Stand-off Gunman Was Former Child Actor With Violent Past
December 24, 2008
EL MONTE-- Authorities say a man who was shot and killed by police after a standoff in which he took his 7-year-old son hostage Tuesday was a suspect wanted for the 2004 murder of his girlfriend in Hawthorne.
The suspect was identified by police as 38-year-old Manuel Benitez of Hawthorne, was wanted by the FBI since 2004 for allegedly killing his girlfriend Stephanie Spears, the mother of the 7-year-old.
Benitez had been a fugitive for four years until he showed up Tuesday during the standoff at Tai Pan restaurant in El Monte just after 3:20 p.m.
Benitez was apparently featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted" earlier this year.
The show said Benitez was a child actor who went by the name Mark Everett, one of several aliases known to police.
He appeared in commercials and in films including "Stand and Deliver" and "Pee Wee's Big Adventure."
Benitez allegedly bludgeoned Spears to death with a dumbbell inside their home during a fit of rage after a bad break-up.
He was supposedly trying to take their son after the break-up while Spears slept, but became enraged when Spears woke up and confronted him.
Benitez then allegedly fled with his son and mother, Elizabeth Velasco, to Cuba or Mexico. He was charged with murder and a California warrant was issued for his arrest in May 2005, according to the FBI Web site.
A federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was issued in March 2006. The FBI was offering $20,000 for information leading to Benitez's arrest.
Tuesday's incident, which involved the same boy, began around 3:20 p.m. when police responded to a report of a suspicious man with a child near the intersection of Ramona Blvd. and Santa Anita Ave. Officers arriving at the scene reportedly found Benitez armed with a handgun.
Officers told the man to let go of the boy, said El Monte Police Det. Ralph Batres. The man resisted and fled, pulling the boy with him.
With the boy in a headlock, and a gun held to the child's head, the man tried to enter the El Sombrero Restaurant, according to a restaurant employee
After several unsuccessful attempts to get into that restaurant, Benitez took his son into the Tai Pan Chinese Food restaurant, where he locked himself and the child inside a bathroom.
Authorities negotiated with Benitez for two hours, when a flash-bang grenade detonated at 5:30 p.m. followed by gunshots. There is no word on who fired the shots.
Two handguns in Benitez's possession were recovered following the shooting, according to police.
Officers pulled the boy out of the restaurant and he was rushed to County USC Medical with a gunshot wound to the thigh. He was reported in stable condition Wednesday.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Gunman in Santa suit kills three at L.A. party
This is LIVE unmoderated video from the scene.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A man dressed as Santa Claus showed up at a Christmas Eve party at a suburban Los Angeles house and opened fire with a handgun, killing three people and wounding two, police said on Thursday.
The only suspect in Wednesday night's shooting in Covina, California, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, later committed suicide and his body was found at a relative's house in nearby Sylmar, police said.
"He died of self-inflicted wounds. We believe it was a marital dispute," said Lt. Pat Buchanan of the Covina Police Department.
The house caught fire during the shooting and was engulfed in flames when police arrived.
The two people wounded by gunfire included an 8-year-old girl and both were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, Buchanan said. A third person was hospitalized with a broken leg, he said.
Police have not identified the dead yet, Buchanan said.
Witnesses among the 30 people attending the party told police that Pardo stripped off his Santa costume after the shooting and fled in street clothes.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle, editing by Eric Beech)
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Report: 1 In Every 99 Americans Now Behind Bars
U.S. Spent More Than $49 Billion On Corrections In 2007
NEW YORK (CBS/AP) ― Don't ask the U.S. prison system if this is indeed "the land of the free."
For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report tracking the surge in inmate population.
The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.
Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008 -- one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world.
By contrast, in mid 2002 the ratio was 1 in 142, with the prison population surpassing 2 million for the first time.
The steadily growing inmate population "is saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime," said the report.
Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, said budget woes are prompting officials in many states to consider new, cost-saving corrections policies that might have been shunned in the recent past for fear of appearing soft in crime.
"We're seeing more and more states being creative because of tight budgets," she said in an interview. "They want to be tough on crime, they want to be a law-and-order state -- but they also want to save money, and they want to be effective."
The report cited Kansas and Texas as states which have acted decisively to slow the growth of their inmate population. Their actions include greater use of community supervision for low-risk offenders and employing sanctions other than reimprisonment for ex-offenders who commit technical violations of parole and probation rules.
"The new approach, born of bipartisan leadership, is allowing the two states to ensure they have enough prison beds for violent offenders while helping less dangerous lawbreakers become productive, taxpaying citizens," the report said.
While many state governments have shown bipartisan interest in curbing prison growth, there also are persistent calls to proceed cautiously.
"We need to be smarter," said David Muhlhausen, a criminal justice expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation. "We're not incarcerating all the people who commit serious crimes -- but we're also probably incarcerating people who don't need to be."
According to the report, the inmate population increased last year in 36 states and the federal prison system.
The largest percentage increase -- 12 percent -- was in Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear highlighted the cost of corrections in his budget speech last month. He noted that the state's crime rate had increased only about 3 percent in the past 30 years, while the state's inmate population has increased by 600 percent.
The Pew report was compiled by the Center on the State's Public Safety Performance Project, which is working directly with 13 states on developing programs to divert offenders from prison without jeopardizing public safety.
"For all the money spent on corrections today, there hasn't been a clear and convincing return for public safety," said the project's director, Adam Gelb. "More and more states are beginning to rethink their reliance on prisons for lower-level offenders and finding strategies that are tough on crime without being so tough on taxpayers."
The report said prison growth and higher incarceration rates do not reflect a parallel increase in crime or in the nation's overall population. Instead, it said, more people are behind bars mainly because of tough sentencing measures, such as "three-strikes" laws, that result in longer prison stays.
"For some groups, the incarceration numbers are especially startling," the report said. "While one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for black males in that age group the figure is one in nine."
The nationwide figures, as of Jan. 1, include 1,596,127 people in state and federal prisons and 723,131 in local jails -- a total 2,319,258 out of almost 230 million American adults.
The report said the United States is the world's incarceration leader, far ahead of more populous China with 1.5 million people behind bars. It said the U.S. also is the leader in inmates per capita (750 per 100,000 people), ahead of Russia (628 per 100,000) and other former Soviet bloc nations which make up the rest of the Top 10.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Dear Mr. Paisola I am a registered sex offender. In 1993 I was charged with ASSAULT WITH INTENT TO COMMIT MAYHEM, RAPE, SODOMY in California (Penal Code 220). I was at a party with a bunch of friends (approx. 20). A lady (with whom I had sex with numerous times) was there (she was 19 I was 20) and we started making out in the bathroom of the house party. Her friend came in and the lady pushed me off of her and lied, she said I was trying to rape her. This was the first time I had ever been arrested as an adult and I was terrified while I was housed in the county jail system and going back and forth to court to defend myself.
What Can I do?
What Can I do?