Cherokee County teen shot by police sniper, parents speak out (GEORGIA)

By Wendy Saltzman

Oct 26, 2012 9:13 a.m.

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Andrew Messina in 2010

CHEROKEE COUNTY, GA (CBS ATLANTA) – The parents of a 16-year-old suicidal boy spoke only with CBS Atlanta News’ Wendy Saltzman after their son was gunned down by a police sniper in Cherokee County.

Lisa and Nick Messina said their son was killed at the hands of the officers they called for help.

According to his parents, Andrew Messina had a bad day at school and the pressure was so overwhelming, he grabbed a gun and threatened to kill himself.

Lisa Messina called the cops in desperation, hoping an officer would come talk to him. But what arrived was an army of deputies, an armored tank and a sniper.

"We would still be sitting there today if it weren’t for that very, very aggressive act that he made of ramming the gun and a pistol straight through a glass door at our officers," said Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison, on the day after the shooting.

Garrison painted a picture of a dangerous gunman taking aim at his officers, and defended his sniper’s fire.

"Had that officer not taken the action, there is a good chance one of those negotiators that was there who also has a family, also would not be going home today," Garrison said.

But the other side of this story has never been told before, a story about a boy described as a pacifist who some say was needlessly killed.

"Would you have ever called the police if you had known this could have happened?" Chief Investigative Reporter Wendy Saltzman asked Lisa Messina.

"That’s the one thing I would have done different today. I would not have called 911," she said.

Andrew Messina’s parents are speaking out for the first time to tell what they say really happened to their son on May 1, 2012. They say their son had just gotten a bad grade at school.

"He just got sad and kind of down on himself and talked about running away. And that discussion turned to ending his life. And I wasn’t home," Nick Messina said.

"It just happened so fast, and then he went upstairs. He has the gun in his hand, and he had bullets in the other hand," Lisa Messina continued.

Andrew Messina picked up the phone and called 911.

"I need you to get away from him if you think he is going to shoot you," the 911 operator said on the call.

"I think he is going to shoot himself," Lisa Messina replied.

The operator told her to get out of the home, and Lisa Messina asked, "How many cars are coming? Just one, right?"

"I’m not sure," the operator replied.

But next thing they knew a slew of officers arrived.

"They brought an army to take out a 16-year-old boy. To kill a 16-year-old boy," Nick Messina said.

The teen was inside his home alone with no hostages. He had a 357 Magnum in his hand and was drinking and threatening to kill himself. He took a video of the events inside the home, including this conversation speaking to his father on the phone just minutes before he died.

"You can’t find anything worth living for with me?" Nick Messina asked his son.

"I don’t know," Andrew Messina replied.

"Really?" Nick Messina asked.

"I do know personally I really don’t want to live. So you should just let this happen if you really love me," his son said.

Law enforcement negotiators soon cut off that call and put their negotiator on the phone with the teen.

"They are still standing out there," Andrew said. "Go away or do something, the tension is killing me."

Deputies in combat gear surrounded the home, with the frightened teen inside.

"We thought that they would (be) experts in being able to diffuse the situation. And that was not what happened. Instead of the fire being put out, they brought gasoline," Nick Messina said.

On the negotiation call, Andrew Messina said he wasn’t involved in a riot, rather he was angry.

"Is that a riot shield? Yeah, that’s a riot shield," he said. "This isn’t a riot, this is one person who is pissed off."

On the call, Andrew Messina also begged negotiators several times to speak with his father.

"Hey, where’s my dad? Isn’t he supposed to be here?" he said.

At the time, Lisa and Nick Messina were down the street, just a few feet away.

"That just bothers me more to think that my son was in here, by himself, minutes before his death, asking for me," Nick Messina said, crying.

About 15 minutes before the fatal shot, Andrew Messina’s parents saw sniper Jason Yarbrough walk past them in camouflage, with his riffle over his shoulder.

"I couldn’t believe the gun he had," Lisa Messina said. "I said, ‘Whoa, where is he going with that gun?’"

Yarbrough set up across the street in a neighbor’s yard, which he estimated to be 65 yards from his target. The sniper scope, focused on the front door, helped him to see clearly as if he was holding a gun from just five feet away.

