Thursday, August 31, 2023

FBI has 21.7 million DNA profiles about 7 % of the U.S. population

 The FBI has amassed 21.7 million DNA profiles — equivalent to about 7 percent of the U.S. population — according to Bureau data reviewed by The Intercept.

The FBI aims to nearly double its current $56.7 million budget for dealing with its DNA catalog with an additional $53.1 million, according to its budget request for fiscal year 2024. “The requested resources will allow the FBI to process the rapidly increasing number of DNA samples collected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” the appeal for an increase says.

“When we’re talking about rapid expansion like this, it’s getting us ever closer to a universal DNA database.”

In an April 2023 statement submitted to Congress to explain the budget request, FBI Director Christopher Wray cited several factors that had “significantly expanded the DNA processing requirements of the FBI.” He said the FBI collected around 90,000 samples a month — “over 10 times the historical sample volume” — and expected that number to swell to about 120,000 a month, totaling about 1.5 million new DNA samples a year. (The FBI declined to comment.)

The staggering increases are raising questions among civil liberties advocates.

“When we’re talking about rapid expansion like this, it’s getting us ever closer to a universal DNA database,” Vera Eidelman, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who specializes in genetic privacy, told The Intercept. “I think the civil liberties implications here are significant.”

The rapid growth of the FBI’s sample load is in large part thanks to a Trump-era rule change that mandated the collection of DNA from migrants who were arrested or detained by immigration authorities.

The FBI began building a DNA database as early as 1990. By 1998, it helped create a national database called Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, that spanned all 50 states. Each state maintained its own database, with police or other authorities submitting samples based on their states’ rules, and CODIS allowed all the states to search across the entire country. At first, the collection of data was limited to DNA from people convicted of crimes, from crime scenes, and from unidentified remains.

Even those categories were controversial at the time. When CODIS was launched nationally, most states did not submit DNA from all people convicted of felonies; the only point of consensus among the states’ collection programs was to take DNA from convicted sex offenders.

“If you look back at when CODIS was established, it was originally for violent or sexual offenders,” Anna Lewis, a Harvard researcher who specializes in the ethical implications of genetics research, told The Intercept. “The ACLU warned that this was going to be a slippery slope, and that’s indeed what we’ve seen.”

Today, police have the authority to take DNA samples from anyone sentenced for a felony charge. In 28 states, police can take DNA samples from suspects arrested for felonies but who have not been convicted of any crime. In some cases, police offer plea deals to reduce felony charges to misdemeanor offenses in exchange for DNA samples. Police are even acquiring DNA samples from unwitting people, as The Intercept recently reported.

“It changed massively,” Lewis said of the rules and regulations around government DNA collection. “You only have to be a person of interest to end up in these databases.”

The database is likely to continue proliferating as DNA technology becomes more sophisticated, Lewis explained, pointing to the advent of environmental DNA, which allows for DNA to be collected from ambient settings like wastewater or air.

“Just by breathing, you’re discarding DNA in a way that can be traced back to you,” Lewis said.

While this might sound like science fiction, the federal government has already embraced the technology. In May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offered a contract for laboratory services to assist with “autonomously collected eDNA testing”: environmental DNA testing based on samples that are no longer even manually collected.

Until recently, the U.S. DNA database surpassed even that of authoritarian China, which launched an ambitious DNA collection program in 2017. That year, the BBC reported, the U.S. had about 4 percent of its population’s DNA, while China had about 3 percent. Since then, China announced a plan aimed at collecting between 5 and 10 percent of its male population’s DNA, according to a 2020 study cited by the New York Times.

China has a record of abusing its DNA database for surveillance and crackdowns on dissent. The efforts have been aided by American technology and expertise. In 2021, the U.S. intelligence community raised alarms about China’s widespread DNA collection, including foreigners’ genetic information.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Houston PD's high-speed chases resulted in 27 deaths and 740 injuries over five years

High-speed chases launched by the Houston Police Department increased 47 percent over a five-year period, killing more than two dozen people and injuring hundreds more, a Houston Chronicle investigation has found.

Between Jan. 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2022, officers engaged in 6,303 chases. Twenty-seven people died during those pursuits, and at least 740 people were injured. 

At least 240 of the dead and injured were bystanders, including a man who’d just left a grocery store, a man walking to get a haircut and a Lyft driver with a passenger in his car.

To document the toll high-speed chases are taking citywide, the Chronicle analyzed more than 5,000 post-pursuit forms filled out by officers, filed a dozen-plus public information requests and spoke to family members of bystanders who were killed. 

During the five-year period:

  • Houston police officers embarked on more chases annually than their counterparts in Los Angeles and Chicago. Police here reported more pursuits than in Dallas, San Antonio and Austin combined.
  • One out of three HPD chases ended in a crash.
  • HPD-launched crashes increased 57 percent.

