Friday, July 31, 2009
East Hampton Woman Stabbed to Death by Estranged Husband
Posted on 31 July 2009
The Suffolk County Police Department Homicide Squad is investigating the stabbing death of an East Hampton woman.
East Hampton Town Police were called to 105-62 Oakview Highway in East Hampton last night after a child called 911 and said that his mother had been stabbed. Blanca Soto, 29, was taken to Southampton Hospital where she died. Her estranged husband David Soto, 41, was arrested a short distance from the scene by East Hampton Town Police. He was treated and released from Southampton Hospital for a self-inflicted stab wound.
Soto faces charges of Murder in the second degree, a felony, and will be arrainged in East Hampton Town Justice Court on August 1, 2009.
Man guilty in 2002 baby death
Scott's conviction in '05 overturned
Kris Wernowsky • July 31, 2009
A jury found a 39-year-old Pensacola man guilty of second-degree murder Thursday in the August 2002 death of his then- girlfriend's infant son.
The Escambia County jury deliberated more than three hours before finding Adrian Scott guilty in the death of Michael Moorer, who died of blunt force trauma.
This is the second time Scott was tried on the charge.
The 1st District Court of Appeal overturned a 2005 first-degree murder conviction, saying Circuit Judge Linda Nobles allowed evidence of the child's previous injuries into the first trial.
The defense attorney at the time claimed he wasn't notified about the evidence.
Nobles revoked Scott's bond and ordered him held at Escambia County Jail until sentencing. He faces up to life in prison.
Assistant State Attorney David Rimmer, who prosecuted the original case, said that Scott shook the infant and slammed him on the floor the morning of Aug. 2, 2002, as the child's mother Sandra Turner showered.
Michael was behaving normally when his mother checked on him and changed his diaper.
Turner's shower was interrupted by Scott's screams that something was wrong.
The child was rushed to Sacred Heart Hospital. He was pronounced brain dead Aug. 3 and removed from life support two days later.
"The defense said nobody saw Adrian Scott hurt Michael," Rimmer said. "Sometimes you can determine exactly what happened by using your common sense and looking at the circumstances, and drawing reasonable inferences and logical conclusions."
Rimmer pointed to a pair of incidents that raised suspicions that Scott had a pattern of violence toward the child. A month before the death, Michael was hospitalized with a broken leg while in Scott's care.
Scott said the baby fell off a plastic patio chair, broke his leg and hit his head. It was that head injury the defense cited as the cause of the infant's death, and not a violent shaking.
Also, days after the child broke his leg, his body in a cast, Scott grabbed the boy and pinned him against the steering wheel of his car and told him to "shut up," Turner said in her testimony.
Scott's attorney, Ted Stokes, said the state's case against his client was weak and relied on nothing but circumstantial evidence.
"That man did nothing to hurt that child, and he would never intentionally hurt that child," Stokes said. "Has the state proven its case? No. You can find the defendant not guilty because there is reasonable doubt."
About 20 members of Scott's family sat in the gallery of the courtroom. They diverted all questions to Scott's brother, Lumon Scott Jr., who said he wasn't prepared to speak about his brother's case.
Turner cried as she left the M.C. Blanchard Building in Pensacola, saying she's relieved that the ordeal is behind her.
"I thank God. It's been a long time. It feels good to have closure," she said.
Caretaking boyfriend charged with 1st-degree murder in scalding death of 3-year-old boy (Memphis, Tennessee)
Murder charged in child's death
By Staff , Memphis Commercial Appeal
Friday, July 31, 2009
A Memphis man has been charged with first-degree murder in the scalding death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old son.
Pierre Hampton, 25, is being held in the Shelby County Jail.
According to a police affidavit:
Hampton left Zarkkavvon Craft unattended in a bathtub when he answered the door June 9 at 5995 Summer Sun.
Hampton talked to a man at the front of the house until he heard Zarkkavvon scream.
The boy had been severely burned from the waist down.
Zarkkavvon was taken to Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, then transferred to a burn unit in Cincinnati.
He died of his injuries Monday.
Hampton is charged with first-degree murder in the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, neglect or endangerment.
-- Hank Dudding
Court Upholds Sentence in Child's Death
The Nebraska Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and life sentence of a man who beat his girlfriend's 22-month-old daughter to death.
Andre Robinson was sentenced in April 2008 in Douglas County District Court for the November 2006 death of Branesha Thomas.
Prosecutors had said Andre Robinson kicked Branesha Thomas "like a soccer ball" while he was baby-sitting her and that she received multiple injuries. An autopsy showed the girl had blunt-force trauma to her abdomen and bleeding on her brain.
In his appeal, Robinson argued there was not enough evidence to support his conviction, that his lawyer was ineffective and that his sentence was excessive, among other things.
The state Supreme Court rejected those arguments in an opinion released Friday.
Friday, Jul. 31, 2009
Lee County man arrested for child abuse
BY LILY GORDON
A Smiths, Ala. man was arrested this morning and charged with aggravated child abuse according to a Lee County Sheriff's Office release.
The Lee County Department of Human Resources reported to the Lee County Sheriff's Office in June 29 an incident of possible child abuse which allegedly occurred at an address on Lee Road 2008 in Smiths.
According to the report, a three week old baby girl had been taken to Doctors Hospital in Columbus by her parents who were concerned that the child was not eating. Tests determined the baby was suffering from intracranial hemorrhage. She was transferred to Columbus Regional for further treatment.
This morning at 9 a.m., CST, the child's father, Joseph A. Depalma, 22, was arrested by the Lee County Sheriff's Office. He was charged with aggravated child abuse, a class B felony, and is currently being held in the Lee County Detention Facility on a $30,000 bond.
The child has been released from the hospital and is currently in the care of the mother.
Published: July 31, 2009 11:14 am
UPDATED: FATHER GUILTY IN MURDER OF INFANT
By Stephenie Livingston, Reporter
Jeffrey Daniel Ray has been found guilty of murdering his infant daughter, 54-day-old Bailea Leeann Ray. A 12-member Lafayette County jury convicted Ray Thursday.
"She was something else. She was an angel," Ray said as he took the witness stand Thursday morning.
Prosecutor Craig Jacobsen later called Bailea "a silent angel whose wrecked body speaks louder than any other evidence."
Jacobsen said Ray shook Bailea to death in March 2006, causing massive brain and eye damage.
When Ray was asked by Jacobsen who caused Bailea's injuries, he shook his head as his faced flushed red.
"I could have hurt her [pause] I [pause] I didn't mean too,’ he said. ’I know I screwed up. I should have paid attention better in CPR class."
"You heard Dr. Rao say this was an inflicted injury?" Jacobsen asked, pointing to an autopsy photo of Bailea's brain.
"Yes," said Ray."If you didn't cause that injury, that violence to that kid, who did?" said Jacobsen.
"I don't know," said Ray.
Father and son arrested in double murder in far east Dallas
3:35 PM Thu, Jul 30, 2009
A father and son were arrested this morning in last night's double murder at 2700 Andrea Lane.
John David Alardin, 38, (on the left) and John David Reza Jr., 19, face charges of capital murder.
They are being held in the Dallas County Jail.
Dallas police say they fatally shot Mario Garcia, 23, and Rafael Pacheco, 21.
Police say the victims had been in an ongoing feud with the family of Alardin and Reza.
Before the shooting, the victims had thrown a rock through the window of a car parked at the father and son's house on Andrea Lane, said Dallas police homicide Sgt. Ray Beaudreault.
They left but returned to the home later, about 10 p.m. Wednesday.
"As they drove up and got out of their cars, they started walking towards the residence," Beaudreault said.
Police reports say Reza armed himself with an assault rifle, Alardin with a shotgun. They started firing, police say.
Beaudreault said the victims were not armed. Another man was with them, but ran away unharmed. Investigators are not sure what the feud was about, but it was not gang-related, the sergeant said.
