ANNALS OF MURDER : HERNANDEZ FROM THE INSIDE

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^ slain because he refused to let a stranger — who turned out to be Aaron Hernandez, big shot — get in front of him in line ? Daniel Abreu

below : Safiro Furtado, who evidently also refused to let the large stranger get in front of him in that Cure line

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Of all the murders now on prosecutors’ table in Massachusetts, none puzzle me more than those allegedly committed by ex-football star Aaron Hernandez. Underworld murders one grasps; they’re part of the business, and all who enter the criominal life understand that. Terrorist murders, though truly nutty, at least profess a larger purpose. But what the blazes were the murders about that Hernandez is accused of doing ?

Though nothing at all has yet been proved, and we should keep that strongly in mind, the events now outlined by various police investigations tell us a whole lot. But first let’s look at what is alleged to have happened :

1.Hernandez and a friend (said to be Alexander Bradley) are standing in line outside Cure Lounge on Tremont Street, waiting to be let in. It is midnight. There is often a line outside Cure at that time — I’ve seen them. Directly ahead of them in line are two men, who we later learn are Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Anyway, Hernandez and friend finally enter Cure directly after Abreu and Furtado.

2.Hernandez downs two drinks — the Herald says that he “slammed” them — and then leaves, with Bradley in tow.

3.The two immediately get their car, the now infamous silver SUV with Rhode island license plates, and circle the block waiting for Abreu and Furtado to leave.

4.Two hours later (!!) they’re still circling ! Now Abreu and Furtado leave, with three other people. (Q : If Bradley was in the car with Hernandez, didn’t he say something like “it ain’t worth it, man. Forget about it”? If he did not say thus,why didn’t he ? More on this below.)

5.Hernandez and Bradley follow them, circle a block, then pull up alongside the Abreu & Furtado car at a stoplight.

6.Someone fires five shots, killing Abreu and Furtado and injuring others in that car.

The question immediately comes to mind : huh ? What happened here ?

What indeed. There’s no indication that Hernandez knew the two men, nor was there any report of any altercation between him and them inside Cure. What the blazes got Hernandez so ticked off that he went out, waited two hours for the men to leave, and then shot them ?

Only one explanation makes any sense at all :  Is it not likely that he asked the two men to let him get in line ahead of them — and they refused ?

This was enough, it would seem, to violate the ego of a man to whom being a big shot was everything in a life otherwise filled with danger, hangers-on, and living for the moment.

It seems small. It’s also completely ordinary. Stuff like what happened to Hernandez in that Cure line happens to lots of people. You get refused like that, you get angry you want to kill the people who take you down, ka-bang. That’s human nature for many. But then life goes on, and you forget about it. Hernandez couldn’t forget about it. He was with his friend. His friend saw it go down. Hernandez the big shot, the star Patriot tight end, could not be seen being taken down. His front had been pied. And so the waiting and the killing. To wipe the pie off his front.

And that is why Bradley probably did not say “it ain’t worth it” to Hernandez. He either said nothing or perhaps he even encouraged Hernandez. Not because he wanted the two men to die but because he did not want HIMSELF to die. He knew his man. In  fact, about eight months later, so it is reported, Hernandez did try to kill Bradley.

Killings like this happen all the time in the criminal underworld. Front is the only shield that criminals have against being killed themselves. They need to be feared. Especially they need to look tough to their crew. Not fearful, no crew. No crew, dead man. This, we understand. But how to understand it of a $ 40 million football star ? In his life it was murder for murder’s sake.

Out of the ego killing that night arose the next murder, the one for which Hernandez now faces trial as the accused. It seems equally senseless.

1.Hernandez and Odin Lloyd go to Rumor, another nightclub not far from Cure.

2.At Rumor, Lloyd talks to someone who, Hernandez says, he has “had trouble with.”

3.Two nights later, Hernandez calls two Bristol, Connecticut buddies to come join him. The two men dash up — after all, when a $ 40 million football star calls you, and you’re basically about nothing, you are thrilled that he called you. It makes you somebody.

4.At about 12.30 am the three men go to Lloyd’s house and he joins them in their car. (Question : did he not sense danger ? He surely did, but what choice did he have ? If he had refused to join them, he was a dead man, and he knew it, because he KNEW Hernandez. Heck, he was dating the sister of Hernandez’s financee. So into the car he went.)

5.At about 1.30 AM Lloyd texts his sister a couple times, the last one being to tell her “I’m with HIM. Just so you know.” (Q : the three guys LET Lloyd keep his cell phone and send texts ?)

