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Justice: Young Lawyer's Pro Bono Work Frees Man Wrongfully Convicted of Murder
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Good news in a case I’ve been following. It was the subject of an NBC Dateline episode, “The Girl with the Blue Mustang.” If you watch it carefully, you’ll note that there is zero evidence against the man who has been in prison for years.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Man convicted of murdering college student set free amid questions over guilt

An Iraq war veteran convicted in the 2000 slaying of college student Michelle O’Keefe was ordered released from state prison Thursday after prosecutors express doubts about his guilt.

“The people no longer have confidence in the conviction,” Los Angeles Deputy Dist Atty. Bobby Grace told a judge, who ordered Raymond Lee Jennings released.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan recommended that Jennings be released immediately from the courthouse but ordered electronic monitoring for Jennings because the case against him has not been dismissed.

Jennings, who worked as a security guard at the Palmdale parking lot where O’Keefe was found, smiled broadly as entered the courtroom.

“He was happy to know, after 11 years, his ordeal is over,” his attorney, Jeffrey Ehrlich, said outside court.

Q: Who is Jennings and how did he come under suspicion?

Jennings was an Army National Guardsman and Iraq war veteran.

Detectives grew suspicious when Jennings he told them the young woman was still alive when he found her but that he did not perform CPR because he feared contaminating the crime scene. But there was no physical evidence linking Jennings to the crime. No weapon was found.

Two juries in Los Angeles deadlocked on the case. But prosecutors got a conviction during a third trial, which was held in Lancaster, in the region where O’Keefe lived.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Blake argued during the trial that Jennings gave inconsistent accounts in statements to detectives and in his deposition and revealed details that only the killer would know, such as the order of the shots that were fired.

What is the new evidence?

Prosecutors are not saying. But Jennings’ attorney offered some clues.

Jeffrey Ehrlich said the new investigation uncovered evidence suggesting a robbery or carjacking and that Jennings had nothing to do with it.

“There were other people at the scene, and D.A.’s office was aware of them, but they only looked at Mr. Jennings,” he said.

In a letter to prosecutors, Ehrlich outlined what he considers the weaknesses of their case. The letter noted that there were several people in the parking lot at the time of the killing who were smoking pot and listening to music. The letter quoted one of the witnesses as saying she saw a man in Toyota Tercel flee the scene.

Ehrlich argued that investigators failed to look into whether other people in the parking lot might be involved in the murder. He noted in the letter that one of the people in the parking lot that night had ties to street gangs and in the years since was involved in series criminal activities.

The prosecutor said the security guard probably made an advance toward O’Keefe and was rebuffed, leading to a confrontation and then the shooting.

“It’s an unspeakable crime for no good reason,” Blake said after the verdict.

Defense attorneys said that Jennings was only speculating about the killing during his interviews and said he inaccurately described one of the victim’s wounds as a gunshot. Medical experts concluded that it was caused by a blow to the head.

What’s next?

Prosecutors have said the new investigation is continuing. It’s unclear whether they plan to charge a new suspect in the killing.

An Iraq war veteran convicted in the 2000 slaying of college student Michelle O’Keefe was ordered released from state prison Thursday after prosecutors express doubts about his guilt.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan ordered that Raymond Lee Jennings be released on his own recognizance after prosecutors filed a writ under seal that the jurist described as making it clear that prosecutors no longer believed in his 2009 conviction in the Palmdale slaying. He was freed Thursday afternoon.

“We are prepared to say the people no longer have confidence in the conviction based on third party culpability,” Los Angeles Deputy Dist. Atty. Bobby Grace told a judge, who ordered Jennings released.

Grace’s statement alluded to a new investigation the District Attorney’s office has launched into February 2000 fatal shooting that has developed new evidence. Grace declined to address specifics outside court but his statement in court supported suggestions by Jennings’ attorneys that another person present that night is responsible for shooting to death O’Keefe.

Prosecutors reopened the case after attorneys for Jennings questioned why Los Angeles Sheriff’s detectives never interviewed several other people at the scene in a car.

… Jennings smiled broadly as entered the courtroom. “He was happy to know, after 11 years, his ordeal is over,” his attorney, Jeffrey Ehrlich, said outside court.

Ehrlich said sheriff’s detectives focused on Jennings, a father of five and Iraq War Veteran, as opposed to several other people at the scene including four people in a car smoking marijuana and listening to music.

Jennings was the Regular Guy White Defendant — an average family man with a spotless military record picking up some extra bucks as a security guard. He deployed to Iraq several times in the many years before he was charged.

Congratulations to the Ehrlich family of lawyers for their pro bono work in this case.

From the Ehrlich Law Firm press release:

On the night of the murder, Jennings, then 25 years old, had been patrolling the parking lot as an unarmed security guard. He heard gunshots and saw a car slowly rolling backward into a planter. Ms. O’Keefe’s body was inside, slumped over the steering wheel. She had been shot multiple times.

No forensic evidence tied Jennings to the crime. There was no gunshot residue on his clothes, nor was there any hair, fibers, or other trace evidence to suggest he had been in contact with the victim. No witness claimed to have seen the crime. At the time, Jennings was a 7-year veteran of the Army National Guard, with no prior criminal record. He held a “secret” security clearance and was studying to be a U.S. Marshal.

The murder went unsolved for over 5 years. In 2005, the District Attorney’s office charged Jennings with the murder, and he was arrested while he was on leave from serving in Iraq with his National Guard Unit. The case against Jennings was wholly circumstantial, and was primarily based on a now-discredited claim that he knew non-public details about the crime that only O’Keefe’s killer would have known.

Jennings was tried three times, with the first two juries unable to reach a verdict. In December 2009, a third jury convicted Jennings of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to a life term. His conviction was affirmed on appeal in 2011.

