Category Archives: First Amendment

Atheist loses lawsuit to remove ‘In God We Trust’ from U.S. currency

A piece of good news, at last, in the contemporary American wasteland.

Do you remember a man named Michael Newdow?

Newdow, 65, is the Californian atheist who’s been jamming the courts with lawsuits.

Newdow’s most recent lawsuit was to have “In God We Trust” removed from U.S. currency on the grounds that the motto is a government endorsement of religion and so violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Last year, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Newdow — the judges found that the motto on currency “comports with early understandings of the Establishment Clause” and did not coerce people into practicing a religion.

See DCG’s “Lawsuit demands US remove ‘In God We Trust’ from money“.

“In God We Trust” was first put on an American coin in 1864, and added to both coins and paper bills in 1955. A year after, in 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a law making the phrase the national motto.

Leah Klett reports for Christian Post, citing Fox News, that on June 10, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected, without comment, Newdow’s appeal.

In 2013, Newdow had partnered with the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation to sue the U.S. Treasury over the motto on currency. In his petition to the Supreme Court, Nedow, a lawyer whose clients are other atheists, had argued that:

  • The government violated his clients’ “sincere religious belief” that there is no God and turned them into “political outsiders” by placing the phrase “In God We Trust” on their money.
  • The placement of “In God We Trust” on money “has real effects on real children” and subjects atheist children to the same sufferings  historically endured by black children as “second class citizens”.

In the words of Newdow’s petition, which refers to “God” as “G-d” — a Jewish practice:

Petitioners are atheists. As such, they fervidly disagree with the religious idea that people should trust in G-d. On the contrary, their sincere religious belief is that trusting in any G-d is misguided. Defendants have conditioned receipt of the important benefit of using the nation’s sole ‘legal tender’ upon conduct proscribed by Petitioners’ atheism (i.e., upon Petitioners’ personally bearing – and proselytizing – a religious message that is directly contrary to the central idea that underlies their religious belief system).

Unless this Court ends the flagrant governmental preference for belief in G-d (and the implicit concomitant denigration of Atheism), the organizations, adults and children bringing this case will spend the rest of their lives – as they have spent their lives so far – as secondclass citizens.

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of religious liberty law firm Liberty Counsel, praised the court’s rejection of Newdow’s petition: “Our national motto ‘In God We Trust’ has been on all U.S. currency for more than 60 years and it will remain there, despite ridiculous attempts by atheists to remove it.”

Newdow’s past litigation includes:

  • Several failed litigation challenges against the “under God” phrase in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. In 2004, after suing for the removal of “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, his case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. But the court did not decide on the merits of the case but instead said Newdow had no standing to sue. See my post, “‘Under God’ stays in Pledge of Allegiance“.
  • Attempts to stop prayers being read at the inauguration of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
  • Attempts to prevent government leaders from saying the phrase “So help me God” in the 2009, 2013, and 2017 presidential inaugurations.

See also:

~Eowyn

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Can you pass this 100-question U.S. Civics Quiz?

CivicsQuiz.com has a U.S. Civics Quiz of 100 questions.

Most questions are taken right from the U.S. Naturalization Exam.

To take the quiz, click here, then report to us on your score!

I got a score of 95. How did you do?

Of the 5 questions I got wrong, I strenuously object to Question #2. Also, the supposedly correct answers for Questions #65 and #66 contradict each other.

~Eowyn

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Problematic: 41% of college students believe hate speech should not be protected by the Constitution

Who gets to define what is “hate” speech?

From Daily Mail: Some 41 percent of college students say hate speech shouldn’t be protected under the First Amendment, according to a new survey.

Just 58 percent said that hate speech should be protected under the amendment, which guarantees American’s a right to freedom of speech, according to the survey of 4,407 students by the Miami-based Knight Foundation.

‘There is a new class of students on college campuses, increasingly varied in background and ideology, who are grappling with the reach and limits of free speech and what it means in the 21st century,’ said Sam Gill, Knight Foundation vice president for learning and communities.

‘Studying their views is key to understanding the impact that they may have on rights that are fundamental to our democracy,’ he added.

Opinions split dramatically along gender lines, with just 41 percent of college women saying that protecting free speech was more important that inclusivity, compared to 71 percent of college men.

