A Pennsylvania state trooper accused of stomping on the face of a handcuffed man was acquitted yesterday.
A jury found that 43-year-old Kelly Cruz did not use excessive force nor deprive 22-year-old Zachary Bare of his civil rights when he kicked the handcuffed man in the head, leading to two facial fractures, damaged teeth, and a broken nose.
Cruz never denied that he was the one who caused Bare’s injuries, striking him with such force that his teeth were driven into his gums. The question was whether such force had been called for.
The incident was the result of a drug raid gone wrong: Cruz was leading a group of West Whiteland police officers to ambush a suspected meth lab. As they approached, the men inside the ranch house saw them and one managed to flee.
One of the officers told jurors that he’d seen Bare running and followed him to his house, where he ordered to lie on the kitchen floor. Another officer handcuffed him and left him there.
Accounts begin to differ from there. A third officer, Glenn Cockerham, filed a report saying he witnessed Cruz yell at Bare and then stomp on his head. But the first two officers said they never saw Cockerham in the house.
"This case boils down to credibility," Christian Hoey, Cruz’s lawyer, said at the beginning of trial. "It all comes down to who the jury believes."
In the end, the court chose to believe Cruz and witnesses Hoey called to the stand who testified to the trooper’s nonviolent reputation.
The officer said during his testimony that he had entered the home that Bare shared with his disabled mother, searched it, and, finding no one, returned to the kitchen to find Bare. He claimed Bare was enraged, making threats and attempting to get up. So he “pushed” on Bare’s shoulder to restrain him.
“I reacted to his actions,” Cruz testified. “I was fixated on his rage, and I did not have the opportunity to do the scans I would do, with my training and expertise.
“I am taking care of me,” Cruz said. “I am afraid. At that moment I did not know he was handcuffed. I responded the way I was trained to respond. I reacted to what I saw. If I fail, I don’t come home to my family.”
During his closing arguments, prosecutor L.C. Wright argued that Bare shouldn’t have been subjected to an unwarranted, brutal assault.
“He might have been a drunken nuisance, but that does not matter, because he is still protected by the civil rights laws,” Wright argued.
“He didn’t pose a significant threat,” Wright said. “He did not pose any threat at all.”
An Indiana teen pleaded guilty to raping a 93-year-old woman before his trial had even begun.
The jury had been selected and attorneys were about to present opening statements when 17-year-old Iquise Taylor, from Anderson, pleaded guilty to four felonies: burglary, criminal deviate conduct, criminal confinement and strangulation.
Taylor’s family, as well as that of the victim, stood by as Taylor pleaded guilty to each successive charge read by Madison Circuit Court 3 Judge Thomas Newman.
In a shocking and disturbing case of violence and deviance, Taylor kicked down victim Amelia Rudolf’s locked door as she lay in bed on July 16 of last year. He then covered her mouth and raped her.
Witness reports, DNA found on the scene, and Tayor’s own confession led to his apprehension.
“If it wasn’t for the police department, I don’t know what I would’ve done,” Rudolf said after police landed Taylor. “I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see who did it.”
While the trial was set to begin last year, Taylor was being treated at a state psychiatric facility at the time. Judge Newman ruled in October that Newman was mentally incompetent, with court conversations revealing that Taylor’s mental development is about equal to that of a second grader. But two mental health professionals were split on their decision about Taylor. One doctor determined that the teen was in fact mentally able to defend himself in court.
A probably cause affidavit revealed that Taylor had raped and choked a 10-year-old boy who had been staying at his family’s home in 2007.
Taylor’s attorneys issued a gag order in August, preventing either side from issuing a public statement about the case. Neither Taylor’s family nor the victim’s issued a statement following the trial.
The defendant accepted a plea deal Tuesday that will cap is prison sentence at 50 years.
20-year-old Ellyzabeth Rainey was sentenced Friday to 41 years in prison for the brutal murder of her mother-in law.
Rainey pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of 59-year-old Deborah Rainey, according to ABC. The defendant killed her mother-in-law in April 2013 by pouring boiling water on her, throwing weights at her, stabbing her to death and then pouring bleach into her mouth and nose.
The gruesome scene took place in the family’s Colorado Springs apartment, where she lived with her husband Jason Rainey and their newborn baby.
