$$$ JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES FINANCIAL COURT CASES $$$
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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.
1951 YEARBOOK EXPERIENCE -- NOT
DETERMINED FLORIDA JEHOVAH'S WITNESS ATTENDS
FIRST EVER INTERNATIONAL WATCHTOWER CONVENTION AT YANKEE STADIUM
FLORIDA v. JOSEPH ANTHONY RAKE was a 1950 Florida criminal prosecution of then 19 year-old Jehovah's Witness Joseph A. Rake, of Fort Pierce, Florida, for ARMED ROBBERY. On Friday, July 28, 1950, on his way out of Fort Pierce to travel to the very first WatchTower International Convention to be held at Yankee Stadium, which opened on Sunday, July 30, 1950, Joseph A. Rake apparently needed money to attend this WatchTower Convention, so Rake stopped to "stick-up" a Fort Pierce gasoline station -- robbing the owner of $87.00. Joseph Rake was arrested four days later at the large WatchTower Society Trailer and Tent City set up outside NYC in New Market, New Jersey. Joe Rake confessed to the armed robbery. Outcome of prosecution unknown, but Rake was out and about in 1953. Joseph Rake died in 2005, and as an "exemplary" Jehovah's Witness received a Kingdom Hall funeral at the Lakeland Florida Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Readers should slow down and mull over this real-world "experience". In 1950, Fort Pierce was not that large of a town. Apparently, the door-knocking Joe Rake was not worried about being recognized by the robbery victim, nor worried about having to return to live in Fort Pierce, nor worried about having to suffer repercussions for the robbery. Apparently, "someone" had so convinced this 19 year-old Jehovah's Witness of the necessity of his being at the first-ever WatchTower International Convention in NYC that this Jehovah's Witness believed that committing ARMED ROBBERY was acceptable, and possibly unpunishable. We were not alive in 1950, but we suspect that the apocalyptic WatchTower Society had convinced its membership via its typical "insinuation" method that "Jehovah" was gathering together his people in NYC (location of WatchTower World HQ) to protect them at the start of "Armageddon", simply to ensure a large attendance that would be fawned over by NYC media coverage, which would be repeated worldwide.
UNITED STATES v. CLAUDE M. DILLINGS JR was a 1943? North Carolina federal DRAFT DODGER prosecution of a Jehovah's Witness named Claude M. Dillings, Jr. Claude Dillings Jr served 17 of his 24 months sentence at a conscientious objector camp.
KANSAS v. RONALD ALANE CALDWELL was a 1992 Kansas murder court decision. In December 1992, then 26 year-old Ronnie Alane Caldwell plea bargained "guilty" to the July 1992 murder of 24 year-old Jeffrey Len Holly, also of Lawrence, Kansas. Ronnie A. Caldwell was a Lawrence firefighter, who had been a star football player for the University of Kansas during the late 1980s.
In the early AM hours of Wednesday, July 29, 1992, Ronnie Caldwell, who was under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol, and who was accompanied by another former KU football player, Rodney Harris, 26, went to the residence of Keith Harris, a former KU basketball player, in order to purchase crack cocaine. At Harris's residence was Jeff Holly, who Caldwell believed had cheated him in an earlier drug deal. Caldwell decided that he would kill Holly, so Caldwell lured Holly into leaving with Caldwell and Harris. Shortly after driving away, Caldwell stopped his car, and lured Holly out. Caldwell then pulled Harris' .357 magnum revolver, and shot Holly five times in the chest, back, and face.
Ronnie Caldwell had been reared as a Jehovah's Witness in a Wichita, Kansas, Jehovah's Witness family, but had never been baptized. After his arrest, local Lawrence JWs conducted "Bible studies" with Caldwell five times per week, so that Caldwell could get baptized ASAP, which occurred at the jail in December 1992. Caldwell insisted that his baptism was not a "front" to sway the judge. Caldwell said that he had been flirting with the idea of getting baptized as a JW since childhood. Caldwell said that he had now devoted his life to spreading Jehovah's message. "I thought when I got here [jail] that my life was over. But now, I feel like it's just beginning. And in a lot of ways, this is the best place for me to be. People in here need hope, and this is the best kind of hope you can have." Caldwell said he had found true friendship through Jehovah, adding that JWs had come to his jail cell five times a week for Bible study. "After I came in here, I found that the people I thought were my friends weren't my friends. The ones who are truly your friends will come day in, day out. I'm never alone."
Also, in December 1992, despite the fact that Rodney Harris was going to testify for the prosecution, and that Caldwell had given a confession, the prosecutor offered Ronnie Caldwell a plea deal, which Caldwell jumped at. Caldwell received a life sentence, but with only a 15 year minimum before being eligible for parole, instead of the 40 year minimum that he should have received. Caldwell's first parole hearing was in 2007. Outcome unknown. At the sentencing, Caldwell stated, "I accept the consequences of that. I pray for Jeff and his family, and I hope that one day I may have to opportunity to see him again in Jehovah's kingdom and express that to him."
KANSAS v. RONNIE ALANE CALDWELL. On June 4, 1992, Ronnie Caldwell was arrested and charged with battery, endangering a child, and other misdemeanors, after a fight with his wife, Angela Caldwell.
MISSOURI v. MARK JACKSON and MISSOURI v. MARK JACKSON were related 1991 criminal court cases. In late April 1991, 20 year-old Mark Jackson, who was a red-shirt freshman running back on the University of Missouri's football team, was arrested in the early AM hours of a Saturday morning during a street brawl outside a Columbia bar, along with two other teammates. Jackson eventually pled guilty to two counts of third degree assault, and received a $400.00 fine.