"It's been ongoing for a long period of time," Beaudrault said. "We're still trying to figure out exactly why it started and when it started."
Provo father pleads guilty to killing infant daughter
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 07/30/2009 06:19:36 PM MDT
A Provo man on Thursday admitted to beating and killing his 4-month-old daughter.
Victor Gardea pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder. He faces 15 years to life in prison when sentenced Sept. 10 in 4th District Court in Provo.
Jasmine Gardea died Sept. 9, 2008, of injuries she suffered a day earlier. Deputy Utah County Attorney Ryan Peters said the prosecution told the court on Thursday that Gardea became frustrated with the girl and struck her once in the head and once in her torso.
Man makes daughter pregnant
Wednesday, 8th July, 2009
By Charles Ariko
TWO teenage girls aged 12 and 15 have been rescued from their father who repeatedly defiled them.
The elder girl became pregnant as a result.
The girls have been living with their father identified as Mutumba Mugagga in Busaale village Nakisunga sub-county in Mukono district.
They were rescued last week by a local Non-Governmental Organisation, the African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) after a tip-off.
Information officer Haruna Mawa said Mugagga was being held at Nazigo Police Post in Mukono district.
“One of the children testified to the Police that she was defiled four times by her father,” Mawa said.
Addressing a press conference at ANPPCAN offices in Kampala yesterday, Mawa said when Mugagga learnt that one of his daughters had become pregnant, he forced her to abort.
Mawa explained that Mugagga connived with a local council official to hush up the matter.
The LC official, Mawa added, had also been arrested to assist the Police with investigations.
“We condemn these ill-practices and call upon the Government to expedite the process of prosecuting defilers, including parents who have down-graded their role by defiling their own children,” Mawa stated.
He said defilement was common in Mukono.
Mawa decried the slow pace in which the justice system handles the cases.
“Last year, 4,124 cases of defilement were taken to the courts, but only 333 convictions were made.
This represents only 3.8% of the cases,” Mawa said.
He proposed that that the Police be equipped with more skills and resources to enable them execute their duties.
He pointed out that there were less than 20 Police surgeons in the country to examine defilement victims.
“This has made the examination of defilement victims difficult. This state of affairs has made the reporting of cases complex,” Mawa noted.
Police Probe Attack On Child
Fri, 31 Jul 2009 11:44:46 EDT
Renfrew OPP are investigating an assault against a child. Police say they were called to a campground in Greater Madawaska and upon further investigation, found that a child had been punched in the face, as well as struck by a belt. A 47 year old man from Saint Genevieve Quebec, the boy's father, has been charged with assault, and assault with a weapon. He was held over for a bail hearing and then released on recognizance.
Court awards crime compensation to kids; their father murdered their mother in 2006 (Melbourne, Australia)
Compo for kids who heard mum's death cries
July 31, 2009 05:57 pm
A TEENAGE who heard her mother's final screams as she was brutally stabbed to death by her father has been awarded $210,000 crime compensation.
Robert Baxter, 51, repeatedly stabbed his wife Linda in the face, neck and chest with a kitchen knife at their Lara home, southwest of Melbourne, in August 2006.
The couple's then 12-year-old daughter was awoken by screams.
She heard her mother's dying words and her father calling her mother a "bitch'' and "slut'', the Victorian Supreme Court heard.
Her then eight-year-old brother was also in the house at the time of the murder.
Baxter was jailed for 20 years with a non-parole period of 16 years in May.
Today, Justice Jack Forrest awarded $210,000 crimes compensation to each child.
He said while the children did not see their mother's body after the murder they knew something had gone "drastically wrong''.
"The effect of (Baxter's) actions will live with both his children forever,'' Justice Forrest said.
"They will be forced to live with both the fact of the ghastly death of their mother and the
betrayal by their father of the trust that they reposed in him.
"In (the daughter's) case, there is the fact that she heard her mother's dying words, which will remain with her for the remainder of her life.''
He said the children had led a happy and nurtured childhood until the day of the murder.
After the murder the lives of the children, now aged 14 and 11 years, were "destroyed'' and they suffered psychological trauma, Justice Forrest said.
In accordance with law, the money will be kept in a court trust until the children turn 18 years old.
Father charged w/buying dope w/child in car
By Frank Gerace
A Minquadale man faces charges after County Police say he bought heroin while his 7-year-old daughter was riding in his car. Police say Ronald Messick bought 30 bags of heroin Wednesday night near the McDonald's on Route 9. Officers followed Messick after the drug deal and arrested him when he parked his car at the Crossroads Shopping Center. Messick's out on bail, charged with drug counts and unlawfully dealing with a child. Messick's daughter was turned over to her mother.
Story originally posted 07/30/09 16:40.
Father in Payson arrested in belt beatings
Published: Thursday, July 30, 2009 4:38 p.m. MDT
PAYSON — Police arrested a father who they say beat his two children with a belt, including one son who is mentally disabled.
On July 25, police say a 7-year-old boy told police and workers at the Division of Child and Family Services that his father had hit him with a belt buckle, according to an affidavit filed in 4th District Court.
The boy's older brother, a severely disabled 12-year-old, also told police that the father "always hits him and the other (boy) with the belt," according to the affidavit.
The younger boy said his father got upset because he asked for food and because he hadn't cleaned, police said. The child was able to show police the belt, with a raised emblem of an eagle on the buckle, according to the affidavit.
The older boy also told police that he had witnessed those beatings several times, police said.
Officers noted bruises on both boys — the younger boy had one on his chest and the older boy had some nearly healed bruises on his legs.
The father was booked into jail for investigation of abuse of a disabled child, child abuse and domestic violence in the presence of a child. He was being held on $5,000 cash or bond bail and was ordered by a judge to have no contact with the children.
Father Charged In Death of Daughter, 5 Months
Published: Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 11:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 11:46 p.m.
A grand jury indicted a Lakeland father in the death of his 5-month-old daughter.
Timothy King, 31, faces charges of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. The indictment accuses King of 'violently shaking, squeezing and/or striking' his daughter, Kyra.
On July 9, King called 911 for help because his daughter wasn't breathing, an arrest report states.
Kyra was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center and then flown to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. She was later taken off life support after doctors determined she had no brain activity.
A series of tests revealed the girl had multiple injuries, including severe brain hemorrhaging and bruising on her lower back and head.
Research shows that too many male caretakers have no coping skills when it comes to diapers and potty training. That, and crying infants. Both seem to be major triggers for abuse.
Police: Father Confesses To Beating Ambridge Boy, 2, With Belt
Posted: 3:39 pm EDT July 30, 2009
Updated: 7:49 am EDT July 31, 2009
AMBRIDGE, Pa. -- A father is accused of viciously beating his child at an Ambridge apartment complex.
Dennis Miller was arrested and faces charges, including aggravated assault, after police said he inflicted belt marks all over his 2-year-old son’s body on Wednesday.
According to police, every inch of the child’s body was injured.
“This is a horrific case of abuse,” said Chief Mark Romutis of the Ambridge Police Department. “Belt marks with circular patterns everywhere on his head, body, arms and legs.”
Police said Miller initially blamed the child’s mother, who lives in Philadelphia, and then later claimed the child hit his head in the tub.
The father finally confessed, according to police.
“He said that the child urinated in the bedroom on the floor, and he just lost it,” said Romutis.
When Channel 11 News went to the apartment on Thursday, a woman opened the door, saying she was the suspect’s girlfriend. She didn’t want to go on camera but said that Miller did not hurt his child.
Police don’t buy the remarks though. They said they seized a woman’s belt inside the apartment, saying it matched up exactly to the child’s injuries.
