Archive for March, 2012

Harshly worded Letter from SC Trooper Raises Concern

March 31, 2012

From http://www.wsoctv.com by Greg Suskin, March 30, 2012

YORK COUNTY, S.C. – A harshly worded letter written by a South Carolina state trooper is raising concerns with the state Highway Patrol.

Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the letter after a man was stopped for reckless driving in York County.  That driver did not want to talk about the incident, or have his name used in this story.

The letter is from South Carolina Trooper D.P. Boulware of York County to the offender’s lawyer.  The lawyer’s name has also been marked out on the letter, so Eyewitness News was not able to contact the attorney for comment.

Here’s what the letter says:

“Please advise your client that he has until the 16th of March to enter a guilty plea to the pending charge.  If there is no plea entered by this date, I will request jail time in lieu of a fine. Even if a guilty plea is entered after this date I will still request from Judge Grayson that your client spend time in jail as opposed to a fine.    This is a case of your client wasting the time of both myself and the court presiding.  I would never oppose anyone who questions their guilt requesting the verdict of a jury. However, this is an obvious attempt by your client to avoid responsibility for an offense of which he knows he is guilty.  A copy of this letter will be on file with the presiding court.”

Eyewitness News brought that letter to the attention of commanders at the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

“I can tell you that’s not what we expect from our troopers,” said spokesman Bryan McDougald.   “That letter was worded harshly, and strongly.”

In South Carolina, state troopers don’t just write tickets and stop drunk and reckless drivers.  They also act as lawyers, and must prosecute their own cases in court.

Cases are often delayed or repeatedly continued for many reasons.   McDougald said sometimes that’s frustrating to keep showing up for court and not being able to present a case. Still, he said that doesn’t mean a trooper’s attitude can change.

“If we’ve been to court 25 times this year, it should be no different than if it’s the first time.  Even it’s the same person because that’s their day in court.  They have a right to a fair trial.”

McDougald said the letter is being sent up the chain of command for a review.  It’s not clear if any action will be taken, but Channel 9 learned that Trooper Boulware remains on active duty while the Highway Patrol investigates.

Afghan Policeman Kills 9 Sleeping Fellow Officers

March 30, 2012

From The Associated Press by Amir Shah, March 30, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan policeman killed nine of his fellow officers as they lay sleeping in a village in the eastern Paktika province on Friday, police said, blaming the attack on the Taliban.

Provincial police chief Dawlat Khan Zadran said the incident took place in Yayakhil town of Yayakhil district.

Bowal Khan, chief of Yayakhil district, identified the gunman as Asadullah, who goes by one name. He said the gunman was assigned to a small command post when he woke up at 3 a.m. for guard duty. He then used his assault rifle to kill the nine men sleeping inside the post, took their weapons and piled them in a pickup truck.

According to Khan, Asadullah then sped away in the truck.

Khan said the victims included one of his brothers and the commander of the post, identified as Mohammad Ramazan. He said two of the dead were Ramazan’s sons.

The motive for the killing was not known, but police in the area blamed the Taliban for the attack. Paktika is a stronghold of the Haqqani network, a Pakistani-based group with ties to the Taliban and al-Qaida. Although they mostly attack U.S.-led coalition forces, they have often carried out assaults and bombings against the Afghan army and police.

“This man is a coward. What he did is part of the Taliban conspiracy,” Khan said.

Khan and Zadran said the killer’s two brothers were being held for questioning.

The village police is also known as the Afghan Local Police, or ALP. It is a village-level force that provides security in areas where the Afghan army and police cannot.

The ALP is trained by the U.S. troops but commanded and run by the Afghan government and police.

In an unrelated incident, a motorcycle bomb parked by the side of a road exploded on Friday and killed an Afghan police officer and wounded another in Sangin district of southwest Helmand province, police said. They added that another police officer was shot and killed late Thursday outside his house in the capital of Helmand.

NATO said Friday that two of its service members were killed in southern Afghanistan. They said one died in a roadside bomb explosion on Friday and the other one in an insurgent attack that took place Thursday. NATO did not disclose any other details.

So far this year, 88 international troops have been killed in Afghanistan.

Associated Press Writer Patrick Quinn contributed to this report from Kabul.

Stallings, NC Police Chief Resigns After Officers’ Complaints

March 30, 2012

From http://www.wsoctv.com, March 30, 2012

STALLINGS, N.C. — The police chiefs in Stallings will step down from his post.

