Monday, June 27, 2011

Bye-Bye Blago: Blagojevich Convicted on 17 Counts

Former Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich (a.k.a. Blago), was found guilty today in his corruption retrial. The jury deliberated for nine-days and returned a guilty verdict on 17 of the 20 counts.

Blago [54] was the Governor of Illinois at the time that Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. Blago had already been under investigation by the FBI (since 2005) for other corruption allegations. This was compounded after Obama’s senate seat was vacated in 2008 and new allegations surfaced that Blago was selling Obama’s senate seat to the highest bidder. The case against Blago involved pay-to-play and influence peddling allegations, including the alleged solicitation of personal benefit in exchange for an appointment to the United States Senate as a replacement for Barack Obama.

After an arrest, Illinois officials began calling for Blago’s resignation, however, he refused to step down, claiming publically that the charges against him were false and unfounded, and that he would be vindicated (Letterman, 2009). Eventually, Blago was impeached by the Illinois General Assembly and removed from office by the Illinois Senate in January 2009. After his removal, the federal investigation continued against Blago, and he was indicted on corruption charges in April 2009. The main charge against him for trying to sell Obama’s vacated Senate seat is bribery, which is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty. Offering and accepting money for a United States Senate seat is a crime under the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof…”

After 14 days of deliberations, jurors in the first trial last year said they found the case confusing, and they agreed on just one of 24 counts—convicting Blago only of lying to the FBI. Blago has clearly not taken this process seriously, particularly after his win in the first trial, boasting publically that he is innocent and will beat all charges in the next trial. Currently on Blago’s Twitter account (@governorrod) his profile reads: “Former governor of Illinois and innocent of all charges. I did not let you down. Follow me on this journey to clear my name and reveal the truth.” Apparently the jury did not agree with this statement.

In his corruption retrial, Blagojevich was charged with an array of counts, including wire fraud, attempted extortion, extortion conspiracy and conspiracy to solicit a bribe. Blago was found guilty on all 11 of the counts pertaining to the attempted “sale” of President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat in 2008. The jury returned no verdicts on two counts pertaining to attempted extortion and a not guilty on one count of trying to solicit of a bribe of an Illinois Tollway official.

Prosecutors painted a picture of Blagojevich as a desperate and selfish man who was jealous of Obama’s political rise. Jurors heard one tape in which Blagojevich complains to his advisors about his lot in life.

“I gotta tell ya, I don't wanna be governor for the next two years. I wanna get going. I'll, I, this has been two shitty fucking years where I'm doing the best I can trying to get through a brick wall and find ways around stuff, but it's like just screwing my family and time is passing me by and I'm stuck, it's no good. It's no good. I gotta get moving. The whole world's passing me by and I'm stuck in this fucking job as governor now. Everybody's passing me by and I'm stuck.”

In that same call Blagojevich curses Obama because the president-elect doesn’t seem to be offering him much in exchange for getting [Valerie] Jarrett appointed to the senate.
“I mean you guys are telling me I just gotta suck it up for two years and do nothing. Give this mother fucker, his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him!”

In a secretly recorded call on November 7, 2008, Blagojevich tells an advisor he wants to be the secretary of Health and Human Services.
“And if I'd get that, and, and, and if, if that was somethin' available to me and maybe it's really unrealistic, but if that was available to me I could do Valerie Jarrett in a heartbeat."

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who was called by the defense, actually helped the prosecution. Jackson said that Blago had asked him for a $25,000 campaign contribution. Later, Jackson’s wife applied for a job with the state but didn’t get it. At a subsequent meeting in Washington D.C., Jackson testified that Blago referred to the job and said, “You should have given me that $25,000.”

Blago has been anything but apologetic for brazenly abusing his power and adding to the public distrust of government officials. Blago will be spending a considerable amount of time in prison—wire fraud, alone, carries a 20 year sentence—where he will have plenty of time to ask his maker for forgiveness. In total, he faces up to 300 years in prison.

Judge James Zagel released Blago for the time being, but he barred him from traveling outside the northern district of Illinois without permission. A status hearing for sentencing has been set for August 1.

Knox Appeal: Guede & Two Other Inmates Provide Shocking Testimony

Today’s courtroom proceedings lived up to the hype, and once again provided a shocking new twist. Three more inmates took the stand today—one of them was Ivory Coast drifter, Rudy Guede, who has been convicted along with Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in the murder of Meredith Kercher.

Guede was called as a witness to deny the story of convict, Mario Alessi, who told the last hearing that Guede had told him that Knox and Sollecito were not involved. Guede entered the courtroom in handcuffs and sat 15ft. away from Knox and Sollecito.

Guede denied that he had said Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were not involved in the killing, and he read aloud the letter that he had written back in 2010. In the letter, Guede also denied the claims of Alessi, writing that (convicted child killer) Alessi’s claims were “the ravings of a sick and twisted mind, his ravings are the dreamed-up, untrue declarations of a monster.” Guede ended the letter by writing that the murder was “…a horrible homicide of a splendid young girl, Meredith Kercher, by Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.”

Defense lawyers said they did not know of the existence of the letter from the spring of 2010 before it was read in court today. This is quite shocking because it was something that I and TJMK had reported last week (TJMK has also posted this letter about a year ago as well). How could such high-profile defense teams not have known of this evidence?

Under cross-examination, Guede said he had written what he always believed. “The truth is what I wrote in that letter,” Guede said, but it “is not up to me to say who the killer was.”

Throughout Guede’s testimony today he was eyeballed by Knox and Sollecito. At one point Knox tried to interrupt his testimony and make a statement; but Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman said she would have to wait until Guede was done and had left the courtroom. Judge Hellman denied Knox the right to confront Guede directly. He said that she would have to wait until Guede was done and had left the courtroom.

After Guede had been escorted out of the courtroom, Knox stood up and made a spontaneous statement in Italian. “I am shocked and anguished by these declarations....he knows we weren’t there,” she told the court. “He knows we had nothing to do with it,” Knox said. “The only time that Rudy Guede, Raffaele Sollecito and I were in one room together was in a court room...He knows what the truth is. I don’t know what happened that night,” she added.

Sollecito stood next and addressed the court. “I've never seen him, don't know him...don’t know how he indicates me with Amanda Knox,” asserted Sollecito. He said that he and Knox have been fighting “these shadows” for four years. “[Guede] has destroyed our lives," Sollecito said and asked, “What position am I meant to defend if this boy doesn't answer (questions)?”

Each hearing thus far has had moments of the bizarre and surreal. Today, this would be provided by the testimony of two other Inmates—Alexander Illicet and Cosimo Zaccari—called as witnesses for the prosecution. Both inmates claimed that, while in prison, they overheard other inmates speaking of a plot among to testify in exchange for money and benefits; those other inmates, they claim, were the ones who came forward to testify at the last hearing. The person they heard was arranging things, they said, was Sollecito’s attorney, Giulia Bongiorno, who heads up Italy's parliamentary justice committee.

Inmate Alexander Illicet from Serbia Montenegro said Luciano Aviello had agreed to pin the murder on his brother “in exchange for 158,000 Euros—money Aviello desperately needed to pay for a sex change he had been wanting.”

