Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Onion: Detroit Has One of America’s Top 10 Downtowns



Detroit ranked among America's top 10 downtowns


By Sarah Willets

(WXYZ) - Known around the country and even the globe as a city full of grit, crime, corruption and financial problems, Detroit is finally making a top 10 list that looks beyond that.

According to TopTenz.net Detroit has been ranked among America's best downtowns, coming in at number 9.

The site credits the beautiful architecture from the pre-World War II era, the downtown ballparks, along with excellent restaurants.

Here's a look at the top 10:

  • 10.) Milwaukee
  • 9.) Detroit
  • 8.) Seattle
  • 7.) Boston
  • 6.) Miami
  • 5.) Philadelphia
  • 4.) San Francisco
  • 3.) Chicago
  • 2.) Washington, D.C.
  • 1.) New York City

So what do you think? What are you favorite parts about Downtown Detroit? Any cities that should or shouldn't have made the list? Leave your comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter .


[From WEJB/NSU's Detroit File:

"Detroit: No-Name Clearances of No-Name Murders";

"Detroit: New Crime Stats Fail Smell Test; How Could Crime Go Down 7% Overall Last Quarter, While Homicides Went Up 31%?";

"Are White Gangs Making It Impossible to Drive City Buses in Detroit? Inquiring Minds Want to Know";

"Detroit: Buses are So Dangerous and Unreliable That Disabled Mom of 6 Traded Her House for a Minivan";

"Detroit: Three Men in Their 20s Allegedly Kidnapped and Gang-Raped Girl, 13, for at Least Three Days";

"Mysterious, Anonymous Detroit News Story About Arrest of Triple Shooting Suspect, Nasir Banks";

"Happy New Year, Detroit-Style: Club Manager was Killed, Trying to Break Up a Fight; FREEP Writer Knows Facts, but Refuses to Report Them";

"Detroit: Serial Killer is Murdering Prostitutes Who Advertised Online in Pairs, and Stuffing Them in Car Trunks";

"Blackberry: Detroit's Murder Bar—Demesha Hunt, Renisha Landers, and Now, Claudia Benson Last Seen Alive There";

"Detroit: Murder Up 12%, but 'Serious' Crime is Down; Broken Windows Policing is on the Way"
; and

"Detroit: Family of Murder Defendant Jacob Wells, Threatens to Murder Family of Murder Victim, Claudia Benson—on Camera!"]

Baloo: Domestic Policy-Making is So Bor-ing! Waging War is So Much Funner!

Washington Post's Melinda Henneberger Sympathizes with Lululemon Killer Brittany Norwood & Her Mother, While Ignoring Victim Jayna Murray and Her Mom

Murder victim Jayna Murray

Jayna Murray’s parents, Phyllis and David Murray


By Nicholas Stix

Reason and decency would require that an essay entitled, “Brittany Norwood, the Lululemon murder and a mother’s worst nightmare,” be about the suffering of Jayna Murray and the grief and rage of her mother, Phyllis. Then again, such an essay would be entitled, “Jayna Murray, the Lululemon murder, and a mother’s worst nightmare.”

The Washington Post’s Melinda Henneberger writes,

“Does Norwood deserve another chance? She showed no remorse during the trial, and no emotion when the verdict was read. So no, she probably doesn’t. But I can’t help hoping she gets one anyway, if only because I can’t bear the thought of another mother whose daughter is never coming home.”

Henneberger sounds like she’s engaging in an exercise in moral equivalence, which would be outrageous enough, but just as apparent double standards often hide something else, so, too, apparent moral equivalence often masks the elevation of evil above virtue.

Henneberger seems to be saying that Mrs. Norwood has as much right to see her daughter come home one day as Mrs. Murray. But that can’t be right. Mrs. Norwood’s daughter is a sadistic, racist, torture-murderer. Mrs. Murray’s daughter was the victim of the other woman’s daughter, and was, by all accounts, a splendid human being.

Henneberger’s exercise includes a picture of the killer and quotes from her mother, but no picture of the victim, or quotes from her mother.

Henneberger either suppresses or is ignorant of essential facts about the killer’s dark past, while exaggerating supposedly sunny aspects of it. She tells us that the killer had “no history of violence,” and that she “started a babysitting business and had just the day before walked through a rainstorm to retrieve her nephews from school, because their physician mom had to work late.”

