FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

July 2010 Archives

Pit Bull Owner Arrested After Dogs Killed Child

In Concord, California, a two year-old boy was killed on July 29, a victim of an attack by three of his step-grandfather's pit bulls. Jacob Bisbee was rushed to the hospital, but died in the ambulance. The dogs have been put down by county authorities and felony charges have been brought against the pit bull owner.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, during a visit to his grandfather's house, the toddler wandered into the garage where the dogs were kept. The dogs generally were not allowed near children and the door usually was bolted above where a child could reach, but somehow Jacob found his way in. By the time his grandmother found him, it was too late.

Ex-NBA Star Lorenzen Wright Found Dead

Thirteen year NBA veteran Lorenzen Wright was found dead in a densely wooded area fifteen miles outside of Memphis, Tennessee this week. The 34 year-old Wright was missing for 10 days before his body was discovered by Memphis police. Over his professional basketball career, Wright played for five NBA teams and was living in Memphis at the time of his death.

Although local police did not initially suspect foul play when his disappearance was first reported by family, CBS News reports Memphis Police Department's statement that "it has some of its finest homicide investigators working on the case." In addition, the Toronto Sun reports that a 911 call was made in the early hours of July 19th from Wright's cell phone, when the dispatcher heard several gun shots in the background. There have been no other official statements released regarding the details surrounding Wright's death.

Warren Jeffs Convictions Overturned by Utah Supreme Court

On July 28, the Utah Supreme Court reversed two convictions for accomplice to rape for Warren Jeffs, the leader and "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeffs had been convicted in 2007 of using his power over the followers of his religious faith to force a fourteen year-old girl into marriage with her nineteen year-old cousin.

The court found that the instructions given to the jury in Jeff's case were erroneous and that error affected the outcome of the verdict. CNN reports that the victim in the case repeatedly objected to her marriage and did not want to have sexual relations with her husband. Evidence was given at trial that Jeffs counseled her to "submit" to her husband and give herself entirely to him and her marriage. This, said Jeffs, was the only way she could be sure of eternal salvation.

3 Teens Charged in Videotaped Immigrant Death

A deadly attack on a 47 year-old father of four has left a town in New Jersey shaken. The town of Summit, N.J., reportedly considered itself a diverse, upscale city which welcomes immigrants. The vicious beating death of Salvadoran immigrant, Abelino Mazaniego, by three teenagers has turned that view on its head. The young attackers, Khayri Williams-Clark, Nigel Dumas and one unidentified minor, had the attack filmed on a cell phone video camera by what is believed to be a fourth accomplice and allegedly circulated the video among their peers.

According to the Associated Press, the young men charged with the attack allegedly approached Mazaniego as he sat on a bench after his shift at the Dabbawalla Indian restaurant. Without warning they attacked him, beating him so severely he died in the hospital.

Teacher Melinda Dennehy Guilty of 'Sexting' Student

Melinda Dennehy, a former high school teacher, has pleaded guilty to emailing nude photographs of herself to a 15-year-old male student. Dennehy, 41, of Hampstead, New Hampshire pleaded guilty to misdemeanor indecent exposure.

The story began in March when nude photos of Melinda Dennehy, who taught sophomore English, were passed around the high school. Dennehy resigned three weeks after the photos circulated. Police later determined that Dennehy sent four posed photos to the 15-year-old male student with her genitals exposed.

The student confirmed to police that Dennehy texted him with descriptions of specific sexual acts she wanted to perform with him. According to the student, the story went far beyond the Melinda Dennehy photos. The teacher continuously sent him text messages" and "kissed him twice on two separate occasions" on school grounds.

Facebook Feud: Murder Charge for Torrie Emery

An alleged feud between two woment that started on Facebook, ended in the arraignment in Pontiac, Michigan, of one of the women last Friday, July 23. The two women, who were supposedly fighting over the affections of a prison inmate, got into a high speed car case resulting in the death of Alesha Abernathy and leaving Danielle Booth, 20, in the hospital with serious injuries. Torrie Emery, 23, is charged with multiple felonies for her part in the chase and death of Abernathy.

