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    Saturday
    Jan092010

    Scrutiny on the Bounty

    There is a bounty of evidence in this Anthony case thanks to Florida’s Open Government in the Sunshine law and I think it’s safe to say that it has enlightened a lot of us and will continue to do so for at least another 6 months. Certainly, not all, but many of us have learned a little about forensics, for example - at least more than we knew before Casey came along. Part of the scientific research involved in studying pathological evidence in a murder case is in the field of microorganisms, like bacteria, fungi and viruses. Actually, microorganisms and other disease-causing organisms, pathogens, come in six different types: bacteria, fungi, protozoa, helminths, viruses and trolls.

    This post will study what life is like with one of the most deadly kind: trolls. Briefly. Mostly, it will be about George Anthony, who recently submitted a letter to FOX35 in Orlando . The letter was followed by an interview with Holly Bristow. Speaking of Holly, Holly Gagne left her daughter with Cindy to babysit? Only it’s not true. Wherever that information came from, it isn’t factual. Cindy did not and does not babysit any child or children of Holly Gagne. Let’s put that rumor to rest right here and now. Who they babysit is not for public consumption. With that out of the way, let’s move on…

    Yes, George wrote a letter. Now, a lot of people have accused me of being an Anthony lover. I am not, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. Along with learning about forensics, plenty of bloggers and commenters have learned how hate-filled people can be, especially with regard to the Anthonys and anyone who refuses to trash them. Yes, it has clearly split into the thems and the those, where you either love them or hate them with passion. There is no gray; no in-between, as many out there profess.

    In George’s letter he described a life so surreal it’s hard to fathom by people who have never lived it. There is nothing like losing a loved one, especially a young girl like Caylee. I must agree with him. Anyone who would deny him his love is a person beneath the realm of conscientious sanity and devotion. I can certainly understand the public’s dismay with some of George and Cindy’s public displays, but there are areas where people are not just questioning, but stating as fact that they know George and Cindy are striking it rich off their deceased grandchild. In his letter, George wrote, “People who don’t know the facts re-victimize the victims.” There are things about this case that people are not aware of. What they do not know, they make up. I, for instance, know for a fact that the money paid by Good Morning America in December of 2008 did not go into George and Cindy’s pockets. It was “The Source” that told me and that is all there is to it. Where the money went, I am not at liberty to say because I gave my word of silence, but you should be made aware that what people perpetuate in the world of blogs, forums and clearly, the media, does not necessarily constitute the truth. It’s no different from how FOX News reports one way and MSNBC does it another. What is true sometimes depends on one’s view.

    When I wrote a post titled I CALLED THE COPS!, I took with me one very important bit of advice from Captain Angelo Nieves, head of OCSO Media Relations. He told me explicitly that if it did not come from his office, do not believe it. I took that as meaning that, although not claiming that any of the information on blogs and forums are out and out lies, misdirections or distortions of the truth, none of us should automatically believe what we see and hear, including (and especially) what we are told from any of the media outlets. Unfortunately, people have a tendency to pick and choose what they want to formulate and believe and I think a lot of them will be very surprised come trial time. Yes, I am basing that on what I’ve heard from extremely reliable sources and what my opinion is on the subject.

    The following is George’s letter, interspersed with my commentary. Although not earth-shattering, I think it is worthy of discussion.

    Living under a microscope

    By: George Anthony

    Suddenly, you are thrown into a life that you have no control over. Your everyday walking/talking is dissected, analyzed and just plain torn apart.

    Although I believe we do have control over our lives, there are circumstances, like a murder, that take away from logical thinking. Emotions run rampant and just as there is a fine line between love and hate, there comes a time when a fine line separates sanity and emotional breakdowns, which really sour logical thinking. It does no good to be torn apart by anyone outside of people who are close to the victims. In this case, George and Cindy are more than mere victims of Caylee’s death. They are victims of a harsh, cruel and cold public. Did they do anything to deserve it? Yes, but who gave the public license to destroy them?

    You did not ask for this, but the microscope is on?

    Is it fair? No, not by any shape of the imagination. Does it hurt? More than you can realize. You stay as strong, emotionally and physically as possible, but people can be so cruel.

    People can be cruel beyond reproach. I am living through it right now. Thank God I did not lose a child. Imagine living under the shadow of it coming at you from both barrels. BAM! BAM!

    Your family is talked about in hurtful ways, not just words, but physical violence. People stand in front of your home, your sanctuary, as a modern day lynch mob. I ask: “What would you do?” Would you cower down, lock yourself up in your home? Can you answer that honestly? The microscope is on……

    I will never quite understand the psyche of the human mind. On blog after blog and forum after forum, commenters have urged the public on. Because of who the Anthonys are and what their daughter stands accused of doing, it is perfectly right to throw rocks at their windows and yell and scream at all hours of the day and night. Huh? How does anyone explain flunking Humanity 101? Just because the Anthonys act beyond our notion of normal, does it justify any of us to act the same way? Worse, as I found out?

    I have asked many people “want to change places with me?” Walk in my shoes, if only for a minute a day? But they cannot. People say “I know what you are going through.” The only person that knows are truly the people who have been through this.

    Would anyone really like to change places with him? If you tell yourself NO, and you do, then you understand he and his family are going through a lot of pain and stress. Don’t misconstrue this as a method for me to elicit sympathy for them. No, it is just to have us see that this has been no picnic for them and it will never be.

    Others stand on the sidelines and judge. Seeking their 15 minutes of fame by blogging, sending threatening emails, letters, phone calls and text messaging, stating we are unfit. But they, themselves should look in the mirror and ask, “what would I do if my life or family was under a microscope? Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? Living under a microscope!

    Yup, I’m a blogger. Guilty as charged, but there’s a huge difference between my blog and the ones that spread hate and unsubstantiated rumors. I don’t love anyone related to this case and I try to be fair to both sides. I have always maintained that we are in no position to judge anyone and until George and Cindy stand trial, we should refrain from writing scathing diatribes and mocking parodies about them. Casey rests in jail. Attack her if you will, and her defense team, but no one in the public has a right to claim ownership of Caylee, as if she is a rag doll who would be torn to shreds by anyone who has never met her. She’s mine! No, she’s mine!

    Humans can be so cruel. When a tragedy happens their whole thought process changes. People who don’t know the facts re-victimize the victims. Again, under a microscope.

    An opinion, article gets released, printed and that becomes gospel for a slight few.

    Please remember, if it doesn’t come out of OCSO Media Relations, it is not gospel. That’s not to say we can’t scrutinize evidence when we see it, but how many of us are trained in the sciences related to this case? Valhall comes the closest and this is not to discredit any of the fine, fine blogs out there that do their best to stick to facts. Opinion blogs are great and many are written with that in mind. God knows we are all opinionated and it seems to be tearing at the very fabric of what we collectively are seeking - justice. Not our justice, but the brand divvied out by the good people of Florida.

    Media, as it is today, would rather report the wrong in the world than collectively start out reporting something good. The first 7-10 minutes of a newscast, front page of a paper or magazine gets your attntion by shock value.

    Wouldn’t it be nice or wholesome to see a report of something positive or heartwarming for a change.

    With my experience in the newspaper field, as fleeting as it was, I understand the concept of what sells and sensationalism will forever be at the top of the list. Sure, it would be great if Brian Williams started his nightly newscast with, “Once upon a time…” but that’s never going to happen. As I mentioned in a previous post, the day the first caveman peeked out from behind a rock to get a glimpse of what his neighbor was doing, the urge to hear and spread gossip was born. It’s human nature, plain and simple, and to be quite frank, the days of It’s a Wonderful Life are long behind us and we might as well get used to it. In the real world, it’s nice for the holidays, but road rage can kill you. Is blog rage not far behind?

    You’re photographed and videotaped without your knowledge or permission. An etching/tattoo of a loved one is made fun of. How hurtful. I personally am proud of my etching/tattoo in my skin, because Caylee is forever with me.

    For the life of me, I cannot figure out what difference it makes to anyone if George and Cindy get tattoos. Here, you could be living in your spouse swapping world and you condemn them over a tattoo? Since when were they against the law and immoral? They’re not, and the more I read about how horrid it was, the more I thought about some blog commenters being the biggest hypocrites in the world, where they hide behind false names spewing their morality for the world to read while ignoring their own daughter’s tattoo. Trust me, you do not want to disagree with them or you are an Anthony lover. They know. They know everything.

    Only, they don’t.

    Under a microscope, I personally look at life differently. Finding ways to help others. Be it thru some life changing advice or being there to help them up when they fall. That is the right thing to do. God likes gestures; that’s what is needed. Living under a microscope.

    I don’t know exactly what George or Cindy do to help others. Do you? Are they still running their non-profit? Are they really striking it rich? Do we have the papers in front of us? If so, what do they point to beyond a doubt? Is it prudent to assume anything as fact? Since George mentioned God, my main question is, more or less, about the Eastside Baptist Church. Are the pastors and congregation wrong in giving the Anthonys their complete love and support? Why, and why can’t we be more forgiving? How many blogs have I read where the blessings of God are mentioned in one hand and complete condemnation of the Anthonys is preached in the other? All along, my statements regarding the Anthonys have been centered on this one tenet. Who are we to judge? Who are we to do this to anyone? This is not about love for the Anthonys, it is about love for everyone.

    Unfortunately, germ warfare will continue on the blogging and forum worlds. People will continue to take sides and never look at areas that fall in between. In a sense, I feel a little closer to George and life under a microscope. Although I will never feel his loss, I understand his aversion to the public because of what it is capable of destroying. For a few days, I let a small group of trolls consume me. I am sorry for my poor judgment. I let unwarranted accusations get the best of me. I never did anything of the sort of what the trolls claimed and I firmly stand behind my words, but I should have let it go. I should have shrugged it off and taken the high road. I did not. Now I know what it’s like to live under a microscope and the giant eye can be a monster. It brings with it a bounty of scrutiny.

    We all have feelings. We are all human. The offending posts have been taken down. Trust me when I say it was my decision and no one else’s. I was under no legal obligation or direction from anyone. This has mushroomed way out of control. Do what you will with me. It is dragging me into a viral Hell and I have had enough.

     

    Tuesday
    Dec292009

    Jeff Ashton was aggravated, given the circumstances

    I don’t imagine it was a very Merry Christmas at Camp Casey last week. Every motion heard at the December 11 hearing was turned down, the most important being the one to preclude the death penalty on the 18th. What this meant was that Judge Strickland sided with existing law and cast the onus of Casey’s fate into the hands of a future jury. I knew it had to be this way when he told Andrea Lyon he wasn’t going to reinvent the wheel. She gave a compelling argument, he said, but so did the state in its succinctly terse retort.

    December 18 was a most sad day at the Anthony household, too, and rightly so, no matter what each of you feel individually. Casey may be one of present day’s most hated women around the country and in other parts of the “civilized” world, but her parents and brother are still that - family - and it’s all she’s got left. I wonder, if we had the opportunity to question each and every one of her past friends, including Amy Huizenga and Tony Lazzaro, would they cry out for her execution or ask the court to spare her life when and if she’s convicted? We don’t know at all, and none of us has any authority to speak for them. Everyone has their own opinion about what punishment to dole out, but she has yet to have her day in court and not one of her friends has come out publicly and begged to spare her or put her to death.

    In order to really study this crime, the impending trial and possible outcome, we must look at everything with a clear conscience, free of prejudice and malice. This is the way the jury will be selected and what we see in released documents will not be what the jury gets their hands on. This, in no way, reflects that the jury will go into the deliberating phase with less knowledge than us. On the contrary, to be truthful. They will see what matters. We saw a needle inside a Gatorade bottle. Shocking! There was a lot of garbage picked up and processed in those woods. We got to see it all, but does that mean Casey was responsible for every single piece of trash we got to rifle through in paper form on the Internet? Of course not, and as we spent weeks arguing over that needle, the state may say it can’t be positively tied to Casey and it’s, therefore, irrelevant to the case. So many of the things we spent countless hours discussing could end up in the landfill of inadmissible evidence and it happens at every trial. I use the needle in the bottle as an example, by the way. Whether it will be admitted is not my point. That every shred of evidence will not be admitted is exactly what I’m saying.

    A lot of questions may focus on Andrea Lyon’s role now that she lost this round. Certainly, it’s not the end of the line and one thing we must keep in mind is that there are more motions to be filed and many more legal maneuverings by the defense. Clearly, we must remember that her day will not be done until she fights to the very end to spare Casey from eventual extinction courtesy of the citizens of the state of Florida. That means one major thing: Andrea Lyon will be on hand to represent Casey during the sentencing phase if she is convicted. She will build a mountain of mitigating evidence in order to convince the jury and judge that sparing her client’s life far outweighs her death. The state, on the other hand, will offer a litany of aggravating circumstances to spell her doom. In order to grasp how justice works in a capital case of this nature in my fair state of Florida, let’s take a look at the aggravators in a death penalty case. Where do they apply in Casey’s case?

