Friday, December 10, 2010

Five federal judges say California may be about to execute an innocent man

Framed for Murder?
New York Times
December 8, 2010

“California may be about to execute an innocent man.”

That’s the view of five federal judges in a case involving Kevin Cooper, a black man in California who faces lethal injection next year for supposedly murdering a white family. The judges argue compellingly that he was framed by police.

Mr. Cooper’s impending execution is so outrageous that it has produced a mutiny among these federal circuit court judges, distinguished jurists just one notch below the United States Supreme Court. But the judicial process has run out for Mr. Cooper. Now it’s up to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to decide whether to commute Mr. Cooper’s sentence before leaving office.

This case, an illuminating window into the pitfalls of capital punishment, dates to a horrific quadruple-murder in June 1983. Doug and Peggy Ryen were stabbed to death in their house, along with their 10-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old houseguest. The Ryens’ 8-year-old son, Josh, was left for dead but survived. They were all white.

Josh initially told investigators that the crime had been committed by three people, all white, although by the trial he suggested that he had seen just one person with an Afro. The first version made sense because the weapons included a hatchet, an ice pick and one or two knives. Could one intruder juggling several weapons overpower five victims, including a 200-pound former Marine like Doug Ryen, who also had a loaded rifle nearby?

But the police learned that Mr. Cooper had walked away from the minimum security prison where he was serving a burglary sentence and had hidden in an empty home 125 yards away from the crime scene. The police decided that he had committed the crime alone.

William A. Fletcher, a federal circuit judge, explained his view of what happens in such cases in a law school lecture at Gonzaga University, in which he added that Mr. Cooper is “probably” innocent: “The police are under heavy pressure to solve a high-profile crime. They know, or think they know, who did the crime. And they plant evidence to help their case along.”

Judge Fletcher wrote an extraordinary judicial opinion — more than 100 pages when it was released — dissenting from the refusal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to rehear the case...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Former FBI agent on trial for murder

Trial begins for ex-FBI agent accused of killing son’s girlfriend with hammer
By Dave Toplikar
Las Vegas Sun
Dec. 7, 2010

The issue is was it self defense or murder?

"This is not a who-done-it ," Chief Deputy District Attorney Giancario Pesci told a Clark County District Court jury late Tuesday afternoon in opening arguments for the murder trial of Edward A. Preciado-Nuno, a retired San Diego FBI special agent.

The 63-year-old former Marine and 25-year FBI agent has freely admitted he repeatedly struck his son's girlfriend, Kimberly Long, with a hammer in the head in a bloody fight two years ago in a Las Vegas home, Pesci told the Clark County District Court jury.

Pesci showed the jury a gruesome autopsy photo of Long's head. It showed 13 places where Preciado-Nuno had hit her with a claw hammer...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fort Hood: Destroying Video of Shooting 'Could Be' a Crime

Fort Hood: Destroying Video of Shooting 'Could Be' a Crime
By ThirdAge News Staff
October 18, 2010

Fort Hood survivors have been forced to recall the massacre that claimed 13 lives at the Texas military facility last November in a military hearing. Meanwhile, two former U.S. military officials said ordering a soldier to erase cellphone videos of the mass shooting could be a crime.

Pfc. Lance Aviles, who escaped the shooting at Fort Hood last year that left 13 dead and at least 32 injured, said during an evidentiary hearing Friday for the accused, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, that an officer and a non-commissioned officer ordered him to delete the video on the day of the shooting, reported the San Antonio Express-News.

"It could be obstruction of justice because it could be potentially destruction of important evidence," Washington attorney F. Whitten Peters told the newspaper. Peters was was the Pentagon's No. 2 lawyer from 1995 to 1997, then became the Air Force's top civilian leader...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Deaf Texan Exonerated of Child Sex Assault Freed

Deaf Texan Exonerated of Child Sex Assault Freed

September 29, 2010

A deaf man exonerated of the rape of a 5-year-old suburban Dallas girl was released Tuesday after 17 years in prison, one day after a judge determined he was innocent.

