Corey Jones should be alive today

October 21, 2015

Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja shot and killed Corey Jones, 31, on an interstate exit ramp to Palm Beach Gardens on Sunday morning at approximately 3:30 am. The shooting never should have happened.

Jones was a professional musician who played in a church band that had been touring the country recently. His car had broken down as he was driving home after playing a gig. He stopped along an exit ramp off I-95 to Palm Beach Gardens and he was waiting for a tow truck when Officer Raja arrived. Raja was on-duty dressed in plain clothes and driving an unmarked vehicle.

CBS News, Channel 12 reported,

A spokeswoman for the Palm Beach Gardens Police, Ellen Lovejoy, said Raja claimed he came upon what he believed to be an abandoned vehicle on the southbound exit ramp of Interstate 95 at PGA Boulevard.  Lovejoy said Raja claimed he was confronted by an armed subject.

Police say, as a result of the confrontation, Raja fired his weapon, killing Corey Jones at the scene.

Difficult to imagine why Jones would have ‘confronted’ Raja, since he was patiently waiting for a tow truck to arrive.

Indeed, Jones’s friend and fellow band member, Boris Simoneov told CBS News, Channel 12,

Everything seemed normal. Corey was completely himself.  We shook hands gave each other a high-five and he left and I finished putting away some of the gear and equipment.

I don’t understand how anyone could ever perceive Corey is a threat he’s the most level-headed, calm kind-hearted person.

Simoneov also told Channel 12 that another band member met up with Jones, just before the police arrived, to help him after his car broke down. He declined the offer since the tow truck was on the way, so the friend left.

Channel 12 CBS News, interviewed Corey’s uncle, Kenneth Banks,

Banks spoke publicly at the church Corey played drums for and was a well known community figure for volunteering and helping with children, he said.

Jones was known for working hard and being the church drummer.

He called his nephew ‘a servant for the community.’

Channel 12 CBS News recently reported that police said,

Raja has been with Palm Beach Gardens Police since April 2015.  He was working as part of a burglary detail at the time of the shooting.

Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Stephen Stepp said deputies with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office found a gun on the ground outside Jones’ car after the shooting.  Stepp also said officers found the box it came in, and said the serial number on the box matched the number on the gun.

Stepp said authorities confirmed Jones bought the gun three days prior to the police shooting, according to paperwork obtained by detectives with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

Like I said, Corey Jones should be alive today.

Benjamin Crump is representing his family.

 

 


Benjamin Crump and Kenneth Johnson speeches at Wednesday rally for Kendrick Johnson

December 13, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Good morning:

FYI: While surfing the internet for new information on the cases that we have been following, I found this local CBS site in Atlanta that has links to speeches by Benjamin Crump and Kenneth Johnson at the Kendrick Johnson rally on the steps at the Georgia Capitol building on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, with a botched crime-scene investigation and so much evidence missing (i.e., KJ’s fingernails, trachea and vital internal organs including his brain), it’s going to be difficult to identify and convict the perpetrator(s) unless people who know what happened step forward and tell the truth.

Even then it may be difficult to convict someone without a voluntary confession.

The loss of his fingernails is a terrible shame because any foreign DNA present (not KJ’s), as one might expect to find if he were attacked and fought with his attacker, could have been amplified and typed.

I don’t believe the accidental death theory.

I do know that kids are not very good at keeping secrets, so let’s hope for a break in the case.

Let’s also hope for some honest, diligent and experienced FBI agents working the case.

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New information revealed in Kendrick Johnson case

October 29, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Good morning:

I have new information to report in the Kendrick Johnson case.

CBS Atlanta hosted a show yesterday called Powertalk with Mrs. Lorraine Jacques-White reporting. Attorney Benjamin Crump called in to the show to report new developments in the investigation of Kendrick’s death.

He said Kendrick had been dating a white girl at the school in 2011. He got into a fight with a white boy at the school and apparently won the fight. Although the article does not say what the fight was about, I get the impression that it may have had something to do with Kendrick dating the white girl.