About 85 percent of pursuits citywide started in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, the reports analyzed by the Chronicle show. More than 80 percent of chase suspects were Black or Hispanic, HPD statistics show.

To read more CLICK HERE


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

NJ family calls crisis shelter for help with mentally ill son, police respond and shoot him to death

The family of a Jersey City man with mental illness said there are still many unanswered questions following his death in a police-involved shooting, according to PIX11 News.

Andrew Jerome Washington’s family said they called the Jersey City Medical Center Crisis Center for help around 3 p.m. Sunday, but police arrived instead.

“If you ask anyone who Andrew Jerome Washington is, they’ll tell you he’s a funny, good person,” Lisa Mendez, Washington’s aunt, told PIX11 News. “The only thing was that he had an illness.”

Washington, 52, had been treated for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for decades, according to his two aunts. They said he had been acting strangely the last few days, talking loudly to himself and banging on the apartment walls.

The family said they believed he was off his medication and would harm himself. They said they called the Jersey City Medical Center Crisis Center for help. Instead, several police officers arrived at the apartment on Randolph Avenue.

“You’re going into his apartment; please, if you have to use anything, please use a pellet gun,” Mendez told PIX11. “Please do not shoot Drew. Then I heard this pow, pow, pow, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, they shot him.’”

They said police fired two shots using real bullets. Family members said he died after surgery at Jersey City Medical Center.

“I don’t understand it because we called the crisis center for help,” Doris Ervin, another aunt, told PIX11.

Family members said police arrived at Washington’s home on Saturday before Sunday’s fatal shooting after they called the crisis center for help. They said Washington stayed outside on his stoop and refused to go with the police, so officers left.

His family said Washington has had a long history with the Jersey City Medical Center Crisis Center and Jersey City Police. He was shot in the arm by police in 2011 when they said he was refusing medical help. 

“I think the crisis center should’ve done a better job. The police should’ve done a better job. They should’ve had more compassion,” Mendez said.

Jersey City police told PIX11 that officers responded to help EMS with a violent and emotionally disturbed person. According to police, Washington charged at them with a knife as officers attempted to de-escalate the situation.

Police said a Taser was used before an officer fired their gun. The incident was captured on multiple body cameras that will be turned over to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office as part of the investigation, authorities said.

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, August 28, 2023

Accused 9/11 terrorist incompetent for trial after two decades at Guantanamo Bay

A military medical board has concluded that Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who is accused of conspiring in the Sept. 11 attacks, has a mental illness that makes him incompetent to either face trial or plead guilty in the death penalty case, according to a report filed with his trial judge, reported The New York Times.

The finding is the latest setback to prosecution efforts to bring the long-running capital cases at Guantánamo Bay to trial. Last week, a military judge threw out the confession of a man accused of plotting the U.S.S. Cole bombing, Guantánamo’s other capital case, as contaminated by his torture by the C.I.A.

The question of Mr. bin al-Shibh’s sanity, and capacity to help his lawyers defend him, has shadowed the Sept. 11 conspiracy case since his first court appearance in 2008. Then, a military lawyer disclosed that her client was restrained with ankle shackles and that the prison had him medicated with psychotropic drugs. He has disrupted pretrial hearings over the years with outbursts, and in court and in filings complained that the C.I.A. torments him with noises, vibrations and other techniques to deprive him of sleep.

It was unclear whether the prisoner was allowed to see the report, which was filed under seal; for years he has resisted the idea that he has a mental illness and should be severed from the joint trial with the man accused of being the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and three other defendants. The five men are accused of conspiring in the plane hijackings in 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Homicide down 22% in St. Louis

Homicides in St. Louis are down about 22% from this time last year, and other reported crimes in the city are among their lowest levels since 2009, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The drop in homicides is on pace to be the city’s largest year-over-year decrease since the 1930s, and the city has its fewest homicides through late August in almost a decade.

Meanwhile, reported aggravated assaults were down about 6.5% through the end of July. Robberies were down 17%, and burglaries more than 13%.

The trend is encouraging for St. Louis, where for years the per capita homicide rate was among the highest of any city in the nation, largely because violence is concentrated in the city while residents are spread throughout the region. And it’s especially notable because during the dog days of July and August, crimes — especially homicides — tend to spike.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Alabama wants to execute prisoners by 'untried' nitrogen hypoxia

Alabama is seeking to become the first state to execute a prisoner by making him breathe pure nitrogen, according to Scripps News.

The Alabama attorney general’s office on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to set an execution date for death row inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith, 58. The court filing indicated Alabama plans to put him to death by nitrogen hypoxia, an execution method that is authorized in three states but has never been used.

