April 22, 2009

Reports & Computer Skills


This story by the Washington Post was about a 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer after he was accused of stealing a bike. The incident brought a lot of uproar to the community. The police were not open about what exactly happened. They did, however, pay for the boy’s funeral, which caused an even greater amount of turmoil. Officials said their hands were tied by federal grand jury secrecy rules that ordinarily do not apply to local police shooting cases.

The Washington Post investigated the police records of the shooting and found many missteps by the police that had not surfaced before. For example the officers involved in the shooting didn't identify themselves as police officers, didn't attend to the wounded suspect and fled the scene.

Also, the officers said that the boy fired first, causing them to fire back at him, which lead to his death. However, records said no gun was found.

The actual events of this crime may have never come forward if it weren’t for the journalists who investigated the records. They had to be suspicious and look deep to find what really occurred that evening.

This article includes an interactive timeline of the boy’s shooting. It goes through the steps in which the incident took place. By clicking on parts of the timeline, additional information comes up. This is a great visual tool for readers to gather more information about exactly how the shooting took place.

12-year-old boy charged with murder of 10-month-old baby

HOUSTON – The Star Tribune reported that a 12-year-old boy killed a 10-month-old baby after throwing it to the floor when left unsupervised on Wednesday.

The 12-year-old, who is unnamed because of his age, is being held in juvenile detention, the Star Tribune said.

The 10-month old, Deandre Washington, was injured on March 12 and taken to the hospital where he died two days later, the Star Tribune said.

Authorities do not know if the 12-year-old was left in charge. He was the oldest of the children in the home when the incident occurred. Exactly how many children were present is unknown.

The Star Tribune reported that the boy was not in school that day because he had been suspended for fighting.

The boy’s mother, Tawanna Scott, and Deandre’s mother, left the 12-year-old unsupervised with other children in the home. The two mothers returned home after the boy called and said Deandre wasn’t breathing, Child Protective Services spokeswoman Estella Olguin said. They called 911 after returning home. The other children witnessed the 12-year-old throw the baby on the floor, she said.

Deandre suffered two skull fractures and bleeding in multiple organs, the Star Tribune said.

The 12-year-old’s mother, Scott, told Houston television station KHOU-TV that police said her son confessed to throwing the child on the floor. However, he denied it to her. She also said that if he did throw the baby, it was an accident, the Star Tribune said.

The name of Deandre’s mother has not been released.

The CPS has not taken any of the children into custody from either mother. It is legal to leave children alone as long as one child is 12 or older, the Star Tribune said.

The Star Tribune reported that the boy could receive a maximum 40 years in prison, probation or commitment to the Texas Youth Commission system, Bill Moore, the chief of the juvenile division for the Harris County District Attorney's Office, said.

The minimum age to be certified as an adult in Texas is 14, the Star Tribune said.

A decision of whether to present the case to the grand jury or juvenile court has not been decided, Moore said.

April 21, 2009

Man pretending to fall of bridge, falls

The Star Tribune reported that a 23-year-old man, who pretended to fall off a bridge over the Minnesota River, actually fell. He is in stable condition.

Bloomington police received a call from a 21-year-old man just before 5 a.m. on Sunday saying his friend had fallen off the Highway 77 bridge into the river below. The man who made the call told police he had been driving north when his friend, who had been drinking, told him to pull over into the emergency lane so he could urinate, the Star Tribune said.

The 23-year-old climbed to the edge of the bridge and pretended he was going to fall. He then fell.

Bloomington and Eagan police responded to the incident. The Eagan Fire Department used a chair lift to retrieve the man from the river. The man is being treated for serious injuries at the Hennepin County Medical Center, the Star Tribune said.

London taxi driver jailed for drugging and assulting female passengers

The Star Tribune reported a London taxi driver who repeatedly drugged and sexually assaulted female passengers was sentenced Tuesday to at least eight years in prison.

John Worboys, 51, of Rotherhithe, London, offered his female passengers champagne, claiming he had won cash gambling and invited the women to celebrate with him by having a drink. There were sedatives mixed in with the champagne, the Star Tribune said.

The BBC News reported Worboys was convicted of one rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted assault and 12 drugging charges committed from July 2007 to February 2008.

