The Curtis Bonnell Murder Case

     Fourteen-year-old Hilary Bonnell, in 2007, resided with her mother Pam Fillier on the Esgenoopetitj Fist Nation Indian Reservation in northeastern Canada’s New Brunswick Province. In 2008, the girl and her mother moved to Miramichi,…

     Fourteen-year-old Hilary Bonnell, in 2007, resided with her mother Pam Fillier on the Esgenoopetitj Fist Nation Indian Reservation in northeastern Canada's New Brunswick Province. In 2008, the girl and her mother moved to Miramichi, New Brunswick, the largest town in the province. The teen had behavioral problems that included drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, and running away from home. Her mother, in an effort to help her daughter get control of her drinking and drug use, put Hilary into a group home for two months in the fall of 2008. Because Hilary Bonnell missed her old friends, her mother, in 2009, allowed the strong-willed teen to spend the summer on the reservation with her aunt.

     On September 5, 2009, at 3:11 in the morning, Pam Fillier received a call from her daughter who sounded like she had been drinking. Hilary said she was at a party and having fun. Mother and daughter agreed to go shopping the next day. Later that morning, and throughout the day, Hilary Bonnell did not show up at her aunt's house. Because of her history of running away and staying for days at the homes of friends, Hilary's mother didn't report her missing until September 7.

     The missing persons case came under the jurisdiction of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Tracadie-Shelia, Canada. Sergeant Greg Lupson took charge of the investigation.

     As time passed and the 16-year-old remained missing, the RCMP began considering the possibility of foul play. On September 19, Sergeant Lupson questioned the missing girl's 32-year-old first cousin, Curtis Bonnell as a person of interest. Curtis and Hilary had been captured on a 4D Convenience Store surveillance camera on the morning she disappeared. (They were not together, but in the store between 7 and 8 AM.) Curtis Bonnell denied any knowledge of his first cousin's disappearance.

     On November 13, 2009, officers with the RCMP arrested Curtis Bonnell on the charge he had murdered Hilary Bonnell. When questioned in police custody, the suspect admitted picking Hilary up in his truck as she walked along Micmac Road en route to  her aunt's house. Curtis told the officers that he wanted to have sex with his cousin, but when she demanded $100 for the act, he got angry and sexually assaulted her. According to his account of her death, she died when he covered her mouth to keep her from screaming. He said he didn't intend to kill her.

     After killing Hilary, the suspect, in a state of panic, drove her body to a remote area near the town of Tracadie-Sheila where he buried her corpse in the woods. Bonnell returned to his home (he lived with his father) and burned some of Hilary's personal items in his backyard. Following the confession, Bonnell led officers to his cousin's remains.

     On November 14, 2009, Dr. Ken Obenson performed the autopsy. The forensic pathologist identified her cause of death as asphyxia. In Dr. Obenson's opinion, the victim had either been strangled or smothered. The pathologist didn't find any fractures or injuries other than two cuts--one on Hilary Bonnell's hand and the other on her head near her eyebrow.

     According to a toxicologist who worked on the case, the victim had evidence of cannabis and alcohol in her system.

     The Curtis Bonnell first-degree murder case went to trial on September 17, 2012 in Miramichi, New Brunswick before a jury of six men and six women. The prosecutor for the Crown showed the jury a video tape of the defendant's police station confession. On October 22, Dr. Graham Bishop, a respiratory physician, took the stand and testified that it was plausible that Hilary Bonnell had died from someone sitting on her chest with his hands covering her nose and mouth. The witness said it was his expert opinion the victim had died the way the Crown believed she had been killed.

     On cross-examination by defense attorney Gilles Lemieux, Dr. Bishop said it was also possible that the victim had somehow "self-smothered" under the effects of alcohol and drugs. The witness conceded that without "definitive proof" such as handprints or video surveillance, it was impossible to say for sure exactly how Hilary Bonnell had died.

     The Crown rested its case on October 24, 2012, and five days later, the defense put Curtis Bonnell, its chief witness, on the stand. Dressed in a dark suit and a blue tie, the witness gave the jury a different story than the one he had told the RCMP. Bonnell said that on the morning of September 5, 2009, he woke up in his truck that was parked in his father's garage. Next to him in the front seat was slumped the body of a woman. At first he didn't know who she was, so he climbed out of the vehicle and opened the passenger's side door. The woman, who he recognized as his cousin, started to fall out of the truck. Thinking that she was passed out from a night of drinking, he grabbed her body that was cold and rigid. He panicked when he realized that Hilary Bonnell was dead. "What am I going to do?" he thought. "Nobody is going to believe me. I just got out of jail. Nobody's going to believe an Indian."

     The defendant testified that he put Hilary's body into the bed of his truck, drove to the wooded area near Tracadie-Sheila, and laid her on the ground with her sandals beside her. He drove back to his home to look for physical evidence that might link him to his dead cousin.

     That night, according to Bonnell, he couldn't sleep because he was worried that animals might get to Hilary's body. The next day, he took a shovel from his father's garage and drove to Tracadie-Sheila and the spot where he had dumped her corpse. He put the body back into his truck and drove it to a different place where he dug a shallow grave. He tossed the victim into the hole, shoveled in the dirt, and drove home. (There had been prosecution testimony that the victim may have been buried alive.) Throughout his testimony, the defendant denied having sex with his cousin or doing anything to cause her death.

