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Australia TV to Air Paid Interview with Inmate on Schapelle Corby

Jailhouse snitches are notoriously unreliable. In this country, they are a major contributor to wrongful convictions.

That isn't stopping 10 News in Australia. It's about to air a paid interview with Bali 9 inmate Renae Lawrence, doing 20 years (after narrowly avoiding the death penalty) for smuggling heroin into Bali with 8 other people. She had 2.5 kilos strapped to her body. Two of the nine are waiting for the executioner, and six are doing life.

Reportedly, Renae will claim that during a period when she and Schapelle shared a cell (with several other women), Schapelle confessed to her that she knew the drugs were in her boogie-bag. I don't buy that for a second. [More....]

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Pistorius Trial: Crime Scene Evidence Problems

It was a dramatic day 8 at the Oscar Pistorius trial. The investigator who took over the case from the Hilton Botha, Colonel Vermulon, testified about the physical evidence. There are some serious problems.

Both sides now agree Oscar was on his stumps when he shot through the door, and after that, he used a cricket bat to bash in the door. Here's the rub: The state, which claimed at the bail hearing Oscar had his prostheses on when he shot at the door, now says he didn't have them on at either time: when he shot through the door or used the cricket bat. The defense says Oscar put them after shooting at the door and had them on when he used the bat.

In Oscar's bail affidavit, he says he shot through the door while on his stumps, then "I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open."[More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Trial: The Medical Testimony

Last week, Oscar Pistorius' defense team spent a lot of time trying to get witnesses to acknowledge that they might have confused the sound of gunshots with the sound of Oscar bashing in the door to to the toilet with a cricket bat. Here's an interesting You Tube video of an experiment comparing the two sounds. Conclusion: If you weren't able to listen to both sounds for comparison purposes, you could easily mistake the sound of the cricket bat for the sound of a gunshot.

Here's a recap of yesterday's testimony. In a nutshell, Reeva was shot three times, in the hip, the arm and the head. She would have died within a few breaths of the gunshot to the head.

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Adam Lanza's Father Speaks Out

The New Yorker has an in-depth interview with Peter Lanza, the father of Newtown shooter Adam Lanza. It's remarkably candid.

Lanza, who hadn't seen Adam in two years because Adam refused to see him, says Adam was pure evil and he wishes he had never been born. He says he has no doubt that had Adam had the chance, he would have killed him too.

“It was crystal clear something was wrong,” Peter said. “The social awkwardness, the uncomfortable anxiety, unable to sleep, stress, unable to concentrate, having a hard time learning, the awkward walk, reduced eye contact. You could see the changes occurring.”


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Sloppy Reporting Torpedoes Vasquez-Hernandez Plea

On Feb. 26, Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez announced in court he would plead guilty without a plea agreement in the Chicago case in which Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and Jesus Vicente Zambada-Garcia are co-defendants. In court yesterday, his lawyer announced he had changed his mind and wants to go to trial in May after all.

Why? A local ABC News affiliate reporter named Chuck Goudie had erroneously reported on TV that Vasquez-Hernandez had turned against Chapo. The inmates at the jail saw it and word spread to Mexico, where VH's wife and children live. Vasquez Herandez would rather go to trial than potentially put their lives in jeopardy.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Shakeshaft called Goudie’s error, “an unfortunate piece of journalism.”


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Oscar Pistorius Trial

I've been watching the Oscar Pistorius trial live on the internet since it began Monday. They are still on the first witness.

The format of the trial is different than in the U.S. In South Africa, the defendant has the right to make a statement addressing the charges at the beginning, before the state gives an opening argument. Oscar's lawyer read a detailed statement, in the first person as if Oscar was speaking, refuting the charges paragraph by paragraph. He went through the facts of what happened, and it was much like what the affidavit from the bail hearing. (The only difference I could discern was that he said Oscar went to the balcony to bring two fans back. In the bail application, they said there was one fan.) [More...]

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Alternative Theories of Chapo Guzman's Arrest

There's an interesting article in the New York Review of Books on the arrest of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. In one portion, it explores alternative theories of his arrest:

Many now believe that Chapo voluntarily turned himself in, that the commandos who went through the building at four in the morning, according to witnesses, were there simply to guarantee the operation’s safety while all the appropriate contracts and agreements were signed, that Emma Coronel was there to say good-bye.

This version does not attempt to explain why Guzmán would feel like ending his life at large, with the prospect of a lifetime of solitary confinement in a US prison before him, but there are many other views about how and why Guzmán was snared.


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Kerry Kennedy Acquitted of Drugged Driving

Congrats to Jerry Lefcourt and Bill Aronwald, defense lawyers for Kerry Kennedy, for the acquittal today on charges of drugged driving. The jury deliberated for one hour.

On July 13, 2012, she drove her Lexus S.U.V. erratically after swallowing Zolpidem, a generic form of the sleep medication Ambien. She sideswiped a tractor-trailer on a highway in Westchester County before she was found, slumped over her steering wheel, her car stalled on a local road.

