law, true crime

A mom is too young to watch an execution…

For a long time, I’ve disliked the “tiered adulthood” system we have in the United States. I remember when I was a young woman, many states made it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink a beer. I thought it was crazy at the time. After all, in most cases, an 18 year old is considered an adult. An 18 year old can, for instance, sign up for the military and fight, kill, or die for their country. 18 year olds are allowed to vote, although some Republicans would like to change that after the most recent midterm elections. An 18 year old who commits capital murder can be sentenced to death, if he or she is in a death penalty state. And there have been many 18 year olds who have gotten married, had children, or both.

The list of things an 18 year old can legally do in the United States is pretty long. They are, by and large, truly considered members of the majority. I can even understand why the law exists that forbids people under 21 from legally drinking alcohol, given that the United States has such a poor public transportation system in so many areas, and people who are as young as 16 years old are allowed to drive by themselves. Medical studies have shown that a person’s brain and judgment haven’t fully developed until they are about 25 years old. Therefore, a person who is 21 might be less likely to drive drunk… although judging by the many videos that exist on YouTube, I can see that plenty of middle aged and older people still haven’t gotten the message.

Same thing goes for tobacco consumption. Since December 20, 2019, the minimum age at which it’s legal for a person to purchase or possess tobacco products is now 21 in all 50 states. That probably makes sense, since it might deter young people, whose brains are still developing, from picking up a dirty, nasty, expensive, and unhealthy habit, and dying too young of lung cancer. On the other hand, the smoking habit is a money maker for tobacco states, and it also helps cull the human race. Seriously… this was a topic we discussed when I was earning my master’s degree in public health. When many more people smoked, they tended to die younger, which helped ease the burden of our aging population somewhat. Now that smoking is less popular, people are living longer. Of course, not everyone who smokes like a chimney dies young, and when those people get sick, they really get sick. It costs more to take care of them. But then, everybody dies, right? And who needs another “nanny law”? Believe it or not, Trump was the president who signed the “Tobacco 21” legislation, making the minimum age for tobacco consumption a federal law. That was one thing he did right, I guess.

But a person can still do some pretty major stuff when they turn 18. In many cases, an 18 year old is considered a legal adult, and a full fledged member of the majority. That’s why I was puzzled yesterday, when I read about 19 year old Corionsa “Khorry” Ramey, a young mom from Missouri who was just denied the right to attend her father’s execution.

Ramey was just two years old when her father, 37 year old Kevin Johnson, went to prison after he was convicted of first degree murder. In 2005, Johnson was found guilty of killing Kirkwood, Missouri, 43 year old police sergeant and married father of three, William McEntee. For that crime, Johnson is scheduled to pay the ultimate penalty— execution by lethal injection at 6pm tonight at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri.

Even though he’s been in prison for most of Ramey’s life, Kevin Johnson has somehow managed to be an involved parent to his daughter. Throughout the years, Ramey and Johnson have kept in touch through letters, phone calls, emails, and regular visits. They have developed a close bond, and Johnson requested that Ramey be one of the five people permitted to witness his execution. Nevertheless, because Ramey is only 19, she is barred from witnessing her father’s execution. Missouri law prohibits people under age 21 from attending executions. Federal Judge Brian Wimes refused to make an exception for Ramey, who is, by most accounts, a legal adult. Ramey is also the mother of a newborn son. Mr. Johnson did get to meet his grandson last month.

In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), attorneys argued that the state law violated Ms. Ramey’s constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The complaint ACLU attorneys filed on Ms. Ramey’s behalf requested the court to stop the state from executing Johnson unless Ramey was permitted to attend as a witness. I suppose it’s possible that the ACLU lawsuit was one tactic used to prevent the state from executing Mr. Johnson. Johnson’s attorneys have also tried to stop tonight’s execution. They don’t deny that Johnson is guilty of murdering Sergeant McEntee, but have argued that racial discrimination played a part in the prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of Kevin Johnson.

The aspect of this case that really gave me pause, though, was reading that Ms. Ramey’s mother was killed when Ramey was just four years old, and that she had witnessed her mother’s death. While I’m certain that state ordered execution is a horrible thing to witness, the argument that Ramey is “too young” to see it is kind of ridiculous, as she’s already seen her mother die when she was a small child. Granted, the law is for everyone to follow, and it wouldn’t be right to ignore it in just one special case. But why set the minimum age at 21, if an 18 year old is an adult in most aspects of life in the United States? If Ramey were so inclined, she could join the military and see her comrades die in battle. She could be convicted of a capital crime herself and be executed at an age younger than 21. Why is 21 considered the “magic age” for witnessing something like this?

According to KOMU.com, Mr. Johnson was himself just 19 years old when he killed Sergeant McEntee. On July 5, 2005, police officers, including McEntee, were investigating a vehicle that was believed to belong to Johnson. Johnson had outstanding misdemeanor warrants and was believed to have violated his probation for assaulting his girlfriend. The police had come to his home to serve a warrant for his arrest. Johnson had seen the police officers approaching, and woke his 12 year old brother, Joseph “Bam Bam” Long. He told the boy, who suffered from a congenital heart defect, to go next door to their grandmother’s house. Bam Bam ran to their grandmother’s house, but then collapsed and suffered a seizure. McEntee had allegedly held back Bam Bam’s mom, as the boy convulsed; he later died at a hospital. Johnson blamed McEntee for his brother’s death.

