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Parole revoked for man who sold guns to killer Dellen Millard

The man who peddled guns to a notorious triple killer had his parole revoked last month for allegedly trafficking women and drugs.

Matthew Ward-Jackson sold three guns to Dellen Millard in 2012. Millard used the weapons in the murders of his father, his former lover and a complete stranger.

A judge sentenced Ward-Jackson, who was also convicted of possessing a loaded AK-47, to 11 years behind bars. He was given credit for time served and in January 2019, the Parole Board of Canada granted him day parole.

The board said in its recent decision that Ward-Jackson had improved while living in the community, finding work at a jewelry store.

“The Correctional Service of Canada was willing to support you for full parole and submitted this to the Board,” the board wrote to Ward-Jackson in its decision.

But at a meeting with his parole officer on Jan 10, 2020, Ward-Jackson handed over his phone for review.

“While reviewing text messages, your (parole officer) read messages suggesting you were involved in drug trafficking,” the board wrote.

“Another text message referenced a kidnapping which you claimed was a lie you told the contact to deter the person from wanting to stay at your residence. Upon further review of your phone, your (parole officer) felt you may also be engaged in the trafficking of women, travelling outside your travel boundary and associating with negative others.”

Ward-Jackson’s parole was suspended and he was arrested by police, the board said.

“It is the board’s opinion that you will present an undue risk to society if released on day parole,” the parole board said.

Ward-Jackson’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Ward-Jackson testified at Millard’s murder trial for the death of his father, Wayne Millard, 71, who ran a multi-million dollar aviation company.

He said he sold Millard a .32-calibre Smith and Wesson revolver that was later found next to Wayne Millard’s body in late November 2012. Wayne Millard died from a bullet shot through his left eye and into his brain.

Wayne Millard’s death was initially ruled a suicide. Toronto police later charged Dellen Millard with first-degree murder and a judge convicted him on that count in 2018.

Court heard Ward-Jackson sold that gun to Millard the day before Laura Babcock, Millard’s former girlfriend, vanished. A jury agreed with the Crown that Millard and his friend, Mark Smich, used that gun to kill Babcock. The pair later burned her body in Millard’s mobile incinerator.

Ward-Jackson also sold Millard the gun that was used in the murder of Hamilton man Tim Bosma.

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Politics

U.S. Supreme Court rules that jury verdicts must be unanimous

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of trial by jury requires a unanimous verdict in serious crimes, handing a victory to a Louisiana man convicted of a 2014 murder in New Orleans.

The court’s 6-3 ruling means that Evangelisto Ramos, who was convicted on a 10-2 vote of the 2014 murder of Trinece Fedison, whose body was found in a trash can, will likely get a new trial.

Only two of the 50 states, Louisiana and Oregon, have allowed for non-unanimous verdicts. Louisiana updated its law to prohibit non-unanimous verdicts starting last year but that change does not apply retroactively.

Ramos was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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Politics

Colorado tells Supreme Court that faithless electors threaten “stable governance”

The state of Colorado defended the constitutionality of a state law before the highest court in the nation this week, arguing it had the power to force Colorado members of the Electoral College to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Four weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in a closely watched case regarding so-called “faithless electors,” the Colorado Attorney General’s Office laid out its case in a 65-page brief Wednesday.

“States are authorized to oversee and remove electors to advance our democratic principles and protect our system of stable governance,” wrote Attorney General Phil Weiser‘s office.

Under state law, Colorado’s members of the Electoral College must cast their ballots for the presidential and vice presidential candidates who receive the most votes in Colorado. If they don’t, they can be removed and replaced. The constitutionality of that punishment is being challenged in this case.

The case stems from 2016, when Micheal Baca, a Colorado member of the Electoral College, attempted to vote for John Kasich, a Republican former governor of Ohio, rather than Democrat Hillary Clinton, whom Colorado had chosen. Baca’s decision was part of a failed and quixotic effort to lure Republican electors to a consensus choice and block Donald Trump from becoming president.

Baca was removed from his post, a punishment later deemed unconstitutional by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. His attorney, Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law, has argued Electoral College voting cannot be controlled by a state government.

The state of Colorado disagrees, relying in large part on Article II of the U.S. Constitution, which allows state legislatures to appoint members of the Electoral College “in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct.” That language allows states to remove and punish electors, the state of Colorado claims.

“Without the state oversight that the removal principle provides, electors would be free to violate their oath, take a bribe, or cast a ballot for a constitutionally ineligible candidate. Such an outcome would deprive the states’ voters of their voice in the selection of the president,” the attorney general’s office wrote in its brief.

“Permitting the states to enforce those lawful pledges is not only constitutional but necessary to protect the true character of our nation’s democratic principles and system of stable governance.”

The case is set to be heard April 28, though it’s unclear if the high court will meet then, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both sides — Lessig and the state of Colorado — have urged justices to issue an opinion this year and grant clarity before the 2020 presidential election in November.

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World News

Pakistan court commutes death sentence of key accused in Pearl killing, acquits three

KARACHI (Reuters) – A Pakistani court has commuted the death sentence of the main person accused in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and acquitted three co-accused in the matter, two lawyers told Reuters on Thursday.

At least four people were convicted in connection with Pearl’s murder, including British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death in 2002 for masterminding the murder. He has been in jail for 18 years awaiting the outcome of an appeal.

“The court has commuted Omar’s death sentence to a seven-year sentence,” Khawaja Naveed, the defence lawyer told Reuters by phone. “The murder charges were not proven, so he has given seven years for the kidnapping.”

“Omar has already served 18 years, so his release orders will be issued sometime today. He will be out in a few days,” Naveed said.

A two-member bench of the High Court of Sindh province issued the order in the city of Karachi on Thursday, Naveed said, adding that the three others, who had been serving life-sentences in connection with the case, had been acquitted.

Pearl was investigating Islamist militants in Karachi after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was kidnapped in January 2002.

Video emerged a few weeks later of his murder. He was beheaded.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, was also allegedly involved in Pearl’s killing.

A Sindh prosecutor said he would consider appealing against the court decision.

“We will go through the court order once it is issued, we will probably file an appeal,” Faiz Shah, the provincial prosecutor general, told Reuters via phone.

‘CAN’T STOP RELEASE’

Another lawyer not involved in the case told Reuters that Pakistan would likely have to release all of the accused while any appeal was filed.

“The prosecution cannot stop their release in this case, unless they produce a Supreme Court interim order,” Muhammad Farooq, a lawyer at the Sindh High Court said, adding that the government could seek to keep them detained by using a law related to the maintenance of public order.

“Legally they cannot stop their release in this particular case,” Farooq said.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CNN reported in 2002 that the United States had sought to extradite Sheikh after his arrest in connection with Pearl’s killing.

Sheikh was born in Britain and enjoyed a privileged upbringing before going to study at the London School of Economics.

He was arrested in India in the 1990s for his involvement in the kidnapping of western tourists in 1994 in support of Muslim separatists battling Indian security forces in the disputed Kashmir region.

He was one of three men released from an Indian prison after militants hijacked an Indian airliner in late 1999 and flew it to Afghanistan, where the then-ruling Taliban regime helped negotiate an exchange.

Indian police later linked Sheikh to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, accusing him of involvement in transferring $100,000 to Mohammad Atta, one of the militants who flew airliners into New York’s World Trade Center.

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World News

Morocco sentences activist for criticizing judge

CASABLANCA, Morocco (Reuters) – A Moroccan court on Tuesday handed a four-month suspended sentence and a 500 dirham fine to Moroccan journalist and rights activist Omar Radi on charges of insulting a judge on Twitter, in a case that outraged advocates of free speech in the country.

Radi, 33, tweeted last April that the judge was working under orders when he gave heavy sentences to leaders of protests that took place in northern Morocco in late 2016 and early 2017 over the country’s social and economic woes.

“I was expecting to be acquitted as I am not guilty and was only expressing my own opinion,” Radi told Reuters after the verdict. He said he will appeal the verdict.

Local rights groups have decried the increasing use of the penal code in trying free speech cases instead of the more lenient publishing code, which has had no provision for imprisonment since a reform in 2016.

“He should never have been put on trial in the first place or sentenced for expressing peaceful views on social media. This sentence reinforces the message that anyone in Morocco who stands up for human rights will be punished,” said Amnesty International in a statement.

The prosecutor said Radi’s tweet was directed at the judge in person and not the judiciary. Radi and his lawyers denied that.

Radi was released on bail on Dec. 31 after spending five days in prison. His case triggered a wave of solidarity by Human rights activists and groups including Morocco’s Freedom Now, Human Rights Watch and others which all demanded his immediate release.

Moroccan courts have in recent months sentenced a dozen individuals to prison terms of up to four years on charges that include insulting constitutional institutions or public servants and inciting protests, according to rights activists.

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