Approximately one month later, in late May 1991, Mark Jackson and another teammate were arrested for the burglary of two apartments, and stealing a stereo from a car, after police found the stolen property in and under the car they were burglarizing. Jackson pled guilty to one count of first degree burglary and one count of felony stealing. In December 1991, Jackson received a sentence of 5 years probation. Jackson apparently re-joined Mizzou's football team in time for spring practice in 1992, but his father's death, in March 1992, led Jackson to consider dropping out of school so that he could be with his mother, Bettye Jackson, back in his hometown of Kirkwood, Missouri, who reportedly had already been battling depression caused by her son's legal troubles. In April 1992, a reporter quoted Jackson as saying that following all his legal problems in 1991, he spent days doubting his sanity, followed by weeks of shame, and then months of reflection and emotional rehabilitation. ''My mother always told me, 'You reap what you sow'. And the reaping sometimes can be worse than the sowing.''
Jackson played the 1992-3 season, but just prior to the start of the 1993-4 season, in August 1993, the day after Mark Jackson was notified that he was the team's starting tailback, Mark Jackson told the coach that he was quitting the football team because playing football conflicted with his beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness -- a matter he evidently had been pondering since his father's death, probably due to lobbying from his JW Mother. Details are incomplete, but it was later ruled that Jackson was still entitled to the benefits provided by his football scholarship, which possibly meant that Jackson had pursued such so that he still could complete his college education on the university's dime.
ANTONIO WHITFIELD ROBBERY. On March 20, 1991, 15 year-old Antonio Whitfield, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was shot in the head three times and died after he and two other youths attempted to rob another 15 year-old youth of the goose down jacket that he was wearing. Tony Whitfield's Jehovah's Witness Mother told reporters, "Why would he want to take somebody's coat," as she insisted that her son had no reason to steal a coat, because she had bought him one recently. "I don't know what went on in those streets last night, but my son was all right by me." Margaret Whitfield further insisted that Tony and his friends were not out to harm anyone or anything, but rather had been out filling out job applications at fast food restaurants. Although Antonio Whitfield had been reared as a Jehovah's Witness, he had recently stopped attending meetings, although his JW Aunt told reporters that Tony had recently told her that he was ready to start back attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall.
FLORIDA v. RODNEY LOWE was a 1991 Florida murder court case. In April 1991, Rodney Lowe was convicted of the robbery and murder of a convenience store clerk. Lowe received the death penalty. During the penalty phase of the trial, several people testified on Lowe's behalf, including a prison school principal, a former employer, a prison minister, and Lowe's aunt, who testified that Lowe's father had converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses when Lowe was a teenager, and that due to the WatchTower beliefs which the father attempted to impose on Lowe, Lowe rebelled and lived an abnormal teenage life. Lowe's JW Father then testified for the Prosecution. The father stated that the aunt did not have sufficient contact with his family to make such an assessment. The Father stated that yes, he had been a strict disciplinarian, but that he did not think that his religion caused his son to rob and murder the store clerk. Lowe's JW Father further stated that he would never speak to Lowe again.
WASHINGTON v. JAMES LEROY BRETT was a 1991-2001 Washington state murder court decision. James Leroy Brett was convicted by a jury of aggravated first degree murder and first degree felony murder, and was given the death penalty by that same jury. In 1995, the Washington State Supreme Court overturned the death penalty sentence due to the failure of Brett's attorney to investigate and use expert testimony regarding Brett's various physical and mental disabilities, including but not limited to fetal alcohol syndrome, bi-polar disorder, and a rare form of diabetes which could have psychiatric consequences. Rather than take a chance on again receiving the death penalty, in 2001, Brett pleaded guilty to aggravated first degree murder in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.
In December 1991, then 21 year-old James L. Brett was living in Longview, Washington, with his girlfriend, Shirley Martin. Shirley Martin was receiving welfare benefits for herself and a child, and James Brett was attempting to obtain Social Security benefits. In need of money, Brett and Martin conspired to do a home invasion robbery. On December 3, 1991, Brett and Martin drove to Vancouver, Washington. After drinking and smoking marijuana for several hours, while waiting for it to get late, they located an upscale neighborhood, and then randomly picked the home of Kenneth Milosevich. At around 11:00 PM, Martin knocked on the Milosevich's front door as Brett stood off to the side and out of view. When Kenneth Milosevich eventually answered the knocking, Martin told him that she was having car trouble. As Milosevich unlocked the door, Brett and Martin forced their way into the home. Brett held a sawed-off shotgun on Kenneth Milosevich, while Martin restrained his wife with a knife.
However, the Milosevich's home security system had activated when the front door was forced open, and when the Milosevichs failed to answer their telephone, ADT notified the local police. In the meantime, Kenneth Milosevich supposedly attempted to fight back as Martin threatened his wife with the knife, and Brett shot him in the chest with the single-shot shotgun. Mrs. Milosevich was able to flee her home in the confusion, but Brett then executed Kenneth Milosevich, as he begged for his life, by shooting him in the back of the head at close range. Brett and Martin then fled the scene without taking anything from the Milosevich's home. Brett and Martin the drove back to Longview, Washington, to the home of Brett's mother, Sherry Brett, where he confessed to the murder. Brett also told his sister, Rhonda Camba, that he had "killed somebody", although he had just intended to rob them. Brett and Martin were arrested and charged with the murder a week later.
