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Gospel Singer Arrested On Abuse Charges
BlackLegalIssues.com Mar-13-2009 932 0

A star of gospel music is accused of assaulting his ex-wife on Valentine's Day weekend.

Debra Winans said her former husband BeBe Winans pushed her to the ground in front of their children. The two were married for 16 years before divorcing in 2003.

The alleged assault happened when BeBe Winans showed up at his ex-wife's Nashville home and the two began arguing about custody issues. Debra and BeBe Winans have a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.

According to an affidavit, what started out as a "verbal altercation" turned into assault when Debra Winans was "pushed to the ground."

Later, the Grammy-winning Gospel recording artist and judge of the Black Entertainment Television reality show Sunday Best was arrested.

"When you're married to someone known all over the world, it has serious challenges," said Debra Winans.

Debra Winans said people of faith are held to an even higher standard, and many Christians suffer through abuse rather than reaching out for help.

"Until you realize something's not changing, you pray all day long. The power of God is real, but one thing he's not going to do is go against someone's will. We make choices," said Debra Winans.

She said she is not afraid of her former husband and hopes by speaking out she will help others.

A spokesman for BeBe Winans said the singer is in Atlanta working as a judge on a BET program. As of Thursday evening, there was no statement from BeBe Winans regarding his ex-wife's allegations.

Debra Winans said she is working with other abuse victims in hopes of helping them find healthy solutions to their problem.

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AP May-23-2016 39 0
Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.

Prosecutors had declined to charge Cosby over Andrea Constand's complaint in 2005, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public.

In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Constand at his home. The two knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team.

The following exchanges between Cosby and Constand lawyer Dolores Troiani took place in 2005 and 2006. They are excerpted for brevity and to delete legal squabbling and repetition.



Q. When did you first develop a romantic interest in Andrea?

A. Probably the first time I saw her (at Temple's arena).


On the night in question:

Q: Can you tell me ... what you recall of the night in which you gave the pills to Andrea?

A: Andrea came to the house. I called her. ... We talked about Temple University. We talked about her position. And then I went upstairs and I got three pills. I brought them down. They are the equivalent of one and a half. The reason why I gave them and offered them to Andrea, which she took after examining them, was because she was talking about stress.


Cosby describes a several-minute sexual encounter that followed.

Q: So, you're not telling us that you verbally asked her for permission?

A: I didn't say it verbally, I said. The action is my hand on her midriff, which is skin. I'm not lifting any clothing up. This is, I don't remember fully what it is, but it's there and I can feel. I got her skin and it's just above the hand and it's just above where you can go under the pants.

Q: Then what happens?

A: I don't hear her say anything. And I don't feel her say anything. And so I continue and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection. I am not stopped.


Troiani asks Cosby about a phone call a year later between Cosby and Constand's mother, Gianni Constand, who told him something was wrong with her daughter, who was also on the line.

Q: What was the thing that you did not want to talk about?

A: I didn't want to talk about, "What did you give her?"

Q: Why?

A: Because we're over the telephone and I'm not sending anything (the pill bottle) over the mail and I'm not giving away anything.

Q: Why didn't you simply tell her ... that you had given her daughter an over-the-counter drug called Benadryl?

A: I'm not going to argue with somebody's mother who is accusing me of something. And then when I apologize she says to me, "That's all I wanted to know, Bill." ... And I'm apologizing because I'm thinking this is a dirty old man with a young girl. I apologized. I said to the mother it was digital penetration.


Q: When she sat here and cried (Constand, during her deposition), how did you feel?

A: I think Andrea is a liar and I know she's a liar because I was there.



Cosby testified that he had gotten quaaludes from his doctor in Los Angeles in the 1970s. He said he was given seven prescriptions for the now-banned sedative, ostensibly for a sore back.

Q: Why didn't you ever take the quaaludes?

A: Because I used them.

Q: For what?

A: The same as a person would say, "Have a drink."

Q: You gave them to other people?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you believe at that time that it was illegal for you to dispense those drugs?

A: Yes.

Q: How did (the doctor) know that you didn't plan to use (them)?

A: What was happening at that time was that, that was, quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case.

Q: When you got the quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?

A. Yes.


Cosby acknowledges having a sexual relationship with accuser Therese (Picking) Serignese starting around 1976, when she was 19. Serignese, who has gone public with her accusations, has said the first time she met Cosby at a Las Vegas hotel in 1976, he gave her quaaludes and a glass of water before they had sex.

Q: Did you give her quaaludes?

