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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Texas Slave Ranch Case - Getting Away With Murder

I'm putting the finishing touches on a long piece about the Texas Slave Ranch case, with the working title: Lone Star Grotesque: The True Story of the Texas Slave Ranch How a Degenerate Ranching Family Got Away With Murder The case featured some of the most famous criminal defense lawyers in the nation, including Richard "Racehorse" Haynes and Dan Cogdell. This excerpt is from the introduction: Chapter 1 - “Something in the Water” When Joe Davis moved from Austin to Kerrville, he had worked in law enforcement for twenty years. He was one of the youngest state troopers to ever wear the Cinco Peso badge of a Texas Ranger. Davis had fought outlaws from Houston to El Paso, from Amarillo to the Rio Grande. and put away bank robbers, murderers, serial killers, and drug dealers. He was there when a heroin kingpin named Fred Carrasco tried to shoot his way out of the Walls Unit during the deadliest prison riot in Texas history. So, Davis was looking forward to a slower pace in Kerrville, a bucolic town of 20,000 on the banks of the Guadalupe River, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. It’s Norman Rockwell country, with a population over 70 percent white, Republican, and born again Christian. But, like all towns, it has its shadow side, and Kerrville’s may be darker than most. The Kerrville State Hospital, on a hill overlooking the river, houses some of the most violent, deranged killers in the state. It’s most infamous resident, Andrea Yates, cooked breakfast for her husband and saw him off to work, then calmly and methodically drowned her five children, one by one, in the bathtub. The county has always had an active drug subculture. Two of the original members of the 13th Floor Elevators, the original psychedelic acid rock band, grew up there, and later the whole band hid out from the law on a ranch outside of town. Drug addicts come from all over the country for treatment in the many rehab centers and halfway houses, and stay for the pleasant climate and scenery. There are dealers to supply those who relapse with any drug that can be found in the big city. Still, on the surface, it’s a quiet, peaceful little town, and Davis looked forward to a slower pace when he moved there in 1980. Later, Henry Ligon, the Ranger he replaced, ribbed him that when he left everything was under control, but when Davis took over, the bottom fell out. Davis would later say, when asked why such a beautiful, seemingly normal place had so many bizarre crimes, “There must be something in the water.” He hadn’t even settled into his new office before the Genene Jones case exploded into the national headlines. Jones a pediatric nurse, came from San Antonio to work for the first woman pediatrician in town. The clinic hadn’t been open a week before healthy babies started having life threatening seizures. One of them, a little girl, died after being alone with Jones for a few minutes. Davis and the local district attorney gathered the evidence that resulted in a murder conviction and life sentence. Their investigation revealed that Jones had already murdered scores of babies and young children in the San Antonio charity hospital, before she landed in Kerrville. Davis hadn’t rested up from the Jones trial before he was pulled into another bizarre murder investigation, that would that would be called in newspapers around the world, the Texas Slave Ranch case. By Richard L. Ellison Published by Hill Country Satori, Ltd. 500 Main Street Kerrville, Texas 78028 First Kindle Original Edition, 2012 Copyright 2012 by Richard L. Ellison All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in any form, in whole or in part (beyond that copying permitted by U.S. Copyright Law, Section 107, “fair use” in teaching or research, Section 108, certain library copying, or in published media by reviewers in limited excerpts), without written permission from the publisher.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wag the Dog, Dr. Strangelove, and the Petreaus Debacle

