The Mystery Killings of Women in Uganda

Uganda parliament has suspended its sittings due to a wave of crime that has swept through the country. Members of Uganda’s legislative body have put the government on notice due to a series of murders that are still unsolved. The parliamentarians vowed not to convene any meetings until a government report was issued on the matter. Many fear that these murders are being committed by a serial killer.

A parliamentary session that was conducted on Tuesday decided to delay its meetings for an indefinite period after government officials declined to give an explanation for the murder of women in the capital, Kampala.

Who is Killing Women in Uganda?

According to reports by the police, since June, 20 women have been murdered mysteriously. These killings have caused unrest in this peaceful East African nation. In a statement to the press, the police spokesman, Asan Kasingye dismissed claims that the killings were related. He reiterated that the authorities had no evidence pointing to the work of a serial killer. He implored Ugandan citizens to remain calm and to rest assured that investigations were still underway and that the perpetrators of these crimes would be brought to justice.

Reports by local media have told how a majority of the deceased women were assaulted sexually before being murdered. Many of these women died through strangulation.

The recent murder occurred on Monday. The killing was that of a young woman whose body was found near a car washing bay near Kampala town. This murder brings to 20 the number of women who have been murdered so far. On Tuesday, the police announced they had one suspect in custody. The suspect was found concealing himself at a healer’s shrine.

When the ministers charged with internal affairs and security failed to issue a report on the murders, an opposition parliamentarian raised a motion of suspending parliamentary sessions for an indefinite period. The lawmaker, Mr. Odonga Otto, is reported to have said that lawmakers had no business to conduct in the house up until they were appraised on the reason women were being murdered.

Convicted Killer Hopes To Avoid Execution

Convicted serial killer Gary Lee Sampson is taking one last shot at avoiding execution for his crimes. A federal jury handed Sampson the conviction in 2001. They agreed with federal prosecutors that Sampson carjacked and murdered Jonathan Rizzo.

At the time, Rizzo was 19 years old and a college student. Sampson was 57 years old. The jury believed that it was fair for Sampson to die for his crime. Sampson has spent the last 16 years trying to challenge the execution.

In addition to his 2001 conviction for carjacking and murder, Sampson is also serving a life sentence for killing Philip McCloskey. McCloskey was a 69-year old plumber. The murder occurred in Massachusetts. His third killing occurred in New Hampshire. In that case, Robert Whitney was the victim.

Sampson committed the Rizzo and McCloskey murders using a similar pattern. He coaxed each victim into allowing him to ride in their car. Then, he told the men to drive to a secluded area. Once they were there, he stabbed them to death. In the Whitney case, he strangled his victim with a rope.

The convicted serial killer recently filed a new appeal after previous efforts failed. Most of the substance of his appeal is against the death penalty. Sampson’s lawyers say that he’s not completely culpable for his crimes because he had brain damage at the time of the killings.

A U.S. District Court judge shot down Sampson’s previous request to overturn his death penalty conviction. Judge Leo T. Sorokin based his ruling on the brutality of the crimes. He said that the murders of the three men were incomprehensible, and that Sampson’s death sentence was not unjust given the seriousness of the crimes.

Although Sampson received his conviction in 2001, the courts didn’t hand down the death sentence until 2003. Since that time, Sampson has engaged in a serious of appeals. At one point, a judge reversed his death sentence. However, court procedures then remanded the matter for a second trial. Sampson then chose to plead guilty. That’s when a federal jury decided to sentence Sampson to death.

The court overturned the first death sentence because of a jury irregularity. They said that the juror should have disclosed more information about her personal history in order to make sure that the jury was fair. If Sampson continues to pursue his case, the matter could end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Richard Posner’s Jury Instructions Reversed on Appeal

Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit learned the hard way that writing jury instructions is more difficult than it looks. In February of 2016, Posner presided over the United States of America v. Enkhchimeg Uliziibayar “Eni” Edwards, a criminal trial heard in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern District. Edwards, a naturalized U.S. citizen, faced two charges each of witness tampering and making false statements on an official questionnaire for federal employment.

The jury convicted Edwards on all four counts. Edwards subsequently appealed all of her convictions. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the two making false statements on an official questionnaire for federal employment convictions. The appellate court overturned Edwards’ two witness tampering convictions.