During the penalty phase of the first trial, Sherry Brett testified for the defense that her son would have spells of depression, and would become violent and self-destructive. On cross exam, the prosecutor followed up on this line of questioning, and inquired about James Brett's "fatalistic attitude about life", and James' belief that "the end of the world" would occur with 15 years. On re-direct, Sherry Brett stated that her son's fatalistic belief was one of the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses, of which she and her son were followers.
JW TEENS KILLED IN JOY RIDE. In May 1990, in what has the appearance of "different rules for different schools", two Jehovah's Witnesses Minors, Marco D. Martinez, 17, and his brother, David D. Martinez, 16, were killed during an illicit "joy ride" during school hours. Incomplete details. The Martinez brothers, who reportedly were on the wrestling team at San Clemente High School, were attending "Saturday classes", when they and three other students "convinced" a sixth student to give them the keys to the 1988 Jaguar that he drove to school that day, so the five supposedly could sit in the Jag and listen to the radio. Instead, they went for a high-speed joy-ride that ended in a terrible crash that killed both JWs instantly, and a third friend later, and injured the driver and the fifth friend. Elder Grant Sad, of the National City Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, which was the Kingdom Hall attended by the Martinez, conducted the joint funeral service covered by much news media.
PENNSYLVANIA v. MELVIN TROY WILLIAMS was a 1990 Pennsylvania murder court decision. Limited, incomplete details. Labeled a "One Man Killing Machine" by prosecutors, Melvin Troy Williams, 22, a reputed North Philadelphia drug boss, who had been accused of killing four people in nine days in March 1989, was sentenced to the death penalty after an October 1990 trial for one of the four alleged murders and robbery, and after previously pleading "guilty" to the other three murders and robbery. In 2000, Williams was re-sentenced to life imprisonment due to the following.
The reason Williams is believed to have been reared in the WatchTower religion is due to a reference by Williams himself that his mother was a devoted Jehovah's Witness. After Williams conviction, it came to light that the investigating police officers had attempted to frame Williams' mother with a crime in an attempt to force her to provide evidence and/or testimony against her son. She was arrested and re-arrested, but apparently was never convicted of the false charges.
ALLENE GATES v. RIVERA was a 1989-93 California federal appellate court decision. An African-American Jehovah's Witness Mother, named Allene Gates, brought a federal "civil rights" lawsuit against the police officer who was forced to shoot and kill her son, Marvin McGensey, in 1989. The first USDC jury trial ended in a mistrial, but a second federal jury ruled in favor of the police officer, and the USCA affirmed.
On Sunday, February 6, 1989, an off-duty Santa Ana Police Officer, named John Rivera, was house-hunting in Riverside, California, along with his wife, Susan Rivera, when Rivera observed Marvin McGensey jump over a wall protecting a condominium complex. McGensey crouched, looked around, and then climbed over a second wall into a second condominium complex. Rivera thought a burglary was in progress and decided to investigate. The Riveras entered the second condominium complex. Rivera got out of the car and encountered a resident coming out of his condominium. In an excited state, that resident told Rivera that someone had just tried to break into his residence by prying open the door to his backyard. The resident described the perpetrator as "black", and as carrying what could either be a pipe or a weapon.
Rivera then told the resident to call the police. Leaving his wife and their car where they were, Rivera went to a nearby street intersection outside the complex to await the responding officers. After a fifteen minute wait, during which no officers appeared, Rivera started back towards the condominium complex. Before he reached it he saw Marvin McGensey on top of a wall. Rivera, who already had his badge out, then drew his service revolver from an ankle holster, pointed it at McGensey, and told him, "Hold it. You aren't going anywhere." McGensey hesitated a moment, and then jumped down behind the wall out of Rivera's sight.
Rivera returned to the intersection to look for responding police, but none appeared. Rivera then went over to and began to climb a wooden fence to get a view of the whole condominium complex. As Rivera climbed the fence, he was surprised to find McGensey already on the top of the fence. Rivera told him that he was a police officer and to hold it. McGensey said, "I ain't done nothing," and repeated variations of this disclaimer, disregarding Rivera's command to climb down. Instead, he climbed higher. Rivera thought he was getting ready to attack him and said, "Don't do it. Don't be stupid. Get off the wall." McGensey who by then had reached the top of the wall lept down on Rivera. McGensey's left hand reached for Rivera's gun, his right hand went to Rivera's neck. Rivera prevented him from seizing the gun by pulling back from the wall. Both men fell to the ground, then both rose. Rivera told McGensey that he had done a very stupid thing, that he could have been shot. McGensey again said that he had done nothing. Rivera told him to put his hands behind his back and lie on the ground. McGensey continued to stand, moved his hands underneath his shirt by his pockets, and took a step toward Rivera, who again warned McGensey, "Don't do it. Just don't to it." McGensey's right hand went into his pants pocket. A moment later, Rivera was hit in the chest by a cigarette lighter which McGensey had hurled at him. Rivera testified that McGensey's hand again went into one of his pockets, and believing that McGensey was drawing a gun, Rivera discharged his weapon and killed McGensey. In Rivera's over 16 years as a police officer, that was the first time he had ever fired his weapon at anyone.