Henneberger is quoting from the killer’s lawyer’s argument for granting her the possibility of parole, but lacks the decency to tell her readers that. Thus, unless they have studied the case, they may think that Henneberger is giving them an objective recitation of Norwood’s life, whereas if they knew she was parroting the killer’s attorneys, they’d know to take such sophistry with a grain of salt.

Even so, to paraphrase at least one Washington Post reader, who cares? How does Norwood’s having started a babysitting business as a teenager bear on whether she should be eligible for parole? Likewise, regarding her helping her sister the day before. Her sister is black; the person whom she tortured for 16 minutes, and on whom she inflicted at least 322 wounds using half-a-dozen different weapons was white.

Henneberger even goes so far as to suggest, surreally, that the area in Bethesda, where Norwood committed the murder, was as dangerous as diversitopian Baltimore.

The store is in a heavily trafficked suburban area, on a street The Post called “upscale,” a street where my kids come and go with their friends. They’re mean enough streets, though, that in the Apple store right next door to the Lululemon, employees heard Murray’s shrieks as the attack was in progress, and carried right on with their business.

“Mean enough streets”? Henneberger must have been writing those lines, in order to confuse readers from outside the region, and in order to pander to black racists, who fantasize that law-abiding whites are really all heinous criminals. Those Bethesda streets were among the safest in the region, until Lululemon transferred a black employee it suspected of being a thief from another store, instea dof firing her.

The managers—Jana Svrzo and Ricardo Rios—at the Apple store next door didn’t fail Jayna Murray because they were used to hearing people shriek in pain and beg for their lives on the Bethesda street outside, but because they, especially Rios, who was the senior manager, were despicable.

And yet, what if Bethesda did have “mean enough streets”? How would that excuse not calling the police to try and save someone you hear being murdered?!

As for Norwood’s history of violence, or lack thereof, she showed enough of her dark side to the white soccer teammates at SUNY Stony Brook that she stole from, to terrify them. Maybe, just maybe, they were on to something.

Later, she stalked an ex-boyfriend.

When Henneberger does quote Norwood’s attorneys with attribution, it is their specious claim that the killer is “neither a calculating killer or [sic] a deranged psychopath.” I don’t know about deranged, but Brittany Norwood is absolutely “a calculating killer [and] psychopath.” She planned the murder, lured her victim back into the store, tortured her in a way reminiscent of Saddam Hussein and his sons, spent all night putting together an elaborate cover-up, in which she and Jayna Murray were both victims of two masked men, and then tried to sell it all to the police.

Norwood clearly overestimated her own intelligence. Like so many blacks, she suffers from toxically high levels of self-esteem, which caused her to screw up.

On the thread following a previous Washington Post article on the case, a racist (presumably black) reader, “margaretthompson1,” maintained that Jayna Murray caused her own death. A black conservative reader, gbooksdc wrote a powerful rebuttal to her.

1/26/2012 12:14 PM EST
I remember what you posted.

Jayna had an _absolute_ right to her life. Absolute. Inviolable. Don't forget, she'd left the store for the day -- Brittany tricked her into returning on a pretense and instead of telling Brittany, you are just short, I'm going home, she returned. To help Brittany, out of the goodness of her heart. Because she was sweet and kind. But some people -- I know them, you appear to be one of them -- interpret sweet and kind as stupid and soft. And to them, the stupid and soft are weak, they are prey in this jungle of a world, they deserve whatever fate befalls them. But that is not the sentiment held by civilized people, that is a sentiment harbored by the antisocial. The pathological.

People like Jayna, regard her as naive if that works for you, are precisely the people that most need society's protection simply because we DO have so many people who are predatory and regard such people not only as easy victims but as deserving victims. Without people like Jayna, we actually do become a jungle. And when we catch a predator, we need to put them in serious, serious check to hopefully deter other predators from hurting more who are sweet and kind and trusting. In any event, I understand why you show _no_ sympathy towards Jayna. Being exposed to so much violence and hardship simply hardens a person. When you see the kind and trusting hurt and killed, you learn not to be kind. Take my advice, move away. Where you are is killing your soul.
I think gbooksdc gave margaretthompson1 too much credit. You don’t have to grow up in a diversitopia, in order to be so vicious. You can be a child of privilege, like Melinda Henneberger.

