The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein

Thursday, February 26, 2009

America's Most Wanted 2/28/09

America's Most Wanted, which airs on Fox at 9pm on Saturday nights, will be airing the following cases this weekend:

Devon Russell: Smuggling drugs, weapons and illegal aliens is big business along U.S. shores. In South Florida, federal, state and local law enforcement are taking on smugglers; since 2005, more than 30 innocent men and women have died at sea near Florida's coastline as a result of smuggling. Cops are now searching for a key player in the ring, Devon Russell.

Henry Pierre: Just days after an AMW tipster led the Royal Bahamian Police to suspected smuggler Henry Pierre, reports from the Bahamas say that the accused killer and alien smuggler was set free, but rearrested a short time later. The fugitive's initial release came as a complete surprise to cops in Florida, as U.S. officials were working vigorously to extradite Pierre to face charges on American soil.

Rosa’s Story: Rosa is a composite of several real women, just a few of the 50,000 people a year who are smuggled into the U.S. and treated as slaves. These victims of human trafficking are forced into a variety of exploitative situations including prostitution and hard labor. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 was designed to protect these victims as well as to prosecute human traffickers.

Patricio Sosa: Human trafficking is an awful crime, but for some it's big business -- and the FBI says when the Cadena-Sosa family saw there was money to be made, they jumped right in. Patricio Sosa was one of the ringleaders of an operation that imported women and children from Mexico and forced them into prostitution in Florida, according to agents -- and now law enforcement wants to put the brakes on this alleged trafficker.

Craig Oliver: When AMW last told you about scammer Craig Oliver, nearly a dozen tipsters recognized him as Danny Sullivan, a construction foreman in Phoenix, Ariz. But police say Oliver was able to slip away before the law enforcement dragnet scooped him up, and they need your help to track him down.

Rafael Cadena-Sosa: Like many young men, FBI agents say Rafael Cadena-Sosa went into the family business. Unfortunately, in his case that business was human trafficking and prostitution, reports the FBI. Sosa-Cadena and his brothers were allegedly part of a ring that imported women and children from Mexico and forced them into prostitution.

James Reimer: Cops in Oklahoma are looking for 40-year-old James Joseph Reimer, who they say took off with 14-year-old Deborah Kalai Fourzan; detectives believe Deborah is in danger because before they disappeared, Reimer sent text messages to Deborah soliciting sex.

Carmela Cadena: Imagine being kidnapped from your home country, held captive in the U.S., and forced to work as a prostitute. This is the fate of thousands of women and children who are smuggled into the U.S. every year -- and the FBI says they're kept in line by women like Carmen Cadena, member of a family that's alleged to run a major human trafficking and prostitution enterprise.

Deborah Fourzan: Cops in Tecumseh, Okla. are desperately looking for leads that will help them find 14-year-old Deborah Kalai Fourzan, an Oklahoma teenager who went missing on Feb. 2, 2009 and may be in danger.

Haleigh Cummings: Police in Florida have announced that they do have a sexual predator in custody who lived just a mile from missing 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings. But, investigators say the man had nothing to do with the disappearance.

Adji Desir: Adji Desir, a 6-year-old developmentally disabled Florida boy, has been missing since Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009. Police need your help to bring him home to his family.

Tangena Hussain: On October 2, 2008, 24-year-old Jamrul Hussein was driving to the local mall to pick his girlfriend up. He had her daughter, Tangena Hussain, in the car at the time. On the way to the mall, Jamrul made a quick pit stop at a nearby gas station, but what happened next is a parent's worst nightmare.

Marlon Lopez: Officials say that Marlon Iverzander Lopez has been evading the law for years. With a criminal history involving charges of drug trafficking, fraud, sexual abuse, and molestation, the FBI is looking to put Lopez where he belongs -- behind bars.

Pedro Fajardo: Cops say Pedro Ulloa Fajardo visited his common-law wife on the evening of October 15, 2008 to hash out some differences that had been complicating their relationship. What cops know now is that Fajardo had no intention of mending their relationship -- he intended to end it forever. Now, Fajardo is on the run and police are hot on his trail, but could use your help tracking him down.

Erica Smith Killer: It's been six long years since 14-year-old Erica Smith was murdered in Northern Virginia -- but questions still plague Erica's family. Who is responsible for tearing their family apart, and why? And most importantly, when will they be brought to justice? Cops continue to work Erica's case, hoping a key clue and some old-fashioned detective work may finally bring this case to an end and help Erica's family find peace.

You can also find updates and other cases on their website,
Follow America's Most Wanted on twitter @1800CRIMETV

Thursday, February 19, 2009

America's Most Wanted

This Saturday the America's Most Wanted will be airing the following cases, which you can catch at 9pm on your local Fox Station:

Glen Holmes Jr.: Conroe, Texas Police say Glen Holmes Jr. carjacked Barry Thomas, before fatally shooting him in the back. Holmes then proceeded to hold up the drive-through, demanding tacos to go, before leading cops on a high-speed chase.

