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Saturday, May 23, 2009

UK- Life term for cellmate sex killer

5-21-2009 United Kingdom:

A man has been jailed for life for the sexually motivated murder of a fellow prison inmate in Nottinghamshire.

Neil Wilkinson, 29, admitted smothering cellmate Stephen Hartley, 28, with a pillow during the attack at HMP Whatton on 25 August 2008.

Wilkinson was told he must serve a minimum of 24 years in prison by the judge at Nottingham Crown Court.

In a statement, Hartley's mother said her son should never have been put in a cell with Wilkinson.

Hartley had only shared a room with his killer for two days after a cell-sharing policy was introduced at the category C prison for adult male sex offenders.

Wilkinson, originally from the Greater Manchester area, was in jail for raping a man at knifepoint, while his victim, a former soldier, was serving a sentence for grooming a 15-year-old girl over the internet.

Earlier in the day, Wilkinson had boasted to other inmates about how he planned to have sex with heterosexual Hartley "no matter what", the court heard.

Hartley's mother, Janet, said she hoped someone would investigate the way prisons were run following her son's death.

She said: "How can my son or anyone else be placed in a cell with Neil Wilkinson?

"It seems clear to me that he is a dangerous person and my son has lost his life at his hands." ..Source.. by BBC

Saturday, May 16, 2009

CA- Man found guilty of murdering cellmate

5-15-2009 California:

STOCKTON - Jurors found a 41-year-old man guilty Thursday of first-degree murder for killing his cellmate in 2007 at Tracy's Deuel Vocational Institution because he wouldn't stop talking.

According to trial testimony, Richard Henry Kase repeatedly told Randy James Rabelos, 28, to be quiet one night before he punched his cellmate in the throat, shoved a towel down his throat, pinched his nose closed and said, "Goodbye, Randy."

He waited until the next morning to tell jailers his cellmate was dead.

"It was a calculated, methodical killing," said San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Valli Israels, who prosecuted Kase in the trial lasting about three weeks. Jurors deliberated for one day before returning the verdict.

Kase, who has a long rap sheet, was at Deuel after pleading guilty in Santa Clara County to being a felon in possession of an illegal weapon - a sword concealed in a walking cane. He was sentenced to 11 years.

An appeals court overturned the conviction on a technicality, but not before Kase suffocated his cellmate, a convicted sex offender.

Kase is expected to appear again on Monday before San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Michael Garrigan for a further hearing and to set a sentencing date. Kase is expected to receive a prison sentence of at least 25 years to life. ..News Source.. by Scott Smith, Record Staff Writer

Thursday, May 14, 2009

IA- Suspected rapist shot and killed by West Des Moines police

5-13-2009 Iowa:

Police shot and killed a man in a West Des Moines townhouse Tuesday night. He was reportedly a suspect in a series of home break-ins and at least three sexual assaults in West Des Moines and Waukee over the past several months.

West Des Moines Police Lieutenant Jeff Miller says it happened about 7 P.M. in the Village at Glen Oaks, a gated townhouse complex. "Officers from our department attempted to serve a search warrant," Lieutenant Miller says.

"They knocked on the door several times, announced themselves, as is protocol. No one answered. The door was unlocked, they walked inside, again, announcing themselves. The subject approached them, pointing a firearm at them and the officers shot the subject."

The man was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Miller says the man was a suspect in a string of violent crimes in the metro area dating back to December. "The suspect broke into the residence through a window, broke the window, got inside and sexually assaulted a young girl and then physically attacked the mother," Miller says.

"We had a couple other incidents in West Des Moines where he got in and was either scared off or in the process of entering the apartment was scared off." In one recent incident, a man who lived in the home was hit over the head with a hammer.

In all, Miller says the suspect is linked to six home invasions and eight assaults, including three sexual assaults. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is looking into the fatal shooting. ..News Source.. by Matt Kelley


IA- Detectives shot 25 times at Harvell

5-19-2009 Iowa:

Three West Des Moines police detectives fired 25 shots at a serial rapist last week after he pointed a blank-firing gun and threatened to kill them, according to a search warrant unsealed this morning.