A: Yes.

Q: What effect did the quaaludes have on her?

A: She became in those days what was called high.

Q: She said that she believes she was not in the position to consent to intercourse after you gave her the drug. Do you believe that is correct?

A: I don't know. ... How many years ago are we talking about? 197(6)? ... I meet Ms. Picking in Las Vegas. She meets me backstage. I give her quaaludes. We then have sex.


Q: Why didn't you ever take them yourself?

A: I get sleepy.

Q: How would you know that if you never took them?

A: Quaaludes happen to be a depressant. I have had surgery and while being given pills that block the nervous system, in particular the areas of muscle, the back, I found that I get sleepy and I want to stay awake.

Q: Is that why you don't drink alcohol?

A: Exactly.
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Baltimore Sun May-23-2016 46 0
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams on Monday acquitted Officer Edward Nero of all counts for his role in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

The judgment, following a five-day bench trial, is the first in the closely-watched case. Nero, 30, faced four misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.

Prosecutors had argued that Nero committed an assault by detaining Gray without justification, while the reckless endangerment charge related to Nero's role in putting Gray into an arrest wagon without buckling a seat belt. In closing arguments Thursday, Williams had skeptically questioned prosecutors about their theory of assault, which legal experts said was unprecedented.

Nero leaned forward after the verdict was read, and wiped his eyes. He hugged his attorneys.

Billy Murphy, the attorney for the Gray family, commended Williams for not bowing to public pressure.

Williams "stood tall and did what he believed was just" while "very careful" to make clear findings specific to Nero case," Murphy said. "He had a job to do and he did it."

Nero was the second of six city police officers charged in the case to stand trial. The first trial, of Officer William Porter, ended in a hung jury and mistrial last December.

Nero, a former New Jersey volunteer firefighter who joined the Baltimore Police Department in 2012, is one of three officers who were on bike patrol when they chased and arrested Gray in West Baltimore.

Gray, 25, suffered severe spinal cord injuries while in the back of a Baltimore police van, prosecutors say. He died a week later, touching off citywide protests. On the day of his funeral on April 27, rioting, looting and arson broke out, leading the mayor to institute a weeklong nightly curfew and the governor to call in the National Guard.

Nero's trial lasted six days, with the prosecution calling 14 witnesses and the defense calling seven before closing statements last Thursday.

Nero's attorneys had sought to minimize his role in the arrest, saying that he had limited contact with Gray. They also argued that Nero followed his training.

Following the verdict, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for "citizens to be patient."

"This is our American system of justice and police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this city, state, and country," Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Officer Nero will face an administrative review by the Police Department. We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion."

She noted the city is "prepared to respond" to any disturbance in the city. "We will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses and the people of our city," she said.

T.J. Smith, the police department's chief spokesman, said Nero will remain working in an administrative capacity while the police department's internal investigation continues.

"The internal investigation is being handled by other police departments. The internal investigation will not be completed until all of the criminal cases against the other five officers are completed because they will likely be witnesses in each case," Smith said in a statement.

State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, the winner of last month's Democratic primary for mayor, said she's been in touch with activists and believes the public understands the lengthy nature of criminal proceedings against multiple officers charged in Gray's arrest and death.

"We ask the people of Baltimore to let justice take its course," Pugh said. "We trust our State's Attorney's Office is doing its best job. We ask the citizens of Baltimore to remain calm as we continue to move forward to justice for everybody."

She said she believes the city has improved policing since Gray's death last year from injuries sustained in police custody.

"We've learned a lot of lessons," she said. "We've learned how we reform some police practices."

DeRay McKesson, a Black Lives Matter activist who unsuccessfully ran for mayor this year, said "the Nero verdict is a reminder that we must continue to push for policies and laws related to the police department that explicitly call for the preservation of life and that have clear lines of accountability.

"I am reminded that this is one of six trials as we seek accountability for the death of Freddie Gray," McKesson added.

The next trial in the case will be that of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr, the driver of the van used to transport Gray. His trial is scheduled to begin June 6. His trial is to be followed by those of Lt. Brian Rice (July 5), Officer Garrett Miller (July 27), Officer William Porter (Sept. 6) and Sgt. Alicia White (Oct. 13).
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May-21-2016 133 0
The Howard High School of Technology community in Wilmington is in mourning again, and grief counselors are back.

Thursday afternoon, 9th grader Brandon Wingo was shot in the head and killed, just a few blocks away.

Wingo, 15, died at the hospital.

