Day: July 29, 2019

Migrant tries to keep death penalty off table in murder case

PHOENIX — Lawyers for a Mexican immigrant charged with murder in the 2015 shooting death of a convenience store clerk are urging the Arizona Court of Appeals to reject an effort by prosecutors to seek the death penalty against their client.

Earlier this month, authorities appealed a lower-court decision that said prosecutors could no longer seek the death penalty against 34-year-old Apolinar Altamirano in the shooting death of 21-year-old clerk Grant Ronnebeck because Altamirano is intellectually disabled. Prosecutors argued the judge failed to make an overall assessment of Altamirano’s ability to meet society’s expectations of him and adapt to the requirements of daily life as an adult.

But Altamirano’s lawyers said in court records filed a week ago that the judge had already considered evidence of their client’s weaknesses and strengths in such “adaptive behaviour,” including his work ethic, relationships with loved ones and ability to hold down a job and support his family.

Altamirano’s lawyers said the state isn’t saying the judge “committed legal error or abused his discretion, but instead merely takes issue with the way in which he weighed and assessed the credibility of the evidence.”

The case against Altamirano has been cited by President Donald Trump, who has railed against crimes committed against American citizens by immigrants who are the United States illegally.

Trump, who has created a new office to serve victims of immigration crimes and their relatives, has invoked such crimes at rallies, pointing to cases in which people were killed by immigrant assailants who slipped through the cracks.

Altamirano, whose hometown is Damian Carmona in central Mexico, has lived in the United States without authorization for about 20 years. He was deported after a marijuana possession arrest and returned to the United States.

He is accused of fatally shooting Ronnebeck at a store in Mesa after the clerk insisted that Altamirano pay for a pack of cigarettes. Authorities say Altamirano stepped over Ronnebeck to get several packs of cigarettes before leaving the store.

He led officers on a high-speed chase before his arrest, and handguns and unopened cigarettes were later found in his vehicle, police said.

Altamirano has already been sentenced to six years in prison for his earlier guilty pleas in the case to misconduct involving weapons.

He still faces murder, robbery and other charges in Ronnebeck’s death. He has pleaded not guilty to the remaining charges.

His trial was scheduled to begin Thursday, but it has been postponed. No new trial date has been set.

In an October decision, a judge prohibited prosecutors from introducing evidence at Altamirano’s trial that he was in the United States illegally. The judge said the prejudice from Altamirano’s immigration status outweighs any relevance it may have.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 barred the execution of intellectually disabled people.

___

Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud.

Jacques Billeaud, The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law July 29, 2019 Off

Liz Weston: Don’t be duped by these phone and email scams

Some of us in the personal finance realm have a weird little hobby: We try to scam the scam artists.

We’re not out to steal their money — just their time. When fraudsters call to say we’re about to be arrested for tax debt, our Social Security number has been “suspended,” or a loved one is in trouble, we play along.

This gives us valuable insight into how the scams operate while wasting the time these jerks could spend victimizing more vulnerable people.

We have our work cut out for us. Government-imposter frauds have scammed people out of at least $450 million since 2014, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Interestingly, people ages 20 to 59 are more likely to report being defrauded this way than those 60 and over, but older people tend to lose more money. The median individual reported loss was $960, but it was $2,700 for people 80 and older, the FTC said in a July report.

You don’t have to engage with the bad guys to help thwart them. Answering the phone when scam artists call can put you on a “sucker list” that will prompt more calls.

But you can sign up for free “watchdog alerts” from AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, report scam attempts to the FTC and warn loved ones about the latest schemes, such as these three.

GOVERNMENT IMPOSTERS

Fraudsters are nothing if not flexible. As media coverage of IRS-imposter calls increased last year, scammers switched to impersonating Social Security investigators. The crooks often use software to spoof caller ID services into showing phone numbers for the Social Security Administration or its fraud hotline.

Doug Shadel, AARP’s lead researcher on consumer fraud, recently pretended to take the bait. He returned a robocall from a group of these impersonators and was told the FBI was about to arrest him for opening 25 fraudulent bank accounts. To help the “investigators,” Shadel was advised to move all the money in his legitimate bank accounts to prepaid cards issued by “government-certified” stores such as Apple, Target, CVS or Walgreens. Then, Shadel was supposed to give the caller the cards’ serial numbers so the information could be added to his “file” — allowing the bilkers to steal the money.

