Judge jails gentle giant’s killer for nine years over cowardly punch outside Victorian pub


A 42-year-old man who punched and killed a pub patron during a drunken night-out in western Victoria has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Shane Lucas pleaded guilty to manslaughter over the fatal altercation that killed 39-year-old David Blake at a Creswick pub in November 2019.

A lovable plasterer nicknamed “Tender” due to his gentle nature, Mr Blake died at the scene despite desperate attempts from paramedics and patrons to revive him.

He leaves a family traumatised by his violent demise, grappling with the “senseless violence” that brought about his death.

Lucas pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the Supreme Court to nine years in prison with a six-year non-parole period.

In sentencing, Supreme Court Justice Michael Croucher likened Lucas to a “nasty hyena taking down a noble wildebeest”.

The court heard Lucas was at the pub with a woman he met on a dating app and had consumed a significant amount of alcohol by the time last drinks were called the night of the attack.

Lucas and the victim were talking with friends outside the pub when the 42-year-old’s mood turned and he punched Mr Blake twice in the head.

The first hit grazed the victim’s chin, while the second landed harder. Mr Black fell backwards, hitting his head on the concrete.

Less than an hour later he was declared dead.

Justice Croucher described Lucas as “a quick tempered drunkard, a lout suffering delusions of grandeur”.

“Lucas kept bouncing around (after the attack) in an orthodox pose as if he was Mohammed Ali,” Justice Croucher said.

Lucas ran from the scene before handing himself into police in Ballarat about four hours later.

“He was admonished for being a coward … and to confirm the accuracy of that barb, he fled the scene,” Justice Croucher said.

“This is a man cut down in his prime by unlawful and senseless violence.”

Lucas has been in custody since his arrest.

Lucas pleaded guilty to manslaughter in September, after initially pleading not guilty to the offence.

Much of Lucas’s sentencing focused on the prosecution’s application to have the offence made subject of the state’s “coward punch” laws, which feature a mandatory minimum 10-year jail term.

Justice Croucher said the attack, though heinous, did not meet the strict standard required by the legislation.

“The offence is still serious,” Justice Croucher said.

“It’s not like the movies or computer games where those assaulted these ways bounce back without harm.

Mr Blake was remembered in court as a dedicated family man with a heart of gold.

Justice Croucher read from victim impact statements by Mr Blake’s family.

“The grief and pain for loved ones left behind is palpable … when a child predeceases a mother it reverses the natural order,” he said.

Mr Blake’s mother told the court her son had been a constant support since the death of her husband, always available for a big bear hug.

His sister said she was haunted by memories of her brother lying where he died, while his brother said he can’t go out “without watching his back”.

Judge Croucher said Lucas had endured a troubling childhood surrounded by violence

He said Lucas had reasonable-to-good prospects of rehabilitation.

Lucas has served 461 days of his pre-sentence detention and will be eligible for release in 2025.

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Top Tassie chef launches inspired pop-up with ‘killer menu’



Prior to returning home to Tasmania at the beginning of the pandemic, chef Lilly Trewartha was spending her days manning the hibachi grill at trendy London yakitori restaurant, Peg. Having perfected the art of yakitori and inspired by multiple visits to Japan over the years, Lilly has launched her own pop-up concept, Izakaya TEMPorary, located within Templo Restaurant on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

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Hayley Dodd’s accused killer Frances Wark faces second trial for alleged 1999 murder


More than 20 years after teenager Hayley Dodd vanished from a remote WA road, a convicted rapist accused of abducting and murdering her is facing a new trial.

Francis John Wark is alleged to have snatched the 17-year-old as she walked in broad daylight along a road near the property where he lived in Badgingarra, abut 200 kilometres north of Perth, on July 29, 1999.

Hayley has not been seen or heard from since.

Today a second trial started for Mr Wark in the Supreme Court, with Justice Stephen Hall telling the jury members while it was “no secret” there had been previous hearing, the outcome and fact it had happened was not relevant.

He also told them it was important not to speculate about the previous trial and that they should put it out of their minds.

“This is a completely new trial. The accused has pleaded not guilty and is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” he said.

Earring found in car seat cover

In an opening address to the jury, the WA Director of Public Prosecutions, Amanda Forrester SC, said it was the state’s case Mr Wark abducted the teenager with a “sexual intention” before disposing of her body.

She said the evidence against the accused included the discovery 14 years later of an earring, matching those believed to have been worn by the 17-year-old, in a car seat cover seized from the vehicle Mr Wark was driving on the day she vanished.

