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Murder Conviction in 'Stand Your Ground' Case: A Montana man is facing a minimum of 10 years behind bars after being found guilty of killing a German exchange student in what he believed to be a case of 'stand your ground.'  The Guardian reports that 30-year-old Markus Kaarma left his garage door partially open one evening with a purse exposed in the hopes of catching the person responsible for recent break-ins around the neighborhood.  When 17-year-old exchange student Diren Dede entered the  garage, Kaarma shot the teen with a shotgun, killing him.  Kaarma, claimed that he feared for his life that evening but the trial court found him guilty of deliberate homicide.  He is scheduled to be sentenced in February 2015. 

Surrounding States sue Colorado Over Legalized Marijuana: Two states have filed lawsuits with the U.S. Supreme Court in response to the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado.  The Los Angeles Times reports that Nebraska and Oklahoma are citing federal anti-drug laws in an attempt to have the court overturn Colorado's law that permits the use of recreational marijuana.  Surrounding states which have seen an increase in marijuana being trafficking across their borders nities,are hopeful that the high court will enforce federal regulations.   

KS to Seek Death Penalty for Accused Killer: Prosecutors in Kansas have announced their plans to seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing three people at a Jewish community center earlier this year.  Breandaliss Gonzalaz of KSHB News reports that Frazier Glenn Cross, and admitted white supremacist, is accused of killing a 14-year-old boy and two other men in what authorities are describing as a vicious hate crime.  A preliminary hearing has been set for March 2,3, and 5, 2015.  

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TX High Court Upholds Death Sentence: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the conviction and death sentence for a man found guilty of murdering two people in 2011.  Paul J. Gately of KWTX News reports that 25-year-old Ricky Cummings appealed his sentence claiming improper jury selection and exclusion of some evidence related to his background.  Cummings' brother was also charged with the murders, but he agreed to a plead guilty in exchange for a 20 year sentence. 

Police Chief Blames Realignment For Crime Increase: A Northern California police chief is blames the state's Realignment law for an 11% increase in violent crime in his city over the past year.  Ian Thompson of the Daily Republic reports that while the level of property crimes was stable, the level of violent crimes such as rape and murder increased significantly.  Suisun City Police Chief Ed Dadisho believes the Governor's Realignment law, which shifted thousands of felons to county jails, has put a strain on local law enforcement and probation officers and contributed to the increased crime.  Dadisho also believes  that recently passed Prop 47, which converts several felonies to misdemeanors, will also increase crime.

DNA Evidence Leads to Cold Case Arrests: Police in Virginia were able to make arrests in three separate cold cases with the help of newly processed DNA evidence.  WFMY News reports that police were able to solve three sexual assaults dating back to the 1980's, and make arrests in each case.  Virginia Beach Police acknowledged that budget cuts to the state's Department of Forensic Science has slowed down the process of analyzing DNA, but they are confident that in time more cold cases will be solved.  

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Accused Killer was on Probation: Authorities report that the Alabama man accused of killing an Auburn University football player over the weekend had a lengthy criminal history, and was on active probation at the time of the murder.  Jay Reeves of the Associated Press reports that 22-year-old Markale Hart is accused of murdering the college athlete after an argument broke out at a party.  Hart pled guilty in 2012 to a second-degree burglary charge and was originally sentenced to six years in jail, but under his plea agreement, he spent just six months behind bars with three years of probation.

Hundreds of Americans Kidnapped in Mexico in 2014: According to the FBI, nearly 200 Americans were kidnapped in Mexico in 2014, a figure that is alarming tourists and residents in several border towns.  Ildefonso Ortiz of Breitbart reports that according to a study conducted by the National Citizens Observatory, a kidnapping takes place every six hours in Mexico.  American citizens are often targeted for ransom paid by relatives in the states.  The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning to Americans traveling to Mexico to avoid using highways at night.

OH High Court Upholds Death Sentence: The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for a man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and two young children in 2010.  Kathleen Maloney of Court News Ohio reports that Mark Pickens appealed his conviction and death sentence based on the claim that jurors were improperly questioned and that there was prosecutorial misconduct.  Pickens broke into his ex-girlfriend's home and killed her, her 9-month-old son, and a 3-year-old child she was babysitting.  Police report that the day prior to the killings, the woman accused Pickens of raping and beating her. 