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents said they felt that students can’t openly express their views due to a climate on campus that has people fearful of offending their peers. Just 31 percent disagreed that such a climate exists.

These opinions of young Americans on the matter of freedom of speech are problematic – if well intended, said Ken Paulson, the director of the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University. ‘Protecting hate speech is actually the reason we have a First Amendment,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘We don’t need protection for freedom of speech if everyone agrees with one another. The protection we need is for speech that others may find offensive.’

The survey comes as more colleges are opting to cancel or not invite controversial speakers to their campuses due to student outrage.

For example, Middlebury College in Vermont apologized to students earlier this year after getting a negative reaction to inviting a conservative speaker to campus. College officials also promised to do more to prevent invitations to such speakers going forward.

‘The big difference between today and a decade ago is that the conservatives are the big driving force behind freedom of speech on campuses,’ Paulson said.

The report also found that more than half (53 percent) are in favor of protecting freedom of speech, while 46 percent say it’s important to ‘promote an inclusive and welcoming society.’

‘The Constitution was not designed to keep your feelings from being hurt,’ said Paulson, also the former editor-in-chief of USA Today. ‘It was designed so every American could say or do whatever they wanted and do so without being punished. To understand freedom of speech you have to understand that it’s the minority being protected against the majority and the government.’

Read the whole story here.

DCG

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Peace Cross Case Heads to US Supreme Court – Why Much More Than One Cross Is on the Line

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case about whether a the nearly 100-year-old, cross-shaped war memorial in Maryland known as Peace Cross violates the Constitution because is on government property. The case of the monument, located in the Bladensburg community of Prince George’s County, could impact hundreds of similar monuments nationwide.

First Liberty Institute is defending the cross. One of its lawyers, Jeremy Dys, told CBN News, “This case is very important for a variety of reasons. Because this area of the law is right now – as Justice (Clarence) Thomas has said – in hopeless disarray. And so there’s really needing some clarity for this.”

The legal team  believes this could be the most crucial religious liberty case the Supreme Court handles this term. That’s because if the high court eventually decides this cross has to go, it could affect thousands of other crosses, including crosses on all federal cemeteries such as  the national cometary at Arlington.

But if the justices make a broad ruling favoring the cross and other objects like it, it could put an end to judges and bureaucrats deciding – somewhat haphazardly – if a religious symbol or display is too religious or secular enough to be left alone by secular authorities.

That possibility has opponents of the cross worried about the court setting a precedent that could counter future efforts to eradicate religious symbols–especially Christian symbols– from public display.

The District of Columbia-based American Humanist Association has led the challenge against the monument. The organization and three area residents sued Maryland officials in 2014 in an attempt to have the monument torn down. They say that the cross “discriminates against patriotic soldiers who are not Christian, sending a callous message to non-Christians that Christians are worthy of veneration while they may as well be forgotten.” And they point out that other nearby memorials are smaller and across the street from the cross.

One of the people who brought the original case against the cross – Steven Lowe of the American Humanist Association – told CBN News, “The government on this piece of property is favoring a religion with this huge symbol. When you come across the bridge or approach it from any of the highways, you see nothing but this huge Christian cross.”

Journalist Renee Green spoke with Lowe and other cross opponents for her documentary “Save the Peace Cross.” In it, United Coalition of Reason officer Fred Edwords stated, “It gives the impression of Christianity and nothing else. And it gives the impression of government endorsement of Christianity.”

And Lowe told Green, “The existence of a memorial on public land is not a problem. It is just the use of the Christian cross as part of that memorial that we find contrary to the First Amendment and separation of church and state.”

Edwords added, “It looks for all the world like, ‘Okay, this is either the state of Maryland or the city of Bladensburg endorsing one religion.'”

In the suit against the cross, one atheist said he was traumatized driving by it. Green appears on camera in her documentary to point out that many telephone poles are in the shape of a cross.

“If the plaintiffs win this lawsuit, will all the telephone poles need to be modified?” Green asks, tongue-in-cheek. She adds, “I just hope they’re not traumatized by telephone poles while driving.”

The Peace Cross has drawn the support of Maryland’s governor and senators. Over the summer the state of Maryland filed an amicus brief in support of the petition to the Supreme Court, and Gov. Larry Hogan said the state was “determined to fight all the way to the highest court in the land to keep it standing tall and proud.”

