Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Laura Wilson

Laura Wilson was just 17 years old — a happy but headstrong girl whose love story across the racial divide would have a tragic ending. 

‘She was feisty — if she had anything to say she would speak out,’ her mother Margaret says, as she showed me a picture of a smiling, mischievous teenager.
Laura’s Asian boyfriend, Ashtiaq Ashgar, also 17, was born in Britain but when Laura challenged his family’s traditional cultural values by confronting them with details of their relationship, she had to be silenced.

One night in October 2010, Laura was lured to the banks of a canal in Rotherham in South Yorkshire, where Ashtiaq attacked her before throwing her into the water.
He was subsequently arrested and found guilty of Laura’s murder last June and sentenced to 17 years in prison. 

So does this mean that Laura was the first white victim of an honour killing in Britain?

Margaret Wilson has never spoken publicly before, but she told me she is convinced her daughter was murdered because she challenged the code of honour which some ethnic communities still follow in the UK.

‘I honestly think it was an honour killing for putting shame on the family. They needed to shut Laura up and they did,’ she says. 

In today’s multi-cultural Britain, the majority of young people from immigrant communities are well-integrated. Yet in many households, old traditions are still a powerful force.

In south Asian and Middle Eastern communities, controlling the behaviour of women is seen as key to the family’s honour.

Refusing to consent to marry the husband chosen for you or leaving an abusive marriage is often seen as dishonouring the family. 

As I found when investigating the issue of ‘honour killings’ for BBC1’s Panorama, women are suffering in silence.

Behind closed doors, beatings, kidnap, forced imprisonment, rape and even murder are being committed in the name of honour. 

The Government admits it does not know the true scale of the abuse. The latest survey of police statistics show that 2,823 honour crimes were reported in 2010.
But a quarter of police forces could not provide the figures and many crimes go unreported, meaning that the real tally is much higher. 

Laura Wilson’s murder had the brutal hallmarks of an honour killing.

She lived in Ferham Park, an Asian and white community in Rotherham.

Although only a teenager, Laura already had a baby by an Asian man, Ishaq ‘Zac’ Hussein, a 20-year-old.

However, he refused to recognise the child and Laura was really in love with his friend, Ashtiaq Ashgar.

Her mother says: ‘Ashtiaq was her first love, she adored him.’

But stung by Zac’s rejection of her and their child, Laura decided to confront the men’s families and told them she’d had sexual relations with both men. 

Sheffield police believe this was the trigger for a plan to kill Laura.

Detective Superintendent Mick Mason told me that Laura’s decision to go round to the families and to confront them was not welcomed in the Pakistani community.

He says: ‘An argument broke out — one of the mothers tried to hit Laura with a shoe.

Police know from analysing records of the two men’s phones that after the heated exchange they held several meetings. There were even text messages about buying a gun. 

DS Mason, now retired, took me through the desolate industrial area where Laura took her last walk after Ashtiaq texted her three days after she confronted the families. He had asked her to meet him by the canal. 

Police believe Ashtiaq began a frenzied knife attack on the girl before throwing her, badly wounded, into the canal.

‘I have seen many murders in my time,’ said DS Mason, ‘but this was the worst.’
The two men were arrested and tried for her murder. The pathologist in court revealed that Laura had been stabbed in the top of the head repeatedly as she tried to struggle out of the water.

Ashtiaq was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison and Zac was acquitted.
‘I think it was all about shame,’ DS Mason told me. ‘In their eyes, Laura had brought shame on the family by coming round. Their son had also brought shame on the family.’

As Laura’s mother lays flowers on her daughter’s grave, she cannot forget the face of the accused in court: ‘He never showed remorse.’ 

Laura’s tragic case is made unusual by the colour of her skin — but her experiences are mirrored by those of young south Asian women who fall foul of their families’ sense of honour.
The suicide rate among women of south Asian descent is three times the national average as many women take what they see as the only way out of abusive family situations — by killing themselves.

Jasvinder Sanghera, a British-born Sikh, took me round the streets of Derby, where she was brought up and where her parents tried to force her to marry a man she had never met. 

She was only 14 at the time but she was imprisoned in her room and when she ran away she was disowned by her family. 

‘Girls are taught from a young age that cutting your hair, wearing make-up and having a boyfriend are all dishonourable acts,’ she says. ‘You understand that if you engage in this behaviour, you put yourself at risk. It can be a trigger for a forced marriage or even murder.’

Following her experience, Jasvinder decided to campaign against honour crime and set up Karma Nirvana, which runs the UK’s helpline for victims. Calls have doubled in the last four years.

‘The 500 calls we receive every month are just a drop in ocean,’ says Jasvinder.
‘There are hundreds of thousands of women out there we have yet to reach.’

At the helpline centre I met Neina, a British-Asian volunteer who was a victim of honour crime.

She was beaten by her husband and her own father and mother took his side, blaming her and refusing to help her. Neina fled to a refuge and her family cut all ties with her.

Nationally, the police response to honour crime has been patchy and serious mistakes have been made because of a failure to understand the risks women and girls face.

Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Goode, of the Metropolitan Police, is involved in training other officers about honour crimes.

She says: ‘Every single one of these cases involve extreme violence because the murders are committed to send a message to the wider community.

'Often there is a high degree of organisation often precipitated by a family meeting.’
DCI Goode spent four years investigating and bringing to justice four men, all relatives, who were involved in the case of Banaz Mahmoud, a 19-year-old Kurdish girl who was murdered at her family home in South London in 2006.

DCI Goode pursued two of the suspects to Iraq and they were extradited back to Britain and tried in court. Banaz’s fate was sealed when she was spotted kissing her boyfriend outside Morden Tube Station in South London.

She had been allowed by her family to leave her violent husband but when she started seeing someone else, it was too much for their honour.

Her father first tried to kill her after her murder had been sanctioned at a meeting of the extended family. That attempt was unsuccessful and Banaz ended up in hospital.
DCI Goode said Banaz recounted her terrible ordeal to the police.

She said: ‘The officer simply did not understand or believe what she was being told and had no knowledge of honour-based violence.

The detective showed me a letter Banaz wrote and sent to the police in which she named the relatives she believed were out to kill her. But Banaz was terrified and refused to press charges. With no where else to turn to she went home. 

Less than a month later, Banaz was killed on the floor of her own living room in the most shocking and violent way involving rape and strangulation.

Two of her relatives were arrested and taken into custody where they were secretly recorded boasting that they had hidden her body more than 100 miles away.

‘Banaz’s body was buried six feet under a house,’ DCI Goode.

‘They had gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure we did not find her.’

A  ccording to Nazir Afzal, of the Crown Prosecution Service and who is the lead prosecutor on honour crime, there are between ten and 12 honour killings a year in Britain.

‘But we don’t know the true figure, how many unmarked graves there are,’ Mr Afzal admitted. 

He described a conversation he had recently had with a 20-year-old man.

‘He told me that in his society, a man is like a piece of gold, a woman is like a piece of silk. If you drop gold in the mud, you can clean it. But a piece of silk is ruined.’

At the national helpline for honour crime victims, many of the calls involve Asian girls afraid of being forced into marriage.

I listened as staff tried to arrange protection for a frightened 15-year-old taken out of school by her parents and beaten after they found a text on her mobile they believed was from a boy. She was terrified she was about to be taken to Pakistan and married off. 

The Coalition government is now considering making forced marriage a criminal offence on the basis that many experts say it is the root cause of honour crime.
Many believe that the key to preventing honour abuse in the long term lies in education.

