Jan. 18, 2013 Mercury News
SAN JOSE -- Supporters rallied Friday to urge prosecutors to drop a murder charge against a San Jose man who shot and killed an alleged burglar in a vigilante act that made him a folk hero to residents frustrated with a shrinking police response to lower-level crimes.
A Change.org petition was launched by family and friends of Luis Ricardo Hernandez, 26, who is being held in Santa Clara County Jail on $1 million bail in the death of 36-year-old Christopher Soriano of San Jose.
Hernandez was a maintenance worker at the Summer Breeze apartments when on Dec. 31 he and a supervisor reportedly tried to perform a citizen's arrest on Soriano, who they suspected of burglarizing cars
at the complex. In an ensuing physical confrontation, police said, Hernandez shot Soriano, who later died.
The online petition garnered more than 500 signatures as of Friday. Family spokesman Gina Gates said the defendant, who on Friday postponed a plea entry, was trying to thwart a series of crimes given short shrift by a budget-starved police force. He is due back in court Feb. 15.
"Ricardo is not the pebble in the pond. He's part of the wave it caused," Gates said.
Authorities see things much differently, with police admonishing vigilantism even in lean staffing times and prosecutors filing a murder charge.
"We acknowledge that it may take us a while to get to a property crime like an auto burglary depending on what else is going on in the city," said outgoing police Chief Chris Moore in a recent interview. "I'm somewhat disappointed that people are treating this person as a folk hero. In my opinion, he's not. I understand the frustration. But that doesn't give someone the right to take a gun out and take the law into their own hands."
Jan. 18, 2013 Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — A man has been arrested on charges he grabbed a woman by the feet and threw her onto the tracks at a Philadelphia subway station, police said. The woman got off the tracks on her own and suffered only minor injuries.
Police announced the arrest Thursday, more than two days after the woman was assaulted around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at a subway station in the city's Chinatown neighborhood. The victim had been sitting on a bench when the man asked her what time the train was coming and requested a light for his cigarette, according to investigators. After she obliged and put the lighter back in her coat pocket, police said, the man grabbed her by the neck and began punching her.
In the assault, which was caught on surveillance video, the man can be seen grabbing the victim by her feet, dragging her along the platform and then throwing her on the tracks as she screamed. The suspect walked away with her cellphone, police said, but the woman was able to get back up onto the platform with only bruises and cuts.
Jan. 18, 2013 Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- Wagner was interviewed by authorities soon after Wood's drowning in 1981, but the actor is the only person who was on the yacht the night Wood died who has not spoken to detectives as part of the latest inquiry, despite repeated requests and attempts, sheriff's Lt. John Corina said.
Blair Berk, an attorney for Wagner and his family, said the actor had cooperated with authorities since his wife died.
Detectives began re-investigating the case in November 2011. Since then investigators have interviewed more than 100 people, but Wagner has refused and Corina said the actor's representatives have not given any reason for his silence.
The detective's remarks provided new insight into the case that has remained one of Hollywood's enduring mysteries. Earlier this week, coroner's officials released an updated autopsy report that had been under a security hold. It detailed why Wood's death had been reclassified from an accidental drowning to a drowning caused by "undetermined factors."
Jan. 17, 2013 Christian Science Monitor
Moscow -- One of Russia's top organized crime bosses was gunned down in a classic contract hit on a Moscow street Wednesday, raising fears that Russia's notorious mafia gangs – which seemed to fade from view during the Vladimir Putin era – may be about to erupt onto the streets again.
Aslan Usoyan, whose nickname was "Grandpa (Dyed) Khasan," was shot in broad daylight as he exited his favorite downtown Moscow restaurant. He was killed by a chillingly professional assassin who had rented an apartment across the street months earlier, left behind an untraceable military-style sniper rifle and six spent cartridges, and who managed to dodge multiple security cameras when he made his escape.
Mr. Usoyan had been one of the last of the fabled Soviet-era underworld breed known as vori v zakone, or "thieves-in-law," whose gangs virtually ruled Russia's fledgling banking and business communities during the wild 1990s, and whose bloody turf wars spread mayhem around Russia and, to some extent, throughout the world.
Russia's hardened crime reporters and other experts were hardly shocked by the killing, which was the third attempt on Usoyan's life. But as they mulled over the event Thursday they appeared to disagree over what it means and what might come next.
Jan. 17, 2013 CBS
CHICAGO — On the same day when the city of Chicago is paying out $32 million to settle two police abuse cases, a new report details the extent of police crime, corruption and cover-ups.
UIC professors Dick Simpson and John Hagedorn traced police misconduct over 50 years and found more than 300 officers in that time had been convicted of serious crimes, a third of those for illegal drug dealing, weapons sales, and gang activity.
Hagedorn says it’s no wonder Chicago has a notorious gang problem.
“The gang problem has always been serious in Chicago, in part, because the problem of police corruption has always been so serious,” he said.
Simpson says there’s a history of cover ups and indifference to corruption and crime by cops.
“Even when the police superintendent does recommend the firing of police officers, the police board overturns his recommendation 63 percent of the time.”
Among the report’s recommendations: replacing the police board with an elected board and requiring officers to report misconduct by colleagues as a way of ending the code of silence.
Jan. 17, 2013 Washington Post
The fate of a married D.C. police officer charged with killing his mistress and their 11-month-old daughter will soon be in the hands of twelve Prince George’s County residents.
Attorneys rested their cases in the trial of Richmond Phillips, who is facing two first-degree murder charges and other related counts, on Thursday morning. Defense attorneys called no witnesses, and Phillips did not testify.
After both sides deliver closing arguments, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., the case will head to the jury.
Prosecutors have said Phillips, 40, shot and killed 20-year-old Wynetta Wright outside a Hillcrest Heights comunity center in May 2011 because he did not want to pay her child support.
The slaying occurred hours before Phillips was to submit a DNA sample that would ultimately prove he was the father of Wright’s daughter, Jaylin Wright.
After killing Wynetta Wright, prosecutors have said, Phillips drove Jaylin in Wynetta Wright’s SUV to a nearby apartment complex and left her in the hot vehicle to die. He then lied to investigators probing her disappearance and death, prosecutors said.
Defense attorneys have acknowledged Phillips lied several times to investigators but said he did so to cover up an affair, not a murder. They have said Phillips met with Wynetta Wright in the hours before she was killed but left her alone in a dangerous area to take another daughter to school.