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Abu Khattala Meets His Trial Judge

Abu Khattala

“From here on out you are stuck with me,” US District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper told Ahmed Abu Khattala. The Benghazi suspect has previously twice appeared in court but this was his first time before the trial judge  At the conclusion of the very brief status hearing – which didn’t reveal much beyond that the judge’s wife used to work for the DOJ – Judge Cooper set the next hearing date in September. It’s likely we’ll see Khattala before then as a grand jury is expected to bring additional charges.

You may wonder how I got in so much detail of the courtroom in the short time, maybe 15 minutes that the hearing lasted. Most of it, on the left side, was sketched during an hour-long hearing in a civil case that preceded Khattala’s. I did the background, the court  reporter and the judge, leaving only the lawyers and defendant to do once the actual hearing got under way. Some have been critical of this approach, saying the drawing should be done entirely as the events unfold. I don’t agree. I’m telling a nonfiction story about what I have witnessed, and I need to use certain tools to edit, compress, and highlight so that my story/drawing is readable. I even went further and pulled Khattala from the background to the foreground. Is that wrong?

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Benghazi Suspect Back In Court

Ahmed Abu Khattala, suspect in the attack on the american embassy in Benghazi, was back in a Washington courtroom for a detention hearing. I failed to notice it last time but Khattala appears to have a zebibah, or prayer bump, on his forehead. Zacarias Moussaoui developed one about halfway through his trial; I wonder if he still has it, and if it’s any larger after eight years in solitary.

There was some trouble setting up the audio for the translator so we had a little more time to observe Khattala as they tried to get his earphones working.

As expected the government asked that Khatalla be held without bail, and his lawyer, Federal Public Defender Michelle Peterson said Mr. Khattala had no objection for now.

Khattala will be back in court next Tuesday.

 

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Benghazi Terror Suspect Appears in US Court

“He looks like Moses” said the US marshal as he looked at the sketch I was working on. He did indeed look pretty wild as he was escorted into a DC courtroom looking perplexed. Two weeks ago he was seized on the Libyan coast and brought here aboard a U.S. warship.

“I never knew Santa Claus was a terrorist”, someone tweeted in response to my Twitter post of the above sketch.

Khattala will be back in court on Wednesday for a detention hearing. I wonder if the flak-vested heavily armed US marshals will again be out in full force around the courthouse?

 

 

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The McDonnell’s Day In Court

Former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen bowed their heads in prayer before entering the first of two courtrooms in U.S. District Court, Richmond.

Their first appearance was before Magistrate Judge David J. Novak, who ordered the couple to surrender their passports but set no bail.

The crowd then moved to a larger courtroom on the seventh floor where McDonnell and his wife were separately arraigned before Judge James R. Spencer.

WaPo story here.

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Chubby Jihad Jane

Colleen LaRose, aka Jihad Jane, appeared in a Philadelphia courtroom this morning to be sentenced for her part in a plot to murder Dutch artist Lars Vilks for his cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad as a dog. She appears to have put on a few pounds during her four years of incarceration; she was considerably slighter when she plead guilty back in March 2010.

LaRose, who became involved with the muslim community over the internet and later converted to Islam apologized to Chief Judge Petrese B. Tucker.She told the judge, “I was in a trance and I couldn’t see anything else,” she said. “I don’t want to be in jihad no more.”

Reuters story here.

 

 

 

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” What A Maroon ! “

Hip-Hop tweeting Tea-Party Republican congressman Trey Radel (third from right) pleaded guilty to cocaine possession in DC Superior Court this morning and was given a suspended sentence and one year probation. He is on the record, having voted in the House, in support of drug testing food stamp recipients.

You can read about it here.

 

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Life, Plus Life, Plus Five Years

“The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes, are almost unfathomable,” Judge Denise Casper told Whitey Bulger before passing sentence. “The testimony of human suffering that you and your associates inflicted on others was at times agonizing to hear and painful to watch,” she said as the families of his victims sat on the right side of the courtroom.She then ordered Bulger, who throughout the two-day sentencing has sat facing forward making no eye contact with the public seated behind him, to stand for sentencing. “You are hereby committed to the Bureau of Prisons for the term of life,” said the judge.And this is probably the last we’ll see of Whitey Bulger.

Boston Globe story here.

 

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Victims Speak at Bulger Sentencing

At the beginning of the two day sentencing for Boston mobster Whitey Bulger the government asked for life, plus life for machine guns, plus five years for other guns. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly said, “he is going to spend the rest of his miserable life in jail.”Then it was time for the relatives of Bulger’s victims to speak up.

Sean McGonagle, “My father was no Boy Scout, but he was a better man than you’ll ever be.

Whitey Bulger sentencingTom Angeli, “We feel robbed every day”.

Whitey Bulger sentencing

Marie Mahoney, “We got you, you rat.”

Whitey Bulger sentencingBulger was not convicted in the murder of Bill O’Brien’s father four days before the birth of the junior O’Brien. “I really got nothing out of this trial. I got more questions than answers.”

Whitey Bulger sentencing

Patricia Donahue said that Whitey killed her husband “while a corrupt FBI agent watched.”

Whitey Bulger sentencing

Meredith Rakes, “The healing can begin. The nightmare is over, the pain stops here.”

 

Whitey Bulger sentencing

Tim Connors, “Your legacy is already cemented as a rat.”

Whitey Bulger sentencing

Pat Callahan, “You won’t even turn around and look at us?”

Whitey Bulger sentencingKathleen Nichols, “I believe he is evil.”

Whitey Bulger sentencingTheresa Bond, “Mr. Bulger, can you look at me?” ( Whitey Bulger kept his head down throughout ) “I can’t judge you.”

Whitey Bulger sentencingSteve Davis, “You piece of shit, look at me”

Whitey Bulger sentencingDavid Wheeler, “Shame on you Mr. Bulger, for all your notoriety you are a punk.” Referring to his father’s murder, Wheeler  said that the FBI was “as responsible  . . . as the defendant here sitting before you.”

Sentencing proper will take place tomorrow.

NYT story here.

 

 

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Tsarnaev Hearing On Motions

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was not in the courtroom today as his defense team, pictured above, argued before Judge George A. O’Toole, Jr. on a motion lift the “Special Administrative Measures”, or SAMS, that interfere with this defendant communicating with his lawyers. Other issues discussed today concerned change of venue and whether the death penalty will be sought for the accused Boston marathon bomber. The government asked to set a trial date sometime next fall, but the judge opted to wait until those other issues are decided.

Andrew Cohen’s story on SAMs is here.

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Tsarnaev’s Pals Arraigned

 The two friends of Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who removed a backpack and laptop from his dorm room after seeing his picture broadcast were arraigned in federal court Tuesday.Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov are charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct. The entire proceedings took about five minutes, but fortunately there was time to get some sketches started before the defendants entered the courtroom. Tazhayakov’s family were seated in the front row with a toddler in tow who was exploring the strange surroundings. To calm the child down her mother began nursing. It was touching.

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