Archive | 2013

EXPERT: HERNANDEZ CASE UNLIKELY TO BE “SLAM DUNK” IN 2014

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Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez was arrested June 26 and charged with first-degree murder and weapons charges in the death of Odin Lloyd, a Boston semi-pro football player. The case garnered a lot of attention in 2013 and is expected to get even more in 2014 as the case nears trial.

Hernandez, now 24, was released from the New England Patriots following his arrest. Prosecutors say he orchestrated the execution-style shooting because Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée, talked to the wrong people at a nightclub. The 27-year-old was found dead June 17 in a field near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, Mass. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty.

The case against the ex-NFL star is one of the more complicated not only due to the number of people implicated in the crime – two of Hernandez’s associates, his fiancée and his cousin all face charges in connection with the case — but also because Hernandez is involved in a pair of lawsuits and a 2012 double-homicide investigation in Boston.

“The Hernandez case is one of the most fascinating because we have multiple jurisdictions looking at possible charges against Aaron Hernandez,” CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman told Crimesider.

Hernandez faces a civil suit filed in Florida by Alexander Bradley, a man who alleges Hernandez shot him in the face after they argued outside a Miami club in early 2013, and a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Massachusetts by the family of Odin Lloyd.

In addition, Hernandez is being looked at in connection with a 2012 double-homicide in Boston. Klieman said a Boston grand jury is “amassing evidence” that could result in Hernandez being indicted in the 2012 killings.

“In this intricate web, the double-homicide in Boston is allegedly the motive for Aaron Hernandez killing Odin Lloyd,” Klieman explained.

Lawyers representing Hernandez in the murder of Lloyd have said that prosecutors’ case won’t hold up during a jury trial and they are confident Hernandez will be exonerated.

“Anybody who thought back in June, July, August that this case was a slam dunk for the prosecution better take a step back and better see that this is a case that can be defended,” Klieman said.

Source: Stephanie Slifer, CBS News

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Aniarael Macias update: Mom, Connie Villa, poisoned family in attempt to kill them, police say

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CASA GRANDE, AZ – A Casa Grande mother is accused of murdering her 13-year-old daughter, attempting to poison her three children and stab her ex-husband on Christmas Day, authorities said Sunday.

Authorities arrested Connie Villa, 35, and said she faces one count of first degree murder and four counts of attempted murder after she forced her children — ages 3, 5, 8 and 13 years old — to take “prescription narcotic drugs in an attempt to kill them” on Christmas Day.

Aniarael Macias, 13, was found dead in the bathroom of her family’s home in Casa Grande last Wednesday, according to police.

Authorities were called to a home at the Colony Apartments in Casa Grande on Christmas night after the woman’s ex-husband, 33-year-old Adam Villa, called police and said that he had been stabbed by his ex-wife.

He told police he was driving himself to the Casa Grande Regional Medical Center.

Officers forced themselves into the mother’s apartment and found her holding a knife to her chest and suffering from multiple stab wounds, according to a police press release. The woman’s three other children were standing unharmed at her side.

Authorities secured the scene and transported both the mother and children to Phoenix-area hospitals. The three children each had “trace amounts” of opiates in their systems, according to a press release.

Casa Grande police on Sunday afternoon said the children were in “good condition” and Child Protective Services placed them with the family of Adam Villa.

Adam Villa is in stable condition at a Phoenix hospital.

On Sunday afternoon, Aniarael’s family issued the following statement:

On behalf of Michael Macias, Ania’s father, Vera Macias, Ania’s grandmother and extended family, we request that the focus of this tragedy be a celebration of our precious Ania’s life. She was a gentle, kind and beautiful spirit who was taken from us much too soon. Michael and his family are heartbroken. Ania was always smiling. She loved her brothers and sisters. She enjoyed spending time with her father and sister Gaby. We are writing this statement in hopes that the media and other outlets will allow Michael and our family to grieve peacefully. We thank everyone for the outpouring of support for our family. We appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts. We pray that justice will be served.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible.

An autopsy was conducted by Pima County, but it did not identify an official cause of death. Results for a toxicology report on Macias and the other three children could take two to three weeks.

Source: ABC15

Jophrey Cord update: Missing teen found safe and sound according to Mesa police

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MESA, AZ – A 13-year-old boy who has not been seen for nearly a week has been found safe and sound, according to Mesa police.

Mesa police spokesman Steve Berry said Jophrey Cord was located Saturday night in the desert.

Berry said Cord was last seen at his Mesa home Monday around 4 a.m.

Berry said when his family went to wake him up the next day, they found a note saying he was running away and the family would be better without him.

Berry said Jophrey had no cell phone or money with him when he left.

Authorities said the teen appears to be in good health.

Source: ABC15

Pot, guns and paparazzi: New laws run gamut in US

New laws in 2014: Toby Tackett lights a marijuana joint at a pot party at the Seattle Center, in Seattle.: Colorado pot stores open Jan. 1 as retailers open their doors to the nation’s first legal recreational pot industry. Sales in Washington, which also legalized recreational marijuana, are expected to start later in the year.