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Prop 47 May Jeopardize California Drug Courts: California drug courts may soon become a thing of the past due to the recent adoption 47, which transformed numerous felonies, including drug possession and gun theft, into misdemeanors.  Marisa Gerber of the Los Angeles Times reports that drug courts provide judges with a cheaper and more effective alternative to sending addicts to prison, however, what holds drug court participants accountable is the fact that they will face a felony sentence if they drop out of the program.  With that threat gone due to Prop 47, experts believe addicts have no incentive to participate in rehab. 

Murderer Mistakenly Released: A California man who murdered his wife before killing himself Sunday afternoon had been mistakenly released from jail by a substitute judge.  Tim Daly of News 10 reports that 46-year-old Roberto Ceja-Martinez was arrested in late November for being a felon in possession of a firearm, marijuana cultivation, and violating a restraining order. He was in county jail for a week before a retired and substitute judge released him on his own recognizance.  Police say that Ceja-Martinez beat his wife to death Sunday morning before setting her body on fire.

Family of Executed Ohio Murderer Sues: The family of executed murderer Dennis McGuire has filed a lawsuit against a former expert witness on lethal injection claiming that he should have known McGuire would suffer during the execution.  The Associated Press reports that in addition to suing Dr. Mark Dershwitz, the family has also filed a lawsuit against the company responsible for distributing the drugs, claiming that they should have known the drugs would cause unnecessary and extreme pain if used during an execution.  McGuire was executed in January 2014 for the 1989 rape and murder of a pregnant Ohio woman.


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CA to Grant Inmate Laborers Early Release: In an effort to combat severe overcrowding, California prison officials have agreed to make thousands of inmate laborers eligible for early release.  The Associated Press reports that roughly 4,300 inmates who work as janitors, cooks, and groundskeepers in prisons across the state will start earning two days off their sentence for every day they spend behind bars with 'good behavior.' A group of federal judges will need to approve the proposal before any inmates are made eligible for early release.

Mexican Man Charged in Recent Texas Killing: A Mexican man is in custody and facing murder charges after authorities say he kidnapped and murdered a mechanic over an alleged debt.  Ildefonso Ortiz of Breitbart reports that police believe 38-year-old Juan Miguel Miranda, along with a group of other men, kidnapped the victim from his home and shot him to death on the side of a rural road in a Texas city near the Mexican border.  Police believe the kidnapping may be in response to a debt over drugs, human smuggling, or illicit activity.  This is the third kidnapping murder in the area since October.

Texas Legislature Looks to Expand Gun Rights
: Lawmakers in Texas have proposed several bills which would expand the rights of gun owners.  Fox News reports that one of the proposed bills would allow residents to openly carry handguns in public.  Current law permits the public display of long guns such as rifles and shotguns, but not handguns.  Texas adopted laws permitting concealed weapons in 1995.  Since then, more than 800,000 people have obtained their concealed handgun license.  

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Feds Allow Native Americans to Grow, Sell Marijuana: The U.S. Justice Department has announced that Native American tribes will be allowed to grow and sell marijuana on their land as long as they follow the same laws established in states that have legalized the drug.  Fox News reports that while many tribes are opposed to legalizing the drug on their land, three tribes in California, Washington, and the Midwest have expressed interest in selling it.  Federal law still prohibits the use and sale of marijuana in all 50 states.

Convicted Killer Sentenced to Four Life Terms: A Michigan man convicted of killing two discount store employees last year has been sentenced to four life terms plus 53 years for his crimes.  Gus Burns of M Life reports that habitual felon Lavere Bryant shot and killed two employees at a Family Dollar store in July 2013 during a botched robbery attempt. Life without parole is the most severe sentence a murderer can receive Michigan, a non-death penalty state. 

CA Police Chief Reports Increased Crime Under Prop 47: Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer believes that the recent uptick in crime that his city is experiencing has something to do with the passing of Proposition 47.  Jim Guy of the Fresno Bee reports that crimes such as aggravated assault, burglary, and auto theft have all increased exponentially in the last 28 days.  Proposition 47 reclassified several felonies to misdemeanors, and allowed thousands of inmates to apply for early release from state facilities.  


