Morning Links

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
  • NAACP will release report it says shows ties between Tea Party and racist/extremist groups.
  • Another insane application of the felony murder rule: Florida teen faces murder charge after homeowner shoots his friend as the two were attempting to break-in.
  • Twenty-year-old student named police chief of Mexican border town. No one else wanted the job.
  • Toronto cop sues YouTube for defamation because of videos mocking him for arresting a girl who was blowing bubbles at the G20 protests.
  • This is interesting: Box spreads DNA mist that marks robbers with identifiers tying them to the crime scene.
  • Louisiana man gets five years for shooting two deputies during no-knock drug raid. He says he thought they were burglars, and actually called 911 during the raid.

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69 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    I fear for the life of Marisol Valles. I fear, no, I know that it will be our drug laws that will contribute heavily to her death.

  2. #2 |  Pablo | 

    Re: the drug raid shooting–note that the story said nothing about any drugs being found. If they were you can be sure that would be trumpeted. Also no reason for the judge to get his panties in a wad over the guy having an AR-15. Unless it’s stolen or he’s a convicted felon (no mention of either in the stofy) it’s completely legal to own one. Any judge who would punish someone for exercising thier 2nd amendment rights is not fit to be on the bench.

  3. #3 |  Marty | 

    re no-knock raid- the judge said about his 9mm and AR-15, “That’s something you have in Vietnam, not inside your house,’’ the judge told Henry. “We’re not in a war here. Seems like we are.’’

    the commenters are typical pro-cop hero worshippers. no mention anywhere that no-knock raids could be the bigger issue. for some reason, I’m unable to register and voice a dissenting comment.

  4. #4 |  Marty | 

    I love the Bubbles story! I was already subscribing to the youtube channel…

  5. #5 |  M | 

    I’d venture that any political group of any significant size in the USA has ties to racist/extremist groups.

  6. #6 |  Mattocracy | 

    I thought the felony murder rule was meant to hold a bunch of burglers accountable if one burgler killed someone in a robbery, not if one of the burglers was killed and the others escaped.

  7. #7 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    Re: no-knock raid

    (Judge) Moore noted that a 70-round magazine of ammunition also was found in Henry’s home.

    “That’s something you have in Vietnam, not inside your house,’’ the judge told Henry. “We’re not in a war here. Seems like we are.’’

    I’m not sure where this judge has been but the state has been waging war on its citizens from time immemorial.

  8. #8 |  Mattocracy | 

    The link for the NAACP article doesn’t give any examples of rascist/extremist links. All popular movements pull in extremists looking to push ideas unrelated to the larger movement. The civil rights and peace movements are prime examples.

  9. #9 |  Cyto | 

    The NAACP story is par for the course. I was in an interracial marriage for 15 years, so I got to see this stuff from both sides. Back in the 90’s we’d get tons of blatantly race-baiting stuff from the NAACP every election season. And by “ton” I mean several pieces of direct mail per day during the last 4-6 weeks of the campaign, plus a few phone calls each day, all at least moderately racist in tone and content. Particularly notorious was the 8×10 ad slicks of a pickup tailgate with chains. It was used to paint Republicans as racist, despite the fact that a republican sent the guys who did that particular crime to death row.

  10. #10 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    “We’re not in a war here. Seems like we are.’’

    What gave it away? The APCs? The body armor? The not-so-less-than-lethal tazer? The MP5s and balaclavas?

    Oh, it was the subject’s 70 round magazine that did it for you..

  11. #11 |  Cyto | 

    From the breaking murder charge story:
    Oyola-Aponte’s right to self-defense under the first law was undisputed, so he faced no charges on the shooting (though he was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell when deputies found the substance in his bedroom).

    Nice. Burglars come in through your bedroom window and you are able to defend yourself successfully, but there’s no defense from the drug warriors.

  12. #12 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “The mist — visible only under ultraviolet light — carries DNA markers particular to the location, enabling the police to match the burglar with the place burgled…”

    I’ve worked with DNA…in order for it to show up under UV light you generally need a third reagent, such as Ethidium Bromide which intercalates into the two strands of DNA. But it is carcinogen.
    I think that’s what is really the working principle here, the Fear Factor:
    You steal from us, we give you cancer.

  13. #13 |  MassHole | 

    Others have have already mentioned it, but the idea that owning a legal firearm and legal feeding device have any bearing whatsoever on the disposition of the case is astonishing.

