Criminal Cases

Criminal Cases

Connecticut Teen Expelled After Harassing Roommate; Court Not Considering It a Hate Crime


In West Hartford, Connecticut, 18-year-old Brianna Brochu plead not guilty on December 19th after being accused of contaminating her roommate’s personal belongings as part of a hate crime. According to Brochu’s Instagram account, she rubbed used tampons on the backpack of Chennel Rowe, Brochu’s roommate. Brochu also claimed in the Instagram post to have licked Rowe’s eating utensils, as well as putting Rowe’s toothbrush “where the sun doesn’t shine”, presumably referring to her anus. Rowe says she believes Brochu also spit in her coconut oil and added “moldy clam dip” to other lotions over the course of the previous month. Brochu is awaiting a trial by jury, which is initially scheduled for January 29, where she will be officially tried on charges of criminal mischief and breach of peace


The crime was initially reported to potentially be one of a hateful nature, especially after Rowe told The Hartford Courant that Brochu “ignored her and treated her as a ghost.” Rowe is African-American and Brochu is Caucasian, so that factor combined with the general iciness demonstrated toward Rowe led the NAACP and other local civil rights groups to urge the courts to add a hate crimes charge to the processing. NAACP president Scot Esdaile later expressed disappointment at the lack of a hate crimes aspect in the charges, and believes that this was due in part to the prosecutors not considering the case as urgently as civil rights groups believed it to be.


Brochu’s legal team, for their part, has denied that Brochu’s actions were at all racially motivated. Brochu, who was expelled from the University of Hartford after reports of these incidents came to light, admits that there was no relationship between the roommates. Brochu says that Rowe was similarly cold towards her, exhibiting rudeness and posting videos of Brochu online without her consent. In the process of Brochu’s expelling, she lost the rights to an $80,000 scholarship she had earned that allowed her to attend the university for the next four years.


The evening after Brochu’s expelling and the circumstances surrounding that decision became public, the University of Hartford organized a student meeting led by Greg Woodward, the university’s vice president of student affairs and director of public safety. Woodward acknowledged in that meeting, as well as in a public statement, that the university still had work to do in the field of fostering a respectful on-campus environment. However, the statement also assured students and parents that the school took action as soon as the allegations against Brochu were raised to university officials.


Murder-Suicide At Penn State Beaver Over Domestic Issues


52-year-old William Kelly has been identified as the man behind a murder-suicide on the campus of Penn State’s Beaver County affiliate on Wednesday, December 13. William Kelly reportedly shot his 49-year-old ex-wife Lesli Kelly with two handguns before pulling the trigger on himself. The attack was reported at 3:38 PM at the university’s food services building, which includes a student cafeteria.  However, it was later determined that the shooting happened outside, in the building’s parking lot. The police say that no students were affected by the shooting, and that the rest of the Kelly family is safe. In any case, at the time of the shooting, the university ordered an evacuation of the area and a dismissal of non-essential employees for the rest of the day.


According to State Police Lieutenant Eric Hermick, it is believed William Kelly arrived at the campus with the alibi of dropping off a Christmas present for Lesli, who was on her break during a shift at the food services building that afternoon. Lesli was reportedly waiting for William in a parked Subaru SUV, and William arrived in a similar-looking Chevrolet SUV. William approached Lesli with a wrapped present box before pulling out his weapons and committing the attack. Witnesses informed the police that there was some brief screaming and yelling before the shooting happened.


The Kellys had three children, who were staying with their relatives at the time of the shooting. The Kellys had recently gotten a divorce, and the police believe that this was “a domestic violence thing”, as Hermick put it. Lesli had filed several complaints to campus police in the past about William, although she failed to go through with a protection form abuse order. “We’re getting indications that there was domestic issues, child support issues,” Hermick elaborated. One of their children is an adult, but two are minors who were under shared custody, and police believe an argument over custody may have been a potential motive for the deadly dispute. This was initially a concern when the police found blood-stained documents inside the car, although it was later determined the children were safe.


As for the university, school chancellor Jenifer Cushman said that counseling would be available to students, facutly and staff. In the immediate, arrangements were also made for finals exams that were scheduled for the next day to be moved over to Friday. Campus authorities expressed some relief that the area was not as populated as it would usually be because of the winter break for many students.

