News Roundup

Law enforcement officers in Philadelphia arrested more than 50 people Tuesday night after a flash mob ransacked dozens of stores, including Foot Locker, Lululemon, Apple, and at least 18 state-run liquor stores. The looting began after a peaceful protest over a judge’s dismissal of charges against a Philadelphia police officer who shot and killed driver Eddie Irizarry through a rolled-up window after pulling him over for erratic driving. The Police Commissioner said the looters were not associated with the protests, but instead were “criminal opportunists” who launched a coordinated attack. The Associated Press has the story here.

In related news, Target announced earlier that same day that it was closing nine stores in four states because organized retail crime had made operating the stores unsafe and unsustainable. The stores include the East Harlem location in New York City, two locations in Seattle, three in Portland, and three in San Franscisco and Oakland. CNN has the story here.

Keep reading for more criminal law news.

Suspect arrested for murder of Baltimore tech entrepreneur. Baltimore police scrambled this week to find 32-year-old Jason Dean Billingsley, the man suspected of killing 26-year-old Pava LaPere, founder of EcoMap Technologies, in her apartment building over the weekend. Police were already looking for Billingsley – who was suspected of rape, attempted murder, and arson in connection with a Baltimore house fire on September 19  — when LaPere’s body was discovered on Monday. Billingsley reportedly knew the victims in the earlier incident, but there is no indication that he had a connection with LaPere beyond working in the building where she lived. Billingsley was arrested by U.S. Marshals Wednesday night at a train station in Bowie, Maryland. Billingsley was released from prison last October after serving seven years for a first-degree sex offense.

Break-through in local cold case. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has identified the remains of a woman whose body was discovered in 1990 on the side of Interstate 40. She was twenty-year-old Lisa Coburn Kesler, and authorities believe she was strangled. WRAL reports that advancements in DNA technology enabled analysts to obtain Kesler’s DNA profile from a degraded hair fragment. A forensic genealogist then used genealogy databases to identify potential cousins of the victim. Investigators interviewed those people, learning of Kesler, whom no one had heard from in more than 30 years. One investigator explained: “Essentially, there was a Lisa-shaped hole on a branch of the family tree, right where the DNA told us Lisa should be, and no one knew where she was.” Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said his office would apply the same dogged determination they used to identify Kesler to the task of identifying her killer.

Pre-game rituals are not just for Carolina fans. Longtime voice of the Tar Heels Woody Durham famously told us to “go where we go and do what we do” to ensure victory for the team in light blue. It turns out this advice also applies to preparing for argument before the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s new term begins Monday, and the Associated Press has marked the occasion with this story on the pre-argument rituals of attorneys who regularly appear before the court. My hands (feet) down favorite are the two baby socks – one for each of his twins – that Sri Srinivasan, now chief judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, carried to all of his Supreme Court arguments.

Sometimes it feels like we are just picking on Florida. And yet odd criminal law news from this southernmost state continues to abound. Late Wednesday night, a woman in North Port, Florida reported that her car had been stolen and her children, ages 10 and 11, were missing. Four hours later, sheriff’s deputies spotted the car on the interstate near Gainesville, some four hours away. They pulled the car over and approached with guns drawn, ordering the occupants to step out. They were surprised when a 10-year-old boy emerged from the driver’ seat and his 11-year-old sister stepped out as a passenger. The children explained that the girl was upset that her mother had taken away her electronic devices for misbehaving, and her brother had agreed to drive her to California.