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Ohio Murderer's Conviction Overturned:  The Ohio Supreme Court overturned the conviction and death sentence of a man found guilty of the 2010 rape and murder of a bartender.  Evan MacDonald of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the court's 4-3 ruling held that the introduction of the defendant's knife collection at trial was "highly prejudicial" and likely influenced the jury's verdict.  Witnesses at the bar where Ann McSween worked saw defendant Joseph Thomas on the night of the murder with a blue knife clipped to his belt.  They saw her refuse to dance with Thomas and heard her ask him to leave at closing time.  Later in the parking lot, the woman was stripped, beaten, raped and stabbed to death.  Thomas' neighbor saw someone at Thomas' residence shortly after the murder, burning what police found to be the victim's clothes in a barrel.  Thomas' girlfriend said he always carried his blue knife on his belt when he went to bars.  Thomas denied this, and his blue knife was never found.  At trial the prosecutor showed the jury the five other knives Thomas kept and suggested it would not be unusual for him to carry a knife.  The court's dissent noted that showing the jury the knives corroborated testimony that Thomas was carrying a knife on the night of the murder. 

DNA Ties Sex Offender to 1980 Murder:  A construction worker, who dodged a sexual assault conviction in 1981 and was later convicted of one in 1982, has been arrested for the murder of a 20-year-old pregnant woman in 1980.  Emily Holland of the Patch reports that new DNA technology resulted in a match tying Robert Yniguez to the body of Teresa Broudreaux found in March 1980 lying on a beach near Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County.  Yniguez served eight years in prison for the 1982 sexual assault, but charges were dropped for an earlier assault when the victim stopped cooperating with police.  He is being held on $2 million bail.

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Florida Executes Double-Murderer:  A Florida man who murdered two people in 1983 was executed Thursday, Jessica Schladebeck reports for the New York Daily News. Michael Lambrix was sentenced to death using a procedure that the United States Supreme Court had previously reviewed and upheld in Spaziano v. Florida but later declared unconstitutional in Hurst v. Florida. The Florida Supreme Court held that the new rule does not apply to cases as old as Lambrix's, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene.

Judge Stays Alabama Execution:  Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay the execution of double-murderer Jeffery Borden, a federal district judge granted one.  Ivana Hrynkiw of AL.com reports that Borden's attorneys sought a stay, claiming that use of the sedative midazolam in Alabama's three-drug protocol violated the Eighth Amendment bar to cruel and unusual punishment.  On Christmas Eve 1993, in front of his three children, Bordon murdered his estranged wife and her father.  His guilt was never disputed.  Three hours before Borden's scheduled execution Thursday, District Judge Keith Watkins granted a stay to allow further argument over the use of the sedative.  "Despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has already agreed to proceed with Mr. Borden's execution, the lower federal courts continue to place roadblocks in the vicitms' family's pursuit of justice.  We will seek a new execution date as soon as possible," said the Alabama Attorney General.

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Bike Sharing Not Working in Baltimore:  In 2015, riots broke out in Baltimore after the death of small-time criminal Freddy Gray while in police custody.  Although an intensive, nationally scrutinized review found that none of the officers involved in Grey's arrest and transport were determined to be responsible for his death, political pressure forced the city's police department to end proactive policing.  This has resulted in sharp increases in crime, particularly in minority districts. The impact of this is even being felt by innocuous, politically-correct programs like bike sharing.  Colin Campbell of the Baltimore Sun reports that the $2.36 million Baltimore Bike Share system has experienced so many thefts and damage that it is being shut down so operators can try new anti-theft technology.  While authorities have repeatedly declined to say how many bikes have been stolen, most are currently out of service.  A spokesman for the Canadian operation told the Sun, "we don't have this issue anywhere else, not at this level." 

Federal Judge Stays Cutoff of Funds to Sanctuary Cities:  In a ruling announced today, a federal district judge in Chicago ruled that Attorney General Jeff Sessions cannot withhold federal grant funds from sanctuary cities.  Fox News reports that District Judge Harry Lenenweber granted Chicago's request for a temporary "nationwide" injunction of the Attorney General's requirement that, in order to receive the funds, cities would have to be willing to cooperate with federal law enforcement on illegal immigrants.

Antifa Professor Steps in it:  There was a time long ago when a college professor was assumed to be worthy of the respect of his students, colleagues and community.  This is what passes for a college professor today.  Fox News reports  JohnJayProf.jpg
that Michael Issacson, an adjunct-professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and known Antifa leader, tweeted Aug. 23, "Some of y'all might think it sucks being an anti-fascist teacher at John Jay College but I think it's a privilege to teach future dead cops."   This is not a joke, that's what he said and that's his picture.  Someone please
defend this guy. 

