Update: Mother Who Heard Voices Drowned Both Sons

A Pennsylvania woman, Laurel Michelle Schlemmer, 40, drowned her three-year-old son in a bathtub. She also attempted to drown her six-year-old son because “crazy voices” told her she would be a better mother to her third child if the other two “weren’t around.”

According to court documents, the mother put her oldest son, age 7, onto the bus before nine in the morning. She returned to the family home, filled up the bathtub and told the younger boys to take off their pajamas and get into the bathtub. She was fully clothed when she got into the tub as the “crazy voices” told her to push the boys into the water. She sat on top of them while they were submerged under the water.

She told detectives that she thought she would be a better mother to the seven-year-old child if the other two weren’t around. She thought that the other two would be “better off in heaven.”

After getting out of the bathtub, she took off her wet clothes, put them and two towels into a trash bag in the garbage. She then lifted the boys out of the bathtub, put them on the bathroom floor and called 911.

She did not attempt to resuscitate the boys because she “did not know how to do it.”

Another Andrea Yates?

This case is fairly similar to Andrea Yates. Andrea Yates was a middle-class Texas severely mentally ill mother who drowned her five children in a bathtub. The drownings began nearly as soon as her husband left for the day.

She took each child and put them face down in the water, one by one. She then immediately called 911 and spoke “unemotionally” to the authorities.

Soon after she called the authorities, Andrea phoned her husband Rusty. “It’s time. I finally did it” was what she told him on the phone.

Andrea gave a 17 minute confession to the police. Her rationale for killing the children was that she realized she was not a good mother to them and “they weren’t developing correctly.” She also did not want her children to be tormented by Satan. Satan had been conveying “bad thoughts” via the television and cameras in her home. She was frightened that Satan would lure her children to him and that perhaps she had some of Satan in her. She thought that Satan was giving her directions about harming her children and about how to drown them.

Andrea believed that drowning them was a way out for her children who would then be up in heaven, safe with God.

She ultimately thought that she was saving her children by drowning them.

Laurel Michelle Schlemmer might also have believed something similar but it’s too soon to know her exact state of mind.

The most telling aspect of these crimes, is that in both cases the mothers who committed these heinous acts of violence immediately reported themselves to the police. There was no effort to hide what they did, a behavior that often signifies severe mental impairment.

Yet another tragedy involving severe mental illness.

UPDATE: The second child has died and Schlemmer has been charged with homicide.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has reported that she was found not competent to stand trial and was sent to a state mental hospital for further evaluation. A doctor said that she has major depressive disorder, is psychotic and has suicidal ideations.

An April 4, 2014 article states that a 911 worker was fired for disclosing details of the 911 call from Schlemmer. The 911 call-taker said the mother originally said she thought that her children drowned in the bathtub.

Weekend Reads: Stalking Mom & Guilty Verdict For Man With Schizophrenia

Google Studying Employees

Did you know that Google is running a century-long study about how people work? Their employees are serving as study participants.

So far they have found there are two major approaches to work-life balance: segmentors and integrators. Segmentors are psychologically able to “turn it off” at home. They represent 31% of Google employees.

Intergrators are the kind of people who are constantly checking their emails. This group represented 69% of their employees.

Stalking Mother

This 44-year old mother was jailed for stalking a little league coach and his loved ones for her son not making the team. This letter was addressed to a 10-year old child:

“Think about it Dom. If something terrible happens to your dad, or mom or you sister, you can blame you dad for not taking my threats seriously. He will meet harm and the outcome will not be good for you. You might never see your dad again.”

Pastor Rick Warren

Pastor Rick Warren’s son Matthew committed suicide about a year ago. Pastor Warren has since launched a ministry that focuses on mental health. It will be:

“…a long-term campaign to launch discussions of mental health in pulpits and pews across the U.S. Friday’s workshops include “Christianity and Depression,” “How to Launch a Support Group and Counseling Ministry in your Church,” “Suicide Prevention: Saving Lives One Community at a Time” and “Food and The Body: Three Steps to Healing Eating Disorders through Community.”

“There is no shame in diabetes, there is no shame in high blood pressure, but why is it that if our brains stop working, there is supposed to be shame in that?”

Mother Kills 4-Year Old

This mother allegedly killed her four-year old son because she thought he was gay.  In a Facebook message, she wrote that she believed her son Zachary was going to be gay:

“He walks and talks like it. Ugh.”

Patton Oswalt as Matthew McConaughey in True Detective

FBI’s Most Wanted

One of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives turns himself in. The MS-13 gang member is accused of killing a young mother and a toddler in a very brutal way.

Man With Schizophrenia Convicted of Murder

David Tarloff, diagnosed with schizophrenia, was found guilty of stabbing a psychologist to death in a botched robbery six years ago.

Mr. Tarloff was attempting to steal $40,000 so that he could free his mother from a nursing home.

This was his third trial. The first trial never made it past jury selection because Tarloff became unstable. The second trial ended in a mistrial because the jury deadlocked.

The defendant reportedly brought a small black bag and a rolling suitcase with him to the scene of the crime. The bags contained knives, a meat cleaver, a hammer, ropes, duct tape, women’s clothing and adult diapers. He waited outside of the victim’s office while she was in a session with a patient. After the session was over, he stabbed her with a knife 15 times in the face, head and chest. When a nearby doctor heard the screams, he tried to save her and was ultimately stabbed by Tarloff.  He survived the attack.

Mr. Tarloff was soon apprehended.

Mr. Tarloff has a long history of severe mental illness. He was admitted to psychiatric hospitals 20 times. His psychiatric record is 10,000 pages long. He underwent ECT (shock therapy) 37 times during a 2012 stay in a psychiatric hospital.

He was obsessed with his delusional interactions with God. He said that God had instructed him to carry out the robbery.

The insanity defense is the most difficult to defend. This quote from a Tarloff juror highlights what the majority of the general public erroneously believes about this defense:

“Right is right, wrong is wrong. If he gets away with it, how many other people out there with schizophrenia could get away with it?”

