Category Archives: Analysis

Are Planned Murders Common?

I was trying to find some statistics, I just found this

( US murder statistics for 2017, broken down by circumstance )

https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-10.xls

The total murders is 15,129.

Of these, Felony type total is 2,236 ( these are murders committed while carrying out some other crime, most common sub-category is robbery ).

Unknown is 6,077. “Suspected felony” is 153.

Of the rest ( 6,663 ) the most common subcategory is “Other Arguments” ( 3,224 ), then “Other not-specified” (2,008). There are various specific “Argument” categories, e.g. “Argument over money or property” ( 199 ), “Brawl due to influence of narcotics” ( 129 ), “Brawl due to influence of alcohol” ( 118 ).

So the common circumstances are an argument or murder while committing some other crime ( felony murder ).

I believe these figures suggest that most murders are not planned.

Original Poll which caused me to look for data here

Is Jeremy Bamber Guilty?

Around 3.26 a.m* on August 7, 1985 police received a call from Jeremy Bamber. He told police “You’ve got to help me. My father rang me and said “Please come over. Your sister has gone crazy and has the gun.” Then the line went dead.”

Police responded to White House Farm where his father lived, where they met Jeremy. Around 7.45 a.m. police entered the house and found Jeremy’s father Nevill, mother June, sister Sheila and her twin sons Nicholas and Daniel, age six, all shot dead.

Police initially believed that Sheila had shot herself after killing her parents and children : Sheila had a history of mental illness and drug abuse, and although Sheila had been shot twice, one of the shots would not have been immediately fatal. However, on September 29 Jeremy Bamber was arrested and charged and on 28 October 1986 he was convicted of all five murders.

* There is some controversy over the timing of Jeremy’s call, logs suggest Nevill called at 3.26 a.m. and Jeremy’s call was at 3.36 a.m. however this is uncertain, and this issue does not affect my assessment of the case very much.

The prosecution case

The prosecution case was that Jeremy ( henceforth “JB” ), travelled to White House Farm in the middle of the night, committed the murders, staged the scene to make it appear that Sheila shot herself, made a call to his home ( leaving the receiver off the hook ) and then cycled home and called police. JB told police the call from his father was at 3.10 a.m. and apparently believed British Telecom would have a log of the call ( although this was not the case), so he had only 15 minutes to return home. The prosecution argued that this was possible if he used a bicycle and paths and tracks to make the trip home, but this seems very questionable, as no bicycle tracks could be detected, in spite of the paths and tracks being muddy due to wet weather.

Prosecution evidence

The prosecution case rested principally on two elements.

Blood in the moderator

Firstly, a moderator was found in a downstairs cupboard, and forensic evidence allegedly showed that Sheila was shot with the moderator on the gun. Since Sheila could not have placed the moderator in the cupboard after shooting herself ( she was found in an upstairs bedroom ), that would rule out murder-suicide.

However the flake of blood found in the moderator could have come from a combination of June and Nevill’s blood, or even rabbit blood ( the rifle was used to shoot rabbits). Moreover DNA tests performed in 2000 instead of supporting the conclusion that the moderator was on the gun when Sheila was shot, actually contradicted that conclusion. Instead of Sheila’s DNA being found in the moderator, the DNA tests showed June’s DNA and an unknown male, possibly Nevill.

Julie Mugford

Secondly, Julie Mugford, JB’s fiancé at the time of the shooting, testified that JB had practically confessed to her. But Julie’s story changed, and JB’s confession appears to have been based not on the true facts of the case, but rather must have been concocted by Mugford, who had multiple motives to lie, as will be explained in more detail below.

Why Julie Mugford’s testimony lacked credibility

On the day after the killings, Julie made a statement to the police. She said Jeremy telephoned her at about 3.30 a.m. on the night of the killings. She said that he “sounded disjointed and worried” and he said “There’s something wrong at home.” She had been sleepy and had not asked what it was.

Then on September 1st, Julie called Liz ( a friend and one-time-lover of JB ) in floods of tears wanting to meet up. Julie tells Liz that JB has said he doesn’t want to see her any more. Then, apparently in a fit of jealousy, Julie said JB hired a hitman to kill his family. Liz suggested she should tell the police, Julie refused, suggesting this was just a casual lie or rumour intended to express her jealous anger at JB.