Stephen Brodie's dad was there to greet the 39-year-old north Texas man when he walked out of the Dallas County jail. Brodie said through an interpreter that he was looking forward to being able to have lunch with his dad, J. Steve Brodie, now that he was out of jail.

Brodie also received an apology from Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, whose office had reopened the case and whose investigation ultimately led to Brodie's exoneration.

In this June 24, 2010 file photo, deaf inmate Stephen Brodie uses sign language to answer a question through an interpreter during a jailhouse interview in Dallas. A judge has set aside the 1993 conviction of Brodie, who was sent to prison for raping a 5-year-old girl despite an absence of physical evidence linking him to the attack.

Stephen Brodie was sent to prison for raping a 5-year-old girl despite an absence of physical evidence linking him to the attack. He was released Tuesday after a judge determined he was innocent.

A bureaucratic matter had kept Brodie from being released Monday, when a judge ruled Brodie had been wrongly prosecuted despite an absence of physical evidence linking him to the attack. Brodie also was serving prison time for failing to register in Lamar County as a sex offender. With the elimination of his 1993 conviction in the 1990 rape of the Richardson girl, he no longer needed to register and state prison officials signed off on his release Tuesday.

Brodie originally was arrested in 1991 for stealing quarters from a vending machine at a community swimming pool. While he was being questioned about that crime, police began asking about the unsolved rape of the 5-year-old girl a year earlier.

The case was reopened after his father wrote a letter to Watkins' office, which had started a unit dedicated to re-examining possible innocence cases.

Brodie has been deaf since childhood, but police questioned him for hours without an interpreter. He eventually confessed, but later told The Associated Press he felt scared and pressured.

Richardson police said Monday that Brodie initially declined their offer of an interpreter.

When a judge ruled the confession was admissible at trial, Brodie and his attorney figured a guilty verdict, which was punishable by up to 99 years, was all but certain. So they cut a deal - pleading guilty to assaulting the girl in exchange for a five-year sentence. After serving that sentence, Brodie served two more prison stints totaling five more years for twice failing to register as a sex offender.

Brodie was convicted even though a hair and a fingerprint that police believed came from the perpetrator were not a match. Moore said prosecutors failed to notify Brodie's trial attorney that testing showed the hair excluded Brodie as the source.

When Brodie was arrested and convicted, police knew the fingerprint, found on the window through which the perpetrator entered the victim's home, did not match their suspect or anyone living there.

A year after Brodie's conviction, police learned the fingerprint belonged to Robert Warterfield, who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in 1994. Warterfield also was suspected by Dallas police in the dozen unsolved sexual assaults and attempted assaults of young girls in the Dallas area.

Warterfield, who is free and working for a yard service in Stephenville, according to the state sex offender registry, was never charged in the attack for which Brodie served time...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Report: Significant cheating by FBI agents on exam

Report: Significant cheating by FBI agents on exam

Sept. 27, 2010

WASHINGTON — A Justice Department investigation has found that FBI agents, including several supervisors, cheated on an important test covering the bureau's policies for conducting surveillance on Americans.

Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine said Monday that his limited review of allegations that agents improperly took the open-book test together or had access to an answer sheet has turned up "significant abuses and cheating."

Fine called on the bureau to discipline the agents, throw out the results and come up with a new test to see if FBI agents understand new rules allowing them to conduct surveillance and open files on Americans without evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said that in cases in which misconduct has been determined, personnel actions were taken, and that process continues.

"We will follow up in each of the 22 cases the IG has found for disciplinary action, as appropriate, as well as any other allegations of misconduct," the FBI director said in a statement. Mueller said that when allegations of misconduct "first came to our attention, we moved quickly to investigate, bringing in the Office of Inspector General."

The troubling review of the exam on surveillance rules follows Fine's report last week on the FBI's scrutiny of domestic activist groups. That investigation found that the FBI gave inaccurate information to Congress and the public when it claimed a possible terrorism link to justify monitoring an anti-war rally in Pittsburgh in 2002. That IG report also criticized the factual basis for opening or continuing FBI domestic terrorism investigations of some other nonviolent left-leaning groups.

