Mohammed Yusef: Jose Pimentel: American Terrorist

“The only changes I noticed over the past two years was that he converted to the Muslim faith,” said Luis Severino.

Jose Pimentel, a United States citizen originally from the Dominican Republic, was arrested by the New York Police Department because he was ready to carry out a bombing campaign that targeted US troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, Post Offices and also Police stations.

Pimentel, who has taken the Islamic name Mohammed Yusef, was known as a quiet man, who helped the neighbours with their groceries.  Luis Severino, Pimentel’s uncle was shocked to learn of the bombing plot but did note that his nephew underwent changes after his conversion to Islam.

“It’s crazy,” said Isabel Yerkes, 24, who lives across the hallway from Mr. Pimentel’s apartment. “It’s shocking. You live four feet from people and you don’t know them. He was really quiet. He never said anything.”

In details that are beginning to unfold, Pimentel had assembled bomb making supplies from reading the Al-Qaeda magazine, Inspire.  He set up his own website which promoted violence and jihad against America.  Fortunately, he was on the radar of Law Enforcement Officials who had been watching him for the last year.  The arrest came quickly according to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly because he was ready to start bombing. “We had to act quickly yesterday because he was in fact putting this bomb together. He was drilling holes and it would have been not appropriate for us to let him walk out the door with that bomb,” Kelly said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has so far, remained silent on this arrest.  They have not denounced Pimentel nor his radicalization on American soil.  However, they have targeted the FBI.  According to their website:

 At a press conference this morning outside FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., CAIR and the other groups expressed concerns about persistent reports that FBI agents are trained to view mainstream American Muslims with suspicion and to view the faith of Islam itself as the source of terrorism and extremism.

It is very difficult for me to have any sympathy for this ridiculous accusation given the violence we have been seeing from American Muslims.  Mayor Bloomberg in New York came out and said that in the years since 9-11, thirteen terror plots have been foiled thanks to the diligence of the American people and the hard work of law enforcement.  Following are some of those foiled plots which all have one thing in common.  They involve radicalized Muslims.

