Manson family member Leslie Van Houten denied parole

Yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom denied Manson family member Leslie Van Houten's request for parole. This is the third time in three years that the California parole board has recommended Van Houten for parole. Former Governor Jerry Brown said no to the previous requests in 2016 and 2018. Van Houten is serving a sentence of life in prison for participating in the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in 1969 at Manson's direction. From CNN:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a parole release review that despite Van Houten's productive time in prison -- she earned a bachelor's and master's degrees and completed "extensive" self-help programming -- the negative factors of her involvement in the murders outweighed the positive factors.

"Ms. Van Houten and the Manson family committed some of the most notorious and brutal killings in California history," Newsom said. "When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time."

Newson said he understood Van Houten was 19 at the time of the crime and that a psychologist who evaluated her said it was likely "her involvement in the life offense was significantly impacted by characteristics of youth, including impulsivity, the inability to adequately foresee the long-term consequences of her behavior and the inability to manage her emotions that resulted from trauma."

Newson said that "without a deeper understanding of what led her to submit to Mr. Manson and participate in these horrific murders, I cannot be sure that Ms.

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Assange sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced Wednesday to 50 weeks in jail for skipping bail. Assange took refuge in London's Ecuadorean embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over two alleged sexual assaults, but was finally handed to the police earlier this month.

Sentencing him, Judge Deborah Taylor told Assange it was difficult to envisage a more serious example of the offence.

"By hiding in the embassy you deliberately put yourself out of reach, while remaining in the UK," she said.

She said this had "undoubtedly" affected the progress of the Swedish proceedings.

His continued residence at the embassy and bringing him to justice had cost taxpayers £16m, she added.

Assange apologized thus:

I apologise unreservedly to those who consider that I have disrespected them by the way I have pursued my case.

This is not what I wanted or intended.

I found myself struggling with terrifying circumstances for which neither I nor those from whom I sought advice could work out any remedy.

I did what I thought at the time was the best and perhaps the only thing that could be done - which I hoped might lead to a legal resolution being reached between Ecuador and Sweden that would protect me from the worst of my fears.

I regret the course that this took; the difficulties were instead compounded and impacted upon very many others.

Whilst the difficulties I now face may have become even greater, nevertheless it is right for me to say this now.

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Watch this motorcycle thief evade the fuzz

This is some artful cop dodgery. The low-key curb sit is a perfect touch.

(r/videos) Read the rest

Coyote chases off burglar

In Downey, California, southeast of Los Angeles, a gentleman breaking into a car was chased off by a neighborhood watch-coyote. Video evidence above. My favorite part is the thief peeking around the cars to see if the coyote was awaiting his return.

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Man attempts to walk an ATM home with him

This video depicts a man walking a presumed-stolen ATM down the street, then trying to haul it onto a bus.

"I'll split it with you," he says to the bus driver. The bus driver closes the doors, thereby declining the offer.

"We coulda made money together!" the man remonstrates as the bus pulls away. Read the rest

Man jailed for 2 years after DDOSing telescope forum that banned him

Banned from the Cloudy Nights telescope forums, IT consultant David Goodyear angrily posted its address on a skeevy hacking site with a request it get nailed. It was down for more than a week thanks to the resulting DDOS. The FBI knocked on his door. They made a show of being friendly and amused by the whole thing, and because middle-aged IT consultants think they're smarter than anyone else, Goodyear admitted everything while giving the officers a tour of his telescope collection. Now he's in jail for two years.

A jury found Goodyear responsible for one count of “intentional damage to a protected computer.” A judge sentenced him to a $2,500 fine, $27,352 in restitution, and 26 months in prison.

[Cloudy Nights' Michael] Bieler had assumed the case was closed until the FBI arrested Goodyear a year later and summoned Bieler to court. He was shocked when he learned about the length of the sentence. He never wanted Goodyear to be imprisoned at all, let alone for two years. “Honestly, I think it’s extreme, what happened,” he says. “We actually asked in our letter [to the court] that he not get prison time. We just wanted him to stop attacking our website.”

The 34-year-old Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which tech policy expert Tim Wu has called “the worst law in technology,” is controversial for many reasons. One of the most common is its harsh sentencing rules.

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Trailer for new Ted Bundy biopic starring Zac Efron

Following director Joseph Berlinger's Netflix docu-series "Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes," he brings us "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile," a Ted Bundy biopic starring Zac Efron as the alluring and horrible serial killer. The story is apparently told from the viewpoint of Bundy's girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer, played by Lily Collins.

Coming to Netflix on May 3.

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Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 felony counts for faking his assault

A grand jury indicted Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for falsely reporting that he was assaulted by two men who, he claimed, targeted the Empire actor because he is black and gay. The two men later told police that Smollett paid them to stage the attack as a publicity stunt that Smollett hoped would land him a raise. Smollett will be arraigned on Tuesday. From the Chicago Sun Times:

The indictment, which was made public on Friday, cites Smollett with disorderly conduct for each crime he said he had suffered, with separate counts related to statements he made the night of Jan. 29 to a police officer, and then for repeating the same account to a detective the same night. The charges all are Class 4 felonies, the lowest category of felony offense under Illinois law...

In a statement, Smollett’s attorney Mark Geragos said while the indictment is “not unexpected…What is unexpected however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts.”

“This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records. Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption.”

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Man stole a massive rare coin collection and dropped much of it into a Coinstar machine

A Palm Beach, Florida gentleman robbed his "friend" of a rare coin collection and dropped much of it into a Coinstar machine for just the face value in bills. According to the Palm Beach Post, Shane Anthony Mele, 40, confessed to robbing Michael Johnson's office of many items totaling $350,000 in value, including around 100,000 coins, "some worth just a little and some extremely valuable." From the Palm Beach Post:

(Mele) told investigators he took some coins to South Florida Coins & Jewelry in Lake Worth, where he said he got about $4,000. The store’s owner, George Hornberg, told The Palm Beach Post on Tuesday the total actually was $2,330.

Mele told police he dumped the rest of the collectibles in “Coin Star” machines at area grocery stores. People often trade large stashes of loose coins for store credit, minus a fee of as much as 11.9 percent.

That means if he dropped in the 33 presidential coins, valued at $1,000 each, he got about $29.30.

image: "Presidential $1 Coin Program" by Bill Koslosky, MD Read the rest

How Roger Stone's backfired testimony proves Judge Amy Berman Jackson is a damn boss

In an epic blog post, writer and law expert @emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler) dissects Thursday's hearing in court for Trump ratfucker and reckless Instagrammer Roger Stone. Read the rest

Deer-poaching woman brags on dating app to the wrong person

Cannon Harrison, 24, was on dating app Bumble when he connected with a woman in his area who quickly bragged to him that she had just shot a "bigo buck," a large deer, in the darkness. She even sent Harrison a photo posed with her prey and admitted that she had been "spotlighting," taking advantage of the real deer-in-the-headlights behavior to get an easier shot. The woman didn't know it at the time, but Harrison is a warden with Oklahoma’s Department of Wildlife Conservation. And not only is spotlighting against the law but the season for hunting deer with rifles is over. From the Washington Post:

“Honestly, the first thing I thought was that it was someone who was messing with me because they knew who I was,” he told The Washington Post. “It seemed too good to be true.”

Armed only with the woman’s first name, a photo and a rough sense of her location, Harrison searched through social media until he had figured out her identity. The next morning, game wardens showed up at her home...

The woman ultimately pleaded guilty to hunting deer out of season and possessing game that was taken illegally, Harrison said...

(She received a fine of) $2,400, according to the Tulsa World — a total that also includes the fines incurred by a man who had been out hunting with her and took home the buck’s head afterward. Because the woman has agreed to pay her share of the fines, she will not face jail time, Harrison said.

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Shoplifting suspect ran from police... to the police station

A Cincinnati gentleman, running from a police officer who spotted him shoplifting from Walmart, accidentally ran right to the rear entrance of the nearby police station.

According to police, "(Jeremy) Roberts made what can only be described as a tactical error and ran directly to the rear of the Cincinnati Police Department ... District 3 station, which is located just south of Walmart... and where he was 'greeted by numerous officers.'"

(WCPO, thanks Charles Pescovitz!) Read the rest

Celebrate the mystery of D.B. Cooper at this weekend's DBCooperCon in Portland!

In 1971, "DB Cooper" hijacked a plane from Portland, Oregon and eventually parachuted into the Pacific Northwest wilderness with $200,000 strapped to his body. He was never seen again. The D.B. Cooper tale continues to thrive in popular culture while sparking a seemingly endless stream of theories about the mystery man's identity. In fact, a new suspect was put forward just this week!

You can celebrate Saturday's anniversary of this captivating crime at the free DBCooperCon in Portland:

Please join us at the 2018 DB Cooper Conference and hear experts discuss all aspects of America's only unsolved hijacking. In addition, see a real Cooper $20 bill from the ransom money found, a parachute just like the one Cooper used, a tie clip just like the one Cooper left behind on the jet, and much more.

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Man arrested while attempting to destroy the Magna Carta

The Salisbury Journal's Rebecca Hudson reports that a 45-year-old man was arrested today after "smashing the case of the Magna Carta with a hammer and trying to destroy it."

A spokesman for Salisbury Cathedral said: "We can confirm that at the end of the afternoon yesterday, a man attempted to break into the case which houses Magna Carta in the Cathedral’s Chapter House. He was arrested by police shortly afterwards and taken into custody. We are very relieved that no one was hurt during the incident and that the Magna Carta itself is undamaged."

Magna Carta 1215 is the best surviving copy of one of Britain's most influential legal documents, and is on permanent display at Salisbury Cathedral. It is regarded by historians as the foundation of constitutional liberty in the English-speaking world.

Raging at limits on a monarch's absolute authority over other agents of the feudal state? Now that's dark enlightenment. The Forest Charter was the good one anyway, as far as the rest of us are concerned.

Photo: Wiltshire Police. Read the rest

London food couriers targeted by motorcycle thieves

London is increasingly a city on two wheels: it's huge, it's congested, and gasoline is comically expensive. Thieves are targeting bike couriers, taking their mopeds and scooters for single-time use in subsequent crimes (such as robberies), and this BBC investigation shows how violent they're getting with victims.

We’ve all got used to having food delivered to our doorsteps at all hours of the day and night. But spare a thought for the delivery riders, because they’re frequently finding themselves the target of armed bike and moped gangs, who attempt to steal their delivery vehicles to use to commit further crimes. To reveal just how dangerous it can be out there, we armed some of these drivers with cameras. Chris Rogers has the story.

As a former Londoner now living in America, I have to admit that I can't imagine this sort of casual, push-you-off-your-bike theft here. Americans call it a "polite society" but that's just their way of describing an "I will blow your head off if you come within 10 feet of my bike" society. The result is an insane yet normalized pandemic of gun violence, but hey, at least no-one is going to try and nick your motorcycle at the lights.

Some of the scenes are so amazing it seems like fiction. The police are so useless that couriers themselves are forming gangs to retaliate against thieves. It's like the first scene of Akira, but on little scooters going "iiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" and all they want to do is deliver lunch. Read the rest

Car thief photographed by victim

Who is this man? Dorset Police hope he can help them with their enquiries.

A woman confronted a suspected thief and took his photo as he was sitting in her stolen car. She spotted two men parked in her silver Ford Fiesta just two streets from where it was stolen in Lowther Road, Bournemouth, following a house burglary the night before.

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Ghostbuster arrested for firing gun at an apparition

Paranormal investigator Christian J. Devaux of Tolland, Connecticut called 911 to report an intruder in his home. While on the phone with the 911 operator, Devaux fired two shots at the intruder. Police finally arrived but found no evidence of a home invader. Devaux claimed it could have been a ghost. From the Journal Inquirer:

Troopers also found problems with Devaux’s sworn statement, where he described firing the two bullets as warning shots that he intentionally aimed over the intruder’s head. Investigators found that scenario unlikely, however, after a ballistic analysis showed that the two bullets had punctured a wall in Devaux’s home less than three feet off the floor.

After state police uncovered even more inconsistencies — including shell casings discovered in front of Devaux’s supposed firing location — Devaux told troopers that “there are some things he just can’t explain, like seeing ghosts.”

Devaux then told state police that he has been a paranormal investigator for five or six years and most recently encountered an apparition at the former Mansfield Training School and Hospital, investigators said. Devaux said that while he did not want to be considered “insane,” he had to allow for the possibility that the intruder was of supernatural origin.

Devaux was "charged with illegal discharge of a firearm, making a false statement to police, second-degree reckless endangerment, misusing an emergency call, and disorderly conduct." Apparently he had made a similar call in 2011 and police turned up no sign of an intruder then either.

"Man charged with firing gun at ‘ghost’" (Journal Inquirer) Read the rest

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