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Author Topic: Reality of the street...interface with the law  (Read 4643 times)
SB_Mig
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« on: August 25, 2005, 04:38:45 PM »

All of this over a long wait in line...

'Excusable Homicide' in McDonald's Parking Lot

Florida Prosecutors Say They Have No Legal Basis to Charge Man With Murder

Aug. 24, 2005 ? Florida prosecutors say they will not try the man who choked another man to death during a fight in a McDonald's parking lot.

The April 24, 2005, fight between Martin Robless-Taylor and Anthony Makowski, who died from strangulation, was caught on tape by a security camera in the Pasco County McDonald's parking lot. Because the tape shows Makowski to be the aggressor, the Florida State Attorney's office on Monday ruled the death an "excusable homicide."

A homicide is excusable when it is committed by accident in the course of doing any lawful act by lawful means or by accident in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation or upon a sudden combat without any dangerous weapon being used and not being done in a cruel or unusual manner.

"We enhanced the tape and the young man always doing the beating is the one who died," the Florida State Attorney's Office said. "It's self-explanatory."

Makowski's grief-stricken parents, Wayne and Cathy Makowski, are calling the lack of investigation a cover-up.

"It's not a fair investigation and this is extreme injustice," Cathy Makowski told "Good Morning America" today.

Prosecutors say the videotape shows Makowski charging Robless-Taylor, then battering and body-slamming him. When 21-year-old Makowski, 6-foot-4, 271 pounds, jumped on top of Robless-Taylor, an Army-trained 25-year-old, Robless-Taylor put him into a choke hold.
Witnesses said the choke hold lasted from two to three minutes.

Police said Makowski was unresponsive when they arrived at 4:41 a.m., but was moaning and breathing. Moments later, as paramedics showed up, police said Makowski stopped breathing and paramedics began CPR.

Alcohol may have fueled the brawl. Makowski's blood-alcohol level was 0.14, according to a sheriff's report. The attorney's office said all four men involved in the altercation had been drinking.

The fight began when Makowski was in a car behind Robless-Taylor, at the McDonald's drive-through, said Bruce Bartlett of the Florida's State Attorney's Office.

"Mr. Makowski became agitated when it took longer, and he started to blow the horn although they were waiting for the McDonald's people," Bartlett said. "Words exchanged, and ultimately the victim's car pulled over and Martin Robless-Taylor walked toward the victim and the victim started to hit him on his face and continued to strike."


http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=1064137&page=1
« Last Edit: December 11, 2006, 07:54:03 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2006, 07:53:37 AM »

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BTT/is_165_27/ai_105698451/pg_1
Wrong weapon: the Der/Kifer incident - The Ayoob Files
American Handgunner,  Sept-Oct, 2003  by Massad Ayoob
Situation: The intruder snarls, "I'm going to kill you." Believing you and your partner are going to be shot, you perform the indicated response. Next thing you know, you're on trial for Murder.

Lesson: It's the reasonable perception that counts. Conceal nothing from your attorney, understand the law, and know "the truth will set you free."

June 30, 2001, about 9:30 PM. The big, dilapidated building at 1301 North Wolfe Street in East Baltimore is surrounded by urban blight. Heroin syringes and beer bottles alike litter the filthy alley alongside the building, and even the sidewalk in front. The building is owned by Lum Der, a Chinese immigrant who followed the American Dream and found it with hard work. The top half of the structure houses Lum's wholesale restaurant supply business. The bottom half is occupied by Abacus Refinishing, a partnership that has been run for the last six years by Lum's son Kenny and his partner, Darrell Kifer, both 35.

The place has been haunted by repeated burglaries, sometimes daily. There's been one just today. Someone smashed through a bricked-up second floor window and took a pile of restaurant supplies. Darrell and Kenny had to spend the afternoon repairing the giant hole in the wall. Now, delayed by that and working late, they're finally finishing their project of the day; repairing a huge wooden bar top from a local tavern. Lights are on downstairs. Industrial fans are blowing to clear glue and varnish fumes and also to dissipate the brutal summer heat. It's obvious to anyone outside that the building is occupied.

