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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Many Questions Despite Arrest in Murder of TV Anchorwoman

Right: Anne Pressly

Thursday, November 27, 2008

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Police for weeks had neither a suspect nor a motive in the beating death of a popular television anchorwoman.
A suspect is now in custody, but many questions remain unanswered.

Officers arrested Curtis Lavelle Vance, 28, at a home in Little Rock on Wednesday night — tipped to his location after police held a late-evening news conference to reveal him as their suspect, said Lt. Terry Hastings, a police spokesman.

Left: Curtis Lavelle Vance
Vance was charged with capital murder in the death of Anne Pressly. The 26-year-old anchorwoman, who had a small part in the President George W. Bush biopic "W," died Oct. 25 — five days after being severely beaten in what police described as a random attack at her home.

Investigators interviewed Vance late Wednesday and early Thursday morning, Hastings said.

Vance lived in Marianna, in eastern Arkansas, but had numerous contacts in central Arkansas, Police Chief Stuart Thomas said. He named Vance as the suspect earlier Wednesday night and said Vance was traveling with a woman, three kids, a pistol and "lots of extra ammunition."

Within an hour of the news conference's end, officers were at a home south of downtown. Vance apparently was not armed when arrested, Hastings said early Thursday.

Police did not disclose what led them to suspect Vance. Thomas said only that the capital murder charge was based on "a very, very solid case due to solid detective work."

Hastings said previously that DNA and other evidence from the scene gave police a portrait of the person they were looking for, though they did not have a name until this month.

Hastings said Thursday that police would not disclose how they obtained DNA to match to a possible suspect, adding "We're going to be very tightlipped on this case, pretrial."

One of Pressly's credit cards was used at a gas station after the beating, but Hastings said security camera footage didn't provide a good look at the person using it.

Pressly lived alone in the city's Pulaski Heights section, a mix of mansions and bungalows near a country club. Her mother, visiting from out of town at the time of the attack but not staying at her daughter's home, found Pressly on Oct. 20, a half-hour before the anchorwoman was due on KATV's "Daybreak" program. The mother checked on her daughter after she didn't answer her daily wake-up call.

The anchorwoman had been beaten severely on the head and upper torso. She never regained consciousness.

Pressly was a native of Greenville, S.C., and moved with her family to Little Rock while she was in high school. She was a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., which has discussed establishing a scholarship to honor her.

In the Oliver Stone movie "W" — the subject of a news story she covered as the film was being shot in Shreveport, La. — Pressly appeared briefly as a conservative commentator who speaks favorably of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" event on an aircraft carrier after the start of the Iraq war.

Hastings said he did not know if Vance had an attorney. He said a public defender would likely be appointed to the case.

Vance was being held Thursday at the Pulaski County Jail, awaiting a Friday morning arraignment.

Ann Coulter's jaw wired shut! We're sooo sad....

Right: Ann Coulter on Larry King Live. Are we sure she didn't just have an adam's applectomy?

It is reported that right-wing agitator and controversy-seeker Ann Coulter's jaw is wired tightly shut.

I know, I know. If the report is true, It's almost as if our prayers have been answered.

Apparently it was broken, but by whom, no one seems to be sure. We could hazard a guess, but why throw roses yet.

The blogosphere is already aquiver over the idea of a forced Coulter Moment of Silence.
Finally, the Right Wing Barbie Doll has to shut up. This is, after all, the woman who called 2004 VP nominee John Edwards the F-word in 2007 while speaking at the concervative Political Action conference.

"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you say "faggot", so I'm--so, kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards, so I think I'll just conclude here and take your questions."

The rehab reference was a right-wing joke (and we use the term loosely) about actor Isaiah Washington using that word for his “Grey’s Anatomy” co-star T.R. Knight and been forced by the network to undergo psychological treatment.

But her unfunny comments drew criticism from all fields, Democrats, Republicans and gay rights groups.

But here’s the best part about the Coulter broken jaw news. No really, this is really good: Seems she has a brand new book titled "GUILTY” due out in early January and, of course, was all booked on TV and radio talk shows to discuss the “much-needed reality check on a Left gone wild," declares the book's jacket.

Her latest work reportedly exposes and mocks the media's love affair with all things Democrat and all things President-elect Barack Obama.

Too bad Ann won’t be able to say a word about her new book.

That’s just a gosh darn shame...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Guilty verdict on lesser charges in MySpace case

Right: The rotund Lori Drew (right) and her fat little daughter.

A Los Angeles federal jury today convicted a Missouri mother of misdemeanor charges in the nationally watched MySpace cyber-bullying case involving the suicide of a 13-year-old girl. But the jury rejected more serious felony charges against Lori Drew.

Drew, 49, was accused of violating federal computer statutes and one count of conspiracy for creating the MySpace account in the name of a fictitious 16-year-old boy and using it to engage in an online relationship with 13-year-old Megan Meier.

Meier, of Dardenne Prairie, Mo., hanged herself Oct. 16, 2006, after the fictitious boy, “Josh Evans,” told her the world would be a better place without her, prosecutors alleged.
During the five-day trial in front of U.S. District Judge George H. Wu, prosecutors sought to portray Drew as a callous and reckless woman who gleefully took part in the hoax on Meier, despite knowing the girl had struggled with depression for years and had a vulnerable psyche.

Among the government’s witnesses were a close friend of Drew’s, a business associate and her hairdresser, each of whom testified that Drew had admitted playing a role in the hoax.

Drew’s attorney, H. Dean Steward, had accused the government of overreaching by prosecuting his client for something that people routinely do on the Internet: Create bogus identities. He also sought to cast Megan as a deeply troubled teen who had already considered suicide and who was taking an antidepressant medication that carried a warning of suicidal tendencies as a potential side effect. Authorities in Missouri investigated the circumstances surrounding Megan’s death in the months after it occurred but concluded there was no statute under which Drew could be charged.

Thomas P. O’Brien, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, claimed jurisdiction over the case based on the fact that MySpace is based in Beverly Hills.

Documents Show Casey Anthony Searched Neck-Breaking On Computer

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- Newly released court documents show Casey Anthony searched for information on chloroform, types of shovels and neck-breaking on her computer in the time before her young daughter Caylee disappeared.

The documents show Casey searched those items in March, at the same time she was also looking on missing children web sites. Casey reported her daughter missing in June. Casey claims she left Caylee with a babysitter but that person has never been found and Casey now stands charged with Caylee’s murder.

Some of the information found on Casey’s computer also related to the chemicals peroxide, acetone and alcohol, which can be used to make chloroform.

Traces of chloroform were found in the trunk of Casey’s car, along with DNA evidence that suggests the dead body of Caylee had also been in there.

Investigators say they found that Casey’s mother Cindy was not at home when the searches were done. They say she was at work but that her father, George, was not employed at the time.
The new records also show that Casey told her parents during a jail visit that her message to "Zenaida," the mysterious nanny, was "she (Zenaida) needs to return Caylee" and "I forgive her.”

Casey hinted that she told Cindy long ago that she might have given someone a key to their house but didn’t say who.

Casey also gave a description of Zenaida: she’s 5-feet, 7-inches tall, has curly brown hair that had been straightened, weighs 140 pounds, and has brown eyes, and a lot of money.

The documents also show there was no rotting pizza in the trunk of Casey’s car. Cindy has long claimed a horrible smell that detectives have described as the smell of death, was due to a rotting pizza. But the documents show there was nothing but an empty pizza box in a bag in the trunk.

Investigators say when George opened the car trunk at a towing company, with a towing company employee next to him, flies flew out of the trunk. The pair tossed the trash bag that was in the trunk into the dumpster. Later, when investigators went back to it and opened it, they found flies, maggots, and the empty pizza box.

Also released Wednesday, investigators say Casey's slacks, which her mother removed from the car and washed because they reeked of the same odor inside the car, were apparently the same slacks Casey was wearing on the day Caylee disappeared and is believed to have been murdered. Investigators did not ask for those slacks early on because they had already been laundered at least once.

