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Idaho high school football players charged with raping disabled teammate with a coat hanger in racially charged trial
Three high school football players are facing charges that they sexually assaulted a mentally disabled teammate with a coat hanger following months of harassment in a racially charged trial that’s rocking a tiny Idaho town.

Last fall, three star football players lured the special needs student with an offer of a hug inside the Dietrich High School locker room, but instead proceeded to thrust a coat hanger into the boy’s rectum while one of the assailants kicked the object several times, according to the criminal complaint.

John R.K. Howard, 18, a transfer student from Texas, and Tanner Ward, 17, are being tried as adults due to the seriousness of the crime and could face up to life in prison, according to MagicValley.com. A third, 16-year-old defendant, who is not named, is being charged as a juvenile.

A witness testified that Ward initiated the heartless attack and that Howard was the one who kicked the coat hanger five or six times while it was jammed inside the boy’s rectum, causing painful injuries that required hospital treatment.

“I screamed,” the 18-year-old boy, who is not being named because he’s a victim of sexual assault, testified for the first time last month. “I was pretty upset. I felt really bad. A little betrayed and confused at the same time. It was terrible — a pain I’ve never felt,” he said, adding that he remembered his attackers laughing throughout the assault, MagicValley.com reported.


? 17-year-old Tanner Ward, a student at Dietrich High School in Idaho, is one of three students accused of sexually assaulting a boy with a coat hanger and has been charged with forcible penetration.
17-year-old Tanner Ward, a student at Dietrich High School in Idaho, is one of three students accused of sexually assaulting a boy with a coat hanger and has been charged with forcible penetration. (KMVT)

The victim — a black learning-disabled teenager who was adopted by white parents in the small predominantly white town with a population of 338 — was the target of racist taunting and abuse in the months leading up to the savage attack, according to a $10 million lawsuit his family filed against Dietrich High School earlier this month.

Howard, who is portrayed in court documents as the ringleader in the merciless harassment, is accused of forcing the black boy to sing a Ku Klux Klan song called “Notorious KKK” (set to the tune of Notorious B.I.G. “Can’t You See”) he learned in Texas and encouraged other football players to join in on the vicious bullying.

The boy “was taunted and called racist names by other members of the team which names include ‘Kool-Aid’ ‘chicken eater’ ‘watermelon’ and n---r,” the suit alleges.

Other abuse described in the shocking suit includes when football players stripped the boy naked on a bus ride home from an out-of-town football game and took photos of him with their cellphones.

Dietrich High School in Idaho is the target of a $10 million lawsuit by the victim's family, which says coaches and school staff did nothing to stop months of harrassment that led to the attack.
Dietrich High School in Idaho is the target of a $10 million lawsuit by the victim's family, which says coaches and school staff did nothing to stop months of harrassment that led to the attack. (Google)

The lawsuit also names 11 employees as defendants allegedly did nothing to protect the boy, who was vulnerable due to “mental disorders including learning disabilities,” from the racist attacks, and even promoted the violence.

The suit claims that the Dietrich football coaches encouraged other players to fight the boy, including one incident in which a much larger player knocked the boy, who was forced to wear boxing gloves, unconscious as the students shouted “catcalls, taunts and racial epithets,” according to the suit.

The bullying culminated in the vicious Oct. 23, 2015 coat hanger attack. The following day, the boy and his parents reported the sexual assault to police.

Howard has a preliminary hearing set for June 10 and has not entered a plea. Ward's trial is scheduled to begin on September 26.
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Laura Bult May-25-2016 116 0
Three high school football players are facing charges that they sexually assaulted a mentally disabled teammate with a coat hanger following months of harassment in a racially charged trial that’s rocking a tiny Idaho town.

Last fall, three star football players lured the special needs student with an offer of a hug inside the Dietrich High School locker room, but instead proceeded to thrust a coat hanger into the boy’s rectum while one of the assailants kicked the object several times, according to the criminal complaint.

John R.K. Howard, 18, a transfer student from Texas, and Tanner Ward, 17, are being tried as adults due to the seriousness of the crime and could face up to life in prison, according to MagicValley.com. A third, 16-year-old defendant, who is not named, is being charged as a juvenile.

A witness testified that Ward initiated the heartless attack and that Howard was the one who kicked the coat hanger five or six times while it was jammed inside the boy’s rectum, causing painful injuries that required hospital treatment.

“I screamed,” the 18-year-old boy, who is not being named because he’s a victim of sexual assault, testified for the first time last month. “I was pretty upset. I felt really bad. A little betrayed and confused at the same time. It was terrible — a pain I’ve never felt,” he said, adding that he remembered his attackers laughing throughout the assault, MagicValley.com reported.


? 17-year-old Tanner Ward, a student at Dietrich High School in Idaho, is one of three students accused of sexually assaulting a boy with a coat hanger and has been charged with forcible penetration.
17-year-old Tanner Ward, a student at Dietrich High School in Idaho, is one of three students accused of sexually assaulting a boy with a coat hanger and has been charged with forcible penetration. (KMVT)

The victim — a black learning-disabled teenager who was adopted by white parents in the small predominantly white town with a population of 338 — was the target of racist taunting and abuse in the months leading up to the savage attack, according to a $10 million lawsuit his family filed against Dietrich High School earlier this month.

Howard, who is portrayed in court documents as the ringleader in the merciless harassment, is accused of forcing the black boy to sing a Ku Klux Klan song called “Notorious KKK” (set to the tune of Notorious B.I.G. “Can’t You See”) he learned in Texas and encouraged other football players to join in on the vicious bullying.

The boy “was taunted and called racist names by other members of the team which names include ‘Kool-Aid’ ‘chicken eater’ ‘watermelon’ and n---r,” the suit alleges.

Other abuse described in the shocking suit includes when football players stripped the boy naked on a bus ride home from an out-of-town football game and took photos of him with their cellphones.

