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News wrap for April 26, 2018: Justice Served

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In this week’s wrap, we’ll take a look at the better-late-than-never push to end federal ridiculousness about marijuana, the capture of the Golden State Killer, the Trump legal circus, a three-alarm fire in Concord, Cosby’s guilty verdict and the Warriors advancement to Round 2…because variety really is the spice of life.

Schumer pushes to decriminalize cannabis

Like a gift wrapped in hemp paper, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced legislation on April 20 that if passed would decriminalize cannabis on a federal level, according to an NPR report. Additionally, the bill would remove the drug from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s list of scheduled substances, which categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I substance, defined as “as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”. For context, marijuana currently the same space as heroin on the list created in 1970. The harsh scheduling has long created a barrier for the plant’s medical advancements, making it bureaucratically difficult for the medical industry to obtain the substance and funding for the necessary research.

Illustration courtesy of Boston South Shore Natural Therapies

Although Schumer is a Democrat, the push to solve problems associated with federal marijuana prohibition has been a bipartisan effort in recent years. In late March, Former RNC Chair Michael Steele penned an op-ed for The Hill condemning Jeff Sessions’ rescinding of the Cole Memos and urging Congress to take the lead on marijuana reform. Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif) followed up with a joint letter to Sessions earlier this month, calling for an end to federal obstruction to medical research of marijuana. Apparently, Schumer was paying attention.

In an age when the two parties can’t agree on much of anything, it’s pretty amazing to see cannabis be that bridge. And it’s about damn time.

Warriors move to Round 2

The Golden State Warriors came home to win game five of the Round 1 playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs. Holding onto a 3-1 lead after Sunday’s road loss, 103-90, the team was hopeful home court advantage would help shut down the series, which is exactly what happened. The Spurs didn’t go down easily, with much of the game within a few-point spread, but the final score came in 99-91 for the win. The Dubs will advance to Round 2 against the New Orleans Pelicans, who swept the Portland Trail Blazers during their first series and will no doubt demand the Warriors be on top of their game, leaning heavily on Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green to make up for Stephen Curry’s absence, but they’ve pulled it off so far.

Game 1 against the New Orleans Pelicans starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday out of Oakland’s Oracle Arena.

Serial killer and rapist has new home behind bars

He was called many things over the 40 years since he first struck fear throughout California. He was dubbed the Golden State Killer, the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker and the Visalia Ransacker, but his actual identity was unknown until Wednesday. NPR reports that Joseph James DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former police officer was arrested at his home in Sacramento after decades of searching. It is believed he murdered at least 12 people and committed over 45 rapes between 1976 and 1986 up and down the coast of California, but largely centered in the Sacramento area. It was a pattern of his to enter homes while victims slept and wake them with a flashlight beaming into their faces before he tied them up and attacked them.

Police sketch and mug shot of Joseph James DeAngelo, suspected Golden State Killer. Photo courtesy of ABC7NY

A special task force established in 2016, coinciding with the 40-year anniversary of his first known crime, reinvigorated the case and led to DeAngelo’s arrest. However, true crime writer Michelle McNamara dedicated much of her career to trying to find him herself and wrote a book on the subject, titled “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark”, with which she emphasized the role DNA would need to play in his capture. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones confirmed that it was in fact DNA evidence that led to his arrest, although he did not specify which case it came from.

After many long years, victims and their loved ones finally have the closure they’ve been seeking and ironically, it was served up on National DNA Day.

The news comes nearly a week after an incident in Berkeley where a high school student was raped at gunpoint in broad daylight on the 1500 block of Addison Street near Sacramento Street, according to Berkeleyside. One can only hope the assailant will soon be sharing a room with DeAngelo.

Three-alarm fire in Concord

An apartment building still in the construction phase set fire in Concord Tuesday morning. Although that particular building was uninhabited, 250 people were evacuated from the Renaissance Square Apartments a very short distance across the street. Two people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and all of the evacuees are still unable to return to their home as of Thursday morning. According to the East Bay Times, the three-alarm fire heavily damaged much of what was being built and the rest is in the process of being demolished as authorities continue to investigate the cause. Traffic at Galindo and Willow Pass streets remains congested and partially blocked due to the demolition activity.

Three-alarm fire at apartment building under construction in Concord, Calif. Photo courtesy of NBC Bay Area

National nausea

The U.S. Supreme Court continued hearing arguments Wednesday concerning the president’s travel ban. One key point in Wednesday’s proceedings was the possibility that Trump’s words and tweets may not be taken into account when evaluating whether or not he intended the ban to be discriminatory toward Muslims.

Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer and self-proclaimed “fixer” announced that he would be pleading the Fifth Amendment in the case relating to Stormy Daniels, according to CNBC. Trump himself spoke to Fox and Friends Thursday and tried to distance himself by claiming that Cohen only handled a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work. However, he may have gone ahead and damaged the situation further with a little slip of the tongue when he stated in that same interview that Cohen “represents me on some things … like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal” – the same deal Trump claimed to know nothing about on Air Force One a few weeks ago. Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenetti quickly jumped on the legal implications of the disclosure.

Victims names on crosses outside Waffle House in Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Time.com

Trump has been remarkably silent about the shooting at a Waffle House in Tennessee Sunday that left four dead. Their names are Akilah Dasilva, Taurean Sanderlin, DeEbony Groves and Joe Perez. Their names are worth saying out loud, but Trump has refused to do so. He’s also refrained from honoring James Shaw Jr., the man who heroically wrestled the shooter to the ground and likely saved several lives. Because we’ve heard plenty about the shooter himself and his mental health, I’ll leave that alone here out of respect for the people who died.

Breaking: Cosby

The New York Times is reporting that after two days of deliberation, a jury in the Montgomery County Courthouse has found Bill Cosby guilty of “drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home” 14 years ago.

His first trial ended last summer in a deadlocked jury, but the case reported today regarding Andrea Constand ruled on three felony counts: “penetration with lack of consent, penetration while unconscious, and penetration after administering an intoxicant”.

Cosby could face up to 10 years in prison for each count but sentencing has yet to occur and he will remain free on $1 million bail until that happens.

 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.