Cindy Anthony May Face Obstruction Of Justice Charges

This family reminds me of the VanDerSloots in Aruba. They don't know the truth from a lie. All the same to them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 – ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- Cindy Anthony was on the defensive Wednesday morning after Eyewitness News uncovered an email showing that she may have knowingly given investigators the wrong evidence.
In the message, Cindy wrote to former family spokesperson Larry Garrison that she gave investigators Casey's hair brush instead of Caylee's brush, which they wanted for a DNA sample.

Cindy Anthony said that she told investigators that the brush that was given to them was used by Caylee and Casey. The FBI and Eyewitness News' legal analyst said Cindy Anthony could face obstruction of justice charges.

"Did you purposely give investigators the wrong hairbrush?" asked Eyewitness News Reporter Jeff Deal.

"No absolutely not," Cindy responded.

When Eyewitness News obtained an email from Larry Garrison (read the email), it was handed over to the FBI because of the explosive evidence inside. The email says Cindy gave investigators the wrong hairbrush when they asked for Caylee's brush in late July to compare DNA from her hair to the hair they found in Casey's trunk, where it smelled of death.

Eyewitness News told the FBI about it and now they're investigating whether Cindy has tried to sabotage the investigation. Our reporter confronted Cindy about the email and she said she did not purposely give investigators the wrong hairbrush.

"Did I go around and find all the hairbrushes? No, but it wasn't deception," said Cindy.
Cindy Anthony tries to give the appearance that she's cooperating with investigators, but Eyewitness News has learned she and her husband George have been stalling for weeks to answer their follow-up questions in the investigation.

Then Tuesday, a controversial email surfaced. It appears that the Anthonys' former spokesman, Larry Garrison, says he confronted Cindy by email about why she gave Casey's hairbrush, instead of Caylee's hairbrush, to investigators who wanted a DNA sample.

Garrison said Cindy's emailed response was: "I never lied. I just never went to my bathroom to get the hairbrush that I used only for Caylee."

Cindy believes Garrison is behind the leak, calling it sour grape because the family recently fired him after finding out he was collecting money for interviews. She said she's not worried about any legal trouble.

"Are you afraid of getting arrested?" asked Jeff Deal.

"I'm not afraid. I've received no calls from the FBI or Sheriff's Office. They know I handed that brush, I told them it was Casey's," Cindy responded.

Eyewitness News passed the email along to FBI Special Agent Nick Savage, who told Eyewitness News Tuesday: "The appropriate weight will be given to this like all other information received. Law enforcement will address this matter as it relates to the investigation."

Eyewitness News legal analyst Bill Scheaffer told Eyewitness News the obstruction of justice statute could apply.

"If she knowingly gave the investigators the wrong hairbrush, then I think there's enough elasticity in this statute that one could bring a charge of obstructing justice," Schaeffer said.
Cindy Anthony told Eyewitness News that she's not afraid of being arrested. Eyewitness News also found out that it is unlikely the Anthonys would be charged since they lost their granddaughter, but the issues could affect their credibility if they try to defend Casey in court.

So is this "obstructing justice?" Eyewitness News looked up the legal definition: "An attempt to interfere with the administration of the courts, the judicial system or law enforcement officers, including threatening witnesses, improper conversations with jurors, hiding evidence, or interfering with an arrest. Such activity is a crime."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

MySpace case goes to Los Angeles federal jury

Judge in the widely watched cyber-bullying case revolving around a teen's suicide could still decide to throw it out, even after jurors reach a verdict.
By Scott Glover November 25, 2008

A closely watched cyber-bullying case in which a Missouri woman is accused of creating a fake MySpace account and using it to torment a teenage girl who later killed herself was turned over to a federal jury in Los Angeles on Monday.
The case centers on events leading up to the death of 13-year-old Megan Meier. An eighth-grader in suburban St. Louis, Meier hanged herself with a belt in her bedroom closet two years ago after she was suddenly dumped by someone she believed was a 16-year-old boy she'd met on the MySpace website. But the boy, Josh Evans, didn't exist.

"Folks, that's Josh Evans right there," U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O'Brien told jurors, pointing to the defendant, 49-year-old Lori Drew, moments before the jury was given the case.
Drew showed no emotion as she returned the gaze of the six men and six women who will consider her fate.
During a five-day trial in front of U.S. District Judge George H. Wu, prosecutors sought to portray Drew as a callous and reckless woman who gleefully took part in the hoax on Meier, despite knowing the girl had struggled with depression for years and had a vulnerable psyche.
Among the government's witnesses were a close friend of Drew's, a business associate and her hairdresser, each of whom testified that Drew had admitted playing a role in the hoax. Drew's attorney, H. Dean Steward, accused O'Brien and his colleagues in the U.S. attorney's office of engaging in a misguided prosecution that was meant to exact revenge for the tragic death of a pretty young girl, even though Drew is not charged with her killing.
"You'd think this was a homicide case, but it's not," Steward told jurors during his closing arguments. He insisted his client is not guilty of the charges the government did file -- in essence, intentionally violating the rules governing the use of computers on MySpace and then using a computer to intentionally inflict emotional distress.
When the government rested its case Friday afternoon, Steward asked to have the charges thrown out, arguing that Drew could not have intentionally violated MySpace rules because there was no evidence she'd ever read them. Judge Wu, after considering the matter over the weekend, said Monday morning that it was "a complicated legal issue" that he had not yet resolved. He allowed the trial to proceed, but said he would take the motion to dismiss under submission, meaning he could decide to throw out the case even if the jury reached a verdict.
Authorities in Missouri investigated the circumstances surrounding Megan's death in the months after it occurred but concluded there was no statute under which Drew could be charged. O'Brien's office asserted jurisdiction this spring, based on the fact that MySpace is based in Beverly Hills.
The trial, featuring tearful testimony from Megan Meier's mother, Tina, about the night she discovered her daughter hanging in the makeshift noose, has played out before an often packed courtroom and drawn media attention from across the country.
Prosecutors have touted the case as the first of its kind in the nation.
According to prosecutors, Drew; her daughter, Sarah, then 13; and Drew's employee, Ashley Grills, then 18, set up an account in the name of Josh Evans because they believed Megan Meier had been spreading rumors about Sarah Drew. The bogus profile, featuring a photo of an attractive boy who'd supposedly just moved to town, was designed to lure Megan into an online relationship in which she might repeat some of the rumors she was allegedly spreading about Sarah.
The ploy worked to an extent. Megan Meier began exchanging e-mails with the boy she came to know as Josh. The exchanges were innocent at first but turned nasty on the afternoon of Oct. 16, 2006.
Megan received an e-mail from "Josh" that day telling her that "the world would be a better place without you" and to "have a [lousy] rest of your life." "You are the kind of boy a girl would kill herself over," Megan allegedly replied before tearfully going up to her room and making good on the threat.
The government's star witness was Grills, a longtime family friend of the Drews and an employee of Lori Drew's coupon business.Grills, who was given immunity in exchange for her testimony, said it was her idea to make up the MySpace profile and that she did most of the messaging with Meier. But she said Lori Drew was aware of what she was doing and sometimes helped formulate the messages that were sent to Megan.
Grills testified that she warned Drew that what they were doing was illegal but that Drew brushed her off, telling her, "People do it all the time."In his closing arguments, Steward questioned Grills' intelligence and suggested she was exaggerating Drew's role to make sure she didn't wind up getting charged with a crime.
He said Grills' testimony was inconsistent with earlier statements she'd made to authorities and to an interviewer on "Good Morning America." The line about Josh Evans being "the kind of boy a girl would kill herself over" didn't come up until just days before trial, he said.
Near right, Megan Meier; far right Ashley Grills
"It's just a lie," Steward told jurors. "When you think of Ashley Grills, bless her heart, the word 'pathetic' has got to come up."Glover is a Times staff writer.

Guantanamo Bay: US 'transfers' bin Laden's driver

November 25, 2008

The US military is transferring Osama bin Laden's former driver, Salim Hamdan, from the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay to his home country of Yemen, The Washington Post has reported citing two government officials.

He is expected to arrive within 48 hours in Yemen's capital, Sanaa.
But military prosecutors and Hamdan's attorneys on Monday said they could not confirm his impending transfer, the daily said.

