St.Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch is subverting justice in Michael Brown case

October 4, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Good morning:

I write today to clarify the role of the prosecutor and grand jury in the Michael Brown murder investigation.

State grand juries have jurisdiction to investigate and charge people with state crimes committed within the county in which they are located. State or county prosecutors submit cases to them for consideration. Grand juries can also initiate their own investigations by subpoenaing witnesses, but they rarely do that.

Federal grand juries work the same way, but they deal with with federal crimes committed within the federal district in which they are located.

Jurisdiction to charge and prosecute drug offenses overlaps because both state and federal statutes have criminalized drug crimes. To avoid doubling up, the feds handle the more serious drug cases and the states handle the less serious ones. By seriousness, I am referring to the amount of drugs involved.

Jurisdiction rarely overlaps in murder cases because jurisdiction in murder cases depends on where the crime was committed. For example, the State of Missouri has jurisdiction to prosecute Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown, but the feds do not since the shooting did not happen on federal property, such as a military base. But they would have jurisdiction to indict him for committing a hate crime or violating Michael Brown’s civil rights, since they have jurisdiction to charge those crimes wherever they are committed.

Federal prosecutors in the Central District of Florida, which is where George Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed Trayvon Martin, apparently have decided not to seek an indictment charging Zimmerman with a hate crime or a civil rights violation.

A St.Louis County grand jury has jurisdiction to indict Darren Wilson because the shooting happened within that county.

There is no statute of limitations in murder cases. Therefore, if the grand jury’s term expires before it decides whether to indict Darren Wilson, a new grand jury can be convened to continue the investigation.

As I see it, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch does not want to prosecute Darren Wilson for murdering Michael Brown, so he is deliberately dragging his feet to prevent the grand jury from indicting him.

I have reached that conclusion because I can think of no valid reason why Wilson has not been indicted. Approximately ten witnesses who do not know Brown, Wilson or each other have all described Wilson shooting Brown after Brown stopped running away, turned and raised his hands. No one described Brown bull-rushing Wilson, although one witness described Brown stumbling toward Wilson after being shot and dropping to the ground.

His body was 95 feet away from Wilson’s vehicle.

A grand jury need only find probable cause (i.e., reasonable grounds) to believe Wilson murdered Brown in order to indict Wilson.

Wilson should have been indicted weeks ago because there is far more evidence against him than is necessary to establish probable cause.

Our legal system is designed to have trials in cases like this so that the community can witness the legal process proceed toward a just result as we just witnessed in the Theodore Wafer and Michael Dunn cases.

Bob McCulloch is attempting to subvert that process and by doing so he is subverting justice.

The good people of Ferguson know what he is doing and they are expressing their dismay peacefully by public protest.

That could change, if he continues to subvert justice.

For more information on the role of grand juries, click on “grand jury” in the index of categories that appears in column on the right side of the web page.

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Grand Jury should indict Darren Wilson because his claim of self-defense is contradicted by autopsy results and all eyewitnesses

August 22, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Good afternoon:

The St. Louis County grand jury should indict Darren Wilson because the results of the independent autopsy and all of the eyewitnesses contradict his reported claim of self-defense and he has asserted his fifth amendment right to remain silent by refusing to fill out an incident report regarding the shooting.

Game within the Game

Darren Wilson has obviously been discussing his legal predicament with an attorney. As a result of that discussion, he decided not to fill out an incident report on the ground that his statement might tend to incriminate him.

That was a smart but risky move.

Smart because he has a fifth amendment right to remain silent and the members of the grand jury cannot assume that his silence is an admission of guilt.

Risky because he is the only witness who would testify that he shot Mike Brown in self-defense. All of the eyewitnesses have described a murder, not a justifiable homicide in self-defense. Therefore, if he does not testify, the grand jury will have little choice except to indict him for murder.

He could go for the brass ring by agreeing to testify before the grand jury, but he would lock himself into a story by doing so and could still be indicted for murder because his story is contradicted by all of the eyewitnesses.