The child is at Children’s Hospital. A condition has not been released, but sources told Channel 11 News he’s in bad shape.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
‘Baby-killer’ dad sent for observation
2009/07/30 Nomahlubi Sonjica
A MAN who allegedly sexually assaulted and murdered his eight-month-old daughter has been referred for psychiatric observation at Grahamstown‘s Fort England Hospital.
Fazel Jansen, 36, of Swartkops, Port Elizabeth, is in custody after allegedly physically and sexually assaulting his daughter, Elam July, on November 15 last year.
Jansen allegedly took Elam out of their home to nearby bushes, where he held her by one leg and hit her against the ground several times until she was seriously injured.
It is also alleged that he undressed her and sexually violated her before assaulting her.
His lawyer asked the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday to send him for observation after he displayed signs of being mentally disturbed during her consultation with him.
Jansen is to be sent to Fort England on August 18 for psychiatric observation. He is also to be sent for a brain scan for a suspected tumour.
The case has been postponed until October 13.
Mother sues over baby's murder
Posted: 1:18 PM Jul 30, 2009
Last Updated: 1:18 PM Jul 30, 2009
The mother of a baby murdered by his father is now suing over his death.
Candice Dempsey filed a federal lawsuit Thursday morning against the city of Lawrenceburg and two police officers, Chris Atkins and Nathan Doty.
Dempsey says the officers took 21-month old Cole Frazier from her back in May and gave him to his father, Timothy Frazier. Frazier shot and killed the toddler and then committed suicide at his Nelson County home back in May.
Dempsey claims the officers didn't have authority to remove the baby from her custody. She says they took the baby because they didn't read an emergency protection order properly.
Son witnessed father perform indecent act, court told
by di-ve.com - Court -- 28 July 2009 -- 15:20CEST
A 32-year-old man was arraigned in Court on Tuesday after being accused of performing indecent acts in public which were witnessed by his 5-year-old son.
The alleged incident occurred on Sunday afternoon. The man, who cannot be named by court order, was inside a car in Msida together with his girlfriend, and allegedly performed an indecent act which was witnessed by his son.
Inspector Louise Calleja said that the child told his mother, the man’s estranged wife, that he did not want to see his father any more after what he had seen.
Ms Calleja said that the incident, which was reported by the child’s mother, was also corroborated by the accused’s girlfriend. She added that when interrogated, the man initially denied committing the act but later admitted to it.
Magistrate Giovanni Grixti granted bail against a €5,000 guarantee. The man was also ordered to report home by 2200h and not to make any attempts to contact his wife.
Lawyer Toni Abela appeared for the accused.
Father And Son Arrested On Drug Charges
By Pat Peterson Reporter
Published: Fri, July 24, 2009 - 4:55 pm CST
Last Updated: Fri, July 24, 2009 - 8:33 pm CST
The skull and cross-bone warning labels on these bottles of drain cleaner should have told Terry Merchant and his son Derek they were playing with "fire." Investigators say the men mixed the drain cleaner with other dangerous chemicals inside their Elberta home to make crystal meth.
"These guys were mixing it up in their sink," says Capt. Steve Arthur with the Baldwin Co. Sheriff's Office. "As you can see the different chemicals the Coleman fuel, the drain cleaner, the battery acid, it's very volatile and very dangerous."
Investigators arrested the Merchants on several drug charges. Officers also confiscated 25 marijuana plants they believe the men were growing nearby.
Neighbors living near the Merchants say they're fed up with the problems down the road.
"It's one thing if they were selling a little bit of weed," says Ron Dekok. "Okay, I'll look the other way, but not meth. It's dangerous, we all know it's dangerous, it destroys people's lives."
Since 2002, Derek Merchant has been arrested at least 11 times. His father, Terry, was booked in 2002 on DUI charges.
Father Sentenced Who Killed Infant Son
Posted: July 30, 2009 12:19 PM CDT
Updated: July 30, 2009 12:19 PM CDT
By Hailey Higgins, Local News 8 Reporter
IDAHO FALLS - The Idaho Falls father who severely beat his two-month-old child to death last year was sentenced Thursday.
Dylan Meng, 37, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison by Judge Jon Shindurling.
Shindurling says Meng beat the child from head to foot in a mental health episode. Meng admitted to strangling, shaking, dropping and punching his child on July 10, 2008.
Bonneville County Prosecutor Dane Watkins Jr. says Meng "carried the burden of the action since it occurred" and is very remorseful.
Meng will be at least 50 years old before his is eligible for parole. Shindurling says he is "not happy about that," but has to give him the minimum sentence required by law.
Man accused of hurting child during temper tantrum
7/29/2009 8:05:01 AM
By Janice Gregorson
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
A Rochester man who threw a box of books in a burst of anger three months ago faces criminal charges for endangering his child, who was hit by the box and suffered a broken arm.
Jesse Paul Southwick, 31, 212 9 1/2 St. S.E., is charged with one felony count of child endangerment for intentionally or recklessly causing or permitting a child to be in a situation likely to cause him harm or death. A summons has been issued for Southwick to appear in Olmsted District Court on Aug. 13.
The criminal complaint said Southwick was caring for his two children on April 13. Police were called by the mother of the children, who said that Southwick had "trashed the apartment" while taking care of the children. The next day, police were notified that a 2-year-old had been admitted to Saint Marys Hospital with a broken arm. The doctor told officers the child had a double fracture consistent with a traumatic blunt force trauma.
When interviewed, Southwick reportedly said he had gotten upset and threw items. He said his son kept getting in the way and he told the boy to stay away from him and that he might have hit his son with a box of books, the complaint said. He reportedly said he did not see his son when he threw the box and that he stopped throwing things after his son was hit.
Frisco man indicted in toddler's death
2:35 PM Wed, Jul 29, 2009
A Collin County grand jury indicted a Frisco man this week on a charge of capital murder in the death of a 15-month-old Frisco boy.
Mykaleb Johnson died May 24 of blunt force injuries, according to the Dallas County medical examiner's office, which ruled the death a homicide.
Randy Allen Baker, 34, shown at right, told police he had been dating the boy's mother for about four months and was watching her son that day while she was at work, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. He called police to a home in the 8400 block of Preston North, which is in a mobile-home park off Lebanon Road between Parkwood Boulevard and Preston Road on May 23 because the boy was unresponsive. Under questioning, he told police that he shook the boy multiple times. Mykaleb died the next day at Children's Medical Center Dallas.
Baker has a criminal history and spent time in prison in 1997 on an aggravated assault charge.
He is being held at the Collin County jail on $500,000 bail.
From the archives of the New York Times, February 28, 1922.
POLICE IN LINE-UP IN BABY'S MURDER
Young Father Unable to Identify Officer Who Failed to Arrest Him.
INVESTIGATION IS BEGUN
Parent Who Admitted Drowning Infant is Held Without Bail on Homicide Charge.
Because a policeman at Willis Avenue and 143rd Street on Sunday afternoon failed to arrest Walter Liddle, the 19-year-old boy who drowned his 8-month-old son, an investigation was begun yesterday by the Bronx police. Up to a late hour last night neither Liddle nor his two brothers-in-law, who accompanied him, had identified the policeman to whom Liddle had first reported the killing of his baby.
Liddle was arraigned in West Farms Court yesterday on a charge of homicide. By request of Assistant District Attorney Frank Oliver, Magistrate Simpson remanded the prisoner to jail without bail for further examination Thursday. In court Liddle adhered to the story that he killed the baby because he wanted to die.
At 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon Captain Matthew Robinson of the Alexander Avenue Station lined up the squads about to go on duty and asked Edward and Terry Corrigan, Liddle's brothers-in-law, to pick out the policeman to whom Liddle had reported that he had drowned his baby. The brothers inspected the line as the policeman stood at attention, but they were unable to find the policeman in question.
Captain Robinson then ordered that the incoming squads go through the same procedure, but again the brothers failed to identify the officer. Captain Robinson asked the Corrigans to return to the station house this morning at 8 o'clock to inspect the four squads which did not take part in yesterday's line-up.