    Abstractly, to be constitutional, any and all aggravating circumstances supporting an imposition of the death penalty must narrow the class of persons who are eligible and at the same time, they must justify the imposition of a sentence of this enormity on individuals convicted of murder. Identifying aggravating circumstances would seem to provide a principled manner in deciding when a death sentence is appropriate. Implicit in the constitutional principle is a requirement that decision makers must have a shared understanding of what constitutes an aggravating circumstance. In Florida’s case, it is both the jury and the judge that play the role of decision maker.

    There are fifteen aggravating circumstances set forth in Florida Statute § 921.141(5) and shall be limited to:

    ¹(a)  The capital felony was committed by a person previously convicted of a felony and under sentence of imprisonment or placed on community control or on felony probation.

    (b)  The defendant was previously convicted of another capital felony or of a felony involving the use or threat of violence to the person.

    (c)  The defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to many persons.

    (d)  The capital felony was committed while the defendant was engaged, or was an accomplice, in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit, any: robbery; sexual battery; aggravated child abuse; abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult resulting in great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; arson; burglary; kidnapping; aircraft piracy; or unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb.

    (e)  The capital felony was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest or effecting an escape from custody.

    (f)  The capital felony was committed for pecuniary gain.

    (g)  The capital felony was committed to disrupt or hinder the lawful exercise of any governmental function or the enforcement of laws.

    (h)  The capital felony was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.

    (i)  The capital felony was a homicide and was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.

    (j)  The victim of the capital felony was a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of his or her official duties.

    (k)  The victim of the capital felony was an elected or appointed public official engaged in the performance of his or her official duties if the motive for the capital felony was related, in whole or in part, to the victim’s official capacity.

    (l)  The victim of the capital felony was a person less than 12 years of age.

    (m)  The victim of the capital felony was particularly vulnerable due to advanced age or disability, or because the defendant stood in a position of familial or custodial authority over the victim.

    (n)  The capital felony was committed by a criminal gang member, as defined in s. 874.03.

    (o)  The capital felony was committed by a person designated as a sexual predator pursuant to s.775.21or a person previously designated as a sexual predator who had the sexual predator designation removed.

    Let’s begin by backtracking, starting with the aggravating circumstances that do apply in Casey’s case.

    (m)  The victim of the capital felony was particularly vulnerable due to advanced age or disability, or because the defendant stood in a position of familial or custodial authority over the victim.

    Certainly, as Caylee’s own flesh and blood mother, Casey stood in a position of familial and custodial authority over her. Who was her protector? Who nourished her and clothed her? Who gave her life?

    (l)  The victim of the capital felony was a person less than 12 years of age.

    Caylee was not quite 3 when she died. The defense might argue that the date of her death cannot be substantiated, but it doesn’t matter. The child was under 12 years of age. No further discussion.

    (i)  The capital felony was a homicide and was committed in a cold, calculated, and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.

    This is the meat and potatoes of the aggravating circumstances as far as I’m concerned. Dr. Jan Garavaglia, the chief medical examiner for Orange and Osceola counties, determined the death was a homicide. The cause is unknown, but evidence convinced her that Caylee was murdered. In my opinion, every murder is committed without any pretense of moral or legal justification. Murder is just that. Courts can argue over mercy killings, aiding a suicide and manslaughter - the unlawful killing of a human being without malice or premeditation, either express or implied - but to kill someone is just plain wrong and most of us understand why. In this particular case, the cold and calculated part stems from the duct tape wrapped over the decedent’s mouth and nasal passages. It includes the fact that the layers of tape were purposely pressed into her hair. This shows the tape was never intended to be removed and it was placed there to either stop the breathing or to keep fluid from escaping post death; another matter for the court to decide. I’m sure the state has much more evidence we are not privy to at this time, but if this alone does not prove to be cold and calculated, I don’t know what will.

    Let’s take a look at the definition of premeditation according to the ‘Lectric Law Library:

    PREMEDITATION - With planning or deliberation. The amount of time needed for premeditation regarding an act depends on the person and the circumstances. It must be long enough, after forming the intent to act, for the person to have been fully conscious of the intent and to have considered the act.

    A design formed to commit a crime or to do some other thing before it is done.

    Premeditation differs essentially from will, which constitutes the crime, because it supposes besides an actual will, a deliberation and a continued persistance which indicate more perversity. The preparation of arms or other instruments required for the execution of the crime, are indications of a premeditation, but are not absolute proof of it, as these preparations may have been intended for other purposes, and then suddenly changed to the performance of the criminal act. Murder by poisoning must of necessity be done with premeditation.

    Regardless of what anyone thinks about Casey and her search terms that point to premeditation, all the state has to do is show that she was fully conscious of the intent when she applied that tape. This was no spontaneous act done to spite someone on a moment’s notice. As much as some argue over the date of death and are convinced that Casey dragged Caylee out of her bed on the night of the 15th, it is irrelevant. The state has decided to go with the 16th for whatever reasons it has chosen and none of us are in a position to question those authorities. To do so means the state is not doing a good job. According to theSupreme Court of Florida

    There are two ways in which a person may be convicted of first degree murder. One is known as premeditated murder and the other is known as felony murder.

    To prove the crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

    1. (Victim) is dead.

    2. The death was caused by the criminal act of (defendant).

    3. There was a premeditated killing of (victim).

    Definitions.

    An “act” includes a series of related actions arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose.

    “Killing with premeditation” is killing after consciously deciding to do so. The decision must be present in the mind at the time of the killing. The law does not fix the exact period of time that must pass between the formation of the premeditated intent to kill and the killing. The period of time must be long enough to allow reflection by the defendant. The premeditated intent to kill must be formed before the killing.

    The question of premeditation is a question of fact to be determined by you from the evidence. It will be sufficient proof of premeditation if the circumstances of the killing and the conduct of the accused convince you beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of premeditation at the time of the killing.

    In my opinion, Casey did include acts in a series of related actions, long before any alleged fight with her mother took place. She was setting up an alibi with her fictitious nanny, and search terms on both the laptop and home computers showed circumstantial premeditation. So did text messages between her and her friends. At the precise moment that roll of duct tape was removed from the shelf, it became a tool. According to the law, her decision was “present in the mind at the time of the killing.” If nothing else, with each strand of duct tape, the intent to kill was there and it was “formed before the killing.” Caylee was alive before the first piece of tape was cut, or so the state is contending and as Jeff Ashton so stated at the last hearing. The state is saying it has sufficient evidence to prove premeditation without the 15th as any sort of motive and the icing on the cake is the conduct of the accused after the killing.

    (h)  The capital felony was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.

    There is no doubt that Caylee suffered a horrible death no matter who ultimately was responsible for it. Her final moments, unless she was under the influence ofXanax or chloroform or both, were not happy ones. By the statement alone, and even if the toddler was rendered unconscious prior to death, the act of killing an innocent and defenseless child is especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel under any circumstances. Period.

    Finally, we have one that I am going to question. It is forefront in our minds at the moment as Casey’s fraud trial creeps closer and closer to its January 25 date, lest a plea deal be struck beforehand.

    ¹(a)  The capital felony was committed by a person previously convicted of a felony and under sentence of imprisonment or placed on community control or on felony probation.

    ¹Note.—As amended by s. 1, ch. 96-302. This version is published as the last expression of legislative will (see Journal of the Senate 1996, pp. 1077 and 1128). Paragraph (5)(a) was also amended by s. 5, ch. 96-290, and that version reads:

    (a)  The capital felony was committed by a person under sentence of imprisonment or placed on community control or on probation.

    Here’s the part that intrigues me the most… The capital felony was committed by a person previously convicted of a felony… or The capital felony was committed by a person under sentence of imprisonment… That’s as clear as a bell to me. For all the discussions and arguments over what felony convictions can be brought into the trial, doesn’t that particular statute officially state that Casey would have to have been convicted of a felony before she committed the murder? Does this mean the defense can legally fight to leave the fraud conviction (if she’s convicted) out of the trial or at least the sentencing phase? If so, it means Amy Huizenga’s right to a speedy trial is the only solid reason why the state wants a conviction before the murder trial.

    In the end, it shouldn’t really matter, because in order for a defendant to be sentenced to death, the jury must find, beyond a reasonable doubt, the presence of at least one aggravating circumstance that the state has statutorily defined. We can postulate all we want about homicidal characteristics and what constitutes aggravating circumstances, but I found three of them that, in my opinion, apply in Casey’s case. Whether the state can prove any of them remains to be seen, but if Mr. Ashton’s statement at the December 11 hearing is any indication, there’s no doubt Burdick & Co. will sound very confident and convincing come the final days of reckoning.

    Saturday
    Dec262009

    Trogs, Blollops and Blomit

    On Language: A Short Study

    We have moved into an age when people interact more and more online and on cell phones, and less and less in person. A friend was telling me how her children text message each other from their bedrooms, right across the hall from each other. What happened to the days of person-to-person meetings? I hear tales of people texting each other while sitting at the same dining room table, if people actually do much of that anymore. Imagine that concept… eating together. Shocking! In this day and age, if you can’t make it home for the holidays, you can spend it online or on your cell phone inside a virtual village, a wireless community; replete with trimmings galore - Apps, they’re called today. The only thing missing is the aroma of a home cooked meal and real, live hugs. Don’t worry, smells can’t be far behind. Hopefully, nothing will ever replace a hug. (((HUGS))) doesn’t quite do it for me, although the meaning is clear and appreciated, especially when we are miles and miles apart.

    There are new ways to communicate through language abbreviations because of texting. Is it because we live in a “now” world, where we hurry everything? Must we shorten things abruptly to speed things up? CMIIW, but texting is here to stay. Now, wasn’t that personal? Just remember, today’s toys are tomorrow’s junk.

    I consider the 80s to be the beginning era of the downslide of close, personal interaction. We could have been chatting up a storm, face-to-face, when suddenly, a beeper permeated the earwaves. Just like that, our networking, as opposed to interacting, came to a screeching halt. Not just us, but everyone in the vicinity of the annoying noise stopped what they were doing to quickly look down at the little plastic box attached to their waist. “Was that yours or mine?”became the mantra en masse. Within seconds, the person who was alerted (the beepee or BP, in condensed form?) left to go to the nearest pay phone, something else that’s pretty much a relic in this day and age, along with those pesky little beepers. Nowadays, cell phones have usurped them, and alas, there will never be a beeper museum in the near or distant future. Interestingly, we went from those simple, yet impersonal alarms, which had a useful purpose in their day, to cell phones, to even more impersonal text messaging. Casey Anthony was notorious for texting back and forth with her friends. How else would we know about dead squirrels that never were? Had she made a more personal phone call, we’d still be in the dark and far from Government in the Sunshine. One of the strange byproducts of less personal interaction is the nature of the digital beast. Conversely, the less we know about each other, the more we know about total strangers.

    Because of the leaps and bounds made as technology advances, I want to briefly explore the concept of new words as they become an accepted part of our culture and lexicon. A good example is podcast. Podcast originated from combining the iPod, a portable media player (of audio and/or video files) produced by Apple, with the word broadcast. It was first used by Ben Hammersley in The Guardian newspaper in February 2004, along with several other names that were vying for the description without even trying or knowing about it. Podcasting it became and the rest is history. What distinguishes such words that work their way into language is the history of how they evolve from single words. Podcast, for example, is a portmanteau word. A portmanteau word is used to describe a linguistic blend, namely “a word formed by blending sounds from two or more distinct words and combining their meanings.¹” Thus, iPod + broadcast = podcast. Had Microsoft marketed the first personal media player, we might be spreading Zunecasts instead. Years ago, I coined velviswhich is a portrait of Elvis Presley painted on velvet… velvet + Elvis = velvis. There are scores and scores of examples and they are not new to the 20th 0r 21st century.

    The first known use of a portmanteau, or combination word, was coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass, the 1871 sequel to the 1865 novelAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland, later shortened to Alice in Wonderland. He used slithy to describe lithe and slimy. As a matter of fact, Carroll came up with the word portmanteau when he described the morphing of words. According to the The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Languagethe word portmanteau comes from French porter, to carry + manteau, cloak (from Old French mantel, from Latin mantellum). Charles Dickens also used this play on words in the names of some of his characters, the most famous one beingScrooge, which purposely came about from his combination of screw andgouge. We use countless portmanteau words in everyday language without realizing it. This blog is actually a combination of web + log. If you’ve ever had malicious software on your computer, it’s malware. Ask yourself, did the word malware even exist 10 years ago? How about spyware? I often think about words coined by advancing technology and it fascinates me to no end. Th eetymological study of the English language is one of my favoritepastimes… or is that past times? Nope, past time refers to time passed. History. Pastime means to make time pass agreeably. Oh, I could go on or hours, but that would bore you.