  14. #14 |  Jet | 

    From the drug raid shooting:

    Sheriff’s officials disputed those statements, saying after the shooting that the deputies wore vests with “sheriff’’ written on them in yellow, shouted “search warrant’’ and “Sheriff’s Office’’ while they knocked on the door with a battering ram, and used emergency lights from two patrol vehicles to illuminate the house.

    Knocked? Knocked? With a battering ram? I don’t think that word means what they think it means.

  15. #15 |  Cyto | 

    After reading the story of the no-knock raid gone wrong, I return to my prior analysis. What the fuck is wrong with the cops? Why the hell do you think you have to knock the door down in the middle of the night to execute a search warrant? How about showing up at 11:00 in the morning when everyone is away? How about just knocking on the front door at 3:00 in the afternoon? Or waiting until the suspect walks out to take out the garbage? Jeebus on a stick, you guys are stupid and dangerous. You are endangering the people in the homes you raid, the police you are sending in and as a bonus you are endangering the family pets. Nice work.

  16. #16 |  Andrew Williams | 

    “We’re not in a war here. Seems like we are.’’

    Earth to Judge: Please pick up the white courtesy phone. Former Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II would like to explain to you in considerable detail why you are an asshat. Once they’re done, please stay on the line while the millions of non-victims of the non-War on Drugs explain to you in even greater detail why you are dumber than dirt.

    I sincerely wish Mr Henry hadn’t declined his right to comment. I’m sure he would have thought of something.

  17. #17 |  MassHole | 

    In addition to my comment at #13. I’m willing to bet money that at least one of the officers involved in the raid, or an officer of the court the trial took place in, one of the jury members, etc, etc. owns an AR-15 rifle in their private collection. The judge was so far out on this it’s just shocking.

  18. #18 |  Beebop | 

    Why aren’t you covering the Anita Hill story? It must be because you love Clarence Thomas.

  19. #19 |  qwints | 

    As much as I wish that Ellis Henry had fought the charges like Ryan Frederick did, I can’t blame the guy for taking a plea when he was facing a pretty horrible sentence if he went to trial and lost. There’s definitely attitude that anyone who defends himself against the police is guilty of something regardless of their justification or the cop’s actions.

  20. #20 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    Yeah but AR-15s usually have that black polymer stuff that scares the crap out of hoplophobic idiots dressed as public servants…so there’s that.

  21. #21 |  Pablo | 

    #20–true, and that’s why everyone should own one.

  22. #22 |  SJE | 

    The Felony murder offense covers death of one of the co-conspirators, on the theory that you are engaged in an inherently dangerous illegal activity with a high likelihood of death. What sucks about the rule is its application, where the guy driving the get away car gets the death penalty while the actual shooter pleads to 20 years.

  23. #23 |  ParatrooperJJ | 

    SJE – I don’t see why that sucks? That’s exactly what’s supposed to happen.

  24. #24 |  Jozef | 

    Off topic: PBS started yesterday its new Frontline season with documenting the Camerin Willingham story in Texas. The entire show can be viewed here

  25. #25 |  Richard K. Jones | 

    Here’s another felony-murder case from Arizona.

  26. #26 |  Len | 

    In this case, the felony murder rule seems reasonable to me because the victim felt compelled to commit murder.

  27. #27 |  Tom | 

    Love the pro cop hero worshippers who say he should have gotten more time. I say he should have gotten less! No knock raids scare the crap out of me.

  28. #28 |  perlhaqr | 

    I’m not understanding why this application of the felony murder rule is so unreasonable.

  29. #29 |  JeffinCA | 

    Felony murder in this case seems reasonable. Maybe avoid committing felonies? The guy is lucky the homeowner didn’t have better aim or a bigger weapon. That would have been a better result than the waste of resources for a trial and so forth.

  30. #30 |  Cyto | 

    perlhaqr –

    Perhaps this will aid your understanding. Around the time when these laws were first being promulgated, most folks had an understanding that went like this: Two guys go into a convenience store with guns to rob the place. One of the guys shoot the clerk. Both guys are guilty of the murder of the clerk because of the conspiracy to commit armed robbery and the implicit conspiracy to shoot someone during that robbery should things go awry.