Henneberger didn’t engage in moral equivalence; rather, she put Brittany Norwood above Jayna Murray. She tries to sound kind and caring, but she is as hard-hearted in her way as the margaretthompson1s of the world are. Henneberger wants Norwood to have the opportunity to kill again.

Henneberger’s problem is not a lack of knowledge or experience. As a racial socialist and disciple of the Devil, her loyalty is firmly with the savage, racist, black killer, rather than her white victim.

It is heartening to see that, even at the Washington Post, of the 18 readers (not counting yours truly) whose comments the censors posted, only the last one supported Henneberger.

Brittany Norwood was a mother’s worst nightmare—the mother of her victim!

[Previously, on this case, at WEJB/NSU:

“Bethesda Cops: Black Yoga Store Worker Murdered White Colleague, Made Up Story about Masked Rapist-Killers, in Order to Avoid Jail for Thefts”;

“Black Bethesda Yoga Store Worker Brittany Norwood is Charged with Killing Her White Colleague, Jayna Murray: Five Videos”;

“Trial Date Set For Britanny Norwood, in Non-Hate Crime Murder in Bethesda, Maryland, lululemon athletica Store”;

“Reader Who Claims to Have Known Jayna Murray, Whose Killer Smashed Her Skull in for 20 Minutes in lululemon athletica, Has Compassion for the Killer, but None for Those Who Would Judge Her”;

“In Web Posts and Emails, Friends of Brittany Norwood, the Racist Lululemon Killer of Jayna Murray, Paint Mutually Contradictory Portraits of Norwood”;

“In 2007, Ex-Boyfriend Charged That Lululemon Murderer Brittany Norwood was Stalking Him”;

“Already in August, Lululemon Killer Brittany Norwood’s Lawyer was Playing the ‘Crazy Card’”;

“New Details in Grisly Lululemon Murder: Brittany Norwood Used at Least 4 Different Weapons to Kill Jayna Murray; Prosecutor: Crime was ‘Pre-Meditated’”;

Lululemon Trial of Brittany Norwood, for the Murder of Jayna Murray, Day 1: The Defense is Not Using the “Crazy Card,” but the “She Lost It Card”;

“The Desperate Struggle of Jayna Murray: Lululemon Murder Victim Tried to Escape, and was Alive Through Most of the Horrific Beating Brittany Norwood Inflicted on Her, Sustaining 322 Wounds (Washington Times)”;

“Lululemon Murder Trial, Day 2: A Bloody Video, in a Tear-Filled Courtroom”;

“The Lululemon Murder Trial, Day 3: The Apple Employees Who Heard the Murder, but Did Nothing”;

“Lululemon Trial: Is the ‘Crazy Card’ Off the Table for Jayna Murray’s Racist Killer, Brittany Norwood?”;

“Lululemon Trial: Rotten Apple; Computer Giant’s Employees Listened to the Murder Through a Shared Wall … and Listened … and Listened”;

“Lululemon Verdict in: Brittany Norwood Convicted of 1st-Degree Murder, for Killing Jayna Murray! Ice-Cold, Calculating Killer Faces Up to Life Until Parole”; and

“Racist, Savage, Remorseless Killer Brittany Norwood Inflicted 322 Wounds on Jayna Murray, but Killer’s Family Says She Has ‘a Heart of Gold.’”

“The Murder of Jayna Murray: Killer Brittany Norwood’s Family, Friends, and Defense Attorneys Made Ludicrous Attempts to Justify Granting Her the Possibility of Parole.”]

Houston’s Dekaney High School is Riot High



By Nicholas Stix


On the bright side, though principal Delic Loyde is black, she and many parents agree that matters have degenerated to a state of emergency. So, often the people running diverse schools deny that things are as bad as they are, and you can't fix something you won't admit is broken.


Dekaney's demographics are not surprising: Its student body is 62 percent non-Hispanic black, and 31 percent Hispanic.




