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HEINOUS MURDER EXTRADITION

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Magnus Daniel Humphrey (left), partially obscured by court jail bars, appeared in court Feb. 22, pleaded not guilty for the murder of aspiring actress Maleesa Mooney (left). Courtesy LA Superior Court

Minnesota man charged in torture death of aspiring LA model  

LOS ANGELES (MNS)—The Los Angeles County District Attorney today announced charges against a Minnesota man, , in the torture and killing of an aspiring Los Angeles model while staying at her downtown LA Angeles apartment last year.

Arrested for the torture and murder of Maleesa Mooney, Magnus Daniel Humphrey made his first court appearance Feb. 22, where he pleaded not guilty.

Humphrey, 41, of Hopkins, MN, was arrested on an “unrelated federal warrant” before he was extradited to LA and charged in the death of Mooney, 31, found bound and gagged inside the refrigerator of her downtown LA apartment on Sept. 12, 2023.

The medical examiner said she had suffered blunt force trauma to her head, torso and arms. Toxicology tests also found cocaine and alcohol in her system. According to LA County DA George Gascón, Humphrey was staying with Mooney in her apartment at the time of her murder.

“I extend my deepest condolences to Ms. Mooney’s family and loved ones as they cope with this unimaginable loss,” Gascón said. “Ms. Mooney opened her home to this individual with trust, but was repaid with torture and murder. The heinous disregard for Ms. Mooney’s life will not go unpunished. Justice is being sought, and he will be held accountable.”

Humphrey of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is charged in case 23CJCF00563 with one count of murder and one count of torture. The indictment alleges the murder of Mooney was intentionally committed by Humphrey and involved the infliction of torture with the meaning of Penal Code Section 190.2 (a)(18).

Humphrey pleaded not guilty at arraignment Feb. 22. A preliminary hearing is scheduled March 7 in Dept. 50 of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Humphrey was arrested on Nov. 3, 2023 in Minneapolis and was extradited to Los Angeles. He is being held without bail.

If convicted as charged, Humphrey will face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. The case is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

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Run-DMC, from left, Jason Mizell "Jam Master Jay, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels," and Joseph "Run" Simmons.

Requiem for

a 20-year

murder

Twenty Years Hence: Feds lay out case of Jam Master Jay’s ‘brazen’ killing at trial in Brooklyn

"The defendants had killed a world-famous musician

in front of people who knew him, and who they knew,"

assistant US attorney Miranda Gonzalez said in

opening arguments.

 

 

NIKA SCHOONOVER, Contributing Writer

BROOKLYN, NY (CN)—Federal prosecutors aiming to get justice for the late hip-hop legend Jam Master Jay gave opening statements at trial on Monday, 20 years after the Run-DMC member was gunned down in his Queens recording studio.

 

Jason “Jay” Mizell was shot in the head and killed on Oct. 30, 2002. According to prosecutors, the defendants Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington conspired to kill Mizell after they were cut out of a drug deal. A third man, Jay Bryant, was also charged in connection with the murder last year but will be tried separately.

“It was a brazen crime,” U.S. attorney Miranda Gonzalez told the court Monday. “The defendants had killed a world-famous musician in front of people who knew him and who they knew.”

When the Eastern District of New York indictment was filed in August of 2020, Washington was already in prison for several robberies that occurred while he was on the run from the police after the shooting. He has served jail time for crimes including heroin distribution and armed robbery.

Jordan had no criminal record when he was arrested in 2020, though prosecutors say he had been in the drug trade for years before.

During openings, prosecutors described Mizell as a pillar of the community who was betrayed by his friends.

 

“Even as Run-DMC rose to fame, you’ll hear that Jason never forgot his roots,” Gonzalez said. She added that he would lend money to friends, let people use his studio for free and allow them to sleep at his family’s house if they didn’t have anywhere to go. When Run-DMC’s profits began to wane, Mizell turned to the drug trade to make money.

Mizell often worked with Washington on these drug deals, according to Gonzalez, and had agreed to work on a particular deal with both Washington and Jordan to transport cocaine from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore. They expected to earn about $200,000 from the job. But the dealer in Baltimore refused to work with Wash- ington, who had lived in the city for several years.

“Jordan and Washington were left with nothing,” Gonzalez said.

Attorneys for Jordan and Washington said this case largely relies on memory from 20 years ago, which they say is unreliable.