Worboys targeted single women how had been out drinking in London's West End, the BBC said.

The Star Tribune reported that some of the women had seamen stains on their clothes and police found DNA from other victims at Worboys’ home.

The Star Tribune reported that Worboys has been linked to at least 85 crimes. He was found guilty last month of assaulting 12 women after denying the charges.

Worboys’ assaults were particularly upsetting because they happened inside one of London’s black cabs, which are known to be a safe alternative to unregulated cabs, The Star Tribune said.

Justice David Penry-Davey told Worboys that “drivers of licensed black cabs have a worldwide reputation for their trustworthiness - you saw the opportunity of exploiting that trust and sexually abusing young women.”

The Star Tribune reported that Worboys’ assaults could have been stopped when he was arrested in July 2007 after a 19-year-old student reported Worboys forcing her to take a pill after the two shared a drink. Police did not perform drug tests or search Worboys’ home or car.

Worboys was released on bail after the 2007 attack and went on to commit 14 further offences, the BCC News said.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating why he was released.

Worboys has been banned serving as a taxi driver. The money he had raised from the black cab will be split among the victims.

April 20, 2009

Man arrested for killing in Boston hotel

BOSTON – The New York Times reported a medical student was arrested Monday in connection with the killing of one woman and attacking another who had advertised massage services on Craigslist.

The man was identified as Philip Markoff, 22, of Quincy. He is a second-year medical student at Boston University, a university spokesman told the New York Times.

Markoff is charged with shooting to death Julissa Brisman, 26, on April 14 in her hotel room at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. He is also charged with robbing another woman at gunpoint in her hotel room at the Westin Copley Place on April 10, The New York Times said.

The New York Times reported that both the crimes were highly publicized. More than 150 people had called in with tips, Daniel F. Conley, the Suffolk County district attorney, said.

Markoff’s arraingment is Tuesday morning in the Boston Mancipual Court. At a news conference, Conley said he hopes other potential victims will come forward.

Conley said the arrest was based on “a myriad of evidence,” and that the investigation involved connecting IP addresses to physical locations.

The New York Times reported that police are also investigating whether Markoff tired to rob another woman at gunpoint on Thursday at the Holiday Inn Express in Warwick, R.I. This woman had also advertised massage services of Craigslist.

Frames from the security cameras in Warwick were released Monday. The man appeared to resemble the one captured on the security cameras at both the Marriott and the Westin hotels on the nights of the Boston crimes, The New York Times said.

Minneapolis man shoots girlfriend then shots self

The Star Tribune reported a Minneapolis man shot and killed his girlfriend of a year outside a Maple Groove McDonald’s on Sunday, then committed suicide on a nearby freeway only minutes after.

Dozens of customers, including children, were inside the McDonald’s restaurant when the woman approached and was shot twice by a shotgun, the Start Tribune said.

Maple Groove police received several 911 calls just before 2 p.m. from customers who were at the McDonald’s located on Sycamore Lane N. when the shooting took place. After first shot was fired, witnesses saw the woman fall towards the curb, Maple Grove police Capt. Tracy Stille said. The man then approached the woman and shot her again at a very close range.

The man then fled to a white vehicle. Many witnesses scrambled to get the license plate number.

Stille told the Star Tribune that the man and woman arrived separately to end a year long on-again, off-again relationship. Their names have not been released, but police described them as metro-area residents in their 20s.

The Star Tribune reported that a Brooklyn Park police officer was waiting for the suspect driving the described vehicle speeding along Interstate 694.

Stille told the Star Tribune that about six minutes after the initial 911 calls, the officer pulled the suspect over on 694 at the border of Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center. The officer approached the car and found the suspect dead, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The officer did not see or hear the shooting, but a rifle was found inside the car.

While authorities searched the scene of the McDonald’s parking lot for any further damages to the surrounding cars, the woman’s body lay covered for several hours. It’s unclear how many shots were fired, the Star Tribune said.

The woman’s 9-month-old daughter and several grieving family members arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting and were interviewed by police. Friends and family members declined to comment, the Star Tribune said.

April 18, 2009

Bail denied for man accused of killing three

The Star Tribune reported an Illinois man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend’s sister, grandmother and father was denied bail.