Over the next week, Julie continued to refuse to go to police despite the urging of Liz, but eventually after pressure from Liz and Malcolm ( Liz’s ex-boyfriend ), on September 7th, one month after the shootings, Julie told police that JB, on the same day as the shootings, said that he hired Matt McDonald to shoot his family. However, Matt had an airtight alibi, and was released.

See here for details on the complex story of Julie’s story changing ( the jury never knew the whole truth ).

Socialising with a murderer?

Besides the fact that Matt had an airtight alibi, one reason to doubt Julie’s story is that it would mean that she had been socialising with JB, remaining his girlfriend, spending two week-ends with him, even though she knew he was responsible for the murder of his own family. The appeal ruling ( see link below ) states:

110. …On 16 August Miss Mugford attended the funerals of Nevill and June Bamber with the appellant and then on 19 August the funerals of Sheila Caffell and her children. During that period the witness spoke of the appellant taking her out for frequent meals, and buying expensive clothes for himself and for her. She described the appellant’s mood during this period as “very happy”. After one of the funerals they drank champagne and cocktails.

111. Miss Mugford spent the weekend of 17-18 August 1985 with the appellant in Eastbourne. The following week the couple went to Amsterdam for two days, staying in expensive hotels and eating
out.

It seems impossible to believe that Julie could have carried on her relationship with JB, knowing that he was a child murderer. But why might Julie have lied?

Motive for Julie to lie

Julie was angry

Shortly before Julie went to police, her relationship with JB went sour. She heard him arranging to meet another woman. So anger at being scorned for another woman would be one motive for her to lie.

Julie could have feared prison

However, it appears Julie had a much stronger motive to lie. Julie may well have been talking to Ann Eaton, and heard of the discovery of the moderator in the cupboard. Under Ann’s influence, she may have started to think that JB was responsible for the shootings, or that JB might be charged with the murders. Her friends had made statements that the time of her call from JB was earlier than 3.30 a.m, making it appear that she was lying about the call time, and could be charged with being involved or obstructing justice.

Therefore she may have been thinking : “JB did it, and I am going to prison even though I did nothing wrong. I hate him, he’s evil…. I am going to save myself, I am not going to prison for what HE did.”

This would explain why she might lie, throwing Jeremy under a bus.

Where did Julie’s story come from?

In Julie’s changed statement, Nevill was shot seven times. However this was untrue, he was actually shot eight times. What is especially telling is that the press had reported Nevill was shot seven times. The obvious inference is that Julie used what she read in the papers, rather than JB being the source of the information.

In Julie’s changed statement, the kitchen window was the means of exiting the farmhouse, a theory of Ann, but at trial it turned out that this was impossible.

Finally, Julie said JB told her “Sheila Caffell had been told to lie down and shoot herself last”. This, besides being being wildly implausible ( who would do as they told when told to shoot themselves? ), was contrary to the forensic evidence, which showed that Julie was shot twice in a sitting position, and then fell back.

Thus the content of Julie’s revised statement was not credible for multiple reasons, and we can infer it came from rumours and false press reports, not JB.

Why would Jeremy confess at all?

Finally, why would JB make such confessions at all? He could never gain anything from making these statements, there was no reason for him to confess to such a terrible crime. If he was capable of the cold-blooded murder of his own family, surely he could keep that secret from Julie for a day.

Evidence of Innocence

Besides the very doubtful prosecution case, there are several reasons to believe JB innocent.

(1) JB had no history of violence ( and this was a very extreme crime ). No diagnosis of psychopathy. Nothing in his past to suggest he could carry out such a terrible crime, the murder of his family, including young children.

(2) Sheila showed no sign of Livor Mortis at 10:30 a.m., meaning she could not possibly have died around 3 a.m.

(3) How could JB realistically have staged the suicide, how could he get Sheila to sit still , holding a Bible, while he got ready to shoot her? And do that twice?

(4) How can deep scratch marks on the arms of Nevill and June be accounted for? How could that possibly be staged.

(5) How does his plan make any sense? Why risk the trip to the farmhouse in the dark, why call the police and rule out all alternate suspects except Sheila?

In Summary

To summarise : Julie’s testimony was not at all credible, and no rational jury could depend on it as proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Since the prosecution’s bicycle theory was impossible, and the theory that Sheila was shot with the moderator on was shown by DNA evidence to be wrong, his appeal should have been upheld, and there is every reason to believe he is innocent.

