Mike on Crime
with Mike McIntyre
- HERE)"We're being kept in the dark here," Crystal's husband, Robert Taman, told me Wednesday outside court.That is absolutely pathetic, especially for a province that claims to care so strongly about the interests of victims.*Why were drunk driving charges dropped against Derek Harvey-Zenk, the former Winnipeg police officer who smashed into Taman's car and killed her in February 2005? There seems to be no question that Harvey-Zenk refused police demands for a breathalyzer. So then why was he given a free pass on that charge?*What exactly did the East St. Paul police do - or not do - that resulted in the Crown apparently having no choice but to drop the drunk driving charges? It's clear that something happened. But nobody is saying a word. And given the recent controversies surrounding the East St. Paul detachment, a full explanation must be given and fast.*Why did private lawyer Marty Minuk - who was hired as special Crown prosecutor in this case to avoid any perceptions of a conflict of interest - agree to recommend a conditional sentence for Harvey-Zenk? There are many documented cases where the Crown has sought jail against a driver in a similar situation. Why not this time?*Why did this case drag through the courts for 30 months before anything happened? This was ridiculous, even for the normally slow-moving wheels of justice. They never even got to the stage of having a preliminary hearing, or setting trial dates.*Why did Minuk order an "independent investigation" of the original police probe into Taman's death? And what, if anything, did they find? Minuk made reference to this during Wednesday's sentencing but gave no other details, which only raised more troubling questions.The final question - should Harvey-Zenk go to jail for killing Taman? - will be answered in a couple weeks.Provincial court Chief Judge Ray Wyant clearly has a difficult task ahead of him. It's clear he's considering jumping the deal, but he's also aware the Manitoba Court of Appeal usually ends up having something to say when judges don't go along with the joint-recommendation of experienced lawyers.Richard Wolson, the lawyer representing Harvey-Zenk, made a not-so-subtle comment to Wyant on this very subject when he pointed out that he and Minuk "have a combined 65 years experience."The underlying message in that statement - be very careful about second guessing what we're doing here.Yet the public - and especially Taman's family - have every right to question what is happening in this case.So what do you think? Are you satisfied with the way this case is being handled? Should Harvey-Zenk - a clearly remorseful individual with no prior criminal record - be thrown in jail?Post your thoughts below.As well, I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to read the very powerful victim impact statements from Taman's husband and three children.We've obtained full transcripts at the Free Press and posted them online, which you can read by clicking HERE. Make sure you have a box of Kleenex nearby.You can also click HERE to see some video of Robert Taman speaking outside of court on Wednesday.Let's get the discussion on this case going - a lot of powerful people in the justice system are reading this blog so your voice will be heard.www.mikeoncrime.com
- HERE)Yet Bell doesn't have to worry about missing a single game this upcoming NHL season - because a judge is allowing him to wait to enter the legal penalty box until the off-season.And with time off for good behaviour, Bell will likely be out in time for next year's training camp.Is this a case of Bell, a pro athlete, getting special treatment?Perhaps, but not necessarily.I've seen judges delay sentencing people to jail in a handful of cases over the years, based on the fact they were working at the time and needed to finish a job, fulfill a contract, or get their affairs in order, so to speak.In Bell's case, his employment happens to be as a multi-million dollar hockey player, which certainly gets his case far more attention than that of the average Joe.One of the key factors of jail is supposed to be rehabilitation. And judges will say that holding down a job is considered a positive step in that direction.Now, there's an obvious difference here between a hockey player like Bell and a common citizen which will no doubt have some gritting their teeth.Bell's skills likely wouldn't diminish to any degree based on serving his sentence now, and one would expect he would be just as employable once he's released, despite the conviction hanging over him.Joe Citizen, meanwhile, might have a much harder time explaining to his boss why he can't come to work for the next six months. And an even harder time finding someone to trust him enough to give him another chance when he's out.In that sense, the Mark Bells of the world are getting a much easier ride from the courts.What do you think? Post your thoughts below, and go to my website HERE and cast your vote in my new Jury Poll.
