Results matching “GPS”

A Black Life that Didn't Matter

The Washington Post reports (emphasis added):

Zaire Kelly was returning home from a college prep course and was less than 300 feet from his front door when authorities said a man tried to rob him along a footpath in a small park in Northeast Washington.

The 16-year-old Zaire -- a standout high school senior and track athlete -- used a pocket knife to defend himself Wednesday night, D.C. police said, and stabbed the attacker in the abdomen. Police said the would-be robber had a gun and shot Zaire once in the head....

Police identified the assailant as Sequan Keyleo Gillis, 19, who had been freed from jail two weeks ago to await trial on a charge he took a vehicle without permission, and he had been wearing a court-ordered GPS ankle bracelet to track his movements.

It's certainly comforting that the criminal justice system was "track[ing] his movements" while he murdered a young black man with a world of promise.

This sort of preventable murder of African Americans  --  preventable if we changed our thinking from naivete' and "community supervision" to a decent regard for the next victim  --  has become so routine that it's difficult any longer to think of laxity as mere foolishness instead of head-in-the-sand racism.  

Next Time, We'll Steal Something Else

On a day when a little humor could come in handy, take a look at this story.

It is an only in Silicon Valley kind of story, as police say high-tech thieves were caught stealing thousands of dollars worth of GPS tracking devices from a Santa Clara tech company.

"These devices kind of look like cell phone chargers, so they probably thought they had some kind of street value," Roambee Corporation Co-Founder Vidya Subramanian.....

"The moment we realized they had a box of trackers, we went into recovery mode," Subramanian said. "We notified the police and equipped them to track the devices, and in about 5 or 6 hours, it was done."

Before making off with about $18,000 worth of the devices, the thieves grabbed a beer out of the fridge and cut themselves in the process, leaving fingerprints and blood evidence.

News Scan

Released Sex Offender Charged With Murder:  A sex offender released from prison last November has been charged with raping and murdering an Ohio State college student.  Fox News reports that 29-year-old Brian Golsby was arrested last Sunday for the murder of 21-year-old Reagan Tokes.  Tokes' nude body was found at a park entrance last week.  Golsby was released from prison last November after serving six years for the 2011 robbery and rape of a woman in front of her 2-year-old child. Without a plea bargain in that case, his conviction would have carried a sixteen-year sentence.  Harrison Hove of WCMH in Columbus reports that Golsby has a record of committing crimes since he was a teenager.  He was on GPS monitoring when he allegedly kidnapped, robbed, raped and murdered the young woman. 

Florida Could End Gun Free Zones:  Two Florida State Legislators have introduced bills which would eliminate all state-imposed restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons for licensed concealed-carry permit holders.  Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald reports that the two bills (SB908/HB803) introduced by Senator Dennis Baxley and Rep. Don Hanfeldt would give Florida's over 1.7 million permit holders the right to be armed almost anywhere in the state.  Senator Baxley said the measure "tests the appetite for legislators to eliminate the illusion called gun-free zones. This bill eliminates the sterile target we have created with noble intentions."  An anti-gun advocate said "These gun-happy legislators have gone too far."  

News Scan

Trial Begins for CA Sex Offender who Killed Four Women:  One of two convicted sex offenders charged with raping and killing four Southern California women while wearing an electronic monitor began his trial on Wednesday.  The AP reports that Steven Dean Gordon, 47, and Franc Cano, 30, who will be tried separately at a later date, have pleaded not guilty to rape and murder with special circumstances.  Both men are registered sex offenders with convictions in separate cases of lewd and lascivious acts on a child.  The men are believed to have known each other since 2010, when they cut off their GPS devices and fled to Alabama, where they were arrested.  Two years later, they cut off their devices again and fled to Las Vegas and were apprehended after two weeks on the run.  In 2013 and 2014, Gordon and Cano randomly targeted, raped and murdered four women, three of whom have never been found.  Gordon confessed to the murders during grand jury proceedings but the judge has excluded it from his trial because Gordon had told police prior to divulging the details of the killings that he didn't want to talk.  Both Gordon and Cano could face the death penalty if convicted.

