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Archive for March, 2013

It’s never a good idea to sell your child for bail money.

courtesy of http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/21827138/man-attempts-to-sell-six-year-old-daughter-for-bail-money

By Knoxville News Sentinel

KINGSPORT, TN (News Sentinel) —  A Kingsport man has been arrested for allegedly agreeing to sell his 6-year-old daughter for $1,500 — telling his assumed buyer that he needed the money to bond his girlfriend out of jail.

Shawn Wayne Hughes, 32, of 1028 Fairway Ave., was arrested by Kingsport Police on Wednesday afternoon. He was located in the parking lot of Eastman Credit Union on Wilcox Drive, reportedly thinking that’s where he’d exchange his daughter for cash.

He was instead met by Kingsport officers, who had previously listened in on his alleged verbal agreement with a concerned family member. During the phone conversation Hughes also allegedly agreed to sign over custodial rights to the buyer, a 75-year-old woman who accepted his terms under direction of police.

 

Man, 86, gets probation in Ariz. mercy killing

courtesy of http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/29/3312870/man-charged-in-mercy-killing-set.html

By BRIAN SKOLOFF

Associated Press

 

George Sanders, center, is joined by his attorney Janey Henze Cook, right, outside a Phoenix courtroom, Friday, March 29, 2013.  The 86-year-old, who carried out a mercy killing by shooting his ailing wife and high school sweetheart in the head, was sentenced Friday to probation after an emotional hearing where family members tearfully spoke on his behalf.

PHOENIX — There was no doubt 86-year-old George Sanders killed his ailing wife. Yet everyone in the small Arizona courtroom – the prosecutor, the judge and even the couple’s family members – agreed it was a time for compassion, not punishment.

“My grandfather lived to love my grandmother, to serve and to make her feel as happy as he could every moment of their life,” Sanders’ grandson, Grant, told the judge, describing the couple’s life together as “a beautiful love story.”

“I truly believe that the pain had become too much for my grandmother to bear,” he said, while Sanders looked on during the sentencing hearing Friday and occasionally wiped his eyes with a tissue as relatives pleaded tearfully for mercy.

Sanders was arrested last fall after he says his wife, Virginia, 81, begged him to kill her. He was initially charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a deal with prosecutors. Still, he faced a sentence of up to 12 years.

His wife, whose family called her Ginger, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1969, and was forced into a wheelchair soon after. She and Sanders, a World War II veteran, moved from Washington state in the 1970s for Arizona’s warm, dry climate.

George Sanders became her sole caregiver. He cooked for her, cleaned the house, did laundry, put on her makeup and would take her to the beauty salon where he’d hold her hands up so she could get her nails done.

Eventually, though, his own health deteriorated. He had a pacemaker put in, and Virginia was diagnosed with gangrene on her foot. She was set to be admitted to a hospital, then likely a nursing home where she would spend the remainder of her life.

“It was just the last straw,” Sanders told a detective during his interrogation shortly after the shooting at the couple’s home in a retirement community outside Phoenix. “She didn’t want to go to that hospital … start cutting her toes off.”

He said his wife begged him to kill her. “I said, ‘I can’t do it honey,'” he told the detective. “She says, ‘Yes you can.'”

Sanders then got his revolver and wrapped a towel around it so the bullet wouldn’t go into the kitchen. “She says, ‘Is this going to hurt?’ and I said, ‘You won’t feel a thing,'” he said.

“She was saying, ‘Do it. Do it. Do it.’ And I just let it go,” Sanders added.

In court Friday, as Sanders awaited his fate, his son told the judge the family never wanted him to be prosecuted.

“I want the court to know that I loved my mother dearly,” Steve Sanders said. “But I would also like the court to know that I equally love my father.”

Breaking down at times in tears, he explained how his parent’s spent 62 years together, and his father took care of his mother day in and day out.

“I fully believe that the doctor’s visits, the appointments, the medical phone calls and the awaiting hospital bed led to the decision that my parents made together,” he said. “I do not fault my father.

“A lot of people have hero figures in their life, LeBron James … some world class figures … but I have to tell you my lifelong hero is my dad,” he told the judge, sobbing.