Edwards challenged her witness tampering convictions based on the fact the jury instructions omitted an element of the offense. Witness tampering requires a finding by the jury that the defendant acted corruptly. Before the start of the trial, prosecutors presented Posner with jury instructions that substantially followed extant Seventh Circuit witness tampering instructions. Posner objected to the inclusion of the standard language stating that it had too much “legal jargon” and insisting, “You don’t need ‘corruptly.”

Defense counsel objected, stating, “by eliminating some of this technical language which has been approved by the Seventh Circuit … it will weaken the burden that the government must meet in a criminal case.” Posner overruled the objection and presented the jury instructions without the corruptly element to the jury. A required element of the crime was therefore absent from the jury instructions.

The appellate court overturned the defendant’s two witness tampering convictions due to the court’s failure to adequately instruct the jury on the intent element of the crime. According to the appellate court, the instructions,”failed to inform the jury about an essential element of the witness tampering charges—the corrupt mental state that distinguishes unlawful from innocent interference with an investigation.”

Posner often writes his own jury instructions when sitting as a trial judge in the Seventh Circuit’s district court. He’s a strong proponent of appellate judges getting experience with the demands placed on trial judges. It turns out being a trial judge might be a bit more complicated than Posner expected.

Pakistani Refugee Victimized in Michigan

A teenage girl who escaped abuse and oppression in Afghanistan and Pakistan suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her Michigan foster father. Walker resident Nathan Bosma faces several counts of abuse and criminal sexual conduct charges as they relate to the teenage girl. Although he maintains his innocence, he’s reached a plea agreement with prosecutors for the State of Michigan.

The victim lived in dire conditions in Afghanistan before fleeing to Pakistan. There, her father arranged her marriage to a 70-year-old when she was only twelve. The girl fled her family and ran to the Benazir Bhutto Center for Women in Islamabad. They arranged to send her to foster care in the United States. Bethany Christian Services was the U.S. social service organization that arranged for her travel to the United States and placement with Bosma in his upscale home.

42 year old Nathan Chad Bosma said he believed the girl initiated the contact herself. Even so, Bosma accepted guilty pleas to two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree. This is a much lighter pair of charges than Bosma faced initially. State prosecutors first charged Bosma with eight different criminal sexual conduct counts each relating to unlawful sexual conduct with the teenage victim.

He finds out his sentence on September 19. He faces no more than one year in a county jail. The victim’s new foster mother says that the sentence is too light for the crime. She says it amounts to a “slap on the wrist.”

The victim’s new foster mother criticizes Bosma for his hypocrisy. She says that he claimed Christian values and forced the child to pray. Allegedly, he even assaulted her once during what was supposed to be prayer time. She said that Bosma went through Bethany Christian Service’s screening process and was well aware of her history when he chose to abuse her. Despite the organization’s screening process, they approved Bosma and sent the girl to her home.

The girl’s new foster mother says that the girl is emotionally traumatized by the abuse especially since she was sent to the United States for her safety. She said that despite Bosma’s claims that the girl may be older than 16, the girl is emotionally a child, and she was put in Bosma’s care for her safety and well being. The girl’s new foster mother said that she can live safely in her home for as long as she needs to.

Penn State Prosecutor Faces Ethics Charges

Allegations that a prosecutor had inappropriate contact with a judge have landed one Pennsylvania attorney in hot water. Attorney Stacy Parks Miller is defending herself against allegations that she had unethical contact with a judge. The allegations say that the prosecutor contacted the judge via text. They also say that she had a fake Facebook page. Miller is the District Attorney of Centre County.

Miller prosecuted the high-profile cases of several Penn State fraternity members. It’s alleged that the fraternity members caused the death of a pledge because of their hazing practices. Miller answers to the charges of ethical violations at a hearing on November 29. Since the allegations came to light, Miller lost reelection to a challenger in the primary election.

The ethics complaint alleges that Miller used a Facebook page to scope out information about defendants. They say she became Facebook friends with at least two people facing criminal charges. The people involved didn’t have counsel to represent them. The ethics complaint alleges that she did this in order to build her cases against the charged individuals. The evidence against Miller includes allegations that she told her staff to use the fake profile page to friend defendants and witnesses in order to “snoop.”

