First transgender lawmaker charged after ‘she called in a bomb threat to a local hospital’
Police arrested 31-year-old Stacie Laughton on Thursday following the February 27 threat to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center
Police evacuated the building but found no suspicious device
In 2012, Laughton was elected to the state House of Representatives but never took the seat because it was discovered she was a convicted felon
Stacie Laughton was born Barry C. Laughton Jr. and was convicted twice in Nashua before she ever turned 20
Charged: Stacie Laughton, 31, allegedly called in a bomb threat to a New Hampshire hospital
A New Hampshire ex-official believed to be the first transgender person elected to a state legislature was charged on Thursday with calling in a bomb threat to a hospital, police said.
Police arrested 31-year-old Stacie Laughton of Nashua on Thursday following the February 27 threat to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center.
Police evacuated the building but found no suspicious device. An investigation led police to issue a warrant for Laughton’s arrest; the Nashua resident complied.
Calls weren’t being accepted Thursday at a phone listed for Laughton.
In 2012, Laughton was elected to the state House of Representatives but never took the seat, resigning after reports of a prior felony conviction raised questions about Laughton’s legal ability to serve.
The state’s Ballot Law Commission denied Laughton’s request to run again last year, saying Laughton’s 2008 convictions for identity fraud and falsifying evidence disqualified the would-be candidate until 2018, when a suspended sentence ends.
Laughton was charged on Thursday with making a false report regarding explosives, a felony that can bring up to 7 years in prison if convicted.
Laughton was released on $50,000 bond and is due back in court in April.
Laughton expressed remorse for alleged actions and blamed them on an untreated mental illness.
‘I have had a mental illness my whole life, and I guess this was my worst break with it. I was untreated for a long time, and I didn’t have medication,’ Laughton told the New Hampshire Union Leader following her arrest.
‘I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, and it was totally out of character for me. I have put a lot behind me, and I never thought I would do this in a million years,’ she told the newspaper.
Stacie Laughton was born Barry C. Laughton Jr. and was convicted twice in Nashua before she ever turned 20.
Bomb threat: Police arrested 31-year-old Stacie Laughton of Nashua on Thursday following the February 27 threat to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center (pictured)
Police told The Patch that in 2002 she was charged with domestic violence/criminal mischief after an argument with her father during which she smashed a plate.
In 2003 she was charged with sexual assault involving a woman from whom she was renting a rorom.
‘Those charges were eventually dropped,’ Laughton told The Patch in 2012 following her resignation from her elected position.
Convicted felon: In 2012, Laughton was elected to the state House of Representatives but never took the seat, resigning after reports of a prior felony conviction raised questions about Laughton’s legal ability to serve
‘In fact, she still lives in the city, and we see each other from time to time, and we are pleasant. It’s as if those years never happened,’ she said.
Laughton said three years ago that she hopes to run for office again someday despite her sordid past. Her criminal history will prevent her from doing so.
‘After I got out of prison I felt like it was a new start for me. I began my transformation, from who I had been for all those years, to who I really was,’ Laughton said.
‘And ever since that that day, I do something, every day to try to better myself, or help someone else. I am trying to be the best person I can be, and put the past behind me, once and for all. ‘
I could care less if they are transgender or gay or whatever, if they are qualified it does not matter.
But to have these type of issues that are not known during elections plus a felony record? Is this who we want running our government?
People we seriously need to start thinking these things through.
Suspect shot near Ferguson rally critically injured
A suspect who authorities say opened fire on officers in Ferguson, Missouri, on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death was critically wounded when the officers shot back, St. Louis County’s police chief said Monday.
But the father of the suspect, 18-year-old Tyrone Harris Jr., called the police version of events “a bunch of lies.” He said two girls who were with his son told him he was unarmed and had been drawn into a dispute involving two groups of young people.
St. Louis County prosecutors on Monday announced 10 charges against Harris – five counts of armed criminal action, four counts of first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and a firearms charge. All 10 are felonies.
