Thursday, April 30, 2009

Old drug dealers

How do you know when times are really tough?

When you read about cases like this.

Elderly Pa. Sisters Arrested On Drug Charges

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (CBS 3)- Two elderly sisters from Monroe County, Pennsylvania have been arrested for allegedly distributing drugs.

Elizabeth Marie Grube, 70, and her 65-year-old sister, Elaine Volkert, are facing drug charges after being arrested on April 14.

Investigators said they seized 400 bags of heroin with a street value of $8,000 and more than $2,000 from the home of Grube in the 1000 block of Ehler Street.

On the same day, a task force seized 988 bags of heroin with a street value of $20,000 and approximately $1,600 in cash from Volkert's home also in the 1000 block of Ehler Street. Police also seized quantities of Oxycontin and marijuana during the search.

According to investigators, both Grube and Volkert had been selling between 500 and 1,500 bags of heroin every two weeks for the past two months. Prior to selling heroin, the sisters had been selling crack cocaine, police said.

Two days after the sisters were arrested, their supplier, Juilo Cesar Checo, was taken into police custody.

Grube and Volkert have been charged with Possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance (heroin) and criminal conspiracy. Bail was set at $20,000.

Checo was charged with Possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance (heroin), criminal conspiracy and criminal use of a communication facility (cell phone). He is being held on $75,000 bail.

Driving off into the sunset

I guess I'm not smart enough to figure out why the lenders would break off the talks.

I can understand their frustrations but how does putting Chrysler into an all but certain bankruptcy going to help them?

Chrysler to file bankruptcy

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Chrysler will file for bankruptcy after talks with a small group of creditors crumbled just a day before a government deadline for the automaker to come up with a restructuring plan, two administration officials said Thursday.

The Obama administration had long hoped to stave off bankruptcy for Chrysler LLC, but it became clear that a holdout group wouldn't budge on proposals to reduce Chrysler's $6.9 billion in secured debt, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the filing plans are not public. Clearing those debts was a needed step for Chrysler restructure by the Thursday night deadline.

Bankruptcy doesn't mean the nation's third largest automaker will shut down. And the privately-held Chrysler is expected to sign a partnership agreement with the Italian company Fiat as early as Thursday as part of its restructuring plan. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing would allow a judge to decide how much the company's creditors would get.

President Barack Obama is expected to discuss the nation's auto sector at noon Eastern.

The Treasury Department's auto task force has been racing in the past week to clear the major hurdles that prevented Chrysler from coming up with a viable plan to survive the economic crisis ravaging nation's automakers.

Along with the Fiat deal, the United Auto Workers ratified a cost-cutting pact Wednesday night. Treasury reached a deal earlier this week with four banks that hold the majority of Chrsyler's debt in return for $2 billion in cash.

But the administration said about 40 hedge funds that hold roughly 30 percent of that debt also needed to sign on for the deal to go through. Those creditors said the proposal was unfair and were holding out for a better deal.

"While the administration was willing to give the holdout creditors a final opportunity to do the right thing, the agreement of all other key stakeholders ensured that no hedge fund could have a veto over Chrysler's future success," said one of the administration officials.

A third person briefed on Wednesday night's events said the Treasury Department and the four banks tried to persuade the hedge funds to take a sweetened deal of $2.25 billion in cash. But in the end, this person said most thought they could recover more if Chrysler went into bankruptcy and some of its assets were sold to satisfy creditors. This person asked not to be identified because details of the negotiations have not been made public.

When it files for bankruptcy, Chrysler would continue operating and Fiat would still sign on as a partner on Thursday, the people said. The government already has promised to back Chrysler's warranties in an effort to allay customers' fears that the automaker wouldn't be around to honor them.

President Barack Obama's auto task force in March rejected Chrysler's restructuring plan and gave it 30 days to make another effort, including a tie-up with Fiat. The company has borrowed $4 billion from the federal government and needs billions more to keep operating. President Obama said Wednesday night while the lender talks were still ongoing that he was "very hopeful" that deals can be worked out to keep Chrysler LLC a viable automaker, and more hopeful than he was a month ago that the company will stay in business.

The UAW agreement, which would take effect May 4, meets Treasury requirements for continued loans to Chrysler Corp., and includes commitments from Fiat to manufacture a new small car in one of Chrysler's U.S. facilities and to share key technology with Chrysler.

Meanwhile, the Fiat partnership means Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli could be out of a job. In an April e-mail to employees, he said that if the deal is completed, Chrysler would be run by a new board appointed by the government and Fiat. The new board, Nardelli wrote, would pick a CEO "with Fiat's concurrence."

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of the Italian automaker, told reporters earlier this month that he could run Chrysler. Obama said Wednesday that Fiat's management "has actually done a good job transforming their industry."

Live blogging from Austin Texas

Okay then, here I am in Austin waiting for Day 2 of the Conference on Criminal Appelas to start. It was a mad dash from San Antonio this morning as I had to stop and get my work laptop as I put a new and larger hard drive in my new Dell Mini 9 laptop but the restore disc was badly scratched and therefore unusable. Don't ask.

Needless to say I am so looking forward to sitting in a large room filled with 300+ folks, some of whom are sneezing and coughing .

**swine flu??**


Hoping to stay well;

Man o' Law
P.S. All is not bad they have free Starbucks coffee this morning!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


How stupid can the Feds be?

Wait, don't answer that.

Also what a way to make people get even more concerned the President isn't going to make this country as safe regarding terrorist (oops, I mean man-caused calamities) attacks.

Oh, and it only cost $328,835.

FAA Memo: Feds Knew NYC Flyover Would Cause Panic
by Marcia Kramer -

A furious President Barack Obama ordered an internal review of Monday's low-flying photo op over the Statue of Liberty.

CBS 2 HD has discovered the feds will have plenty to question.

Federal officials knew that sending two fighter jets and Air Force One to buzz ground zero and Lady Liberty might set off nightmarish fears of a 9/11 replay, but they still ordered the photo-op kept secret from the public.

In a memo obtained by CBS 2 HD the Federal Aviation Administration's James Johnston said the agency was aware of "the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes" in an around New York City. But they demanded total secrecy from the NYPD, the Secret Service, the FBI and even the mayor's office and threatened federal sanctions if the secret got out.

"To say that it should not be made public knowing that it might scare people it's just confounding," Sen. Charles Schumer said. "It's what gives Washington and government a bad name. It's sheer stupidity."

The flyover -- apparently ordered by the White House Office of Military Affairs so it would have souvenir photos of Air Force One with the Statue of Liberty in the background -- had President Obama seeing red. He ordered a probe and apologized.

"It was a mistake. It will never happen again," President Obama said.

The NYPD was so upset about the demand for secrecy that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly vowed never to follow such a directive again and he accused the feds of inciting fears of a 9/11 replay.

"Did it show an insensitivity to the psychic wounds New York City has after 9/11? Absolutely. No questions about it. It was quite insensitive," Kelly said.

The cost of the frivolous flight was about $60,000 an hour and that was just for Air Force One. That doesn't include the cost of the two F-16s that came along.

The mayoral aide who neglected to tell Mayor Michael Bloomberg about it was reprimanded. piggy piggy piggy

This is getting too close to home.

SWINE FLU: All schools closed until May 11


All public and private schools are closed, residents are being asked to avoid public gatherings and local officials are urging caution after three highly probable cases of swine flu have been reported in Comal County.