Juries are not allowed to consider sentencing when deciding a verdict. In cases with insanity pleas, jurors often think that if adjudicated insane, that person will be free. They don’t go free.

Had he been found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would have been held in a psychiatric institution indefinitely and would receive treatment. The guilty verdict means that he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. He will receive little if any treatment in prison.

A Vice Tweet

Wolf of Wall Street

The real Wolf of Wall Street: Was the movie accurate?

“That stuff was really really accurate, believe it or not. In some aspects it was even worse than that, although I would say I did more quaaludes that cocaine,” says Belfot. “I think that it is fun to have them watch someone snort something.”

Thursday’s Mental Health & Criminal Justice Headlines

Jordan Linn Graham has been sentenced to serve 365 months in federal prison without the possibility of parole. The judge also barred her from benefiting in any way from revealing details about the murder. The judge did not think she was remorseful about her husband’s death. He kept waiting for her to say she was sorry but she never did.

A former president of the San Francisco Board of Education is accused by the FBI of being involved in a murder-for hire-scheme and a gun and drug trafficking conspiracy.

You probably already know this but it bears repeating: the United States is the only country in the world where a person under the age of 18 can serve life in prison without parole. Every state in the United States has laws that allow for children to be charged as adults under certain circumstances, this according to Human Rights Watch who today filed an amicus brief before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Arkansas throws a mother in jail for breast-feeding while drinking a beer.  Even though it’s not illegal, she was still arrested for endangering the welfare of a child.

There have been over 300 people exonerated in this country. Most of them are men. This is a rare case about a 74-year-old woman who was released after serving 32 years for a murder she did not commit. In fact, the murder was committed by her abusive boyfriend. The University of Southern California Post-Conviction Justice Project contends that if the jury had heard testimony on the effects of intimate partner violence, she would not have been convicted.

According to one reporter, the case of Marlon Sullivan is fascinating and perhaps horrifying. Marlon Sullivan is an NFL agent, who is accused of dealing drugs, illegally selling firearms and offering to commit a murder-for-hire. Undercover federal agents believe that he would “have no trouble pulling off a “hit.”

Clifford Burns is accused of stabbing his estranged wife to death on Christmas Eve. His defense: “extreme emotional disturbance” (EED).

This type of defense is pursued when a defendant alleges he “acted under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance for which there was a reasonable explanation or excuse” when he killed another person.

In essence he saying he snapped and it was his wife’s fault. According to reports, it seems more likely that he planned to attack his wife, which is to say it was premeditated and not the result of him snapping.

He sent text messages to his daughters warning them that something was going to happen, he disposed of the knife immediately after the attack, and in a videotaped interview, he repeatedly discussed different ways that he had planned to go after his wife and have a standoff with police in the woods.

He has a lengthy history of domestic violence towards both his wife and one other woman.

Ohio is considering legislation in which drug dealers could be charged with murder if one of their customers dies from an overdose. Five others states are already doing this.

A 14-year old boy admitted to killing his 46-year-old father and 13-year-old brother.  His family members expressed concern because of his torture of animals. Investigators say that he has no remorse for what he has done.

Wednesday Mental Health & Criminal Justice Headlines

The FBI’s new most wanted fugitive is Juan Elias Garcia who killed a 19-year-old New York woman and her two-year-old son, execution style. Garcia is allegedly a member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13).

At the time that he allegedly committed the murders, he was only 17 years old.

Remember the newlywed who pled guilty to pushing her husband off a cliff last summer?  Jordan Graham, 22, was supposed to be sentenced Thursday for the murder of her 25-year-old husband.  That sentencing has been placed on hold because she recently filed a motion to withdraw her plea on the basis that it was “illusory” and a “hollow formality.”

Read an investigation into Pennsylvania’s bleak prisons.

Don’t miss Michael Hall’s excellent story in Texas Monthly on the Lake Waco murders and the possibility that the men convicted of the crime may actually be innocent.

The evolution of the death penalty in one map.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling Wednesday, March 26, 2014 that makes it legal to prohibit someone with a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence from owning a gun.

Think Progress believes that the ruling “could have significant implications in interpreting which state domestic violence laws bar gun possession.”

The Marijuana industry has its first full-time lobbyist.

Eight days have passed and there is no sign of missing eight-year old Relisha Rudd.

The police believe that a 51-year-old janitor of a homeless shelter, where the child had lived, killed his wife and now has the young girl in his possession.

The Washington Post traces Relisha’s difficult life.

Congressional Hearing Addresses Psychiatric Bed Shortage

Wednesday, the Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing about the significant decrease in the psychiatric bed shortage.

One of the witnesses includes the outspoken Sheriff of Cook County Thomas Dart.

Mr. Dart has been trying to do everything within his power to deal with the thousands of mentally ill people passing through the Cook County Jail.

His tweets give you a sense of how bad the problem has become.


Additional testimony will come from Chief Michael C. Biasotti. Mr. Biasotti is the Immediate Past President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police. He has written extensively on the management of the severely mentally ill and their interactions with the police.

He also has a daughter with schizophrenia who has been involuntarily committed more than 20 times.

His recommendation to the committee would be to prevent individuals from decompensating to the point where law enforcement becomes involved.

“Make the seriously mentally ill first in line rather than last. As a law enforcement officer and father, I know treatment before tragedy is a better policy than tragedy before treatment.”

If interested in watching the hearing, you can tune in at 10 AM on the Energy Committee website. Hopefully reform is on the way.

Monday Crime, Justice & Mental Health Headlines

Some kids are posting video tutorials on YouTube with detailed instructions for their peers about how to get their teachers fired.

Has America’s police become to militarized? It is estimated that “89% of police departments serving American cities with more than 50,000 people had SWAT teams in the late 1990s—almost double the level in the mid-1980s. By 2007 more than 80% of police departments in cities with between 25,000 and 50,000 people had them, up from 20% in the mid-1980s (there are around 18,000 state and local police agencies in America, compared with fewer than 100 in Britain).”

