Memory Hole: Compare These Two Incidents

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Memory Hole: Compare These Two Incidents

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Joined: Nov 4 2006, 03:04 PM

Dec 26 2007, 08:48 AM #1

In 2 L.I. Neighborhoods, Feeling of Security Is Lost After Killing
Published: August 12, 2006

MILLER PLACE, N.Y., Aug. 11 — Both young men idolized their fathers. Both were ensconced in new houses in the newest of the treeless exurban developments of Suffolk County. Both lived on cul-de-sacs, those streets invented by developers to convey to parents the illusion of sheltered security.
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Daniel Cicciaro

One was white, one black, and each was described independently and repeatedly by adults interviewed yesterday as a “well-raised son,” and “respectful” in almost an Old World way.

But on Friday, the police, neighbors and friends were trying to untangle a series of events that led one of those young men, Daniel Cicciaro, 17, to be shot to death Wednesday night by the 53-year-old father of the other, Aaron White, 19.

In what proportion race, the Internet and the presence of guns played a role in the cascade of violence was the question investigators were seeking to answer. But community members seemed stunned by the first murder to take place in this two-year-old neighborhood where spindly young trees do not even cast shadows yet.

“We all moved in here at the same time, and pretty much all of us came here for the same reason so we wouldn’t have to worry,” said Gary Greene, 39, a utility company supervisor who lives next door to the White family. “Now we have a lot to worry about.”

The Suffolk police said the two young men had quarreled at a party over a young woman they both knew. Mr. Cicciaro accused Mr. White of making disrespectful comments about the young woman in an Internet chat room. Mr. White was asked to leave the party, and did; but the quarrel was apparently rekindled by way of cellphone as Mr. White drove home.

About 11 p.m., the police said, Mr. Cicciaro and a group of his friends arrived at Mr. White’s home in two cars.

According to the police, Mr. White and his father, John White, greeted them bearing weapons. The elder Mr. White held a handgun, the younger a shotgun. A family lawyer, Daniel T. Driscoll, said Mr. White, a longtime foreman for a Brooklyn paving company, is an avid hunter and fisherman.

Shouting erupted. The younger Mr. White has said that racial epithets were spoken by Mr. Cicciaro and his friends, according to lawyers for the White family. Witnesses told the police that the elder Mr. White screamed repeatedly, “I’m going to shoot you!”

Then, the police said, the elder Mr. White shot Mr. Cicciaro in the face. The young man died an hour later at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson.

“All I know is Dan was a gentleman, a real little businessman,” said Stephen Pepper, the owner of a pizzeria frequented by the Cicciaro family, and a longtime family acquaintance. “He was all about getting started in business with his father, making good like his father. A family brings up a kid in a certain type of way when they want to bring you into the business.”

The elder Mr. Cicciaro, who is also named Dan, owns a towing and auto repair shop called Dano’s in Port Jefferson Station. The son had worked there part time from the age of 8, friends said.

The younger Mr. Cicciaro lived with his parents and a younger brother in a house built about two years ago on a private road in Terryville, across the street from a dairy farm. Like the new development where the Whites live, it sits in an unincorporated area in some of the last remaining wooded lots in the township of Brookhaven.

A neighbor said the young Mr. Cicciaro “was just a respectful, hello-how-are-you kind of kid.”

Neighbors of the Whites said they are among a small number of black families in the Miller Place development where they live, and have always seemed at ease in the community.

“He was a little touchy about his yard, that’s all,” said one neighbor, Tom Snow. “He had a few to-dos with people about parking in front of his house, or their kids running on his grass. Just look at his yard, he worked on it all the time.”

On the night of the killing, Mr. Snow said he did not hear the shooting but noticed the flashing red and blue police lights outside his window.

“When I stepped outside, that’s when I could hear Mrs. White screaming. She was screaming and screaming,” he said. “Mr. White and his son were sitting on the front steps. The boy had his arm around the father’s shoulder, and they looked like they were consoling each other.”

On the younger Mr. White’s MySpace Web page, he describes himself as a “typical student” at Suffolk County Community College, and a reader of Forbes magazine and the Harry Potter books. Under the category of “My heroes,” he wrote, “The Godfather, Jon Gotti, Bill Gates, but honestly most of all my daddy.”

The elder Mr. White was being held without bail at Suffolk County jail on charges of second-degree murder.

Questions and Doubts in a Texas Shooting Case
Published: December 23, 2007

PASADENA, Tex. — Even before the police called the night of Nov. 14, Stephanie Storey said, she knew that her fiancé of two days, Miguel Antonio DeJesus, was dead.
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Michael Stravato for The New York Times

Stephanie Storey was the fiancée of Miguel Antonio DeJesus, who was fatally shot Nov. 14 after robbing a Texas home.

Miguel Antonio DeJesus

She knew it, Ms. Storey said, because she had not been able to reach him all day, and because she was watching the news at 9 o’clock when she saw his body.

