FOR REAL!!! HOLY SH*T!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
(CNN) -- Bishop Eddie Long, his face glistening with sweat, paces onstage before his cheering congregation.
He's preaching about the Bible, the role of a preacher, and "fresh sperm."
"The word of God is potent. The word of God is His sperm," Long thunders. "The job of the preacher is to bring fresh sperm and when he speaks it, the womb -- the church -- is to take it in and say, 'Sho' you're right.' "
The video of that sermon, delivered during the early days of Long's ministry in the 1990s, has gone viral. And now it is being discussed in the context of four lawsuits that claim the 57-year-old Long used his spiritual authority to coerce four young men into sexual relationships with him.
Long has denied the allegations, characterizing them as assaults against him and New Birth Missionary Church, his 25,000 member megachurch in suburban Atlanta, Georgia.
Since his denial, Long has stopped talking publicly about the allegations. Yet debate about the scandal persists. Many people are trying to figure out: Who is Long? And what are his beliefs?
Long has already provided some of those answers, in his sermons and books. For the last three decades, he has publicly preached and written about some of the same issues raised in the lawsuits: homosexuality, his relationship with men, and his style of leadership at New Birth.
Art Franklin, a New Birth spokesman, did not return calls requesting an interview with Long.
In earlier sermons and books, though, Long has been open about his stance on an array of controversial topics.
Take Long's opposition to homosexuality. It's been a part of his message for years. In his 1998 book, "I Don't Want Delilah, I Need You!" he wrote that "The Bible has no provision for two people of the same sex to be married."
"Two people of the same sex cannot reproduce in the physical natural realm, which is an outward manifestation of their inability to produce the fruit of righteousness in the spirit realm."
In the same book, Long wrote that the devil convinces homosexuals that they have no control over their sexual orientation.
"Neither does God make a person to be a homosexual. Look at yourself naked in a mirror and see what God gave you. That's who you are in God's creation. Your parents ... or someone else may have influenced you to engage in sexual behavior that was not godly, but God did not ordain that behavior for you."
Long's explanation for why some men are gay, though, may appear puzzling.
He put some of the blame on women, in "I Don't Want Delilah, I Need You!"
"In a society, where little boys are exposed to grubby, cursing, dirty, cigarette-smoking road construction worker women, is it any wonder they stop chasing women and start chasing men?"
The proper role for men and women is a recurrent theme in Long's books and sermons.
Men, he said, are different than women because they are made from the dirt. God, he said, made Adam from the dust of the earth.
"Men can look attractive when they're dirty," he wrote in "I Don't Want Delilah, I Need You!"
"We see sweating, dirty, hardworking men on television all the time and we say to one another, 'There's a macho guy.' But women were not made from the earth. God made women to be lovely, gentle, clean and beautiful on the inside and outside. They are to be strong in character."
Men, Long said, were created to be "warriors" who lead and protect their families. Yet there are forces in society that "damage" men, Long wrote in his 2004 book, "Gladiator."
"Somebody took the man out of manhood," he wrote in "Gladiator."
That somebody? He blames the "women's liberation" movement and "liberal and extra-biblical teaching" in public schools.
"The anti-man agenda of such organizations as NOW [National Organization of Women] ... spawned in the previous century is simple: being 'equal' isn't enough -- we want to be large and in charge."
At other times, though, Long has offered a spirited defense of women's role in the church.
Unlike some conservative pastors, he wrote that women have a right to preach and be leaders in the church. Long encourages men to treat their wives with respect and to remain faithful.
In one sermon, Long cited his own marriage to encourage parishioners. He invited his wife, Vanessa, to share the stage with him in a 2009 DVD entitled, "When a Man Loves a Woman."
Vanessa Long, who has appeared at Long's side since the allegations against him were made public, talked about the challenges of living with her husband to a rapt New Birth congregation.
Long took the New Birth pulpit in a 2004 DVD, "Back to Basics," to talk about the male ego. In the video, he tells the audience he wouldn't have a problem if his wife made more money because it's still "my money" as head of the household.
As members in the congregation chuckle, Long tells them that he would be happy to pick up his wife on payday, and deposit her check into their joint banking account.
"I might even give her a little bit -- and I wasn't talking money," Long says as his congregation hoots in laughter.
Long's stance on money has also drawn scrutiny. He's a "prosperity preacher" who once said that Jesus wasn't poor.
A 2005 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Long created a charity whose biggest beneficiary was Long himself. The charity, ostensibly to help the poor, provided Long with the use of a million-dollar home and a $350,000 Bentley car.
In his 2002 book, "What a Man Wants, What a Woman Needs," Long says his luxury cars are "side benefits of saying yes to God."
Money isn't evil; the love of money is evil, he says in the book. Pastors need to show people "visual sermons" to demonstrate that God is blessing them, he says.
"It's strange but when a preacher gets a Bentley, people get mad," he says in the book. "That's why I have two of them. God has launched me into my culture like an arrow and I'll go to almost any lengths to plant the kingdom in the hoods."
The Kingdom of God, according to Long, is held together by authority, another favorite topic.
"Taking Authority" is the name of a Long television show that once aired on Trinity Broadcasting Network. In his 1999 book, "Taking Over," Long wrote about taking authority at New Birth during his early days by persuading the deacon board to relinquish power to him.
In Long's view, there is a "chain of command" in God's creation: children must answer to their parents; wives to their spouses, and parishioners to their pastor.
Some pastors encourage parishioners to address them by their first name or to view them like anyone else. That is not Long's style of leadership.
In his recent book "Gladiator," Long warns parishioners not to get overly familiar with a pastor who has God's "anointing."
"Some people get close to the pastor, and then they stand back by describing the pastor as just a man or just Eddie," Long writes. "It is true to a point, but it is a statement dipped in scorn for God's anointed."
Scorn can easily turn to disrespect when parishioners start looking at their pastors critically, Long says in the book.
"A disrespectful or adversarial attitude causes otherwise good people to look for mistakes, weakness, and flaws in their human leaders."
In the book, Long even warns those who might look for flaws in their pastor:
People who disrespect their leaders not only disobey God, they bring harm onto themselves, he says.
"Once the flock of God leaves the green grass and clear water of God's presence to gnaw on their shepherds," he writes, "their insurrection kills their blessing and aborts their corporate victory."
U.S. officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, commonly referred to as AQAP, is behind the plot.
President Barack Obama confirmed that the packages -- intercepted in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates -- originated in Yemen, the stronghold of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
"We also know that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ... continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies," he said during a press briefing on the incident.
One suspicious package, found at the UK's East Midlands Airport, contained a "manipulated" toner cartridge and had white powder on it as well as wires and a circuit board, a law enforcement source said. A similar package set to be shipped on a FedEx cargo plane was discovered in Dubai, the law enforcement source and Dubai officials said.
"Initial examination of those packages has determined they do apparently contain explosive material," Obama said.