In June 2015, Jennings’ case came to the attention Ehrlich’s law-student son, Clinton Ehrlich. Clinton had seen a link on the internet to an NBC “Dateline” episode about the case. After watching the program he concluded that the case against Jennings was flawed, and he did further research. A few days later he convinced his father to take on the case for Jennings pro bono.

Clinton continued to develop a critique of the State’s case against Jennings, and on October 2, 2015, the father-son team submitted a 34-page single-spaced letter to the CRU, refuting every aspect of the State’s case. The letter persuaded the four experienced prosecutors staffing the CRU that Jennings was innocent and that the O’Keefe murder investigation should be re-opened. A new investigation was launched in May 2016.

The new investigation immediately focused on the people other than Jennings who had been in the parking lot when O’Keefe was shot.

Jennings, who has five children, has thus far served over 11 years in prison.

 
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  1. Detectives grew suspicious when Jennings he told them the young woman was still alive when he found her but that he did not perform CPR because he feared contaminating the crime scene.

    Yeah, that would make me suspicious, too. I’m glad they’ve let him go if he didn’t do it, but not giving CPR to a dying girl is creepy.

    Read More
    • Replies: @EdwardM
    Agreed. It seems oddly unbecoming of a war veteran.

    But I understand why Steve is on the case: no doubt the prosecutors loved to railroad a deranged babykiller (i.e., a white military veteran) with no motive, as opposed to the likely culprits: black or Hispanic thugs.
    , @Chrisnonymous
    Perhaps she was in such a condition that, from his experience of war, he knew his intervention was not going to be effective.

    CPR is less effective than people realize, even in the circumstances it is designed for, which is cardiac arrest, not a chest full of bullet holes or massive blood loss.
    , @Sean
    The girl was changing in her car and he was reluctant to get get close until he was told she'd been shot, but men can't assume their motives for being around young women in dishabille are beyond question now. CPR is intended only for someone whose heart and breathing has stopped. I suppose you can do more harm than good if they are breathing and have spinal injuries ect, and if he thought she was alive he must have thought she was breathing, eh? The whole world has seem CSI .The husband of one of the BTK psycho victims was no 1 suspect in her murder for decades because he had untied her.

    Just because you are trying to give first aid doesn't mean you can't be sued for a well intentioned mistake, or even for following correct procedure . I know paramedics are loathe to stop at accidents while off duty for that reason. His only mistake was being loose mouthed around the police and letting them keep him talking about the case for hours. If your wife goes to your trial for killing a girl changing in a parking lot and testifies you were an unfaithful husband, it's Goodnight, Vienna.

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  2. CBC Radio here in Canada has a special fascination for such cases, especially when the story is out of the US. I look forward with enthusiasm to hear their coverage of this. Unfortunately the falsely accused man is the wrong colour for them. Oddly enough, this matters even on the radio.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jus' Sayin'...
    I've gotten really tired of my Canadian relatives telling me what a great human being, the murderer, "Hurricane Carter" is. Unfortunately, the Negro males, like Carter, who cause most of the chaos in the USA go through three life cycle stages: cute tyke until pubescence, atavistic, homicidal thug from then until they age out in their late thirties or forties, and a less dangerous stumble-bum old age as genetics, and a grossly unhealthy lifestyle kick in. Carter's in that last phase so his Canadian benefactors are unlikely to ever pay the price for their moral inanity and criminal stupidity.
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  3. “an average family man with a spotless military record picking up some extra bucks as a security guard”

    God willing these awful, bigoted people will be destroyed by the Right Side of History.

    Yes I’m being facetious, guys.

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  4. NO amount of money can make up for this injustice.
    Iraq War vet with 5 kids in jail for 11 years. I hope the DA got a raise on his conviction.
    Can’t have those loose ends, you know.

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    • Replies: @Forbes
    Just a minor point--not your comment, but a repetition from the article. If the victim was killed in 2000, Jennings would've been a vet of the Gulf War, not the Iraq War.
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  5. @J1234

    Detectives grew suspicious when Jennings he told them the young woman was still alive when he found her but that he did not perform CPR because he feared contaminating the crime scene.
     
    Yeah, that would make me suspicious, too. I'm glad they've let him go if he didn't do it, but not giving CPR to a dying girl is creepy.

    Agreed. It seems oddly unbecoming of a war veteran.

    But I understand why Steve is on the case: no doubt the prosecutors loved to railroad a deranged babykiller (i.e., a white military veteran) with no motive, as opposed to the likely culprits: black or Hispanic thugs.

    Read More
    • Replies: @whorefinder
    As Steve has declared time and time again, The Bonfire of the Vanities is probably the most prescient and best explanation of American culture of the last 30 years. The hunt for the Great White Defendant is the goal of every career-minded prosecutor in the country.
    , @Daniel H
    If I came across a gunshot victim who was still breathing it would not occur to me to give CPR. Gunshot victims are usually suffering from massive blood loss and major organ damage, soon to slip into shock. Though still breathing I don't see how CPR can assist them in any way. If I did anything I would try and apply pressure to the obvious wounds and call for an ambulance right away. Jenkins probably assumed, correctly, that she was already a goner and there was nothing that could be done except for the ambulance to get there ASAP.
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  6. The thing that jumps out to me from the article are the typos. The Times should hire some proofers.

    The next thing that jumps out is the willingness of the courts to try to convict this guy when they had basically no evidence. Don’t they have anything better to do? Meanwhile, assuming this guy innocent, he just lost 11 years of his life to some overzealous prosecutor.

