The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Ever since that night in May 2013 when her daughter told her that her friend’s daddy – the seemingly ordinary guy who hung out with the kids in the neighborhood, but who turned out to be former “Minutemen” leader Chris Simcox – had molested her the previous February, Michelle Lynch’s world has been an endless limbo of uncertainty while wrestling with her daughter’s pain.
It’s a feeling, she says, that has only been worsened by her experiences with the court system as she awaits the day when Simcox will stand trial more than two years after the event.
Appeals Court Declines to Hold Up Simcox Child-Molestation Trial, Clearing Way for Him to Query Alleged Victims
Prosecutors in the child molestation trial of erstwhile Minuteman leader Chris Simcox were rebuffed by a three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals in their attempt to appeal the trial judge’s ruling allowing Simcox to cross-examine his alleged victims on the witness stand.
The ruling, following a teleconference between three appeals-court jurists, means that Simcox’s trial will get under way this week. It also means that Simcox, who has insisted on representing himself in this trial, will certainly be permitted to directly cross-examine the two young girls he is accused of molesting – ages 8 and 7, now, and one of them his daughter.
Maricopa County deputy prosecutor Keli Luther argued strenuously against forcing the girls to face cross-examination from their alleged molester, insisting that they could be potentially victimized a second time. Luther requested the judges issue a stay until a full hearing could be held on whether permitting Simcox to engage his alleged victims would be psychologically traumatizing. Padilla had previously dismissed assertions by the girls’ mothers that such a situation would be traumatic for them, but Luther warned of a “very real risk of irreparable harm” by forcing the girls to “endure the defendant’s cross-examination without the buffer of defense counsel.”
She noted that:
Children who are victims of sexual abuse already re-experience that abuse when they are forced to testify in a courtroom in the presence of the accused. The trial court’s order inappropriately subjects the victims in this case to additional trauma by allowing the very man who victimized them to question them on the stand. This issue undoubtedly raises a question of public importance. The harm to the victims and society can only be stopped by preventing Defendant from personally cross-examining the victims and allowing advisory counsel to conduct the cross-examinations – a remedy recognized by several jurisdictions including the United States Court of Appeals in Fields v. Murray. Fields v. Murray, 49 F.3d 1024, 1035 (4th Cir. 1995).
The judges overruled her request, but set a hearing for oral arguments on the underlying issues for April 29. They conceded that the trial may well have concluded by then, making the argument moot.
Simcox was arrested in July 2013 and charged with molesting three young girls at his home earlier that year, when the girls were ages 6 and 5. After a grand jury declined to indict him for any crime involving the third girl, who he allegedly enticed to expose her genitals in exchange for candy, those charges were dropped. However, that girl is expected to testify as a witness for the prosecution.
According to the papers filed by prosecutors, Simcox “is alleged to have digitally penetrated his biological daughter’s [vagina] on two occasions, penetrated her vagina with an object on [one] occasion and to have fondled the genitals of his daughter’s friend on two occasions.
Simcox had initially been offered a plea bargain that would have required him to serve 10 years in prison, but he refused and insisted on taking the case to trial. Eventually, after months of disputes with his court-appointed attorneys, Simcox decided to assert his constitutional right to defend himself in court. Padilla granted him that.
However, prosecutors then sought to require Simcox to relay questions to the alleged victims through his associate attorneys, but Simcox fought them, insisting he be given the right to directly confront the girls. Judge Padilla sided with Simcox.
Judge Padilla is no stranger to controversy. In 2009, he came under harsh criticism for having refused to allow a Phoenix woman named Dawn Axsom to move herself and her son out of state to avoid violence she feared would come at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, who a short while later shot and killed both Axsom and her mother before killing himself.
Simcox was warned by a previous judge in the case (the trial has been delayed nine times) not to mount a “grand conspiracy” defense predicated on fanciful claims of a nefarious plot to persecute him for his long history of anti-immigrant activism on the Arizona border.
That long history, as the SPLC reported in 2005, includes previous allegations of sexual misbehavior with another daughter, not to mention a well-established record of erratic behavior as the leader of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps prior to its demise in 2010, as well as allegations of abuse by his third ex-wife, the mother of his current accuser.
After two days of often chilling testimony, a district court judge in Kansas ruled this week that white supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller should stand trial for the murder last spring of three people at two Jewish facilities in suburban Kansas City.
Judge Kelly Ryan, the Associated Press reports, decided Tuesday on the second day of a preliminary hearing that there was enough evidence for the 74-year-old Miller, who has been in custody since the deadly shooting spree on April 13, to go to trial.
Miller told the Kansas City Star from jail in November that he drove from his home in Aurora, Mo., to Overland Park, Ks., where the murders took place, with one thing on his mind: killing Jews.