Yet Jasvinder Sanghera approached more than 100 schools before finding one that was prepared to let her talk to pupils about forced marriage and honour-based abuse.
She says: ‘The schools all say the same old thing — we don’t want to offend communities.’



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Robert Purvis


Jurors see shocking video of teen being shot to death

Jurors in an Albany murder trial saw graphic video of the crime in court Tuesday.

Brian Beasley is accused of gunning down an Albany High School student, 19-year old Robert Purvis, at a Mock Road car wash in February 2011.

Prosecutors played surveillance video that shows Purvis walking up to a car as his girlfriend washes a car in the next bay.

Suddenly, Purvis falls backward after being shot at least twice in the chest.

Beasley sat quietly in court with his head down as the video was shown.

The shooter got out of his car, walked to Purvis's car,  then came back to the body and took Purvis's car keys, and drove away in the teen's car.

Jurors then heard from Purvis's girlfriend, Shanna Moore, who is seen on the surveillance video finding his body.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Katie Marie Fierro

 Katie and her murderer.

SAN ANTONIO - There are new details on a deadly shooting from Friday in Northeast Bexar County where a man and woman died and a baby was left in critical condition.

The gunman has been identified as 20-year-old Landon Joseph Keller. The victim has been identified as 20-year-old Katie Marie Fierro. As of Saturday night, Fierro's one-year-old son Kaden was at University Hospital on life support after being shot in the head.

A spokesperson for the Bexar County Sheriff's Office said they were not married and he was not the baby's father. But Keller lists Fierro as his wife on his Facebook page. Investigators are still trying to determine why Keller shot the mom and her baby when they arrived at their home on Oldham Friday, and then shot himself.

A passerby was also injured in the shooting. That person is expected to be Okay.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Allyson Archibald

Good Samaritan tells of rescue effort

A passer-by tells the judge hearing a murder trial that the victim bled so much that it warmed the sidewalk.

The beating that killed Allyson Archibald was so severe that a passer-by who ran barefoot to render aid could feel the 18-year-old Springfield woman’s blood warming the cold, wet sidewalk, the would-be rescuer testified Tuesday at the trial of the man who is alleged to have killed Archibald.

Robert Darnell Boyd, now 29, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison if convicted of intentionally killing Archibald. His attorney, Marc Friedman, said there is no evidence that Boyd meant to kill Archibald, with whom he’d had an on-and-off relationship before her death on Nov. 28, 2010.

The passer-by, Brandi Weimer, testified that she and three other people were heading to Weimer’s nearby home from a Eugene nightclub about 2:30 a.m. when they noticed Boyd appearing “confrontational” with the much smaller Archibald. The group’s designated driver stopped her pickup truck and shouted, “Are you OK?” to Archi­bald, Weimer said.

The young woman “very confidently” answered that she was fine, Weimer recounted. But Boyd walked to the truck “in a very aggressive manner,” she continued, telling its passengers they needed to mind their own business and leave. The group drove away, Weimer said, but were concerned enough about Boyd’s threatening demeanor to call police immediately and “loop back around the block to make sure (Archibald) was safe,” Weimer testified.

That’s when they saw Boyd running away and Archibald collapsed on a sidewalk in the 400 block of West Fairview Drive, she said. 

Weimer did not waste time putting her shoes on before running from the truck to assist Archibald. She wept Tuesday as she described the young woman’s grave injuries to Lane County Circuit Judge Lauren Holland.

“It was cold and raining, (but) when I got toward her, it was warm on my feet,” Weimer told Holland, who is deciding the case instead of a jury at Boyd’s request.

Archibald was bleeding from multiple facial lacerations, including an ear nearly torn from her head, and was making gurgling sounds, Weimer said.

“I tried to swab her mouth to help her breathe,” she testified. “I also told her, ‘We’re here,’ and that there was help on the way.” 

Archibald soon stopped breathing, however, and Weimer began chest compressions to keep her heart pumping. A police officer, and then paramedics, relieved Weimer in trying to resuscitate the teen, but Archibald was pronounced dead at the scene.

Defense attorney Marc Friedman joined prosecutor Steve Morgan in praising as “remarkable” Weimer’s efforts to care for an injured stranger. Friedman also called it “a good thing” that she and the three other people in the pickup stopped to confront the couple after witnessing their dispute. 

But he asked Holland to consider how Boyd perceived that confrontation, as well as his “mindset and mental state” when he fatally injured Archibald. Friedman said Boyd would testify in his own defense that he did not recall the assault and did not intend to kill her.

The defense lawyer also said he would challenge Boyd’s “alleged” confession to a Springfield police officer after his apprehension. Friedman also said he would present testimony from a psychologist that Boyd was in a dissociative state at the time of the fatal assault.

Morgan disagreed that Boyd didn’t know what he was doing when he killed Archibald. Boyd told a Springfield police detective that Archibald hit him, making him so angry that he wanted to “bash her head in.” 

“What he felt like doing is what he did, and that’s murder,” the Lane County Deputy District Attorney said.

The trial continues today and is expected to conclude by the end of the week.

At the time of her death, Archibald was the mother of a 6-month-old son — not Boyd’s child; she was a student at Springfield’s alternative Gateways High School. One side of the courtroom Tuesday was packed with young women, many of whom had been her classmates.



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Erik Tornblom


Death penalty case puts racism on trial in North Carolina

In North Carolina, the Racial Justice Act seeks to remedy years of inequity on death row. But can racism be regulated? 

In 1991, 18-year-old Marcus Reymond Robinson and a friend convinced Erik Tornblom, 17, to give them a ride home from a gas station.

Robinson and his friend then pulled a gun on Tornblom, forced him to drive to a field, took his car and his money and shot him in the head.

A jury later convicted Robinson, who is black, of pulling the trigger on Tornblom, who was white. The prosecution presented evidence that Robinson said he wanted to kill a "whitey".

He was sentenced to death and scheduled to be executed in 2007. But like many death row convicts, he has survived past that date, and continues to appeal his sentence.

Last week, he appeared in a North Carolina courtroom as the first death row inmate to present evidence under North Carolina's Racial Justice Act (RJA), a controversial law designed to compensate for bias in the judicial system.

He and his legal team are hoping the new law will offer him relief in the form of life in prison without parole.

In the process, they're putting racism itself on trial.

'Wild disparities'
Critics of the death penalty have long argued that it is applied in an uneven and unjust fashion.
"Currently, only about 1% of the people who are accused of intentional murder are receiving the death penalty. There are wild disparities," says Malcolm Hunter, one of Robinson's lawyers and executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation.

"I could show you the summaries of 50 cases any year in North Carolina and say 'I want to pick out the two or three that get the death penalty', and you'd never be able to do it."

A series of studies over the past 30 years show that race is often a significant factor in who gets the death penalty: that black convicts are more likely to receive the death penalty than white ones, that white victims are more likely to result in a death sentence than black ones.

For Shirley Burns, the mother of Robinson, the idea of sentencing bias isn't just an academic exercise. Her other son, Curtis, was killed in 2006.

His killer wasn't eligible for the death penalty but could have served life in prison. Thanks to a plea bargain, he is currently serving a 22-year sentence.

"Punishment for a crime is not wrong, but the way that it is dealt to different people is wrong," says Ms Burns.

Though it is currently unconstitutional to seek the death penalty for racially biased reasons, defendants must prove intentional bigotry to make their case.

That's a difficult order, says Frank Baumgartner, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina.