In his 2004 book The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic,Chalmers Johnson warned that the military, CIA and the rest of the national security apparatus were bankrupting the country and stripping away Americans' civil rights, and making us new enemies all over the world. He could have been writing about David Petreaus when he described generals with huge retinues acting like proconsuls and potentates, thinking they are entitled to live like Roman emperors. I feel a little foolish that I believed the hype about Petreaus being a great soldier/scholar and presidential material. Alas, the emperor has no clothes. See, for example, The Petraeus Saga: Epitaph for a Four Star by Col. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR, Ret. His dingbat girlfriend may have let the cat out of the bag that the CIA was running a detention center in Benghazi. The press and the power elite that runs this country created Petreaus as a sort of Wizard of Oz, and when he wouldn't fall on his sword for Obama, they threw him under the bus. If a screen writer wanted to write a farce on the fiasco that is our national security state, how could she do anything that competed with reality? David Petraeus: A US war hero? After a scandalous affair brought him down, we ask how successful the retired general's military strategies have been. William Ward, Four Star General, Demoted For Lavish Spending, Ordered To Repay $82,000 WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has demoted the former head of U.S. Africa Command who was accused of spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and other unauthorized expenses, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday. Panetta stripped Gen. William "Kip" Ward of a star, which means that he will now retire as a three-star lieutenant general despite arguments from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff against the demotion. Ward also has been ordered to repay the government $82,000. . . . .The spokesman, Chris Garrett, added that, "While General Ward is not perfect he has always been guided by his faith in God and the belief that there is no greater honor as a patriot than to lead those who choose to serve our nation in the armed forces." Retiring as a three-star will cost Ward about $30,000 a year in retirement pay – giving him close to $208,802 a year rather than the $236,650 he would get as a four-star. Jill Kelley, Woman Who Sparked Petraeus Scandal, Ran Questionable Charity WASHINGTON -- Tampa, Fla., socialite and military hostess Jill Kelley, one of the women at the center of the ever-expanding scandal that brought down former CIA Director David Petraeus, founded a questionable charity for cancer patients with her surgeon husband, Scott Kelley. Based out of the couple's mansion, the Doctor Kelley Cancer Foundation claimed on its tax forms that it "shall be operated exclusively to conduct cancer research and to grant wishes to terminally ill adult cancer patients." From the records, it appears that the charity fell far short of its mission. While the origins of the seed money used to start the charity in 2007 are unclear, financial records reviewed by The Huffington Post reveal that the group spent all of its money not on research, but on parties, entertainment, travel and attorney fees. . . . Chicago 'Code Of Silence' Trial Verdict: Court Rules Against City CHICAGO — Chicago police adhere to a code of silence protecting fellow officers, a federal jury ruled Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by a female bartender whose videotaped beating by a drunken off-duty officer went viral online. Jurors awarded $850,000 in damages to the bartender, Karolina Obrycka, who was beaten in February 2007 after she refused to keep serving Anthony Abbate, who was off-duty and admittedly drunk at the time. Surveillance video of the hulking Abbate pushing Obrycka to the ground behind the bar at Jesse's Shortstop Inn, then repeatedly punching and kicking her. Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal Report Cites 'Abuse Of Power' Amid Petraeus, Allen Probe A U.S. military shaken by the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus and the investigation of its top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, announced Wednesday that one of the largest sex scandals in its history has widened, enveloping at least eight commanders and nearly 50 possible victims. The Air Force released its report on the scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where members of the Air Force go through basic training. Investigations of at least 25 military training instructors have led to charges against 11, and have resulted in five convictions, from rape to inappropriate relationships with recruits. Two commanding officers have been removed, and Air Force Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command, said at a press conference Wednesday that six more have received "disciplinary action." Fox 19 anchor back on the air after suspension for calling Rachel Maddow an 'angry young man' on Facebook Tricia Macke, an Ohio news anchor for Fox 19, was suspended over disparaging comments she made about the MSNBC host on her personal Facebook page. "I am sorry," Macke wrote to one such fan. "I should have said antagonistic." Former ICE Chief Who Fought Child Porn Gets 70 Mos. For Having It WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – The former chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami was sentenced Friday afternoon after he pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges. Anthony Mangione, 52, was sentenced to 70 months – just under six years – in prison by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Mara in West Palm Beach.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Crazy Chicago Judge Reelected, Military Perverts, Pakistani Lawyers Gone Wild