"A minute later we heard this horrendous cannon shot and he was dead," Nick Messina said.

"It was absolute shock and numbness, like no, there is no way they shot him. But they did," Lisa Messina continued.

The sheriff said the teen made an "aggressive gesture" that caused a sniper to fire his weapon to protect law enforcement officers.

But new evidence presented only to CBS Atlanta News by the Nick and Lisa Messina’s attorney may tell a different story.

"We have not been able to find any justification whatsoever for that Cherokee County Sheriff sniper to shoot Andrew Messina. Zero," said attorney Chuck Pekor.

Pekor is a former federal prosecutor and a former cop who has been scouring through the case to uncover evidence that Andrew Messina didn’t need to die.

"There is nobody in there with him. There is nobody at risk except himself. You just give it time, just wait," Pekor said.

The standoff had gone on a little more than an hour when Andrew Messina was killed. The sheriff justified the fatal shot, saying the teen threatened his officers.

Andrew Messina was inside the house holding the gun, and hit the top pane of glass with the gun. Negotiators were standing outside the house behind a wall around the corner from the door.

In the Georgia Bureau of Investigation report, Yarbrough said he heard a "pop" that sounded like a gunshot and he observed Messina through his riffle scope pointing the pistol at deputies.

"Not a single officer out there, not a one, ever saw the gun come through the hole where the break was," Pekor said, citing the GBI report.

Pekor argues that any trained law enforcement officer would know the difference between breaking glass and a 357 Magnum being fired. And not a single shot was ever fired from Andrew Messina’s weapon.

And Pekor says there’s another problem.

"He pretty much had his back to the negotiation team when he was shot. How could he possibly have been threatening them?" Pekor questioned.

The bullet came through the door while Andrew Messina was inside the home. The autopsy report says Andrew was shot in the right side of his abdomen, and the bullet exited the left side. According to that description, the teen was facing the opposite direction from where negotiators were outside the home.

Yarbrough was on the scene less than 20 minutes before he pulled the trigger and admitted he didn’t even know if there was a hostage inside.

Pekor and others are concerned the sniper acted in haste, without being properly briefed that Andrew Messina was a suicidal teen, not a hardened criminal.

"Obviously it was an act of aggression against him. And my perception of the situation was that he was not, himself, being aggressive," said Susan Ehtesham, one of Andrew Messina’s former teachers.

"Would this make you hesitate to call the police?" Saltzman asked neighbor Leeanna Tucker.

"I would never call them for help now," she replied.

An internal investigation by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney both found there was no criminal wrongdoing by Yarbrough.

Saltzman made numerous attempts to interview the sheriff, the sniper and the commander on the scene, but the sheriff’s office refused, saying "The case is closed."

But it’s far from closed for the family who has filed notice of their intent to file a lawsuit against the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.




Previously in a post I had said that I would support RON PAUL as a write-in for the Presidential Elections in November of this year (2012).

I have since researched and listened to video’s and other information that would lead me to believe and support


This change has come about primarily because he IS on the ballot (vs. a write-in)

Below is some video and information on GARY JOHNSON (Libertarian).  Please view and make an informed decision BEFORE everybody runs to the polls to put a democrat or republican back in the White House!

That is something that I do not believe that this Country can withstand anymore at this point.  The time for the change has to be NOW NOT LATER – There may not be a “Later”.


Gary Johnson has been an outspoken advocate for efficient government, balanced budgets, rational drug policy reform, protection of civil liberties, comprehensive tax reform, and personal freedom. As Governor of New Mexico, Johnson was known for his common sense business approach to governing. He eliminated New Mexico’s budget deficit, cut the rate of growth in state government in half, and privatized half of the state prisons.

Drug Policy Reform

Despite our best efforts at enforcement, education and interdiction, people continue to use and abuse illegal drugs.