According to a police affidavit, the couple was on the brink of a divorce. The husband’s mother had come from San Francisco about two weeks prior to help take care of the infant.
Investigators also noted that Ellyzabeth Rainey and her mother-in-law had a troubled relationship.
"Ms Rainey commented that Deborah has never liked her anyway … she got tired of being pushed around so 'she killed her,'" Det. Shawn Peterson said in the affidavit.
Furthermore, Ellyzabeth Rainey informed investigators that she had been diagnosed as bipolar at 10 years old but did not take any medication. She said she heard voices telling her that Deborah Rainey would “take everything away from her,” according to ABC. The young wife and mother had been hospitalized for “hallucinating.”
Rainey’s lawyers did not claim insanity on behalf of their defendant.
Police responded to a noise complaint from a neighbor, finding the baby crying and a bloody butcher knife on the kitchen counter. Rainey picked up her child and asked the officers to take it, responding "because I just killed someone” when asked why. She then threw the baby at one and fled. While one officer caught Rainey, another found the body under an air mattress.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Rainey planned the slaying well in advance, buying and hiding a set of knives in the laundry room and planting her husband’s free weights in the living room.
11Homicide Charges Likely For Colorado Mom Who Left 3-Year-Old Home Alone For 20 Hours, Resulting in Child's Death
Colorado mother Megan McKeon likely faces a long prison sentence for allegedly leaving her 3-year-old son at home alone for nearly 20 hours, ultimately returning to find the child dead.
The court shocked observers by first dropping three misdemeanor child abuse charges against McKeon, who tried to plead guilty. But that was only because the judge wants stiffer charges.
The 24-year-old negligent mother left her child, Austin, alone in their small Steamboat Springs cabin, located on a camping site, when she went to work. She later told detectives that since she had left food, juice, and a movie for her son she thought he would be fine. She had done the same thing over 20 times before, she said.
After finishing her shift at city market, McKeon spent the night at a man’s house. Returning home the next morning, she found her son face up and lifeless on the floor. Human waste and discarded food, as well as razor blades in easy reach, were part of the tragic scene.
McKeon was jailed on $250,000 bond.
The misdemeanor charges would have carried a maximum sentence of 42 months. Judge James Garrecht is waiting on toxicology reports to confirm the boy’s official cause of death; prescription drugs are suspected to be involved. He hopes to hit McKeon with homicide charges,
The boy’s father, 22-year-old Tyler Davis, is in prison for failing to register as a sex offender. Davis was indicted on felony charges of soliciting sex from underage teenage girls.
Justin’s grandmother, Charity O’Konski, reportedly yelled “she killed a baby” in the courtroom when the misdemeanor charges were dropped.
O’Konski, who is Davis’ mother, says she would have taken care of the boy if McKeon had just told her help was needed.
“All she had to do was call me. There’s no if, ands or buts to what happened, it’s her fault no matter what happened. She is accountable for that baby,” O’Konski told CBS. “Nothing is ever going to be enough, because he will never come back to us but she took his life away and the only way to take her life away is to let her sit behind those bars and let her think about what she did.”
“We’re never going to have little Austin back again,” said O’Konski. “But for his justice and all the family that loved him, she needs to pay for what she did.”
When an employee at a South Carolina college texted her daughter yesterday that she “could hear gun shots being fired inside the school,” she did not follow it by saying “April Fools.” The disturbing joke escalated into an all-out police investigation.
According to the police report, Angela Timmons, 54, sent the message to her 34-year-old daughter April, who lives in New York. She said that she heard shots and was hiding in the bathroom at Virginia College, where she works in financial planning, according to The Smoking Gun.
Frantically texting her mother back, April got no answer. So she called the police.
Lt. Tony Ivey with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office said they got the call and 15 to 20 deputies were immediately dispatched.
"I'm thinking Columbine High School, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech," said Sheriff Chuck Wright, who was prepared for a grave situation when he approached the school.
When questioned, Timmons told deputies that she “sent the text as an April Fools joke and that she has done such jokes on April Fools in the past.”
Wright noted how quickly his deputies had responded to the call, prepared for the worst. Timmons’ joke was worse than bad taste, he said.
