Articles Posted in Murder

alex-boyd-260321-copy-300x200Krysztof Marek entered a neighboring apartment and killed four people who were gathered around the table for dinner. Then he went upstairs into another apartment and executed a fifth. Why? According to police, the man was being evicted from his Chicago condo. Marek left behind a note in his native Polish: “Tomorrow!! No Mercy! Enough!! They have to pay for it!!”

After executing the five people, Marek went back to his own apartment and greeted officers as they came to his door. He told them that he thought they were looking for him and then he confessed to the murders. 

Investigators later found multiple grievances against his neighbors although it was not clear specifically which neighbors had incited Marek’s anger. Marek had accused one neighbor of walking too loudly on the floor above his apartment. He left behind a series of unhinged messages that seem to be gearing himself up for the attack.

sam-poullain-435864-unsplash-copy-300x169A 9-year-old stands accused of starting a fire that killed five people, including three other children. He has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of arson, and one count of aggravated arson. Cases like this are rare. The youngest child ever to be sentenced to life in prison was Lionel Tate, when he was 13. This child, whose name has been withheld by authorities will be among the youngest ever to stand trial for murder.

More confusing still is that fact that the majority of children who were tried as adults did not commit some other crime that resulted in a death, but murdered someone else with a direct weapon. This child is accused of starting a fire that led to five deaths.

Prosecutors say that they have enough evidence to prove that the child started the fire intentionally and knew that the fire could result in the deaths or injury of other people. However, child psychologists argue that the 9-year-old brain has not fully developed enough to understand the consequences of those actions.

brandon-mowinkel-211936-unsplash-copy-300x200One of the most carefully watched criminal trials in recent memory hit a snag when defense attorneys claimed that the prosecution withheld evidence in the Tyshawn Lee murder trial. Two men are charged with murdering the 9-year-old boy in a gang-related killing. The two are accused of targeting the boy because they believed his father had been involved in an attack targeting one of the defendant’s family members.

What Did the Prosecution do?

Essentially, the prosecution failed to provide evidence that police had stopped two young men that fled the scene of a music video being shot. The gun that killed Tyshawn Lee was later recovered from that incident. During the trial, police suddenly remembered that they had made this stop and informed prosecutors. Prosecutors handed this information over to the defense while the trial was underway, and the defense was rightfully upset to be learning about it well into the trial.

Oscar Ocampo was recently released from prison. Odds are, he will be headed right back after he stabbed his own brother, apologized to him, and then went upstairs and stabbed his brother-in-law. His brother-in-law died as a result of the stabbing.

According to his brother, Ocampo was upset that his wife had been disrespected. The brother attempted to calm him down, but Ocampo was inconsolable. Ocampo proceeded to stab his brother, apologized, and went upstairs and killed his brother-in-law. He has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

Is Ocampo Being Overcharged?

drew-patrick-miller-4560-unsplash-copy-300x111Judges have broad discretion when it comes to allowing defendants to represent themselves. In a recent case, a judge denied a pro se petition by Dwight Doty to represent himself in the slaying of a 9-year-old boy whose father was a member of a rival gang. But another recent case outlines the perils of getting what you wish for.

Jovan Battle, a homeless man who was accused of murdering an off-duty police officer was convicted after a jury determined he was culpable for the death of an officer and the wounding of his friend. While the case would have likely resulted in a conviction of some kind, it did not have to result in a first-degree murder conviction and several armed battery counts for which Battle will spend the rest of his life in prison. In fact, Battle never pulled the trigger or opened fire on anyone.

According to prosecutors, Battle mistook the police officer for some another person with whom he had had a fight earlier that night. He directed one of the two other men he was with that night to their car and that man opened fire, killing the officers and injuring his friend. Of course, none of that should have been disclosed to police during the interrogation, and yet all of it was, so it formed the basis of their first-degree murder charge against Battle.

quentin-kemmel-445082-copy-300x20025-year-old Dwight Doty told a Chicago judge that since the trial involved him and he knew what was going on better than anyone else, he should be allowed to represent himself at trial. The judge denied his request. Doty is accused of killing a 9-year-old boy execution-style. 

