Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Look out the prosecutor is packing

Gives a whole new meaning to quick draw in the court room.

Houston DA wants to keep assistants from packing heat in courtroom
Clay Robison - Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN — Harris County District Attorney Ken Magidson has asked the state's top lawyer if he can legally stop his assistants from taking handguns into courtrooms despite a new law removing most restrictions on where prosecutors with gun licenses can carry their weapons.
Magidson requires members of his staff, even those with concealed handgun licenses, to obtain his permission, as a condition of employment, before they can carry a firearm into a courtroom.

He is seeking Attorney General Greg Abbott's opinion on whether he can continue that policy, despite a 2007 law that allows prosecutors with handgun licenses to pack their pistols anywhere except jails or prisons. They also are prohibited from carrying them while intoxicated.
“While it may now be legal for a prosecutor to carry a licensed concealed handgun in a courtroom, I retain significant concerns with regard to the level of training that should be required in order to permit prosecutors to safely carry firearms in the volatile environment of a criminal courthouse,” Magidson said in a letter to Abbott.
“A disgruntled court participant might attempt to seize control of a weapon in order to effect an escape or harm other individuals,” he added.

The letter, sent earlier this month, recently was posted on the attorney general's Web site.
Magidson said his predecessor, Chuck Rosenthal, enforced a formal written policy prohibiting prosecutors from taking firearms into courtrooms.

Although the Legislature changed the law, Magidson said he has continued to require his assistants to obtain his permission before taking handguns into court. He said he allows only prosecutors “who have demonstrated a high level of proficiency to a certified firearms instructor on my staff” to do so.
He is seeking Abbott's opinion because several of his assistants questioned the legality of his policy.
Magidson argued that the new changes don't restrict his ability, as an employer, to impose his own requirements on employees.

“The authority of an employer to restrict the carrying of licensed handguns on the premises under the employer's control is expressly recognized” in state law, Magidson said.

Rob Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said his group didn't seek the 2007 changes. He said as far as he knew they had become an issue only in Harris, Fort Bend and El Paso counties but didn't know how any disputes were resolved.

Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey couldn't be reached Monday for comment.
Magidson allows prosecutors who have handgun licenses to carry their weapons in the district attorney's offices and unrestricted areas of county buildings.

He said he didn't know how many of his assistants have gun licenses.

Cheks aren't cash

The never ending saga continues.

Charges against DeLay in question
Janet Elliott - Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN — Tom DeLay's attorney said Monday that prosecutors can't convict the former U.S. House majority leader on money laundering charges because of an appeals court ruling that said the law applied to cash, not checks, when the alleged laundering of corporate campaign donations occurred.
DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said he expects the charges eventually will be dismissed because of Friday's ruling from the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals.

He said Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's “team indicted Tom DeLay and wrecked his career based on statutes that weren't even on the books at the time the conduct took place.”
The indictments cost DeLay his leadership position. The Sugar Land Republican resigned from Congress in 2006 and is working as a consultant in Washington D.C.

Earle said it's premature to suggest DeLay will be cleared by the decision involving his two former political associates. Earle said he was pleased that the court upheld the state's ban on corporate contributions to political candidates, but disagreed with its reasoning on whether checks could be used to launder funds.
“The distinction that the court made was absurd,” Earle said. “You ask people struggling to pay their grocery or gasoline bills whether a check is money and you are certainly going to get an earful.”

DeLay, John Colyandro and James Ellis are accused of funneling $190,000 in corporate donations illegally to seven Texas House candidates in 2002. Prosecutors allege they conspired to violate the corporate ban by laundering money through national Republican Party accounts.
The three have denied any wrongdoing. DeGuerin said a similar amount of money sent by the national party to Texas legislative candidates came from separate legal donors in other states.
“They kept a Chinese wall between corporate money and individual money,” he said.

The appeals court refused to dismiss money laundering and conspiracy charges against Colyandro and Ellis, who were indicted one year before DeLay. The court found that the Texas law banning corporate contributions to political candidates is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad.

But in its lengthy discussion, the court said that checks were not covered by the money laundering statute prior to 2005, when the Legislature defined “funds” to include checks, money orders, and electronic funds.

Although DeLay was not a party to the appeal, the decision is expected to apply to his case.
Earle said he doesn't believe the court's opinion “created any real obstacle to our prosecution of all of the defendants.”

A trial judge in 2005 considered the checks vs. cash argument and declined to dismiss the indictments.

J.D. Pauerstein, who represents Ellis, said he does not plan to appeal the ruling. He said if the ruling stands, he will again ask the trial judge to throw out the charges.

“We're pleased with the gist of the court's ruling because it undermines the money laundering prosecutions,” Pauerstein said.

You can hide but you wont beat the ride

Barring the fact that there was no one in the room and how did they talk to the girlfriend? What a pretty silly thing for him to do.

Then run?

Pretty much says: "Hey! I'm Guilty!"

Austin police search for Bexar County Sheriff's deputy
By Lomi Kriel - SAEN

Austin police on Monday were looking for a 26-year-old Bexar County Sheriff's deputy after they were called to a hotel room where authorities said the man assaulted his girlfriend.

Police said Laurence James Diamond Jr., a sheriff's deputy working patrol out of the East Side substation, was at a Doubletree Hotel with his girlfriend in the 1600 block of northbound Interstate 35, near the University of Texas campus.

At around 1 a.m., police said the woman called police claiming her boyfriend had assaulted her. Officers responding to the scene thought he had barricaded himself into his hotel room, and, hearing no response from the room and suspecting he had a weapon, called SWAT officers to the scene.

When SWAT officers finally entered the room at around 5:40 a.m., no one was inside. Police believe Diamond left the hotel while his girlfriend was calling the police. She was treated for minor injuries.

Austin police have issued a warrant for Diamond's arrest, charging him with assault/family violence, a class A misdemeanor carrying a $7500 bond. They are still searching for the deputy and anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call 911.

Deputy Chief Dale Bennett said Diamond has been on the force since March 2001. The only disciplinary action he has received is two counselings for being late to work, Bennett said.

As is routine, the department will place Diamond on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation into the incident. The criminal investigation will be conducted concurrently.

OJ part deaux

Step right up, the first "trial of the century" this century.

Coming to a TV set near you real soon.

Judge won't delay OJ Simpson trial in Las Vegas
By KEN RITTER Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A judge on Monday rejected a request by a co-defendant of O.J. Simpson to delay their upcoming trial on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping.

A lawyer for Clarence "C.J." Stewart had asked Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass to put off the Sept. 8 trial until the Nevada Supreme Court considers Stewart's request for a separate trial.
Stewart's lawyers argue that it will be impossible for him to get a fair trial because most of the focus will be on Simpson, an NFL Hall of Fame player, actor and advertising pitchman who was acquitted in 1995 of charges that he murdered his ex-wife and her friend.

A hearing date on the fair trial issue has not been set. Stewart lawyer Robert Lucherini said he also would appeal the decision to not delay the trial. The trial is expected to last at least five weeks.

Stewart and Simpson face felony charges of kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon stemming from a confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas casino hotel room last September.

They are the last two defendants in the case. Four men who accompanied Simpson and Stewart accepted plea deals and agreed to testify against Simpson.

A kidnapping conviction carries the possibility of life in prison with the possibility of parole, and a robbery conviction would mean mandatory prison time.

Simpson maintains that he went to the hotel room to retrieve items stolen that had been from him, that he didn't ask anyone to bring guns and that he didn't know anyone in the room was armed.

Transporting stolen goods

Man, I bet a lot of stolen items go through the Flea Market on the South side of San Antonio.

What? I'm just sayin'

Local officers intercept stolen truck, tools
By Gerard MacCrossan: The Herald-Zeitung

Inventorying a load of stolen tools under the hot sun Monday wouldn’t be described as a reward for three Auto Theft Task Force local officers, but the outcome of their recent interdiction efforts was a satisfying feeling.Comal County Sheriff’s Deputy Mykel Andaloro and Det. John Bailey checked out the Ford F-350 as it passed along Interstate 35 in Comal County a week ago towing a trailer. When the four-wheel drive truck’s Vehicle Identification Number was checked and found to belong to a similar two-wheel drive truck, the officers’ suspicions were aroused. The pair learned the truck had been stolen from Tarrant County in February.