- HERE to see video of the funeral service that I shot.I will say this - contrary to my blog earlier this week about an expected lack of media coverage, I've been pleasantly surprised to see the story picked up across Canada. CTV National and the Globe and Mail even popped into Pauingassi for a few hours on Tuesday.Feel free to keep the discussion going by posting your thoughts on the case below. I'm especially interested to hear what you think about his three young killers after you read about their backgrounds in Thursday's paper.And what to make of the bootlegging situation, and the fact so-called "leaders" are apparently turning a blind eye to the import of alcohol into the supposedly dry reserve?
- HERE)Or the collective shrug of the shoulders this horrific story is likely going to get from the vast majority of the country.Am I being too harsh?I only wish. But I fear this case - and the social ills which surely contribute to such a shocking attack - likely won’t even attract a blip on the national radar.If this happened in a major centre - especially an eastern-based city - it would be all over the news.But it didn’t happen in Toronto, or even Timmins. It happened in Pauingassi, a place few Canadians probably even know exists and even less could actually point out on a map.I’ve been to the remote reserve, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. The place is filled with poverty, abuse, neglect, and a sense of hopelessness.And, obviously, a lack of respect for human life, even at the seemingly tender age of a young child.The facts surrounding Adam Keeper’s death are appalling. And they should serve as a wake-up call to all Canadians about the disturbing conditions on so many remote native reserves.Yet I suspect most people will simply hit the snooze button.I brought this issue up during my “Crime and Punishment” radio show Sunday evening, and many callers agreed with my suggestion that the story will likely be downplayed in a major way.It already has been, with nary a trace of it to be found on several national news websites.I wondered aloud if it’s because both the victim and his attackers are native and the incident happened in some faraway reserve.Out of sight, out of mind.Several agreed race and location are likely factors.One caller suggested it isn’t the fact the victim was native, but that the attackers were. He suggested the story would be a “big deal” if it was white kids killing a native boy.Many questioned the role of the parents, as so often happens in cases where kids run wild.And, to my surprise, quite a few people felt the killer kids should face criminal charges - despite the fact the oldest boy is still three years shy of being eligible for legal consequences. (Click HERE to vote and view my latest Jury Poll on the issue)Me? I was just glad people were talking about the case. And I truly hope that continues.We all have a role to play.As a member of the media, it’s important I don’t gloss over something so serious in favour of the latest Paris, Britney or Lindsay update and do what I can to push for answers and keep the story alive.As a member of the public, I think you owe it to yourself to care deeply about something so tragic. We all live in one world, and stories like this remind us there is much work to be done.Let’s keep the discussion going by posting your thoughts below. A lot of people involved in all aspects of the justice system read this blog so your voice is being heard, loud and clear.Do you agree stories like this don’t get the attention they deserve? Is race a factor? What should be done with these kids? Do they have any kind of future? And what about the parents?
- Winnipeg Free Press, Canwest newspapers across Canada and on my website at www.mikeoncrime.com.Stay tuned...