The new year is bringing a host of new laws taking effect in January or thereabouts.

A look at some state and local laws that are making news:

ALCOHOL AND MARIJUANA

COLORADO, MAINE AND WASHINGTON: Colorado pot stores open Jan. 1 as retailers open their doors to the nation’s first legal recreational pot industry. Sales in Washington, which also legalized recreational marijuana, are expected to start later in the year. The laws still fly in the face of federal drug rules, but the federal government has said it’s not going to fight to shut down pot shops for now. A law legalizing recreational marijuana went into effect in early December in Portland, Maine, but it’s largely symbolic because the state has said it will continue to enforce its own ban.

ILLINOIS: It becomes the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana in a pilot project with some of the strictest standards in the nation. However, it may take more than a year to actually buy marijuana as separate state agencies draft rules that must be approved by a legislative committee.

WISCONSIN: Towns and cities can legalize pedal pubs, multiple-person bicycles that ferry riders to and from taverns. A driver steers while multiple riders sit at a bar mounted behind him, each with his or her own pedal-and-chain assembly.

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS

CALIFORNIA: It becomes the first state to give specific rights to transgender students starting in January unless opponents show they have gathered enough petition signatures to put a referendum before voters seeking to overturn the law. It lets transgender students choose which restroom to use and whether to play on boys’ or girls’ sports teams. Critics say that violates the privacy of other students.

GUNS

CONNECTICUT: Guns that are considered assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines that haven’t been registered with Connecticut authorities will be considered illegal contraband as of Jan. 1. The law was passed in April in response to the massacre that killed 26 people at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.

NEW YORK: The state’s new gun law, passed shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting, already banned high-capacity magazines and the purchase or sale of popular AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. By April 15, it will also require registration of weapons now classified as assault weapons by owners who previously bought them legally.

PAPARAZZI

CALIFORNIA: Photographers who harass celebrities and their children face tougher penalties under a law backed by actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, who testified in favor of it. Berry told lawmakers that her daughter has been intimidated by aggressive photographers who follow them daily. Those who take photos and video of a child without consent and in a harassing manner could face up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. They also can be sued for damages and attorney’s fees under the new law, which media organizations opposed. Supporters say it also will help protect the children of police officers, judges and others who might be targets because of their parents’ occupations.

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IMMIGRATION

NEVADA: Immigrants living in the United States without legal permission can apply for driver authorization cards starting Jan. 2. State officials anticipate tens of thousands of people will apply under the program.

MARYLAND: In a program similar to Nevada’s, immigrants living in the U.S. illegally will be able to obtain a state driver’s license or identification card if they can provide evidence of a filed state income tax return or were claimed as a dependent for each of the preceding two years.

HEALTH COSTS

MAINE: Health care providers will have to provide patients who request it a list of prices of the most common health services and procedures, a law designed to boost transparency around medical costs.

DELAWARE: The state will limit patient copays for “specialty tier” prescription drugs to $150 a month for up to a 30-day supply.

WORKING AND WAGES

OHIO: The minimum wage for untipped employees rises from $7.85 to $7.95 an hour, while tipped employees will go from $3.93 to $3.98 an hour, plus tips.

CALIFORNIA: The minimum wage is being boosted to $9 an hour starting in July, the first of two dollar-an-hour boosts that will push the base minimum wage to $10 by 2016, making it one of the nation’s highest minimums. Under another bill, domestic workers will have to be paid time and a half if they work more than nine hours in a day or more than 45 hours in a week; baby sitters are exempt.

2 charged in pregnant teen’s death in Illinois

Police in Illinois charged the boyfriend and the brother of a pregnant teenager who was killed in a Christmas shooting. Doctors were able to save her baby.

Suburban Chicago police investigating the fatal Christmas shooting of a pregnant teenager as an alleged drug deal went awry nearby have charged her boyfriend and his brother with first-degree murder.

Eva Casara, whose baby survived and remains hospitalized, wasn’t an intended target — nor was she involved in the situation police believe was a drug deal that spiraled out of control, Dolton Police Chief John Franklin told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The 17-year-old girl was “just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong company,” he said.

Charged are her boyfriend, Anthony Lee, 16, and his brother, Diante Lamont Coakley, 21, both from Dolton, a suburb south of Chicago. It wasn’t immediately clear if either Lee or Coakley had lawyers.

Casara, who was 5½ months pregnant, was pronounced dead early Thursday — several hours after the Wednesday shooting. But doctors were able to save the Calumet City teen’s baby.

Police believe Casara was moved and left outside at another location after she was shot, Franklin said.

While Casara was not a target, the police chief stopped short of calling her death an accident.

“It’s hard to call it an accident when you’re firing a gun in the direction of people,” he said.