Hamdan is to serve out the remaining month of his military commission sentence in a Yemeni prison, the newspaper said.

A military commission in August this year convicted Hamdan of supporting terrorism but acquitted him on more serious charges of conspiring with al-Qaeda to wage murderous attacks, in the first US war crimes trial since World War II.

Personal services

Hamdan was convicted of providing personal services in support of terrorism, specifically driving, guarding and ferrying weapons for a man he knew to be the leader of al-Qaeda.
Hamdan was captured in November 2001 at a roadblock in Afghanistan, not long after the US invasion that followed the September 11 attacks.

Held as a suspected terrorist at the Guantanamo prison camp, he won a supreme court case in June 2006 that struck down the Bush administration's first trial system there and prompted congress to rewrite the rules.

The Guantanamo trial was the first full test of the military tribunal system authorised by the Bush administration to try foreign captives on terrorism charges outside the regular US court system.

Hamdan's attorneys said the ruling made clear the detainees are entitled to fundamental constitutional rights.

Bush Drinking Again? Downs "Pisco Sour" In Peru

lol. like he ever quit.

The Huffington Post
November 25, 2008

The Peru news agency Andina notes that President Bush was drinking a Peruvian cocktail during the recent APEC summit:

Peru has successfully promoted its national drink "Pisco Sour" during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit, Peru's Environment Minister Antonio Brack said Sunday.

He noted that the flagship drink of Peru was well acepted by international guests, including Japan's Prime Minister, Taro Aso.

"Pisco Sour has been the "star" of the APEC Summit, the drink was served in several meetings at the Government Palace and the APEC Summit venue," he told CPN Radio....

U.S. President George W. Bush, who quit drinking at 40, was apparently drinking a Peruvian cocktail during a meeting on Saturday.

Pisco Sour is a cocktail containing Pisco (a Peruvian brandy), lemon juice, egg whites, simple syrup, and regional bitters.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Judge Puts Off Decision in MySpace Suicide Case

Right: Lori Drew

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles federal judge has put off a decision on a motion to dismiss the case against a Missouri mother accused of orchestrating an Internet hoax that targeted a neighbor girl who later committed suicide.

U.S. District Court Judge George Wu on Monday cited a rule under which he may wait until after a verdict before deciding the motion.

Wu says the trial of 49-year-old Lori Drew will go forward. Drew has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and accessing computers without authorization.

The defense dismissal motion claims Drew could not be held responsible for violating the service rules of the MySpace social networking site because she never read them.

Prosecutors say Drew, her daughter and business assistant created a MySpace profile of a fictional teen boy in September 2006 to befriend 13-year-old Megan Meier to learn if Megan was spreading rumors about Drew's daughter.

Megan, who had been treated for attention deficit disorder and depression, hanged herself in October 2006 after receiving a message saying the world would be a better place without her.
Daughter Defends Mom in MySpace Suicide Trial
Saturday, November 22, 2008

LOS ANGELES — The daughter of a woman accused of orchestrating a cruel Internet hoax against a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide took the witness stand Friday to defend her mother.

Sarah Drew, 16, said her mother, Lori Drew, initially thought it was a good idea to create a fictitious boy on a MySpace account to find out if Megan Meier was spreading rumors about Sarah.

But Sarah said her mother told a business assistant to shut down the MySpace account two weeks after it was created — well before the final message was sent saying the world would be better off if Megan was dead.

Megan, who had been treated for attention deficit disorder and depression, hanged herself in October 2006 after receiving the message.

Lori Drew has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and accessing computers without authorization. If convicted of all counts, Drew faces up to 20 years in prison.

Sarah's testimony capped a week of emotional and sometimes touchy proceedings in what is believed to be the nation's first cyber-bullying trial.
Sarah broke down under cross-examination by U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien as she described how Megan had confided in her about her suicidal thoughts, but Sarah didn't tell anyone.

The trial also took another twist when U.S. District Judge George Wu said he will rule Monday on a defense motion calling for the dismissal of charges against the 49-year-old Drew.

Prosecutors say Drew, her business assistant Ashley Grills and Sarah created the MySpace alias of a teen boy called "Josh Evans" in September 2006 to befriend Megan.

Sarah told jurors her mother thought inventing "Josh" was a good idea but changed her mind two weeks later and told Grills to shut it down. Sarah also said she tried to stop Grills from sending the final message.

"I was like, Ashley, no, don't send it," Sarah said. "She said she sent it and laughed about it."
Sarah testified she never saw her mother use the MySpace account. Her statement contradicted testimony by Grills that she had seen Drew type at least one message and court documents alleging Drew told authorities she typed, read and monitored the chat between "Josh" and Megan.

Sarah said it was her father, not her mother, who told her and Grills to delete the MySpace account after they learned Megan had hanged herself. Grills testified Thursday it was both Sarah's parents who made the request.

On cross-examination by the prosecution, Sarah said she often forgave Megan, who she considered her best friend, for saying mean things about her. She also denied having a role in her friend's death.

Sarah said Megan confided in her on two occasions that she wanted to kill herself. "She was like, I don't know if I could live anymore," she said of one instance. "I told her not to do it."

Sarah cried on the witness stand and nodded when O'Brien questioned her about why she didn't tell any adults about the suicide conversations.

Defense attorney Dean Steward stood up and lashed out at the region's top federal prosecutor for badgering the teenage girl.

"Come on, 'yes or no,' not a head nod. Be a professional!" Steward bellowed. Drew shot icy stares at O'Brien but showed no other reaction.

Sarah was visibly shaken as she left the courtroom and wept as she passed Megan's parents Ron and Tina Meier. Outside court, Drew tried to calm her daughter.

Steward said his client would not testify at the trial.

Judge Wu said he intends to review testimony and issue a ruling on the dismissal motion by the defense claiming Drew cannot be held responsible for violating the service rules of the MySpace social networking site because she never read them.

While making the dismissal motion, Steward argued that neither Drew nor Sarah or Grills had read the rules.

"The best view of the government's evidence is ambiguous at best," Steward said.
That prompted Wu to question Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Krause about the charges in the ongoing trial.

"How would they know if they didn't read the terms of service?" Wu asked.

Krause said Grills had testified that she knew they could get in trouble for the hoax, and that a computer forensics analysis showed a MySpace account had been deleted from Drew's computer after the suicide of Megan.

Steward called his own expert who testified Friday she could not find any evidence that the account had been deleted from Drew's computer.

Jae Sung, a vice president of customer care at MySpace, testified that MySpace requires users to check a box agreeing to the rules prohibiting such things as online harassment.

Sung's testimony addressed a central aspect of the prosecution case alleging that Drew violated MySpace service terms by harassing Megan and setting up a fake account. Sung said "impostor profiles" such as the "Josh" account in this case are not allowed under MySpace guidelines.

"What happens when they are found?" Krause asked.

"We generally delete those profiles," Sung said.

Sung said MySpace now has 400 million profiles for users, which makes it difficult to enforce the service rules.

Latest polygamist ranch indictment names leader

Frederick Merrill Jessop & wives
Monday, November 24, 2008

An elder of a polygamist sect and two other church members surrendered to authorities Monday to face felony charges relating to the marriage of underage girls to older men.

Frederick "Merril" Jessop, 72, a leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who oversaw its Yearning For Zion Ranch in west Texas, faces one count of conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony involving a minor.

One of his daughters was allegedly married to jailed sect leader Warren Jeffs at 12 and is now the only child from the ranch in foster care after her mother refused to cooperate with child welfare authorities.

In all, 12 FLDS men have been indicted since Texas authorities raided the ranch in April looking for evidence of underage girls forced into marriages and sex with older men. Hundreds of children were placed in state custody for weeks before they were ordered to be returned to their parents.

A grand jury in Eldorado, Texas, indicted Jeffs, Jessop, Wendell Loy Nielsen and Leroy Johnson Steed on Nov. 12. Only Jeffs' name had been released before Monday, when the other three men were booked and released after posting bond.

"We've said all along we're not running. We're going to take it head on," said FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop. "The allegations they're making and what they're trying to do is nothing more than harassment."

