Crime

Post Mortem: Death Investigation In America
5:00 am
Thu March 29, 2012

New Evidence In High-Profile Shaken Baby Case

Shirley Ree Smith sits in the living room of her daughter's upstairs duplex in Alexandria, Minn. Smith is waiting to hear if California Gov. Jerry Brown will grant her clemency. "They say things happen for a reason. I'm not sure if I'll ever figure out a reason for all of this," she says.
Courtney Perry for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 4:31 pm

A senior pathologist in the Los Angeles County coroner's office has sharply questioned the forensic evidence used to convict a 51-year-old woman of shaking her 7-week-old grandson to death, identifying a host of flaws in the case.

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Asia
3:36 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Abuse Claims Follow Mafia Crackdown In Chinese City

Lawyer Li Zhuang spent more than a year in prison on charges of fabricating evidence and inciting witnesses, after trying to defend an alleged gangster. Li's case became a national cause celebre.
Louisa Lim NPR

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 8:23 pm

The swift downfall of ambitious Chinese politician Bo Xilai exposed a bitter power struggle in the highest echelons of government. Now his victims are telling their stories, exposing a darker side to Bo's signature clampdown on organized crime.

Charismatic and outspoken, Bo seemed headed for the country's top leadership body, the Politburo Standing Committee, before he was removed abruptly from his post — as party secretary of the major southern city of Chongqing — earlier this month.

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Law
4:07 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Confronting The VP May Be Impolite. Is It A Crime?

Vice President Dick Cheney defends the Bush administration's policy on the war in Iraq in an address to the American Legion's annual conference in Washington, D.C., in 2006.
Leslie E. Kossoff AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case involving the arrest of a Colorado man who was thrown in jail after telling Vice President Cheney in 2006 that the Bush administration's policies in Iraq were "disgusting."

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Law
4:04 am
Wed March 21, 2012

FBI Still Struggling With Supreme Court's GPS Ruling

FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before a House Appropriations Committee panel on March 7.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 1:11 pm

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court said police had overstepped their legal authority by planting a GPS tracker on the car of a suspected drug dealer without getting a search warrant. It seemed like another instance in a long line of cases that test the balance between personal privacy and the needs of law enforcement.

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U.S.
4:00 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Social Media Put Fla. Case In National Spotlight

Civil rights leaders and residents of Sanford, Fla., attend a meeting Tuesday to discuss the death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot by a neighborhood watch captain. The Justice Department and the FBI opened an investigation into the shooting, and the local state attorney announced that he had asked a grand jury to investigate.
Gerardo Mora Getty Images

The shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Florida has sparked heated reactions across the country, but there was a lag before mainstream media picked up on the story. Not so online, where a more immediate outcry grew into a petition drive this week to encourage a federal investigation.

Now the Justice Department is looking into Trayvon Martin's death at the hands of a neighborhood watch volunteer, and black media and social media were key in demanding closer scrutiny.

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Law
6:14 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

High Court Debates Life Without Parole For Juveniles

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday in two cases that ask whether it is constitutional to sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in two murder cases testing whether it is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a 14-year-old to life in prison without the possibility of parole. There are currently 79 people serving such life terms for crimes committed when they were 14 or younger.

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Law
3:11 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Without Parole, Juveniles Face Bleak Life In Prison

Charles Dutton is an award-winning actor. But as a juvenile, he wound up in prison for manslaughter and other crimes.
Andrew Kent Getty Images

We hear a lot about juvenile offenders when they commit a crime — and again, when they're sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison. But not much is known about what happens after the prison gates slam shut.

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Law
4:14 am
Tue March 20, 2012

Do Juvenile Killers Deserve Life Behind Bars?

Raphael Johnson shot and killed a classmate when he was 17. After his release from prison, he got bachelor's and master's degrees and started a community policing program in Detroit.
Courtesy of Equal Justice Initiative

Originally published on Tue March 20, 2012 3:18 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in two homicide cases testing whether it is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a 14-year-old to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

There are currently 79 of these juvenile killers who will die in prison. What's more, in many states, the penalty is mandatory, meaning neither judge nor jury is allowed to consider the youngster's age or background in meting out the sentence.

