‘I’m very drunk’: Police dispatcher fired after DUI arrest

An admittedly “very drunk” police dispatcher in Georgia is out of a job after she crashed into two cars while driving under the influence, police said. Laura Ricketts, who worked as a dispatcher for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, was arrested at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday after running a red light and hitting two other…

An admittedly “very drunk” police dispatcher in Georgia is out of a job after she crashed into two cars while driving under the influence, police said. Laura Ricketts, who worked as a dispatcher for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, was arrested at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday after running a red light and hitting two other...

from https://nypost.com

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SCOTUS for law students: The roles of the chief justice

SCOTUS for law students: The roles of the chief justiceWhen Chief Justice John Roberts takes his place in the middle seat on the bench, he is performing his most visible and widely known duty: presiding over the Supreme Court. But the chief justice also has a number of other roles, both within the judiciary and outside the court. Roberts acted in one of those […]

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SCOTUS for law students: The roles of the chief justice

When Chief Justice John Roberts takes his place in the middle seat on the bench, he is performing his most visible and widely known duty: presiding over the Supreme Court. But the chief justice also has a number of other roles, both within the judiciary and outside the court.

Roberts acted in one of those roles a month ago, when he named several new chairs of committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policymaking arm of the federal judiciary. Consisting of the chief judges and one district judge from each of the federal circuit appeals courts, the Judicial Conference meets twice a year to review rules for the judiciary and to recommend positions on legislation that affects the federal courts. As “Chief Justice of the United States,” Roberts is the head of the entire federal judicial system. In this capacity he is the chair of the 26-member Judicial Conference, presides over the semi-annual meetings and appoints members to committees.

Chief Justice Roberts (Art Lien)

What was especially interesting about the most recent appointments, announced on October 10, was that Roberts selected Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to chair the executive committee of the Judicial Conference. Garland was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. The Republican majority in the Senate refused to consider Garland’s nomination, which lapsed in January. President Donald Trump then successfully nominated Neil Gorsuch, who joined the court in April. Roberts had appointed Garland to be a member of the executive committee in 2013 but has now elevated him to chair the panel, an important position for Garland.

Chairing the Judicial Conference is not the only role the chief justice plays at the top of the federal court system. At the end of the calendar year, the chief justice issues an annual report on the state of the federal judiciary. These reports highlight matters of concern or special interest in the federal courts, ranging from the need for more judges to pay raises or protections for judicial independence. In the most recent report, issued on December 31, 2016, Roberts focused on the important role of federal district judges, saying, “District judges make a difference every day, and leave a lasting legacy, by making our society more fair and just.” Each annual report includes a summary of the workload of the federal courts.

The chief justice also selects the director of the office that handles administrative issues for the courts, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, currently James Duff, and serves as chairman of the board of the Federal Judicial Center, the education and research arm of the federal courts.

As chief justice, Roberts has two other appointing roles. He picks the members of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secretive tribunal that reviews requests for wiretaps and other surveillance for foreign-intelligence purposes. Roberts also appoints judges to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, the entity that determines where trials will take place for cases that are filed in numerous federal district courts.

One of the chief justice’s most unusual jobs is as chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution, which runs the many public museums along the National Mall. As chancellor the chief justice presides over meetings of the Smithsonian’s board of directors, which meets four times a year. Roberts generally presides over the afternoon sessions, leaving the board chairman to run the meetings in the mornings.

Of course, it is his role at the Supreme Court that is the main focus for Roberts. As chief justice, Roberts is responsible for running the court, both judicially and administratively.

On the judicial side, the chief justice presides over the Supreme Court’s private conferences, in which the justices decide which cases to hear and then resolve the cases on the merits. Each year, the justices receive about 6,400 requests for review, known as petitions for certiorari, of which they grant only about 70. For each conference, the chief justice suggests which petitions merit discussion by circulating a “discuss list.” Other justices may add cases to the list. Cases that do not make it on to the discuss list are presumptively denied review by the Supreme Court.