"Text someone and tell them their tire's flat, that's funny," Wright said. "We're talking about death. It's real. The people of Sandy Hook, when they see this online they're not going to think it's very funny. I don't think it's very funny."
Investigators confirm that there was “no record” on her phone that she had clarified that the alarming message was a joke.
Timmons was arrested and booked on several charges including disturbing a school and a breach of peace. She is being held in county jail.
Virginia College Vice President Diane Worthington said in a statement that the administration was “very, very disappointed regarding the poor judgment displayed,” apologizing to the Spartanburg Sheriff’s Department on behalf of the school.
Wealthy du Point heir Robert H. Richards IV was sentenced to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter, with a Delaware Superior Court judge writing that he needed treatment instead of prison time.
Court records show that Judge Jan Jurden’s order stated that Richards “will not fare well” in a level 5 prison and so should instead receive treatment.
Delaware Public Defender Brendan J. O'Neill told the Delaware News Journal that the decision was likely to prompt skepticism about "how a person with great wealth may be treated by the system."
Richards, who is unemployed and lives off of his family’s trust fund, just came into the public eye after being sued for damages in 2009 by his ex-wife for the fourth-degree rape of their daughter.
At five years old, the couple's daughter told her grandmother, Donna Burg, that her father had abused her and told her it was “our little secret.” She said she didn’t want "my daddy touching me anymore."
Richards had abused his daughter in the bedrooms of her mother and brother in the family’s mansion, according to the 2007 arrest warrant.
Richards’ ex-wife Tracy also accused him of abusing their infant son during the same period, but investigators found that there was not enough evidence to press charges. They will review the allegations again, police say.
Criminal justice authorities in Delaware questioned Jurden’s decision—one that usually applies to drug addicts, not child rapists.
Defense lawyer Michael W. Modica was baffled by the judge’s ruling that Richards should go to treatment in lieu of doing time because prison would be an unhealthy environment for him.
"I've never heard of the judge saying in general that he is not going to do well," Modica said. "Who thrives in jail?"
Kendall Marlowe, executive director of National Association for Counsel for Children, said that children should be “safeguarded” from abuse at all costs.
"Our prisons should be more rehabilitative environments, but the prison system's inadequacies are not a justification for letting a child molester off the hook,” Marlowe said.
11UVA Student Files $40 Million Suit Against ABC Agents and State For Traumatic Sparkling Water Episode
A University of Virginia student filed a $40 million lawsuit Tuesday against the state and seven ABC agents who surrounded her car and drew guns on her and a friend -- all because of a case of beer that turned out to be sparkling water.
Elizabeth Daly was charged with assaulting the ABC agents last year when she and a friend went to pick up cookie dough for a charity fundraiser and other items from a Charlottesville Harris Teeter. After finishing up, Daly and her friend exited the store, with Daly carrying a clearly visible case of canned LaCroix sparkling water.
The two women got into Daly’s Chevy Trailblazer and were suddenly surrounded by seven plainclothes officers banging on the windows -- six men and one woman. Daly, who is now 21, was terrified and unsure that they were really agents, she claims.
The agents, who had been in the parking lot checking IDs of people who appeared to be underage and were buying alcohol, were wearing their badges “hanging from necklaces which at the time and under the circumstances were not clearly visible or readable,” the suit states.
The panicked students were not able to open the windows at the agent’s orders because the car was not running. Daly called 911 on her phone and her friend told the operator that they did not know if the people were really law enforcement officers.
That’s when one agent drew his gun and pointed it at the ground, and another tried to break the passenger’s window with his flashlight.
Daly put her foot on the gas and left the parking lot, grazing two of the agents, with the intention of going to the police station. Police arrived and drove her to the station, where she spent the night in jail for assaulting two agents and for failing to stop when ordered—felony offenses in Virginia.
Though the charges were expunged, Daly is suing for “significant legal, medical and other costs,” the Times-Dispatch reports, alleging that she suffers from post-traumatic stress and intense anxiety as a result of the incident.
Michael Kelly, director of communications for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, said of the 47-page suit filed in Richmond Circuit Court, “It’s incredibly unfortunate that the situation that night in Charlottesville occurred at all.”
“As this case proceeds, the Attorney General’s Office will defend the commonwealth’s interests and work to ensure a just and reasonable outcome,” Kelly said.