It was Monday when the officers and their colleague Department of Public Safety Sgt. Archie Harben started unloading the trailer. They pulled out construction tools, lawn mowers and other yard maintenance equipment crammed inside and almost immediately discovered some of it as reported stolen from construction site in Irving.“We have to go through and identify each piece by serial number,” Andaloro said. “We’ll take pictures of everything. We want to try to get items back to the victim.”

Bailey said part of the job will be identifying items that weren’t listed by serial number in burglary reports, but were taken in conjunction with other items that officers can identify. He said officers believe the man driving the truck, who hasn’t been arrested, was taking the items to a flea market south of San Antonio to sell. The man could face charges in each county where property was stolen. Bailey said.

Monday, August 25, 2008

At least he's not a stool pigeon

I've heard that there are a lot of pigeons in jail or prison, just not real ones.

Smuggler pigeon locked up

A pigeon's behind bars after being caught smuggling drugs into a high security jail in Bosnia.
The bird is a pet of one of the inmates and it's thought tiny bags containing heroin had been tied to its legs.

Wardens at Zenica prison grew suspicious when they noticed four prisoners becoming "visibly intoxicated" shortly after the pigeon was spotted landing on a window-ledge.
The bird's owner and three other inmates later tested positive for the drug.
"We suspect that the pigeon carried the drugs from Tuzla," said Deputy Warden Josip Pojavnik - referring to a town more than 40 miles away.

The bird has been taken into custody while an investigation is carried out.
"We do not know what to do with the pigeon," Pojavnik added. "But for the time being it will remain behind bars."

Officials are now deciding whether to suspend a rehabilitation programme at the jail that had been encouraging prisoners to breed pigeons - but they insist none of those birds were involved in the smuggling.

Sick puppies

WTF kind of folks are these?

Vile, disgusting, perverted, and totally reprehensible?

Well, pretty sick ones apparently.

Testimony reveals child sex case details
Graeme Zielinski - Express-News

The San Antonio couple accused of marketing the woman's 5-year-old daughter for sex appeared in court this week as graphic new details emerged about what a prosecutor called their “strong and violent desires.”
Jennifer Richards, 25, and her married boyfriend, Sean Michael Block, 40, appeared Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Stein Nowak, who ordered Block held. Richards' detention hearing was delayed until Tuesday.

Richards faces charges of using interstate facilities to transmit information about a minor. And Block, who allegedly sent an e-mail with a link to a Russian child porn site, was charged with distributing child pornography.
Rex Miller, the FBI's lead agent on the case, testified Friday that the two had hoped to blackmail an informant with whom they had been in contact to sell Richards' 5-year-old and 10-month-old daughters for sex.

Part of the deal included a two-bedroom apartment that would be the site of the rape, Miller testified, but also child care for the 10-month-old, who “eventually” would be raped herself.
Authorities said both children are no longer in Richards' custody and that neither child was sold for sex.

Ronald Guyer, Block's lawyer, acknowledged how serious the charges appear.
“It certainly brings to mind, ‘What kind of monster is this?'” he said. But Guyer stressed to the judge that there was no evidence that the behavior progressed beyond Block's fantasy.
“There has been no action on his part,” Guyer told Nowak.

Based on an interview with Block, in which Miller said he made incriminating statements, a review of the computers the two used, and surreptitiously taped conversations, Miller said he discovered the two were making further plans to abduct, rape and “carve up” a teenage runaway.

He said Block had come to the attention of authorities as early as 2004 and again was on the radar of a Los Angeles undercover investigation in 2006, but it wasn't until earlier this month that there was enough alleged evidence to act against him.
The couple both worked at the Cheesecake Factory at North Star Mall, where he was a bartender and she was a waitress. Employees interviewed Friday expressed surprise at the charges. A manager there referred questions to the chain's corporate office.

Also Friday, Block's now-estranged wife was in court, too, though she left at one point in tears as Miller's testimony described in graphic detail Internet communications with Richards about the fantasies.

Sarah Block declined comment, as did Block's father, who had sought, unsuccessfully, to have his son placed in his custody.

Court records show that Sarah Block filed for a protective order earlier this week on behalf of the couple's 14-month-old child. Her lawyer said she filed for divorce Friday.

Another killing

Another day, another murder.

Someone knows what happened.

Man fatally stabbed near downtown

A man was stabbed to death early Sunday just north of downtown, police said. Guadalupe Ayala, 20, was found lying in the pool area of the Mulberry Village apartment complex in the 1200 block of East Mulberry Avenue.

A witness told police he heard people scuffling in the area around 4:30 a.m. and a man saying, “Wait, wait, what are you going to do,” a police report said.
A resident of the complex found the man’s body about one hour later.

Ayala suffered multiple stab wounds to the arms, the report said.
No one had been arrested in the slaying on Sunday.

Large Problem

More problems with handling an obese defendant. Giving her a GPS device seems a little silly given she is so hard to move around.

Suspect's obesity causes headaches for county

HOUSTON — Authorities are scrambling to figure out how to arrest, incarcerate and prosecute a woman estimated to weigh nearly half a ton who was indicted on capital murder charges.
Mayra Rosales, 27, has remained under house arrest since she was charged in March with beating her 2-year-old nephew to death. Rosales could face the death penalty if she is found guilty of capital murder.

But now that her case has moved into the state court system, law enforcement officials must address a whole new set of logistical problems before it can go to trial.
“We're struggling to find a place where she can be kept under lock and key,” Rene Guerra, the Hidalgo County district attorney, told the McAllen Monitor. “We have to wait and see what the judge decides.”

The Hidalgo County Jail is not physically equipped to handle an inmate who weighs nearly 1,000 pounds, Sheriff Lupe Trevino said. And even if his office found a cell and a bed large enough for her, deputies are unsure that the jail doctor is qualified to handle her various medical needs.
The costs of checking Rosales in for constant medical care could reach as high as $5,000 a day, according to the district attorney's office.
“I'm not ready to take that kind of money out of the county coffers if there are other options,” Guerra said. “But I will if I have to.”

Trevino suggested Friday that the court allow Rosales to remain under house arrest and be monitored using a global positioning system until her presence is required in court.
“I think she has shown from the day of her (initial) arrest to the day of her indictment that she's not a flight risk,” he said.

Once she is summoned to court, a new set of problems arises.
Family members had to dismantle part of Rosales' La Joya home when they moved soon after 2-year-old Eliseo Gonzalez Jr.'s death. And accommodating her in the cramped courtrooms in the Hidalgo County Courthouse could be impossible.

State law requires that all district court business take place in the county seat — in this case Edinburg. But court hearings could be moved to a more spacious building within the city limits.
“You could turn a gym into a courtroom if you needed to,” Trevino said.
Earlier this year, a New York Supreme Court justice agreed to arraign a 500-pound man in a parking lot, where he sat in the bed of a pickup truck.
Rosales has refused to comment since her initial arrest. It was unclear Friday whether she had retained an attorney.

Rosales' 20-year-old sister, Jamie Lee Rosales, the boy's mother, was indicted Thursday on one felony count of injury to a child. The offense is punishable by up to life in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Prosecutors allege the mother left her child with the boy's aunt even though the younger Rosales knew her sister was incapable of caring for a toddler.

A prison sentence of any length for the elder Rosales is likely to raise a whole new set of questions.
“The cost may be astronomical,” Trevino said. “But you can't put a price on justice.”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What would Lou Grant do?

Man, this sounds more like something from the old Mary Tyler Moore show.

Without the canned laughter sound track of course.

Fired Philly TV anchor admits e-mail hacking
By MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA - A fired TV newscaster admitted in court Friday that he illegally hacked into his co-anchor's e-mail accounts and leaked private information about her to gossip columnists.

Larry Mendte admitted that he viewed hundreds of Alycia Lane's e-mails from March 2006 to May 2008, including ones from her agent, her then-husband and lawyers representing her after she was arrested in New York last year and fired from KYW-TV, Philadelphia's CBS affiliate.
"There is no question he wrecked her career," said lawyer Paul Rosen, who represents Lane in her wrongful-termination suit against the station.