As chief justice, Roberts is the most senior member of the Supreme Court, even though other justices have been there longer. As the court considers whether to grant or deny review in a case, the chief justice speaks first, summarizing each case and indicating whether he favors hearing it. The other justices then follow in order of seniority. This procedure is repeated again after the court hears oral argument in a case. When the justices go into their conference to consider and decide argued cases, Roberts speaks first and summarizes the issues and his take on them.

One of the most significant powers of the chief justice is choosing who will write the majority opinion. If the chief justice is in the majority, the assignment power is his. If the chief justice is in dissent, then the majority opinion is assigned by the most senior justice in the majority. By custom each of the nine justices is assigned roughly the same number of majority opinions, but the chief justice can decide who gets the more important ones. Once the opinions are assigned, the chief justice sometimes rides herd to make sure his colleagues keep the flow of opinions moving. Chief Justice William Rehnquist would refuse to give new opinions to colleagues who were well behind on cases they had already been assigned.

In other respects, the chief justice is often described as “first among equals.” He can try to set a tone for the Supreme Court, for example, encouraging the justices to interrupt each other less during arguments, or letting lawyers arguing cases complete a sentence when their time runs out. (Rehnquist used to interrupt lawyers in mid-sentence, occasionally even in mid-syllable when their time expired.) To promote civil discourse in the courtroom, Roberts has encouraged lawyers to refer to opposing counsel as “my friend” or “my friend on the other side.”

Administratively, the chief justice manages the Supreme Court as an institution, relying on a staff for personnel matters, building and maintenance issues and more. It also falls to the chief justice and his staff to deal with controversies or criticism of the court. For example, Jeffrey Minear, counselor to Chief Justice Roberts, recently explained in a letter to a bipartisan group of members of Congress why the court would not have live audio streaming of the oral argument on October 3 in the important Wisconsin gerrymandering case. “I am sure you are, however, familiar with the Justices’ concerns surrounding the live broadcast or streaming of oral arguments, which could adversely affect the character and quality of the dialogue between the attorneys and Justices,” Minear wrote. Chief Justice Roberts has also occasionally responded to criticism of the court’s lack of a code of ethical conduct for the justices.

Finally, the chief justice has two other critical roles. One happens rarely, and the other recurs every four years. According to the Constitution, the chief justice presides over Senate impeachment trials of the president. Rehnquist presided over the trial of President Bill Clinton, who was not convicted by the Senate.

The chief justice also administers the oath of office to the president at each inauguration. Roberts swore in Trump in January and administered the oath to Obama after the 2008 and 2012 elections. It is an historic anomaly that Roberts has actually administered the oath to Obama four times. At the inauguration in 2009, Roberts mixed up a line and Obama followed him down the wrong rhetorical path. To be safe, the oath was repeated the next day at the White House. And in 2013, Roberts administered the oath to Obama at the White House on Sunday, January 20, when the president legally had to be sworn in. But the oath was repeated the next day at the inauguration ceremony on Monday, January 21.

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from http://www.scotusblog.com

Man confesses to murder after DNA-based model released

A Texas man has confessed to killing a 25-year-old woman one week after investigators released a composite profile based on DNA found at the crime scene, authorities said. Ryan Riggs, 21, initially confessed to his church congregation Wednesday and lat…

A Texas man has confessed to killing a 25-year-old woman one week after investigators released a composite profile based on DNA found at the crime scene, authorities said. Ryan Riggs, 21, initially confessed to his church congregation Wednesday and later to investigators in the May 2016 murder of Chantay Blankinship, Brown County Sheriff Vance Hill...

from https://nypost.com

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Take a Deep Breath and Count to Three Before Posting…

This blog series highlights some of the top Social Media Beat posts from the last couple years. For more information about IACP’s Center for Social Media visit the project webpage. This post was originally published on Wednesday, November 23, 2016. … Continue reading

This blog series highlights some of the top Social Media Beat posts from the last couple years. For more information about IACP’s Center for Social Media visit the project webpage. This post was originally published on Wednesday, November 23, 2016.