Recall that the grand jury need only find that there is probable cause to believe that he was not in imminent danger of death or serious injury when he shot an unarmed Mike Brown multiple times, including twice in the head, killing him.

Yee olde bum-rush defense ain’t got no legs since none of the eyewitnesses saw Mike Brown rush the officer and his body was found right where he stopped and turned around to face the officer, 35 feet from the police vehicle.

Looks like he has decided to forgo testifying before the grand jury, in essence conceding that he will be indicted.

He’s in a very difficult situation, but I think he made the right choice.

Don’t forget that his lawyer could not be present, if he testified before the grand jury. There’s danger in them thar hills.

Meanwhile, he can derive comfort from the news today that people have contributed more than $225,000 for his defense at his beg-site.

Meanwhile, the racist right-wing-hate-machine marches on engaging in non-stop victim character assassination by lie and constant media repetition of the racist yee olde bum-rush defense in the court of public opinion until everybody forgets that Mike Brown was executed for jaywalking.

Welcome to Zimmerman II.


Witnesses are testifying today before grand jury in Kendrick Johnson case

March 13, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Good afternoon:

Victor Blackwell and Devon Sayers of CNN are reporting a new development in the Kendrick Johnson case.

Kendrick Johnson’s former schoolmates and their parents have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating the Georgia teen’s 2013 death, according to sources with knowledge of the subpoenas.

Among those seen entering the federal courthouse in Macon on Thursday were current students at Lowndes High School and current and former students at Valdosta High School, also located in Lowndes County.

/snip/

Outside the federal courthouse Thursday, U.S. Attorney Michael Moore said, “We’re working methodically, and sometimes we remember we’re running a marathon instead of a sprint. So, we’re working on it. It’s better to get it right than to get it fast. I’m satisfied that the FBI is moving forward at the appropriate speed, and they’re doing a fine job.”

This is an encouraging development.


Zimmerman: Chris Serino Retains Jose Baez for Deposition

November 20, 2012

Frances Robles of the Miami Herald reported yesterday that SPD Investigator Chris Serino has retained attorney Jose Baez to represent him at his upcoming deposition by the defense in the George Zimmerman case.

He has a right to be represented by counsel and, under the circumstances, I believe he did the right thing.

Let us take a look at the circumstances to appreciate his predicament.

Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, announced in his recent motion for a prophylactic sequestration of witnesses that he intends to question SPD officials supervising Serino’s investigation of the Martin homicide regarding why they decided to recommend against charging Zimmerman with a crime.

We know that during the first night of the investigation Serino “corrected” several witnesses who told police that the boy (i.e., Trayvon Martin) uttered the terrified shriek that abruptly ended with a gunshot to his heart. He told them that the police had determined that the shooter uttered the shriek.

We also know that Zimmerman’s vehicle, which Zimmerman claimed to have parked on Twin Trees Lane close to the sidewalk cut-through to Retreat View Circle, was not checked for evidence and Zimmerman was permitted to clean-up in the lavatory while unsupervised at the station house prior to being questioned by Investigator Doris Singleton. In addition, no one asked him for permission to take a blood or urine sample for subsequent testing for the presence of alcohol or drugs.

Someone in a position of authority in the department that first night, presumably Serino, before police had identified the shooting victim as Trayvon Martin, decided not to arrest Zimmerman for investigation of homicide even though the unidentified victim was “armed” only with a can of iced tea and Skittles. Zimmerman had the gun and police knew from Zimmerman’s recorded NEN call that, despite being told not to follow the victim by the dispatcher, he must have followed and attempted to prevent the victim from getting away mere minutes before the police arrived to investigate his call. They also knew that despite his claim of self-defense, his injuries were minor and not life-threatening.

Based on the information available to the police that first night, coupled with Serino’s apparent effort to influence witnesses to change their statements to support Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense, the decision not to arrest Zimmerman was and remains extremely controversial, not only with the public, but within the department, as a group of Black police officers subsequently protested the decision.

