NEWS of the Week - Jan 7 to Jan 13, 2013
on some NAACC / LACP issues of interest


NEWS of the Week 
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ... We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...

NOTE: To see full stories either click on the Daily links or on the URL provided below each article.


Jan 13, 2013



We need to remember King's legacy

Forty-five years ago this spring, the most high-profile figure of the U.S. civil-rights movement was cut down by an assassin's bullet.

At the time of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, about 60 percent of our current U.S. population hadn't yet been born. Millions more were too young to have any personal recollection of the man or his mission. So keeping his legacy alive requires effort.

We would do well to remember that ...

For the first 300 years of sustained European activity in North America, blacks were slaves. That ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, 150 years ago this month.

The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, gave citizenship to all freed slaves, and the 15th Amendment, adopted in 1870, gave voting rights to black males. (All women were given the right to vote in 1920.) Tragically, the discriminatory legal doctrine of "separate but equal" soon emerged, holding sway for decades.



Supreme Court hears case of DUI suspect forced to take a blood test without a warrant

The Centers for Disease Control estimates Americans drove drunk 112 million times in 2010.

The Supreme Court is now considering whether police are violating those drivers fourth amendment rights to privacy if they obtain a non-consensual blood test without getting a warrant first.

"The police will not always be as scrupulous as they need to be protecting privacy on the other side of the balance," said Steven Shapiro of American Civil Liberties Union.

All 50 states have laws requiring those arrested on suspicion of drunk- driving consent to a blood alcohol test.



Jan 12, 2013


Flu reaches epidemic level, says CDC

(Reuters) - Influenza has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with 7.3 percent of deaths last week caused by pneumonia and the flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday.

That is above the epidemic threshold of 7.2 percent, CDC said. Nine of the 10 regions of the United States had "elevated" flu activity, confirming that seasonal flu has spread across the country and reached high levels several weeks before the usual time of late January or February. The other U.S. region, the Southwest and California, had "normal" flu activity last week.

The vaccine against the flu strains that were forecast to predominate this year is 62 percent effective, scientists reported on Friday in the CDC's weekly publication.

That is considered "moderate" effectiveness and means that almost four in 10 people who receive the vaccine and are exposed to the virus will nevertheless become infected.

Experts recommend the vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. Even if it does not prevent flu, it can reduce the severity of the illness, preventing pneumonia and other life-threatening results of flu.




Attorney for Christmas tree lighting bomb plot suspect says his client is victim

PORTLAND, Ore. – There's no dispute that a 19-year-old Muslim college student tried to set off a car bomb at Portland's 2010 Christmas tree lighting ceremony, but how he reached that point is the crux of his trial that began in federal court this week.

A jury of seven men and nine women will decide whether this was a case of the U.S. government preventing the radicalization of a young Somali-American man, or was instead the FBI's coercion of an impressionable, hotheaded braggart into a plan he was otherwise incapable of carrying out.

'The FBI cannot create the very crime they intend to stop' - Steve Sady, defense attorney

Mohamed Mohamud's attorneys began to build their case during opening statements Friday, arguing that he was the victim of a sophisticated manipulation by undercover FBI agents.

"In America, we don't create crime," defense attorney Steve Sady said. "The FBI cannot create the very crime they intend to stop. And sometimes, it's just a matter of going too far."



Armed Janitors Approved By Montpelier, Ohio, School Board To Stop School Shootings

One of the big questions we've been asking ourselves in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is what group of warm bodies are going to be flung into the path of the armed-to-the-teeth gunmen of tomorrow. Will it have to be the children themselves? It's been suggested! (The huskier, the better, apparently)

At this point, the most popular proposal seems to be to have armed guards in the schools. If this notion has a problem, it's just a teensy, little practical matter of ... you know -- the fact that it doesn't work . But as always, "stuff that doesn't work" becomes "the best idea" once it becomes clear that all sides want to do it. And "armed guards in schools" fits the bill. The NRA wants more armed guards in schools because their primary focus is helping gun manufacturers sell the guns they manufacture to people, and a whole new workforce that requires firearms would be terrific from their perspective. The White House seems amenable to the idea because it means they get to create jobs and stimulate the economy and also have an extra layer of " CYA -lacquer" on their rear-ends the next time there is a tragedy like this.