Casara’s aunt, Melody Vargas, told the Sun-Times: “She was just a victim of their stupidity, and they need to pay for it.”

Source: AP

Murder, robbery suspect made threats against president

Phoenix bank robbery: Beth Stauffer, center, reacts on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, as FBI Special Agent in Charge Danile McMullen announces they believe the bank robber who killed her husband, Sgt. Gale Stuaffer on Monday, was killed attempting another bank robbery in Phoniex, Ariz., on Saturday in Tupelo, Miss.

The Secret Service says a man linked to a robbery spree and the murder of a police officer was arrested in 2010 for making online threats against President Obama.

The Secret Service says the man authorities have linked to a three-state bank robbery spree, the killing of one Mississippi police officer and the wounding of another was arrested in 2010 after being accused of making online threats against the president.

Mario Edward Garnett was living in Oklahoma City at the time of the arrest, Secret Service spokesman Max Millien said Sunday. He would not say how the case was resolved.

Authorities have connected Garnett to a Dec. 23 bank robbery attempt in Atlanta, a bank robbery later that same day in Tupelo, Miss., and the shooting death of one Tupelo officer and the wounding of another.

A Phoenix detective shot and killed Garnett just after he robbed a bank Saturday morning.

Authorities in Phoenix are expected Monday to release 911 recordings and surveillance video from the fatal robbery. The 911 recordings are expected to include a call from a woman who was inside the Phoenix bank during the robbery.

Phoenix police spokesman James Holmes said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that the 40-year-old Garnett was from the Midwest, had served for four years in the U.S. Army and appeared to have no friends or relatives in Arizona.

Earlier Sunday, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Jackson, Miss., said records showed the suspect’s cellphone was in Atlanta, Phoenix and Tupelo at the time of each incident.

The agent, Daniel McMullen, also told reporters in Tupelo that there were “numerous similarities” between the three bank robberies, including the clothing worn by the suspect, statements he made during the incidents and his “overall modus operandi.”

Surveillance photos from the attempted bank robbery in Atlanta showed a man wearing a black-and-white patterned jacket tried to rob a Bank of America branch around 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 23. He was wearing a black ski mask and black gloves and carrying a handgun.

After failing to get any money from a teller, the man demanded and received an undisclosed amount of money from someone who was using an ATM in the bank’s lobby. The man was seen leaving in a light gray car with no license plate.

Later that day, the suspect stole an undisclosed amount of money from the BancorpSouth in Tupelo before fleeing in a gray sedan, the FBI has said.

Officers Gale Stauffer and Joseph Maher were responding to a bank alarm and a report that the suspect had fled in a white SUV when they spotted such a vehicle stalled in traffic. The officers were confronting the SUV’s driver when the suspect exited the gray sedan, which was stopped behind the SUV, and ambushed the officers, according to McMullen.

Stauffer died and was buried Friday after a funeral attended by as many as 1,000 people. Dozens of uniformed officers from Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and elsewhere attended the service.

Stauffer’s wife, Beth, said her family was grateful for investigators’ work and for the support it has received.

“We can truly begin the healing process, and that could not have happened without the hard work of so very many,” she told reporters Sunday. “Gale would be so proud.”

Tupelo police Chief Bart Aguirre told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that Maher’s condition has improved and he was able to walk some with assistance Friday. Maher moved out of the intensive care unit at North Mississippi Medical Center and into a private room.

The Phoenix shooting happened Saturday morning at a Compass Bank branch in the near-northwest part of the city after someone called 911 to report seeing a man run into the bank while wearing a mask.

There were five people inside the bank during the robbery, Holmes said. A customer who ran outside when Garnett turned his attention to the bank manager also called 911.

The first officer to arrive saw the man leave the bank with a bag and a handgun.

“The officer drew his service weapon and began giving the suspect commands at which time the suspect raised his weapon and began firing at the officer,” Holmes said in an earlier statement.

A detective who had just arrived at the scene shot the suspect, who was pronounced dead after being taken to a Phoenix hospital. No officers or bank employees were injured.

Holmes said Garnett drove a rental car to the Phoenix bank. It was unclear where Garnett had been and what he had been doing while in the state.

“We have no idea what he did between the 23rd of December and the 28th of December,” he said.

Source: AP

Fan stabbed after Broncos game feared he would die

Stabbed fan speaks out: people mill around the area where at least three people were stabbed Thursday night Dec. 12, 2013 in a parking area at at Sports Authority Stadium Field at Mile High after the Denver Broncos' game.: People mill around the area where three people were stabbed on Thursday Dec. 12, 2013 in a parking area at at Sports Authority Stadium Field at Mile High after the Denver Broncos' game.

Matt DeHerrera, who was stabbed in the parking lot after a Denver Broncos game on Dec. 12, said he thought he might die.

 A Denver Broncos fan said he thought he might die when he was stabbed five times outside Sports Authority Field after a game against San Diego this month.