Nielsen, 68, is charged with three counts of bigamy. The indictment includes few details, but church records released as part of a separate child custody case list 21 women married to Nielsen in August 2007.

Leroy Johnson Steed, 42, is charged with sexual assault of a child, bigamy and tampering with evidence. Church records show that Steed was married to a 16-year-old girl in March 2007.
Jeffs was convicted in Utah and is awaiting trial in Arizona on charges related to underage marriages of sect girls. He faces charges in Texas of sexual assault of a child and bigamy.

Church records and journal entries released in the custody case indicate several of Merril Jessop's daughters were married to men in the church when they were 16 or younger.

One of Merril Jessop's wives, Carolyn, fled the FLDS community on the Arizona-Utah line with her children in 2003 and wrote a best-selling book, "Escape."

Generally, teens younger than 17 cannot consent to sex with an adult under Texas law. Bigamy is also illegal. While the FLDS plural marriages are not legal marriages, Texas law forbids even purporting to marry.

Willie Jessop said the state is making criminal cases to justify what he called a botched child custody case. Child welfare authorities have dropped most of the cases involving the 439 children taken from the YFZ Ranch; only about three dozen remain under court oversight.

The child welfare case was prompted by calls to a domestic abuse hotline from someone claiming to be a teen mother who was abused. Those calls are now being investigated as a hoax.

The FLDS, which believes polygamy bring glorification in heaven, is a breakaway sect of the Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormon church renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

Baez Plans To Fight Casey Anthony Case Gag Order

Also: Padilla Plans Return To Search For Caylee
November 24, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Attorney Jose Baez, in his first extensive interview in several weeks, said he plans to fight a gag order in the Casey Anthony case when he goes to court on Tuesday.

Baez, in an exclusive interview with WESH 2 reporter Bob Kealing, also criticized the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for saying it was not searching for Caylee Anthony, who was reported missing in July.

“I don’t think you should gamble with the life of a child on strategies,” he said. “The fact is they haven’t found her. They don’t know where she is. They don’t know what happened to her, so they should constantly be looking for her.”

Casey Anthony is charged with killing Caylee. She is in Orange County Jail on no bond, with her trial scheduled to start in January.

A judge is scheduled to hear several motions on Tuesday afternoon, including one from prosecutors to limit what Baez and others can say publicly about the case.

Baez has not talked extensively with the media since Casey Anthony was indicted last month.
During the interview at his Osceola County office, Baez also criticized law enforcement for leaking information about the case. And he said Casey Anthony will not be in court on Tuesday.

Bounty Hunter Plans Return To Search For Caylee

The bounty hunter in the search for missing Caylee Anthony said he has raised more than $50,000 and plans to come back to Central Florida.
Padilla said he plans to come back soon to search for Caylee's remains.
This news came on the heels of a rough week for the Anthony family.
On Friday, the state released videotaped interviews between the Anthonys and investigators.
Grandfather George Anthony said he suspects Caylee's mother -- his daughter, Casey Anthony -- stole money from her mother, Cindy, and from Caylee's piggy bank.

On Thursday, the attorney representing the Anthonys said he's out. Mark Nejame announced he will no longer represent the family.

On Wednesday, WESH 2 News was the first to report that the Orange County Sheriff's Office will no longer follow up on live sightings of Caylee. Orange County police said they believe the toddler is dead.

Padilla said he wants a thorough search of the bottom of the Little Econlockhatchee River with divers using sifting screens. Those screens would allow water and sand to fall through, but not the kinds of things alligators won't eat, like toys, plastic bags and human teeth. Padilla said he's planning an exhaustive new search of the bottom of the river in hopes of finding Caylee's remains.

"A lot of people might think exactly that," Padilla said, referring to the face that some people have called him crazy. "But I've been a voice in the wilderness before. I have some money now -- in the neighborhood of $50,000 pledged."

Padilla said he has been assured by experts that some human remains and other evidence could still be in the river, even though it has been five months since Caylee's disappearance.
"In checking with people that know alligators, they won't eat plastic stuff, garbage bags, and they will not eat teeth," Padilla said.

That's why Padilla said he wants search teams to use sifting screens. He said he's confident he can raise $200,000 and be back by early January.

Meanwhile, the Kid Finder's Network released a picture on Friday of a young girl seen at the Florida Mall in Orlando. The child resembles Caylee. So far, Kid Finders said it has gotten little help from the public in their efforts to find out who the girl is.

"It's very urgent to get the picture out there," said Michelle Bart, of Kid Finders. "If it's not Caylee, we want to know."

Padilla said he has not been given a polygraph by the Orange County Sheriff's Office and does not know when that will happen. He reiterated that he did not plant evidence at the river two weeks ago.

A town fights back in MySpace suicide case

Right: Lori Drew

It appears there's no law to punish whoever pushed a girl over the edge. A friend's mother is accused and scorned.

By P.J. Huffstutter,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
November 22, 2007

DARDENNE PRAIRIE, MO. -- For nearly a year, the families who live along Waterford Crystal Drive in this bedroom community northwest of St. Louis have kept the secret about the boy Megan Meier met last September on the social networking site MySpace.

He called himself Josh Evans, and he and 13-year-old Megan struck up an online friendship that lasted several weeks. Then the boy abruptly turned on Megan and ended it. That night, Megan, who had previously battled depression, committed suicide.

The secret was revealed six weeks later: Neighbor Lori Drew had pretended to be 16-year-old Josh to gain the trust of Megan, who had been fighting with Drew's daughter, according to sheriff's department records and Megan's parents.

After their daughter's death, Tina and Ron Meier begged their other neighbors to keep the story private. Let the local authorities and the FBI conduct their investigations in privacy, they pleaded.

But after waiting for criminal charges to be filed against Drew, neighbors learned that local and federal prosecutors could not find a statute applicable to the case.This community's patience has dried up. The furious neighbors -- and in the wake of recent media reports, an outraged public -- are taking matters into their own hands.

In an outburst of virtual vigilantism, readers of blogs such as RottenNeighbor.com and hitsusa.com have posted the Drews' home address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and photographs.

Dozens of people allegedly have called local businesses that work with the family's advertising booklet firm, and flooded the phone lines this week at the local Burlington Coat Factory, where Curt Drew reportedly works.

"I posted that, where Curt works. I'm not ashamed to admit that," said Trever Buckles, 40, a neighbor whose two teenage boys grew up with Megan. "Why? Because there's never been any sense of remorse or public apology from the Drews, no 'maybe we made a mistake.'

"Local teenagers and residents protest just steps from the Drews' tiny porch. A fake 911 call, claiming a man had been shot inside the Drew home, sent law enforcement officers to surround the one-story, white-sided house. People drive through the neighborhood in the middle of the night, screaming, "Murderer!"

The Drews, who have mounted cameras and recording devices onto the roof of their house to track the movements of their neighbors, declined to comment for this article.

Cyber-bullying has become an increasingly creepy reality, where the anonymity of video games, message boards and other online forums offers an outlet for cruel taunts. But it can be difficult to draw the line between constitutionally protected free speech and conduct that is illegal.

Still, Parry Aftab, an Internet privacy lawyer and executive director of WiredSafety.org, points to one federal statute that may apply in the Meier case: the telecommunications harassment law. Amended in 2005, the law prohibits people from anonymously using the Internet with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.Terri Dougherty, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in St. Louis, declined to comment on whether prosecutors could apply the federal statute in the Meier case.

The mounting tension and heated emotions have local community leaders worried. The St. Charles County Sheriff's Department, which had rarely visited the suburb, now regularly patrols there. County prosecutors are reexamining the case.

On Wednesday evening, Dardenne Prairie's Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a law that makes cyber-harassment a misdemeanor -- with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail, $500 fine or both for each violation. It's the most stringent punishment available to the city."We're all in shock," said Mayor Pam Fogarty. "If I have anything to say about it, we'll never have our hands tied legally like this again."

Dardenne Prairie is an upper-middle-class enclave of about 7,400 people, about 35 miles northwest of St. Louis. Over the years, the flat expanse of farmland has been taken over by sprawling subdivisions, high-end bistros and strip-mall cafes.

