June 12, 2014


Associated Press


The body of an Oklahoma inmate who died after a botched execution of what corrections officials have said was an apparent heart attack was returned from an independent autopsy without the heart or larynx, a state medical official said on June 9.


The Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office, which is conducting an independent autopsy on the body of inmate Clayton Lockett, retained the body parts, a practice that is not uncommon, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.


“Oklahoma law reads that the Office of the State Medical Examiner can retain any kind of tissue or samples indefinitely,” Elliott said. “And my understanding is it can be the same in Texas.”


David Autry, Lockett’s attorney, said a private doctor is working to complete a second autopsy and has asked Dallas County to preserve all evidence in the case, including the heart and larynx.


“I assume they retained those for additional testing, but we’ve asked them to preserve all the evidence,” Autry said.


Lockett’s body has been returned to his family and cremated, Autry said.


Dr. Amy Gruszecki, the medical director of American Forensics, a Dallas facility that conducts independent autopsies, said doctors conducting the autopsy likely found something specific with the heart and larynx that they wanted to further document.


“It’s not completely unusual,” Gruszecki said. “They might want to do some additional investigation or saw something that was very important to the diagnosis.”


Lockett died after his April 29 execution was halted when prison officials noted the lethal injection drugs weren’t being administered properly. The doctor inside the death chamber reported a single IV in Lockett’s groin became dislodged and the lethal drugs went into his tissue or leaked out of his body.


Oklahoma was using a new three-drug method for the first time, and Lockett writhed on the gurney, gritted his teeth and attempted to lift his head several times before the state’s prison director halted the execution. Lockett died anyway, about 43 minutes from what prison officials have said was an apparent heart attack.


Gov. Mary Fallin has ordered an investigation into Lockett’s death, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has issued a six-month stay of execution for a second inmate who was scheduled to die on the same night as Lockett.


The Oklahoma Medical Exam­iner’s Office will release the official cause and manner of Lockett’s death after it receives the results of the autopsy from Dallas County, Elliott said.


Lockett, a four-time felon, was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman with a sawed-off shotgun and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in rural Kay County in 1999 after Nieman and a friend arrived at a home the men were robbing. 

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

June 05, 2014


By Kenneth D. Miller


Assistant Managing Editor 



It will be a four month wait before Autumn Burke, daughter of first woman Black Congressional member Yvonne B. Burke, can become the first female to be elected the 62nd Assembly seat.


Autumn, a Democrat, the youngest daughter of Yvonne and Bill Burke, won the June 3 primary with 37 percent of the vote and will face a November 4 runoff against Republican challenger Ted J. Grose who finished second with 23 percent of the vote.


If she wins in November she will become the first female member of the assembly from the 62nd District.


“It’s time for a woman to have this seat, it’s time for a woman to represent women’s rights in Sacramento,” Burke said.


Flanked by her mother and father at her campaign headquarters in Inglewood, she said that she feels good about her chances.


“I do feel like I was born to do this, but you can’t really be conditioned for it until you actually do it.”


Termed out Assembly member Steve Bradford was encouraged by the results and endorsed Burke in her campaign.


“I’m excited, the early numbers are very encouraging because her opponent is a Republican and this a heavy Democratic district,” said Bradford. “I think it sets up a good November for us.


Bradford says that he supported Burke because she was clearly the best candidate.


“She has a commitment to public service. She comes from a long line of public servants and that’s clearly what this business is about. I think she was born to do this.”


In the hotly contested 64th Assembly District, a seat vacated by termed out member Isadore Hall, Carson City Councilman Mike Gipson held a commanding lead at press-time.


Gipson held a 48 percent to 22 percent lead in the vote over Prophet L. Walker and providing he does not win 51 percent of the vote will face the second place challenger in a November 4 runoff.


Gipson was first elected into the Carson City Council on March 8, 2005 and Gipson was selected to serve as the Mayor Pro Tem in March 2008. On March 3, 2009, he was re-elected to another 4-year term as a councilmember in a record-breaking number of votes in Carson’s history.  In 2013, he broke his 2009 record with his re-election to his third term in office. With a stronger mandate following his reelection, Mike is committed to continuing to demonstrate outstanding leadership and represent the people’s voice in while in office.


He hails from a solid background in the areas of politics and public safety, owing to his profession as a Union Representative, his training as lead staff person for various elected offices, and a successful career as a former police officer.


Mike currently serves as district director to Chairman Jerome E. Horton, the first African-American elected to the California State Board of Equalization, and whose district currently serves 8.5 million residents. He formerly served as an Area organizer for the 48,000-strong United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), where he ensures the enforcement of the contractual right of teachers. Prior to working for UTLA, he was the Legislative and Political Director for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 399, the Political Director Statewide for Justice for Janitors 1877 SEIU and a Business Representative for SEIU Local 99.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 29, 2014

LAWT News Service


On Friday, May 16, more than 750 guests attended the California Science Center’s 16th annual Discovery Ball.  As part of the festivities, guests experienced an ancient city at the height of the Roman Empire as they previewed the west coast premiere of Pompeii: The Exhibition. From the Science Center they were transported by “chariot” to the entrance of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was transformed into a lush, Pompeii garden villa where they were treated to an Italian dinner by candlelight. While dining, guests were entertained by a harpist and pan flautist, followed by a small army of gladiators who made a grand entrance and lit the historic Olympic torch.