It was not immediately clear if the latest police shooting of a black suspect would spur renewed unrest in Ferguson, the site of many protests – some violent – in the aftermath of Brown’s death on Aug. 9, 2014. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger issued a state of emergency, a move that authorizes county Police Chief Jon Belmar to take control of police emergency management in and around Ferguson.
Elsewhere, about 50 protesters were in custody after being arrested while blocking the entrance to a federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis, where they demanded federal action to stop what they consider racially abusive policing. Those in custody included scholar and civil rights activist Cornel West.
Belmar said at a news conference that officers had been tracking the suspect, who they believed was armed, during a protest marking the death of Brown, the black, unarmed 18-year-old whose killing by a white Ferguson police officer touched off the national “Black Lives Matter” movement.
At the height of what was already a rowdy protest in which rocks and bottles were thrown at officers, gunshots rang out from the area near a strip of stores, including some that had been looted. Belmar believes the shots came from about six different shooters. It was not clear what prompted the exchange, but Belmar said the groups had been feuding.
At one point, the suspect crossed the street and apparently spotted the plainclothes officers arriving in an unmarked van with distinctive red and blue police lights, Belmar said. He said the suspect shot into the hood and windshield.
The officers fired back at him from inside the vehicle and then pursued him on foot when he ran.
The suspect fired on officers again after he became trapped in a fenced-in area, the chief said, and all four officers fired back. He was struck and fell and was taken to a hospital, where Belmar said he was in “critical, unstable” condition.
Tyrone Harris Sr. told The Associated Press his son was a close friend of Michael Brown and was in Ferguson Sunday night to pay respects.
Harris said his son got caught up in a dispute among two groups of young people and was “running for his life” after gunfire broke out. He said the girls who were with his son said he had no weapons.
“My son was running to the police to ask for help, and he was shot,” he said. “It’s all a bunch of lies … They’re making my son look like a criminal.”
The younger Harris does not have a listed attorney.
The suspect had a semi-automatic 9 mm gun that was stolen last year from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Belmar said.
None of the officers was seriously injured. All four have been put on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. They were not wearing body cameras, Belmar said.
The shooting happened around 11:15 p.m. Sunday, sending protesters and reporters running for cover.
Belmar waved off any notion that the people with the weapons were part of the protest.
“They were criminals. They weren’t protesters,” he said.
Some protest groups were critical of police.
“It was a poor decision to use plainclothes officers in a protest setting because it made it difficult for people to identify police officers, which is essential to the safety of community members,” Kayla Reed, a field organizer with the Organization of Black Struggle, said in a statement.
“After a year of protest and conversation around police accountability, having plainclothes officers without body cameras and proper identification in the protest setting leaves us with only the officer’s account of the incident, which is clearly problematic.”
Early Monday, another reported shooting drew officers to an apartment building in the area. Two males told police they were targeted in a drive-by shooting near the memorial to Brown outside Canfield Apartments. A 17-year-old was shot in the chest and shoulder, and a 19-year-old was shot in the chest, but their injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said.
Separately, police said a 17-year-old suspect has been charged with unlawful use of a weapon and one count of resisting arrest after he fired shots near the protesters late Sunday. He is being held on $100,000 bond.
The anniversary of Brown’s killing, which cast greater scrutiny on how police interact with black communities, has sparked days of renewed protests, though until Sunday they had been peaceful and without any arrests.
Before the gunfire, protesters were blocking traffic and confronting police. One person threw a glass bottle at officers but missed.
For the first time in three consecutive nights of demonstrations, some officers were dressed in riot gear, including bulletproof vests and helmets with shields. Police used smoke to disperse a crowd that lingered on West Florissant, Belmar said.
One officer was treated for cuts after a rock was thrown at his face, and two officers were pepper-sprayed by protesters, county police said. Five people were arrested.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Paul Hampel was beaten and robbed by attackers while covering the unrest. Hampel said he was taking photos and videos of break-ins along West Florissant Avenue when he was rushed from behind. He was bloodied and spent the night in a hospital with a concussion.
Donald Trump reiterated he doesn’t owe Fox News’ Megyn Kelly an apology for controversial comments about blood coming out of her “wherever” on Monday. In fact, she owes him one.
