Saturday, March 30, 2013

Kaufman County DA, wife murdered; link to execution of assistant 2 months ago feared by many


KAUFMAN, TX -- The greatest fear among employees in the Kaufman County Courthouse became a reality as word of  the murder of District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife spread Saturday night, March 30.

Law enforcement officers found McLelland, pictured above, and his wife dead from gunshot wounds in their home near Forney. The couple's door originally was reported to have been kicked in, leading investigators to fear they had been executed in similar fashion to the shooting two months ago of an assistant district attorney who worked in McLelland's office.

Subsequent media reports indicated law enforcement officials found no sign of forced entry, but all reports indicate the door to the house was not locked. The couple appeared to have been dead for about 24 hours.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down in the employee parking lot of Kaufman County on Jan. 31 as he walked to his office early in the morning. McLelland had made numerous public statements about his determination to find Hasse's killers and prosecute them.

The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a violent white supremacist group became the main focus of a multi-agency investigation that drew a small army of law enforcement officials to the rural area. A command post was set up by the FBI, the Texas Rangers and other law enforcement agencies in Kaufman to investigate leads.

Evan Ebel, a member of a prison group who is suspected of murdering Tom Clements, the head of Colorado's Prison System, was killed in a shootout in Wise County with a sheriff's deputy about a week ago.  His appearance in Texas puzzled law enforcement agencies.

A press conference was held Sunday, March 31, by Kaufman County Sheriff David Byrnes, but it appeared to raise more questions than it did answers. Byrnes remained tight-lipped about any evidence found at the scene, what law enforcement officers think happened and whether a link between Hasse's and McLelland's murders is suspected.

The purpose of the press conference appeared to be the reassurance of the county's 40,000 residents that public officials and other county employees would be protected. The courthouse will open Monday morning, April 1 as usual, but the District Attorney's Office will be closed to the public, and there will be increased security visible.

A deputy sheriff reportedly protected McLelland at home for about a month after Hasse's murder, but that security had ceased at the time of the District Attorney's murder over the weekend.

A Dallas Morning News reporter told CNN News during an interview that her law enforcement sources told her shell casings found at the scene indicate an assualtr rife was used in the murders. Surveillance cameras at the McLelland home may reveal more information about the assailants, she said.

The reward for information leading to the indictment and conviction of Hasse's killers has risen to $130,000 since his killing, but no arrests have resulted. Hasse's crime scene differed from that of the McLelland's because the killers apparently picked up the shell casings.

In the wake of Hasse's murder and the massive investigation, Kaufman County officials resurrected plans to build a new criminal justice system that would provide better protection for employees.

On the day of the 57-year-old Hasse's death, the Federal Bureau of Investigation of Houston released a statement announcing the guilty please of two members of the white supremacist organization. Hasse was gunned down by two masked suspects who apparently easily escaped from the small town.

At the end of the statement the FBI credited a multi-agency task force for securing indictments in October 2012 against 34 ABT members that included the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office. In 2012 the Texas Department of Public Safety issued an alert that the ABT had vowed to retaliate against the 20 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that helped secure the indictments in Houston.

The Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery, AL, which monitors the activities of hate groups, has branded the ABT as "particularly violent."

The other agencies named in the FBI statement were the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; U.S. Marshals Service; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Public Safety; Montgomery County, Texas Sheriff's Office, Houston Police Department Gang Division; Texas Department of Criminal Justice Office of Inspector General; Harris County, Texas Sheriff's Department; Tarrant County, Texas Sheriff's Department; Atascosa County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Orange County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Waller County, Texas Sheriff's Office; Fort Worth, Texas Police Department; Alvin, Texas Police Department; Carrolton, Texas Police Department; Montgomery County, Texas District Attorney's Office and Atascosa County, Texas District Attorney's Office.

The Aryan Brotherhood is a 50-year-old large, nationwide prison gang that is "infamous for its violence and its sprawling empire," according to the law center in Montgomery, AL. Members usually join the white supremacist group in prison, and they continue their involvement for life outside of prison walls as well. Leaders of the groups often direct activities from their prison cells.

The ABT is known to be involved in drug trafficking, and it cooperates with Mexican cartels, despite the intolerance the prison group's members harbor against ethnic groups.






Sunday, March 17, 2013

Google defamation suit not anonymous blogger's first time at rodeo; California woman sought, received relief in courts

DALLAS -- It's not the first time for an anonymous blogger named in an ongoing defamation suit against Google to be involved in a legal action alleging libel.

A California woman filed a lawsuit last year alleging that a Collin County, Texas, woman defamed her and her fiancee by anonymously posting that they "aided child molesters," "supported pedophiles" and "attacked victims of alleged child molesters." The lawsuit, "Lorraine Schaffer Haake v. Megan Van Zelfden and John Doe Defendants 1-10," claimed that Van Zelfden, posting anonymously, libeled her on the Texas blog, EllisCountyObserverSucks, and in the comments section of JoeyIsALittleKid.wordpress.com.

