A 31-year-old Michigan woman who brutally murdered her boyfriend in 2012 was sentenced to life in prison without parole this week, but not before receiving some extremely harsh words from the judge.
During her trial, Camia Gamet said she stabbed her boyfriend Marcell Hill in self-defense, but the prosecution portrayed a different story. In the end, a jury found her guilty of murder, and during the sentencing hearing, as Hill’s aunt spoke about her murdered nephew, Gamet rolled her eyes and even laughed before making an extremely rude remark to the grieving woman.
“Is that it?” Gamet asked as Hill’s aunt Diana Banks-Joiner spoke.
Judge John McBain was not at all amused by Gamet’s behavior, so when it came time to read his sentence, he was less than gentle.
"You're going to shut your mouth or I'm going to have some duct tape put on it," said Judge McBain to a smirking Gamet. “She [Banks-Joiner] has a right to talk to the court after you murdered a relative of hers. You gutted him like a fish in that apartment. You were relentless. You stabbed. You stabbed. You stabbed. You stabbed. You stabbed until he was dead. I agree with the family. I hope you die in prison as well. You know, if this was a death penalty state, you'd be getting the chair.”
After Gamet’s sentencing, Hill’s family said that the court saw who Gamet really was and they were happy that justice was served.
“That’s her true colors,” said Banks-Joiner. “You saw the true Camia today.”
“God is good,” said Jennifer Johnson, one of Hill’s cousins. “We all got what we wanted.”
Both the judge and Hill’s family expressed that they hoped this case would bring to light the issue of abuse against men and encourage men who are being abused by their partners to report it before it escalates.
Eight years ago, one woman was confronted by a hit man who had been hired by her husband to murder her. She killed the hit man with her bare hands. Now, on the heels of her husband's release from prison, she is encouraging others who find themselves in similar situations to fight for their lives.
Susan Walters of Portland, Ore, was known as Susan Kuhnhausen back in 2006 when her then-husband, Michael Kuhnhausen, sent a hit man to murder her. Susan bravely fought back and wound up killing the hit man with her bare hands.
"His last words on this earth were 'you're strong,'" recalled Susan Walters to KPTV.
Walters says when she came home from her shift as an ER nurse one night, she found the man, Edward Haffey, waiting inside her home.
"Not having any clue why he was in my home, I knew, I could feel his intent to kill me," said Walters.
For 14 minutes, Walters put up an incredible fight against Haffey. She grabbed a hammer and used the back end of it to fight him off. At one point, she offered to call an ambulance if he relented, but he continued to fight back, so Walters had no choice but to kill him.
"I got the hammer and started hitting him with the hammer several times,” recalled Walters in 2006. “My father, the carpenter, always taught me a hammer could be used for self defense — the claw end would work the best.”
It was eventually uncovered that Michael Kuhnhausen had paid Haffey $50,000 to murder Walters. Kuhnhausen was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2007, but now, only eight years after the ordeal, the man who tried so desperately to kill his wife may walk out of jail a free man in just a few months. Walters says that although she is frightened by the idea of her former husband getting out of prison, she is ready to fight back if need be.
"Although I've forgiven my ex-husband for what he became, and what he did to me and all those who he loved, I cannot forget what he's capable of," said Walters, while offering advice to others in similar situations. "If you feel like, 'wow I don't feel like I can do that.' You can. You're stronger than you know.”
Walters is reportedly planning to approach the parole board to ensure that should he be released this year, she will remain protected.
On Tuesday, a New York judge vacated the conviction of Jonathan Fleming for a murder he did not commit. Fleming was convicted in 1989 for the murder of Darryl Rush in a Brooklyn neighborhood. He has served over 24 years in prison.
Fleming had always maintained his innocence, according to CNN, claiming that he was vacationing in Florida at the time of the murder.
Proof of that innocence came in the form of a small receipt from an Orlando hotel. Fleming told authorities at the time of his trial he had made a payment for phone calls made from his hotel room shortly before the murder took place. He said he believed that the receipt for that transaction was in his pocket when he was arrested. The document that would have kept him out of prison never made to the courtroom during his trial.
