Category Archives: crime news

Cosby walks on a technicality

By John Kanelis /

When word came out today that Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction had been overturned, my thoughts turned immediately to a sign I once saw way down yonder in the office of the Liberty County, Texas, district attorney.

It spoke to the desire to see a conviction “upheld on a technicality.”

Of course, that never happens. Technicalities usually result in situations such as what happened today.

Cosby is going home after serving two years of a sentence in which he was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman after giving her high-powered drugs. The technicality? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Cosby was denied due process because a prosecuting attorney had said there was insufficient evidence to bring the case to trial. That prosecutor left, was replaced by someone else, who then brought the case to a trial that produced a conviction for the still-disgraced former comic and film/TV icon.

Bill Cosby was denied his constitutional Fifth Amendment guarantee against self-incrimination, the court said in its 79-page opinion.

Bill Cosby Released From Prison After Sexual Assault Conviction Overturned (

Two things about this case deserve brief mention.

One is that a conviction reversal involving someone with the kind of celebrity status as Bill Cosby has pushed most of the other grim news aside; the nation now is going to talk about Cosby rather than talking about other stuff, such as phony election theft and related matters.

The other thing is that Bill Cosby is — in many Americans’ eyes — still a convicted sexual assailant despite the court’s decision to overturn the conviction. to my way of thinking, the legal technicality that sprung Cosby loose from the slammer does not wipe away what a trial jury concluded.

Chauvin to spend appropriate time behind bars

By John Kanelis /

Twenty-two and a half years.

That is what a Hennepin County, Minn., judge today gave a convicted murderer and a former Minneapolis cop for his role in one of the more notorious deaths in anyone’s memory.

Judge Peter Cahill handed the sentence to Derek Chauvin, the rogue cop who killed George Floyd in May 2020 by suffocating him with his knee pressed on the back of Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. The case spurred outrage around the world as it should.

Was this the right sentence? I have trouble quibbling with it. It’s about double the minimum sentence that Cahill could have meted out, but less than what prosecutors had sought; it also was about half as long as the maximum sentence available.

So, the judge split the difference.

I watched it unfold today in my North Texas living room. I was struck by the curious testimony of Chauvin’s mother who made a strange argument that the judge also would be sentencing her to a prison term. Hmmm. My thought in the moment was: Hey, this isn’t about you. It’s about your son and the hideous crime he committed.

So, this particular chapter is now closed. Chauvin faces federal charges as well. His three former colleagues who witnessed the crime also are facing a trial in state court.

Derek Chauvin got what he deserved. As for George Floyd’s family, my continues to break for them and for their horrific loss. I hope they can find a measure of solace in knowing that the man who murdered their loved one will be locked up for a long time.

POTUS with no name

By John Kanelis /

I have just made a command decision regarding this blog.

From this moment forward I no longer am going to refer to the 45th president of the United States by name. I no longer want to memorialize it.

Why? Because the sound of his name and its appearance as a printed word sicken me. I don’t want to hurl all over my computer keyboard.

That all said, future comments on matters dealing with No. 45 will be spare. I intend to move on to the goings on with the current president, Joe Biden. I also intend to discuss policy matters. When faced with referencing the immediate past POTUS I will simply seek to write around his name.

One problem arises, though. The ex-POTUS might get indicted for criminal activity. If that moment comes, well … just wish me luck as I seek to comment without mentioning him by name.

There. Now I feel better.

Reform, not defund, police

(Photo by Pablo Monsalve / VIEWpress via Getty Images)

By John Kanelis /

The nation took some time today to remember the murder of a man at the hands of a rogue police officer.

George Floyd’s death one year ago on a Minneapolis street sparked a revolution across the land, with protesters calling for efforts to “defund the police.”

I do not accept that former cop Derek Chauvin’s hideous conduct that day in which he suffocated Floyd by pressing his knee on the back of the man’s neck for more than nine minutes should require communities to take money from police departments. Chauvin faces a lengthy prison term based on the jury’s guilty verdict on charges of murder and manslaughter.

Justice was delivered that day in the courtroom.

Does it mean we should take money away from police departments? No, it means to me that we need to reform police agencies. I continue to stand with the men and women who serve and protect us. However, I also see plenty of room for reforming the way they do their jobs.

Indeed, we have seen too damn many instances of cops responding with far too much aggression when the suspects are racial minorities. George Floyd’s death caused a justifiable uproar.