Later that same evening, McEntee returned to the neighborhood to investigate unrelated reports of fireworks being shot off. At that point, McEntee encountered Johnson again, and Johnson was enraged over the sudden death of his little brother. He pulled out a gun and shot McEntee several times, which resulted in the police officer’s death. Years later, in an interview, Johnson took responsibility for the murder and admitted that he couldn’t blame McEntee for his brother’s untimely demise.

Earlier in this post, I mentioned the fact that medical research has shown that human brains are incompletely developed until around age 25 or so. Johnson’s lawyers argued that at age 19, Johnson’s brain and sense of judgment weren’t fully developed when he murdered McEntee. They also mention racism, which I’m sad to say, is still a very real thing.

Personally, I am against the death penalty in most cases. I think it’s an appropriate penalty when a person is clearly so unhinged that they will pose a danger if they are ever free again. The recent case of Darrell Brooks comes to mind; I watched and listened to him in court, and noticed that he had absolutely no remorse for killing six innocent people in a Wisconsin Christmas parade last year. He’s an example of a person whom I believe would not be reformed by prison and would think nothing of killing again if he felt provoked. Mr. Brooks was recently sentenced to six life sentences for murdering those people at the parade. Kevin Johnson committed his crime in a red state, where many people preach about the sanctity of life for the unborn, but have no compunction about allowing the state to kill already born people. Most already born people, of course, know what an execution is, and they often have family members and friends who will also suffer when they are executed.

I absolutely agree that Mr. Johnson needs to be punished for his crimes. I am glad to see that he took responsibility for what he did, and has been doing what he can to foster a relationship with his daughter. While I disagree that the death penalty is a the right punishment for most murder cases, I understand that Johnson killed a cop in a very red state, and very red states often penalize cop killers with the death penalty. I do think, however, that if the state is going to execute a man for a crime he committed when he was 19, the state should allow legal adults– that includes people over age 18, which Khorry Ramey is– to witness executions. And while an execution is not something I would ever want to witness myself, I can’t speak for everybody. Obviously, Khorry Ramey thinks she’s old enough and can handle it. Since she’s an adult and a parent herself, the court ought to take her wishes into consideration.

And… let’s not even get into the crazy irony that is regular life in the USA right now, when any idiot can carry a gun into a Walmart and murder people in cold blood. Our legal system is completed whacked.

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bad TV, movies, narcissists, true crime

I just watched Secrets of a Gold Digger Killer…

About fifteen years ago, when Bill and I were still living in my native state of Virginia, I read a true crime book by Kathryn Casey. The title of the book was She Wanted it All: A True Story of Sex, Murder, and a Texas Millionaire. At the time that I read the book, Bill was serving a deployment in Iraq. As worried as I was about him, I was also freaked out about his ex wife, who had done some extreme things in the previous year to mess up Bill’s relationship with his daughters. In so many ways, Celeste Beard Johnson’s story reminded me of Ex, only there wasn’t a murder involved.

I reviewed Kathryn Casey’s book on Epinions.com, noting that the story of Celeste Beard Johnson reminded me a lot of my husband’s ex wife, and the drama she was visiting on us at the time. I got nightmares after reading that book. You can find my review here; when Epinions.com died, I managed to save some of my old reviews and have put them on my blog.

Last week, I noticed that a lot of people were reading my review of She Wanted It All. I am Facebook friends with Kathryn Casey, and she had posted about how Celeste’s daughters, Jennifer and Kristina, had done an interview for 20/20. I wasn’t able to watch the show because I live in Germany, and I wasn’t home when it aired, anyway. Maybe I’ll see if I can find it on YouTube or iTunes.

Anyway, when I noticed I was getting a bunch of hits on that old book review from the spring of 2007, I did some Internet sleuthing and discovered that last year, Lifetime put out a made for TV movie about Celeste’s story. The movie, Secrets of a Gold Digger Killer (2021), stars Julie Benz, whom I knew from Desperate Housewives. Julie Benz and I are about the same age, but she’s still very attractive. I liked her in other things I’ve seen her in, so I downloaded the movie and watched it yesterday.

One thing it’s important to remember, of course, is that a made for TV movie is really a movie that’s based on a true story. It also requires condensing a story so that it fits in a short timeframe. Celeste Beard’s story is a hell of a lot more complicated than the way it was portrayed in the made for TV movie. I think Julie Benz was a good choice to play Celeste, but the story is a bit watered down, as it would be. What’s kind of sad about it, though, is that Lifetime’s treatment of it is actually kind of campy. That’s too bad, because I think there are a lot of women like Celeste in the world… toxic, money grifting, narcissistic assholes who are not much better than vampires.

The official trailer for the movie… At this writing, someone has also uploaded the whole thing, so you don’t have to pay iTunes to see it.