George Sanders, wearing khakis and a white sport coat, spoke for only a minute about his deep love for his wife.

“Your honor, I met Ginger when she was 15 years old and I’ve loved her since she was 15 years old. I loved her when she was 81 years old,” he said, trembling.

“It was a blessing, and I was happy to take care of her,” Sanders continued. “I am sorry for all the grief and pain and sorrow I’ve caused people.”

Prosecutor Blaine Gadow also asked the judge not to sentence Sanders to prison, instead recommending probation. “The family very much loved their mother,” Gadow said, noting the “very unique, difficult circumstances of this case.”

“I don’t know where our society is going to go with cases like this, judge,” he added. “At this point in time, what Mr. Sanders did was a crime.” However, he said, “No one in the courtroom has forgotten the victim in this case.”

As family members took their seats and Sanders stood trembling at the podium in the courtroom, Judge John Ditsworth spoke softly, staring at the defendant from just a few feet away then sentenced him to two years of unsupervised probation.

Ditsworth said his decision “tempers justice with mercy.”

“It is very clear that he will never forget that his actions ended the life of his wife,” Ditsworth said.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/29/3312870/man-charged-in-mercy-killing-set.html#storylink=cpy

Massachusetts 13-year-old suspended for bringing butter knife to school

Courtesy of:http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/03/29/student-reportedly-suspended-for-bringing-butter-knife-to-school/

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A 13-year-old Massachusetts student caught at school with a knife she used to slice fruit has received a one-day suspension, according to her mother.

Morgan LaPlaume, a student at Wamsutta Middle School in Attleboro, was suspended for violating the school’s zero-tolerance policy for knives, according to MyFoxBoston.com.

Morgan’s mother, Melissa LaPlaume, told the station that her daughter needed to slice the fruit because she has braces and is unable to take bites out of whole fruit.

When the school’s vice principal reportedly saw Morgan with the butter knife during her lunch period, he brought her into his office and issued her a suspension.

The school’s principal told MyFoxBoston.com that the policy on knives can be found in the school’s handbook, which is signed by parents and guardians at the start of each school year.

Melissa LaPlaume told the station she signed the handbook but plans to discuss the incident with administrators to have the punishment removed from her daughter’s academic record.

Man, Falsely Yells ‘Bingo,’ Is Ordered Not To Say Word For 6 Months

Courtesy of: http://main.aol.com/2013/03/20/man-yells-bingo-austin-whaley_n_2917013.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000058

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Screaming “bingo” was his shame-o.

Comparing the act to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, a police officer cited an 18-year-old man for falsely yelling “bingo” in a Covington, Ky., parlor, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

Austin Whaley was slapped with a disorderly conduct charge and then ordered by a judge last week to refrain from uttering the word “bingo” for six months.

According to the report, Whaley entered a bingo hall packed with mostly elderly women on Feb. 6. The man yelled “bingo,” and his actions disrupted the game for several minutes because players thought they had lost, the paper wrote. Whaley was asked to apologize to the angry patrons, but his refusal prompted an officer to take action.

Visit the Cincinnati Enquirer to read what the officer had to say.

News outlets, of course, jumped on the story.

MSN wrote, “Never get between old ladies and their bingo,” while the Daily Beast referred to Whaley as “the boy who cried bingo?”

However, bingo theft is usually a bigger problem than falsely calling “bingo.”

Husband-and-wife schoolteachers in the Denver area were fired in May for allegedly stealing $25,000 from bingo fundraisers, CBS4 reported at the time.

In addition, a mother and daughter are accused of taking $700,000 in bingo proceeds from a fire department in Swoyersville, Pa, according to the Times Leader.

Boss’ surprise birthday party leads to employee’s arrest on theft charges

Courtesy of: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/03/27/boss-surprise-birthday-party-leads-to-employee-arrest-on-theft-charges/?intcmp=HPBucket

Jail-Cell

The party’s over.

A former Florida office manager was arrested Monday after a surprise birthday party she arranged for her boss led investigators to discover that she stole more than $180,000 from the business, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Ruth Amen handled billing and payroll at Gulf to Bay Realty in Boca Grande for more than a decade, and decided to pay for the surprise party without permission.