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Kentucky Police Make Cold Case Arrest: Police in Kentucky have arrested a man they believe is responsible for the cold case murder of an elderly woman in Ohio.  Lex 18 News reports that 56-year-old Daniel French is accused of kidnapping the woman from her retirement home, stealing her vehicle, and leaving her body in the trunk of her car.  French has been charged with murder, aggravated robbery, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse.  If convicted, he faces a possible death sentence. 

Illegal Alien Accused of Sexual Assault: Utah police have arrested a man who they believe to be an illegal alien, after two young girls came forward and alleged that he sexually abused them.  Kurt Hanson of the Daily Herald reports that police also discovered that the man illegally purchased a green card and social security card in order to gain employment.  Miguel Gonzales-Frutos is currently being held in county jail on suspicion of sexual abuse of a child and identity fraud. 

Murder/ Kidnap Suspect Arrested After Standoff:  A California man suspected of murdering a woman and kidnapping his four young children has been taken into custody after a statewide manhunt ended on a San Diego freeway Thursday morning.  Tracy Bloom and Jennifer Gould of KTLA report that the police have yet to identify the woman they found murdered in the trunk of one of the family's vehicles.  Update:  She has been determined to be the murderer's wife and the mother of their four children.  The children are unharmed.  Relatives have claimed that there was a history of domestic violence in the family, however, police have yet to release any information regarding that allegation.

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Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty in Cannibalism Case: Prosecutors in Indiana have announced their plans to seek the death penalty for a man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend and eating several parts of her body earlier this year.  Fox 59 reports that Joseph Oberhansley admitted to police that he broke into the woman's home and stabbed her to death. He also confessed to removing and eating parts of her brain, heart, and lungs.  This isn't Oberhansley's first murder arrest.  At age 17, he spent time behind bars for killing his girlfriend and shooting his mother. He was released from custody in 2012 after serving just 14 years.

CA Gang Sweep Nets Multiple Arrests: More than 20 individuals have been taken into custody after a multi-agency sweep targeted a powerful Los Angeles gang with ties to the Mexican Mafia, labeled the most powerful prison gang in California.  Joseph Serna, Richard Winton, and Veronica Rocha of the Los Angeles Times report that roughly 800 law enforcement agents from the FBI, LAPD, IRS, and ATF arrested the known Big Hazard gang members on a variety of charges including drug distribution, assault, and weapons charges.  The gang has been active for at least 50 years, and police believe they have been responsible for several violent crimes and murders throughout the region.

Convicted Killer to be Released: A Michigan family is outraged after learning that the man who murdered their family member is set to be released from prison.  David Custer of WNEM News reports that Clay Hayward was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Mark Schafer, a U.S. soldier who was home on leave.  Custer was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.  He has been granted parole after serving 21 years.  Unless the Bay County prosecutor can show that the parole board ruled improperly, Hayward will be released and remain on parole for at least four years.

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Death Penalty for Cop Killer: Prosecutors in Sacramento will seek the death penalty for the illegal alien accused of murdering two sheriff's deputies, seriously injuring a third and shooting a carjack victim during a multi-county crime spree in October 2014.  Sam Cohen of Fox 40 reports that Luis Bracamontes, who had a criminal record and had been twice deported, was the focus of a  manhunt after he was identified for for the murders, carjacking and shootings.  Bracamontes' wife, who accompanied him during the crime spree, is also facing several felony charges including murder, attempted murder, and carjacking. 

St. Louis Attack May be Hate Crime: Authorities in St. Louis, Missouri are asking for the FBI's help in investigating what they believe to be a hate crime against a Bosnian woman in the same neighborhood that a Bosnian man was beaten to death just days prior.  Fox News reports that the 26-year-old woman told police a group of African-American teenagers stopped her car and ordered her out of her vehicle after flashing a handgun. The suspects then pulled the woman from the car and beat her until she was unconscious.  The victim told police that one of the teens told her "You're Bosnian, I should just kill you now."  St. Louis police have seen an increase in crime in the recent months. 

