Who was Charles Carter and why did Vincent Smith shoot him

January 15, 2016

Vincent Smith, 62, shot and killed Charles Carter, 44, on Monday evening during an argument at Smith’s residence in Pottsboro, Texas. He told investigators from the Grayson County Sheriff’s Department that he shot Carter between the eyes in self-defense with a backup gun after Carter snatched his gun from his holster and threatened him. Alcohol was involved.

According to Mandy Sulzer, Carter’s girlfriend, The two men were friends who met when Smith rescued them from homelessness last month after Carter lost his job. Smith spent $1,000 to reaquire Carter’s possessions from a pawn shop and invited Carter and Sulzer to move into a motor home on his property.

Sulzer told the Herald Democrat that the relationship entered troubled waters about a week ago.

She said a possible reason why tensions were running high was due to control over a Facebook page. Both men were founders of “Paul Revere 2016: Final March to Restore America,” a far-right, anti-corruption march on Washington, D.C. planned for June. The march has the “final aim at removing the corrupt leadership that has taken over our beloved country and ousted her God and constitution,” Smith wrote on the organization’s website. Smith wrote the march would start on the West Coast and gain momentum as it continued cross-country until reaching the final destination of the District of Columbia.

Sulser was not present when the shooting took place Monday evening. She had left the property that morning to be with her family in Tyler. She said the night before, Smith had told her and Mr. Carter that they needed to leave.

“I wasn’t in the house whenever he (Smith) told him (Mr. Carter to leave), I was outside in the RV getting ready for bed, and Charles came in and told me that Vincent told him that we had to leave, that we couldn’t be there anymore,” Sulser said. “He was tired of us being there. He couldn’t be around Charles anymore and we had to go.”

The Grayson County Sheriff’s Department has not decided whether to charge Smith.

Would Charles Carter be alive today, if he and Vincent Smith were sober Monday night?

NYPD has filed internal disciplinary charges against a police sergeant for her role in contributing to Eric Garner’s death

January 8, 2016

Reuters is reporting today that the New York City Police Department has filed NYPD internal disciplinary charges against Sergeant Kizzy Adonis for her role in the confrontation on Staten Island that ended with Eric Garner’s death. Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed Garner in a chokehold that caused him to suffer difficulty breathing resulting in eventual loss of consciousness and death. A state grand jury decided not to charge Pantaleo with a crime.

Although the City of New York settled a wrongful death civil suit filed by Garner’s family for $5.9 million, Sergeant Adonis is the only officer so far who has been accused of wrongdoing. The City declined to specify what the disciplinary charges were. A spokesperson would only say that the charges were filed to prevent a statute of limitations from expiring. Otherwise, The Department of Justice is investigating Garner’s death.

Garner’s death was one of the more egregious deaths. His crime was selling individual cigarettes (loosies), which is a misdemeanor, and he was unarmed. In addition, a few minutes before the police approached and restrained him, he had broken up a fight and persuaded the combatants to separate and move along.

Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court is a disgrace

January 6, 2016

Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court is a disgrace to the robe he wears. Today he signed a four-page administrative order directing state probate judges to refuse to issue same-sex marriages despite the US Supreme Court’s decision in June in Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S.Ct. 2071 (2015).

His rationale is that Obergefel only applies to Ohio and the other three states whose statutes the Court considered in deciding that the statutory ban on same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore, he concludes that Alabama’s similar statute survived Obergefel and the Alabama probate judges would be violating Alabama’s statute, if they grant a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

His argument is absurd because it violates the Supremacy Clause. He cannot possibly be so stupid or ignorant not to know that.

Therefore, he should be impeached

Republicans do not care that 30,000 people, including thousands of children, die from gun violence every year

January 5, 2016

Republicans do not care that 30,000 people, including thousands of children, die from gun violence every year.

Remember that on election day.

Remember also that they refuse to permit the government to study the problem.

They are unfit to govern.

Never forget it.

U.S. must get out of Afghanistan now

January 5, 2016

We need to get out of Afghanistan now.

The Washington Post is reporting,

An American soldier was killed and two others were wounded Tuesday during a joint U.S.-Afghan Special Operations mission near the town of Marja in Helmand province, Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The U.S. casualties came amid an uptick in fighting in the restive province in recent weeks as Taliban forces have attempted to regain control of key towns such as Sangin, Marja and the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah. In December, Afghan army troops and police were surrounded by Taliban forces in the town of Sangin in a move that prompted a deputy governor in Helmand to use social media to plead for help from the government in Kabul.

According to a U.S. defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters, some Afghans were wounded in the operation as well. The official said several helicopters were sent in to evacuate the wounded, but after landing, one helicopter struck a wall and was disabled. It is still stuck on the ground, while another helicopter was waved off due to heavy ground fire.