Two Dallas men are charged with raping a 13-year-old deaf girl.

A convicted child molester sends a threatening letter to Obama but gets the wrong address. Savage threatened “to kill and to kidnap and to inflict bodily harm” on an unspecified member of the president’s family and to “torture and murder the president upon being released from prison.”

The Journal News is running a five-part series about a woman who may have purposefully injected sodium into her son’s feeding bag. Police suspect this may be a case of Munchhausen by proxy, a psychiatric condition in which a parent harms a child in an effort to gain sympathy or attention. The medical examiner has not yet ruled on the cause of the boy’s death.  You can begin reading part one of the series here.

The Subcommittee On Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 entitled “Where Have All The Patient’s Gone? Examining The Psychiatric Bed Shortage.” Here you can find a list of the witnesses who were invited to testify.

A shooting of a homeless man in Albuquerque is caught on tape. Attorney Joe Kennedy tells news officials “I’ve never seen a murder captured on videotape before.”

Read an in-depth analysis of the story of Ryan Ferguson who was wrongly convicted and recently released from prison. A $100 million lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of the wrongly convicted Ferguson.

Weekend Reads

Having a good weekend? These stories have piqued my interest:

Mississippi woman is scheduled to be executed on Thursday for a crime her son has repeatedly confessed to, evidence the jury has never heard. If executed, she will be the first woman to be executed in Mississippi since 1944.

Missouri death row inmate Jeff Ferguson is slated to be executed Tuesday night. Mr. Ferguson has been deeply invested in a restorative justice project, which requires that prisoners take responsibility for their crimes. He was also included in the documentary entitled “Faith on Death Row.” Some believe that Jeff Ferguson is proof of the power of restorative justice.

The third installment of a CNN original series called “Death Row Stories” will feature Rev. Neil Kookoothe who was instrumental in discovering a key piece of evidence in the death row murder case of Joe D’Ambrosio. (9 p.m. ET/PT).

An Idaho law that makes it illegal to report on animal cruelty by Andrew Cohen

Blaec Lammers was convicted of first-degree assault and armed criminal action for plotting to shoot up a Wal-mart.  Lammers’ mother called the police after she found a receipt for an assault rifle in her son’s laundry bag. He also had a history of mental illness and his parents were worried. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Mugshots are built from DNA data.

Jonathan Douglas Richardson is accused of “inflicting grievous pain and suffering upon [a] four-year-old child through deliberate, repeated acts of sadistic abuse-not only physical but sexual, not only for the purpose of discipline but for sadistic pleasure.” The child’s body was found with more than 60 bite marks.

Did you know that Florida has never executed a white person for killing a black person? That according to Think Progress.

A not-so-articulate man (putting it kindly) tries to defend his belief that Jodi Arias is innocent.

A discussion of how futuristic technologies with transform punishment.

A psychiatrist blogs about spending a day as an inpatient at an adolescent treatment center.

Youth in Ohio’s juvenile facilities were held in solitary confinement for a total of 209,266 hours last year. That averaged about 453 hours per youth.

Should inmates be allowed to donate their organs? This death row inmate was told no.

Evidence That Columbia Mall Shooter Was Suicidal, Idolized Columbine Shooters

The Howard County Police Department recently held a news conference sharing information about the investigation into the January shooting at the Columbia Mall.

The shooting occurred on the morning of January 25, 2014 when Darion Marcus Aguilar, 19, entered the upper level of the mall and killed two people and then turned the gun on himself.

The following is what we have learned thus far.

Aguilar spent months researching mass murder and was heavily focused on the Columbine shooters. His Internet research also involved learning learn how to assemble and fire a shotgun and learning how to build a bomb.

He also spent a great deal of time in chat rooms with people who were contemplating suicide.

He kept a private journal and had a blog on Tumblr, in which he took a photo of himself holding a 12-gauge shotgun and wrote this note in a dressing room moments before the shooting:

“I had to do this. Today is the day. On previous days I tried this I woke up with anxiety, regret and hope for a better future this day I didn’t, I woke up felt no emotions no empathy no sympathy. I will have freedom or maybe not. I could care less.”

Investigators do not believe that Aguilar knew his victims. The shooting, they believe based on evidence, was a random act of violence.

They speculate that Aguilar stopped shooting because he ran out of targets. He had 54 rounds of ammunition in his backpack but only fired nine.

The backpack also contained a video camera with images of himself holding a shotgun. Investigators declined to release these images because they believe he intended to use them to gain notoriety.

The shooter graduated from high school in June and had no criminal record. He had been working at the Dunkin’ Donuts shop near his residence. Interviews with classmates revealed that he did not stand out from other students.

Aguilar also had a psychiatric history. On at least one occasion, he sought psychiatric help for suicide. He reported hearing voices to a doctor but “gave no indication that they urged violence.”

His handwritten journals were described by investigators as being disconnected and violent. He wrote about using marijuana and often expressed suicidal ideation. Investigators said that he never mentioned a specific target.

The fact that he had a journal and a blog on Tumblr is evidence of the concept of leakage. Leakage is a type of warning behavior that involves someone intentionally or unintentionally leaving clues of an attack.

Research suggests that leakage occurs in the majority of mass shootings.

Images associated with the investigation, and of the shooter, can be found here.

Woman Admits to Stabbing Mother On Video

Katie Nichols, the woman in this video, stabbed her mother in the neck, chest and stomach. Her mother is in the ICU.

The case is still unfolding. According to the details so far, Nichols stuffed a sock in her mother’s mouth and attempted to tie her up. She also strangled her mother until she lost consciousness and then began stabbing her with scissors and two knives.

Though no specific mental illness has been identified, Ms. Nichols is clearly not well. The video of Ms. Nichols is quite unique in that she is openly admitting to stabbing her mother on camera. She also discusses the reasons why she did it.

