Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Obama sign defacers rumble for Romney in Lubbock

That cell phone? Purloined torpedo/rocket NaziTech

Stolen secret patented by a movie starlet...

Romney busted in Ohio over Jeep lie in TV spot...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

High early voter turnout to determine 2012 election

Click image for larger view
Princeton, NJ – Roughly a third of voters will cast their ballots early in the general election of 2012, according to a Gallup Poll.

Some 15 percent have already voted early, mostly in the western states where voting laws favor early balloting. About 55 percent plan to vote early in western states, 23 percent in the midwest, 40 percent in the south, and only 9 percent in the east.

Voting laws in the eastern seaboard states discourage early voting.

This coupled with the disastrous effects of a perfect storm of the century will keep voting turnout low in the most populous areas of the U.S.
Click image for a larger view

Monday, October 29, 2012

'Sack chasers' and the all-night jick house blues


This is my house, and I'm making some changes in my life. If you don't like who's here, you can leave now.” - A hand-printed note on the door of Carrie D. Woodlock's house 

Waco – After an assailant “Glocked” her husband Kenny in 2004, her life started downhill, according to Carrie D. Woodlock.

That was the turning point.

“Babies, infants, sometimes have a condition called 'failure to thrive,'” she says. “That's what it was like with me after they killed Kenny.”

She was an LVN who dispensed medications – antibiotics, narcotics – to elderly and convalescent patients at a local nursing home on a 120-bed intensive care ward. He was a non-stop drinker, an alcoholic, she says.

“Kenny never had anything to do with drugs. He stayed drunk most of the time.” Nevertheless, a Waco homicide detective named Woodruff insisted his death by a gunshot to the head - an open case in which no murderer has ever been brought to justice - was drug-related.

“It wasn't about drugs. I know it wasn't.” He left a bar with four other people after a woman objected to the fact that he would not stop talking about herself, his wife, Carrie, she says she has learned.

Authorities later found his lifeless body dumped on the side of a street. Then what was all that about? When asked, she said, “He was hitting me. AB is real concerned about what they look like.” AB, she says, means Aryan Brotherhood, a tight-knit prison gang of heavily tattooed men allied against the hostilities of African-American and Hispanic prisoners that controls many rackets both inside penal institutions and on the streets of American cities.

Their mottos include, “blood in, blood out,” such sentiments as “bros before ho's,” and the very real fact that a commitment to their ranks is for life. The only way out is feet first. Kenny Wagner, her husband, “wanted out,” she recalls.

Then she names four people by their first names – one of them a female – who according to her sources escorted the doomed man to a vehicle outside a Waco bar. She names the trigger man.

Then she laughs. Her reactions are often startling.

“For a long time, I planned to Glock him back,” she says. She mimics the bang bang, you're dead motion kids make when they play cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers. This is not something she doesn't talk about very often.

A young man who goes by the street name “Buddha,” a Navy veteran who readily admits he lives at the Veterans Administration Medical Center on New Road in a ward devoted to a “lifestyle enhancement program,” has entered into the discussion and talks with her about the man she named as the trigger man in that long-ago gang land killing. He reports to her what certain people have said about what happened on the day her husband lost his life to a hit man's bullet.

He is a very large man with a ready smile and what is reportedly an extremely high IQ, according to people on the streets. She explains that he often sits up with her in the long nights when visitors come and go from her door at all hours. She interrupts their discussion long enough to explain that local police officials do not believe her. Of the four people she named, “They all saw something different.”

Her insistence that the police and district attorney file murder charges against these people, she repeats in a stolid tone, is the main impetus for her continuing legal battles with The People of the State of Texas.

Does the use of drugs complicate matters? She shrugs, says she's been clean and sober for months. She asks Buddha to go to a nearby Dollar General Store, that he wait outside during the interview. He is what Carrie calls a “sack chaser,” a marginalized hanger-on in the world of methamphetamine marketing to addicts who crave another bump, and another, and another. And another. And so forth. 

“Normally, I like to win,” she says. Her ability to control the actions of people who come and go in her world is the stuff of legend among her peers. The woman is said to have no aspect of the crawfish in her nature. Her pet is a pit bull terrier puppy.

Carrie is a disabled veteran of the drug wars. She explains it this way. The onset of her principle diseases, paranoid schizophrenia and major depressive disorder, came in adolescence, when she was 13.

“It's a disability,” she says. “It would probably be easier to walk around with one arm.” She lives on a disability pension granted her by the Social Security Administration, and has been in legal trouble on and off since being accused of tampering with government documents in 2003 in her handling of medications on the job.

On the day of our interview, she says she is confined to the small frame house she rents in a west Waco neighborhood due to the electronic monitor attached to her leg by an ankle bracelet. It's part of the terms and conditions of a probated sentence, an agreement that was violated by certain indiscretions on her part.In the days following the tragic February 16, 2012, deaths of Ashley Dawn Rogers and two of her children in a mobile home fire located at 6312 N. 19th Street in Bosqueville, her former problem with another adherent to Aryan Brotherhood philosophies and loyalties began anew.(please click here for an earlier report)

Delvin Maddison, a first lover she knows from her days in high school at La Vega, spent the previous night and most of the following day with her at an apartment she shared with a security guard on Sanger Avenue – The Sandstone.