"You would have to get someone to say I did this on purpose, and I did this for the reason of racial bigotry," he says. "It's almost never done."

But by looking at several cases over time, broader patterns of systemic bias emerge.

Excerpts from Racial Justice Act:

The defendant has the burden of proving that race was a significant factor in decisions to seek or impose the sentence of death in the county, the prosecutorial district, the judicial division, or the State at the time the death sentence was sought or imposed. The State may offer evidence in rebuttal of the claims or evidence of the defendant, including statistical evidence.
In the 1987 Supreme Court case McClesky v Kemp, justices weighed whether these statistical patterns could be used to prove bias in a death penalty appeal. 

In a 5-4 decision, the justices decided against the use of this data, noting that the matter was one "best presented to the legislative bodies" who could choose to pass specific laws addressing this concern.
In 2009, the legislature in North Carolina did just that.

Data defence
The Racial Justice Act (RJA) allows death penalty prisoners to use statistical patterns of injustice, not just the facts of an individual case, to prove bias.

A similar but weaker law exists in Kentucky, and has yet to be put to use.

Under North Carolina's RJA, Defendants are eligible for a life sentence without parole if they can show that they were more likely to receive the death penalty because of their race or the race of their victims.

They can also, as in the case of Marcus Robinson, try to prove racial bias in how the state used their "peremptory challenges" during jury selection.

These challenges allow lawyers for both the prosecution and the defence to strike a certain amount of potential jurors without cause, as long as in doing so they adhere to federal laws against discrimination.

Barbara O'Brien, a law professor from Michigan State University, studied the role of race in peremptory jury strikes in North Carolina from 1990 to 2010.

At Robinson's RJA hearing, she testified that, on average, North Carolina prosecutors in death penalty cases excluded qualified black jurors at more than twice the rate of qualified non-black jurors.

For Marcus Robinson's jury pool, qualified blacks were rejected 3.5 times more.

"Being black does predict whether or not the state will strike the potential juror, even when controlling for these other variables," she said.

The final jury seated in Robinson's case had nine white members, two black, and one Native American. The rate of black members on the jury, 18%, was not much different to that of North Carolina's black population, about 21%.

But under the RJA, the final makeup of the jury is not at issue. Instead, it's what role the state played to get to that point.

"Absent of other things, naturally the prosecution will want less blacks, defence will want more. The question is whether we should allow the prosecution to bleach juries," says Mr Baumgartner.

"Should the state, on our behalf, engage in a racially discriminatory pattern of behaviour?"

Colour blind justice?
For the family of Erik Tornblom questions about systemic bias and judicial fairness seem far removed from the death of their son. He is not a statistic, they say, and neither is his killer.

Racial Justice Act timeline

  • 1987 Supreme Court decision McCleskey v Kemp says that under current law statistics cannot be used to prove bias in individual cases
  • 2006 Legal challenges temporarily halt executions in North Carolina
  • 2009 The North Carolina Senate passes the Racial Justice Act. Opponents include district attorneys and conservative lawmakers.
  • 2011 Amid continued opposition to the RJA, the Senate passes a new version of the bill, which eliminates the use of statistics. It's later vetoed by the governor
  • 2012 As of January, all but a handful of North Carolina's 158 death row inmates have filed a claim under the RJA
"What do people in Michigan have to do with us in North Carolina?" Patricia Tornblom, Erik's stepmother, asked after the first day in court. The family wore buttons that read "Justice is color blind". 

To them, the only racial bias that matters should be the one that Robinson displayed when seeking out a white victim.

The prosecution cannot make this argument. They cannot provide details of the murder and argue that the death penalty was well deserved. They can only present their own statistics expert, as well as evidence from the judge and prosecutor in Robinson's original trial.

Both men maintain that race was not a factor in the state's jury selection process. More judges are expected to testify to similar effect.

But the Racial Justice Act fundamentally redefines the way the judicial system views racism. For years, the courts only saw racism as a deliberate act, done with malice.

The RJA says that racism has more to do with subtle shifts and built-in prejudices that permeate what should be a fair process.

"People can be motivated by race without even realising it," said defence attorney James Ferguson in his opening arguments. Later, he presented expert witnesses testifying to that same claim.

The hearing is expected to wrap up within the week, after which Judge Greg Weeks will make a ruling.

His decision as to whether or not Robinson qualifies for a new sentence will help shape the way that the law is interpreted in the future, and will reveal how far-reaching the consequences of the RJA could be for death row inmates, state prosecutors and the people of North Carolina.

Either way, his decision is expected to face appeals, and to serve as a historic moment in the ongoing debate over how American courts deal with race, justice and death.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rachel Manning


Man, 40, charged with golf club murder of teenager Rachel Manning 11 years ago (after fiancé served six years in jail before being cleared)

  • Appeared before magistrates in Milton Keynes
  • Shop worker's half-naked body found dumped on exclusive golf course
  • Investigation into her death re-opened after her fiance was cleared of her murder after serving six years in jail
  • Barri White in public gallery for today's hearing

A middle-aged man appeared in court today charged with the murder of a teenager whose half-naked body was found dumped in the grounds of one of Britain's most exclusive golf courses 11 years ago.

Shahidul Ahmed, 40, from Bletchley, appeared at Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court and was remanded in custody. He will next appear at Luton Crown Court on December 14.

The investigation into the death of Rachel Manning, 19, was re-opened after her fiance Barri White was cleared of her murder after serving six years in jail.

He was in the public gallery for today's hearing.

Rachel had been strangled before her killer battered her face with a car crook lock. She was found in the grounds of Woburn Golf Club, in Milton Keynes, Bucks, on December 12, 2000.

Mr White, now aged 30, was jailed for life in 2002 for her murder, only to be freed after being acquitted of killing her at a retrial.

Rachel had been on her way home from her future mother-in-law's 40th birthday party in Milton Keynes when she disappeared.

She had left Chicago’s nightclub in Milton Keynes, dressed in a Seventies-style outfit of white, knee-length boots with platform heels, short black skirt, white blouse and blue wig.

The event, on December 9, 2000, was a late party to mark future mother-in-law Sharon Shaheed’s 40th birthday.

Rachel, Barri and other friends went on to another club, going their separate ways around 2.15am.

Her body was then found by a man walking his dog on the morning of December 12, in undergrowth at Woburn Golf Club, with the stoplock discovered 1,600ft away.
It was in 2002, at Aylesbury Crown Court, Bucks., that Mr White was convicted of her murder and jailed for life. Mr Hyatt was convicted of moving her body and disfiguring her and was subsequently jailed for five years.

A large campaign then began to have the men freed and the convictions quashed, with Dr Peter Bull, ‘the father of geo-science forensics in the 1990s’, who worked on an investigation for BBC’s Rough Justice programme, labelling the evidence 'totally implausible'.

That programme was aired in March 2005, three years before Mr White finally walked free.

Detective Superintendent Rob Mason, leading the investigation said yesterday: 'The man [Shahidul Ahmed] was arrested at his home address at 7am this morning.

'He was due to answer police bail on December 12 but was re-arrested after new forensic evidence came to light.

'Due to the fact this is a live investigation and we have someone in custody, I am unable to give any further details at this time.

'Rachel’s family have been informed.'

Holly Staker

DNA and a confession were the focus of opening statements Wednesday by attorneys in the trial of Juan Rivera, who is accused in the 1992 rape and murder of 11-year-old Holly Staker in Waukegan.