    Though slithy has slipped through the cracks and is seldom, if ever, used today, it certainly describes some of the lurking trolls lolling about blog sites, especially those pertaining to the Casey Anthony case. Since I don’t like to use old portmanteaus when describing something that’s relatively new, there should be a word besides slithy to describe these lurking trolls. Maybe, we can coin a new word for them. Trogs, for instance, for blog trolls, except that it’s already a word describing something else. Several things, actually, but not trolls. Yes, it would work, but so would blollop, short for a blog trollop. I use the word trollop loosely, and not in the literal sense. I tend to fancy blollop because of the rather nonsensical sound of the word, just as nonsensical as the trolls themselves and the blomit they spew.

    Anyway, I’m sorry, I rambled on my blog long enough. Hey, that could be brambling, but bramble is a thorny issue. How about blambling? We could have a lot of fun with this, but in order to reflect the times, I must cut this short. Besides, I got so wrapped up writing, I skipped breakfast. Hmm, maybe I’ll just have brunch. There’s a pretty good Tex-Mex restaurant down the street. Instead of calling to make a reservation or sending an e-mail (electronic + mail), I’ll send them a text message just to prove I’m still in vogue. Would that be Tex mexaging? Never mind. That’s a whole “nother” play on language and I’d better go before I start eating my own words.

    L8RG8R!


    Thursday
    Dec172009

    In denial

    UPDATE 5:00 PM

    A fourth defense motion was denied by Judge Strickland late this afternoon. Casey will not get any special treatment in jail. Baez & Co. wanted the jail to stop videotaping Casey whenever she was meeting with her lawyers and/or her family. No dice, said the judge. Since the jail videotapes every inmate in the same situation, he saw no reason allow the motion. In his two-page ruling, he said he can’t force the jail to “cease and desist from videotaping Ms. Anthony’s meeting with her attorneys.”

    Strickland ordered that he must view any videos of attorney visits behind closed doors before any of them are released to the public. He said he has concerns about their content because he has seen at least one that would impact Casey’s right to a fair trial. It is unclear what video (or videos) he was referring to in his motion.

    Surprise! Surprise!

    Actually, the decisions the judge rendered yesterday with no explanations were no surprise at all. First, he denied the defense’s request to destroy video of any and all visits from her family. George and Cindy said they haven’t gone to the jail to see their daughter for fear that the recordings will be released to an overzealous public while being unfairly picked apart by media commentators. True, but in my opinion, she has the same rights as other prisoners - no more, no less.

    Judge Strickland also denied the defense’s request to dismiss any of the fraud charges against their client. All 13 counts against Casey will stand. She (allegedly) stole checks from her friend Amy Huizenga’s checkbook to pay for clothes and groceries. Jury selection for the fraud trial should begin this week and the trial date is set for January 25, 2010. If Casey pleads or is found guilty, she will be sentenced according to first time offender guidelines. (See: Double Jeopardy)

    Finally, the judge ruled that a recorded statement made by Joe Jordan cannot be released. The Texas EquuSearch volunteer illegally recorded a conversation that took place with a defense investigator without the investigator’s consent. Jordan (allegedly) told both the defense and prosecution two different stories about whether he searched the same woods where Caylee’s remains were discovered.

    Judge Strickland heard these motions, plus two more, last Friday. He should rule on the remaining two [see update at top of article] at any time. They are whether the state can pursue the death penalty and whether the jail can continue recording meetings between Casey and her attorneys. In my opinion, last week’s hearing - which I attended - will be a complete wash-out for the defense. There are no solid reasons to dismiss the death penalty at this time, and the judge cannot, nor will he, order the jail to stop doing what it does. It is up to the county because that’s the governing body that controls the jail.

    Were the motions meaningless and a waste of resources? No, I don’t think so. The defense has to throw whatever it can at the wall of justice, in hopes that something sticks. The argument Andrea Lyon gave in court Friday regarding the death penalty was compelling, but it fell short of convincing me and I am just a bystander. I am positive we will hear more motions to preclude the death penalty for months to come after this one fails. In the meantime, Judge Stan Strickland rules!

    Tuesday
    Dec152009

    A Mother Accused

    Andrea D. Lyon’s new book, Angel of Death Row: My life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer, is due to hit bookstores next month. An excerpt from her book has been published online at Scribd. Titled A Mother Accused, it chronicles the experience of a young mother accused of the murder of her baby girl and how the attorney, then in her thirties, handled the case. It’s a rather interesting choice, since, at first glance, it could easily be the title of the new chapter in her life - representing a young mother who stands on the edge of death for murdering her two-year-old daughter.

    Before I begin deciphering the excerpt, I want to make clear my intention. I do not take kindly to name calling. Andrea Lyon did not get to her position as the Director of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases and Clinical Professor of Law, plus Associate Dean for Clinical Programs at DePaul University based on looks alone. Albert Einstein was no Cary Grant and Stephen Hawking is no George Clooney, but they are the two most brilliant minds to come down the pike in my lifetime. I have no doubt about Andrea Lyon’s credentials and attorneys do what attorneys do. If you denounce her, you must denounce the lot of them who defend murder suspects. I will assess her role in the innocent man’s spending 26 years in prison for the crime he didn’t commit, but first a little more background and a closer look at what she wrote in her book.

    Lyon has tried more than 130 homicide cases in and out of the public defender’s office. She has defended more than 30 potential capital cases at the trial level and of those, she took 19 through the penalty phase, winning every one of them. Dubbed the “Angel of Death Row” by the Chicago Tribune, she was the first woman to serve as a lead attorney on a death penalty case. Alan M. Dershowitz once said that she “was born to be an angel of death row, and a devil to those who see execution as a quick fix for the social ills of our age.”

    There is no doubt that criminal defense attorneys, and certainly Lyon, are dead set against the death penalty. In her very first case, as she defended the young mother, this excerpt takes a look at how her mind works…

    A Mother Accused begins with Andrea Lyon’s initial revulsion upon learning that she would be defending the mother of a dead baby and how much she dreaded when that day would come. DamnA dead baby case. She begins this odyssey with her work in child advocacy during law school, where she represented children who were subjected to abuse and neglect. She wrote that no matter what, those children still loved their parents and it was very seldom they would want to leave their homes, no matter how miserable they were. She had a problem deciding when the state should step in, so she intended to stay away from work involving abused children. OK, it was not her cup of tea. I can understand that. A decade later, she was a homicide public defender and had to represent this woman charged with first-degree murder. The mother had admitted to hitting the girl so hard in the stomach that the duodenum separating the stomach from the intestines had burst. The toddler’s own body had poisoned her.

    When Lyon entered the interview room at the women’s jail, she introduced herself and began to ask questions. The “small, slender African-American woman with delicate features and big eyes” was reluctant to talk. The young mother asked if it was safe to talk to her. She wondered if she would get in any trouble. Lyon told the girl whatever she was told, she was not allowed to disclose any of it without her permission. The only exception to the rule is if the client intends to commit a crime and, by warning, an attorney can prevent it. Attorney-client privilege is a very serious matter, in other words.

    The girl opened up. She told Lyon she wanted to go to her baby’s funeral. That’s what she said to the police after they told her what to say so she could go. Confess to the crime, so she did. Police didn’t chain her up, they didn’t starve her, and they didn’t lay a finger on her. Instead, they used what Lyon describes as effective police coercion. They took advantage of the woman’s emotional vulnerability to get her to confess. Meanwhile, a felony review assistant from the Chicago prosecutor’s office questioned her later and she told him what the officers told her to say. She said she had falsely confessed to the murder.

    In the end, it was Lyon’s tenacious spirit and hard work that solved the crime. The young mother did not kill her baby. When she realized something was wrong, she went from the neighborhood health clinic to, not one, but two emergency rooms and it wasn’t until a nurse arrived accompanying a relative that she recognized the toddler had gone into cardiac arrest. Immediately, after hours and hours of waiting, she got help. By then, it was too late. The ER staff had administered CPR with full hand instead of fingers or the heel of the hand and that compounded the child’s problems. In the end, she died, but Lyon was able to ascertain that a babysitter was responsible, along with ER doctors. The toddler had accidentally plunged down the stairs of the apartment building. The mother and her boyfriend had saved up to go out for the evening. The stairs had no railings. It was rife with rough, splintered, nail embedded wooden steps. The little girl cried afterward, but seemed OK and the babysitter put her to bed. Had it not been for Lyon, we’d probably never know what would have happened to that young mother. Would she still be in prison or working on another appeal for a crime she did not commit?

    OK, let’s get back to the matter at hand. Of course, police can’t legally coerce a confession out of anyone. They can’t really tell a gang member they’ll rat on him if he doesn’t tell them what they want to hear. Most assuredly, when word gets out on the street, that is a death sentence as sure as what the court could do. More so, and I understand how bad cops work. (See: I’d like to thank the prosecutor’s wife)

    In her book, Andrea Lyon states that there is constitutional protection against a person being compelled to testify against himself. That doesn’t mean the defendant need not take the stand. What it does mean is that a confession that isn’t voluntary cannot be used. Because judges don’t want to appear soft on crime and the police would, invariably, deny coercion, this woman would spend her life in jail. My point is that we cannot always look at law enforcement as the good guys in white hats. There are bad apples in every bushel. That’s all I am saying and I am not implying it in the Anthony case, where I feel everything has been followed to the letter of the law. However, Casey’s defense may speculate on some of those tactics. Right or wrong, this isn’t about cops gone bad. This is about what a defense should do and it is to protect their client. Right now, is it Lyon’s job to defend Casey regarding her guilt or innocence or is it to keep her from the throes of death?

    Andrea Lyon addressed the issue of an innocent man spending 26 years of his life in prison. I understand the legal ramifications and what this is all about. However, it is not my position to take a stand on the right or wrong of her decision. I will merely explain why she did what she did, in her own words, and let you decide and discuss it. I will proffer my opinion on who else could be blamed.

    She wrote about two colleagues of hers who were representing a man who truthfully confessed to shooting two police officers. The lawyers were able to avoid the death penalty, but their client would spend the rest of his life in prison. Lyon had helped with the investigation and in writing motions. At one point, the client told his lawyers - not Lyon - that he had committed an additional murder for which another man was on trial. The client could have faced the death penalty and refused to confess. The innocent man was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Remember attorney-client privilege?  Hoping the guilty man would release his lawyers so they could reveal the truth, the man never did and they were bound by law to remain silent. Their client never relented, but the attorneys, including Lyon, drafted an affidavit early on, which she notarized, and hid in a lockbox. She said her colleagues consulted legal experts, “seeking some exception to privilege.” Each time, the answer was no, there is none. Their obligation rested solely with their client.

    We all know the outcome. 26 years later, the guilty man died and his attorneys were free to divulge the truth. The innocent man was soon released, but that was no prize. He would never get those 26 years of his life back. What Lyon wrote was that while the morality of the system may be debatable, the law and legal ethics are not. She was bound by law and professional ethics to keep her mouth shut. This leads me to a question and it’s two-fold. Was it completely Andrea Lyons fault, the guilty man’s attorneys fault, or was it the state’s fault for bringing up charges against this man to begin with? What did prosecutors do to not only implicate an innocent man, but to impress upon a jury that the man was guilty, guilty, guilty? What did law enforcement do? To me, it is evident that they didn’t do a very good job, and if there is blame on Lyon, which is, technically, secondary, what caused the primary players to be so errant? Why is no one condemning the lawyers who represented the guilty man? Does anyone even know their names? Why not the authorities?

    On a final note, before you condemn me for defending Andrea Lyon, understand that it is far from the truth. I condemn the death penalty, I have the right to believe in it or not, and I have the right to defend myself against personal attacks. Remember, you are allowed your own system of beliefs, too, and none of us are on trial. If you do condemn Lyon for who she represents, talk to Madison Hobley. He was on death row for a crime he did not commit. According to the book’s introduction, she has made it her life to defend clients who cannot afford a lawyer, just like him, and like Casey Anthony, they are the people many would love to see dead. Personally, I would rather see her spend the rest of her life in prison if found guilty. I will never understand how anyone could be against abortion, but for the death penalty. A life is a life is a life, whether tainted by sin or not. That is my opinion only. Who am I to play God with another person’s life? Who are we, nothing more than armchair sleuths, to decide? When did we cross the line from examining the crime to playing judge and jury?

     

    Wednesday
    Dec092009

    NOT GUILTY! Bustamante pleads

    Alyssa Bustamante sat silently in court yesterday, cold and emotionless, before her attorney entered a not guilty plea to charges in her arraignment for the first-degree murder of 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten by strangulation and stabbing, along with armed criminal action. By doing so, she waived a formal arraignment to the charges handed down to her by Cole County Circuit Court Judge Pat Joyce.

    READ THE INDICTMENT COUNTS

    In the courtroom sat family and friends of the victim, all wearing pink. A handful of Bustamante’s supporters sat on the other side. Her grandmother, who is her legal guardian, was not there.

    During a November 18 hearing, she was certified to stand trial as an adult. A few hours later, she stood in front of Cole County Judge Jon Beetum to be arraigned. Because she had no lawyer present, the judge entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.