Guest Blogger: Rebecca Rosenblatt, Sergeant, San Mateo County, California, Sheriff’s Office

While taking a moment to ponder the wisdom of messaging before hitting send is never a bad idea in any context, never more so does this advice bear repeating. No matter the size of the community you serve or the organization for which you work, politics is undoubtedly a hot topic. It is at the point where political beliefs and emotion converge with internet enabled devices that the potential for internal investigations and career ending mine fields begins and ends.

Though it is certainly not new advice, it is a lesson worth recounting, that what staff do in the privacy of their own lives, often becomes subject to public scrutiny when posted online. Politics and religion are often deal breakers for a myriad of relationships, and so too can they be the breaking point for the public image of your organization. All the bridges built through coffee with the cops and public safety citizens’ academies can be gone in an instant with one contentious or insensitive posting that reaches the wrong audience.

So, the obvious question remains what can be done to avoid this? How can you protect your organization and your community from suffering at the hands of an ill thought out social media posting by a member of your staff?

The answer is this; first and foremost encourage the men and women in your organization to review the privacy settings on their various social media accounts. With settings changing all the time, this is a good practice for everyone to get into no matter what they do for a living. The next most important practice to get into, is taking a beat. Take a moment before posting whatever you are feeling and ask yourself, is this in conflict with my organizational polices or guidelines? Is this post something that could paint me in a bad light should a member of the community see it? A good rule of thumb is to consider what you are about to post and decide if you would feel comfortable with it falling into the hands of your local news media. It is a story as old as the internet itself, where an officer-involved incident occurs and miraculously a web search results in posts and pictures from something completely unrelated, defining the character of those involved.

Don’t let this happen to you or your organization. Be smart and police yourself and those you care about in regard to the topic and type of material you choose to post online. Remind staff that what they choose to post on social media becomes a reflection of who they are, and in turn a reflection of the public safety organization they work for. In this day and age, where public trust in law enforcement is at a premium, these simple reminders about social media best practices cannot be reiterated enough.

 

from https://theiacpblog.org

Columbine No Longer in Top Ten of Worst U.S. Mass Shootings

Reading from the Voice Media empire: The day after Devin Kelley murdered 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted that the tragedy has pushed the April 20, 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, the subject of his 2002 Oscar-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine, from the list of America’s ten worst mass shootings. Westword has […]

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Reading from the Voice Media empire: The day after Devin Kelley murdered 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted that the tragedy has pushed the April 20, 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, the subject of his 2002 Oscar-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine, from the list of America’s ten worst mass shootings. Westword has [...]

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from http://www.truecrimereport.com

Does Evidence Matter in Justice Policymaking?

For two decades, criminal justice advocates have been promoting the idea of basing anticrime policy on scientific evidence. But is anyone listening? Leading criminologists address the question at a Philadelpia conference.

For two decades, criminal justice advocates have been talking up the idea of basing anticrime policy on scientific evidence.

How much is it actually happening nationwide?

That question was on the table Thursday at the American Society of Criminology’s annual meeting, held this year in Philadelphia. Criminologists long have complained that policymakers tend to ignore their studies and pursue ideas based more on whims than science.

Laurie Robinson, former Assistant U.S. Attorney General now on the faculty of George Mason University, believes there has been much progress but also a lot of resistance to the idea of backing up justice policy with solid research.

In the first of two Robinson stints at DOJ, a report assessing what works in fighting crime and what doesn’t helped her cut federal funding for programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and military-style boot camps for low-level offenders.

Still, dubious ideas like gun buy-backs by police agencies keep recurring even though studies have found them ineffective.

“Science has a hard time combatting emotionally popular programs,” Robinson said during a panel discussing the topic.

Edward Mulvey of the University of Pittsburgh, who heads a Science Advisory Board at DOJ, agreed that evidence on the spread of evidence-based programs is mixed.