Rivera is on trial for the third time in the case. Since 1993, when he was first convicted, Rivera won a second trial, and was convicted again, then won a third trial when advances in DNA showed the semen found on the victim did not belong to him.

Lake County Assistant State's Atty. Michael Mermel told jurors the DNA was contaminated by sloppy lab work. Mermel instead focused on the statements Rivera, now 36, gave police, describing them as containing details "only the killer would know" about Staker's murder.

Defense attorney Thomas P. Sullivan said during his opening statement that the DNA excludes Rivera, and scientists will testify that it was not contaminated.

Sullivan also countered Mermel's claims about Rivera's confession, saying a team of investigators knew the details police say Rivera gave them. He also hinted to jurors that more evidence disputing the confession is on the way.

Sullivan said the jury will be able to look at both writing by Rivera, who has an IQ of 79, and the confession police say he gave, which has language Sullivan described as "college level." Sullivan said some may find the comparison "comical."

Witnesses called to testify Wednesday included officers who took photographs and video after discovering Staker's killing. She had been baby-sitting two children when attacked in a second-floor apartment and stabbed more than two dozen times. The DNA found on her body has been entered into state and federal databases, with no match found.

Rivera was convicted the first time largely on the basis of his disputed confession. That conviction was set aside in 1996 by the Illinois Appellate Court, which ruled Judge Christopher Starck made a series of errors as he presided over the case.


Police in Waukegan have reopened the investigation into the 1992 stabbing death of an 11-year-old girl. 

Police Chief Dan Greathouse says his department has to start again now that the man convicted of the crime has been set free. Juan Rivera was sentenced to life in prison in Holly Staker's death, but he was released after more than 19 years in prison last week because of an appellate court ruling.

Staker was found stabbed 27 times and raped in the Waukegan apartment where she was babysitting two young children.

Greathouse tells The News-Sun that authorities are reviewing the past investigation to determine how many detectives will be assigned to the Staker case and whether the Lake County Major Crime Task Force will be involved.

David Pettis


Friends, Family Mourn Murdered Victim

LAS VEGAS - Loved ones of 20-year-old David Pettis lit candles and stood side by side Friday night. They held hands, shed tears, shared their sorrow and mourned their painful loss.

Ron Pettis never thought he'd have to bury his son.

"David did not deserve to die the way he died and to be dumped out in the desert," he said. "David was a very good kid. Everybody loved David."

David Pettis' body was found Thursday morning near Nellis Boulevard and Carey Avenue. The body was wrapped in plastic and dumped by a construction equipment storage yard.

"I'm missing my son very much. He got caught up in some stuff, and he asked for help and couldn't seem to get the help that he needed," Ron Pettis said.

While Pettis had some struggles, friends say he was always as good as gold.

"Definitely the best person in the world, he had the biggest heart, willing to do anything," friend Mike Williams said.

"He was always smiling, and he always had the best interest at heart for everybody around him," friend Logan Huskie said.

Loved ones cherish the good times, Pettis' smile and his zest for life.

"There was never a bad time when we were around Pettis, and he loved everybody like they were blood," friend Jered Sterns said.

Ron Pettis hopes some good can come from his son's tragic passing.

"If there's anything for us to learn out of this, (it) is for these kids to go to church, know what their morals are, and use them," he said. "Our children are dying everyday, and nobody can get a handle on it."

Pettis' body was found at approximately 10:05 a.m. December 8 near 5400 Reflex Drive.


Cayce Vice

For the second time in just over a month, an Aiken police officer has been killed.

Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers, 48 and a 27-year veteran of the force, was shot while investigating a suspicious vehicle in an Aiken park about 7:30 a.m. Saturday, said Aiken Department of Public Safety Director Charles Barranco. She later died at an area hospital, he said.

State Law Enforcement Division spokeswoman Kathryn Richardson said Joshua Tremaine Jones, 26, was arrested in connection with the shooting about 11:30 a.m. Saturday in a Batesburg-Leesville home. Jones will be charged with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. SLED has taken over investigation of the shooting.

he Aiken Standard newspaper reports that Jones, of North Augusta, was linked Saturday afternoon to another killing. According to Georgia officials, he is a suspect in the killing of his pregnant 21-year-old girlfriend, Cayce Vice. She was found dead at her apartment about 10:30 a.m. Saturday by officers doing a welfare check because Vice had not shown up for her job. It wasn’t clear Saturday night how long she had been dead or how she was killed.

Jones has been convicted of gun violations in Aiken County and was sentenced to 108 days in prison, according to Aiken County public records. A full criminal record was unavailable Saturday.

Barranco said Rogers had an associate’s degree in business from Aiken Techinical College and was a field training officer. She had received the force’s distinguished service and life saving awards. At a press conference Saturday night, Barranco said he appreciated the public’s support as his department mourns the loss of another officer.

“I’d like to thank this community for standing next to us again,” he said.

This is the third shooting involving an Aiken Public Safety officer in just over a month. Officer Scotty Richardson was shot and killed in a traffic stop at an apartment complex Dec. 20. Scotty Richardson lived in Lexington County, had a wife and three children and was a 12-year veteran of the force.

Another officer was shot in that incident as well, but survived. Stephon Carter, 19, was charged with murder and attempted murder in the incident.

For Scotty Richardson’s friends, Saturday’s shooting was especially troubling. Redina Nettles and Angie Holdorff were selling magnetic car ribbons to raise money for the fallen officer’s wife, Amelyn, Saturday at an Aiken community center. Nettles said the shooting put a damper on the day.

“Everybody is in shock,” she said. “It’s the second officer in a month’s time, and I am just at a loss for words.”

Gerry Owens was at the fundraiser as well. He said the news stirs up emotions from just a month ago.
 “This opens up a fresh wound once again, and our thoughts and prayers are with the officer who was shot this morning,” he said. “It’s just senseless and unfortunate.”


Josselyn Bishop


Williams-Tillman sentenced to life with possibility of parole

 MANKATO — As a sheet was pulled back to reveal her daughter’s battered body, Cara Bishop could see how hard Josselyn had fought to stay alive.

Her feet were worn from running barefoot down a sidewalk, trying desperately to escape the murderous anger of an ex-boyfriend. Broken fingernails and scratched hands told the story of a 19-year-old woman who knew she was too young to die. Holes in Josselyn’s body revealed how her life was stolen anyway by a jealous man and his knife.

Damone Christopher Williams-Tillman had just admitted to murdering Bishop, pleading guilty Tuesday to one count of first-degree murder during an act of domestic violence. He used his orange jumpsuit to wipe his eyes as his attorney, Barry Voss, helped him describe what happened in broad daylight on North Victory Drive the afternoon of July 8.

After a nine-month relationship turned very bad, including incidents where Williams-Tillman slashed the tires on Bishop’s car and threw her cell phone into Hiniker Pond, she had agreed to meet him again, he said. He drove her around town for awhile before they both started yelling. That’s when he stopped the car and pulled out a knife.

She got out of the car and ran after he stabbed her once in the stomach, Williams-Tillman said. Sobs from a courtroom full of Bishop’s friends and family grew longer and louder as he struggled to admit that he chased her down, caught her and stabbed her repeatedly until she was lying lifeless on a grassy median.

“Christopher Tillman ripped happiness right out from under us — happiness he had witnessed first-hand as we graciously invited him into our home,” Cara Bishop said in a victim impact statement that was read in court before Williams-Tillman was sentenced.

“It’s not fair. My family has endured a nightmare.”