The jury was shown a sketch of Hayley Dodd’s earring done by her friend, and the one found in a car used by Francis Wark.(Supplied: WA Supreme Court)

Ms Forrester said a hair was also discovered amongst vacuumings taken from the floor of the vehicle, and multiple tests had shown it was “highly likely” the DNA found on it could have come from Ms Dodd.

She outlined Mr Wark’s 2007 conviction for abducting a woman from a remote road in Queensland and repeatedly sexually assaulting her.

She said the state argued that showed he had a “tendency to pick up women and violently sexually assault them”.

Wark’s car allegedly seen on road

Mr Wark maintains he was shopping in the nearby town of Moora when Ms Dodd was last seen alive, around 11.30am walking along North West Road.

But Ms Forrester argued witnesses who claimed to have seen a vehicle similar to his on the road that day showed his alibi was false.

Hayley Dodd poses for a photo with her head resting on her right hand.
Hayley Dodd was last seen walking along a road in WA’s Wheatbelt.(AAP: Australian Missing Persons Register)

“The evidence shows that was on North West Road, near where Hayley Dodd was seen, and he did have the opportunity to abduct her that day,” she said.

The court heard Ms Dodd was a week into a working trip around Australia and Ms Forrester said she was “full of plans for the future and excited what lay ahead”.

She said when Hayley disappeared, she was on her way to make a surprise visit to a family she had stayed with before, but she had “the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

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Peter Madsen: Danish submarine killer sentenced to 21 months for prison escape


A Danish man convicted of torturing and murdering a Swedish journalist has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for his attempted prison escape last year.

Peter Madsen was serving a life sentence for killing Kim Wall on his homemade submarine in 2017.

Last October, he briefly escaped from Herstedvester prison in suburban Copenhagen after threatening prison staff and police with a fake gun and false explosives he had made in jail.

He was quickly apprehended around 500 metres from the facility after prison staff saw him jump into a passing white van and informed the police.

Madsen accepted the additional sentence of one year and nine months handed down by Glostrup City Court on Tuesday.

The conviction does not add any time to his life sentence but may affect his ability to make future probation requests.

Madsen told the court that his plan was to hijack cars, take the owners’ mobile phones and travel south to Germany.

The 2017 murder of award-winning journalist Wall made Madsen one of Denmark’s most notorious criminals and the subsequent trial gripped Scandinavia.

The 30-year-old reporter was lured aboard Madsen’s Nautilus vessel with the promise of an interview about a rocket programme he had founded in 2014.

Wall’s partner later reported her missing and her body was found dismembered 11 days later on a beach.

The self-taught engineer was convicted of her sexual assault and murder by Copenhagen City Court in 2018.

Madsen initially claimed the death was an accident, but during his trial, he admitted to cutting up the body and throwing it into the Baltic Sea.

Madsen lost his appeal against the life sentence and apologised to the victim’s family after the appeals court.

Last month he admitted his guilt for the first time to a journalist in a documentary broadcast on Danish television.

Life sentences in Denmark usually mean 16 years in prison, but convicts are reassessed to determine whether they would pose a danger to society if released and can be kept longer.

During his trial, the psychiatric expert said that Madsen is “a pathological liar” and “a danger to others”.

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Harry Dunn’s alleged killer Anne Sacoolas was an intelligence worker, her lawyer confirms | UK News



The woman accused of killing Harry Dunn was employed by an intelligence agency in the US at the time of his death, a court has heard.

Anne Sacoolas was leaving RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019 when she was involved in a crash with 19-year-old Harry, who was on his motorbike.

She had been driving on the wrong side of the road but claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to the US with her family.

Despite being charged with causing Harry’s death by dangerous driving a few months later and an extradition request by the UK, Mrs Sacoolas has refused to return.

US presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden have both declined to send her back, saying the US rejection of the extradition request is “final”.

Harry’s family has made a civil claim for damages against Mrs Sacoolas and her application to dismiss this claim is being heard at the Alexandria District Court in Virginia.

Sacoolas’s barrister John McGavin said the suspect was “employed by an intelligence agency in the US” at the time of the fatal road crash – which was “especially a factor” in her departure from the UK.

The admission about her employment calls into question the diplomatic immunity that was asserted on her behalf.

Under the agreements at RAF Croughton dating back to 1995, anyone working at the base from the US as part of the “administrative and technical staff” would have their immunity pre-waived, meaning they would not be immune from criminal jurisdiction.

Spokesman for Harry Dunn‘s family, Radd Seiger, told PA: “Given the admission in open court by Mrs Sacoolas’s counsel that she was employed by US intelligence services at the time of the crash, the UK authorities must now urgently reinvestigate whether she had diplomatic immunity.