At the beginning of the movie, Celeste (Benz) is shown flirting with an older man at an Austin, Texas country club, serving him vodka tonics. The lonely old man, Steven Beard, is a wealthy Austin area television mogul. He’s loaded with money, but since his wife died, he has no one to share his good fortune with. Celeste zeroes in on him, putting on the charm, batting her eyes, and quickly convincing him to fall in love with her and let her and her two daughters, Jennifer and Kristina, move in with him. The movie doesn’t explain this, but Jennifer and Kristina are twins, and products of Celeste’s first marriage to Craig Bratcher. She alienated the girls from their father, and they even wound up in foster care a few times, when she couldn’t foist them off on family. Bratcher eventually committed suicide, as Celeste drained her subsequent husbands of money and other resources. When she married Beard, Celeste insisted that he adopt her daughters, although in the film, it looks as if adopting them was Steven’s idea.

She would marry twice more before making Steven Beard her fourth husband. At the beginning of their relationship, Beard was very kind and generous, and he was patient and understanding when Celeste would spend his money recklessly. When he finally got fed up with her crazy spending habits, Beard brought up the “D” word. Celeste responded by threatening suicide, which led to her being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. There, she met Tracey Tarlton, who was an openly lesbian woman with anger issues and a history of depression. She and Celeste became buddies, and later, had a relationship.

Tracey Tarlton is played by Justine Warrington, who gives the character an almost comic treatment. She confesses to Celeste that she got in trouble for hitting an ex lover’s husband with her truck. When Celeste asks her if she really did that, Tracey says, with a conspiratorial giggle, “No… but I thought about it.” It was at that point that I realized how tasteless this adaptation of Beard’s story really is. Lifetime turned it into a salacious tale, seeming to miss that a man who had friends and family members who loved him was killed for Celeste’s selfish agenda.

Celeste talks Tracey into killing Steven Beard. She convinces her that he’s an abusive man who will leave her destitute and alone if they get a divorce. Tracey got it into her head that if Steven Beard was out of the way, she and Celeste could be together and live happily ever after. But after Steven died, Celeste took up with her fifth husband. That was when the real life Tracey spoke up. The movie makes it appear that the girls had talked her into confessing what really happened. Celeste had signed a prenuptial agreement that would have given her $500,000 in the case of divorce. But if Steven died, she’d get half of his fortune, as the other half would go to Steven’s daughter from his first marriage, a woman named Becky (Patricia Harras) who was older than Celeste. In real life, Celeste was 38 years younger than Steven Beard. Julie Benz is clearly older than the real life Celeste was when this was happening in the early 90s. The actors portrayed Celeste and Steven were too close in age.

One thing I noticed was the detective– Detective Rolands– who seems to pronounce the name so that it sounds like “Rawlins”, which made me think that’s a common name for cops and detectives on TV. Every time he referred to himself by name and flashed a snarky look at Celeste, I was reminded of cheesy 70s and 80s era cop shows.

I didn’t think the acting in this movie was particularly good, either. I remember thinking Julie Benz was so beautiful when she was on Desperate Housewives. I thought she was a good actress, too. In this film, she was all gushy and unconvincing. I came away with the idea that she did this movie strictly for the money. It’s not that I really expected a whole lot better from Lifetime TV. Most of the newest movies I’ve seen made by them are pretty terrible on every level, from the quality of acting, to the veracity of the stories presented, to the way certain things are presented, like crime investigations. They bear little resemblance to the truth and aren’t plausible. Some of it probably has to do with the budget and needing attractive people to star. I’m also sure some people like vapid, shallow, forgettable movies rather than detailed stories.

There was a time when they made movies that were of decent quality, but the ones I’ve seen recently have been disappointing. I saw one they made with Judd Nelson in it. I like Judd Nelson as an actor– I grew up in the 80s, after all. But that movie, Girl in the Basement (2021), which was loosely based on the Josef Fritzl story, was also very campy, salacious, and poorly acted. And both of these movies, made for Lifetime TV, barely scratched the surface of the complexity of the stories. In better hands, this could have been a very compelling movie. I would hope it would have been handled with more respect, too. Lifetime treats it almost like it should be a funny story. There’s nothing funny about what Celeste Beard did to Steven Beard, his daughter, or her daughters, who– thankfully– are much better people than she is.

When I reviewed Kathryn Casey’s book, She Wanted it All, my husband was very estranged from his daughters. As time passed, one of his daughters reconnected and has shown us that, like Jennifer and Kristina Beard, she’s a much better caliber of person than her mother is. Sadly, like Jennifer and Kristina, my husband’s daughters were basically turned into servants, serving their mother’s narcissism and need to take everything from everyone close to her. But when I first read about Celeste Beard, I literally had nightmares, because she reminded me so much of Ex. This movie is laughable and silly… just as Ex has become to me… even if she’s still not a laughing matter to her poor daughter, who still takes her seriously, because she’s still her mother, even if she is a lying, narcissistic twit.