Georgia, Missouri Set to Execute Convicted Killers: A Georgia man is set to be executed Tuesday afternoon for the 1995 murder of a sheriff's deputy.  David Beasley and Carey Gillam of Reuters report that 49-year-old Robert Holsey was convicted of shooting the officer in the head after he was pulled over following a convenience store robbery.  Missouri is expected to execute convicted killer Paul Goodwin at 12:01 am Wednesday, he was sentenced to death for the 1998 rape and murder of an elderly St. Louis woman.

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LAX Shooter Awaits Death Penalty Decision: Federal prosecutors expect the Attorney General to decide by by January 2015 if  the death penalty will be sought against the man accused in the deadly shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport in 2013 that resulted in the death of a TSA agent.  Brenton Garen of Westside Today reports that 24-year-old Paul Ciancia has been charged with 11 counts including murdering a federal officer, two counts of attempted murder, and committing acts of violence at an international airport.  Attorney General Eric Holder has the final say in the death penalty decision. 

MO Supreme Court to Hear Gun-Rights Case: The Missouri Supreme Court is set to hear argument this week from a convicted drug dealer who believes he has the right to possess a firearm under a newly passed state amendment.  David A. Lieb of the Associated Press reports that the new legislation was adopted to strengthen gun rights for Missouri citizens.  It states that any restriction from gun ownership 'shall be subject to strict scrutiny'.   But law also leaves in place previous measures preventing convicted violent felons from owning guns.  Supporters of the law are quick to point out that it was designed to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens, not to restore rights to convicted felons.


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Prop 47 Leads to Surge in Crime: Authorities in Humboldt County, CA report that since Proposition 47 passed in November, forcing the release of 35% of county jail's inmate population, police have been dealing with a surge in criminal activity.  Tyler Dahlgren of KRCR News reports that Prop 47, which reduced penalties for a number of crimes, has allowed dozens of criminals to appeal their sentence and get back on the streets to commit more crimes.  Police are reporting an increase in burglaries, thefts, and vandalism just weeks after the proposition passed.  

Habitual Rapist Accused in Another Assault: An Ohio man with a lengthy record of sexually assaulting women is behind bars again after being accused of raping a woman at knifepoint.  Mark Gokavi of the Dayton Daily News reports that 40-year-old Michael Cohen, who once raped a woman just an hour after being released from jail, was released from prison in April 2014 after serving roughly 8 ½ years for a rape conviction, authorities now believe that a few months later, he raped one woman at knifepoint and kidnapped another in an attempt to sexually assault her.  Cohen is currently being held in county jail without bond.

Jury Recommends Death for Murderer: A Delaware jury has unanimously recommended that convicted double-murderer Otis Phillips be sentenced to death for his crimes.  Sean O'Sullivan of The News Journal reports that Phillips, who was found guilty in a third unrelated homicide last month, allegedly killed one of his victims in an attempt to keep him from testifying at an upcoming murder trial and a second victim by mistake.  The judge presiding over the case has the final sentencing decision, and is expected to announce it in the near future.    

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Habitual Felon Accused of Attempted Murder: A Florida man with a criminal history dating back more than a decade is behind bars yet again after authorities say he shot a member of the U.S. Navy who was visiting his mother on Thanksgiving.  Emily Miller of the Sun Sentinel reports that 24-year-old Terrance Jolly, a habitual criminal, allegedly shot the man after authorities say he attempted to break up a fight outside of his mother's apartment on Thanksgiving afternoon.  Jolly's priors include battery, assault with a deadly weapon, and burglary.  His currently in jail facing charges of attempted murder and possession of a weapon by a felon.

Sheriff Denounces Eric Holder's Response to Ferguson: Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke recently gave a speech at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. focused on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's handing of the Michael Brown shooting.  Sheriff Clarke's speech is at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMQCFqgAGyM&sns=em
It
includes his statement that Holder threw law enforcement under the bus to curry favor with racial groups such as the New Black Panther Party.  The Sheriff doesn't mince words. 

Lifer Charged With Another Murder: A Michigan man already serving a life sentence for a murder he committed more than two decades ago has been charged with his prison cellmate.  Andy Hoag of M Live reports that officials believe that 51-year-old Steven Sandison murdered his cellmate, a child molester, in late October.  Sandison is currently serving an LWOP sentence for a 1991 murder.  If he is convicted of this second murder he will receive another LWOP sentence. 

