Man Sentenced For Killing Neighbor Over Loud Music No One Else Could Hear

A Missouri man was sentenced to 24 years in prison on September 19, 2018 for the murder of a neighbor who he thought was playing loud music no one else could hear.

29 year-old James C. Blanton, who had originally been charged with first-degree murder, pleaded guilty to second degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon. State mental health experts had reportedly found that Blanton was autistic, but competent enough to stand trial.

James C. Blanton
James C. Blanton

Blanton wore a bullet-proof vest & a hoodie when he shot and killed 35 year-old Yi-Ping “Peter” Chang on December 13, 2015.

Chang, a tech support specialist for Monsanto, was home watching a movie with his girlfriend at an apartment complex in the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights when Blanton knocked on the door complaining about “loud bass music”. There was an argument, then Blanton shot and killed Chang.

He then sat outside Chang’s apartment and waited for police to arrive, and was cooperative with police on the scene. He reportedly said that he had killed Chang in self-defense. A handgun reportedly used in the shooting was recovered by police.

Police later said Blanton wanted Chang to ‘turn the bass down.’ But Chang wasn’t playing any loud music. It’s not known if the movie Chang and his girlfriend were watching could have been a source of any loud music.

Blanton had reportedly also complained other times to other neighbors about loud music, those interviewed by the St. Louis Post Dispatch say. Yet no one but Blanton could ever hear the “loud bass music” he complained about.

During the investigation, police reportedly found open web pages pertaining to stand your ground laws which Blanton had visited, including a news article about an incident in which another man cited stand your ground after shooting a neighbor over loud music.

Several incidents caused by real music have ended in tragedy. In 2010, 46 year-old retired firefighter Raul Rodriguez complained about loud music coming from a children’s birthday party in Houston. He told a police dispatcher he was “standing his ground” as he fired a gun at a group of unarmed men, killing one and wounding two others.

Rodriguez was convicted of murder, sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2013, then won a retrial after the conviction was overturned because of flaws in jury instructions. In November, 2015, he was convicted again.

Then, on Black Friday in 2012, 46 year-old Michael Dunn opened fire on a group of teenagers in an SUV during an argument over loud music in Jacksonville, Florida, killing 17 year-old Jordan Davis.

Dunn claimed self-defense, but was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole. Dunn is currently appealing his sentence.

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#TheResistance Is Real

“#TheResistance” – a Twitter hashtag started in response to the policies of President Donald Trump – is undoubtedly real, and more than just a hashtag.

Since Trump became Commander-in-Chief, his actions against so many segments of the population has caused the nation to become extremely polarized, partisan, divided, & chaotic.

During the 2016 election campaign season, I was usually politically quiet, since this movement against stand your ground laws is a non-partisan grassroots organization. But policies and actions of the Trump administration have intruded on that principle.

As a result, an assortment of movements against various federal policies have emerged, leading to a plethora of hashtags on Twitter. Very few hashtags are as universal as #Resist, which morphs into #TheResistance, and expands to include #FollowBackResistance (#FBR).

What started as a grassroots attack on Twitter against Trump’s tactics has morphed and is now used by many progressive movements which incorporate some form of #Resistance with their own hashtags.

Most twitter accounts in the Resistance regularly host what’s called a “follow back resistance party” (#FBRParty), which is simply a social media call-out for twitter follows, likes, retweets, & replies.

Using the words “I and I CARE…DO YOU? Are you with me?” our very first “#FBRparty”, hosted a couple of months ago, brought about 250 new followers to the @endyourstand account overnight, over 500 since it was first posted, and has gained much-needed exposure for the Movement to Change or Repeal Stand Your Ground laws.

So far this tweet’s been viewed over 13,000 times and received hundreds of likes & retweets, placing it among the Top Tweets for this movement. Become a part of this #Resistance advocating against stand your ground laws and Donald Trump. We’ll follow back. Because #TheResistance is real.

“Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story” Coming In July

One of the most infamous trials in modern history ended on July 13th, 2013.  A Florida neighborhood watchman was acquitted in the murder of an unarmed high school teenager.

Now, five years later, a six-episode television series from Paramount Pictures – “Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story” – is coming this July. Executive producers are Trayvon Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin, along with Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Chachi Senior, Michael Gasparro, Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason, and Nick Sandow.

The series is based on “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin” a book by  Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, and the network claims it will delve into the killing of Trayvon Martin with a “story about race, politics, power, money and the U.S. criminal justice system”.