JoeyIsALittleKid.blogspot.com, which is authored by an anonymous blogger named Ginger Snap, who claims to be a man, is now identified in a defamation lawsuit filed in Dallas County styled John Margetis v. Google, Alfred Davis and Defendants John Does 1-3.  http://therarereporter.blogspot.com/2013/03/google-seeks-dismissal-of-defamation.html

The case, which was filed in 95th Judicial District Court, is now under review by the judge who is considering several motions filed by the plaintiff and Google. One of Margetis' requests of  the court in the lawsuit is to learn the identity of the anonymous bloggers from Google.

Haake said the attack especially posed a danger to her fiancee, with whom she lives, because he was involved in a child custody battle that had reached the appellate level. It could have caused him to lose his child, she said.

The "hateful, false remarks" apparently arose because they appeared on a radio show hosted last year by Joey Dauben, publisher of the blog EllisCountyObserver.com, Haake said. The couple had only known Dauben about three weeks, and they had no idea he would be indicted for sexual assault of a minor and later convicted, she said.

Haake said they became the subject of scorn from a group of people who apparently anonymously bonded on the blog to berate Dauben, who was widely criticized for unfair reporting on his blog. In addition to the libelous remarks, the bloggers even ridiculed her hair color, her fingernail polish, the appearance of her apartment and other personal subjects based on their scrutiny of her Facebook page, she said.

Attempts via messages online to get Van Zelfden and the bloggers to cease and desist the malicious remarks failed, and it resulted in more abuse, Haake said.

"Every time you try to address the defamation, it's a digital free-for-all from Ginger Snap," Haake said in an electronic message interview. "And  as the lies, threats and their reasoning get more and more outlandish, you are accused of several mental problems."

They even accused her of being a "cat woman," she said.

One woman posting on the blog, who goes by the name of Yappy and claims to be a Canadian citizen living in Houston on a work permit with her husband, even threatened to "submit documents to the court to ruin his case," she said. Yappy claimed to be a former child advocacy specialist before she immigrated to the U.S. with her husband who works for an oil company, she said.

"Megan Van Zelfden said if I didn't like it, I could sue her," Haake said. "So I did.

Haake said she felt forced to take legal action, and that it cost her $4,000 just to determine the identity of Megan Van Zelfden so she could sue her. The cost of an attorney to file the case represents about another $6,000 in legal fees, she said.

Haake said that when Van Zelfden shut down the blog EllisCountyObserverSucks.com, she began posting malicious remarks on JoeyIsALittleKid.wordpress.com so she was forced to include that blog and its participants in her lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed Feb. 20, 2012, ended with a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff Dec. 3, 2012. Van Zelfden, who according to court records was evicted from her home in Plano Aug. 6, 2012, never responded to the legal action. The court ordered all of the offensive language removed from the blogs.

When JoeyIsALittleKid.wordpress.com was shut down late last year by that blog hosting company because it was determined to be allowing homophobic hate speech -- according to a subsequent post by Ginger Snap -- Haake said she saw a reprint of the libelous remarks about her and her fiancee. Ginger Snap relaunched the blog on Google's website hosting service, Blogspot.com, and one of his associates, OReader, transferred all of the old files to a new blog called JoeyIsStillALittleKid.blogspot.com.

The blog set up by OReader reprinted all of the hateful rhetoric the court had ordered removed, Haake said. Her Houston lawyer contacted Google asking for the information to be moved, but that apparently never took place, she said.

OReader, who is also named in the Margetis lawsuit for posting the old blog stories that includes multiple references to him, changed the status of the blog to "invited guests only" after the latest lawsuit was filed. The anonymous blogger noted in a telephone call seeking information about the current lawsuit that she used to be involved in an online program called "Perverted Justice" that targeted sex offenders, helping lure them to meetings with what the offenders thought would be minors.

OReader, who said she planned to cease blogging, claimed that the offensive remarks about Margetis would have been removed had he asked her, but Haake noted that's never been the case in the past when she complained to the blog participants.

In his legal documents, Margetis claims he asked Google to remove the posts he found offensive, and the company refused his request. That prompted him to file the lawsuit, he said in the court documents.

Recently, the blog JoeyIsStillALittleKid.blogspot.com became inactive, but JoeyIsALittleKid.blogspot.com continues as before, targeting a group called Lawless America and its founder Bill Windsor. Windsor is threatening to file both criminal complaints against Ginger Snap and the other bloggers.

After Google filed its answer to Margetis' original petition, Ginger Snap apparently took it as a sign of impending success and blogged that the company would be supporting him and the other bloggers. "They've got our clubhouse's back," said the blogger, who has bragged about his ability to keep his identity secret for two years.

