Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thugs Partying: The Kidnapping, Rape, and Murder of Kelly Donovan

Senior Airman Kelly Donovan
August 8, 1988 Kelly Air Force Base: Senior Airman Kelly Donovan failed to report for duty. The lieutenant in charge of the flight in a misguided effort to allow SrA Donovan more time to report, did not inform me until eight hours later. Although an Army Captain, I was officer in charge of a mixed Army and Air Force organization conducting a sensitive mission and due to this sensitivity, military personnel were declared deserters after just 24 hours of unauthorized absence instead of the usual 30 days. The lieutenant had just burned eight of those hours.

I immediately dispatched her sergeant to her barracks room to see if she was there and directed several individuals to start calling the San Antonio Police, Sheriff's Department, etc. A few minutes passed and a sergeant told me that the San Antonio Police had found the body of a young woman not far from the base in a secluded area. A short time later it was my duty to identify the body of SrA Kelly Donovan at the Bexar County Morgue. She had been stabbed multiple times and the police later told us that she had been raped.

Kelly liked to walk alone and apparently decided to go for a walk the evening of 7 August 1988. From their confessions and contemporary accounts, David Cruz and his friend Jerry Kemplin, saw Kelly as they drove home from a party where they had been binge drinking and using illegal drugs. They turned around, stopped, grabbed Kelly, and forced her into their pickup. Cruz and Kemplin drove Kelly to a secluded area, told her to get out of the pick-up, and demanded that she take off her clothes. Cruz raped Kelly twice and then asked Kemplin if he wanted to rape Kelly, but he refused. As Kelly lay on the ground crying, Cruz remarked to Kemplin, "That's all I need to do is go to jail for rape." Cruz then retrieved a knife and stabbed Kelly over twenty times resulting in her death.

David Cruz
As the days passed after the murder, Kemplin told Cruz that he could not stand the knowledge of what they had done and planned to go to the police. Cruz then called police and turned himself in. Cruz also gave police a detailed statement about the murder, as did Kemplin, who corroborated Cruz's confession.

Cruz was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for Kelly’s rape and murder. The State of Texas executed David Cruz via lethal injection on 9 August 2000, twelve years and two days after he murdered SrA Kelly Donovan. His accomplice Jerry Kemplin was sentenced to 65 years imprisonment.

I had not thought about Kelly in a long time. Perhaps the recent murders of young women who were out alone prompted me to remember Kelly 30 years later. I wondered then and still do what might have happened if Kelly had fought her kidnappers. Never let someone take you to a secondary location—they are death traps. This is particularly true if you are a woman, but applies to men as well. If you are a woman and you allow someone to take you to another location, typically the absolute best that you can hope for is that you will only be raped. If being raped is the best that will happen, think about the other possible outcomes.

I absolutely agree that women (and everyone else for that matter) have a right to go about their business in the world without discrimination, harassment, or violence. Recently there has been a social media debate over supposed victim-blaming and women's right to safely travel alone. One woman’s comment after a recent murder: “Every time you say 'be safe. Be aware. Do this.' It's not just the victim blaming that makes us so mad. It's that we already do that and men still murder us. This is not our fault. We are not to blame for the violence of men.” 

No person is to blame for the violent acts of another. Kelly had a right to walk alone without being kidnapped, raped, and murdered. I get it—in a perfect world we would all be able to go about our business without fear of becoming the victim of a violent crime. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect. I tell women the same thing that I tell men. Pay attention to your surroundings, train to defend yourself—unarmed as well as armed. Be extra cautious and vigilant in transit or fringe areas, particularly if you are alone.

Criminals typically do not operate openly in a crowd and they don’t like witnesses or commotion. Too many witnesses or obvious commotion might prompt someone to interfere or notify the police. For a criminal to successfully kidnap someone they have to get close to that person and take control of them through physical force or force cooperation through intimidation and fear. If this is happening to you, your “right” to go safely about your business is no longer relevant. You have a choice to fight where you are or try to fight later when your options are going to be significantly reduced.

Someone is kidnapping you and in eyes of the law, the only crime worse than kidnapping is premeditated murder. Given that he will spend a significant part of the rest of his life in prison if caught, from the kidnapper’s perspective there is little reason for him NOT to rape and kill you. As David Cruz said: "That's all I need to do is go to jail for rape." 

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. Your information will never be distributed.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Thugs in Uniform: A Home Invasion

Thug in UPS Uniform
December 2016 Houston, Texas. A thug dressed as a UPS driver forced his way into a home followed by three other thugs. In the video you can see the robber dressed in a UPS uniform at the door. As soon as the homeowner opens it, the man rushes inside despite the homeowner’s attempts to close the door. Once inside the home, the men assaulted the victim and fired at least one shot which didn't hit anyone. Two women inside of the home grabbed children and hid. The bad guys stole jewelry and some collectible firearms. The home owner had a fractured skull, concussion, lost 6 teeth, needed stitches in his lip, and required 28 staples in his head after the brutal beating.

You can see a video of this home invasion as well as a scenario from our Short Range Match based on the incident here. 

So how do you prevent this?

If you are not expecting a package and don't recognize your regular delivery man or woman, don't open your door. Look for the delivery truck in the street if possible. If you don't see a properly labelled delivery vehicle, don't open the door. Tell the delivery person to leave the package on your doorstep and retrieve it later. If they insist on a signature, simply tell the person to leave a proper notice of attempted delivery and that you will pick the package up at the local company office.