    The third thing is that I don’t know if failure to perform CPR is a deal breaker. Society is so litigious now, anyone would have second thoughts. I could tell some stories ……

    Read More
    • Replies: @NOTA
    It makes me wonder how solid murder cases usually are, and thus what fraction of murder convictions are false.
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  7. Marty [AKA "Near Vicksburg"] says:

    For us readers with a legal bent, the question is why the trial judge allowed the verdict to stand. Was a motion even made? Was this a case of IAC? Is that how a Harvard lawyer got on the appeal in the first place? Who was the trial judge?

    Read More
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  8. To follow up on another Dateline – the Kent Heitholt murder…..Ryan Ferguson spent 8 years in prison while clearly innocent. The murderer Michael Boyd is walking free and the Kansas City pd refuses to take his fingerprints even though they have unmatched prints on the car he died next to. Boyd is black Ferguson is white btw. It is the grossest miscarriage of justice I’ve ever heard about.

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  9. Anthony Kennedy who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan, sides in favor of affirmative action. The Gipper sure did know how to pick them.

    Read More
    • Replies: @middle aged vet
    Reagan was a good guy, but out of his league - for starters, the ridiculous and ignorant Kennedy and O'Connor appointments, the cowardice re the hostages in the Levant, the uxoriousness that any reader of the Bible would have been ashamed to admit being subjected to... - that being said, every other similarly famous politician at the time would have been even more out of his league. It was our Time of Troubles, in the sense that all the leaders were rudderless (even poor little chubby Pat Buchanan - who would have been a better president than Reagan and would never have appointed an unlikeable phony like Kennedy - was stupid enough to brag, in his autobiography, about looking for fights with people he could safely beat up. That is my interpretation anyway, and I apologize in advance if I misread. Anyway, Disgraceful, as Trump would say). There will be better men than Reagan in our future, but that being said, I, for one, will not disparage him - a volunteer veteran like myself - without noting that he did what so few people, smart, stupid, or in between, do - he did his best, or almost his best.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  10. Hmmm…

    According to his Wikipedia profile Erlich was trained by Otto Kaus.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Ehrlich

    According to Otto Kaus’ Wikipedia profile he had a son name Mickey who apparently is a blogger, of whom Steve has written.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Kaus

    SoCal can’t be so little populated.

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    • Replies: @Marty
    I take it that your post was seen as too idiotic to be worth a response. Due largely to his writing for The New Republic in the '80s, and then for Slate on business topics such as BMW styling f-ups, Mickey Kaus, even before Steve ever linked to him, was far more well known than his father, the former California Supreme Court justice, ever was. Otto Kaus, though a Democrat, was basically a common sense judge. Big firms such as the one to which Kaus retired actually don't really provide young lawyers with "training" - no one has the time - but any training for this guy would have been in insurance law, Kaus' specialty, nothing to do with criminal law. By the way, I take it this guy Ehrlich has family money. I don't know how you maintain a life in Encino doing criminal appeals paid for by the state.
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  11. @Cagey Beast
    CBC Radio here in Canada has a special fascination for such cases, especially when the story is out of the US. I look forward with enthusiasm to hear their coverage of this. Unfortunately the falsely accused man is the wrong colour for them. Oddly enough, this matters even on the radio.

    I’ve gotten really tired of my Canadian relatives telling me what a great human being, the murderer, “Hurricane Carter” is. Unfortunately, the Negro males, like Carter, who cause most of the chaos in the USA go through three life cycle stages: cute tyke until pubescence, atavistic, homicidal thug from then until they age out in their late thirties or forties, and a less dangerous stumble-bum old age as genetics, and a grossly unhealthy lifestyle kick in. Carter’s in that last phase so his Canadian benefactors are unlikely to ever pay the price for their moral inanity and criminal stupidity.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Cagey Beast
    Yes, I couldn't tell you how many times I've heard about that guy. He's seems to have inspired a whole genre of reporting at the CBC that's continued for decades. Their interest in this White guy in the opening post will be nil.
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  12. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Gary Gauger, Kevin Fox, Rolado Cruz, Juan Rivera, just some of the names of people railroaded onto death row in Illinois by prosecutors and police who clung stubbornly to the convictions even as proof of innocence came out. Apparently they’d prefer the innocent be put to death than to lose face by admitting that they were wrong.

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  13. Since there were shots involved, why is there no discussion of the defendant’s gun and whether the bullets matched?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    All the physical evidence came up negative: the guard's gun didn't match the bullet and there was no gunpowder on his uniform.

    Trust me, there was nothing there at all.

    , @Daniel H
    Defendant had no gun, and no gun was found anywhere in the vicinity. It is hard to conceal a gun once police commence a thorough search. It's not as if the defendant could run hundreds of yards and conceal it in a totally inaccessible spot then quickly return to the crime scene. That evidence alone should have been enough to acquit.
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  14. This case and the woman who supposedly drowned her boyfriend in his kayak – two more lessons – never never never talk to the po-lice. Never, not even if you are as innocent as a newborn baby. ESPECIALLY if you are innocent. Zip it.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel H
    I believe that this woman is being railroaded. I believe her to be entirely innocent.
    , @Trelane
    The obligatory YouTube video here (watched by millions) is of course: (well worth watching)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6wXkI4t7nuc#t=7
    , @Stephen R. Diamond
    Most of all, never let them enter your dwelling.
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  15. @EdwardM
    Agreed. It seems oddly unbecoming of a war veteran.

    But I understand why Steve is on the case: no doubt the prosecutors loved to railroad a deranged babykiller (i.e., a white military veteran) with no motive, as opposed to the likely culprits: black or Hispanic thugs.

    As Steve has declared time and time again, The Bonfire of the Vanities is probably the most prescient and best explanation of American culture of the last 30 years. The hunt for the Great White Defendant is the goal of every career-minded prosecutor in the country.

