Amanda Knox addressed jury today in hopes of being freed on her appeal

Today, in a packed courtroom in Perugia, Italy, Amanda Knox stood before the 8 person jury who will ultimately decide her fate and plead for them to return a verdict of not guilty and to give her life back.  Knox spoke in Italian, which she now speaks fluently after spending the last four years of her life in an Italian jail.  Reports described her plea for freedom as very sincere.  She fought back tears but was able to keep her composure in her 10 minute address to the jury.

In her last plea to the jury, Knox stated,

“I’m not a promiscuous vamp. I’m not violent … I have not killed, I have not raped. I was not there. I was not present.  I want to go home, I want to go back to my life, I do not want to be punished and to have my life taken away from me for something I have not done, because I am innocent.”

She further said,

“I lost a friend, in the most brutal and inexplicable way possible.  My absolute faith in the police authorities was betrayed, I’ve had to face absolutely unfair … and baseless accusations. I am paying with my life for things I did not commit.”

A verdict in the case is expected later today.  Under the Italian system, the jurors will not be allowed to leave the deliberation room until they agree on a verdict.  The jury has many options as to Knox’s fate.  They can uphold the original conviction and her 26 year sentence, they can uphold the conviction and reduce or increase the amount of years Knox will spend in prison or they can find Knox not guilty and order that she be released.

Trial begins for personal doctor of Michael Jackson

Conrad Murray, 58, the personal doctor for Michael Jackson at the time of his death, began his trial on involuntary manslaughter charges for the death of “The King of Pop.”

In opening statements, prosecutors said that Dr. Murray was an incompetent physician who improperly used a dangerous anesthetic called propofol to help Jackson sleep and that this misuse ultimately caused Jackson’s death.

The defense countered by arguing that Jackson took several pills of the sedative lorazepam on the morning of his death which would be enough to put six people to sleep.  They further argued that Jackson then took a self-administered dose of propofol.  This final dose, the defense explained, killed Jackson instantly.  The defense argued that Jackson accidently killed himself after Doctor Murray refused to administer any more propofol to Jackson for his sleep disorders.  They explained that Murray had been attempting to wean Jackson off of propofol by administering other sleep aids (benzodiazepines) to him.  Jackson did not want to change the drugs he was taking and therefore began administering the drugs to himself which caused his death.

The defense said, “What we will hear is that Doctor Murray provided propofol for two months to Michael Jackson for sleep.  During those two months, Michael Jackson slept.  He woke up and he lived his life.  The evidence will not show you that Michael Jackson died because Dr. Murray gave him propofol.  The evidence is going to show you Michael Jackson died when Dr. Murray stopped,”

Murray faces a maximum of four years in prison and the loss of his medical license if convicted.

Amanda Knox appellate verdict coming soon

Did she or didn’t she?  That is the question an Italian Court of Appeals in Perugia, Italy must soon decide.

The appellate process is almost finished.

Amanda Knox was convicted and sentenced in December of 2009 to 26 years in an Italian prison for the murder of her college roomate, Meredith Kercher.  Kercher was found with her throat slit in what was described as a very gory crime scene back on November 1, 2007.  Since that time her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and another man have also been found guilty in the murder.

The appeal included testimony from two Sapienza University forensic experts who were independently appointed by the court.  The expert’s reports and testimony concluded that the DNA testing, largely used to convict Knox, was completely flawed and unreliable.

It is likely that Knox will address the appellate court later this week to declare her innocence.

In Italy, the appellate court may decide on a wholly different sentence depending on their determination of the evidence.  Prosecutors have asked for Knox to receive a sentence of life in prison with 6 months in solitary confinement.  The defense has asked for an acquittal.

Breaking News: US Hikers freed from Iran prison

The two Americans who were detained for spying over two years ago after straying into Iran during a hike were released from a Tehran prison today.  There attorney, Masoud Shafiei said that he had obtained the “necessary signatures from judiciary officials for their release.”  Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, both 29, were handed over to the Swiss Embassy and were headed to the airport.  It is suspected that the pair will be flown to Oman and then will return to the United States from there.  Bail of $500,000 was posted for each of them by an unknown source.

See the article on MSNBC here.

Florida Criminal Case Timeline

If you or a loved one has been arrested in Florida, then the following will give you an idea of what to expect:

1)      Arrest

When a person is arrested, they are handcuffed behind their back and placed into a police vehicle.  They are then driven to a jail facility.  It is not uncommon to be taken first to a holding facility or substation before ultimately reaching a main jail facility.

