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Charles Manson, leader of murderous ’60s cult, dead at 83


November 20,2017

Charles Manson, the wild-eyed 1960s cult leader whose followers committed heinous murders that terrorized Los Angeles and shocked the nation, died Sunday of natural causes, according to the California Department of Corrections. He was 83.

Manson served nine life terms in California prisons and was denied parole 12 times. His notoriety, boosted by popular books and films, made him a cult figure to those fascinated by his dark apocalyptic visions.
“He was the dictatorial ruler of the (Manson) family, the king, the Maharaja. And the members of the family were slavishly obedient to him,” former prosecutor Victor Bugliosi told CNN in 2015.
To the point they would kill for him.
The brutal killings began on August 9, 1969, at the home of actress Sharon Tate and her husband, famed movie director Roman Polanski. He was out of the country at the time. The first set of victims were Tate, who was eight months’ pregnant; a celebrity hairstylist named Jay Sebring; coffee fortune heiress Abigail Folger; writer Wojciech Frykowski; and Steven Parent, a friend of the family’s caretaker.
The next evening, another set of murders took place. Supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, were killed at their home.
Although Manson ordered the killings, he didn’t participate.
Over the course of two nights, the killers took the lives of seven people, inflicting 169 stab wounds and seven .22-caliber gunshot wounds. Both crime scenes revealed horrifying details. And a few details linked the two crime scenes.
The word pig was written in victim blood on the walls of one home and the front door of another. There was also another phrase apparently scrawled in blood: Helter Skelter (it was misspelled Healter). The reason for the disturbing writings, the prosecutor argued, was because Manson wanted to start a race war and had hoped the Black Panthers would be blamed for the killings.
On June 16, 1970, Manson and three of his followers — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — went on trial in Los Angeles.
All of those details came tumbling out in the trial that both mesmerized and horrified the nation. During the trial, Manson and his followers created a circus-like atmosphere in the court with singing, giggling, angry outbursts and even carving X’s in their foreheads.
The charges came after a major break in the case when Atkins, who was already in jail on another charge, bragged to a fellow inmate about the Tate murders. She said they did it “because we wanted to do a crime that would shock the world. …”
Manson was originally sentenced to death but the death penalty was briefly abolished in the state and his concurrent sentences were commuted to life in prison.
He also was convicted in the connection with the killings of Gary Hinman, a musician, and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea in 1969.
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TEXAS – Prosecutor asks for current medical standards in death penalty evaluations


When determining whether someone with a death sentence has a mental disability, Texas has long used outdated standards partially created by elected judges. Now that those standards have been ruled unconstitutional, one district attorney wants the state to use a markedly different measuring stick: current medical science.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg sent a brief to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Wednesday afternoon in the case of Bobby Moore, a man convicted in the 1980 shooting death of a Houston supermarket clerk. Ogg now says Moore is intellectually disabled, but the questions surrounding the prisoner’s mental capacity led to a March Supreme Court ruling that invalidated Texas’ method of determining intellectual disability for death row inmates.Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the court’s opinion that the state’s test created an “unacceptable risk” of executing intellectually disabled people, a practice deemed unconstitutional.

But while the ruling tossed out Texas’ old way of determining disability, it didn’t create a new one. Instead, cases of death-sentenced inmates who were deemed competent for execution under the old test were suddenly ripe for new litigation, and at least two men who had been on death row for decades had their sentences changed to life in prison — all while awaiting a final ruling on Moore’s intellectual capacity.

Ogg asked for Moore’s sentence to be reduced to life in prison, and her brief also asked Texas to create a new way of determining intellectual disability — one that sticks to the medical books.

“‘Unacceptable risk’ necessitates that the States should strictly adhere to the definitions of intellectual disability as contained within the most current versions of the clinical manuals,” said the brief.

She implored Texas to conform to the standards set by the American Psychiatric Association, similar to how Louisiana and Mississippi determine intellectual disability. If the Texas court accepts Ogg’s suggestion, death penalty experts say it will put Texas in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling and will put fewer Texas death penalty cases in front of the high court in the future.

