- - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Police officer charged with murder

SANTA ANA — A police officer has been charged with murder in the death of a mentally ill homeless man in Southern California who was beaten and repeatedly shocked with a stun gun during his arrest, a defense attorney said Wednesday.

Attorney John Barnett said his client, Fullerton police Officer Manuel Ramos, surrendered to authorities and was being charged with second-degree murder.

The Orange County district attorney’s office announced the charge in the death of Kelly Thomas, 37, after a violent confrontation July 5 with officers.

Six officers were placed on paid administrative leave after the incident, which occurred while police were investigating reported vehicle break-ins at a transit hub.

Mr. Thomas suffered severe head and neck injuries and was taken off life support five days later.

MICHIGAN

ATF: Car bomb behind blast that injured 3

MONROE — A car bomb caused a powerful explosion on a Michigan street that seriously injured a father and his two sons, who are “very fortunate” to have survived the attack, a federal official said Wednesday. The blast turned their vehicle into a blackened hunk of metal,

Investigators were poring over what remained of the vehicle after the Tuesday evening blast, looking for clues about how the bomb was made and who might have planted it, said Donald Dawkins, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Among the things investigators are trying to determine is whether one of the victims was targeted or the attack was random, Mr. Dawkins said. The vehicle exploded on a tree-lined street under a highway in Monroe, which is about 35 miles southwest of Detroit.

Authorities declined to publicly identify the victims, but said they were in serious condition at St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio.

MISSISSIPPI

Teen charged with capital murder, hate crime

JACKSON — A white Mississippi teenager has been indicted on capital murder and hate crime charges. Police say he intentionally ran over a middle-age black man with a pickup truck.

Deryl Dedmon, 19, was indicted Monday in the June 26 death of James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old car plant worker from Jackson.

Capital murder in Mississippi is defined as murder committed along with another felony. It carries the sentences of death or life in prison without parole. The underlying offense in this case is robbery. Mr. Dedmon also was charged under Mississippi’s hate crime law, which provides for enhanced sentences. This is the first announced indictment in the case.

Mr. Dedmon’s attorney, Lee Agnew, has suggested it was an accident.

Authorities say seven white teenagers were partying in Rankin County the night of Mr. Anderson’s death when Mr. Dedmon suggested they go find a black man to “mess with.”

TEXAS

White supremacist executed for Texas dragging death

HUNTSVILLE — White supremacist gang member Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed Wednesday evening for the infamous dragging death slaying of James Byrd Jr., a black man from east Texas.

Byrd, 49, was chained to the back of a pickup truck and pulled whiplike to his death along a bumpy asphalt road in one of the most grisly hate crime murders in recent Texas history.

Brewer, 44, was asked if he had any final words, to which he replied: “No. I have no final statement.”

He glanced at his parents watching through a nearby window, took several deep breaths and closed his eyes. A single tear hung on the edge of his right eye as he was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his arms, both covered with intricate black tattoos.

Byrd’s sisters also were among the witnesses in an adjacent room.

“Hopefully, today’s execution of Brewer can remind all of us that racial hatred and prejudice leads to terrible consequence for the victim, the victim’s family, for the perpetrator and for the perpetrator’s family,” said Clara Taylor, one of Byrd’s sisters.

From wire dispatches and staff reports