The source close to the investigation said the type of material found in the devices was PETN, a highly explosive organic compound belonging to the same chemical family as nitroglycerin. Just six grams of PETN is enough to blow a hole in the fuselage of an aircraft.
PETN was allegedly one of the components of the bomb concealed by Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to set off an explosion aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit, Michigan, on December 25. AbdulMutallab is alleged to have been carrying 80 grams of PETN in that botched attack -- also believed to be the workings of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
By comparison, the source said the two devices found Friday contained multiple times more PETN. The source also said it appears the devices were designed to be detonated by a cell phone with the help of a smaller amount of a second unidentified explosive substance.
The cell-phone theory was seconded by a wireless engineer for a major U.S.-based manufacturer, who analyzed a photo of one of the devices at CNN's request.
"This size and the shape of the PCB (printed circuit board) are typical to a handset cell phone type device," wrote Olivier Clerc, hardware application engineering manager for a cell-phone-parts manufacturer.
Both packages were bound for the United States, "specifically two places of Jewish worship in Chicago," Obama said.
The packages led to increased searches of cargo planes and trucks in several U.S. cities, said law enforcement sources with detailed knowledge of the investigation.
White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said that "the materials that were found and the device that was discovered were intended to do harm."
Brennan said the discovery of the packages was made with help from Saudi Arabia, and issued a statement thanking the country for its "assistance in developing information that helped underscore the imminence of the threat emanating from Yemen."
A source with firsthand knowledge of the information told CNN that the Saudi Arabian government gave the United States tracking numbers of the two packages, allowing for quick tracing to the United Kingdom and Dubai.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-California, called the potential plot "a new novel thing -- and that is using FedEx and UPS planes to perhaps bring in something that might be explosive."
The Transportation Security Administration issued Friday afternoon a halt in the United States on all packages originating from Yemen, and shipping companies UPS, FedEx and DHL all said they were complying with the order.
Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told CNN she is very concerned about holes in the system to screen cargo coming into the United States, said that had a credible intelligence source not warned about the suspicious packages, they may not have been detected with standard security procedures.
Collins, who was briefed by TSA chief John Pistole, said intelligence officials do not know yet if this was part of a larger plot, but she does believe al Qaeda is "continuing to test for vulnerabilities in our security system, and it appears we do have vulnerabilities in our system for transporting cargo."
After the packages were found Thursday night and Friday morning, authorities were tracking other packages shipped from Yemen in the same time frame, a law enforcement source said.
A Yemeni diplomat in Washington said that his government has opened a full-scale investigation into the incident but that it was too early to speculate or reach any conclusions.
Counterterrorism officials are taking the threat "very seriously," Obama said.
The Department of Homeland Security said it "had taken a number of steps to enhance security," including "heightened cargo screening and additional security at airports."
Some Jewish religious leaders in Chicago were alerted to the potential threat Friday, said Linda Haase, spokeswoman for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
"We were notified about this earlier this morning," she said. "We are taking appropriate precautions, and we are advising local synagogues to do the same."
Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, California, said that if synagogues were indeed the intended recipients of the packages, "this is just another indication of the dangerous world we live in where Jews are the principle target."
Meanwhile, U.S. authorities seemed most focused on inspecting cargo planes.
Investigators examined two UPS planes that landed at Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania and another at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, said Mike Mangeot, a UPS spokesman. Authorities later gave the "all-clear" at both airports, the Transportation Security Administration said.
The TSA said authorities acted "out of an abundance of caution."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A north Florida mother has pleaded guilty to shaking her baby to death after the boy's crying interrupted her game on Facebook.
Alexandra V. Tobias pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Wednesday and remains jailed.
The Florida Times-Union reports that she told investigators she was angered because the boy was crying while she was playing the game FarmVille.
The paper also reports that she told investigators she shook the boy, smoked a cigarette to compose herself and then shook him again.
She will be sentenced in December. State guidelines call for 25 to 50 years, but a prosecutor said it could be shorter than that.
A telephone message and an e-mail sent by The Associated Press to her attorney weren't immediately returned.
Candice Blanks was also charged with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. Lucas Silva, 22, of Stamford and Felipe Chagas, 19, of Bethel were standing on the shoulder near Exit 11 southbound at around 2:30 a.m. when they were struck by Blanks' vehicle.
Blanks then hit another car parked on the right shoulder of the highway, according to police reports. She fled the scene, even after her airbags deployed, but was apprehended shortly thereafter by Darien police.
Chagas and Silva were pronounced dead at the scene. Blanks was being held on a $250,000 bond.
The man were killed about 2:30 Saturday morning, and the woman who hit them was charged with drunken driving.
Felipe Chagas, 19, of Bethel and Lucas Silva, 22, of Stamford, were standing on the shoulder of the highway and changing the left rear tire of a Chevrolet Cavalier when the crash happened. A short distance ahead, several friends in a Volkswagen Passat had pulled off the highway to help.
Candice Blanks' was driving past when her Lincoln Aviator apparently veered into the shoulder and hit the two men, police said. The impact hurled Chagas against the Passat, and Blanks' SUV dragged Silva about 170 feet, state troopers said.
Blanks kept driving even though her car's airbag deployed, but she was caught a little farther south on the highway, according to police. Blanks, 29, of Stamford, was charged with drunken driving, two counts of vehicular manslaughter, evading responsibility and failing to stay in her lane. She was held in lieu of a $250,000 bond pending arraignment Monday.
Police called ambulances for a passenger in the Passat who suffered a minor injury and a 19-year-old passenger in the Cavalier who fainted. Troopers ask that any witnesses contact Troop G at 203-696-2500.
"I don't know what happened, but I want to clear his name," Green said.
Two months ago, Green filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alleging a mechanical defect was the possible reason a 2000 Toyota Solara sped up on a New Britain street, causing her son Blazej Ignatowicz, 22, to lose control of it and strike a speed limit sign before plowing into some trees. Ignatowicz was killed in the Dec. 1, 2006, crash.
Ignatowicz was returning home from an evening out with three friends at a nearby bar about a mile-and-a-half from his apartment.
A New Britain police investigation identified excessive speed and alcohol consumption as factors in the accident, and an inspection of the wreck found no defects with the car.
The police report also showed Ignatowicz's blood-alcohol level was .15, just under double the legal limit, but Green is also challenging the results of those tests.
Green said she is contesting the results of the blood tests, which she said are suspect based on her son's brawny 6-foot-7-inch frame.
"I always knew something was wrong but when I saw the recalls on the news it made it clearer," said Green, a mortgage broker who lives in North Stamford. "He would never have been that inebriated."
The 2000 Solara model has not yet been included in Toyota's ongoing recalls, which began last fall to address concerns about sudden acceleration.
In a statement in response to questions about its investigation of NHTSA complaints for this story, Toyota indicated it was continuing to work with federal regulators to probe allegations of unintended acceleration.