  • 2003: Brooklyn Bridge targeted: Columbus, Ohio resident Iyman Faris admitted to scouting locations for an al Qaeda attack on locations in New York, and planned to helped destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. Faris, a native of Kashmir who became a U.S. citizen in 1999, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
  • 2004:  Pakistani diplomat assassination threat: Kurdish refugee Yassin Muhiddin Aref and Mohammed Mosharref Hossain, co-founder of an Albany, N.Y. mosque, were arrested for money laundering in support of terrorism. They were captured in an FBI sting operation in which an informant promised to provide a shoulder-fired missile with which to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat at that country’s consulate in New York City. Aref and Hossain were sentenced to 15 years in prison, despite protests that they were framed by an FBI informant who arranged the fabricated purchase of the RPG-7 grenade launcher and the assassination scheme. The informant, a convicted felon, was secretly cooperating with federal prosecutors to reduce his own prison sentence on document fraud charges.
  • Subway station bomb plot: Shahawar Matin Siraj was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his part in a plot to bomb a N.Y.C. subway station the day before the 2004 Republican National Convention was to open, as revenge for wartime abuses of Iraqis. There was no proof he ever obtained explosives and was not linked to any terror organization. A friend of Siraj, James Elshafay, pled guilty and testified against his friend; the court released him.
  • Financial targets: In August 2004 seven men were arrested in a plot to destroy the New York Stock Exchange and Citicorp headquarters, among other financial landmarks in the U.S. and London. Dhiren Barot, the group’s leader who was described by Britain’s top anti-terrorist detective as “a long-term, dedicated, committed member of al Qaeda,” was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
  • 2006Hudson River tunnels: There men were arrested for allegedly plotting to destroy the PATH train tunnels in New York City in order to flood the city’s financial district. FBI Assistant Director Mark J. Mershon called the plot the “real deal” involving “martyrdom and explosives.”
  • Blowing up commercial airliners: In August 2006 U.K. law enforcement arrested 25 suspects in a plot to use liquid explosives to destroy several commercial airliners bound for the United States and Canada.
  • 2007: JFK Airport attack: In June 2007 four men – Russell Defreitas, Kareem Ibrahim, Abdul Kadir and Abdel Nur – were indicted for plotting to blow up jet fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport to avenge perceived U.S. oppression of Muslims around the world.
  • 2009: Synagogue bomb plot: In May 2009, in a case which invited criticism of the FBI, four men were arrested in New York City in an alleged plot to detonate a bomb outside a Jewish temple and fire rockets at U.S. military aircraft.Officials said the plot was infiltrated by a government informant who claimed to represent the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammaed and arranged to supply the would-be terrorists with fake explosives and an inoperable anti-aircraft missile.
  • WMD plot: Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan immigrant and airport driver in Colorado, was indicted for “conspiracy to use one or more weapons of mass destruction…within the United States.” Court papers said Zazi and others purchased “large quantities of hydrogen peroxide and acetone products from beauty supply stores in the Denver metropolitan area” over three months with the purpose of creating homemade explosives.
  • 2010: Times Square bomb attempt: On May 1, Pakistani immigrant Faisal Shahzad lit the fuse of a crude, homemade bomb packed in a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder parked in New York’s Times Square before fleeing on foot. He paused to listen for the explosion that never came. A street vendor spotted smoke coming from the SUV and alerted police, who cleared the area. Two days later Shahzad was taken off a plane bound for Dubai.
  • 2011: Saudi student: Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a Texas Tech chemical engineering student from Saudi Arabia, was accused of buying chemicals and equipment to build a weapon of mass destruction. Among the possible targets found in notes: Dams, nuclear plants, the Texas home of former President George W. Bush, and unspecified locations in New York City, which he visited.
  • Manhattan synagogue plot: In May 2001 Two men authorities called homegrown terrorists, one of whom complained that the world was treating Muslims “like dogs,” were arrested in a sting operation in New York City. Ahmed Ferhani, a 26-year-old of Algerian descent, and Mohamed Mamdouh, a 20-year-old of Moroccan descent, plotted to bomb a “major synagogue” in Manhattan and bought several weapons and an inert hand grenade from an undercover officer, Mayor Bloomberg said.  They were also said to have expressed interest in bombing the Empire State Building.
Once again, we find non-muslims being called out for prejudice.  It is exhausting for non-muslim Americans to find this “middle-ground” when we keep getting our trust broken by these radicals.  They don’t wear signs or colors to denote their radical beliefs in Americas destruction so we can’t discern who is radical and who is peaceful.  Indeed, Pimentel was considered to be a quiet, peaceful Muslim who helped others with their groceries while at the same time was devising a plan to kill as many innocents as he possibly could.  The American confusion continues.;contentBody


Operation Fast and Furious; Wrong and Deadly

On December 14, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down in a fire fight that took place in an unforgiving Arizona border area.  He was shot in the back by an illegal alien with an AK-47.  On February 15, 2011, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata was gunned down inside Mexico by one of the weapons used in the Terry murder.  What began as unrelated tragedies, is now unfolding into a gross manipulation of our laws, in an attempt to manufacture chaos, whose tentacles reach to the most hollowed of all places:  the White House.

Think back to 2009 when suddenly members of the Obama administration came out with the most shocking statistic that 90% of American guns end up in Mexico.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the statement to reporters while on her way to Mexico City.  Then, Senator Diane Feinstein got involved when she commented, “It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot judges, police officers and mayors … come from the United States.”  Then the big announcement from William Hoover assistant director for field operations at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), who went and testified before the House of Representatives that “there is more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States.”

The gun-control lobby went nuts.  They wanted legislation enacted and policies to be reversed to do something about all the murder and mayhem that guns cause.  They thought they had the golden ticket to advance their agenda of making law-abiding citizens prey to criminals who don’t care about laws.  Two very important truths came to light when they began screeching.  The first was that while Americans don’t want murder and mayhem, it was hard for them to be sympathetic to the narco-terrorists dying in Mexican streets while they were unemployed and the economy was tanking  and the Second more important truth was, that it was a LIE.

In all actuality, only 17% of American guns wind up in Mexico.  The BATFE, found that many of the serial numbers and weapons come from foreign sources.  To the tune of 83%!!!  Once it was proven that the statistics didn’t back up the lie, it was time to make the lie back up the statistics.