However, let us not get carried away with this “defund the police” movement. I want PDs reformed if there is cause within these departments that cry out for reform.

And, yes, I will continue to grieve over George Floyd’s death.

Trump now part of a ‘criminal’ probe

By John Kanelis /

Well now, it appears that Donald J. Trump might have a new line of crap to sling for those of his “political base” to embrace.

Hey, he can say that New York prosecutors are looking at alleged “criminal activity” inside the ex-POTUS’s sprawling business empire.

It won’t matter to the Trump fanatics out there. They seem to embrace the shenanigans upon which Trump built his organization. Now, though, the stakes well might be getting mighty hot for the former liar/imbecile/prevaricator in chief.

The Hill reports: “We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA. We have no additional comment at this time,” Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for the New York attorney general’s office, said in a statement.

New York prosecutors investigating Trump Organization in a ‘criminal capacity’ | TheHill

Trump hasn’t commented on this latest bit of news. He has chided the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into Trump’s financial matters as a “political witch hunt.” It’s a standard Trump mantra; it’s all political.

Now, it appears that the stakes are getting mighty steep.

I would love to be a fly on the wall of the room where Donald Trump might learn that he is being indicted on a felony criminal charge.

So would you like to watch Donald Trump’s reaction to such news … if it comes.

Time to stop ‘cooking’ inmates

By John Kanelis /

Not long after I reported for work at the Amarillo Globe-News, I got an invitation to tour the William P. Clements Prison Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

It was, um, an edifying experience. I learned a lot about how TDCJ treats the 3,000-plus men who are serving some seriously hard time for felony crimes.

One of the things I learned in 1995 was that TDCJ did not supply air conditioning to the living quarters housing those convicts. That’s about to change, according to the Texas Legislature, which has approved a bill to pay for air conditioning units at the myriad units throughout the massive TDCJ system.

The Texas Tribune reports: “The reality is, in Texas, we are cooking people in prisons,” state Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, said on the floor when presenting his bill. “This is the right thing to do, it is the humane thing to do, and it’s something we should have done a long time ago.”

I don’t recall during my tour the assistant warden of the Clements Unit expressing outward concern about the summer heat that convicts had to endure while serving their time. The issue did come to my mind at the time, and I recall reminding the prison official of what happens if inmates determine they are being mistreated.

I recalled when U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice determined that crowded conditions were unconstitutional. What happened next changed the shape of the Texas prison system forever. The federal government took control of the state prison complex, forcing the state to go on a prison-building binge to relieve crowding.

Can there have been another lawsuit in TDCJ’s future had the Legislature failed to act? Hey, it’s not out of the question.

Accordingly, the Legislature appears set to cool the living quarters of the hundreds of thousands of men and women in state custody. According to the Texas Tribune: Currently, 70% of the state’s nearly 100 prison facilities do not have air conditioning in living areas. Some areas, like administrative offices and infirmaries, are air conditioned at all units.

The state is going to have a hefty bill to pay if this legislation becomes law. My sense is that given the plethora of lawsuits the state already has paid, the cost of providing A/C at its prison units might look like a bargain.

Note: This blog post was published initially on


Feds now involved in Floyd murder

By John Kanelis /

A Hennepin County, Minn., jury had the good sense and common decency to endorse what we all saw on that ghastly video, which was the sight of Derek Chauvin suffocating George Floyd while arresting him for passing counterfeit money.

They convicted him of second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin faces a lengthy prison term.

4 ex-cops indicted on US civil rights charges in Floyd death (

Now, though, comes this bit of news: Chauvin and his three former Minneapolis police colleagues have been indicted by a federal grand jury of violating Floyd’s civil rights when they arrested him and then killed him.

The ordeal ain’t over for Chauvin or for Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. The three other officers also are awaiting trial in state court for their role in Floyd’s death.

You know the story. Chauvin is a white man; Floyd was an African-American. Floyd’s death drew international attention and helped spawn greater interest in the Black Lives Matter movement.

This case isn’t not about to fade into history any time soon.

Nor, frankly, should it.

Get ready for more guns, Texas

By John Kanelis /

The organization once known as the “law and order party” is about to give Texas residents some serious pause about its commitment to the issue of, um … law and order.

On the strength of all 18 Republican Texas senators and a GOP majority of Texas House members, the Legislature is about to approve a new bill that allows Texans to pack heat wherever and whenever they want — without acquiring a mandated state-issued permit to do so.