They go way back. “He took my virginity; I took his virginity,” she says in matter-of-fact tones.

Carrie D. Woodlock recalls that Delvin Maddison spent the night with her at the Sanger Avenue apartment, selling crystal, jick, bumps, half grams, whatever you want to call it. A heavily tattooed man who speaks in the ghetto patois affected by some gang members, Carrie says he is not really a very influential member of the subculture to which he claims allegiance.

“Delvin is a fake,” she says, dead pan, flat-footed, and with forthright insistence. “He's fake AB and AC,” she adds. AC stands for Aryan Circle, a similar organization. “Delvin is a sack chaser.” After a night of selling drugs to people who came to the door, she alleges, drugs that were “fronted” to him by a supplier expecting repayment, Delvin bought her presents and items she needed from the grocery store.

He insisted he would have a mechanic fix her car, which wasn't running because of a transmission problem. He left the apartment at about 3:30 p.m. Hours later, at about 8 p.m., he returned with a man she knows only as John. They left to obtain a trailer upon which to transport the car to a garage. The trailer and the auto repair efforts never materialized, she remembers.

“John wasn't really a mechanic." He was a sack chaser, too.

She had spent a hectic evening during the ensuing time, trying to persuade an area bank she uses for an automatic deposit point for her government pension checks to allow another person to make an on-line transfer to her account. Clerks at the bank's debit card service could not authorize the transaction due to procedural rules. She spent when she recalls as 181 minutes arguing with various bank officials on her cell phone. Of that, she is entirely sure. She paid the bill, which put her monthly fee sky high at nearly $200.

She had arrived at an arrangement by which she would visit an area Kinko's store, make certain electronic adjustments, and enable the banking transaction to proceed. “I was just walking out the door,” she remembers. Delvin and John wanted to her stay.

“John wanted to wash his hands. They were entirely black.” She raised hell; they insisted she wait. She remembers well. John quickly washed the black substance off his hands with dishwashing soap, she recalls. It wasn't grease or oily grime. “It came off real easy.” Delvin's hands were clean. She shrugs. “He must have been wearing gloves.”

It was the last time she saw her friend Delvin until he showed up in the days following the deadly fire, a blaze so hot it had fully engulfed the trailer house within minutes of its being reported to the Waco Fire Department. He had a problem with the “Sergeant,” she recalls. The Sergeant? Police sergeant? “No, just someone they call the 'Sergeant'...” - a sergeant of the AB.

“You see, AB is real concerned about the way they look when it comes to women – and kids...Delvin put him on the speaker phone.” The sergeant told her that Delvin is a “person of interest” in the deaths of Ashley Dawn Rogers and her two children. Delvin wanted her to furnish him with an alibi as to his whereabouts at the time of the fire that claimed their lives. A neighbor youth rescued a third child from the blaze, a little boy of 3. “Delvin was gone at the time of the fire.”

She explained she couldn't do it. Her phone call to the bank, all three hours of it, are the subject of audio recordings made by officials of the banking service. “I don't have fear. Fear is a lack of faith,” she insists. “Delvin is the one.”

She explains that Delvin wishes her to change her story. “He's trying to portray me as crazy, dope smoking. Yes, I'm crazy.”

There are other unexplained killings awaiting a full accounting, according to retired Texas Ranger Matt Cawthon, a sidekick of McLennan County Sheriff's candidate Parnell McNamara.

He is presently employed by Texas Department of Corrections, seconded to the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Warrant Task Force.

A man named O'Brien - people called him O.B. - a tattooed member of Aryan Circle, he recalls, disappeared a number of years ago. “We've never found his body.”

Parnell McNamara, a retired former Marshal-in-Charge of the Western U.S. District Court at Waco, and Ranger Cawthon advocate a drug task force which would be active in clearing crimes related to narcotics dealing and use. They also plan to institute a task force of both active and retired homicide investigators bent on clearing more than 50 unsolved killings still considered open cases.

It's scary. “Yes, it is,” says Ranger Cawthon.
Carrie D. Woodlock
(click here for the minority report)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Parnell's posse cooks dawgs at early voting station

Parnell's posse at early voting station, Bosque Blvd. at Cobbs 

Gen. Colin Powell endorses Obama, blames Congress

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Capital murder jury spectators at legal tournament

Lead prosecutor Michael Jarrett and veteran defense counsel Russ Hunt, Sr.
Lawyer fights for client's life


"These death sentences are cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual...” Mr. Justice Potter Stewart, U.S. Supreme Court