Chicago, Chicago !! Cynthia Brim, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Previously Deemed 'Legally Insane,' Reelected A Cook County Circuit Court judge was handily reelected Tuesday a matter of hours before she was due to appear in court for allegedly assaulting a deputy sheriff this spring, an attack her attorney previously blamed on the fact that the judge was "legally insane" at the time. Judge Cynthia Brim appeared in court Wednesday and told the Chicago Tribune she was "just happy the people voted me back in" after her status hearing. Brim, 54, received slightly more than 60 percent of yes votes required for retention in the Tuesday election, according to the Chicago Sun-Times -- despite allegedly pushing a deputy sheriff and throwing keys near a Daley Center security checkpoint in March. One day prior to that attack, she allegedly "launched into a tirade" that lasted 45 minutes during a traffic court call and was forced to leave the courtroom. The new Pakistani ‘gangsters’: Lawyers LAHORE, Pakistan — The young police inspector came to court to present evidence in a beating case. He left with his head and lip bloodied and his uniform torn — assaulted, he said, by a gang of black-suited assailants. The notorious lawyers of Lahore had struck again, police and witnesses said. It was chalked up as yet another episode of violence by lawyers that has become common here in this seat of justice in eastern Pakistan, where cases from throughout Punjab province are heard. In a nation where the rule of law is already fragile on many levels, police officials, judges, litigants and witnesses say they have become increasingly fearful of marauding lawyers in their trademark black pants, coats and ties. “If police officers don’t submit to their pressure, they abuse and beat them,” said Sadaqat Ullah, the 28-year-old police investigator who alleged that a group of lawyers pummeled him in late September because he refused to share a confidential hospital report with an attorney in the original assault case. “They behave like gangsters.” Lawyers make final arguments in Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair's Article 32 hearing Lawyers made their final arguments Thursday in a hearing that could help decide the fate of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Allen Sinclair. The closing arguments in Sinclair's Article 32 investigation took just under an hour, after four days of testimony at Fort Bragg. The investigating officer, Maj. Gen. Perry Wiggins, will now work on a report that will recommend a next step. Lt. Gen. Daniel Allyn, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, will then decide whether the case goes before a general court-martial. That's the outcome that prosecutors pushed for after laying out their case against Sinclair, who is the former deputy commanding general for support for the 82nd Airborne Division. Sinclair, 50, faces a litany of charges, including forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual contact, maltreatment of subordinates and fraud. He's accused of having a three-year affair with a captain, forcing her to perform sex acts on two occasions and coercing lower-ranked soldiers to send him nude photos. "Gen. Sinclair has engaged in a deliberate, degrading course of conduct where he targets his subordinates to satisfy his abhorrent desires," said a prosecutor, Lt. Col. William Helixon. 2 soldiers in Texas charged in child porn case SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Two Texas soldiers who once dated are facing child pornography charges in the alleged recorded molestation of a 3-year-old boy. Investigators in San Antonio say Sgt. Wade Allen Perkins and Sgt. Kimberly Epperson have a detention hearing Thursday. Both were arrested Tuesday as part of an investigation involving the military, local officials and the FBI. Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/texas/article/2-soldiers-in-Texas-charged-in-child-porn-case-3977169.php#ixzz2C0yLWZhk

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Did God Send Hurricane Sandy to Help Obama?

