Saturday, September 30, 2023

GOP presidential debate on crime and the death penalty

The GOP presidential debate:

 Candidates said crime was overrunning US cities

The candidates discussed fears of crime overrunning cities, it’s worth noting that the best data we have so far suggests that, after an increase in killings during the early pandemic, the number of murders across the country fell substantially last year. Crime analyst Jeff Asher has also noted that murders appear to be falling even more this year.

The 2023 drop in murders began early in the year, when Asher’s analysis of early data suggested that the “United States may be experiencing one of the largest annual percent changes in murder ever recorded”.

The claim: Mike Pence suggested the threat of the death penalty would deter people from committing mass shootings

The former vice-president volunteered his plan for preventing mass shootings in the United States: “a federal expedited death penalty for anyone involved in a mass shooting.” He said he was disgusted that the teenager who committed the Parkland school shooting did not get a death sentence.

According to the Violence Project, a research firm, “Seventy-two percent of mass shooters were suicidal either before or at the time of the shooting.”

Data from the FBI on mass shootings in 2021 and 2022 also showed that a third to nearly a half of perpetrators either died by suicide or were killed by police or other citizens during the attack.

To read more CLICK HERE


Friday, September 29, 2023

Oklahoma executes killer found by DNA years after the crime

 The 18th Execution of 2023

Anthony Sanchez was executed in Oklahoma for the rape and murder of a dance student which went unsolved for years until DNA from the crime scene was matched to him while he was in prison for burglary, Sanchez, 44 declared his innocence as he was strapped down in the death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, on September 21, 2023, according to Sky News.

He was declared dead 11 minutes after the lethal drugs started to be administered.

While Sanchez maintained he had nothing to do with the 1996 killing of 21-year-old Juli Busken, he took the unusual step of opting not to present a clemency application to the state's pardon and parole board, which many viewed as the last chance to spare his life.

Ahead of his execution, Sanchez criticized his former lawyers and thanked his supporters, including his spiritual adviser who was in the chamber with him.

He said: "I'm innocent. I didn't kill nobody."

At one point during the procedure, a member of the execution team entered the chamber and reattached an oxygen monitor that prison officials said had malfunctioned.

Shortly before he was put to death, the US Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay of execution submitted by his new lawyer, who had said he needed more time to go through the case evidence.

Juli Busken's family 'has found closure and peace'

Ms Busken had just completed her last term at the University of Oklahoma when she was abducted on 20 December 1996, from the car park of her apartment complex.

Her body was found later near a lake on the outskirts of Oklahoma City.

She had been bound, raped and shot in the head.

Busken had performed as a ballerina in several dance performances during her time at the university and a scholarship was set up in her name at the College of Fine Arts.

Years later, Sanchez was in jail for burglary when DNA from the victim's clothing was matched to him.

He was convicted and sentenced to die in 2006.

None of Ms Busken's family attended Thursday's execution, but state attorney general Gentner Drummond said he had spoken to them several times in recent months.

He said: "Juli was murdered 26 years, nine months and one day ago. The family has found closure and peace."

Sanchez had long maintained his innocence.

In an interview earlier this year from death row. "That is fabricated DNA.

"That is false DNA. That is not my DNA. I've been saying that since day one."

He said he had declined to seek clemency because even when the five-member pardon and parole board takes the rare step of recommending it, governor Kevin Stitt was unlikely to grant it.

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, September 25, 2023

West Virginia man who threatened jurors in synagogue massacre trial enters guilty plea

A West Virginia man pleaded guilty to obstructing the federal hate crime trial of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter after sending threatening messages to jurors and witnesses in the case, reported The Hill. 

Hardy Lloyd, 45, admitted to relaying hostile social media posts, comments and emails throughout the trial of Robert Bowers, who in 2018 killed 11 congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Bowers was convicted on 63 counts; a jury recommended a death sentence in August. 

A self-identified “reverend” of a white supremacy, Lloyd previously described Bowers as a “lone wolf hero” and criticized jurors who convicted him as “guilty of anti-White racism,” according to the Justice Department.

“Free Robert Bowers Now!! … We need to support anyone who kills jews,” he posted on one Russian social media site, according to prosecutors. 

Lloyd’s white supremacist organization’s website also contained an “enemies page,” which lists those individuals’ home addresses, workplaces, family photos and contact information. He threatened to post online the jurors’ information — which was sealed during the trial — to “keep the trial honest,” according to court filings.

“Y’all who are on the jury, make sure to vote what you know in your heart is morally correct,” he wrote online with two winking-face emoticon. “Free Richard Bowers, city of Pittsburgh or else there will be ‘legal’ consiquences (sic)!”

As part of his plea agreement, Lloyd stipulated that he intentionally picked jurors and government witnesses as targets “due to the actual or perceived Jewish religion of the witnesses and the Bowers victims,” the Justice Department said in a statement. 

“Hardy Lloyd attempted to obstruct the federal hate crimes trial of the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “His guilty plea underscores that anyone who attempts to obstruct a federal trial by threatening or intimidating jurors or witnesses will be met with the full force of the Justice Department.” 

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency “will not tolerate the intimidation of citizens participating in our criminal justice system.” 

If a judge accepts Lloyd’s plea deal, he will spend 78 months — about six-and-a-half years — in prison, according to the Justice Department. 