According to the Associated Press, Emery was in her car when she spotted Booth in another car with Abernathy behind the wheel. She gave chase, with her three year old child in the back seat. Police Det. Paul McDougal, who was in an unmarked squad car, saw both cars rush by at speeds approaching 100 mph. During the chase, Booth had called 911 and was still speaking with the dispatcher when Abernathy ran a red light and hit a dump truck.

One 'Kids for Cash' Ex-Judge Pleads Guilty

Kids for Cash.

It's a startling case of the worst kind of judicial corruption -- a story that sounds more fitting for a movie script than for reality. A Pennsylvania judge is facing up to 20 years after pleading guilty to a racketeering and conspiracy charge. Michael Conahan admitted to participating in a kickback operation that put juvenile defendants in prison for minor offenses.

Prosecutors allege that Conahan and Mark Ciavarella Jr. conspired in the Kids for Cash scam and took $2.8 million in kickbacks from privately run juvenile detention centers. Further they claim the pair arranged for the county-owned juvenile facility to be shut down so they could keep the the privately run facility at capacity. Ciavarella has maintained his innocence and plans to contest his charges at trial.

Crane Operator William Rapetti Acquitted

The man who operated the crane which crashed and killed seven people on March 15, 2008, has been exonerated. A judge in New York City has found William Rapetti not guilty of seven counts of manslaughter. Rapetti was operating the 300 foot crane when it crashed just over two years ago, killing and wounding dozens of people. Rapetti was the only person connected with the incident to face criminal charges.

The accident in occurred in March of 2008, when Rapetti's crane collapsed killing six workers on the construction site and a Floridian tourist, according to the New York Daily News. In the bench trial before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Roger Hayes, evidence was presented by prosecutors that the crane operator used too few slings to attach the 11,300-pound steel collar to beams used on the building under construction. One of the slings he used was allegedly damaged and it was that sling that tore, sending the collar to the ground. An inspector from OSHA gave evidence that Rapetti said he had not done the required inspection on the slings.

Santa Claus Burglar Caught and Tried

Are we mistaken in thinking that there seems to be quite a surge lately in criminals with cute and catchy names? Perhaps it is just an occupational hazard of writing about crime on a regular basis, but since when did every Tom, Dick and Harry thief get a nickname, let alone a Facebook fanpage? Please note the recent the rise of the Geezer Bandit (still at large), the Barefoot Bandit (recently nabbed), the Bouquet Bandit (also recently in custody). Now, please make way for the Santa Claus Burglar.

The Santa Claus burglar operated in Seattle, Washington, according to The Seattle Times. Shon Michael Shanell looked nothing like everyone's favorite old elf being young and slender at 23 years old and 5'-9", 155 lbs. But police just couldn't resist slapping the moniker on the hapless thief when they rescued him from a chimney where he was trapped.

Georgia Sex Offender Law Gets Revamp, Softens

The pendulum is swinging back in Georgia regarding sex offender laws. It is often politically expedient to be "tough on crime," especially when it comes to drugs, crime and sex offenders. However, sometimes states find that their sex offender law does not serve the purposes for which they intended. At that point, it can become difficult to reverse course. Politicians can easily be portrayed as being weak or soft on crime and it can become a liability. But a recent case in Georgia demonstrates that it can be done.

Just four years ago, Georgia passed perhaps the nation's most strict sex offender laws. The laws were applauded by tough on crime conservatives at the time, but the state has had no choice but to back down on a number of provisions. Otherwise, a federal judge was on the verge of throwing out the entire law. The problem was the law was vague and overbroad, even including sex offenders convicted before the new law went into effect in 2006.

Under the old law, sex offenders were prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of parks, schools and other places where children are present. Offenders were driven outside of town or even outside of the state. A tent city of homeless sex offenders was even discovered in the woods behind an office park. Now, more than 70 percent of Georgia sex offenders can live wherever they like. Not everyone is happy about that. 

Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children told the AP:

Mom Saiqa Akhter Called 911 After Strangling Kids

The arraignment of an Irving, Texas mother on a single charge of murder in the death of her five year-old son took place on July 21. Court officials cancelled the scheduled second hearing on the death of Saiqa Akhter's 2-year-old daughter, Faryaal, who died Tuesday evening, a day after she was revived and placed on life support.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Saiqa Akhter called 911 and told the dispatcher that she had killed her children because they were "not normal." "Both are autistic," she said. "I don't want my kids to be like that. I want normal kids." Akhter called 911 about 5:00 p.m. and admitted she had wrapped antenna wire around her children's necks until they stopped breathing. Before that, she had tried to make them drink bathroom cleaner.