Of course, there are a number of reasons why this idea could fall apart despite the fact that both sides of the debate are seemingly open to it. Just off the top of the dome, here are the fault lines that will probably crack under the White House's support for this idea:

1. It represents tax money going to public schools.

2. It creates more public sector jobs.

3. The people who take those jobs might want to be a part of a labor union.

4. That means union members with guns, so that will be a non-starter.

5. So these armed guards will probably look like the Transportation Security Administration agents you see at the airport.

6. Everybody hates the TSA.

7. In general, the GOP manages to discover how much they've already secretly loathed something within ten minutes of President Barack Obama coming out for it. (See also: Chuck Hagel.)



NCPC Visits the Nicaraguan National Police to Share Principles, Techniques and Best Practices of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

ARLINGTON, VA (PRWEB) -- Nicaragua, previously one of the safer countries in its region, can afford only 18 policemen for every 10,000 people, according to The Economist, and its crime rate is projected to rapidly accelerate in the next few years, perhaps even superseding those of its neighbors. Faced with increasing crime rates and inadequate law enforcement funding, the Nicaraguan National Police has invited the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) of the U.S. to lead training sessions on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) in Nicaragua.

Embracing this unique opportunity to work positively with law enforcement on a global scale, NCPC will host two five-day training sessions on CPTED on Corn Island and in Bluefields, Nicaragua, Jan. 14-18 and Jan. 21-25, respectively. U.S. police departments, which have also faced increasing budgetary constraints, have encountered great success employing CPTED principles in recent years, and believe the National Police of Nicaragua can benefit from this approach to law enforcement as well.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design calls for collaboration among community residents, municipal leaders, law enforcement, business leaders, and architects, especially in planning stages, to construct physical environments that positively influence human behavior and inhibit crime. The theory is based on four principles: natural access control, natural surveillance, territoriality, and maintenance.

In addition to CPTED, the National Crime Prevention Council trainers will address community policing strategies and encourage community involvement with the Nicaraguan National Police, based on the Council's 30-year history of promoting collaboration between communities and law enforcement.



Jan 11, 2013


America doesn't crack the top 10 of the best places to be born in new survey

If you came into the world today and could pick your nationality, there are at least 15 better choices than to be born American, according to a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The firm looked at 80 countries, scoring them across 11 variables to determine "which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead."

The study incorporates hard data on facets such as economic opportunity, health standards and political freedoms; subjective "quality of life" surveys; and economic forecasts for 2030, when an infant born today would be entering adulthood. Even gender equality, job security (as measured by unemployment data), violent crime rates and climate are taken into account.

Here's some of what I found interesting about the data. There's surely more here - just as there are surely plenty of holes to be poked in any endeavor to understand life and opportunity in only 11 variables.

Money can't buy you happiness, though it will get you 2/3 of the way.

The correlation between wealth, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, and happiness is clear, though not nearly as clear as you might expect. The report concludes from the results that "GDP per head alone explains some two thirds of the inter-country variation in life satisfaction, and the estimated relationship is linear." Only two-thirds!



Chicago, Illinois

City officials say they're committed to community policing, just not to funding it

by Mick Dumke

One of the first matters to come up at last week's community policing meeting in west Humboldt Park was the trouble brewing around the corner of Thomas and Springfield —serious trouble.

"Some new guys popped up over there and the other guys didn't like it," said H.T., a Vietnam veteran who's lived nearby for 27 years. "There was a shooting over there an hour ago."

Captain Roger Bay knew just what H.T. was talking about. Bay, one of four cops at the meeting, recalled that police cleared out a drug operation on the same corner last spring, arresting the "main characters" and posting 24-hour sentries for several weeks. But now some of the dealers were back on the street, and in the meantime others had tried to move in. "The guy shot today is not from around there," Bay said.

Bay has been taking notes at west Humboldt meetings since being assigned to the 11th police district a couple years ago. His presence is notable. It's typical for up to five police officers to stop by beat meetings in other parts of the city, but appearances by supervisors are rare, and often the officers who show up are different from the month before because their assignments shift so often.