The police only needed probable cause to arrest Zimmerman for investigation of homicide. Probable cause means reasonable grounds to believe that a crime was committed. It is an objective test based on the totality of the circumstances; namely, whether a reasonable person or police officer was aware of sufficient facts and circumstances that first night to conclude that it was more probable than not that Zimmerman did not kill Martin in self-defense. Probable cause is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt or even proof by a preponderance of the evidence. It is a mere threshold requirement to justify detaining a suspect for further investigation.

I believe they had probable cause to arrest that first night and I suspect they did not arrest Zimmerman because they assumed the unidentified victim was a Black gangsta on the prowl looking for a house to burglarize. Never mind that this Black gangsta was unarmed carrying only iced tea and Skittles. Never mind that this was a Sunday night between 7 and 7:30 pm when most people are at home. Never mind that it was raining hard intermittently. Never mind that on this Sunday night the NBA All Star game was going to be on TV and most people would be at home watching it or gathering together with friends to watch it. Never mind that the police knew Zimmerman did not have a reasonable suspicion to believe that the victim was committing, had committed or was about to commit a crime, based on the information that Zimmerman provided to the dispatcher in the NEN call. And for God’s sake, never mind that the dispatcher warned Zimmerman not to follow the victim.

The decision not to arrest Zimmerman, despite the information available to the police that night, appears to have been race-based. That is, the police would have arrested a Caucasian suspect unknown to them, if the victim had been Caucasian. Without any evidence, they appear to have decided that, despite the absence of a reasonable suspicion to believe the victim was “up to no good,” as Zimmerman described it, and despite his decision to ignore the dispatcher’s warning not to follow the unarmed victim — who had run away from Zimmerman — the victim suddenly decided for no apparent reason to attack Zimmerman and attempt to kill him with his bare hands.

Who in their right mind would do such a preposterous thing? They decided that a Black gangsta would do such a preposterous thing. Yet, when they found out the next morning that the victim was not a Black gangsta, but a middle class junior in high school with good grades, loving parents and no criminal record staying in a residence in the neighborhood, they refused to change their minds.

Could that decision have anything to do with efforts by George Zimmerman’s father, a former judicial magistrate in Virginia with connections to Seminole County State’s Attorney Norm Wolfinger, the State’s Attorney in Seminole County and Mark Osterman, Zimmerman’s best friend and former Seminole County Sheriff’s Deputy and close friend of Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee who was Serino’s boss?

There is a strong smell of corruption associated with the investigation of this case and the decisions not to arrest and not to charge Zimmerman with a crime. Norm Wolfinger retired, Chief Bill Lee was Fired, and Governor Scott appointed State’s Attorney Angela Corey to take over the case in response to national protests against the decision not to charge Zimmerman. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement took over the investigation from the Sanford Police Department and in short order Corey charged Zimmerman by information with second degree murder.

Serino, meanwhile, saved his job by recommending at the last minute that Wolfinger charge Zimmerman with manslaughter.

That smell of corruption suggests a possible civil rights violation that the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, the United States Attorneys Office for the Central District of Florida and the FBI should be investigating.

Chris Serino has a lot to worry about these days and so do former Chief Bill Lee, former State’s Attorney Norm Wolfinger and other members of the Sanford Police Department who supervised Serino and decided not to charge Zimmerman.

Meanwhile, Mark O’Mara has announced his intention to depose the people in the department who decided against charging Zimmerman because he wants to publicize their reasons to influence potential jurors in Seminole County and he wants to call them as witnesses at Zimmerman’s trial.

Never mind that their opinions are irrelevant and inadmissible at trial and probably based on racist assumptions and improper influence.

Yes, indeed. Serino is caught between a rock and a hard place and he definitely made the right decision to retain counsel. Therefore, do not be surprised, if he declines to answer questions at the deposition on the ground that his answers might tend to incriminate him.


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