Timelines 9/17/15

Spring Valley man convicted of setting witness on fire

A Spring Valley man was convicted on August 20 for a string of violent crimes which included a gasoline attack on an eyewitness to a retaliation against a previous victim.

Wesner Pierre, 29, of Alan Road, was convicted of third-degree arson, second-degree assault, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, all felonies. He was also convicted of fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

Pierre came to the attention of police when he attacked a man with a rock on November 3, 2014. Eight days later he was confronted by a witness while trying to set fire to the victim’s car. The witness attempted to intervene to stop the fire, but was himself doused in gasoline, sustained burns to his neck from a barbecue lighter, and was threatened by Pierre with further injury if he called police.

Sentencing for Pierre is expected to occur on October 27.

Local comedian/landscaper dies in fallen limb accident

Unique Occena, 51-years-old, a local landscaper as well as comedian known by the stage name G-Unique, died suddenly on Thursday when he was struck by a fallen tree limb.

At approximately 1:15 p.m. the Clarkstown Police Department responded to Addison Boyce Dr. in New City for a report of a man struck by a fallen tree limb. Responding patrol units found Occena in the driveway and attempted to save his life to no avail.

The investigation revealed that Mr. Occena was hired to cut down a tree and a large limb from the tree fell on him, fatally injuring him. The Clarkstown Detective Bureau and the Rockland County Medical Examiner’s Office are continuing the investigation.
Man wanted in rape of young girl in Ramapo

A 24-year-old suspect has been identified in the rape of a young girl in the Town of Ramapo and is now being sought by police.

Gilder O. Alarcon-Palma was named as a suspect in the case. Few other details were released and the age of the victim is unknown, but confirmed the incident occurred within the past two weeks.

Pictures of Alarcon-Palma were subsequently posted on the Facebook page of Ramapo’s Police Department. He has been described as Hispanic with short black hair and a chinstrap beard.

Information which could lead to the apprehension of the suspect can be given to Ramapo Police by calling (845) 357-2400.

Europeans win right to sue U.S. over data breachesEuropeans will soon have the right to sue U.S. authorities who mishandled their data and opened the way for data breaches, according to a new international cyber-security agreement.

The agreement would give Europeans and Americans whose data was used in U.S. criminal and terror investigations equal legal standing to sue for breaches. Lawsuits could legally stand in cases which include denial of access to personal data, unlawful disclosure of personal data or failure to rectify a case of mistaken identity.

In addition, the agreement will add safeguards for data transfer out of Europe. U.S. authorities will now be required to obtain permission from countries which originate the data and establish data retention limits. The agreement has yet to be approved by the U.S. Congress, which will vote on it as part of the Judicial Redress Bill, which was introduced in March.

White supremacist sentenced to death for synagogue shooting

A white supremacist convicted for the murder of three people in Overland Park, Kansas was sentenced to death by a Kanas jury on September 8.

Frazier Glenn Cross, 74, was convicted for the shooting deaths of Reat Underwood, 14, his grandfather William Corporon outside the Jewish Community Center of Kansas City. Cross also shot Terri LaManno, 53, outside a Jewish retirement home. He was also convicted for the attempted murder of three other people he tried to shoot.

According to Cross, who defended himself at the trial from a wheelchair, he believed the three victims were Jewish, though they were not. Cross remained defiant through the trial, raising a Nazi salute to the jury, ending his closing statement with “Death to the Jews,” and daring them to hand down a death penalty.

Plane catches fire on Las Vegas runway

A passenger jet caught fire on September 8 as it taxied down the runway at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport, forcing an evacuation and sending 14 people to the hospital.

The trouble began when the British Airways jet was moving down the runway and two loud booms were heard coming from the left engine. Shortly after the explosions were heard, the plane’s 159 passengers and 13 members of the flight crew were evacuated via the plane’s emergency slides.

According to witnesses on the scene, the evacuation was timely and orderly. The blaze was quickly extinguished by firefighters, who reached it in two minutes and put it out by 4 p.m.

Since then, investigators have looked at the engine for clues as to the cause of the fire. Parts of the high-pressure compressor were found on the runway and the engine’s reinforced case was found perforated, signs of a highly anomalous, uncontained failure.

EU leader proposes redistribution of 160,000 asylum seekers

The head of the European Union proposed a plan last week which would resettle about 160,000 refugees from ongoing crises in the Middle East across the European continent, wit each nation required to accept a certain number of migrants.

Jean-Claude Juncker proposed a plan which would shift refugees from Greece, Hungary, and Italy, where most have moved while seeking passage to preferred settlements in Central Europe, where jobs and social services were more accessible to migrants.