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Oregon judge to decide if gun referendum violates state constitution

An Oregon judge is set to decide whether a gun control law approved by voters in November violates the state’s constitution, reported The Associated Press.

The law, one of the toughest in the nation, was among the first gun restrictions to be passed after a major U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year changed the guidance judges are expected to follow when considering Second Amendment cases.

Measure 114 has been tied up in federal and state court, casting confusion over its fate ever since voters narrowly passed it in November 2022.

The law requires people to undergo a criminal background check and complete a gun safety training course to obtain a permit to buy a gun. It also bans high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

Circuit Court Judge Robert S. Raschio is presiding over the trial in Harney County, in rural southeast Oregon. Raschio temporarily blocked the law from taking effect in December after gun owners filed a lawsuit arguing it infringed upon the right to bear arms under the Oregon Constitution.

In opening statements, an attorney representing the gun owners who filed the suit reiterated that claim Monday.

“This case is not about public health, public safety or public concern,” said Tony Aiello, Jr. “This is about the individual right to self defense and the right to bear arms.”

The defense said said the law doesn’t “unduly frustrate” individual rights and represents a “reasonable legislative response to public safety concerns” such as mass shootings.

“When they passed Measure 114, Oregon voters made a legislative judgment about the serious and immediate threat that large capacity magazines pose to public safety, and that judgment is entitled to this court’s deference,” said Anit Jindal, one of the lawyers representing Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Oregon State Police Superintendent Casey Codding.

Kotek, Rosenblum and Codding are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Among other things, the two sides disagree over whether large-capacity magazines are used for self-defense and whether they’re protected under the Oregon Constitution.

The plaintiffs argued that firearms capable of firing multiple rounds were present in Oregon in the 1850s and known to those who ratified the state constitution, which took effect in 1859. This, they said, pointed to “a long line of firearm evolution that was always geared toward multi-shot and repeating fire.”

The defense, meanwhile, said modern semiautomatic firearms are “technologically distinct from the revolvers and multi-barrel pistols that were available in the 1850s.” They argued that contemporary large-capacity magazines make mass shootings more deadly because they allow shooters to quickly fire more rounds without reloading.

The plaintiffs also expressed concern that Oregonians may face long wait times to obtain the permit they need to buy a gun. The defense said the process wouldn’t take longer than 30 days.

The Oregon measure was passed after a Supreme Court ruling in June 2022 created new standards for judges weighing gun laws. That decision fueled a national upheaval in the legal landscape for U.S. firearm law.

The ruling tossed aside a balancing test that judges had long used to decide whether to uphold gun laws. It directed them to only consider whether a law is consistent with the country’s “historical tradition of firearm regulation,” rather than take into account public interests such as promoting public safety.

Since then, there has been confusion about what laws can survive. Courts have overturned laws designed to keep weapons away from domestic abusers, felony defendants and marijuana users. The Supreme Court is expected to decide this fall whether some decisions have gone too far.

In a separate federal case over the Oregon measure, a judge in July ruled it was lawful under the U.S. Constitution. U.S. District Judge Karin J. Immergut appeared to take into account the Supreme Court’s new directive to consider the history of gun regulations.

Immergut found large-capacity magazines “are not commonly used for self-defense, and are therefore not protected by the Second Amendment.” Even if they were protected, she wrote, the law’s restrictions are consistent with the country’s “history and tradition of regulating uniquely dangerous features of weapons and firearms to protect public safety.”

She also found the permit-to-purchase provision to be constitutional, noting the Second Amendment “allows governments to ensure that only law-abiding, responsible citizens keep and bear arms.”

The plaintiffs in that federal case, which include the Oregon Firearms Federation, have appealed the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ten states have permit-to-purchase laws similar to the new Oregon measure: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, according to data compiled by the Giffords Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Eleven states and Washington, D.C., limit large-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, Illinois and Vermont, according to the Giffords center. The bans in Illinois and Vermont apply to long guns.

To read more CLICK HERE


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Mangino discusses capture of Cavalcante on Scripps News

Watch my interview on Scripps News discussing with host Julie Martin the capture of Danelo Cavalcante the Pennsylvania jail escapee.


Monday, September 18, 2023

Lamenting a new method of execution

Professor Bernard E. Harcourt writes in The New York Times:

After botching a series of executions by lethal injection, the State of Alabama is planning to use nitrogen gas to put condemned prisoners to death. The first execution will amount to a human experiment, because neither Alabama nor any other state has ever tried to kill people this way.

Late last month, prison guards distributed the state’s new execution protocol to prisoners in solitary confinement on Alabama’s death row. One hundred and sixty men and five women await execution in Alabama. They would be secured to a gurney, their nose and mouth would be covered by a mask, and nitrogen would be pumped into their lungs until they suffocate.

Alabama is seeking to conduct the first such experiment on Kenneth Eugene Smith, who already survived a botched execution. Last November, Mr. Smith spent hours strapped to a lethal-injection gurney as the execution team needled around in several locations to insert two intravenous lines without success, before calling off the execution. It is hard to imagine a more ghastly ordeal than being marched back a second time to face the executioner and a new method of execution that has the possibility of unknown agony after decades in prison awaiting death.