     On cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Bill Richards challenged the defendant over numerous discrepancies between his police statements and his courtroom testimony. The blistering cross-examination lasted two days and at one point the defendant broke down in tears.

     On re-direct, defense attorney Gilles Lemieux asked Bonnell why he had confessed to a crime he didn't commit. The defendant replied that he felt pressured and just wanted the interrogation to end. He told the RCMP officers what he figured they wanted to hear. The defendant also accused his interrogators of putting ideas into his head, suggesting incriminating details for him to include in his confession. According to Curtis Bonnell, his police station confessions reflected the police theory of the case rather than what really happened that night in his pickup truck.

     On October 31, 2012, the Bonnell defense put a forensic pathologist on the stand named Dr. David Chiasson. Dr. Chiasson, a pathologist with the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, said, "I don't think we have enough information [in this case] to make a homicide determination. You have a young woman buried in clandestine circumstances. I believe that is why a homicide determination was made." Under defense attorney Lemieux's guidance, Dr. Chiasson said that Hilary Bonnell did not have any of the physical injuries he would expect to find had she been smothered by a hand forcible held over her nose and mouth.

     On cross-examination, Dr. Chiasoon agreed with the prosecutor that if someone had sat on the victim's chest while covering her nose and mouth, it would have taken less force to smother her. The prosecutor also got the forensic pathologist to concede that the circumstances of this girl's death were, at the very least, "criminally suspicious."

     On November 3, 2012, the Bonnell case jurors, after deliberating six hours, found the defendant guilty of first degree-murder. The Miramichi courtroom erupted in cheers. Curtis Bonnell's conviction carried with it an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.

     Bonnell's attorney appealed his client's conviction to the New Brunswick Court of Appeals. Defense attorney Peter Corey argued that the trial judge should have given the jury the option of finding the defendant guilty of manslaughter. He asked the appellate justices to overturn the conviction.

     Lawyers for the Crown and Curtis Bonnell presented their oral arguments before the appellate judges in April 2014.

     On January 29, 2015, in a written decision, the New Brunswick appellate court declined to reverse the murder conviction. "There was no error," wrote Justice Kathleen Quigg, adding that the trial judge's instructions to the jury "were more than adequate."

      

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

UN Panel Decries Chechen Leader’s Targeting of Gay Men

Reports have been circulating for weeks that gay men in Chechnya are being rounded up and taken to an unofficial detention center where they are being beaten or killed. Chechen strongman Ramzan A. Kadyrov has denied the reports, insisting homosexuality does not exist in his country.

United Nations experts demanded on Thursday that Chechnya halt the abduction, detention, beating and killing of gay and bisexual men, after weeks of reports about violent repression there, reports the New York Times. “These are acts of persecution and violence on an unprecedented scale in the region and constitute serious violations of the obligations of the Russian Federation under international human rights law,” the experts, a panel of five that advises the United Nations Human Rights Council, said in a statement. The experts noted that much of the abuse was reported to have taken place at an unofficial detention center near Grozny, the Chechen capital.

Since last month, reports have circulated that local militias and security forces have been hunting down, detaining and abusing men they perceived to be gay or bisexual. Dozens of men are said to have been rounded up. A spokesman for Chechnya’s strongman leader, Ramzan A. Kadyrov, issued a chilling denial after the initial reports surfaced. “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” the spokesman said. “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

The Sean Petrozzino Double Murder-Suicide Case

     In August 2012, the bank foreclosed on 28-year-old Sean Petrozinno’s house in eastern Orange County, Florida. He and his wife owed $200,000 on the home they had purchased in 2006. Several months after they stopped paying the $1,300 …

     In August 2012, the bank foreclosed on 28-year-old Sean Petrozinno's house in eastern Orange County, Florida. He and his wife owed $200,000 on the home they had purchased in 2006. Several months after they stopped paying the $1,300 a month mortgage installments, the couple moved to Georgia.

     Sean Petrozzino grew up in Orlando, Florida. When he was 15 he contracted bacterial meningitis, a disease that destroyed his hands and feet. After a dozen operations, the quadruple amputee was fitted with prosthetic legs, arms, and hands.

     In 2000, a reporter with the South Florida Sun Sentinel wrote a feature article about the stricken 16-year-old in which Petrozzino was described as "perky, polite and philosophical beyond his age." Regarding his disability, the teen said, "I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. As much as I feel bad about what happened, I feel good that my family and all my friends stood by me."

     In October 2014, Sean Petrozzino and his wife returned to Orlando. The couple and their Great Dane moved in with his parents who resided in the Andover Cay subdivision. His 63-year-old father, Michael Petrozzino, worked for Disney World. Nancy Petrozzino, his 64-year-old mother, had been an elementary school teacher for forty years. In 2007, she began teaching second grade at Andover Lakes Elementary School less than a mile from her home.

     At eleven in the morning of Tuesday November 4, 2014, deputies with the Orange County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the Petrozzino house to check on Nancy who hadn't shown up for work that morning and couldn't be reached by phone.

