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Cleared of murder, man starts fresh 24 years later
The day Jonathan Fleming was cleared of the murder that put him behind bars for almost 25 years, he strode out of a courthouse to congratulations from passers-by, a steak dinner with his family and the start of a new life.

The weeks since have been a mix of emotional highs and practical frustrations. He spent an evening as a VIP guest at a boxing match and slept that night on a cousin's couch. He marveled at strangers donating thousands of dollars to help him, but doesn't yet have a place of his own.

He had a first-ever meeting with a son he learned was his while in prison, even as he prepares to visit another son serving a prison term of his own.

"Coming back, you know, it's been hard. ... It's a lot to have to catch up on," Fleming says. But, he says, "I'm looking forward to it. Because I'm just so happy to be out here."

Fleming was cleared April 8 after prosecutors said they now believe what he had been saying all along: that he was on a family vacation in Disney World when a friend was shot dead in Brooklyn in 1989.

Defense investigators located witnesses who said Fleming wasn't the gunman. And prosecutors found previously undisclosed documents in their own files that supported Fleming's alibi, including a hotel phone bill he paid in Orlando, Fla., about five hours before the shooting.

During his years in prison, Fleming wrote letters to prosecutors, meditated, took vocational courses, and logged disciplinary penalties for drug possession, creating disturbances and other infractions. He says he gave up being angry about his conviction but never lost hope he'd be freed.

When the word finally came, "the feeling — you have no idea," he says. "I just sat down on my bed, and I cried."

After dropping into 2014 from 1989, Fleming spent a recent day opening the first bank account he's had in his 51 years, learned to use his new iPhone, and got an email address set up by one of his lawyers.

It has a "14" in it, for the year he was freed.

"Should have said '24' — the years that I did," he said, and laughed.

For all he had to celebrate, Fleming also was facing a struggle to get on his feet. He left prison with less than $100 and no permanent home. He's getting divorced from his second wife, and his ailing, 71-year-old mother in Brooklyn can't take him in because she is already accommodating other relatives.

Lawyers Taylor Koss and Anthony Mayol plan to file false-conviction suits that could eventually net substantial sums, and a stranger launched an online campaign that has raised more than $32,000 for Fleming so far. To get by in the meantime, Fleming has signed up for food stamps and taken out a loan against a potential lawsuit settlement.

Fleming is among more than 1,350 inmates exonerated nationwide in the last 25 years. Studies have found those exonerated often confront challenges finding jobs and housing, rebuilding family relationships and grappling with the psychological legacies of their experiences.

One legacy that haunts Fleming is regret over his 33-year-old son in prison, the one he left behind when he was arrested. The Disney World trip had been that son's ninth birthday present.

"Sometimes I feel like I failed him because I really feel if I was out there, I don't think he'd be in prison now," says Fleming, who is planning a visit.

He's also been reconnecting with his other three sons, including one born while he was in prison and a 32-year-old son he didn't know he had until after he was behind bars. Fleming visited him and his family in Pennsylvania.

"They had a cookout," he says. "Made me really feel at home."

Fleming doesn't want to talk about his life before his arrest. He'd had other brushes with the law; prison system records show he had served about a year in an auto-theft case.

What he will say is: "I'm not going to pick up where I left off. It's a new day."

"A New Day" is his working title for a book he started writing in prison and hopes to publish someday. He also wants to go to college, maybe law school, to help other inmates challenge convictions and to advise young people about staying out of trouble.

"I'm excited to move forward," Fleming says. "Because I know God has a plan for me."
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AP Apr-24-2014 61 0
The day Jonathan Fleming was cleared of the murder that put him behind bars for almost 25 years, he strode out of a courthouse to congratulations from passers-by, a steak dinner with his family and the start of a new life.

The weeks since have been a mix of emotional highs and practical frustrations. He spent an evening as a VIP guest at a boxing match and slept that night on a cousin's couch. He marveled at strangers donating thousands of dollars to help him, but doesn't yet have a place of his own.

He had a first-ever meeting with a son he learned was his while in prison, even as he prepares to visit another son serving a prison term of his own.

"Coming back, you know, it's been hard. ... It's a lot to have to catch up on," Fleming says. But, he says, "I'm looking forward to it. Because I'm just so happy to be out here."

Fleming was cleared April 8 after prosecutors said they now believe what he had been saying all along: that he was on a family vacation in Disney World when a friend was shot dead in Brooklyn in 1989.

Defense investigators located witnesses who said Fleming wasn't the gunman. And prosecutors found previously undisclosed documents in their own files that supported Fleming's alibi, including a hotel phone bill he paid in Orlando, Fla., about five hours before the shooting.

During his years in prison, Fleming wrote letters to prosecutors, meditated, took vocational courses, and logged disciplinary penalties for drug possession, creating disturbances and other infractions. He says he gave up being angry about his conviction but never lost hope he'd be freed.

When the word finally came, "the feeling — you have no idea," he says. "I just sat down on my bed, and I cried."

