Mike on Crime

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  • Sexsomnia???

    Does anyone out there really believe a person could sleepwalk their way through a sexual assault?That's the bizarre defence a Toronto-area man successfully used to avoid criminal responsibility for his attack on a young woman. Now the case is before the Ontario Court of Appeal, where prosecutors are asking for the verdict to be tossed out.According to so-called medical experts, approximately three out of every 100 people are affected sexsomnia.Seriously???I know several hundred people - family, close friends, colleagues and everyday associates - and not a single one of them has such a condition.Many of them snore, I'm sure. Plenty probably talk in their sleep as well.But having sex with an unwilling partner and have absolutely no control over your actions - or memory of it happening? Not a chance.I've become so used to hearing strange excuses for crimes that the sexsomnia defence doesn't even surprise me.But it certainly concerns me. Because as I've previously blogged about, we seem to be living in a time where taking true responsibility for your actions seems to almost never occur.Thoughts? Post 'em below or go to my website at www.mikeoncrime.com and cast your vote on this issue in our latest JURY POLL question.
  • Is spanking your child an assault?

    A Brandon, Manitoba father is fuming after he was charged with assaulting his young daughter by spanking her backside following a disruptive day at summer camp. (Read story HERE)The criminal case was eventually dropped by the Crown and the family reunited - but only after CFS briefly seized the child, the father was restricted for six months in seeing his daughter and also had to take a parenting course.The girl's mother says she took a hit as well, getting fired from her $30,000 per year job where she worked with local teens and also being forced to attend parenting 101.The father admits to hitting the girl with an open hand over her clothes "three or four" times because of her misbehaviour. The impact was apparently enough to cause bruising, which was spotted a couple days later by supervisors at the camp and reported to police.The father is upset because the Criminal Code actually allows parents to physically discipline their children. Section 43 permits a defence to assault for corporal punishment by a parent, teacher or guardian, provided the force is deemed reasonable.Police and justice officials apparently felt what happened here went beyond reasonable, at least in initially laying charges.But this entire case has certainly re-ignited the old debate about whether parents should ever lay a hand on their children.As I've stated before, one of the most common things I hear from people in their 60s and 70s when I do public speaking on crime and justice issues is how they wish the strap would be brought back to Canada.Many feel young people today are coddled too much and aren't being set straight before it's too late.That experience certainly differs from mine. I was never spanked as a child, have never spanked my own two children and don't believe inflicting physical pain actually solves anything.I've covered far too many cases where childhood victims of abuse - often at the hands of their parents - turn out to be abusers themselves.Bringing violence of any kind into the home seems to only encourage that vicious cycle to continue.I think one of the biggest problem with young people these days is the fact parents aren't spending enough quality time with their kids - if any at all. Of course, far too many children have no parental figure or role model in their lives, and the result is predictably sad.Many will call me a softie - or worse - for suggesting spanking won't solve anything. And I'm fine with that.I just believe a parent should lead by example and show your kids the right path in life - instead of just the back of your hand.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Not learning their lesson

    If we ever needed proof that the majority of criminals put little to no thought into their actions...Four chronic Winnipeg car thieves are ordered to attend a government-run program aimed at reducing their high-risk lifestyle and teaching them the errs of their ways.As I reported earlier this week, the teens went to class all right - IN A STOLEN CAR!The bizarre incident, which occurred last Friday, has police and justice officials shaking their heads in disbelief.Now, the fact that youths with a penchant for stealing cars jack up another vehicle is hardly news. That's the equivalent of reporting that the sun will come up tomorrow morning.But what is most amazing is the fact they actually made an effort to attend their counseling. Were they really trying to steer their lives in a better direction? Or is it more a case of realizing a no-show would likely result in an automatic breach and put them back behind bars?So how to explain the car theft, then?Simple - they must have thought they could get away with it. Probably because they usually do.On this day, plainclothes officers with the stolen auto unit happened to come across the hot car as it sat outside the downtown training program and brought the "students" to justice as they left.So have they finally learned their lesson? Likely not.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Project Drill