- HERE)Hiebert was handed a life sentence - with no chance of parole for at least 10 years - after being caught trying to smuggle two kilograms of cocaine inside several pairs of shoes.Now a group of friends and family members are trying to bring Hiebert home by lobbying the federal government to step in and pressure Greek authorities to transfer him to a much more comfy Canadian prison.They believe his punishment is excessive for a young man who made a terrible mistake in a foreign country. And they'd like to get him back on Canadian turf so he could at least get some visitors and, likely, be paroled much earlier then he will overseas.His supporters have even started up a "Free Kevin Hiebert" campaign on Facebook.Ryan McDonald, Hiebert's long-time friend, joined me on my national "Crime and Punishment" radio show Sunday night to discuss the situation.Once we were done, the phone lines started lighting up the second I asked listeners whether they believed Hiebert had gotten a raw deal. Not a single person called to offer their support. Everyone felt Hiebert is getting exactly what he deserves and the federal government better not waste a second lobbying on his behalf.Once I shut the calls down and moved on to another topic, the e-mails began flowing. They were all anti-Hiebert.Here's one of them, which nicely summarizes the feelings of most."Mike...Anyone who wants this creep back in Canada should:1. Put up at least $100,000 to cover costs of government people trying to get him transferred here.2. At least $100,000 per year for costs of keeping him in jail here for the rest of his Canadian incarceration.3. At least a $1 million bond that he will not get into further trouble with the law after he is let out on the streets."Yikes.I was surprised, figuring the plight of a Canadian in a foreign prison would at least garner a bit of sympathy. Especially for a young man who's already served a sentence that would probably be longer than anything he'd get here at home for a similar crime.We probably all know someone who's been touched by drugs, and the results usually aren't pretty. And the vast majority of all criminal activity - from gangland shootouts to having your house broken into or car stolen - is connected in some way, shape or form to drugs.I don't lose much sleep worrying about fate of people who've been caught - and punished - for trying to peddle the poison. And it's clear not a lot of you do either. Let's keep the discussion going. Post your thoughts on Hiebert below - does anyone out there feel sorry for him? Think he deserves another chance? Want to see him back in Canada? You can also click HERE to vote in my latest website jury poll.
- CLICK HERE to vote on this issue in my latest "Jury Poll".
- HERE to read it.We've also posted the nine victim impact statements tendered in court, including statements from both boys, their parents and siblings. They are powerful, heartbreaking and a must read. Click HERE to do so.And stay tuned. I'm not done with this case yet. Far from it.(Got a thought you'd like to share? Post it below)www.mikeoncrime.com
- HERE to cast your vote in my latest website Jury Poll, which asks you to pick from one of several sentencing ranges. I'm curious to know what you all think.
- HERE)One happened outside a downtown nightclub early Saturday morning, in which police were on scene investigating a disturbance when a man began shooting another man, then fired at officers. Police responded with bullets, wounding the alleged shooter. He is expected to survive. The second occurred early this morning in River Heights, following a brief chase of an apparent robbery suspect. The circumstances aren't entirely clear yet, but it appears at least two shots were fired. The suspect was injured, but it also expected to make a full recover.There has also been what will likely turn out to be a homicide, with a body found dumped on the northwest outskirts of the city.And no less than four serious stabbings spread around the city, and police have also managed to make arrests in two recent unsolved slayings.Of course, this doesn't even begin to touch who knows how many property crimes - from break-and-enters to car thefts - also occurred. And we know, from my colleague Bruce Owen's recent series of stories, that many members of the public no longer even bother to call these ones in, knowing police have much more pressing matters to deal with and likely don't have the time, or resources, to respond in any kind of effective way.The ultra-violent weekend should send a very loud and clear message to Katz, and other politicians.There are no quick fixes. Crime is everywhere. And it's not going away anytime soon.Applying a band-aid to a wounded North End neighbourhood may have kept things quiet for a few days, but what about the rest of the city?Police have been calling for extra resources for years. Police have also been saying - with good reason - about an increasing level of violence and the fact officers are finding themselves under attack with greater frequency.The list of problems is endless. Drug abuse. Poverty. Poor parenting. Disenfranchised youth. And what many see as a toothless justice system.Until our local, provincial and federal leaders start addressing those issues in a serious, long-term way and putting their money with their mouths are, we are likely to see many more weekends like that one we just came through.Got a thought on this issue? An idea on how to better address the problem? Make your voice heard and post it below.www.mikeoncrime.com