Oakland Approves City Pot Farm Plan

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
-Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson probably would not have been a fan of the decision of Oakland's City Council to permit industrial marijuana production. Under the new ordinance, which passed 5-2, four massive marijuana factories would be authorized to grow medical marijuana on an industrial scale. Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML and an Oakland resident, sees it as a landmark move.

"This is a monumental step forward," said Dale Gieringer, an Oakland resident and the longtime head of California NORML, which backs the legalization of marijuana. "It really means moving into the era of industrial-scale operations and Oakland means to do it big."

However smaller operation growers are not pleased with the pot farm plan and are concerned that it could drive them out of business. They feel like despite being crucial to helping California's marijuana laws progress to their current state, they are now being shut out. The annual permit fee for the new industrial growers would be $211,000. A marijuana tax of up to 12% may also be passed

Civil Confinement for Offender Who Spread HIV?

The state of New York has won its case to keep convicted sex offender Nushawn Williams confined after his twelve year sentence is complete. Williams reportedly infected at least thirteen women with AIDS. He pled guilty to statutory rape and reckless endangerment 1998.

According to the Associated Press, Williams' attorneys tried to convince the court he should not be subject to the civil confinement law since it was passed long after he was incarcerated for his rape sentence and had begun serving his reckless endangerment sentence. Reckless endangerment is not a crime eligible under the criminal confinement law. However, the judge agreed with the prosecution that the civil confinement law could apply because he was still in prison when the law was passed.

Atlanta CEO DeFarra Gaymon Killed by Police

An Atlanta CEO was shot and killed by an Essex County Sheriff's undercover police officer in New Jersey last Friday night. DeFarra Gaymon, 48, was in Newark, New Jersey for a 30 year class reunion. Gaymon, known by his friends as "Dean," was the organizer of the event but never made it to the Crowne Plaza Hotel where it was being held. Gaymon was married with four children and was the President and CEO of Credit Union of Atlanta.

The New Jersey police and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office are now investigating. At this time it is believed that the undercover police officer gave a statement to investigators that has not been released, but will be shortly. Investigators say that the officer was dispatched around 6 p.m. regarding alleged sexual activity in public near Branch Brook Park, an area known as a meeting point for sexual encounters. DeFarra Gaymon was unarmed at the time of the shooting but allegedly "tussled" with the detective who was attempting to arrest him, The Star-Ledger reports. By 9 p.m. Gaymon was pronounced dead at University Hospital in Newark.

It is only occasionally appropriate for police to use deadly force on an unarmed suspect. According to The Model Penal Code, officers should not use deadly force unless the action will not endanger innocent bystanders, the suspect used deadly force in committing the crime, or the officers believe a delay in arrest may result in injury or death to other people. In Tennessee v. Garner, the Supreme Court ruled that it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment for police officers to use deadly force to stop nonviolent, unarmed, fleeing felony suspects. 

Conrad Black to be Out on Bail

Conrad Black, media mogul and guest of a federal minimum security prison in Florida, may soon be out on bail. After a decision by the Supreme Court cast doubt on one of the charges he was convicted on in his trial for fraud, the 65 year-old Lord Black may be released pending the up-coming decision on that charge by a lower federal court.

The Associated Press reports Black was convicted on charges of obstruction of justice and under the "honest services" statute for defrauding the shareholders of media giant Hollinger International out of $6.1 million. Black was acquitted of nine other charges in the case. He has served a little more than 2 years of his 6 1/2 year sentence to date. Prosecutors are hoping to keep Black behind bars, as the new decision on the law does not affect his conviction for obstruction justice.

Teen Chloe Ottman Killed at Religious Theme Park

Francisco Cruz, 19, faces the possibility of the death penalty after he allegedly raped, strangled and stabbed Chloe Ottman to death. Cruz told police that he had a crush on Ottman and after she rejected him, he brutally attacked her, according to court documents. They had been friends for several years.