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Execution Set For Georgia Murderer:  A September 26 execution date has been set for a 59-year-old Georgia man who murdered his sister-in-law in 1990.  Rhonda Cook of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Keith Leroy Tharpe will be the second murderer executed in Georgia this year.  In 1990 Tharpe's wife left him to escape a violent marriage and moved in with her mother.  Responding to Tharpe's repeated threats to kill her and her family, the ex-wife received a court order prohibiting Tharpe from contacting them.  A few weeks later, Tharpe, whose own mental health expert called a "mean son of a bitch," forced his ex-wife's car off the road as she and her sister were heading to work.  He then shot the 29-year-old sister twice with a shotgun and rolled her body into a ditch, before kidnapping his ex-wife and raping her.  He was later caught in Macon trying to withdraw money from his ex-wife's credit union.  His guilt was undisputed, leaving his lawyers to unsuccessfully claim that his death sentence was the result of racial prejudice.

Appeals Court Overturns Murder Conviction:  The Oregon Court of Appeals has overturned the murder conviction of a Bethany man who beat his girlfriend to death in 2012.  Maxine Bernstein of the Oregonian reports that Paul Joseph Sanelle was convicted on overwhelming evidence but the court's unanimous ruling held that his Miranda rights were violated during questioning following his arrest.  Sanelle lived with Julianne Herinckx and Terlin Patrick.  The trio has been in a polyamorous relationship for about five years.  On April 29, 2012, Herinckx called in sick for work at about 5:20 p.m. Within the next hour, Sanelle beat her so badly that she died of blunt force injuries to her head and a crush injury to her chest the medical examiner believed was caused by her being stomped or jumped on.  When police responded to Terlin's 911 call, they found Senelle naked over Herinckx's body attempting CPR.  At trial his attorneys claimed that the young woman died as the result of a violent sparing match.         

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Defending Jeff Sessions:  While we have posted several times in support of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on this blog over the past several months, Heather MacDonald does a far more thorough job in her piece in the National Review.  The contrast between Sessions and Obama Attorney General Eric Holder is particularly enlightening.

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Trump's Fifth Judicial Appointment Confirmed:  On Tuesday the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of former Alabama Solicitor General Kevin Newsom to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Alex Swoyer of the Washington Times reports that this was the fifth Trump judicial pick confirmed this year, far outpacing Presidents Obama and George W. Bush.  Obama had zero appointees confirmed by August of 2009, Bush had three by August of his first year in office.  So far, in addition to Justice Gorsuch and Judge Newsom, Trump has placed two other judges in federal courts of appeal and one on a district court. There are 28 other Trump judicial appointees awaiting Senate confirmation.   

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Uber Driver Rapes Unconscious Passenger:  An habitual felon has been charged with raping a passenger who fell unconscious as he was driving her home.  Richard Winton Richard of the Los Angeles Times reports that Alaric Spence has been arrested for the June 26 kidnapping and sexual assault of the 24-year-old passenger.  After the passenger passed out in the back seat, Spence, who has five felony drug priors, drove to a motel and was caught on security video carrying her into a room.  While California law forbids hiring drivers who have had a felony conviction within seven years, in 2014 California's Proposition 47 converted most drug and property felonies to misdemeanors.  Any recent convictions Spence may have gotten for stealing a gun or TV, or transporting less than $900 worth of drugs, would not have been reported to Uber.  Earlier this month an Uber driver in the Bay Area was arrested for sexual battery of a passenger.  In April another Uber driver was arrested for the rape of a woman he picked up in Newport Beach.    

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1.4 Million Illegals Using Stolen SSA Numbers:  An audit by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General found that most illegal immigrants who pay taxes have stolen someone else's legal identity.  Stephen Dinan of the Washington times reports stolen Social Security numbers were used on an estimated 1.4 million returns filed in 2015.  The IRS tries to mark the files of fraud victims with electronic filings but it misses about half of them.  The IRS is not currently allowed to communicate with the Department of Homeland Security to identify who is using the stolen information and where they are.  Identity theft has become one of the most prevalent crimes in the U.S. with over 12 million victims annually. 

Mexico Sets Homicide Record in May:  New government statistics indicate that May was the bloodiest month in Mexico in twenty years with 2,186 reported murders.  Peter Orsi and Lisa Martine Jenkins of the Associated Press report that there have been 9,916 murders in the country during the first five months of 2017, over 2,000 more than at the same point last year.  In 2011, the Mexican government launched a military offensive against the drug cartels operating in the country.  Officials believe that this effort and ongoing wars between the cartels are responsible for the increased killings.  