“This case will be about 10 seconds, 21 years ago,” Washington's attorney Ezra Spilke said during his open statement. “The whole case revolves around a blink of an eye, a generation ago.”

Like Gonzalez, Spilke pointed to Washington's and Jordan’s longstanding friendships with Mizell. He added that Washington, who had been friends with him since childhood, was living at Mizell’s sister’s house around the time of the murder.

“If that’s the case, why bite the hand that feeds you?” Spilke said. “Why kill the one person that you can depend on?”

James Lusk, a detective who was called to the scene of Mizell’s death, was first called to the stand. When Lusk arrived at the scene, he testified, he saw Mizell on the floor. Another man, Tony Rincon, who had been shot in the leg and was curled up on the couch.

Four other witnesses were at the scene, Lusk said, including Randy Allen, Mizell’s business partner, and Mizell’s sister Lydia High, whom Lusk said was crying in the hallway when he arrived at the scene. None of them identified the gunmen immediately after the shooting.

Lusk said detectives on the scene found two shell casings near where the body was found, and two bullet holes on the radiator and wall behind where Mizell was shot.

The jury will remain anonymous. Prosecutors wrote in a filing earlier this month that there has already been evidence of witness tampering and intimidating by defendants directly and by “those acting on their behalf.”

The defendants face a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland directed the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York to not seek the death penalty.

After multiple stabbings, marked man Chauvin in stable condition

MINNEAPOLISDerek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted in the 2020 murder of George Floyd, was stabbed Friday in a federal prison in Arizona, the office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has confirmed.

The attorney general’s office, which prosecuted Chauvin in the Floyd case, said early Saturday that it was notified of the assault and told Chauvin is in stable condition.

“I am sad to hear that Derek Chauvin was the target of violence,” Ellison said, according to the statement provided to CNN. “He was duly convicted of his crimes and, like any incarcerated individual, he should be able to serve his sentence without fear of retaliation or violence.”

“An incarcerated individual” was assaulted at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson at approximately 12:30 p.m., the Bureau of Prisons said Friday.

“Responding employees initiated life-saving measures for one incarcerated individual,” and that person was transferred to a hospital for treatment, the bureau said in a release. “No employees were injured during the incident,” the release said.

The stabbing was first reported by The Associated Press and then The New York Times.

 

Chauvin was assaulted at the medium-security prison while serving two concurrent sentences in Floyd’s murder.

In April 2021, Chauvin was convicted on state charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison. Months later, Chauvin pleaded guilty to federal charges of depriving Floyd of his civil rights and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

Chauvin, who is White, knelt on Floyd’s neck and back for more than 9 minutes on May 25, 2020, after officers responded to reports suspecting Floyd used a counterfeit $20 at a Minneapolis corner store. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was handcuffed and lying face down on a street as he pleaded he couldn’t breathe.

 

Floyd’s killing sparked massive racial injustice protests across the nation and around the world over the way police treat people of color, particularly Black Americans in the US. An investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights revealed that Minneapolis and its police department engaged in “a pattern or practice of race discrimination,” according to a 2022 report.

 

Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Chauvin on his state conviction after he argued he didn’t receive a fair trial. The high court rejected Chauvin’s appeal without comment or a vote.

4th cop convicted in George Floyd killing

Tou Thao becomes the fourth, final former Minneapolis police officer convicted on state charges in the killing George Floyd

MINNEAPOLIS (PNS)Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill on April 3, found ex-police Minneapolis police officer Tuo Thao guilty of aiding and abetting manslaughter.

 

Thao is already serving a federal sentence of three-and-a-half years for violating Floyd's civil rights, and will be sentenced in the state case on Aug. 7. The other three officers at the scene on May 25, 2020Thomas LaneJ Alexander Kueng and Derek Chauvinhave all been convicted and sentenced in state and federal cases, with Chauvin serving a 22-and-a-half-year sentence for murder.

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Police mug shots of Tou Thao at during indictment proceedings.

Thao was standing off to the side, holding back bystanders on E. 38th Street and Chicago Avenue while Lane, Kueng and Chauvin were holding Floyd down on May 25, 2020. Chauvin had his knee pinned into Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes.

Cahill wrote in his 177-page decision that Thao could've acted in the situation to prevent a death from happening.

