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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Drew Peterson's fiancee splits after TV appearance

Drew Peterson appears on 'Nightline'
January 30, 2009 (WLS) --
Drew Peterson's plans for a fifth trip to the altar appears to have hit a roadblock following an ABC interview.

The former Bolingbrook cop apparently watched ABC's Nightline (Click Here to see the story and video) Thursday night with Christina Raines, 23. Something he said on that program prompted a fight. She packed her bags --and left.

During the show, Peterson told Martin Bashir in the exclusive report that he likes the early romantic stages of each relationship, but eventually lost interest when "there was no excitement in the marriage anymore."

"The women I was involved with would change or wouldn't do anything to keep me happy as man. So the relationships broke down," said Peterson.

"What do you mean?" asked Bashir.

"Oh, romantically. They would get tied up with the kids and so forth and there was no excitement in the marriage," said Peterson. "I'm basically attracted to young, beautiful women with good personalities... That's what I'm attracted to."

Peterson blames the interview for starting a fight with Raines, who he said then accused him of lying and ended the engagement.

ABC News spoke to Raines' father, Ernie Raines, who also took issues with Peterson's "Nightline" interview. He said it was an accurate portrayal of Peterson and says it definitely contributed to his daughter's decision.

"How dare Drew say he will just get tired of my daughter and then move on!" Ernie Raines said. "Who does he think he is? He's nobody!"

On Friday, Ernie Raines called the Bolingbrook Police Department when Peterson would not let him in to get his daughter and her things. Five squad cars responded to his call and helped him remove Raines belongings.

Raines reportedly returned an engagement ring and cell phone. She has moved herself and her children back into an apartment she shared with an ex-boyfriend.

Peterson is the prime suspect in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, and the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy. On Nightline, Peterson admitted he liked the attention from the media. However, on Friday he called it Drew TV.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Evidence tampering alleged in Phil Spector trial

Prosecutors allege the defense team manipulated the volume of a fountain during jurors' visit to Phil Spector's mansion in 2007. The judge may order the fountain turned off during the retrial visit.
By Harriet Ryan January 27, 2009

Phil Spector was peeved. The most important houseguests of his life -- a dozen jurors, a judge and a cadre of attorneys -- were set to arrive at his turreted mansion to inspect the scene of an actress' death and he was appalled at the setup dictated by the court.

"I won't allow it. It's still my [expletive] house," Spector typed in the Aug. 8, 2007, e-mail to his attorneys. He used profane nicknames to refer to the two deputy district attorneys prosecuting him for murder and threatened to make a scene if they got out of line.

"I am warning you now," he wrote, "I have a big mouth."

The e-mail that the legendary music producer dashed off a year and a half ago in the privacy of his Alhambra estate emerged in public Monday at Spector's retrial amid allegations that his defense team may have manipulated key evidence in advance of the jury view in the first trial.

Outside the presence of jurors, a prosecutor asked the judge to block a field trip during the retrial. He said an e-mail written by a jury consultant suggested that the defense may have adjusted an outdoor fountain to mislead jurors during the first trial. Spector's perturbed e-mail was a response to other information contained in the consultant's letter.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, who presided at the first trial and is overseeing the current case, said a visit proposed for next week can go forward, but the fountain must be shut off because of his concern about possible tampering in 2007. "Whether there was or there wasn't I cannot conclusively say because there is not enough evidence before the court," the judge said of the tampering allegations.

Spector's current lawyer, who did not represent him during the first proceeding, and the jury consultant denied that the defense did anything wrong. The fountain's volume is crucial to defense attempts to discredit prosecution witness Adriano DeSouza, a chauffeur who has said that immediately after Lana Clarkson was shot to death inside the house, Spector walked outside and said, "I think I killed somebody."

Spector's lawyer contends that the burbling fountain interfered with the driver's hearing. The night before the site visit, jury consultant Richard Gabriel sent an e-mail to one of Spector's defense attorneys: "Fountain will be on full bore for site visit tomorrow, yes?" The e-mail came into the prosecution's hands after Spector accidentally forwarded it with his comments to a former assistant who posted it online. Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Jackson said the phrase "full bore" indicates that "there is something else, maybe half bore or three-quarters bore."

Spector's attorney, Doron Weinberg, however, told the judge, "All he is saying is make sure it isn't turned down." Reached in his office, Gabriel said the intent of the e-mail, which included warnings about letting prosecutors dictate the focus of jurors' attention at the scene, was to ensure a "truly neutral jury view." "Our concern was that jurors would be able to experience the sound of the fountain as it had been that night and nothing more," he said.

The 2007 visit to the palatial home known as the Pyrenees Castle was accompanied by great fanfare, including news helicopters, closed streets and dozens of law enforcement officers. The fountain was running while the jurors inspected the driveway and the rooms on the ground floor of the mansion. The next month, the panel was unable to reach a unanimous verdict and the case ended in a mistrial.

The judge said he would finalize his ruling unless Spector's lawyer presents evidence that the fountain's volume is immutable. Weinberg said he believed that the fountain had only two modes -- on and off -- but was investigating further.

In another decision, Fidler precluded Spector's wife from appearing at her husband's side during the jury's visit as she did during the first trial. Jackson objected to her presence before jurors, which, he said, conveyed the image of "a nice little family." The judge said Rachelle Spector, a constant presence at both trials, is allowed to remain on the premises, but must stay out of the jury's sight.

Spector, 68, faces 18 years in prison if convicted of killing Clarkson, 40. His defense, which contends the actress shot herself, called as its first witness Monday afternoon the county medical examiner.

Texas Inmate Ricardo Ortiz Executed for Killing Fellow Prisoner

Thursday, January 29, 2009

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Texas has executed a prison gang member who fatally injected a fellow inmate with an overdose of heroin in retaliation for snitching on him.

Ricardo Ortiz was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. Thursday.

The 46-year-old was the fifth Texas inmate to die this year and the second of two executions in consecutive nights this week in the nation's most active death penalty state.

Ortiz was condemned for the retaliation slaying of 22-year-old Gerardo Garcia more than 11 years ago. Authorities say Garcia was killed so he couldn't testify about bank robberies the pair was suspected of carrying out.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal Thursday to delay the execution. Ortiz had argued he should get federal money to pay for help filing a state clemency request.

Judge: Casey Anthony can't skip court hearings

Sarah Lundy

Sentinel Staff Writer
January 29, 2009

Casey Anthony will have to appear in court for Friday's hearing.Orange Circuit Court Judge Stan Strickland just denied Anthony's efforts to not be there. Earlier this week, Anthony's attorney, Jose Baez, filed an objection to Strickland's order that required Anthony to be at all court hearings except for ones dealing with routine scheduling issues.

The attorney ticked off nearly a dozen reasons why she shouldn't be forced to attend, including how the media focuses on her appearance and generates "unsubstantiated rumors" about her physical condition and the constant negative exposure further erodes her right to a fair trial.