Students: Another 'outrageous riot' at Dekaney High School

by Kevin Reece & Rucks Russell/ KHOU 11 News & KHOU.com staff


Posted on January 27, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 27 at 11:40 PM



SPRING, Texas – Police were called to Dekaney High School in northwest Harris County Friday after a brawl broke out in the cafeteria.

Spring ISD officials said the fight started between four students. But cell phone video obtained by KHOU 11 News clearly shows a chaotic scene with a lot more than four students involved.

Students who were in the lunchroom at the time said it was more like a riot.

"All these people came and just started hitting everybody," said Maya Rodriguez, a student. "After a while, I got hit and everybody just started fighting. So I hit back..."

Students were jumping on tables, yelling and throwing things.

"They had a riot at B lunch and it got outrageous," said Everiel Johnson, a student. "They started throwing milk. Innocent people were getting hit for no reason."

Dekaney's principal said she has seen enough.

"We have to have immediate solutions. We know that. We know that we have to do something quickly," Delic Loyde said.

Dekaney students and parents say they're fed up with the problems at the school and they don't think it's safe.

"We feel like this is getting out of control, way out of control," said one mom who didn't want to show her face. "And we just don't know, as parents, what to do or who to talk to."

The woman said her son was jumped in a Dekaney hallway on Thursday. She said another student had to be sent to the hospital, so she didn't let her son go to school on Friday.

"I feel like we're gonna lose a life if somebody doesn't do something to prevent these fights that are going on every day," she said.

Cell phone videos of several small-scale riots at Dekaney were posted to the Internet last year.

That's why Willie Mayes pulled his son out of Dekaney and sent him to private school.

"I'm coming home and there's news vans out here once a week. Apparently not being tough enough," said Willie Mayes. "I'm paying for him to go to private school just to be away from this."

[Thanks to reader-researcher RC for this story.]

Forbes: Home of Weenie Men and Affirmative Action Dominatrices

By Nicholas Stix


[Previously, at WEJB/NSU:


"Saturday's Mass Murder: 'Stop Snitchin'' and Demographics Make Buffalo a Diversitopia!"]


Back in August, 2010, in writing on the black-on-black mass murder outside a Buffalo club, I first encountered and reported on Wikipedia-like political correctness at Forbes. The respected business magazine had claimed that diversitopian Buffalo was one of the 10 best places to live in America. It had done this via the sleight of hand of confounding the violent, black-and-Hispanic-dominated city of Buffalo with its law-abiding, white suburbs.


Today, I took a wrong turn and once again stumbled onto Forbes' turf. It seems the magazine has an entire affirmative action ghetto just for women, called "ForbesWoman." The "ForbesWoman team" consists of women hired solely because … they are women, and who agitate for a business world in which women are hired solely because … they are women.


The topic at hand was Carol Bartz, a woman who was hired to be CEO of Yahoo, based on her eminent qualification of having, or once having had ovaries. Unfortunately, Bartz proved to be an ovarian cancer on the firm, which had already been in trouble before her hiring.


As soon as Bartz was fired, the usual suspects screamed "sexism!"


A Forbes staffer named Jeff Bercovici undertook to write on Bartz' firing, but he's so terrified of being called the "s"-word that he invited affirmative action Forbes hire, Jenna Goudreau, to chaperone him and take over the discussion, during which his deference got him a figurative kick in the groin.


I posted the following comment.


Jeff Bercovici,

You shouldn't have done this piece at all. You ooze fear at being called the "s"-word, and your fear makes you incompetent. After all, disagreeing with the party line could get you fired for "sexual harassment."

If anything, Bartz would have [been] fired sooner, had she been a man. The board held off, because it knew feminists would play the gender card, and weenies like you would go along, to get along.

So, we can't say that Bartz or any other woman failed as CEO, until we have a huge affirmative action program for unqualified females? And after we have increased the ranks of female CEOs by a factor of, say, 17, and men have spent years getting used to biting their tongues and never condemning incompetent females, while women circle the wagons for every incompetent female CEO, men in the media—neutered men like you, Jeff Bercovici—are suddenly going to grow a pair, and call a spade a spade?

And now, to Jenna Goudreau:

"JENNA: Studies have shown that assertiveness in women often reads as aggressiveness (read: 'abrasive,' 'bitchy,' etc.) and in men as strength."