"Like the bystanders, Thao could see Floyd's life slowly ebbing away as the restraint continued. Yet Thao made a conscious decision to actively participate in Floyd's death: he held back the concerned bystanders and even prevented an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter from rendering the medical aid Floyd so desperately needed," he said.

Cahill also mentioned how Thao did not want to use a "hobble" from Lane's and Kueng's police car that "would have saved Floyd's life" if properly employed.

 

"Thao's stated reason? 'If we hobble him, the sergeant is going to have to come out' to complete paperwork for a 'use of force review' mandated by MPD policy whenever the hobble device was deployed," Cahill said.

"The short of it: Tou Thao did not want to follow the proper protocol and the work it would entail. George Floyd died as a result."

Minnesota Atty. General Keith Ellison, whose office led in the prosecution, said in a state- ment Tuesday that more change needs to follow. He mentioned the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has not yet passed in the US Senate after it was introduced in 2021 and passed in the House of Representatives.

"While we have now reached the end of the prosecution of Floyd’s murder, it is not behind us. There is much more that prosecutors, law-enforcement leaders, rank-and-file officers, elected officials, and community can do to bring about true justice in law enforcement and true trust and safety in all communities. To begin with, Congress must act: almost three years after his death, Congress has still not passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act," Ellison said. "That must change, now."

During his federal sentencing, Thao heavily quoted scripture in a 23-minute statement, claiming the case was corrupt and saying the legal process caused him "great distress," the Star Tribune reported.

In the state cases, Lane was convicted of aiding and abetting 2nd-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison; Kueng was convicted of aiding and abetting 2nd-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years. Chauvin was found guilty of 2nd-degree murder and manslaughter and sentenced to over 22 years in prison.

Minnesota, Tou, Thao, George, Floyd, Minneapolis, MN, Peter, Cahill 

Appeals Court Upholds Derek Chauvin prison conviction

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Derek Chauvin

Public News Service

BY ANDY MONSERUD, Contributing Writer

 

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN)—Minnesota’s appeals court roundly panned former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s appeal of his murder conviction Monday morning, rejecting several procedural challenges to his widely viewed trial for the murder of George Floyd.

 

Chauvin was convicted of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in April of 2021, just under a year after a video showing him kneeling on the neck and back of Floyd went viral and sparked civil unrest around the United States and the globe.

The former officer and his attorney William Mohrman of the conservative firm Mohrman, Kaardal and Erickson raised a number of issues with Chauvin’s trial, including Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill’s repeated denials of motions to change the trial’s venue, his handling of claims of juror misconduct, his exclusion of certain pieces of evidence and his crafting of jury instructions.

They found success on none of those issues at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. 

“Police officers undoubtedly have a challenging, difficult and sometimes dangerous job,” Judge Peter Reyes wrote in the conclusion of the court’s decision. “However, no one is above the law. When they commit a crime, they must be held accountable just as those individuals that they lawfully apprehend…. Chauvin crossed that line here when he used unreasonable force on Floyd.” 

Chauvin’s appeal invoked a number of issues first raised by attorney Eric Nelson during trial, notably Cahill’s repeated denials of requests for a change of venue despite substantial publicity of the case and his denial of a request for a so-called Schwartz hearing on potential juror misconduct after one juror allegedly failed to disclose participation in a 2020 march on Washington, D.C., honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in his juror questionnaire and another juror allegedly expressed concerns for her safety related to the trial’s results. 

Reyes found those arguments lacking, noting that Mohrman had alluded to, but not addressed, these issues in his briefing and that the juror’s participation in the March on Washington did not contradict his “no” answer to the question of whether he had participated in “any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after [Floyd’s death].” 

“Chauvin was given 18 peremptory strikes during the jury selection and had three remaining, which he could have used to prevent juror 52 from serving,” Reyes pointed out. “He did not do so.” Refusing a Schwartz hearing, the judge wrote, was therefore not an abuse of Cahill’s discretion. 

Reyes devoted much more space in his order to the venue question, but came to the same conclusion. Chauvin, he wrote, had not shown that pretrial publicity had created actual prejudice by the jury.

“Chauvin claims that ‘numerous news stories said Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck and Floyd could not breath.’ However, the record, including the videos, shows that Chauvin had one knee on Floyd’s back and one knee on his neck,” the ruling states. “While Chauvin identifies the extent of the publicity, he fails to analyze its content or explain why the publicity prejudiced him.” (Emphasis in original.)