    They read like a thrilling crime novel - but the 500 pages of "Project Drill" search warrants which have occupied much of my week so far are based entirely on fact, not fiction.The documents - released publicly on Monday - disclose the inner workings of a major gang and drug distribution network across Manitoba and Western Canada.Besides detailing major drug buys and sordid murder plots, there are several other interesting revelations about the criminal lifestyle, including:Bikers love their Double-Doubles — Tim Hortons was clearly the favourite choice to meet and discuss business, according to video surveillance conducted by police. The favourite locale is the Timmy’s on North Main.Bikers love Facebook — Police listened in as bikers plotting the murders of two men distributed photos of them, and their associates, which they had retrieved online.Plane goes down, business picks up — A June 2007 small plane crash in West Hawk Lake that claimed the life of two high-flying Manitoba drug associates apparently opened the door for others to pick up new customers.Majority rules — Some gangs require at least four people for a quorum to vote on any issue, including whether to have someone killed. Police learned this during an intercepted call in December 2006. Only three full-patch Hells Angels members were present as they discussed the fate of a rival, so they called up a fourth — who happened to be working on his snow-clearing job — and had him swing by a local hotel room on his coffee break so they could have a vote.Drug dealers pay “taxes”— About $1,000 per month is paid to the upper echelons of the Hells Angels and other gangs for the right to sell drugs in a certain community, such as Thompson.Provincial expansion — The Hells Angels spoke often of setting up a second Manitoba chapter, likely based in Thompson, and of creating a Manitoba Nomads bike gang, especially Portage and Dauphin.Learn the lingo — Among the more popular expressions police overheard were “going racing” — doing drug deals — and “playing hockey,” which is an apparent reference to committing violence.I've barely scratched the surface with these, but trust me when I say we will be hearing about "Project Drill" for months to come.The final chapters have yet to be written on this incredible story.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Could you forgive?

    Imagine your child is the victim of a sexual predator.And image that predator is a member of your own family.That nightmare scenario played out in a Winnipeg court recently, where a man was to be sentenced for molesting and making child pornography with his seven-year-old niece.I'm not sure what shocked me more - the details of this horrific crime, or the reaction from the victim's mother.The woman stood up to read her impact statement, and I was expecting words of anger and even hate to emerge.But they didn't.The woman began by telling her brother she still loved him. And that she weeps for him and their broken family. That she has no "vengeful feelings at all" for him. And that she hopes one day they can "heal and be a family, as we were before."Her words still continue to play in my mind, now several days after hearing them.Her husband wasn't nearly as forgiving. He told his brother-in-law "I am saying good-bye and never want to see you again."My biggest concern here isn't the fact the mother can apparently find it in her heart to forgive. It's what kind of impact that will have on her daughter - today, tomorrow and well down the road.Is she going to resent her mother for seemingly standing by the side of her abuser? Is she going to feel like what happened to her is "no big deal"?Only time will tell. But I can't imagine the path being taken by her mother is going to do anything to help the healing process.I just don't get it.Do you???
  • Home invader killed - was this self-defence or murder?

    What a fascinating case out of Alberta today (which you can read HERE)450_CFCN_invasion_080103[1].jpgTwo home invaders quickly find themselves overmatched by their intended victims. One of the intruders is killed on the spot. Another suffers life threatening stab wounds and is currently in hospital.The occupants of the home - who had been sleeping prior to the attack - escaped with minor injuries.And now police say they may lay a murder charge against the victim who fought back with deadly force.Let the howls of national protest begin."Good for him!" many are no doubt saying. "He had every right to defend his property."If we were in the United States, this issue likely wouldn't even be debated. There seems to a much different standard down south in terms of how much force a victim is allowed to use to defend themselves. (As in, as much as a victim feels is necessary)This Alberta man would likely get a pat on the back and nothing more from U.S. authorities.It's not so simple in Canada. Although a person is allowed to use self-defence, it is limited to being on a fairly even level with the threat they are facing.Of course, that may be easier said than done. A person who bursts into your home in the middle of the night could have all sorts of weapons, even if none are readily visible.It wouldn't be reasonable to expect the victim to calmly analyze the situation and then make a clear-headed choice about what, if any, weapon he or she could use in response. (Ex. - I'll see your switchblade and raise you a steak knife)It's going to be very interesting to watch how police and justice officials in Alberta handle this case. No doubt there are many facts we still don't know which could impact which way this goes.But I suspect there are many people across Canada - from curious members of the legal community to outraged citizens fed up with crime - who have very strong feels right now about what should happen.Got a thought. Post it below.
  • Weekend at Bernie's, the sequel???

    New York men accused of bid to cash dead man's chequeBy THE ASSOCIATED PRESSNEW YORK - Two men were arrested Tuesday after wheeling a dead man through the streets of New York City in an office chair to a cheque-cashing store and trying to cash his Social Security cheque, police said.David Dalaia and James O'Hare pushed Virgilio Cintron's body from the Manhattan apartment O'Hare and Cintron shared about a block away to Pay-O-Matic, spokesman Paul Browne said witnesses told police."The witnesses saw the two pushing the chair with Cintron flopping from side to side and the two individuals propping him up and keeping him from flopping from side to side," Browne said.The men left Cintron's body outside the store, went inside and tried to cash his $355 cheque, Browne said. The store's clerk, who knew Cintron, asked the men where he was and O'Hare told the clerk they would go and fetch him, Browne said.A police detective who was having lunch at a restaurant next to the cheque-cashing store noticed a crowd forming around Cintron's body and "it's immediately apparent to him that Cintron is dead," Browne said.The detective called uniformed New York police officers at a nearby precinct. Emergency Medical Services technicians arrived as O'Hare and Dalaia were preparing to wheel Cintron's body into the cheque-cashing store, Browne said. Police arrested Dalaia and O'Hare at the store, he said.Cintron's body was taken to a hospital morgue. The medical examiner's office told police it appeared Cintron, 66, died from natural causes within the previous 24 hours, Browne said."He was deceased in the apartment when he was removed by these two," Browne said.Dalaia and O'Hare, both 65, were being held by police and face fraud charges, Browne said.
  • Should avalanche survivor be charged?