6.About fifteen minutes later Lloyd is ouside the car and is shot dead.

The police report says that Lloyd was killed because “possibly he had information about the killing of Abreu and Furtado” and that that is why he was killed. This made no sense.

But now we find out things that do make sense. We learn that a security staffer at Rumor — a man known to me, as much more at Rumor than just a staffer — told police that “someone spilled the beans” about the 2012 killing “right in front of me.”

Could this “security staffer” be the person whom Hernandez had “had trouble with” ? Could it be that that “staffer’ had been working as such at Cure on the 2012 night in question, and that at Rumor, Lloyd had said hello to him, as somebody he, Lloyd, knew, and that conversation had then ensued ? And which Hernandez saw and heard, remembering very well who the “staffer” was ?

In this case, Hernandez waited not two hours but two nights to make his move. He had been seen packing heat at Rumor before; but evidently not on the night in question. Besides, at Rumor it was only him and Lloyd. He needed backup.

All of this is standard issue in the criminal underworld. People with information get killed all the time. By their close friends ? Of course ; who better to get inside a man’s guard than a close friend ? What is NOT standard issue is to see this sort of thuggery in the daily calendar of a $ 40 million football star. But that — big time football star — is how WE see Hernandez. He evidently saw himself differently. VERY differently — from inside himself.

One last time I caution you that none of the criminal acts narrated by me have yet been offered as evidence, much less proved. The Hernandez trial has yet to begin; the indictment is still in the pre-trial, procedural stage. But the narration is a common one in a world in which fear rules everyone every minute of every day and every word one says, even every item of clothing one wears; fear, worry, anger, and living — regardless of what the side doors of one’s life open onto, stardom included — entirely by the sneer and bad-ass of one’s paper-thin front page.

For the thinness of that paper front, folks have to die.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

“SECRET LETTERS To Home One Stop-Loss Soldiers story Letter#3

STOP-LOSS3

“SECRET LETTERS” to home one stop-loss soldiers story LETTER # 3

According to Wikipedia, the Stop-loss definition is:

“Stop-loss is a term primarily used in the United States military. In the U.S. military, it is the involuntary extension of a service member’s active duty service under the enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date and up to their contractually agreed end of obligated service (EOS). It also applies to the cessation of a permanent change of station (PCS) move for a member still in military service. Stop-loss was used immediately before and during the first Persian Gulf War. Since then, it has been used during deployments to SomaliaHaitiBosniaKosovo and after the September 11 attacks and the subsequent War on Terror.”

The policy has been legally challenged several times. However, Federal courts have consistently found that military service members contractually agree that their term of service may be involuntarily extended until the end of their obligated service.

However, in real life it is much more than that. The term and its definition are minimal at best. Truth be told, even a cynic can not sit back and agree that such an act by OUR government is that of a free country — let alone a “free-man / soldier, who has served his country — and his term.

Through the years stop-loss has become much more “in our faces”, as undeclared “wars” have called many a soldier back to a place to which they barely survived — once, never-mind a forceful twice-go-round. In a 2004 Campaign speech by the then presidential candidate John Kerry — stop-loss was described accurately as a “back-door draft”. At that time, both politicians and war activists insisted and proclaimed its use an abuse of the law. Since Congress had not officially declared a war — the basis for using stop-loss was to them as well as those affected just that : “abuse”……

Much controversy, political agenda, hype, and inaccurate depictions of this “injustice” surround the topic whenever it is brought to our attention in any form. So how do we as Americans differentiate between fact and fiction — media agenda, propaganda, misguided citizens, and hoaxes — and how do we get the real stories, the guts and grit of the truth without literally being in that situation ourselves ?

In a weekly editorial, Here and Sphere will cautiously report one brave, wounded, forgotten, scared for his life, stop-loss soldier’s story. Though we can not completely vouch for it’s full accuracy — we will deliver this soldier’s encrypted letters, each with all its content — and let you, our readers, decide for yourselves. Our job is to report the news, and bring you the stories that matter to you. In “TOP SECRET” Letter to Home — One stop-loss soldier’s story — we will do just that.

Letter #3

Today was a good day all things considered. Normally that would bring about a smile or sigh of relief — but a good day here is a nightmare at best, back on American soil.

Today my team lead by a “new guy”. The sapling of a superior was freshly dropped here in the middle of yet another cold sand-swept night. Meeting him first thing this morning — all gung-ho, and clueless as to what he would soon become a part of — was almost stomach turning. Much like a doe eyed child full of innocence about to learn something horrific and life-altering. Today our mission was “simple” — cut off water supplies and all aid to the “local threats” one town over.