The Meiers moved to the east side of town 13 years ago, where clusters of maple trees and prairie grasses still remain relatively undeveloped. Eager for more space at a budget price, the couple were drawn by numerous families and safe streets with names like Swan Lake Drive and Tri Sports Drive.

"There were kids everywhere, and they've all grown up together," said Tina Meier, 37, who works in real estate. "They ride their bikes together, have barbecues together, go on family vacations together, go to school together."

Megan befriended Lori and Curt Drew's daughter in elementary school, and the two became close, Meier said. When Megan transferred to a different middle school last fall, in an effort to help her deal with depression and get away from some bullies, the girls grew apart, her parents said. The Meiers declined to discuss the details behind the girls' estrangement.

Around the same time, Megan started to use the Internet, under the supervision of her parents. Sitting on the family's brown floral couch with her father, or nestled next to her mother in the family's office in the basement, the eighth-grader browsed through her friends' websites and chatted about school.

When a boy messaged Megan on MySpace and asked to be her friend, she excitedly agreed. The two talked online for about six weeks, her parents said.

On Oct. 16, Josh told Megan he'd heard that she was a terrible friend. The two fought. Tina, who had to leave to take Megan's younger sister, Allison, to a doctor's appointment, ordered Megan to get off the computer. She didn't.

The messages grew nasty, according to an FBI transcript.The final message isn't included in the transcript: "I remember it said something like, 'The world would be a better-off place without you,' " said Ron Meier, 37, who works as a machinist.

That evening, as her parents were downstairs preparing for dinner, Megan hanged herself in her closet. She died the next day.

In the weeks that followed, the Drews comforted the Meiers. They said nothing to them about the fake MySpace account.

They prayed at the wake and consoled sobbing community members at Megan's funeral. They invited the Meiers to birthday parties and had Allison over to bake holiday cookies. They asked the Meiers to hide Christmas gifts in their garage, away from their own children's prying eyes.

It was last Thanksgiving weekend when the Meiers said they learned the truth from a neighbor who had figured out that Lori Drew had devised the online relationship with Megan. In a fit of rage, they hacked up one of the gifts they were storing -- a Foosball table -- with an ax and sledgehammer. Tina and Ronald dumped the pieces onto the Drews' driveway.

"I heard this god-awful screaming," said neighbor Kristie Kriss, 48. "It was Tina. When I heard what happened, I couldn't believe it."

When the Drews complained to the authorities about the loss of their Foosball table, the story became public. According to a sheriff's department report, Lori Drew said "she wanted to 'just tell them' what she did to contribute to the Meiers' daughter's suicide." Drew told the officer that she, with the help of a temporary employee, "instigated and monitored" a fake profile prior to Megan's suicide, "for the sole purpose of communicating" with the girl.

"Drew stated that she, her daughter and [the employee] all typed, read and monitored the communication between the fake male profile and Megan," the report said. Drew then told the officer that the account had been accessed by other people, "and Megan found out she had been duped."

The Meiers hired an attorney.

"We told our friends to trust the system, and we would have our justice," said Ron Meier.The neighborhood may have agreed to stay mum, but they couldn't keep their feelings hidden: Many people here say they shunned the Drews, meeting their gaze with sneers and obscene gestures.

On the anniversary of Megan's death, Ron's relatives lined the street with black-and-white polka-dot balloons and put up signs around the neighborhood that asked for "justice for Megan."

Meanwhile, the Meiers' marriage fell apart. Tina moved out of the house in the spring and now lives with her mother. The couple is getting divorced. Allison, now 11, splits her time between the two.

Ron has remained in the house on Waterford Crystal Drive, and has tried to preserve Megan's room. Her clothes fill the closet. But he's stopped sleeping at the house.

His attorney has suggested that he spend the nights with friends or family, because "if something does happen to the Drews, I'm going to be the No. 1 suspect and I'll need a witness to prove my innocence," Ron said.

"All we feel is frustration, anger," neighbor Kriss said. "For months, we've been asking ourselves, 'What mother in her right mind would do this? And why won't the cops do anything to punish them?' "We just want them gone."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Joseph Duncan III

Joseph Duncan III
Scum of the earth.
Waste of air.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bush pledges help to fight corruption, poverty in Paraguay

Right: George preparing to blow smoke up Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo's ass

Originally published October 28, 2008

President George Bush joined Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo Monday in a pledge to bring assistance to the poverty-stricken South American nation while fighting corruption in the ranks of its government.

After a meeting with Lugo at the White House, Bush said his administration welcomed the opportunity to open discussions with Lugo that could lead to assistance from Washington.

"We want to help with education and health care. We care deeply about people being able to work," Bush said. “We believe in the social justice agenda. I believe that it's important that the United States be in a position to help influence the lives of citizens that simply want a more hopeful day." In his post-meeting statement, Lugo pledged to fight corruption and work to lift the nation out of poverty.

"We are profoundly hurt in our souls by poverty, by the exodus of our young people, by the lack of education, by people who don't have roofs over their heads," said Lugo. "Our dream is that Paraguay be known not for its corruption, but for its transparency and for its dignity as a people and as a country."

Noting that Lugo had a "hard job" in moving toward his goals, President Bush said he recognized the South American leader's commitment to work against government corruption plaguing his country's ability to lift itself out of poverty.

"I'm impressed by the fact that you want to take a strong stand against corruption. There's nothing more discouraging than to have the government of a people steal their money," said Bush. "And so we stand with you. It's -- you got a hard job. I understand that. But you bring the right spirit to the job."

Lugo underscored that he entered politics in order to change the history of Paraguay. “We have not come into politics in order to get into the smokeless industry that is to steal from the people of the country. We came in as Christians, because our Christian duty is to serve the poorest and the neediest of our people. And today, as President of Paraguay, we're taking on all of the challenges with the greatest serenity possible so that we can help our people”.

“I'll never forget that when I talked to one of our farm people, one of the people out in the country, a farmer who said, "What we need is bread. We don't care if it comes from the left hand or from the right hand; we just need somebody to give us food." And that's why we're here, because the Paraguayans have asked us to be here as President to try to recover Paraguay's dignity as a nation”.

Lugo is a former Catholic bishop who ended 61 years of one-party conservative rule in Paraguay when he became head of state in August with the support of a catch-all centre left coalition.

Bush Buys Land in Northern Paraguay
Prensa Latina – Buenos Aires, Oct 13, 2006

An Argentine official regarded the intention of the George W. Bush family to settle on the Acuifero Guarani (Paraguay) as surprising, besides being a bad signal for the governments of the region. Luis D Elia, undersecretary for the Social Habitat in the Argentine Federal Planning Ministry, issued a memo partially reproduced by digital INFOBAE.com, in which he spoke of the purchase by Bush of a 98,842-acre farm in northern Paraguay, between Brazil and Bolivia.

The news circulated Thursday in non-official sources in Asuncion, Paraguay. D Elia considered this Bush step counterproductive for the regional power expressed by Presidents Nestor Kirchner, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. He said that "it is a bad signal that the Bush family is doing business with natural resources linked to the future of MERCOSUR."

The official pointed out that this situation could cause a hypothetical conflict of all the armies in the region, and called attention to the Bush family habit of associating business and politics. www.plenglish.com/article.asp?ID={EBA55617-2676-4091-ABBC-20650EB6FEE1}&language=EN

Update Bush Family Residence in Paraguay? Written by April Howard – Upside Down World October 11, 2006

The Governor of Alto Paraguay, Erasmo Rodríguez Acosta has admitted to hearing that George Bush Sr. owns land in the Chaco region of Paraguay, in Paso de Patria. Acosta says that rumor has it that Bush owns near to 70 thousand hectares (173,000 acres) as part of an ecological reserve and/or ranch. However, the governor said he had no documents to prove the rumor. Acosta said that some stories credited the land to the Fundación Patria, which Bush would be a member of. The spokespeople of the organization were not available to comment.