Ms. Nichols believed that her mother had “symbolic representations of [her] death, [her] daughter’s death and [was privy to] every nuclear explosion that was supposed to happen… the satanic cult has been rounded up and killed now.”

The majority of people with mental illnesses are not dangerous but some can be dangerous, including those experiencing threat/control override delusions.

Threat-based delusions occur when a person believes that someone is trying to harm them.

Control override delusions are beliefs that outside forces are controlling one’s mind.

Many studies have shown that individuals affected by the aforementioned types of delusions are more violent than comparable groups without those delusions, but in many cases, substance abuse may have also contributed to the violent behavior.

Ms. Nichols appears to be demonstrating delusional thinking. She believes that her mother is a member of a cult and that her family is in danger. In her mind, she had to save herself and her child by killing her mother.

Obviously, her mother is not in a satanic cult nor is she controlling nuclear explosions, all of which indicate that Ms. Nichols is quite delusional.

People who are delusional believe their erroneous thinking. To them, their beliefs are 100% real. Evidence contradicting their beliefs do not dissuade their views. They cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is not real.

There are some people who feign mental illness after committing a violent act but generally speaking most people don’t. In fact, research shows that the most severely mentally ill people emphatically deny being mentally ill.

Based on her behavior in the video clip, Ms. Nichols seems to truly believe that she had to kill her mother to save herself and her child.

The story of Ms. Nichols and her mother, is yet another illustration of the travesty of untreated mental illness.

Something Stinks in Florida

Can’t we just tell the truth? You don’t need a law degree or a bunch of capitalized letters following your name to correctly identify the source of the stench that is permeating our country. It emanates from the Sunshine State, the orange juice capital of the world.

We know the state that it comes from but before we identify exactly what it is that stinks let’s be clear about what it is that does not stink. It’s not the sunshine. It’s not the orange juice and it is most certainly not the jurors in Florida.

It’s the law, people. The stand your ground law is not simply faulty. It is an abomination. It is an affront to the very notion of justice. It is an insult to our founding fathers.

Where the hell did Florida lawmakers come up with the idea that it’s okay to stand your ground, if you only “perceive” yourself to be in danger of physical harm? Let’s make it clear, very clear, in Florida it’s okay to shoot somebody, kill them stone cold dead, if you “think” you are in danger. Remember, you don’t need to be in danger, you just need to “think” that you are.

What about if you’re wrong? What if you think you are in danger, kill somebody, but the truth is that you were never in danger? You just thought you were in danger. But guess what, you were wrong!

Being wrong in Florida, is simply okay. Somebody just killed a person that they didn’t need to, they misperceived the situation and guess what? No harm, no foul, everybody can be wrong sometime. The fact that you just killed an innocent person and please let me be very clear here, that innocent person could be me or you or your very menacing looking 12-year-old daughter, doesn’t mean squat in Florida.

It’s okay to kill in Florida if you “think” you are in danger. “Being” in danger, don’t mean shit in Florida. Thinking you are in danger, is all that counts. Hey Florida legislators, don’t you realize what your law really means?

It means that there is no punishment for killing an innocent person.

That’s right. They can kill innocent people all day long in Florida, just as long as they think they are in danger. It doesn’t matter whether they are or are not. The only thing that matters is if they “think” they are.

Shooter: “You know officer, I’m not shitting you here, I thought that old lady had a shotgun. I know it really was just a black cane, but the way she was holding it and all, getting out of her car, it sure looked like a shotgun to me. ”

Police officer: “Did you really think she was a danger to you?”

Shooter: “I surely did.”

Police officer: “Did you really, really think she was a danger to you?”

Shooter: “You betcha I did!”

Police officer: “Well go on home and forget about it. Ain’t nobody perfect.”

Don’t blame the juries for letting killers go free. Blame Florida lawmakers for writing a law that allows well-intentioned individuals, with poor perceptual abilities, to go free after erroneously killing a completely innocent person.

You know, the Florida lawmakers ought to rewrite that law and they should do so with the same insight and wisdom that they used when writing it originally. In that vein, I would propose revisions to that law that should suit the wisdom and reasoning capacity of  Florida lawmakers.

My personal thoughts, obviously would be inconsistent with those of the Florida lawmakers who created the stand your ground law. So I won’t share my thoughts as to how I would deal with the Florida law instead I will propose changes that should be acceptable to those lawmakers. My own thoughts certainly would not be acceptable to the mindset responsible for the creation of the Florida stand your ground law.

So you lawmakers in Florida, probably by this time, realize that you might just be a little off with that stand your ground law. It probably needs a little tweaking and I have a few ideas that might just please you.

Let’s change the law a bit. No use throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

My first suggestion, keeping with the spirit of those Floridian law makers: only allow people to kill one innocent person, per lifetime. It’s like a get out of jail free card. It’s like saying “okay you got it wrong this time but the next time…” And let that next time be a really teaching event. A fine and a hefty one. Perhaps even in the hundreds of dollars range.

My next suggestion, to those lawmakers, would be to rewrite the law making it only okay to kill innocent people so long as they dress in a way that you find inappropriate and unbecoming and are also of a different race or ethnic group than their own.

See this way, it’s okay for a white guy to shoot a black guy or a black guy to shoot a white guy but it completely allows for the prosecution of a black guy shooting a black guy or even worse a white guy shooting a white guy.

Let’s face facts. Teenagers wearing hoodies look scary to some people. Black teenagers wearing hoodies look even more scary to those same people. Black teenagers, wearing hoodies, listening to loud music, look so damn scary that some people just gotta shoot them.

Now, I guess the obvious solution and you know what, it’s actually more obvious than most people would want to admit, is to make it illegal for a teenager to wear a hoodie.

Make it illegal, then people won’t get scared and won’t have to shoot them. And that solves a lot of the problem. But don’t forget, the same people who are afraid of teenagers wearing hoodies are even more afraid of “black” teenagers wearing hoodies.

With that same wisdom, perhaps while you’re at it, you should just make it illegal to be black. Because after all isn’t that what this is really all about.