“You don’t have the same systemic problems in states that are using medical definitions,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a national organization critical of current death penalty practices. “We see persistent problems in states [that] have adopted standards that are clearly inconsistent with the contemporary medical standards or have created procedures that make it virtually impossible to prove intellectual disability.”

Dunham said in general that states have sought to conform to previous Supreme Court rulings, but others — Texas, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas and Florida — have created hurdles for proving the disability. He said the best way for Texas to avoid future problems is to use existing medical standards.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office, which represents the state in federal death penalty appeals, and several district attorneys in counties where intellectual disability cases are in play did not return phone calls Thursday.

In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that executing people with intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, but it left it up to the states to determine how to qualify the condition. The legal definition of intellectual disability doesn’t have to fully match a medical definition, but it does have to be informed by the current medical frameworks, according to the court.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals created its own method two years later. Death penalty critic Judge Elsa Alcala wrote in a 2015 opinion that the test was only meant to be a temporary solution “in the absence of any legislative guidance.” The method found inmates facing execution intellectually disabled if their IQ was 70 or below. If an IQ was above 70 but close enough to be within a margin of error (the state put Moore at 74), the court would look at how well the person functioned in daily life by referencing 1992 medical guidelines and a controversial set of questions called the “Briseno factors.”

The factors included questioning if a neighbor or family member would consider the person disabled, the person’s ability to lie and the planning involved in the murder. In its March ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court said the Briseno factors strayed too far from medical-based frameworks.

“The [Court of Criminal Appeals] overemphasized Moore’s perceived adaptive strengths — living on the streets, mowing lawns, and playing pool for money — when the medical community focuses the adaptive-functioning inquiry on adaptive deficits,” Ginsburg wrote.

Chief Justice John Roberts agreed with the incorrect usage of the Briseno factors but wrote in a dissenting opinion that the court’s majority tossed the Texas court’s ruling without considering societal standards.

“The Court instead crafts a constitutional holding based solely on what it deems to be medical consensus about intellectual disability,” Roberts wrote. “But clinicians, not judges, should determine clinical standards; and judges, not clinicians, should determine the content of the Eighth Amendment.”

It’s unknown when the Texas court will make a decision in Moore’s sentence or a new way to determine intellectual disability. In the meantime, the death penalty’s intersection with intellectual disability is up in the air.

Death penalty hearing for convicted killer delayed until 2018


OMAHA, Neb.  — The death penalty hearing for convicted serial killer Anthony Garcia has been delayed until early 2018. Garcia was convicted in the 2008 deaths of Thomas Hunter, the 11-year-old son of Creighton University Medical Center pathologist Dr. William Hunter and the family’s housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman, as well as the 2013 deaths of Creighton pathologist Dr. Roger Brumback and his wife Mary.

Garcia was set to face a three judge panel at the end of this month, but that hearing will be delayed until March of 2018. Garcia’s new attorneys asked for more time to prepare their issues for the three judge panel.

Garcia is now being represented by a kind of statewide public defender’s office from the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy after his Chicago lawyers wiped their hands of the case.

“We’ve come in late and we’re trying to catch up with all the mitigation stuff that needs to be done,” said Garcia’s attorney Todd Lancaster.

Garcia’s new attorneys filed six motions. They include motions to declare sections of Nebraska’s death penalty unconstitutional. The state objected to many of the exhibits coming from the defense.

“I didn’t think they were relevant. They were secondary nature some were newspaper articles some were dealing the politics of what they claim is the politics of the death penalty,” said Chief Deputy Douglas County Attorney Brenda Beadle. “We didn’t feel it appropriate.”

The judge decided to delay the hearing until next year and that didn’t sit well with family members of one of Garcia’s victims, Shirlee Sherman.

“This is ridiculous. It took 1,200 days from the time they arrested him to convict him and over a year trying to sentence him,” said Brad Waite, Shirlee’s brother. “It’s on and on and there again they want to delay again. It disrupts our lives – everybody in the whole family – because we don’t know what the next step is.”