Judge Grants Bond For Man Claiming Self-Defense In Stabbing Wedding Chef

Tears and gasps of anger were heard inside a Virginia courtroom on September 8, reports KIVA-TV, when a judge granted a $250,000 bond for Kempton Bonds, a 19-year-old man accused of second degree murder. He posted bond and was released on house arrest, amid vocal protests the victim’s family and friends.

Kempton Bonds (Booking photo)
Kempton Bonds (Booking photo)

Bonds is claiming self-defense in the stabbing death of 35-year-old Tyonne Johns, a popular chef who was catering a wedding at a park in Fairfax County, Virginia. Bond’s attorney, Peter Greenspun  maintains his client was scared and being attacked when the stabbing occurred.

But even if he felt a little intimidated by the imposing female chef, it appears to have been unfathomable that he would take her life. Virginia is for lovers and a wedding should be an atmosphere of new life, not death.

Tyonne Johns
Tyonne Johns

According to The Washington Post witnesses said the incident was sparked by an argument over folding chairs, which Bonds claimed belonged to the park, for whom he was working as a maintenance  man during the wedding.

Jones’ friends and other witnesses who were in attendance at the wedding reportedly said Bonds appeared agitated throughout the evening event, and had gone so far as to shut off power during the festivities, before the fatal stabbing.

A pre-trial hearing in the murder case is set for October 31st.

 

Top Tweet: Jim Crow States Have Stand Your Ground Laws

Today, almost every state that had Jim Crow laws from 1876 to 1965 now has some form of “shoot first” or stand your ground law. In the history of the United States of America, no practice of law has caused more controversy, grief, injustice, and shame than Jim Crow laws, which were state and local laws enforcing racial segregation in the South.

The practice existed for 75 years, until 1965, after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Jim Crow laws followed the 1800–1866 Black Codes, which had previously restricted the civil rights and liberties of African-Americans.

During it’s time, Jim Crow law encouraged prejudice, enabled discrimination, and deprived Black Americans of even the most basic qualities of life.

Segregation by race affected everything from the U.S. military and federal facilities to all public places, including schools, restrooms, restaurants, housing, and public transportation. Even drinking fountains were segregated.

The goal of this tweet posted on twitter was to show the irony of having stand your ground laws in today’s racially charged society, and many tweeps noticed it. I didn’t do the graphic. Props to the creator.

Pokemon Go Meets Stand Your Ground

Among the myriad of stories pouring in about dangerous Pokemon Go game experiences happening in the world of AR (Augmented Reality), along comes news from Florida (of course) about a real-world “stand your ground” type of incident which fortunately was not deadly – but could have been.

According to a report from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, on Saturday morning (July 16) about 1:30 a.m., a man fired several shots at the car of two young men who were playing Pokemon Go outside his home in Palm Coast, Florida.

Pokemon GO screenshot
Pokemon GO screenshot

The 37-year-old man said he was awakened by a noise, looked outside his home, and saw a white car. He thought that two teenagers, 19 and 16-year-old, were burglars ransacking houses when he reportedly heard them ask each other “Did you get anything?”

The man told police that he stepped in front of the vehicle and ordered the teens not to move. He said the vehicle accelerated toward him, causing him to jump out of the way. He then fired a gun several times at the vehicle because he thought they were trying to run over him.

The teens reportedly later told police that before the shooting they heard someone ask, “Did you catch him?” and one of the teens said, “Yeah, did you?”

They heard the gunfire as they sped off. They didn’t call police or tell their parents because they weren’t injured and had not seen any damage to the car.

But in the light of day, when the vehicle was found to have a flat tire and several bullet holes, they realized how deadly the encounter could have been, and the mother of one of the teens then called police.

Due to Florida’s infamous stand your ground law, it’s unlikely the unidentified homeowner will be arrested or face any charges, but it is possible.

law enforcement officials everywhere advise citizens to call 911 immediately with as much information as possible when you suspect someone is trying to break into your home, and avoid leaving the protection of your home to confront suspects.