The Peace Cross was completed in 1925, and it honors 49 men from the surrounding county who died in World War I. A plaque on the cross’ base lists the names of those soldiers, and both faces of the cross have a circle with the symbol of the American Legion, the veterans organization that helped raise money to build it.

Today, responsibility for the cross falls to a Maryland parks commission that took over ownership and maintenance of it in 1961 because of traffic safety concerns.

~ Grif

The first amendment/the first enumerated right:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

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DemonRat candidate to crack down on “Fake News”

Sounds good, right?

The Daily Caller:
Democratic Candidate Andrew Yang Promises Government Crackdown On ‘Misinformation’

by Peter Hasson – 03-19-2019

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang says the federal government will punish media companies for the spread of misinformation if he wins in 2020.

But read on; there’s a snag.

“I will appoint a new News and Information Ombudsman with the power to fine egregious corporate offenders. One of the main purposes of the Ombudsman will be to identify sources of spurious information that are associated with foreign nationals. The Ombudsman will work with social media companies to identify fraudulent accounts and disable and punish responsible parties,” Yang wrote.

“We need a robust free press and exchange of information. But we should face the reality that fake news and misinformation spread via social media threatens to undermine our democracy and may make it impossible for citizens to make informed decisions on a shared set of facts,” he adds on his website.

Read the article at https://dailycaller.com/2019/03/19/andrew-yang-misinformation/


Think Snopes in Jackboots.

Yep, one of the infamous Sack of Ferrets has escaped the bag with a plan to kill the remaining free speech on the internet.

Here are some of the ferret’s campaign promises:

  • Universal Healthcare
  • Medicare For All
  • Combat Climate Change
  • LQBTQ Rights
  • Gun Safety
  • Right to Privacy/Abortion and Contraception

I don’t know about you,
but I smell a DemonRat.

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Illinois demorats introduce bill requiring gun buyers to reveal social media accounts

Rep. Dan Didech

Who gets to define “troubling” comments?

From MyFoxChicago: Illinois Democrats are introducing a bill forcing gun buyers to reveal their public social media accounts to police before they are given permission to get a firearm license.

The new legislation is sponsored by two state Democratic lawmakers, in an effort to block people from acquiring guns if they have made some troubling comments on social media.

State Rep. Daniel Didech, a Democrat who’s pushing the bill, told CBS 2 Chicago: “A lot of people who are having mental health issues will often post on their social media pages that they’re about to hurt themselves or others,” adding that these people need “the help they need.”

The bill’s proponents point to Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland High School shooter, saying he posted “very disturbing” images on social media before going on a rampage and killing 17 people last year. Robert Bowers, the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooter, also posted numerous troubling comments about the Jewish people on social media.

A similar bill was introduced last year in New York that would require people looking to buy a gun in the state to submit their social media profiles and search history prior to purchase. The bill was met with criticism, but it was approved by the new Board of Legislators last month, though it remains unclear when the lawmakers will vote on it.

The proposal in Illinois facing similar criticism, with Rebecca Glenberg of ACLU saying the bill doesn’t address what the police could do with the data, in addition to the First Amendment concerns.

“A person’s political beliefs, a person’s religious beliefs, things that should not play a part in whether someone gets a FOID card,” Glenberg told the station.

The Illinois State Rifle Association, meanwhile, said that everyone should be outraged by the intrusiveness of the bill. “When people look at this everyone who has a Facebook account or email account or Twitter account will be incensed or should be,” Richard Pearson said.

But Didech defended his measure to the station, saying his bill “gives Illinois State Police additional tools to make sure that dangerous weapons aren’t getting into the hands of dangerous people,” noting that his measure is also less intrusive than the one proposed in New York.

See also:

Demorat who wants social media history reviewed prior to gun ownership tweets “kill yourself” to political opponent

NY demorats push for social media review as part of firearm background check

DCG

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Virginia school board fires Christian teacher for refusing to use ‘transgender’ pronouns

The new tyranny in America.

Graham Moomaw reports for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dec. 6, 2018, that the West Point High School in West Point, Virginia, fired French teacher Peter Vlaming for refusing to go along with the madness of ‘transgenderism’ by addressing a female 9th-grade student who imagines herself to be male with the Left-mandated “correct” male pronouns.