Mendte, 51, said at a news conference that his actions grew out of a feud with Lane, 36, that began after he ended what he said was a flirtatious and improper relationship with her, including long dinners and late nights out together.
Rosen promptly disputed the account. He called Mendte "sick and narcissistic" and said there was never an inappropriate relationship.

Mendte, who is married to local Fox news anchor Dawn Stensland, accused Lane of undermining his standing at the station after the relationship ended, and said that with his career in trouble, he began looking at her e-mails.
"I was not the source of every story about Alycia Lane or the sole source on many, but I was a source, and I was getting some of the information from her e-mails," he said.

Mendte earned about $700,000 a year at the station. Rosen believes he became jealous of his younger co-anchor in early 2006 as her salary climbed to about $780,000. He bought a keystroke-logging device to get her passwords in August 2006, and intercepted e-mails from Lane's personal and work accounts, prosecutors said.

From January to May of this year, Mendte read Lane's e-mail 537 times, the FBI said.
Mendte and Lane co-anchored evening broadcasts together for four years at KYW until Lane's arrest in December after an alleged scuffle with New York police.
Mendte was fired in June after FBI agents searched his home and seized his computer. His attorney, Michael Schwartz, has said Mendte cooperated from the start.

Mendte faces a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison but is likely to get much less under federal guidelines when he is sentenced Nov. 24. Prosecutors have agreed not to recommend any sentence.

As the twice-divorced Lane's personal life became tabloid fodder, she complained to the station that her work e-mails were getting passed around, Rosen said.
"They treated her as if she was paranoid," he said.

The allegations are the latest embarrassment for the station, which had been making gains with the Mendte-Lane duo against longtime news leader WPVI-TV, the ABC affiliate.
According to the criminal information filed in July, Mendte relayed details about Lane's criminal case and other information to a Philadelphia Daily News reporter.

Lane is suing the station over her dismissal, which the station said was necessary because she had become the subject of several news stories.
New York prosecutors in February downgraded felony charges that Lane struck the officer. A judge pledged to drop the remaining charges in August if she is not arrested again.

Mendte joined KYW in July 2003 after several years at the local NBC affiliate. He previously co-hosted "Access Hollywood" and worked at stations in Chicago, San Diego and New York.

Don't drink, drive and kill

Aww, poor baby.

Don't gets his pwobation, the wittle fella and is wooking at 2-20.


Second DWI charge thwarts sentencing

A judge has thrown out the plea deal he approved one week earlier that called for 10 years probation and alcohol counseling for a Bandera County man who pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated during a crash that killed his brother.

District Attorney Bruce Curry said state District Judge Steve Ables on Aug. 14 tossed the agreement with John Heinen, 32, after learning Heinen couldn’t begin treatment because he’s wanted in Oklahoma on a drunk driving charge.

Ables’ reversal reinstated the original intoxication manslaughter charge against Heinen, said Curry, noting the case is on the Sept. 30 court docket.

Authorities say Heinen, whose blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit after the April 1, 2007 wreck in Bandera County that killed Joe W. Heinen, 34, claimed he couldn’t remember if he was driving.

The honor system didn't work

Why am I not surprised that this didn't work.

If it had why we could've gotten rid of most police officers as well. Just offer criminals the opportunity to turn themselves in. You know DWI offenders, theives, robbers, rapists and all the rest. Speeders too!

Reduce the size of law enforcement, that's the ticket! Well not really because the speeders will, you know, just turn themselves in.

Self-deport program is scrapped
Hernán Rozemberg - Express-News

With eight down and 456,992 to go, immigration agents called it quits.

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday scrapped “Operation Scheduled Departure,” a program to encourage immigrants with deportation orders and with no criminal records to come out of the shadows and self-deport, after only eight migrants came forward.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the DHS agency managing the program, confirmed that eight people signed up in the two-and-a-half weeks since it was rolled out Aug. 5 — out of 457,000 eligible candidates across the country and almost 30,000 in the five test cities. None were in Texas.

Despite the dismal turnout, ICE officials said they weren't disappointed, noting they didn't have high expectations for the program and that it proved to be a good learning tool.

The agency's top lesson: going soft gets a zero.
Jim Hayes, in charge of detention and deportation for ICE, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the closed-minded manner with which immigrants and their advocates reacted to the idea, never willing to give it a chance.

It's ironic, he noted, since the agency tried the program in the first place at the urging of advocacy and community groups who pleaded for an alternative to ongoing large-scale raids. People who signed up would be given three months to take care of their affairs before leaving.
“We're going to enforce immigration law whether it's convenient for people or not,” said Hayes, who refused to name the groups that asked for its implementation. “Obviously, certain groups have shown they don't want our laws enforced, as mandated by Congress.”

Advocates said they weren't surprised by the government's spin. Some said they never thought ICE truly wanted to make the program work, but rather wanted to use it as a façade to show that offering a carrot doesn't work and the only solution is to keep using the stick.
Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights said the agency knew the program would never work because thousands of unauthorized immigrants have already settled down — paying taxes, owning homes and cars, raising families — and wouldn't simply pack up and go.
“ICE should spend its time finding and deporting human and drug traffickers and leave working immigrants alone,” said Hoyt, based in Chicago — where two people, an Indian couple, turned themselves in.

The rest of the program participants included an immigrant from Estonia, two Guatemalans and one each from El Salvador, Lebanon and Mexico. They signed up in the five designated pilot locations: Phoenix, Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., San Diego and Santa Ana, Calif.
Another advocate admitted that he and his colleagues could have used better language when criticizing the program, but the point still stands: The government's immigration policy has dramatically strayed since the White House failed to push Congress to overhaul the current system.

“Maybe we've been a bit flippant with our comments,” said Doug Rivlin, spokesman for the Washington-based National Immigration Forum. “But all this has been a distraction from the real issue — we need enforceable laws that make sense to our modern economy.”
Voluntarily or not, fugitive illegal immigrants have their days counted, said Hayes, noting that regular fugitive round-ups continued during Operation Scheduled Departure.

He said 1,300 immigrants on the run were picked up at the same time as the self-deport program was being tried out, bringing the total to more than 29,000 so far this fiscal year. With a month to go, this year's number will likely top last year's 30,000 total.
Plus, added Hayes, the 95 teams set up across the country — each with eight agents tasked solely with tracking down fugitive immigrants — will grow to 104 by next month thanks to its $218 million budget.

Though the self-deport program was nixed, Hayes insisted it that it was not a failure.
It was even financially beneficial, he said. The eight takers saved the government the $54,000 it would have cost to detain them, more than offsetting the program's $41,000 price tag.
That's not counting the 136 calls that the agency received though a hotline set up for the program, Hayes said.

Breath or Blood, your choice

A good idea.

And one that should be done as frequently as possible IMHO.

Guadalupe County officials are planning ‘no refusal' weekend for DWI suspects
Roger Croteau - Express-News

Guadalupe County officials are planning a “no refusal” Labor Day weekend for DWI suspects.
County Attorney Elizabeth Murray-Kolb said judges will be standing by, ready to issue warrants authorizing a blood draw from suspects who refuse a breathalyzer test.
And nurses will be on hand to draw the blood at the jail.

“Driving while intoxicated is a big problem in Guadalupe County, as it is all over Texas,” Murray-Kolb said. “What we are trying to do is to make these cases easier to prosecute as well as making a point about refusing to do a breathalyzer.

“When the state gives you a driver's license, there are conditions on it, and one of them is that if you are stopped for DWI you will give breath or blood,” she said.

Murray-Kolb said more and more DWI suspects are refusing to submit to breath tests, which provide good evidence that the suspect was over the legal limit. Without that evidence, it is harder to win a conviction and thus more expensive to prosecute.

In Guadalupe County, more than half of the drivers stopped for suspected DWI refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer test or to perform roadside sobriety tests, such as walking a straight line.
The no refusal program will be in effect for the entire Labor Day weekend. The Seguin and Cibolo police departments, Guadalupe County Sheriff's Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, the county attorney's office and several judges all have agreed to cooperate on it.

The judges have worked out a schedule so that at least one will be on call at all times.
Assistant county attorneys also will be available to help officers draw up requests for warrants to obtain a blood sample.