When I say the word simple, I mean only that it should if carried out correctly be a mission easily achieved — without casualties, and senseless violence. Though we were lucky enough to not lose one of our own — the casualty-less mission I hoped and prayed for — did not play out as I had wished.

Before the desert sun even peaked at us,we geared up and were on our way. All orders had been given — subject to change upon arrival, if our calculations were off even the slightest — and of course they were. I took my post at the highest point of the village, finding my spot was easy — I gained access without harm to myself or anyone else. Once our team was fully in place, orders previously given — went into effect. For the sake of those that watch movies and T.V. I will use familiar lingo — as to paint a picture that may be relatable — but here it is somewhat, okay very different.

Alpha team we will call that me and my 4 watchman — steady handed and sighted on targets pre-assigned we sit and wait. Bravo team began their slow and careful descent into the village as not to awaken the chaos. Delta team came from their angles to help surround the main water source and medical tent — therein began our problem.

Previous recon missions of the medical tent had shown no guard during this particular time — on 4 separate missions, not once had one been spotted. With the main valves off — and “our equipment” that once supplied this village back in our possession — they would have no way once sealed to re-establish a water supply. Bravo team had done their job and were regrouping back at the predetermined zone before hitting target 2. Delta stayed positioned waiting patiently to assist in retrieving, or destroying the medic tent — once Bravo gave the order.

As I looked at the tent I realized that this time WE WERE WRONG… A heavily armed guard paced by the hindquarters of the medic tent — searching for any sign of attack, or threat. Intently I watched as he paced in an almost eerie nazi reminiscent fashion — 4-5 steps one way — full turn — 4-5 steps back in the previous direction. Then it happened — SPOTTED –the last of our Bravo members to get close enough was seen. The foot soldier raised his weapon and aimed as steady as he could, getting ready to summons help…………..THEN ( shot fired ) one single perfectly aimed silent bullet — a few more minutes, enough time to be ghosts, and a fire that took down a whole tent and all its supplies erupted in seconds. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!! (Disgusting)

Back on base Alpha team leader newbie sat crying like a baby — AND JUSTLY SO. I felt connected to him, I knew his disbelief and pain, anger and more. But just like he came to us — HE WAS GONE…

Why him? I am broken too, why can’t I disappear into the night and sand and cold? Why can’t I come home? — Perhaps I’ll never know, PLEASE PRAY THAT I WILL.

Signed: One stop-loss missing home soldier.

As told by:Heather Cornell

PA WOMAN CHARGED AFTER KILLING NEWBORN IN SPORTS-BAR BATHROOM

arrest phot amanda

 Born ,wrapped in a bag right out of the restroom garbage can, then carelessly discarded in the tank of a sports-bar bathroom — and left to die! That was the quick and atrocious beginning of life — right to the tragic death — for this Pennsylvania newborn boy.

screenshots of the bathroom

26-year-old Allentown Pennsylvania resident, Amanda Catherine Hein — went out with friends on August 18th to watch a pay-per-view wrestling match, at Starters Pub in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. While sitting with her party at a booth in the bar, she began experiencing severe back pain and excused herself. According to witnesses including her friend “Rivera” — she was gone for a lengthy period of time, possibly 40 minutes or longer — before returning, grabbing her purse and heading outside. Hein smoked a cigarette before returning to the group to finish watching the rest of the wrestling match. Say’s District Attorney: John Morganelli.  At some point “Rivera” noticing a fairly large amount of blood on the seat asked Hein “if she needed to go to the hospital?” — to which she replied ” I have no insurance”, at that point Hein was dropped off at home.

starterspub side view

Starters Pub a sports bar on Route 378 in Bethlehem Pennsylvania — an estimated 30 miles from Philadelphia — is now the admitted crime scene of the baby boy’s disconcerting death.Bar owner Dave Rank was still in disbelief, and clearly still in shock as he explained that — A cleaning crew for the pub found the baby boy the following morning August 18th, in the tank of the woman’s bathroom toilet, after attempting to flush it repeatedly with no result — they lifted the tank’s top to find a hellish scene.

starters pub route 378 back door

When D.A. Morganelli was asked his thoughts on what Hein was thinking he answered — ” I have no idea what goes on in her head”– noticeably unnerved, he said ” I have no clue.”‘

starters pub heins

According to the Northampton County coroner, the newborn was at least 33 to 36 weeks gestational age — meaning he was fully viable, able to survive outside the womb . Court records also indicate that the baby was born alive and healthy.

survival rate

After learning the gruesome details — Amanda’s stepmother Louiseanne Hein clearly heartbroken and appalled told reporters that she had no idea Amanda was even pregnant. She said that looking back a planned parenthood letter addressed to Amanda now makes sense. Through teary eyes and honest transparent expression — grief-stricken Louiseanne exclaimed through sobbing sentences: “We told her she always had a home here” and that ” we would have worked something out!”

