TIME Crime

Dustin Diamond Convicted of Misdemeanors in Stabbing

Dustin Diamond stabbing conviction
AP This Dec. 26, 2014 file photo provided by the Ozaukee County, Wis., Sheriff shows Dustin Diamond, the actor who played Screech in the 1990s TV show "Saved by the Bell."

The Saved by the Bell actor was cleared of the more serious felony charge

(PORT WASHINGTON, Wis.)—TV actor Dustin Diamond was convicted Friday of two misdemeanors stemming from a barroom fight, but a Wisconsin jury cleared the former Saved by the Bell actor of the most serious felony charge.

The jury’s verdict came just hours after the 38-year-old actor testified that he never intended to stab anyone in the fight last Christmas Day. He had pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of recklessly endangering public safety, plus two misdemeanors — carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct.

The first misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of nine months in prison, the second a maximum of 90 days in prison.

Diamond didn’t display emotion at the jury’s decision Friday night. He told reporters he couldn’t comment as he left the courtroom after a 13-hour day of testimony and jury deliberations.

Diamond, who played the character Screech on the popular 1990s show, said some people had wanted to shake his hand and pose for photos at the bar, but that others were badgering him and his girlfriend, Amanda Schutz. He said he was trying to scare bar patrons in Port Washington after his girlfriend was punched in the face.

“I felt like we were being set up for antagonistic purposes,” he said.

Witnesses testified that Schutz pushed one woman at the bar and grabbed another woman’s hand, initiating the incident. Schutz also faces a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.

Diamond said he tried to help Schutz and took out his pocketknife to deter the group from hurting her more.

The man who was stabbed, 25-year-old Casey Smet, testified Thursday that he didn’t know he had been stabbed until he had left the bar and was talking to police.

After maintaining a serious facade during most of the trial, Diamond grinned Friday when a defense attorney asked if he liked being compared to the character Screech. Diamond said he, like his character, enjoyed nerdy things. And Diamond said he liked being identified in public as the goofy television character.

“That means they love you,” Diamond said. “That means you’re doing your job.”

Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol argued Friday that Diamond lied about what happened and that the actor had scripted his testimony.

Gerol showed body-camera footage of Diamond’s testimony to a Port Washington police officer the night of the fight. In the video Diamond first said he might have struck Smet with a pen. In a video of testimony later that night, Diamond said he had a knife at the bar, but hadn’t used it to stab anyone.

No apparent “Saved by the Bell” fans sat in the galleries during the three-day trial. But another apparent fan, Diamond’s defense attorney Thomas Alberti, wrote “Good Luck to Dustin & Amanda” on his car window Wednesday ahead of the trial. Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy scolded Alberti and told him to remove it because it was “inappropriate.”

The jury also convicted Schutz with disorderly conduct Friday night. Schutz faces a maximum of 90 days in prison.

A sentencing date for Diamond and Schutz has not been announced.

Port Washington is 25 miles north of Milwaukee.

TIME Crime

Baltimore Police Union Chief Says Criminals ‘Empowered’ By Riots

Murder Spike Baltimore
Juliet Linderman—AP A Baltimore Police officer follows a man where a young boy and a 31-year-old woman were shot and killed May 28, 2015. In the month since Freddie Gray died and the city erupted in civil unrest, Baltimore has seen its murder rate skyrocket. There have been 38 murders in May alone.

As murders in the city spike and arrests plummet

Murders in Baltimore have reached the highest levels in 15 years, and the president of the city’s police union says it’s due to criminals feeling emboldened following the riots that broke out over the death of Freddie Gray last month.

“We’ve accomplished a lot of things over the last 10, 15 years and now we’re going backwards because the criminals are empowered,” says Lt. Gene Ryan, president of Baltimore city’s Fraternal Order of Police. “The criminal element is taking advantage of the crisis. They don’t believe there’s any recourse.”

On Thursday, two more people were found shot and killed in the city, the 37th and 38th homicides in May, the highest mark for Baltimore since November 1999. That spike in murders has coincided with a drastic decrease in arrests, which are down 56% compared with last year, according to the Associated Press.

