Rittenhouse case raises question: What makes a fair trial?
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — At one point, the 18-year-old murder defendant stood behind the seated, black-robed judge and peered over him to review evidence. At another, on Veterans Day, the judge led the jury and others in the courtroom in applause for veterans just as a defense witness who had served in the Army was about to testify. And as the case neared its conclusion, the judge permitted the defendant to draw numbers from a raffle drum to determine which jurors would serve as alternates — creating the appearance, however small, that the defendant was helping to administer his own trial.
© Provided by Law & Crime Evidence flags were positioned on Golden Hill Street in Bridgeport, Conn., in front of a state superior courthouse after several victims were shot multiple times on Jan. 27, 2020. (Image via screengrab from WTNH-TV.)
Evidence flags were positioned on Golden Hill Street in Bridgeport, Conn., in front of a state superior courthouse after several victims were shot multiple times on Jan. 27, 2020. (Image via screengrab from WTNH-TV.)
Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Jury still deliberating verdict as judge considers mistrial over drone video
Jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial were to deliberate for a third day while the judge considers a request from the defense for a mistrial. Your browser does not support this video A key piece of evidence in the prosecution's case — a drone video that shows Rittenhouse fatally shooting the first man he fired at on the night of Aug. 25, 2020 — was called into question Wednesday when Rittenhouse's defense lawyers said they received a lower quality version of the clip.
An admitted Connecticut gang member pleaded guilty Friday to playing a role in a shooting outside the front steps of a state courthouse. Federal prosecutors say Laheem “Heemie” Jones, 27, of Bridgeport admitted to racketeering and attempted murder in connection with a series of shootings, including one that happened in Jan. 2000 in front of Bridgeport Superior Court on Golden Hill Street.
Facebook posts in Arbery trial reflect online neighbor fear
BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Months before Ahmaud Arbery was killed, shooter Travis McMichael wrote a simple, chilling response to a Facebook post about a suspected car burglary in his Georgia neighborhood: “Arm up.” The item he commented on was sandwiched between chats about lost dogs and water service interruption, like in many online communities in the U.S. based around physical neighborhoods. But in the year before Arbery's death, the posts in theThe item he commented on was sandwiched between chats about lost dogs and water service interruption, like in many online communities in the U.S. based around physical neighborhoods.
Jones pleaded guilty after one day of jury selection in what was expected to be a criminal trial connected to the courthouse shooting and the other incidents, prosecutors said. He “is the last of eight defendants charged in this conspiracy to plead guilty,” they noted.
Another of the defendants, Destine Calderon, 26, pleaded guilty in early October, Law&Crime previously reported.
Nearly two dozen rounds were fired into a vehicle outside the courthouse; several of the people who were fired upon fled into the guarded judicial building for help.
© Provided by Law & Crime A car positioned in front of a state superior courthouse on Golden Hill Street in Bridgeport, Conn., was shot multiple times on Jan. 27, 2020. (Image via screengrab from WTNH-TV.)
A car positioned in front of a state superior courthouse on Golden Hill Street in Bridgeport, Conn., was shot multiple times on Jan. 27, 2020. (Image via screengrab from WTNH-TV.)
Rittenhouse lawyers' trial playbook: Don't 'crusade,' defend
Soon after a Wisconsin jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges against him, defense attorney Mark Richards took a swipe at his predecessors, telling reporters that their tactics — leaning into Rittenhouse's portrayal as a rallying point for the right to carry weapons and defend oneself — were not his. “I was hired by the two first lawyers. I’m not going to use their names,” Richards said Friday. “They wanted to use Kyle for a cause and something that I think was inappropriate — and I don’t represent causes. I represent clients.
Prosecutors recalled the chaotic events while announcing Jones’ plea. Bridgeport Police rushed to the scene after a Shot Spotter activation detected gunfire near the courthouse. A federal court document obtained by Law&Crime detailed what happened next:
On January 27, 2020, at approximately 12:10 p.m., video footage, obtained from inside and outside the state courthouse, shows Jaheim Warren and Trevon Wright, both East End gang members, exit the courthouse and walk to a waiting black 2000 Chevrolet Impala, which was being driven by Khalil Heard with Jaffar Ali in the front passenger seat.
Just as Warren and Wright entered the vehicle, the video captures a gray Subaru Forester pulling up to the victims’ car, facing in the opposite direction. Surveillance video shows flashes from multiple firearms being fired from inside the Subaru. Khalil Heard sustained gunshot wounds to his back, shoulder and wrist; Jaffar Ali was grazed in the head and shot in the left thumb; and Jaheim Warren was grazed in the ribs. All three of these victims managed to make their way into the courthouse where they were attended to by judicial marshals until the arrival of EMTs and Bridgeport police officers.
EXPLAINER: What instructions did jury get in Arbery death?
ATLANTA (AP) — Before jurors in the trial of the three men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery retired to the jury room to begin their deliberations, the judge read them specific instructions on the law that's applicable to this case. The jury instructions, also called the jury charge, were carefully put together with input from the lawyers for the defense and prosecution, each side trying to make sure instructions on the parts of the law that support its case were included. The disproportionately white jury began deliberating Tuesday after hearing 10 days of testimony.
Trevon Wright, who was shot in the side of his chest, fell to the ground outside of the Impala and was unable to move, as he was (and remains) paralyzed from the gun shots he suffered. The vehicle in which the victims had been sitting sustained approximately 23 entry bullet holes in the driver’s side and windshield area. Eighteen spent shell casings from two separate firearms (a 9-millimeter and .40 caliber firearm) were located at the crime scene.
The court document continued to describe the immediate rescue attempts mounted by nearby Connecticut judicial marshals — the law enforcement officers tasked with guarding courthouses in the Nutmeg State:
Judicial Marshal Loral Quinones was staffing the front door to the courthouse, screening visitors through a metal detector when she saw the shooting take place. Despite the fact that she was unarmed, she ran to the doors to pull the four to five frozen onlookers who were outside to safety inside the courthouse. Khalil Heard ran from the Impala and stumbled into the courthouse, gravely wounded, and Quinones is expected to testify that Heard said that he could not breathe. Judicial Marshal Joshua DeLeon, who had prior medical training, saw blood oozing from Heard’s chest and rushed to his side, using a rubber glove to plug the hole in Heard’s chest to prevent a collapsed lung. As he did so, he is expected to testify that he heard Heard say, “let me call my sister, I am going to die.”
Ahmaud Arbery's Black neighbors and supporters react to the verdict
the anxious throng
Meanwhile, Warren lay paralyzed next to the Impala when unarmed Judicial Marshal Adrianna Velez spotted him and ran to his aid; Judicial Marshal Kimberly Miller also approached Wright and rendered aid to him. Judicial Marshal Velez is expected to testify that Wright told her that it “feels like I’m going to die,” and “call my Mom and tell her I love her.” Judicial Marshal Miller is expected to testify that in addition to Wright asking Marshals to call his mother, he also asked her to hold his hand “before something else happens to me.”
After the harrowing incident at the courthouse, “Jones and others attempted to destroy a vehicle used during the shooting by setting i[t] on fire in Naugatuck after the shooting,” federal prosecutors wrote in a press release that announced the guilty plea. “Jones also appears in YouTube videos and in social media posts, where firearms are present, promoting [a] gang.”
Laheem “Hemme” Jones appears in a mugshot.
“According to court documents and statements made in court, the FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service and Bridgeport Police have been investigating multiple Bridgeport-based gangs whose members are involved in narcotics trafficking, murder and other acts of violence,” the U.S. Department of Justice continued. “Jones has been a member of the “Greene Homes Boyz” (“GHB/Hotz”), a gang based in the Charles F. Greene Homes Housing Complex in Bridgeport’s North End, whose members and associates distributed heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana and Percocet pills; committed numerous acts of violence against rival gang members and other individuals[;] and celebrated their criminal conduct on social media websites such as Facebook and YouTube.”
Who's a hero? Some states, cities still debating hazard pay
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — When the U.S. government allowed so-called hero pay for frontline workers as a possible use of pandemic relief money, it suggested occupations that could be eligible from farm workers and childcare staff to janitors and truck drivers. State and local governments have struggled to determine who among the many workers who braved the raging coronavirus pandemic before vaccines became available should qualify: Only government workers, or private employees, too? Should it go to a small pool of essential workers like nurses or be spread around to others, including grocery store workers? “It’s a bad position for us to be in because you have your local
“GHB/Hotz members and associates also committed acts of intimidation and made threats to deter potential witnesses to their crimes and to protect gang members and associates from detection and prosecution by law enforcement authorities,” federal authorities wrote. “In pleading guilty, Jones admitted that he was engaged in gang-related drug trafficking, and that he and others attempted to kill members and associates of the East End gang in a brazen afternoon shooting in front of a Bridgeport courthouse on January 27, 2020.”
The front steps of the Connecticut Superior Court in Bridgeport appear in a file Law&Crime file photo. (Image via Aaron Keller/Law&Crime.)
Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23, 2022. Jones faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. He’s been incarcerated since Aug. 6, 2020, prosecutors said.
The original indictment and selected portions of the federal court file are below:
The post Heroism of Guards Detailed in Documents as Final Defendant Pleads Guilty to Shooting Outside Connecticut Courthouse first appeared on Law & Crime.
Prosecutors to begin case against Jussie Smollett in Chicago .
CHICAGO (AP) — Testimony is set to begin Tuesday in the trial of ex-“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who prosecutors say staged a homophobic and racist attack in Chicago but whose defense attorney says is “a real victim” of a “real crime.” Special prosecutor Dan Webb told jurors during opening statements late Monday that Smollett recruited two brothers — who worked with him on the TV show — to help him carry out a fake attack in January 2019 because he believed the television studio didn’t take hate mail he had received seriously.