Francisco Cruz was charged with first degree murder, first-degree sexual assault and second degree strangulation. Accompanying the arrest warrant was a statement from Cruz explaining, in great detail, how he murdered Ottman. One court official called it "the most chilling statement I've ever read," The Hartford Courant reports.

Cruz has been arraigned in Waterbury, Connecticut Superior Court. Bail was set at $5 million dollars. Prosecutors say that Cruz confessed that he murdered Ottman after they walked to religious theme park Holy Land USA last Thursday. Police began looking for Chloe Ottman after she was reported missing Friday by family members. By Saturday, Cruz had confessed and led authorities to her body.

Infamous NY EMT Jason Green Killed

Embattled New York EMT Jason Green was shot and killed on July 21 after a fight outside a New York nightclub. The paramedic was known for the refusal of he and his partner to help a pregnant woman who collapsed in a restaurant they were in during a break. The woman later died and the two NY EMTs' were suspended without pay for their actions, but later reinstated. Charges have not yet been filed.

The original controversy surrounding Green took place in an Au Bon Pain coffee shop last December 9, according to the Associated Press. Allegedly, a pregnant cashier, Eutisha Rennix, collapsed. Witnesses claimed Green and his partner Melissa Jackson, left without doing anything to help.

Tight Regulation Creates Pot Shortage In NM

Supply and demand. It's a delicate economic balance that is supposed to resolve itself in a free market. But when the market is restricted, it's easy to wind up with vexing results. For example, take New Mexico's pot shortage under its medical marijuana program. Only 11 growers are approved by the state to produce pot for 2,000 registered medical marijuana program patients. Once growers crops are ready, they often sell out within 24 hours.

The shortage has led to legally troubling results, such as sending patients underground in search of illegal marijuana due to their inability to procure marijuana from licensed sellers. The state has created a restrictive system to avoid perceived disorganization in other state medical marijuana programs. Growers are put through an exhaustive screening process and cannot exceed set quantity guidelines. The locations are also kept secret, so there are no storefronts.

94 People Charged in Health Care Fraud Crackdown

The Justice Department has arrested 94 people and charged them in a heath care fraud crackdown involving Medicare and Medicaid. Authorities have called it the largest healthcare sting in U.S. history. The sting was held in five states and nabbed defendants who have been committing fraud against the government. Federal agents says that those arrested fraudulently received $251 million in false claims from Medicare and Medicaid. Many of the services were never even provided, others were unnecessary. Doctors and health-care executives were arrested in the sweep.

"Countless Americans rely on Medicare for their well-being," said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, in the Washington Post. Mueller added that the FBI and other federal agencies are determined "to stop those who would illegally manipulate the system."

Amber Rose Nicklas, Missing for 7 Years, Found

The story of a kidnapped child recovered by police on July 15, has no happy ending. Amber Rose Nicklas, 7, was discovered living with a family in Phoenix, Arizona, the only family she can remember. She was kidnapped from foster parents by her aunts as a very young child and has been a member of her current family ever since. She is now back in Southern California.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Amber was taken from her grandmother shortly after she was born and placed in foster care in Los Angeles County. About a year later, she was taken to meet her aunts who distracted the foster parents and took off with the little girl. Two of the aunts, juveniles at the time, were caught and charged with kidnapping. The third was never charged.

'Bottle Bombs' Incidents at Schools On the Rise

In what is becoming an increasingly common event, school buildings were locked down in Buffalo, New York after several so called "bottle bombs" were found the in the Town of Tonawanda, including some on district-owned property

In another incident, Fort Wayne, Indiana Police Hazardous Devices Unit responded to a bomb threat this week. The bombs turned out to be two soda bottles that were filled with acid and thrown at a doorstep in the middle of the night.

Most likely the bombs are being made by mischevious teenagers who like to experiment and make things explode. The current bottle bombs are frequently being made with liquid drain cleaner. Such activities have presumably been going on since the invention of gun powder. Nevertheless, bomb making activity, even among friends without the intent to harm anyone is taken very seriously in the eyes of the law. Explosive devices, by nature are unpredicable, but whomever sets off such a device will be held responsible for the consequences.