Via Amanda Hein's Facebook
Via Amanda Hein’s Facebook

Even neighbor Victor Rosario reinforced the theorized “Secret Pregnancy” by stating — “I didn’t even know she was pregnant, she didn’t look pregnant!”

On August 20th Amanda Hein was interviewed by authorities. She admitted giving birth to the baby boy in the bathroom, and disposing of him.  This gut wrenching confession, has earned Hein the rightful charge of Criminal Homicide. In Pennsylvania, “intentional murder of a child under the age of 12 is a Capital Offense — punishable by way of the death penalty. On Monday Hein was charged with one count of Criminal Homicide — thus the possibility of imposing the death penalty looms, if Hein is proven guilty.

Hein is being held without bail — as of last week no representation had been officially listed. The  authorities are still searching for the father of the baby.

Educate others safe haven

This incident has resurfaced the topic of SAFE HAVEN’S — as New Jersey and Pennsylvania both have “Anonymous drop off laws.” The Safe Haven laws, and places are now pushing harder to educate people about the State’s laws regarding Safe Haven’s.

safe haven sign

Established in 2002 after an infant girl they called “baby Mary” was discovered in a Sunbury Pennsylvania trash compactor.  EVERY hospital in P.A. are Safe Haven’s only needing to meet minimal criteria.

  • The child must be a non-injured, non-emergent newborn.
  • The newborn must be under the age of 28 days in Pennsylvania.
  • The newborn must be under the age of 30 days in New Jersey

If those criteria are met — the newborn will be accepted and taken in — NO QUESTIONS ASKED — and completely anonymous if the person dropping off the child so chooses.

safe haven incubator

With help in place like Safe Haven’s and a multitude of other resources — there is NO NEED for the senseless and horrifying deaths of any healthy newborn. Educate yourselves, and those around you — IT MAY SAVE A BABY’S LIFE.

Written By: Heather Cornell

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THE TRIAL OF WHITEY BULGER : THE HORROR AND THE HATE

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^ the many years of James “Whitey” Bulger

—- —- —-

Watching the long parade of thugs, pugs, and lugs walking up to and planting themselves in the witness chair at Federal Court these past three weeks has put this writer into the paranormal. i lived and did political work in the city these fellows dented. Though my center of gravity lay several fenders to the southwest — in Roslindale, west Roxbury, and Hyde park — I had begun my roadwork in Dorchester — Upham’s Corner to be exact — and spent many hours, days, and weeks working Dorchester campaigns and activities. The South Boston these fellows destructo’d lay only a mile or two to the north, and at many many Dorchester events the vinegar of South Boston was often tasted. And occasionally I ventured into Southie itself.

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^ Southie : corner of Broadway and Dorchester Street

We knew what that meant. We were not fools or naive. It was always there, the under-rumble of hard nose. Later, as William Bulger began his political rise, we could feel the Bulger shoulder, hear its footstep, see its shock wave. There were stories, too, about both brothers — each different yet both of one brick. Of those stories I am not sure that i should write even now, decades after; suffice it to say that one very powerful politician from “Southie” had his life crunched pretty good by the Bulgers, according to what we heard.

It started way back, in 1972, when a certain associate of Whitey Bulger’s brother Billy, one Joe Toomey, was a Democratic state Committeeman from the then still intact South Boston Senate District. Joseph Moakley, who was then the senator, had already announced that he was challenging Louise Day Hicks for the “South Boston Congress” seat — he went on to win it that Fall. Anyway, in the 1972 Presidential Primary — which is when State Committee people are elected — in march, an associate of my political sponsor — who has long since passed — decided to run against Toomey. He lived in “Southie,” of course, and had become best pals with my sponsor: they had served in the Legislature together.

As it turned out, my sponsor’s friend lost to Toomey by only a handful of votes. Never will I forget the faces we saw when we went to Toomey’s headquarters that night to congratulate hi,m. the faces were hard as longshore piers, the bodies stocky as cinder block walls. The air was so angry you could almost see it froth at the mouth. Hate was here, and we knew it, and very quickly left.

