2008 Elections: Question 2 on Permitting Slots Gambling in Maryland Approved Decisively

I opposed this ballot question. But the voters have spoken and have approved the Constitutional Amendment. Whether the slots gaming can produce sufficient revenue to provide $660 million to the schools is an open question.

Vote results on Question 2: YES: 59% or 1,348,082 votes, NO: 41% or 976,926 votes.

I believe that it is feeling that one can get revenue increases without a tax burden that attracted voters. But, the fiscal note to the bill in the Maryland General Assembly assumes the 1.4 billion will be made to fund the $660 million to the education trust fund in 2013.

Regardless, Maryland now permits slots gaming.

Evan Gargiulo: Denied Bond at Hearing; Prosecutor Presents Evidence that Taxi Driver Was in Seat Belt

[Note: Persons accused of a crime in the United States are presumed innocent until proven guilty.]

[Note 2: See my previous post for an update in the Post’s November 18, 2008 article.]

[Note 3: According to the The Daily Collegian (a Penn State University student newspaper), the final sentencing date is June 4, 2010. The newspaper also interviewed on of Mr. Gargiulo’s attorneys.]

The Washington Post reported an update on the case of Evan Gargiulo, 22, accused of killing taxi driver Mazhar Nazir, 49, in a alleged fare dispute. Mr. Gargiulo states that he shot Mr. Nazir while defending himself from Mr. Nazir.

However, this claim of self-defense was questioned at the bond hearing. The Post stated that the prosecutor presented evidence that Fairfax police found Mr. Nazir in a shoulder and hip seat belt fastened. Thus, it would seemingly be impossible for Mr. Nazir to jump over the seat to threaten Mr. Gargiulo. At best, Mr. Nazir would only be able to turn his head and body a bit in his driver’s seat.

The judge denied bond to Mr. Gargiulo, the Post reported.

Mazhar Nazir: Taxi Driver Said to be Model for Other Taxi Drivers, Considerate to Passengers in Distress

The story of Mazhar Nazir, a taxi driver who was allegedly killed by the accused, Evan Gargiulo (a passenger in Mr. Nazir’s taxicab), has been obscured by coverage of Mr. Gargiulo’s arrest and ongoing court hearings.

The Washington Post, through reporter Tom Jackman, has provided some detail about Mr. Nazir’s life in its November 18, 2008 article.

Mr. Nazir’s life had many characteristics of an immigrant to the United States.

Nazir, 49, had been driving a cab in the Washington area for more than 25 years, his friends said after the hearing, and moved to this country from Pakistan 33 years ago. He was married and lived with his wife and 12-year-old son in the Baileys Crossroads area of Fairfax.

Drivers and friends told the Post reporter that Mr. Nazir was not a violent person and came to the assistance of passengers who were in distress. Also, Mr. Nazir was said to provide assistance to fellow taxi drivers.

Other drivers and longtime friends said that Nazir was not violent, did not argue over money and often waived the fare of people in distress. Altaf Anjun told the story of Nazir picking up a distraught Russian woman at 3 a.m. in Georgetown. She had lost all her documentation and had no contact information for anyone in this country. Nazir took her to his home, fed her and helped her contact the Russian Embassy later that day, Anjun said.

‘He was always a friend,’ Anjun said, known as someone in the Pakistani community whom people could call for help. He once owned his own cab company, Anjun said, and ‘all wanted to drive for him.’

The story in my previous post noted that Mr. Nazir lent Mr. Gargiulo his cellphone so that Mr. Gargiulo could call his friend. This story seems to confirm the story of Mr. Nazir’s considerate behavior towards passengers in distress.

Evan Gargiulo: Anonymous Caller Provided Information about Crime

The Reston Connection provides more information on how police were led towards Evan Gargiulo as a suspect in the slaying of Mazhar Nazir. The Fairfax County police received an anonymous tip through the police department’s crime solver’s unit.

On Nov. 3, an anonymous caller contacted the Fairfax County Police Department’s Crime Solvers Unit and said Gargiulo committed the murder. On Nov. 4, detectives interviewed the caller, who told police that Gargiulo attended a Halloween costume party on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, dressed in a wetsuit, a neoprene diver’s jacket, neoprene diver’s boots and a blond wig, according to Fairfax County Circuit Court documents.