Other jurisdictions, including Harris and Bexar counties, have held no refusal weekends.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

No Daisy Dukes in court

Judge, doesn't that seem a bit harsh? Even if you are holding her in contempt of court?

The drugs obviously made her forget

Judge jails woman for wearing short shorts
By Greg Kocher

LANCASTER — A woman was ordered to serve three days in jail after a judge found her in contempt of court for inappropriate dress.

Kirstie Arnold, 28, of Lancaster, was sent to the Boyle County Jail after wearing short shorts during a court appearance Monday before Garrard District Judge Janet Booth.

Booth had warned Arnold about her clothes in two previous court appearances, and in the last appearance had fined Arnold $50 for her attire. A court videotape of Monday’s proceeding contains the following exchange:
“Why shouldn’t I put you in jail for contempt today?” Booth asked. “I told you twice.”
“I’m sorry,” Arnold said.
“No, you’re not,” Booth said. “I told you twice. I even fined you for being in contempt. Why shouldn’t I throw you in jail today? You apparently don’t care about the court’s orders.
“I forgot,” Arnold said.
“How could you forget?” Booth said. “No, seriously, how could you forget? It’s a complete disregard of court order. Complete. You should go to jail today, and you’re going.”
“Well, next time I won’t wear shorts,” Arnold said.
“I bet you won’t,” Booth said. And with that, Booth ordered her to serve three days of temporary detention “for disregard and disrespect for court proceedings.”

Arnold went to the Boyle County jail because the Lincoln County jail, which normally holds Garrard prisoners, had no room for her. She declined to be interviewed Thursday. Booth could not be reached immediately for comment.

Arnold would have been released Thursday except that she got into more trouble when she allegedly tried to conceal a drug from Lancaster Police Officer Allen Weston.
Court records say that Arnold moved Suboxone, a drug for treatment of opiate addiction, from her purse into her pocket.

She was then charged with possession of a controlled substance, tampering with physical evidence, possession of drug paraphernalia, and having a controlled substance not in its original container.

The new charges against Arnold are in addition to pending charges of harassment, criminal trespass and leaving the scene of an accident. The last charge came after she allegedly knocked over a tombstone in a Lancaster cemetery with a vehicle and left, according to court records.
Arnold remained in the Boyle jail Thursday afternoon, but bond information was not available.
Arnold’s next court appearance is scheduled for Monday in Garrard District Court. If she is still an inmate at that time, she will wear a bright yellow jail uniform.

911 here....not!

So how do you call 911 to report an emergency that 911 is down?

Hmm? Very philosophical question. Like if a tree falls in a forest does the rain in Spain stay mainly on the plains?

I just don't know.

911 system knocked out in parts of SoCal

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - The sheriff's department in southern California's Orange County says the 911 emergency call system for much of the county has been repaired after an outage that shut it down for 90 minutes.

Sheriff's Lt. Ted Boyne says there were no reports of serious problems or unanswered emergency calls during the outage early Saturday.
He says callers could still dial two regular business numbers to reach dispatchers.

The lieutenant says the outage was caused by changes involved in the introduction of a new 657 area code assigned to the region.

He says the sheriff's department contacted AT&T, which fixed the problem.

Virtual stupidity

You just never know when real life will show up to mess up your virtual life!

Be careful out there, Folks!

Woman Attempts To Kidnap Ex-Virtual Boyfriend

CLAYMONT, Del. (CBS 3) ― A woman wanted in the bizarrely complicated attempted kidnapping of her former virtual boyfriend has been apprehended after a multi-state search.

New Castle County Police said 33-year-old Kimberly Jernigan of North Carolina was apparently distraught after her online relationship with a 52-year-old man from Claymont, Delaware came to an end.The pair apparently met online in "Second Life." A virtual relationship began between the victim, whose character was a Lion, and Jerrigan, whose online persona was said to be a virtual woman.When the two met in reality several months ago, police said the victim ended the relationship, sending Jernigan into a downward spiral.

In the beginning of August, Jernigan allegedly drove to the victim's Pennsylvania workplace and attempted to kidnap him at gunpoint. While she was unsuccessful, she returned two weeks later to track down the victim's Delaware address.Police said Jernigan posed as a postal worker in order to locate the victim's new address, as he had recently moved. After four days of searching, authorities said she found residence in the Whitney Presidential Towers on the 7100 block of Society Drive in Claymont.With her dog Gogi in tow, investigators said Jernigan cut and removed a screened window in order to enter her virtual ex's apartment.

When the victim arrived home on Thursday, August 21, he told police he saw someone pointing an object at his chest that was projecting a laser beam. He immediately fled the apartment and contacted police.Officers arriving at the scene discovered a pair of handcuffs, a roll of duct tape, a Taser and a BB gun as well as the suspect's dog.Police said Jernigan had bound her dog Gogi with duct tape and put him in the bathroom as he was making too much noise. The dog was said to be uninjured, but the SPCA is looking into possible charges of animal cruelty.

Approximately an hour after the incident, authorities in Maryland spotted Jernigan's vehicle at a rest stop on I-95. She was taken into custody after a brief struggle.Jernigan is currently facing charges of attempted kidnapping, burglary and aggravated menacing.


Holy Smokes!

Several questions here?

a. Why do you have a memory stick floating around in the first place/

b. Why does your memory stick have a listing of C.I.'s (confidential informants)?

c. Why is an outside consulting firm looking at this anyway?

Here, I'll use some classic British understatement: "Are you all out of your effing minds?"

Data on 130,000 criminals lost
Confidential information on almost 130,000 prisoners and dangerous criminals has been lost by the Home Office, sparking yet another Government data crisis.

By Robert Winnett and Jon Swaine

The loss of the details, which were stored on an unencypted computer memory stick, has raised fears that the taxpayer may now face a multi-million pound compensation bill from criminals whose safety may have been compromised and police informants who could be at risk of reprisals.

The home addresses of some of Britain's most prolific and serious offenders - including those who have committed violent and sexual crimes - are understood to be among the missing data.
A full investigation is now underway to find the memory stick – containing information on all 84,000 prisoners in England and Wales, including some release dates, plus details of 43,000 most serious and persistent offenders – which was descibed as a 'toxic liability' by David Smith, the Deputy Information Commissioner.

The Conservatives have said taxpayers will be "absolutely outraged" and demanded that Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, make a statement on the incident. Dominic Grieve, the shadow Home Secretary, said he was "absolutely horrified" by the breach and the "government incompetence" that he said caused it. The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: "Charlie Chaplin could do a better job of running the Home Office than this Labour Government."
Mr Grieve said: "The Home Office is entrusted with a great deal of highly confidential material and it seems to be entirely incapable of keeping it secure. And the consequences are very serious. They're serious because it may lead to the identity of the people involved being revealed.

"One of the possible consequences is that criminals will bring legal actions against the government and the taxpayer will then have to pay damages to people, who appear to be pretty undeserving, because of the government's incompetence."

The breach is the latest blow to Miss Smith in her efforts to reform the Home Office, which was described as "not fit for purpose" by her predecessor, John Reid. Miss Smith is said to be furious.
The new scandal follows the loss of 25m child benefit records last year and details of millions of learner drivers and army recruits earlier this year. Whitehall departments were ordered to tighten procedures in the wake of the previous crises and the latest loss has stunned insiders.

A Home Office spokesman said that the memory stick had been lost by PA Consulting, a private company they employed to track and analyse serious and prolific offenders in the "JTrack" programme. The Home Office sent the personal details on the criminals to the company on a secure encrypted email, which was then transferred in an unencrypted form on to the memory stick, which was then lost.

The spokesman said the Home Office was first told by PA Consulting on Monday that the data might be missing, and that this was confirmed on Tuesday. The transfer of any further data to PA Consulting has been suspended pending an investigation.

Home Office officials are now in discussions with the Information Commissioner about what steps it may need to take to protect those whose privacy has been jeopardised. The Deputy Commissioner said last night that "searching questions must be answered" before it decides what further action to take.

The stick contains information such as home addresses on 33,000 individuals who have committed at least six offences in the past year. There is also data on about 10,000 people regarded as "prolific and other priority offenders" by the Government. Details of all 84,000 prisoners in England and Wales including expected release dates and dates of home detention curfews - are also on the stick, as well as information about drug treatment programmes.
Keith Vaz, a Labour MP and Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the implications of the loss of prisoners' data were "very, very serious indeed".