In the inquiry into the exam, the inspector general looked only at four FBI field offices and found enough troubling information to warrant a comprehensive review by the FBI.

In one FBI field office, four agents exploited a computer software flaw "to reveal the answers to the questions as they were taking the exam," Fine said.

Other test-takers used or circulated materials that essentially provided the test answers, he said.

Fine said that almost all of those who cheated "falsely certified" that they did the work themselves, without the help of others.

Last year, Assistant Director Joseph Persichini, the head of the FBI's Washington field office that investigates congressional wrongdoing and other crime in the nation's capital, retired amid a review of test-taking in his office.

Persichini wrote down the answers to the test while two of his most senior managers were in the room taking the exam together, the IG said. Persichini used the answers he had written down to complete the exam another day, the IG added. A legal adviser also was in the room with Persichini and the two agents discussing the questions and possible answers.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he was "especially disheartened that several FBI supervisors cheated on this exam" and the senator called on the FBI to implement "a more trustworthy exam process going forward and hold accountable those responsible for the cheating."...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Jury finds that senior police officials violated District's whistleblower act

Jury finds that senior police officials violated District's whistleblower act
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the department plans to challenge the verdict.
By Keith L. Alexander
The Washington Post
August 28, 2010

A D.C. Superior Court jury ruled that senior police officials, including Chief Cathy L. Lanier, violated the District's whistleblower act when they suspended a police officer in 2005 after he informed city officials that the department allegedly brokered an illegal deal to provide security for the Gallery Place entertainment area downtown.

The jury ruled Thursday that officer Sean McLaughlin was wrongly suspended after he alerted the mayor's office and the D.C. Council that the department had brokered a deal to make officers available to provide security in the area, after the department had rejected requests by McLaughlin and other officers to supply off-duty security in the same neighborhood.

Citing the District's Whistleblower Protection Act, the jury sided with McLaughlin, saying Lanier wrongly disciplined him. In 2005, the police union and nine officers filed a class-action suit against Lanier and the department, arguing that the officers were wrongfully punished for the disclosure.

Last year, Judge Judith E. Retchin dismissed the claim filed by six of the officers. But the jury found Thursday that the three remaining officers -- McLaughlin, Duane Fowler and Martin Freeman -- had alerted officials of the department's wrongdoing, constituting whistleblowing. In March 2005, Freeman was terminated and McLaughlin and Freeman were suspended...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Report: Wrong man may have been arrested in Buffalo shootings

Report: Wrong man may have been arrested in Buffalo shootings
From Rick Martin, CNN
August 15, 2010

Authorities may have arrested the wrong person in a shooting spree that killed four people in Buffalo, New York, according to a local television station.

Charges against Keith Johnson, 25, could be dropped, the Erie County district attorney told CNN affiliate WGRZ-TV.

The shooting Saturday also injured four others outside the City Grill in downtown Buffalo.

District Attorney Frank Sedita said photographic evidence collected by Buffalo police late Saturday night leads them to believe the wrong person might be in custody, the affiliate said...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Minnesota judge frees man convicted in acceleration crash of Toyota

Minnesota judge frees man convicted in acceleration crash of Toyota
By Jim Kavanagh and Emanuella Grinberg
August 6, 2010

A Minnesota man sent to prison after the deadly sudden-acceleration crash of his Toyota Camry has been freed by a judge, and the local prosecutor says he will not be retried.

Ramsey County, Minnesota, District Court Judge Joanne Smith on Thursday ordered Koua Fong Lee released from prison pending a new trial related to the 2006 crash that killed three people. Ramsey County Prosecutor Susan Gaertner immediately said she would drop the charges...

Outside the courtroom after the ruling, Lee, 32, said he wanted his four children, one of whom was born after he was jailed, to know what "Daddy" means..

Lee had always maintained his innocence, saying the 1996 Camry accelerated uncontrollably before it crashed into two vehicles, killing a man and his 10-year-old son and a 6-year-old girl...