Timothy Towell, the U.S. Ambassador in Asunción (the capital of Paraguay) is the present administrator of the land. First accounts signaled that Bush had acquired 40,000 hectares (99,000 acres) in the Chaco zone of Fuerte Olimpo, near the Bolivian Border. A spark of the interest in this property may have been Jenna Bush's private visit to Paraguay with Unicef, which started Saturday, October 7, 2006. Jenna will travel to the ranch to ''observe'' several indigenous villages are located on the property. http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/457/0/

Friday, November 21, 2008

Kentucky Executes Child-Killer Marco Allen Chapmen Who Asked for Death

Chapman Execution Day Arrives
Killer scheduled to die tonight

Friday, November 21, 2008

EDDYVILLE, Ky. -- Marco Allen Chapman has arrived at the end of the road in Kentucky's penal system. Barring a last-minute stay, the confessed child killer will be executed tonight for the murders of two children.
Marco Chapman fired his attorneys and ended all appeals in his attempt to be put to death for his crimes. He pleaded guilty to the 2002 attack on a Gallatin County family.
Chapman entered a home in Warsaw, Kentucky and stabbed to death 6-year-old Cody Sharon and his 7-year-old sister, Chelbi. Their mother, Carolyn Marksberry, and her daughter, 10-year-old Courtney, survived the attack. Chapman is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at 7 o'clock Central Time tonight (8 p.m. Eastern).
There have been 164 men executed at the prison since 1911. All but one died in the electric chair. The last execution in Kentucky took place in 1999 when Eddie Lee Harper received a lethal injection.
Nine reporters have been chosen to witness Chapman's execution. The victims' family is also allowed to watch. Chapman has declined to choose his own witnesses.
The Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has organized several vigils across the state tonight. They will be in Louisville, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Berea, at the penitentiary in Eddyville and outside the governor's mansion in Frankfort.

Kentucky Executes Child-Killer Who Asked for Death

Friday, November 21, 2008

EDDYVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky has executed a confessed child-killer who resisted all appeals.
In the state's first execution in nine years, 37-year-old Marco Allen Chapman was given a lethal injection Friday at the Kentucky State Penitentiary. He was pronounced dead at 7:34 p.m. CST.

Chapman pleaded guilty in 2004 to killing two children in their northern Kentucky home in a 2002 attack that wounded their mother and another child. He asked to be put to death and fought for the right to fire his attorneys to clear the way.
I'm glad he's dead. He murdered in cold blood:
Cody Sharon, 6 year old son murdered, in first grade
Chelbi Sharon, 7 year old daughter murdered, in second grade.
Carolyn Marksberry, their mom wounded
Courtney Sharon, 10 year old daughter wounded

Lori Drew saw MySpace plan as clever, witness says

Right: Lori Drew, Cyber-bully

A family friend says she helped Lori Drew create a bogus MySpace profile to 'expose' a teenager who later committed suicide.

By Scott Glover
November 21, 2008

A Midwestern mother accused of using a fake MySpace account to torment a teenager who later committed suicide thought the plan was a clever and funny way to deal with a girl she suspected was spreading lies about her daughter, according to witnesses Thursday. Ashley Grills, who was testifying under a grant of immunity, said that Lori Drew was directly involved in creating the bogus MySpace profile of a 16-year-old boy that was used to lure Megan Meier, 13, into an online relationship.

Grills, 20, said she was the one who came up with the idea of the MySpace account, but that Drew agreed and "thought it was funny."

Megan, of Dardenne Prairie, Mo., hanged herself two years ago after receiving an e-mail from the fictitious "Josh Evans" saying "the world would be a better place without you," prosecutors allege.

Drew, 49, is accused of violating federal law by providing false information to MySpace to set up the account, obtaining information about Megan in violation of MySpace rules, and then using the MySpace account to intentionally "inflict emotional distress" on the girl.

The circumstances surrounding Megan's death caused a national uproar when they were revealed last year. Authorities in Missouri launched an investigation but eventually concluded that there was no statute under which Drew could be charged. U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O'Brien indicted Drew in Los Angeles on the computer charges this spring on the theory that because MySpace is based in Beverly Hills, his office had jurisdiction.

Drew's attorney, H. Dean Steward, on Thursday sought to cast Megan as a deeply troubled teen who had already considered suicide and who was taking an antidepressant medication, which warned of suicidal tendencies as a potential side effect. He read to jurors an e-mail Megan allegedly sent to Drew's daughter, Sarah, less than a year before the suicide: "Every day is a struggle. I can't do anything right. I'm always in trouble."

Grills, a longtime family friend of the Drews' and an employee of Drew's coupon distribution business, testified that she, Drew and Drew's daughter were trying to figure out a way "to expose Megan" for rumors she'd allegedly been spreading about Sarah.

Drew was present when Grills sat at the computer and agreed to the terms of service, though they did not read them, Grills testified. She said Drew also helped formulate messages that were sent to Megan and at one point suggested that they have "Josh" arrange a meeting with Megan at a local mall at which Sarah and her friends would "pop out" and tease Megan.

Grills said that she and Sarah thought they might get in trouble for fabricating the Josh Evans account, but that Drew told them "that it was fine and people do it all the time."

Under cross-examination, Grills said she thought she sent the final e-mail telling Megan that the world would be better off without her from an AOL instant messaging service, not MySpace.

In comments to a reporter outside the courtroom, Steward suggested that the revelation was a blow to the government's claim of jurisdiction. Grills also testified under cross examination that Megan had been trading insults with several people online the afternoon she killed herself.

In other testimony Thursday, the Drews' hairdresser and a classmate of Drew's daughter said both Lori and Sarah Drew acknowledged to them that they were involved in the hoax on Megan.

The hairdresser, Dawn Chu, said Lori Drew told her she had a "funny story" to tell her before recounting how she and Grills had set up the account to fool Megan. Chu said she told Drew that doing so was wrong, but that she didn't respond.

She said Drew came in for a haircut again on the day of Megan's wake. Chu said she asked Drew why she was going to the wake, given her role in the hoax."It's not like I pulled the trigger," she quoted Drew as saying.

Mom of teen who killed self testifies in MySpace trial

Associated Press
3:44 PM PST, November 20, 2008

LOS ANGELES -- The mother of a Missouri girl who committed suicide after being targeted by an Internet hoax testified Thursday that she was unaware that her daughter had posed as an 18-year-old while allegedly trying to chat online with boys.
Tina Meier has said she had monitored 95 percent of the online activity of her 13-year-old daughter, Megan Meier.
Under questioning by defense attorney Dean Steward, Meier also said she did not recall a report from a psychologist that her daughter was portraying herself with sexual innuendo during online activities."Don't you remember her portraying herself as an 18-year-old?" Steward asked."No I don't," Meier said.

The testimony came during the trial of Lori Drew, who is accused of conspiring with her then 13-year-old daughter, Sarah, and Drew's then 18-year-old assistant, Ashley Grills, to dream up a fictitious identity on MySpace to find out what Megan saying about Sarah.
Megan, who was being treated for depression and attention deficit disorder, committed suicide in 2006 after receiving cruel messages from a fictitious boy who prosecutors say was created as part of the hoax.
Drew has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing computers without authorization. Each count carries a potential sentence of five years in prison.
It's believed to be the nation's first cyber-bullying trial and its results could set a legal precedent for dealing with the issue of online harassment.
Steward told jurors Drew did not violate the Computer Use and Fraud Act -- used in the past to address computer hacking -- and reminded them she was not facing charges dealing with the suicide.
Under cross-examination, Tina Meier also said she had reprimanded her daughter after discovering in the summer of 2006 that Megan and Sarah had together created a false identity for a fictional girl named Kelly on MySpace. Meier said her daughter was "boy crazy."
In other testimony, Christina Chu, a hair stylist, testified that she was upset when Lori Drew told her she had helped set up a fake MySpace account to get back at an unnamed girl. Chu said Drew showed no response when Chu told her that was wrong.
Drew returned to the hair salon on the day of Megan's wake, and employees asked why she and her family had decided to attend."'It's not like I pulled the trigger,"' Chu quoted Drew as saying.
Grills was expected testify later in the day with immunity from prosecution.
While the trial is expected to center on the social networking site's terms of service, most of the first day's testimony dealt with Megan's suicide.
A composed Tina Meier told jurors her daughter was taking medication for attention deficit disorder and depression and that she struggled with low self-esteem.
"I was nervous she would do something," said Meier, adding that Megan previously tried committing suicide.
Meier said Megan was bullied at the Missouri school she attended with Sarah. Megan transferred to a private school months before she killed herself.