Mr. Smith was convicted of the 1988 murder of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett, with the jury concluding that Ms. Sennett’s husband, a pastor, had paid Mr. Smith to kill her. Jurors voted 11 to 1 to sentence him to life in prison with no opportunity for parole. But a judge overruled the jury and ordered that Mr. Smith be executed. Alabama prohibited judges from overriding juries in future capital cases in 2017; it is no longer allowed anywhere in the United States.

What happens next to Mr. Smith will be up to the courts.

Death by nitrogen hypoxia — by breathing high concentrations of nitrogen, starving a person of oxygen until death — occurs from time to time accidentally. Federal workplace regulations address the risks of nitrogen toxicity on the job. Pilots undergo training involving the loss of oxygen at high altitudes to familiarize themselves with anticipatory sensations. But there are no known uses of nitrogen hypoxia as a method of execution that I am aware of, based on my research, so we have no firsthand experience to assess the likelihood of agony and suffering under the typically dire conditions of execution chambers.

Executions are conducted not in pristine hospital settings but in a pressure cooker of last-minute, exhausted, careless judgments in a prison chamber. The typical executioner is not a medical doctor but someone who is moonlighting. There are colossal psychological and emotional pressures on prison staff members during executions, which are most often conducted in the middle of the night and result in poor conditions for everyone involved, including the lawyers.

Proponents of the nitrogen hypoxia method, also approved by Mississippi and Oklahoma but not yet used in those states, argue that nitrogen gas will quickly render the subject unconscious, with death ensuing within minutes. But there are a lot of things that could go wrong. Should the mask not fit properly and oxygen seep in, the person may be left gasping in agony for air and suffer suffocation. This could result in severe brain damage rather than death. If the outflow is not properly regulated, the person will be asphyxiated by carbon dioxide. There may also be a danger of nitrogen toxicity to the people in the prison workplace or present for the executions.

We do not even reserve this fate for dogs or cats. Nitrogen gas asphyxiation was previously used to euthanize pets. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association no longer recommends nitrogen asphyxiation for nonavian animals, citing data that indicates those animals may experience panic, pain and severe physical distress before dying. The group states in its 2020 guidelines that nitrogen gas “is unacceptable” for animals other than chickens and turkeys.

What past executions amply demonstrate is that the State of Alabama is not competent at performing the task. It is one thing to “botch” an execution, which is commonly understood to mean that an execution caused unnecessary agony or showed gross incompetence by the execution team. Alabama has botched four of the nation’s nine known botched executions since 2018. It is another thing for a state to preside over both a botched and failed execution, in which the condemned person actually survives. Three of the six known failed executions since 1946, according to my research, have taken place in Alabama, and all of those have occurred since 2018.

In February of that year, Alabama executioners spent nearly three hours jabbing my client Doyle Lee Hamm’s groin, ankles and shin bone before they released him from the gurney and he stumbled off in excruciating pain. At the time, he was suffering from terminal cancer and his veins were compromised. Needling his groin during several failed attempts to reach the femoral vein, they apparently hit his bladder. A large amount of blood soaked the gurney near his groin. He survived but ended up dying of cancer in prison.

The Alabama execution team then effectively tortured Alan Eugene Miller in September 2022. The state later agreed not to use lethal injection to execute him and he, too, now awaits death by nitrogen hypoxia. And evidence suggests an execution in July 2022 was also botched, though the prisoner, Joe Nathan James, died on the gurney.

After each of these horrors, state officials managed to convince the next judge that the next time they would know what they were doing. Then there was the botched and failed attempt to execute Mr. Smith two months later.

After that last disaster, Alabama’s governor, Kaye Ivey, imposed a moratorium on executions to investigate these repeated failures. But instead of appointing an independent review commission, as other governors have done, Governor Ivey assigned the task to the state’s Department of Corrections, the very agency responsible for the botched and failed executions. Corrections officials swiftly concluded that they were fully prepared to restart executions, now using nitrogen gas to kill condemned prisoners.

Alabama seems unable to stop tinkering, ever more ghoulish, with the “machinery of death,” as Justice Harry Blackmun called capital punishment.

Lawyers for Mr. Smith are likely to object to this human experiment on the basis that it violates the Eighth Amendment’s proscription against “cruel and unusual punishments.” It is true that Mr. Smith’s lawyers appealed to the court for this method of execution. But that was only because of the twisted logic of the U.S. Supreme Court’s death penalty jurisprudence, under which condemned prisoners must plead for their preferred alternative method of putting someone to death — and which Mr. Smith’s lawyers did after the nightmare of his failed lethal injection execution. He invoked nitrogen, the alternative available under Alabama statutes, a method the state enacted in March 2018 after the Hamm execution fiasco. But under the Supreme Court’s guidelines, the alternative must be not only “feasible” and “readily implemented,” but also one that “significantly reduces a substantial risk” of suffering.

Under the Eighth Amendment, execution by nitrogen is surely unusual because it has never been used as a method of execution in this country or elsewhere, as far as we know. It is also likely to cause needless agony and suffering in the execution chamber. Plus, the threat of a second attempt at execution under circumstances of human experimentation is unconscionably cruel.