“They have to investigate given that employees had their immunity pre-waived under the 1995 RAF Croughton legal agreement.”

Mr McGavin said Sacoolas, 43, had “fled” the UK due to “issues of security”, adding that he could not “completely candidly” explain the reason behind this.

He added: “I know the answer but I cannot disclose it.”

Mr McGavin said the suspect was “currently apologetic” and has “accepted responsibility for the accident” but there had been “fear” that because of the “media attention, she would not have a fair trial”.

The case has been adjourned until 17 February.

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Hearing for partner of Nova Scotia mass killer put over, no plea entered


The common-law wife of the man responsible for the country’s largest mass shooting did not enter a plea Wednesday during her arraignment on charges of providing him with the ammunition used in last spring’s massacre in northern Nova Scotia.

Instead, during a teleconference hearing, at which Lisa Banfield was not present, lawyer Jessica Zita settled another court date in March to enter a plea, pending further disclosure from the Crown.

Banfield, 52, of Dartmouth, had been charged with unlawfully transferring ammunition between March 17, 2020 and April 18, 2020. James Banfield, 64, of Sackville and Brian Brewster, 60, of Sackville face the same charges.

Lawyers for James Banfield and Brian Brewster also held off entering a plea until the March court date.

Those charges are the only ones to be brought by police since the investigation into the killings began.

Police stated in laying the charges that, based on their investigation, the three accused had no prior knowledge of the gunman’s actions on April 18-19.

The ammunition specifically cited by police was .223-calibre Remington cartridges and .40-calibre Smith & Wesson cartridges. RCMP investigators allege that the ammunition was purchased and trafficked in Nova Scotia.

Gabriel Wortman, a 51-year-old denturist, terrorized residents of Colchester County last spring when he went on a murderous rampage, beginning with an assault on Banfield in Portapique, N.S., on the night of April 18.

She managed to escape captivity and hid out in the woods surrounding the property until finding police the next morning.

Over the next 13 hours, Wortman killed 22 people in four different communities — including one RCMP officer — shot pets and set homes and cars on fire.

During much of that rampage, he was driving a replica RCMP car and wearing a Mountie uniform.

The killings ended April 19, when police spotted him and killed him at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., almost 100 kilometres from Portapique.

A public inquiry has been launched by the federal and provincial governments. The three commissioners on the inquiry panel are expected to produce an interim report in May 2022, with a final report coming in November of the same year.

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Federal government executes womb raider killer Lisa Montgomery


Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1.31am EST on Wednesday

The only woman on federal death row has been executed by lethal injection after an 11th-hour order from the Supreme Court cleared all legal obstacles to carrying out her death sentence.

Lisa Montgomery, 52, was pronounced dead at 1.31am EST on Wednesday at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana in what could be the final federal execution under President Donald Trump. 

Montgomery, who is from Kansas, killed expectant mother Bobbie Jo Stinnett in Missouri in 2004 before cutting the baby from Stinnett’s womb and attempting to pass off the newborn as her own.

Montgomery’s attorneys blasted the execution in an emotional statement, saying: ‘The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight.’ 

As a curtain was raised in the execution chamber on Wednesday, Montgomery looked momentarily bewildered as she glanced at journalists peering at her from behind thick glass. 

As the execution process began, a woman standing over Montgomery’s shoulder leaned over, gently removed Montgomery’s face mask and asked her if she had any last words. ‘No,’ Montgomery responded in a quiet, muffled voice. She said nothing else.

She tapped her fingers nervously for several seconds, displaying a heart-shaped tattoo on her thumb, but she otherwise showed no signs of distress, and quickly closed her eyes. 

Originally scheduled for 6pm on Tuesday, Montgomery’s execution was delayed after last-ditch appeals from her attorneys, who had argued that she was mentally incompetent and had suffered a lifetime of horrible sexual abuse.  

Protesters in opposition to the death penalty gathered to protest the execution of Lisa Montgomery outside the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana on Tuesday

Protesters in opposition to the death penalty gathered to protest the execution of Lisa Montgomery outside the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana on Tuesday

The order just before midnight on Tuesday allows the execution of Lisa Montgomery to proceed, removing the final legal barriers in the case

Bobbie Jo Stinnett

Lisa Montgomery (left), executed early on January 13, was convicted in 2007 in Missouri for kidnapping and strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett (right)

The Department of Justice issued a new notice of execution, dated January 13, informing Montgomery that her death sentence would be carried out on January 13

The Department of Justice issued a new notice of execution, dated January 13, informing Montgomery that her death sentence would be carried out on January 13

Just before midnight on Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued an order removing the final legal barriers to the execution, and minutes later it became clear it was proceeding immediately as witnesses were moved to the execution area. 

