Category Archives: Crime

Perry gives the middle finger to international law

By Calvin Palmer

Humberto Leal Garcia Jr had is life brought to an end last night by officials of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. His execution had been authorized by Gov Rick Perry despite pleas from President Obama and President George W. Bush to grant a stay of execution in order to comply with the Vienna Convention.

Leal, a Mexican citizen, had not been informed of his consular rights during his questioning by police, following the 1994 rape and murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda in San Antonio. While there is no doubt concerning Leal’s guilt of the crime, his rights were clearly violated.

Perry’s stance on law and order seems only to apply if he agrees with the law in question. His action does little to enhance America’s standing in the international community when he gives the equivalent of the middle finger to the Court of International Justice.

Perry is Pro Life and yet he signs execution orders with alarming regularity. Life is an absolute and not a relative. But there you go, right-wing inconsistency and hypocrisy writ large.

Perry could argue that he was saving Texas the cost of keeping 38-year-old Leal in prison for the rest of his natural life. Seeing as how Perry has presided over a $30 billion state deficit, despite cutting public services to the bone. I suppose every dollar counts just as long as it doesn’t come out of his pocket and his quality of life remains unaffected.

Perry’s tough stance on the death penalty would seem to satisfy the penchant for bloodlust exhibited by a great many Republicans and its tea party acolytes. It is the kind of bloodlust that saw seven people shot and killed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the same day Leal was executed.

It will come as no surprise to find that Perry stands firmly behind the right to bear arms and signed a bill this year allowing concealed weapons to be carried on Texas college campuses.

I bet those victims of yesterday’s Michigan shooting rampage wish there had been tighter control on gun ownership. I doubt the shooter, Rodrick Shonte Dantzler, would have killed those seven people with his bare hands.

Death don’t have no mercy in this land.

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Poor health becomes a tired excuse for alleged war criminals

By Calvin Palmer

Lawyers for alleged war criminal former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic attempted to halt his extradition on the grounds of ill health.

“I don’t think the trial will take place. He will not live to the start of the trial,” said Milos Saljic, Mladic’s lawyer. “I will make the appeal to prolong things a little bit, so the extradition does not take place right away.”

Mr Saljic has demanded new medical examinations for his client, aged 69, to test his mental faculties and ability to defend himself in a foreign, international tribunal.

“He is in an alarming state and needs to be examined by an independent team of experts. We think he is not able to be in court and talk about his case because of his neurological problems,” he said.

“He has had three strokes so it is a miracle he is alive anyway. He still speaks incoherently.”

The legal challenge to stop Mladic’s extradition to a UN war crimes tribunal after his arrest last Thursday was rejected today by three judges in a Belgrade court.

Bruno Vekaric, the deputy Serbian war crimes prosecutor, said that Gen. Mladic would be deported to the Netherlands “as soon as possible”.

He is charged with war crimes and genocide for atrocities carried out by troops under his command during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, indictments that include the 44-month shelling of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre.

It seems a common ploy for alleged war criminals to play the ill-health card.

Lawyers for John Demjanjuk, of Seven Hills, Ohio, tried tin 2009 to stop the extradition of the then 89-year-old to Germany to face trial as an accessory to the deaths of 29,000 inmates at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943 on the grounds of his poor health and being too frail to travel.

Surprisingly, Demjanjuk not only survived the trip to Munich but also stayed alive for his 18-month long trial during which he appeared in a wheelchair and at times a stretcher.

Demjanjuk, 91, was eventually found guilty on May 12 and sentenced to five years in prison. Judge Ralph Alt released him, pending appeal, which could take six months.

The German newspaper Bild last week published photographs of Demjanjuk walking outside the German nursing home in Bad Feilnbach, near Rosenheim, southern Germany, where he now lives under the headline, “The Bad Guy’s Miracle Recovery.”

John Demjanjuk Jr. denounced the newspaper’s “sensationalism” and said his father has always been able to walk short distances on good days and that his medical condition is well documented.

I just wish lawyers for alleged war criminals would come up with a different excuse for halting extradition. They could argue their client wants to see America’s Got Talent 2011 or, if they are really a sad case, the Wimbledon tennis championships!

And if Mladic’s lawyer is so convinced his client “will not live to the start of the trial”, perhaps he could also let us in on the winning numbers of this week’s lottery and practice under the name of Mystic Milos!

