$$$ JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES FINANCIAL COURT CASES $$$
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In the following criminal cases, the WatchTower Society - Jehovah's Witnesses religion served as the spiritual element of the perpetrator's and/or other actor's formative environment, or otherwise served as a major influencer of the perpetrator's and/or other actor's behavior. The following cases are often tragic, and speak for themselves.
In Spring 1997, two 18 year-old Jehovah's Witnesses, Jeremiah and Violet Ann Engleton, were married at San Antonio's Highland Park Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. A daughter was soon born in Summer 1998. In April 1999, Jeremiah Engleton, Violet Engleton, their infant daughter, Sara Lopez (Violet's sister), her two children, and her boyfriend Kenneth Vodochodsky (who had been Engleton's friend since they were small boys) all moved into a mobile home located in rural Atascosa County, about 40 miles south of SA. [Given Jeremiah's and Violet's status as teenage JWs, probably Sara Lopez, and possibly even Vodochodsky, likely had some sort of past with the JWs.]
Reportedly, after arriving home from work late the evening of October 11, 1999, Jeremiah Engleton became enraged at Violet for allowing their milk cow to get loose. The argument continued on into the evening and escalated until Jeremiah struck Violet, who called 9-1-1 around midnight. Jeremiah Engleton was arrested by Deputy Monse, and jailed. Kenneth Vodochodsky bailed out Jeremiah Engleton the afternoon of October 12. However, Violet Engleton had obtained a restraining order, which required Jeremiah Engleton to move out by 5:00 PM. Violet and Sara went to stay with Sara's in-laws, the Vodochodskys, in Floresville. Nineteen year-old Kenneth Vodochodsky's role in the events that occurred after he bailed out Jeremiah Engleton has been the subject of much debate and criminal prosecution and appeals, and is beyond the scope of this summary given the uncertainty of the extent of his ties to the JWs. See TEXAS v. VODOCHODSKY.
Jeremiah Engleton did not move out of the mobile home as directed by the restraining order. At 8:07 PM, the Atascosa County Sheriff's Office received a 9-1-1 call from Engleton's mobile home. Deputies Monse and Stephenson were dispatched to the residence. Monse arrived first at 8:28 PM, and was shot in the back as he exited his cruiser. The same thing happened when Stephenson arrived at 8:30 PM. Engleton shot both Deputies from a hidden ambush position using a SKS assault rifle. After shooting Stephenson, Engleton ran over to his victims, took their service pistols, and shot each in the face.
Deputy Stephenson managed to make an "officers down" report before he died. State Trooper Terry Miller was dispatched to check on the non-responding Deputies, and arrived at 8:51 PM. Miller managed to report that the two Deputies were "down", but Miller never even got his seatbelt undone before he was shot. Pleasanton PD Officer Louis Tudyk and retired Border Patrol Agent Carl Fisher both arrived about six or seven minutes later, and both were shot and wounded. Within the next hour, dozens of area law enforcement officers converged on the location, and exchanged gunfire with Jeremiah Engleton. When Engleton realized that he was going to be captured or killed, he shot himself in the head while firing wildly at officers.
WatchTower Society officials reportedly denied Renita Engleton's request for a JW funeral for her son, so, understanding that funerals are for the living, not the deceased, a local Methodist Church offered their facilities. Both Renita Engleton and Violet Engleton defended Jeremiah Engleton to the extent that he had been depressed to the point of hopelessness over his marital problems. In a suicide note left for his wife, Engleton wrote, "I can't deal with all that is happening, has happened, and is going to happen." Violet Engleton told reporters that they did not understand her husband, or why he did what he did. "He was a good person who had so much going wrong in his life right now, and I know if he had waited a while, we would have faced our lives together." Renita Engleton stated, "My son was in a lot of pain. He was hurting. He was disappointed. He was depressed."
TEXAS v. JONNELL ENGLETON. Within a short time after the tragedy, Jonnell Engleton, 20, brother of Jeremiah Engleton, was arrested for allegedly threatening police officers, and other related charges. Outcome unknown.
TEXAS v. BLENDA AKRIDGE was a 1998-2000 Texas court case which involved a female Jehovah's Witness named Blenda Akridge. In 1998, Akridge was indicted on two counts of "Intoxication Assault" as a result of an auto accident on July 4, 1998, in which Akridge was found to be legally intoxicated. Due to double-digit previous convictions, two enhancements raised Akridge's possible punishment to that of an habitual offender. Akridge pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea bargain agreement in which the State abandoned one of the enhancement allegations, and the trial court sentenced Akridge to twenty years in state prison. Affirmed on appeal.
KANSAS v. RUDY S. ANDERSON JR, KANSAS v. BENNETT, and KANSAS v. ROSS were related 1998-9 Kansas criminal court cases. On April 25, 1998, Montea Ross, 15, Loranzy Bennett, 15, and Rudy Anderson, Jr., 15, were arrested in Oaklawn, Kansas, after a 6 hour hostage standoff with police, during which a 36 year-old female was kidnapped, robbed, beat, raped, and even shot in the shoulder. Ross and Bennett reportedly forced the woman's 8 year-old daughter and her 11 year-old friend to watch as they repeatedly raped and sodomized the mother. In February 1999, Ross and Bennett entered into a plea bargain in which they received sentences of 30 years to life in prison. Montea Ross was subsequently murdered in prison. Allegedly, Rudy Anderson and either Ross or Bennett were cousins, and they were from a large, extended African-American Jehovah's Witness family. Anderson's JW Parents both protested their son's arrest and prosecution for his lesser role during the crime. In early May 1998, at the trio's first court appearance, the Jehovah's Witness Mother made a very strange comment to reporters, "Jehovah takes care of everybody. He knows in his heart that my son is a good boy -- and he is." Months later, at a November 1998 hearing, during which the judge ruled that Rudy Anderson, Jr. would have to stand trial as an adult, Anderson's JW Father reportedly accused the judge of holding "a judicial lynching". Rudy Anderson Jr went to trial in May 1999, and was convicted on charges of kidnapping, aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated criminal sodomy, rape, aggravated battery, aggravated robbery, and criminal possession of a firearm on school property, and was given an unknown but presumably lengthy prison sentence.
WATCHTOWER CONVENTION ASSAULT. In June 1999, at a WatchTower Convention being held in Tucson, Arizona, an unidentified male Jehovah's Witness, who was possibly a "parking attendant", threw a punch at an exhibitor attending a different convention at the venue, after the pair got into an argument over a "first come - first serve" parking spot. Unknown if JW Attendant connected with his punch. Unknown if JW Attendant was arrested.
VIRGINIA v. STANLEY BURKE was a 1998 Virginia armed robbery criminal court decision. In December 1998, a 20 year-old "devout" African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Stanley Burke, Jr., of Blackburg, Virginia, was convicted of armed robbery and battery, and sentenced to five years in prison (18 years total - 13 years were "suspended" -- probably because he was a JW). Stanley Burke's JW family and friends vehemently protested that it would have been impossible for Burke to have stuck-up at gunpoint the Radford, Virginia Domino's pizza shop, and impossible for Burke to have pistol-whipped the manager in the face.The JWs described the North Carolina A&T architectural engineering student as "a gentle, soft-spoken young man incapable of committing a violent crime". The ten JWs who testified in Burke's defense vowed an aggressive appeal of this gross injustice. However, the prosecution was evidently able to prove that Burke and 17 year-old Spencer Morgan purchased a Crossman BB pistol and two red bandanas from a Greensboro, North Carolina K-Mart before traveling home to Blacksburg, which is about 10 miles north of Radford. Morgan, a juvenile, pleaded guilty to robbery and received 12 months in jail.
CORBETT WELLS. At around 1:15 AM, on Tuesday, January 27, 1998, a 21 year-old African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Corbett Wells, was "hanging out" with his friends at an intersection in Hillborough County's Palm River, when 22 year-old Christopher Baccus drove up and "yelled a racial slur from the window of the car, possibly to a man he had loaned a gun to, witnesses said". According to police reports, one of Corbett Wells' friends threw something at Baccus' car, so Baccus stopped, got out, and charged at Wells and his friends with a beer bottle in his hand. Although Corbett Wells' friends scattered, Wells stood his ground, pulled out a 9mm handgun, and shot Baccus once in the mouth, killing him.
On April 22, 1998, a Hillborough County grand jury declined to prosecute Corbett Wells based on police reports and recorded interviews. That was a big relief to Corbett Wells' "devout" Jehovah's Witness Parents, Rocky Wells and Barbara Wells, with whom their youngest son still lived; especially Rocky Wells, given that he was employed with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Unfortunately, Corbett Wells was killed in a single-auto crash only five days later. On April 27, 1998, at around 3:00 AM, after a night of clubbing, Wells and a female he had just met that evening died in a crash which police "suspected" was caused by alcohol and speeding. Wells' auto had struck an interstate guardrail and flipped. After a 29 year-old daughter of Rocky Wells and Barbara Wells also died in an early AM automobile accident in July 1998, Barbara Wells told a reporter that she and her husband were strong in their JW faith that their whole family would one day be together again in the resurrection.