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Law
5:36 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

N.Y. Passes DNA Requirement For Convicted Criminals

A forensic scientist processes DNA samples at the New York State Police lab in Albany.
Mike Groll AP

Early on Thursday, lawmakers in New York approved a bill that will make the state the first to require DNA samples from almost all convicted criminals — and make its DNA database one of the largest in the nation.

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U.S.
10:01 am
Wed March 14, 2012

As Gangs Move To New York Suburbs, So Does Crime

Law enforcement agents raid a home where the occupants are suspected of selling drugs last month in Middletown, N.Y. For three months, court papers say, authorities tracked them using wiretaps and cameras set up on telephone poles and trees.
Chet Gordon AP

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 11:45 am

Over the past few years, authorities have arrested more than 200 gang members in an unexpected place: the tree-lined suburbs along the Hudson River in New York.

Drug traffickers with ties to the Bloods, the Latin Kings and other gangs have put down roots there. Authorities say they brought shootings and stabbings with them.

Middletown, N.Y., is 90 minutes northwest of the city. On West Main Street, you can find tidy brick buildings from the 1800s, a brew pub, and a restaurant that sells fresh mussels and escargot.

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The Salt
4:26 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Celebrity Chef Mario Batali Settles Lawsuit With His Waitstaff

Chef Mario Batali prepares dishes for the crowd at the world premiere of Volkswagen's new Jetta compact sedan in New York City in 2010.
Jemal Countess Getty Images

If he's not at one of his 16 restaurants in New York, Las Vegas or Los Angeles, Mario Batali is easily found on TV these days.

One day he's making meatloaf with his co-host on the new daytime show The Chew. The next he's having a friendly cook-off with a rival celebrity chef on Good Morning America. Or traipsing through Europe for PBS, sporting his reddish ponytail, baggy shorts and not-so-fashionable clogs with celeb food enthusiast Gwyneth Paltrow.

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Afghanistan
2:43 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

For Afghan Policewomen, Sex Abuse Is A Job Hazard

Afghan female police officers are trained by Afghan police and NATO soldiers in eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni province on Sept. 12. In the culturally conservative country, women serving in the security forces say they face systemic sexual coercion and even rape by male colleagues.
STR EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 8, 2012 8:33 pm

The image of Afghan women wearing police and army uniforms is meant to inspire pride and hope for a future where the rights of women will be protected in Afghanistan.

So why would female police officers in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif be ashamed to admit they wear the badge?

"Except my very close family members, no one really knows that I am a police officer," said one woman at a NATO training session.

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Law
4:54 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

To Solve Hacking Case, Feds Get Hacker Of Their Own

The LulzSec icon on Twitter.
Twitter

Federal prosecutors have charged five men with responsibility for some of the biggest computer hacks in the past few years. The FBI says the hackers penetrated the computer systems of businesses like Fox Broadcasting and Sony Pictures, stole confidential information and splashed it all over the Internet.

But what's most unusual about the case is how investigators cracked it — with the help of an insider who became a secret government informant.

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Post Mortem: Death Investigation In America
4:06 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Free, But Not Cleared: Ernie Lopez Comes Home

Ernie Lopez hugs his daughter, Nikki Lopez, for the first time since 2009. Ernie was released from prison on March 2 in Amarillo, Texas, after nine years, while he awaits a new trial.
Katie Hayes Luke Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:58 am

Ernie Lopez calls it his "rebirth." After spending nearly nine years in prison for the sexual assault of a 6-month old girl, a top Texas court threw out the conviction. And on Friday, the 41-year-old Lopez walked out of the detention center in Amarillo, Texas, where family and friends were waiting.

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Around the Nation
4:25 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

After Scandal, New Rules For Juveniles In Pa. Courts

Former Judge Mark Ciavarella leaves the federal courthouse in Scranton, Pa., in 2009. Ciavarella was convicted last year of racketeering and conspiracy for taking nearly a million dollars from the developer of two for-profit prisons.
David Kidwell AP

More than 2,000 young people in Pennsylvania are trying to put one of the nation's worst juvenile justice scandals behind them. It's been a year since a former judge was convicted in the so-called "kids for cash" scandal.

New rules intended to protect the rights of children took effect this week, but questions about Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system remain.

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