Friday's hearing will focus on Baez's request to inspect the area where Caylee's remains were found in December. Prosecutors plan to ask the judge to strike a portion of the defense's witness list that refers to the state's list.
Legal maneuver by Casey's lawyers called 'surreal'
Amy L. Edwards Sentinel Staff Writer
January 29, 2009
Casey Anthony's defense team is asking a judge to grant a legal maneuver rare in Florida: to remove the prosecutors from the case.
Legal experts and area prosecutors couldn't recall any cases in recent history in which such a request by the defense was granted.
But two Florida law professors interviewed by the Orlando Sentinel said they were not surprised that New York lawyer Linda Kenney Baden, who is working with Kissimmee defense attorney Jose Baez, made the request earlier this week. "These sorts of motions are more common in high-stakes cases, like death-penalty cases," said Bob Dekle, a retired prosecutor who teaches legal skills at the University of Florida. "When the stakes get very high, things tend to get surreal, and things happen . . . that don't normally happen in the run-of-the-mill shoplifting and DUI cases."
Charles Rose, a professor at the Stetson University College of Law, agreed with Dekle and said things get blown out of proportion in "lightning-rod" cases such as Anthony's, in which she is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie.
"The defense thinks in its mind that the state is trying to get them off the case or to call into question the defense attorney's credibility, hoping that somehow that will have an impact at trial," Rose said. "What you really see is a tit-for-tat. You made me look dirty and so now I'm going to do the same for you."
In the motion, Baden addressed a Florida Bar investigation of Baez stemming from news releases by Todd Black of Press Corps Media, who has acted as a spokesman for the defense lawyer. Baden also questioned the State Attorney's Office involvement in the matter.
A Florida Bar official told the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday that it initiated the investigation after the State Attorney's Office faxed the news releases in question to the Bar in October.
Two of those releases criticized State Attorney Lawson Lamar.
The Bar closed its file Jan. 22, finding that no disciplinary proceedings against Baez were appropriate. Timothy Chinaris, an attorney representing Baez in the inquiry, wrote a lengthy letter to the Bar in November explaining Baez's relationship with Black.
Spokesman or not?
In the Nov. 21 letter, Chinaris stated Baez did not retain and does not pay Press Corps Media. None of the news releases in question were prepared "at the direction, or with the assistance, of Mr. Baez. None of the documents were seen by Mr. Baez before their release."
Chinaris stated that Press Corps Media was retained by a Connecticut family "who is sympathetic to the plight of Ms. Anthony and her family."He stated that after Baez began representing Anthony, the lawyer was bombarded with media calls and "consented" to let Press Corps Media help field calls and other contacts with the media. "His relationship with PCM has been limited to these areas," the letter stated.
The Sentinel contacted Baez on Wednesday to inquire about the letter, which seems to contradict earlier statements from both Baez and Black. In a Sept. 4 news release, Black wrote that Press Corps Media "has been retained by The Baez Law Firm to coordinate any and all media inquiries." An Oct. 17 release stated Black is the "spokesperson for The Baez Law Firm."
A Nov. 3 release from Press Corps Media introducing a new media contact for the case said, "Todd will remain closest to Jose A. Baez and continues as Lead Media PMK for The Baez Law Firm." Baez himself, in an October news conference he held to address statements Black made about the case on CNN Headline News, said, "He [Black] does not have any legal opinions whatsoever. He's simply a spokesman for our firm." On Wednesday, Baez said Chinaris' letter to the Bar is 100 percent accurate.
"What Mr. Chinaris said in his letter is the full extent of the service they provide for us," Baez said. He would not comment further. The letter stated that Baez has asked Press Corps Media to let him "review and approve all future media releases."
Prosecutors: No comment
In her motion requesting the prosecutors be removed from the case, Baden stated that by reporting the news releases to The Florida Bar, the State Attorney's Office engaged in "egregious behavior."
The State Attorney's Office would not comment Wednesday on the motion. A spokeswoman said the office would address the matter in court. Baden said the Bar's complaint process should not be used by prosecutors "to attempt to have the attorney for the defendant tainted by an investigation, be under press criticism for alleged misconduct which inures to the detriment of the defendant . . ."
Rose and Dekle, however, said they see no wrongdoing on the State Attorney's part based on what they know of the matter. That's because attorneys have an ethical duty, according to lawyer rules, to report any suspected wrongdoing involving other lawyers.
"In a case like this . . . you do it, and you do it in a restrained fashion so it does not appear that you're being vindictive," Rose said. It was not known Wednesday when the motion will be heard. A hearing for the case is scheduled for Friday morning to address unrelated issues.
Spokespeople for Casey Anthony's defense attorney: We don't use our real names
Amy L. Edwards Sentinel Staff Writer
January 29, 2009
The spokesman for Casey Anthony's defense attorney -- a man whose news releases triggered a recent Florida Bar investigation -- just told the Orlando Sentinel that Todd Black is not his real name. Black said in a telephone interview this morning that it is an "abbreviated" last name he's used professionally. Black did not say what his legal name is.
Black has acted as a spokesman for lawyer Jose Baez through a company called Press Corps Media. He will not participate in in-person media interviews and has faxed most of his news releases, which appear to be written on a typewriter.
After the initial interview with Black this morning, a Sentinel reporter left the spokesman a voicemail asking that he again clarify what his legal name is. Another Press Corps Media contact, Sabrina Cane, responded by sending an e-mail stating that Black was in the middle of a "Do Not Disturb" case conference.
"In general we can tell you that it's been standard procedure for many years to have our company's story reps utilize abbreviated names for security purposes, most especially now with the Casey Anthony Case that is overrun with hostile attitudes and serious threats that have been generated by negative media coverage," the e-mail stated.
Multiple attempts to reach Black or Cane through that e-mail addresses have been unsuccessful -- an "undeliverable" return e-mail states that address is not accepting any mail.
The Florida Bar initiated an investigation into Baez in October after the State Attorney's Office faxed several releases from Black to the Bar. Two of the releases criticized State Attorney Lawson Lamar. The Bar found that no disciplinary proceedings against Baez were appropriate, and closed the file Jan. 22. One letter submitted to the Bar was from Press Corps Media and its president, Peter Tillman.
The Sentinel attempted to contact Tillman by leaving a voicemail at the telephone number provided on the letterhead, but Black returned the phone call. "He's not interested in discussing anything with you," Black said of Tillman.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Two Detained In Alleged Travolta Extortion Plot

Friday, January 23, 2009
Police in the Bahamas have detained an island lawmaker and a paramedic in an alleged plot to extort money from actor John Travolta.

Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Marvin Dames said Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater has been held since Thursday in the case.

He said a second suspect is ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne, who was detained on Friday. Lightbourne was quoted by several tabloids describing efforts to revive Travolta's 16-year-old son Jett.

Jett died of a seizure earlier this month at a family vacation home on Grand Bahama island.
Bahamas authorities did not provide details about the alleged plot, and attorneys for Travolta did not immediately return calls.

Celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com said that the alleged extortion plot does not involve rumors of pictures of Jett as he was dying.

The Web site tracked down the manager of Emergency Services where the teen died, and said that she "went ballistic" over the reports that photos were taken.

"No. We do not have a picture of Jett Travolta. No one took a picture. What are you trying to get people fired?" the manager screamed, TMZ said.

Man Enters Plea In Travolta Extortion Case


Paramedic Pleads Not Guilty To Charges
January 27, 2009
NASSAU, Bahamas -- A paramedic has been charged in an alleged plot to extort $25 million from John Travolta after his teenage son suffered a seizure and died at the family's home in the Bahamas.

Magistrate Carolita Bethel said that 47-year-old Tarino Lightbourne pleaded not guilty Monday to attempting to extort and conspiracy to extort from the actor.

Details of the alleged scheme have still not been made public. Prosecutor Bernard Turner is objecting to bail. He said police are looking for a "certain document" and believe they may not find it if Lightbourne is released.

A Bahamian senator also accused of extortion has resigned and vowed to prove her innocence.

Bahamas Sen. Accused In Travolta Plot Resigns


Lawmaker Says She Innocent But Must Fight 'Untrue, Unfair Charges'
Saturday, January 24, 2009

NASSAU, Bahamas -- A Bahamas lawmaker accused of trying to extort money from actor John Travolta after the death of his son is resigning. Former Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater said she is innocent but that she needs to fight what she calls "untrue and unfair charges."

Police arrested her Thursday on charges of abetment to extort and conspiracy to extort. She was released Friday on $40,000 bail.

Bridgewater on Saturday called the ordeal a "nightmare" and said her "innocent actions" as an attorney were misconstrued. She did not provide details. Police also detained an ambulance driver and a former tourism minister who has since been released.

Police said Travolta had filed a complaint of attempted extortion but did not release details.

Baez Seeks Removal Of Prosecutors From Anthony Case

Lawyer Wants Attorney General To Take Over
January 28, 2009

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The attorney for Casey Anthony, who is charged with murdering her daughter, Caylee, filed a motion Tuesday asking a judge to remove prosecutors from the case.

Jose Baez -- in a rare move -- filed an emergency motion to recuse State Attorney Lawson Lamar and his employees from the case. Baez believes local prosecutors may be secretly trying to smear his reputation and, therefore, hurt Anthony's right to a fair trial.

Baez believes the Florida bar has been investigating him for ethics violations and suspects that someone from Lamar's office may anonymously be fueling the investigation by sending paperwork to the bar, perhaps in an attempt to descredit Baez, Local 6 News reported.

At a news conference last week, Baez denied any wrongdoing in the case. "I have absolutely no book deals or no entertainment deals or any contingency fees," Baez said.