Adam Harvell, 36, was shot and killed after the detectives took a different search warrant to his townhouse in the Village at Glen Oaks, a gated community southeast of Jordan Creek Town Center.

A second search warrant that pertains to a state investigation into the shooting – which is standard procedure with any officer-involved shooting – was unsealed at about 10:30 a.m. at the request of the Des Moines Register.

The warrant, which was sealed the night of the shooting, gives this account of the incident that began at 6:47 p.m. on May 12:

- A West Des Moines detective knocked at Harvell’s residence at 811 Burr Oaks Drive, unit 406, and repeatedly said “police search warrant.” The detective also yelled “Adam,” but no one responded.

- Detectives entered through the unlocked front door.

- Detectives Bryan Grube, Don Ballard and Jeffrey Lyon went upstairs to the second floor of the home and continued to yell “police search warrant.”

- When they made it to the top of the stairs, the detectives were “immediately confronted” by Harvell, who police said yelled something similar to: “I’m gonna kill you mother-(expletive).”

- A detective “observed the subject raise what appeared to be a handgun and point the handgun toward the officers. The officers observed the gun and fired at the subject,” the warrant said.

- Harvell was struck by an unknown number of bullets and dropped to the floor. He was transported to Iowa Methodist Medical Center, where he died.

Investigators confiscated the following evidence from the home:

- 25 shell casings from the upstairs, bathroom and bedroom. Asked whether all of the shell casing were from weapons fired by the detectives, police Lt. Jeff Miller said in a telephone interview this morning: “I don’t think Harvell fired a shot.”

- Two bullets from a bedroom floor and window sill.

- Swabs of “red stains” from five different locations in the home.

- The blank-firing pistol, case and ammunition.

- Birth control pills, a teddy bear, power cord and Nintendo DS.

Harvell’s girlfriend Laura Maring told Harvell’s family in St. Louis that Harvell may have wanted police to kill him, which is commonly referred to in the police community as “suicide by cop.”

“She told my sister Crystal that she felt this was Adam’s way out,” sister Tamra Harvell said last week. “He wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t take his own life.”

Tamra Harvell said that Maring also told police that Adam Harvell had a fake gun in the home before they executed a search warrant.

Miller has said that whether the gun was real or fake doesn’t matter.

"If a person is foolish enough to do that, then an officer will act accordingly if he believes it's a real weapon," Miller said last week. ..Source.. by JARED STRONG

Monday, May 11, 2009

FL- Tampa man faces charge in nephew's fatal stabbing

1-8-2007 Florida:

The two men had been arguing constantly and loudly in recent days.

TAMPA - Things at 3308 E Mohawk Ave. started going downhill after Elizabeth Kendrick went to the hospital on New Year's Day.

Cars cluttered her driveway. People came and left at all hours. The two men who lived there argued constantly, so loudly the neighbors sometimes awoke.

Then, just after 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, police said, 58-year-old Edwin Kendrick stabbed his nephew, 33-year-old Randy Harrelson in the side with a steak knife during a front yard brawl.

Harrelson collapsed, bleeding. Kendrick walked toward the corner stop sign and stood there, then walked some more. Officers arrested him a few blocks away.

After an ambulance rushed Harrelson to Tampa General Hospital, Elizabeth Kendrick's granddaughter, Yvette Bynum, waited by the police tape with her cell phone for word from the emergency room.

The sun had set when Bynum's phone rang.

"Oh, my God!" she screamed. "He's dead. Jesus Christ." Bynum fell to the ground, her daughter crouched next to her.

Relatives ran from across the street, where they had gathered. "Tell me my cousin ain't dead," one said, and he threw a bottle.

As Bynum contemplated how to tell 82-year-old Elizabeth Kendrick what happened at her house, a Tampa police homicide team snapped photos.

Edwin Kendrick would be charged, Lt. Jill Kwiatkowski said, but the charges had not been determined Sunday night.

Edwin Kendrick has an extensive criminal record, including battery, aggravated assault and possession of cocaine.