Matt DeHerrera said one stab wound was just above his heart and all were near vital organs, the Pueblo Chieftain reported Sunday.

DeHerrera said he, his brother and a friend were backing up in the parking lot after the Dec. 12 game when their vehicle was almost hit by another. DeHerrera said he got out of the car to investigate and was stabbed.

“I was in the hospital thinking I might die. I had to be rushed into surgery,” he said.

His brother and the friend were each stabbed once. Their names have not been released.

Justin Lee Manzanares, 29, was arrested for investigation of assault. No listed phone number could be found for him.

Denver Police said they do not release victims’ names and could not confirm DeHerrera’s account. They said earlier that three people were stabbed after a near-collision in the lot and that the incident wasn’t related to Denver’s 27-20 loss to San Diego.

DeHerrera, who lives in Denver, said he spent five days in the hospital and missed work. He said he is still in pain, especially in cold weather.

“It feels like the wind just rushes through my body and it’s very painful,” he said.

DeHerrera describes himself as a diehard Denver fan and a regular tailgater, and the Dec. 12 Broncos game was his 100th.

“I love going to the games, it’s my favorite thing,” he said.

“Now it’s kind of a scary thing. I never imagined going to do something I really enjoy would result in getting stabbed,” he said.

Source: AP

Suspect in Colo. triple slaying arrested in Okla.

Suspect arrested: Harry Carl Mapps

Authorities in Oklahoma captured a man suspected of killing three people and setting fire to a home in southern Colorado.

A man suspected of killing three people and setting fire to a home in southern Colorado has been captured in Oklahoma after a nationwide manhunt, authorities said Sunday.

Harry Carl Mapps, 59, was arrested at a motel in Roland, Okla., on Saturday night, said Kirk Taylor, sheriff of Pueblo County, Colo. Mapps had spent more than a month on the run.

A booking photo showed him with a swollen lip and large red patch on his right cheek, but authorities said there had been no struggle. No other details of his arrest were released.

Taylor said Mapps was found using information developed by the U.S. Marshals Service in Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. Mapps had lived in Texas.

The Marshals Service had issued a fugitive warrant for Mapps and said authorities were searching for him nationwide.

Mapps was wanted on first-degree murder charges. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney, and authorities did not yet know if he would fight extradition to Colorado.

Mapps is accused of fatally shooting Kim Tuttle, 55; her husband, Reggie Tuttle, 51; and their daughter, Dawn Roderick, 33. Their bodies were found in the Tuttles’ home in the small town of Rye after the house burned on Nov. 27.

Roderick lived in nearby Pueblo. Authorities haven’t said why she was at her parents’ house.

The fire was ruled arson, and Taylor said it was meant to cover up the shootings.

Three days after the fire, deputies said Mapps was their primary suspect. Authorities said he had been living with the Tuttles and was working for Reggie Tuttle’s trucking company.

Taylor said money appeared to be the motive for the shootings. Authorities claimed Mapps stole checks made out to one of the victims and cashed them on the day of the fire. He also faces theft, identity theft and forgery charges.

Pueblo County sheriff’s investigators arrived in Roland, Okla., on Sunday morning and were preparing to speak to Mapps, said Lisa Shorter, the sheriff’s spokeswoman.

Investigators will also search the motel room and his vehicle, she said.

Mapps wasn’t armed when he was arrested, but investigators did not yet know whether there were any weapons in the motel room or Mapps’ vehicle, said Charles Ahmad of the Marshals Service in Denver.

Shorter and Ahmad said they did not yet know where Mapps had been while he was a fugitive. He once worked as a long-distance trucker, and authorities had said he was familiar with little-used back roads.

Friends called the Tuttles generous and caring people.

“Kim and Reggie would help anyone who needed it,” Winnie Owens, a friend and neighbor, told the Pueblo Chieftain. “The hearts of everyone in this valley go out to that family.”

Kim Tuttle worked on the culinary staff at Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo.

Top 10 trials that fascinated you the most in 2013

#1…of course is Jodi Arias

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Our number one most fascinating trial voted on by our fabulous Divas and Divos comes as no surprise……with the infamous pop rocks, tootsie rolls, secret ninjas, skateboarders with screwdrivers and the gas cans that nobody should leave home without, the winner goes to Jodi Arias herself.  It was the trial of the year that still continues as we write this…or better yet, the trial that just won’t die (no pun intended).  Jodi Arias was charged with the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander by stabbing him 27 times, shooting him in the head and slitting his throat from ear to ear.  With a denial of being involved, to eventually admitting she did commit the murder in self defense; Jodi was a defendant that could not keep her stories straight.

