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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SC sex crime convict found dead in front of shower in McCormick prison

11-29-2011 South Carolina:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the death of 49-year-old inmate serving a 20-year sentence for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

The state Corrections Department said Monday it is routine for SLED to investigate possible homicides. The prison agency and SLED would not provide details of the death of Ricky Cooper of Graniteville.

He was found Saturday morning in a common area in front of a shower near the cell.

The Corrections Department said SLED was notified as soon as Cooper's body was found. ..Source.. by The Republic


Graniteville sex offender found dead in prison

A convicted sex offender from Graniteville was found dead outside his cell in McCormick Correctional Institution on Saturday.

South Carolina Department of Corrections spokesman Clark Newsom said Monday evening that Ricky Cooper, 49, who was serving a 20-year sentence for criminal sexual conduct with a minor, was found dead by corrections officers at 11:35 a.m.

His body was in a common area outside his cell by the showers.

Newsom said the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has taken over the case, and details are limited.

Cooper was charged in June 2007 with eight counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and 10 counts of committing lewd acts on a minor. He pleaded guilty in March 2009 to two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to court records.

The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office said when it filed the charges that a boy and a girl were assaulted at an Aiken home between February 1996 and February 2004.

McCormick Correctional Institution is a level 3 all-male prison.

Level 3 prisons are high-security institutions designed primarily to house violent offenders with longer sentences and inmates who exhibit behavioral problems, according to the Department of Corrections Web site. Housing consists of single and double cells, and all perimeters are double-fenced with extensive electronic surveillance. Inmates at level 3 facilities are closely supervised, and their activities and movement within the institution are highly restricted, the Web site says. ..Source.. by Summer Moore, Staff Writer


Prisoner’s death gory, report says

12-3-2012 Georgia:

The mutilation of a convicted child molester killed at a state prison in McCormick included pens and a pin stuck in his eyes, ears and nose, swastikas carved and written on his face and “pervert” inked on his forehead, a report says.

The report, obtained by The State newspaper after state corrections officials declined to describe the crime, is the first revelation of what prison staff encountered Nov. 26 when they discovered the body of Ricky Cooper.

Prison officials went to check on him after receiving an anonymous telephone call about a stabbing, the report says. It’s unclear how long Cooper’s body had been in an area adjoining a shower near his cell. It was not in the report.

State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, chairman of the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee, told The State on Tuesday that his staff had spoken with prison officials and learned that Cooper was “missing for some length of time before they found him.”

Prison spokesman Clark Newsom wouldn’t say Friday if guidelines requiring staff to make periodic checks on inmates were followed. He declined to explain what current guidelines are, calling that a “security matter.”

In the past, because it is a high-security prison, regulations required that officers check cellblocks every 30 minutes. Further, the rules required an inmate count of the entire prison be completed every four hours.

McCormick County Coroner Faye Puckett, prison officials and the State Law Enforcement Division, which is investigating, each declined to comment on the report.

Gov. Nikki Haley will await the outcome of SLED’s investigation before deciding if any action is necessary on her part, spokesman Rob Godfrey said. The Corrections Department is part of her Cabinet.

Cooper, 49, was serving a 20-year sentence from Aiken County that began in March 2009.

He was strangled, according to a warrant charging cellmate John New of Lee County with murder.

The report doesn’t say if the mutilation is thought to have occurred before or after Cooper’s death.

He was strangled with what the report describes as an unspecified type of string.

Besides the mutilation with the pens, safety pins and the swastikas, Cooper’s stomach was slashed, his groin was bloodied with an unidentified open book laid across his legs, and his face had several other cuts, the report said.

His shredded prison identity card was clipped to an ear, it added.

Cooper and New, 32, were alone during the incident, warrants said. Authorities decline to say if they are investigating whether other inmates were involved in the mutilation.

As of Monday, the prison had 1,246 inmates, 124 more than its normal capacity. It is 75 miles west of Columbia.

