Trial and Error

Miscellaneous Mayhem,
Madness and Murder



Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart

March 5, 2004 -- Emerging from a Manhattan courthouse, Martha Stewart showed no shame or humility after a jury found her GUILTY on all charges. Her lawyers, who failed to put on a defense, claimed the conviction would be overturned on appeal. Attorneys always say that after a Guilty verdict -- 9 times out of 10 they're wrong.

There was a young law student named Rex,
who had very small organs of sex.
When charged with exposure,
he said with composure:
"de minimis non curat lex."

Fall Out from Jackson's Lewd
Behavior in front of Children

Janet and Michael

The headline-clogging Jackson scandal has now resulted in a unique lawsuit that claims millions of children and their families are owed monetary damages due to the pop icon's lewd conduct.

In a pre-recorded interview Jackson tearfully took the blame but said, "it was not my intention that it go as far as it did."

The suit also names CBS Broadcasting, MTV and Viacom for Jackson's "lewd and sexually explicit conduct" and for promoting "sexually explicit acts solely designed to garner publicity and ultimately to increase profits for themselves."

It also asks the court to declare the matter a class action for purposes of damages. No dollar figure is mentioned in the suit, but it estimates that over 80 million people might be due compensation for pain and suffering from Miss Jackson's nipple piercing.

Miss Jackson

Martha Faces the Music    


February 6, 2004

Douglas Faneuil, the much-abused aide to Martha Stewart's personal stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic, withstood hours of annoying cross-examination from defense lawyer David Apfel. Like a spouse who tells the same stories, over and over and over again, Apfel asked Faneuil the same questions, over and over.

But Faneuil clung firmly to his story. He said that, under orders from Bacanovic, he passed along inside stock information to Martha, then lied to cover it up.

And then, we heard about the day Martha threw an all-out hissy fit over the music she was forced to listen to when Faneuil put her telephone call on "hold."

Douglas Faneuil

"She told you she was going to leave Peter Bacanovic and leave Merrill Lynch unless the hold music was changed?" asked Apfel. "Yes," Faneuil answered. Even jurors were roaring like, well, wet lions.

If this is your best defense, Martha, you're done.

RUSH to Judgment

"Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up."
-- Rush Limbaugh, October 5, 1995

What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use, too many whites are getting away with drug sales, too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."
-- Rush Limbaugh, October 5, 1995

"I'm appalled at people who simply want to look at all this abhorrent behavior and say people are going to do drugs anyway let's legalize it. It's a dumb idea. It's a rotten idea and those who are for it are purely 100 percent selfish."
-- Rush Limbaugh, Dec 9, 1993

America's New Meta-Murderers

November 18, 2003

America has just experienced the painful birth of a new era in killing.

Through the success of realistic police dramas and slasher films, true-crime novels and "CSI," forensic-type detective shows -- a new breed of killers was born. They are premeditating not only the murder, but the crime scene analysis and eventual public impact of the crime.

Traditionally, the average American juror equated the destruction or alteration of the crime scene as obvious evidence of complicity. Similarly, in the past, proof that the accused fled from police or substantially lied to authorities, was solid proof of complicity in a crime. That is no longer true.

The new juror, like the new killer, is now deep inside the game and is viewing the case through the lens of the possibly justified killer. While the defendant is presumed innocent in this game, all others -- including the victim, the police and any overdose of crystal meth or Twinkies involved -- are presumed to be enticing and quite possibly guilty clues which could lead to an acquittal.

Starting from the Menendez murders and the Simpson slaughters, and going through to the twin, bi-coastal Peterson trials and the Robert Durst debacle -- the transition to the modern day killer was made complete.

I have termed this new type of killer a Meta-Murderer. These killers are creating elaborate, multi-level mysteries to mask their evil deeds. Pulling themes and ideas from the media, the Meta-Murderer, is a brave new, homicidal, information manager.

Traditional investigative techniques are of no use. They have now joined the knife and gun as mere tools at the disposal of a maniac. The mouse has learned to bait us with our own trap.

