The Evil Twin

March 11, 2011

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His own image stared up at him from the front page of the tabloid. “Security guards at the Red Triangle Gallery were forced to remove Pat Killpatrick from the premises on Sunday. Killpatrick, the brother of actor Matt Killpatrick, was attending a gala event honoring the works of Maria Rubio when he became verbally abusive toward the artist …”

Same song, different day. Pat had always been the black sheep of the family. While Matt had been a struggling actor who auditioned during the day and washed dishes at night, his brother had been flunking out of community college and mooching of their parents. He slept in until noon, hung out with a bad crowd, and couldn’t even be bothered to help out around the house.

When Matt finally got his big break, Pat was still living at home – a decade after finishing high school. Nearly overnight, Pat changed from being a lazy bum to being a guy who worked very hard. Worked very hard at being a jerk. With a famous brother, he now felt entitled to the trappings of the rich and famous.

At first, Pat’s transgressions were largely limited to pulling out the “Do you know who I am?” card when he found himself in awkward situations. He attempted to impress the state trooper who pulled him over for speeding and bully the restaurant employee who caught him trying to dine and dash.

Before long, Pat realized that he could make easy money from his very own image. Matt’s publicist nearly had a heart attack when she saw Matt’s face on a billboard promoting a strip club claiming to have “the youngest girls in town.” Matt was frustrated to find out that there was little he could do to stop Pat. Technically, Pat wasn’t selling the rights to Matt’s image, but rather the rights to his own image. The fact that Matt and Pat were identical twins was problematic for Matt, but was not a reason to bar Pat from appearing on billboards. Matt’s lawyer pointed out that the billboard had Pat’s name prominently displayed. It was obviously a ploy to ward off a lawsuit – but an effective ploy.

Pat then embarked upon his own acting career. He starred in two low budget porn films before it became apparent that his acting skills weren’t up to the level required by the industry.

Still after an easy buck, Pat was soon appearing on billboards once again. Not just strip clubs this time – be branched out into pawn shops and payday loans. His face was on dozens of billboards in the tri-sate area. As if this didn’t create enough embarrassment for Matt, he also began popping up in public at events such as the gallery gala – generally making an ass of himself and bringing shame down on the family.

A friend had once asked Matt why he didn’t “just kill that worthless bastard of a brother.”

“Ah,” he had replied, “but where would I hide the body?” The comment got the laugh that Matt had been hoping for.

Matt set down the newspaper and gazed out at his flower garden. For many years, it had been the envy of the neighborhood – the garden’s nutrient-rich soil produced a bountiful harvest of flowers that displayed incredibly vibrant colors.

Felony Murder Statute

August 25, 2009

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The felony murder statute (or felony murder rule) seems to pop up in the news every now and then, but the general public does not seem to have a great deal of awareness of it.  Some people think that the term simply refers to “normal” murder.  In fact, it is a special type of murder.  So, today, I’ll weigh in on the felony murder statute.

Although the specifics vary by state, the core of the statute is quite simple.  If you are involved in the execution of a felony and someone dies, you can be charged with first degree murder in their death.  This most often applies to cases involving robbery, rape, arson, burglary, terrorism, kidnapping, carjacking, and escape.

The felony murder statute can apply even if it’s not one of the “good guys” who dies.  For example, let’s take the case of robbery.  If you and your friend rob a bank and the police shoot and kill your friend when you attempt to flee, it is you who will be charged with the murder, not the police officer.  This is why, at times, you will see a defense attorney declaring that his client should not be convicted, because he did not kill anyone.  Indeed, his client did not directly cause anyone’s death.

What, exactly, is the theory behind the felony murder statute?  The theory is that the perpetrators of the crime are engaged in acts that are inherently dangerous, and that they should know that there is a relatively high likelihood that the activity could result in death.

Opponents of the statute claim that it is unjust, because the perpetrators never intended to kill anyone.  Thus they lack “mens rea” (premeditation), which is typically must occur in order for a crime to qualify as first degree murder (deaths that do not involved mens rea are typically prosecuted as lesser crimes).  While the perpetrators may have premeditated the robbery, they did not premeditate the death.

Supporters counter the lack of mens rea by saying that transferred intent exists; that is, the intent to commit the underlying felony transfers to other activities that occur during the commission of the felony.

Where do I stand on this issue?  Although I am often liberal in my views, I come down firmly in favor of the felony murder statute.  I believe that this is a case were common sense should substitute for mens rea.  Although the perpetrators did not specifically intend to cause death, it is only logical that certain types of activities have a high probability of resulting in a death.  Not only does the felony murder statute serve to adequately punish the criminals, but it is also my hope that it will cause some people to stop and think before committing crimes such as robbery and arson.

What are your thoughts?  Does anyone want to offer a counter-argument?  The floor is yours.

Breast Implants = Crimefighting Tool

August 23, 2009

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The body of model/actress Jasmine Fiore was found in a Dumpster earlier last week. Her body was found in a suitcase by a man looking for bottles to recycle. (Note: if you find a suitcase in a Dumpster, don’t open it.) Her husband, Ryan Jenkins, has been charged with his murder. He is believed to have slipped into Canada and Canadian law enforcement personnel have joined their US counterparts in a manhunt for Jenkins.

Fiore’s teeth had been extracted and her fingers had been removed. This was done in an attempt to conceal the victim’s identity. Fiore was identified by the serial number of her breast implants. This is not the first time that law enforcement has used this method to identify a body.

