Posts Tagged With: Tuesday
The North Carolina House gave its initial OK on Tuesday to scaling back a 2009 law that sought to check racial bias involved in the death penalty — a move that appears to have enough support to override any veto by Gov. Beverly Perdue.
The House gave tentative approval to changes that limit how statistics in capital cases can be used in trying to prove discrimination in sentencing. The 2009 Racial Justice Act directed judges to reduce death sentences to life in prison without parole when they determine race was a significant factor in the sentence or in jury selection.
GOP lawmakers and most district attorneys opposed the law they said has delayed the carrying out of capital punishment in North Carolina. Nearly all the 150-plus inmates on North Carolina’s death row filed for reviews under the law.
A judge has ruled in one case — ordering a death-row prisoner in April to receive a life sentence after ruling the case was so tainted by racially influenced decisions by prosecutors.
Republicans passed a bill last year that essentially voided the law, but Perdue vetoed it in December and GOP lawmakers couldn’t get enough Democrats to join in the override. On Tuesday, five Democrats joined all Republicans present in approving the bill 72-47. Seventy-two votes are needed in the full House to cancel a veto.
A final House vote is likely Wednesday, after which the bill will go to the Senate, where GOP lawmakers already have a veto-proof majority.
The proposal caps the time range in which statistics can be used to effectively 12 years around the murder case and limits the scope of those statistics to the county and prosecutorial district where the homicide occurred. There is currently no cap on the time, and statistics covering the entire state can be used. The bill makes clear that statistics alone cannot prove race was a significant factor.
The bill helps “do what justice is supposed to do, which is to focus on the defendant and the crime instead of society in general,” said Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, the House’s chief supporter of the Racial Justice Act changes. “It gets to the focus on where it does belong — on the person who is alleged to be a first-degree murderer.”
Several House Democrats said the measure would move the state one step back with racial progress by ignoring the clear role racial bias has had in prosecuting capital cases.
A study by two Michigan State University law professors on North Carolina death penalty cases over 20 years found prosecutors eliminated black jurors more than twice as often as white jurors. The study also found a defendant is nearly three times more likely to be sentenced to death if at least one of the victims is white.
Bill supporters “want to ignore the facts,” said Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, who voted against the changes. “Don’t turn away the mirrors that show the errors of our past.”
Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, one of the five Democrats who voted for the bill Tuesday, said he supports capital punishment. He said after the vote he and other Democrats didn’t realize agreeing to the 2009 law would essentially halt carrying out the death penalty.
Tuesday’s bill was a reasonable compromise, according to Owens: “In a death penalty case, you need to consider all the factors.”
Kentucky is the only state with a similar law as the Racial Justice Act.
Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, described the details of a Forsyth County murder and read the names of the murder victims of Henry Louis Wallace, who was convicted of raping and killing nine black Charlotte women in the early 1990s. Wallace and the death-row prisoner convicted in Forsyth County are both seeking relief under the Racial Justice Act.
However well-intended the Racial Justice Act was, Dollar told colleagues, the law’s “effect has been obscene. The victims cry out, ‘change this injustice.’”
Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth, a key supporter of the 2009 law, is still recovering from a December car accident. He came to the House floor Tuesday and pleaded with fellow lawmakers at the close of nearly two hours of debate not to vote for the bill. Womble said he was appalled by the crimes that Dollar spoke about, but said lawmakers need to do the right thing.
“We must set an example not to sink to the same level of some of these people who seek revenge based upon color alone,” Womble said. The Racial Justice Act, he said, shows that “in north Carolina you can get a fair deal.”
A Taylor couple has been haunted, stalked and teased by someone in their neighborhood near Telegraph and Ecorse roads. Police are calling it ethnic intimidation as an investigation is ongoing.
The couple is engaged to be married soon. However, someone does not want to let that happen because the groom is black and the bride is white.
Suspects went to the couple’s home and wrote on the door, “N-word lover” and “I’m gonna hang that n-word.”
Moreover, a noose was left at the home and “deadman” was written on the front window along with “we gonna kill you.”
Police said the couple also received death threats on Tuesday night. The man said someone called his phone and said, “You’re a dead n-word.”
Local 4 spoke with the woman’s mother, who did not want to be identified in this story due to safety concerns.
“He was so upset,” she said. “I didn’t think people did that this day in age.”
The couple gave police information about who they think would do such a thing. However, no arrests have been made.
Meanwhile, the couple feels this is a true example of down-right racism. Yet, they’re not letting that stop them from getting married.