The Robert Durst case marks an ominous turning point at the corner of Murder and Mayhem. We are now hunting down criminals on the information super killing ground, and crime scene analysis has gone the same way as animal hunting: once an absolute necessity, now mostly done for sport.

Betty Broderick

The Betty Broderick case intersects with the Clara Harris case at the dressing room mirror.

The two situations are vastly different in almost every area except one: self-image. Self-image and a mosaic of topics that surround the issue for American women -- issues of identity, beauty, age, self-worth and expectations. Broderick, more so than Harris, was able to garner support by showing an almost panoramic view of a tortured relationship that led to a single moment of passion.

Unfortunately for both women, the single moment includes multiple events that left time for reflection.

Broderick may have been under such psychological stress that she momentarily zoned out and shot her husband by accident, but then she shot his new wife -- several times. She ripped the phone cord out of the wall. Why? Because she knew the two were likely not completely dead yet and might crawl to a phone. She left them there to die. Poor Clara snapped, not one but three times -- doing doughnuts on top of her poor husband -- meanwhile, her daughter is in the car screaming.

If a fella comes home and finds his wife in the bed with another man -- his rage may render him defenseless to such a moment of shock and anger, and in that instant, he's likely to kill somebody. A jury might just hear an honest plea from a remorseful, but righteous man, and let him walk. If after that moment of passion he's still killing those people and re-loading his gun or carving his initials into the dead bodies -- a jury tends to feel less sympathy.

If he later scrawls "DIE, PIGS, DIE" on the wall in their blood and claims he saw several long-haired hippies -- you'll know he's lying, but that's the male impulse… to plan and create and deceive. The female impulse is to simply strike out. Enough is enough, and then they chop his penis off. Broderick, like Harris, was fond of the power she got from a moving vehicle, but certainly no homicidal attack was expected. At some point, after giving over her youth, her beauty, her body, her dreams, her expectations -- the killing seemed fair. At the time, there seemed to be no reason to really hide the murder.

Battered wife syndrome aside, an act of passion cannot extend over the course of years, and neither woman ever stood a chance in court. Interestingly, neither was the victim's wife at the time of the murder.

Motel 6 Murder

Murder Case Is Reassessed

FARMINGTON -- After the recent discovery that fingerprints once attributed to a defendant in the Motel 6 murder case actually came from the victim, Davis County prosecutors want time to reassess their case.

Prosecutors agreed Tuesday to delay until next week a scheduling hearing for alleged triggerman David Valken-Leduc, who has been free on bail. And last week, prosecutors did not object to the release from jail of codefendant Elliott Rashad Harper, who had been unable to raise bail.

The case against the two 23-year-old men now depends almost solely on admitted lookout man and getaway driver Todd Jeremy Rettenberger, who won his freedom last year by agreeing to testify against Valken-Leduc and Harper.

The victim, Woods Cross Motel 6 night clerk Matthew John Whicker, 30, was fatally shot and robbed on Oct. 29, 1996.

Since then, prosecutors have also charged three other men with involvement in the murder. Those three cases were later dismissed for lack of evidence. Rettenberger spent five years in jail awaiting trial before he admitted his role in the slaying, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and promised to help authorities prosecute Valken-Leduc and Harper.

He was freed last March.

-- Stephen Hunt

The weight of the evidence
is stacked against the false witness.

Margaret Rudin

The sorry saga of the infamous Black Widow of the desert, Margaret Rudin -- who has variously been known as Maggie White, Mary Frost and Anne Boatwright -- came to a pitiful end when the vicious spider killed her 64-year-old husband Ron and then disappeared into the night.

After Margaret was caught in her own web of deceit, her supporters cried and screamed and wrote letters to the judge on behalf of the murdering witch, but she was finally put in a cage with Nevada's other animals. Despite all the lies about domestic abuse and other creative dramas made up by Rudin and her defenders -- the pathetic old lady actually killed her rich husband when he found out about a couple of nasty notes she had written and threatened to leave her.