Gulf to Bay Realty officials and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigated Amen’s financial dealings after the surprise party incident, and found that she embezzled $181,674 from the company, the news release said.

Amen allegedly used $92,000 in company cash to pay off her personal credit card debt, in addition to allegedly issuing herself $65,000 in bonus paychecks.

Amen faces grand theft and scheme to defraud charges, both felonies.

Should the government tax your email?

Courtesy of: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/27/should-government-tax-email/

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Your property is taxed. Your income is taxed. Your investments are taxed.

But … your email?

A California official is bringing new life to the argument that the Internet — including emails — is an untapped revenue resource that should be taxed to help local economies.

Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak brought up taxing emails during a recent council meeting. He suggested the money collected, which would be part of a wider-reaching Internet tax, could be used in Berkeley’s case to save the local post office.

“There should be something like a bit tax,” he said during the March 5 meeting. “I mean, a bit tax could be a cent per gigabit and they would make, probably, billions of dollars a year.”

Plus, he said, there should be a “very tiny tax on email.”

This idea goes beyond already-controversial proposals to tax e-commerce — like buying used books on Amazon. This would be a tax on data.

Wozniak told FoxNews.com the response to the idea has been varied.

“Most people don’t like the idea of taxing the Internet,” he acknowledged. “There are a number of people who say it’s a good idea, but some are saying it’s impractical and there’s no way to do it.”

Chris Edwards, an economist with the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, is one of those people.

“It’s a terrible idea,” Edwards told FoxNews.com.

“The government doesn’t need any more tax money. That’s not the problem. The American government is spending more than ever.”

Plus, he said, a tax like this would hit “different types of industry in different ways.”

Local governments can’t legally impose a tax on the Internet — but Wozniak’s idea is not as new, or perhaps as far-fetched, as it sounds. Amid concerns that the government could one day turn to the Internet for a new-age funding stream, Congress in 1998 passed a law called the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which bans Internet taxation.

That law is set to expire next November. If that happens, Wozniak’s proposal could someday turn into a reality — but the likelihood is slim.

Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Dean Heller have already introduced legislation this year that would indefinitely extend the law prohibiting federal, state and local governments from taxing Internet access.

The idea of a “bit tax” is the brainchild of Arthur Cordell, a former information technology adviser for the Canadian government. Cordell proposed the tax during a 1997 lecture at Harvard Law School.

“While there are few kudos for proposing a new tax, the time is ripe to suggest positive and constructive ways of dealing with serious fiscal realities,” Cordell said at the time. “The move to a new economy should be matched by consideration of a new tax base. A tax base that is growing.  A tax base that is at the heart of a new economy. A tax base that can be easily identified, one where collection is in few hands. A tax that is difficult to avoid.”

He, too, called it a “bit tax.”

Cordell did not return a request for comment from FoxNews.com. But he did tell a Los Angeles Times columnist this month that he still supports the Internet tax, saying, “it’s needed more than ever as we get rid of brick and mortar stuff. … eventually it’s going to happen.”

The idea seemed to get an endorsement from the LA Times columnist, George Skelton, who suggested such a tax could even cut down on “spammers and scammers.” Skelton suggested emails that run off the screen be taxed an additional amount, “just as a bulky letter costs more than a 46-cent stamp.”

Under Cordell’s framework, the bit tax would impose a levy on each digital bit of information flowing through global networks. That means people could have to pony up a fee for emails, file transfers, electronic check transactions and more.

And that could be just the beginning.

Cordell said in 1997 that the new revenue could be used for schools, parks and health care, among other services. Critics of this idea, he argued, are interested in trying to “wrestle the state to the ground.” At the time, he quoted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “who wrote in a decision in 1904 that ‘Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.'”

Edwards disagrees.

“Holmes said that during a time when federal taxes were 4 percent of the GDP,” Edwards said. “Yes, taxes might have paid for a civilized society then, but that’s not where we are now.”

US Supreme Court holds that police bringing a drug dog to your front door to sniff is a violation of the 4th Amendment.

drug dogIn the case of Florida v. Jardines the US Supreme Court upheld the Florida Supreme Court’s suppression of drug evidence found after police brought a drug dog to a home to search without consent.  Previous law had held that a drug dog sniff was not a search for 4th Amendment purposes, but the Court found that the privacy of the home was violated by such a search and upheld the Florida Supreme Court’s decision.  Police can no longer just bring a drug dog to the front door to see if it alerts and then search a home.

follow the below link for detailed information about the case.