     Inside the dwelling the officers found the dead bodies of Michael and Nancy Petrozzino. The couple had been shot to death. Nothing had been stolen and the house had not been forcibly entered.

     Sean Petrozzino, seen that morning driving his father's 2012 red Toyota Camry, became an instant suspect in the double murder. (According to a prosthetics expert, a person without hands can fire a handgun.)

     On the Monday following the double killing, the sheriff's office published a surveillance image of the suspect at a Wells Fargo ATM in Orlando. Detectives believed that the son of the murdered couple may have traveled to Jupiter or Coral Springs, Florida.

     Late Monday night November 10, 2014, six days following the murders, police officers in Memphis, Tennessee stopped a driver of a 2012 red Toyota Camry who made an illegal u-turn. As the patrol officers approached the car they heard a faint pop-like sound from inside the Toyota. The driver, Sean Petrozzino, had killed himself with a bullet to the head.

     This murder suspect's suicide was a sudden end to a violent, tragic crime. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Franc Cano and Steven Dean Gordon: Why Serial Sex Offenders Should Not Be Paroled

     In 1992, 23-year-old Steven Gordon, a resident of Orange County, California, was convicted of two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with girls under 14 and 10-years-old. Ten years later, in Riverside County, California, Gordon went…

     In 1992, 23-year-old Steven Gordon, a resident of Orange County, California, was convicted of two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with girls under 14 and 10-years-old. Ten years later, in Riverside County, California, Gordon went to prison on a kidnapping conviction.

     Twenty-one-year-old Franc Cano, another Orange County sexual predator, went to prison in 2008 for rape.

     In April 2012, Gordon was on parole and wearing a federal GPS device. His friend Cano, also on parole, wore a state-issued ankle bracelet. That month, the two transients removed their tracking devices, and under the names Dexter McCoy and Joseph Madrid, boarded a Greyhound bus for Law Vegas.

     On May 8, 2012, federal agents apprehended the two paroled sex offenders at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Back in California, they both pleaded guilty to failure to register as sex offenders. Instead of sending these men back to prison where they belonged, the parolees were ordered to provide DNA samples. As further "punishment", their computers (they had computers?) would be monitored by parole and probation authorities. They were also required to check in once a month with the Anaheim Police Department. New GPS tracking devices were attached to each man and they were sent on their way.

     On October 10, 2013, Kianna Jackson, a 20-year-old from Las Vegas, disappeared while she was in Santa Ana, California. In Santa Ana, she had been charged with prostitution and loitering to commit prostitution. Jackson wasn't the only sex worker that had gone missing in southern California during that period. Thirty-four-year-old Josephine Monique Vargas was last seen on October 24, 1913 after attending a family birthday party at a Santa Ana Red Roof Inn. Vargas had a history of drug abuse and prostitution.

     Martha Anaya, a 28-year-old Santa Ana woman with a history of prostitution, was last seen on November 12, 2013. Before her disappearance, Anaya had asked her boyfriend to pick up her 5-year-old daughter so she could work her trade.

     On March 14, 2014, the naked body of 21-year-old Jarrae Nykkole Estepp was found on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim trash-sorting plant. Estepp was known to work on a strip of beach in Anaheim known for prostitution. She had moved to southern California from Oklahoma.

     On April 11, 2014, Anaheim police officers arrested Franc Cano, 27 and his traveling partner Steven Dean Gordon, 45, near the trash-sorting facility in Anaheim where Jarrae Estepp had been raped and murdered. (I presume the suspects are linked to this victim through DNA.)

     On Monday, April 14, 2014, an Orange County prosecutor charged Cano and Gordon with four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four counts of rape. If convicted as charged, these men could be sentenced to life without parole. While they are also eligible for the death penalty, no California judge will impose that sentence.

     Anaheim Police Lieutenant Bob Dunn, at a press conference on April 15, 2014, said the suspects may have raped and killed more women in southern California. The officer would not say if the bodies of the other three prostitutes had been found. According to Lieutenant Dunn, the suspects, when they raped and murdered the four victims, were wearing their GPS tracking devices.

     Just prior to his December 2016 Orange County murder trial, Steven Dean Gordon fired his public defender in order that he could act as his own defense attorney. In his opening remarks to the jury the defendant did not deny murdering the four women. Instead, he blamed Franc Cano and the parole and probation department for not monitoring him more closely.

     On December 16, 2016, the jury just took one hour to find Gordon guilty as charged,.

     On February 2, 2017, at the recommendation of the jury, Superior Court Judge Patrick H. Donahue sentenced Franc Gordon to death. (A symbolic gesture because in California they don't execute anyone. A lot of people in that state would find executing a serial sex offender and murderer offensive.)

     Franc Cano, who took the Fifth to avoid testifying at the Gordon trial, has pleaded not guilty. Being tried separately, Cano awaits his day in court. There's no doubt that he will be convicted as well and end up spending the rest of his life on death row. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Cody Mark Cousins: Murder by Insanity or Hatred and Drugs?

