Sunday, February 23, 2020

Kay Hively: Better uses for the money

The 20/20 Super Bowl is over. Congratulations to the Chiefs.

Before the game, everywhere I went, everything I read, or everything I heard was about the event. Sports experts had the game covered from every angle, including such things as how often the official coin turned up “tails” to how long the half-time show would run.

But it was most astonishing me that so much money was spent to actually go to the game. I heard that some premium seats were selling for $50,000. I don’t know how many were priced at that level, but I cannot imagine anyone wanting to go that badly.

Even for “regular” prices, it was an expensive tab. If you had to travel, the cost of an airline ticket or the cost of driving and parking, or the cost of a hotel, if you had a spend the night, would have crushed many a wallet.








The basics of going to a game would be quite a bit, even if you didn’t eat and drink much, didn’t attend any of the parties, or make a bet of some kind.

I have no idea how much was spent nationwide on the game. However, I can think of many other ways to spend that much money and still enjoy the game on television.

It seems I am really getting old as I don’t like traffic, crowds, drunken fans, or loud music. I lost interest in the halftime show when they started keeping the marching band on the benches and got too many screwballs to sing the National Anthem.

There are some worthy causes right here in Southwest Missouri that could use a little of that money that is going for Super Bowl entertainment.

Many local historical societies could use some extra cash. Area museums need help, funds for scholarships are needed at the Carver National Monument, and there is always a need to provide Christmas dinners and gifts.

Civic groups such as Lions Clubs are always needing funds. This group provide eye exams and glasses for kids in need. All civic clubs in the area have good causes and need our help.

I could go on and on, naming animal shelters, school groups, scouting groups, and churches. Maybe if you feel you overspent a little too much for Super Bowl activities, you can scale back a little next year and help out our local groups and projects.

Just between you and me, that makes a lot of sense.

(Kay Hively is a historian, author, and former editor, reporter and columnist for the Neosho Daily News and Neosho Post.)

Nancy Hughes: Out of the mouth of ... a donkey

“The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey,
which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I
been in the habit of doing this to you?”
Numbers 22:30 (NIV)


A talking horse . . . who would have thought it! But “Mister Ed,” a popular television show when I was a little girl, used that concept to capture the hearts of thousands of children. The horse – Mister Ed – spoke only to his owner, Wilbur Post.

Throughout the series, there was no explanation offered for Mister Ed being able to speak to Wilbur.

In fact, in the very first episode, when Wilbur stated aloud that he was unable to understand how his horse could talk, Mister Ed offered this bit of wisdom: “Don’t try. It’s bigger than both of us.”










The Scripture in Numbers 22:30 also involves a conversation with an animal: a donkey. Let me explain. It seems that Balaam, at one time a man of God, was contacted by King Balak of Moab who asked him to curse Israel. The king was afraid of the Israelites because of their large numbers and because he saw what they had done to the Amorites when they came up against them.

The king’s plan was this: find a prophet who would get God to curse the Israelites so that he and his kingdom would be safe from harm. Enter Balaam. King Balak sent princes to Balaam to persuade him to curse the Israelites. Balaam asked them to wait overnight while he got an answer from God.

The next day he gave them God’s answer: “You must not put a curse on these people, because they are blessed.” (verse 12) They left, only to be replaced with other, more distinguished princes who returned with an offer of a substantial reward if he would carry out their request. And what did Balaam do? He went to God again, trying to persuade Him to change His mind.

One would suspect the offer of a reward was surely a big factor in Balaam’s decision. This time the Lord, though angry with Balaam, gave permission for him to go with the men back to King Balak but told him to only do what He, God, told him to do.

That’s where the talking donkey comes in.

As Balaam is riding along the road on his donkey, God placed an angel in his path. Balaam could not see it but the donkey could. Three times the donkey tried to turn from the path and each time Balaam beat her with his staff.

Finally the donkey turned to look at Balaam and spoke. “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?” The Lord then allowed Balaam to see the angel in front of him, sword in hand. Had he gone on, Balaam would have been killed. 
 
We have been given the Holy Spirit in our lives to direct our paths. But sometimes we want something so badly that we do not listen as He tells us to take a different path. We need to remember that there are times that God places roadblocks in the path that we are choosing. 

Perhaps, like Balaam, He is trying to protect us. Or it could be that the timing is not yet right for us to go in that direction.

