From Pora to Watson

The lawyer and the investigator who were instrumental on getting Teina Pora freed and compensated are now working on the Scott Watson case.

Newshub: Team that freed Teina Pora now working on Scott Watson’s case

The team that helped free Teina Pora has now turned its attention to the case of convicted double-murderer Scott Watson.

Lawyer Jonathan Krebs helped quash Pora’s conviction for the 1992 murder of Susan Burdett. He is now working on Watson’s application for a Royal Prerogative of Mercy, which, if successful, could re-open the case of the Sounds murders.

Private investigator Tim McKinnel, who also helped to clear Pora’s name, will be involved in Watson’s application.

I don’t know enough to be able to conclude whether Watson is guilty or innocent, but there do seem to be some real issues of concern regarding his conviction.

By world standards we have a relatively robust legal system but it is not without it’s weaknesses.

One of those seems to be a strong reluctance to revisit cases where there are obvious problems with the case and the verdict.

Worst mass shooting in Texas history

The church shooting in a Texas church is described as the worst mass shooting in Texas history, which is very sad but also seems a bit odd given how Texas has been portrayed historically as a gun slinging wild west.

Worst mass shooting in Texas History claims 26 at a church near San Antonio

Latest details (as of 8:30 p.m.)

  • At least 26 people were killed at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs Sunday morning
  • The shooter was identified as Devin Kelley, 26.
  • Between 15-20 people were wounded.
  • The shooter was killed in Guadalupe County.
  • Police are reportedly searching for explosives at a home connected to the suspected shooter.
  • Most deadly mass shooting in Texas history.

Officials have identified the man who killed 26 people inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs as Devin Kelley, 26.

Authorities said Kelley, dressed in tactical gear, began the shooting spree outside the church. He then walked inside and continued shooting, before fleeing in a vehicle.

Authorities found him dead with a gunshot wound in neighboring Guadalupe County, officials said.

‘Creepy, crazy and weird’: Former classmates say Texas gunman was an ‘outcast’ who ‘preached his atheism’ online before killing 26 in the state’s worst ever mass shooting

The Texas church shooter who shot dead 26 people and injured 24 others was an ‘outcast’ who ‘preached his atheism’ online.

Former classmates say Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, who stormed First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas and opened fire on Sunday, was ‘creepy’, ‘crazy’ and ‘weird’.

Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on Sunday, dressed in black, tactical gear with a ballistics belt and an assault rifle, and began shooting, according to local law enforcement sources.

Kelley of New Braunfels, a suburb of San Antonio, was shot by Stephen Willeford, 55, before he climbed in an SUV to flee the scene, a local resident told DailyMail.com.

This will no doubt spark another round of arguments over liberal US gun laws, for a while, until it fades away again as nothing happens.

This shooting is being reported as the fifth worst mass killing in recent US history.

Because the mass murderer was a white US citizen it is unlikely to result in calls for extreme vetting of crazy people and atheists, or bans on immigration from countries where there are crazy people or atheists.

Statista: Number of mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and 2017, by mass shooter’s race and ethnicity

USMassShootings

The US has a real problem with the use of firearms, shooting deaths generally and mass shootings, but seems unable to do much about it.

 

 

 

Police and prisoner numbers

The new Government aims to increase police numbers and decrease prisoner numbers.

From the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement:

Strive towards adding 1800 new Police officers over three years and commit to a serious focus on combating organised crime and drugs.

Earlier this year the previous government had already committed to increasing police numbers:  Ten per cent more police to reduce crime

A $503 million package which includes increasing police staff and resources across the country will reduce crime and make our communities safer.

Police Minister Paula Bennett says the Safer Communities package announced today by the Prime Minister will provide an additional 1125 police staff over the next four years, including 880 sworn police officers.

I presume the new Government’s plans are on top of this. They also want to decrease prisoner numbers, which could be difficult if more police catch more criminals.

NZ Herald:  Govt wants to axe new prison and lower prison muster

Labour’s target is 30 per cent drop in prisoner numbers in 15 years.

The Labour-led Government wants to put the brakes on the burgeoning prison muster so it can axe plans for a new 1500-bed prison – expected to cost close to $1 billion.

The increase in remand prisoners has put pressure on the prison population in recent years and Corrections is now looming as a political battleground, with Opposition leader Bill English warning that it will test the Government.