Nitrogen hypoxia is caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, depriving them of oxygen and causing them to die. Nitrogen makes up 78% of the air inhaled by humans and is harmless when inhaled with oxygen. While proponents of the new method have theorized it would be painless, opponents have likened it to human experimentation.

Alabama authorized nitrogen hypoxia in 2018 amid a shortage of drugs used to carry out lethal injections, but the state has not attempted to use it until now to carry out a death sentence. Oklahoma and Mississippi have also authorized nitrogen hypoxia, but have not used it.

The disclosure that Alabama is ready to use nitrogen hypoxia is expected to set off a new round of legal battles over the constitutionality of the method.

The Equal Justice Initiative, a legal advocacy group that has worked on death penalty issues, said Alabama has a history of "failed and flawed executions and execution attempts" and "experimenting with a never before used method is a terrible idea."

All 19 defendants in Georgia election interference case surrender

The final seven defendants in the case turned themselves in at the Fulton County Jail on Friday.

"No state in the country has executed a person using nitrogen hypoxia and Alabama is in no position to experiment with a completely unproven and unused method for executing someone," the organization said.

Alabama attempted to execute Smith by lethal injection last year, but called off the execution because of problems inserting an IV into his veins. It was the state’s second such instance within two months of being unable to put an inmate to death and its third since 2018. The day after Smith's aborted execution, Gov. Kay Ivey announced a pause on executions to conduct an internal review of lethal injection procedures. The state resumed lethal injections last month.

Smith was one of two men convicted in the 1988 murder-for-hire slaying of a preacher's wife. The Alabama attorney general argued it is time to carry out the death sentence.

"It is a travesty that Kenneth Smith has been able to avoid his death sentence for nearly 35 years after being convicted of the heinous murder-for-hire slaying of an innocent woman, Elizabeth Sennett," Attorney General Steve Marshall said Friday in a statement.

Alabama has been working for several years to develop the nitrogen hypoxia execution method, but has disclosed little about its plans. The attorney general's court filing did not describe the details of how the execution would be carried out. Corrections Commissioner John Hamm told reporters last month that a protocol was nearly complete.

A number of Alabama inmates seeking to block their executions by lethal injection, including Smith, have argued they should be allowed to die by nitrogen hypoxia.

Robert Grass, an attorney representing Smith, declined to comment Friday.

Sennett was found dead on March 18, 1988, in the home she shared with her husband on Coon Dog Cemetery Road in Alabama’s Colbert County. Prosecutors said Smith was one of two men who were each paid $1,000 to kill Sennett on behalf of her husband, who was deeply in debt and wanted to collect on insurance.

The slaying, and the revelations over who was behind it, rocked the small north Alabama community. The other man convicted in the killing was executed in 2010. Charles Sennett, the victim’s husband and a Church of Christ pastor, killed himself when the investigation began to focus on him as a possible suspect, according to court documents.

To read more CLICK HERE

Mangino discusses Trump's Court appearance in Georgia on WFMJ-TV21

Watch my interview with Lindsay McCoy on WFMJ-TV21 discussing the 4th and most recent indictment of Donald Trump.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Mangino a guest on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen as I discuss the shocking murder of Rachel Morin with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories.

To listen to the interview CLICK HERE

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Mangino discusses sixth wife murder trial on Law and Crime Network

Watch my interview on Law and Crime Network with host Imran Ansari discussing the trial of Thomas Randolph accused of murdering his sixth wife in Nevada.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 19, 2023

West Virginia white supremacist arrested for threats to Pittsburgh Jewish community

known white supremacist from West Virginia was arrested Thursday and accused of targeting the Jewish community in social media posts and online comments during the trial of the shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, according to NBC News.

Hardy Carroll Lloyd, 45, was taken into custody without incident on federal charges of witness tampering, obstruction and transmitting threats.

Lloyd, a self-proclaimed "reverend" of a white supremacy movement, is accused of making several comments in May calling for Robert Bowers' release and threatening people who served on the jury at his trial. Bowers was convicted in June of fatally shooting 11 people at the synagogue in 2018. He was sentenced to death Aug. 3.

In a May 14 post on the Russian social media site VKontakte, Lloyd wrote, "Free Robert Bowers Now!! ... We need to support anyone who kills jews," a federal criminal complaint alleged.

Three days later, he posted, "Robert Bowers did Pgh a Favour. Any juror who finds him guilty is guilty of anti-White racism," the complaint says.

In other posts, Lloyd allegedly threatened to publicly release the jurors' names and addresses. In a May 17 email to local news stations, Lloyd said people would be watching the jurors and "taking pictures of ALL cars and people who leave the courthouse," according to the complaint.

White supremacy stickers with Lloyd's website were also found around Pittsburgh, authorities said in the complaint. One sticker included a swastika and the words "White Pride," according to the complaint.

