The New York Criminal Law Blog

December 2012 Archives

Crossdressing Bankrobber, Released in 2011, Tries to Decapitate Friend

The family of Aston Barth, 33, got an unwanted surprise on Christmas Eve - they discovered a corpse in his closet! The head of the deceased was wrapped in plastic bags, while the body was wrapped in blankets. The stunned family notified authorities, who determined that the body, which had been there for more than a week, was Jason Campbell, 35, reports the Daily News.

When questioned by the police, Barth maintained that he did not want to face the death penalty. After being notified that New York no longer employs capital punishment, nor have they for quite some time, Barth confessed to the murder. He reportedly told police that an argument led to him strangling his friend. He then tried, unsuccessfully, to decapitate the body with an axe. When that failed, the wrapped the body up and stored it in his closet.

Who Are the Men Behind the Masks? Super Mario Gropes Woman

Their presence is enjoyed by tourists and children alike. For kids, they’d love to believe that their favorite characters from television and video games were real. They’d love even more to get a photo with their heroes.

But who are the men underneath the costumes? Damon Torres, 34, was dressed as Super Mario, of Nintendo fame. He is one of many Marios, Luigis, Elmos, and other costumed characters that troll the sidewalks of touristy areas and accept tips in exchange for photos, usually with excited children.

Another Case of Illegal Butt Injections Leads to Infection, Charges

The psychological concept of narcissism, which boils down to unhealthy vanity and self-love, comes from a Greek mythological figure, Narcissus, who fell so madly in love with his own reflection on the surface of a river that he died, either from suicide or a broken, self-loving heart.

Is narcissism to blame for the rash of illegal butt injections? Vanity? Societal pressures? Whatever the reason, women and transgender individuals without the means to procure cosmetic enhancement procedures in legal, clean, and safe environments are turning more and more towards shady figures that provide the procedures needed for far less than a licensed physician.

Unfortunately, this also seems to be leading to more plastic surgery horror stories.

Bronx D.A.'s Novel Legal Strategy Fails; Gang Crime Isn't Terrorism

The highest court has spoken, and for Edgar Morales, an admitted gang member and alleged murderer, it spoke well. His conviction for the murder of a 10-year-old girl and for charges of terrorism were overturned by New York’s highest court - the Court of Appeals, reports The New York Times. In all likelihood, he’ll be retried on the murder charge, but at least for now, he is once again innocent until proven guilty.

How does gang crime and the murder of a child become terrorism? As we discussed before, Morales was one of the St. James Boys, a neighborhood gang that prosecutors argued were more interested in obtaining power than wealth. They were alleged to be behind a number of heinous crimes, including shooting into crowds, slashing rivals with knives, robbing restaurant patrons, and in the case of their youngest victim - having a shootout at a christening.

Police Suspect Professional Hitman Used in Law Student Murder

It may be stating the obvious, but the murder of 31-year-old law student Brandon Woodward was pulled off so brazenly and so professionally that police believe that the triggerman had killed before, reports The Associated Press. The surveillance video shows a well-planned execution, beginning with the shooter arriving early, pulling his hood over his head, and awaiting the arrival of the victim.

When Woodard arrived, he appeared to be searching for an address, pacing back and forth. The killer slipped behind him, pulled out a pistol, and shot him in the head. Before the trigger was even pulled, he had turned back towards the getaway car, which was already pulling into traffic. Police believed the killer lured the victim to the scene, perhaps using a fake address.

Rabbi Weberman Guilty of Sex Abuse; Big Win for Brooklyn D.A.'s Office

Late last week, the outcome of the trial looked fairly uncertain. Alternate jurors, dismissed prior to deliberations, had either stated that they felt that there was not enough evidence to convict at all, or not enough to convict on the most serious of the charges, reported the New York Post. The remaining jurors deliberated only a short time before being sent into recess in order to allow the defendant, Rabbi Nechemya Weberman, to attend to the Sabbath.

Monday morning, according to the Daily News, the jurors only took ninety more minutes before announcing their verdict in unison: Guilty. Guilty of fifty-nine counts of abuse. Guilty of forcing the underage victim to perform oral sex and reenact pornography films during "religious counseling sessions" from 2007 to 2010. Guilty of violating the trust of an ultra-conservative religious community and the trust of the victim's family.

Man Charged for Subway Pushing; What About the Photographer?

The last moment of Ki Suk Han’s life was caught on film. A photographer, from the New York Post, managed to take an in focus picture of Han, trying to climb onto the platform, moments before he was struck by the oncoming train, all while trying to warn the oncoming train conductor by flashing his camera repeatedly.

The alleged murderer has been caught. Naeem Davis, 30, confessed after a transit cop recognized him from surveillance footage. Davis claimed that the two had bumped into each other at the turnstiles and continued to argue on the platform, reports the New York Post. Davis also reportedly told police, “I begged him to leave me alone, and he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t stay away, and I pushed him.” He was charged with murder earlier this morning.

Corkscrew Castrator Renato Seabra Convicted, Faces Life

The trial took two months. The jurors took only one day to convict Renato Seabra, 23, of murder and to dismiss his claims of insanity. Despite more than twenty physicians with St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Bellevue Hospital, and the Department of Corrections agreeing that Seabra suffered from a severe mental illness, the prosecutor’s expert, who testified that Seabra was not insane at the time of the murder, swayed the jury, reports the New York Times.

For those unfamiliar with Seabra’s horrific crime, he was charged with murder after brutally beating his lover, 65-year-old Carlos Castro, to death with a computer, a wine bottle, and other objects. He also reportedly removed Castro’s testicles with a corkscrew while the victim was still alive. During the trial, testimony was presented that Seabra removed Castro’s testicles and placed them on his wrists to draw their power.