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If only we had known the whole story ? HaHa, only I did not. My sponsor’s associate knew it well; but his ordeal was just beginning. Two years later, during the crisis and riots brought on by Federal Judge Arthur Garrity’s order that Boston schools be integrated — including the schools of “Southie” — my sponsor’s friend did hos best to calm the situation, to bring people together, to have conversations, not confrontation. The Bulgers were having none of it. Billy, now a State Senator, made the Globe and Herald his enemies; accused them of bias against “Southie”; opposed all efforts at compromise.

As for Whitey ? Nothing can be proved, but we all heard the stories : of how my sponsor’s Southie friend had been run off the road, how he had been forced to flee his South Boston home — he and his wife and kids — and live for a time in Quincy or somewhere. We heard these stories, and we believed them.

Later on both my friend’s friend and Whitey Bulger — and now Bill Bulger too — became much more powerful; more caustic still the brothers’ hate for the man i am thinking of. How palpable was this ? I will never forget one of Bill Bulger’s Saint Patrick’s Morning breakfasts, political as politics can politic — he started the affair, now a Southie must-be-at, for pols and soon-to-be pols, hosted by whoever is South Boston’s State Senator . So there I was, standing in the crowd of “repS’ and City Councillors, campaigners and election junkies, and they and I were watching Bill Bulger do his do on the front stage. Behind him stood a row of the respectful. Prominent among them stood my sponsor’s buddy. Bluntly Bulger ignored his presence on the podium. Passed him by, did Bulger; and he sort of grinned it off, as if to say, “what do you hot-shots out there expect ? This is how it is over here.”

Bill Bulger puts on a time, he run s the time. And so he proceeded to  recognize everyone else on the podium by name. But not the man we were all looking at.

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^ State senator Bill Bulger : being paid respect to. at Breakfast.

It was said, when both Whitey the man snubbed by Billy were at the peak of their power, that Whitey warned him, after a particularly nasty exchange — with my sponsor’s friend now in a position to make daily life very difficult for Whitey and even more difficult for Whitey’s guys — that Whitey said to him, “I can’t kill you, but i can kill your friends.” And my sponsor’s friend’s close associates knew that Whitey meant it. It must have been hard for them. They enjoyed the strong protection of closeness to my sponsor’s friend, and still they had no protection at all — almost: for, after all, Whitey did not, despite the threat, kill any of them. But the man whose protection they should have enjoyed did just what Whitey had implied he should do. He went his way, paying no attention to Whitey, and not much to Billy, as he did his thing in Boston and for Boston — all of it, with honor and openness to all. As for Whitey — and for his Senate President brother Billy — they just kept on — amassing power : Billy collected political clout the ways some people collect stamps. As Senate President he controlled the State Budget, and he used that control to control, in part, the administration of the state’s courts. It was said that when Judge Ed Daher, then of the Boston Housing Court, objected to some job moves by Bill Bulger, he found the budget for his Court slashed. Was this so ? We sure thought it was.

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^ crossing State senate President Bill Bulger was no joke. And he knew who you were, believe me.

With Whitey, we know what the 1980s brought him. we know it now, that is. The murders and betrayals, extortions and beatings, the guns in mouths, the informing and being informed on. We learned the names and traits of John Martorano — feared relentless killer’; Kevin weeks, tough and snarly; Steve Flemmi — kill or watch a killing; the Winter Hill Gang — not in Southie but in the “‘Ville,” oddly enough;  and John Connolly — the FBI man among men (ya right) and his colleagues at what should have been called the Muff-BI. We hear the names of the killed, the extorted, the beaten, the deceived, the betrayed — and the innocent who happened to be in the line of — ping ! — a bullet or three.

We see the families of the killed, their brains stuck on vengeance — and who can blame them ? They lived, feared, ,loathed, and bled it.

Once I left the Dorchester offices where my roadwork started, I avoided South Boston entirely.  I had friends there, yes, and cherished them. They know who they are.

Some owned taverns that were riotous good fun to have a “frosty” in. Some worked the Lithuanian Club — always a good time on a night. Some ran funeral homes; others played Park League hockey, or baseball for the South Boston Chippewas. So,me worked at the South Boston District Court House on Broadway — a fun place to be on South Boston Parade day in March. Some were gorgeous, spunky gals one met at “happy hours” on Cape Cod — Clawson’s on a Sunday night was a favorite lawn to hit on — or at “Dot So Cha” reunions — big social mixers — featuring folks from Southie, Dorchester, and Charlestown: the Irish heartland of Boston, often held at the Victory Road Armory in Fields Corner.