CALIFORNIA v. DANIEL ALAS was a 1998-2004 California murder court case. On Saturday night, November 21, 1998, Daniel Alas, 32, of San Mateo, California, had been drinking large quantities of beer when he decided to visit San Francisco'sRoaring 20s strip club, along with his brother, Richard Alas. However, the doorman refused the two brothers admittance because one or both of the brothers was obviously already intoxicated, and one or both of the brothers had an opened beer can in his hand. Daniel Alas reportedly became disruptive and initiated a series of confrontations with club personnel and patrons. At some point, Alas was beaten by several men -- possibly bouncers -- after he challenged them to a fight. Daniel Alas then returned to his van, grabbed his steering wheel locking device (aka "The Club"), walked up behind the doorman, and "clubbed" the doorman over the head. The doorman died three days later. In August 2000, Daniel Alas was convicted of second degree murder and given a 36 year to life sentence. The Judge reportedly stated: "Quite simply, you are not fit to live among civilized people." The Judge related that Alas had been "on the radar screen of the criminal justice system since (he was) 12 years old,'' and that Alas had a history of violence, fits of uncontrolled anger and alcoholism. The Judge also pledged to attend and testify at Alas' future parole hearings so long as he was able. In July 2002, that conviction was reversed on appeal due to juror misconduct, and Alas was granted another trial. In May 2004, Daniel Alas was again convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 36 years to life. There have been repeated appeals -- none of which have overturned the 2004 conviction.
CALIFORNIA v. DANIEL ALAS. Prior to this murder, Daniel Alas had done jail/prison time for a previous robbery conviction. Daniel and Richard Alas' mother was a Jehovah's Witness. Daniel Alas reportedly had also been a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses at some point in his troubled life. At the time of the murder, Daniel Alas was taking two types of anti-depressants. His brother, Richard Alas, was described by the media as "mentally disabled", which could mean any level and form of mental affectation given that he was capable of accompanying his brother to a strip joint.
NEW YORK v. JONATHAN LANCE PARKER was a 1997-98 New York murder case. In April 1997, 19 year-old Jonathan Lance Parker shot two Buffalo police officers -- Michael Martinez and Charles McDougald. Martinez was struck in his ankle, but Officer McDougald was killed. The real question in this case was not whether Jonathan Parker was guilty, but whether Parker would receive the death penalty. He did not. Parker's defense team successfully presented what is known as the"Jehovah's Witness Defense".
At some unknown point in Jonathan Parker's formative years, his father died leaving Jonathan to be reared by his widowed mother, Mary Barker, along with a brother, Reconnie Parker, who was four years older. When Jonathan was 11, his mother converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses, and she then did her best to rear Jonathan and Reconnie as Jehovah's Witnesses. The brothers regularly attended three sessions per week at the Delevan Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Apparently, all went well with Jonathan for a couple years. Jonathan appeared happy, and lived a normal early teenager's life. However, when Jonathan's mother became more and more insistent on his conforming to the never ending myriad of WatchTower rules, he rebelled. Even Reconnie Parker testified that their mother had beaten them to the point of leaving scars when they refused to go along with WatchTower teachings on sports, holidays, etc. The beatings sometime involved objects such as kitchen utensils, and were administered with the boys lying naked on a bed.
At age 14, Jonathan Parker ran away from home, and dropped out of school. For a while, Jonathan slept on the front porch of an abandoned house. He eventually lived with whichever street friends would take him in. By age 16, Parker was supporting himself as a drug dealer and general criminal. The same Officers Martinez and McDougald arrested Parker in a stolen auto with drugs when he was only 16. There were four more arrests on similar charges before the fateful encounter with Martinez and McDougald. A local school Principal, who had been Jonathan's fourth grade teacher, broke down in tears on the witness stand as she testified about the pendulum swing in Parker's life. Parker thrived in school, took part in many school activities, and had lots of friends. Another teacher testified that when in the 5th grade, Parker read at a 12th-grade level, and was "happy-go-lucky".
The jury took the "Jehovah's Witness Defense" seriously. After three days of deliberations, the jury decided against the death penalty, and gave Parker their only other option -- life without possibility of parole. Local JWs were outraged, and expressed such to reporters. They pointed to Jonathan's brother, who had endured the same upbringing and was an active JW at the time of the trial, as if the various factors affected Reconnie, at ages 15 through 18, the same way as such did Jonathan at ages 11-14.
TEXAS v. DERRICK LEON JACKSON was a 1998 Texas murder court decision. In March 1998, an African-American man, named Derrick Leon Jackson, was convicted of the September 1988 murders of two Houston Grand Opera singers during a robbery of their shared apartment. Derrick Jackson, then 19/20, reportedly stabbed and bludgeoned with a metal bar the two 31 year-old male singers. During the trial, it was alleged that Jackson had made the couple's acquaintance after he had been "picked up" the previous night at a gay bar by one of the singers. It was not until 1997 that police had the technology to match bloody fingerprints left at the scene of the crime with Jackson's fingerprints, who by 1997 was serving prison time for another unrelated aggravated robbery conviction. During the penalty phase of the trial, three of Jackson's other previous victims testified against him -- two were women robbed by Jackson at gunpoint, plus a man shot at by Jackson while attempting to steal the man's car. Derrick Jackson was sentenced to the death penalty, and his last known appeal was in early 2008. Derrick Leon Jackson had been reared as a Jehovah's Witness in Missouri City, Texas, by a JW Mother, named Rita Everline, a/k/a "Mama Dukes", who has always maintained her son's innocence. At the trial, Rita Everline and Jackson's two younger siblings testified that Jackson was a "loving son", who was "polite and nice, good personality, always smiling".
ILLINOIS v. ENRIQUE B. GERVAIS was a 1997-99 Illinois attempted murder of a police officer court decision. In the early AM hours of Sunday, January 12, 1997, Zion Police Department was called to a party at an apartment building, where three men were arguing/fighting, and at least one was waving a handgun. As the two responding officers were checking license plates on vehicles parked in a nearby alley, Enrique B. Gervais Jr., 21, sprang up behind the officers and began firing a 9mm handgun. One officer was struck in both legs a total of three times, severing one of that officer's femoral arteries, and he nearly bled to death at the scene. That officer was permanently disabled by the three wounds, and forced to retire. The other and additional responding officers exchanged gunfire with Gervais, who did not stop shooting until he ran out of ammunition. Enrique Gervais Jr pled "guilty" to attempted murder and aggravated discharge of a firearm, and he was sentenced to 70 years in prison, and not be eligible for parole until he had served 85% of that term. However, that sentence was appealed, and ordered reviewed in 1999. Due to the fact that Gervais had become a model prisoner -- completing substance abuse counseling, becoming a peer counselor, and "leading a prison Bible Study group" -- Gervais's sentence was reduced to 55 years, and he was made eligible for parole after serving 50% of that term. Enboldened by that success, Gervais has since continued to file appeals in attempts to get his sentence further reduced. Enrique Gervais Sr., and wife, had reared Junior as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. However, as Junior entered his teen years, he began to rebel against their strict WatchTower rules. Gervais' JW family testified that he had suffered from depression, and supposedly had twice attempted suicide. He eventually started abusing alcohol and drugs, and eventually fell in with the wrong crowd.
FLORIDA v. JACQUES DAVID NIEVES was a 1997-98 Florida murder court decision. In July 1998, then 22 year-old Jacques David Nieves, of Spring Hill, Florida, plea bargained "guilty" to a charge of second degree murder for having shot and killed Missy Wilkerson, in May 1997. Jacques D. Nieves was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Jacques Nieves was apparently originally from New York given a reported prior criminal record in that state. Jacques David Nieves apparently was reared as a Jehovah's Witness given that his mother, Dina Nieves, described the rest of her family as "devout Jehovah's Witnesses". After her son's arrest, Dina Nieves told a reporter that she had no plans to visit her eldest son at the jail or offer him any support, because: "My religion doesn't allow me to associate with worldly people, and Jacques is very worldly." In the early AM hours of Saturday, May 5, 1997, Jacques David Nieves was attending a drinking party at a rural mobile home, where he and four of his friends first argued with Wilkerson's 19 year-old boyfriend, Daniel Carter. When Wilkerson and Carter later returned to supposedly retrieve a carseat, Nieves and his friends jumped and beat Carter. As Carter fled the mobile home, Jacques Nieves fired a shot at Carter. The gunshot struck Carter's 21 year-old girlfriend, Missy Wilkerson, in the forehead as she exited the car to help Carter. With the aid of his friends, Jacques Nieves fled the scene of the murder, but was arrested two days later after being chased by police and "pitted" off the roadway.