Cellphones a Continuing Problem in CA Prisons:  The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has confiscated over 8,000 cellphones from inmates across the state so far this year, highlighting the ongoing problem facing corrections officials in keeping cellphones out of prisons.  Andria Borba and Leslie Donaldson of KPIX 5 report that state inmates have used contraband cellphones to coordinate at least one prison escape, and there are at least 79 documented cases of victim intimidation over Facebook by inmates on cellphones.  To combat the problem, CDCR installed a blocking system called Managed Access in 18 of the 33 state prisons, but it has proven to block and interrupt an average of 150,000 calls and texts of other people in close proximity to the prison, causing concern over its potential to interfere with emergency calls.  Another device about to be installed in every California prison, Cell Sense, consists of a portable tower that has the ability to detect cell phones even if the battery is removed.

Defending Prop 66:  The ACLU has filed suit to halt resumption of executions in California, despite Californians voting in favor of expediting the death penalty process.  Listen to CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger defend Proposition 66 on KFI's John and Ken show.

News Scan

Abducted PA Woman Found Dead:  A Pennsylvania woman abducted Tuesday by her estranged husband, who was released on bond for charges of domestic abuse against her, has been found dead.  Lisa Washington of CBS reports that Tierne Ewing, 48, was abducted from a home at gunpoint by Kevin Ewing, 47, and taken to a wooded area.  Police eventually tracked the couple to a barn and, upon approach, heard gunshots.  Tierne was discovered inside with a fatal gunshot wound to the head while Kevin was rushed to the hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  Kevin was arrested in July for holding Tierne hostage for nearly two weeks, abusing and threatening her after finding text messages on her phone.  He was released on bond and fitted with a monitoring device that had no GPS, which he cut off Monday.  After being cut off, the device did not send a signal or alarm.  "My daughter's dead and he's sick and the damn judges let him go," said Tierne's father, Richard Kopko.  "There's something wrong with the judging system in this country," he added.

TX Death Row Inmate May Have Faked Mental Illness:  A Texas death row inmate is one step closer to execution after an appeals court ruled Monday that he may have faked mental illness to avoid execution for the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend and her young daughter 23 years ago.  The AP reports that the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals made a ruling in the case of Gerald Eldridge, 52, agreeing with a lower court that ruled three years ago that while there was evidence in favor of Eldridge's mental illness claims, there was also extensive evidence of inconsistencies, particularly that he faked symptoms.  Eldridge is on death row for the January 1993 slayings of his former girlfriend and her nine-year-old daughter in a shooting attack that also wounded his then-seven-year-old son and the woman's boyfriend.  Years earlier, in 1985, Eldridge was sentenced to eight years in prison for an earlier shooting that wounded three men, but was released three years later.  He then returned to prison in 1990 for beating his son and was paroled after four months.  His initial execution date was in 2009.

Stanford Swimmer Goes Free on Friday:  The former Stanford University swimmer convicted in a sexual assault case that sparked public uproar after he was given a sentence that was said to be too lenient, is scheduled to be released from jail Friday after serving three months, just half of his sentence.  Andrea Noble of the Washington Times reports that Brock Turner, 20, was convicted in March of three felony counts of assault with intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person for the January 2015 attack of a woman at a fraternity party.  He faced up to 14 years in prison if convicted, but prosecutors recommended a six-year sentence.  Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, however, handed down a sentence of just six-months in jail.  Persky, who faced a recall effort for his sentencing decision, announced last week that he would be transferring from criminal to civil court.

News Scan

Man out on Bond for Beating Wife has Kidnapped her:  A Pennsylvania man out on bond for beating his wife has reportedly abducted her at gunpoint and abandoned the car they were believed to be traveling in near a wooded area, prompting a massive search.  Lisa Washington of CBS reports that Kevin Ewing, 47, took Tierne Ewing, 48, from a home at gunpoint on Tuesday, which comes nearly two months after he was arrested for holding her hostage, abusing her and threatening her.  Following Kevin's arrest in July, Tierne told police that Kevin had pistol-whipped her, spit on her, tied her hands, branded her with a metal hot dog stick, locked her in a closet and threatened her with a gun to her head while they were camping in the woods.  Soon after, he was released on bond and fitted with an electronic ankle monitor and ordered to remain in his home.  The ankle monitor was not programmed with GPS.