Police officials said that the policeman to whom Liddle said: "I have drowned my baby," and who referred Liddle to the Tremont station house because his home was in that precinct, should have taken Liddle into custody, so that his story could be investigated.
On the other hand, it was said that the policeman might have been off duty, and inclined to take the young man's story as a joke. Neither of the Corrigans could recall whether the patrolman carried a nightstick, nor could they remember any part of his shield number. They said that Liddle approached the policeman at the northeast corner of Willis Avenue and 143rd Street at 5:30 o'clock in the evening.
An autopsy performed at the Fordham Morgue on the body of little William Liddle revealed no marks of violence or poison. It was a simple case of forcible drowning, physicians said.
Man takes baby, fires shots, gives up baby
By Steve Bennish, Staff Writer
10:17 PM Wednesday, July 29, 2009
DAYTON — An angry father fired two shots from a .45-caliber handgun into a house in the 3700 block on Cornell Woods Drive and grabbed his 6-month-old son before fleeing on foot into the night, police said.
As of 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, the baby was safe with police and the father was still at large, Lt John Bardun said.
The incident began about 8:22 p.m. as a fight between the baby’s mother and the father, who police declined to identify, Bardun said.
At some point, the father pulled out a handgun, discharged it twice, and ran off with the baby.
He later turned over the baby — unhurt — to a cousin, who then delivered the baby to police parked at the father’s house on Prescott Avenue.
Police were searching the city for the father, Bardun said.
Web Posted: 07/29/2009 4:29 CDT
Father sent to prison for biting infant
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News
A young father was sentenced to five years in prison this week for an incident two years ago in which he admitted to biting his infant daughter repeatedly on the back.
Anthony Miranda, 20, told police in May 2007 that he bit the 5-week-old after a fight with her mother. Investigators took pictures of the bloody indentations on the infant's back.
Doctors also determined that the child had multiple broken bones, a fractured skull and bleeding of the brain — the result, perhaps, of being shaken or slammed, according to court documents. Miranda declined responsibility for the other injuries.
“I am not a bad person and I don't have a bad temper,” Miranda wrote in a statement to police. In another part of the statement, which was subsequently crossed out, Miranda wrote: “The only thing I did to the baby was I bit her, but not hard enough to make the marks on (her) back.”
Injury to a child is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison
Drunk dad threatens to kill mom, burn down house with their baby daughter inside (Bath, England, United Kingdom)
Prison for man who threatened to kill ex-partner and baby
Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 11:27
A drunken Bath dad who threatened to kill his former partner and burn down her house with his baby daughter inside was this week jailed for 18 months.
Alcoholic Jason Evans arranged to visit the woman and their eight-and-a-half month daughter after promising he was sober.
However, the 20-year-old of Redland Park, Bath, then drank and turned violent when he was stopped from visiting. Evans phoned the woman and told her he would break down her door and burn her alive – and said he did not care that his baby daughter was at home.
His victim phoned the police, who waited for Evans to arrive after listening in on another phone conversation during which she was told she would be killed.
Evans was arrested and admitted one charge of making threats to kill and another of threatening to damage or destroy property.
Paul Ricketts, prosecuting at Bristol Crown Court, said Evans had made the threats on the evening of July 11 last year. He said the defendant had sent his ex-partner a text message asking if he could visit the baby.
The court heard that she replied to say such a visit would be fine if he was sober.
However, Mr Ricketts said that when the woman received another phone call from Evans to say he would be round later, she thought he was drunk and told him the visit was off.
He said the defendant told her he would call anyway and kick her door down.
In a subsequent conversation, he said: "I will kick your door down. I will burn your place down. I will burn you alive."
Officers stayed at the scene to wait for Evans and arrested him as he approached the address in Bath.
When he was interviewed he said he could not remember what happened because he was drunk but would not have hurt the woman.
Jason Taylor, defending Evans, who has a previous conviction for assaulting the woman by biting her cheek and breast, said it was concerning that he was an alcoholic at the age of 20 and more comfortable in prison than out.
He said Miss Swannack wanted her partner to get help and described the defendant as "amiable" when he was not drunk.
Dad gets prison in San Rafael baby killing
Posted: 07/29/2009 09:41:57 PM PDT
A 35-year-old man was sentenced to nearly 21 years in state prison Wednesday for squeezing his baby to death in San Rafael nearly a decade ago.
Jereme Scott Gromer pleaded guilty to three child abuse counts and admitted causing the death and great bodily injury of his 7-week-old son, Devon.
Devon suffered numerous fractured ribs, a fractured collarbone and chest bruising at the hands of his 240-pound father, authorities said. The baby was squeezed on at least three occasions - refracturing ribs that had already started to heal - and hospitalized several times before he died at the Gromer home on Yosemite Road.
The boy's doctors were initially baffled by his condition, thinking he might be suffering a digestive ailment. It did not even occur to them at first that the boy's own father might have crushed him, said Deputy District Attorney Geoff Iida.
"The defendant transformed himself from Devon's primary protector and defender to Devon's killer," Iida said.
When Devon Gromer died in April 2000, the coroner's office could not initially determine the cause of death, and prosecutors did not immediately file charges. But the suspicions of homicide were stoked two years later, when Gromer, who had relocated to Suisun City with his wife, was charged with severely abusing a second infant son, Jorden, who was born in 2002. Jorden suffered a perforated stomach and other injuries similar to Devon's.
In 2006, a jury convicted Gromer of child abuse charges in the Solano County case and sentenced him to 12 years in prison. Marin prosecutors, fortified by the conviction in Solano, then brought Gromer back to answer for Devon's death.
Last month, Gromer accepted a plea bargain that capped his total prison sentence to a potential maximum of 20 years and eight months - 17 years and eight months for Devon's death, and three years for the abuse of Jorden. The plea arrangement spared Gromer a potential life sentence.
Judge Terrence Boren, in sentencing Gromer on Wednesday, approved the plea deal and gave him the full 20 years and eight months.
"It's difficult to understand how the defendant would get to this point and not realize the harm he was doing to his small child," Boren said. "This is one of the most serious and horrendous offenses I've seen in some time."
Gromer's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Brian Morris, said that despite the "extremely sad" nature of the case, Gromer has enjoyed the steadfast support of his family members, many of whom were in court Wednesday.
"His family still believes he didn't have anything to do with either case," Morris said. "His family still loves him unconditionally."
Gromer, a Novato native, did not speak during the hearing but winked at his mother in the gallery.
Also in the audience, representing the victim, were Coroner Kenneth Holmes and coroner's investigators Pam Carter and Jeff Sherman.
Under sentencing guidelines, Gromer will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence - or about 17 1/2 years - minus about 7 1/2 years of credit for time he has already served.
Gromer and the mother of Devon and Jorden are no longer married, and Jorden has been adopted. Gromer also has a 12-year-old daughter.
Gromer's younger sister, Dianna Gromer of Sonoma County, described him as a "very loving father" who was innocent of the crime. She said he admitted guilt because he was required to in order to accept the plea deal.
"It was heart-wrenching to watch Jereme be accused of things he did not do," she said.
Dad fights for custody, murders mom, then continues to stall adoption from prison (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Grandparents gain custody of murdered mom's son
By Rosemarie Bernardo
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2009
A Hawaii judge has ended a lengthy custody battle over 5-year-old Elijah LaDuke, whose mother was murdered by his father.
A Family Court judge approved Steve and Donna LaDuke's request to adopt their grandchild, Elijah.
The decision on Tuesday came almost four years after Elijah's mother, Spc. Felicia LaDuke, 22, was murdered by his father, Spc. Jeffery White, on Oct. 7, 2005, at Kaena Point. Elijah was 19 months old.