U.S. gun panel to report soon

Plan includes funds for police in schools, but NRA scores curbs

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is considering a $50 million plan to fund hundreds of police officers in public schools, a leading Democratic senator said, part of a broad gun violence agenda that is likely to include a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips and universal background checks.

The school safety initiative would make federal dollars available to schools that want to hire police officers and install surveillance equipment, although it is not nearly as far-ranging as the National Rifle Association's proposal for armed guards in every U.S. school.

The idea is gaining currency among some Democratic lawmakers, who see it as a potential area of common ground with Republicans who otherwise oppose stricter restrictions on firearms. Liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said she presented the plan to Vice President Joe Biden, and that he was "very, very interested" and may include it in the policy recommendations he makes to President Barack Obama.

"If a school district wants to have a community policing presence, I think it's very important they have it," Ms. Boxer said in an interview Thursday. "If they want uniformed officers, they can do it. If they want plainclothes officers, they can do it."



Jan 10, 2013


Joe Arpaio School Patrols Begin Armed Watch Of Maricopa Schools

PHOENIX — The sheriff for metropolitan Phoenix has launched a plan to have as many as 500 armed volunteers patrol areas just outside schools in an effort to guard against shootings like month's attack at a Connecticut elementary school that left 26 people dead.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office said Wednesday that the patrols were launched earlier this week at 59 schools in unincorporated areas and communities that pay his agency for police services.

Arpaio hopes to have as many as 400 posse volunteers and another 100 volunteers known as reserve deputies take part in the patrols.

The plan from the sheriff known for immigration enforcement and housing jail inmates in canvas tents has led some longtime critics to say Arpaio's latest effort is meant to grab headlines and won't be sustained over the long term.

"Why would people complain about my posse being in front of schools to act as prevention?" Arpaio asked, noting that he wants the patrols to last throughout the remainder of the school year.




FMPD introduces new ideas to fight violent crime

FORT MYERS - In the wake of the first murder of the year, Fort Myers Police Chief Doug Baker is unveiling new tactics to stop violent crimes. It includes an emphasis on community policing.

Fort Myers Police Officer Tony Brown has a way of talking to people. It's one of the reasons people trust him.

"I build up a rapport with a lot of the people in the community, so i usually get out of my car, go talk to them and a lot of times I've even arrested them but when I arrest them, it's not like I treat them like dirt," says Brown. That trust helps solve crimes.

"They're more willing to tell you hey this person did it or this person right here did it," says Brown. This type of community policing is the key to a safer city according to Chief Doug Baker.




Officers get personal in police work

Police asked to make more connections in community

AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) - Police patrols just got more personal; the streets more social in Auburn. The city's police chief has introduced a new effort to build relationships between community members and officers.

The goal, Martin McCoy said is to establish familiarity and trust so if something comes up, neighbors might feel more comfortable going to police.

“We've got that small town feel and we want to keep that. We want people to know that we're there to help them,” Chief McCoy said. “They pay for us to do a job and we want to do that job for them; we're here to serve.”

The police department divided the city into five sections to which officers are assigned. Each of the agency's 18 patrol officers will be responsible for making connections throughout their area. McCoy has asked officers to make at least one contact a week to start.




Civilians graduate from HPD police acadmey

Police are not only working from the police departments, but also at the homes of local residents. Fifteen civilians graduated from the Hogansville Police Department's Civilian Police Academy on Tuesday evening, after completing a 12-week program.

“The Civilian Police Academy is a thing that bridges both the community and the police department. It bridges trust. It's created to have healthy environment to let everyone know that it's not us against them, it's us working together. It is one of the things I consider a great accomplishment for the city and for the citizens and the police department to work together.” said Chief Moses Ector.

The graduates met one Tuesday evening a month in which they learned about all aspects of policing. The program was free to participants and was taught by police officers and industry professionals.

“They learn it's not like what you see on TV. There's a difference in what you see on TV versus what cops really do.” said Hoansville Police Sgt. Richard Wolfe, who was an instructor for some of the CPA classes including the firearms training class.