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Rolling Stone Settles in Fake Rape Case:  In November of 2014 the Rolling Stone article "A Rape on Campus" by Sabrina Erdely described how seven men attending a University of Virginia frat party gang raped a co-ed named "Jackie."  T. Rees Shapiro of the Washington Post reports that the story went viral, making national headlines reinforcing the rich, arrogant, sexist, fratboy narrative which had previously fallen apart in the 2006 Duke Lacrosse case.  Then a police investigation, and a separate one by the Columbia University School of Journalism, announced that "Jackie" had lied.  No rape had occurred.  Today, UVA fraternity Phi Kappa Psi settled its lawsuit with Rolling Stone for $1.65 million.  

Two Prison Guards Killed During Escape:  A manhunt is underway in Putnam County, Georgia after two inmates on a transport bus overpowered and killed two guards and fled.  Fox News reports that both inmates are armed and are considered very dangerous.  Both inmates had been serving time for armed robbery when they overpowered the guards and shot them with their own guns.  A witness told police that the inmates were seen driving a dark green Honda.    

CA Bill Reduces Sentences for Gun Crimes:  The California Assembly Committee on Public Safety is considering a bill today that would eliminate the current sentence increase for criminals who use guns in the commission of felonies.  As the Los Angeles Times reports, SB 620 by Senator Steven Bradford (D. Los Angeles), which passed out of the state senate last month, would make the 10 year enhancement for the use of a firearm during the commission of felonies including rape, robbery and carjacking optional with the judge.  Supporters of the bill believe that removing the mandate will reduce racial disparities in sentencing.  Virtually every state law enforcement and crime victims group opposes the bill.   

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No Trump Obstruction of Justice:  ..."under our Constitution, the president has the authority to direct the FBI to stop investigating any individual...Yet virtually every Democratic pundit, in their haste to `get' President Trump, has willfully ignored these realities.  In doing so they have endangered our civil liberties and constitutional rights,"  writes Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz in this OpEd.   "I think that it is important to put to rest the notion that there was anything criminal about the president exercising his constitutional power to fire Comey and  to request -`hope'- that he let go the investigation of General Flynn," he added.  Included in his testimony yesterday is the news that the former head of the FBI leaked a private conversation with the president as reported by ABC News, and that Trump, according to Comey, encouraged investigations that might identify questionable contacts with the Russians by his staff, and the revelation that the New York Times falsely reported that the new president had colluded with the Russians, and you end up with this headline in this morning's Sacramento Bee: "Comey says Trump lied about why he was fired."

NSA Leak Suspect Denied Bail:  A federal magistrate judge yesterday denied bail to Reality Winner, a former NSA contractor employee accused of leaking classified information in violation of the Espionage Act, Katie Mettler reports in the WaPo.  The AUSA told the magistrate that Ms. Winner was both a flight risk and a danger to the public if released due to the valuable information she has.

Alabama Execution:  Alabama executed murderer Robert Melson last night for the 1994 killings of three employees of a Popeye's restaurant.  One Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court, 6-3, lifted a stay issued by a panel of the Eleventh Circuit.  Justice Thomas issued a temporary stay yesterday to allow the full court to consider a new petition.  The court denied the stay and vacated the temporary stay at 9:10 Alabama time, and the execution proceeded.  The challenge related to Alabama's use of midazolam, a problem caused by the anti-death-penalty movement's pressuring of pharmaceutical companies to cut off the supply of the better-suited barbiturate drugs.  Ivana Hrynkiw has this story with updates at AL.com.

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KS High Court Upholds Capital Murder Conviction:  In a unanimous decision announced last Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a man found guilty of the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl.  Justin Wingerter of the Topeka Capital Journal reports that on March 20, 2012, Billy Davis Jr. kidnapped the child from a sleepover at a friend's house, took her to the basement of his house, and then brutally raped, beat, and choked her to death.  Police later found the little girl's body in the basement stuffed in a dryer.  After his arrest, Davis admitted kidnapping and raping the girl but said he never intended to kill her.  He also admitted to burglarizing several apartments that night.  After Davis was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to LWOP, he appealed, arguing that he was too drunk and high on cocaine to have premeditated the murder.  The court rejected that claim.  

Typical Weekday in ChiTown--8 Shootings:  Four teenage boys were shot between 9:20 p.m. Wednesday night and 1:15 a.m. Thursday morning in Chicago, leaving one dead.  The Chicago Tribune reports that there were six other shootings Wednesday in the city's urban neighborhoods, but none of the victims have died so far.  The fatality was a 16-year-old boy shot in the head around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday on the city's South Side.
 