Police filed search warrants last week in Fairfax County Circuit Court last week to permit them to search Gargiulo’s residence in the 1700 block of Port Place in Reston as well as his 2007 Nissan Sport Utility vehicle.

The Reston Connection reported that Mr. Gargiulo’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 22, 2008.

For more information about the stages of a criminal case generally, click here. For Virginia’s criminal procedure law, click here.

Survivor Corps: Founds Operation Survivor Project to Assist U.S. Military Combat Veterans in Transitioning to Civilian Life

U.S. military veterans who serve in combat endure stresses and injuries that are unlikely to occur in civilian life. It is a duty of the nation to assist combat veterans return to their civilian lives. Some of those returning to civilian life, however, have suffered injuries and need assistance in making the transition to civilian life. One non-profit organization which offers a form of assistance is the Survivor Corps (formerly the Landmine Survivors network). [Note: I discovered this organization through receiving an email.]

The Survivor Corps works to end war violence through working with the survivors of war conflicts. Using their experience from assisting survivors of other conflicts, Survivor Corps works with U.S. military personnel who have suffered physical and psychological injuries while being involved in war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Having been involved in military conflict, returning U.S. military personnel with war injuries may have difficulty returning to civilian life.

Survivor Corps seeks to assist U.S. military personnel and their families in making this transition (called community reintegration by Survivor Corps) successfully. The community reintegration project for U.S. military personnel is titled, “Operation Survivor.”

Operation Survivor has three components:

  • Community partnerships in peer support which involves training organizations to connect transitioning U.S. military personnel with other transitioning U.S. military personnel who can assist them reintegrate with their communities,
  • SurvivorNet which is an online community of support, and
  • The development of collaborative solutions through working with government, business, and non-profit leaders for providing the services needed to reintegrate U.S. military personnel in their communities.

Evan Gargiulo: Presents Defense of Self Defense Against Allegations of the Homicide of a Taxicab Driver

[Note: Persons accused of a crime in the United States are presumed innocent until proven guilty.]

[Update 6/12/10: Last week the judge sentenced Mr. Gargiulo to 15 years in jail for the murder of Mr. Nazir.]

[Update 3/13/10: Mr. Gargiulo was found guilty of second degree murder in the case involving the death of Mazhar Nazir. Mr. Gargiulo was sentenced to 15 years in prison.]

[Update 3/8/10: The Washington Post reported that Mr. Gargiulo entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity (For more information, see Virginia Criminal Procedure chapter 11 and chapter 11.1). Lawyers informed Judge Bruce D. White that the trial should take four or five days (h/t to the commenter below).]

I have read a crime story in The Washington Post . The story of the accused, Evan Gargiulo, presents many questions to a reader.

Mr. Gargiulo is [accused of allegedly killing] alleged to have killed a taxicab driver, Mazhar Nazir, in a fare dispute ( according to Mr. Gargiulo). Mr. Gargiulo argues through his attorney that Mr. Nazir was shot as Mr. Gargiulo was protecting himself from Mr. Nazir.

According to the prosecutor, Mr. Gargiulo took a cab from downtown D.C. to Reston, VA (which is approximately a 21 mile distance). Because cabs charge by the mile, the fare was going to be rather high.

The story Mr. Gargiulo presents seems incomplete. I had to consider the decision of Mr. Gargiulo to stop first at his apartment ($75 fare) to retrieve his car keys (another set to replace those Mr. Gariulo states were stolen) and a gun. Then, Mr. Gargiulo had Mr. Nazir drive him with his car keys and his gun to his friend’s apartment in Tysons Corner. When they got there the fare increased to $130. It was in Tysons Corner that Mr. Gargiulo discovered that he did not have any money to pay the fare. The dispute ultimately led to Mr. Nazir being shot. The question is what went on during that dispute.