Dietrich High School in Idaho is the target of a $10 million lawsuit by the victim's family, which says coaches and school staff did nothing to stop months of harrassment that led to the attack.
Dietrich High School in Idaho is the target of a $10 million lawsuit by the victim's family, which says coaches and school staff did nothing to stop months of harrassment that led to the attack. (Google)

The lawsuit also names 11 employees as defendants allegedly did nothing to protect the boy, who was vulnerable due to “mental disorders including learning disabilities,” from the racist attacks, and even promoted the violence.

The suit claims that the Dietrich football coaches encouraged other players to fight the boy, including one incident in which a much larger player knocked the boy, who was forced to wear boxing gloves, unconscious as the students shouted “catcalls, taunts and racial epithets,” according to the suit.

The bullying culminated in the vicious Oct. 23, 2015 coat hanger attack. The following day, the boy and his parents reported the sexual assault to police.

Howard has a preliminary hearing set for June 10 and has not entered a plea. Ward's trial is scheduled to begin on September 26.

May-24-2016 103 0
A Mississippi man whose daughter died after he left her in a hot car was released from jail without bail Tuesday, with the possibility that the second-degree murder charge against him could be reduced.

Grenada Municipal Judge Rusty Harlow ordered the release of 25-year-old Joshua Blunt on his own recognizance after city prosecutor Jennifer Adams requested the move and a friend and a police detective testified he wasn't a flight risk.

Harlow wept as he emerged from the Grenada County jail a few minutes later, embraced by relatives and friends who had offered vocal support during the brief court hearing.

Adams told Harlow that Grenada officials want to reduce the charges against Blunt from second degree murder, punishable by up to life in prison, to culpable negligence, a felony punishable by up to a year in prison.

However, Harlow said he wanted to hear from Grenada County District Attorney Doug Evans, who prosecutes felonies in the county, before making that decision.

Blunt's lawyer, Carlos Moore, has said he will fight that lower-grade felony charge.

Janette Fennell, founder and president of the Kansas-based KidsAndCars.Org, said that between 1990 and 2015, charges were brought in 45.5 percent of cases involving the deaths of children in hot cars in the U.S.

The group's figures show there were 706 cases of children dying in hot cars for those 25 years, although some cases involved multiple deaths.

The district attorney was present for the hearing but didn't participate. Evans later told The Associated Press that the correct procedure would be for city officials to drop the original murder charge and enter a new culpable negligence charge. Then he said the district attorney could decide whether to present it to the grand jury.

Evans said he's seen some information from the investigation, but couldn't comment on whether he believed Blunt knew the child was in the car.

Shania Caradine, Blunt's daughter, died Thursday after she was left in her father's car outside the 333 Restaurant in Grenada. Blunt's lawyer says she was there for about four hours. The lawyer said Blunt and a co-worker found the infant in the car, took Shania inside the restaurant and put cool towels on her to await an ambulance that took her to the University of Mississippi Medical Center Grenada. Grenada County Deputy Coroner Jo Morman said physicians at the hospital tried unsuccessfully for hours to revive the baby.

She was the second Mississippi child to die from heatstroke in a vehicle within two weeks. No charges have been brought against a parent in the other case.

Supporters and family members erupted in claps and cheers in the courtroom after Harlow ordered Blunt's release, with one person shouting, "Oh yes!"

John Archer who said he's Blunt's brother-in-law, said he and his wife, Patricia Archer, helped raise him.

"We think it was fair because he's working two jobs and he's never been in trouble. "He's just trying to support his family. It's just an accident."

Archer said Blunt was called in to work Thursday on a day he had been scheduled to be off. Archer speculated that the change in routine distracted Blunt from dropping off his daughter at the home of Shanice Caradine's mother.

Shanice Caradine is the child's mother and Blunt's girlfriend.

Among supporters present Tuesday was Allyson Worsham, who owns the 333 Restaurant. She called Blunt a good worker who had been "so proud" when his daughter was born.

"This has been a horrible tragedy," said Worsham said. She thanked a jail guard for watching Blunt, saying he had voiced thoughts of suicide after his daughter's death.

"Shanice sent a message to me that she loves him and that she and Shania forgive him," Worsham said.

CBS News May-24-2016 84 0
A Florida city official died in a suspicious single-vehicle crash a day before he was scheduled to surrender in a criminal corruption case.

Authorities say 43-year-old Opa-locka city commissioner Terence Pinder died Tuesday after the city-owned vehicle he was driving crashed into a tree. The tree was located in an undeveloped part of Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport, far from any major road. Police say they are investigating whether the crash was deliberate.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office confirmed Pinder had planned to surrender Wednesday to face bribery and other corruption charges. An arrest warrant says Pinder accepted thousands of dollars to help a businessman establish a recycling transfer station.

The death is the latest blow to Opa-locka, which is under a broader FBI corruption investigation and struggling with its finances.

AP May-23-2016 69 0
Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.

Prosecutors had declined to charge Cosby over Andrea Constand's complaint in 2005, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public.

In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Constand at his home. The two knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team.

The following exchanges between Cosby and Constand lawyer Dolores Troiani took place in 2005 and 2006. They are excerpted for brevity and to delete legal squabbling and repetition.

___

ON CONSTAND:

Q. When did you first develop a romantic interest in Andrea?

A. Probably the first time I saw her (at Temple's arena).

___

On the night in question:

Q: Can you tell me ... what you recall of the night in which you gave the pills to Andrea?

A: Andrea came to the house. I called her. ... We talked about Temple University. We talked about her position. And then I went upstairs and I got three pills. I brought them down. They are the equivalent of one and a half. The reason why I gave them and offered them to Andrea, which she took after examining them, was because she was talking about stress.

___

Cosby describes a several-minute sexual encounter that followed.

Q: So, you're not telling us that you verbally asked her for permission?

