Saturday, May 31, 2014

Elliot Rodger, age 22 / Mass Murder at Isla Vista, California / Near UC Santa Barbara

I’ve read a large portion of Elliot’s ‘manifesto.’  Manifesto:  Haven’t you grown to hate that word?  It once was a respectable word generally meaning setting forth one’s public policies.  Not now – from the Unabomber (Ted Kaczynski) to Elliot Rodger, serial killers and mass murderers have a name for their insane, written, invariably and extensively published ramblings.

I’m not going to show a picture of Elliot Rodger.  The one we’ve all seen kind of gives one the creeps.  I’m not going to quote his words, I’ve thought about them enough.  I do have some thoughts about this tragedy, based on my life experience.  And, some of you might be interested.

First, please don’t blame this tragedy on guns.  That explanation is so ill-considered and uninformed that it hardly warrants an explanation.  Guns are ubiquitous in American society and always have been.  For those of you who can remember back fifty years – as I can.  Could you name one family during that period who didn’t have some sort of gun in the household?  I never lived in a major city like some of you have.  Perhaps, big city dwellers can think of a family; but I can’t.  I wasn’t exactly raised in the ‘boondocks,’ just typical America where people hunted for sport and to augment their food supply; or just enjoyed plinking.  I was shooting a BB gun in grade school; pistols, rifles and shotguns in Junior and Senior High School.  Guns can’t explain Elliot.  No, something is different about our modern culture and it isn’t guns.

To blame guns is simplistic.  It is an explanation used by politicians to simplify a very complicated issue.  To say we need more gun control is a nonsensical cliché, and an inane answer to a complex issue.  Yes, of course, guns can kill.  Knives can kill.  Cars can kill.  Each method of which Elliot used in his rampage.  He also planned arson to increase the body count.

Well, it might be said, he hated women; sorry I don’t buy it.  I think that was the rationalization of his twisted mind.  After all, he also planned to kill his stepmother and brother.  If he hated women, he would have wanted nothing to do with women.  It sounds to me like he desperately wanted a relationship with a woman.  He railed at the injustice of being a 22-year-old virgin.  Well, a short drive to Nevada in his parents’ purchased BMW, wearing his five hundred dollar sweater, would have solved that problem.  More likely, Elliot hated himself.

So what caused this?

I think the number one problem is the overall breakdown and ineffectiveness of our mental health system.  We used to put the mentally ill in hospitals, sometimes against their will, so that they could be treated.  Now, they live under a bridge and beg on the streets.  Society has failed these people.  Society failed Elliot and his victims.  Elliot was a troubled, to say the least, young man who had been receiving psychological therapy from the age of eight.  He was a person that should have never been allowed to purchase a gun ‘legally;’ but he did.  And, as we know, California has some of the strictest gun laws in the Nation.  Someone, probably more than one so-called medical expert, failed Elliot and society; and contributed to the death of six innocent young people.

Secondly, the news media deserves some of the blame.  They give too much publicity to these events.  They tell us everything we didn’t particularly want to know about the murderer’s background, family, friends, etc.  They create an instant celebrity.  And why do they do it?  Three reasons:  money, money, and more money.

Third, our children are overexposed to violence to the point of being desensitized by movies, television, video games, etc.  That’s modern entertainment folks.

Fourth, I think, based on my experience, if we knew the whole story we would learn that there were serious family issues and trauma involved – as seems to be the case in many of these murder sprees by young men and boys.

True Nelson

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Fatal Shooting of Diren Dede, a German Exchange Student / Missoula, Montana (Postscript)

I’m looking for the proper words here.  Is it ironic or paradoxical, or just plain tragic that Diren Dede was shot and killed.  His death, at the hands of Markus Kaarma, was apparently set in motion by the previous illegal actions of one Tristan Stabler and a juvenile associate.  Can we, therefore, postulate that Diren gave his life so that Tristan and / or, perhaps, the juvenile should live?