Inmate Cosimo Zaccari—who is in jail for fraud, libel, criminal conspiracy and receiving stolen goods—said Aviello had confided that he was “contacted to create confusion in the trial.” Zaccari testified that Aviello told him he had been offered €70,000 ($62,400) by Giulia Bongiorno.

When asked about these accusations by reporters after the session, Bongiorno adamantly denied them, vowing to take legal action against her accusers. Kercher family lawyer, Francesco Maresca, called the statements of the two inmates, “extremely credible.” Bongiorno responded by saying, “We are beyond the realms of the reasonable,” adding, “Not even the prosecutors appear to believe this story and I will be reporting this libel.”

On June 30, the forensic experts will submit a report to the court detailing their examination, and they will testify to these findings at the next hearing, which is scheduled for July 25. Closing arguments should begin in early September, with a verdict expected in October.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Future Projection of Rudy Guede’s Highly Anticipated Testimony on 6/27/11

(Click HERE for all details on Monday's hearing)

The presiding judge in the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito appeals trial, Judge Claudio Pratillo Hellman, has order Rudy Guede to testify on 27 June 2011. Judge Hellman ordered Guede’s testimony in response to the testimony of Mario Alessi at the last hearing. On the stand, Alessi told the court that Guede told him that Knox and Sollecito are innocent, when they allegedly spoke in a prison conversation back in November 2009.

Guede was sentenced to 30 years for his role in the murder of Meredith Kercher, and he took the stand at Knox and Sollecito’s original trial, but refused to testify, as his appeal was still pending. Subsequently, Guede’s sentence was reduced to 16 years upon appeal and Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation upheld the verdict. So, since Guede no longer faces any further legal implications from any future statements, what will he say in his upcoming testimony?

It is clear that Guede was angered by Alessi’s statements, misquoting his involvement, if a conversation of this nature ever took place to begin with. Nonetheless, in a letter written by Guede on 3 July 2010—in response to Alessi’s claims—he wrote:

“It must be said that all I have heard in recent days in the media, about what has been falsely stated by this foul being by the name of Mario Alessi, whose conscience is nothing but stinking garbage, are purely and simply the ravings of a sick and twisted mind, his ravings are the dreamed-up, untrue declarations of a monster who sullied himself with a frightful murder in which he took the life of an angelic little human being…[Alessi] is telling lies about things that I never said to him…”

Guede closed the letter by writing:
“And finally I wish that sooner or later the judges will recognize my complete non-involvement in what was the horrible murder of the splendid, magnificent girl who was Meredith Kercher, by Raffaelle Sollecito and Amanda Knox.”

Back in 2009, Amanda Knox’s mother, Edda Mellas, claimed—on the Larry King Live Show—that:
“when he [Guede] was on the run and police were secretly wiretapping him, and he was talking to a friend of his, the friend said, ‘you know, they think Amanda was there,’ and he goes, ‘oh, I know who Amanda is and she was absolutely not there’” (Minute 3:28).

But this is a clearly false statement by Mellas, one of several she has made throughout this process. There were two calls made by Guede, both via Skype, which were recorded by police while he was on the run. In the first conversation, Guede claimed that he “wasn’t even there” at the cottage on the night of the murder. In the second conversation, Guede was reading a newspaper excerpt regarding the murder, which mentioned a rumor that Meredith’s clothes were put in the washing machine after she was murdered. In response to this, Guede says to his friend, “so if that really did happen, Amanda or Raffaele did it. Do you understand? That must have been them, if it really happened.” Guede explains to his friend that Meredith was “dressed” when he last saw her; “she had a pair of jeans on and a white shirt and a woolen thing.”

The calling of Alessi to the stand by the defense may have backfired on them in a major way. Now, Guede will take the stand, and there is a possibility that his unbridled testimony will be requested by Judge Hellman (i.e. his testimony on all facets of the story, not just a rebuttal to Alessi's accusations). This could spell disaster for the two defendants; however, it is very likely that if Guede sways from his original version, he may not be seen as a credible witness.

Out of the three suspects in the case—Knox, Guede, and Sollecito—Guede has told the most credible version of events. This is not to say that his version is credible, by any stretch of the imagination; but compared to Knox and Sollecito’s many versions, Guede’s comes off sounding the best, in my opinion. So, the question remains: what will Guede say on the stand come Monday?

Guede’s Version:

Aside from the one Skype conversation that Guede had with a friend, which was recorded by police (detailed above as the “first” conversation), Guede has always maintained the same story. In a nutshell, Guede has said that he had met Meredith on a few occasions prior to Halloween. According to Guede, it was on Halloween night that he and Meredith planned to meet up the next night at the cottage. Once there, Guede claims that he and Meredith got to talking and fooled around a bit. Guede claims that they both wanted to have sex, but had no condoms, so he resisted.

Also, Guede said that Meredith had been upset at some point when she checked her underwear drawer—where she normally hid her money—and found that her money had been missing, and she suspected that Amanda may have taken it. According to Guede, Meredith shouted, “The money is gone! The money is gone! When Amanda comes back, I have to talk to her.” Guede said that Meredith informed him that she and Amanda had been quarrelling a lot about issues that she had with Amanda.

Guede then said that he went to the bathroom for about five-minutes or so. In that time he claims that he heard the doorbell ring and then minutes later he heard a “really loud scream” (all while he was listening to music on his iPod). Guede then asserted that he got worried and rushed out of the bathroom to see what the fuss was, not even pulling his pants up all the way in his haste. When he got closer to Meredith’s room he saw a man, but didn’t get a good look at him because it was so dark.

Guede could tell that the man was Italian because he didn’t have an accent. Guede explained that he and the man wrestled a bit before the man fled, screaming, “Black man found guilty!” He tried to save her, but she was bleeding very badly. Fearing that the police would not believe his story and think that he did it, Guede fled into the night, leaving poor Meredith Kercher to drown in her own blood.


Guede will likely stick to this story, if he will even have a chance to get to it, or he risks losing credibility. This may all be premature, however, as the judge may only allow the avvocatos (lawyers) to question Guede in regard to Alessi’s testimony. It is unlikely that Judge Hellman will allow the testimony at length, but if he does; this might be a very big turning point in the outcome of this trial.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Missing in America: A Savive Report

Indiana University sophomore, Lauren Spierer, has been missing back on 3 June 2011. Lauren’s story has received national attention—on CNN, America’s Most Wanted TV Show, etc—while others, such as the May 18 disappearance of 27-year-old Plainfield, Indiana resident, Morgan Johnson, go virtually unnoticed by the national media. Like Johnson, Spierer has a life-threatening heart condition that requires medication, but the pretty blonde woman’s case has attracted far more attention than that of the young African-American man.

An astonishing 2,300 Americans are reported missing every day, a number which includes both adults and children. According to the FBI, 692,944 people were reported missing last year, and fewer than 20,000 of those were cited as “involuntary.” That is still a big jump up from the approximately 150,000 people who were reported missing in 1980. Social scientists and criminologist say that of this dramatic increase in the past 25 years is due in part to the growing population. Yet, a big part of this increase is attributed to law enforcement and the fact that they take these cases more seriously now, particularly those of marginalized citizens.