Death Penalty for Jodi Arias is Not Cruel and Unusual or Double Jeopardy, Rules Judge

Jodi Arias’ attorney’s filed a motion to dismiss the death penalty. They tried to argue that it is cruel and unusual punishment and thus unconstitutional “because permitting a retrial after hung jury in the penalty phase… violates double jeopardy and is cruel and unusual punishment.”Jodimentalill

Cruel and unusual punishment is terminology that can be found within the eighth amendment of the Constitution. The basic premise is that neither jail nor punishment for a crime should be unreasonably severe and to guard against punishments that are disproportionately “cruel and unusual” (p.1).

The “cruel and unusual punishments” clause has been used to challenge the death penalty in the United States. It was successfully used in the case of Roper v. Simmons in which the Supreme Court ruled that “the eighth and fourteenth amendments forbid imposition of the death penalty on offenders who are under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed (p.1).”

Her attorneys were essentially attempting to argue that she should not be eligible for the death penalty because her first jury was unable to unanimously agree on a sentence.

Judge Sherry Stephens ruled that “the defendant has not been “acquitted” of the death sentence by the jury’s failure to reach a verdict, and thus there is no constitutional bar to retrying the penalty phase.”

Even though the jury was hung in the penalty phase it does “not result in cruel and unusual punishment or violate the double jeopardy clause.”

Judge Sherry Stephen denied Jodi Arias’ motion to dismiss the potential for a death sentence.

Jodi Arias remains eligible for the death penalty in the state of Arizona.

If the second jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision, Jodi Arias could face life in prison or she may be eligible for release after 25 years.

Her sentencing retrial is set for March 17, 2014. The trial will not be televised.

Update: AZ Central is now reporting that her trial has been “put aside.” Juan Martinez has another trial beginning May 12, 2014 and thus Jodi Arias’ trial has been postponed.

Great New Show: HBO’s True Detective

True Detective, a new crime drama series that premiered on HBO in January 2014, is one of the best shows on television. Some reviewers predict that it will become as popular as Breaking Bad. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

True Detective follows the lives of two Louisiana detectives in their hunt for a serial killerThe storyline might not sound unique but the show is anything but ordinary. It’s character-driven and not plot-driven. It’s philosophical, unconventional, has great cinematography and original music by T Bone Burnett, an Oscar-winning producer and musician who has worked with Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan, among others.

When asked about writing music for the show, Burnett hit the nail on the head: “it was like reading a good novel… It’s like scoring an eight-hour movie.”

He’s right about the movie element. From the moment you begin watching the series, it feels like a movie. It’s engrossing. The characters are complicated, especially Rustin Cohle, a Louisiana homicide detective played by Matthew McConaughey.

If you are a writer, or have ever thought about writing, this show might inspire you to try your hand at fiction. I know its had that impact on me.

The drama is written by Nic Pizzolatto, a former professor of literature. He left a tenure-track position at DePauw University in Indiana. He was unhappy. In an LA Times interview about working in academia, he said that “I’d want to bring a flamethrower to faculty meetings. The pretentiousness of academics and their fragile personalities would not be tolerated in any other business in the known universe.”

Many people describe the drama as being dark. It is, in many ways, especially because it opens with a grim, ritualistic, unforgettable crime scene that involves a dead woman posed wearing a crown of antlers and thorns.

The search for a serial killer is certainly an element of the show but it is not its focus. In fact, Mr. Pizzolatto commented that he does not “give a… about serial killers” and he “certainly doesn’t care to engage in some sort of creative cultural competition for who can invent the most disgusting kind of serial killer.” For him, those elements of the show are “just a vehicle.”

If your interest lies in plot-driven shows, that move fast and are action-packed, then this show may not be for you. It is a slow developing plot. But if you prefer the intellectual immersion of a character-driven, philosophical and dynamic story about life and death, then you’ll want to set your DVR for 9 PM Sunday’s on HBO.

My only complaint: I wish there were more than eight episodes. There’s been talk of additional seasons but a definitive “season 2” of True Detective has yet to be been confirmed. We can only hope.

See the trailer below.

Marissa DeVault Trial Begins, Charged With Murdering Husband With Hammer

The Jodi Arias sentencing trial is set to begin in mid-March 2014 but in the meantime, there is the Marissa DeVault trial. Marissa DeVault is accused of killing her husband Dale Harrell by beating him to death with a hammer while he slept. She said she snapped.

She told detectives that he abused and raped her. As she was beating him in the head with a hammer, she said “you don’t own me” and continued to hit him as hard as she could and didn’t stop. Her husband survived for three weeks after the attack.

There were also accusations that her husband had been sexually abusing their daughter.

Some people have speculated that the DeVault trial might be another Jodi Arias-like case. Presiding over the case, Judge Roland Steinle warned that he didn’t want any jurors who were “Arias-trial fanatics.”

A defense expert, who was supposed to testify in the Jodi Arias case, will be testifying in the DeVault trial. The defense’s psychological experts claim that she has both battered women’s syndrome and posttraumatic stress disorder. It’s not clear which expert associated with the Jodi Arias case will testify for DeVault.

It’s rumored that DeVault had associated with Jodi Arias in jail but those rumors have yet to be confirmed.

Marissa DeVault has been charged with first-degree murder. Jury selection began Wednesday. Her trial is expected to last until April. Thus far, there’s no indication that her trial is being live-streamed or televised but if you know otherwise, let me know in the comments section.

Will you be following this trial?

The Jodi Arias Case Update

It is believed that sentencing trial of Jodi Arias will begin on March 17, 2014. The sentencing trial will not be televised and it’s unclear if electronic devices will be permitted in the court room.

It’s also been reported that Jodi Arias is currently selling wristbands to raise money for her appellate case. She continues to tweet from jail, asking people to buy her artwork and her wristbands.