Harrelson was on house arrest when he was killed. He also had a lengthy record, with charges including drug possession and sexual battery.

Bynum said she knew something bad was bound to happen at that house, and forbade her daughter to hang out there while Elizabeth Kendrick was gone. But she never thought it would come to killing.

"We're family," Bynum said. "Family don't do this." ..Source.. by ALEXANDRA ZAYAS


Man Claims Self-Defense; Murder Charge Tossed

12-3-2008 Florida:

TAMPA - A judge today dismissed a second-degree murder charge against a man who said he killed his nephew in self-defense.

Edwin Allen Kendrick, 60, was charged with fatally stabbing Randall Marquayne Harrelson, 33, on Jan. 7, 2007.

Kendrick was on trial this week, but Judge Manuel Lopez dismissed charges, saying the state could not rebut the self-defense claim. Pam Bondi, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office, said prosecutors argued that the jury should decide the case.

Harrelson and Kendrick had been arguing, police said, and the day before the killing, Kendrick punched his nephew, a registered sexual offender, in the mouth. ..Source.. by ELAINE SILVESTRINI | The Tampa Tribune

Saturday, May 9, 2009

CA- Petaluma suspect shot 27 times

10-9-2005 California:

5 officers fired total of 42 rounds in 2 volleys at child molest suspect who pointed loaded gun at police
2005 California

A suspected child molester killed by Petaluma police last weekend was shot 27 times after he pointed a loaded handgun at officers, authorities said Friday.

Five officers fired 42 rounds, striking 72-year-old James Anthony Decosta over much of his body, including his head, neck and chest.

Petaluma Police Chief Steve Hood said the officers risked their own lives while standing down an armed fugitive.

He said the 42 shots were necessary to stop Decosta, who had led officers on a brief car chase last Saturday before pulling over in an industrial park.

Hood said officers began firing on Decosta when the ex-Marine got out of a car and pointed a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun at them.

When Decosta lowered the gun, Hood said, the officers stopped firing and shouted for him not to raise it again. Decosta ignored the order, raising the weapon a second time, prompting more gunfire from the officers, Hood said.

Hood said he doesn't know if Decosta was struck by the initial volley. Decosta's gun, which contained three rounds, apparently jammed, but police said it's not known if he tried to fire or if it was misloaded or damaged when he fell.

"Clearly, it took that many shots to end the threat," Hood said. "The restraint officers showed after the first series of shots put them at risk. Had it not been for the malfunction, we could have easily had an officer shot, which I believe was his (Decosta's) intent."

The shooting is being investigated by Santa Rosa police and the Sonoma County district attorney per a protocol governing officer-involved shootings.

"From all the information I've received from investigating agencies . .. it appears that our officers acted in an appropriate manner and consistent with their training," Hood said.

Petaluma police went into greater detail about the shooting Friday in response to information released by the Sonoma County coroner revealing that Decosta was shot 27 times.

An autopsy Monday showed Decosta was shot in the head, neck, chest, abdomen, groin, left arm, left leg and right foot. Five of the shots could have proved fatal on their own, authorities said.

Six shots grazed Decosta, Sheriff's Lt. Dave Edmonds said.

Most of the entry wounds were on the left side of Decosta's body, suggesting he was hit as he was turning on officers who had pulled up behind his car. Hood called that "speculation."

He said officers were attempting a high-risk traffic stop, which involves an overwhelming show of force so that the suspect gives up.

The five officers, riding in four cars, fanned out behind Decosta's car in such a way as to prevent them from accidentally firing at one another and minimizing risk to civilians, Hood said.

"The ultimate success depends on compliance from the suspect, which in this case, the suspect immediately exited his car and was confrontational," he said.

Petaluma police, along with a Sacramento police detective and a special agent with the state Department of Justice, had been searching for Decosta since the day before the shooting.

Sacramento authorities had recently learned that Decosta might be cashing Social Security checks in Petaluma. He had been sought since 1998 on a $100,000 arrest warrant accusing him of child molestation.