An emergency medical technician, who was called to the scene immediately after a passing truck driver found Bishop, told Cara Bishop that her daughter was still breathing when she was found. The EMT, also a mother, prayed with Josselyn as her life slipped away. She told Cara she would want another mother to be with her daughter, if she couldn’t be, during her last moments.

Matt DuRose, a Mankato detective who is usually stoical in public while dealing with police business, attempted to keep his emotions in check as he read what Matt Bishop said about his daughter’s untimely death. Matt Bishop sat behind DuRose and listened to his own description about the 1,000 people who turned out for his daughter’s funeral.

His daughter called him “Fabio” and often greeted him with an embrace. They invented a handshake that became more complicated each time they did it, eventually spanning 30 seconds of maneuvers no one else could imitate. When they parted, peace signs were exchanged.

DuRose’s voice cracked as he read how Matt Bishop “will always remember her smiling face with those two fingers turned my way.”

Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Pat McDermott said it was shortly after Christmas, after a discussion with Bishop’s family, that he first made a plea offer to Williams-Tillman. The deal allowed Williams-Tillman the chance of being released on parole after serving a minimum of 30 years in prison.

Williams-Tillman was arrested shortly after the murder. A grand jury later handed down an idictment including charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and assault. Three of the charges in the indictment could have resulted in sentences of life in prison without the chance of parole, McDermott said.

Before the plea, Voss asked Williams-Tillman if he understood that some of the evidence gathered by investigators could have been challenged before it was heard by a jury. Constitutional questions could be raised about the arrest, a search of his father’s house in Golden Valley and statements made to police, Voss said.

Williams-Tillman said he understood that none of that would be possible after he pleaded guilty.

Voss also verified that they had discussed the plea deal extensively during a meeting in jail Sunday, and that Williams-Tillman had time to discuss his options with his parents. Damone Tillman Sr. also was in the courtroom, losing his composure several times during the 90-minute hearing.

In another victim impact statement that was read Tuesday, Josselyn Bishop’s 8-year-old brother, Gage, did something young people are known to do. He confronted Williams-Tillman with brutal honesty.

A simple act could have kept one life from being lost and another from being ruined, he said.

“Chris, you didn’t have to do this,” the statement said. “You could have walked away.”

After issuing his sentence, District Court Judge Bradley Walker said that option was now gone because he couldn’t turn back the clock.

“I wish you could,” Damone Tillman Sr. whispered as he buried his head in his hands.

Then he sat up and watched as his shackled son was taken back to jail.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Justin Rye


Multiple Arrests Made in Murder of Former Prattville Football Player

AUTAUGA COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - The Autauga County Sheriff's office says it has made multiple arrests in the murder of Justin Rye. Rye, a former football player at Prattville High School, was shot to death at a bonfire over the weekend, apparently over an argument about the venue's music selection.

Officials have arrested 21-year-old Joshue Duane Jones and 19-year-old John Calvin Jones, both of Millbrook.

Joshua Jones is charged with Murder and is currently being held in the Autauga Metro Jail under a $300,000 bond.



AUTAUGA COUNTY, Alabama -- Justice was served for the Rye family this week as the man who shot their 21-year-old son in August 2008 was sentenced to 24 years behind bars, according to the Montgomery Advertiser today.  

Circuit Judge John Bush sentenced 24-year-old Joshua Jones of Millbrook with the jail time after the jury found him guilty of shooting former Prattville High football star Justin Rye, 21, at a party in 2008, according to the report.

"I believe 24 years in prison is an appropriate sentence and cannot help but to be reminded of the fact that Justin would have been 24 years of age if not for the extremely poor choices made by Joshua Jones," District Attorney Randall Houston said in a statement.

John Jones is charged with Felony Hindering Prosectution and Reckless Endangerment and is also being held at the Autauga Metro Jail. His bond is set at $11,000.

Authorities tell WSFA 12 News a third suspect was also arrested on Reckless Endangerment charges, though that person's name is not being released because of their minor status.

The Autauga County Sheriff's Office has dropped the murder charges against a 19-year-old Millbrook man and arrested the suspect's older brother and charged him with the shooting death of a Prattville man, said Sheriff Herbie Johnson. 


Kyleigh Crane



Death penalty out in double slaying

Prosecutor will seek life without parole in Cumberland killings

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry will seek a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for two Indianapolis men charged with murder in the deaths of a 7-year-old girl and her uncle.

Prosecutors allege Michael Bell and Jeremy Priel fatally shot Kyleigh Crane and Jeremy Crane, 21, during a Dec. 12 robbery at a Cumberland home.

Bell, 22, and Priel, 25, have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail in the Marion County Jail.

Curry had considered seeking the death penalty for Bell and Priel but opted not to after studying the case.

"This office followed our established deliberative and thoughtful process," Curry said Monday in a prepared statement, "in making our decision to request life without parole against Michael Bell and Jeremy Priel."

The process included discussions with homicide detectives and consultation with family members of the victims, according to the prosecutor's office. Aggravating factors in the case, Curry said in the release, were that the murders occurred during a robbery and that Kyleigh was younger than 12.

Josh Crane, father of Kyleigh and brother of Jeremy, said family members agree with the prosecutor's decision.

"I just wanted to make sure they weren't going to see freedom," he said.

Investigators said Bell and Priel entered the home where Jeremy Crane lived to steal PlayStation and Xbox game systems. Bell's arrest came as a shock to the Crane family because he had been a close friend of Jeremy Crane's and had once lived with him.

Jeremy's mother found his and Kyleigh's bodies when she returned to her home from work. Jeremy lived in the home and was baby-sitting a visiting Kyleigh, who had stayed home from school on the day of their deaths because of illness.

The next court appearance for Bell and Priel is scheduled for Wednesday, and their trial is set for Feb. 27.

Tracy Biletnikoff

Retrial in murder of former Raider’s daughter begins

Jurors in the retrial of the man previously convicted of twice strangling a former Oakland Raider’s daughter at a San Mateo rehabilitation program more than a decade ago were told yesterday to prepare for a “dark journey” in which they will learn how his temper and her nature to help others fatally collided after she ended the relationship.

Mohammad Haroon Ali, 36, killed Tracy Biletnikoff just shy of her 20th birthday after he told her of a drug and alcohol relapse because she wouldn’t give him her car keys and he worried about problems of his own creation — mainly testing dirty the next day, risking deportation and starting from scratch in the Project 90 rehab program, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, who is prosecuting the case.

Ali murdered Biletnikoff “viciously, no excuse, no explanation other than she got in the way,” Wagstaffe said during opening statements before a packed courtroom including family of both the defendant and victim.

But defense attorney Peter Goldscheider gave jurors another portrait of Ali in asking them to find his client guilty of manslaughter rather than premeditated murder. Ali was motivated by two things that weren’t known during his first trial, namely the rejection of another woman who had aborted his child and a bipolar disorder that went undiagnosed until he was imprisoned, Goldscheider said.

Ali’s killing of Biletnikoff came during a “particularly tense and provocative” exchange “between these two lovers that day” and the hands he put on her shoulder after she blocked his exit at the rehab center somehow made it up around her neck, Goldscheider said.

The crux of the case before the jury is not whether Ali strangled Biletnikoff first with his hands and then with a knotted T-shirt before dumping her partially nude body down a ravine at Cañada College in Redwood City. Instead, the attorneys are debating the details they say either prove Ali deliberately killed his girlfriend because she was leaving him or that the death was a crime of passion after which he failed to take responsibility. The defense argues Biletnikoff was dead before the second strangulation but Wagstaffe said his forensic expert will prove otherwise, therefore illustrating Ali’s intent to kill. The answers reached by jurors will determine the degree of homicide and therefore how much time, if any, Ali must still serve in prison.

