Tag Archives: Trials and Tribulations

Five Years Isn’t Enough for Murder?

Pistorius Appeal Five Year

Not according to South Africa’s prosecutors. The lawyers will appeal the verdict and sentence of Oscar Pistorius, who received a five-year prison term for culpable homicide last week.

Prior to the sentencing, prosecutors had called for a minimum 10-year term, and the defence had argued for community service and house arrest. Judge Thokozile Masipa ultimately decided that five years in jail was plenty for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. And, to add insult to injury, under the terms of the sentence, Pistorius may be released into house arrest after 10 months.

“A non-custodial sentence would send the wrong message to the community. On the other hand, a long sentence would also not be appropriate either, as it would lack the element of mercy,” the judge declared.

The element of mercy? You mean what was missing from Oscar Pistorius’ brain when he repeatedly shot his girlfriend through the bathroom door?

Although Reeva Steenkamp’s parents say that have “already forgiven a long time ago” and are “satisfied by the sentence”, the prosecutors are not. A spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, said the organization “will be appealing both the conviction and sentence.”

 “The appeal on conviction is based on the question of law,” NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube said in a statement.

“The merits and the demerits of the NPA’s argument in this regard will become evident when we file papers for leave to appeal.”

I don’t know, eligible for house arrest after 10 months in prison seems like a pretty sweet deal to me. They might want to just leave it at that…

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Florida DOESN’T Let Someone Get Away With Shooting an Unarmed Black Teen… And Other News

Florida Dunn Trial

Michael Dunn, the Florida man who shot and killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis in a dispute over loud music, has received a life sentence (plus 105 years) without possibility of parole. Hopefully there’s no loud music in prison…

Michael Dunn shot and killed Davis outside of a Jacksonville, Florida convenience store in what he claimed was self-defense but everyone else claimed was just plain crazy. According to Dunn’s version, Davis and his buds were listening to some super loud rap music in their SUV. When he asked them to turn it down, he claims that one of them pulled a shotgun on him. Instead of overreacting, Dunn got his loaded gun from his car and shot 10 rounds into the SUV. The only catch? Davis and his friends were unarmed. At his sentencing Dunn publicly apologized for the first time, saying, “If I could roll back time and do things differently, I would. I was in fear for my life and I did what I thought I had to do. Still, I am mortified I took a life, whether it was justified or not.” Spoiler alert: it wasn’t justified. USA Today

K PopAt least 16 South Korean pop music fans were killed and 11 seriously injured Friday after a ventilation grate buckled under the weight of concertgoers in Seongnam, South Korea. The victims fell about 20 meters into a parking structure after the gate they had been standing on to get a better view of the performance by the popular South Korean girl band 4Minute collapsed. There were 700 people at the concert and while witnesses said many of the spectators were female students, most of the dead were men in their 30s and 40s who stopped to watch the concert, which was part of a local festival, after leaving work. Although standing on a flimsy metal grate with a group of people looks no safer than licking a frayed electrical cord, at least they were smart enough not to attend a PSY concert. Imagine the last words they ever heard were “Oppa Gangnam Style”? AP

boko-kidnapAnd six months later, the Nigerian schoolgirls are coming back – but in what state? The Nigerian government says that it has come to an agreement with Boko Haram, the militant group that kidnapped the almost 300 schoolgirls back in April. Nigeria’s chief of defence staff, Alex Badeh, announced the truce, telling his troops to stand down for a ceasefire. Boko Haram has not yet made a public statement but the negotiations are said to have the blessing of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. The government would not reveal what concessions it made to Boko Haram in order to bring the girls back, but I bet it was something good. BBC News