     Cody Mark Cousins, after graduating from high school in Springsboro, Indiana in 2008, enrolled as an engineering major at Purdue University. While attending classes on the West Lafayette, Indiana campus, Cousins struggled with menta…

     Cody Mark Cousins, after graduating from high school in Springsboro, Indiana in 2008, enrolled as an engineering major at Purdue University. While attending classes on the West Lafayette, Indiana campus, Cousins struggled with mental illness and drug abuse. During the summer of 2013, during a 72-hour-stint in a mental ward, a psychiatrist opined that Cousins, already suffering from bipolar disorder, was developing schizophrenia.

     The fact that the university student had been acting aggressively and experiencing hallucinations could have been the result of his use of the drug ecstasy. From August to October 2013, Cousins bought a gram of ecstasy every ten days. During this period he also abused amphetamine. Still, he managed to make the dean's list three times.

     At noon on Tuesday January 21, 2014, Cousins attended a class in the electrical engineering building taught by a 21-year-old teaching assistant from West Bend, Wisconsin named Andrew F. Boldt. During this class, in front of classmates, Cousins pulled out a handgun and shot Boldt five times. As Cousins replaced the empty revolver with a knife, he told the horrified witnesses to call the police. Cousins next stabbed the teaching assistant 19 times then walked out of the classroom.

     Later on the day of Andrew Boldt's murder, police officers booked Cody Cousins into the Tippecanoe County Jail on the charge of first-degree murder. If convicted as charged, Cousins faced up to 65 years in prison. The judge denied him bond and ordered psychiatric evaluation.

     In May 2014, Cousin's attorney filed notice that he planned to plead his client guilty but mentally ill.

     The Cousins murder trial got underway in the summer of 2014. In his opening statement to the jury, Tippecanoe County prosecutor Pat Harrington argued that the defendant, frustrated by his own lack of success, killed the victim out of drug-fueled hatred and envy. "Violent thoughts," Harrington said, "led to violent actions. That's not insanity--that's what happened."

     Defense attorney Kirk Freeman, when it came his turn to address the jury, spoke of his clients's history of insanity and argued that guilty but mentally ill would be an appropriate verdict in this case. The defense attorney pointed out that mental illness ran in the defendant's family.

     According to a prosecution psychiatrist, when the defendant shot and stabbed Andrew Boldt to death, he was not acting pursuant to the symptoms of any form of mental illness. A second medical expert took the stand for the prosecution and said essentially the same thing.

     Following the closing arguments, the jury, in rejecting the insanity defense, found the defendant guilty as charged. The verdict surprised no one.

     Judge Thomas Busch, following testimony from both sides at the convicted man's September 19, 2014 sentencing hearing, sentenced him to 65 years in prison. "This is a crime of hatred," the judge said. "It's also a crime of terror. Cousins chose a place where people were gathered."

     Cousins, given credit for the 242 days he'd already spent in jail, would not be eligible for release until July 22, 2046. That year he would be 54 years old.

     On October 28, 2014, at nine o'clock at night, while being held in a one-man cell in the Orientation Unit of the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Cody Cousins slashed his arms and neck with a sharp instrument. An ambulance crew tried in vain to save the bleeding, unresponsive inmate. A half hour later, medical personnel pronounced the convicted killer dead. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Melinda Muniz Murder Case

     In 2013, Mitch Ford, his 25-year-old fiancee Melinda Muniz, and his 3-year-old daughter Grace from a previous marriage, lived in Plano, Texas, the sprawling suburban community north of Dallas. Ford and his ex-wife Emily Ward were en…

     In 2013, Mitch Ford, his 25-year-old fiancee Melinda Muniz, and his 3-year-old daughter Grace from a previous marriage, lived in Plano, Texas, the sprawling suburban community north of Dallas. Ford and his ex-wife Emily Ward were engaged in a custody battle over Grace Ford, their daughter.

     Mitch and Melinda's relationship ran into trouble in late December 2013 when she revealed that she had been cheating on him.

     Early in the morning of January 9, 2014, before he left for work, Mitch told Melinda that within the next few days she would have to move out of the apartment. The engagement was over. Melinda did not take this news very well.

     Later that day, Mitch Ford, concerned about how Melinda was reacting to the break-up, called the the Plano Police Department and asked that officers check on Melinda and his daughter. At one-forty that afternoon, when officers showed up for the welfare call, they didn't get a response when they knocked on the door. They called Mr. Ford who came to the complex to let them into the apartment.

     In the master bedroom, officers found Melinda with her pants down with duct-tape over her mouth. In the toddler's room, they found Grace Ford unconscious in her crib. Someone had placed tape across her mouth as well.

     The child was taken by ambulance to the Children's Medical Center in Dallas where doctors pronounced her brain-dead. Physicians put the 3-year-old on life support until her organs could be harvested.

     Melinda Muniz told detectives that an intruder had forced his way into the apartment and raped her. The rapist had covered her mouth, and the child's, with the tape. She described the intruder as a total stranger.

     Melinda's story quickly unraveled. A medical examination revealed that she had not been sexually assaulted. Moreover, a surveillance camera at a nearby store showed Melinda buying duct-tape, zip ties, cotton balls, and a pair of scissors. When confronted with this evidence and inconsistencies in her story, Melinda Muniz stuck to the intruder story.

     The Dallas County Medical Examiner ruled Grace Ford's death criminal homicide by asphyxiation.