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^ gals of Southie : jst as gorgeous spunky as in the 1970os-1980s

And some went on to political fortune : Ray Flynn, Jack Hart, Brian Wallace, Mike Flaherty, Steve Lynch — he by beating Bill Bulger’s son, no less, to win the State Rep seat left open when Jack Hart succeeded Bill Bulger as State Senator.

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^ Kevin O’Neil of Triple O’s — today, after the groove has gone.

I never did meet Kevin Weeks, though I did know — unforgettably — his brother Jack. Nor did I ever meet Kevin O’Neil,. or Pat Nee, or Billy Shea, or any of the other biggies of Whitey’s close circle. But watching them now, greying and aging, as they testify to what they did, saw, heard, and planned back when, I know that I easily could have known all of the, stood at a bar with them drinking “a frosty” or two, worked campaigns with them — and felt a touch of fear at what they might well have been like in a less celebratory or energetic corner of life. Almost all of us who lived in Boston then knew these guys or guys much like them. We knew the city that they helped scratch, the way a vandal would key a brand new Mercedes, only meaner — and dirtier — yet also, as is a vandal, occasionally fun to be around. In a cynical groove in a then inward-angled city that fortunately no longer exists, for me or for them. Or for the rest of us.

It is over now.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

CRIME AND ITS FASCINATIONS : SOME THOUGHTS ON THE THREE MURDER PROSECUTIONS NOW UNDER WAY IN MASSACHUSETTS

PART THREE : THE TRIAL AND TRIAL PREPARATION — IMPEDIMENTS

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^ Carmen Ortiz, United States Attorney for Massachusetts, already under fire for over-charging Aaron Swartz

Part III in this Here and Sphere series was going to focus on Punishment. But given the obsessive passions afoot with regard to the Zimmerman Case, its presentation, preparation, and verdict, we have changed the plan. Trial preparation and presentation require a strong look from us.

Thanks to TV shows like “Law and Order” especially, most Americans know a lot about what happens in a criminal case long before it goes to trial. “Law and Order” is particularly valuable because its drama includes plenty of mistakes made, bad decisions, incompetent or overreaching lawyers, disagreements about evidence, and such like. On the defense side there is always the problem of what to emphasize and how. Prosecutors face election and find themselves forced to go the route on cases in which their voting public has great interest. The media pounce on criminal cases of great interest; they cannot avoid it, nor should they. This too has consequences for justice, most of them unhappy. “Law and Order” retreats from none of it. The picture this show puts in frame is often stereotyped — but never false.

“Law and Order” succeeds because crime unthinkably violent or unjust arouses great passions. Whence arises the rush to accuse, which almost always brings more injustice.

The rush to accuse and judge has ruined many a life : one thinks of the Duke LaCrosse team fiasco, the Atlanta security guard falsely accused of bombing a fair, the national security scientist wrongly accused of sending anthrax letters, the Tawanna Brawley accusation that a NY County prosecutor had raped her. One could add many, many more such incidents.

False accusation is no minor break in the social fabric. “Thou shalt not bear false witness” is one of Moses’ 10 commandments, the ground rules of Jewish tribal law. No social mistake outranks false accusation as an act of barbarity. Still, false accusation arises from people’s knowledge that grievous crimes do occur; and who can tell, at the outset, whether an accusation is false or true ? That is why we have police detectives and investigators and why we pay them good money. To separate the false accusation from the likely true one.

Public outcry has engendered more incompetent or unwarranted prosecutions than we can count. In the 1980s it was day care centers abusing children : every case brought was eventually reversed or compromised — in Massachusetts, the Amirault Family of Fells acres — after ruining the lives of the accused. In the 1930s – and before that — it was people of color in the South accused of rape. In the 1920s it was Sacco and Vanzetti — right here in Dedham, Massachusetts.Bartolomeo sacco 1

^ Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, prosecuted almost certainly wrongfully and executed after seven (7) years of world wide protests.

In 1692 in my home city of Salem, also in Massachusetts, it was men and women accused of witchcraft.  In the South, from the late 1880s until the Second World war, many black men didn’t even get an unfair trial but were simply lynched…

a lynching

^ injustice at its most passionate…

To return to the present, New York City’s Brooklyn prosecutor is now investigating 50 convictions based on what looks like perjured testimony, doctored confessions, and prosecutorial misconduct.