New is serving a life sentence for taking hostages by force, according to a state Department of Corrections website. ..Source.. by TIM FLACH


Graniteville man serving time for sex crimes killed by cellmate

2-2-2012 Georgia:

A Graniteville man incarcerated at a McCormick County prison for repeatedly raping two young boys in Aiken County was strangled to death by his cellmate over the weekend, officials said.

In 2009, Ricky Lynn Cooper, 49, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree and was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison.

Less than two years into Cooper's sentence, on Saturday, Cooper's cellmate, John Michael New, 32, who had been serving a life sentence for hostage-taking, reportedly strangled the Aiken County man.

New has been charged with murder.

Senate Corrections Committee Chairman Mike Fair of Greenville said his staff has been told Cooper was mutilated, but Fair did not tell reporters any details, according to the Associated Press.

Neither the McCormick County coroner nor South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agents would not comment on the death.

The body was taken for autopsy on Monday.

According to published reports, Cooper's body went undiscovered for as long as several hours.

During the 2009 plea hearing in Aiken, Cooper admitted to raping the victims over a period of years. However, at the last minute the admitted child molester changed his mind and demanded a jury trial, the Aiken Standard reported at the time.

"I don't think it's right ... I think I should have a fair trial and see everything they've got against me," Cooper told the court. "I want a jury to tell me because I am really not guilty of these charges."

After a brief recess, Judge Thomas Russo announced that it was at his discretion whether or not to allow the guilty plea to be withdrawn and that he was not going to allow it.

The victims and their families were in the courtroom but chose not to make any statement to the court. ..Source.. by Karen Daily - Staff writer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Man Shot in the Back by Police had Extensive Record

11-23-2011 Nevada:

LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas police have released the mugshot and criminal history of a man shot and killed by officers on Monday night.

Police say 37-year-old Bernard Pate was shot and killed by Gang Crime detectives on Monday evening near Karen Avenue and Lamb Boulevard. Police say they tried to talk to Pate and he took off on foot. Shots were fired and Pate struck in the upper-left back area of his body. He died at the scene. Police say they found a gun laying near his body.

Pate has an extensive police record, including arrests for attempted lewdness with a minor, attempted robbery, attempted burglary, open and gross lewdness, annoyance of a mentally challenged minor, lewdness with a minor under the age of 14 years, unlawful contact with the mentally ill, and battery, domestic violence. He is also a registered sex offender.

This is the 17th officer-involved shooting of the year for Metro and the 11th fatal shooting. The officer involved in the shooting is on paid administration leave. ..Source.. by Stephen Jackson, Online News Editor


Man fatally shot by Metro police Monday identified

The man shot and killed by a Metro Police officer Monday night has been identified as 37-year-old Bernard Pate, according to the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

Pate, of Las Vegas, died from a gunshot wound to the upper, left back, the coroner said. His death was ruled a homicide.

Metro spokesman Jay Rivera said the officer-involved shooting happened about 11 p.m. Monday at 4550 E. Karen Ave., near Sahara Avenue and Lamb Boulevard.

Police said gang detectives were patrolling the area when they tried to stop a man acting suspiciously in a courtyard. He started running, prompting a chase, Rivera said.

During the foot pursuit, Rivera said an officer shot the suspect, who was believed to be carrying a gun. The weapon was found next to his body, police said.

Police have not released what prompted the officer to fire. Pate died at the scene.

Police said Pate, who was classified as a “Tier O” sex offender, was a registered felon for the following crimes: attempted lewdness with a minor, open and gross lewdness, attempted first-degree robbery and attempted third-degree burglary.

Police said the investigation is ongoing. The officer who fired has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure for officer-involved shootings. ..Source.. by Jackie Valley

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wife faces 50 years in jail for shooting at her husband after she found his stash of child porn

11-19-2011 Maryland:
---She then got hold of ANOTHER gun which he also took off her before killing himself
---University lecturer tells court former USAF Lt Col killed himself out embarrassment over child porn cache
---‘The jury maybe thought that he committed suicide, but found that she had tried to murder him as well’
Jurors found Findlay, originally from Blairgowrie, Perthshire, guilty of attempted second degree murder following a two-and-a-half-day trial

A Scottish university lecturer faces 50 years in a U.S. jail for trying to murder her husband after finding his child porn.
Joanna Findlay, 41, blasted Gary Trogdon in the chest at their home in Hollywood, Maryland, but failed to kill him.