After dropping into 2014 from 1989, Fleming spent a recent day opening the first bank account he's had in his 51 years, learned to use his new iPhone, and got an email address set up by one of his lawyers.

It has a "14" in it, for the year he was freed.

"Should have said '24' — the years that I did," he said, and laughed.

For all he had to celebrate, Fleming also was facing a struggle to get on his feet. He left prison with less than $100 and no permanent home. He's getting divorced from his second wife, and his ailing, 71-year-old mother in Brooklyn can't take him in because she is already accommodating other relatives.

Lawyers Taylor Koss and Anthony Mayol plan to file false-conviction suits that could eventually net substantial sums, and a stranger launched an online campaign that has raised more than $32,000 for Fleming so far. To get by in the meantime, Fleming has signed up for food stamps and taken out a loan against a potential lawsuit settlement.

Fleming is among more than 1,350 inmates exonerated nationwide in the last 25 years. Studies have found those exonerated often confront challenges finding jobs and housing, rebuilding family relationships and grappling with the psychological legacies of their experiences.

One legacy that haunts Fleming is regret over his 33-year-old son in prison, the one he left behind when he was arrested. The Disney World trip had been that son's ninth birthday present.

"Sometimes I feel like I failed him because I really feel if I was out there, I don't think he'd be in prison now," says Fleming, who is planning a visit.

He's also been reconnecting with his other three sons, including one born while he was in prison and a 32-year-old son he didn't know he had until after he was behind bars. Fleming visited him and his family in Pennsylvania.

"They had a cookout," he says. "Made me really feel at home."

Fleming doesn't want to talk about his life before his arrest. He'd had other brushes with the law; prison system records show he had served about a year in an auto-theft case.

What he will say is: "I'm not going to pick up where I left off. It's a new day."

"A New Day" is his working title for a book he started writing in prison and hopes to publish someday. He also wants to go to college, maybe law school, to help other inmates challenge convictions and to advise young people about staying out of trouble.

"I'm excited to move forward," Fleming says. "Because I know God has a plan for me."

Apr-23-2014 82 0
Police at the University of Massachusetts Boston have charged a student in connection with two bomb threats called into the school in the past week.

Dean Beckford, a 29-year-old senior at the school, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and has been charged with two counts of making a bomb threat, according to UMass Boston Police Chief Donald Baynard.

The threats occurred on Thursday, April 17, and Tuesday, April 22, which raised already high tensions surrounding the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing and the latest running of the race on Monday.

In both incidents, a call was received at about 12:45 p.m. at a dean's office in Wheatley Hall, the target of the threats, claiming an imminent danger of an explosion in the building, police said.

Both times, police immediately evacuated the targeted building and performed a search with bomb squads. No devices were ever found.

Investigators reportedly tracked calls from pay phones outside two train stations and then used surveillance video to identify the suspect — who was arrested as he arrived on campus, according to NBC’s Boston affiliate WHDH.

“I hope this will be a clear and resounding message that we take these types of actions very seriously and will aggressively investigate and pursue criminal charges when unfounded threats are made to the safety of the campus,” Baynard said in a statement.

A judge issued $20,000 cash bail for Beckford and ordered that he wear a GPS device, WHDH reported.

Apr-23-2014 126 0
A Shreveport woman said a nail tech from Style Nails in Shreveport crossed the line during a pedicure, and that she has cell phone video to prove it.

The incident took place last Friday at the nail shop located on Youree Drive. According to Lawanda Warren, a male nail tech fondled and groped her leg while giving her a pedicure.

"The massage kind of got weird because he went up my legs, and he kept going up, and up, and then he was up under the towel and then he was just groping my thighs," Warren said.

That's when she started recording a video of the pedicure using her cell phone.

We talked to nail tech Huey Tran at Style Nails and he said he did not do anything wrong.

"I pull the towel for her, and be done," Tran said.

The video shows him just massaging Warren's legs, but not in a sexual manner, he said.

A longtime customer at the nail salon said nothing like that has ever happened to her at Style Nails.

"I always wear pants, but if a person came in with a towel or skirt then they would put a towel over their legs and that is as far as it has ever gone," said Karen Emerson, who has been a customer of Style Nails for nine years, and has never had an inappropriate incident.

The Shreveport Police Department confirmed that a police report was filed concerning the incident. The allegations are still under investigation.

Apr-23-2014 110 0
Danville, VA - What started out as a seemingly innocent ad for a rental home, ended with offensive results for a Danville woman.

In September, Shawnda Watkins reached out to John Matthews III about renting a trailer from him, but she says he told her it was already taken.

Minutes later, the woman had a friend - who is white - ask about the same property and she says Matthews offered it to her readily.
"We thought that it was a terrible set of circumstances that had occurred, " said attorney Steven Gould.

Watkins had been trying to rent one of John Matthews' trailers in Caswell County. Gould says when she called him out on lying to her about the property, Matthews said he could rent to whomever he wanted, but that's not exactly true.

"The fair housing act says that if you rent a certain number of units or homes to the public then you are not able to discriminate based on the categories of race and sex and religion, "

When Housing Opportunities Made Equal learned about the situation they decided to set up a blind test.