Dayton Car Crash Claims Mother and Son’s Lives


Dayton, Georgia authorities have revealed that the man charged with killing a mother and a 7-year-old boy in a car accident had a previous criminal record in the state of Georgia. Kesean Williams-Parks was driving a Nissan Maxima at 11 PM on Wednesday, November 29 when his vehicle rammed into the southeast corner of 803 Lilac Avenue, striking down 39-year-old Maria Davis and her son Jerome. Maria was immediately pronounced dead, while Jerome was pronounced dead on arrival to Dayton Children’s Hospital. Plywood has since covered the corner of the house that was destroyed in the accident. Locals have also turned the house’s mailbox into a makeshift memorial of stuffed animals and balloons.


Police say that an officer initially spotted Williams-Parks’ car on nearby Hoover Avenue and saw it enter a driveway.. After raising some suspicion, the officer moved his spotlight towards the car, although the officer decided not to pursue when the driver left the driveway. He was later spotted by other witnesses as ignoring a stop sign before he ended up crashing into the Davis home. Williams-Parks attempted to flee on foot, but was taken into custody near the scene of the crime. He plead not guilty on the charges of concealed weapons and aggravated drug possession on the Friday after the accident. Specifically, Williams-Parks was caught with a loaded Smith and Wesson .38 caliber gun and with a supply of methamphetamine. Williams-Parks remains in jail on a $500,000 bond, and the case will be heard by a grand jury. Police believe there was a second person in the vehicle, but no details have been publicly released about the suspect or the ongoing search for the culprit.


Williams-Parks has had run-ins with Georgia police in the past, being charged by Clayton County authorities in 2011 with burglary, drug possession and fleeing from police. He was sentenced to five years of prison, but ended up leaving early thanks to a first-time offenders’ program. Meanwhile, this was also not the first time something like this happened to the Davis family, as they had to move from their previous home after a fire where they lost a lot of their former possessions. Fortunately, there was one other youth in the house at the time of this fatal accident that escaped without injury. As for Edison PreK-6 School, the institution that Jerome attended, they have provided a crisis team to help give emotional support to classmates and teachers. The school is also organizing a financial fund for the purposes of aiding the remaining members of the Davis family.

USA Gymnastics Doctor Pleads Guilty To More Sexual Misconduct Charges


54-year-old Larry Nassar has plead guilty to more accusations of sexual misconduct with minors in a highly publicized November 29 hearing in Michigan. Nassar accepted three more of the charges of first degree sexual conduct with children under the age of 16, including one charge involving a child younger than 13 years old. Nassar, the team doctor for the American Olympic gymnastics team for many years, had already plead guilty to abusing seven girls a week prior, and had made a deal that would put him in prison for at least 25 years.


At the November 29 trial, when Nassar was pressed on whether or not he had inserted an unprotected finger into the victims, he said “yes” with a sigh. Nassar was very quiet during this second hearing. Sentencing for these additional charges, on top of the 25 years already handed down, will occur some time near the end of January 2018.


In the November 22 trial, Nassar admitted to similar misconduct with several members of the gymnastics team, usually veiled by the encounters being of the nature of a medical exam. The acts of abuse spanned from 1998 to 2015, when he was quietly dismissed by USA Gymnastics. Nassar, while pleading guilty at that initial hearing, expressed his desire to move on and to help his victims begin the healing process. Rosemarie Aquilina, the judge presiding over that case, responded harshly on behalf of the victims, saying that it would take some of them years to heal “while you spend your lifetime behind bars thinking about what you did in taking away their childhood.”




The case against Nassar began to be built when Rachel Denhollander came forward to the Indianapolis Star over a year ago, detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by Nassar. In court, Denhollander detailed in the initial court hearing how, beginning in the year 2000, when she was 15 years old, Nassar rubbed her sexual organs and inserted his finger while making it seem the actions were part of a medical treatment. Denhollander says Nassar went as far as groping her breasts at one point. Since Denhollander came forward, over a hundred gymnasts have since followed suit. Nassar initially tried to continue the story that his practices were part of medical procedures, but he began pleading guilty later to charges such as possession of child pornography. Even big names in USA Gymnastics such as McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman put their names in the fight against Nassar.. The public has also since condemned USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University for knowing about complaints about Nassar and not doing enough about addressing them.