The charges also include allegations that Miller had inappropriate conduct with a judge about pending cases. Officials say that Miller texted a judge more than 80 times in a six month period. They say that the texts were about cases. Under Pennsylvania ethics rules, it’s inappropriate for an attorney to have contact with the judge in the case without informing the other party about the contact. Attorney ethics rules say that fairness in court proceedings requires both sides to be able to know what the other says to the court and the judge. An attorney who fails to follow this rule can face discipline.

For her defense, Miller says that the Facebook account was part of honest police work. She says that the community faces challenges with bath salts, and the account was necessary to do research and carry out law enforcement activities. She also says she wasn’t the one who initiated the contact with the judge. She said it was the judge who initiated the contact.

She says that officials went about getting copies of the texts using illegal means. Miller says that there’s more to the story than officials are saying. She says that she hopes the truth comes out during the ethical proceedings.

American Couple Sentenced For Five Murders In Panama City

Two U.S. citizens have been sentenced in the murders of five people by a Panama City court, after having been found guilty of crimes related to the deaths. William Dathan Holbert and ex-wife Laura Reese face long prison terms as a result of a guilty verdict recently handed down in the case.
Holbert is facing 47 years in prison for robbing and killing five other American tourists, while in the Caribbean destination spot. Ms. Reese was sentenced to 26 years for the part she played in the crimes.
William Holbert Admitted To A Long-Running Scheme
In speaking with authorities, Holbert acknowledged killing five people between 2007 and 2010 for the purposes of stealing their property in the Bocas del Toro area. The confession came after William and Laura Reese were detained, while trying to cross the border from Costa Rica to Nicaragua in 2010.
Claudia Alvarado, an attorney working on behalf of Holbert, says they will likely appeal the sentencing.
In 2010, an investigation discovered five bodies (four adults and one child) buried on property owned by Mr. Holbert.
Mike Brown, his wife, and young son were the first victims, having been murdered by Holbert in 2007. Upon investigating, police found reason to suspect Brown, himself, had been living under an alias, making it difficult to uncover his true identity or determine where he was from.
In 2010, William Holbert again claimed more lives. He murdered Cheryl Lynn Hughes of St. Louis Missouri, who was living in Panama and operating a small hotel. William also killed Bo Icelar, the former owner of a Santa Fe, New Mexico art gallery.
William Holbert Has A Troubled Past
Even before he killed Mike Brown, Holbert was often in trouble with the law, expressing a propensity for criminal behavior. His problems began when he divorced a previous wife in North Carolina, which led him to filing for bankruptcy and forced him to sell his landscaping business.
While still living in the state, he met and later married Laura Reese. William sold a piece of real estate that he didn’t legally own for $200,000. When the buyers notified police, Holbert and Reese were forced to leave the state. A high-speed chase ensued with authorities pursuing the couple across multiple state lines from North Carolina to Wyoming.
Holbert and Reese had fled to Panama, but a new investigation initiated by Panama police forced the couple to again hit the road. William Holbert and Laura Reese were trying to escape, when they were arrested at the Nicaraguan border.

 

 

 

 

Martin Shkreli May Actually Go To Prison

Martin Shkreli had faced a long trial and he may go to prison. Even though he is well known by jacking up medication prices, his prison term will be for something completely unrelated. The courts were more interested at looking back on his history of managing hedge funds

After review of the jury, they court had found Martin Shkreli guilty of securities fraud. This crime can potentially have a 20-year prison sentence, but it is still up in the air on how long he will serve (if he serves any time at all).

Although it was one of the lesser charges, he was caught stealing money from one of his companies in order to reimburse damages for investors. Basically, the jury did see that his intentions were good by making things right for his investors but it was still technically illegal.

What Martin’s legal team had mostly focused on during the trial was by showing how there was no malicious intent with his actions. He also explained how Martin put in a lot of hours and sacrificed from his own personal life in order to make his customers happy. In the end, there were no losses and there were only a few white lies behind it. In the end, a crime was still committed in order for him to turn things around.