Between the sex, lies, deceit, Jodi saying confidently in an interview that “No jury will ever convict me” and a fiery prosecutor who literally became an icon as he attacked the witnesses in a style of vigor and aggression, this trial became an epic display that rocked the Maricopa County courthouse.  The state began this case with Juan Martinez taking the lead and uttering more times then the pair of Jimmy Choo’s in my closet, “Ma’am do you have a problem with your memory?”  Of course Jodi thought she had the situation under control during her infamous 18 day testimony, or rather Juan in the palm of her hand when she fired back, “Usually, when men like you are screaming at me or grilling me, it makes my brain scramble.”  In true Juan style he reminded Jodi that she was still able to function in a thick fog by saying, “This fog is not so deep that it stops you from attempting to fabricate evidence, right?” 

This banter was the center of the trial as several witnesses were paraded on the stand, leading to the so called expert witnesses known as Dr. Samuels and Alyce LaViolette, who both were testifying in Jodi Arias’s defense.  They repeatedly told the court how they felt Travis abused Jodi, how she was fighting in self defense and even saying she suffered from post traumatic stress. Juan’s refusal to back down or show any sign of weakness, he frustrated these witnesses often leaving them to spew words in a five year old fashion.  At one point during the trial, Alyce LaViolette threatened Juan of putting him in a time out, “If you were in my group, I would ask you to take a time out.”

In the end, the jury was able to see through the fog Jodi created and found her guilty of first degree murder.  The jury ended up being hung on the sentencing phase, leading to a retrial of this phase only.  We are still waiting for a trial date as there have been unprecedented delays in this bizarre and twisted trial.  It is no wonder it has drawn in more viewers from around the world and created a frenzy that resonated throughout the courtroom.  Even with the seats sold by spectators, every corner of the courthouse covered with media and temper tantrums of a kindergarten sandbox, it is perhaps the Juan one-liners that rocked this trail leaving the public to coin him with various nicknames.  So, as we deem Jodi Arias victor of the most fascinating trials of 2013, people are ready to line up for part two of the circus and hear the infamous phrases from Juanalicious himself, “God’s not here. We can’t subpoena him,” or when referencing the unloaded gun Jodi says she grabbed from Travis’s closet, Juan asks “What were you going to do with that gun, throw it at him?”  These are the quotes people sought to witness first hand, as they stood outside in the wee hours of the morning to get an in person glimpse.  Get set for round two of the charades and stare downs and maybe if Jodi is lucky she can win for most fascinating trial of 2014 as well.

Watch Highlights of Jodi Arias Trial 

Watch Jodi Arias Guilty Verdict

Watch Jodi Arias Sentencing Verdict

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#2…Martin Macneill

Martin MacNeill garners the number two slot for most fascinating trials of 2013.  He came in as a very close second with his larger than life ego, a family that lived in a prominent neighborhood in Utah and a persona that had many fooled into believing their family was perfection.  The fractures and deficiencies began to unravel with the death of his wife, Michele MacNeill, in 2007.  He was a “doctor” with a secret shady past of fraud and a current state of deceit as he was hiding his affair with a woman named Gypsy Willis (Yes, that is her real name).  Upon the death of Michele, the autopsy report determined her cause of death as natural causes.  She had just finished having a handful of procedures done in her face lift when the good ol’ doctor said she suffered from heart issues, eventually causing her death.  Once the medical examiner signed off on her autopsy, Martin Macneill thought he had escaped with the perfect murder.

Unfortunately for Martin, he had a very smart daughter who looked up to him as a doctor and went to medical school herself.  Alexis Somers knew something was wrong after her mom had the face lift and suspected her dad was changing up Michele’s medication.  Once Michele died, Alexis made it her mission to reveal the truth and seek justice for her mom.  After investigators began to listen to her pleas, they discovered Michele had in fact been drugged and drowned by the hands of her husband.  It wasn’t until five years after Michele’s death that Martin MacNeill was charged and arrested for her murder.

This trial began inside a Utah courtroom that was drab in color, attorneys with no personalities and a defense team that reeked of social awkwardness and Botox galore.   While we all chanted for some kind of fashion outside of bleak, it was Martin’s former inmate’s testimony that began to bring some excitement.  With talk of chicken coups, massages and cellies, it was a made for television movie.  Then of course we can’t forget the infamous testimony of Gypsy (later nicknamed by the public Dipsy) Willis who took the stand with a demeanor as if she was going speed dating.  Her cleavage was on full display as if to show Martin MacNeill what he was missing and her hair flips showed signs of flirtation to anyone she thought was paying attention.  There were no signs of remorse on her end for showing up at Michele’s funeral, moving into the family home as the nanny under a false name of Jillian or assuming the fake identity of one of Martin’s adopted daughters that got shipped back to her country of Ukraine. Lastly, we can’t forget defense expert ergonomics witness, who resembled Kenny Rogers and his tight elastic face so precisely, we were just waiting for him to break out singing Islands in the Streams.