13-Year-Old in Chicago Charged With Harassment Over Xbox Live Chat


Police in the outer Chicago suburb of Huntley charged a 13-year-old boy with a hate crime after they found the child had made “racial statements” and other threats over the online gaming platform of Xbox Live. The 13-year-old was targeting another student at Marlowe Middle School, and was also accused of making a general threat to the school’s student population. However, after following through on a search warrant and confiscating relevant items, police assured the community that there was no evidence that the 13-year-old had made any concrete plans to carry out those threats, which was later re-transmitted by a message from John Burkey, superintendent of Huntley School District 158. The 13-year-old was last being held at Kane County Juvenile Detention Center.


This is the latest in a series of such incidents in the school district, as a different boy was charged last month under hate crime laws after it was found he had made racially charged remarks at an Africsn-American student and posted a threatening video on social media. Superintendent Burkey, in his letter to the parents of the district, acknowledged that they have needed to deal more frequently with online bullying and threats, and assured them, “Any individual who makes a threat against a school in this District will face the absolute strictest school discipline and criminal consequences allowable by law. The intention of the threat does not matter.” This has been reflected in the increase in security at schools within the district. The local police has also found it necessary to step up in this department, emphasizing that “comments made via electronic means have consequences” and that the authorities take these kind of threats “extremely seriously”.


Online gaming platforms that allow for chat have always been a haven for people to exercise power behind anonymity, sometimes resulting in threats that go over the line. Xbox Live already has mechanisms in place so that users can report harassment, bullying or other inappropriate behavior being perpetrated over their bandwidth. However, that hasn’t exactly stopped the culture from changing significantly since gaming chat first became popular in the early 2010s. Racial harassment, particularly by way of the usage of slurs, was highlighted as still a latent issue in the gaming world earlier this year when famous YouTube gamer Felix Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, was caught using a racial slur during a stream, which later led to a loss in sponsorship.

Church Shooting Outside San Antonio Claims 26 Lives


On November 5, 2017, a 26-year-old man later identified as Devin Patrick Kelley entered a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, a Texas town just outside of San Antonio, and killed at least 26 people in the attack. The shooting began shortly after the Sunday morning service opened at 11 AM. Victims were of very varied backgrounds, from kindergarteners to the elderly. In addition to the 26 dead, the wounded also totaled in the 20s. Kelley died after being chased away from the area by armed locals.


According to police, it is believed Kelley was first spotted at a gas station across the street; he then proceeded to drive across towards the church. From there, he exited the car and began shooting from outside the church, but he quickly entered the church from the right side and continued firing bullets. He was wearing a ballistic vest and used a military styled rifle of the Ruger brand to carry out the attack in the rural location. He also carried multiple rounds of ammunition for the attack. Once Kelley exited, a neighbor fired at Kelley, although Kelley was able to enter his vehicle and flee. From there, several others began giving chase into the adjacent Guadalupe County, where Kelley crashed and passed away.


The FBI and the Texas Rangers are currently working in a joint investigation to determine what motives Kelley would have for the attack. Kelley was a former Air Force officer who lived in the Texas town of New Braunfels, where he grew up. He served the armed forces in New Mexico, but was court martialed in 2012 after being charged with assaulting his wife and child. The Air Force eventually discharged him in 2014 on the grounds of inappropriate conduct.


The first reaction from U.S. President Donald Trump, who was in the middle of his tour of Asia, came during a press conference in Japan, wherein he called the shooting a “mental health situation”, calling Kelley a “very deranged individual”. Texas Governor Greg Abbott expressed his condolences and publicly asked for “God’s comfort, for God’s guidance and for God’s healing for all those who are suffering.”


The timing is eerie, as this Sutherland Springs shooting occurred on the eighth anniversary of the infamous Fort Hood shooting, where 13 people were killed at a Texan military base. Some have also drawn comparisons between this shooting and that perpetrated by Dylann Roof in a Charleston, South Carolina Episcopal church, although that was later determined to be fueled by white supremacist ideology, whereas the church targeted by Kelley has a Caucasian majority in its membership.