Baez wants Florida Attorney General Bill McCullom to take over the case from Tallahassee.
Local 6 News reported that Baez cannot prove that the state attorney's office is trying to sabotage him but is hoping the judge will hold a hearing on the matter, so he can question state employees under oath to see if they complained about him to the bar.

The defense believes the ability to file anonymous complaints was not intended for a prosecutor's office to try to have an attorney for a defendant tainted by an investigation.

Calls to the state attorney's office were not returned.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FLDS teen disputes mom's book

Left, Carolyn Jessop, mother of Betty.
Betty Jessop, Right, is writing her own account.

By Brooke Adams
The Salt Lake Tribune

Yearning For Zion Ranch, Texas »
Betty Jane Jessop's favorite phrase: "Good grief!" That's what Betty utters as she reads the new epilogue in her mother's best-selling book, Escape . In those pages, Carolyn Jessop describes her daughter's return to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, calling her brainwashed.

"It just makes me want to laugh," said Betty, 19, shaking her head. Besides Carolyn herself, the character in Escape that most intrigues readers is Betty -- the second of Carolyn's eight children with FLDS bishop Merril Jessop. Why, they ask, did Betty return to the sect after four years in mainstream society, and is she OK?

Soon they may be able to read Betty's answer to those questions. Since April, the teenager has been working on a book about her experiences, aided by older sister Maggie Jessop.
Betty said she decided to write the book after watching news reports about Texas authorities' raid on the Yearning For Zion Ranch and her mother's "ridiculous" comments about the community. "It is time for the other side of the story to be told," said Betty, who will shop it to publishers this spring.

Carolyn Jessop, who will speak at the Sugar House Barnes & Noble bookstore at 7 p.m. today, declined an interview about her daughter, saying only that "Betty has the right" to share her views. In her book, Carolyn holds out hope Betty will return to her.

Based on several early chapters, Betty's book -- the first by an active FLDS member -- promises an intriguing perspective on her family, her view of mainstream society and the sect's beliefs.
Both Betty and Maggie Jessop said their father set several rules for the project: Tell the truth, let readers reach their own conclusions, and do not slam Carolyn.

"He has specifically worked with Betty to forgive her mother and not express bad feelings about what happened to her," Maggie Jessop said. Merril Jessop oversees the sect's Texas ranch and has been indicted for conducting an illegal marriage involving a daughter who allegedly was spiritually married at age 12 to FLDS leader Warren S. Jeffs. Carolyn has said one reason she left the sect is she feared such a marriage for Betty.

Betty is slim, with strawberry blond hair, fair skin and a laugh that comes often. She was 13 in 2003 when her mother left and moved to Salt Lake City. As described in Escape -- and acknowledged by Betty -- she went kicking and screaming. Betty said traumatic years followed as she struggled to cope with mainstream society and fought with her mother.

Their arguments, she said, centered on her desire to live according to the sect's principles and her mother's determination to keep her from the faith, her father and her extended family.
"I was such a representation of everything she hated so much," Betty said.

On July 2, 2007, Betty turned 18. Two days later she returned to the sect, celebrating what she now calls her own independence day. "I just couldn't deny what was in my heart -- my belief in my religion and my love for my father and my family," she said. "I spent four years [in mainstream society], and there is nothing there for me.

"I would never trade my experience for anything in the world," she said. "It made my fire and determination much more intense." Betty has not married, though she said she looks forward to becoming "part of a home that is alive, never ending, growing." She spends about eight-hours most days on her book, splitting her time between San Antonio and the ranch. Betty also works in the community's sewing factory, helps with meals and spends time with her other siblings.
Betty said she has drawn from personal journals for details about her childhood, her parents' divorce and experiences living away from the FLDS community.

She expects former classmates at Midvale Middle School and West Jordan High School will be surprised by "how ornery and aggressive" she was at home given the quiet, calm facade she put on in public.

Betty said her mother's health problems -- Carolyn says in her book she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder -- meant many household and child care duties fell to her, even on school days. Betty quips that resulted in her own "current-traumatic stress disorder."
"With the responsibility landing on me so hard every morning, I was an emotional wreck, and after a while, I hardened into a frazzled bundle of nerves," she writes. Betty said that after two years -- and ongoing threats to send her to foster care -- she moved in with an uncle who had also left the FLDS.

At public school, the "unbridled vulgarity and immorality" were a shock, Betty writes, and the pressure almost unbearable. It was hard "to see how students acted, their language and how teachers didn't do anything about it," Betty said. She focused on succeeding academically in part to disprove her mother's criticism of FLDS schools.

"I was constantly told I wouldn't do good in school and that I would be persecuted because of how I looked," said Betty, who graduated with honors. Despite the mocking and questions she got at school, Betty wore the sect's conservative, body-covering dresses, even in gym class.

There were other awkward moments. In one class, she was asked to share plans following graduation. College? A church mission? Work? "That was a tricky question on my part," Betty said. "How do I say what I want in front of all these people who already think I'm weird?"
Her answer? "I'm not sure," she said. The teacher pressed, but Betty kept silent. "I couldn't say I wanted to go home and be a mother in Zion," Betty said. "They wouldn't understand that."

She made some friends, but visiting their homes reinforced her desire to return to her polygamous community. "The feeling I got, it was so empty," she said. While her mother describes Merril Jessop as a cruel husband and father, Betty speaks of him as loving, kind and with an "unconquerable spirit."

Betty said she and her mother have not spoken since September, when she called to wish a younger brother happy birthday. "She doesn't call me and neither do my siblings," Betty said. "I miss [my siblings] so much and hope with all my heart they can survive."

Firefighter Who Took Foot Charged With Theft

Firefighter Who Took Foot Charged With Theft

Monday, January 26, 2009
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Authorities say the St. Lucie County firefighter who took a man's severed foot from an Interstate 95 crash scene last year has been charged with misdemeanor theft.

Florida Highway Patrol says Cindy Economou was arrested on Monday. She told authorities shortly after the Sept. 19 crash that she took the remains to help train her cadaver dog. She eventually resigned from the St. Lucie County Fire District.

FHP Lt. Tim Frith says the severity of a theft charge is usually determined by the value of what is stolen. Since there's no law specifically dealing with the theft of a body part, he says it was difficult to determine the monetary value of the foot.

Economou was released from jail on her own recognizance Monday afternoon.

Lee Anthony's Attorney Says Client May Be Charged

Lee Anthony's Attorney Says Client May Be Charged
Attorney: Lee Anthony Could Face Obstruction Of Justice Charge

January 26, 2009
Lee Anthony’s attorney is speculating that his client may be charged in connection with his actions while his niece, Caylee Anthony, was missing.

Casey Anthony, Lee Anthony’s sister, is charged with Caylee’s murder. Caylee was 2 when she was reported missing in July. Her remains were found near the Anthony family home in December.

His attorney, Tom Luka, said the fact that Lee Anthony has not received a subpoena to testify could signal that the state may be looking to file charges against him. If he was subpoenaed, anything he said at a hearing could not be used against him in subsequent criminal charges.

"There were a number of instances where he was acting on behalf of his sister, or on behalf of law enforcement, that now could be seen as something less than benign or could be seen as hindering the investigation instead of assisting it," Luka said.

Luka said he fears his client may be charged with obstruction of justice or evidence tampering.
Lee Anthony has also been under other family related stresses, his attorney said.

"He’s struggling with the grief of the death of his niece, he is struggling with the fact that his sister, who he is very close to, is in jail and facing life in prison," Luka said. "He is facing the fact that the economic situation in his house is not the best."

Lee Anthony has been working 18-hour days arranging parking areas for the Super Bowl. He also moved home to save money on rent.

Meanwhile, a new witness list has been filed by the prosecution in the case against Casey Anthony.

The state filed the witness list Monday morning. It included the names of more than 140 potential witnesses, including Zenaida Gonzalez and several members of Anthony’s extended family.

Also on Monday, Anthony’s defense attorney, Jose Baez, filed new court documents Monday morning. The documents asked for unspecified sanctions against the state for failing to furnish the defense team with evidence from two experts in the case.

For the full list of witnesses, hit this:

Promotions company suspends launch of Caylee Anthony doll

Amy L. Edwards Sentinel Staff Writer
January 27, 2009

The Jacksonville promotions company that announced plans Monday to sell a doll inspired by Caylee Marie Anthony is now suspending its launch.