An Unbiased Jury?
Considering his reputation as a greedy mastermind that is raising the cost of medications, you would think that the jury would throw the book at him. In fact, the jury was asked if they knew about his involvement in the pharmaceutical industry. If jurors had said yes, they were automatically excluded from the trial. This means that it was unlikely that previous bad press had influenced the outcome.

Shkreli’s Infamous Online Persona
Most of the people following the drama behind Shkreli are likely younger social media users. He constantly acts cocky through Twitter and Facebook. He had even mocked the jurors, the trial and the press with the confidence that he will win the trial. He called it a witch hunt by people who don’t know anything about his industry.

He even has a tight-knit group of followers that watch him live streaming through Youtube throughout the trial. When he was sentenced, he still live streamed from his apartment while drinking beer and cracking jokes about his future prison life.

It still remains to be seen if a jail sentence will be made and for how long.

 

 

 

Sheriff Joe Arpaio could go to Jail

A federal judge ruled that former Sheriff Joe Arpaio was guilty of criminal contempt earlier this week. Arpaio had once referred to himself as America’s toughest sheriff and was known for his over-the-edge tactics. He served as the Sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona for several years. Arpaio was accused of contempt of continuing to do racial profiling by targeting immigrants in patrols. Judge Susan Bolton of the US District Court passed the verdict in court papers that were signed at the start of the week. Bolton noted that Arpaio was aware of the court order and the policy that detained immigrants should be turned over to federal immigration. The evidence that was presented showed that Arpaio had acted in utter disregard of the order. She wrote that he even went as far as making it public that he would continue to target immigrants racially. He had also abdicated his responsibility by refusing to follow the law.

Arpaio is now 85 years-old. Arpaio mounted a defense saying that the order was not clear enough for him and that it was not his intention to violate it. His defense attorney blamed the lawman’s former attorney for failing to represent him adequately. The attorney had failed to seek clarification from the judge or explain the order to the client. The federal prosecutors in the case argued that the defiance was done intentionally. They believed he did this because he felt that he could get away with it. He could be looking at six months in jail if he is found guilty. The sentencing is scheduled to be done in the first week of October.

Jack and Dennis Wilenchik are Arpaio’s attorneys. They said that their client would appeal the verdict in favor of a jury trial. They said that Bolton had violated the Constitution by failing to read the verdict to Arpaio in court. They also believe that the verdict did not reflect the statements that were made by witnesses in the case. They added that a jury would have ruled in his favor, and that is why they are pushing for a jury trial. The former sheriff became involved in court cases when a class action law suit was filed against him for racial discrimination ten years ago. The group of Latinos that filed the lawsuit made allegations that the sheriff’s policies were unconstitutional. Arpaio believes that the investigations by the Justice Department are a witch hunt and hold no value.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/31/us/arpaio-found-guilty/index.html

 

 

Ohio Carries Out Their First Execution In Three Years, But It May Not Be The Last

In 2014, a controversial incident forced Ohio state officials to reconsider the death penalty. Although lethal injection has been carried out in a number of states without concern, the execution of Dennis McGuire didn’t go as planned. McGuire was seen gasping to breath and snorting, as though choking, for 15 minutes. Eventually, the inmate died, but the incident forced lawmakers to reconsider the death penalty and Ohio hasn’t performed a single execution since that incident.
Ohio Resumes Capital Punishment
Ronald Phillips holds the dubious honor of having been the first inmate to be put to death in the three years, since the execution of McGuire. At 10:43 a.m. on Wednesday, Phillips was executed via lethal injection. Carrying out Phillips’ death sentence seems to have been a test run for the state with reports surfacing that Ohio will now begin resuming executions.
In fact, the state has 138 inmates awaiting execution, which makes Ohio among the highest in terms of death row occupants. There are currently plans to continue the executions through 2020.
State executions have declined in recent years, as governments have researched drugs that would commit the act in a more humane fashion. Concerns are that the current method of lethal injection is cruel and painful, making it a contradiction to the U.S. constitution.