A judge in Rolling Meadows held D'andre Howard, 20, Saturday without bond in the stabbing of Laura Engelhardt, 18, Alan Engelhardt, 57, and Marlene Gacek, 73, the Star Tribune said.

Howard, of Hoffman Estates, which is about 20 miles northwest of Chicago, was charged with three counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide and one count of unlawful restraint.

The Star Tribune reported Howard did not appear at the hearing because he was being treated for the injuries he sustained while fighting with the victims on Friday.

Prosecutors said Howard followed his girlfriend to her family’s home after she left him over suspicions of infidelity, the Star Tribune said.

Maple Groove man charged with beating kitten

The Star Tribune reported that a Maple Groove man was charged after beating his girlfriend’s cat, which had to be euthanized, and the disappearance of three other cats she owned.

Ryan J. Wolcott, 24, was charged in Dakota County District Court with the abandonment or an animal, which is a misdemeanor, and with mistreatment of an animal, a felony. According to court documents, Wolcott admitted to squeezing and hitting his girlfriend’s female cat against the bathtub in November. His girlfriend found the cat unresponsive, the Star Tribune said.

The Star Tribune reported that Wolcott’s girlfriend brought the cat, Mayzie, to a veterinary clinic in Eagan. She told clinic officials that she thought her boyfriend might be responsible. After the cat was placed on respiratory, it was euthanized. An autopsy showed that Mayzie suffered from multiple head injuries and deep abdominal bruising.

The veterinarian shared these results with the Eagan animal control officer in early December, and an investigation began, the Star Tribune said.

The women, whose name was not disclosed, told police her boyfriend had been living with her since early 2008. Three cats had disappeared since Wolcott moved in with her, the Star Tribune said.

Wolcott’s girlfriend told police that Wolcott sprayed his fingers with pepper spray and dabbed the kitten’s eyes. Wolcott told police he gave the kitten away. He also told police he left the other two cats in an Egan field.

April 15, 2009

Most-wanted Colombian drug-trafficker captured

The Associated Press reported that Colombian officials said that one of the most wanted drug dealers in Colombia, who was accused of offering his assassins a $1,000 bounty for each police officer they killed, was arrested Wednesday.

Daniel Rendon Herrera, 43, better known by his alias, "Don Mario," was arrested in the city of Apartado in a jungle raid involving over 300 police officers, presidential spokesman Cesar Velasquez told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Brazil.

Herrera is wanted in the United States on drug-trafficking charges as well, Drug Enforcement Administration Chief of Intelligence Anthony Placido said.

The Associated Press reported that Colombian officials were offering a $2 million reward for information leading to Herrera’s arrest. Police said Herrera was the main leader of Colombia’s drug-trafficking, right-wing paramilitary groups.

Police accused Herrera of offering his assassins $1,000 for every police officer they killed, the Associated Press said.

In the 1980s far-right paramilitary groups were formed to counter leftist rebel groups’ acts of kidnapping and extortion. These two groups eventually evolved into regional mafias, the Associated Press said.

The Associated press reported that these two groups are accused of committing over 10,000 murders and stealing millions of acres of land, sometimes with the help of local political, business and military leaders.

President Alvaro Uribe announced Herrera’s capture without saying his name. He told reporters that they had captured "one of the most feared drug traffickers in the world ... after long months of patient pursuit."

April 14, 2009

Northfield man sentenced 8 years in torturing disabled man

KSPT TV reported one of five people accused of luring a disabled Lakeville man and beating him plead guilty Tuesday for the brutal October attacks.

John Maxwell Maniglia, 20, of Northfield, pled guilty to third-degree assault, kidnapping, and theft Tuesday morning in Dakota County District in connection to a series of violent crimes against Justin Hamilton, 24, of Lakeville the Star Tribune said.

Maniglia and four other others were charged in connection with beating and torturing Hamilton on two separate occasions of Oct. 10 and 11 of last year. Hamilton, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, was lured by Maniglia, Natasha Dahn, Jonathon Diepold, John Ketterling and Glen Ries to a rural area in Waterford Township and tortured him for hours, police said.

The beatings were initiated after Dahn, 16, told Maniglia that Hamilton assaulted her. Dahn plead guilty last November to four felonies and received juvenile detention, the Star Tribune said.