In fact, the family of the victims had long ago become convinced of Lee's innocence and joined the effort to free him. They are suing Toyota...

"This never seemed right. A man with his family in the car -- his pregnant wife -- goes on a suicide mission? Then, the recalls started, and the complaints sounded just like what happened to Mr. Lee," Schafer said in March. "It sounds just like a case of unintended acceleration."

In the end, though, the conviction was vacated not only because of evidence of mechanical failure, but also because Judge Smith determined Lee's original attorney, Tracy Eichhorn-Hicks, had failed to defend him adequately at trial.

Eichhorn-Hicks had stated in court that Lee must have had his foot on the accelerator, even though Lee himself always maintained that he had pumped the brake to no avail...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Justice Department reviewing reports of FBI test cheating

Justice Department reviewing reports of FBI test cheating
By Carol Cratty
July 28, 2010

The Justice Department's Office
of Inspector General has
launched an investigation into
whether large numbers of FBI
agents may have improperly
taken a test on guidelines for
agents, according to FBI Director
Robert Mueller.

During a congressional hearing
Wednesday, Mueller was asked
about reports hundreds of agents
may have cheated on the exams,
which focused on guidelines that
limit surveillance, and he
responded he did not know the
precise number and is not certain
the inspector general knows that

Mueller said the inspector general
has told him about certain FBI
offices where testing problems
were "widespread, and it may be
attributable to a lack of
understanding and confusion
about procedures."

...Reports about test-taking
problems include instances where
agents finished the exams much
more quickly than would be
expected, and instances in which
agents might have taken the test
together, law enforcement officials

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Police officer incorrectly wrote in report that witness had mentioned race of professor trying to get into his own house

July 28, 2009
Recording of police calls adds to Gates controversy

The police sergeant who arrested Harvard University's Henry Louis Gates Jr. called the professor uncooperative and asked for backup officers and a police wagon, according to a recording of police radio transmissions.

Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley can be heard telling the radio dispatcher Gates isn't cooperating and saying to "keep the cars coming," according to the recording, made public Monday by the police department. Toward the end of the 4-minute, 37-second recording, Crowley asks if the wagon has been dispatched, a reference to a vehicle police use to transport arrestees.

The recording added to the controversy that has continued for a week, featuring Gates' accusation he was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge because he's black and President Barack Obama's criticism of the police department for "acting stupidly."

Gates, returning from a trip to China, and his driver had forced their way through the front door because it was jammed. Police dropped the charge last week and Obama invited Gates and Crowley to the White House for beer.
Break-ins in the area

Police also have released a recording of a woman's 911 phone call. A police report identifies the caller as Lucia Whalen. She couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

But her attorney, Wendy Murphy, said her client never mentioned the men's race to Crowley and is upset by news reports she believes have unfairly depicted her as a racist.

Whalen works nearby at the Harvard alumni magazine, her lawyer said. "She doesn't live in the area. She is by no means the entitled white neighbor. ... That has been the theme in the blogs and the implication in some of the mainstream news media," Murphy said Monday.

In the recording, when the police dispatcher asks the woman if the men were white, black or Hispanic, she describes one as looking "kind of Hispanic" and says she didn't get a good look at the other.

Crowley wrote in his police report that Whalen told him that "she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch."...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Trading sex for dismissing tickets?

Trading sex for dismissing tickets?
Trial begins for accused CHP officer
By Kelly Wheeler, City News Service
June 7, 2010

A former California Highway Patrol officer who asked a judge to dismiss a speeding ticket against a female motorist, then spent the lunch hour in an Oceanside hotel room with her, should be convicted of perjury and other charges, a prosecutor said Monday.

The attorney for Abram Carabajal, however, said the 53-year-old married defendant committed no crime and simply developed a romantic relationship with the woman in the months after he wrote the ticket. In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Dort said Carabajal routinely wrote more tickets than any officer in the Oceanside CHP
office and had a history of stopping women for speeding, then giving them his phone number and offering to “work something out.”

