Results matching “Tom Clements”

News Scan

CA Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence: California's highest court denied the appeal of a man sentenced to death who claimed that the penalty was too harsh and a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.  Kenneth Ofgang of the Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that California's Supreme Court ruled that George Lopez Contreras was indeed eligible for the death penalty based on the fact that he murdered his victim during the course of a robbery, rejecting a challenge of the state's felony-murder rule.  Attorneys for Contreras argued that he had no intent to kill anyone during the robbery, despite evidence that showed Contreras obtained a shotgun the night before the robbery and enlisted the help of armed accomplices.
21-year-old Now the Youngest on FL's Death Row:  The mastermind of the 2011 murder of a 15-year-old in Florida has at 21 become the youngest person on the state's death row.  Arelis R. Hernandez of the Orlando Sentinel reports that Michael Bargo, was 18 when he and four others lured teenager Seath Jackson to a house in Marion County where he was repeatedly beaten with piece of wood and shot several times.  Bargo and the other attackers then burned Jackson's body and attempted to conceal it in paint containers.  The four co-defendants received life sentences.  Bargo argued mental illness, but the jury recommended that the court impose the death penalty.

CO Stops Placing Mentally Ill in Solitary Confinement:  Prison officials in Colorado have been instructed to stop placing mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement by the interim Director of Prisons.  Ivan Moreno of the Associated Press reports that the alternative option for mentally ill inmates is to refer them to a 240-bed residential treatment program that is located inside the Centennial Correctional Facility.  The effort to place limits on solitary confinement was sparked by the murder of  state prison director Tom Clements last March by a former inmate who had spent most of his eight year sentence in solitary.  The state currently has only eight mentally ill inmates in solitary, compared to the 140 in 2012.  The ACLU now wants the definition for who is considered mentally ill should be broadened.

News Scan

AB109er Killed After Allegedly Stabbing Woman to Death:  Doug Saunders of the Redlands Daily Facts reports probationer David Mulder is suspected of fatally stabbing Elisa VanCleve at a Fontana Park and Ride on Sunday. A California Highway Patrol officer arrived at the lot in response to a domestic disturbance call. Mulder ran at responding officers with a knife. The CHP officer shot and killed Mulder. VanCleve had been found stabbed multiple times in a car nearby. The Fontana Herald News reports Mulder had an extensive criminal history including grand theft, commercial burglary, and possession of a controlled substance. Mulder was released from prison for a most recent conviction of substance abuse and was placed on Post Release Community Supervision in September. His probation officer found that he violated the terms of his PRCS in December by not registering a change of address. A warrant was issued for Mulder's arrest. He was located on March 25 and sentenced to serve 30 days in jail. He was released eight days later on GPS monitoring, five days before the murder.

U.S. Army Veteran May Get Death Penalty:  Matthew Barakat of the Huffington Post reports United States Army Veteran Eric Harroun, 30, is accused of using a weapon of mass destruction outside the U.S. alongside a terrorist organization. From January to March, Harroun fought against the Syrian government alongside the group Jabhat al-Nusra, the "al Qaida in Iraq." The group was classified as a terrorist group by the U.S. Government in December. Harroun, 30, was at a court hearing on Monday, where U.S. Magistrate Ivan Davis decided there is probable cause and the issue will go to a grand jury. It was revealed at the hearing that Harroun could face the death penalty if it is found that his actions caused a death. Harroun recalls shooting 10 people during the attacks, but is not sure if they were killed. His lawyers argue that his actions were in line with U.S. interests, as he aided Syrian rebels. Whether he was a willing participant or a prisoner forced to fight was at the center of debate.

