Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Reeling: Continued Infamy

Colfax police officer Indicted |
Homer, La. officers resign |
9 July 2009| Poverty Point Fraud Trial
|Racial tensions run high in Paris after charges dropped in murder case| Charges dismissed - Paris, Tx.| Louisiana:Ex-Iberville School Board Member arrested after protest| Second Homer Forum - US ATTY press release 052209

March marks N.O. teen's killing
'This is not acceptable. Every life is important'

At Baronne Street and Washington Avenue,Raphael mentioned the shooting nearby.

The Usual Suspects show up to cry foul in situations such as the following. However, the idea of a permeable mass-movement is beyond their grasp of reasoning. They do not understand and they never will.

But, this you must understand, Tonya Littlefeather is convicted and imprisoned, Michael Cobb is still in Angola & Mychal is still in the "pawnbrokers" shop! Torture in Our Own Backyard

This isn't the first instance of trouble at this facility. Oct 08 Alex Harris Story
Trio of convictions spark outcry

Written by Tiffany Flournoy
Friday, 24 April 2009

Concerns regarding cases of alleged injustices were expressed during an “urgent” community forum Wednesday at Mt. Zion CME Church, specifically those surrounding the Minden 3.

The Community Relations Service, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice and Civil Rights Investigator Irvin Robins were on hand to offer a listening ear.

The two-plus hour meeting, hosted by Concerned Citizens for Justice, touched a number of area judicial concerns for both Webster and Claiborne parishes. However, the session revolved around what some are calling the Minden 3 — Kelton Greenard of Minden, Arthur Henderson II of Cotton Valley and Anthony Combs of Homer.

In January, the trio was ordered to serve five years at hard labor in the Louisiana Department of Correction, with two years suspended after being found guilty in October 2008, of negligent homicide and cruelty to a juvenile in the death of former Hope Youth Ranch resident 12-year-old Alex Harris.

“In this case, I had some terrible circumstances and what I found is discriminatory prosecution,” said Jena 6 Attorney Louis Scott, who was present during Wednesday’s meeting.

Scott said in regards to this particular case, many people had the same, similar or greater responsibilities as those who stood trial.

“Many people were closer to what happened than people convicted. Some were convicted and others were not,” Scott said. “This case says more to me about the prosecution than most anybody else. It (case) speaks for itself. One man treated one way and the next treated another way — a classic definition of discrimination.”

The Rev. David Brown, who was in attendance during the evening session, said the electrocution of justice didn’t need to see the shock on his face when he heard the words “guilty on all counts,” referring to the verdict of the Minden 3.

Brown said the purpose of the open session was not to point fingers at anyone, but to further point out the evidence that has already been filed — all 62 pieces.

“Ninety-two percent of the pieces show three innocent young men in a way that is so innocent, I find it hard to just sit here,” Brown said. “If they look at the appeal, I believe in my heart, justice will be wearing the blindfold.”

The case is currently under appeal at the Second Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport, where it will be reviewed by three judges. These judges will be responsible for deciding whether there is sufficient evidence for a finding of guilt. They will also make determinations regarding technical issues, such as whether the hearsay testimony by a Louisiana State Trooper could have been used in court.

Greenard and Henderson are currently serving time at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center and Combs at David Wade Correctional Center. NW-La.News

Hope Youth Ranch Trial

Three Hope Youth Ranch employees were found guilty October 15 of negligent homicide and cruelty to a juvenile in connection to the death of facility resident Alex Harris.

Following three days of testimony, District Court Judge Parker Self found former HYR direct care workers Kelton Greenard of Minden, Arthur Henderson II of Cotton Valley and Anthony Combs of Homer guilty of the above charges in relation to the 12-year-old’s death.

Throughout the trial, testimony revealed that on Sept. 13, 2005 Harris, a resident of the residential treatment facility for boys, was ordered to serve in-school suspension — a form of punishment that involves performing outdoor chores. During the morning hours Harris, along with four to five other boys, were ordered to mow grass. Afterwards, the boys were made to run a pipeline – an activity not authorized by the facility.

Testimony revealed that during the run, Harris began to experience symptoms of environmental hyperthermia — heat stroke. When Harris attempted to get water, two other residents prevented him from doing so.

Harris’ symptoms worsened throughout the day as no staff or those in supervisory positions offered the boy any assistance. The events of that day, and the lack of intervention, led to the young boy’s death.

On the day in question, Greenard and Combs were in charge of the afternoon work detail. The third defendant, Henderson, visited the work site with Supervisor Willis Doyle.

Self said testimony presented during the trial convinced him that Harris was laid in the sun on the day of his death and that the defendants took no action on the boy’s behalf.

Self ordered a pre-sentence investigation with sentencing to be held December 15; however, as the pre-sentence investigation was not complete on that date, sentencing was postponed until Jan. 26, 2008.


Three sentenced in HYR death

Three men convicted of negligent homicide and cruelty to a juvenile were sentenced Monday.

Anthony Combs of Homer, Kelton Greenard of Minden and Arthur Henderson II of Cotton Valley were all sentenced to five years at hard labor on each count, all but three years suspended in the death of 12-year-old Alex Harris, a resident of Hope Youth Ranch. The sentences are to run concurrent.

The three defendants were given credit for time served. Once released from prison, they will be under active supervised probation for two years and each will pay a $1,500 fine plus court costs. These must be paid within their first year of probation.