The Department of Justice, utilizing the BATFE, put together half-witted and poorly executed operation.  The operation was called GUNRUNNER.  As a part of Gunrunner, Operation FAST & FURIOUS was concocted.  Officially, the operation was to track and possibly uncover smuggling operations so they could be extinguished.  Additionally, the DOJ  expected some of the guns to be delivered to Mexican narco-terrorists which could provide information on the cartels.

However, what really happened is that our federal government PURPOSEFULLY allowed those suspected gun smugglers to purchase weapons at licensed firearms dealers in Arizona.  Not only did the government agents allow the purchases, but they failed to intercept the smugglers and failed to recover the guns that were purchased!!!!  Of the 2,000 weapons that were sold through straw purchases and proxy deals, only 600 have been recovered.

We would have no knowledge of this mess except for the courageous agent who came forward.  Special Agent Vince Cefalu was stationed at the Dublin, California location when he stepped into the limelight and blew the whistle on this mess.  Right before he was fired, he gave an interview in which he stated, “Simply put, we knowingly let hundreds of guns and dozens of identified bad guys go across the border.”  When Cefalu came forward with his information, a number of other agents who had first-hand knowledge of the operation also came forward.

Congressional hearings soon followed and thanks to the dedication of Rep. Daniel Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley we now have a much better picture of what did happen.  Here are their findings:

  • DOJ and ATF inappropriately and recklessly relied on a 20-year old ATF Order to allow guns to walk. DOJ and ATF knew from an early date that guns were being trafficked to the DTOs  (Drug Trafficking Organizations) .
  • ATF agents are trained to “follow the gun” and interdict weapons whenever possible.  Operation Fast and Furious required agents to abandon this training.
  • DOJ relies on a narrow, untenable definition of gunwalking to claim that guns were never walked during Operation Fast and Furious. Agents disagree with this definition,  acknowledging that hundreds or possibly thousands of guns were in fact walked.
  • DOJ’s  misplaced reliance on this definition does not change the fact that it knew that ATF could have interdicted thousands of guns that were being trafficked to Mexico, yet chose to do nothing.
  •  ATF agents complained about the strategy of allowing guns to walk in Operation Fast and Furious. Leadership ignored their concerns. Instead, supervisors told the agents to “get with the program” because senior ATF officials had sanctioned the operation.
  •  Agents knew that given the large numbers of weapons being trafficked to Mexico, tragic results were a near certainty.
  •  Agents expected to interdict weapons, yet were told to stand down and “just surveil.”  Agents therefore did not act. They watched straw purchasers buy hundreds of weapons illegally and transfer those weapons to unknown third parties and stash houses.
  • Operation Fast and Furious contributed to the increasing violence and deaths in Mexico.  This result was regarded with giddy optimism by ATF supervisors hoping that guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico would provide the nexus to straw purchasers in Phoenix.
  • Every time a law enforcement official in Arizona was assaulted or shot by a firearm, ATF agents in Group VII had great anxiety that guns used to perpetrate the crimes may trace back to Operation Fast and Furious.  (Including the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords).
  • Jaime Avila was entered as a suspect in the investigation by ATF on November 25, 2009, after purchasing weapons alongside Uriel Patino, who had been identified as a suspect in October 2009. Over the next month and a half, Avila purchased 13 more weapons, eachrecorded by the ATF in its database within days of the purchase. Then on January 16, 2010, Avila purchased three AK-47 style rifles, two of which ended up being found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The death of Border Agent Brian Terry was likely a preventable tragedy.
  • Phoenix ATF Special Agent in Charge (SAC) William Newell’s statement that the indictments represent the take-down of a firearms trafficking ring from top to bottom, and his statement that ATF never allowed guns to walk are incredible, false, and a source of much frustration to the agents.
  • Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, DOJ continues to deny that Operation Fast and Furious was ill-conceived and had deadly consequences.

