23 posts categorized "Crime"

March 22, 2009

Fritzl Chooses Luxury Prison - Where's the Outrage?

Timesonline reports that per Austrian law Josef Fritzl, who was convicted of rape, murder, false imprisonment and other atrocities which he committed during the 24 years that he kept his daughter Elisabeth and the 6 surviving children that he forced her to bear in while confined in a windowless dungeon, will get to pick his poison ... I mean prison. (I apologize for the long sentence but, after all, I am a lawyer and we tend to be verbose). 

Associated Press Video


Can this horrific story get any more bizarre?  73 year old Fritzl, a creature who has no right to call himself a human being, was sentenced to life in prison but will be eligible for parole in 15 years.  I am disgusted by the fact that he was allowed to choose to spend his incarceration at Garsten,  prison for the "psychologically abnormal" where, according to Timesonline, "he will be able to improve his English or study other foreign languages, as well as singing in the choir or training in a gym that is better-equipped than those of many hotels. As an inmate, he will be offered a wide variety of hobbies and entertainment, including tennis, darts and art classes."

Where is the outrage?  This treatment calls for reform.  Garsten is set in the foothills of the Alps and boasts of one of the largest prison libraries in Austria so that Fritzl won't be deprived of the ability to indulge in his passion for reading.  What about Elisabeth's passion for, well, anything?  Even though she's been freed from her prison, common sense dictates that she will never be freed from the memory of the horror that was her life.

Details of Elisabeth Fritzl's Abuse at the Hands of Her Father, Josef Fritzl

Fritzl's fellow inmates include such dignitaries as a former TV presenter, Helmut Frodl, serving life for murdering a rival and dismembering his body with a chainsaw. Frodl is working on a PhD and is allowed out twice a month with an escort to discuss his thesis with a professor.

Although in theory it's commendable that, per a spokesman for the Austrian prisons, “The Austrian penal system aims not only at enforcing punishment, but also attempts to bring the inmate back within the norms of society,” the inhuman wrongs that this man committed against his daughter and the children that he begat with her, can never be made right.  Every day of the rest of his life should be filled with the same fear, terror, frustration and horror that he bestowed upon his family.

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March 19, 2009

Josef Fritzl Sentenced To Life in Mental Hospital

Fritzl Croaking Voice Joseph Fritzl, the monster who imprisoned, raped and tortured his own daughter, Elisabeth, for 24 years while forcing her to bear 7 of his children, has been sentenced to life in a mental hospital -- a mental hospital of HIS own choosing. 

In general, I'm not a punitive person.  However, in these circumstances, this man should be afforded absolutely no choice as to any aspect of his life, not the least of which is where he will spend the rest of his days.  He should be afforded the same choice he gave to his daughter - none.

According to Timesonline:

Josef Fritzl barely quivered when he was sentenced yesterday to life in a prison for psychologically disturbed criminals. He was found guilty of murdering a boy, one of seven children fathered with his daughter, of enslaving her, incarcerating her, beating her and raping her 3,000 times in the cellar of the family home.

Fritzl, 73, said in a croaking voice that he accepted the verdict — there will be no appeal — and he was marched off by a phalanx of policemen to a cell that lets in more sunlight than his daughter Elisabeth saw in almost a quarter of a century.

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March 18, 2009

Joseph Fritzl Pleads Guilty to All Charges - He's Still a Monster

In spite of the fact that Josef Fritzl pled guilty to ALL charges today, he remains one of the great monsters of all time.  Click here, here, here, here and here to read previous, detailed postings of his horrific crimes.

Please watch the CNN Video News Report below for greater details of today's guilty plea.



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March 17, 2009

Details of Elisabeth Fritzl's Abuse at the Hands of Her Father, Josef

Josef-Fritzl-arrives-for--001 I am sickened by the account of Josef Fritzl’s treatment of his daughter, Elisabeth Fritzl, during the 24 years that he imprisoned her in a purposefully built cellar. 

This Josef Fritzl calls himself a man, a human being.  I don't perceive him as human.  The horrors that he bestowed upon his daughter beginning with drugging her at age 18 in order to imprison her in the dungeon that became her 24 year torture chamber and the deceit that he so brazenly perpetrated to friends and family during that time boggle the mind and shock the conscience. 


