Tag Archive: Alexander Shuster


 

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An Arizona jury has found Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz not guilty of involuntary manslaughter for shooting and killing 16-year-old José Elena Rodríguez through the U.S.-Mexico border fence in 2012.  The jury hung on whether to bring a charge of voluntary manslaughter, leaving it unclear whether prosecutors would seek to try Swartz a third time. A previous jury acquitted Swartz on murder charges but deadlocked on lesser manslaughter charges.

Authorities claimed José Elena Rodríguez was throwing rocks at agents over the border fence before Swartz opened fire.  Medical examiners say José was shot 11 times with all but one of the bullets striking from behind, leading them to conclude the teen was shot in the back as he lay on the ground.  An autopsy revealed that gunshot wounds to the head, lungs, and arteries killed him.

The incident occurred around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday 10 October, 2012.  Nogales police received a call reporting “suspicious activity” on International Street, a road running directly along the border.  Officers on scene were investigating a report that two men carrying “bundles taped to their backs” had climbed the fence into the United States.  Identifying the bundles, on the basis of similar incidents in the past, as most probably containing marijuana, they called for back-up.  After several Border Patrol and Customs agents arrived, they saw the two men scaling the fence back into Mexico, empty-handed and with nothing on their backs. They commanded the two men to climb back down.  Officers reported seeing “rocks flying through the air” at the agents and also heard “gunfire,” although they were unable to identify its source.

After verbal commands from agents to cease throwing rocks were ignored, Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz then discharged his service weapon.  Swartz fired 16 rounds, hitting Rodríguez 11 times.  Rodríguez was unarmed, standing on the Mexican side of the border on a sidewalk on Calle International street, in front of a doctor’s office.  U.S. Border Patrol agent Lonnie Ray Swartz was charged with second degree murder for the killing.  Border Patrol agents are rarely criminally charged for using force but the killing sparked outrage on both sides of the border and came as the agency was increasingly scrutinized for its use of force.

Prosecutors said Swartz was frustrated over repeated encounters with people on the Mexico side of the border fence who throw rocks at agents to distract them from smugglers. They say he lost his cool when he fatally shot Rodriguez. Prosecutors acknowledge that the teen was throwing rocks at the agents but that wasn’t justification for taking his life.  A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said prosecutors haven’t decided whether to try Swartz again on the voluntary manslaughter charge.

Swartz still faces a civil rights lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the teen’s mother.  Attorneys for Rodriguez’s mother filed the suit in federal district court in Tucson, seeking civil damages against the agents involved in what their lawsuit terms the “senseless and unjustified” death.  The suit alleges that in shooting and killing the teenager, agents “used unreasonable and excessive force” in violation of Jose Antonio’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights and that their actions were not legally justifiable or necessary. The suit doesn’t specify an amount sought in damages.

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This year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed 116 cases of a rare polio-like disease, Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM).  An additional 170 possible cases of AFM are still under investigation.  The condition, which mostly affects children, causes muscles and reflexes to weaken and in some cases become paralyzed.  Most of the children with confirmed cases experienced a viral illness with symptoms including fever and cough about three to 10 days before the onset of paralysis.  It is recommended to see a doctor right away if you or your child notice a sudden weakness or loss in muscle tone, especially in the arms or legs.  Symptoms may also include a drooping face or eyelids, trouble with eye movement or swallowing, slurred speech, and in severe cases trouble breathing requiring a ventilator.

The FDA has launched a task force to further investigate and combat the spread of the illness.  Since 2014, there have been 440 confirmed cases of AFM.  More than 95% of the patients with AFM this year have been children younger than age 18 with the average age of those infected being 5 years old.  The CDC released the information to help parents identify what symptoms to look out for.  While there is no known cure, children who are diagnosed earlier on have been able to gain at least some movement with intense physical therapy.  Officials say that parents can try to prevent the disease by making their kids regularly wash their hands, keep them up to date on their vaccinations and spray them with insect repellent when they go outdoors to prevent mosquito bites.

Medical experts still don’t know much about the rare disease, which strikes just one in 1 million Americans. It’s believed that viruses like polio, West Nile, and various enteroviruses (which cause the common cold) may be linked to AFM.  The children involved in this outbreak have tested negative for polio and West Nile.  Medical experts who have been treating patients with AFM in the latest outbreak say they believe a virus called EV-D68 may be responsible for the recent uptick in cases.

