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September 2017
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How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Tag: Murder

Ex-NYPD Cop Fatally Shoots Self As FBI Agents Prepared to Arrest Him

nypd badgeBy Steve Neavling

A former NYPD cop fatally shot himself in the head as FBI agents pulled him over to arrest him as part of a quadruple homicide and cocaine conspiracy, the New York Post reports. 

Gerard Benderoth, 48, committed suicide on a quiet suburban road in Rockland County around 8:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Benderoth, nicknamed “White Rhino” from his days as a strongman competitor, was about to be arrested on a seal indictment in connection with a murder and drug conspiracy case.

“If this guy put a bullet in his head rather than go and talk to them, he must have been in deep,” a law enforcement source noted to The Post.

ICE Arrests Honduran Man Who’s Wanted in Machete Deaths

Courtesy of ICE

Courtesy of ICE

By Steve Neavling

An undocumented immigrant who hacked two men to death with a machete in Honduras was arrested in North Carolina on Tuesday.

ICE deportation officers arrested Francisco Escobar-Orellana, a Honduran national, near his Hope Mills, N.C., home.

An arrest warrant for Escobar was issued in May 2995 following the machete attacks at a liquor store in 1993.

At some point, Escobar illegally entered the United States.

“ICE is focused on identifying, arresting and removing public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws,” said ERO Atlanta Field Office Director Sean Gallagher in a statement. “ICE Fugitive Operations Teams conduct targeted enforcement operations toward these identified threats to public safety. North Carolina residents are safer today thanks to the professionalism and hard work of these dedicated officers.”

ICE plans to remove Escobar from the U.S. so he can face criminal charges in Honduras.

FBI Tracks Suspected Michigan Murderer to Texas Using Facebook

Stephen Marcus Gilbert, 31

Stephen Marcus Gilbert, 31

By Steve Neavling

A 31-year-old man accused of killing one person and injuring another in a shooting in downtown Flint, Mich., was tracked by the FBI using Facebook.

Authorities said they tracked Stephen Marcus Gilbert to Texas after a task force saw on his Facebook page that he had recently visited a woman in Arlington, MLive reports. 

The FBI, however, still had not located Gilbert as of Tuesday morning.

An apartment manager reported that he saw Gilbert walking toward the woman’s apartment.

Gilbert has bee charged with first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and four counts of felony firearm, according to court records.

Austin Murder Suspect Arrested on Charges of 1983 Murder

Robert Francis Van Wisse

Robert Francis Van Wisse

By Steve Neavling

More than 20 years after he was charged with murdering University of Texas student Laurie Stout in 1983, Robert Francis Van Wisse surrendered to officials at the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday.

Wise was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted list in December.

“If he committed a brutal murder like this in 1983, he is very, very able to commit a murder again,” FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said when the agency put him on the list last month, with a $100,000 reward, UPI reports

Stout was a 22-year-old mother and late-night janitor who was sexually assaulted and then killed in a men’s restroom at an office building in Austin.

Van Wisse wasn’t charged until 1996 because of “outdated methods of DNA analysis and mismanaged records.”

Van Wisse is in custody at the Travis County Jail in Texas.

One of FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives Is Captured in El Paso

Terry Strikland

Terry Strikland

By Steve Neavling

One of the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives was taken into custody by the FBI on Sunday in El Paso.

Terry A.D. Strickland, 24, is accused of killing two men in Milwaukee and has been charged with two counts of first-deere homicide and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, the Associated Press reports. 

Prosecutors said Strickland fired a gun into a small crowd in front of a Milwaukee home on July 17 following an argument. Killed were Maurice Brown Jr., 38, and Michael Allen Reed, 39. 

“It was vicious,” Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said when Strickland was added to the FBI’s most-wanted list last month. “It was unnecessary. Neither individual posed the slightest threat to Mr. Strickland, but they paid with their lives for occupying the same space.”

Strickland abandoned his 18-year-old daughter and fled. But after receiving tips, the FBI found Strickland in El Paso.