CA Lawmakers Pass Rape Bill Inspired by Stanford Case: 
California lawmakers passed legislation Monday that would close a loophole that allowed the lenient sentence given to a Standford University swimmer two months ago following his conviction for sexual assault of an unconscious woman.  Dan Whitcomb of Reuters reports that public outrage ensued in June after Brock Turner, 20, was sentenced to six months in jail by a judge after being convicted of assault with intent to commit rape, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person for attacking a woman at a party in January 2015.  Prosecutors had asked that Turner be sentenced to six years in state prison.  Under current state law, the charges against Turner are not considered rape because they did not involve penile penetration and, furthermore, only in cases of rape or sexual assault where force is used, but not when the victim is unconscious or intoxicated and unable to resist, results in a mandatory prison term.  The new law, AB 2888, would change the definition and also eliminate the discretion of judges to sentence defendants convicted of crimes like those committed by Turner to probation.  The bill is now headed to Gov. Brown desk.

Chicago on Track to Break Shooting & Homicide Records:  As August comes to a close, Chicago is on pace to surpass the number of shootings and homicides for the entirety of 2015.  Madison Park and Thom Patterson of CNN report that over the past weekend, from Friday through Sunday, eight people died and another 64 were wounded in shootings across the city, with a total of 459 people killed and 2,818 injured in shooting incidents by Sunday's end.  By this time last year, 331 people had been killed and by the end of the year, 2,988 had been injured in shootings.  The city currently averages about 82 shootings per week.  Some blame the violence on illegal guns from out of state while others attribute the increased bloodshed on more impudent gang violence.

Does the death penalty deter? Of course

Jeff Jacoby has this article in the Boston Globe with the above title. The article is also available (with less hoop jumping) own Jacoby's own site.

It doesn't take a social-science degree to grasp the real-world difference between facing vs. not facing a potential death sentence. Criminals grasp it too.

Dmitry Smirnov did. A resident of British Columbia, Smirnov was smitten with Jitka Vesel, a pretty Chicago woman he'd met online playing "World of Warcraft" in 2008 and then dated for several weeks. When Vesel ended the brief relationship, Smirnov took it badly. He returned to Canada, but kept pursuing Vesel by phone and online. When she broke off communication with him, he began plotting to kill her.

Smirnov returned to the United States in 2011, bought a gun and ammunition, and drove back to Chicago. He attached a GPS device to Vesel's car so he could track her movements. On the evening of April 13, he tailed her to the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum in Oak Park, Ill., where she was a curator and board member. When she came out after a meeting, Smirnov ambushed her. He shot her repeatedly, firing multiple rounds into the back of her head even after she had crumpled to the ground.

A deranged suitor? Maybe -- but Smirnov wasn't too deranged to first check out whether Illinois was a death penalty state. He headed back to Chicago to murder Vesel only after learning that Illinois had recently abolished capital punishment. When he was questioned afterward by police, according to prosecutors, he told them he had confirmed Illinois' no-death-penalty status "as recently as the morning of the murder." In an e-mail sent to a friend after the fact, Smirnov -- who voluntarily surrendered to the police -- made clear that he knew what to expect. "Illinois doesn't have the death penalty, so I'll spend the rest of my life in prison," he wrote.


Mr. Second Chance

Those favoring reduced sentences emphasize the moral imperative of giving second chances.  It's "who we are."  We can't judge a person by the worst moment of his life. America has 5% of the world's population but 493% of the world's prisoners. 

Heard this before?

Here's something you won't hear from the groups that specialize in promoting softer sentencing: We're already soft, right here in the nation's capital. We've been soft for years. We know what it produces  --  violent crime.

Who are the victims, the ones you also won't hear about from those groups?

It's not the lobbyists and ideologues hanging out at their Georgetown and Bethesda parties.  It's overwhelmingly the African American working class, consigned to neighborhoods the lobbyists wouldn't be caught dead in (or would only be caught dead in, I'm not sure which).