According to the CDC, the patients with confirmed AFM are in 31 states.  The two states with the most confirmed cases are Colorado with 15 cases and Texas with 14 confirmed cases.  Washington, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania each have 8 confirmed cases.  Illinois has 7 confirmed cases while New Jersey and Wisconsin each have 6 confirmed cases.  Alabama, Georgia, Maryland and Arkansas each reported 3 cases.  South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Iowa, New York and Massachusetts each have 2 confirmed cases.  Rhode Island, Virginia, Indiana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Nevada and Montana each have 1 confirmed case.

Nineteen states have no confirmed cases.  The CDC has encouraged doctors to report cases although there is no requirement to do so.  It is not clear whether there is more of a risk of AFM in states that have a higher number of cases or if those states are just better at identifying and reporting patients.

 

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Twelve people are dead after a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.  Police identified the gunman as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a Marine veteran who had deployed to Afghanistan and had a history of mental health issues.  Long was found dead inside the kitchen area of the bar when the SWAT team entered the building.  Most of the victims were college students attending country music night.  Authorities said as many as 22 people had been injured and taken to the hospital.  Nine men and three women were killed in the shooting including a 27-year-old Navy veteran who survived the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting during the Route 91 Harvest festival.

Police say that at around 11:20 p.m., Long shot security guard Sean Adler, 48, just outside the bar with a legally purchased .45-caliber Glock 21 semi-automatic pistol with a banned high-capacity magazine.  Long entered the bar and began throwing smoke bombs before firing approximately 30 rounds into the crowd of more than 150 people.  Patrons dropped to the ground, dashed under tables, hid in the bathroom and ran for exits, stepping over bodies sprawled across the floor.

Three minutes after the first 911 calls, 54 year old Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer arrived at the scene.  The officers heard gunshots coming from the building.  Helus ran inside and was immediately shot by the gunman.   The Highway Patrol Officer dragged Helus outside to safety but died from his injuries hours later.  The other victims included Cody Coffman, 22; Alaina Housley, 18; Justin Meek, 23; Daniel Manrique, 33; Noel Sparks, 21; Jake Dunham, 21; Blake Dingman, 21; Kristina Morisette, 20; Marky Meza Jr., 20 and Telemachus Orfanos, 27.  Orfanos’s family said he had survived the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival that left 58 people dead.

In fact, many regular patrons of the Borderline Bar & Grill were survivors of the Route 91 mass shooting.    A regular patron, Brendan Kelly, 22, was among those who survived both the Vegas massacre and the shooting at the Borderline.  “It was our home for the probably 30 or 45 of us who are from the greater Ventura County area who were in Vegas. That was our safe place where we went to the following week, three nights in a row just so we could be with each other.”

Police say that Long frequented the Borderline Bar & Grill and had previous run-ins with the law, including a disturbance in April at Long’s home where he lived with his mother.  Police say he was irate and acting irrationally.  He was evaluated by mental health professionals but was cleared by the specialists.  Long served in the Marine Corps and was on active duty from August 2008 to March 2013, according to Defense Department records.  Long had been married in 2009 in Honolulu, Hawaii, but was divorced in April 2013 in Ventura County, California.

Friends of Long described him as a loner but said he was stable and didn’t show any signs of aggression.  Neighbors tell a different story, with some saying they’d frequently heard him arguing with his mother at all hours and others keeping their distance because he seemed troubled.  Police have not disclosed a motive in the shooting.

 

 

 

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A 24-year-old woman is facing 3 counts of reckless homicide and one misdemeanor count of disregarding a stop sign and causing injury after the pickup truck she was driving struck and killed three siblings who were crossing the road to get to their school bus in rural Rochester, Indiana.  Six-year-old twin brothers Xzavier Ingle and Mason Ingle, and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, died at the scene Tuesday morning.  The children’s classmate and neighbor, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe, was also hit.  He was airlifted to the hospital and remains hospitalized in critical condition.  The children were crossing State Route 25 to get to their school bus when they were hit at about 7:15 a.m. in front of the Meiser mobile home park where they lived.

