California Officers Found Not Guilty in Kelly Thomas Trial

The December 2013 trial for the death of a homeless man badly beaten by California police officers in 2011 is making history for being the first murder trial ever to involve a uniformed officer in Orange County.

However, two officers involved in the case were found not guilty and freed from their charges by a jury on Jan. 13. Kelly Thomas Trial

Former Orange County officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli were accused of beating 37-year-old Kelly Thomas unconscious on the night of July 5, which led to his death five days later.

Ramos was initially tried for second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and Cicinelli for involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.

Both officers have pleaded not guilty.

Ramos and Cicinelli were only two of six officers involved in the beating. Another officer awaits trial, while the remaining three were not charged by prosecutors.

Thomas was familiar to Orange County police. In the past, Ramos had been called to check on several vandalism and trespassing situations involving Thomas. On July 5, 2011, Ramos found Thomas after he responded to a report of a man attempting to open car doors at a California transit center.

Surveillance tapes and audio recordings from the officers’ body microphones that night were used in the case as the prosecution’s main evidence. The recordings detail the conversation and events of the altercation between Thomas, Ramos and the other officers who later arrived on the scene.

Thomas was unarmed and fell unconscious after the beating when his heart stopped and he was revived by an EMT, according to a paramedic’s testimony. Thomas did not regain consciousness and died five days later.

According to the officers’ statements, Thomas, who suffered from schizophrenia, refused to cooperate and backup was called. A video of the event depicts Thomas screaming in pain for help as the officers punched, kicked, kneed, and even tazed Thomas.

Many people were shocked by the jury’s speedy decision and are upset by the officers’ acquittal. A makeshift memorial site has been put together at the transit center in honor of Thomas.

We rely on the police to protect us and make the tough decision of deciding when it’s necessary to use force in a situation, but when does protection cross the line and become brutality? Officers tend to get the benefit of the doubt in cases such as this one and their charges are often dropped.

Florida Man Pleads Not Guilty in Facebook Killing

Derek Medina, a 31-year-old Miami man, was recently charged with first-degree murder for shooting his wife multiple times and then posting a photo of her body on Facebook. Medina has entered a not-guilty plea in the case.

Medina told investigating officers that he was acting in self-defense when he shot his 26-year-old wife, Jennifer Alfonso, at their Miami home on August 8.

According to Medina, Alfonso repeatedly punched Medina in the chest, arm and temple during an argument.Derek Medina

Medina claims that he feared for his life.

Medina said as he argued with his wife, Alfonso pulled out a kitchen knife, which Medina claims he grabbed from her and put away. He claims that she began to punch him, at which point he grabbed his firearm.

He fired all rounds into his wife, killing her.

Medina took a picture of his wife’s corpse and posted it on Facebook with the caption, “Im going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys miss you guys take care Facebook people you will see me in the news my wife was punching me and I am not going to stand anymore with the abuse so I did what I did I hope you understand me.”

Medina claims to have taken the picture to let his wife’s friends and family know what happened and to tell them that he murdered her.

This case has received attention because Medina’s legal team believes that the death of Medina’s wife was self-defense. However, forensics reports show that his wife was on her knees with her arm raised in a defensive manner at the time of the shooting.

Before admitting to the crime and showing up to the police station, Medina told his 10-year-old daughter not to open the closet where he left his wife’s dead body. He then went to his aunt’s house where he told his family what happened and said goodbye.

Medina was charged with shooting a deadly missile, second-degree murder and child neglect. In early December, the murder charge upgraded to first degree because investigators believe that the incident was premeditated.

Medina’s defense team is currently requesting additional drug tests on Alfonso’s body for Alpha PVP, also known bath salts, because pills containing traces of the drug were found in their home in a bottle of garlic supplements before the shooting took place.

Designer drugs like bath salts can have numerous effects on people, including agitation, paranoia, increased pulse, hallucinations, high blood pressure and suicidal thoughts or behavior.

Alfonso was seen on surveillance cameras taking pills from the garlic supplement bottle, but her body was found to be drug-free after the initial toxicology report.

Medina’s defense is requesting more testing because most typical toxicology tests don’t pick up on unusual or newer drugs such as Alpha PVP.

New Orleans Police Officer Found Not Guilty in Controversial Shooting

New Orleans Police Officer David Warren was found not guilty on the final day of his retrial, Jan. 8, 2013, on civil rights and weapons charges in the shooting and killing of Henry Glover just days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The highly-charged case offered a glimpse into the alleged corruption of the New Orleans Police Department, the challenges that a new trial brings and still more questions about what happened on that fateful night, just days after the city had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.David Warren Trial New Orleans

Warren was originally convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. His conviction was considered to be a milestone in the cleanup of the NOPD and the rest of the aftermath caused by Katrina.

However, a federal appeals court granted Warren a new trial in 2012 on the basis of its findings that Warren was unfairly tried alongside four other NOPD officers accused of covering up the shooting of Glover by setting fire to the car containing his body atop a Louisiana levee.

In nearly 5 hours of testimony during the retrial, during which no evidence from the burning of Glover’s body was included, Warren said he feared for his life when he fired at Glover from the balcony of a strip mall he was guarding. Warren said Glover was charging toward an unlocked gate with what he believed to be a handgun.

No weapon was ever found on Glover, and Bernard Calloway, who was with him at the time of the shooting, testified against Warren saying that Glover was lighting a cigarette by his truck, not running toward the police or the strip mall.

All of the officers involved in the death of Glover were initially prosecuted together, including Warren, who allegedly did not know about the other officers’ cover-up following the shooting.

Warren was serving a 25-year sentence when a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled he should have been tried separately from the other officers linked to the case. Due to what the court saw as “spillover” of evidence from the other officers’ cases, Warren was denied a fair trial, according to the panel.

Because much of the evidence collected in the 2005 trial was not in play during the retrial, including photos of Glover’s charred remains and of the burned car, jurors only heard evidence pertaining to Warren’s involvement which created a challenge for the panel, prosecutors, defense attorneys and Glover’s sister, Patrice, who was present on Jan. 8.

Jurors did hear testimony that Warren had, just one hour earlier, fired a warning shot at a cyclist circling the strip mall. In addition, his partner on duty that day, Linda Howard, testified that she had objected to the warning shot. Warren disputed that claim but admitted that a warning shot was against NOPD protocol.

Former officer Alec Brown also testified against Warren, describing a moment after the shooting when Warren expressed his belief that looters deserved to be shot because they were “animals.” Warren denied ever saying that.

Warren claimed that he feared for his life because he believed Glover was carrying a weapon and running toward the gate to the strip mall. Warren first fired a warning shot and then later shot and killed him.

After the retrial, Warren was embraced by happy family members.

Patrice Glover sobbed outside the courtroom after being escorted out for breaking down and crying loudly toward the end of the retrial.

Scottsdale Crime Lab Ruling Challenged

Prosecutors in Maricopa County are fighting a Superior Court judge’s ruling to eliminate blood evidence in 11 DUI cases which could affect previous DUI convictions in Scottsdale.

Defense attorneys in the 11 aggravated-DUI and extreme-DUI cases argued that defective equipment and lab administrators of the Scottsdale Police Crime Lab did not meet scientific standards to merit or account for the accuracy of the four-year-old blood-testing machine. They also questioned the capability of the lab employees, doubting their ability to detect errors should they occur. Arizona DUI Charges

In August, Judge Jerry Bernstein barred prosecutors from introducing the machine’s blood-testing results in the 11 cases, and in response, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed a special action challenging this ruling.

The appeal stated that Bernstein misunderstood the state’s grounds for evidentiary dismissal and that a handful of errors revealed in the court could not condemn a machine that has conducted thousands of tests during a two-year period.

The machine performed more than 20,000 tests during a two-year period, and although the lab has suspended its use, prosecutors argue that there is allowance for a slight margin of error.

Of the 31 problem tests recorded in the appeal, the County Attorney’s office must determine whether these are the only bad results that Scottsdale is aware of, and if the lab has conducted an audit and can confirm that of the thousands of tests conducted, these 31 are the only erred ones.

This evidentiary debate has caused concern because if the ruling stands, any DUI convictions in the past few years in Scottsdale could be called into question.

Currently, the Scottsdale City Prosecutor’s Office is not considering the superior court’s decision at all in its evaluation of cases and extension of plea offers. Judges have precluded defense attorneys from even mentioning the decision at trial, allowing many jurors to remain uninformed of such problems.

As always, having an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side can help prevent or correct a wrongful conviction. Seeking professional counsel is the best choice if you or a loved one is involved in a DUI case. You need someone who can get you the best outcome possible and challenge any injustices that have already, or could come your way.