    In this case we have a clear conspiracy to commit a breaking and entering robbery. To posit that the unarmed teens were conspiring to commit a dangerous crime that might involve killing someone is a huge stretch. I think it is pretty reasonable to put a bright line between the criminals and the victims. If a victim of the crime gets killed, then all of the criminals involved bear some responsibility. If one of the criminals gets shot and killed during the commission of the crime, well, that’s tough shit for him.

    See the distinction? By entering the conspiracy to commit robbery, each member was assuming the risk of arrest, incarceration, even getting shot by an irate homeowner. Since no members of the conspiracy injured anyone, it strains logic to hold the members of the conspiracy responsible for someone being injured.

  31. #31 |  Matt | 

    @ 26, the victim did not commit murder. It was justifiable homicide. So the felony murder rule seems interpreted rather broadly as there was no crime in killing the burglar. And it may be argued the deceased burglar should have internalized the risks of his own behavior, and his accomplices are not liable for his safety. It just seems odd to think that criminals are liable for each other’s safety, not just their victims. But if the language of the law is broad enough, it’s not surprising the prosecutor would go for it. I’m not against punishing home invaders to the maximum extent possible. The real injustice is that the _other_ home invaders, who robbed and kidnapped the homeowner, are not punished at all.

  32. #32 |  Law Prof | 

    This is a perfectly normal (and proper) application of the felony murder rule. If you take part in a criminal enterprise which increases the risk that someone may be killed and that risk occurs, you go down. I do agree that it is bad prosecution tactics (and unjust) to let the shooter plea and then seek the death penalty for the accomplices.

  33. #33 |  Dean | 

    I’m going to release a two word report showing the federal government and the Democrat party had ties to racist organizations:

    Robert Byrd.

  34. #34 |  EH | 

    This is interesting: Box spreads DNA mist that marks robbers with identifiers tying them to the crime scene.

    No, it is not interesting. The box does not only spray DNA mist on robbers, it sprays it on everybody who walks by. It ties only a person to a location, not a robber.

  35. #35 |  Bernard | 

    If this is a correct application of the felony murder rule then it’s the rule itself that’s insane.

    If the idea is to lengthen sentences in order to deter would-be criminals then why don’t they just do that? It’s precisely this kind of stretching of laws that erodes restrictions on the state’s power by giving them the ability to charge anyone with anything.

    How long before jaywalking can be charged as ‘felony attempted murder’ on the rationale that if someone were to swerve to miss you and hit a lamp-post then they might die?

    From there you could charge people who cross the road without written confirmation that they were looking at the white man with ‘attempted jaywalking’, then use the law above to up that to ‘felony attempted murder’ and get rid of anyone you want to on a life charge.

  36. #36 |  Ben | 

    I agree with Cyto and think that the felony murder application here is ridiculous. I always hated that rule, all the way through law school. It just seems like another pretzel we twist logic in so we can get another first degree murder conviction. We are imputing intent and malice aforethought where none existed.

  37. #37 |  Bad Medicine | 

    How can you apply a felony murder rule when there was, as is agreed all, no murder? This was a justifiable use of lethal force on the homeowner’s part, so how is there any guilt for murder when no murder happened?


  38. #38 |  Anonymous Coward | 

    I have to agree that this is a proper application of the felony murder rule.

    Now, tell me how this is justified:

    A search warrant for a different tenant in the building allows searching everyone in a neighboring business. New Haven’s cops are out of control.

  39. #39 |  Bob | 

    Officer “Bubbles”

    What a fucking dirtbag!

  40. #40 |  Irving Washington | 

    I think this application of the felony murder rule is a failure of prosecutorial discretion. This is one of the textbook examples of undue harshness in the application of the rule where you have an unarmed group of criminals and the death of one of the criminals at the hands of the intended victim. I think the only harsher application of the broad-form rule is the accidental death of one of the criminals during the felony.

  41. #41 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Um, is that the same NAACP that lobbied the DOJ to drop charges against Black Panthers caught on tape intimidating voters at a polling station?

  42. #42 |  Bob | 

    #34: EH

    This is interesting: Box spreads DNA mist that marks robbers with identifiers tying them to the crime scene.

    No, it is not interesting. The box does not only spray DNA mist on robbers, it sprays it on everybody who walks by. It ties only a person to a location, not a robber.

    Only when it’s activated. At night. When there isn’t supposed to be anyone there. It also calls the cops.