The Tippecanoe Valley School Corp. bus had stopped on the two lane road, lowered its stop-arm and had the emergency lighting activated just before the northbound Toyota Tacoma pickup truck slammed into the children as they crossed the southbound lane.  Alyssa L. Shepherd, of Rochester, was arrested at her workplace, was charged and released on a $15,000 bond.  Shepard told an Indiana State Police detective that she saw flashing emergency lights on the rural highway but didn’t realize it was a school bus picking up the children until it was too late.  By the time she realized a bus was stopped, the children were already in front of her vehicle.  Their father rushed out of their home and identified them after police arrived to investigate, officials said.  State Police Detective Michelle Jumper testified at a probable cause hearing into charges against Alyssa Shepherd, the bus driver told investigators he saw the oncoming truck’s headlights. The bus driver stated that because the truck was far back and had plenty of time to slow, the driver waved to the children, telling them to cross.  The bus driver honked the horn when it was clear the truck wasn’t stopping.  Jumper testified that Shepherd told her she typically did not drive on the route where the crash occurred and that she had three children in the back seat of her truck when she allegedly struck and killed the three siblings.

A witness driving behind Shepherd said she and Shepherd were traveling 45 mph. The witness said the truck’s headlights illuminated the children as they were crossing the road and she said she started to freak out as she realized ‘I’m slowing down, but that truck in front of me is not slowing.”  Shepherd remained at the scene after the crash, cooperating with investigators. She was given a blood test as is standard in all fatal crashes, but police said they do not think alcohol or drugs were a factor.  Shepard who works as children’s director at Faith Outreach, a Foursquare Gospel Church in Rochester then went to work to pray.

Parents who live in the mobile home park had previously asked the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation to change the bus route so the children didn’t have to cross State Route 25 to catch the bus. Parents complained that it was dangerous for children to cross a highway where vehicles routinely travel at 50 to 60 mph.  Elgin Ingle, the uncle of the children who died said “There’s plenty of room for the school bus to pull into the mobile home park and pick up these kids.  This school has been warned that this is an issue.  My brother is torn apart, he didn’t lose one kid, he lost all his kids,” Ingle said. “How do you tell your little brother it’ll get better? You can’t. My brother, the most loving man in the world and the best father I’ve ever known, now is a father to no one.”  Blaine Conley, superintendent of the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation, released a statement that stating that the bus stop will be relocated from State Road 25 into the mobile home park where the children lived.

 

 

 

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A Kentucky man was charged with two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment for killing two African-American customers at a Kroger grocery store. He is being held in jail with bail set at $5 million. Police say 51-year-old Gregory Bush was captured on a surveillance camera trying to force open the doors of the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown for several minutes, before turning his attention to a nearby Kroger supermarket. He was charged with killing Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, 67, at the supermarket in Jeffersontown, Ky., a suburb of Louisville.

Bush allegedly walked into the Kroger, pulled a gun and shot Stallard in the back of the head, then shot him several more times. Then he went outside and killed Jones, who also died from multiple gunshot wounds.  Bush exchanged gunfire in the parking lot with an armed bystander who saw him shoot Jones.  Another armed bystander, Louisville resident Ed Harrell told reporters that as he crouched in the Kroger parking lot clutching his own revolver, the gunman walked by him and said, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”

Prosecutors are investigating the murders as a “possible hate crime” because Bush had no known connection to either victim, or to the store, and had tried and failed to enter a nearby black church moments earlier.  Any charges related to hate crimes would be federal charges and separate from the state charges against Bush.  Officials have said they believe the crimes may fit that definition. Hate crimes are defined by the FBI as a traditional criminal offense but with an added element of bias.

Gregory Bush has a history of mental illness and of making racist slurs.  He also has a long rap sheet of misdemeanor charges, including domestic violence, for punching his father in the face and lifting his mother by her neck.   Records show he attempted suicide in 2001 and convictions for menacing and making terroristic threats.  In 2009, a judge ordered Bush to surrender his guns and undergo mental health treatment, after his parents claimed Bush threatened to shoot them in the head. Bush’s father said his son “carries a gun wherever he goes.” It’s not clear whether Bush’s guns were returned when the court order expired in 2011.

Jeffersontown residents gathered to honor the victims of the senseless shooting.  Maurice Stallard had served in the Air Force and married his high school sweetheart.  He worked in the security department of GE Appliances.  He is survived by his wife, a son and daughter and four grandchildren.

