September 18, 2014

Think of victims, widow of Ringo victim says following execution

The man behind a Friday double murder at a Columbia Ruby Tuesdays restaurant has been executed in the first few minutes of this Wednesday morning.  Five grams of pentobarbital ended Earl Ringo’s life at 12:31 a.m., more than sixteen years after the restaurant robbery left delivery man Dennis Poyser and manager-in training Joanna Baysinger dead.  He killed Poyser.  Accomplice Quentin Jones killed Baysinger at Ringo’s urging, then testified against Ringo in Ringo’s murder trial.  Jones is doing life without parole.

A dozen relatives of the victims who have waited more than a decade and a half to see justice have witnessed Ringo’s death. One of them is Poyser’s widow, Jama Brown, who  has pleaded with death penalty opponents to redirect their efforts toward keeping what she calls “terrible actions” from happening.   Until then, she says, punishments strong enough to make people think about the consequences of their actions should remain. As she put it, “Evil should not win.”

AUDIO: Brown statement



Missouri 7th in men killing women (AuDIO)

A new study says Missouri is one of the worst states for women being murdered by men.

The National Violence Policy Center has used FBI numbers for 2012 to compile its ratings. That’s the last year for which figures are available.  Missouri is seventh worst. Missouri has been in the bottom-ten for three of the last five years.

Legislative Director Kristen Rand says Nevada, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma,

South Carolina, and Alaska have worse records.

Average age of the women: 36, meaning, she says, they probably leave children behind.   Fifty-three percent were white; forty-one percent black.  Ninety-eight percent were killed by someone they knew, often when trying to break off an abusive relationship.

She says the state needs to have resources available to women teaching them how to get out of abusive relationships.

Rand says a woman who breaks off an abusive domestic situation is at greatest risk for a year after ending the relationship. She says the state also needs programs for removal of firearms from domestic abuse relationships. She says states like Missouri need to develop programs for men and women and look at the powers courts have in abusive situations.

AUDIO: Rand interview 12:16

Missouri lawmaker’s challenge of contraceptive mandate continues

A case filed by a Missouri lawmaker challenging the requirement that his state-sponsored insurance plan provide birth control coverage has been heard in a federal appeals court in St. Louis.

Representative Paul Wieland (courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Representative Paul Wieland (courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Timothy Belz is an attorney for the Thomas Moore Society, a public interest law firm in Chicago, and represents Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, and his wife Teresa. Belz says Wieland and his wife used to opt out of contraceptive coverage. Belz says under the federal health care reform plan, contraceptive coverage must be provided, so the state’s health insurance company quit allowing people to opt out.

Belz says the decision by the Supreme Court this summer that private companies such as Hobby Lobby that have religious objections can opt out of the contraceptive requirement of federal health care law bolsters the Wielands’ argument.

“If, as in Hobby Lobby, a for-profit, commercial enterprise does not have to provide contraceptive coverage for its employees, then certainly mom and dad don’t have to provide it for their daughters,” says Belz. “Mom and dad are to Hobby Lobby like their girls are to Hobby Lobby’s employees. That’s the parallel.”

The Wielands have three daughters, ages 13, 19 and 20.

A federal district judge in November dismissed the Wieland’s lawsuit saying that the couple lacked standing to bring it.

The three-judge panel that heard the case on Monday could issue a ruling at any time.

“Lessons from Ferguson” – Missouri journalists review, recap coverage

The deadly shooting of a teenager by a local police officer in a small suburb of St. Louis has turned into a story of defiance and local racial conflict revealed to the rest of the world by professional journalists, working alongside citizens using social media.

At the same time, journalists — how they reported and how they were treated–became a large part of the Ferguson story. That has invited a different sort of scrutiny and criticism from audiences and within the profession.

As part of a national gathering of journalists Friday at the Excellence in Journalism conference in Nashville, reporters who have been “on the ground” in Ferguson, MO, shared their recollections and opinions about the coverage of the riots and responses to the shooting.

Missourinet’s Bob Priddy led a panel of reporters: Elise Hu (NPR), Robert Brooks (Radio One), and Gregg Leslie (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) at the Excellence in Journalism Conference 2014.

RTDNA conference leaders are considering continuing this discussion at next year’s Excellence in Journalism Conference in Orlando.

Former Mamtek CEO pleads guilty to fraud, theft for sweetener plant scam

The former CEO of Mamtek, Bruce Cole, will serve between five and seven years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts for convincing investors to purchase $39-million in bonds for a sweetener factory in Moberly that was never completed.

Bruce Cole's booking photo from his arrest on 09/18/2012.

Bruce Cole’s booking photo from his arrest on 09/18/2012.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports Cole pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of securities fraud and one count of theft. He avoids the trial that was set to begin in December. He will be sentenced November 3.

With the Mamtek project, Cole promised to bring up to 600 jobs to Moberly. City officials agreed to issue $39-million in bonds and the state promised more than $17-million in tax credits and other incentives. Governor Jay Nixon and former governor Bob Holden, now chairman of the Midwest U.S.-China Association, appeared in Moberly when the project was announced.

Cole claimed Mamtek already had a factory in China, as well as private capital of $8-million and the ability to have the factory in production within six months. It also claimed to have a patented process for making sucralose.

Mamtek actually owned no patents and owned interest in a factory in China that never produced sucralose on a commercial scale.

Construction on the factory halted in August, 2011 when the bond funds ran out. Mamtek went into bankruptcy in December 2011.