The Star Tribune reported Diepold, 21, of Northfield, faces 10 felony counts, including kidnapping, assault and robbery. Ries, 33, also of Northfield, faces five counts on similar charges and has been fired from working with disabled adults in Northfield. Ketterling, 21, of Prior Lake, is charged with false imprisonment, theft and third-degree assault.

Judge Timothy Wermerger told KSPT Maniglia will serve eight years in prison, which is double the usual punishment based on unusual cruelty.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said Maniglia’s sentenced was doubled because Hamilton is still suffering emotional distress from the torture. He has since recovered from the physical injuries including deep cuts, bruises, cuts, burns and two broken ribs.

Officials told KSPT Maniglia is a member of the Minnesota National Guard. His full sentencing is scheduled for June 15, KSPT said.

April 13, 2009

Passenger lands plane after pilot dies

FORT MYERS – The Associated Press reported that a passenger landed a twin-engine plane in Florida after the pilot died mid-air.

The Beechcraft King Air 200 twin-engine plane, carrying five people, took off from Marco Island Executive Airport on Sunday. The pilot, whose name has not been released, died shortly after take-off as the plane was in the process of climbing to 10,000 feet, Steven Wallace, a representative for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association in Miami, told the Naple News.

The pilot checked in with Miami air control tower once the plane took off.

“Our controller who was working the afternoon rush tried to acknowledge him and give him climbing instructions and he never responded to us,” Wallace said.

Later, another voice came on the radio from the plane, who said the pilot had passed out and the plane was still climbing on auto-pilot. Several controllers continued to direct the normal Sunday air traffic flow while assisting the King Air’s decent to the Southwest Florida International Airport, which was the nearest runway at the time, the Naple News said.

The passenger that took control and safely landed the plane had flying experience, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. He is licensed for single-engine planes and has been flying since 1990. However, he was not certified to fly a twin-engine plane like the King Air.

The Naple News reported that in order to help instruct the passenger to land the plane, one air traffic controller got on the phone with a friend in Connecticut who is rated to fly the King Air aircraft.

While on the phone with the friend, the controller radioed information to the passenger that helped land the plane safely at Southwest Florida International, the Naple News said.

“Controllers are a unique bunch of folks,” Wallace said. “Not all of them know how to fly, but when it comes to crunch time, you pull all of your resources together.”

The plane had been headed to Jackson, Miss. The names of the pilot and passengers have not been released.

April 10, 2009


I found an article by the AP about a 73-year-old black man who was shot by two white police officers in Homer, La., a small town of 3,800 people. The shooting has caused much racial tension in the town. The reporter reported the details of the story. She did not stereotype, yet it's such a controversial topic. There's so many fingers pointed within the story, but this is unavoidable, since the people of the town, both black and white, feel so strongly about the incident. The reporter did a great job of reporting the facts, leaving her own beliefs and feelings out, but capturing the town's emotions. The story reinforces that racism still exists through showing, rather than telling. She used quotes from police officers, both black and white. She also used quotes from neighbors who witnessed the shooting. And from family members and people of the community to describe the victim shot. The description of the man, gathered from family and the community, really showed what kind of person he was. The reporter used much observation that she gained herself, and also information from people's observations around her.


Twister kills 3 in Ark. town

MENA, Ark. – A twister took a “direct hit” Thursday evening on an Arkansas town, killing three and injuring more than 30 people.

The twister hit Mena shortly after 8 p.m. on Thursday after a series of sirens rung throw the town, the New York Times said.

The New York Times reported that trees were ripped up, houses collapsed, roofs were missing, and businesses were destroyed.

“It just looks like a war zone,” Mayor George McKee said.

Thurman Allen, 79, is member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a charitable group in Mena. He told New York Times that the group had just sat down for their twice-monthly meeting at the Masonic lodge when the last siren sounded.

There were 19 people attending the meeting. Before they could take cover, the roof was ripped off.

“I was down on the floor – I just flattened,” Allen said.

One woman was killed by debris during the meeting.

Another resident, Marion Boyt, 76, said he survived by hiding with his son and daughter-in-law in a closet. Boyt said that another resident died after a two-story building collapsed, the New York Times said.

