Crucial Updates

Benjamin Gerard Hawkins

Remember Benjamin "One-Punch" Hawkins?
LAS VEGAS — A former high school football coach and teacher from Florida was sentenced to three months in jail and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine Thursday after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the one-punch death of a Utah man at a Las Vegas casino.

Defense attorney Jack Buchanan said he didn't believe a punitive stint in the Clark County Detention Center was appropriate for his client, 39-year-old Benjamin Gerard Hawkins of Gainesville. Hawkins has remained free following his November conviction in the death of 46-year-old John Massie, an occupational safety and health worker at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Clark County District Court Judge Valerie Adair also ordered Hawkins to serve five years of probation, undergo impulse-control and anger management counseling, and abstain from alcohol.

"We're just as disappointed in this as we were the verdict," said Buchanan, who had sought only probation for his client.

Darius Simmons

I know you guys haven't forgotten him.
Family and friends, including tearful mother Patricia Larry, held hands and prayed outside a Milwaukee County courtroom Wednesday after a judge again postponed trial for John Spooner, accused of killing Larry's 13-year-old son last May.

An expert witness for the defense, Basil Jackson, broke his shoulder and can't attend the trial, which had been set for Monday. He was to argue that Spooner, 76, is not guilty by reason of mental disease. Spooner's lawyer, Franklyn Gimbel, said the defense couldn't go ahead without an expert, and there wasn't time to find another.

The trial was moved to July 15, more than a year after the crime occurred.

Larry spoke for the first time in court about the burden the delay has caused her.

"My son, Darius Simmons, was shot and killed in front of me," she said. "It's affected me, my friends, my work."

The Rev. Steve Jerbi, a pastor at All People's Church in Milwaukee, said the decision had brought grief and sadness, and justice delayed was justice denied.

"The family continues to wait," he said. "We gather here to bear witness and support for Mrs. Larry, for the classmates and teachers, for the whole family and the whole city that still mourns Darius' death."

Spooner is charged with first-degree intentional homicide after allegedly gunning down Simmons in front of his mother on May 31, convinced the teenager stole thousands of dollars in shotguns from his home. Simmons and Larry lived next door to Spooner. He faces life in prison.
Jordan Russell Davis

At least they took Michael David Dunn straight to jail once they found him.
A second judge has removed herself from the high-profile Jacksonville murder trial of Michael David Dunn, charged with killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis in a dispute over loud music.

Circuit Judge Mallory Cooper had been appointed in May following the defense team’s request for Judge Suzanne Bass to step down due to concerns for a fair trial.

Bass denied him bail, refused a motion to have the state declare him indigent and pushed to have the trial in September even though his attorneys said it was unrealistic. Defense attorney Cory Strolla also said Bass failed to control her courtroom, including warning the victim’s father about his outburst, the Times-Union previously reported.

Cooper was replaced by Circuit Judge Russell Healey, court records show.

Judges aren’t permitted to talk about specific cases.

Strolla and State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jackelyn Barnard did not respond to emails and calls for comment about what prompted the change.

It does come a day after Cooper replaced Bass after stepping down from another high-profile case — Donald James Smith’s trial in the death of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle.

Dunn, 46, is charged with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. He shot into a Dodge Durango with four teenagers after a dispute over their loud music, according to police. Only Davis was hit.
Rekia Boyd

Finally...something resembling justice....
CHICAGO -- With three new settlements this week and more lawsuits pending, Chicago's price tag for legal claims against its police force is climbing and has already surpassed the $27 million the city set aside for this year.

The City Council agreed to settle three lawsuits this week for nearly $7 million. That's on top of the more than $32 million aldermen signed off on weeks ago in two police misconduct cases. With three more lawsuits stemming from one of the most shameful chapters in the department's history – the torture of murder suspects by detectives under the command of former Lt. Jon Burge – still in the legal pipeline and two more federal lawsuits filed this week, the total could climb significantly higher.

City law department spokesman Roderick Drew said the city now will use bonds to cover settlements, as it has done in the past.

The largest settlement this week was for $4.5 million to the family of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd. Drew said that Boyd was walking down the street on March 21, 2012, when an off-duty police detective sitting in his own vehicle got into an argument with a group of men nearby. Thinking one of the men had a gun as he approached his vehicle, the detective "started firing blindly over his shoulder," with one of the bullets striking Boyd in the head, killing her. "She had nothing to do with any of it," Drew said. 


  1. *rubs temples* Jesus, be a fence...

  2. Bad news GZ been acquitted

    1. Saw that coming the moment they selected the jury.

  3. ***crucial update***

    A Wisconsion jury needed only two hours to convict John Spooner of murder in the first degree...after Spooner tried to worm his way out with an insanity defense.

    1. Leo Princess7/18/13, 1:06 AM

      Well, thanks goodness that jury had people on it with working brain cells!


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