It was lying on a front lawn decorated for Christmas in a middle-class subdivision in this Houston suburb ringed by refineries, not far from the body of his sometime construction partner and childhood friend from Cali, Colombia, Diego Ortiz.

Both men, illegal immigrants, one with a prison record, had been riddled with shotgun pellets fired by a retired computer manager, Joe Horn, who called 911 that Wednesday about 2 p.m. to say he was watching them break into the house next door. “I’m not going to let them get away with it,” he told the emergency operator. “I’m going to shoot.”

“I’m going to kill them,” he said.

Moments later, the police said, Mr. Horn, disregarding the operator’s pleas to stay inside, confronted the fleeing pair in his front yard and, saying “Move, you’re dead,” fired three blasts of 00 buckshot from his 12-gauge, striking them in their backs as a plainclothes officer who had just pulled up ducked for cover. Both ran short distances before collapsing and dying, leaving behind a tire iron used to break open a window, a lock-punch and a pillowcase holding jewelry and about $2,000 cash from the neighbors, a Vietnamese family that ran a local dry-cleaners.

“I knew it was getting hard for them,” said Ms. Storey, 39, a medical assistant from Katy, west of Houston. But she said she doubted that Mr. DeJesus, an avid salsa dancer who had courted her on and off for seven years and wore paint-splattered clothes to job hunts outside the Home Depot, had made a career of theft. But she said she knew he had another identity and false Puerto Rican papers; his real name was Hernando Riascos Torres.

“If this was something he did,” she said, “he would have money and jewelry, and he never did.”

Either way, Ms. Storey said, they did not deserve to die. “We saw they were doing the crime; we can’t dispute that,” she said. “I’m not saying they were saints, but I’m sure they’d prefer to be behind bars than dead.”

The case has resonated beyond Texas, drawing international coverage and raising questions of race, self-defense and property rights.

Mr. Horn, 61, is white; Mr. DeJesus, 38, and Mr. Ortiz, 30, were dark-skinned Hispanics described by Mr. Horn to 911 as black. Both were Colombians in the United States illegally, the police said.

“If they were two white boys,” Ms. Storey said, “he would have given them the opportunity to stop.”

In his 911 call, Mr. Horn had cited a law that would have allowed him to protect his own home. But legal experts said the case probably falls under a Texas law allowing the use of deadly force to protect someone else’s property under certain conditions.

Many questions remain unanswered, including what happened in the final seconds, before Mr. Horn told the 911 operator, “I had no choice,” adding, “Man, they came running in my yard.”

Also unknown is how Mr. DeJesus and Mr. Ortiz got to Pasadena, about 15 miles outside Houston. Some recall seeing a silver truck with the words Ortiz Painting, but no vehicle was found after the shooting, so they could have been dropped off.

The Harris County district attorney, Charles A. Rosenthal Jr., said a grand jury would meet early in the new year to decide if Mr. Horn should face charges.

Mr. Horn’s lawyer, Charles T. Lambright, said last week that he was not inclined to put his client before the grand jury. “But if he gets indicted,” Mr. Lambright said, “certainly he would testify.”

Some are contrasting the case with that of another suburban Houston homeowner, Damon Barone, who shot dead a burglar who was climbing into his bedroom window at 2 a.m. on Dec. 14.

Mr. Horn, who lives with his daughter and her family, has been in seclusion but responded by e-mail last week to questions from The Houston Chronicle that did not concern details of the shooting. Known to his grandchildren as “Papa Joe” and to friends as “average Joe,” the paper said, Mr. Horn talked about his family and said he had never taken self-defense, had not been in the military and did not hunt.

In contrast, little has come out about the two dead men.

Ms. Storey said Mr. Ortiz was separated from his wife, who had their baby daughter, and had a relationship with a married woman. The Houston Chronicle last week quoted a woman who said she had been living with Mr. Ortiz and described him as “a very good guy, a sweet man.” The woman said he also had a son and daughter in Colombia.

Mr. DeJesus was a child of the streets who ended up in the Colombian army, Ms. Storey said. She said he boarded a smuggler’s boat for the United States, spent 10 days adrift and nearly died before being rescued and taken to Germany. From there, he made his way to the United States.

Capt. Bud Corbett of the Pasadena Police Department said Mr. DeJesus was convicted on drug charges in 1994 and sentenced to 25 years before being ordered deported 5 years later, though Ms. Storey questioned whether he ever left.

He was in Texas around 2000, Ms. Storey said, when she first met him at a west Houston salsa dance hall. She met him again last September, and he proposed on Nov. 12.

“We were going to take our tests on the 15th,” she said. ... ei=5087%0A
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. ... The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." -- James Madison
"Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt?" -- last words of Socrates, recorded by Plato (Phaedo 118a, tr. B. Jowett)
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