I feel like this true crime story should have been treated with a lot more seriousness and respect. If you are truly interested in this story, I would definitely recommend taking the time to read Kathryn Casey’s book. It’s very comprehensive and well-written, and you’ll get the real story, rather than this appalling bullshit that attempts to turn a tragedy into a comedy show. It’s really not funny, and shouldn’t have been turned into a campy Lifetime TV story.

Celeste Beard is currently serving a life sentence, although she will be eligible for parole in 2042. Tracey Tarleton was released from prison in 2011 and has completed her parole. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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disasters, dogs, Ex, music

“I was a fool to care”…

We’re back from our few days of whimsy in France, capped off by a concert by James Taylor. We came home last night from the show to find that Arran made a big mess. First, there was a pile of crap on the rug. I cleaned that up, as Bill discovered the mess he left in the basement, after breaking through the flimsy barrier Bill tried to erect. We keep some food in the basement, because like most German houses, this house lacks a proper pantry.

Arran got into noodles, old taco shells, chocolate drink mix (which he didn’t seem to get much of, thankfully), and graham crackers. There was chewed up cardboard and plastic everywhere, as well as drink powder, smashed pasta, and other assorted debris that we cleaned up at 11:00pm. Then, I discovered a pee spot on the same rug Arran has designated his own private indoor Klo (German for potty). I don’t know why, but he always chooses my favorite rugs to befoul. The funny thing is, it appeared that Noyzi had nothing whatsoever to do with the mischief making. He was in his bed when we got home, apparently long asleep. He saw me, wagged his tail, and asked for a belly rub.

Arran has always done this kind of stuff, given an opportunity, but the steroid meds he takes make him even hungrier and more determined than ever. Fortunately, he seems to be suffering no ill effects today. Bill usually does a very obsessive job of “beagle proofing” before we go out anywhere. He takes everything up from under the counter and puts the stuff in the bathroom or on top of the counter. And he makes a point of putting the most dangerous stuff in cupboards or high shelves.

Arran tried very hard to make up with me after trashing the basement and befouling my rug.

Unfortunately, we had forgotten about some stuff in the basement that’s been there awhile. We don’t have a door to stop Arran from going down there, though we do use a baby gate. He managed to push past it, even though Bill parked a crate of beer behind it. I guess we’re going to have to build a wall… or maybe invest in a Schrank (portable cupboard). It’s a good thing I don’t go out that often.

In spite of his raid on our dry goods, Arran seems to be fine today. He slept through the night and eagerly ate his breakfast. He could tell I was pissed at him last night, and snuggled next to me, because obviously he couldn’t help himself. Poor guy. We got the bills for his last four chemo treatments. They came to about 445 euros. Added to the first bill, which was under 300 euros, I can still say that German chemo for dogs is very reasonably priced. And even though Arran is naughtier than ever, it’s restored him to his old self… at least temporarily. So, we’ll take it and try to enjoy him, even though he really can be a little shit sometimes. But then, that’s part of his charm.

Now, to address today’s blog post title…

As I mentioned last night, Bill and I saw James Taylor perform. This show was originally supposed to happen in February 2022, but COVID numbers were too high at that time, so it was postponed until November 8. Then, James got COVID and had to cancel several shows. Luckily, Frankfurt wasn’t cancelled, but it was postponed. So we went last night and had a really good time. I see from Setlist.fm that James cut a few songs from the show– songs he did in Stuttgart, which was the last show he did before he got sick. Still, it was an excellent concert, and we were happy with the songs he did perform. There was no need for him to do more, especially since I could see that he was probably still a little fatigued from COVID. He still seemed a little pale and shaky to me, but it didn’t stop him from singing, playing, and jumping around the stage like a younger man. And as a fan since, at least, the late 70s, I left the concert hall very satisfied. I was particularly impressed that he took the time to sign a lot of stuff for his fans. I chose not to try for an autograph myself, but I enjoyed seeing how happy he made some of the other concertgoers. James Taylor obviously loves what he does, and that is a joy to see. He’s a lucky man, but we are just as lucky to witness him doing what he was obviously born to do.

One song James didn’t play was one from the 70s called “I Was a Fool to Care”. This song, from Gorilla, an album he released in 1975, was performed at a show in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2015. He looks a bit haler in the video below…

Here, he has a full band. Last night was a more pared down production, but I was in the second row, which was a great experience.

This song is about unrequited love– a man realizes that the woman he loves is not really worthy of his love. She lies and cheats. He’s heard about it through the grapevine, but brushed the warnings aside, even though she’s not a good person. He loves her anyway, even though it’s obvious she’s a liar who is using him, playing him for a fool. I’m not in a situation like that. Thankfully, I managed to find a good partner, and we love and trust each other. However, we both came with baggage… and that includes people on either side of our families who probably aren’t worth so much of our love and attention. It’s hard, though, not to care, if you are naturally a caring, decent person. Or even if you care about other people’s opinions of you…

Recently, I wrote about how my husband’s former wife has “targeted” his stepmother for financial “assistance”. I first noticed it (this time) in the spring. I write “this time” in parentheses, because Ex has a history of using people. She has used Bill’s stepmother repeatedly. In the past, nothing has really been done about it, because Ex has a way of shell-shocking people into being silent. However, we have been on the receiving end of complaints about how ungrateful and unkind Ex is. We have seen, personally, how she has used Bill’s father and stepmother for money and material goods, as well as manipulative tools/flying monkeys against her victims. And now, since he reconnected with his daughter, we’ve heard that this shit has been ongoing with a number of victims, some of whom are elderly and/or infirm.