You mean like the "studies" that show that women make 59 cents an hour for every dollar men make? Or the "studies" that show that one out of every four women will be the victim of either a rape or an attempted rape in college? Or the "studies" that show that there's an explosion of men beating their girlfriends and wives on Super Bowl Weekend?

English translation: Feminist propaganda has "shown that assertiveness in women…," blah, blah, blah.

And in the time-honored tradition of the feminist hack, after Bercovici submitted, you still gave him a lash ("flippant").

Forbes has gotten so PC!





Jeff Bercovici, Forbes Staff

I cover media, technology and the intersection of the two.

+ Follow on Forbes



9/07/2011 @ 12:19PM |5,455 views

Was Sexism A Factor In Carol Bartz's Yahoo Firing?

+ Comment now

Carol Bartz. Image via CrunchBase


You can practically set your watch by it: A powerful but polarizing woman loses her footing on the corporate ladder and the "Sexism!" cries begin. It's happening already with Carol Bartz, who got an unceremonious phone call yesterday notifying her that her tenure as CEO of Yahoo is over.

Like Cathie Black and Martha Stewart, Bartz is a strong-willed figure whose assertiveness has made her a target for detractors when things haven't broken her way. Might things have turned out differently if she had a power donut instead of a blond bob? Am I committing sexism right now by bringing up the bob? Do gender-influenced schadenfreude and actual discrimination always go hand-in-hand? I'm in treacherous waters here, so I'm bringing in a guest navigator who knows the shoals: my colleague Jenna Goudreau, part of our ForbesWoman team and a frequent commentator on these types of questions.


Move up Move down

11 images Photos: 10 Most Powerful Women In Media


JEFF: Jenna, does sexism need to be part of the discussion here? It's pretty hard to build a performance-based case for Yahoo keeping Bartz any longer than they did. The stock has been comatose. The strategy has been so amorphous that the board now has to hire consultants to figure out what it ought to be. How do you get from there to "scapegoating a woman"? Isn't the job of the CEO, male or female, to be the one who takes the fall when things go south?

JENNA: The unfortunate truth is that there are so few women leading major U.S. companies that when a woman as well-known as Carol Bartz is shown the door, sexism is one of the first words to surface. We all guessed this was coming. Investors weren't happy. In her defense, when I reached out to Bartz for inclusion on our recently published World's 100 Most Powerful Women list (she was No. 37), she highlighted what she had accomplished at Yahoo, saying that in 2010, it doubled operating income, operating margin and return on invested capital. That said, I think the sexism argument might also arise because of the conversation surrounding Bartz. Jeff, even you referenced her "salty" language in the lead of your piece yesterday.

JEFF: So I did. But her language is salty! Whatever they may sound like on the golf course, most CEOs don't tend to drop F-bombs on earnings calls or at tech conferences, as Bartz was known to do. And that seemed to work out for her for a while. It was kind of her calling card. The problem wasn't so much the language as the attitude that went with it. "Abrasive" and "alienating" were words that got used a lot to describe her management style. I know those are red-flag words, that there are a lot of male CEOs who are less than cuddly and don't get dinged for it. And I have no doubt her manner was in part a response to swimming in that world and competing with those tough-talking alpha males. Still, I'm at a loss for how to talk about an unusually sharp-tongued, sharp-elbowed female executive who was genuinely unpopular with her employees without coming off as at least a little bit sexist. And I'm also wondering: Is it possible that sexism informed the way people talked about/wrote about Carol Bartz but wasn't a real factor in deciding her ultimate fate?

JENNA: Studies have shown that assertiveness in women often reads as aggressiveness (read: "abrasive," "bitchy," etc.) and in men as strength. [N.S.: This line used to be a mere talking point in feminists' rants. I don't know when it was promoted to the level of "scientific truth."] I honestly don't know if sexism played a part here. Her departure may have been a bit unceremonious, though, if reports are true: A sudden firing by phone with no replacement lined up. What I'm more interested in is the macro perspective. The numbers have been pathetic for years, but now with Bartz out only 2.8% of the 500 largest companies in the U.S. are run by women. That's ridiculous. Seen another way, men run 97.2% of our biggest companies. Yesterday was just a bad day for America's leading ladies. BofA's Sallie Krawcheck, often called "the most powerful woman on Wall Street," also left her post.

JEFF: That's a pretty astonishing figure. I didn't realize it was quite that low. Covering the media business, it seems like I come across relatively a lot of female CEOs. Covering tech, not so much. One thing I think we can agree on: The more we enlarge the sample size of female business leaders, the easier it will be to tease out the instances of genuine sexism from those of garden-variety failure.

mayesolisShe seems to have managed to turn Yahoo into Compuserve. http://bit.ly/ohF6ZF

19 comments, 14 called-out

+ Comment now

Monday, January 30, 2012

Baloo: At the Post Office, the Customer is Always Wrong!

Mass Murder in Birmingham: Five Dead in Apparent Drug Rip-Off


Ravenn Carlton, center, wife of one of the five people found dead is comforted by Nakia Carlton, left, and Khalena Carlton, right, near the scene where five people were found dead inside a house in Birmingham, Ala., Sunday, Jan 29, 2012. Birmingham police discovered the bodies when they arrived to investigate a robbery call. Sgt. Johnny Williams said the incident happened about 3:30 a.m. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Jeff Roberts)


A Birmingham police car sits in the drive way as police investigate the scene where five people were found dead inside a house in Birmingham, Ala., Sunday, Jan 29, 2012. Birmingham police discovered the bodies when they arrived to investigate a robbery call. Sgt. Johnny Williams said the incident happened about 3:30 a.m. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Jeff Roberts)


By Nicholas Stix

Since Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper said, “It obviously appears to us this horrific crime was not a random act of violence,” that tells you that it was black-on-black crime. The authorities almost always tell us that obviously targeted black-on-white violence is “random”; that’s the giveaway that it’s black-on-white.

The tip-off that it was probably a drug house is the statement by neighbor Brenda Houston, 64, who said “her street was a quiet one filled with older residents who were friendly with each other. She said there was a constant stream of visitors coming in and out of the home, but that the residents never seemed to cause any disturbances.”

The oddest thing about the article, to me, is Houston’s statement, “They never had any trouble over there. I never seen the police over there. This was really strange that this happened. It wasn't like they were real rowdy.”

She should have seen the police over there. Were the entrepreneurs inside paying off the cops, or is the PD in black-run Birmingham that negligent?

* * *

Officers checking robbery find 5 dead in Ala. Home
January 29, 2012 2:52 p.m. ET
AP/Dallas Morning News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Police found five people dead inside a Birmingham home when they arrived early Sunday morning to investigate a possible robbery, authorities said.

Birmingham Police Sgt. Johnny Williams said officers arrived at the house around 3:30 a.m. Sunday after getting a call that a robbery was in progress and soon discovered the five victims. He told reporters that investigators are interviewing potential witnesses but so far have made no arrests.

"Someone out there knows more information," said Williams. "We know someone is going to do the right thing."

The victims were not immediately identified, nor was the cause of death released. Birmingham authorities launched a homicide investigation and police believe more than one person was involved in the crime.

"It obviously appears to us this horrific crime was not a random act of violence," said Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper.

Brenda Houston, who lives across the street from the west Birmingham house where the bodies were found, said the house had been rented for about a year and a half by a woman in her late 40s and her son and brothers.

"They would speak to us, and that's all we knew," she said. "We didn't know their names but they were always friendly."

Houston, 64, said her street was a quiet one filled with older residents who were friendly with each other. She said there was a constant stream of visitors coming in and out of the home, but that the residents never seemed to cause any disturbances.

"Most people are in a state of shock. They never had any trouble over there," Houston said. "I never seen the police over there. This was really strange that this happened. It wasn't like they were real rowdy."

[Thanks to reader-researcher RC for this story.]


Fort Worth: Left-Handed Killer Kwame Rockwell Sentenced to Die for Murdering Daniel Rojas and Jerry Burnett in 2010 Convenience Store Robbery


Murder victims Daniel Rojas, above, and Jerry Burnett, below



Convenience store killer sentenced to death in Fort Worth
By Dianna Hunt
Posted Friday, January 27, 2012
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH -- Convicted killer Kwame Rockwell was sentenced to death by injection Friday for the slaying of a 22-year-old store clerk in a pre-dawn robbery.

