Daily archives: July 29th, 2009

Lucia Whalen Called 911; Now Leave Her Alone

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Lucia Whalen is completing what she says will be her one and only news conference.  Her voice trembling at times, close to tears, Mrs. Whalen spoke about threats that had been made against her, calling her racist and other names.  Her husband did weep openly a few times as she spoke.  Below is a video of MSNBC and other news organizations trailing her in paparazzi-like fashion as she and her husband left their home in preparation for their transit to the site of the press conference. Above is the press conference itself.

Her lawyer spoke first.  Coyly referring to the three men who behaved badly sitting down for a beer tomorrow at the White House, Wendy Murphy simply said, “Maybe it’s a guy thing,” that her client was not invited.


The woman whose 911 call led to the arrest of Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and a national debate on racial profiling spoke publicly for the first time about the case Wednesday, saying she was unfairly criticized and “afraid to say anything” after being called racist.

It’s easy for the President of the United States to turn into Pontificator-in-Chief, and that’s exactly what he did in this case.  I suspect the police acted appropriately, but I don’t know.  I wasn’t there.  There’s are strong reasons for police asking Henry Louis Gates Jr. to step outside his house, first and foremost to ensure there was no one inside with intent to harm him.

Enough.  I’m not going to get into that.  Let these three chaps sit down and drink a pint or two.  Lucia Whalen did the right thing.  She called 911 because she saw suspicious activity.  She acted and spoke appropriately when she called police.

Now leave her alone.  She and her husband have a right to privacy.  She is not a public official.  She is not public property.  She is an American, born in this country. Yes, one of the brilliant reporters picked up that she had slightly darker skin than white Americans, and had to ask if she was a citizen.  And to the reporter who asked that question, I say, “Way to go for working to keep us safe from any threat of foreigners calling 911, you arrogant ass.”

Mrs. Whalen, thank you.  You did exactly what we ask citizens to do in our town when they see suspicious activity.

And to the three who started the fire or helped make it worse, enjoy your beer, and find it in your hearts to thank Mrs. Whalen.

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Brian Dugan Killed Jeanine Nicarico

Two men were once on Death Row for the murder of Jeanine Nicarico.  Brian Dugan has been trying to confess to this horrible crime for years.

Tuesday, he finally got his chance.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Some in the audience wiped away tears as State’s Atty. Joseph Birkett solemnly described the fingernail scratches 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico left on the wall that showed how she tried to fight off a would-be burglar.

How Brian Dugan promised to take the girl home but instead killed her.

The murder “went as perfectly as the others, but something was wrong,” Brian Dugan told an Illinois State Police psychologist, Birkett recounted. “I felt like I was going to get caught.”

And he did. Dugan, already serving life sentences for two other murders, formally admitted in court Tuesday that he and he alone kidnapped, raped and killed the girl on Feb. 25, 1983. 

His admission, first made in 1985, had long been rejected by DuPage officials. But on Tuesday Birkett said Dugan has been telling the truth.

Birkett’s 55-minute recitation of the facts was a dramatic turn in a case with 26 years’ worth of twists, including the false convictions and Death Row sentences of two other men and the acquittals of seven DuPage County law-enforcement officials on malfeasance charges. The drama will kick into high gear again in September, when Birkett pursues his long-stated goal of having Dugan sentenced to death.

The details:

Birkett’s description of Nicarico’s final hours were brutal and difficult to listen to, as were his descriptions of the autopsy results. Some in the audience wiped away tears as they heard how Dugan brutalized the girl on a sleeping bag in the woods, leaving her bloody and disoriented, then promised to wash her up and take her home, but instead crushed her skull with either a baseball bat or a tire iron.

Birkett also described in detail the 1985 rape and murder of 7-year-old Melissa Ackerman of Somonauk, one of two murders for which Dugan already is serving concurrent life sentences. Bakalis has previously approved allowing the details of the Ackerman case at a trial, ruling that the similarities with the Nicarico murder showed a legal pattern of behavior.

Dugan sat quietly during Birkett’s grim reading of a 14-page statement. Melissa’s father stonily stared off into space.

When it was over, the judge denied Dugan’s request to read aloud a letter that he carried with him, a letter his attorneys contended was an apology.

This was not the only child this monster murdered.  We should be grateful the judge did not permit him to read his letter, address the families.  They don’t need that.

Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death for the same crime.  Birkett said Dugan’s confession completely exonerates them.

Two on Death Row for a crime they didn’t commit.  Some would argue that the system worked, eventually.  Except these two lost years of their lives because of Dugan’s crime.  The two were set free in 1995, twelve years after Jeanine’s death, when DNA tests and recanted testimony damaged the prosecution, the Tribune says.

The temptation is great for us to kill this man.  If anyone deserves to die…

Dolling out death takes us down a slippery slope, though.  We don’t do that well.  We make mistakes.  We can be incredibly stupid animals, Vonnegut said.  We suffer under the illusion that “The System” is somehow divine, that there is this separate entity apart from humanity called “The System,” and that “The System” will protect us in spite of ourselves.

Except it won’t.  The system is us.  We are the system. That system is us at our best and our absolute worst.

Put this monster away forever.  And mourn Jeanine Nicarico and Melissa Ackerman once more.

Mark Buehrle’s Magic Arm

Just the other day, Mark Buehrle pitched the 18th perfect game in the history of baseball.  The man faced 27 batters, and 27 batters went down.  No walks.  No batters hit.  No runners on the entire game.

He almost did it again.  Tonight, it wasn’t a perfect game, but Buehrle did set a major league record.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Chicago White Sox ace Mark Buehrle set a major league record by retiring 45 straight batters.

Coming off a perfect game in his last start against Tampa Bay, Buehrle retired the first 17 Minnesota Twins batters on Tuesday night to surpass the record of 41 straight set by and San Francisco’s Jim Barr in 1972 and tied by teammate Bobby Jenks, a reliever, in 2007.

Buehrle retired 27 in a row against the Rays in his last start, the 18th perfect game in baseball history, then breezed through the first five innings against the Twins to break the record.

His bid for a second consecutive perfect game — no pitcher in baseball history has ever achieved the feat — ended with a walk to Alexi Casilla on a close call with two outs in the sixth. The Metrodome crowd stood and cheered after the walk, trying to rattle Buehrle. Then Denard Span followed with a single to break up the no-hitter.

The Sox lost this one, but Buehrle’s in the books twice now.

Congratulations, Mark.

William Shatner’s Dramatic Reading of Palin’s Farewell

One of the funniest things you’ll ever see.  I had this on a news site I operate, but decided to give it a permanent home here on Turning Left.

Enjoy.  And do click through for the video if you’re viewing this through a news feed.