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August 2012 Archives

Grumpy Old Men: Senior Citizen Mobsters Sentenced to Nine Years

Joseph Scalise, 74, is a man with a lot of history. Both Scalise, and his co-defendant, Bobby Pullia, 71, are alleged members of an organized crime family. They will also both spend most of the next nine years in prison after a botched robbery and foiled plot to rob an armored car, reports the Chicago Tribune.

A third co-defendant, Arthur Rachel, 74, was already tried and found guilty for the crimes and was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years. Scalise and Pullia pled guilty earlier this year.

Exonerated: Alprentiss Nash's Murder Conviction Overturned

For the first time in 17 years, Alprentiss Nash will be a free man. He was previously serving an 80-year sentence for the robbery and murder of a South Side man. Now, at age 37, prosecutors have announced that the charges against Nash will be dropped and he will be released, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Why the change of heart? Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez launched a new unit focused solely on re-examining questionable convictions. The new Conviction Integrity Unit, established in February, reviews these types of cases for possible false convictions.

Motion for a Directed Verdict in Drew Peterson Trial: Not Unusual

At the close of the prosecution's case in Drew Peterson's murder trial yesterday, the defense made a motion to dismiss the case outright -- without the jury even having a chance to deliberate, reports NBC. Besides being inconsiderate of the color-coordinating jurors that have been sitting there for four weeks, the motion wasn't really all that unusual. File it under "it can't hurt to ask."

A motion for a directed verdict is essentially an argument by the defense that even if you believed everything that the prosecution presented in their case, and made all reasonable assumptions that would follow, they still have failed to prove their case. There's no reason to continue and waste everyone's time and resources.

Lobotomy Letters Spell Trouble For Disgruntled Former Employee

It was all in the name of revenge, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. A former employee of the Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital admitted to investigating officers that she was behind abusive letters that recommended to patients that they receive a lobotomy.

The odd revenge plot, which was meant to embarrass the Alexian Brothers, was allegedly carried out by Michelle Morrison. Police found stolen letterhead, patient files, address labels, and other paperwork in her home.

Christopher Vaughn Murder Trial: What's the Expected Defense?

For background on the ongoing Christopher Vaughn murder trial, see our earlier coverage of the first day of the case.

Christopher Vaughn has been accused of the unthinkable: murdering his wife and three children. His trial began Monday and the prosecution is expected to present evidence that the self-professed Druid staged a murder-suicide in order to start a new life in the Canadian wilderness with a stripper as his companion.

Some of the evidence they'll show is Vaughn's personal journal, online postings on Druid message boards, and expert testimony about the victims' causes of death.

How will Vaughn counter these allegations?

Christopher Vaughn on Trial for Alleged Murder of Wife, Kids

Five years after the deaths of his wife and children, Christopher Vaughn is finally getting his day in court, reports the Chicago Tribune. On June 16, 2007, Vaughn flagged down a bystander on a side road off of Interstate 55 in Will County. At the time, he claimed that his wife murdered their three children, tried to murder him, and then turned the gun on herself.

Authorities believe it happened differently. They say that Vaughn got his 9mm handgun from the roof rack above his car, wrapped it in his jacket, and then shot his wife under the chin. He then allegedly shot each of his children twice from the passenger side of the vehicle.

What's It Like Being on the Peterson Jury?

Some see jury duty as a chore. Others embrace their civic duties. Whether you want to be there or not, we're of the mindset that it's better to accentuate the (admittedly few) positives of jury service, rather than dwell on the negatives.

Jurors get paid. Granted, the pay is barely enough for a combo meal at a fast food joint, but at least there is some compensation. Jurors in Cook County are paid $17.20 per day. That means for a three week trial, they make $258. Under a recently passed law, they can also refuse to be paid, just in case they feel that it is improper to accept compensation for such a noble duty.

Peterson Case: Defense Drops Mistrial Request

Fool us once? Shame on you. Fool us twice? Shame on you again. Fool us three times? Now you're just looking like a jerk.