ACLU Challenges CA DNA Collection Law

On July 13, arguments were heard before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals challenging California's Prop. 69. Under that law, anyone arrested for a felony can have a sample of DNA taken and it will be added to a state database, whether or not they are ever convicted of the felony.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the lead plaintiff in the case, Elizabeth Haskell of Oakland, was arrested in March 2009 at an anti-war rally in San Francisco on suspicion of forcibly trying to free another protester. She was eventually released without charges. Haskell gave her DNA to police after being told she would be charged with another crime and held in jail if she refused.

Convicted Killer Charged With 5 Murders in DC

A confession by Ronald Brisbon, Jr. has helped police close out five cold case homicides.

Ronald Brisbon, Jr. recently plead guilty to the five killings in D.C. Superior Court, FOX reports.

Bribson admitted that he took part in one murder over a dog and another murder he was involved in was to try and keep a woman from testifying in court.

Coppell, TX Mayor Jayne Peters and Daughter Found Dead

Although the circumstances are still unclear police are investigating a possible murder-suicide of a Dallas-area mayor and her teenage daughter.

Authorities discovered the bodies of Coppell, Texas Mayor Jayne Peters, 55, and Corrine Peters, 19, shot to death at their home.

Police were prompted to go to the mayor's home when she failed to arrive at a city council meeting and did not call to explain her absence.

Father Arrested for Throwing Child Into Traffic

An Oakland, California man is under arrest for tossing his baby daughter into oncoming traffic late in the afternoon of July 10. An off-duty police officer says he saw 21 year-old John Taylor shake his 18 month-old daughter and then toss her into a lane of traffic on Fifth Avenue near East 15th Street in Oakland.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the little girl was hit by a car, but was pulled from underneath by the officer and a neighbor, Diana Castro, who had heard the commotion. Castro pulled the child from under a Jetta driven by an elderly couple. The little girl was burned, cut and bruised, but crying, which Castro was relieved to hear.

New Mass. 'Sexting' Obscenity Law Challenged

What is sexting?

Is it innocent flirting between two (or more) consenting parties? Or is it a dangerous form of pornography corrupting our youth?

Count the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts in the former and the Massachusetts legislature in the latter. The ACLU filed a lawsuit over a new anti-sexting law that it says goes too far. They want the obscenity law challenged on the grounds that it is allowing for the censorship of legal discussion, such as contraception and pregnancy, sexual health, literature and art.

The state has a law intended to ban distribution by the Internet of "matter harmful to minors." In the past "matter" was defined as any "handwritten or printed material, visual representation, live performance or sound recording," including books, magazines, and movies. Earlier this year, the Supreme Judicial Court overturned a conviction for a man who was sexting by sending sexually explicit instant messages to someone he believed was a 13 years old. The court said, "If the Legislature wishes to include instant messaging or other electronically transmitted text in the definition, it is for the Legislature, not the court, to do so."

4 Officers Charged in Post-Katrina Shootings

Four police officers and two supervisors have been indicted in the post-Katrina shooting deaths of civilians on New Orleans' Danziger Bridge. The federal cases alleging federal civil rights violations involve two civilians killed and four others who were wounded on September 4, 2005, six days after hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

Three New Orleans police officers, Kenneth Bowen, Anthony Villavaso and former officer, Robert Giseviusare, are in FBI custody. State prosecutors already had charged the 4 officers as well as filed charges against several additional police officers, but in 2008 a judge quashed indictments against officers Bowen, Gisevius, Villavaso and Faulcon Jr. They were all facing first-degree murder and attempted murder charges. The judge also threw out charges against officers Hunter Jr., Barrios and Hills.

The charges come from two incidents and an admitted cover up. James Brissette, 19, was killed and four people were wounded on the east side of the Danziger Bridge. Ronald Madison, 40, was killed on the bridge's west side. Four former police officers pleaded guilty to charges relating to the shooting and a coverup of the incident.

Police Impersonators Arrested in Robbery

The two men who flashed badges and drove a black SUV with strobe lights weren't real law enforcement and in fact turned out to be phony cops.

Two men were recently arrested in Prince George's County after posing as officers during a robbery, the Washington Post reports.

Police say the men in uniform and badges rolled up on victims driving a black SUV with flashing strobe lights. They assaulted the victims and took wallets from their pockets before fleeing.

Baltimore Police Officer Indicted for Murder

Baltimore Police Officer Gahiji Tshamba is accused of shooting to death an unarmed Marine outside of a city nightclub.

