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Jeffrey Dwight Carr, Michael Ray Tackett: Violent Recidivists Wandering the Streets

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While investigative reporters and their academic mouthpieces busily crochet their latest screeds against the notion of putting criminals in prison, here’s a quick sampling of people who should have been behind bars, but weren’t.  Of course, this isn’t a criminological study, because we’re going to actually mention the crimes these men committed, instead of just breathlessly envisioning the endless possibilities of their next “re-entry” into society.

It looks like the last re-entries were easy to a fault.

Jeffery Dwight Carr, Orlando Florida:

Police in Central Florida say a registered sex offender cut off his electronic ankle monitor, kidnapped a woman and tried to have her cash a $1,000 check. Jeffery Dwight Carr has been charged with robbery, false imprisonment and kidnapping.

Although his juvenile record is not available, Carr wasted no time racking up offenses the minute he turned 18: five auto theft convictions in two years.  How precocious of him.  He got a rolling slap on the wrist and just a few months behind bars, which is too bad, because if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been free to commit that sexual assault of a minor in 2002.

Of course, people don’t serve time for every crime they commit, so once they’re popped for something, it makes a certain kind of criminal sense to keep committing more crimes, because you won’t actually serve more time for them.  Unless the state has a recidivism law.  And bothers to enforce it.  Which Florida does.  And didn’t.  Oh well.  He’s behind bars now, and the victim was very lucky to escape with her life.

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Michael Ray Tackett, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

You’d think we’ve lost enough police officers recently.  None were injured hauling Tackett back into custody last week for the brutal, armed 2007 rape of a real estate agent, thank God.  But why was he out on bond awaiting a 2009 charge for the brutal, armed rape of another real estate agent, when he has a criminal record of multiple rape charges, and a neighbor reported that this was Tackett’s second armed standoff with the police?

Michael Ray Tackett

Tackett was previously acquitted twice for raping women who were prostitutes, in 2003 and 2005.  Both women admitted to selling sex to him on different occasions but went to police when he became violent, pulled weapons, and raped them.  You would think that type of history would be enough to keep him in jail awaiting trial after he committed his 2009 rape — of a real estate agent he stalked and attacked in an empty house she was showing.  Yet after that terrifyingly violent crime, and despite his extremely scary record, Tackett told the court that he had a back problem that couldn’t be addressed in prison, so he’d need to await trial at home.   The judge actually bought the back pain story and decided Tackett was a good candidate for pre-trial bond.  You know, like Ted Bundy:

Dec. 16, 2009: A West Pittsburg man accused of luring a real estate agent to an empty Jefferson Township house and raping her June 11 is free on bond.  Michael R. Tackett, 38, had his bond reduced Thursday from $200,000 to $100,000 by Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge John C. Reed after his defense attorney Thomas W. Leslie called the initial amount excessive.  Assistant Mercer County District Attorney Ryan Bonner said Tackett testified Thursday that he required medical attention due to back surgery, and that he couldn’t get it through the Mercer County Jail. . . “Obviously, we were disappointed and alarmed that he bonded out,” said state police trooper Dan Sindlinger.  He said Tackett is potentially dangerous and may have a pattern of targeting real estate agents, and warned them not to show homes alone.

In other words, the judge decided that rather than using stuff like prison guards and bars to keep an eye on Tackett, he would place the burden for watching out for him directly on the real estate agents he was known to be stalking.  After all, lots of real estate agents are part-time ninjas trained in taking down potential serial killers, right?

Tackett was charged with rape in 2003 and 2005 in Lawrence County and acquitted both times, according to published reports. . .  Authorities said Tackett met the woman during a real estate open house. About a week and half later she was showing him a house on Seidle Road when police say he pinned her down, told her he had a gun and raped her repeatedly.  Tackett threatened to kill the woman. He ordered her to answer questions about her family, recited her address, and threatened to kill her and her family if she reported the incident, police said.

And now, the parade of technicalities begins:

Tackett used a fake name when he contacted the woman but she found a photo on the state’s Megan’s Law sex offender registry that looked similar to the man she said raped her, police said.  A Neshannock Township policeman saw the picture, which was not Tackett’s. He realized it looked like Tackett, with whom he’d dealt before.  The policeman showed the woman Tackett’s picture, and she confirmed it was him.  Leslie is trying to have that identification, and any subsequent courtroom identifications of Tackett suppressed in the case. He said showing the picture outside a lineup was “unduly suggestive.” A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6 on that motion.  In a later state police lineup, the woman said she was “100 percent sure” it was Tackett who raped her, police said.  She also identified Tackett’s car, and was able to point it out from a block away while driving through West Pittsburg with her husband, police said.

The details from the 2007 rape are also chilling:

[Tackett] had been sought by police in the rape of a real estate agent on May 24, 2007. State police said the agent had agreed to meet with Tackett to show him a home along Huson Road in Woodcock Township, Crawford County.  According to documents filed earlier this year in the office of District Judge Lincoln Zilhaver of Saegertown, Crawford County, the agent showed the house to Tackett, who had given her the false name of Randy Thompson, for about four hours, starting around 10:30 a.m.  Toward the end of the showing, Tackett asked to see the basement. Once in the basement, police said Tackett used a stun gun on the woman and raped her.  The woman provided a detailed description of her attacker, including his height and weight, that he wore glasses, had a tattoo and shaved his pubic area.  She also identified Tackett in a photo lineup. During the investigation, police searched Tackett’s wife’s car, which the woman also described to police as the vehicle used by her attacker.  That vehicle search turned up items including a copy of Real Estate magazine and a stun gun.

