Leon Vincent Taylor, who killed a suburban Kansas City gas station attendant in front of the worker's young stepdaughter in 1994, was put to death early Wednesday — the ninth execution in Missouri this year, says the Associated Press. Taylor, 56, was pronounced dead at 12:22 a.m. at the state prison in Bonne Terre, minutes after receiving a lethal injection. The latest Missouri execution ties 2014 with 1999 for the most in a year in the state.
Taylor shot worker Robert Newton to death in front of Newton's 8-year-old stepdaughter during a gas station robbery in Independence. Taylor tried to kill the girl, too, but the gun jammed. Taylor apologized the victim's family before he was executed. Once the state started injecting 5 grams of pentobarbital, Taylor's chest heaved for several seconds then stopped. His jaw went slack and he displayed no other movement during the procedure, which last about eight minutes. There were no hitches or complications with the drug or equipment.
A Yonkers, N.Y., housing cop allegedly arranged unauthorized cocaine purchases in the hope that his role in a drug investigation would guarantee him overtime pay, reports the Journal News. But new court documents suggest that the scheme unraveled in March after the occupant of an apartment raided by police fell to his death from a third-floor window, leading to last month's indictment of the housing cop, Neil Vera, and a narcotics detective for allegedly falsifying the search-warrant affidavit.
New court documents reveal the extent to which Vera and Detective Christian Koch allegedly deceived the judge who signed the warrant. Vera and Koch were suspended without pay following their indictments. Among other things, they are charged with getting a benefit – overtime – because of their false statements. The amount of overtime was not immediately available but officers can get hundreds of dollars for each extra shift, and even more if they are called as a witness in court.
A week ago after announcing that it would cease operations on Jan. 1, the news website Homicide Watch D.C. says it will consider proposals to keep it running. "This is open to anyone willing to commit to continuing the work of Homicide Watch D.C., to report every murder in the District from crime to conviction," wrote Chris Amico, who founded the website in 2011 with his wife, Laura Amico.
Proposals are due by Dec. 5. The Amicos have been living in Boston for the past two years. "We know that we cannot continue to hire, train and supervise reporters based in D.C.," Chris Amico wrote. "This community needs and deserves local ownership. We want to be clear on this: We believe the money can be raised to support this site’s editorial mission, but Laura and I cannot continue to be the primary owners of the site."
The number of homeless children in America has reached a historic high, says Newsweek. One out of every 30 children in the U.S. experienced homelessness last year, according to “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” a new report by the National Center on Family Homelessness at the American Institutes for Research. Nearly 2.5 million children lived in shelters, on the streets, in cars, on campgrounds or doubled up with other families in tight quarters, often moving from one temporary solution to another.
The report, which draws on federal data, found that children are homeless in every county and state across the country, in rural areas, towns and major cities. Numbers in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York were high, but rural homelessness was also a problem, in areas where support services may be more difficult to access. California, Alabama and Mississippi had the highest rates of child homelessness. Minnesota, Nebraska and Massachusetts had the lowest.
People living in poor households were victims of violent crime at more than double the rate of those in wealthier households from 2008 to 2012, the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reported Tuesday. Persons in poor households were victims of violence at a rate of 39.8 per 1,000. The rate was 16.9 per 1,000 in higher-income households. The report, "Household Poverty and Nonfatal Violent Victimization, 2008-2012," used data from the National Crime Victimization Survey.
Among other findings: The rate of intimate partner violence for persons in poor households was 8.1 per 1,000, nearly double the 4.3 per 1,000 rate for those with higher incomes; poor Hispanics had lower rates of violence (25.3 per 1,000) compared to poor whites (46.4) and poor blacks (43.4), and poor persons living in urban areas had violent victimization rates (43.9 per 1,000) similar to poor persons living in rural areas (38.8).
Baltimore prosecutors withdrew key evidence in a robbery case Monday rather than reveal details of the cellphone tracking technology police used to gather it, says the city's Sun. The surprise turn in Baltimore Circuit Court came after a defense attorney pressed Detective John L. Haley, a member of a specialized phone tracking unit, to explain how officers had tracked his client. He said officers had not used the controversial device known as a stingray. But when pressed on how phones are tracked, he cited what he called a "nondisclosure agreement" with the FBI.
When Judge Barry G. Williams threatened to hold Haley in contempt if he did not respond, prosecutors decided to withdraw the evidence. The tense exchange during a hearing concerning robbery charges against Shemar Taylor, 16, was the latest confrontation in a growing campaign by defense attorneys and advocates for civil liberties nationwide to get law enforcement to provide details of their phone tracking technology. Law enforcement officials say they are prohibited from discussing the technology at the direction of the federal government, which has argued that knowledge of the devices would jeopardize investigations.
Citing “the possibility of expanded unrest,” Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday declared a state of emergency and prepared to send the Missouri National Guard to help maintain order in the St. Louis region when a grand jury decision is announced in the Michael Brown case, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Nixon’s executive order puts the St. Louis County Police Department in charge of security in Ferguson “in areas of protests and acts of civil disobedience, should such activities occur.”
The order also establishes a unified law enforcement command consisting of the county police, the St. Louis Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol. Nixon said the goal is to keep people safe while allowing protesters to speak. The governor declined to say how many National Guard soldiers will be deployed. A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the shooting of Brown, 18, who was killed by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. The shooting sparked months of protests.
The New York Times reports that the number of fatalities related to terrorism soared 60 percent last year, citing a report released Tuesday by the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace. Five countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria — accounted for 80 percent of the almost 18,000 fatalities attributed to terrorism last year. Iraq had the most, with more than 6,300 fatalities.
At the same time, the statistics in the organization’s Global Terrorism Index suggested that the world’s industrialized nations — often the target of threats by groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State — had suffered relatively few attacks on their soil since Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States and the July 7, 2005, suicide bombings in London.
Los Angeles police are increasingly relying on technology that not only tells patrol officers where crime is most likely to occur but also identifies and keeps track of ex-cons and others they believe are most likely to commit them, says the Associated Press. The program — part data collection, part lightning-fast computer platform, part street-level intelligence-gathering — is expanding in L.A. with the help of a new $400,000 federal grant and has drawn interest from departments across North America.
Dubbed LASER, it is one of the new law enforcement tools that uses data tracking and collection — such as license plate scanners and cellphone trackers — often with little public knowledge or regulation. Privacy advocates say LASER isn't transparent, has no clear oversight and unjustly focuses on keeping ex-convicts under suspicion. LASER uses technology developed by the CIA's venture capital arm that allows investigators to match up vast troves of data from 15 separate sources to connect dots that they otherwise might miss. Officials from New York, Nevada, Wisconsin, Washington, Texas and Canada have been briefed on the system.
Despite progress in racial justice in America over the past 50 years, racial disparities in the criminal justice system have persisted or gotten worse, according to a new report by the Sentencing Project. The report,"Incorporating Racial Equity Into Criminal Justice Reform," was written by executive director Marc Mauer and research analyst Nazgol Ghandnoosh.
The report cites socioeconomic shifts in society, including the decline of manufacturing jobs, growing inequality and its disproportionate effect on communities of color, policy initiatives with consequences for racial disparity, bias in discretionary decisionmaking, and allocation of resources. Consequently, while blacks and Latinos together comprise 30 percent of the nation's population, they account for 58 percent of the prison population and 51 percent of the jail population.