Monthly Archives: September 2018

Bill Cosby Sentenced to 3-to-10 Years in Prison

bill cosby sentenced

Cosby sentencing hearing

Bill Cosby, who was convicted of three counts of indecent sexual assault during a second trial earlier this year, has been sentenced to up to 10 years in a Pennsylvania prison. The three counts were merged for sentencing under Pennsylvania law, and the judge sentenced him in accordance with the guidelines, which called for at least 22-36 months. The judge denied the defense request for house arrest, and denied Cosby a bond. Cosby was led from the courtroom in handcuffs and processed into custody.

bill cosby

Bill Cosby

Cosby, known as America’s dad for his reign as the patriarch of the fictional Cosby he portrayed on a top-rated sitcom in the 1980’s, will surely appeal. There are a couple of substantial issues to be hashed out on  appeal. First is the trial judge’s decision to allow the statements Cosby made in the civil case to be presented in the criminal trial. Cosby claimed he had only agreed to testify in the civil case pursuant to an agreement that the state would not prosecute, essentially that he was immune from prosecution. Cosby’s wife has recently indicated she wants to address a possible dispute the judge had with the former prosecutor that allegedly made the immunity agreement with Cosby. Also, among other things, Cosby will challenge the court’s decision to allow five other alleged victims to testify in this case. During his first trial, only one other accuser testified, and the trial ended with a mistrial due to a hung jury. While the decision to allow similar fact evidence before the jury is generally left to the discretion of the trial judge, his change of heart to allow four more accusers will certainly be scrutinized. It appears Cosby will have to remain behind bars unless he scores on his appeal.

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Wrongful Murder Conviction Vacated, thanks to Golf Digest

Valentino Dixon was serving a 39-years-to-life sentence for a 1991 murder he did not commit, in Buffalo, N.Y. It wasn’t until Golf Digest did a profile of him, that his case caught the interest of some people to address the mistakes that led to him being convicted of a crime he did not commit… including an admission from the man who actually shot the victim. The prosecutor even charged two men who corroborated the accusation of the actual story with perjury. The perjury charges prevented those men from testify to the truth in Dixon’s trial. The actual shooter says he was pressured to change his story. While Dixon was facing charges, the other man was out of custody, and has since been incarcerated in the same prison for shooting a different person in the face.

The case came to light when Dixon was profiled in Golf Digest about the golf course drawings he did in prison, as part of a regular column they did called “Golf Saved My Life.” Max Adler, the columnist, was so interested in Dixon’s story, he initiated the investigation that eventually led to Dixon’s acquittal, which still took another six years. Dixon walked out of prison this week a free man. I’d like to take him out for a golf lesson.

It’s a really cool story, and a stark reminder of the importance of journalism in our country. It’s sad it took 27 years, in spite of the witnesses for Dixon. Golf Channel and NBC also picked up the story and provided important momentum to right this wrong:

 

Murder Mystery Writer Accused of Murdering her Husband

nancy brophy

Nancy Crampton Brody

Portland author Nancy Crampton-Brody, who wrote several novels as Nancy Brophy, has been arrested and charged with the June murder of her husband of 27 years, Daniel Brophy. Daniel had been lead chef instructor at the Oregon Culinary Institute [OCI] since 2006, and had been teaching culinary skills long before that. He was shot at an OCI kitchen, where his students found him, dying. There were initially no suspects and no description of any suspects.

Police soon began to suspect Brophy, who admitted to her neighbor that she was considered a suspect. Perhaps it did not help that she had penned books like “The Wrong Husband”, and in 2011 wrote an online essay titled “How to Murder Your Husband” with suggestions of how to get away with it (WP located the archive, as the post is no longer public.) The arrest report has been sealed, so there are not many details in why the police have charged her, or what her motive may have been. The sealed report suggests the investigation is still open, perhaps there is an accomplice or yet-unnamed collaborator. If so, Brophy would have been ignoring her own advice in her essay, where she discouraged using hitmen. Whether or not she did it is yet to be decided, but having penned an essay about murdering her husband is not a good look.

Zoekeeper named “Joe Exotic” Indicted for Murder-for-Hire Plot against ‘Rival’ Zookeeper in Florida

 

joe exotic

Joe Exotic

An Oklahoma zookeeper, who ran a big-cat shelter and billed himself as “Joe Exotic“, has been indicted and arrested for attempted murder-for-hire for attempting to hire multiple hitmen to kill the CEO of a an animal sanctuary in Florida. Joe “Exotic” Maldanado-Passage, 55, who ran a tiger petting zoo in Oklahoma, had a years-long feud with Carole Baskin, the CEO of Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue, regarding the efforts of animal sanctuaries to effectively boycott Exotic’s travelling zoo for what it claimed were harsh treatment of young tigers. Exotic had retaliated, which led to Baskin suing him, and being awarded judgment against him in excess of $1 million dollars. Exotic has allegedly offered to pay two different people to murder Baskin, but authorities were able to foil his efforts. He has previously made threats to Baskin, and even broadcast them himself on Youtube. The case is in the Federal system, presumably due to the interstate issues of his scheme.

Exotic has garnered some notoriety for his ill-fated campaigns for President and Governor of Oklahoma. Take a few minutes to watch, it’s indescribable…

Punta Gorda Lawyer Suspended due to Incarceration

steven burch

Steven Burch

Attorney Steven Burch, who had about 44 cases pending, primarily in Charlotte County, has been suspended indefinitely by the Florida Bar. Burch was indicted on federal drug trafficking charges in 2016, but continued to practice until recently. He was incarcerated after new charges were added, and his bond was revoked for violation of pretrial release conditions. Burch had arranged for a client to send the drugs, allegedly to then try to cooperate with law enforcement to get out of his own DUI charge. He had his client arrange to ship heroin, which he then disclosed to law enforcement. Unbeknownst to him, his client’s wife recorded the arrangement, and Burch ended up going down. He entered a plea to conspiracy to distribute, and faces up to 20 years in prison on that charge.

I’m going to tag this “reverse entrapment”, as it wasn’t law enforcement that set a guy up… it was his own attorney. And this will almost certainly, hopefully, be the only time I use that tag! Though, it is kind of similar to the Easter case from California

Supreme Court Oral Arguments on Two Ballot Issues start this afternoon at 2:00 PM

Florida Supreme CourtProposed Amendment 6 and proposed Amendment 8 were both found to be misleading, and circuit courts in Leon county enjoined the state from including either on the ballot. This afternoon, starting at 2:00 pm with Amendment 8, followed by arguments on Amendment 6 at about 2:40, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on both issues. You can watch live on their video feed at gavel-to-gavel.

Woman Accused of Killing her Husband with Eye Drops

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Lana Clayton

This is the first case I’ve ever seen of murder with Visine. When Steven Clayton was found dead in his home in July, it had appeared that he had suffered a fall. The funeral was held in the backyard of the South Carolina home he shared with his wife, itself a re-creation of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. It wasn’t until an autopsy was completed with toxicology that determined the cause of death was a high amount of tetrahydrozoline in his system, a chemical commonly found in over-the-counter eye drops. His wife Lana Clayton, 52, later admitted to authorities that she had spiked her husband’s water with eye drops over a three-day period prior to his death. No motive has been revealed, but it appears she had posted about his infidelity a few years back on social media. It appears she was in nursing for the VA, so she likely would have known the toxic properties of the eye drop chemical.