Why do religious people think good things come from whatever god they worship but not the bad? Consider: Romney probably would have won if the storm Sandy hadn't hit the Northeast. Liberals like Chris Matthews are praising God for intervening to help Obama. What about the millions still without power and the thousands who lost everything? Here's an ironic story: NY man who lost leg in crucifix mishap sues church NEWBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — A trial has been scheduled for early next year in the lawsuit filed against an upstate New York church by a man whose leg had to be amputated after a 600-pound crucifix fell on him. Attorney Kevin Kitson of White Plains tells The Associated Press that the case of his client, David Jimenez (hih-MAN'-ez ), is scheduled for trial in January in an Orange County court. Kitson says Jimenez prayed to the crucifix outside St. Patrick's Church in Newburgh after his wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. When she recovered, he showed his thanks by volunteering to clean the cross. In May 2010, the crucifix fell on him, crushing his right leg. It was later amputated. He's suing the church for $3 million.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2 top Texas judges on ballot fighting ethics fines Two of Texas’ top judges have been able to put off paying huge ethics fines for more than two years, and neither case stands to be resolved before Election Day when both are on the ballot for new six-year terms. The $100,000 fine in 2010 against Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, and the $29,000 fine levied against state Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht in 2008 rank among the largest in state history. San Antonio Cops Suspended for Attempted Cover-Up of Drunken Cop, His Wrecked Truck, and the Porn and "Sexual Device" Inside A trio of San Antonio cops have been suspended and several more are under investigation for their roles in the cover-up of a police sergeant's allegedly drunken wreck of a city-owned truck. According to internal police disciplinary documents released to WOAI, the cops also removed alcohol, pornography, and a "sexual device" from the crashed vehicle. Woman fighting to clear name in 1994 sex assault is paroled GATESVILLE — When she hugged her mom, Anna Vasquez knew it was real. She was free. Released on parole Friday after serving 12½ years of a 15-year sentence, Vasquez is one of four San Antonio women fighting to clear their names after they were convicted of sexually assaulting two young girls in a bizarre case that even spurred talk of Satanism. The younger of the two accusers, now 25, has recanted, saying no assault occurred. Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Woman-fighting-for-exoneration-released-on-parole-4003817.php#ixzz2BAKZEqWs After 13 years in prison, ex-cop may be innocent Child rape conviction sent him to prison in 1999. For the past 13 years, retired San Antonio Police Officer Frank Navarijo, 73, has sat in prison — serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted of repeatedly raping a 5-year-oldfemale relative. Friday, his accuser recanted. For now, Navarijo remains in Bexar County Jail. Teen who made false rape report offered support s community leaders mobilize support for a Yates High School student who admitted she lied about being sexually assaulted last week, Houston police have not ruled out the possibility of criminal charges against the teen.The 15-year-old girl told police that a man abducted her on Noah Street near Cyrill Park on the way home from school, dragged her into an abandoned house and sexually assaulted her. She provided a detailed description of man, as well as other information. Another Maverick County official charged in bribery probe FBI agents arrested a former Maverick County employee Friday, the latest in a string of corruption allegations made by federal authorities against officials in the border county. A grand jury this week indicted Alejandra Garcia, 26, whose job included issuing checks to county contractors, on one count of accepting bribes. Prosecutors allege that she took bribes from multiple contractors to dole out thousands of dollars from Department of Homeland Security Operation Stonegarden grants used for border protection. Liberals let Obama get away with un-American actions The president's deplorable record on privacy and kill lists is an affront to our values. Liberals just shrug it off Let us stipulate, as lawyers like to say, that President Obama has a deplorable record on civil liberties, one that threatens long-term damage to the country’s constitutional culture. Why, then, has his base of support not been eroded decisively? Why have so many on the left fallen silent, after railing against George W. Bush’s rights violations, as Obama has prolonged and codified most of the same practices? And why have so few on the right, riding a groundswell of resentment toward big government, failed to resent the biggest governmental intrusions into personal privacy since the FBI’s domestic spying during the Cold War? State asks feds to probe deadly helicopter shooting BROWNSVILLE - Texas