PENNSYLVANIA v. VINCENT FRAZIER was a 1998-2014 Pennsylvania criminal court case. Apparently at a time when his own family was preparing to move out of the rural Blakeslee, Pennsylvania subdivision where they had lived for three years, a large 18 year-old African-American Gorilla named Vincent Frazier broke into a Caucasian neighbor's home in the early A.M. hours of a Saturday morning in May 1998. The masked Vincent Frazier woke up the family and fruitlessly demanded money at gunpoint. Frazier thereafter proceeded to abduct the family's 5 foot tall, 95-pound, 15 year-old daughter, and take her to a vacant house in the same subdivision, where the animal proceeded to RAPE her multiple times. When he was eventually "satisfied", Frazier attempted to strangle the girl with his arm. When that failed to kill her, Frazier attempted to smother her with a pillow. When she still did not die, Frazier than stabbed her multiple times in her neck, chest, and back. When she still did not die, Frazier repeatedly hit her in the head with a board. Frazier then threw the "corpse" in some nearby woods. Frazier returned several hours later, retrieved the "corpse", and hid "it" in a hole in the vacant home's porch. The victim somehow managed to eventually crawl to a nearby house for help. She was air-flighted to Lehigh Valley Hospital where she was hospitalized for only four days.
Vincent Frazier was arrested that same day at his telemarketing job. In August 1999, Frazier pled guilty to aggravated assault, kidnapping, rape, and robbery, in exchange for the bargain of 22 to 46 years in prison. Since then, Frazier has appealed that "gift" to every state and federal court available. This POS should never have made it to the county jail. Early in the prosecution, Frazier and his attorney, Janet Jackson, screamed "racism" as the reason for Frazier's arrest.
Vernon Frazier, an older brother, had been arrested in June 1997 and charged in similar circumstances with conspiracy, stalking, robbery, and theft, but for unknown reasons that victim had dropped the charges.
TARTOMMIE BIVENS KILLED IN ROBBERY. In 1997, Mexican food truck operators had repeatedly been robbed while selling food in one certain section of Oakland, California. By June 1997, Oakland police had started surveillance of such in hopes of catching the thug or thugs. On Saturday morning, June 7, Tartommie Bivens, 26, approached a taco truck, which was under police surveillance, pulled a handgun, and demanded and took money from the two operators. When officers approached to make the arrest, Tartommie Bivens fired one shot at them, and then fled after officers returned fire. During the pursuit, Bivens dropped both his gun and the money. As Bivens attempted to get over a fence, one of the officers grabbed his legs. A struggle ensued during which Bivens repeatedly tried to grab the officers weapon. One of the officers then shot and killed Blivens. After a formal inquiry, the shooting was ruled "justified". Tartommie Bivens' sister, Darlene, contested the findings, and even filed one or more formal complaints. Darlene Bivens told reporters that her brother had been reared as a Jehovah's Witness, but that, "He became a victim of the system, and was soon to be labeled a criminal.ï¿½ She also mentioned that he had two children, but there was no mention of a wife. She also described him as a "proud young man", who "was never ashamed of who he was". (Who/what was he besides an armed robber?)
UNITED STATES v. KEVIN PAPPAS (1996-97), UNITED STATES v. KEVIN PAPPAS (1987-88), STATE v. KEVIN PAPPAS. From various reviews of his autobiography, GODFATHER OF NIGHT, Kevin Cunningham was born in Tarpon Springs, Florida, in 1964, and he was reared by parents described as "stern Jehovah's Witnesses". When Kevin Cunningham was 17, and his JW Father was on his deathbed, Jim Cunningham supposedly told Kevin that he was not his biological father, but rather that his biological father was a local notorious gangster named Lukie Pappas. Kevin attempted to establish a relationship with Lukie Pappas, and even legally changed his name to Kevin Lucas Pappas, but the gangster rejected Kevin's outreach. Thereafter, Kevin Pappas left the Jehovah's Witnesses and began a life of serious crime, including drug trafficking, money laundering, gunrunning, and racketeering. At some point, Kevin relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin may have spent 8 months in jail or state prison in Georgia or Florida. In the latter 1980s, after being arrested in what has been portrayed as "one of the world's biggest drug seizures", Kevin, then age 24, was sentenced to 2 life terms in federal prison, but served only 14 years after he repeatedly assisted federal prosecutors with multiple prosecutions in which prisoners testified against fellow prisoners. In November 1998, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:
From an office in Atlanta, Kevin Pappas, a former drug smuggler, sold prisoners confidential information gleaned from the files of federal law enforcement officers or, in some instances, from the case files of other convicts.
By memorizing confidential data from those files, the prisoners could testify to events that only an insider might know and help prosecutors win an indictment or a conviction.
Well-heeled prisoners paid Pappas as much as $225,000 for the confidential files, and in exchange for their testimony, prosecutors would ask judges to reduce the prison terms of these new-found witnesses.
Pappas and Robert Fierer, an Atlanta lawyer, called their company Conviction Consultants Inc., but a group of defense lawyers in Georgia had another name for it: "Rent-a-rat."
Federal agents shut down the operation last year. Pappas and Fierer pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and income tax evasion in connection with the scheme. Pappas struck a deal and became a witness for the government against his former partner. He has not been sentenced, but Fierer was given a 21/2-year term in prison. So far, federal authorities havenï¿½t explained how Pappas gained access to confidential government files.
KEVIN PAPPAS v. CRISS was a 2009 Georgia appellate civil court decision:
Homeowners Jim and Lisa Criss sued Kevin and Cathie Pappas d/b/a Outside Creations for breach of contract related to a landscaping project. Pappas contended that the contract was not with him personally but with a corporation that has filed for bankruptcy. The homeowners moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted it in part, finding that the contract at issue was between the homeowners and Pappas personally, not Pappas as the agent of a corporate entity. The court also held that issues of fact remained as to all other questions. Pappas appeals, pro se, arguing that he should not be held personally liable, but for the reasons that follow we affirm.
FLORIDA v. STEVEN MAURICE EVANS was a 1996-2007 Florida murder court case. On April 26, 1996, Steven Maurice Evans, then 28, kidnapped and murdered a subordinate gang member named Kenneth Lewis. Earlier that day, Steven Evans, Kenneth Lewis, and two other gang members traveled from Orlando to Sanford, Florida to commit a home invasion robbery of a drug dealer. Evans' robbery plan fell apart after Lewis drove off and seemingly abandoned his fellow gang members.
Steven Evans suspected that Lewis was returning to Orlando in order to rob Evans' girlfriend, who apparently was holding Evans' money. Evans and his friends traveled back to Orlando with the assistance of a Sanford friend. When Lewis eventually showed up at Evans' apartment, the Trio jumped Lewis, beat him, and bound and gagged him.The fact that Lewis did not show up to the apartment until after the Trio made it back from Sanford would seem to indicate that Lewis either had abandoned his robbery plan, or there never was such, and he had driven off for some other reason. In any event, Evans was not in the mood to listen to any excuses or explanations.
Steven Evans fashioned a homemade silencer from a shampoo bottle stuffed with plastic bags and taped it to the barrel of a .22 caliber pistol. The Trio then walked Lewis to a drainage canal behind Evans' apartment building, and pushed Lewis down into the ditch. Evans then placed the pistol to Lewis' head and fired six shots, with four bullets entering Lewis' brain.
The Trio were quickly charged after Lewis' body was discovered, and eventually prosecuted for the murder. However, the prosecution of Steven Evans was twice delayed due to a finding that Evans was not legally competent to stand trial due to a variety of mental illnesses. During the third hearing, in which the court ruled that a trial could proceed, one of the three experts still testified that Evans remained legally incompetent. In 1999, Steven M. Evans was tried, convicted, and eventually sentenced to the death penalty -- which continues to be the subject of appeals.
During the penalty phase of his trial, Evans' family and psychiatrists testified about Evans' childhood and teenage years, during which Evans was reared as a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Born out of wedlock, Steven Evans lived with his maternal grandmother until he was 6 years-old. Around 1974, his mother, Linda Lee Evans, married Marvin Evans, who apparently adopted Steven. The couple also eventually had their own son and daughter.
Around 1975, which was the year that the WatchTower Society was predicting that Armageddon would occur, the Evans family joined the Jehovah's Witnesses. Steven Evans was reared as a typical JW Child, and supposedly remained an "active" member (attending meetings and performing door-to-door recruiting) until around 1987, when he was 19 years-old.