In an e-mail statement this morning, Showbiz Promotions president Jaime Salcedo stated: "After reviewing the response to our media introduction of the Sunshine Caylee Doll and listening to the advice of the general public. We feel that is it (sic) best to suspend the launch of The Sunshine Caylee Doll."

The company planned to start selling "The Inspirational Caylee Sunshine Doll" today for $29.99. The doll plays the song "You Are My Sunshine" when her bellybutton is pushed. The blond, 18-inch doll wears jeans and a T-shirt depicting a sun and the phrase: "CAYLEE SUNSHINE."

Salcedo told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday that the doll purposely does not look like the slain toddler, whose remains were found near her east Orange County home last month, because that would be too morbid.News of the product outraged the attorney representing Caylee's grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony.

"This is an example of another person trying to profit from the tragedy of Caylee's death," lawyer Brad Conway said Monday. "He has never met my clients, spoken to my clients and has not gotten authority of any type to do this. And after I have a chance to research it, I will likely take whatever legal action I can."

Artist sells Casey Anthony voodoo dolls


Amy L. Edwards Sentinel Staff Writer
January 27, 2009

The same week that a promotions company announced its plans to sell a doll inspired by slain toddler Caylee Marie Anthony, someone is selling three voodoo dolls of the girl's mother on eBay. Three Casey Anthony voodoo dolls are for sale on the popular Web site, starting at $19.99.

A description of the priciest doll, with a starting bid of $29.99, is made by a New Orleans artist who is a "studied, practiced and renound (sic) Spiritual Healer; Gemologist and Jeweler. Equally engages in healing and spiritual craftmaking, (sic) and in designing and manufacturing spiritual (sic) and uniquie (sic) jewel crafts (emphasis on Voodoo Dolls and Dreamcatchers).The $29.99 doll states it is signed by the artist, who is unnamed, and is accompanied by handcuffs, a Bible and white sunglasses.

One of the voodoo dolls, which appears to be made out of money, is called the "New Orleans Casey Anthony Mad Money Voodoo Doll." The other is called "Sing the Blues."

Both ventures are very tacky...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Prosecutors in Phil Spector murder trial close with testimony from actress' mother

January 23, 2009

Donna Clarkson, the mother of victim Lana Clarkson, took the witness stand. She said her daughter's purchase of eight pairs of shoes prior to her death proved she was not suicidal.

After weeks of hearing from forensic experts, jurors listen to Lana Clarkson's mother refute the defense's contention that her daughter committed suicide.

By Harriet Ryan January 23, 2009

After weeks of complex scientific testimony in which forensic experts held forth on the intricacies of the human anatomy, the aerodynamics of blood and the microscopic properties of fabric, the prosecution in Phil Spector's murder retrial rested its case Thursday with a lay witness and an appeal to common sense.
A suicidal woman, the final government witness suggested, does not buy new shoes. The testimony came from Donna Clarkson, whose actress daughter, Lana, suffered a fatal bullet wound in the foyer of the music producer's Alhambra mansion six years ago.

Her account of shopping with her daughter a day before her death capped nine weeks of prosecution testimony and was an attempt to answer the defense's contention that Clarkson, 40, died by her own hand.
In a soft voice, Donna Clarkson recounted helping her daughter select eight pairs of shoes appropriate for the actress' new job as a hostess at the House of Blues. "It's hard to find flat, black shoes," Clarkson said, smiling slightly. "That was like a little miracle. "The new shoes included Mary Janes familiar to jurors from police photos that show Lana Clarkson's lifeless body sprawled on a chair in the entryway of Spector's 30-room residence."They were the ones she liked best," her mother said.
Spector, famed for his work with pop acts such as the Beatles and Tina Turner, is standing trial for the second time in connection with the Feb. 3, 2003, shooting. He and Clarkson met three hours before her death when she escorted him to a table in the House of Blues' VIP section. She later agreed to accompany him home for a drink. The first trial, in 2007, ended when jurors deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of conviction. The 68-year-old faces a minimum of 18 years in prison if found guilty of second-degree murder.
The retrial has progressed largely without the hoopla that the first proceeding attracted. There are no television cameras and far fewer spectators in Judge Larry Paul Fidler's courtroom. Spector still arrives each morning in his trademark sartorial splendor -- a tuxedo jacket with a cream silk tie and pocket square Thursday -- but his presence creates less of a stir. He has reduced his security from a retinue of three bodyguards to a single man who shadows Spector and his wife, Rachelle.
Since the retrial began Oct. 29 in Superior Court, it has progressed through distinct stages, starting with the accounts of five women who said Spector terrorized them with guns under circumstances prosecutors say were similar to events surrounding Clarkson's death. Their testimony was followed by witnesses who recounted Spector's behavior the night Clarkson died, including a chauffeur who said that immediately after the shot rang out, Spector emerged from the house with a gun in his hand and a confession on his lips."I think I killed somebody," the driver quoted him as saying.
A month of forensic testimony culminated earlier this week with a criminalist telling jurors that blood spots on Spector's dinner jacket and Clarkson's slip dress placed the defendant within 3 feet of her face when the gun went off.
The choice of Clarkson's mother as the last witness before Spector opens his defense underscores the central role of the actress' mental state in the trial. A tall blond with blue eyes, Clarkson achieved cult fame starring in the 1985 film "The Barbarian Queen," but mainstream success eluded her. The defense has portrayed her as a psychologically fragile woman brought low by her flagging prospects in Hollywood, the approach of middle age, and romantic and financial misfortunes, but the prosecution has presented her as a resourceful optimist who remained determined about her future.
Her mother, a nurse who told jurors she had worked with psychiatric patients for 24 years, said that at the time of her death, her daughter had at least two jobs lined up -- a photo shoot for a phone ad and a fitness machine infomercial that did not pay but came with free personal training. Lana Clarkson had sent an e-mail RSVP to a friend's party, her mother said, and had scheduled an appointment to have her taxes done.
Donna Clarkson has been a constant presence at both trials, sitting in the front row with lawyers who will file a civil suit against Spector when the criminal matter is over. In the half-hour she spent in the witness chair, she never lost her composure, but her voice quivered and her eyes reddened as she told jurors that her daughter's last words to her were "I love you." She acknowledged that the actress was strained financially. She said she had given her daughter money to pay for head shots and picked up the $155 tab for the new shoes. Spector's lawyer pressed her about letters she found in her daughter's home purported to be from entertainment executives enthusiastic about her talent. Called to the stand at the last trial, the executives said they were forgeries.
Spector's attorney, Doron Weinberg, told jurors in his opening statement that Clarkson's death may have been a spur-of-the-moment act of self-destruction rather than a thought-out decision to end her life. Outside court, he said interpreting Clarkson's shoe purchase or future appointments as an argument against suicide reflected a "fundamental misconception" that all people who kill themselves "set some date in the future . . . and then cancel all other activities."
"There is a category of suicide that is impulsive and unplanned," he said. The defense witness list includes a clinical psychologist who studied the impulsiveness of suicide attempts on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, he noted.

Reports Say Casey Anthony's Brother Not Cooperating

ORLANDO -- There have been reports that sheriff's investigators want to talk with Lee Anthony, Casey Anthony's brother, but that he has not been cooperative.

News 13 attempted to talk to Lee Anthony's attorney on Monday, but he said he was unavailable for comment. Also, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said Sgt. John Allan, the lead investigator in the Casey Anthony case would not comment on the reports.

What News 13 has learned is that the Anthonys have not been talking with the sheriff's office recently. News 13 was told the Thursday before George Anthony disappeared that Allan said if the Anthonys would come forward with any "truthful" information, they would be more than happy to sit down and talk with them. It shows a clear rift between the Anthonys and the agency investigating their daughter's case.

Anthony Continues Stay In Hospital

George Anthony continues to be monitored at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach and his lawyer, Brad Conway, said it will be later this week before he is released.

Anthony was taken to Halifax Medical Center on Friday after disappearing to a Daytona Beach motel and then sending his family messages saying he wanted to kill himself and that he wanted to be with his murdered 2-year-old granddaughter, Caylee.

Police said Anthony had taken several sleeping pills, and an unfinished suicide letter was found in his vehicle. Anthony is being held for psychiatric observation under the Baker Act.