The Department of Justice issued a new notice of execution, dated January 13, informing Montgomery that her death sentence would be carried out on January 13. 

Kelley Henry, Montgomery’s lawyer, in scathing remarks, called the execution, ‘vicious, unlawful, and unnecessary exercise of authoritarian power.’

‘No one can credibly dispute Mrs. Montgomery’s longstanding debilitating mental disease – diagnosed and treated for the first time by the Bureau of Prisons’ own doctors,’ Henry said in a statement. 

The Supreme Court ruling removed the final legal barriers to the execution, which Montgomery’s attorneys had hoped to delay until the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, a death penalty opponent.  

Some of Stinnett’s relatives have traveled to Indiana witness Montgomery’s execution, the Justice Department said. 

In Tuesday night’s ruling, the Supreme Court’s three liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — dissented, saying they would grant the stay that Montgomery’s attorneys sought. 

Montgomery´s legal team says she suffered “sexual torture,” including gang rapes, as a child, permanently scarring her emotionally and exacerbating mental-health issues that ran in her family.

At trial, prosecutors accused Montgomery of faking mental illness, noting that her killing of Stinnett was premeditated and included meticulous planning, including online research on how to perform a C-section.

Henry balked at that idea, citing extensive testing and brain scans that supported the diagnosis of mental illness.

Henry said the issue at the core of the legal arguments are not whether she knew the killing was wrong in 2004 but whether she fully grasps why she is slated to be executed now.

Montgomery’s execution is the first of a woman a federal level since 1953. Following her execution, there are now 51 inmates on federal death row, all of them men.

Montgomery, 52, had originally been scheduled to be killed by lethal injections of pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate, at 6pm EST on Tuesday, but last minute legal challenges delayed the execution. 

Anti-death-penalty activist Glenda Breeden holds a lamp on Tuesday while protesting against the execution of Lisa Montgomery at Terre Haute Federal Prison

Anti-death-penalty activist Glenda Breeden holds a lamp on Tuesday while protesting against the execution of Lisa Montgomery at Terre Haute Federal Prison 

The St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of the execution on Monday, siding with her lawyers that the government had scheduled her execution in violation of the original sentencing court’s judgment issued in 2007. 

That stay was vacated by the Supreme Court late on Tuesday.

Separately, a federal judge on the 7th Circuit in Indiana had ordered the execution to be postponed to allow for a hearing on whether she was too mentally ill to be executed. 

‘The record before the Court contains ample evidence that Ms. Montgomery’s current mental state is so divorced from reality that she cannot rationally understand the government’s rationale for her execution,’ Judge Hanlon wrote in his ruling.

‘Both the (government) and the victims of crime have an important interest in the timely enforcement of a sentence,’ he said, citing precedent.

But ‘it is also in the public interest to ensure that the government does not execute a prisoner who due to her mental condition ‘cannot appreciate the meaning of a community’s judgement.”

But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago overturned the stay on Tuesday afternoon.  Montgomery’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to overturn that ruling, which they declined.

Montgomery faced execution Tuesday at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, (pictured) Indiana , just eight days before President-elect Joe Biden , an opponent of the federal death penalty, takes office

Montgomery faced execution Tuesday at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, (pictured) Indiana , just eight days before President-elect Joe Biden , an opponent of the federal death penalty, takes office

Montgomery’s execution was one of three that were to supposed be the last before President-elect Joe Biden, an opponent of the federal death penalty, is sworn-in next week. 

Now following legal challenges it’s unclear how many additional executions there will be under President Donald Trump, who resumed federal executions in July after 17-year pause. Ten federal inmates have since been put to death. 

Separately from Montgomery’s case, a federal judge for the U.S. District of Columbia halted the scheduled executions later this week of Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgs in a ruling Tuesday. 

Johnson was convicted of killing seven people related to his drug trafficking in Virginia, and Higgs was convicted of ordering the murders of three women in Maryland. 

Both tested positive for COVID-19 last month, and a judge ruled they should be allowed to recover before facing execution. 

Montgomery’s shocking crime: Killer strangled pregnant mother and stole her child through crude C-section 

In 2004, Montgomery drove about 170 miles from her Melvern, Kansas, farmhouse to the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore under the guise of adopting a rat terrier puppy from Bobbie Jo Stinnett, a 23-year-old dog breeder. 

