Why VAWA is Ineffective and Unconstitutional

Public Policy discourages fathers from helping children
or saving their own lives in abusive relationships.

Following is a summary of lead news items during the days before and after Phil Hartman's murder. It demonstrates several serious situations involving men or children living in abusive relationships. Why does Federal Policy and Funding deny men and fathers equal protections under the law, and deny them equal access to petition for protection for themselves and children when confronted with an abusive or drug abusing spouse?


Company Press Release

Court TV Premieres 'Love and Murder' Documentary

Case of Florida Woman Serving Life Sentence for Husband's Death Airs Tuesday, June 16 at 8 PM ET; Features Exclusive Jailhouse Interview With Linda Jones

NEW YORK -- Do all couples mean ``Til Death Do Us Part'' when they take their vows? On Tuesday, June 16, Court TV will premiere ``Love and Murder,'' a documentary on the case of Linda Jones, a Florida woman charged with solicitation to commit first degree murder for the death of her husband, whom she knew was having an affair. The program airs at 8 PM ET as part of Trial Story's ``Til Death Do Us Part'' Theme Week.

On the night of November 7, 1995, in the quiet suburb of Lake Asbury, three masked intruders invaded the home of Linda and Jack Jones. Linda escaped unharmed while Jack was beaten to death. The case stalled for months as authorities looked for suspects, but eventually fingerprints left at the scene led investigators to Linda. According to prosecutors, Linda's motive was clear. Jack had been carrying on an affair with 18-year-old Carrie Davis, a high school senior who worked for Linda, and who Linda had invited to move in with them to escape a troubled home life.

CASE UPDATE: A jury found Linda Jones guilty and she was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of her husband. The jury convicted Donald Bradley of murder in the first degree and recommended the death penalty. The final ruling on Bradley is expected June 18, two days after the documentary airdate. Brian and Patrick McWhite, the two brothers who claim that their involvement was limited to acting as ``muscle,'' are in the midst of plea negotiations. Their fate will be decided on June 23.



3 Japan children strangled; mother held

TOKYO - Japanese police say they have arrested a 35- year-old mother on suspicion of strangling her three children at their home in the town of Kuzuu (``Koo-ZOO-oo''), north of Tokyo.

The children _ two boys aged 10 and 5, and a 1-year-old girl _ were found dead with marks around their necks.

Police said they received an emergency telephone call from the parents of suspect Mayumi Saito (``migh-OO-mee sigh-toh''), saying they found their grandchildren dead today and that their daughter and her 36- year-old husband Hideki (``hee-DEH-kee'') were missing.

Police believe the suspect strangled her children with an electric cable.

They quoted her saying: ``I had difficulty in divorce talks with my husband last night. I wanted to commit suicide after killing my children.''

The suspect's husband was also being questioned.



Comic Phil Hartman, wife dead in home shooting

By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former "Saturday Night Live" star Phil Hartman, famed for his impersonation of President Clinton, was found dead in his bed Thursday, apparently shot by his wife, who then killed herself, police said....



UPI NEW YORK - New York City police say four Brooklyn sixth graders assaulted their teacher today because she refused to let them watch ``The Jerry Springer Show'' during class. According to investigators, the girls at P.S. 12 allegedly spit on 44-year-old Aishah Ahmad and slapped and kicked her.



Police searching for missing NJ girl

SAYREVILLE, NJ - Police in Sayreville, N.J., are searching for an 8-year-old girl named Kelly O'Donnell who failed to return from a supervised visit with her mother on Saturday.

The girl's father, Michael O'Donnell, tells United Press International that his ex-wife picked up Kelly in the morning, and did not come back when she was due 12 hours later.

He says he's particularly concerned because according to court- appointed psychiatrist Sandra Lynn Elias, the mother, Sharon O'Donnell may have been abusing the girl.

The father says a New Jersey Superior Court judge granted the visit in spite of Elias's finding at an April 16 hearing that ``this child is becoming traumatized by her mother,'' and the therapist's recommendation to ``end visits immediately.''

O'Donnell says the judge granted supervised visits, and appointed Sharon O'Donnell's boyfriend as the supervisor.

O'Donnell says that when his ex-wife did not bring the girl back, he called the supervisor, who said he hadn't seen the mother and daughter for hours. O'Donnell went to police, who are searching for the pair and have alerted the FBI.

Kelly is just under four feet tall, weighs 50 to 60 pounds and has short, light brown hair cut in a Dutch boy style.

The father says he fears his wife may have disguised herself and the girl.

He said: ``I'm afraid for my daughter's safety. I just pray to God she's all right.''