Do you feel safer now? Hah! Me neither.

I hasten to add that this legislation is being pushed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk over the strenuous objections of big-, middle- and small-city chiefs of police all over the state. Many of them, such as Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, worry about a dramatic increase in armed suspects being stopped for various violations and the risk their officers face as a result.

Now it’s a matter of giving everyone who wants to carry a gun permission to do so. Yes, they have written some restrictions into it, such as disqualifying someone with a recent felony conviction.

Still, the notion that this bill takes down so-called “arbitrary restrictions” to the Second Amendment to our Constitution is foolish. Thus, that’s why it is being called “constitutional carry” legislation.

I had expressed some hope that the Senate would resist approving this nutty notion. My hope rested on my friend state Sen. Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, who resisted it saying that the concealed carry permit restrictions were sufficient and that they did not infringe on the Second Amendment’s guarantee of firearm ownership.

I guess Seliger caved. That disappoints me.

As for the Republican legislative majority, I will presume that they all have said at least once during their political career how they support our law enforcement community. Hell, so do I!

If so, then why are they pushing back against the resistance of state’s cops?


Gun hysteria is frightening

By John Kanelis /

The hysteria coming from the right wing of the political spectrum over gun safety, gun rights and gun related violence is scaring the bejabbers out of me.

I keep hearing the same mantra. Those who want to regulate gun purchases are intending to “take away your guns.” They want to disarm law-abiding Americans. They want to “toss out the Constitution’s Second Amendment” and they want us to create a passive population that does whatever the hell the government tells us to do.

How about that? Do you believe any of it? I don’t. Neither should you or anyone else.

The Second Amendment, which I contend was written poorly by the founders, does not mean that government must not regulate the purchase of firearms. The “well-regulated Militia” part of the amendment, of course, causes me some confusion as well.

Still, no serious politician that I have heard has said a word about taking guns away from those who keep them for legitimate purposes. You know, hunters, target shooters, those who want to protect their homes and their loved ones from robbers or others who want to harm them.

Good grief, man. There’s not a damn thing wrong with any of that.

Just so you know, we have two rifles in our home. I keep them hidden away. No one is going to take them from me. Nor do I ever expect government goons to bust down my door to seize them.

The gun debate has devolved into the worst form of demagoguery possible.

Gun violence remains a crisis in this country. We elect members of Congress to represent our interests. I believe they should heed their “bosses” demand that they do more to protect us against those who want to harm us.

Libs have blowhards, too

By John Kanelis /

I recently called Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson a right-wing “blowhard,” which drew rebukes from my friends who believe he is right and others of us are mistaken about the state of affairs.

It all got me to ponder something. Do I aim my “blowhard” epithet only at right wingers and if so, am I being fair to them? I want to lay down a predicate, which is that we all are fueled by our own bias. So, when I toss out an epithet such as “blowhard,” or “gasbag” I usually am talking about righties with whom I disagree.

As I scan the political commentary landscape, I find far fewer such left-leaning targets. However, the field isn’t devoid of left wing blowhards.

In the interest of fairness, I want to offer you this example: The Rev. Al Sharpton. 

I am no fan of Sharpton. He runs the National Action Network. He has become a “civil rights leader” of some repute and renown. Sharpton shows up at protest marches to extol the virtues of Black Lives Matter. He delivers eulogies to victims of police brutality. He speaks on behalf of what I consider to be noble causes.

However, every time I see the Rev. Sharpton, I cannot erase one incident from my memory: Tawana Brawley. Do you remember her?

In the late 1980s Brawley accused white New York City police officers of brutalizing her, of raping her, of dehumanizing her. She is an African-American. At that time, up stepped Al Sharpton to raise holy hell on her behalf. He and others accused the cops of behaving in a disgraceful, despicable manner.

It turns out that Tawana Brawley made it all up. The cops sued Brawley and others, including Sharpton, for slander and defamation. They won their case!

Has the reverend ever apologized for taking part in that monumental charade? Nope. Not a word. Instead, he parlayed his 15 minutes of fame into a role he has embraced as a “civil rights leader.”

This has not a thing to do with the causes for which he speaks. I happen to endorse most of Sharpton’s platform. If only, though, he hadn’t emerged from such a scandalous event — in which he was on the wrong side of a contentious dispute — to bask in the celebrity status he enjoys today.

So, there you have it. I have just declared that lefties have blowhards, too.