July 21, 2014
Indianapolis police are trying out an interactive computer game based on television's "Jeopardy!" to prevent teenagers from falling into lives of crime by teaching them about the consequences of breaking Indiana's laws.
Police spokesman Lt. Chris Bailey said the teens who will attend Tuesday's inaugural local presentation of the Juvenile Justice Jeopardy computer game will be treated to free pizza at a YMCA branch in a crime-troubled east side district.
But he said the game is serious and full of sobering facts to help teens understand the state's laws, the penalties for breaking them and how they should interact with police to avoid arrest.
Many teens don't understand, for example, that they can face arrest for actions such as accepting a ride in a stolen car, whether or not they know that vehicle is stolen, Bailey said.
"The adult mind typically doesn't fully develop comprehensive thoughts until the 20s. We want to show these kids what the consequences are for doing certain things, and try to prevent them from ever entering the juvenile justice system," he said Monday.
Two local businessmen paid the $15,000 cost of the game and its licenses so that it can be used by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Indy Public Safety Foundation for years to come. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Strategies for Youth developed the game.
It's tailored to Indiana's criminal code and includes facts such as that the cost of going through the state's juvenile justice system for a crime is typically between $300 and $400, said Lisa Thurau, executive director of the nonprofit Strategies for Youth.
The interactive, scenario-based game takes 90 minutes to play and youngsters are asked 26 questions, she said.
Like "Jeopardy!" the game has five categories from which players can choose, including "Juvenile Justice," ''Police/Youth Interaction" and "Juvenile Records."
Thurau said that when teens get the right answers they score points and the program responds with loud applause. If they get it wrong, the computer produces a disappointed "aww."
Since the computer game was created in 2011, it's been used in after-school programs, at YMCAs and Boys & Girls Club around the nation during presentations that include discussions about crime and punishment, Thurau said.
"The young people seem to really enjoy the conversation because they have so many questions about this and so few people are talking to them about it in a way that integrates both an understanding of behaviors and the law," she said. "That's what we find they respond to." ..Source.. by RICK CALLAHAN
There are some hitches in the state's sex offender and registration law
When Pennsylvania implemented the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act in December 2012 to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Act, the new state law was made retroactive for some sex offenders.
For those who were actively serving a sentence or on probation, or still within the registration period for their crimes, SORNA in some cases changed the length of their mandatory registration with Pennsylvania State Police.
But the Pennsylvania Superior Court held in a November 2013 decision that in plea agreements reached before SORNA was enacted, those agreements — the contracts between the commonwealth and the defendants — override the law.
Deputy prosecutor Stephanie Lombardo, of the York County District Attorney's Office, said on Monday that the appeals she is seeing coming into York County court now are where "the principles of contract law apply."
"That seems to be the most popular (appeal)," Lombardo said.
All defendants affected by the SORNA requirements were to be contacted before the law went into effect about their registration changes.
In at least one local case, the sweep went back to the beginning of Megan's Law in 1995. The state is now on its fourth version of Megan's Law.
John Stermer, 67, of Seven Valleys, pleaded guilty to indecent assault without consent and corruption of minors and no contest to aggravated indecent assault without consent in October 1995.
According to court records, he was sentenced to 11 1/2 to 23 months in prison. By agreement with the commonwealth at the time, there was no registration required.
In December 2012, less than a month before SORNA went into effect, Stermer was advised by the state police that he now was subject to lifetime sex offender registration.
Monday, Judge Thomas H. Kelley VI heard argument in Stermer's case.
Kelley determined that Stermer's supervision had expired before Megan's Law was enacted and noted that Stermer had not been required to register in the first place.
Kelley directed the state police to "cease requiring the defendant to register."
Kelley also pondered whether the registration changes were "a violation of due process."
"Due process has not been litigated," Lombardo said after Stermer's hearing. "None of the courts have ruled on that yet."
In a December 2013 decision, the Supreme Court noted that, having reached a decision on "non-constitutional grounds" that a plea agreement overrides state law, the court would "decline to address the constitutionality of the statute." ..Source.. by Rick Lee
July 19, 2014
Ruling declares only state can enforce residency requirement
LYNN — Sex offenders can legally live wherever they choose, according to a court ruling that nullifies the city’s sex offender ordinance.
“A decision came down last week that no city can enforce a sex offender residency requirement,” said city attorney James Lamanna Friday.
Lamanna said the decision stated that because the state has such complex laws regarding sex offenders that only it could approve a residency requirement and thus far it has not done so.
Lynn’s sex offender ordinance had barred any Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender residing in the city from living within 1,000 feet of a school, park or other private or public recreation facility. In 2012 the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of five registered sex offenders challenging the legality of the restriction. At the time there were about 15 Level 3 sex offenders living near a school or park.
Lamanna said letters were drawn up notifying violators they would have to move but when the ACLU filed its suit the letters were put on hold. “So we never enacted the ordinance,” he said.
ACLU officials argued that the restrictions “extend to most of the geographic areas of the city and virtually all of its available housing,” thus putting an unfair burden on the individuals.
ACLU Legal Fellow Miriam Mack said one of the largest flaws in the city’s ordinance and others like it is that it does nothing to protect or prevent. What it does do is drive sex offenders underground, into homelessness or into another community that has yet to establish a sex offender residency requirement, she said.
The state has a comprehensive scheme to track and monitor sex offenders aside from just the registry, she added.
The Sex Offender Registry Board is a state agency that classifies offenders according to risk. A Level 3 sex offender has been classified by the state as most likely to re-offend and most dangerous to the public. A Level 2 is someone with a moderate risk of re-offending.
According to the Lynn Police Department’s website there are currently 88 Level 3 sex offenders registered as living or working in the city of Lynn.
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said the verdict does not surprise her. When the ordinance was first established she cautioned that it would not hold up to legal scrutiny.
Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi was hopeful in 2012 that the ordinance would hold up in court; now he is frustrated.
“It leaves us to once again rely on our legal department to research and determine what would pass legal muster,” he said. “We have to do everything and anything to protect our children.”
However, Lamanna said there is not much action the council can take unless it decides to file a home rule petition asking the state to allow the ordinance to stand and there is a chance that lawmakers might get involved.
Legislators willing to look at amending state law to allow cities and towns to establish their own residency requirements have approached representatives for the city, Lamanna said.
“They’re not local legislators, but they are interested in making changes,” he said.
Lozzi said he liked the idea of the issue being taken on by the state but he would prefer it if the state would make its own ruling.
“I would encourage the state to do this so we could satisfy that concern but make it more uniform rather than have different communities each have their own rules,” he said. “That way it would pass legal muster with everyone.” ..Source.. by Chris Stevens
A former state trooper convicted of sexually assaulting an underage girl won't have to pay his pension to the victim's father, the Nebraska Supreme Court said Friday.
The court ruled that a 2012 law that would have allowed the garnishment was unconstitutional special legislation because it only applied to six crimes.
Billy Hobbs was convicted of first-degree sexual assault of a child in 2006 and sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. The girl's father sued Hobbs on her behalf, and was awarded $325,000. Hobbs filed a lawsuit seeking to have the new law declared unconstitutional.
The girl told investigators that Hobbs sexually abused her for two years, starting when she was 12 years old. The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual abuse.
Victims of other crimes aren't entitled to retirement assets, so the law effectively creates two separate classes of people, according to the ruling. It also gives preference to public employees who plead no contest or are convicted of a crime that wasn't included in the 2012 law, the court ruled.
"No substantial difference exists between the favored group of victims and employees and those victims and employees who do not receive the act's benefits," Justice William Connolly said in the opinion.
Hobbs is receiving more than $3,700 a month while in prison, with more than $1,800 going to his ex-wife as part of their divorce, according to court records. A judge rejected the father's request to use the rest of the money to pay off the civil judgment, ruling that Hobbs' retirement assets were exempt.
The 2012 law was introduced after the state Supreme Court declared that the old law protected state benefits from collection actions. It was passed as an amendment to a larger bill by the Legislature's Retirement Systems Committee.
The six crimes covered by the law are assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, child abuse, false imprisonment and theft by embezzlement. Those who are convicted also have to be found liable in a civil case.
The ruling upheld a decision by Lancaster County District Judge Paul Merritt Jr., who declared the amendment unconstitutional last year. Merritt said it was unclear why the law applied to six felonies and not others, such as robbery, arson or incest. ..Source.. by GRANT SCHULTE
July 18, 2014
WASHINGTON — You've probably decided who gets the house or that family heirloom up in the attic when you die. But what about your email account and all those photos stored online?
Grieving relatives might want access for sentimental reasons, or to settle financial issues. But do you want your mom reading your exchanges on an online dating profile or a spouse going through every email?
The Uniform Law Commission, whose members are appointed by state governments to help standardize state laws, was on track Wednesday to endorse a plan that would give loved ones access to — but not control of — the deceased's digital accounts, unless specified otherwise in a will.
To become law in a state, the legislation would have to be adopted by the legislature. If it did, a person's online life could become as much a part of estate planning as deciding what to do with physical possessions.
"This is something most people don't think of until they are faced with it. They have no idea what is about to be lost," said Karen Williams of Beaverton, Oregon, who sued Facebook for access to her 22-year-old son Loren's account after he died in a 2005 motorcycle accident.
The question of what to do with one's "digital assets" is as big as America's electronic footprint. A person's online musings, photos and videos — such as a popular cooking blog or a gaming avatar that has acquired a certain status online — can be worth considerable value to an estate. Imagine the trove of digital files for someone of historical or popular note — say former President Bill Clinton or musician Bob Dylan — and what those files might fetch on an auction block.
"Our email accounts are our filing cabinets these days," said Suzanne Brown Walsh, a Cummings & Lockwood attorney who chaired the drafting committee on the proposed legislation. But "if you need access to an email account, in most states you wouldn't get it."
But privacy activists are skeptical of the proposal. Ginger McCall, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, said a judge's approval should be needed for access, to protect the privacy of both the owners of accounts and the people who communicate with them.
PHOTO: FILE - This Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 file photo shows Karen Williams looking at a portrait of her son Loren Williams at her home in Beaverton, Ore. A group of influential lawyers says it has an answer to that pesky question of what should happen to your Facebook, Yahoo and other online accounts when you die. The Uniform Law Commission was expected on Wednesday to endorse a plan that would automatically give loved ones access to all digital accounts, unless otherwise specified in a will. The legislation would have to be adopted by individual state legislatures to become law. But if it does, the bill would make â€œdeath switchesâ€ popular tools in estate planning, allowing people to decide which accounts should die when they do. â€œThis is something most people donâ€™t think of until they are faced with it. They have no idea what is about to be lost,â€ said Karen Williams of Beaverton, Oregon, who sued Facebook for access to her 22-year-old son Lorenâ€™s account after he died in a 2005 motorcycle accident. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
FILE - This Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 file photo shows Karen Williams looking at a portrait of her son Loren Williams at her home in Beaverton, Ore. A group of influential lawyers says it has an answer to that pesky question of what should happen to your Facebook, Yahoo and other online accounts when you die. The Uniform Law Commission was expected on Wednesday to endorse a plan that would automatically give loved ones access to all digital accounts, unless otherwise specified in a will. The legislation would have to be adopted by individual state legislatures to become law. But if it does, the bill would make â€œdeath switchesâ€ popular tools in estate planning, allowing people to decide which accounts should die when they do. â€œThis is something most people donâ€™t think of until they are faced with it. They have no idea what is about to be lost,â€ said Karen Williams of Beaverton, Oregon, who sued Facebook for access to her 22-year-old son Lorenâ€™s account after he died in a 2005 motorcycle accident. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
"The digital world is a different world" from offline, McCall said. "No one would keep 10 years of every communication they ever had with dozens or even hundreds of other people under their bed."
Many people assume they can decide what happens by sharing certain passwords with a trusted family member, or even making those passwords part of their will. But in addition to potentially exposing passwords when a will becomes public record, anti-hacking laws and most companies' "terms of service" agreements prohibit anyone from accessing an account that isn't theirs. That means loved ones technically are prohibited from logging onto a dead person's account.
Several tech providers have come up with their own solutions. Facebook, for example, will "memorialize" accounts by allowing already confirmed friends to continue to view photos and old posts. Google, which runs Gmail, YouTube and Picasa Web Albums, offers its own version: If people don't log on after a while, their accounts can be deleted or shared with a designated person. Yahoo users agree when signing up that their accounts expire when they do.
But the courts aren't convinced that a company supplying the technology should get to decide what happens to a person's digital assets. In 2005, a Michigan probate judge ordered Yahoo to hand over the emails of a Marine killed in Iraq after his parents argued that their son would have wanted to share them. Likewise, a court eventually granted Williams, the Oregon mother, access to her son's Facebook account, although she says the communications appeared to be redacted.
Enter the Uniform Law Commission. According to a draft of the proposal, the personal representative of the deceased, such as the executor of a will, would get access to — but not control of — a person's digital files so long as the deceased didn't prohibit it in the will. The law would trump access rules outlined by a company's terms of service agreement, although the representative would still have to abide by other rules including copyright laws.
That means, for example, a widow could read her deceased husband's emails but couldn't send emails from that account. And a person could access music or video downloads but not copy the files if doing so violated licensing agreements.
Williams said she supports letting people decide in their wills whether accounts should be kept from family members.
"I could understand where some people don't want to share everything," she said in a phone interview this week. "But to us, losing him (our son) unexpectedly, anything he touched became so valuable to us." And "if we were still in the era of keeping a shoebox full of letters, that would have been part of the estate, and we wouldn't have thought anything of it." ..Source.. by ANNE FLAHERTY
July 17, 2014
OMAHA, Nebraska — A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that a Nebraska man convicted of distributing child pornography when he sent a photo showing the head of an 11-year-old girl on the nude body of an adult woman did not have his free speech rights violated.
Jeffrey Anderson, 28, of McCook, was sentenced last year to 10 years in federal prison for the case of child pornography "morphing," or digitally editing images into a pornographic picture. Prosecutors said Anderson sent the picture, which depicted the morphed image of the girl having sex with a man, to the girl via Facebook.
Anderson appealed the trial court's refusal to dismiss the distributing child pornography charge against him, arguing that the federal child pornography laws applied in his case violated his constitutional right to free speech. Anderson argued that because no minor was sexually abused in producing the image, he should not have been charged with making or distributing child pornography.
Prosecutors countered that Anderson's case was no different from a case in which the appeals court held that a morphed image of an underage boy's head on a different underage boy's nude body constituted child pornography.
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed that argument by prosecutors Thursday, citing a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that clarified child pornography as unprotected speech when it involves visual depictions produced through sexual abuse of children.
But the appeals panel also found that the government's need to protect the girl trumped Anderson's free-speech argument.
"Anderson's distribution targeted (the girl) through her Facebook account, and the image suggested her involvement in sexual intercourse as an 11-year-old child," Judge Steven Colloton wrote for the panel. "There was no less restrictive means for the government effectively to protect this child from the exploitation and psychological harm resulting from the distribution of the morphed image than to prohibit Anderson from disseminating it."
Anderson has the option of requesting the panel to rehear his case or petition to have the full 8th Circuit hear his appeal.
Anderson's federal public defender was out of the office Thursday and did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. ..Source.. by MARGERY A. BECK
July 16, 2014
The Gardiner man was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on a charge of murdering his father.
AUGUSTA — The Gardiner man accused of dismembering his father is still not competent to stand trial for murder, and is asking that his lawyers be fired and they not be allowed to contact him.
Leroy Smith III, 24, indicted on charges of murder, will remain at the Riverview Psychiatric Center.
Smith was scheduled for arraignment and a status conference Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court, but he is being kept under observation in the forensic unit at the state mental health hospital.
His defense attorneys, Pam Ames and Scott Hess, had asked a judge to postpone the hearing and said their motion was unopposed by the state. Justice Donald Marden granted that continuance Tuesday.
In Smith’s current circumstances, “he would be unable to enter a plea,” Hess wrote in a request to Marden.
Ames has requested Smith be evaluated for “insanity, abnormal condition of mind and mental condition.”
Meanwhile, Smith asked that Ames and Hess be removed as his court-appointed lawyers and wants a court order preventing them from contacting him.
“My case is demanding though the facts will never get disproven,” Smith wrote in a hand-printed letter to the court, requesting his lawyers be fired. “After these few weeks of thoughtful rest, I am letting everything out, hence my last message for the court.”
He continued, “I demand a professional lawyering team that investigates my case and life in full.”
Hess did not respond Tuesday when asked whether a judge was likely to change attorneys at the request of someone who is found mentally incompetent.
Ames previously told the court that Ann LeBlanc, director of the State Forensic Service, “advised me to make sure the court committed Mr. Smith after the preliminary finding of incompetence for observation and treatment as she did not believe Mr. Smith would become competent without treatment.”
Smith was indicted on a charge of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder in the May 3 stabbing death and dismemberment of Leroy Smith Jr., 56, in the Gardiner apartment the two men shared.
Police say the younger Smith rented a carpet cleaner to hide signs of the killing and took his father’s money and car.
The younger Smith was arrested May 5 in Westbrook after he flagged down a police officer to ask for directions to a strip club that had operated briefly several years previously. Police discovered Smith was wanted on a Massachusetts warrant charging him with harassment.
After he was taken to Cumberland County Jail, Smith allegedly told officers he had killed his father and “filleted him and buried him in the woods because his dad sexually assaulted him his whole life,” according to an affidavit by Maine State Police Detective Jonah O’Roak. Smith referred to himself in discussions with police as God and said he was affiliated with Hells Angels, according to the affidavit.
Police found the father’s mutilated remains in trash bags that Smith told them he dumped in Richmond. Investigators also searched the woods for explosives that the younger Smith claimed to have planted in the area, but no devices were found.
After Smith’s first court appearance, he yelled to assembled news media that he was a “political prisoner being held as a patient.”
Family members previously said the elder Smith had recently learned that his son, who had moved in with him a month before the killing, suffered from a mental illness. ..Source.. by Betty Adams
July 15, 2014
Courtney Shea pleaded guilty and apologized in court Monday for killing Thomas Namer of Waterville.
AUGUSTA — Murderer Courtney Shea and victim Thomas Namer had known each other for 20 years, “a relationship which was complicated and troubling,” according to Shea’s defense attorney.
Shea, 31, of Vassalboro, pleaded guilty Monday in Kennebec County Superior Court to murdering Namer, 69, and was sentenced to 32 years in prison.
The length of the sentence was recommended jointly by the state and defense attorney Brad Grant. It was imposed by Justice Michaela Murphy, who said that part of the reason she agreed with the recommendation is that the victim’s family approved of it.
Namer’s body was found Nov. 22 near Shea’s Riverside Drive home in Vassalboro. Namer was stabbed three times through the neck and upper torso, said the prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General William Stokes.
Stokes showed Murphy photos of a large blood pool outside an abandoned yellow and white trailer on property next to Shea’s mother’s. He said investigators responding to Shea’s Nov. 22 report of a dead man, found Namer’s body behind the trailer, his foot sticking out from under a large pile of logs, as well as indications his body was dragged to the back of the trailer.
Police previously said Shea approached his stepfather and brother early that morning, saying he killed Namer and asking their help to bury him. They told him to call police, and went to make their own call until they saw Shea talking to 911 operators.
Shea told police he blacked out and killed Namer the previous night after Namer touched him sexually. Shea said that brought up memories of being sexually abused at age 11 by Namer.
At Monday’s hearing, Stokes refuted that explanation about Namer making a sexual advance.
“Evidence connected with the investigation suggests that is not the case at all,” Stokes said. “The evidence shows Shea invited Namer to come out.”
A Kennebec Journal review of police and court records shows that Namer, of Waterville, had a negligible criminal record and was never charged with or convicted of sexual abuse. Shortly after Namer was killed, friends from Waterville said they expected Shea to use a defense of sexual abuse because Namer was openly gay.
Stokes said the killing occurred between 7:15 p.m., when Shea texted Namer for a ride, and 7:45 p.m., when Shea called a friend for a ride after driving Namer’s car to a ballfield in Waterville.
“To this day we don’t really know what motivated this killing,” Stokes said. “The only thing Shea has said is that he blacked out.”
Grant’s sentencing memo notes that “nearly all of the defendant’s problems involving the criminal justice system have occurred after the consumption or ingestion of alcohol and/or drug use.” The memo also says that Shea “has been the victim of abuse from at least three individuals,” including a relative and close friends.
Grant said Shea had been drinking beer with friends and relatives Nov. 21 and at some point put a knife in his pocket.
“Courtney intended to give the knife to a relative as a Christmas gift,” Grant says. Shea then drank some whiskey and took medication just prior to texting Namer for a ride.
Grant says that when Namer arrived, he offered Shea some beer, which Shea declined.
“Shortly thereafter a confrontation occurred between the two whereby Courtney blacked out,” Grant wrote. “Courtney next remembers being outside of the automobile, with the knife in his hand. Courtney was standing over a lifeless Thomas Namer.”
The knife used in the murder was never found Stokes said, despite extensive searches of waterways in Waterville.
“DNA testing of bloodstains on the leather jacket worn by the defendant on the night of Nov. 21, 2013, and a glove located in the trash receptacle in the defendant’s home matched the DNA of Thomas Namer,” according to Stokes’ memo.
Shea, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound man, apologized during Monday’s hearing for killing 5-foot-4 Namer.
“I’d just like to say I’m sorry to those people who lost Tom,” he said. “I hope they can forgive me.”
Shea shrugged his shoulder and appeared to try to look around the courtroom as he spoke. He had handcuffs on his wrists which were shackled to a belt around his waist.
When he sat back down, Shea wiped his eyes with his hands.
Shea spent the hours after Namer’s killing drinking alcohol, including Twisted Tea, Natural Ice beer and vodka, and playing video games with friends in their Waterville apartment.
Stokes’ memo refers to Shea’s difficult childhood, including abuse and a diagnosis of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.
“The defendant was reportedly verbally, physically and sexually abused by one of this mother’s boyfriends. He was later physically abused by another of his mother’s boyfriends. He was diagnosed with ADHD at an early age (perhaps 5) and has had emotional and psychological issues for most of his life.”
Several of Namer’s friends and relatives attended the hearing. Stokes said Namer’s son opted not to attend, but indicated he approved of the proposed sentence.
Namer’s second cousin, Timothy Attaya Jr. of Waterville, wrote a victim impact statement to the judge telling her that Namer’s death has left a big hole in his life.
“We spoke every day,” Attaya said before the hearing. “Having him gone in an instant was a big shock to me.”
His letter says, “I can’t think of a day when Tom wasn’t running someone around to medical appointments, errands, etc. In the building where he lived, there were several older ladies that depended on him for rides, fetching their morning paper, cooking them meals or doing their grocery shopping.”
Attaya speculates on the motive behind the killing and on the disparity in size between the two men. “I think that Shea either wanted money or to take Tom’s car and Tom refused. After all, how could anyone Shea’s size be afraid of a man that was not much bigger than a dwarf.”
John Bernard, also of Waterville, described himself as “one of Tom’s best friends.” He did not address the judge.
Myra Achorn, of Augusta, told the judge at the hearing she was Namer’s friend for the past eight years.
“I will miss Tom forever, and I mean it as many of his friends will,” Achorn said. “I hope for the next 32 years he asks himself why, why he killed Tom.”
At the same hearing, Shea admitted violating probation by committing new criminal conduct — the murder as well as separate burglaries and thefts in Winslow — and was ordered to serve 11 1/2 years remaining on his 2010 sentence for robbing a convenience store while wielding a tire iron.
The probation revocation is concurrent with the 32-year imprisonment for murder and with two new five-year sentences for the burglaries and thefts.
Shea was ordered to pay $4,235.98 to the state victims’ compensation fund for money paid to Namer’s family for funeral expenses and $1,330 for restitution for the Winslow crimes. ..Source.. by Betty Adams
SAGINAW, MI — A man charged with murdering a 20-year-old accused of raping the man's daughter has rejected a second plea offer.
Jaymond D. Lawson appeared before Saginaw County Circuit Judge Janet M. Boes on Monday, July 7, and rejected an offer that called for him to receive an approximately 10-year minimum sentence for the July 28 homicide of Dravon Hooker.
Prosecutors' offer called for Lawson to plead guilty to manslaughter, which carries a 15-year maximum penalty, and possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.
In exchange for the plea, prosecutors would drop an open count of murder, which includes a first-degree murder charge that carries a mandatory penalty of life without parole.
After a Cobbs hearing, Boes indicated she would hand down a minimum sentence of eight years and four months for the manslaughter charge. Lawson first would have to serve the mandatory, consecutive two-year sentence for the felony firearm charge.
Lawson appeared with his attorney Alan Crawford, who said Lawson is rejecting the offer. Boes then asked Lawson to confirm the rejection, and he did so.
The minimum sentence in the offer Lawson rejected Monday was 17 years shorter than the one in an offer prosecutors extended in May. That offer called for Lawson to plead guilty to second-degree murder and the felony firearm charge and receive a 25-year minimum sentence for the murder charge on top of the two-year felony firearm sentence.
That 25-year minimum sentence would be near the bottom of Lawson's state sentencing guidelines, scored at 22 years and six months to 75 years for the second-degree murder charge. The guidelines for the manslaughter charge are scored at three years to 16 years and eight months.
Court records do not show that Lawson rejected the first offer; county Assistant Prosecutor Manvel Trice said Monday the first offer was "conditional" because he still wanted to talk with Hooker's family about the offer. Trice and Crawford met for a pre-trial hearing on June 23, but Boes conducted the hearing in her chambers.
With Lawson's rejection of the offer, his case now will proceed to trial, set for July 22 before Boes.
Hooker died shortly after he was shot about 9:45 p.m. at the Birch Park apartment complex off Hess on Saginaw's southeast side.
Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. David Rivard testified at Lawson's preliminary hearing that Buena Vista police were investigating a criminal sexual conduct claim against Hooker that Lawson's daughter made July 25. Hooker had not been charged in that investigation.
Three days later, Hooker was shot twice, including once in the chest, by somebody using a shotgun, prosecutors say.
Michigan State Police Lt. Ron Crichton testified that a Mossberg 500 pump-action 12-gauge shotgun seized from Lawson's cousin's house fired a 12-gauge shell found at the scene of the homicide. Lawson's cousin, Davarius Lawson, testified he left that shotgun at Jaymond Lawson's house on July 27, the day before the homicide.
When he was shot, Hooker was visiting his father, Bobby Meredith, at Birch Park. Rivard said Hooker was shot in the parking lot near his vehicle.
Saginaw County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Boyd has said the delay in charging Jaymond Lawson was a result of authorities waiting for ballistics results.
Lawson remains jailed without bond. ..Source.. by Andy Hoag
Father changes mind, admits he killed 20-year-old accused of sexually assaulting man's daughter
SAGINAW, MI — With his murder trial looming, a Saginaw man on Friday, July 11, changed his mind and pleaded guilty to killing a 20-year-old accused of raping the man's daughter.
Four days after rejecting a plea deal that called for him to receive an approximately 10-year minimum sentence for the July 28 shooting of Dravon Hooker, Jaymond D. Lawson on Friday accepted the offer.
Lawson, who was scheduled for a July 22 trial before Saginaw County Circuit Judge Janet M. Boes, appeared before Boes on Friday and pleaded guilty to manslaughter and possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.
In exchange for the plea, prosecutors will drop an open count of murder, which includes a charge of first-degree murder that carries a mandatory penalty of life without parole.
After a Cobbs hearing, Boes indicated she would hand down a minimum sentence of eight years and four months for the manslaughter charge. Lawson first will have to serve the mandatory, consecutive two-year sentence for the felony firearm charge.
Saginaw County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Boyd said Buena Vista police were investigating a criminal sexual conduct claim against Hooker that Lawson's daughter made July 25, three days before Hooker died shortly after he was shot twice, including once in the chest, about 9:45 p.m. at the Birch Park apartment complex off Hess on Saginaw's southeast side.
Boyd said his office took those allegations into account in offering Lawson the plea agreement.
"When you took into consideration all the circumstances, including whether or not the jury might have sympathy for that and the probability of a murder conviction versus the manslaughter charge, I think it was a plea agreement that was fair to everyone," he said.
The sexual assault allegation was made on a Thursday, and Hooker was killed on a Sunday.
"Things happened real close in proximity to one another," Boyd said. "(Buena Vista Police Sgt.) Sean Waterman was in our office Monday discussing the (sexual assault) investigation with us when we found out about the shooting."
Prosecutors said somebody wielding a shotgun shot Hooker, who was visiting his father Bobby Meredith at Birch Park.
Michigan State Police Lt. Ron Crichton testified at Lawson's preliminary hearing that a Mossberg 500 pump-action 12-gauge shotgun seized from Lawson's cousin's house fired a 12-gauge shell found at the scene of the homicide. Lawson's cousin, Davarius Lawson, testified he left that shotgun at Jaymond Lawson's house on July 27, the day before the homicide.
Boyd has said the delay in charging Lawson was a result of authorities waiting for ballistics results.
The minimum sentence in the offer Lawson accepted Friday was 17 years shorter than the one in an offer prosecutors extended in May. That offer called for Lawson to plead guilty to second-degree murder and the felony firearm charge and receive a 25-year minimum sentence for the murder charge on top of the two-year felony firearm sentence.
The state sentencing guidelines for the manslaughter charge are scored at three years to 16 years and eight months.
A sentencing date was pending. ..Source.. by Andy Hoag