[Based on reports by The Daily Telegraph and Associated Press.]

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Palin’s response to Arizona shooting fails to mention condemnation

By Calvin Palmer

As an Englishman living in America, I find yesterday’s shooting in Arizona of an elected representative both appalling and tragic.

Little is known about the suspected gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, from Tucson, Arizona, who killed six people and left Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life after she was shot in the head at point-blank range.

Loughner was described by a doctor who treated some of the victims at the scene as a young white man with a “determined look on his face” and wearing dark clothing.

Congresswoman Giffords had narrowly beaten off tough challenge in November’s congressional elections by a Tea Party-backed Republican candidate. She had previously received death threats and her offices had been shot at.

Tea Party idol Sarah Palin in the run-up to the election published a “target map” on her web site using images of gun sights to identify 20 Democrats, including Miss Giffords.

But enough people in Arizona had the good sense to re-elect Giffords to her third term in Congress.

In an interview after the vandalism, Giffords referred to the animosity against her.

“We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list,” she said, “but the thing is, the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realise that there are consequences to that action.”

Her father Spencer Giffords, 75, when asked if his daughter had any enemies, told reporters, “Yeah, the whole Tea Party.”

Palin has issued a brief statement.

“My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona,” she said.

“On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.”

If that is the best that someone who hopes to become President of the United States can say about this shocking incident then I fear for America’s future. It is a prime example of insincere sincerity, an unfortunate trait of many ultra-conservatives.

The inclusion of Todd and her family smacks of delusions of grandeur but is in keeping with their ignorant white trash status. No surprise there.

President Obama said the attack was “an unspeakable tragedy” and added: “We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society.

“I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Rep Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers.”

The newly-elected Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, said: “I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.”

Notice how the President and House Speaker used words like “unspeakable” and “senseless” in their statements.

Condemnation is notable by its absence in the statement by Palin, which simply proves she truly represents gutter politics and is unfit to hold high office.

[Based on reports by The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.]

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Baby killed by Florida mother for interrupting computer game

By Calvin Palmer

A Florida mother charged with the murder of her three-month-old son by shaking him to death pleaded guilty today to second-degree murder

Alexandra V. Tobias, 22, of Arlington, Jacksonville, was arrested in January after the death of Dylan Lee Edmondson.

The Florida Times-Union reported that Tobias had told police she had been playing a computer game called Farmville on the social networking Web site, Facebook, when Dylan started crying. She said she shook the baby before calling 911 and his head “could have” hit the computer.

“I think what sparked her was … the baby’s crying,” said Lt Larry Schmitt of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office homicide unit.”It was enough to apparently put her over the edge.”

Tobias also told police after the first shake, she laid Dylan on a living-room couch and went to smoke a cigarette to “gain her composure”. She said the family dog knocked the boy off the couch, causing him to cry. She said she picked him up and shook him again, causing him to stop breathing, at which point she called 911.

The baby was taken to Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital with injuries to his head and a broken leg. He was pronounced dead 24 hours later. The autopsy found abusive head trauma.

Tobias entered her plea today before Circuit Judge Adrian G. Soud. She faces a minimum sentence of 25 years.

Judge Soud offered no promises on what he will order during a sentencing hearing scheduled for December.

Outside the courtroom, Prosecutor Richard Mantei said the plea by Tobias will help avoid the family reliving the tragedy during a jury trial.

[Based on a report by The Florida Times Union.]

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Man faces charges after 15-inch penis tattooed on friend’s back

By Calvin Palmer

A man in Queensland, Australia, has found out that his friend is not quite the friend he thought him to be.

The 25-year-old ended up with a tattoo featuring a 15-inch (40-cm) penis on his back, together with a misspelled slogan implying that he is gay.

Police have charged a 21-year-old man from Bundamba, near Ipswich, with two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and one offence relating to the public safety act. He will appear in Ipswich Magistrates Court on November 15.

Police say the man, who is not a professional tattooist, talked his friend into having the tattoo while the friend was visiting him at home.

After the 25-year-old victim got home, he was horrified to discover the tattoo was far from what he expected.

The tattooing followed a disagreement between the pair that culminated with the Bundamba man taking offence at something the victim said.

Detective Constable Paul Malcolm of Ipswich police said the victim was extremely upset.