state police on Friday asked federal agents to review the deaths of two Guatemalan immigrants, killed last week when a state trooper on a helicopter opened fire on a smuggling vehicle near La Joya. The Texas Rangers will hand over their investigation to federal agents upon completion, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw. McCraw said he asked the FBI and Justice Department to conduct an independent investigation into the Oct. 25 shooting. The two killed were among a group of nine Guatemalan immigrants in the truck, suspected of being in the country illegally and being smuggled through the Rio Grande Valley. DPS officials said they believed the truck was smuggling drugs and the trooper shot at the vehicle to disable it. Settlement for wrongful imprisonment settles little After six years of fighting, George Rodriguez finally got a promise Friday that he'll get paid by the city that wronged him. But it isn't nearly enough. The 52-year-old was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2004 after serving 17 years behind bars for the 1987 kidnapping and rape of a 14-year-old girl. It was faulty evidence from the Houston Police Department crime lab that put him there.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Very good article on game wardens' right to search: OUTDOORS: MIKE LEGGETT Leggett: Game wardens’ powers shrouded in mystery There’s more than a little mystery and misinformation about Texas game wardens and the legal powers they have. Can they detain you? Can they search you? Your truck? How about your hunting lodge? Listen to stories in the field or around a camp fire, and you might think they can do anything they want. The truth is that almost all of the time game wardens have no magical powers to detain, search and question hunters or anybody else. They have no more right than any other law enforcement officer to stop you on a public road and search your truck or the people in it. They should, the law says, have probable cause to believe that a violation of the law has taken place before they execute a stop, and they should request, and obtain, your permission to search your truck. Otherwise, they need a search warrant. After 13 years in prison, ex-cop may be innocent By Craig Kapitan For the past 13 years, retired San Antonio Police Officer Frank Navarijo, 73, has sat in prison — a convicted child molester serving a 20-year sentence for the repeated rape of a 5-year-oldfemale relative. Friday, his accuser recanted. For now, Navarijo remains in the Bexar County Jail. Appellate attorney Michael Gross also submitted to the court affidavits from three jurors who said the decision to convict Navarijo was a close one. Had the accuser taken the stance she does now, they would have voted for acquittal, each said. THURSDAY, NOV 1, 2012 03:11 PM CDT Ex-Penn State president charged in Sandusky case Graham Spanier was charged Thursday with a "conspiracy of silence" over child sex abuse complaints BY ASSOCIATED PRESS HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State President Graham Spanier was charged Thursday with hushing up child sex abuse complaints against Jerry Sandusky, taking the allegations of a “conspiracy of silence” to the highest level of the university and marking another chapter in the dramatic downfall of a once-renowned administrator. Prosecutors also added counts against two of Spanier’s former underlings, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who were already charged with lying to the grand jury that investigated the former Penn State assistant football coach. “This was not a mistake by these men. This was not an oversight. It was not misjudgment on their part,” said state Attorney General Linda Kelly. “This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials to actively conceal the truth.” Marijuana prohibition hanging by a thread It's only a matter of time before the federal government capitalizes on the multi-billion dollar industry BY DOUG FINE, ALTERNET On the producer/farmer end, sometimes law enforcement budgets are actually dependent on seizing Americans’ property. California U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner unilaterally “awarded” Stanislaus County law enforcers $154,875 following one 2011 raid. Federal law doesn’t even mandate property return if charges are never filed. This is why former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper says, “the drug war’s most serious collateral damage has been to undermine the role of civilian law enforcement in our free society.” Without question, the economic data show that cannabis should immediately be put to work for the American economy. That’s what, in the end, makes it a top-tier-important issue at a time of debt crisis, currency crisis and Middle East dictator crisis: not only are the enforcement billions better spent elsewhere, but revenues from the cannabis plant economy itself will impart billions into our economy every year. Ex-S.A. official goes on trial over $16,000 farewell party By Craig Kapitan When Jeanetta Tinsley's predecessor retired from San Antonio's Office of Grants Monitoring and Administration in 2009, one of the first