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/florida-v-jardines/

Cops: Man staged knife attack to impress date

Courtesy of: http://news.msn.com/us/cops-man-staged-knife-attack-to-impress-date

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Police in Jonesboro, Ark., say a man who claimed he fought off a knife-wielding attacker staged the incident to impress his would-be date.

A 26-year-old man who said he fought off a knife-wielding attacker failed to impress the woman he wanted to date and nearly wound up in jail himself.

Police in Jonesboro, Ark., say Jeffery Tyler Siegel staged the “attack” with the help of a friend, hoping to make a good impression on his companion.

The incident happened on the night of March 16.

According to police:

Siegel and a woman he liked were walking in a city park when suddenly a man dressed in black and brandishing a large knife came out of the woods. The “assailant” told Siegel, “You can go, but your girlfriend stays.”

The woman ran away and called police. Siegel told officers he stayed and fought off the attacker. He said the man slashed him twice — on the chest and wrist — before he kneed the man in the stomach. He said the man then fled.

Police searched the area for about two hours but couldn’t find the “attacker.”

The woman told officers she felt that “something was not right” and that Siegel was texting just before the alleged assault. Police then called Siegel in for a more extensive interview.

Detective Mike Branscum said Siegel’s wounds appeared to be “superficial scratches” not consistent with a vicious knife attack. “I could tell from his body language that he was withholding something. He was also very nervous while he spoke,” Branscum wrote in a police report.

Eventually, Siegel “finally confessed that he lied about the incident,” Branscum wrote.

“He said that he really liked (the woman) and was trying to date her. He felt that if he did something like this it would help him with his chances with her. He said he contacted a friend … a couple of days prior and staged a fake attack.”

The friend who came out of the woods actually had a knife, but never used it.

After the woman ran away, Siegel “scratched himself superficially a couple of times to make it look like he had been attacked with knife,” Branscum told MSN News on Monday.

“He could have been charged with filing a false police report, which is a misdemeanor, but in the course of the investigation the decision was made not to file charges,” Branscum said.

“He was embarrassed and I’m sure thinking that wasn’t the smartest thing for a person to do.”

The woman told KAIT-TV that what her would-be suitor had done “was not very heroic.”

Branscum said the case is closed.

“All I can say is that it was an unusual case,” he told MSN News.

Supreme Court prepares for landmark gay marriage arguments

Courtesy of: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/26/supreme-court-to-hear-arguments-in-gay-marriage-cases-that-could-have/?intcmp=HPBucket

032513_dcl_samesexmarraige_640he gay marriage debate lands before the Supreme Court Tuesday morning, as the justices weigh the first of two cases that could have sweeping implications for the states.

Tuesday’s historic arguments will center on California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages. Spectators have been waiting in line since Thursday for the chance at being in the room while the two sides try to sway the court.

Lawyers representing one lesbian and one gay couple from California will try to persuade the nine Supreme Court justices Tuesday to strike down the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages and to declare that gay couples can marry nationwide.

Lawyers representing supporters of the California ban known as Prop 8 will argue that the court should not override the democratic process and impose a judicial solution that would redefine marriage in the some 40 states that do not allow same-sex couples to wed.

The case has the potential to be monumental, as the justices could, if they choose to rule broadly, overturn every state constitutional provision and law banning same-sex marriages.

Or, they could set back the gay marriage movement by upholding California’s ban and continuing to leave the issue up to the states.

The case before the high court came together four years ago when the two couples agreed to be the named plaintiffs and become the public faces of a well-funded, high-profile effort to challenge Proposition 8 in the courts.

The fight began in 2004 when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered city officials to issue marriage licenses. Six months later, the state Supreme Court invalidated the same-sex unions. Less than four years later, however, the same state court overturned California’s prohibition on same-sex unions.

Then, in the same election that put President Obama in the White House in 2008, California voters approved Proposition 8, undoing the court ruling and defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The ballot measure halted same-sex unions in California. Roughly 18,000 couples were wed in the nearly five months that same-sex marriage was legal and those marriages remain valid in California.

