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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Let The Punishment Fit The Crime . . .

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The outpouring comments calling for a public lynching, to metering out the same cold-blooded execution, in order to save taxpayers the expense of housing two teenagers, who brazenly shot to death a 13-month-old baby, is a very fiery and divisive topic.

One cannot argue that the crime committed by these two teenagers is not heinous, and that the punishment administered should be of equal measure, but our system is one of due process, where an individual is considered innocent until proven guilty.

If we are to subjugate thoughts of retribution, we need to let our justice system, no matter how imperfect we think it to be, run its course, and after all the facts have been presented and examined, whatever verdict and punishment is rendered by the court, is what the accused should have to contend with.

Once we allow ourselves to entertain the notion of dispelling due process and exacting revenge for nefarious acts of violence, are we any better than the perpetrators, when in the guise of being law-abiding citizens, we trample and ignore their rights?

Sherry West was pushing her baby Antonio in his stroller when two teenagers accosted her and demanded money. When she refused and insisted she had no money to give them, the elder of the two, whom she later identified as De’Marquis Elkins, threatened to shoot her, and her baby as well.

West wrestled with her two assailants. Neither could snatch her purse. Miffed by their futile struggle, Elkins allegedly carried out his threat. He shot West in the leg; another bullet grazed her head, and then with depraved indifference shot her baby between the eyes.

Would the outcome have been different if West had just given Elkins and his 15-year-old accomplice, Dominique Lane, her purse?

The coastal city of Brunswick, Georgia is appalled that such a ghastly incident could have occurred in their small close-knit community. Witnesses tipped police that Lane was seen in the backseat of a car driving away from the scene of the shooting.

Police using West’s description that her attackers were African-American teenagers, concentrated their investigation on the surrounding schools’ absentee records, and by going door to door. West identified a mug shot of Elkins out of the twenty-four she looked at, unbeknownst that the police already had him in custody.

Although his aunt, Katrina Elkins, stated that he dined with her at breakfast, which was an hour before the shooting occurred, Brunswick police spokesman, Todd Rhodes, says authorities have sufficient reasons to charge Elkins.

Verdell Hunter characterized her grandson, Lane, as a baby himself, not a baby killer.

West’s mournful depiction of what happened to her and Antonio will no doubt sway public sentiment that our judicial system should be abolished in this particular case.

Derisive comments querying if President Barack Obama had a son, would he likely to be of the same temperament as Elkins, only serves to fuel hatred and propagate racial discord.

There will be no winners in this case.

The parents of Antonio Santiago demand justice. West’s says she can never forgive her baby’s killer. “I hope the shooter dies,” she cried. “A life for a life.”

One can only hope that justice will truly be served.

A long drawn out battle is brewing, with Elkins’ lawyer proclaiming his client’s innocence. Lane’s mother, Brenda Moses, claims that her son is a victim and doesn’t know Elkins.

In the end we should not rush to judgment, but ensure that these are the individuals, who tried to rob a mother and ended up killing her 13-month-old son.

When these allegations are proven in the court of law, and not by the court of public opinion, then by all means let the punishment fit the crime.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

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Forgive Me, Dexter . . .

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If you happened to have read the article that preceded this one (In Search of a Diamond), then you know the events that surrounded my romantic weekend getaway.

What I did not mention since it really had no bearing on the aforementioned article was the events that occurred prior to my wife and I leaving, and how it made me appreciate and spoke volumes about my eldest daughter.

Permit me to provide a little history, to better clarify, exactly what led to the events that transpired on that morning.

I took the entire family on vacation, which consisted of visiting Water Country and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. Prior to us leaving, my wife and I decided to ask our next-door neighbor, to look after our three cats and our resilient pleco every other day.

My daughter wanted her pet hamster, Dexter to be cared by one of her friends. I knew this particular friend of hers, and was hesitant about leaving, Dexter, with her, since she was the owner of two very large dogs.

