A 51-year-old Florida man, who plead guilty in a murder-for-hire case, planned to pin the murders on the Black Lives Matter movement.
What We Know:
- Daniel Slater was arrested last year for hiring an associate of his to murder his ex-girlfriend, Brianna Kane, 22, her sister, and her brother-in-law. He blamed the couple for ruining his relationship with his ex. Slater was charged with “murder for hire, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and conspiracy to possess.”
- Slater would meet with the associate to go over details on how to execute the murders. In a recorded message, Slater is heard stating, “throw acid on her face” and “beat the (expletive) out of her, knock her teeth out, and break her (expletive) nose.” He would offer money and drugs to the associate if they carried out his gruesome plan.
- In February 2020, Brianne Slabaugh was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, and informed officers that Slater was training her to be an assassin. She told them that he wanted her to not only kill Kane but kidnap several individuals associated with her. Slabaugh would conduct surveillance of Kane and her boyfriend and explained to officers that Slater wanted her to befriend the boyfriend before killing him. 18 days after her arrest, Slabaugh’s body was found in the Everglades National Park in Miami, and her death was ruled a heroin and cocaine overdose.
- The FBI used Slabaugh’s death to connect with an associate of Slater and used them, along with an undercover agent as a hitman, to retrieve information about Slater’s murder-for-hire plan. The associate would wear a wire and record conversations with Slater going over the various murders. At one point, Slater drove the associate by Kane’s sister’s house and explained the time frames the sister and husband would be sitting near the windows so that the hitman could time the shootings correctly. On June 12th, the associate used a photo created by the FBI to show Slater that the murders had been completed, and he paid them $400, even though he originally offered a higher amount.
- Slater’s murder plans were happening during a time when the US was experiencing civic unrest and racial tensions. The murder of George Floyd happened in May 2020, and various states and other countries were protesting against police brutality and racial injustices. Because the protests were going on, Slater told his associate to make the killings look as if members of the Black Lives Matter movement conducted the kills. He told them to spray paint the walls with “Black Lives Matter” so officials would investigate the group and overlook him as a suspect.
- BLM protests would usually start peaceful but would end with tear gas, rubber bullets, and arrest. Many of the protests would turn violent, with “white supremacists” and members of other racist groups starting riots by damaging buildings, cars and setting dumpsters on fire. These acts would confuse officers and news outlets, who would then attack BLM protestors who weren’t involved and blame them for the violence that was erupting around the country.
Slater could have faced up to 90 years in prison but changed his plea to guilty to receive a maximum of 10. He is set to appear in court on September 16th.
Prosecutors Say R. Kelly Abused 17-Year-Old Boy
Prosecutors say that former R&B singer R.Kelly abused a 17-year-old boy in 2006 after meeting him at a Chicago McDonald’s.
What We Know:
- Lawyers claim that the singer, whose real name is Robert Kelly, initially offered to help the boy with his music career and invited him to his studio. After Kelly questioned the boy on what he would do to make it in the industry, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with the minor.
- The young boy also introduced his 16 or 17-year-old male friend to Kelly; the singer eventually began a relationship with this other boy. Prosecutors allege that Kelly filmed the two minors engaging in sexual acts with others, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, including an under-aged female.
- In addition, when Kelly faced child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the first boy told him he knew one of the jurors. Kelly proceeded to ask the boy to contact the juror and vouch that Kelly was a “good guy.” However, the prosecutors’ filings do not specify if the youth did so.
- Attorneys want judges to consider hearing this evidence during Kelly’s upcoming August trial. They believe this information will show that Kelly’s actions “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern.”
- The Grammy Award winner has faced scrutiny for his sexual behavior for a while. Currently, he faces charges for recruiting women and girls for sex and pornography and exercising control over them. These include child sexual exploitation, making indecent images of minors, racketeering, and obstruction of justice. According to lawyers, Kelly managed a “criminal enterprise” alongside managers, bodyguards, and other employees. These charges involve six different victims. In addition to the aforementioned sufferers, prosecutors want jurors to hear the stories of more than one dozen others who experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of Kelly.
Because of the accusations, Kelly has been in jail for two years while awaiting his day in court.
Gender Reveal Party Couple Face Jail Time over Deadly California Wildfire
A California couple whose gender reveal party allegedly started a deadly wildfire faces involuntary manslaughter charges and a lengthy stint in jail.