How do we know this?  Not from Fox News.  Not from Breitbart.  From the Washington Post.  The opening paragraphs from its superb and shocking article, the second of a continuing series, follow.

News Scan

Two Officers Shot, One Fatally, in San Diego:  A San Diego police officer was shot and killed and his partner wounded during a late night traffic stop Thursday.  Veteran officers Jonathan DeGuzman and Wade Irwin were both wearing bulletproof vests and body cams when they stopped the suspect vehicle.  AP writers Elliot Spagat and Julie Watson report that, as the driver opened fire, the officers called for backup.  Seconds later backup officers found officer DeGuzman fatally wounded and officer Irwin seriously injured.  Officers quickly located the suspect in a nearby ravine. While yet unnamed suspect was hospitalized for injuries, police were searching for a possible accomplice. 

Second Chance City:  WaPost writer Amy Brittain reports on a habitual felon from DC with a long record of property and violent felonies who was released from federal prison after serving two years for robbing a woman.  In spite of nine referrals to the FBI for threatening to rape prison guards, and multiple sexual offenses while incarcerated, 6' 4", 220lb, Antwon Pitt was never prosecuted.  Two months after his release Pitt cut off his GPS tracking device and was arrested on drug charges.  He was  promptly released by a federal magistrate who did not bother to review his criminal record.  Days later Pitt robbed a DC woman during an early morning home invasion.  The next week he raped a 40-year-old college professor in her home.  Brittain's piece examines Pitt's history of interactions with law enforcement and the federal system's repeated failure to identify him as a dangerous offender who should have been kept off the streets.    

Repeat Criminal Convicted, Again

In posts here and here, I discussed a Washington Post story detailing how repeated "second chances," all borne from the false promises of rehabilitation and redemption that underlie the sentencing reform movement, resulted in a brutal rape.  At the time of my entries, the rape had not been proved in court, and the defense lawyer indignantly and thunderously denied her client's involvement.

A jury has now found that defense counsel's story was so much baloney.  That by itself is hardly worth a new entry; made-up stories are the inventory of criminal defense.

What's worth a new entry is a reminder of how utterly preventable this rape was  --  if our system suffered less from willful and ideologically driven blindness about the criminal instincts of the defendants it's dealing with. 
Lest readers think there's going to be accountability from the Leniency Brigade that enabled violent rapist Antown Durrell Pitt  --  and now touts identical thinking in behalf of "sentencing reform"  --  the rest of the Post story is required reading:

Pitt's case is among at least 3,600 under the Youth Act since 2007 [legislation centered on rehabilitation and "second chances"] that have not been scrubbed from court records, according to Post research. Of those, 1,900 were felonies, including more than 700 for violent crimes.

CSOSA [Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency] spokesman Leonard A. Sipes Jr. said the agency followed its policies and procedures in the Pitt case.

"Mr. Pitt was assessed, closely supervised, referred for appropriate services and placed on GPS," Sipes said.

So if he's a rapist, hey, look, that's how the cookie crumbles.  

A more belligerent statement of government indifference to its most basic function is difficult to imagine.  

And these are the same people who'll be doing "community supervision" if and when Barack Obama and George Soros, et. al, succeed in selling Congress on the SRCA. 

If you want to know how the false promises of sentencing reform will actually work, today's lead story in the Washington Post is must reading.

In the print edition, the headline is:  "How a violent offender slipped through the DC justice system."  (The electronically available story has a slightly different headline, but is the same story).  

The sub-head is:  "Second Chance City  --  Lenient sentencing and lax enforcement can give many chances despite repeated criminal behavior."

It's the story of how a criminal justice system built on the supposedly humane premises of "sentencing reform" invited a hoodlum to escalate the behavior it had known about for years. The problem was not lack of knowledge; there was knowledge aplenty. The problem was the sentencing system's snickering indifference to the next victim.  

Nor is this a single episode, any more than the Wendell Callahan sentencing reform scandal is.  Indeed, the Post notes that this is "the first installment in a series" that will examine hundreds if not thousands of cases.  

