Homicide Isn’t “Uplifting”

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The title of this blog – such is the refrain of book store owners, Christian oriented businesses, coffee house venues etc.  What’s an author to do? They don’t get it!

Definition of Uplifting – “Morally or spiritually elevating; Inspiring happiness or hope”

People who are not impacted by crime cringe at the mere mention of murder. They may not watch the news as “It’s all bad.” “It makes me sad.” “I want to protect my children.”  Well, their “Candyland existence” does not work when pitted against the realities of life.

The key is balance – To expose ourselves and our children to the realities, to be proactive, but not be possessed or obsessed by the evils, to appreciate, to have empathy, to get involved with a cause that is related in order to change the world for the better!

Granted, it is very challenging for adults to make sense of the seeming random, senseless violence happening all around us.  How can we possibly explain to our children?  The act of murder, is not uplifting whatsoever. HOWEVER, the pathway to resolution and the positive byproducts in the aftermath can be very rewarding, enriching and give one’s life real purpose, and meaning that honors your loved one in a way you had never imagined! 

It does our children no favors to overexpose them to the chaos in our world. Nor does it prepare them for life in 2017 to “live in a bubble of your own unrealistic creation.”

Tips to bridge the Gap-

  • Know and appreciate resiliency- Point out examples to your children and try to model it in your own behavior and when you encounter difficult situations. Stress that life is not always happy, but that there is always a way to “find the sunshine on the other side” if you problem solve!
  • Use opportunities to make ourselves and our children aware within our community  “when bad things happen to good people” by participating in  fund raising events, vigils,  marathons, searches, rallies with a  hopeful, positive message;
  • Seize opportunities to meet others – even one person that has a different life experience as a result of crime and make a friend. Your local crime victim advocate may be able to pair you with a person who would best benefit from such a pairing.  Typically someone in the acute phases of grief may really needs someone to listen, not advice, (which can be intense). Alternately, if you meet them with much space and time between the crime and your meeting, you will gain much insight into how others cope…and still manage their life in spite of…It’s amazing what you will learn from such a relationship!
  • Instill hope in the aftermath of crime and tragedy, for that truly is God’s Grace at work;
  • Join a non-profit organization that needs volunteers in order to gain exposure and insight.  The positives far outweigh the crime itself when everyone is working toward a common goal.  Many talents and skills are needed – small and large, so don’t be shy!  You will receive far more than you give, guaranteed!   In addition, you often build lifelong relationships!  One fine example is the  repeated winner of Great Non-Profits.org- The Cue Center for Missing Persons- http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/about/
  • Reviews from Great Non-Profits –  Very Uplifting!  http://greatnonprofits.org/org/community-united-effort-cue

 

Other References –

https://www.amazon.com/Grief-Diaries-Surviving-Loss-Homicide/dp/1944328149

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/uplifting?s=t


DonnaGore-2

Donna R. Gore

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Bizarre Weapons of Choice with the Act of Homicide

Blowpoke

Recently while researching a new blog topic, I was scanning through my copy of “The Staircase” on my tenth or so viewing, it suddenly occurred to me the “purported” weapon (which may have killed Kathleen Peterson, former wife of author, defendant Michael Peterson) was the blessed blow poke, light, hollow and capable of producing abrasions, was certainly unique as a weapon, if not bizarre.

In fact, the blow poke was not discovered until the closing argument phase  in October 2003, of Peterson’s initial trial. It was located by accident in a cobwebbed filled darkened corner of the garage and oh what a tangled web it caused! Meant as a Christmas gift for several family members, it “fueled the fires” of this trial nearly as much as Peterson’s bisexuality.

By extension of thought, I then wondered what other curious weapons I might unearth from the act of homicide. When one thinks about it logically, non-standard weapons must be weapons on convenience, that is to say, handy and used without much thought in the heat of anger. “It was there; I grabbed it and killed him/her. I didn’t mean to.” Yeah…right!

