Author Michael Roberts

christopher.watts.two.family.photoBreakfast reading from the Voice Media empire: Chris Watts became infamous nationwide thanks to sweeping coverage of his arrest and subsequent conviction for killing his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, and their two daughters, three-year-old Celeste and four-year-old Bella. But a civil suit filed by Shanann’s parents, Sandra and Frank Rzucek, and brother, Frank Jr., on behalf of her estate seeks to ensure that his name recognition doesn’t turn into cash. The document is accessible below, and its language echoes that of a complaint that the family of another murder victim aimed at arguably the most notorious alleged American killer of the past century. Westword has the story.

vox.lux.school.shootingBreakfast reading from the Voice Media empire: Art can and should be ugly at times. But what is the responsibility of the artist and exhibitor in terms of preparing a viewer for such material? And does this obligation change depending on where and how the art is displayed?

These subjects arose during closing night of the 41st annual Denver Film Festival, when the forthcoming film Vox Lux was given the red-carpet treatment at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.Most attendees probably knew little about the film beyond its description as a satirical portrait of a pop star portrayed by Natalie Portman, with original music by Sia. But the tale opens with a graphic school shooting set in 1999, when the Columbine attack took place. To make the allusion even more direct, the gunman, seen above, is clad in a long jacket that recalls what the Columbine killers wore. Westword has the story.

dreion.dearing.mug.shotBreakfast reading from the Voice Media empire: Prosecutors in the 17th Judicial District DA’s office will seek the death penalty against Dreion Dearing, who’s accused of killing Deputy Heath Gumm on January 24.

At first blush, this move is unsurprising: Gumm died during a 42-day period from New Year’s Eve 2017 to February 10, during which three law enforcement agents (and eight suspects) were killed during fourteen officer-involved shootings in his state. But it also has political repercussions. After all, Governor-elect Jared Polis is on record as opposing capital punishment, and has said that if the general assembly sent him a bill abolishing the practice, he would sign it. Westword has the story.

theodell.mcgowan.one.family.photoBreakfast reading from the Voice Media empire: On November 26, when we last spoke to attorney Jason Flores-Williams about the pre-Thanksgiving arrest of Theodell McGowan on a technicality related to an Indiana arrest nearly three-and-a-half decades ago, he was hopeful officials there would realize that extraditing an elderly, law-abiding man halfway across the country was a cruel and unnecessary waste of money, and would drop the whole matter. No such luck. Westword has the story.

police.holster.thinkstockBreakfast reading from the Voice Media empire: After eight years, Valerie Arend has won a judgment that adds up to more than a quarter-million dollars against Hector Peaz, a former police officer convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting her while on duty. But Arend’s attorney, Lauren Maytin, says the immediate rewards for Arend are more psychological than fiscal.

“He’s still in prison, and we’re going to have a hell of a time collecting,” Maytin acknowledges. “But my client feels some vindication, she feels a little bit of relief. She was injured in the criminal case, and the whole process is just ugly for victims in her position. She has had to relive that moment over and over. So when people recognize that you’ve been damaged and they want to punish the individual for doing what he did, you feel like you’re not crazy. But it’s been a long time coming.” Westword has the story.

coleman.stewart.swat.vehicle.denver7.one.youtubeBreakfast reading from the Voice Media empire: A judge has dismissed a case against 27-year-old Coleman Stewart in relation to a 2014 incident during which he was shot twice by police officers.

But while his attorney, Iris Eytan, is pleased that Stewart is no longer in legal jeopardy, she’s frustrated that the matter has been dropped prior to a hearing at which she planned to argue that the officers in the case violated her client’s constitutional rights and perjured themselves to justify their actions. Likewise, she’s offended that the district attorney’s office is now repeating claims against Stewart that an expert analysis characterizes as impossible, as well as portraying the trigger-pulling officers — Nicholas Frankenreiter, Erin Starks and Jacob Vaporis — as victims rather than victimizers. Westword has the story.

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