Over the years, Evans supposedly displayed various and multiple signs of mental illness. Additionally, when Steven Evans was 16 or 17, Marvin Evans caught Steven masturbating, and hauled him before the Congregation Elders, where Steven's "sin" was discussed and condemned, and a course of "correction" was implemented -- possibly including some type of organizational probation and/or punishment. This probable multiple-session WatchTower procedure no doubt did not help with Steven's growing mental health issues. Reportedly, sometime soon thereafter, Steven started to get involved in gang activity, and eventually joined the Eight-Tre Gangsters while still an "active" JW.
When he was around 19 years-old, Evans married and started his own family. However, when he was 22/23 he was caught committing adultery, and he was "excommunicated" from the JWs. Thereafter, his parental support system, which was undoubtedly stifled by the WatchTower requirement to "shun" disfellowshipped members, was unable to save Evans from his growing mental health and other personal issues, which spiraled even further out of control.
FLORIDA v. STEVEN M. EVANS and FLORIDA v. STEVEN EVANS. Specifics are unavailable, but in 1994, Steven Evans was convicted of charges relating to an armed robbery. After serving a short prison term, Evans then walked away from a work release facility, and thereafter was convicted on an escape charge. Given the timing, Evans could not have been back on the streets very long before he murdered a member of his gang in April 1996.
IOWA v. BENJAMIN EDWARD SCHREIBER was a 1996-97 Iowa murder court case. Sometime prior to the evening of July 27, 1996, Benjamin Edward Schreiber and Evelyn Tangie began to develop a relationship, and earlier that day, Tangie had even visited the "bus" in which Benny Schreiber lived in order to see if it had enough room for her and her young son to move in and live with Schreiber. However, there was one major problem. Evelyn Tangie had an off-n-on live-in boyfriend, named John Terry, who was a heavy drinker who often mistreated and abused Tangie. Tangie had attempted to end their relationship, but Terry would not leave her alone.
On the evening of July 27, 1996, Terry and Tangie went to a friend's home, when Benjamin E. Schreiber just so happened to show up, apparently representing himself as a friend of the friend. The foursome socialized and drank. After Terry became highly intoxicated, Schreiber and Tangie convinced Terry to go look at an old unoccupied mobile home located in an isolated rural area of Wapello County. Even after two murder trials, noone really knows exactly what occurred when the trio arrived at the scene of the murder. Tangie claimed that she had no clue what was going to occur, but that as Terry and she walked hand-in-hand toward the mobile home, Benny Schreiber came up behind them and repeatedly struck Terry in the head with an ax handle -- killing Terry. A jury determined that Evelyn Tangie aided and abetted in the murder, and convicted her of second degree murder. A jury found Benjamin Schreiber guilty of first degree murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
BENJAMIN E. SCHREIBER v. WARDEN. Not long after arriving in prison, Schreiber filed a lawsuit against the prison, in which he claimed that the prison was violating his "freedom of religion" by refusing to pour his blood samples onto the ground and cover his blood with dust as supposedly dictated by his Jehovah's Witness beliefs. Schreiber claimed that he was reared as a Jehovah's Witness, by a Jehovah's Witness Mother, and that after entering prison he had returned to the faith of his youth. Schreiber lost.
In summer 1996, during the noon break at the WatchTower District Convention held in Freedom Hall, in Louisville, Kentucky, multiple Jehovah's Witness Teenagers were apprehended by security guards, but eventually released to the custody of their JW Parents, after those JW Teenagers were caught dropping lighted firecrackers into multiple trashcans located at the indoor flea market being held at the same time at the at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center.
CONNECTICUT v. NICHOLAS APONTE, CONNECTICUT v. MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ, and CONNECTICUT v. JASON CASIANO. On a hot August evening in 1995, in Waterbury, Connecticut, Nick Aponte, age 17, his brother Miguel Rodriguez, age 14, and their cousin, Jason Casiano, age 16, sat on Leslie Aponte's front porch drinking malt liquor and playing spades. At some point the three teenagers and a fourth 15 year-old friend began to plan an armed robbery. They drove to a nearby SUBWAY sandwich shop in North Haven, where they "cased" the store for a hour until closing time -- and until 28 year-old manager David Horan was alone. Aponte, Casiano, and Rodriguez all went inside and proceeded to "stick-up" Horan. When Horan explained that there was no cash left in the register, and that he did not know the combination to the store's safe, Casiano shot Horan once in the face, and twice in his torso -- killing Horan. Casiano plea bargained to 50 years in prison without parole. Rodriguez testified against Aponte in exchange for a 14 year prison sentence, but was paroled after serving 7 years. Nick Aponte went to trial and was sentenced to 38 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
CONNECTICUT v. LESLIE RODRIGUEZ AKA LESLIE APONTE. In June 1996, LESLIE APONTE a/k/a LESLIE RODRIGUEZ, was charged with Conspiracy to commit first-degree Murder and Risk of Injury to a Minor. The Prosecutor alleged that Leslie Rodriguez knew about the robbery before it occurred, and that Leslie Aponte knew that her sons and nephew were armed with a firearm. Leslie Aponte-Rodriguez pleaded "not guilty". Outcome unknown.
CALIFORNIA v. ANTHONY JULIUS MITCHELL was a 1995-99 California bank robbery case. Reared by strict Jehovah's Witness Parents, who continued to provide him with financial and moral support, Tony Julius Mitchell, 30, was convicted in July 1996 of armed robbing $2,985.00 from the World Savings Bank, in Salinas, California. After having served 27 months of the 96 months prison sentence, in March 1999, the California federal USCA reversed Tony J. Mitchell's conviction, and remanded for a new trial. The federal prosecutor declined to retry the case -- probably because the prosecution's original case had not been that strong, plus Tony Mitchell would probably have soon been eligible for parole anyway.
The strengths of the prosecution's case included the fact that Mitchell's apartment was only two blocks from the bank. A female eyewitness, who had been outside the bank when the robbery occurred, confidently gave police a description of the robber, and even took down the license plate number from the get-a-way car. That female eyewitness later picked out Mitchell's photograph from a photo-lineup. The license number also matched Mitchell's car. Police later found clothes, a backpack, and a fanny pack in Mitchell's closet that matched eyewitness descriptions of what the robber had with him.
The weaknesses of the prosecution's case included the fact that some of the eyewitnesses gave conflicting descriptions -- some of which did not match Tony Mitchell. The usual strong evidence of bank robbery -- dye pack marks on the robber's body and/or clothing, marked money found on the robber and/or people he bought things from, bank videotape of the robber -- were all lacking. Additionally, soon after Mitchell's conviction, his baby-momma's mother came forward and offered to testify that she was with Mitchell the morning of the robbery. However, Mitchell and his baby-momma reportedly had become estranged while he was in prison. [Court records always referred to Mitchell's "wife", but in a media interview, Mitchell refers to his baby-momma as his "girlfriend", although he also mentioned that he had once been married.] The USCA reversed and remanded because inadmissible evidence regarding Mitchell's poverty was admitted and relied upon heavily to secure Mitchell's conviction. The court stated, in part:
"The poverty evidence was not only of negligible probative value, but also produced a high 'danger of unfair prejudice.' ... The prosecutor did not merely show that Mitchell would be better off if he had a few thousand dollars more. She effectively portrayed him as a feckless man who did not support his wife and children. She showed with the poverty evidence that Mitchell let his wife [girlfriend?] draw welfare while he went to the basketball court, lived on his parents' bounty at an age where most people do not, and let his family get evicted from their apartment. Jurors' feelings about a man who lives that way have no legitimate bearing on whether he should be convicted of robbing a bank. That a person is feckless and poor, or greedy and rich, without more, has little tendency to establish that the person committed a crime to get more money, and its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. The district court's discretion was not broad enough to allow admission of the evidence of Mitchell's impecunious financial circumstances."
Tony Julius Mitchell was the youngest of three brothers and three sisters reared in Seaside, California. Their JW Father, an ex-Marine, who worked for the City of Seaside, was a devout JW, and a strict parent. "We had to follow rules. It wasn't like nowadays, where you can cuss your parents and get away with it," said Mitchell, who avoided drugs, gangs and violence. "I usually stayed to myself. People called me a square." When Mitchell was charged with the armed bank robbery, in February 1996, he pleaded not guilty. Mitchell's JW Father posted bail. His parents didn't believe the charges. "I felt he was being railroaded," stated Mitchell's JW Father.
UNITED STATES v. VERONICA M. THOMPSON was a 1994-97 Illinois federal appellate court decision. In 1995, a Jehovah's Witness, named Veronica M. Thompson, and her brother-in-law's sister, named Veronica Andalon, were both convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. The Duo received prison sentences of only 63 months. On appeal, their convictions and sentences were affirmed by the USCA.