Testimony indicated that Marvin McGensey, age unknown, suffered from manic depression with suicidal tendencies, and from a form of schizophrenia, as well as a cocaine dependency. He had not been employed since 1984. In 1988, Allene Gates had succeeded in getting her son into Sunrise Gardens Guest Home, a Riverside facility for the mentally retarded. She visited every few weeks, and would take McGensey visiting, shopping, to the movies, and occasionally to meetings at a local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
PENNSYLVANIA v. WILLIAM YARBOUGH was a 1987-90 Pennsylvania murder court decision. During the evening of December 3/4, 1987, 20 year-old William Yarbough, who had been reared as a Jehovah's Witness by his JW Mother, Arlene Yarbough, was busy burglarizing the suburban Pittsburgh home of Dr. Jeffrey Farkas, when Farkas interrupted the burglary by waking up to use the restroom. Instead of recognizing what Farkas was doing, and leaving, or waiting for Farkas to go back to sleep, Yarbough attacked Farkas in the second floor bathroom.
The Children's Hospital intern was found dead in the bathtub around 4:00 AM by another doctor who had returned home from work to the shared rental. The house had been ransacked and burglarized, and Farkas' auto had been stolen. The cause of death was hard to determine due to the extremely brutal attack. Farkas suffered multiple stab wounds to his head and neck. Farkas also had been beaten in the head with a fireplace iron. Farkas also had been strangled with a vacuum cleaner cord. All of this suggests the possibilty that William Yarbough interspersed the ransacking of the house with returning to do additional damage to Farkas to make certain that Farkas was dead.
Yarbough was arrested two years later while he was working as a cook at a restaurant only three blocks from Farkas' house, and he quickly confessed. However, he later alleged that the police had beaten him to obtain the confession, and Yarbough eventually pleaded "not guilty". In December 1990, Yarbough was convicted of first-degree murder, but during the penalty phase of the trial, witnesses testified as to Yarbough's tough childhood, and his good work history, and the jury declined to sentence Yarbough to the death penalty. Yarbough received the alternative -- life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
ARIZONA v. RICHARD HARLEY GREENWAY is an ongoing 1987-2011 Arizona DEATH PENALTY case. In March 1988, then 19 year-old Richard H. Greenway, and an accomplice invaded an affluent Pima County neighborhood home belonging to Lili Champagne. After taking certain items, including the keys to a Porsche, Richard Greenway shot the homeowner and her 17 year-old daughter in their heads multiple times.
Richard Greenway had been reared in a Jehovah's Witness family. However, Richard was learning disabled, and such drew the ire of his JW Father and older brother, who each tormented Richard for his deficiencies. At trial, Greenway's JW Mother and sister testified that the father beat Richard with belts and fists when Richard was growing up. Richard had ran away from home at least once in an attempt to escape the abuse.
TEXAS v. SAMMY LEE CLOUD was a 1991 Texas court decision. Limited details. Labeled the "Galleria Rapist", Sammy Lee Cloud, Jr., 36, was convicted in November 1991 of robbing and raping three women in their own apartments. (One can't help but wonder if Cloud located his potential victims while performing "field service".) Cloud was given the maximum sentence -- two life sentences for sexual assault, 60 years for burglary with the intent to commit rape, and 25 years for possession of a firearm by a parolee.
The details are incomplete, but Cloud may have had mental issues. Cloud would not admit to committing the crimes, because he apparently claimed to not remember committing them. Cloud's public defender curiously allowed him to plead "no contest". Cloud's attorney evidently had a hard time dealing with Cloud given that the attorney later told a reporter that all Cloud wanted to talk about was converting him to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Cloud even stated:
"I realize the inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up. That is a problem, and it is intensified by the fact we live in a world that does not follow Bible principles. My problems afflicting me are direct results of not following the counsel of God's word."
Cloud started committing the attacks, and was suspected of many more such assaults and burglaries -- between November 1990 and when he arrested in February 1991-- only one week after being paroled from his third prison term.
Interestingly, each of the three victims who picked Cloud out of a lineup, and later testified against him, were apparently extremely traumatized -- even more so than most females who suffer through such ordeals. All three were reportedly undergoing psychiatric treatment. I get the feeling that Cloud committed these rapes much as did Robert Biddings below -- preaching the Bible all the while.
OHIO v. ROBERT BIDDINGS and OHIO v. ROBERT BIDDINGS were related Serial Rape 1988-9 Ohio court decisions. Labeled "The Worst Serial Rapist in Ohio History", a "devout" African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Robert Biddings, continues to be mentioned, as recently as May 2008, as a suspect in even more unsolved assaults from the 1980s.
Dubbed "The Handcuff Rapist", in May 1989, Robert Biddings, 38, was convicted in Columbus, Ohio, of 40 counts of rape, kidnapping and aggravated robbery for raping 13 girls and women between 1984 and 1988. Biddings also pleaded guilty in 1989, in Cincinnati, to 73 additional counts involving another 16 girls and women. Biddings was sentenced to life plus 2,715 years. Reared in Akron, Ohio, Biddings had been convicted of rape there in 1972, when he was only 19 years-old. Biddings was paroled after serving 11 years in prison.
In 1989, prosecutors said Biddings was among the most sadistic of rapists. His victims were usually abducted from parking lots, streets and bus stops. Most victims were raped more than once and all were threatened with death. Biddings typically taunted his victims with a gun or knife. Some of his victims were handcuffed to trees. Others were dragged to a deserted shack along railroad tracks. One woman was held captive up to 13 hours in a hole in the ground.
In contrast, Biddings' attorney described Robert Biddings as a "devout" Jehovah's Witness who attended his local Kingdom Hall several times per week. Biddings' sister testified to same, and added that Biddings also studied his Bible constantly. During the 1989 Columbus trial, one of Biddings' victims even testified that after raping her twice, Biddings then "chatted about religion" even as he held her at gunpoint.