Although confirmation is pending from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three students at area schools have likely caught the potentially fatal virus, Comal County Health Authority Dr. Dorothy Overman said Tuesday. In addition, more than 30 other influenza samples collected locally are currently undergoing testing to determine if they, too, are evidence of the virus’ spread into the county.

As a result of the local outbreak, county health and school officials ordered a shutdown of every campus in both New Braunfels and Comal independent school districts until May 11, and area private schools have agreed to do the same. New Braunfels and Comal County leaders also have recommended closing all area day cares and advised residents to steer clear of public gatherings, including going to church, to reduce potential exposure.

“All of this is being done out of an abundance of caution,” said New Braunfels Mayor Bruce Boyer, after an emergency meeting of local school, government and health officials Tuesday night at the New Braunfels Civic Convention Center. “Right now this has not gotten to an epidemic stage, and we want to make sure that it doesn’t. We want to be proactive and make sure we do everything we can for the health and safety of our residents.”

The three probable swine flu cases were collected from students at New Braunfels High School, Freiheit Elementary and Memorial High School, an alternative school in Comal Independent School District.

The more than 30 other cases of confirmed Type A influenza were collected from numerous other campuses and health clinics throughout the county, Overman said. They will now be tested in a regional lab, and if a type is not determined, will be sent to the CDC with the other three for possible confirmation of swine flu.

Overman said the 10 school-day closure — 12 days total — is designed to span two full incubation periods to prevent any new cases among local students.

It also will give time to treat those carrying a disease suspected of killing at least 152 people in Mexico as of Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. County authorities would not divulge the medical conditions of the three students Tuesday night, other than to say they were alive.

“There have been no deaths in Comal County and that’s what we’re trying to prevent,” Overman said.

There have been no swine flu-related deaths reported in the United States thus far, and the disease has generally proven to be treatable with early diagnosis.

Overman said stockpiles of additional medicine to treat the disease — like Tamiflu — will be available through the Texas Department of State Health Services should the need arise.

“We want to do everything we can to make sure everyone is as safe as possible,” said Comal County Judge Danny Scheel.

Symptoms of the disease mirror those of a typical flu with a fever and muscle aches, often combined with coughing or a runny nose.

The TDSHS is asking that anyone experiencing flu symptoms stay home, and residents who think they might be sick are being asked to call their physician before heading into the doctor’s office.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

'Shrooms Dude!

Get back to me if it works.

Calling hallucinogenic mushrooms a ‘gift from God' certainly a novel defense
John Boyle -

Ingram, 32, strongly believes that God gave us marijuana and mushrooms and that these “gifts” should be celebrated, not used as a cause to arrest folks. As he was arrested for possession of mushrooms in December, he hopes to plead this defense to a jury.

“The point I'm trying to make is that God's law is higher than man's law,” Ingram told me. He was out protesting downtown last week, carrying a sign that said “Mushrooms & marijuana come from God.”

A little background: Ingram had planned to attend the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam on Dec. 13 and was sitting in his car near downtown, sipping on a cold beer out of a coffee mug and sampling a hallucinogenic mushroom or two.

“I had the bag open, and I put one in between my lip and my teeth — I put it in sort of as a dip, because you really don't need that much,” Ingram said. “I looked over, and I had blue lights on me.”

He wasn't hallucinating quite yet. Asheville's finest were on the scene and proceeded to search his vehicle and discovered what they said was 10 grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Ingram disputes that amount, noting that he bought a quarter-ounce, or seven grams, and had taken some, leaving at most 6 grams. At any rate, he found himself charged with felony possession of illegal drugs.

It's a Class-I felony, and Ingram has a relatively clean record, so he's likely facing a maximum sentence of probation and mandatory drug testing. But Ingram, a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in management information systems, doesn't want his record besmirched.

“Not only that, but I can't run for public office, I can't vote, I can't go to law school — this felony would basically follow me for the rest of the life,” he said.

So, with his public defender, he recently went to seek leniency or possibly dismissal of the charges from District Attorney Ron Moore. The meeting did not go well, possibly because Ingram admittedly got quite stoned before the visit.

“This guy was mean,” Ingram said of Moore, acknowledging that “my eyes were red from smoking marijuana. He was trying to get me to rat out who the mushrooms were from. He said, ‘Where did the mushrooms come from?' I said, ‘From God.'”

He replied similarly when asked where the pot came from and says Moore quickly lost patience with him, saying Ingram should not drive home. “He lumped me into a bunch of people he considers no-gooders,” Ingram said.

Ron Moore was out last week and I couldn't get a comment from him. Assistant District Attorney Chris Hess said the office does not comment on pending cases.

I've talked to Moore — a law and order kind of guy who can be a real hard case — many times — and I suspect he was not amused with Ingram's legal approach.

Ingram says he has a court date Monday, but the DA's office said he's on the docket for May 4. Today's hearing may be about the legality of the search and a motion for suppression Ingram's public defender has filed.

Ingram said his public defender (who didn't return my calls) is going to argue the search that turned up the mushrooms was illegal because the hallucinogens weren't visible, and he was simply drinking in public.

In a way, though, Ingram wants the chance to argue his “God gave us mushrooms” defense to a jury. Ingram believes so deeply in his use of marijuana and mushrooms that he considers it close to being his religion.

“I don't do any kind of synthetic drugs — I don't even like pills,” he said. “God gave us marijuana and mushrooms to use. If you have a good, sound mind and body, they can be a very spiritual and uplifting experience.”

And he's convinced that 12 of his Buncombe County peers will be sympathetic to his cause.

“I feel if it goes to the jury I'll have a good chance, because I'll have 12 of my peers judging me,” said Ingram, obviously a “glass half full” guy when it comes to optimism. “Unfortunately, they'll kind of have to go against the law to find me innocent. But I want to say there's a higher law.”

Sure, Ingram may be happily delusional, but you've got to admit he might just be the most optimistic 'shroomer in America.

Party on!

Boy I bet the parents were really proud.

Officers Crash Facebook Party

Bryan Latham, LeAnne Morman-

Fifteen people were arrested Sunday morning after authorities invited themselves to what was advertised on the Internet as a "History Making House Party" in Sarpy County.

The posting on Facebook said the party was to start at 9 p.m. Saturday and run until 5 a.m. Sunday. The invitation advertised a disc jockey, professional photographer, shuttle service from the Shadow Lake Towne Center, six kegs of beer and bottles of liquor.

The host even posted this postscript: "P.S., don't worry about the cops because I have a police scanner so I will have the heads up if they come."

“Everybody is watching it, this did not come from us searching for a party," said Sarpy County Sheriff's Lt. Russ Zeeb.

"It came from someone in the public bringing it to our attention. In following up with it, we started observing a lot of minors on the Facebook that had replied back. I think there was 46 minors that had replied back that they were to going to be there."

Sarpy County deputies, along with Papillion, La Vista and Bellevue police officers were made aware of the event and sent an undercover officer and two minors into the house near 58th Street and Cedardale Road outside of Bellevue.

The officer confirmed some of the people drinking inside the home were underage and police served a search warrant. Anywhere from 300 to 600 were expected to attend, but 30 minutes after it started, the Sarpy County Sheriff's Department arrived and shut the party down.

The raid led to the arrest of nine minors in possession of alcohol and six people on charges of procuring alcohol to minors, including the hosts of the party, 22-year-old Christopher Phalen and 19-year-old Cassandra Phalen.

When deputies arrived they found a large tent outside. Inside the hosts had done their best to hide any evidence of a party from mom and dad as furniture was moved into another room, paintings were pulled off the wall and the carpets covered. Five kegs of beer were confiscated.