    Read More
    • Agree: Jim Don Bob
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  16. @Jefferson
    Anthony Kennedy who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan, sides in favor of affirmative action. The Gipper sure did know how to pick them.

    Reagan was a good guy, but out of his league – for starters, the ridiculous and ignorant Kennedy and O’Connor appointments, the cowardice re the hostages in the Levant, the uxoriousness that any reader of the Bible would have been ashamed to admit being subjected to… – that being said, every other similarly famous politician at the time would have been even more out of his league. It was our Time of Troubles, in the sense that all the leaders were rudderless (even poor little chubby Pat Buchanan – who would have been a better president than Reagan and would never have appointed an unlikeable phony like Kennedy – was stupid enough to brag, in his autobiography, about looking for fights with people he could safely beat up. That is my interpretation anyway, and I apologize in advance if I misread. Anyway, Disgraceful, as Trump would say). There will be better men than Reagan in our future, but that being said, I, for one, will not disparage him – a volunteer veteran like myself – without noting that he did what so few people, smart, stupid, or in between, do – he did his best, or almost his best.

    Read More
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  17. I watched that Dateline and they kind of portrait him as a bit sketch. Nothing overwhelming, but his interview with whoever the nbc reporter was would have one questioning his innocents

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  18. It is great to see something go the right way! I hope John Derbyshire doesn’t read it, because it might make his cynical head explode.

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  19. @Jack D
    This case and the woman who supposedly drowned her boyfriend in his kayak - two more lessons - never never never talk to the po-lice. Never, not even if you are as innocent as a newborn baby. ESPECIALLY if you are innocent. Zip it.

    I believe that this woman is being railroaded. I believe her to be entirely innocent.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Hhsiii
    My wife is from Latvia and she loves Dreiser's An American Tragedy. Hmmm.
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  20. @EdwardM
    Agreed. It seems oddly unbecoming of a war veteran.

    But I understand why Steve is on the case: no doubt the prosecutors loved to railroad a deranged babykiller (i.e., a white military veteran) with no motive, as opposed to the likely culprits: black or Hispanic thugs.

    If I came across a gunshot victim who was still breathing it would not occur to me to give CPR. Gunshot victims are usually suffering from massive blood loss and major organ damage, soon to slip into shock. Though still breathing I don’t see how CPR can assist them in any way. If I did anything I would try and apply pressure to the obvious wounds and call for an ambulance right away. Jenkins probably assumed, correctly, that she was already a goner and there was nothing that could be done except for the ambulance to get there ASAP.

    Read More
    • Agree: ATX Hipster
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    The security guard was also worried about being shot himself by whoever shot the poor girl.
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  21. @tbraton
    Since there were shots involved, why is there no discussion of the defendant's gun and whether the bullets matched?

    All the physical evidence came up negative: the guard’s gun didn’t match the bullet and there was no gunpowder on his uniform.

    Trust me, there was nothing there at all.

    Read More
    • Replies: @tbraton
    "All the physical evidence came up negative: the guard’s gun didn’t match the bullet and there was no gunpowder on his uniform."

    Uh, well, it looks like he was guilty after all. It also appears that Marilyn Mosby chose the wrong jurisdiction to be a prosecutor. Whatever happened to common sense? I am reminded of the pre-school "sexual molestation" cases of the 80's, which started with the McMartin case in southern California and spread like wildfire across the country. Our former AG under Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, gained fame by bringing such a case in the Miami area. I would read about the cases and hear the tales told by 5 and 6 year old children about spaceships landing on school grounds and kids lying around on broomsticks like real witches and wonder what prosecutor in his right mind could bring such a case. (I happened to know one of the prosecutors and had made political contributions to him before the case but not afterward.) Then I read about a prosecutor in Pa., W.Va. or Ohio who was presented with similar evidence and refused to bring charges because he found the allegations preposterous. He had the common sense to make a sound judgment about not prosecuting. My faith was restored. I guess I didn't realize then how rare such common sense is.
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  22. @Daniel H
    If I came across a gunshot victim who was still breathing it would not occur to me to give CPR. Gunshot victims are usually suffering from massive blood loss and major organ damage, soon to slip into shock. Though still breathing I don't see how CPR can assist them in any way. If I did anything I would try and apply pressure to the obvious wounds and call for an ambulance right away. Jenkins probably assumed, correctly, that she was already a goner and there was nothing that could be done except for the ambulance to get there ASAP.

    The security guard was also worried about being shot himself by whoever shot the poor girl.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  23. @tbraton
    Since there were shots involved, why is there no discussion of the defendant's gun and whether the bullets matched?

    Defendant had no gun, and no gun was found anywhere in the vicinity. It is hard to conceal a gun once police commence a thorough search. It’s not as if the defendant could run hundreds of yards and conceal it in a totally inaccessible spot then quickly return to the crime scene. That evidence alone should have been enough to acquit.

    Read More
    • Agree: ben tillman
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  24. @Jus' Sayin'...
    I've gotten really tired of my Canadian relatives telling me what a great human being, the murderer, "Hurricane Carter" is. Unfortunately, the Negro males, like Carter, who cause most of the chaos in the USA go through three life cycle stages: cute tyke until pubescence, atavistic, homicidal thug from then until they age out in their late thirties or forties, and a less dangerous stumble-bum old age as genetics, and a grossly unhealthy lifestyle kick in. Carter's in that last phase so his Canadian benefactors are unlikely to ever pay the price for their moral inanity and criminal stupidity.

    Yes, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about that guy. He’s seems to have inspired a whole genre of reporting at the CBC that’s continued for decades. Their interest in this White guy in the opening post will be nil.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  25. @Steve Sailer
    All the physical evidence came up negative: the guard's gun didn't match the bullet and there was no gunpowder on his uniform.

    Trust me, there was nothing there at all.