“I wanted to make damned sure I killed some Jews or attacked the Jews before I died,” he said.
As he was taken into custody that bloody Sunday, Miller allegedly asked the police, “How many f…… Jews did I kill?”
None of the three victims — Dr. William Corporon, 69, his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Underwood, and Terri LaManno, 53 — was Jewish.
Miller’s arraignment is scheduled for March 27, and Kansas state prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
At the time of the killings, Miller later told the Star he believed he was dying from lung disease.
On Monday, according to Courthouse News Service, Miller was rolled into court in a wheelchair, hooked to an oxygen tank. The news service also reported that during the two days of testimony, Miller made several loud outbursts, including shouting racial and anti-Semitic epithets “aimed at those he believed to be his victims’ families in the courtroom.” At one point, he raised a hand-cuffed hand a few inches from his thigh in what the News Service said, “appeared to be a shackled ‘Heil Hitler’ gesture.”
On the last day of the hearing, the news service said, Miller angrily told the judge that he did not want to participate in the trial if he was not allowed to speak about his request for Internet access.
“You just want to protect the Jews,” he said. “You don’t want me to tell the truth about the Jews.”
At one point, according to the AP, Miller turned the family of Terri LaManno, apparently thinking they were relatives of the 14-year-old, who died shortly after being shot in the head in the parking lot the Jewish Community Center, crowded with teenagers, auditioning for a singing competition.
“I very much regret the little boy,” Miller told the family.
The family said they did not accept Miller’s apology.
As police took Frazier Glenn Miller into custody minutes after three people – including a 14-year-old boy – were shot to death at two Jewish facilities in suburban Kansas City last April, the long-time neo-Nazi shouted “Heil Hitler.”
Then, according to The Kansas City Star, Miller asked the officers a chilling question. “How many f——- Jews did I kill?”
The bloody scene was recalled in a Kansas courtroom today by a veteran police officer, Sgt. Marty Ingram, as the first day of testimony began in an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Miller, a lifelong racist, should stand trial for the murderous shooting spree last April in Overland Park, Kan.
Chris Simcox, the erstwhile border vigilante Minuteman movement leader, has been sitting in the Maricopa County Jail for over a year as he awaits trial on two counts of child molestation, one involving his own preteen daughter. But, judging from a recent court appearance, he is confident that he will win his freedom.
How? Apparently Simcox has some secret evidence.
According to a report from Stephen Lemons at Phoenix New Times, Simcox indicated during a recent court hearing on a possible plea agreement that there is previously unknown reasons for his arrest.
Documents filed by Simcox’s attorneys suggest he will attempt a defense based on claims that he was targeted for prosecution because of his high political profile, and that the charges against him are built on evidence from two daughters who were subject to “parental alienation” because of a “contentious divorce.”
However, Judge Joseph Welty of Maricopa County Superior Court apparently was not buying. Saying that Simcox was suggesting “some grand conspiracy at play,” he reminded Simcox, 53, that the evidence against him also involved victims who were not his daughters, and that the charges he faced were not political crimes.
The purpose of the hearing last week was to review the plea bargain that prosecutors had offered to Simcox earlier this year that would limit his prison time to seven years in exchange for a guilty plea. However, Simcox adamantly continued to refuse the deal, saying he intended to prove his innocence in court.
Simcox’s refusal ensures that the two victims in the case—one of them his now-teenage daughter, the second being a friend of hers who Simcox was supposed to be babysitting at the time—will be required to testify on the stand. The trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 17, but Simcox’s decision on the plea bargain probably means it will be pushed forward to January.
According to Lemons, a previous judge in the case ensured that so-called “propensity evidence”—involving previous incidents that suggest the defendant’s crime is part of a behavior pattern—would also be admitted.
As the SPLC reported in 2005, Simcox was accused by his first wife of molesting another daughter when she was a teenager, though no complaint was ever made to police. His second wife also sought custody of their teenage son because, she said, Simcox had become violent and unpredictable. His third wife—the mother of his current accuser—took out a restraining order against Simcox in 2010 when she divorced him.
If convicted, Simcox could face up to life in prison.
The leader of the American Front—once facing 30 years in prison—received a sentence of just six-months last week for teaching firearms and combat skills to his neo-Nazi followers, described as a heavily-armed, white supremacy militia.
The sentencing of Marcus “Mark” Faella on Nov. 10 in Kissimmee, Fla., was an anti-climatic end to what had been the largest domestic terrorism case ever prosecuted in that state. He was convicted by a jury in September.
The judge denied a request from defense attorney Ronald L. Ecker II to reverse Faella’s conviction on the grounds the jury was prejudiced by a “political flier” showing masked American Front members posing with assault weapons and a Molotov cocktail.