LaDuke and White were involved in a custody and child-support battle when the murder occurred. White was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Tears of joy and relief flowed from the LaDukes in Warroad, Minn., when the judge finalized the adoption via conference call with the LaDukes.
"It was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders," said Felicia LaDuke's stepmother, Donna.
Custody over Elijah stalled after White twice contested the termination of his parental rights.
"It's been a very long, uphill battle," said Donna. Felicia's father, Steve LaDuke, said, "(The adoption) should've been done years ago."
In a written statement, Lillian Koller, director of the state Department of Human Services, said the department is pleased the Family Court approved the adoption.
"Elijah's adoption necessarily involved a complicated and lengthy process because so many mainland relatives as well as one non-relative were vying for this child," said Koller. "DHS was obligated to carefully consider everyone who wanted to adopt Elijah. We are glad the issues have finally been resolved."
Elijah has been living with the LaDukes in Warroad, Minn., ever since the couple was granted temporary foster custody days after White's sentencing in December 2006. Before that, he was in state custody following his mother's death.
Elijah will start kindergarten in the fall. Family members say he has his mother's eyes and smile.
"It looks like Felicia is smiling at us," said Donna.
While the LaDukes are elated with the adoption, the pain of Felicia's tragic death lingers.
Steve LaDuke said he is reminded of his daughter by a song called "Sissy's Song," by country singer Alan Jackson, about a young woman who died too soon and how loved ones left behind undergo a whirlwind of emotions as they struggle to make sense of it all.
He said Elijah sings along with the consoling lyrics in the chorus.
"Every time he sings it, we all start tearing," he said.
Father gets 35 years in death of 15-week-old son
July 29, 2009 5:02 PM
A 37-year-old Maywood man was sentenced to 35 years in prison today for killing his 15-week-old infant son in a fit of rage because his wife had gone out for the evening.
Charles Dilworth woke up in the early morning hours of April 29, 2006 because his infant son, Christopher, was crying. He looked around their apartment in the 800 block of 16th Avenue but couldn't find his wife, Crystal Campbell.
He then returned to the bedroom and starting throwing things around the room. During his trial in June he said the baby could have been injured because he accidentally stepped on the child as he got out of bed. But Assistant State's Attorney Attila Bogdan noted that Dilworth told police he had gotten angry and flew into a 20-minute rage during which time he battered his baby.
Dilworth took the stand during the sentencing hearing before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Tucker and said he and his wife had a good life together.
"All I wanted was a child. My life was perfect..." he said before breaking down and sobbing into his hands for several minutes. "Now I don't know which way to turn. I wish I could make this all go away but I can't."
Defense attorney Chris Goodman pleaded with Tucker to give Dilworth the minimum 20-year sentence citing his client's long history of mental health problems and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in 2001. He also noted that Dilworth has no criminal record and prior to the tragedy had never been in trouble with the law.
But Bogdan said Dilworth deserves a 75-year sentence, not leniency, for taking out his frustrations so savagely on his own 15-week-old child.
"In a sense, Christopher had no chance," Bogdan said. "A child murderer deserves no compassion, no understanding, no pity."
Inmates convicted of first-degree murder in Illinois are required to serve 100 percent of their sentence with no credit for good behavior in prison.
-- Victoria Pierce
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Crown Point: Trials begin Nov. 16 in child abuse deaths
The jury trials of two men charged with killing babies are both scheduled to begin Nov. 16 in different Lake County courtrooms.
Jesse James Gilman Jr., 22, of DeMotte, who is charged with murder, battery and neglect of a dependent in the death of 18-month-old Anthony Mogan in Lowell, had been scheduled for jury trial before Lake Superior Court Judge Salvador Vasquez starting Monday.
Defense attorneys Sonya Scott-Dix and Derla Gross asked Tuesday that the trial be postponed because of discovery issues and asked that their client be released from the Lake County Jail, where he is being held without bond.
Vasquez granted the first request and denied the second. Mogan died Oct. 5 of blunt force trauma to his abdomen, court records state.
Meanwhile, Jose Antonio Mendoza, 29, of Hammond, charged with murder and neglect of a dependent in the Oct. 4 death of 17-month-old Savannah Fullgraf, is scheduled for jury trial before Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell.
The toddler "showed signs that she had received an extreme amount of physical abuse," court records state. The girl was taken to St. Margaret Mercy Hospital in Hammond and flown to University of Chicago Hospitals. The Cook County, Ill., medical examiner's office listed the cause of death as multiple injuries due to child abuse.
Man arrested on attempted capital murder charge, accused of dunking 11-month-old baby in Lake Highlands pool
2:33 PM Wed, Jul 29, 2009
A 19-year-old man is in jail, accused of repeatedly dunking his 11-month-old baby in a pool. He faces a charge of attempted capital murder.
Dallas police say Christopher Paul Dean (right) went to his apartment complex's swimming pool with his family on a hot day, July 12. When they got there, he asked if he could hold his 11-month-old namesake.
The child's mother told him the baby needed to be in his floatie, which had a sun shade. She began playing with the baby at one end of the pool, while Dean played with other family members at the other end, police say.
As Dean asked to hold the child a second time, he kept getting angrier, police say.
"I'm his daddy!" he said, according to police.
"Whatever," the mother replied.
"I'm not his daddy?!...I'm not his daddy?!" Dean started yelling, according to police.
Police say he grabbed both sides of the child's floatie and forced him under water. The mother tried to intervene, but he pushed her away and continued dunking the child, police say.
The mother told police she struggled to get the child's head above water briefly as he gasped for air and his lips turned blue. The child was dunked about six times, police say, until another family member jumped in and pulled Dean away.
The baby was taken from the pool at 13100 Pandora Drive to Children's Medical Center Dallas, where he was found to have suffered no injuries.
Police obtained a warrant for Dean's arrest Monday. He's being held in jail on $50,000.
"Control Freak" stepdad found guilty of stabbing 15-year-old boy to death (Llanelli, South Wales, United Kingdom)
Knife frenzy dad killed his stepson
A control freak who stabbed his stepson to death was yesterday found guilty of murdering the boy.
Carl Bowen knifed promising 15-year-old jockey Jamie Yeates 18 times in an unprovoked attack.
Bowen, 42, flipped after he heard the youngster secretly visited his paternal grandad, despite being banned from seeing him.
A neighbour heard Jamie beg, "No, dad", as Bowen screamed: "I am going to f****** kill him."
The attack in Llanelli, South Wales, woke the boy's mum Maria and teenage sister Kimberley.
Bowen allegedly tried to stab his wife and missed but knifed Kimberley. He denies attempting to murder the pair. A jury at Swansea crown court is still deliberating that verdict.
Police: Father used daughter as human shield
Posted on 07/28/2009
By CHASE WRIGHT
Times Staff Writer
STAMFORD -- Police said they arrested a man who allegedly used his 5-year-old daughter to shield himself from officers after they responded to a drunken disturbance he caused.
The incident occurred Sunday at about 8:30 p.m., said Lt. Sean Cooney, Stamford police spokesman.
Officers responded to an apartment building at 50 Alvord Ln. to find Frank Trofoit, 44, of Unit 9 in the complex, hanging by the pool and heavily intoxicated, said Cooney.
Witnesses told police that Trofoit forced his daughter to do pushups for the amusement of the residents.
According to the report, Trofoit was proud of his daughter, who he said could do 40 pushups at the age of 5.
The disturbance escalated, however, when he approached a female neighbor laying by the pool in a bikini, said Cooney.
Trofoit allegedly threatened to photograph the woman with his cell phone and post a video of her in a bathing suit on the Internet file sharing network YouTube, he said.
When officers approached Trofoit he grabbed his daughter and proceeded to use her as a human shield, swinging her in the direction of officers as they tried to detain him.
Officers were able to pull the girl away safely before being forced to Taze Trofoit, who would not comply with their requests, said Cooney.