Conway said he didn't think Anthony was ready to be released, saying he needs help to begin the healing process. The hospital confirmed Anthony's status.

"Mr. Anthony is still in stable condition and his discharge date has not yet been determined, so there really isn't any new updates right now," said Salina Wang, a spokeswoman for Halifax Medical Center.

Appearing on a national TV interview, Conway also said he hopes to set the burial plans for Caylee Anthony this week.

The grandparents have held off on a burial so the defense team for Caylee's mother, Casey, could examine the remains that were found in Orange County last month. However, Conway said it is time to get on with it.

Sheriff: Dog Stopped Rape Attempt

Attacker Fled After Being Bitten, Deputies Say
Saturday, January 24, 2009

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. -- A Boston terrier stopped a rape attempt in Pompano Beach, sheriff's deputies said.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office said a 46-year-old woman allowed a man inside her apartment Wednesday after he said he was a repairman. Once inside, however, the man attacked her, deputies said.

Her female dog then bit the man on the shoulder, and he fled the apartment, according to the sheriff's office.

The woman was treated at a hospital and released.

She described her attacker as 40 to 55 years old, about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds. She said he has wavy brown and gray hair and very white teeth.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office.

Bathroom at center of search for Adam Herrman

The Wichita Eagle
Larry W. Smith/Correspondent

TOWANDA, KS - JANUARY 24, 2009: A man and a search dog look through the woods along the river for the remains of missing Adam Herrman who went missing in 1999 outside of Towanda, Kansas on Saturday, January 24, 2009.

In a recent search of the home where 11-year-old Adam Herrman lived when he disappeared in 1999, investigators spent three hours checking a bathroom for clues and used a chemical that can detect blood traces, the current homeowner said.

Butler County Sheriff Craig Murphy said Saturday he couldn't comment on whether investigators obtained evidence but confirmed that the search focused on the bathroom.
"We looked at every inch of that bathroom," Murphy said in Towanda, where search teams Saturday scoured the east bank of the Whitewater River but found no remains of the missing boy. His decade-old disappearance was discovered late last year after a tip to authorities.

Close relatives of Adam's adoptive parents, Doug and Valerie Herrman, have said they saw him being kept for long periods in the bathroom, when the manufactured home sat in a Towanda mobile home park, before being moved to Sedgwick County.

Valerie Herrman has said that she kept her adoptive son in a bathroom at night, with plenty of bedding, on the advice of a psychiatrist after he threatened the family.

A new search along the Whitewater River at Towanda on Saturday found "nothing of any interest," Murphy said. It was the second search that investigators have conducted along the river this month, looking for Adam's remains.

When he disappeared about 10 years ago, he and his adoptive family were living in a Towanda mobile home park east of the river. In the months after he disappeared, the family moved the manufactured home to a lot in rural northwest Sedgwick County. Investigators searched the home at that site on Jan. 7. The Herrmans now live in Derby.

Dan McDaniel, the home's current owner, told The Eagle on Friday that investigators focused on a bathroom off the hallway. McDaniel said he knows the investigators used luminol -- a chemical used to detect tiny traces of blood -- because they provided directions for cleaning up powdery residue left by the forensic tool.

Investigators worked in the bathroom for about three hours but apparently didn't dismantle or remove anything in the bathroom, he said. They didn't say whether they detected any blood, he said.

The investigators apologized for the disruption, McDaniel said, but it didn't bother him. "That's a minimal disruption if it helps solve a case like this," he said. McDaniel's wife, Sheri, said of Adam, who would be 21 now, "I just hope that maybe he's still alive."

Murphy has said that investigators have not ruled out that Adam is alive, but Murphy also has consistently said that investigators are looking for Adam's remains. The McDaniels, in their 50s, have lived in the home since May 2003.

Although the couple know that the home is being investigated as part of a possible homicide, Dan McDaniel said it doesn't bother him. "As far as living in the home, no, I'm not uncomfortable," he said. "The house hasn't done anything wrong."

'Not entertainment'

On Saturday, at the search staging area in Towanda, Murphy said he agreed with a recent comment The Eagle obtained from Butler County Attorney Jan Satterfield, the county's chief prosecutor. Satterfield said publicly for the first time that Doug and Valerie Herrman are suspects in their adoptive son's disappearance.

"Yes, they are very possible suspects," Murphy said Saturday. Satterfield also told The Eagle that the investigation could result in first-degree felony murder charges, with the underlying crime being child abuse.

On Thursday, Satterfield said that investigators are "making progress" and are giving her regular briefings about the case. Satterfield said she is reviewing state child welfare records and medical records on Adam. He was the Herrmans' foster child before his adoption by them was finalized in August 1993, when he was 6.

No charges have been filed against the Herrmans, and they and their attorneys have said they are innocent. Referring to the Herrmans, Murphy said they have been the focus of the investigation because they had responsibility for Adam.

Noting that the case has drawn the attention of national talk shows, Murphy said, "It makes (for) interesting conversations." But he added, "They don't know what we know." "This is not entertainment," Murphy said. "This is about Adam Herrman, a boy who went missing. What happened to him, and who's responsible?"

River search continues

For several hours Saturday, starting about 10 a.m., about 15 people searched woods along the Whitewater River on the southwest side of Towanda.

The searchers included Butler County sheriff's investigators, Wichita police with the Wichita-Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit, and a Wichita State University forensic anthropology expert and four students. One of the students carried a small digging tool.

In a tree line, a search dog darted through waist-deep weeds with its head down. Murphy said the search dogs are trained to detect blood, tissue and bones. Shortly after the search began, Murphy said, "We don't know what we're going to find. We don't know what to expect."

He said the search location is not the result of a tip but is based on common sense -- that it is in a secluded area along a body of water, where the boy's remains could be found.

"We feel it's our duty to at least look, even though it's 10 years later," he said. Earlier this month, investigators searched along another section of the Whitewater. The search started around K-254 on the outskirts of Towanda and has moved south. So far, the search has covered about three miles.

In a couple weeks, investigators will conduct a third search south along the river, Murphy said.
Investigators began looking for Adam late last year after learning from a tip that he has been missing since 1999, when he lived at the Towanda mobile home park with his adoptive parents.

The Herrmans said in an Eagle interview that Adam ran away after Valerie Herrman spanked him with a belt. They said they searched for him but he didn't return. Valerie Herrman said they didn't report him missing because they feared the spanking would lead authorities to take Adam and his younger siblings from them.

For years, the Herrmans explained Adam's absence to relatives by saying he had been returned to the state's custody because he had behavior problems, the relatives said. The relatives told The Eagle that Valerie Herrman had abused Adam for years -- an allegation she denies.
Kansas has the death penalty and although there are currently no women housed there (population ten men), I'm sure we could arrange something. I vote for Doug to spend his life in prison and Valerie to get the death penalty. Maybe she could be beaten ("spanked") to death with a belt. Her own blood relation are lining up to testify against her. Sounds like a real classy lady.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Casey Anthony ordered to appear at all court proceedings

Bianca Prieto Sentinel Staff Writer
January 24, 2009

Casey Anthony must attend all court proceedings in her first-degree murder case, except those that deal with scheduling or the status of the case, a judge ordered Friday.
In a one-page order, Circuit Judge Stan Strickland wrote that Anthony, who is charged with killing her daughter, Caylee Marie, has a right to waive her court appearances in writing.
But he said he thought that such a waiver might invite future legal problems, noting the "contentious nature of this matter. . . . "
Earlier this month, Strickland held up a hearing for about an hour while Anthony was transported from jail to the courtroom because she had not filed a written waiver.
She testified that her lawyer had her OK to proceed without her. The judge wanted assurance that she was aware of what her lawyer was doing on her behalf.

I think the judge was tired of her "I don't have to" attitude.

Mom accused of prostituting daughter, 5 Wichita Kansas

The Wichita Eagle

A 48-year-old Wichita woman is accused of prostituting her 5-year-old daughter, and prosecutors say it wasn't the first time.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston on Friday sought a judge's permission to introduce testimony from two of the woman's grown daughters, who said she sold them for sex when they were between the ages of 8 and 14.

When the mother goes on trial, however, the jury will only hear about the 5-year-old. Prosecutors say a man the mother knew for years paid her for sex acts with the child.
Sedgwick County District Judge Greg Waller ruled this week that testimony about the 5-year-old's older sisters won't be allowed at trial.

