August 20, 2007

Forensnips III: Last but not least

The ominous Mr. Big: Coming soon to a theater near you

Leave it to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to make a suspect confess.

Undercover Mounties, posing as members of criminal organizations, study their targets and obtain their loyalty with "gifts of cash, lavish meals, and booze-fueled strip-club trysts." They then involve their murder suspects in phony crimes such as money laundering and mob-style hits, complete with fake blood.

Finally, Mr. Big enters the picture. He is an all-powerful, gun-toting mob boss who "offers the target a terrible choice: Admit to a murder and receive his protection, more money. Or endure his wrath. Transcripts of these encounters, entered as evidence in courts, reveal that Mr. Big does not like to take 'no' for an answer."

The Mounties have conducted hundreds of these astonishing stings in recent years, most of them successful in garnering a confession.

The full article is online at Canada's National Post. Mr. Big is the topic of a 90-minute documentary by writer-producer Tiffany Burns. A clip from the forthcoming movie is also available online.

Epidemic of animal abuse?

With pro football quarterback Michael Vick garnering front-page news in connection with a dog-fighting farm, the Los Angeles Times is now reporting on what they call a "growing wave" of violence against animals by groups of youths. Here's an excerpt:

"Nationwide, an increasing number of animal cruelty cases are being
reported outside city limits: Horses, cows, goats and other farm animals
are being killed, authorities say, often by angry, reckless youths,
perhaps acting on dares.

"Although there are no statistics on such crimes, newspapers detail
scores of cases. Two Texas college students were indicted last fall for
slashing a horse's neck before stabbing it in the heart with a broken
golf club handle. In Pennsylvania in 2005, three joy-riding men killed a
pony named Ted E. Bear that belonged to a 4-year-old boy...."
We've seen alarmist stories before about juvenile crime waves. In fact, they've been coming in cycles since at least the 1950s.

This one could be hype, could be real. You decide.

Double jeopardy or justice delayed?

Last but not least in today’s news roundup, the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting on a man who is being prosecuted anew for a crime that he was already convicted of 35 years ago.

Richard O'Neal was convicted in 1972 of shooting a police officer, and served four years in prison. After his release, he built a steady life as a father, grandfather, and popular city maintenance man.

Now, O'Neal has been rearrested for the same crime, one of nine defendants in the high-profile prosecution of ex-Black Liberation Army members.

Prosecutors call it delayed justice. But the arrest has outraged O'Neal's friends and relatives, who say the 58-year-old San Francisco man paid his debt to society and has spent the past three decades building a reputation for kindness and generosity.