Waco – A very special audience of 6 men and 7 women are witnessing an exclusive tournament of legal jousting in a local district courtroom.
Though executions of convicted capital murderers have become routine in Texas, ordinary items in the routine of unremarkable news days, this is the first time in 8 years a McLennan County jury has heard a capital murder case.
The key elements of conservative legal thinking on the death penalty are on full display for the 12 jurors and one alternate at the capital murder trial of one of four accused gangster gunmen who allegedly shot down two rivals in a surprise attack to avenge the shooting death of an associate nearly one year earlier.
The opposing counsel carry out their strategy with similar methods of surprise.
For instance, prosecutors suddenly and unexpectedly rested their case early in the day Friday.
The trial will resume Tuesday after 19th Criminal District Court Judge Ralph T. Strother, who said he was just as surprised as the defense team, gave the attorneys some time to prepare their case.
Walter Reaves, co-counsel for the defense, said the move was totally unexpected and caught the defense team of three seasoned attorneys completely by surprise. Mr. Reaves is involved in other cases with the Innocence Project run by New York attorney Barry Scheck, which often clears men falsely accused and convicted of crimes they did not actually commit, by using DNA analysis.
Lead defense attorney Russ Hunt, Sr., is a member of the State Bar College of defense counselors who promulgate the continuing education program for lawyers who defend criminal defendants.
Prosecutors led by Michael Jarrett, delivered a classic right jab, left cross and right uppercut combination when they presented the testimony of a woman who claims to have seen one of the murder weapons – an assault rifle – and a fearful young man who said he heard the defendant, Ricky Cummings, say he was about to shoot someone.
A retired Dallas police detective who is now a custodian of telephone records presented evidence of cell phone calls and text messages sent and received at the time of the March 28, 2011, shooting ambush that left two men dead and two others severely wounded at Lakeside Villas apartments in east Waco.
Yet another witness testified earlier that an uncle of the accused gunman threatened her, an offense for which the man is languishing in the McLennan County Jail. The following morning, she found her tires slashed when she made ready to come to the courthouse and give her testimony.
Tensions are running high between two extended families of African-Americans who are forced to sit on opposite sides of the courtroom, prohibited from carrying cell phones for fear they might take pictures of jurors in an effort to intimidate them, and constantly surveilled for signs of impending hostility.
In the midst of all this drama, the rival prosecution and defense teams are engaged in the sweet science of the joust, the boxing ring and the debate, that of keeping the opponent off balance and moving in reaction to an aggressive game of proactive attack and thrust, parry and blockade.
At the heart of the matter, a peculiarly Texan conservative philosophy that swift and sure retribution is the single greatest deterrent to vicious and violent behavior that leads to the murder of public officials, children, more than one person at a time, or committed for profit, with premeditation, or in retaliation.
The Texas track record speaks for itself. Since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a reinstatement of the death penalty as other than cruel and unusual punishment in 1976 when it handed down Gregg v. Georgia, Texas has executed by lethal injection more than 480 convicted murderers, while the much more populous state of California has carried out the death penalty only 13 times.
Many legal scholars point out that not only is the entire top tier of Texas appeals courts decidedly Republican and politically conservative, but the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which sits at New Orleans, is much more Republican and conservative than that of the 9th Circuit at San Francisco. Republicans have occupied the Governor's office since the year 2000, when President George W. Bush unseated liberal Democrat Ann Richards in a landslide victory before going on to the White House.
Nearly the entire first day of evidence and testimony presented on Monday, October 22, concerned another crime, the shooting death of Emuel Lee Bowers, III, which occurred in April of 2010.
Prosecutors sought to get into the record evidence that the motive for the offense for which the first of the four defendants is facing the death penalty was retaliation for the earlier killing of another victim.
The defense team did not protest as to its relevance. Seasoned defense lawyers in close observation of the trial were of the united opinion that Mr. Hunt chooses not to cloud the issues or confuse the jurors with ill feelings over constant objections, preferring to remain calm and sanguine in the best interest of his client, whose life depends on a single impression yet to be created in the minds of the jury.
The question at hand, should they find “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Ricky Cummings caused the death of two human beings, is if he would present “a continuing threat to society” if he is allowed to live the remainder of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole.
Society, each juror was assured during the jury selection phase of the trial, includes corrections officials, civilian staff members, and other inmates of the Texas Department of Corrections Institutional Division.
To comply with the Supreme Court decision, Texas juries who recommend the death penalty are required to answer two questions in the jury charge prepared for the punishment phase of capital cases in exactly this way, and no other.
According to an on-line discussion of the matter: The first question is whether there exists a probability the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a "continuing threat to society". "Society" in this instance includes both inside and outside of prison; thus, a defendant who would constitute a threat to people inside of prison, such as correctional officers or other inmates, is eligible for the death penalty.

The second question is whether, taking into consideration the circumstances of the offense, the defendant's character and background, and the personal moral culpability of the defendant, there exists sufficient mitigating circumstances to warrant a sentence of life imprisonment rather than a death sentence.

If the person was convicted as a party, the third question asked is whether the defendant actually caused the death of the deceased, or did not actually cause the death of the deceased but intended to kill the deceased, or "anticipated" that a human life would be taken.

In order for a death sentence to be imposed, the jury must answer the first question 'Yes' and the second question 'No' (and, if convicted as a party, the third question 'Yes'). Otherwise the sentence is life in prison.

Russ Hunt laid back and waited to make his move until prosecutors elicited testimony from the first eye witness to testify that she saw the defendant at the scene of the murders, gun in hand, struggling to clear a jammed spent cartridge casing from its firing chamber as he confronted her face to face in pursuit of two wounded men who had fled into her apartment, bleeding.