"Toyota sympathizes with the individuals and families involved in any accident involving our vehicles," the statement reads. "... We remain committed to investigating reported incidents of unintended acceleration in our vehicles quickly."
Since last fall, Toyota has recalled more than 8 million cars worldwide for problems involving sudden acceleration, with executives maintaining that in rare instances, poorly-fit floor mats and faulty accelerator pedals could cause cars to accelerate.
Last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that NHTSA had enlisted scientists from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to examine whether underlying flaws in electronic throttle and other systems might be the cause of the reported incidents.
According to affidavits sworn to New Britain police, Ignatowicz and his three other companions met at Elmer's Place, a pub in New Britain at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2006, remaining there approximately three hours.
Ignatowicz' companions said that he had three or four beers and a shot of liquor between 9:30 p.m. and 12:20 a.m., according to the police report.
Green said that she would consider filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of her son and other Solara owners if the federal investigation determines a mechanical defect played a part in any accidents involving older model Solaras.
Last year, she started a Web site, toyotacauseofdeath.com, explaining the circumstances of the accident and why she believes a mechanical defect may have caused her son's accident.
"Any settlement I would give to charity," she said. "I am a 50-year-old woman who lost her only son and the only thing I want to do is learn the truth."
Staff Writer Martin B. Cassidy can be reached at email@example.com or at 203-964-2264.
Stamford, Connecticut (WTNH) - Police have charged a 20-year old Stamford man with manslaughter and drunk driving after he injured two people and killed one in a wrong way crash.
According to police, Jamie Mejia was driving north in the southbound lane on Strawberry Hill Avenue on March 21. He hit a tree and then slammed into another car.
A passenger in the other car, 57-year old Miriam Vega, had to be extricated and later died at an area hospital.
Police say Mejia's blood alcohol content was .210, or 10 times over the legal limit for a person under the age of 21.
Mejia is being held on a $50,000 bond and is due in court April 28.
This video on News Channel 12 Connecticut shows the whole response, including the officer looking in the mangled mess for a victim...
Spooky, reminds me of their coverage of the fatal Darien crash that occurred right behind my boyfriend's house at the time..
STAMFORD -- A 20-year-old Easton woman was killed when the car in which she was a passenger struck two trees and a light pole off the right shoulder of Interstate-95 in Stamford early Friday morning.
The driver, Anthony Whittingham of Norwalk, allegedly fled on foot from the accident scene, which occurred at 2:09 a.m. Friday near the southbound Exit 9 of I-95, the Connecticut State Police said in an accident report. He was caught a short distance from the crash site.
Jessica Martucci of Silver Hill Road, Easton, died as a result of injuries suffered in the single car accident.
A second passenger, Jahmar Whittingham, of Bridgeport, was injured and taken to Stamford Hospital.
Authorities said Anthony Whittingham was driving a 2007 Volkswagon Jetta southbound at a high-rate of speed on the right-hand lane when he tried changing lanes. Instead the car veered off the right side of the highway and struck two trees and a light pole, causing the car to roll over onto its roof before coming to a rest in the center and left lanes of the highway.
Martucci sat in the front passenger seat and wore a seat-belt during the accident.
Criminal charges are pending and the accident remains under investigation by the state police.
Staff Writer Jeff Morganteen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 964-2215.
Woman killed in car crash, vehicle driven by Norwalk manThe Norwalk Hour- A Norwalk man was the driver in a single-car crash that killed an Easton woman early Friday morning on the Stamford stretch of I-95 north, police said.
A car driven by 27-year-old Anthony Whittingham of 16 School St., Apt. 11, veered off the highway near exit 9 at 2:09 a.m., and flipped onto its roof, police said. The impact of the crash killed Jessica Martucci, 20, of 76 Silver Hill Road, Easton, who was riding in the front passanger seat of the vehicle, according to police.
Whittingham fled on foot after crashing the vehicle, but State Police located him a short distance from the accident scene, police said.
Whittingham is not yet facing any criminal charges, but State Police said they will file charges once the investigation is completed.
Court records show that Whittingham was placed on probation in 2003 for a driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and he has been convicted of operating a motor vehicle under suspension numerous times since the DUI arrest.
(10/29/10) STAMFORD - State police say drunk driving was likely to blame for a crash that killed an Easton woman in Stamford early this morning.
It happened before 3 a.m. between exits 8 and 9 on the northbound side.
Police say Jessica Martucci, 20, of Easton, died at the scene. Another passenger, Jamar Whittingham, 29, of Bridgeport, ended up in serious condition at Stamford Hospital.
Police arrested Anthony Whittingham, 27, of Norwalk who was not hurt. Police say he initially fled the scene before being caught.
Yeah, of course it's always the driver that's not hurt, just everyone else f*cked up or dead...
How far we've come in that time in terms of fire prevention and protection of life.. Sad still that there is no memorial of any sort honoring those victims...
Crews were called out to the park around 8:00 Saturday night.
There were people inside the haunted house at the time, but fire officials tell CBS 3 nobody was hurt.
Alan Sirois, Agawam Deputy Fire Chief, says: "The fire consisted primarily of simulated cobwebs that were hung outside the structure. Fire was extinguished quickly. Extension was checked for and there was some very minor involvement in the exterior of the structure and the roof."
The Fright Fest section of the park was evacuated, and guests leaving tell CBS 3 they were reimbursed for their tickets.
Six Flags officials say the park remains fully operational.
Fire crews are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire Saturday night, but say they do not believe it to be suspicious.
No word on if and when the Haunted House may reopen.
Here's a very detailed account of the events that claimed the lives of those eight people on that tragic day: Doorway to Hell by Peter J. Smith
Thursday, October 28, 2010
A Escambia County jury determined Thursday evening that Leonard Gonzalez Jr. followed through on his plan and fatally shot Byrd and Melanie Billings in the couple's master bedroom, as one of their nine special-needs children looked on. He was also found guilty of armed home-invasion robbery.
During the trial, Gonzalez frequently conversed with his attorneys, shook his head and even smirked. He told Judge Nickolas Geeker that he didn't need to call any witnesses or testify on his own behalf, because "the evidence speaks for itself."
And after the jury came out to ask a question during their four hours of deliberations, he said, "I've already been tried and convicted by the media."
But Gonzalez was stoic just before the verdict came in. Meanwhile, members of the Billings family cried in the courtroom, with Byrd's and Melanie's daughter Ashley Markham hugging prosecutors. Gonzalez nodded to the Billings family -- as he'd done earlier Thursday -- after he was fingerprinted and led away.
The jury of 11 women and one man deliberated for four hours before reaching the verdict. In that time, they requested to see a 14-minute surveillance video, culled from 16 cameras around the Billings house that were set up around the house to watch the nine special-needs children that the couple had adopted and were in the house of the time of the murder.