Documents

For more information about the case see here.

“I Killed Laci Peterson” messages.

Here is my interpretation of the some of the last messages left by “I Killed Laci Peterson”, starting from Easter 2006. Remember that “thee” in these messages refers to the writer (Edwards), “thou” refers to us, or perhaps more specifically people who think Scott murdered Laci. I will not attempt to translate every sentence by IKLP, I will select some sentences from some messages. My translations are in bold.

363. Happy Easter
Sun Apr 23, 2006 1:22 pm [skov says 2:22]
Fore today these words from thee brings. In thous world the birds
must sing. But for thee it will soon turn dark. Laci was not taken from
in the park. Thou fools who believe Scott set her free. Have no idea
what makes up thee. She answered the door. Turned taken to the floor.
Out through the side. There she did not die. More than days did pass. It did not happen fast. Fore thou has it all wrong. The one not where he belongs. With each day which goes by. Closer the wrong one will die. A mark given not at birth. Seen by three from upon this earth. Look far to the west. Can thou pass the test. Or is thou so dumb. Afraid thee will come.
FreeBird

Translation:
Laci was not abducted in the park. You fools who believe Scott murdered Laci have no idea who I am. Laci answered the door. Laci turned, and was pushed to to the floor. Laci was taken out the side door. She was still alive for more than a week.


372. Mon May 01, 2006 2:44 pm
Fore there to be the perfect crime. Thee must find another to do the
time.
FreeBird

For a murder to be perfect, I have to frame an innocent person.

384. Thu May 18, 2006 2:05 pm Post
Fore if thou breaks the code with FreeBird inside. Thee will tell thou where all others now hide. Thou is not very close. Not by photo of a boat. If thou asks why. Turn eyes to the sky. If thou is so slow. Thou will never know. Thou makes fun of thee if it will. Not laughs will stop thees amazing thrills. Zodiac had four but there were many more. Contact made from within the front door. Thous belief of her walk. Is basic stupid talk. Thou never leaves from within. No one witnesses thees sin. When of a state of no attention. It is how thee starts the detention. Travel in plain light. Right in thous sight. Thou never thinks twice. Thee appears so nice. If thou only knew. How much thee laughs at you. The most obvious of all alludes. Passes by right in front of you. Thou has so y wrong guesses. Thee listens learns and progresses. Thou who count not look for thee. Is why thou makes it easy to be free. A last note to thou stuck on a boat. Thee stands on another deck and simply gloats.
FreeBird

Laci was first assaulted within the front door of her home.

398. Posted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 3:05 pm Post subject:
Fore use the can out the door. Fence hides thou from seeing more. A lovely drive to a safe place. Days we stay as thou blows the case. Pray for mercy thee not heard. Thou unable to say the right words. Not hours or days. Time for thee to play. Come a time thee is bored. Not fun with thou anymore. With a superior plan in mind. Decide where to make the find. Why thou continues with this. Thee finds others not to miss.

Laci was driven to a safe place. She was held for more than a week as the Modesto PD wrongly suspected Scott and ignored other witnesses. I made a new plan, and decided where to plant Conner and Laci.

401. Posted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 3:20 pm Post subject:
Fore puddles not of blood. Gates open before the flood. Closed before thee leaves. Thou explain what not seen. Theory by thou is so wrong. Now know why thee not found. Oxygen not left in the air. Right to life not spared.
FreeBird

Dock gates were opened before the tide came in, and closed before I left. There was no oxygen left for Laci to breath, she was killed.

402. Posted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 3:24 pm Post subject:
Fore thee laughs at thou. Stand and take a bow. Thou not know when I arrive.
Thou not know who is alive. Down by the dock. Look up at the clock. Thou find the time. Thee then shows the sign.
FreeBird

Unclear, but “Down by the dock.” could refer to a dry dock or similar.

Original discussion here.

See https://wronglyconvictedgroup.wordpress.com/2019/10/16/laci-peterson-setup/ for more.

Also: ( added July 2020 )

388. Posted: Mon May 29, 2006 2:15 pm Post subject:
Fore as the sun comes to light. Thee seeks what not put up a fight. Tap on the door. Pushed down to the floor. Unable to speak. Bound hands and feet. Open the cupboard doors. Thee search for smores. None to be found. Smack while she lays on the ground.