A: I didn't say it verbally, I said. The action is my hand on her midriff, which is skin. I'm not lifting any clothing up. This is, I don't remember fully what it is, but it's there and I can feel. I got her skin and it's just above the hand and it's just above where you can go under the pants.

Q: Then what happens?

A: I don't hear her say anything. And I don't feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.

___

Troiani asks Cosby about a phone call a year later between Cosby and Constand's mother, Gianni Constand, who told him something was wrong with her daughter, who was also on the line.

Q: What was the thing that you did not want to talk about?

A: I didn't want to talk about, "What did you give her?"

Q: Why?

A: Because we're over the telephone and I'm not sending anything (the pill bottle) over the mail and I'm not giving away anything.

Q: Why didn't you simply tell her ... that you had given her daughter an over-the-counter drug called Benadryl?

A: I'm not going to argue with somebody's mother who is accusing me of something. And then when I apologize she says to me, "That's all I wanted to know, Bill." ... And I'm apologizing because I'm thinking this is a dirty old man with a young girl. I apologized. I said to the mother it was digital penetration.

___

Q: When she sat here and cried (Constand, during her deposition), how did you feel?

A: I think Andrea is a liar and I know she's a liar because I was there.

___

ON QUAALUDES:

Cosby testified that he had gotten quaaludes from his doctor in Los Angeles in the 1970s. He said he was given seven prescriptions for the now-banned sedative, ostensibly for a sore back.

Q: Why didn't you ever take the quaaludes?

A: Because I used them.

Q: For what?

A: The same as a person would say, "Have a drink."

Q: You gave them to other people?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you believe at that time that it was illegal for you to dispense those drugs?

A: Yes.

Q: How did (the doctor) know that you didn't plan to use (them)?

A: What was happening at that time was that, that was, quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case.

Q: When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?

A. Yes.

___

Cosby acknowledges having a sexual relationship with accuser Therese (Picking) Serignese starting around 1976, when she was 19. Serignese, who has gone public with her accusations, has said the first time she met Cosby at a Las Vegas hotel in 1976, he gave her quaaludes and a glass of water before they had sex.

Q: Did you give her quaaludes?

A: Yes.

Q: What effect did the quaaludes have on her?

A: She became in those days what was called high.

Q: She said that she believes she was not in the position to consent to intercourse after you gave her the drug. Do you believe that is correct?

A: I don't know. ... How many years ago are we talking about? 197(6)? ... I meet Ms. Picking in Las Vegas. She meets me backstage. I give her quaaludes. We then have sex.

___

Q: Why didn't you ever take them yourself?

A: I get sleepy.

Q: How would you know that if you never took them?

A: Quaaludes happen to be a depressant. I have had surgery and while being given pills that block the nervous system, in particular the areas of muscle, the back, I found that I get sleepy and I want to stay awake.

Q: Is that why you don't drink alcohol?

A: Exactly.

Baltimore Sun May-23-2016 73 0
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams on Monday acquitted Officer Edward Nero of all counts for his role in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

The judgment, following a five-day bench trial, is the first in the closely-watched case. Nero, 30, faced four misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.

Prosecutors had argued that Nero committed an assault by detaining Gray without justification, while the reckless endangerment charge related to Nero's role in putting Gray into an arrest wagon without buckling a seat belt. In closing arguments Thursday, Williams had skeptically questioned prosecutors about their theory of assault, which legal experts said was unprecedented.

Nero leaned forward after the verdict was read, and wiped his eyes. He hugged his attorneys.

Billy Murphy, the attorney for the Gray family, commended Williams for not bowing to public pressure.

Williams "stood tall and did what he believed was just" while "very careful" to make clear findings specific to Nero case," Murphy said. "He had a job to do and he did it."

Nero was the second of six city police officers charged in the case to stand trial. The first trial, of Officer William Porter, ended in a hung jury and mistrial last December.

Nero, a former New Jersey volunteer firefighter who joined the Baltimore Police Department in 2012, is one of three officers who were on bike patrol when they chased and arrested Gray in West Baltimore.

Gray, 25, suffered severe spinal cord injuries while in the back of a Baltimore police van, prosecutors say. He died a week later, touching off citywide protests. On the day of his funeral on April 27, rioting, looting and arson broke out, leading the mayor to institute a weeklong nightly curfew and the governor to call in the National Guard.

Nero's trial lasted six days, with the prosecution calling 14 witnesses and the defense calling seven before closing statements last Thursday.

Nero's attorneys had sought to minimize his role in the arrest, saying that he had limited contact with Gray. They also argued that Nero followed his training.

Following the verdict, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for "citizens to be patient."

"This is our American system of justice and police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this city, state, and country," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Officer Nero will face an administrative review by the Police Department. We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion."

She noted the city is "prepared to respond" to any disturbance in the city. "We will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses and the people of our city," she said.

T.J. Smith, the police department's chief spokesman, said Nero will remain working in an administrative capacity while the police department's internal investigation continues.

"The internal investigation is being handled by other police departments. The internal investigation will not be completed until all of the criminal cases against the other five officers are completed because they will likely be witnesses in each case," Smith said in a statement.

State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, the winner of last month's Democratic primary for mayor, said she's been in touch with activists and believes the public understands the lengthy nature of criminal proceedings against multiple officers charged in Gray's arrest and death.

"We ask the people of Baltimore to let justice take its course," Pugh said. "We trust our State's Attorney's Office is doing its best job. We ask the citizens of Baltimore to remain calm as we continue to move forward to justice for everybody."

She said she believes the city has improved policing since Gray's death last year from injuries sustained in police custody.

"We've learned a lot of lessons," she said. "We've learned how we reform some police practices."

DeRay McKesson, a Black Lives Matter activist who unsuccessfully ran for mayor this year, said "the Nero verdict is a reminder that we must continue to push for policies and laws related to the police department that explicitly call for the preservation of life and that have clear lines of accountability.