They both hear a crash from upstairs.
With a sigh, work is set aside. Perhaps something just fell over, but they have to check. Because of the recent burglaries, and because this is a neighborhood where there have been murders, each brings a gun to work. Kenny is one of the relatively few citizens in Baltimore licensed to carry concealed, and he is wearing a Heckler and Koch US? Compact .45 auto, in a nylon holster on his right hip, with a spare magazine in front of the scabbard. Darrell retrieves the Mossberg 500 shotgun he brings to work daily in a case and keeps loaded there, with eight shells in the full-length magazine under its 20" barrel and a ninth in the firing chamber. All nine are Winchester Low Recoil CO buckshot. Kenny's pistol is also fully loaded with nine rounds, all Cor-Bon 185 grain +P JHP. They don't really think they're going to find an intruder; they never have before. They're just checking for peace of mind. As they go up the narrow staircase that leads to the second floor, Kenny's pistol is still holstered and Darrell's sho tgun is casually down at his side.

They reach the top of the stairs where the second floor warehouse spreads out in front of them in disarray It is dimly lit with only the left bank of lights turned on; the staircase brings them up facing the darkened right side. In front of them, a slender, dark-clad figure rises from a hunkered-down position, its back toward them. They are about 35 feet apart.

Kenny shouts, "Hey!"

The figure faces them, and the intruder says, "I'm gonna kill you motherf***ers!"

They see he is holding something, a dark object, down by his left side in his left hand. Now, he brings it up toward them. There is only one thing to do, and both men do it simultaneously.

Kenny Der draws his pistol, going to the two-handed stance he has always practiced at the shooting range, though he has never fired this particular handgun since he purchased it. This USP is a Variant One, traditional double action, carried hammer down and off safe. Kenny cracks off the first shot double action then fires another as he realizes that he is exposed to the gunman, and begins to drop to kneeling to reduce his target profile. Beside him, Darrell hastily triggers a single un-aimed shotgun blast and runs sideways to his left to get out of the intruder's line of fire.

This puts Darrell, with the 12-gauge, to the antagonist's right and about 25 feet from him. A southpaw, Darrell raises the gun to his left shoulder and pulls the trigger. Nothing. He has forgotten to pump. He racks the action and bam-bam-bam, fires three shots as fast as he can work the slide and trigger. He sees the figure spin and fall, and stops pumping and shooting. Meanwhile, Kenny has kept up a drumbeat of fire with his pistol and gone to slide-lock. He, too, sees the man go down.

Darrell feels a desperate urge to be out of there and sprints back toward the stairs, bumping Kenny as he goes. Kenny reloads, tucking the empty magazine reflexively back in its pouch, and cautiously moves forward keeping his HK trained on the downed figure. He gets a couple of yards away and sees that the man is motionless, looking like a pile of bloody rags, face down. The fallen assailant's left hand is behind him, palm up in what reminds him of a swimmer's stroke. And, near that hand is his weapon.

Oh, God. It's not a gun after all. It's a black steel hammer, just like the ones they use in the shop.

=======

Kenny Der turns and follows Darrell Kifer. He gets on the cell phone and immediately dials 911.

The Investigation

Paramedics arrive first. Elements of Baltimore PD's famous homicide unit arrive some 25 minutes after the shooting. By now, of course, all lights have been turned on so rescue personnel can work on the wounded man and so the first responding patrol officers can clear the building of any other burglary suspects, none of which are found. Tygon Walker, age 37, is pronounced dead of multiple gunshot wounds at the scene. The businessmen tell the cops what happened.

Their guns are taken as evidence. Der has fired all nine rounds that were initially in his pistol and did not fire after reloading. When Kifer's shotgun is unloaded, five live rounds are remaining in the magazine and the last spent shell fired is recovered from the chamber. Three spent 12-gauge hulls and nine spent .45 ACP casings are recovered from positions consistent with where the men tell the detectives they were when they fired. No arrests are made.

Both armed citizens go home shaken. Der finds himself sitting up late, with his other pistol at hand, a Para-Ordnance P13.45. Felons in East Baltimore tend to run in packs and he is desperately afraid of gang retaliation for the shooting. Kifer is likewise distraught; paramedics have had to administer oxygen to him at the death scene.