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Convicted Sex Offender Accused of Murder: A Florida man, who authorities say cut off his court-ordered GPS monitoring device, has been arrested for the recent murder of a woman and the sexual assault of her 10-year-old daughter.  The Associated Press reports that 34-year-old Donald Davidson, a convicted sex offender, was arrested early Tuesday morning after police say he was caught driving the dead woman's vehicle.  Davidson was recently released from prison after serving a four-year sentence for child molestation. 

Appeals Court Halts Execution: A federal appeals court in New Orleans has halted the execution of a Texas man that was scheduled to take place later today.  David Montgomery of the New York Times reports that the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals postponed the execution of 56-year-old Scott Panetti in order to allow more time to consider issues surrounding the case, particularly whether Panetti's mental illness disqualifies him from execution.  Panetti was sentenced to death for the 1992 murders of his wife's parents.  Had the execution gone as planned, he would have become the 11th person executed by the state of Texas in 2014. 

Convicted Murderers Caught Sneaking Across U.S. Border: Border Patrol agents have arrested two convicted murderers after the pair attempted to illegally cross the border on November 24.  Kristin Tate of Breitbart reports that the two men, who happen to be brothers, were convicted of first-degree murder in Illinois and each served between six and ten years before being deported back to Mexico. 

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Realignment Offender Suspected of Murder: A California man who was recently released from custody and placed under Post-Release Community Supervision (PRCS), under Governor Brown's Realignment law, has been arrested and booked on murder charges.  The Daily Bulletin reports that the man allegedly stabbed the woman multiple times in a hotel room and left her for dead Saturday night.  Police believe the victim and the suspect were acquaintances, but have yet to determine a motive for the killing.

CA Convicts Man Under New Revenge Porn Law: A California man has been ordered to spend a year behind bars after becoming the first person convicted under the state's new revenge porn law.  The Guardian reports that Noe Iniguez was convicted on two counts of violating a restraining order and one count of violating the state's revenge porn law after authorities say he posted topless photos of his ex-girlfriend on her employer's Facebook page.  The law, which was enacted in October 2013, makes it illegal to post identifiable nude photos of people online without their consent.

Teens Beat Man to Death Near Ferguson: A group of teenagers have been arrested and charged with murder after police say they beat a man to death near Ferguson, Missouri.  Fox News reports that 32-year-old Zemir Begic, a Bosnian immigrant, was driving with his wife and a friend when their vehicle was surrounded by a group of teens who began banging on the vehicle with hammers.  When Begic stepped out of the vehicle to confront the group, they savagely attacked him with the hammers, resulting in his death.  A youtube video posted by an eyewitness, includes her statement that just prior to the attack she saw teens running around the area yelling "kill the white people".  Commenting on the murder, the St. Louis Police Chief astutely observed, "There is no indication that the gentleman last night was targeted because he was Bosnian."  The victim was a white man.    

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Convicted Killer Gains Early Release: A Wisconsin man convicted of murdering a six-year-old girl is set to be released from state prison after serving just 26 years of his 40 year prison sentence.  The Associated Press reports that 66-year-old Vince Fisher was found guilty of second-degree murder after authorities say he sexually assaulted the young girl before shoving a plastic ball down her throat, which resulted in her death.  Fisher will be required to live in a transitional residence upon his release and will be monitored by a GPS device.  

Sheriffs Blame Realignment for Jail Drug Problem
: County jails across the state of California are experiencing an increase in the amount of drugs being smuggled into their facilities, and many Sheriffs believe Governor Brown's Realignment policy is to blame.  CBS News and the Associated Press report that, with a parole violation only punished by ten days in jail under Realignment,  parolees are getting arrested in order to sneak drugs into jails.  Sheriffs report an increase in the volume of drugs being smuggled into jail since the law took effect three years ago.  Berkeley Professor Franklin Zimring said that Sheriffs are just "playing up" the drug smuggling problem because they opposed the law.  

PA High Court Upholds Death Sentence: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence for a man convicted of kidnapping and murdering a college athlete nearly 20 years ago.  Larry Miller of The Philadelphia Tribune reports that Arthur Bomar challenged his sentence after alleging he lawyer was ineffective and his trial had procedural errors.  Bomar was found guilty of kidnapping, rape, and first-degree murder after DNA linked him to the killing.


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