“It doesn’t matter what color you are as long as you are happy.”
Police say no fingerprints were left. Investigators are counting on the public’s help in solving the case.
Brian Lance Mitchell, 30, who according to Metro police used to volunteer at Cornerstone Church, was held in jail Tuesday in lieu of a $50,000 bond.
According to the police investigation, Mitchell he sent the victim inappropriate text messages shortly after the alleged crime, prompting the boy’s mother to show those messages to church staff who then removed Mitchell from the youth program.
When the victim, now 14, saw Mitchell from a distance during a recent visit to the church, he recalled events of five years ago, according to police, and that led to a forensic interview in March at the Nashville Children’s Alliance.
Based on information from that interview, Metro police Sex Crimes detectives opened a criminal investigation on Mitchell, who allegedly made certain sexual admissions concerning the boy when he was interviewed a few days ago.
Detectives were unaware of any other complaints of criminal activity during Mitchell’s association with the church youth program but asked that anyone with any knowledge of such activities to call the Sex Crimes Unit at 862-7540.
Prior to his arrest, Mitchell was residing at the Union Rescue Mission and was working in the kitchen of a local hospital. The police investigation continues, and additional charges against Mitchell are possible.
John David Norman (photo courtesy of Doraville Police)
A DeKalb County grand jury indicted the son of former Doraville Mayor Jesse Norman on Tuesday for allegedly having sex with dogs and possessing child pornography.
The 11-count indictment accused John David Norman of owning nine computer photo files — with file names like “star trek” and “tonight” — depicting children in sexually explicit poses.
He was charged with nine counts of sexual exploitation of children, bestiality and aggravated cruelty to animals.
Norman, 57, was arrested last June after police officers found video of him having sex with two German shepherds and the pornographic photos on the computer at his Doraville home.
Doravile police reportedly had been called to the home because of reports he was acting in a suspicious manner.
He was arrested a month earlier on charges of cruelty to animals and released on $5,000 bond.
A judge at a previous court appearance issued a protective order prohibiting Norman from coming into contact with minors, animals or livestock.
He remains in the DeKalb County jail on $115,000 bond.
Racist slurs uttered by Malmö police officers while responding to disturbances in the city’s Rosengård district can be attributed to “stress“, according to an officer who was present at the December 2008 incident.
“It was an expression of extreme stress,” police officer Paul Juhlin said on Svergies Television (SVT), which on Tuesday will start airing a reality television series about the Mälmo police force.
Juhlin was one of the officers present during the Malmö police’s response to December 2008 disturbances in the city’s Rosengård district, which is home to a high concentration of immigrants.
During the police action, riot police called young people “blattajävlar”, an ethnic slur which translates roughly into “damn coloured people” or “damn immigrants”.
The comments were caught on the police’s own video recordings of the response and later played during the trial of a young man charged with being one of the primary instigators of the unrest.
In the film sequence, officers make a number of racist and threatening comments
“You little monkey son of a bitch. Should I make him sterile when I catch him?” said one police officer on the tape.
“Yeah, he’s going to get beaten so badly that he won’t be able to stand on his own two legs,” answered a colleague.
While a preliminary criminal probe into the comments was dropped, two police officers were docked five days’ wages and reassigned by the police’s disciplinary committee.
Juhlin’s statements on the incident mark the first time a police officer has commented on the incident, which received a great deal of media attention at the time.
“There maybe hasn’t been the space to say something previously; no one sticks their head up to have it cut off,” he said, according to the Sydsvenskan newspaper.
“I don’t want to defend the incident, but rather put it in a context that hasn’t previously come to light.”
According to Juhlin, the comments comparing the young people from Rosengård to monkeys wasn’t an expression of racism, but simply said in the heat of the moment as people began climbing on the police bus in which the officers were riding.
“Nasty things were said, to be sure. But it wasn’t about demeaning people; it wasn’t about racism, not about values; it was extremely stressful,” he told SVT.
Speaking with Sydsvenskan, Malmö police chief Ulf Sempert agreed with Juhlin’s assessment that the incident was stressful, but emphasized that didn’t excuse the officer’s comments.
“It’s not acceptable,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter that the police claimed that they were under a lot of stress.”
The incident, which came to light in February 2009, was followed by other revelations that police training materials used fictional characters named “Neger Niggersson” and “Oskar Neger” (Negro).
Lovejoy mother moves family to West Side after early-morning attack with brick, raising new concerned about safety of her children. Mayor Byron W. Brown assured Ann Cooper that additional police patrols will be placed in the area for the time being.