    “All the physical evidence came up negative: the guard’s gun didn’t match the bullet and there was no gunpowder on his uniform.”

    Uh, well, it looks like he was guilty after all. It also appears that Marilyn Mosby chose the wrong jurisdiction to be a prosecutor. Whatever happened to common sense? I am reminded of the pre-school “sexual molestation” cases of the 80′s, which started with the McMartin case in southern California and spread like wildfire across the country. Our former AG under Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, gained fame by bringing such a case in the Miami area. I would read about the cases and hear the tales told by 5 and 6 year old children about spaceships landing on school grounds and kids lying around on broomsticks like real witches and wonder what prosecutor in his right mind could bring such a case. (I happened to know one of the prosecutors and had made political contributions to him before the case but not afterward.) Then I read about a prosecutor in Pa., W.Va. or Ohio who was presented with similar evidence and refused to bring charges because he found the allegations preposterous. He had the common sense to make a sound judgment about not prosecuting. My faith was restored. I guess I didn’t realize then how rare such common sense is.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Marty
    In this case the trial judge, who had complete discretion over the matter, allowed a third trial after two hung juries. Here's how another SoCal judge, in another era, handled a similar situation. It was an arson case, in which prosecutors thought a toy store owner had torched his own store. The trial judge didn't like the case, but the county had a politically powerful D.A, so he didn't stand in the way of a retrial. But during a recess one day in the second trial, I asked the judge how things were going. He said, "Oh I'm having a delicious time! I'm salting the record with error."
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  26. @Jack D
    This case and the woman who supposedly drowned her boyfriend in his kayak - two more lessons - never never never talk to the po-lice. Never, not even if you are as innocent as a newborn baby. ESPECIALLY if you are innocent. Zip it.

    The obligatory YouTube video here (watched by millions) is of course: (well worth watching)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6wXkI4t7nuc#t=7

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jack D
    tl:dr

    Shorter version: DON'T TALK TO THE POLICE.

    There, I just gave you back 48 minutes of your life.
    , @AndrewR
    It strikes me as a major systemic problem that the innocent would have anything at all to fear from talking to the cops. Is this phenomenon found around the world?
    , @Forbes
    I've watched this video--and it is definitely worth the 48 minutes. The attorney pounds into your head many reasons for not talking to the police--if only because the cops are trained to get various and sundry admissions out of you, based on your natural inclination to helpful, and you are not trained how to respond. The cops want to make an arrest--not demonstrate your innocence.
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  27. @anony-mouse
    Hmmm...

    According to his Wikipedia profile Erlich was trained by Otto Kaus.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Ehrlich

    According to Otto Kaus' Wikipedia profile he had a son name Mickey who apparently is a blogger, of whom Steve has written.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Kaus

    SoCal can't be so little populated.

    I take it that your post was seen as too idiotic to be worth a response. Due largely to his writing for The New Republic in the ’80s, and then for Slate on business topics such as BMW styling f-ups, Mickey Kaus, even before Steve ever linked to him, was far more well known than his father, the former California Supreme Court justice, ever was. Otto Kaus, though a Democrat, was basically a common sense judge. Big firms such as the one to which Kaus retired actually don’t really provide young lawyers with “training” – no one has the time – but any training for this guy would have been in insurance law, Kaus’ specialty, nothing to do with criminal law. By the way, I take it this guy Ehrlich has family money. I don’t know how you maintain a life in Encino doing criminal appeals paid for by the state.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Trelane
    Lol. "I take it that your post was seen as too idiotic to be worth a response"

    This is why I read iSteve comments :)

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  28. Marty [AKA "coot veal or cot deal"] says:
    @tbraton
    "All the physical evidence came up negative: the guard’s gun didn’t match the bullet and there was no gunpowder on his uniform."

    Uh, well, it looks like he was guilty after all. It also appears that Marilyn Mosby chose the wrong jurisdiction to be a prosecutor. Whatever happened to common sense? I am reminded of the pre-school "sexual molestation" cases of the 80's, which started with the McMartin case in southern California and spread like wildfire across the country. Our former AG under Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, gained fame by bringing such a case in the Miami area. I would read about the cases and hear the tales told by 5 and 6 year old children about spaceships landing on school grounds and kids lying around on broomsticks like real witches and wonder what prosecutor in his right mind could bring such a case. (I happened to know one of the prosecutors and had made political contributions to him before the case but not afterward.) Then I read about a prosecutor in Pa., W.Va. or Ohio who was presented with similar evidence and refused to bring charges because he found the allegations preposterous. He had the common sense to make a sound judgment about not prosecuting. My faith was restored. I guess I didn't realize then how rare such common sense is.

    In this case the trial judge, who had complete discretion over the matter, allowed a third trial after two hung juries. Here’s how another SoCal judge, in another era, handled a similar situation. It was an arson case, in which prosecutors thought a toy store owner had torched his own store. The trial judge didn’t like the case, but the county had a politically powerful D.A, so he didn’t stand in the way of a retrial. But during a recess one day in the second trial, I asked the judge how things were going. He said, “Oh I’m having a delicious time! I’m salting the record with error.”

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  29. @Marty
    I take it that your post was seen as too idiotic to be worth a response. Due largely to his writing for The New Republic in the '80s, and then for Slate on business topics such as BMW styling f-ups, Mickey Kaus, even before Steve ever linked to him, was far more well known than his father, the former California Supreme Court justice, ever was. Otto Kaus, though a Democrat, was basically a common sense judge. Big firms such as the one to which Kaus retired actually don't really provide young lawyers with "training" - no one has the time - but any training for this guy would have been in insurance law, Kaus' specialty, nothing to do with criminal law. By the way, I take it this guy Ehrlich has family money. I don't know how you maintain a life in Encino doing criminal appeals paid for by the state.