Biddings' attorney even attempted to prevent the taking of a blood sample from Biddings, which were intended for DNA testing and comparison to samples taken from victims, using the argument that such violated Biddings' constitutionally protected "freedom of religion" -- a tired argument that has repeatedly been a loser in multiple states' courts. The Ohio Court of Appeals ruled:
"Where the defendant in a criminal case claims that the taking of a blood sample from his person for DNA testing would violate his personal religious beliefs, he may, nevertheless, be ordered to provide a blood sample when the state has a compelling and paramount interest to have the results of the DNA tests."
CALIFORNIA v. RODNEY KING was a 1989 California court decision. In November 1989, Rodney Glen King attempted to rob a Monterey Park, California, Korean grocery store, but failed. Rodney King first purchased a pack of gum, but then pulled out a tire iron and demanded that the owner, Tae Suk Baik, open the cash register. The Korean instead grabbed King, and began beating him with a wood pole. King fled. Rodney King was arrested ten days later, and quickly plea bargained to a two year prison sentence. King was paroled on December 27, 1990.
CALIFORNIA v. RODNEY KING. On March 3, 1991, Rodney King, then age 25, became an international celebrity as "The Symbol of Police Brutality".
CALIFORNIA v. RODNEY KING. Unfortunately, King has had several more run-ins with the law since 1991. Such are easily found posted on the internet.
Rodney King had been reared as a Jehovah's Witness by devout Jehovah's Witness Parents, Ronald King and Odessa King, in Altadena, an LA suburb. Odessa King even professes to be "one of the anointed", or "one of the 144,000", which is an elite JW, who the WatchTower Society teaches will rule with Christ during his millennial reign.
UNITED STATES v. LONDON WILLIAMS was a 1989-90 Massachusetts federal firearms court decision. Limited details. In February 1990, 19 year-old London Williams, of Roxbury, Massachusetts, pleaded "guilty", along with six other members of the Castlegate street gang, to federal firearms charges relating to the "smuggling" of guns from Georgia to Massachusetts on four occasions. Williams received a sentence of 16 months without parole, and three years supervised release.
Williams' Jehovah's Witness Mother, and his Jehovah's Witness Aunt, both testified on his behalf at a 1989 bail hearing, and "ensured" that if released on bail, he would not commit any more crimes. The JW Aunt, named Margaret Hawkins, stated that her nephew had been "really trying to make a change in his life", which in JW-ese meant that London Williams recently had been reading WatchTower literature, and/or attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall.
MASSACHUSETTS v. LONDON WILLIAMS was a 1992-3 Massachusetts criminal court decision. In November 1992, 22 year-old London Williams, who after serving the federal wrist-slap was running with the Hornets gang, chased a rival onto a MBTA bus and stabbed him. Williams was convicted and sentenced to 6-10 years in prison.
NEW YORK v. ANDRE SUKRAM was a 1988-9 New York criminal court case (there was probably also a related civil court case.) Sometime prior to January 1989 (possibly even earlier than 1988), a 20 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Andre Sukram, was allegedly involved in an "at-fault" automobile accident somewhere in Nassau County, New York, wherein the innocent driver of the other vehicle was injured.
Andre Sukram purportedly fled the scene of the accident on foot, alone. Sukram left his father, who Sukram later stated had been "too drunk to drive", in the wrecked vehicle. Police eventually located Andre Sukram at a nearby hospital, where he admitted to being the driver of the vehicle, and supposedly that he had had only "a beer" in Brooklyn prior to operating that vehicle. The State Trooper had properly provided both Miranda and Vehicle and Traffic Law "refusal" warnings, and would have requested Sukram's submission to a breathalyser test but-for the fact that the two-hour time limit was about to expire, and a test kit was not accessible in time.
When Sukram was asked to submit to a blood-alcohol test, both Sukram and his Jehovah's Witness Mother, who had arrived at the hospital (possibly because the father had also been admitted), refused to cooperate -- allegedly because the giving of a blood sample was against their WatchTower beliefs. Because of Sukram's refusal to submit to the blood-alcohol test, his driver's license was subsequently revoked.
During the subsequent criminal trial, Sukram alleged that the statutory mandated revocation of his driver's license, plus the use of his refusal to be tested, as well as the revocation itself, as evidence against him in the criminal trial considering the traffic violations, all were unconstitutional violations of his constitutionally protected right of free exercise of religion.
The trial court ruled against Andre Sukram, stating in part:
"Although this court always believed the Jehovah['s Witness] creed only prevented accepting of foreign blood, I shall assume arguendo that the statement [that "giving up" a blood sample is also prohibited] is in conformity with that creed, or some division of it, for purpose of this discussion. ... ...
"The revocation of the defendant's driver's license and the subsequent use of his refusal to submit to a blood test as evidence against him at a criminal proceeding pursuant to [New York Traffic Law] would not violate any New York State or Federally protected rights.
"... there exists a clearly drawn distinction between the freedom to believe, which is absolute, and acts which can be regulated because they pose a clear and unequivocal threat to society.
"Through the interpretation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution, courts in New York and around the Nation have drawn a clear distinction between beliefs and practices. ... This important distinction is further supported by the literal reading of NY Constitution, ... , which expressly provides for the regulation of acts that are inimical or detrimental to the public welfare. Thus, it is required that New York revoke the defendant's driver's license under the statute. ... ... ...
"Were this court to accept a defendant's assertion that his refusal was based on religious belief, and that either the mandatory revocation or the use of his refusal as evidence at a criminal proceeding pursuant to [New York Traffic Law] would violate his constitutionally protected right to free exercise, excluding him from operation of the statute, the court would 'make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.' ...
