Man To Stand Trial For The Murder Of A Sex Worker

A Bay Area man will stand trial on charges he murdered a sex worker and dumped her body in a trash bin at a shopping center last year.

But defendant William Li’s attorney said while there was evidence his client may have moved the body of 30-year-old Lijun Wang after she died, there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Li killed the victim.

Li has pleaded not guilty to a criminal complaint alleging he killed Wang the night of Feb. 5, 2017, according to court records.

Wang, a Chinese national who came to the country in February 2016, was working as a sex worker to pay off debts incurred while traveling to the United States, police said. Wang, who was 5-feet-3-inches tall and weighed 90-pounds, was found dead, wrapped within three bags on Feb. 6, 2017, in a trash bin.

On Wednesday investigators testified Wang’s cause of death was “asphyxiation by neck compression” and that she was killed less than 24 hours before she was found.

After a two-month investigation, police arrested Li in San Mateo. Li initially admitted to being in a romantic relationship with Wang, and investigators said Li was tied to “the organized crime” group for which Wang worked as a prostitute, but did not say what Li’s role was.

Detective Jeff Horn, said police haven’t identified a direct motive, although they have considered that problems in the romantic relationship between Wang and Li could have led to Wang’s death. But they believe Li is the killer based on cell phone call records and geolocation records, Li’s statement to detectives and other “strong circumstantial evidence.”

That evidence, according to testimony Tuesday and Wednesday, included surveillance video from a nearby business that shows a car that matched the description of Li’s near the trash bin, the night before a homeless man found Wang.

Forensic experts also testified chips of paint found on Wang’s body matched at least two paint samples from the San Mateo auto body shop where Li worked. The chips were also in the trunk of Li’s car.

Web histories on computers and an iPhone seized during the investigation included searches on the Sun-Star’s coverage of murder and how to delete phone records, Merced Police Detective Allen Adrian testified.

Li’s attorney, Merced-based Jeffrey Tenenbaum, rejected the broken relationship story and police allegations Li was involved with a sex-trafficking organization. Tenenbaum says the evidence doesn’t point to more than a platonic relationship between the two.

Wang, Tenenbaum said, was Li’s masseuse, adding that Li helped Wang with legal issues. Tenenbaum said the purpose of a meeting between the two the day of the murder was for Li to give back Wang’s passport because she requested it.

Tenenbaum also said a lack of motive or any evidence suggesting Li killed Wang meant the murder charge didn’t fit.

“I will grant you that there’s been a lot of evidence presented that Mr. Li transported a dead body,” Tenenbaum said to Horn on the witness stand Wednesday. “But how can you be certain that Mr. Li killed this woman?”

The difference, Tenenbaum said, meant charging Li with being an accessory to murder after the fact rather than murder. The former is a less serious felony with a lighter possible sentence.

But in a preliminary hearing, a judge has to determine if the murder case should go to trial based on a “reasonable suspicion” it happened.

On Tenenbaum’s insistence that there was no motive for murder, Judge Ronald Hansen said there also was no motive for Li moving Wang’s body other than the allegation that Li killed her.

“There is no motive, no direct evidence,” Tenenbaum said, noting Li has a family with three kids, and works hard as a mechanic. “He maintains his innocence.”

Li’s next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20.

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Deadliest Catch Star Sexually Abuses Minor, Avoids Jail Time

Deadliest Catch costar Edgar Hansen on Friday admitted sexually abusing a 16-year old girl last fall. Hansen admitting to touching the girls genitals and making her touch his genitals.

In exchange for his plea to fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation, Hansen, 47, was given a suspended sentence of 364 days in jail, meaning he will not spend time behind bars. He also received two years’ probation and various fees and fines totaling $1,653, with an additional $4,800 fine suspended, court records show.

Hansen was further ordered to undergo a sexual deviancy evaluation and treatment and provide a DNA sample to law enforcement.