He was a student at the same high school where another teen died after a fight in the bathroom.

Amy Joyner-Francis died April 21 after investigators say three girls assaulted her.

One teen is charged with criminally negligent homicide. Prosecutors say they will seek to have her tried as an adult.

The other two charged with third degree misdemeanor conspiracy will be going to trial June 15.

Thursday, principal Stanley Spoor left a message on the school’s website that reads, “All of the Howard community is pained by the loss of this young man and we all grieve his death. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers.”

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Getting the story is always priority No. 1, but a Phoenix TV reporter seems to have forgotten about No. 2 until it was too late.

Jonathan Lowe, a reporter for KPHO, was arrested Monday afternoon after allegedly defecating on a front lawn near the subject of his story’s home.

The 33-year-old was seen by a neighbor as he picked up papers from the street before leaning against the wall of a house and relieving himself, according to a Goodyear police report obtained by his station.

An officer tasked with the job of tracking Lowe down said the suspect admitted to using the yard as an impromptu latrine.

“I know what you want to talk to me about. I’ve been feeling very sick and I’ve been stuck in this van all day,” he said, according to the report.

“Those people who called on me just wanted to start problems.”

The woman who made the call about Lowe heeding nature’s call said that he could have used her bathroom if he had knocked on her door.

Lowe was arrested for public defecation, and now faces a fine of $2,500 or six months in jail for the misdemeanor, according to the Phoenix New Times.

KPHO news director Dan Wilson told the Times Wednesday that Lowe was still employed, though the channel’s Thursday night write-up of their colleague’s legal troubles called him a “former KPHO/KTVK reporter.”

The journalist’s bio page on the station’s site is no longer active, while a list of his articles shows the story he was covering during his bathroom breakdown.

Lowe's final piece for his station was an article about the case of Patrick Zane Thompson.

The 58-year-old former Arizona State football player and restaurant owner is accused of “sacrificing” his family’s poodle in a BBQ smoker after becoming upset about his daughter’s t-shirt.
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joseph stepansky May-21-2016 111 0
Jocelyn Carr did everything she could to keep her son protected from the violence of the streets, even making him pledge to join the Army.

But Friday, the distraught Bronx mother mopped 17-year-old Ackeem Davis’ blood inside their apartment — the result, police sources said, of roughhousing between friends that ended with a fatal bullet to her son’s chest.

“I could understand if he got shot out in the street, but they shot him right here in his bed,” the 42-year-old mail carrier told the Daily News.

Gone in a muzzle flash were her plans for Davis’ 18th birthday next week, his high school graduation next month and his enlistment in the Army this summer — a commitment he made at her request.

“We made the deal because I didn’t want him to be out on the street and killed in the street,” Carr told The News. “But he got killed right at home.”

Carr was left instead to plan a funeral for the teen killed while hanging out with a group of friends in his bedroom as she was working Thursday afternoon.

More than 24 hours after the fatal shooting, cops charged 19-year-old Steafon Lewis (photo inset) with manslaughter and possession of a firearm.

Sources said an eyewitness told detectives Davis and Lewis had been playfully wrestling on the bed when Lewis picked up a gun on the dresser around 5 p.m. and shot his friend once.

Davis staggered into the apartment hallway, then collapsed in front of his brother’s horrified girlfriend. “He couldn’t speak,” said Starr White, 18. “All of this blood was just coming out of his mouth. He just came out here and dropped.”

The victim’s 13-year-old sister was also in the apartment when the fatal shot was fired.

His mother received a frantic call at work, but her son was dead by the time she reached Jacobi Medical Center.

A spot of blood remained visible beneath the family fridge Friday as Carr spoke of her son’s lost future. She was left with agonizing questions — none of her son’s friends let her know what happened.

Some of the kids bolted, while others carried Davis into the hallway.

One of the other youths must have brought the gun into the Pelham Parkway Houses in Allerton because her son didn’t own one, she said.

“If anybody knows anything at all, just let us know,” said Carr. “Nobody’s saying. I need to know what happened, how he died . . . I need to know why I no longer have my child. My son’s not coming back here.”

Family and friends created an impromptu memorial outside the building at 810 Astor Ave., with candles spelling out the letter K twice for his nickname “Keem Krazy.”

“Everybody knows my son, because he’s a comedian,” said Carr. “He makes everybody laugh.”