Afterwards, Yappy, who claims to have been a child rape victim and appears to be one of the more aggressive participants on the blog, has in recent weeks told The Rare Reporter who complained about unfair, untruthful remarks being made about him on the blog that her research showed that he had driven his "longtime lover" to commit suicide, that he was an alcoholic, that he was a supporter of child molesters and possibly a child molester himself. Ginger Snap and several of the other bloggers told the author of this blog, who found a friend of 40 years dead as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound two years ago, that he was a "sad, miserable, pathetic, old man."

Later, as it has become clear the lawsuit filed against Google would not be the slam-dunk success Ginger Snap anticipated, the blog has become eerily quiet.
















Monday, March 11, 2013

Google seeks dismissal of defamation lawsuit, plaintiff vows to go forward


DALLAS --A Texas man who filed a defamation lawsuit against Google and two anonymous bloggers could be on the hook for legal fees and damages if the judge rules against him, but John Margetis of Midlothian is vowing to fight on and win.

Margetis said Google attempted to settle with him today, but he rejected their offer. "I'm not going for that stuff," he said. "I'm going forward full force."

A hearing is scheduled for March 14 on Google's motion to dismiss the lawsuit that Margetis filed in 95th District Court in Dallas Feb. 19

http://therarereporter.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-texas-man-who-recently-filed.html

Google  is arguing under Chapter 27 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code that the lawsuit lacks an essential element. The stories cited by Margetis actually were published by an anonymous blogger on the company's free Blogspot.com service, not Google itself.

Google also argued that Margetis is a  public figure because he is a frequent subject of the media, and that he is a "self-proclaimed freedom fighter" who has attracted widespread public attention. The plaintiff is known throughout the community for himself posing the question, "Am I a homosexual?" during a protest at a local voting precinct, the motion said.

Google also noted that Margetis has had judicial proceedings filed against him that the anonymous blogger covered in opinion pieces.

Google further backed the anonymous blogger, who identifies only as "Ginger Snap" and posts on  "Joeyisalittlekid.blogspot.com," by noting that the opinion pieces concerned matters of "public concern regarding public figures, safety, the government, community well being and public officials."

After the blog was shut down for alleged hate speech by Wordpress.com last year, the anonymous blogger relaunched it on Blogspot.com. All of the old stories, including ones attacking Margetis and suggesting he and former Ellis County Observer blogger Joey Dauben were homosexual lovers, were transferred to a Google blog "Joeyisstillalittlekid.blogspot.com" by an associate of "Ginger Snap" that goes by the name "OReader" and "OllieReader."

The old stories are now able to be read by invited guests only since the filing of the lawsuit. OReader commented on Ginger Snap's blog that if Margetis had requested the removal of the stories rather than filing suit, it would have happened.

Margetis named both of the anonymous bloggers and Google in his lawsuit. Google is represented by Dallas media attorney Charles Babcock.

Margetis initially obtained a temporary restraining order against Google and the anonymous bloggers, but that was dismissed by Judge Sheryl McFarlin Feb. 25 during the company's initial answer to the lawsuit. A hearing was scheduled for March 14 on a permanent restraining order, but Google's motion for dismissal will also be considered now.










Saturday, March 9, 2013

COTL Church visit helps Jason & DeMarco reach fundraising goal for concert tour


PAYNE SPRINGS, TX -- Celebration on the Lake Church's congregation showed its appreciation to the gay Christian singing duo of Jason & DeMarco by helping them reach the goal they had set for making their "Celebrating Families of Diversity" concert tour feasible.

Cedar Creek Lake was the last stop of the duo's Southwest U.S. Tour that took them, their two sons and other family members in a recreational vehicle from Houston to California and back from Feb. 1 through March 8.

Jason Warner told the congregation they had discovered the turnout for performances in churches and theaters had proved to be disappointing in the theaters, but the church audiences had made up the differences during love offerings. The tour needed to raise $1,750 more to reach their goal, he said.

Mike Kitchens, a COTL board member, said the church made up the difference between what the audience of 50 donated and what the concert tour needed to be profitable.

"The fellows walked away on the journey to home in Houston with $1,750 thanks to a donation by the Celebration on the Lake Church, as well as the love offering," Kitchens said.

He described the concert at the church as "moving, spiritually uplifting, talented and just unbelievably professional."

The concert included a story and video about the duo's work helping troubled LGBT youth and how they became the fathers of biological children "from embryo to twin boys."

Pastor Kathy Barton said the church was grateful for Jason & DeMarco returning to perform on Cedar Creek Lake after their visit last year.

"The guys were brilliant and held the audience spell bound," Barton said. "We can never thank them enough."

Celebration on the Lake Church is primarily a LGBT church that welcomes people of all religious backgrounds from Judaism to Christianity.