One video showed a masked man -- who Frederick Thornton, a member of the group, identified as Gonzalez -- shooting Byrd Billings once in each leg. Another video showed a scene from a girl's bedroom as a red van packed with people arrives outside the house. The girl gets up from bed as the masked men enter the house, then hides under the covers pretending to sleep after hearing the commotion nearby. The van was owned by Gonzalez.
A camera was not in the master bedroom. But Thornton said that Gonzalez led the Billings' couple into the room. And expert witnesseses showed how Gonzalez shot Byrd Billings once in the head and twice more as he lay face down on the floor, and then shot Melanie Billings through the head and chest.
During closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney John Molchan painted an involved picture depicting Gonzalez as the ringleader who hatched the plan, formed the team, outfitted six other men with guns and clothes, then led them as they barged into the Billings' large home in Beulah, Florida.
He said Gonzalez was motivated by "simple greed" -- pointing to testimony from the defendant's wife that the family's business, a karate school, had gone under and they had dwindling means to take care of their six children. Leonard Gonzalez knew Billings, who gave $5,000 to a self-defense charity he started, and he knew he had money, Molchan said.
Gonzalez provided the all-black clothing, boots and guns and briefed the attackers prior to the invasion, according to Molchan. He said that Gonzalez also did "all the talking [and] all the muscling" when the group entered the residence.
"The puzzle pieces all come together, and they prove an ugly story," said Molchan. "There is no doubt that Leonard Patrick Gonzalez is the man who had his finger ... on the trigger."
John Jay Gontarek, one of Gonzalez's attorneys, criticized the state's case as overly reliant on circumstantial evidence and two men, Rakeem Florence and Thornton, who confessed their involvement and named Gonzalez as the leader of the band of masked men and the shooter.
Florence said there was no mention anyone would be killed until he overheard Gonzalez say he was "going to kill somebody" minutes before they went to the house.
Prosecutors called the testimony of the two -- who were age 16 and 19, respectively, when the crime took place -- measured and reliable, and supported by the other evidence in the case. But both Florence and Thornton, who have pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for their roles, admitted first lying to family and law enforcement before changing their stories.
"They're hanging their hat on the testimony of those admitted liars," Gontarek said of the prosecution.
DNA tests on the 9 mm pistol and bullet casings that killed the Billings' couple did not conclusively point to Gonzalez, Gontarek pointed out. He said, too, that there was minimal effort to clean the alleged murder weapon.
"We don't have to prove who the killer was," Gontarek said. "No matter how tragic this murder is, if you have one reasonable doubt, then you have a duty to return a verdict of not guilty."
Florence and Thornton testified that Gonzalez said they were after $13 million of money laundered from "the Mexican mafia." A small safe that was stolen and later found in the back yard of one of Gonzalez's friends contained prescription medication, family documents and some jewelry. Two sources familiar with the investigation told CNN that a second safe at the home contained at least $100,000.
In final comments, Molchan reminded the jury of Gonzalez's own words after he first spoke to police, when he reportedly said, "I'm in deep, I'll take the heat."
"The defense attorney labeled [Leonard] Gonzalez as being somewhat goofy," said Molchan. "Folks, he's not goofy. He's a murderer -- a plain, cold-blooded murderer."
The penalty phase in Gonzalez's trial starts Friday morning, Judge Geeker said.
Another defendant in the case, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, was acquitted on all counts against him.
"This is really a victory not just for me, but it is a victory for patients everywhere in our nation who suffer chronic pain,and physicians who treat difficult chronic pain every day," Kapoor said outside the courthouse.
The jury failed to convict any of the defendants of providing drugs to a known addict, which was the linchpin of the prosecution's case.
Stern was acquitted on seven of the nine counts he faced.
"These were all the counts related to whether the medications were for a legitimate medical purpose or for whether Anna Nicole was an addict," Stern said. "What the jury did find me guilty of were two conspiracy counts limited exclusively to my name being used on medications for Anna. This was done to protect Anna Nicole's privacy and it was nothing more than that."
The verdicts came in a complex case that included two months of testimony and 13 days of jury deliberations.
Stern's attorney, Steve Sadow, said after the trial that the conspiracy conviction for his client was for Stern having given his consent to Eroshevich to use Stern's name on prescriptions intended for Smith.
The charges against Eroshevich, a psychiatrist who flew to Smith's side in the Bahamas after her son's death in 2006, were related to using Stern's name and another woman's name to write prescriptions for Smith.
Stern and the doctors were charged with conspiring to feed the reality TV star and Playboy model's drug addiction, and using false names to obtain the drugs over the last three years of her life. The three defendants were not charged in Smith's February 2007 death in a Florida hotel, which a medical examiner ruled was an accidental overdose of a sleep aid combined with the effects of a viral flu.
After the verdicts were read, Eroshevich said she "felt good," despite the conviction because she was prepared for the jury's decision.
The case raised questions about ethical boundaries in a doctor-patient relationship, the prescribing of painkillers and anti-anxiety medicines and the use of fake names when treating celebrities.
The defense called only one witness -- an expert who concluded that Smith suffered from chronic pain, depression and anxiety, not drug addiction.
Her drug dependency was legal since it was for legitimate medical purposes, including for treatment of her pain and anxiety, defense lawyers argued.
The prosecution said the doctors never said no to Smith's drug-seeking because they wanted to be part of her celebrity entourage.
False names were used by Stern and the doctors to hide excessive prescriptions from the state's computer system that monitors drug usage, prosecutors argued. The defense said it is a common practice in Hollywood, used to protect celebrities' privacy from prying tabloid reporters.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry hinted before the verdicts were returned that if any defendants were found guilty, he would consider "possible selective prosecution issues" when sentencing them. He would have the power to reduce most of the felony charges to misdemeanors.
After the verdicts were returned, Perry set sentencing for January 6. Stern and Eroshevich could face a maximum of three years each in prison, according to the prosecutor's office.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
News Enterprise- A documentary is in the works about the May 14, 1988, Carrollton bus crash that killed 27 and injured many others.
The Radcliff church bus was hit by a drunken driver on the way home from a youth trip to Kings Island.
Interviews and re-enactments will be shot around Hardin County after filming begins.
The film, “Impact: After the Crash,” will be directed by Kentucky filmmaker Jason Epperson. The film centers on the story of former University of Kentucky football player Harold Dennis who was one of the youth injured in the crash. Other stories of those affected by the crash also will be used in the film.
Producers are now seeking financial support to back the project. For more information, go to www.theimpactmovie.com.
NEW YORK - Mixing alcohol and caffeine is hardly a new concept but a rash of cases involving students and others who landed in hospital after drinking beverages that combine the two has alarmed college and health officials in the United States.
The drinks are dangerous, doctors say, because the caffeine masks the effects of the alcohol, keeping consumers from realising how intoxicated they are.
A brand called Four Loko - a fruit-flavoured malt beverage that has an alcohol content of 12 per cent and as much caffeine as a cup of coffee - has come under scrutiny after students who drank it in New Jersey and Washington ended up in emergency rooms, some with high levels of alcohol poisoning. The drink is only sold in the US.