Waller said the stories of the older women didn't meet the strict guidelines set by the Kansas Supreme Court for introduction of prior bad acts. Prosecutors said they were trying to show a pattern of behavior.

The 48-year-old mother and her friend, Reggie Stafford, 51, are charged with multiple counts of rape, sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

The mother, who is not being named to protect the identity of her daughters, is also charged with aggravated child endangerment.

"This is a weird case," prosecutor Christine Ladner told Waller during Thursday's hearing.
"The sad facts are that (the mother) was the supplier of sex acts by her daughter to the defendant Stafford," Ladner said.

The adult daughters told Waller during a pretrial hearing Friday that they didn't want to testify against their mother.

In court, a 23-year-old daughter denied having sex with Stafford. But a social worker said the woman reported two years ago that she did have sex with Stafford, starting when she was 9 years old.

The woman changed her story in court Friday, after visiting her mother last week in jail.
"I can't testify against my mother," she said, crying. "I can't do it. I'm not doing it."

Her 25-year-old sister said she came forward when she found out the 5-year-old was going through what she had endured.

"I wanted to get it off my chest so I could go on with my life," the woman said, but she added that she was reluctant to testify against her mother.

She said she was 11 when her mom began taking her to see Stafford. The woman said she heard Stafford ask her mother whether she would bring over her other daughter, two years younger.
Defense attorneys Brad Sylvester and Sarah Flint said allowing the testimony would unfairly prejudice a jury.

"There's not a shred of evidence, just words coming out of her mouth," Sylvester said.

The key witness in the case is now 7 years old. She testified in a previous hearing that her mother took her to see Stafford on several occasions, where he performed various sex acts with her.

In return, the girl said Stafford gave her mother $6 or $7, which her mother used to buy alcohol and cigarettes.

The mother has claimed that she has a drinking problem but that she never allowed her child to have sex with Stafford.

Stafford has denied having sex with any of the girls when they were underage. Police said he told them he had sex with the middle daughter -- the one who denied any involvement with him -- after her 18th birthday.

Trial is set for March 2.

A timeline for the Adam Herrman case

An EXCELLENT timeline from the Wichita Eagle/Kansas.com

The Wichita Eagle

From records and recent interviews, The Eagle compiled this timeline for Adam Herrman:

June 8, 1987: Adam is born in Wichita with the name Irvin Groeninger III. He becomes a foster child of Doug and Valerie Herrman, and his adoption is finalized in 1993. His new name is Adam Joseph Herrman. The Herrmans also adopt two of Adam's younger siblings.

1990 or 1991: The Herrmans lose their foster care license after an investigation, which they declined to discuss in detail during a recent Eagle interview.

August 1996: Adam is enrolled in the Derby school district as a fourth-grader at Pleasantview Elementary. Records show his previous schools were St. Mary's, a Derby Catholic school, and El Paso Elementary, a Derby public school.

Nov. 26, 1996: Derby police receive and investigate a report of suspected abuse of Adam at his Derby home, in the 900 block of North Westview. The brief, public portion of the police report lists it as a child-in-need-of-care case. Derby police Lt. Tim Brant said in an e-mail about the case that "it was investigated by our detective and SRS. The matter was referred for counseling through SRS." SRS spokeswoman Michelle Ponce said SRS knows of one case of suspected abuse of Adam in 1996. "It was investigated and found to be unsubstantiated," she said.
Ponce said she could also confirm Valerie Herrman's statement in the Eagle interview that Adam spent two days at the Wichita Children's Home. Valerie Herrman said Adam spent the two days at the Children's Home, then was returned home, after she spanked him with a belt. She said a psychological counselor saw bruises and called police. Doug Herrman said in the interview that they were told that Adam could not be disciplined with a belt.
"I don't think they felt he was in any danger," Doug Herrman said.

Jan. 9, 1998: Derby police receive a report, apparently from Adam's school, Pleasantview, of suspected abuse. The report says the possible abuse occurred days earlier, on Christmas Day 1997 at Adam's home in Derby, in the 300 block of South Willow.
Derby police classified it as a miscellaneous report because an investigation found that no crime occurred, Brant said. "The investigation revealed the injuries occurred while the child was engaged in sporting activity with siblings," Brant said in the e-mail.
Asked by The Eagle whether she could recall the incident, Valerie Herrman said: "They were out playing football... and he had just some bruises on his arms."

Jan. 14, 1998: Adam runs away, according to Derby police. He "returned on his own within two hours of the report and no further action was taken," Brant said. Valerie Herrman said that Adam ran away a total of six to eight times, to get attention. Usually, it was for an hour or two, "and we always found him," she said.

February 1998: Adam withdraws from Pleasantview while in the fifth grade. The family told the district it was moving, records show.
Around the same time, the Herrmans moved to a Towanda mobile home park, Valerie Herrman said. She was the park manager.
She said she might be mistaken but thought that Adam had gone to public school for a short time in Towanda. But the Circle school district, which includes Towanda, said it has no record of him being enrolled.
For most of the family's time in Towanda, Adam was home-schooled, Valerie Herman said. She said he disliked regular school and preferred the one-on-one attention he received from her. Home-schooling also was a better fit for him because he had psychological problems, she said. His younger siblings, meanwhile, attended public school.

First week of May 1999: Adam disappears from his Towanda home. Valerie Herrman said she thinks it was on the weekend.
The 11-year-old ran away after Valerie Herrman spanked him with a belt, she said in the Eagle interview. He didn't return and her husband searched for him, they said in the interview.
They said they didn't report him as a runaway because they feared the spanking would lead to him and his two younger siblings being removed from their home.

Around Thanksgiving 2008: The Herrmans' biological daughter, Crystal, calls SRS in the hopes of learning something about Adam.
She learns from SRS that records show Adam was with the Herrmans until 2005, which contradicts what her parents had told the family for years: that Adam went back to state custody in 1999. She shares this with SRS and voices her allegations that Adam had been abused by her mother, Valerie Herrman.
Crystal's contact with SRS uncovers the fact that Adam disappeared in 1999 and triggers a law enforcement investigation, led by the Butler County Sheriff's Office, of what happened to him.

Dec. 15, 2008: Investigators search the Herrmans' current home in Derby and take a computer, pictures of Adam and medical and psychological reports about him, among other items.

Dec. 31, 2008: Investigators search the Towanda mobile home park where Adam was last seen.

Jan. 3, 2009: Adam's biological parents, now living out of state, and his biological sister tell The Eagle that investigators are seeking samples of their DNA -- to match it with any possible evidence of Adam they might find. The biological parents and sisters say they are stunned to learn that Adam has been missing for nearly 10 years.
The Herrmans' attorney, Warner Eisenbise of Wichita, tells The Eagle that the couple feel "horribly guilty" for not reporting Adam missing in 1999.

Jan. 5, 2009: Butler County Sheriff Craig Murphy holds a news conference in El Dorado, telling reporters that detectives are treating Adam's disappearance as a death, although he could still be alive. Without elaborating, Murphy says investigators are "holding tightly" to something they found and not revealing it. He welcomes national attention to the case, saying it could help locate Adam if he is alive. He asks for the public's help and releases Adam's fourth-grade picture.
In an Eagle interview, Valerie Herrman's relatives accuse her of abusing Adam, including keeping him chained to a bathroom faucet -- allegations she denies. She says Adam had been a difficult child but that she has always loved him and misses him.

Jan. 6, 2009: Investigators release an age-progressed image of what Adam might look like now.
During an interview with The Eagle lasting more than two hours, Valerie and Doug Herrman say they love Adam and miss him. Valerie Herrman denies her relatives' accusations that she abused Adam. She says she did not chain him to a bathroom faucet but did keep him locked in the bathroom on the advice of a psychiatrist after Adam threatened the family.
The Herrmans say they continued to list Adam in court documents as late as 2003, and in a follow-up telephone call, she says they continued to accept $700 monthly adoption subsidy payments for Adam until his 18th birthday, in 2005 -- six years after he disappeared.
"I feel very guilty for stealing that money," she says.
Ponce, the SRS spokeswoman, said SRS has determined the total amount of subsidies the state paid to the Herrmans for Adam over the years. Ponce said SRS won't disclose the amount because it could hinder any potential criminal prosecution. She wouldn't elaborate, but added that if anyone knowingly gives false information to the state to get benefits, "that is a crime."
"We would pursue all legal avenues," she said.
To receive an adoption subsidy, a family must complete an annual, self-reported form asking whether they continue to be legally and financially responsible for the person adopted. The form's questions include whether a child lives with them and whether there are any changes that would affect payment eligibility.
Generally, adoption payments end when the child turns 18. Payments are negotiated before the adoption based on the child's needs, Ponce said. The subsidies are common when a family adopts siblings. Ponce said she couldn't say why the Herrmans received the payments in Adam's case.
The payments are designed to help in cases where adoption placement can be difficult because of a child's medical, emotional and social needs or because the adoption involves a number of siblings, she said.