"I am reminded that this is one of six trials as we seek accountability for the death of Freddie Gray," McKesson added.

The next trial in the case will be that of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr, the driver of the van used to transport Gray. His trial is scheduled to begin June 6. His trial is to be followed by those of Lt. Brian Rice (July 5), Officer Garrett Miller (July 27), Officer William Porter (Sept. 6) and Sgt. Alicia White (Oct. 13).

May-21-2016 167 0
The Howard High School of Technology community in Wilmington is in mourning again, and grief counselors are back.

Thursday afternoon, 9th grader Brandon Wingo was shot in the head and killed, just a few blocks away.

Wingo, 15, died at the hospital.

He was a student at the same high school where another teen died after a fight in the bathroom.

Amy Joyner-Francis died April 21 after investigators say three girls assaulted her.

One teen is charged with criminally negligent homicide. Prosecutors say they will seek to have her tried as an adult.

The other two charged with third degree misdemeanor conspiracy will be going to trial June 15.

Thursday, principal Stanley Spoor left a message on the school’s website that reads, “All of the Howard community is pained by the loss of this young man and we all grieve his death. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers.”

View image on Twitter

CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN May-21-2016 129 0
Getting the story is always priority No. 1, but a Phoenix TV reporter seems to have forgotten about No. 2 until it was too late.

Jonathan Lowe, a reporter for KPHO, was arrested Monday afternoon after allegedly defecating on a front lawn near the subject of his story’s home.

The 33-year-old was seen by a neighbor as he picked up papers from the street before leaning against the wall of a house and relieving himself, according to a Goodyear police report obtained by his station.

An officer tasked with the job of tracking Lowe down said the suspect admitted to using the yard as an impromptu latrine.

“I know what you want to talk to me about. I’ve been feeling very sick and I’ve been stuck in this van all day,” he said, according to the report.

“Those people who called on me just wanted to start problems.”

The woman who made the call about Lowe heeding nature’s call said that he could have used her bathroom if he had knocked on her door.

Lowe was arrested for public defecation, and now faces a fine of $2,500 or six months in jail for the misdemeanor, according to the Phoenix New Times.

KPHO news director Dan Wilson told the Times Wednesday that Lowe was still employed, though the channel’s Thursday night write-up of their colleague’s legal troubles called him a “former KPHO/KTVK reporter.”

The journalist’s bio page on the station’s site is no longer active, while a list of his articles shows the story he was covering during his bathroom breakdown.

Lowe's final piece for his station was an article about the case of Patrick Zane Thompson.

The 58-year-old former Arizona State football player and restaurant owner is accused of “sacrificing” his family’s poodle in a BBQ smoker after becoming upset about his daughter’s t-shirt.

joseph stepansky May-21-2016 132 0
Jocelyn Carr did everything she could to keep her son protected from the violence of the streets, even making him pledge to join the Army.

But Friday, the distraught Bronx mother mopped 17-year-old Ackeem Davis’ blood inside their apartment — the result, police sources said, of roughhousing between friends that ended with a fatal bullet to her son’s chest.

“I could understand if he got shot out in the street, but they shot him right here in his bed,” the 42-year-old mail carrier told the Daily News.

Gone in a muzzle flash were her plans for Davis’ 18th birthday next week, his high school graduation next month and his enlistment in the Army this summer — a commitment he made at her request.

“We made the deal because I didn’t want him to be out on the street and killed in the street,” Carr told The News. “But he got killed right at home.”

Carr was left instead to plan a funeral for the teen killed while hanging out with a group of friends in his bedroom as she was working Thursday afternoon.

More than 24 hours after the fatal shooting, cops charged 19-year-old Steafon Lewis (photo inset) with manslaughter and possession of a firearm.

Sources said an eyewitness told detectives Davis and Lewis had been playfully wrestling on the bed when Lewis picked up a gun on the dresser around 5 p.m. and shot his friend once.

Davis staggered into the apartment hallway, then collapsed in front of his brother’s horrified girlfriend. “He couldn’t speak,” said Starr White, 18. “All of this blood was just coming out of his mouth. He just came out here and dropped.”

The victim’s 13-year-old sister was also in the apartment when the fatal shot was fired.

His mother received a frantic call at work, but her son was dead by the time she reached Jacobi Medical Center.

A spot of blood remained visible beneath the family fridge Friday as Carr spoke of her son’s lost future. She was left with agonizing questions — none of her son’s friends let her know what happened.

Some of the kids bolted, while others carried Davis into the hallway.

One of the other youths must have brought the gun into the Pelham Parkway Houses in Allerton because her son didn’t own one, she said.

“If anybody knows anything at all, just let us know,” said Carr. “Nobody’s saying. I need to know what happened, how he died . . . I need to know why I no longer have my child. My son’s not coming back here.”

Family and friends created an impromptu memorial outside the building at 810 Astor Ave., with candles spelling out the letter K twice for his nickname “Keem Krazy.”

“Everybody knows my son, because he’s a comedian,” said Carr. “He makes everybody laugh.”

Friday night Lewis, in glasses and flowered pants, was led from the 49th Precinct stationhouse by three detectives. The beefy teen, in handcuffs and ankle shackles, remained silent.

CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN May-21-2016 131 0
A Chicago woman was gunned down coming out of a Starbucks on Friday, the victim of gang-related violence just two blocks from the city’s police headquarters.

Yvonne Nelson, an innocent 49-year-old who worked for the Windy City’s 311 service, was shot in the chest after walking out of the South Side coffee shop around 3:30 p.m., according to police.

An unknown gunman opened fire on what law enforcement sources called a “documented gang member” later revealed to be an employee at a nearby Jimmy John’s, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The young man’s boss said his employee, who was shot in the hand and buttocks and was in stable condition Friday night, might have been a gang member years ago but had caused no problems at the sandwich shop.