On December 12, 1994, an Illinois State Police Trooper clocked a rental truck going 61 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. When the trooper pulled up alongside the rental truck to see who was driving it, the driver, Veronica Thompson, dropped below the 45 mile per hour minimum. The trooper also noticed that a car with California license plates appeared to be tailing the rental truck. Both vehicles were equipped with CB radio antennae. When the trooper pulled the rental truck over, the tail vehicle continued on its way. The trooper asked Veronica M. Thompson to sit in his patrol car while he issued her a "written warning"for the violation, and checked her license on his computer. While waiting for the computer check on her license, the trooper engaged Thompson in casual conversation. Thompson told the trooper that she was moving to New York. When the trooper asked if she had an apartment, Thompson replied that she did not know the address, but had a phone number to call when she got there. After giving Thompson the "written warning", and informing her that she was free to leave, the trooper then asked if she would mind answering a few more questions. Thompson told him to go ahead. The trooper explained that part of his duty was to investigate the transport of illegal drugs and guns. He asked if Thompson had any guns in the truck. She said she did not. He then asked if she had any illegal drugs. She looked away, and then said no. The trooper then gave Thompson a completed consent-to-search form, and explained what it was. He told her she did not have to sign it. Thompson examined the form, and then signed it.She then volunteered to the trooper that some of the furniture in the truck belonged to a friend named Bill Smith, and she was taking it to New York as a favor.
When the trooper opened the rear cargo compartment of the rental truck he immediately noticed an overwhelming odor of deodorizer. He searched some boxes near the passenger compartment, and found bundles of compressed marijuana wrapped in heat-sealed plastic and smeared with a gel deodorizer. He then arrested Thompson and Andalon, took them to Illinois State Police headquarters, and impounded the truck. Surprisingly, before either Thompson or Andalon even had a chance to make a telephone call, an attorney from St. Louis called State Police headquarters to inquire about their arrest. A thorough search of the rental truck revealed two refrigerators sealed with caulk, and filled with more marijuana. A total of about 630 pounds of marijuana, with an estimated street value of $1,100,000.00, was uncovered. A fingerprint belonging to Veronica Thompson was lifted from one of the plastic bags in which the marijuana was wrapped. Further investigation revealed that the tail vehicle, which left the scene when the rental truck was pulled over, was registered to Jose Luis Romero, a convicted narcotics trafficker. Romero had been seen with Thompson's brother-in-law, and Veronica Andalon's brother, named Guillermo Flores Andalon, who was also a convicted marijuana trafficker, shortly before the two Veronica's left California.
DEA agents interviewed both Thompson and Andalon. Both claimed ignorance of the marijuana found in the truck. (The odor from the deodorizer was so overwhelming that the truck could not be stored inside the ISP garage.) Thompson explained that she ran her own import/export business, and was changing her base of operations from San Diego to New York. Veronica Thompson claimed that before she left California, she got a call from a man named "Bill Smith", whom she had met some months earlier at a San Diego disco. She had seen Bill Smith and his brother, "John Smith", socially on two subsequent occasions. According to Thompson, when she told Bill Smith that she was moving her business to New York, he offered to help pay her moving expenses if she would take some of his furniture to New York. Bill Smith was unable to move the items himself, she explained, because he had broken his leg. Bill Smith also gave her extensive directions about renting the truck, and the route she should take to New York.
Veronica Andalon's version of events differed from Thompson's version. Andalon stated that Thompson and she had met "John Smith" at a disco in Tijuana. According to Andalon, Thompson and she were going to New York on vacation. When John Smith learned of their vacation plans, he asked if they would help him move some furniture to a house he owned in Philadelphia, in exchange for his paying for the rental truck. It was John Smith, according to Andalon, who had the broken leg. Both Thompson and Andalon denied any knowledge of the tail vehicle noticed following their rental truck. Interestingly, the federal appellate opinion seems to indicate that Veronica Thompson did not mention that she was a Jehovah's Witness until doing so in her written appeal, which would make the likelihood even greater that such was the truth, not less. The USCA noted, in part:
"The defendants do little more on appeal than reiterate the story they told at trial, and insist that it is the most plausible version of events. Thompson asserts that the furniture she was transporting was consistent with her claim that she was moving her business from San Diego to New York. She further explains that Guillermo Flores drove her to the office where she rented the truck, and when she got into his car, she tossed some plastic bags into the back seat. The true conspirators, she suggests, later used one of these bags to wrap the marijuana, which explains how her fingerprint got onto the bundle. Thompson justifies her decision to move a truckload of furniture across the country without first having found a place to stay with the explanation that she was a Jehovah's Witness, and planned to contact the Jehovah's Witnesses in New York to help her find a place to live. ...
"The government pointed out that the defendants spent three days in a closed truck which smelled overpoweringly of deodorizer, which obviously would or should have aroused their suspicions about their cargo. Both denied any knowledge of any "tail vehicle" (which was registered to a convicted marijuana trafficker who happened to be an associate of defendant Andalon's brother, also a convicted marijuana trafficker), but were unable to explain how an attorney called the police about their arrest before either had a chance to make any phone calls. Moreover, Thompson had packed very little clothing, which was inconsistent with her claim that she was moving her goods permanently to New York; the furniture was old and battered, and one table still had a tag suggesting that it had recently been bought at a thrift shop. The government also pointed out that defendants' stories were not the same: Thompson said Bill Smith (who, according to Thompson, owned three houses but had no telephone) asked for her help. According to Andalon it was John Smith who asked for help (although both Smiths had broken legs, depending on which defendant was telling the story). Thompson initially told DEA agents that both she and Andalon were present when the property was loaded onto the truck; Andalon contradicted this story and stated that the truck was fully loaded when she met up with Thompson. Andalon said the two of them were going on vacation; Thompson claimed she was travelling on business, although, despite carrying numerous credit cards, she paid for the entire trip in cash and kept no records or receipts, which one might expect a businessperson to do for tax purposes."
In December 1994, a 17 year-old African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Michael Allen Johnson, was shot in the back and killed while walking home from his part-time job after he refused to surrender his "athletics jacket" to three neighbor-hoodlums. Johnson was eulogized by an Elder at his Edgewood Terrace Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses as a devoted Jehovah's Witness who spent 16 hours a month going door-to-door.
TEXAS v. MICHAEL ALLEN JOHNSON. In November 1989, then 12 year-old Michael Allen Johnson was accused of stabbing to death 24 year-old teacher, Jana Simpson, at Glen Park Elementary. It was the teacher's first day on the job at this school, which had not yet started classes, and she was stabbed 17 times just outside her mobile home classroom. Simpson's purse went untouched, which left few motives for the attack. Police initially were drawn to Johnson as a potential witness, but after what was later described as unlawful threats and coercion, Johnson admitted to killing the teacher after she discovered Johnson prowling the school grounds. Johnson later passed several polygraphs in which he retracted the confession and denied the murder. Most of the confession was not admitted at trial, and the jury acquitted Johnson in only 40 minutes. Johnson was the only suspect, and since no murder weapon was found, noone else was ever prosecuted for the murder.
THE JEHOVAH'S WITNESS POLITICAL ASSASSIN. In March 1994, 23 year-old Mario Aburto Martinez, a Mexican citizen who had spent considerable time living and working in the United States, assassinated Mexico's then leading Presidential Candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta. When international news outlets started reporting that Mario Aburto Martinez was a Jehovah's Witness, the Mexico City branch of the WatchTower Society typically claimed that Mario Aburto Martinez "is not and never was one of Jehovah's Witnesses".
Mario Aburto Martinez was born in October 1970, in La Rinconada, a small town outside Zamora, in Michoacan state. Multiple persons from that area confirmed that the family were devout Jehovah's Witnesses, a fact which set them distinctly apart from the rest of the 99.9% Roman Catholic community. Reports even noted that as a child attending local school, Mario Aburto Martinez had been expelled twice for what was described as "not showing the proper respect for the Mexican flag".
Mario Aburto Martinez probably had not turned in a field service report for February 1994, but the S.O.P. of the WatchTower Society of not merely disowning, but entirely denying paternity, of its wayward "children" is no longer sustainable. It was the five weekly meetings at the local Kingdom Hall, the weekly door-knocking and recruiting, and the rearing by a Jehovah's Witness Mother, which all came together as the formative environment that shaped who was 23 year-old Mario Aburto Martinez.
Mario Aburto Martinez reportedly had even considered shooting Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari during the 1988 presidential campaign, but he had changed his mentally ill mind with a instance of rationality that as an 18 year-old maybe such was not the right decision. Mario Aburto Martinez also kept a diary, which Mexican authorities reported was full of "religious quotations", and what was described as "vague references to world peace" -- possibly "vague" to investigators, because non-JWs are unfamiliar with the specifics of WatchTower Society teachings regarding the soon-to-occur Armageddon, which is followed by a 1000 years of peace in a paradise earth.