"If you hand out memory sticks almost like confetti to companies that are meant to do research for you, then you need to be absolutely certain that when you give such information away, the company concerned have put into practice procedures that are just as robust as the procedures that I hope the Government has followed since the loss of the child benefit data," Mr Vaz said.
The Deputy Commissioner said: "It is deeply worrying that after a number of major data losses more personal information has been reported lost. It is vital that sensitive information, such as prisoner records, is held securely at all times.

"The Home Office has informed us that an internal report will be carried out into the data security arrangements between the Home Office and its contractor, PA Consulting. We expect the Home Office to provide us at the Information Commissioner's Office with a copy of the report and its findings. We will then decide what further action may be appropriate. Searching questions must be answered about what safeguards were in place to protect this information.
A spokesman for PA Consulting, which has also helped to develop the national ID card scheme, refused to comment.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Library police make a bust

A heinous crime, heinous.

Why total anarchy would break out if this were left unpunished!
As a public service I have posted her mug shot.
Why is she smiling?

Wisconsin woman, 20, arrested for two overdue library volumes

The next time you forget to return a couple of library books (and ignore those annoying letters about the overdue status of said volumes), think of Heidi Dalibor. The Wisconsin woman, 20, was arrested earlier this month in connection with a pair of books overdue for several months.

Dalibor, who made the mistake of ignoring a court citation issued after she failed to respond to letters and phone calls from the Grafton library, was busted August 6 for failing to return copies of Janet Fitch's best-seller "White Oleander" (a 1999 Oprah Book Club selection) and "Angels & Demons," author Dan Brown's precursor to "The Da Vinci Code." According to a police report, Dalibor was apprehended at her family's home, cuffed and stuffed in a cruiser, and booked for violating the "overdue library materials" ordinance.

She also had to pose for a mug shot at the Grafton Police Department. Dalibor subsequently settled with the library by paying her overdue fines and reimbursing it for the cost of the two novels, which totaled around $180. Dalibor's mother Patty told TSG that her daughter was "a good kid" who works two jobs. She is also now the owner of the Fitch and Brown books, which Dalibor got to keep as a result of paying off her library levies.

Big deal

Do the media really feel they have to label her as the "Obese Woman"?
I haven't, and I didn't post the picture because of the large lady.

Obese woman charged with murder
- Express-News

EDINBURG — A grand jury on Thursday indicted a reportedly 1,000-pound woman on capital murder charges in the death of her 2-year-old nephew.
Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra said the jury indicted Mayra Lizbeth Rosases, 27, on charges including capital murder after a daylong proceeding.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino in March said wounds on Eliseo Gonzalez Jr. indicated he had been killed by blows that crushed his skull.
The child arrived at an area hospital in a coma on March 18 and was taken off life support two days later.

Mayra said she had slipped and landed with her hand on the child’s head. The child’s mother, 31-year-old Jamie Lee Rosales, was indicted on a charge of injury to a child for violating a Child Protective Services safety plan directing her not to leave her children alone with Mayra.
Mayra, of La Joya, has been bedridden by her obesity. Officials were forced to arraign her at home because they had no means of bringing her to a judge.

Guerra said his office had been waiting for the final pathology report.

Murder and torture

Mary Green is an excellent attorney. Go get 'em Mary.

Murder jury sees gruesome images of bleeding victim being bound
Graeme Zielinski - Express-News

The images of what were said to be Corey Baxter's bloody last hours were shown to Bexar County jurors Thursday as the murder trial of one of seven men initially charged in his 2007 killing resumed, grimly highlighted by testimony from a co-defendant who described a torture scene.

Brian Cyr, 35, whose trial began Tuesday in the 186th District Court, sat impassively through it all, his right arm at times slung over the back of his chair, as prosecutors showed 11 short video clips said to have been recovered from co-defendant Rudy Hettler's cell phone.
Cyr's lawyer, Lawrence Greenwood, objected to their admission and was overruled by Judge Maria Teresa Herr.
In one of the grainy clips, as an immobilized and bleeding Baxter was seen being bound on a garage floor, a voice alleged to be Cyr's did an ersatz Tony Montana impression, telling Baxter, as the Scarface character did, “Say hello to my little friend.”

In another clip, as what was said to be a discipline beating began, Cyr, nicknamed “Sushi,” was said to have been the voice that advised, “Never let 'em get you down.”
If the times and dates on the recovered images were to be believed, it was only hours later when Baxter's body was found in a grassy area on March 5, 2007, near Walzem and Gibbs-Sprawl roads, allegedly as a result of boasting to membership in the Texas Syndicate prison gang and giving information that led to the beating of another co-defendant's younger brother.

Those theories were introduced by Clifford Vansyckle, 30, who offered the jury a running commentary as the images were shown. Vansyckle, a hulking self-acknowledged methamphetamine abuser and drug enforcer, was initially charged in Baxter's murder and was offered lesser assault charges and consideration on a meth possession rap in exchange for his testimony against the six other defendants.

His testimony, the still images and video clips were prosecutors' attempts to show how the end came for the 28-year-old Baxter. Asked by Assistant District Attorney Mary Green “What brought everyone together?” Vansyckle had a one-word answer: “Dope.”
Vansyckle painted a picture of a shiftless lifestyle of petty theft and days-long crystal meth sprees, where “tweakers” would ride around in their parents' cars from party to party.
He testified that Baxter was targeted in part because he had boasted of being detailed by Hettler to “take out” Robert Cruz, one of the defendants.

The others charged with murder were Guadalupe Villarreal, Justin Berban Alvarado and Michael Yaws, all of whom are awaiting trial.
Vansyckle said the group initially intended to beat Baxter as they gathered in a garage at the home of a crew member's girlfriend in the 9600 block of Chelmsford Drive.
“I don't think any of us at first took it serious,” said Vansyckle, who claimed to have left as the beatings progressed.

Vansyckle said he returned to the house hours later, with a hamburger for Berban, and he could still make out Baxter's voice from within the garage: “He was saying, ‘Somebody help. Somebody help.'”

Continue the good work

Good, I am glad these fine organizations received the funding they need to continue their good work.

State awards local groups more than $100K
By Andrew Martinez: The Herald-Zeitung

Local victim support organizations were among the beneficiaries Thursday of almost $21 million grant funds announced by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The Comal County Family Violence Shelter, St. Jude’s Emergency Children’s Shelter and Guadalupe County Children’s Advocacy Center each was awarded more than $100,000.

The $20.9 million Victims of Criminal Acts grant was shared by 179 programs designed to help victims of crime throughout the state.“This is kind of support to our program is vital because it helps us further our mission in caring for the most vulnerable children,” said St. Jude’s Community Relations Coordinator Erika Curtis.

Curtis said the shelter in New Braunfels went through a grant application process to receive the $100,000 it requested.

Other area victim advocacy organizations receiving money are Comal County Family Violence Shelter, Guadalupe County Children’s Advocacy Center and Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates.“Texas has an obligation not only to protect its citizens but to offer support and rehabilitation in the event they become victims of crime,” Perry said in press release.


Area organizations receiving money

• Comal County Family Violence Shelter Inc. — $111,328

• Guadalupe County Children’s Advocacy Center — $100,000

• St. Jude’s Ranch for Children Inc. — $105,324

• Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Inc. — $3,611,681

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Traffic (suit) delay

More delays, its like driving on 281.

How ironic.

New documents cause delay in U.S. 281 tollway lawsuit
Patrick Driscoll - Express-News

A judge on Wednesday granted a 60-day delay on the U.S. 281 tollway lawsuit so federal officials can review recently discovered documents from a state environmental study.

The documents, called “a small addition” by the Texas Department of Transportation but “numerous” by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, could alter the Federal Highway Administration's environmental clearance for the eight-mile toll road.

Toll critics and environmentalists filed the lawsuit in February to challenge the environmental study's thoroughness.
“TxDOT has discovered numerous documents containing potential evidence which, to its credit, says should be reviewed,” Biery said in a four-page order.

The Alamo Regional Mobility Authority, which took over the U.S. 281 toll project from TxDOT, promised not to start construction during the break, the order says.