Vickie Lee Jones was a regular churchgoer and breast cancer survivor who had retired from a veteran’s administration hospital to help care for her ailing mother.   She is survived by her mother, four children, 11 grandchildren and 5 siblings.

 

 

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is in mourning after a deadly rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.  Robert Bowers, 46, stormed the synagogue armed with an AR-15 and at least 3 handguns yelling “All Jews must die” as he opened fire on worshipers preparing for Shabbat services.  Eleven people were killed and seven were injured, the victims ranged from 54 to 97 years in age. Officers arrived on the scene as Bowers was on his way out of the building.  He fired on police from the entryway, shooting two officers and police returned fire.

Bowers retreated back into the building and SWAT officers arrived 30 minutes later.  Swat officers entered the building and were again fired upon by the gunman. Officers returned fire and wounded him, leading him to retreat to a room on the third floor of the synagogue.  Two SWAT members were wounded in the shootout, one critically.  Almost 40 minutes after the shootout with SWAT officers, an injured Bowers crawled out of the room and surrendered.

Bowers appeared in federal court in Pittsburgh on October 29th, to hear the charges against him.   He has been charged by the US Department of Justice with 29 federal crimes.  The federal charges include eleven counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, eleven counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence, four counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer, and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence.  The crimes of violence are based upon the federal civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes.  Bowers was also charged with 36 state criminal counts, including 11 counts of criminal homicide, 6 counts of aggravated assault, 6 counts of attempted criminal homicide and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation.  He pled not guilty and remains in the custody of the United States Marshals Service without bail pending further hearings.

Just before the shooting rampage, Robert Bowers wrote on a far-right social media site, ”HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” HIAS refers to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a humanitarian aid nonprofit group that has provided assistance to refugees for more than 130 years.  As he received medical care in police custody, he allegedly told a SWAT officer that he wanted all Jews to die, and that Jews were committing genocide against his people, according to a criminal complaint filed in Allegheny County.

Bowers attended Baldwin High School from August 1986 to November 1989 before dropping out and worked as a trucker.  Neighbors described Bowers as “a ghost” and said that he rarely interacted with others.  Officials say he was reportedly heavily involved in promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories online through social media.  He had published posts supporting the white genocide theory and also stated that supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory were “deluded” and being tricked.  Other posts attacked African Americans with racial slurs and images related to lynching, and attacked women who have relationships with black men.

In the weeks before the shooting, Bowers made anti-Semitic posts directed at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)-sponsored National Refugee Shabbat of October 19–20, in which Tree of Life participated.  He claimed that Jews were aiding members of Central American caravans moving towards the United States border and to have referred to members of those caravans as invaders.

 

 

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Federal authorities have made an arrest in the pipe bomb mailings four days after the investigation began.  Cesar Sayoc, a 56 year old DJ and former stripper, is accused of sending 13 pipe bombs through the mail to a range of Democrats and critics of the president.  Authorities say Sayoc left a trail of forensic and digital evidence behind that authorities used to track him down and arrest him.  Prosecutors charged Sayoc with five federal crimes and he faces more than 50 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Sayoc, who has a long criminal history, was arrested in Florida after investigators linking DNA found on two bomb packages to a sample that was previously collected by the state of Florida.  They also matched his fingerprints to one from a separate pipe bomb mailing he sent.  Authorities say  he had previously filed for bankruptcy and appeared to be living in his van, showering on the beach or at a local fitness center.

Authorities launched an investigation after packages containing homemade pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats.  The packages were sent to Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George Soros, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Congress member Maxine Waters and former CIA Director John Brennan.  Investigators say the devices may have originated in southern Florida and were sent through the U.S. Postal Service. The 10 packages being examined had a return address for Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and on some of the packages, her last name was misspelled.

CNN had to evacuate its New York office in Manhattan after it received what police described as a “live explosive device.”  The package was delivered by courier to CNN’s offices at the Time Warner Center in New York and was addressed to the former CIA director John Brennan.  The package also contained an envelope containing white powder.   Police are also investigating a suspicious package found early this morning that was mailed to actor Robert De Niro’s restaurant in New York. De Niro has frequently publicly criticized the president.  Two additional packages were intercepted Thursday, headed for former Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware.  Authorities discovered the two packages at post offices in Delaware addressed to the former vice president.  At least one of them had been misaddressed and returned to sender.  No one was hurt in any of the cases.