Michael Bresnahan: He's accused of breaking into a house in a quaint New England town and raping a 61-year-old retiree. But after a year on the run and a manhunt that included six states, Michael Bresnahan's run from justice has ended. AMW spoke to his alleged victim, police and the tipsters who turned him in on the opposite side of the country, in Oregon.

Unknown Tammy Vincent Killers: Almost 30 years have passed since police were called to an isolated beach 20 miles north of San Francisco to investigate a grisly murder scene that centered around the charred remains of a teenage Jane Doe. For years, cops tried to identify the girl and figure out the events surrounding her death, but it wasn't until AMW lent a helping hand that parts of the puzzle began to fit together. Authorities now know that the murdered girl -- 16-year-old Tammy Vincent -- was the girl embroiled in the middle of a state's case against a sleazy Seattle strip club whose owners, cops believe, had her killed for the things she knew.

Unknown Shannon Paulk Killer: AMW recently teamed up with Pauley Perrette, the star of the prime time crime drama NCIS, to help investigators solve the murders of two young girls: Shannon Paulk in Prattville, Ala., and Raven Jeffries in Detroit. Perrette was touched by Shannon's story because of her own family ties to the Prattville area, so she donated a $10,000 reward to help catch Shannon's killer.

Unknown Raven Jeffries Killer: In August 2006, 7-year-old Raven Jeffries was playing outside of her home in Detroit, Mich., when she was kidnapped. Just days after her disappearance, police say that her burned body was found in a field in a neighboring town. Now, AMW is teaming up with Pauley Perrette from the hit crime drama NCIS to help solve the case. Pauley feels a special bond with Raven's case because her boyfriend, Michael, grew up near where the little girl was abducted. The actress has donated $10,000 reward to help find the person who killed Raven.

Lisa Williamson Killer: Actress Pauley Perrette, from the hit show "NCIS," has helped America's Most Wanted hunt two child killers. Now, she's turned to AMW to ask for help in solving the murder of her friend, Lisa Williamson.

LIVE TO TELL “River’s Edge"




In January of 2000, two young college students were on a peaceful date until the evening took a horrific turn. Stalked, kidnapped, brutalized and both shot in the face at a river’s edge, these teens outsmarted their would-be killer, playing dead to try to stay alive. Now Danielle Keener tells their story in LIVE TO TELL “River’s Edge,” on Saturday, Feb. 21 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

In the second episode of the limited-run, three-episode series, LIVE TO TELL, Keener describes walking by a river near York, Pa. with Dan Zapp, when they were suddenly ambushed by a gunman and forced into his red pickup truck. The young couple begged for their lives, but to no avail. Keener was sexually assaulted and Dan could do nothing to save her.

Holding hands, they were forced at gunpoint down to the riverbank. Keener recalls the chilling moment she heard the first gunshot and saw her boyfriend fall to the ground as blood poured out of his mouth. She describes getting down on her knees before she too was shot. Both were pushed into an icy river.

The couple pretended to be dead as their would-be killer watched them float down the river. Through a combination of grit and luck, they lived long enough to be pulled from the river. Police raced to the hospital to interview the teens. On the brink of death, Dan Zapp wrote out what he remembered of the gunman and gave police the clues they needed to try to find him.

Family, friends and investigators also describe the harrowing search for the would-be killer and the strength of the teens who, in their darkest hours, found the strength to fight death and find justice.

From the producers of “48 Hours Mystery,” each broadcast in the LIVE TO TELL series delivers an unfiltered, first-hand account from extraordinary individuals who came face-to-face with death but refused to give in. Click here to watch a preview.

The series was created by Judy Tygard, and Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer. LIVE TO TELL “River’s Edge,” was produced by Katherine Davis, Michael McHugh, Alan Miller, and Kevin Hayes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Murder of Andrew Burd

Omission, knowingly, intentionally... to read people's comments about the capital murder charge brought against Hannah Overton over the death of Andrew Burd one would assume that the jury was handed a cryptic riddle that left them in such complete confusion they were forced to find Hannah Overton guilty.

I'm not sure what is more annoying, that these people claim the instructions to the jury were faulty and confusing, or that so many of those making these claims haven't even read the actual charge to begin with.

So, here it is. In full, unedited and amazingly lacking the overzealous, confusing language that so many Free Hannah minions claims it has.

Intentionally or knowingly cause the death by causing him to ingest acute toxic levels of sodium, AND OR intentionally or knowingly cause the death of him by omission, failing to provide or seek medical attention. That's not word for word. That is however, the abridged version.