    So… it ties a person to a location, when that location is closed. That, in and of itself isn’t proof of specific criminal activity, but it’s one piece of the puzzle.

    If it just indiscriminately sprayed everyone, all the time, then yes, it would be worthless.

  43. #43 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “If the bubble touches me, you’re going to be arrested for assault,” he told her. “It’s a deliberate act on your behalf, I’m going to arrest you.”

    I was just thinking about this the other day. The trend is for every single act of human will to become criminal.

    The human race is headed for the day when every single act of human will is a crime.

    I thought it couldn’t possibly get more depressing — and I was wrong!

  44. #44 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “Louisiana man gets five years for shooting two deputies during no-knock drug raid. He says he thought they were burglars, and actually called 911 during the raid.”

    With this much right of self-defense, you might as well be a pacifist.

    Man, it must suck to live in a high-crime, low-income neighborhood in America. I’m lucky not to know.

    From the cops’ perspectives, I thought they were supposed to know that police work was dangerous — aren’t they alleging that all the time against the facts? They were suprised that during an armed surprise invasion of someone’s home that they might receive return fire? Their bulletproof vests weren’t enough of a clue that the possibility existed? The homeowner was supposed to hear “Police, search warrant!” and still fire away at them?

    Yeah, sure they yelled “Police, search warrant!” Just like Ryan Fredericks did.

  45. #45 |  Lori Wilson | 

    I seem to recall that in Florida, the felony murder rule was used to prosecute (and convict – with life in prison) a young man whose only involvement in a murder was to lend his car to friends who several hours later committed the crime.
    The prosecution in the burglar case seems MUCH more justifiable to me.

  46. #46 |  Ben | 

    So you guys are ok with a 16-year-old going away for life, because he participated in an unarmed robbery, in which the only person hurt was another robber? That’s not excessive?

  47. #47 |  RT | 

    #30 “To posit that the unarmed teens were conspiring to commit a dangerous crime that might involve killing someone is a huge stretch”

    Did have a weapon. A hammer. And before you spout off that a hammer isn’t a weapon you should look back on the number of people murdered by blunt force trauma.

  48. #48 |  J sub D | 

    Toronto cop sues YouTube for defamation because of videos mocking him for arresting a girl who was blowing bubbles at the G20 protests.

    Boo hoo. My feelings are hurt.
    Be a man, officer.

  49. #49 |  J sub D | 

    “That’s something you have in Vietnam, not inside your house,’’ the judge told Henry. “We’re not in a war here. Seems like we are.’’

    Tell it to the cops, your honor. Tell it to the cops.

  50. #50 |  Just Plain Brian | 

    Re:Toronto cop sues YouTube for defamation

    “Josephs said in a statement of claim the cartoons have subjected him to ridicule”

    Well, he’s come up with a fantastic method for gaining respect. I wasn’t even aware of Officer Bubbles’ existence before the law suit. If he thinks the past ridicule was bad, he ain’t seen nothing yet.

  51. #51 |  Mattocracy | 

    No one held a gun to this dead kid’s head and told him he had to rob a house. The kid being charged didn’t force his accomplis to do anything. It makes no sense to charge him with murder when there was no coercion.

    We might as well charge the parents for bringing them into this world in the first place if we’re going to use this line of reasoning. Fuck, charge the teachers and principal too for allowing them to skip school. Charge the home builder for having the gaul to build that house so it could be robbed.

  52. #52 |  delta | 

    #7: I was going to quote that exact same section. “We’re not in a war here. Seems like we are.’’ just doesn’t make any goddamn sense.

  53. #53 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #50 | Just Plain Brian

    The Stresand Effect

  54. #54 |  J sub D | 

    I’m not understanding why this application of the felony murder rule is so unreasonable.

    Nor am I. You’re committing a felony. Somebody dies as a direct result of that crime. Does it really matter who the person who died was? I’m open to being convinced that the dead person being an accomplish changes all of this.

    Let me add that I have no problem whatsoever with charging the getaway driver with murder if one of the bank robbers kills a teller.

  55. #55 |  J sub D | 

    Make that accomplice. I suck at proofreading my own stuff.