"Thus, the question on this court's mind ... is whether persons who refuse to submit to blood tests because of legitimate religious beliefs should be exempt from the operation of the statute? If the court were to rule that they were, 'then those who do not make [refusal] a part of their religious belief may be found guilty and punished, while those who do must be acquitted and go free.' ... ."
Outcome of this criminal trial and probable later civil trial are unknown.
NEW YORK v. HERRIOT NICOLEAU , NEW YORK v. DAVID PEELE, and NEW YORK v. GARY DeCANIO were related New York criminal cases, which involved three Jehovah's Witnesses, named Herriot Nicoleau, 32, who was a Radiologist, Gary DeCanio, 32, of South Setauket, New York, and David Peele, 34, of Centereach, New York.
On December 29, 1988, Denise Nicoleau, 36, of Moriches, New York, a pregnant Jehovah's Witness Licensed Practical Nurse, went into premature labor, and was admitted to Brookhaven Memorial Medical Center, on Long Island. That evening a Cesarean section was performed and a healthy baby boy was delivered. Following the delivery Denise Nicoleau began to hemorrhage, and at midnight it was determined that further surgery was necessary. She remained in surgery until about 4:00 A.M. Throughout the evening and early morning hours Nicoleau lost a substantial amount of blood, and her doctor informed her that in his opinion she would die unless she had a transfusion. However, both she and her husband refused to consent to a transfusion on religious grounds.
Hospital officials decided to seek court intervention in order to save the life of Denise Nicoleau, and around noontime on December 30, 1988, a local court signed an ex parte order authorizing the hospital to administer "necessary blood transfusions". However, when hospital staff attempted to administer the necessary life-saving transfusions, approximately 15 Jehovah's Witnesses gathered in the hospital room of Denise Nicoleau, and physically blocked staff from doing so. Hospital administration spent several hours attempting to reason with the roomful of criminal trespassers, but were eventually left with no option but to call the police.
Only Herriot Nicoleau, Gary DeCanio, and David Peele were eventually arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges. Outcome unknown, but even after being released on bond, David Peele threatened to again block any future attempts by the hospital to administer transfusions to Denise Nicoleau.
GREGORY KEITH WESTBROOKS DEATH. On Saturday morning, November 19, 1988, at around 5:00 AM, a 31 year old African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Gregory Keith Westbrooks, left his Homewood, Pennsylvania residence to supposedly go purchase some cough syrup --presumably for his 10 year-old daughter Leanna Westbrooks . Gregory Westbrooks failed to return home. Westbrooks' automobile was found parked in a residential section of Pittsburgh's Hill District the next day. The auto was locked. The steering wheel was "clubbed". Westbrooks' eyeglasses and wallet, containing money and ID, were locked inside the glove compartment.
Gregory Westbrooks was described by his wife, Leanna Westbrooks, as a "devout Jehovah's Witness", who attended three meetings per week at the Homewood Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Other family members described Gregory Westbrooks as being "religious, family-oriented, and hard-working." Westbrooks had worked at a local PPG Industries factory for eleven years, and reportedly had an excellent employment record.
In April 1989, the mummified corpse of Gregory Keith Westbrooks was found in a closet of an apartment not far from where Westbrooks' auto had been parked. Westbrooks' corpse was partially dressed in women's clothing, and he died from strangulation with an item of such clothing. Vague reports seemed to indicate that Westbrooks may have hanged himself, and that he may have had some established "connection" to the leased apartment. Whatever was not being told, Police stated that Westbrooks' death was NOT considered to have been a homicide.
SYRING v. CAROL E. TUCKER was a 1993 Supreme Court of Wisconsin decision. In April 1987, a self-proclaimed Jehovah's Witness, named Carol E. Tucker, 39, (a/k/a Carrie Tucker), of Madison, Wisconsin, attended a hearing at the Dane County Department of Social Services, where Tucker was a client, when she became disruptive and was asked to leave. When a security guard attempted to escort her from the building, she became violent out in the corridor and began to attack the security guard with some sort of large stick. Robert A. Syring, a social worker whose office was nearby, intervened, and during the struggle with Carol Tucker, she bit him on the arm, and then yelled that she had AIDS. Tucker thereafter apparently refused to voluntarily submit a blood sample so that it could be determined whether Syring was at risk for AIDS or other communicable diseases.
Thereafter, Syring asked the local Circuit Court for an order compelling Tucker to submit to a physical examination, including a blood test, in order to determine whether Tucker carried the AIDS virus, or any other communicable diseases. The Circuit Court concluded that although it could order Tucker to submit to such a physical examination, if Tucker refused to comply, it did not have the statutory authority to treat Tucker's refusal as a contempt of court. The Circuit Court thus concluded that it lacked the statutory power to compel Tucker to submit to the requested physical examination. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed.
However, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin concluded that while the Circuit Court correctly determined it did not have the statutory authority to force Tucker to undergo a physical exam, it did have the equitable authority to do so. The case was reversed and remanded, and it is assumed that Tucker was forced to submit to physical testing, including blood testing, and that such tests were negative.