I Am Not Making This Up, Either

In my entry here, I insisted that I was not making up the story that, while President Obama labors to reduce the sentences of heroin dealers in the midst of a heroin epidemic, he was meeting with rappers  --  yes, rappers  -- to plumb the depths of criminal justice issues.


Hey, look, people, this is one serious administration when it comes to dealing with crime.

The ankle bracelet is a condition of [Ross's] release after his 2015 kidnapping charge.

The U.S. Marshals Service picked Ross up in Georgia last June and collared him for kidnapping, aggravated assault and aggravated battery after a dispute between the rapper and a man working on one of his homes.

Ross and a bodyguard allegedly forced the worker into a guesthouse bedroom and pistol-whipped him with a .9-mm Glock, according to police.

Though he was initially held without bail, in July TMZ reported that a judge allowed him to be released on $2 million bail with a GPS ankle monitor.


The reason you know I am not making this up is that no one could make it up.



News Scan

Death Penalty Sought Against CA Baby Killer:  The district attorney for Santa Clara County is seeking the death penalty against a San Jose man.  Tracey Kaplan of the San Jose Mercury News reports that District Attorney Jeff Rosen will seek the death penalty against 42-year-old Alejandro Benitez, charged with murder in the commission of a dangerous felony, stemming from forcing a 16-month-old boy into a sex act "so brutal that it tore up his lips and throat before suffocating him."  Benitez has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer argues that because of a recent National Registry of Exonerations report showing that five inmates sentenced to death were exonerated last year -- though none of them were in California -- means that Rosen's decision "validates a deeply flawed system."  Other death penalty opponents argue that the extra costs incurred from a death penalty trial is reason enough to ban capital punishment and not seek it against Benitez.  CJLF legal director Kent Scheidegger, however, praised Rosen's decision, saying that no money is wasted "if it's one of the worst of the worst crimes," adding, "That's what a DA should do."

Cartels Using Kids to Divert BP Agents:  A Border Patrol union official testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee panel Thursday, revealing that drug cartels are bringing unaccompanied children to the Rio Grande valley in order to distract border security officials from smugglers and drug traffickers.  Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner reports that Brandon Judd, a National Border Patrol Council official, told the subcommittee that drug cartels have contributed to the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America that has grown steadily since 2011 by driving them to the middle of the desert, where the children then cross over the Rio Grande and surrender to Border Patrol.  This tactic "completely tied up our manpower and allowed the cartels to smuggle whatever they wanted across out border," said Judd.  He also noted that with every new policy adopted, such as Department of Homeland Security's recently reinstated policy requiring Border Patrol officials to release more of the immigrants they arrest, gives the cartels a new loophole to exploit.

License Reader Company Stirs Controversy in TX:  A controversial issue is arising out of Texas, as a tech company is requesting a 25% cut of debt collected from the "deadbeats and scofflaws" tracked down by its license plate-tracking system.  Perry Chiaramonte of Fox News reports that the tracking database, developed by Vigilant Solutions, captures license plate information and converts it into a computer-readable file that tags the plate number and a time stamp before being placed into the database, much like GPS technology.  The system has been scrutinized for both its possible infringement on Fourth Amendment rights and the way in which it has transformed Texas police agencies into employees of Vigilant, as they must pay the 25% cut in order to keep the equipment the company provides.  Dave Maass of the Electronic Frontier Foundation is challenging the system as an invasion of privacy and abuse of public safety protocols.

News Scan

Feds Plan to Cut Border Monitoring:  U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to reduce aerial surveillance on the Texas-Mexico border by roughly 50% compared to recent years.  Julian Aguilar of the Texas Tribune reports that the request comes as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports new surges of illegal immigrants crossing the border: between October and December 2015 in the Rio Grande Valley, 10,560 unaccompanied minors from Central America illegally crossed the border, a 115 percent increase from the year prior. Central American family units entering Texas increased by 170 percent to 14,336.  In the El Paso sector, 1,030 unaccompanied minors surged at the border, an increase of nearly 300 percent.  On top of the flow of more migrants from Central America, 28,400 Cubans recently entered Texas through CBP's Laredo office, fleeing Cuba to the U.S. after the Obama administration announced plans in 2014 to re-establish ties with the country.  Gov. Greg Abbott says that given the recent flow of migrants along the southern border, more, not less, surveillance and security resources are needed.