On Thursday, the town manager received a letter of resignation from Chief Michael Dummett.

Several officers filed complaints and accused Dummett of creating a hostile work environment.

Dummett was on paid administrative leave during an internal investigation.

His last day is Monday, April 2.

Judge Acquits Militia Members of Sedition, Conspiracy

March 28, 2012

From Reuters News Service by Bernie Woodall and James B. Kelleher, March 27, 2012

DETROIT (Reuters) – A federal judge on Tuesday acquitted seven members of a U.S. Midwestern militia group of all major sedition and conspiracy charges against them, two years after the FBI began arresting them following a long undercover surveillance operation.

The seven, members of a group known as the Hutaree, were accused of plotting to kill law enforcement officers as a way to incite a wider rebellion against the U.S. government.

Defense attorneys had argued their actions were protected by their First Amendment free speech rights.

In her ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Victoria A. Roberts agreed, acquitting the defendants on all counts related to sedition, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, training in the use of explosives and using firearms in the commission of a felony.

“A conspiracy to murder law enforcement is a far cry from conspiracy to forcibly oppose the authority of the government of the United States,” Judge Roberts wrote.

She described Hutaree leader David Brian Stone Sr.’s speech as “vile and often hateful” but said “his diatribes evince nothing more than his own hatred for – perhaps even desire to fight or kill – law enforcement; this is not the same as seditious conspiracy.”

Also acquitted were Tina Mae Stone, the wife of David Brian Stone Sr.; their two sons, David Brian Stone Jr. and Joshua Matthew Stone, and Michael David Meeks, Thomas William Piatek and Kristopher Sickles.

Judge Roberts chided federal prosecutors for saying they would prove “specific acts of violence” by the group but then failing to do so before the jury, saying “much of the government’s evidence against the defendants at trial was in the form of speeches,” mainly by David Brian Stone Sr.

“This back and forth banter, like the other anti-government speech and statements evincing a desire – even a goal – to kill police, is simply insufficient to sustain the seditious conspiracy charge. It requires an agreement and plan of action, not mere advocacy or hateful speech,” she wrote.

Relatively minor possession of illegal weapons charges remain in place against David Brian Stone Sr. and his son, Joshua Stone, who have been in prison for two years since they were arrested by the FBI.

“It’s a good day for the United States. It’s a good day for the first and second amendments,” said attorney Michael Rataj, who represented Tina Stone.

William Swor, attorney for David Brian Stone Sr, called the verdict “wonderful” and said he and the other defense attorneys would file motions to have the jailed defendants released.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney said her office would not comment on the judge’s ruling because of the remaining charges in the case.

Judge Roberts said that in order to be successful, the government needed to prove seditious conspiracy by “an agreement and a plan of action, not mere advocacy or hateful speech.”

The seven were among nine people arrested in raids in the Midwestern U.S. states of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana that began March 27, 2010 and ended several days later.

The trial against the Hutaree, a Christian-based militia group, was the latest in a series of prosecutions aimed at what the government sees as a growing threat of violence from homegrown anti-government groups.

In early February, the FBI warned such groups posed an increasing threat to law enforcement.

(Reporting By Bernie Woodall and James B. Kelleher; editing by Greg McCune and Todd Eastham)

Arizona Supreme Court Overturns Death Penalty For Man Who Killed 3

March 28, 2012

From The Associated Press by Amanda Lee Myers, March 27, 2012

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out the death sentences of a Tucson man who bludgeoned his girlfriend and her two children to death in 1984 after lying in wait for each of them, ruling that the murders weren’t especially heinous even though they were “atrocious” and “senseless.”

The state’s highest court unanimously vacated two death sentences for James Granvil Wallace, 61, and imposed two sentences of life in prison for the children’s killings. That’s on top of the life sentence he’s already serving for killing his girlfriend, Susan Insalaco.

While the justices wrote that the Feb. 1, 1984, murders of Insalaco, her son, Gabriel, 12, and her daughter, Anna, 16, in their Tucson apartment were heinous in layman’s terms, they weren’t according to the letter of the law.

That’s because the justices found that Wallace didn’t knowingly inflict more wounds on the family than he thought were necessary to kill them.

Wallace was living with Insalaco and the children when he came home drunk Jan. 31, 1984, and she told him that he needed to move out, according to court records.

The next day, Insalaco went to work and the kids went to school. Wallace attacked each of them when they arrived home separately after hiding behind the front door.

