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Archive for June, 2013

Farmer gets only probation for growing 8,000 pot plants

Courtesy of: http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/farmer-gets-only-probation-for-growing-8000-pot-plants

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DETROIT — A southeastern Michigan farmer recovering from throat cancer was sentenced to probation instead of prison Tuesday for growing thousands of marijuana plants, due partly to many handwritten letters from supporters who described him as a modest, selfless man who helps others at every turn.

“This is one that most screams out: This man deserves a break,” U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said.

Edwin Schmieding, 61, was caught growing 8,000 marijuana plants at his Lenawee County farm and greenhouse in 2011. His wife told police that they were trying to tap the state’s medical marijuana market, although production that large is illegal.

Schmieding’s attorney, Sanford Schulman, noted that most plants were small and of low quality.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Schmieding told the judge as relatives wept in the courtroom gallery. “I’ve lived a hard-working life. I give you my word: I’ll be a responsible citizen.”

Schmieding began growing marijuana in 2010 after years of growing cut flowers and other plants. He and wife Linda lived in a home built with their own hands and warmed by firewood during winter.

Friedman was influenced by letters from relatives and friends, even Schmieding’s former wife, in the rural area. A neighbor said Schmieding regularly lent tools and helped him pour concrete. Family members said they were inspired by his modesty and independence as well as his courage during cancer treatments.

“Because of this farming that will someday be legal … his family lost everything. He has suffered enough,” brother-in-law Arthur Radabaugh wrote.

Michigan voters in 2008 approved the use of marijuana to relieve the side effects of certain illnesses. But only licensed caregivers and users can grow it in relatively small quantities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney C. Barrington Wilkins didn’t object to a departure from the sentencing guidelines. He said Schmieding “wasn’t intending to be Pablo Escobar,” a notorious Colombian drug lord. Friedman gave Schmieding credit for a day in custody and placed him on supervised release, or probation, for two years.

“It’s a bad thing that’s happened to you, but you’ve lived a good life,” the judge said.

Schmieding still is likely to lose his farm because of the drug conviction. Wilkins recently dropped charges against Linda Schmieding.

Indiana woman sentenced to die for killing bible studies teacher at 15 is freed

Courtesy of: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/06/18/indiana-woman-sentenced-to-die-for-killing-bible-studies-teacher-at-15-is-freed/?test=latestnews

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A woman who was sentenced to death at age 16 for taking part in the torture and murder of a 78-year-old bible studies teacher was released from an Indiana prison Monday after growing to middle age behind bars.

Paula Cooper, whose 1986 death sentence enraged human rights activists and drew a plea for clemency from Pope John Paul II, left the state prison quietly in a state-owned van and wearing donated clothing, Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison said.

As is customary, the prison, about 60 miles west of Indianapolis, gave the now-43-year-old woman $75 to help her make a fresh start.

When asked where Cooper was being taken, Garrison said, “We have something arranged but that’s not something I can talk about.”

Cooper was 15 years old when she used a butcher’s knife to cut Ruth Pelke 33 times during a robbery in Gary that ended in Pelke’s death. Her three companions — one only 14 –received lighter sentences, but Cooper confessed to the killing and was sentenced to death by a judge who opposed capital punishment, said former prosecutor Jack Crawford, who sought the death penalty for Cooper. Crawford is now a defense lawyer in Indianapolis and no longer supports capital punishment.

“She sat on her, slicing her,” Crawford said. “This was a torture crime.”

The following year, Cooper became the country’s youngest death row inmate.

The sentencing of a 16-year-old to death enraged human rights activists in the U.S. and Europe. Pope John Paul II urged that Cooper be granted clemency in 1987, and in 1988 a priest brought a petition to Indianapolis with more than 2 million signatures protesting Cooper’s sentence.

“There were like protests, `Save Paula Cooper,’ even in Europe it was a rallying cry,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. “Her case really became a symbol of the death penalty.”

Two years after Cooper was sentenced to die, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an unrelated case that the execution of young people who were under 16 at the time they committed an offense was cruel and unusual punishment and was thus unconstitutional. Indiana legislators then passed a state law raising the minimum age limit for execution from 10 years to 16, and in 1988, the state’s high court set Cooper’s death sentence aside and ordered her to serve 60 years in prison.

“Was justice done? Twenty-four years is a long time, but I’m not sure,” Crawford said.

Ruth Pelke’s grandson, Bill Pelke, has organized opposition to the death penalty since about two years after her murder. His grandmother, he said, would have been “appalled” at a young girl being sentenced to die.

Pelke, who now lives in Anchorage, Alaska, was in Indiana Monday for Cooper’s release, but missed it. He said he expects Cooper to phone him sometime in the next few days.

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to execute anyone who is younger than 18 years when they commit an offense.

Linley E. Pearson, who was Indiana’s attorney general when Cooper appealed to the state Supreme Court, said research now shows that the human brain doesn’t fully mature until age 24.

“So kids can do a lot of things they wouldn’t do if they were an adult,” Pearson said.

Cooper’s sentence was reduced due to her behavior in prison, where she earned a bachelor’s degree. She will remain on parole for a few years, Garrison said.

“We’re just wanting her to be successful, that’s all,” he said. “She needs to get back to living.”

Catch and Release: FL fishermen reel in 2.5 million bale of cocaine

courtesy http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/06/17/florida-fishermen-reel-in-25-million-bale-cocaine/?test=latestnews

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Five fishermen on a commercial expedition 2-3 miles off the coast of Destin, Fla., on Wednesday found 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of cocaine floating in the water, worth an estimated $2.5 million, before handing it over to authorities.