My daughter insisted that Dexter would be fine, and pleaded with me not to second-guess her decision.

While we vacationed, my daughter was excited about the pictures of, Dexter that her friend sent. We arrived back home at 10:30p.m. on Friday. I wanted to go and pick up, Dexter, but my daughter felt it was too late.

The following morning, my wife and I wanted to leave early to start our romatic weekend getaway. My daughter said that wouldn’t be possible because her friend’s family were not early risers on the weekends. In fact she explained that it was almost impossible to raise them before noon.

I told her that simply would not do. I instructed her to text her friend every half an hour commencing from nine until she received a reply that Dexter could be picked up.

Two hours later, my daughter told me she still had not received a reply. I started thinking the worst. I confided in my wife that perhaps something happened to, Dexter, and that is why our daughter’s friend could not be reached.

Around noon we received word that Dexter could be picked up in thirty minutes. The house was on the corner. I parked slightly before it. I grew impatient since fifteen minutes had elapsed and there was so sign of my daughter.

She finally emerged from the house ten minutes later, empty-handed.  As she approached the car I wondered what fabulous tale would she tell me. I knew the occupants of the house were home, since I had seen my daughter’s friend’s brother departing from the back door.

She got in the car without uttering a single word.  When I queried about, Dexter’s whereabouts, she started crying. I was able to make out through the avalanche of tears, that the friend presented, Dexter, in a closed box.

She told my daughter that sometime around midnight, Dexter somehow had gotten out of his cage and died when her dogs were playing with him.

I was flabbergasted.

I wanted to know why didn’t they inform us earlier. Why wasn’t a phone call made from the morning? Why kind of parents would let their child handle the situation in such a manner?

My daughter said that her friend’s mother had come out and apologized. She also offered to pay for a new hamster.

“Why didn’t you take him?” I demanded.

“I just couldn’t,” she cried. “I don’t want to remember him like that.”

I drove home in disgust. I was fuming at how my daughter’s friend’s parents had handled the situation. To them it was only a hamster . . . something that could easily be replaced with money.

Never mind the pain and anguish my daughter was suffering. Never mind that their daughter had been irresponsible in taking care of a friend’s pet.

My daughter agonized over Dexter’s death for several days.

As for me, it was the proudest I have ever been of my daughter. The hamster was purchased to teach her responsibility. The first one had died from pneumonia because of an open window in her room.

We purchased, Dexter a year later, and counseled her on the need to protect and care for her pet. He had been with us for a full year before this incident happen.

My daughter had grown attached to this simple animal, and although he perished through no fault of her own, she learned an invaluable lesson . . . no amount of money could ever take his place.

So I echo the sentiment of my daughter, forgive me, Dexter . . . I should have never allowed you to be put in harm’s way.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

Left To Die . . .

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It’s every parents’ nightmare, when the child you sent off to college to further their academic endeavors, in order to contribute and have meaningful impact on society is found dead on campus.

Just weeks before she would have graduated from the University of Virginia, Yeardley Love was found face down in a pool of blood, allegedly beaten and left to die by her on-again, off-again, ex boyfriend, George Huguely V.

Shortly before 2:30 am on May 3, 2010, Love’s roommate, accompanied by a friend found her and called 911. Love was unresponsive and declared dead at the scene.

Huguely, whom friends admitted had been on a drinking binge the day before Love’s death, waved his Miranda rights and confessed to police that he kicked in the door leading to Love’s bedroom.

He went on to say that he shook Love, and her head repeatedly hit the wall. Huguely said that he ended the confrontation by pushing Love on the bed, and when he left, all she had was a bloody nose.

The defense contends that Huguely had no intention of killing Love.

The two lacrosse players had been involved in a torrid and acrimonious relationship, which led to Huguely’s lawyer, Francis McQ. Lawrence, claim that Love’s death was an unintended and tragic accident.