    160_bc_avalanche_080101[1].jpg You can't legislate common sense.But police in British Columbia believe they can do something about a young man who was lucky to survive his brush with an avalanche. His friend perished in the same accident.Precedent-setting charges of criminal negligence are now being considered against the survivor after the men ignored warning signs and entered a restricted area of a popular ski hill in Whistler. (Read full story HERE)Police say they likely triggered the avalanche, which swept them both over a cliff. And officials say they're tired of seeing careless people causing these types of senseless tragedies.They believe the only logical step now is to start arresting the scofflaws.I'm not sure it will be any kind of deterrent. After all, if the risk of a sudden, violent death isn't enough to scare a brainless thrill-seeker away, will the possibility of getting arrested do the trick?But I don't blame officials, who likely have every ground in law to proceed with charges.It's not unusual to see a motorist - perhaps impaired by alcohol or distracted by other factors - charged even if involved in a single-vehicle where nobody is injured.And if drivers are expected to comply with stop signs and traffic lights, why shouldn't skiers and snowboarders do the same with warning signs?There are other factors here too. These men, by deliberatley placing themselves in a dangerous situation, also put the lives of emergency responders at risk.Sure it's their job to to come to the rescue. But that doesn't mean we should give the cause of the accident a free pass.I'm not saying the survivor here should be blamed for his friend's death. That would be going too far, in my opinion. Unless there is evidence the other man was dragged into the area against his will, no such charge (such as criminal negligence causing death) should be laid.But this is about personal responsibility and accountability. If the man's actions were negligent in law, than so be it. Charge him. Set the precedent. And make sure there is consistency from this point forward.He doesn't need to go to jail. But perhaps a criminal conviction on his record - which at least might hinder his future travel to other popular ski destinations outside Canada - might be able to do what those avalanche warning signs clearly can not and put a stop to this kind of risky behaviour.Agree? Disagree? Post your thoughts below.
  • "The child porn isn't mine...it's for the pedophile"

    I thought I'd heard pretty much every excuse in the book.But then along came the strange case of Clarence Hildebrand, the 60-year-old Winnipeg real estate agent who was in court this week to be sentenced for downloading images of child pornography.After listening to Hildebrand's lawyer "explain" his client's actions, I left court sarcastically thinking we should have skipped the criminal case and instead given this man the key to the city.That's because Hildebrand was presented as some kind of moral crusader, a concerned citizen doing his gosh darn best to keep the streets safe for innocent children.(You know, the kinds of children who were being molested in the pictures Hildebrand admits he obtained)My jaw dropped when Hildebrand's lawyer explained how his client wasn't downloading the pictures for himself - they were for a neighbourhood pedophile.Hildebrand had met this man through his travels and was "distressed" to learn he was cruising the streets at night trying to pick up underaged sex trade workers, court was told.So instead of grabbing the telephone and calling police, Hildebrand picked up his computer mouse and began surfing for illegal smut.A few clicks later and he'd put together a CD containing graphic images which he then turned over to the man he apparently despised and wanted to stop.Hildebrand apparently thought feeding the beast was the best way to keep the community safe.“He wanted to stop this man from preying on young girls. He told police that he would kill someone for molesting a child,” his lawyer said.“What he did was a stupid thing but he honestly felt like he was righting a wrong and helping to protect children.”The old saying "Denial isn't just a river in Egypt" seems appropriate here, but Hildebrand is sadly just the latest example of a child pornographer who comes to court with a list of often bizarre excuses at the ready.Such as the case last year where a man got caught downloading kiddy porn but claimed he was simply trying to educate himself - and his young daughter - about the evils that lurk in the world.Or the man who claims he was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and needed to study images, now years later, of children in a similar position to come to grips with his troubled past.Heck, just a few minutes after Hildebrand's case wrapped up a former armoured car guard was next in line to take "responsibility" for his actions.The 40-year-old man didn't deny downloading more than 400 pictures and movies, but claimed they had somehow accidentally entered his computer system while he was looking for perfectly legal adult pornography.Anyone buying that one?Actually, perhaps even more distressing then the types of explanations being offered to the court is the fact judges seem to be readily acceping them.To be fair, the Crown usually isn't calling any evidence to the contrary at these sentencing hearings, essentially leaving defence submissions such as the one in Hildebrand's case to go unchallenged.Hildebrand was given a conditional sentence which allows him to remain free in the community under a joint-recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers.The only thing that likely spared him from a real jail term is the fact his crime goes back a few years - as his type of offence now has a mandatory period of incarceration.I just wish we could all be spared the kinds of pathetic explanations being put forward in court.
  • Take a bow, Quebec City...and please tell us how you're doing it!