Authorities say the devices sent to Soros, Brennan and the Democratic officials appeared to be pipe bombs that were rudimentary but functional.  All the explosive devices had similar construction, had timer devices and at least one contained projectiles, including shards of glass.  Sources say the bombs were unstable and could have been set off by handling.  The FBI said all the packages were in manila envelopes with bubble-wrap interior and had six American flag Forever stamps on the envelopes.

Investigators are analyzing the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply cause fear before the Midterm Election.  Law enforcement officials said that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. They are uncertain whether the devices were just poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.

 

 

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Over 13 years after Hurricane Katrina, a man who shot three black men as they were evacuating Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans has pleaded guilty to a hate crime.  Roland Bourgeois Jr., 55, abandoned his previous not-guilty plea as part of a deal with prosecutors, rather than face a trial that was set for Nov. 26.  The case is one of several high-profile, racism-fueled crimes that took place in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane.

Roland Bourgeois admitted he shot the men because of their race and reportedly told his neighbor, “Anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot.”  He was indicted five years after Katrina on allegations that he fired a shotgun at three black men in Algiers Point during the immediate aftermath of the storm.  His case has dragged on for years, being delayed over a dozen times amid questions about his physical and mental health.

Federal prosecutors allege that in the days after the storm ravaged the city, Bourgeois and his friends banded together to protect the Algiers Point neighborhood of New Orleans from “outsiders” after the storm.  Within days, a band of 15 to 30 locals had taken up weapons, barricaded the streets with debri and regularly patrolled the neighborhood.  Residents say they were trying to keep their homes from being overrun by thieves and outlaws.  Bourgeois was quoted as saying he wanted to stop people “from tearing up the city” and using a racial slur. Bourgeois reportedly said he would shoot anyone who was “darker than a brown paper bag” and came close to his home on Vallette Street.

When three black men who were headed to the Algiers Point ferry landing, where authorities had set up an evacuation point, walked by his home, Bourgeois fired his shotgun at them.  He struck all three at least once and then bragged that he “got” one of the men following the shooting and displayed the bloodied baseball cap that fell from the wounded man’s head, according to prosecutors.  All three men survived the unprovoked attack including the one most seriously wounded, Donnell Herrington.

Herrington says he was walking to the terminal with his 17 year old cousin, Marcel Alexander, and a friend, Chris Collins when a white man pointed a shotgun at them and fired without saying a word.  The first shotgun blast ripped into his throat, torso and arms.  Somehow, Herrington got to his feet and began running.  He remembers two more armed men joining the first gunman and then he was shot in the back as he tried to escape.  Herrington staggered to the home of an African-American couple who drove him to West Jefferson Medical Center.  Doctors discovered buckshot in his arms, chest, abdomen and back.  A cluster of pellets had torn open the internal jugular vein along the right side of his throat and he underwent emergency surgery to repair the shredded vein.  Both Alexander and Collins witnessed the shooting and also suffered minor gunshot wounds.

Bourgeois pleaded guilty under terms of a deal struck between Bourgeois and federal prosecutors.  The plea agreement states that Bourgeois pleads guilty to two charges and the government will dismiss the original indictments involving hate crimes and firearms charges.  The first charge alleges that he willfully injured, intimidated and interfered with the three men including the use of a dangerous weapon. The second says he knowingly possessed, carried and used the shotgun during the acts listed in count one.

The deal proposes that Bourgeois’ sentence must be more than 5 years, but less than 10 years.  The government announced they will pursue the maximum sentence.  If the judge accepts the agreement, Bourgeois would forfeit his right to appeal his convictions and sentencing will move forward.  His sentencing is set for Jan. 17, 2019.  If the deal is rejected, Bourgeois has the opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea and face trial.

 

 

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Turkish officials believe Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.  Khashoggi, a writer for The Washington Post who has written columns critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, entered the Saudi consulate around 1pm on Oct. 2nd and has not been seen since. Khashoggi was there to pick up paperwork he needed for his upcoming wedding to Hatice Cengiz that he had requested the week before.  Centgiz says she watched him enter the consulate but did not see him re-emerge.  Saudi officials have claimed he left the consulate shortly after visiting.