David Ranta

^ David Ranta, freed in NY after serving 22 years for a rape he almost certainly did not commit

A victim is required. No matter who or how. Prosecutors and police staffs work with that as a backdrop. It is not pretty and it is wrong.

Jurors, too, feel the heat. Juries in high-passion criminal cases are sequestered and their names impounded. We do this so that passion people cannot threaten or otherwise intimidate jurors, at trial and after verdict. It is a wonder that, given this pressure, people are willing to serve as jurors at all.

In the time of Henry VIII, jurors gave a verdict unfavorable to the King at their peril. We, today, are the King.

The moral of the story is plain: the public should — must — reserve judgment; prosecutors and police must seek justice, not convictions; and juries must never be afraid to decide a case as THEY see it, not as WE see it.

In the Zimmerman matter, which we have discussed in separate editorials, very little went as it should. Injustice, incompetence — you name it. Now we turn to Massachusetts and our own three murder prosecutions. Hopefully, we will do much better than tyhe Zimmerman prosecutors and police staffs.

The three cases now under way –James “Whitey” Bulger, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and Aaron Hernandez — fascinate us. Murder most foul can never be grasped. It is always open and shut ; was it done, or not ? By this person, or someone else ? Murder is simple — and a mystery beyond resolution.But never beyond opinion.

Most of us have already formed an opinion as to the accuseds’ guilt and of appropriate punishment. Because this is Massachusetts, we ought be fairly sure that the prosecutions will be competent and NOT tainted by misconduct, although our history in this regard is not auspicious. We are proof that being politically progressive is no guarantee of being just about justice.

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< J. W. Carney, lead defense attorney for James “Whitey”Bulger

The big danger, though, is that all three men’s juries will feel pressured to reach a certain verdict rather than another. To that end, we commend the Bulger prosecution for its methodical presentation and its readiness to provide to the defense such evidence as our law requires it to disclose. We shall see if the Tsarnaev prosecution meets this standard.

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< Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter, who will prosecute the Aaron Hernandez case.

Stay tuned.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

NEXT : PART FOUR — MEDIA ISSUES

CRIME AND ITS FASCINATIONS : SOME THOUGHTS ON THE THREE MURDER CASES NOW IN MASSACHUSETTS NEWS

PART TWO : DID HE REALLY DO THAT ?

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how COULD he do that : Albert deSalvo

On the very morning of my writing Part II of this series comes the news that Albert deSalvo, who in the years 1962 to 1964 scared every woman in Boston as the mysterious “Boston strangler” and was eventually convicted (though only of an unrelated rape) — he died in prison long ago — has been confirmed by DNA evidence to be, in fact, the Strangler. And so revives to us in Massachusetts the memory of one of our state’s most vilified criminals ever. A man who invaded women’s homes, raped them, and then strangled them : it happened to thirteen in all — eleven by the “Strangler” —  though he was convicted not of any of these but of another rape entirely.

The crime amazed us. This wasn’t murder as such. The strangling was only the wrap-up of crimes beyond understanding.

Murder, we all understand. Is there anyone out there — well, HARDLY anyone — who hasn’t at some point in his or her life said, or wanted to say, “I will KILL you” ? We get angry. Anger is the crank that starts most engines of violence. Most of us control the anger, stifle it, move beyond it. Still, the desire to kill is there, dormant, waiting.

Other crimes of violence are harder to understand. Most of us do NOT have the desire to rape, or assault, or commit arson or mayhem. Who says, or wants to say, “I will RAPE you” ? Or “i will burn down your house” ? Not very many of us. Nor do we know someone whom we can imagine raping or burning a house. It’s a puzzle.

Thus the fascination we have with crimes of rape, arson, or mayhem is different from that which we feel for murder. “Did he REALLY do that ? How could he have ? What sort of person IS he ?” These are what we want answers to, what we watch rape, arson, or mayhem trials to find out.

Unhappily, trials seldom give us any objective answers to these questions. What we do get is the evidence — much of it horrific and as beyond imagining as the crime itself — and a picture or pictures of the accused, all of it prejudicial pro OR con. The “perp’ we end up seeing, and judging, is a creation of our perceptions, our own values. This has consequences. The murderer, we are glad to consign to prison for life. the rapist, however, many of us want to torture. He who commits mayhem or assault, we would like to see assaulted or mayhem-ed. The arsonist, not so much; all that he draws is pity and wonder — arson seems a purposeless crime. But it too, like rape and mayhem, we puzzle to grasp. It’s a mystery. And we all love reading mystery stories. Over and over again. the same holds true for rape, arson,and mayhem trials. the accused remains a puzzle even after all has been testified to, shown in pictures, argued over, and decided.

