July 3, 2015

New state law provides more oversight for sex offenders

Unfortunately there is no known advocate in TN fighting nonsensical laws. Lawmakers failed to do their research, in Georgia lawmakers also tried to force registrants to provide passwords, but federal court issued an injunction which stopped the state from requiring passwords. see White v Baker. Also in Utah the "password" issue -along with several others- was taken to court; the case ultimately ended in the U.S. Supreme court. However, the legislature REMOVED the password requirement along the way so that issue did not goto the high court but other issues did. See Doe v Shurtleff. Apparently lawmakers have little respect for rights of registrants! Makes one wonder how they got elected.
7-3-5 Tennessee:

ACKSON, Tenn. -- A new state law grants greater oversight on registered sex offenders who use social media.

Previously, sexual offenders had to provide the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation with their email addresses and screen names.

Now the law requires all registered offenders to provide email addresses plus usernames and passwords to all Internet accounts.

Local law enforcement said they hope the changes will increase safety for everyone.

"It's serious, and we talk about it all the time," said Madison County Sheriff John Mehr. "Children will get on the computer, they will chat with people when they think it's their age and in fact the person is 40 years old."

The sheriff also said this is a small step in the social media requirements for registered sex offenders. More changes are expected in the future. ..Source.. by WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News Staff

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July 2, 2015

3 charged with Troy arson now face murder charges

Posted in Related Deaths (Note: The persons who started the fire were targeting a sex offender who also lived in the building.)
7-2-15 New York:

TROY -- Three people were arraigned Thursday in Rensselaer County Court for their alleged roles in a Lansingburgh fire that caused an 82-year-old woman to have a fatal heart attack.

Last week, a grand jury handed up first- and second-degree murder charges against Tyler Smith, 24, of Castleton; and Abbey Slaga, 20, and David Stanley, 22, both of Frankliton, N.C.

Grace Halpin was rescued from the May 1 fire at 520 Second Ave. but died nearly a month later.

Smith, Slaga and Stanley previously were charged with arson in connection with the fire.

They also are charged with assault, criminal mischief, burglary and 10 counts of reckless endangerment, one for each of the other residents of 520 Second Ave. who escaped the blaze.

Halpin had a heart attack at the scene and was revived but died May 23 in a rehabilitation center, officials have said.

"This has been a very difficult time for the family," Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove said last week. "They lost a vibrant, active 82-year-old relative."

According to court documents, witnesses said the three had an ongoing feud with a man who lived on the second floor of the building. A witness who lived in the building said she heard a commotion just after 2 a.m.

"I heard someone run up the inside common stairs and yell 'You (expletive) rapist' and then I heard a 'pop, pop' noise then another loud pop sound," the woman wrote in her statement. She said the speaker was a man.

Officials have declined to say how the fire was set, but a witness gave a statement that said he saw someone throw a Molotov cocktail into the building.

A video from the night of the fire taken from across the street appeared to show three people fleeing the building, one of them with his pants on fire.

The fire spread to 518 Second Ave. Both buildings were heavily damaged and are boarded up. ..Source.. by TimesUnion.com

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June 30, 2015

Party-Line Vote Kills Runner’s Sex-Offender Residency Bill

6-30-15 California:

Sen. Sharon Runner announced Tuesday her legislation to make sex-offender residency restrictions more workable, while keeping the integrity of voter approved Jessica’s Law intact was struck down by the Senate Public Safety Committee. Senate Bill 54 sought to clarify confusion caused by In Re Taylor, the recent decision of the California Supreme Court regarding CDCR’s enforcement of sex offenders in San Diego County.

SB 54 was killed on a party-line vote, with the committee’s liberal majority voting against the measure.

“I am disappointed the Democrats on the Senate Public Safety Committee do not understand the importance of this bill,” said Runner, R-Antelope Valley. “The California Supreme Court decision creates uncertainty. County governments need a clear process to protect voter approved residency restrictions when possible and expedite relief when necessary. SB 54 provided much needed clarity.”

SB 54 would have granted the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of each county primary jurisdiction to consolidate and hear petitions challenging the 2,000 foot residency restriction as laid out in Jessica’s Law. The Court could grant relief if it was established that there was a pervasive lack of compliant housing in a particular county.

The bill also clarified how 2,000 feet should be measured and ensured only violent sex offenders would be subject to the residency restriction.

“As an author of Jessica’s Law, I continue to stand behind the package of reforms that have made California’s communities safer,” said Runner. “The residency restrictions outlined in Jessica’s Law protect the safety of California’s children.”

Runner authored voter-approved Jessica’s Law along with her husband, Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner, in 2006. In addition to mandatory residency restrictions for sex offenders, the comprehensive law increased penalties for the most egregious sex offenses and provides law enforcement with more tools to impede, apprehend and incarcerate sex offenders.

SB 54 garnered support from law enforcement and public safety groups including the Association of Code Enforcement Officers, Association of Deputy District Attorneys, California College and University Police Chiefs Association, California Narcotics Officers Association, Crime Victims United, the Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the Los Angeles Police Protective League and the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association. ..Source.. by Press Release

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June 27, 2015

Grand Rapids man wrongfully imprisoned blames police

6-27-15 Michigan:

GRAND RAPIDS – A Grand Rapids-area man who spent nearly 17 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit said poor police work landed him behind bars.

