Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Just Plain Crazy?!?

Hello fellow bloggers, readers and passers-by,

If you are a facebook friend, you will appreciate the time I've taken to investigate the initial aspect of this post. If you are not a facebook friend, my dear, you are truly missing out on one heck of a great social friend!

I do not want anyone to think I'm am putting a 'hero' title on this because I am not. I do not want anyone to think I am excited, pleased or otherwise entertained by the aspect of this case because I am not. I am, for lack of a better term, curious into the human psyche. I am curious about what makes a human behave the way they do. What makes them tick or fail to keep time? What drives a person to do what they do, albeit illegal, immoral, or unhealthy at times? I am a criminology major and I see the system fail time and time again -- so I hope to one day change it. But in the mean time, I will research cases, inspect the system as it is, throw a little bit of opinion in and prove some facts based on the classes I've taken and the peer reviewed articles I've read.

Kick back, lay back or throw back, either way, I hope you enjoy this post for the educational points and again, please do not think I am glorifying this case -- simply intrigued by humans.

James Eagan Holmes lived in apartment number 10 in a complex on Paris Street. He was a recent college graduate and was working on his doctorate in neuroscience, a program that focuses on the interdisciplinary scientific study of the molecular, structural, physiologic, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of the brain and nervous system. Includes instruction in molecular and cellular neuroscience, brain science, anatomy and physiology of the central nervous system, molecular and biochemical bases of information processing, behavioral neuroscience, biology of neuropsychiatric disorders, and applications to the clinical sciences and biomedical engineering.

According to news reports, Holmes had begun purchasing ammunition for weapons around the same time the masses were gearing up for a summer full of blockbuster releases such as The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises. It wasn't until May or June that he would actually purchase his weapons. An AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, and 2 Glock handguns. He would also purchase tactical gear and products used to make explosives. But again, according to news outlets, his neighbors regarded him as a quiet, college student who didn't create a fuss.

On or about July 20, 2012, Holmes would send a package to Dr. Lynne Fenton, a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado, Denver, however, the contents of the package is unknown, though speculation that the package contained a notebook detailing specific events such as killing. As of this blog post, defense attorneys for Holmes have requested the contents remain sealed to protect doctor-patient privilege.

On or about the same date, July 20, 2012, theaters across the country began their midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, which portrays characters as Batman, Cat woman and other comic book heroes. On this same night, movie goers had no idea that crime would be a reality and they would be the victims.

James Eagan Holmes entered the Century 16 Theater and opened fire killing 12 and wounding 58 people. To read more about the events that occurred, click here. I plan on posting a memorial blog for those whose lives were tragically stolen in the near future. But for this post, I want to focus on the behavior.

Some say he was insane. Others say he was crazy. Others say he is faking and knew exactly what he was doing. All of these could be true statements, but lets look at the insanity defense.

Insane. Different from competent in that insanity, a judge or jury must evaluate the defendants state of mind at the time of the offense. To be incompetent to stand trial, a "...low level standard is used to determine if the defendant can stand trial. The defendant must understand the proceedings against him in that:
1.) He/she is being tried for a crime,
2.) He/she must understand the roles of the prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, jury, and
3.) assist his defense attorney in showing his innocence.

Many believe if a person is found incompetent to stand trial they are merely getting away with murder, literally. On the contrary, competency renders the case on hiatus until competency is restored, the the case/trial resumes.

Fact: Insanity defense is raised in less than 1% of felony cases and only successful in a fraction of those.The vast majority of successful insanity defenses are met through plea bargains.
Of the United States, only three states do not allow an insanity defense: Montana, Idaho and Utah. The remaining states fall into two typical categories of insanity pleas:
1.) M'Naughten Rule, or
2.) Model Penal Code Rule

Colorado uses a modified version of the M'Naughten Rule with the Irresistible Impulse Test. In addition, the burden of proof is on the State in which the state must prove sanity beyond a reasonable doubt. Irresistible Impulse Test is often used to absolve a defendant who can distinguish right from wrong but is nonetheless unable to stop himself from committing an act he knows to be wrong. Most often referred to as "The Police at the Elbow" test... Would the defendant have committed the crime even if there was a police officer standing at his elbow?