Wagstaffe successfully prosecuted Ali in 2001 and he was sentenced to 60 years to life in prison for first-degree murder and a previous kidnapping. In 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, ruling that Wagstaffe had improperly removed at least one black individual from the jury pool for racial discrimination reasons. Wagstaffe, now the elected district attorney, maintains the ruling was incorrect.

If jurors convict Ali of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder this time, he faces 11 years

During his opening remarks, Wagstaffe projected photos of the rehab center, Friendship Hall, and the community college that were taken back in 1999. Much of the trial will also revisit the same evidence and witnesses although Goldscheider’s revelations of another woman and mental illness is completely new.

Both sides agree Ali and Biletnikoff met in 1997 while in their respective drug treatment programs and began a romantic relationship the following summer. Ali became a counselor at Project 90, the treatment program he entered while on probation for forcibly kidnapping a former girlfriend, and while “everything seemed fine” Biletnikoff had grown ambivalent about the relationship, Wagstaffe said.

The weekend prior to her Feb. 15, 1999 death, Biletnikoff spent time with a childhood friend while Ali went drinking in San Francisco with another friend and continued on a bender up and down the Peninsula involving alcohol, heroin and cocaine. On the Monday after that weekend, Ali confessed his relapse to Biletnikoff who drove him from her East Bay home back to Project 90’s meeting space at the Friendship Hall in San Mateo.

“That is the Florence Nightingale in her coming out,” Wagstaffe said.

What happened during the time described as roughly an hour they were alone inside an office is only known to Ali but Wagstaffe told jurors he was worried about what his relapse meant and was angry Biletnikoff refused to give him her car keys so he could evade his probation drug test the next day. Roughly 80 people attended a program meeting in the adjacent room but none reported hearing anything and a fellow participant who encountered Ali leaving the center after the killing said he did not seem unusual.

Ali gave his family and authorities six different stories after the death, ranging from accidentally killing her with an elbow blow to his blacking out while strangling her and denials she was still alive when he switched from manual strangulation to the ligature. Ali, who Goldscheider said plans to testify, now contends Biletnikoff grew angry over the other woman during that final confrontation.

“This is a man that lying is part of his nature,” Wagstaffe said.

What is known, Wagstaffe said, is that Ali moved Biletnikoff’s body using a Project 90 van — the same vehicle he used during his weekend relapse — and threw her body “like a piece of trash” off the side of Parking Lot Three at Cañada College. Her jeans had been removed which Goldscheider said was his attempt to stage the crime scene to look like a sexual assault in his post-murder panic.

Wagstaffe said Ali drove the van and body first to his family’s home and asked his nephew if he wanted to see it before asking for money. Ali has denied doing so, instead saying after leaving the body he returned the van and grabbed Biletnikoff’s car which he drove to Mexico.

Ali tried re-entering the United States shortly after and authorities, now alerted to the crime by Ali’s uncle, arrested him near the border.

Aside from Biletnikoff’s death, jurors will also hear from and about two of Ali’s former girlfriends to show how he reacts to breakups, Wagstaffe said.

The first was kidnapped by force twice and held for several days, leading to his felony probation and ultimate path to Project 90. The second was a 15-year-old girl who Ali, then 22, impregnated in Parking Lot Three of Cañada College in 1998 and later rekindled a relationship with after seeing her at Carlmont High School while making an anti-drug and alcohol presentation. Her parents had sent her back to Fiji but she returned to San Mateo County for her junior year of high school. The relationship continued up until Biletnikoff’s death, marked by a Valentine’s Day gift from Ali just days before, Wagstaffe said.

 Goldscheider told jurors the prosecution presented a “one-sided, distorted and inaccurate version of facts.” While his client foolishly did not call 911 after Biletnikoff’s death and tried to avoid suspicion by leaving her body, Goldscheider said those facts have no bearing on the case. He also said Ali returned to the United States after his brief flight to Mexico “because it was the right thing to do” and he was weighed down by his actions.

“Everywhere he went he saw Tracy’s face,” Goldscheider said.

Ali remains in custody without bail. The prosecution continues its case today.

Jennifer Parks

4 years and a day after her murder James Zarate was sentenced to life in prison for the murder and dismemberment of 16-year-old Jennifer Parks. Zarate helped his older brother JOnathan, who was also convicted and sentenced to life, in killing Jennifer, dismembering her body and tryoing to dispose of it by throwing her into the Pasaic River.

Before sentencing Zarate tried giving a sob story of how rough he had it growing up but luckily the jury didn’t buy it.

Zarate has to serve at least 76 years before he’s eligible for parole. That would make him 94.
Let’s hear from Jennifer’s family…
David Parks referred to Zarate only as ”it” or ”a jackal,” in his statement, while Laurie Parks called him ”pure evil.” David Parks said he wished the death penalty was available as punishment for the brothers.
”We can never forgive or forget what you did to our Jen,” Laurie Parks said.
”Jennifer’s life was worth so little to him but, for me, she was worth the world,” David Parks said.
And the prosecutor…
“For the rest of his life he’s going to live in a 12′ x 12′ prison cell for the vicious cold-blooded murder of a sweet trusting girl who couldn’t have imagined the evil intentions James and Jonathan Zarate planned to unleash the night she was lured over to their house,” Morris County Prosecutor Robert A Bianchi said following the sentencing hearing.
I wish I could say this was the end. However if history has taught me anything there will be appeals. Not successful ones mind you but there will be appeals.

Hopefully the Park family can rest a little bit now knowing that both of her daughter’s killers are in prison forever.

Jennifer Parks

Police: Teen hid remains before trying to dump them

As police, family members and neighbors frantically searched for 16-year-old Jennifer Parks on Saturday, the Randolph teen's dismembered body lay stuffed in a 3-by-2 foot steamer trunk in an SUV parked in the driveway of the house next door, police said yesterday.

Police and local residents questioned Parks' neighbor, Jonathan Zarate, as to whether he had seen the girl. The 18-year-old told them he had not, investigators said.

Later Saturday, with Parks' body still inside the trunk in the SUV, Zarate headed to a birthday party, authorities said.

Zarate was arrested early Sunday along with his 14-year-old brother, who lives with his mother in Garfield, and a 16-year-old Clifton boy as they attempted to dump the trunk off a bridge in Rutherford and into the Passaic River, Morris County Prosecutor Michael M. Rubbinaccio said yesterday.

"Mr. Zarate provided the police with no information as to the where- abouts of the victim when questioned . . . and even went to a birthday party even though he had already killed the victim and had the trunk secreted in the back of the Jeep Cherokee," Rubbinaccio said. "It was after returning from the party that he then attempted to dispose of the body."

According to the arrest affidavit, Zarate told police he punched, beat and stabbed Parks before suffocating her in the family room of the Zarates' split-level home on Old Brookside Road. Zarate's father, stepmother and several of her children were upstairs at the time of the killing, authorities said.

After killing Parks, Zarate dismembered the body, stuffed it into the trunk, then carried it out to his father's Jeep Cherokee, authorities said.

The trunk remained in the SUV for nearly 24 hours as residents and police searched for the girl, Rubbinaccio said.

During questioning Sunday, Zarate told police he killed Parks during an argument, according to court documents.