Sacramento Police Sgt. Justin Risley said Friday that the case involved allegations Decosta had raped and sodomized his 10- and 11-year-old stepdaughters.

"He packed everything and left before she (Decosta's wife) realized it," Risley said. "We investigated it and were never able to locate him."

After spotting Decosta at a gym on Old Corona Road, two Petaluma detectives radioed for two uniformed officers to stop Decosta's car. They were joined in the pursuit by another officer when Decosta didn't stop.

During the two-minute, seven-second chase, officers noted Decosta seemed to be reaching for something in his car, Hood said. They also learned from a dispatcher moments before Decosta pulled over that he had a weapon registered in his name.

Bob McMenomey, the use-of-force commander for the Sheriff's Department, said deputies are trained to use deadly force to protect themselves or others from an immediate threat of death or serious injury.

In situations where deputies resort to firing their gun, McMenomey said, "you shoot until you perceive the threat has been stopped, until it is no longer a threat."

All the officers involved in Saturday's shooting were carrying semiautomatic .40-caliber Glock handguns, which usually have 10 to 15 rounds.

Most U.S. law enforcement agencies switched to semiautomatics from revolvers after shootouts in the 1970s and 1980s in which officers were outgunned.
Lt. Danny Fish, who oversees special operations for Petaluma police, said officers don't carry semiautomatics because they are easier to fire but because they are more technologically advanced.

"We try to provide our people with the best item out there," he said. "Right now, that's semiautomatic weapons." ..more.. by DEREK J. MOORE, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT


5 police officers on paid leave after shooting molestation suspect

10-5-2005 California:

The Petaluma Police Department will be operating indefinitely without the services of five officers due to the fatal shooting of a suspected child molester on Saturday. The officers -- Rick Cox, 33; Garrett Glaviano, 26; John Lipanovich, 30; Dan Miller, 33; and Mike Pierre, 35 -- were placed on indefinite, paid administrative leave, as is typical when officers are involved in shootings that are being investigated. "This is standard practice, but the length of leave is left up to individual departments," said Sgt. Dave Negri of the Santa Rosa Police Department. Petaluma Police Capt. Dave Sears says that the officers' absence will not affect services.

"We have enough staff (68 officers) to take care of our needs," he said. James Anthony Decosta, 72, wanted since 1998 on a $100,000 felony warrant for forced child molestation, was shot and killed by Petaluma police officers at around 5 p.m. after allegedly exiting his Ford coupe with a handgun, said police department sources. An agent from the California Department of Justice in Sacramento and a Sacramento Police Department detective tracked Decosta to Petaluma, and asked Petaluma police for help. DeCosta has a brother who lives in Petaluma. Petaluma police detectives found him leaving the Peta-luma Valley Athletic Club at 85 Corona Road after working out, and requested help from uniformed police officers.

They attempted to stop his vehicle, and he initially cooperated, but then led them on a brief chase, stopping in the area of North McDowell and Dynamic streets. The officers eventually were able to make a "high-risk" traffic stop, which typically includes officers drawing their guns before a suspect exits a vehicle. Decosta, a former resident of Sacra-mento, stepped out of the Ford coupe with a semiautomatic pistol and pointed it at officers, police said. Nine officers were at the scene, and Cox, Glaviano, Lipanovich, Miller and Pierre fired shots at him.

Paramedics and police officers administered CPR on Decosta, who later was transported by ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. An autopsy was being performed on Tuesday. The California Department of Justice agent and the Sacramento police detective who had been attempting to find Decosta -- who was charged with committing forced, lewd and lascivious acts on a juvenile under the age of 14 -- arrived at the scene after the shooting. ..Source.. by DAN JOHNSON, ARGUS-COURIER STAFF

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

CA- A molester's murder goes unsolved

5-6-2009 California:

Laura Bejerano wants to talk with whoever killed her father in 1993.

Alan Schwalbe was sitting at his desk, which was strangely positioned in a hallway between the kitchen and the garage, when he heard footsteps.