Details of these scams may seem absurd, but con artists are exceptionally good at creating an atmosphere of fear and urgency so you’ll react emotionally, Shadel says.

“Once you’re in that state of fear, it swamps all reason,” he says.

Variations on this scheme include warnings that your Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity or that your help is needed to investigate a crime, such as immigration fraud. Know this: Social Security numbers can’t be suspended, investigators typically don’t enlist civilians, and government agencies don’t call out of the blue, says Kathy Stokes, director of AARP’s fraud prevention programs.

“Anyone calling from the government saying there’s a problem and you owe money is a scam,” she says.

PASSWORD-ENABLED BLACKMAIL

“Sextortion” blackmail tries to convince you that your computer has been hacked and that the blackmailer is about to expose an extramarital affair, porn-watching habits or other embarrassing behaviour. The email is really just a boilerplate form, but the subject line may include your actual password (which was probably exposed in some previous, unrelated database breach). The blackmailer typically demands payment via bitcoin or other digital currency. The solution is not to pony up, but to hit delete — and change your passwords regularly.

KIDNAPPING SCAMS

This is a twist on family emergency scams, where someone pretends to be a loved one who urgently needs money — to get out of jail, leave a foreign country or pay a hospital bill, for example. With kidnapping scams, crooks pretend to hold your loved one hostage, often including the sounds of someone screaming or pleading. The call may appear to come from the supposed victim’s phone number.

Resist the urge to panic, and instead verify your loved one’s whereabouts, Stokes says. That could mean hanging up without speaking — often the best approach — then calling or texting them. Alternatively, reach out to someone likely to know where they are, such as a spouse, friend or parent, Stokes says. If you stay on the line, expect that the swindlers will try to keep you from checking out the story by threatening dire consequences.

“If they say, ‘Don’t tell anybody or drastic things will happen,’ just know that that’s part of their ruse,” Stokes says.

_________________________________________

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: [email protected] Twitter: @lizweston.

RELATED LINKS:

NerdWallet: How to spot debt collection scams http://bit.ly/debt-collection-scams

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Actresses of colour make equal-pay quest a group effort

LOS ANGELES — When Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox recorded “Sisters Are Doin’ it For Themselves” in 1985, the Queen of Soul tried out a pointed ad lib for the empowerment anthem.

“‘Equal pay, that’s what we say!’” she exclaimed in one take, as recounted by Lennox at a gathering of female filmmakers last fall. “And I said, ‘She gets the message. She knows what this is about.’”

Actresses, especially women of colour, are getting the message as well: In seeking the roles and money that their talent warrants, they’re putting sisterhood to work.

Giving colleagues a peek at their paychecks, speaking out about economic disparity and using hard-won success to boost others are among the measures slowly gaining traction in an industry where most actors are hunting for their next job and women of colour face entrenched barriers.

“One of the first things we say is, ‘Find out what the people around you are making,’” said entertainment lawyer Nina Shaw, a founding member of Times Up, the organization created in 2018 to fight sexual misconduct and workplace inequality. “And more and more, we’re finding that people are willing to talk to each other.”

Without knowledge of what other actors with a similar track record are getting for equivalent work, “you are way behind the eight ball,” said Gabrielle Union (“Think Like a Man,” ”Being Mary Jane”).

Changing entrenched behaviour takes time, Union said, but “little by little we’re communicating, and women of colour, specifically black women, are like, ‘Oh, hell nah.’ We are so woefully underpaid, under-appreciated, disrespected.”

Ana de la Reguera (“Power,” upcoming movie “Army of the Dead”) saw the value of networking as part of “Latinas Who Lunch,” an informal group started by Eva Longoria. Actresses, as well as writers and directors, gathered to share their experiences and job and career building tips.

“We were actually encouraging each other to, say, shadow (observe) a director, ask to direct an episode, ask to be the executive producer,” de la Reguera said. The #MeToo movement consumed their attention, but she continues advising women one-on-one as they learn to navigate Hollywood’s intricate system, which she said is more challenging than the still-growing industry in her native Mexico.

What performers earn is difficult to verify, say researchers who track film and TV employment. Privacy concerns are one obvious reason, as are the complex deals that include compensation for acting and other work (as with HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” which Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman starred in and produced). The actors guild, SAG-AFTRA, does not publish specific salaries.