    Lol. “I take it that your post was seen as too idiotic to be worth a response”

    This is why I read iSteve comments :)

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  30. From the article, the first two trials were held in the downtown courthouse and resulted in hung juries. The third trial was moved to Lancaster, home of the victim, and had a conviction.

    Mr. Jennings was very, very unlucky and unfortunate. The LA County DA’s office went to great lengths and pulled every string to convict a man against whom there was no direct or forensic evidence.

    Hank Goldberg, a member of the Simpson prosecution team, made an off-hand observation in his 1996 book, “The Prosecution Responds.” Goldberg wrote that a white defendant is easier to convict. I don’t have the page number, but it’s in the book somewhere. Something like a white defendant is less trouble.

    Imagine if there had been a hung jury in the Simpson criminal trial and the retrial had been moved to Santa Monica. Jennings had his third trial moved to a less favorable location and there was no objection from Higher Courts or the media at the time.

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  31. Pamela Smart has been in prison for 25 years. She should have never been arrested let alone convicted, it was the weakest case imaginable. The case was built on the testimony of her husband’s killer who had nothing to lose. Physical evidence at the crime scene, testimony of other prosecution witnesses contradicted everything he said. Unfortunately, the killer is the most charismatic criminal since Charlie Manson.
    Since she is an average person and her case does not fit the narrative, she sits in prison while her husband’s killers walk free.

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  32. Interesting story. People like to slag lawyers but many devote a lot of time and energy on a unpaid basis like this Clinton Erlich guy to help people they don’t know.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AndrewR
    Many?

    Not really.
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  33. @J1234

    Detectives grew suspicious when Jennings he told them the young woman was still alive when he found her but that he did not perform CPR because he feared contaminating the crime scene.
     
    Yeah, that would make me suspicious, too. I'm glad they've let him go if he didn't do it, but not giving CPR to a dying girl is creepy.

    Perhaps she was in such a condition that, from his experience of war, he knew his intervention was not going to be effective.

    CPR is less effective than people realize, even in the circumstances it is designed for, which is cardiac arrest, not a chest full of bullet holes or massive blood loss.

    Read More
    • Replies: @ATX Hipster
    The murder happened before the war started. You're right about CPR though. Maybe he already had enough training in it to know when it wouldn't be effective.
    , @Jack Hanson
    Its not that CPR isn't effective, its that most people don't know how to correctly perform CPR or confuse themselves over pointless minutae. Most lay people get a hour class once every two years to get "certified".

    So the AHA is going over to CCR, which is 200 compressions from the get go.

    Furthermore it also depends on what exactly is going on. If someone is in cardiac arrest due to a blockage in the junction of the Left Coronary Artery ( aka the Widowmaker), they're likely not coming back from it. As someone who has brought back fifty percent of the codes I've worked with CPR + Epinephrine, I don't think its ineffective, but its certainly not a cure all. Especially when you're dealing with a 400 diabetic who has COPD.

    AEDs are doing a lot of good work out there as well, even if they're limited to treating VTach and VFib.

    However, I agree that CPR wasn't going to do a whole lot for a trauma code, which on average is a nastier event than a cardiac code. Especially a trauma code involving a pneumothorax and damage to the throacic cavity.
    , @Mr. Anon
    The EMT who taught a CPR course I once took told us: Most of the CPR I've ever seen done was done on dead people.
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  34. @Trelane
    The obligatory YouTube video here (watched by millions) is of course: (well worth watching)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6wXkI4t7nuc#t=7

    tl:dr

    Shorter version: DON’T TALK TO THE POLICE.

    There, I just gave you back 48 minutes of your life.

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  35. Anyone else who feels as I do: that, if he were totally innocent, he wouldn’t make a good, sympathetic defendant and might likely be wrongfully convicted?

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  36. @SPMoore8
    The thing that jumps out to me from the article are the typos. The Times should hire some proofers.

    The next thing that jumps out is the willingness of the courts to try to convict this guy when they had basically no evidence. Don't they have anything better to do? Meanwhile, assuming this guy innocent, he just lost 11 years of his life to some overzealous prosecutor.

    The third thing is that I don't know if failure to perform CPR is a deal breaker. Society is so litigious now, anyone would have second thoughts. I could tell some stories ......

    It makes me wonder how solid murder cases usually are, and thus what fraction of murder convictions are false.

    Read More
    • Replies: @David In TN
    They are usually way more solid than this one.
    , @donut
    I don't think most murders are who dunits so the police get the right guy. This kind of tragic mistake occurs when the police have no clues combined with low integrity detectives/prosecutors and public outrage. When I first moved down here in '93 a white man had just been released from prison after being exonerated by the DNA evidence . A few years ago I saw a show about the case and the police really had no evidence . The guy just had the misfortune to come to their attention and they zeroed in on him . Almost as alarming as the wrongful convictions is the number of unsolved murders . 40% nationwide . In Baltimore City the unsolved rate is 49% you all can make your own guess as to why . In Baltimore County the solve rate is 99+% . I expect that will change as the demographics are changing .
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  37. @NOTA
    It makes me wonder how solid murder cases usually are, and thus what fraction of murder convictions are false.

    They are usually way more solid than this one.

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  38. @J1234

    Detectives grew suspicious when Jennings he told them the young woman was still alive when he found her but that he did not perform CPR because he feared contaminating the crime scene.
     
    Yeah, that would make me suspicious, too. I'm glad they've let him go if he didn't do it, but not giving CPR to a dying girl is creepy.