Class, let's look at some definitions!
A.) Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: facts proven must, by virtue of their probative force, establish guilt.
B.) Probative force: an item of evidence that tends to prove a fact that is at issue in the case. Various pieces of evidence have different amounts of force during trial. For example, DNA from a rape case which matches the defendants DNA carries a strong force. A witness who identified the rapist based on a fleeting glance carries a weaker force.
C.) Burden of Proof: Prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the alleged charges by producing credible evidence which proves the facts of the case.
D.) Direct Evidence: evidence based on personal knowledge or observation of the person testifying. No inference or presumption is needed.
E.) Inference: conclusions drawn from facts, but not established as with direct evidence.
F.) Burden of Persuasion: defense has the opportunity to persuade the jury that the prosecution is incorrect or has not been established towards the defendant's guilt.

Some cases in which the insanity plea was used and was successful.
1.) Richard Lawrence - 1835
2.) Daniel Sickles - 1859
3.) John Schrank - 1912
4.) Ezra Pound - 1946 - declared incompetent
5.) John Hinkley - 1982

A persons mental capacity should also be considered when speaking of the insanity defense.
Are they well educated? Thorough with the crime committed? Was the crime elaborate? Other questions arise when considering this defense. Was the suspect captured or did he turn himself in? Did he confess or deny the claims against him? Did he offer additional information which would prove he was sane at the time of the crime? Did he assist in offering additional evidence? Was there a motive to the crime? Other circumstantial evidence one should consider when weighing the case are the three most important: Threaten, flight, and destroy evidence -- Holmes did not do any of these three, but in fact, did the opposite. He did not threaten to commit the crime, he did not destroy evidence against him and he assisted the police by warning them about his apartment, disclosing the package mailed to Fenton and did not try to flee when the crime occurred.

All in all, as one officer stated in a report, this is not a 'whodunit' case. We are very much aware that Holmes is guilty of committing these acts. The question is, was he aware of what he was doing? Was he under some psychosis? Was he bribed, threatened? Did he know he could ask for help? Did he ask for help? Did he have a mental breakdown that forced him to do these horrendous acts? Did he know it was wrong, but under some obsession, fail to stop himself? All good questions, and unfortunately, I do not have the answers. But I can tell you some points of interest regarding the behavioral aspect.

Freud claimed humans have two basic needs or drives present at birth.
1.) eros or 'life instinct' which is the need for bonding, and
2.) thanatos or 'death instinct' which is the aggressive drive.

*Both operate at an unconscious level and create deep inner tensions*

Mead, however went against not only Freud but Piaget as well. He maintains that "... the self is the part of an individuals personality composed of self awareness and self image..." and that it, "...only develops with social experience."

Freud's psycho dynamic perspective aims that behavior is driven or motivated by powerful inner (eros and thanatos) forces. Human nature is not always ration and actions may be driven by motives that are not in conscious awareness. Human actions stem from inherited instincts, biological drives and conflicts between personal needs and societies demands.

Watson, however, shows the behavior prospective by looking at the stimulus, the response and the consequences. One could question Holmes on several different versions of this very prospective. The stimulus before the plotting of the crime, or the stimulus right before he committed the crime. The response from his plotting, or the response from committing the crime, and lastly, the consequence of his plotting the crime, or the consequence of committing the crime. Either way, we may never truly understand the behavior prospective of his actions.

Other questions that come to mind when I really look at this case:
If Fenton was treating Holmes, did she treat him for:
a. mood problems
b. daily functions
c. abnormal thoughts

The reason I ask these questions is quite simple. They would signal cycles of getting better, then digressing. But what would this matter you ask? I'll tell you. Mental disease is often over looked when it shouldn't be, and often over-diagnosed the remaining times. I want to reiterate that I am not defending the wrongful death and murder of 12 people, nor the attempted murder of 58 others... I'm simply looking at the case and mental disease or defect should not be tossed by the wayside.

Look at possible indicators of stressors that could prove a mental condition:
Stressors such as:
James Eagan Holmes during his first court appearance July 23, 2012.
Notice he looks wide eyed at times, confused at others, yet sleepy or
somewhat remorseful in others. Sure, he could be faking,
but I wouldn't be so quick to judge. You do not know what outer
influence he was under or what truly caused this man to steal
12 innocent lives.
  • school
  • family
  • relationship status
  • obsessive behavior
  • difficult assignments
  • chosen area of study
  • grades
  • dropping out
  • quiet
  • introvert
  • restless
  • apprehensive
  • frightened
  • anxious
  • grandiose thinking
  • grandiose behavior
  • changes in appetite
  • delusions
  • paranoia
  • lack of concern for personal hygiene
  • insomnia
  • sadness or hopelessness
  • hallucinations
  • social isolation
  • rapid language
  • change in social behavior
  • extreme disturbance in mood

I realize that is a long list and I know what you're thinking... OMG, I have everyone of those symptoms, what is wrong with me. First, you don't have every one of those symptoms and second, you are not insane... at least I BELIEVE you aren't insane and if you are, for God's sake, get some help.