Stabler and the juvenile have admitted to the two previous burglaries.  Being successful, on the first two occasions without consequences, it is almost certain Stabler would have returned to the open and inviting garage.  Some might opine that, if Stabler was smart, he would not go back to the same house.  It has been my professional experience that petty thieves generally do not have that level of circumspection.  As they say it’s not rocket science.

The Dede killing is more tragic in the sense that, the night he was killed, it was his first venture into Kaarma’s open garage.  What was Dede’s actual motivation?  Was his intention to steal?  Or was it simply immature curiosity?  We will never know.  However, it makes one remember the foolish things that we all did as teenagers.

Life is never fair.  That is a lesson of which we must be continually reminded.

True Nelson

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Fatal Shooting of Diren Dede, a German Exchange Student / Missoula, Montana (Part 2)

The more I think about this case, the more disgusted I become.  This death was so needless and tragic.

I don’t think the forensic tests are back, but almost certainly Markus Kaarma’s judgment was affected by his use of illegal drugs.  If that is not the case, this man has some serious mental issues.  Most likely, it is both.

Marijuana is known to magnify character flaws (admittedly this is also true of alcohol).

If you read the prosecutor’s affidavit in support of 'probable cause,' you will note that Kaarma had previously boasted to others about waiting to kill the person or persons who had earlier burglarized his garage.  Basically, Kaarma set a trap.  There is no excusing his conduct.  His actions were undoubtedly a crime.

Affidavit / Relevant

This case reminds me of the hypothetical situation, sometimes discussed in law enforcement seminars, wherein a homeowner has rigged a tripwire to a shotgun.  When an unknown person enters the room, he trips the wire and the shotgun fires.  Fact, the homeowner is not at home at the time.  What if the person killed is actually a burglar?  What if the person killed is the homeowner’s son returning, unexpectedly, from college?  This scenario often creates a lively debate.  Is it legal to set a lethal trap within your own home?  Is the death of a burglar less serious than the death of the homeowner’s son?  Is it a crime?  Yes.

We cannot totally excuse Diren Dede that night.  Diren made a terrible mistake that cost him his life.  The other boy, who waited along the street for Diren, was also an exchange student at the high school.  That boy was from Ecuador.  The police interviewed the boy concerning his involvement and found no immediate reason to hold him.  And, as a result, he has since left the United States.  I suppose that was a smart move on his part; but it could become a legal issue at trial.  He was, after all, a principal witness, even a possible co-conspirator in a crime.

What about the high school’s responsibility?  I suppose it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be out stealing from the local residents.  But, what kind of briefing are these teenagers given upon their arrival in the U.S.?

What about self-defense or the ‘castle doctrine?’  Not relevant under the described circumstances – at best a mitigating factor, but doubtful.  The defense attorney will attempt to use self-defense arguments, but it won’t work.

Interestingly, two individuals have been recently arrested by the Missoula PD for the previous two burglaries at Kaarma's residence.  One is an 18 year old, Tristan Stabler, and the other is a juvenile.  Reportedly, during the first burglary, these two cleaned-out Kaarma's stash of marijuana.  During the second burglary, they took a wallet and an iPhone.

The information now available was that Diren and another boy (referenced above) named Robby Pazino were walking in the neighborhood.  Inexplicably, according to Pazino, Diren decided to enter the open garage.  Diren didn't say what he planned to do, but Pazino suspected that Diren was after beer.

True Nelson

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Fatal Shooting of Diren Dede, a German Exchange Student / Missoula, Montana

Sometimes, when I hear about these crimes, I can understand ‘gun control’ advocates’ frustration.  If it was only possible to give someone an IQ test before they purchased a gun, we’d all be safer.

I’m referring to the shooting involving Diren Dede (age 17), an exchange student from Germany.  Diren was a high school student in Missoula, Montana.  He was shot and killed by a homeowner who was allegedly protecting his property (personal property which reportedly also included illegal drugs, namely marijuana).

What are the facts as we now know them?