    1127418039_8712[1].jpg The police call it a combination of "exceptional circumstances and luck".I call it pretty darn impressive.As the calender closes on 2007, Quebec City has not recorded a single homicide. In fact, the last one was in October 2006.Let's hope all other major Canadian cities are taking notes here.My hometown of Winnipeg, which is fairly comparable in size, has already seen 26 people die at the hands of another this year.Much smaller cities such as Saskatoon (9), Regina (8) and Windsor (5) have seen bloodshed as well. And bigger cities such as Toronto (82), Montreal (39). Edmonton (33), Calgary (38) and Ottawa (14) continue to be home to large homicide rates.So what's been Quebec City's secret to success? As noted above, the police chalk it up to factors beyond their control and aren't ready to throw a parade, as these sorts of things can change in a heartbeat.Still, there's plenty of positive to take out of this.Quebec City has traditionally had one of the lowest violent crime rates in Canada, a sure sign they are doing something right that other Canadian cities are not.The easy answer is to say the people in Quebec City simply get along better and can resolve issues without resorting to violence.But it's clear that some of the long-standing social ills that lead to homicides in Canada - including fights over the drug trade, gang violence, alcohol abuse and domestic disputes - aren't as prevalant in Quebec City as they are elsewhere.I've never been a big believer that a homicide rate is a true indicator of how violent a city truly is, as most killings are between people who know each other and not random acts.Still, I can't help but be fascinated by what's happening in Quebec City and wonder why other cities can't follow a similar blueprint.Got a thought on this issue? Post it below.
  • Overheard in the halls of justice...

    On the heels of last week's story about the judge who called an accused criminal "Mr. Guilty" during her jury charge comes this doozy.Seems a Winnipeg defence lawyer (who shall go nameless!) was recently filing a sentence appeal on behalf of his client.He was arguing the penalty should have been lower.Somehow, the lawyer forgot to double-check what he was sending to the Manitoba Court of Appeal and a tongue-in-cheek reference made it into the official document.What was the grave error, you ask?Well, when the lawyer made reference to the judge who had sentenced his client, he called him Judge "Hang-em high!".Oops.
  • Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift?

    One of my proudest accomplishments in life was writing my first-ever true crime book in 2003. I never thought I had the self-discipline and patience to take on such a massive project. But I surprised myself and was thrilled with the final product. Obviously I enjoyed the experience, as number two followed the next year, and number three was released last winter!I often get asked - especially lately - if and when I'm writing another one. The answers are "Yes" and "Next Year". I don't want to give away many details just yet, but things are definitely in the works so stay tuned.I've been overwhelmed by the feedback on all three books and appreciate everyone who has supported my efforts. It means the world to me.So, for those who are new to this blog, here's a brief recap of all three. They are still being sold at all major Canadian bookstores including Chaptes, Coles and McNally Robinson and sell for $11.95.*****41FRF453YZL__AA240_.jpg TO THE GRAVE: INSIDE A SPECTACULAR RCMP STING (2006)It was a mystery destined for the Cold Case files. A pretty teenager from Brandon, Manitoba, named Erin Chorney steps out for coffee, tells her mom she’ll be back in an hour...and never returns. Rumours about Erin’s fate begin to fly. Psychics with bizarre theories and suggestions. Shocking accusations and denials. Cryptic diary entries. Disturbing anonymous letters. Search warrants and surveillance. But she doesn't turn up. Nearly two years later, when all hope seems lost – a last-ditch plan straight out of Hollywood.The RCMP take aim at the prime suspect in Erin’s disappearance through a unique undercover sting operation, and the result is a wild, four-month ride into a dark criminal underworld filled with cunning mind games, shadowy figures, daring twists and Academy-award winning acting performances. And an explosive ending that nobody saw coming.TO THE GRAVE quickly became a national bestseller upon its release, was nominated for an Arthur Ellis crimewriting award and is currently in its third printing.You can also find the book online by clicking HERE.*****5187AYQ4XXL__AA240_.jpg THE YULETIDE BANDIT: A SEVEN-YEAR SEARCH FOR A SERIAL CRIMINAL (2004)Winnipeg police dubbed Michael Syrnyk "The Yuletide Bandit" following a series of dramatic, daylight Christmastime robberies in 1998, 1999 and 2000 that left citizens fearing for their safety and police searching for an apparent psychopath. One of Syrnyk's most notorious shoot-outs occurred during a December 2000 robbery outside Polo Park Shopping Centre, Winnipeg's busiest mall. Dozens of Christmas shoppers - including senior citizens - dove for cover as bullets flew and glass shattered.THE YULETIDE BANDIT chronicles Syrnyk's crime spree across western Canada to his eventual capture in a brothel in Winnipeg's red light district. The story includes jailhouse interviews with Syrnyk and extensive details from victims and witnesses of his many crimes.Film rights have been sold and a screenplay is currently in development.You can also find the book online by clicking HERE.*****41YHPAPD0ML__AA240_.jpg NOWHERE TO RUN: THE KILLING OF CONST. DENNIS STRONGQUILL (2003)Dennis Strongquill was an Aboriginal RCMP officer who had spent his life protecting society, but he was helpless to fend off three ruthless killers who ambushed him on a dark Prairie highway just days before Christmas.Robert and Danny Sand were two young brothers who had grown to hate authority. Laurie Bell was a struggling junkie with a fatal attraction to Robert Sand. Together, the trio embarked on a ruthless cross-country crime spree, leaving behind a trail of victims in their violent wake.In NOWHERE TO RUN, readers are taken to the scene of the chilling crime, into the hearts of the victim’s family and into the minds of the perpetrators, capturing every twist and turn of the case from the cold-blooded murder to the sensational trial.The book quickly became a national bestseller upon its release, was nominated for an Arthur Ellis crimewriting award and is currently in its third printing.Film rights have been sold to an Alberta company and a screenplay is currently in development.You can also find the book online by clicking HERE.Thanks again for the continued support and Happy Holidays!
  • Naming suspected drunk drivers