So what do these symptoms indicate? A mental disorder called schizo-affective disorder.
I'm no psychologist, though I can't wait to take my psych classes in the spring. This is just my amateur opinion based on the information available and the education I've received thus far from my criminal justice degree. Simply stated, there is possibly enough evidence to either convict Holmes, or have him committed. I pray justice will be served and that God's will be done.

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord"
                                                    ~Roman 12:19

I hope I've filled your brains with a little insight, knowledge or general info regarding the case. I plan to follow it to the end. Please continue to pray for the families of those affected by this recent tragedy.

Until tomorrow,

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Reality of the Fantasy World

Hello fellow bloggers, readers and passers-by,

I want you for just a moment to clear your head. I want you to think about one question.

"What is a terrorist?"

When you hear the word Terrorist, most of you will think of foreigners from some distant land who choose to rid the world of the Western beliefs/philosophies/leaders/etc. But why? Why is that what we think about? Is it main stream media that has tainted our vision? Is it Hollywood and their drive to exploit our fears? Is it fantasy - unreal - a mere facet of our imagination which sometimes runs wild? Or is it something more?

To me, a terrorist is ANY person who brings about a feeling of terror, fear, depreciation, anxiety, or panic. So would I consider a home grown person a terrorist? Sure, if they are crazy enough to open fire in a theater full of innocent lives - yes, he's a terrorist!

I'll continue with this point in just a moment, but I want to take a second to reflect. I'm a mother, a sister, a wife, an aunt, a niece, a granddaughter, and a cousin. I have five children - two girls and three boys. My boys love action movies and namely, anything comic book related such as Spiderman, The Hulk, and Batman. As I write this blog, I can't help but think of some grief stricken mother, sitting in her dinning room, Kleenex in reach, coffee cup filling over, pouring her heart and soul out before God himself, as she remembers the last time she said, "I love you" to her child. Or a father, who sits in his lazy boy, dazed and confused as he tries to remember the sound of his sons laughter. Or the wife of a man who said, "I'll see you in the morning" as he walks out the front door with his young son to entertain his hidden youth at a theater. And while I try to imagine how they must feel, tears prick my eyes, pain slices through my heart and fear envelopes my soul as I remember just last week, my uncle and my oldest son venturing to the local theater to see Spiderman - and how blessed I am that he is still safe and sound in my house, laughing and playing and growing.

His name is James Holmes. He premeditated a strike of terror against innocent lives in the early morning hours of July 20th. Aurora, Colorado was awakened to panic - lives were lost - others were injured - and as police try to solve the mystery, one question still comes to the front of my mind: Was he a terrorist? Yes!

He trapped his apartment, #10 as reported on ABC, with explosives, knowing officials would want to get inside to find out more about him. He strategically wore a bullet proof vest and a gas mask when he ushered his onslaught onto the spectators at the theater: Was he a terrorist? Yes!

He shot 12 people, including a 3 month old: Was he a terrorist? Yes!

His mother said, "You have the right person"... Was he a terrorist? Yes!

I can't help but feel some remorse for this woman. But another question rises in me. Did she know something? Could this have been prevented? Did he display any psychological episodes that would have led one to this conclusion?

While we may never know the why, we can deduce the what... Lives were lost stolen! While we may never fully define 'terrorist' one thing remains certain: Fear and panic rise when we feel unsure about a situation - and I have that fear, that panic: I'm terrorized.

Until next time,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Out of the Ashes, a Phoenix Rises

Hello fellow bloggers, readers and passers-by,

If you are followers for justice, then you have certainly been awed by the latest news announcement. According to sources in Mountain Home, Arkansas, Hobbs family member has come forward with claims that he overheard a very intimate conversation regarding the murders in West Memphis.

You can read the press release here, but some of the highlights include:
Terry Hobbs' nephew, Michael Hobbs Jr., allegedly told his friends "my uncle Terry murdered those three little boys," according to declarations under penalty of perjury recently given to Damien Echols' defense team. The three new witnesses were polygraphed about what they stated Michael Hobbs, Jr. told them.

"One day Michael picked us up in his truck. He was very quiet and upset. Michael then said to us, ‘you are not going to believe what my dad told me today. My Uncle Terry murdered the three little boys.' According to Michael, his dad called this ‘The Hobbs Family Secret' and he asked us to keep it a secret and not tell anyone."