Facebook Bans Sale of Guns:  Following Friday's announcement that Facebook will ban users from facilitating the sale of guns, parts and ammunition on the popular social media website, the White House is not saying whether the decision stemmed from pressure from the Obama administration.  Nicole Duran of the Washington Examiner reports that the administration admitted to meeting with Facebook to address the loophole but refused to comment on whether this action came from any specific request.  Licensed dealers have been granted an exception to post and present their inventory online but are now required to have the transaction occur elsewhere, not on the website.

Lifelong Sex Offender GPS Monitoring Upheld:  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 3-0 decision, ruled Friday that requiring a convicted sex offender to be fitted with a GPS anklet for life does not violate the constitutional ban on retroactive punishment, despite the law being passed after a the offender's conviction.  Andrew Blake of the Washington Times reports that the decision overturned a federal judge's ruling that it was unconstitutional to make 72-year-old Wisconsin child sex offender Michael Belleau, who was civilly committed to a secure treatment center in 2004, wear an electronic monitoring bracelet when he was released from civil commitment in 2010, two years after the requirement was put on the books.  Belleau's 2012 lawsuit argued that the requirement was unconstitutional since it retroactively punished him for conduct made criminal "after the fact" and amounted to unreasonable search and seizure.  However, the appellate panel said last week that the requirement "is not punishment; it is prevention," noting that the objective is to protect children rather than punish sex offenders.

L.A. County Accidentally Freed Murder Suspect:  A paperwork error has resulted in the erroneous release of a murder suspect from the Los Angeles County jail over the weekend.  Joseph Serna of the LA Times reports that 37-year-old Steve Lawrence Wright, accused of a 2011 gang-related murder, was sentenced last week to five days in jail for a contempt of court conviction he received while awaiting trial, for which he had to attend court.  When transferred back to the Inmate Reception Center from court, the docket number for his contempt of court case was accidentally put in the box where his murder case should have gone, making it appear that he was due for release on Saturday instead of being held without bond pending trial.  His Saturday afternoon release went unnoticed until 9:30 p.m. that evening.  In 2013, 24 inmates were mistakenly released early after being processed by the Inmate Reception Center, dropping to 21 in 2014 and six last year.


News Scan

Judge Rules MN Sex Offender Program Unconstitutional:  Minnesota's sex offender program violates the fundamental rights of over 700 people locked up indefinitely upon completion of their prison sentences, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.  Steve Karnowski of the AP reports that U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ordered legislators to reach a program remedy by August, which must include the creation of alternate less restrictive facilities, or he will impose his own.  The 2011 class-action lawsuit filed for residents of the state's two secured facilities argues that the commitment of sex offenders after they've finished their prison sentences is unconstitutional on the grounds that "hardly anyone ever gets out."

Man who Provided Guns for Texas Cartoon Contest Arrested:  A Phoenix man identified as the third person who helped orchestrate last month's shootout at the "Draw Muhammad" cartoon contest in Garland, Texas had aspirations to join ISIS and attack the Super Bowl.  Fox News reports that Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem provided the guns used by Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi to attack the event, where they were both fatally shot by security guards.  Kareem was arrested last week on charges of conspiracy, making false statements and interstate transportation of firearms with intent to commit a felony.

Senator Proposes GPS Implants to Track Violent Convicts:  With two escaped murderers from an upstate New York prison still on the loose, a New York Senator proposes implanting tiny GPS devices under convicts' skin to track them.  CBS New York reports that the proposal, introduced by State Sen. Kathy Marchione, is not only a way to improve public safety but also strengthen prison staff's ability to control inmates within institutions.  Local residents are split on the idea, with half believing the measure to be unconstitutional.  Legislators say that only the most violent convicts would be implanted.

FBI Targets ISIS Supporters:  The FBI is currently engaged in a broad campaign to disrupt potential terrorists inspired by Islamic State, a terrorist group also known as ISIS, and expects to make several arrests before July 4th.  Aaron Katersky and Pierre Thomas of ABC News report that hundreds of investigations are active in all 50 states, mostly targeting suspected ISIS supporters.  Authorities have arrested five suspected supporters since last month's attack at the "Draw Muhammad" event in Garland, Texas.