Ron Rudin's girlfriend, Sue Lyles said Ron was angry and hurt the day before he disappeared, and discussed the possibility of confronting his wife, who he concluded had sent anonymous letters to Lyle's children. "He felt that Margaret had sent the letters that my children had received, and that she was after money," Lyles testified.

Lyles said two identical letters were sent to her home in December 1994. One of the letters was addressed to Melissa, although Lyles' daughter's name is Natalie. In explicit and vulgar language, the notes informed her children that Lyles was having an affair with Ron Rudin. Each postmarked December 7, the letters featured such pleasantries as, "He screws her on dirty carpet floors."

Sue Lyles said her 25-year-old son Rich opened his letter and gave it to her. She was able to intercept the other letter before it could be read by her 13-year-old daughter.

Lyles met with Ron Rudin on December 17 and discussed the letters. The last known contact anyone had with Ron Rudin was on December 18. Prosecutors said Ron was killed in his bed after he confronted his wife about the two anonymous, typewritten letters.

Why was Mr. Rudin so certain it was the Black Widow who had sent the vulgar, threatening letters? Sue Lyles testified that Margaret Rudin -- in two prior conversations -- mistakenly referred to her daughter as, "Melissa."

Rick and Sandy

"Take Sandy out of the will, if she doesn't kill me tonight. If I'm dead, you'll know what happened."

Tiffany Luna Rides Again

She may have been born Sandy Murphy, but to me -- she'll always be Tiffany Luna.

Years before chasing Ted Binion's dragon into a Nevada graveyard, Sandra Murphy was a sick character in search of an author. The perky, small-town pageant contestant flew like a bat out of high school, hell-bent to make her beauty mark on the world and cash her looks in for a lot more than a cheap tiara and a plastic sash.

Not being the brightest bulb on the marquee, Sandy wasn't destined to become a queen, only a spiteful runner-up, but what she didn't know never stopped her -- even if it hurt her every time.

Like in February of 1994 when Ms. Murphy was seen by a Cosa Mesa police officer, speeding down the highway in a Porsche. Sandy was arrested for driving on a suspended license and impersonating someone else to the officer. According to court records, she insisted her name was Tiffany Luna. In Tiffany's possession was a $1.3 million check.

The nature of the scam never became clear to authorities and Sandy was freed on bail -- but a month later, her mother wrote a letter to the court:

"I ... am the mother of Sandra Murphy. I bailed her out of jail ... and since that time I am not convinced that she will appear at all of her court appearances. For this reason I have asked the bail bondsman to place Sandra back into the custody of the court. I no longer wish to assume the $10,000 liability."

Sandy had no trouble finding others willing to assume financial liability for her antics once she hit upon a winning theme: sticking her hand in the deep pockets of horny old men. Stripped of any sense of shame, Sandy danced and pranced in topless clubs up and down the West Coast, impatiently searching out slow-moving targets for her get-rich-quick schemes.

Then, on a shopping spree one night in Vegas, the Lunar Maiden picked up Ted Binion for a song. It was love at first sight of his money and within a week, the lap dancer was sitting pretty in the millionaire's mansion.

The silver-tongued Ms. Murphy didn't think she was pushing her Irish luck when she convinced Rick Tabish, one of her many male investors, to buy into a killer business plan that would bring them both unearthly riches and put Ted Binion six-feet under ground -- but Sandy never bargained on the Binion family's ruthless rejection of the relationship, or their relentlessly aggressive campaign against her after Ted Binion's mysterious death, which eventually put the notorious silver-digger behind bars.

Well, as Macarthur said to the people of the Philippines, "From whence I came, I shall return." Tiffany's back and so is her boyfriend, and yes -- there's gonna be trouble.

Exactly who will pay for the trouble this time around isn't clear. Rick certainly can't cover the tab. Ancient gaming executive, William Fuller, who bankrolled Sandy's first defense is most likely exhausted, and one suspects it's pretty hard to shop for foolish wealthy men in prison.