Of those who went missing last year, 50,000 were above the age of eighteen—40 percent of missing adults were white, 30 percent were black, 20 percent were Latino, and the remaining 10 percent were of other races. While these numbers seem staggering, a large portion of missing persons are suspected runaways and another large percentage are family abductions. There are, however, a percentage of those who are abducted by complete strangers. Only a fraction (.3%) of those are considered to be stereotypical abductions or kidnappings by a stranger. Approximately 10 percent of missing persons in the United States never return. According to a Justice Department study, nearly 90 percent of the abductors are men, and they sexually assault their victims in half of the cases.

In 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) developed the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Initiative (NamUs), which provides national access to clearinghouse capabilities for reporting, locating, and matching missing person’s records to unidentified remains records. NamUs is made up of two databases: one contains records on unidentified human remains; the other contains missing person’s reports.

Before NamUs, the problem with keeping records of unidentified human remains was abysmal, referred to by some as the Nation’s Silent Mass Disaster. According to the first survey of the nation’s medical examiners (ME) and coroners—conducted by The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)—there were 13,486 unidentified human remains on record at the end of 2004. That same report also revealed that only half of the ME and coroner offices surveyed had a policy for retaining records on unidentified human remains

The true scope of the problem is also hampered by the fact that many law enforcement agencies consider an adult missing person to be a low priority, because adults can have many reasons to disappear; and although all cases of missing children 18 and under must be reported to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), only a handful of states require law enforcement agencies to submit adult missing-person reports to NCIC. The result of this is inconsistent reporting.

College campuses are some of the safest places in the country. A recent government report—compiled by the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Education and the FBI— says that 17 million students attend 4,200 colleges and universities in the United States. Between 2005 and 2008, there were 174 murders on campuses and 46 negligent homicides. Yet, despite these encouraging numbers, losing one person is one too many.

Anyone with information about Morgan Johnson should call the Plainfield Police Department at 1-317-838-3562. He drives a 1995 white Grand Am.

Anyone with information about Lauren Spierer should call the Bloomington Police Department of 1-812-339-4477 or 1-800-CRIME-TV. You can also email your tip to

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ATF’s “Operation Fast & Furious” Backfires

U.S.-Mexico border violence continues to plague the Unites States. This time, it is a failed program by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) called “Operation Fast and Furious” (OFF) that has everyone ‘up in arms.’ The reckless ATF program backfired, allowing thousands of weapons to get into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

The OFF program let some of the straw purchasers (those who buy guns for someone who can’t do so legally) walk off with semiautomatic weapons, enabling the U.S. government to move away from targeting small buyers and instead bring down entire arms trafficking networks when the guns were traced. Unfortunately, the weapons too often turned up again only after they had been used in subsequent crimes, including murders.

Back on 14 December 2010, Brain Terry [40], a former Marine who at the time was a member of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s special response team, was waiting with three other agents in a remote canyon north of Nogales, Ariz., when a frenzied shoot out ensued between them and a band of illegal immigrants that were trying to cross the border. One of the suspects was injured during the shoot out and taken into custody, while three others were later apprehended. Agent Terry, however, was not so lucky; he was shot and killed during the deadly gunfight.

When two guns linked to Operation Fast and Furious were found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Terry’s December slaying in Arizona, OFF finally made headlines, and the ATF came under “heavy fire” from critics of the program. Mexican officials say at least 150 Mexicans have been shot by guns obtained through the "Fast and Furious" program, and the Mexican government was obviously not privy to the existence of this operation until now.

The scrutiny only grew when statistics were released showing how disastrous the program actually had become. Over 2,000 guns—including AK-47s and .50-caliber rifles, and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition—were allowed to “walk” into the possession of Mexican narco-terrorist groups. The ATF admits that nearly 800 of these guns were used in crimes on both sides of the border, endangering American and Mexican lives alike.

OFF was a new addition to the ATF’s now-defunct “Project Gunrunner” program, which authorized several U.S. gun stores located near the Mexican border to sell thousands of semi-automatic firearms to suspected and known straw-purchasers. To make matters worse, Terry and his federal U.S. Border Patrol colleagues were using beanbag rounds in the shootout, fighting against illegals who were using semiautomatic weapons that the ATF had “walked” across the border.

Now the only question is how far up the chain of command the decision-making went. President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have both asserted that they did not authorize the program. So who did? Up to this point senior ATF officials have taken the brunt of the culpability, but lawmakers are looking at the Justice Department, which heads the ATF.

At a House Oversight Committee hearing last week—which was requested by the chairman of the U.S. House of Representative’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) and two other Republican congressmen—ATF agents told lawmakers that instead of arresting the small-time buyers, they were instructed to stand by and watch to see where the guns went in an effort to build a case against bigger arms dealers.

As Representative Issa called his hearing into session last week, congressional staffers handed out e-mails showing that the ATF’s acting director, Kenneth Melson (pic above), and acting deputy director, Bill Hoover, were both involved in overseeing “Operation Fast and Furious.” One e-mail from George T. Gillett, the assistant special agent in charge of the ATF’s Phoenix office, to David Voth, an ATF supervisor, on March 10, 2010—about nine months before the story broke — includes this sentence: “Not sure if you know, but Mr. Nelson and Mr. Hoover are being briefed weekly on this investigation.”

Special agents John Dodson, Olindo “Lee” Casa, and Peter Forcelli all told Issa’s congressional committee that their superiors ordered them to allow suspects to walk away with dangerous weapons, “often over their strenuous objections.” The agents testified that the strategy was never very likely to work, because serial numbers were the only means by which they could track the guns. GPS technology was unavailable. Forcelli called the techniques “delusional,” estimating that guns wound up in Mexico twice as often as the United States, and Casa said he had never heard of letting guns walk before he worked in the ATF's Phoenix office.

Forcelli, an ATF Supervisory Agent, told Greta Van Susteren (of FOX News), “This is a failure in leadership at all levels within ATF, and whoever was briefed at the top; this should have been roped in much sooner than it was… The attorney general of the United States oversees all of the Department of Justice, and ATF is a branch. What he knows about this case, obviously, I can't speak to that.”

“The department’s leadership allowed the ATF to implement this flawed strategy, fully aware of what was taking place on the ground,” Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) concluded in their report. “This hapless plan allowed the guns in question to disappear out of the agency's view. As a result, this chain of events inevitably placed the guns in the hands of violent criminals.”

However, complicating things even further, the Washington Post reported that Rep. Issa (pic above) was given highly specific information about OFF at an April 2010 classified briefing and did not express any opposition. Issa called the OFF program “felony-stupid bad judgment,” and has repeatedly called for top Justice Department officials to be held accountable for the OFF program. Yet, one source familiar with the session said, “All of the things [Issa] has been screaming about, he was briefed on.” Frederick R. Hill, a spokesman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Issa chairs, acknowledged on Tuesday that an ATF briefing on “weapons smuggling by criminal cartels” took place in April 2010 but declined to specify what Issa or his staff were told.

So, the bottom line is that we are left with a dead border patrol agent, a failed government program that has put thousands of weapons into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, and failed leadership at all levels—with no one stepping up and taking the blame for recklessly endangering American, as well as Mexican, lives.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Melson may be ousted this week in connection with the Operation Fast and Furious controversy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Driver of White Truck Ruled Out as Suspect in Lauren Spierer Case

Last Wednesday Bloomington police released a picture and description of a white four-door Chevrolet short-bed truck seen running a red light and circling around the area where (and at the time) Indiana University sophomore, Lauren Spierer went missing on 3 June.