News Scan

Bill Gives Longer Sentences to Certain Sex Offenders:  The California Senate has approved a bill that would give violent sex offenders who disable their GPS tracking devices longer prison sentences.  Tony Saavedra of the OC Register reports that SB 722, proposed by Sen. Patricia Bates, would make the crime a felony punishable by three years in state prison.  The measure was introduced in response to the arrests of two homeless sex offenders who kidnapped and murdered four women in the Los Angeles area.

Texas Inmate Scheduled For Execution:  A Texas murderer, convicted of killing four men over three decades ago, is scheduled to be put to death Wednesday evening.  Michael Graczyk of ABC News reports that Lester Bower Jr. fatally shot four men at an airplane hangar in 1983 after stealing an airplane he had intended to buy from one of the victims.  In an effort to halt the execution, his attorneys argue that jurors did not have the opportunity to consider that Bower had no previous criminal record, and that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals used an incorrect legal standard when it denied him an appeal 10 years ago.  Bower will be the eighth person executed by lethal injection in the state this year, and will become the oldest, at age 67.   Update:  The U.S. Supreme Court has denied review of the Fifth Circuit's decision, denied a separate petition for a writ of habeas corpus, and denied stays of execution in both cases.  No dissents are indicated.  The orders are here and here.

Prop. 47 DNA Fix Passes CA Assembly:  Legislation seeking to reform changes made after the passage of Proposition 47 last November was passed by the California Assembly on Tuesday, reauthorizing DNA sample collection for crimes downgraded to misdemeanors.  Jeremy B. White of the Sacramento Bee reports that AB 390 requires law enforcement to collect DNA from persons convicted of certain misdemeanors and for those who have past convictions for violent misdemeanor offenses.  The bill passed 64-2.

Grenade Black Market Uncovered In Border Town:  McAllen, Texas, a city bordering Mexico, is the site of a "bustling" black market for grenades and explosive devices, as revealed during an undercover sting operation.  Ildefonso Ortiz of Breitbart reports that two men were arrested by ATF agents for trying to sell 10 live grenades to a government informant.  Across the border, violence within Mexico's Gulf Cartel is escalating into a "fierce internal struggle," with a series of grenade attacks occurring just last week.

News Scan

NE Bill Abolishing Death Penalty Approved:  A bill abolishing the death penalty was approved on Wednesday by Nebraska's legislature with a 32 to 15 vote.  The AP reports that Governor Pete Ricketts promises to veto the bill, although there may be enough votes in favor of the bill to possibly override a veto.  

Parolee Found Guilty of Investigator's Murder:  Paroled sex offender Randy Alana was convicted Wednesday of murder, second-degree robbery, auto theft and grand theft for the 2013 killing of Sandra Coke, a federal defense investigator from Oakland.  Henry K. Lee of SF Gate reports that the jury deliberated for less than three hours before finding Alana guilty.  Alana, who had previously dated the victim and was the father of her teenage daughter, was out on parole and being tracked by authorities with a GPS anklet in August 2013 when he strangled Coke and dumped her body in Vacaville, because she called his parole agent.

Man Who Landed Gyrocopter At Capitol Faces Nine Years:  The man who landed his one-man gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol last month to protest campaign finance could face over nine years in prison.  Warner Todd Huston of Breitbart reports that Douglas Hughes, a mail carrier from Florida, flew through restricted airspace on April 15 before landing on the west lawn of the Capitol building, and was arrested immediately.  He has been indicted on six charges by a federal grand jury, including violation of national defense airspace and violation of aircraft registration requirements.

Bill that Loosens Execution Restrictions Passes House:  A North Carolina bill, which passed the House and is under consideration in the Senate, would permit other medical professionals to oversee executions, not just licensed physicians.  The Daily Tar Heel reports that House Bill 774 was created in response to physicians' growing unwillingness since 2007 to participate in executions, when the North Carolina Medical Board banned providers from giving lethal injections.  Although the state Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that the board could not revoke physicians' licenses, physicians in the state have still been hesitant.  The bill would extend execution participation to physician assistants, registered nurses, nurse practitioners and emergency medical technicians, but a licensed physician would still be required to pronounce an inmate dead.