Her dog is let free. Let out by the hand of thee. Thou all fools who are wrong. Thee let the dog be gone. None have a clue. Fore you are all fools.
FreeBird

Laci’s abductor let the dog out.

  1. Thu May 18, 2006 2:05 pm Post
    Fore if thou breaks the code with FreeBird inside. Thee will tell thou where all others now hide. Thou is not very close. Not by photo of a boat. If thou asks why. Turn eyes to the sky. If thou is so slow. Thou will never know. Thou makes fun of thee if it will. Not laughs will stop thees amazing thrills. Zodiac had four but there were many more. Contact made from within the front door.
    Thous belief of her walk. Is basic stupid talk. Thou never leaves from within. No one witnesses thees sin. When of a state of no attention. It is how thee starts the detention. Travel in plain light. Right in thous sight. Thou never thinks twice. Thee appears so nice. If thou only knew. How much thee laughs at you. The most obvious of all alludes. Passes by right in front of you. Thou has so many wrong guesses.

People who think Laci was abducted while walking the dog are stupid. Laci didn’t come out of her house to confront the burglars. Nobody saw Laci being abducted. Laci wasn’t paying any attention when she was abducted. Edwards was “in plain sight”, Laci never thought twice about letting a “nice old man” into her home. People following the case are making wrong guesses.

Jodi Arias – guilted?

Some notes about the testimony of Alyce LaViolette about entries in Jodi’s journal just before her road trip. 37:00 May 27 journal entry. JA talks about meeting Ryan Burns, trip to Utah. Evidence she is leaving TA, she says “great news”. Talks about making plans to go to Utah. 38:00 May 30 journal entry. JA making […]

via Journal entries just before trip — Jodi Ann Arias – Innocent in Arizona

Nonsense!

Nonsensical prosecution cases that don’t add up.

(1) Jodi Arias plans a murder in which she takes selfies of herself committing the crime.

(2) Scott Peterson plans a murder, in which he disposes of the body in broad daylight, and then tells the police  where he disposed of the body.

(3) David Temple plans to murder his pregnant wife with a shotgun at 4:10 p.m. in an upstairs room, hoping nobody will hear the shot or notice his vehicle or him leaving the scene, even though there are witnesses just yards away in the house just behind his home.

(4) Justin Ross Harris murders his son, and while doing so, is sexting underage women, an offense for which he is sentenced to 10 years in prison.

(5) Jason Sadowski duct-tapes two women to poles, tortures them, then unties one of them and let’s her call the police on a mobile phone ( also leaves the building, so they are free to leave, no locked doors ).

(6) Darlie Routier murders her sons, with her husband in the house, and rushes outside to plant a sock in an alley-way hoping he won’t come down in the meantime. She then sets about a complex staging of the scene involving nearly killing herself.

(7) Angelika Graswald  murders her fiance by removing a tiny plug on the top of his Kayak, even though the amount of water that can come in due to bad weather there is minimal compared to the amount coming through the large opening where he sits.

(8) Debra Milke murders her son because “she didn’t want him to grow up to be like his father.”

Discussion here

Invalid juror inference

In this audio interview after the penalty retrial, 14 minutes 20 seconds in, a juror concludes that Jodi lied on the stand.

According to the juror, Jodi testified that when she was looking for a house with Darryl Brewer, they wanted to purchase a house in a good school district, because of his son.

But in earlier testimony, it was stated they only had the Darryl’s son Jack during the summer time.

Juror : “So at that point I felt like, ok, she’s lying to my face, I can’t give any credit to any of her testimony.”

However, in Darryl Brewer’s testimony from the first trial, it was explained that Jack’s mother had plans to re-marry, and move to that area, to be close to Jack. There was shared custody , and Jack would live with Darryl part of the time. So in fact there was no reason to believe Jodi’s testimony was untrue. Darryl was simply doing forward planning for an anticipated change in circumstances.

Were these jurors fit to judge a case of this complexity?

 

Trapped with Ms. Arias

This blog is some observations about Kirk Nurmi’s performance as a lawyer for Jodi Arias, in light of some of the information he discloses about the pre-trial preparations in the first of three books about the case.

Although being a self-published book, presumably written without the aid of a professional editor, the first thing to say is I found the book to be very readable and engaging. Kirk explains his view of the law, the case and his feelings about Jodi Arias with great clarity. For anyone interested in the case, I would say this book is a “must-buy”.