Jan. 7, 2009: Investigators search the manufactured home that the Herrmans had moved from Towanda, in Butler County, to an area between Bentley and Sedgwick, in rural Sedgwick County.

Jan. 10, 2009: Investigators use dogs to search along the Whitewater River on the west side of Towanda.

Jan. 14, 2009: Acting on an out-of-state tip, authorities spent several hours digging at the empty Towanda mobile home lot where the Herrmans used to live. Workers and investigators -- using a massive excavator and shovels -- dug, probed and sifted soil from under and around a shed that Adam's adoptive father installed around the time Adam was last seen in 1999. Investigators used a "sniffer," a device that can detect gases emitting from a body. But after nearly six hours of searching, Murphy said they found no remains of Adam.

Jan. 15, 2009: A judge in Butler County grants a temporary order prohibiting SRS from releasing records about Adam that "touch upon alleged acts of neglect or child abuse directed towards Adam Herrman." A hearing on whether the prohibition will continue will be held in March.

Jan. 16, 2009: In an interview, Butler County's chief prosecutor, County Attorney Jan Satterfield, said that the Herrmans are suspects in his disappearance and that the investigation could result in first-degree felony murder charges, with the underlying crime being child abuse. The Herrmans have not been charged with any crime, and Valerie Herrman's attorney, Warner Eisenbise, has said that Valerie Herrman denies harming Adam. Attorney Dan Monnat, whose firm is representing Doug Herrman, said, "Doug Hermann is innocent of any act resulting in the disappearance of Adam Herrman."
Also, Murphy said detectives received an interesting tip Jan 15, but he wouldn't elaborate. He described it as "an interesting tip that has created some questions for us that have got to be answered."

Jan. 20, 2009: Murphy announces that officials will look for Adam again on Jan. 24 along the Whitewater River, this time farther south, for about 2 miles. They'll again be assisted by anthropology experts and search dogs, he said. Murphy also says that his detectives are "still working through leads," including "a few leads that have sparked our interest." He wouldn't elaborate.

Jan. 24, 2009: Officials are scheduled to begin their search near the Whitewater River at 8 a.m.

Search for Adam Herrman's remains to continue today along Whitewater River

The Wichita Eagle

Butler County investigators this morning planned to search again along the Whitewater River near Towanda for remains of Adam Herrman.

Adam disappeared in 1999, when he was 11, while living at a Towanda mobile home park. Investigators planned to look again along the Whitewater River, on the west side of town, Butler County Sheriff Craig Murphy has said.

As with a search for Adam earlier this month, investigators will be assisted by anthropology experts and search dogs, Murphy said.
Today's search will be the second of three planned searches along the river, Murphy said.

The search was expected to begin around 8 a.m. and go farther south along the Whitewater, for about 2 miles.

Adam's adoptive mother, Valerie Herrman, has told The Eagle that Adam ran away the first week in May 1999 and never returned. She said Adam ran away after she spanked him with a belt. She said that she and her husband, Doug, didn't report Adam missing because they feared the spanking would prompt authorities to take away Adam and his two younger siblings.
For years, the Herrmans explained Adam's absence to relatives by saying he had been returned to the state's custody because he had behavior problems, the relatives said.

The relatives told The Eagle that Valerie Herrman had abused Adam for years -- an allegation she denies.
And accepted $700 per month from the State to care for him, for a total of $2,100 per month for he and his younger siblings. The State considers the adoption of siblings as a "special needs" adoption, therefor pays for their care and entitles the children to Medicaid, and the parents the income tax exemptions and allowances.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Missouri dad charged with incest, killing infant

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A man suspected of fathering four children with his teenage daughter faces charges of killing at least one after human remains were discovered at the rural home where the family once lived, authorities said Friday.

The 47-year-old man is charged with second-degree murder, endangering the welfare of a child, statutory rape, two counts of incest and two counts of abandoning a corpse.
Three of the children are now dead. The abuse of his now 19-year-old daughter allegedly began when she was 13, Cass County prosecutor Teresa Hensley said.
The Associated Press is withholding the suspect's name to protect the identity of the teen daughter, an alleged sexual assault victim.
"For six years (the daughter) was under his control," Hensley said.
At an arraignment later Friday, the man said he did not yet have an attorney and indicated to a judge that he didn't understand the murder charge. Another hearing was scheduled for Jan. 29.
According to court documents, the teenage daughter told police he had fathered all four children, while the father told detectives he was certain two of them were his. Both said all of the children were delivered at home by the father and his wife. The wife is charged with endangering the welfare of a child for not reporting the alleged sexual abuse and is free on $10,000 bond.
The father was arrested Wednesday night in Daviess County after two sealed coolers with the remains of two infants were found. The third child is believed to have died in Oklahoma. The surviving child, a 3-year-old boy, is in state custody.
After receiving a tip from the sister of the 19-year-old, Cass County authorities in October used cadaver dogs to search the rural property. Nothing was found during that search, but on Jan. 1 new owners found the sealed coolers and contacted police.
The father is charged in the death of a boy born Nov. 17, 2006, and believed to have died of pneumonia on Feb. 28, 2007. Authorities believe the baby became ill and that the suspect and his daughter, who has not been charged, never sought medical attention.
Theresa Sims, a relative who attended Friday's arraignment for the father, said the extended family didn't know about the alleged sexual abuse or the 19-year-old's children until October, when the teenager's sister contacted police.
"We never knew anything, never seen any babies. When we first heard about it, it was just hard to believe," Sims said.
According to court documents, the wife told police she was jealous of the close relationship between her husband and her daughter but desperately wanted a son — even one as a result of incest.
Calls to multiple phone numbers listed under the wife's name were not answered Friday. It wasn't immediately clear whether she has an attorney.
The man's mother said he and the teen had lived in a trailer beside the house where she lived north of Harrisonville, and she wasn't allowed to go back there.
"I didn't know there was a baby," she told The Kansas City Star. "He's my son and I love him, but I can't go along with this."

Attorney: George Anthony Pushed To Brink

Grandfather Text Messaged That He Wants To Be With Caylee
January 23, 2009

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Attorney Brad Conway asked the public and media to respect the Anthony family privacy just hours after George Anthony was found alive with a suicide note on Friday morning.

“This has been nothing less than hell,” Conway said at a news conference in front of the Orange County Courthouse. "George...has been pushed to the brink of what might have been another tragedy in this case."

“They need a little bit of distance,” said Conway, who credited law enforcement with swift action in the case.
George Anthony’s daughter, Casey Anthony, is charged in connection with the death of his granddaughter, Caylee, whose remains were found in December, five months after the family reported her missing.

Authorities in Daytona Beach earlier Friday confirmed that a suicide note was found with George Anthony at a hotel along U.S. Highway 1.

Investigators said the eight-page note indicated George Anthony was at the end of his rope, and that once he was gone, his family would have a better life. He wrote about how strong his daughter, Casey Anthony, is and said he doesn't believe she hurt her daughter, Caylee. However, he did make dark, veiled references to his daughter's friends.

George Anthony also wrote in the letter that his wife, Cindy, could do better than him. He also wrote about his son, Lee Anthony.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Michael Chitwood transported George Anthony to a Daytona Beach hospital for psychiatric evaluation after he was found early Friday morning.

According to officials, George Anthony and his wife were expected to meet with Brad Conway on Thursday, but George Anthony never showed up. Conway called the Orange County Sheriff's Office to file a missing person's report. Listen to the 911 Call

Cindy Anthony said she noticed prescription medicine bottles and a picture of herself and of their daughter, Casey Anthony, missing from the house along with her husband.