My encouragement today is to listen to the gift of the Holy Spirit that we have been given as we face decisions in our lives. He will direct our pathways every single day.

Father, thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit to guide my decisions each day. Help me to open the ears of my heart to your will for my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

R.A.P. it up . . .

Reflect

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you ignored the “warning signs” of the Holy Spirit that perhaps your choice was not a wise one?

If you ignored the warnings and went ahead with your plans, what was the outcome? Everything you thought it would be or disappointment?

Apply

Journal decisions that need to be made in your life and the possible answers to those decisions.

During prayer time, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and guide you toward the answers that He has for you. Listen for His guidance through the Word.

Power

Numbers 22:30 (NIV) “The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

John 8:47 (NIV) “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Ezekiel 3:10 (NIV) “And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you.”

(For more of Nancy Hughes' writing, check out her blog, Encouragement from the War Room.)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Diamond man pleads not guilty to child pornography charge

During a three-minute hearing Friday morning in U. S. District Court in Springfield, Terry Miksell, 63, Diamond waived the reading of his indictment and pleaded not guilty to child pornography charges.

Miksell, who was already awaiting trial in the Greene County Jail, was indicted Wednesday. The two-count indictment replaces the earlier federal criminal complaint that was filed against Miksell January 28.

Miksell is charged with one count of producing child pornography and one count of using the internet and a cell phone to attempt to induce a minor to engage in sexual activity.

Sentencing memorandum: Joplin sex offender should receive 10 years on child pornography charges

In a sentencing memorandum filed Friday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, the government asked that previously convicted sex offender Richard Allen Miller, 55, Joplin, be sentenced to 10 years for receiving and distributing child pornography.

"The defendant sought out and deliberately downloaded depictions of children, some as young as infants, being raped, sodomized, and otherwise subjected to unthinkable acts of sexual and physical abuse," the memorandum reads.

The recommended sentence, 120 months, is only one month less than the maximum the government can recommend under federal sentencing guidelines.

The memorandum noted what the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force discovered during its investigation.







The defendant’s illicit activities were uncovered after uploading a large number of files depicting child pornography. One such file depicted a prepubescent female, wearing a mask, bound by both wrists and ankles. 

The child is forced to perform oral sex on an adult male and is later anally penetrated by a sexual device. 

Investigators were able to identify the defendant as the source of the imagery, resulting in the issuance of a warrant to search the defendant’s Dropbox account. 

The defendant was later questioned by investigators and readily confessed to ingesting methamphetamine and viewing depictions of child pornography. Disturbingly, the defendant also admitted to exchanging images with a minor female.

Jasper County Circuit Court records indicate that at the time of Miller's arrest, he was on probation after his four-year prison sentenced for being a sex offender loitering within 500 feet of a park, playground or pool was suspended.

Miller pleaded guilty in 1999 in Jasper County Circuit Court to sexual misconduct involving a 10irl-year-old girl.

His sentencing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Springfield.

Multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against City of Joplin, police officers for actions taken the morning Trevor Webb died

A multi-million dollar lawsuit alleging actions taken by Joplin police officers contributed to the February 22, 2015 death of Trevor Webb was filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The suit, which was filed by Trevor Webb's father, Scott E. Webb, representing his son's estate, was filed on the last day before the action would have been prohibited by the five-year statute of limitations.

Webb, 30, was stabbed at the Bykota Mobile Home Park and died later that day at Freeman West Hospital.

The man who stabbed him, Ryan Smith, Joplin, 21 at the time, was initially charged with murder in the first degree and armed criminal action, but under a plea agreement with the Newton County Prosecuting Attorney's office pleaded guilty to second degree murder and is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence.








The lawsuit, which was filed by Joplin attorney Steven A. Hays, claims Joplin police officers contributed to Webb's death when they pulled over the vehicle that was taking him to the hospital and caused a lengthy delay while Webb was bleeding from the multiple stab wounds that eventually took his life.

The four-count civil rights lawsuit alleges negligent supervision, failure to train and supervise, failure to attend to serious medical needs and failure to provide medical care while in custody.

Listed as defendants are the City of Joplin and police officers Keaton Burke, Trevor Duncan and "John Doe police officers whose identities are unknown at this time."

The petition details the events that led to Trevor Webb's death:

On February 22, 2015 in a community immediately east of Joplin, Missouri city limits Trevor S. Webb was stabbed in the in the upper mid chest and in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen by Ryan R. Smith. 