An African-American family began moving out of its Lovejoy home sooner than expected after yet another brick crashed into a bedroom window at about 4:30 a.m. Friday.
Ann Cooper said she had planned to begin moving out today but felt it was necessary to immediately relocate her children to a relative’s West Side home rather than risk having one of them struck by a brick or rock.
Since the family moved to Benzinger Street Jan. 11, racial taunts against Cooper and her loved ones have become routine. Violence erupted earlier this week when members of her family were pelted with rocks and chunks of brick by a large group of white teens and men.
Three teenagers were arrested late Tuesday night on hate crime charges for allegedly shattering two windows in the house and shouting racial slurs.
But Friday’s early-morning attack has left the family angry and terrified.
“My niece came running into my bedroom at 4:30 a.m. and said they busted her window again. She was scared out of her mind,” Cooper said.
Others in Lovejoy expressed frustration Friday that the attacks have been labeled as racially motivated, saying that Cooper’s younger relatives initiated the trouble by attempting to take over the corner of East Lovejoy Street and Benzinger, displacing other teens who have congregated there for years.
The home being vacated by Cooper is beside the Lovejoy Discovery School’s parking lot at the intersection.
Richard Fontana, who serves as the Common Council president and Lovejoy representative, says there is no room for racism in his district, but that the Cooper family has not helped itself by retaliating.
“The family was originally harassed, but when they called in other family members for protection, they turned the situation upside down, and they became the aggressors by sending two Lovejoy youths to the hospital and robbing fast food delivery people,” Fontana said. “After that, I got involved and told both sides to stop the aggression. It was calm until 4:30 this morning.”
Cooper took issue with Fontana’s assessment.
She said that white youths and adults threw rocks and bricks at one of her sons and a nephew, prompting family members to fight back, adding that it occurred after months of racial slurs. “It wears on you,” she said.
As for the allegations of fast food thefts, Cooper said no one at her home ordered the pizza or Chinese food and that no one on her porch attempted to take it.
But the delivery workers filed police reports late Tuesday night, with one claiming an order of pizza and chicken wings was snatched from him and the other reporting that he managed to flee with the Chinese food before it could be taken.
“Nobody got robbed here. The police recovered the pizza and the other delivery guy left with the Chinese food,” Cooper said. “We were being harassed. Someone ordered that food and had it delivered to us. The deliveries came back to back.
“What they’re trying to do is say that all black people do is rob and steal, and it is not true,” Cooper said.
She added that “a police officer told me on Tuesday that they had placed a corrections officer in the back of a patrol car who was with the people throwing rocks. The cops said they were going to arrest him.”
Police on Friday said the investigation was continuing and no additional arrests had been made.
Police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge on Friday said, “Mayor [Byron W.] Brown is concerned about the situation, and he’s talked with both the Council president and Mrs. Cooper. He spoke with her for about a half hour this afternoon, and he has assured her that additional police patrols will be placed in the area for the time being.”
The youths who were injured and went to the hospital for treatment, Cooper said, should have known better.
“The kids who did these things did get whupped,” she said. “Their moms and fathers should have told them you don’t make racial slurs. You can end up making them to the wrong person.”
And of the latest vandalism, Bernardo Jimenez, Cooper’s 21-year-old son, said he was awake in the living room watching a movie when he heard glass shattering followed by screeching tires.
“I looked out the front window and could see the back of a car racing down the street,” Jimenez said.
Ebony Cooper, the 18-year-old niece who ended up sleeping on the living room floor, said seconds before the attack she could hear voices out in the parking lot coming in through the window, which had been partially broken on Tuesday.
“Someone asked a question and someone else said ‘I don’t know. Just do it,’” she said.
On Friday family members made a temporary move to the West Side home of Ann Cooper’s brother, where they will stay until the family can raise enough money for a security deposit on a new residence.
Gary Chappell, the brother, said it was hard to believe that this was happening at a time when the country is supposed to be more enlightened.
Jason A. Mueller of Lake Effect Rentals, a property management company that placed the Coopers on Benzinger, vowed to relocate the family to another apartment before the end of the weekend.
“I have a lot of properties in Lovejoy that we manage, and it is a great area with a lot of great people, and the Coopers are very good tenants,” Mueller said, adding that it is unfortunate some individuals turned to racist behavior. “We’re going to get the Coopers out of there as soon as possible,” he said.
Fontana said he is working to maintain racial harmony.