When Anna came home, court records say that Wallace attacked her from behind and slammed a baseball bat into her head at least 10 times, so hard that the bat broke. Even so, Anna lay moaning and still alive, so Wallace told police that he dragged her into the bathroom and rammed the broken bat into her neck, down her chest cavity and out her back.

When Gabriel arrived home later, Wallace used an 18-inch pipe wrench to bludgeon him about 10 times, crushing his skull.

And when Insalaco got home a couple hours after that, Wallace used the same pipe wrench to hit her in the head four or five times, killing her.

Wallace turned himself in to police the next day and described the killings in detail, although he couldn’t explain why he murdered the family.

“I thought (Anna) would die with one blow — that’d be it, like in the movies,” Wallace told police. “It ain’t that way. She looked me in the eye, she knew who was killing her. … I wanted to put her out of her misery, man.”

Wallace said he used the pipe wrench to kill Gabriel and Insalaco after the bat failed to kill Anna quickly because he didn’t want to prolong their suffering.

“Even among capital cases, this case is atrocious,” the justices wrote Tuesday. “Wallace’s premeditated, brutal murders of Anna and Gabriel clearly were senseless, and the unsuspecting, defenseless victims were helpless.”

But the justices said the case falls short of meeting the legal requirement for being especially heinous and, therefore, eligible for the death penalty.

In order to be especially heinous, prosecutors must prove that a killer relished in a crime, inflicted gratuitous violence or needlessly mutilated a victim. They could also argue that a crime was particularly senseless or victims were particularly helpless.

In Wallace’s case, prosecutors only argued that he inflicted gratuitous violence. The justices disagreed, saying that every wound Wallace inflicted was meant to cause death because he didn’t think he had yet inflicted a fatal wound.

The justices also pointed out that under current Arizona statutes, Wallace most certainly would be eligible for the death penalty.

For example, current statutes allow for a killer to be sentenced to death if he or she killed more than one person at a time. Because Wallace killed Insalaco and her children well before that statute was established, it does not apply to him.

Arizona Assistant Attorney General Kent Cattani said it’s frustrating to prosecutors that Wallace would have clearly been eligible for the death penalty had he committed the crime in recent years, and he said he thinks Wallace did exhibit gratuitous violence.

“He should have known, given the size of the instrument used and the size of the victims, that he had inflicted enough violence to cause death,” he said.

Wallace’s Tucson attorney, Carla Ray, told The Associated Press that her client was stunned to learn of the court’s decision.

“He’s been on death row for 28 years,” she said. “In his mind he thought he deserved (the death penalty). He understands it mentally, but emotionally he’s having a hard time with it. He knows what he did was wrong.”

Ray said that Wallace still can’t explain why he killed Insalaco and her children and is nothing but sorry about it.

“He always brings up his remorse and how he just can’t wrap his mind around how he was capable of doing such a thing,” she said. “He punishes himself more than anyone else ever could.”

Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP .

No Justice! No Peace!… Trayvon Protesters Ransack Walgreens Store

March 27, 2012

From http://www.thegatewaypundit.com, March 27, 2012 by Jim Hoft

Do it for Trayvon!
High school students in Miami decided to ransack the local Walgreens on the way to a Trayvon Martin rally. The students left the store when the vice principal ordered them out.
WSVN has video.

Local 10 reported:

North Miami Beach police said surveillance video shows dozens of high school students demonstrating in the Trayvon Martin case Friday ransacking and shoplifting from a Walgreens store.

The incident occurred during a walkout from North Miami Beach Senior High School in support of Martin, 17, who was fatally shot in Sanford. Protesters have been calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman, 28, who has not been charged because he claimed self-defense in the shooting, according to police.

Minutes after walking out of their school Friday at about 11 a.m., a large group of students walked through the streets of North Miami Beach. Along the way, they stopped at a Walgreens at 163rd Street and 15th Avenue.

Surveillance video shows dozens of teenagers running through the store. Police said about 50 to 60 students stormed in, ransacking the shelves, before the school’s vice principal ordered everyone outside.

North Miami Beach police said students stole about $1,100 worth of merchandise and damaged some items, including a DVD player, int he store.

Some of the students dropped their IDs on the way out of the store, police said, so investigators have an idea of who was inside.