Trofoit was charged risk of injury to a minor, breach of peace and interfering with police.
He was held on $50,000 bond and appeared in court for arraignment Monday.
"The girl was OK," said Cooney. "But quite upset by the incident."
Judge in Clarksville convicts man in beating death of girlfriend's toddler
By Associated Press
9:49 AM CDT, July 29, 2009
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Clarksville judge has convicted a man in the beating death of his girlfriend's toddler.
The state's case against 36-year-old Timothy L. Diggs Sr. was heard by Montgomery County Criminal Court Judge Mike R. Jones without a jury.
The Leaf-Chronicle reported Diggs was found guilty on Tuesday of felony murder and aggravated child abuse in the March 2007 death of 22-month-old Christopher Andre Nicholson.
Diggs received an automatic life sentence on the murder charge, making him first eligible for parole when he is 87 years old. He will be sentenced Sept. 9 on the abuse conviction.
The child was the son of Angelina "Nina" Richards, who was the only witness called by the defense.
Dad accused of killing stepdaughter due in court
01:24 PM PDT on Tuesday, July 28, 2009
A man accused in the beating death of his year-old stepdaughter is scheduled to appear in court today for hearing that will determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial for murder.
Anthony Pacheco, 23, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and assault on a child resulting in great bodily injury.
The toddler was pronounced dead last Oct. 25 at Loma Linda University Medical Center after being hospitalized for four days, according to police.
Officers were called to an Indio home in the 83400 block of Capricorn Avenue late on the night of Oct. 21 to check on a report of alleged child abuse, police said. The injured infant was then transported to a Palm Springs hospital and later was airlifted to the Loma Linda hospital.
Pacheco, who was arrested the day before the child's death, is being held at the Indio Jail in lieu of $2 million.
Today's preliminary hearing is intended to enable a judge to determine if there are grounds for the accused to stand trial.
ST. CLAIR SHORES: 3-year-old's death called homicide
A 3-year-old boy died April 23 of blunt head injuries in what Medical Examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz said was a homicide, but it was not revealed in testimony Tuesday what caused the injuries to Kyle Rogers of Roseville.
A preliminary examination for Victor Weber, 30, of St. Clair Shores, who is charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse, is to continue Aug. 4 so his attorney can review a police interview with Weber's wife, Sarah Weber, who testified Tuesday.
Sarah Weber, who was the boy's babysitter, called 911 from the couple's home in the 29000 block of Beste to report Kyle had passed out and had fallen. Kyle was taken to St. John Hospital in Detroit, where he died a day later.
Wednesday July 29, 2009
Man accused of beating daughter with belt
State Police are looking for a South Charleston man accused of beating his 9-year-old daughter with a belt.
Trooper D.E. Gregory was dispatched June 30 to a St. Albans home to investigate a possible child abuse complaint. Brian Gandee told Gregory that his step-granddaughter had been brought to his house on June 28 after a dispute at the girl's Smith Creek home, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court.
Gandee said his daughter - the girl's stepmother - brought her to the house. The girl's father, Edward Skaggs, 31, of Smith Creek got upset with her after catching her taking food, the complaint said.
Gandee gave the trooper photographs taken of the girl on the day she arrived at his house.
The photos showed severe bruises on the girl's buttocks and what appeared to be belt marks on her legs, the complaint said.
The girl told Gregory that she was "whipped with a belt by her dad, Eddie Skaggs, like a horse, striking her several times in the buttocks and legs," according to the complaint.
A warrant issued Monday for Skaggs' arrest charges him with felony child abuse leading to bodily injury.
Ojai man must stand trial on child-abuse charges
By Raul Hernandez (Contact) Wednesday, July 29, 2009
A judge on Tuesday called a 3-year-old boy’s statements to police “admissible and persuasive” evidence against his father, who is charged with child abuse.
In a preliminary hearing in the case against the boy’s father, Ernesto Flores, 23, of Ojai, Ventura County Superior Court Judge James Cloninger also ruled that there was sufficient evidence to hold Flores to answer to child abuse charges involving the boy and his baby sister.
The baby girl is Flores’ biological daughter, according to attorneys. Flores is charged with felony corporal injury to a child and misdemeanor cruelty to a child by inflicting injury, according to court documents.
Flores’ lawyer, Monique S. Hill, told the judge that there wasn’t any evidence of abuse of the children by Flores.
In an interview after the hearing, Hill said her client will go to trial to prove his innocence.
“There are some elements missing” in the prosecutors’ case, Hill said. She declined to elaborate.
In court, Sheriff’s Detective Albert Mesa testified that in January he talked to the boy, who had bruises around his eyes and on his nose, and very small bruises on his ears. When asked about other bruises, the boy pulled up his shirt and showed the detective more bruises on his chest area, according to Mesa.
“He stated that his papa had hit him. He was told that he was acting real bad,” said Mesa, adding that the boy repeated a similar comment when asked about the chest bruises. “He stated, once again, that his papa told him he was acting bad.”
Flores’ wife told Mesa that her husband played too rough with the children, the detective testified.
Mesa also testified that she said the boy injured himself playing with a truck and hitting his face.
Authorities allege the baby girl had bite marks on her body. Flores’ wife told Mesa that her husband had kissed the baby too hard, the detective testified.
Also testifying was Sheriff’s Deputy James Popp, who told the court that in January he interviewed the victims’ uncle, who told him that he was visiting his sister and Flores in Ojai on Dec. 23 and saw Flores kick the boy in the buttocks.
The uncle said he immediately confronted Flores but didn’t get an answer from Flores about why he kicked the boy, according to Popp.
“He could not see any reason why the child was kicked,” Popp testified.
The uncle reported the abuse to authorities after seeing the boy with a number of bruises in January and after noticing, every few weeks, that the boy had new bruising and marks on the ears and side of the head, Popp testified.
During her cross-examination, Hill zeroed in on how the investigation was conducted, questioning Mesa on whether he asked the boy who “papa” was and whether the boy knew the difference between a lie and telling the truth.
Mesa said he didn’t do either, but was certain the boy told the truth, adding that qualifying the boy as a truthful witness isn’t something detectives do in such a case.
“If you ask me for my opinion, I would say, ‘Yes,’ the boy is telling the truth,” said Mesa.
Mesa said that later in his investigation he became aware that the maternal grandparents were unhappy about their visitation rights with the children.
Under cross-examination, Popp said the kick by Flores is the only injury described to him by relatives.
A jazz pianist pleads guilty to child-porn charges – and tries to explain
By Peter Rugg
published: July 30, 2009
It was an early spring evening when agents came to Bill Laursen's front door. His daughter had lived with him for about one year, and the two had just returned from Brookside to their home north of the river.
A jazz pianist who most recently had been playing with the Scamps, Laursen taught music part time at his daughter's school, the Kansas City Academy. After classes let out for the day, he gave piano lessons while his daughter waited for him at the Roasterie coffee shop.
Jess (her name has been changed in this story to protect her privacy) had been living with her mother in a small Missouri town but missed being near a bigger city. So she moved in with Laursen, then in his mid-50s. Before she moved in, they rarely spoke — at first, he didn't even know what foods she liked. But the relationship was improving.
"We were finally able to be really close, like much closer than some parents and kids," says Jess, a 15-year-old with honey-colored hair who wears a necklace with a miniature harmonica and has a blue-ball tongue piercing that flashes when she speaks. Jess also played the piano — and sang. "Most kids lie to their parents because their parents don't trust them, but with him I could talk."
They were making dinner when Jess saw two men on their porch, dressed in polo shirts and tennis shoes, as though they were planning a round of golf. Laursen met them at the door.
The men showed him badges and said they were agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Laursen says the lead agent told him, "We want to talk to you about immigration."
Laursen didn't believe him. After all, he thought, anyone could get a badge.