“I’m telling all the residents and every kid I can pull into my arms to stop the attacks, unless you’re attacked first. You do have the right to defend yourself, but don’t be the aggressor against anyone in the neighborhood,” he said.
Donna Riley, a longtime Lovejoy resident, said it has been painful to watch changes in that section of the city.
“In the last couple years, I’ve seen things I’ve never seen before in Lovejoy. Drugs being dealt right in the street in daylight. New people moving in trying to steal people’s cable TV lines. Twice now I’ve been awoken by neighbors fighting in the middle of the street in the middle of the night, and I have to work in the morning,” she said.
Riley, who is white, added that she is proud to have many friends and relatives in the black community.
“I don’t care what nationality you are, but I want my rights to be respected as much as you want your rights to be respected,” she said. “I, too, am very proud of where this country is today and very sad that a whole community, Lovejoy, is being described as racist instead of certain individuals.”
A 23-year-old Lafayette man accused of assaulting a Nigerian University of Colorado student during a racially charged fight on University Hill in September testified Tuesday that he feels terrible that the student got hurt.
Joseph Coy denied using any racial slurs and instead said Zachrey Harris, a man he met through a mutual friend for the first time that night, was the only one throwing racial epithets before the assault in Boulder on Sept. 18.
Joseph Coy, right, describes how he was put into a “choke hold” by Ahmad Abdulkareem, as portrayed by Coy’s attorney, Larry Mertes, during Coy’s trial Tuesday.
“I wasn’t saying those things,” Coy testified in his trial. “I feel terrible that he had to put up with that, and that I stuck up for someone who was saying that.”
Coy faces charges of second-degree assault and bias-motivated crime, both felonies, in connection with the attack that left Nigerian CU student Oluyibi Ogundipe with facial fractures. If convicted, Coy could be sentenced to up to nine years in prison, and it would mark the first conviction of a felony hate crime in Boulder County.
Harris, 23, was tried two weeks ago on a misdemeanor charge of bias-motivated harassment because witnesses said he was the main person using racial slurs during the encounter. A jury found Harris guilty, and he’s scheduled to be sentenced June 3. Harris faces up to 18 months in jail.
According to police, Coy and Harris used racial slurs against Ogundipe and his friend from Saudi Arabia, Ahmad Abdulkareem, about 2:30 a.m. Sept. 18 near the Hookah House, 1325 Broadway. The foreign-born men left that initial confrontation, according to police, but Coy is accused of chasing them down and punching Ogundipe in the face.
Coy testified Tuesday afternoon that he didn’t chase down the men to assault Ogundipe but instead to get back at Abdulkareem, who had put him in a headlock moments earlier.
“I’m after Ahmad — he’s the one who took me down, and he’s the one who put his hands on me,” Coy testified. “I was so humiliated, I had to get him back.”
Coy said he caught up with Abdulkareem and Ogundipe and sort of “chest bumped” Abdulkareem to stop his sprint. That’s when Abdulkareem put him in a second headlock, according to Coy’s testimony. Coy said he tried to drop out of it but couldn’t, and then inadvertently hit Ogundipe as he was swinging to get free.
Coy said he never intended to harm Ogundipe.
He said the encounter started after his group heard “(expletive) you” from Abdulkareem’s direction. He said Harris and the foreign-born men were exchanging race-fueled insults, but he tried to diffuse the situation.
“I said, ‘Hey, we’re trying to have a good night in Boulder. Why are we doing this? Zach, let’s get out of here,’” Coy testified. “I was trying to make sure Zach wasn’t going to get beat up. As I turned around, I got thrown in a choke hold.”
Coy testified that his mother died three years ago and the woman who now acts as his mother figure is black. He also said his first girlfriend was black, and he doesn’t use racist insults out of “respect.”
“I don’t hear those words in my home, and I don’t use them,” he said.
But Christopher Choate, a former bouncer at the Goose bar on University Hill, told jurors that he heard the suspects use the “N-word” about 15 times and saw Coy “posturing” and moving back and forth as the heated exchange of words escalated.
Eventually, he said, Coy appeared to have “reached his breaking point and sprinted all the way down Pleasant Street” to catch up with the men. Choate testified that he saw Coy hit Abdulkareem first; and Jared Kaszuba, who also witnessed the attack, said he saw Coy hit Ogundipe and knock him to the ground.
Kaszuba told jurors that both Harris and Coy were using racial slurs and imitating monkeys. He testified that he heard both Coy and Harris use the phrase, “We bought your parents, and we’ll buy you, too” and throw dollar bills on the ground.