Here is, in part, what the indictment states:

  • He chained his daughter up, strapping up her arms and tying her hands behind her back with an iron chain, which he then secured to metal posts behind her bed. She could only move approximately half a metre either side of the bed.
  • After two days he gave her more freedom of movement by attaching the chain around her waist. Then around six to nine months into her imprisonment, he "removed the metal chain", because "it was hindering his sexual activity with his daughter".
  • He forced her to endure sexual abuse and rape at his hands sometimes several times a day, from the second day of her incarceration right up until her release last April. During the first nine months he kept her on a lead and "constantly covered her mouth and prevented her from breathing".
  • He repeatedly threatened her with the statement: "If you do not do as I say, your treatment will get worse and you will not escape from the cellar anyway."
  • He repeatedly beat and kicked her.
  • Subjected her to humiliating sexual abuse, including forcing her to reenact scenes in pornographic films with him as well as inserting objects into her in a violent manner.
  • Fritzl threatened Elisabeth and her children, warning them that if they tried to escape they would be killed. "He told them he had installed a system so that the doors would give them electric shocks if they tried to open them and that poison would be released into the cellar if they tried to escape, killing them all instantly."
  • He would punish her by switching off all the power to the cellar for days at a time "so she was left alone in total darkness".
  • The jury will hear three expert testimonies including the psychiatric assessment of Fritzl, and evidence from a technical expert and an electrical engineer who have inspected the dungeon prison, including its complex locking system and the eight doors which separated Elisabeth and her family from the outside world.

The poison that ran through this man's veins is incomprehensible.  I'm speechless.


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Fritzl Trial Media Frenzy



The trial begins.  From CNN:

One of Elisabeth Fritzl's brothers, Harald, also testified by video, a court spokesman said. The media and public have been barred from the courtroom for sensitive parts of the trial.

Fritzl has pleaded guilty to incest and other charges, but denied murder and enslavement.

He pleaded "partly guilty" -- an option in Austrian court -- to multiple charges of raping his daughter, Franz Cutka, a spokesman for the court in Landesgericht St. Poelten, said. A verdict is expected on Thursday, Cutka said.

Elisabeth testified on an 11-hour videotape. Portions of the tape were played Monday, and Fritzl was asked about it. The remainder of the tape was played Tuesday, officials said.

Authorities have said Elisabeth and her children were given new identities and are in a secret location.

Will there ever be justice for this family?  It doesn't seem possibleto me that Elisabeth Fritzl and her six surviving children can ever lead normal lives.  However, their new found freedom may send them on their way to integration and reintegration into society especially with the assumption that Josef Fritzl will be locked away for many years to come.  It's daunting, though, to know that his plea deal may include incarceration in a resort-like prison where the inmates are given the luxury of daily activities such as classes, tennis and other recreational sports.


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March 10, 2009

Josef Fritzl: Evil Father Goes on Trial for Crimes Against Daughter, Elisabeth

Fritzl 2009-03-10 005 You may recall the horrific story of Elisabeth Fritzl, the Austrian woman who was held captive, raped and tortured by her father for 24 years.  So many of you were incredulous at the horrific story that captured the world's attention and sympathy.  I blogged on it here, here, here and here.  Many of my blog postings include videos and photos of the crime (thus far) of the century.  There was also a link to a photo album containing nine photos of, among other things, the victim and her father.

Well, the outrage continues.  Josef Fritzl has admitted to his acts.  He is going on trial next week for murder, incest, unlawful imprisonment and enslavement.  His attorney, Rudolf Mayer, says "He is not a monster.  He loved his daughter in his own way."  This is love?  I don't know about you but I'm deeply offended by the callous disregard for the lives of his daughter and the 7 children (the product of repeated rapes by her father) that she bore from the depravity that defined her existence.  One of the children died in infancy, in the dungeon that was their home, while turning blue in her arms.   Josef Fritzl incinerated the body and, although it is believed that he won't be so convicted, this death is the subject of the murder charge against him.