But there is research adding weight to complaints of disparity. In the latest San Diego State University analysis of TV’s broadcast, cable and streaming programs, women had 40 per cent of speaking roles while men had 60 per cent in 2017-18, despite the genders being evenly split in the population. Further limiting opportunities for women of colour: 67 per cent of all female roles went to white actresses, according to the findings of the school’s Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film’s study . That exceeds the approximately 60 per cent they represent among U.S. women.

Movies are proving more resistant to inclusiveness. In a study of the top 100 films of 2017, a third had an actress in a starring or a co-starring role, with just four of them an underrepresented ethnicity, according to research by the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative .

Fewer jobs mean fewer chances for an actress to build a resume and the fan base that leads to more and better roles. Yet box-office receipts and TV ratings show that audiences embrace projects with multiethnic casts, according to an annual Hollywood diversity report from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Asked if industry racism is at play, Union, who won a contract dispute with media giant Viacom-owned BET over her series “Being Mary Jane,” had a ready reply.

“Based on the numbers that I know that black women, Latinas, Asian women, indigenous actors are making, there is no other logical reason why we are paid what we are paid versus what our contemporaries are paid who are lacking melanin,” she said.

As for the perception of a field packed with multimillionaires, U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics show a contrary reality. In the most recent report, for 2018, the estimated median hourly wage for actors was $17.54, with $18.58 the hourly median for all U.S. occupations.

There are examples of well-rewarded actresses of colour, notably “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara, pegged by Forbes magazine in 2018 as TV’s top earner at $42 million, in part because she’s converted her celebrity into lucrative commercial endorsements. Kerry Washington, who as the star of “Scandal” worked for African American producer Shonda Rhimes, also made Forbes’ list of the 20 best-paid actors and actresses on TV.

In movies, big paydays are notably scarce for women of colour: All of the world’s 10 top-earning film actresses on Forbes’ 2018 list were white. Two American men of colour, Dwayne Johnson and Will Smith, made the actors’ list.

But white women have their own ground to make up: The 10 highest-paid actresses earned a combined $172 million compared to $488 million for the top-paid actors in 2016-17. In one glaring instance that became public, Michelle Williams received less than $1,000 vs Mark Wahlberg’s $1.5 million for reshoots on “All the Money in the World.”

Entertainment lawyer Shaw cautioned against reducing inequality to one element, although “clearly people of colour have not historically made as much as their counterparts” and are considered more “replaceable.”

“I think it has been a question of, ‘Are we going to pay the highest salary to a very select few people?’” she said, adding that the reality is lead characters are overwhelmingly white and male.

Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar in 2012 for “The Help” and earned consecutive nominations in 2017 and 2018 for “The Shape of Water” and “Hidden Figures,” nevertheless faced subpar compensation. Then she found a booster — Jessica Chastain, her co-star on “The Help” and producer of a movie comedy planned to star both actresses.

Spencer opened Chastain’s eyes to pay inequity for women of colour, the African American actress said during a Sundance Film Festival panel last year. Chastain vowed to make things right on her film and the result, according to Spencer, was an increase of five times in what she’d expected.

Jada Pinkett Smith was heartened by Chastain’s actions (“such a beautiful thing”) and hopes it’s an example of more to come.

“We’ll even come along at a more rapid pace when we as women really start to empower each other in a much more substantial way,” she said. “We need our male allies, too, but more than anything we have to start concentrating on our relationships with other women.”

Union is proving what that can yield. She wanted an established actress playing opposite her in “L.A.’s Finest,” which spins off Union’s character from “Bad Boys II,” and settled on Jessica Alba (“Sin City,” ”Dark Angel”). As executive producer of the Spectrum TV series , Union was positioned to make that happen.

“Because of the way my deal is set up, I had no problem giving back money to make sure Jessica Alba gets paid what Jessica Alba is worth,” Union said. “But you have to have the studio, the network, everyone to sign off on that.”

Women can’t do all the heavy lifting in an industry in which the majority of decision-makers are men, said Kate del Castillo (“Weeds,” ”La Reina del Sur”): “We need more men who are feminists.”

When she’s been able to negotiate a better deal, who could she thank?

“A woman, of course. A woman producer, a woman manager, a woman agent. It’s always women who helped me to do better,” del Castillo said. “I want to empower women because I have been empowered by women.”