The high-profile case has brought together two one-time Supreme Court opponents. Republican Theodore Olson and Democrat David Boies are leading the legal team representing the same-sex couples.

They argued against each other in the Bush v. Gore case that settled the disputed 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush. Opposing them is Charles Cooper, Olson’s onetime colleague at the Justice Department in the Reagan administration.

On Wednesday the court will consider a provision that defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the purpose of deciding who can receive a range of federal benefits, as part of a 1996 measure called the Defense of Marriage Act.

The arguments come at a time of changing views on the issue. Support for gay marriage is becoming a mainstream Democratic position and the issue is causing a sharp divide among Republicans.

Signaling the widespread interest in the rulings, spectators have been lining up all weekend outside the court, camping out in Washington for a chance to hear the arguments.

The issue has created fault lines within the Republican Party, as some prominent members drop their opposition to same-sex marriage while others stiffen it.

Gary Bauer, president of American Values, told “Fox News Sunday” that proponents of gay marriage are effectively asking “for unelected judges to deny the people of the states the right to decide what marriage is in their state.”

Bauer said he would prefer that every state bar gay marriage. But, acknowledging that’s not likely, he said the court should let the states decide.

Bauer said people are only changing their minds on the issue “because there’s been a full-court blitz … by the popular culture, by elites and all kinds of folks to intimidate and to cower people into no longer defending marriage between a man and a woman.”

However Nicolle Wallace, a former adviser to former President George W. Bush and to the 2008 McCain campaign, said those arguing against Prop 8 are in fact using a “conservative legal argument.”

“They will basically lay out the conservative case that there is not any place in the Constitution that allows for a different set of rules for a different class of people,” she told “Fox News Sunday.” “There’s also a moral imperative here. If you believe, if you value and treasure and revere the institution of marriage, then you should want every family unit to be really wrapped in marriage.”

Top Democrats who previously opposed same-sex marriage — and had taken the more moderate position of supporting civil unions — have in recent months and years shifted course.

President Obama announced his support for gay marriage in the months leading up to the presidential election. Hillary Clinton also recently followed suit.

But Republicans have also been crossing to the pro-gay marriage side. Wallace is among dozens of Republicans who filed a brief in the Supreme Court case arguing for Prop 8 to be overturned.  And Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, publicly reversed his position on the issue after his son came out as gay.

The position shifts, though, do not signal a party-wide change of heart. Many Republicans would still prefer the issue be left up to the states and are encouraging the high court justices to rule narrowly.

“They would be far better off to decide these two cases on the narrowest possible grounds,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday. A sweeping decision against gay marriage, he said, would be a “huge mistake” that would “undermine respect for the judiciary.”

Americans as a whole are likewise divided. A Fox News poll released Thursday showed 49 percent of voters favor legalizing gay marriage, while 46 percent oppose it.

That marks a shift since the question was first asked in 2003 — when 32 percent said gay marriage should be legal, and 58 percent opposed it.

Support for gay marriage has grown the most among Democrats, and self-described moderates and independents. Still, support for gay marriage rose by 10 points among Republicans over the past decade, according to the Fox News polling.

Gay marriage has been approved in nine states — Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington — and the District of Columbia. But 31 states have amended their constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriage. North Carolina was the most recent example last May.

Kidnapped and forced to drive against your will? Quick! Ram the nearest police car!

courtesy http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/03/kidnapped_nj_teen_crashes_alle.html

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Authorities say a dispute over an adoption spurred a southern New Jersey woman to kidnap a teenage girl and have her drive to Philadelphia, but the plot was foiled when the teen deliberately struck a police car.

Cape May County Prosecutor Robert Taylor says the incident unfolded Friday in Wildwood, when 45-year-old Floribert Nava of Wildwood demanded the girl take her to the home of the family that had adopted the recently born child.

Taylor says Nava wanted the child.

As the teen drove on the Ben Franklin Bridge, she saw a police cruiser parked on the shoulder. She purposely hit it and jumped out to tell the officer what had happened.

Taylor says Nava had a handgun and a bag containing duct tape, trash bags and latex gloves.