Saturday, February 14, 2009

NH: Second trial for attempted murder ends in acquittal: "A Milton man was acquitted of nearly all charges yesterday for shooting his ex-wife in 2003, in a stunning reversal of an earlier conviction. Although Fichera received a reboot, he did not to go with insanity this time around. Instead, his lawyer, John Durkin, went after his ex-wife Monica King's credibility by highlighting a long-running "obsession" she had with a Dartmouth College professor and pointing out inconsistencies in her testimony about the day of the incident. "I think the jury got a picture of someone who was certainly injured, but either intentionally fabricated or was incapable of telling the truth about all of the circumstances," Durkin said after yesterday's verdict. King's testimony during the four-day trial may not have helped matters. She told a disjointed, emotionally erratic story of what happened in 2003 that lacked specifics. Also, email excerpts read in court revealed King has repeatedly contacted a Dartmouth professor to tell him how much she loved him despite his rejecting her advances. Durkin contends Fichera accidentally shot King as the two struggled over a shotgun."

Montana progress: "The Montana House is backing a plan to clarify self-defense laws and expand the right to carry concealed weapons. The bill would make it clear that those who use a weapon in self defense are innocent until proven guilty. It lets people carry concealed weapons inside city limits and declares that everyone has the right to self defense without an obligation to first run away. Supporters say the law needs to be changed to reflect the gun-rights beliefs of Montanans. Opponents argued House Bill 228 would make it easier for criminals to get away with intimidation and assault. The Senate has already endorsed its own self-defense legislation, which says people have a right to use self defense in their homes without first trying to run away."

Huge injustice: Raid victim convicted for act of self defense: "In Chesapeake, Virginia, Ryan Frederick was convicted by a jury of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a burglar who was breaking down his door. It could have been worse; Frederick faced capital murder charges in the case, since the burglar was Jarrod Shivers, a police detective who was participating in a misfired marijuana raid on Frederick's home. But it also could have been better. Frederick could have received the same slap on the wrist that police officers usually get for killing innocent people during SWAT raids gone wrong. The case has been mired in controversy since the beginning. The raid was apparently sparked by a report from a freelance burglar who had earlier broken into Frederick's residence during the course of his work as a police informant who served as Fourth Amendment-evading eyes and ears for local law-enforcement. That burglar reported seeing marijuana plants growing in Frederick's home. In fact, while the resident apparently did grow a few illegal plants at one time for his own use, the crop the burglar spotted appears to have been an unrelated and perfectly legal plant -- at least, police found only a small baggie of grass when they raided the place. And raid they did. Ryan Frederick was in bed when he heard his door being knocked down. Fearing a return of the earlier burglars, he retrieved a gun and opened fire on his assailants, killing Shivers. During the trial, Frederick's neighbors testified that police made no audible announcement of their law-enforcement status, giving the man inside no warning of who he faced. For his act of self defense, Frederick was convicted of voluntary manslaughter by a jury, which rejected stiffer charges, but also recommended a maximum sentence of ten years."

Preventive arrest: Four Detroit teenagers are facing criminal charges after fleeing Southfield police officers in a stolen car and crashing into the vehicles of innocent bystanders Feb. 10. A sawed-off shotgun and ski mask were among the items recovered from the stolen car after its occupants were arrested. "We caught them going to an armed robbery - the shotgun was on the front seat," said Southfield Police Chief Joe Thomas. "This is not the first time we've done this, where we've spoiled bad guys' opportunity to commit a crime in Southfield. This is a pattern here, and evidently they don't get it. We've got a special unit on the street that does nothing but look for potential problems. Our arrest rate is extremely high." At 2:30 p.m., two police officers were on patrol in the area of Eight Mile and Northland Drive when they saw a 1998 Ford Taurus with defective equipment making erratic lane changes without signaling. Police checked the plate in the law enforcement network, and it was registered to a vehicle stolen in Garden City on Feb. 6. A traffic stop was initiated, but the vehicle fled the area, police said. Officers pursued the Taurus northbound on Southfield Road as it passed several vehicles by driving on the shoulder. As the vehicle approached 10 Mile it got into an accident, and three black males were seen running from the stolen Taurus. After a short foot pursuit, officers apprehended two teens, ages 17 and 18, who both resisted arrest and refused to comply with the officers' demands; a Taser was deployed. A K-9 unit found a third suspect, 17, hiding behind a tree. A fourth man who had been in the car was ejected during the crash and was initially unresponsive."

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