    Originally, the status hearing was scheduled for December 7 to see if Bustamante had an attorney. That hearing was cancelled on December 3 and the re-arraignment was scheduled for yesterday because she is now being represented by a public defender, Jan King.

    “Its routine for the court to only do the arraignment when the lawyer is available with his or her client,” Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson said.“So, back on the 18th, what occurred actually was the judge read the charges to her, informed her of the charges, but did not conduct an official arraignment.”

    He continued to elaborate why that is. “On an arraignment, the courts want to ensure that the person’s lawyer is there and available because that arraignment triggers certain time limitations to file certain motions.”

    Bustamante’s lawyer has already filed one of the motions; a request that she be transferred to the Fulton State Mental Hospital for a few days for evaluation. Judge Joyce did not rule on that request because her attorney did not ask the judge to consider the motion.

    Under Missouri law, when a suspect under the age of 16 commits a crime, the death penalty cannot be sought. Despite her being tried as an adult, the most she can get, if found guilty, is life in prison without parole.

    While Bustamante’s case was still in juvenile court, Judge Beetum was overseeing the proceedings, Juvenile Court Lawyer Samantha Green was the prosecutor and Kurt Valentine was her lawyer. That all changed when she was charged as an adult. A lot changed in Cole County, too, after Elizabeth Olten’s senseless death - all because a teenage girl wanted to know what it felt like to kill. Today, she will remain behind bars at the Morgan County Jail because there is little room for female inmates at the Cole County Jail. There is no room in our minds for the sad and violent death of Elizabeth Olten, either. One day, justice will come. Until then, we must wait and let the wheels of justice turn slowly, just like Caylee Anthony, gone a year and a half now.

    Bustamante has a status hearing scheduled for February 16, a little more than two months away.

     

    Tuesday
    Dec082009

    A couple of guys you may know

    Here is a photo I took outside of the OCSO Central Operations Center last Thursday. On the left is former Sheriff Kevin Beary. He will be profiled in an upcoming article. The gentleman on the right is Sgt. John Allen. I believe most of you are familiar with him. If you wonder how and why I took this picture, I will leave you guessing until a future document dump. Meanwhile, one of the things Sgt. Allen told me was that even when the scent of death was in the trunk of Casey’s car, law enforcement never gave up hope that Caylee was still alive. Over 100 deputies and FBI special agents continued intensive and extensive searches for the missing toddler and they followed up on every lead.

     

     

    Friday
    Dec042009

    A letter from Mark NeJame

    I received the following letter from a very nice person who is quite concerned about this case. She wishes to remain anonymous, but she gets full credit for this - not me. Of course, I thanked her very much. You can, too. Just call her KWM.

    In her opening remarks to me, she wrote, “I read all the sites about Caylee, including yours. I enjoy your views. Like you, I try not to let my emotions get in the way of facts. I also put a lot of importance on the original motion by the defense to gain TES search records and I was also concerned about it since many of our [group] took part in the search and as a [group] we contributed financially to TES and provided food and water, etc. I was also intrigued and concerned about Conway having access to the records as was reported in the media. As this news broke in August, TES came under fire by many bloggers as it appeared that TES had given Conway information. I doubted that was the case in its simplistic sense so I wrote to Mark NeJame. He sent me this [response] on August 29.”

    THE LETTER:

    Thank you for contacting me and expressing your concern and the concern of your fellow members. I appreciate the professional way you approached me and your efforts to get the truth out rather than allow rumors to control the flow of information. We all know how that happens repeatedly and has happened so much in the Caylee Anthony case.

    I did not specifically disclose the name of the 32 searchers to Brad Conway. I received the information on all the searchers obtained by Tim Miller and Texas Equusearch. I maintained possession of them so that they would not be compromised or leaked. There were some media reports initially that the Anthony’s and Jose Baez were claiming that the searchers had been at the spot where Caylee was found and that her body was placed there afterwards. I allowed Brad Conway to review the records in my office so that he could ascertain that none of the searchers were at the spot where Caylee was found. He was not allowed to take any notes, copy any documents or leave with any information. He tagged some of the files of those who were in the general area. I permitted Linda Drane Burdick, the prosecutor in the case to do the same thing. She reviewed the documents in my office under the same rules and conditions that I permitted to Mr. Conway . She similarly tabbed some files and reviewed the tagged files left by Mr. Conway. I also had an independent member of Texas Equusearch review each of the files and further tab files of those in the general area where Caylee was found.

    Neither Mr. Conway or Ms. Drane Burdick left with any information whatsoever. No names or files were released. Despite some opinions from those who don’t know or are prejudiced because of his clients, Mr. Conway, is an ethical and good person. He wanted to confirm to his clients that nobody tampered with  Caylee’s remains. He was able to inform them that he had reviewed the search documents and that nobody had been to the specific area where Caylee was found. Mr. Conway was satisfied in this regard. I hoped that would eliminate the rumors that were started in this regard. I do believe that neither George or Cindy Anthony or Brad Conway ever made any public statements thereafter that Caylee had been placed there after the spot was searched. Obviously, Mr. Baez and his team are now stating otherwise, but they have never been privy to the documents.

    It had come to my attention that the prosecution wanted to call certain members of Texas Equusearch as possible witnesses in the case. They were interested in the searchers who were in the area where Caylee was found. It was not possible to turn them over to the State without disclosing them to the defense as well. Moreover, I was very concerned that a partial release would “open the door” to the defense for all 4,000 searchers. As such, I made a strategic decision to allow the information release of the 32 searchers. I believed that the Court was going to Order this anyway. There was no expectation of privacy to these 32 as they would be deemed to have relevant information, as ground conditions of the area had become relevant. Moreover, the State wanted this information and with Florida ’s liberal discovery rules, the defense would automatically get this. I used the argument that Mr. Conway had reviewed the documents in Court to show that he had similarly determined that these were the only relevant files and searchers. Apparently, the Court agreed with my argument, as the Order entered today limits Mr. Baez and the defense and completely adopted our position. The 32 have yet to be released but they will. Texas Equusearch called most of these 32 prior to the hearing and with the exception of one moderately disgruntled searcher who found this bothersome, everyone who was reached was agreeable to the disclosure and understood why they were material. The way I had it handled prevented anyone from being disclosed or identified until the Court entered its Order. No one, to my knowledge, has heretofore been contacted by the defense, appeared on the internet or been publicly identified. The defense never had the information.

    I hope this answers all of your concerns. It is important that the truth be known and I really appreciate the opportunity to fully explain. I have developed great respect and empathy for the searchers of missing people and with the close relationship I have developed with Tim Miller, I am especially sensitive to protecting Texas Equusearch volunteers.

    Let me know if you need any additional information or if I can provide any additional assistance. Please share with your fellow members how much their work is appreciated and how much I respect their dedication and efforts.

    Warm regards,

    Mark NeJame


    Thursday
    Dec032009

    One year to the date

    On December 11, 2008, the bones of Caylee Marie Anthony were discovered in a wooded area on the south side of Suburban Drive, in Orlando. Precisely one year later, her mother will be fighting for her own life in front of Orange County Circuit Court Judge Stan Strickland, when her defense attorneys argue that the state was wrong for seeking the death penalty.

    In their motion filed in September, Casey Anthony’s lawyers claimed that state prosecutors do not have a legitimate interest or enough aggravating circumstances to recommend a penalty of death against her. This is an interesting motion because the brunt of evidence is circumstantial. However, it’s hardly precedent setting. There have been many cases where defendants have been convicted and subsequently executed based on nothing more than circumstantial evidence. Think of “Bruno” Richard Hauptmann, executed in 1936 for the kidnapping and death of the son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. Hauptmann’s trial took place in Flemington, New Jersey, my hometown. Called “The Crime of the Century,” I have studied the case extensively. Perhaps, it’s the reason why I have such a keen interest in what will probably be dubbed “The Crime of the 21st Century,” transpiring before me in my adopted hometown of Orlando.

    Two other motions will be heard that day and they pertain to recording videos made of Casey at the Orange County Jail. Her defense wants the judge to prohibit officials from recording her visits with them. Jail spokesman Allen Moore said that these types of recordings are routine and they follow corrections policies. They are for the protection of the inmates and their attorneys.

    “Our recording system in that part of the jail does not have the ability to record audio,” Moore said. “We have followed jail policies and rules very carefully and directly and we intend to continue do so. We will attempt to accommodate Mr. Baez, but never outside of jail policy.”

    The visits between attorney Jose Baez and Casey are usually held in a classroom that is always digitally videotaped without audio.

    In the other jail related motion, Baez asked the court to “destroy any and all video or audio tapes or reports or other records in its possession memorializing meetings between Miss Anthony and her attorneys.”

    Please don’t squeeze the inmate

    Sometimes, a corrections officer is stationed outside the classroom or in one of the monitoring rooms where jail personnel can only watch the meetings and this is standard procedure for all inmates. Normally, no reports are ever filed. However, in October, 2008, personnel warned Baez that he was not allowed to touch his clients after officers saw him hugging Casey. Moore said that jail policy forbids any kind of touching between visitors and inmates.

    Also, if you recall, a video was shot last year on the day her daughter’s remains were found. Corrections Officer, Lt. Tammy Unger, told OCSO detectives that Casey began to breathe rapidly, her hands became sweaty and red blotches appeared on her neck after hearing the news on TV. She also requested a sedative. Her defense team didn’t want the video to be released to the media. Although it contained no audio, they argued successfully that it could be misleading and it violated her right to medical privacy. Judge Strickland concurred and he sealed the video in June.

    I will attempt to go to this hearing. If I do, you will read a first-hand account of my experience.

    Monday
    Nov302009

    Say hello to Laura and Joe

    Never heard of them? You will.

    A critical part of any homicide case, for both the prosecution and defense, is determining how and when the victim died. Necessary to this determination is finding the deceased’s body and determining at what time it was placed in the location it was found. Records in the possession of TES contain information directly pertaining to this determination.

    - Jose Baez and Andrea Lyon

    While the Casey pundits were screaming, “They went that-a-way,” and all eyes focused on the Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant’sMotion in Limine to Introduce Prior Bad Acts and other Circumstantial Evidence Pertaining to Roy M. Kronk, I was looking there and somewhere else. Four days after the “perverted” Roy Kronk motion was filed, another one was, too. Quickly, does anyone know what it was?

    Time’s up.

    I am very well aware that 11 new motions and memorandums were filed on the day before Thanksgiving, but I think because this one was quietly introduced and sandwiched between Roy and the latest round, no one noticed it. I did. I might write something about those new court filings, but until then, I’ll be content with Richard Hornsby’s explanation in response to a comment query:

    All of these motions are standard motions filed in Death Penalty cases. They are necessary to preserve constitutional objections in the event the United States Supreme Court later decides that certain death penalty procedures are unconstitutional.

    However, the Statement of Particulars should have been filed a long time ago. It will help enlighten us as to what exactly the State’s theory is behind the First Degree Murder charge.

    Fascinating! Not only are they not stupid - as you may suspect all of the defense’s motions are - but by filing them, it may elicit information from the state pertaining to what, exactly, the state’s theory is behind the first-degree murder charge. Aha, a meaningful purpose! Hmm. Perhaps, it will provide some insight into why she was charged with premeditation, as well. What I’d like to know, like Hornsby, is why did it take them so long?

    Back to November 23. It was a Motion to Modify the Court’s Order on Defendant’s Application for Subpoena Duces Tecum for Documents in the Possession of Texas EquuSearch with an attached memorandum.Before I begin, most of you should be familiar with what a subpoena duces tecum is by now. If you aren’t, it’s a writ or process similar to the subpoena ad testificandum, which means to appear and give oral testimony for use at a hearing or trial, with the difference being that the witness must bring with them or produce to the court all books, papers, and what nots, in his hands, tending to elucidate the matter in issue. In other words, it’s a command to produce documents; to cough up the goods. (see: Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.361(c)(1) )

    Remember when one of Casey’s attorneys, Todd Macaluso, opened his mouth at a pretrial hearing in August, blurting out that they had proof their client was in jail when Caylee’s body was dumped in the woods? Yup, this is what it’s about.

    “There is substantial evidence that we’ve found … that the body or remains of Caylee Anthony was placed there after Casey Anthony was locked up. It proves that somebody else placed the remains in the area.”

    Do you recall that, because of it, everyone immediately jumped on Joy Wray’s case and assumed she was just that person who would testify for the defense? Who else could it be? Well, you’re wrong. It’s not her and I asked people on my blog to leave her out of it for this very reason. During a motion, memorandum and certificate of materiality of an out-of-state witness application filed back in July, Anthony’s attorneys asked Judge Strickland to allow them tointerview Tim Millerthe head of the search-and-rescue group Texas EquuSearch. They claimed his testimony would provide proof that it would have been impossible for Casey Anthony to dispose of Caylee’s body. That was the key that led me to believe it would be more than Wray because she was readily available, regardless of Tim Miller and EquuSearch. Duh. She lives here.