Who Was Ronald Phillips?
The fact that Phillips was the first man to be executed in three years raises curiosity about his crimes. In fact, Ronald was convicted in 1993 for raping and murdering 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans, his girlfriend’s daughter.
Phillips was just 19, when he was brought to trial, and his lawyer used that fact to try to obtain leniency in sentencing. The court wasn’t sympathetic to the defense and sentenced Mr. Phillips to death.
Since that sentence, Ronald launched an appeal himself, asking to be granted a stay from execution. He told the Supreme Court that he has changed, since committing crimes against Sheila Evans, and that he had become a new person. His request was denied.
Timothy F. Sweeney and Lisa M. Lagos, attorneys for Ron Phillips, had released a statement expressing their belief that Ronald had been changed by his years in prison. They said he resigned himself to his fate and had learned remorse, compassion, and respect for others.
At the time of his execution, Ronald Phillips expressed his remorse and guilt to his victim’s family.
“To the Evans family, I’m sorry you had to live so long with my evil actions,” he said. “All those years I prayed you’d forgive me and find it in your heart to forgive and have mercy on me.”

The Details of O.J. Simpson’s Recent Parole Hearing

Orenthal James Simpson, often shortened to O.J. Simpson, was recently granted parole at his hearing on Thursday, July 20th. Simpson has requested to be released in the state of Florida to fulfill his upcoming parole agreements’ requirements of living near a support system consisting of close friends and family to help him stay out of trouble. The state of Nevada has submitted documentation to Florida’s Department of Corrections, of which the Sunshine State has 45 days to reply. He is expected to be released as soon as October 1st, although the date isn’t set in stone.

The former football standout made headlines in 1994 for his alleged involvement in the double murder of his former wife Nicole Brown and suspected romantic partner Ron Goldman. Shortly after the murder occurred, the Los Angeles Police Department requested that Simpson turn himself in to authorities. His failure to do so resulted in one of television’s most-watched live news stories, millions of Americans watching as it unfolded. Simpson drove his infamous white Ford Bronco across California, followed by a wealth of police cruisers and helicopters. He drove until he nearly ran out of gas, finally parking at his place of residence in Brentwood, California.

Although Juice Simpson gained notorious fame from that incident, his recent parole grant was unrelated, instead linked to a 2007 incident at a Las Vegas hotel. Simpson was supposed to purchase sports memorabilia that he formerly owned from an established dealer. He brought along several associates, helping the USC Trojans, 49ers, and Bills standout forcefully take hundreds of items he used to own. O.J. Simpson was convicted of an astounding thirteen charges, the most serious of which were kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy.

Simpson was sentenced to 33 years of incarceration at Lovelace Correctional Center in the desert hills of Nevada for that 2007 incident. In Thursday’s parole hearing, O.J. appeared over a live video stream to a Nevada parole board consisting of four members. They inquired about what Simpson learned from his actions, why he stole the items, and what he plans to do upon release.

O.J. Simpson showed absolutely zero remorse for his actions in the hearing. However, remorse isn’t considered in Nevada for granting parole, instead looking at other criteria like past behavior during incarceration. The former athletic star exhibited a range of behaviors in his testimony, ranging from defensive to comedic, before being granted parole.

He shouted “Oh, God, oh!” as he left the hearing, excited to soon be a free man.

Federal Court Affirms Citizens’ Right To Film Police

A U.S. federal court recently confirmed that all U.S. residents have the right to film the police in the course of their duties. Although quite a few legal scholars already held this opinion, this is the first appeals court ruling affirming the right to film for the Third Circuit. After this significant ruling, half of all U.S. states have judicially protected police filming rights. The most recent ruling elucidates that this right is an integral part of First Amendment freedoms. This is a major victory for policing reform advocates. According to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, police officers must accept filming because they are public officials doing their duties in the public realm.

This ruling is particular relevant during a time when relations between local communities and U.S. police departments remain fraught. This Third Circuit ruling may well inspire many departments to conduct their operations with greater transparency. The rise of handheld devices with cameras has made it increasingly common for videos of police actions to make their way online.

