by Robert A. Waters
In Dallas, the trial of Matthew Johnson commenced. Prosecutors started out with a bang—they played a videotape showing 76-year-old Nancy Harris going up in flames. Johnson is alleged to have set Harris, a clerk, on fire as he robbed the gas station where she worked. All he got out of it was Harris’ ring, a few dollars, and some cigarettes. The surveillance video viewed by jurors showed Johnson pouring lighter fluid on Harris, then using a cigarette lighter to ignite it. She died four days later, in torment from severe burns to nearly half her body. If convicted, Johnson faces the death penalty, as he should.
In Ohio, Tanai Fortman pleaded guilty to sexually abusing her four-year-old daughter and filming the attacks. Her boyfriend found the videos on her cell phone and turned her in to police. Fortman claims she doesn’t remember the incidents, though she sent the vids to various “friends.” She’ll serve fifteen years in prison, and register as a sex offender for life. Many people wondered if fifteen years was enough for such a sick crime.
In Yorba Linda, California, a homeowner shot and killed a zonked-out intruder. Paul Michael Bracamontes spoke of being a zombie and wanting to get a gun so he could kill people. (Instead of being one of the “walking dead,” he ended up just plain dead.) The homeowners, a man and wife, awoke to Bracamontes screaming in their backyard. While his wife called police and held their two children, the husband armed himself. Bracamontes then kicked in the sliding glass door and died in a hail of gunfire. The intruder was a stranger to the family. Police called the shooting an obvious case of self-defense.
It was announced that more than two dozen of Jerry Sandusky’s victims will split 59 million dollars from Pennsylvania State University.
Two men suspected in yet another Craigslist murder were arrested in Los Angeles. Markell Thomas and Ryan Roth are accused of killing Rene Balbuena in a robbery gone bad. Balbuena and his fifteen-year-old son met the two in response to an ad that the killers placed on Craigslist. After pulling guns on Balbuena and his son, Thomas and Roth opened fire. Police said the two are members of the “Bloods” gang, and had pulled the same type of robbery at least seven times. Craigslist crimes have become commonplace in the last decade.
In Massachusetts, a judge ruled that Michael Skakel will get a new trial. This is the first step in freeing yet another Kennedy.
Also in the Bay State, Mike Pouncey was served a subpoena after the game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Pouncey, a former friend of Aaron Hernandez, will be questioned about a little thing called gun-running—oh yeah, and don’t forget murder. Hernandez should be the poster boy for the old saying that “some people can’t stand prosperity.”
Finally, a Mississippi World War II veteran named Lawrence “Shine” Thornton was buried today. Four punks mugged the 87-year-old man near his home in Greenville. Thornton died of his injuries. He received the name “Shine” after whistling the song “You Are My Sunshine” while in high school. Thornton worked for 37 years Delta Electric Company. Then, after the company closed, he became a local legend by creating “Maria’s Hot Tamales,” named after his Sicilian-born wife. During World War II, Shine served in the Pacific as a Fireman First Class aboard the minesweeper, USS Herald. So, four cowards slaughtered one of the few remaining soldiers from the Greatest Generation. As Mark Collie sang, “Another old soldier fades away.”
So it went on October 28, 2013.