Biery also noted that court battles take time. Thirty-plus years ago, the U.S. 281 project now known as McAllister Freeway was locked in litigation for 14 years and many contracts were delayed.

“The court presumes counsel and the parties will continue to use best efforts to proceed efficiently and professionally,” the order says. “Like good wine, the court will make no opinion before its time.”
The delay, effective Aug. 7, will end in October.

Under review

More to the story than originally revealed.

It still doesn't make sense that the deputy had him up front and unrestrained.

Man, Frio deputy had a history
Robert Crowe - Express-News

PEARSALL — In the year after Andres “Andy” Gutierrez got into his first altercation with a Frio County sheriff's deputy, the 19-year-old could not stop obsessing about the incident.

Gutierrez's father said the deputy beat his son in May 2007 for refusing to take a drug test at a probation office, but county officials say the force was justified because the man was combative.
On Monday — more than a year after what authorities and his family said was his first encounter with Deputy Roger Salinas — Gutierrez was shot and killed inside Salinas' patrol vehicle on a San Antonio freeway.

Salinas, 36, said he had no choice but to shoot Gutierrez because the man attacked him. Gutierrez, being driven to a psychiatric hospital, wasn't wearing handcuffs and was riding in the front seat.
“Roger Salinas was the last person who should have taken my son to the hospital,” said the father, Ascension Gutierrez.
Salinas could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

On Monday, Gutierrez had visited the Camino Real Community MHMR Center, a county mental health clinic. Officials and family said he made numerous calls to the agency's crisis hot line over the weekend because he was suffering from paranoid delusions.
After clinic staff authorized his request to be committed to a psychiatric hospital, County Judge Carlos A. Garcia authorized a warrant for a sheriff's deputy to transport him.
“When he wasn't feeling well, he would come into my office and ask to be committed,” Garcia said. “He was a very mellow, very kind of shy person.”

Officials said Salinas was the deputy chosen to transport the psychiatric patient from the clinic to San Antonio because no one else was available.
Gutierrez didn't say or do anything to indicate he feared Salinas when the deputy escorted him into the vehicle, officials said.
“My staff indicated he left cooperatively and very calmly,” said Emma Garcia, executive director of Camino Real Community MHMR Centers. “There wasn't any resistance or any problem at all.”

Garcia's agency is the primary mental health service for a nine-county region in South Texas. Because the counties do not have psychiatric hospitals, patients with serious symptoms are taken to San Antonio facilities such as Laurel Ridge Hospital, which was Gutierrez's destination.
Ascension Gutierrez said his son's mental health deteriorated just three years ago, after he was nearly stabbed to death by a 52-year-old man in his neighborhood.

The assailant, Mucio Martinez, pleaded guilty in 2006 and was sentenced to six years in state prison.
“After that, he wasn't the same boy,” said his aunt, Lupe Gutierrez.

Before the knife attack, which sent him to a hospital for two weeks with multiple wounds to his chest and hands, Andres Gutierrez was a good student who excelled on the Pearsall High School track team, his family said. His father has a small collection of medals for his cross-country competitions and long-distance races.

Memories of the 2005 attack by Martinez haunted Gutierrez. He had violent night terrors. Trips to the county clinic became more frequent. He dropped out of school during his senior year in 2007.

In December 2006, Gutierrez was arrested and charged with possessing less than 2 ounces of marijuana, was fined and received probation, records show.
In May 2007, while he and his father made his first visit with a probation officer, Gutierrez refused to take a drug test. After probation officers couldn't convince him to take the test, deputies, including Salinas, were called to the scene.
What followed, according to the father, was a beating so severe that his son had bruises all over his body, including his groin area, for many weeks afterward.
“Salinas took my son into another room and closed the door, then I just heard my boy screaming,” said Ascension Gutierrez, who was arrested and charged with assaulting a peace officer after he tried to intervene for his son.

Sheriff Lionel Treviño said the Gutierrez family's perception of the incident does not mesh with what deputies told him.
“There was nothing that could even be considered a beating,” Trevino said. “These people are ... I don't want to go out on a limb, but I was born and raised here and ... there was no beating.”
The younger Gutierrez, like his father, was charged with assaulting a peace officer. The assault charges, however, quickly were dropped. Soon after the incident, the county judge issued an order terminating Gutierrez's probation for the marijuana charge.

His family thinks the dismissals were compensation for the beating. Ascension Gutierrez never filed a formal complaint.
“We were so afraid that I just said, ‘Andy, we have to forget about this,'” the father said.
But his son couldn't forget. Like the 2005 stabbing, he rehashed the incident daily, over and over again.
“He rarely had a good day,” Lupe Gutierrez said.
The Sheriff's Office and the district attorney's office never conducted an investigation.

The San Antonio Police Department is investigating Monday's shooting because it happened here, in the 10900 block of Interstate 35 South.
According to a police report, at about 3:15 p.m. Salinas tried but failed to subdue Gutierrez with a Taser, so the deputy grabbed his service weapon and shot him in his arm and chest. Gutierrez died at the scene.

When police arrived, Salinas had a bruised right eye, swelling around both eyes and head trauma, according to the police report. He was taken to University Hospital in fair condition and later released.

Gutierrez was not restrained and rode in the front seat of a Frio County vehicle that did not have a police cage. Frio County Chief Deputy Joel Arellano said Gutierrez did not have to be restrained because he was classified as a “patient” instead of an “inmate,” and by seating the patient in front, the deputy could better watch him.

“Common practice is if you have a vehicle with no cage, a person riding in the back with a seatbelt and no restraints is a lot more dangerous,” Arellano said.
Still, Frio County's mental health officials said deputies reserve the right to detain patients. Ascension Gutierrez said clinic employees told him Salinas had advised them he planned to handcuff the young man, but that never happened.
In death, he hopes his son found what he needed most in life.
“All my son ever wanted was justice,” the father said.

Magic Flying Carpet ride?

Yes, but the real question is does he want to go?

Or will he be volunteered?

Iran's space agency says it will send man to space

TEHRAN, Iran - State TV says Iran's space agency aims to send an astronaut to space within 10 years.

The report Thursday quotes Space Agency chief Reza Taghipoor saying the mission's timing will be decided over the next year. It gives no other details.
Iran has stepped up its space ambitions in recent years, worrying world leaders already concerned about its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Iran would have a ways to go before a manned flight. On Sunday, Taghipoor said Iran test-fired a rocket capable of carrying a satellite into orbit. The two-stage rocket released equipment that beamed flight data back to ground control.

A mini-tragedy

Why can't folks leave each other alone?

If you're going to off yourself don't take others with you. yeah, it's naive of me to wish this but I mean like WTF?

What? I'm just sayin'

Autopsy puts gun in husband’s hand
By Georgia Fisher

A Comal County justice of the peace said Wednesday that Earl Tomerlin shot himself to death and his wife also was shot and killed July 30 at their New Braunfels home. Police have said they’re investigating the case as a homicide-suicide, but have yet to officially identify Tomerlin as his wife’s assailant.

Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Diana Guerrero said the Travis County Medical Examiner’s autopsy reports confirmed the deaths were caused by gunshot wounds.Earl Tomerlin, 55, and his wife, Juiceline “Joy” Tomerlin, 29, were found dead in their Comal Farms home by police officers dispatched there for a welfare check. Both bodies had gunshot wounds, police said, and a handgun was recovered from the scene. “The medical examiner’s opinion is he (Earl Tomerlin) died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, and the entrance (wound) was in the right temple,” Guerrero said. “It was a 357 Magnum -- his own gun. He killed himself.”

Joy Tomerlin died of gunshot wounds to the head and back, Guerrero said.The medical examiner ruled the woman’s death a homicide, but Guerrero said she couldn’t fully determine specifics of the case — such as who, exactly, shot her — without investigative reports from police.“I myself am waiting to get a little more information from them,” Guerrero said Wednesday.

Joy Tomerlin’s body is still at a local funeral home and her friends say it will be returned this week to her family in the Philippines. Tomerlin’s employer put up about $5,000 to cover shipment of the body earlier this month, but bureaucratic red-tape slowed the process, according to Tomerlin’s friend Eulynde Pendleton, who has started a memorial fund to help cover funeral expenses. As of Tuesday, Pendleton said, “we’re just waiting for paperwork from the embassy and the consulate. We’re not sure when she’s flying but sometime this week.”