Rental Truck Driver Kills 8 in Downtown Manhattan; Investigated as Terrorist Attack


Halloween opened up darkly for New York City residents as a driver drove a pickup truck down a bike path in downtown Manhattan, killing eight pedestrians and injuring 11 other people in what is being defined as the deadliest such attack in the city since the September 11th bombing of the World Trade Center. In fact, the rampage occurred in close proximity to the World Trade Center Memorial. The frightening event ended when the driver crashed into a school bus, exited his truck and pointed guns in the air shouting “Allahu akbar” before getting shot by a policeman. The attacker, later identified as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, was alive but in critical condition. The guns were later found to be paintball guns.


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio proceeded to call the incident a terrorist attack and “a particularly cowardly act”. Investigators found notes written in Arabic in Saipov’s truck that professed allegiance to ISIS, although they have not confirmed if there are serious connections between Saipov and the terrorist organization. Saipov entered the United States in 2010 with a green card after growing up in Uzbekistan. Uzbeks have been targeted by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in recent years as that country has had past ties to ISIS. In fact, a recent investigation found five Uzbeks in Brooklyn guilty of providing material support to ISIS. During Saipov’s time in the U.S., he lived in Paterson, New Jersey and Tampa, Florida. The truck he was driving during this attack was traced back as a rental from a Home Depot store in northern New Jersey.


Five of the eight that were killed in the attack were Argentinian tourists who were in New York City as part of a 30th high school reunion; one member of the group was also injured. Belgian authorities also reported one Belgian citizen was killed in the attack, in addition to three wounded. Observers felt the death toll was rather fortunate considering the attack happened just as schools were letting children out, resulting in a more-crowded-than-usual environment.


This is yet another chapter in the troubling trend of terrorists using vehicles to execute mass killings in crowded cities. For example, a truck in Nice, France killed over 80 people during Bastille Day celebrations. Even in New York City this is not an isolated incident, as a car ran through a pedestrian-heavy area in Times Square in May and killed one person. ISIS has expressed support for this tactic, advertising it in promotional material distributed within the organization. Also, it was later uncovered that a French pro-ISIS group called Centre Mediatique An-Nur had put out a threat about a Halloween attack.

Trio of Armed Robbers Captured After Three-Day Crime Spree in San Jose Area


Three Asian men have been arrested after being linked to a deadly shooting and membership in a California brothel ring. On October 18th, San Jose police announced the arrest of 27-year-old Lin Tao, 28-year-old An Yan and 36-year-old Panpan Huang, who were connected to a shooting in North San Jose that claimed the life of 31-year-old Xingjian Li. Li was found with a gunshot wound at a North San Jose apartment complex, and died while at the hospital.


Originally, the police were calling the incident a home invasion and robbery. Later investigation revealed that the attack was a targeted one, and that the apartment had also been used as a brothel. Police believe the trio tied up Li and one other person in the apartment, and then proceeded to shoot Li execution-style; it appears they left without taking a substantial amount of property. Yan, Tao and Hsung were taken to Los Angeles County Jail (and later transferred to Santa Clara County Jail) on the charges of murder, assault with a deadly weapon, sexual assault, robbery, kidnapping and conspiracy; they are being held without bail.


Police are still searching for two other suspects who are believed to be connected with the brothel ring this North San Jose incident uncovered. The two suspects, along with the arrested trio, have been identified as culpable of armed robbery and sexual assaults in several Northern California communities. For example, on three consecutive days in late September, calls were made in Milpitas, Fremont and South San Francisco reporting sexual assault and robbery at gunpoint. It appears the group was targeting known brothels because, as San Jose police spokeswoman Gina Tepoorten said, “They know that a lot of times there’s cash on hand.” San Jose police Sergeant Enrique Garcia expounded on the locations this brothel ring has chosen to situate itself: “They’re trying to blend into neighborhoods that people don’t consider a bad area.” Of course, people who were living around the brothels were generally unaware of the goings-on. For example, Vivek Surabaneni, who lived near the apartment complex where Li was killed, told NBC Bay Area, “I am surprised quite honestly. I’ve lived in this area… and I’ve never heard of anything like this, at least to this degree.”



The police has released images of the two remaining suspects and has urged the public to aid in the search. Both suspects are described by the police as Chinese men, one in his late 20s and the other in the late 30s. The younger suspect is approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall, 170 pounds and sported a shaved head, while the older suspect is 6 feet, 2 inches tall, 250 pounds and was last seen with dark medium-length hair.