The 61-year-old property manager, who lived in a five-bedroom sprawl on the border of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, was alone at the time. Schwalbe's roommate had just left to go to the beach.

He got up, apparently to close the garage door, but he was too late. Someone began pummeling him near his desk.

The fight went from the hallway to the kitchen and that's when Schwalbe put up his last stand. He reached to the kitchen counter for something, anything, that he might use in his defense.

This angered his attacker, who pulled out a knife and repeatedly stabbed Schwalbe in the neck, chest and heart. Schwalbe bled to death in a pool of his own blood.

At least that's what Schwalbe's daughter, Laura Bejerano, thinks happened. It's the way she's told it to herself, hundreds of thousands of times, in the 16 years since the murder.

What gets her the most is that she still doesn't know the who. Or the why.


Bejerano, 40, a mother of three, is an instructional assistant at a local school district who recently earned a Bachelor's Degree in psychology. She hopes to go into forensic psychology, an interest she attributes to her father's ongoing case.

When Schwalbe was murdered, Bejerano was in her mid-20s and just out of the Navy. She lived in Costa Mesa with her mother and four siblings. She took classes at Orange Coast College.

And precisely at the time of the stabbing, she was on her way to visit her father – but turned around.

In the early years after the murder, the thought Bejerano couldn't shake was a simple one:

"I could have stopped them."

But in the years of therapy she's had since then – beating back what she terms "survivor's guilt" – she's heard something else, too.

"Had I shown up, I could have been killed too."

Life as the surviving relative of a long-unsolved murder has been challenging. While she's able to cope on a daily basis, Bejerano still misses her father – especially on his birthday and the anniversary of his death.

Worse, she says, is watching an increase in the number of solved cold cases – as new technologies are developed – while seeing little progress on her father's case.

"I celebrate for them … but I'm so frustrated," she says. "It's bittersweet. Like somebody's sort of taking my heart and twisting it a little bit."

What gives the grieving daughter even less hope is who her dad was.

Who really wants to solve the murder of a convicted child molester?

Schwalbe was a political science teacher at Corona del Mar High School until his teaching credentials were taken away in 1975. He was convicted of misdemeanor molestation charges involving two 16-year-old male students.

Bejerano says her father was also abusive, which strained relations between him and his family. But for all of his faults, she says there was good in him, too. After leaving prison, for example, Schwalbe became a vocal – and by many accounts effective – supporter of gay rights.

"My dad might have done some bad things in his life. He might have done some things that weren't so Boy Scout-ish," she says.

"That doesn't give anybody the right to take his life."


Schwalbe's murder is one of about 140 still-active cold cases at the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Sgt. Yvonne Shull of the OCSD says the case last was looked at in 2006, when it was entered into the FBI's Violent Crime Analysis Program, which helps to link crimes with the same modus operandi.

Shull wouldn't elaborate on the evidence the department has in the Schwalbe case. But she explained that these types of cases can be solved in a variety of ways.

Sometimes suspects are captured using original or newly discovered evidence that was never subjected to testing technologies that have become available since the original investigation. Also, recent laws have created a fast-growing database of prisoner DNA, which Shull says has helped generate many new leads in old cases.

Still, Shull says, technology isn't of importance in solving all cold cases.

Guilt can wear on people. Relationships change. For those reasons and countless others, Shull says, a person who knows something about a crime might speak out – sometimes years later – even after initially declining to help.

And Shull is quick to shoot down the idea that Schwalbe's case remains unsolved after 15 years because of his background.

"When you're an investigator, you're given the responsibility to solve who murdered somebody," Shull says. "That person's race, previous history, you can't be prejudiced of that. You have to understand that your job is to find out who killed them."


Bejerano is rooting for guilt.

"Time ages you, time softens you," she says. " … I'd like to think that (the killer or killers) were so hard then that they've become soft now.

"I'd like to think that something is nibbling at them, something is bothering them," she continues. "That they just need to tell because they've taken away a father, a grandfather."

While nothing will bring her father back, Bejerano has faith that his killer can be found.

