The same recurring themes of how criminals are able to get access to guns is part of the reason for posting it, so I hope that discussion will touch on this issue, this recurring theme.
From the STrib:
Anguished wait for justice ends
- Article by: JAMES WALSH , Star Tribune
- Updated: June 22, 2011 - 12:23 AM
Victims' relatives endured four years of waiting before two inmates were convicted of grisly triple homicide in St. Paul.
As each "guilty" verdict was read, it was as if four years of waiting, four years of anguish and four years of unanswered questions began to melt away.
"Yes!" a man said as U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen informed Tyvarus Lee Lindsey and Rashad Raleigh that they each had been found guilty of murder and possessing a firearm.
It took nearly two days of deliberations, but the federal jury's verdict "gives us some peace of mind. It means we can move forward with our lives," said Willie Hill, stepfather to Otahl Saunders, who was killed along with his girlfriend, Maria McLay, and McLay's 15-year-old daughter, Brittany Kekedakis, in their St. Paul home in the early hours of March 23, 2007.
Each was killed by a single gunshot to the head.
"We just know that the jury got it right," said Saunders' mother, Beth Hill.
That the case ever came to trial is a credit to the diligence of the victims' family, the St. Paul police, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office, Beth Hill said.
"They were as horrified [by the crimes] as we were," she said.
The triple killing rocked St. Paul's North End and stung investigators with its brazen nature.
It was just after 6:30 a.m. on that March morning when a group of masked men, all wearing black, kicked in the back door looking for drugs and money.
The men tortured Saunders, using tin snips, before shooting him. They lined up McLay, Kekedakis and McLay's two younger children and forced them to lie face down on the floor in another bedroom -- before Raleigh shot McLay and Kekedakis.
Suspects, but few witnessesDaneisha Thomas, who was 10 at the time of the murders, and her brother Jason, who was 7, escaped unharmed after the men left. Daneisha, now 14, described the terror of that morning on the first day of trial.
According to police, Lindsey and Raleigh quickly became prime suspects. But police said witnesses were reluctant to come forward, despite the fact that the men were locked up and that a reward had swelled to more than $22,000.
Two years after the killings, officials and family members pleaded with the public to end a "code of silence" in the killings.
Eventually, witnesses told investigators of Raleigh's and Lindsey's involvement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen said. Indictments against Lindsey and Raleigh were unsealed in January 2010.
"Perhaps the key to their downfall was the fact that they killed a child," he said after the verdicts were read. "That had an effect. Not only in the community, but among their fellow travelers in the underworld."
Both men faced federal murder charges because they committed the killings during a drug offense.
Lindsey and Raleigh are already in prison for other murders.
Raleigh pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the May 2007 beating death of former basketball player-turned-probation officer Howard Porter in return for a deal with state prosecutors that he would not be charged in the triple homicide.
That deal, apparently, did not preclude federal charges. Raleigh is serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole at the Oak Park Heights Prison.
Lindsey, too, is in Oak Park Heights. In December 2007, nine months after the North End killings, he was sentenced to 36 years in prison for the April 2005 killing of a man whose SUV Lindsey tried to steal.
Family prepares to move onOutside the courtroom Tuesday, investigators and family members were overjoyed. Chris Wilton, an assistant U.S. attorney who worked with Paulsen, said investigators refused to give up on catching killers who were intent on erasing or intimidating witnesses.
"This [killing] was done by professionals. This was done to make sure they didn't leave anything behind," Wilton said.
Now, both men face life sentences for each of the three counts of murder for which they were convicted.
Andrew Birrell, who represented Raleigh, declined to comment after the verdicts. Jon Hopeman, who represented Lindsey, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The defense attorneys had argued that Lindsey and Raleigh were not the killers and that no crime scene evidence linked them to the home on Burgess Street.
The only evidence, said Hopeman, was the testimony of criminals trying to shorten their prison time.
But Wilton said the jury was presented with the testimony of 35 witnesses and more than 100 exhibits during the two-week trial.
As they left the courthouse, family members said they planned to visit the cemetery where the victims are buried.
"It's been a long road," Willie Hill said. "Justice prevailed."