Authorities said Lloyd posted the threats because he was trying to "influence, obstruct, and impede" the trial.

"Threats of violence used to intimidate or influence a community or jury cannot and will not be tolerated. The FBI makes it a priority to investigate crimes based on religious bias," FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall said in a statement.

"In this case, the Jewish community was specifically targeted by these threats," Nordwall continued. "I want to thank the community for sharing information that helped lead to today’s arrest."

The 34-page complaint also outlines other offensive and racist posts it says Lloyd made against Black and transgender people.

Lloyd, who was a resident of Pittsburgh, has had several run-ins with the law. Last year, the Texas Public Safety Department offered a $1,000 reward for information that led to his arrest after he allegedly made online comments saying he would be carrying a firearm onto the Texas State Capitol grounds and would challenge any law enforcement officer who tried to stop him.

It was not clear whether he is still wanted on those charges. The Texas Public Safety Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

In 2010, Lloyd was sentenced in a federal court in Pittsburgh to 2½ years in prison for possessing 10 firearms and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition as a convicted felon. He was acquitted in 2006 in connection with the shooting death of his former girlfriend, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, August 18, 2023

Capital-Star: Trump’s trials must be televised | Opinion

Matthew T. Mangino
Guest Opinion, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Former president Donald Trump’s federal trial for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 election must be televised into every living room, on every laptop and every iPhone in America, for anyone who wants to see it for themselves. 

Everyone in the country, and around the world, should have the opportunity to watch, in real time, the unfiltered presentation of evidence from special counsel Jack Smith and Trump’s legal team, if he chooses to present evidence.

News of the trial should not come exclusively from talking heads and media outlets sometimes biased in their reporting.

Cameras in the courtroom are not new.  Court TV and the Law and Crime Network televise live trials at the state level every day.  The former president’s latest indictment in Georgia on racketeering charges  almost certainly will end up being televised.

The same is not true for federal courts. Cameras in federal courtrooms are exceedingly rare, but not completely unprecedented. Pilot programs in the District Court for the Northern District of California, the District Court of Guam, and the District Court for the Western District of Washington have permitted some civil cases to be televised.   Cameras in certain federal civil cases continue in Northern California. 

The U.S. Supreme Court had, for over a decade, allowed audio recordings of arguments to be released following a brief delay.  During the pandemic, Chief Justice John Roberts authorized the real-time audio of arguments—that policy remains in place today.

Although almost nonexistent in the federal courts, cameras are common in state courts. Only four states—Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Iowa, Delaware—and the District of Columbia do not allow cameras in the court, according to the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).

Pennsylvania law prohibits coverage of any judicial proceedings and transmission of communications by phone, radio, television, or other advanced communication technology.

However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allows the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN), a public service cable network, to record its proceedings, as well as the state’s intermediate appellate courts, and to broadcast those proceedings after approval.

Trump’s D.C. trial will be conducted in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. Although the D.C. district and circuit courts have not allowed cameras, some federal circuits—federal courts of appeal—have permitted cameras. The Second Circuit allows one unintrusive camera for some proceedings. However, that does not include criminal matters like appeals, motions, or petitions challenging a court ruling. 

With recent reports of serious allegations of apparent ethical breaches against two members of the court, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, the need for transparency has become even more urgent

In March, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill that would permit cameras and live broadcasts. Congress must not stop with the Supreme Court—and Trump’s trial is the impetus to open all courtrooms to public scrutiny. The First Amendment provides the right, but each of us has the responsibility, to shine light into darkness, and that includes our federal courts. 

The unprecedented trial of a former president charged with crimes related to the overturning of an election should be available for all Americans to witness.

To read more CLICK HERE

(Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly and George. P.C. and the former district attorney of Lawrence County, PA.  He is the author of The Executioner’s Toll. You can follow him on twitter @MatthewTMangino or contact him at

Texas woman arrested for threatening to kill federal Judge in Trump's election interference case

A Texas woman was arrested for threatening to kill the federal Judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election interference case in Washington, DC.

According to the indictment, Abigail Jo Shry called the chambers of US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan on August 5. She allegedly stated “you are in our sights, we want to kill you” and “we want to kill Sheila Jackson Lee.” After threatening to kill Chutkan and Sheila Jackson Lee, Shry allegedly stated “if Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly…” Shry then threatened to “kill all democrats in Washington DC” as well as “all people in the LGBTQ community.”

Two days after the call Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents conducted a “knock and talk” at Shry’s residence in Alvin, Texas. Shry admitted to DHS agents that she made the call to Judge Chutkan’s chambers. Shry told DHS agents that she had no plans to travel to Washington, DC, yet stated that “if Sheila Jackson Lee comes to Alvin, [Texas]” that DHS would “need to worry.”