- WBBM had a doozy land on their doorstep.Somehow, video was obtained of a female reporter from rival WMAQ inside the home of a man whose estranged wife went missing under mysterious circumstances in April.The reporter - who's been covering the story for her station - was clad in a bikini top and towel. The bare-chested husband was beside her.Yowza! Talk about a story with legs.I've been encouraged by editors in the past to try and flesh out a story - but I don't think this is what they had in mind!The reporter, Amy Jacobson, has been fired. Her journalistic career may be in shambles. Although you know it's the American way to try and cash in on a scandal so we likely haven't see the last of her.You can read the full story by clicking HERE.And I ask you to weigh in on the question that no doubt is bouncing around many newsrooms and journalism schools as we speak.Did Amy Jacobson actually do anything wrong? After all, nobody's accusing her of sleeping with the husband. Or doing anything other than attend what appears to be an informal pool party on her day off, even bringing her two children with her for a swim.Some might call that good journalism. Cultivating sources is a major part of what we do to develop the stories delivered to you on a daily basis.You do lunches, drinks, maybe play a round of golf every now and then. It's pretty standard stuff.So why is Jacobson now looking for work?If I were to go out for dinner one evening with a woman whose husband was missing, with the purpose of developing a bond and getting a story, would I have crossed some line?Now what if one of my female colleagues were to do the same thing, but with the husband of a missing woman?It shouldn't make any difference. Yet I can't help but think it would make ALL the difference based on what's happening here.Of course, this wasn't a dinner meeting. It was a pool party. And Jacobson is being grilled for her attire, although was she expected to wear a business suit to go swimming? And once again, would there have been any issue if the genders were reversed?Post your thoughts below. And click HERE to cast your vote on this issue in my latest website jury poll.
- "Killer Kids" piece on Wednesday revealed a record number of Manitoba teens have been charged with homicides in the past 18 months.And my "Teen Rampage" story in Friday's paper has plenty of people fuming because the 17-year-old who randomly selected nine innocent, vulnerable victims to brutalize was spared an adult sentence.However, as bad as things might seem here in Canada, a quick glance at our neighbours to the south is always good for some perspective.There were three separate stories out of the United States on Friday alone which blew me away. Here's a summary: 1. WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Two teenagers were accused of gang raping a woman and forcing her 12-year-old son to join in the attack, then beating him and pouring cleaning solution into his eyes.Authorities allege Avion Lawson and Nathan Walker, 16, were among a group of about 10 masked suspects who forced their way into the woman’s apartment in a crime-ridden housing project.The two were being held without bail Friday on suspicion of armed sexual battery by multiple perpetrators, sexual performance by a child, armed home invasion and aggravated battery. Both were arrested this week, but formal charges had not been filed. Authorities said the two would be charged as adults.“Any rape case is horrible but this takes it to another level, something you can’t think of even in your worst dreams,” police spokesman Ted White said.READ FULL STORY BY CLICKING HERE*** 2. ENID, Oklahoma (AP) — Detectives arrested a 12-year-old girl and her 10-year-old sister for allegedly abducting their neighbor’s 1-year-old son and demanding $200,000 for his return.Brandon Wells was back at home Thursday night, hours after intruders broke into his family’s residence and took him while his mother, Sheila Wells, slept, police said.“I’ve been doing this 18 1/2 years, and this is the first time I know of when a 10- and a 12-year-old kidnapped a 1-year-old,” said police Capt. Dean Grassino. “It definitely ranks up there with the unusual crimes.”The siblings, who were not identified because of their ages, are accused of sneaking into Wells’ home at about 5:30 a.m., taking Brandon and leaving a ransom note.“If you want to see your son again then you won’t call police and report him missing and you will leave $200,000 on the sofa tonight and we will return your son back safe,” the note read, according to police.The note was signed, “the kidnappers.”READ FULL STORY BY CLICKING HERE*** 3. ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (AP) — Police who chased a car along a highway at speeds up to 160 km/h said the driver was drunk, hardly a rarity in this resort town. But there was more: When they looked inside the flipped vehicle with guns drawn, they found an 11-year-old girl at the wheel.