Dort said Carabajal pulled over Shirin Zarrindej of Encino for speeding on southbound Interstate 5 near Camp Pendleton on March 12, 2008.

Zarrindej — who is also charged in the case with subordination of perjury, bribery of a witness and conspiracy to obstruct justice — had multiple tickets on her records at the time of the stop, the prosecutor said...

Monday, May 17, 2010

7-year-old girl killed in Detroit police raid

A 7-Year-Old's Killing: Detroit's Latest Outrage
By Steven Gray
May. 18, 2010

It often seems that even the most heinous crime fails to move Detroit, a city almost numb to violence. But a series of shooting deaths in recent days have been particularly chilling. The killings have struck across all age groups: a grandmother, a middle-aged cop, a 7-year-old child. This time, outrage is building, but what will it lead to? Is there anything more substantive the city can do to fight gun violence? Can the city afford to put more officers on the streets? The city's reputation for crime needs a turning point — and soon.

The most recent case began last Friday, May 14, when a 17-year-old high school student standing in front of a store in one of Detroit's bleakest neighborhoods was shot by a man twice his age for reasons that remain unclear. The boy, police said, stumbled across the street, collapsed and died. Then, shortly after midnight Sunday, Detroit police officers arrived at a two-story house not far away. (See Detroit kids and their dreams of the future.)

With a warrant in hand, they planned to search the house for the 34-year-old suspect. Officers say they announced their presence and then tossed a flash grenade into the front window of one side of the duplex to disorient the people inside. Then, police say, officers entered the house, where a 46-year-old grandmother in the front room allegedly struggled with an officer. Next, police say, an officer's gun discharged, fatally shooting the woman's 7-year-old granddaughter Aiyana Stanley Jones.

At a press conference Tuesday, defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who is representing Aiyana's family, offered this narrative: The flash grenade was thrown through the plate-glass window of the home's living room, apparently landing on Aiyana, who was sleeping with her grandmother on a sofa. Almost simultaneously, he said, a shot was fired into the house. The grandmother, Mertilla Jones, said Tuesday that as soon as the grenade shattered the window, she leaped to the floor. "I wanted to reach my granddaughter," Jones said, sobbing loudly. "I seen the light leave out her eyes, and I knew she was dead. She had blood coming out her mouth. Lord Jesus," Jones continued, "I ain't never seen nothing like that ... You can't trust Detroit police." Police officers, Fieger said, then rushed through the front door, which was unlocked. (See the death and possible life of Detroit.)

The day before, Fieger, who once represented Dr. Jack Kevorkian, claimed he had seen videotape of the incident filmed by a reality-TV crew that had accompanied the police. He alleged that police, moreover, may have raided the wrong side of the duplex, since the 34-year-old suspect was eventually arrested in another part of the building...

Detroit Girl's Death Called a 'Breaking Point' at Funeral

Ed White
May 22, 2010

Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton gave a rousing eulogy Saturday for a 7-year-old girl killed in a police raid, challenging the hundreds of mourners to take responsibility and help stop a spiral of violence that has swept the city...

Aiyana was shot in the neck while sleeping on a couch May 16. Police hunting for a murder suspect say an officer's gun accidentally fired inside the house after he was jostled by, or collided with, her grandmother. A stun grenade was also thrown through a window.

A lawyer for Aiyana's family, Geoffrey Fieger, is suing and claims the shot was fired from outside the house immediately after the grenade was used. A camera crew working on the A&E reality series "The First 48" accompanied police on the raid.

"Do they throw these flash grenades in everybody's neighborhood? Would you have gone in Bloomfield Hills and did what you did?" Sharpton said, referring to a wealthy Detroit suburb. "Have you ever heard of putting on a light and calling people to come out?"...

7-year-old girl killed in Detroit police raid
By the CNN Wire Staff
May 17, 2010

(CNN) -- Police in Detroit, Michigan, on Sunday expressed "profound sorrow" at the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old girl in a police raid.