Ryan Jenkins (the husband who has been charged with the crime) is a contestant on the reality show “Megan Wants a Millionaire”. The show says that it fired an outside company to do background checks on contestants, and that the outside company missed Jenkins’ criminal history (a prior conviction for assault).

Apparently they also missed the fact that Jenkins was married, and thus not a great fit for the dating show. Whether Jenkins is actually a millionaire is unknown.

On a tangent – have you noticed that the word “Dumpster” is often capitalized? That’s because it is not a generic term, but rather a brand name.

UPDATE: Ryan Jenkins has been found dead in British Columbia.

But He Had Killer Ratings!

August 17, 2009

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The American news media, from time to time, is accused of trying to create the news rather than simply report it. The American outlets, however, have nothing on Brazilian news personality Wallace Souza.

Souza was the host of the news show Canal Livre, which was popular in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Souza would often rail against the violence in the area, which has a reputation of being quite lawless. Canal Livre would often focus on killings in the Amazon region, including showing graphic footage of murder victims. Canal Livre was often able to beat its competitors to the location and score an exclusive story – which resulted in a ratings boost.

How was Souza able to consistently beat his opponents to the punch? I know what you’re thinking – that he paid off the cops to notify him when the crime had been uncovered. Of course not – let’s not be ridiculous.

What Souza was actually doing, according to the police, was setting up the killings. His crews would be first on the scene simply because he knew that the killing was about to occur.

What sort of anchor man has the connections to get people whacked, you might ask? The sort of anchor man who also dabbled in a bit of drug trafficking. The guys he had whacked were rivals, so he was killing two birds with one stone. Souza’s son has been jailed on charges related to murder and drug trafficking. Souza himself has not yet been arrested. He also happens to be a legislator in the state government – and thus has immunity (just a thought, but perhaps the immunity protections could be scaled back a bit at some point). In the last elections, Souza garnered more votes than any other member of the Azononas legislature.

Souza is also a former police officer, so he really has all the bases covered. Committing crimes as a criminal, arresting criminals as a cop, reporting the crimes on TV, and making the laws. Souza has responded to the allegations by saying that he is being set up by political rivals.

This story really stunned me a bit. As much as Americans distrust the media at times, I find it hard to believe than any members of the media would have someone whacked just so that they could report on the story. I’ll eat my hat if my favorite news anchor is ever arrested for setting up a hit. (Note to Steven Colbert – try to avoid having people killed, OK? )

Their business is death, and business has been good

On the topic of death, I’d like to point out a favorite web site of mine, Dead or Alive Info. If you ever have a question about whether or not a public figure is dead or alive, pop over to this site to check. You can also take a gander at a list of people who are 85 or older and still alive. You can see which people died young (younger than 30) or old (100 or older) and sort by field (science, entertainment, etc), gender, or cause of death.

In addition to the raw facts, there are also some fun quizzes on the site.

Those among you who participate in celebrity death pools could make good use of this site when you’re setting up your board for the next draft. Take a quick look at the people who are 85+ and put them at the top of your board!

What did you miss over the weekend?

  • On Friday, the fiction story Warm Feet appeared. Gay Marriage was the topic of the story.
  • Saturday featured a “write your own adventure” story. Kosmo wrote the first 200 words ot the story Lindsey and asked readers to continue the story in the comment section.
  • Tyson Turned weighed in with 3 things on Sunday.

Billings Killings

July 15, 2009

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We’re still working on the exact schedule for the monthly columnists, so today will be a general news article.

Intruders broke into the home of Byrd and Melanie Billings on the night of July 9 in Beulah, Florida. Within a few minutes, Byrd and Melanie were dead, and the intruders had stolen some items from the residence (police have not released details about what items were taken).  Nine of their children were at home during the invasion, but none were harmed (and one ran to a neighbor’s house for help).

In the aftermath of this tragedy, we began to get an idea about the sort of people the Billings were.  68 year old Byrd and his 43 year old wife Melanie had a total of 4 biological children from previous marriages.  Blessed by financial prosperity, they adopted 12 or 13 more children (the accounts vary), many of them with special needs.  Instead of spending their money on fancy jewelry or trips around the world, Byrd and Melanie chose the enrich the lives of these children.  What a wonderful way to spend your life.

The police were aided in their investigation by the surveillance system that that was used to keep an eye on the Billings children as they moved throughout the house.  The surveillance system caught the crime on tape.  Seven people have been charged with murder, including a 16 year old who will be tried as an adult.  A father and son were among those arrested.  Authorities also have an interest in another person who may have aided and abetted.  The seven who are charged with murder could face the death penalty.

Two members of the group had military experience, and some members of the group may have done work on the grounds of the Billings home.  The inside information, coupled with the military experience, may help explain the very efficient nature of the attack.

At this point, authorities are saying that robbery was the motive, and they have not indicated that any other motives may gave existed.  If this crime was simply for financial motives, it is absolutely sickening.  Not that any motive would have been a good reason to kill them; but with purely financial motives, the criminals could have simply tied up to couple to prevent them from calling authorities.  To elevate the crime from burglary to murder makes no sense, on any level.  I do wonder if there might be a second motive, although I am not sure what that motive might be.

I’m not sure why the killer chose to spare the Billings children, but at least the monsters showed a tiny bit of compassion by allowing them to live.  Or perhaps they simply ran out of time.

I am not typically a proponent of the death penalty.  I have a couple of concerns with it, the most troubling being the fact that it is irreversible in the case that the wrong person is executed for a crime.  However, in this case, I believe that I could be convinced that execution is an appropriate punishment for the crime.