The decline in arrests comes weeks after six police officers were indicted last month in the death of Freddie Gray, who died April 19 in police custody from a severe spinal injury. Gray’s death sparked riots in late April that damaged businesses and injured dozens of police officers.

Ryan says that many officers are concerned that mistakes on the force could get them indicted too. “Officers are afraid of doing their job,” he says. “They’re more afraid of going to jail than getting shot and killed right now.”

He added that he’s currently putting together a report based on officer interviews focusing on how the protests turned violent.

TIME Crime

Hastert Indictment Offers Few Clues About Alleged Misconduct

Dennis Hastert agreed to pay Individual A from Yorkville $3.5 million to keep past misconduct quiet

CHICAGO — A newly unveiled indictment against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert accuses the Illinois Republican of agreeing to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep a person from the town where he was a longtime high school teacher silent about “prior misconduct.” But it offers few hints about a central question: What was the alleged wrongdoing?

The concise federal grand jury indictment handed down Thursday accuses Hastert, who once was second in line to the U.S. presidency, of agreeing to pay the money to a person identified in the document only as “Individual A,” to “compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against” that person.

It notes that Hastert, 73, was a high school teacher and coach from 1965 to 1981 in suburban Yorkville, about 50 miles west of Chicago. It goes on to say Individual A has been a resident of Yorkville, and has known Hastert most of Individual A’s life, but doesn’t describe their relationship.

Legal experts say the fact that federal prosecutors noted Hastert’s tenure in Yorkville in the indictment’s first few sentences strongly suggests some connection between the allegations and that time and place.

“Notice the teacher and coach language,” said Jeff Cramer, a former federal prosecutor and head of the Chicago office of the investigation firm Kroll. “Feds don’t put in language like that unless it’s relevant.”

The indictment charges Hastert with one count of evading bank regulations by withdrawing $952,000 in increments of less than $10,000 to skirt reporting requirements. He also is charged with one count of lying to the FBI about the reason for the unusual withdrawals.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hastert did not return email and phone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment on the allegations. Hastert, who had worked as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., since shortly after he left Congress in 2007, resigned from Dickstein Shapiro LLC, a spokesman for the lobbying and law firm said Thursday.

A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office announcing the indictment said Hastert will be ordered to appear for arraignment. The date was not immediately set.

The indictment alleges Hastert withdrew a total of around $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts from 2010 to 2014, then provided the money to Individual A.

The indictment says Hastert agreed to the payments after multiple meetings in 2010. It says that “during at least one of the meetings, Individual A and defendant discussed past misconduct by defendant against Individual A that had occurred years earlier” and Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to keep it quiet. The indictment suggests he never paid the full amount.

The indictment says that between 2010 and 2012 Hastert made 15 cash withdrawals of $50,000 from bank accounts at Old Second Bank, People’s State Bank and Castle Bank and gave cash to Individual A around every six weeks.

Around April 2012, bank officials began questioning Hastert about the withdrawals, and starting in July of that year, Hastert reduced the amounts he withdrew at a time to less than $10,000 — apparently so they would not run afoul of a regulation designed to stop illicit activity such as money laundering, according to the indictment.

Among the focuses of the FBI investigation was whether Hastert, in the words of the indictment, was “the victim of a criminal extortion related to, among other matters, his prior positions in government.” The court document does not elaborate.

Legal experts said extortion cases can be tricky.

In mulling over whom to charge, prosecutors often must decide whether the person being extorted or the person doing the extorting is most victimized, said Chicago-based attorney and former federal prosecutor Phil Turner.

“In most instances you would view someone being extorted as the victim because they are being shaken down,” he said. “But prosecutors have enormous discretion and, in some instance, may see the person doing the extortion as a greater victim. Those are factors that can be weighed.”

Investigators questioned Hastert on Dec. 8, 2014, and he lied about why he had been withdrawing so much money at a time, saying he did it because he didn’t trust the banking system, the indictment alleges.

“Yeah, … I kept the cash. That’s what I am doing,” it quotes Hastert as saying.

Hastert, who also maintains a home in the Chicago suburb of Plano several miles northwest of Yorkville, was a little-known lawmaker from suburban Chicago when chosen to succeed conservative Newt Gingrich as speaker. Hastert was picked after favored Louisiana Rep. Bob Livingston resigned following his admission of several sexual affairs.