The recent track record in the federal courts is not comforting, though. The conservative supermajority at the Supreme Court, especially, has recently been lifting stays of execution imposed by the lower federal courts at a frightening pace, in unsigned opinions, without explanation. Their inexplicable behavior in death penalty cases has given rise to an alarming shadow docket. Some of the justices have become, if anything, the nation’s executioners.

Of course, that does not mean we can throw up our hands. Moments like these present an opportunity for the justices to step up and lead the country to a higher plane — to what the court, in its Eighth Amendment rulings, has so often called “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” It is often at junctures like these that righteous magistrates come forward to resist inhumanity — like the Portuguese consul general in Bordeaux, France, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who defied expectations and issued visas for refugees fleeing the country in June 1940, saving thousands of lives.

Let us hope that the justices exercise their license to practice in the ways exemplified by Sousa Mendes. Let us hope they demonstrate cleareyed analysis and prevent this human experimentation. In the meantime, it will fall on the rest of us to show the world that this is not what we stand for.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Mangino discusses fake kidnaping with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories

Join me and Nancy Grace on Crime Stories as we discuss the case of Sherri Papini who faked here own kidnapping and torture.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Mangino discusses appeal of opioid verdict on WFMJ-TV

Watch my interview with Lindsay McCoy on WFMJ-TV discussing the Ohio Supreme Court's review of the opioid verdict in Lake and Trumbull Counties.

 To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Friday, September 15, 2023

Mangino discusses 2024 presidential campaign on WFMJ-TV21

Watch my interview with WFMJ-TV discussing the legal troubles looming over the 2024 presidential campaign.

To read more CLICK HERE and scroll over to 2024 Presidential Legal Problems.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

High profile escapes get Pennsylvania legislature moving on jail security

Rep. Kathy Rapp, who represents Warren and Forest counties, said the Warren escape is just one recent example of why jail safety and infrastructure need to be addressed, reported WESA-FM in Pittsburgh. Two inmates also escaped from the Philadelphia correctional facility in May. Danelo Cavalcante, who escaped from Chester County jail almost two weeks ago, was taken into custody early Wednesday.

“The bills are really to tighten up and look at what's going on in our jails that we need to take a good look at and make them safer so that our communities are safer," Rapp said, "especially when we see escapees breaking out of our county jails and striking fear into the hearts of our constituents.”

Rapp plans to introduce a bill that would remove the chance of parole for inmates that try to escape.

“Since they're escapees, we know they want to get out of jail, right? So if they know that they're not going to have a chance then with parole, hopefully that will disincentivize an escape,” Rapp said.

Other bills in this package would provide jail infrastructure funding, allow county jails to hire off-duty corrections officers from other counties and state corrections officers, create an alert system for prison escapes, and require a security audit of county jails that experienced an escape.

To read more CLICK HERE


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

New Mexico governor uses public health order to stop the carrying of firearms

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) used a public health order to ban firearms in Albuquerque, a move that has garnered widespread criticism from Democrats and Republicans amid concerns that it could violate the Second Amendment, reported The Hill.

What does the order do?

Grisham’s declaration bans the carrying of firearms — both open and concealed carry — in parts of the state that meet a specific threshold of violent crime. Only the city of Albuquerque meets that threshold.

It applies to all public places, including government buildings and in open spaces. It will expire after 30 days unless Grisham opts to extend it.

Police and security personnel are exempt from the firearms ban.

Grisham cited a recent spate of shootings in the city, including one that killed an 11-year-old boy outside a minor league baseball game and a series of shootings targeting Muslim men last month.

“As I said yesterday, the time for standard measures has passed,” she said in a statement. “When New Mexicans are afraid to be in crowds, to take their kids to school, to leave a baseball game — when their very right to exist is threatened by the prospect of violence at every turn — something is very wrong.”

Will it be enforced?

Local police have come out against the measure. Both the Albuquerque Police Department and the local county sheriff have vowed not to enforce it.

Sheriff John Allen, a Democrat, said he did not feel comfortable enforcing a measure that could violate the Second Amendment.

“While I understand and appreciate the urgency, the temporary ban challenges the foundation of our constitution, which I swore an oath to uphold,” Allen said in a statement Friday.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Mangino joins Nancy Grace on Crime Stories

Join me and Nancy Grace on Crime Stories to discuss the Pennsylvania prison escapee Danelo Cavalcante.

To listen to the interview CLICK HERE

Pennsylvania prison escapee not new to life as a fugitive

Danilo  Cavalcante is now the subject of an escalating manhunt in the Pennsylvania countryside, where hundreds of police officers have been scouring the wooded terrain and farmland for almost two weeks, since he clambered out of the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31.

He was being held there for the murder of his former girlfriend, Déborah Evangelista Brandão, in April 2021. After killing her, Mr. Cavalcante had tried to flee, making it as far as Virginia before he was caught and sent to jail, reported The New York Times. 

He was convicted and sentenced this August, and just days before beginning a life sentence in a Pennsylvania state prison, he made his next attempt to get away.

After more than a week of hiding out in the quiet communities south of the jail, he slipped through a perimeter set by law enforcement and stole a delivery van over the weekend. On Saturday night Mr. Cavalcante was seen on a doorbell camera miles away. Police are now searching an area deeper in the Pennsylvania countryside, where he abandoned the van, apparently after it ran out of gas.