An Athens, Georgia man was charged with assaulting a child when he beat up his stepdaughter’s boyfriend after finding the two teens in the shower together.
Clinton Antonio Ward, 49, was arrested after calling 911 himself to report that an unknown teen was in his apartment. The crazed stepfather was booked on charges of battery and first- and third-degree cruelty to children.
Ward was not home when they stepped in the shower, the stepdaughter told police. Ward said he initially thought his stepdaughter was talking to someone on speakerphone.
The teen lovers exited the shower to find Ward waiting on the couch. Seeing that the interaction was up close and personal, Ward pushed past his stepdaughter, who was wearing a towel, to grab the nude boy as he tried to collect his clothes and belongings. Ward slammed the boyfriend into the wall and punched him repeatedly in the face and chest.
The stepdaughter told police that she suffered a red eye from being pushed by her stepfather.
Ward admitted to punching the teen. He was then arrested for “maliciously causing a child under the age of 18 cruel, excessive or mental pain” as well as for allowing a child under the age of 18 to witness the assault.
The boy’s mother told police she wanted charges brought against Ward.
Jeffrey Ferguson, found guilty 25 years ago for the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl, was executed just after midnight last Wednesday in Missouri. His was the fifth execution in five months in the state.
"I'm sorry to have to be the cause that brings you all into this dark business of execution," Ferguson, 59, said in his final statement. "I pray for the victim's family to have peace in their hearts one day and lose the anger, hate and need for revenge that has driven them."
Ferguson was convicted of abducting Kelli Hall in February of 1989 as she finished her shift at a St. Louis gas station. Her frozen body was found almost two weeks later on a local farm. She had been raped and strangled, investigators concluded.
Ferguson’s two daughters and other relatives witnessed the execution from the observation room, along with Hall’s family. The victim’s father, Jim Hall, says the family can finally have closure now that their daughter’s murderer has been put to death, even if it took “way too many years.”
"This basically tore two families apart," Hall told the Associated Press after the execution. "Hopefully we can now move forward. ... Kelli can rest now."
Attorneys challenged Ferguson’s sentence with several appeals and arguments against the controversial lethal injection. He had reformed in prison, supporters said, doing good deeds and becoming deeply religious.
"Society doesn't gain anything by his execution," Rita Linhardt of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said Tuesday. "He's not the same man he was 24 years ago."
But St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch flatly disagreed that Ferguson’s good behavior in prison made up for his crimes.
"She gets abducted, abused in an unspeakable manner by this guy and then slowly murdered and dumped in a field like a bag of garbage," McCulloch said.
Kenneth Ousley, a friend who was with Ferguson on the night of the murder, is in jail for life with the possibility of parole on second-degree murder charges. Hall’s father said the family is doing their best to make sure he is never paroled.
A California woman who was the victim of a would-be robbery in a San Bernardino Wal-Mart says that the store’s staff tried to discourage her from calling the police.
Linda Andrade, 68, was shopping in a local Wal-Mart wearing the gold chain that her husband had given her thirty years before when a man came up behind her and tried to pull off the necklace, CBS LA reports.
The surveillance footage shows what happened: the man tried to grab the chain off Andrade’s neck and the necklace fell to the ground. Andrade confronted the man, who approached her and then ran away. Then Andrade screamed for help.
Andrade said no one came to her assistance. When she did speak to store management, the manager told her she shouldn’t bother calling law enforcement.
“She says, well if you want me to call the police you’ll have to wait here for two to three hours,” Andrade said.
“They just made me feel unimportant, like… you got your chain back so what are you complaining about,” she added to KTLA.
According to San Bernardino Police Lt. Richard Lawhead, Wal-Mart management shouldn’t have thought twice about dialing 911.
“The fact that we didn’t get the call on something like this when it’s a grand theft person involving a senior, you know a senior is a protected class in our society and we should have gotten the number one response on this,” Lawhead said.
Wal-Mart issued a statement in response to the allegations saying they will do a “better job” responding to crimes in their stores.
“While we can’t always prevent crime from happening, we can definitely do a better job of how we respond in a situation like this,” said Dianna Gee Senior Manager for Wal-Mart national media relations. “In light of what happened in this case, we have reiterated our expectations to those involved.”