After the stabbing event Trevor S. Webb entered a vehicle driving by Christian Ritter and proceeded towards a Joplin, Missouri hospital. 

While driving to the hospital and in an anxious and excited state Christian Ritter called 911 reporting that his “friend” had been stabbed. While talking with the 911 operator Christian Ritter was confused as to where the hospital was located and requested assistance on what to do. 

During Christian Ritter’s conversation with the 911 operator, another 911 operator dispatched City of Joplin police officers to the assumed location of Christian Ritter’s vehicle stating there was a stabbing victim within the vehicle. 

After some dialog, the 911 operator informed Christian Ritter that he must pull his vehicle over and allow Joplin police officers to assist him. 

Following the direction of the 911 dispatcher and having observed police lights behind him, Christian Ritter pulled his vehicle over at or near the intersection of East 32nd Street and South Minnesota Avenue. 

Immediately thereafter at 08:06 a.m., Officer Keaton Burke, (hereinafter Officer Burke), came upon Christian Ritter’s vehicle and pulled behind it. Christian Ritter exited his vehicle and began walking back towards Officer Burke waving his arms. 










Officer Burke called for “Code 2” and drew his firearm from its holster and placed it into a low ready position. Officer Burke then gave verbal commands to Christian Ritter to sit down on the side walk. Christian Ritter complied. 

Officer Burke observed a baggie containing what appeared to be a green leafy substance fall out of the vehicle when Christian Ritter exited. 

Christian Ritter pleaded for Officer Burke to assist his friend “Tony” (Trevor S. Webb was known to Christian Ritter as Tony) because he had been stabbed multiple times. 

After securing Christian Ritter on the curb, Officer Burke proceeded to the vehicle Trevor S. Webb was in and observed a black male in the front passenger seat clearly in distress. 

Trevor S. Webb’s head was nearly to the driver’s seat angled towards the door and a large amount of blood was coming from his torso area. 

Only at that moment did Officer Burke request a METS ambulance to run lights and sirens to Officer Burke’s location. 

Sergeant Trevor Duncan, (hereinafter Sgt. Duncan), arrived on scene and announced the ambulance had arrived. 

After immediate assessment, Trevor S. Webb was placed into the ambulance and transported to Freeman Hospital arriving at 08:21 a.m. After initial emergency care, Trevor S. Webb had a return of circulation and was taken to the operating room by general surgeon Dr. Alan M. Buchele. 

While in the operating room, after additional emergency and surgical care, Trevor S. Webb was pronounced dead at 09:19 a.m.

West Plains Republican's bill designed to protect Missourians from sex offenders

(From Rep. David Evans, R-West Plains)

It will be another busy week in the Capitol.

On Tuesday, February 25, I’m scheduled to present HB 1289 on the House Floor for perfection, and House Bills 1519 and 1520 in the Judiciary Committee for hearing. Please note that you can always check it out and watch live House debate and hearings on the internet by going to the state House website.

I was asked by the Missouri Highway Patrol to file HB 1289, and it is one of their department priorities this year. The Missouri Highway Patrol is required by law to oversee the Sexual Offender’s Registry for the State of Missouri as well as the federal registry.








This bill both strengthens and clarifies the registry. I filed this bill late last year, and it passed the House with only 1 dissenting vote. However, it is a complicated bill and didn’t get through the Senate before the end of session. We are hoping that an early start this year will make the difference.

HB 1519 and HB 1520 are companion bills that I filed for the first time this year. You may have recently heard on the news that sheriffs and other law enforcement officers have been seriously concerned about the “catch and release” problem in Missouri. The complaint is simple—we must do a better job of protecting our communities. Specifically, offenders (especially repeat offenders) are being released from jail and prison without proper safeguards in place. Since the end of last session, this is something I’ve been receiving complaints about and have been working hard to help better protect our communities and victims.

If as some argue, the hands of local judges and probation and parole officers have been tied, these bills seek to untie those hands. These bills require judges and probation/parole officers to consider in each and every case any and all important safety (and danger) facts. If he or she is a repeat offender, it must be considered. If already on probation and a new crime is charged, then that must be considered. If there is violence involved, it must be considered in setting release terms. The bills assure that local judges, probation officers, and parole officers have the discretion to make common sense local bond and release decisions. Again, the two bills are set for hearing in House Judiciary Committee on February 25 starting usually at 4 pm. You are invited to watch on-line.