Dr. Drew recently interviewed Casandra Collins, the woman who shared a jail cell with Jodi Arias for about one month. She was the woman who claimed that Jodi Arias was threatening the life of Juan Martinez. In case you missed the interview, below is the transcript (I deleted out unnecessary information i.e. commercial break, etc.):

PINSKY: I want to bring in Casandra Collins. She had shared a tiny jail cell with Jodi before the trial started.

Casandra, thank you for joining us. My panel is sitting here listening. They`ll have questions for you, as well.

Give me sort of the basic sense of why you decided to tell the story and, secondly, what was it like.

CASANDRA COLLINS, JODI ARIAS`S CELLMATE (via telephone): I live with her in a jail cell from February 16th, 2012 to March 23rd, 2012, a total of 37 days. And it was a horrific, very traumatic and disturbing experience.

PINSKY: Why? What happened? What did she do? What happened?

COLLINS: Number one, she would talk about her case openly every day. He had 18 days. I had that double dose of it. I had 37 days of listening to Jodi talk in graphic detail about her case. And she made some very disturbing comments, has no remorse and then she made threats against key people in her case, as well.

PINSKY: Like she was going to hurt them?

COLLINS: Correct. Yes, sir.

PINSKY: And what is it she told you about the case?

COLLINS: She at the time pretrial, you know, before her trial started and even at that time, she was already confessing to myself and other inmates that she did kill and murderer Travis Alexander.

So, she was already admitting to committing the crime. But when she admitted that she committed the crime, she demonstrates no remorse whatsoever. She even bragged about it like it was a trophy killing.

PINSKY: I saw an interview that you did with someone that she said she should be given an award, she did this about herself, because she killed a child molester.

COLLINS: Yes, I can tell you her comments directly she said to me why she did this, because I asked her, and said, Jodi, why did you kill Mr. Travis Alexander? And she responded by saying she did the world a favor, that she ended the life of a pedophile, that she saved the lives of many innocent children that Travis would have victimized in the future. She claimed that Travis already victimized one child already.


COLLINS: And the jury would have sympathy for her and perceive her as a hero —

JENNY HUTT, ATTORNEY: I do. I just want to know, in jail, was she sexual or provocative? Did she have any hookups? What was she like in that way?

COLLINS: Yes, she was. She would talk very graphically and talk about the photographs (INAUDIBLE) found on the camera. She talked about each one of those photographs in graphic details and she talked about her own body parts.

PINSKY: Jonny, question? Johnny?

JONNY LOQUASTO, COMEDIAN: I do. Casandra, back to Travis. When you asked her why she killed him and she mentioned that he was a pedophile, did you ask her to go into further specifics or do you think that was just like a total sociopathic lie that she made up as to why she killed him?

COLLINS: I think it was a total lie. Anything she was saying to me I did not believe. None of it made sense. It didn`t even sound plausible to me.



GRUNBERG: Yes. I`m just curious. How do you answer critics, you know, like myself who say, you know, you were behind bars with her, too. You were in jail. Any testimony that I hear from somebody like yourself it`s suspect to me. It`s like — I don`t quite understand — yes.

PINSKY: Greg, I`m glad you brought that up, actually, because — Casandra is actually a very highly trained nurse. And she — what I`m going to ask you doing — she`s been criticized on that exact front, right, Casandra? People have taken that up with you.

COLLINS: Yes, but I`m not a convicted felon. I have no felonies on my record. I`d never been — jail and prison are different. Jail is where you go prior to your trial. I`ve never been to prison so I`m not a convicted felon. I do have misdemeanors on my record. And even six of those cases have been — expunged from my record, but I am not a convicted felon. I have never hurt nor harmed a human being in my entire life.

PINSKY: But Casandra, my understand is people have said, oh, you have mental illness or something. You`re a criminal. Putting your nurse hat on, evaluating yourself, tell us what you do suffer from so people can eval — we can evaluate whether it has somehow clouded the story you`re telling us.

COLLINS: Well, you mean what I get care and treatment for myself?


COLLINS: Depression and anxiety. Those are my main issues that I suffered from.

PINSKY: So, it`s not as though you have delusional paranoias or something that would make you sort of confabulate stories, right?


PINSKY: OK. Greg, does that satisfy you at all —


No. It doesn`t satisfy me. I just don`t understand why, you know, she`s telling the story now.

COLLINS: I`ve actually been worked with a law enforcement. I actually started talking with the FBI from February 2013. Then Phoenix police started asking me questions. So, this did not come overnight.

JILLIAN BARBERIE, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: Casandra, you know, I know that Jodi confessed she had something she talked obsessively about her attorney. I`m wondering now what you think that she should get as a sentence. She either gets death, life or, what, 25 years? What do you think will be the proper term for her to serve?

COLLINS: The death sentence.

PINSKY: And then Anahita.

COLLINS: Excuse me?

ANAHITA SEDAGHATFAR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I just want to know was Jodi as confident — yes. My question is, was Jodi as confident behind closed doors in her case as she showed herself to be like during the trial and in all of her media interviews? Did she ever express to you that she actually feared she could be convicted?

COLLINS: She truly believed when she was in the cell with me that she would walk out of the jail. She thinks the jury would find her innocent. Yes. She was that confident.

PINSKY: And Casandra, I understand, again, you said she made you feel sick and scared. I guess, I got to take a break, but I want to continue the conversation and I want you to tell us why — what`s so disturbing? What you think — I also understand you alleged that she`s caring (ph) on on the outside with her minion somehow. I want to hear more about that. So, we`ll be right back after this.

PINSKY: Judy, it seems that inmates were manipulated by Jodi and her lies. What do you make of that?

JUDY HO, PH.D., DR.JUDYHO.COM: Well, Dr. Drew, it feels to me like Jodi is actually creating her own little Jodi cult. She has so many characteristics of what we know to be cult leaders, you know, the extreme narcissism, really needing admiration and respect and loyalty from everybody, being hypersensitive to criticism. You know, all of these characteristics together just reminds me of some of the cult leaders of the past.