Anyone with information on the child's whereabouts is asked to call police at 732-525-5436.



Mom charged in child's slaying

LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County prosecutors say a 34- year-old woman has been charged (Tuesday) with child endangerment and being an accessory after-the-fact in the death of her 2-year-old daughter. The girl's body was found buried near the site in the Angeles National Forest where her father and aunt tried to bury her 5-year-old brother in March. The girl's father faces an additional murder charge in connection with her death.



BUFFALO, NY - Buffalo police say a 5-foot, 10-inch woman weighing about 300 pounds is targeting men as mugging victims. One elderly male victim says he was in the men's room of a downtown restaurant when the woman lifted her clothing and flashed her breasts. The victim stayed focused and tried to leave the restroom, but the woman ripped off the back pocket of his pants along with a foot-square piece of fabric to take the man's wallet. While this diversionary tactic is new to Buffalo, travel writers say this type of diversion is common in European cities such as Paris.



Bronx woman pimped 11-year-old niece

NEW YORK - A 25-year-old Bronx woman has been convicted of arranging for her 11-year-old niece to have sex with a 68-year-old New Jersey man. New York State Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Bernstein indicated he would sentence Marisol Sanders to serve one to three years in prison, even though prosecutors had asked for a sentence of two to six years. Charges are still pending against the man, New Jersey film executive Sidney Kiwitt, who allegedly raped and sodomized the child four times between April and December of 1997.



Mom, grandma indicted in teen's death

LEBANON, OH - The mother and grandmother of a 17- year-old youth are accused of giving the teen 16 beers and two sedatives during a three-hour period, leading to his death.

Kathy Jean Smith, 36, faces charges of endangering a child, and her mother, Kathy Smith, 49, is accused of involuntary manslaughter, endangering a child and corrupting another (person) with drugs in the Feb. 14 death of Joseph Blair.

They are scheduled for arraignment May 29.

The death certificate attributes the teen's death to ``acute propoxyphene and ethanol intoxication.''

Investigators said the mother and grandmother were drinking with the boy and gave him 12 beers, starting just after midnight Feb. 14.

After Blair consumed the beers, the grandmother went to her home where authorities said she gave him four more beers and two Darvocets.

Prosecutor Tim Oliver said Blair fell asleep at 3 a.m. ``Sometime after 8:00 a.m., the grandma was unable to wake him. Paramedics and the life squad were called and he was pronounced DOA'' at Southview Hospital in Dayton.

Oliver said, ``If you read the Physicians Desk Reference, which indicates what happens when you mix Darvocet with alcohol, it tells you that any excessive use of alcohol is extremely dangerous and that death can occur in as quickly as one hour.''

The mother, if convicted, faces five years in prison and the grandmother, if convicted of all charges, could spend up to 23 years in prison.


5-22-98 UPI Shooter captured after spree

TUCSON, AZ - A woman with a history of mental illness has been charged with going on a shooting spree that killed one and wounded four others in Tucson, Ariz.

Gracie Verduzco had been released from a behavioral health facility just a month ago. Deputies say she used a handgun that had been recently purchased by a family member to carry out the shootings.

The first shooting took place at a post office, where the victim was hit in the leg. She then went to a truck stop where she allegedly shot and wounded two drivers who refused to give her a ride.

Deputies say a man whose Cadillac Verduzco allegedly carjacked was found dead inside the car. A fifth man who stopped to help the Cadillac driver was shot in the chest. Verduzco was arrested Thursday as she walked along Interstate 10 in Tucson.

During the first part of the spree, Verduzco was being driven around by her former stepfather. Maxie Garcia says he feared for his life once Verduzco began firing and simply did what he had to in order to keep living.

Garcia told KOLD-TV that Verduzco got into the car after shooting the post office clerk and said she felt good. She then demanded to go to the truck stop. He sped away after leaving her there.




Another woman cuts off husband's penis

LIMA, PERU - A Peruvian woman cut off her husband's penis and flushed it down the toilet believing he had raped their 2-year-old daughter, but police said the man was innocent, local television reported Friday.

The 37-year-old woman became enraged when she found her 38-year-old husband asleep in bed with their daughter naked beside him, the television report said.

She seized a kitchen knife and sliced off his penis before flushing it down the toilet, the report said.

The man told the television station from his hospital bed that he was innocent, and police said examinations of the child revealed no signs of sexual abuse.

The man, a taxi-driver from a poor part of Lima, received emergency treatment for loss of blood but his penis could not be recovered. His wife was in police custody.