    The girl was changing in her car and he was reluctant to get get close until he was told she’d been shot, but men can’t assume their motives for being around young women in dishabille are beyond question now. CPR is intended only for someone whose heart and breathing has stopped. I suppose you can do more harm than good if they are breathing and have spinal injuries ect, and if he thought she was alive he must have thought she was breathing, eh? The whole world has seem CSI .The husband of one of the BTK psycho victims was no 1 suspect in her murder for decades because he had untied her.

    Just because you are trying to give first aid doesn’t mean you can’t be sued for a well intentioned mistake, or even for following correct procedure . I know paramedics are loathe to stop at accidents while off duty for that reason. His only mistake was being loose mouthed around the police and letting them keep him talking about the case for hours. If your wife goes to your trial for killing a girl changing in a parking lot and testifies you were an unfaithful husband, it’s Goodnight, Vienna.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jack Hanson
    Its mainly because paramedics aren't licensed in many states and therefore can only perform basic life saving skills with the scope of an EMT, plus each agency has a different way of doing things and in anything short of being first on scene or during a mass casualty event, they're likely getting in the way.

    A paramedic off duty who isn't licensed who saves someone's life with an ALS technique like electro therapy, intubation, or pushing the right drug is rolling the dice with his career, wealth, and freedom (for practicing medicine without a license).
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  39. @Trelane
    The obligatory YouTube video here (watched by millions) is of course: (well worth watching)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6wXkI4t7nuc#t=7

    It strikes me as a major systemic problem that the innocent would have anything at all to fear from talking to the cops. Is this phenomenon found around the world?

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  40. @SnakeEyes
    Interesting story. People like to slag lawyers but many devote a lot of time and energy on a unpaid basis like this Clinton Erlich guy to help people they don't know.

    Many?

    Not really.

    Read More
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  41. If you watch [the TV true crime show] carefully, you’ll note that there is zero evidence against the man who has been in prison for years.

    I watch a lot of TV true crime shows, and I’d say about 5% of the cases they televise seem to be people who are convicted on completely inadequate evidence. People seem to get convicted on evidence like “he was a weirdo acting weird, and had opportunity, plus the victim and he disliked one another” not too terribly infrequently. Undoubtedly there is selection bias in what cases are presented (e.g. blacks are massively underrepresented as both victims and perps) and probably there is bias in the presentation. Nevertheless, unless you assume these shows are lying pretty often, watching them is disquieting. And it would be a weird kind of lying—sometimes the presenter on the show seems to think the victims of these evidence-free convictions are guilty. The shows generate the impression that the police have a non-trivial chance of putting you in prison for life if they want to, even if you are innocent.

    I’m sure the vast majority of murder convictions are righteous. But that’s because the majority of murder convictions feature some dimwitted thug murdering some guy, in front of witnesses, who he has recently taken to threatening to murder in front of scores of other witnesses. The First 48 is a good show to see how incredibly boring most murder investigations seem to be.

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  42. @Daniel H
    I believe that this woman is being railroaded. I believe her to be entirely innocent.

    My wife is from Latvia and she loves Dreiser’s An American Tragedy. Hmmm.

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  43. @Chrisnonymous
    Perhaps she was in such a condition that, from his experience of war, he knew his intervention was not going to be effective.

    CPR is less effective than people realize, even in the circumstances it is designed for, which is cardiac arrest, not a chest full of bullet holes or massive blood loss.

    The murder happened before the war started. You’re right about CPR though. Maybe he already had enough training in it to know when it wouldn’t be effective.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    "The murder happened before the war started. "

    First Iraq war (1991), i.e. the Gulf War (Our first Gulf War - Iraq's second).

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  44. @NOTA
    It makes me wonder how solid murder cases usually are, and thus what fraction of murder convictions are false.

    I don’t think most murders are who dunits so the police get the right guy. This kind of tragic mistake occurs when the police have no clues combined with low integrity detectives/prosecutors and public outrage. When I first moved down here in ’93 a white man had just been released from prison after being exonerated by the DNA evidence . A few years ago I saw a show about the case and the police really had no evidence . The guy just had the misfortune to come to their attention and they zeroed in on him . Almost as alarming as the wrongful convictions is the number of unsolved murders . 40% nationwide . In Baltimore City the unsolved rate is 49% you all can make your own guess as to why . In Baltimore County the solve rate is 99+% . I expect that will change as the demographics are changing .

    Read More
    • Replies: @David In TN
    Yes, most trials are not whodunits, but a determination of how stiff the sentence will be as the defendant is obviously guilty.

    A very, very bad miscarriage like with Raymond Jennings happens as a result of an innocent victim and a public demand to find the perpetrator. And inept cops and prosecutors.
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  45. @boogerbently
    NO amount of money can make up for this injustice.
    Iraq War vet with 5 kids in jail for 11 years. I hope the DA got a raise on his conviction.
    Can't have those loose ends, you know.

    Just a minor point–not your comment, but a repetition from the article. If the victim was killed in 2000, Jennings would’ve been a vet of the Gulf War, not the Iraq War.

    Read More
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  46. @Trelane
    The obligatory YouTube video here (watched by millions) is of course: (well worth watching)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6wXkI4t7nuc#t=7

    I’ve watched this video–and it is definitely worth the 48 minutes. The attorney pounds into your head many reasons for not talking to the police–if only because the cops are trained to get various and sundry admissions out of you, based on your natural inclination to helpful, and you are not trained how to respond. The cops want to make an arrest–not demonstrate your innocence.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    "I’ve watched this video–and it is definitely worth the 48 minutes. The attorney pounds into your head many reasons for not talking to the police–if only because the cops are trained to get various and sundry admissions out of you, based on your natural inclination to helpful, and you are not trained how to respond. The cops want to make an arrest–not demonstrate your innocence."