It is quite possible that, under the current Austrian laws, Fritzl could get out of prison in less than 10 years (rape has a maximum sentence of 15 years and, with good behavior...).  To add insult to injury, it is rumored that his attorney has made a deal where Fritzl gets to choose the prison in which he will be held to pay for his crimes and that the chosen location will provide mediation, tennis, football and darts as well as cooking lessons. 

Elisabeth Fritzl has filmed 11 hours of testimony wherein she describes being assaulted by her father for the first time at age 11.  She tried to defend herself against his rape by kicking and screaming.  She became his captive at the age of 18 when he locked her in the dungeon that he purposefully built beneath their house (I'm loathe to call it a home) and, in an effort to cover up his perverted acts, forced her to write a letter saying that she had run away to join a cult.

The father's defense: He was protecting her from smoking, drugs, sex and drinking.  Oh, did I mention that he gave his captives a bird?  Oh, yes, the bird was able to live down there so it proves that he provided them with good air quality.  In addition to the bird, the police found whips and handcuffs.

The details of the upcoming trial and Elisabeth Fritzl's diary of her 8400+ days of captivity are plentiful on the Internet.  In particular, I found the following three articles which lay it all out:

Fritzl Daughter Tells of Fight to Save Children: Timesonline

Evil Father Goes on Trial: Babble.com

Fritzl Girl's Dunegon Diary Leaked: Ninemsn.com

And, of course, a Google Search on Elisabeth Fritzl or Josef Fritzl will yield a plethora of information.

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February 23, 2009

Video New California Law for 2009: DUI Zero Tolerance

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Uncle sam no drink drive This new law prohibits a convicted DUI offender from operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .01 percent or greater while on probation for DUI. The law requires the driver to submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test, a portable breath test to determine the presence of alcohol. If the driver refuses, or if the driver submits and has a BAC of .01 or greater, a citation will be issued, the driver's license will be taken and driving privileges will be suspended. In addition, the vehicle will be impounded.





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January 29, 2009

3 Boys Killed in Car Crash After Fleeing From Police

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Folks, today tragedy struck when a 14 year old boy went joyriding along with two passengers aged 11 and 6.  According to a Fox News Report, the event happened in Fontana, California as follows:

A CHP officer pulled over the Nissan Maxima for running a red light on a Fontana street just before 9 p.m. Wednesday, but the driver sped off as the officer walked toward the car, the statement said.

In a chase that lasted less than a minute, the driver ran several red lights and reached 90 mph on city streets before losing control and hitting the wall, the statement said.

All 3 boys were killed.  The question becomes whether or not the police were in hot pursuit and were justified in the chase that ultimately cost the lives of 3 young boys.

If it turns out that the chase was not justified, then the families of the boys will have a wrongful death claim against the Fontana Police Department for their tragic loss. 


The answer(s) to this question will be determined by the internal police investigation, a court of law or both.

Click here to watch the Associated Press news video



Fontana crash 002 When have the police gone too far and did they go too far this time?  Only time and a thorough investigation will tell.  Meanwhile, the families of the children have a limited time within which to pursue a claim against the governmental entity that may be partially responsible for the tragic loss of their children.  Could the police be trained to react differently in a situation such as this?  Did they have probable cause to believe that the driver and his 6 and 11 year old occupants were a danger on the streets?  Or was the 14 year old driver just a scared child that would have reacted differently if he were not being chased?  What is the Fontana Police Department's protocol in this type of situation and did they follow it?

If you, or someone you know, has been injured, please call me immediately at

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September 11, 2008

Link of the Day: Handicapped Fraud

Handicapped_parkingHow do you feel when you see a perfectly healthy person park in the disabled parking zone? Don't you just want to shake them and say "Hey, what are you doing?  There's an elderly lady over there who NEEDS this spot."  This issue is of particular importance to me because, as you know, I represent injured people -- legitimately injured people for whom the designated disabled parking spots mean the difference between being able to be a part of the world or staying home while being alienated from the rest of society. 

Well, welcome to Handicapped Fraud.org.  Here's their mission statement:

Handicappedfraud.org was launched as a community service effort to end the misuse of handicapped parking spaces and placards. The disabled have run out of places to park, as their designated handicapped parking spaces are being taken by fraudulent individuals. Our cities are being robbed of serious metered parking revenue to to this abuse as well. The police are far too valuable and busy to stake out parking lots to ticket handicapped parking violators. The abusers go largely unpunished. It's time for our community to become the ambassadors for our cities, and report handicapped parking violators when they see it.