To watch video from the store use the link below or copy and paste it into your web-browser:

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2012/03/no-justice-no-peace-trayvon-protesters-ransack-walgreens-store-video/

Miami Homicide Sgt. Throws Fellow Officers Under The Bus

March 27, 2012

By Jack “Coffee” Hays, March 27, 2012

In an article about Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager shot and killed by a Neighborhood Watch Captain whom Martin attacked in Sanford, FL, by Frances Robles appearing in the March 27, 2012 edition of the Miami Herald says that Miami, FL Police Homicide Sgt. Ervens Ford attended a rally calling for the Neighborhood Watch Captain to be prosecuted for the boy’s death.

Ford, who has been featured many times on the Arts & Entertainment Network television program “The First 48”  is quoted as saying:

This is personal, I have a son that age. I am getting ready to release him to the world. I have to expose him to things like this. I also have a 12-year-old. I have to be realistic about it: It very well could have been either one of them. I find myself telling my sons what clothes to wear and WHAT TO SAY TO A COP.”

The fact that Sgt. Ford would attend such a rally after the incident has been investigated by the Sanford, FL Police Dept. is bad enough, but to say that he tells his sons “What to say to a cop” is simply insulting to everyone carrying a badge.

Sgt. Ford says that what happened to Martin could very easily have happened to either one of his sons. Is Sgt. Ford saying that one, or both, of his sons would, while serving a suspension from school for the third time, physically attack a man, George Zimmerman, breaking his nose, who was observing what appeared to him to be a suspicious person in his neighborhood, a neighborhood that had experienced several recent residential burglaries, while speaking to police officers on his cell phone, and during the attack try to gain control of the man’s lawfully owned and carried firearm necessitating that the man shoot one, or both, of his sons? Is that what Sgt. Ford is saying?

If this is what Sgt. Ford is saying, that one, or both, of his sons would do what Martin did to Zimmerman, then I believe it would be justified for one, or both, of Sgt. Ford’s sons to be shot and killed by whoever they attacked.

Perhaps  Sgt. Ford should tell his sons not to physically attack anyone as Martin did and they won’t  be shot and killed as a result. Quite simply, if you don’t go around physically attacking and beating people you can’t get killed while, or as a result of, doing it.

The bottom line is this:

It appears that George Zimmerman was not doing anything illegal or wrong when he had the misfortune to come into contact with Trayvon Martin.

He was lawfully driving his vehicle in his neighborhood; knowing that his neighborhood had recently experienced a rash of residential burglaries he observed what to him was a suspicious person; he called the police and told the dispatcher what he was observing and where he was observing it (although he was not legally obligated to do so); he kept the phone line open and, contrary to most media reports, was walking back to his vehicle after the police dispatcher told him that officers didn’t need him to follow the person he was calling about, and believed he had lost sight of the person he was reporting to the police when he was physically attacked by Trayvon Martin suffering a broken nose and face as well as head lacerations necessitating him to produce and use his lawfully possessed and carried firearm to stave off the attack, possibly saving his life.

Case closed!

Truth About Supposed Victim Coming Out – Can Anyone Say Duke Lacrosse?

March 27, 2012

Multiple Suspensions Paint Complicated Portrait of Trayvon Martin

From The Miami Herald by Frances Robles, March 27, 2012

SANFORD — As thousands of people gathered here to demand an arrest in the Trayvon Martin case, a more complicated portrait began to emerge of a teenager whose problems at school ranged from getting spotted defacing lockers to getting caught with a marijuana baggie and women’s jewelry.

The Miami Gardens teen who has become a national symbol of racial injustice was suspended three times, and had a spotty school record.

In October, a school police investigator said he saw Trayvon on the school surveillance camera in an unauthorized area “hiding and being suspicious.” Then he said he saw Trayvon mark up a door with “W.T.F” — an acronym for “what the f—.” The officer said he found Trayvon the next day and went through his book bag in search of the graffiti marker.

Instead the officer reported he found women’s jewelry and a screwdriver that he described as a “burglary tool,” according to a Miami-Dade Schools Police report obtained by The Miami Herald. Word of the incident came as the family’s lawyer acknowledged that the boy was suspended in February for getting caught with an empty bag with traces of marijuana.

Trayvon’s backpack contained 12 pieces of jewelry, in addition to a watch and a large flathead screwdriver, according to the report, which described silver wedding bands and earrings with diamonds.

Trayvon was asked if the jewelry belonged to his family or a girlfriend.

“Martin replied it’s not mine. A friend gave it to me,” he responded, according to the report. Trayvon declined to name the friend.