The parallels between drug policy today and Prohibition in the 1920’s are obvious, as are the lessons our nation learned. Prohibition was repealed because it made matters worse. Today, no one is trying to sell our kids bathtub gin in the schoolyard and micro-breweries aren’t protecting their turf with machine guns. It’s time to apply that thinking to marijuana. By making it a legal, regulated product, availability can be restricted, under-age use curtailed, enforcement/court/incarceration costs reduced, and the profit removed from a massive underground and criminal economy.

By managing marijuana like alcohol and tobacco – regulating, taxing and enforcing its lawful use – America will be better off.  The billions saved on marijuana interdiction, along with the billions captured as legal revenue, can be redirected against the individuals committing real crimes against society.

GARY JOHNSON will END the War on Drugs (Video)

Gary Johnson 2012: End the Drug War Now (Video)

Civil Liberties

Civil liberties are so foundational to America that the first eight amendments to the Constitution address them directly. These amendments enshrine government’s duty to protect individual liberties, including the rights to free speech and free association.

But today, government has created for itself sweeping powers to monitor the private lives of individuals and otherwise intrude upon our daily activities, our households and our businesses. The extent of the government’s reach today would be unrecognizable to the Founders.

Much of the recent erosion in civil liberties has occurred in the name of national security. But we can – and must — combat threats to our safety while adhering to due process and the rule of law.

Gary Johnson This Is Your Freedom (Video)

THE FREEDOMS ON WHICH AMERICA WAS FOUNDED are now under attack from the very people charged with protecting and upholding them.
  • The PATRIOT Act should be repealed, which would restore proper judicial oversight to federal investigations and again require federal investigators to prove probable cause prior to executing a search.
  • Habeas corpus should be respected entirely, requiring the government to either charge incarcerated individuals with a crime or release them.
  • The TSA should take a risk-based approach to airport security. Only high-risk individuals should be subjected to invasive pat-downs and full-body scans.
  • The TSA should not have a monopoly on airport security. Airports and airlines should be encouraged to seek the most effective methods for screening travelers, including private sector screeners. Screeners outside of government can be held fully accountable for their successes and failures.

The above post from his website is just a sample of what GARY JOHNSON has to offer.  Please go to his site and review all information available.

Humphrey Marshall (1812-1872)

1809 –  . Senator Humphrey Marshall vs. Representative Henry Clay

At the Kentucky General Assembly, Clay introduces a resolution requiring members to wear homespun suits rather than import their duds from Britain. Only two members voted against the patriotic measure. One of them, Humphrey Marshall, was not a fan of Clay’s politics… or his fashion sense apparently. Clay challenges him to a duel. Clay grazes Marshall once just below the chest, while Marshall hit Clay once in the thigh. Both men live.


The papers of Humphrey Marshall (1812-1872) span the years 1771-2002, with the bulk of the material dating from 1846 to 1856. The papers are arranged alphabetically by type of material or topic and chronologically therein. All of the papers are photocopies and micofiche except for one 1867 letter.

The majority of the collection consists of the correspondence of Humphrey Marshall II (1812-1872), lawyer, army officer, United States representative from Kentucky, and Confederate States of America representative from Virginia. Most of the letters relate to slavery, states rights, steam safety of river boats, protectionism for the hemp industry, and Kentucky politics.

The collection also features letters between Marshall and Matthew Calbraith Perry, 1853-1854, pertaining to keeping American ships in Chinese waters to protect Western lives and property during the Taiping Rebellion. Marshall served as commissioner to China at the time. Other letters from the period contain references about American trade with China. Microfiche of executive documents in a House of Representatives file contain additional correspondence relating to Marshall’s stint in China as well as letters relating to Perry’s naval expedition to Japan.

The correspondence files also contain a few letters of other members of the Marshall family, including Marshall’s son, Humphrey Marshall III. He wrote several letters in 1921 in defense of his father’s reputation after an unflattering article appeared in the Louisville Herald. An item worthy of mention is a letter dating September 12, 1840, of I. H. Holman, who was present at the Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812, responding to the elder Marshall’s questions about the conduct of William Henry Harrison during that battle. Correspondents include John H. Aulick, John J. Crittenden, Jefferson Davis, Millard Fillmore, Walter Newman Haldeman, Isham G. Harris, George Law, John McLean, Matthew Calbraith Perry, William B. Reed, Alexander Hamilton Stephens, Bayard Taylor, and Daniel Webster.

