Monday, August 20, 2012

Autopsy: Death of handcuffed man in Ark. a suicide

Autopsy: Death of handcuffed man in Ark. a suicide
The Associated Press
August 20, 2012

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An autopsy report released Monday lists the death of a man shot in the head while his hands were cuffed behind him in an Arkansas patrol car as a suicide.

The state crime lab report, signed by three medical examiners, said the muzzle of a gun was placed against the right side of 21-year-old Chavis Carter's head when it was fired. Jonesboro police released the report to The Associated Press and other news organizations under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The report said the manner of death was ruled a suicide based on autopsy findings and investigative conclusions from the Jonesboro police department.

"He was cuffed and placed into a police car, where apparently he produced a weapon, and despite being handcuffed, shot himself in the head," the report says.

Police have said officers frisked Carter twice after a traffic stop without finding a gun before he was fatally shot July 28.

The autopsy report comes days after police released video recorded the night Carter was shot in Jonesboro, about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock. Part of the video showed Carter being patted down and ended before officers found Carter slumped over and bleeding in the back of a patrol car as was described in a police report. Police later released additional video they said came after Carter was found.

Carter's death came after police stopped a truck in which he was riding. The driver and another passenger eventually were allowed to go, but police said Carter had an outstanding arrest warrant. Court records show it had to do with a drug charge out of Mississippi's DeSoto County.

Carter was searched twice and police said they found a small amount of marijuana, but no gun.

After the first search, an officer put Carter into a patrol car without handcuffing him. He was later searched again, handcuffed and returned to the same car.

Officers a short time later saw Carter slumped over in the backseat and covered in blood, according to the report, which concluded he had managed to conceal a handgun with which he shot himself. He later died at a hospital, and the report listed his death as a suicide...

Autopsy: Man Shot In Police Car Had Meth In System
August 20, 2012


...The autopsy report comes days after police released dashboard camera video recorded the night Carter was shot in Jonesboro, about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock. Part of the video showed Carter being patted down and ended before officers found Carter slumped over and bleeding in the back of a patrol car as was described in a police report. Police later released additional video they said was recorded after Carter was found.

Neither included the moment they say Carter shot himself
, and the footage did little to resolve questions about how the shooting could have happened. Jonesboro police previously had released a video reconstruction of the shooting showing how a man could shoot himself in the head with his hands cuffed behind him.

In producing that video, the agency said it used the same type of handcuffs used on Carter and the same model of handgun found near him after he died: a .380-caliber Cobra semi-automatic. An officer of similar height and weight as Carter sat in the back of a cruiser, leaned over and was able to lift the weapon to his head and reach the trigger.

The autopsy report said Carter was about 5-foot-8 and that his body weighed 150 pounds.

Irwin called Monday for the full dashboard video and audio from the night of the shooting to be released before final conclusions are drawn.

"They should be disclosing every bit of evidence as quickly as they can," he said.

Cellphone videos, other phone records, search warrant returns and investigative portions of the incident report had yet to be released, police spokesman Sgt. Lyle Waterworth said...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Psychiatrist's Talk of Rap Sheet Voids Pot Conviction

Psychiatrist's Talk of Rap Sheet Voids Pot Conviction
Matt Potter
September 14, 2011

A psychiatrist's testimony about an alleged pot smuggler's "rap sheet" has resulted in reversal by the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals of defendant Brad Ray Santini's San Diego federal district court conviction for attempting to cross the border at Calexico in September 2008 with 28 kilograms of marijuana stashed in the rear seat and spare tire of his Jeep Cherokee.

"Santini's defense at trial was that someone else had placed the marijuana in his car without his knowledge," according to the ruling by the appellate court's three judge panel.

"The defense claimed that Santini may have been tricked, arguing that he was easy to manipulate due to a traumatic brain injury he had suffered in 2005.

"Dr. Dean Delis, a clinical psychologist, testified that Santini had suffered 'a severe traumatic brain injury' and that tests showed Santini 'has permanent cognitive deficits' as a result. Dr. Delis explained that Santini's type of injury can cause difficulty with 'social perception of other people.'

"The government sought to rebut this testimony by presenting its own expert, psychiatrist Dr. Mark Kalish.

"Dr. Kalish testified that his evaluation did not show that Santini's brain injury made him more vulnerable to manipulation. Dr. Kalish based this opinion in part on Santini's 'rap sheet.'

"Dr. Kalish explained that the rap sheet showed 'extensive prior contacts with law enforcement' before the 2005 accident and that if the charges against Santini were related to his injury, one would not expect to see 'similar behavior' before the accident."