I’ll also mention a big change in how our criminal laws work in this state that becomes effective the end of this year. In 2018 (before my time in the House), a bill was passed and enacted that changed our juvenile and criminal procedures. Beginning January 1st of this coming year and for all criminal purposes, a juvenile or “child” is defined as a person under the age of “18” while under current law its under “17.” As an example today, if a 17 ½ year old commits a serious crime or offense, then that adult goes to adult criminal court as a defendant. On 1/1/21, if a 17 ½ year old commits a crime, then the juvenile goes to juvenile court as an alleged delinquent. The purpose of juvenile court is rehabilitation and treatment not punishment. Juveniles also have different rules that apply because of their age. A juvenile cannot be placed in an adult jail, and other placement options must be considered. Treatment options and additional supervision strategies must be considered and budgeted. There are also different questioning requirements of juveniles that apply to law enforcement officers.

I’ll be working with a group in the House over this session to help plan for everything that needs to change in both the juvenile and adult systems before the 2018 law goes into effect at the end of the year.

Bill White: Senate legislation protects homeless children







































Friday, February 21, 2020

Billy Long: The real cost of sanctuary cities

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

During his State of the Union address, President Trump not only celebrated our nation’s accomplishments but reminded us that there is work still left to be done, including addressing our immigration crisis. The president campaigned on building a wall to help curb illegal immigration.

Yet, Democrats have blocked his efforts at every turn, even going so far as to encourage people to come to this country illegally. 

I believe that we have a crisis at our southern border and ignoring it, as Democrats propose, will come at a considerable cost to the American people. It is time that we adopt policies that put American citizens first, and I intend to work with President Trump and my colleagues to reform our immigration system.








As you may know, sanctuary cities are municipalities that refuse to enforce federal immigration law by deliberately failing to communicate with federal agencies on the immigration status of individuals in their jurisdiction. 

Additionally, these cities refuse to aid federal law enforcement agencies in the apprehension of criminal aliens. These cities allow illegal immigrants to remain in their jurisdiction even if they are violent criminals, drug dealers, gang members or have been previously deported.

The only sanctuary these cities create is a sanctuary for violent criminals. That is why Attorney General Bill Barr recently announced a slew of sanctions against these left-wing local and state governments who unconstitutionally interfere with federal immigration enforcement. 

These sanctuary policies are generally about protecting criminals that law enforcement has already arrested for local crimes which pose a major threat to domestic security. The DOJ has filed a federal complaint against the state of New Jersey for forbidding state and local law enforcement from sharing vital information about criminal aliens with DHS and has filed another suit against King County, Washington for unlawfully prohibiting DHS from deporting illegal aliens from the U.S. through King County International Airport. 

While the Constitution does give states police power and doesn’t require states to implement or enforce federal immigration law, it clearly prohibits them from actively sabotaging federal immigration officials, which is exactly what these so-called “sanctuaries” are doing.

I am strongly opposed to cities and municipalities declaring themselves sanctuaries for those who would deliberately violate our laws. In an effort to end sanctuary cities, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of H.R. 516, the Ending Sanctuary Cities Act. 

This bill would make cities that violate our nation’s immigration laws ineligible for federal financial assistance. Last year, New York became the 13th state to give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses, while still prohibiting federal immigration officials from accessing Department of Motor Vehicle data. 

These actions may seem harmless until you take the time to consider the ramifications. In New York, Department of Motor Vehicle data was used to “arrest 149 child predators, identified and rescued 105 victims of exploitation and human trafficking, arrest 230 gang members, and seized 6,487 pounds of illegal narcotics, including fentanyl and opioids,” according to DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf. 

Unfortunately, we could see a significant reduction in these success stories as New York’s new green-light law threatens to terminate the federal-state cooperation necessary to make these arrests.

We are a nation of immigrants; however, those who wish to come to the United States should do so through the proper channels and respect our laws. We must address our antiquated immigration laws and improve security at our southern border; we must also pass laws that make it harder for states to undermine our national security. I will continue to work with my colleagues to pass laws that safeguard national security policies and put American citizens first.