The jury of seven women and four men deliberated for about 14 hours over two days before rejecting defense attorneys' request that Rockwell be sentenced to life in prison without parole.


The Rojas and Burnett families


Rockwell sat silent and unmoving -- as he had through most of the trial -- as his sentence was read. Many of the jurors were in tears.

Relatives of the victims wept, too, including the parents of store clerk Daniel Rojas and the widow and sister of Jerry Burnett, a Mrs Baird's deliveryman who was fatally wounded.

Rockwell's relatives sat quietly as Rockwell's mother silently left the courtroom.

"This was a particularly senseless and coldblooded crime," said prosecutor Kevin Rousseau, who tried the case with Sean Colston. "I think the decision reached today was the only one that made sense under the law."

Rockwell, 36, part-owner of a used-car lot next to the Valero convenience store on the Mansfield Highway, was convicted last week of capital murder in the slaying of Rojas.

Key evidence against him was a chilling surveillance video that showed the hardworking Rojas and Burnett moving through their early-morning chores on March 23, 2010.

Three men wearing ski masks and dark clothes burst into the store; two were carrying guns, and one was carrying a gas can.

"It was probably the single most abhorrent piece of evidence we had," Rousseau said.

A left-handed gunman took just a few steps into the store before shooting Burnett in the head. The men chased Rojas into the store office, where they forced him at gunpoint to collect a bag of cash from a store freezer and from the store's two cash registers.

Mug shot of killer Kwame Rockwell


Throughout, Rojas cooperated fully and raised his arms. But the robbers took him back to the office, and the left-handed gunman shot him in the head at nearly point-blank range.

As they left the store, the third robber scattered gasoline around the store and onto Burnett. He tried in vain to start a fire, and the men fled as a customer drove up.

Rojas died instantly, but Burnett was able to call 911 for help. Jurors heard the tape of his call.

"I've been shot," a raspy-voiced Burnett, 69, of Joshua, told the dispatcher. "I'm bleeding to death. ... Hurry up. There'll be a bread truck outside."

He then asked police to call his wife, Sue Burnett. He lapsed into unconsciousness at the hospital before she arrived.

Kwame Rockwell in court


Also key was testimony from co-conspirator Chance Smith, 25, of Fort Worth, who was a lookout man. In a deal with prosecutors, Smith pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in exchange for his testimony.

Smith identified Rockwell -- who is left-handed -- as the gunman and said Rockwell planned the robbery for weeks because he believed that the store owners kept as much as several hundred thousand dollars on hand for their check-cashing service.

Smith said Rockwell planned an elaborate scheme, at one point following the owner in a vehicle because he believed that he was going to the bank. Rockwell eventually set the man's house on fire in the night to force the couple to take their cash to the store, Smith testified.

In the end, the robbers got less than $3,000, Smith testified.

Defense attorneys Mark Daniel and Tim Moore sharply questioned Smith, pointing out inconsistencies in his statements to police that suggested he was covering up the depth of his involvement.

During the punishment phase of the trial, the defense presented witnesses who testified that Rockwell was a kind, hardworking man whose only prior brush with the law was a domestic violence case.

Rockwell had apparently been having money problems, however. His car business was failing, he owed $30,000 in back child support, and he had recently been hit with an $80,000 civil judgment, prosecutors said.

Rockwell's father, Kenneth Rockwell, made an emotional plea to the jury Wednesday.

"I'm asking you to let him live," he said. "Let God take care of this."

The jury spent 45 minutes Friday watching the video again before reaching their decision.

"It was a very senseless crime," Colston said. "The victims were going about their business, and when you see this brutal killing..."

Three co-defendants are awaiting trial. Prosecutors have indicated that they will seek the death penalty against the men believed to be in the store: Randy Siebel, 37, of Granbury, identified as the other gunman, and Tyrone Thomas, 25, of Fort Worth, identified as the man with the gas can. They won't seek the death penalty for Timothy Thomas, 23, of Fort Worth, who Smith said stood watch at a nearby police station.

The case was heard by visiting Judge Elizabeth Berry after the sitting judge in Criminal District Court No. 4, Mike Thomas, became ill.

Dianna Hunt, 817-390-7084

Twitter: @diannahunt

[Thanks to reader-researcher RC for this story.]