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From the monthly archives: "September 2014"
Joshua Komisarjevsky

Joshua Komisarjevsky

Joshua Komisarjevsky was charged along with Steven Hayes in the horrific 2007 home invasion, robbery, assault, rape and murder of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, 17 year-old Hayley and 11 year-old Michaela, in Cheshire, Connecticut. Husband and father Dr. William Petit was severely beaten but survived his wounds. In separate trials, both Komisarjevsky and Hayes were found guilty and sentenced to death. We have weighed in on this case previously. But here’s the new wrinkle:

Now, Mr. Komisarjevsky is appealing his sentence and seeking a new trial.

Here’s why this move makes us sick.

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Baltimore Ravens Fans

Baltimore Ravens Fans

A female Baltimore Ravens football fan: “I still support Ray Rice. I just don’t believe one action or mistake should define a person.”

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith: “Ray is still a great guy. He’s a model man. He made a huge mistake, but he’s still a great person. Take away those two minutes of his life and he’s a great model citizen. He’s a great person.”

These are not new arguments. We’ve heard them many times before. Only the setting was different.

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Ray Rice

Ray Rice

RENAULT: I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

The croupier comes out of the gambling room and up to Renault.

CROUPIER – handing Renault a roll of bills: Your winnings, sir.

RENAULT: Oh. Thank you very much.

Anyone who remembers this classic exchange from Casablanca will know how we feel about the National Football League’s response to the domestic violence affair involving (now former) Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Rice. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was shocked, shocked to discover what had happened inside the elevator at Atlantic City’s Revel Hotel and Casino once he viewed the surveillance tape he had never requested that was supplied by TMZ Sports. When other tapes merely showed Rice dragging the inert body of his fiancé (and now wife) Janay Palmer out of the elevator, he had no idea that he had just decked her cold before the doors opened. That was why he initially gave Rice only a two-game suspension rather than the indefinite one he just handed down. Maybe he needs some pointers from one of his own eagle-eyed referees.

With all that has been written about this case, a couple of things occur to us, and they are all pretty straightforward.

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John . . . and Jack?

John . . . and Jack?

In October 1988, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of London’s Whitechapel murders, John Douglas was asked to appear on a two-hour live television special entitled “The Secret Identity of Jack the Ripper.” The program, broadcast from Los Angeles and hosted by British actor, writer and director Peter Ustinov, presented a number of the known suspects and presented evidence to help several experts evaluate the best candidate.

Several of the candidates suggested included the “sexy” ones: Royal physician Sir William Gull and Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Edward Albert, Duke of Clarence. But John ended up focussing on a Polish Jewish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski, who ended his life in an insane asylum.

This past week, the British Mail newspaper announced that a shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim, has been linked by mitochondrial DNA to  Aaron Kosminski.

How about that?

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The FBI Crime Lab 1924 - 1935

The FBI Crime Lab 1924 – 1935

Recently, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General issued a 146-page report detailing years of bad forensic work and unreliable results by the much-vaunted FBI Laboratory. Included in the enumeration were three cases that resulted in execution based on FBI Lab-presented evidence. About 60 other death row cases are now in limbo.

“Failures of this nature undermine the integrity of the United States’ system of justice and the public’s confidence in our system,” the report stated. Astoundingly, the Inspector General recommended notifying 2,900 defendants whose cases were reviewed by the investigative task force!

A few days later, a District of Columbia Superior Court judge vacated the conviction of a man who had spent twenty-six years in prison for a murder conviction based on an erroneous analysis of a hair sample by the FBI Lab. The U.S. Attorney’s office has undertaken an extensive review of all local convictions tied to FBI hair matches.

So what can, and should, be done to address this shocking and unacceptable situation?

We say: Establish an independent national forensic laboratory.

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