Society's ChildS


New York man freed 23 years after wrongful murder conviction

© Michael Appleton for The New York TimesDavid Ranta after being released from prison on Thursday.
A New York man convicted of killing a Hasidic rabbi more than two decades ago was freed on Thursday after his conviction was vacated as a miscarriage of justice.

David Ranta, 58, spent 23 years in prison until the conviction integrity unit of the Brooklyn district attorney's office concluded after a year-long investigation that the case against him was fatally flawed.

"Sir, you are free to go," acting state Supreme Court Justice Miriam Cyrulnik told Ranta at a Brooklyn courthouse as relatives, including his daughter who was an infant when he was jailed, erupted in tears and shouts of joy.

Prosecutors had joined Ranta's defense attorney, Pierre Sussman, in asking Cyrulnik to vacate Ranta's conviction "in the interest of justice."

"The evidence no longer establishes the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," said Assistant District Attorney John O'Mara, the chief of the conviction integrity unit.


Highway pileup near Edmonton leaves 100 injured

© Courtesy of Derek FildebrandtDerek Fildebrandt snapped this picture of the pileup while he was on a Red Arrow bus to Edmonton.
Most injuries reported to be minor to moderate, 1 serious

Alberta Health Services confirms that 100 people were injured - one seriously - in a multi-vehicle pileup on Highway 2 south of Edmonton, near Leduc, that occurred during a spring snowstorm which caused havoc on area highways.

Earlier in the day it had been reported that 300 people were injured.

Those requiring medical treatment were being transported to hospitals in Edmonton, Red Deer, Leduc, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, Devon, Wetaskiwin, Stony Plain, Lamont and Camrose.

AHS says that EMS staff will treat and take the most seriously hurt patients to hospitals by ambulance; the rest will be transported by bus

The number of vehicles involved in the pileup has not been confirmed.

The Leduc crash wasn't the only incident tying up roads and police. Highway 16 eastbound between Range Road 13 and 15 has been closed due to the number of collisions, including one which left a semi-trailer blocking several lanes.

Another collision involving transport trucks is causing traffic tie-ups in both directions on Highway 16 at Highway 60.

Highway 2 was closed near Wetaskiwin after a multi-vehicle crash north of the Highway 13 overpass. RCMP said that northbound traffic was being redirected onto Highway 13.

Black Magic

Dog dies in 'ritualistic execution,' nearly 40 others mysteriously vanish

© John Moore/Getty Images
Twin Falls, Idaho - Idaho authorities are investigating the mysterious disappearances of nearly 40 dogs, including one that died in a suspected ritual killing.

Reuters reports the dogs have gone missing over the past few months in the Magic Valley region.

"The dogs seem to vanish into thin air," Debbie Blackwood, director of the Twin Falls animal shelter, told Reuters. The dogs have reportedly been lured into vans and never seen again.

"They saw them loading them in their vehicle," Blackwood told KPVI-TV. "They let their little dog out, next thing she knows a red van pulls up and she has to race out and retrieve it, an older person in the dark."

One German shepherd was found with its head crushed with a stone and its body covered with a purple blanket in what authorities say was a "ritualistic execution." Other dogs were found with their mouths duct-taped shut and their teeth filed off.

John Goodwin, head of animal cruelty policy for the Humane Society, told Reuters that these dogs were most likely not used for dog-fighting.

The Humane Society has offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the missing dogs.


Maine man gets 20 days jail time in Zumba paid-sex case

© AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, FileIn this Jan. 18, 2013 file photo, Mark Strong Sr., leaves the Cumberland County Court House in Portland, Maine. Strong, was convicted earlier this month of 12 counts of promoting prostitution and one count of conspiracy. Prosecutors are seeking a 364-day jail term while the defense is asking for no more than 14 days in jail. His sentencing is Thursday March 21, 2013.
An insurance agent who helped run a prostitution operation out of his mistress's Zumba studio and watched secretly videotaped sex acts was ordered Thursday to spend 20 days in jail in a scandal that rocked a community better known for its beaches and sea captains' homes than for crime.

Before being sentenced, Mark Strong Sr. apologized for the pain he'd caused his family, and his wife broke down in sobs while making a plea to the judge for leniency.

"I do apologize for each of my selfish actions and the harm that I have caused many. Most importantly I want to apologize to my wife, my two sons and my entire family because I've caused so much hurt in so many ways, emotionally, physically and financially," Strong said, his voice choking.

