News Scan

Parole Denied in Bizarre California Plane Murder: A California state panel denied parole Tuesday for 62-year-old Lawrence Cowell, a southern California man convicted of murdering his childhood friend, Scott Campbell, for money then throwing his body out of an airplane into the Pacific Ocean. Cowell admitted in the parole hearing that he was responsible for Campbell's death but wouldn't admit that he killed him. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said, "Instead of accepting responsibility for what he did and showing remorse, Cowell has continued to lie, shift the blame to others and assault innocent people each time he was briefly set free." When Campbell was killed, Cowell was free on bail awaiting trial for driving drunk that caused a crash that killed his passenger. While free on bail awaiting his murder trial, Cowell assaulted his father and bit the finger off of his mother's hand. He was also convicted in 1985 for murder and conspiracy to commit murder and robbery, but had his conviction overturned on the grounds that evidence was improperly admitted. The parole board ruled that Cowell can apply for parole again in five years. In response to the board's decision, Campbell's mother said, "It's not about bringing Scotty back," she said of her son, who was 27 when he died. "We can't do that. But it's about protecting life. Now I know that for five years people will be safe from Cowell." The San Francisco Chronicle has this story. Study Shows Investment in Early Education Saves on Crime: Christopher Cadelago reports Southern California law enforcement officials have pointed to a study by bipartisan anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids to renew attention to greater federal investment in early childhood education programs. The report revealed that early investment in education, such as preschool, could save more money down the line in reduced criminal justice and education costs. The study showed that at-risk children were 43% less likely to be placed in special education during their K-12 schooling if they received early training. The organization is looking for policymakers to support provisions in the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act re-authorization that encourages states to implement early learning into the educational structure. "This report shows that investment in very professional, well-targeted early education programs pays off in the long run, especially in the criminal justice system," said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore. Michigan State Police Defend Use of High-Tech Devices: Following up on Michigan's controversial high tech device that allows officers to search cell phones during traffic stops, Michigan State Police stand behind the technology and claim they are not abusing the public trust by improperly downloading smartphone data during traffic stops. State police inspector Greg Zarotney appeared before the House Oversight Reform and Ethics Committee to discuss concerns about the devices. Zarotney said the devices are not used during routine traffic stops and are only used as an investigative tool for major cases such as homicide and child exploitation-and only with a search warrant or with the phone owner's consent. Michigan State Police officials continue to deny the ACLU requests for information showing how this device actually works. House Oversight Reform and Ethics Committee members say they will likely recall Michigan State Police officials to answer more questions about how the agency actually uses the new technology. The Lansing State Journal his this story.

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