"That goes back to the point that parents need to be taking care of when they're gone, just not thinking that the kids are going to be home alone and that everything's going to fine," said Lt. Zeeb.

He said this was another example of the prolific nature of social networking sites like Facebook. "It's like anything else, it can be used for legitimate purposes or illegal activities."

At the time of these arrests, officers were called to investigate a reported fight/disturbance near 140th and Harrison streets where they found another large party where minors were drinking.

Numerous arrests were made at that party as well as one arrest for procuring alcohol for a minor. In both cases, the parents were out of town.

The sheriff's departmment says even if parents/adults are not there, they could still be held responsible in civil court if there's an incident.

There be zombies

I take umbrage at the thought there are no 'zombies' at the courthouse.

Obviously he hasn't been paying attention.

No 'zombies' at courthouse
By Craig Kapitan -Express-News
(SA Hearsay blog)

As we follow reports of the swine flu spreading like the beginning of a zombie movie, it seems like only a matter of time for the next logical step in the progression - the infamous virus becoming a popular excuse for getting out of jury duty.

But there were no signs of such scheming as potential jurors showed up at the Bexar County Courthouse Monday for the first time since the outbreak became the cause celebre for hypochondriacs and news anchors alike. Not one facemask in sight.

Just more than 450 people showed up for jury duty - about normal for a Monday morning. One person called in, stating that she is a teacher in Cibolo and had been instructed not to come to San Antonio. She was allowed to reschedule, said Susie Urdialez of the courthouse's Central Jury Room.

"Everybody seemed OK," she said.

Nevertheless, the county is taking precautions. Officials issued a notice Sunday emphasizing that Bexar County employees living in Guadalupe County and feeling flu symptoms should call in sick.

Following the zombie movie line of thinking, would it be legally possible to, say, rope off Cibolo and let them fend for themselves should the disease progress to Defcon 5 proportions? The answer, apparently, is yes. U.S. health officials drafted laws for mandatory quarantines in the wake of the bird flu panic several years ago. Here's an excerpt of a fill-in-the-blank quarantine declaration form drafted by the Texas Department of State Health Services for use by local authorities in case of an emergency:

"All ingress to and egress from the area is forbidden, except for authorized health and law enforcement personnel. Persons in the quarantined area will not be allowed to leave it without proper authorization from health or law enforcement authorities. Individuals outside the quarantine area will not be allowed to enter it without proper authorization from health or law enforcement authorities."

According to the form, disobeying a mandatory quarantine could be a misdemeanor or a third-degree felony depending on how the quarantine order is drafted.

Of course, this is all hypothetical, worst-case-scenario talk. Hearsay will let you know the moment Bexar County judges start issuing rulings from behind facemasks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Frankly" speaking

I would think it would be a hard sell.

'Felony Franks' Hot Dog Stand Hires Convicts, Angers Chicago Alderman

CHICAGO — A Chicago alderman says he doesn't mind that a businessman plans to open a hot dog stand in his ward and hire former convicts to work there, but he does object to the stand's crime-linked theme.

Alderman Fioretti said Friday his Second Ward on the city's West Side has major crime problems, so he thinks the stand's name, Felony Franks, is simply not in good taste.

Fioretti also objected to several slogans, including: "Food so good, it's criminal," and "Home of the misdemeanor wiener."

Stand owner Jim Andrews, though, says he thinks the tongue-in-cheek name and a menu that features such items as "burglar beef" and "chain gang chili dog" will help to erase some of the stigma that being a former convict carries.

Attempted murderer going away

I am glad juries are taking these matters seriously.

There have been enough killings and attempted killings.

Stop the insanity.

Man guilty of murder attempt
By Jessica Langdon -

Like many communities, Wichita County has seen the devastating effects spousal abuse can have, and the people who are close to the cases see the impact not only on the intended victim, but entire families.

A case that led Thursday to a prison sentence for a 46-year-old man shows the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office believes this is a serious issue, and will take on this type of case, the prosecutor said.

A jury in 30th District Court found James Blevins guilty Wednesday of attempted murder and violation of a protective order stemming from an incident June 13. Jurors found him not guilty on a count of retaliation in the case. The same jury, made up of six men and six women, deliberated for several hours Thursday returning a few minutes after 6:30 p.m. with a decision on his punishment, which could have ranged from probation to 20 years in prison. The jurors recommended 11 years in prison on the attempted murder charge, along with a $5,000 fine, and a five-year term for the violation of a protective order conviction.

In this incident, the defendant and his wife were separated. She had a protective order filed against him, and he had already pleaded guilty to a violation of it months before things escalated in June 2008 when the man went to the woman’s home and found his wife packing for a move with help from a male friend. He later left the house and went to get a loaded shotgun and other weapons, coming back after telling his mother by phone he planned to kill the adults as well as the Blevins’ two children who were there, according to the information presented during the trial.

The jury did not find this case involved sudden passion, which would have reduced the possible punishment range to two to 10 years instead of two to 20.

The defense highlighted the fact that a weapon had not been pulled or used on anyone and also pointed out his eligibility for probation because of the absence of prior felony convictions.

Prosecutor John Gillespie pointed out during his portion of the punishment phase that Blevins received deferred adjudication in Montague County in a felony assault family violence case; when deferred adjudication is completed without further incident, the offense does not show up as a conviction on a defendant’s record.

Gillespie also pointed out he had been on probation in Wichita County several times for misdemeanor convictions, including prior assaults on the victim in this case and violation of a protective order.

Blevins’ wife was moving with the help of a friend June 13, Gillespie said. The Blevins’ two young sons were also at the home.

“The defendant showed up,” Gillespie said, “which was a violation of the protective order.” She told him to leave, and when he saw the friend who was helping her, he tried to fight, Gillespie said. The friend held Blevins to the wall, trying to calm him down.

Blevins’ wife called 911.

Meanwhile, the defendant went to his home, which was about five minutes away, and got a shotgun, a Derringer and a filet knife, Gillespie said. The defendant’s roommate tried to persuade him not to go back to the scene after he said he wouldn’t be coming home again, he said.

On his trip back, the defendant also called his mother, telling her he was going to kill his wife and “that guy helping her,” Gillespie said. When she asked about “the grandbabies,” he said he would kill them all, Gillespie said.

His mother, who testified, pleaded with him not to go, and he hung up, Gillespie said. Blevins’ mother called his wife, who told the Wichita Falls police officer who had arrived to take the violation of a protective order report that her mother-in-law had just called.

“He’s on his way up here to kill me,” she told the officer, and moments later pointed him out to the officer as he drove up.

The officer, who testified during the trial, threw down his notebook and grabbed his weapon as the man tried to get the barrel of the shotgun out the vehicle window, Gillespie said, recalling the officer’s testimony that this situation brought him the closest he had been in 28 years to having to shoot someone.

After a brief standoff between the officer and the man, the defendant put down the gun, Gillespie said, adding that the children had been in the yard at the time.

When the man let the weapon go and the officer placed handcuffs on him, the man turned back to his wife and said, “I don’t care how long I’m in jail. I’m going to get another gun and kill you,” Gillespie said. He included that wording in points he stressed this week to the jury.

Gillespie said he believes this defendant to be “violent and dangerous,” and was glad to see a lengthy prison sentence, adding that he feels the woman and the children will be in danger when he gets out of prison.

As the court proceedings wrapped up Thursday evening, 30th District Judge Bob Brotherton discussed Blevins’ representation for the appeal process, should that action take place, and he formally sentenced Blevins.