She strangled Stinnett with a rope before performing a crude cesarean and fleeing with the baby. 

She was arrested the next day after showing off the premature infant, Victoria Jo, who survived and is now 16 years old and hasn’t spoken publicly about the tragedy.

In 2007, Montgomery was convicted of kidnapping resulting in death and handed a death sentence. She would have been the first woman executed by the federal justice system since 1953. 

‘As we walked across the threshold our Amber Alert was scrolling across the TV at that very moment,’ recalled Randy Strong, who was part of the northwest Missouri major case squad at the time.

He looked to his right and saw Montgomery holding the newborn and was awash in relief when she handed her over to law enforcement. 

The preceding hours had been a blur in which he photographed Stinnett’s body and spent a sleepless night looking for clues – unsure of whether the baby was dead or alive and no idea what she looked like.

But then tips began arriving about Montgomery, who had a history of faking pregnancies and suddenly had a baby. Strong, now the sheriff of Nodaway County, where the killing happened, hopped in an unmarked car with another officer. 

He learned while en route that the email address fischer4kids(at)hotmail.com that was used to set up the deadly meeting with Stinnett had been sent from a dial-up connection at Montgomery’s home.

Expectant mother Bobbie Jo Stinnett at a dog show

Zeb Stinnett and baby Victoria Jo Stinnett

Left: Expectant mother Bobbie Jo Stinnett at a dog show. Right:  Zeb Stinnett and baby Victoria Jo Stinnett, who was cut from her mother’s womb by Montgomery in the gruesome attack

A group shot from the dog show in Abilene, Kansas. Lisa Montgomery (second from left), Bobbi Jo (second from right) and Zeb Stinnett (far right) pose with their dogs

A group shot from the dog show in Abilene, Kansas. Lisa Montgomery (second from left), Bobbi Jo (second from right) and Zeb Stinnett (far right) pose with their dogs

‘I absolutely knew I was walking into the killer’s home,’ recalled Strong, saying rat terriers ran around his feet as he approached her house. Like Stinnett, Montgomery also raised rat terriers.

Bobbie Jo Stinnett’s mother, Becky Harper, sobbed as she told a Missouri dispatcher about stumbling across her daughter in a pool of blood, her womb slashed open and the child she had been carrying missing.

‘It’s like she exploded or something,’ Harper told the dispatcher on December 16, 2004, during the desperate yet futile attempt to get help for her daughter.

Prosecutors said her motive was that Stinnett’s ex-husband knew she had undergone a tubal ligation that made her sterile and planned to reveal she was lying about being pregnant in an effort to get custody of two of their four children. 

Needing a baby before a fast-approaching court date, Montgomery turned her focus on Stinnett, whom she had met at dog shows.

Montgomery’s lawyers, though, have argued that sexual abuse during Montgomery’s childhood led to mental illness. 

Attorney Kelley Henry spoke in favor of Monday’s decision, saying in a statement to the Capital-Journal that ‘Mrs. Montgomery has brain damage and severe mental illness that was exacerbated by the lifetime of sexual torture she suffered at the hands of caretakers.’

Montgomery, now 52, was abused by her stepfather, who built a room in the back of a trailer where they lived in which he and his friends raped her from about the age of 11, and where her mother pimped her for sex, Montgomery’s lawyers said. 

Montgomery suffered sexual abuse and torture at the hands of her stepfather and mother that Montgomery's lawyers and her sister, who was also raped in their childhood home, compared to a horror movie. In a nearly 7,000-page clemency petition filed earlier in January, they asked Trump to commute Montgomery's sentence to life in prison

Montgomery suffered sexual abuse and torture at the hands of her stepfather and mother that Montgomery’s lawyers and her sister, who was also raped in their childhood home, compared to a horror movie. In a nearly 7,000-page clemency petition filed earlier in January, they asked Trump to commute Montgomery’s sentence to life in prison

Diane Mattingly, Montgomery’s older sister, previously told reporters at a briefing that she was also repeatedly raped, sometimes with Montgomery in the same room, until authorities removed her to foster care.

‘So many people let her down,’ Mattingly said. ‘Yes, I started out the same way, but I went into a place where I was loved and cared for and shown self worth. I had a good foundation. Lisa did not and she broke. She literally broke.’ 

Her stepfather denied the sexual abuse in videotaped testimony and said he didn’t have a good memory when confronted with a transcript of a divorce proceeding in which he admitted some physical abuse. 

Her mother testified that she never filed a police complaint because he had threatened her and her children.

But the jurors who heard the case, some crying through the gruesome testimony, disregarded the defense in convicting her of kidnapping resulting in death.