Ms. Kennedy has maintained that she took the pill accidentally, mistaking it for medication she took for a thyroid condition. She testified on Wednesday that she did not realize her mistake until well after the accident.


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Court Allows Live TV and Audio For Oscar Pistorius Trial

Oscar Pistorius goes on trial Monday in South Africa for the killing of his girlfriend and illegal possession of ammunition. Yesterday, a judge ruled parts of the trial will be televised and live audio will be provided for all of it.

The trial will take place in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Eyewitness News, eNCA and MultiChoice are launching a 24 hour Oscar trial channel on Sunday.

The televised portions include opening and closing arguments and the state's witnesses. Oscar's testimony, and the testimony of his witnesses will only be available on audio. [More...]

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Judge Sets Trial in Mexico for Chapo Guzman

Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman-Loera won't be leaving Mexico anytime soon. A judge has ordered him to stand trial in Mexico.

The judge said Tuesday that Guzman will stand trial on drug trafficking charges. Mexico's top officials say he must face all local charges and interrogation by investigators looking to dismantle his multibillion-dollar cartel before possible U.S. extradition.

The U.S. will have to wait.

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Mexico Denies DEA Participation in Chapo Guzman Take-Down

Mexico's interior minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, emphatically states that the DEA did nothing more than provide intelligence information in the arrest of Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman-Loera and that the U.S. was not involved in his capture. (Similar article in English here.)

"There was no involvement of any single person, everything has been by special operation of the Navy of Mexico (...) I have not heard of anyone from the U.S. government and any statement about this is clear because there is not" , he said.

Osorio Chong insists all the DEA did was provide geo-location technology for Chapo's satellite phone. [More...]

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Mexico Charges Chapo Guzman

While prosecutors in Chicago and the Eastern District of New York vie to extradite Chapo Guzman, they may have to cool their heels. Mexico has filed new charges against Guzman.

More on his capture and the wiretaps and tunnels here and here.

El Proceso in Mexico today reports that Jesus Vincente Zambada-Neibla, the son of Ismael Zambada-Garcia, who is charged in Illinois, has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate to avoid a life sentence. It claims an announcement will be made soon. [More...]

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"Chapo" Guzman Captured in Mazatlan

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, leader of the Sinaloa cartel, has been captured in Mazatlan, Mexico.

Guzman, accompanied by a female, was captured in a joint operation with Mexican marines and Drug Enforcement Administration authorities overnight at a hotel in the beach resort of Mazatlán. The operation had been in the works for four or five weeks, the official said.

Will he stay in custody long enough to be extradited to the U.S.? He's facing multiple Indictments in the U.S. Which District will they take him to first? Perhaps San Diego?

This is a huge coup for law enforcement, but it won't make a bit of difference as to the availability of drugs in the U.S. Like any major corporation, the cartel will have plenty of people ready to take his place. No one is indispensable. [More...]

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Ex-Congressman Mel Reynolds Arrested in Zimbabwe

Ex-Congressman Mel Reynolds, age 62, has been arrested in Zimbabwe on charges of possessing p*rn and an immigration offense. According to the state newspaper, he had taken several women to his hotel room where he took photos and videos. He also has $24,500 in unpaid hotel bills.

Reynolds had gained prominence in Zimbabwe for being involved in attracting investment for the $145 million construction of a Hilton Hotel and office complex in Harare, reported The Herald. Construction is expected to begin in April and be finished in last 2016, said the newspaper.

He faces up to two years in jail on p*rn charge. In 1995, he went to prison in the U.S. after being convicted of having sex with a 16 year old campaign worker. While imprisoned, he was convicted of bank fraud. President Clinton commuted his bank fraud sentence and he was released in 2001.

The Zimbabwe news article is here. [More...]

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Jurors Given Allen Charge in Michael Dunn Trial

Update: Mistrial declared on count 1 (murder.) Jury convicts on 3 counts attempted murder and missile firing charge. (no link because I can't find one yet without automatic video playing.)

Jurors in the trial of Florida trial of Michael Dunn have reached a verdict on four of five counts. They are deadlocked on Count 1, premeditated murder, and the lesser offenses of Second Degree Murder, and Manslaughter by Act. Around 5pm today, the Judge read them an Allen charge, instructing them to keep trying. If they can't reach a verdict on Count 1, the judge will declare a mistrial as to that count only, which would allow prosecutors to retry him.

The case is in the national news because of comparisons to the George Zimmerman case. I don't see the connection. Zimmerman was reacting to being punched in the nose, and thought Martin might have been reaching for his (Zimmerman's) gun. Dunn wasn't physically attacked, he thought someone in the car had a gun. (There were four young men in the car.) Dunn didn't have his gun on his person, he had to get it from the glove compartment. Dunn shot at the vehicle several times, including as it was driving away from the scene. [More...]

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