Lawrence, no doubt faces an uphill battle in convincing the jury of Huguely’s innocence. His use of the following courtroom tactics only serves to validate Huguely’s guilt:

  1. The chair in which Huguely sits in court is on its lowest setting and makes him look a foot shorter than his lawyer.
  2. Clean-shaven and a more conservative hairstyle. Used to portray Huguely as passive rather than aggressive.
  3. His oversized sports coat and shirt worn to give Huguely the appearance of being much smaller.

These tactics will prove futile however given Huguely’s admission that he kicked in Love’s bedroom door, his subsequent lies about her leaving with her with only a nose bleed, and taking her laptop after their confrontation as a way of forcing her to continue to talk to him.

The preponderance of evidence puts the prosecutors in an enviable position:

  1. Huguely’s own admission that he kicked Love’s door in.
  2. Huguely’s statements shortly after his arrest that he shook Love, and that her head repeatedly hit the wall.
  3. Huguely had two prior run-ins with the law, and was arrested on alcohol related charges.
  4. Members on the lacrosse team that testified that Huguely became aggressive when he was inebriated.
  5. Huguely had fought publicly with Love, weeks before her death.
  6. Huguely had sent threatening emails to Love, for several months regarding infidelity with a teammate of his, on the lacrosse team.

Love’s death was tragic and unfortunate, but as the defense would like us to believe, it was not unintended.

Huguely’s email to Love, “I should have killed you,” validates that this was a premeditated act.

Huguely’s drinking binge the day before Love’s death, gave him false courage to batter the defenseless young woman, abscond with her laptop that contained the incriminating evidence, (which he discarded in the trash) and leave her lying in a pool of blood to die.

As the two-year-old case winds down to a close, hopefully the verdict will provide a modicum of solace for Sharon Love, and the national attention given to her slain daughter will prevent another woman from suffering a similar fate.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

A Matter of Inconvenience . . .

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I have a precocious seven-year-old daughter and a one-year-old Papillon. There were a lot of things on my agenda for this Saturday. I had planned on writing a few articles, writing a couple chapters for the novel I am working on, and promote the other one that was already published.

Needless to say my morning was devoted entirely to the things I wanted to get done. My wife on the other hand made plans unbeknownst to me that was completely different from mine.

My daughter had Taekwondo classes, which began at 10:30 a.m. and the puppy had an obedient class, which started promptly at eleven.

No doubt you could sense my frustration, since I felt my wife could have done both of these tasks. I thought of a myriad of excuses I could use, and how much of an inconvenience it would be to have my plans disrupted.

I often teased my wife that writing is not a spectator sport, and that is best done in the solitude of my den. This line of reasoning never sways her to see my point of view, and experience had taught me the futility of trying again.

I was still a bit perturbed when I arrived at my daughter’s class. I had a few minutes to spare and watched as an assistant put the children through their warm up exercises. My mood quickly improved as I noticed the fluidity in my daughter’s movements.

I wish I could have stayed and watched her some more, but I had to get to the puppy’s obedient class. While waiting for that class to commence, I took out my iPad to catch up on the latest news.

What I read had such a profound effect on me, it completely changed the way I will look at minor family annoyances and inconveniences going forward.

Julianne McCrery, 42, of Irving Texas, felt that her six-year-old son was unfit to be raised by anyone else. Although she characterized her son, Camden Hughes, as brilliant and beautiful, McCreary thought the child was a bit of an inconvenience.

Rather than give her son up for adoption, or perhaps another family member, McCreary suffocated him in a New Hampshire motel and left his body covered in a green blanket alongside a dirt road in Maine.

McCrery was sentenced on January 13, to 45 years in prison.

“I am sorry to have caused the intense pain and suffering to my precious son, Camden” McCrery said. “He did nothing whatsoever to deserve that by my hand, and he was not an inconvenience to me.”

Prosecutor’s said that they had evidence to repudiate McCrery’s claims that she had intended to commit a murder/suicide. They asserted that she planned to live her life after she killed her son.