PINSKY: Really? Very interesting. Casandra, what do you make of that?

COLLINS: I totally agree, because she was very manipulative and very calculative when I lived with her. And she was trying to even — from my nursing background, she even had a different version of what happened between her and Travis Alexander on that day. And then I heard a new version out her trial. She tried to claim with me she got a concussion — how severe would a concussion have to be for her to have that type of memory loss.

PINSKY: I see. She`s trying to explain why she didn`t know what was going on. Back to the panel, I think you have questions for Casandra — Nikki?

NIKKI DELOACH, ACTRESS, MV`S “AWKWARD”: Yes, I do, actually. Hey, Casandra, did you go to law enforcement about Jodi`s threat to Juan Martinez?

COLLINS: I went to — the FBI started — did my initial interview in February of 2013 and then the rest of my communication with the FBI for Phoenix was through via e-mails. And then on July 1st, Sgt. Cane and Lt. Berkhose (ph) asked me questions about Jodi Arias. And Lt. Berkhose (ph) basically said, “Casandra, if she made any threat, you need to let us know.”

PINSKY: OK. Jennifer, go ahead.

JENNIFER KEITT, RADIO HOST & LIFE COACH: I`m wondering, Casandra, you spent quite a bit of time with her. So, do you think that if she does not get the death penalty and ends up in jail, that she could actually somehow be rehabilitated? Do you think that that`s possible?

PINSKY: Or, to follow on that question, or will she be dangerous from jail?


COLLINS: I think she`d be dangerous from prison, because I think if she was put in maximum security general population, I think she would try to control that population. I think she is very dangerous. I think she would repeat her crime. She is very vindictive and hateful. She made threats against the prosecutor attorney. I believe she would try to carry out those threats. She is an extremely, extremely dangerous individual.

DELOACH: I have a follow up to that then, because you had mentioned that, you know, she had said to you, Casandra, at one point in time like — that if you spoke out against her that she would come after you. And if you believe that she is that threatening then, you`re speaking out publicly against her now. Are you scared? I mean, why not speak to law enforcement and then just kind of go away from the public eye so that you keep yourself safe?

COLLINS: Yes, I am scared but I know I did the right and moral thing. I was in a position where I went to Troy Hayden because I felt that was a better choice that I have is to go public with it and expose it and make sure everyone`s well aware of what her threats were.

LEEANN TWEEDEN, @ LEEANNTWEEDEN: Casandra, thank you very much. It`s very courageous of you to come on the show tonight. I have a question for you. You had mentioned that everybody was sort of brainwashed by her, you included, but you kind of took it as, well, I`m going to go along with her just to shut everybody up. I mean, were there any girls, any inmates that did not like Jodi Arias?

COLLINS: No. I never liked Jodi Arias. I didn`t go a lot with her at all, because she tried to ask me to do numerous favors for her and I never complied. She tried to manipulate me by asking, you know, to be a mule and to get letters on the out for her — you know, get them passed them to his deputies, and I would never do that. I told her flat-out no. So, no, I was not manipulated by her. I never —

TWEEDEN: What about all the other inmates? They were like holding up signs saying we love Jodi. She`s innocent. I mean, what do you make of that?

COLLINS: That was during the trial. And do you think, really, an inmate in jail is going to snitch on another inmate in front of a reporter? You know, snitches don`t last long in jail. So, i think that was all kind of for show.

HO: Casandra, I have a question for you —

PINSKY: You know what, I`m running out of time, guys. I got to remind everyone that we cannot independently confirm what Casandra is saying. These are her opinions alone. Jenny, you want to finish me up here.

HUTT: I did. I just want to know was she doing artwork while she was in jail? Like she said she was an artist.

COLLINS: Yes, she did. At least a drawing a week.

PINSKY: And then, she`s selling that stuff, right?

HUTT: Of course.

PINSKY: Crazy.


PINSKY: All right. Casandra, thank you so much. It`s interesting. It`s chilling. It`s kind of worse than I thought, actually. I mean, I like the way we opened this conversation with Judy`s framing her as a cult leader. It`s kind of an interesting way of thinking about her.

COLLINS: Yes. She would be more dangerous in general population. I truly believe Juan Martinez is doing absolutely the right thing. He knows what he`s doing.

Deadly Sins

In other entertainment news, Darren Kavinoky and Shanna Hogan appeared on The View to discuss the premiere of Deadly Sins, an Investigation Discovery television show that featured the case of Jodi Arias. Darren and Shanna contributed to the Deadly Sins episode, which first aired on Saturday, January 11, 2014.

During the interview on The View, it is interesting to note that Shanna Hogan referred to Travis Alexander as either a dirt bag or a scumbag. It’s difficult to hear what she called him because apparently, it was bleeped out. Listen for yourself (about 2:55).

Hogan made the comment when discussing her exploration of Travis’s character:

“I really kinda had to see it like if he was my brother, he would have been the best brother in the world. If he was dating my best friend, he would have been a dirt bag or a scumbag.”

It appears as though Hogan believes in the lies of Jodi’s legal team who did everything they could to paint Travis, the victim of a brutal slaying, in a negative light. What a shame.

I have not had the opportunity to complete my viewing of the Deadly Sins Jodi Arias episode. From what I saw thus far, there were a lot of assumptions being made. I also noticed that they listed one of experts, commenting on the behavior of Jodi and Travis, as being a forensic psychiatrist. A psychiatrist has a medical degree but the individual who they said is a psychiatrist, to the best my knowledge, is not a psychiatrist. Must have been an oversight.

Did you have the opportunity to watch? What did you think?

Teen With Schizophrenia Shot and Killed By Police In Front of Family

18-year-old Keith Vidal was shot and killed by a police officer Sunday when authorities responded to a call for help from family members. Keith was in the midst of a schizophrenic episode.

According to early reports, Keith had picked up a small screwdriver and refused to put it down, an action which prompted the family to call police. Initially, two officers arrived on the scene. The following events, which ultimately led to Keith being shot, are not fully clear.