Prosecutors say Strong was involved in every facet of the Kennebunk operation with fitness instructor Alexis Wright, monitoring her calendar, reviewing her ledger, collecting dossiers on clients and watching the sexual encounters streamed to his office computer 100 miles away in Thomaston.

Strong even suggested ways to boost profits by marketing to higher-paying fetish clients and engaging in paid sex acts with multiple men at the same time, prosecutors said.


Pennsylvania suicide bomber levels landlord's home in supposed act of revenge

A 40-year-old Pennsylvania man who was out on bond strapped himself into a suicide vest on Tuesday and blew himself up outside his landlord's house, killing himself and injuring two others in a blast that leveled the building. According to Pittsburgh's WPXI Channel 11, Brad Kollar was due in court Tuesday morning on charges of running an automobile chop shop and of possessing bomb-making materials.

Police told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Kollar drove his pickup truck to the house of William Shaner in Clearfield Township and detonated a homemade fertilizer bomb. Shaner was critically injured, his teenage son less severely.

Eye 2

11-year-old girl pregnant after months of 'continuous' sexual abuse

© Shutterstock
An 11-year-old girl in Houston is about to give birth following months of sexual abuse, according to police, who said it was one of the most heinous crimes they've seen.

"This case will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Sara Marie Kinney, public relations director for the Harris County District Attorney, told KTRK.

KHOU 11 News reported a 21-year-old male relative of the girl was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly sexually assaulting her almost every day for nearly seven months. He was charged with continuous sexual assault of a child and is being held on a $50,000 bond.

"It was continuous over a long period of time," Kinney told KHOU 11. "This wasn't just one sick act."

Bizarro Earth

Tennessee woman charged with molesting, soliciting sex from 12 year old boy

Elizabeth Garner
A 42-year-old Nashville woman accused of inappropriately touching and soliciting a Murfreesboro preteen for sex at his home in February was arrested on two outstanding indictments last week, according to police.

Elizabeth "Leigh" Garner, 42, of 806 Highland Park Court in Nashville, was indicted by a grand jury this month on one count each of aggravated sexual battery and solicitation of a minor for child rape in reference to the incident, according to a report filed by Murfreesboro Police Detective Tommy Roberts.

The detective reported he began investigating the incident in February with Department of Children's investigator Kevin Smith after the boy disclosed to his mother he had been molested by Garner.

During an interview with police at his school, the boy said Garner was at his home drinking, and at some point late in the evening he went to use the restroom when Garner followed him, according to police.

Bizarro Earth

Dad flaunts cash on Facebook, gets arrested for failing to pay child support

A Milwaukee man is facing felony charges after allegedly failing to pay child support and flashing his cash on Facebook.

Christopher Robinson flaunted wads of money and booze, according to CBS58. Court documents claim the 23-year-old has a 2-year-old child and has never made a child support payment.

Heart - Black

Two teenagers arrested for threatening the victim in the Steubenville rape case

The two teens charged with allegedly threatening the rape victim in the Steubenville trial via twitter will not be getting out of detention anytime soon. One of them allegedly made a specific threat of homicide against Jane Doe, the other threatening bodily harm.

Judge Samuel Kerr held a hearing for the two girls to Tuesdayto determine whether they should stay in juvenile detention or be released to their parents. Both teens are charged with intimidation of a victim, aggravated menacing and telecommunications harassment.

As Judge Kerr ordered the girls to return to the detention center, sobs immediately flooded the room. Defense Attorney Fran Coranci held her client close to her as she wept in her arms.

Coranci said she knows her client personally and that she is a good girl who has never been in trouble before.


North Carolina church halts all weddings until same sex couples can marry

© Facebook
A North Carolina church says that it will not host any wedding ceremonies or sign any marriage licenses until couples of the same sex are provided the same opportunity to marry as straight couples.

In an interview that aired on Monday, Green Street United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Kelly Carpenter told WXII that heterosexual members of his congregation wanted same sex couples to "share a sense of the love that they have found."

On Friday, the church posted a statement to its Facebook page explaining that "the church sees injustice in the legal position of state government and the theological position of our denomination."

"North Carolina prohibits same sex marriage and all the rights and privileges marriage brings," the statement said. "The Leadership Council has asked that their ministers join others who refuse to sign any State marriage licenses until this right is granted to same sex couples."