Shry’s father testified at her detention hearing that Shry is non-violent and is suffering from substance use disorder. Shry’s detention order alleges Shry was already charged with making threats of bodily harm and was out on bond when she made the threats to Chutkan.

Shry is charged with violating 18 USC 875(c), which criminalizes communicating a threat to kidnap or injure a person across state lines. The maximum penalty is five years imprisonment.

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Gun manufacturers target young children with the 'JR-15'

ON HER MSNBC SHOW LAST WEEK, Rachel Maddow did a segment on the marketing of an assault-style rifle made with little kids in mind. It is the JR-15, which stands for Junior 15, a smaller, lighter version of the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, reported The Bulwark. It is made and sold by an Illinois-based company called Wee 1 Tactical (“wee one,” get it?) and advertised with the tagline, “Get ’em One Like Yours.”

Maddow called it “a gun specifically designed to be wielded by babies.” That might not be literally true, but, as Maddow goes on to point out, the JR-15 until recently used logos showing a skull and crossbones for a little boy or a little girl with pacifiers in their mouths. As she parsed it, “Because why should any kid have to wait until they’re done with the teething process before they can start carrying their own assault rifle?” 

While these logos have been removed, the intended demographic for the weapon remains the same. This is clear from the image that appears on a pamphlet for the gun showing a bearded man teaching a little girl, who appears to be about five years old, how to shoot. 

Maddow’s segment prompted an impassioned rebuttal from NewsBusters, a website that says it covers “short-term outrages and long-term trends in liberal media tilt.” In an article titled “Maddow MELTDOWN: Falsely Claims AR-15 for ‘Babies’ Has Hit the Market,” NewsBusters associate editor Nicholas Fondacaro described Maddow’s segment as a “hissy fit” and her delivery as “shrieking.” Worse, it was all over something as innocent and wholesome as modifying a weapon of war for the use of little kids. 

“Imagine you’re a parent with a love for exercising your Second Amendment rights and you want to share your hobbies with your kids and teach them to respect and handle firearms safely,” Fondacaro mused. “Many parents in this situation would start their kid off with a .22LR caliber rifle.” The JR-15, he explained, is “more or less a Ruger 10/22, the ubiquitous semiautomatic .22LR rifle in America, except it’s in the AR-style platform.” 

Moreover, Fondacaro wrote, the JR-15 was designed for “young kids,” not babies or toddlers. “Wee 1 Tactical did use some cartoony skulls and crossbones with pacifiers” in its early marketing, he conceded, but dropped these motifs “in favor of a more serious tone.” And it would not be kids but adults who actually purchased these weapons, he helpfully points out. No toddlers are “going into gun stores, dragging stepstools to the counter, and slapping down their tooth fairy money for a Jr-15,” he assured. “Even three or four toddlers stacked in a trench coat would have a hard time pulling off that caper.”

Fondacaro cited Wee 1’s contention that it is simply helping parents pass on the “great American tradition” of teaching their children to develop “a love for hunting and shooting sports,” as families have been doing “since our nation’s founding.” (In fact, many hunters regard AR-15–style rifles as inferior for hunting and see those who use them as “not hunters but wannabe weekend warriors” susceptible to aggressive marketing.) In sum, Fondacaro clucked, “What Maddow tried to do was vilify that tradition and make it sound like something abnormal and contemptible.”

Yes, what could possibly be considered abnormal about teaching your five-year-old how to fire an assault-style rifle? Why would any parent hesitate to bring weapons like these into their children’s lives? 

Some of these same parents, let’s remember, find it intolerable that a public school teacher might let on to a third-grader that some families have two mommies or two daddies. They think their kids need to be protected from seeing a dude dressed as a woman, or from being exposed to Michelangelo’s “David” in an art history lesson, or even from reading the works of that filth merchant, William Shakespeare. They worry that putting in a bad word for slavery might be too much for even white teenagers to bear.

And yet, these snowflakes turn to ice balls at the firing range, as they introduce their young children to the weapons that may someday be used to kill them.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Mangino discusses Trump indictment in Georgia on WFMJ-TV21

Watch my interview with WFMJ-TV21 regarding the latest indictment of former president Donald Trump for  attempting to overturn the election results in Georgia.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Monday, August 14, 2023

Ready access to guns contributes to soaring number of suicides

Experts say ready access to guns contributes to the issue. Suicides attributed to firearm injuries have been rising since 2006. In 2022, nearly 27,000 people died by gun-related suicide, surpassing earlier records and accounting for more than half of all suicide deaths, reported The New York Times.

Mike Anestis, the executive director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center, attributes the increase partly to an “unprecedented surge” in firearm sales in 2020. That year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation processed a record of about 39.7 million firearm background checks.