From the Department of Justice

Dreamboard Member Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison for Participating in International Criminal Network Organized to Sexually Exploit Children

A Massachusetts man was sentenced today to serve 45 years in prison for his participation in an international criminal network, known as Dreamboard, dedicated to the sexual abuse of children and the creation and dissemination of graphic images and videos of child sexual abuse throughout the world, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley of the Western District of Louisiana and Raymond R. Parmer, Special Agent In Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New Orleans.

David Ettlinger, 35, of Newton, Mass., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Maurice Hicks in the Western District of Louisiana. In addition to his prison term, Ettlinger was sentenced to lifetime supervised release.

"David Ettlinger will spend 45 years in prison for his role in a horrific international conspiracy to sexually exploit young children," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. "Ettlinger participated in a criminal online community that encouraged members to regularly produce content depicting extreme sexual abuse of children. The members of Dreamboard attempted to evade law enforcement by disguising their locations, but today's sentencing is a strong reminder that the department is dedicated to working with its law enforcement partners to track down child predators who seek to take advantage of our most vulnerable citizens."



From the FBI

Piecing Together Digital Evidence -- The Computer Analysis Response Team

In a case involving the round-up of dozens of suspects indicted on public corruption and other charges, investigators were faced with processing large numbers of seized cell phones, desktop computers, and laptops belonging to the suspects. In another case, key evidence against a terror suspect arrested for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction included data found on his computer. And after a U.S. Congresswoman was wounded and six people killed in Arizona, vital evidence was found on security camera footage, computers, and cell phones.

Reflecting a trend that has become increasingly commonplace for law enforcement, all three of these cases involved the need to recover digital evidence. And our Computer Analysis Response Team, or CART, is the FBI's go-to force for providing digital forensic services not only to our own investigators but also in some instances to our local, state, and federal partners.

CART consists of nearly 500 highly trained and certified special agents and other professional personnel working at FBI Headquarters, throughout our 56 field offices, and within the network of Regional Computer Forensics Laboratories across the nation. They analyze a variety of digital media—including desktop and laptop computers, CDs/DVDs, cell phones, digital cameras, digital media players, flash media, etc.—lawfully seized as part of our investigations.



Jan 9, 2013



Evidence on social media creates new world for justice (+video)

Investigators in the Ohio rape case confiscated electronic devices from those involved. Evidence from social media allows jurors to rely more on common sense and less on expert testimony.

Young people's use of social media and mobile technologies to document every facet and event in their lives, including violent and criminal behavior, has drawn national attention to the investigation into an alleged rape of a teenage girl in Ohio.

Not only are the social media being used in support of the pending legal arguments for both the alleged victim and the defendants, but this case and others are creating the potential for a whole new courtroom dynamic between the prosecution, defense, and jury.

Ma'lik Richmond and Trent Mays, two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, are charged with raping a 16-year-old girl at two separate parties in August. The names of both suspects, who are juveniles, are being used because a court judge, defense attorneys, and local media made their names public.

The state attorney general's office, which is handling the case, says both boys participated in raping the girl, who remains unnamed because she is a victim, while she was unconscious. Mr. Mays is also charged with the “illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.”



Texas / Ohio

Hundreds of Texas, Ohio teachers flock to gun training

CLEVELAND / SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - School teachers in Texas are flocking to free firearms classes and hundreds more in Ohio have signed up for training in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school massacre, some vowing to protect their students with guns even at the risk of losing their jobs.

In Ohio, more than 900 teachers, administrators and school employees signed up for the Buckeye Firearms Association 's newly created, three-day gun training program, the association said.

In Texas, an $85 Concealed Handgun License course offered at no cost to teachers filled 400 spots immediately, forcing the school to offer another class, one instructor said. The two Texas classes graduated about 460 educators.

"Any teacher who is licensed and chooses to be armed should be able to be armed," said Gerald Valentino , co-founder of the Buckeye Firearms Association. "It should be every teacher's choice."

The December 14 tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, sparked a national debate about whether to arm teachers, prompting passionate arguments on both sides.