Gucci murder trial begins in Milan

MILAN, ITALY - The murder trial of the ex-wife of Italian fashion mogul Maurizio Gucci started Tuesday but lawyers immediately launched a barrage of tactics to delay the long-awaited case.

After a false start last week when defense lawyers went on strike, the session opened with a call for the chief prosecutor to stand down, a wrangle over media access to the trial and a request for another adjournment.

Dozens of cameras and onlookers jostled for a first glimpse of the woman dubbed the "Black Widow," Patrizia Reggiani, who is accused of plotting the murder of her former husband Gucci in a gangland-style killing.

But they were once again disappointed as she exercised her right not to attend the trial, preferring to stay in her cell in Milan's grim San Vittore prison.

"Her morale and her health are very bad," said one of Reggiani's lawyers, Giovanni Maria Dedola.

Reggiani is taking strong epilepsy drugs after an operation to remove a brain tumour in the early 1990s, he noted.

Instead, her alleged co-plotter and one-time friend Pina Auriemma, stoney-faced and dressed in a chunky-knit sweater and sunglasses in the heat of the crowded courtroom, turned up.

The man who allegedly pumped three bullets into Gucci on the steps of his Milan office in March 1995, and the getaway driver sat chatting in a cage in the courtroom. The alleged go-between, hotel porter Ivano Savioni, chose to stay away.

Reggiani, 50, and her alleged four accomplices, who were arrested last year after a two-year investigation, could face life behind bars if found guilty of the murder of the last grandson of Guccio Gucci, the founder of the fashion empire.

The prosecution says Reggiani, obsessed with revenge following the acrimonious break-up of her marriage and infuriated over her ex-husband's plans to re-marry, plotted the murder with Auriemma who found the go-between.

Reggiani denies the charges.

The presiding judge turned down a request to postpone Tuesday's session due to the absence of one of Reggiani's lawyers. Calls for the prosecutor to stand down due to alleged unorthodox methods of collating evidence were also unsuccessful.

The trial is expected to last up to a year with defense lawyers calling more than 100 people to testify.

"This is going to be a difficult and long trial," said Paolo Antimiani, one of the hotel porter's lawyers.



Baby found buried alive on hiking trail

ALTADENA, CA - A day-old baby boy is fighting for his life in a Pasadena, Calif., hospital after he was found buried alive by a woman walking her dog.

Azita Milanian told Los Angeles Sheriff's investigators she thought her dog had found a dead animal when he ran off the trail and started digging in a pile of dirt at about 8 p.m. Saturday.

Milanian told the Los Angeles Times: ``Then as I looked deeper in the dirt I could see it was a child. I wrapped the baby in a towel and wiped the dirt from his face. I thanked God he was still alive.''

The baby's umbilical cord was still attached, leading investigators to speculate that he had probably been buried only about an hour before Milanian found him.

Milanian flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911 on a cellular phone.

Doctors at Huntington Memorial Hospital say the African-American baby arrived with a body temperature of about 80 degrees and was listed in critical condition.

Dr. Ricardo Lierberman said the baby, who has been named ``Christian'' by hospital staff, has a good chance of recovery, but it will be a year or more until it is known if the ordeal left permanent damage.

Sheriff's investigators say they are conducting an intensive effort to find the child's parents. They urge anyone who knows a woman who recently gave birth and cannot account for the child to call authorities.



NJ mom arraigned for killing baby

CAMDEN, NJ - Prosecutors say a Camden, N.J., woman charged with suffocating her infant daughter was drinking and doing drugs the night before the baby's death. Brenda Downs was arraigned Friday morning on charges she pressed her baby's face into a rug until the infant died. She allegedly told police she didn't want the child because she could not take care of it. The infant was her ninth child. Downs had a 3-year-old daughter living with her at the time of the newborn's death, but her seven other children had been placed in foster care and eventually adopted. She is being held at the Camden County Jail on $200,000 bail.




Toddler suffocates under sleeping woman

BUFFALO, NY - A toddler suffocated and died on a couch after a woman fell asleep on top of him after a night of drinking, prosecutors in New York state say.

They said they would decide by Friday whether to charge the woman, who is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs more than 200 pounds, with a crime. Her name was not released.

Chance Goforth, aged 18 months, died last week while his mother, Linda Parsons, 21, was entertaining friends.

"All the people were drinking but to what extent they were, that will be determined," Erie County District Attorney Frank Clark said Wednesday.

"Our focus is on the woman who went to sleep on the child. It's tragic and whether it's criminal we will have to see."

Clark said the woman and the boy's mother, who has two other small children, told police they had started drinking Thursday afternoon and carried on into Friday morning.