A police record check shows Tygon Walker to be a career criminal with numerous convictions for burglary and assault. Autopsy shows that six of the nine .45 slugs have struck him, five remaining in the body and that there are numerous buckshot holes of entry and exit in the corpse, with 13 of the .33 caliber lead balls lodged in the cadaver. Many of the wound tracks, and all of the potentially lethal ones, have entered from behind the lateral midline. Extensive needle tracks are also present on both arms.

A toxicology screen shows that at time of death, Walker had 510 micrograms per liter of free morphine in his bloodstream, and 0.21% blood alcohol content. This means that he was more than 2.5 times legally drunk (a standard of 0.08%), and the pathologist who did the autopsy will later tell the Grand Jury how massive the amount of heroin he had on board. Heroin addicts found dead from overdose, he will testify, are often found with only one or two hundred micrograms per liter in their blood.

Five days after the shooting, both men report to the police department to be interviewed in detail, accompanied by legal counsel. Darrell Kifer's interview goes uneventfully. At one point in Der's interrogation, he is asked whether he went up to the body and replies in the negative. After the interview he discusses this with his lawyer, David B. Irwin, and tells him about going up a couple of steps away from the corpse and seeing the hammer. Irwin has him immediately sit down with the lead investigator and explain that. Questioning turns intensively to whether or not he planted the hammer in the suspect's dead hand.

=====

Five months later, the Baltimore City Grand Jury will return a true bill of indictment charging both Der and Kifer with Murder in the First Degree.

The Trial

The attorneys arrayed against one another in State of Maryland v. Kenny Der and Darrell Kifer were all famous for their courtroom skill, representing a virtual duel of the titans. Mark Cohen, chief prosecutor under district attorney Patricia Jessamy, argued the case personally. Widely considered the best prosecutor in an office of some 200 experienced criminal trial attorneys and one of the best in the country, Cohen had recently prosecuted a young Baltimore man for shooting a priest he claimed had sexually assaulted him. The priest "took the Fifth" on the witness stand and the jury acquitted the man who shot him.

Der was represented by Dave Irwin and Joe Murtha, who became nationally famous for their skillful representation of Linda Tripp during the Monica Lewinsky affair. Kifer's lawyer was Leslie Stein, a well-known local criminal defense specialist.


Trier of the facts was Judge John Glynn. Both sides had agreed to a bench trial, in which there would be no jury and the judge would determine the facts as well as the applicable law. Trial began on Friday, January 17, 2003, in Baltimore Circuit Court, just before the MLK Day holiday weekend. In his opening statement, prosecutor Cohen said it was Murder One because the two defendants had lain in wait to ambush and kill, and because they shot Walker multiple times and in the back. Because they had not retreated as Maryland law required them to do, and because the pistol had been loaded with hollow point bullets. He also implied that the defendants had planted the hammer in Tygon Walker's dead hand. Testimony began with the lead detective, Bob Cherry, describing the scene as he arrived, starting the audiotape of the defendants' interviews.

On Day Two, the judge allowed the defense's only expert witness, me, to testify out of sequence because dates had conflicted with another murder trial on the opposite coast. I explained and demonstrated with still photos and video how even in brighter light than what the defendants had to work with, at the distance of 35 feet, the black steel hammer (16" long, weighing just under 3 pounds) was, when held by its head, almost indistinguishable from a long barreled, blue steel revolver. I used as exemplars an 8 3/8" barrel S&W .44 Magnum (12" overall, just over 3 pounds) and a 10" Dan Wesson .357 (14" long, just over 3 pounds). The judge was shown how a right-handed man might pick up such a hammer with his left hand to feed it to his right hand in a striking posture, exactly mimicking a "man with a gun" appearance.

In states such as Maryland that have a retreat requirement in their self-defense law, retreat is only demanded when it can be done so with complete safety to oneself and others. I explained if the men had turned and ran toward the stairs, they would have been helpless and could have easily been shot in the back, supporting this contention with videotape of firing the .44 with live ammo at 35', recorded by a PACT timer. Two men could not have gotten down the stairs in time, and then found the keys to open the double dead-bolt lock that led into the street where the prosecution said they should have fled. They would likely have been murdered while attempting to do so.