Border Patrol Agent’s Murder Trial Begins This Week in Beheading Case

Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna

Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna

By Steve Neavling

The trial begins this week for a Border Patrol agent accused of capital murder and drug trafficking.

Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna, along with his two brothers and two associates, are charged in the beheading death of Jose Francisco Salacios Paz, the Texas Tribune reports. 

Prosecutors say Paz was killed because he knew too much.

Jury selection begins Tuesday morning.

Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Gus Garza expressed optimism that there’s enough evidence to convict Luna and his brothers.

“The state alleges that this group, the brothers, were conducting a criminal enterprise, of moving drugs, selling drugs. Later on, we also learned that they were moving weapons, and Franky was going to snitch on them,” Garza told The Texas Tribune. “In order to silence him and not have their enterprise disclosed to law enforcement — that’s why he was killed.”

FBI Prepared to Help Chicago Combat Surge in Murders

police tapeBy Steve Neavling

The FBI is prepared to help Chicago deal with the outbreak of violence in 2016, and President-elect Donald Trump said he’s prepared to listen.

Sources told Fox News that the FBI wants to help the Windy City after 3,550 people were shot and 762 murdered in 2016. 

Sean Spicer, spokesman for the Trump transition team, said the president-elect is worried about the gun violence.

“Obviously I think the President-elect would be willing to listen to anything that can be done to make sure that Americans are kept safe and if the FBI has ideas about how to do that – he would definitely be all ears to do that,” Spicer said.

In a Tweet on Monday, Trump suggested he may bring in federal help if Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel can’t solve the problem on his own.

“Chicago murder rate is record setting – 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can’t do it he must ask for Federal help!” Trump tweeted.

Still, Chicago is not expected to have the highest murder rate in the country. Preliminary records show Detroit and Baltimore had more shootings and murders per capita.

Parker: 2016 — Criminal Justice Issues By The Number

By Ross Parker

2016 has had significant developments in the many categories of the criminal justice arena. Here are some numbers in a few of those categories.

64 and 135 –  Law Enforcement Line of Duty Deaths and Murders

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

2016 was a dangerous year for police and other law enforcement officers. 135 officers suffered on the job deaths, up from 123 in 2015. This number was the highest since 2011. And the number one cause was as victims of shootings, up tragically to 64 from 41 last year. 21 of these were from ambush-style shootings, the highest number in over two decades.

Although there has been much controversy about animosity between police and racial minorities, the great majority of the killers were white. Many of those responsible were either mentally ill or claimed to be “sovereign citizens” or members of hate groups.

The average age of those officers who died on the job was 40 years, and the average length of service was 14 years. Six were women police officers, the same number of federal agents who died in the line of duty.

These statistics, as well as other factors, have had a seriously negative effect on police morale, early retirements, and recruitment difficulties. It’s a dangerous job to protect and serve.

1,324 – President Obama’s Clemency Grants

The President has issued more commutations (sentence reductions) and pardons (setting aside of convictions) than the last 11 Presidents combined. For example President Clinton exercised clemency a total of only 61 times during his 8 years in office. And, with 958 petitions still pending, Obama still has three more weeks to increase those numbers.

95 of this number were pardons. The rest were commutations. The overwhelming majority of the commutations involved “non-violent” drug offenders who received long sentences under then-existing mandatory minimum and high guideline sentence rules, some of which have since been reduced. Most of these commutations reduced sentences which will permit the offenders’ release in the next year or so. For example, many 30 year sentences were reduced to 20 years.

The majority of those receiving reductions were Hispanics or African Americans who had received the sentences before drug penalties were overhauled.

Obama and some bi-partisan support have also reduced sentence laws and guidelines. This has resulted in early release for tens of thousands of inmates.

20 and 30 – The Number of Executions and Death Sentences

With 20 executions and 30 people sentenced to death in 2016, the use and public tolerance for the supreme penalty continues to spiral down. The executions were the lowest number since 1991. The number has declined every year for the last 7 years. Likewise the number of sentences of death is the lowest figure since the death penalty was reinstated in 1972.

What is perhaps even more significant about the number of executions is that they occurred in only 5 states, Georgia (9), Texas (7), Alabama (2), Florida (1) and Missouri (1). The cases were largely confined to a few counties in these states.

