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Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction / Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction

Thomia Hunter Granted Clemency After Serving Life Sentence For Killing Abusive Ex-Partner

Hunter will be released in July 2019. 

Thomia Hunter, a woman who was sentenced to life in prison for killing her abusive ex-boyfriend in 2005, has reportedly been granted clemency by Ohio Governor John Kasich. Hunter will be released in June 2019, according to Cleveland.com

Hunter’s lawyer, Tiffany Smith, Hunter received the news on Wednesday (Jan. 9) via a letter from Kasich’s office.

Hunter was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2005 for murdering her ex-boyfriend after enduring abuse from him for years. The Ohio Parole board recently discovered new information confirming that Hunter's ex had viciously attacked her on that fatal night, which led them to believe she had been suffering from battered woman syndrome at the time of the murder. That information had reportedly not been revealed during her trial.

Hunter's release is contingent on her completion of a reintegration program provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

While she is grateful to the governor for the commuted sentence, Hunter and Smith hope that her case can shine a light on victims of domestic violence and abuse and how that can lead to violent offenses.

Hunter's clemency comes only days after Cyntoia Brown was granted clemency after being convicted for killing the man that forced her into sex work.

Hunter will be released on Monday, July 15.

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Government Shutdown Prompts Hunger Strike Inside Manhattan Jail

As the country enters its 26th day since the partial government shutdown, some inmates inside a Manhattan detention center have decided to partake in a hunger strike after family visits were canceled for the second week due to a lack of staffing.

According to the New York Times, inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, or M.C.C have denied their breakfast and lunch meals. The facility, which holds about 800, is one of the most important in the federal prison system and has housed few infamous names including Mexican drug leader El Chapo and terrorists.

Federal public defender Sarah Baumgartel said she learned of the hunger strike from a detainee she represents. Baumgartel declined to identify the inmate out of fear he'd be singled out. "They have already refused a meal — I believe they refused breakfast and lunch.”

Along with canceled family visits, the dispensing of medication to inmates in need has also been affected. The New York Times reports a prosecutor inside a federal court was "informed" that because of the shutdown, there are issues with prescribing medication.”

On Monday (Jan. 16) Bureau of Prisons lawyer Adam Johnson emailed  defense lawyers stating “due to staff shortages,” attorneys would not be able to speak with their clients at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. "We regret the inconvenience and will notify you immediately once visiting resumes.”

The partial government shutdown is a stand off between Donald Trump's demands for funding to construct a wall along the U.S- Mexican border and a newly elected Democratic Congress refusing to acquiesce.

Since then, more than 800,000 employees have gone without pay.

 

 

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Justin Sullivan

Man Leaves Marijuana In An Uber And Tries To Retrieve It From Cops

A 21-year-old Pennsylvania man is in police custody after attempting to retrieve two pounds of marijuana from a state trooper he believed was his Uber driver.

According to reports, the driver received an email Dec. 29 from Uber about the previous rider Malik Mollett, who left something in the backseat of the vehicle. In the email was Mollett's phone number.

On Jan. 9, a state trooper posed as an Uber driver and called Mollett. Police said Mollett answered the phone, explained he left something in the Uber. The trooper and Mollett then agreed to meet, Mollett said the bag he left was black, the trooper texted Mollett a picture of the black bag and he confirmed that it was indeed his.

TWO pounds of marijuana left behind in an Uber — police say Malik Mollett thought he was meeting up with the driver to get it back, but it was actually state troopers. I’ll have more on this story tonight on #WPXI pic.twitter.com/ZJGP7kU29Z

— Melanie Marsalko (@WPXIMelanie) January 11, 2019

The trooper than coordinated a time to meet with Mollett at a local McDonald's. It was there, the trooper gave Mollett the bag. Another trooper reportedly then entered the McDonalds and took Mollett into police custody.

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Florida Pardons Four Black Men Wrongfully Convicted Of Rape In 1949

The state of Florida is attempting to make amends.

Gov. Ron DeSantis posthumously pardoned Samuel Shepherd, Walter Irvin, Earnest Thomas and Charles Greenlee Friday (Jan. 11), decades after the court system destroyed their lives

On July 16, 1949, Shepherd, Irvin, Greenlee and Thomas, known as “The Groveland Four,” were convicted of gang raping a 17-year-old married white woman who claimed that she was attacked on the side of a road in Groveland, Fla.

“For seventy years, these four men have had their history wrongly written for crimes they did not commit,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“As I have said before, while that is a long time to wait, it is never too late to do the right thing,” he continued. “I believe the rule of law is society’s sacred bond. When it is trampled, we all suffer. For the Groveland Four, the truth was buried. The Perpetrators celebrated. But justice has cried out from that day until this.”

The accuser, Norma Padgett, and her husband, Willie, claimed that she had been gang raped after their car broke down. There was no evidence to prove that a sexual assault occurred, and prosecutors were accused of manipulating and withholding crucial information in the case.

Irvin and Shepherd, both 22, were friends and World War II veterans. They acknowledged asking the couple if they needed help after spotting them on the side of the road. Greenlee, a 16-year-old newlywed, was “being detained 20 miles away” from the location where the Padgetts claimed the rape occurred. He was at a train station waiting to go job hunting with Thomas when police arrested him. The teen denied that he and Thomas were involved in the alleged rape.

Nonetheless, Irvin, Shepherd and Greenlee were all charged with rape. Thomas, also a newlywed at the time, was “presumed guilty” but fled before police could arrest him. A violent posse of more than 1,000 men went out to search for him. They caught up with Thomas and killed him in a “hail of gunfire” as he slept next to a tree. His death was ruled a justifiable homicide.

The others were arrested and severely beaten by police, subsequently forcing them into false confessions, with the exception of Irvin who maintained his innocence. Another member of the group had his home burned down by an angry mob.

An all-white jury convicted the men of rape and sentenced Irvin and Shepherd to death. Greenlee was sentenced to life in prison because he was a minor.

Thurgood Marshall, then an Executive Director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, appealed the ruling. A retrial was ordered in April of 1951. Seven months later, Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall shot Shepherd and Irvin during a prison transfer. McCall claimed that he gunned them down because they were attempting to escape. Shepherd died instantly.

Irvin survived after being shot in the neck while laying on the ground, handcuffed to Shepherd.

Irvin was refused medical attention because of his race. He was later retried in court, reconvicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was eventually commuted to life in prison. Irvin was paroled in 1969. He was found dead in his car a year after his release.

Greenlee, the last living member of the four, was paroled in 1960. He died in 2012, at age 78.

Norma Padgett, now 86 years old, opposed the men receiving pardons and maintains her story.

The pardons were approved nearly a year after state legislators issued a resolution urging the governor to move forward with the process. Lawmakers also offered a “heartfelt apology” to the families of Greenlee,  Irvin, Shepherd and Thomas “for the enduring sorrow caused by the criminal justice system’s failure to protect their basic constitutional rights.”

See more on the case below.

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