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office incident report, George Anthony began sending text messages at 10:47 p.m. Thursday.

His wife told members of the sheriff's office that the messages sent to her and other friends said that he did not want to live anymore, and that he wanted to be with Caylee. Cindy Anthony said he also texted that he wanted to be left alone and to make sure Caylee was in God's arms.

Using the GPS locator on George Anthony's cell phone, police located him at the Hawaii Motel on Ridgewood Avenue near Wilder Boulevard shortly before 2 a.m.

Motel staff said Anthony checked into Room No. 106 on Thursday evening and said he had business in Daytona Beach on Friday. Police said they found remnants of fast food and beer, blood-pressure medication and other pill jars.

Investigators said they used Florida's Baker Act to take Anthony to Halifax Health Medical Center for a mental evaluation. They said Anthony's demeanor was more melancholy than suicidal. No gun was found in the motel room or car.

Anthony was listed in stable condition on Friday. He was admitted and will undergo a medical evaluation and mental health evaluation that will determine the length of his stay, Halifax Health Medical Center spokeswoman Salina Wang said.

The Baker Act allows authorities to transport people to a state mental health facility if they're believed to be a threat to themselves. An involuntary exam can be performed if the person is deemed mentally ill and can be held for up to three days against their will for treatment.

A member of the Orange County Jail's health services staff notified Casey Anthony on Friday of the situation with her father.

At this moment, I could not possibly dislike Casey Anthony any more than I do.

Missing Wichita man's body found near Hesston

The Wichita Eagle

Harvey County authorities on Thursday found the body of a Wichita man who disappeared more than five days earlier under mysterious circumstances.

Wichita police were told shortly after 5 p.m. that the body of Marcus Booker, 30, had been found in his car on a county road northwest of Hesston.

Police spokesman Gordon Bassham said homicide detectives who went to the scene reported that foul play was not suspected.
The cause of death was not disclosed.

Booker's family said he was being treated for lupus, and in recent days had been experiencing significant pain in his hands and feet.
Lupus is a disease that causes a body's immune system to attack its tissues.

Before he disappeared Saturday, Booker sent his wife, Jessica Booker, a text message that said his pain was growing unbearable, and that he loved her and their two children.

He had attended his son's Biddy Basketball game a few hours before sending the text message.
Concerns over the disappearance prompted police on Wednesday to issue a plea for the public's help in finding Booker and the car he was driving.

Police first became concerned Saturday when they found blood on Booker's grandmother's grave in Kechi. Relatives said he was a frequent visitor to the gravesite at 6501 N. Hillside.

There was also blood on Booker's cell phone when it was found Monday in a Harvey County field north of Newton.

Wichita police and the Harvey County Sheriff's Office are continuing their investigation, and police said they planned to release more information on the case today.

Among Booker's survivors are a 5-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Police seek help finding missing Wichita dad

The Wichita Eagle
Marcus Booker went to his son's Biddy Basketball game Saturday morning, and he stopped at a McDonald's restaurant around 10:30 a.m.

The 30-year-old Cargill utility operator talked to his wife about 11 a.m., and the couple were planning to see the movie "Not Easily Broken" that night.

After the brief telephone conversation with his wife, no one is sure what happened to Booker or the silver Mitsubishi he was driving. Neither has been seen since.

Booker was being treated for lupus, and Wichita police said Wednesday that they feared the pain he was feeling from the disease might prompt him to try to harm himself. They issued a public plea for help in finding him.

Police said blood was found at a Kechi cemetery where Booker's grandmother is buried -- a grave site that Booker often visited. And there was blood on Booker's cell phone when a Harvey County farmer found it Monday in a field more than 20 miles north of the cemetery.

Police said their biggest fears were based on a text message Booker sent to his wife, Jessica Booker, at 1:06 p.m. Saturday. "The message said that the pain was getting too bad, and that he loved me and he loved the kids," Jessica Booker said.

"I didn't know what to think. As his wife, knowing him, I could never imagine him hurting himself -- or him giving up on his children.... He's never been suicidal."

Lupus causes a body's tissues to be attacked by its own immune system. Jessica Booker said her husband had recently switched to a new medication that had yet to bring the pain in his hands and feet under control.

"Lately, it's been really bad," she said. "He would rate the pain as a 10 on a 1-to-10 scale. It's been progressively getting worse."

Police said a man matching Booker's description was seen at the cemetery at 6501 N. Hillside between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Jessica Booker said she has no idea how her husband's cell phone ended up in a field in Harvey County.

"That's what none of us can figure out, is what would he be doing driving that way?" she said.
The family is also baffled by the blood. "I have no idea where the blood would have come from," she said. "We don't have a gun in the house."
Aside from the lupus, Jessica Booker said, her husband led the typical lifestyle of a father of a 5-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

"He's a very family-oriented person -- really active in the kids' sports," she said.
"Right now I really am confused. Nothing is adding up for me. My husband has never done anything like this before."

Police are asking anyone with information about Booker's whereabouts to call detectives at 316-268-4181, or Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Heart Sticker Was Placed On Duct Tape On Caylee

How twisted is this?

January 21, 2009

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A new set of documents in the Casey Anthony case was released Wednesday morning.

The material includes confirmation from a forensic report that duct tape was found on the skull of Casey Anthony's daughter, Caylee. On a piece of the tape, investigators found evidence that a heart-shaped sticker was intentionally stuck. (See documents at bottom of article)

Caylee’s remains were found in woods in east Orange County. Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder in connection with her daughter’s death.

Other documents include investigators' reports and other details on meter reader Roy Kronk, who found the remains.

Another report quotes a friend of Casey Anthony who said that Anthony mentioned wanting to use cold medicine to get Caylee to sleep.

The documents also said that within hours of discovering what turned out to be Caylee's remains, investigators filled out a sworn affidavit asking a judge to allow them to search the Anthony's home.

They said they were looking for materials used to make Chloroform, containers to mix it or a receipt showing someone had bought the solvent.

They were also looking to find traces of DNA on garbage bags, garbage bag containers, and duct tape. They were also looking for small toy horses similar to one found near Caylee's remains.
For the first time, WESH 2 has learned that detectives hoped to find any Winnie the Pooh clothing, towels or blankets similar to one found discarded with the body. (Winnie the Pooh was the "theme" for Caylee's nursery.)

Investigators also hoped to find the clothing that Caylee was last seen wearing on June 16, along with her backpack and sunglasses.

All could hold potential clues to how she died. The documents do not indicate if investigators found and removed any of the items they were looking for in their search warrants of the Anthony's home.

WESH 2 News/WESH.com staff members are reviewing the documents, which are the latest in a series released by prosecutors. Check back here regularly for more information and PDFs of the documents.

Also Wednesday, a new motion was filed in the case to allow the defense to inspect the crime scene where Caylee's remains were found.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Massive push to find Adji

January 18, 2009

IMMOKALEE: Saturday could bring the largest number of officers the ground search for missing 6 year-old Adji Desir.

Exactly one week since the boy was last seen playing in Immokalee's Farm Worker Village, the Collier County Sheriff's Office has called in officers from throughout the state for another day of searching.

"Today is an exceptional sweep. We've brought in probably 250 or so law enforcement officers, ATVs, swamp buggies, horses and a myraid of other technical equipment to search again a three mile radius," said Collier County Lt. Tom Smith.

Many of the officers are new to the search. Smith said he hopes they will help ensure "no stone is left unturned."

This expanded effort comes as deputies prepare to end their ground search for Adji, and move their command post from Farm Worker Village to the sheriff's office's Immokalee sub station.
There deputies will rely more heavily on databases like sex offender registries and past case records to continue their investigation.

Also on Saturday deputies asked volunteers to visit Immokalee Community Park to pick up missing child fliers, in hopes they will be distributed throughout the state.

Southwest Floridians will also receive information about Adji's disappearance in their mailboxes.
The US Postal service is mailing 50,000 fliers to households in the region as part of the national "Deliver Me Home" program for missing children.

The reward for information is growing. The FBI announced Friday a $10,000 reward in addition to the $23,000 reward being offered locally.

If you'd like to help get the word out about Adji you can stop by Immokalee Community Park before 2pm Saturday to pick up fliers, or print them out on your own computer by visiting the Collier County website http://www.nbc-2.com/articles/www.colliersheriff.org.