As if all of that is not horrific enough, at no time was the government in Mexico informed of this plan.   The Mexican government had NO KNOWLEDGE that it was about to be flooded with illegally purchased guns with the go-ahead from the United States Government. Some of those AK-47’s that the BATFE allowed to “walk” over to Mexico was found in the possession of the killer of Mario Gonzalez, who was the brother of a state prosecutor.  He was tortured and forced to make a video tape confession that his sister was “on the take.”  At this point, the unconfirmed death toll in Mexico is 150 people.

Marisela Morales is the Attorney’s General in Mexico.  She had been a longtime supporter of U.S. policy and law enforcement.  However, having learned of Operation Fast and Furious through news reports, she is cooled towards our government.  She is quoted as saying, “At no time did we know or were we made aware that there might have been arms trafficking permitted.  In no way would we have allowed it, because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans.”  Things got a bit more telling in her interview:

Morales said she did not want to draw conclusions before the outcome of U.S. investigations, but that deliberately letting weapons “walk” into Mexico — with the intention of tracing the guns to drug cartels — would represent a “betrayal” of a country enduring a drug war that has killed more than 40,000 people. U.S. agents lost track of hundreds of weapons under the program.

To further complicate our relationship with the Mexican government, Patricia Gonzalez, the State Prosecutor for Chihuahua and the sister of murdered Mario Gonzalez, had much more to say, “The basic ineptitude of these officials [who ordered the Fast and Furious operation] caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims,”  Indeed, we now know that a helicopter carrying Mexican Federal police was fired upon by a .50 caliber rifle that was a part of the “walk.”  The bullets from that rifle pierced the fuselage and the armor reinforced windshield.  Three Federal agents were wounded.

Fast and Furious weapons have also been linked to other high-profile shootings. On May 24, a helicopter ferrying Mexican federal police during an operation in the western state of Michoacan was forced to land after bullets from a powerful Barrett .50-caliber rifle pierced its fuselage and armor-reinforced windshield. Three officers were wounded.

Emails that are now being released coupled with the congressional testimony is quite clear that American Officials deliberately concealed the operation and fall out from Mexico’s government.   Darren Gil, the acting ATF attache in Mexico City, said that he contacted U.S. officials on briefing the Mexican government however, he was met with silence.  In his testimony before congress he stated, “They were afraid that I was going to either brief the ambassador or brief the government of Mexico officials on it.”

On Friday, September 30th, the White House very quietly released emails that show a conclusive link between Bill Newell and White House National Security Staffer Kevin O’Reilly.  O’Reilly is not longer in that position, however emails show they also spoke on the phone and were long time friends.  The White House is trying to spin this mess and say they had no knowledge of the operation or any fallout that it caused.  Even though Eric Holder has been caught in the cloud of suspicion.

It is absolutely time for a Special Prosecutor to be called so a grand jury can be convened and people can be sworn to the truth.  While I don’t have the proof, it is my opinion that this whole mess was contrived so the debate about gun control could ratchet up again.  In this country, gun control means that the bad guys can prey more readily on the law-abiding citizens.

Finally, on a related note, the family of Brian Terry has retained a prominent Phoenix lawyer, Lincoln Combs in a possible lawsuit against the government.  At this time, Combs has been watching the proceedings in congress and also in the change in personnel.  “All we know is that this (the abrupt leaving of Kenneth Melson of BATFE and U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke) doesn’t bring us any closer to justice for the people involved in Brian’s murder,” Combs said. “Or to any answers from the government as to Operation Fast and Furious and their role in Brian’s killers obtaining the weapons they used to kill him.”  When he was questioned if Burke is being set up as the scapegoat for higher up government officials like Eric Holder Combs had this to say, “Obviously, we feel like he (Burke) had some role in what happened.  But we don’t know to what extent,” he continued. “So we certainly have no idea if he’s a scapegoat or what the political forces are at work.”  No doubt this will eventually result in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Read more:;contentBody

The Heroes of the Reno Air Race Crash

It goes without saying that the men and women who work as fire personnel, police and first responders are the unsung heroes of any disaster.  This was most especially true last week in Reno, NV.  The Galloping Ghost, a WWII-era P-51 Mustang fighter plane, crashed into the VIP section Friday sending shrapnel flying in all directions.  The debris field covered between 2 and 3 acres of tarmac.  Fortunately, the jet fuel didn’t explode.  However, there were many hurt and some were hurt fatally.