In the course of the Brooklyn district attorney’s investigation, officials found that receipt in evidence files. A New York Times story indicates the timestamp on the receipt proved Fleming was in Florida just five hours before the murder.
"This is proof of alibi that was basically purposely withheld," said Taylor Koss, one of Fleming's attorneys.
Judge Matthew D’Emic agreed and turned over the conviction after "careful and thorough review of this case, and based on key alibi facts that place Fleming in Florida at the time of the murder,” said District Attorney Ken Thompson.
Thompson took office at the beginning of the year and has beefed up the Conviction Review Unit that was created by his predecessor. The unit’s main function is to investigate cases like Fleming’s and have wrongful convictions vacated. To that end, Thompson has named Harvard law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. as special counsel to the unit.
Fleming’s conviction is the third to be vacated this year and the office is being flooded with more requests for review. The Conviction Review Unit will also be reviewing some 50 cases that were part of investigations conducted by Detective Louis Scarcella, who has been accused of using illegal tactics to frame suspects. Scarcella was not part of Fleming’s initial investigation.
Koss said Fleming’s legal team will bring a civil rights lawsuit against the city and seek reparations.
"He has no job, no career, no prospects," Koss said. "We're suing everybody, let's be honest.”
11Man Who Was Asleep At Home While His Roommate Used His Car To Commit Murder Still In Prison 10 Years Later
Ten years ago, 21-year-old Florida resident Ryan Holle was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for premeditated murder. The incident that led to his imprisonment occurred in March of 2003 when Holle lent his vehicle to a roommate and went to sleep in his apartment. During the night, Holle’s roommate and three others drove to the home of a drug dealer and attempted to rob him. During the robbery, the men murdered the dealer’s 18-year-old daughter.
Although Holle was asleep at his apartment during the robbery and killing, he was still convicted of premeditated murder because he lent his friend the vehicle used during the crime. The prosecution even acknowledged the fact that Holle was nowhere near the scene when it happened, but despite the evidence proving his innocence, he was sent to jail. A decade later, Holle is still behind bars, and it seems his case is being brought back into the spotlight.
Charles Grodin, a Golden Globe winning actor and comedian, has been outspoken in his support for Holle and objection of the Felony Murder Rule under which the now 31-year-old was jailed. The Felony Murder Rule basically says that any person involved in committing a felony where somebody was killed is guilty of murder. The armed robbery that Holle’s roommate committed with his car was a felony, and because Holle lent his car to his friend, he was therefore convicted of murder despite not actually being involved. Grodin recently expressed his feelings about Holle’s case in an article published by The Nation.
“I have been advocating on behalf of clemency for Ryan, who was first offered a plea deal of ten years but chose to go to trial,” wrote Grodin in the piece. “I’m sure it was difficult for a young man, who had never been arrested, and who believed he had done nothing to accept that he should go to prison for ten years, so he went to trial, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. He is now in his eleventh year of incarceration.”
“Again, this is a young man who was home asleep in bed at the time of the crime,” continued Grodin. “I personally know of no other felony murder conviction where the person was not even present, and the pre-meditated part of the conviction suggests that Ryan knew his car was going to be used in the course of a murder, which to me, isn’t credible. To the best of my knowledge, in the entire history of the criminal justice system in America, no one has ever been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for loaning a car and going to sleep.”
Grodin is now taking his plea to the American public in the hopes that Holle can soon be released from prison. The comedian says that if Holle gets out, the 31-year-old plans to become an activist.
“Ryan writes me from prison telling me that when he gets out, he plans to speak out against the Felony Murder Rule,” wrote Grodin. “Unless people of good will and common sense publicize his case, Ryan Holle will die in prison.”
After The Nation published the article, Grodin posted an update saying that Holle was recently denied clemency.
Last year, the saga of Ethan Couch came to light when angry people all over the world blasted a judge who said the 17-year-old suffered from “affluenza” and only sentenced him to probation in the drunk driving incident that left four people dead. Now, a judge has only required Couch’s parents to pay for a small fraction of his monthly rehabilitation bill, leaving the rest to taxpayers.