Hughes’ body was found last May, and set off a nationwide attempt to identify him. While the search was underway, McCrery called her son’s school daily and claimed he was absent due to appendicitis.

McCrery told investigators that she knelt on top her son as he laid face-down on the hotel room floor and covered his mouth as he struggled to get free.

“It’s taken a while for my grief to fully unfold,” McCrery said, “but now it is excruciating.”

How could a mother do this to her own son?

I wondered how McCrery family members, especially her other son, on leave from the Navy, felt at the sentencing.

She simply had to reach out to one of them, and this tragic and senseless killing could have been avoided.

As for me, at the conclusion of my puppy’s obedient training, I drove to pick up my daughter from her Taekwondo class.

The way she rushed into my arms to greet me, I knew that I would never consider taking her to class or the little disturbances as she knocked on the door of my den, to be an inconvenience again.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

A Hero Lost, But Not Forgotten . . .

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$770, and a cheap wristwatch have deprived Peter Figoski’s four daughters from being with him on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The decorated police officer, and devoted father wanted nothing more than to celebrate the coming new year with his daughters. A dream that will go unrealized, and unfilled, largely in part because of the actions of five individuals, and their bungled attempt to rob a marijuana dealer.

Figoski and his partner Glenn Estrada were backing up two other officers responding to a 2 a.m. robbery call at a home located on Pine St., in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. As the first arriving officers were questioning the pistol-whipped drug dealer, and the two suspects, who had duped them into thinking that they were neighbors trying to help; Lamont Pride, 27, and Kevin Santos, 30, hid in a storage room at the front of the basement.

The officers however became suspicious as Nelson Morales, 27, the purported ringleader and nephew of the landlord, and Ariel Tejada, 22, gave very descriptive details about the weapons used in the assault.

As the officers continued to question the trio, Pride and Santos attempted to flee and ran into in Figoski and Estrada. A deadly scuffle ensued, resulting in Pride shooting Officer Figoski in the face.

Officer Estrada hearing the shot broke off his skirmish with Santos, and chased Pride for two blocks, finally subduing and restraining him with Figoski’s handcuffs. Estrada must be commended for showing extraordinary restraint since it would have been easy to exact vengeance for his wounded partner.

Figoski was taken to Jamaica Medical Center, but died shortly thereafter at 7:17 a.m.

A fifth suspect, Michael Velez, 21, perhaps trying to plant the seeds for his own defense, claimed ignorance in the botched burglary attempt. In a jailhouse interview, Velez, stated he was only doing a favor for a friend, and was surprised and shocked when Pride brandished the 9-mm. Ruger.

He further expressed remorse for slain Officer Figoski, and his family. A somewhat dubious sentiment when Velez, for all intents and purposes was in a position to stop the subsequent events by flagging down a police officer or calling 911 as the other four perpetrators proceeded with the home invasion.

What Velez, did however when the Gold Nissan Maxima he occupied  was blocked by an arriving squad car, slipped unseen from the vehicle and walked casually to a nearby bar. He then phoned for a livery cab and asked to be driven to Queens. Police used surveillance video and tracked down Velez, who was found hiding out at his cousin’s house.

Figoski’s daughters: Christine, 20; Caitlyn, 18; Caroline, 16; Corinne, 14; whom he hoped to shield from the depraved world he worked in, can take solace in the fact their father’s killers were caught and will be brought to justice.

A very small consolation for a death that perhaps could have been avoided if, Judge Evelyn Laporte, had not denied a bail request of $2,500 for Lamont Pride, on an earlier drug bust.

Ironically, the gun that killed Detective Figoski (awarded posthumously) was purchased from Dance’s Sporting Goods, in Colonial Heights, Virginia. 21-years-ago, a stray bullet from a gun purchased from the same store, struck and killed 9-month-old Rayvon Jamison while in his walker.