"This is one of the most dangerous new alcohol concoctions I have ever seen," said Dr Michael Reihart, who said he had treated more than a dozen teenagers and adults during the past three months after they drank Four Loko.
"It's a recipe for disaster because your body's natural defence is to get sleepy and not want to drink but in this case you're tricking the body with the caffeine."
The Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing whether the drinks are safe. THE NEW YORK TIMES
(10/26/10) NORWALK - School officials in Norwalk are warning parents about a dangerous substance they say students are smoking as an alternative to marijuana.
Briggs High School Principal Alaine Lane says a student was hospitalized after smoking "herbal incense."
Experts say the drug is not only more potent than marijuana, but when teens see it on store shelves, they think, "it can't be that bad." They say the substance is marketed as "incense" under names like "K2" and "Mr. Nice Guy," and carries a warning that it should not be consumed or inhaled.
Some states have banned the substance altogether, and after seeing the effects first hand, Lane says Connecticut should follow suit.
Police launched a search for Zahra on October 9, but no one other than a family member has reported seeing her since September 25, when a woman saw her at a furniture store. The girl's disappearance is now being probed as a homicide.
Adkins said that the prosthetic leg is "consistent with" that of Zahra, a freckle-faced youngster who lost her leg to bone cancer. It was found late Tuesday afternoon off Christie Road in Caldwell County, he said, and authorities are using its serial number to confirm it belonged to the young girl. Zahra got the leg in Australia, where both her birth parents are from.
Prodded by what Adkins described as "new information," investigators returned Wednesday to the residence that Zahra Baker lived in with her father, Adam Troy Baker, and her stepmother, Elisa Baker.
"We're looking for any piece of evidence that can help in that investigation," said Adkins, noting several such pieces had been found Wednesday.
A day earlier, employees at Foothills Environmental Landfill in Lenoir, North Carolina, found a mattress that investigators believe belonged to Zahra and was thrown out by her parents in early October -- just days before she was reported missing.
The disappearance of Zahra, who had persevered through numerous health battles and wore hearing aids, has made international news.
Police said the missing girl's stepmother, Elisa Baker, admitted last week that she planted a fake ransom note the day after the girl's disappearance was reported.
Initially arrested on October 10 on several charges unrelated to Zahra's disappearance, including writing worthless checks, Elisa Baker was additionally charged with obstruction of justice for leaving the note. That charge is a felony.
She is now cooperating with investigators, Hickory police said in a statement issued Tuesday. The previous day, she had joined police as they searched for evidence at a site near a home she lived in three years ago.
Zahra's father was arrested just after 3 a.m. Monday in nearby Catawba County on eight charges, including five counts of submitting worthless checks and three counts of failing to appear in court.
Police earlier acknowledged that Adam Baker faced bad-check charges, which are unrelated to the disappearance of his daughter. But they did not initially arrest him, as he had been helping authorities in their search.
Adam Baker was at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport picking up a family member Sunday before he voluntarily went to the Police Department in Hickory, about 60 miles northwest of Charlotte, to talk to authorities.
Family members and neighbors have told reporters that Zahra's stepmother abused her. Her attorney has denied the allegation.
Police have said they had been in contact with Zahra's biological mother in Australia and asked for the girl's medical records.
Mindy Doster was a 17-year-old junior at Mountain View High School in Vancouver. She was struck near Evergreen Highway and 115th Court at about 5 p.m. Thursday.
Gus Melonas, a BNSF spokesman, said Doster was walking on the south side of the tracks near the Columbia River when she was hit by the train overhang.
The westbound train was traveling at a speed of 55 mph, investigators said. A railway spokesman said police found an iPod near Doster’s body.
Doster was the 15th person to be killed by a train in Washington this year.
Officers arrested and charged 52-year-old Harold French in the assault and eventual death of Carla Pedraza this past summer.
Investigators said Pedraza was attacked in an open lot underneath Northeast Cesar Chavez Boulevard near Interstate 84 and Halsey Street on June 30.
Pedraza was rushed to the hospital but died on July 6 of injuries caused by blunt force trauma, police said.
French was scheduled to appear in court on a bail hearing but instead entered a plea of no contest to the murder charge and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
We're learning disturbing details about the condition the body was in when it was found, and the criminal history of the man investigators are now looking for.
The man who lives with the suspect thought initially that this was a pre-Halloween prank. Investigators say it was anything but after they found the badly decomposed remains of a woman on the side of this house in the 7500 block of Split Oak Court.
"I had just moved in, so it's somewhat disconcerting," said roommate Ed Hanson.
Acting on a Crime Stoppers tip, deputies last week searched the property, looking for a barrel which they were told contained a body. The tipster said property owner Dennis Anderson confessed to killing the person inside. Hanson, who also lives at Anderson's home, gave investigators permission to search.
"Speechless. That something like this happens is something you read about in the newspaper, but never happens to you," Hanson said.
Deputies opened the rusty barrel. Hanson says he got a brief glimpse of what was inside, what he says appeared on top just to be peat moss.
"The level was down to midway, so there was significant decomposition; there wasn't much left," said Hanson.
According to court documents, the barrel appeared to be old and rusted and had some black paint on it. The bolts at the top of the barrel also appeared to be rusty. Dirt was placed inside the barrel on top of the female body. The body was wrapped in a bed sheet, and then two black trash bags were wrapped around there. Investigators stated, "the legs had been tied together utilizing what appeared to be weed eater line that was also tied around the neck of the unknown victim."
According to investigators, the body appeared to have been decaying for several months.
Hanson says he just moved in here two weeks ago after finding the room here for rent through craigslist.org. Anderson was his landlord and roommate. Hanson describes Anderson as straightforward, yet somewhat distant.
"We were able to talk and seems like a nice guy," said Hanson.
He hasn't seen Anderson since last Tuesday. He doesn't think he'll ever see him again.
The remains have been sent to forensics for identification and a cause of death.
Authorities are looking for Anderson so they can question him about the body. Anderson, 64, has been charged with tampering with a corpse. Bail has been set at $50,000.
Jason Clark of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed that Anderson has been convicted twice before on murder charges -- once in 1972, and again in 1973. Both times he was sentenced to life in prison. He served nearly 17 years before being paroled.
State parole officials say Anderson was released in part because he earned an Associate's degree, 60 hours towards a Bachelor's degree and because he helped hold off other offenders who were attacking prison personnel early on in his incarceration during a prison riot.
We've also learned that Anderson has an arson conviction and two theft convictions, one of which was as recent as this past July when he served less than a month in custody.
Investigators want to find and arrest Anderson. If you help you can qualify for a reward through Crime Stoppers of up to $5,000. Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477 or the Harris County Sheriff's Office homicide division at 713-967-5810.
Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson said officers arrived at a home at Northeast 127th Avenue and Burnside Street at about 2 a.m. Sunday to assist medics after a call of an injured child.