The prosecuting attorney’s office agreed not to pursue any charges that may arise in the future in connection with the case, which was first reported on by the Seattle Times.

In a brief handwritten statement accompanying his guilty plea, Hansen acknowledged “touching [the victim’s] private areas … for the purpose of my own sexual gratification.”

The assault occurred on Sept. 30 in Snohomish County, Washington, court records show. The victim, described only as a 16-year-old girl, reported her abuse to her therapist in late October, saying it took place at a local home.

The victim said Hansen “kissed her on the lips, touched her vagina and had her touch his penis,” prosecutors stated in a probable cause affidavit.

Investigators spoke with Hansen’s wife, who said she “confronted him” after learning of the abuse, the affidavit shows. He “initially denied” it but “eventually admitted that he kissed [the victim] and touched her inappropriately.”

In his statement with his plea, Edgar wrote that he has “commenced treatment to ensure that nothing like this assault ever happens again.

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Tech Company Offers Schools Facial Recognition Technology

RealNetworks, the Seattle company best known for pioneering streaming media in the early days of the web, is deploying a controversial new product. The company said it will offer a new facial recognition technology, called SAFR, for free to K-12 schools to help upgrade their on-site security systems.

SAFR can be used with the same cameras that traditional surveillance systems to recognize students, staff, and people visiting schools. RealNetworks said that in addition to security, the tool can also help with record-keeping and “campus monitoring.” The technology is compatible with Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows.

“SAFR from RealNetworks is highly accurate facial recognition software powered by artificial intelligence,” the company explains on the SAFR site. “It works with existing IP cameras and readily available hardware to match faces in real-time. Schools can stay focused and better analyze potential threats such as expelled students, and those who pose a threat from within and outside the school.”

“We feel that’s going to enhance the security of schools but also lead to more convenience, a simple way of entering a school campus,” RealNetworks Chief Technology Officer Reza Rassool explained.

The ACLU has been vocal in its criticism of facial recognition technology and said there are big red flags with this program.

“I think often it’s put out there by well-intentioned people but the impacts are often felt by vulnerable communities,” said Shankar Narayan, the technology and liberty project director with the ACLU or Washington.

Developers said they understand those fears but said individual districts control the data. Narayan worries a system like this might keep some parents from coming to campus “what are these systems recording, who gets the data for what purpose is that data going to be used?”

Narayan said undocumented immigrants or parents with a criminal history might be hesitant to come to their child’s school.

RealNetworks said they understand that some people might be a little skittish with the technology and that’s why they believe the program should be voluntary.

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The Artic Circle Is Burning

There are at least 11 major wildfires currently raging in the Artic Circle, and there are even more wildfires burning across Northern Europe. Sweden is one of the countries that been hit the hardest, and the government is scrambling to control the 40 wildfires currently ravaging the central and western parts of the country. This appears to be a trend as more and bigger blazes are reported in other far northern regions like Greenland, Alaska, Siberia and Canada.

The sparks come from a variety of sources- BBQs, cigarettes and increasingly lightning, which is becoming more frequent as the planet warms.

Swedish authorities say the risk of more fires in the days ahead is “extremely high” due to temperatures forecast in excess of 30C (90F). The Nordic region of Europe has experienced an intense heat wave in the past week. Temperatures have remained high throughout Finland, Norway and Sweden. Much of the northern hemisphere has sweltered in unusually hot weather in recent weeks, breaking records from Algeria to California and causing fires from Siberia to Yorkshire.

Two Canadair CL-415 water-bombing planes are on loan from Italy and have joined the firefighting efforts that have also included six fire-fighting helicopters from Norway in response to its neighbor’s request for assistance.

“This is definitely the worst year in recent times for forest fires,” Mike Peacock, a university researcher and a local resident said, according to the publication. “Whilst we get them every year, 2018 is shaping up to be excessive.”

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Spain Updates/Upgrades Consent Laws

Image result for Spain consent laws

Hey gang. 
For this free episode, we’re going to glance over at Spain and take a look at how they’re progressing. 