Mr Trogdon, a 55-year-old former U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, then took the gun and killed himself.

Jurors at St Mary’s County Circuit Court found Findlay, originally from Blairgowrie, Perthshire, guilty of attempted second degree murder following a two-and-a-half-day trial.

Findlay was also found guilty of the statutory firearms offence of using a handgun in the commission of a felony.

State attorney Richard Fritz said Findlay now faces a potential 30 years in jail for attempted second degree murder, and potentially another 20 years on top for the firearms offence.

Mr Fritz said: ‘The jury found that she tried to murder him before he shot himself. They decided there was not enough evidence as to whether he committed suicide or she murdered him.

‘The jury maybe thought that he committed suicide, but found that she had tried to murder him as well.’

Findlay, who was an English lecturer at Maryland University, insisted throughout that Mr Trogdon had in fact shot himself over the embarrassment at his child porn cache.


Joanna Findlay, who studied at Aberdeen University and Dundee College, moved to the US 15 years ago on a student exchange programme. She married Trogdon 11 years ago.

Her parents, Freda and scrap merchant Thomas Findlay, of Blairgowrie, Perthshire, are understood to have flown out to support her.

Freda said last year: ‘Joanna is one of the most caring, good-natured people you could meet.’

But Alex Wahlberg, one of Findlay’s pupils, recalled that Findlay would frequently stop lessons to talk about her love of weaponry.

He said: ‘A class period didn’t go by that she didn’t talk about gun laws or the number of guns she has. She would talk about how her house was “a well-armoured home”.

She owned tons of them.’ ..Source..


Joanna Findlay guilty of US murder bid charge

11-18-2011 Maryland:

A Scots university lecturer has been convicted of attempting to kill her husband in their US home after finding child sex abuse images on his computer.

However, Joanna Findlay, from Blairgowrie in Perthshire, was cleared of her husband's murder by a jury, who concluded he had killed himself.

Findlay, 41, shot at her husband Gary Trogdon at their home in Hollywood, Maryland, on 30 October 2010.

She was released on bail, pending her sentence.

Prosecutors in Maryland said she could face up to 50 years in jail.

Five charges

Findlay was convicted of second degree attempted murder and a handgun charge following the death of her 55-year-old husband, a former US Air Force lieutenant colonel.

The judge at the Leonardtown courthouse allowed Findlay to remain free on bail, while a pre-sentence investigation was carried out.

It was reported the jurors were initially deadlocked after being asked to determine Findlay's guilt on five charges, ranging from assault to first degree murder.

They returned to the court so the judge could re-read them a summary of the case. An hour later the jury returned with its verdict.

Findlay moved away from Blairgowrie 15 years ago. She was a former Dundee College and Aberdeen University student.

She always maintained that her husband had turned his gun on himself after she confronted him. ..Source.. by BBC


Hollywood woman accused of killing husband

11-14-2011 Maryland:

Murder suspect’s lawyer argues death was suicide

Opening arguments Monday in the murder trial of a former college instructor included defense allegations that the victim her husband possessed child pornography and had a penchant for keeping multiple loaded guns in the house.

His death, the defense attorney argued, was a suicide.

When the prosecution began presenting its case later in the day, St. Mary’s County jurors heard three taped conversations from 911 calls made the night of Oct. 30, 2010 the first by Joanna Joyce Findlay, who is charged with murdering Gary Alan Trogdon, and the second two calls initiated by the emergency dispatcher. Sheriff’s deputies responded to the couple’s Hollywood home to find Findlay outside and Trogdon dead inside on a chair in the living room.

“What you will hear is an enraged woman saying my husband just assaulted me,” St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard D. Fritz said before the tapes were played.

