Duncan death penalty jury sees interview of Shasta Groene…
Jurors on Tuesday watched a police interview of an 8-year-old girl that was videotaped soon after she was rescued from a convicted pedophile who she said raped her and forced her to watch him torture, molest and kill her younger brother. See MSNBC News story here
Appearing composed and wrapped in a quilt decorated with teddy bears, Shasta Groene described how she and her 9-year-old brother, Dylan, were raped and forced to perform sex acts together by Joseph Edward Duncan III, whom she called "Jet."
The federal jury is to decide whether Duncan should be executed. He has pleaded guilty to 10 federal counts involving the kidnapping and torture of the children and the slaying of Dylan at a remote campsite in western Montana. He also faces the death penalty in a separate state case in which he pleaded guilty to murdering the siblings' family.
The 2005 interview presented in court was taped at the Kootenai Medical Center, where Shasta Groene, then 8, was being treated shortly after she was spotted with Duncan and rescued at a restaurant in Coeur d'Alene. See more at vol5_iss6 and vol5_iss79.
In previous sessions jurors heard the voice of this little girl who endured weeks of torture and despair but survived the 2005 attack that decimated her family. See MSNBC story here
They heard from her father and they saw poignant letters written in captivity by the girl, then 8, and her 9-year-old brother before the boy was slain.
Coeur d'Alene police Officer Shane Avriett, the first officer to talk to Shasta after she was rescued, testified about how he turned on his vehicle's dashboard-mounted video camera, with the camera pointed away from Shasta, and recorded her talking about her ordeal. She cried as she told Avriett how Duncan shot her brother in the stomach at the campsite, then shot him again in the head and burned the body in front of her.
The children's father, Steven Groene, took the stand Thursday morning, showing pictures of his youngest children and choking up after confirming their handwriting on notes apparently written at their kidnapper's behest.
Jurors also learned that one of the items seized from his vehicle after Joseph Edward Duncan III was arrested with Shasta Groene at an Idaho restaurant was a GPS device on which he had marked several points of interest. crime.about.com/story here Several of the locations marked on the GPS were homes, including a daycare center, at which play equipment was in the yard.
Jurors heard testimony about several GPS locations marked on the device. After fleeing Fargo, North Dakota where he was living while facing child molestation charges in Minnesota, Duncan stole a Jeep Cherokee in Minnesota and headed westward. As he traveled, he marked on the GPS device locations that he visited. Between Fargo and Montana, Duncan marked seven homes, including a daycare center. All were in rural areas, had play equipment in the yard and were visible from a major highway nearby, jurors were told. That description also fits the home of Dylan and Shasta Groene in Idaho.
Majority of US college students have felt suicidal…
A comprehensive study of suicidal thinking among college students found more than half of the 26,000 surveyed had suicidal thoughts at some point during their lifetime. ABC News story here
The web-based survey conducted in spring 2006 used separate samples of undergraduate and graduate students from 70 colleges and universities across the country.
Of the 15,010 undergraduates, average age 22: 55 percent had ever thought of suicide; 18 percent seriously considered it; and 8 percent made an attempt. Among 11,441 graduate students, average age 30: Exactly half had such thoughts; 15 percent seriously considered it and 6 percent made an attempt.
"Suicidal crises are a common occurrence on college campuses," says Chris Brownson, director of the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center in Austin and one of the study's researchers.
The findings, which were presented at a session of the American Psychological Association's annual meeting, were compiled from online surveys conducted by the National Research Consortium of Counseling Centers in Higher Education based at the UT-Austin.
Whether there are in fact more disturbed young people in college today is a subject of debate, according to the researchers, who say more young people with mental health issues are able to attend college as a result of drugs and other treatment measures; more women are in college and they are more likely to seek professional help; and colleges have improved their tracking of those with mental health concerns.
Of the students surveyed, 17 percent of undergraduates and 22 percent of graduate students reported having ever taken medicine for mental health concerns.
The mother of missing 3-year-old Caylee Anthony is close to being released from jail. Fox News story here A bail bondsman expected to deliver the $500,000 needed to bail Casey Anthony out by dinnertime Tuesday, but a problem with paperwork has delayed the process, according to MyFOXOrlando.com. Tony Padilla, who flew in to Orlando from California to free Anthony, said she probably won't see the light of day until Wednesday morning. Anthony remains a "person of interest" in the disappearance of her toddler daughter, who hasn't been seen for two months. The 22-year-old mother described by friends and family as a habitual liar didn't report Caylee missing until about 30 days after she said she left her with a baby sitter who snatched her. Police have said they doubt that story. Fox News video story here
Texas child welfare authorities have decided that the courts no longer need to oversee 34 children taken from a polygamous sect's ranch in west Texas. CBS News story here The action does not necessarily end Child Protective Services' involvement with the children, but it means officials believe they can be kept safe without court intervention, agency spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said. Child Protective Services filed papers in San Angelo asking that the cases involving 10 families be dropped, and a judge agreed. They represent the first children dropped from court oversight in the case. Meanwhile, a 14-year-old girl allegedly married to jailed polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs with her parents' blessing at age 12 was ordered back into foster care Tuesday by a Texas judge. CNN News story here District Judge Barbara Walther said that there was "uncontroverted evidence of the underage marriage" and that the girl's mother, Barbara Jessop, refused to guarantee the girl's safety. The girl, shown in photographs submitted to the court kissing Jeffs, must immediately enter foster care. The girl's case marked the first effort by Child Protective Services to retake custody of a child who lived at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado before the April raid that resulted in 440 children being placed in foster care for six weeks. The Texas Supreme Court later struck down that early custody decision, saying the state failed to show any more than a handful of teenage girls might have been abused. See background at vol6_iss49, vol6_iss27 and vol5_iss65.
Authorities accuse a former Michigan elementary school teacher of having sex with a 12-year-old boy she was tutoring at her home. CBS News story here Allanah Benton-Wells of Flint was arraigned on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The 42-year-old could face life in prison if convicted. Authorities say Benton-Wells had sex with a sixth-grader in her class on two occasions last year when she was supposedly helping him with her homework. Benton-Wells is divorced and the mother of 19-month-old twins. She was put on paid leave from Flint Williams Elementary School in November and was fired this month.
After denying Javon Thompson food and water for two days because he wouldn't say "Amen" after meals, the 1-year-old's caretakers waited for a divine sign that their message had been heard: a resurrection. http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/08/18/cult.slaying.ap/index.html For more than a week, police say in charging documents describing the scene, the child's lifeless body lay in the back room of an apartment. Queen Antoinette, the 40-year-old leader of a group that called itself 1 Mind Ministries, brought in her followers and told them to pray. God, she said, would raise Javon from the dead. Instead, Javon's body began to decompose. The boy's mother, 21-year-old Ria Ramkissoon, and four other people authorities say are members of the group face first-degree murder charges in his death. Ramkissoon's mother and attorney say that she was brainwashed by a cult and acted only at the group leader's will.
The British "librarian" of a child porn archive accused of amassing nearly 250,000 images pleaded guilty in England to sending indecent images of children to subscribers in more than 30 countries. Findlaw news story here The judge at Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough ordered Philip Thompson, 27, of Stockton-on-Tees in northeastern England, to serve at least three years, nine months in prison. He pleaded guilty to 16 counts that include making indecent photographs of children, distributing indecent photographs of children, taking indecent photographs of children, possessing child abuse images and causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity. Officials say he controlled the archive from two computers in his mother's house. Police classified more than 3,000 of the images as showing the most serious forms of child sex abuse. Police have identified 360 people worldwide suspected of involvement in the ring; 50 have been arrested in Britain.
A study released by the Fatherhood Institute shows that the federal government spent $100 million on fatherless families in 2006. Link to study here This study, the first of its kind, provides an estimate of the taxpayer costs of father absence. More precisely, it estimates the annual expenditures made by the federal government to support father-absent homes. These federal expenditures include those made on thirteen means-tested antipoverty programs and child support enforcement, and the total expenditures add up to a startling $99.8 billion.
Authorities say a California sheriff's deputy and an attorney were among 55 men charged with possessing child pornography after an eight-month investigation. See AP story here The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles says the suspects used peer-to-peer networks to exchange graphic images and videos, then stored the files. U.S. attorney's office spokesman Thom Mrozek says San Luis Obispo County Deputy Bryan Jon Goossens and attorney Thomas Merdzinski of San Bernardino are among those charged. Some men were also charged with production of child pornography and committing crimes while registered sex offenders.
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