The Okaloosa County Multi-Agency Drug Task Force is now investigating the cocaine, which came in individually-wrapped packages that were stamped with the numbers “00.”

Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley told FoxNews.com Monday that authorities believe the drugs came from the Venezuela area because of language on the packaging material.

“This is definitely not a source city for that quantity of narcotics,” he said.

Ashley added that it’s “not uncommon for drugs to wash ashore” in Florida, as floating bales of marijuana have been found in the past.

Ohio boy admits he killed mom after fight over chores

Courtesy of: http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/ohio-boy-admits-he-killed-mom-after-fight-over-chores

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MILLERSBURG, Ohio  — An Ohio boy admitted he fatally shot his mother in the head with a rifle when he was 10 after what a relative described as an argument over chores.

The boy, now 13, entered the equivalent of a guilty plea Monday in juvenile court.

In January 2011, the boy went to a neighbor’s house, called 911 and told the dispatcher he had shot his mother at their home in rural Holmes County, about 70 miles northeast of Columbus. “I shot my mom. I shot her with a gun,” he said.

At the time, his uncle said the boy and his mother had argued over carrying firewood.

Defense attorney Andy Hyde said the boy lived in an emotionally abusive environment, was provoked by his mother’s screaming and “just snapped.”

The boy “is one of those that I just feel sorry for,” Hyde said. “He had a lot dumped on him at a young age and responded inappropriately, but the spur-of-the-moment decision now will affect the rest of his life.”

The boy will be sentenced later and could be held in a youth facility until he’s 21. Hyde said Wednesday that the judge can consider a range of placement options, and he’ll ask that the boy go to a residential treatment facility with access to counseling.

County Prosecutor Steve Knowling told The Repository in Canton the plea deal avoids a trial that benefits no one.

“It’s obviously a very difficult situation because of his age, but it’s still a murder case,” Knowling told the newspaper. He didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking further comment Wednesday.

The boy said he understood his plea agreement during the Monday hearing attended by his father and other relatives, The Repository reported.

The issue of a trial had been on hold because the boy initially was found not competent for that. The court then found him competent earlier this year.

The boy has received counseling for anxiety and depression and can’t bring himself to talk about the shooting, Hyde said.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify juveniles accused of crimes.

 

Mother busts ‘sex offender targeting her daughter, 11′ after sending him a picture of a bra model

Courtesy of: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2339527/Mother-busts-sex-offender-targeting-daughter-11-sending-picture-bra-model-receiving-naked-photos-return.html

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A mother has busted a suspected sex offender by pretending a photo of a Target bra model was her 11-year-old daughter – before allegedly receiving naked photos of him in return.

The woman from St Petersburg, Florida, who did not want to be identified, pulled off the plan after discovering her daughter had gone against her wishes and set up a Facebook account.

One night she noticed that the young girl was messaging a much-older man, 23-year-old Michael Jerome Bradley, after he added her as a friend on the social networking site in May.

Shocked by the allegedly horrifying messages he was sending the young girl – including that he wanted to have sex with her and for her to have his baby – she called him.

‘Do you know she’s 11 years old?’ she asked him, she told the Tampa Tribune. ‘If you keep calling my daughter, if you keep texting my daughter, I’m going to call the police and have you arrested.’

She contacted the police, but they said they did not have enough to go on, she said. So she took the law into her own hands.

When Bradley allegedly asked the young girl to send him photographs of herself, the mother said she found a bra advert in a Target magazine and sent him a picture of that instead.

‘I scrolled through the Target paper,’ she told 10 News. ‘I saw a girl in her bra, so I just grabbed my cell phone, took a picture of it and sent it to him.’After receiving it, he allegedly sent her graphic text messages and naked photographs of himself – which was enough evidence for the police to make an arrest.

The mother said she was ‘terrified’ on receiving the messages.‘I just thank God that I got a hold of it when I did,’ she said. ‘I can only image how far things could have gone if I would not have got a hold of it.’

Bradley was arrested on Friday and is being held at the Pinellas County Jail on $120,000 bail.

He was charged with eight counts of displaying obscene images to a minor and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

‘Obviously we commend [the mother] for her diligence in monitoring her daughter’s online activity, which is what was preach,’ said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz.

‘We would caution one needs to proceed carefully when attempting to go to the next level and continue communications with the effort to try and develop a case.

‘Usually this is something best left to law enforcement.’

DNA on beer cans leads to NY suspect’s arrest

Courtesy of: http://news.yahoo.com/dna-beer-cans-leads-ny-suspects-arrest-105538306.html

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities say a burglar’s decision to knock back a couple of beers during a break-in at an upstate New York home led to his arrest.

Onondaga (ahn-uhn-DAH’-gah) County prosecutors tell The Post-Standard of Syracuse (http://bit.ly/14vfeMo ) that 29-year-old Moses Wilson was stealing copper piping from a vacant rental home in Syracuse in early February when he found an unopened case of beer in the basement.

Officials say he drank some of the beer during the burglary. Prosecutors say police were able to match Wilson’s DNA to DNA found on the cans.

Wilson was arraigned Tuesday in Onondaga County Court on charges of burglary and petit larceny. He is being held in jail on $10,000 bail. It couldn’t immediately be determined if he had a lawyer.

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