EbolamaniaEbolamania is sweeping the nation! After a vomiting passenger died (from non-Ebola realted causes) on a Nigeria-to-JFK flight, tension in the sky is high. On Thursday, a middle-aged African-American woman was locked in the lavatory of an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Chicago after she began vomiting. According to another passenger on the flight, after the woman vomited in the aisle, the crew feared the spread of Ebola and forced her to reveal all her recent travel and remain in the bathroom for the last 45 minutes of the trip. But was it really fear of Ebola that prompted this overreaction… or was it fear of black people? The witness, a University of Texas professor, thinks the latter, chalking the incident up to racial profiling. “If I had puked on the plane, would they have they done that to me? I’m a 60-year-old white woman with gray hair. No, they would not have,” she said. Actually, they probably would have. Ebola seems to bring out the hysteria in people. I’m surprised they didn’t push this woman out the door at 35,000ft. Houston Chronicle 

MEXICO SPRING BREAKThe French want to bid adieu to binge drinking. A draft health bill presented to French ministers on Wednesday aims to target binge drinking by hitting people who incite it with €15,000 fines and sentences of up to a year in jail. “It will be made illegal to sell products that make alcohol appear pleasant,” French health minister Marisol Touraine reportedly told RTL radio, such as “telephone cases or T-shirts that show amusing scenes based on drunkenness.” While France is among the world’s most liberal countries in terms of alcohol consumption, some feel the Irish-style binge-drinking has gotten out of control. “We see more and more seriously drunk young people in the emergency room, who will stay for 24 hours, sometimes two days, to sober up,” a French doctor told TV channel France24 last year. The proposed law presented to the Assemblée Nationale early next year, but hopefully legislators will be too drunk to pass it. Washington Post

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Oscar Pistorius Found Guilty of Manslaughter, Jail Time TBD

OScar Pistorius Boogers

The judge who cleared Oscar Pistorius of murder charges yesterday found him guilty of manslaughter, or culpable homicide as they call it in South Africa, in the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

In her ruling, Judge Thokozile Masipa said that Pistorius was negligent when he fired several shots into that locked toilet room, but ultimately the state had failed to prove he intended to kill.

“A reasonable person, with a similar disability, would have foreseen that the person behind the door would be killed, and the accused failed to take action to avoid this,” the judge declared.

So while Pistorius acted “negligently” when he shot his girlfriend through a toilet door, the judge believed he really thought there was an intruder inside. Cut to Ray Rice kicking himself for not coming up with that excuse first – “I totally thought my fiancée was an elevator intruder!”

Judge Masipa also granted Pistorius bail after the conviction so now he’s free to roam the countryside until his sentencing on October 13. The athlete could receive up to 15 years in prison or he could just get a small slap on the wrist, pay a fine, and avoid jail entirely – in which case we can all congratulate South Africa on their first O.J Simpson.

As for Reeva Steenkamp’s family, they were less than pleased with the verdict, telling reporters of their “disbelief” that the court had believed Pistorius’s version of events.

“This verdict is not justice for Reeva,” June Steenkamp said. “I just want the truth. He shot through the door and I can’t believe that they believe it was an accident.”

And neither can anyone else…

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Oscar Pistorius Found NOT Guilty!?

Oscar Pistorius Not Guilty

“Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty of the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp Thursday after a South African judge dismissed the most serious charges against him.

Judge Thokozile Masipa made the announcement in a hushed courtroom Thursday as she summed up the evidence presented to the court. The judge said prosecutors had not proved Oscar meant to kill his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp but said he acted hastily, had been negligent and a reasonable person would not have fired. No kidding.

“The state clearly has not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of premeditated murder,” Thokozile Masipa said.

“Viewed in its totality the evidence failed to establish that the accused had the requisite intention to kill the deceased let alone with premeditation.”

Judge Masipa, clearly a fan of courtroom dramas, knew just how to leave the crowd hanging. After dismissing the murder charge, the judge abruptly adjourned for the day, leaving it to Friday to announce whether the athlete is guilty of culpable homicide. But word on the street is that Judge Masipa appears to be leaning towards the lesser charge of manslaughter, known in South Africa as culpable homicide, so Pistorius won’t likely get off scot-free.

The South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter has long denied murdering his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day last year, saying he mistook her for an intruder and shot her through the bathroom door by mistake. Obviously in South Africa intruders break in and lock themselves into a bathroom all the time, so it makes sense to grab a gun and start shooting before checking to see if your girlfriend got up to take a leak.