==========



Using a videotape on this issue I had done previously for the American Bar Association and the American Law Institute (1), it was demonstrated the human body can turn 180 degrees in only a fraction of a second. This was supplemented by a video we had done the previous August at the Continental range in Maryland, with the defendants using exemplar weapons. Der had acted out his nine-shot firing sequence a couple of times, each at about 3.5 seconds. Kifer had been able to fire a three-shot sequence from a 12-gauge Mossberg pump in 0.94 of one second. This was absolutely consistent with the time it takes a human body to spin away from danger to it, and with the buckshot pattern entry wounds found on Tygon Walker. I had timed, at the death scene, how long it took Kifer to sprint from his first firing position to his second. In total, from first round to last, the thirteen shots had probably been fired in no more than five seconds.

An Ability Factor




I was also able to explain why the state's pathologist had listed as two shotgun blasts fired into the body was actually only one. The wound pattern on Walker's left arm was identical to the buckshot pattern in his left lower back. Six of the nine pellets in a single blast had torn into the forearm and five had gone through, re-entering the torso amidst the three pellets that had missed the arm.

Finally, it was explained that under contemporary training standards, the hand movement of Walker and the black object in his hand, which both defendants described to police, created an "Ability factor," the reasonable and prudent belief that Walker possessed the power to kill. Being within easy range of the long barreled black revolver the hammer so closely resembled, "Opportunity factor" was fulfilled: their antagonist could be reasonably believed to be capable of killing them both immediately. Finally, the statement "I'm gonna kill you MFs" clearly created "Jeopardy factor," the reasonable and prudent belief the opponent's intent was to kill or cripple them. Ability, Opportunity and Jeopardy came together to create a situation of immediate, otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm to them which, under the Maryland law, absolutely justified their use of lethal force against Tygon Walker.

The prosecution picked up the ball again in the waning hours of day two and all of day three. Lead investigator Bob Cherry returned to the stand. On cross-examination -- respectful from Irwin, brutal from Stein, like "good cop/bad cop" -- Detective Cherry proved to be an honest man as well as a skillful investigator. He allowed he had never seen a homicide case like this one where the shooters were so forthcoming with information, and still charged with murder. The only new evidence beyond the statements of Kifer and Der that had developed in the five months between interrogation and Grand Jury, Cherry testified, was a statement from the dead man's mother that he was right handed. Of course, the two defendants could not have known that, and there were any number of reasons why Tygon Walker might have picked up the hammer with his non-dominant hand. Needle tracks on both arms indicated that he was ambidextrous enough to inject a heroin syringe with either hand. The state's final witness, a medical examiner who had not done the actual autopsy, admitted the angle of wounds was consistent with a rapidly turning man and with the defendants' accounts of the events. The prosecution closed.

======

Der and Kifer took the stand on day four, confirming what they had told detectives back when the shooting happened. Der explained that he hadn't mentioned approaching the body at first for fear of being falsely accused of planting the hammer, which he believed had been stolen by the deceased in a previous burglary. (Asphalt embedded on that hammer showed it had been used to pound the outside wall: it had entered the scene from the outside in, almost certainly carried there by the burglar himself.)

Both sides offered impassioned closing arguments, having called only three people apiece to testify before closing their cases. Judge Glynn did not need to waste time with further deliberation. At 3:45 PM on Thursday, January 23, day four of the trial, the judge ruled both defendants Not Guilty on all counts. An ordeal that had lasted for 18 months was over at last.

Lessons


Tell everything to your attorney before you and he sit down with the investigators to go over the details. If Der had done so, there would not have been the perception that "he lied to us about approaching the body, so he or his partner must have planted the hammer as a throw-down." This had a great deal to do with the decision to bring the case forward.

Many of the defendants' supporters believe the race card was at work here. Within a close time frame to this shooting, an African-American businessman in Baltimore shot and killed an African-American burglar under very similar circumstances, and the DA's office ruled the homicide justifiable. Der, American-born and of Chinese descent, and Kifer, a Caucasian, had killed an African-American. Some believe this created political momentum to bring murder charges in spite of the facts and the law, particularly during a time when the district attorney was coming up for re-election in Baltimore. I can't confirm or deny whether this is true. But, as with the trial of the four NYPD officers who fired 41 shots at Amadou Diallo and were acquitted of all charges at trial, this case shows that if you did the right thing based on reasonable perception and acted within the law, justice should ultimately prevail over "the race card." It did this time.