Blevins’ terms will run concurrently, and because a deadly weapon was involved in the situation, he must serve half the time before he would become eligible for parole. He has 315 days credited to his time for days he has been in custody.

Do not panic.....yet

Call this hitting close to home.

I hope you all will stay healthy and safe.

Mrs. Man o' Law (a nurse) is freaking out over this. If Man o' Law and the little man o' Laws keep washing our hands, this much, we won't have any skin left on them.

Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD closes all schools
By Elizabeth Allen - Express-News

As the number of suspected or confirmed local cases of swine flu climbed to 12, the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District said Sunday it will close all its schools for at least one week.

The district also canceled today’s planned public meeting at Steele High School in Cibolo, where the two Texas cases of swine flu were confirmed last week.

Another 10 suspected cases are being tested — all from the school district or household contacts of the infected students, and ranging from a 6-year-old to people in their 40s, Dr. Sandra Guerra, regional medical director for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said Sunday.

And there may be more out there.

Linda Moses of Cibolo said she's been sick with vomiting, diahrrea and a cough, and both of her sons have shown flu symptoms as well. One attends Clemens High School.

“I allowed him to go over and spend time with his grandparents, which I'm a little worried about now, because that's the last thing they need,” Moses said.

She hasn't been to a doctor yet, but said with the news of the district-wide closure, she's planning to see one as soon as possible.

“It was scary anyway, but it's really kind of hitting kind of close to home now,” Moses said.

Schertz has also closed its public library, Guerra said. Cibolo has closed its parks and is asking churches and places where people gather to postpone activities. It is asking private developments to close their parks as well.

Employees of Bexar County who live in Guadalupe County are being asked to be extra vigilant, and if they or any family members have flu symptoms, to stay home, said Bexar County spokeswoman Laura Jesse.

“Since the school district has made the decision to shut down for the next week, we advise our employees to use their better judgment, definitely, if they are feeling ill, not to come to work,” Jesse said.

That goes for the general population, too, said Emily Palmer, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“Our recommendations are that people who are sick stay home,” Palmer said. “I don't want to minimize this. We are concerned and we are actively doing surveillance.”

The state also wants doctors to change their normal approach to possible influenza patients, Guerra said.

Instead of running their own tests or using private labs, doctors should contact the state or Metropolitan Health District officials and use those labs to test throat cultures, she said.

She fully expects Bexar County swine flu cases.

“I think we're prepared for that,” she said. “We understand people are people, and we tend to be mobile.”

Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, noted in a press briefing Sunday that only one of the 20 confirmed U.S. cases had been hospitalized.

In Mexico, hundreds have been sickened with the same strain of swine flu that is affecting people in the U.S., and numerous people have died, with 12 of the deaths confirmed as the same strain. Canada has confirmed several cases, while New Zealand and Spain are investigating possible infections.

Why that strain at this point appears to be more lethal in Mexico is still a mystery, Schuchat said.

It's also too soon to say why it appears to be affecting young, healthy people as opposed to the very old and very young, who are generally the most vulnerable, she said.

But those numbers may change as more cases are diagnosed, which health officials expect.

Rebecca Villarreal, spokeswoman for the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City district, said the situation is changing every day.

The school district has set up an information hotline at 210-619-4700 for parents and school employees to call for updates, Villarreal said.

“We recorded the message for the week, and if there's a change we'll update it,” she said, adding that the district is working on adding a Spanish version of the message. “We know we're going to have questions, especially come Friday, (when) the big question will be, ‘Is there going to be school on Monday?'”

The tone of that question may depend on whether it's being asked by parents or students.

“The kids are doing a happy dance,” said Ken Singel, who has a middle-school and high-school student in the district. “My wife's telling me that she's not going to let 'em out, but ... the little one is already agitating for Schlitterbahn.”

Singel's wife is a nursing professor, he said, so they're taking precautions, but are not overly concerned.

Right to search

I don't think this will be as problematic as I first thought as I skimmed through the case.

There will still be valid reasons including an "inventory" search, I believe.

Ruling on vehicle searches scrutinized
By Michelle Mondo - Express-News

It's too early for local law enforcement agencies to know the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in an Arizona case that limits warrantless searches of vehicles, officials said.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a search that turned up drugs in a vehicle belonging to a man arrested on a traffic violation charge. He was handcuffed and did not pose a threat to the officers, and because of that the high court ruled the search was a violation of his rights.

A generally accepted procedure is for officers to search a vehicle following an arrest, regardless of the reason for the arrest or the threat posed. In the 5-4 opinion in Arizona v. Gant, the justices ruled that too many average Americans are subject to warrantless vehicle searches.

The San Antonio Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety said they are studying the issue, but neither could say if any changes would be made.

Legal experts point out there are plenty of valid reasons for an officer to search a person's vehicle, whether it's by consent, with probable cause or in a case in which the vehicle is impounded.

Bexar County First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg said it remains to be seen how local courts will interpret the decision, but he does not believe the impact will be as broad as some fear.

Herberg said the high court has routinely ruled that motorists should expect little privacy.

“People are always surprised to find they don't have a lot of privacy in the car,” he said. “If you don't want it to be found, don't put it in your car.”

Also, the court's decision does allow for a search if the person still has access to the vehicle, or if evidence related to the arrest is likely to be inside the vehicle. In a dissenting opinion, justices said the ruling could cause confusion among law officers.

Mike Helle, the San Antonio police union president, said more evaluation of the ruling is needed but he didn't think it would cause too much of a disruption.

“It may mean that it makes the job a little more difficult, but I think in the end the job will still get done,” he said.

Gerald Reamey, a constitutional law professor at St. Mary's University School of Law who consults for police departments, believes the ruling tightens the policy and is actually better for officers.

“This will not cripple law enforcement,” he said.

James McLaughlin, general counsel for the Texas Police Chiefs Association, said the agency has heard concerns from across the state. He too is uncertain how the ruling might affect departments.

“I think we have to wait and see,” he said. “One of the concerns is officer safety, and what the justices thought is once you got them secured they shouldn't be a threat to you.”

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The jury has spoken

Well, the jury spoke, quickly and decisively.

Great job by both Melissa Hines and Tiffany Groff in prosecuting Ms. Bittner.

Melissa is leaving our office to go into private practice and we wish her well.

Bittner convicted, sentenced to 65 years
- The Herald-Zeitung

A Comal County jury Friday sentenced a woman to 65 years in prison for abusing her newborn.

Amanda Bittner, 19, was convicted on four counts of felony injury to a child. A jury of nine women and three men found Bittner guilty of causing extensive injuries to her 6-week-old daughter in January of 2007, including multiple skull fractures, several broken ribs and bleeding in the child’s brain.

She could spend up to 65 years in a Texas state prison and must pay a $10,000 fine.

Bittner originally took the child to the hospital on Jan. 31, 2007, with extensive bruising and signs of head trauma. After an investigation into possible abuse by the New Braunfels Police Department, Bittner was charged and arrested.

Court reconvened Friday afternoon in the 207th District Court of Judge Jack Robison following Bittner’s two-day hospitalization for diabetic complications.

Before the jury came to the guilty verdict, Comal County Assistant District Attorney Melissa Hines told them they were there solely for the baby.

“Let’s not forget what we’re here for,” Hines began. “We’re here for the baby. We are not going to have baby beaters in our community.”

She said Bittner intentionally and knowingly hurt her child.

“We as mothers are to use our arms as love and to care.” she said. “... To do something like this is beyond human.”