The next step will be more hearings as the trial of Anthony Garcia continues. The judge set aside two days to hear Garcia’s attorneys for March 12th and 13th of next year.

No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution


November  18, 2017

The pathos and problems of America’s death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.

This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.

Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.

By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America’s death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.

The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailments, including lung cancer, COPD and respiratory failure. Campbell has had prostate cancer and a hip replacement. He needs daily oxygen treatments, uses a walker and is tethered to a colostomy bag.

Ohio officials were so aware of Campbell’s breathing problems that they provided a wedge-shaped pillow to raise his head, so he could breathe more easily as it set about to end his life.

Officials had been warned about the difficulty of finding a usable vein, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction had problems finding Campbell’s veins during a recent exam.

Nonetheless, the state went ahead with his execution.

On Wednesday, the execution team tried four different places in Campbell’s arms and right leg to insert the needle through which to administer lethal drugs. After 30 minutesit stopped the execution and returned Campbell to death row.

Stopping an execution before it is completed is quite unusual, even if serious problems occur during the procedure. Those serious problems are not rare: Approximately 3 percent of American executions were botched during the 20th century, and 7 percent of lethal injections have been botched since its first use in 1982.

But Campbell’s was one of the very few executions to be halted since the mid-1940s.

The first of those was Louisiana’s botched electrocution of Willie Francis, in which the current of electricity was not sufficient to kill him.

The second time an execution was stopped in mid-course occurred in Ohio during the 2009 effort to put Romell Broom to death. The execution team could not find a usable vein. After two hours of repeatedly poking and stabbing Broom’s arms and legs, they gave up.

In April 2014, when Oklahoma tried to execute Clayton Lockett, officials also had problems finding a usable vein. They finally inserted the needle into a vein in his groin. When the lethal drugs were administered, Lockett struggled violently: The needle had dislodged from the vein into a muscle. Ultimately the execution was stopped before Lockett was killed. Sometime later he died of a heart attack while still strapped to the gurney.

Lockett’s death was one of the more gruesome in America’s history of botched executions, but it spared the state an ethical and legal question that faced officials in the Francis and Broom cases, and now faces Ohio officials who failed to execute Campbell. What should be done with him?

Should the state, having failed in its first execution attempt, be able to try again? Are we well served when we force the condemned to undergo the psychological torture of having to prepare to die, only to have to relive the experience of execution a second time?

The courts bent over backward to permit a second execution in the Francis and Broom cases. In the former, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the state would only be barred from going through with a second execution if it had intentionally botched the first. Even if the state were careless or negligent in its first execution attempt, the court said, it could still proceed with another. The state of Louisiana went ahead and put Francis to death.

In March 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Broom to stop his second execution. The court reaffirmed the Francis precedent and added that since the lethal chemicals had not begun to flow when his execution was halted, his “punishment” had not really begun. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal that a second execution would constitute double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment. Broom awaits his execution date on Ohio’s death row.

The fine legalisms of the Francis and Broom decisions give the state too much room for error in the serious business of putting someone to death. If the state is going to kill, it should have the burden of getting it right the first time. The law should allow no second chances.

I say this not out of sympathy for those whose heinous acts bring them to the death chamber, but because how a society punishes reveals its true character. Punishment tells us who we are.

When we punish cruelly we create “a class of punishers whose lives are wasted and their characters depraved so that as citizens they become almost as undesirable as the criminals they torture.”

Those are the words of a playwright, George Bernard Shaw, and, as Ohio considers what to do with Campbell, it should heed his warning. Ohio failed to execute Alva Campbell, despite all the warning signs of the risk of failure because of his weakened physical state. Now, Ohio’s citizens and public officials should be careful, lest in their eagerness to try a second time, they “become almost as undesirable” as the murderer they seek to execute.