As speaker, Hastert pushed President George W. Bush’s legislative agenda, helping pass a massive tax cut and expanding Medicare prescription drug benefits.

He retired from Congress in 2007 after eight years as speaker, making him the longest-serving Republican House speaker. He was second in line to the presidency during those years after the vice president.

David Corwin of Yorkville said his son, Scott, wrestled for Hastert in high school, then later became a wrestling coach himself.

“You won’t get anyone to say anything bad about him out here,” said David Corwin. “Everybody loved him. The kids loved him and they still do.”

Illinois has a long history of politicians getting in legal trouble.

Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. served a year and a half for illegally spending $750,000 in campaign funds on furs, vacations and other luxury items. Two successive governors in the 2000s, Republican George Ryan and Democrat Rod Blagojevich, were convicted on corruption charges.

In the Hastert case, it’s not clear whether the money was paid in relation to his former position in government. Hastert started making the payments to the person in about 2010, according to the indictment.

TIME U.K.

Rifle Linked to 7 Unsolved Murders Found on Display in London Museum

A man walks his dog past the newly re-opened Imperial War Museum in central London
Suzanne Plunkett —Reuters A man walks his dog past the newly re-opened Imperial War Museum in central London on July 16, 2014.

Authorities originally told relatives of victims that the weapon had been disposed of

An assault rifle tied to at least seven unsolved murders has been discovered on public display at the British Imperial War Museum in London, reports the BBC.

British investigators re-examining a plethora of paramilitary murders committed in Northern Ireland tracked down the VZ58 rifle to an exhibition at the museum dedicated to the period of ethnonationalist conflict in the region, commonly referred to as the Troubles.

A forensic examination conducted nearly two decades ago proved that the rifle was one of two weapons used in an attack on a Belfast betting shop in 1992. The weapon was also linked to the unsolved murders of two men in 1988, among other cases.

“I am absolutely shocked,” Billy McManus, whose father was murdered during the betting shop incident, told the BBC. “What does that say about their treatment of the case? They just don’t care.”

Authorities had originally told family members that the rifle had been “disposed of.”

Representatives from the museum said they received the gun from the Royal Ulster Constabulary Weapons and Explosives Research Center and were only told the weapon had been used during unspecified “events.”

Museum officials are reportedly working in tandem with internal investigators to see if any of other firearms in their collection might have also been tied to murder cases.

[BBC]

TIME Crime

Baltimore Sees Worst Month for Homicides in 15 Years

Homicide Spike Baltimore
Colin Campbell—AP Baltimore police pick up a pair of shoes after a double shooting on May 24, 2015. One month after riots erupted in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, homicides and shootings are up.

The spike coincides with a decrease in arrests

Thirty-eight people have been killed in Baltimore so far this month, making it the deadliest in 15 years for a city still recovering from the protests surrounding the death of Freddie Gray.

On Thursday, a woman and a young boy were shot and killed, becoming the 37th and 38th homicide victims this month, surpassing a record set in November 1999 when 36 people were killed.

While homicides tend to spike during the summer months, the increase in murders has coincided with an overall decrease in arrests made by the Baltimore Police Department.

According to the Associated Press, arrests in May are down 56% compared with last year, and it appears that officers are increasingly reluctant to detain suspects after six officers were indicted in the case of Freddie Gray, a black Baltimore man who died on April 19 in police custody.

TIME Crime

Which State Will Be Next to Abolish the Death Penalty?

Death Penalty Nebraska
Nate Jenkins—AP Nebraska's lethal injection chamber at the State Penitentiary in Lincoln, Neb. On May 27, Nebraska became the 19th state to repeal the death penalty.

Several more are primed to repeal capital punishment

Nebraska became the first Republican-leaning state in four decades to abolish the death penalty on Wednesday, the latest signal that momentum is on the side of those who oppose capital punishment. And in the next few years, it’s likely that several more states will outlaw the practice.