Other papers in the collection treat Marshall’s service in the Mexican War, his legal career, and his speeches while serving as a member of the House of Representatives. The collection contains two diaries of Marshall. The first pertains to his tenure as commissioner in China, and the second documents his flight from Richmond on April 2, 1865, the day the Confederate capital fell, and his subsequent travels through the South. The collection also includes a few papers of Supreme Court Justice John McLean, including his autobiography. Marshall was interested in writing a history of McLean’s life. Featured as well is a file containing a letter of Patrick Henry to George Rogers Clark and a Virginia land grant issued by Henry while governor. Many of the items in the collection include notes and emendations by the donor, William E. McLaughry.


Kentucky’s Egregious Death Penalty

Published: October 24, 2012

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights voted unanimously last week to recommend that the state abolish the death penalty.

There is every reason for Kentucky to take the advice and become the 18th state to prohibit capital punishment.

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The death penalty in Kentucky is colossally unfair, costly and riddled with constitutional error. From 1976 through last year, of the 78 people sentenced to death in the state, 50 had their sentences overturned on appeal, with 15 of those for prosecutorial mistakes or misconduct.

In December, a report conducted by the American Bar Association based on a two-year review by a team of lawyers, professors and former members of the State Supreme Court found enormous problems with the state’s capital system.

Kentucky’s laws and procedures, the report said, failed to “protect the innocent, convict the guilty and ensure the fair and efficient enforcement of criminal law in death penalty cases.”

For instance, among the state’s 57 prosecutors’ offices, some “will charge every death-eligible case as a capital case” while most others do not. This means that the pursuit of the death penalty in Kentucky is largely arbitrary and capricious, determined by which office happens to be prosecuting the case.

Judges presiding over capital trials often give inadequate jury instructions so that almost half of the jurors interviewed in a long-term study did not understand that they could consider mitigating evidence at sentencing, which could allow them to avoid imposing the death penalty. The system does not protect the rights of people with severe mental illnesses who, the United States Supreme Court has said, cannot be sentenced to death. And there are no standards governing the qualifications for lawyers who handle capital cases, with dreadful consequences: 10 of the 78 people sentenced to death had lawyers who were later disbarred.

In 2010, a state court blocked Kentucky from executing anyone because of “substantial legal questions regarding the validity” of its lethal injection protocol. That ruling alone should be the end of capital punishment.

Kentucky can ensure that heinous criminals are no longer threats to society by sentencing them to life without parole. It is time for the state to end the death penalty.

A version of this editorial appeared in print on October 25, 2012, on page A30 of the New York edition with the headline: Kentucky’s Egregious Death Penalty.


NCADP Online Conference Video

NCADP Online Conference Video


The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is excited to present this live online conference exploring how communities can be safer without the death penalty. The conference will be broadcast over the web and will be approximately one hour in length. View the conference right here, on this page!

This will be a video conference with presenters live in California, Maryland and Massachusetts. We need your help to advertise this event.

Join us for a fascinating discussion addressing the question, “does the death penalty actually keep us safer?” with Charles Ogletree, Harvard University and founder of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Ron McAndrew, former warden of Florida State Prison who conducted that state’s final electrocutions, Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person exonerated from death row using DNA evidence, and Jerry Givens, former corrections officer from Virginia who put 62 men to death during his 17 years as an executioner.

Send us your questions in advance by tweeting them to #abolition2012.



For Many Kentucky Democrats, Federal Elections Mean Voting Republican



By Kevin Willis

Kentucky defies any easy label of “red state” or “blue state.” The commonwealth is a place that was once solidly Democratic at both the state and federal levels.

But now it’s common for parts of our listening area to send moderate and conservative Democrats to the General Assembly, while voting for extremely conservative

candidates for U.S. House, Senate, and President.

If you discuss politics with someone in Kentucky—and we’re talking a real hardcore political junkie here-it’s an issue that’s bound to come up eventually. In many parts of the region voters who are registered Democrats often cast ballots for politicians in federal races who are anything BUT Democrat.