Man convicted of killing 6 in Texas gets death penalty


November  17,2017

A man was sentenced to death Wednesday for a rampage that left six people dead at a remote East Texas campsite.

A Brazos County jury deliberated about 45 minutes before deciding William Hudson, 35, of Tennessee Colony, should face execution. The same jury found him guilty last week on three counts of capital murder in the 2015 shooting and beating deaths of 77-year-old Carl Johnson, 40-year-old Hannah Johnson, 45-year-old Thomas Kamp, 23-year-old Nathan Kamp, 21-year-old Austin Kamp and 6-year-old Kade Johnson.

The verdict on a punishment comes exactly two years after Hudson’s arrest, which was on Nov. 15, 2015.

Evidence showed the victims were part of a blended family that gathered for a weekend together to camp on property in Tennessee Colony, about 90 miles (144 kilometers) southeast of Dallas. They had recently bought the land from Hudson’s family. Prosecutors said Hudson resented the sale.

Cynthia Johnson, the wife of Carl Johnson, was able to hide and survived the rampage.

The Eagle of Bryan-College Station reported that Cynthia Johnson testified that she heard Hudson fatally beat her husband and her daughter, Hannah, inside a recreational vehicle. She hid until dawn the next morning, retrieved a cellphone dropped by her daughter and called police.

Four victims were found in a pond.

Defense witnesses testified that Hudson suffered brain damage from multiple seizures, two car accidents and extreme alcohol abuse, and had been emotionally and sometimes physically abused by his father.

“William Hudson was created, he wasn’t born that way,” Stephen Evans, one of Hudson’s attorneys, said.

Prosecution experts said Hudson had a personality disorder and not a mental illness.

“This is just who he is,” special prosecutor Lisa Tanner said. “This is a man who is not gonna change. That ought to scare you.”

The case had been moved from Anderson County to Bryan, about 90 miles (144 kilometers) to the southwest to avoid potential jury bias.

ARIZONA – Cost of death penalty case keeps climbing


November  17,2017

The cost of a Bullhead City murder suspect’s death penalty case could exceed more than $1 million by the time it goes to trial.

Justin James Rector, 29, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, child abuse and abandonment of a dead body for the Sept. 2, 2014, death of 8-year-old Isabella Grogan-Cannella.

The total cost for Rector’s defense including the 2017-18 fiscal year is now $582,579. That dates to the 2014-15 fiscal year. The cost includes $409,822 for all of Rector’s defense attorneys and $172,007 for investigative services for the last four fiscal years, indigent defense services director Blake Schritter said.

So far, this current fiscal year, his attorney fees are $31,056 and the investigative services are  $20,415. During the 2016-17 fiscal year, his attorney bill was $199,290 and the investigative services cost $129,777. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, attorney fees were $121,725 and the investigative services were $13,578, Schritter added.

Rector’s next hearing before Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen is scheduled for today. Vacated several times, Rector’s trial has not been scheduled and the length of the trial is not known but could last a month or longer.

Quinn Jolly made his first appearance as first chair on Rector’s death penalty murder case in September. Julia Cassels, who was assigned to the case in July 2016, is the second counsel in the murder case. Two death penalty qualified attorneys are required in a capital murder case.

Rector’s previous attorney took the case in March 2015 but withdrew in July. The public defender’s office withdrew from the case in March 2015.

PHOENIX – John Allen gets death penalty in murder of 10-year-old girl


November 16,2017

Jurors in Maricopa County Superior Court deliberated for only a few hours before deciding that John Allen should get the death penalty.

The jury previously determined that Ame Deal’s death was especially cruel or heinous.

Allen, 29, was convicted of first-degree murder and child abuse on Nov. 8.

His 28-year-old wife, Sammantha Allen, was a cousin of Deal’s and was convicted of murder in the girl’s death in June. She’s now the third woman on Arizona’s death row.

Prosecutors said the couple forced Ame into the small, plastic box as punishment for stealing ice pops. They went to sleep and the girl was found dead the next morning.