When the jury came back with a guilty verdict, defense attorney Ed Jendrzey asked them to give Bittner probation. During testimony, Bittner’s psychologist Brian Skop said she suffered from postpartum depression.

“When she had this baby, she was 17. She’s now 19,” Jendrzey told the jury. “She’s still someone we can save. You don’t need to incarcerate her. She needs intensive cognitive therapy. That’s something she won’t get in prison.”

He asked the jury to give her probation so she could be monitored and helped.

Hines, however, asked for Bittner to be punished with life in prison.

“This is a classic example of a defendant that deserves the worst that the law allows,” Hines said. “Don’t give this woman a free day. Give her everything she deserves, which is life in prison.”

Jennifer McGinley, the baby’s aunt, said she was happy with the sentence.

“At least after everything we’ve lost, we at last know that justice has been served,” McGinley said.

She said the baby is currently in foster care.

Comal County Criminal District Attorney Geoff Barr said the punishment was fitting.

“The jury was quick, decisive and harsh with their verdict,” Barr said. “It shows that in our community, no age or disability excuses the abuse of our babies.”

Bittner was remanded to the Comal County Jail to await transfer to an undetermined Texas state prison.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Verdict in on Guilt/Innocence

The jury has just come back in the Amanda Bitner trial and found her guilty on all four counts of injury to a child with findings of a deadly weapon in each count.

These are first-degree felony offenses and carry a range of punishment from 5 to 99 years or life for each count.

The deadly weapon findings means she would have to serve 1/2 of the sentence before she would be considered eligible for parole.

The jury could grant probation if she were sentenced to 10 years or less. However i predict the sentences assessed will be much longer.

Don't let them get the Genie!

Boy, you think Iran is bad just let the Taliban get Pakistan, its nukes and delivery systems and then you really will have something to worry about.

You nervous yet, India?

You have one last chance to retreat - or face the consequences, Pakistan leader tells Taliban militants
By Liz Hazelton - Daily Mail Online

Taliban militants have been given one last chance to pull out of parts of Pakistan or face the consequences, a government leader said today.

'Those who took up arms must lay them down. Those who went to Buner, they must get out from Buner,' Iftikhar Hussain, a leader of the ruling Awami National Party said.

'This is the only way, and we are asking them for the last time.'

The warning follows huge international pressure with America claiming the state had effectively handed over power to militants when it ceded control of the Swat valley in February.

This week Taliban fighters moved out of their government-backed stronghold and moved into neighbouring Buner, sparking violent clashes with police.

Extremists are now just 60 miles from the capital Islamabad, sparking fears that they are are poised to wrest control of the country, which has nuclear capability.

This morning a Taliban spokesman said that fighters would withdraw from Buner later today.

'Our leader has ordered that Taliban should immediatley be called back from Buner,' spokesman Muslim Khan said.

Khan belongs to faction led by Taliban commander Fazlullah, whose stronghold is in the neighbouring Swat valley where the government has caved in to demands for the imposition of Islamic law.

The announcement came hours after the capital Islamabad came under threat from Taliban fighters.

It is feared that the state is one the brink of collapse as Taliban fighters get closer to the nuclear powers of the country.

As violence broke out in the north-west corner of the country, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Pakistan posed a 'mortal threat' to the world.

'I think the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists, she added.

And White House spokesman Robert Gibbs echoed her concerns. He said last night: 'The news over the past several days is very disturbing.'

The comments came as Pakistani paramilitary troops were deployed on Thursday to the Buner district, which has been virtually taken over by the Taliban and is close to the capital.

Unidentified gunmen their attacked convoy, killing a policeman escorting them.

The security of Pakistan is viewed as vital to American efforts to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan. Militants are already attempting to cut off supply chains to troops stationed there.

Dozens of militants armed with guns and gasoline bombs blew up five tankers carrying fuel to NATO troops in Afghanistan.

There are fears that the Taliban, who have already been handed control of the Swat valley, could now take Islamabad and topple the government.

'If the Taliban continue their advances at the current pace they will soon be knocking at the doors of Islamabad,' Fazl-ur-Rehman, head of the Jamiat-e-ulema-e-Islam, the country's largest Islamic party, told parliament.

Residents in the embattled Buner district claim militants have occupied police stations and that gun-toting fighters were roaming marketplaces urging people to support Sharia law.

Taliban fighters have also set up checkpoints and are patrolling roads.

Many police and government officials appear to have either fled or are keeping a low profile.

'A platoon of the Frontier Corps has arrived in Buner to help police maintain security in the district,' Arsala Khan, a deputy police superintendent said.

Many in Buner are now too frightened to speak to reporters.

However, one judge said that the militants had entered the district in 'large numbers' and started setting up checkpoints at main roads and strategic positions.

'They are patrolling in Buner, and local elders and clerics are negotiating with them to resolve this issue through talks,' Istiqbal Khan said.

The militants in Buner also are using radio airwaves to broadcast sermons about Islam, and have occupied the homes of some prominent landowners, said a police official who insisted on anonymity because he was afraid of retaliation.

He said the militants have also warned barbers to stop shaving men's beards and stores to stop selling music and movies.

The militants have established a major base in the village of Sultanwas and have set up positions in the nearby hills, the police official said.

Taliban have also taken over the shrine of a famed Sufi saint known as Pir Baba, he said.

An attack on the NATO truck depo in Peshawar, near the Afghan border, only confirmed the deteriorating security situation.

The route is part of a critical supply line up through the famed Khyber Pass into Afghanistan.
Islamabad has made a desperate effort to downplay the Taliban advance.

Major General Athar Abbas, the Pakistan Army's chief spokesman, insisted the situation in Buner was not as dire as some have portrayed, claiming militants were in control of less than 25 per cent of the district

'We are fully aware of the situation,' Abbas said. 'The other side has been informed to move these people out of this area.'

Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari officially handed Swat and other districts in the Malakand Division to the Taliban last week after two years of clashes between militants and security forces.

The government had hoped that the peace deal would calm the region where hundreds have been killed and up to a third of the one-time tourist haven's 1.5million residents had been displaced.

However, the Taliban leadership now seem intent on pushing the boundaries of their regime.

In a video call from Afghanistan, Major General Michael S. Tucker said that the situation in Swat was a concern.

'We're keeping an eye on it, and are working daily with the Pakistan military,' he said.

Rasul Bakhsh Rais, professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences, said the Taliban may have concluded from the Swat deal that authorities will cave in to violent demands for Islamic law elsewhere.

'They have natural allies in the religious political parties in other parts of the country,' he said.

'They have social and religious networks that have support their suicide attacks and attacks against the security forces.

'It is about the identity of Pakistan and the future direction that Pakistan can take.'

In a recent interview, Swat Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and other militants aiming to oust the U.S. from Afghanistan would be welcome and protected in Swat — a statement the government condemned.

He said the militants want to see all of Pakistan under Islamic law.

Pakistani officials complain that India and other regional rivals are fomenting trouble in its border regions.

On Wednesday, Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik accused Afghanistan of offering sanctuary to a separatist leader from Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province.

Malik claimed that Bramdagh Bugti was living in Kabul and that phone taps implicated him in the kidnapping in Baluchistan of an American U.N. worker freed earlier this month.

Speaking in Parliament, Malik also alleged that Baluch rebels were being trained at camps in Afghanistan and implied that they were supported by India and Russia.

American officials acknowledge that such tension and mistrust is hampering efforts to combat the Taliban.

Tears in heaven

Very sad, just tragic.

My heart goes out to the family.

Please everyone, be careful!