Former Lamar priest pleads not guilty to felony sexual abuse, forcible sodomy, statutory sodomy charges

A retired priest whose last assignment was at St Mary's Catholic Church in Lamar waived his arraignment and pleaded not guilty in Stoddard County Circuit Court Thursday to felony charges of forcible sodomy, sexual abuse and two counts of statutory sodomy.

Frederick Lutz, 76, Springfield, is being held on a $125,000 cash only bond. A bond hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. February 25.

 The charges involve crimes that took place in 2000.

The probable cause statement alleges Lutz was drinking and watching gay pornography, tried to get a 17-year-old boy who was working in the St. Joseph Parish rectory in Advance, Missouri, to drink with him. After the boy refused, Lutz allegedly kept him from leaving and forced him into an oral sex act.







He let the boy leave after the boy promised to bring marijuana to him the next day.

From the Kansas City Star account:

The teen told his father, who notified a religious education teacher. Later, Lutz called the father to his office and apologized, telling him that he was drinking and just broke up with a boyfriend who lived with him at the rectory, according to court documents.
Court documents show investigators also learned of a 1972 incident in which Lutz allegedly attended an event with another man and a 17-year-old boy.

The next morning, the boy awakened to find Lutz masturbating him.

When the boy went to Mass on Sunday morning, Lutz handed him a Bible and told him “what happened never should have happened,” according to court documents. Then he wished the boy “good luck” in college.
In addition to Lamar, Lutz served as pastor in Greenfield, Mount Vernon, Pulaskifield and Cassville.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Sentencing memorandum: Former Joplin police officer asks for reduced sentence on child pornography charges

In a sentencing memorandum filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, former Joplin Police Department officer and business owner Gary McKinney asked to be sentenced to 15 years in prison for receiving and distributing child pornography.

In the memorandum, McKinney's attorney, Branden Twibell, Springfield, cites the death of McKinney's son, who was found frozen in a ditch in Oregon in 2017, post traumatic stress syndrome related to his being involved in a shooting in 2003 when he was a police officer and mental health issues as mitigating factors.

McKinney, 43, could be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison.

From the sentencing memorandum:








Gary McKinney has accepted responsibility by entering a guilty plea on August 12, 2019, to the charge of receipt and distribution of child pornography. 

The offense that Gary was charged with and has plead guilty to is the possession of approximately 506 images and 148 videos that contained unlawful images. Gary’s only adult criminal convictions are for not having a valid license plate, two speeding tickets, and, most recently, a display of state license plate violation in 2015. He has no juvenile adjudications, no other criminal conduct, no pending charges, and no arrests. 

On December 27, 2017, Gary’s son, Robert McKinney, was found frozen to death in a ditch in Oregon. The death of Robert greatly affected Gary, causing him to have suicidal thoughts and to consume a fifth of whiskey a day for almost the entire year following Robert’s death. 

Additionally, Gary’s wife filed for divorce from Gary in September of 2019. Gary has not spoken to his two other sons,since being arrested in this case. Moreover, Gary suffers from several mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder from being involved in a shooting as a police officer in 2003, and depression and anxiety. 

However, Gary does have his GED and completed the Missouri Southern State University law enforcement academy’s 500-hour program in 1997. Gary’s employment record shows a long history of serving several communities as a law enforcement officer officer for approximately 17 years. 

Gary is asking this Court to sentence him to 15 years in prison without parole. His ability to communicate, and have any type of a relationship, with his two teenage sons will be severely limited. Additionally, his wife of over 25 years has left him because of this charge. Thus, these factors reflect the seriousness of the crime in this case, promote respect for the law, and provide just punishment. 









The above-stated consequences are adequate to deter others who may not be aware of the serious criminal penalties for receiving and distributing child pornography. 

The PSR does discuss the impact that Gary, and anyone in receipt of child pornography, had on the child victims in this case. Gary’s illegal action was to be in receipt of child pornography; therefore, Gary being sentenced to 15 years in prison will be sufficient to deter him from committing any future crimes. 

Additionally, Gary being ineligible for probation and sentenced to 15 years in prison, away from his sons, without parole, will be sufficient to deter him from committing any future crimes. 

Gary would benefit from obtaining sexual offender treatment, as well as counseling, therapy, and substance abuse treatment. The bureau of prisons may provide some of these services. 

McKinney is the former owner of McKinney Plumbing and also served on the Webb City and Duquesne police departments.

McKinney's hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, February 26, in Springfield.