    Winnipeg police have started releasing the names of all accused drunk drivers arrested during this holiday season, hoping the risk of public ridicule and scorn might force some people to think twice before they get behind the wheel.I think it's a great idea.Unfortunately, it's not being very well received by local media as several outlets - including my employer, the Free Press - have chosen not to publish or broadcast the names. (The public can still find them on the Winnipeg police website by clicking HERE)There are two main reasons for this policy "boycott", as I understand. Included are my own thoughts on these points.*****POINT 1 - A person is innocent until proven guilty and naming them after simply being charged - but not convicted - could compromise that.Here's where this one breaks down with me.Media outlets name accused persons every day in this city. Murder suspects, armed robbery, assaults, auto thefts - we see their names in the papers and on television all the time. And yet we don't usually hear people suggesting we've stamped them as "Guilty" without first having a fair hearing.So why should the offence of drunk driving be any different? Especially if you buy the argument that every drunk driver on the road is a potential killer, and it's often only dumb luck that prevents a tragedy.Actually, I'll take that a step further. The crime of impaired driving is one of those rare "black and white" offences that you could argue a person is pretty much guilty upon arrest. I mean, you either are or you aren't. Especially when a person refuses a breathalyzer, as so many people seem to do these days. That's a slam dunk - save for some defence lawyer finding a legal loophole to squeeze you through.So the chance of a wrongful arrest for drunk driving is virtually nil, especially compared to every other type of crime.The exception on naming accused criminals - at least where I work - is when a person is charged with sex-related offences including child pornography and rape.The main reason is the fact there is an increased stigma with being branded a molester or pedophile which is difficult, if not impossible, to erase should a person ultimately be found not guilty.The other has to do with the fact sex assault would have one of the highest rates of collapses cases, due to a combination of people being falsely accused, the usual he-said/she-said case and would-be victims and witnesses changing their stories or refusing to testify.Certainly there's a stigma attached with every crime. But with drunk driving, that's exactly what police WANT to accomplish here.Since nothing else seems to be working - increased enforcement, a non-stop educational campaign - why not try and scare people sober? Works for me.Here's one final example of why refusing to publish the names of suspected drunk drivers troubles me.Let's say Joe Smith is driving home from an office party, having had a few too many to drink. He doesn't notice the light has turned red, blows through it and smashes into an unsuspecting motorist, seriously injuring them. Or maybe even killing them.No media outlet in this city, including mine, would hesitate for a second to publish Joe Smith's name. We do it all the time. "Police have charged Joe Smith with impaired driving causing bodily harm/death" the story would read. And nothing would be said about it.So why should Joe Smith be protected from being identified if running that red light results in him just missing hitting that innocent motorist?Let me put it to you another way.If a man fires a bullet towards a crowd of people and misses, would the media name him? Of course. So why not a drunk driver, who is behind the wheel of a weapon that can be every bit as lethal?*****POINT 2 - Media outlets are not likely to follow all the people they would be naming through the court system, meaning their guilt - or perhaps eventual innocence - would never be reported on.This one gives me greater pause. And there is certainly some validity to the argument.As I mentioned above, the success rate for convictions on people charged with impaired driving would be extremely high - perhaps more than any other crime out there.But that doesn't mean some people won't beat the charge.Maybe it turns out Joe Smith was actually having a seizure/reaction to medication/other health issue and really wasn't drunk after all. But that doesn't come out until trial, when doctors can be brought forward to testify on his behalf and other medical evidence presented.The reality is, there's no way the media will be able to follow-up on every person who is charged. There's just too much other stuff going on. So how do we get around the fact we might be naming someone who eventually turns out to be not guilty - and thus damaging their reputation in the process?The only answer I have for that is that we are already doing it. Speaking from nearly a decade of covering courts, I can tell you with complete honesty there's no way I cover the outcome of every person who is charged.The big ones, yes. Rarely would we miss a murder case. But the rest is a virtual crapshoot and has as much to do with what else is on our plate on a given day and how many other cases we're covering.In a perfect world, reporters would track every single arrest that appears in the paper/on tv or radio and then follow it through to the finish. But that's not the reality.So what to do? Perhaps Winnipeg police, as part of this campaign, would be able to monitor these cases and then update the media on the results. It wouldn't be a stretch, since police would be playing a key role anyways as the arresting officers would know exactly what is happening.Or, maybe this campaign should be modified and police agree to provide the names of every CONVICTED drunk driver?Yes, you'd lose the immediacy. But everyone would know their name is eventually going to come out if guilty. And that would still be a very strong deterrent.*****I've told you a bit about what I think. Now I want to hear from you.It's clear the public is divided on this one. Thursday's daily Free Press poll asked whether police should be releasing the names of people charged. Of the 2,712 voters, 54 per cent said "No".What's really interesting to me is the fact the vast majority of drunk drivers are usually law-abiding citizens who made a very stupid error in judgment.You know that Bob from your office likely isn't going to go hold up a bank this evening - but he certainly might get behind the wheel after having a few too many.Maybe that's why this issue is so troubling to some, as I doubt we'd see the same results if the question was "Should Winnipeg police release the names of drug-addicted thugs who steal your car and rob your neighbourhood gas station?"Agree or disagree on the policy of releasing names? And what should media outlets be doing with them? Let's get a discussion going by posting your thoughts below.One final thing - please don't drink and drive.www.mikeoncrime.com
  • Is this justice?