Khashoggi, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent journalists and a leading critic of Saudi Arabia’s current leadership, wrote columns for The Washington Post and has been a thorn in the side of the crown prince, for some time.  He had been living in self-imposed exile in Virginia after leaving Saudi Arabia last year.  He told friends and reporters that the space for freedom of speech under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was shrinking and he feared for his safety.

A half an hour before Khashoggi arrived for his appointment, Turkish national staff working in the building were told to take the rest of the day off.  Since mobile phones are not allowed inside the diplomatic building, Khashoggi left his iPhone with his fiancée, who was to wait for him outside, and told her to raise the alarm if he did not emerge after more than four hours. He kept his Apple watch on him which was synced to his phone.  Cengiz waited outside until about 1am for Khashoggi to return before contacting Turkish authorities.

During the initial investigation into his disappearance, U.S. intelligence reportedly intercepted Saudi communications regarding a plot to detain Khashoggi and that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, was directly involved – ordering an operation to “lure” Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him there.  CNN later reported that they saw a cleaning crew enter the main consulate building a day before Turkish officials, including a forensics team, arrived to begin their investigation.

Attention has been focused on what officials believe was a hit squad, a 15 person team of Saudi special forces officers, intelligence officials, national guards and a forensics expert that flew in and out of Istanbul the day Khashoggi disappeared.  The details of the alleged hit squad were listed on flight manifests leaked to the press.  The Saudi team is said to have arrived at Atatürk airport on Tuesday last week on two planes, one of which landed in the pre-dawn hours and the second in the early afternoon. The officials checked in to two hotels near the Saudi consulate.

Turkish intelligence believe that Khashoggi was tortured, killed and dismembered inside the consulate on Oct. 2nd.  News sources say Turkish officials have an audio recording of the alleged killing from the Apple Watch he wore when he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.  The audio recording is described as showing there had been an assault and a struggle inside the consulate as well as the moment that Khashoggi was killed.  Authorities recovered the audio from Khashoggi’s iPhone and his iCloud account.  News sources also alleged Saudi officials tried to delete the recordings by incorrectly guessing Khashoggi’s PIN on the watch.

Bill Cosby Sentenced

 

 

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Comedian Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home 14 years ago.  Cosby, 81, will be eligible for parole in three years and could be released from prison and allowed to serve out the rest of his 10-year sentence under supervision in the community.

Judge Steven O’Neill said the evidence that Cosby planned the drugging and sexual assault of his victim was “overwhelming,” based on Cosby’s own words in a civil deposition.  In the deposition, provided the year after the alleged assault, as Constand pursued a civil suit against him, Cosby admitted that he procured Quaaludes for women he wanted to have sex.  Cosby also admitted that he asked a modeling agent to connect him with young women who were new in town and “financially not doing well.  Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that the 2005 testimony could be presented to the jury in his criminal trial.

Months after his depositions, Cosby settled the case with Constand and the accusations quickly faded. In October 2014, a Philadelphia magazine reporter at a Hannibal Buress show uploaded a clip of the comedian calling Bill Cosby a rapist and commenting on his Teflon image.  The clip went viral and soon after many accusers stepped forward.  More than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault or harassment, stretching back to the 1960’s but Constand’s case was the only one that led to criminal charges against the comedian.  During interviews, all of the women gave similar accounts of blacking out after having a drink supplied by Cosby and later waking up during or after a sexual assault.  Most said they stayed quiet because they never thought anyone would believe them since Cosby was wealthy and at the height of his career.

On April 26, he was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for the 2004 drugging and sexual assault of Andrea Constand. Each charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison but Judge Steven O’Neill said that the charges had been merged into one because they all stem from the same event.  Constand, a 31-year-old Temple women’s basketball official he was mentoring at the time of the assault.  She testified in detail at the trial about losing control of her limbs after taking pills given to her by Cosby, who served on Temple’s board of trustees and was the public face of the university. The pills, Constand said, left her unable to stop him from violating her at his suburban Philadelphia estate.

At the sentencing hearing, O’Neill aid, “No one is above the law, and no one should be treated differently or disproportionally.”  “This was a serious crime,” O’Neill added. “Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come.”  Cosby was also ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 plus the costs of prosecution — a total of $43,611 — as part of the sentence.  Cosby’s attorneys have repeatedly said they plan to file an appeal in the criminal case.