I would also say this is a very honest book. It pulls no punches in making it very clear that Nurmi, before the trial began, did not like Jodi Arias and did not wish to represent her at trial.

There is a lot of fascinating information in the book, much of it new. For example we learn that the first domestic violence expert could not testify due to illness.

I have no criticism of the analysis Nurmi makes about the relationship between Jodi and Travis Alexander. I also agree with his assessment of the State’s professional witnesses. He observes that DeMarte was inexperienced, Flores was evasive, and suggests Dr Horn’s change of theory was suspicious. In addition Melendez was not a true expert, only having minimal training in the operation of Encase.

Now to some criticisms. I have to say Nurmi shows a lack of empathy. Of course an attorney must maintain some distance from his client, but by his own account he had a very poor relationship with both Jodi and her mother. He indicates he was unable to communicate effectively with Jodi at meetings, failing to adapt to any shortcomings she had.

He also jumps to early conclusions. For example he deduces from Jodi’s booking photo that she is mentally ill. According to my sources, the truth of the matter is that when the photo was taken, it was suggested to Jodi that she looked miserable, and so she smiled for the camera.

More seriously, he seems to assume that Jodi and not Travis was the aggressor in the fight that happened on June 4, 2008. I believe this mistaken belief meant that he did not closely examine the evidence at the scene to determine if it could be used to argue that Travis was in fact the aggressor.

He also failed to anticipate that the case would hinge on Jodi’s testimony concerning the gas cans, and failed to obtain evidence that would corroborate her testimony.

Ultimately I believe these failures contributed to Jodi’s wrongful conviction, but on the positive side, I also believe that the State’s case is utterly false, and Jodi should and will win a new trial.

I look forward to parts two and three.

Discussion here.

See also Raising the bar – but certainly not in Arizona by Lise LaSalle.

 

 

 

Richard Glossip – what really happened

In the early morning hours of January 7, 1997, Barry Van Treese was beaten to death in room 102 at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City. The murder weapon was an aluminum baseball bat. During the struggle, the window in room 102 was broken out.

When interviewed by police, Justin Sneed, who admitted to killing Van Treese, after several changes of story, and after suggestions by the police, alleged that Richard Glossip hired him to murder Van Treese “So he could run the hotel without him being the boss“.

According to Sneed “Barry never said anything; he just jumped out of bed“.

However there is a big problem with this:

John Prittie was staying in room 103, a room that shared a wall with room 102, where Van Treese was murdered. At trial, Mr. Prittie testified that he “heard an argument…some muffled arguing or some type of discussion going on.” It was “somewhat” loud. He testified that there was “…more than one person” involved and that there were “….male and female voices that I thought I heard too.”

Mr. Prittie then testified that, after he heard the voices, he heard “objects hitting the ground,” “metallic sounds,” and “possibly glass breaking.” He said he then noticed that things got quiet, only to begin again with “more of the arguing, more of the same.” According to Mr. Prittie, the noise stopped shortly thereafter.

So

  1. Sneed lied, there was an argument.
  2. What can the argument have been about? It doesn’t make sense if this was murder for hire.
  3. The evidence indicates an argument or a burglary gone wrong not a planned murder.

In addition, a large amount of cash was found in the trunk of Van Treese’s car, stained with blue dye.

This was apparently money stolen from a drug dealer, who wanted it back.

The obvious truth : Sneed had been persuaded to steal the car keys so the drug dealer could take his money back.

Sources

  1.  When Eight is Enough How many “true” stories does it take to execute an innocent man? Transcript summary and commentary written by Mr. Glossip’s Innocence Legal Defense Team.
  2. What Richard’s first lawyer, Wayne Fournerat is saying.

Discussion here.

Oscar Pistorius a political prisoner

After the decision was announced, the ANC ruling party made no secret of where it stood on the case, denouncing the former Olympic champion as a “murderer” despite the judge’s ruling that Pistorius was guilty only of unintentionally killing Steenkamp. “Murder of Reeva Steenkamp at hands of Oscar Pistorius is a sore reminder of brutality meted out to and vulnerability of many women,” one tweet posted on its official Twitter feed read.

Via http://time.com/4004551/oscar-pistorius-south-africa-release/

Sigh… this is ridiculous.

This is the tweet:

Politicians never like to admit they were totally, utterly wrong!

See also http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-08-20-analysis-are-politics-keeping-oscar-pistorius-in-jail/