In a paper published in JAMA Psychiatry, Dr. Anestis and his colleagues found that those who purchased a firearm for the first time during the surge were at a higher risk of having experienced suicidal thoughts.

“If firearms are more likely to be in homes where suicidal thoughts recur, then as the years go by you’re more likely to have that sort of confluence of wanting to die and having ready access to — by far — the most lethal method for suicide,” Dr. Anestis said.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Illinois Supreme Court finds assault weapons ban constitutional

The Illinois State Supreme Court found a strict assault weapons ban passed after the Highland Park shooting to be constitutional, reported ABC News.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit that claimed that the ban violated the equal protections clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court reversed a lower court finding and said that the law does not violate the equal protections clause. However, the Supreme Court did not comment on claims that the law also violated the Second Amendment.

In the ruling, which was 4-3, Justice Elizabeth Rochford wrote, "First, we hold that the exemptions neither deny equal protection nor constitute special legislation because plaintiffs have not sufficiently alleged that they are similarly situated to and treated differently from the exempt classes. Second, plaintiffs expressly waived in the circuit court any independent claim that the restrictions impermissibly infringe the second amendment. Third, plaintiffs’ failure to cross-appeal is a jurisdictional bar to renewing their three-readings claim."

She concluded, "Accordingly, we reverse the circuit court and enter judgment for defendants on the equal protection and special legislation claims."

The law at the center of the suit prohibits assault weapons, assault weapon attachments, .50-caliber rifles or .50-caliber cartridges -- the type of semi-automatic weapons used in many mass shootings around the country. It prohibits the purchase, sale, manufacture, delivery and import of these firearms. It gives exemptions to law enforcement, military, corrections and trained private security.

The Protect Illinois Communities Act was signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker last year, hours after it was passed in a legislative session held months after a gunman opened fire at a July 4 parade in a Chicago suburb that left seven people dead and more than 30 others wounded.

Pritzker applauded the ruling minutes after it was announced, saying he was "pleased" with the decision.

"This is a commonsense gun reform law to keep mass killing machines off of our streets and out of our schools, malls parks, and places of worship," hr wrote in a statement. "Illinoisans deserve to feel safe in every corner of our state--whether they are attending a Fourth of July Parade or heading to work--and that's precisely what the Protect Illinois Communities Act accomplishes."

The law, which went into effect in January, made Illinois the ninth state to prohibit assault weapons. At the time, the White House issued a statement commending lawmakers on passing the law.

Pritzker, who defeated Republican challenger state Sen. Darren Bailey in the midterm elections last year to win a second term, had campaigned for reelection on the promise of stricter gun laws.

A lower court previously ruled that the law was "facially" unconstitutional because exemptions denied the "law-abiding public" equal protections.

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, August 11, 2023

Chicago gun deaths down the first half of 2023

In 2022, Chicago had 355 gun deaths by the end of July, a little over a 16 percent decrease from the same period in 2021, reported The Trace. This year, the city has had 332 gun deaths, a decrease of 6.5 percent. Cities nationwide have experienced similar trends in the first half of 2023, with the 30 cities that made their data readily available in a new study reporting nearly 10 percent fewer homicides.

Chicago’s data shows that there continues to be a disparity in violence in the city’s South and West Side neighborhoods, which are primarily home to Black and Latino communities. Residents of these neighborhoods, which have borne the brunt of Chicago’s historic disinvestment in communities of color, have been outspoken about needing things like affordable housing, job training, and mental health facilities to help combat the long-term root causes of gun violence. 

Leaders in violence prevention and intervention said that, while the numbers are not where they want them to be, they have seen success in their work by noticing a shift in the narrative about and effort around solving gun violence. They said it has changed from a niche problem addressed piecemeal by siloed organizations to a collective effort that includes government collaboration and investment. Mayor Brandon Johnson has promised to continue funding violence reduction efforts and tackle its root causes. Organizers said the city needs to continue listening to the hardest-hit communities.

To read more CLICK HERE


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Florida Gov. suspends another elected prosecutor

 “A political hit job by a weak dictator. This is a smokescreen for his failing and disastrous presidential campaign”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) suspended the Orlando-area state attorney, saying she was “clearly and fundamentally derelict” in her duty, reported the Washington Post.

DeSantis removed Monique Worrell, a Democrat, from her job as the chief prosecutor for Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court at a brief news conference in Tallahassee. It’s the second time in a year that the governor, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, suspended an elected Democrat from office.

“The state of Florida is a law-and-order state,” DeSantis said from the room of the Florida Cabinet. “Refusing to faithfully enforce the laws of Florida puts our communities in danger and victimizes innocent Floridians.”

Worrell called the move “a political hit job” by a “weak dictator.”