The number of prisoners has risen since new laws in 2013 that made it tougher to grant bail, roughly doubling the number of remand prisoners to about 3000 today.

The prison muster yesterday was 10,457, well above justice sector forecasts and expected to keep rising.

Even if more police will eventually reduce crime the prisoner numbers are a problem now.

Last year the previous Government unveiled plans to add 1800 prison beds at a cost of $1 billion, with more double bunking in Ngawha Prison, a new 245-bed block in Mt Eden Prison, and the new 1500-bed prison.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said it was his “strong preference” not to build a new prison, which he called a symbol of the “abject failure of our criminal justice system”.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis echoed this sentiment, adding that construction work had yet to begin.

“I’m looking at all options to reduce the prison muster, so that it doesn’t end up being built. Officials are being sent away to work out what will have an immediate impact.

“We’ll rule out the stuff that won’t make New Zealand safer.”

Labour wants to lower the prison population by 30 per cent in 15 years, a target Little described as “ambitious”.

Little said he had no plans to revisit the bail laws, switching the focus to crime prevention, prisoner rehabilitation, and rolling out more therapeutic courts, which can divert offenders away from jail and into treatment if they plead guilty.

While all laudable goals none of that is likely to be easy or quick. They have to somehow deal with growing prisoner numbers now while trying to eventually reduce crime.

 

No charges after Todd Barclay re-investigation

The police say they have no new evidence of that justifies re-opening the case against ex-MP Todd Barclay so no charges will be laid.

A number of news reports implied that this decision was because Barclay again refused to talk to the police, but as for anyone else that’s his right and a right that is commonly claimed on legal advice.

It wasn’t the reason for no charges being laid, as with any case police have to find sufficient evidence to justify a prosecution and they say they have not been able to do that. New information given to them and new interviews did not make a viable case.

Stuff:  No charges from Todd Barclay re-investigation – police

Police reopened an investigation into allegations Barclay, the former MP for Clutha-Southland, illegally recorded a staff-member after it emerged in June that former prime minister Bill English had been a key witness in the case.

Police have now closed the case as they have insufficient evidence.

“After a thorough review of all information available to us, including legal advice both internal and from Crown Law, plus consideration of the Solicitor General’s prosecution guidelines, Police has (sic) determined that there is no change to the outcome of the original investigation,” Assistant Commissioner (Investigations) Richard Chambers said.

Police rejected criticisms of the initial investigation and any claim that witnesses had been coerced.

“We are aware that the original investigation has been subject to some criticism,” Chambers said.

“While we recognise the strong interest in this matter, the foundation of any decision to seek warrants or to prosecute is always the evidence available to us.”

“Speculation, hearsay and third party information does not in itself constitute such evidence.”

Neither do concerted attempts to score political hits with no evidence.

Stuff details the whole shemozzle:  How the Todd Barclay story got here

 

Paddock motive a mystery

The motives of mass killers is usually known quite easily. Not so the Las Vegas killer, Stephen Paddock. So far no motive has been revealed, and Paddock doesn’t fit the usual profile of a mass murderer.

NY Times: No Manifesto, No Phone Calls: Las Vegas Killer Left Only Cryptic Clues

…in the four days since Stephen Paddock’s attack in Las Vegas — a shooting rampage that left 58 dead and hundreds seriously wounded — what drove him has remained a mystery, vexing the public and putting enormous pressure on federal and local investigators to find answers.

“In the spirit of the safety of this community or anywhere else in the United States I think it’s important to provide that information, but I don’t have it,” Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in an interview Thursday. “We don’t know it yet.”

No grandiose manifesto has been found. No account of Mr. Paddock behaving dangerously or holding extremist views has emerged from neighbors or relatives. Unlike past killers, Mr. Paddock did not dial up the police to explain his actions.

Agents have fanned out across the country, interviewing family members and friends and looking for signs of mental illness.

Mr. Paddock left a trail of clues that are, so far, more cryptic than revealing: There was a note in his hotel room whose exact contents the authorities have yet to reveal. Sheriff Lombardo said that it contained numbers that were being analyzed for their relevance, and that it was not a manifesto or suicide note.

Mr. Paddock may have scouted other locations, including Fenway Park in Boston, Lollapalooza in Chicago and the Life is Beautiful music festival in Las Vegas, before finally checking into a suite at the Mandalay Bay that had clear sight lines to Route 91, and a massive gathering of country music fans. He stockpiled expensive firearms over the course of many months.