Police said they learned the mother had attempted to perform a medical procedure on the infant.
The child was taken to a hospital, Simpson said, and is expected to survive.
Detectives from the police bureau’s child abuse team and state officials are investigating.
No arrests have been made at this point, Simpson said.
A Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report said the child was bitten by the dog inside a home on Dickson Road in Arlington Sunday night.
Police said when they arrived, a rescue worker was carrying a small baby from the home. The baby, identified as 3-day old Justin Valentin, was transported to a local hospital where he later died of his injuries.
Police said owners had secured the dog inside a cage at the home by the time they arrived.
Today, the infant's mother asked for privacy while the family mourned. DCF is investigating and said the pit bull "went after the infant."
"It was my understanding the parents had put the baby in a room and left it briefly to do something," said Scott Trebatoski, spokesman for Animal Care and Protective Services.
The male dog, named Biggs, was put down yesterday at the request of the owners, he said.
"This dog looked very well cared for. It didn't look abused. It didn't look like there were any outward signs that this dog would have done what it did," said Trebatoski, who added that the dog appeared to be a year and a half old.
"This is an active ongoing investigation," according to a JSO police report.
Now, Finley, a rock singer/guitarist, is being called a "person of interest" in the death of his wife, Laura, reports CBS News Correspondent Jeff Glor.
The two, married 26 years, were celebrating the night before his try-out at the Millennium Biltmore hotel in Los Angeles.
Alexis Tereszcuk, a reporter for Radaronline.com, says, "Joe told us that he and Laura both took an ecstasy pill, and they had been drinking in a bar."
What happened after that remains a mystery.
Laura vanished overnight.
According to published reports, Joe says she left the room around 3 a.m., headed for the ice machine, and never came back.
The next morning, Joe reported her missing to the hotel -- then headed to his audition, Glor says.
While he was waiting to perform, Laura's partially-clad body was discovered in a hotel stairwell. She had fallen eight stories to her death.
"The police approached him at the audition," Tereszcuk says, "showed him a picture of her face (which was) battered and bruised -- and he immediately said, 'Oh, she's dead.' The police didn't tell him she was dead."
Later that day, police questioned him and arrested him on charges of drug possession.
They haven't classified the case as a homicide.
Finley recorded his final hours with Laura, and his parents have seen the video.
They say the couple seemed very much in love. "They were kissing on the bed, happy as can be," says Joe's mother, Marianne Parenteau. "They were so excited. She was typing info for him. She was telling him what to say at the audition. … She was quite sober, quite rational."
Joe reportedly didn't tell Laura's family about he death until Monday, Glor says, two days after she was found.
Toxicology tests, to determine whether Laura had drugs in her system may take several weeks.
Bloody-Disgusting.com- Unreal, we're in the Twilight Zone, right?
While this news doesn't come as much of a surprise, especially considering the release date removal of the Poltergeist remake, the extreme date bump to Cabin in the Woods (now January 2011), and the fact that barely any movies have really gone into production (Amityville Horror, Motel where are you?), it was announced today that MGM will essentially be auctioned off within the next few weeks.
What does this mean for all of their titles? Only time will tell. What I will say is that I'd do anything for Lionsgate to get their classic horror library so we can get QUALITY Blu-ray releases (it's a fact that most of MGM's Blu-rays are all up-converted garbage).
MGM may be the best known logo in the entertainment business, but the company seems headed for another possible garage sale.
Several sources say they expect that MGM will essentially be auctioned off within the next few weeks.
This would mean that a major, such as Time Warner, could buy the MGM-UA library while another entity might acquire the logo, and yet another deal could be made for United Artists. Sources speculated that Kirk Kerkorian, who has already bought and sold MGM twice, might buy the logo once again.
Last summer Harry Sloan was bounced as MGM's CEO and Stephen Cooper, a specialist in restructuring companies (Krispy Kreme was one of his projects) started meeting with bankers with the aim of restructuring some $3.7 billion in debt. There was speculation that the combined assets of MGM may now yield as little as $1.5 billion in the present market.
The various equity owners of MGM, including several private equity firms, have already written down their $5 billion acquisition, which closed in 2004.
MGM's library contains 4.000 titles, but some specialists in film libraries consider its list of titles to be geriatric.
Any sort of auction would need approval of a two-thirds majority of the bondholders, and a coupld of the bondholders insist they have not been contacted as yet. Some sources believe a pre-packaged bankruptcy is still an option, and there is still an expectation that Time-Warner might make a last eleventh hour bid.
Neither Cooper nor MGM would comment.
MGM's released only a remake of "Fame" this year. For 2010, it's opening two comedies -- "Hot Tub Time Machine" in March and "The Zookeeper" in October -- and a remake of "Red Dawn" in November.
GigWise- Bryan Ferry debuted his new solo album at an intimate gig in London last night.
The Roxy Music frontman played five tracks from 'Olympia' during the private gig at art dealership Phillips de Pury & Company.
Ferry, who was surrounded by images of the album's Kate Moss-featuring cover, was accompanied by his full band, as well two backing dancers.
He kicked off his set with first single 'You Can Dance', before playing 'Shameless' and current single 'Heartache By Numbers'.
Ferry spoke sparingly, expect to thank those who had helped him record the album, which was released this week.
He then surprised the already-excited crowd by closing his performance with his classic hit, 'Let's Stick Together'.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
“Basically, Toni is gone. We don’t have her anymore,” said Keller’s cousin, Mary Tarling. “Sometimes the details don’t matter when you bring it down to that. You can’t fix that.”
A poster distribution scheduled for Sunday on the Northern Illinois University campus was cancelled, said Tarling, who had planned to attend the event.
DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen announced late Saturday that investigators with the DeKalb County Major Case Squad found human remains in Prairie Park, along with what appeared to be some of Keller’s personal belongings.
Keller’s family was notified Saturday that the missing person case was reclassified as a death investigation.
Police also asked everyone to think hard about Oct. 14, the day Keller was last seen. If anyone remembers any suspicious activity or suspicious people near DeKalb’s Prairie Park about noon that day, the time Keller was reportedly there, they are asked to call police.
“All we can do is hope for answers over time, which is where we hope … something will surface.” Tarling said. “Someone will say something or remember something.”
Keller was reported missing Oct. 15, one day after she told friends she was going for a walk in the forested 150-acre park.
An intense search for Keller ended Saturday with the discovery in the park.
The mood on campus was somber Sunday, as the news sank in.
“Obviously there’s a lot of sadness, especially for those who knew her,” said NIU spokesman Joe King. “There’s a lot of disappointment that this didn’t turn out better. We were all hoping for a much happier outcome. We wanted to bring her home.”
Because of the shift in the case, police and NIU officials tightened security and increased the police presence on campus.
Campus police extended the late-night ride service schedule and are offering security escorts 24 hours a day. Residence halls are only accessible to residents.
The most recent advisory posted on the university’s website includes safety tips, such as using well-lit routes, and avoiding isolated areas and solo walking trips.