On Monday, officials told reporters that Mr. Cavalcante’s recent movements had changed the nature of the search. They urged people in the area to be vigilant and warned of consequences for anyone who helped him. They said that Mr. Cavalcante’s sister, who lived nearby, “chose not to assist” the authorities in the manhunt, and as she had overstayed her visa, is in the process of being deported.

But the thrust of the officials’ remarks was unmistakable: this search would likely take a while. “Now we’re planning for the long game,” said Robert Clark, a supervisory deputy United States marshal.

Neither of his attempted escapes in the U.S. was the first time he had been on the run and proven maddeningly difficult to apprehend.

He vanished from the remote stretch of northern Brazil, too, after Mr. Moreira was shot and killed in 2017, allegedly over an unsettled debt. State prosecutors said an arrest warrant against him was issued on Nov. 21, 2017.

The first time Mr. Cavalcante escaped justice, he found refuge in the rural outskirts of Figueirópolis, a town of about 5,000 people tucked deep in the Brazilian state of Tocantins. After fleeing the crime scene, he hid out on a ranch less than an hour outside town, according to local residents.

“Once you get out,” said Kelton Meneses, a priest in Figueirópolis, “it’s just ranches and bush beyond here. It’s not hard to disappear.”

Mr. Cavalcante was at ease in the Brazilian outback, said Raimundo Campos dos Santos, a longtime resident of the area. “When you’re used to the ranch, you know how to hide. He spent a lot of time in the bush.”

Mr. Cavalcante had moved to this region just over a year before the murder, arriving with his mother and brother from the neighboring state of Maranhão, according to four residents.

He worked on a nearby ranch called Mula Preta, managing livestock and machinery. His family bought a plot of land in a rural community next door, where they raised cattle and horses.

“They were hardworking people,” said Mr. Campos, who lives in the same community, which stretches across 12,000 acres. “A humble lot.”

The family’s farm sits on a remote corner of the rural settlement, reachable by a steep, rocky road. On a recent visit, barbed wire circled a modest farmhouse with a red-tiled roof. On the porch, saddles hung from hooks and a hammock swung in the shade. About a half dozen chickens and four pit bulls roamed around the dusty front yard. Vultures flew overhead.

Aroaldo Cavalcante, the fugitive’s brother, still lives on the ranch, according to neighbors. On Sunday afternoon he did not emerge from the farmhouse, and did not respond to text messages requesting an interview.

 “Nobody really knew these people well,” said Darci Gomes Neve, 75, a neighbor who has lived in the area for two decades. “Danilo didn’t stay long. He took off; nobody heard from him again.”

But when he arrived in the area, he struck up a fast, unlikely friendship with Mr. Moreira, a popular figure in town.

“He was sweet,” said Mr. Feitosa of Mr. Moreira. “He talked to everyone. He liked to dance and to joke around.” Mr. Cavalcante was quieter. “He kept to himself, didn’t talk much,” Mr. Feitosa said. “He didn’t look you in the eye.”

Even before Mr. Moreira’s death, Mr. Cavalcante was feared by some around town.

“He had this reputation that he kept a lot of guns at home,” said Carlos Humberto Jacob, a friend of Mr. Moreira’s who knew Mr. Cavalcante. “People used to say he had heavy weapons at the ranch.”

The friendship between the two men apparently soured when Mr. Cavalcante lent a car to Mr. Moreira, who allegedly damaged the vehicle and never paid for repairs, according to police.

Mr. Cavalcante then began to send death threats to Mr. Moreira, said Mr. Moreira’s sister Dayane. “He kept saying, ‘I’m going to kill you, I’m going to kill you.’”

In November 2017, Mr. Cavalcante went to the square to confront Mr. Moreira, who had moved to a different city but had returned home to pick up a new driver’s license.

After the fatal encounter, Mr. Cavalcante allegedly hid out in the region for several weeks before leaving Brazil under a false identity. He has been considered a fugitive in Brazil since 2017, according to authorities in Tocantins.

As the manhunt in Pennsylvania intensifies, residents of the Brazilian town from which he vanished six years ago are also reeling, said Maria Cardoso, a retired schoolteacher who taught Mr. Moreira and is close to his family.

“It’s like a wound that was healing,” Ms. Cardoso said. “Now, it’s all coming back. People are shaken. People are scared.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, September 11, 2023

Jan. 6 defendants being treated more leniently than similar defendants

The vast majority of Jan. 6 defendants have been released on bail while awaiting trial, however, and their pretrial detention rate is significantly lower than the rate for the total population of federal defendants, reported The New York Times.

The suggestions by Gov. DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy that Jan. 6 rioters and conspirators were being punished more harshly than people who participated in Black Lives Matter protests align with Republicans’ broader grievances that the federal justice system has been “weaponized” against conservatives.

But most of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, when the movement reached a peak, were peaceful. An Associated Press investigation in 2021 found that, in the cases where they did turn violent, more than 120 defendants had either pleaded guilty or been convicted on federal charges such as rioting, arson and conspiracy.

Those who had been sentenced at the time of the A.P. investigation had received prison terms of a little over two years on average. But of the more than 1,100 cases related to Jan. 6, according to an NPR database, the median sentence for those who received prison time has been 120 days.