“This is a smokescreen for his failing and disastrous presidential campaign,” Worrell said at a news conference outside her office in Orlando.

The action by the governor, who has largely been absent from Florida as he campaigns in early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, came five days after two Orlando police officers were shot and injured during a traffic stop. The suspected shooter was later killed by SWAT officers.

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Mangino interviewed on WFMJ-TV21

 Watch my interview on WFMJ-TV21 regarding alleged misuse of ARP funds in Youngstown, Ohio.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Mangino a guest on Scripps News discussing latest Trump indictment

Watch my interview on The Debrief on Scripps News with host Dale Walters as we examine the latest indictment for former president Donald Trump. 

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Monday, August 7, 2023

What are the chances Tree of Life killer ever gets executed?

The old adage “Be careful what you wish for” is a reminder that decisions and plans may go awry even when they seem to come to fruition, reported Slate. Last week, the Biden administration got what it wanted when a jury voted to sentence Robert Bowers to death for perpetrating what the Washington Post reported was “ the highest-casualty antisemitic attack in the nation’s history.”

Now what?

The Bowers verdict adds a new wrinkle to the already confusing picture of the Biden administration’s position on the death penalty. Specifically, the administration doesn’t actually want to see Bowers executed.

Bowers will join the 41 other people on federal death row in Terre Haute, Indiana, pursue a lengthy appeals process, and hope that President Biden gets reelected or that he commutes all federal death sentences before leaving office.

2015 study suggests that the odds that someone like Bowers will actually be executed are very low. It found that nationwide, less than one in six defendants convicted of capital crimes were actually executed—most of the rest die in prison, while a few are eventually exonerated.

But this is likely just what the Biden administration was after—a death sentence infinitely deferred, a death sentence that would never be carried out.

Let’s recall the horror of what happened on Oct. 27, 2018, when Bowers killed 11 people and wounded other members of the congregations of three synagogues who were worshipping at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Bowers also shot and wounded several police officers who responded to news of the shooting.

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Sunday, August 6, 2023

Mangino discusses Trump indictment on ABC News Now

See my interview about Donald Trump's third indictment with Verify on ABC 13 News Now in Norfolk, Virginia. 

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Mangino discusses latest Trump indictment on WFMJ-TV21

Watch my interview on WFMJ-TV21 discussing the latest indictment of former president Donald Trump.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Florida executes man who dropped all appeals and 'volunteered' to be executed

 The 17th Execution of 2023

James Phillip Barnes was executed on August 3, 2023 at 6:13 p.m. following a lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Starke, reported The Associated Press. Barnes was sentenced to death for the 1988 murder of a woman who was sexually assaulted, killed with a hammer and then set on fire in her own bed.

Barnes is, what is known as, a volunteer. He recently dropped all legal appeals and wanted to be executed.

Lying on a gurney, Barnes appeared to already have his eyes shut when the curtain was opened for witnesses. He didn’t respond when prison officials asked if he had a final statement, and he remained motionless except for breathing for about 10 minutes until that stopped. A doctor then pronounced him dead.

The 61-year-old inmate was sentenced to death for the murder of nurse Patricia “Patsy” Miller. It was the fifth execution in Florida this year.

One of the victim’s siblings, Andrew Miller, witnessed the execution and said he came to remember his sister.

“I did not come here to watch someone die. I came here to honor our sister, Patricia Miller,” he told reporters afterward. “No one should live in fear within the safety of their own home. No woman, no child, no animal should have that fear. We did.”

Barnes was serving a life sentence for the 1997 strangulation of his wife, 44-year-old Linda Barnes, when he wrote letters in 2005 to a state prosecutor claiming responsibility for killing Miller years earlier at her condominium in Melbourne on Florida’s east coast.

Barnes represented himself in court hearings where he offered no, pleaded guilty to killing Miller and did not attempt to seek a life sentence rather than the death penalty.

Miller, who was 41 when Barnes killed her on April 20, 1988, had some previous unspecified negative interactions with him, according to a jailhouse interview he gave German film director Werner Herzog.

“There were several events that happened (with Miller). I felt terribly humiliated, that’s all I can say,” Barnes said in the interview.

When he pleaded guilty, Barnes told the judge that after breaking into Miller’s unit, “I raped her twice. I tried to strangle her to death. I hit her head with a hammer and killed her and I set her bed on fire,” according to court records.

There was also DNA evidence linking Barnes to Miller’s killing. After pleading guilty, Barnes was sentenced to death on Dec. 13, 2007. He also pleaded guilty to sexual battery, arson, and burglary with an assault and battery.

Barnes killed his wife in 1997 after she discovered that he was dealing drugs. Her body was found stuffed in a closet after she was strangled, court records show. Barnes has claimed to have killed at least two other people but has never been charged in those cases.

