May 4, 2015

Omaha African-Americans react to riots in Baltimore

Protestors took to the streets hours after Freddie Gray’s funeral in Baltimore this week burning buildings, looting, assaulting police and bystanders.

Could it happen in Nebraska?

If a situation like that happened here, Willie Hamilton with Black Men United says Omaha’s African American community would likely react the same way.

Hamilton says there are things others not in that community can do to help ease the tension.

“I think awareness there is a situation and acknowledging that we do have departments across the country that participates in that type of behavior. I’m hoping that Omaha would not fall in that situation and that we would be proactive. I do think we are doing things that are proactive. I’m hoping the Chief would be ahead of this and confront it head on if we would have an incident like this. I think the Chief would.”

Hamilton goes on to say that the riots that happened in Baltimore, Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City can easily take place here if we are not proactive and making sure there is a good relationship with the Omaha Police Department and the African-American community.

Handcuffed suspect takes control of SHP car, takes off, arrested after spike strips flatten tires

Police car lightsA handcuffed suspect arrested for speeding on Interstate 80 in western Nebraska and placed in the front seat of a State Highway Patrol cruiser took control of the cruiser and sped off, leading to high-speed chase that ended only when the patrol car ran over spike strips.

The patrol reports a trooper stopped an eastbound car for driving 112 mph in a 75 mph zone just west of North Platte on I-80.

The trooper handcuffed the driver, 24-year-old Jacob Barrickman of Henderson, and put him in the front seat of his patrol car. The passenger in the car, 23-year-old Brianna Hampton of Bullhead City, AZ, was handcuffed and placed in the back seat.

According to SHP, the handcuffed suspect took control of the car and took off.

Another trooper and a deputy sheriff from Lincoln County pursued the stolen patrol cruiser. The pursuit reached 130 mph, ending near the Cozad exit after stop sticks flatten three of the four tires on the cruiser.

The search of the vehicle discovered 1.1 pounds of methamphetamine stuffed in a duffle bag in the back seat of the car.

The two were arrested without incident.

Barrickman has been jailed in Lincoln County on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver, Vehicle Theft, Escape, Flight to Avoid Arrest, Willful Reckless Driving and Speeding.

Hampton also is a resident of the Lincoln County Jail and faces charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver.

8th Circuit holds off, will wait for Supreme Court same-sex ruling

The 8th United States Circuit Court of Appeals is deferring to the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Nebraska had been scheduled to defend its definition of marriage, which prohibits same-sex marriage on May 12th during a hearing in Omaha. Missouri, South Dakota, and Arkansas, all with similar marriage definitions, are also part of the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday for and against similar measures in four other states. It is expected to hand down a ruling at the end of June.

The 8th Circuit announced today it would hold off any further consideration of the cases.

Nebraska and the other states appealed to the full circuit after federal judges struck down their bans on same-sex marriage.

The decision by the circuit court avoids an odd legal situation in which states would be arguing before a federal appellate court after the Supreme Court had heard arguments on the issue.

Law professor says Supreme Court could issue two-prong ruling on same-sex marriage case

A constitutional law professor from Nebraska expects Justice Anthony Kennedy to be the deciding vote in the same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court.

And Creighton University Professor Michael Fenner says the court could issue a two-prong ruling.

Fenner points out Kennedy has written all the opinions handed down by the United States Supreme Court the past dozen years on same-sex issues and has come down in favor of gay rights.

“But, this one’s different,” Fenner tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “In the last opinion that he wrote he talked about how the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) interfered with state’s rights and he threw in a sentence about how the states have traditionally regulated and defined marriage.”

Fenner says he couldn’t tell by listening to the oral arguments on Tuesday which way Kennedy is leaning since Kennedy noted one man-one woman has been the definition of marriage for a millennia, yet he also mentioned the dignity of the individual and the impact on the adopted children of same-sex couples.

Fenner says Kennedy is likely the key vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts also a possible key vote in the case.

Though the case is often characterized as a case to determine whether states can define marriage or whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage, another issue is at play.

In fact, that other issue could hold sway, according to Fenner.

The court will also decide whether states that ban same-sex marriages have to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in states where it is legal. In other words, can a same-sex couple married in Iowa seek a divorce in Nebraska after a move across the state line even if Nebraska prohibits same-sex marriages?

“The issue in the second case is only an issue if the Supreme Court upholds laws against same-sex marriage,” according to Fenner. “There’s some speculation that’s why they took the second case, because they were going to say that states can forbid same-sex marriage, but they have to honor a same-sex marriage performed in a state where it is legal.”

A ruling is expected at the end of June.

Hubbard man charged in strangulation of wife

HandcuffsA northeast Nebraska man is charged in the slaying of his estranged wife.

Twenty-seven-year-old Rogelio Pablo-Morales, of Hubbard, was charged with murder on Tuesday in the death of 21-year-old Margarita Morales of South Sioux City.

Authorities say the woman was strangled on April 19th in Sioux City, Iowa.

While Pablo-Morales was initially charged with second-degree murder, that charge has been upgraded to first-degree murder.

If convicted, he would face a mandatory life prison term.