This past week the United Nations with the support of 117 countries called for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.

The factors driving this trend include public fear of discrimination for those who are sentenced to death, the prospect of “botched” executions, the substantial costs of capital prosecutions and incarcerations, and the release of 130 death row inmates who have presented evidence of their innocence. Nationwide the average cost of each death penalty prosecution is estimated to be $2.4 million. California claims to have spent $4 billion in total on these cases and has not managed an execution in several years.

Even a “conservative” Supreme Court seems to be increasingly reluctant to approve the ultimate penalty. It has struck down various death penalty practices in several states, including Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Delaware. The Florida Supreme Court recently set aside death sentences in what could be as many as 300 cases.

The death penalty lives on in an increasingly small part of the country.

Over 300 Million –The Number of Guns in America

Gun ownership increased in 2016, but polls and experts differ on the number. Some estimate that about 44% of American households have firearms, up about 7% in the last 2 years. Other surveys assert that the majority of these guns are owned by as few as 3% of the population. Almost all reports say there has been a significant increase in firearm permits and gun sales.

There were more than 50,000 instances of gun violence in the country with over 14,000 resulting in deaths and 30,000 in injuries.

The U.S. has the highest number of guns per capita in the world, estimated as 112 for every 100 residents. We have more guns than people. Compare this number with other countries:  Canada 30.6, Mexico 15, UK 6.6, Japan .6.

Ironically incidents of mass gun violence and efforts to curtail gun violence have only served to boost gun sales.

29 – The Number of States Legalizing Marijuana

Four more states joined the growing majority which have legalized marijuana in some form. Maine (whose vote is currently subject to a re-count), Massachusetts, Nevada, and California all passed recreational marijuana possession laws in November. Three others (North Dakota, Arkansas, and Florida) legalized its use for medical purposes. Well funded campaigns in another half dozen states are already underway for 2017.

The trend occurs as researchers are discovering more medical and health problems among regular users, especially the young. Use rates have doubled in the last three years according to Gallup Polls.

Meanwhile possession, distribution, and cultivation continue to be federal criminal offenses, although prosecutions for smaller amounts has largely terminated. DEA declined to reclassify the drug out of Schedule I this past year. President-elect Trump has not yet announced the new administration’s investigation and prosecution policy.

8 – The Number of Sitting Supreme Court Justices

Justice Antonin Scalia’s death and Senate Republicans’ refusal to even consider President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland for the past 9 months have meant that the Supreme Court has operated one Justice short for most of 2016. Some have suggested that Obama perform a recess appointment of Garland in the short period between the two Congresses, but the move is probably unconstitutional.

Having only 8 Justices has had many negative consequences. The Court’s reputation has been damaged as an independent branch of government issuing the supreme law of the land according to legal precedent principles. Rather it has appeared to be a stepchild subject to the partisan wrangling of issue-oriented politicians.

There have been practical consequences as well. The Court is simply not considering many important cases in order to avoid controversy and 4-4 voting deadlocks.

Only 10 criminal cases have been scheduled for argument in the first four months of the 2016-2017 term, and only four since October. All four of the criminal opinions this term have been decided by unanimous votes, mostly by affirming the decision of the Court of Appeals.

The two cases scheduled for January illustrate the caution. Nelson v. Colorado considers the issue of whether a state can require an acquitted defendant to thereafter prove his innocence in order to recover a fine paid as part of the sentence. Only Colorado has such a bizarre rule. The other case, Lynch v. Dimaya, considers the issue of whether a part of the Immigration and Nationality Act on the removal of an alien from the U.S. is unconstitutionally vague. Neither case requires heavy lifting.

Meanwhile difficult and important cases continue to float around the pool of split and inconsistent decisions of the various lower courts.

P.S. To all of our Tickle the Wire readers who are still actively involved in federal law enforcement, we wish that all of their 2017 cases involve targets like the man in The Woodlands,Texas who called police this past week to report that two men had robbed him while he was selling marijuana to them. All three will celebrate New Years Eve in the local jail.

Thanks for the tip, Justin.