Aug 31, 2007

Descending to murder

A sworn police officer and a confessed murderer, Charles Alan Smith has a history of failures leading up to the moment he was charged with killing his girlfriend’s husband.

The 49-year-old saw himself as the “black sheep” of his family and was struggling to become “the good guy,” according to his attorney, who is arguing Smith is different from other murderers.

To prosecutors, however, he is simply a killer, who deserves “nothing less” than a life sentence in prison -- his history is irrelevant.

Whether or not Smith’s past warrants a plea for leniency, it shows a police officer descending to murder, and a man desperate to overcome his failures the morning he -- according to his confession -- ambushed a man and shot him to death in a warehouse parking lot before the sun came up.

Read the full story, Cop who confessed to murder has history of failure, @ the Clayton News Daily. Also read The murder of Donald Ray Skinner, part 1, 2 & 3.

Aug 30, 2007

Richard Jewell, a security guard who found a bomb planted at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, was suspected and then cleared of planting the bomb himself, and who sued multiple media companies on allegations of libel, died of kidney failure, today, at the age of 44.

May he rest in peace.

Aug 27, 2007

See, living life is complicated

In the video tape, Foster sits across the table from two Clayton County Police detectives, a little before 4 a.m. He is read his Miranda rights, and declines to comment. Foster, slumped in a chair in the interrogation room, then asks the two detectives what he is being charged with. The detectives, only the back of their heads visible in the video tape, say, “Murder.”

“Can you tell me which child has passed?” Foster asks.

“The little girl,” a detective says.

Foster begins to cry.

“You OK?” one detective asks.

“No,” Foster says.

“You need a tissue or something? Huh?”

“There’s no shame in crying Robert,” the other detective says. “Not at all.”

Foster covers his face with his hands, pounds his foot on the floor, and weeps.

“Y’all going to kill me,” he says. “Y’all kill me. I don’t care.”

The one detective speaks softly, “No, we don’t kill anybody, Robert.”

In the tape, Foster says life is complicated and the two detectives agree with him.

The one detective says, “Life’s that way.”

The other detective says, “See, living life is complicated.”

The first detective says, “Mmmm hhmmm. Sure is.”

“But,” Foster says, “most people don’t kill kids. Most people don’t kill good kids.”

The three men are then silent. The two detectives look across the table at their suspect. Foster speaks quietly, “I know what my punishment should be. I’m going to request it myself: A life for a life.”

“Well,” one detective says, “that’s up for the courts to decide, not us.”

“Yeah,” the other detective says, “they decide that there.”

On the fourth floor of the Clayton County courthouse, the jury went into deliberations Saturday morning, trying to decide if Foster’s punishment should be death, life in prison without parole, or life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Read the full stories @ the Clayton News Daily:
Death penalty trial set to begin
Potential jurors questioned
Jurors hear opening statements in captial murder trial
Jury finds Foster guilty of 5-year-old's murder
Foster gets life w/o parole

Aug 22, 2007

The teen seen with a nickel-plated gun

He looked like he was 16 or 17, witnesses said. He looked Hispanic. He was wearing a white tank top and blue jean shorts. He had very short hair and he walked up behind the black Ford, crouching down and holding a silver-colored revolver in his hand, police were told.

He fired the nickel-plated gun once, and people started to scatter from the scene. The gunman got into the front seat of a car, a Honda Civic, and leaned the seat way back, like he didn’t want to be seen, according to witnesses.

Police are still looking for the teen seen with a nickel-plated gun, but detectives think they know his name and have a warrant for his arrest: Jose Carlos Mendez, a 17-year-old who is also known as “Lagrimas.”

Read Police identify suspect in parking lot shooting
@ the Clayton News Daily.

Aug 21, 2007

"So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty."
            - Jack Kerouac

What grabbed me, first, wasn’t the free-wheeling, world-exploring, enjoyment-exploding lifestyle. It was the sentences.

Kerouac writes sentences that carry you, that scream along. They run and run and catch their breath and yell at the top of their lungs. Sometimes he picks up the excitement in the voice of an excited kid, sometimes the free-stylings of a jazz performance, sometimes the open-throated roar of a plane passing by, and he writes it.

Then I picked up on the people, and they were like that too: Mad, screaming with joy, full of life and as far away from home as anyone could possibly imagine.

I read it. I got drunk on it. I wanted to write like that. I started hearing those voices, seeing those visions, screaming those Jack Kerouac screams.

Sometimes I still do.

Aug 17, 2007


He pulled the black gun from the waistband of his jeans. He pointed it at a 60-year-old gas station clerk and said, “Where’s the money at?”

Andrew Berry was sweeping the floor of the Ellenwood gas station, when the armed man spoke to him, according to Clayton County Police reports. Berry looked up at the gun and said, “I don’t know.”

The man then turned, pointing the gun at the head of the younger man, 22-year-old Surjit Sungh, the clerk who was standing next to the register. He demanded money, took what was in the till, and walked out, according to the witnesses’ statements and the security cameras.

He said, “Thank y’all very much.”

He walked out of the Fuel Center at 5635 Ga. Highway 42 at about 10 p.m., Officer J.E. Ivey reported. He held a black, semi-automatic, 9 mm gun, and $1,269 in cash, plus a $300 check made out to a Jimmy Johnson.

Read the story, Stockbridge man arrested in gas station stick-up after running gunfight, @ the Clayton News Daily.