In the cases of Mr. Tarrio and other Proud Boys leaders, the more serious charges of seditious conspiracy — and the harsher sentences — stemmed from their attempts to overturn a democratic election or prevent the government from carrying out essential business. Federal law defines seditious conspiracy as two or more people plotting to overthrow the federal government by force, to wage war against it, to seize federal property or to, by force, “prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States.”

 “The Portland rioters’ conduct, while obviously serious, did not target a proceeding prescribed by the Constitution and established to ensure a peaceful transition of power,” Carl J. Nichols, a district court judge in Washington who was appointed by Mr. Trump, wrote in denying a motion from a Jan. 6 defendant who had claimed to be a victim of “selective prosecution.” “Nor did the Portland rioters, unlike those who assailed America’s Capitol in 2021, make it past the buildings’ outer defenses.”

The defendant, Judge Nichols wrote, “has failed to point to any Portland case that is similar to this one and in which the government made a substantially different prosecutorial decision.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Secret service agent questions infamous 'magic bullet' from Kennedy assassination

 He still remembers the first gunshot. For an instant, standing on the running board of the motorcade car, he entertained the vain hope that maybe it was just a firecracker or a blown tire. But he knew guns and he knew better. Then came another shot. And another. And the president slumped down.

For so many nights afterward, he relived that grisly moment in his dreams. Now, 60 years later, Paul Landis, one of the Secret Service agents just feet away from President John F. Kennedy on that fateful day in Dallas, is telling his story in full for the first time. And in at least one key respect, his account differs from the official version in a way that may change the understanding of what happened in Dealey Plaza.

Mr. Landis has spent most of the intervening years fleeing history, trying to forget that unforgettable moment etched in the consciousness of a grieving nation. The memory of the explosion of violence and the desperate race to the hospital and the devastating flight home and the wrenching funeral with John Jr. saluting his fallen father — it was all too much, too torturous, so much so that Mr. Landis left the service and Washington behind, reported The New York Times.

Until finally, after the nightmares had passed at last, he could think about it again. And he could read about it. And he realized that what he read was not quite right, not as he remembered it. As it turns out, if his recollections are correct, the much-discussed “magic bullet” may not have been so magic after all.

His memory challenges the theory advanced by the Warren Commission that has been the subject of so much speculation and debate over the years — that one of the bullets fired at the president’s limousine hit not only Kennedy but Gov. John B. Connally Jr. of Texas, who was riding with him, in multiple places.

Mr. Landis’s account, included in a forthcoming memoir, would rewrite the narrative of one of modern American history’s most earth-shattering days in an important way. It may not mean any more than that. But it could also encourage those who have long suspected that there was more than one gunman in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, adding new grist to one of the nation’s enduring mysteries.

As with all things related to the assassination, of course, his account raises questions of its own. Mr. Landis remained silent for 60 years, which has fueled doubts even for his former Secret Service partner, and memories are tricky even for those sincerely certain of their recollections. A couple elements of his account contradict the official statements he filed with authorities immediately after the shooting, and some of the implications of his version cannot be easily reconciled to the existing record.

But he was there, a firsthand witness, and it is rare for new testimony to emerge six decades after the fact. He has never subscribed to the conspiracy theories and stresses that he is not promoting one now. At age 88, he said, all he wants is to tell what he saw and what he did. He will leave it to everyone else to draw conclusions.

“There’s no goal at this point,” he said in an interview last month in Cleveland, the first time he has talked about this with a reporter in advance of his book, “The Final Witness,” which will be published by Chicago Review Press on Oct. 10. “I just think it had been long enough that I needed to tell my story.”

What it comes down to is a copper-jacketed 6.5-millimeter projectile. The Warren Commission decided that one of the bullets fired that day struck the president from behind, exited from the front of his throat and continued on to hit Mr. Connally, somehow managing to injure his back, chest, wrist and thigh. It seemed incredible that a single bullet could do all that, so skeptics called it the magic bullet theory.

Investigators came to that conclusion partly because the bullet was found on a stretcher believed to have held Mr. Connally at Parkland Memorial Hospital, so they assumed it had exited his body during efforts to save his life. But Mr. Landis, who was never interviewed by the Warren Commission, said that is not what happened.

In fact, he said, he was the one who found the bullet — and he found it not in the hospital near Mr. Connally but in the presidential limousine lodged in the back of the seat behind where Kennedy was sitting.

When he spotted the bullet after the motorcade arrived at the hospital, he said he grabbed it to thwart souvenir hunters. Then, for reasons that still seem fuzzy even to him, he said he entered the hospital and placed it next to Kennedy on the president’s stretcher, assuming it could somehow help doctors figure out what happened. At some point, he now guesses, the stretchers must have been pushed together and the bullet was shaken from one to another.

“There was nobody there to secure the scene, and that was a big, big bother to me,” Mr. Landis said. “All the agents that were there were focused on the president.” A crowd was gathering. “This was all going on so quickly. And I was just afraid that — it was a piece of evidence, that I realized right away. Very important. And I didn’t want it to disappear or get lost. So it was, ‘Paul, you’ve got to make a decision,’ and I grabbed it.’”

Mr. Landis theorizes that the bullet struck Kennedy in the back but for some reason was undercharged and did not penetrate deeply, therefore popping back out before the president’s body was removed from the limousine.