·        Diren was involved in the burglary of a residence.  This is considered to be a felony in most states.  I don’t mean to be callous, but we can’t mince words here.

·        The shooter, Markus Kaarma, the homeowner, had previous recent burglaries from his garage – to include the loss of several personal items which, reportedly, also included his stash of marijuana.  Furthermore, and allegedly, he had reported these previous burglaries (not mentioning, I imagine, the marijuana part) to local law enforcement who, reportedly, expressed little interest.  Perhaps, this particular bulleted point can’t be considered factual because of the inordinate use of the adverbs ‘reportedly’ and ‘allegedly.’

·        Kaarma, concerned about the burglaries, purchased motion detection, video equipment for his garage; and then left the garage door open just in case a potential burglar might be deterred by the closed garage door.  Well, actually, and in fairness, Kaarma said he customarily left the garage door open because he smoked cigarettes in the garage, and the open door was for ventilation.

·        Kaarma then waited expectantly for the burglar or burglars to return.  He armed himself with a shotgun, anticipating the potential confrontation.

·        The night of April 27th, Diren entered Kaarma’s darkened garage (which was attached to his residence) intent on stealing something from the garage.  Now, some have contended that Diren only wanted to steal beer or some inconsequential item from the garage, that it constituted more of a game than an actual crime.  The extent of his criminal intentions, nonetheless, are not known; and, of course, are not particularly relevant.  He was there to commit a crime.

·        A possible accomplice, an exchange student from Ecuador, waited nearby for Diren.

·        The video equipment installed by Kaarma alerted him and his girlfriend that someone, unknown, was in his garage.  Kaarma took his shotgun, went around to the front of the garage, and fired four rounds into the darkened garage, killing Diren.

What are we to make of this incident?  Who was in the wrong?  What went wrong?  What are the wider implications?

The above photo was released by Kaarma’s attorney, Paul Ryan.  It shows Diren entering the darkened garage.

To be continued…

True Nelson

Monday, May 5, 2014

Donald Sterling, Owner Los Angeles Clippers / Recording of Private Conversations (Part 2)

Not a lot is known, at least to me, about the actual manner in which Vanessa Stiviano recorded her private conversation (the now infamous conversation) with her ‘mentor,’ Donald Sterling.  Was the recording legal?

I’ve read that others, besides Stiviano and Sterling, were in the room when the recording was made.

I’ve read that Stiviano customarily recorded Sterling statements with his knowledge.

I’ve read that the recorded conversation was a very private conversation between Stiviano and Sterling and that Sterling did not know he was being recorded.

The facts regarding how the recording was made are relevant.  And, there could be repercussions, both civil and criminal, for Stiviano.  However, the facts regarding how the recording was made may have no bearing on the punitive actions directed at Sterling by the NBA, once the recording became public.

The recording of conversations, as well as the videotaping of individuals, without their awareness, is a confusing area of law.  I will attempt to summarize.

Just as an aside, this is an investigative technique (recording conversations or making a videotape) that is a continual preoccupation with private investigators, as well as a controversial topic of discussion.  There is, of course, both Federal and State laws that describe what is illegal or legal, presented in a somewhat complex and often not very helpful manner.  In addition, to the laws, with all their intricate nuances, there is a legal principal that applies to recordings and videotaping referred to as:  ‘an expectation of privacy.’  When an investigator violates this ‘expectation’ without an appropriate court order, he or she is treading on thin ice.

Initially, Federal Law seems rather straightforward.  Regarding a recorded, two-person conversation, either in person or on the telephone; it is generally legal if one of the individuals knows a recording is being made.  However…  If you are really interested, or think it might apply to something you plan to do, you must plow through Title 18, U.S. Code 2511, Interception and Disclosure of Wire, Oral, or Electronic Communications Prohibited.  It is lengthy, but here is the section that might apply to what Stiviano did:

“It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person not acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication where such person is a party to the communication or where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception unless such communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State.”

