Summer & More K9 Deaths But First…

Summer & More  K9 Deaths But First…

Before I begin detailing the 2017 senseless, heat-related K9 deaths and one K9 who was mysteriously murdered, I want to do an update on several deaths from the summer of 2016.

I first wrote about the hot car death of K-9 Lina, an officer with the Madison County Sheriff’s department in November 2016,  The Senseless Death of K-9 Lina….Part 1

I knew there would be the second part because no decision had been made regarding disciplinary action or charges against the handler who had forgotten about her in a hot patrol unit parked in his driveway. Little did I know how convoluted her story would become until it began unfolding. I eventually wrote four parts because I wanted the public to know how some departments dismiss a hot car death as “an unfortunate accident”. The negligent handler might receive a minor disciplinary action but charges aren’t usually brought and if they are it’s typically a misdemeanor. The reasoning behind the prosecutor’s decision (with department input) basically comes down to negligence versus intention. Was the handler negligent? If the parties involved believe this then the K9s death is ruled accidental. If they believe the handler had intent then it’s criminal. I agree there’s a difference between intention and negligence for clearly in most cases but not all,  the K9s death was not the handlers intent. However, prosecutors and departments cannot continue to dismiss these deaths as unfortunate accidents and therefore deem the handler simply negligent. They must be held to a higher standard to protect their partners. These deaths are preventable and illustrate acts of wanton negligence or over-reliance on technology to protect the dogs when in reality, it is the handler’s responsibility. When an officer is partnered with a K9, they become just as close as a human partner. Would they lock their human partner in a vehicle for hours? With no means of escape? Unequivocally the answer is no. And if they did? The charges would be much harsher than a low-level misdemeanor and their careers would instantly end. Yet the powers to determine time and time again that the K9’s death is negligent accompanied by a plethora of excuses for the officer; overworked sleep deprivation ~ the list is endless.

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The September 9, 2016, hot car death of K-9 Lina was deemed an accident. Matt Durrett, 4th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney announced on September 23 that he was not charging Deputy Cornelison. To his credit, on September 26, Sheriff Phillip Morgan took disciplinary action for K-9 Lina’s death:

Deputy Cornelison will:

  1. Be suspended without pay for 60 days.
  2. Be removed from the K9 program.
  3. Be decertified as a K9 Handler.
  4. A letter of reprimand will be placed in his file.
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Sheriff Phillip Morgan

The community rallied around the deputy by forming a Facebook support group and collecting funds to help him while on the unpaid suspension. Finally, on November 12, a memorial service for K-9 Lina was held. Yet her name wasn’t on the MCSO Memorial Page.

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She was only two years old.

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Now…

On January 1, 2017, Madison County had a new sheriff,  Sheriff Rick Evans.

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K-9 Lina is finally listed on the MCSO Memorial page. In June 2017, a new K9 handler was announced on the MSCO website. Former Sheriff Phillip Morgan kept his word about having heat-sensing equipment in the K9 vehicles:

Clint Ham, is our new K-9 Handler, he has been partnered up with Kandy, and equipped with a new vehicle which has been paid for with 100% drug forfeiture funds, the vehicle is equipped with all the latest equipment, including heat sensor/alarms which will signal the handler if the temperature in the vehicle rises to a dangerous level, in addition it will roll the windows down, and will activated lights and siren if the condition is not corrected. Kandy from all indication will be an outstanding asset to the Madison County Sheriff Office.

As for Deputy Jonathan Cornelison? He has been promoted and is now Corporal Cornelison.

K9 Lina Cornelison

 K-9

The first to sense the hostility of a suspect,

The first to react to protect his master.

The first to enter where danger lurks.

The first to detect the hidden intruder.

The first to take action against violence.

The first to sense his master’s joy.

The first to know his master’s sorrow or fear.

The first to give his life in defense of his master.

The last to be forgotten by those who work with others like him.

They know him as a “Partner,” not just an animal.

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Lina, we haven’t forgotten… 

 

And No One Spoke For Her…

And No One Spoke For Her…

**Update** I learned on October 26 that when imposing the 60 day sentence minus 17 days already served on the man who raped his own daughter multiple times, Judge John C. McKeon also allowed this incestuous rapist to serve the 43 days at HIS DISCRETION! The BEST thing that could happen to this 12 year old girl that NO ONE spoke for is to get as far away from Montana as possible and never look back. I pray she has a relative in another state because her mother, grandmother, court and Montana ALL failed her.

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As a survivor of horrific childhood abuse ~ physical, emotional and sexual,  I think I’m qualified to chime in on a recent case in Montana that makes me question if the system has evolved at all in the past 30 years. When I was a little girl children had no rights; we were like chattel. We “belonged” to our parents and therefore were not given the right to speak or defend ourselves. Even if by some miracle we were given the opportunity to do so, a few simple words from a parent would negate anything we said.

This particular case involved a 40-year-old man who raped a 12-year-old girl multiple times. The victim? His own daughter.