    nov1607-gavel[1].jpg Read the following summary of a bizarre case out of the United States and tell me what you think. It certainly got our phone lines buzzing during my "Crime and Punishment" radio show this past weekend, with opinion pretty much split down the middle.Here's what happened:Three men looking for drugs break into a home in the middle of the night, waking the sleeping family inside.Violence erupts when the homeowner and his stepson confront the intruders. The stepson is brutally beaten, and his father is able to grab a gun and open fire.ALeqM5iCIGbGM3_7Qs1PKXRT7GVc9gVHeQ.jpg Two of the robbers are shot and killed. The third escapes, but is arrested by police a short time later.Police and prosecutors decide not to charge the homeowner for the two deaths, saying he had a right to defend his family and his property.The surviving robber is, of course, charged with the home invasion. As he should be.Now here's where this story gets a little strange.ALeqM5izEjdtBDNETvjhnA5-mdLQzwRzqQ.jpg In a truly remarkable development, suspect Renato Hughes is also hit with two counts of murder for the deaths of his co-accused.District Attorney Jon Hopkins concedes Hughes never physically laid a hand on the two deceased. But he said the Provocative Act law doesn't require prosecutors to prove there was an intenton to kill.Hughes was responsible for “setting the whole thing in motion by his actions and the actions of his accomplices", he said.This case is generating a lot of controversy for the following reasons:-The family victimized by the home invasion is white;-The three intruders are black;-The crime occurred in predominently white community.The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) complained prosecutors came down too hard on Hughes.amosbrown[1].jpg Rev. Amos Brown, head of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP and pastor at Hughes’ church, went even further by saying the laying of murder charges shows the justice system is "racist."Brown was a guest on mine on the radio program Sunday night and questioned why Hughes is facing a double murder charge while the robbery victim who fired the fatal shots is walking free. Brown suggested the outcome would be different if it was a black homeowner killing two white intruders.Here's where I stand on this:I don't believe the homeowner should be charged. He had every right to fight back as soon as thugs decided to invade his property and terrorize his family.But I do have a problem with pinning murder charges on the surviving intruder. Throw the book at him for the robbery and assault of the stepson, but going beyond that is taking a sharp detour from common sense in my opinion.As I said off the top, we took quite a few phone calls on this one and the public seemed pretty divided.So what do you think? Should the intruder have been charged with murder? The homeowner? Nobody??Post your thoughts below.
  • Can you help solve a murder?