Additionally, there are other elements of said statute that apply to the publication or dissemination of the recorded conversation, which it appears that Stiviano might have violated; as well as the media outlet that took the recording and broadcast it.

California (where it is believed that the recording took place) is a ‘two-party’ state.  In other words, to record a private conversation, California state law dictates that both parties to the conversation must be aware that a recording is being made – which puts you in a position, consequently, of also being in violation of Federal Law.

As I said initially, it’s complicated.  However, as I also said, this complexity may not matter to the NBA.  The recording was made available to the public.  The NBA had no involvement in the making of the recording or in its subsequent release to the public.  Therefore, they probably are clear to take any action they deem appropriate.

Now, Ms. Stiviano is a horse of another color.

True Nelson

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Donald Sterling, Owner Los Angeles Clippers / World Class Racist?

The discussion topic of the moment is, of course, Donald Sterling, previously known as Donald Tokowitz.  Yes, he too is of an often maligned minority group.  He is the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers.  I would like to make some brief introductory comments and then proceed to my area of interest – covert recordings of conversations.

Most everyone is apparently shocked and aghast at Mr. Sterling’s statements regarding African Americans.  And, I don’t intend to defend him.  Based on what I’ve read about his actions now and in the past, he is a bully and an entirely repugnant individual.

His girlfriend, Vanessa Stiviano, approximately 50 years Sterling’s junior, reportedly recorded a private conversation between her and Sterling – during which he made some disparaging remarks about “Blacks.”  This recording was turned over to a newspaper, and the s--- hit the fan.

As we all now know, the NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, came down hard on Sterling – a $2.5 million dollar fine, Sterling was banned from even entering the door of any NBA facility, and apparently will be forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers.  OK, Silver made a business decision in the best interests of the NBA – and that’s fine with me.  Remember, the NBA is a business, a very lucrative business involving very highly paid employees – namely the players – who are incidentally mostly African Americans (Blacks); although I earnestly wish we could finally all be just Americans.  That is, however, extremely unlikely in my lifetime.

If you listen to the recording of the private conversation between Stiviano and Sterling, and I admit that I’ve not heard the whole thing, what Sterling said is undeniably offensive and ignorant (especially for someone in his professional position and considering that his alleged girlfriend is reportedly half Black); but it doesn’t exactly knock your socks off.  I’m kind of surprised at how shocked most of the public is about his remarks.

Haven’t most of you at one time or another expressed or laughed at an offensive comment about some other group?  Personally, I’ve heard many derogatory statements and jokes involving:  females (blondes in particular) Polish people, Irish people, Mexicans, Asians, American Indians, Harvard graduates, Texas A & M graduates, lawyers, law enforcement personnel, Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy, old people, young people, every religious affiliation, Republicans, Democrats, George Bush, Barrack Obama ad infinitum.  Have I missed anyone?  Are we to believe that Blacks don’t make jokes about ‘honkeys’ and ‘crackers’?  Are we all so oblivious to these tendencies in our own nature, or hypocritical, that we don’t recognize that everyone, with very few exceptions, says things at times that we really shouldn’t?

Let’s just put this in perspective.  Sterling’s problems, and his private comments, have become a business matter involving the image that the NBA wishes to project.  It is all about money.

The recording is about money.  What were Stiviano’s motives?  Who put her up to it?  Who is in a position to gain the most?

Commissioner Silver gave it his best shot and everyone has applauded.  However, a year from now, maybe more, Silver’s dictates will be modified in Sterling’s favor.  Silver knows it.  His actions constituted ‘crisis control.’  It’s about image, sponsors and money.  And, as far as I’m concerned, he could have left his righteous indignation in his office.

There is no greater implication involved.  This doesn’t mean that racial bias against African Americans is rampant in the U.S. or the NBA.  It really indicates nothing significant about American society, other than some rich a---holes like front-row seats at sporting events and like to have sex with pretty, young women.  Moreover, who exactly is the bigger a--hole here:  Vanessa or Donald?

Next, I have a few comments about recording private conversations.
To be continued…

True Nelson