Defense attorney Robert Reinhardt had argued that John Allen, a father of four young children, did not intend for the girl to die and that the other adults in the home created the abusive environment.

But County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Thursday that the Allens “received the only proportionate penalty that could rightly be imposed for the torture and pain they put Ame through. Ame deserved so much more from the adults responsible for her care.”

Ame’s death was the culmination of a shocking history of abuse at the hands of relatives who were charged with caring for her.

Authorities said the girl was forced to eat dog feces, crush aluminum cans barefoot, consume hot sauce and get in the storage box on other occasions.

She also was kicked in the face, beaten with a wooden paddle and forcibly dunked after being thrown in a cold swimming pool, according to police investigators.

Adults at the home originally claimed Ame hid during a late-night game of hide-and-seek and wasn’t found until hours later.

Three other relatives are in prison serving sentences for abusing Ame.

David Deal, who is listed as the girl’s father on her birth certificate, is serving a 14-year sentence after pleading guilty to attempted child abuse.

Ame’s legal guardian at the time of her death was her aunt, Cynthia Stoltzmann, who is serving a 24-year prison sentence for a child abuse conviction. Ame’s grandmother, Judith Deal, is serving 10 years for child abuse.

Authorities said Ame’s mother left the family years earlier after suffering abuse from relatives and moved to Kansas without her daughter.

Ohio Halts Execution of Physically Debilitated Prisoner After It Cannot Find Vein for Intravenous Line


November  15

Having failed to find a suitable vein in which to set an intravenous execution line, Ohio called off the scheduled November 15 execution of gravely ill and physically debilitated death-row prisoner, Alva Campbell . After execution personnel failed in four attempts to find a vein for the IV line, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary Mohr stopped the execution and Governor John Kasich granted Campbell a temporary reprieve. Kasich rescheduled Campbell’s execution for June 5, 2019. The execution was delayed for nearly an hour as executioners assessed Campbell’s veins, and then witnesses watched for another half hour as prison personnel used an ultraviolet light to probe Campbell’s arm for a vein, sticking him twice in the right arm, once in the left arm, and once in the left leg. Columbus Dispatch reporter Marty Schladen, a media witness to the execution, reported that, when he was stuck in the leg, “Campbell threw his head back and appeared to cry out in pain.” Campbell’s lead lawyer, assistant federal public defender David Stebbins said, “We had warned them for months that they were going to have this problem.” In court documents seeking to stay his execution, Campbell’s lawyers unsuccessfully argued that a combination of severe medical ailments and physical disabilities made it inappropriate for him to be executed. These afflictions include lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory failure, prostate cancer, and severe pneumonia, and Campbell relies on a colostomy bag that hangs outside his body, needs oxygen treatments four times a day, and requires a walker for even limited mobility. Following the reprieve, Stebbins questioned whether the state would be able to successfully execute Campbell. “He’s 69 years old and has all kinds of illnesses and his veins are a mess,” he said. “They’re just not going to get any better.” “This type of state-sponsored torture is not acceptable,” said ACLU of Ohio senior policy director Mike Brickner. “This marks the fifth botched execution for Ohio in recent years, and the second time the state could not complete an execution. This is not justice,” he said, “and this is not humane.” In the past eleven years, Ohio has also botched the executions of Joseph L. ClarkChristopher Newton, Romell Broom, and Dennis McGuire. In a video posted on the website of the Columbus Dispatch, reporter Marty Schladen, who was scheduled to witness the execution, said “I don’t think anything that happened today would make anybody sanguine about the death penalty in Ohio right now.”