Caylee Sighting Reported; New Video Released

Anthony Family Not Giving Up Hope That Granddaughter Is Alive
November 21, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Prosecutors released new video Friday of interviews with Cindy and George Anthony -- the same day the couple showed off a photo they said is a possible sighting of their granddaughter alive.

The photo, which was given to the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the FBI, shows a little girl playing in a West Florida mall. The Anthony family asked media outlets to release the photo to the public.

Earlier this week, the OCSO announced it believed Caylee Anthony was dead and was abandoning efforts to find her alive. The agency said the decision was based on evidence collected.

Caylee's mother, Casey Anthony, is charged with killing Caylee, who was 2 when she was reported missing in July. She has not been found.

The photo was released on the same day prosecutors released five DVDs showing FBI investigators' interviews with Casey Anthony's parents. The interviews were conducted in late July and are the latest in evidence released in the case.

During one interview, George Anthony said another investigator told him that as many as 1,200 photos of Casey Anthony "are out there -- she's done some bad things."

Anthony describes his daughter as a young woman who has been weaving a web of lies for months. He also said he expects his daughter to get jail time.

The videotapes of FBI interviews done with George and Cindy Anthony in late July also reveal in the months leading up to Caylee's disappearance, Casey Anthony was leading a life her parents claim they knew nothing about.

"She's going to be going away. I know deep in my heart she is," George Anthony said. "If there was some way I could get to her and talk to her…your life as you know it is over…"

George Anthony admits hiding from his wife and son the fact that sheriff’s detectives had found over 1,000 provocative photos of Casey retrieved from the family's computers, cameras and online.

Later in the interview, George Anthony all but admits the odor he smelled in his daughters car was the odor of decomposition. He also reveals that Casey Anthony was stealing cash from Caylee's piggy bank.

In another interview, Cindy Anthony points to friends of her daughter as being involved in Caylee's disappearance.

She said if her daughter was being quiet it was only to protect Caylee.

Judge dismisses weapons charges against Peterson

WILL COUNTY Judge drops gun charges, erasing prison threat

November 21, 2008
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporter

A jubilant Drew Peterson hugged and kissed his attorneys Thursday after they persuaded a Will County judge to dismiss two felony weapons charges that could have sent him to prison for up to five years.

"There was a potential to put me in prison for this. This is a happy day for me," Peterson said outside the Joliet courthouses after embracing his attorneys, Joel Brodsky and Andrew Abood.

The ruling by Judge Richard Schoenstedt came after prosecutors refused to turn over internal investigative documents -- including correspondence between their office and State Police -- sought by Peterson's defense team. The order means Peterson -- a former Bolingbrook cop who has been named a suspect in the 2007 unsolved disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy -- does not face any criminal charges.

Prosecutors, though, pledged to promptly appeal the dismissal, which could result in the charges of unlawful use of weapons being reinstated against the 54-year-old Peterson, who had been set to stand trial on those charges beginning Dec. 5.

"We disagree with the judge's ruling. We're very confident we'll prevail on appeal," said Charles Pelkie, a spokesman for Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow.

But if an appellate court declines to reinstate the charges, prosecutors can't legally refile the charges, which alleged that Peterson possessed an illegally modified assault rifle.

The charges stem from a November 2007 search of his home just days after his 23-year-old wife disappeared. Police recovered about a dozen weapons from the home, including the assault rifle.

Peterson's attorneys were seeking the internal investigative documents as they prepared to argue at trial that State Police vindictively targeted Peterson for prosecution.

Peterson in February won a court order seeking the return of the weapons. But before the guns could be returned, State Police revoked his firearm owner's identification card. The weapons charges weren't filed against Peterson until May -- just before a judge was to rule on whether the guns could be given to Peterson's adult son. After Peterson was charged, he was allowed to transfer the guns to his son.

Abood suggested that prosecutors Thursday refused to hand over the documents -- even at the risk of having the weapons charges dismissed -- to avoid having to try a case he called "extremely problematic."

"They're out of the case -- and the case had a lot of problems," Abood said.
Pelkie bristled at that description, saying prosecutors were confident they could convict Peterson of the weapons charges.

Pelkie called Schoenstedt's ruling "unprecedented," saying it would have given Peterson's lawyers access to confidential internal documents, likely including e-mails and memos between police and prosecutors.

"What he [Peterson] was asking for was essentially a fishing trip," Pelkie said, adding that if unchallenged, the ruling would "have opened a Pandora's box for prosecutors in Illinois."

Peterson has insisted that Stacy voluntarily left him. The 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, is also under investigation after authorities exhumed her body, conducted a second autopsy and labeled her bathtub drowning a homicide.

House votes to allow hearsay in Drew Peterson case

November 20, 2008
Chicago Sun Times Staff Reporters

Will County prosecutors on Wednesday received a new legal weapon they can use to investigate the murder of one of Drew Peterson’s wives and the disappearance of another.

But it’s not clear if the measure overwhelmingly approved by the Illinois House will lead to criminal charges against the former Bolingbrook police sergeant — or if the law will pass constitutional muster.

The change in state law allows prosecutors to use at trial so-called "hearsay" evidence from witnesses who may have been murdered by a defendant to stop them from testifying.

Pushed by Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, the new state law could apply to Peterson’s missing fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, who vanished from their home in October 2007. State Police have labeled Drew Peterson a suspect in his 23-year-old wife’s "potential homicide."
A minister has contended that Stacy Peterson told him Drew Peterson had killed his previous wife, Kathleen Savio.

The law might also come into play in Savio’s 2004 drowning death. She sent a letter to a prosecutor that said Peterson "knows how to manipulate the system, and his next step is to take my children away. Or kill me instead."

Glasgow insisted the law isn’t designed to target Drew Peterson or any specific individual, but said he intends to "aggressively" use the new measure. "I expect to use this law aggressively in any case where it applies," Glasgow said.

The new law left the 54-year-old Peterson unfazed as he prepared for a Will County court appearance Thursday on a gun charge stemming from a police search of his home after Stacy vanished.

"There’s rumors every time," Peterson said Wednesday, adding that he expects his court appearance to be nothing more than "another day in beautiful downtown Joliet."

The new law allows a judge to determine whether previous statements made by a murder victim could be admitted as trial evidence if prosecutors prove the defendant is responsible for the witness not being able to testify personally.

Because the Senate last week approved changes to the bill made by Gov. Blagojevich, the House action allows the legislation to take effect immediately.

Even before the law passed the House on a 109-0 vote with one representative voting 'present', Peterson’s name came up. Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) pressed the bill’s chief House sponsor, Rep. Coreen Gordon (D-Coal City), on whether the legislation related to the "fact pattern" of the Peterson case.

"I have no knowledge of that," Gordon replied. "When this bill becomes law, it would apply in every single case. It would apply to all victims."

The legislation is known as the "Drew Peterson bill" at the Statehouse. A GOP staff analysis goes so far as to say the legislation is "in response to the Drew Peterson case."

But its Democratic sponsors have walked on legislative eggshells to avoid linking the ex-cop’s name to the bill.

That likely is because of a provision in the state Constitution that bars the General Assembly from passing "special legislation" pertaining to an individual or a particular business.

The bill also could face challenges under the U.S. Constitution, where a recent decision seems to signal justices want to limit the use of most hearsay evidence, legal scholars said.

"We don’t really know what’s going to happen to it," said DePaul University law professor Leonard Cavise, who nonetheless noted there are "a whole raft" of exceptions to hearsay rules that have been deemed constitutional.

Stacy Peterson’s family supports the law, even if it isn’t used to prosecute Drew Peterson.
"Regardless of what happens to Drew Peterson, that’s a good law to pass," said Pam Bosco, a spokeswoman for Stacy Peterson’s family. "It’s good for everyone in Illinois to have a law like this.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mark NeJame Suddenly Resigns As Anthonys' Attorney

Thursday, November 20, 2008 –

ORLANDO, Fla. -- In a surprise move Thursday, Cindy and George Anthony's high-profile attorney resigned as their lawyer.