Delaware may be the next in line. Governor Jack Markell, a Democrat, has pledged to sign a death penalty repeal bill that has already passed the Senate and is currently in the majority Democratic House Judiciary Committee. That’s only if Montana or New Hampshire don’t get there first; state lawmakers in Montana fell one vote short of passing a bill to abolish the death penalty in February, reaching a 50-50 split on the bill after the Senate passed its own version. Similarly, the New Hampshire Senate also reached a deadlocked repeal vote in April 2014.

But there’s a whole list of states that might yet follow in Nebraska’s footsteps. The seven states that have now done away with capital punishment since 2007 all had one thing in common: they essentially had stopped using their execution chambers altogether. And six states with death penalty laws still on the books — Colorado, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wyoming—haven’t executed anyone in more than a decade.

“When you look at most repeals, they were all in states in which the death penalty had fallen into disuse,” says Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death penalty group. “Nebraska followed in the pattern of states in which the death penalty had been functionally discarded in practice.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 56% of Americans still support the death penalty, but that number is at its lowest in four decades. Opposition is coming not just from Democrats, who have historically opposed capital punishment, but increasingly from Republicans who believe the death penalty is too costly and does nothing to deter people from the most heinous of crimes.

In both Kansas and Wyoming — states which haven’t executed anyone in years — conservative lawmakers have introduced repeal legislation in both states, and in South Dakota, another red-leaning state, several conservative legislators have voiced support for doing away with capital punishment. Last year, legislators in the South Dakota House were one vote shy of getting a bill to the floor.

“The death penalty is no longer getting a pass,” says Diann Rust-Tierney, executive director for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “People may support the idea in the abstract, but when they see how it’s done, how it’s doing nothing to enhance public safety, and when they see innocent people being released from death row, they see that they can’t square it with their other values.”

TIME Crime

Tamir Rice’s Dad Hasn’t Told His Other Kids How Their Brother Died

"I can't see him grow up"

The father of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy fatally shot by police last year, said he’s struggling to tell his other children why their brother is no longer alive.

In his first public interview since Tamir’s death, Leonard Warner told NBC affiliate WKYC on Wednesday that he has no answer for the boy’s siblings.

“Every time they wake up, they asking about him … and they go to sleep, they asking about him,” said Warner, adding that he doesn’t give the kids details about how Tamir died.

“I can’t tell them, but he’s watching over you,” Warner said.

A Cuyahoga…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Crime

Minorities Far Likelier to Be Arrested for Minor Offenses in Minneapolis

Minneapolis police protests ferguson
Jim Mone—AP Demonstrators rally outside the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct to protest police brutality, on Nov. 25, 2014, in Minneapolis.

A new ACLU report finds significant racial disparities in low-level arrests

Black residents in Minneapolis are 8.7 times more likely than whites to get arrested for low-level offenses, according to a new ACLU report that looks at racial disparities made in arrests by Minneapolis police.

The study, which analyzes almost 100,000 arrests by the Minneapolis Police Department from January 2012 to September 2014, focuses on what is known in Minneapolis as “suspicious persons” stops but is in the vein of what’s often called “broken windows” or stop-and-frisk policing.

That strategy focuses on low-level offenses like trespassing and disorderly conduct as a way of preventing larger felonies, but is often criticized as ineffective and leads to patterns of racial profiling.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has often been held up as a model for other American cities: it’s affordable, it has all the cultural amenities of any major metropolis, and it’s remained a magnet for job-seeking millennials. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Minneapolis-St. Paul’s unemployment rate is the fifth lowest in the country for a metro area with more than 1 million people.

But patterns of segregation divide the city between more affluent white areas and poorer black ones, and the ACLU report shows that the city suffers the same problems as any other major metropolitan area when it comes to racial disparities and distrust among minorities and police.

“This is part of a larger problem between police departments and communities of color,” says Emma Andersson, an ACLU staff attorney and lead author of the report.

The study also examines the treatment of Native Americans, who are arrested 8.6 times more than whites for low-level offenses — almost the same rates as black residents. Native Americans make up 2% of the city’s population, roughly double the average Native American population in the U.S. According to the ACLU, an average of one out of four Native Americans in Minneapolis are arrested for low-level offenses each year.

Those arrest disparities raise concerns that Minneapolis could face similar issues to those that occurred in the last few months in Baltimore, Cleveland and Ferguson, Mo., where deadly police confrontations and years of distrust led to protests and violence.