Since that time, police have received a flurry of more than 500 tips, many pertaining to the vehicle, and investigators located the driver of the vehicle—who, after being closely scrutinized, was eventually eliminated from consideration as a suspect, police say. "That individual was extremely cooperative with law enforcement efforts, provided information as to why he was up in that area and as it turns out it was simply to pick up an employee," Bloomington police Captain Joseph Qualters said.

“The bottom line is at this point we still have a missing person,” said Qualters. “Our effort will not stop, and we will continue.”

This past Thursday night, more than 100 people attended a Take A Stand to Find Lauren fundraiser at Edgemont High School in Scarsdale, N.Y., where Spierer graduated in 2009. They donated to the Find Lauren fund and were taught yoga moves to send positive energy to bring Spierer home.

Yesterday, a tip of a suspicious odor led police, search crews, an evidence tech, and a helicopter to a wooded area south of Martinsville just off State Road 37—but proved to be another dead end.

Captain Qualters also says a bag of clothing removed from Smallwood Plaza on Friday had nothing to do with the case. However he says investigators continue to hold out hope and follow every lead.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Knox Appeal: Inmates Testify “Knox is Innocence”

Just as expected, five inmates testified to in an Italian court that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent, to the best of their knowledge. According to Barbie Latza Nadeau, (author of the Beast Book Angel Face), security was tight in Perugia today, as a string of blue prison vans pulled into the back parking lot of the central courthouse carrying some of Italy’s most notorious convicts.

First to the stand was Mario Alessi, who is serving a life sentence in Italy for kidnapping and killing 17-month old, Tommaso Onofri, in 2006, called by Sollecito’s defense team. Almost immediately after taking the stand, Alessi turned pale, became ill, and had to step down. After nearly an hour he finally returned to tell his story.

Alessi, who is being held in the same prison as Rudy Guede, testified that the Guede told him that Knox and Sollecito are innocent, speaking in prison conversations in November 2009, a month before the Knox and Sollecito were convicted. Alessi said Guede approached him during recreation time at the Viterbo prison. “Rudy links arms with me, inviting me to take a walk with him, he has something important to tell me,” Alessi told the court. He quoted Guede as saying he was worried because “I don’t know whether to tell the truth or not,” and that the truth “is altogether different from what you hear on TV.”

Alessi then testified that Guede said he and a friend went over the house with the intent of having three-way sex with Meredith Kercher. When she refused, the scene turned violent. Alessi said Guede told him he had gone to the bathroom and upon coming back he had seen his friend holding Kercher to the ground. Eventually, “a knife appeared, almost out of nowhere,” Alessi said, quoting Guede as saying that it was pointed at Kercher’s throat. Kercher began fighting, according to Alessi, and her throat slit got slit in the process. Guede tried to rescue her, Alessi said, but his friend stopped him.

Alessi testified that…

"Guede asked me what benefits he would get if he told the truth. He then said that he had met Meredith in a bar with some friends of his – one was called The Fat One. He said that one had got drunk and that he had followed Meredith home to see where she lived. A few days later he said he and this drunk friend went back to the house to see Meredith. They asked her if she would like to have a threesome and she had told them to leave."

"Rudy said he then went to the bathroom and that when he came back the scene was very different. He said that Meredith was on the floor, back down, and that his friend was holding her down by the arms. He said that they swapped positions. Rudy then told me that he had put a small ivory handled knife to her throat and that it had cut her and his hands were full of blood. He said that his friend had said: ‘We need to finish her off or we will rot in jail.’”

Note: The bold statement above is a huge inconsistency, because, by all accounts (Knox as well as others who lived in the cottage), Guede already knew where Meredith was living—he had been to the cottage twice before that. According to Alessi, Guede did not reveal the identity of his alleged accomplice. Alessi said he and Guede had developed a friendship in prison but eventually Alessi broke it off as he realized that Guede “said two innocent people were in jail” but did nothing about it. Alessi then contacted the lawyers representing Sollecito. Of course, being the humanitarian that he is, Alessi claims that he tried to convince Guede to “tell the truth.” Upon cross-examination, Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca held up a photo of the child Alessi murdered (Tommaso Onofri) and asked him, “Do you know who this is?” “No,” Alessi replied, looking away.

Three more fellow Viterbo prison inmates were called to back up Alessi’s story, including police informant Marco Castelluccio, who took the stand behind a blue cover, guards around him. Castelluccio said he heard the story about Knox and Sollecito’s innocent mostly from Alessi. He said on one occasion, however, he heard Guede say from a separate cell that Knox and Sollecito were innocent.

Another inmate, Luciano Aviello [42]—who served 17 years in jail after being convicted of being a member of the Naples-based Camorra—testified today claiming that his brother Antonio and his colleague had killed Meredith while attempting to steal a “valuable painting.” Aviello said that the Albanian—who offered him “work” in the form of a robbery—had inadvertently jotted down the wrong address, and they instead went to the house where Kercher and Knox were living, and they were surprised by Meredith’s appearance. According to Aviello, his brother and the Albanian man then committed the murder and fled.

Aviello (pictured above as a teenager) is from Naples, but was living in Perugia at the time of the murder. He claims that his brother, who is currently on the run, was staying with him in late 2007 and that on the night of the murder he returned home with an injury to his right arm and his jacket covered in blood. Flanked by two prison guards, Aviello described how his brother had entered the house Meredith shared with Knox and had been looking for the painting when they were disturbed by a woman “wearing a dressing gown.” So many convicts, which one to believe, if any?

“My brother told me that he had put his hand to her mouth but she had struggled,” Aviello testified. “He said he got the knife and stabbed her before they had run off. He said he had also smashed a window to simulate a break in.” Aviello said his brother had hidden the knife, along with a set of keys his brother had used to enter the house. “Inside me I know that a miscarriage of justice has taken place,” he asserted. Consequently, Aviello had been in the same jail as Sollecito and had told him: “I believe in your innocence.”

Knox's lawyers, Carlo Dalla Vedova and Luciano Ghirga, visited Aviello in Ivrea prison near Turin back in May 2010 and videotaped his statement and included it in their appeal request. Under cross examination from the prosecution it emerged that Aviello had also been convicted seven times of defamation to which he angrily replied: "That's because all of you, the judiciary are a clan.” As Aviello testified, Knox—dressed in an ankle length floral pattern white dress and blue top—listened intently, occasionally making notes or discussing points with her lawyer.

Rudy Guede will now get a chance to rebut all of the above at the next appeal hearing on 27 June 2011. Will he drop the bomb on both defense teams?

This may be the worst-case scenario that the pussyfooting Knox and Sollecito defenses tried to avoid for three years. Did they realize?

Oh yes, it’s true! Judge Hellman has ordered Guede’s testimony to counter that of Mario Alessi. Guede will be heard alongside two fellow-detainees and two Perugia officers. June is shaping up to be a real “scorcher” in this appeals trial. Guede had refused to speak on the stand in the original trial of Knox and Sollecito, because his appeal was still ongoing. Now, with Guede’s final appeal completed with Italy’s Court of Cassation; a real surprise could be in store.