They used trained decoys to call Matthews with similar backgrounds - but one was black and one was white. What they found shocked them.

"Often it's very hard to detect, but in this case it was very clear, " said HOME's VA President and CEO Heather Crislip.

According to court records, Matthews discouraged the black potential applicant, even using the n-word to describe some previous tenants.

HOME filed a lawsuit against Matthews and won $25,000 in damages. Watkins is still in pending litigation.

Matthews could not be reached for comment, but Gould and HOME leaders say they are glad to see justice served.

"It gives us the opportunity to talk about fair housing but it is disappointing that this kind of racial discrimination still goes on, " said Crislip.

"We need to do everything we can to send a message to folks that that's just not going to be permitted to stand in our community, " Gould said.

HOME plans to use the $25,000 they were awarded to continue educating the community on fair housing rights and practices.


Liat Kornowski Apr-23-2014 107 0
It's official: Lupita Nyong'o is People magazine's Most Beautiful Person for 2014, besting other gorgeous ladies like Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts and Julianna Margulies.

The annual Most Beautiful cover was unveiled on the Today show Wednesday, April 23:

This should come as no surprise to the magazine's readers (and to the world, really), and it's not only because Nyong'o is breathtakingly beautiful. The breakout star of "12 Years a Slave," this year's Best Picture, won an Oscar herself for Best Supporting Actress. She soon after inked a contract with Lancome Paris and constantly lands on "best dressed" lists with every red carpet appearance.

But it's the Kenyan Mexican actress' reaction to the new honor that captures her the most. "It was exciting and just a major, major compliment," Nyong'o told People after learning she's gracing this year's cover. "I was happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen."

The humble yet powerful sentiment seems to be a constant when it comes to the 31-year-old, whose speeches have become as much an inspiration as they are a gracious thanks. At the Academy Awards, she wrapped her speech up with the memorable, "I look down at this golden statue, and may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."

Upon winning the Best Breakthrough Performance Award at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in February, Nyong'o moved the audience by saying:

"I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty. Black beauty. Dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: 'Dear Lupita,' it reads, 'I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia's Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.'"

"I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin," Nyong'o added, wrapping her speech up with: "I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty."

Nina Golgowski Apr-23-2014 96 0
An infant baby boy was discovered in a bloody South Carolina trash can after his mother allegedly threw him away after giving birth, according to police.

The newborn, wrapped in a plastic grocery bag and a pink blanket, was dug up from the bin alive by Greenville officers around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

WYFF reports that it was a nearby homeowner who called 911 after spotting the curious amount of blood.

"We found what looked to be blood outside of a trash can, and a little bit on the ground," Officer Jonathan Bragg told WYFF of their response. "At that point we started digging around and found the newborn inside the trash can."

The child's mother, identified as Sharon Ferguson, was arrested nearby and charged with attempted murder and unlawful neglect of a child, according to police.

She allegedly admitted to giving birth to the boy on Monday and then discarding him in the bin.

A family spokesman told WFYY that Ferguson is homeless and suffers a "diagnosed mental illness."

The infant was described by police as in stable condition after EMS rendered aid at the scene.



AP Apr-22-2014 108 0
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmation action in admissions to the state’s public universities, in a fractured decision that revealed deep divisions among the justices over what role the government should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities.

The 6-to-2 ruling effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states and may encourage additional measures banning the use of race in admissions. States that forbid affirmative action in admissions decisions, like Texas, Florida and California, as well as Michigan, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in their most selective colleges and universities.

In five opinions spanning more than 100 pages, the justices set out starkly conflicting views. The justices in the majority, with varying degrees of vehemence, said that policies affecting minorities that do not involve intentional discrimination should ordinarily be decided at the ballot box rather than in the courtroom.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in the longest and most significant dissent of her career, said the Constitution required special vigilance in light of the history of slavery, Jim Crow and “recent examples of discriminatory changes to state voting laws.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s controlling opinion for three justices took pains to say that the decision was a modest one.

“This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved,” he wrote, in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “It is about who may resolve it. There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court’s precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters.”

His announcement of the decision from the bench was businesslike. Then Justice Sotomayor summarized her dissent, an unusual move signaling deep displeasure. She said the initiative put minorities to a burden not faced by other college applicants and so violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

“The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat,” she wrote. “But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the dissent.

Justice Sotomayor seemed to mock one of Chief Justice Roberts’s most memorable lines. In a 2007 decision that limited the use of race in public school systems, he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Justice Sotomayor recast the line. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” she wrote, “is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”

Chief Justice Roberts responded in a brief concurrence, saying that affirmative action, and the stigma that he said could accompany it, may do more harm than good. “People can disagree in good faith on this issue,” he added, “but it similarly does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate.”

In earlier cases, including one from June concerning the University of Texas, the court has said that race-conscious admissions policies can be constitutionally permissible in states that wish to use them. The new decision concerned the question of whether and how voters may prohibit affirmative action programs.