It is so with Albert deSalvo. Though we know the whole public part of his story — and knew it over and over again for decades — we know none of the private story. Why did he do it ? how could he do it ? Probably not even he could have told us. Likely he did not know why. as for how could he ? He just did. Perhaps that was all there was to it. He did it because he could.

COMING NEXT — PART THREE : PUNISHMENT

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

CRIME AND ITS FASCINATIONS : THOUGHTS ON THE THREE MURDER CASES NOW IN MASSACHUSETTS NEWS

PART ONE : HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING IT, TOO

No fewer than four murder trials now have the American public – indeed, much of the world, fascinated and attentive,. Of those four trials, three are underway or in preparation in Massachusetts alone. (The fourth one, that of George Zimmerman, is a Florida event.) That Massachusetts be the focus of murder crime may surprise many. Our state’s reputation is that of a progressive, educated citizenry who follow highly moral missions and do their duty to everyone. And our reputation is not a mis-impression. We are all that. Educated, highly moral, committed to the well being of all of our neighbors.

Still, in a society as populous and diverse as Massachusetts, there are many, many agendas going on. Not everyone in Massachusetts works the community’s mission. Our three accused murderers, James “Whitey” Bulger, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and Aaron Hernandez had their own agendas even as they lived among the rest of us.

Bulger 1Aaron 1Dzhokhar

Nothing in itself is wrong with that. No society would be worth belonging if it were not open to opt-outs. No society gets it entirely right. Still, it takes an act of will for someone to separate frrom the general opinion. Many acts of will are beneficial : inventors, entrepreneurs, political opponents all go against the societal grain to society’s ultimate betterment.

But some dissents are criminal. By “criminal,” I mean acts that society cannot tolerate, that not only dissent from the society’s mission but portend immediate, actual harm to it and to those who live in it. This, of course, is a commonplace. What is not so commonplace is our fascination with criminal dissent. Why does the criminal do it ? Does he realize that he is acting criminally ? Does it just happen somehow  ? Does he like his criminal self ?

These questions motivate our fascination with the crime events now on trial in Massachusetts or soon to be.

We marvel at their diversity as well as their intensity. There is the old line, noir-movie, city gangster, Whitey Bulger. There’s the terrorist, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, religious and ioung. And there is the sports star gang-banger, Aaron Hernandez. None has the slightest similarity to any of the others; not motive, not background, not the manner of act. They are linked only by being accused of committing murder — in Massachusetts.

Each probably despises the others. Criminal will is often like that. It defends its own will in the same breath that it condemns other wills. The criminal HAS IT BOTH WAYS. He (or she) breaks the social covenant, but also passionately defends it against others who break it. The criminal gets to be a good citizen and a bad one, both.

This fascinates us, and it should. The cliche “having your cake and eating it too” is a commonplace because we all want to do it – but few of us ever do. The criminal gets to actually do it. How can he NOT fascinate us ?

We wonder how the criminal gets to be so free from taboos even while maintaining a  dedicationl to them. At the trial we see some of how he (or she)  did what he did, and of why, but even at trial the question of how did it get to that is rarely answered even partially. Still, that is the question we want – need – to have answered. Because it is rarely answered in a trial, we follow the trial intently seeking in what is testified to an answer to that question.

We fear, and rightly, that the criminal acts as he does because he likes being criminal. He can condemn the criminal acts of others as vigorously as we do and commit other such acts as we do not. He likes having it both ways ? Maybe not. But what if he does ?

Why did Whitey Bulger choose a life of extortion, gambling, violence, ratting, and killing ? Perhaps because he liked it. Perhaps Tsarnaev liked being his older brother’s loyal helpmate. Maybe Aaron Hernandez liked the power and  swagger, the anger and dominance, that violence to his associates engendered. There is nothing freer than to be free of societal taboos. When one sees that one can do anything, it is hard to walk away. Hard for some, anyway. Fortunately, it is not hard for most of us to eschew doing whatever we want. In any case, we can watch the trials of Hernandez, Tsarnaev, and Bulger and imagine ourselves having it both ways : doing what they did and not doing it. Living it and condemning it.

No wonder that criminal trials fascinate us.

 

“SOME THOUGHTS ON CRIME” IS A CONTINUING ESSAY, POSTED ONE PART AT A TIME. PART TWO– DID HE REALLY DO THAT ?” —  WILL BE POSTED TOMORROW.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere