Tag Archives: sexual assault

Update: Details Revealed About Evidence, Previous Arrests of Las Vegas Ex-Cop Finally Charged in 1997 Rape and Murder

Previous Charges Arthur Lee Sewall Former LVMPD Officer Murder

At a preliminary hearing, court documents revealed LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall already had a criminal history before the 1997 rape and murder he was finally charged with in January.

Last week, I wrote about former Metro Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr., who was charged with murder and rape for the 1997 killing of a woman named Nadia Iverson. The original story was that a “lack of funding” prevented the testing of the Iverson’s rape kit and other DNA evidence from the crime scene. Presumably, that made it impossible to prosecute him at the time from a lack of evidence.

After receiving a grant from the New York District Attorney’s Office, the rape kit was finally sent for testing in 2016. Then, in February of 2017, Sewall’s DNA was positively matched to that rape kit. As a result, Officer Sewall was finally charged with rape and murder earlier this month (Jan. 10th).

A sample of Sewall’s DNA had actually been available since 1999, when he was sentenced to (just) probation for a separate arrest on multiple on duty sex crimes, and he was accused by prosecutors of Iverson’s murder the very same day her body was found. Once again though, since they couldn’t scrape together the cash to test that one rape kit, Sewall was able to avoid prosecution for twenty-plus years.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

When he was eventually arrested  last month Sewall essentially confessed to the murder of Iverson in a statement to Metro detectives. Although, in a quote published by Mike Shoro of the Las Vegas Review Journal it does sound like he is looking to claim it was an accident:

“During the interview, he admitted to engaging Iverson in sex for money,” Sewall’s arrest warrant said. “During their sexual encounter, Iverson was shot. Sewall couldn’t account for why his gun was out or pointed at Iverson. He knew she was shot in the head and he immediately fled the scene.”

A Previous History of Violence Against Women

However, like most cases of crimes and misconduct committed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers, it has now come out after the fact that the real story is quite a bit different than what was originally reported. Not only did court documents reveal even more details about his arrest history that predated the murder, but it also raises serious questions about why he couldn’t have been prosecuted even without the DNA evidence.

Rape Murder Charges Las Vegas Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall

Former LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr.

Those documents, which were made public at a preliminary hearing last week, also show that Metro police officers had responded to a domestic violence call at Sewall’s house in 1995, two years prior to the murder. Although he (not surprisingly) was never charged with a crime as a result, a .357 revolver was confiscated from Sewall by those officers.

As I mentioned in the original post, Officer Sewall was also arrested earlier in 1997 in a video sting operation for forcing prostitutes to perform sex acts. He was on duty and used the threat of arrest in those sexual assaults. That arrest led to his resignation from the LVMPD.

In addition, although he was only sentenced to probation for those rapes, that sentence is what required him to submit a DNA sample in 1999. As was once again mentioned in the previous post, Sewall also was arrested while he was awaiting sentencing in 1999 for propositioning an undercover cop who was posing as a prostitute in San Diego.

Sufficient Evidence Twenty Years Ago?

Based on those court documents, that .357 revolver and those previous arrests would have represented a pretty significant piece of evidence in the 1997 case for which Sewall currently faces charges. In fact, had it been pursued that alone probably would have been more than enough to tie him to the murder and secure a conviction.

Las Vegas Police Officer Arthur Sewall Murder Rape Victim Nadia Iverson

An Undated Photo of Nadia Iverson.

Back then, before Clark County’s “Blue Card” law was overturned, all handguns had to be registered with Metro. As a result, Sewall’s was officially listed as an owner of such a weapon. Obviously, there was also a record of that from when he had it impounded during his domestic violence incident as well.

According to the current arrest warrant detectives at the time determined a bullet “consistent with a .357 revolver Sewall previously registered with Metro” was used to kill Iverson. In spite of that, Las Vegas police seemingly did not even attempt to match the bullet to the gun they knew Sewall had at the time.

Not only that, but when Sewall was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in San Diego while he was already awaiting sentencing for raping prostitutes, he had that same revolver in his possession. Meanwhile, neither the LVMPD or Clark County prosecutors mad any effort to acquire the gun they obviously suspected he had used to murder someone after it was confiscated by San Diego police.

Instead, Sewall was sentenced to probation and that revolver was later destroyed by the SDPD, eliminating any chance it could be tested for a ballistics match. Officer Sewall proceeded to violate that probation numerous times over the course of the next five years with relatively little consequences for those violations. Also, as can be evidenced by his Facebook profile, Sewall was living a pretty comfortable life during the twenty years Iverson’s rape and murder went unpunished.

Incompetence or an Intentional Lack of Effort?

As has already been pointed out in previous posts, the excuse that there was a lack of funds is a ridiculous excuse for not testing the thousands of rape kits that have sat untouched in evidence rooms from as long ago as the mid-eighties. Las Vegas area city governments and police departments have had no problem coming up with well over a billion dollars in total for new government buildings, publicly funded NFL stadiums, and faulty radio systems.

They even came up with $400,000 to pay off the police chief and deputy chief at the Henderson Police Department after they were forced to resign for sexual harassment. The idea that they couldn’t somehow come up with enough money to test that one rape kit that would positively identify the person they suspected in the case literally from day one should be considered an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

But even if you disregard the DNA evidence altogether, they shouldn’t have had a very difficult time charging and even convicting Sewall. Detectives investigating the crime scene had already determined she was killed by a gun matching one they knew for a fact he owned.

The fact he had it impounded by the San Diego police during his 1999 arrest obviously means he still had it in 1997 after the murder. They very easily could have gotten a warrant to have it tested right after the murder or while it was in the possession of the San Diego police.

Regardless of any other evidence (which I’m sure there was), matching the gun to crime would by itself be pretty damning. A prostitute being raped and then killed using a gun owned by someone with a history of sexual assault and violence against women (and in particular prostitutes) would be pretty hard to explain away.

Instead of presenting (or apparently even seeking) that evidence however, investigators just filed it away along with the rape kit that they don’t seem to have had any interest in ever having processed. At best, this would have to be classified as a huge case of incompetence by the Las Vegas police and prosecutors.

In fact, it’s almost like they intentionally tried to avoid prosecuting one of their own by making sure the evidence didn’t get found. Almost exactly like that.

Original Local News Report

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Oklahoma Governor: Police Not Complying With Executive Order to Audit Untested Rape Kits

Backlog Untested Rape Kits Police Refusing to Comply Audit Order

The massive backlog of untested rape kits sitting in evidence rooms across the country totals anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands in number.

Last week, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin stated that only about half of the police departments in the state were complying with an executive order she issued in April instructing them to perform an audit of all untested rape kits. To be clear, the order wasn’t to complete the testing of the thousands that are sitting in evidence rooms throughout the state. In fact, it wasn’t even actually to begin testing them. It was simply to perform an inventory and determine just how many of them there are.

For many of those departments, though, the deadline of December 31, 2017 has come and gone. A lieutenant at the El Reno Police Department who states that they did do the audit but it somehow slipped his mind to send the information in. Meanwhile, according to “News9.com” Sgt. Jillian Phippen of the Tulsa Police Department maintains that they just don’t have the personnel or money to do it.

“For us, to do that, to comply with this unfunded mandate, it’s just a lot of money,” said Sgt. Phippen. “We’re already putting my sex crimes detectives back into the field to work patrol positions, so it’s not like we just have extra individuals that can stop what they’re doing and then complete this audit.”

It’s kinda obvious where the priorities of police department are when  one representative states that he “just forgot” to provide the information and the other says that their department has their rape investigators out generating revenue by writing tickets, instead of solving sex crimes.

For her part, Governor Fallin, who has now given them until Feb. 15th to comply, doesn’t seem terribly worried about the fact that thousands of rapists are walking the streets and potentially victimizing other women, when they could have been caught long ago. She “isn’t happy with the lack of cooperation she is getting from law enforcement.” However, she seems to be willing to afford them the benefit of the doubt that they (eventually) will.

“That’s not enough.” Governor Fallin said. “We need to do better and I think everybody’s certainly willing to step up and do it but we need to finish the job.”

Rape survivors, such as Danielle Tudor, aren’t quite so patient, though:

Tudor says that’s not acceptable.

“What is says to me as a rape survivor and unfortunately what it says to future sexual assault victims is, ‘Is it worth it to report it? Is it worth it to have that rape kit done because I have no guarantee that my evidence will even be used in my case.'”

News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

A National Issue and a Question of Priorities

It’s a valid concern for victims of rape and other crimes involving sexual assault and it’s not just limited to Oklahoma, either. A 2015 story by USA Today estimated at least 70,000 untested rape kits existed nationwide, based on data obtained through a massive campaign of open records requests. A year earlier, in 2014, the Daily Beast published their own estimate of 400,000 kits that have failed to be tested since the mid 80’s when DNA testing began to be widely used.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

Police Need to Take Rape Seriously

Police Don’t

While it’s a handy excuse to ignore things the police don’t really want to be bothered with the “lack of funding” doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny. Early last week, I posted about former LVMPD Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr.,who was (finally charged with rape and murder twenty years after the crime was committed.

In spite of the fact investigators suspected Sewall literally from day one of their investigation in 1997, the victim’s rape kit wasn’t processed until 2017. Prosecutors supposedly couldn’t find the money to process a rape kit in a case where they already had a suspect, that suspect had a previous history of sex crimes, and they already had access to his DNA profile.

Meanwhile, the LVMPD and the City of Las Vegas managed to scrape together over a half billion dollars between them to build a new police headquarters and city hall. Just for good measure the nearby suburb of North Las Vegas also built new fancy building for their police department and city government.

Just as outrageous is the story Joey Lankowski posted here at NVCopBlock.org yesterday. Within it, he detailed how it was recently exposed that Henderson (another Vegas suburb) Police Chief Patrick Moers and his second in command, Deputy Police Chief Bobby Long, were forced to resign as the result of a sexual harassment scandal.

As part of what was originally characterized as a “voluntary separation,” Moers and Long received about $400,000 for accrued vacation hours and benefits. I have very little doubt that that money alone would have funded testing for quite a few of the 4,000+ untested rape kits within Southern Nevada. If not, then the $750 million in public funds the Clark County Commission voted to give the Raiders for a new stadium certainly would.

Are There Other, Worse, Reasons for the Lack of Urgency?

Of course, the reason that there wasn’t a more immediate uproar about Chief Moers’ and Deputy Chief Long’s large payoffs was because the Henderson City Government kept the true reason for their resignations under wraps for months until an anonymous source tipped off the local newspaper.

Similarly, Officer Sewall spent the vast majority of those twenty years violating his probation terms without suffering any significant repercussions. Nor did anyone in a position to do so make much of an effort to get the one rape kit that could confirm what they already suspected was true processed. It’s almost like the respective prosecutors, city governments, and police departments were just not that interested in pursuing the case, if they could avoid it. Almost exactly like that.

(Not to mention the mayor of North Las Vegas, for whom the former NLV police chief admitted having covered up the presence of child porn on his computer and the current number two man in charge at the LVMPD, who once had to resign after he asked a woman to expose herself in exchange for not being arrested.)

It’s no secret that some police have used their position and the vulnerabilities of women they often interact with to pressure or physically force them into performing sex acts. In fact, just three years ago, right there in Oklahoma City, Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted of raping 13 women and had preyed upon numerous more during his time as a police officer.

Experts say that DNA evidence is as high as 99% accurate and has led to the identification of over 1,200 serial rapists in Detroit and Cleveland alone after concerted efforts were made to test the backlogs there. It would seem that Oklahoma, Nevada, and everywhere else would want to do the same, thereby bringing justice to past victims and preventing future ones.

Unless they’re afraid that a certain occupation might pop up a little too often once those tests are conducted…

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Murder Charges Filed Against Former Las Vegas Cop After 1997 Rape Kit is Finally Processed Twenty Years Later

Rape Kit 1997 Murder Charges Arthur Lee Sewall Former LVMPD Officer

Former LVMPD Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr. has been charged with murder after a rape kit from 1997 was finally processed in 2017.

Earlier this week, former Metro Police Officer Arthur Lee Sewall Jr. was charged with murder and rape for the 1997 killing of a woman named Nadia Iverson. Iverson’s body had been found by a construction crew at an unoccupied apartment in May of that year. He was finally arrested on January 11th in Reno, where he had been living recently.

Sewall was named by prosecutors as a suspect the very same day that her body was discovered. However, although they had acquired a sample of his DNA in 1999, a positive identification of Sewall wasn’t made until February of 2017. The reason for that is because, due to a lack of funding, the rape kit collected from Iverson was not sent for processing until March of 2016.

In the meantime, Sewall spent a large percentage of those twenty years on probation for sex crimes committed while on duty prior to Iverson’s murder. In February of ’97 Officer Sewall had been caught on video attempting to force a woman to perform oral sex on him. Instead of being fully prosecuted for that crime, he was allowed to resign from the department and given a plea deal for two charges of oppression under the color of law.

He was then sentenced to probation, even though he was arrested in San Diego for soliciting a prostitute while awaiting sentencing. During that time on probation, he was caught in possession of a knife and gun by probation officers, failed to submit required reports, and also did not comply with a sex offender counseling program he had been ordered to complete.

Finally in 2004, he was sentenced to almost two years in prison for repeated probation violations. Even after being released from prison, he still didn’t comply the restrictions he was subject to as a convicted felon. At the time he was arrested in Reno, he had not registered his address change after moving from California and had to be tracked down by detectives. According to media reports (video embedded below), he then confessed to the murder of Iverson.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

The failure of police departments and city governments to fund the testing of rape kits across the country has left huge backlogs and prevented the arrest and conviction of rapists. As a result, many of those perpetrators have been able to continue victimizing women and committing other violent crimes for years and even decades in some cases. Others have been falsely convicted only to be exonerated once the testing was finally conducted.

In Southern Nevada alone 6,473 rape kits went untested, including approximately 5,600 connected to investigations within the LVMPD. It wasn’t until they received a $2.7 million grant from the New York State District Attorney’s Office that those kits began to get tested within the past couple of years.

Over 4,000 of those rape kits are still in the process of being tested or have not been sent out for testing to this day. Meanwhile, in recent times Metro has spent almost $300 million on a new headquarters complex, $42 million dollars on a new radio system that never worked properly (of which allegations of favoritism and kickbacks have been made), and another $26 million dollars to pay for the radio system that replaced it.

The City of Las Vegas also spent $185 million to build a new City Hall. That and the LVMPD’s HQ were both initiated in 2008. So somehow they managed to find the funding for those optional (and heavily criticized) expenditures during the worst recession in 70 years, but not for the (relatively) tiny fraction of cost that would be involved in the testing of the rape kits.

And that doesn’t even take into account the annual cost of payouts to victims of the misconduct and violence perpetrated by Las Vegas area police officers. In several recent years that money alone would have paid for all of the rape kits to be processed. That’s especially relevant when discussing a crime that was committed by one of those officers and then went unsolved for twenty years because there was no money for the rape kit to be processed.

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Kirstin Blaise Lobato Freed After 15 Years in Prison for Las Vegas Murder Prosecutors Knew She Couldn’t Have Committed

Wrongful Murder Conviction Overturned Kirstin Blaise Lobato

In spite of evidence of her innocence, the Clark County DA’s Office did everything they could to prevent Kirstin Blaise Lobato from being freed after over 15 years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.

After spending her entire adult life in prison for a murder she didn’t commit, a Las Vegas woman has finally been released. Kristin Blaise Lobato spent over 15 years behind bars in spite of evidence that she was over 150 miles away at the time the killing took place. However, she was finally able to walk out of the Clark County Detention Center a free woman for the first time since she was 18 years old on January 3rd.

Meanwhile, even after a judge had declared her innocent and ordered her release, prosecutors with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office refused to acknowledge the improprieties carried out during her trial(s). In fact, they even briefly had plans to force her to spend another year in the county jail for having been caught having sex with another inmate during the time that she was wrongfully imprisoned.

Fortunately, Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez also dismissed that case, instead ruling that the time she had already spent in prison for a crime she didn’t commit was sufficient punishment for that as well and giving her credit for time served. Judge Gonzalez then ordered that Lobato be released from custody immediately.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson and Chief Deputy District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo have attempted to justify their efforts to keep an innocent woman in prison by contending that the fact she was found guilty at trial by two juries means she is. However, the case against Lobato was very much flawed from the start and those verdicts were more a product of what was kept from the juries than the strength of the evidence actually presented to them.

Kirstin Blaise Lobato Released From Prison

There was virtually no physical evidence tying Lobato to the murder of Duran Bailey, a homeless man who was found beaten to death and castrated in a Downtown Las Vegas dumpster in 2001. The only real justification for her to even be a suspect was a story that she told to several people that she had fended off a rape attempt by cutting her attacker’s penis with a knife.

She had told that story weeks prior to the murder, though, and had identified the location where that incident happened as a different area of town. In spite of that, police investigators characterized her description of stabbing a man attempting to sexually assault her in the groin during an interrogation as a confession of Bailey’s murder.

More importantly, Lobato was positively verified to have been at her parents’ house in Panaca, Nevada, nearly 200 miles from Las Vegas on July 8, when Bailey was murdered. Based on that and other inconsistencies in the physical evidence, experts brought in by her defense attorneys testified that it would have been impossible for her to have carried out the murder.

However, that testimony was suppressed by Judge Valorie Vega during the original trial. Meanwhile, the prosecution was allowed to present a expert witnesses that made the ridiculous claim that flies in Las Vegas act completely different than flies anywhere else in the world do.

In addition, the district attorney’s office actively fought to prevent additional DNA testing on the physical evidence recovered at the scene, even after the Innocence Project offered to pay any costs involved. All previous DNA testing had excluded Lobato and, due to the violent method of Bailey’s death, it’s unlikely the person who murdered him could have done so without leaving their own DNA behind (such evidence from an unknown source was in fact found).

Of course, if Lobato was guilty those tests would more than likely definitively prove she was present at the crime scene. So realistically the district attorneys should have had their own incentive to cooperate with the DNA tests.

Regardless of that, Judge Vega ruled against allowing the testing. Shortly after, Vega chose not to run for reelection following an (unrelated) official reprimand against her by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. In what’s probably not a coincidence, almost exactly three years after Judge Vega left the bench Kristin Blaise Lobato walked out of the front door of the Clark County Detention Center.

Background on the Case and False Convictions

Not Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson and his underlings at the DA’s office have gone to great lengths to keep someone who was obviously innocent in prison. Not too long ago, I reported on the case of Demarlo Berry, who was falsely convicted of murder based on testimony from a witness that was coached and paid off by detectives from the LVMPD.

Not only were the prosecutors in the case complicit in manufacturing evidence against Berry, they also delayed his release for four years after that witness recanted his testimony and the real murderer had confessed. Then, once they finally realized that they couldn’t prevent his release, they portrayed it as if they were responsible for freeing him.

In another case, Fred Steese was issued a pardon last month in order to clear his record of a murder he was falsely convicted of and spent twenty-one years in prison for after he was beaten and coerced into confessing. Prosecutors also hid evidence that definitively proved he was in another state at the time and photo lineup results that pointed to his innocence.

Instead of releasing him after he was declared “actually innocent” by a judge, they threatened to refile the charges and drag out the process coercing Steese into accepting a plea deal for second degree murder to ensure he wouldn’t have to stay in prison for years while fighting those new charges.

Numerous other convictions in Clark County have been overturned recently, including several death penalty cases, due to racial discrimination by prosecutors during jury selection. Obviously, for Wolfson and his prosecutors the important issue isn’t guilt or innocence, but rather simply whether they can get a conviction, even if it they know it’s a false conviction.

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LA Supreme Court: It’s Reasonable to Believe “Give Me a Lawyer Dog” was Request for a Dog Who is a Lawyer

Lawyer Dog Louisiana Supreme Court Canine Attorney

Lawyer Dog should really ask Grumpy Judge to recuse herself. #JusSayin

Recently, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a ruling on a motion to suppress evidence against Warren Demesme, who is currently awaiting trial in New Orleans. By a 6-1 majority the court denied that motion, which maintained that statements Demesme had made should be thrown because the police had ignored his request for legal counsel during interrogations.

What’s gotten a lot of attention (and rightfully so) since that ruling is the courts’ contention that Demesme’s request was ambiguous and unclear. But even more so for the reasoning behind the ruling. Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Kyle Daly argued in his response to the motion that Demesme’s statement, “just give me a lawyer dog,” could be misinterpreted by a “reasonable officer” based on the use of the words “lawyer dog.”

In a brief accompanying the decision, Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton agreed that the defendant’s use of “lawyer dog” could be misconstrued to mean something else and therefore did not qualify as a request for counsel.

Via the Washington Post:

Warren Demesme, then 22, was being interrogated by New Orleans police in October 2015 after two young girls claimed he had sexually assaulted them. It was the second time he’d been brought in, and he was getting a little frustrated, court records show. He had repeatedly denied the crime. Finally, Demesme told the detectives:

“This is how I feel, if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog ’cause this is not what’s up.” The punctuation, arguably critical to Demesme’s use of the sobriquet “dog,” was provided by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office in a brief, and then adopted by Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton.

Demesme subsequently made admissions to the crime, prosecutors said, and was charged with aggravated rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile. He is being held in the Orleans Parish jail awaiting trial.

The public defender for Orleans Parish, Derwyn D. Bunton, took on Demesme’s case and filed a motion to suppress Demesme’s statement. In a court brief, Bunton noted that police are legally bound to stop questioning anyone who asks for a lawyer. “Under increased interrogation pressure,” Bunton wrote, “Mr. Demesme invokes his right to an attorney, stating with emotion and frustration, ‘Just give me a lawyer.’” The police did not stop their questioning, Bunton argued, “when Mr. Demesme unequivocally and unambiguously asserted his right to counsel.”

Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton

Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton

Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Kyle Daly responded in his brief that Demesme’s “reference to a lawyer did not constitute an unambiguous invocation of his right to counsel, because the defendant communicated that whether he actually wanted a lawyer was dependent on the subjective beliefs of the officers.” Daly added, “A reasonable officer under the circumstances would have understood, as [the detectives] did, that the defendant only might be invoking his right to counsel.”

Bunton’s motion to throw out Demesme’s statement was rejected by the trial court and the appeals court, so he took it to the state Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in a ruling issued last Friday and first reported by Reason, could have denied the appeal without issuing a written ruling, which it does in most cases. But Justice Crichton decided to write a brief concurrence “to spotlight the very important constitutional issue regarding the invocation of counsel during a law enforcement interview.”

Crichton noted that Louisiana case law has ruled that “if a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal . . . the cessation of questioning is not required.” Crichton then concluded: “In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a ‘lawyer dog’ does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview.”


There’s a lot of things wrong with that decision. The most obvious issue is that they didn’t actually provide him with a dog who is a lawyer, as they claim they thought he had requested. It’s probably not the wisest move to request a dog to represent you in court, but if he’s a good boy and graduated from an accredited law school, who am I to cast aspersions?

Of course, that’s kind of the biggest problem with the “logic” of this ruling. They couldn’t give him a “lawyer dog” because, outside of memes on the internets, it’s not an actual thing. At this point in history, not one single dog has ever managed to pass the bar exam. Not Lassie, not Rin Tin Tin, not Benji, not even Snoopy. Scooby Doo is way to high to even think about taking the SAT’s, let alone the LSAT’s, and don’t even get me started on Marmaduke.

If any dog could have pulled it off, it obviously would have been Brian Griffin, but he died tragically after eating chocolate out of the garbage years ago. So, he’s not available right now.

What it boils down to is, if somebody asks for legal council, as is their constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment, you shouldn’t just be able to pretend you didn’t understand them because they used some (not uncommon) slang. In fact, if for some reason they ask for a “lawyer dog,” but there aren’t any available (or willing to work pro bone-o), then you give them a lawyer human instead.

It’s hard to have a lot of faith in the U.S. Injustice System, especially after rulings like this (not to mention all the coerced confessions and false convictions they allow for). However, you would hope that some sense of common decency and shame would compel the next appeals court this goes in front of to render a proper ruling on this nonsense.

I have a suspicion this might be a big part of the reason why the State of Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.

Update: Two Years Later the TSA is STILL Keeping You Safe Five Percent of the Time

Transportation Security Administration TSA Failed 95 Percent

Once again, TSA inspectors have failed to find 95% of the mock weapons sent through checkpoints by Homeland Security agents working undercover.

Just over two years ago, in June of 2015, I posted about tests Homeland Security had run at airports across the country. In those tests, undercover agents were sent through pre-boarding checkpoints run by the Transportation Security Administration. (Video from that original post is embedded below.)

Those agents carried realistic looking weapons and explosive devices past TSA screeners in order to determine how often the “weapons” would be detected. This included replicas of pistols, knives, nunchucks, tasers, ammunition, and even defused hand grenades.

Out of 70 items that should have been stopped, TSA screeners found a grand total of three of them. As I noted, at the time that translates to a failure rate of 95%. Not exactly a number that will make you feel happy as you stand in the giant line at the security checkpoint next time you fly somewhere.

Surely they’ve addressed those issues in those 2+ years and improved dramatically, though. After all, you could seemingly stumble into a higher level of success just by randomly guessing which passengers have some sort of contraband in their luggage. Right?

Not so much, according to the Washington Times:

Undercover federal agents successfully snuck drugs and explosives past security screeners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last week, according to the local Fox affiliate.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducted the test last Thursday by sending agents disguised as ordinary passengers into the airport in order to see if screeners were up to snuff, KMSP reported.

The TSA “red team” attempted to smuggle 18 different items past airport security that should easily be detected but prevailed almost every time, the Fox affiliate reported.

“In most cases, they succeeded in getting the banned items through. 17 out of 18 tries by the undercover federal agents saw explosive materials, fake weapons or drugs pass through TSA screening undetected,” KMSP reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the operation.
In fact, it could have even been worse this time:

The security test was ultimately abandoned once the TSA’s failure rate reached 95 percent, the station reported.

So, before the Mercy Rule was invoked, the TSA screeners in Minneapolis had successfully found a weapon being smuggled onto a plane once. Which, like 2015, equates to just five percent of the time.

Basically, when you eliminate groping people; especially underage passengers, taking lewd photos of unsuspecting women, and stealing shit out of your luggage, they just aren’t very proficient at what they do. (To be fair, they do seem to be pretty good at finding spare change passengers being subjected to their ineffectual security theater leave behind.)

Truth be told, they actually couldn’t be much less useful (and would be quite a bit less annoying and exploitative) if they just slept through their shift, like the guy in the picture at the top of this post.

Minneapolis – St. Paul TSA Screeners Fail Yet Again

Successful Five Percent of the Time in 2015

Groping People to Keep You Safe Almost Never

Update: RCMP Officer Convicted of Abuse and Sexual Torture of Son Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

RCMP Child Abuse Ottawa Royal Canadian Mounted Police

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer convicted of starving, beating, and sexually abusing his son has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In December of last year, I posted about a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer who had been convicted of numerous abuse-related offenses after his son escaped from a makeshift dungeon he had created in the basement of his house. On Wednesday, that officer was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the torture he had infilcted against his son. Critics, including a group known as “Bikers Against Child Abuse,” complained that the sentence, which likely will amount to eight years at the most, was insufficient in light of the severity and nature of the crimes involved.

At the time of his arrest in 2013, that son was described as looking like “someone from a concentration camp movie.” Despite being eleven years old at the time, he weighed just 50 pounds and had scars on his body, including those consistent with someone who had been shackled at the wrists and ankles for an extended period of time. In addition to being starved, chained up, and physically abused, the child was also sexually tortured by having his genitals burned with a lighter. Ironically, the officer worked for the RCMP’s counter-terrorism unit.

After escaping from the basement where he had been confined, the officer’s son was spotted in nearby houses attempting to get water from the faucets within the yards. When one neighbor attempted to take him home, he collapsed from the effects of malnourishment. Ottawa Police Det. Johanne Marelic and other investigators described his condition when they first saw him as “unfathomable” and “difficult to comprehend.”

During court, the officer apologized for “being a monster” to his son and attributed his actions to PTSD resulting from having been abused himself. Although Justice Robert Maranger described the charges as “horrific” and the “worst kind of abuse” while stating that he didn’t believed the officer had shown any true remorse, he nonetheless indicated that he avoided giving him a much harsher sentence (prosecutors were seeking 23 years) due to the testimony from expert witnesses about his mental state and the contention that the abuse was caused by PTSD.

The officer was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault, one each of sexual assault causing bodily harm, unlawful confinement, assault and failing to provide the necessaries of life, plus several firearms offenses. In addition, the officer’s wife (and the prototypical evil stepmother of the child) was also convicted of assault with a weapon and failing to provide the necessaries of life, but received a sentence of just three years. The names of the officer and his wife have not been released publicly per a court order to avoid identifying the child who was victimized by them.

Local News Coverage

Washington Cop Sentenced to Just One Year of Probation for Sexual Assault After “Out of Control” Argument

Officer Travis Disney of the Wapato Police Department has been sentenced to “time served,” plus one year of probation for sexually assaulting a woman. (According to a different account, that woman was his wife) Disney had attacked the woman after an argument reportedly “got out of control.” He pled guilty to third degree rape after originally being charged with second degree rape and false imprisonment.

That time he supposedly served amounts to the eight and a half months he spent awaiting trial. At best, it’s a technicality. He was released without bail, but forced to wear a electronic monitoring anklet to ensure he didn’t get within 250 feet of his victim’s house. So, that means his “confinement” consisted of essentially having a restraining order filed against him and not being able to go within a short distance of her house.

Via the Yakima Herald:

Yakima County sheriff’s deputies went to the home around 9 a.m. after a 911 call was received. No one was speaking into the phone, but dispatcher reported hearing a man in the background say “Why did you call?” before the call was terminated, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

A followup call by dispatchers went to voice mail, but a short time later a man called dispatchers and told them no one there had called 911, the affidavit said.

Deputies said when they went to the house a woman told them an argument with Disney got “out of control” and that he held her down and sexually assaulted her. During the assault, the woman had scratched and bit Disney, the affidavit said.

Disney was not on duty at the time, but deputies said he used his department-issued laptop computer to see that the 911 call had gone through, and tried to use makeup to cover up his injuries.

Disney was arrested on suspicion of second-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment.

On Monday,  Superior Court Judge David Elofson and prosecutors agreed with members of the county’s pretrial release program that Disney should be released without bail.

So in reality, his only punishment will be one year of probation. However, his attorney,  Ulvar Klein, said that “he’s paying a heavy price,” by not being able to be a cop anymore (even though he has “landed on his feet again” at a new, unspecified job). It’s not clear from the article if he will be able to wear his cape anymore, but presumably now that he officially isn’t allowed to be a Police Hero they will confiscate that from him.

Update: Harris County Texas Cop Who Raped Dog on Video Also Charged With Possession of Child Porn

In an update to a story I posted two days ago, it is now being reported that, in addition to having been caught uploading a video of himself raping a dog (using a Harris County Sheriff’s Office computer), Deputy Andrew C. Sustaita Jr. has now been charged with multiple accounts of possessing child pornography.

Reportedly, over 200 images and videos of child porn, including images of at least two girls under four years old being raped, were found on Sustaita’s personal computer during the bestiality related investigation.

Via ABC13.com:

A former deputy accused of posting a video of himself performing a sex act with an animal is now charged with possession of child porn, according to the Harris County District Clerk’s Office.

Andrew C. Sustaita Jr. is a six-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, most recently assigned to the Crime Control Division.

According to charging documents, when deputies searched Sustaita’s personal laptop, they discovered more than 200 child pornographic photos and videos. At least two female victims in the photos appear to be as young as 4 years old, documents say.

Sustaita was identified as a suspect during the course of an investigation managed by the sheriff’s high tech crime unit.

The (original) video reportedly shows him involved in a sex act with a small dog.

No other details have been released.

Not surprisingly, neither his father, who is currently still employed as a HCSO deputy, nor his attorney were ready to make a statement about the allegations against Sustaita. (Because you’re pretty much never ready for that.)

Local Media Coverage of New Charges

Original Local Media Coverage

Texas Police Hero Filmed Himself Raping Dog; Posted Video Online Using HCSO Department Computer

Although details haven’t been released, Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew C. Sustaita Jr. has been arrested after he was caught “producing obscene material online.”

Sustaita was caught after HCSO investigators from the High Tech Crime Unit were contacted about someone uploading a video involving bestiality from a sheriff’s department computer.

Via ABC13.com:

The video reportedly shows him involved in a sex act with a small dog.

“The possession of obscene and illicit material is made even more troubling when a sheriff’s office employee is found to be involved,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

“Every resource of this office will be dedicated to protecting the public and holding our employees accountable for wrongdoing.”

The deputy comes from a law enforcement family, and they said they are waiting for more information.

His father says he is devastated to hear this allegation, that his son is a hard worker, and that he is reacting like any father would.

Sustaita is charged with obscenity, a state jail felony.

Before coming to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Sustaita’s LinkedIn profile said he was a U.S. Army specialist, and also worked at Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office.

A source who knows the deputy tells Eyewitness News, in his experience and knowledge, he knows him as an honorable and committed family man.

The hard working, honorable, and committed family man was actually fired and charged immediately, which might just be the most shocking part of this story. Reportedly, he could be facing additional charges, as well. He should probably update that Linkedin profile so that he’s ready to move onto another department once they offer him a plea deal for probation and some community service.

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