Note that FOTM‘s recounting of Moomaw’s report for the Richmond Times-Dispatch refers to the biologically-female student as “girl,” “she” and “her,” instead of “boy” and male pronouns employed by Moomaw, which is now mandated for journalists in America’s insane Left-dominated media.

Vlaming, 47, who had taught at the school for almost seven years after spending more than a decade in France, told his superiors his Christian faith prevented him from using male pronouns for a student he saw as female.

A year ago, the student was in Vlaming’s class, at which point, she had identified as female. Then, over the summer, the girl’s family informed the school system of her “transition” to being male. Vlaming agreed to use the student’s new, male name, but avoided using any pronouns — he or him, and she or her — when referring to the student in her presence. But Vlaming did use female pronouns to refer to the female student in conversations with others. According to “witnesses,” during a class activity on Halloween involving the use of a virtual reality headset, the student was about to run into a wall, and Vlaming told others to stop “her.”

In other words, the school relied on spies and informants.

The student said that Vlaming made her feel uncomfortable and singled out. And the school’s administrators sided with her. They recommended that Vlaming be fired for violating the school system’s nondiscrimination and harassment policies that were updated a year ago to include protections for gender identity.

West Point’s principal Jonathan Hochman said he had told Vlaming to use male pronouns in accordance with the student’s wishes, and hyperbolically condemned Vlaming’s refusal as “I can’t think of a worse way to treat a child than what was happening.” West Point schools Superintendent Laura Abel said that Vlaming’s gender “discrimination” created “a hostile learning environment” which made the student and her parents feel “disrespected.”

Although the school district’s attorney, Stacy Haney, justifies Vlaming’s firing on the basis of a school employee’s refusal to follow policies, Vlaming’s lawyer, Shawn Voyles, said the school district’s nondiscrimination and harassment policies contain no specific guidance on the use of gender pronouns, and that even as a public employee, Vlaming has constitutional rights of his own, specificially the right “to be free from being compelled to speak something that violates your conscience.”

Speaking in his own defense, Vlaming said he loves and respects all his students and had tried to reach a solution based on “mutual tolerance.” But the effort was rejected, which put him at risk of losing his job for having views held by “most of the world for most of human history.” Vlaming said, “That is not tolerance. That is coercion.”

Vlaming’s hearing drew an overflow crowd, made up largely of parents and students who support him. They describe Vlaming as a model teacher who does extra duty as a soccer coach and bus driver. They had brought to the hearing “Justice for Mr. Vlaming” signs, but school officials forebade the signs in the meeting room with the ridiculous excuse that the small room did not have space for the signs. So the signs were left in a stack outside the meeting room’s doors.

During the hearing, to highlight the pitfalls of rules against “misgendering,” Vlaming and his lawyer pointed out that school principal Hochman himself used the “wrong” pronoun for the student during his testimony. Describing his conversation with Vlaming after the incident on Halloween, Hochman testified that he told Vlaming: “You need to say sorry for that. And refer to her by the male pronoun.”

Despite the support from many students and parents, the school board chose to terminate Vlaming’s employment. Superintendent Abel released this brief statement after the vote: “As detailed during the course of the public hearing, Mr. Vlaming was recommended for termination due to his insubordination and repeated refusal to comply with directives made to him by multiple WPPS administrators.”

Vlaming has asked the School Board to reconsider their decision — the “absurdity” of punishing a teacher for discrimination on the basis of pronoun usage alone, with no accusation of overtly malicious behavior. He said, “I am being punished for what I haven’t said.”

Vlaming is considering a wrongful-termination lawsuit and is consulting with his attorney. He said: “I have to research how we would do that, what that would entail. I do think it’s a serious question of First Amendment rights.”

Contact information for your protests:

Jonathan Hochman
Principal, West Point High School
Phone: (804) 843-3630 x104
Email: jhochman@wpschools.net

Laura K. Abel
Superintendent, West Point Public Schools
Phone: (804) 843-4386
Email: label@wpschools.net

There is a petition asking Superintendent Abel to reinstate Vlaming. To sign, click here.

See also:

~Eowyn

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HR 3222: Freedom of religion in danger with Democrat House majority

On Nov. 16, 1993, then-President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that “ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected” into law, with an almost-unanimous approval by Congress. Every House member approved of the bill; only three senators voted no.