It's pointed out time and time again that perhaps some jurors saw intent here, or intent there. That some perhaps didn't see intent, but believed Hannah Overton knowingly did this, or knowingly failed to do that. If that is their big flashing neon flag they want to wave... they've put their hopes in the wrong issue. No where does it state that they all had to come to the exact same conclusion- just that each one of the 12 people on that jury had to find that at least one part of the charge was true. Clearly, some people don't grasp the concept of the terms "and/ or". Could be both, could be either. How much simplier does it have to get?

Hannah Overton did indeed fail to provide/seek medical attention for Andrew Burd. She waited until four year old Andrew's body began shutting itself down, fighting within itself after being poisoned with enough sodium to kill him, for two hours she did everything imaginable- except seek the medical treatment that he needed. That he deserved. And because of that omission- Andrew is dead.

And Hannah is where she belongs, rightfully convicted of capital murder.

Friday, February 13, 2009

America's Most Wanted

America's Most Wanted airs at 9pm on your local Fox station, Saturday night... tune in this weekend to see the following case:

Sarah Pender: Less than two hours after AMW viewers saw Sarah Pender on the Top Ten Fugitives of 2008 show on Dec. 20, 2008, a quick-witted tipster went straight to authorities after recognizing her. Chicago Police wasted no time on following up on the tip, just in time to catch Pender as she was packing her bags to take off.

Jose Perez: In December 2004, Ingrid Perez was living with her father and three brothers in Miami Beach, Florida, until the night cops say Ingrid's father - Jose Antonio Perez - sexually assaulted her.

Jesus Duran: He was a Mexican-educated Texas schoolteacher, but cops say Jesus Duran crossed the line when he began inappropriately touching students.

Pedro Farjado: Cops say Pedro Ulloa Fajardo went to his wife's home on the evening of October 15, 2008 to hash out some differences that had been complicating their relationship. What cops know now is that Fajrado had no intention of mending their relationship -- he intended to end it forever.

Haleigh Cummings: Cops say missing girl Haleigh Cummings' father and his 17-year-old girlfriend have voluntarily taken polygraphs, but police aren't releasing results. Searchers from more than ten agencies continue to scour Satsuma, Fla. for 5-year-old Haleigh by land, sea and air, and cops say members of Texas Equusearch plan to begin a search for the girl Friday.

Unknown Rory Forehand Killer: While attending a Harlem support group over the death of his sister, Helen Hill, Jake found that there were countless other families who suffered the same horrible pain. That's why he sought out the help of AMW, again, to find the person who murdered a man he'd learned so much about but never even met.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Not Yet Forgotten, The Murder of Joy Hayward

In the early morning of Feb 12, 2004, Joy Hayward checked into a motel after getting into an argument with her boyfriend whom she was visiting in Chester Pa. While Joy had checked in around 1:30 am, for unknown reasons she left the hotel and waited nearly 90 minutes before she headed to her room for the first time.

During those 90 minutes, Joy's whereabouts and actions are unknown. There are no witness sightings of her during that time, no phone calls- nothing to leave a clue as to what went on.

What we do know is that the desk clerk at Days Inn has given statements that after arriving back at the hotel around 3 am, Joy spoke to the desk clerk for a moment, before getting into an elevator to head to her room. The desk clerk has also stated that an unknown black man appeared to follow Joy into the elevator. Soon after, Joy called the front desk insisting she needed help. The phone line went dead, and the desk clerk simply ignored the plea for help.

. The next day it was discovered that she had been murdered in her hotel room. The hotel cleaning staff found her body in the bathtub at around 4:00pm on the 12th. She was thought to have been dead for 12 hours. Police investigating the scene said that the beds were made with her clothes neatly folded on one of them. There were Newport and Marlboro light cigarette butts found floating in water in the ice bucket. Her cell phone was missing as was another cell phone that belonged to her boyfriend Mike. Mike told police that she had taken both cell phones that night because she was mad and didn't want him to call her.

The investigation of Joy's murder has never been completed. There are no suspects, no witnesses and from what I've been able to gather- little evidence that anyone other than Joy's family and friends is even interested in solving the case. Her loved ones are hoping to change that- and are taking their cause to the internet is hopes that someone out there might be able to give them the answers they so clearly need.

Please take a moment, pretend that this is your daughter, your sister, your loved one- and read the following links on Joy's case.

Joy Hayward

Who killed Annapolis native Joy Hayward?

Joy Patricia Hayward- fr: CrimeShadowNews

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Murder by Omission

In the course of researching Andrew Burd's death, and the trial of Hannah Overton that followed- it seems the biggest feat to overcoming common misunderstandings on the case is to deal with the actual charges against Hannah Overton. Most people seem to accept the fact that while in the care of the Overton's, Andrew did indeed suffer abuse. But in disagreeing with the conviction they point only to the idea that Hannah didn't abuse Andrew that day with the intention of killing him, and because they believe that- there is a leap they can not make to justify the murder charges.