Today's hearing, if nothing else, proves that both defense teams have abandoned the lone wolf theory--or they are at least willing to strongly entertain the idea that more than one person committed the murder. Not a good sign for either defense team, because it sends a confusing message that they are not committed to their earlier theory: that Guede was the sole assailant (7th paragraph).

Stay tuned here for continuing coverage...

Also posted on

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dalia Dippolito Sentenced to 20 Years: Judge Calls Her “Pure Evil”

Dalia Dippolito [28]—who was caught on camera two years ago promising to pay a hit man to kill her husband—was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison by Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath.

Click HERE to read back-story and see video

The trial lasted three weeks, but it took the jury only three hours to convict her back in May 2011. But clearly the most bizzare thing to come out of this trial was the attempted “reality-TV defense.”

During the trial defense attorneys argued that Mike Dippolito (Dalia's husband)was a fan of shows like the “Jersey Shore” and “Cheaters,” which led him to plan a fake murder-for-hire so he and his wife could get their own reality show. “It was a stunt that Michael Dippolito, whether he'll admit it or not, hoped to capture the attention of someone in reality TV,” Defense attorney Michael Salnick said. “Michael Dippolito’s hoax to achieve fame and fortune was a bad prank.” Dalia Dippolito expected her husband to tell investigators it was a hoax after she was arrested, defense lawyers said. But when Mr. Dippolito took the stand, he rejected the reality show idea. “It's ridiculous,” he said. “We are not here because of me.”

When that defense didn’t work, Salnick questioned how police went about their sting, noting that they invited along the TV show "COPS" to do the recordings. “If this is a real murder plot as they say it is…nobody went to warn [Mike Dippolito]? To tell him? Instead they go the morning of the day with 'COPS' in tow?” Salnick asked. Her defense was composed of three witnesses: her mother, a reality-TV expert, and a digital forensics expert. As captivating as the defense’s case was, alternate juror Sandra Clutter said she saw no smoking gun showing that Mike Dippolito devised the murder-for-hire plot in a play for reality-TV stardom. “It wasn't there,” Clutter said. “I saw the prosecution's evidence as being overwhelming. I had no doubt.” Meanwhile, Dalia made four attempts to kill her husband, including putting antifreeze into his tea.

As recently as April, before her murder-for-hire trial began, he saw things differently. Mr. Dippolito said he didn't want her to go to prison. What he did want was the money she stole paid back, their Boynton Beach house put back in his name, and the divorce finalized. But today Mr. Dippolito sang a different tune. Mr. Dippolito expressed his frustrations to judge Colbath regarding Dalia’s reality-TV-defense. “You should have said space aliens made you do it,” he said from the stand, looking directly at his pale wife in blue jail jumpsuit and waist chains.

“It would have been a better defense.” Then Mr. Dippolito went on a strange rant, venting his frustration about the approximately $191,000 in restitution he owes to victims of a telemarketing fraud he ran a decade ago. Until the money is paid, Michael Dippolito is still on probation. He says he gave Dalia the money while they were married—in a convoluted lending scenario–but she spent the dough. “I have about 14 victims who haven't been paid their restitution because of this. This girl doesn’t feel sorry for anything. I sat up here today and felt like I was getting shit on again.”

Prosecutor Elizabeth Parker asked Colbath to sentence Dalia to the maximum (30 years in prison). Defense attorney Michael Salnick acknowledged that she should serve some prison time followed by a long stint of probation.

Dalia wept as her mother, brother and sister asked for mercy. Her family described her as having been a shy, quiet girl who loved her family. Her younger sister pleaded to have her “role model” back.

Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath, however, pulled no punches in describing and sentencing Dalia Dippolito yesterday. “The clearest look into her soul,” he said, “came when police showed her pictures of her huddling with the undercover hit man she asked to kill her husband, and she still insisted she had done nothing wrong. She still thinks she has done nothing wrong.” Then the judge proclaimed that her plot to have her husband killed was "pure evil," and he scorned her for “taking advantage of a guy that was gullible. I haven’t heard an ounce of remorse. It was astonishing the cold-blooded denial that you’re willing to go to in order to avoid the obvious.”

Dalia stared back at him, hardly even blinking, as the judge sentenced her to 20 years in prison, minus the some 600 days she’s already served on house arrest.

After the sentencing Michael Dippolito said, “I’m just very glad it's over...I wish we were never here.” Then he riffed off his wife’s statement that she had made to the hit man, which was caught on tape (she’s “5,000 percent sure" she wanted her husband dead) saying, “…and as far as the sentencing, I’m five thousand percent happy with it.”

Salnick’s only comment after sentencing was there is sure to be an appeal. Speaking of the appeal, all of the testimony in the trial—of her trysts, her sexts, her murderous intent, police undercover videos and the surprise DUI arrest of the key witness in Boca Raton who supposedly was out of the country–will be looked at closely by her defense team.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mexican Drug War: US/Mexican Border Violence (part 2)

The nearly 2,000-mile-long border separating the United States and Mexico is one of the most frequently crossed and one of the most economically significant international borders in the world. With drug-related violence along the Mexico/U.S. border continually on the rise; however, lawmakers have been struggling to find the answers for what has been, and is increasingly, a full-scale epidemic. This month three US senators—Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer, and Sheldon Whitehouse—released a report entitled "Halting U.S. Firearms Trafficking to Mexico” (June 2011). The report was submitted to the US Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, and details ways to improve efforts to curb firearms trafficking from the United States to Mexico.

Based on updated ATF tracing data, the report states that of the 29,284 firearms seized and successfully traced in Mexico in 2009 and 2010, 20,504 (or 70%) came from a US source (i.e. gun shops, gun shows, or private sales). 69 percent of those firearms were purchased in either one of three US states: California, Arizona, or Texas.

The three senators noted that under federal law, background checks are not required for sales by unlicensed sellers at U.S. gun shows. They also noted that military-style weapons are readily available for civilian purchase in the US: “Many of these are imported from former Eastern bloc countries and then can be bought by straw purchasers and transported to Mexico…In addition, some importers bring rifle parts into the United States and reassemble them into military-style firearms using a small number of domestically manufactured components.”

Although this number seems daunting, it is down from a 2009 ATF report that stated “over 90 percent of the firearms seized in Mexico and traced over the last 3 years have come from the United States” (ATF, pg. 20, 2009). Still, there is no real way of knowing precisely how many rifles, handguns, grenades, and RPGs are in Mexico right now and being used by the Narco-traffickers, because these weapons have not been seized. Meanwhile, pro-gun groups, like the NRA and conservative media outlets, criticized the government statistics, claiming that they were exaggerated to support an agenda for restricting firearms ownership and stepping all over the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In the report, the three senators made several recommendations, in the form of stricter gun-control regulations, to help with the problem. One of their recommendations—More rigorous background checks—however, won't accomplish much because these gangs are wise to US law, and purchasers select those with clean records to do the purchasing.

Most of their suggestions involve increasing gun law restrictions:

1. Reinstating the assault weapons ban
2. Requiring all gun sellers at shows to run background checks
3. Requiring the reporting of multiple long guns
4. Banning the use of semi-automatic rifles for “non-sporting purposes”
5. Quick ratification of CIFTA
6. Expanded eTrace access for the Mexican federal police

As if the problem was not bad enough, this month it was reported by CNN that corruption is running rampant not only by the Mexican authorities aiding the drug-traffickers, but also US border agents. According to Charles Edwards, the acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, American border agents have been protecting and escorting traffickers as well as allowing contraband and unauthorized immigrants through inspection lanes. Edwards mentioned the Los Zetas drug gang, citing them as one of the leaders “involved increasingly in systematic corruption.”