Of course the jury saw right through the charades of “Doc” and Dipsy and convicted him of first degree murder and obstruction of justice.  His sentencing is scheduled for next year and he still has one more trial regarding a forcible sex abuse charge in February.  Overall, this was a trial that had us on the edge of our seats where we were shocked at how sick Martin MacNeill really is.  This was a man who would throw his own children under the bus in order to protect his personal interests and cover up his crime.  We just don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to file for divorce.  Where does a lifetime behind bars in a chicken coup seem more fabulous than splitting up your assets and walking away?  For Gypsy, she was given immunity but deep down inside we all know she knew about Michele’s death.  One thing is for sure, this trial put a huge damper in her dating life, so be aware all you online daters….Dipsy is on the loose!

Watch Martin Macneill Trial Verdict

Watch Portion of Gypsy Willis Testimony

Watch Video Clip of MacNeill Daughter’s Testimony

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#3….George Zimmerman

Oh Zimmie, this trial garnered so much controversy he had to land somewhere in the top five….and that he did.  The George Zimmerman trial slips in at number three for Most Fascinating Trials of 2013.  This was a saga that drew international attention, even leading to the President of the United States claiming the victim Trayvon Martin as his son.  George was charged with second degree murder when he shot and killed teenager, Trayvon Martin, on a rainy night in February of 2012.  Trayvon was walking in the rain eating skittles, wearing a hoodie and talking on the phone to Rachel Jeantel who would later be identified as “Diamond”.  George claimed he only shot Trayvon in self defense and claimed the legal foundation of Florida’s Stand Your Ground.

With this controversial trial bringing heated arguments into the racial arena, it was perhaps the appearance of prosecuting attorney John guy and his straddling of a foam dummy, defense attorney Don West’s insatiable need for water and Diamond who testified with an over the top attitude, that left social media buzzing.  George Zimmerman was acquitted by the jury leaving many angry that he got away.  Yet that acquittal would not be the end of Zimmerman’s legal troubles.  He walked out of the courtroom a free man, however his judicial problems would only continue.  Shortly after the trial was over his wife filed for divorce and there was another arrest for the infamous neighborhood watchdog regarding domestic violence charges from his new girlfriend.  Let’s just say that all the suits sweet little Leanne bought him for his trial were a smart investment; it appears he will be wearing them again and again and again.  Now that was money well spent!

Watch George Zimmerman Verdict

Watch Video of the Famous Foam Dummy

Watch Testimony of Rachel Jeantel 

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#4….Andrea Sneiderman

We will deem the winner of fourth place in the Most Fascinating Trials of 2013 as the trial of “Fugly Sweaters.”  Andrea Sneiderman was on trial for 13 charges to include perjury, false statements, hindering the apprehension of a criminal and concealment of material facts.  However, these were not all of the original charges she was facing.  Andrea’s husband Rusty Sneiderman was shot and killed outside the preschool of one of their children.  The shooting was performed by a man named Hemy Neuman.  It was believed that Andrea was having an affair with Hemy, encouraging him to murder her husband in order to receive insurance money, leaving the two to set sail off into the sunset.  Of course that is the plan and we know how that generally works out, it doesn’t ever go according to plan.

Hemy Neuman was eventually convicted of Rusty’s murder, with Andrea making an appearance at his trial pouring out fake tears and the almighty memory loss.  She testified with false confidence giving the perception that she thought everybody was incompetent outside of her lovers she had on the side….and of course denied the almighty affair.  What appeared to be sufficient evidence to convict Andrea as a key player in her husband’s murder, the prosecution began to doubt and just days before her own trial was set to begin, the charges for murder and manslaughter were dropped.  This left many around in shock as the public and Rusty’s family wanted to watch Andrea pay for her husband’s murder.  Instead she was set to be tried on her 13 charges surrounding perjury and false statements…..and she had plenty of those.  In the end, she was convicted on 11 of her 13 charges and was dumbfounded she was found guilty at all.

Interestingly enough, throughout the trial it became apparent that Andrea was not only having an affair with Hemy, she had another man on the side to the side.  It was a love triangle that left us bewildered as to how that happened.  Nonetheless, she continually wore a fugly sweater to court each day with her head held high, feeling as if all men wanted her and the suitors on the side were oh so lucky to have her.  It is that imaginary presumption that landed her inside the courtroom to begin with.

Watch Andrea Sneiderman Verdict

Watch Andrea Sneiderman Allocution Statement 

Rich Chrisman

#5….Richard Chrisman

The number five trial on the list for Most Fascinating Trials of 2013 was one that rocked a police department, creating a huge divide, or should we say a very unbalanced divide.  It was cop against cop in the Richard Chrisman trial.  Rich, as he was called by his peers, was on trial for charges of second degree murder, aggravated assault and animal cruelty.  Richard Chrisman responded to a domestic violence call and by the time he left the scene, there was a man and dog that had been shot and killed.  With varying sides as to what really happened that fateful day, it was Officer Virgillo who had been on scene that came forward and informed the department that Chrisman did not shoot in self defense as he was claiming.