    crime-stoppersLOGO.gif Winnipeg Crime Stoppers is looking for your help solving a number of recent murders.Video segments featuring re-enactments of these slayings are now being posted on my www.mikeoncrime.com site, which you can view directly by clicking HERE.The newest video, just posted this week, involves the August 2007 killing of 17-year-old Fonassa Bruyere.mb-fonassa-bruyere[1].jpg The teen was found dead in a bushy area in the northwest corner of Winnipeg. She was last seen Aug. 8 in the North End and her family reported her missing Aug. 11. Police have said she was involved is street sex trade.Other homicide videos are coming soon.As well, Crime Stoppers is doubling up its cash awards to a maximum of $4,000 for tips that leads to arrests. This special offer runs until Jan. 31.Tips and information can now be provided to Winnipeg Crime Stoppers at 786-TIPS, or online by clicking HERE.Winnipeg Crime Stoppers has helped solve 21 homicides since its inception in 1984, and is internationally recognized for efficiency and results. Over $82 million has been recovered in value of crimes solved.
  • Think of Amanda

    n6244130241_7131[1].jpg The holiday season is upon us. That means celebrations will soon be in full swing - from family gatherings to office parties.No doubt alcohol will be flowing at many of these functions. And, if recent history is any indication, a few innocent people are likely going to lose their lives to a drunk driver.We all hear the messages. "Don't drink and drive" is repeatedly drilled into our heads. Yet that doesn't stop some from getting behind the wheel when they're clearly in no condition.So here's a sobering reminder for you - or anyone you know - to hopefully avoid causing a tragic of epic proportions.I introduce you today to the friends and family of Amanda Frizzley, a vibrant young Winnipeg woman who was killed Sept. 30.Her tow truck was hit head-on by a vehicle traveling the wrong way down a one way street. Alcohol and speed are believed to be factors.Police have now charged a 21-year-old Winnipeg man with several offences including impaired driving causing death and criminal negligence. He remains before the courts and must be presumed innocent.Frizzley, 26, was so full of life and clearly missed by all who knew her. I've posted a sampling of what has been sent my way in the past few days, in hopes it will put a face on the kind of tragedy we read about all too often.Feel free to post your own thoughts - on Amanda or any other personal anecdote - below. It might just be enough to make someone out there think twice over the holidays.(A reminder - posts which are legally "dicey" will have to be deleted so please refrain from personal comments or opinions about any accused people)*****I am writing you on behalf of a friend. A friend who can not speak for herself, although if she was still on this earth today, I know she would. I am writing on behalf of Amanda Kae Frizzley who was killed on September 30, 2007. Mandy worked for Dr.Hook, and was working an extra shift to clear cars for the run for the cure....and was training a driver, another friend. As the truck crossed York avenue, my friend and passenger barely had time to yell Mandy's name as a Jimmy smashed into her tow truck on the drivers side. The impact that followed sent a 1 ton tow truck onto its roof...throwing Mandy from it in the process. My other friend scrambled from the rubble of the overturned tow truck, and screamed Mandy's name....he found her just feet from her truck on the pavement. A cross is painted at that spot now, with her Hook call number 403... She was the light in so many people, and animal's lives, and that light was taken from us. Amanda will never grace us with her presence again. What I am writing to you about today is what can be done so that there is not another case like Amanda's again. I wish you had gotten a chance to meet Mandy, she was an amazing person. Please help us and help the justice system do the right thing. Thank you for your time. A friend forever of a beautiful person named Amanda.-Jennifer Sych*****Amanda is my best friend's sister. She was amazing, funny as hell, and absolutely lovely in her entirety. This was awful, it's hurt alot of people.-Marnie Cahill*****I pray every day that justice can be served on this matter.....Mandy and I were very close, and I know that if this had happened to someone else, she would be fighting for (the person responsible) to serve time for what was done.-Crystal Garneau
  • Are you going to watch the video?

    450_taser2_react_071114[1].jpg The dramatic video showing a Polish immigrant being tasered to death by police inside a Vancouver airport has now been released to the public.You can watch it - either in edited or unedited form - by clicking HERE.The question is, will you?Here's what Winnipeg Free Press editor Margo Goodhand had to say in her daily news bulletin about the difficult choice facing people:"Those who choose to watch it will likely defend their choice because of the variables involved: Was the man clearly endangering the officers who wielded the weapon? Was it justifiable force? Those who refuse to watch the man's dying moments will choose to do so on their own ethical and moral grounds. But in the age of YouTube, control over images like these continues to shift from news corporations to the individual. You decide."I'm curious to know what you plan to do? And, if you watched it, what your conclusions are? Were police justified in tasering the man? Or was this over the line?Post your thoughts below.
  • Teen's suicide leads to many questions