     Police officers, on January 28, 2014, booked Melinda Muniz into the Collins County Jail on the charge of capital murder. She pleaded not guilty and the judge set her bond at $1 million. If convicted as charged, she faced life in prison without parole.

     The Muniz trial got underway on January 27, 2015 at the Collins County Courthouse, district judge Mark Rusch presiding. Co-prosecutor Lisa King, in her opening remarks, told the jury that the evidence showed the defendant had carefully planned the little girl's murder. Defense attorney Robbie McClung argued that the state's case was full of holes.

     The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy testified that the victim had been suffocated to death. As for the defendant, she had not been sexually assaulted as she had claimed. The prosecution also played surveillance camera footage showing the defendant, shortly before the murder, purchasing the duck-tape and the other items. Detectives took the stand and testified that the defendant had staged the home invasion/rape to cover-up the murder.

     When it came time for the defense to put on its case, the defendant, on the advise of her attorney, did not take the stand on her own behalf. Before the opposing attorneys presented their closing arguments to the jury, attorney McClung asked Judge Rusch to allow the jurors to consider the lesser charge of felony-murder. The judge denied the motion.

     In his closing argument, defense attorney McClung emphasized the fact the prosecution's case was entirely circumstantial. Moreover, the state had failed to prove a motive in the case. Prosecutor Zeke Fortenberry, when he stood before the jury, said that the state did not have a duty to prove motive in order to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, however, the motive was anger and revenge.

     On February 2, 2015, the jury found the defendant guilty as charged. Judge Rusch, at a later sentencing hearing involving victim impact testimony, imposed the automatic sentence of life without the chance of parole. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Stepping Hill Angel of Death Murder Case

     Deaths by homicidal poisonings that commonly do not raise suspicion and are therefore often misdiagnosed as natural fatalities involve hospital patients who are elderly or already ill. The death of an old or gravely ill person, almo…

     Deaths by homicidal poisonings that commonly do not raise suspicion and are therefore often misdiagnosed as natural fatalities involve hospital patients who are elderly or already ill. The death of an old or gravely ill person, almost by definition, is a natural death. This is why physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers who intentionally kill patients--so-called "Angeles of Death"--get away with murdering so many victims.

     Normally, homicide by poison is not an impulsive crime. But in the hospital, or home for the elderly, it is a crime of opportunity. The angel of death has access to a variety of toxic substances and to vulnerable victims. There is no need for extensive preparation and planning. Moreover, there is no apparent or obvious motive for the homicide because these serial killers do not receive any direct personal gain from the deaths. This type of serial killer is difficult to spot because angels of death are not manifestly insane. They possess personality disorders that compel them to murder out of generalized rage, boredom, or the impulse to play God.

     As murderers, angels of death are cold-blooded, careful, and vain. Quite often their employment histories reveal they have been terminated from several healthcare jobs. When too many patients die on a nurse or orderly's watch, and the employee comes under suspicion, he or she is simply fired. Healthcare workers suspected of murdering patients also quit and get similar positions elsewhere.

     In angel of death cases the tendency among healthcare administrators is to deny the obvious and pass the problem on to the next employer. Over the years, dozens of angels of death in the U.S. and around the world have been caught, but only after large numbers of patients have been murdered. Given the nature of the crime, and the limited role forensic science plays in these cases, it is reasonable to assume that the small number of angel of death convictions represents the mere tip of a rather large homicidal iceberg.

The Stepping Hill Case

     Greater Manchester is a heavily populated metropolitan county in northwest England. Stockport, a city of 136,000, is one of the municipalities within the county. Between June 1, 2011 and July 15, 2011, three patients at Stepping HIll Hospital in Stockport died after being given saline ampoules or drips laced with insulin.

     Detectives with the Greater Manchester Police Department (GMP) determined that at least eight other patients had suffered from insulin poisoning. (Insulin is used as a treatment for diabetes, but for people without an insulin deficiency, the substance can be toxic.)

     Following the determination of how these three patients had died, armed police guards were stationed at the hospital in the event the poisoner was an outsider. To protect patients from a hospital employee, members of the staff were required to work in pairs.

     On July 20, 2011, GMP detectives arrested a 27-year-old Stepping Hill nurse named Rebecca Jane Leighton. The Chief Crown prosecutor for the region charged Leighton with three counts of criminal damage with intent to endanger life. Nurse Leighton pleaded not guilty to the charges.

     The Crown Prosecution Service, on September 2, 2011, dropped the charges against the nurse. Notwithstanding the dismissal of the case against her, the hospital fired Leighton on December 2, 2011. She appealed the discharge, but following a hearing in February 2012, she lost her case.

     On January 5, 2012, detectives with the GMP arrested 46-year-old Victorino Chua, a male nurse originally from the Philippines. Chua had been a registered nurse since 2003. He had two children and claimed to be a devout Roman Catholic. Police officers took him into custody at his home just outside of Stockport.

     Arrested as a suspect in the Stepping Hill Poisonings, but not charged, Chua was interrogated then released on bail. Pursuant to the terms of his release, he was barred from approaching any potential witnesses in the case. He also lost his right to work in healthcare.

     On March 29, 2014, the Chief Crown prosecutor charged Victorino Chua with poisoning to death 44-year-old Tracey Arden, 71-year-old Arnold Lancaster, and Derek Weaver, 83. The murder suspect was also charged with 31 counts of causing grievous bodily harm, 22 counts of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm, and 8 counts of attempting to administer poison. Chua pleaded not guilty to all charges.

     As the poison investigation progressed, GMP detectives identified eight other Stepping Hill patients killed by the insulin contaminated saline, and dozens of patients who were poisoned but survived.

     Detectives with the GMP broke the Stepping Hill murder case wide open when, in Chua's home, they found a letter in which the suspect had written: "I am an angel turned into an evil person, there's a devil in me." While not a confession, it was close enough.

     In May 2015, at the conclusion of the Chua trial, the jury found the defendant guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Tracey Arden and Derek Weaver. The judge later sentenced Victorino Chua to life in prison.
     

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Stepping Hill Angel of Death Murder Case

     Deaths by homicidal poisonings that commonly do not raise suspicion and are therefore often misdiagnosed as natural fatalities involve hospital patients who are elderly or already ill. The death of an old or gravely ill person, almo…

     Deaths by homicidal poisonings that commonly do not raise suspicion and are therefore often misdiagnosed as natural fatalities involve hospital patients who are elderly or already ill. The death of an old or gravely ill person, almost by definition, is a natural death. This is why physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers who intentionally kill patients--so-called "Angeles of Death"--get away with murdering so many victims.

     Normally, homicide by poison is not an impulsive crime. But in the hospital, or home for the elderly, it is a crime of opportunity. The angel of death has access to a variety of toxic substances and to vulnerable victims. There is no need for extensive preparation and planning. Moreover, there is no apparent or obvious motive for the homicide because these serial killers do not receive any direct personal gain from the deaths. This type of serial killer is difficult to spot because angels of death are not manifestly insane. They possess personality disorders that compel them to murder out of generalized rage, boredom, or the impulse to play God.

     As murderers, angels of death are cold-blooded, careful, and vain. Quite often their employment histories reveal they have been terminated from several healthcare jobs. When too many patients die on a nurse or orderly's watch, and the employee comes under suspicion, he or she is simply fired. Healthcare workers suspected of murdering patients also quit and get similar positions elsewhere.

     In angel of death cases the tendency among healthcare administrators is to deny the obvious and pass the problem on to the next employer. Over the years, dozens of angels of death in the U.S. and around the world have been caught, but only after large numbers of patients have been murdered. Given the nature of the crime, and the limited role forensic science plays in these cases, it is reasonable to assume that the small number of angel of death convictions represents the mere tip of a rather large homicidal iceberg.

The Stepping Hill Case

     Greater Manchester is a heavily populated metropolitan county in northwest England. Stockport, a city of 136,000, is one of the municipalities within the county. Between June 1, 2011 and July 15, 2011, three patients at Stepping HIll Hospital in Stockport died after being given saline ampoules or drips laced with insulin.

     Detectives with the Greater Manchester Police Department (GMP) determined that at least eight other patients had suffered from insulin poisoning. (Insulin is used as a treatment for diabetes, but for people without an insulin deficiency, the substance can be toxic.)

     Following the determination of how these three patients had died, armed police guards were stationed at the hospital in the event the poisoner was an outsider. To protect patients from a hospital employee, members of the staff were required to work in pairs.

     On July 20, 2011, GMP detectives arrested a 27-year-old Stepping Hill nurse named Rebecca Jane Leighton. The Chief Crown prosecutor for the region charged Leighton with three counts of criminal damage with intent to endanger life. Nurse Leighton pleaded not guilty to the charges.

     The Crown Prosecution Service, on September 2, 2011, dropped the charges against the nurse. Notwithstanding the dismissal of the case against her, the hospital fired Leighton on December 2, 2011. She appealed the discharge, but following a hearing in February 2012, she lost her case.

     On January 5, 2012, detectives with the GMP arrested 46-year-old Victorino Chua, a male nurse originally from the Philippines. Chua had been a registered nurse since 2003. He had two children and claimed to be a devout Roman Catholic. Police officers took him into custody at his home just outside of Stockport.

     Arrested as a suspect in the Stepping Hill Poisonings, but not charged, Chua was interrogated then released on bail. Pursuant to the terms of his release, he was barred from approaching any potential witnesses in the case. He also lost his right to work in healthcare.

     On March 29, 2014, the Chief Crown prosecutor charged Victorino Chua with poisoning to death 44-year-old Tracey Arden, 71-year-old Arnold Lancaster, and Derek Weaver, 83. The murder suspect was also charged with 31 counts of causing grievous bodily harm, 22 counts of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm, and 8 counts of attempting to administer poison. Chua pleaded not guilty to all charges.

     As the poison investigation progressed, GMP detectives identified eight other Stepping Hill patients killed by the insulin contaminated saline, and dozens of patients who were poisoned but survived.

     Detectives with the GMP broke the Stepping Hill murder case wide open when, in Chua's home, they found a letter in which the suspect had written: "I am an angel turned into an evil person, there's a devil in me." While not a confession, it was close enough.