Some influential men have joined the fight, producer-writer-actor Tyler Perry among them. Taraji P. Henson has said she was paid approximately $150,000 for her Oscar-nominated role in 2008’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” She credits Perry for paying her what she was worth for her starring role in 2009’s “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” and helping her get bigger paychecks from then on.

Asserting one’s economic value can be complicated when the sensitive subject of ethnicity is involved, even for celebrated actress Viola Davis, an Oscar, Emmy and Tony winner. In a 2018 interview with Tina Brown, Davis said that while people have termed her “a black Meryl Streep” she isn’t paid what she’s worth.

Davis later felt compelled to offer a public apology, telling The Associated Press she doesn’t compare herself to Streep, others do, and that she was taking responsibility for making the most of her potential with her own productions.

“Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez ran into a buzz saw of criticism after gingerly addressing the topic during a public discussion last year, saying it was “petrifying” to do so. Rodriguez compared the earnings of women by ethnicity, putting blacks at the top and Latinas at the bottom — comments that detractors alleged were anti-black and pitted women of colour against each other.

Responding in a radio interview, Rodriguez said she wasn’t referring specifically to her industry but to female workers in general, and that such discussions were needed “because we all must rise.”

While African American actresses fight for pay that matches the stardom and critical acclaim they’ve achieved after decades of struggle, the scant number of leading roles for actresses of Asian and Latino descent is a different burden.

Even with the box-office hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” the sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat” and Sandra Oh’s success in “Killing Eve,” actors with Asian roots struggle to get lead roles and commensurate pay, said Nancy Wang Yuen, a Biola University professor and author of “Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism.”

“There isn’t a kind of a consistent platform advocating for Asians in Hollywood, and that’s part of the problem,” she said.

The departures of “Hawaii Five-0” regulars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park made headlines in 2017 after it was reported the two left because they didn’t have pay equity compared to their white counterparts. Kim and Park declined to go into detail about their contract negotiations, but the showrunner maintained that they had been given generous contracts and had declined them.

Jennifer Lopez made a huge leap for Latinas with 1997’s “Selena,” becoming the first Hispanic actress to earn $1 million. The importance of that payday has grown in retrospect, said Lopez, who recalled that she felt undeserving and even ashamed of her success at the time.

“But now I realize that it was important because our community needed that boost to say, ‘Yes, we are just as much value as any other actor (in) a leading role in Hollywood, in a big film,” Lopez said.

“Everybody knows there is racism, there is sexism …. it all exists. It’s just about us getting to the point of you realizing what you’re worth and who you are,” she said.

Awkwafina, the young breakout star of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “The Farewell,” finds herself in a similar position but forced to navigate among established actresses fed up with the status quo and past ready to make waves.

“Maybe I should inform myself how getting paid works but, at this point, I’m a newcomer. … And I don’t know what I should be getting,” she said. “But I think if I continue to deliver products that are doing well and that are well-received, I should be compensated fairly, right?”

___

AP writers Sian Watson in London and Nicole Evatt in Bangkok and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

___

Lynn Elber can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber . Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr .

Lynn Elber And Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press








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B.C. Murder Suspect Bryer Schmegelsky’s Dad Releasing Book About Troubled Life

Alan Schmegelsky, father of suspect Bryer Schmegelsky in Mill Bay B.C. on July 24, 2019.

VANCOUVER — The father of a British Columbia murder suspect has written a book that sheds new light on his mental health, explains harassment convictions involving his ex-wife and provides greater insight into the possible impacts the events had on his fugitive son.

Alan Schmegelsky, the father of 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky, sent a book to reporters this week titled “Red Flagged,” which he says is a novelization of actual events and fictionalizes some incidents.

Bryer Schmegelsky is a suspect in three murders in northern B.C. along with his friend, 19-year-old Kam McLeod, and RCMP are continuing to search a boggy, remote area in Manitoba where they were last seen. 

Watch: Alan Schmegelsky says his son is in ‘serious pain.’ Story continues below.

The 132-page book, which Alan Schmegelsky said he planned to self-publish this week but now does not intend to publish for sale, reveals new details of his troubled life and his numerous encounters with police and courts.

He said he sent the book to reporters to highlight how a “broken system” has shaped him and his son.

“My son and I have been treated like footballs. It’s time for some truth,” he said.

He writes that he was arrested by Victoria police on Aug. 4, 2008, his son Bryer’s eighth birthday, three years after his acrimonious split with the boy’s mother. In a rambling, profanity-laden recollection, he explains how he was sentenced to probation because he had no criminal history at the time.

Sgt. Janelle Shoihet presents security camera images of Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky in Saskatchewan during a conference in Surrey, B.C., on July 23, 2019.

Court records show he was charged with criminal harassment in December 2008. He was found guilty of the lesser offence of disobeying a court order.

He returned to court numerous times over the next decade.

A new criminal harassment charge was filed in 2012 and a number of breach of probation charges were added in 2014. He was later found guilty of the criminal harassment charge and some probation charges.

In 2016, he was found guilty of two additional criminal harassment charges, and in January 2018, he was found guilty of another criminal harassment charge and two breach of probation charges.

It’s unclear whether his ex-wife was the target of the harassment in each case, but Schmegelsky said in an interview that at least some of the charges were filed because the boy’s mother feared he would murder her, saying he was schizophrenic and was not taking his medication. He denies these allegations.

Schmegelsky writes in the book that a forensic psychologist diagnosed him as “delusional,” a conclusion he disagreed with. His lawyer described him as “autistic” at one point, he writes, and he was ordered to attend a crisis counselling centre but couldn’t afford to attend for very long as it wasn’t a government program.

He said his son never attended any of his court hearings.

The boy’s mother did not immediately respond to a request for comment. There was no answer at her door in Port Alberni, B.C., earlier this week and she has not returned phone calls to her home.

RCMP and Victoria police said they could not immediately provide additional context to the court records. B.C.’s Prosecution Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schmegelsky says he does not currently have a permanent residence and has been homeless for about two years, staying primarily in Victoria.

He says in the book that the birth of his son on Aug. 4, 2000, was “an experience of a lifetime — the greatest.” He says the tiny infant became “embedded” in his heart in less than a second.

“My life had just taken on a whole new perspective. I would do anything to protect him. Life was good.”

Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese, shown here in this undated photo, were found dead on the side of a highway in northeastern British Columbia on July 15, 2019.

He says in the book that his then-wife left him in 2005, taking their young son with her to start a new life in Port Alberni. Schmegelsky describes losing his son as “the worst heartbreak I ever experienced.”

He has said that he did not see his son between the ages of eight and 16, at which age his son briefly lived with him in Victoria and they worked in construction together for a summer. He showed The Canadian Press recent photos and videos of his son on his phone.

Herb Loomba, the owner of the Redford Motel in Port Alberni, confirmed that the elder Schmegelsky stayed there about once a month in recent years to visit his son and he last saw them together on the young man’s graduation.

Watch: Manitoba RCMP say murder suspects may have received help leaving. Story continues below.

Alan Schmegelsky traces his pain back to the death of his father. He writes that his father received a tainted blood transfusion in 1985 and died of AIDS in 1990, but that his family was denied compensation because they filed the claim too late. The Canadian Press has seen a 2010 letter sent from his MP to the justice minister at the time asking why he has not been properly compensated.

The manhunt for the two homicide suspects continued in Gillam, Man., this weekend as it’s been nearly a week since the last confirmed sighting of the pair.

Police, aided by tracking dogs and drones, have been going door to door, checking every residence and abandoned building in and around Gillam as townsfolk maintain their own stressful vigil for the fugitives.

My son and I have been treated like footballs.Alan Schmegelsky, father of murder suspect Bryer Schmegelsky

The aerial search effort got a boost Saturday with the arrival of a Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules aircraft equipped with high tech thermal detection gear.

In addition, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said that it had requested help from the Bear Clan Patrol, an Indigenous-led neighbourhood watch group, and was co-ordinating teams to fly to First Nations communities including Fox Lake Cree Nation, York Factory First Nation, and War Lake First Nation.

Schmegelsky and McLeod are charged with second-degree murder in the death of University of B.C. lecturer Leonard Dyck and are also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.

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By The Wall of Law July 29, 2019 Off

B.C. murder suspect’s father reveals details of troubled life in book

The father of a British Columbia murder suspect has written a book that sheds new light on his mental health, explains harassment convictions involving his ex-wife and provides greater insight into the possible impacts the events had on his fugitive son.