Another witness stated, "One night last winter, Michael and I were playing pool in his basement when the third friend asked about the West Memphis Three case which had been in the news. Michael responded by saying, ‘My uncle killed three kids in West Memphis.' Michael was dead serious when he said this."

Hmmm, but what does that mean? Well, in a nut shell, it means the great State of Arkansas has a little more info to put in a file that has been collecting dust for some 18 and a half years... and it will continue to collect dust until enough people hound the state prosecuting attorney long and hard enough to get his attention. In addition, the people of Arkansas need to educate themselves on the case in general.

With three documentaries out and available for viewing, and a fourth just premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, the astounding story of the West Memphis Three has gained national attention. And while the majority of the documentaries currently available depict what many feel are 'biased and one-sided opinions of the producers", it does not mean we are to believe the opposite no matter what! It simply means there is so much information out there, it should be well read and understood, it should be digested -- several times over, and lastly, it should be thought about with an open and nonjudgmental mind, free from emotion. Facts and facts alone should be considered in the case... and here are a few!

1.) John Mark Byers had a history with MPD and the Drug Task Force.
2.) Melissa Byers had a previous drug history ranging from marijuana to heroin.
3.) Their son, Christopher Byers was prescribed medication for ADHD: his doctor had him on the highest dose available and seen no change in his behavior. This, he said, was medically impossible with that high of a dose. (Intro to my theory)
4.) They were friends with Terry Wayne Hobbs, step father of Steven Branch.
5.) They were friends with Terry Wayne Hobbs friend, David Jacoby, a man who Melissa new from Blytheville, but who resided two streets over from the Hobbs.
6.) Terry Wayne Hobbs stated he did not see the boys at all the day they became missing.
7.) Eye witness testimony came forward some time after the trial by a woman stating she remembered seeing Terry Wayne Hobbs with the three youths prior to their disappearance. (Secondary portion of my theory)
8.) At no time during the reporting of Christopher Byers, Michael Moore or Steven Branch, did anyone confirm David Jacoby's whereabouts. (third part of my theory)
9.) The officer who went to Bojangles failed to thoroughly investigate the situation, which was called to her over the radio while she was taking the Byer's statement. (continuing third part of my theory)
10.) Hobbs time away from others while 'searching' for the boys cannot be corroborated by others.
11.) The exact conversation that was carried on by Byers and Hobbs in Robin Hood Hills is not spoken of, therefore, we do not know if Hobbs distracted Byers while they were near the bodies or not -- Byers admitted to walking by the location where the boys' bodies were found, several times during the early morning hours, while Hobbs was with him.
12.) The time frame for Hobbs and Jacoby to be in the woods matches the time later investigators say would have allowed for someone to move the bodies to the bayou in which they were found.

Well, enough of the facts, because, let's face it, none of them point to Damien, Jason or Jessie... Unless you want to include the following:
1.) Damien was harassed by his stepfather and his mother refused to defend him.
2.) Damien was harassed by the probation officer who had it out for him because he was different.
3.) Jessie was a young teen who was intellectually challenged, yet tried to survive in the social class in which he was made to live in.
4.) Jason, being the oldest of his siblings, tended to their needs as any older, responsible, mature teen would do.
5.) A wanna-be PI lied on the stand when she said Jason and Damien had taken her to a cult ceremony.
6.) A drug using teen lied when he said Jason told him Damien, Jessie and himself hacked up those three little boys.
7.) Police misconduct ended in a 'led' confession which should have been inadmissible in court -- but thanks to a self-righteous judge, it was allowed in Jessie's case -- which led the entire state to be a contaminated jury pool. Jason and Damien didn't have a chance.
8.) Words like "occult, satanist, witchcraft, and black magic" through everyday citizens into a heightened state of panic which led to closed minds when the jury was selected.
9.) An over-zealous investigator had no true leads and went on what the juvenile probation officer told him, rather than doing his job and actually 'working the case'.
10.) The social status that these teens and their families resided in can be seen today, in every city, every town and even rural areas... The fact is, when the cards are stacked against you, you beat the devil at his own game...

And that is what WM3.org and other sites are trying to do. The devil came running back in 93. He took three lives and nearly destroyed three more. Here is my professional opinion of the case in light of the newest information.

"John Mark Byers and Melissa Byers had worked for MPD and the Drug Task Force on occasion. They had become well known by officials in nearly every branch of law enforcement, all the way down to the judge who presided the future case of the WM3. So well known, in fact, that the judge had expunged Byer's previous criminal record which included assault and theft of property. 