Investigators have identified 47 firearms belonging to Mr. Paddock, including a dozen in his hotel suite that were enhanced to fire at an accelerated rate, and discovered a system of cameras Mr. Paddock set up to monitor the area around his location.

Despite the huge scale of the attack, why Mr. Paddock carried it out remained a huge and haunting question mark, said Steven B. Wolfson, the district attorney in Clark County, Nev., where the killings occurred. He estimated that in “99 percent of the cases,” the perpetrator of a drastic killing offers some kind of justification, however twisted.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I can’t remember another homicide — and then you multiply what I’m about to say by 58 — where you don’t know why.”

Experts and law enforcement veterans caution that it can take time to establish a killer’s real motivations, piecing together electronic data with interviews and other shards of a life twisted into extreme violence.

Officials involved in the Las Vegas investigation have said they expect it will take an exhaustive search into Mr. Paddock’s past, spanning multiple states and decades of his life, to deduce what brought him to the windows of the Mandalay Bay hotel with such an elaborate plan for murder. In F.B.I. speak, they want to understand his “pathway to violence.”

They may discover what led to this massacre. Or it may remain a mystery.

Las Vegas shooting – many dead and injured

The death toll from shooting at a concert in Las Vegas is now 58, with hundreds injured. It is reported that a single gunman using at least 10 weapons fired on the crowd from the 32nd floor of a resort.

Motive for the killing appears to be unknown at this stage.

Fox News: Las Vegas shooting: At least 58 dead in massacre Trump calls ‘act of pure evil’

A gunman turned a Las Vegas concert into a killing field Sunday night from his perch on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, using at least 10 guns to rain down a steady stream of fire, murdering at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 others in the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.

The gunman, who fired down on the Route 91 Harvest Festival from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound just as police made entry to the room, according to LVMPD undersheriff Kevin McMahill.

The suspect was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada. Federal law enforcement sources told Fox News that Paddock “was known to local authorities” in Vegas.
paddock01

Alleged killer, retired accountant Stephen Paddock

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said an “excess of 10 rifles” were found in the room, but did not immediately reveal a motive. Paddock had been in the hotel room since September 28, according to Lombardo.

A horrible act in a country awash with firearms.

The question inevitably asked is whether there are wider terrorist links.

At this time, federal officials do not see any connection to international terrorism and little is known about Paddock’s motivation, sources said. The Islamic State terror group took credit for the Las Vegas shooting, saying the gunman converted to Islam months ago, but provided no evidence back up the claim.

FBI Special agent-in-charge Aaron Rouse said at a news conference the agency has “determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group.”

This is by far the worst massacre in the US for some time, but here are statistics for the year to date from the Gun Violence Archive:

Gun violence  and crime incidents are collected/validated from 2,500 sources daily – incidents and their source data are found at the gunviolencearchive.org website.

1: Actual number of deaths and injuries
2: Number of INCIDENTS reported and verified

Another random killing

This looks like another case of a person being in the wrong place at the wrong time and losing their life.

RNZ: Man fatally stabbed after disturbing youths breaking into vehicle

A 54-year-old Hamilton man has died after he was stabbed while confronting a group of youths breaking into a vehicle.

Two teenagers have appeared in the Hamilton Youth Court following the death.

Police have launched a homicide investigation after local man Norman Kingi was found critically injured on Ranui Street at about 11:30pm last night.

He died shortly after midnight in Waikato Hospital.

Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said it looked as if Mr Kingi disturbed a group of young people breaking into a vehicle and during a fight suffered a fatal wound.

He said a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old today appeared in the Youth Court, charged with aggravated wounding and unlawful interference with a motor vehicle.

A 12-year-old will be referred to Youth Aid.

Awful.

Northland shootings

The killing of two women and injuring of a man in Northland looks like a tragic and sad mix of mental illness and firearms.

It was known that the murderer was a frequent user of firearms.

It seems to have been known that he suffered from mental illness and depression, and he had a record of violence.

He didn’t have a firearms license but had somehow acquired a lot of weapons.

RNZ:  Gunman had multiple weapons – reports

Police are refusing to discuss how a convicted criminal who shot two women was able to collect firearms without a licence.