Fritz (R) said that earlier the day of the murder the couple was seen in good spirits and had gone to a Mexican restaurant in California for dinner with a neighbor after helping work on the neighbor’s chicken coop.

Fritz alleged that later that night Findlay retrieved a .22 caliber pistol and shot it in the house before her husband took it away from her. Then, he said, Findlay used another pistol, this time a .38 caliber weapon, and eventually shot her husband at close range and “severed his heart.”

John Ray, Findlay’s lawyer, said in his opening argument that his client’s husband had pulled her from her bed that night and assaulted her, chasing her around the house, before she punched him in the nose.

Ray acknowledged that Findlay pulled out the .22 caliber gun and said she shot it into the home’s floor.

He said that based on gunpowder residue patterns on Trogdon’s shirt from the .38 caliber weapon, the gun muzzle was touching the husband’s shirt when it went off.

Ray said that when he presents the defense case later in the trial he intends to call as a witness a doctor who will testify that based on evidence the death was a suicide.

Prosecution witnesses called the first day of the trial included several sheriff’s officers who responded to the 911 call, the emergency dispatcher, a volunteer paramedic, a relative of Trogdon’s and a neighbor.

Detective Sarah Russell said she notified Findlay in the early morning hours the next day while she was at St. Mary’s Hospital that she was being held because her husband died at their house. The detective said Findlay then asked three questions what did her husband die from, whether the police thought she did it and the state of her pets at the house.

During opening arguments, the defense lawyer said that Findlay had discovered child pornography on her husband’s laptop two and a half months earlier and confronted him with it.

Trogdon went to a support group in Virginia the morning before he died, after his wife insisted he seek help for his obsession with child pornography, Ray alleged. Trogdon returned with a chip that showed he attended the group’s meeting, Ray said, an object the lawyer said would later be submitted as evidence.

Ray argued that Trogdon shot himself over the embarrassment of the child pornography.

Last week, during a pretrial hearing, Fritz objected to introducing the pornographic images as evidence, arguing it would be done solely “to inflame the jury.”

Ray alleged that detectives have seized several computers that have thousands of images of child pornography. He said that Findlay told detectives about the pornography the night her husband died.

Fritz said that Findlay was trying to overdose on drugs that night and that her husband took those drugs from her to stop her from committing suicide. The prosecutor said that some of that medication was found by police in Trogdon’s pants pockets.

Grand jurors indicted Findlay on a charge of first-degree murder from Trogdon’s death. Findlay, now 41, and her 55-year-old husband lived on Little Cliffs Road.

Findlay, originally from Scotland, worked as a writing instructor at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Trogdon, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, was on the faculty of American Military University, affiliated with the American Public University System in West Virginia. ..Source.. by JESSE YEATMAN, Staff writer


Scots woman jailed in the US for attempted murder set to appeal conviction

4-29-2012 Maryland:

A SCOTS woman jailed in the US for attempted murder wants a retrial – after the jury were told not to believe her because she isn’t a Christian.

University lecturer Joanna Findlay, 42, got five years for the attempted murder of husband Gary Trogdon.

She had been charged with murder but was convicted of the lesser crime after a jury decided she had fired a gun at him before he turned another weapon on himself.

The lecturer – originally of Blairgowrie, Perthshire – denied committing any crime.

She said her husband had killed himself after an argument in which she had fired a shot into the ground in self-defence.

The couple fought after Findlay found child porn on his computer.

She wants a retrial, claiming she might have been acquitted if state attorney Richard Fritz had not attacked her credibility based on her being an atheist.

During her trial, Fritz told a jury that Findlay’s testimony – sworn on oath to God – “cannot be relied on because she does not believe in God, she does not believe in Jesus Christ”.

Her lawyers also say prosecutors tried to portray her as a “porno queen” after making her read a short story expressing her leanings toward atheism and debauchery.

At a post-trial hearing, Fritz said: “Perhaps I did go a little too far in the closing argument but the proof was in the pudding.

“They convicted her on her 911 telephone call heard at the trial and they convicted her on the fact she had gunpowder residue on her.” ..Source.. by Russell Findlay