2)      At the Main Jail Facility

Once the arrestee reaches the main county jail facility, they will be strip searched, photographed and placed into a holding cell.  The holding cell is usually small and holds numerous inmates who have also been recently arrested.  There are usually two holding cells – one for persons charged with felonies and one for persons charged with misdemeanors.  While in the holding cell, the Corrections Officers will begin creating a jail card that will include the arrestee’s personal information, charges and a photo.  Arrestees are usually booked into the jail in the order that they arrive at the jail.  This can sometimes take many hours depending on how many people have recently been arrested.  After a long wait, the arrestee will be taken out of the holding cell and formally booked in.  At this time, they will be fingerprinted and they will be allowed to make a phone call to a family member, friend or bondsman.  The Corrections Officers will run a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) background check to determine if the person has any outstanding criminal warrants and they will also determine what the standard bond is for the charged offenses.  The arrestee will then be returned back to their holding cell.  The bond amount will be entered into the jail’s computer system and the bondsman will then be able to post a bond for their release assuming that there are no outstanding warrants.  The arrestee will also be taken to the jail clinic where any medical needs may be addressed.  After the clinic, the inmate will again return to the holding cell.  If the arrestee has not bonded out by this time, the person will ultimately be transferred to a more permanent cell.  This cell will be considerably larger and will often house 50+ inmates.

3)      First Appearance

Within the first 24 hours after arrest, the arrestee will be brought before a judge.  They will not always physically appear before the judge but may instead appear on a closed circuit video screen located in the courtroom.  At this time, it will be determined by the court whether or not there is sufficient probable cause to detain the arrestee.  If probable cause is found, then the arrestee’s bond status may be addressed.  The standard bond may be lowered, raised or remain the same depending on the case situation and the arguments before the judge by the defense and the Assistant State Attorney.  If posting a bond is not feasible, a person may be released to Pretrial Services if they qualify for such a release.  This often requires that the person report to Pretrial Services at set intervals while their case remains open.  There will be no first appearance for arrestees who are bonded out before this hearing.  Domestic Violence cases require a first appearance before a judge before an arrestee is eligible for release.

4)      Arraignment

The arraignment is usually set 21 days after the date of arrest.  At this time, formal charges are filed and the arrestee will almost always enter a plea of not guilty and request that the Office of the State Attorney provide the defense with discovery.  Often times, a plea offer will be extended and may be accepted.  There are certain instances when the Office of the State Attorney will request that the arraignment be reset to the 30th day after arrest to allow them additional time to determine what, if any, charges to file.  If the State is not ready on the 30th day then they may ask for one final reset to the 33rd day.  If charges are not filed on the 33rd day then the arrestee will be released from custody on their own recognizance (ROR).  If the person was out on bond or Pretrial Services, then any provisions of their bond or requirements of Pretrial would be eliminated.

5)      Discovery Phase

During the discovery phase, the Office of the State Attorney is required to provide the defense with all evidence and paperwork regarding the case and the charges.   This includes any exculpatory evidence that may lead to the defendant’s exoneration.  During this time, the defense will be allowed to investigate evidence, take depositions in most felony cases and prepare the case for trial.

6)      Sounding/Pretrial Conference/Calendar Call

The Sounding is usually scheduled approximately 10 days before the defendant’s trial date.  The purpose of the Sounding is to determine whether or not both the State and the defense will be ready for trial on the scheduled trial date.  A plea offer will usually be extended at this time.  The idea behind the sounding is to clear out the cases that are not ready for trial on the scheduled trial date and to possibly close some cases with acceptable pleas.

7)      Trial

The court will often have more than one case set for trial.  On the morning of trial, the court will determine a trial order.  The trial order is usually based first on speedy trial issues and then how old each particular case is.  If the defendant is not the first case on the list, they will be placed on “standby” and will be required to be available (usually within 2 hours) should the cases ahead of them be closed or continued for any reason.

Two Hikers sentenced to 8 years last month for Spying and Illegally Entering Iran to be released

In an interview with Ann Curry of NBC News, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran plans to release the two hikers who were sentenced to 8 years in Iran prison for spying and illegally entering Iran.  Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were arrested in July of 2009, tried before an Irani Court, convicted and sentenced to 8 years for their alleged crimes.  As a condition of their release, a bail of $500,000 has been set by Iran and Bauer and Fattal will be released once the bail has been paid.  According to Ahmadinejad, their release should occur in “in a couple of days.”

The article on may be seen here.

Joran Van der Sloot charged with First Degree Murder in Peru

Joran Van der Sloot has been formally charged by Peruvian authorities with first degree murder for the killing of Stephany Flores.  Van der Sloot met Flores, 21, at a casino in Lima Peru.  Prosecutors are asking for a 30-year sentence if Van der Sloot is convicted as well as damages exceeding $70,000.

Van der Sloot also remains the sole suspect in the disappearance of American Natalee Holloway who vanished from Aruba in 2005.  She was last seen alive with Van der Sloot.  The killing of Flores came exactly 5 years to the day after Holloway disappeared.

Aruban Judge holds American Gary Giordano in jail for another 60 days

A Judge in Aruba has ordered Gary Giordano be held in jail for another 60 days.  During this 60 day period the police and prosecutors will attempt to obtain additional evidence to allow them to proceed to trial.  For now, Giordano will remain in the Aruban jail even though he has yet to be charged with a crime.