What We Know:
- Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr and Angela Renee Jimenez set off a smoke bomb during their gender reveal party back in September 2020 in Yucaipa, California. The “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” supposedly sparked the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County. Survallience footage showed the family light the smoke bomb at the edge of the El Dorado Ranch Park and was seen trying to put flames out. The wildfire burned over 22,000 acres, destroyed multiple homes and properties, and lasted more than two months.
- While trying to put out the fire, firefighter Charles Morton was killed, and many others were injured. Morton, 39, had worked as a firefighter for 18 years, 14 of them with the US Forest Service. US Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen stated that Morton was a “well-respected leader” and was always there for his crew.
- Refugio and Angela have been charged with 30 crimes: three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, 22 misdemeanor counts, and one felony count of involuntary manslaughter. On Tuesday, the couple pleaded not guilty.
- During a news conference, Jason Anderson, San Bernardino County District Attorney, said that a grand jury heard 34 witnesses and saw 434 exhibits. He mentioned that the fire affected the community tremendously and that at least six different agencies “were involved in containing, extinguishing, and investigating” the wildfire.
“You’re obviously dealing with lost lives, you’re dealing with injured lives, and you’re dealing with people’s residences that were burned and their land that was burned. That encompasses a lot of, not only emotion, but damage, both financially and psychologically,” said Anderson
- Gender reveal parties are where couples find out the gender of their baby. They could cut into a cake and see if the inside is blue for a boy or pink for a girl, pop a big balloon to see the color of the confetti, or even do a song that reveals the gender at the end. Over the years, gender reveals have gotten more elaborate and dangerous.
- In February, a father-to-be died after the gender reveal device he was building exploded on him, and in 2017 a gender reveal party sparked a wildfire in Arizona, burning close to 47,000 acres. The expected father in that incident pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, was sentenced to five years of probation, and had to pay nearly $8.2 million in fines.
Refugio and Angela were released on their own recognizance and are set to return to court on September 15th. If found guilty, they could face up to 20 years in jail.
First Felony Sentence for January Insurrection Handed to Florida Man
What We Know:
- Paul Hodgkins, 38, pleaded guilty to a single count of obstructing an official proceeding last month. The crane operator, along with others, breached the US Capitol at the alledged request of former President Donald Trump. The former Commander in Chief held a rally where he said dangerous rhetoric about the election being rigged. He told his supporters to go to the Capitol, where they were counting electoral votes, and urge senators to overturn the presidential election results.
- Hodgkins was seen walking onto the Senate floor holding a red “Trump 2020” flag and wearing a Trump shirt. He went to Washington initially for the rally that was held near the White House. He stated that he had no idea that day would end with him storming the capitol and that he was caught up in “the passion of the day.”
- The US Justice Department considered the events of Jan. 6th as “acts of domestic terrorism.” They encouraged the judge to treat Hodgkins on the same level as those who are deemed domestic terrorists. Since Hodgkins took a plea deal, the government agency asked District Judge Randolph Moss to sentence him to 1.5 years in prison. Prosecutor Mona Sedky claimed that giving Hodgkins harsh sentencing would stop future people who planned on recreating the events of that day.
- In court on Monday, Hodgkins spoke for about 10 minutes on how “remorseful” he was and that he “regretted” his actions on that day. He believes that the riots caused great harm to the “country that he loves,” and he takes full responsibility for his part in it.
- Although Moss considered Hodgkins’ actions “utterly unacceptable,” he didn’t believe him a threat and stated how he didn’t have any previous criminal history. Moss sentenced Hodgkins to eight months in prison, two years on probation, and ordered him to pay $2,000 in damage fees.
“Hodgkins did some very bad things that day and caused some real damage to this country, but I don’t consider him to be a threat or see him as an evil person. This is a very bad episode in his life and a very bad episode in this country … some sentences will be far higher, and some will be far lower. This is what I believe is a fair sentence,” said Moss.
- Over 530 people have been charged since Jan. 6th, with the help of social media and surveillance cameras. Of that number, “165 accused of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers,” and over 50 charged with “using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.” According to CNN, 20 people have already pled guilty and are awaiting their sentencing, while two charged with misdemeanors have already been sentenced: one to six months and one to three years probation.
Many charged rioters are pushing the idea of going to trial as they believe they did nothing wrong. Hodgkins walked out of court happy with the results and will be allowed to self-surrender once he is informed of where he will carry out his 8-month sentence.
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