“Apparently he went round to the other bloke’s house and somehow in the course of the conversation the subject of tattoos came up,” Malcolm said.

“The victim wasn’t interested at first but he was talked into it and he said he wanted a Yin and Yang symbol with some dragons.

“He rolled him on to his stomach and the bloke started doing the tattoo and there was another bloke standing there watching saying, ‘Mate, it’s looking really good’.

“When he got home he showed it to the person he lives with and she said: ‘I don’t think it’s the tattoo you were after’.”

The man was also allegedly punched and thrown out of the Bundamba man’s house after he was tattooed.

Removal of the tattoo by laser treatment could cost up to A$2,000 ($1,968, £1,243).

[Based on a report by The Ipswich Advertiser.]

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Former FBI agent has theory proving Amanda Knox’s innocence

By Calvin Palmer

Amanda Knox is innocent, so says former FBI agent Steve Moore based on his years of experience with the bureau.

Moore argues that when someone’s throat is cut, as was the case with British student Meredith Kercher, blood spurts into the air. Kercher would have lost more than four pints of blood. The killer, or killers, would have been covered in her blood and their footprints would have left bloody trails of guilt.

“You cannot just scrub it off,” said Moore. “Blood is God’s way of identifying the man with the knife.”

Moore feels a great injustice has been committed and is trying to whip up counterparts in Italy to do the work to prove his theory is correct and Knox is innocent.

Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted last December for the murder of Meredith in the house in Perugia, Italy, she shared with Knox.

Meredith’s room was found to be full of full of the finger and footprints of Rudy Guede, a drifter, burglar and small-time drug dealer originally from the Ivory Coast. But there was not a single bloody footprint belonging to Knox or Sollecito.

Moore asserts it is “absolutely impossible” they could have been in the room when Meredith died.

“There are no footprints of theirs in the blood,” he said. “To believe the prosecution case, they would have had to have been floating on a magic carpet.”

Moore claims the lack of clarity in their mutual alibi is not the real issue. The onus is on the prosecution to justify its claims.

In a crime scene, Moore says, “the absence of evidence is evidence of absence” of the key suspects, and the prosecutors did not come close to putting Amanda and Raffaele in the room where Meredith died.

Moore is also scathing about the prosecutors’ “read” on the crime scene, which is contradicted by all the forensic evidence, as if a “group of libidinous adolescent boys had tried to imagine the most lascivious thing that they believed could have happened”.

Knox does not satisfy any of the criteria that might suggest she would harm, never mind kill, Meredith, according to Moore. “In the FBI, we took the view that the simplest explanation of a crime is almost always the best explanation,” he said.

He believes not only does Amanda not fit the psychological profile of a killer in any respect, but she also doesn’t fit the profile of a person capable of violence.

Guede, whose guilt is not in doubt, has already had his sentence cut in half, and it could be cut again, setting him free within a year or two. Knox’s supporters believe a deal has been struck.

Moore is quick to point out that he is not writing a book, not being paid as a consultant by the Knox camp in Seattle. Indeed, his mission to expose the faults in the trial has cost him his job with Pepperdine University. He was fired last month for refusing to drop his campaign.

Pepperdine University has an affiliated campus in Italy and Moore’s campaigning on behalf of Knox was causing political problems there.

So there you have it. The Italian prosecutors got it all wrong. The jury was hoodwinked into delivering the wrong verdict as part of a witch hunt, according to Moore.

It all sounds very plausible, just like the theories that the attacks of 9/11 were orchestrated by the CIA. But they are just that theories and devoid of hard evidence and facts.

Is Moore privy to every police report in the Kercher case? No.

Was Moore present at the crime scene shortly after the murder was committed? No

How likely is it that Moore has personal contacts with the police force in Perugia? Unlikely.

Why is Moore the only former member of the FBI to reach these startling conclusions? My guess is personal vanity and ego.

How good an agent was Moore during his time with the FBI? No one knows of his record. It could be that he was an absolute dullard but made good coffee for the rest of the team. He is on record as saying that he quit the FBI because he was tired of foreign travel. Or could it be that he quit because he was still a field agent after 25 years with bureau and had been passed over for promotion on several occasions? We just don’t know but are expected to believe that he is right where everyone else is wrong.

Why haven’t we heard from other law enforcement officers expressing the same opinions as Moore, if they are so self evident regarding Knox’s innocence? Over to you, Inspector Knacker of Scotland Yard.