Faella, 41, likely will be released from jail within four months, but he will serve two years of “community control” with 24-hour electronic monitoring and 10 years probation, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The neo-Nazi leader, his wife, Patricia, and 11 other members of the American Front were arrested in May 2012 after police raided what court documents described as a fortified training compound on 10-acres owned by the couple near St. Cloud, Fla.
The arrests came after police raided what court documents described as a fortified compound near St. Cloud, Fla., where Faella and his wife, Patricia, 39, were accused of conducting illegal paramilitary training, attempting to shoot into an occupied dwelling and prejudice while committing a crime. Some of the combat training, authorities said, was carried out by an American Front member who was a military reservist from Missouri.
But, for reasons that have never been fully explained, the case began to fall apart shortly after the handcuffs were slapped on the suspects. Last April, prosecutors moved to dismiss charges against nine of the American Front members. The FBI said it was a state case, while local authorities said it was a federal investigation. One apparent weakness in the prosecution’s case involved a surveillance video released to defense attorneys who said the tape didn’t show any crimes being committed.
A federal appeals court has reversed the convictions of an Amish splinter sect leader and 15 of his followers who were found guilty in 2012 of federal hate crimes after forcibly shaving the beards and hair of breakaway members of the religious community.
The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Wednesday that a federal trial judge in Ohio had improperly instructed the jury on the motive element of the crime, which was brought under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act.
At issue in the ruling was whether the trial jury had been properly instructed on how to determine if the crimes met the motive element of the federal hate crime act, which required that the faith of the victims be a primary cause of the assault and not simply a “significant factor.” If federal prosecutors decide to appeal, the case could go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alternatively, prosecutors could decide to retry the case, correcting the jury instruction that resulted in the ruling. ( continue to full post… )
LAS VEGAS – A former “skinhead girl” now nearing middle-age, wearing sensible shoes and jailhouse shackles was the star witness in a federal courtroom here Wednesday, the first day of testimony in a racially charged double murder trial 16 years in the making.
Mandie Abels, who has the words “skinhead girl” tattooed across her back, was escorted by U. S. Marshals into courtroom 7C from a prison cell where she is serving a 15-year sentence for her role in what she called “a vile deed”—leading two anti-racist skinheads to their deaths in the desert just outside of Las Vegas.
In the early morning hours of July 4, 1998 Lin Newborn, 24, and Daniel Shersty, 21 were ambushed and shot to death, prosecutors say, by four white supremacists. “They despised what the victims stood for,” federal prosecutor Patricia Sumner told the jury during opening arguments Wednesday.
The killings were a shocking escalation in the violent—but until then rarely deadly—nationwide conflict between racist skinheads and their anti-racist rivals. Newborn, who was black and worked at a popular Las Vegas body piercing shop, and Shersty, who was a white U.S Air Force airman stationed at the nearby Nellis Air Force Base, were leaders of a fledging group called Las Vegas Unity Skins. ( continue to full post… )
All 36 members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) –– a white supremacy gang indicted in a precedent setting racketeering case brought in 2012 –– have now pleaded guilty, sparing courts millions in expensive legal costs.
The last defendant to plead guilty was Rusty Eugene Duke, 32, of Dallas, Texas, who pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court in Houston. Duke, identified as an ABT “captain,” pleaded to participating in a racketeering conspiracy.
“The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas launched its murderous and racist ideology within the Texas prisons, but unleashed a violent crime wave that jumped the prison walls and spread like a virus,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
These “sweeping convictions will ensure that these ABT gang members, from generals to soldiers, spend their years in federal prison paying for their crimes, not committing new ones,” Caldwell said.
The violent, racist-based gang, operating in and outside of Texas prisons, was responsible for multiple acts of murder, robbery, arson, kidnapping and narcotics trafficking, according to the Justice Department. The guilty verdicts came as part of a multiple-count superseding racketeering indictment returned by a federal grand jury in October 2012 in Houston, Texas, that replaced initial charges filed in May of that year. ( continue to full post… )
A federal trial is slated to begin this week in Albany, N.Y., for an orthodontist long considered an “elder” in the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement and who now faces charges of filing bogus tax returns between 2007 and 2010 in an effort to collect millions in refunds.
Glenn Richard Unger, 62, who often uses the alias “Dr. Sam Kennedy,” is accused of trying to obtain $36 million from the IRS through bogus tax returns. Federal prosecutors have also accused him of scamming another orthodontist, according to the Times Union of Albany.
In 2006, according to prosecutors, Unger told Dr. William O’Donnell that he was giving up his dental practice to do “missionary work” and take care of his ill wife. ( continue to full post… )