Alan Schmegelsky, the father of 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky, sent a book to reporters this week titled “Red Flagged,” which he says is a novelization of actual events and fictionalizes some incidents.

Bryer Schmegelsky is a suspect in three murders in northern B.C. along with his friend, 19-year-old Kam McLeod, and RCMP are continuing to search a boggy, remote area in Manitoba where they were last seen.

The 132-page book, which Alan Schmegelsky said he planned to self-publish this week but now does not intend to publish for sale, reveals new details of his troubled life and his numerous encounters with police and courts.

He said he sent the book to reporters to highlight how a “broken system” has shaped him and his son.

“My son and I have been treated like footballs. It’s time for some truth,” he said.

He writes that he was arrested by Victoria police on Aug. 4, 2008, his son Bryer’s eighth birthday, three years after his acrimonious split with the boy’s mother. In a rambling, profanity-laden recollection, he explains how he was sentenced to probation because he had no criminal history at the time.

Court records show he was charged with criminal harassment in December 2008. He was found guilty of the lesser offence of disobeying a court order.

He returned to court numerous times over the next decade.

A new criminal harassment charge was filed in 2012 and a number of breach of probation charges were added in 2014. He was later found guilty of the criminal harassment charge and some probation charges.

In 2016, he was found guilty of two additional criminal harassment charges, and in January 2018, he was found guilty of another criminal harassment charge and two breach of probation charges.

It’s unclear whether his ex-wife was the target of the harassment in each case, but Schmegelsky said in an interview that at least some of the charges were filed because the boy’s mother feared he would murder her, saying he was schizophrenic and was not taking his medication. He denies these allegations.

Schmegelsky writes in the book that a forensic psychologist diagnosed him as “delusional,” a conclusion he disagreed with. His lawyer described him as “autistic” at one point, he writes, and he was ordered to attend a crisis counselling centre but couldn’t afford to attend for very long as it wasn’t a government program.

He said his son never attended any of his court hearings.

The boy’s mother did not immediately respond to a request for comment. There was no answer at her door in Port Alberni, B.C., earlier this week and she has not returned phone calls to her home.

RCMP and Victoria police said they could not immediately provide additional context to the court records. B.C.’s Prosecution Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schmegelsky says he does not currently have a permanent residence and has been homeless for about two years, staying primarily in Victoria.

He says in the book that the birth of his son on Aug. 4, 2000, was “an experience of a lifetime – the greatest.” He says the tiny infant became “embedded” in his heart in less than a second.

“My life had just taken on a whole new perspective. I would do anything to protect him. Life was good.”

He says in the book that his then-wife left him in 2005, taking their young son with her to start a new life in Port Alberni. Schmegelsky describes losing his son as “the worst heartbreak I ever experienced.”

He has said that he did not see his son between the ages of eight and 16, at which age his son briefly lived with him in Victoria and they worked in construction together for a summer. He showed The Canadian Press recent photos and videos of his son on his phone.

Herb Loomba, the owner of the Redford Motel in Port Alberni, confirmed that the elder Schmegelsky stayed there about once a month in recent years to visit his son and he last saw them together on the young man’s graduation.

Alan Schmegelsky traces his pain back to the death of his father. He writes that his father received a tainted blood transfusion in 1985 and died of AIDS in 1990, but that his family was denied compensation because they filed the claim too late. The Canadian Press has seen a 2010 letter sent from his MP to the justice minister at the time asking why he has not been properly compensated.

The manhunt for the two homicide suspects continued in Gillam, Man., this weekend as it’s been nearly a week since the last confirmed sighting of the pair.

Police, aided by tracking dogs and drones, have been going door to door, checking every residence and abandoned building in and around Gillam as townsfolk maintain their own stressful vigil for the fugitives.

The aerial search effort got a boost Saturday with the arrival of a Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules aircraft equipped with high tech thermal detection gear.

In addition, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said that it had requested help from the Bear Clan Patrol, an Indigenous-led neighbourhood watch group, and was co-ordinating teams to fly to First Nations communities including Fox Lake Cree Nation, York Factory First Nation, and War Lake First Nation.

Schmegelsky and McLeod are charged with second-degree murder in the death of University of B.C. lecturer Leonard Dyck and are also suspects in the fatal shootings of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese.

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