Incredibly, both the House and Senate versions of RFRA were sponsored by Democrats: Rep. Chuck Shumer (NY) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (MA).

Then is then, and now is now.

The Democrat Party that spearheaded RFRA has become the hate-America, hate-God Demonrat Party that now is bent on the all-but-in-name repeal of the same law it once championed.

In an op/ed for the Washington Examiner, November 14, 2018, former Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.), who now teaches political science at Utah Valley University, reports that even before the Nov. 6 election, 50 House Democrats had co-sponsored H.R. 3222, a bill to gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). With a majority of Demonrats now in control of the House of Representatives after the recent mid-term elections, there are now 172 House Democrats who support H.R. 3222, as their party takes control of the House.

H.R. 3222, sanctimoniously and deceptively titled the Do No Harm Act, is sponsored by Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) and co-sponsored by 170 other House members, all Demonrats, one of whom is the anticipated incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), 71. That committee would be in charge of approving the undoing of RFRA.

H.R. 3222’s companion Senate bill (S. 2918) is authored by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and co-sponsored by 28 other Demonrat senators.

Instead of a head-on repeal of RFRA, H.R. 3222 and S. 2918 take a sly approach by creating a long itemized list of exemptions from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, thereby diminishing and undermining RFRA’s protection of religious freedom. The exemptions include sexual orientation, gender identity, and abortion. In effect, our Constitutional First Amendment right to freedom of religion would be declared less important than other claims never mentioned in the Constitution and often not even legislated by elected officials.

Groups endorsing HR 3222 and S 2918 are the usual leftwing suspects and promoters of evil: the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Human Rights Campaign, Center for American Progress, Lambda Legal, NAACP, NARAL, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Organization of Women, and Planned Parenthood.

Istook writes:

H.R. 3222 would declare that religious freedoms must yield when they run counter to the LGBTQ agenda or to other progressive causes such as abortion rights. Pushing this are progressive groups which claim that religious beliefs are just a cover for discrimination, bigotry, and hate….

The turnaround [since RFRA] dramatizes how culture and politics have changed in 25 years. Secular values have been given priority and religious freedoms have been narrowed.

Istook warns that HR 3222 and S 2918 will also reverse the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby and Masterpiece Cakeshop decisions. State-level versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are also being attacked. Those were enacted in 21 states after the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997 ruled that RFRA protects only against intrusive laws on the federal level.

And although the GOP-majority Senate is very unlikely to approve S. 2918 or any legislation gutting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, those who oppose RFRA will be emboldened by HR 3222, and they will keep trying.

See also:

~Eowyn

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Police think Alexa may have witnessed a double slaying, want Amazon to turn her over

Can the recordings on Alexa be trusted? Who was actually there? Was if the recording was from a movie/TV show/other audio recording? Was the crime a set-up?

Seems to me that without visual evidence, you can pre-determine a desired outcome based upon your position (as can happen in many trials with circumstantial evidence).

The data may be used to exonerate someone yet it may also be used against you.

Another reason I will never have an Alex in my home.

From SF Gate: Alexa might have been listening, as she almost always is, when Christine Sullivan was stabbed to death in the kitchen of the Farmington, New Hampshire, home where Sullivan lived with her boyfriend on the night of Jan. 27, 2017.

But does Alexa remember any of it?

That’s the question state prosecutors are hoping will produce key evidence in the murder case against Timothy Verrill, who is accused of killing Sullivan and her friend, Jenna Pelligrini, over suspicions they were informing police about an alleged drug operation. Prosecutors say Alexa, the artificial woman who personifies the Amazon Echo smart device, was sitting on the kitchen counter the entire time.

Now, a judge has ordered Amazon to turn over any recordings the Echo device may have made from Jan. 27, the day the women were killed, until Jan. 29, when police discovered them tucked beneath a tarp under the back porch.

“The court finds there is probable cause to believe the server(s) and/or records maintained for or by Amazon.com contain recordings made by the Echo smart speaker from the period of Jan. 27 to Jan. 29, 2017 … and that such information contains evidence of crimes committed against Ms. Sullivan, including the attack and possible removal of the body from the kitchen.”

Verrill has pleaded not guilty. His defense attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.