Ogundipe testified Tuesday that while Harris’ insults were louder, Coy was also responsible for saying racist and hateful things.
“Both of them said it,” Ogundipe said. “I saw and heard Mr. Coy say it multiple times.”
Ogundipe said his injuries and the hateful experience has hurt his academic performance.
“I felt humiliated,” he said. “I’m still victimized today. I wake up with depression. This is something that should not happen.”
Jared Kaszuba, a witness to the altercation between Joseph Coy and University of Colorado student Oluyibi Ogundipe, demonstrates the “monkey” gestures he testified that he saw Coy and Zachrey Harris make the night of the incident.
Eugene Ballantyne, 29, of Running Springs appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Riverside on one count of receiving and distributing child pornography, according to the FBI’s Los Angeles division.
Ballantyne taught social studies at Arrowview Middle School until two weeks ago, when the accusations came out.
Federal agents arrested Ballantyne at his home Tuesday morning.
During an FBI search at his home March 1, Ballantyne admitted to agents that he had been communicating with the girl in South Brunswick, N.J., since January, according to the criminal complaint. He also said he received pornographic images from another girl he met two years earlier and that he traveled 180 miles to have sex with a third child, FBI officials said.
Ballantyne met the New Jersey girl on an Internet chat site, according to the complaint. He went by the name John Baldwin. Ballantyne allegedly sent nude pictures of himself to the girl and received partially nude, sexually suggestive photos of the alleged victim.
FBI officials said he was demanding during phone conversations with the girl and persuaded her to engage in sexual activity while they talked.
He also asked the victim to delete his pictures, text messages and emails and told the girl not to tell anyone about their relationship, according to the complaint.
The complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office says Ballantyne sent messages expressing his love for the child.
“Really it’s so nice to have you in my life. I only wish you were here so I could really express my feelings for you,” he wrote in one of his notes.
The South Brunswick Police Department began investigating the case when a parent of the child reported the relationship earlier this year.
In court proceedings Tuesday before Judge David T. Bristow, an FBI agent testified that Ballantyne contacted a 13-year-old female student at Arrowview – a day after federal agents served a search warrant at his home.
Special Agent Jeffrey Stiff testified that Brinda Leon, a human-resources official at San Bernardino City Unified School District, told him just before the court proceedings that Ballantyne had contacted the Arrowview student via Facebook at 8:30 p.m. March 2.
“Mr. Ballantyne stated that he liked a young girl. He asked if she ever kissed a boy,” Stiff testified, in summary. The girl felt “uncomfortable” and told a principal, who told Leon, Stiff said.
The testimony was the “tipping” point for Bristow, who said he had been considering a conditional release for Ballantyne. Instead, Bristow said he was concerned about potential harm to the community and ordered the defendant held in custody of federal marshals.
But the judge added that he was willing to reconsider his decision if new information develops after federal prosecutors investigate the incident further.
Ballantyne returns to U.S. District Court in Riverside for a preliminary hearing March 27. An arraignment was scheduled for April 4.
Bristow ordered Ballantyne into the custody of U.S. marshals.
San Bernardino City Unified School District placed Ballantyne on paid administrative leave March 1, when the FBI told the district agents were searching his house. Ballantyne, who was hired in July 2010, resigned March 2, and parents were mailed a letter that day.
“The district takes all accusations of sexual misconduct seriously,” district spokeswoman Linda Bardere said before learning of Stiff’s testimony. “At this point, and it also comes out in the FBI report, we have no reason to believe Arrowview Middle School students were involved or in danger.”
However, investigators suspect he may have more victims.
Students at Arrowview Middle School painted conflicting pictures of Ballantyne on Tuesday, although none gave their names because of the sensitivity of the topic and their fears of retribution.
“Anyone who says that must be lying,” said one seventh- grade girl who said Ballantyne had substitute taught her class several times. “He’s a good teacher, and he’s nice. He wasn’t `too’ nice, though, you know?”
Other students said they had suspicions even before the accusations became public.
“He’d look at some of the girls `perv-y,’ and he was always going from happy to mean,” said an eighth-grade boy who had taken his class.
Neighbors said Ballantyne and his wife were a trusted member of a close-knit street.
“He was a super nice, church-going guy,” said neighbor Tylor Newman. “I never expected it. It’s just such a shocker.”
School Board President Barbara Flores said the school board was updated as soon as the FBI contacted district officials.
Anyone with information about this case or on additional victims may call the FBI at 888-226-8443.