Making a Selected List and Checking it Twice for the Naughty Weapon

 

Perp- Unknown

Victim – Murate St. Hilaire

Corkscrew Child found father stabbed in side of temple;

 

Perp – Unknown

Victim- Chen Liu Nail

Gun- 35 Nails in head Children found body in a marsh

 

Perp – Debra Hewitt

Victim – Boyfriend Duane Ball

Her own Prosthetic Leg Homeless and accused of two other murders, she beat him to death, balancing on “good leg”

 

Perp- Marvin Hill

Victim- Christina Eubanks

Toilet Tank Lid ? Rape, strangulation after a love affair; Bashed head Dumped Body in creek; 51 year Sentence

 

Perp – Ana Lilia Trujillo

Victim – Alf Stefan Andersson

Stiletto Shoe Jealous attack- more than 10 holes in his head

 

Perp-Duane Hurley – 55 yrs

Victim- Daniel Kovarbasich- 16 yrs

10 Lb. Pickle Jar Child Rape; them bash head & stabbing; 5 years probation

 

ATTEMPTED MURDER- OMG!

Perp – Female Name withheld

Victim – ? Married Spouse Poison Vagina

Brazilian Woman- Refused Divorce by Husband

 

Perp –Karen Walsh

Victim Maire Rankin-81 Yrs

Crucifix Neighbor killing & Sexual Assault to “Throw off Police” on Christmas Day!

 

Perp- China Arnold – Mother

Victim – Paris Talley –I month old

Microwave   “Worthless Drunk” cooked daughter; no external Burns; DNA found  in Microwave

 

Perp – Richard Krafts

Victim- Helle Krafts-Wife

Wood chipper  Wife asked for Divorce- Forensics of tooth, pink Toenail & hair, blood type conclusive evidence

 

Conclusion: What can possibly be said after such a variety of weapons? Please don’t get any ideas…. Work out your differences! (You didn’t hear it from me!) May the victims all rest on peace. They certainly deserve all the peace they can find!

 

References:

http://rawjustice.com/2010/09/13/12-most-unusual-murder-weapons-used-in-rea…
http://listverse.com/2013/07/21/10-bizarre-murder-weapons/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Helle_Crafts

 

 Bizarre Weapons of Choice with the Act of Homicide

 

 

Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water, I Will Lay Me Down…….

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(Lessons of a Court Escort)

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I’m on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

When you’re down and out,
When you’re on the street,
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Sail on silver girl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

There is no greater calling than to be a volunteer court escort.  It’s a bit like a tour guide, “an educator by fire,” a grief counselor, a criminal justice spectator and a human bridge over troubled water….

The fact that there are never enough victim advocates to adequately represent or support crime victims when they are the most vulnerable, during the complex court proceedings is a given…. This is true whether we are talking about the 1980’s and 1990’s when I volunteered for the job, or in current times.

It is the court process that is the most intrusive, the most impersonal and the most mysterious to the average citizen. ***It is this part of the victim experience where we feel most vulnerable, where a bridge is needed… more than any other time…

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I’m on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found,

If citizens try to rely on their knowledge of what seems fair, or their knowledge of the plethora of criminal TV shows, watch out!  You will be proven wrong in almost all aspects.

According to my research, only the states Connecticut and Pennsylvania have abolished the use of grand juries to return indictments, but kept the investigating grand jury. Both used a constitutional amendment approved by the electorate to abolish the indicting grand jury. Connecticut replaced the grand jury’s determination of probable cause with a hearing before a judge.

Grand juries in every state plus the District of Columbia can investigate criminal activity. This is even true in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, which eliminated the indicting grand jury. In so doing, Connecticut also abolished the use of “civilian” grand juries; instead of being composed of ordinary citizens, its investigating grand jury is made up of between one and three judges.

Again, my home state is either on the edge of innovation or always the exception to the rule in how things are done. (Bloggers, please refer to “Voir Dire, Oh Dear” for yet another example)  Alas, there is a fine line between innovation and annoyance…

That brings up another source of potential annoyance – whether a particular sitting judge chooses to follow our State Constitution’s Victim’s Bill of Rights.  The rights appear logical and practical, yet many judges tend to overlook the victim more often than not in the criminal process.