White Supremacist Prison Gangs Gaining Influence Beyond Bars: 
Alan Greenblatt of NPR News reports white supremacist gangs are expanding their influence beyond prison bars and out into the streets. James Lohr, 47, was taken in for questioning on Friday, in regards to the murder of Colorado Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements. Lohr was known to have associations with white supremacist prison gang the 211 Crew. Another man wanted for questioning, who was wanted for questioning, died in a Texas shootout and was also a known 211 Crew member. The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, another white supremacist prison gang, is suspected of ties to the killings of the Kaufman County District Attorney, his wife, and the assistant DA. If suspicions are confirmed, the influence of racist prison gangs is reaching unprecedented levels. According to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the gangs are building criminal empires. He says prison gang leaders are able to get messages out through girlfriends, spouses and even attorneys. Some information in this report taken from CBS Crime Insider, here. Continued from this News Scan.

Open Season

Now comes word that a recently elected West Virginia sheriff, Eugene Crum, was gunned down yesterday.  A suspect has been shot and is in the hospital.

The story notes:

Though there is no indication of any connection, Mr. Crum's killing comes on the heels of a Texas district attorney and his wife being shot to death in their home over the weekend, and just weeks after Colorado's corrections director [Tom Clements] also was gunned down at his home.

Not mentioned is the murder less than ten weeks ago of Assistant DA Mark Hasse, also in Texas.

I am tempted to launch a little nasty snark here by wondering whether the "atmosphere of hate" directed against prosecutors and police is responsible for what's going on.  I will resist the temptation.  First, I have no specific evidence to support it, which is sufficient per se to counsel circumspection.  Second, accusations like that, even if they turn out to be true, are poisonous.  The great majority of our adversaries aren't haters, they're just wrong.  But they would get tarred with the "hater" brush, just as are so many of us who support the death penalty. Third, while everyone is at some point tempted to hit back at opponents who routinely use ad hominem instead of analysis, it's the wrong thing to do.

This blog is ultimately about argument, and it's impossible to have a wholesome or even a sensible argument when people are tossing around this "atmosphere of hate" stuff.  Let's just find the killers and give them justice.

News Scan

Realignment Criminal Arrested After Robbery Spree: Kim Minugh of the Sacramento Bee reports that Emanuel Looney, 28, was arrested Tuesday for multiple robberies in the Sacramento area. At about 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Looney allegedly entered a convenience store and robbed the clerk at gunpoint. Immediately after, he allegedly knocked on the door of a home, still armed, and forced his way inside when the door opened. He demanded money and stole the victim's car. The vehicle was spotted by officers at 1:45 a.m. Looney led officers on a pursuit then fled the car on foot. He was arrested after running into a park which deputies surrounded. In 2008, Looney received a 3-year prison sentence for the felony charges of possession of stolen property, grand theft auto, resisting arrest, and falsely identifying himself to police. He was released on probation (called Post Release Community Supervision) rather than parole because of Realignment. 

CA Convicts Released Early, Unsupervised:  The Associated Press reports that many California counties are sentencing the majority of convicts to straight jail sentences in lieu of a combined custody and supervision program. Due to continued jail overcrowding under Realignment, convicts are being released before their time is served and are exempt from supervision under the terms of their sentences. Law enforcement and probation officers say they have no way of tracking these felons, stressing the growing threat to public safety. According to data covering October 2011 through September 2012, only 31 percent of convicts realigned to county jails have been given split sentences; Over two-thirds have opted for straight time without supervision upon release. Only five percent of inmates in Los Angeles County are serving split sentences. More in this blog entry.

CA GPS Trackers Flawed: 
The Associated Press reports California officials replaced thousands of parolee ankle monitors last year after field tests confirmed flaws. The devices were found to have inaccurate location reporting problems and ineffective tamper alert systems. Some devices could be disabled when covered with foil, or by using illegal GPS jammers. 3M Co., the GPS supplier for about 4,000 parolees, was denied a state contract worth approximately $51 million over a six year period after a second round of tests confirmed the faulty nature of the devices. Although a Sacramento County judge ruled that Denise Milano, head of the state's GPS monitoring program, violated  contract laws by rejecting 3M Co.'s bid, her decision was still upheld based on the flaws discovered. The devices were replaced by another company, Satellite Tracking of People, based out of Houston, Texas. About 7,900 people are currently monitored by the new devices.