It was only the beginning of a trial that not only pitted one officer’s testimony against the other; it was the stage for flaws to be revealed within the Phoenix Police Department as a whole.  It was their support for Richard that garnered the community to fight back leading to a protest and subsequent firing of Chrisman. The most interesting part of this situation was the role PLEA (Phoenix Law Enforcement Association) played in their very adamant and forthright support of Chrisman, where they flat out called Officer Virgillo a liar and assisted in bonding Chrisman out of jail.

Upon the verdict coming in, there was talk around the courthouse the jury was hung and that was partly true.  They did find Richard Chrisman guilty of aggravated assault, yet could not reach a unanimous decision on the second degree murder charge and animal cruelty.  This left the door open for the County Attorney’s office to retry him on those two charges, and they were in fact going to do just that.  In a turn of events that was not too surprising, Chrisman accepted a plea days before his sentencing hearing, by pleading guilty to manslaughter and dropping the animal cruelty charge.  It appears Junior, the dog, wasn’t going to get justice after all.  Chrisman was sentenced to 7 years on the manslaughter charge and 5 years on the aggravated assault, to be served concurrent.  It was an intense trial that was laced with sex, three ways, drug use and quite a bit of lying in order to protect those inside the department.  It truly showed the loyalty of what is known as the officer “code” and it was apparent that if someone tried to break the circle of inner trust, it was going to set off firecrackers….and that it did.

Watch Richard Chrisman Verdict

Watch Officer Virgillo’s Testimony

Watch Richard Chrisman Testimony

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#6…OJ Simpson-

OJ Simpson made the headlines again this year with an attempt to get his conviction over the September 2007 Las Vegas dust up thrown out. Simpson and 6 other thugs confronted sports memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Al Beardsley in a hotel room to get OJ’s “stuff” back. Simpson and the others were brandishing weapons but didn’t fire them, after all The Juice is more a knife guy anyway. This was a case of “What happens in Vegas…can get ya sent to prison in Vegas,” and OJ was convicted on 12 counts, including kidnapping and armed robbery. He was sentenced up to 33 years in prison. Simpson and his new defense team stated his onetime lawyer Yale Galanter, had a conflict of interest in the case, his lawyers improperly advised him not to testify, didn’t tell him of prosecutors’ plea offer and didn’t present “voluntary intoxication” as a defense, during his trial. What a defense that would have been.. “The Vodka Made Me Do It”…sounds like the title to his next book. Thankfully the Nevada judge upheld his conviction on all the charges but due to the parole board partly reducing his sentence earlier this year, he has only 4 years left to serve. We have a feeling it won’t be the last we hear from OJ Simpson.

Watch OJ’s Testimony Part 1

Watch OJ’s Testimony Part 2

Watch OJ’s Testimony Part 3

Watch OJ’s Testimony Part 4

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#7…”Whitey” Bulger-

Boston’s most notorious and most feared Irish gangster found himself inside a federal courtroom facing 32 counts of racketeering, money laundering, extortion, weapons charges and murder. Bulger spent 16 years on the lam and made the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list replacing Osama Bin Laden at the top. Before “Whitey” was finally caught he was enjoying the Santa Monica, California sunshine, with a new name, new apartment, tons of cash, loads of guns and a girlfriend.  In a trial nothing short of a Hollywood mobster movie, tales of brutal killings unfolded, with hails of gunfire, strangling, along with his victim’s taking shots to the head. At the time a corrupt FBI was using “Whitey” as an informant to rat out other bosses and help him rise to the top. Not only did the FBI help “Whitey” continue his reign of terror for decades, one tipped him off an indictment was coming down which led to his timely escape. The defense was limited in what they could bring in but in the end the evidence against “Whitey” was overwhelming. It took the jury almost a full week to find Bulger guilty on 31 of the 32 counts, along with 11 of the 19 killings he was charged with but acquitted him of 7 and couldn’t reach a conclusion on an 8th“Whitey” Bulger was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus five years for machine gun charges. At the age of 84, his time in an 8-foot-by-10-foot federal prison cell in Oklahoma will probably be short lived.

Watch A Special done on “Whitey” Bulger…

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#8…Jordan Graham-

Some refer to her as another Jodi Arias among us and in the quiet state of Montana, 22 year old, Jordan Graham brought upon them tragedy of a brutal nature.  Just married to her husband Cody Johnson, for 8 days, Jordan Graham was accused of deliberately luring, and pushing her husband to his death in Montana’s Glacier National Park, with Cody being possibly blindfolded. Jordan Graham was charged in federal court with first degree murder, second degree, and making false statements. Jordan went to trial in December with it only lasting a short 3 days, and before closing arguments could even take place, a surprise plea deal came to light. The jury heard witnesses state Graham was having “second thoughts” over her new marriage, lied about Cody’s whereabouts to family, friends, and detectives, even trying to throw them off by falsifying an email. The defense stated she was happy during her wedding, showing videos of her smiling, saying pushing Cody off the cliff was an accident. Graham addressed the court outside presence of jury, stating her and Cody were arguing over some “wedding blues” when Johnson grabbed her arm. Jordan said she brushed him away and then pushed him. The shove sent Cody face first over the cliff to his death at the bottom of a ravine. “I ran back up to the car and left,” Graham told the judge. “I was scared of what happened and in the moment I was so scared I didn’t know what to do.” Jordan Graham will be sentenced on March 27th, 2014 but in the meantime is in custody by U.S. Marshals. Although the plea deal took first degree and making false statements off the table Graham is still facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Watch New footage released of Jordan Graham…