Friday night Lewis, in glasses and flowered pants, was led from the 49th Precinct stationhouse by three detectives. The beefy teen, in handcuffs and ankle shackles, remained silent.
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A Chicago woman was gunned down coming out of a Starbucks on Friday, the victim of gang-related violence just two blocks from the city’s police headquarters.

Yvonne Nelson, an innocent 49-year-old who worked for the Windy City’s 311 service, was shot in the chest after walking out of the South Side coffee shop around 3:30 p.m., according to police.

An unknown gunman opened fire on what law enforcement sources called a “documented gang member” later revealed to be an employee at a nearby Jimmy John’s, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The young man’s boss said his employee, who was shot in the hand and buttocks and was in stable condition Friday night, might have been a gang member years ago but had caused no problems at the sandwich shop.

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications said Friday evening that Nelson was “a dedicated and hardworking employee.”

A friend of the city worker made an appeal on Facebook for the gunman to turn himself in, and said he was “thoroughly tired of all these people gang or not who shoot kill people who are hard workers and innocent.”

“She was ours and didn’t deserve to be killed… just leaving a job where she tries to help the very same people in these Chicago streets,” Louis Shuttlesworth said.

Other social media posters expressed their frustration at the senseless violence, with some making the heartbreaking demand that if gunmen are going to shoot, they should at least hit their targets.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson had been in the area at the time of shooting, which was a matter of feet from police headquarters.

“This incident right here highlights what I’ve been saying for the past month and a half about how brazen these violent offenders are," he said.

The Chicago Tribune reports that 1,284 people had been shot in the city from the beginning of the year to May 20.
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Peter Holley May-21-2016 265 0
Candace Pickens had fallen in love with being a mother to her little boy, Zachaeus.

Her Facebook page is full of photos documenting the bond between mother and child as it strengthened over birthdays, holidays and visits with their extended, close-knit family.

“When she found out she was pregnant, she was scared at first,” the 23-year-old’s aunt, Irene Jenny Pickens, told The Washington Post. “But once she had that baby, it was so natural for her.

“She loved being a mother. And no matter what she was going through, I think he was the one thing that kept her going.”

One of the things Candace Pickens was going through in recent months, relatives said, was a volatile and abusive relationship — one she managed to keep hidden from some of the people who knew her best in and around Asheville, N.C., where she lived.

Her boyfriend, Nathaniel Elijah Dixon, had a violent history that included attempted robbery and allegations of domestic violence against another woman with whom he had a child, according to the Citizen-Times. In addition to Dixon’s extensive criminal history, police think he has possible ties to a Los Angeles street gang.

When Pickens recently discovered that she was pregnant with Dixon’s child, abortion was not an option, she told friends and family members.

She would have a second child, she insisted.

Now, relatives think it was that insistence that may have led to her death.

Her body was found early on the morning of May 12 by a jogger in a park in Asheville. She had been shot in the head at point-blank range, police said — executed.

Beside her, investigators said, was Zachaeus, badly injured but clinging to life.

Just one day after his birthday, the 3-year-old had witnessed his mother being shot in the face before he endured the same fate and was left for dead.

Pickens was declared dead at the scene. Her son was taken to a hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery; he is in stable but critical condition, police said.

Mekia Waters, the child’s grandmother, told The Post that Zachaeus was shot in the head and lost his left eye; but she forcefully denied local reports that his chance of survival is just 50 percent.

“My grandson is in stable condition and doing great and he has the doctors surprised,” Waters said Wednesday. “He’s moving his arms and legs and he’s doing more than what people expected.”

“He’s talking, he asked for juice and he said ‘daddy,'” she added. “He even made his own song up about juice.”

Waters also said her family members have not set up a GoFundMe page and have not been contacted by the creators of several existing pages that claim to be raising money for her grandson.

“My grandson is not a charity fund,” she said. “We’re not asking for a dime — only prayer.”

Dixon, who also lives in Asheville, fled to Columbus, Ohio, where he was arrested last week, authorities said. WLOS reported that Columbus police rescued a 21-year-old female hostage when Dixon was taken into custody.

The 24-year-old is awaiting extradition back to North Carolina, where he has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, authorities said.

To Pickens’s friends and relatives, the motive was clear.

“He found out she was pregnant and he wanted her to abort the baby,” Irene Jenny Pickens told The Post. “She would never do that. It wasn’t an option for her, and that’s what sparked the violence.”

She added: “You could tell things were going on between them based on what she was posting on Facebook — but I don’t think anyone expected anything like this.”

Christina Hallingse, a spokeswoman for the Asheville Police Department, told The Post that authorities can’t confirm whether Pickens’s apparent refusal to undergo an abortion was a motive in her killing, citing the ongoing investigation.