Overwhelming public support and outpouring affection will enable Figoski’s dream that all of his daughters get  a college education, to reach fruition, through the Peter Figoski’s Scholarship Fund, which has amassed $662,000 to date.

A throng of 20,000 misty-eyed officers, relatives, and friends on 12/19/2011 came to pay their respects for a fallen hero.

In a touching a moment, Figoski’s youngest daughters rested their hands on their father’s casket one last time.

Perhaps summoning strength from their father, who was being hailed and saluted as a hero, and wanting nothing more than to trade the accolades for the chance to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with him again.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

Why You Should Dig Two Graves Before Embarking On A Quest For Revenge . . .

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Enraged with the judge’s decision to award temporary custody of their 4-year-old daughter to her husband, Mazoltuv Borukhova decided to take matters into her own hands.

Daniel Malakov, 34, was gunned down at a playground in Forest Hills, Queens as he took his daughter, Michelle, to meet his estranged wife. Dr. Malakov had won custody of Michelle in a bitter court dispute with his wife, and this was supposed to have been a supervised visit.

Dr. Borukhova, 35, an internist, had done everything possible to poison Michelle against her husband, but the child still seemed happier with him. This coupled with her lack of faith in the court system, may have led her, to have him murdered.

Mikhail Mallayev, 51, (Borukhova’s distant relative), pumped three bullets, at close range, into Malakov as the dentist’s horrified daughter looked on.

The price to settle the caustic custody battle between her and her estranged husband, $20,000. Both Borukhova and her hired gunman have denied any involvement in the October 2007 killing. Yet police didn’t have far to look in determining a motive for Malakov’s murder.

Three days before the shooting, Borukhova had lost custody of Michelle during a court-ordered transfer. Distraught over losing her daughter, Borukhova threatened members of Malakov’s family. When her husband’s uncle, Erza Malakov’s, stated that he would help, and that his nephew, would allow her to see Michelle as part of the visitation agreement.

“I don’t need any help anymore. His days are numbered,” the uncle testified, Borukhova shouted. Everything is decided about him.”

Borukhova’s staunch denial about Malakov’s death began to unravel as she was being questioned by police. Detectives were shocked that although her husband was killed 10-15 feet from her, Borukhova claimed not to have heard the shots or seen the killer.

The EMT who had tried to save Dr. Malakov’s life painted an entirely different picture.

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A Reunion for Murder!

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In what would seem almost incomprehensible to fathom, a man drove from Garden City, LI to Towson, MA, with his wife and 11-year-old daughter, to visit their 19-year-old, to commit murder.

Police are baffled and neighbors aghast as to what would have led the NY lawyer to kill himself and his entire family.

William and Betty Parente were your typical affluent suburbanite family.  He was a tax and estate planning attorney, and she a stay-at-home-mom, raising two lovely daughters. Stephanie  the eldest, a sophomore at Loyola College in Baltimore, while Catherine was a six-grader at Garden City Middle School.

Police officials hypothesized based on the evidence in the family’s hotel room that it was a murder-suicide. They have been evasive however as to which parent was the perpetrator, only supplying the media with information that none of the apparent victims were shot or stabbed.

What they know so far is that Stephanie had breakfast with her family at the hotel on Sunday morning, return to her dorm room, where she was seen by friends and never returned. Her friends became worried when Stephanie did not return to study for an important exam on Monday, and called the family’s hotel when they couldn’t reach her by cell phone.

Perhaps the only chance to save her and prevent the father from carrying out this dreadful deed was lost, when Parente indicated to the concerned friends that Stephanie was staying with the family.

What went through Parente’s mind as he drove to reunite the family for death?

Family, friends, neighbors, and police officials are left with puzzling questions and seemingly no answers.

As the community of Garden City, LI and the students of Baltimore’s Loyola College try to cope with this senseless tragedy, they would like the answer to only one question . . .why?

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

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