Be Skillful

Go ahead and carry hollow points. It's the safest ammo for all concerned, and has been proven to stop fights quicker. When the other side falsely accuses malicious intent in selecting this ammo, you and your expert witnesses will be able to shoot that allegation down as effectively as we did in this case.

Aim, don't just point. Kifer's first shotgun blast, hastily triggered without a visual index, missed entirely. Of Der's first point-fired shots, all missed their target except for a ricochet that struck Walker in the front of one shin. When Kifer triggered his last three shots in a sub-one second volley, the gun was at his shoulder and his eye could see the muzzle was on target; all three blasts inflicted dynamic, stopping hits. Der point-shot every round, and by the time he was dialed in and hitting, his .45 slugs still struck peripherally and by themselves quite possibly would not have brought Walker down. Had each man taken a fraction of a second to aim at the beginning, one or two +P .45 bullets and a shotgun blast entering from the front would very likely have dropped the antagonist. This would have prevented allegations of malice and murder based on "too many shots" and "shots in the back."

==========

I want to thank the many contributors to the defense fund that financed the successful advocacy for Der and Kifer. They all helped to do justice.

(1) "Use of Lethal Force in Self Defense: What Prosecutors, Defenders and Policy-Makers Should Know," American Law Institute/American Bar Association, 2001, $166 postpaid from Police Bookshelf PO Box 122, Concord, NH 03302.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2009, 02:19:00 PM »

http://www.lasvegasnow.com/global/story.asp?s=10167052

Pawn shop owner shoots unarmed thief, charged with murder
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foxmarten
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2009, 02:15:48 PM »

At least this yahoo didn't miss the perp and kill some kid downrange.
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When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
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« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2009, 08:17:27 AM »

Ritualized Combat:


Ritualized Combat was termed by a police trainer by the name of Roland Ouellette. Basically, these "body language signs" are rituals that the human body will, in most cases, go through just prior, during, and after a physical confrontation ( not so different from the animal kingdom). These signs are important, why?, because they are really good warning signals to let you know what your potential attacker may be contemplating, even though he may not be “verbally” communicating this fact to you. Ritualized Combative signs have been both scientifically and empirically researched in such fields as “Human Performance” and “Neuro Linguistic Psychology.” Here in Canada, I have used “Ritualized Combative Signs” successfully in the Courts during expert testimony in Self-Defense cases. I also possess hundreds of hours of videotape of actual street fights, and when reviewed both in real time and in slow motion, everyone of the Ritualized Combative signs that I share in my articles and training, are seen prior, during, and after these fights. This is why I believe that all in the self-protection field should know about “Ritualized Combat”. So what are these signs?


Assault Not Imminent But Possible:

- Head, neck, shoulders go back (person making themselves look bigger)
- Face is red, twitching, jerking
- Lips pushed forward bearing teeth (you see the same things in dogs before attack)
- Breathing is fast and shallow (oxygenating the body preparing for fight, flight, hyper vigilance)
- Beads of sweat appear about the face/neck
- Thousand mile glare
- Exaggerated movements
- Finger pointing/ head pecking
- Totally ignores you
- Gives you excessive attention during normal conversation such as direct uninterrupted eye contact
- Goes from totally un-cooperative to totally cooperative ( people do not go from hot to cold they de-escalate over time)
- Acts stoned or drunk
- Directs anger towards other inanimate items such as tables, chairs, walls



If you find yourself confronted by a subject presenting these signs, awareness/self protection strategies should go up, and distance should be created. Your body language should be assertive but not threatening and don’t be afraid to allow the person to vent verbally.