Zarate has been charged with murder, employing juveniles to commit a crime, hindering apprehension and several weapons charges. He is being held in the Morris County Jail in lieu of $1 million cash bail.
The juveniles were charged in Bergen County with unlawful disposal of human remains and in Morris County with conspiracy to hinder the apprehension of another. They are being held in the Morris County Juvenile Detention Center.

Rubbinaccio said he has not yet decided whether to present the crime to a grand jury as a death penalty case or if his office will seek to have the juveniles tried as adults. He also said his staff is continuing to investigate whether Zarate planned the killing.

The Parks family did not attend yesterday's court hearing.

"I am just so upset I can't even talk about it," Jennifer's grandmother, Mildred Brown of Dover, said later in the day. "She was a dear girl and I love her dearly."

Zarate's parents, who are divorced, attended their son's hearing yesterday. They refused to comment afterward.

Investigators searched the Zarates' property yesterday for evidence, including the knife that the 18-year-old told police he used to dismember the girl. Police said late last night they had not found it.

Investigators searching for a motive are looking into an incident that occurred within the past two years involving Zarate's 14-year-old brother, who was accused of breaking the window of the Parks' car, Rubbinaccio said.

Neighbors also said the Zarate boys teased Parks, who grew up at 13 Old Brookside Road. Zarate's father, John, bought the house next door in September 1997, records show.

"They used to make fun of her: `Oh, you're fat, you're ugly,'" neighbor Edna Jack said.

In the spring of 2004, Randolph school officials rearranged class schedules for Parks and the younger Zarate so they would not be in the same classes, neighbor Russell Sieb said.

Parks was last seen alive by her father, David, about 2 a.m. Saturday. By 11:45 that morning, her parents reported her missing. Neighbors and police went door-to-door trying to get information.

Sieb said his wife went to the Zarates and asked Jonathan Zarate and his father if they had seen Parks.
"No, I haven't seen her in a couple days," the 18-year-old answered, police said.

Parks spent much of Friday night in her room. At some point, Rubbinaccio said, Zarate contacted her, possibly via a computer message and "asked her to come to his residence to watch television."

Almost immediately after she arrived at the Zarate home, an argument ensued, though authorities don't know what prompted it. Zarate told police that during the argument, he punched Parks in the face, beat her with a metal pole and stabbed her repeatedly with a knife, according to the arrest affidavit. Then he wrapped a bandanna around his fist and forced it down her throat, the arrest affidavit said.

"He stuffed the bandanna down her throat to keep her quiet," Rubbinaccio said.

Zarate emptied a trunk containing camping equipment and cut Parks' legs below the knee to fit her 5-foot-5 body inside, Rubbinaccio said. He got rid of the knife, he told police.

Zarate's brother told investigators he woke up about 3 a.m. Saturday to the smell of bleach and the sound of his brother tapping out instant messages from his computer, authorities said.

When detectives searched the home later, they found bleach stains and blood on the downstairs carpet, authorities said. Rubbinaccio said the carpet would be tested for DNA.

Police believe Zarate's brother helped get the trunk into the SUV, but defense attorney Anthony Fusco said the 14-year-old boy lives with his mother in Garfield and wasn't at the Randolph home.

But, Rubbinaccio said: "We believe he was there. Neighbors confirmed that."

Later Saturday, Zarate's stepmother had members of her church over to the house, and that night his father drove his sons to a birthday party for a 15-year-old family friend at a hotel in Florham Park, said Joseph Devine, chief of investigations for the Morris County Prosecutor's Office. The father did not drive the Jeep Cherokee, Devine said.

At 1 a.m. Sunday, Parks' father spotted Zarate driving the Cherokee down Old Brookside Road without headlights on, authorities said.

Authorities said Zarate and his brother drove about 30 miles to Garfield, where they picked up the 16-year-old. They then drove to the Union Avenue Bridge in Rutherford.

The teenagers were lifting the trunk out of the SUV at 3 a.m. when two Secaucus police officers returning from a call spotted them and drew their guns, Rutherford Police Chief Steven Nienstedt said.

The teens dropped the trunk and it cracked open, revealing the body, Nienstedt said. Bergen County homicide detectives were called and discovered Parks' remains, he said.

"It was by chance that these officers crossed paths with them on that bridge, and if these cops didn't do their job, the family might never have known what happened to her," Devine said.

Neighbors described Parks as wholesome and honest and shy.

For the Siebs, she was a trustworthy baby-sitter.

"This is a very horrendous and heinous thing that was done," Sieb said. "I honestly hope that there is no plea bargain here and he spends his life in jail."


Marlaina Reed

CHICAGO (STMW) – When Chicago Police detectives inspected the body of a 17-year-old woman found dead in a cardboard box in 2007, they noticed something strange.

Scrawled with a marker on the strangled woman’s left leg was a name.


On Friday, detectives obtained an arrest warrant and took William McIntosh, 46, into custody.

His mother’s name?


Even with that connection, Detectives Michael Landando and Jim Balodimas told the Sun-Times the key evidence in the case was a piece of denim cloth that bound the legs of the victim, Marlaina “Niki” Reed, a ward of the state and a runaway.

Earlier this year, detectives submitted the cloth to the Illinois State Police for testing. The test indicated McIntosh’s DNA was on the cloth, Landando said.

Police went to McIntosh’s apartment in the 5800 block of West Fullerton about 7 p.m. Friday. The television was on, but the man wasn’t home. Police found him nearby walking along the sidewalk. He was arrested without incident.

“I’m not a murderer,” he told detectives outside his home. “I would never kill anybody. I never hurt anybody.”

Prosecutors approved a murder charge against McIntosh about 9 p.m.Friday, after he asked for a lawyer and detectives were required to stop questioning him.

On Saturday, Cook County Criminal Court Judge Panarese ordered McIntosh held without bond, according to a court clerk. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Monday, according to the clerk.

“It’s been a long journey,” Landando said. “She really didn’t have anyone looking out for her. Her life was tragic, and she died tragically. The detectives were the only ones really concerned about finding out who killed her. I consider myself jaded in a lot of ways, but this one really bothered me.”

Police said Reed met McIntosh in October 2006. He opened a DirecTV account with her Social Security number in December 2006.

Her body was discovered on Jan. 21, 2007, in an alley in the 1600 block of North Francisco in Humboldt Park on the Northwest Side. The body was wrapped in a shower curtain and stuffed into a Casio keyboard box.

Eight days after Reed’s body was found, McIntosh, a musician, pawned a Casio electronic keyboard, Landando said.

At the time, the case was a real-life “CSI” whodunit. When Reed’s body was found, police could not identify her.

To reconstruct her decomposed face, police hired a forensic artist, Karen Taylor. Detectives placed a sketch of the reconstruction in Illinois Dental News, and a dentist said the woman was one of his patients — Reed.

The detectives learned Reed was a Danville native. She was a ward of the state and had run away from a group home in Chicago.

Police questioned McIntosh in 2009 after he was arrested for stabbing a female pit bull in a bathtub in his Northwest Side home. At the time, he denied involvement in Reed’s murder, police said.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ryan Carter

10-year-old boy charged with murder

SAN DIEGO - Prosecutors filed murder charges Wednesday against a 10-year-old boy accused of fatally stabbing his 12-year-old friend in an East County neighborhood.

A detention hearing for the boy is planned for Thursday morning in Juvenile Court.

Ryan Carter, 12, was stabbed in the chest about 1:15 p.m. Monday in the driveway of the younger boy's home in the 12500 block of Royal Road in the unincorporated Winter Gardens area, near El Cajon, according to sheriff's officials.