Last month six U.S. soldiers on a routine patrol near the U.S. airbase at Bagram were killed by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle and just a month or two earlier, the Taliban took the northern regional center of Kunduz from the Afghan army and police. Although they retook the city from the Taliban with abundant U.S. help, the handwriting is on the wall. The Afghan Army and police are incompetent and cannot defend, much less retake land lost to the Taliban

Afghanistan has no strategic value. It’s sucking billions of dollars a year and costing loss of life.

We need to get out now.

More intolerable Bundy terrorist hijinks underway

January 4, 2016

Cliven Bundy, his sons Aamon and Ryan, and their followers are domestic terrorists and our government needs to recognize them for what they are and start treating them accordingly.

Aamon and Ryan Bundy and an assortment of other confused fools with guns took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters this weekend. They are demanding the federal government turn over federal lands to the ranchers even though the federal government owned the lands before the ranchers settled in the area and the Native Americans lived on the land before the federal government claimed it.

The rancher’s claim is ridiculous.

Give them 12 hours to lay down their weapons and surrender into federal custody for trespassing on federal land or move-in and start shooting.

The feds would already have done that if a group of Muslims or a group of blacks had acted instead.

Just as a rose is a rose is a rose, so too is a terrorist a terrorist.

Bill Cosby case should be resolved by a plea bargain

January 3, 2016

Happy New Year to everyone.

The Bill Cosby case should be resolved by a plea bargain because both sides have too much to lose if it is not.

Consider the following:

Kevin Steele, the recently elected District Attorney for Montgomery County Pennsylvania, charged Bill Cosby with a single count of aggravated indecent assault that is alleged to have occurred in January 2004. Steele filed the case last Wednesday to prevent the expiration of a 12-year statute of limitations. A failure to file the charge within the limitations period would have barred this case. If convicted, the crime is punishable by a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. A judge set bail at $1 million and Cosby avoided going to jail by posting a $100,000 bond.

CBS News is reporting,

Prosecutors accused him of rendering former Temple University employee Andrea Constand unable to resist by plying her with pills and wine, then penetrating her digitally without her consent, when she was unconscious or unaware of what was happening.

She was “frozen, paralyzed, unable to move,” Montgomery County District Attorney-elect Kevin Steele said in announcing the charges. He said it is unclear what type of pills Constand was given, but he noted that Cosby has admitted giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.

Cosby acknowledged under oath a decade ago [during a deposition] that he had sexual contact with Constand but said it was consensual. Calls to his attorneys were not immediately returned.

A deposition is a formal pretrial discovery proceeding in civil cases that usually takes place in a lawyer’s office. A duly certified court reporter places the deposition witness under oath and records the questions asked by the lawyer and the answers given by the witness. The object of a deposition is to question the witness regarding every aspect of the case and lock the witness into each answer to eliminate ambiguity. After the deposition, the court reporter prepares an official transcript of the deposition and provides a copy to each lawyer. A deposition is not a public document, so the lawyers cannot disclose what a witness said unless a judge grants permission to do so.

In this case, the lawyer representing Andrea Constand questioned Cosby and got him to admit that he had sexual contact with her after giving her Quaaludes. Since the case was settled before trial for an undisclosed sum of money, Cosby’s deposition remained confidential and was not provided to the police or to the district attorney. I believe that may explain why the district attorney initially decided not to charge Cosby. The situation changed last summer when a judge granted a prosecution motion to unseal Cosby’s deposition. The judge granted the motion because the civil case ended with the settlement and the deposition contained material evidence that the prosecution needed to prove its case against Cosby.

Nevertheless, assuming the criminal case goes to trial, there is a significant Fifth Amendment issue regarding the admissibility of Cosby’s statement. The Fifth Amendment provides,

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

(emphasis added)

Cosby’s admission during his deposition in the civil case probably will not be admissible in the criminal trial since it is a ‘compelled statement’ under the Fifth Amendment. That is, because the Fifth Amendment only applies to criminal proceedings, he could have been compelled to answer questions during the deposition. In that sense, his testimony was compelled.

The prosecution may not be able to prove its case against Cosby without his admission because no corroborating forensic evidence exists and the victim, Andrea Constand, waited for a year to report the incident to police. To shore up its case, I think the prosecution will call six to twelve of the more than two dozen women who have publicly accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them in similar fashion by incapacitating them with drugs so they cannot resist his advances.

Pennsylvania Evidence Rule 404(b) permits the prosecution to introduce evidence of uncharged prior misconduct in a criminal case, if it is probative of a defendant’s intent, motive, opportunity, plan or absence of mistake or accident. I believe the misconduct described by the women is admissible pursuant to this rule.

Whether the prosecution can prove its case with this prior-misconduct evidence remains to be seen. The possibility that it can provides the defense with a strong incentive to avoid trial with a plea bargain while the possibility that it cannot provides the prosecution with a strong incentive to plea bargain.

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