A grass roots vigilante organization designed to protect those who truly need and deserve to park in the handicapped spots.

Here are some videos that drive the point home:

This is why you should not park in a disabled parking space. A woman with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) gives her view.:

A mother of two children with disabilities in Concord, California channels her frustration with people taking disabled parking spaces in a positive way. Her idea is turned into a new California law by Assembly member Mark DeSaulnier:

Jim Carrey reacts to a man illegally parking in a Handicapped Zone:

If you, or someone you know, has been injured, please call me immediately at (323) 852-1100 or send an e-mail to me at lowell@steigerlaw.com

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August 19, 2008

More Road Rage: Fender Bender Turns Deadly in Florida

Casey_tillI'm amazed at the lack of restraint that some drivers exhibit.  The latest tale of Road Rage again arises in the great State of Florida.  It just goes to show that driving and crack cocaine don't mix.  The Associated Press reports the following:

LAKE HAMILTON, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man was arrested after allegedly going on a violent rampage after a minor fender-bender, slashing and stabbing the occupants of a car, then running over and killing a woman who had been riding in another nearby vehicle.

Casey Weldon Till, 26, of Haines City, faces murder and carjacking charges after the attacks involving family members traveling in two vehicles.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office tracked Till to his home through a pill bottle left at the scene late Sunday night. Police allege that he killed Odalis Cespedes, 41, by running her over twice. Till told police he was high on crack at the time.Bilde

The violence apparently unfolded after Till's minivan slammed into a stopped car being driven by Cespedes' daughter, 19-year-old Ivon Despaigne, and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Angel Gonzalez, of Kissimmee. When the couple got out to check the damage, Till allegedly slashed Gonzalez's throat and stabbed Despaigne in the neck.

Investigators say Till then got into the couple's car and repeatedly rammed the vehicle ahead, occupied by Cespedes, her husband, 41-year-old Mario Despaigne, and their 6-month-old granddaughter.

The couple got their granddaughter out of the car seat and Cespedes was trying to flee with the baby in her arms when she was killed, Mario Despaigne said in an interview with The Ledger, which was conducted through an interpreter.

Mario Despaigne said Till drove over his wife's leg, then ran over her again after seeing she was still moving. Despaigne said he grabbed the baby. Then Gonzalez got into Till's van and hit him, then tried to back over him, but Till rolled out of the way, according to the arrest report.

Bilde_002

The picture to your left: Polk County Sheriff's deputies and crime scene technicians investigate the scene of a fatal stabbing at the intersection of County Road 542/Hatchineha Road and Watkins Road south of Poinciana.

Till then allegedly ran back to his van, ignoring commands to stop from a Lake Hamilton police officer who happened upon the scene. Till sped off, hitting officer David Hurst in the arm and midsection with the van's open door.

Till had locked himself in his bathroom and cut his wrists by the time investigators found him, the report said. He allegedly admitted the attacks to his wife and mother.

The police report listed Gonzalez and Ivon Despaigne in critical condition, but a local hospital would not provide information about their condition Tuesday.

Till was being held Tuesday in the Polk County Jail on charges of murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, carjacking and improper exhibition of a weapon. It was not immediately known if Till had an attorney.

Winterhaven Hospital's site provided the following details about the victims:

  • Ivon Despaigne, 19, of 1436 Swan Court, Kissimmee, who suffered from apparent stab wounds and was transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where was in critical condition this afternoon.
  • Angel Gonzalez, 21, of 771 Camel Court, Kissimmee, who suffered from apparent stab wounds and also was transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Center in critical condition.
  • Oxalis Cespedes, 41, of 1436 Swan Court, Kissimmee, who died at the scene. The Polk County Medical Examiner's Office reported this afternoon that she suffered severe burns and died from asphyxiation.
  • Bottom line, folks, don't engage others in a bout of road rage.  You never know who you're dealing with.  Two minutes after you've calmed down from an asphalt altercation, you'll have forgotten about it.  BUT if you take action, or if the other person takes action, your life could be unalterably changed for the worse.

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