In its unanimous decision, the Third Circuit affirmed the positive value of filming the police. The court argued that as long as those filming do not directly interfere with the police, such filming helps ensure that the local government is held accountable for its actions and policies. The court also argued that this ruling does not create winners and losers. On the contrary, the ruling stated, the filming of police fuels a dialogue that can ultimately benefit police officers themselves. After this historic ruling, as many as 60 percent of U.S. residents live in states where the right to film police is judicially protected. Though no federal court has contradicted this right in any state, the question of filming remains unaddressed in half of the states.

The Supreme Court has not had yet its say on this specific legal issue. However, a number of legal scholars have noted that in the past decade, the Supreme Court has adopted a fairly expansive view of the First Amendment. Indeed, the Roberts Court has consistently defended the First Amendment vigorously. It remains to be seen if the Supreme Court specifically address the recording of police officers. If this does happen, legal scholars believe it could be one of the most momentous judgments in the recent history of the nation’s highest court. For now, people across the nation have been emboldened to record the police in a variety of different settings.

Failing Mental Health in Alabama’s Prisons

Mental health services in the United States are not as readily available to all Americans as they should be. Low-income people with mental health issues are less likely to visit mental health treatment centers; similarly, people in rural areas are less likely to visit them, too.

It goes without saying, but incarcerated inmates in prison are incredibly underrepresented in both mental and physical health treatment. Most prisons do not allow a number of effective medications to help inmates live better, symptom-free lives, as they are at inflated risks for abuse. The state of Alabama’s prisons have recently been criticized for lacking proper mental health treatment services.

Prisons in the state of Alabama have been accused by a federal court for violating the Eighth Amendment, which states that “. . . cruel and unusual punishments [shall not be] inflicted.” The court case in reference, titled Braggs v. Dunn, composes 302 pages of evidence detailing the lack of sufficient mental health treatments.

Mr. Jefferson Dunn, the face of Alabama’s prisons, formally holding the title of Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, agreed with plaintiffs that current mental health treatments are lacking. Suicide rates have risen increasingly in the past two calendar years, along with more cases of self-harm and mental health symptoms overall getting worse.

Room in Alabama prisons are also considered inadequate, with 23,328 prisoners housed in September 2016, compared to a maximum holding capacity of 13,318 prisoners. This equates to an approximate occupancy rate of 175%, grossly exceeding the allowable limit. Staffing is also not doing as well as required, with too few counseling staff being available to deal with every prisoner’s mental health issues. Alabama prisons don’t even have enough room to segregate those who have harmed themselves or threatened to do so, resulting in more self-harm incidents than necessary.

Prisoners who threaten self-harm or suicide have been placed in unsafe areas, resulting in more danger to prisoners than necessary. This fact combined with others mentioned herein have collectively contributed to the failing state of Alabama’s prison system.

In order to meet the needs of Alabama’s currently lacking prisons, about $25 million dollars must be expended towards the system to meet legally-mandated requirements, according to Alabama senator Cam Ward.

Drug Laws Changing

One of the biggest political issues today involving the legal field is around drug laws in the United States. Many people feel like the drug laws in this country are too strict. Millions of people are in jail across the country for buying or selling drugs. However, there are other people who are able to do things much more damaging to society and get out earlier.

Over time, it is vital that this area is looked at by those in the legal field. However, the legal profession as a whole is faced with some big issues. Some states are starting to take matters into their own hands by legalizing certain types of drugs.

Legal Implications

For many states, one of the largest costs in operating their budget is the cost of housing inmates. Many people believe that with less strict drug laws, more money within the state could be devoted to things like education. However, there are other people who believe that this is a great source of spending for the state to keep drug dealers off of the streets.

In certain states, some drugs are only legal in specific situations. These states are seeing a major decrease in crime related to drug offenses and it is saving them money. It will be interesting to see if other people follow suit.

Legalizing Drugs?

There are many people who have concerns about legalizing drugs for a variety of reasons. Drugs have a lot of damaging properties in them. The people who are not in favor of drugs tend to think that people cannot make decisions for themselves. This is a debate that is going to continue in the years ahead across the country.

Unhealthy Lifestyles

One of the biggest issues for many people today is living a lifestyle that is not healthy. Over time, people need to realize that the choices they make are not healthy with the foods they eat. A huge percentage of the population is obese, and it takes immediate action to mitigate any risk in this area to your health.