Chicago Looks To Community Policing To Reduce Violent Crime

In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, there's been renewed talk of assault weapons bans and other gun control measures. But such legislation won't even be called for a vote in Illinois' state legislature this week, even though shootings and homicides have spiked in Chicago, topping 500 in the last year. So Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his police department are renewing community policing in an effort to improve community relations and reduce violent crime.

While violent crime has been dropping in many big cities, the city of Chicago saw a sharp increase in killings in 2012. So Chicago is beginning the New Year with a new approach. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the police department have unveiled what they call a revitalization of community policing. They're re-emphasizing cooperation between cops and residents in certain high-crime neighborhoods. And they made that announcement today as it became clear that the mayor's gun control efforts were falling flat in the state legislature. Here's NPR'S David Schaper in Chicago.




McCarthy may turn to celebrities to help combat police mistrust

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Tuesday he's considering turning to celebrities like Bulls star Derrick Rose to try to persuade residents to break a "no-snitch" custom that often impedes shooting investigations.

McCarthy said he has "spoken to a number of (celebrities) and they're all very interested" in becoming spokespeople for a campaign to persuade Chicagoans to cooperate with police. He would not give names, but did say that Rose, who grew up in crime-plagued Englewood before achieving NBA fame, is the type of star who might be able to get through to young Chicagoans.

Coming off a year in which Chicago saw homicides jump 16 percent to 506, McCarthy said he's trying to figure out how to get through to people. A Tribune investigation in August found that Chicago police had suspended nearly 80 percent of their investigations into nonfatal shootings through the first seven months of 2012 because victims wouldn't cooperate.

It's not the first time in recent months that the Police Department has brought in outside voices in an effort to curb violence. City officials gave a $1 million grant last year to CeaseFire, an organization that uses ex-felons to mediate gang disputes. McCarthy has been critical of CeaseFire, saying the group undermines police. On Tuesday he was more supportive of the idea of using celebrities.




Community policing poised to return to Marlborough in spring

MARLBOROUGH — Police Chief Mark Leonard said on Tuesday that he hopes to be able to bring back the community policing program, put on hold last summer, back in the coming months.

Leonard said he is aiming for a return of the program, which is well-liked by community leaders in the French Hill neighborhood, by late March or early April. Leonard temporarily canned the program in August, as staffing levels at the department dropped amid several injuries and retirements.

Leonard said a few people have come back from injuries and said that there are two new officers in the department with a few more starting within the next few months.

"We're starting to get some people back on board," Leonard said Tuesday. "We're really looking at a March time frame."



Jan 8, 2013


Los Angeles

At LAUSD's Chatsworth Elementary, LAPD lieutenant is front and center

Arriving at Chatsworth Elementary School after a three-week winter break, students and parents were greeted early Monday by LAPD Lt. Cory Palka, who shook the kids' hands, chatted up the moms and dads and - despite his easygoing demeanor - brought a feeling of security to those entering the campus gates.

"I think it's great that they're here," said Charlie Butler, escorting daughters Juliana and Veronica onto the school grounds. "I know that the LAPD is understaffed, so it's a big deal to me that they're here to deter bad people."

Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department and other law-enforcement agencies fanned out across Los Angeles Unified during the first day of a beefed-up patrol operation dubbed Operation Embrace. Planned in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Connecticut, police will spend an hour each day on K-8 campuses - a half-hour every morning and afternoon - as a way to reassure the public that school safety is a top priority.

Los Angeles Unified police already are stationed full time at the district's high schools, and the agency's officers also patrol K-8 schools on a daily basis.

"We want to reaffirm, re-establish and engage with the youth in our community," said Palka, who works out of the LAPD's Valley Division and helped create the Operation Embrace deployment plan for the region's 452 elementary and middle schools.



Los Angeles

L.A. crime down for 10th year in a row

Violent crime in the city of Los Angeles fell for the 10th year in a row to its lowest level in decades, even as property crime reversed its downward trend and posted a slight uptick, the mayor and police chief announced Monday.

"Our data shows that, in 2012, Los Angeles had the fewest violent crimes per capita than any big city in the United States of America," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said during a news conference at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters.

"Last year, there was a citywide reduction in robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft, and - for the third year in a row - we saw fewer than 300 homicides," he added.