To best explain why the conviction is just, we really have to look closely at the capital murder charge against Hannah Overton.

Capital Murder, according to the Texas penal code:

(a) A person commits an offense if he commits murder as defined under Section 19.02(b)(1) and:
(1) the person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and who the person knows is a peace officer or fireman;
(2) the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, or obstruction or retaliation;
(3) the person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration;
(4) the person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;
(5) the person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another:
(A) who is employed in the operation of the penal institution; or
(B) with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination;
(6) the person:
(A) while incarcerated for an offense under this section or Section 19.02, murders another; or
(B) while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for an offense under Section 20.04, 22.021, or 29.03, murders another;
(7) the person murders more than one person:
(A) during the same criminal transaction; or
(B) during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct; or
(8) the person murders an individual under six years of age.
(b) An offense under this section is a capital felony.
(c) If the jury or, when authorized by law, the judge does not find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of an offense under this section, he may be convicted of murder or of any other lesser included offense.

Under Section 19.02 (b)(1), Murder is defined as intentionally OR knowingly causing the death of an individual.

Capital murder requires that a person acts intentionally OR knowingly. Most people are only aware of intentionally and do not realize that capital murder can also be accomplished by only acting knowingly. In other words, intentionally is not required for capital murder.

But, let's start with intentionally. When most people hear the words "intentionally" they think it requires "malice aforethought" or pre-planning. This is not the true definition of intentionally in the State of Texas. Intentionally can be spur of the moment. Did Hannah wake up that morning with intent to kill Andrew? No, but she wasn't required to under Texas law. She could have formulated the intent in a moment of rage. Did she intentionally hand him a lethal dose of Zatarain's? Most likely not. But again, it's not required.

That could be the end of the case, except that Hannah was also charged with Capital Murder by omission. In other words, Hannah intentionally OR knowingly caused Andrew's death by failing to seek medical care. The "by omission" part comes into play because after the fact, after she handed out a lethal dose of sodium, Hannah Overton intentionally OR knowingly withheld medical treatment.

Again, Texas Penal Code covers this in Chapter 6, Culpability Generally.

person commits an offense only if he voluntarily engages in
conduct, including an act, an omission, or possession.
(b) Possession is a voluntary act if the possessor knowingly
obtains or receives the thing possessed or is aware of his control
of the thing for a sufficient time to permit him to terminate his
(c) A person who omits to perform an act does not commit an
offense unless a law as defined by Section 1.07 provides that the
omission is an offense or otherwise provides that he has a duty to
perform the act.

Hannah Overton had a duty to act by providing medical care for Andrew because she was Andrew's adoptive parent/ guardian.

We're looking at (c) in the above penal code, which describes the act of omission as defined by Section 1.07. That section pertains to intentional:

(28) "Intentional" is defined in Section 6.03
(Culpable Mental States). '


(34) "Omission" means failure to act.

So, we go to Section 6.03 of the Texas Penal Code:


(a) A person acts intentionally, or with intent, with respect to the nature of his conduct or to a result of his conduct when it is his conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the result.
(b) A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to the nature of his conduct or to circumstances surrounding his conduct when he is aware of the nature of his conduct or that the circumstances exist. A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to a result of his conduct when he is aware that his conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result.

Remember, capital murder can be accomplished by intentionally OR knowingly.Knowingly is a lesser mental state than intentionally.

Now, to put this in layman's terms reflective of the case:

Hannah Overton is angry with Andrew. He's been, in her mind, causing trouble by being hungry all day. His punishment is a dose of seasoning that will make him uncomfortable, thirsty and maybe even a little ill. Only, unlike past times, this time Hannah hands out a lethal dose- too much sodium for his malnourished body to handle. As Andrew begins to suffer the effects of the toxin which is consuming his body it becomes evident that something horrible is wrong with him. He begins vomiting, his body attempting to force the toxins out. For nearly two hours the poisons wreak havoc on his four year old body. Hannah is not oblivious to his medical condition, rather she reacts to it by calling friends, her husband, her church members. She even referenced her medical books looking for information on shock. Yet, despite her growing concern, she doesn't call 911. She doesn't rush him off to the hospital. Instead, she waits for her husband to return home, continues making calls and finally, two hours later takes him to an Urgent Care facility.

Now, some will say that Hannah lacked the medical training needed to understand the dire condition Andrew was in, but she clearly KNEW he needed medical attention, because she attempted to provide him treatment at her home. She evidently at that moment had enough faith in her experiences to know that he NEEDED medical assistance, but yet refused to 911 or take him to the hospital.

As stated, Texas criminal law establishes a belief that certain individuals have a legal duty to provide aid to certain persons. It makes them criminally liable when they fail to preform such duties. Hannah's OMISSION to seek medical treatment, her failure to provide medical treatment, to Andrew resulted in his death, she was bound by law to assure that he received medical treatment, and her willful failure to do so in a timely matter was the deciding factor in his death. For a much better understanding of how this is reflected in the Overton case, I strongly suggest you read Homicide: Legal Aspects - Introduction.