Yesterday, the Drew Peterson trial grinded to a halt after the prosecutors introduced barred evidence for the third time. Both previous "mistakes" were responded to by the defense with a request for a mistrial. This third mistake was initially met with the same request. This morning, however, the defense walked in and promptly changed their minds, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

OK, Nevermind Last Week's Post ... No More I-Bonds in Chicago?

After we wrote 500 words of pure brilliance last week, Chicago just had to go and change the game up. It's okay. We understand. It's all part of the anti-gang strategy.

For those who didn't read "The Price of Freedom," the post outlined the three types of bail bonds used in Illinois. The C bond is the full payment of the bond amount. The D bond is the "10 percent" bond, where the accused can pay only a tenth of his bail, available only to an arrestee that has cash on hand.

The third type, which is reportedly becoming irrelevant in Chicago, is the I Bond. It allows the police to release you on your own recognizance. It's for the broke folk who can't post bail.

Rap Lyrics, Letter, Lead to Murder Charges for Cousin

Normally, you'd be relieved if the cops found your cousin's killer. But we're guessing Abed Othman, 22, doesn't feel that way. After all, he's the one facing charges for the deed. Then again, a pop psychologist might wonder if Othman's actions, including making a rap song about the deed, indicate that he really did want to be caught.

Either that, or he's just plain stupid.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, while serving a three-year sentence for burglary, Othman allegedly wrote an apology letter stating, "I'm sorry that I had to carry a gun, I'm sorry I took a life over such a small sum ... I'm sorry for all the drug dealin, I'm sorry for all the gangbanging and killing."

Making Bail in Chicago (The Price of Freedom)

You didn't choose the movement. The movement chose you. You're perfectly willing to go to jail for your beliefs, but you can't stay in a cell forever. The movement needs you. This is dedicated to you, Ms. Peaceful Protestor.

Making bail in Chicago and throughout Illinois is a little different from most places. Instead of shady bail-bond joints wedged in next to the 7-11 with bars on the window, you have to pay the authorities directly before you are released. After all, policing costs money. Peaceful protestors aren't going to disperse themselves!

Goons Punch 11-year-old Girl For Lollapalooza Beach ball

Two 19-year-old idiots, one of which was allegedly drunk, were arrested and charged with assault after they approached an 11-year-old girl and punched her in the stomach. Why were they beating children? The gentlemen wanted her Lollapalooza beach ball, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The girl, and her mother Michelle Fiore were headed back to their car when they were approached by a group of four individuals, two male and two female. Fiore said they appeared to be bickering before Conrad Slimak approached them and asked for one of their souvenir beach balls.

Fiore jokingly responded, "That will be $50."

'Honoring Veterans' Law Passes Congress; Curbs Funeral Protests

Normally, any law that restricts the freedom of speech is one that makes us cringe. After all, unfettered debate and discourse are what makes this country so amazing. We can criticize local government, the fashion choices of others, or idiot criminals that pick on 87-year-old war veterans.

Sometimes, however, that free speech is abused. Sometimes it becomes necessary to curtail the rights of one for the benefit of many. Perhaps then, the law passed by Congress yesterday to curtail protests at military funerals is a good thing.

The Peterson Almost-Mistrial: Prosecutor's Mistake or Malice?

A courtroom isn't supposed to be a free-for-all, open-season attack on the defendant. We have rules when it comes to evidence and testimony. These rules strive to do one thing: ensure a fair trial made up reliable and relevant evidence.

Judges don't like surprises. Lawyers don't either. That's why we have pretrial hearings and coach prepare our witnesses for trial.

Pretrial hearings allow the judge to rule on the admissibility of evidence before it shows up in trial, as once the metaphorical bell has been rung, it can't be unrung. Realistically, you can't tell the jury, "Oh wait. Never mind. Pretend you didn't hear about that inadmissible child molestation charge." Odds are, once they've heard it, it's going to affect their verdict.