Pendleton and Tomerlin met about five years ago through their husbands, and began their friendship while Tomerlin was still in the process of moving to the United States. “Little Joy” met Earl Tomerlin online, Pendleton said, and “even if he’s very controlling ... she said she loved her husband.”Earl Tomerlin suffered from diabetes and cardiac problems, Pendleton said, adding that he’d recently undergone surgery. “He’s been in and out of the hospital maybe every six months,” she said, still referencing the couple in the present-tense. “Every time he gets sick, (Joy) takes the day off work to help him.”Joy Tomerlin was well-known in town, her friends say, and she worked two jobs to support her ailing father back home. Pendleton has maintained regular contact with the family since the woman’s death, she said, and in regard to the body, “I told them, ‘Just wait — we’re doing our best.’”“I really want her to go now so she can rest,” Pendleton said.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the "Help Bring Joy Home" fund is asked to contact Pendleton at 643-0995, or mail donations to 1010 Hollyhock Lane, New Braunfels, 78130.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is this justice? #2

Contrast the case below with this case.

Perhaps, as folks thought would happen, when the legislature gave juries the ability to sentence a defendnat to life without the possibility of parole, more defendnats would get that instead of the death penalty.

Killer gets life without parole in store clerk's slaying

FORT WORTH – A Fort Worth man convicted of killing a Bedford store clerk last year was sentenced to life without parole Monday afternoon just hours after his mother and teen-aged daughter begged for his life.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty against Jeff Dodson, 39, for capital murder.
But Dodson’s mother and teenage daughter begged for his life Monday morning as a Tarrant County jury was set to decide his fate.
A crying Mamie Lee Burton asked the jury of eight men and four men to spare her son from the death penalty.
"I respect your judgment," Burton said Monday morning. "He’s not a threat."

Dodson, dressed in a blue, collared shirt and black pants, wiped his eyes as his mother left the witness stand in Criminal District Court No. 1.
Minutes later, his 16-year-old daughter pleaded for father’s life.

"Please let my dad live in prison," Ortavia Dodson testified. "Don’t take his life."

Jurors had two options: death or life in prison without parole.
The same jury convicted Dodson of capital murder on Friday for the 2007 robbery-slaying of a Bedford store clerk.

The jury deliberated for about two and a half hours over two days before convicting of the fatal shooting of Gaurab Rajbanshi, 28, as he worked at the D&S Food Mart on Pipeline Road.
Other suspects

Dodson was the last of three defendants to face punishment in the death of Rajbanshi. Dodson’s brother, Theodis Dodson, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in March. A cousin, Frederick Hughes, who waited in a Suburban during the holdup, was acquitted by a jury in July.
Hughes testified against Jeff Dodson.

The crime
Theodis and Jeff Dodson went in the store to rob it. Jeff Dodson told an accomplice later that the handgun trigger slipped while he pointed the gun at the clerk.
A customer found Rajbanshi several minutes later. Jeff Dodson was later identified from a store surveillance camera.

The robbers were unable to get the cash register open and left the store.

Is this justice?

Gives one pause doesn't it? If you may recall the driver of a vehicle which stopped and let out the shooter of Michael LaHood, Jr. had his death sentence commuted to life without parole last year.

That driver seemed to me to be more complicit in the act including the fact he followed LaHood and his date to his parent's house. The facts in this case seem to show less complicity, but I do not know.

Scotty Sullivan is a good habeas attorney and knows his stuff well, however and you should pardon my pun but his client has his best shot with him as his attorney.

Case of non-triggerman set to die raises questions
MICHAEL GRACZYK: Associated Press Writer

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — His lawyers don't dispute that convicted killer Jeffery Wood deserves punishment for his involvement in a robbery more than a dozen years ago where a clerk at a Texas Hill Country gas station convenience store was gunned down.

But Woods' attorneys and supporters argue he doesn't deserve to die for a murder that occurred while he was waiting in a car outside the store in Kerrville. They also point out that Daniel Reneau, the gunman who killed clerk Kriss Keeran with a fatal shot to the face, already has been executed.
"Someone answered for this in terms of the death penalty," attorney Scott Sullivan said. "A non-triggerman shouldn't get the death penalty."

Wood, who turned 35 Tuesday, was set for execution Thursday in a case that again put under scrutiny a unique Texas law that makes accomplices as culpable as the killer in a capital murder case.

Wood would be the ninth condemned prisoner put to death this year and the fifth this month in the nation's busiest capital punishment state. At least a dozen other Texas inmates have execution dates in the coming months.

Read the entire article HERE.

Killer found guilty

Justice found possibly. Let's wait and see on the punishment.

Katrina evacuee guilty of killing two
David Rauf - Express-News

A Katrina evacuee was found guilty today of capital murder and sentenced to life without parole for the slayings of two friends in a Northeast Side residence in 2007.
Chris Meadoux, 17, was found guilty of killing Johnny You, 17, and Luis Martinez, 19, in January 2007. Both were shot in the head and their throats were slashed.

Firefighters discovered You and Martinez when they responded to a fire at the home of a fourth friend, where the victims and Meadoux, then 16 years old, had spent the previous night.

“Regardless of what they say today, there is no judge than can overrule my god. My son is innocent,” said Lillian Laraque, Meadoux’s mother, outside the courtroom.

In a DVD made by police and played for the jury during his trial, Meadoux said he accidentally shot You and Martinez and cut them because he didn’t want to leave behind any witnesses.

“I’m very happy. This is what we wanted and this is what he deserved,” said Betsy Villamil, mother of Martinez.

“It still hurts and it’s going to hurt for a while,” Villamil added

Chugga chugga...woo woo..chugga chugga

Its been a long time coming.

It will be a good plan if they have park and ride busses that will shuttle folks to the train stations and they sell transfers. I'd take it!

Staying On Track
By Chris CobbThe Herald-Zeitung

New commuter trains could be rolling through town in the coming years, hauling millions of dollars in potential tax revenue with them in transit between Austin and San Antonio.The proposed commuter rail was at the forefront of a Tuesday meeting of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce's transportation committee.Ross Milloy, President of the Greater Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council, spelled out to the committee the need, benefits and potentially weighty cost of a high-traffic commuter rail line running through New Braunfels. Right now a single Amtrak train runs once daily back and forth from Austin to San Antonio without stopping here.

There are already discussions between the Texas Department of Transportation and Union Pacific officials to change that in the next three to four years and begin running 6 to 17 trains a day through the corridor on the existing lines, according to Milloy. But the larger vision is to build a bypass line that would divert all non-local freight traffic and free up the existing rails for more commuter trains.

Its construction would not only make moving freight through Central Texas more efficient and take trucks off Interstate 35, Milloy said it would generate almost $1.3 billion in local sales tax revenues and create 4,000 jobs in the corridor by 2030. It would run from Georgetown in Williamson County to the south of San Antonio, making 15 stops along the way.“I think long-term we need to have better connections up and down the corridor, and with our growth it’s definitely an issue we need to stay on top of,” said Rod Smith, chairman of the transportation committee. “I’m concerned that they don’t seem to have any long-term funding solutions.”

Footing the bill is a different story, and funds still are being gathered to eventually pay for the massive project.Building a freight train bypass would cost less than $2 billion, and the price tag to refurbish and equip the 142-mile, commuter rail service would be about $615 million, according to Milloy. The annual operating costs alone on the commuter rail would start at $21 million, growing to $41 million per year by 2030.Voters authorized a way to pay for the project and others like it in 2005, creating the Rail Relocation and Investment Fund. Since then, the Texas Legislature hasn’t allocated money to go into that fund, which is why Milloy is asking local governments to put pressure on their representatives to support the project.“

Plans are great, but we’ve got to find people who are willing to commit money to it,” said committee member and Comal County Commissioner Jay Millikin. “Primarily we’re looking to the state legislature. They’ve created a program, but they haven’t put any funding toward it.”Funds cannot come from the state alone, so any finished product would have to be a mixture of public and private investment. The corridor council has already raised $50 million to be used in 2009-2012, and has presented financing plans to cities that would use local taxing solutions to meet funding goals. Milloy described the 2009 legislative gathering as a “transportation session,” and with added pressure from governments and others, there just might be a high-traffic commuter rail running through New Braunfels in the future. “I’m optimistic and enthusiastic,” Millikin said. “We’re just going to have to find governmental entities who are capable of and willing to put money into the fund.”

