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Archive: June, 2012

POSTED: Friday, June 29, 2012, 4:19 PM

What now?

That’s what was on the minds of about 35 people – juvenile advocates and families of life inmates sentenced as juveniles -- who gathered Friday at the historic Arch Street United Methodist Church in Center City Philadelphia.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out mandatory life sentences without parole for people who killed when they were under the age of 18. Juvenile offenders, the high court ruled, can be rehabilitated and deserve the chance to prove it while in prison.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 4:19 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 3:24 PM

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled out mandatory life sentences without parole for individuals who killed when they were under the age of 18.

Advocates for “teen lifers” say the ruling will likely mean new penalty hearings for about 2,000 to 2,500 nationwide and, for the first time, hope they may not die in prison. Pennsylvania has the highest number of juvenile offenders serving life without parole: 480, about 350 from Philadelphia.

But for other inmates, there was sobering news from a study this month by the Pew Center on the States: all people sentenced to prison – for violent and nonviolent crimes – are serving longer sentences.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 3:24 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 1:36 PM

The Chadds Ford man arrested March 1 after driving his SUV through a gate and onto a runway at Philadelphia International Airport was charged today by the U.S. Attorney’s office with a count of using an automobile to damage airport facilities and disrupt airport operations.

The charge against Kenneth Richard Mazik, 24, was filed by the federal prosecutor in a criminal information. Use of an information means the individual has waived indictment by the grand jury and is considered the prelude to a guilty plea.

Mazik was originally arrested by Philadelphia police on March 1 after he crashed his Jeep Grand Cherokee through a locked gate at the airport and sped at more than 100 miles an hour. A plane was behind the Jeep, about 500 feet above the runway, preparing to land, before air-traffic controllers ordered it into a holding pattern.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 1:36 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, June 18, 2012, 2:03 PM

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit today affirmed the federal hate-crime convictions of two Schuylkill County men in the 2008 beating death of an illegal Mexican immigrant.

The Third Circuit panel in Philadelphia affirmed both convictions and sentences for Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky for violating the civil rights of Luis Ramirez, 25, after a booze-fueled confrontation with a group of white high-school football players in the former mining town of Shenandoah.

Donchak, then 20, and Piekarsky, then 18, were found guilty of the federal charges by a federal jury sitting in Scranton in October 2010. Each was sentenced to nine years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 2:03 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 10:31 AM

The preliminary hearing for Stacey Newkirk Smalls -- the 41-year-old Tacony woman charged with murdering her infant twins and poisoning her 4-year-old daughter in a reported rage over her husband’s affair -- has been postponed to Sept. 11.

At a hearing Wednesday before Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Dawn A. Segal, Smalls’ family said it was trying to come up with money to hire a defense attorney but were not sure it was possible. Segal agreed to postpone the hearing but warned Smalls’ family they had to be ready for the hearing on Sept. 11 with their own lawyer or lawyers from the Philadelphia public defender’s office.

Smalls, a nurse who worked at a nursing home, was arrested May 24 after her husband, Ron Smalls, came home to their Ditman Street house to find the 18-month old twins dead, the older daughter unconscious and his wife bleeding from the wrists after an apparent suicide attempt.

JOSEPH SLOBODZIAN @ 10:31 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Inquirer reporter Joe Slobodzian covers the courts and writes about the people who find themselves there and what they face.

You can reach Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or jslobodzian@phillynews.com. Reach Joseph A. at jslobodzian@phillynews.com.

Joseph A. Slobodzian
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