Mr. Hunt began his cross examination of Nickoll Henry, who suffered a grazing bullet wound to her leg when a round from a high-powered assault weapon penetrated the brick wall of her apartment where she lay dozing on a couch, by quizzing her about her record of past convictions for theft by credit card and aggravated assault.


She is court-ordered to psychiatric treatment for paranoid schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder, as are her children. She neglected to testify as to her treatment for borderline personality disorder, he pointed out.


At that point, Mr. Jarrett, who was lead prosecutor at Dallas County and at ultra-conservative Williamson County, bounced out of his chair as if it had become red hot. He objected that the testimony was irrelevant and prohibited by the Texas Rules of Criminal Evidence.


After two brief hearings out of the presence of the jury, Judge Strother allowed the testimony into the record exclusive of the facts of Ms. Henry's mental diseases and the exact nature of the revocation of her probation status on suspended sentences for theft and assault.


Once testimony resumed, Mr. Jarrett asked on redirect, “Ms. Henry, how long have you been treated for blindness?”


Exasperated, she thought hard for a moment, then said she is not under treatment for blindness, that's she's never been blind, to the uproarious laughter of the gallery.


Even the judge smiled.


The only persons present in the courtroom who did not break a smile were jurors. They sat stone-faced, taking it all into consideration, knowing the task before them won't be made any easier by their laughter.


One would have been hard-pressed to even glance at the visage of Ricky Cummings, a man fighting to get a chance to live out the rest of his life behind bars.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Texas AG Greg Abbott to UN: 'Come and take it'


The United Nations affiliate OSCE has targeted Texas as one of the states most likely to impose voter restrictions on minority races.


Granted observer status in 1993, the “Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe” declared its objectives in this way.

After 11 September 2001, co-operation has been further enhanced to include active OSCE support for the work of the United Nations and its specialized bodies in the global efforts against terrorism. The shared UN-OSCE agenda includes:
Ratification and implementation of the 12 Universal Anti-terrorism Instruments and other initiatives to combat terrorism 
Conflict settlement and peace-building 
Early warning and conflict prevention 
Small arms and light weapons 
Border management 
Environmental and economic aspects of security 
Anti-trafficking 
Democratization and human rights 
Freedom of the media

What in the world does all that mean? Who in the world knows, exactly? Besides, Texas is a sovereign state of the United States of America, not the United Nations. No one in Austin invited these folks over here to check us out on such short notice.


Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has thrown down the gauntlet, drawn the line in the sand.

He told the international outfit that if their observers come within 100 feet of a Texas polling place, they can expect to be booked into the local casa de calaboose for an opportunity to sing for their supper in a concert appearance - in court.

Any opinions of the observers, he added, are “legally irrelevant” to the voting laws of the State of Texas.

According to the on-line publication TPM Muckraker, the internationalist's response was not long in coming.

The letter provoked a swift response on Wednesday from Janez Lenarcic, the head of the international group’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, who wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing his concern that the threat of prosecution was contrary to the U.S.’s obligations as an OSCE participant.(click highlighted areas for a peek at the letters)

“The threat of criminal sanctions against OSCE/ODIHR observers is unacceptable,” Lenarcic said in a news release about the letter. “The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”

Unacceptable?

Compared to what?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gangland shootings a cowardly shot in the back


Waco – The fusillade that penetrated the walls of an east Waco apartment, grazed a woman's leg and traumatized two small children for life was actually a cowardly attack on four men who were hemmed in, sitting in a car, shot like fish in a barrel.

The two men who were killed were shot in the back, according to the testimony of a forensic pathologist from the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science.

When death found Tyus Sneed, the bullets ripped into the tissue of his back and shoulder and exited the right side of his neck, severing the aorta.

According to Dr. Jill Urban, the longest a person with such a wound could have lived would have been less than a minute.

Though she could not offer any conclusion as to which wound came first, the most horrible to behold was the left to right shot that shattered his upper jaw, ripping into his lips and leaving his mouth a bloody mass of destroyed teeth that looked as though they were piano keys ripped from the instrument and shoved over an octave or two.

Color pictures of his ruined body showed to jurors and his family on an overhead projector depicted Mr. Sneed reclining on the autopsy table, his mouth shot away, hands bagged awaiting testing for gunshot residue to determine if he happened to return the withering fire that cut him down, and a blank stare on his bewildered face.

In all, he suffered 8 bullet wounds, as did his companion in the death seat, Keenan Huber.

Both men were spun from left to right in a spiraling pattern that followed the path of the bullets, as the shooters hosed them down from the left rear quarter panel of the car after the initial frontal attack.

Mr. Huber also suffered a through and through wound that entered the top right side of his back and exited the base of his throat. Another bullet pierced the right side of the upper back and plowed through the lung. Yet another severed his aorta and destroyed his left lung.

Because the bullets are spinning when they rip into human flesh, the doctor explained, they cause huge, ugly mushrooming exit wounds that may vary far and wide from what would be a linear path through the body. A small and surgical looking round hole a bullet made on the inside of a bicep has shattered the humerus bone of the upper arm, leaving a fluted and pulpy pyramid of ruined flesh in the middle of a well-developed young man's arm.

As he fell, Mr. Huber appears to have thrown his left hand up to cover his face and two bullets ripped into it, one making a hole through and through, the other neatly clipping off the index fingertip.

Toxic screening of body fluids revealed only the active ingredient THC and broken down chemicals from marijuana. Neither man had been drinking alcohol or using other drugs, according to test results.

Point in the circle - Saints John the Baptist and Evangelist
Long dowels looking like bizarre spears or arrows made mannequins look like some kind of bizarre porcupines seated on top of the prosecution counsel table so jurors could see the devastating effects of the merciless firing squad.


Any person not a representative of the news media who is caught with a cell phone on the third floor of the courthouse will be ejected from the building and their phone confiscated, the judge said.

Presentation of evidence and testimony will resume again on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.
This man often prays at public places in Waco. He prayed in this location yesterday as prosecutors presented evidence of the wounds that led to the deaths in People of the State of Texas v. Ricky Cummings

Behold: The Moon of the Hunter waxes upon arrival

THE MONTH WHEN THE GRASS DIES
Snapped outside the McLennan County Courthouse by The Legendary
(click here for a good time!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Woman grazed by stray bullet confronted gunman



Her credibility attacked by veteran lawyer

Waco – As Nickoll Henry struggled to slam the door of Apartment 81 at the Lakeside Villas Apartments, the accused gunman on trial for his life fought to clear a jammed gun.

“His eyes bugged, mine bugged, and I slammed the door,” she testified before a jury in the capital murder trial of Ricky Cummings. If convicted, Mr. Cummings will face either death by lethal injection or life in the penitentiary without the possibility of parole.

The mother of two prevailed, closing and locking her door before he could fire again.

“I thought he was going to come in and kill me and my kids,” she told lead prosecutor Michael Jarrett.


That's when two wounded men who had been shot while sitting smoking marijuana in a car outside ran bleeding through her door to hide in her bathroom.

The door had bounced back open, and as she moved to close and lock it, she came face to face with Ricky Cummings as he struggled to chamber a round in the .40 caliber Ruger semiautomatic handgun.

Asked to hold the end of a tape measure to show how far apart they were, veteran defense attorney Russ Hunt, Sr., backed up until she estimated he was at the same length that separated she and Mr. Cummings at about 11:20 p.m. on the night of March 28, 2011.

“Let the record show I am standing 10 feet from the witness,” said Mr. Hunt.

A legal brouhaha erupted when Mr. Hunt continued his cross examination of Ms. Henry

“Isn't it true that you've told people it wasn't Ricky, that it was his brother Tyreece?” he asked. She denied that.

Then Mr. Hunt turned to Ms. Henry's mental difficulties and her criminal history. She testified that she and her two children suffer from post traumatic stress disorder following the attack, but her troubles are deeper than that.
She is court-ordered to treatment at Mental Health Mental Retardation for PTSD, paranoid schizophrenia, and psychotic personality disorder, according to records.

“Did you leave out borderline personality disorder?” Mr. Hunt asked.

As he questioned her about hearing voices and seeing things, the prosecutor, Michael Jarrett leapt to his feet, objecting to the line of questioning as irrelevant.

He told Judge Ralph Strother that as a member of the College of Defense Counselors of the State Bar, if he had wanted to enter such a controversial area of examination, “he should have requested a hearing outside the presence of the jury.”

“This is outside the scope of admissible evidence,” he argued, citing Rule 609 of the Rules of Criminal Evidence.

In a series of two late afternoon hearings outside the presence of the jurors, she testified that she got in trouble in the mid-90's for stealing a credit card and using it without permission, then complicated her situation with a charge of aggravated assault.

In a series of violations involving one offense for using marijuana and two for using both marijuana and cocaine, she said, her probation was revoked.

The arrangement was made as a result of a plea bargain in which she received a misdemeanor conviction instead of a felony in return for her plea of guilty.

Judge Strother brought the jury back, ruling that the “the prejudicial effect outweighs the probative value,” and ordering the counselor to exclude the testimony about the nature of the probation violation.

Said Mr. Jarrett, “Every time the Court has given them an inch, they tried to take five feet.” The judge cited a number of previous appeals holding the inadmissibility of such testimony.

When the jurors were brought back for the second time, he limited his inquiry to the probation violation, but not its circumstances.

“I knew it was a hole in the living room wall,” Ms. Henry said. She said her offense and the violation of her probation occurred three weeks after the day after the shooting, when she found three spent rounds in her doorway, a 7.62 x 39mm round, a .40 caliber, and a 9 mm, as well as a live 9 mm round.

The next morning, she said, she moved out.

In earlier testimony, a crime scene technician told jurors how 19 dowel pins inserted into the body of the Mercury Marquis in which the two victims died, and two others were maimed by pistol and rifle fire showed through and through damage.

A spent 7.62 or .308 caliber cartridge from an assault rifle found in the car's interior bore mute testimony to the pattern of the attack.

The pattern of bullets indicated that the attackers sprayed the car with fire from the left front, then, when the rear window was shattered and gone, turned and walked back, targeting Keenan Huber with two shots to his upper torso and one to his upper neck for a coup de grace. AK-47 clone assault rifles that use the Russian-produced "Toomla" brand ammunition eject spent cartridge cases to the right and in a slightly forward arc.