    Because this motion filed on November 23 is a request to modify a court order, what was the original order and what does this motion seek to modify? In the original motion and later memorandum of law, the defense asked the court to certify Miller as a material witness, or at least force him to supply documents in the possession of Texas EquuSearch. TES had responded that “none of the thousands of searchers who volunteered with TES were ever at the exact spot where Caylee Anthony’s remains were found.” It went on to assert that, upon going through the documents from thousands of volunteers, TES identified only 32 who “searched the area between Hidden Oaks Elementary School and around where the remains were found.”

    On August 29, Judge Strickland ordered TES to disclose to the state and defense those documents relating to the 32 people who performed searches in those areas.

    In the recent filing, this is where it starts to get tricky and it gets to the crux of the matter…

    The Defense, through its own independent investigation, has interviewed several TES searchers who not only searched the area where the remains were found, but who were not among the thirty-two (32) identified by TES.

    Yes, you read that right. In this motion, the defense claims it has statements from TES searchers who were left off the list the court ordered Tim Miller to supply. Of course, Miller did supply the 32 he was ordered to release. What does all this mean? It means that, according to Baez & Co., more than 32 people searched the area between Hopespring and the elementary school along Suburban Drive and they signed statements saying so. The defense, through it’s own independent investigation, interviewed several TES personnel who not only searched the area, they were left off the list. The memorandum further states that none of the persons who searched the area where Caylee Anthony’s remains were later found reported anything unusual. They did not find a body, they did not notice any smells associated with a body, and they did not see any unusual animal or insect activity which might be indicative of a decaying body.

    It accuses TES of being inaccurate because there were, indeed, searchers in the area where the toddler’s remains were found. It also accuses TES of withholding information that is most relevant to the defense. It asks the court to revise the previous order and to force TES to disclose all materials relating to the searches it conducted.

    OK, just what and who did Miller omit and is it really all that relevant to the defense? I know for a fact that land east of Orlando is prone to flooding. How do I know? I lived there and I say so. I went to Suburban Drive on numerous occasions and shot video footage that chronicled each visit. I made it a point to go to those woods at key times of the year. I went in mid-August (see: Driving Miss Casey Part 1and that represented the date when Roy Kronk first called 911. The woods were swampy and uninviting. When I shot my last video there (see: Suburban Drive Same Time Last Yearon November 17, the woods were quite dry, so somewhere between August 12 and November 17, the woods were clear enough to walk through, but remember, last year, the brush was higher, denser and no foliage had been removed. Were those woods clear enough to search in early September, 2008? I don’t know.

    According to the memorandum attached to the motion:

    On September 1, 2008, Joe Jordan, a volunteer for TES, along with approximately 30 other TES volunteers went to the Suburban Drive neighborhood to search for Caylee Anthony. Of those 30 volunteers, approximately five or six, along with Joe Jordan, searched the area near the wooden stockade fence on the south side of 8750 Suburban Drive. Along with Joe Jordan, and the other five or six searchers, were two dog handlers with dogs, Danny Ibison and a Panama City Sheriff’s Deputy. The area they searched was within feet of where Caylee Anthony’s remains were ultimately found. Joe Jordan documented his search in detail forms specifically provided by TES and submitted those forms to TES officials. Joe Jordan’s name was not among the thirty-two (32) searchers identified by TES and none of his reports were disclosed to the defense.

    If true, this is some heavy stuff that we cannot just shrug off or take lightly. The memorandum further states:

    On September 3, 2008, Laura Buchanan, a volunteer for TES, along with the team to which she was assigned, searched the area on Suburban Drive near where Caylee Anthony’s remains were ultimately found. The group searched the area for three to four hours, and Laura Buchanan personally searched near the wooden privacy fence and worked her way towards, and beyond where Caylee Anthony’s body was ultimately found. She did not notice anything unusual. There were no strange smells or any unusual animal or insect activity. It is Laura Buchanan’s opinion based on her observations that Caylee Anthony’s body was not there at the time of her team’s search. Laura Buchanan was not listed among the thirty-two (32) searchers identified as having been on Suburban Drive. Furthermore, no documents among those disclosed by TES, relate to a search on September 3, 2008.

    There are 2 attached exhibits that back-up the defense’s claims, but it does not stop there. At issue is still the question of whether services provided by TES are legally considered services rendered and subject to Florida’s long-arm statute (see: Steel Joist Institute, Inc. v. J.H. Mann III, Inc.) by acting as an agent of law enforcement through its efforts to locate the missing child and were, therefore, conducting business within the state of Florida.

    The test for determining whether private individuals are agents of the government is whether, in consideration of the circumstances, the individuals acted as instruments of the state. To determine whether a private individual acts as an instrument of the state, courts look to (1) whether the government was aware of and acquiesced in the conduct; and (2) whether the individual intended to assist the police or further his own ends. (quoted from: Florida Criminal Law Opinions, State v. Moninger)

    The defense claims in its motion that the documents in question are kept in Florida at the office of Mark NeJame, counsel for TES, and thus subject to the powers of the court. It accuses TES of misrepresenting to the court - and Judge Strickland - the contents of the documents it possessed.

    “[T]he items requested by the Defendant, through her counsel, would be immaterial and irrelevant. None of thousands of searchers, who volunteered with TES, were ever at the exact spot where Caylee Anthony’s remains were found,” emphasis added. The response then goes on to state that members of TES have combed through the thousands of documents and identified only thirty-two (32) volunteers who searched the Suburban Neighborhood. TES did not object to turning over the paperwork of these thirty-two (32) volunteers it identified, however, stated that disclosing documents pertaining to any other searches “would be immaterial and irrelevant to this issue.”

    Here is where it really gets to the point:

    1. The signed statements from Joe Jordan and Laura Buchanan, included with this Memorandum of Law, indicate that there were several people who searched the Suburban Drive neighborhood but were not among the thirty-two (32) names disclosed by TES. (see Exhibits A & B below.)
    2. TES has not shown sufficient bar to requiring full disclosure.

    One of the arguments the defense claims is that TES was in opposition of full disclosure based on a perceived “chilling effect” that would hamper the ability to obtain volunteers for future efforts. In other words, allowing the disclosure of searchers’ identities would subject them to media scrutiny and deter people from volunteering in the future. OK, that sounds reasonable, but the defense struck back by citing several volunteers that were willingly interviewed by the media, disclosing their names. Is that really an argument? The ones who did give their names were responsible for their own decisions to do so, not TES. On the other hand, people don’t volunteer on the condition that they are assigned to areas that will be relevant to a future criminal case. In a capital crime, and the defendant stands to die at the hands of the state, is a volunteer’s identity all that sacred?

    Is the court obliged to satisfy the defense because of “inaccurate representations” by TES? The defense certainly thinks so and it’s asking the Honorable Judge Stan Strickland to revisit his previous order because of new and compelling information, only now, the defense is asking for ALL of the records. Of course, I could ask you for $100. Does that mean you’ll give it to me? I doubt it, but you might be inclined to give me $20. Or Joe Jordan and Laura Buchanan.

    Exhibit A


    Exhibit B


    Tuesday
    Nov242009

    Alyssa Bustamante will be sent to mental hospital for evaluation

    Alyssa Bustamante has been held at the Morgan County jail since being indicted last Wednesday as an adult on charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the killing of her 9-year-old neighbor, Elizabeth Olten. According to a very reliable source, she is in with the general population and is allowed contact with other inmates, despite media reports to the contrary. She is not in lockdown or under suicide watch.

    Last week, Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce ordered her to be taken to the Fulton State Hospital for up to 96 hours. The judge wrote the order on Thursday, but it was unclear when the order was to begin because it had no time stamp. She was supposed to be moved to the hospital after her lawyer said she showed signs of severe depression and anxiety.

    Law enforcement officials stated that Bustamante strangled, stabbed and cut Elizabeth’s throat on October 21 because she just wanted to know what it felt like to kill. Authorities said she confessed and led them to the body 2 days later in woods near both homes in St. Martins,  town just west of Jefferson City.

     

    LOOK AT HER LEFT WRIST

     

    During last Wednesday’s hearing, a juvenile officer testified that she had tried to kill herself two years ago and had received inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment for depression and cutting herself. While being held in juvenile custody before the hearing, her public defender at the time, Jan King, cited that Bustamante was“demonstrating signs of severe depression and anxiety” and had been under a suicide watch at the jail. Bustamante attempted to cut herself with her own fingernails while being held in juvenile custody after Elizabeth’s death.

    King also said that Bustamante needed“immediate psychological treatment” to“assess her current mental state and to prevent the possibility that she may harm herself.”

    During her initial appearance last Wednesday, Cole County Judge Jon Beetem entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. If she is convicted, she would face a sentence of life in prison without parole.

    Let’s see what psychiatrists and psychologists have to say, but there’s no doubt that Alyssa Bustamante is one very disturbed person.

    Monday
    Nov232009

    Sticks and Stones

    “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

    - Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Hamlet 2.2.255-256)

    When we were young we used to cite an old phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It’s a real shame that today, many adults are hellbent on reinventing their youth by calling people vile names and the one on the receiving end sometimes feels pain at the whim of the person or persons calling them out. Today, we have the Internet and fake identities to hide behind and some feel empowered by it. “Yay! A free license to act like a child again where words can be more painful than sticks and stones.”

    I’m not talking about just name calling, either. I don’t consider “Mr. Suspenders”much of an insult any more than I consider it a term of endearment, but to call someone that “bald-headed, pickle-brain, freak” is not very nice. There’s also a huge difference between the two because you have made the leap from an observation about someone’s attire, be it quirky or not, to one of something not easily remedied, as if the person’s baldness or any other physical attribute has anything to do with it. It’s extremely immature. Just as spiteful is calling Obama the “N” word. It’s racist and hateful. Making fun of a part of his anatomy, like his ears, is almost as bad because those are the ears he was born with. Personally, I’m more inclined to consider what’s between them than anything else.

    Today, so much of what’s going on in online forums and blogs regarding the Caylee Anthony murder reminds me of the classic mob scene where villagers grabbed torches and marched up the hill to the Frankenstein castle to burn it to the ground. It was an excellent illustration of mob mentality. There was no arrest, no trial, and punishment was swift. Have we all gone mad? When the village accused Frankenstein of being insane, they became just as insane. How many of you are growing so impatient over the case that you take your frustrations out on those around you, forgetting that the wheels of justice turn slowly? The world does not revolve around us.

    There’s also a major difference between name calling and making false accusations. Just last night, someone accused a person of inciting trouble elsewhere and she called the person on the carpet for it. The person accused sent me an e-mail explaining that she had never commented on the alleged site and was very hurt by it. Just where is this world coming to when rampant, unsubstantiated, insults are thrown at people with impunity?

    Unfortunately, and whether any of you want to believe it or not, the process of name calling is generally based upon a person’s lack of self-esteem and because of it, the person tries to make themselves feel more powerful by utilizing this child-like ploy. If you call me a name and I get upset over it, then you temporarily feel more powerful because you had some sort of powerful effect on me. Because of my reaction, your self-esteem rose at my expense. You just projected your unhappiness on me and made me feel upset! Whoopee, and you feel great about it?

    How sad.

    If I don’t get upset at your attempt, you cannot dump your unhappiness on me. In child psychology, it is commonly recognized that children on the receiving end of insults left unbothered is devastating to the ones casting the verbal jabs and quickly, they fade away. They stop insulting because they won no prize. The benefit is that the name callers will usually feel worse because the receiver refused to react and failure is tough to swallow. Try to keep these things in mind:

    • The name caller is feeling weak today.
    • Whatever people say about me says nothing about me but it sure does say a whole lot about them.
    • If I get upset by someone calling me a name, then I have given away my power.

    From now on, and I had to put rules up because of it, there will be a zero tolerance policy for name calling. There will no tolerance for making accusations of any kind to anyone else on my blog. Period. We have all been guilty of it, but mark my words, your comments will be removed and you will no longer be welcome. If you have a personal problem regarding someone here, you know my e-mail address. If not, it’s right there, on the sidebar. If you feel maligned elsewhere, take it elsewhere and let that moderator manage it.

    I find it peculiarly odd that after a year of reading about the Scamthonys, Sindy, Crazey and almost every other name in the book, those same self-righteous hypocrites would condemn Richard Hornsby for calling Bill Sheaffer “Mr. Suspenders.” Really? The only thing that upset them was taking Mr. Sheaffer’s name in vain. Had Hornsby written about the Scamthonys, they would have bellowed their approval from the rooftops.

    I know it’s tough sometimes to not bash someone, but if you all want justice for Caylee, this is not the way to go about it. By now, had she lived, she would be a lot more mature than a lot of us. Of that, I am certain.

     

    Saturday
    Nov212009

    Kronk to Caylee: Zero degrees of separation

    Why is the defense sending their crack PI out investigating Roy Kronk? Why aren’t they searching for Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez instead?