Prosecutors argued that Stinnett regained consciousness and tried to defend herself as Montgomery used a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from her womb. 

Later that day, Montgomery called her husband to pick her up in the parking lot of a Long John Silver’s in Topeka, Kansas, telling him she had delivered the baby earlier in the day at a nearby birthing center.

She eventually confessed, and the rope and bloody knife used to kill Stinnett were found in her car. A search of her computer showed she used it to research Cesareans and order a birthing kit.

Montgomery was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in December 2004. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then cut the baby girl from the womb with a kitchen knife, authorities said. Montgomery took the child with her and attempted to pass the girl off as her own, prosecutors said

Montgomery was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in the northwest Missouri town of Skidmore in December 2004. She used a rope to strangle Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, and then cut the baby girl from the womb with a kitchen knife, authorities said. Montgomery took the child with her and attempted to pass the girl off as her own, prosecutors said

Pictured: Demonstrators protest federal executions of death row inmates, in front of the US Justice Department in Washington, DC, on December 10, 2020

Pictured: Demonstrators protest federal executions of death row inmates, in front of the US Justice Department in Washington, DC, on December 10, 2020

Stinnett’s husband, Zeb, told jurors his world ‘crashed to an end’ when he learned his wife was dead. 

He said he didn’t return for months to the couple’s home in Skidmore, a small farming community that earlier gained notoriety after the 1981 slaying of town bully Ken Rex McElroy in front of a crowd of people who refused to implicate the killer or killers. 

That crime was chronicled in a book, ‘In Broad Daylight,’ as well as a TV movie, the film ‘Without Mercy’ and the miniseries ‘No One Saw a Thing.’

President-elect Joe Biden’s stance on the death penalty

After current president Donald Trump resumed the federal death penalty in 2020 – for the first time in 17 years – president-elect Joe Biden has signalled his intention to eliminate capital punishment at a federal level.

On Joe Biden’s website outlining the policies of the in-coming commander-in-chief, he instead proposes that individuals on death row should ‘serve life sentences without probation or parole.’

‘Over 160 individuals who’ve been sentenced to death in this country since 1973 have later been exonerated,’ his website says.

‘Because we cannot ensure we get death penalty cases right every time, Biden will work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and incentivize states to follow the federal government’s example. 

‘These individuals should instead serve life sentences without probation or parole.’

Recently, on Victoria Jo’s birthday, he sent Strong, the sheriff, a message through Facebook Messenger thanking him.

‘I just wept,’ Strong recalled. ‘He is going to constantly be reminded of this whether in his nightmares or somebody is going to call and want to interview him. 

‘The family doesn’t want to be interviewed. They want to be left alone. The community of Skidmore has had a troubling past and history. They didn’t want this. They didn’t deserve this.’

Montgomery originally was scheduled to be put to death on Dec. 8. But the execution was temporarily blocked after her attorneys contracted the coronavirus visiting her in prison.

Without denying the seriousness of her crime, Montgomery’s lawyers last week sought clemency from US President Donald Trump.

But Trump, an outspoken supporter of the death penalty, has so far failed to act on their request. He has allowed more executions in a year than any other U.S. president has done since the 19th century.

Despite the decline of capital punishment in the US and around the world, Trump’s administration, revived the punishment in the federal system in 2020 after a 17-year hiatus even as the novel coronavirus spread to infect prison employees, inmates’ lawyers and two other inmates facing execution. 

Biden – who takes office on January 20 – has promised to work with Congress to try and abolish the death penalty altogether.

Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo has said the president-elect ‘opposes the death penalty now and in the future’ and would work as president to end its use. 

But Ducklo did not say whether executions would be paused immediately once Biden takes office.   

Developing story, more to follow.

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Samuel Little: Most prolific serial killer in US history dies in California hospital | US News


A convicted murderer, considered by the FBI to be the most prolific serial killer in US history, has died at a hospital in California.

Samuel Little, who had been serving three consecutive life sentences for the killing of three women in Los Angeles County during the 1980s, ultimately confessed to killing 93 people.

The state corrections department said the 80-year-old died on Wednesday, but that an official cause of death would be determined by the county medical examiner’s office.

Image:
FBI videotapes made during his confessions showed Little smiling as he recounted the killings

Little was convicted of the three murders in September 2014 after his DNA was found at the crime scenes.

Before that, he served two sentences, including a four-year term ending in 1987 for assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment, and another spell of around 14 months ending in April 2014.

When interviewed by a Texas Ranger in his California prison cell in 2018, Little began confessing to further murders, according to the FBI.

