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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

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 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

Is There a Cover-Up in the Death of Khan?

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11-year-old Shanno Khan has died, after allegedly being made to stand in the hot sun for more than two hours with a brick on each shoulder.

Although there are conflicting versions as to what led to the corporal punishment of Khan, at the ND Primary School in Narela, North Delhi, one thing is abundantly clear . . . the world’s outrage over this inhumane and barbaric form of discipline and the Delhi Government reluctance to act.

The alleged incident occurred on April 16, when Shanno failed to recite the English alphabet in class. The irate teacher allegedly slammed Shanno’s head against a table and made her stand in the sun for over two hours. She eventually fainted and was found unconscious by her younger sister, who attends the same school.

After being told of the incident by their younger daughter, Khan’s parents rushed Shanno to Maharshi Valmiki Hospital. Shanno’s condition started deteriorating on Thursday afternoon, and she was transferred to the Pediatric ICU of the Lok Nayak Hospital.

Although Renuka Chowdhury, the Union Minister for Women and Child Welfare promised justice would be done, the response of the Delhi Police has been anything but swift. They claimed that they have not received Khan’s autopsy report.

Atul Katiyar, (Outer Delhi) Deputy Police Commissioner stated that police still have not received the report, although senior doctors at Maulana Azad Medical College are emphatic that they conducted the postmortem examination and submitted the report to police on Sunday.

What was the real cause of Khan’s death?

Khan’s parents and New Delhi officials differed on what cause the 11-year-old girl’s death.

The postmortem examination suggest that Khan, who had a history of respiratory illness, developed complications after she was allegedly forced to “sit like a hen” with two bricks atop her shoulders in the hot sun.

The report also intimates that the delay caused by her mother’s attempt, to first ward off evil spirits, which leads senior police officials to believe that may have contributed to Khan’s death.

Khan’s parents however are enraged that no charges have been brought against the teacher, who punished their daughter by having her stand out in the sun.

Why no one intervened as the child’s nose bled, when she vomited, and finally lost consciousness under the weight of bricks on each shoulder in the sweltering heat, is what Khan’s parents would like to know.

Who are we to believe?

“The child was admitted in with severe seizure and her condition further deteriorated before she slipped into a coma. She was shifted in critical condition,” said Dr. KK Deuri, medical superintendent of Maharshi Valmiki Hospital.

Although doctors stated that the cause of death was due to an epileptic attack, which was triggered by the corporal punishment inflicted on Khan by her teacher, no official charges have been brought against Manju (26).

As the events surrounding her death unfold . . . has Shanno Khan’s fate already been decided by New Delhi officials, who would rather let this incident slip quietly out of the public’s consciousness as opposed to excavating the truth, and risks exposing for the world to see, that the barbaric and inhumane tactics used by teachers to discipline their students, is just part of a normal school day.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

 

Why Leave the Children to Strangers?

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Did a supervisor’s comments lead a despondent, disillusioned, and distraught Ervin A. Lupoe, to kill his wife and five young children before taking his own life as well?

The answer to that may never be fully known.

Police were alerted on January 28 by KABC-TV, when the station received a fax letter and a simultaneous call from a deranged person threatening to commit suicide. Arriving at the home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Wilmington, police found the body of Lupoe in an upstairs room with his daughters: 8-year-old Brittney and twin 5-year olds Jasseley and Jaszmin. His wife, Ana, was found in an adjacent bedroom with the other set of twins: 2-year-old boys, Benjamin and Christian.

Investigators found a revolver by Lupoe’s side and a suicide note nearby. In the note, Lupoe indicated that there was an ongoing business dispute between himself and officials at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center.

Kaiser Permanente said that they are cooperating fully with the police investigation and issued the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the deaths of the Lupoe family,” the company said. “Our sympathies are with all their extended family and friends at this time. We are also providing resources and support to our employees who are affected by this tragedy.”

Could this tragedy have somehow been averted?

Early Tuesday, KABC-TV received an embittered, disjointed two-page letter from Lupoe blaming his actions on his former employer. Investigators believe that he followed up the letter with inconsistent and incoherent calls to the station, threatening to kill his already deceased family, and saying that when he returned home “my whole family has been shot.”

The letter goes on to say that Lupoe and his wife had made a suicide pact. The letter also referred to an investigation in connection with employment misrepresentation involving a child care issue. The missive further contends that a Kaiser supervisor questioned why the Lupoes had come to work and if he had been faced with a similar situation, the supervisor would have blown his brain out.

“So after a horrendous ordeal,” the letter continued, “my wife felt it better to end our lives, and why leave our children in someone else’s hand. . . . ”

Kaiser denies the allegations and said that the Lupoes had both been terminated, although they would not elaborate on what grounds, but maintained that they had sufficient reasons for the dismissals.

Speculations have been running rampant to make sense of this pointless tragedy:

“This was a financial and job related issue that led to the slayings,” said Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Kenneth Garner. “It’s a grisly scene.”

“Unfortunately, this has become an all-too-common occurrence in the last few months,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragosa told reporters. “No words can describe this tragedy. There’s no way to comprehend this unspeakable act.”

Perhaps the mayor is right, but with so many questions left unanswered—why has Kaiser not allowed the supervisor that made the alleged comments to come forward and disprove what Lupoe claimed drove him to massacre his entire family, and to ultimately turn the gun on himself?

These are indeed trying economic times . . .

“No matter how desperate you are,” City Councilwoman Janice Hahn said, “no matter how frustrated you are, to think this was the only answer—to take your whole family with you in death—is just too much to understand?

Did a doting father and mother as others have described the Lupoes; truly believe that they had nowhere else to turn, and the only way out was to kill their entire family so that their children would not be left to strangers?

“Oh lord, my God,” Lupoe’s letter concluded, “is there no hope for a widow’s son?”

Given the fact that a myriad of outreach programs exist that he could have tapped into, and the public’s reaction over this senseless and tragic act, the only answer—most assuredly is a resounding no!

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

 

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