We should also remind folks that Flint Michigan and Standing Rock still exist. 

Then for Patreon subscribers, we’re taking a look at the hot new spot for wild fires. 

What gives a lawsuit in Vegas, get’s a Lawsuit in Vegas.

How to spark up a Kosher Flame

Thanks for checking us out. 

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State Review Board Says Death Of Inmate India Cummings Was A Homicide

BUFFALO, NY – The attorney for the family of woman who died after being held at the Erie County Holding Center in 2016 says he is not surprised by the official findings of the incident, which offer a scathing rebuke of the conduct of her jailers.

The report was prepared by the New York State Commission of Correction, which has oversight over jails and prisons throughout the state.

“It validates everything that we set forth in our complaint and everything I’ve alleged from the very beginning,” said Matthew Albert, who represents survivors of India Cummings. “Disturbing doesn’t even come close to doing justice to what happened to India…which was heartbreaking,” Albert told 2 On Your Side.

Though heavily redacted in parts, the report still paints a picture of the treatment, or lack thereof, offered to Cummings while in custody, which goes beyond “scathing” or “damning,” according to Albert

“The one adjective that needs to be used here, is ‘criminal’, because that’s what this was,” Albert said.

The report concludes, among other things, Cumming’s “manner of death was homicide by medical neglect.”

Cummings was arrested in Lackawanna after committing a carjacking, leading police on a chase which resulted in collisions with three other vehicles, and fighting with officers after she was finally stopped in February 2016.

Taking her to the Erie County Holding Center with a broken arm was the first of several errors noted by the review panel, which contends, “a mental health referral for ECMC would have been appropriate.”

Cummings spent 17 days in the jail, during which time the report says she was combative with officers, destroyed her cell, refused medical treatment, or food at times, and babbled while urinating and defecating on the floor.

However, despite observing this, the report says her jailors made no immediate referrals to the jail physician or reports to jail administration.

Dr. F. Scott LaPoint, who performed the autopsy on Cummings has said he could not determine cause of death without more information, but said he believed an untreated broken arm was a contributing to the death of Cummings. He noted he could not certain whether Cummings broke her arm in a car crash, or when arrested by police, or in later clashes with jail deputies. So he could not say if the break was accidental or inflicted by others. But the pathologist said muscle and tissue damage released chemicals that led to kidney failure through a condition called rhabdomyolysis. Further, high levels of ketones in her body – ketoacidosis – existed before she arrived at the jail and probably explained her ongoing confusion and erratic behavior, he wrote.

Only when she went into cardiac arrest was Cummings taken to Buffalo General where she died, with the review panel stating: “had she received appropriate medical care, her death would have been prevented.”

“An analogy would be a mother just allowing her baby, who is sick or something like that, to just sit there until her baby passes away. That’s what we have here, is a depraved indifference to India’s wellbeing by those who were in custody of her,” Albert said.

Albert noted especially a passage in the 33 page report in which the review panel states, “The medical and mental health care provided to Cummings by Erie County during the course of incarceration, and her care, custody and safekeeping by Erie County sheriff deputies was so grossly incompetent and inadequate as to shock the conscience.”

Through a spokesperson, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard declined comment on the report, due to ongoing litigation.

Meanwhile, Albert is calling on Erie County District Attorney John Flynn to launch a criminal investigation into Cumming’s treatment and death, and to bring charges against those in whose care and custody she had been.

A spokesperson for Flynn told 2 on Your Side that his office has yet to receive a copy of the report, but will review it and make a determination once they do.

“They could throw us ‘x-amount’ of millions of dollars today, and justice would not be served,” said Albert. “Justice is only served if the individuals that caused her death are on the other side of the bars at the holding center.”

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Hotel Group Sues Las Vegas Shooting Victims

The owners of the Mandalay Bay hotel says the hotel bears no liability in last year’s Las Vegas concert massacre and is asking the courts to grant federal protections that shield companies who provide anti-terrorism products and services to civilians.