“You go up there thinking it’s a felon you’re dealing with,” assistant police Chief Greg Duck said.The girl, who was slightly injured in the crash, is now charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, reckless endangerment and leaving the scene of an accident.Duck said she sideswiped another vehicle during the 13-kilometre chase.The chase began around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when a patrol officer near the Florida line saw the car speeding west along a beach highway, Duck said. When the officer flicked on his lights, the driver sped up. The girl rolled the car just inside the Gulf Shores city limit.READ FULL STORY BY CLICKING HERE***So, do these horror stories change your views at all about youth crime in Canada? Or do they simply show that kids are out of control on both sides of the border?Post your thoughts below - and join me this Sunday night, 7-9 p.m. CST, for my national "Crime and Punishment" radio show across the Corus and Rawlco radio networks where we'll be talking about all these cases and plenty more.www.mikeoncrime.com
- HERE for full story and stats)14 Manitoba youths have already been charged with murder or manslaughter in the first six months of 2007.That already exceeds the 12 we saw in 2006.And the 7 in 2005. I've never been one to put much stock in homicide rates, as they tend to go up and down based on a variety of circumstances. Much of it has to do with luck and the miracles of modern medicine which can make all the difference between living and dying on the mean streets.However, I find the youth numbers extremely alarming. And not just the stats, but the details of the crimes they are being charged with.Killing seems to be almost a thrill sport these days for some groups of youths. Consider the following cases.*Seven teens have been charged with second-degree murder for a brutal, mob-style attack that left a 22-year-old man dead in pool of his own blood in St. Theresa Point last month.*In May, two teen girls, aged 13 and 15, were accused of participating in the beating death of a 22-year-old Pauingassi First Nation woman.*On Valentine’s Day, a 16-year-old boy and three young adults were charged with murder after an 18-year-old man was killed and a 15-year-old critically injured during a day-long gang fight in Garden Hill.*On New Year’s Eve, three teens aged 13 to 16 along two adults were charged with beating a man to death on the Chemawawin Cree Nation.These kinds of pack attacks aren't just happening on remote reserves, either:*Last October, three girls and a boy, aged 12 to 15, were accused of swarming 34-year-old Audrey Cooper and brutally beating her to death in Winnipeg's West End.Friends of the arrested youths told the Free Press they weren’t surprised by the level of violence police say occurred. Calling themselves the “Westsiders”, a group of about 60 youths wander the West End at night, “juicing up” on alcohol and picking fights with whoever happens to cross their path. On the night of Oct. 21 it was Cooper who crossed their path. She was simply walking home after picking up some groceries.*The same sorry circumstances were involved the June 2006 group beating death of 45-year-old Peter Debungee, who was attacked at random outside the downtown Maryland Hotel just moments after buying beer.A 16-year-old boy - who has since pleaded guilty and got 18 months of jail - and several others had been causing trouble in the area all day, including picking fights with strangers.Debungee died of massive head injuries after he was beaten unconscious and dragged by a mob on to McGee Street, where his head was placed on a curb and repeatedly stomped on.Just because they could, I guess.Why aren't we hearing more about this? Why aren't members of the public and politicians crying out for new laws, more enforcement, greater responsibilities for potential victims?I'm not trying to downplay car theft. It is a massive problem, and the truth is most members of the public are more likely to have their vehicle swiped from their driveway then to be curb-stomped by a pack of blood-thirsty teens. Yet this disregard for human life that we are seeing and the fact 26 youths have been charged with taking a life in the past 18 months doesn't exactly bode well for the future, does it?So what can be done? How do we prevent the vicious circle from continuing, from a whole new generation of killers being raised in our cities and communities?Your suggestions are welcome. Your interest - and concern - should be mandatory.
- HERE.Click HERE for a very interesting timeline of events put together by WWE.Click HERE for a very good Sports Illustrated read calling for congress to force WWE to clean up their act.There are two wrestling-related websites which stand above all the others for their accuracy and integrity, in my opinion. Both have been doing excellent work reporting this story. California-based Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer can be found HERE, while Minnesota-based Wade Keller's Pro Wrestling Torch can be found HERE.Click HERE to get details on a previous restraining order filed by Nancy Benoit against Chris Benoit in 2003.I will post others as they come to my attention. And keep checking this blog - and my www.mikeoncrime.com website - for all the latest details.
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.
Blogs that Mike McIntyre follows:
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