Barnes had been in and out of prison since his teenage years, including time served for convictions for grand theft, forgery, burglary and trafficking in stolen property.

In the Miller case, state lawyers appointed to represent Barnes filed initial appeals, including one that led to mental competency evaluations. Two doctors found that Barnes had symptoms of personality disorder with “borderline antisocial and sociopathic features.” However, they pronounced him competent to understand his legal situation and plead guilty, and his convictions and death sentence were upheld.

After DeSantis signed the inmate’s death warrant in June, a Brevard County judge granted Barnes’ motion to drop all appeals involving mitigating evidence such as his mental condition and said “that he wanted to accept responsibility for his actions and to proceed to execution (his death) without any delay,” court records show.

Though unusual, condemned inmates sometimes don’t pursue every legal avenue to avoid execution. The Death Penalty Information Center reports that about 150 such inmates have been put to death since the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the death penalty as constitutional in 1976.

The Florida Supreme Court accepted the Brevard County ruling, noting that no other motion seeking a stay of execution for Barnes had been filed in state or federal court.

In the Herzog interview, Barnes said he had converted to Islam in prison and wanted to clear his conscience about the Miller case during the holy month of Ramadan.

“They say I’m remorseless. I’m not. There are no more questions on this case. And I’m going to be executed,” Barnes said.

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Friday, August 4, 2023

Missouri executes man for abduction and murder of 6-year-old girl

The 16th Execution of 2023

Johnny Johnson, 45, was sentenced to die for murdering 6-year-old Casey Williamson after abducting and trying to rape her, court records show. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson denied a clemency request on July 31, 2023, calling the crime “one of the most horrific” ever to cross his desk, reported CNN.

Johnson was put to death on August 1, 2023 by lethal injection, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a CNN affiliate. He was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m. CT, a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Corrections confirmed to CNN.

He was the fourth inmate executed this year in Missouri and the 16th across the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Johnson apologized to his victim’s family in a final statement released by corrections officials: “God Bless(.) Sorry to the people and family I hurt,” he wrote.

Casey’s family did not make a statement after Johnson’s execution, according to the Post-Dispatch. Family members had mixed feelings about the execution, the paper reported, but Casey’s mother was ready to put it behind her.

“I’ve been looking forward to putting this part of it to rest,” Angie Wideman said last week. CNN has reached out to her.

Johnson’s lethal injection was carried out after the US Supreme Court denied his request for a stay of execution, with the three liberal justices dissenting.

“The Court today paves the way to execute a man with documented mental illness before any court meaningfully investigates his competency to be executed,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent, citing in part Ford v. Wainwright, in which the court ruled the Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of a person who can’t understand what’s happening. Also dissenting were Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

A neuropsychiatrist who evaluated Johnson in February determined he long had “suffered from severe mental illness,” including schizophrenia, according to the inmate’s petition for a writ of certiorari.

Johnson understood he was sentenced to die for murdering a child, the doctor found, but he lacked a “rational understanding of the reasons for his execution” and believed that “Satan is using the State of Missouri to execute (him) to bring about the end of the world,” the petition said. Ultimately, the doctor found Johnson incompetent to be executed. 

The state opposed Johnson’s petition, citing the findings of his prison’s head of mental health, who reported Johnson had never “expressed these kinds of hallucinations or delusional beliefs.”

Sotomayor wrote the Supreme Court of Missouri and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals both had erred in denying Johnson the opportunity to argue his case.

The state Supreme Court first denied Johnson’s request for a competency hearing because it found he had not demonstrated the threshold showing of insanity required; a federal district court then denied relief.

Then, a three-judge panel of the Eight Circuit Court issued Johnson a stay and certificate of appealability, giving him the chance to have his case heard. But the full Eighth Circuit subsequently vacated the stay and declined to issue the certificate.

Johnson “deserves a hearing where a court can finally determine whether his execution violates the Eight Amendment,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Instead, this Court rushes to finality, bypassing fundamental procedural and substantive protections.”

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Thursday, August 3, 2023

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Federal jury sentences Tree of Life killer Robert G. Bower to death

Robert G. Bower the mass killer responsible for the death of 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh has been sentenced to death by a federal jury.  

There have been three executions in Pennsylvania in the modern era of the death penalty.  The state's last execution was in 1999. All three waived their appeal rights and volunteered to be executed. Pennsylvania has the fifth largest death row population.  

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Mangino a guest on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen to my interview with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories as we discuss the murder of Dr. Benjamin Mauck in his office exam room by a former patient Larry Pickens.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Mangino appears on Court TV with Host Michael Ayala

Watch my interview on Court TV with Michael Ayala discussing the the most watched criminal trials including Carlee Russell and Lori Daybell Vallow.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE