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Archive for the ‘MANSLAUGHTER’ Category

Michelle Carter arrives at court in Taunton, MA on June 16, 2017 to hear the verdict in her trial.MURDER BY TEXT CASE.

John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

A Massachusetts judge has found 20-year-old Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 suicide of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, who Carter repeatedly encouraged to commit suicide via text message. The American Civil Liberties Union has condemned the ruling, arguing it “imperils free speech” and could set a new precedent that chills people’s First Amendment rights when communicating via tech tools like text and social media.

But legal experts say Carter’s crime isn’t altogether new, and that it has little to do with texts. It’s based on a long history of legal precedent laying out when speech can be considered a crime and what role the law believes one individual can play in causing another’s suicide. Given that history, the fact that Carter’s communication with her boyfriend happened to play out over hundreds of text messages is almost irrelevant, and shouldn’t have much bearing on what people can and can’t say via smartphone.

“This story is news because it involves technology, but people have been using words to commit crimes as long as there have been crimes,” says Neil Richards, a professor at Washington University Law School, who specializes in speech and constitutional law. “People commit crimes with words, and now people use tech to communicate words, so now people are using tech to commit crimes with words.”

Joseph Cataldo, an attorney for Carter, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Carter’s messages are protected speech. “These text messages Michelle Carter sent to Conrad Roy are speech. There’s no action,” Cataldo said. “He took his own life. He took all the actions necessary to cause his own death.”

And yet, according to Danielle Citron, author of the book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, there are 21 crimes that have to do explicitly with speech—things like threats, extortion, aiding and abetting, and conspiracy. None of these types of speech are protected by the First Amendment. “If the First Amendment’s a house, where inside speech is protected, threats can’t walk in the door. Neither can extortion. Neither can solicitation of a crime,” Citron says. In other words, not all speech is covered by the First Amendment’s proverbial roof.

The details of Carter’s case, of course, have as much to do with criminal law as they do First Amendment law. On July 12, 2014, Roy affixed a water pump to his truck in a Kmart parking lot in an attempt to poison himself with carbon monoxide. He and Carter had already exchanged hundreds of texts in which she aggressively encouraged him to kill himself and even suggested the means by which he should do it. But those texts alone aren’t what landed Carter a guilty verdict. Instead, the prosecution argued that when Roy began to feel the effects of the carbon monoxide poisoning and stepped out of his car, Carter was the one who instructed him, via phone call, to “get back in.” And that, Judge Lawrence Moniz said in his decision Friday, was the moment Carter assumed responsibility for Roy’s life and engaged in “wanton and reckless behavior,” knowing it could cause Roy “substantial harm.”

“He breaks that chain of self-causation by exiting the vehicle,” Judge Moniz said. “He takes himself out of that toxic environment that it has become.”

The concept of the causal chain in suicide cases is one that courts have grappled with for decades, says David Gray, who teaches criminal law at University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law. The most famous defendant in such a case was, perhaps, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who was tried for murder for allowing terminally ill patients to use his “suicide machine” to kill themselves. Kevorkian was ultimately acquitted because the judge ruled that, although Kevorkian provided his patients with the means to kill themselves, he didn’t actively participate in the “final overt act that causes death.”

“Kevorkian gave them the tools. He may well have wanted it, and believed it was the best thing for them,” says Gray. “But ultimately, they made the final choice. That act broke the causal chain.”

It wasn’t until Kevorkian was actually filmed injecting a patient that he was finally found guilty and sentenced to jail time. At face value, that looks like an argument in Carter’s favor. She was, after all, miles from the scene of Roy’s death when it happened. But Gray says that there are exceptions when the court decides that the person who commits suicide is compromised and not acting as “a free-willed agent.”

“That’s where this case seems to lie,” Gray says. “This young man was very troubled, very vulnerable, and the defendant exploited that vulnerability, expanded that vulnerability, and substituted her agency for his agency by constantly encouraging him to commit suicide.”

Carter also texted a friend following the suicide, saying, “I helped ease him into it and told him it was okay, I was talking to him on the phone when he did it … I could have easily stopped him or called the police but I didn’t.” That, Gray says, establishes “consciousness of guilt.”

“She knew he wasn’t in a position to make free choices for himself,” Gray explains.

But while the case may not set new precedents around digital speech, the fact that it was brought as an involuntary manslaughter case is noteworthy, says Richards. In the past, courts have often tried to apply tech-specific law to such cases. In 2006, for instance, a woman named Lori Drew created a fake Myspace account to communicate with a teenage girl named Megan Meier, who Drew believed was spreading rumors about her daughter online. Drew posed as a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans and used it to encourage Meier to kill herself, which she eventually did. But instead of being charged with involuntary manslaughter, Drew was charged with (and later acquitted of) violating Myspace’s terms of service, in violation of the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

“The knee-jerk reaction has always been: Something bad is happening using technology. We ought to pass a law about that use of technology,” Richards says. But the Carter case suggests that courts are beginning to look past the use of technology and see the crime for what it is.

And that means those digital crimes come with severe real life consequences. Carter, who will be sentenced on August 3, faces up to 20 years in prison.

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Forensic police officers inspect the truck parked on an Austrian highway.image www.crimefiles.net

Forensic police officers inspect the truck parked on an Austrian highway. Photo: Reuters

Vienna: The partly decomposing bodies of as many as 50 people assumed to be migrants being smuggled across Europe were found in a truck abandoned on a highway east of Vienna on Thursday.

The precise toll was yet to be determined, said Hans-Peter Doskozil, director of police in the eastern state of Burgenland, during a live news conference on Austria’s public broadcaster

Some of the bodies in the truck had started to decompose, investigators said image www.crimefiles.net

Some of the bodies in the truck had started to decompose, investigators said. Photo: AP

Doskozil said the bodies, some of which had started to decompose, had been discovered when the truck was opened after the police noticed it parked off the highway that links Budapest and Vienna. He declined to give further details.

Doskozil said the Austrian police had contacted the authorities in neighbouring Hungary, where the authorities have accelerated the building of a fence along the border with Serbia, in an effort to block the flow of tens of thousands of migrants who have worked their way up the length of the Balkans in recent weeks.

The border fence has threatened to complicate and even cut off what has become an increasingly accessible route for the migrants, many of whom are fleeing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel-We are all shaken by this terrible news image www.crimefiles.net

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “We are all shaken by this terrible news.” Photo: Bloomberg

In recent interviews, humanitarian aid workers and the migrants themselves said the fence would not stop the migrants but would force them to find other ways to make it to wealthy European Union countries farther north, often with the help of human traffickers.

The grisly discovery coincided with the start of a conference in Vienna on how to make the Balkans more secure and prosperous, partly as a means to stop the flight of thousands seeking better economic conditions in Austria, Germany and other, more wealthy parts of the European Union.

The conference is being attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and Balkan heads of government.

Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann expressed sorrow over the deaths and said they were a chilling reminder of the need to give shelter to migrants fleeing war.

“We are all shaken by this terrible news that up to 50 people have lost their lives because they got into a situation where smugglers did not care about their lives,” Merkel said.

“Such a tragic death,” she added, emphasising the need for Europe to pull together and ease the current crisis, part of the biggest wave of migrants since World War II.

In his remarks, Faymann said, “This shows once more how necessary it is to save lives and to fight people smugglers.”

“Those who look back to World War II history know that there were people who depended then on asylum” to survive. Today, too, “it saves lives,” he added.

Gerald Tatzgern, who leads an Austrian police team responsible for fighting human trafficking, said police had secured the site where the truck was found. But he said it would take several days for forensics teams to sift through the evidence and, potentially, learn more about the identities of those found dead.

Police are still searching for anyone who might have information about the truck, which had Hungarian licence plates and was found abandoned in an emergency area beside a highway in the Neusiedl am See region, near the Hungarian border.

The Austrian authorities said they were working with the Hungarian police to try to find the driver, who is believed to be from Hungary.

Images in Austrian news media showed a white vehicle, with a rear cooler compartment emblazoned with the word “Hyza” in brown letters, with a chicken standing in for the letter “y”, surrounded by police cars parked at the side of the freeway.

A Slovak-based company by the name of Hyza told the Austrian news agency APA that it had sold more than a dozen of its vehicles in 2014 but had no further knowledge about them.

Austria’s interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, called it a “dark day,” and urged everyone across the 28-nation European Union to move harshly against human traffickers.

“These are not well-minded helpers,” she said. “They are not concerned with the welfare of the migrants. They care only about profit.”

The discovery of the truck not only threatened to overshadow the conference but also highlighted the continuing divides and dysfunction of the European Union in handling a migration crisis that is straining resources.

Mogherini gave the strongest voice to Europe’s need to act to stop such deaths, “moving from the blame game to real cooperation.”

There is “no magic solution, but the road we can follow to start making things work is very well known,” she said.

“We understand very well that we cannot continue like this – with a moment of silence every time we see someone dying,” she said.

syria refugees image www.crimefiles.net
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Henry Sapiecha
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Convicted neurosurgeon Suresh Nair during his police interview image www.crimefiles.net

Convicted neurosurgeon Suresh Nair during his police interview. Photo: Supplied

A Sydney neurosurgeon jailed over the cocaine-related deaths of two sex workers has been deported from Australia.

Fairfax Media revealed in June that Immigration Minister Scott Morrison had instigated moves aimed at sending Suresh Nair back to his native Malaysia once he was freed on parole, after serving four years for manslaughter and two counts of supplying cocaine. The deportation, which occurred on Tuesday, was made possible because Nair – an Australian resident of more than 30 years – never became an official citizen in that time.

The move follows a joint Fairfax-ABC Four Corners investigation that exposed chronic failings within the NSW health regulatory system, allowing Nair to continue performing delicate brain and spinal prcoedures while his life was spiralling out of control due to a chronic cocaine addiction.

The case of Suresh Nair image www.crimefiles.net

In 2009, two sex workers died in separate overdose incidents at his luxury apartment. In the nine months between those deaths, he spent more than $140,000 on sex and drugs inside Sydney brothel Liaisons while keeping up appearances at both the Nepean private and Nepean public hospitals.

As a result of the Fairfax ABC-Four Corners investigation, the NSW Government has announced it will change laws to improve transparency and communication surrounding impaired doctors.

The reforms also mean patients will never again be denied access to the findings of investigations into their own botched operations.

The dual investigation also convinced Immigration Minister Scott Morrison that Nair’s residency status should be revoked. In a statement today, he said: “I take very seriously my role in protecting the Australian community from the risk of harm by non-citizens who engage in criminal conduct.”

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FACTORY OWNERS IN BANGLADESH IGNORED POLICE WARNINGS TO EVACUATE BUILDING CAUSING NUMEROUS DEATHS OF WORKERS

Bangladeshi police say they have arrested two owners of garment factories based at the eight-storey building that collapsed outside the capital, as the death toll rose to at least 324.

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“We’ve arrested Bazlus Samad, the chairman of New Wave Buttons and New Wave Style factories, and Mahmudur Rahaman Tapash, a managing director of one of these plants, after midnight,” Dhaka’s deputy police chief, Shyaml Mukherjee, said on Saturday.

Police have filed a case against them for “death due to negligence”, he said, after the prime minister said the owners forced their staff to return to work despite cracks having appeared in the building a day earlier.

Survivors said the building developed visible cracks on Tuesday evening, but factory bosses had demanded staff return to the production lines despite a police evacuation order.

A manager at the New Wave Styles company, one of the five manufacturers in the building, said the owner had consulted an engineer but then ignored his warnings.

“Those who are involved, especially the owner who forced the workers to work there, will be punished,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told MPs.

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“Wherever he is, he will be found and brought to justice.”

The death toll in the disaster rose to 324 early on Saturday after rescuers removed more bodies – most in a state of decay – from the wreckage, Mukherjee said.

He said more workers were pulled out alive as the desperate hunt for survivors continued through the night.

Late on Friday, Bangladeshi fire service deputy director Sheikh Mizanur Rahman said about 50 people had been found alive at several places on the third floor after digging tunnels.

“We hope we can rescue them by tomorrow morning,” he said.

The discovery of more survivors brought new hope to the thousands of desperate relatives huddled at the disaster site but an intense stench of decomposition suggested many bodies remain trapped.

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More than 2300 people had been rescued alive since the collapse but many are severely injured, the army said.

Exhausted rescue teams of soldiers, firemen and volunteers using concrete-cutters and drilling machines were racing against time in searing heat to find more survivors from the country’s worst industrial disaster.

Bangladeshis watch the rescue operations at the site of a building that collapsed Wednesday in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. The death toll reached at least 194 people as rescuers continued to search for injured and missing, after a huge section of an eight-story building that housed several garment factories splintered into a pile of concrete.

NEUROSURGEON FOUND GUILTY IN DEATH OF NAKED CALL GIRL

Sydney neurosurgeon Suresh Nair – who used to be known as “Sex Rash” at university – has been sentenced to a minimum of five years and three months in jail over the death of a second female escort from a cocaine overdose in his Elizabeth Bay flat.

Nair, 43, who had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Suellen Domingues-Zaupa, 22,  on November 21, 2009,  stood with arms folded and eyes lowered as the sentence was read in the NSW District Court today.

He also pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine to another prostitute, Victoria McIntyre, 23, who died at his flat in February 2009.He further admitted supplying cocaine in January 2010, when he broke his bail conditions by being found with cocaine in the company of two naked escorts.

Suresh Nair ... pleaded guilty to manslaughter.Suresh Nair … pleaded guilty to manslaughter. 

The court had heard that Nair had done nothing to help Ms Zaupa as she lay dying from a cocaine overdose, which he had given her.

He failed to call an ambulance or take her to hospital.

The death occurred less than a year after another female escort he had hired died from a cocaine overdose in the same apartment.

Justice Robert Toner said the manslaughter charge was on the basis that Nair had been grossly negligent when he did not call for an ambulance when Ms Domingues-Zaupa was having convulsions due to her voluntary cocaine use during the sex session.

He said Nair had also ingested a large amount of the drug, which had diminished his capacity to render assistance to her.

Since mid-2004, Nair’s cocaine use had led to a string of conditions, including urine tests three times a week, being placed on his medical registration.

But the judge said drug addiction did not explain Nair’s behaviour, leading him to conclude he was driven by self-indulgence and self-gratification.

“It is hard to underestimate the fall of the prisoner,” he said.

Nair was sentenced to a maximum term of 10 years which was reduced to five years and three months because of his early guilty plea, his remorse and contrition, and the serious assault he suffered in Silverwater prison this year.

He will be eligible for parole on April 30, 2015.

– with AAP


Steve Bosevski ‘stopped from

helping dying twin’ after cop attack

Natasha Wallace

June 29, 2011


POLICE used capsicum spray in a man’s eyes and a stun gun on his brother without warning or explanation during an NRL grand final celebration at St George Leagues Club, a court heard yesterday.

Steve Bosevski, 35, said he was arrested for assault but was never charged and the police never explained why they had taken him away after a violent brawl erupted at the club on October 4 last year that left his twin brother, Steven, dead.

Mr Bosevski told an inquest yesterday that he had argued with a man shortly before the brawl but there had been no physical violence between them or anyone else before police arrived on the scene and used batons, capsicum spray and stun guns on the crowd.

Steven Bosevski, left, with his twin brother Steve, right,  pictured in Greece.Steven Bosevski, left, with his twin brother Steve, right, pictured in Greece. 

The two brothers were so close that they still slept head-to-toe in the same bed at the Arncliffe home of their parents, Mr Bosevski told Glebe Coroner’s Court yesterday.

The three-week inquest is examining the circumstances of Steven Bosevski’s death, including if his fragile medical state had any significance and whether police used reasonable force. He had been held face down by two security guards and two police officers for four minutes, the court has heard.

An autopsy found he died from a combination of methylamphetamine toxicity and hypertensive heart disease.

Mr Bosevski broke down yesterday as he told of the moment he realised his twin was lying motionless on the floor with officers trying to revive him and he was prevented from going to him.

”I said: ‘please let me go and call my brother because, if he hears my voice, if he has any life in him he’ll come back’, and he [a police officer] said: ‘you shut the f— up’,” Mr Bosevski said.

He said his eyes ”burnt like hell” from the capsicum spray.

His brother, Tony, had moments earlier been shot with a stun gun, he said.

”I’ve never heard him [Tony] scream in my life the way he screamed in that much pain; it hurt me…”

Mr Bosevski said he had been out on the terrace when police approached him and asked him to leave but did not explain why.

He said he was pushed twice from behind by an officer.

”I said: ‘hey, what are you doing? I told you we are leaving’ … he got out his capsicum spray and he got me in the eyes.”

Philip Biggins, appearing for police, put to Mr Bosevski that on three occasions he had been asked by security guards to move away from the bar area and that, after he had argued with Robert Hristovski, a security guard said to him: ”calm down or leave”.

”No, no, that’s wrong,” Mr Bosevski said.

Mr Biggins said that one of his group said: ‘they’re f—ing kicking us out’ and one of you said ‘let’s f—en go back in’. You deny that?”

”It didn’t happen.”

Appearing for the family, Winston Terracini, SC, asked Mr Bosevski if at any point security, police or club staff had asked him to leave because he was intoxicated or because of bad behaviour.

”No,” he replied. He said he was ”not at all” intoxicated. The inquest continues

Not guilty pleas in Mr Ward

prison van death

May 30, 2011 – 12:19PM

Two security-firm employees have pleaded not guilty to failing to prevent the heat-stroke death of an Aboriginal elder in the back of a prison van in the Goldfields.

Mr Ward, 46, who cannot be fully named for cultural reasons, died in the back of the un-air-conditioned van while being transferred from Laverton to Kalgoorlie in January 2008 to face a drink-driving charge.

The two van drivers, Nina Stokoe and Graham Powell, were charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act with failing to take reasonable care to avoid affecting the safety or health of a person in custody.

In the Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court today, both pleaded not guilty and their cases were adjourned until August 29.

The maximum penalty if they are found guilty of the charges is a $20,000 fine.

The private security contractor G4S, which employed the pair, has previously pleaded guilty under the OHS Act to failing to ensure the health and safety of Mr Ward.

The company is waiting to be sentenced and faces a maximum penalty of $400,000.

WA’s Department of Corrective Services, which had control of the van, has also pleaded guilty of failing to ensure non-employees were not exposed to hazards and also faces a maximum $400,000 fine.

The department has taken steps to prevent a repeat of the incident, including flying people from remote regions to court and taking delivery of 40 improved prisoner transport vehicles.

An inquest completed in May 2009 by WA Coroner Alastair Hope concluded that all parties involved contributed to Mr Ward’s death.

But in June 2010, WA’s director of public prosecutions ruled out criminal charges, finding a prima facie case did not exist.

The following month, WorkSafe WA decided to investigate to determine whether the OHS Act had been breached and subsequently laid charges.

In July 2010, Mr Ward’s widow and her four children received $3.2 million in an ex-gratia payment from the state government.

G4S has not had its contract to provide a prisoner transport service renewed by the government.

AAP  

Mother who was playing

Facebook game

while son drowned in bath

jailed for 10 years

April 18, 2011 – 8:29AM
Shannon Johnson was playing a game on Facebook while her 13-month-old baby drowned in a full bathtubShannon Johnson was playing a game on Facebook while her 13-month-old baby drowned in a full bathtub Photo: AP Photo/The Weld County (Colo.)

A US woman who was playing a game on Facebook while her 13-month-old son drowned in a bathtub has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Shannon Johnson, 34, of Fort Lupton, northern Colorado, cried as District Judge Thomas Quammen told her he didn’t think she was a bad person or that she killed her son on purpose, the Greeley Tribune reported. But, he added, that doesn’t mean her action wasn’t criminal.

“You left this little boy in a bathtub so you could entertain yourself on the computer by playing games,” Quammen said. “And you left that 13-month-old human being, little Joseph, incredibly for those reasons.”

Johnson pleaded guilty in March to negligently causing the death of her child. The charge carried a sentencing range of four to 12 years, but it also left open the possibility of alternative sentencing, which means she might have avoided spending time behind bars. Authorities rejected that option, saying they didn’t want to play down the seriousness of her crime.

According to court documents, Johnson put her son in the tub for his bath a little after 8.30am on September 20. She then left him unsupervised as she went to another room to share videos, check status updates and play Cafe World on Facebook.

When she returned to the bathroom, she found Joseph sideways and face-down in the water.

Johnson called 911 to say Joseph wasn’t breathing. Paramedics were able to revive the toddler but he was pronounced dead at a Denver hospital.

According to the affidavit, Johnson told police the boy “wanted to be left alone” and was a very “independent baby”.

She also told police she knew what it was like to be told “no”, and she did not want her baby to be told “no”.

The affidavit says she also did not want him to be known as a “mama’s boy”.

Johnson told police she gave the boy a bath every day – sometimes twice a day. She said that on the day Joseph died, the water level might have been higher than usual.

Johnson told police she had been leaving Joseph in the bathtub alone for weeks.

Johnson also told authorities that her son had a seizure at his grandmother’s house a month earlier and had been given anti-seizure medication in case it happened again. Doctors didn’t diagnose the cause of the seizure and there were no other occurrences, Johnson said.

The investigation into the boy’s death was delayed while investigators waited for the final autopsy report. That report came back on January 3. It said the baby died of anoxic brain injury, cardiac arrest and drowning, according to the arrest affidavit. Johnson was arrested days later.

She was also sentenced to five years of mandatory parole following her incarceration.

Weld County Undersheriff Margie Martinez told KMGH-TV in Denver that Johnson’s mother said she had warned her daughter of the danger of leaving the toddler unattended in water just days before he drowned.

“She told her she wouldn’t do it anymore,” Martinez said.

AP 

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