Suspect Named In Quadruple Murder:  Police have identified a suspect in last week's quadruple homicide of a wealthy couple, their 10-year-old son, and their housekeeper that occurred in one of Washington D.C.'s poshest neighborhoods, just down the street from the Vice President's residence.  Fox News reports that Daron Dylon Wint, a career criminal whose DNA was found on pizza crust left at the crime scene, is believed to have held the family hostage on the evening of May 13 while coordinating the delivery of $40,000 in cash, then killed them and set their mansion ablaze before fleeing in the couple's Porsche, which was also torched.  Law enforcement believes Wint is hiding out in Brooklyn and have expanded their manhunt.

News Scan

Records Raise Questions About Parole Monitoring:  Despite violating their parole, cutting off their GPS monitors, and fleeing the state, two transient sex offenders were deemed "low risk," and are now accused of raping and killing four women.  Paige St. John of the LA Times reports that speculation surrounding whether state parole agents adequately monitored the two men's conduct during the time the alleged killing spree took place.  Although Franc Cano and Steven Dean Gordon were "considered compliant with the terms of their parole," records show that agents failed to conduct required interviews with the parolees' regular contacts and keep proper tabs on their activities.

Drug Court Enrollment Declines:  San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Kris Parde says that the lack of incentive for lower-level drug offenders to enter drug court under Proposition 47 has led to a sharp decline in enrollment.  Shea Johnson of the Victorville Daily Press reports that the 90 percent decline means that the program could be shut down entirely.  The DA also criticizes the state's AB 109 prison realignment program, calling California "soft on crime."

Message Warns of ISIS Cells in US:  A self-proclaimed American jihadist posted a message online warning Americans that the Islamic State group, or ISIS, has "scores of trained soldiers" in 15 states across the U.S. waiting for orders to carry out terrorist attacks.  Fox News reports that the message, signed by Abu Ibrahim Al Ameriki, specified Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, California, and Michigan as five of the 15 states where ISIS currently has active cells.  The message also warned that more attacks will occur on American soil over the next six months.  The U.S. intelligence community is assessing the threat.

Mexican Police Capabilities 'Non-Existent':  As cartel violence surges in border cities and Mexican states, the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel warning citing state and local law enforcement in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas as 'non-existent.'  Ildefonso Ortiz of Breitbart reports that a war within the Gulf Cartel involving two rival factions fighting for control has contributed to the uproar in violence.  Last month, Breitbart released information from the U.S. State Department stating that since 2013, 181 Americans have been murdered in Tamaulipas.

TN Supreme Court to Hear Electric Chair Case:  The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear arguments today regarding whether a group of death row inmates can proceed with their claim that the use of the electric chair as an execution method is unconstitutional.  Stacey Barchenger of the Tennessean reports that the inmates believe they should be able to challenge the use of the electric chair because, being that lethal injection drugs have become much harder for states to obtain, there is a reality that Tennessee will have to resort to its backup method of electrocution.  The state's AG office says that the case should be dismissed because it is based on a "hypothetical situation."  None of the condemned inmates are scheduled to die.

Gunrunning Bloods Gang Used Metro-North:  A gunrunning operation orchestrated by Bloods street gang members involved the use of Metro-North trains to transport weapons bought in Connecticut into New York City for resale.  Steven Lieberman of the Journal News reports that nine gang members were indicted in the scheme, who resold weapons ranging from .22 caliber pistols to assault weapons.  Some of the gang members also face additional charges of murder conspiracy.

GPS, Searches, and Civil v. Criminal

The U.S. Supreme Court summarily reversed a decision of a North Carolina court regarding GPS monitoring of sex offenders and the Fourth Amendment.  The North Carolina court's error illustrates once again how far too many lawyers in the post-Mapp world have come to view the Fourth Amendment and the exclusionary rule as the same thing.  They are not.  Not even close.
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