MGM Resorts International is pursuing cases in a number of states including Nevada, California and New York arguing it has “no liability of any kind” to survivors or relatives of those killed during a rampage last year by Stephen Paddock at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. MGM Resorts International, which is facing a barrage of lawsuits over the shooting, responded Friday by naming more than 1,000 of the shooting victims as defendants in two lawsuits of its own. The entertainment giant is not seeking monetary damages but, citing a federal law, asks the courts to protect it from legal actions filed by the victims.

The company’s legal action challenges more than 1,000 people who accuse MGM of negligence in the attack, during which Paddock shot at attendees of the Route 91 Harvest Festival with automatic weapons from the hotel’s 32nd floor.
MGM said it was released from liability for the attack under a US law passed in the wake of 9/11 because the security firm it contracted to oversee the concert, Contemporary Services Corp (CSC), was certified by the Department of Homeland Security.
The 2002 Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Technologies (SAFETY) Act includes limits on liability for claims resulting from an act of terrorism and applies to a range of products, software and services.

While denying any liability for the attack, MGM claimed the cases brought forward by victims may have implicated CSC.

“If defendants were injured by Paddock’s assault, as they allege, they were inevitably injured both because Paddock fired from his window and because they remained in the line of fire at the concert. Such claims inevitably implicate security at the concert – and may result in loss to CSC,” the company’s lawsuits said.
Lawyer Robert Eglet, representing a number of the victims pursuing cases against MGM, said CSC’s release under the act does not extend to the hotel group.

“In my 30 years of practice, this is the most reprehensible behaviour I have ever seen a defendant engage in,” Eglet told reporters, adding CSC failed to provide adequate security on the night of the shooting or in the days leading up to it.

“This is absolute gamesmanship. It’s outrageous. It’s just pouring gasoline on the fire of [the victims] suffering. They are very distraught, very upset over this. MGM is trying to intimidate them.”

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Spain Creates New Sexual Consent Law

Spain’s government has introduced a new law regarding consent with the goal of removing ambiguity in rape cases.

Under the law, consent would have to be explicit. It states that “yes means yes” and anything else, including silence, means no. Sex without explicit consent would therefore be considered rape.

The move follows outrage over the verdict in the la manada (wolf pack) case. Five men involved were accused of gang-raping an 18-year-old woman in Pamplona during the bull-running festival.

Two of the men filmed the assault, during which the woman is silent, doesn’t move, and has her eyes closed. The judges interpreted her as consent – one judge even commented that she appeared to be enjoying herself – and the charges were dropped from rape to the lesser crime of sexual assault.

Under Spanish law, rape must involve violence and intimidation. The la manada ruling provoked outrage and led to demonstrations across the country. The five men are out on bail pending an appeal against their nine-year sentence. Among them are a soldier and a member of the civil guard, both of whom have been returned to duty.

In her summing up for the prosecution, Elena Sarasate said: “The defendants want us to believe that on that night they met an 18-year-old girl, who after 20 minutes of conversation with people she didn’t know agreed to group sex involving every type of penetration, sometimes simultaneously, without using a condom.”

Proposing the law, Carmen Calvo Poyato, Spain’s deputy prime minister and equality minister, said: “If a woman does not expressly say yes, then everything else is no.”

Patricia Faraldo Cabana, a law professor at the university of A Coruña, who helped draft the law, said the proposal understood consent not just as something verbal but also tacit, as expressed in body language.

“It can still be rape even if the victim doesn’t resist,” she said. “If she is naked, actively taking part and enjoying herself, there is obviously consent. If she’s crying, inert like an inflatable doll and clearly not enjoying herself, then there isn’t.”

In a letter to a Spanish TV station, the la manada victim wrote: “Don’t keep quiet about it because if you do you’re letting them win. No one should have to go through this. No one should have to regret having a drink, talking to people at a fiesta, walking home alone or wearing a miniskirt.”