The pendulum has swung somewhat towards victim rights in recent years. However, to the unsuspecting “crime victim spectator”, it is, unfortunately, the “criminal’s show.” It is seemingly all about the criminal’s right to a fair trial and nothing else.  If the victim is mentioned personally, it is often in a disparaging way, to paint that person as tainted and therefore, not worthy of justice.

For those who may be unfamiliar with just what are the true rights of a crime victim, I give you The State of Connecticut’s version as an example.

 

 

Constitution of the State of Connecticut
Article XXIX – Rights of Victims of Crime

In all criminal prosecutions, a victim, as the general assembly may define by law, shall have the following rights:

  1. 1. The right to be treated with fairness and respect throughout the criminal justice process;
  2. 2. The right to timely disposition of the case following arrest of the accused, provided no right of the accused is abridged;
  3. 3. The right to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process;
  4. 4. The right to notification of court proceedings;
  5. 5. The right to attend the trial and all other court proceedings the accused has the right to attend, unless such person is to testify and the court determines that such person’s testimony would be materially affected if such person hears other testimony;
  6. 6. The right to communicate with the prosecution;
  7. 7. The right to object to or support any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecution and to make a statement to the court prior to the acceptance by the court of the plea of guilty or nolo contendere by the accused;
  8. 8. The right to make a statement to the court at sentencing;
  9. 9. The right to restitution which shall be enforceable in the same manner as any other cause of action or as otherwise provided by law; and

10. The right to information about the arrest, conviction, sentence, imprisonment and release of the accused.

The right to be treated with fairness sets the tone and is the ultimate desire for any crime victim.  However, “fairness” is a laughable term, for we know that if life was fair, God was fair, the criminal justice system was fair, we wouldn’t even be in this “courtroom of horrors.”

When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Being in a criminal court is a visceral experience – the check in process, the metal detector, the personal search, the feel of the hard benches, the endless delays and objections by the defense, The lack of creature comforts,  the stifling of all emotion by the victim’s family and friends with the threat of banishment hanging over your head, the humiliation of “painting the victim as criminal;” The feeling of being out of the loop and at a constant disadvantage as if the people before you are speaking a foreign language that you truly don’t understand….

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down….

So I ask you, what can a fellow survivor of crime do to ease the pain as a court escort?  Well…

1)    Your mere presence is powerful and comforting to the “new victim.”

2)    Ask the new victim how you can best help them? (i.e. Answer their questions or ask the assigned victim advocate, Take notes for them, Go for water, deliver a sandwich; Assist them in the restroom as a possible place to cry, scream with you present);

*** The number one request from a new victim is ALWAYS information related- as to why/why not something is/is not happening, why their prosecutor is not sharing information, not returning phone calls, why it is taking so long etc.  For selected questions, there are no answers. For others, the victims are “kept in the dark” on certain aspects of the case for strategic reasons, to shield the family or if a deal may be in the process of negotiation.  Still others may be a quirk of the prosecutor’s personality or “just part of the process.”

3)You can explain what will happen regarding the law and rules of the court.( Do your homework first and check with your state’s Judicial  Department  and Office of Victim Services);

4) Relate what is expected in terms of “court etiquette,” what the reputation of the various players is, (if you know) (including presiding judge and attorneys);

5) Relate your own court experience, but advise the new victim that as each case is unique, the ultimate outcome is also individual;

6) Do not project an overly optimistic or negative attitude.  This is difficult, as you want to be encouraging, but realistic….

7)    Give positive reinforcement if needed, for their perseverance in sitting  for lengthy periods, exhibiting patience and comporting themselves as a “classy  person” in the face of such pressure.***  It is very important to juries to see that the victim’s family is present and involved in the court process as much as possible.

A wonderfully illustrative case of court escorting is in the process of a just conclusion after 22 long years! The case is known to this day as the Prospect Café Murder.  Adam Zach, a privileged kid with a “little Napolean-like demeanor” and affluent family, took offense to an off-handed remark about “spit shining the bar,” left  the tavern and returned to shoot in the back, a fine young man, named Peter Carone.

This writer met Addie Carone, a former social worker and matriarch of the Carone family at a Survivor’s of Homicide meeting.  This writer had the honor of becoming involved in their lives in the most intimate ways, particularly as a volunteer court escort in Hartford, CT following the March 1987 homicide.