Laursen says he argued with the agents at the door for a while, refusing to let them in. Then he shifted his weight and let the door swing open a bit, and the lead agent grabbed the handle and pushed his way in.
"You might want to have your daughter in a different part of the house," the lead agent told him when he saw Jess in the living room.
Laursen looked at her. Jess could tell from his expression that she shouldn't argue. She went to her room and started writing in a notebook that she kept for song lyrics.
In the computer room, the lead agent was asking her father if he ever looked at pornography. If he ever looked at child pornography. The agents wanted to take his computer back to their lab.
Laursen knew he had child porn on his computer. Most of the images were girls about Jess' age in various states of undress.
On September 30, 2008, when the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Laursen's indictment on five counts of receiving child pornography over the Internet and one count of possessing child pornography, it was all over the TV news.
In addition to his job at the Kansas City Academy, Laursen also taught music at Community School #1 Elementary, a private school in Prairie Village. And there was his seat with the Scamps, the city's longest-running jazz band.
"It shocked the jazz community because he was so well-thought-of," says one close observer of the scene. "He wasn't one of the top players — there are a lot of good piano players in town — but he was a really nice person. People were just shocked."
Even if he wasn't one of the top players, he had to be good to get into the Scamps.
Laursen was trained as a classical pianist. But in 1981, when he was 27 and living in Warrensburg, he read a magazine article that said musicians in Kansas City were the real thing. He headed to town with dreams of making it big.
His first public tryout was during a jam session at the Mutual Musicians Foundation.
"I went up onstage and I was thinking, 'This is how people find their way. This is how they make it.' And I just fell flat," he tells The Pitch.
Oscar "Lucky" Wesley was in the crowd watching. If Laursen wanted to move up in the Kansas City jazz scene, there wasn't a better example to follow than Wesley, the Scamps' bandleader, singer and upright-bass player.
"I got offstage, and Wesley, this guy who looks like Don King, comes over to me and he told me why I bombed," Laursen remembers. "He just sort of explained rough music theory. You know, learning to pattern what chords and where and how to play jazz. Everyone respected him there. He was the guy who helped the Scamps spring forward with their arranging style, which is what they were known for."
Laursen remembered the lesson and started learning old jazz and blues standards and studying theory. He played everywhere he could: at churches and schools, in bands, as a solo act. He carved out a niche for himself as a good piano player — talented, friendly and, most important, reliable.
The Scamps, meanwhile, continued their run as the oldest jazz band in the city.
Begun in the 1930s as a vocal act, the band broke up briefly during World War II and regrouped immediately after its members returned to the States. So many musicians played in the band over the years that, when asked to recount them, the current sax player, Dwight Foster, just sighs. "Good grief," says the 66-year-old jazzman. "I don't know if anyone could name all of them."
In May 2002, the City Council passed a resolution praising the band. It declared that "The Scamps are not really scamps at all, but Kansas City's 'gentlemen of jazz,'" and it honored all members past and present but specifically Wesley, Arthur Jackson, Orestie "Rusty" Tucker, Jimmy "Coots" Dye, Earl Robinson, Allen Monroe, Wallace Jones and Rudy Massingale. The block of Eighth Street between Central and Broadway now bears the honorary street name of Scamps Alley.
When Laursen finally joined the group full time two years ago, the core of the band was Wesley, drummer Jones and Foster.
It had taken Laursen a decade to earn that seat, mostly by sitting in on Saturday nights after the band's regular piano player got a night job at Stroud's.
He also had a regular engagement accompanying singer Teri Wilder every Tuesday night at Café Trio.
"Sometimes we'd play on the Plaza with some other musicians, and he always had charts and books for everyone to look at," says Wilder, 53. "He just took over the role of bandleader. He took it all very seriously."
Fallout from the news of his indictment was quick. He lost his teaching and tutoring jobs, all but a few friends, and everything musically except for his seat with the Scamps.
At press time, Wesley was in the hospital and unable to comment. But Jones, 81, says the child-porn indictment "just don't fit" with Laursen's personality. "He's a very, very nice fellow. If I needed a ride after I'd take my drums down, he'd come get me. You'd look over at him, and he'd be into it, man, and when he's playing that piano, he heats up them keys."
Foster was similarly perplexed by the news.
"I didn't know what was going on with it," he says. "I didn't want to ask him and I didn't ask him. It wasn't none of my business, and he never said anything to me."
Though others say news of Laursen's trouble shocked the community, Foster doubts that the news spread very far. Kansas City might pay homage to its jazz history in murals and tourist brochures, but few of its residents recognize the names playing in the clubs.
"A lot of people don't even know me, and I've been around," Foster says. "Years ago, maybe. Now you got an altogether different set of people. Young people who try to copy off artists and don't even know their instruments. They don't know what it means to sound like yourself. Bill Laursen ... he sounded like Bill Laursen to me."
The last time drummer Jones saw Laursen was when the band played a June gig at the Phoenix. Laursen's mother and brother were there, and he told Jones that he'd be going to prison the next Tuesday.
Laursen pleaded guilty to the charges on June 23 of this year. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Laursen faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole or as many as 110 years without parole, plus a fine of $1.5 million.
He reported to the St. Clair County Jail in Osceola, Missouri, where he'll be held until his sentencing. (At press time, his sentencing had not been scheduled.)
But before he went to prison, Laursen had some things he wanted to say to Kansas City.
In early June, before he gave himself over to the authorities, he sent a six-page, single-spaced letter to his friends, many of whom are in the Kansas City music scene. It was a combination of confession and complaint.
I can only imagine how hard it has been for you to watch me go through what I have and not be really rattled by it, he began. I'm sure that my actions surprised you at the very least and in some cases, made you and your families uncomfortable. I am sorry beyond words. And I'm also sorry that I have not been able to try to help you understand any of it.
So now he tried to help people understand.
I found my way to a really great psychotherapist who has helped me recognize that I have been carrying severe emotional pain for most of my life. This pain that had been left untreated for 40 years has brought me to this difficult place I now find myself.
Two traumatic events had occurred when he was a teenager, Laursen wrote. First, his father was killed in a small-plane accident. Almost two years after his father's death, while driving drunk, he had a car accident that left one of his best friends dead and two others injured.
I tried to move on with my life the way people did during the late 1960s in the small Missouri town where I was raised; that is, by bucking up and not looking back. Meeting with psychiatrists and psychologists branded people as mental in those days and was to be avoided at all costs.
His own home remedy for this illness was looking at porn. He figured it wasn't hurting anyone. That seemed to be the beauty of it. Looking at porn, which later turned into surfing for porn online, seemed a totally private activity, one that didn't involve or infringe on other human beings in any way. I wasn't aware that my desire to do what was described in my world growing up as a "man"-like activity was actually a compulsion driven by emotional pain; or perhaps more accurately stated, as my failure to find a way to properly relieve my emotional pain in a socially acceptable way.
From there, Laursen quickly turns his analysis on the legal system. Early in the proceedings, he writes, a court-appointed therapist told him that it was too bad he wasn't busted by state authorities, because he probably would have received just a year of probation rather than the decade he faced with the federal indictment.
Since I did have images of naked minor girls on my computer, my attorney said that to go to trial would get me an automatic 10 year minimum sentence that he would not be able to mount a strong defense against.
But, he contends, the agents who arrested him engaged in "a series of unlawful actions." In fact, he writes, "they had to strongly deny actions they carried out and things they said in order to keep their case alive."
He spends several paragraphs complaining about the agents' conduct and imagines his readers will agree that law-enforcement officers must follow "the guidelines and procedures that come with their job descriptions."
He'll appeal, Laursen writes, but he has run out of money to pay his lawyer. He explains that he has gone into such detail about the legal process because friends keep asking him if he has exhausted all possible means of defense. He says he has had good representation. Now it's time to face his scary future.