Double Cop Shooter Gets 60 Years: 
The Sun-Times reports that Rashaun Carlisle was sentenced Tuesday to 60 years in prison for shooting two Illinois police officers in 2010. Carlisle, a gang member, got into a fight with rival gangsters at around 2:30 a.m.on May 8, 2010 in a liquor store parking lot. Following the altercation, he retrieved a sawed off double-barreled shotgun from his home then returned to the parking lot. The area had been vacated except for police officers and one of the men involved in the fight. Carlisle opened fire on the officers, permanently disfiguring the face of one and killing another with a shot to the chest.

Aryan Brotherhood May Be Responsible for TX Law Enforcement Killings:  Pierre Thomas and Russell Goldman of ABC News report that investigators are examining whether a white supremacist prison gang played a role in the recent Texas slayings of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife and Assistant DA Mark Hasse. Both men were responsible for indicting members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and members of Mexican drug cartels. Law enforcement officials have been on the alert for retaliation since December, a month after 34 suspected associates of the prison gang were indicted on federal racketeering, murder and drug conspiracy charges. Ten of those indicted could receive death sentences. Authorities also suspect they may be involved in the March killing of Colorado Prisons Chief Tom Clements. Alleged gang member Evan Ebel had various white supremacist tattoos on his body. Continued from this blog entry.

DNA Helps Close Cold Case From 1996: 
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Florida convict Rafael Crespo was linked to the 1996 rape and murder of 17-year-old Anjeanette Maldonado Monday in Philadelphia. The match came from a sample that was entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Combined DNA Index System during the cold case investigation.
One of the principal claims made in the argument to replace the death penalty with LWOP is that the latter will keep us just as safe as the former.

There a number of flaws in the argument, but the main one is that it's an outright lie.

An executed murderer cannot do it again.  A murderer sentenced to prison can, and this blog is replete with stories of its having happened.  My "favorite" is the Clarence Ray Allen case, but that's far from the only instance.

The basic (but not the only) reason LWOP can never displace the death penalty as the only sure way to de-commission killers is easy:  Prisons are fallible.

The most telling example (this week) of this fact is the disclosure, by ABC News among other outlets, that the violent inmate who killed Colorado Corrections Commissioner Tom Clements "was released from prison four years early because of a clerical error."

The severe risk of danger to innocent life is acceptable  --  indeed it is necessarily acceptable  --  to those pushing LWOP as the alternative to the death penalty.  I just wish they'd be honest enough to say so out loud.

News Scan

NorCal Forum on Realignment:  Sean Longoria of the Record Searchlight reports  that a forum was held Monday in Redding to discuss prison realignment. It was hosted by social service leaders and law enforcement officers. Both Redding and Shasta County have experienced simultaneous increases in property crimes and dwindling jail space. Redding Police Chief Rob Paoletti expressed frustration with Realignment. His department makes 22 arrests daily. Many of those arrested are repeat offenders released under AB109. One man was arrested and released, almost three dozen times, in only eight months. Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko added that the number of inmates serving long-term jail sentences has increased from about 10 percent to 35 percent.

AZ Killer Sentenced to Death:  Jim Seckler of the Mojave Daily News reports that killer Darrell Bryant Ketchner, 55, was sentenced to death by jurors Monday in Arizona. Ketchner had been convicted of the July 4, 2009 stabbing murder of 18-year-old Ariel Allison.  He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of her mother, Jennifer Allison, and three counts of assault. Ketchner stabbed Jennifer, his ex-girlfriend, inside her home then shot her with her own gun on the driveway as she attempted to flee. Ariel, found in her mother's bedroom, was fatally stabbed eight times in her head, her back, and front. He will be formally sentenced at a hearing on April 29. According to this article by the Associated Press, Ketchner and Allison had three children together. He had been arrested for domestic violence six months prior.

Safety Concerns Increase for Prison Workers:  The Associated Press reports that safety concerns for correctional officers are growing. Corrections administrators, prison guards, and wardens have been targeted by released convicts. The increased influence of prison gangs and communication among members both on the streets and in prison is endangering corrections professionals. The murder of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements on March 19 is mentioned in this News Scan.