On June 15, 2013, 16-year-old Ethan Couch got drunk and crashed his car into a group of pedestrians, killing four and injuring two. During the trial, Couch’s attorneys argued that the boy suffered from “affluenza,” meaning that coming from wealthy parents made him feel entitled and therefore make bad decisions. The attorneys argued that Couch needed rehabilitation, not jail, and in the end, the judge agreed.
Dr. Dick Miller, the psychologist who first used the term “affluenza” while in court, defended his stance during the trial.
“He pled guilty. He said ‘I did it’” said Miller. “[He said] ‘I was there, I was in the truck, I was driving and we ran over four people.’ My responsibility is to say what is best for this child. What’s best for this 16-year-old boy? And that’s what I told the judge. I used my 30 years of experience to say among the choices, with the kinds of resources that we had, what’s the best treatment for this kid? I don’t believe going to the penitentiary was best for him.”
Now, a judge says that Couch’s parents will only have to pay $1,170 a month towards the boy’s rehabilitation, despite the fact that the services cost $715 a day. The rest of the money, shockingly, will come from the taxpayers’ pockets.
"The family respects the decision of the facility and the court, and will honor the payment system the court has put in place," said Lance Evans, attorney for Fred and Tonya Couch.
So far, most of the victims’ families have settled or are in the process of settling with Ethan Couch’s parents, but the family of Lucas McConnell, who was killed at just 13 years old, says they refuse to settle their lawsuit against the Couch family.
"It's just another step in a long journey,” said Kevin McConnell to WFAA. “We plan to be there for all the steps."
For now, Ethan Couch remains on probation and will spend, reportedly, at least six months in a rehab facility while the American taxpayers, including family members of the victims, will foot most of the bill.
In a bizarre attempt to identify a killer, French prosecutors recently called a nine-year-old Labrador named Tango to the witness stand to testify during a murder trial. Unfortunately for the court, the experiment failed miserably.
The judge asked the alleged murderer to threaten Tango, whose owner was supposedly killed by the suspect, with a bat so that they could gauge his reaction, and after they saw how he reacted to the threat, they brought in a second, random dog to compare reactions. That dog served as the experiment’s control group.
As creative as this experiment was, the test completely bombed, and the prosecution was no closer to proving the suspect’s guilt than they were before.
As strange as this may sound, France actually has a history of calling animals as witnesses during trials. In 2008, a dog named Scooby Doo helped bring a murderer to justice when he was called to the witness stand during a trial so the court could see how he reacted when near the suspect. The dog reportedly “barked furiously” when it saw the suspected murderer, and following the successful test, Judge Thomas Cassuto thanked him for his "exemplary behaviour and invaluable assistance.”
Unfortunately for the French legal system, their latest four-legged witness didn’t quite work out the way they had hoped.
A nine-month-old baby was arrested in Pakistan for his “involvement” in an alleged assassination attempt on police.
Moosa Khan was booked on accusations that he helped stone police officers in the city of Lahore during a protest. Video of the infant’s arrest shows his fingerprints being taken, and quickly, the news footage went viral.
A judge released the boy to his grandfather not long after being arrest, and now, reports claim that the arresting officer Assistant Sub Inspector of Police Kashif has been suspended by the police department for accusing a baby of attempted murder.
“A nine month old can never commit such a crime,” said Deputy Inspector General of Police Jabbar. “This incident took place due to sheer misunderstanding on the police's part and was not done on purpose."
A judge in Mississippi has dismissed a murder charge against a woman who gave birth to a stillborn child in 2006.
Rennie Gibbs was 16 when she delivered her daughter. The child was stillborn, with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Subsequent medical exams discovered traces of cocaine byproduct in the baby’s blood, according to a story on ProPublica. Mississippi state prosecutors then indicted Gibbs for “depraved heart murder,” a second-degree murder charge. Depraved heart murder is defined in the state of Mississippi as an act that demonstrates a “callous disregard for human life.” Prosecutors alleged Gibbs caused the death of the child by using cocaine during the pregnancy.
Lowndes County Circuit Judge Jim Kitchens wasn’t so sure. He threw the case out on Thursday.