The Bowling Green-Warren County area is a great example of this voting pattern.

Understanding the Present By Looking at the Past

Bowling Green is home to Rep. Jody Richards, a Democrat who served as Kentucky House Speaker longer than anyone in state history. Warren County is also home to U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Tea Party champion who is believed to be strongly considering a future run for the White House.

So what’s behind all of this?

“I think you have to go back and look at the history,” says Patsy Sloan, a Democrat who served as Bowling Green Mayor from 1987-1991, and was also the second Congressional District co-chair for Jimmy Carter’s 1976 Presidential campaign. “Kentucky has always been a kind of a hybrid state. Are we southern? Are we Midwestern? We’re neither one, completely. We’re a sort of hybrid mix of that, and our politics has reflected that.”

The south-central Kentucky region is filled with examples of communities that send moderate-to-conservative Democrats to Frankfort, and very right-wing Republicans to Washington.

Case in point: Barren County.

Glasgow Democrat Johnny Bell is running unopposed next month for his seventh term as a state Representative. But Barren County in 2010 went comfortably for Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul over Democrat Jack Conway, despite a Democratic registration advantage in the county of more than 7,000.

Bobby Richardson is a man who knows these facts well. Richardson is the embodiment of the old-school, southern Democrat. He represented Kentucky’s 23rd House District, which covers Barren and part of Warren counties, from 1972 to 1990. He served as Speaker of the House during the 1982 and 1984 General Assembly sessions.

Reconstruction Resentment

Speaking to WKU Public Radio in his law office in Glasgow, Richardson said to understand Kentucky’s present political atmosphere, you need a bit of a history lesson. Richardson points out that while Kentucky never joined the Confederacy during the Civil War, it was still subjected to many of the federal government’s Reconstruction policies after the Union prevailed.

“Kentucky was occupied territory even though it hadn’t withdrawn from the Union. So the Republican Party was in the minority because of the anti-federal government feeling,” says Richardson.      

And in the 1860’s, being anti-federal government meant being anti-Republican, which was the party of Abraham Lincoln and Reconstruction. Southern Democrats continued to support state’s rights over centralized power in Washington, and many Kentuckians became what’s known as “yellow-dog Democrats”, or someone who would rather vote for a yellow dog than a Republican.

Bobby Richardson says for many Kentucky Democrats, voting for Eisenhower proved you could support a Republican without going blind.

For decades—more than a century, really—parts of Kentucky were a no-man’s land for the GOP. Local and state elections were decided during the Democratic primaries, with little or no Republican challengers to face in the general election.

“It wasn’t respectable to be a Republican probably until, maybe, 50 years ago,” says Richardson.

Many Kentucky Democrats Liked Ike

That started to change when World War II ended, and a victorious U.S. General—and Republican—named Dwight Eisenhower ran for the White House. In winning the Presidential election of 1952, Eisenhower lost Kentucky by less than 1,000 votes to Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Eisenhower won the Bluegrass State four years later when he was re-elected to a second term.

Bobby Richardson says it was a seminal moment for many Kentucky Democrats who pulled the lever for Eisenhower. What was once unthinkable for many Kentuckians—voting for a Republican—wasn’t the life-ending experience some had assumed it would be.

“What I’m saying is, “well, I voted Republican and I didn’t go blind,” the former Kentucky House Speaker says. 

Despite Republican gains in parts of Kentucky over recent years, a look at the state’s registration numbers would give the impression that the commonwealth is still a strong place for Democrats. According to numbers released this month by the Secretary of State’s office, there are 500,000 more registered Democrats in Kentucky than Republicans.

Still, Democrat and former Bowling Green Mayor Patsy Sloan says those numbers are misleading.

“The mere fact that you have this overwhelming Democratic registration really doesn’t mean a darn thing when it comes to Presidential elections, or Senatorial elections,” she says.

Local and even state races are still largely about retail politics, according to Sloan. Winning a seat in Kentucky’s General Assembly takes a lot of hand-shaking, baby-kissing, local parade marching, and speaking at civic organizations like the Rotary Club. Sloan believes people largely vote for state House and Senate offices based on personality–not ideology like they often do during Congressional or Presidential races.