Boy drowns in pool as mother works
By Jeorge Zarazua - Express-News

The 3-year-old son of a housekeeper drowned Thursday after his mother left him watching television while she worked at a house in far Southeast Bexar County, authorities said.

A Bexar County Sheriff's spokesman said deputies were called to the 8100 block of Hildebrandt Road at 10 a.m. Thursday after the boy's mother and her employer pulled the child out of a swimming pool. Deputy Ino Badillo said the women administered CPR until paramedics arrived and had the child airlifted to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:02 a.m.

Badillo said the child's mother, 39-year-old Enayance Samargo, immediately searched the swimming pool after noticing he was missing, but didn't see him. He said the pool was not in use and had become murky from algae and other deposits, which could have prevented her from seeing him.

The deputy said the mother then checked other areas of the property before asking her employer to help search for her son. It was then, that the women went back to the pool and saw him floating in the water.

Badillo said the pool is located about 5 feet from the back of the house and was not fenced in because the homeowners don't have any children.

He said Samargo was a longtime housekeeper for the homeowners and was forced to take her son to work with her on Thursday.

“She was unable to find somebody to care of her son, so she took him to work with her,” Badillo said.

In the slammer

That was really quick work.

Good job U.S. Marshall's office!

Victim's ex-boyfriend charged with murder
By Eva Ruth Moravec - Express-News

The ex-boyfriend of a 35-year-old woman found dead inside her Northeast Side home was charged with murder Thursday morning after he had been arrested near Houston the day before, authorities said.

A federal marshals' task force arrested Isidro Michael Veloz Jr., 32, on Wednesday after tracking him to a Wal-Mart in Sealy, authorities said. Veloz was arrested in the parking lot after leaving the store.

He initially was detained for violating a protective order that former girlfriend Yvette De La Cruz had filed against him, a San Antonio Police Department spokesman said.

De La Cruz's father found her body around 10 a.m. Wednesday in her house in the 5100 block of Sierra Madre.

Witnesses said her neck had been broken and that she had been suffocated, but police declined to say how she was killed.

A police report said De La Cruz's head was wrapped in duct tape and that her partially nude body was found in the bedroom.

Witnesses told police they saw Veloz outside De La Cruz's residence the day her body was found, according to the report. The report also said Veloz and De La Cruz had a history of domestic violence.

Police began searching for Veloz almost immediately and federal agents tracked him to Sealy.

Sgt. Gabe Trevino said a San Antonio detective questioned Veloz in the Austin County Jail Wednesday night about De La Cruz's death.

Veloz was charged with murder Thursday morning.

The Bexar County medical examiner's office was set to do an autopsy on De La Cruz on Thursday.

Veloz remains in Austin County Jail and will be extradited to San Antonio within 30 days, a spokesman for the Bexar County Sherriff's Office said.

Drive By shooting-Bavarian-style

Wonderful, just effing wonderful.

The illusion of a nice quiet town and place to live in shattered in the night.

Go get them NBPD!

Two injured in drive-by shooting
- The Herald-Zeitung

Two people were shot in their front yard early Thursday morning, victims of a drive-by shooting.

New Braunfels Police Department responded to the 1800 block of Lee Street around 1 a.m. Thursday for a drive-by shooting that had just occurred.

Two people, a 29-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman, were shot and injured, NBPD spokesman Lt. Michael Penshorn said.

Both were transported to Christus Santa Rosa — New Braunfels and then flown to University Hospital in San Antonio. Penshorn said both are in stable condition.

One neighbor, Ernie Rodriguez, painted a picture Thursday afternoon of the scene.

“It was around 12:40 a.m. There were a couple parties on the street and people were outside,” Rodriguez said. “All of a sudden, I heard someone crying, begging for help.”

He pointed out three bullet-holes on the side of his house.

“They hit my bathroom and my kitchen,” he said. “Bullets were flying left and right. I would not have expected this to happen. I’ve lived in this house for 12 years and nothing like this has ever happened.”

The victims had just moved in Wednesday, Rodriguez said — boxes and furniture were loaded into the house just hours before the shooting.

Penshorn said there are no suspects in the case. The vehicle was described as a sporty passenger car that was tan or brown with a T-top.

Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a first-degree felony punishable between five and 99 years and a fine up to $100,000.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I don't care how big your knife is don't take it to a gun fight


In Texas he'd have been shot.

Idiot ninja.

Man tries to rob dry cleaners with sword

Police said a man dressed liked a ninja used a sword in an attempt to rob a Weymouth dry cleaner.

According to police, a convenience store clerk called police Monday after she noticed a man walking into the store wearing a ski mask and a sword in a sheath on his belt. Police said that when the man noticed her, he pulled his mask off and asked whether she was calling about him.

When she said she was, the man left the store and walked into nearby Galaxy Cleaners. There, he pointed a sword at the register and asked a clerk to give him all of the money, police said. He left after she told him she couldn't open the drawer.

Police are still searching for the man, who witnesses said appeared to be in his late 20s.

What she did makes me sick

She looked fine the times I passed her in the hallway.

A ploy for sympathy?

Who knows? I won't speculate.
Jury sent home in infant abuse trial
-The Herald-Zeitung

The jury was sent home Wednesday after a defendant on trial this week for allegedly abusing her newborn was sent to the hospital.

Amanda Bittner, 20, is facing five to 99 years in prison for five counts of felony injury to a child. She is charged with causing extensive injuries to her 6-week-old daughter in January of 2007, including multiple skull fractures and bleeding in the child’s brain.

Defense attorney Ed Jendrzey and Assistant District Attorney Melissa Hines spent Wednesday morning with 207th District Judge Jack Robison working on a jury charge after Jendrzey asked to lessen the number of Bittner’s charges.

New Braunfels EMS took Bittner to Christus Santa Rosa — New Braunfels around 1 p.m. after she vomited and complained of illness all day, Robison said.

Robison warned Jendrzey that court could continue without her if necessary.

“She spent all morning running in and out of the court room saying she’s ill. If she is pretending, she’s not going to benefit.” he said. “... We can’t make this jury wait indefinitely.”

Robison sent the jury of nine women and three men home Wednesday afternoon, asking them not to speculate on the reasoning.

He said a jury charge will be read today around 9 a.m. and closing arguments are expected to follow.

Robison asked both attorneys to be present at 8 a.m. today to discuss what will happen if Bittner is still ill.

Jendrzey declined to comment on his client’s illness.

Bittner originally took the child to the hospital on Jan. 31, 2007, with extensive bruising and signs of head trauma. After an investigation into possible abuse by the New Braunfels Police Department, Bittner was charged and arrested. She has been out on bond since August of 2008.

The child has since been put in adoptive care and is doing better, Hines said on Monday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Boldly going where no Man has gone before

having watched the show when it first ran on TV I have always been a fan and was generally disappointed by most, but not all, of the movies.

I am psyched to go see this one big time, however.

BTW its Trekkie not Trekker and no, I am not a Trekkie. :)

Review: Star Trek

by TimesOnline

Just when you thought that the Star Trek phenomenon had truly run its course, along comes J. J. Abrams’s stunning prequel to resuscitate the most enduring franchise in sci-fi history. The past five decades have produced five television series and ten films — not all of them successful — so veteran Trekkers had no right to expect such a dazzling and beautiful rebirth.

Yet Star Trek, released in Britain on May 8 and given its premiere last night, is perfectly pitched to satisfy Trekker nerds and a more general action-flick audience. Abrams, who directed Mission Impossible III, brings his blockbuster flair to bear on a story that starts with a massacre and rarely draws breath for the next two hours as it unravels a deadly battle between the Federation and a rogue Romulan from the future who is bent on destroying Earth.

