State seeks long prison term for accused NYC subway gunman

Legal Insight 2023/01/03 12:08   Bookmark and Share
Prosecutors plan to seek a decades-long prison sentence for a man who is expected to plead guilty this week to opening fire in a subway car and wounding 10 riders in an attack that shocked New York City.

Frank James, 63, is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court, admitting that he was responsible for the April 12 attack. It set off a massive 30-hour manhunt that ended when he called the police on himself.

Prosecutors told Judge William F. Kuntz II in a letter late last week that they plan to ask him to go beyond the roughly 32-year to 39-year sentence that federal sentencing guidelines would recommend. James planned the attack for years and endangered the lives of dozens of people, prosecutors said in the letter.

Defense attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday, when courts were closed to observe the New Year’s holiday.

James had been scheduled to stand trial in late February.

His lawyers informed the judge on Dec. 21 that James wanted to plead guilty. Prosecutors say he plans to plead guilty to 11 charges without a plea agreement.

Ten of those charges — each one corresponding to a specific victim — accuse him of committing a terrorist attack against a mass transportation system carrying passengers and employees.
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Man granted new trial in 2006 triple murder freed after plea

Legal Insight 2022/11/21 10:29   Bookmark and Share
An man granted a new trial in the murders of three men in Ohio more than a decade and a half ago has been released after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Stoney Thompson, 43, was originally sentenced in Lucas County to three consecutive life terms in the October 2006 slayings of Todd Archambeau, 44, Kenneth Nicholson, 41, and Michael York, 44, who were found shot and stabbed in a boarded-up house in Toledo.

Thompson, originally convicted of complicity to commit murder, was resentenced on involuntary manslaughter convictions under the plea agreement, The (Toledo) Blade reported. He submitted an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not acknowledge guilt but concedes that prosecutors have sufficient evidence for conviction.

Judge James Bates sentenced Thompson to six years for each involuntary manslaughter count to be served consecutively for a total of 18 years. The judge allowed his release but ordered him to remain on probation for the remaining two years of the sentence.

The Sixth U.S. District Court of Appeals in July had ordered a new trial for Thompson, citing evidence not turned over to the defense by prosecutors that included other potential suspects, recorded testimony of other parties, and a photo of a bloody shoe print that didn’t match Thompson’s own shoes. Thompson’s brother, Goldy, was acquitted in the same case following a separate trial in which the evidence hadn’t been withheld, the newspaper reported.

The appeals court judges also cited a lack of physical evidence tying the defendant to the crimes and noted as “strange” the jury’s decision to acquit Thompson of firearms specifications in each death, given that the victims were all shot and one died of a gunshot wound.
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CAS asked to judge Ecuador case by 10 days before World Cup

Legal Insight 2022/10/03 12:05   Bookmark and Share
Sport’s highest court has been asked to judge a case that aims to remove Ecuador from the World Cup by no later than Nov. 10 — just 10 days before the team should face host Qatar in the opening game.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it registered appeals by the Chilean and Peruvian soccer federations against a FIFA ruling this month that Ecuador defender Byron Castillo was in fact eligible to play in the eight qualifying games he was selected for.

CAS gave no timetable for appointing judges and organizing a hearing, though said both parties appealing asked for a final award by Nov. 10.

Chile officials claim to have documents proving Castillo is actually Colombian and that Ecuador should forfeit all eight games he played in as 3-0 losses.

That legal argument was dismissed by FIFA’s disciplinary committee in June and upheld by FIFA appeal judges two weeks ago.

Ecuador placed fourth in the South American qualifying group in March and claimed a direct World Cup entry. Days later it was drawn into Group A with Qatar – playing the host on Nov. 20 in Doha -- Netherlands and Senegal.

If the qualifying games were forfeited, the revised points totals would lift Chile to fourth from seventh.

Peru placed fifth and has asked CAS to get Ecuador’s entry as the next highest placed South American team. Peru already lost an intercontinental playoff to Australia in June.
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Alabama must disclose status of nitrogen hypoxia executions

Legal Insight 2022/09/14 13:28   Bookmark and Share
A federal judge told Alabama to stop being vague and give a firm answer by Thursday evening on if the prison system is ready to use the untested execution method of nitrogen hypoxia at an execution next week.