Mr. Landis has been reluctant to speculate on the larger implications. He always believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman.

But now? “At this point, I’m beginning to doubt myself,” he said. “Now I begin to wonder.” That is as far as he is willing to go.

A native of Ohio and son of a college sports coach, Mr. Landis does not come across as a swaggering security agent. He had to stretch to meet the 5-foot-8 height requirement when he joined the service, and could no longer do so. “I’m too little now,” he said, to make it in today’s agency. He is quiet and unassuming, dressed in a coat and tie for an interview, his gray hair neatly trimmed. He has a little trouble hearing and speaks softly, but his mind is clear and his recollections steady.

In recent years, he confided his story with several key figures, including Lewis C. Merletti, a former director of the Secret Service. James Robenalt, a Cleveland lawyer and author of several books of history, has deeply researched the assassination and helped Mr. Landis process his memories.

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Saturday, September 9, 2023

Recent Pa. Supreme Court Case Tackles Pre-Arrest and Post-Arrest Silence

Matthew T. Mangino
The Legal Intelligencer
September 7, 2023

The distinction between pre-arrest and post-arrest silence is crucial. Prejudice to defendants whose post-arrest silence is brought up is “innate.” The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the error did not affect the deliberations of the jury.

Most Americans can recite the Miranda warnings verbatim—not because of the power and substance of some high school civics class—but because of television crime dramas. The Miranda warnings are etched into our psyche, “You have the right to remain silent …” However, that iconic first line is not as clear as one might think.

This summer the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an important decision regarding the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The language of the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions are quite similar, but not identical. In Pennsylvania the Constitution provides, “The accused … cannot be compelled to give evidence against himself.” The Fifth Amendment provides, “No person … shall be compelled … to be a witness against himself.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided Commonwealth v. Rivera, 22 MAP 2022, on June 21. If you are a constitutional “geek” you’ll feel as though you stumbled upon a pot of gold. This opinion examines a defendant’s silence in the context of pre-arrest and post-arrest; harmless error; a lack of curative instruction; credibility and split verdicts.

Jonathan Rivera was accused of the rape of several children. He was accused by four females and went to trial. At trial the prosecutor asked a testifying police officer: “After you read him his Miranda warnings, he never told you that he didn’t do anything to any of these kids?” Over the objection of the defense counsel, the police officer was ordered to answer. The officer said “He [Rivera] did not deny.” All in all, the officer was asked four different ways if Rivera denied the allegations and each time the officer answered in the negative.

The jury returned a split verdict finding him not guilty on the most serious charges. On appeal, Rivera argued that the trial court erred by permitting the testimony regarding his post-arrest silence. Rivera suggested that the testimony of his silence “irreparably undermined his credibility in the eyes of the jury.”

The prosecution argued that the defense briefly inquired into the defendant’s pre-arrest silence and that opened the door to the prosecution’s questions. The prosecutor’s questions were a fair response to the defense counsel’s questioning. The Pennsylvania Superior Court disagreed and ruled the prosecution’s questions of silence were admitted in error.

However, that’s where the wheels came off at the Superior Court. The court found the “trial court’s error was harmless because the prejudice to Rivera, if any, was de minimis.” The problem with the Superior Court’s finding, according to the Supreme Court, was that the court relied on decisions relating to pre-arrest silence, instead—as in Rivera’s case—the issues of one of post-arrest/post-Miranda silence. In Rivera, the Supreme Court ruled, “Undeniably, the four questions the prosecutor asked here related to Rivera’s post-arrest, post-Miranda silence.”


The distinction between pre-arrest and post-arrest silence is crucial. Prejudice to defendants whose post-arrest silence is brought up is “innate.” The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the error did not affect the deliberations of the jury.

Why is the commonwealth’s reference to post-arrest silence innately prejudicial? Most people believe a person falsely accused of a crime would bitterly protest their innocence or without hesitation challenge any accusation against them.

The same is often thought when a suspect displays little emotion in the wake of the suspicious loss a spouse or child.

We know that neither is necessarily indicative of guilt. People dealing with a loss or confronted with arrest react in different ways. The shock of such a trauma could simply be dealt with by silence—neither should be easily accepted as an admission of guilt.

Although the Supreme Court acknowledged that the court has struggled to create a uniform rule to govern references to pre-arrest silence—the case before the court was not the case to address that issue. The court wrote, “We need not square the circle here.”

According to the Supreme Court, the court first took up the issue of post-arrest silence more than a half century ago. In Commonwealth v. Haideman, 296 A.2d 765 (Pa. 1972), the Supreme Court held, “Testimonial reference to an accused’s silence … at the time of arrest is … constitutionally impermissible.”

The court in Haideman pointed out that even Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), forbids the prosecution from “introducing at trial the fact that the accused ‘stood mute or claimed privilege.’”

The Supreme Court also explored Commonwealth v. Greco, 350 A.2d 826 (Pa. 1976), “I advised him … that he had the right to remain silent and he didn’t actually make any statement …”; Commonwealth v. Singletary, 387 A.2d 656 (Pa. 1978), “And on advice of counsel, you made no statement concerning the case?”; and Commonwealth v. Turner, 454 A.2d 537 (Pa. 1982), “Did you ever tell the police that somebody was shooting at you?”

