Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison in 1979 Disappearance of Etan Patz — TIME

(NEW YORK) — Almost four decades after first-grader Etan Patz set out for school and ended up at the heart of one of America’s most influential missing-child cases, a former store clerk convicted of killing him was sentenced on Tuesday to at least 25 years in prison. Pedro Hernandez’s sentencing was the culmination of a…

via Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison in 1979 Disappearance of Etan Patz — TIME

 long quest to hold someone criminally accountable in a case that affected police practices, parenting and the nation’s consciousness of missing children.

Etan’s parents, Stanley and Julie Patz, attended the sentencing and said they will “never forgive” Hernandez for what he did.

“Pedro Hernandez, after all these years we finally knows what dark secret you had locked in your heart,” Stanley Patz said. “… The god you pray to will never forgive you. You are the monster in your nightmares, and you’ll join your father in hell.”

Hernandez didn’t look at them.

Defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein said Hernandez was reluctant to stand up in court and speak but had two things he wanted him to say: He wanted to express deep sympathies for the Patz family, but he also wanted to make sure it was clear he’s an innocent man and had nothing to do with Etan’s disappearance.

Hernandez was a teenager working at a convenience shop in Etan’s Manhattan neighborhood when the boy vanished in 1979, on the first day he was allowed to walk alone to his school bus stop.

Hernandez, who’s from Maple Shade, New Jersey, confessed to choking Etan. But his lawyers have said he’s mentally ill and his confession was false, and they’ve vowed to appeal his conviction.

Etan was among the first missing children pictured on milk cartons. His case contributed to an era of fear among American families, making anxious parents more protective of kids who many once allowed to roam and play unsupervised in their neighborhoods.

His own parents’ advocacy helped to establish a national missing-children hotline and to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to share information about such cases. The May 25 anniversary of his disappearance became National Missing Children’s Day.

From the start, the 6-year-old’s case spurred a huge manhunt and an enduring, far-flung investigation. But no trace of him has ever been found. A civil court declared him dead in 2001.

Hernandez, now 56 years old, didn’t become a suspect until police got a 2012 tip that he had made remarks many years before about having killed a child in New York.

Hernandez then confessed to police, saying he’d lured Etan into the store’s basement by promising a soda, then choked him because “something just took over me.” He said he put Etan, still alive, in a box and left it with curbside trash.

“I’m being honest. I feel bad what I did,” Hernandez said in a recorded statement.

His lawyers say he confessed falsely because of a mental illness that makes him confuse reality with imagination. He also has a very low IQ.

The defense also pointed to another suspect, a convicted child molester whom some investigators and prosecutors — and even Etan’s parents — pursued for years. That man made incriminating statements to authorities years ago about Etan but denied killing him and has since insisted he wasn’t involved in the boy’s disappearance. He was never charged.

Hernandez’s February conviction came in a retrial. His first trial ended in a jury deadlock in 2015.

Arkansas Executions: What’s Next for the Inmates Who Were Scheduled to Die — TIME

If Arkansas had its way, the state would have two fewer inmates on death row today. Bruce Ward and Don Davis had originally been the first of eight Arkansas inmates scheduled to die within 11 days of each other. But a series of legal challenges has spared the lives of both inmates and thrown the…

via Arkansas Executions: What’s Next for the Inmates Who Were Scheduled to Die — TIME

Court rulings delay executions

Late Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal from the state to allow it to go forward with Davis’s execution. Justice Samuel Alito referred the request to the full court, which ruled just minutes before Arkansas’s execution warrant for Davis expired.

That decision followed a ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court that blocked both Davis’s and Ward’s executions. Ward, who was convicted of killing 18-year-old Rebecca Doss in 1990, had received a stay of execution from the state supreme court earlier in the week over his mental health. The state chose not to appeal that decision. But it did ask the Supreme Court to allow it to move ahead with the execution of Davis, who was convicted of killing 62-year-old Jane Daniel in 1990.

Shooting in Fresno, Calif., Leaves One Person Dead — TIME

(FRESNO, Calif.) — Emergency officials say a shooting has killed one person and injured two others in downtown Fresno. Dan Lynch of Fresno County Emergency Medical Services says the two wounded by gunfire have been transported to hospitals. Fresno city spokesman Mark Standriff says county offices are on lockdown, and people have been urged to…

via Shooting in Fresno, Calif., Leaves One Person Dead — TIME

Josh Rogin: Pence brings his campaign of reassurance to America’s rattled Pacific allies (and the timing is perfect) — National Post

Pence’s four-nation tour of Asia, which will take him also to Japan, Indonesia and Australia, is meant to both remind America’s Pacific allies where we’ve come from and let them know that the United States under Trump has a clear sense and firm commitment to where we are going. There’s no doubt that reassurance is both badly needed and welcomed, given the confusion foreign partners have about the Trump administration.

Vice-President Mike Pence could not have known when he took off from Joint Base Andrews Saturday morning that by the time he landed here in South Korea, the North Korean regime would have fired off yet another missile, raising tensions on the peninsula to almost unprecedented levels. But his response to the incident was on par with his rising role as the Trump administration’s unofficial secretary of reassurance.

On the plane ride over, shortly after taking off from our refuelling stop in Alaska, Pence was informed that the Pyongyang regime had fired off what appeared to be a medium-range missile that exploded only seconds after leaving the launch pad. A White House foreign policy adviser came to the back of the plane to brief reporters on the planned response; since the test was a failure, no response was needed, the adviser said.

“For this particular case if they took the time and energy to launch a missile that failed we don’t need to expend any resources against that,” the adviser said, adding that if the test had been successful or if it had been a nuclear detonation, the U.S. government had a robust response plan at the ready.


via Josh Rogin: Pence brings his campaign of reassurance to America’s rattled Pacific allies (and the timing is perfect) — National Post

Facebook Live murder suspect commits suicide in Pennsylvania — 247NEWSUPDATE BLOG

The man suspected of killing a Cleveland man and posting a video of the murder on Facebook fatally shot himself after a “brief pursuit” by Pennsylvania State Police officers on Tuesday, police said.

Steve Stephens was accused of shooting 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. on a sidewalk in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday before fleeing in a car and uploading a video of the murder to Facebook, becoming the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

Pennsylvania State Police officers found Stephens in Erie County, Pennsylvania, after getting a tip from the public that his white Ford Fusion was parked outside a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant, Calvin Williams, the Cleveland police chief, told a news conference.

After a brief chase, Stephens stopped his vehicle, Williams said.

“As the officers approached that vehicle Steve Stephens took his own life,” Williams said. “We would have preferred that it had not ended this way,” he added, saying he and the community would have had “a lot of questions” for Stephens.

Stephens, who had no prior criminal record, was not suspected in any other killings, Cleveland officials said.

Stephens said in a separate video on Facebook on Sunday that he had already killed a dozen others.


via Facebook Live murder suspect commits suicide in Pennsylvania — 247NEWSUPDATE BLOG

Is Mattis the voice of reason in the Trump administration? Sure looks like it

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s top diplomat accused the United States on Wednesday of carrying out an unlawful attack against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces as he opened a fraught meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Giving Tillerson a chilly reception, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia was trying to understand the…

via Russia accuses US of unlawful Syria raid as Tillerson visits — WPRI 12 Eyewitness News

“Mad Dog” Mattis emerges as a voice of reason on Syria — RareRare

Think about the inner workings of the Trump administration and it’s difficult not to picture the brawl scene from “Blazing Saddles,” with the president’s staffers hurling food at each other and throwing punches, while Rex Tillerson emerges from the bathroom, sees the chaos, and quickly ducks back inside. The constant mixed messages from Trump’s cabinet secretaries, compounded by…

via “Mad Dog” Mattis emerges as a voice of reason on Syria — RareRare