At least one of the things Ex has been accused of doing is a felony. If she was to be caught and prosecuted, she could be heavily fined and/or spend several years in prison. Ex’s husband works in healthcare, and she has had elderly relatives living with her. She also has two children in the home who have different levels of autism, for whom she receives money from the state. I don’t know if either of them take medication, but I do know that at least one of the elderly relatives was prescribed opiates. And Ex allegedly helped herself to them, which is illegal and potentially dangerous.

As I write this post, I’m remembering that around the time she was bugging SMIL, Ex was also talking about getting a dog for her son. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t cause too much alarm… except that dogs can be exploited for drugs, too. As I was looking up laws where Ex lives, I ran across a 2017 article from the Washington Post about people who use their pets to get prescription meds. I don’t see a gift option for this article, so below are a few excerpts:

Last year in Virginia, a dog owner took his boxer to six veterinarians to get anti-anxiety pills and painkillers for his own use before he was caught, according to Fairfax County police, who said the owner was eventually charged with prescription fraud.

In Kentucky in 2014, a woman was accused of cutting her golden retriever twice with a razor so she could get drugs. And in the early 2000s, a man in Ohio allegedly taught his dog to cough on cue so the owner could get hydrocodone.

Such cases are believed to be rare, but authorities are working to cut off the supply of abused drugs. The Fairfax County Police Department recently published a brochure showing veterinarians how to spot a “vet shopper.”

The clues include: new patients bringing in seriously injured animals, requesting certain medications by name, seeking early refills of prescriptions and claiming that medications had been lost or stolen.

The Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine issued emergency regulations in June limiting the duration of prescriptions that may be ordered for controlled substances. A vet may provide a seven-day supply and a seven-day refill only after reevaluating the animal.

For chronic conditions, the vet may prescribe an opioid for six months but must see and reevaluate the animal before prescribing more.

I absolutely do think Ex is capable of this kind of fuckery. I’d like to think she isn’t– as she comes across as a very nice, reasonable person online, or at least that is the image she tries very hard to project. But again, I know people who know her, and I’ve seen the literal scars she’s left on Bill. I don’t know if she’s abused anyone else in the way she abused my husband, but I do know that people close to her have been burned. She continues to do this stuff, though, because people allow it. It’s easier to look the other way than call the cops.

Some people seem to think there’s nothing we can do about this situation. As I have mentioned more than once, I totally disagree. However, I don’t think I’m the one who should make the report, because I’m not the one who has seen the evidence firsthand. Moreover, SMIL and I don’t have much of a relationship. From the beginning of my marriage to her stepson, she has treated me like a homewrecking interloper. I am neither of those things; however, I am also not a doormat. So I don’t get too close to her, because frankly, I don’t have to, and I don’t really want to. SMIL isn’t my responsibility. Frankly, I find her immature, manipulative, and disrespectful. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care what happens to her. It also doesn’t mean that I never hear from other people who do have a close relationship to her and love her very much. I don’t want to see SMIL being victimized. She isn’t malevolent; she’s just very insecure. And I know that she is loved by many people.

Personally, I think it’s time legal action was taken, but I also know it’s not my call to make. So maybe I am a “fool to care”. Why waste time even thinking about this? It’s not my problem, and some people already seem to think I’m a heartless bitch, anyway. I can’t win, so I might as well do whatever causes me less grief. But because I’m not actually a heartless bitch, I do write about it, which seems to make some people feel like they need to conflate their experiences with ours. These are different people in different states, and what worked or didn’t work for some people might or might not work in this situation. Moreover, it’s just not helpful to tell someone who is concerned about a problem that nothing can be done. Especially when you don’t actually know any of the people involved.

I understand that sometimes, people do this because they’re frustrated, or they tried to do something in a similar situation and were dissatisfied with the results. There’s every chance that the same thing might happen in this situation. Or, maybe it won’t. Or maybe nothing will happen. Anyway, I just don’t think being dismissive or skeptical is useful. I just fear that at some point, what Ex does is eventually going to be egregious enough that someone will be forced to take some action. There could even be a tragedy involved. And if something tragic happens, it’s highly likely that people will wonder why no one ever said or did anything about Ex before the issues managed to get to that point.

We can’t win, can we. So maybe we really are fools to care. Or maybe I am… because it’s not really my problem. So, I think I’m going to write on my travel blog… and then go read more of Michael Cohen’s latest book.

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law, true crime

A routine traffic stop turns deadly… and now a man is on death row…

Yesterday, while we were waiting for Arran’s chemo appointment, I found myself watching a video about a true crime that happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 29, 2020. I didn’t seek out this video and, in fact, hadn’t even heard of this case before yesterday. I landed on this video entirely by chance, and was about halfway through it before I realized how shocking this case is. It made me realize why police work is so very dangerous, even when it seems like a traffic stop is totally mundane.

It was about 3:00 am on that fateful June night. David Anthony Ware was driving a car that had expired tags. He also ran a stop sign and failed to yield to Officer Aurash Zarkeshan, who then turned on his lights to signal to Ware that he was being stopped. David Ware pulled over, and Officer Zarkeshan began to question him, asking for identification, proof of insurance, and other information. At first, the stop seems to be going on in a routine manner, although Ware is clearly eager to be on his way.

Zarkeshan checks Ware’s background and finds that he has a police record and is a convicted felon, which Ware claims was supposed to be expunged. Soon, Sergeant Craig Johnson is on the scene. Zarkeshan asks Ware to step out of the vehicle. Ware then becomes agitated and uncooperative. He demands to speak to Zarkeshan’s supervisor, who happens to be Sergeant Johnson. Johnson identifies as Zarkeshan’s boss, and demands that Ware get out of the car. Ware continues to refuse to get out of the vehicle, so Johnson starts to yell at him, his voice growing more and more forceful and angry. He threatens to use his Taser and Mace. In spite of that, Ware doesn’t comply, probably because he was a convicted felon, and he knew that if he got out of the car, the police would find his gun, and that would mean going to jail. If he was under the influence of drugs, that might have also contributed to his mental state.

I heard Sergeant Johnson’s insistent shouts turn to screams, as he uses profanity and deploys the Taser. Somehow, the device doesn’t manage to stun Ware into compliance, and neither does the Mace. Ware had prior drug charges and given that the Taser and spray weren’t effective, my guess is that he was under the influence of drugs during that stop. That would have also made him dangerous behind the wheel.

Ware then gets on his phone and calls his friend, Matt, who shows up as the traffic stop is truly escalating and both cops are trying to force Ware to get out of the car as he screams for help. Unfortunately, the police officers were so focused on getting Ware out of the car and Ware’s friend, Matt, on the scene, that they didn’t see Ware reach under the driver’s seat and pull out a handgun. Ware was able to fire a few rounds into the officers before they knew what happened. In the below video, the visuals are thankfully redacted, but you can hear Johnson start to say, “What the fuck.” as he realizes he’s been shot at close range. Ware shoots him again in the head. Zarkeshan was also severely wounded, but not killed, as Ware jumps into Matt’s car and leaves the two police officers for dead.

Ware’s friend, Matthew Hall, was charged with two counts of being an accessory to a shooting with intent to kill. He pled not guilty. Last year, Mr. Hall was convicted of both charges. He is now serving twenty-four years in prison. Prior to June 29, 2020, Mr. Hall had no criminal history. It just goes to show how, in a moment of poor judgment, a person’s life can be changed forever.

In May of 2022, Mr. Ware was convicted of the capital charge, first degree murder and shooting with intent to kill. He was also found guilty of shooting with intent to kill, possession of a firearm after former felony conviction, unlawful possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute, and obstruction. I assume that “shooting with intent to kill” is separate from the capital charge, since a person can shoot another person, intending to kill them, but not actually succeeding in killing them. Ware did kill Sergeant Johnson, but he did not succeed in killing Officer Zarkeshan, hence the separate charge for his crime against the surviving officer.

At the end of Ware’s trial in April 2022, the jury recommended the death penalty. Judge William LaFortune agreed, and in May, Ware was sentenced to death, as well as life in prison for the shooting with intent to kill charge, 30 years for possession of a firearm after former felony conviction, 25 years for the drug possession charge, and one year for obstruction. There are also massive fines, which will probably never be collected. Ware was already scheduled for the death chamber in August of this year, but as is standard in these cases, there’s an automatic appeal. Ware’s attorney, Kevin Adams, filed documents in support of overturning the verdict. He said that in Oklahoma, there’s about a 50 percent rate of overturning death penalty punishments, while the prosecutor said that he hoped the penalty would “deter people” from disobeying law enforcement and using firearms against them.

Special thanks to the Line of Duty channel for sharing this video.

I played this video for Bill last night. Bill was horrified for the cops involved, and although he is mostly against the death penalty, he said he felt it might be justified in this case. Personally, I disagree, because I am more against the death penalty than my husband is. I really think it should be reserved for cases in which a person represents a truly severe danger to the public, such that releasing that person will result in more people being killed. Frankly, I would be more inclined to sentence someone like Darrell Brooks to death than David Ware. Brooks, to me, has obvious disdain for other people and clearly has no sorrow for what he did. He also killed more people in a less humane way, and injured dozens more people. That mindset won’t be fixed with rehab. I don’t think Brooks can redeem himself, as being the way he is is likely due to his personality. Ware, on the other hand, might be salvageable if he got clean.