Officer Gahiji Tshamba was indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder and handgun charges, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Tshamba is a 15-year veteran of the city police force. Apparently, he had been hanging out with friends and a female companion when witnesses said Tyrone Brown, a former Marine, groped Tshamba's female companion, which led to an argument and confrontation.

MI Mom Aimee Sword Faces Jail Time for Incest

A Michigan mom who gave up her son for adoption and later found on the Internet via Facebook has been convicted of having sex with her own teenaged son.

Aimee Louise Sword, 36, pleaded guilty to having sex with her 14-year-old biological son and apologized during her sentencing, the New York Daily News reports.

According to reports, Aimee Sword tracked her teenage son, who is now 16, on Facebook in 2008 after she didn't receive an annual update from the boy's adoptive family in Grand Rapids.

Synthetic Marijuana K2 Coming Under Fire

What supposedly gives you a high, is legal and is hard to detect with drug testing? A synthetic form of marijuana called spice, genie, or K2. It can also land you in the hospital or give you tremors or seizures, but these warnings are often drowned out by hype over a legal high. That is until state lawmakers make K2 illegal, as they have already done in several states. This week, Missouri became the sixth state to ban the use of K2.

K2, according to CBS News, reportedly provides a marijuana-like high. However, it can be up to 15 times more powerful than marijuana and lead to a disturbing range of symptoms, according to Dr. Gaylor Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center. Poison control centers have seen a recent rash in calls about K2. CBS reports that nationwide, more than 500 people have phoned poison centers about the drug already this year, up from just 12 calls last year.

'Barefoot Bandit' Colton Harris Moore Caught

Police finally captured the "Barefoot Bandit" after two years on the run.

Colton Harris-Moore, 19, was nabbed after a high-speed boat chase by the Bahamas Police. Over the years, the teen bandit has built a reputation eluding authorities and stealing luxury cars, powerboats and even airplanes, MSNBC reports.

The "barefoot bandit" is alleged to have committed over 100 crimes while in eight states and one Canadian province, officials said. Harris-Moore was dubbed the "barefoot bandit" because he was without shoes when he allegedly broke into houses.

Albuquerque Office Shooting Leaves 6 Dead

A gunman opened fired killing 6 people and injured several others before turning the gun on himself.

The shooter was a 37-year-old man and his ex-wife or girlfriend who police believe were involved in a domestic violence situation that spilled into the office of Emcore Corporation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, CNN reports.

Woman Posed as 14-Year-Old Boy to Attract Teen Girls

Ohio Police say Patricia Dye "looks just like a boy" and in fact it was her impersonation of a 14-year-old boy in order to seduce a teenage girl she had a crush on which led to her arrest.

Patricia Dye, 31, is accused of dressing like a boy and using the alias Matt Abrams in order to have a relationship with a teenage girl, the New York Daily News reports.

Police began an investigation after a 16-year-old girl fled from a hotel when she discovered that Dye was really a woman - and not the teenage boy she appeared to be.

Obama Set to Sign Cruise Ship Security Law

President Obama is set to sign a bill that requires stronger security precautions on cruise ships, including ensuring alleged crimes are reported. The Senate passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act on Wednesday. Rep. Doris Matsui, D-California, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, authored the bill, which applies to all ships that dock in U.S. ports.

It passed the House 416-4 last year. The new law will require improved basic safety provisions on ships such as peepholes for doors and providing information on reporting crimes. All ships built going forward must have security latch door and smart keys.

Cruise ships have seen an increase in sexual assults, and under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act ships would be required to have medical staff that can handle assaults, rape kits and STD medication.

"Current law doesn't pass the test of providing common-sense security measures to the traveling public or to help protect them from crimes committed aboard ships...Moreover, current law does not provide the support victims and their families need in the event of a disaster." Matsui said in a statement reported by CNN.

Author K.P. Bath Gets 6 Years for Child Porn

If famous children's author K.P. Bath is writing a new book, he will have to write it from prison. Bath, known for The Secret of Castle Cant and Escape From Castle Cant was sentenced to six years in prison, five years of supervised probation and having his name added to the sex offender registry permanently.