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WA Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence:  In an 8-1 decision announced Friday, the Washington Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Cecil Davis for the 1997 murder of Yoshiko Couch.  The Tacoma Weekly reports that after he was convicted and sentenced for rape, robbery, and murder of the 65-year-old woman, his death sentence was set aside for a trial error in 2004, and reinstated after a new sentencing trial in 2007.  Friday's decision rejected Davis's claim that the Washington's death penalty is unconstitutional because it does not require a jury to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a defendant facing the death penalty does not have an intellectual disability. 

Illegal Meth Traffickers Arrested:  Two illegal immigrants were arrested in an Ohio drug bust last week, which recovered cash and enough methamphetamine for 3,600 doses.  NBC4 Columbus reports that 33-year-old Francisco Torres-Davilla [sic] and 27-year-old Ramon Sanchez-Reyes admitted to sheriff's deputies that they were in the U.S. illegally to sell drugs.  Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones told reporters "that wall can't go up fast enough."  In March, the Washington Post reported that there were so many fatal drug overdoses in Ohio that one county coroner was using a cold-storage trailer as a temporary morgue.  According to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of opioid-related deaths skyrocketed from 296 in 2003 to 2,590 in 2015 -- a 775% jump over a 13-year period.

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The Worst Kind of Racism:  A piece by Heather MacDonald in yesterday's City Journal calls out the "Black Lives Matter" movement and the mainstream media for the racist hypocrites that they are.  Citing the example of a black habitual felon who beat another black man to death with a liquor bottle last November, which did not make the news even though the murder was caught on video, she correctly notes that "if a white man had beaten a black man to death it would have been international news.. But the routine taking of black lives by other blacks generates no interest in the mainstream media."  Last year 4,300 mostly black people were shot in Chicago.  The overwhelming majority of the shooters were black habitual criminals.  Apparently these black lives don't matter.

Three Teens Face Capital Murder Charges:  Two 17-year-old males and a third, whose age was not reported, will be arraigned Monday for the murder of a 6-year-old boy in Mississippi.  Fox News reports that the three males were caught on security cameras stealing a woman's car from a supermarket parking lot on Thursday.  The woman's 6-year-old son was in the car, which had been left running and unlocked while she was in the store.  Hours later the car was found abandoned with the little boy's body in the back seat.  He apparently died from a gunshot wound to the head.  Witnesses and the video helped police identify the suspects.  In Mississippi a-17-year old charged with capital murder is tried as an adult.  Although the crime is designated "capital" under state law, U.S. Supreme Court precedent precludes the death penalty for murderers under 18 at the time of the crime.
    

Morning News Notes

Several news items on crime and more-or-less related issues in the WSJ this morning:

Felicia Schwartz reports, "The Trump administration accused the Syrian government of operating a crematorium to cover up what U.S. officials called 'mass murders' at the notorious Saydnaya prison outside Damascus."

Paul Vigna reports that the WannaCry ransomware extortionists got $66,000 in Bitcoin, but actually cashing it in may expose them. 

Question:  How would we punish the extortionists if we catch them?  This is, after all, a "nonviolent" offense despite the fact that it caused many very sick people in Britain to miss medical treatments.  We are constantly assured by The People Who Are Soooooo Much Smarter Than The Rest Of Us that "nonviolent offenders" are per se harmless and of low culpability, so we should let them off with little more than a finger wag.  That is the enlightened and "smart" thing to do, the all-wise and all-good tell us.

Carol Lee and Shane Harris reports on the controversy over President Trump sharing intelligence information with the Russians during a White House meeting last week.

Brett Kendall reports on the oral argument in the Ninth Circuit on the travel ban case.

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9th Circuit Reviews Travel Ban Ruling:  A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit will hear the government's appeal of a ruling by a district judge in Hawaii who held that the government's temporary halt on immigrants from seven primarily Muslim countries was intended to discriminate against adherents of that religion.  Lee Ross of FoxNews reports that a panel in Seattle will hear argument today supporting the judge's finding that the President's statements during the campaign, rather than the actual language of the executive order, were sufficient to determine that the order is unconstitutional. Update:  Video of the oral argument is available here.

Sex Offender Arrested for Rape of 11-Year-Old:  A habitual sex offender has been arrested for rape of an 11-year-old girl, after eluding Minneapolis police for three weeks.  Nick Ferraro of the Pioneer Press reports that Christopher Blair, 35, was arrested Sunday at a motel in South Minneapolis.  He has been charged with repeatedly raping the girl last September in St. Paul.  In February, a doctor reported that the girl was pregnant.  One of the rapes was in what the victim described as a "parole house."   Blair was released from prison in April 2015 and has a history of attempts to kidnap women while armed.

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