PROPOSAL AT A GLANCE• 6 to 17 daily commuter trains• 15 stops from Georgetown to South San Antonio• Freight train bypass costing almost $2 billion• Commuter rail startup cost of $615 million• On the Web: asarail.org

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pay to Play?

Hmm. Don't give the particular details or have them redacted out but show the costs.

I think the public is entitled to know.

DPS balks at releasing Perry expense details
Clay Robison - Express-News

AUSTIN — The Texas Department of Public Safety is appealing a court decision that granted the San Antonio Express-News and two other newspapers access to travel records filed by members of Gov. Rick Perry's security detail.

Attorney General Greg Abbott's office filed notice of appeal Monday with the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin.
The Express-News, the Houston Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman sued the DPS for refusing to release copies of expense vouchers for troopers' travel with the governor last year and in 2001.

The state contended that releasing the information could endanger the governor, his family and other people traveling with him by providing a “road map” to anyone who might want to harm them.
But state District Judge Scott Jenkins questioned that claim and ruled Aug. 1 that the newspapers should be granted access to the records.

Attorneys for the newspapers argued the expense vouchers were “super-public information” that pose no threats to anyone.
Perry usually pays his own travel expenses from political funds, but his bodyguards have spent thousands of taxpayer dollars guarding the governor on trips throughout the U.S. and to several foreign countries.

The newspapers have obtained information on lump-sum amounts of security spending, but the DPS has refused to release expense details.

A sad situation

It sounds like the deputy had no other recourse however, why was an individual being taken to a hospital for a psychological evaluation riding, unrestrained in the front seat of the patrol car?

If you think he's 1096 treat him like he's 1096. No?

Deputy kills passenger
David Saleh Rauf - Express-News

A Frio County Sheriff's deputy shot and killed a man he was driving to a local hospital Monday after the man allegedly attacked him inside the deputy's patrol vehicle, police said.
Deputy Roger Salinas fired once, striking 19-year-old Andres Gutierrez — riding unrestrained and in the front seat while being driven to a San Antonio hospital for a psychological evaluation — in the left side of his torso.

Gutierrez was shot after he allegedly punched Salinas, who was driving north on Interstate 35 approaching Fischer Road, striking the deputy several times in the face, police said.
It was “to the point the deputy said he was going to go unconscious,” said San Antonio Police Lt. Gabe Trevino, a police spokesman.
So Salinas, who police said feared for his life, shot Gutierrez. Salinas's status as a deputy was not released Monday night.

Salinas' patrol SUV came to a stop on a median on I-35 at Fischer Road, where SAPD investigators processed the scene into the evening. The city police department is investigating the shooting because it occurred within the city limits.
Salinas was taken to University Hospital where he was treated for his injuries, which included a black eye and a bloody mouth, Trevino said.
“The deputy is pretty beat up in his facial area,” Trevino said.

Gutierrez was in custody under an emergency detention, which allows a peace officer to take a person into custody and transport him or her to a mental health facility for an evaluation. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the 3:15 p.m. shooting.

It was not immediately known why Gutierrez, who was convicted and sentenced to probation last year for a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge, was riding unrestrained or in the front seat of the deputy's SUV.

But Trevino said that decision, based on an initial investigation of the shooting, appears to be consistent with the policy of the Frio County Sheriff's Office.
“That's a policy decision on the part of that department,” he said.
The Frio County Sheriff's Office did not return phone calls Monday.

In San Antonio, SAPD spokesman Joe Rios said officers typically place anyone being taken for a psychological evaluation in the back seat of a patrol vehicle, behind a cage. If not, the person is placed in the front seat, where they are handcuffed and secured with a seatbelt.
But he stressed: “If there's a cage they're going in the back seat.”

At his parents home in Pearsall, Gutierrez' family mourned his death.
Reached by telephone Monday, his sister said Gutierrez had been involved in a traffic accident a few years ago that left him mentally disabled. And while the circumstances that led to Gutierrez' detention Monday remain unclear, she said he had asked to be taken to a San Antonio hospital that day for treatment.
“From there I don't what happened,” said Crystal Gutierrez, adding that her mother and father were “taking it really hard right now.”

Boy he's got a lot of nerve

Talk about chutzpah!

Chutzpah is defined simply as a man who has murdered his parents and throws himself on the mercy of the court because he's an orphan.

He's been indicted on 5 counts of criminal activities including official oppression. Yes, he is innocent until proven guilty, but his contract has a clause reading:

“BexarMet may terminate Olivares for cause resulting only from conduct which is seriously prejudicial to BexarMet.”

Sounds like his conduct seriously prejudiced BexarMet when there are even more calls to close the services of BexarMet and roll it into SAWS.

BexarMet chief seeks buyout
Jerry Needham - Express-News

Just days after proclaiming he was innocent of five allegations brought in state criminal indictments, Bexar Metropolitan Water District General Manager Gil Olivares has asked the utility's board to buy out his contract.
“A buyout is a potential consideration,” said Jim Clement, vice president of the water utility's seven-member board, Monday. “There's always that possibility.”

Board President Victor Villarreal said Olivares called him to suggest the possibility.
“He wanted to know if I would consider letting him address the board for a buyout and kind of negotiate with the board on those terms, rather than going through a messy deal in regards to a termination or whatever,” Villarreal said. “I don't know what terms he's looking at, but I told him I would accept his request and have it on the agenda and have it as an option.”
The board suspended Olivares, leader of the agency since April 2005, for 15 days in an emergency meeting Saturday, a day after Olivares was slapped with five indictments for allegedly wiretapping and sexually harassing employees.

The board is scheduled at a 3:30 p.m. Thursday special meeting to consider hiring an attorney to deal with the contract issue. It's also scheduled to either lay out allegations it believes are grounds for terminating his contract, giving him 10 days notice to prepare for a termination hearing, or to pursue a contract buyout.
“I'm willing to listen to anything and everything that's put out there,” said Clement. “There are some folks that are wanting termination, some folks wanting to give him a buyout.”

Board member Lesley Wenger is opposed to a buyout.
“We're talking about a considerable amount of money — for what?” she said.
Olivares' contract, amended and extended for two years last year, has a clause that reads: “BexarMet may terminate Olivares for cause resulting only from conduct which is seriously prejudicial to BexarMet.”
“That should cover it,” Wenger said. “Beyond that, whether he's found guilty or not in a court of law, that's not our concern.”
Board member Jose Gallegos also said he's not inclined to support a buyout.
“At this point, I don't think I'm going to pay him for any buyout at all,” he said. “I think Mr. Olivares has muddied the waters at BexarMet and it's a disservice to the ratepayers and the employees. I'd like to invite Mr. Olivares to do the right thing, to do the honorable thing and to spare the district from any further embarrassment by resigning.”

Olivares' contract calls for him to be paid at the rate of $195,000 a year until Oct. 29, 2008, and to get $200,000 for the final year of his contract from Oct. 30, 2008, to Oct. 29, 2009..
That amounts to about $237,500 plus a maximum of 240 hours of unused vacation time that could bring the amount to well over $250,000, not counting any pension or Social Security payments the board also might have to match.

Olivares wants the amount owed on the remainder of his contract, but Clement said, “There would have to be some kind of negotiation if that's something the board wanted to do as to how much the buyout would be.”

Olivares told the board Saturday that he was innocent of allegations in the state criminal indictments and that he wanted an opportunity to refute the charges before the board.
The indictments allege that he ordered the office phones of several top managers monitored and taped and that he used his authority to try to coerce two female employees into sexual relationships, retaliating against one when she refused and against the other when she ended the relationship.

Villarreal said he doesn't know which way the board might go, but that a buyout could be quicker, less messy and possibly cheaper than a protracted termination procedure potentially followed by a lawsuit.
A newly elected, reform-minded board fired the agency's previous general manager, Tom Moreno, without offering any severance after an audit found a long list of problems.
Moreno, who still had almost five years on his contract, sued the district three years ago, but the case hasn't been resolved.