Trayvon was not disciplined because of the discovery, but was instead suspended for graffiti, according to the report. School police impounded the jewelry and sent photos of the items to detectives at Miami-Dade police for further investigation.

“Martin was suspended, warned and dismissed for the graffiti,” according to the report prepared by schools police.

That suspension was followed four months later by another one in February, in which Trayvon was caught with an empty plastic bag with traces of marijuana in it. A schools police report obtained by The Miami Herald specifies two items: a bag with marijuana residue and a “marijuana pipe.”

The punishment was the third for the teen. On Monday, the family also said Trayvon had earlier been suspended for tardiness and truancy.

Zimmerman told police Trayvon jumped him, punched him in the face and slammed his head on the ground, according to information published by the Orlando Sentinel. The news account came a day after a friend of Zimmerman’s took to television network programs to say the watchman was the victim in the case.

That sounded like someone in dire need of help,” said friend Joe Oliver, referring to cries heard on 911 tapes. “That sounded like George.”

A lawyer for the family said she didn’t put much credence in the report about the jewelry and the screwdriver.

“This is someone in a school writing a report, rumor as far as I’m concerned,” said attorney Natalie Jackson.

The boy’s checkered school record was of little importance to the thousands of people who descended on the city’s civic center for a special city council meeting. Speaker after speaker blasted the investigation and demanded the police file charges in the case.

Truth About Slain Florida Teen Coming Out

March 27, 2012

New Details Deepen Trayvon Martin Controversy

From cbsnews.com by Mark Strassman, March 27, 2012

New information is putting a new twist on the Trayvon Martin case.

It has come out that the unarmed teenager was suspended from school, and is accused of beating up the man who then shot him dead.

Revelations have surfaced that the teen’s high school had suspended him three times for offenses including vandalism, truancy and tardiness, and, at the time of his death, he was in the midst a two-week suspension for a baggie containing marijuana residue found in his book bag.

Sanford police have confirmed that investigators believe Martin decked Zimmerman with a single punch and bashed his head against the sidewalk. Zimmerman then fired his nine millimeter.

Witness Confirms That Slain Florida Teen Attacked Man Before He Was Shot

March 27, 2012

Trayvon Martin “Shooter” Told Police Teenager Went For His Gun

From ABC News by Mat Guttman, March 26, 2012

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch crime captain who shot dead 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, originally told police in a written statement that Martin knocked him down with a punch to the nose, repeatedly slammed his head on the ground and tried to take his gun, a police source told ABC News.

Zimmerman had claimed he had called police about Martin, whom he found suspicious, then went back to his car when Martin attacked him, punching him.

The new information is the most complete version yet of what Zimmerman claims happened on the night of Feb. 26 when he shot and killed the teenager.

In addition, an eyewitness, 13-year-old Austin Brown, told police he saw a man fitting Zimmerman’s description lying on the grass moaning and crying for help just seconds before he heard the gunshot that killed Martin.

The initial police report noted that Zimmerman was bleeding from the back of the head and nose, and after medical attention it was decided that he was in good enough condition to travel in a police cruiser to the Sanford, Fla., police station for questioning. He was not arrested.

The details of Zimmerman’s early account of the confrontation could complicate pressing charges against him, which one veteran prosecutor has already said could be difficult.

“The stand-your-ground law is one portion of justifiable use of deadly force,” veteran State Attorney Angela Corey told ABC News. “And what that means is that the state must go forward and be able to prove it’s case beyond a reasonable doubt… So it makes the case in general more difficult than a normal criminal case.”

Zimmerman claimed self defense and this weekend the lawyer counseling him, Craig Sonner, told ABC News that he was likely to invoke Florida’s controversial stand-your-ground law in his defense.

The law affords people enormous leeway to use deadly force if they feel their life is seriously endangered. Sonner said Zimmerman felt “one of them was going to die that night,” when he pulled the trigger.

Corey, a veteran prosecutor known for her zealous defense of victims rights was hand-picked by Florida Gov. Rick Scott for the job. But she faces other challenges in the case.

While in life Trayvon Martin was barely 17, when it comes to justifiable homicide his size — about 6-foot-3 and 150 pounds — makes him an adult in death.

Zimmerman, 28, is 5-foot-9 and weighs well over 200 pounds.

“So it would depend on which charge if any we’re able to file,” she said. “Before we would be able to determine, one, if this is a hate crime, and two, whether or not that would enhance the crime.”