thursday - enough money to buy a bus ticket, said sheriff's spokesman Dave Reagan.

Paul also had time, according to a union that said hospital administrators waited nearly two hours before calling law enforcement. The union said workers alerted their superiors minutes after discovering Paul's escape.

"They believe he was an extreme escape risk and the administration should never have allowed him on the field trip," a statement from the Washington Federation of State Employees said. "The workers have unsuccessfully fought to stop the outings for murderers, rapists and pedophiles committed to the hospital as criminally insane."

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich also insisted there was a two-hour delay before law enforcement were alerted, while Susan Dreyfus, secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services, said it was not clear how long it took.

Paul is a white male, 5-foot-8, 220 pounds, with brownish-gray hair, blue eyes, and a goatee. At the time of his escape, Paul was wearing a red windbreaker jacket, with a T-shirt and jeans.

Paul has been on and off a variety of medications over the years, and also been in and out of institutions, his brother Tom Paul said.

"He is in a bad mental state," his brother, Tom Paul, told The Associated Press. "Why would they load him on a bus and take him to a fair?"

Thirty-one patients from the mental hospital were on the trip Thursday with 11 staff members. Dreyfus said she did not know how many of those had violent criminal backgrounds.

Patients must be cleared by a treatment team before they can go on trips to stores, parks, and other sites, said Dr. Rob Henry, director of forensic services at Eastern State. They wear street clothing and staff members are required to keep each patient within eyesight at all times.

Henry said trips to the fair were an annual event. The last escape from the forensic unit occurred in 1992, he said.

It is possible a 15-day review, which will be in part conducted by the state Department of Corrections, will end such outings, Dreyfus said. She has ordered an investigation that includes both state mental hospitals.

The state Department of Social and Health Services, meanwhile, has ordered an immediate end to trips like the one taken Thursday to the fair and launched an investigation into the practice.

Paul had a normal childhood in Sunnyside, 200 miles southwest of Spokane, his brother said.

But he started acting strangely as a high school student, his brother said, and he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Paul was living in a halfway house in Spokane last year, but ended up back at the hospital in a very agitated state, Tom Paul said. Hospital officials said Paul hadn't exhibited violent behavior in years. They argued in the past that he should be released, but his petition for release was rejected in 2003.

The sheriff's office said Friday that Paul's medication should keep him stable for 14 days.