     In May 2015, at the conclusion of the Chua trial, the jury found the defendant guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Tracey Arden and Derek Weaver. The judge later sentenced Victorino Chua to life in prison.
     

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Roberto Roman Cop Killer Murder Cases

     Just after midnight on January 5, 2010, Deputy Josie Fox of the Millard County Sheriff’s Office and her partner were watching, from a distance, a suspicious car and a pickup truck parked along the road near the tiny central Utah tow…

     Just after midnight on January 5, 2010, Deputy Josie Fox of the Millard County Sheriff's Office and her partner were watching, from a distance, a suspicious car and a pickup truck parked along the road near the tiny central Utah town of Delta. There had recently been a series of burglaries which had drawn the officers to the area. When the two suspicious vehicles departed the scene in opposite directions, Deputy Fox followed  the 1995 Cadillac DeVille. The officers knew the identity of the man in the other vehicle, the pickup truck. He was a known drug user named Ryan Greathouse who also happened to be Deputy Fox's brother.

     After Deputy Fox called in the license number of the Cadillac, registered to 38-year-old Roberto Miramontes Roman, the police dispatcher forwarded instructions to have the vehicle pulled over. A few minutes later, Deputy Fox radioed that she had pulled over Roman and was exiting the patrol car.

     Deputy Fox did not transmit further messages and was not responding to calls from the dispatcher. Concerned that the deputy's encounter with the driver of the Cadillac had resulted in her injury or death, Millard County Sergeant Rhett Kimball proceeded to the site of the stop to investigate. When the deputy rolled up to the scene, he saw Fox's patrol car lights flashing and the deputy lying on the road in a pool of blood. The 37-year-old police officer had been killed by two bullets fired at close range into her chest. (I imagine the bullets had pierced her bullet-proof vest.) Roberto Roman and his 1995 Cadillac were gone.

     After fleeing the scene en route to Salt Lake City, Roberto Roman got stuck in a snowbank near Nephi, Utah. He called his friend, 35-year-old Ruben Chavez-Reyes, for help. Chavez-Reyes pulled the Cadillac out of the snowbank, and from there the two men continued on to Salt Lake City. Along the way, Roman tossed the murder weapon, an AK-47 assault rifle, out the car window. When the two men arrived at their destination, Roman switched license plates with Chavez-Reyes. (He did not, however, clean traces of Deputy Fox's blood off his Cadillac.) Later that morning, Roman told his friend that he had "broke a cop," meaning that he had killed a police officer.

     Deputy Fox's partner, later that morning, questioned Ryan Greathouse at his home. The deceased deputy's brother said he had purchased drugs from the man in the Cadillac, a dealer he knew as "Rob." Greathouse gave the deputy Rob's phone number which identified this man as Roberto Roman. The deputy then informed Greathouse that Roman had shot and killed his sister with an AK-47 assault rifle.

     The next day, Millard County deputies arrested Roberto Roman whom they found hiding in a shed in Beaver, Utah. Once in custody, Roman provided the officers with a full confession. The suspect told his interrogators that when the patrol officer pulled him over outside of Delta, he was angry because he was being careful not to speed or cross over the center line. Furious that the cop was pulling him over simply because he was "Mexican," Roman shot her twice with his assault rifle. He did not know he had murdered the sister of the man who had just purchased meth from him.

     The Millard County prosecutor charged Roberto Roman with aggravated first-degree murder as well as with lesser weapons and evidence tampering offenses. If convicted of murdering a police officer, under Utah law, Roberto Roman faced the death penalty.

     In April 2010, more than four months after the shooting death of his sister, Ryan Greathouse was found dead from a meth overdose in the bedroom of a Las Vegas apartment.

     In 2011, Judge Donald Eyre presided over a two-day hearing to determine if Robert Roman would qualify for the death penalty. The judge, after listening to the testimony of psychologists, ruled that the defendant was "mentally retarded," and as such, ineligible under Utah law for execution. This ruling disappointed and mystified a lot of people. (I would imagine that most cop killers are either high on drugs and/or stupid. Since intoxication and mental dullness are not criminal defenses, I don't see why people who are not bright are spared execution. Moreover, courthouse psychologists think all criminals are stupid and should therefore be judged differently from their more intelligent counterparts. Psychologists should not be allowed inside a courthouse unless they have been charged with a crime.)

     The Roberto Roman murder trial got underway on August 13, 2012 in the Fourth District Court in Spanish Fork, Utah. After the prosecution rested its case four days later, the defendant took the stand on his own behalf. Rather than admitting his guilt as he had in his police confession, Roberto Roman offered the jurors a completely different story, one that was both self-serving and implausible.

     On the night of Deputy Fox's death, the defendant and the officer's brother Ryan Greathouse, were riding around in Roman's Cadillac smoking meth. When Deputy Fox pulled the car over outside Delta, Ryan, who was crouched down in the vehicle, grabbed the AK-47 and shot Fox in the chest, unaware he had just murdered his sister. After the shooting, the two men went their separate ways. The beauty of this story involved the fact Ryan Greathouse was not in position to contest the defendant's version of the murder.

     Prosecutor Pat Finlinson, in his closing summation, reminded the jurors of the physical evidence that supported the prosecution's theory of the case. The victim's bullet wounds indicated that the AK-47 had been fired at an angle consistent with being discharged by the driver of the Cadillac. Moreover, the defendant's fingerprints, not Ryan Greathouse's, were on the assault rifle.