Kitchens’ ruling stated that “the law was unclear in Mississippi as to the appropriate charge, if any, to be levied when a pregnant woman allegedly consumed illegal drugs and allegedly caused the death of her unborn child.”
Kitchens relied on a similar case in Mississippi — Buckhalter v. State — for his ruling. In that case the state’s supreme court dismissed manslaughter charges against a woman who delivered a stillborn child after taking drugs while pregnant.
Gibbs was indicted prior to that case's decision.
"Accordingly, pursuant to the Mississippi Supreme Court's ruling this case for depraved heart murder is dismissed without prejudice,” Kitchens’ ruling read, according to the The Commercial Dispatch, a Mississippi newspaper.
The case shed new light on a growing number of “fetal harm” cases in which mothers are charged with various crimes for behaviors that injure an unborn child. ProPublica detailed many of those cases. In one case, an Iowa woman was arrested and jailed after falling down a flight of stairs. In another case, a woman in Indiana who attempted suicide while pregnant spent a year in jail before murder charges against her were dropped. Women’s rights advocates worry that such cases could lead to more prosecutions of poor women, who suffer a disproportionate number of stillbirths and miscarriages.
“It’s tremendously, tremendously frightening, this case,” said Oleta Fitzgerald of the Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy and research organization, in Jackson, Miss. “There’s real fear for young women whose babies are dying early who [lack the resources to] defend themselves and their actions.”
Assistant District Attorney Mark Jackson said the state would present the case to the grand jury again later this summer.
Gibbs’ attorney, Carrie Jourdan, said she was “elated” with Kitchens’ decision but was disappointed the state was going to try the case again.
“I'm of course disappointed that the state is considering a manslaughter case against her,” she said.
A 16-year-old Mexican girl was allegedly brutally murdered by her best friend after they got in a dispute over naked photos that were leaked on Facebook.
According to reports, Erandy Elizabeth Gutierrez stabbed her best friend, Anel Baez, 65 times in the neck after Baez invited her over so that they could patch things up after their dispute. Baez had allegedly uploaded naked photos of the pair to Facebook, and authorities suspect that Gutierrez wanted revenge.
"It may seem that I am very calm, but in my head I have killed you at least three times," Gutierrez reportedly tweeted just weeks before the murder occurred. The teenager also allegedly pledged to “bury” her friend “by the end of the year.”
Police say that when Gutierrez arrived at Baez’s home, she asked to use the bathroom, but instead went into the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and proceeded to stab her friend repeatedly, leaving her in a pool of blood. The teenager left the scene and attempted to remove herself from the situation entirely.
Gutierrez was eventually arrested at Baez’s funeral, where she was pretending to grieve along with friends and Baez’s family.
Police say Gutierrez will be charged with murder this week, but because she is a minor, she will most likely be prosecuted in juvenile court and may only serve up to seven years in jail if she’s found guilty.
The boyfriend of a 23-year-old woman, who was found dead in her Toronto apartment in 2011, testified this week describing in detail what he saw via Skype while his girlfriend was attacked.
Qian 'Necole' Liu’s neighbor, Brian Dickson, has been charged with her murder.
Liu was Skyping with her boyfriend Xian Meng, who was in China, on April 15, 2011, when she heard a knock at the door of her basement apartment around 1 a.m.
She answered it and a man standing there tried to hug her. Meng told the court Friday that he heard Liu say “No” – once in English and a second time in Mandarin. The attacker shoved Lui, pushed his way into the apartment, and closed the door behind him.
Then Meng heard two “muffled bangs” and silence. He said moments later he saw a stranger, who was naked from the waste down, turn off the computer.
Liu’s “lifeless body was located face down on the floor, a nightgown pulled up around her chest,” said Crown attorney Christine Pirraglia.
“She was naked from the waist down,” Pirraglia added.
Semen on the body matched Dickson’s to a probability of 1 in 2.7 trillion. A blood stain on a t-shirt found in Dickson’s apartment matched Liu to a probability of 1 in 140 quadrillion.
Prosecutors claim Dickson used to troll online chat rooms looking for Asian women.
Dickson has pleaded not guilty.
“No, I did not. I had nothing to do with it at all,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.