“The Asheville Police Department does not provide comment on an offender’s motive because that information is sensitive to the case itself,” Hallingse said. “Our responsibility at this point in the investigation is to present the best case possible to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution of the suspected offender.”

But the theory that Dixon decided to kill his girlfriend because she wouldn’t have an abortion was echoed on a GoFundMe page set up by one of her close friends.

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Richard Luscombe May-18-2016 193 0
George Zimmerman appears to have sold the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin four years ago, bringing an end to the latest controversy to swirl around the notorious former neighbourhood watch leader.

Zimmerman, who shot and killed the unarmed black teenager during an altercation at his Florida housing estate in February 2012, looks set to collect $138,900 for the Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm handgun after bidding closed midday on the website unitedgungroup.com.

But the final hour of the auction was disrupted by the reappearance of the type of fake bidders who wrecked Zimmerman’s two previous attempts to cash in on the firearm during auctions last week on a rival website. At one stage on Wednesday the highest offer of $137,600 was in the name of a user called Racist McShootface, whose profile was quickly deleted.

The eventual top bidder was a user named John Smith, whose successful offer was made in the auction’s final minute. No further details were listed for him on the website other than that he claimed to be based in Alabama.

For most of the final morning of the two-day auction the top bidder was a user named David Thorne, whose profile featured a photograph of a man in full military combat fatigue and helmet clutching an automatic rifle.

Zimmerman, who was acquitted of all charges over the death of Trayvon, 17, at his 2013 trial, attracted heavy criticism for his efforts to sell the weapon, which he called “an American Firearm icon” in an accompanying description on the auction site.

Leonard Pitts, a Pulitzer-winning columnist for the Miami Herald, wrote on Wednesday that the auction was “a national shame”.

“The marketing of the gun that killed him by the man who pulled the trigger does not feel like simply another example of flagrantly bad taste. No, it feels like a victory lap on a dead boy’s grave,” Pitts wrote.

“So when this thing is sold it really won’t matter who writes the check. We all will pay the price.”

Zimmerman has repeatedly defended his right to sell the weapon and in an extraordinary rant published by the Daily Beast on Tuesday he accused Trayvon’s parents of profiting from his death. “Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin did everything they could to capitalize on her son’s death,” Zimmerman said.

“They didn’t raise their son right. He attacked a complete stranger and tried to kill him.”

A portion of the proceeds from the sale, Zimmerman said on the auction website, would be used to “fight BLM [Black Lives Matter] violence against Law Enforcement officers, ensure the demise of Angela Corey’s persecution career and Hillary Clinton’s anti-firearm rhetoric”. Corey was the Florida state prosecutor who led the unsuccessful attempt to convict Zimmerman.

In a statement issued through civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, Tracy Martin refused to comment on the auction, saying he preferred to focus on the work of the Trayvon Martin Foundation, set up partly to support other parents who had lost their children to violence.

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Colleen Jenkins May-16-2016 153 0
George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, will try again this week to sell the handgun he had used in the incident, after an earlier online auction was hijacked by fake buyers.

Zimmerman, acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the controversial case, told Reuters in an email Monday a new auction would begin on UnitedGunGroup.com at 9 a.m. ET Tuesday and end at noon the following day.

United Gun Group owner Todd Underwood told CNN on Monday that the website would continue to facilitate lawful sales despite the criticism it has faced for allowing Zimmerman to list his gun.

The former neighborhood watch volunteer sparked intense debate on social media last week when he offered to sell the Kel-Tec PF9 9mm handgun, which he described in the auction listing as "an American firearm icon" that he had used to defend his life against Martin.

Martin's family has said the black 17-year-old was simply walking home after buying a drink and candy from a local store before his fatal encounter with Zimmerman. The case ignited debates on race relations, gun control and American justice.

A lawyer for the family denounced Zimmerman's effort to sell the gun, and another auction site, GunBroker.com, rejected the listing.

Two of America's leading auctioneers of guns said they also had refused on ethical grounds to handle the sale after Zimmerman called their establishments recently hoping to consign the gun with them.

Bidding on the gun during an initial auction on UnitedGunGroup.com topped $65 million on Friday, apparently inflated by bogus buyers with names such as "Racist McShootFace."

The United Gun Group said in a statement on Facebook on Saturday that Zimmerman had temporarily withdrawn the auction to remove the false bidders but planned to relist "his property" this week. (Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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