Convicted killer missing after accidental release
A manhunt has been initiated in Louisiana this week after a man convicted of manslaughter was mistakenly released early.
Benjuiel Johnson was serving a 40 year sentence for manslaughter and weapons charges when he was transferred to a separate jurisdiction to face separate charges. However, upon his arrival, a clerical error led prison officials to overlook his rap sheet and grant an early release.
Johnson pled guilty to manslaughter in the 2010 shooting death of Cordies Gales, 31, in 2013. At the time of his conviction, he was already incarcerated for three prior felony offenses. According to Louisiana Department of Corrections Spokeswoman Pam Laborde, the victim’s family had been contacted and the official responsible for the blunder will be disciplined.
Papal spokesman mum on details of Kim Davis visit
In an unusual turn for a papacy known for its liberal stance on social issues, a Papal spokesman confirmed on Wednesdaythat Pope Francis met with Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who was thrust into the spotlight after she was arrested for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
According to Rev. Manuel Dorantes, the meeting did take place but was not publicized to ensure it did not become the media focus of Francis’ U.S. visit. The Vatican did not give any further details to the meeting, but the Liberty Counsel, the nonprofit legal advocates representing Davis, announced in its own release that Francis discussed the topic of “bravery” with Davis and gave her and her husband rosaries personally blessed by himself as gifts.
Francis has been well-received by social liberals due to his relatively tolerant approach to LGBT issues, famously remarking “Who am I to judge?” when asked about homosexuality in 2013. At the same time, he made veiled suggestions during his visit to greater support of American bishops’ efforts to defend religious liberties and explained to an ABC reporter during his flight back to Rome that he broadly supports conscientious objection.
Russia initiates airstrikes against ISIS in Syria
Russia began a new, aggressive military approach in Syria on Wednesday, initiating airstrikes against Islamic State strongholds in defiance of U.S. diplomatic directives.
The airstrikes, undertaken following a surprise parliamentary vote granting President Vladimir Putin the right to use military force in the war-torn country, hit targets in three provinces near the city of Homs. Russia, a strategic ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with several military installations in the Middle Eastern nation, has been aiming to bolster efforts by Syrian forces to repel secular and Islamist rebels.
Putin’s actions have added a new dimension to a complex situation wherein the U.S. has demanded Assad step down in response to violent crackdowns and war crimes initiated against Syrians, even as it leads a coalition of countries in airstrikes to push back ISIS. In addition, a Russian general has requested coalition forces to clear the airspace where Russian planes were operating to prevent mishaps.
Secretary of State John Kerry has already told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov the new round of airstrikes was “not helpful” and insisted upon immediate “deconfliction” talks to ensure American and Russian operations do not result in accidental mishaps. Kerry added the Russian airstrikes would not interfere with or prevent the U.S.-led coalition from undertaking its own offensives against ISIS.
NYC woman arrested for throwing newborn out Bronx window
A Yonkers woman was arrested on Tuesday after she allegedly threw her newborn infant out the window of her boyfriend’s seventh-floor Bronx apartment, according to police.
Jennifer Berry, 33, was charged with murder after the female child was found unconscious and unresponsive by the building superintendent’s wife in the apartment’s alley. The child, whose umbilical cord was still attached, was declared dead at the scene as a result of the fall.
According to police, Berry, who had briefly worked for NYC’s child welfare agency from July 2007 to January 2008, told friends and family that she had miscarried weeks ago and hid the final stages of her pregnancy. She initially denied being the infant’s mother, but later confessed under questioning.
Since the incident, residents of the building have set up a small memorial in the alley to pay respects for the child. Funeral arrangements are currently being discussed and will likely be tended to by Peter DeLuca, a funeral director whose own 13-month-old son died in 1987.
Delhomme orders permit approval for yeshiva without safety inspections
At the request of a campaign donor, Spring Valley Mayor Demeza Delhomme allegedly ordered a certificate of occupancy to be issued to a yeshiva even in the absence of building inspections, according to an internal memo datedAugust 17.
Delhomme allegedly ordered the Village’s Assistant Building Inspector Jackenton Lavalasse to issue the certificate to Yeshival Oholei Shem D’nitra, according to an interoffice memo issued by Lavalasse. Since then, students have reportedly been seen in the 8,000 square foot building.
The memo further explained Alex Goldberger, the vice president of Monsey Lumber and a donor to Delhomme who was converting the property into a school, spoke with the mayor and Lavalasse over the phone on the day a scheduled inspection was cancelled. During he conversation, Delhomme issued the order for Lavalasse to overlook the lack of an inspection.
Though Lavalasse explained building inspections were incomplete, he eventually issued the certificate. Lavalasse revoked it shortly thereafter, citing the lack of proper inspections. Delhomme later denied to Building Inspector Walter Booker that he had made any such orders.
State seeks public comment on broadband expansion
New York State will soon seek feedback from shareholders and other interested parties on an $500 million expansion of the state’s broadband infrastructure.
The request, which seeks to expand and enhance access to high-speed broadband service across New York, represents one of the last steps toward the finalization of the project’s guidelines. By 2018, the State hopes to enhance speeds to 100 Mbps in most places and 25 Mbps in more remote areas.
Interested parties can comment with ideas and recommendations up to October 30 by filling out a request for information available at nysbroadband.ny.gov/new-ny-rfi and emailing their response to NYSBroadband@esd.ny.gov.
Police: Eugene Palmer believed to be alive
Three years after his disappearance, Eugene Palmer, the prime suspect in a 2012 murder, is still believed to be alive, according to Havrstraw Police.
Palmer, 73, disappeared into Harriman State Park after he allegedly shot his daughter-in-law Tammy Palmer at his house on Willow Grove Road and abandoned his Dodge Ram truck a quarter mile uproad into the park. Though the longtime outdoorsman had numerous medical issues, including diabetes and heart problems, Haverstraw Police Detective Michael Cruger stated investigators believe Palmer survived the winter and is still at large.
Cruger further explained police are working on theories that Palmer, who has been indicted by a Rockland grand jury on charges of second-degree murder, had assistance from others and have investigated remote hunting areas in Arizona, Colorado and Upstate New York where they believe Palmer might be hiding. Authorities have also alerted Interpol to the man’s continued status as a wanted fugitive.