The Michigan initiative, known as Proposal 2, was a response to Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 Supreme Court decision that upheld the use of race as one factor among many in law school admissions to ensure educational diversity.

Proposal 2, approved in 2006 by 58 percent of Michigan’s voters, amended the state Constitution to prohibit discrimination or preferential treatment in public education, government contracting and public employment. Groups favoring affirmative action sued to block the part of the law concerning higher education.

In 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled by a vote of 8 to 7 that the initiative violated the federal Constitution’s equal protection clause. The appeals court majority said the problem with the law was that it restructured the state’s political process by making it harder for disfavored minorities to press for change.

In both 1969 and 1982 the Supreme Court struck down measures disfavoring minorities on the grounds that they unfairly restructured the political process. Those precedents figured prominently in the majority opinion from the appeals court.

“A student seeking to have her family’s alumni connections considered in her application to one of Michigan’s esteemed public universities could do one of four things to have the school adopt a legacy-conscious admissions policy: she could lobby the admissions committee, she could petition the leadership of the university, she could seek to influence the school’s governing board, or, as a measure of last resort, she could initiate a statewide campaign to alter the state’s Constitution,” Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. wrote for the majority.

“The same cannot be said,” Judge Cole added, “for a black student seeking the adoption of a constitutionally permissible race-conscious admissions policy. That student could do only one thing to effect change: she could attempt to amend the Michigan Constitution — a lengthy, expensive and arduous process — to repeal the consequences of Proposal 2.”

A dissenting member of the appeals court, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, wrote that the majority had it backward. “A state does not deny equal treatment by mandating it,” he said. The majority opinion, he added, “transforms a potential virtue of affirmative action into a vice.”

“If there is one feature of affirmative action programs that favors their constitutionality,” he said, “it is that they grow out of the democratic process.”

The appeals court’s decision divided along partisan lines. The eight judges in the majority were all nominated by Democratic presidents, and the seven judges in dissent were all nominated by Republican presidents. (Judge Helene N. White, who was in the majority, was initially nominated by President Bill Clinton and was later renominated by President George W. Bush as part of a compromise involving several nominations.)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, upheld California’s ban on racial preferences in 1997, saying it “would be paradoxical” to rule otherwise. The court reaffirmed that ruling in 2010.

AP Apr-22-2014 166 0
Four men accused of punching and kicking a motorist who accidentally struck a 10-year-old Detroit boy were ordered Monday to stand trial on attempted murder charges, after a judge reviewed their statements to police and witnesses testified about the chaotic mob attack.

As Steve Utash continued to recover in a hospital bed, Judge Thomas Jackson found probable cause to move the case to trial in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey introduced statements to police from Latrez Cummings, 19, James Davis, 24, and Wonzey Saffold, 30, all acknowledging a role in the April 2 attack. They were ordered to trial, along with Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17, who waived the hearing.

“I pray for the man every day. I hope him and the boy are going to be OK,” Cummings told police, according to Lindsey.

Witnesses to the attack described a chaotic scene.

Steve Utash, 54, was critically injured by an angry mob who attacked him on a Detroit street after the man stopped to check on a child he accidentally hit with his truck.

“They were hollerin’ and screamin’, ‘Oh, my God, get him, get him,”’ witness Deborah Hughes testified.

Hughes, a nurse, is credited with rushing to the boy’s side and also intervening to save Utash from further injuries. She said Cummings likely kicked the victim at least 10 times.

Another witness, Ashley Daniels, said Utash was attacked after he got out of his pickup to check on the boy. She said he was stumbling and his hat was knocked off after some early blows.

Daniels said Utash was dared to pick up his hat before he was hit again.

“He fell. He got up again,” she said. “It was like he was almost accepting it.”

Statements to police indicate that three of four men recognized the boy and had revenge on their mind.

“I saw the little boy on the ground ... and I lost it,” Saffold told investigators.

Utash, 54, of Macomb County’s Clinton Township, is a tree trimmer who was familiar with the east side Detroit neighborhood where a boy darted out in front of his pickup. He spent days in a coma after the beating.

Utash’s family sat in the front row of the courtroom, while relatives of the accused men sat directly behind them in three rows. There were deep sighs, sobbing and muffled utterances of “liar” during the testimony. Some spectators were ejected by sheriff’s deputies.

Jackson noted that the legal threshold to keep the case moving at this stage is low. Defense attorneys said Utash’s injuries were awful but an attempted murder charge was too severe.

“One or two may not be enough to kill anyone,” the judge said of punches and kicks, “but a combination may be enough to cause one’s death.”

Separately, a 16-year-old boy is charged in Juvenile Court with assault and ethnic intimidation in the case. He and the other defendants are black; Utash is white.

Outside court, Utash’s brother-in-law Max Mohr said Utash is struggling and disoriented in the hospital. He said Utash tried to walk with the help of nurses but lasted only a few steps.

“He’s not the Steve I know — not even close,” Mohr said.



AP Apr-21-2014 145 0
A national fraternity group has closed its University of Mississippi chapter after three members were accused of tying a noose around the neck of a statue of the first black student to enroll in the Southern college that was all-white at the time.