Santini's attorneys argued Kalish's testimony was unfairly prejudicial to the defense.

"Dr. Kalish admitted on cross-examination that he found the rap sheet hard to understand, and his report relaying the information contained in the rap sheet did not distinguish among arrests, convictions, or other 'contacts' with law enforcement," according to the ruling.

"The rap sheet itself was not admitted into the record or examined by the district court. The defense also argued that this particular rap sheet was unreliable because it listed multiple allegations arising from the same incident as separate contacts."

As a result, "We conclude that it was an abuse of discretion to allow the government to introduce evidence of Santini's prior 'law enforcement contacts.'

"Because this error was not harmless, we VACATE Santini's conviction and REMAND to the district court for a new trial."


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 14, 2011 @ 5:22 p.m.

"Dr. Kalish admitted on cross-examination that he found the rap sheet hard to understand, and his report relaying the information contained in the rap sheet did not distinguish among arrests, convictions, or other 'contacts' with law enforcement," according to the ruling. "

How on earth could there be an ASUA in this country that is this stoopid????? Allowing a hired gun to make reference to ANY alleged criminal act without going over it specifically with the prosecuting attorney BEFORE trial is Crim law 101. Heck, you cannot EVEN MENTION a MURDER!!! conviction if it is over 10 years old-and this hired gun is bring up "contacts" and "arrests"???? Please.

The AUSA should be fired for incompetence.


$4 million verdict for wrongful death on dangerous roadway.
San Diego County
Judge: Hon. Earl H. Maas, III
Date of Jury Verdict: March 29, 2012
Date Action was Filed: 29 September 2010
Case Name: Keith Schultz, Tobie Deala v. County of San Diego.

Active-duty marine, age 22, loses control on wet roadway and hits telephone pole. Ongoing problem of flooding on road as well as decedent's driving and state of mind (attentiveness) while driving are examined in trial against county.

Trial Time: 9 days
Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days

Gross Verdict: $4,000,000 ($2,000,000 to each plaintiff)

San Luis Rey Downs Enterprise LLC (golf course) - Settlement: $200,000 prior to trial
San Diego Gas & Electric Company (owner of the utility pole which decedent struck) - Settlement: $100,000 prior to trial

Attorney(s) for Plaintiff:
Booth & Koskoff by Roger E. Booth, Torrance

Attorney(s) for Defendant:
Office of County Counsel by George W. Brewster, Jr., San Diego

Defendant's Medical Experts: Mark A. Kalish, M.D., psychiatry, San Diego

Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
Charles Dickerson, accident reconstruction, Mesa, AZ
Richard F. Ryan, highway design, Vancouver, WA

Defendant's Technical Experts:
Glenn Follen, tire performance, Austin TX
Arnold A. Johnson, traffic engineering, Fair Oaks
Jene Lyle, hydrology, Irvine
Arnold W. Siegel, accident reconstruction, Encino

Date and place of incident: April 22, 2010/Camino del Rey in Bonsall, San Diego County.

Facts: When driving home from work at Camp Pendleton, 22 year-old Marine Corporal Samantha Schultz collided into a utility pole on Camino del Rey in Bonsall. She died the next day as a result of her injuries...

Plaintiff's Contentions:

That the crash which caused the death of plaintiffs' daughter was due to a dangerous condition of public property, namely flooding on Camino del Rey, a road owned and maintained by Defendant County of San Diego.

The county and the owner of an adjacent golf course (Defendant San Luis Rey Downs) had been in discussions for over four years about this flooding issue and how to solve it. As there was a history of at least 15-20 hydroplaning crashes at or near the location, plaintiffs contended that the county had notice of the foreseeable risk and hazard and should have remedied the situation...

Accident reconstructionist testified that decedent was traveling between 55 and 65 mph, accelerated into the curve and may have made a panic turn when she saw a large truck coming toward her in the curve.

Defense psychiatrist [Mark Kalish] testified that text messages sent by the decedent on the day of the crash, describing her emotional turmoil over a breakup with her boyfriend and mentioning a medical procedure for cervical cancer that she underwent earlier on the day of the crash, substantiated she was distracted emotionally and was inattentive in her driving. Further, that she had been seen for mental health on the day of the accident and went to the pharmacy to pick up medications.

Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,300,000 ($650,000 to each plaintiff)
Defendant §998 Offer: $100,000 ($50,000 to each plaintiff)

The Rest of the Story

According to plaintiffs' counsel, although the defense expert psychiatrist centered much testimony on the likely distracted mental state of the decedent and the resultant inattentiveness in driving, her commanding officer testified that decedent never let her personal life affect her ability to do her difficult job as a Marine.

Dr. Mark A. Kalish, MD

Forensic Psychiatry, Board Certified
Male, Age 60
Graduated 1977, Northwestern University The Feinberg School Of Medicine

Kalish Wilson and Carroll Mds
3131 Camino del Rio N Suite 270
San Diego, CA 92108

Friday, August 17, 2012

Why judges hand down shorter sentences to convicted psychopaths when their behavior is blamed on the brain

I'm afraid these judges aren't thinking through the actual effect on behavior of being a psychopath. Being a psychopath only means that a person doesn't have empathy.

These judges and prosecutors should read The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. It's hilarious at the same time as being highly informative about an important phenomenon.

It doesn't make anyone WANT to do anything. That's a whole separate ball game. Certainly, most psychopaths aren't interested in murdering anyone, or having sex with children. That's a completely separate mental condition that usually experienced by people who aren't psychopaths.

Horrible things happen, however, when psychopaths WANT to do bad things. These Psychopaths can't blame their motivations on their lack of empathy. While it's true that psychopaths have one less mechanism to control their own behavior, they still have the ability to figure out that they may get caught and punished if they commit a crime. Surely that part of their brain is telling them not to commit a crime.

Also, many psychopaths have brains that are guided by moral principles, and that part of their brain is also telling them not to commit a crime. They may not feel empathy, but they know the difference between right and wrong. They simply can't truthfully say that their brain made them do it.

My Brain Made Me Do It: Psychopaths and Free Will
Why judges hand down shorter sentences to convicted psychopaths when their behavior is blamed on the brain
August 17, 2012

Should murderous psychopaths be punished less severely if their behavior can be blamed on brain differences or genes? Or, conversely, should their sentence be longer precisely because their biology makes them even more intractable and dangerous than other criminals?

A new study published in Science explored these questions by asking judges to impose a prison term on a hypothetical convict. When the judges were initially told that the offender was a psychopath, they tended to consider it an aggravating factor in sentencing, but when they heard additional expert testimony that biological factors could explain the guilty man’s behavior, they saw that information as mitigating and handed down a shorter sentence.

The impact of such expert testimony depended in part on whether the biological arguments came from the defense or the prosecution — it influenced judges’ reasoning more when it was delivered by the defense. But, overall, judges still levied lengthy sentences for the crime and viewed the convict as morally and legally responsible for his behavior: they reduced prison time only by a year, from 13.93 years on average to 12.83, when considering brain or genetic explanations for the convict’s behavior.

“The judges did not let the defendant off,” said lead author Lisa Aspinwall of the University of Utah in a statement. “They just reduced the sentence and showed major changes in the quality of their reasoning.” The researchers noted that they were surprised the judges reduced their sentencing at all, considering that they were dealing with psychopaths who are in general a highly unsympathetic bunch.

(MORE: Which Kids Join Gangs? A Genetic Explanation)

The hypothetical case used in the new study was loosely based on the 1994 trial of Mobley v. State. In 1991, Stephen Mobley robbed a

Stephen A. Mobley, 39, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for fatally shooting 24-year-old John Collins in Oakwood, Ga, during a robbery of a Domino's on Feb. 17, 1991.

Domino’s pizza shop in Georgia, during the course of which he shot the restaurant’s manager to death; at trial, his attorney attempted to present evidence showing that Mobley had a variant of a gene linked to violent behavior: the MAO-A or so-called warrior gene.

Because the scientific data on MAO-A was so new at the time, however, the judge rejected its use in court and Mobley was executed in 2005. But since then, research has supported the link between the gene and violence, and studies have found that men who have the gene and are abused as children are significantly more likely to display antisocial behavior.

In the new study, researchers tweaked the hypothetical case to eliminate the murder; instead, the defendant was convicted of aggravated battery for savagely beating a fast-food restaurant manager with a gun during a robbery attempt and causing permanent brain damage. By taking murder off the table — and therefore the death penalty or a life sentence — the researchers compelled the judges to consider the future dangerousness of a criminal who could eventually be set free. Researchers presented one of four versions of the hypothetical case to 181 judges in 19 states. In all versions, judges read scientific evidence that the convicted criminal was a psychopath and what that meant, namely that psychopathy is incurable. Half of the judges also received expert testimony on the genetic and neurobiological causes of the criminal behavior, presented either by the defense as a mitigating factor, or by the prosecution, which argued that it should increase the convict’s sentence. The other judges got no mention of the idea that biological differences in the convict’s brain could have caused his behavior. Researchers controlled for the fact that different states have different sentencing laws.