     On August 20, 2012, a week after the Roberto Roman trial began, the jury, after deliberating eight hours, found the defendant not guilty of the aggravated first degree murder of Deputy Josie Fox. The jurors, in defending their unpopular verdict, said that without Roman's confession, they didn't have enough evidence to find him guilty.

     Roberto Roman became the first Utah defendant charged with the murder of a police officer to be acquitted since 1973. The jury did find him guilty of the lesser offenses pertaining to the assault rifle and the evidence tampering. On October 24, 2012, the judge sentenced Roman to the ten year maximum sentence for those crimes.

     The not guilty verdict in the Roberto Roman murder trial shocked and angered the law enforcement community, friends and relatives of the slain police officer, and a majority of citizens familiar with the case. Had Ryan Greathouse not died between the time of the shooting and Roman's trial, this case may have had a different ending. For a stupid person Roberto Roman had done a good job of beating a strong circumstantial case.

     In May 2013, David Barlow, the United States Attorney for the District of Utah, announced that a federal grand jury had returned an 11-count indictment against Roberto Roman for, among other crimes, the murder of Deputy Josie Fox. U.S. Attorney Barlow said, "The fact that Mr Roman had already been tried before a state court had no influence or affect on the federal murder charge [arising out of the same conduct]." In other words, according to this federal prosecutor, the Fifth Amendment protection against double jeopardy didn't apply in this case.

     The new federal charges against Roman, in addition to murder, included, among other offenses, drug trafficking and illegally firing a gun in the death of a police officer. If convicted as charged, Roman faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

     In May 2014, Roman's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the federal indictments on grounds their client should not have to stand trial for a federal murder charge related to the same crime. Attorney Jeremy Delicino said, "In layman's terms, the Untied States seeks a second chance to rectify what it believes the jury got wrong the first time. In blunt colloquial terms, the Unites States seeks a do-over."

     In response to the defense motion to dismiss the indictments, lawyers for the prosecution asserted that the U.S. Supreme Court had held that federal and state governments can prosecute a person for separate crimes based upon the same conduct.

     On September 30, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffen ruled that prosecuting Roberto Roman for federal offenses related to the police officer's murder did not constitute double jeopardy. The federal case could therefore go forward.

     On February 6, 2017, a jury sitting in a Salt Lake City courtroom found Roberto Roman guilty of eight federal charges that included the murder of Deputy Fox. U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffen will sentence the cop killer on April 27, 2017.



      

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Tristen Kurilla: A 10-Year-old Killer

     Tristen Kurilla, a fifth-grade student at Damascus Elementary School, lived with his mother, Martha Virbitsky, and his grandfather in Damascus Township, Pennsylvania, a rural community in the northeast corner of the state near the N…

     Tristen Kurilla, a fifth-grade student at Damascus Elementary School, lived with his mother, Martha Virbitsky, and his grandfather in Damascus Township, Pennsylvania, a rural community in the northeast corner of the state near the New York line. Helen Novak, a 90-year-old woman being cared for by the boy's grandfather, Anthony Virbitsky, lived under the same roof.

     On Saturday October 11, 2014, Anthony Virbitsky checked on Helen Novak to find that she was having trouble breathing. He offered to take her to the emergency room but she refused. Less than an hour later, when Mr. Virbitsky entered Novak's room to make sure she was okay, he found her dead. The caregiver called 911 to report the passing of the elderly woman.

     Not long after the Wayne County Coroner transported Helen Novak's body to the morgue, Martha Virbitsky showed up at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in nearby Honesdale with her son. According to the mother, the boy had confessed to killing Helen Novak.

     In speaking to Trooper John Decker, Tristen Kurilla said, " I killed the lady." According to the boy, he pressed the victim's cane against her neck because he was angry that she yelled at him when he came into her room to ask her a question. He also punched her in the throat and stomach.

     "Were you trying to kill her?" asked the trooper.

     "No, I was only trying to hurt her," came the reply.

     Martha Virbitsky told the state police officer that her son had been a problem to raise. He had a violent streak and suffered from what she called "mental difficulties."

     The Wayne County district attorney charged Tristen Kurilla, as an adult, with murder. Officers booked the boy into the Wayne County Correctional Facility.

     Shortly after the 10-year-old's arrest, Kurilla's attorney, Bernie Brown, petitioned the judge to release his client from custody and move the case into juvenile court.

     In addressing the adult versus juvenile court issue, Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards pointed out that under Pennsylvania law, homicide charges, regardless of the defendant's age, must be initially filed in adult court. Moreover, juvenile detention centers do not accept children charged with criminal homicide.

     The Wayne County Coroner's Office, on Monday October 13, 2014, declared Helen Novak's cause of death as "blunt force trauma to the neck." Her manner of death: homicide.

     In January 2015, a Wayne County judge, with the approval of the prosecutor, moved the Kurilla case to juvenile court. The ruling came after a psychologist testified at a competency hearing that the boy was mentally ill.

     As of March 2017, there has been a virtual news blackout on this case.

     

     

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/