The annual black-tie gala, a philanthropic event, raised more than $1.35 million to benefit the California Science Center Foundation through table sponsorships, a live auction conducted by NBC4 Fritz Coleman, and a raffle for a Lexus RC F performance coupe. Science Center President, Jeffrey Rudolph noted that, “Proceeds from this fundraiser enable us to continue providing exceptional science learning and education opportunities for our community.”


The Science Center’s annual gala has been recognized as a “virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles business community” by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Among the gala guests were community and business leaders as well as elected officials at local, state and federal levels including: State Controller John Chiang; Congresswoman Maxine Waters; City Council President Herb Wesson; Councilman Curren Price; County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas; Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer; Assemblyman Richard Bloom; and Assemblyman Steve Bradford; former astronaut Daniel Olivas; and celebrities Debbie Allen and her husband, former NBA star Norm Nixon.


Gala co-chairs Anne Shen Smith, past Chairman and CEO of Southern California Gas Company and Robert S. Carter, Senior Vice President – Automotive Operations of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. presided over the program.


Another highlight of the evening was the transformation of the Samuel Oschin Pavilion into an out-of-this-world night club with Space Shuttle Endeavour as the centerpiece. Guests also enjoyed a private screening of the IMAX film “Forces of Nature.”


Top donors to the Discovery Ball were Wells Fargo and Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

June 05, 2014


By Torré Brannon-Reese

LAWT Contributing Writer



Imagine being a child, 7, 8, 9 years old. You were born in Belize, Cuba, Trinidad, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Guatemala, or somewhere else in the beautiful Caribbean Islands, or Central America.  Suddenly, your mother leaves home, is gone for a year, maybe two or three; finally, she comes back to get you and takes you to this wonderful place called America! America, that far-way land you’ve heard of, where everybody is free, eternally happy, and rich beyond your wildest dreams.


Well, the reality for hundreds of thousands of “innocent children”, many now full grown adults, is a life devoid of true freedom. The reality is that hundreds of thousands of innocent/immigrants live their lives in a state of constant fear of deportation. Deportation from America, back to a land they know nothing about and have no emotional connection to. Hundreds of thousands of “undocumented citizens”, many who have been in this country for 20, 30 and 40 years, live in constant fear that one day, they will be stripped away from their children, family, friends and loved ones, and forcibly taken away from the only life they’ve ever known. Their lives are eerily similar to that of millions of innocent enslaved Africans in America, who lived their lives in this same state of fear and “perceived freedom”. 


The assumption for the majority of us who are of African descent, is that this is a “Mexican” or “Latino” issue. And many of “us”, due to our cultural/historical ignorance, acquired racial prejudice and or social/political apathy, turn a blind eye toward this issue, as if it does not affect us. We need to think again, because, guess what, it affects us (Black people) in more ways than one. If nothing else, our political behavior (I’m generalizing with intelligence) on this issue has helped to define our national image in ways most of us, do not even understand.


As we run scared that the “illegals” (as our ancestors were called) are taking away our jobs, we naturally align ourselves politically with right wing conservatives/segregationist who have never had our best interest at heart, and who use us as political footballs based upon our own prejudices, ignorance and media inspired fears.


As a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, I am proud to know that my historical lineage not only goes back to Africa, yet, my bloodline connects me to the triumphant Haiti people. This due to the influx of Haitians, migrating into New Orleans after their revolution and independence from France in the early 1800’s.


Yet, this writing is not so concerned about the “politics”, as it is about the “human” side of this issue. As people of color who (should be) knowledgeable and appreciative of our history, I’d think we’d be particularly concerned and actively involved in helping to create meaningful, respectful solutions on this issue. The unfortunate argument that  immigrants hurt employment opportunities for low skilled, marginally educated Blacks, has been adopted by right wing conservatives as their mantra, and again, further promotes an image of Black men as helpless, pitiful victims, who in 200 years, have failedto make progress in American society. Sadly, these same so-called, “second class human beings”, are tricked into fighting against other low-skilled, marginalized, economically/poli­tically exploited class of persons, or, Latinos.


Historically, the greatest among us, knowing the power of coalition building and cultural bonding, have consciously reached out to our brothers and sisters of color in the Diaspora; people such as, W.E.B.DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, were all in search of positive and productive relationships amongst people of color; who comprise the majority (not minority) of the human beings on the planet.


I imagine that if Dr. King were still alive, he would fight with all his power against the devilish deportation/slave treatment of innocent, law abiding, tax-paying citizens, whose only crime was being born in Another Country.


Innocent Black Immigrants


And if Malcolm X were here, I am confident that he would point a stern finger at his people; who, in


2014, still have our hands stretched out, begging our former slave masters for hand-outs!