Many “unsound policies” remain in the criminal justice world, partly because much of the public doesn’t see the value of waiting for evidence to justify a policy change, Mulvey said.

He takes the “long view” that proved practices eventually will prevail over “media headlines” about ideas that prove ineffective.

The Trump administration has said that it will retain the science board at OJP, which was established by former Attorney General Eric Holder.

At the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), DOJ’s research agency, David Muhlhausen has moved from the Heritage Foundation to become director.

At Thursday’s criminology program, Muhlhausen declared that “science-based crime policy is on the rise, but we need to improve — we’re not where we want to be.”

Mulhausen is enthusiastic about a website established by Robinson, crimesolutions.gov, which assesses the effectiveness of many anticrime programs that have been studied.

Muhlhausen’s primary concern is that there are too many program evaluations that are “quasi experimental” — far from definitive because they weren’t done using the “randomized controlled trials” in which people getting an experimental treatment are compared with similar groups who aren’t subjected to it.

He cited the example of drug courts, which he said had repeatedly been evaluated using the “quasi experimental” method.

The new NIJ director said that in general, he wanted to stop funding government-subsidized programs that don’t work, to avoid a “waste of taxpayers’ money.”

His criticism wasn’t limited to the Justice Department.

Muhlhausen cited a project of the Department of Labor supporting job training for former prisoners that the agency touted while not disclosing that a randomized controlled trial showed it was ineffective.

He also cited the Hawaii-based HOPE program (Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement), which puts some criminal defendants on probation under the threat of quick punishment if they violate rules.

Muhlhausen said an initial evaluation in Hawaii found the program valuable but randomized controlled trials in other states cast doubt on it.

“We have to be careful to define ‘what works,'” Muhlhausen said Thursday.

Muhlhausen admitted that evidence-based anticrime policies would be a “tough sell” to some audiences, such as working police officers.

He is supporting a project to instill academic concepts more widely among the ranks of criminal justice practitioners, a group he dubbed “pracademics.”

One leading justice practitioner who agreed that it can be difficult to instill evidentiary principles in the work of police and other criminal justice workers was Gil Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief and director of National Drug Policy under President Obama.

Kerlikowske noted that many large police departments had improved their techniques in such areas as videotaping confessions and obtaining witness identifications of crime suspects, but that many smaller departments had not caught up with needed changes. He said the academic community bears some of the blame for not offering their expertise to small police agencies.

Criminologists seemed pleased that NIJ’s Muhlhausen had embraced evidence-based policymaking in a presidential administration that has shunned scientific evidence in areas such as climate change.

Still, Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University expressed doubt that Muhlhausen could insist on the “gold standard” of randomized controlled trials for most studies of anticrime projects.

Important areas such as the death penalty aren’t appropriate for such experiments, Blumstein said.

Muhlhausen agreed that every crime study couldn’t be a randomized controlled trial. He repeatedly said that he wants NIJ to “advance the ball” and not to fund repeated studies that don’t aim to break significant new ground.

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington Bureau Chief of The Crime Report.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Friday round-up

Friday round-upBriefly: In the National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Marcia Coyle reports that Fane Lozman “has been a thorn in the side of the city council of Riviera Beach, Florida, for more than a decade[, a]nd now—for the second time in five years—his legal battles with the city have captured the attention of the […]

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Friday round-up

Briefly:

  • In the National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Marcia Coyle reports that Fane Lozman “has been a thorn in the side of the city council of Riviera Beach, Florida, for more than a decade[, a]nd now—for the second time in five years—his legal battles with the city have captured the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court.”
  • At Bloomberg Law, Kimberly Robinson reports that “[a]n untimely recusal from Justice Elena Kagan has placed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ethics rules—or the lack of them—under fire again.”
  • At the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty blog, Ilya Shapiro and others urge the justices to review a challenge to a class-action settlement by a class member who asserts that her claim was diluted by the inclusion in the class of “members who have no real chance of recovery at trial,” calling on “courts [to] effectively police the class-action system to ensure that all citizens are afforded constitutional due process.”
  • In Take Care’s Versus Trump podcast, Charlie Gerstein and Jason Harrow “respond to a discussion on the Supreme Court podcast First Mondays regarding the government’s recent filing in the Hargan v. Garza abortion case.”