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications said Friday evening that Nelson was “a dedicated and hardworking employee.”

A friend of the city worker made an appeal on Facebook for the gunman to turn himself in, and said he was “thoroughly tired of all these people gang or not who shoot kill people who are hard workers and innocent.”

“She was ours and didn’t deserve to be killed… just leaving a job where she tries to help the very same people in these Chicago streets,” Louis Shuttlesworth said.

Other social media posters expressed their frustration at the senseless violence, with some making the heartbreaking demand that if gunmen are going to shoot, they should at least hit their targets.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson had been in the area at the time of shooting, which was a matter of feet from police headquarters.

“This incident right here highlights what I’ve been saying for the past month and a half about how brazen these violent offenders are," he said.

The Chicago Tribune reports that 1,284 people had been shot in the city from the beginning of the year to May 20.

Peter Holley May-21-2016 286 0
Candace Pickens had fallen in love with being a mother to her little boy, Zachaeus.

Her Facebook page is full of photos documenting the bond between mother and child as it strengthened over birthdays, holidays and visits with their extended, close-knit family.

“When she found out she was pregnant, she was scared at first,” the 23-year-old’s aunt, Irene Jenny Pickens, told The Washington Post. “But once she had that baby, it was so natural for her.

“She loved being a mother. And no matter what she was going through, I think he was the one thing that kept her going.”

One of the things Candace Pickens was going through in recent months, relatives said, was a volatile and abusive relationship — one she managed to keep hidden from some of the people who knew her best in and around Asheville, N.C., where she lived.

Her boyfriend, Nathaniel Elijah Dixon, had a violent history that included attempted robbery and allegations of domestic violence against another woman with whom he had a child, according to the Citizen-Times. In addition to Dixon’s extensive criminal history, police think he has possible ties to a Los Angeles street gang.

When Pickens recently discovered that she was pregnant with Dixon’s child, abortion was not an option, she told friends and family members.

She would have a second child, she insisted.

Now, relatives think it was that insistence that may have led to her death.

Her body was found early on the morning of May 12 by a jogger in a park in Asheville. She had been shot in the head at point-blank range, police said — executed.

Beside her, investigators said, was Zachaeus, badly injured but clinging to life.

Just one day after his birthday, the 3-year-old had witnessed his mother being shot in the face before he endured the same fate and was left for dead.

Pickens was declared dead at the scene. Her son was taken to a hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery; he is in stable but critical condition, police said.

Mekia Waters, the child’s grandmother, told The Post that Zachaeus was shot in the head and lost his left eye; but she forcefully denied local reports that his chance of survival is just 50 percent.

“My grandson is in stable condition and doing great and he has the doctors surprised,” Waters said Wednesday. “He’s moving his arms and legs and he’s doing more than what people expected.”

“He’s talking, he asked for juice and he said ‘daddy,'” she added. “He even made his own song up about juice.”

Waters also said her family members have not set up a GoFundMe page and have not been contacted by the creators of several existing pages that claim to be raising money for her grandson.

“My grandson is not a charity fund,” she said. “We’re not asking for a dime — only prayer.”

Dixon, who also lives in Asheville, fled to Columbus, Ohio, where he was arrested last week, authorities said. WLOS reported that Columbus police rescued a 21-year-old female hostage when Dixon was taken into custody.

The 24-year-old is awaiting extradition back to North Carolina, where he has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, authorities said.

To Pickens’s friends and relatives, the motive was clear.

“He found out she was pregnant and he wanted her to abort the baby,” Irene Jenny Pickens told The Post. “She would never do that. It wasn’t an option for her, and that’s what sparked the violence.”

She added: “You could tell things were going on between them based on what she was posting on Facebook — but I don’t think anyone expected anything like this.”

Christina Hallingse, a spokeswoman for the Asheville Police Department, told The Post that authorities can’t confirm whether Pickens’s apparent refusal to undergo an abortion was a motive in her killing, citing the ongoing investigation.

“The Asheville Police Department does not provide comment on an offender’s motive because that information is sensitive to the case itself,” Hallingse said. “Our responsibility at this point in the investigation is to present the best case possible to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution of the suspected offender.”

But the theory that Dixon decided to kill his girlfriend because she wouldn’t have an abortion was echoed on a GoFundMe page set up by one of her close friends.


Richard Luscombe May-18-2016 207 0
George Zimmerman appears to have sold the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin four years ago, bringing an end to the latest controversy to swirl around the notorious former neighbourhood watch leader.

Zimmerman, who shot and killed the unarmed black teenager during an altercation at his Florida housing estate in February 2012, looks set to collect $138,900 for the Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm handgun after bidding closed midday on the website unitedgungroup.com.

But the final hour of the auction was disrupted by the reappearance of the type of fake bidders who wrecked Zimmerman’s two previous attempts to cash in on the firearm during auctions last week on a rival website. At one stage on Wednesday the highest offer of $137,600 was in the name of a user called Racist McShootface, whose profile was quickly deleted.

The eventual top bidder was a user named John Smith, whose successful offer was made in the auction’s final minute. No further details were listed for him on the website other than that he claimed to be based in Alabama.

For most of the final morning of the two-day auction the top bidder was a user named David Thorne, whose profile featured a photograph of a man in full military combat fatigue and helmet clutching an automatic rifle.

Zimmerman, who was acquitted of all charges over the death of Trayvon, 17, at his 2013 trial, attracted heavy criticism for his efforts to sell the weapon, which he called “an American Firearm icon” in an accompanying description on the auction site.

Leonard Pitts, a Pulitzer-winning columnist for the Miami Herald, wrote on Wednesday that the auction was “a national shame”.

“The marketing of the gun that killed him by the man who pulled the trigger does not feel like simply another example of flagrantly bad taste. No, it feels like a victory lap on a dead boy’s grave,” Pitts wrote.