The university announced Thursday that the national office of Sigma Phi Epsilon, based in Richmond, Va., had closed its Ole Miss chapter.

Besides the noose, someone draped a pre-2003 Georgia state flag with a Confederate battle emblem in its design on the face of the James Meredith statue in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 16. Meredith’s enrollment in 1962 set off a violent attack by anti-integration protesters on federal authorities, leaving two people dead and scores injured.

The names of the three students from Georgia haven’t been released. They were kicked out of the chapter, which itself had been suspended pending the review.

Ole Miss spokesman Tom Eppes said university disciplinary proceedings against the three students are ongoing. He also said the FBI is still investigating.

The Lafayette County district attorney has said state charges won’t be brought because no state laws were broken. Mississippi’s hate crime law requires an underlying crime for those additional charges. Because the statute itself wasn’t marred or broken, prosecutors say typical vandalism charges don’t apply.

After the noose was found, the university asked the national headquarters to review the 130-member chapter, which had been on campus since 1987.

“The closure is not a result of what happened with the Meredith statue, but the Meredith statue precipitated the intensive review of how they conduct business,” Blanton said.

Ole Miss and fraternity officials said they found a pattern of underage drinking and hazing which broke both university and Sigma Phi Epsilon rules. University officials said the national office had previously intervened in 2010 to fix similar problems.

“We are disappointed that a pattern of bad behavior and serious, inexcusable hazing occurred within the chapter,” Dean of Students Sparky Reardon said in a statement. “Periodic reports from and meetings with local alumni and national headquarters led us to believe that the chapter was improving.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon CEO Brian Warren said the group had “no choice” but to close the unit.

“Though it’s always painful to close a chapter, these students’ actions clearly illustrate a determination to perpetuate an experience based on risky and unconstructive behavior,” he said in a statement.

Blanton said students currently living in the Sigma Phi Epsilon house on campus would be allowed to stay and eat meals there through the end of the semester, but would not be allowed to have any social activities. After that, he said the university, which owns the land under the house, and the fraternity would discuss uses for the structure.

Sigma Phi officials said they would discuss a return to campus with the university. It’s not clear how long that might take. Blanton said that several years ago, the university did not reinstate the closed chapter of another fraternity until all the members at the time of the closure had graduated.

Administrators have fought against the university’s Old South image, banning Confederate battle flags from football games in 2003 and ditching its Colonel Reb mascot for a black bear in 2010. But those efforts have been undermined by unflattering incidents, such as an election night disturbance in November 2012 when some students used racial slurs and profanity to protest President Barack Obama‘s re-election, or an October 2013 performance of “The Laramie Project” where football players and other students used gay slurs to heckle the play about the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepherd, who was gay.

Mark Morales Apr-21-2014 212 0
An ex-NYPD cop accused of shooting his wife in front of two of their children called her a “whore,” but said he’s “sorry” and that her infidelity drove him to kill, a prosecutor revealed Sunday.

Kevin Canty, 43, made a stunning confession moments after blasting his wife, Jessica Mera, 10 times with a 9-mm. pistol Saturday morning, authorities said.

“I’m sorry,” Canty told a detective driving him from the Queens crime scene to the 102nd Precinct stationhouse for questioning.

“I love my wife. She was cheating on me,” Canty told the detective, a prosecutor revealed at his Easter Sunday arraignment in Queens Criminal Court.

Canty, who retired from the force last year on disability, called his wife a “whore” for having sex with a man he identified to the cop, the prosecutor said. “I know I’m going to jail,” he reportedly said.

Canty let loose the barrage of bullets inside their Ozone Park home — striking Mera, 40, in the stomach, upper chest, breast, arm and armpit, a source said. He was charged Sunday with second-degree murder and criminal use of a firearm.

The couple’s children ran to a store near the family’s home and screamed, “Daddy shot mommy!”

Canty was apparently drunk when he was arrested near 97th and Centreville Sts. shortly after the shooting, police said.

The gunman was there trying to steal a car but was soon confronted by cops who found he still had his weapon with six shots left to fire, investigstors said.

He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted, said Meris Campbell, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Richard Brown.

Daniel Farrell, 55, who lives across the street from the family, said Canty told him in November he had been forced to retire from the NYPD after he tore his rotator cuff while leading self-defense training at the Police Academy. NYPD sources said Canty also had an alcohol problem.

Farrell said he occasionally smelled booze on Canty’s breath and that he knew the cop took painkillers for his shoulder.

“You could smell drink on his breath every now and again,” he said. “He was a quiet guy.”

He said that following the shooting, Canty took off running down the block after his kids.

Farrell said the doomed wife showed up on a neighbor’s doorstep within the past few weeks, banging on the door and saying Canty had had too much to drink and was going to kill her.

A neighbor who asked not to be identified said she would hear the couple yelling and fighting at least once a week. “We tried to block it out, because it’s a common thing,” the neighbor said.



