News Roundup

Late last week a man involved in a long running dispute with Annapolis newspaper the Capital Gazette stormed the paper’s newsroom with a shotgun, killing five people and wounding several others.  The Gazette itself has extensive coverage of the incident.  Reports suggest that the suspect, Jarrod W. Ramos, had been upset with the Gazette for some time because of an article the paper ran in 2011 regarding his guilty plea to a criminal harassment offense.  Ramos tried unsuccessfully to sue the paper for defamation and otherwise harassed Gazette staff over several years.  He has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder.  Yesterday, newsrooms across the country held a moment of silence for the victims at 2:33 pm, marking the precise time of the attack a week earlier.  Keep reading for more news.

Podcast.  The News & Observer says that a new true-crime podcast exploring a decades-old unsolved double murder in Durham recently was released.  Titled “The Long Dance,” the podcast focuses on the 1971 murders of Patricia Mann and Jesse McBane, of Sanford and Pittsboro respectively.  The couple had attended a Valentine’s Day dance in Durham and then disappeared; they were discovered two weeks later strangled to death in a wooded area in northwest Durham.  The Observer report says that the creators of the podcast and detectives working the re-opened cold case independently have identified the same suspect in the murders, though no arrest has yet been made.  Here’s a link to the podcast.

Fireworks Return.  The Charlotte Observer reports that the city of Hamlet celebrated the 4th of July this week with the biggest and best-attended fireworks display in the city’s history.  According to the report, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was instrumental in the event’s success.  After learning that last year’s celebration was canceled due to the threat of gang violence, Sessions dispatched a team of federal prosecutors to the area to assist state and local law enforcement in combatting the gang activity.

SBI Investigates Leak.  The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that the SBI has opened an inquiry into the leak of body camera footage to the Citizen-Times which showed an officer beating a pedestrian during a jaywalking investigation last summer.  The article also notes that federal prosecutors recently announced that the officer involved, Christopher Hickman, will not be prosecuted for violating federal criminal civil rights laws.

Sexual Violence Activist Charged.  The New York Times reports that a Columbia University student with significant involvement in global campaigns against sexual violence towards children now is facing federal child sex charges.  Joel Davis was well known for his participation in a variety of international efforts aimed at stopping sexual violence towards children, giving a TEDx talk on the subject as recently as April.  The Times says that the criminal complaint against Davis alleges that he sent child pornography to undercover FBI agents in May and June, and also admitted to engaging in sexual activity with a 13-year-old.

Independent Streak.  It’s rare that a 4th of July holiday passes in Asheville without celebratory criminal activity.  Last year it was some kids blocking traffic with a homemade waterslide, this year it’s some adults assaulting police officers and firefighters with roman candles and pyrotechnic mortars.  As WLOS reports, firefighters and police officers responding to Pisgah View Apartments to deal with a firecracker that somehow had been propelled through an apartment window were attacked with roman candles.  At least one person was charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a government official and several people were charged with drug crimes.

ISIS Prosecutes Petty Crime.  There’s an interesting international criminal law story in the New York Times this week that says that the Islamic State is quite effective at policing petty criminal offenses in ISIS-controlled territory, garnering acclaim from many residents.  The report says that in cases of nonreligous disputes, the Islamic State is often “not only fair but also willing to wade into problems that might have been brushed off by most authorities.”  Apparently, petty offenders often are quick to rectify their misdeeds lest they be subject to the government’s corrective action.

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