Friday, February 06, 2009




Marine Sgt. Todd Sommer, 23, seemed to be in peak physical condition before he suddenly collapsed and died in February of 2002. The official cause of death was listed as cardiac arrhythmia, but to one NCIS agent, something about the case seemed a little too familiar.

Prior to that fatal day, Todd had complained of severe stomach pains and nausea, information that led NCIS to order a rarely performed test on some of Todd’s tissue samples. The results, prosecutors said, proved that Todd Sommer was the victim of a lethal dose of arsenic. And only one person had both motive and opportunity – his wife, Cynthia.

Although authorities never uncovered direct proof that Cynthia purchased the deadly powder or poisoned her husband, prosecutors believed Cynthia’s questionable behavior in the aftermath of Todd’s death still gave them plenty of ammunition against her. The military police officer who drove her to the hospital recalled that she never shed a tear, and instead of being in a hurry to get to Todd, she asked if they could stop for cigarettes. Cynthia also called an accountant a few hours after his death and within days was trying to collect the 250 thousand dollars from his life insurance policy. She then partied in Mexico with friends, had sex with several Marines who served with Todd and bought herself breast implants within weeks of her husband’s death. Cynthia’s actions, prosecutors said, were not those of a typical grieving widow.

In January of 2007, Cynthia Sommer was convicted of Todd’s murder. But did she actually poison her husband, or was she being judged for her scandalous behavior? Usually a verdict means the end of a case, but for Cynthia Sommer, the biggest surprise was yet to come.

Correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports the dramatic new developments on 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "An Invisible Enemy," Saturday, Feb. 7 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. This broadcast is produced by Marcie Spencer and Gayane Keshishyan. Paul Ryan is the senior producer. Al Briganti is the executive editor. Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.

Editors' Note: CBS News 48 HOURS MYSTERY broadcasts are now available on iTunes.

America's Most Wanted

I was a little late to my inbox, so I sadly missed the special announcement that America's Most Wanted was airing on Fox tonight, rather than tomorrow night as usual. In case you missed it, or if you were lucky enough to catch it and were looking for more information- the following cases aired:

Jesus Canales: Family members tell America's Most Wanted that Lucy Preciado was tired of her lazy husband fighting and mistreating their children, and that she was moving out of their home. But he refused to let her go, and cops say he killed her right in front of their kids.

Suspected Mamadou Barry Killers: America's Most Wanted has worked to solve some of the coldest cases in America, but one murder investigation would lead cops to seven other unsolved slayings. Right now, watch this week's five-part online series going behind the scenes with an exclusive look at the captures produced by AMW's Evan Marshall. Tonight, see the full story on America's Most Wanted in a special Friday edition.

Benjamin Martin: The LAPD has spent months searching for the person who doused a beloved homeless man with gasoline and set him on fire. On January 22, 2009, police arrested 30-year-old Benjamin Mathew Martin for the murder of John McGraham.

Reginald Peters: Peters was recently spotted in the Charlotte, N.C. area. Cops in North Carolina say he is wanted on child pornography charges and has removed his tracking device and disappeared.

Unknown Carvell Baker Killer: Cops in West Los Angeles are trying to piece together a murder mystery involving a homeless man and the man who shot him in cold blood. Luckily, authorities were able to get surveillance video of the murderer before and after the incident, and they hope that the public can help identify a killer.

All-Star Kickoff: America's Most Wanted is once again asking the public to help give special recognition to the police, firefighters, EMTs and other first-responders who dedicate themselves to protecting us.

It's all in the editting...

When I was much younger, I found myself in a position where I wanted something from someone who wasn't very eager to cave to my request. In a moment of 18 year old brilliance, I realised all I really had to do was get them to agree to my wishes, with actually knowing they were agreeing. Armed with a list of questions I knew were likely to get me lengthy answers, and a video camera- I took it upon myself to "produce" the desired answer. Using their answers, and my editing skills- it was only a matter of minutes before they were "obliging" my requests.

I suppose, looking back now- my actions were quite dishonest. But- sadly, I'm not the only one in the world who has used such antics in order to produce the results they most desire.

The news media, ever interested in rating, often uses the power of editing to accomplish this same sort of trickery. We've all seen it.. an interview cut at just the right moment, a question posed at just the right time- with a camera and a lack of proper supervision- almost any person could take an interview and chop it enough so that it seems someone is saying something they aren't.

