A group in Massachusetts is working to clear the names of people accused of witchcraft, according to this report from the AP. The Massachusetts Witch-Hunt Justice Project includes historians and distant relatives of the hundreds of people who were charged, tried for, or convicted of witchery in the state during the 17th century. A similar effort in Connecticut resulted in a legislative resolution of innocence on behalf of the accused and an apology. According to this story, the last witchcraft trial in North America took place in Virigina in 1706. Read on for more criminal law news.
Halloween Scares. WRAL reports that a Raleigh man was arrested on Halloween for allegedly pulling a gun on children trick-or-treating and pointing it at them. He is also accused of intentionally knocking a basket of candy out of a child’s hands. The suspect faces three counts of misdemeanor assault by pointing a gun and one count of misdemeanor assault on a child under 12. According to the story, alcohol may have played a part in the alleged crimes. In a separate incident earlier this week, a Cary man was arrested for making threats against children. He was charged with misdemeanor cyberstalking and communicating threats. After posting bail on Wednesday, he was again arrested for violating the conditions of his release. The story notes that the man previously served time in federal prison for a threats offense and has had multiple prior state charges of cyberstalking.
Lewiston Shooting. Details about the background of the suspect believed to be responsible for the recent mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine continue to emerge. According to this report, the former Army reservist spent time in a psychiatric hospital, made earlier threats of mass violence, and was known to family, law enforcement, and military officials as a potentially dangerous person. AP News has the story here.
Memphis Officer Pleads Guilty. Former Memphis police officer Desmond Mills, Jr. pled guilty this week to federal charges stemming from the death of Tyre Nichols. Four other former officers are facing state and federal charges connected to the death. As a part of his plea bargain with the feds, Mills agreed to plead guilty to state charges and cooperate with prosecutors. He is the first of the officers involved to enter a guilty plea. Attorneys for the government say they will be recommending a 15-year sentence for the federal convictions for obstruction and using excessive force. That story is here.
Young Thug Jury Finally Seated. I mentioned the RICO prosecution of the rapper known as Young Thug in Georgia state court in a previous news roundup. After ten months of jury selection, a jury has been impaneled and the trial is expected to begin at the end of this month. The AP has the story here.
Bankman-Fried Convicted. Former cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted of defrauding investors of around $10 billion dollars this week. The jury returned guilty verdicts on wire fraud and related conspiracy charges after deliberating half of a day. He faces a considerable amount of time in prison at his sentencing hearing in March. You can read more about the story here.
Murder Mushrooms? An Australian woman is in custody facing murder and attempted murder charges stemming from the poisoning of several of her relatives. Police say that she served Beef Wellington for lunch laced with death cap mushrooms. Three people died and a fourth fell ill as a result. The woman’s husband was invited to the lunch but ultimately cancelled. The suspect denies wrongdoing and claims the poisonings were accidental. NPR has the story here.
Anniversary of the Terry Frisk. Sharing Halloween, this past Tuesday marked the 60th year since a watchful Cleveland police officer stopped and frisked Mr. Terry and his companion. This culminated in the famous Terry v. Ohio case, from which the reasonable suspicion standard for stops and frisks derives. Terry requires officers to have a reasonable, articulable, and individualized suspicion of criminal wrongdoing before detaining a suspect. The case permits a frisk of the suspect for weapons in the name of officer safety only when the officer also has reasonable suspicion to believe that the suspect is armed and dangerous.
Dropping Dimes. A group of men are facing conspiracy, theft, and other federal charges in connection with the robbery of a tractor trailer transporting coins from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia to Miami. While the driver was sleeping, authorities say the men broke into the back of the truck and stole more than 2 million dimes—around $234,500. According to the story: “Thousands of coins were scattered all over the lot in northeast Philadelphia.” The men apparently used local coin exchange machines to convert the dimes to cash before their apprehension. Police suspect the men of other similar recent thefts.
Pumpkin Seizure. A Florida man was charged with fraud offenses in connection to his alleged theft and use of a coworker’s credit card this week. After discovering unauthorized charges on the card, the co-worker contacted police. A review of her bank statement led authorities to surveillance footage of the suspect making purchases with the missing card. The man allegedly purchased beer and a pumpkin, among other items. He then went home and carved the pumpkin for Halloween. Police investigating the alleged crime visited the suspect’s home, where they immediately noticed the contraband pumpkin. Along with the co-worker’s credit card and driver’s license, police confiscated the pumpkin as evidence. That story is here.
Florida Man Games. Lest I be accused of picking on Florida too much, note at least one city in the state celebrates the Florida Man phenomenon with an annual festival. The games are held in St. Augustine and feature a number of unique events. These include the “Weaponized Pool Noodle Duel,” the “Beer Belly Florida Sumo” contest, the “Catalytic Converter, 2 bikes, and a Handful of Copper Pipes: Race Against Time” event, and the “Evading Arrest Obstacle Course.” Tickets are available here.
I hope everyone has a happy and safe weekend. If you want to vote for best Florida Man Games event or have other feedback or questions, you can reach me at email@example.com.