The judge told Doty that he believed his pro se defense motion was just a bid for delay. When a defendant petitions the court to represent themselves, the judge must sign off on the motion before allowing it to proceed. Famous individuals who represented themselves unsuccessfully include Colin Ferguson and Ted Bundy. In both cases, you had defendants with enough presumed intelligence to carry on the task of questioning witnesses. Both proved to be monumental disasters, however.

A judge in a criminal trial has a vested interest in ensuring that the proceedings are carried out fairly. In this case, the judge grilled Doty on his education and asked him why he thought he was qualified to try a case against two skilled defendants. Doty did not seem to have a good answer to that question, but was that good enough for the judge to deny his motion?

tertia-van-rensburg-37121-copy-300x224It is the kind of crime that you see documentaries about on TV: A mother and daughter duo are charged with two counts of first-degree murder after police say that they killed an expectant mother and cut the baby from her womb. They have been charged with both the murder of the mother and the baby that she carried.

According to police, the women cut the baby from the mother’s womb and then delivered it to the hospital. Clarisa Figueroa, a former certified nursing assistant, passed the baby off as her own. 

Police contend that the two plotted for weeks to steal Marlen Ochoa’s baby. They further contend that the Figueroas met Ochoa in a Facebook group called Help a Mother Out. The Figueroas offered to help Ochoa purchase new clothes for her baby. Police claimed that this lured her to their home where they proceeded to murder her and take her baby. The elder Figueroa, who had her tubes tied prior, claimed that she was also pregnant, going so far as to post pictures of the ultrasound.

lefteris-kallergis-j1GiPlvSGWI-unsplash-copy-300x200Prosecutors say that 15-year-old Javon Wilson was shot to death over a pair of Air Jordan sneakers. According to his sister, Khaliyah Wilson, two teenagers brandishing guns came knocking on her door to recover the sneakers. The court has barred prosecutors from mentioning the fact that Javon Wilson is the grandson of 12-term congressman Danny Davis. The alleged gunmen, Tariq Harris and Dijae Banks, were 16 and 17 at the time of the shooting.

According to reports, Jeremy Murphy, another brother of the Wilsons had traded a pair of pants for the sneakers on a temporary basis. Banks had come to reclaim the sneakers but Javon Wilson would not return them without first getting the pants. The whole thing went sideways when Khaliyah Wilson attempted to kick the boys out. The argument turned into a fist fight and eventually, one of the boys pulled a gun and fired at Javon Wilson. The bullet entered into his neck where it struck an artery. The boy died there.

What Will Happen to These Boys?

ross-parmly-rf6ywHVkrlY-unsplash-copy-300x199Friends and family of Andrew Warren reported him missing to authorities. No, he was not the victim. He was one of the co-conspirators who murdered 26-year-old Trenton Cornell-Duranleau. Warren had left his home in England so abruptly, that friends and relatives had no idea what had happened. But the man had allegedly flown across the pond into the U.S. to act out a horrible sex fantasy with Northwestern professor Wyndham Latham. 

Now, Warren has taken a deal to testify against Latham in exchange for a 45-year recommendation from prosecutors as to a sentence. If this sounds like a good deal to you, consider the fact that Warren is 58 years old. 

Understanding the Crime

max-bender-wJx-K1b7ZLI-unsplash-copy-240x300City officials are holding Lyft responsible after one of their drivers karate kicked a taxi driver, causing his death. The driver, Fangqi Lu, had previously been “deactivated” after punching one of his own customers in the face. The same driver then picked up a job driving for Uber weeks later during which he committed the fatal assault against Anis Tungekar. 

In this case, city officials are slapping Lyft with a fine for failing to disclose to authorities that one of their drivers committed an assault against a passenger. They are further alleging that had Lyft reported the crime to city officials, it would have prevented the death of Tungekar.

The city’s early warning system is aimed at weeding out violent drivers, but Lyft faces significant liability issues in an assault case. Lyft may have been attempting to avoid a hefty payout by failing to report the incident. Now, Lyft may face one lawsuit for the assault and another one for wrongful death.