This sounds like a case where insane pro-offender evidence rules, in addition to judicial and juror leniency, slowed down police in their efforts to contain a suspected serial rapist and, possibly, serial killer.  Let’s hope the body count isn’t too high.  But of course, the real problem is that we just put too many people in jail, man.

Tomorrow: more violent recidivists wandering the streets . . .

The Guilty Project. Death by Parole Board: Ankle Bracelet Didn’t Stop Ronald Robinson From Killing Officer Michael Crawshaw

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It’s too bad we don’t have CSI units slapping crime tape around our parole boards.  From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Ronald Robinson, 32, of Homewood, who is charged with the slayings of Officer [Michael] Crawshaw and another man Dec. 6, has a long criminal history and a record of repeatedly violating terms of his parole . . . From 1998 to 2003, Mr. Robinson was repeatedly accused of wielding firearms on the streets of Pittsburgh and surrounding communities. In a January 1998 criminal complaint, police said Mr. Robinson choked and punched a woman and then pointed a semi-automatic gun at her. In 2001, he was accused of shooting a man in the leg.  Two years later, according to court records, a pair of witnesses told police that Mr. Robinson fired a gun in the air at Hawkins Village in Rankin. In each case, many charges were withdrawn.

In other words, after each shooting, Robinson was permitted to plead down to lesser charges.  He apparently suffered no consequences for the 1998 semi-automatic attack.  He also apparently served less than two years for shooting a man in 2001, for he was out on the streets, firing a weapon, again by 2003.  He then repeatedly violated parole assigned for the 2001 and 2003 crimes.  How many times did Robinson violate parole and get caught?  The Post-Gazette doesn’t say, but they do note that, according to the Pennsylvania Board of  Probation and Parole, “Parolees are sanctioned an average of five times before being sent back to prison.”

Robinson was granted serial leniency.  Then he killed a police officer:

At the time of the Dec. 6 homicides, he was on parole following convictions in the 2001 and 2003 cases. He had been released from prison in 2007 after serving a minimum sentence; the maximum sentence would have kept him in jail until February of next year.  Mr. Robinson repeatedly was caught violating the conditions of his 2007 parole, according to court records. As punishment, he was jailed for two weeks in July and then released to a halfway house for felons. He was wearing an electronic monitoring device on his ankle at the time of the shootings.

Officer Crawshaw’s family has started a petition drive with a painfully obvious message: stop letting armed, recidivists plead to lesser charges, and we will need to bury fewer police officers.  Officer Crawshaw’s cousin, Sarah Kielar, has information about the family’s campaign on facebook, here:

On Sunday December 6, 2009, Penn Hills Police Officer Michael Crawshaw was shot and killed by Ronald Robinson, a career criminal who was on parole and wearing an electronic monitoring device at the time of this crime. We the family and friends of Officer Michael Crawshaw need your help. The system failed Michael and changes must be made.
During the past four years, 11 law enforcement officers have been shot and killed in Pennsylvania. In Allegheny County alone, in just 13 months, five law enforcement officers have been killed. In the most recent example of this senseless violence, Officer Michael Crawshaw was murdered by Ronald Robinson, who like the other offenders described below, exhibited a blatant disregard for human life, the police, and the rule of law. In Robinson’s case, he had multiple prior convictions and was serving a 2 ½ – 5 year sentence when the parole board reported that he was “misconduct free,” they had “a positive attitude toward this inmate” and had “no objection to parole.” Once released, Robinson repeatedly violated the conditions of his parole and was even jailed for 2 weeks due to these violations.
• Agent Sam Hicks: In November 2008 FBI Agent Sam Hicks was shot and killed while serving an arrest warrant on Robert Korbe. Although Robert Korbe did not pull the trigger, had he not been a career criminal, law enforcement officers would not have entered the house and Agent Hicks would not be dead. Korbe had three previous felony convictions but had been sentenced only to probation. He had been arrested on additional violent felony charges just 6 months prior to Agent Hicks’ death.
• Cpl. Joseph Pokorny: In December of 2005, Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Joseph Pokorny was shot and killed by Leslie Mollett during a traffic stop in Carnegie. Prior to this killing, Mollett had been arrested 8 times in 10 years, resulting in three felony convictions. Yet, he had received only a single 2-4 year prison sentence and had recently been paroled prior to murdering Cpl. Pokorny.
• Philadelphia Police Officers Charles Cassidy, John Pawloski, Sgt. Stephen Liczinski and Sgt. Patrick McDonald: During a 16 month period between November 2007 and February 2009 all four were shot and killed by violent repeat offenders with multiple felony convictions, one of whom was reportedly paroled just weeks prior to the killing.

How many times will this story repeat in 2010?