It is not known whether Carrie Tucker's refusal to submit blood samples for testing was based on her own genuine interpretation of WatchTower teachings, or whether it was the more likely situation that Tucker simply was being uncooperative with "the system", and was actually just using her JW beliefs as the only legitimate-appearing excuse not to cooperate. [Readers should be aware that there are a number of instances where self-proclaimed JWs have used their alleged WatchTower beliefs as their excuse not to submit blood samples during blood-alcohol cases (see SUKRAM above), parent identification cases, DNA-crime cases (see BIDDINGS above and BROWN ), and other cases. In addition to those, I know of a serial rapist/murderer case, a murder case, and a DUI case, in which all three Perps declared themselves to be JWs, and refused to submit to blood testing. I will post such if and when I am ever able to establish those criminals' past relationship with JWs.] Interestingly, Carol Tucker was supported, and possibly represented, by the ACLU. Although I'm not certain, it does not appear that "religious belief" was part of Tucker's arguments before the various courts. However, since her attorneys would have known that such was a certain loser, even if "religious belief" was not raised during any of the judicial proceedings, such would not mean that "religious belief" was not Tucker's actual or supposed excuse up until that point. What is known is that during one "booking session", Tucker attempted to prevent her photograph from being taken by claiming that such was against her beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness.
The SYRING case was not Carol E. Tucker's only exposure to Madison's legal and judicial systems during the 1980s and 1990s.
WISCONSIN v. CARRIE E. TUCKER was a 1989 Court of Appeals of Wisconsin decision. This case was an appeal by Carol E. Tucker of her conviction for "battery by a prisoner", at an unknown time, while she was an inmate in the Dane County Jail, on an unknown charge. Tucker was found guilty of punching a fellow inmate for turning up the volume of a facility television. Tucker lost this appeal which related to the exclusion of testimony regarding that fellow prisoners' credibility.
CAROL TUCKER v. MARCUS was a 1988 Supreme Court of Wisconsin decision. In April 1983, Carol Tucker's two daughters and 14 year-old son were swimming at a Madison health club when the son drowned. The three minors had been taken to the club by an unidentified adult on the son's birthday.
Thereafter, Tucker sued the health club for both compensatory and punitive damages. In February 1986, a jury apportioned 70% of the causal negligence to the son, 20% to the unidentified adult, and 10% to the club. The jury then awarded both compensatory and punitive damages to Carol Tucker in her wrongful death action as a parent, and to the estate in a survival action. However, no damages may have been finally awarded due to Wisconsin's then contributory-comparative negligence statute that disallowed such an award if the victim was more than 49/50% at fault. Outcome of appeal unknown.
LOUISIANA v. TROY LANCASTER DUGAR was a 1987 murder court case. Limited details. In October 1986, an African-American 15 year-old Jehovah's Witness, named Troy Lancaster Dugar, of Crowley, Louisiana, first robbed Donald Williams of $3.00, then forced Williams at gunpoint into the trunk of his car, then stole the William's car, and drove to Houston Texas. Along the way, Dugar stopped long enough to empty his revolver into Williams, and then reload, and empty it into Williams again. Troy Dugar apparently had shown glimpses of mental illness during his youth, but it evidently was not until his murder trial and subsequent appeals that his mental illness was confirmed and treated.
Troy L. Dugar was apparently from a decent home given that his father, Lancaster Dugar, identified himself as being both a Jehovah's Witness and a Lousiana State Trooper. (Lancaster Dugar resigned from the Louisiana State Police shortly after his son's conviction, reportedly due to the WatchTower Society's recent prohibition on JWs holding jobs that could require them to kill someone.) Troy Dugar was initially given a death sentence, but after years of appeals pushed by his father, Dugar's sentence was reduced in 1993 to a term of life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. Even after such, Dugar's father continued his efforts to get the murder conviction overturned, and his son committed to a mental institution. Outcome unknown.
TENNESSEE v. EUGENE EDWARD HAMBLIN was a 1987-1990 Tennessee MURDER prosecution in which "devout" Jehovah's Witness Minister, Eugene E. Hamblin was found "Guilty" only of "Involuntary Manslaughter" during a jury trial, with the two year sentence then being "suspended".
On HALLOWEEN EVENING 1987, Gene Hamblin, then age 45, of Nashville, Tennessee, tied his ROTTWEILER DOG on the front porch of the Hamblin residence with the INTENT to prevent neighborhood children from "trick-or-treating" at his home. When some of the neighborhood children attempted to walk onto the Hamblin's front porch, they were lunged at by the female ROTT. Those children's father, accompanied by a second, older man named Jack Morris, age 48, walked over to Hamblin's home, knocked, and angrily asked Hamblin what the hell was wrong with him, and verbally threatened both Hamblin and his dog. Hamblin claimed that the pair made a threatening move toward him, so he shoved/punched Morris, who fell backwards into Hamblin's yard. After retreating from Hamblin's porch, the children's father apparently got in a punch before retreating from Hamblin's yard. After knocking Morris down a second time in Hamblin's front yard, Gene Hamblin then grabbed Jack Morris, who was partially physically-disabled, and rammed Morris head-first into a nearby parked automobile. When Jack Morris began to experience widespread paralysis, Morris went to the ER, where he was found to have a swollen and bruised spinal cord. Surgery was unsuccessful. Morris developed respiratory complications, and DIED 13 days later.
At trial, a series of fellow Jehovah's Witnesses served as character witnesses for Eugene Hamblin -- one even publicly condemning Halloween as being "a satanic holiday". Although Morris had initiated the confrontation on Hamblin's own front porch, the jury decided that by the time that Hamblin rammed Morris into the parked automobile that Hamblin already was out of danger from being further harmed by Morris, with Hamblin's continued physical aggression -- that eventually resulted in Morris' death -- thereby being unlawful. In any event, the Judge sentenced Hamblin to a mere two years in prison, and then SUSPENDED the sentence. On appeal, the trial court decision was affirmed.