tasks she took on as new department director was to plan a going-away party. But as the taxpayer-funded soiree grew to include a band, a bartender, valet parking, an ice sculpture and an overall price tag of more than $16,000, her actions went from managerial to criminal, prosecutors said Thursday as testimony began in her felony trial. Tinsley, 43, could face up to two years in a state jail facility if jurors in 399th state District Court find her guilty of misapplication of fiduciary property. Williamson County deputy makes record drug bust on I-35 GEORGETOWN — A Williamson County Sheriff’s deputy seized a record amount of crystal methamphetamine during a routine traffic stop this week, authorities announced Thursday. The deputy found 91 pounds of crystal methamphetamine — the largest such seizure for Williamson County, officials said — wrapped in 30 bundles and also discovered 28 pounds of marijuana wrapped in one large brick in the back seat of a 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe on Wednesday, said Sgt. John Foster, a spokesman for the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. The driver of the vehicle, Heriberto Madrid, 29, of Laredo, is in federal custody on drug trafficking charges, Foster said. Settlement reached for man falsely imprisoned A Houston man who successfully sued the city of Houston in 2009 after he spent 17 years in prison wrongfully convicted of kidnapping and rape is expected to get the money he is owed, his attorney confirmed Thursday. George Rodriguez, who was freed in 2004 after an appeals court ruled he was convicted on faulty scientific evidence, won a $5 million verdict after showing chronic problems at HPD's long-troubled crime lab. Rodriguez's attorney, Barry Scheck of the New York-based Innocence Project, said the case spawned the report that detailed the systemic failures at the Houston Police Department Crime Lab. "The Rodriguez case was the case that led to the Bromwich report and the cleaning up of the HPD crime lab," Scheck said Thursday. "It's very important to George and his attorneys that nothing like this happen to anyone ever again."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cadillac Ranch Owner Sued for Sexual Assault; Man Loses Eye in Strip Club Melee

Amarillo's 'Cadillac Ranch' owner accused of sexual abuse of young men, boys Amarillo millionaire Stanley Marsh 3 is accused of paying young men thousands of dollars for Viagra-enhanced sexual favors in two recent civil lawsuits filed by a Houston lawyer. Marsh, 74, is perhaps best known as owner of the Cadillac Ranch, an Amarillo field where 10 brightly painted Cadillacs are sticking out of the ground, tail up. . . . Attorney Anthony Buzbee filed the lawsuits Oct. 23 and Monday in Potter County on behalf of anonymous plaintiffs referred to as John Doe and John Doe No. 2. . . . . My first job out of law school was with the Underwood Wilson firm, where Kelly Utsinger is a partner. Very good firm and Kelly's a first class lawyer. Tony Buzbee is a heavy weight. His website cover page states his motto: Just Win. It says: Tony Buzbee is a former Recon Marine officer. His mettle has been tested time and again through some of the most demanding training in the armed services, and due to his involvement in the some of the most intense Marine operations in various countries. Buzbee didn't just survive or endure as a Marine officer, he excelled. In the Marine Corps, officers are taught to lead from the front, to do more with less, to work smart, to hit fast and exploit weaknesses, and to be creative. Tony Buzbee, and the firm he has built, use these same principles and attitudes in the practice of law. Victoria Perez, Exotic Dancer, Half-Blinds Strip Club Patron with High-Heeled Shoe, Police Say A stripper was jailed and a man might lose his left eye after a huge Friday night melee at southeast Austin gentlemen's club Hot Bodies. According to KXAN, Austin police responded to a call about a dressing room fight involving no fewer than 17 of the dancers -- that's what is known as a binder of strippers. When they arrived, they found a man clasping both of his hands to his left eye. He told police he had been hit in the face by the spike-heel of a flung shoe. (The man had to be hospitalized, and might lose the use of his eye.) . . . . I see a personal injury lawsuit coming. The strip club owner will no doubt claim the stripper who threw the shoe was an independent contractor. Editorial: Policing Texas prosecutors Dallas Morning News It’s not just Michael Morton’s lawyers who are making a complaint that the man who prosecuted him obliterated legal and professional obligations along the way. Now comes the disciplinary arm of the State Bar of Texas to level potentially career-ending allegations against former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, who put Morton away for nearly 25 years in a bogus prosecution for his wife’s murder. There’s poetic justice to the fact that Anderson must answer the bar’s petition in the same courthouse where he pinned the murder rap on Morton, allegedly while hiding exculpatory evidence that Morton was entitled to under the Constitution.