Testimony continued today in the Broward case against Richard Patterson, where a man claims the deceased accidentally choked to death on his member, including presentation of police surveillance of the Defendant. No ruling yet on how the penis will be shown to the jury…
Also, it appears the case is being presided by a 20th circuit judge, and I have not ascertained why…
When I heard about this murder case, I was confused because I also heard it was a choking case. Horrifically, I was not given bad information: it is a choking case, and Richard Patterson claims the woman choked on his member. Trial is underway, and Patterson’s attorney argued a motion to allow the jury to see his penis. Reportedly, the state does not object: what can they say if that is the defense he claims. Defendants have broad latitude to present and argue their defenses.
At issue is whether or not the penis will be erect… The state argues that it should be erect, for proper context. That actually kind of makes since, as the Defendant is arguing that she accidentally choked while giving him oral sex. It appears there will be no dispute that she was otherwise healthy and died of asphyxiation, but to prove second degree murder, the state will have to show that the defendant cased the death by an act that was “imminently dangerous” AND “demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life”. An accidental death during consensual sexual activity would not meet this standard, though the State is likely to argue that his story doesn’t make sense. The Defendant indicated in his motion that they intend to call the Broward Medical Examiner who will testify the death is “consistent” with accidental asphyxiation during oral sex. This could end up being the trial of the year…
The trial started yesterday, and a jury has been selected. The judge has not ruled whether the penis will need to be erect for the jury demonstration. The death occurred in Broward county in 2015, and Patterson is facing life in prison if convicted.
Posted in Criminal Law, Florida, Miami / South Florida, Whimsy
Tagged broward, choking, deathbypenis, margate, murder, only in florida, richard patterson, sexcrime, trial
Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a new memo indicating a policy change for Federal Prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense”. This overturns a policy memo issued by Eric Holder two years ago, which instructed prosecutors to avoid charging defendants with offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences on many drug offenses, in an effort to reduce non-violent drug offenders in our over-crowded prison system.
Prosecutors praised the decision as they enjoy having as much leverage as possible to prosecute offenders, and felt handcuffed by the Holder Memo. Critics feel this is a return to harsh mandatory sentences that do not serve their intended purpose. Under this policy, federal prosecutors would be seeking a 10-year mandatory sentence for a kilogram of heroin. In contrast, the State of Florida mandates a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for possession of more than 14 grams of heroin (about half an ounce). And yes, there are extended prison sanctions for marijuana offenders, as well.
Posted in Criminal Law, Drugs, Federal, Florida, Uncategorized
Tagged drugs, eric holder, florida laws, jeff sessions, mandatory minimum, new laws, sentencing
Last week a Gold Gate Estates man was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a September trial in North Carolina. The story didn’t get much coverage here, since the case was tried out of state (where the websites were being hosted), but he was running his dark-net website Playpen from his computer right here in Southwest Florida. The website may have been the largest child pornography distributor in the world, with up to 250,000 members.
The bust led to an international sting, dubbed “Operation Pacifier”, that netted almost 900 child pornography arrests around the world and some 250+ children victims were identified and/or rescued. That operation has led to a lot of coverage, both due to the success in taking down such a large number of child predators, but also for the criticism of the techniques used by the government. The FBI kept the Playpen site up and running and continuing to distribute child pornography as investigators sought to trace the sites users, going as far to infect them with malware that allowed them to be tracked. We have discussed the legal privacy concerns, and the concerns the federal government running child porn sites (a LOT of them), previously on this blog. The concerns are not unfounded, as there have already been cases where judges rejected using malware to search computers even when the location is unknown.
That didn’t save Chase, who has been locked away for 30 years, with a lifetime of supervision when he gets out. This will qualify him as a sex offender, and the additional sex-offender reporting that legally requires as well.
As the legislative session neared a close last week, the Florida House and Senate reached a compromise to a bill that substantially changes the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida. The new law would shift the burden from from the Defendant to the prosecutor at the pretrial hearing to prove that the case is strong enough to proceed against the Defendant. If Governor Scott signs the bill, the burden will no longer be on the Defendant at the ‘Stand Your Ground Hearing’.
Though both the House and Senate agreed that they wanted to put the burden on the prosecutor for the pretrial hearings, it wasn’t until the last day of session on Friday that both houses came to a compromise on what that burden should be. The Senate was pushing for a beyond a reasonable doubt standard, while the House position to use a clear and convincing standard ultimately won out. The bill will now go to Governor Scott’s desk to sign before it becomes law. It is expected he will sign it, as the bill garnered widespread Republican support in both houses of the legislature.
What does this change mean? The original ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, among other things, created a right of immunity from prosecution for people who use justifiable force to defend themselves. Unfortunately, the legislature did not clearly establish a procedure for determining when immunity was appropriate, that is, how do you know when force is justified so that a person cannot be prosecuted. Over the next 12 years, the courts formulated a procedure whereby a hearing would be held prior to the case going to trial. The courts put the burden on the Defendant to demonstrate that he was immune from prosecution.
The legislature has now essentially said, hey wait: the burden is on the state to prove a case. We didn’t establish immunity to burden the Defendant, or to remove the burden from the State… we created it to protect those who used force to defend themselves. This new law, if it is signed by the Governor, will put the burden on the prosecutors to demonstrate by clear and convincing the likelihood that the defendant was not justified in using force before they can put the defendant to trial (where they will still have the burden beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt).
While there was strong support for the bill, there was opposition from anti-gun activists, as well as from many prosecutors. The opposition from prosecutors may seem surprising from a generally conservative profession, but this bill directly affects them by making it more difficult to prosecute cases where use of force will be raised as a defense. It has been speculated that prosecution costs will rise, but the other effect of the bill may be to discourage prosecutors from proceeding on cases they are less likely to win. The cost may end up being a wash when all the factors come to bear, but only time will tell. In the meantime, this bill will definitely help people who claim justifiable use of force.