Bath also stands to see his career as a children's author all but over. His newest book, Flip Side, was slated to be released last year, but his publisher pulled the plug after the child pornography charges. Going forward, it is unlikely that a publisher will work with him.

Bath was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ancer L. Haggerty Thursday for downloading child pornography from the Internet. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Sussman stated that investigators found that in 2007 that Bath was using an online account named "Bugsworth" to obtain and trade child pornography from another man with the online account "Sickman069."

Actress Lindsay Lohan to Appeal Sentence

That thump you hear is the sound of chins hitting the ground all over the western world as the public is apprised of the basis for appeal in the case of Lindsay Lohan vs. the justice system. Ms. Lohan, as you will recall, was recently sentenced to 90 days in jail with another 90 days of rehab for the violation of her probation stemming from DUI charges in 2007. Ms. Lohan's now former attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, called the sentence "harsh and unfair." Lindsay's mom called it "a spectacle." Lindsay called it a violation of her human rights.

As noted, the Lohan legal team is in transition as Ms. Chapman has left the employ of the young actress. When a replacement has been found, plans to appeal will be taken up. In the interim, Lohan seems convinced that the Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights applies directly to her case. According to the Montreal Gazette, Lohan has been tweeting quotes from the declaration including the following quote: 'No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.'"

Mehserle Verdict and Reaction in Oakland

As has been widely reported, the jury verdict in the trial for the shooting of Oscar Grant by Johannes Mehserle was returned on July 8. The jury found the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter, not of the more serious charge, as was hoped by the prosecutor and the friends and family of the victim. There has been strong public reaction, as expected, in the city of Oakland where the shooting took place at a BART station last New Year's Day.

Mehserle was charged with second degree murder in the shooting of Oscar Grant. According to the New York Times, those in court supporting Grant's family found the conviction for involuntary manslaughter to be unjust. "We thought the jury was dismissive," said John Burris, a lawyer for the Grant family. "It's a small victory, but it is not a fair representation of what happened -- an officer standing over him with his hands tied and shooting him." There were no African-Americans on the jury.

Missing Mo. Girl Found at Car Wash

A 4 year-old girl who was kidnapped from her own front yard on July 5 was found yesterday, July 6, at a car wash 90 miles away. Alisa Maier was seen by witnesses wandering alone around the car wash. At first, the adults who spotted her thought she was a boy since her hair had been cut short. It was soon discovered, though, that she was the missing girl her family, friends and police had been looking for.

ABC News reports Alisa Maier and her brother were playing in their front yard when, according to her brother, a dark-skinned white man in his 30s pulled up in a car, ordered Alisa to get in and drove off with her. At this time, the police have declined to release details of the physical examination the little girl received at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis.

Arrest in LA 'Grim Sleeper' Serial Killings

Los Angeles residents and some of its police force may sleep better tonight; an arrest has been made in the "Grim Sleeper" serial murder case. The L.A. district attorney's office is confirming that the man thought to be behind the homicides of eleven people since 1985, Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 57, is in custody.

The stories behind the grim crimes were followed for four years by LA Weekly reporter Christine Pelisek. The Grim Sleeper was so named by Pelisek and the Weekly for the dormant period between killings from the 1980s and when he struck again in 2002, 2003 and 2007. The Sleeper is the longest-operating serial killer west of the Mississippi.

Criminal Charges Filed in Wikileaks Case

Federal officers have arrested SPC Bradley Manning of the US Army in connection with the Wikileaks case. Manning, 22, is an intelligence analyst who allegedly leaked gun camera video footage to the site The video shows a US Apache helicopter attack that left several civilians dead, including two employees of Reuters. edited the anonymously submitted footage into a video entitled "Collateral Murder," and released it in April of this year.

According to Wired, Manning was arrested two weeks ago in Baghdad after he was turned in in June by a former computer hacker, Adrian Lamo, with whom he had communicated online. "I wouldn't have done this if lives weren't in danger," Lamo told Wired. "He was in a war zone and basically trying to vacuum up as much classified information as he could, and just throwing it up into the air."

Lindsay Lohan Fingernail Message: Contempt?

If you, like this blogger, idly admired the pretty paint job on actress Lindsay Lohan's fingernails as she dried her tears in court on July 6, we all were missing something. Reports out today show that not only did Ms. Lohan have an attractive pastel manicure, but she had a message painted on one fingernail as well. The words on the Lohan fingernail are unprintable, but end in the letter u. You may be able to guess which finger held the message.