Assault Is Imminent:


- face goes from red to white ( during a physical confrontation the blood will leave the surface of the body and pool to the big muscles and internal organs of the body needed for survival) In my job as a police officer I see this all the time and when I do one of two things are going to happen, the suspect is either going to fight or run
- Lips tighten over teeth
- Breathing is fast and deep
- Change of stance, their body blades and shoulder drops
- Hands closed into a fist (not uncommon to see the whites of knuckles due to hands being so tight)
- Bobbing up and down or rocking back and forth on feet (this is the bodies way to hide/ mask the initial movement of a first strike)
- Target glace (here you will see your opponent look to where he is going to hit, or where he is going to run/escape)
- Putting head and shin down (body wants to protect the airway, this action does so to a degree)
- Eye brows brought forward into a frown( again the body wants to naturally protect the visual system, this action does so to a degree)
- Stops all movements/ freezes in place
- Dropping center or lowering of body (no different that a cat or dog getting ready to pounce)
- Shedding cloths ( very common, you will see your attacker take his hat, coat, shirt, or bag off just prior to the assault)
- One syllable replies ( go from full sentences to one syllable replies….. reptilian brain is clicking in)


In this group of signs, you have about 1-1.5 seconds to act before your attacker either attacks or runs. If walking and talking your way out is inappropriate or unreasonable, then I teach “First Strike” philosophy, and continue on with a compound attack until your attacker is no longer a risk.


In both the Assault not Imminent and Assault Imminent phases, I do teach my students ( in some situations) to bring to the attention of the attacker what they are seeing why:

1) The attacker may not know what they are doing. A lot of these signs are autonomic in nature, meaning they happen without conscious thought.
2) The bigger reason, I believe, is for this purpose; most attackers will only attack you when they believe that they have the element of surprise. By sharing with them what you see, you take this primary tactic away from them.

IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU SHOULD NOT LET THE PERSON KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SEEING, THUS USING THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!!!!!!!!!!


If you have been able to deescalate the situation you have found yourself in, non-verbally, verbally or physically, also look for these Ritualized Combat signs that are good indicators to let you know that your opponent is no longer thinking about fighting:


Signs Of Submission:

- Putting hands up in front of body with palms facing out…. ( universal sign for stop stay back)
- Face returns to normal skin tone and color
- shaking hand. (almost as if the person has Alzheimer’s disease…. This shaking can be slight to extreme ….. bodies natural way to burn out the adrenalin, nor-adrenalin, epinephrine that it dumped into the body for fight, flight, hypervigilance but was not used)
- turning of back with their hands covering their head ( ensure you can see their hands if not create distance NOW)
- backing off
- bowing of head and lowering of eyes
- verbal tone, volume, rate, slows back to normal / full sentences once again
- falling to the ground almost in a fetal position
- grooming gestures ( this one is weird but you will see it time and time again… person will adjust their clothing, play with their hair/mustache/beard, pick lint of their body….. you see this in cat and dogs after they fight and then groom themselves)


In all of the above noted signs, don’t just look for one, but rather clusters of two or more. If you see one and know what to look for, you will see others guaranteed. As a police officer who has been involved in many physical encounters, I can share with you and others that “Ritualized Combat” is a tool that you can use to your advantage. Many of my students , who are not police officers, who have found themselves in ‘situations” have also echoed the tactical benefit of such knowledge. One should also remember that a skilled attacker “may” be able to mask some of these signs, so never drop you guard and fall into a false sense of confidence !!!!!! Also remember that if the voice and body don’t match, always believe the body because the voice can LIE !!!!!! If your attacker is verbalizing the fact that he doesn’t want to fight, but yet he is showing Ritualized Combative signs that show otherwise, he’s a LLPOF ( liar, liar pants on fire)


Some people who don’t know about Ritualized Combat, call it “gut instinct/intuition” They are right !!!!!! The reason it is a “gut instinct/intuition” rather than a known empirical thing, is because no one has explained to them what “Ritualized Combat” is. What is happening in the “gut/ instinct” group, is that their “sub-conscious/reptilian brain” is picking up on these signs (rather than the conscious critical mind), thus turning on the warning bells. Some listen (the more experience), but most do not. Why can I say this, I am also a certified hypnotherapist and working towards my masters in Neuro Linguistic Psychology.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2009, 12:17:09 PM »

Apparently my pasting missed giving the author's name.  embarassed  It is Darren Laur. 

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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2011, 12:10:40 PM »

What Did They Really See?Published: August 26, 2011
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LinkedinDiggMySpacePermalink. In a landmark decision this week, the New Jersey Supreme Court set new guidelines for how courts and juries must assess eyewitness identification of criminal suspects. The laudable decision applies only in New Jersey but could have a national impact. It provides a thorough, science-based explanation of how eyewitness evidence can become tainted and offers a judicious template for the United States Supreme Court and other states to follow.