Larry Mcshane Apr-20-2014 146 0
Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, the middleweight contender-turned-murder suspect-turned-cause célèbre when his triple homicide conviction was exposed as a sham, died Sunday. He was 76.

Carter — wrongly jailed for nearly two decades — lost a battle with prostate cancer that dropped the former fighter’s weight to a mere 90 pounds.

He died early Sunday morning in Toronto, according to his longtime friend John Artis, who had been caring for him and was wrongly convicted of the same crime.

The indefatigable Carter was twice wrongfully convicted in the 1966 killings of two customers and a bartender inside the Lafayette Bar & Grill in Paterson, N.J.

It wasn’t until 19 years later that a federal judge overturned his second conviction, ruling the prosecution’s behavior was “as heinous as the crimes for which (Carter was) tried and convicted.”

Carter’s struggle for justice inspired Bob Dylan’s hit single “Hurricane” and a movie of the same name with Denzel Washington, earning him an Oscar nomination in the title role.

Prior to his arrest for the slayings, the New Jersey-born fighter appeared poised for a shot at the middleweight championship.

He was given a title belt by the World Boxing Commission in 1993, acknowledging his lost opportunity and longshot legal triumph.

Carter’s world went topsy-turvy at 2:30 a.m. on June 17, 1966, when two gun-toting black men burst into the Paterson tavern and killed three white victims.

A fourth could not identify Carter and his pal Artis as the shooters after cops stopped the two men inside the boxer’s white Cadillac within hours of the shooting.

Carter maintained that racist local cops, jealous of his high-rolling lifestyle and exasperated by his arrogance, wrongly targeted him for the killings.

He and Artis were arrested for triple homicide five months later based on the sketchy testimony of two petty crooks — one named Arthur Bello.

Both were sentenced to life in prison.
In 1974, Carter’s autobiography “The Sixteenth Round” — written in prison on an old typewriter — was published. The tale attracted the attention and support of Dylan, Muhammad Ali and Coretta Scott King.

Dylan’s lyrics summed up the case:

“Here comes the story of the Hurricane/The man the authorities came to blame/for something that he never done/Put in a prison cell but one time he coulda been/The champion of the world.”

The prosecution witnesses recanted and the convictions were overturned in 1976, with a new trial ordered. And then, incredibly, a second jury convicted Carter and Artis of the killings.

Bello recanted his previous recanting, with cops pressuring him to testify the killings were racially motivated — revenge for the slaying of a black bar owner earlier the same night.

A broken Carter returned to his cell, resigned to his death behind bars. It wasn’t until reading a 1980 letter from a Toronto teen that Carter decided to climb back into the legal ring.

The second wave of support produced new proof of coerced witnesses, forged documents and suppressed evidence. Canadian supporters of Carter spent nearly $1 million on his appeal.

In November 1985, the convictions were overturned by a judge who ruled Carter and Artis were found guilty based on “racism rather than reason.”

Carter’s life was difficult almost from birth. The Clifton, N.J., dropped out of school after the eighth grade. He wound up in reform school at age 11 after stabbing a would-be pedophile trying to molest him.

Carter managed to escape and join the Army, but was arrested after returning to Paterson from Europe. After three years in prison, he fought his first professional bout in 1961.

His nom de ring came from Carter’s relentless style, a full-on assault right from the opening bell.

Carter became an advocate for the wrongly incarcerated and wrote a February column for the Daily News urging a new hearing for Brooklynite David McCallum — jailed for the last 28 years.

While Carter was fighting his last battle with cancer, among those coming to visit was his old co-defendant Artis.



Apr-19-2014 131 0
Judge Joe Brown has filed an appeal of his contempt charge and has asked a criminal court judge to delay proceedings against him until another court makes a decision on that appeal.

Brown's attorneys have filed an appeal of the case. At the same time, they filed a simultaneous motion late Thursday afternoon to stay all criminal proceedings with the Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk's office.

On March 24, 2014, Brown was arrested and charged with contempt of juvenile court after challenging a magistrate during court proceedings.

As of right now, there is a hearing scheduled in criminal court for 11 a.m. on May 2.

But Brown's attorneys say the criminal court should not hear any part of this case until after his appeal is ruled upon.

ap Apr-19-2014 153 0
It may be a few years before the first daughters head to college, but Michelle Obama is already brainstorming a dorm room checklist while encouraging high school students to dream big about their education beyond graduation.

The first lady told a group of students Thursday that a high school diploma is not enough in today's global economy.

"No longer is high school the bar. That is not enough," Mrs. Obama told the crowd. "You have got to go to college or get some kind of professional training."

Before her remarks, the first lady toured a Howard University residence hall with high school juniors and seniors from her hometown of Chicago. "How do you get a single room," Mrs. Obama asked the tour guide, as the students chuckled. He replied: "There is a slight price difference."

The campus visit is a part of Mrs. Obama's push to promote higher education, especially President Barack Obama's "North Star" goal. By 2020, America would once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

After the tour, the first lady led a discussion moderated by rapper and TV host Bow Wow in a university cafeteria, the Punch Out. Mrs. Obama shared her own college experience and said she wanted to support the high school students because "this transition-- for some of you-- may be a little scary."