The judges who were given a biological explanation for the convict’s psychopathy issued shorter sentences, but notably, all judges committed the criminal to significantly more prison time than their average nine years for aggravated battery. And while all judges viewed psychopathy as an aggravating factor in sentencing, the judges who heard evidence about the genetic and neurobiological causes of the condition from the defense reported viewing it as less aggravating. Nearly 9 in 10 judges listed at least one aggravating factor in their reasoning for their sentence, but when they heard the expert testimony from the defense, the percentage of judges who also listed mitigating factors rose from 30% to 66%. And judges who received this evidence were 2.5 times more likely than other judges to report actually having weighed aggravating versus mitigating factors in deciding their sentence.

(MORE: Understanding Psychopathic and Sadistic Minds)

The expert testimony offered in the study described how the MAO-A gene affects the amydgala, a part of the brain involved in emotion and learning. The amygdala is the seat of the so-called violence-inhibition mechanism, which is what triggers anxiety in normal people when they recognize that others are in pain or distress. People with low MAO-A activity, like the convicted psychopath, don’t experience normal brain development, however; that may explain why psychopaths are incapable of responding to the fear and pain of others with normal distress. Ultimately, the testimony argued, because of their genetic and brain-related differences, psychopaths don’t undergo functional moral development and fail to learn right from wrong.

Interestingly, however, even though the judges handed out reduced sentences when presented with this expert testimony, they did not report viewing the convict as having less free will or as being any less responsible, legally or morally, for his crime. “What this tells me is that the effect of neuroscience evidence may operate at a non-conscious level. People think it does not affect their judgment of responsibility, but in fact it does,” says Barry Schwartz, professor of psychology at Swarthmore, who has researched this issue, but was not involved in the study.

It is this basic question of responsibility that many psychologists find crucial — and that so many people misunderstand. “There is a lot of interest these days in the implications of neuroscience for justice and the legal system. Some of this interest focuses on the radical notion that neuroscience undermines the very idea of personal responsibility,” says Martha Farah, director of the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania, who was also not associated with the new study. “The idea is that, since everything I do results from my brain, and my brain is the product of my genes and my life experiences, then how can you hold me responsible for anything? Isn’t it always true that ‘my brain made me do it?’”

Indeed, earlier studies have shown that when participants are presented with neuroscientific evidence in cases involving people who have caused harm or behaved violently, they see it as far more mitigating than psychological factors like child abuse — even though research now shows that brain differences themselves can actually be caused by such abuse and that child abuse is more strongly linked with violence than most neurobiological factors.

Schwartz and a colleague described their findings on such research in a recent New York Times op-ed:

The pattern of results was striking. A brain characteristic that was even weakly associated with violence led people to exonerate the protagonist more than a psychological factor that was strongly associated with violent acts. … In contrast, while psychologically damaging experiences like childhood abuse often elicited sympathy for the protagonist and sometimes even prompted considerable mitigation of blame, the participants still saw the protagonist’s behavior as intentional. The protagonist himself was twisted by his history of trauma; it wasn’t just his brain.

The problem here, however, is that all of our psychology and behavior has a biological cause, even if we don’t understand exactly how it works. As Schwartz put it, “’Was the cause psychological or biological?’ is the wrong question when assigning responsibility for an action. All psychological states are also biological ones.”

Schwartz called the new study “terrific,” noting in particular that hearing evidence of biological causes of behavior had a larger impact on how mitigating the judges considered the convict’s psychopathy than on the actual sentences they handed down. Among the mitigating factors that judges cited after hearing the neurobiological evidence was the idea that mental illness made the perpetrator less responsible for his behavior.

As one judge in the study explained: “The evidence that psychopaths do not have the necessary neural connections to feel empathy is significant. It makes possible an argument that psychopaths are, in a sense, morally disabled, just as other people are physically disabled.”

(MORE: Study: 1 in 25 Business Leaders May Be Psychopaths)

Consequently, as Schwartz says, “If you sentence to punish, it will reduce sentencing. But if you sentence to protect society, it may well increase sentencing, by implying that the perpetrator is incorrigible.”

“This is not the grand, metaphysical, ‘We are all helpless to override the inevitable workings of our brains’ idea that neuroscience is incompatible with moral or legal responsibility,” says Farah....

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