“So when this thing is sold it really won’t matter who writes the check. We all will pay the price.”

Zimmerman has repeatedly defended his right to sell the weapon and in an extraordinary rant published by the Daily Beast on Tuesday he accused Trayvon’s parents of profiting from his death. “Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin did everything they could to capitalize on her son’s death,” Zimmerman said.

“They didn’t raise their son right. He attacked a complete stranger and tried to kill him.”

A portion of the proceeds from the sale, Zimmerman said on the auction website, would be used to “fight BLM [Black Lives Matter] violence against Law Enforcement officers, ensure the demise of Angela Corey’s persecution career and Hillary Clinton’s anti-firearm rhetoric”. Corey was the Florida state prosecutor who led the unsuccessful attempt to convict Zimmerman.

In a statement issued through civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, Tracy Martin refused to comment on the auction, saying he preferred to focus on the work of the Trayvon Martin Foundation, set up partly to support other parents who had lost their children to violence.


Colleen Jenkins May-16-2016 162 0
George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, will try again this week to sell the handgun he had used in the incident, after an earlier online auction was hijacked by fake buyers.

Zimmerman, acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the controversial case, told Reuters in an email Monday a new auction would begin on UnitedGunGroup.com at 9 a.m. ET Tuesday and end at noon the following day.

United Gun Group owner Todd Underwood told CNN on Monday that the website would continue to facilitate lawful sales despite the criticism it has faced for allowing Zimmerman to list his gun.

The former neighborhood watch volunteer sparked intense debate on social media last week when he offered to sell the Kel-Tec PF9 9mm handgun, which he described in the auction listing as "an American firearm icon" that he had used to defend his life against Martin.

Martin's family has said the black 17-year-old was simply walking home after buying a drink and candy from a local store before his fatal encounter with Zimmerman. The case ignited debates on race relations, gun control and American justice.

A lawyer for the family denounced Zimmerman's effort to sell the gun, and another auction site, GunBroker.com, rejected the listing.

Two of America's leading auctioneers of guns said they also had refused on ethical grounds to handle the sale after Zimmerman called their establishments recently hoping to consign the gun with them.

Bidding on the gun during an initial auction on UnitedGunGroup.com topped $65 million on Friday, apparently inflated by bogus buyers with names such as "Racist McShootFace."

The United Gun Group said in a statement on Facebook on Saturday that Zimmerman had temporarily withdrawn the auction to remove the false bidders but planned to relist "his property" this week. (Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

AP May-13-2016 8205 0
A woman and her seven adult children stepped forward Friday to claim a $429.6 million Powerball jackpot.

Eight members of the Smith family announced that they had the sole winning ticket purchased in Trenton for last Saturday's drawing. They plan to tithe 10 percent of the money to their church.

One of the daughters said the family matriarch spent $6 for two tickets for drawings held last Wednesday and Saturday. They have hired attorneys to help them with the money and will take a trip to the usual family spot, though they wouldn't say where that was.

The trip to claiming the jackpot began last week at a 7-Eleven in Trenton when someone bought two $2 tickets, one each for drawings held last Wednesday and Saturday, and spent an extra $1 on each ticket to get the "Power Play" option that multiplies the winnings.

The purchaser chose the lower lump sum option over the higher-valued annuity, making Saturday's sole winning ticket worth $284 million before taxes.

"They spent $6 to win $284 million. That's a pretty good investment," Carole Hedinger, the New Jersey Lottery's executive director, said earlier this week.

Most of the convenience store's customers are locals who come in a few times a week to buy coffee or a soda and maybe a sandwich or snack. That led area residents to speculate that the person who holds the winning ticket may be living among them.

The ticket is the largest single jackpot winning ticket sold in New Jersey and the sixth-largest in Powerball history.

The winning numbers were 5-25-26-44-66, and the Powerball number was 9.

Powerball is played in 44 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million.

>>--More Black Legal News

Daryl K. Washington Nov-11-2015 12768 0
For years the question whether college athletes should be paid has been debated over and over only to be kicked down by legal rulings. The NCAA, the television networks, the media and large colleges have all profited off of the backs of primarily Black athletes, while the only colleges that would accept them are being forced to shut down because of a lack of resources. College coaches are earning millions of dollars per season, have large endorsement deals and live in upscale neighborhoods while college athletes, many who come from low income families, are penalize for accepting a meal from a booster, can’t afford to take a date out to dinner or a movie and can only wish that their families could afford to sit in the stands occupied by many who will not speak to them or support them after their college careers are over.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that in order for there to be a change within the system, the ones with the power would have to do something drastic. Two years ago the Grambling State University football team decided to stage a protest because of the lack of equipment and the conditions of Grambling’s facilities. Although I hated to see it come down to that, I understood their frustrations and realized that we were witnessing the beginning of a new movement. The day had come for college athletes to realize that they have as much power as professional athletes, to demand change.

Two years later, the football players at the University of Missouri made a bold statement that will have an everlasting impact on college sports. They walked away from a game they love to support their fellow students. They have now shown athletes at other schools the power they have when they join together in solidarity. As a result, the NCAA’s biggest fear just came to reality. There was not going to be any change or progress at the University of Missouri until the individuals responsible for generating a large share of the revenue said “Enough is Enough.” Within a few days of their walk-out, President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, the top administrator of the Columbia campus, announced their resignation. That's power.

The NCAA has long made the issues with college athletes, a legal one. The NCAA created rules that prevent athletes from earning a living until after they’ve made everyone else rich. College athletes are required to sign over all of their rights in exchange for a scholarship and cannot earn one single dime to support a parent who is sometimes forced to work two jobs and in some cases still don't have the resources to attend a game. LSU’s superstar Leonard Fournette is being questioned about a business venture his family started before his college career really took off. Now that he’s signed away his rights, it’s being frowned upon by the individuals who were earn millions off of him. In other words, we the NCAA and LSU own his rights. The system is old, is broken and it’s unfair. Schools like LSU and Alabama earn over $70 million per year off of football but the players receive $0. The coaches earn over $3 million per season but the players earn $0.