Here are additional tips from Flagler County Sheriff’s Department:

Pokemon Go players are urged to follow these safety guidelines

  • Use common sense, be alert at all times and stay aware of your surroundings. In law enforcement, we call this situational awareness.
  • Watch where you are going.
  • Do not drive or ride your bike, skateboard, or another device while interacting with the Pokemon Go app. You cannot do both safely at the same time.
  • Do not trespass, go onto private property or into any area you usually, would not if you weren’t playing Pokemon Go.
  • Understand that people can use your location to lure you to “PokeStops” so they can victimize you.
  • Take a friend with you.
  • If you are a minor, check with a parent before going anywhere and tell an adult or law enforcement officer immediately if anything happens.

Parents of Pokemon Go players

  • Talk to your kids about strangers and set limits on where your kids go.
  • Be aware of third-party software apps claiming to enhance the gaming experience. Unfortunately, many of these apps allow access to sensitive personal data.

Stand Your Ground Goes Wrong In Racist Gang Attack

A paradigm of just how badly stand your ground can go wrong is when a Black man brutally attacked by a group of White men is charged with murder, testifies that he didn’t intend to kill one, but did, and then a judge decides he is not immune from prosecution – because the self-defense was unintentional.

It happened in Georgia, and the story of Jesse Murray, as revealed in media and police reports, goes beyond blatant disregard for the stand your ground law he tried to use, after becoming the victim of a brutal racist attack.

It reportedly all begins at a sports bar in Clayton County, Georgia, where 33-year-old Murray met with his estranged wife, Traci, for a meal, to discuss their relationship and children. The couple had once been regular customers of the business and were known by employees there.

Jesse Murray

After their meal, the Murrays tried their hand at a game of pool while having a few drinks, as a party was taking place nearby. Nathan Adams, a White male who was allegedly drunk, along with a woman, stumbled into Traci, and Murray, who is Black, tried to stop them from falling.

Adams – who just happened to be an ex-cop – offered no apologies, but allegedly warned Murray not to touch him again, as Murray stood between Traci and Adams and told him to get away from his wife.

A drunken Adams reportedly told Murray, “You need to f*cking leave” as four other White men, apparently Adams’ friends, appeared to surround Murray, and Adams pushed him in the chest.

Murray said he walked away from the men, went outside to his car, grabbed his licensed handgun and headed back toward the entrance to go back inside to bring his wife Traci out. He put the gun in his pocket.

As he tried to go back into the bar, Adams’ group blocked the door. Murray told the men to let his wife come out of the bar, but they refused, and instead moved toward him into the parking lot.

Several men accused of attacking Murray reportedly claimed they were concerned Murray was going to get a gun, had made threatening statements, and had called the woman who was with Adams an offensive name.

WSB-TV reports that Murray testified, “I was scared. I was definitely, at that moment, I was in fear. I was scared,” He also said, “They just made trouble happen for no reason.”

Adams threw a punch at Murray and all four men jumped in, kicking punching, and tackling Murray to the ground, then choking him as Adams held him by the arm.

In chilling court testimony, Murray testified that, “As he [Adams] was pulling on me I just remember him grunting.” Murray said soon after that Adams appeared to reach for (or his hands got close to) the gun in Murray’s pocket.

“At that point, when I pulled back, that’s when my gun discharges.” Murray was then able to escape – as one of the men shot at him – and run to a nearby business, from where he called police.

When police arrived, Murray surrendered his weapon and tried to explain what happened, but was handcuffed by the responding officer. While Murray was cuffed, one of Adams’ friends allegedly ran up and punched Murray in the head.

Responding officers didn’t arrest the man who punched Murray, who was then placed into a patrol car, as a white officer (off-duty and out of uniform) – who was another of Adams’ friends – arrived on the scene, and shouted, “Do you know who we are? We’re going to fry your black ass!” reports rollingout.com.

Nathan Adams
Nathan Adams (screen grab WSB-TV)

Adams was pronounced dead at a hospital. Murray was transported to jail, where he was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault. No one else was charged with a crime that night.

After a stand your ground hearing in June, Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert R. Collier denied stand your ground immunity for Murray, stating that Murray was not in fear for his life. If convicted, he now faces up to 15 years in prison.

Read Georgia’s Self-Defense Laws Here

The judge responded that it doesn’t appear to the court “that the other men in the vicinity were acting in such a way that would cause the defendant to reasonably believe that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or a third party.”

The Judge’s ruling also states that, “The court cannot reconcile the defendants asking for immunity under a self-defense statute, by stating that the use of deadly force was justified, and then also stating that the use of deadly force was unintentional.”

Murray’s defense attorney Mawuli Mel Davis plans to file a Motion to Reconsider.