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This 9-Month-Old Pakistani Baby Has Been Charged With Attempted Murder

9-MOnth-old Baby Musa Khan 

After Pakistan’s troubled police force failed to spot 6 foot 5 Osama bin Laden hiding in their backyard, they’re determined not to let any more criminal masterminds get away – especially not Musa Khan, a 9-month-old baby boy, who has been charged with attempted murder.

Musa Kahn was charged alongside four adults in connection with a violent protest in a Lahore slum back in February. During the protest, slum residents threw stones at gas-company workers attempting to disconnect households that didn’t pay up. The police subsequently charged the entire family, including Musa, with attempted murder.

PAKISTAN-CHILDREN-JUSTICE-POLICEThe ridiculousness of the case became apparent when the child was required to appear in court. Forced to make an appearance and record his thumbprint (since he couldn’t actually sign his release papers), the baby screamed and cried, and required a milk bottle to calm him down.

He does not even know how to pick up his milk bottle properly—how can he stone the police?his grandfather Muhammad Yasin said.

The baby’s official charge is attempting “to murder with intention or knowledge” and if convicted, Musa may face a maximum of 10 years in prison, with even stricter penalties if a judge determines that the crime was done in “the name or on the pretext of honour.” However, the child’s lawyer has argued that children under the age of 7 cannot be prosecuted under Pakistani law.

But Musa’s family is playing it safe and has whisked the child off into hiding until the case blows over. The boy’s grandfather revealed that he had sent the child 200 kilometres away to Faisalabad “for protection” against the “vindictive” police. Except it’s not really ‘going into hiding’ if you tell everyone where he was sent…

I’m not sure what’s more shocking – that Pakistani police see no problem in prosecuting a 9-month-old baby or that Pakistan has access to nuclear weapons.

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Current Cat of the Day: Jonathan Fleming and His Airtight Alibi

Current Event Cat - Cleared Alibi Jonathan Fleming

Jonathan Fleming, a New York man who spent almost 25 years behind bars for murder, was freed on Tuesday and cleared of a Brooklyn killing that happened when he was 1,100 miles away on a Disney World vacation.

Jonathan Fleming, now 51, had been on holiday in Disney World with his family at the time of the 1989 murder and had numerous documents supporting his alibi. Fleming showed the cops his plane tickets, videos and postcards from his trip, but prosecutors at the time suggested he could have made a super quick round-trip plane trip to return to New York –  so he was convicted on the crime. What?!?!

Soon after his 1990 conviction, a key witness (aka the only witness) who had reported she had seen Fleming shoot Darryl Rush, recanted her testimony, admitting she had lied. She later said police persuaded her to give a statement against Fleming to avoid going back to jail for an unrelated charge. But nothing really came from that and Fleming continued to rot away in jail.

Fast forward twenty plus years and a review of the case files revealed that investigators had a hotel receipt Fleming paid in Florida five hours before the shooting and a letter from Orlando police saying employees at the hotel remembered him. Neither piece of evidence was handed over to Fleming’s first defense attorney. What?!?!

After years of reviewing documents and re-interviewing witnesses, it was finally determined that Fleming was in fact on a family trip to Disney World and the only evidence tying him to the crime was an alleged witness who later took back her statement.

So after 24 years and 8 months in prison, Jonathan Fleming was freed.

“As you can imagine, after sitting in jail for 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit, he can’t help but feel vindicated,” said one of Fleming’s lawyers, Anthony Mayol. “On the flip side, that’s 25 years that have been stolen, that he’ll never get back.”

“He has no job, no career, no prospects,” Koss, another of Fleming’s lawyers said.

So how will he get his life back together?

We’re suing everybody, let’s be honest,” Koss added.

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Du Pont Heir Gets Probation After Raping Three-Year-Old Daughter

Du Pont Heir

Affluenza at it’s best! Or worst? Robert H. Richards IV, the millionaire heir to the fortune of the American chemical company du Pont, escaped prison time after raping his three-year old daughter.