After the ruling, Gardner’s mother, Andrea Colson, issued a statement in which she said, “We have faith and confidence in the Aruban Authorities and FBI, and know that they will fervently continue their efforts to find Robyn.  This has been such a difficult time for all of us and your prayers have given us strength. We need to find our daughter. We pray that anyone who knows what happened that day will find the strength to contact authorities immediately. And we continue to ask everyone to keep praying for our Robyn so that she will be found soon.”

Gardner has been missing since August 2nd and Giordano is the sole suspect in her disappearance.

It has also been revealed that Gardner and Giordano first met on a sex website for swingers called Adult Friend Finder.

Unmarried and cohabiting? Do you ever ride your bike without your hands on the handlebars? Be careful out there!

Ritch Workman, a Rebulican Representative in Melbourne, is seeking to repeal statutes penalizing adultery and cohabitation and statutes like one that requires all bicyclists to keep one hand on the handlebars.  The laws have been on the books since the late 1800s.  His bill, HB 4021 was filed last week.

“Cohabitation” of unmarried people is currently a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by $500 or up to 60 days in jail.

The article is the Sun Sentinel can be seen here.


Some of the more interesting Florida laws still in existance:

  • If an elephant is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle;
  • Failure to tell your neighbor his house is on fire is illegal;
  • It is illegal to fish while driving across a bridge;
  • It is illegal to skateboard without a license;
  • It is illegal to fart in a public place after 6:00pm on a Thursday;
  • It is considered an offense to shower naked;
  • Oral sex is illegal;
  • You may not kiss your wife’s breasts;
  • When having sex, only the missionary position is legal;
  • Florida prohibits topless walking or running within a 150 foot zone between the beach and the street;
  • Men may not be seen publicly in any kind of strapless gown;
  • Having sexual relations with a porcupine is illegal;
  • Prostitution will result in a five year banishment and a bus ticket out of town.  The prostitute will also be given spending money;
  • Penalty for horse theft is death by hanging;
  • Women may be fined for falling asleep under a hair dryer, as can the salon owner;
  • Unmarried women are prohibited from parachuting on Sunday or they shall risk arrest, fine, and/or jailing;
  • Miami: It is forbidden to imitate an animal;
  • Hialeah: Ambling and strolling is a misdemeanor;
  • Pinecrest: In order to operate a burglar alarm, a permit must be obtained;
  • Key West: Chickens are considered a ‘protected species’;
  • Sanford Stage: Nudity is banned, with the exception of “bona fide” theatrical performances. Violating this ordinance results in a $100 fine;
  • Sarasota: If you hit a pedestrian you are fined $78.00;
  • Sarasota: You may not catch crabs;
  • Daytona Beach: The molestation of trash cans is banned;
  • Daytona Beach: While intoxicated, being under influence of narcotics is prohibited;
  • Daytona Beach: It shall be unlawful for any person to swim or bathe in that portion of the Atlantic Ocean within the corporate limits of the city when under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotic drugs to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired;
  • Jupiter Inlet Colony: Under a 1959 ordinance, stubborn children were considered vagrants;
  • Tampa: It is illegal to eat cottage cheese on Sunday after 6:00 P.M.;
  • Tampa: Florida law forbids rats to leave the ships docked in Tampa Bay;
  • Saratoga: It is illegal to sing in a public place while wearing a bathing suit;
  • Pensacola: Citizens may not be caught downtown without at least $10 dollars on their person;
  • Pensacola: It is illegal to roll a barrel on any street, fines go up according to the contents of the barrel;
  • Pensacola: A women can be fined (only after death), for being electrocuted in a bath-tub because of using self-beautification utensils

Criminal Law Update

Casey Anthony reports to probation

Casey Anthony reported to probation on Wednesday in Orlando, Florida and began her 1 year term of probation for her check fraud case.  A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said that Anthony was cooperative and polite and met with her new probation officer for over an hour.  The spokesperson said that Anthony told her probation officer that she intended to do well on probation and that she pledged to satisfy her conditions of her probation.  Due to numerous death threats to Anthony, the Department of Corrections said they would not reveal her location or the county where Anthony will serve the probation.


Couple in pet python case sentenced

Charles Darnell, 34, and live in girlfriend, Jaren Hare, 21, were sentenced to 12 years in state prison on manslaughter and child neglect charges.  They were found guilty in July by a Jury in Orlando, Florida, for failing to protect Hare’s daughter from their 12 foot long albino Burmese Python.  The snake had not been properly secured in its cage and was able to escape.  It entered the child’s room and wrapped around the child ultimately strangling her to death.

The couple’s lawyers blamed the not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial for the guilty verdict in their clients case.  Darnell’s attorney said, “I don’t think after watching one Central Florida accused child killer walk free … that they wanted that to happen to anyone else accused [in a child killing] whether they fully believed the case was proven to them beyond a reasonable doubt or not.”

The couple will serve their 12 year sentence followed by 5 years of probation.

Our original blog post on this case can be seen here.


Strauss-Kahn has his French passport back

Dominique Strauss-Kahn had dinner in New York Thursday night and is planning a visit to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington D.C. early next week.  Strauss-Kahn wants to personally say goodbye to his staff at the IMF.

He will then return to his home in France for the first time since May.