"There is a chance for justice, for me to get answers," she says. "Why did they do it? How did they think they would get away with it for as long as they did?"

While she longs for a face-to-face conversation with the perpetrator, she hasn't ruled out the fact that the killer might already be dead. If that's the case, Bejerano says she could be at peace.

"I'd just find resolution because I believe that there's justice on God's side.

"That's when faith comes in and I dig in deep and say 'OK, let it go.'" ..Source.. by NIYAZ PIRANI, The Orange County Register


Newspaper Apologizes p. 15 (5-4-2011 by: M.L. Stein)

California daily says it made an error of judgment when it prominently played up the 1974 child-molestation conviction of a former teacher found murdered in his home last month. A 61-YEAR-OLD man is murdered, stabbed to death in his home.

Nearly 20 years ago, as a respected high school teacher, he was convicted of sexually molesting two male students and sentenced to six months in jail. How should his past be played in a news story of the slaying?

The Daily Pilot, which covers the Orange County, Calif., coastal area, grappled with this question and decided it had made a grave mistake.

The headline on its Aug. 13 story said, "Convicted child molester found slain." The lead said, "A 61-year-old man who was found stabbed to death in his home Wednesday has been identified as the former Corona del Mar high school teacher convicted of molesting two of his students in 1974."

In the sixth paragraph, the past of the victim, Alan Schwalbe, was picked up and detailed for another seven paragraphs. It was noted that Schwalbe denied the charges at the time.

The story brought a storm of protest from relatives and friends of the well-to-do property owner.

Laura Schwalbe, one of Schwalbe's five children, phoned the paper to complain that her father's life amounted to much more than his criminal conviction.

As reported by the Daily Pilot, she added, "This is sensationalism at its worst.

It's tabloid stuff like some paper in London. He was a good man and deserved much better than this. This really hurt . . . . "

Costa Mesa Councilman Joe Erickson, a self-described friend of Schwalbe, accused the paper in a letter of exploiting a "juicy story even after the passage of time."

The Pilot, Erickson continued, "did not speak of Alan's many years of service to his community. He volunteered to deliver lunches to housebound senior citizens, served meals to homeless people, arranged for jobs for prison inmates upon their release . . . served the Orange County Fair Housing Council and cared for AIDS patients in his home."

Although the jail sentence cost Schwalbe his wife, his job and most of his friends, "he continued to protest his innocence to the day he died," the letter said.

However, even if guilty, Schwalbe had paid his debt to society, Erickson contended.
The protests did not go unheeded.

In its Aug. 14-15 weekend edition, the Pilot carried a front-page "Apology" box by editor William S. Lobdell, who called the previous day's story "one-dimensional and distorted."

"He was a murder victim and we focused almost entirely on a 19-year-old conviction," the editor added. "The treatment we gave the article ? including its headline and placement ? represented an error in judgment. He deserved better. Our readers deserved better."

Next to the apology was a column by managing editor Steve Marble, who conceded that "it was unfair to portray [Schwalbe] as a child molester and leave it at that." The column appeared in the same spot as the murder story and was approximately the same length.

Marble recalled, however, that the reporter who wrote the story had tried to talk to Laura Schwalbe at the murder scene but was refused. Pressed by a deadline, the reporter turned to the newspaper's library where the file on Schwalbe "began and ended with the child-molestation case."

Subsequently, the paper learned that Schwalbe had been a respected member of the gay community, an activist who had marched for gay rights and a worker in Democratic politics. He had helped establish a chapter of a veterans' group for gays and lesbians.

In judging the murder story, Marble concluded, "The article, of course, was accurate. It was factual. It was a neat synopsis of a very miserable point in Schwalbe's life.

"But in the cold light of the morning, after listening to a murder victim's daughter and staring down at the huge headline that had dredged up an event that had lost any semblance of news value, I realized it was possible to be accurate and inaccurate all at once."

Marble, a 15-year newspaperman, said, "This is a lesson we have to relearn. The situation keeps coming back. We should not have let a 20-year-old conviction become the whole story. We should have tried harder to get more background on the man."