    Should a child be allowed to continue with living with a parent who is facing a murder charge - and the victim is the other parent?That's the question many are asking these days in the wake of a tragic Manitoba case.In case you missed my story in Wednesday's Free Press - click HERE to read - a 14-year-old girl took her own life early Tuesday morning.The suicide happened just hours before the girl's mother was set to appear in court on a second-degree murder charge for the stabbing death of the girl's father.The slaying happened in a northern Aboriginal community two years ago. The suspect's lawyer tells me her client has been living with her daughter ever since while out on bail.In fact, the teen has even attended some of her mother's court appearances in an apparent show of support.Now, I don't profess to know the intimate details of this killing or what the woman's potential defence(s) may be.But what I do know is that allowing a young girl to continue living in the home environment with the parent accused of killing the other parent isn't exactly a recipe for a stable environment.Did this play into the fact the girl tragically killed herself this week? Who knows. But it certainly doesn't look good.My colleagues at the Free Press, Lindor Reynolds and Mia Rabson, did an extremely thorough job recently exposing the many flaws which exist in Child and Family Services.There seems to be a particular problem in the area of native CFS, where a "keep the family unit together at all costs" mentality clearly exists in many cases that have ended in tragedy.Looks like we've now got another one to add to the list.What are your thoughts?Are you angry this teen girl wasn't put into foster care while her mother was awaiting trial?Or do you think keeping them together in the wake of an obvious family tragedy - albeit one allegedly caused by the mother - was the best of a bad situation?
  • The decision is yours

    scales_of_justice[1].jpg We played an interesting game on my national "Crime and Punishment" radio show Sunday that got the phone lines buzzing - and now I'd like to give you a chance to weigh in here in Blogworld.In a nutshell, I posed two very different set of real-life facts and then asked callers to decide what they would do if put in the position of making the call.Read them both, then post your thoughts and see how they compare to what others think.CASE A - THE ELDERLY WAR HERO TURNED CHILD MOLESTERA 76-year-old Korean war veteran has recently been found guilty of repeatedly sexually abusing his daughter and niece.The attacks occurred more than 40 years ago but were only reported to police in 2004.The Crown is seeking a six-year prison sentence. The defence has asked for a conditional penalty that allows the man to remain free in the community.His health is a major issue - he has had 28 operations, is battling diabetes and heart problems and may not have long to live.The Crown has told the judge to disregard any medical issues and focus on punishing the man for his crimes, which have left both victims emotionally scarred for life.The defence says a jail sentence will be a death sentence, and the man deserves leniency based on his age and health, the passage of time from when the crimes occurred and the fact he doesn't pose a risk to society.Queen's Bench Justice Murray Sinclair has reserved his decision. (Read story HERE)The majority of radio callers had no pity for the senior and said he deserves to be severely punished, despite his current condition. One very emotional man called in, identified himself as a victim of childhood sex abuse and told listeners about his daily struggles in the many years which have passed.If the call was yours, what would his sentence be? And why?CASE #2 - THE 10-YEAR-OLD WILDFIRE ARSONIST It may be one of the most costliest cases of playing with matches we've ever seen.Authorities in California say a 10-year-old boy is responsible for one of the major wildfires which recently ripped through 155 square kilometres of land and destroyed 21 houses in the process.834t[1].jpg The kid - described by those who know him as a quiet, polite boy - apparently started a small blaze outside his mobile home. Dry, hot conditions combined with a strong wind quickly turned his work into a massive, out-of-control inferno.Now a debate is raging - should prosecutors charge him with a crime? (Read story HERE)We couldn't have this debate in Canada, as the boy is too young to face sanctions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. But it's a different story down south.Some legal experts say they could never prove such a young child could be aware of the consequences of his actions - something they'd need to do to make an arson and/or negligence charge stick.Callers to the radio show were somewhat divided on this one, although more seemed to side with the child and said he shouldn't suffer legal hardship for what amounts to a tragic mistake. Others weren't so forgiving, saying the boy must have known what he was doing and should be hauled into court. Some suggested his parents should as well, and they should be forced to foot the multi-million dollar damage bill.Imagine you're the prosecutor here - would you charge the kid? And why (or why not)?I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts.
  • What's the Guvernator been smoking?

    arnold-schwarzenegger-big[1].jpg Arnold Schwarzengger has always been known for his brawn - and not his brain.So I suppose none of us should be very surprised that the former Hollywood action star turned California governor has a habit of sticking his foot in his mouth every once in a while.In case you missed it, Arnie recently told the British edition of GQ magazine that marijuana is not a drug. (Read full story HERE)So what exactly does the man who should be trying to terminate drugs of all kinds in his crime-riddled state think pot is exactly?leaf[1].jpg "A leaf."Schwarzenegger goes on to have a total recall of his past and admits he used marijuana in the 1970s but denies ever taking drugs."My drug was pumping iron, trust me," says the one-time kindergarten cop.Sounds to me like Schwarzengger is clearly telling some true lies here.039_23686~Arnold-Schwarzenegger-Posters[1].jpg Agree with Arnie? Or do you think he's just blowing smoke? Post your thoughts below and click HERE to vote in my latest website jury poll.

About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.


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