He ultimately admitted strangling dozens of people across the country between 1970 and 2005, and drowning one of his victims.

The agency says investigators have since verified 50 of his 93 confessions, with many more needing final confirmation, making him the deadliest US serial killer on record.

Little is said to have targeted mostly vulnerable, young black women – many of them prostitutes or drug addicts, whose deaths escaped the headlines and in some cases were not recorded as homicides.

A sketch of a victim Little said was the only person he killed by drowning in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1982
Image:
A sketch of a victim Little said was the only person he killed by drowning in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1982

According to the only FBI profile of him, many of his victims’ deaths were originally ruled overdoses, or considered accidental. Some causes of deaths were undetermined and some bodies were never found.

FBI videotapes made during his confessions showed Little wearing blue prison scrubs and a cap, appearing to be bemused or smiling as he recounted the killings.

In a statement, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said he had been incarcerated in Lancaster, California, north of Los Angeles, but died early yesterday morning at a hospital outside the prison.



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Samuel Little, deemed the nation’s ‘most prolific serial killer’ by the FBI, has died


An official cause of death has yet to be determined.

Samuel Little, the prolific serial killer who was serving three consecutive life sentences, is dead, authorities said Wednesday.

Little died at a hospital shortly before 5 a.m. local time, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. An official cause of death will be determined by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office. He was 80.

The FBI has deemed Little “the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history.”

He was convicted in 2014 of killing three women in the late 1980s, after being linked to the murders through DNA matched to evidence found at the crime scenes.

Subsequently, Little confessed to strangling 93 victims between 1970 and 2005, according to the FBI. The FBI said investigators believed his confessions were credible and had verified 50 as of October 2019.

One of his suspected victims was just identified in October. Patricia Parker, who was a 30-year-old mother from Chattanooga, Tennessee, was found slain and dumped alongside a Georgia freeway nearly 40 years ago. Authorities said they believe Little killed her.

Little’s life of crime spanned decades, according to a 2018 FBI report. He was first arrested in 1956 and displayed a “dark, violent streak” in his crimes, which included shoplifting, fraud, drug charges, solicitation and breaking and entering, the FBI said.

He spent a term in prison prior to his conviction on murder charges in 2014, serving two years in California state prison from 1985 to 1987 for assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment.

In 2012, Little was arrested at a Kentucky homeless shelter and extradited to California on a narcotics charge, the FBI said. That’s when police in Los Angeles matched his DNA to three unsolved murders from the late 1980s.

“In all three cases, the women had been beaten and then strangled, their bodies dumped in an alley, a dumpster, and a garage,” the FBI said in its report.

Despite asserting his innocence, Little was convicted and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Since his confession in 2018 to killing 93 women, investigators have been racing to identify as many of his victims as possible and help close the unsolved cases.

While jailed, investigators have interviewed Little and had him draw dozens of pictures of women — almost all women of color — he admitted to killing over nearly 40 years.

“For many years, Samuel Little believed he would not be caught because he thought no one was accounting for his victims,” Christie Palazzolo, a crime analyst with the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, said in a statement when the agency launched its initiative to identify the women. “Even though he is already in prison, the FBI believes it is important to seek justice for each victim — to close every case possible.”



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Serial killer Samuel Little dies in California


The man authorities say was the most prolific serial killer in US history with nearly 60 confirmed victims, died on Wednesday in California, officials said.

Samuel Little, 80, had diabetes, heart trouble and other ailments, died at a California hospital.

He was serving a life sentence for multiple counts of murder.

This September 24, 2018 booking photo provided by the California Department of Corrections shows Samuel Little. Authorities say Little was the most prolific serial killer in US history. (AP)

California corrections department spokeswoman Vicky Waters said there was no sign of foul play, and his cause of death will be determined by a coroner.

A career criminal who had been in and out jail for decades, Little denied for years he’d ever killed anyone.

Then, in 2018, he opened up to Texas Ranger James Holland, who had been asked to question him about a killing it turned out Little didn’t commit.

During approximately 700 hours of interviews, however, Little provided details of scores of slayings only the killer would know.

A skilled artist, he even provided Mr Holland with dozens of paintings and drawings of his victims, sometimes scribbling their names when he could remember them, as well as details such as the year and location of the murder and where he’d dumped the body.

By the time of his death, Little had confessed to killing 93 people between 1970 and 2005.

Authorities believe Little may have had a photographic memory, due to his ability to draw and recount vivid details about his victims.
Authorities believe Little may have had a photographic memory, due to his ability to draw and recount vivid details about his victims. (fbi.gov)

Most of the slayings took place in Florida and Southern California.