Quinn Patterson killed property manager Wendy Campbell, 60, and her 37-year-old daughter Natanya on Wednesday morning when they visited his home with a contractor to install smoke alarms. The contractor was also shot, but managed to escape and raise the alarm.

There are reports that Patterson, aged in his 50s, had multiple guns and other weapons, including grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Police have confirmed he did not have a firearms licence.

He served 18 months in prison for stabbing a police officer multiple times with a 33cm hunting knife in Hamilton in 1983.

Patterson’s only sister, Gloria, says her brother’s mental and physical health deteriorated rapidly this year and she had urged him to seek help.

NZ Herald: Northland shooting: A portrait of killer Quinn Patterson

Friend Leah Cameron said Quinn’s father brought his children up with a “Doomsday” mentality.

“He was fatalistic about the world, that it was not a good place. He could have been classed as being a bit of a fanatic”.

He made his children dig graves with him and he and his wife apparently wrote a book about UFOs.

Patterson liked guns despite friends saying he did not have a licence and was not a hunter. Neighbours would often hear him shooting in his backyard.

“He just shot in his back lawn by the sounds of it, you could hear it from here, you could hear it from everywhere,” Walters said.

“They were big guns. we’re talking automatics, semi-automatics, big calibres. They sounded like cannons, you could hear them going off with, like, 16 rounds.

“He was just sort of a law unto his own.”

He became paranoid and started to accumulate several weapons. A friend told Newshub he had grenades, shotguns, rifles and hand guns. He had “barricaded” himself in the property with bars on the windows.

He was becoming more and more depressed and paranoid, friends said.

He had taken several types of medication over the years, including sleeping tablets and had tried natural medication, vitamins and exercise in an attempt to get better.

There are some obvious questions that need to be asked about all this.

Fox promotes the violent left

Fox news has been pushing quite a bit on ‘left bad, right good’ following the shooting of Republican House Whip Steve Scalise by a Bernie Sanders supporter.

This is all on their current twitter feed:

That’s toned down?

They do have the occasional attempt on balance and conciliation:

But the division goes on. just tweeted:

Levels of rhetoric, division and violence look likely to continue unabated, despite what should have been a wake up call for politicians on both sides of the chasm.

Turei slams NZ First in child protection

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has strongly criticised NZ First for proposing a referendum on the ‘anti-smacking’ law.

Winston Peters brought this up in a speech in March – see Who wants to re-visit the ‘anti-smacking’ law? – but it resurfaced on Q+A yesterday, where NZ First MP Tracey Martin was interviewed along with Sue Bradford.

10 years on from the so called “anti-smacking” law – NZ First calls for a binding referendum

NZ First MP Tracey Martin told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that the law change has had a “chilling effect” on NZ parents including herself.

“Well, we’ve always argued, for 25 years, around binding a referenda on issues like this, where our citizens need to speak. We have a representative democracy. 113 temporarily empowered politicians decided this for all the parents of New Zealand. The parents of New Zealand need to be able to speak on it,” said Mrs Martin.

“I remember me being a parent when this bill went through, and I felt that the language that was being used, the politicians that were telling me that if I lightly smacked my child, I was then committing abuse. I found that personally offensive. It had a chilling effect on my parenting. And I believe other parents out there feel the same,” she said.

However, Former Green Party MP and the architect behind the law changes Sue Bradford disagrees.

“For New Zealand First to want us to go backwards on something that’s so important for our babies, children and young people, I just find incredible.”

“From the point of view of protecting our children and babies and saying actually our young kids should have the right to grow up without violence,” says Mrs Bradford.

Turei responded: NZ First putting politics before child protection

NZ First has chosen to put political game playing ahead of the safety of children by proposing a referendum on the ten year old amendments to the Crimes Act.

NZ First MP Tracy Martin said on Q&A this morning that her Party wants to hold a binding referendum to repeal the 2007 amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act.

“I think it’s appalling that NZ First is willing to remove a basic protection for our kids in the hope it’ll buy them a few votes in election year,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“This law change simply removed a legal loophole that had allowed people who assaulted children to escape charges by claiming it was ‘parental correction’.

“Parents aren’t being prosecuted for lightly smacking their children. NZ First is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

“It’s sad that a political party would choose to use its resources to campaign on removing child protections rather than finding solutions to child abuse,” said Ms Turei.

But it’s election year and populist vote pandering seems to take precedent over protection of children from violence.