What I remember most of the accident, as I watching it live right after the crash, is how the people of this area pulled together.  Approximately 100 people in the stands who were trained medical professionals, immediately left their seats and went to the injured and dying.  The people who didn’t have medical attention rushed to help the professionals carry litters, hold bandages and whatever else was asked of them.

Within minutes, there were 700 emergency responders coming onto the scene.  Some of those responders had been the first to arrive at the Carson City IHOP Shooting just a week prior to this tragedy.  Civilians began breaking down the VIP boxes to be used as tourniquets with larger pieces covering up body parts.

As helicopters began to arrive, two civilian pilots noticed a vintage Vietnam era helicopter on display.  They realized that it could fly so they put the tires on it and began flying the critical to area hospitals.  The doctors and nurses who came from the stands, rode in the ambulances and in the helicopters to the hospital so they could continue working.  Medical personnel from all around the area who immediately heard of the disaster, left their days off and went to their respective hospitals to go to work.  Even those who had already left worked for the day, came charging back.

The crowds, who you would expect to be hysterical and running, were very much calm and orderly.  Everyone was doing the very best they could to help each other.  For those who were injured but ambulatory, the stranger that was sitting next to them before the crash became the friend who helped them walk to help.

“This happened so fast, there was just a sense of shock. But people were very calm. You know, they didn’t know me. They came, held my hand, told me I was going to be all right,” Noah Joraanstad, a 25-year-old commercial airline pilot from Anchorage, Alaska, told The Associated Press from his hospital bed at Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks. “They walked into a scene where people were amputated, whatever, and just carnage everywhere, and they decided to help. To me, those were the real heroes.”

Because we live in a tourist area with many large events every year, our people here train and train and train for disasters.  They run drills, they work mock situations and then do corrective errors when they are done.   Because we are Northern Nevadans we have a strong sense of community and neighbors.  People don’t get into your business here because that’s the Western way, but if you need help, we will move mountains to get you and your family what you need.

It is unfortunate that today we lost the 11th victim of this tragedy.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends.  But, if it wasn’t for the unselfish gestures of those involved, it would have been much, much greater.


Nose Jobs out of his Apartment

So over coffee one day, you and your friend get started talking and you mention that her nose looks great.  She is thrilled with the results and can’t wait to tell you about Dr. X.  As you inquire a bit more you find out that this doctor is performing plastic surgery out of his apartment along with vasectomies and breast augmentation.  In other words, there is something for everyone!

This is just the newest problem to come to light regarding illegal immigration.  Most often, the doctor is licensed in Mexico or South America but is unable to get his/her license in the states.  Conversely, illegals who want or need surgery will seek out these services so that their immigration status doesn’t get revealed.  The Nevada State Health Doctor, Dr. Tracey Green is warning of these underground services, “This is happening more than we’d like to know,” Green said.  “We’ve seen three to five incidents in the last seven months across the state. Our No. 1 concern is that you have the right to ask if someone is a licensed doctor, and if the procedure is performed in a home or facility that is not a medical facility, you are in great risk and should not receive services.”

Indeed, our neighbour to the south, Las Vegas is watching the trial of a woman who died after receiving an injection of gel to enhance her buttocks.  The “office” for the procedure was in the back of a tile store.  2 people have been charged with 2nd-degree murder and practicing medicine without a license.

The doctor who was working out of his apartment here in the Sparks area charged full price for his services and demanded the payment in cash.  The fake doctor “talks to everyone he runs into” to solicit his services, Green said.“They can be workers or people who live next-door,” she said. “Wherever he goes he offers some kind of service.”

For me, the idea of having surgery anywhere other than in a hospital with a full staff of medical professionals seems just a bit crazy to me.  I can’t imagine anyone thinking that is a good idea.  However, it must be very profitable because people are sure dying to get in on the deal.

The West Memphis Three: WM3

This is not a timely blog.  It’s about 3 weeks late from all the final wrap up.  However, I was a big follower of this case and I’ve wanted to write about it.  So, if you are not terribly interested, I will get back to the current stuff next time.