“These local elections are just not ideology-driven. And more and more at the national level, each of the two major parties has been driven to its most extreme element.”

Kentucky Republicans Rule Washington, Dems Strong in Frankfort

Sloan says while Republicans at the national level have in recent years been able to count on Kentucky to vote for John McCain and Mitt Romney for President; and Mitch McConnell, Jim Bunning, and Rand Paul for Senate, Democrats have still been able to muster enough quality local candidates to maintain control of the Kentucky House, while also running the Governor’s Mansion in all but four years since 1971.

But if you talk to enough people in the commonwealth about state politics, you’ll probably hear at some point that a lot of Kentuckians who register as Democrats do so out of a sense of tradition, or family history. Patsy Sloan says many of those voters are the kind who will go Democratic at the local or state level, but often choose Republicans at the top of the ballot.

“They’re registered Democrats largely because of family, tradition, or history, or because that’s just the way it’s always been. But they’re more selective when it actually comes to voting, especially for national level offices.”

When you look at how Kentucky has gone in recent Presidential elections, a pattern starts to emerge. Democrats can win the Bluegrass State—but the last three Democrats to do so have been southerners: Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Democrat and former Kentucky House Speaker Bobby Richardson of Glasgow says there’s a feeling by some southern Democrats that the national party has often picked candidates who are too far to the left to win states like Kentucky.

“I think that in the Democratic Party that the pendulum swung very far to the left when we had Dukakis and McGovern as candidates,” says the Barren County lawyer.

Patsy Sloan says Kentucky Democrats could stand to have their own version of a Mitch McConnell.

To be sure, not every Kentucky Democrat would describe themselves as a moderate who’s upset with the national party’s Presidential nominees. There’s a diversity of thought throughout the state’s urban areas, college towns, and rural farmlands—just as there are conservative Republicans who eke out an existence in liberal strongholds throughout the nation.

The Mitch McConnell Factor

And how about this for bipartisanship: Democrat and former Bowling Green Mayor Patsy Sloan offered praise during her interview with WKU Public Radio for none other than Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Why? Because, Sloan says, regardless of your political affiliation, you have to give credit to McConnell for what he has done to make the Republican Party a factor in parts of the state where it was once irrelevant.

When asked if she wishes the Kentucky Democratic Party had a major national figure with the stature of Sen. McConnell, Sloan laughs.

“Well, of course I do!” she says. “But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”

Sloan admits that when she talks shop with fellow Democrats in the region, she sometimes expresses frustration about the number of Democrats who vote for conservative Republicans in U.S. House, Senate, and Presidential elections.

But she says she doesn’t let it get her down.

Being a political junkie, Sloan says, entails observing and analyzing all of the political process—even the parts you don’t personally like.


Grimes: 51,000 absentee ballots cast so far in Ky.


More than 51,000 Kentucky voters have cast absentee ballots ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

Absentee ballot info: Kentucky | Indiana

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Tuesday that’s on par with the count two weeks ahead of the 2008 election.

In Kentucky, voters who will be out of town or otherwise unable to get to the polls on Election Day can vote early by absentee ballots.

Besides the presidential race, Kentucky has a competitive congressional race in central Kentucky. Voters also will choose a Supreme Court justice from eastern Kentucky and state legislators across the state.

In some parts of the state, local races also are on the ballot.

Grimes, the state’s chief elections officer, hasn’t yet projected how many of Kentucky’s 3 million eligible voters will turn out on Election Day.

Read more:

Secretary Grimes Expands Efforts to Protect Election Integrity

Secretary of State
Secretary Grimes Expands Efforts to Protect Election Integrity

Press Release Date:
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Contact Information:
Lynn Sowards Zellen
Director of Communications
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes
(502) 330-9839
Email: [email protected]

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Chief Election Official, is rallying forces to prevent vote fraud in the November 6th General Election. Today, members of the Kentucky Election Integrity Task Force, headed by Grimes, met in the State Capitol to coordinate efforts to protect the integrity of the election. As part of Grimes’ initiative to broaden the approach to combating election fraud, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who is confronting similar issues in her state, also attended the meeting.