King said he didn’t get the impression that students are fearful and added the safety tips were repeated simply to reinforce them in people’s minds.
“Those precautions are standard precautions we give to students, that any university would give to students,” King said. “We wanted to refresh their memory if out after dark to travel with a group, to avoid areas that are not lit. Things we always try to keep in the forefront of their minds.”
The DeKalb County Major Case Squad investigators are asking anyone with information about Keller’s case to call 815-748-8407.
A judge ruled on Friday that roughly 10,000 pages of internal records could be made public after a years-long legal battle between those who claimed abuse and the diocese. The records are from the personnel files of 48 priests who were either credibly accused or convicted of sexual abuse or named in a civil suit.
The 144 plaintiffs settled with the diocese in 2007 for nearly $200 million; the agreement provided that an independent judge would determine what personnel records could be made public.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the files showed how much the diocese knew about abusive priests, starting decades before any allegations became public, and that some of the accused priests were shuffled from parish to parish or overseas. A spokeswoman for the diocese did not immediately return a call.
The papers include documents from the files of the Rev. Anthony Rodrigue. In 1976, a group of parents at Father Rodrigue’s parish, in Heber, Calif., complained that he had molested their children. He was sent to a psychiatric facility but was put back into the ministry despite the recommendations of those who treated him.
Police were dispatched to 160 Homeland St. about 4:50 a.m. Sunday after the mother of Michael D'Avanzo, 44, reported that her son was threatening to kill himself. D'Avanzo, who owns both rifles and hand guns, was loading one of the weapons when she fled from the residence, which they shared.
The mother believed she heard one gun shot as she left, she told police. D'Avanzo was considered by officers who arrived on the scene to be a barricaded subject, armed and dangerous.
Officers from the Fairfield Emergency Services Unit secured a perimeter around the home, and helped to evacuate nearby residences. They were assisted by the Bridgeport ESU and its utility vehicle, which is able to withstand gun fire.
After several unsuccessful attempts by Fairfield police negotiators to reach Michael D'Avanzo by phone, ESU officers entered the residence and found the man's body in a bedroom, apparently the victim of a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
Detectives are continuing to investigate the incident.
Steven Hayes was convicted in New Haven Superior Court, where testimony resumes Monday.
Hayes was convicted earlier this month of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, at their Cheshire home in 2007.
The jury will decide whether he deserves execution or life in prison.
A psychiatrist testified last week that Hayes told him he wanted to testify and "look like a monster" by expressing no remorse so that the jury would impose capital punishment.
But the psychiatrist said he did not know if Hayes genuinely wanted the death penalty.
The 15th juror was picked Friday in the case against 49-year-old Carlos Trujillo of Bridgeport, who is charged with Andrew Kissel's death. Trujillo was Kissel's chauffeur.
The trial is expected to start Nov. 1.
Kissel was found dead in his basement in April 2006, just days before he was to plead guilty in a multimillion-dollar fraud case.
Carlos Trujillo's cousin, Leonard Trujillo of Worcester, Mass., pleaded guilty last year to reduced charges of manslaughter and conspiracy. He's agreed to testify against his cousin.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
In a 48-minute video posted today on militant websites, Adam Gadahn said that it is a duty and an obligation of Muslims to defend Islam.
"It is the duty of everyone who is sincere in his desire to defend Islam and Muslims today, to take the initiative to perform the individual obligation of jihad ... by striking the Zio-Crusader interests," he said, referring to Western and Jewish interests.
Gadahn, who has been hunted by the FBI since 2004, also tried to discredit attempts by moderate Muslim leaders to suppress the "jihadi awakening."
The video was made available by the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity.
Gadahn grew up on a farm in California and converted to Islam before moving to Pakistan in 1998 where he reportedly attended an al-Qaida training camp.
Unbeknownst to adult chaperones, Daniel Cho and two friends took the drug while they were on a bus from Seattle, Wash., to Vancouver, British Columbia, the coroner said. The boys were with more than 100 other Aragon High School students headed to Canada as part of a musical exchange program.
When the group made a stop at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, a popular tourist spot in North Vancouver on the evening of June 6, Cho climbed over a 4-foot-high fence and fell 100 feet into a ravine below.
The coroner has ruled his death an accident, and Canadian police won't file any criminal charges in connection with the case.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," said Scott Laurence, superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District. "It was a very sad, tragic event."
(COSTA MESA, CA) -- The Orange County Coroner’s office says it has identified a mummified corpse that was left in a car's passenger seat for 10 months in Southern California, according to police.
Earlier it had been estimated it could take weeks to identify what is believed to be the body of homeless woman because the remains were virtually just skin and bones and weighed some 30 pounds.
However the coroner’s office says it was able to rehydrate (restore water and/or other liquids) the body's bone-dry fingertips to obtain a usable fingerprint.
The coroner’s office will not release the name of the person until next-of-kin are notified, said police. So far police have this information on the body told by the owner of the car:
The dried remains were found Monday in a car parked illegally. The driver is said to be a 57-year-old former real estate agent from an upscale beach community, who herself had fallen on hard times and was living with friends.
The driver told authorities she befriended the homeless woman in a park in nearby Fountain Valley and told her she could sleep in the car. When the driver found the woman dead in the passenger seat, she was afraid to tell police, she said.
Police have not determined if the as yet unidentified driver will face any charges in the case.
The driver of the car said she last saw the homeless woman alive in December, but it was not clear when the driver discovered the body. The driver had placed a box of baking soda in the car to mask the smell and covered the body with a blanket and some clothes, said police.
Cops: Woman Drove Around With Body for Months
AP News- Police said Thursday they are conducting an investigation after discovering that a Southern California woman drove around, possibly for months, with the body of a homeless woman in her passenger seat.
Officers with the Costa Mesa police found the unidentified body on Monday after getting a call about a car partially blocking a driveway, Sgt. Ed Everett told The Orange County Register.
When officers arrived, they noticed a stench and saw a leg poking out from a blanket, he said.
The body was partially mummified and an autopsy found no signs of foul play.
The woman driving the car told police she let a homeless woman sleep in her car but the woman died in her car and she was afraid to go to the police, Everett said. The woman who drives the car, whose identity was withheld by police, told officers she had last seen the woman alive in December.
Because of the advanced state of decomposition, officials believe the woman had been dead anywhere from three to 10 months, Everett said.
Police also found a box of baking soda in the car, which the driver had used to try to cover up the smell.
The dead woman is believed to be from Fountain Valley and is in her 50s or 60s, authorities said.
Steven Nicholson sobbed as he entered the 24th District Court in Allen Park and listened as a judge read the charges against him: two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of felony homicide and two counts of child abuse. If convicted, he could spend life in prison.
His daughter, 15-month-old Ella Stafford, and his son, 13-month-old Jonathon Sanderlin, were discovered unresponsive in Nicholson's Allen Park apartment on Tuesday -- after Nicholson called 911at about 2 a.m..