  56. #56 |  BamBam | 

    #43, I love how cops in their hallowed blessed costumes think that if anything touches them, even a bubble, it is ASSAULT. The State backs their position. The system must be removed and replaced with _______

  57. #57 |  Matt | 

    My understanding is that felony murder infers there was malice intended towards victims from the willingness to participate in the felony. ( That explains how someone could be charged even if their accomplice committed a murder, or if the victim died accidentally during the felony. It seems more doubtful that malice _towards the accomplice_ could be inferred, since the felony obviously was not directed at the accomplice. In that light the charge seems a bit of a stretch.

  58. #58 |  EH | 

    #42 Bob:

    Only when it’s activated. At night. When there isn’t supposed to be anyone there. It also calls the cops.

    The NYT story has been revised to say “employee-activated” since it was first published.

  59. #59 |  Dan | 

    I’m sure there are some racists in the Tea party movement. The tea party includes neo-cons, constitutionalists, some paleo-libertarians and conservatives. It’s very much a mixed bag. The Southern Poverty law center equates libertarianism/constitutionalism with terrorism. Ron Paul the “Carlos” of libertarian terrorism. Send him to gitmo.

  60. #60 |  InMD | 

    The felony-murder rule has a lot of local variances. Florida tends to be a bit over the top (in my humble opinion) with that sort of thing. I can’t speak for other jurisdictions but in Maryland felony-murder doesn’t apply if the police or the victim kill someone nor does it ever apply if a perpetrator is the person who is killed.

    We also have a somewhat unique rule called the “hostage/human shield” exception where felony murder does apply if the accused takes a hostage and that hostage is killed by the police. I’m not sure how often it comes up but there was a case where some people robbed a jewelry store in Baltimore then took the owners hostage in their car and fled the city. The hostages were then accidentally shot and killed by the police in a shoot-out on the highway.

  61. #61 |  G. Reeve | 

    My sympathy for the little punk who broke into the wrong house is limited, to say the least. It’s a shame that the bullet hadn’t been high enough up his torso to save the taxpayers the money it will cost to put him on trial and (in all likelihood, since a conviction seems likely) imprison him.

    That being said, there’s a CHANCE that he could be a productive member of society if he’s not in prison until he’s pushing 70. Maybe.

    I’m sure that there’s somebody out there more deserving of a maximum security cell for the next fifty years. This seems like a waste of jail space (not to mention money).

  62. #62 |  Mike | 

    Re: Florida kid facing 50 years.

    Does the kid deserve punishment? Absolutely yes.

    He cut school: Should get extra homework for a week and be grounded by his parents.
    He broke into a house: More serious, probation for 6-12 months and full restitution for home repair.

    50 years in the slammer for murder? Dickens nailed it: If that’s what the law says, then the law is an ass.

  63. #63 |  buzz | 

    So they broke into a occupied house in the middle of the night. What was their plan when they woke up the residents?

  64. #64 |  JMaverick | 

    Re: Florida

    I am with the law on this particular instance. I think a home invasion robbery with four people and a hammer is well within the violent crime category. If that sort of crime results directly in someone’s death, anyone committing the crime has murdered that person.

    That being said, the Florida law is imperfect at best. I seem to recall an attempted prosecution for murder when a police cruiser speeding to the scene got in an accident and someone was killed. That sort of thing is too far removed from the crime for a murder charge to be justified in my opinion.

  65. #65 |  Frank Hummel | 

    Pretty funny. The officer bubbles video reminded me of the one one with the narcotics agent that shot himself in the frigging foot while explaining he’s the only one qualified in that room to handle the Glock.

    That being said, and i know it’s not right, but i feel some shadenfreude when some lib lefty gets an attitude adjustment.

  66. #66 |  jeffinca | 

    Home invasion (occupants present) is pretty damn serious. Probation? Wtf?

    Even in CA the law presumes there is intent to commit great bodily harm and that the occupant is presumed to be in fear for their life if there is a home invasion break in.

    No sympathay. Anyrhing less than death to the person breaking in is merciful. Should sue the estate of the dead bastard for damages to repair his property.

  67. #67 |  BoogaFrito | 

    Re: DNA Box

    Great, so now the police have another tool to frame suspects they don’t otherwise have evidence on. And it’s DNA, which everyone knows is an infallible determiner of guilt!

  68. #68 |  Medicine Man | 

    Concerning point #6: A long-awaited collision between the Castle Law and No-Knock raids?

  69. #69 |  Medicine Man | 

    Actually, a better question: Does Louisiana have some equivalent of Castle Doctrine laws?