What if the thugs decide to kick the door open? Take a quick look at this video of a thug kicking open an exterior door. That is how easy it is to kick in a normally constructed residential exterior door. You can prevent this with heavy metal doors similar to the picture below or by reinforcing your exterior door. 

Metal Exterior Door
No human could kick in the door in picture. To reinforce exterior wooden doors, I personally installed the Strikemaster II Pro on the door jam and hinges. I did this as the house was being built and asked the builder to install them so it was relatively painless. Similar products are the Door Armor Max (formerly EZ Armor) that Armor Concepts produces and Door Security Pro. There are probably others on the market that perform a similar function. As I look at product reviews however, it is clear that some people find the simple install is not quite so simple so your results may vary. You can purchase these products from a variety of vendors.

You can also use these products to reinforce your interior doors as well. In this home invasion, the two women in the home managed to grab children and hide. Wouldn’t it have been better if all concerned could have retreated to a safe room as the would-be home invaders were busy trying to kick down the exterior door?

Everyone should think through scenarios such as this now and develop a plan based on your particular circumstances. In my house, someone yelling “SAFE ROOM!” is giving the command for everyone to instantly stop what they are doing and go to a secure bedroom. A reinforced bedroom door with a dead bolt (see below) provides a safe room you can retreat to if you are in another part of the house when someone attempts to break and enter. From there you can call 911 and prepare to take other necessary action.

Reinforced Interior Door
If someone does manage to defeat your exterior door and enters your home, they now have another barrier to deal with. It is unlikely that they will stick around and try to defeat a second door. If they do, having retreated into a safe room increases your chances of survival and builds the foundation of “reasonableness” for your follow-on actions.

But I live in a good neighborhood you say? Well so do I—many of us live in neighborhoods we would characterize as safe. I live in a gated community; however, that did not stop someone that looked and acted like a home invader from showing up in my driveway once (it actually turned out not to be a home invasion). Plan now so you will be prepared if the time comes to act.

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Thugs Shoplifting: Crossing the Line

June 2017: A judge sentenced Min Sik Kim, owner of the Pacific Quick Stop in Spanaway, Washington state to eight years in prison for second-degree murder after Kim fatally shot a would-be shoplifter in the back as he attempted to flee. Kim claimed the shooting was self defense; however, a surveillance video of the shooting did not corroborate Kim’s claim.

Prosecutors charged Kim with second-degree murder in the death of Jakeel Mason. Kim was outside the store when Mason attempted to steal several packs of cigarettes from behind the counter. The video showed Kim re-enter the store with a pistol in his right hand. Kim points the pistol at Mason, grabs Mason, and forces him further into the store. Mason puts both hands up and is not resisting. Kim then holsters the pistol and begins punching Mason in the face and the two men begin to fight. Mason takes Kim to the floor and both continue to fight for several seconds.

The video shows Mason was able to free himself and attempted to flee the store. Kim stood up after clearing himself from a shelf containing merchandise, then drew his pistol and shot Mason twice in the back as Mason neared the door. Mason collapsed in the doorway and died before medical aid arrived.

Kim told investigators that he pulled his gun out and shot Mason during the struggle. But prosecutors say the store's footage shows that Mason was no longer a threat to Kim and was running away when Kim fired.

A Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman said "This is a tough one because we can understand why the store clerk was on guard. His wife has just been shot there a month before during a robbery attempt and the whole family was upset about it.” Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a statement that "The defendant's frustrations are understandable, but his actions were not lawful, shop owners cannot legally shoot unarmed shoplifters attempting to flee."

Min Sik Kim confused mutual combat or fighting with self defense. Fighting is NOT self defense! Many people like Kim not realizing this, think they are “defending” themselves when in fact they are fighting. Self defense is about protecting your physical body, not your emotional well-being, nor as an excuse to vent your frustrations.

Defensive use of justifiable deadly force or "self defense" is a legal construct that requires three elements inclusively:

– Danger: Clear and present exposure

– Potential for great bodily harm – to the innocent, not the guilty; the potential for bodily injury which creates a high probability of death, permanent disfigurement, or which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ

– Immediate or otherwise unavoidable: It is happening now and you cannot avoid the danger

Using deadly force in self-defense is justified only when a person reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. You must stay within these parameters. If you do not, then you are no longer legally using force to defend yourself. Why you stepped outside these parameters is not relevant—you are no longer legally using force. Mason’s actions did not represent a threat of imminent death or great bodily harm at the moment Kim fired. This is where Kim stepped over the line and killed Mason without justification.

If you carry a firearm for personal protection, it is critical that you understand where your actions stop being self defense and instead make you the aggressor. If a post incident investigation finds that you crossed the line from self defense into assault or worse, you will probably be prosecuted.

There are several reputable, time-proven courses available to teach you the difference and to help you understand self defense law including those from Massad Ayoob and Andrew Branca and graduates from their instructor courses among others. In addition to teaching the law and justifiable use of deadly force, many reputable self defense instructors will also teach you how to avoid bad situations in the first place.

I suspect that were we able to ask Mr Kim if he could turn back the clock and spend the $500.00 or so for a comprehensive use of force course, we could easily guess his answer. If you carry a firearm for personal protection, it is incumbent upon you to understand the law and difference between self defense and fighting. If you ever find yourself in a use of force situation and cross the line from
self defense into something else, you will likely be prosecuted, convicted, and go to jail. Perhaps for a long time.

If you enjoy reading these please subscribe. The link is on the upper right side of the page. All that will happen is that you will receive an e-mail when I post an article. Your information will never be distributed.