Imagine for a moment that you are a teenage boy.  You and your best friend are sitting around watching some TV and shooting the breeze when out of the darkness, the police kick in the door.  The arrest you and your friend telling you that you are facing capital murder charges in the deaths of three young children.  That was how Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin began their ordeal.

At the Sheriff’s office they found out another teenage boy had also been arrested.  A very frightened Jesse Misskelley Jr. (16 years old) was already in custody and being interrogated with out his parents.  By this time, Misskelley had been interrogated for hours.  Interestingly, the Detective had not taped the first few hours of the interrogation but only the last 45 minutes.  Evidence at the trial would show that Detective Bryn Ridge had coerced the confession out of the frightened and mentally challenged boy.

The night before the arrests, 3 young boys all 8 years old, were found dead in a ditch.  Stevie Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers had been stripped naked, hogtied with their own shoelaces and one boy, Christopher, had been genitally mutilated.  There was no blood found at the scene despite the coroner ruling blood loss on Christopher and drowning on Stevie and Michael.  As far as evidence found at the scene, there was precious little.  This occurred in 1993, so forensics and DNA were not as advanced as it is today.

In a strange twist, the manager of a drive-thru restaurant, Mr. Bojangles, called the police and informed them of a disheveled black man was locked in the ladies room.  The man was confused, dazed and covered in blood and mud.  The restaurant was about a mile from the crime scene and this took place the night of the murders.  The responding Officer, Regina Meeks, came to the drive-thru window 45 minutes after the call was made.  The individual had already left the facility.  She saw no need to enter the ladies room to collect blood samples.  It wasn’t until the next day, after the story broke that the manager thought maybe that stranger had something to do with the murders.  In order to get the police to take him seriously he had to call them twice.  Det. Ridge took blood samples and hair samples.  Unfortunately, he lost the blood samples so they were never analyzed.  At the crime scene however, a hair belonging to a black male was found.

Back at interrogation, Jesse Misskelley was tired, confused and wanted to go home.  In his mind, if he just cooperated they would leave him alone and he could leave.  Sensing his broken will and realizing that he had a low IQ (70) Det. Ridge began to feed information to Misskelley.  So, Misskelley began to elaborate on a story that was completely inconsistent with the known facts of the case.  For example, Misskelley stated they used rope to tie up the boys, when it was their own shoelaces.  He elaborated that Echols had hit Stevie a number of times in the head while the autopsy didn’t support that fact.  He also suggested that the boys had been sexually assaulted and that was ruled out during autopsy.   But, at the end of the day, it didn’t change the fact that the three boys were facing capital murder.

Because Misskelley was the one who “confessed” to the crimes, the prosecution decided to try him separately.  His trial began and his attorneys brought in all kinds of expert witnesses to show that the “confession” he gave was literally fed to him.  They established that Misskelley had been interviewed for hours before the tape recorder was turned on for his confession.  The defense dismantled his statement and had forensic psychologists come in to explain how Misskelley had been led.  In spite of the fact that there was no evidence of Misskelley’s involvement in the boys murder and in spite of the fact that the confession had clearly been coerced, Jesse Misskelley was found guilty of one count of 1st -degree murder and 2 counts of 2nd-degree murder.  He was given life plus 40 years in prison.

Damien Echols and James Baldwin were going to be tried together.  The prosecution knew that there was no evidence of these boys being involved so he was counting on getting Jesse Misskelley to testify at their hearings.  Misskelley was offered the sweetest deal on the planet: 10 years.  He would be out in 8 minus the time he had already served in custody.  All he had to do was get on the stand and tell his confession and all would be golden.  Jesse Misskelley said NO.  He told his attorneys and the prosecution that the three of them did not do this crime and there was no way he would get on the stand and lie.  He clearly understood the consequences of his actions meaning he would be in prison until he died.  But the principle was more important to him.