But don't count her out just yet. Where there's a will there's a way -- even if the will has been amended. ("Tell Jimmy to take Sandy out of the will.") I'd gamble everything I own that somehow, Sandra Murphy will find some poor, new, rich, old horndog who's ready and willing to pay for her crimes... if he can find his wallet.

Suddenly Sandy


Time and time again Sandy Murphy demonstrated her total disdain for the law. She would seek out trouble merely for the fun of it, and even when the most hardened of criminals would have enough shame to shut up, Sandy would pull an outrageous stunt that would ultimately make matters worse for her.

One of the former stripper's most notorious stunts was a moment that drew gasps from onlookers when during Sandy's murder trial, her mother was called to the witness stand. The bailiff called out, "Sandra Murphy," and the defendant popped up as though to testify -- then demurely sat back down with a big grin on her face.

Of course, Sandy never did testify to the events surrounding Ted Binion's murder, and while a jury may not hold against a person the fact that they availed themselves of their 5th amendment rights -- the jury is free to view the defendant's "chutzpah" for what it really is: demented insolence and a sociopathological disrespect for others.

legal briefs

Among the highlights of the Binion trial -- also presided over by Judge Bonaventure and reported on by the Review-Journal's O'Connell -- was the filing of a syntactically creative motion requesting the court "to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine how Ms. Murphy's panties managed to mysteriously disappear while in the custody of the detention center in order to get to the bottom of this matter."

The bottom was never gotten to in the matter, but the motion was filed because, as O'Connell wrote, Murphy's attorney, John Momot, "suggested authorities illegally seized his client's panties in order to conduct scientific tests on bodily fluids located on the clothing."

The authorities claimed the underwear was simply lost while Murphy was in custody, but Momot wasn't placated and insisted that the nature of the missing item was key: "It would have to be her black panties," he fumed.

Meanwhile, Chief Deputy District Attorney David Rogers, who prosecuted the Binion case, found himself an involuntary costar in a seamy outtake from a courtroom drama scripted by Lewis Carroll: "We have murder cases that are waiting to go on trial," Rogers sputtered, "and we are going to take hours of precious court time to find the missing panties?"



It was déjà vu all over again when Timothy Boczkowski of Pittsburgh, PA was suspected in 1994, of murdering of his second wife, Maryann. Many had doubts, even though Timothy sounded grief-stricken and shocked when he called 9-1-1 to say he had found Maryann dead in the backyard hot tub.

People were suspicious because the bizarre tub death happened four years after Boczkowski's first wife, Mary Elaine, was found dead in the couple's Greensboro, North Carolina home. Timothy told police he had entered the bathroom only to find his wife had mysteriously drowned... (where else?..) in the tub.

Fact is, plenty of folks suspected Timothy back in November of 1990, but since Mr. Boczkowski had no motive and no criminal background, charges were never filed in that first case.

Once burnt however, friends, family and legal authorities were twice shy and in 1994, they set about the legal task of using one murder to prove the other -- thereby showing that neither was an accident.

Testimony was, the two women looked enough alike to be twin sisters. Mary Elaine (34) and second wife, Maryann (35), were both heavily insured, and both alone with husband Timothy when they "accidentally drowned" in tubs. That, and other not so obvious similarities, went a long way toward conviction.

Pittsburgh police officer Gary Waters noted that Timothy Boczkowski's "got to be the unluckiest man in the world to lose two wives in a hot tub and bathtub -- or this is a homicide."

Boczkowski was convicted in 1996 of the first degree murder of Mary Elaine and was given life in prison. In May of 1999 -- the serial tub killer's luck ran out completely when, after returning a verdict of guilt for the murder of Maryann, a Pennsylvania jury gave Timothy Boczkowski the death sentence.

Asked why he killed both women in the same manner, Boczkowski reportedly replied, "I don't know. That was stupid, wasn't it?"