TENNESSEE v. EUGENE EDWARD HAMBLIN. Eight months after Eugene Edward Hamblin was tried and sentenced in January 1989, a pre-teen girl from Hamblin's neighborhood came forward and accused Hamblin of having sexually assaulted her in his home on at least three occasions when she was 10 years-old.
Gene Hamblin was arrested and incarcerated without bond in September 1989. Although most JWs believed that the sexual assault accusations were false, and in retaliation for Hamblin's "getting off" of the murder prosecution, Gene Hamblin eventually confessed to one or more of the sexual assaults. Typically, Gene Hamblin even told police that immediately after one of the sexual assaults that he had had the 10 year-old girl join him in prayer -- during which Eugene Hamblin asked Jehovah "not to let her do this to me again".
Just prior to trial in 1991, Eugene E. Hamblin, then age 49, somehow cut a deal with the Prosecutor to plead guilty to only one of the three sexual assault charges -- one count of aggravated sexual battery. Sentence unknown, but the guideline was 8-12 years.
We just discovered in 2014 that the "venireperson" named "THEODORE KELKER", who is mentioned in James Vernon Allridge's APPEAL possibly also had JEHOVAH'S WITNESS connections as did the Allridge family. "THEODORE KELKER" are the names of a GrandFather, Father, and Son with "Jehovah's Witness connections" who all lived in Texas at the time of this trial -- one or more in the Fort Worth area, the site of this trial. The believed-to-be "Father", Theodore Kelker Jr., was born in 1951, in Pueblo, Colorado, where this branch of the Kelker family originated. (The Colorado GreatGrandFather's name is believed to have been "John Theodore Kelker".) GrandFather and Father Kelkers relocated from Colorado to the Houston, Texas area sometime in the 1960s. The first indication of a JW connection for the Kelker Family that we found was in 1968 when "Ted Kelker" served as a groomsman at a Kingdom Hall wedding held in Houston. Those familiar with Jehovah's Witnesses know that to be a member of a Kingdom Hall wedding party that person must be an "exemplary" Jehovah's Witness. While Father/Jr would have have 16 years-old at the time, thus possibly a friend of the groom, per his Obit, he was not baptized until around 1973. Thus, "Ted Kelker" could have been "GrandFather", or if "GrandFather" was an Elder, an exception might have been made for "Jr" to serve in the party.
Interestingly, the Allridge family also lived in the Pueblo, Colorado "area" during the 1950s and 1960s. James V. Allridge was born in Colorado Springs in 1962. The Allridge Family relocated from Colorado to the Fort Worth, Texas area around 1967, after the father retired early from the military on disability. The first indication of a JW connection for the Allridge Family that we found was when the "Mother" was baptized as a JW in 1971.
Even if the Kelker and Allridge families never ever crossed paths in Colorado, nor even in Texas at the plethora of JW circuit and district meetings, what are the odds that someone from a TEXAS JEHOVAH'S WITNESS FAMILY could sit on the JAMES ALLRIDGE JURY and not know that James Vernon Allridge had been reared as a Jehovah's Witness given the widespread notoriety of the two Jehovah's Witness Allridge "brothers". Such a widely publicized murder-crime spree would have been at the top of the list of JW gossip in Texas during all of the latter 1980s.
We do not know in which stages of James Allridge's prosecution that his having been reared as a "Jehovah's Witness" was disclosed. Neither do we know if the religious background of venireperson "THEODORE KELKER" was disclosed during jury selection. However, just about everyone connected with the judicial process knows that the vast majority of Jehovah's Witness Venirepersons disclose their religious background during the jury selection process and use such as an excuse to be excused from sitting on a jury -- especially a criminal court jury. If venireperson "THEODORE KELKER" was reared as a Jehovah's Witness, and he had disclosed that fact during jury selection or during the trial, do you not suppose that James Allridge would have brought that up as part of his appeal???
WHY would someone who is either an ACTIVE JEHOVAH'S WITNESS, or who had himself been reared as a Jehovah's Witness, want to serve on, or remain on, this CAPITAL MURDER case Jury??? Was there a hidden agenda???
"I was raised a Jehovah's Witness and I spent 13 years of my life, knocking on people's doors, pursuing my classmates down the hall and walking up to strangers, trying to convince them that my religion's, my way of thinking and believing was the only true religion, and if they didn't believe, then they were doomed. I walked around with a little smug self-assurance that I had a secret that they didn't, because I knew I was going to live in paradise and they were going to be destroyed. And then I learned that everything I had been taught to believe to be true, was not only inaccurate and manipulations of the Scriptures, but outright lies in some instances. I was disillusioned for some time, but I kept searching because I've always felt God's hand on me. I can't really explain that statement but I just felt it."
"I always thought James’ family structure was strange. James’s mother was extremely fanatic about her religion She was a Jehovah’s Witness. I remember James’ mother as being extremely controlling. Her views were so extreme that sometimes I felt that she was like David Koresh. I always felt that James missed out on a lot when he was growing up because of his mother’s fanaticism. He didn’t celebrate birthdays or holidays. He never went out to eat and always wore hand-me-downs. Through our friendship, James was exposed to things he had never been exposed to, such as birthdays and holidays. James discovered a whole new life, which he seemed to embrace. For example, James started celebrating birthdays and holidays, but always had to do so secretly for fear that his mother would find out. When I knew James, James had very low self-esteem. I think the fact that he was very skinny and had very poor skin contributed to his low self-esteem. James was desperate for friends."
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