    There is a game I’m sure you are all aware of called six degrees of separation. The premise is that if you are one step away from each person you know and two steps away from each person they know, then everyone is, at most, six steps away from any other person on earth. It was popularized by the play, Six Degrees of Separation, written by John Guare in 1990. It was also the title of a movie released in 1993. I’m sure you are familiar with the very similar game known as The Kevin Bacon Game or Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. It started after he claimed that he had worked with everyone in Hollywood. The objective rests on the assumption that any actor can be linked to Kevin Bacon through his or her film roles within six steps.

    My challenge is to prove that Casey has a definitive and viable connection to Roy Kronk and I will do that. First, I’ll try an easy one, just for kicks. I can connect Casey Anthony to Kevin Bacon and I can do it in less than six degrees of separation. Wanna bet? Casey knows Jose Baez, who knows Geraldo Rivera, who knows Dennis Miller, who knows Kevin Bacon. That’s four, so there. No Zenaida anywhere in sight and it is not my intent to provide any evidence of Kevin Bacon’s guilt or involvement in the murder of anyone, so I will leave his name out. God knows he could be implicated by the defense. In the meantime, I fully expect tabloid fodder to soon read something like this…

    ALIEN ABDUCTORS TELL TRUTH ABOUT CAYLEE

    ROY KRONK IS CAYLEE’S FATHER

    OK, back on solid ground. You know how absurd it is that Roy Kronk could be a suspect in the disappearance and murder of Caylee Anthony, but toss the idea around in your head for a while. OK, it’s still bizarre. No need to continue. It’s as crazy as the above headline and it’s ludicrous to remotely conceptualize, but the bottom line is that good old boy Roy is expected to be one of the key witnesses for the state. We think, in unison, that the defense is grasping at straws, which it is, but I firmly believe the only objectives here are to poison the state’s forensic evidence, or if that fails, to create an element of doubt in the minds of jurors.Could it have been someone else? We know the state must prove Casey’s guilt, so the onus is on prosecutors. Do I personally think the latest motion in limine* filed by the defense is an injustice to Mr. Kronk? You bet, because law enforcement cleared him early on, but in the defense team’s scheme, all they have to do is attack his credibility as a state witness. Mark Fuhrman knows all about that from his experience with defense attorneys at the OJ Simpson murder trial. Did Roy ever use the “N” word? Yes, as in Nope, I had nothing to do with it.” Toss out a blinding smoke bomb. Confuse the 12. Before this comes in front of a jury, though, the defense wants the case thrown out because their client was the only person of interest in a murder and that’s an injustice, pure and simple. Unethical and unfair. The real killer could be hiding among us to this day, or it could be Kronk.

    If we ever saw bad medicine in the making, there’s a Doctor Baez needle of doubt waiting to be injected. The only thing is, neither the judge, nor a jury, needs or wants a dose of whatever he’s dispensing. Personally, if the prescription remains the same, it’s more like laughing gas and it’s a malpractice suit in the form of a retrial waiting to happen around the corner of a big time cancerous conviction that will sap the life out of their patient, one Casey Marie Anthony. This is no precision incision. It’s plastic surgery gone wild.

    Let’s see what the doctor is telling us the symptoms are:

    • Evidence indicating Mr. Kronk’s possible history of inappropriate behavior with young girls;
    • Evidence indicating that Mr. Kronk has a history of abusing, restraining, and holding women against their will;
    • Evidence indicating that Mr. Kronk has, in the past, used duct tape for the purposes of restraining women, and has bragged about his use of so-called “100 mile-an-hour tape” for that purpose [actually, it’s 200 MPH tape, but what does Baez know about NASCAR?];
    • Evidence indicating that Mr. Kronk is involved in an imaginary world of fantasy and violence;
    • A statement indicating that Mr. Kronk knew of the location of Caylee Anthony’s remains and indeed may have had possession or control of them in November 2008, weeks before he alerted law enforcement on December 11, 2008.

    Here are some key points illustrated in the Orlando Sentinel report dated Nov. 19, 2009:

    • Casey’s defense is claiming there’s circumstantial evidence that makes him “equally likely to be responsible for the death of the child.”
    • They are asking Judge Strickland to allow a jury to hear allegations of Roy Kronk’s past wrongdoings, including inappropriate behavior with girls, use of duct tape to restrain women and holding women against their will.
    • Ex-wives Jill Kerley and Crystal Sparks stated that Kronk physically attacked them.
    • Kerley said he used duct tape to hold her against her will. “I don’t think he would know the truth if it hit him upside the head.”
    • Sparks said she called police, but couldn’t remember if she ever sought a restraining order.
    • Allegations are rampant that Kronk abused other women and held them against their will.
    • Just before Thanksgiving of 2008, Kronk’s son Brandon said his father told him he had found Caylee Anthony’s body and would be on television.

    Tell me, are young girls and toddlers one and the same? Define young girl for me, Mr. Baez. Has Roy Kronk ever been convicted of any of your allegations? They sound to me like nothing more than old, rancid, bottles of wine; sour grapes, and they leave a bad taste in my mouth. Is Roy Kronk the only man on the planet who walked away from prior relationships on not so friendly terms and got his reputation bashed? What does his “sordid” past have to do with the murder of Caylee? It seems to me that the defense team AND the Anthonys should be eating the part of the turkey that goes over the fence last come Thanksgiving Day because they were the first ones to say that the sins of Casey, as in check fraud, do not a murderer make.  How could anyone possibly cull a murder out of Roy Kronk? Where, perchance, is the direct evidence that ties him to the death? Is he also guilty of stealing money from Amy Huizenga? On numerous occasions, I have used the word hypocrisy. The worst offense of all is the so-called “evidence that indicated” that Kronk is - not was - “involved in an imaginary world of fantasy and violence.” With young girls, to boot? Excuse me? Who is really living in a fantasy world here? Who sits in jail for murder, most likely committed violently by a fanatical young woman? Just who is this private investigator and professor at DePaul University, Mort Smith, who helped conjure up this nightmare? What is their motive? They intend to assassinate the former water company employee’s character and ruin his credibility on the stand. Will the defense, because of their sexual innuendos, accuse him of a meter violation?

    There’s more to this than just that. I understand what Baez & Co. are up to. It is so powerfully clear that their intent is to dupe the judge and jury - not into thinking Roy actually committed the act of murder, but to set into motion what I feel is the whole basis of the defense strategy: that the state never looked anywhere else. The state never fully investigated Roy Kronk and they cleared him prematurely. In other words, their private investigator was more thorough than law enforcement. Quite clearly, none of the evidence ever pointed at him or anyone else, either, so why would authorities waste taxpayers’ money grasping for straws like the defense is doing now? I think it is quite evident that this defense is lost. It has no focus. No direction. This is a body of attorneys without a head and as much as I hate to say it, they are clowning around with a very serious matter. Instead of throwing cream pies at the court, they are throwing apples in an orange grove and calling them nectarines. With this sort of strategy, there is no doubt who will be buying the farm and the injection Doctor Baez intends to administer to the judge and jury will instead lead to one carried out by the State of Florida at the Lowell Correctional Institute. This is no laughing matter.

    Somewhere, somehow, there are six degrees of separation between everyone, so they say. Here is what links Casey Anthony to Roy Kronk. It doesn’t go through Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez because in real life, fictional characters do not coexist with real people. Fictional characters are as imaginary as Casey’s, well, imagination. My best shot, based on true and documented information taken from law enforcement interviews is that the degrees of separation are simple. They are very concise and very much after the fact because there never was a before: Casey Anthony to Yuri Melich to Roy Kronk. Cut and dry. The sad part about it, in real life, is that there will never be more than zero degrees of separation between poor Roy and the late Caylee Marie. You’ve got to ask yourself, what would Caylee say about this mess? She’d be talking by now.

    *Motion in Limine - Although motions in limine are most often used to exclude evidence, they can also provide an opportunity to obtain a pretrial ruling on the admissibility of certain evidence. Source: Professor John Barkai, William S. Richardson School of Law.
    • Evidence indicating Mr. Kronk’s possible history of inappropriate behavior with young girls;
    • Evidence indicating that Mr. Kronk has a history of abusing, restraining, and holding women against their will;
    • Evidence indicating that Mr. Kronk has, in the past, used duct tape for the purposes of restraining women, and has bragged about his use of so-called “100 mile-an-hour tape” for that purpose [actually, it’s 200 MPH tape, but what does Baez know about NASCAR?];
    • Evidence indicating that Mr. Kronk is involved in an imaginary world of fantasy and violence;
    • A statement indicating that Mr. Kronk knew of the location of Caylee Anthony’s remains and indeed may have had possession or control of them in November 2008, weeks before he alerted law enforcement on December 11, 2008.

    Here are some key points illustrated in the Orlando Sentinel report dated Nov. 19, 2009:

    • Casey’s defense is claiming there’s circumstantial evidence that makes him “equally likely to be responsible for the death of the child.”
    • They are asking Judge Strickland to allow a jury to hear allegations of Roy Kronk’s past wrongdoings, including inappropriate behavior with girls, use of duct tape to restrain women and holding women against their will.
    • Ex-wives Jill Kerley and Crystal Sparks stated that Kronk physically attacked them.
    • Kerley said he used duct tape to hold her against her will. “I don’t think he would know the truth if it hit him upside the head.”
    • Sparks said she called police, but couldn’t remember if she ever sought a restraining order.
    • Allegations are rampant that Kronk abused other women and held them against their will.
    • Just before Thanksgiving of 2008, Kronk’s son Brandon said his father told him he had found Caylee Anthony’s body and would be on television.
    Wednesday
    Nov182009

    By News Tribune and Associated Press

    15-year-old Alyssa Bustamante has been certified to stand trial as an adult in the homicide of Elizabeth Olten.

    Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled this morning that the crime was serious and vicious and the state had no adequate facilities or services to treat the teenage suspect if she were to remain in the juvenile court system.

    The girl was identified in court by her juvenile defense attorney only as Alyssa. She was immediately arrested on an adult charge of first-degree murder following the judge’s ruling.

     

    I will be following news accounts of this story and adding links as it unfolds. If anyone has information pertaining to the case, please comment here or send me a private e-mail. The address can be found on the right sidebar.

    If any of you are uncomfortable with me for publishing the girl’s name, she is no longer just a girl, she is an adult in the eyes of the law.

    To read my original story, please click here…

    Elizabeth Olten’s killer identified

     

    To read my follow-up story, please click here:

    Hobbies: killing people, cutting


    Alyssa Bustamante video:

    [vodpod id=Groupvideo.3951748&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

    Tuesday
    Nov172009

    New Video of Suburban Drive: Same Time Last Year

    Fall came a little late this year. It usually hits around the middle of October and that’s when temperatures dip from the daytime high in the 90s to the 80s, but not this time. We pretty much remained in the 90s up until about a week or so ago. Autumn is a wonderful time of year in central Florida. No, we don’t experience a real change in seasons like areas north of here, but the humidity wanes with each passing day, and it cools off enough at night, as the sun goes down, to turn off the air conditioning and leave it off until somewhere around noon the following day. Yesterday was a perfect day to get out of the house and go for a drive, so I went down to the woods where Caylee was discovered, less than two months after two private investigators searched a year ago. I wanted to shoot a video showing you pretty much what Dominic Casey and Jim Hoover saw when they were there last November. I’m sure you remember that scene of Casey poking around in the brush.

    I can’t really recreate exactly what it looked like then, but I  know the climate was about the same because of what’s been happening every year around this time. Of course, it wouldn’t be identical because law enforcement and forensic experts cleared a lot of the area out, piece by piece, as they searched for clues and fragments of bone, but where the PIs looked was around 150-200 feet from where the search began; where the skull was found, and closer to the road than the area that spread throughout the woods, deeper and more west and south of where that video was shot. Without any further adieu, here it is…

    [vodpod id=Groupvideo.3938737&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

    You can also watch it in a larger size at YouTube

    Thursday
    Nov122009

    Double Jeopardy

    ashley-juddI haven’t seen Ashley Judd in a number of years now, but I’ll readily admit I’ve had a secret crush on her for a long time. In 1999, she starred in a movie titled, Double Jeopardy. According to the IMDB Web site the plot line says “a woman framed for her husband’s murder suspects he is still alive; as she has already been tried for the crime, she can’t be re-prosecuted if she finds and kills him.”

    I think that’s what we all think about double jeopardy; that no one can be tried for the same crime twice. So what’s with the Motion to Dismiss Counts 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13 for Violation of Double Jeopardy Clause filed by Casey Anthony?

    First, we’ll have to take a look at the motions filed by the state. There’s no doubt that law enforcement and prosecutors like to throw the book at people to make some of it stick., and Casey Anthony made herself a perfect target for not only the check fraud charges, but the first-degree murder charge in the death of her daughter. It would seem like fraud convictions would be a walk in the park compared to facing execution, but there are reasons why this particular motion was filed by the defense.