The white boy was unwilling to let the matter drop and challenged him to another fight to take place at the white boy’s house. Kendrick declined.

The white boy’s father or mother may be a police official.

Kendrick’s death occurred not long after that.

This report is similar to information provided by a commenter here several weeks ago when I first wrote about this case. The person said Kendrick was dating a white girl who had been dating the son of the Sheriff of Lowndes County.

I do not yet consider this information to be established fact. I am going to need more verification.

I certainly do not believe he crawled down the tube opening in the mat to retrieve his athletic shoe, got stuck and asphyxiated by accident. That story is ridiculous.

However, if this new information is true, it could explain who killed Kendrick, why he killed him, and why the murder was covered up. I doubt the kid with the grudge and score to settle acted alone.

Hopefully, Benjamin Crump will solve this mystery soon.

I am not buying the school district’s argument that the videos from the CCTV cameras do not show anything because none of the cameras were aimed at the mat in which Kendrick’s body was found, but they cannot release the videos to confirm that claim because other students appear in them and they have not consented for the videos to be released.

There are ways to ghost out faces, so identities can be protected.

Lowndes County is looking incredibly corrupt and not doing well in the court of public opinion.

Time to stop playing hide-the-ball and let the chips fall where they may.


Unfinished forensics in Trayvon Martin case

August 2, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

Good morning to all of our friends:

I write this morning regarding unfinished forensics with Trayvon’s case and to urge Benjamin Crump to consult with someone who is knowledgeable about forensics before he decides whether to sue George Zimmerman for wrongful death.

Piranha Mom’s comment at 12:09 am inspired me to write this post.

If a civil claim is filed against Zimmerman by Trayvon’s family, Professor Fred and all of us must put together the DEFINITIVE narrative, citing each movement with justification and evidence, and supply it to Trayvon’s family and attorneys.

We know what happened.

We have had the forensic evidence at our fingertips — and we know it all by heart. We were open in our analysis.

We DIDN’T expect we had to provide this to the prosecution.

But they were so full of hubris and the big award Bernie was to receive, and paid little attention to evidence. Bernie even thinks Trayvon took part in the battle, not that he was struggling to get away. If the prosecutor has no faith in the victim, or in the chief witness for the prosecution, what could we expect to get?

The verdict we got.

Won’t make THAT mistake again!

Yes, Piranha Mom is right and here are three glaring examples.

Amy Siewart, the crime lab firearms analyst who examined Trayvon’s sweatshirts, apparently never read the autopsy report or conferred with Dr. Bao regarding whether the bullet holes in the sweatshirts aligned with the entry wound in Trayvon’s chest. Evidently, no one at FDLE or any member of the prosecution team thought about that possibility either.

Yet, that was the first thought that occurred to me when I read that first document dump and LLMPapa was all over that issue too. I wrote about it and he made several videos about it. Both of us discussed the implications.

We even argued with the self-described crime scene expert from Jacksonville, Michael Knox, about the proper conclusions to draw from that evidence.

Massive and inexcusable failure of LE and the prosecutor’s office not to see and comprehend the significance of that evidence.

Massive and inexcusable failure by BDLR not to use the State’s DNA expert, Anthony Gorgone, to clear-up the confusion created by the defense regarding whether rain can wash away DNA and whether packaging Trayvon’s sweatshirt in a plastic biohazard bag would degrade all DNA present, such that it could not be detected with STR/PCR.

Siewart also should have been questioned regarding (1) the unusually strong kickback of a KelTec 9 semiautomatic handgun when fired with one hand, and (2) whether the distance between the two spires on the rear gunsight match the distance between the two pinholes on the tip of Zimmerman’s nose that bled so copiously.

I believe those distances match and Siewart could testify that the gun could have caused the injuries to Zimmerman’s nose, if he fired the fatal shot within a few feet of his face while holding the gun with one hand as Zimmerman described.