We rely on our readers to send us links for our round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, podcast, or op-ed relating to the Supreme Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com. Thank you!

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from http://www.scotusblog.com

A Dirty Yard Could Cost You $200K in CA Desert Cities

Cities in poor sections of the Coachella Valley use privatized prosecutors who bill residents exorbitant “prosecution fees” for minor infractions–$18,000 for a family with a busted garage door and trashy yard, $31,000 for a man who added on to his house without a permit. Advocates say the practice, sanctioned by local city councils, is a thinly veiled money-making scheme.

The Palm Springs Desert Sun investigates a local government practice in California’s Coachella Valley in which property owners guilty of minor offenses are billed “prosecution fees” that can top $200,000. In one 2015 case, Cesar Garcia was fined $900 for failing to get a building permit to expand his living room.  Earlier this year, a law firm that acts as the local prosecutor sent him a $31,000 bill for the cost of his case, threatening liquidation of his house. Garcia’s experience is not unusual in low-income cities of the Coachella Valley. Empowered by city councils in Coachella and Indio, the law firm Silver & Wright has repeatedly filed criminal charges against residents and businesses for public nuisance crimes – overgrown weeds or selling popsicles without a business license – then billed them thousands of dollars to recoup expenses.

Coachella leaders said this week they will reconsider the strategy after defense attorneys challenged in court the exorbitant fees of the privatized prosecutors. “Fixing his house was just a side effect. Collecting this money was always their goal,” said attorney Shaun Sullivan, who represents Garcia. The Desert Sun identified 18 cases in which Indio and Coachella charged defendants more than $122,000 in “prosecution fees” since they hired Silver & Wright as prosecutors a few years ago. With the addition of numerous fees,  the total price tag can rise to more than $200,000. In most of those cases, the disparity between the crime and the cost is staggering. Defendants fined a few hundred dollars ended up paying five or ten times that much to prosecutors who attended a couple of court hearings. One Coachella family with a busted garage door and a trashy yard was billed $18,500.

from https://thecrimereport.org

New White House Announcement on the Vulnerability Equities Process

The White House has released a new version of the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP). This is the inter-agency process by which the US government decides whether to inform the software vendor of a vulnerability it finds, or keep it secret and use it to eavesdrop on or attack other systems. You can read the new policy or the fact sheet,…

The White House has released a new version of the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP). This is the inter-agency process by which the US government decides whether to inform the software vendor of a vulnerability it finds, or keep it secret and use it to eavesdrop on or attack other systems. You can read the new policy or the fact sheet, but the best place to start is Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce's blog post.

In considering a way forward, there are some key tenets on which we can build a better process.

Improved transparency is critical. The American people should have confidence in the integrity of the process that underpins decision making about discovered vulnerabilities. Since I took my post as Cybersecurity Coordinator, improving the VEP and ensuring its transparency have been key priorities, and we have spent the last few months reviewing our existing policy in order to improve the process and make key details about the VEP available to the public. Through these efforts, we have validated much of the existing process and ensured a rigorous standard that considers many potential equities.

The interests of all stakeholders must be fairly represented. At a high level we consider four major groups of equities: defensive equities; intelligence / law enforcement / operational equities; commercial equities; and international partnership equities. Additionally, ordinary people want to know the systems they use are resilient, safe, and sound. These core considerations, which have been incorporated into the VEP Charter, help to standardize the process by which decision makers weigh the benefit to national security and the national interest when deciding whether to disclose or restrict knowledge of a vulnerability.

