Monthly Archives: March 2014

Accused Craigslist Killer Claims String of Killings

Miranda Barbour

Miranda Barbour

Female serial killers are extremely rare. The most well known in this country was Aileen Wournos, a Florida killer whose crimes were dramatized in the Charlize Theron film “Monster”. She was convicted of seven murders. Now Miranda Barbour, a 19-year-old woman who is facing murder charges in Pennsylvania has given press interview claiming that she killed at least 22 people. She initially made the claim back in February, but recently gave another interview where she provided some details of four of the alleged killings, including one in Florida. She also claimed that there were two more men she had met on Craigslist that ended up not meeting with her.

Only the Pennsylvania case has been charged so far, though certainly investigators have started to look into her claims. If true, she may be the most prolific female serial killer, and one of the most prolific in history. She seems to have taken the mantle of “Craigslist Killer” from Philip Markoff. She and her husband are both facing charges for the Pennsylvania killing.

Dustin Jaye Found Guilty of Murder

Dustin Jaye

Dustin Jaye

After three hours of deliberation today, the jury found Jaye guilty of 1st degree Murder, Burglary, and animal cruelty. Sentencing is set for May 19, but a life sentence is mandatory on a 1st degree murder charge.

Jaye’s defense had argued that uncle Billy Retherford committed the killing, and that Jaye had nothing to do with it. However, witnesses at trial, including Jaye’s own sister, testified that he planned the burglary, and a cellmate from jail testified that he admitted to his role in the burglary, which makes him legally responsible for the murder.

UPDATE: Here’s the follow-up post on the cases, post Deadly Sins coverage: http://wp.me/p2xg12-MN

The Michael Dunn Trial Cost $99,000

Michael Dunn mug shot

Michael Dunn mug shot

The city of Jacksonville released financial numbers indicating the Dunn trial cost taxpayers $99,158.26. These numbers don’t include a lot of important costs, such as the expenses incurred by the State Attorney to prosecute the case. The majority of these costs were for law enforcement overtime, and the costs associated with jury sequestration. Unfortunately for city coffers, the hung jury on the most serious counts mean that a similar retrial is likely. This case cost substantially less to try than the Zimmerman case, and is being used as a model for upcoming cases, such as the Marissa Alexander case. That case will also be a second trial.

Wait, why doesn’t double jeopardy apply to these cases? Because they were not acquitted the first time around. Had they been found not guilty, they could not be tried again. In Dunn’s case, the hung jury on the murder charge essentially

Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander

makes the trial on that count a nullity, and it must be retried anew. The convictions on the other charges will stand. As Marissa Alexander was convicted the first time around, she could have let that verdict stand. But since she got the benefit of a new trial being ordered on appeal, she faces the prospect of a new trial. Normally, the sentence cannot be increased on a retrial, as it could be seen as vindictive. However, legal changes may force the judge to order any minimum mandatory sentences under 10/20/Life to be served consecutively. That legal change may force the court’s hand, which would suggest the increased sentence was not due to vindictiveness. Defendant’s are not eligible for gain-time or other early release on a 10/20/Life sentence, which means Ms. Alexander would serve every day of 60 years, less what credit she already had.

A Twist in the Marissa Alexander Case

I haven’t been able to cover the Marissa Alexander case much on this blog. For those unfamiliar, Ms. Alexander was convicted and sentenced to 20 years for Aggravated Assault for firing what she claimed was a warning shot in the vicinity of her estranged husband, as well as two of his children. It has drawn comparisons to the Zimmerman case, as self-defense was claimed. Factually, it differed because the testimony was that she went out to the garage to retrieve the gun, before returning and firing it. Her conviction was overturned on appeal for an error in the jury instruction.

Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander

A group of Jacksonville pastors are encouraging the State to reopen their original offer, which was for 3 years in prison. Ms. Alexander would not have to serve much more time, thanks to the credit for time she has already served. She had initially rejected the offer, choosing to go to trial on her justified use of force defense. This new push is interesting, as it differs from many outside pundits claiming that she should not have been charged at all. This middle ground suggests that she would be punished for resorting to gun play (which was not found to be justified by the jury at the first trial), but would allow for a much more reasonable punishment than the 20 years mandated by Florida’s 10-20-Life Law. Under recent legal developments, the court must impose each 20 year sentence consecutively, so if she is convicted again of three counts, the court will be obligated to sentence her to 60 years.

The Florida legislature is currently considering a “warning-shot” bill that would be an exception to 10-20-Life, but even if it passes, it may be too late for Alexander. Her trial is set for late July, and she is expected to again argue self-defense / justifiable use of force. The Florida Supreme Court may take up the issue to determine whether the legislature intended to mandate consecutive sentences.

This case is a better example of the unjust sentences that can occur with non-discretionary sentencing than it is an exemplar of Stand Your Ground. The judge found that Stand Your Ground did not apply due to the fact that she returned to the confrontation. Still, outside of prosecutor Angela Corey’s office, it would be hard to demonstrate that 60 years in prison, essentially a life sentence, would be just under the circumstances. Ms. Alexander was in an abusive relationship, had no prior criminal history, and nobody was physically harmed when she discharged the firearm. Ms. Corey’s office has chosen to proceed with the greatest level of charges, and if successful, will mandate 60 years, even if the judge does not want to do it, and regardless of any mitigating circumstances. For that reason, California has been reexamining its notorious three strikes law, in an attempt to prevent costly, unjust sentences.

Murder Trial Underway in Fort Myers

Dustin Jaye

Dustin Jaye

Yesterday a major murder trial got started with jury selection in the Lee County Courthouse. Dustin Jaye is on trial for his alleged role in the killing of Three Oaks resident Debbie Striano. His uncle, Billy Retherford, was also implicated in the killing.  It was a vicious killing, as Ms. Striano’s throat was deeply cut, and even the dog was slashed.

Retherford allegedly killed another person while on the lam,  and then died in a shootout with law enforcement when they tried to take him into custody. That presents a hurdle for prosecutors to prove Jaye’s role in the case, as the Defense has a readily available person to blame for the killing.

Billy Retherford

Billy Retherford

However, court documents reveal the State has witnesses that will tie Jaye to the planning of the robbery. If he is guilty of taking part of the robbery, under Florida’s principal theory, he is also guilty of murder for anyone who is killed during the robbery. Jury selection is expected to last a couple days, and there is at least one suppression issue the court must address regarding the admissibility of evidence.

TV’s Judge Joe Brown Jailed, Released

Joe Brown

Joe Brown

Former television-judge Joe Brown was held in contempt and sentenced to 5a few days in jail for an apparent outburst in a Tennessee courtroom. He has apparently returned/resumed private practice, but it sounds like he got a little carried away. It sounds like Brown is having some difficulty accliimating since the cancellation of his show, last year. Apparently it stemmed from a juvenile court appearance, and Brown has since been released.

Attempted Murder Over Barq’s Root Beer

 

Braden Robinson

Braden Robinson

Louisiana man Braden Robinson had filed a bizarre civil claim related to his claim of a stake in the Barq’s Root Beer Company. Not only was Robinson unsuccessful in his multi-million dollar claim, he was ordered to pay $100,00 to the prevailing party. Apparently upset at the decision, Robinson took a man hostage in New Orleans and told the cops to shoot him, until a negotiator talked him down. He was first charged with terroristic threats, then aggravated assault for the incident.

Well, it turns out, that may not have been all he did that day. The victor in court was run down by a pickup truck outside the courthouse. The police initially thought it was just a hit and run, until the victim told them about his history with Robinson. Detectives were able to pull jail calls of Robinson speaking to his wife in code, and later a mechanic reported that Robinson had gotten repairs to his truck similar to the damage from the hit and run case. Robinson has now been charged with attempted murder for the hit and run.

If he could be reached for comment, I’m sure Robinson would say the situation really bites

via NOLA.com: http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/03/nopd_after_losing_legal_battle.html