Mario Aburto Martinez fancied himself a philosopher and a writer. While living and working in southern California, he had unsuccessfully attempted to get a publisher to publish some of his writings. That publisher recalled that one work dealt with the church-state relationship in Mexico. Viewers should read Raymond Franz's CRISIS OF CONSCIENCE to understand why that topic was of most importance to Mexican JWs back in the 1980s. Jehovah's Witnesses will not believe what the WatchTower Society was doing in Mexico, and requiring Mexican JWs to do, before certain laws respecting religious organizations were eventually changed in the 1990s.
MINNESOTA v. ROBERT GEORGE JEFFERSON and MINNESOTA v. ROBERT JAMES JEFFERSON were related 1994-98 Minnesota criminal court cases, which involved two Jehovah's Witness Crips affiliated GangBangers, who were deemed by the federal judge to have operated and oversaw "one of the most violent groups of people that [Minnesota] has ever seen."
In March 1994, half-brothers Robert George "Buster" Jefferson, 18, and Robert James "Duddy" Jefferson, 16, were arrested on various murder, attempted murder, and drug trafficking charges all relating to the St. Paul, Minnesota, street gang which they operated. In the February 1994 firebombing of a fellow 17 year-old gang member's home, five of that gang member's younger siblings (ages 2 to 11) died in that fire. Buster Jefferson, the 18 year-old gang leader, had ordered the firebombing, and 16 year-old Duddy Jefferson had carried it out by constructing the firebomb(s) and driving the "bomb throwers" to the scene of the murders. In 1994, the Jefferson gang also murdered a 21 year-old member of a rival gang.
At the July 1998 trial, Duddy's Jehovah's Witness Parents, Robert and Kathy Jefferson, and a sister all testified that Duddy was home at the time of the firebombing. Robert George Jefferson, Sr., whom the media described as a "Jehovah's Witness Lay Minister", stated that he would not lie for his sons, whom he loved, or anyone else, because he loved God more. Buster Jefferson testified regarding the deaths of the five young children, "It's a tragic situation, but it wasn't at the hands of me." Two St. Paul police officers were called by the prosecution to challenge the alibi provided Duddy Jefferson by his JW Family. The two JW Brothers were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole on differing charges.
CALIFORNIA v. SEAN VENYETTE VINES is a still ongoing 1994-2011 California DEATH PENALTY first degree MURDER case. In September 1994, an African-American male named Sean Vines, then age 20, who was employed at another nearby McDonalds restaurant which Sean had himself robbed only 11 days previous, this time along with an accomplice, held up another Sacramento area McDonalds restaurant where Sean Vines had been employed only a few months previous. When a Manager named Ronald Lee recognized Vines, Vines shot Lee in the back of the head execution-style.
Sean Vines was reared by poor African-American parents and great-grandparents who lived in poor inner-city neighborhoods within multiple different California cities. Conversion to the Jehovah's Witnesses turned around the life of Sean Vine's mother, Evette Pearson, after she was divorced from Sean's father. Sean Vine's mother thrived as a Jehovah's Witness. However, while her conversion to and "immersion" into the WatchTower Cult turned her own terrible life around, her conversion was the point at which Sean's life became even worse -- never to rebound. In spite of his poor home environment and the terrible neighborhoods and schools, Sean Vines appeared to be one of the few male students in Watts who would not only graduate from high school, but do so earning decent grades. Described as mild-mannered and studious, music was Sean Vine's passion. Sean Vines played trombone and marched in his high school's marching band. That was, until his Jehovah's Witness Mother, Evette Pearson, took away from Sean the one thing that kept him distracted from all the evil that surrounded him. Sean Vine's Jehovah's Witness Mother forced him to quit the band and all other school activities that were interfering with the family's studying for and attending the five weekly meetings at their local Kingdom Hall. Sean Vines moved out when he was 16 years-old. By age 20, this kid who once had a chance in life was capable of cold-bloodedly executing a person that he knew.
ILLINOIS v. JAMIE GASPER was a 1995-2000 Illinois CAPITAL MURDER prosecution. In April 1994, at around 2:30 A.M., 19 year-old African-American Jehovah's Witness Jamie Gasper set off the alarm in the 1990 Corsica parked at the East St. Louis residence of 18 year-old employed college student Vincent Allen. When Allen peeked out of his bedroom window to see what was happening to his car, which had already been broken into once before, Gasper shot twice and killed Allen. Although the shooting had been witnessed by several people, it was a year before Allen's parents were told who was the LOWLIFE who had murdered their son. After many legalities between 1995 and 2000, Jamie Gasper eventually plea bargained to a guilty plea of first degree murder in exchange for a 45 year prison sentence. Gasper will be eligible for parole in 2020.
MONTANA v. DONALD BARRACK was a 1992-94 Montana criminal court case in which Donald Barrack was convicted of aggravated assault for the shooting of a Jehovah's Witness female named Sue Llewellyn. Barrack was a former law enforcement officer who was living in a mobile home owned by Sue Llewellyn's boyfriend, Robert Cole, and Cole's estranged wife, who were in the process of divorcing. On the evening of February 13, 1992, both Coles and Barrack went out drinking together. Barrack was informed that the mobile home had been sold, and Barrack agreed to move out by February 20, 1992. Later that night, Sue Llewellyn picked up an inebriated Robert Cole from a friend's home. Possibly misunderstanding when Don Barrack was supposed to vacate Cole's trailer, Sue Llewellyn took Cole to the trailer to see if Barrack was packing, or maybe had even vacated the premises. There, around 10:30 PM, Sue Llewellyn and Cole, yelling at each other, pounded the doors, and possibly the sides, without any response from Barrack, who was "asleep". Barrack claimed that he was finally awakened by the pounding at the doors. Startled, he grabbed his pistol, and started down the trailer to the places of the noise. Llewellyn finally kicked open the front door, and entered, and was shot by Barrack.
Barrack was convicted of aggravated assault by a local jury. Barrack was initially sentenced to ten years in prison, with eight suspended, but two weeks later, the entire sentence was suspended. Barrack moved for a new trial based on the fact that his attorney was told that no blood alcohol test had been performed at the hospital on Sue Llewellyn, because she was a Jehovah's Witness, when in fact, there had been one. (Results unknown). The confusion may have been a result of the issue of blood transfusions due to Llewellyn's gunshot wound. Llewellyn later admitted having drank some wine that evening. The trial court denied Barrack's motion for a new trial, and the appellate court upheld such. However, two dissenting justices believed that the shooting of Sue Llewellyn was "justifiable", and that Barrack should receive a new trial.
NORTH CAROLINA v. JESSE ALONZO GAMBALIE. Limited details. In August 1994, Jesse A. Gambalie, of Asheville, North Carolina, was arrested on charges of "Possession of Weapon of Mass Destruction". In February 1995, Jesse Gambalie, by then age 18, was convicted on same charge in Buncombe County, NC.
THE ISAIAH BELL SHOOTING. On Wednesday, September 21, 1994, at around 10:30 PM, a 17 year-old African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Isaiah "Ikey" Bell, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was accidentally shot and killed by a "white" Milwaukee police officer, who was responding to a call regarding the possible burglary of a neighborhood garage. On the police officers' arrival at the garage, which was not far from the home of Lucille Bell, who was Ikey's Jehovah's Witness Mother, three or more youths attempted to flee from the garage. Isaiah Bell and a second youth reportedly struggled with one of the officers as Bell and the second youth ran out of the garage, and Bell was accidentally shot in the chest during the struggle. Later, a 15 year-old nephew of Isaiah Bell's was arrested for being one of those youths who had also fled the garage. It was later learned that the youths were "stripping" a stolen vehicle which was parked inside.
A "racism" issue was quickly made of the accidental shooting. Lucille Bell demanded a formal inquest into the shooting of her youngest of five children. The Milwaukee branch of the NAACP called for the U.S. Department of Justice to review the police's shooting of the "unarmed teenager". The incident eventually received nationwide attention, with the police department, the police officers, the police officers' families, and just about every other city official having to apologize -- including the District Attorney, and even the Judge (whose selection the NAACP complained about because he was not A-A) who presided over the inquest which ruled the shooting to have been accidental.
Isaiah Bell received a Jehovah's Witness funeral at which even the media reported their surprise that little or no mention was made of the cause of nor events leading up to Ikey's death. Warren Dillon, an Elder from the Enderis Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, delivered the funeral sermon. Before/after the funeral, multiple friends and relatives expressed their opinion that Ikey was the last person they would have expected to have been involved with a stolen automobile, despite the fact that he already had a juvenile criminal record even prior to this incident.