Paramedics took Carter to Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, where he died about 2:30 p.m., Lt. Larry Nesbit said. The alleged killer's name was withheld due to being a juvenile.

CNN Article & Video


Monday, January 9, 2012

Andrew Holland

A 16-year-old boy who died after being stabbed in Greater Manchester has been named as Andrew Holland.
The teenager, one of two boys stabbed outside Ashy's takeaway restaurant in Plodder Lane, Farnworth, at about 2250 BST on Friday, was stabbed in the neck. 

The other boy, who is also 16 but has not been named, is in a serious condition in Rochdale Infirmary. 

A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and assault and remains in custody for questioning. 

Andrew, of Trentham Gardens, Farnworth, was found collapsed and bleeding outside the takeaway. 

Both boys were taken to Royal Bolton Hospital where Andrew later died. 

A post-mortem examination revealed he suffered a single stab wound to the neck which also punctured his chest. 

'Verbal altercation'
It is thought that one of the boys involved in the row was a customer at the takeaway. 

However, police do not believe that anyone involved in the attack was an employee. 

Officers have launched a murder investigation and are carrying out house-to-house inquiries in the area. 

Speaking on behalf of the family, Andrew's uncle Mark said: "We are completely and utterly devastated. What has happened has come as a complete shock." 

Andrew was a fan of Bolton Wanderers and wanted to join the Army, he said. 

"We can't believe how supportive people have been, kids leaving messages on the internet and flowers at the scene. 

"It's really touching to know he had so many friends," he added. 

Detective Superintendent Ian Foster said: "We believe there was a group, somewhere between three and five local youths, aged between 16 and 17, and an individual who was visiting the takeaway. 

"There was some sort of verbal altercation which escalated into some physical assault. 

"We are still trying to find out exactly what's gone on. We've got a number of potential witnesses we're interviewing." 

Police have appealed for anyone with information about the attack to contact them. 


A MAN will appear in court today charged with the murder of teenager Andrew Holland.

Andrew was one of two 16-year-old boys allegedly stabbed outside a takeaway in Farnworth, Greater Manchester, on Friday night.

The other boy, who has not been named, remains in a serious condition in hospital.

Mahmud Makxoudin, 21, of Madams Wood Road, Little Hulton Coordinates:
Speaking on behalf of his family, his uncle Mark said: "We are completely and utterly devastated devastate

A friend of a teenager who was murdered outside a takeaway told yesterday how he tried to help the 16-year-old moments after he was stabbed in the neck.

Andrew Holland, who had hoped to pursue a career in the army, died after he became involved in a fight in Farnworth, Greater Manchester, along with a friend, named locally as Curtis McAtee, who suffered serious knife injuries.

Wesley Greenhalgh, 15, who was at school with Andrew, said he saw the boys seconds after the attack late on Friday night. "I ran up to him and he was on the floor. He was gasping for breath, but he couldn't breathe," he said.

"I kept saying to him: 'Are you alright Andy?' but he didn't answer. He was really pale and white."

Detective Superintendent Ian Foster said: "We believe there was a group, somewhere between three and five local youths, aged between 16 and 17, and an individual who was visiting the takeaway. There was some sort of verbal altercation which escalated into some physical assault."

Mahmud Makxoudin, 21, of Madams Wood Road, Little Hulton, Manchester, was last night charged with murder and assault. He will appear at Bolton magistrates court this morning, police said.

Andrew lived with his mother Joan, 44, and brother Aaron at a terrace home in Farnworth. His uncle, Mark, said in a statement: "We're completely devastated ... Andy was a bit of a cheeky monkey, but he was a good kid at heart."

Iranian Mahmud Maksoudian, 21, appeared before Bolton magistrates yesterday accused of stabbing to death Andrew Holland, 16, after a row outside a takeaway in Farnworth, Greater Manchester, on Friday night.


Ann Harrison

Article From April 28, 2003

Missouri has almost 30,000 inmates in its prison system.

Of those, 64 are sentenced to die. All of those death-row inmates are locked up in Potosi, Mo., south of St Louis.

Two Kansas City men are among those on death row, charged with the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl, KMBC's Peggy Breit reported.Ann Harrison was killed 14 years ago.

Her killers, Michael Taylor and Roderick Nunley, gave videotaped confessions, in 1989, shortly after Harrison died.

Harrison was waiting for her school bus in front of her home, when suddenly she was gone, her book bags left where she'd been standing.

Michael Taylor said his recollection of Ann's face at the moment he and Nunley pulled up beside her in a stolen car was fuzzy until he saw the girl's picture again."To put myself back in that moment and in those shoes, I can't remember that," Taylor said.

Ann's body was found several days later in the trunk of a stolen car, where Nunley and Taylor had left her after stabbing the girl to death.Taylor confessed to the crime in June of that year.

Nunley confessed a month later, after watching Taylor's tape.The two told very different stories, but each pleaded guilty.

A judge sentenced them to death.

Today, their stories are virtually unchanged. Both remember the events with the other man committing the rape and fatally stabbing the girl.

Forensic evidence points to Taylor doing both, Breit reported."I know God knows and Mike Taylor knows what happened that day. That's something we're both going to be judged on when judgment day comes," Nunley said.

Taylor and Nunley are still friendly with each other, Breit reported.

The two men only discuss their legal cases, not Ann's murder.

Nunley, now 38, is protective of his thoughts and feelings, Breit said.

KMBC's crew spent more than an hour with him, but at Nunley's request, only videotaped for a few minutes.

The day of the murder, both Nunley and Taylor were binging on crack cocaine."Everything was more or less haywire," Taylor said. Taylor, 36, is more open than Nunley.

But Taylor said he remembers only bits and pieces of that hour of his life.

But he is sure of one thing: "It was a hideous crime. It was a bad crime." And yet both men believe they should be allowed to live.

They point to cases of serial killers like Bob Berdella, who got life in prison rather than death.

The statistics show that black-on-white murders more often result in capital punishment, Breit reported. Both Taylor and Nunley are black. Ann was white.

Nunley and Taylor's former Potosi inmate, Darrel Mease, who killed three people, was granted clemency four years ago when Pope John Paul II visited Missouri and asked then-Gov. Mel Carnahan to show mercy.

Mease's death sentence was commuted to life.

"We can't hold that against him (Mease). He didn't do that, you know? The governor did. Was that right? That was a smack in the face to the rest of the inmates, as far as us on death row. What about us?"

Taylor and Nunley's futures are still in the appeals process. Taylor is further along and would get an execution date first if his latest appeal fails, as the others have.

It's something expected at Potosi, Breit said. Life and death commingle."This is factual, this most definitely is factual. This is not an hallucination. This isn't a bad dream -- although I wish it was -- this is factual. People are executed here, and they're gone," Taylor said.

The two men have spent 12 years on death row, racked with guilt because they say each could have prevented Ann's murder.

Both say they've asked God to forgive them, yet they understand that Ann's family and some in their own families may not.

"I know that my maker knows that I am truly sorry about what happened, and if there was any way in the world I could take this back, I would take it back," Nunley said.

"She probably would have been a beautiful person. And this case ended that, and I am ashamed," Taylor said.

Both inmates said they know their words of apology cannot make up for the damage they've caused. But they hope someone can learn something from them and stop before a situation like theirs repeats itself.

KMBC spoke with Ann's family both before and after the interviews with Nunley and Taylor. Ann's parents said they had nothing to add; they're just watching the cases as they move through the appeals process.