None of these decisions relied on by the Supreme Court were cited by the Superior Court in their Rivera decision.

In each of the above decisions, the Supreme Court granted the defendant a new trial. The court noted, “This court has repeatedly signaled to the commonwealth that referencing a defendant’s post-arrest silence may imperil an entire case.” The court went further, “We have often deemed a single such reference—answered or not, curative instruction or not—offensive enough to the constitution and the principles it embodies as to call for a new trial.”

The last question addressed by the Supreme Court, now that it was clear that the testimony of Rivera’s post-arrest silence was admitted in error, was whether the error was harmless. The court looked to Commonwealth v. Hairston, 84 A.3d 657 (Pa. 2014). There are three prongs to the Hairston harmless error test. First, did the error prejudice the defendant or was the error de minimis?

The court quickly disposed of the first prong—the Superior Court had reviewed the case as pre-arrest silence when it was clearly post-arrest silence.

The second prong related to whether the error was merely cumulative. The commonwealth did not even argue that the testimony of the police officer regarding Rivera’s post-arrest silence was cumulative of other evidence presented in the case.

The third prong provides that the commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that “properly admitted and uncontracted evidence of guilt was so overwhelming and the prejudicial effect of the error was insignificant …”

The court found that due to the lack of physical evidence, credibility was central to this case “It is not improbable that the admission of this testimony might have contributed to the conviction.” The court also pointed out the absence of a clear curative instruction by the trial judge and the spit verdict by the jury all contributed to the finding that “the allowance of the constitutionally impermissible testimony here was not harmless.”

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

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Friday, September 8, 2023

Minnesota's ban on physical restraint of students has SROs seeing red

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is weighing whether to call a special session to address law enforcement concerns over a recently passed ban on putting students in chokeholds and other extreme forms of physical restraint, according to the Minnesota Reformer. 

Republican lawmakers are urging Walz to act, claiming that the provision effectively outlaws all forms of physical force by police officers in schools, despite an opinion from Attorney General Keith Ellison stating that “reasonable” force can still be used to prevent injury or death. Several police departments across the state have announced they will not place officers in schools until they get clarification on the new law.

Lurking beneath the debate over how much force cops should use on kids is an even more fundamental question: Do police officers (known as school resource officers, or SROs) in schools make students safer? 

A forthcoming paper by researchers at the State University of New York and the RAND Corporation explores this question using the best available data to date. They find evidence that the presence of an SRO leads to a reduction in some violent incidents at school. 

But that relatively modest reduction comes at a steep cost: a massive increase in suspensions, expulsions and referrals to the criminal justice system, actions that can be ruinous to students’ lives.

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Thursday, September 7, 2023

Suit in Colorado seeks to remove Trump from ballot pursuant to 14th Amendment

Six voters in Colorado filed a lawsuit seeking to remove former President Donald Trump from the state's election ballots because of his role in the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, reported NBC News.

Their suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Denver, contends that Trump should be disqualified from running in future elections under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which states that no person shall hold any office if they "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" after having taken an oath to support the Constitution.

The group called on the court to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot and declare that it would be "improper" and "a breach or neglect of duty" for Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, to allow his name to appear on any future primary or general election ballots.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and several law firms filed the lawsuit on behalf of the six voters — four Republicans and two unaffiliated.

The petitioners include former Rep. Claudine Schneider, a registered Republican who represented a congressional district in Rhode Island from 1981 to 1991, and endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008, Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020; Norma Anderson, who served as majority leader in the Colorado House and Senate; and Krista Kafer, a conservative columnist for the Denver Post, who said she would vote for Trump in 2020. Anderson left the Republican Party in 2021, but CREW confirmed to NBC News that she rejoined the GOP a year later.

Their 115-page lawsuit argues that Trump violated his oath of office by inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The group included findings on Trump's efforts to overturn the election results that were revealed by the House Jan. 6 committee, which dissolved in January after having concluded a lengthy investigation into the riot, as well as from special counsel Jack Smith's investigation that led to one of the four criminal indictments against the former president.

"President Trump was the mob’s leader, and the mob was his weapon. The mob traveled from throughout the country to Washington because the President summoned them there," the lawsuit argued. "He instructed the mob to march on the Capitol and they complied. Many in the mob left the Capitol grounds only when, after hours of violence against police officers and interference with Congress’s constitutionally-mandated duties, Trump belatedly told them to leave."

Reached for comment, Griswold didn't weigh in on whether Trump violated the Constitution or should be disqualified from the ballot. "I look forward to the Colorado Court’s substantive resolution of the issues, and am hopeful that this case will provide guidance to election officials on Trump’s eligibility as a candidate for office," she said in a statement.

Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung slammed the voters behind the lawsuit, saying in a statement that they're "people who are pursuing this absurd conspiracy theory and political attack on President Trump."

They "are stretching the law beyond recognition much like the political prosecutors in New York, Georgia, and DC," Cheung added. "There is no legal basis for this effort except in the minds of those who are pushing it."

CREW noted that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has "not been tested often in the last 150 years, due to lack of insurrections."

However, CREW also said that last year it represented New Mexico residents who sued to remove Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin from his elected position as Otero County commissioner, which was "the only successful case to be brought under Section 3 since 1869."

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