Quentin Carter's conviction was erased by a Kent County judge Thursday, a few weeks after prosecutor William Forsyth apologized and said the 1992 case was wrong.

"You can't describe it. You can only be happy," Carter, 40, told WOOD-TV.

He said he missed his grandmother — "my biggest supporter — while he was in prison. He also had surgery and chemotherapy for a brain tumor behind bars but no family or friends were around to help him recover.

Carter was almost 17 when he was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct against a 10-year-old girl. He was steadfast in declaring his innocence and refused sex offender therapy, which hurt his chances for an earlier parole. He was released from prison in 2008.

Police in recent months learned that a man had coerced the girl and her mother to blame Carter for the 1991 assault because of an unpaid debt.

"Grand Rapids Police Department — they are to blame, not me, not the victims," Carter said. "The victim was told to tell that I did it. It was your job to figure out did I do it or not, but you didn't do your job."

After a new investigation, Forsyth said he came to the "inescapable conclusion" that Carter was innocent. Judge George Buth ordered state police to remove him from Michigan's sex offender registry.

Now, said Carter, "you got to move on with your life." ..Source.. by Lansing State Journal

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Official: Lightning may have killed 25-year-old man on Port Orange roof

6-27-15 New Jersey:

PORT ORANGE — A 25-year-old man working on a roof was killed Friday, and witnesses say they believe lightning may have struck the victim, according to a city official.

Steven Lee Gang of Orange City was working on a roof in the Water’s Edge subdivision of southern Port Orange when he was possibly struck about 4:30 p.m. Friday, said Ken Burgman, deputy director of Port Orange fire services.

Emergency workers reported “no code, no vitals” upon their arrival at 1693 Arash Circle, Burgman said.

Police are investigating, and an autopsy is tentatively scheduled for Monday, Port Orange police spokesman Lt. Scott Brozio said.

Neighbors said they believe Gang may have been cleaning the roof when he was downed. One of Gang’s boots remained on the rear of the roof Friday afternoon just a few feet from where police believe he was standing when he was struck. Gang’s body had been moved to the ground on the side of the house prior to the Medical Examiner’s arrival.

An estimated 300 to 400 lightning strikes were recorded in Volusia County between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon, said Arlena Moses, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Melbourne. The agency issued a weather advisory at 3:48 p.m. Friday for Volusia County, indicating a strong thunderstorm just east of Spruce Creek near Port Orange was drifting east toward the coast. The strongest storms were between Daytona Beach and the Volusia/Brevard county line, Moses said.

Several people from the neighborhood gathered across the street as police investigated the death of Gang, a registered sex offender who updated his location June 16 to identify him as homeless.

Gary James, who lives around the corner from the Arash Circle home, said he remembered hearing the lightning pop and, though it was louder than James is used to hearing during storms, he didn’t think anything of it until he saw law enforcement’s flashing lights.

“What was he doing up on the roof in that weather?” James, 49, said, shaking his head. “It’s just tragic.”

So far this year, 11 people have been killed by lightning across the nation, including a Largo man killed June 19 on Florida’s west coast.

An 11-year-old Georgia boy was struck by lightning June 9 in Daytona Beach Shores, while fishing with his father in the ocean. His family says he’s in rehabilitation.

Florida leads the nation in lightning fatalities, with a total of 47 deaths between 2005 and 2014. According to the National Lightning Detection Network, the state receives an average of 1.2 million strikes per year.

This week is the annual lightning safety awareness week for the National Weather Service.

June, July and August are the peak months for lightning activity and lightning-related deaths, according to John Jensenius, a lightning specialist for the National Weather Service. Most fatal victims are male, and more than 90 percent of the deaths happen while the victims are either fishing or participating in other sporting events.

In safety literature, the weather service has urged people to adopt the motto: “When thunder roars, go indoors.” ..Source.. by Katie Kustura

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Lansingburgh arson: Trio charged with murder


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June 25, 2015

Touching Someone Inappropriately on Subway or Bus to Come With One Year Jail Sentence for New Yorkers

6-25-15 New York:

Miscellaneous "sexual contact" goes from Class B to Class A misdemeanor when it takes place on train or bus.

Last week, the New York state legislature passed a bill enhancing the penalties for inappropriate touching "on a bus, train, or subway car." Under the new rule, which has not yet been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, anyone convicted may be fined $1,000 and sentenced to one year in jail or three years of probation.

Currently, "forcible touching"—which includes "squeezing, grabbing or pinching" someone's "sexual or other intimate parts"—is a class A misdemeanor sex offense while "sexual abuse in the third degree," defined as any "sexual contact without [another person's] consent," is a class B misdemeanor. As such, third-degree sexual abuse carries a maximum penalty of three months in jail and a $500 fine.

The new legislation raises miscellaneous "sexual contact"—defined as the "touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person not married to the actor for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of either party [including] the touching of the actor by the victim, as well as the touching of the victim by the actor, whether directly or through clothing"— from a Class B to a Class A misdemeanor when it takes place on (public or private) buses and trains. "New Yorkers use public transit each and every day to get where they need to go," said bill sponsor Aravella Simota (D-Queens), "and no one should be afraid of being inappropriately touched or groped against their will when they get on the bus, train or subway." ..Continued.. by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

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Woman who claimed self defense in fatal stabbing near Bullitt County rest stop now charged with murder

6-25-15 Kentucky:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A California woman told investigators she fatally stabbed a man in self defense near a Bullitt County rest stop last week, but police now say it was murder.

Shepherdsville police held a press conference Thursday morning to discuss the case.

Nicole Skyberg, 26 is accused of stabbing 45-year-old Aaron Jerrell on Saturday. Officers found Jerrell's body on an exit ramp near a rest stop along Interstate 65.

Police have confirmed that Jerrell, who is from Alabama, was a registered sex offender.

Police say Skyberg, who has been a person of interest from the start, was a passenger in the car with Jerrell.

Investigators initially told WDRB that Skyberg may have stabbed Jerrell in self defense. No charges were filed against her after she was interviewed over the weekend, but police say that has since changed.

"The investigation continued," said Officer Ken Bernadi. "We talked to more witnesses, examined more physical evidence, and after meeting with the Commonwealth Attorney's office, an arrest warrant obtained."

We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available. ..Source.. by Danielle Lama

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Last inmate sentenced in jail attack

6-25-15 West Virginia:

HUNTINGTON - With the final punishment now ordered, nobody will serve additional prison time for their role in the attempted killing of another inmate at Western Regional Jail.

James Roy Michael Keeney, 49, of Huntington, received a 1- to 5-year prison sentence Monday, but Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson ordered he serve it simultaneous to a 40-year prison sentence from a prior conviction.

Keeney pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding in connection to the Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, 2013, attack on suspected sex offender Zachary Matthew Lawson, then 18. Court documents indicate the attack involved an apparent beating and choking.

An April 2015 indictment initially charged Keeney, three additional prisoners and four correctional officers. The case ends with convictions against three prisoners and all charges dismissed against the remaining five defendants.

Others pleading guilty in the case were the already-convicted murderer Steven Lee Adkins, 29, of Apple Gove, West Virginia, and burglar James Dennis Galloway, 37, of Charleston. Ferguson also allowed their sentences - 3 to 15 years and 1 to 3 years respectively - to be served simultaneously to prior convictions.

Galloway already received parole, according to the state Division of Corrections.

Keeney's prior conviction involved five counts of burglary, along with single counts of first-degree robbery and assault during the commission of a felony in Cabell County. He initially faced charges of attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy in the Lawson attack.

The court cited insufficient evidence and a defect in the indictment, along with perjured and misleading statements during that grand jury session among reasons for dismissing charges against the remaining defendants.

The punishment was among others recently ordered by Ferguson, along with fellow Cabell Circuit Judges Paul T. Farrell and Chris Chiles.

WHITE: Farrell ordered Jeffrey White II to serve three years probation, including one with home confinement. The ruling came after Farrell suspended a 1- to 15-year prison sentence.

White, 33, of Ironton, entered a Kennedy plea to possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and misdemeanor child neglect.

A September 2014 indictment initially charged White with three counts of child neglect creating risk of injury and two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.

FARLEY: Farrell ordered Andrew Joseph Farley to a 1- to 10-year prison sentence with drug treatment. Farley, 33, entered a Kennedy plea to entering a building other than a dwelling. Farley agreed to enter the plea without a grand jury indictment.

The case involved Trinity Episcopal Church in Huntington, according to court officials.

JUSTICE: Farrell ordered Luke Andrew Justice to a 1- to 3-year prison sentence with drug treatment. Justice, 35, of Huntington's 1100 block of 9th Avenue Rear, pleaded guilty to attempt to commit a felony.

A January 2015 indictment initially charged Justice with two counts of counterfeiting and one count of failure to process. He also has been the subject of additional charges since the initial arrest in 2013, according to court officials.

ANDERSON: Farrell ordered Thomas Paul Anderson to serve five years probation after suspending a 1- to 3-year prison sentence. Anderson, 50, of Huntington's 400 block of Adams Avenue, had pleaded guilty to attempt to commit a felony.

A September 2014 indictment initially charged Anderson with entry of a building other than a dwelling.

SLAYTON: Farrell ordered Jeremy Scott Slayton to placement at the state's Anthony Center for youthful offenders with drug treatment after suspending a 10-year prison sentence. Slayton, 21, of Huntington, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, agreeing to do so without a grand jury indictment.

MCKINNEY: Chiles ordered Roger Alan McKinney to a 1-year jail sentence. McKinney, 52, of Naoma, West Virginia, entered a Kennedy plea to fraudulent schemes.

An October 2014 indictment initially charged McKinney with two counts of forgery and single counts of fraudulent schemes, uttering and permitting driving under the influence of alcohol. ..Source.. by Curtis Johnson

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