Death Penalty

Hannibal Courier-Post
Friday, May 7, 1999

A man serving a life sentence for suffocating his first wife in a bathtub was given the death penalty Thursday for strangling his second wife in a hot tub.

The sentence was handed out by the same jury that found Timothy Boczkowski, 43, guilty of murder in the 1994 death of Maryann Boczkowski, 35, at the couple's Pittsburgh home.

Prosecutors said he killed her because he did not want children and she was about to leave him. The defense argued that she drowned after sudden heart or liver failure brought on by years of heavy drinking.

Her death prompted authorities to reopen an investigation into the death of Boczkowski's first wife, Elaine, 34, four years earlier in Greensboro, N.C.

Boczkowski said his first wife had drowned after drinking, but an autopsy concluded the cause of death was chest compression. He was convicted of her death in 1996.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette
April 8, 1999

The case was delayed for several years until state Superior Court ruled that the death of Boczkowski's 1st wife can be used against him in the trial for the death of his 2nd wife because the manners of death are strikingly similar.

Elaine Boczkowski was killed Nov. 4, 1990, in Greensboro, N.C. Her death originally was not ruled a homicide.

It wasn't until Boczkowksi's 2nd wife died in her Ross hot tub 2 years later that North Carolina investigators reopened the case and charged Boczkowski with murder.

A jury determined that the cause of Elaine Boczkowski's death was chest compression, intentionally inflicted when someone held her pinned against the side of the bath tub until she stopped breathing.

Money troubles, loss of control over his wife and jealousy over her relationships with friends and a priest drove Boczkowski to murder his 1st wife, Elaine, the prosecutor in North Carolina successfully argued to the jury there in 1997.

After her death, Timothy Boczkowski returned to Allegheny County with his 3 children and married Maryann in 1993.

One of the witnesses in Boczkowski's Allegheny County trial is expected to be a former cell mate of his who testified in the North Carolina trial that Boczkowski admitted killing both wives.

Borkowski plans to call a forensic pathologist to testify that Maryann Boczkowski died from asphyxiation when someone choked her for 4 to 6 minutes until she was dead.

Police have speculated the Boczkowskis argued about her drinking before her death. An autopsy determined that she had a blood alcohol level of 0.22, more than twice the legal limit for drivers in Pennsylvania.

Bill Bennett: The Bookie of Virtues

William Bennett, "family values" czar and author of "The Book of Virtues", is betting that people won't view his secret passion for gambling as a vice.

At a time when he should be mortified and humbled -- he's proud, defiant and even angry. Parsing words like a demented poet, the rotund Reagan-Busher declares that he never specifically addressed the topic of gambling. "I'm not a hypocrite," the pompous Bennett insists. "I never got on the soapbox about gambling."

That's true -- and now we know why gambling was curiously left out of Bennett's holier-than-thou diatribes.

When it comes to the topic of virtue, one cannot thread the needle. Mr. Bennett was the far-right's number one attack dog when President Clinton tried to slice his sentences so thin that even the meaning of the word "is" got cut in half. Bennett was quick to point out that technicalities and loopholes are no substitute for honesty and integrity.

The former Secretary of Education is taking a big roll of the dice with his credibility when he tries to claim that his books and lectures against vice never included the vice of gambling per se, so he's in the clear. In other words: It depends on how the meaning of "values" is valued.

Well, Mr. Bennett is back on the soapbox but he's finding it a little slippery. He won't reveal the extent of his gambling, so you know the figures must be astounding. Some have suggested that over the last ten years, Bennett has burned through $8 million. We don't know, and the moralizing defender of the "family" -- values his right to privacy more than anything else.

When directly asked how much money he's gambled away, Bill Bennett will only admit "It was a lot of money. Maybe not too much, given what I made, but too much given who I am and what I do." What you are, Mr. Bennett, is a hypocrite of the highest order, who made millions from moralizing -- and what you do is go to casinos and gamble that same money away.

Adam and Steve

The idea of two men falling in love and making a vow to honor and support each other is outrageous and disgusting. If a man feels warmth and love for someone, it had better be towards a woman -- otherwise -- he needs to simply bury his emotions.

