Read story number one, then story number two, which person do you think should be disfellowshipped?
Story number one;
Sex offender makes his way to Oakland
City officials outraged that
By Heather MacDonald and Harry Harris, STAFF WRITERS
OAKLAND -- Freed sex offender Cary Verse -- drummed out of his first post-prison home in Marin County -- resurfaced Friday in downtown Oakland, registering at a transient hotel two blocks from City Hall, authorities said.
The state's second sexually violent predator deemed fit for release left the Fireside Motel, in unincorporated Mill Valley, late Wednesday after his presence created a furor and prompted protests. As required by state law, Verse registered Friday with the Oakland Police Department.
City officials vowed to fight the decision to move Verse to downtown Oakland, which has been the focus of an intense revitalization effort designed to attract more residents and businesses to the center of the city.
"It's not right," said Mayor Jerry Brown. "We're going to fight back."
Verse should have been released to Contra Costa County, where he committed the crime that first sent him to jail, Brown said.
"We take care of our own, and Contra Costa County should take care of its own," Brown said, adding there are3,000 parolees and 7,000 probationers in Oakland at any one time.
"We want Mr. Verse to be able to make his way in life, but he should not do it in Oakland, where he is a stranger."
City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente said he asked City Attorney John Russo for an opinion on whether Oakland can force state officials to move Verse again.
"Oakland should not be a dumping ground," De La Fuente said.
Councilmember Nancy Nadel, whose district includes the Jefferson Inn, said housing Verse would be an extra burden that Oakland can not bear.
"If it's not safe for the people of Marin County, its not safe for the people of Oakland," Nadel said.
Oakland police officials said they were outraged the department was not notified as soon as Verse was relocated to Oakland.
Chief of Police Richard Word said the placement of Verse in Oakland was "appalling" and "troubling."
"Why Oakland? We feel more parole officers should be assigned to Oakland, not high-risk sex offenders," Word said in a statement.
"Mr. Verse should be placed in the county of his last commitment -- Contra Costa, not Alameda. We already lack the resources to monitor those high-risk sex offenders who are rightly placed in Oakland. Oakland does not need any more."
Verse wore a light yellow button-down shirt and black pants while registering with the police. He calmly sat in a chair and occasionally drummed his fingers on a notebook he later wrote in.
The controversy surrounding Verse's release prompted a Contra Costa judge to issue a gag order requiring authorities not to discuss where they planned to release him or the rationale behind their decisions.
Verse declined to answer questions after registering, citing the gag order, but added he would be glad to respond once it was lifted.
"It's not right that this has been done under a cloak of secrecy," Brown said.
Neither state officials nor representatives of Liberty Healthcare Corp., the state-contracted agency monitoring Verse's release, would discuss Verse's case or why he was relocated to Oakland.
Lt. Mike Yoell, commander of the Special Victims Unit, said the department's job would be to make sure Verse obeys the conditions of his release.
Noting all the restrictions placed on Verse, Yoell said he was probably among the most closely watched sex offenders in the nation.
"He's monitored 24 hours a day, he's hooked up to a Global Positioning System, he's subject to spot checks -- the monitors can check his apartment day or night and he can't go anywhere without checking in," Yoell said. "There are many more violent predators in Oakland who are more of a danger."
Verse's status will be reviewed by state officials in 12 months to see whether he needs such strict monitoring. He could be released or kept for another year, Yoell said.
A self-proclaimed devout Jehovah's Witness, Verse has been convicted at least three times for sex offenses, beginning at age 17 when he held a 14-year-old male teammate on his high school track team at knife point and fondled him in Contra Costa County.
Verse was also convicted of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old at the juvenile detention camp in Alameda County where he was sent after the first assault. After his parole in 1992, Verse was convicted of sexually battering a man at a homeless shelter in Richmond.
Four years later, he was sent to Atascadero State Hospital by a law allowing officials to continue holding sexually violent predators past their prison release dates by designating them mental patients.
According to officials with the state Department of Mental Health, Verse was praised for his progress in therapy and agreed to be chemically castrated.
Verse's new home, The Jefferson Inn, at 14th and Jefferson streets, rents single occupancy rooms for $55 per night. Weekly rates range from $240 to $280, depending on the room's amenities. The hotel is two doors down from the Elihu M. Harris State Office Building.