Atlanta Woman Kills Two Babies in Her Oven


Atlanta police on October 17 charged 24-year-old Lamora Williams with the murder of two toddlers on the previous Friday night. According to the warrant, Williams killed two-year-old Ke-Yaunte Penn and one-year-old Ja’Karter Penn by putting them in an oven and turning up the heat on them. The children were found with severe burn marks on their bodies, which gave away their manner of death even though official autopsies have yet to be finalized. Police arrived after receiving a call about an injury at Williams’ apartment building; on arrival they found the children as Williams claimed she had left the children with a cousin charged with babysitting, and that she had only recently arrived to find the children already dead. Investigators later determined there was no merit to the idea that Williams left the children with someone else. This was corroborated by witnesses at the apartment building, who testified that it was a common ocurrence for Williams to leave the children at home without any preorganized supervision. There was a third child in the home, three-year-old Jameel Penn Jr., who was found unharmed. Williams is currently being held without bond at Fulton County Jail on the charges of murder and cruelty to children.


Jameel Penn, the father of the children, reportedly received a video call from Williams that night so that she could show Penn the dead children on the floor of her apartment. Penn had last seen the children in person a month before, and commented at the vigil, “I ain’t got no soul no more.” Penn later wrote on a GoFundMe page that he wants to use this experience to help others, desiring “to be a difference maker in someone else’s life to prevent a child being hurt.”


According to Brenda Williams, Lamora’s mother, the family had been worried for some time about Lamora, especially after the father of the two children left Lamora about three months before this incident. “I told him something tragic is going to happen. She’s going to do something to those kids, she’s going to do something to herself,” Brenda Williams alleges. Other members of the family have expanded on those fears, believing that Lamora suffered from postpartum depression or other mental illnesses. It seems that the worries were such that Brenda Williams went as far as to contact the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services in an effort to either take custody of the children or simply remove them from Lamora’s custody, although it appears that never came to fruition. Tabitha Hollingworth, Lamora’s sister, took this as an opportunity to say the government had failed them and their children.

Tampa Pharmacist Arrested After Allegedly Drugging Tinder Date


On October 7, a Tampa pharmacist was arrested on the charge of sexual battery after a woman reported she was drugged on a Tinder date by the man. 27-year-old Robert Michael Woods was pointed to as the suspect, and was held at Hillsborough County Jail after his arrest.

According to the woman, whose identity has been kept undisclosed by the police, she and Woods interacted via the Tinder dating app and set up a date to meet at the District Tavern, a bar in downtown Tampa. After a drink of beer, Woods invited the woman back to his apartment under the pretense that his friends would be arriving for a late night gathering. However, when they arrived, the woman reported that no one was there.

Once they were alone in the apartment together, Woods convinced the woman by way of a drinking game to drink a glass of absinthe. After drinking the absinthe, smoking a cigarette on the apartment’s balcony and going to the bathroom, the woman blacked out; she told police she didn’t remember anything that happened in that apartment until she woke up in Woods’ bed. She was informed by Woods that they had engaged in sexual relations, and she proceeded to leave. However, she was still under the effects of substances, given she backed her vehicle into a fence and fumbled around trying to use a garage ticket machine. Because of how unwell she felt, she drove to the hospital, where she underwent a sexual assault examination.

Once she had recovered, she noticed scrapes and bruises on her body that she did not have preceding the Tinder date. She also noticed two injection points on the left side of her neck that were not there previously. She proceeded to text Woods and attempt to ask about what happened that night, but Woods simply responded, “Are you alive?” and then went silent once he ascertained that was true. Woods also deleted the woman from his Tinder and other social media accounts.

When he was arrested, Woods identified himself as a pharmacist at St. Joseph’s Hospital, which the hospital later confirmed, although they did not respond to inquiries regarding his current employment status. Hospital spokeswoman Beth Hardy limited herself to say, “The allegations are deeply disturbing, and we are taking this very seriously. We are working with law enforcement.” Woods is currently being held in the county jail on $250,000 bail.

On Tinder’s official website, the app provides some tips to stay safe during initial meetings organized via the app, including always having the first date entirely in a public setting, as well as letting friends and family know how long your date is supposed to last. Tinder also advises users to recognize that alcohol and drug use can lead to danger, and specifically says that users should “be aware that bad actors might try to take advantage of you by altering your beverage with synthetic substances.”