JEHOVAH'S WITNESS GANGBANGER. When 16 year-old Crips gangbanger, Charles Everett Allison, of Aurora, Colorado, was shot and killed during a fight between warring factions of Denver's Crips, on August 24, 1993, he was then under investigation as the suspected shooter in the August 2, 1993, murder of a 27 year-old Denver female schoolteacher. A fellow Crips gangbanger later stated, "He told me he did it. He put it on the 'hood'. That's one step below saying it to God." Charles Allison's Jehovah's Witness Mother, named Eartha Smith, a/k/a "Moms", then 39, who quoted Bible verses to reporters, and who explained her faith that she would soon see her son resurrected to a paradise earth, stated: "My son was so loving. He was a good boy."
CALIFORNIA v. ERIC WAYNE BENNETT was a 1994-96 California capital murder and rape court case. In August 1996, Eric W. Bennett, by then age 25, was convicted of the October 1994 murder of Marie Powell Evans. Two special circumstances were found to be true that the murder was committed while engaged in the commission of rape and burglary. The jury also convicted Eric Bennett of several crimes related to the September 1994 assault of a second female, Pamela B., including forcible oral copulation, rape, first degree robbery within an inhabited dwelling, and first degree burglary of an inhabited dwelling. The jury found that Bennett used a knife when he committed the crimes against Pamela B. The jury returned a death verdict. The trial court sentenced defendant to death on the murder count and imposed and stayed a determinate term of 15 years four months for the crimes against Pamela B.
On September 27, 1994, at around 10:00 PM, Pamela B. was home alone watching television in the bedroom of her Costa Mesa apartment. Eric Bennett, Karen Bennett, and their two sons had moved into an apartment in an adjacent building only a few days earlier. Pamela B. observed Bennett approach her apartment, remove his shirt, and place it over his face. Bennett then forced open her latched screen door and robbed the woman at knifepoint. Despite promising not to harm her if she would give him all her money, Bennett thereafter assaulted and raped Pamela B. Afterwards, Pamela B. managed to run from her apartment. Eric Bennett chased after Pamela B., but she eventually reached help at an apartment which adjoined Bennett's own apartment. Bennett soon thereafter approached that apartment tenant and asked what was all the commotion about that had awakened him. When told that a resident had been raped, Bennett stated that such was terrible and left.
On September 27, 1994, the same day Eric Wayne Bennett assaulted Pamela B., he installed flooring at Marie Powell Evans' new townhouse in Laguna Hills. On October 14, 1994, 50 year old Marie Powell Evans did not show up for work. Thereafter, Evans' daughter and son-in-law discovered her semi-nude body at her ransacked townhouse. The autopsy showed Evans had suffered multiple major injuries. The autopsy determined Evans died as a result of bruising to her brain due to blunt force trauma. There were pattern marks on her face between the left eye and ear consistent with a blow from a heavy, patterned object. There were multiple skull fractures and tears in Evans's scalp. Her hands had skin breakage, lacerations, swelling and discoloration.
A sexual assault examination recovered sperm from Evans's anal, perianal, and perivaginal areas as well as her vagina.
A week or so later, Eric Bennett was arrested on some other unknown charge by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. While in custody, Bennett's blood was drawn by a nurse and his DNA was compared to DNA recovered from the two crime scenes and found to match. In a January 2009 California Supreme Court opinion, which denied one of Bennett's routine death penalty appeals, the following excerpts appeared:
The defense presented testimony about defendant's childhood. He was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, although he stopped attending church on a regular basis when he was a teenager and began using drugs. ...
... While he was in custody after his October 31 arrest, he returned to the Jehovah's Witness faith. Within weeks of his arrest, he confessed to his wife that he had killed Evans and raped Pamela B. and told her he wanted to plead guilty to spare those involved the pain of a trial. He cried and said he was sorry to her, their children, his parents, and the family of the victims. Defendant subsequently told his mother the same thing. He also expressed a desire to plead guilty to his attorneys but they, together with his family, sought to convince him to proceed to trial. Defendant's wife and her grandmother contacted James Waltz, an attorney and a Jehovah's Witness, and asked him to talk to defendant about whether to plead guilty. Defendant told Waltz that he wanted to plead guilty, but Waltz told defendant to cooperate with his attorneys. Rick Wentworth, an elder in the Jehovah's Witness church, testified that he had visited defendant in jail numerous times and that they had engaged in Bible study and talked about family. Jenk Janes, a Jehovah's Witness and recovering addict, testified he took defendant to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in August or September 1994. Janes testified that defendant sincerely desired to change his lifestyle and overcome his addiction to drugs.... ...
James Waltz, an attorney and a Jehovah's Witness, was called by the defense and testified on direct examination that he had been asked by defendant's wife's grandmother to speak with defendant in jail regarding a disagreement between defendant and his attorneys over whether defendant should plead guilty. Waltz testified that he advised defendant of the legal and religious aspects of going to trial, ultimately recommending that defendant cooperate with his attorneys.
On cross-examination, Waltz acknowledged that he knew defendant had been charged with a capital crime when he went to meet with him. He also testified that he was a devout member of the Jehovah's Witness church. The prosecutor then asked a series of questions about whether Waltz was personally opposed to the death penalty. ... In response to a question asking whether he would ever vote for the death penalty?, Waltz answered "No." The prosecutor continued, "And its that, in part, your Jehovah Witness connection with the defendant and your opposition to the death penalty, aren't those really the reasons why, to which Waltz responded, I'm not opposed to the death penalty. The prosecutor followed up, You just personally would never vote for it. Is that right? and Waltz answered, "Correct."... ...
...during the prosecutor's cross-examination of Jenks Janes, a Jehovah's Witness and recovering addict who testified on direct examination that he took defendant to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in August or September 1994. On cross-examination, Janes testified that defendant wanted to go to the meeting because he wanted to turn his life around and that Janes believed defendant to be sincere. The prosecutor then asked whether defendant had expressed any other reason for going to the meeting and whether defendant had told Janes that he had been ordered to attend such meetings. Janes answered "no" to both questions. ...
At sidebar, the prosecutor said she had a certified copy of a court order, dated October 11, 1994, requiring defendant to attend two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings per week. ... The prosecutor said defendant had been arrested for driving under the influence in August 1994 and one could infer he had a motive for attending the meetings other than turning his life around. ...
TEXAS v. MICHAEL LEE HUFF and HUFF v. WILLIAMS were related 1990s Texas criminal and civil court cases which involved a Jehovah's Witness, named Michael Huff, of Tarrant County, Texas who served both jail and prison time. The fact that Michael L. Huff was a Jehovah's Witness, who wanted to lead JW meetings at Tarrant County Jail, while he was incarcerated as a pre-trial detainee, would seem to indicate that Huff was a JW at the time of his arrest. It was Huff's letter to the ACLU, in 1993, complaining that Jehovah's Witnesses were being labeled as a CULT, that got the highly publicized "GOD POD" lawsuit rolling. Evidently, Huff was insulted by being labeled a "cult member", but he was not insulted by being labeled a "convicted felon". Pertinent excerpts:
[Michael L.] Huff, a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses religion, alleges that Sheriff Williams violated the Free Exercise Clause by his refusal to provide an opportunity for Huff to participate in group discussion and instruction in his faith. Huff contends that, in comparison to participation in the CEU, the "limited opportunities for religious expression" in which he may visit with a minister of his faith in the regular security booth of the jail "denies the free exercise of religion to all jail prisoners except those who happen to be Christians who believe in the Holy Trinity." We agree with Sheriff Williams that the accommodations presently made to Huff for the practice of his religion are, as a matter of law, sufficient. ... ...
Tarrant County presented uncontroverted summary judgment evidence showing that Huff is allowed to meet with ministers of his faith in the TCCC, and upon request, the meetings would be permitted to take place face-to-face rather than within the jail security booth. In addition, Huff has access to many books received from Jehovah's Witnesses in the lending library maintained in the chaplain's office and has the option to enroll in a correspondence course in his faith.
This evidence conclusively establishes that Tarrant County's denial of group worship to Jehovah's Witnesses in a CEU-type unit does not have the necessary volunteer or inmate support, and accommodating Huff's wish would require Tarrant County to fund the program, which is not permissible. Tarrant County further established, as a matter of law, that its interest in efficient use of its facilities and personnel, as well as its desire to minimize group inmate situations that might compromise internal security, justify disallowing Huff the opportunity to lead his own group study and justify not providing space for sporadic group instruction.