Perplexing questions that this case presents

  • If Mr. Nazir presented a threat, why did he lend Mr. Gargiulo his cellphone to call his friend?
  • Why did Mr. Gargiulo have Mr. Nazir driving such long distances?
  • A wetsuit does not usually have pockets and is tight fitting. So, would not Mr. Gargiulo know that he had a roll of cash in the wet suit?
  • If the Mr. Gargiulo’s story is true, why did Mr. Gargiulo stop to get a gun?
  • How come Mr. Gargiulo did not report his wallet, car keys, and cellphone stolen while he was in D.C.? How did he carry these items in his wetsuit? [The Penn State college newspaper, The Daily Collegian, states that Mr. Gargiulo carried a bag that held the items he claims were stolen].
  • How come Mr. Gargiulo did not discover that he did not have any money when he went to his apartment?
  • Why did Mr. Gargiulo park his car at his friend’s home and not his own?

I cannot presume to know the answers to these questions. That is the job of the grand jury and, if the case goes to trial, the petit jury.  A potential problem is the lack of witnesses. As the case is presented in the Post, only two people have knowledge of what occurred that night in the cab: Mr. Gargiulo and Mr. Nazir (deceased).

The situation is distressing as it appears that Mr. Nazir lost his life for $130.

UPDATE 11/18:

The Post reported that the prosecutor offered the state’s version of events, which possibly adds details to the questions posed above.

[Note: These details come from the prosecutor. Mr. Gargiulo could offer evidence which rebut these statements.]

  • Mr. Gargiulo told police that he wore a scuba wetsuit to a nightclub’s Halloween party. Mr. Gargiulo carried his wallet, keys, and cellphone in a separate bag, which he said was stolen.
  • Mr. Gargiulo told police that he thought he had $200 in his wetsuit.
  • Mr. Gargiulo told Fairfax police that once he got to his Reston, VA apartment, he saw his gun and decided to take it. He did this because he felt vulnerable after having his wallet and cellphone stolen.
  • Mr. Gargiulo reported the items (wallet, cellphone, and car keys) stolen to D.C police later [November 1 or November 2 (article is unclear on this point)].

The new facts present additional questions to a reader:

  • How did Mr. Gargiulo carry his gun?
  • How long was Mr. Gargiulo in his apartment?
  • Why did Mr. Gargiulo not negotiate with Mr. Nazir over payment of the $130 fare just like he did at the club?
  • Why would Mr. Gargiulo feel vulnerable with a taxi driver he negotiated with in D.C. to take him all the way to Reston, VA (near Washington Dulles airport)?
  • Why would Mr. Gargiulo need a gun in Reston, VA?
  • The loss of a wallet, cellphone, and car keys is distressing. Why did Mr. Gargiulo wait so long to report them as stolen. A stolen cellphone is a mobile credit card, which allows the thief to run up a tab on the owner’s account. A wallet usually contains a person’s identification, cash, credit cards, and other dear items. Usually it is upsetting even to misplace one’s wallet in one’s own home. Car keys: a loss will require the car to get new locks (a potentially expensive proposition).

ACRI Ballot Initiative (Colorado, Nebraska): Anti-Affirmative Action Amendment 46 Is Narrowly Rejected by Voters; Nebraska Voters Approve Anti-Affirmative Action Initiative 424

Despite promoting a “Super Tuesday for Civil Rights,” in five states (Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Arizona, and Oklahoma), the anti-affirmative action initiative from the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) only made it onto the ballots in Colorado and Nebraska. [Note: Please search under “Colorado” or “Nebraska” to find my previous posts on this subject.]

Election day produced a surprising result in Colorado and an expected result in Nebraska.

In Colorado, Amendment 46, sponsored by the ACRI, was narrowly defeated at the polls. The result was NO (50.7% or 1,061,396 votes), YES (49.3 or 1,033,865 votes).

I predicted that the ballot initiative would pass in Colorado. Because it has not, I am happy to eat my words.

However, in Nebraska, a similarly worded initiative as Colorado’s, was approved by voters. Initiative 424’s vote result was YES (58% or 389,372 votes), NO (42% or 287,233 votes). This result was the one I predicted.

Ward Connerly states in the Colorado Independent that he may abandon the drive to end affirmative action to campaign for reforming the use of mandatory minimum sentencing.