Next question, why do we care? Experts opine that if the two word message was aimed at the court, Lindsay could extend her current 90 day jail sentence with a punishment for contempt of court. According to FOXNews, some attorneys think this is a creative way to get extra jail time. "it would be a separate charge for contempt," New York City Public Defender Stacy Schneider told FOX. "She could have an entire extra sentence heaped on top of her current one. If the judge were angry enough, it could run even consecutively."

12-Year-Old Suspected of Killing Parents

Missouri police arrested a 12-year-old boy who allegedly shot and killed his stepfather and mother on Monday. Police had been called to the Palace Lane Estates mobile home park in Kaiser, Missouri after the boy dialed 911. Miller Country Sheriff's Department took the boy into custody; he has been charged in juvenile court with first-degree murder. A hearing will be held to determine whether he will be charged as an adult or juvenile. No information has been made public about the boy because of his age.

The boy first called his grandmother, then called 911 to report the shooting of his parents. Their bodies had multiple gunshot wounds. According to deputies, the boy originally claimed that someone else broke in and shot his parents and police were initially looking for another assailant.

Manson Follower Leslie van Houten Up for Parole

Is the 19th time the charm?

Leslie Van Houten, 60, former Charles Manson cult member, is facing a parole hearing today. In each of her previous 18 attempts, she came up empty. But this time, she has a new attorney, Brandie Devall, and a new strategy.

Devall plans to point to favorable California Supreme Court rulings for parolees issued in 2008 and 2009, according to the Associated Press. Devall stated that the cases she will refer to were not decided when Van Houten was last up for parole. She will highlight the fact that Van Houten is 60 years old now, was young when she committed the crimes and that she has expressed sincere remorse. She also plans to argue that Van Houten is not currently dangerous

JaMarcus Russell Arrested for 'Purple Drank' Drug

Here now, a very short list of some of the dangerous controlled substances that keep the DEA working overtime: heroin, crack, powdered cocaine ... cough syrup. That is correct, the very active ingredient in prescription cough syrup, codeine, has become a key part of the recreational and illegal cocktail known as "purple drank," and drinking purple drank can get you arrested, as it recently did for former Raiders quarterback, JaMarcus Russell.

According to NowPublic, the used-to-be-QB was arrested at his home in Mobile, Alabama on July 5 for possession of a controlled substance. The substance was of course, the prescription cough medication containing codeine, for which Russell did not have said prescription. According to, Russell was booked into Mobile Metro Jail and released minutes later after making $2,500 bail, per online records.

Chicago Moves Forward with New Gun Ban

Although, the Supreme Court's recent ruling made the Chicago's ban on handguns unenforceable, the Chicago city council quickly enacted a whole new set of gun-control measures.

Part of the rush is to get restrictions in place before a lower court can enter a final order to formally strike down the city's gun ban, the Chicago Tribune reports.

UGA Athletic Director Damon Evans Arrested for DUI

University of Georgia athletic director Damon Evans, who is one of the youngest athletic directors in the nation, was arrested and charged for driving under the influence of alcohol.

A Georgia State Patrol trooper stopped Damon Evans while he was driving a 2009 BMW, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

The trooper detected an odor of alcohol and gave Evans a field sobriety test, but he later refused to take a breathalyzer test.

Cops, Lawyers Indicted in Mortgage Fraud Case

A group of law enforcement officers and mortgage brokers are accused of operating a mortgage fraud ring Broward County, Florida.

The cops and lawyers are accused of falsifying documents to obtain $16.5 million in loans that they used to buy and flip properties during the real estate boom, the Miami Herald reports.

According to the indictment, the group submitted false documents to mortgage lenders. In addition, they falsely represented to the mortgage lenders the source of the deposits or down payments needed to close the transactions.

Gore Sexual Misconduct Investigation Reopened

The heat is on for former Vice President Al Gore as the Portland police are re-opening an investigation into allegations by his massage therapist, Molly Hagerty, that he groped her.

Although the Portland Police Bureau did not say why they have decided to reopen the Al Gore investigation, it is department policy not to comment on specifics of the case, the Washington Post reports.