When Andrew Burds case first came across my path, I did what I always do, I started looking for background in the case. While I always want to believe people when they approach me, I've been burned a time or two- someone contacts me on a case and I jump in head first only to later find that the facts weren't as clear as I'd been told. I've learned to check out a case as much as possible before claiming a side... and so I spent a few days closely looking at everything on Hannah Overton's conviction that I could find. That included watching and rewatching video's of the 20/20 interviews that are posted on YouTube. Below is part three of a three part series posted by a youtube member (remind me later that I wanted to talk about this particular member, and his role in all of this)

I share this video, because I want you to pay special attention to the jurors. The ones everyone touts as clear evidence that Hannah Overton was wrongly convicted- the ones that everyone claims didn't understand the charges and therefore couldn't have given a fair, legal verdict in this case.

I'll be the first to admit, based solely on the 20/20 CLIPS of their interviews, it seems almost as if there could, perhaps, maybe be something uneasy about this case. But- that's just based on the clips of interviews, which brings me back to that story- where I was able to manipulate a video in order to produce the results I wanted.... I mean, if I could do it- anyone could, right?

Still, without actually talking to a member of the jury, it's almost impossible to know what really happened, what parts of the interview the rest of the world wasn't allowed to see.

I hope that you all will forgive me, you see- I blog. I don't interview. Which means that the following interview is probably not my best work. But- it is completely unedited. And, hopefully, it will at least START to answer some questions about the jury. I'm hoping there will be more questions and answers- feel free to offer suggestions on what you'd like to have asked- but for now....

My interview with Dora Santos....

Just for starters here are a couple easy questions. It might be repetitive of what you've already told me, but it'll be easier to get a direct answer, and post that than attempt to subtract one from what you've already given me.

1)Some people are going to wonder why you're interested in talking about the case, what your motivation is. Could you explain it to us?

First of all i would like to say I was never paid by 20/20 for my interview nor ever reimbursed for my childcare .....I was the one who searched for lilo and voluntarily offered to interview because I feel her website speaks what the others do not .I believe that justice was served in the case of Andrew people do not know that hannah chose the capital murder charge in exchange for the other charges dropped. I look at pictures of andrew and think of a child who has no voice , no family. he had a legal team that he did not pay for who i saw first hand wiping there tears not wanting to cry as they spoke of andrew . Serving on this trial took almost a month of my life a month at the end i met someone who didnt have anyhting but a big heart who dreamed of having a forver family . I think of the many children who die in the system , I belive that if i can tell Andrews story and Influence 1 more person I have made a difference . I believe that God has been here all along for Andrew I have his picture in my phone to remind me that . Andrew was a good kid not what the nation has put him to be.. Andrew is no longer on this earth it seems nobody mourns him it makes me sad how over time people just forgot about him.

2. After serving on the jury for Hannah Overton's trial, you did an interview with ABC's 20/20. In clips of that interview that were shown, it seems that there were questions as to whether the jury really thought Hannah Overton was guilty. Do you believe, based on the evidence at trial, that she willfully refused him prompt medical attention that could have saved his life?

We were in the studio 2 hours as if we were being investigated for a crime.. the producer was very aggressive repeating the same questions over and over . Alot of the interviews were edited , Dr Cortez stated that It was a punishment gone wrong That part did not show The interview of Dr cortez was about 30 minutes .alone im not sure of the actual time he interviewed, I was asked if I believed that hannah woke up with the thought of killing Andrew I said that I did not beliecve it was a plan... I told them that the cajun spice was something used as punishment over time and that afternoon the punishment went a bit out of hand . Hannah in fear went to her neighbor to drop her other son so she can try to help him so she would not take him to the hospital and be questioned and accused of abuse , The day the show aired the producer was aware of what she did she never returned my phonecalls. she had all her messages answered by someone else she didnt even text nor call back . 2 hours of interview condensed to 2 minutes. I was later told the show already had chosen a side and they wanted a story to boost their ratings regardless of the cost, During the trial I saw how andrew was slandered I felt helpless. i cried as I looked as his pictures . When a producer for 20/20 came to me wanting to know more of andrews life and wanted to know my opinon. I interviewed because I wanted the nation to know how full of life andrew was ,,,,, he was the all american kid.. his favorite action hero was spiderman ,,, he loved mc donalds not the monster people made him out to be . I believe that if Andrew would have been given medical attention sooner he would still be here today... like i answered on 20/20 ( it was edited )" we will never know " . If andrew would have gotten medical attention immediately his chances would have been much better of surviving but of course " we will never know"

3)In an email to me, you stated you believe that Hannah Overton is where she belongs- based on the evidence you saw and heard at the trial, what makes you so sure that the verdict was correct?