The third body was found in her front yard, county's emergency coordinator James Reeves said. The names of those killed have not been released because families are still being notified.

National guard troops helped this city of 5,700 while working overnight to fix ruptured gas lines, downed power lines, fallen trees and heavily damaged buildings, the New York Times said.

The New York Times reported emergency workers went from door-to-door to check on residents. No missing people were reported.

Prosecutor Tim Williamson said the county jail was “uninhabitable.” Inmates were transferred to nearby counties, the office of County Judge Ray Stanley said.

The violent storm affected nearby cities in Arkansas, Oklahoma and near the Louisiana border, the New York Times said.

The New York Times reported the injured people were taken to the Mena Medical Center for treatment.

Reeves said he had never seen such a powerful storm hit the tornado-prone region, the New York Times said.

“Not in my lifetime,” he told the New York Times. “The last tornado we had to hit the city of Mena was in November 1993. This time we had significant structures (hit).”

April 9, 2009

Father demands release of Am. jouranlist imprisioned in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran - The Star Tribune reported the father of an American journalist imprisoned in Iran and charged with espionage said Thursday that he will not leave the country until his daughter is released.

Roxana Saberi, 31, is a dual American-Iranian citizen. She was arrested in late January and was accused of working without press credentials. On Wednesday, an Iranian judge charged Saberi with spying for the United States, the Star Tribune said.

“I demand them to release my daughter as soon as possible so that she can return to her normal life and continue her job,” Saberi's father told The Associated Press. “I will stay here until she is freed.”

Saberi has been living in Iran for the last six years, working as a freelance reporter. She has reported for organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp., the Star Tribune said.

The Star Tribune reported that the U.S. government has been pressing for Saberi’s release.

The U.S. government said Saberi is an American citizen. Although she grew up in Fargo, N.D., the Iranian judge told TV that they have not confirmed her American nationality, the Star Tribune said.

“She is certainly an American national,” her father told Star Tribune. “She also came to Iran and received an Iranian ID card and passport and according to Iranian law, she is Iranian too. She is actually a dual citizen.”

The Star Tribune reported that Iran accused Saberi of passing classified information to U.S. intelligence services.

“Under the cover of a journalist, she visited government buildings, established contacts with some of the employees, gathered classified information and sent it to the U.S. intelligence services,” the Iranian judge said Wednesday. “Her activities were discovered by the counterespionage department of the Intelligence Ministry,” he added.

Saberi’s father, Reza Saberi, was born in Iran. Him and his wife arrived in Iran Sunday and visited their daughter Monday at the Evin prison located north of Tehran. Evin is well known for holding political prisoners, the Star Tribune said.

Saberi’s parents were allowed to visit Monday for about 20 minutes. After visiting his daughter, Reza said she was “spiritually better than before” and that he has hope.

Human rights groups have criticized Iran for arresting journalists, saying it suppresses the freedom of speech. Iran has arrested several Iranian-American journalists in the past few years, accusing them of attempting to overthrow the Iranian government.

April 8, 2009

3 Big Lake Township residents injured in gas explosion

The Star Tribune reported that three people were injured Wednesday when a home exploded and caught fire in Big Lake Township.

Laddy Cusick, 79, and his wife, Ramona, 79, were moving into their new home from Arizona to be closer to their family. The Sherburne County Sheriff reported the couple smelt gas at the home while visiting on Monday. A repairman visited several times and said nothing was wrong, according to the Star Tribune.

As the couple continued to move in on Wednesday with the help of another couple, Chester and Marianne Richardson, they could smell gas again. After opening the garage door to air out the smell, they continued to move into the new home.

Shortly after, the explosion occurred when the two women were inside and the men were outside, the Star Tribune said.

Laddy Cusick ran in and got one woman out. Then he returned into the burning home to get the other woman.

“He probably saved both of their lives,” Barry Anderson, Ramona Cusick's son, said from his home in the Seattle area.

The Star Tribune reported the couples were airlifted to different hospitals.

Marianne Richardson was reported in serious condition at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Laddy and Ramona Cusick were taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Ramona was reported in serious condition, while Laddy was reported in stable condition.

Officials are investigating the explosion and fire, the Star Tribune said.