Mr. Ware does not strike me as being as obviously cold and callous as Brooks is. Even though he could have avoided the escalation simply by complying with the cops, I can hear genuine fear and anguish in his voice as he screams for help. According to the US News & World Report:

“The truth is that when David Ware shot Officer Zarkeshan and Sgt. Johnson, he was in fear for his life,” Ware’s attorney Kevin Adams said. “Sgt. Johnson and Officer Zarkeshan beat David Ware, they kicked David Ware, they tased David Ware, they maced David Ware as he pleaded and begged for somebody to help him.

“And when it got to the point that he felt that he was about to lose his life, he shot Officer Zarkashan and he shot Sgt. Craig Johnson.”

Ware said that he meant to shoot the officers in their body armor in the hopes it would incapacitate them long enough for him to escape. But then he shot Sergeant Johnson in the head after both officers were on the ground.

Having watched and listened to the video a few times, I can agree with Kevin Adams that Ware “lost it” and the crime escalated because he feared for his life. Yes, he absolutely should have complied with the officers, and he should certainly be in prison for the rest of his life. But Ware probably hadn’t planned to hurt or kill anyone that night. He committed a driving infraction and was pulled over, and if his luck had been better, he would have gone home without taking anyone’s life. When he was threatened by the police officers, he probably did literally fear for his life. I’m not saying it was a credible fear that Ware would be killed by the cops, but I believe that he did experience that fear, and that influenced his extreme actions.

Darrell Brooks, on the other hand, clearly meant to hurt and kill people when he drove his SUV into a parade route at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. What he did was clearly premeditated, and he obviously had no fear or remorse whatsoever. He’s a very callous individual who seems to hate the world. To me, that indicates that Brooks is a lot more dangerous than Ware is. I think he would be a better candidate for execution than Ware is.

However, unlike Brooks, David Ware committed his crime in a red state, where the death penalty is strongly supported by the citizenry. He also killed a police officer, and in a lot of death penalty states, that will result in a death sentence. I doubt the death penalty in this case will deter anyone, though. These types of crimes often happen when someone is highly emotional and not thinking clearly. What might make this type of crime less likely to happen is if the United States got much more serious about gun control and limiting public access to weapons. But that will probably never happen in my lifetime. Even if it did, there are so many guns out there that it probably would take a long time before the public’s access to them would be diminished enough to make a difference.

I feel very sorry for Sergeant Johnson’s family, especially his wife and two children. He was clearly a brave man, and it’s obvious from the video that he didn’t want to use the Taser. He gave Mr. Ware multiple opportunities to comply, and warned him several times before deploying the Taser. Maybe it would have been better if he had been a little bit colder, and not given Ware a chance to prepare before popping him with the Taser. But I’m not a cop, so I really don’t know. And again, as is obvious from the video, there was a lot of emotion going on at the time of the shootings. All three of the men engaged in that fight were operating on high adrenaline and instinct, rather than rational thought. It’s truly a terrible thing that it turned out this way, as three men’s lives were forever altered and shortened, and one man’s life was ended way before his time should have been up.

Anyway… given how the death penalty is, my guess is that David Ware still has some time to spend thinking about what he’s done. I don’t think he intended to be a murderer, even though that’s how it worked out for him. If he hadn’t had a handgun in his car, he almost surely wouldn’t be on death row in Oklahoma. Darrell Brooks, on the other hand, strikes me as someone who would easily kill again if he ever walks free. Hopefully, the state of Wisconsin will keep Brooks put away for the rest of his life. And I have no doubt that Ware’s days as a free man are over, and he probably will be executed as planned.

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animals, Ex, songs, true crime

Powerful explosions, pesky varmints, and pearl necklaces…

Special thanks to SurryJohn on Wikipedia, who has granted permission to share his photo of a marten and provided today’s unedited and unaltered featured photo. I have never actually seen the marten who has been digging in the backyard, but my guess is that it looks somewhat like the one in the photo.

Welcome to Wednesday’s post. I’m pleased to report that although Arran woke us up at about 3AM, there weren’t any other big bangs this morning. I am, of course, making reference to the huge boom we heard yesterday morning at about 3:45 AM. Bill and I were actually awake at that time, thanks to Arran and his Prednisolone urges to eat. Poor guy woke both of us up a few minutes earlier; I distinctly remember looking at my iPad for the time. I’m glad we weren’t awakened by the sound of the nearby explosion, because that would have been pretty scary. Of course, there were also emergency vehicles and their blaring sirens interrupting the peace a short while later.

I mentioned yesterday that the explosion came from the sound of some criminally motivated asshole blowing up the ATM at our local REWE (grocery store). Apparently, that’s a thing in this part of Germany (and probably other parts, too). Certain people have taken to blowing up automatic teller machines, likely in an attempt to steal money. I’m actually sure trying to steal the cash is why they do it… but perhaps they also enjoy playing with explosives. In any case, when Bill mentioned this turn of events to his co-workers, he was told that there were similar explosions in their towns, too. Naturally, the idiots who are doing this do it when no one might be hurt… or be able to describe them to the police. On the other hand, they also cause people like me to lose out on beauty sleep.

Not long after the explosion, I was in the backyard cleaning up Noyzi’s poop, when the ground suddenly gave way under one of my feet. That was when I was confronted with the small sinkhole. I had considered that perhaps a varmint was in the yard, but then thought maybe it was an issue with limestone in the soil. Bill spoke to the landlord, who came over and inspected the deep hole and said he thought it was the work of a marder. Marders, otherwise known as martens, are basically like weasels. They like to dig holes and climb into car engines when the weather is cold. They can do pretty serious damage to vehicles. However, even though they damage property and dig holes, it’s illegal to kill them in Germany. The landlord said he would come over and fill up the hole today. Now that I know there are martens in our neighborhood, I now understand why I’ve been finding strange looking poop near the front doorstep. I found a nice sized pile on the doormat the other day, noticing that it was full of seeds… probably from the bushes in the backyard. I’m now assuming the dung came from our wild, backyard, weasel like resident.

And finally, a word on the humble pearl necklace… This is another R-rated Ex related anecdote, so if that’s not interesting, move along…

Still with me? Okay…

My friend Susi shared this short video from a Facebook page called Johnny Rambo…

I suspect the above video may eventually become unavailable, so here’s a brief description. The woman in the video is wailing about being forced to wear handcuffs. She appears to be a victim of domestic violence of some sort. Or, she is at least claiming that her husband lied and victimized her, and she’s upset that she’s been arrested and is in handcuffs at a hospital. She yells that her husband is the one who’s been in jail, and yet she’s there in handcuffs.

I don’t know a single thing about what happened, other than what I can see is in the clip, and what she yells at the nurse who is trying to help her. The nurse tries to explain that the cuffs are for the safety of the woman, the cops, and the medical staff. I remember reading about how, when she was rescued from her kidnappers, Elizabeth Smart was placed in handcuffs. At the time, I was horrified for her, but now I realize that cops really don’t know what a person’s mental status is. Still, handcuffs are very uncomfortable and, in some ways, kind of inhumane. Last year, I had problems with my shoulder being impinged. I kept thinking about how it would be agony to have to wear handcuffs. I couldn’t reach behind my back or raise my arm without significant pain.

Anyway, the woman in the video, drops to her knees in prayer, then snarls at the nurse who suggests taking her blood pressure, saying that she’s been checked all over. “See if I’m pregnant at 66 years old!” she seethes, as the nurse says that’s a possibility (pregnancy at 66!!!). The woman is very dramatic in an over-the-top way, which tells me that she probably gives as good as she gets. She seems outraged and indignant, rather than shattered.

Then she yells, “I know it is. He’s put it in my ear, face, and put it all over me! How would you like to have cum poured all over you?!”

The nurse tells her to stop talking about that, as there’s a child nearby, and the woman snaps, “Well, maybe that child needs to hear about it”, as the video ends. I notice that the lady is well dressed in a charming pink ensemble and she’s wearing a pretty pearl necklace. I like pearls. The pearl is one of my birthstones. As Bill and I were watching this video short, I was suddenly reminded of a story he told me about his ex wife, back in the day. You see, they both went to the same Houston high school as Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top did.

One day, Ex was talking about the song “Pearl Necklace” by ZZ Top. Apparently, she was a fan of the song. I must admit, although I am familiar with ZZ Top, I am hearing the song for the first time this morning…

Apparently, Ex didn’t know what this song was referring to when she was enjoying it…

She came to Bill enthusiastically talking about how great the 1981 song “Pearl Necklace” is… and Bill started to chuckle, because she obviously didn’t realize that this was a song about something other than actual pearls… See the lyrics below:

She’s really upset with me again

I didn’t give her what she likes
I don’t know what to tell her
Don’t know what to say
Everything got funky last night
She was really bombed

And I was really blown away
Until I asked her what she wanted
And this is what she had to say
A pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace
She gets a charge out of bein’ so weird

Digs gettin’ downright strange
But I can keep a handle on anything
Just this side of deranged
She was gettin’ bombed

And I was gettin’ blown away
And she held it in her hand
And this is what she had to say
A pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace

She’s so cold
As pure as the driven slush
And that’s not jewelry she’s talkin’ about

It really don’t cost that much
She was gettin’ bombed
And I was gettin’ blown away
And she took it in her hand
And this is what she had to say
A pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace
She wanna pearl necklace

Ex then got a clue and was supposedly horrified by the song’s reference, even though she is quite experienced in such realms… much more so than I am. I have never had that kind of pearl necklace, and Bill would never give me one, even if I was interested. I know… that’s super gross, but I swear, when I saw that video and heard that poor lady in her pearl necklace talking about being cummed upon by her husband, that old story popped right into my sick mind. God forgive me.

Well, that about does it for today’s blog post. May your day be without random explosions, critters who shit on your doorstep and put deep holes in your backyard, or the wrong kinds of pearl necklaces. Oh… and by the way, Facebook let me out of “jail” yesterday, because they realized that the video below isn’t “sexually suggestive” after I complained. However, they evidently don’t have a problem with a guy sharing a video about a woman talking about being cummed on by her husband. Crazy.

Yes, sharing this video got me put in Facebook jail for a day. There is nothing inappropriate about it. It’s just weird.

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