His wife, Melissa, known years back in Blytheville, to be a drug user of marijuana and heroin. Her son, who had been legally adopted by Byers when he was still young, had been diagnosed with ADHD and had been prescribed medication. This medication acts like methamphetamine in adults. Mark and Melissa had been using Christopher's medication and reporting to his doctor that it was not working well on Christopher, so the doctor continued to up the dosage until he was at the max.
Months of abusing Christopher's medicine themselves, they decide to share/sell their new found fun with none other than Terry Wayne Hobbs and David Jacoby. Why? Because David new Melissa from Blytheville and because drug use is popular at their social level - it is popular at nearly every level. And because Terry Wayne and David worked at the same company, worked the same hours, and had money. John and Melissa had recently lost their jewelry business and were struggling financially.
Months go by and the doctor sees no change in Christopher's behavior. He (presumably) talks to the Byers about changing/altering his prescription. Melissa and John Mark fear the doctor will stop the prescription completely, so they begin giving him small doses to show the doctor it is starting to work. In doing so, they must limit how much of the medication they can sell. This aggravates Terry Wayne and David.
Wanting to get back at John Mark, Terry Wayne and David conspire to harm Christopher Byers, John Mark and Melissa's son. The day the three went missing, Terry Wayne and David were at Terry Wayne's house. The kids get home from school and gather their bikes for an afternoon of riding. Terry Wayne is seen by a neighbor shouting for the boys to come to him. At this point, he realizes he cannot get Christopher by himself, so he, along with David, capture Christopher, Michael and Steven and proceed to Robin Hood Hills.
Cuts and scrapes are found on the boys along with deep contusions, lacerations, and even the skin and testicles removed from Christopher, the son of the man they wanted to get even with. They are removed from their clothing, bound with their shoe strings and thrown into a concrete culvert with a metal lid. They are unconscious and bleeding out as the sun begins to set over West Memphis. David, having assisted Terry Wayne become scared. He staggers into Bojangles restaurant, disoriented from the acts to which he had just been an accomplice. Afraid someone would recognize him, he left the restaurant and took the woods home.
As no timeline had ever been set up with regard to David, one can only speculate as to his whereabouts. In an interview years later, Hobbs stated Jacoby was watching Hobbs little girl while Hobbs and his wife searched for the boys, thus providing Jacoby with the perfect alibi. While Hobb's wife was at home later with her daughter, Hobbs returns to Robin Hood Hills and retrieve the bodies, still unconscious, and barely breathing, from the cement culvert. Their bound bodies tied in a quick retrieval method as for a grown man to carry them to the bayou. Their bodies are then held under water until they are dead. This would explain why there was no blood at the scene and it had nothing to do with their bodies being in water... They had bled out in the culvert. 
Hobbs returns home, showers, and then assists John Mark as any 'friend' would do. Until the wee hours of the morning, the full moon shining brightly over West Memphis, Hobbs and Byers search Robin Hood Hills. Later, Byers states he had walked right by the scene where the boys were found and said he didn't see anything. And the detectives seen no trace of anyone walking by the scene either. No foot print, nothing. Until later, when DNA becomes more conclusive and a hair is located in the knot of one of the shoe strings used to tie up Christopher Byers -- which matched Hobbs... and another hair of Negroid decent -- to which I have found nothing stated in any documentation that rules out Jacoby. During the entire investigation, no interview with Jacoby, Hobbs, Byers, or the Moore's took place -- police failed to acknowledge that a parent could kill their child.
In the end, I suspect Byers to have internally acknowledged why the murders happened. By him not coming forward and giving his opinion, it made him look guilty. But I imagine he would feel even more guilty if he admitted the reason his son was murdered was because his father was a drug dealer. I can't say for certain these are the actual events that transpired on the evening Christopher, Michael and Steven went missing. And I can't say for certain these are not. I can only tell you that by the evidence the state had against the WM3, the facts of the case as new evidence has come to light, and the use of documentaries to put ALL the information out there, I do not believe Jason, Damien or Jessie had anything to do with these murders. They, too, were victims in the case. They were robbed of their youth, just as Christopher, Michael and Steven were. While we hope for justice, and pray for closure, one thing still remains -- the true killer still walks. I hold in my heart, that after the ashes of injustice have burned to the ground, a Phoenix will rise! The truth will come to light. Until then, we can only speculate as to who may have committed the acts of killing three little boys, and railroading three young men by means of injustice.

Until tomorrow,