The plan would establish strong border controls to enforce immigration law and limit human smuggling, set up a permanent structure for processing legal refugees and distinguish war refugees from economic migrants, the latter of whom would be deported if they came from relatively safe countries. As part of the resettlement, 120,000 new refugee centers would be established across the continent, in addition to the 40,000 planned earlier this summer.

The plan, however, is not a guaranteed success. Central and East European nations have shown resistance to refugee quotas and even if a required unanimous vote is obtained from EU representatives, European borders have long been relaxed and enforcement will be a challenge.

Kiryas Joel annexation approved by Monroe town board

Following a heated meeting, the Monroe Town Board approved a highly controversial annexation of about 164 acres of land by the ultra-orthodox enclave of Kiryas Joel.

The Board approved the resolution amid applause from a large group of ultra-orthodox men and a larger crowd protesters who further packed the meeting, waving placards and shouting above the board members as they explained their votes. Annexation supporters framed the issue as one of religious freedom and argued Kiryas Joel’s population has outgrown its boundaries, which amount to only 1.1 square miles.

Meanwhile, critics have shown concern over potential environmental impacts from the expansion, particularly the ability of Orange County’s sewer system to handle the area’s expanding population. Annexation opponents have already announced plans to file suit to block the decision.

Ninth grader arrested for bringing homemade clock to school

A 14-year old Texas student was arrested on Monday after teachers and police had mistaken a homemade clock for a bomb.

Ahmed Mohamed, a new student at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, made the digital clock Sunday night to show his teachers on Monday. Mohamed was known among friends as an inventor, playing with electronics to construct small gadgets.

However, when Mohamed brought the clock into class, he was called to the principal’s office, questioned, arrested, and suspended for three days. Though he never maintained the device was anything but a clock and police agreed the clock was not a threat, authorities might still press charges for possession of a “hoax bomb.”

Since then, Mohamed has received a groundswell of support from fellow students and commentators on the internet, with many arguing Mohamed’s Muslim family and name was likely a factor in an investigation they criticized as biased and heavy-handed. One of Mohamed’s cousins also planned for other MacArthur students to bring clocks to school in protest.

“Foot-sniffer” arrested at Florida college

A man was arrested at Florida International University on Tuesday after a bizarre case of harassment wherein he attempted to smell a woman’s feet.

Eddy Juan, 52, matched the description of a man who was spotted crawling under a table in the university’s library to get close to the woman’s feet on August 29. A subsequent campus-wide alert was released and flyers were distributed with a picture of the man in a white shirt and a baseball cap.

Juan was taken in by police after he was identified several miles from campuss while riding a scooter. at a traffic stop. Though he tried to escape police, he eventually crashed and was apprehended.

Juan was charged with violation of sex offender registration, fleeing and eluding police, reckless driving, aggravated assault and resisting without violence.

Trial of Bowe Bergdahl to begin this week

The trial of Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier in the U.S. Army who was captured by insurgents after he wandered from his base in southeastern Afghanistan, is set to begin this week with statements from the prosecution.

Bergdahl, 29, was recovered in May 2014 after five years in captivity after a controversial prisoner exchange wherein he was traded for five high-profile Taliban officials. Since then, he has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

With the beginning of the trial, prosecutors are expected to lay out their arguments over the course of two days and recommend action by Gen. Robert B. Abrams, the senior officer overseeing the case. Bergdahl’s lawyers will later get a chance to cross-examine witnesses and present their own evidence, likely focusing on the conditions of his deployment and his state of mind at the time of his departure.

The case is politically sensitive given the strong taboo against desertion in military ranks, with many servicemen seeing Bergdahl’s departure as an irresponsible action which put his fellow soldiers at risk. Media scrutiny might also pose issues if the case leads to a court martial and comes to require a jury decision.

Local comedian/landscaper dies in fallen limb accident

Unique Occena, 51-years-old, a local landscaper as well as comedian known by the stage name G-Unique, died suddenly on Thursday when he was struck by a fallen tree limb.

At approximately 1:15 p.m. the Clarkstown Police Department responded to Addison Boyce Dr. in New City for a report of a man struck by a fallen tree limb. Responding patrol units found Occena in the driveway and attempted to save his life to no avail.

The investigation revealed that Mr. Occena was hired to cut down a tree and a large limb from the tree fell on him, fatally injuring him. The Clarkstown Detective Bureau and the Rockland County Medical Examiner’s Office are continuing the investigation.