Because there are federal races on the ballot, in addition to the offices of Secretary Grimes and Attorney General Jack Conway, the United States Attorney’s offices in the Eastern and Western Districts are members of the Task Force. In addition, as a result of meetings with county clerks across the state and observations from past elections, Secretary Grimes is expanding Kentucky’s traditional defenses against vote fraud. Among other things, Grimes invited the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kentucky Commonwealth Attorneys Association, Kentucky County Attorneys Association, Kentucky County Clerks Association, Kentucky Sheriff’s Association, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Democratic and Republican Parties to join the Task Force.

“The need to preserve the integrity of elections is not specific to a particular county or state,” said Grimes, “and we welcome input and cooperation from all officials who share our commitment to protecting the right to vote. By bringing new members into the task force, we gain not only feet on the ground on Election Day, but also fresh ideas and perspectives on how to ensure our elections remain free and fair.” According to Assistant United States Attorney Ken Taylor, who has prosecuted election violations in Eastern Kentucky for the past decade, this year’s Task Force is “by far the most aggressive and active group I have seen.”

Noting the history of vote buying in Kentucky, Grimes warned would-be election manipulators that “our elections are not for sale.” And Tennant commended the Task Force for expanding efforts to protect the election process and showing that “unscrupulous people cannot chip away at our democracy.”

In addition to the Task Force members, Rep. Darryl Owens, Chair of the Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton and members of the State Board of Elections were on hand for the meeting and press conference.

Grimes, along with United States Attorneys David Hale and Kerry Harvey, encourages citizens to be alert on Election Day and report any suspicious activity. “Voters form the front lines of our fraud-prevention efforts,” said Grimes. “With their help, I am confident the integrity of our election process will be upheld.”

Leading up to the election, citizens may contact their county clerk or the State Board of Elections at 800-246-1399 or 502-573-7100 to express concerns or request election information. On Election Day, citizens can contact the Attorney General’s Election Fraud Hotline at 1-800-328-VOTE. The Hotline is open throughout the year during normal business hours and from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (EST) on Election Day. Conway encourages citizens to report election irregularities and said that, “Working together, we can ensure a fair and honest election for all Kentuckians on November 6th.”

Members of the news media covering the election are reminded that they may be in the voting room for the limited purpose of filming the voting process. However, as per OAG 88-76, the media may not conduct interviews with voters inside the voting room, record the identity of voters, or disrupt the voting process, a Class A misdemeanor. See KRS 117.236.


Making Communities Safer By Abolishing The Death Penalty: Live Internet Video

Former Executioners Tour Central Valley – Available for Comment

Watch Live:
Join the Conversation on Twitter: #abolition2012

BAKERSFIELD, Calif., Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As Californians prepare to vote on a measure to repeal the death penalty, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will present a live online conference exploring how communities will be safer without the death penalty starting at 11 a.m. Pacific time on Thursday, October 25, 2012. The event will be moderated by Professor Charles Ogletree, founder of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard University.

"This is a conversation that all Californians need to be a part of," said Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "Especially with the election coming up, we want to help people look at the resources that go into maintaining capital punishment and explore how those resources can be better spent to make our communities safer."

Joining the conversation will be Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person exonerated from death row using DNA technology, Ron McAndrew, former warden of Florida State Prison who conducted that state’s final electrocutions, and Jerry Givens, former corrections officer from Virginia who put 62 men to death during his 17 years as an executioner.

The interactive conference may be seen on the website and viewers are invited to submit questions to the panelists using the hashtag #abolition2012.

Former Executioners Tour Central Valley – Available for Comment

Givens and McAndrew are participating in the on-line conference as they traverse the Central Valley on a speaking tour in support of Proposition 34. The Proposition 34 ballot initiative will end the death penalty in California and redirect some of the savings to law enforcement efforts to solve unresolved homicides and rapes. The two are among eight former corrections officials who participated in executions across the country who have signed an open letter to the voters of California urging passage Proposition 34. Details may be found here:

SOURCE National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

PR Newswire (