Executions Scheduled for 2018


Executions Scheduled for 2018


Month State Prisoner
January
3 OH John Stumpf — RESCHEDULED
3 OH William Montgomery — RESCHEDULED
18 TX Anthony Shore
30 TX William Rayford
February
1 TX John Battaglia
13 OH Warren K. Henness — RESCHEDULED
13 OH Robert Van Hook — RESCHEDULED
13 OH Raymond Tibbetts
22 TX Thomas Whitaker
March
14 OH Douglas Coley — RESCHEDULED
14 OH Warren K. Henness — RESCHEDULED
27 TX Rosendo Rodriguez
April
11 OH Melvin Bonnell — RESCHEDULED
11 OH William Montgomery
May
30 OH Stanley Fitzpatrick — RESCHEDULED
June
27 OH Angelo Fears — RESCHEDULED
July
18 OH Robert Van Hook
August
1 OH David A. Sneed — RESCHEDULED
September
13 OH Cleveland R. Jackson
October
10 OH James Derrick O’Neal — RESCHEDULED
November
14 OH John David Stumpf — RESCHEDULED

Prosecutors Say Shannon Miles Shot Texas Deputy 15 Times


August 31, 2015 (nyt)

HOUSTON — The man charged with killing a sheriff’s deputy at a suburban gas station Friday emptied his 15-round handgun into the back and the back of the head of the deputy, as witnesses watched in horror and surveillance cameras captured the shooting, prosecutors said Monday.

The man, Shannon Jaruay Miles, 30, walked into a courtroom crowded with sheriff’s deputies and police officers for his first court appearance here Monday morning. Mr. Miles said nothing as the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, described to a judge what the authorities have called an unprovoked attack. The deputy, Darren H. Goforth, 47, had pulled into a Chevron gas station about 8:30 p.m. Friday when Mr. Miles approached him from behind and opened fire, the authorities said.

After the hearing, Ms. Anderson said Mr. Miles was cooperating with investigators but said they were still trying to establish a motive, even though prosecutors do not have to prove one under Texas law. Law enforcement officials have said it appeared Deputy Goforth was targeted because he was wearing a uniform.

After a weekend of denouncing a “dangerous national rhetoric” aimed at the police, officials have been hesitant to comment further and to explain how it might have influenced Mr. Miles. The Harris County sheriff, Ron Hickman, said Saturday, referring to the “Black Lives Matter” slogan, “Well, cops’ lives matter, too.”

Asked Monday whether anti-police sentiment had anything to do with the case, Ms. Anderson replied: “I have no idea whether it does or not. But you know what — I want to accentuate the positive here.” She spoke of a Saturday vigil and a Sunday prayer walk that drew over 1,000 people to the gas station each day.

“This crime is not going to divide us,” Ms. Anderson said. “This crime is going to unite us. People of all races were out there. That’s what’s important here.”

Mr. Miles, who graduated in 2003 from a high school near the gas station, Cypress Falls, and played on the football team there, did not have to enter a plea at the probable-cause hearing. His arraignment was set for Oct. 5.

Anthony Osso, one of Mr. Miles’s court-appointed lawyers, said: “I just ask people to keep an open mind. It’s really easy to pass judgment and rush to judgment on it.”

In 2012, Mr. Miles was arrested in Austin on allegations of assaulting and seriously injuring a man at the Salvation Army shelter where he had been staying, the authorities said. He was accused of punching and kicking the man in a dispute over which television program to watch, and he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, officials said.

Mr. Miles was sent to a state mental hospital after an evaluation found him mentally incompetent to stand trial, said Joe Frederick, the Travis County assistant district attorney in the case. After a six-month stay, Mr. Miles was found competent to face prosecution, but the case was dismissed in 2013 when officials were unable to find the victim.

Ms. Anderson said investigators had found 15 .40-caliber Aguila shell casings near Deputy Goforth’s body. A witness said he had pulled up to the gas station with his children, and he heard gunshots, Ms. Anderson said. The witness saw a black man with a bald head standing over the deputy and shooting, and he saw the man flee in a red Ford truck with an extended cab.

The gas station’s surveillance camera video showed the truck had a trailer hitch on the back and a white cooler in the bed. A search for the vehicle led investigators to Mr. Miles’s home.

In Mr. Miles’s garage, investigators found a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, Aguila cartridges and a white cooler, Ms. Anderson said. Tests on the pistol showed it matched the gun that fired the shell casings left at the scene, she said.