Authorities, who continue to investigate his claims, said they have confirmed nearly 60 killings and have no reason to doubt the others.

“Nothing he’s ever said has been proven to be wrong or false,” Mr Holland told the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes in 2019.

The numbers dwarf those of Green River killer Gary Ridgeway (49), John Gacy (33) and Ted Bundy (36).

Almost all of Little’s victims were women, many of them prostitutes, drug addicts or poor people living on the edges of society.

They were individuals, he said he believed would leave few people behind to look for them and not much evidence for police to follow.

Indeed, local authorities in states across the country initially classified many of the deaths as accidents, drug overdoses or the result of unknown causes.

Little strangled most of his victims, usually soon after meeting them during chance encounters.

Little recalled the name of this woman to be Marianne or Mary Ann, recounting that in 1971 or 1972 he met an attractive 18 to 19-year-old transgender black woman in Miami, Florida.
Little recalled the name of this woman to be Marianne or Mary Ann, recounting that in 1971 or 1972 he met an attractive 18 to 19-year-old transgender black woman in Miami, Florida. (fbi.gov)

He drowned one, a woman he met at a nightclub in 1982.

He was nearly 80, in failing health and serving a life sentence in a California prison when he began confiding to Mr Holland in May 2018, after years of refusing to talk to other authorities.

Once a strong, strapping boxer who used his powerful hands to strangle his victims, he was now using a wheelchair to get around.

Mr Holland has described Little as both a genius and a sociopath, adding the killer could never adequately explain to him why he did what he did.

Although known as an expert interrogator, Mr Holland himself said he could only guess at why Little opened up to him.

The ranger did work tirelessly to create and maintain a bond with the killer during their hundreds of hours of interviews, bringing him favourite snacks such as pizza, Dr. Pepper and grits, and discussing their mutual interest in sports.

<p>It's the question everybody ponders, but nobody wants to ever have
to answer: what would you eat for a last meal?</p>
<p>It's a prison custom in that a person facing
execution should get to choose what they eat before they are put to death.</p>
<p>Here's some of the most infamous last meals eaten by prisoners on
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What serial killers ate as their last meal on death row

He also gave Little assurances that he wouldn’t be executed.

Mr Holland would address Little by his childhood nickname, Sammy, while Little called Mr Holland Jimmy and once told the Los Angeles Times he’d “found a friend in a Texas ranger.”

He told 60 Minutes he hoped his confessions might exonerate anyone wrongly convicted of his crimes.

“I say if I can help get somebody out of jail, you know, then God might smile a little bit more on me,” he said.

A transient who traveled the country when he wasn’t in jail for larceny, assault, drugs or other crimes, Little said he started killing in Miami on New Year’s Eve 1970.

Little targeted mostly women, saying he was sexually drawn to their necks.
Little targeted mostly women, saying he was sexually drawn to their necks. (fbi.gov)

“It was like drugs,” he told Mr Holland.

His last killing was in 2005, he said, in Tupelo, Mississippi.

He also killed people in Tennessee, Texas, Ohio, Kentucky, Nevada, Arkansas and other states.

Kentucky authorities finally caught up with him in 2012 after he was arrested on drug charges and his DNA linked him to three California killings.

When he began recounting the other slayings, authorities were astounded at how much he remembered.

His paintings, they said, indicated he had a photographic memory.

One killing was solved after Little recalled the victim wore dentures.

Another after he told Mr Holland he’d killed the victim near a set of unusual looking arches in Florida.

A victim he met outside a Miami strip club in 1984 was remembered as being 25-years-old with short blond hair, blue eyes and a “hippie look.”

As he continued to talk, authorities across the country rushed to investigate old cases, track down relatives and bring closure to families.

Little revealed few details about his own life other than that he was raised in Lorain, Ohio, by his grandmother.

A series of booking photos shows how America's most prolific serial killer looked during the years spanning 1966 to 1995.
A series of booking photos shows how America’s most prolific serial killer looked during the years spanning 1966 to 1995. (fbi.gov)

Authorities said he often went by the name Samuel McDowell.

He was married once, Little said, and involved in two long-term relationships.

He claimed he developed a fetish for women’s necks after becoming sexually aroused when he saw his kindergarten teacher touch her neck.

He was always careful, he added, to avoid looking at the necks of his wife or girlfriends and never hurt anyone he loved.

“I don’t think there was another person who did what I liked to do,” he told 60 Minutes.

“I think I’m the only one in the world. And that’s not an honor, that is a curse.”



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