When officers arrived, Nicholson was sitting on the floor with the bodies in front of him, Allen Park police Detective Jeff Miller told a judge.
Nicholson told police that he woke up and found the kids in the bathtub but his statements are "inconsistent with evidence found at the scene," Miller said without elaborating.
The Wayne County medical examiner ruled that the toddlers died from drowning and scalding.
Nicholson was being held without bond. No defense attorney was present at the court and it was unclear if he had retained one.
“The alleged facts in this case have affected even the most seasoned prosecutors in this office," said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. "We stand ready to bring this case to justice in a court of law."
Local 4 has learned Ella Stafford's mother, Taylor Stafford, was questioned by Allen Park police in connection with the case.
Police said they asked the mother pointed questions about where she was the night the children died.
Several neighbors reported to police that Taylor Stafford was at the home and fighting with Nicholson in the hours before the children were found dead. However, police said Nicholson told investigators he was the only adult home when the children died.
Stafford said she was supposed to go to a movie Monday night with Nicholson, but when he didn't call, she went to bed. The next morning, she found a missed call from him -- about the time police said he called 911.
"Right now, I'm trying to get them to give me a polygraph test, get my phone numbers, get my phone records. They have permission to do all that," Taylor Stafford said.
Nicholson's aunt, Sandra Kirby, told Local 4 she spoke to him on the phone while he was in police custody.
"He was broken down. He was crying, hysterically crying, and the words he said to me, 'Aunt Sandy, I did not hurt my babies. You know what those babies meant to me' and I do believe him because I seen him with them," she said.
“I’ve never been through this before. So, my first instinct, because I know Steve Nicholson so well, was that it was done intentionally,” said Jonathan’s mother, Sara McGee.
The children's mothers said they had talked recently about concerns for their children’s safety.
In one e-mail, she wrote to McGee that she thought the children were being abused.
“We’ve been fighting so hard to get the babies out of the house, but nobody would listen to us,” McGee said.
Police said Nicholson had full custody of Jonathon and court-ordered visitations with Ella.
McGee said she never trusted Nicholson and didn’t want him to be a part of raising her son, so she moved to Cadillac, Mich.
She said she was contacted by the court and told that Nicholson had been given sole custody because it had been decided that she was attempting to kidnap the child by leaving the area and refusing to allow Nicholson to see him.
“I’ve been through the police, I’ve been through the friend of the court, I’ve been through Child Protective Services numerous times, and nobody would listen to me,” McGee said. “Even when I brought evidence, they didn’t do anything.”
Police said Nicholson maintains that the children somehow turned on the tub and got in.
“He was such a good dad. Every time I seen him, he was feeding them or bathing them or taking care of them,” said Nicholson’s cousin, Dawn Hood.
Hood said Nicholson has called family members from jail and told them exactly what happened.
“He went toward the bathroom to open the door and found his baby girl on the floor and his baby son in the bathtub,” she said.
According to court records, Nicholson has convictions for possessing and distributing cocaine and drunken driving. His license has been suspended numerous times.
More than 50 people gathered Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil in Champaign Park outside the Valley Springs Apartments.
The public vigil was organized with help from Allen Park police.
Ella Stafford’s grandmother, Renne Demery, said Nicholson treated her granddaughter better than Jonathon, and that she had contacted Child Protective Services recently.
"Because over the summer, he sat him on one of the chairs on the back and the baby fell on his head and he grabbed him by the arm and yanked him," Demery said.
Police said officers have been called to Nicholson’s home several times for reports of domestic abuse.
Demery said she is estranged from Nicholson because he is dependent on alcohol and has been abusive.
"He would drink all day. Sip on a fifths all day. I would say, 'You can't do that. When you have children you have to give up your good life. You can't do that,'" Demery said.
Neighbor Candice Curcio said she often found the father roughhousing with the children.
"He would push them away, like, 'Come on, let's go, get in the house.' He was just very rough with them," said Curcio.
"Two little babies lost their lives and that's the long and short of it," said the Valley Springs Apartments owner Nancy Dascenzo. "I am destroyed that this could happen here, anywhere. Two little babies lost their lives."
A burial fund has been set up for Ella Stafford. Donations can be made to the Ella Gray Stafford fund at any Fifth Third Bank in metro Detroit.
Ella Stafford's funeral was Friday at the Martenson Funeral Home on Allen Road. Services will be held at the same home Saturday at 10 a.m.
The funeral for Johnathan Sanderlin will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Peterson Funeral Home in Cadillac, Mich. Visitation was Friday afternoon.
Lake County sheriff's detectives said they want to speak with Donald Otis Williams, 50, in the disappearance of Janet Louise Patrick, who was last seen on Monday. She was reported missing by friends two days later.
Detectives said Williams was caught on a surveillance camera at a Publix supermarket with Patrick on Monday.
Williams has been arrested in the past for armed carjacking, kidnapping and sexual assault, deputies said.
Ronald Jabalee Jr., 42, had been accused of killing Ronald and Christine Jabalee, both 58, in their New Baltimore garage in 2006.
"For count one regarding Christine Jabalee, we find the defendant not guilty," a juror read. "For count two regarding Ronald Jabalee Sr., we find the defendant not guilty."
The jury was seven women and five men.
"We had a few guilty (votes) because we had questions," said juror Cecilia Grzadzinski. "Once we all discussed it, we realized that there was no evidence. There was no evidence to base our guilty verdicts on. So, now, we just made a quick decision."
The couple’s death gained national attention after detectives revealed that “SSEUIC” had been written on the garage floor next to the couple’s bodies in Christine Jabalee's blood.
The message’s meaning has never been deciphered.
During the last week, Assistant Macomb County Prosecutor Steve Kaplan had argued that Ronald Jabalee Jr. killed his parents because of money and an addiction to the prescription painkiller Vicodin.
Defense attorney Stephen Rabaut had called the evidence circumstantial.
"Our client is naturally elated," he said outside the courtroom. "We just hope that our client is able to go about his business for the rest of his life with his wonderful family."
Christine Jabalee's sister, Claudia Seta, said she and other family members have maintained Ronald Jabalee Jr.'s innocence for years.
"There was no way that Ron did this," she said. "It was devastating to our family, my kids, my husband, Ron's family and his kids."
The Jabalee family owns RJ Meats in Detroit's Eastern Market.
Ronald Jabalee Jr.'s brother, Ryan, said he attended a few of the court hearings but stayed back at the family business on Friday.
"I am so happy right now . I've been sticking with my decision since this even happened. I was with my brother, by his side, through all of this," he said. "I'm glad I didn't have to be a part of the court process but I'm here working at the store, working with the family to keep the store going."
Ryan Jabalee said his entire family supports each other and will now move on with some peace of mind.
"It's been so hard but I've got my family members here, all the time," he said. "Now, we can move on, and I hope they find the real people who did this to my mom and my dad."