Her life will never be the same I guarantee. With counseling and a strong support system she *might*  move past it to lead a productive life but make no mistake  ~ “it” will never truly leave her. Instead, the insidious evil of her repeated rape will remain buried within her soul and without rhyme or reason will rear its ugliness when least expected. be594676b96285c1216c20e61941f49a

The district attorney, whom I commend, had an arrangement with the defense attorney for  the father to serve 25 years in prison. As this predator  (who admitted to raping his daughter (3) times) stood before the bench on October 4, 2016, he expected to be sentenced to 25 years. However District Judge John C. McKeon shocked everyone by imposing a sentence of 60 days with 17 days credit for time served.  This despicable,  abhorrent,  predatory creature masquerading as a man will serve 43 days for violating a child, HIS child, in one of the most egregious  ways possible.

As shocking as this is, the events surrounding this case become even more disturbing. The victim’s mother, who walked in on HER husband sexually abusing HER daughter, wrote the court in defense of her husband instead of her daughter. As he further justified the sentence, calling it “a just and proper decision”, Judge McKeon  cited statements from the victim’s mother and maternal grandmother, both of whom acknowledged the “horrible” nature of the crime while seeking leniency.

Judge John C. McKeon

“He needs help — not to spend 25 years locked up,” the victim’s mother wrote. His two sons need their father, she added, “even with very understandable restrictions.” She wrote that her husband “made a horrible choice” but a 25-year prison term was not the best punishment.”He needs help,” she wrote the court. “He has two sons that still love him and need their father in their lives, even with very understandable restrictions. I would like to see my children have an opportunity to heal the relationship with their father. Please give him the opportunity to work on fixing the relationships he destroyed. He is not a monster, just a man that really screwed up and has been paying in many ways.

The maternal grandmother wrote that the man’s “children, especially his sons, will be devastated if their Dad is no longer part of their lives.

Judge McKeon said the man’s family, friends, church, and employer had all voiced their support for him in court and that he weighed all these factors in handing down the sentence.

NO ONE SPOKE FOR THE VICTIM

Not her mother, maternal grandmother, social worker, an advocate for sexual abuse, a guidance counselor, church ~ no one!

Needless to say the community is outraged and a group called Justice 4 Montana started a petition  to Impeach Judge John McKeon which has over 99k signatures as of this evening.

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The petition names the father and shows his booking photo as do several media outlets. I however chose not to out of respect for the victim and must say I had to hunt for articles that did NOT give his name so that I could hyperlink. I also refuse to post a photo of a rapist. Interesting  article and video by People. ⬅︎

Reading about this travesty of justice took me back to a similar case  which ironically also happened in Montana. In 2007 a teacher at Billings High School, Stacey Dean Rambold, raped a 14-year-old freshman, Cherice Moralez over a 3 month period during the latter part of the year. Early in 2008 Cherice confided in someone from her church counseling group about the multiple rapes. One of her peers in the church group contacted Cherice’s  mother who notified police immediately. Despite coming from a loving and supportive family plus having a spunky  personality, Cherice began to deteriorate into the darkness as she became ostracized and bullied both at school and in the community. This beautiful girl who was just beginning to experience life, committed suicide on February 6, 2010, a few weeks shy of her 17th birthday.

Cherice Moralez

My heart aches for this poor girl.

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 The nightmare was far from over for Cherice’s family. Although  Rambold pled guilty,  District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings, Montana, sentenced the former high school teacher to 15 years in prison, with all but 31 days suspended, for sexual intercourse without consent. 31 DAYS in prison after suggesting the victim, Cherice, was equally responsible for the 2007 rape. Judge Baugh said that 14-year-old victim seemed “older than her chronological age.

Baugh said the victim looked older than her years and was “probably as much in control of the situation as was the defendant,” according to the Montana attorney general’s office.

Judge G. Todd Baugh Billings MT
Judge G. Todd Baugh, Billings MT

 After public outcry, Rambold was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Randal Spaulding in September 2014.

In an ironic and callous twist in 2015,  now retired Judge G. Todd Baugh had the lifetime achievement award bestowed upon him by his local bar association.

Judge G. Todd Baugh
Retired Judge G. Todd Baugh, Billings MT

Both of these cases are extremely disturbing as are other cases where rapists are given a slap on the wrist (Brock Turner comes to mind). Violate and degrade a child or woman and receive a “sentence” equal to serving a month in jail for unpaid traffic tickets?

The victims are often forced to sit through hours of testimony,  called to the witness stand to be cross-examined, often by a male, and forced to recall the horrific details of their abuse. When will we stand up for the youngest and most vulnerable victims of these unspeakable crimes and bring their perpetrators to justice, or is justice dead and gone?

The U.S. judicial system has victimized the victims for years by subjecting them to the process of investigations, only to allow rapists and pedophiles to get off on an ubiquitous technicality.

Is this what the justice system has evolved into?

And remember in the first case, no one even spoke for her!

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