 

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#9…David Pietz-

Nicole Pietz, David’s wife was found back in 2006, beaten, strangled, and dumped in a wooden area in Burien, Washington. The prime suspect was David himself but with no direct evidence tying him to the crime, it would take the police over 6 years to build a case against him. In 2012, David Pietz was finally charged with second degree murder, and with David’s DNA on Nicole’s car along with phone records it would be the strong evidence the prosecution needed. The trial began in September 2013, just lasting a month and only took the jury 2 days to render the verdict. The prosecution built their case on David’s character saying he was a chronic cheater, wanted a wilder sex life than Nicole provided and told many lies. David told many different stories about the night Nicole disappeared and didn’t even help look for her while she was missing. David Pietz didn’t take the stand and gave the defense of blaming the victim instead. The defense stated Nicole had a past pill popping problem and probably relapsed going on a drug run when things went bad…right after Taco Time…remember that…we still want to try their tasty taco’s. With a case based strongly on circumstantial evidence it was David Pietz questionable behavior and shaky timeline, along with DNA that sealed his fate. The jury convicted him of second degree murder and David Pietz was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Watch Clubbing and Bar Escapades Part 1

Watch Clubbing and Bar Escapades Part 2

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#10…Brett Seacat

In April, 2011, just days after serving her police officer husband Brett Seacat, divorce papers, Kansas mom, Vashti Seacat, is found shot in the neck and head, dead, in her burning home. Numero uno suspect was none other than the husband, Brett Seacat. The police charged Brett with first-degree murder, aggravated arson and two counts of aggravated endangering a child..considering his two children were in the home at the time of the incident. The trial began in the summer of 2013 and it wasn’t short on drama. The prosecution claimed the arrogant ex-police officer was a “manipulative, controlling person” who used his law enforcement background to make it look like Vashti shot and killed herself in an apparent suicide. Seacat had put all his money on that fire destroying evidence and it didn’t, according to the state. Brett Seacat would take to the stand and testify on his behalf claiming Vashti was depressed and had a long history of depression. He testified as he was sleeping downstairs he received a text from Vashti saying to get the boys out of the house before they got hurt, heard her shoot herself and a noticed a fire break out.

During the trial the Medical Examiner couldn’t determine it was a homicide but the prosecution had enough evidence to prove otherwise. The state claimed a suicide note left by Vashti was not in her handwriting and was actually done by Brett, who borrowed an overhead projector while at work one day..you know..for a little side project. A marriage counselor also claimed Brett called her just hours after Vashti’s death and said “I killed her, Vashti is dead and it’s my fault.” Brett’s spin on that statement was he felt responsible but didn’t pull the trigger. Brett testified he tried to save Vashti but the prosecution points out he had no soot or blood on him with only a small burn on his foot. It only took the jury less than a day to find Brett Seacat guilty on all counts and the prosecution would ask the judge for a “Hard 50” sentence. In a bizarre rant during sentencing from Brett Seacat accusing the judge of keeping evidence from his trial that would prove his innocence.  The judge imposed a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years for premeditated, first degree murder. He also gave Seacat a total of more than 6 years in prison for one count of aggravated arson and two counts of child endangerment. The four counts run consecutively and Seacat will not be eligible for parole for more than 31 years.

Watch Brett Testifies…

Watch Brett Seacat Sentencing…

 

 

Source: Greg Botelho, CNN, AP

This entry was posted on December 28, 2013. 1 Comment

Prosecutors of Kelly Thomas’ Killers Allowed Access to Ex-Cops’ Personnel Files

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The judge overseeing the Kelly Thomas murder trial ruled today that prosecutors can review employment records of ex-Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli. But Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg held off a decision on whether any information from the cops’ jackets will be admitted into evidence during the trial.

Prosecutors had filed a motion seeking access to the records to rebut last week’s testimony by Fullerton Police Cpl. Stephen Rubio.

Rubio had claimed the officers mostly or fully acted within the city’s policy when the transient was violently subdued and killed at the Fullerton Transportation Center on July 5, 2011.

Ramos is charged with the second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter of Thomas, while ex-Cpl. Cincinelli faces the latter count as well as use of excessive force. Former Officer Joe Wolfe, who was also indicted for involuntary manslaughter and using excessive force, is to be tried separately.

City News Service reports the trial of Ramos and Cicinelli is scheduled to pick up again on Jan. 6.

Source: Matt Coker, OC Weekly