My feeling is that Malcolm would be about the business of focusing our energies/attention on “ownership” and the building of our own economic and  political systems and institutions.


What a shameful thing we do to the legacies of our ancestors, when we waste time & talent, hating on other political victims, who, by the way, actually own the spiritual birthright to this land we call America.


My hope and prayer is that we become actively involved in this grand, international struggle for human dignity. Further, and as a realistic/optimist, I do believe that as more of our close friends and family members are affected by this unfortunate phenomenon, we will get involved.


As far as I am concerned, the current Black Immigration reality is not unlike that of our slave era experience. The free, northern born Negroes, enjoying access to education, jobs and opportunity, had a choice, they could stand idly by, and watch our southern born brothers and sisters suffer the indignities of chattel slavery; or they could do as sister Harriet Tubman did, and fight for the freedom of their people. I stand with Harriet, where so you stand?


It is our responsibility, as a people who were formally “forced immigrants”, to preserve and honor our legacy. Our legacy is one of compassion, kindness, self-education and courageous action. Let’s honor our legacy, get involved.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 29, 2014

By Joey Matthews

Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward Times



Eight-year-old Martin Cobb and his 12-year-old sister had a special bond. They were by all accounts inseparable as siblings, best friends and playmates.


“They were never apart,” said the Rev. Theodore L. Hughey, the pastor at Abundant Life Church of God in Christ, the family’s church. They would ride bikes and big wheelers together, play side by side with children in their South Side neighborhood and brag about their mother’s fine down-home cooking, he told the Free Press.


Marty had a special affinity for keys of any type, the pastor added. In a tragic event that has captured the nation’s heart, Marty now is being fondly remembered as a courageous hero. Local and national media are telling the heart-rending story of how Marty died May 1, while bravely trying to protect his beloved sister from a sexual predator as they played around noon near railroad tracks behind the family’s home in the 200 block of Brandon Road.


A 16-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with Marty’s murder and the attack on his sister, who survived. She is recovering at a local hospital.


Marty died from severe head trauma, police later reported. Neighbors reported the attacker struck Marty in the head with a brick. A few days following his death, about 200 family members, friends, neighbors and other community members somberly gathered outside Abundant Life to honor the endearing child with the small frame, indomitable spirit and warm, loving smile.


Prior to the vigil, loved ones assembled around a sign in Marty’s yard that read: “Martin: A real hero lived, fought and died here.”


“Little Marty is a hero,” stated City Council member Reva M. Trammell, who spoke at the vigil and represents the 8th District where the grieving family lives. “He was there when his sister needed him the most,” she added in response to a Free Press query. “Marty’s beautiful smile and his love for his sister will always be with us. Marty will always be in our hearts, and he will never, ever be forgotten.”


Charles Willis, executive director of the Citizens Against Crime group that has helped lead vigils for more than 20 years in the city, said the turnout reflects a caring community.


“Even though a crisis of this nature happens, this shows the strength of not only the city, but of the community,” Mr. Willis said. “When trouble comes to any community, we will respond in a positive fashion.”


He described Marty’s mother, Sharain Spruill, as “very, very, very upset as well as hurt and trying to wrap her mind aroundwhy this happened her son.”


Major Steve Drew, who directs Support Services with the Richmond Police Department, praised neighborhood residents for providing information that resulted in the quick arrest.


“The community really came together to seek justice for little Marty, the hero,” he said. Police said Marty’s sister first reported the attacker to be a White male, but later recanted and identified a black, 16-year-old neighbor as the attacker. She told police the teenager had threatened to hurt her if she told on him.


It has been reported the suspect’s name is Mariese Washington. He has a history of violent behavior that includes a 2010 attack in the Mosby Court housing community on a 3-year-old boy. He hit the boy in the back of the head with a hammer.


The attack required the child to receive 100 staples and a metal plate in his head. The boy has spent four years in recovery, according to his family. The alleged killer of Marty was to make his first appearance in Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Monday in front of Judge Ashley K. Tunner.


Authorities have declined to identify the suspect because he’s a minor. Prosecutor Mary Langer stated in response to a Free Press query that she and Chris Bullard of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office are trying the case. She said the 16 year-old suspect will be tried as an adult for first degree murder, but will not face the death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the execution of juveniles violates the Constitution.


“A murder charge against a juvenile who is 14 years or older is subject to automatic certification treatment (as an adult),” Ms. Langer stated. “There is no discretion or choice for the judge.”


Those in the tight-knit South Side neighborhood where Marty’s family lives are determined to make sure his heroic actions are remembered. They have organized an online petition directed to the White House to have Marty recognized by President Obama for his heroic act.


A fund for the family has been established at Wells Fargo bank called the “Keys for Marty Foundation.” Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.


Marty’s funeral was held May 9 at Mimms Funeral Home in Richmond.


“This young child has awakened a nation that has turned their back on the children!” the Rev. Hughey declared at the funeral of the young hero. “We need to end the war on our most precious gifts, our children…This young man, this little child, this giant that God put in this time has brought us together to say to him, ‘Martin, we will honor your memory now.’”

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

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