Accountability of the process and those who operate it is important to establish confidence in those served by it. Our public release of the unclassified portions Charter will shed light on aspects of the VEP that were previously shielded from public review, including who participates in the VEP's governing body, known as the Equities Review Board. We make it clear that departments and agencies with protective missions participate in VEP discussions, as well as other departments and agencies that have broader equities, like the Department of State and the Department of Commerce. We also clarify what categories of vulnerabilities are submitted to the process and ensure that any decision not to disclose a vulnerability will be reevaluated regularly. There are still important reasons to keep many of the specific vulnerabilities evaluated in the process classified, but we will release an annual report that provides metrics about the process to further inform the public about the VEP and its outcomes.

Our system of government depends on informed and vigorous dialogue to discover and make available the best ideas that our diverse society can generate. This publication of the VEP Charter will likely spark discussion and debate. This discourse is important. I also predict that articles will make breathless claims of "massive stockpiles" of exploits while describing the issue. That simply isn't true. The annual reports and transparency of this effort will reinforce that fact.

Mozilla is pleased with the new charter. I am less so; it looks to me like the same old policy with some new transparency measures -- which I'm not sure I trust. The devil is in the details, and we don't know the details -- and it has giant loopholes that pretty much anything can fall through:

The United States Government's decision to disclose or restrict vulnerability information could be subject to restrictions by partner agreements and sensitive operations. Vulnerabilities that fall within these categories will be cataloged by the originating Department/Agency internally and reported directly to the Chair of the ERB. The details of these categories are outlined in Annex C, which is classified. Quantities of excepted vulnerabilities from each department and agency will be provided in ERB meetings to all members.

This is me from last June:

There's a lot we don't know about the VEP. The Washington Post says that the NSA used EternalBlue "for more than five years," which implies that it was discovered after the 2010 process was put in place. It's not clear if all vulnerabilities are given such consideration, or if bugs are periodically reviewed to determine if they should be disclosed. That said, any VEP that allows something as dangerous as EternalBlue -- or the Cisco vulnerabilities that the Shadow Brokers leaked last August to remain unpatched for years isn't serving national security very well. As a former NSA employee said, the quality of intelligence that could be gathered was "unreal." But so was the potential damage. The NSA must avoid hoarding vulnerabilities.

I stand by that, and am not sure the new policy changes anything.

Here's more about the Windows vulnerabilities hoarded by the NSA and released by the Shadow Brokers.

from https://www.schneier.com/blog/

Deadly Escape Attempt Spotlights NC Prison Violence

Assaults on North Carolina prison personnel had increased this year even before a deadly escape attempt Oct. 12 at Pasquotank Correctional Institute. Two officers, a vocational instructor and a maintenance worker were killed, and four inmates are charged with murder.

North Carolina prisons were already a more dangerous place to work before four employees at an understaffed prison were killed during a failed breakout last month, the deadliest in state history, reports the Associated Press. Assaults on prison staff so far this year are 50 percent higher than five years ago, according to state prison data. The number of incidents have nearly doubled at Pasquotank Correctional Institution, site of last month’s failed escape. The increase in assaults occurred even though the prison system has cut the number of inmates by 3,000 since 2011. Department of Public Safety officials declined to discuss the reasons for the growing danger.

Sixty-nine assaults on employees were reported across the state’s 55 prisons as of Nov. 2, compared to an average of 55 per year between 2012 and 2016. The head of the legislative committee likely to shape prison reforms said Thursday that legislators are determined to improve safety, salaries and staffing levels in the wake of the Pasquotank deaths, and a fifth guard killed at a nearby prison earlier this year. The last time a prison worker was killed was 2010. “This is an ongoing commitment to improving,” said Rep. Ted Davis, a New Hanover County Republican who heads the unified legislative committee overseeing public safety. Two correctional officers, a vocational instructor in the prison’s sewing plant and a maintenance worker died, and four inmates are charged with murder in the Pasquotank escape attempt on Oct. 12.

from https://thecrimereport.org