    Here are the three charges filed for each forged check written:

    1. Fraudulent Use Of Personal Identification Information

    2. Forgery Of A Check

    3. Uttering A Forged Check

    x4=12

    Another charge was thrown in for good measure:

    13. Grand Theft Third Degree

    The motion to dismiss states that Casey is guaranteed double jeopardy protection under the United States Constitution as well as the Florida Constitution on the grounds of duplicative charges. Her defense claims that the additional grand theft third degree charge would be tantamount to punishing her for the same crime covered in the other 12 counts. In essence, Casey’s defense team points out that under law, she should be charged for one crime by one count. The defense also claims that charging her with multiple counts for the same act prejudices her, therefore the counts should be dismissed. In other words, she should be charged once each for all three charges and it shouldn’t matter how many bad checks she wrote. That means she should have only been charged with one count of fraudulent use of personal identification information, one count of forgery of a check and one count of uttering a forged check. No matter how many checks she wrote, they should all fall under the same umbrella of charges.

    According to the motion, “Miss Anthony is guaranteed double jeopardy protection by the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Sections 9 and 17 of the Florida Constitution for duplicative charges.” Let’s take a look at what the law says:

    Amendment 5 - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprivedof life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    Amendment 8

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    Florida Constitution - Article 1, Sections 9 and 17

    SECTION 9.  Due process.

     No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, or be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense, or be compelled in any criminal matter to be a witness against oneself.

    SECTION 17.  Excessive punishments.

    Excessive fines, cruel and unusual punishment, attainder, forfeiture of estate, indefinite imprisonment, and unreasonable detention of witnesses are forbidden. The death penalty is an authorized punishment for capital crimes designated by the legislature. The prohibition against cruel or unusual punishment, and the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, shall be construed in conformity with decisions of the United States Supreme Court which interpret the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment provided in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Any method of execution shall be allowed, unless prohibited by the United States Constitution. Methods of execution may be designated by the legislature, and a change in any method of execution may be applied retroactively. A sentence of death shall not be reduced on the basis that a method of execution is invalid. In any case in which an execution method is declared invalid, the death sentence shall remain in force until the sentence can be lawfully executed by any valid method. This section shall apply retroactively.

    The double jeopardy rule of the Fifth Amendment is intended to limit abuse by the government in repeated prosecution for the same offense as a means of harassment or oppression. It is also in agreement with the common law conceptofres judicata which prevents courts from relitigating issues which have already been the subject of a final judgment. There are three essential protections included in the double jeopardy principle, which are:

    • being retried for the same crime after an acquittal
    • retrial after a conviction
    • being punished multiple times for the same offense

    Does the defense motion to dismiss those extra charges, something it sees as ancillary in nature, hold any merit? In Solem v. Helm (1983) 463 U.S. 277, a split court found that a life sentence without the possibility of parole for aseventh nonviolent felony was unconstitutional. In Solem, a bare majority of the court held a court’s proportionality analysis under the Eighth Amendment should be guided by objective criteria, including the gravity of the offense and the harshness of the penalty; the sentences imposed on other criminals in the same jurisdiction; and the sentences imposed for commission of the same crime in other jurisdictions.

    In Harmelin v. Michigan (1991) 501 U.S. 957, a life sentence without possibility of parole for possessing 672 grams of cocaine was upheld. The case produced five separate opinions. While seven justices supported a proportionality review under the Eighth Amendment, only four favored application of all three factors cited in Solem. As one court has concluded, disproportionality survives; Solem does not. (McGruder v. Puckett (5th Cir.’92) 954 F.2d 313, 316.) In Harmelin, Justice Scalia, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist, determined Solem was wrongly decided and the Eighth Amendment contained no proportionality guarantee. Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices O’Connor and Souter, found the Eighth Amendment encompassed a narrow proportionality principle. In other words, the Eighth Amendment does not require strict proportionality between crime and sentence. Rather, it forbidsonly extreme sentences that are ‘grossly disproportionate’ to the crime. Moreover, in Solem v. Helm, the court focused on the nonviolent nature of both the defendant’s current offense of uttering a ‘no account’ check (one of the most passive felonies a person could commit) and his prior offenses. The majority acknowledged a life sentence for fourth-time heroin dealers and other violent criminals would pass constitutional muster.

    What all of this legalese means, in my interpretation of law, is that Casey should be tried once for each of the three charges. If she is acquitted of the first 3 charges, the case should not be allowed to proceed. On the other hand, if she is convicted of the first 3 charges, the additional charges should no longer be relevant and she should be sentenced for just those 3. I understand the logic, but is it really constitutional? Suppose she is convicted on all 13 charges. She faces a long time in prison on each separate conviction. In essence, she could be sentenced to spend her remaining years behind bars. Also, as 13 separate convictions, she would be considered an habitual offender. Could she be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole as such? I believe she could. What we have to consider is not just this case, but prior cases and the issue of extreme sentences for others beyond the State of Florida v. Casey Marie Anthony. As much as many may want the book thrown at her, in its wisdom, the court does not see prejudice. It sees a defendant and the charges against her. She has the law on her side as much as it may or may not help her.

    The defense motion cited Florida Statute Section 775.021 (4), which states that,“Whoever, in the course of one criminal transaction or episode, commits an act or acts which constitute one or more separate criminal offenses, upon conviction and adjudication of guilt, shall be sentenced separately for each criminal offense; and the sentencing judge may order the sentences to be served concurrently or consecutively. For the purposes of this subsection,offenses are separate if each offense requires proof of an element that the other does not, without regard to the accusatory pleading or the proof adduced at trial.”

    I read that as meaning the offenses are separate from each other. In other words, each of Amy’s forged checks are really the same crime on different dates. As such, they should be charged as one crime because the Fifth Amendment forbids multiple punishments for the same offense. In Blockburger v. U.S., 284 U.S. 299 (1932), the Supreme Court held that punishment for two statutory offenses arising out of the same criminal act or transaction does not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause if ‘each provision requires proof of an additional fact which the other does not.’ Separate punishments in multiple criminal prosecution are constitutionally permissible, however, if the punishments are not based upon the same offenses. Are they the same offenses? According to Florida law (Florida Statute Section 775.021 [4][b]), the intent of the Legislature is to convict and sentence for each criminal offense committed in the course of one criminal episode or transaction and not to allow the principle of lenity as set forth in subsection (1) to determine legislative intent. Exceptions to this rule of construction are:

    1.  Offenses which require identical elements of proof.

    2.  Offenses which are degrees of the same offense as provided by statute.

    3.  Offenses which are lesser offenses the statutory elements of which are subsumed by the greater offense.

    I think it’s very clear why the defense filed this motion and it’s a very good one. Let’s move on and take a look at Casey’s grand jury indictment last October.

    On October 14, 2008, Casey Marie Anthony was indicted by the State of Florida on these separate charges:

    1) FIRST DEGREE MURDER (CAPITAL)

    2) AGGRAVATED CHILD ABUSE (F1-L9)

    3) AGGRAVATED MANSLAUGHTER OF A CHILD (F1-L10)

    4) PROVIDING FALSE INFORMATION TO A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER

    5) PROVIDING FALSE INFORMATION TO A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER

    6) PROVIDING FALSE INFORMATION TO A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER

    7) PROVIDING FALSE INFORMATION TO A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER

    Yes, she was charged with premeditated first-degree murder under Florida Statute 782.04:

    Murder.

    (1)(a)  The unlawful killing of a human being:

    1.  When perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being

    While we ponder the legality of the latest double jeopardy motion, take a look at the above indictment charges. How can a person be charged with murder and manslaughter*? Why are there four separate charges pertaining to providing false information to a law enforcement officer? Mark my words, when the murder case heats up more, we are going to see a slew of motions filed to throw out some of the charges. What will happen? It certainly is within the realm of possibility, but on the other hand, allow me to look at the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people and was the deadliest act of terrorism within the United States prior to the 9/11 attacks. I don’t need to go into any detail of what transpired. This is purely about the charges, the trial, and the conviction.

    On August 10, 1995, Timothy McVeigh was indicted on 11 federal counts, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, use of a weapon of mass destruction, destruction by explosives and 8 counts of first-degree murder. On June 2, 1997, McVeigh was found guilty on all 11 counts of the federal indictment. He was executed by lethal injection at 7:14 a.m. on June 11, 2001, at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

    You may wonder why I chose this particular crime. To be honest, the double jeopardy motion has nothing to do with Caylee’s murder at this time. This is an entirely separate case, but I am looking at legal comparisons and how they could influence each trial, fraud and murder.

    My Opinion

    Despite killing 168 people, McVeigh was only charged with 8 murders. In my opinion, Casey Anthony will lose her Motion to Dismiss Counts 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13 for Violation of Double Jeopardy Clause. Why? If Timothy McVeigh’s attorneys used the same logic and prevailed in a similar motion to dismiss the counts by reducing the eight murder charges to one, that means out of 168 deaths he was responsible for, he would have been tried for one single murder and the entire weight of those deaths would have been reduced from 8 to 1. Would he have been sentenced to death for one murder? With Casey, it’s the same thing in my book, although the charges are not similar. I am merely making an analogy. Each forged check is a separate crime. The only charge I would consider dropping is the Grand Theft Third Degree. I think it’s extra icing on a 12-layer cake. One thing the judge may consider, and only if Casey is convicted on all counts, is to follow maximum sentencing guidelines allowed by the state, but to condense those 12 charges into 3 at sentencing. In other words, allow all of the convictions to stand, but don’t sentence each one individually. Of course, the judge should use his own discretion when deciding the imposition of concurrent or consecutive sentences and I am not concerned with that particular aspect. Regardless of what he decides, Casey will be locked away for a long time if she is convicted of these charges alone. I realize how unpopular my view will be with readers, but we must remember, when Casey stands trial on the fraud charges, she will not be convicted of anything yet and the court will not take Caylee’s death into consideration. Who else, other than Casey, would you want to spend a life in prison over stolen checks that amounted to less than $1,000?

    tommy lee jonesOn a final note, I think we’re all Jonesing for the fraud trial to begin. Any trial, actually, and speaking of Jonesing, wasn’t Tommy Lee Jones Ashley Judd’s costar in Double Jeopardy?Yup, he was. Too bad justice doesn’t always work the same way as it does in Hollywood. Casey Anthony’s role would have been written out of the script right after the opening credits. In the real world, that’s not the way it works.

    *Amended by Maura on 2009/11/13 at 12:40 pm: According to a lawyer who comments over on Blink’s site, Florida law requires the inclusion of a lesser crime when a person is indicted for a capital offense. That’s why Casey was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child in addition to first degree murder.

    On the surface, it appears that the jurors will be allowed to convict Casey of both first degree murder (homicide with premeditation) and manslaughter (homicide without premeditation), which can’t logically both be true relative to the same homicide.

    The resolution to that contradiction will be in the instructions to the jurors.

    Tuesday
    Nov102009

    WHY

    Who, what, where, when, why and how

    Since July of last year, we’ve received mountains of information addressing the murder of Caylee Marie Anthony and her mother, who is charged with the crime. Because the evidence points to one person, I think it’s safe to say that 99.7% of the people interested in this case believe, without a doubt, that Casey Marie Anthony is guilty of killing her daughter.

    So far, we know who it was and we are sure we know who was responsible. We know what happened. Caylee was murdered. Do we know where the crime took place? If Casey is truly guilty, odds are it occurred inside the Anthony home. Could it have happened anywhere else? Conceivably, yes, and more about this aspect may come out prior to or during trial.

    We also know a bit about when Caylee was killed. The last time anyone saw her alive was June 16, 2008. Since she was never seen again, it’s fairly reasonable to conclude that on June 16, she died. Bingo. Cut and dried.

    I don’t think we’ll ever know how Caylee died. Several theories are floating around. The latest one is death by injection of homemade chloroform, but there is no precise evidence to verify it. Lots of garbage was tossed into the woods where she was found. How will the state prove it was Casey’s needle? How will prosecutors explain the testosterone found on it? In court, “maybes” won’t count and the defense is well aware of that.

    As we consider who, what, where and how, have we ever really sat down to ponder why Caylee was murdered in a, seemingly, cold-blooded fashion? If you think about it, none of the media outlets have given any thought to it. None. In April, I wrote an article titled, When a mother kills. In it, I took an in-depth look at filicide, which is the deliberate act of a parent killing their own son or daughter. In real life, Motown singer/songwriter Marvin Gaye was shot to death by his father in 1984. In mythology, Hercules killed his wife and children in a fit of rage induced by the goddess Hera. The list is long and society looks the other way, never considering possible causes.