We only have Moore’s version of why he was fired by Pepperdine University. What is the university’s side of the story? Could it be that Moore was falling down on the job he was employed to do?

His quote, “Blood is God’s way of identifying the man with the knife,” brings into question his credibility both regarding his theory and his abilities as an FBI agent. Perhaps God revealed Knox’s innocence to Moore in a dream. So that explains why the FBI has such a success rate in solving all of its cases.

What we have here is a man in the throes of a mid-life crisis, no longer in a job of any importance and unable to come to terms with his reduced status? What better way to get back into the spotlight, and massage his ego, than to take up this cause célèbre.

Knox is due to appeal against her conviction for murder next month, which probably explains Moore’s timely intervention.

Stefano Maffei, a University of Parma professor of criminal procedure, says the appeal court is likely to agree with the murder conviction but find that mitigating factors outweigh the aggravated ones, which leads to a one-third reduction in sentence.

According to Maffei, 18 Italian magistrates have reviewed the evidence in the Knox case and come to the same conclusion of culpability, which somehow ingrains the decision into the judiciary.

But in the light of Knox’s good behavior, and other sociological reasons, her sentence is likely to be reduced, he said.

The prosecution is also appealing that Knox’s sentence be increased from 26 years to life.

[Based on reports by the London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph and Seattle Post-Intelligencer.]

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Missing girl feared dead as stepmother appears in court over fake ransom note

By Calvin Palmer

The stepmother of a 10-year-old cancer survivor who was reported missing at the weekend appeared in court today charged with obstruction of justice.

Elisa Baker, 42, of Hickory, North Carolina, showed no emotion as the charge was read out and was told she could be sentenced to up to 30 months in prison if convicted.

Missing cancer survivor Zahra Claire Baker. Picture courtesy of AP.

Zahra Claire Baker was reported missing last weekend. Elisa Baker is accused of trying to throw off investigators with a fake ransom note.

The 10-year-old had battled bone cancer, which cost her left leg. She wore a prosthetic but would tell people she lost the leg to an alligator.

Zahra also suffered from impaired hearing and wore hearing aids in both ears.

Cadaver dogs detected the presence of human remains in the cars of Elisa Baker and her husband, Adam Baker, and also at the place where he worked – Real Tree Services in Morganton, but searches have so far have failed to turn up any evidence.

Last night, Hickory police switched the investigation from missing person to homicide.

Neighbors of the Bakers have painted a gloomy picture of the life Zahra led.

Bobby Green, who helped Adam get a job with the tree trimming company, described Zahra’s mother as a mean woman who could not be trusted.

“I think she’s evil,” Green said. “She lied about everything all the time. She had a short fuse, especially with Zahra, because she was jealous of the time she spent with her father.”

Green said Elisa was physically abusive toward her stepdaughter and thinks she is behind Zahra’s disappearance. He also suspects that Adam Baker may also be involved in the crime.

Fred Causby operates Real Tree Services from his home on Hartland Road north of Morganton and hired Baker as a laborer about six months ago.

Describing Elisa Baker, Causby said, ““I think the elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top. She seemed very controlling.”

Family members say they suspect Zahra’s stepmother physically abused her.

Brittany Bentley, of Granite Falls, is married to Elisa Baker’s nephew and said she would have Zahra over for weekends and knew something was wrong.

Zahra “was locked in her room, allowed five minutes out a day to eat, that was it,” Bentley said. “She was beat almost every time I was over there for just the smallest things.

Elisa would get mad. She would take it out on Zahra, things the kid didn’t deserve. She just had a horrible home life.”

Zahra was born in Wagga Wagga, Australia, and moved to North Carolina with her father last year after he met Elisa Baker on the Internet. The couple married in July.

Zahra’s mother lives in Australia but is believed not to have had any contact with her daughter since Zahra was a baby.

An air of revulsion hangs over this story. Zahra deserved a far better fate than the one that has apparently befallen her. If she could not trust and depend on people close to her, whom could she trust? To have battled and survived cancer, no easy feat by any stretch of the imagination, only to fall prey to evil, in whatever human guise, kind of leaves me sick to my stomach at the depths to which some people will descend. And for what?

[Based on reports by the Associated Press, Hickory Daily Record and Sydney Morning Herald.]

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