Related in News
In New Jersey, Rules Are Changed on Witness IDs (August 25, 2011) Eyewitness identification has been a subject of hundreds of studies over the last three decades, showing that memory and perception can be highly unreliable. Of the 273 people freed from prison with DNA evidence by The Innocence Project in cases reshaping this area of law, three out of four were convicted with false identifications.

In a unanimous opinion, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner noted that misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions across the country. He wrote: “The changes outlined in this decision are significant because eyewitness identifications bear directly on guilt or innocence. At stake is the very integrity of the criminal justice system and the courts’ ability to conduct fair trials.”

Under the new guidelines, a trial judge must hold a hearing to consider a wide range of factors if the defendant presents evidence that the identification was unfairly suggestive. Some factors relate to the witness, some to the culprit, others to the event — like the amount of time the witness observed what occurred, whether the witness and suspect were of different races, how light or dim the scene was. Other critical factors deal with the identification process, like how the police lineup was set up.

As before, eyewitness evidence would not be admissible at trial if the court found that, given “the totality of the circumstances,” there was “a substantial likelihood of misidentification.” However, if the judge decides to admit disputed eyewitness evidence, he or she must now instruct jurors on the factors that might affect its reliability.

The New Jersey decision puts aside an approach to eyewitness evidence established in 1977 by the United States Supreme Court and still followed by all other states. That approach, Chief Justice Rabner said, overstates “the jury’s innate ability to evaluate eyewitness testimony.”

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a major case about eyewitness identification in November, the first on this issue since that 1977 decision. The Roberts court should pay close attention to the well-grounded decision reached by the Rabner court in New Jersey.

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Cranewings
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2011, 06:36:29 PM »

Apparently my pasting missed giving the author's name.  embarassed  It is Darren Laur. 



Thank you for posting this sir. I've been trying to remember all the items you brought up at your seminar. This is really great information.
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2011, 07:20:11 PM »

What Did They Really See?Published: August 26, 2011
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LinkedinDiggMySpacePermalink. In a landmark decision this week, the New Jersey Supreme Court set new guidelines for how courts and juries must assess eyewitness identification of criminal suspects. The laudable decision applies only in New Jersey but could have a national impact. It provides a thorough, science-based explanation of how eyewitness evidence can become tainted and offers a judicious template for the United States Supreme Court and other states to follow.

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In New Jersey, Rules Are Changed on Witness IDs (August 25, 2011) Eyewitness identification has been a subject of hundreds of studies over the last three decades, showing that memory and perception can be highly unreliable. Of the 273 people freed from prison with DNA evidence by The Innocence Project in cases reshaping this area of law, three out of four were convicted with false identifications.

In a unanimous opinion, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner noted that misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions across the country. He wrote: “The changes outlined in this decision are significant because eyewitness identifications bear directly on guilt or innocence. At stake is the very integrity of the criminal justice system and the courts’ ability to conduct fair trials.”

Under the new guidelines, a trial judge must hold a hearing to consider a wide range of factors if the defendant presents evidence that the identification was unfairly suggestive. Some factors relate to the witness, some to the culprit, others to the event — like the amount of time the witness observed what occurred, whether the witness and suspect were of different races, how light or dim the scene was. Other critical factors deal with the identification process, like how the police lineup was set up.

As before, eyewitness evidence would not be admissible at trial if the court found that, given “the totality of the circumstances,” there was “a substantial likelihood of misidentification.” However, if the judge decides to admit disputed eyewitness evidence, he or she must now instruct jurors on the factors that might affect its reliability.

The New Jersey decision puts aside an approach to eyewitness evidence established in 1977 by the United States Supreme Court and still followed by all other states. That approach, Chief Justice Rabner said, overstates “the jury’s innate ability to evaluate eyewitness testimony.”

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a major case about eyewitness identification in November, the first on this issue since that 1977 decision. The Roberts court should pay close attention to the well-grounded decision reached by the Rabner court in New Jersey.



This looks like a good ruling at first glance. Eyewitness testimony is much more problematic than commonly recognized.
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