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Articles Posted in Criminal defense

sawyer-bengtson-279792-copy-200x300Critics can be difficult for fledgling artists to take, but most criticism is constructive and nonviolent. This was not the case for a Chicago busker who ran into the wrong woman at the wrong time. 38-year-old Barbara Johnson stabbed 28-year-old street performer, Michael Malinowski, at the Jackson El Stop because she claimed that his music was “giving her a headache.”

Malinowski, who is better known as Machete Mike, had his guitar plugged into an amplifier. Johnson allegedly unplugged the guitar from the amplifier and threw it onto the tracks before stabbing Malinowski. Prosecutors allege that she also attempted to push Malinowski onto the tracks, but failed to do so. It was then that she settled for his guitar and took out a knife and stabbed him.

Johnson was arrested at the scene and has been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery in a public place, and criminal damage to property.

david-von-diemar-745969-unsplash-copy-200x300A former Chicago police officer, Lowell Houser, was given a 10-year sentence for second-degree murder just recently. Houser has already spent three years under house arrest with an ankle monitor and he will have that time credited toward his sentence. Since those convicted of second-degree murder are only required to serve half of their sentence, Houser will only be required to serve two more years after a jury found him guilty in the slaying of Jose Nieves. 

Prosecutors wanted to charge Houser with first-degree murder, but a judge nixed the idea when he ruled that Houser truly believed that he was under a direct threat when he fired the gun. The same judge, however, ruled that the shooting was not justified regardless of Houser’s subjective belief that he was in danger. 

The Sentencing Phase

marco-chilese-2sMbKyQvom4-unsplash-copy-200x300A member of the Satan Disciples gang is under investigation over the murder of his cellmate, 19-year-old Pedro Ruiz, who is believed to be a member of a rival gang known as the Almighty Saints. The 24-year-old inmate, whose name was not released to the press, is also believed to have been a part of a vicious beating on a Cook County inmate three months prior. The name of the suspect will not be released until he has been charged with the murder, authorities said.

The same inmate was locked up on charges that he used a rifle to injure a man in 2017. Police say that he was among five detainees who ruthlessly beat another inmate. Video surveillance shows him punching and kicking a 41-year-old victim. Other members of the group then stabbed him with a shank. 

“No Comment”

quentin-kemmel-445082-copy-300x200The trial of George Kleopa began Tuesday after eight years slogging its way through the court system. Kleopa is accused of killing his then-girlfriend, Michele Peters, with whom he lived. Interestingly, Kleopa is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, as opposed to second- or first-degree murder. Kleopa claims that he asked Michele to hand him a gun so that he could clean it when the gun misfired and shot her. The bullet entered her right cheek and became lodged in her brain. She was killed.

The Background

Kleopa and Peters had been together for 10 years before her death. They had two young sons together. By all accounts, Kleopa was “hysterical” after the accident and paramedics recalled having to pull him off his girlfriend’s body after which he cried on the couch. 

ross-parmly-rf6ywHVkrlY-unsplash-copy-300x199Rufus Carson chose to reject a plea deal that would have lifted the burden of a trial for his victim, a Polish teenager who must now return to the U.S. to testify against him. Carson faces felony charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, and attempted first-degree murder. Carson rejected a plea that offered him a 30-year prison sentence. As it stands, he may face life imprisonment for the litany of crimes he committed against this one victim. He will go to trial in March.

The victim and her family had hoped that Carson would take the plea deal because this would have prevented her from having to come back to the place where she was assaulted and face the man accused of assaulting her. It is more than likely that the prosecution will ask her details concerning the assault, forcing her to relive the event.

Carson Stalls for Time

maique-madeira-256088-copy-300x200Chicago PD will begin using Clearview, a controversial facial recognition software used by the FBI to identify suspects. The controversy surrounding the software is similar to the controversy surrounding law enforcement in general. In other words, it is racist. It also involves another well-established controversy: It is a violation of privacy.

You see, the FBI and law enforcement have access to a database of three billion photos lifted from sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media megaliths. 

How Does it Work?

louis-reed-747388-unsplash-copy-300x200Bruce Lindahl has been linked to the 1976 murder of a Woodridge teenager and is a suspect in 12 murders and nine rapes. The one thing that Lindahl has going in his favor, however, is that he is already dead. Lindahl died in 1981 before DNA technology would be combined with databases to help route out serial murderers and rapists. To date, several tips have been phoned in concerning Lindahl, and more are expected. 

Investigators believe that Lindahl committed at least nine murders and there is a high chance that he may be linked to three others. Of the rapes, several of his victims have died, but there are also some who are still alive. 

The case of 16-year-old Pamela Maurer was cold for over 40 years before police used a “new kind of DNA analysis” to link Lindahl to the murder. This same method was used to identify the “Golden State Killer” who authorities believe is responsible for several murders and rapes in California. 

kristina-flour-185592-copy-300x192A self-proclaimed madam is on trial for prostitution charges and may be in more trouble still after posting an ad online at sexyjobs.com. The ad promised an extraordinary opportunity to work at a Chicago-based “members only” club. In the ad, she describes the “Premier Playhouse” as a kink-friendly place that has been providing “legal fun” for “over ten years.” Now, federal prosecutors want her jailed while she is awaiting trial on charges that she set up a bawdy house right here in Chicago.

No-fun prosecutors allege that 31-year-old Jessica Nesbitt (aka: Madame Priscilla Belle) set up a house of prostitution, conspired to commit prostitution, and illegally structured bank withdrawals to evade reporting requirements. 

Madame Priscilla has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has since been released on a $250,000 bond. As part of the bond release, she was restricted from doing any business through her company, Kink Extraordinaire. Nor is she allowed to have any contact with her former employees. Prosecutors have asked the federal judge to revoke Madame Priscilla’s bond. 

mihai-surdu-DeI2BMIMDFA-unsplash-copy-300x200The man whose conduct lit the fire that set off the #MeToo movement will stand trial in Manhattan facing five charges relating to sex crimes. Harvey Weinstein has been accused by over 80 women of sexual misconduct and the trial promises to be a historic indictment of Hollywood culture and even American culture. 

Weinstein will face a litany of witnesses who will testify before the court and recount sexual misconduct before a jury. Some of these women will be recounting experiences from uncharged sex crimes while others will act as witnesses for crimes that have been charged. In this respect, it is similar to the strategy used by prosecutors to convict Bill Cosby of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault. 

Weinstein has maintained his innocence.

raban-haaijk-118657-copy-225x300Uber driver, Ahmed Tawfeeq, was recently sentenced to five years for sexually assaulting one of his passengers. Now, he will face additional charges alleging that he attempted to hire someone to hurt, silence, or threaten her

The charges against Tawfeeq included criminal sexual abuse, promoting prostitution, attempted sexual assault, aggravated battery, and unlawful restraint. 

Now, Tawfeeq will appear as a defendant in a second trial alleging that he posted bond for a fellow inmate and offered him another $6,000 to “kidnap” the complainant in an apparent attempt to silence or intimidate her.