I'm predicting that we are a season or two away from college athletes staging one of the largest boycotts in college sports because they have come to realize that the power is in their hands. The Missouri football players did not have to miss one single game to get what they demanded but the fight is far from over. Today, the students in Missouri are being faced with the harsh reality of the racist society we still live in. They should be preparing for exams but instead they are fearing for their lives. One hundred thousand fans will cheer on black athletes on Saturdays but many will criticize their efforts and make fun of them on Monday morning. I applaud the efforts of our college athletes. It makes me feel good to see that Our future generation will not stop fighting the fight that many started years ago. We can only pray that one day we will be able to take off the gloves. Until that time, the fight must go on so that the future generation can experience what Dr. King died for many years ago; True equality for everyone.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Danny Woodson Oct-22-2015 1102 0
Highly-recruited since the sixth grade, Christian Jackson, has received countless visits from high school and college personnel. They’ve fawned over him and his abilities in an attempt to coax him to attend their institutions to bolster their pedigree of outstanding enrollees! Interested “third parties” will make countless monetary resources available to them, if they can secure top recruits such as he.

If they could only get Christian’s commitment to attend, surely others will follow his lead and attend there as well. It’s like a domino effect: like lemmings following the leader over a cliff, sheep cajoled by their shepherd and ducklings behind their mother. It’s the natural tendency to fall in line with what seems safe, comfortable and beneficial. Other top talents will get on the “bandwagon” with Christian because they know “he’s a winner and leader”. Unspeakable wealth and long-life prosperity await him and all who are on board with him. Everyone knows that this is just a stepping-stone for Christian because he’ll likely enter the professional ranks much more quickly than most. With his acumen and ability, he’ll surely leave school in three years or less.

The boosters, alumni and current student body are abuzz with the possibilities of Christian attending their illustrious institutions. They tweet him, post to his Facebook Page and his other social media accounts in hopes of winning him over to their side! They’ve seen his promising stats and know of his many attributes. “If we can get C. Jack, we’ll definitely win it all this year!!!”

Christian’s scouting report reads like a proverbial cornucopia of attributes; Christian Jackson, 5’11”, 210 lbs., Cumulative GPA, 4.3 on a 4.0 scale, 2 summer internships in his future major with two top, nationwide firms, 250 hours of community service, explosive grasp of all curriculums, able to improvise and adjust on a dime, great vision, high IQ, intuitive and possesses an innate ability to make those around him better.

This is different than the prevailing theme in today’s world, isn’t it? Why isn’t this the norm? Something’s missing. What, no mention of his playing a sport? Well, why in the heck would a university make such a big deal about someone like Christian? Sadly, there’s a stark difference between Christian and those they poach from our destitute and downtrodden neighborhoods with promises of future wealth in professional sports. Because of their athletic prowess, universities will sacrifice their own ethical and moral standards to attract those who can run fast or who can catch or shoot a ball well. They’ll spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make repeat recruiting trips, countless phone calls, send thousands of texts and make empty promises in hopes of landing top talents to play sports for them. What if they did that for students like Christian, who can make a much greater impact on the world and who can truly be a beacon for others to attend their institutions? Well, those “third parties” aren’t paying the big bucks for the student who’ll change the world, only the student whose performance on the court or field, will keep the world from changing the channel!

What if the major networks paid these large institutions millions of dollars to broadcast that young men like Christian are scoring big in the classroom or in the community? I can see the rewards to the world that exist “outside of the white lines”, increase astronomically, as we observe those benefits being reaped nation and worldwide. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen because we’d rather be entertained than have our lives and our children’s lives improved. We just want to gloat that our team beat your team, yet again, and to have bragging rights for another year. That “entertainment” brings in and provides the suppliers of that entertainment MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, so it won’t ever stop.

What if it did? What if society grew and developed a higher level of consciousness and truly valued the promise of those who can change their world for lifetimes, not just for the temporary consequence of a win in four quarters or two halves of a sporting contest? Then, the recruiters would be parked outside of “C. Jack’s” house like the paparazzi. What if multiple websites posted footage of young, talented people at science fairs and other scholastic events and ranked them nationally according to their ACADEMIC, instead of their ATHLETIC potential? How awesome would that be? Christian would be ranked #3 or 250,000 scholars nationwide and colleges near and far would come calling!

You see, Christian’s goals are to graduate with a triple major in Economics, Sociology and Systematic Demographic Realignment so that he can strengthen his community and make it a viable, resilient and prosperous juggernaut in the local economy. He hopes to duplicate that throughout the country and to be a key player in the NFL. That stands for National Fortification League, which fortifies communities and whose teams consist of players with the same goals as he and his many cohorts. His team is fighting for a long-denied championship whereby all people, regardless of color and economic background, win control of their own communities; a place where people understand how to use their capital and assets to leverage building better schools, neighborhoods and establish a firm socioeconomic foothold in this country.

Christian no longer wants young African-American men and others to be pawns in a chess game that is played by a chess master whose interests lie only in capturing the king by using the pawns’ athletic prowess; a sacrificial lamb, if you will. When they’ve served their purpose, they’re thrown away. For years, their families have been brainwashed into believing that “sports” is the only way out of poverty as opposed to implanting the belief that an education and its application to the betterment of their present circumstances, is the most tangible and most realistic way to self-sufficiency.

It’s time to reassess where our own strengths lie and to demand to be recruited for our mental attributes instead of just our physical capabilities. The sad truth is that society and the media continue to thwart that constructive mantra with the “get rich with a big professional contract, shortsighted, self-centered gain” approach. Christian is not swayed. He wants to insure that all who look like him or who share his circumstances, are empowered and given the opportunity to earn an advanced degree, bring that newfound intellect back to the neighborhood and build a brain trust to revitalize, restore and reinvigorate a dying community and a marginalized people. Recruit him for that reason and for that reason alone, if you dare!