“She should really be apologizing to me if you want to know the truth,” Trump said, adding he doesn’t understand why Fox News doesn’t treat him well.
“They didn’t ask me about the economy, they didn’t ask me about jobs,” he continued, claiming the moderators went into attack mode.
In response to a question about whether he’s spoken to network chairman Roger Ailes, Trump declined to answer: “I don’t want to say that… why should I say it, I’m not going to embarrass anyone,” he said. “My whole life has been led on the theory that I do not want to embarrass people.”
As TheWrap previously reported, the Fox News vs. Donald Trump debate storyline — now with Trump’s comments about Kelly adding fuel to the fire — sets up the new quasi-2016 campaign, pitting the real estate mogul against the conservative-leaning network.
For GOP candidates, having Fox in your corner is vital to victory. So far, Megyn Kelly hasn’t commented on Trump’s comments.
Megyn Fox has probably done Trump a big favor, now people are talking about him more than ever and Faux news has been known for a long time as ratings and agenda and not responsible journalism. But then again don’t they all do that?
The destruction of more than 350 tons of food by the government this week angered Russians in a nation where some are struggling to feed themselves and many recall the norm of food shortages just a generation ago.
The food was burned and streamrolled beginning Thursday following a controversial decree by President Vladimir Putin ordering banned products from Europe and the United States to be eliminated before they can seep through the border.
“You can’t just destroy food when there are so many people who have trouble feeding themselves,” said activist Olga Saveleva, whose petition on Change.org has gathered over 320,000 signatures since Thursday.
“The media is gleefully showing how this food is being burned. We have a lot of people going hungry, a lot of people in poverty. There are veterans of (World War II) who remember the blockade” of Leningrad, when hundreds of thousands of people died of hunger, she said. “This is a mockery.”
Moscow banned a wide range of meat, fruit and milk products from the United States and European countries a year ago in retaliation for Western sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea and incursion into East Ukraine. Russia denies it is involved in the the ongoing fighting in Eastern Ukraine, despite mounting evidence.
Last month, the government proposed destroying banned foodstuffs that were continuing to seep across the border and onto store shelves. Putin signed a decree, which went into effect Thursday, ordering the destruction of any such products that had made it across the border. The order does not impact food brought in by citizens for private use.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted the incineration of food looked “unpleasant,” but added it was a necessary measure “considering that this is, simply put, contraband,” he said Thursday, according to RIA Novosti. He added the Kremlin would consider the petition.
Since the decree went into effect, Russian state television has been demonstrating how cheese, fruit and meat were being incinerated and bulldozed into the ground. The measures are “absurd and grotesque,” said Saveleva, who plans to forward her petition to Putin and members of parliament.
Saveleva proposes that instead of destroying the sanctioned foodstuffs, the products could be handed over to the needy or sent to residents in Eastern Ukraine, where thousands have been killed in fighting between government forces and Russia-backed insurgents in the past year.
Opposition activists in St. Petersburg, meanwhile, planned to hold a rally against the destruction Saturday, Ekho Moskvy radio reported.
Rosselkhoznadzor, the federal agency tasked with overseeing Russia’s agriculture sector, defended the measures, saying the food products could be unsafe for consumption and should be destroyed rather than given to the needy.
“People have a kind heart, but they don’t understand the nature of (contraband),” agency representative Alexei Alexeyenko told Russia’s RSN radio station, speaking of the hundreds of thousands who signed the petition.
Despite tons of products being destroyed, residents were able to salvage some of the food. Local media in Smolensk in western Russia near the border with Belarus reported people gathering peaches that had remained whole and using them to make moonshine. Alexeyenko said he was “not surprised.”
For more than 35 years, a Texas man has been in a prison even though an appeals court threw out his conviction on a 1976 murder charge that initially had him on death row.
On Monday, 59-year-old Jerry Hartfield will return to court for a retrial, facing a life sentence if convicted of killing a woman who sold tickets at a Bay City bus station.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers have haggled over who’s to blame for decades of inaction and whether Hartfield’s right to a speedy trial have been violated. But the trial judge has refused to dismiss Hartfield’s indictment and prosecutors recently took the death penalty off the table, citing a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring execution of mentally impaired people.