“I think communities of color in Minneapolis certainly feel oppressed and targeted in the same ways communities in Baltimore and other places where unrest has occurred,” Andersson says.

TIME Crime

This Town Says a Ban on Mankinis Helped Reduce Crime

fistral beach newquay united kingdom
Matt Cardy—Getty Images Crowds gather on Fistral Beach on the second day of the Boardmasters surf and music festival in Newquay on August 7, 2014 in Cornwall, England.

The British town of Newquay hasn't looked back since it outlawed revealing swimwear for men

A British seaside town took an innovative approach to reducing crime and boosting tourism: it banned mankinis.

The town of Newquay had garnered a reputation as a hot spot for bachelor parties, the Press Association reports, and local law enforcement wanted to crack down on the binge drinking, public disorder and inappropriate clothing that usually accompany such events. So, they banned mankinis, or revealing bikini-style bathing suits for men — as seen in the movie Borat.

And, according to the town, it worked. “People expected to come to Newquay to drink a lot, behave irresponsibly,” Devon and Cornwall police inspector Dave Meredith said. “Certainly we have clamped down on that and the image of Newquay now has certainly curtailed some of that.”

“I remember back in the 2000s you couldn’t walk the streets on a Saturday without seeing someone wearing a mankini or what have you,” said the town’s mayor, Dave Sleeman. “I think we have turned the corner here.”

[Press Association]

TIME Crime

Why The Death Penalty Should Live

Adrianne Haslet Davis
Nicole O'Neil Photography Adrianne Haslet Davis

Haslet-Davis is a ballroom dancer, public speaker and philanthropist.

If you take lives, yours can be taken

I hadn’t put a lot of thought into the death penalty until I was lying on a sidewalk on Boylston Street two years ago. There, then, I believed that I was going to die and that my husband was already dead. But we’re still alive. I lost my leg below the knee; both of his legs were wounded. We are lucky.

When I woke up in the hospital, I decided not to use the name of the person on trial for the crimes against the two of us and more than 260 other people, including four murder victims, one of whom was 8 years old. Part of posttraumatic stress disorder is the feeling of losing control: one minute you’re holding your husband’s hand in beautiful, sunny Boston; the next, your life is changed forever. The killer never wanted to learn my name, so why should I learn his?

And I also decided early on that the death penalty was the verdict that I wanted for him. I believe in my heart of hearts that he knew exactly what he was doing the moment before he did it, and possibly months before that. Among other horrific charges, he used a weapon of mass destruction to intentionally harm and kill people.

You can’t use a weapon of mass destruction in the United States and not think that if you succeed, you’re going to face a federal jury and the possibility of the death penalty.

It must have been nice for him to be surrounded by a courtroom full of people fighting about whether he should live or die. None of us in Boston that day had such a luxury.

I testified in the penalty phase of the trial. When I was leaving the stand, I looked up and realized how close I was to him. I stood there and thought to myself, I wonder if he’s scared. I wonder if he’s scared that I’m this close. There didn’t seem to be security covering him. Nobody budged. Maybe it’s because of my tiny little arms that they didn’t think I could do much. I certainly know I really wanted to.

But I stood there. I stood there for myself, and I stood there for the survivor community, and I stood there for my husband, and I stood there for my left leg. Since that moment I feel like there’s a bit of closure for me. I’m never going to have to see him again.

Many in the survivor community feel like the death penalty offers a sense of justice being done. And that’s what his sentence felt like to me. I hope it also brings closure to those who lost loved ones that day. There are, of course, many in the survivor community who feel that he should spend his life in prison and sit in a cell and think about what he did. I don’t speak for everybody.

I hope that the death penalty in this case sets a precedent, and I hope that it’s a deterrent. I hope it sends a message from Boston and America: We don’t put up with terrorism or terrorists. You’re not going to get a bed or a television or an occasional phone call to your family. When you take lives, yours can be taken as well.

Nobody should ever have to go through what anyone in our Boylston Street family has. If anyone else is thinking of doing something like this, I hope they look long and hard at the sentence this guy got, and decide to change their minds and get the help that they need.

Haslet-Davis is a ballroom dancer, public speaker and philanthropist

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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