Without sacrificing the majesty of Gene Roddenberry’s humanitarian ideals or the humour that is Star Trek’s salvation, Abrams’s film is a rollicking space adventure that makes you fall in love with the original series all over again. It shows how the Enterprise crew came together to avert the Romulan threat and, more importantly, how Captain Kirk, the incorrigible young rebel, and Spock, the conflicted half-human, half-Vulcan genius, forged their lifelong friendship. And with Spock and Uhura getting it on (the first truly interracial kiss!), there’s even the hint of a love triangle still to come.

The writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, cleverly weave their young heroes into creditable precursors of Star Trek’s two most iconic figures, while the performances wonderfully encapsulate their characteristics. Chris Pine’s young Kirk, who enjoys driving his uncle’s classic car off a cliff and cheats in his Star Fleet exam, has William Shatner’s smug swagger and virile vanity down to a T, while Zachary Quinto (best known as the monstrous Sylar in TV’s Heroes) oozes intellectual arrogance as the forerunner to Leonard Nimoy’s Spock.

The other performances are fun too, including Simon Pegg’s comic turn as Scotty, the engineer; Karl Urban’s delightfully cynical Dr McCoy; and Eric Bana’s intensely vengeful Nero, the Romulan bad boy with a very nasty — but visually ravishing — spaceship at his disposal. And for old-time fans, there are heroic cameos for Chekov (here portrayed as a hyperactive teenager with a barely intelligible Russian accent) and a sword-wielding Sulu, and a first name for the ever-sexy Uhura (played with smouldering charisma by Zoe Saldana).

The movie looks gorgeous. Gone is the gloom of the last Star Trek film, Nemesis (2002), which seemed cast in the depressing shadow of George Bush’s post-9/11 America. The prequel, though conceived before the rise of Barack Obama, taps into the optimism of his presidency. If thoughtful philosophical discourse of the Star Trek kind is at a minimum here, there’s certainly no shortage of narrative momentum, a skill Abrams earlier exhibited as co-creator of the hit TV series Lost.

The new 23rd-century technology looks a lot more up to the minute than the original — though the latter’s cheesy cardboard aesthetic is fondly remembered — and the special effects are state of the art, including the requisite CGI monsters. But the creators have not forgotten Star Trek’s 1960s origins. There are saucy ensigns in mini-skirts, green-skinned girlfriends, kooky aliens in bars and even an appearance by Leonard Nimoy as old Spock. William Shatner, much to his annoyance, was not invited to join the party. But then, as the original James Tiberius Kirk, he had more than enough chances to save the galaxy.

Fasten your seat belts please

A big law suit coming I would guess.
Turbulence blamed for paralyzing woman in Continental flight
By Ryan Holeywell, The Monitor

McALLEN - A woman was paralyzed and two other people were injured during a turbulent flight from Houston that arrived here early Saturday morning.

The woman, 47, was using the plane's bathroom when the aircraft encountered turbulence and descendent rapidly, throwing her against the ceiling, said Dr. Trey Fulp, an orthopedic spine surgeon treating her at McAllen Medical Center.

He said the woman suffered a fractured neck and was scheduled to undergo surgery on it Monday.

Doctors spent 6 hours operating on her back after the plane landed.

The back injury left her paralyzed from the chest down, Fulp said.

Although some patients recover from this sort of injury, it's unclear whether she will ever be able to walk again, Fulp said.

"Anytime you're dealing with a paraplegic, only time's going to tell," Fulp said.

He did not release the woman's name, citing privacy concerns, but he said she is a local resident.

As of Monday morning, the woman was on a ventilator. He said she is alert, talking and has been visited by family members, but she remains very scared.

Continental's Flight 511 departed Houston at 1:21 a.m. and arrived in McAllen at 2:17 a.m.

The plane, a 737, experienced turbulence after it had begun its descent to McAllen, said an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

There were 104 passengers aboard the plane. Mary Clark, a Continental spokeswoman, said another passenger and a crew member were also treated for injuries but were released from the hospital.

Once NTSB confirms for itself that the woman was paralyzed, the agency will launch an investigation.

Clark said the flight left Houston late at night after being delayed. The seatbelt signs were illuminated when the plane experienced "sudden turbulence," she said.

Both Clark and NTSB officials said they knew no other details of the event.


Maybe getting scared shitless will get him scared straight?

Teen soils self after deputy surprises him
By Ben Winslow -Deseret news

CENTERVILLE — A teenager suspected of car burglary was so surprised when he opened a car door to find a police officer sitting inside that he messed his pants, police said.

It happened about 1 a.m. Saturday as Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy Chad Taylor was returning to his Centerville home from working a shift.

"I was in my personal vehicle, but I was in uniform," Taylor told the Deseret News Monday. "I'd pulled in my driveway and was on the phone with another deputy when I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw this guy trying to get into my wife's car."

Taylor watched the teen then move up toward his car.

"Right as his hand goes to check my handle, I kick the door open," Taylor said. "I said, 'You'd better stop right there! Police!' I'm not kidding, it was quiet as can be, and I heard …"

The 16-year-old boy turned and ran, chased by Taylor, who called 911 as he ran after the teen through the neighborhood. The boy was scrambling so fast, Taylor said, he lost his shoes. Centerville police responded to help catch the teen.

"One officer spotted him with night-vision goggles going into a house," Centerville Police Lt. Paul Child said.

The boy dashed into a friend's house, where a party was going on, police said. Officers were let into the house where they found him — and discovered that he had soiled himself, Child said.

"You could smell him," Taylor said. "He told us, 'Yeah, I crapped my pants.' "

Police said the teen implicated a friend whom Taylor saw trying to break into cars across the street from his home.

"He gave up his friend," Child said, pointing to another 16-year-old who was also arrested in the burglary investigation. Police believe the two had been working together, burglarizing cars in the neighborhood. Child said officers recovered some cash and CDs they believe had been taken from cars. The two boys were booked into the Farmington Bay Youth Detention Center for investigation of vehicle burglary and theft.

Detectives were trying to determine if the teens were involved in a rash of weekend car break-ins.

"We've had some more reports over the weekend that we're sure they're suspects in," Child said.

Closing arguments today

My thoughts?

Guilty and probably probation because of her age.

(note: the picture is not from the trial)

Infant abuse case heads for closing arguments

The jury heard its second day of testimony Tuesday in the case of a New Braunfels woman on trial for allegedly abusing her newborn.

Amanda Bittner, 20, is facing five to 99 years in prison for five counts of felony injury to a child.

She is charged with causing extensive injuries to her 6-week-old daughter in January of 2007, including multiple skull fractures and bleeding in the child’s brain.

The state rested its case Tuesday, after the jury heard testimony from medical experts who described the nature and extent of the damage to the infant’s body.

Bittner originally took the child to the hospital on Jan. 31, 2007, with extensive bruising and signs of head trauma. After an investigation into possible abuse by the New Braunfels Police Department, Bittner was charged and arrested. She has been out on bond since August of 2008.

The child has since been put in adoptive care and is doing better, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Hines said on Monday.

The defense has not called any witnesses over the first two days of the trial, and closing statements are expected to begin today at 9 a.m. at the Comal County Courthouse in front of 207th District Judge Jack Robison.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nope no meth labs ever here **cough**

Well, this is just great news isn't it?

I have to praise State Rep. David Leibowitz for presenting a bill to rectify this deplorable loophole in the law.