Aug 16, 2007

Dead, he's the king

Mr. Esposito sent for an ambulance and tried to revive Elvis. Then medical staff massaged the superstar's heart as the ambuance sped from his home in Memphis, Tennssee, to the city's Baptist hospital. Elvis's personal doctor, George Nichopoulos, who was in the ambulance, kept on imploring the singer: "Come on, Presley, breate. Breathe for me."

Elvis lives on and on
The making of a post-mortem, celebrity culture
How he changed the world
How he changed fashion
30 odd facts
What if he'd never been born?
Named after the king, in Queensland
Was he a racist?
Impersonators received at Graceland
Almost Elvis
Impersonator list
Elvis week 2007
The flying elvi: Impersonators with parachutes

Aug 14, 2007

What he heard

He heard yelling, then a gunshot.

When 36-year-old Otore Jimoh woke up in his bedroom in the upstairs of 5758 Ga. Highway 85, he heard his housemate, 26-year-old Nathaniel Ikenebomeh yelling something.

He heard him say, “No. No.”

Then he heard a bullet being fired in the bedroom across the hall, and he heard footsteps running down the stairs, Jimoh told Clayton County Police.

When Jimoh called 911, at about 1 a.m. Friday morning, he was hysterical.

“The guy was so upset,” Deputy Chief Tim Robinson said, “[dispatchers] couldn’t tell what was going on and they put it out as a disturbance unknown.”

Read the story, Man shot to death in bedroom: Motive thought personal, @ the Clayton News Daily.
Book cover design.
New York Times shrinks.
Reporting with Herodotus.
The tabloid from Kalamazoo.
Is Language Poetry American?
Be your own American Gothic!
Murdock's record in U.S. media.
New York subway map designer.
The influence of Dr. Strangelove.
The 21st century newspaper blues.
Presidential candidates play the TV.
New fonts along the Interstate system.
Kapuscinsk: A mission of new literature.
The columns of Jon Carroll in San Francisco.
Chicago media deals with sources 'scandal.'
Learning to write in the weirdness of Hollywood.
Handlettered, typographic portrait of Vito Corleone
Crime author charged with murder by book-reading cop.
Derrida's last major talk, urgent and cautious, on praying atheists.
If you're happy do you know it? A graph of wealth to happiness.
Millenarian enthusiasm: How conservative evangelicals and hippies are the same and made us who we are.

Aug 12, 2007

In the making of these errors

Watching the Sparta-opera "300" for a brief minute -- the oracle danced in smoke while I tied my shoes -- I thought the question of accuracy/athenticity should only be interesting to historians. Or classicists. Or long wandering and homesick Spartans and Persians who want to be represented accuarately and fairly.
            What's interesting to me, what's a question I would like to see answered, is why the errors are those errors. What was being pulled out, played with, over and under emphasized, thematized, or ideologically warpped, in the making of these errors. Why was it done this way. And how are these errors compared to the errors of similar works.
            Of course it's anachronistic. But what does that anachronism mean?

My journalism advisor wanted me to call her back. He was reviewing my story because he was supposed to, but also because it was one of those inter-official, future-shape-of-the-place fights he was very interested in. He read what I quoted her as saying, four or five paragraphs in the middle of the story, and pointed out she was wrong.
            I know, I said.
            He pointed out there were holes in her argument. How does she get from here to here? She jumps. He wanted me to call her back, challenge the gaps in her thinking, and demand a better argument.
            I didn't call her back. That was her argument, I'd heard it out and presented it and there it was, and I was doing the reporting, not the arguing. If the argument was going to fall apart -- or, more important, if it was going to succeed -- it was important to put it down just like it was, so it could be looked at, so the question could be asked: Why are these errors being made? The accuracy of her analysis had these gapping holes, yeah, but the holes deserved to be looked at, and it was my job to present the argument as it was, not counter it or strengthen it.
            Why was it thought out this poorly? Why are there these ugly errors? How do these errors compare to previous errors? What does this thinking mean?

It's not that errors are unimportant, but the fact something's wrong may be less important, less insightful and the least interesting point possible.

Aug 10, 2007

Reporting on reporting on my reporting

[The suspended chief deputy] told the investigator that the first he heard about the overtime pay concerns or the allegations he had lied to the sheriff was when he received a phone call from a Clayton News Daily reporter.

“I had no idea what was going on,” Cassells told the investigator. “I received a call from one of the reporters and he said, ‘Hey, is thing going on between you and the sheriff, what, you know, how you feel it’s going to turn out?’ And I was like, ‘What thing?’ And he said, ‘Well, the sheriff says you, that you lied to him or something.’ And I said, ‘No, I didn’t lie to the sheriff and, you know, when this thing ends up, all this will be cleared up.’”

Read Suspended sheriff's deputy plans to fight firing @ the Clayton News Daily

Aug 6, 2007

Public defender interns

Jacobi Hollingshed unlocked the office door Friday morning. The sun was edging up in the July sky and the young man in a thin, black tie pushed open the wooden door to the law offices. He stepped inside and turned on the lights.

It was one of the last mornings of the summer for the Riverdale High School junior. He spent it making copies for a lawyer and keeping files organized at the Clayton County Circuit Public Defender’s Office on North McDonough Street in Jonesboro.

“A lot of times, in the office, people are running around, saying, ‘I have this bond hearing to go to,’ and things like that,” Hollingshed said. “So I think it’s very important to stay organized. Imperative."

Read the full story @ the Clayton News Daily.