"It seems like people should get a second chance," said 28-year-old Bhavna Parminder while on her lunch break with friends.
Carol Hinol, an office worker from Vallejo, said she hoped Verse would keep to himself, as he did in Mill Valley.
"I read that he kept a low profile there, and I hope that's what he'll do in Oakland," Hinol, 42, said, smoking a cigarette outside the state building. "I'll definitely be looking over my shoulder though."
The police department will distribute flyers in the neighborhood surrounding the Jefferson Inn to alert people to Verse's presence, Yoell said.
Marcia Blackstock, the executive director of Bay Area Women Against Rape, said the outrage created by Verse's release would serve to warn residents of the area about Verse and put them on their guard.
"As if we needed one more sex offender in Oakland," Blackstock said. "The reality is that he has to go somewhere since he's out of prison. At least we know who he is and what he looks like. That makes him a lot less scary."
Story number two;
Driver gets 2 1/2 years in jail for killing friend: Victim's family upset
Saturday, February 14, 2004
EDMONTON - In one of Alberta's toughest recent sentences for a fatal collision, a judge imprisoned a contrite young driver for 21/2 years Friday for losing control of his car and killing a friend.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Blair Mason said Jason Cowan was going nearly twice the speed limit Sept. 29, 2002, when he skidded around a curve on Whyte Avenue near 112th Street and slammed into a street light.
Passenger Donovan Genge, 17, died in hospital from head injuries.
"The death of Donovan Genge is laid solely at the feet of Mr. Cowan, and he is responsible for that," said Mason, who convicted Cowan of dangerous driving causing death.
"It's a complete lack of lookout and consideration for the problems as presented by a difficult intersection, failure to apply the brakes and manage the vehicle -- indeed, driving it out of control."
Virtually every similar case in the province has been punished with some form of house arrest since the Supreme Court of Canada's landmark Proulx decision broadened conditional sentence rules in 2000.
But Mason said Parliament has raised the maximum penalty for this offence to 14 years in prison partly to let people know that "carnage on the highways (is) a serious problem in Canada."
In this case, "a conditional sentence would not be in keeping with the fundamental purposes and principles of sentencing," he said.
He also prohibited Cowan from driving for three years once he's released.
A police accident reconstruction expert testified during the four-day trial this week that he calculated Cowan's car was travelling 89 km/h as it entered the 112th Street intersection around midnight.
He agreed that figure could have been off by as much as 10 per cent.
Witnesses described the car going so fast that it rose up on two wheels before sliding over the curb.
"It didn't go by, it flew by," one man testified.
Emergency medical workers at the scene said Cowan admitted drinking beer earlier that night, but he acted normally and wasn't charged with impaired driving.
The 22-year-old man looked shell-shocked as he was led into a cell at the courthouse.
His family knew the Genges from attending the same Jehovah's Witness church.
Defence lawyer Brian Beresh said his client was "disfellowshipped" by the church following the accident.
He was allowed to attend services five times a week, but no one would speak to him.
Beresh asked for a six- to 12-month conditional sentence, arguing jail would be "highly inappropriate" for a young man who made "a momentary lapse in judgment."
He plans to file an appeal and try to get his client freed on bail.
But Crown prosecutor John Watson said later the sentence sends a message.
"If you're going to drive dangerously and someone is going to die as a result of it, expect the consequences."
Genge's parents told reporters they were pleased to see their son's friend convicted and held responsible for his actions.
However, they weren't pushing for jail and don't take any satisfaction from having him go to prison.
"We hold no malice at all," his father Terry said.
"We have all been young and done things we were lucky to get away with ... I feel sorry for Jason."
Cowan, who works for his parents delivering parts to car dealers, sent the family a letter saying he was sorry soon after the crash.
He repeated that apology in court before he was sentenced. Terry Genge said they've already forgiven him.
"We told him that. He knows there's forgiveness," Terry said. "It was an accident, maybe a careless accident ... he didn't go out to kill my son."
Near tears, his wife Sylvia said she hopes everyone learns a lesson from the tragedy.
"If you're old enough to have a driver's licence, then you should be able to drive in a responsible manner."