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Court of Appeals grants writ permitting defense to depose Benjamin Crump

June 3, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Good afternoon:

The Court of Appeals granted the defendant’s petition for a writ of certiorari. Therefore, defense counsel will be permitted to depose Benjamin Crump. However, the scope of inquiry is strictly limited as follows:

In concluding that the trial court erred in denying Zimmerman an opportunity to depose Crump, we caution that any deposition of Crump is to be limited to inquiry of circumstances surrounding the interview of Witness 8 and the contents of such interview. Defense counsel may not inquire into Crump’s mental impressions regarding Witness 8, nor may counsel inquire as to the reasons why Crump conducted the interview in the manner in which he did. Additionally, we believe the work product privilege precludes defense counsel from making inquiry as to the reason(s) Crump attempted to locate Witness 8 and the methods employed to do so.

The deposition contemplated by our opinion should be relatively short and straight forward. We are confident that the trial judge will be able to take the steps necessary to ensure the deposition is limited to the subject areas describe above.

This is generally the subject matter that Crump covered in his affidavit.

The Court of Appeals is saying that Judge Nelson should have permitted defense counsel to use the deposition to cross examine Mr. Crump about the information in his affidavit.

The opinion is a per curiam opinion, which means that no judge wanted to take credit for writing the decision, even though all agree on the result. For all we know, it may have been written by a court commissioner.

I disagree with the portion of the opinion where the Court concludes that Benjamin Crump is not “opposing counsel.” The Court’s conclusion is supported by the case cited, however, it is a civil case and the vast majority of cases involving depositions are civil cases.

This is a criminal case, however, in which Benjamin Crump must wait to file his wrongful death suit against the defendant until after he is convicted. Note, for example, that the defendant’s defamation suit against NBC has been stayed pending the outcome of the criminal case.

To say he is not opposing counsel is a hyper technical dodge that ignores the reality of civil cases arising out of criminal cases in which lawyers representing victims of violent crimes or their survivors may from time to time assist the police and prosecution to put together a case against a defendant, ride on the coattails of a successful prosecution, and sue the convicted defendant who cannot then deny liability.

The Court of Appeals missed or deliberately ignored that important distinction.

I also disagree with the manner in which the Court casually dismissed the work product argument by saying Mr. Crump waived the work product privilege by inviting members of the press to attend the interview.

Mr. Crump invited two members of the press to listen in on the interview so that there would be other witnesses present and he would not find himself in a situation in which he might become a witness in his own case and have to withdraw as counsel for his clients. He did the right thing.

One of the requirements to depose a lawyer is that the party who seeks the deposition must first exhaust other means to obtain information and defense counsel did not do that. Yet, the Court of Appeals ignored that.

No wonder none of the judges wanted to take credit for this decision.

I expect defense counsel will push hard against the boundaries set by the Court of Appeals because they appear to be determined to portray Benjamin Crump as an evil mastermind who invented Dee Dee as part of a conspiracy to shakedown insurance companies for money at the expense of convicting an innocent man. This is utterly ridiculous treehouse madness, I know, but it is what it is.

There will be objections and Judge Nelson will issue rulings on those objections restricting the interrogation to those boundaries. Defense counsel will scream foul loudly and publicly in hopes of poisoning the jury with more “evidence” of a conspiracy.

Whether we will hear more about this remains to be seen, but the Court of Appeals decision has not helped matters.

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O’Mara out of time in Zimmerman case

April 16, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Abbyj said,

Omar will ride the PayPal buckaroo to the bitter end in an effort to squeeze out every last cent. He is hoping for a massive windfall, as fogen received early on. Without any hope of a great fortune appearing, O’Mara will then stand before Judge Nelson, wring his hands, and whine, “I haven’t had the financial resources to hire experts . . . ” Could fogen use this as grounds for an appeal?

Good question.

We begin at the beginning. Appellate courts hate piecemeal appeals. With one notable exception, they will refuse to review a case unless the circuit court has entered a final judgment terminating it. The exception is the writ procedure that permits a party to seek extraordinary relief from a specific order issued by a judge in the circuit court that, in effect, functions as a final order in a case depriving the losing party of an opportunity to present its case and argument in the circuit court.

