Weekly News Nuggets

June 22, 2009

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James von Brunn

James von Brunn, who shot and killed a guard at the National Holocaust Museum, may face some additional charges.  When searching von Brunn’s computer, investigators found child pornography.  For the few of you out there who feel that von Brunn is an otherwise good man who simply had some radical political beliefs that got him into trouble, it’s time to jump off the bandwagon.  This man is not a kindly old grandfather – he is a criminal who derserves to be severely punished. Since von Brunn committed the crime in the District of Columbia, the federal government has jurisdiction.  That means that he could face the death penalty.  However, it is very unlikely that he will be executed.  By the the time that the case goes to trial, a jury renders a verdict, and von Brunn’s appeals have been exhausted, a lot of years are going to pass.  It’s much more likely that the 88 year old man is going to die in custody when his appeals are being heard.

While James von Brunn’s son Erik has offered his condolences to the family of security guard Stephen Johns, saying that “the wrong man died that day”, some von Brunn supporters feel that a conspiracy may have been at work, and that von Brunn might have been set up.  This appears to be rather unlikely.

Air France flight 447

It is beginning to appear that Air France flight 447 broken apart during flight on June 1.  Many of the bodies have had multiple broken bones, which is consistent with falling from a great height.  Very few have shown head injuries, which occur very often during crash landings.  The key question, of course, is WHY tha plan would have broken apart.

Air France is paying the families of victimes approximately $24,500 in initial compensation.  The key word is initial.  Certainly further compensation will be paid at a later date.

Illegal music downloads

A Minnesota woman was founded guilty of illegally downloading 24 songs and was fined $1.9 million by a jury.  The was actually a re-trial, as she was granted a new trial because of an error that was made jury instructions in her first trial.  She was also found guilty in the first trial, although the fine that was assessed by that jury was “just” $220,000.

The fine seems a bit on the high side, since stealing the same 24 songs from Wal-Mart (shoplifting 2 CDs) would be unlikely to draw a fine remotely in the same neighborhood.  I think that the fine will eventually be reduced, but there’s a lesson to be learned here.  Don’t mess around with illegal downloads.  Pay for your music.  The artists deserve to be compensated.  After all, you wouldn’t walk out of your favorite restaurant without paying.

Donte Stallworth

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth reached a plea agreement in his vehicular manslaughter case.  The plea deal calls for Stallworth to spend 30 days in jail (minus 1 day time served and 5 days off for good behavior).  Stallworth was drunk when he hit and killed a pedestrian.

To many people, the penalty seems absurdly light.  I agree that more jail time was warranted.  However, there are several factors that helped Stallworth.  First, it is possible that the victim was not in the crosswalk when he was hit.  However, for the sake of argument, I’ll assume that he was in the crosswalk.  After the accident, Stallworth did all the right things.  He called the cops and cooperated with the investigation.  He expressessed remorse.  He reached a financial agreement with the family of the victim (the family supported the plea deal).  Stallworth was also a first time offender.  Add up all these details, and clearly he is going to end up with less jail time than a repeat offender who flees the scene.

Some have compared Stallworth’s sentence to that of Michael Vick.  Vick’s situation was much different.  This is not simply the case of a man’s life vs. a dog’s life.  Vick engaged in intentional acts of cruelty against animals (whereas Stallworth intended to drink, but did not intend to kill) and continued a pattern of deceit after being arrested.  In short, Vick appeared to be the sort of person who needed a stiff prison term to rehabilitate him.

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