"Unfortunately, I have made the decision that it is best not to continue my representation of George and Cindy Anthony," NeJame wrote in a statement released Thursday afternoon by his law firm (read full statement).

NeJame represented only Cindy and George Anthony, not Casey, and said he was working to help them as they searched for their missing granddaughter, Caylee.

"George and Cindy have a belief that their beloved granddaughter, Caylee, is still alive. Tips and leads continue to come in. I believe strongly that they should have every right to maintain their hope and faith that one of these “sightings” will miraculously be the one that brings Caylee home to them. What parent or grandparent would surrender such hope?" NeJame wrote.

NeJame, in his resignation letter, seemed frustrated with the Anthonys' willingness to do what they want and comment publicly to the media against his advice.

"Although I was quite successful in resolving a multitude of matters, I am unable to go further to help George and Cindy find Caylee in my current role. I can only provide my best advice and just respect any client’s prerogative to do what they deem is best, whether they choose to follow my guidance or not. However, there is little value or use I can provide to any client if they choose to act and comment at will," he wrote.

NeJame then turned his attention to what he called "inaccurate accusations."

"Some ignorant and judgmental members of the public though have made hateful and inaccurate accusations against me and others, when they had no idea whatsoever what was really going on. As my new, good friend, Tim Miller from EquuSearch, tells me 'everybody associated with this case gets body slammed.' However, like Tim, when you know in your heart that you’re doing the right thing, you just move forward knowing that right will ultimately win out. Some have falsely accused me and some others of being in this for the money. If they only knew how utterly wrong and misguided they are."

NeJame also pressed for respect for Cindy and George as they continue searching for Caylee.
"Allow Cindy and George Anthony the respect and decency of dealing with their hope and efforts to find their missing and beloved Caylee as they need to. Allow those with differing opinions on finding and searching for Caylee, whether she is with us or not, to do their jobs without interruption," he wrote.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Child killer Joseph Duncan III says he won't appeal death sentence

November 18, 2008
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A killer convicted of kidnapping and torturing two young siblings from Idaho says he doesn't plan to appeal his death sentence.

Joseph Edward Duncan III says in a letter filed Tuesday with a federal judge that any appeal initiated on his behalf was done against his wishes. The notice comes a day after Duncan's attorneys said he would appeal.

Duncan was given three death sentences and three life imprisonment sentences in federal court this year after kidnapping Dylan and Shasta Groene and killing the boy.

He was also given life in prison in state court for murdering their brother and their mother and her fiance.

Salt Lake City: LeBaron brothers seek incest law changes

Elend LeBaron says his suspicion of incest in his father's family was awful. But it was almost as difficult to learn a loophole in Utah law left prosecutors unable to do anything about it.

Now, he and two brothers are trying to get incest laws changed in Utah and two other states to broaden law enforcement's ability to go after the crime.

The legislature's criminal justice interim committee unanimously approved a bill proposed by Sen. Dennis Stowell , R-Parowan to apply the charge to a child conceived without sexual intercourse. It allows prosecutors to rely on genetic tests to build cases, and extends the reporting period for incest from four to seven years.

An amendment added Wednesday morning to the proposed bill clarifies that the law would not prohibit use of fertilized human eggs in surrogate pregnancies, as long as the sperm and egg came from unrelated individuals.

Stowell said Utah would be the first state to adopt such legislation if the bill is eventually approved.

Elend LeBaron of Delta told the committee that he and two brothers had long been suspicious about who was fathering children with two of their adult sisters. A year ago, they secretly obtained genetic samples that "transformed our suspicion into a very hard reality."

The tests found a high probability that two children, one from each sister, were fathered by their father and most likely another brother.

Elend LeBaron said they met with their father and siblings to confront them with the genetic evidence. During that meeting, one sister commented that artificial insemination was not illegal.
Prosecutors later confirmed that Utah law defines incest as sexual intercourse.

Troy A. Little, chief deputy Iron County Attorney, said his office interviewed Elend LeBaron's father and sisters but were unable to go forward with a prosecution because the family claimed the conceptions were the result of artificial insemination. Little said that a still unaddressed obstacle is how to prove jurisdiction for prosecuting the crime, which lawmakers also acknowledged was a problem.

"Incest isn't that difficult to figure out genetically but the location of the act is very difficult to figure out," said Steve Urquhart, R-St. George.

Elend LeBaron said before the hearing that it was embarrassing to disclose his family problems publicly.

"I am not real thrilled to go and tell everyone my dad does this," he said. "But after finding out what was going on, media coverage and legislation is the best hope in protecting my younger sister from this danger. What we are doing now will have no influence on the past. My objective is to change the law so that should more children be born, with DNA testing we can prosecute."

Their father is a member of the polygamous LeBaron clan, but broke away in the 1950s. In the 1970s, his uncle Ervil LeBaron murdered men he considered his rivals and later died in prison.
Elend LeBaron told the committee that incest has "been occurring in Utah amongst a number of polygamists for a very long time.

Girls in "some of these small religious organizations have been indoctrinated their entire lives to believe God wants them to marry and have children with their father, their brother or their uncle," he said.

The Utah Attorney General's Office has been investigating the polygamous Kingston clan for incest violations but has not filed any charges. The group has sanctioned marriages between half siblings and an uncle and niece in the past.

Elend LeBaron said his family members believe God "wants them to do this sort of thing" and that God will ensure no birth defects occur. He believes his father "fancies" that his younger sister and brother will together produce "the future leader's of God's kingdom.

"I believe in protecting religious freedom but incest of this nature crosses a very important line in as much as it is a crime against the unborn," Elend LeBaron said.

Mario Capecchi, a University of Utah professor and Nobel Prize-winning geneticist provided a written statement to the committee that said offspring of parent/child or brother-sister matings have a defect risk in the range of 25 percent to 50 percent. The genetic risk from first cousin matings -- legal in many states -- is approximately 6 percent to 8 percent.

John M. Opitz, a professor of pediatric genetics at the University of Utah told the committee first-degree relatives, such as a father and daughter, share 50 percent of their genes and thus have an "exponentially" greater risk of malformations, mental retardation and mortality.

OCSO Abandons Hope To Find Caylee Anthony Alive

Spokesman Says FBI Evidence Proves Toddler Is Dead
November 19, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orange County Sheriff's Office exclusively told WESH 2 News that they are no longer following up on any tips that suggest Caylee Anthony is alive.
On Friday, the group Kid Finders plans to hold a press conference to explain why they think Caylee is alive.
A sheriff's spokesman said Caylee is dead and they're moving on.
Sheriff's Office spokesman Carlos Padilla said they are confident that FBI lab tests on evidence found in Casey Anthony's car prove Caylee is dead. He said that is backed up by the grand jury's murder indictment of Casey Anthony.
"We cannot continue to look when we have no evidence whatsover that she's alive," he said.
Grandfather George Anthony said his group, Kid Finders, is still getting reports of live sightings of Caylee. They have no reason to believe Caylee is dead.

Investigators said they are also concerned that if they continue to follow up on live sightings, it could help Casey Anthony's defense establish reasonable doubt about whether Caylee is deceased.

George Anthony To Become Kid Finders Spokesman

George Anthony said he plans to act as a spokesman for the group helping him search for his missing granddaughter, Caylee Anthony.

Anthony said he wants to help the Kid Finders Network get established and grow their organization in Orlando.

Kid Finders has been the subject of some controversy lately. Some have called in to question just how many missing children Kid Finders has actually found.

At the group's headquarters Wednesday, Anthony said the organization has been helpful to his family since the day after Caylee was reported missing. Anthony said he is more than willing to become a spokesman for the group. He has no doubts about their motives or sincerity.

"I'll be a spokesman for them. I'm willing to make their organization grow and help the 14 kids my granddaughter included but other kids," said George Anthony.

A spokeswoman for Kid Finders has taken issue with recent reports that they have not actually found a missing child. She said they do things to raise awareness like print up fliers and T-shirts and billboards. She said that it is very possible that their efforts have helped find missing children.