We did not take this lightly I at the beggining on the trial was convinced she was inoccent . I saw the exxagerated comments made about andrew, We actually created a timeline based on phone records and witness testinony .We heard how everyone ate their ice cream cones at mcdonalds while he looked on thinking maybe someone would give him some of theirs . We saw andrews plywood bed , The barbequed sheet . many would not care too much about it but for a child who has nothing that sheet was 1 of the few things he had. Many of our children have so much that these things are taken for granted . when we all agreed on the verdict there was a moment of silence and tears came out of everyone I am not one who will cry . I went to restroom and cried a good 2 minutes because it was hard to send a mother of 5 children to prison but it was harder for Andrew when he agonized for hours fighting for his life . Andrew suffered for hours as doctors tried everyhing in there power to save him . I cannot stress enough the fact she chose that sentence in exchange for the other charges to be dropped why didnt the media write about this !!! Dr Rotta who gave his time about three days ( he was not paid ) gave complete explanations to all the questions we had as well as the defense . He went though every possible scenario. The other dr ( Paid i want 2 say 500 dollars an hour please correct me if im wrong ) that came to testify for the defense was not able to give a complete answer... " It could happen" was not the answer this doctor was not able to identify Andrews body parts. she only viewed the pictures once which was that same day well alot could happen . I dont believe there was anything else those marks could have been .. I have never looked back and regretted that I based on evidence made this decision . Maybe if andrew were alive and had the same access to money we would have Andrew Bumper stickers. t-shirts I would have donated money if it would bring andrew back.!!!!

4)Hannah Overton has appealed the conviction, basically claiming the instructions to the jury were not clear. Was there any confusion on court instructions to the jury? Did anyone on the jury appear to not understand the charges, as they were presented, against Hannah?

We read the instruction and discussed the charges we took turns reading it. Believe it or not we all became very close we were all open as far as asking the meaning of things we all took votes and discussed why we believed on that decision we shared everyting we read and saw in the pictures , we discussed witness testimony we all were involved in the discussion . everyones voice was heard we were like a team and respected everyones decision . the charge was on the middle of the table we all had acess to it and reffered to it . we all agreed on ommission ... however many of us also saw intent .. she intentionally withheld medical attention knowlingly that without it would have killed him

5) Is there anything about the case that the public may not have witnessed, that you would like to share to help explain your choice to convict Hannah?

we saw hundreds of pictures one of them a spice container on what looked like a bookshelf in a hallway I held one of andrew toys in my hand it looked like it had been fixed it was painted over like with touch up paint.. We had 2 contractors who stated the wood sample admitted into evidence was not the wood from the plywood bed because of the grooves not matching the picture, the wood was a different type than in the picture. they went along and had us look at all the pictures of the bed and compared to the sample ... it was not the wood.. the defense was practically squatting waiting to object to whatever was said about andrew . We saw all the pictures of andrew . the people who spoke the good things about andrew like his previous fostermom... he loved to eat pizza ... he did not like spicy food. when he was with the overtons he was not allowed to do everything the other kids did there was a testinony from her sister in law she said something like " andrew is trying to get to me "

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

In the name of justice, or despite it?

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and make a small confession. I have family members deeply involved in the justice system. And, even friends who have been known to juggle a case or to in court. I myself have sat in a court room a time or two. But, sadly never as a member of a jury. Not that I haven't tried- I've called and volunteered to be a juror, I've questioned a million court employees on why I've never been called. I've even winked at a judge or two in passing, just hoping that they'd see the "willing potential juror" look plastered all over my face. It's been to no avail. My summons has never arrived.

I jest about jury duty, but in truth it is no joke. It's an obligation each of us has to victims, to society and even to the accused. Jury duty is a fundamental principal that is tightly bond to our justice system. The legal system is based on a belief that every defendant is entitled to a jury of their peers- an impartial selection of the community who is responsible for weighing the evidence, and based on facts of law making a verdict.

An impartial panel of our peers.

Some people seem to have forgotten this small detail. But, it's right there in the
Sixth Amendment - Rights of Accused in Criminal Prosecutions

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
An impartial jury. Not inclining toward or actively taking either side in a matter under dispute, Free from bias in judgment.

That's a huge standard to live up to. Being impartial. Especially when you consider that it only takes seconds to log onto the internet- and find details about a case. When you consider that all too often, cases are tried in the media long before they ever make it to a court of law.

And yet, we must seek to ensure that the process of justice in the courts is upheld- we have to support the notion that an impartial jury can be found, and can faithfully hear the evidence, and weigh it against the charges of the accused.

Of course, doing that might just get a little hard, especially when you're looking for potential jurors in Corpus Christi.

The Free Hannah movement gained support from other local churches and pastors, who with Carver last year formed a nonprofit, In the Interest of Justice, with the goal of educating the public about the judicial system, biblical ethics, local elections and the rights and responsibilities of jurors.

No matter what happens in Overton's appeal, In the Interest of Justice is a lasting effect of her case, one which organizers say would make the legal system -- the same system they feel failed Overton -- more equitable.

"In order to reform the system, it's got to be through the education of jurors," Carver said.