Judge Parker Self also assigned 400 hours each of community service.

“I’ve heard no remorse and I’m going to make you put someone else above yourself,” said the judge, who handed down a guilty verdict in a trial by judge in October 2008.

All three stood before the judge with heads bowed.

On September 13, 2005, Harris was placed in in-school suspension, where he and a group of boys were taken on a disciplinary run and various work assignments. According to testimony at the trial, Harris began to lag behind the other boys and he fell to the ground. He was carried by some of the other boys, also residents at the ranch, until he vomited. A series of events followed which led to his death as a result of hyperthermia, otherwise known as heatstroke.

State Prosecutor Jack Montgomery said he felt the family was satisfied with the outcome.

“The family, I believe that they were satisfied with the sentence,” Montgomery said. “The grandfather made a victim’s statement and then he stayed because he wanted to see the three taken out of the courtroom.”

Before the sentence was handed down, the victim’s family was given an opportunity to make a statement. Charles Allen, grandfather of the victim, stood before the judge and spoke for his family – his wife Judy, and mother of the victim, Amber Harris.

“It’s impossible to put into words how this has affected my family,” he said. r would not wish this on anyone. Alex was far from perfect, otherwise he would not have been at Hope Youth Ranch, but he certainly didn’t deserve to be treated as he was. These children were in your care and you dropped the ball. You took so much from Alex – a chance to grow up and have a family of his own.”

After hearing a motion from the defense stating that the evidence presented in the pre-sentencing investigation were the same for both charges – negligent homicide and cruelty to a juvenile – Self weighed their defense. The defense alleged that these charges were double jeopardy.

Montgomery said he didn’t feel there was anything new, so the state stands by its case.

“If the sentence runs concurrent, then that will take away any motion of double jeopardy,” Montgomery said.

The judge agreed and the motion was denied.

The three defendants were given an opportunity to speak before sentencing, but all three declined.

Self said he’d spent a long time weighing the facts of the case, taking emotion and empathy out of the scenario. He said he may not make the victim’s family happy or the prosecutors happy, but he had to look at everything.

“The court takes very seriously its role in this matter. I had to look at the totality of the circumstances,” Self said. “We’re not just looking at acts, but omissions. I can’t change the events of that day, and I can’t bring Alex back.”

It was said in open court that each defendant would appeal the sentencing, and they each requested and received a $100,000 bond on each count until their appellate delays have run. According to Montgomery, the defendants are entitled to the bond after conviction at the court’s discretion. As of press time, all three defendants were incarcerated at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center in Minden.

Once the sentence was handed down, Combs fainted in the courtroom. An ambulance was called, but it was not clear whether he was taken to a hospital.
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MINDEN -- Eight people who were indicted Monday morning by a Webster grand jury in the death of a 12-year-old boy last fall at a Christian-based nonprofit juvenile facility are free on bonds of $2,500 each posted by the shelter.

The seven employees and an ex-employee of Hope Youth Ranch, 10 miles north of Minden, turned themselves in to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center on Monday afternoon.

Identified in separate sealed bills of indictment and charged with one count of negligent homicide are Troy Hamilton, 31, of the 1500 block of Memphis Street, Homer; Willis Doyle, 48, of the 500 block of New Friendship Road, Castor; Anthony L. Combs, 38, of the 1700 block of West California Street, Ruston; Arthur G. Henderson II, 24, of the 200 block of Greenard Road, Cotton Valley; Kelton Greenard, 26, of the 1100 block of West Street, Minden; Tasha G. Jackson, 29, of the 1000 block of Marigia Drive, Haynesville; Marcus D. Jones, 24, of the 500 block of New Friendship Road, Castor; and Jeremy Blanks, 22, of the 400 block of Hillside, Minden.

Negligent homicide carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin sought the indictments against the eight, whom he described as direct care workers, not teachers, because he believed they intentionally denied care to Alex Harris[HYR] during a disciplinary run in September.

An autopsy indicates Harris, of Haughton, died of dehydration and trauma to the head following a punishment run at the ranch. He reportedly was denied water during the run and was dropped on the ground when an older boy picked him up after Harris had collapsed.

Doug Pierrelee, spokesman for state police Troop G, said at one point during Harris' punishment, the eight employees locked themselves in an air-conditioned truck to keep Harris from getting inside.

Common sense and the "power of one's own conscious" should be the guide in situations where "training has failed to prepare you," Pierrelee said.

"If care of others is not your genuine motivation, then you should be responsible enough to remain unemployed," he said.

"These eight people missed the opportunity to save a 12-year-old child who was begging for his life."

The state police conducted the investigation because of a conflict of interest involving the Webster Parish sheriff's office. Sheriff's deputies routinely provide security at the site, and Chief Deputy Bobby Igo Jr. is on the governing board and serves as vice president.

Roy Martinez, the shelter's director, could not be reached at the shelter or at his residence late Monday afternoon. Earlier this month, however, Martinez said the facility's insurance company and lawyers had advised him not to discuss the case. He said Harris' death was the first at the ranch, and in a printed statement he said the staff was "heartbroken and full of grief" over Harris' death.

The nonprofit Hope Youth Ranch receives state funding because the juveniles in its care are either foster children or have been sent there by state juvenile authorities.

Marvin did not seek indictments against the ranch's corporation.

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