The defense used the writ procedure to recuse Judge Lester (mandamus) and is now using it (certiorari) in an attempt to get an order vacating (setting aside) Judge Nelson’s order denying the defense motion to depose Benjamin Crump. I do not believe this effort will be successful because I think Judge Nelson made the correct legal decision. Since other witnesses were present when Crump interviewed Dee Dee to determine the cause of Trayvon’s death on behalf of his clients, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, his efforts constitute protected attorney work product that is not subject to disclosure. Moreover, the defense team cannot show they were prejudiced by Judge Nelson’s order because they can interview Dee Dee and the witnesses who were present. Therefore, Judge Nelson’s decision is not a final judgment or order that functioned like a final judgment by depriving the defense of its only opportunity to discover potentially favorable information for the defense.

With regard to your specific question, the defense would have to file a motion requesting some form of financial assistance from the court to pay for something that the defense has a right to do, but cannot afford to do. The defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel at public expense, if he cannot afford counsel. The right to effective assistance of counsel at public expense, includes paying reasonably necessary expenses for investigators and expert witnesses.

Mark O’Mara and Don West have agreed to work pro bono, so they will not be asking the court to compensate them for the time they spend working on the case. However, their agreement to work pro bono does not mean that they also have agreed to pay the costs that will be incurred to defend their client. Specifically, the court cannot require them to pay experts and investigators.

The internet donations were supposed to cover those costs. According to O’Mara, however, the defense is underwater by approximately $10,000. I doubt that includes the $28,000 claim for services rendered by the security company, unless O’Mara has paid down the balance. Therefore, the defense may be in more serious financial trouble.

Judge Nelson cannot do anything unless O’Mara files a motion. An appropriate motion would be to ask her to enter an order declaring the defendant indigent and entitled to the reasonably necessary assistance of investigators and experts at public expense. Such a motion would have to be supported by a detailed financial statement or tax return submitted under oath. Given the substantial sum of money donated to the defendant via the internet (possibly approaching $500,000) that somehow disappeared and the defendant’s “potted plant” behavior at his bail hearing last summer when his wife under oath denied knowing that he had any assets just a few days after she transferred over $100,000 from the internet account into her personal account via his personal account pursuant to his specific instructions, I think Judge Nelson would refuse to accept anything at face value. I think she would insist the prosecution review the documentation or she might appoint a special master to review it, if the defense were to object. I think the defendant and his lawyers could safely assume that any irregularities would result in additional criminal charges.

If Judge Nelson were to deny the motion to declare the defendant indigent, her denial could be challenged on appeal. The issue would be whether she abused her discretion in denying the motion. In turn that would depend on the sufficiency of the documentation supplied by the defense.

To properly preserve this issue for appeal, the defense would have to ask Judge Nelson to reconsider her denial of his motion to appoint an investigator or an expert at every available opportunity. A failure to provide a road map in the trial transcript of requests to reconsider supported by specific reasons why an investigator or expert was reasonably necessary at that particular time might be fatal. For example, the DCA might agree that Judge Nelson abused her discretion by denying the request for indigency, but find that the error was harmless absent sufficient documentation of the harm to the defense caused by the denial.

If Judge Nelson were to grant the motion, O’Mara would have to submit ex parte motions to appoint specifically named individuals to do specific things. She would probably appoint one investigator. The number of experts she would be willing to appoint would depend on the relevance of their area of expertise to the subject matter at issue in the case. The rate of compensation would be at the reduced rate that the court has established for appointed cases.

If the jury were to convict the defendant and O’Mara failed to hire an investigator or an expert to assist in preparing for trial and putting on a defense, his failure to do those things could be raised in a state habeas petition after the appeal is unsuccessful. Habeas petitions are based on evidence that is not in the record and typically are based on defense counsel’s failure to do something that he should have done. The failure asserted in this instance would be the failure to hire an investigator or expert. If that happened due to lack of money and O’Mara did not ask Judge Nelson to find the defendant indigent, the claim would be that he provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to make the request.