I can not personally begin to imagine the ethical questions that will arise from a Church- who has actively and aggressively attempted to brow beat the justice system in order to "free" one of their own- teaching jurors about the justice system. The one they believe is so full of "errors".

One has to wonder what the relationship with this more equitable jury will be, given the legal hurdles that surround the whole idea of attempting to influence a jury through any means other than presenting evidence and argument in court, including conversations about the case outside the court, offering bribes, making threats, or asking acquaintances to intercede with a juror--- I should mention, that last part of the sentence, happens to be the legal definition of jury tampering.

Thankfully, we have Hannah Overton's pastor around to help clarify just what the problem currently is with juries.
"It helped me understand what prosecutors and what the defense do to juries," Carver said. "If you have one juror who knows what proper evidence is and what their rights are and responsibilities are, one juror can rescue a jury from their mistakes."

Proper evidence? Rights and responsibilities? According to who? I mean, forgive me if I'm way out on a limb here, but I have sat in on more than a few court cases, and I can respectfully say that I recall the judges in those cases doing a pretty good job of giving instructions to the jury on their responsibilities. In fact, I believe that the Jury Rules mentioned by the State of Indiana are reflected almost perfectly by every other court in the US. And include a section on Jury Instruction:

The court shall read appropriate final instructions, providing each juror with written instructions before the court reads them. Jurors shall retain the written instructions during deliberations. The court may, in its discretion, give some or all final instructions before final arguments, and some or all final instructions after final arguments.

Perhaps though this just isn't the sort of "instruction" the Calvary Church is hoping to teach.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Andrew Overton... and the excuses

Andrew Burd, was a rambunctious happy child. He'd lived with his biological mother until chil services removed him from the home due to neglect. His mother, who is reported to have had drug problems couldn't care for Andrew, so he was placed with a foster mother- Sharon Hamil. During the capital murder trial of Hannah Overton, Mrs. Hamil was asked:

How would you describe his disposition?

She answered:

Happy. He was always happy. He was always happy. I didn't find him to have a bad disposition. If he were corrected, he was like any other child. He didn't like it.
Then she was asked about his health.

Was Andrew healthy?

Yes, yes, he was.

And as part of your duties as a foster parent, ddo you have to take him for healthy child wellness examinations?

Yes. And also he was on WIC, where he got a check every six months, I think. So he was always healthy.

Did he appear to you to have any type of mental retardation?

No, no, not at all.

Did he appear to you to be intelligent?


Did he appear to you to exhibit any signs of autism?


Did he appear to you to have any kind of mental issue, mental disability?

No, no.

Sharon Hamil had taken in over 300 children in her time as a foster parent, many of those children were taken from abusive homes, and it's likely that some had mental disabilities. Both her son and daughter in law work with children with disabilities. It should be apparent that she, better than most, could tell the difference between a child with special needs, and a healthy, happy, well adjusted little boy.

But the portrait of Andrew that Sharon Hamil shares, isn't the same that the defense would like to paint. They want you to see this child- this four year old boy with no documented health - physical or mental- issues was so disturbed, so completely out of control that he went on a rampage and ate enough salt laced seasoning that he killed himself.

This child:

Did this to himself:

That is the explanation that Hannah Overton's lawyers want you to believe. That her church has paraded out to the mass media as the Gospel Truth.

And the other details of the case? The ones that seem almost impossible to explain away?

Andrew's bed, a sheet of plywood with a video camera pointed directly at it? They'd like you to believe that it was only that way for a moment. Andrew, the four year old boy who'd been potty trained, who wasn't a child with mental issues, wasn't prone to acting out during the 18 or so months he'd lived with Sharon Hamil... he'd given to willingly soiling himself. In fact, according to Hannah it was so bad that she was sure he was doing it to spite her. Of course, these reports come out later- not during conversations with case workers, not during conversations with doctors- but later, as an excuse to explain the rough plywood bed labeled as Andrews bed.

The defense would like to you believe that the sheets, which had been on a mattress, which had at some point been on the sheet of plywood, had been disposed of. Andrew's special sheets. His favorite ones with super hero's on them. They'd gotten so dirty because of his soiling himself- the only reasonable way to 'take care of the sheets' was to burn them. Some parents might wash them. Others might throw them away. And, a few out there might actually burn dirty sheets... but I wonder- how many would burn soiled- we're talking soiled as in the child had had a bowel movement in them- on their grill. Presumably, the same grill they cooked their food on.

And, then there is the excuse about how the kids said pepper, and everyone but the Overton's misunderstood. Because you see, the family drank Dr. Pepper, and so the kids when talking- became confused and said their parents gave them pepper. Not the burning, spicy pepper you use when cooking, but the drink. Yes... the kids must have been confused during those interviews with investigators, the kids must have been talking about Dr Pepper. After all- as Issac Overton stated- it's spicy and burns your mouth.