The trial of Echols and Baldwin began with the media salivating for any morsel they could find.  Rumour, innuendo and disinformation ran rampant over the community.  The prevailing theme was that Damien Echols was a Satan worshipper and James Baldwin his minion. The police did everything they could to egg that on.  They leaked to the press that the genitals of Christopher Byers were found in Echols bedroom.  That never happened.  The prosecution pointed to Echols love of heavy metal music as more evidence of Satanic worship.  His interest in spirituality and in the occult further gave the prosecution something to exploit.  Baldwin was just painted with the same brush and marginalized by the prosecution.

As for the defense, the attorney for Echols dubbed it Satanic Panic.  He brought forth a team of experts to dispell everything the prosecution used.  Most importantly, he shot holes in the prosecution’s arguments and introduced a wealth of probable doubt.  But, it was to no avail.  Satanic Panic was clearly set in and on March 19, 1994 Damien Echols was sentenced to death for the murders of the three boys.  James Baldwin received life in prison.

Now, before the trial started, the movie channel HBO had heard of charges against the boys.  They gave the green light to a documentary of the murder, the boys and the trial.  HBO called the documentary “Paradise Lost.”  It was a brilliant piece of work and showed the unvarnished truth of what happened in that small Arkansas town.

The popularity of the documentary began to fuel a fire that blazed through the music community of California.  The Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines, Henry Rollins and Metallica began fund-raising for the boy’s appeals.  The clamoring was becoming deafening.  Each case went to appeals, but given that the SAME judge presided over the appeals trials, they were all dispensed the same way.

Days turned into months, months turned into years and young teens gave way to men.  But, not before they each were subjected to untold indignities.  They were brutally beaten, raped and tortured along the way.   Even Damien Echols was not safe on Death Row, he experienced the same treatment.  But the boys were never forgotten.  Free the West Memphis 3 organizations sprang up to shine a light upon the injustices done to these boys.

Fast forward to 2007 when DNA testing became a definitive standard for crime scenes and the truth became much clearer.  No DNA evidence pointed to any of the boys.  There was a hair tied into the knot binding one of the boys that was did not belong to any of the 3.  Additionally, there was DNA evidence linking Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of Stevie Branch, to the crime scene.  Further, the supposed knife marks on the bodies and the genital mutilation were identified to be animal predation.  Despite all these new revelations, the Circuit Court of appeals once again the request of a retrial.  The next appeal went to the Arkansas Supreme Court.  In July 2008, it was revealed that Kent Arnold, the jury foreman on the Echols/Baldwin trial, discussed the case with an attorney prior to the beginning of deliberations and advocated for the guilt of the West Memphis Three.  That admission is enough to create a reversal.

In November of 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court admonished that the lower court must examine the claims of misconduct and review the newly discovered DNA evidence to see if it would exonerate the 3.

The Judge who had previously been the Judge for trials and appeals was finally gone.  However, in August of this year the men once again found themselves jammed into a corner.  The new trial was set for December off 2011.  However, even though trial had been set it didn’t mean that Damien Echols could not be executed before that time.  And in fact, there were rumblings that his execution was coming up very fast and he would not be alive come December 2011.  The prosecution, realizing that they would most likely lose at the December trial, decided to give the men a deal.  It’s called an Alford Plea.  In a nutshell, it says that you are guilty of the crime committed but we are releasing you with time served.  The men were still allowed to maintain their innocence.

James Baldwin was not happy with the Alford Plea.  He wanted to take the fight to Supreme Court and push for justice.  But the deal had to be accepted by each man.  If any one of them did not sign off on the plea, the deal was off.  When James Baldwin had time to think about it, he realized that if he didn’t agree that Echols may not live to see the day.  So, he made the sacrifice of his own desires to save Damien Echols.  Jesse Misskelley, Damien Echols and James Baldwin served 18 years and 78 days behind bars.  They walked out of prison on August 19, 2011 finally free men.









For Further Reading:

Crime Really Doesn’t Pay or Really Dumb Criminals

You are at your home in California and have managed to be smart enough to amass a large quantity of Cocaine.  You are also smart enough to realize that your ROI (Return on Investment) will be much better back east.  Using mapquest or some other clever search site, you map out your route.  You even go so far as to rent a car to keep everything hidden.  All this planning, conniving, and hustling comes down to this crucial moment,  the discussion of who all is going and who is going to drive.