In order to prevail, habeas counsel would have to convince the court that O’Mara’s conduct was deficient according to prevailing standards of conduct and that, but for the deficiency, the result of the trial probably would have been different.

It takes time to assemble a team of experts and investigators and it takes additional time for them to complete their assignments. O’Mara should have assembled his team before Thanksgiving. The trial is scheduled to begin in less than 60 days and the defense fund is underwater $10,000.

Even if Judge Nelson were to enter orders tomorrow finding the defendant indigent and appointing an investigator and experts, all financial compensation would be limited to services provided in the future.

Given that dire financial situation, plus one unhappy creditor having already sued O’Mara alleging that he has refused to pay $28,000 for services provided, I doubt anyone will invest any time or effort to help O’Mara without a substantial retainer up front.

Such is the nature of the criminal defense business.

Just like his client, he is out of time.

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Gloom in Mudville: The defense is upside down by $10,000

April 15, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

Greetings to everyone.

The defense is falling apart.

In the latest issue of Zimsanity News, which is my handy new way of referring to propaganda information about the legal case released by Mark O’Mara or information about the defendant’s clueless family released by its official spokesperson, Robert Zimmerman, Jr., we find out that Mark O’Mara wants the settlement agreement opened up for public review, including the settlement amount.

Ben Crump is OK with publicizing the agreement, but he wants the settlement amount to remain confidential.

Meanwhile, O’Mara announced on Friday that the defense fund is upside down by about $10,000. That’s bad news for the defense team with only 56 days left until trial.

Could this mean that the defense might be on the verge of tossing a white handkerchief into the ring, if the Court of Appeals denies the writ?

Possibly, because insufficient funds to try the case the way it should be tried is often cited by private counsel as the reason for a last minute guilty plea.

Do I have any evidence that such discussions have taken place?

No, I do not.

I discussed the lack-of-money problem a couple of months ago and suggested that the defense should consider filing a motion asking Judge Nelson to declare the defendant indigent. That would assure that all reasonably necessary defense expenses for deposition transcripts, investigators and expert witnesses would be paid by the court. No fuss, no muss regarding unpaid bills. That would certainly lighten the stress load.

Not so fast, you say?

Well, you’re right. O’Mara’s plea for more money from donors brought in approximately $60,000, but I gather that donations have slowed to a trickle.

Will another plea for money prime the pump, so to speak, and avert the looming financial crisis?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

If O’Mara cannot pull another financial rabbit out of his hat, he will have to ask Judge Nelson to declare the defendant indigent. However, given how quickly the defense blew through the $60,000 I cannot help but wonder if the defense has mismanaged the donations by spending far too much money for the defendant’s living and security expenses. I have not kept a tally but IIRC, they’ve blown through close to a half million by now and more than half of that money was spent on living and security expenses.

I think Judge Nelson would be required, as a matter of law to declare the defendant indigent, if he can satisfy her that he truly is indigent, even if he is responsible for having attained pauper status by spending too much money on non-essential items.

Bottom Line: O’Mara needs to take action to solve this problem ASAP because the longer he waits for the money to start flowing again, the more incompetent and irresponsible he will appear to be. That is exactly the wrong message to be broadcasting this close to trial, especially after he basically waived the “sure thing” immunity hearing and we now know that the HOA was not buying the narrative he was pushing on the public.

After all, why would potential donors remain willing to contribute money, if the defense failed to manage previous donations responsibly and O’Mara blew his credibility with donors when he waived the immunity hearing that was supposed to be such a sure-thing?

Those two circumstances might very well turn out to be death blows to the defense.

And then there is the message from Gladys blaming the public for the decision to charge the defendant with second degree murder.

I am going to pass on criticizing a mother for defending her son.

She is entitled to her opinion.

I base my opinion on the evidence.

The case is starting to smell like decomp to me.

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