I vividly recall Addie’s frustration, anger and class displayed during the public court process.  What happed in the bathroom was a snapshot of her release of emotion and rage that we all feel… and must display, or it will eventually destroy us emotionally and physically.   I recall, due to the former CT statutes, convicted felon, Adam Zachs being convicted and sentenced to 60 years and released to his parents “as long as they agreed to search his room for weapons.”

Following this miscarriage of justice, and much hard work, Addie was instrumental in subsequently changing the Connecticut law such that a convicted felon can no longer be released from prison while the case is on appeal!

Money talks….  It was reported that the Zach’s family hid felon Adam in Israel and then Mexico.  Using all of the criminal justice resources, the FBI and international officials, it was rumored over the years that Adam had, with the help of family, fled to Mexico.  His fugitive status remained illusive. It was known that he had a Mexican girlfriend and was featured on John Walsh’s, America’s Most Wanted (Fugitives) twice!

AMW narrative accompanying his “mug shot” and initial reward read as follows:

On August 23, 1988, at the conclusion of a jury trial, Adam Mark Zachs was convicted of murder and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Pending appeal, this deadly killer was released on a bond. In June of 1989, Zachs failed to appear at a scheduled court hearing and a warrant for failure to appear was issued by a judge in the Superior Court of Connecticut on June 27, 1989. A federal arrest warrant charging Zachs with unlawful flight to avoid confinement was issued on July 24, 1989, in the United States District Court, Hartford, Connecticut. Therefore, a reward of up to $50,000 has been offered by the FBI for information leading directly to the capture of Adam Mark Zachs.

And then….  On Tuesday February 1st, 2011, Zachs, 47, was arrested in Leon Guanajuato, Mexico, Tuesday and is being held in Mexico City, police said.  Zachs, who was living under an assumed name, had a wife and children in Mexico and worked in the computer repair business there.

Although the case is still under investigation, Zachs will be escorted back to Connecticut to begin serving his 60 year sentence.  Lo and behold, a hairdresser at my salon revealed yesterday that she used to cut both the victim and the murderer’s hair!  Small world….  This writer sent Addie, now age 83, a lovely and bright yellow floral arrangement last week!

Sail on silver girl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind.

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

Respectfully submitted,

Donna R. Gore

Homicide Survivor in Connecticut

2-13-2011

UPDATE TO CASE OF ADAM ZACHS-PETER CARONE

(Article from the Hartford Courant- April 5, 2011)

Connecticut’s congressional delegation has asked Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to help bring convicted murderer Adam Zachs back to West Hartford.

Zachs, 47, was arrested in Leon, Mexico, on Feb. 1, and is being held in Mexico City. Connecticut has filed paperwork requesting his extradition and is awaiting a response from Mexican authorities.

Zachs fled in 1989 while appealing his prison sentence for shooting Peter Carone at the Prospect Café in West Hartford. Police said the men had been watching an NCAA basketball tournament game in 1987 when an argument started. The two went outside and scuffled, and Zachs shot Carone in the back with a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, according to testimony at Zachs’ trial.

In a letter to Clinton last month, the state’s congressional delegation asked that she provide the legal and diplomatic assistance necessary to enforce a 1978 extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico. It also asked Clinton to see that Zachs is extradited as soon as possible.

The lawmakers have not received a response to their letter. Clinton will respond directly to the lawmakers and not through the media, said Andy Laine, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman’s office drafted the letter sent to Clinton. His office said that when it was contacted by both the West Hartford Police Department and the Carone family about the extradition, it decided to discuss the matter with the rest of the congressional delegation. The letter to Clinton was signed by the state’s two U.S. senators and five U.S. representatives.

Jim Carone, brother of Peter Carone, said his family sent Lieberman’s office a letter to remind people that Zachs had still not been returned to the U.S. The family and the police department want to keep the case’s profile high, Carone said.

Carone said it was hard for his family to wait while the extradition process plays out. Although the murder trial was years ago, his family still has an interest in what happens to Zachs, he said, adding that whatever happens will not change the fact that his brother was killed.

“The wrong has already been done,” he said.