At least 127 US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employees have been arrested or indicted for acts of corruption since October 2004, according to the Department of Homeland Security Commissioner, Alan Bersin. Responding to the reason for this problem, Bersin said that the rapid hiring spree pursued by CBP has come at the cost of hiring less qualified agents.

In March 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered her opinion of the role the US plays in the violent narco-trade in Mexico: “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.”

In a press release earlier this month, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)—coordinated through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program—announced that a large Mexican drug trafficking organization operating in metro Atlanta has now been dismantled after an indictment and a series of federal arrests; the indictment and arrests were the result of a three year investigation, code-named “Operation G-60.” Yet, despite this month’s recent press release from the DEA, 2010 has been deadliest year so far, with 15,273 drug-related murders—up 60% from last year’s number of deaths, 9,616.

Murders in Mexico’s drug wars have been detailed in a huge new release of crime data by the Mexican government. The Mexican government has released a database it says covers all murders presumed to have a link to the country's drug wars in which at least seven different cartels are fighting each other. The database is the most detailed official picture of the drug wars yet made public, showing the geographical distribution of the violence down to the municipal level. While no region has escaped, the killing is seen as particularly intense in northern and Pacific coastal states. Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from Texas, has been the most violent city since 2008 despite also have the heaviest federal presence.

There seems to be no simple solution to this problem. The drug cartels make so much money that combating them appears almost impossible. These cartels have expanded so much that they have broken down into many more cartels; each of them trying to maintain business and constantly fighting with each other. Even the big industrial city of Monterrey, which was dubbed the safest metropolitan zone for numerous years at the start of the millennium, has now been overtaken by drug-cartel violence; with gun fights near schools and near parks, civilian life (even in Monterrey) is no longer civil.

Yet, those like Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, continue to downplay the severity of this situation. At a port of entry in El Paso called the Bridge of the Americas, Napolitano asserted recently that, “Violence along the Mexican border is merely a mistaken “perception” because the area is better now than it ever has been thanks to the Obama Administration’s commitment to ‘fostering a secure and prosperous’ region.” Napolitano also proclaimed, “Unfortunately, misinformation about safety is negatively impacting border communities by driving visitors away and hurting local businesses, Napolitano says.”

Nonetheless, Napolitano’s recent description of a U.S.-Mexico border that’s “as secure as it has ever been” appear to be in direct opposition to a Pentagon assessment. According to officials at Judicial Watch, a public-interest group that investigates public corruption and fraud, U.S. Defense Department officials believe the border is actually a gateway for Mexican criminal organizations that have infiltrated the entire country and joined forces with terrorist groups. For months the nation’s Napolitano has repeatedly insisted that everything is safe and secure on the southwest border, even as violence escalates and overwhelmed federal agents are increasingly attacked by heavily armed drug smugglers.

Back in April 2011, a top Pentagon official contradicts Napolitano’s fairytale assessment, pointing out that Mexican criminal organizations extend well beyond the southwest border to cities across the country, including big ones like Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit, according to Judicial Watch. This official was apparently correct, as seen by this month’s DEA press release, detailing their dismantling of a large Mexican drug trafficking organization operating in metro Atlanta. Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) acknowledged the problem: “The U.S. is still not doing enough to safeguard its border with Mexico,” McCain told reporters in March 2011. “The violence level at the border is incredibly high, and we haven’t kept up with that,” McCain added.

In May 2010, President Obama authorized the deployment of up to an additional 1,200 National Guard troops to the Southwest border to provide support for surveillance, reconnaissance and narcotics enforcement to augment U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Customs and Immigration (ICE) authorities already in place. Those deployments began in Aug. 2010. Obama also requested $600 million in supplemental funds for enhanced border protection and law enforcement activities.

“Over the past year and a half, this administration has pursued a new border security strategy with an unprecedented sense of urgency, making historic investments in personnel, technology and infrastructure,” Napolitano said in a statement released on 19 July 2010. “These troops will provide direct support to federal law enforcement officers and agents working in high-risk areas to disrupt criminal organizations seeking to move people and goods illegally across the Southwest border,” she stated further in the statement. Napolitano also announced in July 2010 that more than $47 million in fiscal year 2010 Operation Stonegraden grants for the Southwest border states to support law enforcement personnel, overtime, and related costs. Nearly 80 percent of the funding will go to Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, up from 59 percent in 2008.


READ PART 3 (Fast & Furious)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Police Release “Two New Photos” in Ongoing Search for Lauren Spierer

Bloomington police released two photos today hoping to get tips from the public into the disappearance of Indiana University sophomore, Lauren Spierer, who went missing June 3.

The first image is of a white four-door Chevrolet Silverado or Colorado short-bed truck. The truck was first recorded by a surveillance camera at 4:14 a.m., on June 3, traveling westbound on 10th Avenue toward Morton Street, where it ran a stop sign and headed north on Morton, toward the building where Spierer last visited (Jay Rosenbaum’s apartment). At 4:24 a.m., the vehicle is seen again on video traveling west on 10th toward Morton.

“We’re talking a very close proximity to the location Lauren was last seen [at 11th and College],” said Bloomington Police Captain Joseph Qualters during today’s media briefing.

Police also released a photo of Lauren as she headed out for the evening on June 2, which was captured by Smallwood Plaza surveillance. She was wearing a white V-neck shirt with butterfly sleeves to the elbows and black leggings with zippers near the ankles.

Police have received nearly 1,000 tips in the case, more than 350 of which came from an episode of "America's Most Wanted" that aired Saturday.



Monday, June 13, 2011

Police Acknowledge “Rumors” That Missing IU Student May Have OD’d

For the first time since Indiana University Sophomore, Lauren Spierer [20], went missing, police have acknowledged that they have received information that Spierer may have overdosed on cocaine and that the student or students who were with her panicked and disposed of her body.

Bloomington Police Captain Joseph Qualters was asked by a reporter about these “rumors” this morning at a media conference. “Have we heard information along those lines? Absolutely,” Qualters responded. Qualters did say, however, that detectives have not ruled that, or any other possibility, out in their investigation into the Spierers’ disappearance.

Shortly after midnight on the morning of June 3rd Lauren Spierer was looking for someone to accompany her to the bar. Investigators believe fellow student, Corey Rossman (who lives at 5 North Townhomes), accompanied Spierer to Kilroy’s Sports Bar where she left behind her shoes and cell phone.

Spierer and Rossman left the bar that morning and returned to her off-campus apartment building, where a group of friends of Spierer’s boyfriend, Jesse Wolff, confronted him—and were apparently angry seeing him and Spierer together at her apartment. Rossman says it was at that time that he was punched in the face during a confrontation in the 5th floor elevator lobby of Spierer’s apartment building at approximately 2:45 a.m. Rossman’s attorney told Fox59 News that his client has no memory of the fight but was told that Spierer walked him home and turned him over to his roommate Mike Beth.