In a flash, all your brains abandon you and it seems like a really good idea to drive the route yourself, forgetting that your driver’s license is revoked.  You also seemed to have forgotten that your companion/girlfriend is not good in a pinch.

This is the story of how a routine traffic stop in Colorado turned into a major cocaine bust.  As the story goes, Mark Bailey and Lisa Calderon, packed the trunk of a rental car with 220 pounds of Cocaine worth over $10 Million.  They left California for the more lucrative market of Iowa traveling a very familiar stretch of highway known to Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) as a drug-smuggling corridor (Interstate 25).

Outside of Pueblo, Colorado, Bailey made an illegal lane change in front of an off-duty LEO.  The off-duty called a patrol car and Bailey was pulled over.  It was at that time, that the LEO realized that Bailey’s license had been revoked.  When questioned about his direction of travel, Bailey informed the LEO that he owns a body shop in California and was on his way to Iowa to look at a classic ’55 Chevy.

It was around that time that the LEO noticed that the trunk of the rental car was sagging a bit low.   When you combine that with the fact that the other passenger Calderon, was acting nervous and the picture begins to look a little suspicious.  The LEO took aside Calderon and asked about the direction of travel and was informed that they were heading to Iowa to visit Bailey’s brother.  Since nothing was adding up correctly, the LEO had enough probable cause to search the vehicle.

A K-9 officer was summoned to the location with Raleigh, the drug sniffing dog.  Raleigh made quick work of the scene and alerted on the back-end of the car.  When the truck was opened, the Officers found 4 black duffel bags stuffed full of bricks of Cocaine.

Both Bailey and Calderon were immediately arrested.  Bailey also faces additional charges of driving without a valid license and failure to show proof of insurance.

Once again, the devil is in the details.

My sincerest congratulations to the Police Officers who caught the biggest bust in Pueblo’s history.  These men and women put their lives on the line every single day protecting us citizens from the likes of these people.  Their job is often long, hard and thankless.  They deal with the criminal element so we don’t have to!   My heartfelt thanks to all the men and women serving as LEOs.

For More Information on this Bust:

Carson City Shooting

I have been waiting most of the day to write this blog because there is always so much rumour and disinformation that occurs during the initial chaos of a tragic event.

A mentally unstable man named Eduardo Sencion drove to a popular chain restaurant this morning and opened fire on a table of uniformed National Guard Soldiers.  Carrying an AK-47 he continued his murderous rampage driving circles in the parking lot and firing off rounds.  At the end of it, he saved the taxpayers the cost of a trial by turning the gun on himself.

As the dust has begun to settle, we now know that 4 people are dead and 8 others are wounded.  Two of the fatalities are National Guard troops while the other two are a civilian woman and the shooter.  We know that the shooter was born in Mexico but had a valid United States Passport.  His family has also indicated that he suffered from undefined mental illness.  He never served in the Military nor did he have a criminal record.

Carson City is a very close-knit community of about 55,000 and news of the shooting spread very quickly through this sleepy town.  Shock and dismay has rattled the residents to the very core.  “I don’t know what’s happening to my city,” Fran Hunter, who works at the Sierra Le Bone pet shop just north of the IHOP, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “This happens in L.A. or Las Vegas but not here.”

The rampage occurred just 4 miles from the Guard’s Headquarters.  One of the Guard’s troops was quoted as saying, “You go a whole tour in Afghanistan and no one is shot. And you go to IHOP and several are shot.”  He went on to say,  “It’s a shock. I came to work today and had no idea I’d be driving the chaplain here (to the hospital.)”

The National Guard Troops were unarmed in the restaurant.  Should they have had weapons I suspect the outcome would have been a bit different but either way the shooter would still be dead and with him goes the answers to his actions.  However, in reality, the answers are meaningless because it won’t change the fact that he lost his mind and took lives.  And it won’t change the fact that this sleepy little community will never be the same.

As if all of this isn’t disgusting enough, the shooter drove a minivan to the location and on the back was a “we support our troops” sign.

UPDATE:  If you go to the IHOP website you will see a very nice company statement regarding this issue.  That’s outstanding!

To read more on this tragedy:  (Reno Gazette Journal Home Page – Lots of information)

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