Prosecutors believe the motive for the attack involved Mr. Huber's possible involvement with the shooting death of Emuel Bowers, III, nearly a year previously in April of 2010.

A young woman who requested her name not be used by media testified how she saw three men, one dressed in a red top, another in black, and a third in a white hoodie or t-shirt run past her grandmother's door on Spring Street, then turned into a breezeway that leads to where the shooting took place.

“As soon as I turned the lock in the door, I heard the shots,” she said.  

Gangs of Waco play time-honored game of 'Ringolevio'

It's a game. A game played on the streets of New York, for as long as anyone can remember. It's called Ringolevio, and the rules are simple. There are two sides, each with the same number of players. There are no time limits, no intermissions, no substitutes and no weapons allowed. There are two jails. There is one objective. Each side tries to capture and jail all the members of the other side, while maintaining the freedom of its own teammates. When everyone on one side is captured, the other team wins. - “Ringolevio: A life played for keeps,” Emmett Grogan, New York Review of Books Classics, New York, 2008.
Emmett Grogan, Merry Prankster, co-founder of The Diggers

Six Shooter Junction -Though it's not played in exactly the way it was played in the medieval port cities of Genoa and Naples, Palermo and Venice, this elaborate game of hide and go seek is deadly serious and very, very expensive.

In fact, large corporations bet large sums on its outcome, as did the middles ages combinations of merchants and shipping executives, importers and landlords, and the post-war gangsters and gamblers of New York's Cosa Nostra families, who staged enormous latter-day tournaments between the street gangs of post-war New York in the fifties and sixties.

Their motive: gambling. Everybody wanted a piece of the action to see which side would lose all its players to the others' jail first.

In the very real life of 21st century America, the gamble is the same, but it's played out on the streets, its results written in blood, a deadly game gone wrong in a world spinning madly out of control.

The bet: Will the accused show up for trial, arraignment, any other form of court appearance, or will the surety bonding company stand to lose a sizable amount of funds placed on the off chance that the accused does, in fact, take it on the lam?

Once bonded, the body of the defendant actually becomes the chattel property of the bonding agency, or “bondsman.” His bail agents – a polite term for bounty hunter - need no other writ to pursue and place him in custody, other than the court documents that show the origin of his freedom. They literally own his body. They are legally authorized to use deadly force to reclaim its possession, if need be.

To the professional criminal, it's a cost of doing business. To society, it's a cost of the quality of life.

The rules, of course, are quite different than those used in Mr. Grogan's accounts of the huge Ringolevio games played in his youth on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan.
In today's mean streets, the players definitely carry – and use – weapons. Shotguns. Pistols. Assault rifles powerful enough to penetrate brick walls.

The business: Drugs.

It's nationwide and all over the map. And it's here to stay, in big cities, small towns, metropolitan areas and rural backwoods counties alike.

Fifty cents worth of nothing with a mark-up of thousands of percentage points, the profits measured in terms of gain and loss in human souls, blood, misery, as measured against the fabulous wealth obtained by only the few – some shrewd, others outrightly luck, and still others vicious and mean enough to kill at will, in the blink of an eye, the flash of a hand sign, the turn of a phrase.

A recent survey of the bonding agencies active in McLennan County reveals that 20 firms – 12 of them sole proprietorships – compete for the ten percent fees collected on bonds set by area judges of about $35,000,000, according to figures on file for fiscal year 2011-2012.

That adds up to $3.5 million in bond fees for the players if you figure a 10 percent fee on each transaction.

The only rules governing the finances of the business are that sole proprietorships must place a minimum $50,000 cash bond backed either by certificates of deposit or real property deeds.

Should these operators' surety reserves fall below the minimum required to bond an accused offender out of custody, they are required to hustle to a bank and arrange to replenish their supply of cash guarantee, according to County Treasurer Bill Helton.

Chartered corporate insurance companies such as Allegheny Casualty Insurance or International Fidelity are considered good for the risk based on the corporate charters issued in the base states of operation.

The U.S. Constitutional guarantee of reasonable bail and the Texas Constitution and Code of Criminal Procedure both apply. Bond shall not be excessive to the point that is it used as a punishment against one who has been accused of a crime.

Put up the dough, and you can go, but there is a wrinkle in that scheme. Excessive jail overcrowding has been deemed a cruel and unusual form of punishment. County governments are often forced to find alternate means of clearing out their jails to avoid expensive sanctions imposed by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. This involves paying other counties or commercial enterprises large amounts of money to house, care for and feed prisoners from their jurisdictions.

The case of Steven Peace is one such case that falls within the well-known and worn-out dynamic.

A Grand Jury indicted Mr. Peace for the shooting death of Emuel Bowers, III in 2010. Prosecutors are seeking to prove that the murder of two young men and maiming of two others who sat in a car at Lakewood Villas Apartments in March of 2011 was carried out in retaliation for the Bowers killing, a brutal method of settling some unknown conflict over a business practice or arrangement involving drugs. Ricky Cummings, 23, is facing a jury in 19th Criminal District Court at present for those killings. He is the first of four defendants who will answer to the charge of capital murder in the case.

In a first ever case of a personal recognizance release of a McLennan County offender indicted for murder, local attorney Alan Bennett arranged the release of his client Steven Peace in December of 2011 on a writ of habeas corpus because prosecutors had failed to announce they were ready for trial within the 90 days allowed under criminal procedure rules. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered the case remanded to a McLennan County Criminal District Court for a bond reduction. The release was obtained by placing two $50,000 chattels against Mr. Peace's real property and the terms of his release house arrest under electronic monitoring by an ankle bracelet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

'Everyone had an opinion, basically...'

Witnesses recall horror of gun attack
Accused murderer Ricky Cummings
Waco – When Investigator Ken Reeves arrived at the scene of the double homicide that left two other men bleeding, badly wounded, he could see a big, 4-door sedan with its windows shot out, riddled with bullets.

A Family Violence specialist, he doubles as a hostage negotiator for the Waco Police Department, but in March of 2011, he was K-9 officer who happened to be on patrol very near the Lakewood Villas Apartments at 1100 N. 6th St. in east Waco.

Lead defense counsel Russ Hunt, Sr.
Two men seated in the back seat of the car were clearly dead, he testified at the capital murder trial of Ricky Cummings, a 23-year-old man who has been indicted along with 3 others for the attack that took place at the subsidized housing project.

It didn't take him long to find two other men wounded in the fusillade that had occurred only minutes previously.

He recalled that people in the doorway of Apartment 81 were “visibly upset about what was going on, and I could see a blood trail leading back up in there.”

Inside, he saw a 10-year-old girl lying unconscious on the floor, her mouth and throat choked with vomitous material she regurgitated when the high velocity rounds from a semi-automatic assault rifle penetrated the wall of the building, then plowed into the couch where she sat. “You could see the bullet hole in the wall...

“It scared her so badly she vomited,” he told the 7-woman, six-man jury of white, middle-aged citizens, 12 of whom will eventually decide if Mr. Cummings is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and then pass a sentence on him of either death by lethal injection, or life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.

“Her mouth was filled with it, and she aspirated some of it,” he said. He and others went right to work clearing the child's airways. Another person gave the girl mouth to mouth resuscitation to revive her while he continued to follow the blood trail to the bathroom of the apartment, where he found two men, one bleeding from a serious wound to his thigh, the other from a gunshot wound to his arm.

After he organized a clear path for the emergency medical technicians to load the wounded men, he went back to work outside establishing control of the crime scene, making sure the dozens of spent cartridges were left undisturbed, persuading a hysterical woman to back away from the body of one of the deceased victims in the car's back seat.

Quywandrell Franklin, 20, clung to the lifeless body of Tyrus Sneed, an ex-boyfriend who had just left her mother's apartment after walking her home from an impromptu date where they “smoked a black.”

A black is a cigar sold in convenience stores, so called for its brand name, Black & Mild. Asked by a defense attorney if it contains drugs – marijuana – she responded by saying, “You can buy it when you're 18.”

The courtroom erupted in laughter while the jurors sat with stoic expressions. Even the attorneys and the judge smiled.

The entire gallery is made up of friends and family of either the victims, or the accused, Mr. Cummings. The only other spectators are representatives of various local media outlets.

The courtroom is divided down the middle, the rows of church-like hardwood pews labeled “Family,” and a single row in the extreme rear labeled “Media.”

The arrangement rather resembles the seating at a funeral ceremony, with some stark differences between the culture of white and black people.

A grandmother of Keenan Huber, the other man who died in the attack, testified that her grandson was 15 years of age before she discovered he is kin to her family. Her son, she said, learned of his paternity at a late date. Keenan, who was known as “Locky” because of his extra curly hair, which he often wore in braids, became an adopted son when his mother gave up her parental rights.

Janice Mathews is proprietor of Dorsey-Keats Funeral Home, an east Waco establishment which operates a private cemetery for its clients.

A prosecutor showed her a photograph of her grandson made shortly before his demise. The background and his clothing are a deep shade of blood red. He is wearing a black baseball cap.

The same prosecutor furtively displayed “State's Exhibit 219,” and asked her if it, too, is a photo of her grandson.

“You don't have to look at it for long if you don't want to,” he said, shielding the sight of the photo from the vision of the jurors.

She glanced at it quickly, and said, “Yes. That's him.”

She recalled how, at the age of 20, he visited with her one day in the home where he still lived with she and her husband following his graduation from high school.
He said, “Grandma, when your number is up, you have to go...He wasn't afraid to die.”


Two van loads of men wearing red shirts emblazoned with sergeants' stripes, campaign ribbons, and winged insignia marked “Combat” arrived and “stayed way after dark,” she recalled. Each man wore a black golf cap.

A fifth defendant, Tyree Edwards Richards, 23, was released from indictment when defense attorneys convinced Judge Ralph T. Strother that telephone records proved he was not present at the time of the murder.

Young Ms. Franklin told lead prosecutor Michael Jarrett that since she has moved to Dallas, where she works in a fast food restaurant and is planning a college career, she feels much safer and more secure.

She recalled screaming “Ty!” when she heard the reports of the semi-automatic weapon fire that exploded outside her mother's apartment.

“I just fell to the ground and started screaming. I said, 'Mama, I got to go get him.'”

That's where Investigator Reeves found her when he arrived at the scene of the shooting, her arms wrapped around her ex-boyfriend, screaming and crying.

A veteran of many such shooting incidents at Lakeside Villas, a prosecutor asked the detective how large a crowd he discovered when he arrived.

He looked pensive, pondered for a long moment about it, then said in a judicious tone of voice, “It was a big crowd.”


“Everyone had an opinion, basically...”

Jurors, judge escorted to cars under armed guard

Judge Ralph T. Strother escorted to his vehicle 

Powder keg of anger awaits a spark in capital murder trial

Waco – Judge Ralph T. Strother had a hell of a hard-working Monday on the 19th District Criminal Court bench.

When it was over, a phalanx of armed guards walked him to his pickup - because they felt it was necessary.

Accused capital murderer Ricky Cummings
The McLennan County Courthouse bristled with officers bent on unprecedented security as rival crowds of relatives of an accused capital murderer confronted those of two victims cut down and killed in an ambuscade fired in March of 2011.

Numerous verbal altercations and smoldering near-riot conditions prevailed in the the third floor rotunda outside the courtroom during the morning session.

Surprisingly, prosecutors spent most of the first day of the capital murder trial of Ricky Cummings eliciting testimony about another killing that took place nearly a year earlier, in a completely different east Waco location.

News cameramen stand by, awaiting interesting footage
Though Mr. Cummings, who is 23, and three other young men are indicted for the murders of the two men in the parking lot at Lakewood Villas, 1100 N. 6th St., in March of 2011, it was the shooting death of Emil Bowers III on April 8, 2010, in an east Waco park many blocks distant that occupied the attention of witnesses throughout most of the day.

The motive for the killing of Tyrus Sneed, 17, and Keenan Hubert, 20, is thought to have been revenge for the shooting of Mr. Bowers the previous year.

Two other men suffered severe gunshot wounds, but somehow managed to survive the attack described as an ambush while the four of them sat in a Mercury Marquis in the parking lot of the subsidized housing project in March of 2011.


Deputies and Court Administrators in security effort
As Special Crimes Detective Michael Walsh described the ongoing ad hoc investigation of Mr. Bowers' death by his mother Sheila Bowers and a man named Freddie Hilliard, members of Mr. Cummings' family sat stone-faced. The detective, who has 24 years experience, explained that many of the leads and suspicions furnished by the pair were inconclusive. Others were completely false.
Jurors stared at numerous photos projected on a screen that depicted Mr. Bowers dressed in a bright red polo shirt and a black golf cap.

One photo focused on Mr. Bowers balancing a stockless “street sweeper” shotgun with a pistol grip on his shoulder. In another photo, he grinned while flashing a gang sign with his right hand with the index finger folded, middle, ring and pinky extended chest high.

Sixteen young men posed at his funeral dressed in identical red shirts with epaulets, sergeants' chevrons, winged patches over one breast pocket that have the word “combat” embroidered on them, and a row of service ribbons over the other. Each man in the group portrait is flashing the same gang sign.

Asked what such sign language usually denotes, Detective Walsh said, in a single-word answer, “Drugs.”

As a prosecutor questioned him, the detective described several avenues of investigation Mrs. Bowers and her friend suggested, only to learn that their accusations were unfounded. He rejected the adjective “forceful” as an accurate description of the victim's mother, choosing the description “very demanding” as more accurate.

She was often frustrated in her efforts, but eventually, said the detective, a Mr. Stephen Peace was charged and indicted for the shooting of Mr. Bowers.

In one case, he related, the couple set up a meeting at an area church using a member of the clergy as a go-between.

Waco Police Officer Colter waits to testify
When a three-year veteran patrolman named Officer Colbert took the stand, he testified that he was the second officer to arrive at the scene of the shooting of the four young men at Lakewood Villas in March 2011.

He described a scene in which the assailants sprayed the “suspect vehicle,” a gray four-door Mercury Marquis sedan, riddling it with dozens upon dozens of bullet holes. When the projector depicted two young men slumped in the back seat, their bodies covered with blood and the windows of the car shattered, its sheet metal skin looking like Swiss cheese, most of the women seated with their family members began to sob hysterically.

As he and other police officers cordoned off the crime scene to preserve such evidence as the dozens of spent cartridges expelled by semiautomatic weapons in the attack, he said, several hundred bystanders quickly assembled.

Angered, they began to fight following numerous arguments, the causes of which he said, he was unsure. He described a near-riot of what had turned into an unruly mob of an estimated two to three hundred persons. The mood of the crowd was "very emotional," according Officer Colbert.

“We seriously considered getting out the tear gas and fire hoses to clear that crowd away from the crime scene,” he recalled.

As Judge Strother released the jurors to return for a resumption of testimony at 8:30 this morning, he ordered the gallery to remain seated until bailiffs and security guards in the parking lot reported each juror safely in their cars and gone, headed out of the downtown area.

Criminal District Attorney Abel Reyna maintaining courtroom presence
Then he had deputies and Waco police officers escort first the relatives of the victims from the courtroom, down the stairs, and out of the building, before he then had the bailiffs escort Mr. Cummings' relatives outside - and off the Courthouse property.