Police Chief Charlie Beck said the 18,293 violent crimes recorded in 2012 represented an 8.2 percent slide from the year before. Statistics showed significant decreases in robbery and aggravated assault offset increases in rape and homicide.

"This is the lowest violent crime level in the city of Los Angeles since William Parker was chief (of the LAPD in the '50s and '60s)," Beck said.



New York

Albany police emphasize stats, community in reducing crime

Albany police emphasize statistical analysis and community involvement in reducing crime

ALBANY — In May 2012, police used an unusual tactic to quell the gunfire after three shootings occurred in 12 days within three blocks on the west side of Arbor Hill: They parked the department's mobile command center, a hulking RV equipped with cameras and its own booking room, on Lark Street between Sheridan and Clinton avenues.

There wasn't another shooting in Arbor Hill until July 2, a few days after the RV was removed. That drive-by shooting across the street at Sheridan and Lark left two men wounded. On July 5, a woman was shot a block away on Orange Street.

The next morning, the command center was back, parked again between Sheridan and Clinton. The neighborhood's next shooting came on Aug. 15 — less than a week after the command center was moved away for the second time.

"When that thing was up," said Isaiah Perry, who lives on nearby Elk Street. "I think people saw that and, for some reason, thought twice before doing anything, even if they knew police weren't inside."

It's one of many factors in a recent drop in violent crime in the most violent part of the city. In 2010, the west side of Arbor Hill had a combined average of 7.7 violent crimes — murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults — each month, more than three times the city average.



From the FBI

Stopping a Suicide Bomber -- Jihadist Planned Attack on U.S. Capitol

After months of consideration, a target was picked and a date was set: On February 17, 2012, Amine Mohamed El-Khalifi would strap on a bomb-laden vest and—in the name of jihad—blow himself up at an entrance to the U.S. Capitol. If anyone tried to stop him, he would shoot them with a MAC-10 assault weapon.

That's how the 29-year-old Northern Virginia resident believed events would unfold that Friday morning when he emerged from his car—suicide vest on and weapon by his side—in a parking garage near the Capitol.

“He totally believed he was going to die in the attack, and he seemed very much at peace with it,” said a special agent on our Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) who investigated the case. “The day of the attack, he was happy.”

What El-Khalifi didn't know was that “Yusuf,” the supposed Al Qaeda operative he was conspiring with, was actually an undercover FBI agent—and the would-be terrorist's every move was being monitored by members of our Washington Field Office JTTF. Although El-Khalifi believed he was going to kill many people that day in the name of jihad, the explosives in his vest and the assault weapon had been rendered inoperable by FBI technicians.



Jan 7, 2013



Alabama teen accused of plotting terrorist attack involving bombs at his high school

Associated Press

SEALE, Ala. – An eastern Alabama high school student faces an attempted assault charge after authorities say he planned to use homemade explosives in a terrorist attack on fellow students at his school.

Authorities say 17-year-old Derek Shrout, a student at Russell County High School in Seale, will appear at a Monday afternoon court hearing in Russell County.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor tells the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (http://bit.ly/13aWRiq) that a search of Shrout's home found several small tobacco cans and two large cans, all with holes drilled in them and containing pellets. Taylor said other ingredients to complete the small bombs — such as black powder, butane and fuses — were not found.

The sheriff said the devices were just "a step or two away from being ready to explode."




Hearing may be 'mini-trial' in Colorado theater massacre

CENTENNIAL, Colorado – A suspect appears in court Monday, nearly six months after a bloody rampage in a Colorado movie theater left 12 people dead, for a hearing that might be the closest thing to a trial the victims and their families will get to see.

James Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 70 by opening fire in a darkened theater showing the new Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" in the Denver suburb of Aurora last July.

At a weeklong preliminary hearing starting Monday, prosecutors will outline their case against Holmes, the first official public disclosure of their evidence. The judge will then determine whether to send the case to trial.

Legal analysts say that the evidence appears to be so strong that Holmes may well accept a plea agreement before trial. In such cases, the preliminary hearing can set the stage for a deal by letting each side assess the other's strengths and weaknesses, said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor and now a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.