Robert H Richards IV pleaded guilty in 2008 to fourth degree rape, which usually carries a 15-year sentence in the US. At the time the judge ruled that the heir to the du Pont fortune should not face any jail time for raping his three-year-old daughter. Well, that sounds completely unreasonable – what was the judge’s justification?

The Superior Court judge wrote in her order that Richards “will not fare well” in prison and suggested that he needed treatment instead of time behind bars. I think not faring well in prison is the whole point… but not according to Judge Jan Jurden who suspended all of Richards’ prison time for probation.

While the rape case is a few years old and received little media attention at the time, it is making headlines again after Richards’ ex-wife filed a lawsuit in March seeking compensatory and punitive damages for assault, negligence, and inflicting emotional distress on his two children, after claiming he also abused their 19-month-old son around the same time.

Richards, who is unemployed and supported by a trust fund, owns a 5,800-square-foot mansion in Greenville , Delaware, and also owns a home in the exclusive North Shores neighborhood near Rehoboth Beach – so I’m sure having a monthly visit from a probation officer has been equally as punishing as prison time.

The lax sentence for the du Pont heir brings to mind the affluenza defense used by that Texas brat who killed four people while drunk driving to escape prison time.

Lesson learned: You can kill people while driving drunk and even rape your 3-year-old daughter but as long as your skin is white and your parents’ bank account is green, it’ll all work out in the end. Great lesson!

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Oregon Mother Beats 4-Year-Old To Death Because She Thought He Was Gay

Jessica Dutro Kills 4-year-old

Jessica Dutro, 25, is facing murder charges after allegedly subjecting her 4-year-old son to deadly beatings because she thought he was gay. And this is why some people should never be allowed to have children…

4-year-old Zachary Dutro-Boggess was brought to a Portland hospital in August 2012 where doctors determined he was dying from trauma to his abdomen that caused tears in his bowel. Two days of suffering later, he was taken off life support. That same day, his loving mother went online and searched terms such as anger management and parenting classes. She also searched listings for free stuff and sex with strangers – because why not?

Jessica Dutro is now on trial in Washington County Circuit Court. The trial revealed that the Oregon mom had sent Facebook messages to her then boyfriend, Brian Canady, complaining that her 4-year-old son might be gay.

Her son was going to be gay, she wrote, using a slur. “He walks and talks like it. Ugh.”

She also suggested Canady should “work on” Zachary to make him less gay.

Canady already pleaded guilty earlier in the month to first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault, in connection with Zachary’s death. Apparently he took “working on Zachary”, to mean kicking the toddler in the stomach while wearing shoes.

Jessica Dutro also has a 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son who are said to have shown signs of physical abuse. So maybe it wasn’t really about Zachary’s perceived homosexuality? Maybe she’s just a good old fashioned child abuser – and to steal a quote from True Detective:

“Prison is very, very hard on people who hurt kids. If you get the opportunity, you should kill yourself.”

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Osama Bin Laden’s Son-In-Law: Guilty As Charged. And Other News…

Osama In Law Son-In-Law

Osama Bin Laden’s son-in-law is guilty – by association! And of conspiring to kill Americans as al Qaeda’s spokesman after the 9/11 attacks…

Looks like the apple-in-law doesn’t fall far from the tree! Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a senior adviser to Osama bin Laden and husband of Bin Laden’s daughter Fatima, was convicted in a Manhattan federal court on charges to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists. The 48-year-old Kuwaiti-born cleric became famous/infamous for his fiery speches on behalf of Bin Laden after Sept. 11, in which he praised the terrorist attacks and promised that future attacks would definitely be carried out. Ghaith claimed he was just a mouthpiece for Bin Laden and simply delivered his talking points. But a jury of ever so slightly biased New Yorkers didn’t fall for it and returned a guilty verdict. Ghaith, who was captured last year in Jordan, could be sentenced to life in prison for his crimes – but at least he’s not on a hunger strike at Guantanamo! New York Times