According to Keith’s father, “…all of a sudden, this Southport cop [the third officer to arrive on the scene], walked in the house [and said]: ‘I don’t have time for this. Tase him. Let’s get him out of here.”

The officer used a stun gun on Keith who, “hit the ground [and then] this guy shot him,” Keith’s father reported.

Shots were fired “seconds” after the third officer arrived.

Keith was declared dead soon after being rushed to the hospital.

When Keith’s father demanded to know why his stepson was shot, the officer said “well, I’m protecting my officers.”

Keith’s mother Mary told reporters that she had often tried to get help for her son’s mental illness. Apparently, to no avail.

The current mental health system is in shambles and it’s been this way for some time, especially for people with serious mental illnesses. There are now more people residing in jails and prisons across the United States, than in psychiatric hospitals. The Los Angeles County Jail, for instance, is considered the largest defacto psychiatric facility.

Police shootings of people with mental illnesses is not a new phenomenon. An investigation by the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegraph uncovered “that at least half of the estimated 375 to 500 people shot and killed by police each year in this country have mental health problems.”

Their investigation also revealed that in the state of Maine, the Attorney General’s Office, which investigated all of the police shootings, never found one of the shootings to be unjustified.

There are also no federal statistics about police shootings of mentally ill people.

I have worked with many police officers who were called upon to deal with severely mentally ill people. Some felt that it wasn’t their job to deal with “those people” but many others were kind, compassionate and patient with those of whom they were attempting to help.

Studies show that police officers who have undergone crisis intervention training (CIT), are better able to effectively de-escalate a mental health crisis. CIT should be mandatory for all law enforcement officials, at least until they are no longer the front-line responders in mental health emergencies.

Keith’s parents have said that the policeman who shot their son is a cold-blooded murderer.

Keith’s parents said they cannot understand what happened.

“Where is the justice, why did they shoot my son? This is what’s wrong with our mental health system.”

The authorities are investigating the events.

Twitter Reaction




Leaked Police Video of George Zimmerman’s Ex is Frightening

Samantha Scheibe, George Zimmerman’s then-girlfriend, details the November 2013 incident in which she called the police on him in this leaked video by ZimmermanVerdict.net. The video first appeared online by Mother Jones and it describes the abusive behavior of George Zimmerman towards his girlfriend.

Since the incident, Scheibe decided against pressing charges and said that the police “misinterpreted” her statements. You can listen for yourself and come to your own conclusions about the nature of George Zimmerman.

She tried to end their relationship and he pulled a shotgun on her and smashed her belongings. She also told investigators that he had tried to choke her on an earlier occasion. It’s not clear if the two are still involved.

A Message Board Writer Wrote…

I recently posted a short article, to keep my readers informed about the claims of Cassandra Collins (a former cellmate of Jodi Arias), stating that she had had long conversations with Ms. Arias and that Ms. Arias would arrange to have the throat of Juan Martinez cut by her supporters, if she was given the death penalty. In response to that article, a member of the message board, that is available here at my site, named Joedas wrote the following comment to that article:

” Dr Randle
I have read many articles that you have written you have educated me and opened my mind understanding what personality is behind that of a killer Above all your writings skills makes it simple to understand your sophisticated analysis ( I have shown your work to a psychiatrist practising for over 30 years nodding page after page
“This is excellent work”

However I am surprised how you posted threatening Juan Martinez story
1) you are an highly intelligent psychologist not a TV station
2) quoting information from a prison cell mate , Jodi’s cell mate, an individual who may have mental issues just
the way she appeared on TV one can see she has a strange look
3) I am not saying that she is not saying the truth , lying , one does not report or even comment on a explosive story like this before VERIFICATION
4) Many people hate Jodi and wish her the DP, if the jury sentences her to the DP she is guilty , DP it is
stirring up more hate to Jodi and her family is unfair unprofessional unwarranted without VERIFICATION
5) I am bewildered how the news station permitted to air this story in my eyes they have lost credibility, they look like a bunch of fools. Joedas “

My intention, in posting the Cassandra Collins assertions, was simply to keep my readers informed about happenings in the Jodi Arias case. The Cassandra Collins news story was widely presented on television and in print. I know that many of my readers, consider my website their first choice in Jodi Arias news and I thought it would simply be bad form to have failed to alert my readers to this news story.

I hope that I did not give anyone the impression that I accept as the truth, the assertions of Cassandra Collins.  Ms. Collins may be completely factual in her recollections of her conversations with Ms. Arias. Ms. Collins may be lying with every word that passes her lips. We do know for sure that Ms. Collins was a cellmate of Ms. Arias before the trial began. That has been factually confirmed.

I do not know if Ms. Collins is telling the truth. I simply don’t know and that is the only opinion that any logically correct human being could arrive at. The fact that Ms. Collins may have mental problems should not and cannot cast any further doubt as to the credibility of her statements.

Why not? Because how much more water can you put in a glass that is already filled to the rim with doubt? The answer is obviously, none. Though I have the glass filled with doubt factual confirmation of her assertions, would change the contents of that glass from doubt to truth.

I presented that information for the edification of my readers. I did not attempt to make it appear to be the truth or even the truth as I would believe it to be. I apologize to Joedas, if I gave he or she that impression.

The police, even if they don’t believe a word of Ms. Collins assertions, will consider her words because the consequences of believing her assertions to be invalid could be devastating to Juan Martinez. They will treat her assertions as if they “might” be true while never concluding that they are true.

I would want my readers to do exactly the same thing. Consider her assertions, their ramifications, their implications and gain whatever “possible” insight or reflection that they may provide. I say “possible” because if her assertions are lies, then it is impossible for them to provide anything at all.

I would never believe to be true the testimony, the court sworn testimony, of a jailhouse snitch. However, nor would I believe it to be untrue. I simply don’t know. That doesn’t mean that we should ignore things that we do not know to be true. Instead, we must thoroughly consider them in an attempt to prove or disprove their validity.