    What I’d like to know is why Caylee was killed. As much as we seem to know about this horrible murder, what are some of the possible motives? If, in fact, her mother committed the crime, why did she do it? Was it jealousy? To be able to party again? Was it because deep down inside, Casey never wanted to have a child? Certainly, to wander aimlessly for a month without fully comprehending the magnitude of her daughter’s death, was something terribly askew in her mind? What sane person would think like that? Could there be underlying factors at work? Are you aware of postpartum depression? The symptoms may hide themselves as manic-depression or bipolar disorder. Bouts of euphoria, agitation, sleeplessness, sexual promiscuity, and hyperactivity are not unusual. Very easily, poor judgment could be a result. This is, in no manner, meant to soften the blow, and Casey is not claiming she suffered from any form of mental disorder, but if she killed Caylee, why did she do it? Why haven’t the media taken an in-depth look into the mind of this filicidal mother, to discern and recognize some of the possible reasons? So far, all we’ve really discussed are the whos, whats, wheres and hows. Do we have any whys?

    Friday
    Nov062009

    New material released today

    More than 2,100 pages of documents were released this morning by the State Attorney’s Office in the case against Casey Anthony. Among the pages are evidence lists, a handful of photos, and e-mails between OCSO detectives and FBI personnel.

    Syringe in bottle found near remains contained traces of chloroform

    FBI lab technicians found an unknown liquid and chloroform inside a Cool-Blue Gatorade bottle. The bottle also contained a plastic bag labeled “Disposable Syringe Kit” with a needle inside. Traces of chloroform were detected inside the syringe.

    syringe

     

     

    PDF: Anthony Documents, Nov. 6, Photographs
    PDF: Anthony Documents, Nov. 6, FBI Test
    PDF: Anthony Documents, Nov. 6, DNA Tests
    PDF: Anthony Documents, Set 13 (Nov. 6) Knife
    PDF: Anthony Documents Nov. 6 Insects, Tires

    summary of conclusions

     

    june 19-22

    knife

    doll

     

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4
    Part 5
    Part 6
    Part 7
    Part 8
    Part 9
    Part 10
    Part 11
    Part 12
    Part 13
    Part 14
    Part 15
    Part 16
    Part 17
    Part 18
    Part 19
    Part 20
    Part 21
    Part 22
    Part 23
    Part 24
    Part 25
    Part 26
    Part 27
    Part 28
    Part 29
    Part 30
    Part 31
    Part 32
    Part 33
    Part 34

    Saturday
    Oct312009

    A Halloween Story

    I had something else I wanted to post today, but I’ll do it tomorrow or Monday. In the meantime, this is a story I first wrote in 2006. Because it’s Halloween, I’m republishing it - with several modifications. Please don’t be frightened.

    The Night I Screamed On Halloween


    A few years ago, I told my mother about the scariest Halloween moment in my life. She questioned whether she would have let me venture out on my own at the tender age of 6. I was with a friend from the neighborhood and we were in the same class at school, so I wasn’t really alone. I told her, sure, why not? Times were different then. We left our windows open at night. During hot summer months, most houses were without air conditioning and the only thing that separated us from the rest of the world was a screen door. Crime wasn’t something that was ever present in our minds. It was a different time…

    It was a chilly autumn night, so, so many years ago. It was my first foray out with a friend on Halloween. No moms allowed! I was a man this night, or so I thought. Harold and I went out to make the rounds just as darkness fell. There were lots of kids in all sorts of costumes milling about, stopping at most of the homes in the close knit community. Some were decorated and they seemed like the most inviting - the ones that would give out the best candy! I remember the flickering of candlelit pumpkins with each eerie twist and turn throughout the neighborhood. Skeletons hung from trees and porches, swaying in the gentle breeze. We talked of ghosts and goblins and tried to stay away from dark alleys and back yards. No way! Oh yeah, and houses with their lights off, too, because that meant they were going to grab us and take us to the basement where we’d never be seen again. Maybe, it really just meant they weren’t home, but we weren’t going to take any chances.

    I had a big brown paper shopping bag to stuff all that tooth rotting goodness in. There were no paper or plastic options at the grocery store back then. These were the days of old when the milkman left glass bottles at our doorsteps and on freezing winter morns, the cream would expand and push the cardboard cap up and out a few inches. Brrr. Rabbit ears were the best way to watch our round screen black & white TVs.

    Harold wanted to finish the night at his house. “OK,” I said, “we started at mine, we can stop at yours.”

    I had never been to his place before. He lived about 6 or 7 houses up and on the other side of the street. When you’re six years old, that’s pretty far away and I wasn’t too crazy about being almost out of sight of my own place. We must have visited all kinds of critters, I mean people, while working our way to his house. I was slowly approaching unmarked territory. At night, too. In the dark. Halloween night! I was getting nervous. OK, this is far enough.

    “I think it’s getting late. I’m getting tired,” I said. We’d been out long enough and had plenty of goodies to last a long time. We probably had bewitching hours, anyway. It was probably a school night.

    “OK. Let’s go to my place,” Harold said.

    “I’m ready!” Besides, I was getting bored.

    Everywhere I went, everyone made me take off my mask. “Oh, you’re Sam & Dottie’s boy.”

    When we got to his house, we walked up the sidewalk and scaled the stairs to his front porch. The porch light was off and it was downright spooky. I sensed evil lurking about. We knocked and suddenly the door opened.

    “TRICK OR TREAT!” We screamed in unison.

    “I want to see a trick!” his father quickly replied. A trick? I didn’t know what he was talking about. Saying trick or treat meant I was going to get candy. That’s all. What was this trick thing all about?

    “When you say trick or treat, I can ask you to do a trick first. Then I give you a treat. Do you have a trick?”

    Harold and I gave each other a puzzled look and said, “Huh? Nooooo?!”

    “Well, then, I have a trick for you,” and just like that, his top teeth popped out and back into his mouth in an instant. I froze dead in my tracks and just stared up at him. Then he did it again. Those teeth popped out of his face and dangled for a second and then zipped right back inside his mouth.

    I let out a blood curdling scream that woke the dead at the cemetery down the street. Today, neighbors would call 911 after hearing the panic in my voice. I turned to run, when all of a sudden, Harold’s mom suddenly appeared from behind his father and quickly came out the door to comfort me. Whatever his name was, she sure did scold him. Then, she turned to me…

    “He shouldn’t have done that.” The guy was rolling on the floor with laughter. Harold didn’t know what to do. “Sometimes when people’s teeth go bad, the dentist has to pull them out. Then, he gives you new ones to chew your food and have a nice smile. They come out and you put them back in. They’re not real. Lots of people have them,” She turned to him. “Apologize right now!”

    I don’t remember if he said anything or not. He was still laughing. I was pretty rattled and couldn’t stop shaking in my boots. She said she would walk me home. I was not about ready to venture out of that neighborhood by myself. When we got back to my place, she explained to my mother what a horror filled trauma I had just gone through. I sensed a snicker or two and I’m not talking about the candy variety.

    “Mom? Can I sleep with the light on tonight?” I asked. “I’m never going back to that house again,” and I never did. “Mom, would you lock the front door, just in case?” For the longest time, I wouldn’t even look at that place and I sure was glad when we moved.

    I never saw Harold’s dad again. We never discussed it in school, either. When I was old enough to understand, I wondered how the father of a six year old boy could have lost his teeth so young.

    Maybe, he ate too much Halloween candy.

    Thursday
    Oct292009

    Elizabeth Olten's killer identified

    UPDATE 11/18/09

    By News Tribune and Associated Press

    15-year-old Alyssa Bustamante has been certified to stand trial as an adult in the homicide of Elizabeth Olten.

    Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled this morning that the crime was serious and vicious and the state had no adequate facilities or services to treat the teenage suspect if she were to remain in the juvenile court system.

    The girl was identified in court by her juvenile defense attorney only as Alyssa. She was immediately arrested on an adult charge of first-degree murder following the judge’s ruling.

     

    “If I had a child, I would want the community to be there to support me.”

    People of all ages came out to honor the memory of 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten of St. Martins, Missouri, on Wednesday afternoon. If they didn’t attend the service at Concord Baptist Church, they stood along Horner Road near the entrance to Hawthorne Memorial Gardens, where she was laid to rest.

    Meanwhile, an as yet unidentified 15-year-old neighbor girl sits in jail, charged with her murder. Her attorney, Kurt Valentine, said Elizabeth’s death has put Jefferson City in turmoil. “In the local high school, friends of both sides have been getting into arguments and had fights over this case,” he said. Quite clearly, a lot of people seem to know the girl’s identity.

    She was arrested last Friday after leading authorities to Elizabeth’s body, police said. Hundreds of people had searched the area last week after she disappeared. The Cole County Sheriff’s Department said she was well concealed in heavy woods and foliage.

    On Tuesday, I received an e-mail that proffered information and a trail for me to follow. As an inquisitive sort of guy, I did just that. What I found was the name of the girl who now sits behind bars and a photograph of her from an Internet social site called SingSnap that bills itself as “the biggest, baddest and best singing community in the world.”

    If you Google SingSnap, it says that it’s “a free online karaoke community where you can sing and record from a large variety of karaoke songs and comment on other karaoke enthusiast’s” material.

    Of course, that led me to her profile by searching for her screen name. She has been a SingSnap member since October 22 of 2007 and she’s made a total of 8 recordings. The profile includes her name.

    This placed me in a perplexing situation. Should I reveal her name or not? In a unanimous 1979 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protects the rights of journalists to use the names of minors in stories deemed newsworthy as long as the information is lawfully obtained and reported truthfully. In the case of Smith v. Daily Mail, the court struck down a West Virginia law that had been previously used to prosecute two newspapers from the state that printed the name of a 14-year old junior high school student who allegedly shot and killed a 15-year old classmate.

    OK, I guess that protects me - sort of - but I just received an e-mail from a concerned reader who cautioned, “Nancy Grace has her picture and her name also and she stated she is not allowed to disclose any of it by law until she goes to court and is deemed to stand trail as an ADULT. You can be in some serious trouble over this, why would you want to put yourself in that situation for a ‘story’ on a blog?”

    Because of these mixed signals, I was not going to reveal her name, but news is now leaking, so I will compromise. I will give you her SnipSnap screen name, along with other social sites she belongs to. Here, I’ll tell you her first name is Alyssa. If you are interested, look for yourself.

    A month ago, Alyssa wrote a tweet on her Twitter account. A tweet is a post or status update on the microblogging service. She goes by the namealyssadailene. This was the entry dated September 28: “this is all i want in life; a reason for all this pain.”

    On September 9, she wrote, “encompass’d with a thousand dangers; weary, faint, tremblinng with a thousand terrors; i in a fleshly tomb, am buried above grounnd. - william cowper”

    She also has private Facebook and Myspace accounts. On Facebook, her name is, well, her real name. On Myspace, she goes by alyssaheartsyou<3.

    Several bits and pieces of information, whether factual or not, have surfaced online and in rumor mills. In one text, an alleged friend wrote, “She told my friend that she wanted to commit a murder to see if she could get away with it”and, “She told this to many kids at her school”.

    The messages continued…

    it was her sisters best friend

    she killed her little sisters best friend

    Word also leaked that she had not only planned it, she dug the grave the week before. All names have been removed.

    can you see this

    im here saddened ..

    ok

    yes I can see the chat, but not NG

    I have this information only cus I have actually talked to the murderer online sitting at my ex gfs house

    shes on Singsnap as Wolf_Heart

    there is a picture of her there too

    She planned the murder

    my friend Jennifer told me all of it this afternoon

    she lives there

    her boyfriend helped her bury the body

    she told someone she did it for fun

    shes a monster

    no not really

    parents are ?

    Allysas mom is a drug abuser

    She lives with her grandmother

    She should get the chair

    that grandmother must be beyond herself with emotions too

    imagine her little sister

    oh absolutely

    it was Allysas little sisters best friend

    that grandmother must be beyond herself with emotions too

    imagine her little sister

    oh absolutely

    it was Allysas little sisters best friend

    It was a murder plain and simple

    she killed her to see if she could get away with it

    I’ve sent you a private message.

    Oh BS….. 15 yr olds know right from wrong !!!…..they can’t get away with saying a 15 yr old is not compitent to stand trial !!

    she slit the girls neck and wrists according to my source

    When I called the Cole County Sheriff’s Department yesterday, I was told that the deputy in charge is Colin Murdick. He was in a meeting and chose not to talk to me. Instead, I was instructed to e-mail him the information I had received, which I did, minus the sender’s address. I wrote a nice letter explaining to him that I, in no way, wanted to hinder the investigation by revealing anything still left unpublished. Here was his entire response:

    No comment

    Rather terse. Anyway, please feel free to look around for more information. In the meantime, this is a picture of the alleged suspect from SingSnap. I covered her eyes. Remember, whoever committed this heinous crime has not been officially named yet. The girl behind bars will remain there until November 18, when a judge will decide whether to charge her as an adult or not. Until then, she is still a minor and only a suspect.

    Alyssa Bustamante_NoID


    JUDGE OPENS ADULT CERTIFICATION HEARING TO PUBLIC


    Alyssa Bustamante video:

    [vodpod id=Groupvideo.3951748&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]