Apparently, everyone either left the apartment or found somewhere to sleep by 3:30 a.m. Friday. Chance was found under the woman at 8 a.m.



'Evil twin' tries suicide

ANAHEIM, CA - A young woman convicted of hatching a plot to kill her twin sister is hospitalized after apparently trying to commit suicide.

Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Hector Rivera says 24-year-old Jeen ``Gina'' Han was taken to Western Medical Center's jail ward in Anaheim after she was found ill in her Santa Ana jail cell Monday.

She remained hospitalized today, but the hospital wouldn't release any information about her condition.

Rivera says Han told deputies she had taken ``several Tylenol'' and said she was depressed about a long prison sentence and ``no longer wanted to live.''....



Woman gets 26 years for plot to kill her twin

SANTA ANA, CA - A woman convicted of plotting with two teen-agers to kill her identical twin sister has been sentenced to 26 years in prison.

Judge Eileen Moore, passing sentence in Santa Ana's Central Superior Court, 40 miles south of Los Angeles, earlier had rejected attorneys' arguments for a new trial and for leniency for Korean-born Jeen "Gina" Han.

"It is obvious Miss Han is a danger to society, particularly against her family," the judge said.

Han was found guilty last November of plotting to kill her twin sister Sunny. The jury also found her guilty of two counts of burglary, firearms possession and two counts of false imprisonment.

Co-defendants John Sayarath, 16, and Archie Bryant, 18, were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, burglary and firearms possession. Bryant was sentenced to 16 years in prison and Sayarath was ordered held in a California Youth Authority facility for 90 days to determine if he can be rehabilitated.

But Judge Moore said Friday she was prepared to sentence him to at least eight years.

During the trial last year, authorities at first suggested that Jeen Han, now 24, had wanted to kill her sister and assume her identity in a case of "good twin-evil twin."

But during a preliminary hearing, a picture of sibling rivalry emerged, in which Sunny was said to have once apparently tried to have Jeen arrested for stealing her car. Sunny also said at that hearing that she did not believe her sister wanted to kill her.

Sunny, who at one point during the trial collapsed on the witness stand after taking an overdose of sleeping pills, was not in court Friday for her sister's sentencing.

Prosecutors alleged Jeen, who had just been released from a local jail, sent the two men to her sister's apartment in Irvine to kill her. Sunny called police when she heard her room-mate being assaulted and officers found both women bound and gagged in a bathtub.

Jeen's attorney contended during the trial there was no intention to kill and that his client sent the two men to her sister's apartment to retrieve some personal belongings.

++++++++++++++++++++ 5-13-98 REUTERS Heiress gets 60 days for killing polo player WARRENTON, VA - A Virginia heiress was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter Wednesday for killing her polo-playing Argentine lover last year but was sentenced to only 60 days in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Susan Cummings, 35, daughter of the late billionaire arms dealer Sam Cummings, had also been charged with first-degree murder for shooting Roberto Villegas on Sept. 7 in the kitchen of her $2.3-million estate in northern Virginia's horse country.

Cummings claimed the dashing polo player was a violent man who attacked her with a knife, slashing her left arm. She said she took a loaded 9mm Walther pistol from a kitchen cabinet and shot him four times in self-defense.

"I am very happy," the Swiss-born heiress told a news conference after the trial. She could have been sent to jail for 10 years for the manslaughter conviction and faced a life sentence if she had been convicted of murder.

Prosecutor Kevin Casey used forensic and ballistic evidence to argue that Villegas was sitting eating breakfast, and died face-down in a pool of blood under the table with a piece of croissant in his mouth.

"You just flat blew him away," the Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney said on Tuesday in his closing statement.

Experts told the court during the 4-1/2 day trial that the cuts on her arm appeared to be self-inflicted, and blood splatters on Villegas' jeans showed he was sitting down when bullets hit him in the right arm, neck and chest.

Casey told the jury to ignore accounts by defense witnesses that Villegas had a vicious temper, was quick to draw a knife in an argument and had slapped Cummings in public and pulled a rope around her neck on one occasion.

"None of that matters," Casey said. "It could have been Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson ... sitting in that chair, but that did not give her the right to do what she did."

Cummings' father was a former CIA employee who built a successful arms business based in the warehouses of his Interarms firm in Alexandria, Virginia. He died in Monaco two weeks ago.

His daughter, who lived with her twin sister on the central Virginia estate, met Villegas in the summer of 1995 at a local polo club. They became lovers the following summer when she invited him to coach a polo team on her property.

Villegas, 38, the only son of poor farmers from the Pampas, came to the United States as a groom for polo ponies and later joined the polo playing set of Virginia and Florida.