The law mirrors similar legislation that came into force in Sweden at the beginning of July.

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Sex Offender Released For The Third Time By Police

A high-risk sex offender was re-arrested and subsequently released on bail, Toronto Police say. In a news release on Friday afternoon, police noted that the man was arrested Wednesday for breaching previous bail conditions. This is the second time the man is alleged to have breached those conditions since his initial release from prison on February 14, 2018.

Joseph Thayakaran Joseph, 45, was released after an eight year sentence for two counts of sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, three counts of forcible confinement, and assault. Joseph ran a successful headhunting company when he was arrested in July 2005 for preying on two women.

He was convicted in 2008 of three counts of forcible confinement, two counts of sexual assault, one count of sexual assault with a weapon and one count of assault.

At his trial, Joseph admitted he pretended to be a vice-president of entertainment for media giant Viacom to seduce 20 to 30 women from 1995 and 2005. He became violent in 2005, forcibly confining and sexually assaulting two women — one at gunpoint.

Joseph was released from prison on February 14, 2018 under strict court-ordered conditions that included reporting weekly to police, not entering into an intimate relationship with a woman unless she was identified to police and not using social media without specified permission.

On the same day, police issued a public warning about the sex attacker’s release out of concern he was a “high-risk” to re-offend.

Joseph was re-arrested less than two months later, on April 6, 2018, and police alleged Joseph was using dating sites to pose as a wealthy business man, while using photos of other men. Joseph was later released after posting bail.

According to detectives, Joseph was arrested on again July 11,2018, but was released yet again on July 13, 2018 for breaching his court-ordered release conditions – making this second such arrest since walking out of prison on Valentine’s Day.

Constable Caroline de Kloet said the 45-year-old has allegedly been using dating websites, specifically seekingarrangement.ca, and calling himself Dr. Lewisus.

“It’s alleged he claims to be a doctor and makes offers to help women financially or with medical treatment,” she said. “It is further alleged that he offers prescriptions for medical marijuana.”

According to the bail conditions provided in the media release, Joseph must report to police weekly, is barred from entering a relationship with a woman until they have been identified to police, cannot use social media accounts without permission, and cannot contact a person on social media without permission 24 hours in advance. He is required to provide social media passwords to police, and must report his employment or change of addresses or phone numbers to police within 24 hours.

Police are asking that anyone who may have had contact with him to contact investigators at 416-808-7474.

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Parents #WalkAway From Conservative Son And Support His Democratic Rival

A Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Wisconsin on Monday called his parents’ decision to support his Democratic opponent “an intentional personal blow” and a “true representation” of political intolerance. Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson slammed his own parents for making the “maximum contribution” to his Democratic opponent in a fiery editorial published by Fox News

The hopeful who is currently embroiled in an intense primary battle for the GOP nomination accused his parents of turning “their back on me, my wife” and their grandchildren following a report from CNN earlier this year that highlighted his parents’ donations to the incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)

The column comes after a new attack ad from a group supporting his Republican opponent questioned whether Nicholson, a former Democrat, could be trusted. The ad used footage of Nicholson speaking in support of abortion rights at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. Nicholson’s primary challenger, Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir, argues she’s the only true conservative in the race. The primary is a month away on Aug. 14.

He pointed to his parents’ donation as a “representation of the intolerance” in the Democratic Party.

“Adding to this, they decided to make the maximum contribution to my Democrat opponent in my campaign for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, an intentional personal blow that made headlines across the country,” Nicholson said. “It was deliberate – and it is a true representation of the intolerance of a political philosophy that stands on the false platform of tolerance.”

Each of his parents reportedly gave $2,700 to the Wisconsin Democrat’s campaign in December, the largest amount they can give during the Democratic primary. Nicholson’s brother, Scott Nicholson, also gave the maximum amount allowed, $2,700, to Baldwin last year.

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