I will be able to get through this.....I will find a way to continue being artfully creative.....this too shall be behind me at some point and I will thrive again.
After a few more efforts to counter some of the damning details in media reports and court records, Laursen returns to the revelations of therapy.
Although there certainly were a lot of naked girls and women both above and below legal age and a little (very little) underage sexual activity depicted on my computer that the authorities hauled away, my psychotherapist and I discovered that I preferred viewing girls around the age of 15 but covered (clothed or in swimming suits). This has proven to be a significant finding in helping me begin a path to true emotional healing. My therapist explains that this shows a propensity on my part of trying to seek out the last time in my life when I existed without the powerful emotional pain that began with my father's sudden death in the airplane accident.
After several paragraphs discussing the nature of rationality and feelings of hopelessness, he again acknowledges that he shouldn't have had the images on his computer, but again claims a measure of innocence. He can't help noticing that some people convicted of violent crimes have received sentences shorter than his. I saw on CNN the other day that some well-known rapper was just sent to prison for 1 year for attempting to purchase unregistered machine guns, silencers and other related gear. He received less than 1/10 of what my sentence will be. Wow!
He leaves readers with three thoughts.
First: Looking at pictures of naked people is not the same as molesting children....
Second: We need to get things like this legal action against me moved over into the realm of where it belongs: not prison sentences but required psychotherapy with perhaps a little probation thrown in that will assure that emotional weaknesses like this are properly dealt with....
Third: If the slow movement of American societal evolution when it comes to this delicate issue persistently remains stalled at focusing on punishing instead of curing, let's better educate the general populace that looking at naked images of minors will, without exception, get you a federal prison term of at least ten years.
His finishes by requesting that friends write letters to the judge in support of his character (but advises them to "not grumble about our legal system"). Twenty letters would be helpful; 100 "should definitely make a difference."
Finally, he issues an invitation to a going-away party at Wilder's house. It is really going to be a lot of fun and I would love to see you and yours.
Have Great Days Always~~Bill
"It's not unusual for defendants to try and have family members or friends or work associates, or even pastors, write letters of support for them to the court," says Don Ledford, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office. But, Ledford says, it's unusual for a defendant to plead guilty without a plea agreement. "I'm assuming he's hoping to receive some credit for accepting responsibility."
At the very least, Laursen will see five years. Each of the five counts of receiving child pornography over the Internet carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years; judges have the discretion to impose those sentences consecutively or concurrently. The count of possession carries a maximum of 10 years but no minimum.
Ledford says the agents who worked on Laursen's case are prohibited from discussing it.
But others who investigate child pornography say it's anything but a victimless crime, especially when the images depict children in sexual situations.
"Every time one of these images is traded, it's a crime-scene photograph of a victim who was raped. Every time that picture is downloaded and looked at, that's re-victimizing that child," says John Shehan, director of the Exploited Children Division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Virginia. His office serves as a clearinghouse for information received through a Web tips line — cybertipline.com — set up in 1998 for people to register reports about online crime against children. Of the more than 706,000 tips he has received since the tips line was established, he says roughly 89 percent have been related to child pornography. Many depict girls in violent, abusive situations, in photos that have been taken against their will. "These aren't Playboy types of images people think of," he says.
"The trend in recent years has been for victims younger and younger, and the abuse more graphic. There's a trend towards the pre-verbal, so the victims can't identify accusers."
Laursen insists that he would never harm an underage girl.
"In the world I deal with, in the waking world where I'm walking around, the more you're involved with pornography online, the more safe and separate from the real world it seems," he says. "I know someone's being exploited at the initial point, though. The stuff I was looking at was not sexual activity. I know there was some on there, but I didn't download that intentionally and I stand by that. Anyone who surfs porn knows what you download isn't always what you think it is. And even if you delete it, once it's on your hard drive, it's there.
"It bothers me, the thought that I'm becoming yet another statistic," Laursen says. "This country is so good at putting people away."
Teri Wilder guesses that about 50 people showed up for Laursen's goodbye celebration at her Brookside home.
"There were a few people saying 'How can you throw him a goodbye party? He's playing on your emotions. This is evil.' But not very many. Most people stood by him."
There was food on the table and music on the stereo. Some of Laursen's students came with their parents. The only thing that might have seemed unusual was the poster-sized photo of Laursen being signed by the attendees. After the party, it would be given to Jess.
Among those who showed up was trumpeter Stan Kessler, 57, who has played trumpet in groups with Laursen since the late 1980s, starting with a funk group called Baby Leroy.
"It was a really joyous celebration," he says. "You'd never guess what it was for. If you didn't know and just walked in, you'd think it was a party."
The guests made small talk and discussed Laursen's situation. Many of those who attended, including Kessler, had written letters to the court speaking of his character and asking for leniency in sentencing.
"You have a guy here who is basically one of the best human beings you're ever going to meet on the planet and who has always dealt with people with kindness and compassion," Kessler says. "Everybody he encounters, he makes them feel good. And it's a shame. It's a shame there's no flexibility in the law for people like him."
Kessler goes on: "The fact of the matter is, it is private, and as long as it's not hurting anybody, my feeling is, I wouldn't do it but I'm not going to condemn a whole person's life because of an odd hobby. To me, it's akin to wearing a fur coat. People think that's OK because they didn't kill the animal ... . Every time I see a Hummer on the road, I get upset, but that's me. I think people that drive them are jerks or stupid or ignorant or all of the above. Why are you driving a fucking military vehicle in the city? You're fucking the Earth driving this gas-guzzling thing."
At the party, Kessler says Laursen played some music and told him, "I hope they let me take my synthesizer with me. If nothing else, as least I'll have time to practice."
Jess never doubted that Laursen was a good father, even though the girls he was looking at were mostly the same age as Jess and her friends.
"He doesn't have that kind of mind," she insists. "He doesn't look at people and go, 'Ooo, look at her.' Even with women his own age, he's respectful. He doesn't like relationships. He's had a few girlfriends, but they always fail because they get too close. He loves kids; he would never hurt anyone, but he had problems. He's dealing with them now."
The night before Laursen went to prison, he and Jess stayed in the house together. The furniture was gone, and the bank had sent a notice of foreclosure, but they had a mattress on the living-room floor.
"That was the best night I had with him," Jess says. "We stayed up till one in the morning. We talked. We took pictures and stuff. We talked about Mom, the past. He's telling me stuff that I should do, like never give up music or fall in step with the rest of the world, just be yourself. But that morning was probably the hardest. He started crying and couldn't stop."
Jess will live with family friends who have agreed to care for her. She'll continue at the same school, thanks to an anonymous donor who has provided the tuition.
On the day that Laursen pleaded guilty, Jess and her mother were there in court. Laursen, in a dark charcoal jacket and brown pants, sat with his attorney. At the prosecution table were two more lawyers.
The judge arrived and checked off the legal questions. Yes, Laursen believed that he had good legal advice; yes, he was in his right mind; yes, he understood exactly what he was doing. His attorney asked him about each picture mentioned in the charges and if it was on his hard drive due to his downloading it. He answered yes to all, appearing almost meek before the judge and apologizing when he didn't hear a question correctly.
In the front row, Jess slumped into her mother's arms. Though she didn't make a sound, her body shuddered.
"You did this knowing it was wrong?" Laursen's attorney asked.
"It was against the law?"
The judge ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and called for officers to transport Laursen to Osceola, where he would be held until sentencing.
The judge was already gone by the time the federal marshal arrived. He told Laursen to get rid of anything extraneous. "Any money, glasses case, anything like that," he said. Laursen took off his tie and belt and passed them to the court officer, who passed them to Jess.
Flanked by the marshal and the court officer, Laursen headed toward the door. He turned to Jess, raised his eyebrows in a sort of "Oh, well" expression, grinned and waved once. Then the door shut behind him.