This is why so many people think it is crazy that drugs are illegal. People are allowed to be overweight, but they are not allowed to do drugs that make them feel better. This is a debate that will not be settled for many years, and the legal profession has a lot of work to do with these changes.

Read More: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/sessions-sentencing-memo/526029/

Grand Jury Indicts Chicago Policy Officers in Laquan McDonald Case

The shooting of Laquan McDonald captured headlines when it was caught on tape. A grand jury is now indicting three Chicago policy officers. Felony charges are being brought against the three officers who are alleged to have engaged in a cover-up after the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in October of 2014.

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was the shooter highlighted in the video. Van Dyke is seen shooting the 17-year-old Laquan McDonald over a dozen times in a video that drew national attention and outrage. It wasn’t for another year after the shooting, however, that a court demanded the infamous dashcam video by unveiled to the public.

Officer Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in the wake of the on-tape fatal shooting of the young Chicago teenager. The public and legal authorities were nonetheless troubled when the Chicago Police Department seemed to tell a radically different version of events than what the video apparently showed.

The very recent Cook County grand jury indictment alleges that three officers on the scene of the fatal shooting that October night in 2014 actively concealed evidence and misdirected attention in the subsequent police report on the fatal shooting. The grand jury’s indictment picked these three officers because they supposedly went far beyond simply subscribing to the code of silence that prevails among some police departments in the aftermath of a complicated case.

Police officers David March, Thomas Gaffney, and Joseph Walsh is each alleged to have misdirecting evidence and thwarting an independent criminal investigation from taking place. The grand jury asserts that the three officers knew that public scrutiny of the dashcam video would be problematic for the Chicago Police Department. The three officers are further being accused of conspiring with each other and preventing other law enforcement authorities from taking a hard look at the evidence for and against Officer Van Dyke’s conduct.

The three police officers indicted by the grand jury are being hit with three felony counts. Two have already been alluded to – conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The third charge is for official misconduct and indicts the officers for willfully obfuscating the evidence. In the meantime, the three officers are not being held in custody. That said, each is expected to appear at an arraignment in about two weeks.

Two of the three indicted Chicago police officers are no longer hired by the Chicago Police Department.

Bill Cosby’s Trial Ends in Mistrial

After 53 hours of deliberation, the judge in Bill Cosby’s trial says that the jury is hopelessly deadlocked. Judge Steven O’Neill  says that he hopes to schedule a new trial within 120 days in the case where Cosby is accused of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand who is director of operations of Temple University’s women’s basketball team in 2004 when the alleged assault occurred. Bill Cosby plead not guilty, although he had paid Constand an undisclosed amount of money following her civil suit in 2006.

Why Cosby’s Mistrial?

The jury in their sixth day had already asked the judge 12 questions including the definition of reasonable doubt. Five of them were requests to review what Constand and Cosby said in court. In the end, however, the jury asked the judge for a definition of reasonable doubt shortly before the mistrial was declared.

Camille Cosby’s Statement

While Bill Cosby who is now 79 made no statement after the mistrial was declared, a spokesman for Cosby’s wife Camille read a statement which included calling the:

  • District attorney-heinously and exploitively ambitious
  • Judge- Overtly and arrogantly collaborating with the district attorney
  • Counsel for the accuser- Unethical
  • General media- Blatantly vicious entities

What did Bill Cosby Allegedly do in 2004?

Bill Cosby admits that he had sex with Constand in 2004. He, however, says that it was consensual. He also says that he gave Constand three half-pills of Benadryl. About a year later, Constand told her mother that Cosby raped her. She reported the incident to the police a few days later. At that time, the district attorney did not press charges because there was a lack of evidence.

Cosby’s Health

Cosby’s lead attorney says that he is very worried about his client’s health on the day after the mistrial was declared. Cosby who is 79 years old is legally blind. He uses a cane for mobility. Cosby was arrested in December 2016, and he appeared to stumble entering the building where his passport was revoked. At that time, bond was set at $1 million.

Possible Outcome

If the district attorney retires the case, then Cosby could be sentenced to 10 years in prison. He would also have to register as a sex offender if found guilty. While the district attorney has said that he will retry the expensive case, he has not filed the paperwork to start the process again.