Verrill’s case marks at least the second time Amazon has become entangled in a high-stakes murder case in which its device, a task manager activated on voice command, morphs into a de facto witness for the prosecution.

In a statement to The Washington Post, an Amazon spokesperson indicated Amazon wouldn’t be turning over the data so easily, appearing to prioritize consumer privacy as it has done in the past.

“Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us,” the spokesperson said. “Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”

There’s no guarantee that Alexa will turn into a star witness. For the Echo smart device to be activated, typically it has to be prompted by the words “Alexa,” “Computer,” or “Echo” – the “wake words” that cause the device to begin recording.

But if Alexa really were listening, evidence collected so far indicates she would have heard a horrific attack.

Investigators laid out the mostly circumstantial evidence against suspect Timothy Verrill during an evidentiary bail hearing last summer.

On Jan. 29, Sullivan’s boyfriend, Dean Smoronk, the owner of the house where the women were killed, told police he arrived home from a trip to Florida to find that it had been turned into a crime scene, New Hampshire State Police Sgt. Brian Strong testified during an evidentiary bail hearing last summer. Sullivan was nowhere to be found, and so he called 911.

When police arrived, they found blood splattered on the kitchen walls and on the refrigerator, Strong said. It was soaked into the mattress in the upstairs bedroom, where police believe Pellegrini was stabbed 43 times.

Verill had previously lived at the house with Sullivan and Smoronk and had been friends with all of them. Strong revealed under questioning from Verrill’s defense attorney that the home where the killings took place was also at the center of an alleged drug trafficking empire, Foster’s Daily Democrat reported. Verrill’s attorney, Melissa Davis, suggested that this left open additional avenues for investigation into other suspects, maintaining Verrill’s innocence, Foster’s reported.

But prosecutors contended that Verrill’s behavior on the night of the murder and in the days following made him the prime suspect.

On the night of the murder, Smoronk, the suspected drug trafficker, received a phone call from Verill in the early morning hours of Jan. 27: Verrill, Smoronk told police, was concerned Jenna Pellegrini was an informant, Foster’s reported.

In a matter of hours, home surveillance captured Verrill arriving at the home where in a flannel shirt and a ball cap, Strong testified during the bail hearing. Within 20 minutes, he was captured attempting to obscure the lens of three of the surveillance cameras before ultimately shutting the system down.

And over the next several days prosecutors say he made a series of suspicious trips around town, according to footage by WMUR-TV. He bought cleanup products from a Walmart. He went to go see a priest, and he had “not one, but two breakdowns that take him to the hospital,” the prosecutor said.

Verrill was arrested the day after he traveled to Massachusetts for a drug-treatment program Feb. 5, the Rochester Voice reported.

When executing a search warrant, Strong said he found the women’s bodies beneath the tarp and found the knives buried a foot beneath the ground, wrapped in a flannel shirt. The police found a shovel speckled with blood, believed to be Sullivan’s, resting on top of the porch.

And in the kitchen, of course, they found Alexa, and took the device into custody.

The case recalls a 2015 Arkansas murder investigation in which a woman was found dead in a backyard hot tub the morning after the man who lived there, Nate Bates, invited friends over to watch a football game. Bates was soon charged in her death and pleaded not guilty.

Just as in the New Hampshire case, police found Alexa sitting on Bates’s kitchen counter, suspecting she might know something.

Amazon initially resisted law enforcement’s efforts to obtain the potential relevant recordings, as The Post reported in December 2016. In a 91-page brief, Amazon moved to quash the search warrant on First Amendment grounds. It advanced the same argument put forth by Apple in 2015, when the company refused the federal government’s request to unlock the iPhone of the accused San Bernardino shooter for customer privacy reasons.

“Amazon does not seek to obstruct any lawful investigation, but rather seeks to protect the privacy rights of its customers when the government is seeking their data from Amazon, especially when that data may include expressive content protected by the First Amendment,” Amazon wrote in its brief.

Amazon ultimately relented after Bates gave permission for his Amazon Echo to be searched – but it didn’t turn into the linchpin prosecutors hoped for: They dropped the charges against Bates in November 2017 after finding that the evidence, including the Echo recordings, supported more than one “reasonable explanation” for the victim’s death.

Read the whole story here.

DCG

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