So, universities, how about offering scholarships en masse to burgeoning and brilliant young people with budding minds to make a name for themselves as well as your institutions? Offer scholarships and recruit those who may not be the brightest, but who show promise and desire, much like a “special teams player” or a “walk-on”. Wouldn’t you prefer to have the bragging rights that hundreds of your alumni have changed the circumstances of those locally, state-wide, nationally and globally or are you too caught in winning a network contract to have all of your team’s games broadcasted for the next 10 years for $100 million? Christian doesn’t care about television contracts. He only cares that those in power live up to their moral contracts with the people. To him that’s the only score and winning percentage that really matters. That’s when we’d all win a real NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!
Sep-09-2014 2880 0
On yesterday social media went crazy after the video of Ray Rice was released. Within hours Rice was released from the Ravens. Don't think for one second that it was not as a result of the public outcry on social media. The Ravens and the NFL did not have a choice but to release Rice because they had been exposed. However, the saddening part about of all of this is that the powers to be proclaimed they had not seen the video until yesterday.

Why do we live in a society where there's always a cover-up? If we are going to be angry at the police chief in Ferguson, MO for trying to cover up for one of his officers who killed Michael Brown we should also be upset with Commissioner Roger Goodell and Coach John Harbaugh because it appears that they took part in a scheme to deceive the public and by tuning in to the games as usual we are saying it's okay to cover-up a crime. Sean Payton, head coach of the Saints, was forced to sit out a year because an alleged wrongdoing took place under his watch. In my opinion, the same needs to happen to the Roger Goodell and Coach Harbaugh because somehow I think they knew and if they did not know it's even worse because they allowed a poor investigation to support a two game suspension.

Let's look at the severity of what they did. Their actions in trying to protect the NFL brand send the wrong message to ladies who are victims of domestic abuse. What the message says is that you should protect the abuser if there's something to lose. In this case, it was football games and plenty of revenue for a major brand. Their actions could help persuade a victim of domestic abuse to participate in a press conference in order to save a star and risk her life. This was not the right thing to do because someone following that same example could end up dead.

Releasing and/or suspending Rice for the year was the proper thing to do months ago but there are additional suspensions that need to be handed down before we stop talking about this. Take a year off Mr. Commissioner and Coach Harbaugh because you dropped the ball on this one. Better yet, if you won't suspend yourselves, donate your salaries for the year to a charity that supports domestic violence victims if you are really serious about the mistake that was made.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Feb-16-2014 3568 0
After the Michael Dunn verdict was read many voice their displeasure with the judicial system, rightfully so. However, the killing of our young black men is nothing new. Each time something bad happens we come together as a group for a month or so and then the energy dies down. When the Zimmerman verdict came back there were those who demanded that we stop supporting the state of Florida yet what happened to the follow-up to let us know how effective the efforts were? It reminds me of whenever someone dies. When we run into people we have not seen in years we all make a vow to do better and to make time for each other but after two or three months has past by we are all back to doing the same things.

As a country, we came together after 9/11 but soon thereafter the unity went away. There's so much happening in our communities. I thought the Zimmerman verdict would be our wake up call to do more but our young black men continue to be gunned down at a high rate by Men who don't look anything close to their fathers and most of them get away with it. Just in case you mention the black on black crime, remember that the killer normally ends up in prison.

Just recently, the grand jury failed to indict a North Carolina police officer for the killing of Jonathan Ferrell, a young black male, but after there was a public outcry about the injustice that took place he was eventually indicted. Right here in Dallas, Texas we have black men being killed by white police officers and in a great majority of the cases, the police officers are not indicted and judged by a jury of their peers. Instead, the victim is placed on trial and society has become conditioned to believe that it's okay to kill someone if they have a prior criminal record or considered a menace to society. Well, it's not and it's time that it stops.

We need to be proactive and make sure laws that don't benefit us are changed. I will continue to say this until I can't say this anymore; we have to get out and VOTE during the mid-term elections. We need to make sure the right people are elected and the wrong people are removed from office, irrespective of their race. If the same people are in office (local officials) yet we are having some of the same problems, it's time for change. Vote for someone who wants to make a change. Don't just vote based on race or political affiliation; that's what has gotten us to this point where we are today. We have to be proactive or the next Jordan Davis might be our brother, our son, our nephew, our father or our friend. Let's do it. Get involved or get out of the way!!!!!



Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.


















Daryl K. Washington Nov-26-2013 3887 0
ARE WE DOING ENOUGH FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITIES?: I just finished talking to a mother who lost her son as a result of a police shooting. Hearing this mother talk about her son and how much he loved the holidays was simply heart wrenching. She went on to tell me that she's pleaded for help from our local politicians, pastors, leaders, etc. but no one wants to take her call, especially if the cameras are not rolling. To worsen matters, many of the leaders have put her son on trial and he's dead.

On last week they staged a protest in Dallas and sadly, 95% of the protestors were white. That made me wonder why do people make it in life and fail to reach back to help others? Why do people hear about injustices yet fail to say anything about it other than to say "that's sad!" During the 60's the leaders were individuals (black and white) who had college degrees, had bright futures ahead of them but they risk it all for us to be in the positions we are in today. The sad thing is that many of us believe it's all about us.

We must do more. We have to do more. We have to demand that our politicians and pastors step up to help us fight this battle. It truly takes a team effort. We must hold all of our community leaders accountable. When they ask for your vote, ask them to list ten things they did for the community in the last four years. Ask them how many times have they've attended a rally to show support to a grieving mother or father. We have serious issues and it takes all of us to stop this mess. I'm tired of seeing people who have never fought against a single injustice accept the Martin Luther King drum major for justice award. It's time for change.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
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