U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker, Jr. gave the state the deadline to file an affidavit, or declaration, on whether the state could try to execute inmate Alan Miller by nitrogen hypoxia on Sept. 22 if the use of lethal injection is blocked. The order came after the state dangled the possibility during a Monday court hearing of being ready to become the first state to attempt an execution with nitrogen hypoxia.

Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed execution method in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, thereby depriving him or her of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions. It’s authorized as an execution method in three states — Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi — but has never been used.

The state provided “vague and imprecise statements regarding the readiness and intent to move forward with an execution on September 22, 2022, by nitrogen hypoxia,” Huffaker said.

The judge asked the state Monday whether it was ready to use the method at Miller’s execution. A state attorney replied that it was “very likely” it could use nitrogen hypoxia next week, but said the state prison commissioner has the final decision.

“On or before September 15, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. CDT, the defendants shall file an affidavit or declaration of Commissioner John Q. Hamm, Attorney General Steve Marshall, or other appropriate official with personal knowledge, definitively setting forth whether or not the Defendants can execute the Plaintiff by nitrogen hypoxia on September 22, 2022,” the judge wrote in a Tuesday order.

Miller is seeking to block his scheduled execution by lethal injection, claiming prison staff lost paperwork he returned in 2018 choosing nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method.

Miller testified Monday that he is scared of needles so he signed a form selecting nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method. He said he left the form in his cell door tray for an prison officer to pick up. The state said there is no evidence to corroborate his claim.
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Kenya’s Supreme Court upholds Ruto’s narrow presidential win

Legal Insight 2022/09/06 09:29   Bookmark and Share
Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday unanimously rejected challenges to the official results of the presidential election and upheld Deputy President William Ruto’s narrow win in East Africa’s most stable democracy.

Ruto is expected to be sworn in on Sept. 13. Opposition candidate Raila Odinga had alleged irregularities in the otherwise peaceful Aug. 9 election that was marked by last-minute drama when the electoral commission split and traded accusations of misconduct.

The court found little or no evidence for the various allegations and called some “nothing more than hot air.” It also expressed puzzlement why the four dissenting commissioners participated until the final minutes in a vote-tallying process they criticized as opaque.

The commission “needs far-reaching reforms,” the court acknowledged, “but are we to nullify an election on the basis of a last-minute boardroom rupture?”

The Supreme Court shocked Kenyans in the previous election in 2017 by overturning the results of the presidential election, a first in Africa, and ordered a new vote after Odinga filed a challenge. He then boycotted that new election.

This time, Odinga was backed by former rival and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta in the latest example of shifting political alliances. Odinga’s team had challenged the technology used by the electoral commission and alleged that voting results had been tampered with, and it argued that the electoral commission chair had essentially acted alone in declaring the winner.

The election had been seen as the country’s most transparent, with results from tens of thousands of polling stations posted online within hours of the vote for Kenyans to follow the tally themselves. Such reforms were in part the result of Odinga’s previous election challenge.
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Pa. man who attacked police on Jan. 6 gets 46-month sentence

Legal Insight 2022/08/29 12:01   Bookmark and Share
A Pennsylvania man was sentenced Friday to 46 months in federal prison for attacking a police officer with a Donald Trump flag during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The newspaper reported that Howard Richardson, 72, of King of Prussia, told the court in Washington “there’s no excuse” for his behavior and pleaded for mercy.

But U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly responded, “Your presence and actions in joining other insurrectionists was an inexcusable attack on our democracy.”

Richardson’s sentence is one of the longest yet among those who have been prosecuted for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. In addition to the nearly four-year prison sentence, Richardson was ordered to serve three years under court supervision after his release and to pay $2,000 in restitution.

Richardson never entered the Capitol, the Inquirer reported, but prosecutors said his attack on a Washington, D.C., police officer merited a lengthy prison term.

According to the paper, police body camera footage showed Richardson bludgeoning an officer outside the Capitol with a metal flagpole. NBC News reported that Richardson also joined a mob using a giant Trump billboard as a battering ram.

Approximately 850 people have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct on Jan. 6. Over 350 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and over 230 have been sentenced. Dozens of Capitol riot defendants who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor offenses have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to five months.
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