Aiyana Jones was shot and killed by police executing a search warrant as part of a homicide investigation, Assistant Chief Ralph Godbee said in a statement.

"This is any parent's worst nightmare," Godbee said. "It also is any police officer's worst nightmare. And today, it is all too real."

The warrant was executed about 12:40 a.m. ET Sunday at a home on the city's east side, Godbee said. Authorities believed the suspect in the Friday shooting death of 17-year-old high school student Jarean Blake was hiding out at the home. Blake was gunned down in front of a store as his girlfriend watched, Godbee said.

Preliminary information indicates that members of the Detroit Police Special Response Team approached the house and announced themselves as police, Godbee said, citing the officers and at least one independent witness.

"As is common in these types of situations, the officers deployed a distractionary device commonly known as a flash bang," he said in the statement. "The purpose of the device is to temporarily disorient occupants of the house to make it easier for officers to safely gain control of anyone inside and secure the premise."

Upon entering the home, the officer encountered a 46-year-old female inside the front room, Godbee said. "Exactly what happened next is a matter still under investigation, but it appears the officer and the woman had some level of physical contact.

"At about this time, the officer's weapon discharged one round which, tragically, struck 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley Jones in the neck/head area."...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The NYPD Tapes: Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct

The NYPD Tapes: Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct
By Graham Rayman Tuesday, May 4 2010

Two years ago, a police officer in a Brooklyn precinct became gravely concerned about how the public was being served. To document his concerns, he began carrying around a digital sound recorder, secretly recording his colleagues and superiors.
Chad Griffith

At 1.7 square miles, the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant is one of the smallest in the city, but the densely populated neighborhood is also a rough place to work. One cop there recently told us, “It keeps you from getting bored is about all you can say.”

He recorded precinct roll calls. He recorded his precinct commander and other supervisors. He recorded street encounters. He recorded small talk and stationhouse banter. In all, he surreptitiously collected hundreds of hours of cops talking about their jobs.

Made without the knowledge or approval of the NYPD, the tapes—made between June 1, 2008, and October 31, 2009, in the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant and obtained exclusively by the Voice—provide an unprecedented portrait of what it's like to work as a cop in this city.

They reveal that precinct bosses threaten street cops if they don't make their quotas of arrests and stop-and-frisks, but also tell them not to take certain robbery reports in order to manipulate crime statistics. The tapes also refer to command officers calling crime victims directly to intimidate them about their complaints.

As a result, the tapes show, the rank-and-file NYPD street cop experiences enormous pressure in a strange catch-22: He or she is expected to maintain high "activity"—including stop-and-frisks—but, paradoxically, to record fewer actual crimes.

This pressure was accompanied by paranoia—from the precinct commander to the lieutenants to the sergeants to the line officers—of violating any of the seemingly endless bureaucratic rules and regulations that would bring in outside supervision.

The tapes also reveal the locker-room environment at the precinct. On a recording made in September, the subject being discussed at roll call is stationhouse graffiti (done by the cops themselves) and something called "cocking the memo book," a practical joke in which officers draw penises in each other's daily notebooks.

"As far as the defacing of department property—all right, the shit on the side of the building . . . and on people's lockers, and drawing penises in people's memo books, and whatever else is going on—just knock it off, all right?" a Sergeant A. can be heard saying. "If the wrong person sees this stuff coming in here, then IAB [the Internal Affairs Bureau] is going to be all over this place, all right? . . . You want to draw penises, draw them in your own memo book. . . And don't actually draw on the wall." He then adds that just before an inspection, a supervisor had to walk around the stationhouse and paint over all the graffiti...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oops! Sorry, wrong woman arrested for slealing from elderly

Maybe police should be careful of cross-racial identification, especially by elderly?

I don't understand why some people can't apologize when they make a harmful mistake. It makes me wonder if the police and District Attorney think that it's okay for them to trample on people like this and then shrug it off. This isn't what we pay them to do. They get high salaries to do a thorough, professional job.