Kudos, Sir.

Loophole keeps renters in dark
- The Herald-Zeitung

If you live in a rental apartment or leased property, you could be inhabiting a former methamphetamine production site without even knowing.

Currently, landlords are not bound by law to disclose whether a meth lab was ever present in a property they are leasing. Texas legislators with support from others are looking to change that.

Kirk Flippin owns and operates Texas Decon, a New Braunfels-based company that specializes in crime scene and meth lab cleanup around the nation.

He said House Bill 23, introduced by Rep. David Leibowitz of San Antonio and as of late Monday still pending in a subcommittee, could put pressure on landlords to be upfront with potential tenants.

“It requires landlords to disclose if the production of meth went on in the property to a tenant,” Flippin said. “They also must disclose any cleanup that took place and how it was performed.”

New Braunfels real estate agent D. Lee Edwards said real estate agents must be upfront during a sale, but rentals are a different story.

“Any environmental hazard or criminal activity must be disclosed in the sale of a house,” Edwards said. “The property owner does not have to provide that information on a rental form, though.”

Generally, real estate companies won’t take a rental that has such history, he said.

“Most reputable companies would not take a rental that would put the general public at risk,” he said.

Flippin said he has seen families move into properties they had no idea had been former meth labs, such as a recent cleanup he handled in Dallas.

“A family moved into a residence which they didn’t know meth was cooked in,” he said. “Their family dog died, and they started to get sick.”

At that point, he said, Texas Decon was called in.

“I ended up having to throw away some of the daughters’ toys and the mother’s clothes,” he said. “When (the daughter) saw what I was doing, she looked at me and said ‘a bad man messed up our house.’ I told her ‘yes, a bad man did mess up your house.’”

Since Flippin started Texas Decon in 2004, he said he has witnessed these scenes with more frequency throughout Texas.

“I’ve seen about a 50 to 60 percent increase in meth labs this year alone,” he said. “I’m not sure if it’s the down economy or people losing their jobs, but it seems to be a lot more prevalent. People need to be educated.”

Drugs are a known problem throughout the city, New Braunfels Police Department spokesman Lt. Michael Penshorn said.

“We recognize that there is a drug problem in the city,” Penshorn said. “The best way to avoid a potentially bad situation is to educate yourself.”

Bitner jurors do not read this!!!!

FYI that is NOT a picture from this matter.

I have seen the actual photos. Terrible.

She will be convicted IMHO.

Mother on trial for injured baby


A Comal County jury heard its first testimony Monday in the case of a New Braunfels woman accused of physically abusing her 6-week-old daughter.

Amanda Bittner, 20, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of felony injury to a child. Authorities allege she fractured the skull of her newborn, broke a bone in her leg and caused internal bleeding in the baby’s brain over a three-week period in 2007.

The mother faces five to 99 years in prison if convicted, according to the Comal County District Attorney’s Office.

Officers from the New Braunfels Police Department initially were called to what was then named McKenna Memorial Hospital on Jan. 31, 2007, to investigate possible abuse after Bittner had brought her 6-week-old to the hospital after the baby had suffered significant bruising and showed signs of head trauma.

Following the investigation, Bittner was charged and arrested. She has been out on bond since August 2008.

The child has been put into adoptive care and is doing better, said Assistant District Attorney Melissa Hines, although she said the baby will continue to be monitored by neurologists and specialists to make sure there are no long-term effects.

Monday gave the prosecution a chance to begin laying out its case, and Hines described Bittner to the jury as a “baby beater” who not only caused the injuries but failed to seek medical attention for her infant until it was absolutely necessary.

The jury also saw photos of the child’s injuries, heard testimony from police officers who investigated the case, as well as saw Bittner herself during a 30-minute video interview with NBPD Detective John Rios conducted shortly after the hospital visit.

During the interview, Bittner, a diabetic, said her blood sugar was low and that she was overcome by the pressure of meeting payments for rent and utilities and momentarily “lost it.”

She said she slapped the newborn twice and that much of the bruising was likely from her grasping the infant tightly or burping it too roughly. She added that she accidentally had hit the child’s head in a door jam — rather than dropped her in her crib — as she initially had reported to authorities.

She also said during the video interview that her husband, William Bittner, could not have been responsible for the child’s injuries.

Defense attorney Ed Jendrzey chose not to issue an opening statement, and Hines said she expected to have the jury hear several more days of testimony before rendering a verdict.

“We’re confident in our case and confident the jury will do the right thing,” Hines said.

The proceedings will continue today at 9 a.m. at the Comal County Courthouse in front of 207th District Court Judge Jack Robison.

Monday, April 20, 2009

One potato, two potato....wet potato

There should only be one "p" in potato.

Burglar urinates on potato

Police are hunting a burglar who urinated on a sack of potatoes but fled his crime scene empty-handed.

Police in Des Moines in the US admit they are stumped as to how a burglar managed to get into Roger Massey's apartment.

The flat owner says he locked his door and there was no sign of forced entry.

The burglar urinated in his bathtub, kitchen sink and on a sack of potatoes, according to a police report.

If at first you don't succeed.....

Can't knock the guy for his persistence, eh?

Cops: Burglar hit same apartment twice

By Mike Stucka
Staff Writer-The Salem News Online

SALEM — If at first you don't succeed, maybe it's not a good idea to return to the scene of the crime.

But that's exactly what Salem police say William Gordon Casey did yesterday, even after a would-be burglary victim said he recognized Casey and got his car's license plate number. Within the next few hours, police say Casey returned to burglarize the same apartment, got in a hit-and-run accident, and fled from police, who also found cocaine in his home.

A Lafayette Street resident told police he'd come out of his bathroom around 11:30 a.m. to find Casey standing in his apartment. The resident said he surprised Casey, who said something about money owed to him and then fled out a window that had just been forced open. The resident saw Casey get into a Ford Escort and noted the license plate. The resident said he didn't find anything missing then.

But the resident left his home and returned less than two hours to see Casey's Ford Escort leaving. He reported that his front door had been forced open and four guitars and a 42-inch television were missing.

Casey didn't get very far before he ran into trouble, police said. At 1:03 p.m., a woman reported her Saturn was struck by Casey's Ford. She said Casey had gotten out of the car and started to approach her, but never put his Ford in park, so it hit her car.

Police had gotten an arrest warrant for Casey from the first burglary attempt and went to his house, 23 E. Collins St. There, they say, Casey jumped over a fence when he saw police officers, then kept running. He was caught behind Connors Road along the beach.

Other officers reported they'd been trying to see if anyone else was home when they saw a guitar on a sofa. They also thought they saw blood on a table sitting in the driveway. A man at the house's back door, Adam E. Cochrane, reportedly became belligerent and was detained.

Inside the home, police found the four missing guitars and spotted "a large amount of cocaine that was also in plain view in an open dresser drawer in one of the bedrooms," according to police logs. They applied for a search warrant for the guitars, television and cocaine.

Casey, 20, faces charges of malicious destruction of property over $250 and breaking and entering in the daytime with intent to commit a felony — charges from the first reported burglary. After the accident, he was charged with leaving the scene of an accident without making known his name, driving without a license and a marked-lanes violation. He was also charged with larceny over $250 and resisting arrest, police said.

Police searched Cochrane, 20, of 43 Boston St., Salem, and found the keys to the Ford Escort in his pocket. They accused him of helping steal the large television and charged him with trafficking in cocaine, larceny over $250, and breaking and entering in the daytime to commit a felony.