Lions chewing on a giraffeThe Copenhagen Zoo has done it again! A month after the Danish zoo decided to kill off a perfectly healthy 2-year-old giraffe by dissecting it in public and feeding it to the lions, they’ve now decided to do away with the lions too. The zoo/butcher shop has announced it will kill two aging lions and two cubs to prevent inbreeding and any kafuffles that might occur when they introduce a new male to the enclosure. Apparently the new arrival, a three-year-old male, wouldn’t have been accepted by the pride if the older male was still there. “Furthermore we couldn’t risk that the male lion mated with the old female as she was too old to be mated with again due to the fact that she would have difficulties with birth and parental care of another litter,” the zoo said. And then they decided to kill off the cubs too because would have been killed by the new male lion anyway. Maybe the getting a new lion wasn’t the best idea? CTV News

122 ObjectsIt’s an oil slick! It’s a pile of garbage! It’s an unidentified orange rectangle! Now it’s 122 random objects! After a spew of false alarms, the rescue crew searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 are hoping the 122 new objects spotted in the Indian Ocean are from actually the sought after aircraft. Satellite images have captured some objects that are bright and possibly of solid material and 75 feet in length, spotted roughly 1,500 miles from Perth, Australia. Extra vessels and aircraft arrived in the search zone on Wednesday after taking a short pause in their rescue efforts due to gale-force winds and heavy rain. Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters: “We will never give up trying to find the plane, to ensure closure for the families and find out what happened to MH370.” And then he went on to kick the grieving Chinese relatives while they’re down. “Time will heal emotions that are running high … Chinese families must understand we in Malaysia also lost loved ones,” said Hishammuddin, implicitly criticizing Chinese relatives who have accused Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines of lying to them and causing the deaths of their loved ones. “I have seen images [of relatives] from Australia: very rational, understanding this is a global effort, not blaming Malaysia.” The Guardian

Bling BishopGermany’s Bling Bishop gets das boot. The Vatican gave Monsignor Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the German bishop who came under fire for his new $43 million church funded residence, the boot on Wednesday and told him never to come back. While Pope Francis was touring around preaching austerity this and austerity that, the Bling Bishop was off buying 15,000 euro bathtubs and 25,000 euro conference tables. Tebartz-van Elst has apologised for any “carelessness or misjudgement on my part”, but he denies any wrongdoing. Buying a 15,000 euro bath with church money is always the right thing to do! Reuters

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Texas Affluenza Brat

Current Event Cat - Affluenza Brat

Ethan Couch, the Texas brat who was famously diagnosed with “affluenza” after killing four people in a car wreck, is finally putting his money where his mouth is. The family of the Texas teen has apparently reached settlements with some of the families of his victims.

Ethan Couch’s drunk driving case made headlines last year after a defense “expert” claimed Couch was a victim of “affluenza” – the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy. Poor Ethan was coddled into a sense of irresponsibility, causing the 16-year-old to pop some prescription pills, drink a bunch of alcohol, and then ram his truck into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stopped, killing all four of them and critically inuring his two passengers. If only rich pampered kids could tell right from wrong!

The judge took pity on the boozed-up brat and gave Couch 10 years’ probation and a treatment program – much less than the 20 years prison Couch could have gotten.  If only he was a poor black kid with drug-addicted parents who never taught him right from wrong – then he would definitely be in jail for 20 years. Just kidding, it’s Texas. He would totally have gotten the death penalty.

Despite a less than satisfactory sentence, Ethan Couch’s family has now coughed up cash to some of his victims’ families in a civil lawsuit. So far, the families of victims Hollie and Shelby Boyles and Breanna Mitchell have finalized their cases against Ethan’s father, Fred Couch, and his company. The Boyleses, along with youth pastor Brian Jennings, 41, stopped along the side of the road to help Mitchell, 24, after she blew out a tire last summer.

The remaining lawsuits on behalf of Pastor Brian Jennings, who was killed, and Couch’s passengers who were injured are still being worked out. Considering the wealthy Texas tycoons make a reported $10 million per year, the remaining victims are probably looking for a hefty payout – which is great because the less money the Couch family has, the less likely their idiot son will blame his poor choices on affluenza.

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