CA Inmate Lawsuit Given Go-Ahead:  Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the class-action lawsuit on behalf of 1,000 Secure Housing Unit inmates in Pelican Bay State Prison was approved by Chief U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken Thursday. The inmates claim the state is violating their constitutional rights by withholding opportunities to get out of solitary confinement. The state denies these claims. The suit seeks to limit SHU confinement to a 10 year maximum and requirements for better conditions and regular reviews. Discussed further in this News Scan.

CT Supreme Court to Consider Death Row Lawsuit:  The Associated Press reports the Connecticut Supreme Court will hear argument on whether the state's repeal of the death penalty in cases after April 24, 2012 is in violation of the rights of the state's 11 inmates already on death row. The lawsuit was brought by Eduardo Santiago, sentenced to death for the murder of a West Hartford man. The case will be heard sometime after April 15.

Iowa House Approves Expanded DNA Collection:  The Associated Press reports the Iowa House approved a measure 79-18 Monday to expand DNA collection to offenders charged with aggravated misdemeanors. Currently, samples are taken only from sex offenders and convicted felons. The bill will now go to the state Senate. Continued from this News Scan.

News Scan

Suspect in CO Prison Chief's Death Killed in TX Shootout:  CBS News reports that Colorado parolee Evan Spencer Ebel, 28, was pronounced dead Friday morning after shootout with Texas police. Ebel was suspected of killing Colorado Department of Corrections Chief Tom Clements on Tuesday. He was also suspected of killing a pizza deliveryman, Nathan Leon, 27, on Sunday. Officers had attempted to pull Ebel over. He then opened fire, seriously wounding a police officer. Ebel led officers on a high-speed chase that ended when he crashed into a semi. A firefight ended only when Ebel was shot in the head. A member of the Brotherhood of Aryan Alliance prison gang, he was convicted of various other crimes since 2003, including assault on a prison guard. Investigators are looking into the possibility that Clement was killed on a hit ordered by Ebel's gang.

New Orleans Judge Says Felons Have the Right to Bear Arms:  Claire Galofaro of the Times-Picayune reports Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Darryl Derbigny ruled Louisiana's state law forbidding certain felons from possessing firearms to be incompatible with the state's constitution. The ruling follows an amendment defining the right to bear arms as fundamental for its citizens, on par with freedom of speech and religion. Public defender Jill Pasquarella defended Derbigny, saying it was irrational to ban felons from guns when convicted of non-firearms related crimes. The state Supreme Court will review the statute.

Riverside Crime Rising Under Realignment: 
Alicia Robinson of the Press-Enterprise reports crime is on the rise in Riverside, California as overcrowded jails resulting from AB 109 are forcing early releases and decreased consequences. Riverside County's inmate population grew 22 percent more than had been projected in the first year under Realignment. Rising crime rates in the city over the last year are reversing a 10 year downward trend. Out of 921 parolees searched by police from January 2012 through February 2013, 207 were found violating parole. Of those, 48 were under community supervision. 402 arrests were made over the 14 month period, most of which were for suspicion of felonies. Continued from this News Scan.

Colorado Corrections Chief Murdered

The nightmare scenario for all involved in fighting violent crime is that one of those criminals may come after you personally or your family.  Front-line police officers are at the greatest danger, of course, and killing a police officer in the line of duty is, quite rightly, a capital offense in many states.

But others further removed from the front lines are not immune.  Kirk Mitchell, Jeremy P. Meyer and Jordan Steffen report for the Denver Post:

The executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, Tom Clements, was shot and killed as he opened the door to his Monument home Tuesday night.

Clements' distraught wife, Lisa, told a 911 dispatcher that the gunman rang the doorbell and then shot her husband in the chest, according to a dispatcher's recording. She told the dispatcher she was not sure if the gunman was in the house.

Deputies received the 911 call at 8:42 p.m.

Authorities arrived at the home minutes later. They found Clements and his wife inside the home on a set of stairs.

Medical crews started performing CPR on Clements while deputies worked to secure the area and search for a suspect. Clements died at the home.

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