The judge also paid note to Cahill’s finding that the trial would likely generate publicity no matter where and when it was held, and to his orders that jurors be anonymous and questioned individually during selection. Reyes also pointed, once again, to Chauvin’s unused peremptory challenges as a signal that he was satisfied with the selected jury. 

Chauvin also sought to challenge his third-degree murder charge, citing a decision made by the Minnesota Supreme Court during his trial in the case of another killing by a Minneapolis police officer, Mohamed Noor. The state high court overturned Noor’s third-degree murder conviction on the grounds that “depraved-mind” third-degree murder requires that a defendant’s conduct endanger more than one person, rather than being specifically directed at the murder victim.

The appeals court, however, opted out of considering Chauvin’s challenge to the third-degree murder charge, finding that Cahill’s decisions not to adjudicate the lesser-included charge or sentence Chauvin received for it were enough to warrant passing the issue over.

 

As for Chauvin’s second-degree murder conviction, the appeals court considered, and rejected, two of Chauvin’s contentions as to the nature of the charge. Mohrman argued that convicting a police officer of felony murder based on the underlying crime of third-degree assault requires strict liability, and that because officers are authorized to use force in arresting a resisting suspect, such a conviction is impossible. 

The appeals court disagreed with both of these propositions, pointing to a number of Supreme Court decisions to bolster its finding that third-degree assault requires an actor to intentionally apply force to a victim. Because Chauvin’s force was found to be unreasonable, the appeals court concluded, his conduct was also not protected by his position as a police officer. 

Chauvin is currently in federal custody, having taken a plea deal with federal prosecutors for civil rights violations related to Floyd’s death and to a prior incident in which he allegedly badly beat a restrained teenager with a flashlight. His 21-year federal sentence is being served concurrently with the 22-year sentence imposed by Cahill a few months prior. 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office prosecuted Chauvin and defended his convictions before the appeals court, issued a brief statement on the decision Monday morning.

 

“I am grateful for the decision of the Court of Appeals, and grateful we have a system where everyone, no matter how egregious their offense, is entitled to due process and fair treatment. The Court’s decision today shows once again no one is above the law — and no one is beneath it,” Ellison said in the statement.

 

“Today, my thoughts are today with the family of George Floyd and the communities that have suffered because of his death. We cannot bring Floyd back, but I hope today’s decision brings another measure of justice.”

Mohrman, meanwhile, expressed disappointment with the decision in an email Monday afternoon. While he had not yet been able to discuss the decision with Chauvin, he said, next steps for the litigation would include petitioning Minnesota's Supreme Court and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court for review, particularly on the change-of-venue issue.

NAACP condemns acquittal of

Yanez in Philando Castile death

 

MINNEAPOLISThe Minneapolis NAACP unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms condemns the acquittal of Officer Jeronimo Yanez on all charges related to his killing Philando Castile during a traffic stop.

This decision clearly illustrates the implicit bias and systemic racism that permeates our legal system. It should be unthinkable that Yanez would entirely escape accountability for his reckless and unjustified homicide, but this is what we have come to expect. This is how our system works.

This verdict cannot and will not produce justice.

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Officer Jeronimo Yanez and Philando Castile. Screenshot

 

Bias and shoddy decision-making have saturated this case from the beginning. Castile was stopped in the first place because Yanez saw his "wide-set nose," or in the words of expert witness Jeffrey Noble, "because he was a Black man." 

 

Though Castile's brake light was merely a pretext, defense attorneys repeatedly blamed Castile for his own death by saying he would still be alive if his light hadn’t been broken.

A juror who lied about sharing police advocacy posts was allowed to remain on the jury in spite of concerns expressed by prosecutors and the judge.

The defense relied on an expert witness who not only omitted crucial information on the stand, but also has an extensive track record of saying any and all police force is reasonable in numerous trials. The jury was prevented from hearing most of Yanez’s BCA interview that contradicted his crafted witness stand narrative.

In any system that values equity and justice, this should have been the most clear-cut guilty verdict possi- ble. Yanez racially profiled Castile, failed to follow protocol, panicked, and shot to kill.

Minnesota had a chance to deliver #Justice4Philando and instead Minnesota showed that Black lives, in fact, do not matter here, and that police have free rein to kill us.

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