    Almost everyone has been exposed to police propaganda - there is an enormous amount of it circulating in our society. Just about every portrayal of the police on TV or in the movies shows some detective in an interrogation room with a suspect saying something like "I'm trying to help you." or "I can't help you unless you tell me what you know", etc. It's a collosal lie. No cop in that situation is ever there to help you. It isn't his job to help you, and you can bet that he won't.

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  47. @Jack D
    This case and the woman who supposedly drowned her boyfriend in his kayak - two more lessons - never never never talk to the po-lice. Never, not even if you are as innocent as a newborn baby. ESPECIALLY if you are innocent. Zip it.

    Most of all, never let them enter your dwelling.

    Read More
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  48. Read More
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  49. @Chrisnonymous
    Perhaps she was in such a condition that, from his experience of war, he knew his intervention was not going to be effective.

    CPR is less effective than people realize, even in the circumstances it is designed for, which is cardiac arrest, not a chest full of bullet holes or massive blood loss.

    Its not that CPR isn’t effective, its that most people don’t know how to correctly perform CPR or confuse themselves over pointless minutae. Most lay people get a hour class once every two years to get “certified”.

    So the AHA is going over to CCR, which is 200 compressions from the get go.

    Furthermore it also depends on what exactly is going on. If someone is in cardiac arrest due to a blockage in the junction of the Left Coronary Artery ( aka the Widowmaker), they’re likely not coming back from it. As someone who has brought back fifty percent of the codes I’ve worked with CPR + Epinephrine, I don’t think its ineffective, but its certainly not a cure all. Especially when you’re dealing with a 400 diabetic who has COPD.

    AEDs are doing a lot of good work out there as well, even if they’re limited to treating VTach and VFib.

    However, I agree that CPR wasn’t going to do a whole lot for a trauma code, which on average is a nastier event than a cardiac code. Especially a trauma code involving a pneumothorax and damage to the throacic cavity.

    Read More
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  50. @Sean
    The girl was changing in her car and he was reluctant to get get close until he was told she'd been shot, but men can't assume their motives for being around young women in dishabille are beyond question now. CPR is intended only for someone whose heart and breathing has stopped. I suppose you can do more harm than good if they are breathing and have spinal injuries ect, and if he thought she was alive he must have thought she was breathing, eh? The whole world has seem CSI .The husband of one of the BTK psycho victims was no 1 suspect in her murder for decades because he had untied her.

    Just because you are trying to give first aid doesn't mean you can't be sued for a well intentioned mistake, or even for following correct procedure . I know paramedics are loathe to stop at accidents while off duty for that reason. His only mistake was being loose mouthed around the police and letting them keep him talking about the case for hours. If your wife goes to your trial for killing a girl changing in a parking lot and testifies you were an unfaithful husband, it's Goodnight, Vienna.

    Its mainly because paramedics aren’t licensed in many states and therefore can only perform basic life saving skills with the scope of an EMT, plus each agency has a different way of doing things and in anything short of being first on scene or during a mass casualty event, they’re likely getting in the way.

    A paramedic off duty who isn’t licensed who saves someone’s life with an ALS technique like electro therapy, intubation, or pushing the right drug is rolling the dice with his career, wealth, and freedom (for practicing medicine without a license).

    Read More
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  51. @Forbes
    I've watched this video--and it is definitely worth the 48 minutes. The attorney pounds into your head many reasons for not talking to the police--if only because the cops are trained to get various and sundry admissions out of you, based on your natural inclination to helpful, and you are not trained how to respond. The cops want to make an arrest--not demonstrate your innocence.

    “I’ve watched this video–and it is definitely worth the 48 minutes. The attorney pounds into your head many reasons for not talking to the police–if only because the cops are trained to get various and sundry admissions out of you, based on your natural inclination to helpful, and you are not trained how to respond. The cops want to make an arrest–not demonstrate your innocence.”

    Almost everyone has been exposed to police propaganda – there is an enormous amount of it circulating in our society. Just about every portrayal of the police on TV or in the movies shows some detective in an interrogation room with a suspect saying something like “I’m trying to help you.” or “I can’t help you unless you tell me what you know”, etc. It’s a collosal lie. No cop in that situation is ever there to help you. It isn’t his job to help you, and you can bet that he won’t.

    Read More
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  52. @ATX Hipster
    The murder happened before the war started. You're right about CPR though. Maybe he already had enough training in it to know when it wouldn't be effective.

    “The murder happened before the war started. ”

    First Iraq war (1991), i.e. the Gulf War (Our first Gulf War – Iraq’s second).

    Read More
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  53. @Chrisnonymous
    Perhaps she was in such a condition that, from his experience of war, he knew his intervention was not going to be effective.

    CPR is less effective than people realize, even in the circumstances it is designed for, which is cardiac arrest, not a chest full of bullet holes or massive blood loss.

    The EMT who taught a CPR course I once took told us: Most of the CPR I’ve ever seen done was done on dead people.

    Read More
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  54. @donut
    I don't think most murders are who dunits so the police get the right guy. This kind of tragic mistake occurs when the police have no clues combined with low integrity detectives/prosecutors and public outrage. When I first moved down here in '93 a white man had just been released from prison after being exonerated by the DNA evidence . A few years ago I saw a show about the case and the police really had no evidence . The guy just had the misfortune to come to their attention and they zeroed in on him . Almost as alarming as the wrongful convictions is the number of unsolved murders . 40% nationwide . In Baltimore City the unsolved rate is 49% you all can make your own guess as to why . In Baltimore County the solve rate is 99+% . I expect that will change as the demographics are changing .

    Yes, most trials are not whodunits, but a determination of how stiff the sentence will be as the defendant is obviously guilty.

    A very, very bad miscarriage like with Raymond Jennings happens as a result of an innocent victim and a public demand to find the perpetrator. And inept cops and prosecutors.

    Read More
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