"The only reason I saw a dorm was because I visited my brother once when he was in college," she said. "That was the only exposure."

Mrs. Obama added that she had applied to Howard, "one of the finest universities in the country," along with Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison when she was considering higher education. She went on to attend Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

"We have to have a hunger for education like we had when our parents and grandparents were fighting for us to have a right to come to these schools and get the education," she said. "So now it's up to you all to take that baton and do the very best you can with it."

The high school students will also attend classes with their hosts and meet with university officials as part of their four-day visit.

>>--More Black Legal News

Daryl K. Washington Feb-16-2014 431 0
After the Michael Dunn verdict was read many voice their displeasure with the judicial system, rightfully so. However, the killing of our young black men is nothing new. Each time something bad happens we come together as a group for a month or so and then the energy dies down. When the Zimmerman verdict came back there were those who demanded that we stop supporting the state of Florida yet what happened to the follow-up to let us know how effective the efforts were? It reminds me of whenever someone dies. When we run into people we have not seen in years we all make a vow to do better and to make time for each other but after two or three months has past by we are all back to doing the same things.

As a country, we came together after 9/11 but soon thereafter the unity went away. There's so much happening in our communities. I thought the Zimmerman verdict would be our wake up call to do more but our young black men continue to be gunned down at a high rate by Men who don't look anything close to their fathers and most of them get away with it. Just in case you mention the black on black crime, remember that the killer normally ends up in prison.

Just recently, the grand jury failed to indict a North Carolina police officer for the killing of Jonathan Ferrell, a young black male, but after there was a public outcry about the injustice that took place he was eventually indicted. Right here in Dallas, Texas we have black men being killed by white police officers and in a great majority of the cases, the police officers are not indicted and judged by a jury of their peers. Instead, the victim is placed on trial and society has become conditioned to believe that it's okay to kill someone if they have a prior criminal record or considered a menace to society. Well, it's not and it's time that it stops.

We need to be proactive and make sure laws that don't benefit us are changed. I will continue to say this until I can't say this anymore; we have to get out and VOTE during the mid-term elections. We need to make sure the right people are elected and the wrong people are removed from office, irrespective of their race. If the same people are in office (local officials) yet we are having some of the same problems, it's time for change. Vote for someone who wants to make a change. Don't just vote based on race or political affiliation; that's what has gotten us to this point where we are today. We have to be proactive or the next Jordan Davis might be our brother, our son, our nephew, our father or our friend. Let's do it. Get involved or get out of the way!!!!!



Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.


















Daryl K. Washington Nov-26-2013 746 0
ARE WE DOING ENOUGH FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITIES?: I just finished talking to a mother who lost her son as a result of a police shooting. Hearing this mother talk about her son and how much he loved the holidays was simply heart wrenching. She went on to tell me that she's pleaded for help from our local politicians, pastors, leaders, etc. but no one wants to take her call, especially if the cameras are not rolling. To worsen matters, many of the leaders have put her son on trial and he's dead.

On last week they staged a protest in Dallas and sadly, 95% of the protestors were white. That made me wonder why do people make it in life and fail to reach back to help others? Why do people hear about injustices yet fail to say anything about it other than to say "that's sad!" During the 60's the leaders were individuals (black and white) who had college degrees, had bright futures ahead of them but they risk it all for us to be in the positions we are in today. The sad thing is that many of us believe it's all about us.

We must do more. We have to do more. We have to demand that our politicians and pastors step up to help us fight this battle. It truly takes a team effort. We must hold all of our community leaders accountable. When they ask for your vote, ask them to list ten things they did for the community in the last four years. Ask them how many times have they've attended a rally to show support to a grieving mother or father. We have serious issues and it takes all of us to stop this mess. I'm tired of seeing people who have never fought against a single injustice accept the Martin Luther King drum major for justice award. It's time for change.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Oct-25-2013 1081 0
I have not said much about this situation because I was hoping it would not get to this point. I will keep this very short because I hope the talks of going forward with a lawsuit is short lived.

For the record, I will say that I was not happy that things transpired the way they did but because it did needed attention was given to the inequities in financial support received by HBCU's. I was initially upset because the thought of canceling a college football game is unheard of. However, if what the players said is true, it's not just about football. If there's proper follow-up to what happened at Grambling, it could benefit all HBCU's and perhaps provide an example for college athletes to follow in their attempts to receive a share of the billion dollar revenue received from college sports.

I understand this may not make sense to everyone but Jackson State suing Grambling is like a Black Greek Letter Organization suing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. because he failed to show up at a fundraiser because an emergency required him to be at a last minute boycott where individuals were seeking equal treatment that would have the potential of benefiting everyone. As much as Grambling has done to benefit the SWAC I'm surprised that Jackson State would consider such drastic means. As a graduate of Grambling State University and a former member of the football team, I feel it's about time that Grambling do what Texas A&M and other schools have done in the past few years; change conferences. There's nothing but upside to it.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Oct-19-2013 3176 0
I don't know all of the specifics and I most certainly will not respond to all of the comments, especially some of the racists comments I've read because if it continues I will personally make a National Call for all of the black athletes, especially the ones who attend the large institutions like LSU, Penn State, USC, etc., to stand in unity with the players at Grambling so that a true change can be made in college athletics. If you want to see changes made and need to bring attention to problems, you can learn from the athletes at Grambling. Let's see how many people will comment about this when their teams are not playing because the athletes are tired of not receiving a share of the billion dollars. The funniest thing I've read were the comments from some black people who did not attend a HBCU acting like it was not their problem but ours.

When Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis he was there to help the Black garbage collectors, not the Black Preachers. I'm glad he did not see it as their problems. Do we turn our backs on people just because it does not personally impact us? I personally wish things could have been handled differently but now that the ball is in motion, it's time for SOLUTIONS.

I will not let Grambling State University take all of the blame for this. First, we have to look at the leadership of the State of La. and what he has done. A lot of the problems start with him, although a lot of his supporters will beg to differ. Had he not played the politics and did what was in the best interest of the state of La., things may be different. Second, we have to look at the NCAA. For years the NCAA has turned its back to the cheating in recruiting because it does not want to penalize the large schools that help bring billions of dollars to the bottom line. Demand needs to be made to institute a revenue sharing program similar to what's in the NFL so that the small schools that play by the rules receive a share of the revenue made by the big schools who use an unfair advantage to recruit.

Finally, now that this problem has been brought to light, I hope some of the wealthy people in our country remember that but for Grambling and other HBCU's there would be no RG3, Russell Wilson, Michael Vick, Kap, etc. so start giving to the HBCU's. Let's not turn our backs on the HBCUs because you did not attend. Remember, if our President is not able to nominate one or two individuals to the Supreme Court before his term is up, Affirmative Action will be under attack and if some decisions are reversed, where will our kids go if there are no HBCUs? Will it be only our problems then? It's time to wake up.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Sep-19-2013 1013 0
I just read a story about a 26 year old man who was killed during a shootout with Durham Police officers only one day after writing a Facebook post in which he stated that he was giving up on life because he was unable to spend time with his son. In Tuesday's Facebook post, Derek Deandre Walker wrote that he had no reason to live after learning that his 5-year-old child's mother wanted full custody. "I hope if there is a god that he allows the devil to kill me right now bc there is no reason for me to live right now!" He wrote in the post. "I’m ready to die.I"

I actually read his Facebook post before learning of his death. The first thing that crossed my mind after reading it was that I had to reach out to him. I felt I needed to tell him about the stories of other men who had gone through the exact same thing he was dealing with but in time it all got better. He needed to know that he did not have to fight his battles alone. Unfortunately, it's too late. If only he could have held only just a little longer. Derek’s story is a sad ending to what many people are currently dealing with. So many people have spent years trying to spend time with their kids only to have doors slammed in their face. It’s time that the judicial system is revamped and procedures are put into place to assure that each parent has equal rights. I know there are situations that require strict rules but I never could understand how someone could have the authority to tell a good parent when he or she could spend time with their kids. It simply gives too much power to one person and when the wrong person is given too much power the results can sometimes be deadly.

In today's society, there are so many men who simply refuse to take care of their children so when I hear about a 26 year old man, who wanted to be a father to his son, but for some unknown reason felt like he could not, end his life, it hurts. It hurts not only because his life is now gone but a huge part of his son's life is now gone. The sad part about this story is that it appears it could have been prevented.

As an attorney, I see couples use their kids to get back at each other FAR TOO OFTEN for something that went wrong in their relationships. You should never do this because the only individuals harmed are the kids. Parents have an obligation to work together for the best interest of their children. The “only reasons” a kid should ever be kept away from his/her parent is due to some documented proof of violence against the kid or allowing visitation would place the kid in an unsafe environment and there is a court order to support those claims. A kid should never be placed in a dangerous situation or environment.

As much as I think the judicial system has to step in and make sure both parents are allowed to be a part of their kids' lives, it's equally important that parents stop the fighting and bickering and do what's best for their children. There's simply no reason why two grown individuals should have to run to the courthouse to allow someone who has never met their kid tell them how to raise their kid(s). This has to stop immediately.

There is nothing more upsetting to a kid than not having both parents at a birthday party or a major event because their parents can’t get along. Individuals must do better when it comes to co-parenting. Both parents have equal rights and as such each should play an active role in their kids’ lives. Stop running each other away because you can’t get over the past or you believe you have superior rights because you carried the kid. God designed it that way. It was not the other person’s decision or your decision for you to carry your kid during the pregnancy stage so that should not be used as an excuse. We must do better. The kids did not ask to come here. Our kids are suffering due to grown folks fighting. Kids need and require the attention of both parents. You should not depend on a judge to tell you how to raise your kids. Get over the past so that your kids can better deal with the present. Unfortunately, a young kid is now left without a father and friends and family are mourning the death of yet another young black man. It’s time to stop the fighting now!!!! Kids are better off receiving love from both parents.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
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