KANSAS v. MICHAEL W. NANCE, KANSAS v. MICHAEL W. NANCE, and GEORGIA v. MICHAEL W. NANCEwere criminal convictions of Michael W. Nance, who was reared as one of Jehovah's Witnesses by a JW Mother. Georgia trial testimony indicated that as a child that Michael Nance had been ostracized at school due to his WatchTower Cult beliefs and practices. Michael Nance's first fiancee, whom also was one of Jehovah's Witnesses, testified that Michael Nance and she had met as fellow Jehovah's Witnesses in 1977, when Michael Nance was 16 years-old. They later became engaged, but JW Fiancee canceled their planned 1980 wedding after Michael Nance got into unspecified trouble.
Thereafter, at some unknown time, Michael W. Nance was convicted in Kansas on charges of burglary and theft. In 1984, Michael Nance was convicted in Kansas for an armed robbery. In Georgia, in September 1993, Michael W. Nance successfully robbed an unidentified Gwinnett County bank. In December 1993, Michael W. Nance stole a car, robbed the Tucker Federal Bank (also in Gwinnett County, Georgia), shot and killed the driver of a second car that Nance attempted to car-jack, shot at but missed an observer, and eventually surrendered after a police stand-off.
In 1997, Michael W. Nance was convicted of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, theft by taking, criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and he was sentenced to death for the malice murder. Micahel Nance's death sentence was still going throught the routine appeals in 2013.
IOWA v. OTIS PENELTON was a 1993 Iowa murder court case. On Friday night, March 19, 1993, at around 11:00 PM, 20 year-old Otis Penelton, and three friends, went to the Iowa City mobile home of a drug dealer, with whom one of Penelton's friends had a beef over a drug debt. Once there, a confrontation erupted with the four men banging on the doors and windows of the mobile home, and breaking one or more windows. When an 18 year-old occupant of the mobile home finally opened the front door, one of Penelton's friends shot and killed him. The murder weapon was a .32 revolver owned by Penelton, but loaned to the shooter prior to arriving at the scene. All four men were charged with first degree murder. Otis Penelton's Jehovah's Witness Mother, Helen Miller, of University Park, told reporters that her son had no idea that anyone was going to get hurt that evening, despite his bringing along one of the two weapons possessed by the four culprits. Unable to make bail, Helen Miller stated that her son was using his time in jail to turn to Bible study (aka WatchTower Study). In August 1993, Penelton, who already had a criminal record, and one other of the four criminals cut a deal with the prosecution to testify against the other two. Penelton eventually pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, being an accessory after the fact, and carrying a concealed weapon. Penelton was sentenced to no more than 9 years in prison.
IOWA v. OTIS PENELTON, ETC., ETC., ETC. Evidently, Otis Penelton did not continue to use his prison time for "WatchTower study", and he evidently did less than four years in prison, because in September 1997, he was arrested for an assault. In January 1998, he was arrested for domestic battery. In November 2000, somebody put seven bullet holes in his car while parked outside his residence. In December 2002, he was arrested on an unknown charge. In January 2003, he was charged with assault and other charges which may have resulted in prison time given that no further arrests can be located.
FLORIDA v. LAWRENCE E. SMITH was a 1991-2 Florida armed robbery court decision. Just after midnight, on November 22, 1991, Lawrence E. Smith, 34, "stuck-up" at gunpoint a Subway sandwich shop in Crystal River, Florida, and robbed an employee of $102.00. In January 1998, Lawrence Smith, who only had a prior drunken-driving conviction, accepted a plea bargain, and was sentenced to 4 years in prison. Unbelievably, because Florida's prisons were overcrowded, Larry Smith was released only 3 months later, on April 28, 1992.
FLORIDA v. LAWRENCE E. SMITH. Only two weeks later, on May 14, 1992, Lawrence E. Smith was arrested and eventually charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon for the shooting of Roger Willis, 34. Lawrence Smith reportedly attended the Crystal River Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses with his wife and two daughters. It is possible that one or more of the following persons may have also been JWs. Reportedly, sometime before midnight, on Thursday night, May 14, 1992, Roger Willis ate a late dinner "with fellow church members", and thereafter took a stroll -- supposedly to a nearby convenience store. Not long thereafter, Willis was accosted/confronted by Lawrence Smith and another unidentified man, one or both of whom were known by Roger Willis, and Willis was shot in the back with a .22 handgun by one or the other men. Lawrence E. Smith claimed that he was not the shooter, and Willis claimed that he had not approached Wilson's home. Reportedly, Roger Willis and a Patricia Wilson had recently ended a relationship, and both parties had sought restraining orders against the other due to alleged physical attacks and property damage. Roger Willis and Patricia Wilson somehow knew Lawrence Smith, and apparently the unidentified fourth man, given that Smith claimed that he and the unidentified fourth man confronted Smith that evening, around midnight, as Willis allegedly approached Wilson's house. The question remains as to how Smith, Wilson, and the unidentified fourth man, would have known that Willis would have been anywhere near Wilson's home that night, at that time, unless all those people shared some common denominator that evening??? In July 1992, Lawrence E. Smith again accepted a plea deal, in which the battery charge was dropped, and in which he pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon. Larry Smith was sentenced to to 30 months in prison, plus 12 months for violating the terms of his earlier probation.
FLORIDA v. LAWRENCE E. SMITH and FLORIDA v. LAWRENCE E. SMITH. Larry Smith was sentenced to 2 years in prison for cocaine possession in 2001. Larry Smith was sentenced to 30 months in prison for resisting arrest in 2010. Last release was 2014.
FLORIDA v. ALVIN LEROY MORTON was a 1992-9 Florida murder court decision. In January 1992, 19 year-old Alvin Leroy Morton led a group of 2-3 younger teenagers in a home invasion robbery in which the occupants of the home were also murdered. Alvin Morton was convicted of robbery and first degree murder, and was given the death penalty. On appeal, the sentence was overturned in 1997 by the Florida Supreme Court, but Morton was again given the death penalty in 1999 at the second sentencing hearing. Routine appeals continued thereafter.
On Super Bowl Sunday night, January 27, 1992, Alvin Leroy Morton talked a group of four other teenagers into helping him carry out a home invasion robbery and murder, which he had repeatedly talked about prior to that night. Morton reportedly had boasted for several months that he wanted to kill someone, and he eventually picked his target -- an elderly 75 year-old woman, and the 55 year-old son who lived with her.
Late that evening, Morton and a 17 year-old accomplice, a 16 year-old accomplice, a 14 year-old accomplice, and another teen went to the victim's home. Some of the teens later claimed that they thought that they were only going to rob the couple. One teen abandoned the group before arriving at the scene, and the 16 year-old accomplice abandoned the group after Morton kicked in the front door. After entering the residence, and surprising the two occupants, Alvin Morton shot the 55 year-old son in the back of the head/neck using the sawed-off shotgun that he had brought along. Morton then murdered the 75 year-old mother by stabbing her in the back of the head with a hunting knife. The teens set a couple of fires in two bedrooms in a failed attempt to destroy the crime scene. Before leaving, Alvin Morton cut off and took the right pinkie finger of the son as proof that he had committed the murder.
During the trial and sentencing hearings, Alvin Morton's mother, Barbara Morton Stacy, and his younger sister, Angela Morton White, attempted to mitigate his actions by testifying that his natural father, Virgil Morton, was an alcoholic who had severely abused both children physically, emotionally, and even sexually. Defense experts testified that Morton suffered from antisocial personality and several other mental disorders/disease.
Barbara Morton was a Jehovah's Witness, who instilled religious values in her children when Virgil Morton was not at home. The couple separated when Alvin was 8 years-old, and divorced a year later. Barbara Morton remarried Melvin Stacy five years later, when Alvin was 13 years-old. Melvin Stacy was described glowingly as the ideal husband to Barbara Morton Stacy, and the ideal step-father to her two children, thus he probably a Jehovah's Witness given that JWs are counseled to marry only fellow JWs. However, Alvin Morton progressively displayed many problems in his youth, including setting fire to a neighborhood trailer, and killing small animals. Later, in their teen years, Alvin and Angela once stole the family auto. Alvin was allowed to quit high school after he turned 16, but he would not keep nor seek jobs. Alvin laid around the house playing games, watching television, and hanging out with teens younger than himself.
JW HIGH SPEED CHASE TRAGEDY. In May 1992, a 23 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named John Andrew Mark Cakalic, was driving through/near a shopping center in his hometown of St. Peters, Missouri, at around 11:35 PM, when a traffic officer attempted to stop John Cakalic for careless and imprudent driving. Rather than stopping for the officer, Cakalic sped away, and a high-speed chase ensued. It ended when Cakalic crashed broadside into a vehicle driven by Timothy Wessel, also of St. Peters. Wessel was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph Hospital in St. Charles with a broken leg and collarbone. Wessel's outcome unknown. Cakalic supposedly died at the scene.
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