Salzmann said Beth claims that he put Rossman to bed while Spierer asked him if he wanted to party. Salzmann said when Beth balked, Spierer left Rossman’s apartment to visit Jay Rosenbaum, a mutual friend and fellow student, two doors down.

Rosenbaum reportedly told police Spierer left at approximately 4:30 a.m. to walk home and he last saw her near 11th Street and College Avenue, rounding a corner toward her building. Police said they have no video evidence of that.

“Obviously there are a lot of friends and associates of Lauren who will be able to provide us with information,” said Qualters. “We have an indication that the individuals who are not available will make themselves available to us (in the coming week) and we're encouraged by that."

Rossman, Beth, Rosenbaum, and Spierer’s boyfriend, Jesse Wolff, are all believed to be persons of interest, even though Wolff is reported to have spent the evening watching basketball and unsuccessfully attempting to reach Spierer.

Rosenbaum is represented by noted Indianapolis defense attorney James Voyles, and Wolff is being represented by Bloomington attorney Larry Lozano. Rossman and Beth have both provided DNA samples to Bloomington police.

Confronted outside their apartment Sunday, Corey Rossman and Mike Beth denied their identities to Fox59 News, and then complained that media coverage of the investigation was ruining their life. Rossman complained that while his vehicle was parked in a public parking that Fox59 News was violating his privacy and Beth threatened to call Bloomington police. Rossman then drove away.

Qualters also said today that they have video of one or two cars in the vicinity that they are interested in tracking down. They are seeking to enhance the video and may release photos to the public, hoping to speak with the driver or drivers in case they have information that can aid the investigation. The street, which he did not identify, is “not heavily traveled,” Qualters said. Police are not describing the car or cars in question at this time, saying they do not want be inundated with false leads.

Meanwhile, Lauren’s father, Robert Spierer, reiterated a $100,000 reward for information leading to the location of his daughter. Investigators also indicated they had received upwards of 40 tips Saturday night after Lauren's case was profiled on the Fox program “America’s Most Wanted.”



Friday, June 10, 2011

Knox in News: Seattle Judge Calls on Obama

Judge Mike Heavey Sr, is back in the news today. You know, the Seattle judge seen here at the home of the Knox family; the one who made the ridiculously erroneous statement, that Amanda Knox “was interrogated for almost two days without food or water,” at which time “she told officials what they wanted to hear." Apparently the Knox family was not eager to correct the good Judge and his ill-attempt at accurately presenting the facts. Apparently Judge Heavey is a neighbor of the Knox’s and his oldest daughter was a high school classmate of Amanda’s.

In any event, the King County Superior Court Judge, in his “capacity as a private citizen,” has written a letter to President Barack Obama, calling for him to launch an executive inquiry into the State Department’s entire handling of the Knox case. Judge Heavey’s letter to Obama cites seven violations of Knox’s rights under Italian law that he says “should have set off alarms at the Embassy in Rome” since the earliest days of her arrest and incarceration; yet Heavey says consular officials did nothing.

Heavey wrote to Obama that the “profoundly unjust process” has had a detrimental effect on U.S.-Italian relations. What the judge fails to point out is that it is fallacious statements, like the one he made in the first paragraph above; or CNN’s special Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story; ABC’s piece on Knox (on 20/20)—that have caused a spike in anti-Italianism in America.

However, the Amanda Knox saga has not affected our relations with Italy, politically speaking. Obama and Italy’s Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, ham it up in the pic above. Italy and the U.S. are still NATO supporters, and just a couple of months ago (in a continuing effort) representatives from both countries met in Washington to discuss the possibility of arming rebels in the fight against Muammar Qaddafi.

The United States and Italy cooperate closely on major economic issues. Moreover, according to a July 2009 statement from David H. Thorne, the United States Ambassador to Italy (appointed by President Obama), “The relationship between Italy and the United States has a long and rich history that dates back to the arrival of the first Italian immigrants on these shores in the 1800s—I am living proof of the close ties between Italians and Americans…Italy has been an important and steadfast friend and supporter of many of our foreign policy goals, both bilaterally and globally.” I think you get the picture.

Again, in the letter, Judge Heavey points out what he believes are seven violations of Knox’s rights under Italian law.

In #1 he asserts that the night Amanda was arrested, she was denied food and water and police “cuffed on the back of her head.” This is a claim that Knox made and is the reason why she is currently on trial for slander—as well as are her parents. Judge Heavey has no way of proving that Amanda was hit by police, and this “allegedly cuffing” should in no way be used as a fact, as the judge is using it.

In #3 he cites Italian law as stating that every interrogation must be recorded and Amanda’s was not. This is a valid point; although, the interrogation was not admissible in court. So, are we to throw out the trial based on this, even though it was not used in court? Judge Heavey knows better.

In #4 he proclaims that during her questioning/arrest, Amanda “was not allowed to have an interpreter to assist her in understanding the questions put to her, the charges against her, or anything else.” There was an interpreter at that interrogation, Anna Donnino, and she testified during the trial. Moreover, Amanda herself testified to the presence of Anna as the interpreter during that interrogation.

So, what does the judge expect to accomplish from this letter? Does he expect to have Obama and his men call Italy and say, “Stop the trial, this farce has gone far enough, we are the United States, after all?” I don’t think so. In my opinion, this letter was written just for effect—as a way to gain more supporters for Amanda’s cause and to add another voice (albeit being a judge at least looks like a legitimate one) to the already overhyped Knox PR campaign. Surely he knows that this letter does nothing to warrant any U.S. intrusion into the case, particularly at this point in time.

Nonetheless, Judge Heavey was charged on 8 June 2010 by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, (CJC) for speaking out in support of Amanda Knox, according to the West Seattle Herald. Judge Heavey is charged for having used court time, materials, and employees to draw up those letters. He wrote three letters to the prosecutors and a judge in that case in Perugia on County letterhead in 2008 while Knox was in prison awaiting trial.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Fears of Possible Serial Killer in Bergen County

Back in 2010, I wrote an article asking, “Is There a Serial Killer in Bergen County” after two women—Joan Davis [72] (Teaneck) and Dolores Alliotts [69] (Palisades Park)—were killed in similar fashion; both were stabbed repeatedly and set on fire in their Bergen County homes.

The talk of a possible linkage between these crimes had since subsided; that was until 7 March 2011, when 59-year-old software engineer, Robert Cantor, was found dead in his Elm Avenue home in Teaneck, NJ. An autopsy performed by the county medical examiner revealed that he “was killed by suffering a gunshot wound prior to the fire being set,” Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said in a release the next day.

Firefighters discovered Cantor’s body in the basement of his two-story home, after battling the three-alarm fire just after midnight.

Molinelli has previously said that the Davis and Alliotts murders are unconnected and both investigations are ongoing.

On 21 March 2011, Prosecutor Molinelli made a public statement asserting that the murders of two Teaneck residents over the last several months are not linked and there is no ongoing threat to the community. His comments came just before a closed-door meeting with the town’s community relations advisory board. In the meeting, Prosecutor Molinelli briefed the community board on the Davis investigation at the request of state Sen. Loretta Weinberg. The meeting was not public and reporters were not allowed to attend.

Additionally, Prosecutor Molinelli said, “If authorities believed there was any ongoing threat to Teaneck residents—including a possible serial killer—[they] would have alerted the public immediately.” He declined to release additional details of the crimes, citing the ongoing investigation.

Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin, the town council’s liaison to the board, said “the Davis case has not gone cold,” and Molinelli characterized the Davis case as an “aggressive investigation” and said investigators were confident the Cantor murder would be solved.

In regard the stab wounds as opposed to the gun shot wounds there are a couple of things. First, we must remember that the two that were stabbed were elderly women, which makes them easier for the assailant to overpower. Mr. Cantor was a male, and was shot before the fire was set. It’s possible to theorize that the assailant may have used a gun because the assailant was unsure if he/she could overpower Mr. Cantor. Secondly, serial killers do not always kill their victims the same exact way. For instance, The Grim Sleeper usually shot his victims, but two were strangled with no gun involved. The Boston Strangler is another example; no one single factor regarding the type of victim could be deemed essential in his selection process; although he seemed to prefer hands on means of killing, he could also use a knife.

So, are we looking at copy-cat killings; killings that are completely unrelated and mere coincidence; are new killers learning from other killers and setting fires to hide evidence; or is this the work of one person? These questions have yet to be answered, and the more bodies that keep showing up in this manner, the more people are going to fear the worst.

Prosecutor Molinelli is asking for anyone with information about why Cantor was killed and by whom to contact Teaneck police (201-837-2600) or the Major Crimes Unit of his office (201-226-5500).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Search Intensifies for Missing IU Student

Indiana University Sophomore, Lauren Spierer [20], went to Kilroy’s Sports Bar in Bloomington, IN, last Thursday night/early Friday morning (6/3/11) and has been missing ever since. Surveillance video at the bar shows Lauren drinking with a bunch of friends, and then leaving the bar with no shoes and without her cell phone at about 2:30a.m. Lauren then returned to her apartment building about a block away.

A search warrant was served to the Smallwood Plaza Apartments—where Lauren lives—at around 8:00p.m., Monday night. Oddly enough, even though the police had a search warrant handy, no one in charge at the apartment complex was willing to open the security room for them. So, police used a battering ram to brake down the security room door, where they removed three computers used to record and store information from the security cameras that record the surveillance video outside the complex.

Police say that they do have surveillance video from Lauren’s apartment showing her entering and leaving her apartment around 2:40a.m., on the morning of her disappearance. Police are searching the remainder of the surveillance footage to see if there is any other video of Lauren after that 2:40a.m., departure time. Lauren was with a friend at the time. After leaving Lauren’s apartment, Lauren and her friend headed 3 blocks north to another friends apartment. Lauren left there at 4:30a.m., and hasn’t been seen since. She was wearing black leggings, a white shirt, and no shoes.

Her purse was found in the dirt-riddled alley way that connects her apartment to her friends place. It is not known whether the purse was left there before she went to the friend’s place or after she left, according to Lt. Bill Parker, who supervises the investigation division in the Bloomington Police Department. “We believe the chance that there was foul play is very great because if not Lauren would have made contact by now,” Parker also said. Police have spoken to all of the friends that Lauren was with that night, they even searched the cars of her friends, and they have found nothing. Some credit cards were also missing from Lauren’s purse; a check has been made and none of the cards have been used as of yet. Her keys were also found on a railing near her apartment in downtown Bloomington.

Lauren’s parents, Charlene and Robert Spierer, held a press conference yesterday asking for people to continue praying for Lauren’s safe return and calling for anyone who has any information to come forward. “If anyone saw Lauren on Thursday night with anyone, please share that information with Bloomington police,” her father Robert said. “It doesn’t matter how casual the sighting was; we need to know when you saw her; where you saw her; every little piece of information we get is important.”

Hundreds of people have since converged on Bloomington to help in the search. Police, and volunteers, have canvassed the entire downtown area and they are sending more squads out a bit further, but as of now there is no specific area that police are asking people to search. Police also announced that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have assigned a field officer to assist with the volunteer searches.

Social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, are being used by many to help locate Lauren. The hashtag (#FindLauren) has been a top trending topic in recent days on Twitter.

Meanwhile, today on Twitter Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay pledged a $10,000 reward for “serious info that SOLVES Lauren’s Missing Persons…Contact Bloomy Police!!!!!”

Lauren Spierer is a white female who is 4-feet-11-inches tall, a slender build, with blue eyes and blond hair. She was last wearing a white tank top with a light-colored shirt over it and black stretch pants. Police are asking those who have any information on Lauren’s whereabouts to call or send an anonymous email or letter:

Bloomington Police
220 E Third St
Bloomington IN 47404



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Amityville Survivor Speaks!

Christopher John Quaratino [43], formerly known as Christopher Lutz, (one of the REAL children of George and Kathy Lutz, the protagonists of The Amityville Horror movie) has confirmed the haunting and is taking a stand-- challenging the makers of the new Amityville Horror movie!

In a rare comment from Quaratino, he said:

“George Lutz, brought the troubles on himself (and our family) by dabbling in the occult, it wasn’t just the House that was the problem. That’s why it followed us.”

Bob Weinstein in his joint deal with Miramax and Dimension announced at Cannes film festival that his company is moving forward with its new movie “The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes,” to be released in theaters 27 January 2012. Jason Blum who produced the “Paranormal Activity” films, which have grossed close to $400 million worldwide, is set to produce. Blum is quoted by Variety as saying, “I'm thrilled to be working with Bob to reinvent one of the all-time great horror franchises, and I think this new installment will really hit home with a new generation of moviegoers.”

In a recent comment Weinstein said, “We are thrilled to return to the mythology of the Amityville Horror with a new and terrifying vision that will satisfy our existing fans and also introduce an entirely new audience to this popular haunting phenomenon.”

In response to the films announcement, Quaratino has made a clear challenge to the makers of the movie:

“They want to reinvent the story? A whole new generation won’t know what really happened? Just as all those that don’t know, who have followed this story for the last 35 years. The time has come for me to set the record straight, a fresh look from an alternative perspective, through the eyes of one of the children who peered out from those iconic quarter round windows. An eyewitness to the actual events that occurred in the Amityville house and what followed.”

“Therefore, I am calling out The Weinstein brothers, Bob and Harvey, your producers and writers. And Hannibal Films who have already begun making the next movie sequels to the story that should have died so long ago “The Amityville Horror". To these companies, who are bowing down to the golden calf milking the story one more time allying themselves with the top horror writers and producers in the business.”

“I SAY THIS, at what you do, you are good, BUT WHEN IT COMES TO ‘AMITYVILLE and what happened after...I CAN TELL A CREEPIER STORY THAN YOU!”

“I am challenging you to a contest. The contest should be judged in the vein of American Idol, where the public casts their vote to decide the outcome, and ultimate winner. The specific categories to be judged, should be the very thing your audiences so desire. The best stories of all time are what they are, because of the very things I am challenging you in.”

“The specific categories are as follows:
1. You keep it Realistic. I'll keep it Honest.
2. Thought Provoking
3. Genuine Chill Producing (shocking jumps, don’t count)
4. Psychologically Impacting”

“If you choose to accept this Challenge, do so publicly. I await your answer!”

Quaratino is looking to generate enough media attention that the movie companies and the media take him seriously. He also appears very serious about setting the record straight. Quaratino has invited the public to follow along as he faces the demons of his past and the movie giants of today by logging on to:

and on Facebook at