Prosecutors Wrap Up Police Torture Case
NEW YORK -- The patrolman who confessed to torturing a Haitian immigrant in a police station bathroom "was the driving force" behind the attack, but he had help from four other officers, a prosecutor said yesterday.
Federal prosecutor Alan Vinegrad reminded the jury during closing arguments in the four officers' trial that patrolman Justin Volpe, who pleaded guilty midway through the trial, did not act alone.
"It's hard to believe that something so depraved and so cruel could actually happen, let alone that it was two New York City police officers, in uniform, who did it," Vinegrad said in his three-hour summation of nearly four weeks of testimony.
Volpe pleaded guilty to civil rights violations last month after fellow officers testified that he bragged about sodomizing Abner Louima with a broomstick because he thought Louima had punched him outside a nightclub.
Officer Charles Schwarz, 33, is accused of holding Louima down during the attack. Schwarz, along with Thomas Wiese, 35, and Thomas Bruder, 33, is also accused of beating Louima in a patrol car. The officers' supervisor, Sgt. Michael Bellomo, 37, is charged with covering it all up.
If convicted, Bellomo, Wiese and Bruder face up to 10 years in prison. Schwarz faces a maximum of life without parole, as does Volpe, who has not been sentenced.
But attorneys for Bruder and Wiese said in their closing arguments that their clients' only mistake was working with Volpe.
The attorneys noted that Louima never identified Bruder or Wiese as being among his four assailants, and that his version of when and where he was beaten was inconsistent with that of prosecutors.
The jury was expected to get the case today, after attorneys for Schwarz and Bellomo made their closing arguments.
Hate Crime Charges For Prep Students
GREENFIELD, Mass. -- Two prep school students were charged with a hate crime for allegedly carving an anti-gay slur into another student's back because he liked to listen to the British rock band Queen.
Jonathan Shapiro, 18, and Matthew Rogers, 20, allegedly used a pocket knife to cut the slur into the back of a 17-year-old student at the Northfield Mount Hermon School.
"There was apparently a disagreement over the style of music he liked," said Gill Police Chief David Hastings. "Rogers called it a gay band."
Hastings described the wounds from letters 4 to 5 inches high "deep enough to draw blood." The victim, a junior, did not require hospitalization and initially kept quiet about the May 27 incident. He has since left school, Hastings said.
Shapiro, of Keene, N.H., and Rogers, of Franklin, Tenn., pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to maim and assault with intent to intimidate resulting in bodily harm. The third charge made the incident a hate crime. If convicted, Shapiro and Rogers could be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
2 Killed, 10 Injured In Plains Twisters
FARMERSVILLE, Ill. Tornadoes struck central and southern Illinois and eastern Oklahoma, killing two people and injuring at least 10, as violent thunderstorms swept across the Plains and Midwest. A line of severe thunderstorms spawned more than a dozen twisters late Tuesday and early yesterday in Illinois, where a truck driver was crushed to death while he slept inside his rig at a truck stop about 60 miles north of St. Louis, authorities said. Four other people were injured at the Farmersville truck stop, officials said. Severe thunderstorms also struck Arkansas with hail and wind gusting to nearly 90 mph, and a woman died in eastern Oklahoma when a twister hit two communities at Fort Gibson Lake just north of Sequoyah State Park. Authorities said six other people were injured, one critically. Elsewhere in Illinois, railroad cars were blown off tracks near Carlinville, the National Weather Service said.
Addenda WICHITA Abortion foes picketed a clinic in a new round of protests in Wichita, site of a summer of demonstrations eight years ago that led to more than 2,600 arrests. Operation Save America, organized by the Rev. Flip Benham of Dallas, drew 30 protesters Tuesday and yesterday outside the Women s Health Care Services clinic, which is operated by George Tiller, a key target of abortion foes who decry his late-term abortion services. AUSTIN Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records from the Texas attorney general s office on a private lawyer s claim to millions of dollars in fees for the state s tobacco settlement. The subpoena is the first confirmation that federal officials are investigating efforts by former Texas attorney general Dan Morales to have attorney Marc D. Murr, his former law partner, paid for his role in Texas s $17.3 billion settlement with the tobacco industry. Murr, who at first sought $520 million for advising Morales, has now waived all claims to fees in the case, his lawyer said. ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. The disgraced former leader of the biggest black church group in the United States has dropped an appeal of his state theft and racketeering convictions, his lawyer said. Henry Lyons, 57, former president of the National Baptist Convention, was convicted Feb. 28 on state charges of defrauding about $4 million from several companies that wanted to do business with the church group. He began serving a 5 1/2-year sentence in a Florida prison March 31. He resigned as president of the National Baptist Convention on March 16, a day before he pleaded guilty to five federal charges including tax evasion and fraud.
CAPTION: At a truck stop in Farmersville, Ill., along Interstate 55, a tow-truck operator surveys a tractor-trailer whose driver was crushed to death while sleeping during a twister. A woman died in eastern Oklahoma when a twister hit Fort Gibson Lake.