Woman wrongly arrested wants apology
By Brian Flores
FOX 5 San Diego
April 14, 2010

LA MESA, Calif. - A La Mesa woman who was mistakenly arrested for a series of crimes against senior citizens says she wants and apology from the San Diego District Attorney's Office and police.

Deidria Nicholson told Fox 5 News that she didn't know what she was being arrested for Thursday, but she knew it was a serious situation.

"I can tell you that at that moment, I did not fully understand the charges against me," Nicholson said. "But when I got outside and saw the media, I thought, somebody out here made a big mistake."

Earlier this month, police released a video surveillance photo of a woman responsible for a string of burglaries against local elderly people. Investigators received a phone tip last Thursday that led them to Nicholson. Nicholson said her La Mesa apartment was surrounded by 10 to 14 police officers that afternoon. She said the officers gathered evidence, including receipts, post cards, and some of her hair products. She said she was taken away in handcuffs.

Nicholson's son, Ellis Twine II, said his mother's arrest was bewildering to everyone who knows her.

"I was just shocked, and everybody I told about was in shock, thinking if it was an April fool's joke or something," Twine said.

Nicholson spent five days in custody. She was arraigned Monday afternoon and pleaded not guilty. She adamantly maintained that she was a victim of mistaken identity. Just hours after the arraignment, prosecutors dropped all charges and Nicholson was released. Authorities said they had arrested the wrong person...

New Info Prompts Release Of Woman In Elderly Thefts
Deirdria Nicholson, 50, Arrested Last Thursday
April 12, 2010
10 News

EL CAJON, Calif. -- Questions about the suspect's identity prompted prosecutors Monday to drop their case against a La Mesa woman accused of stealing the purses and pocketbooks of seven people after talking her way into homes in El Cajon, Lake Murray and San Diego.

Deirdria Nicholson, 50, pleaded not guilty this afternoon to charges of burglary, theft from an elder and unauthorized use of an access card and was ordered held on $150,000 bail. Nicholson left Vista Jail at about 10:30 Monday night.

During the arraignment, defense attorney Herb Weston told Judge David Szumowski that his client was adamant there had been a "complete misidentification" in the case.

Two hours later, Deputy District Attorney Dan Link said new information regarding identity had come to light, and the case against Nicholson was being dismissed...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Texas Tough

A piece about the controversial ruling and subsequent reversal over the consitutionality of dealth penalty in Texas this week.

It's by Robert Perkinson, a historian and author whose new book, Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire examines the history of the penal system in Texas -The most locked-down state in the country, and first in executions. Moving from slavery to the present, he shows how Texas' prison system came to serve as the national template for criminal justice, and how incarceration today perpetuates racial disparities in similar ways as convict-leasing and segregation did in post-Civil War America.

Friday, February 19, 2010

McIntosh County Sheriff Joe Hogan under investigation

McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office under investigation
Tulsa World
By RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer

EUFAULA - The embattled McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office is under investigation again. McIntosh County District Attorney Tom Guilioli has asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to look into allegations of official misconduct in the sheriff’s department, OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said Friday.

Sheriff Joe Hogan, who took office in June, is a former OSBI agent.

“We are going to investigate him like we do anybody else,” Brown said.

The news comes just months after the county sheriff and undersheriff were imprisoned on state and federal charges.

Former Sheriff Terry Alan Jones and ex-undersheriff Mykol Travis Brookshire pleaded guilty in state court to embezzlement and conspiraracy for taking money from a motorist. Jones and Brookshire were sentenced in November to 14 and 13 years in prison, respectively.

Both confessed to splitting $5,000 taken from a motorist during a traffic stop.

Their state prison terms are running concurrently to their 27-month federal sentences, which are related to the same crime and were handed down in September. In June, they pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Muskogee to conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce under color of law.

Neither Guilioli nor Hogan could immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Hogan, 60, was an agent/deputy inspector with the OSBI from 1981-2007 and was a chemist-toxicologist with the Texas Department of Public Safety from 1972-81. At the time of his hiring as sheriff, he had been working since 2008 as a security guard manager at the Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester.