June 14, 2012

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (AP) — A former police detective who blamed the antidepressant Zoloft for his behavior was found guilty Wednesday of kidnapping and raping a waitress at gunpoint in a brutal attack.

A San Bernardino County jury will now have to determine whether Anthony Nicholas Orban was sane at the time of the attack.

Orban’s attorney argued during trial that his client suffered a psychotic break because he was taking Zoloft and was effectively unconscious when he kidnapped the woman in the Ontario Mills mall parking lot in San Bernardino County.

Prosecutors say the off-duty officer used his service weapon to force the woman to drive to a self-storage lot, where he sexually assaulted her and shoved a gun in her mouth on April 3, 2010. The woman escaped when Orban was distracted by an incoming cellphone call, prosecutors said.

Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus declined to comment on the verdict, noting the sanity phase of the trial begins Tuesday.

Orban, a 32-year-old who served in the Marines in Iraq, had pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to eight counts, including kidnap and rape. Defense attorney James Blatt said the crux of the case is not the elements of the crime but whether his client was aware of what he was doing.

Blatt said his client had been taking Zoloft for six months, but had gone off the medication and recently restarted it. Orban does not recall the incident, Blatt said.

“This is something that appears to be totally out of character for him,” Blatt said.

If Orban is found to have been sane, he could face a life sentence, Blatt said. If he is found to have been insane, he would be sent to a mental institution for treatment.

The woman, who was 25 at the time of the attack, testified that Orban sexually assaulted her, punched her, choked her, stuck a gun in her mouth and took cellphone photos of her. She told jurors that the attacker did not appear disoriented or unconscious, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

But she also testified that at the end of the attack, he looked at her and asked: “Who are you? How did I get here? Whose car is this?”

A friend of Orban’s, Jeff Jelinek, testified against him. Prosecutors said the former prison guard and Orban had been drinking at the mall and Jelinek was standing next to Orban during the kidnapping and picked him up after the attack.

In a plea deal with prosecutors, Jelinek pleaded no contest last year to being an accessory, false imprisonment and assault.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

June 14, 2012

By DON THOMPSON | Associated Press

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Everything is bigger in Texas, the saying goes, and that is now also true of its prison system.

California used to have the nation’s largest state prison system, topping 173,000 inmates at its peak in 2006. But since a law took effect last year that shifts responsibility for less serious criminals to county jails, the state has reduced its prison population and is no longer the largest in the nation.

California now has fewer than 136,000 state inmates, eclipsed by about 154,000 in Texas. Florida previously was third, according to 2010 figures from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, and currently has about 100,000 inmates.

The reduction in California was ordered by federal judges in a decision backed last year by the U.S. Supreme Court. The courts ruled crowded prisons were causing poor care of sick and mentally ill inmates.

The news comes as the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Wednesday announced a new round of layoffs because fewer guards and other employees are needed as the inmate population shrinks.

“I believe we’re No. 2,” said Jeffrey Callison, the department’s press secretary.

The population dropped by nearly 25,000 inmates from about 160,000 inmates when the law took effect last fall. The courts ordered the state to reduce the population by about 33,000 inmates in the state's 33 adult prisons by June 2013, though corrections officials now argue they can provide acceptable inmate care without meeting that deadline.

The 33,000 inmate reduction is larger than the entire 2010 prison population in 37 other states.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

June 14, 2012

By PETE YOST |

Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON (AP)   A House committee looking into a flawed gun-smuggling probe in Arizona announced Monday that it will consider holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress next week for failing to produce some documents the panel is seeking.

The committee has scheduled a contempt vote for June 20.

To date, the Justice Depart­ment has produced 7,600 pages of material to the committee.

Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says Congress needs to examine records regarding the Justice Department's conduct following public disclosures in early 2011 that hundreds of guns illicitly purchased at gun shops on the U.S. side of the border wound up in Mexico, many of them at crime scenes.

The Justice Department says many of the documents being sought deal with open criminal investigations and prosecutions   matters relating to sensitive law enforcement activities that cannot be disclosed.

“The Justice Department is out of excuses,” House Speaker John Boehner said Monday. “Congress has given Attorney General Holder more than enough time to fully cooperate with its investigation into Fast and Furious,” the name of the flawed law enforcement operation.

Issa said Congress has an obligation “to investigate unanswered questions about attempts to smear whistleblowers, failures by Justice Department officials to be truthful and candid with the congressional investigation and the reasons for the significant delay in acknowledging reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said that “from the beginning, Chairman Issa has distorted the facts, ignored testimony and flung inaccurate accusations at the attorney general and others, and this latest move fits within that tired political playbook that has so many Americans disillusioned with Washington.”

In a letter to Issa, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the move toward a contempt vote was premature because there have been productive staff discussions in two meetings over the past few weeks.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the attorney general has appeared eight times on Capitol Hill where he has undergone questioning about the problems in Fast and Furious.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, whose investigation first turned up problems in Operation Fast and Furious, said the action by the House committee “is straightforward and necessary. Contempt is the only tool Congress has to enforce a subpoena.”

 

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

June 14, 2012

Crystal Barnes, formerly Director of Industry Relations, was named Vice President of Industry Relations for Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights, effective immediately. In her role, Barnes is responsible for expanding the reach of Nielsen’s thought leadership efforts across the media and consumer industries, focusing on the increasingly diverse and connected consumer.

 

Barnes began at Nielsen in 2004 as part of the company’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). As an Emerging Leader Associate, she was exposed to various industries and expertise across the company. Upon completion of the program, Barnes worked in public affairs and was instrumental in the expansion of Nielsen’s multicultural outreach efforts, strengthening the company’s communications and public affairs program.

 

Since her appointment to the industry relations position, she has developed and managed strategic alliances with industry and business associations within the global business community. Barnes applies significant strategic and tactical skills to expand and transform the company's position in the industry, both with traditional and new associations in the digital space.

 

Prior to joining Nielsen, Barnes held production and communications positions at WHP, a CBS affiliate in Harrisburg, Penn. and Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, MD. A native of Pennsylvania, she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcast Tele­com­munications and Mass Media from Temple University.

 

 

 

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Category: News

June 07, 2012

By SARAH BRUMFIELD | Associated Press

 

BALTIMORE (AP) — A victim left partially blinded by a baseball bat attack at a Maryland university now believes a cannibalism suspect in another case may have been planning to eat his organs, too, his attorney said Tuesday.

When 22-year-old Joshua Ceasar regained consciousness after the attack last month at a Morgan State University dormitory apartment, he saw Alex Kinyua standing over him with a knife, said attorney Steve Silverman. Days later, Kinyua told investigators that he had eaten the heart and brain of a family friend he is charged with killing at his family’s home in Joppatowne, according to charging documents.

“In hindsight, knowing what transpired only days later, Josh is convinced that Alex was going to cut open his body and likely consume his organs,” Silverman said. What may have prevented it was two other apartment residents followed a blood trail from the front door and stopped Kinyua before he could use the knife and he fled into nearby woods.

Campus police charged Kinyua with assault and reckless endangerment in the bat attack. Prosecutors asked a court commissioner to refuse bail, but he was freed on $220,000 bail, according to the State’s Attorney’s office. Ceasar said Kinyua randomly attacked him, according to a probable cause statement obtained from Baltimore police. Witnesses told police that Kinyua attacked Ceasar with a bat, but the statement does not mention witnesses interrupting a knife attack in a back room.

Kinyua’s attorney could not be reached for comment.

Kinyua was waiting with a bat wrapped in barbed wire and chains when an unsuspecting Ceasar walked through the front door of the apartment Kinyua had been sharing with Ceasar’s friends on May 19, Silverman said. Ceasar was visiting campus for another friend’s graduation. He lost consciousness when Kinyua cracked him on the head, fracturing his skull and shattering his left eye socket. Ceasar is blind in that eye and doctors aren’t optimistic that he will regain his sight, Silverman said.

Kinyua, 21, a U.S. citizen originally from Kenya and a Morgan student, admitted using a knife to kill and carve up 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie before eating his organs, the Harford County Sheriff's Office said when they arrested him May 30. The older man, a native of Ghana, had been staying with the Kinyua family for about six weeks at their townhouse in the Baltimore suburb of Joppatowne and disappeared May 25. His body was found four days later; investigators haven’t given a possible motive.

Silverman said he is investigating if there were earlier signs that Kinyua was a danger.

“We are in the process of ... determining whether or not university officials should have or could have done anything in light of what was known to them to protect students, family and friends on campus for graduation,” he said. “It appears preliminarily there were a number of indicators.”

A December campus police report obtained by The Baltimore Sun states that Kinyua was kicked out of an ROTC program after he punched holes in the walls of the cadet computer lab and a military instructor referred to him as a “Virginia Tech waiting to happen.” The report said Kinyua was barred from campus until a meeting with school officials and that two officers didn’t think a psychological ­evaluation was needed.

The university is reviewing whether officials could have responded in a different way, said Morgan spokesman Clinton Coleman.

“At this point we believe the university did everything it should have,” he said. “You always have to bear in mind that you are dealing with student issues and young people and you have to deal with each person individually.”

Agyei-Kodie’s sister, Irene Konadu Asante, said the family would discuss the possibility of taking legal action on Thursday, following tradition in Ghana of waiting a week after a death before holding a family meeting.

She said the funeral would be held in Ghana, “whatever it takes,” but arrangements had not yet been made. When asked how her family is reacting to the horrific way in which her brother was killed, she said it is not easy.

“It’s not only my family — the way it hit the whole world,” Asante said. “It’s more than you can imagine.”

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