At a hearing Friday, a psychologist testified Hartfield’s IQ is 67, below the threshold of 70 considered mental impairment.
“Regardless of how the time is parsed out, the delay between the initial conviction in 1977 and the trial … is extraordinary,” defense attorney Jay Wooten said in court documents. Potential trial jurors are to arrive Monday for questioning.
Matagorda County District Attorney Steven Reis has said while prosecutors “may be partially responsible” for not retrying Hartfield earlier, the state hasn’t acted in bad faith. Hartfield also bears some responsibility for not filing for nearly a quarter-century, Reis said.
“I don’t hold no grudge,” Hartfield told The Associated Press in 2012 from a Texas prison. “All I want to do is just get things right and get back on with my life again.”
Hartfield was 21 in June 1977 when he was convicted of murdering Eunice Lowe, 55, a ticketing agent who was beaten with a pickaxe, stabbed with a glass soda bottle and robbed. She was raped after she was dead. Her car and nearly $3,000 were stolen in the September 1976 attack at the Bay City bus station, about 100 miles southwest of Houston.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Hartfield’s capital murder conviction in 1980 because of a jury selection problem and ordered a new trial. Three years later, then-Gov. Mark White commuted Hartfield’s sentence to life in prison.
It wasn’t until 2006 that an inmate told Hartfield that because of the appellate court reversal, it appeared there was no sentence to commute. With the jailhouse lawyer’s assistance, Hartfield, who said he learned to read and write in prison, filed a handwritten court writ demanding retrial or release.
The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected it twice. Hartfield took it to the federal courts where U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes agreed in 2009 there was no conviction.
“Hartfield’s position is as straightforward and subtle as a freight train,” Hughes said. An appeals court agreed.
State District Judge Craig Estlinbaum, who will oversee the retrial, characterized the case last month as “an unstoppable force meets an immoveable object.”
“On one hand, the state’s negligence caused a 30-year delay in bringing Hartfield to trial. Nonetheless, Hartfield failed to present a clear, unambiguous demand directly to the trial court for a speedy trial,” Estlinbaum said.
In pretrial motions, Hartfield’s attorneys contended his defense is compromised because the “two most important pieces of physical evidence” aren’t available: the murder weapon can’t be found and Lowe’s car, returned to relatives, no longer exists.
Plus, Wooten said, many of the more than 125 people on the prosecution’s witness list are dead or can’t be found.
Hartfield was working construction in the Bay City area at the time of Lowe’s death. He was arrested within days in Wichita, Kansas, where he had relatives.
He gave a confession to officers returning him to Texas that defense attorneys want suppressed. Hartfield told the AP the confession was “bogus.”
But the Texas Ranger and Bay City police detective who took the confession testified at a hearing Friday that it was by the book and they took him to a hospital afterward so a medical exam could show he hadn’t been physically abused.
“I knew this day was coming,” retired Detective Sgt. Doug Holland said.
That statement was among the key evidence, along with an unused bus ticket at the crime scene that had carried his fingerprints and testimony from witnesses who said he had talked about needing $3,000.
If convicted again, Hartfield immediately would be eligible for parole under the Texas law at the time of his original trial.
“Don’t Give Up on Us” is a song by American/English singer David Soul. Riding high on the success of playing in the hit TV show Starsky and Hutch, Soul returned to one of his early career choices as a singer. His debut, the Tony Macaulay-written-and-produced “Don’t Give Up on Us” was a worldwide smash, spending four weeks at No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in January and February 1977, and a single week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1977. In addition, the song spent one week at No. 1 on the U.S. adult contemporary chart. It has sold 1.16 million copies in the UK.
“Don’t Give Up on Us” was rated No. 93 in VH1‘s 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders due to the fact that, despite having more hits in the UK, Soul was never again able to reach the top forty in the US. Soul recorded a new version of the song in 2004, allegedly after being embarrassed when hearing it by chance in an elevator as sung by Owen Wilson in the film version of Starsky and Hutch.