I've no objection to two men being friends, or even close pals -- but LOVE? -- I'm totally against it.

If two guys feel love -- they should live their lives in quiet shame and keep their warm feelings of bonding and their desire for a committed relationship in a dark hidden closet until they die, sad and lonely.

That's what GOD wants.

A Supreme Education

Despite the sad fact that the Nattering Neo-Con Nabobs of Negativity have a hostile view of the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the recognition of DIVERSITY as a factor in the college admissions process, most Americans have absolutely no idea who the Supreme Court is.

According to a survey by, 66 percent of Americans can't name even one, single justice.

The most popular judge, Sandra Day O'Connor, only received 25 percent of the vote and only 1 percent knew there's a justice named John Paul Stevens.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist
Justice Stephen G. Breyer
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Justice Anthony Kennedy
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Justice Antonin Scalia
Justice David Souter
Justice John Paul Stevens
Justice Clarence Thomas

Scalia's Strange BedFellows

Of the nine Supremes, only two voted with Justice Scalia to uphold the Texas law criminalizing certain types of sex -- Justices Rehnquist and Thomas. Scalia was so disturbed by the loss he actually read his dissent from the bench, warning of the horrors ahead and then announcing that ''the court has taken sides in the culture war.'' The paranoia surpassed the panic when the judge went so far as to write that the Supreme Court was being used to advance "the homosexual agenda."


Interestingly enough, Clarence Thomas wrote his own dissent, and although he didn't read it aloud for everybody, he was clearly parting with Scalia's fear and loathing, saying the Texas law was "uncommonly silly.'' Apparently not a complete stranger to issues of sexual desire and privacy, Thomas articulated the conservative's rebuke of Texas' anti-sex laws, writing: ''Punishing someone for expressing his sexual preference through noncommercial consensual conduct with another adult does not appear to be a worthy way to expend valuable law enforcement resources."

Clearly on the wrong side of the issue, the Chief Justice chose to remain completely silent on what is surely one of the most important Supreme Court cases in decades.

Why We Can't All Just Get Along

In the 1770's, there were 'founding fathers' who asked the question, "Can't we all just get along?" Those people knew that the lofty sentiment that "all men are created equal" and that every person enjoyed a right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" -- were not worth the parchment they were printed on, as long as America profited from the subjugation and enslavement of Black people.

The argument over slavery was so intense, it nearly prevented the constitution from being signed at all, but finally it was ratified, under the assumption that racial injustice would simply work itself out. Still, many people at that time predicted that the outrageous treatment of African-Americans would not disappear.

A hundred years later those people were proven right in the bloody civil war. Slavery came to an "official" end, and at that time in the 1860's, several Americans asked the question, "Can't we all just get along?" The answer came back that in order to form a more perfect union -- reparations would have to be made.

Ill-gotten gains from the sale and trade of African workers (once called "Black Gold") could never come to any good. America would have to acknowledge and pay for its evil treatment of people of color for economic gain, and begin to right the wrongs that it had insisted on committing for tens of decades.

Thus began the declared and written promises of social and economic repair -- one of which was the promise of "forty acres and a mule" to every Black family. "Can't we all just get along?" Apparently not -- as those promises were lies, and were never fulfilled.

A hundred years after that in the 1960's, the U.S. government again acknowledged - again after much bloodshed -- that it had made egregious errors, and had wronged citizens of color. America declared that "separate is not equal" and that the "jim crow laws" were part of an evil system designed to subjugate and hinder African-Americans. It was also generally agreed that purposeful and affirmative action was needed to begin to level the social playing field. Now, a few years later, conservative members of the right-wing insist that "affirmative action" is a mistake - and is unfair to European-Americans.

One hundred years from now (if we haven't blown our planet to all hell), will we still be pretending, like those people back in 1776, that all of this will simply work itself out? Will we still be wondering "Why we can't all just get along?

The eraser is mightier than the sword.

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