Archive for Sunday, June 25, 2006

Video leads to barrage of mail

Writers deluge D.A. after CNN posts tape on boy’s beating in Newton

June 25, 2006


Hate mail poured into Douglas County Dist. Atty. Charles Branson's mailbox Friday after Lawrence resident Dale Vestal released a video showing his son getting beaten by another boy at a basketball game.

The writers demand prosecution. And most of them don't ask nicely.

The only problem: From Lawrence, Branson can't do much. The video of the brutal fight was shot in Newton, some 150 miles away.

"It just didn't happen here," Branson said.

The mail - most of it electronic - began flowing in after 24-hour news network CNN posted the video of the beating on its Web site, Branson said. The tagline on the bottom of the video read "Lawrence, Kansas," leading concerned viewers from all over the country to send Branson messages demanding he file charges.

Any e-mail sent to the DA's Web site goes straight to him, Branson said, so the barrage of profanity-strewn messages popped up first thing Saturday morning on Branson's BlackBerry.

"They're less than cordial," Branson said of the mail.

The video was shot during a Mid America Youth Basketball tournament in March and has garnered national attention from news networks.

The video shows Vestal's son, Coulter, being thrown to the ground by another boy, then being punched repeatedly while he lay motionless.

Joanne Lechleiter, an assignment editor for CNN, said that the video labeling the incident as happening in Lawrence was all a mix-up.

The video, sent by CNN's Kansas City affiliate, carried a Lawrence tag line because it included an interview with Vestal from Lawrence.

Vestal originally released the video in an attempt to get law enforcement in Newton to file charges against his son's unidentified attacker.

Lechleiter said the hate mail sent to Branson was entirely unintended.

"The dad was in Lawrence," she said. "That's why the locator said that."

When Lechleiter found out about the problem, she called Branson and explained what happened.

For now, the video will remain on the CNN site, and Branson said most of the people who felt compelled to write him likely already had done so.

Branson said he wanted people to understand he couldn't file charges even if he wanted to. He responded to all of the e-mails, but that might be as much as he is willing to do, he said.

When asked whether he would forward the e-mails to Harvey County Dist. Atty. David Yoder, who would handle any prosecution in the case, he said, "Some, I don't think they are very forwardable."

Yoder said Friday that his office had received the police reports on the case and had them reviewed for possible prosecution.


Sigmund 11 years, 11 months ago

Way to funny. Did I mention Geraldo is coming to town?

Mike Birch 11 years, 11 months ago

If no charges are going to be filed in this incident that

occured in Newton, which was clearly an assault and

battery I think the city of Newton needs a new district



sweetpeagj 11 years, 11 months ago

I agree. If a very exploited video footage of the incident should have made the Newton DA already file charges and gotten the ball rolling. Branson should use all his influence as DA here to ensure this father that he would help keep this in the attention of the Harvey County DA.

reginafliangie 11 years, 11 months ago

Can people not read?? It says plainly in the news release that this occuried in Newton, Kansas. What is the Lawrence DA going to do about Newton?? See, this is what happens when people get upset about a news event and don't get all the facts or even read the article correctly and jump to conclusions, and start spouting off comments. This event was horrible and I certainly hope that justice is done.

classclown 11 years, 11 months ago

Reginafliangie if you'd notice the posts by DownHomeDude and sweetpeagj are about the Newton DA.

Might I suggest a second cup of coffee and then come back and read the posts again?

Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

reginafliangie 11 years, 11 months ago

I was commenting on the subjects who sent hate mail to the DA not the posters. Sorry I was not clear on that.

classclown 11 years, 11 months ago

"Can people not read?? It says plainly in the news release that this occuried in Newton, Kansas. What is the Lawrence DA going to do about Newton?? See, this is what happens when people get upset about a news event and don't get all the facts or even read the article correctly and jump to conclusions, and start spouting off comments. This event was horrible and I certainly hope that justice is done."


Upon having a second cup of coffee myself, I have come to the conclusion that this statement was most likely not directed at the above posters but at the general populace of idiots that barraged the Douglas County DA.

My apologies to you reginafliangie. I'm so used to everyone here flaming all the other posters that I failed to discern who your post was directed at.

I offer myself and this unfortunate incident as proof that yes, a second cup of coffee does work wonders.

classclown 11 years, 11 months ago

Looks like you responded while I was in the middle of typing my lengthy responce. I don't type well so I am slow.

reginafliangie 11 years, 11 months ago

No problem, I've been up and at 'em since before the birds. I will give you time to catch up. lol

dthroat 11 years, 11 months ago

OK, I want to know what is in the coffee you two are drinking. Two posters on this board who notice a mistake, make apology, and get it accepted without continuing personal attacks and get totally off the track of the article.

I might have to print this as history.

GOOD JOB to both of you. (and I am being sincere - it is appreciated)

dthroat 11 years, 11 months ago

And I forgot---- I've heard Geraldo is coming to town!!!!

Bob Reinsch 11 years, 11 months ago

Any word on whether or not Huggins has offered the player from Wichita a scholarship to play at K-State yet?

reginafliangie 11 years, 11 months ago

Hey, I appreciate the positive comments, thank you dthroat. I just try to be human. With or without coffee. lol

KansasPerson 11 years, 11 months ago

Regina and classclown:

I got the impression from the article above that these people who sent the hate e-mails to our DA had not, in fact, read ANY article. They had merely seen footage of the fight on the CNN website, with the tag or label "LAWRENCE, KANSAS" at the bottom of the film.

So while I'm not condoning the hate mail they sent, I am saying that they did not necessarily read the news release.

It's odd that CNN, "The News Leader" or whatever they call themselves, made such a rookie mistake.

GardenMomma 11 years, 11 months ago

What I find troubling is that people are so quick to demand justice in such a hateful way. Some of those e-mails are "unfowardable" according to the Lawrence DA. Why is it that people have to be uncivil when making a point?

Maybe that's part of the problem in the world today. People have forgotten basic manners. One's point can get across without the use of profanity. Demanding justice on the part of another is commendable, but hate mail is not the way to ask.

fletch 11 years, 11 months ago

Okay, I hate to be the one to point this out to some of you, but I guess I'll be that guy.


Okay, phew. Got that off my chest. We have a Douglas County D.A., Mr Branson, and we have a Harvey County D.A., Mr Yoder. Sorry to be anal retentive about it, but if we're going to discuss a civics issue, it's probably best to at least seem like we know what's going on.

Nonsense 11 years, 11 months ago

I had to chime in. There is no Harvey County DA. He is a county attorney. Branson is 1 of only 6 DA's in Kansas.

GardenMomma 11 years, 11 months ago

Well, excuuuuuuuuse me. I did mean the District Attorney of Douglas County.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 11 months ago

justice should be done in some way no doubt I think any DA would like this case right about now. I mean hey Geroldo? fox, cnn and everyother news agency latched on. Does a career good.... unless you go against duke and all that. now that case has more twists and turns than an highway in ozark country.

LongGoneFromLarryville 11 years, 11 months ago


To cover the atrocities wrought upon the citizens of this fine metropolis by the State Board of Education?

To get to the bottom of the roundabout conspiracy?

To interview Guy Neighbors and take down the LPD?

Inquiring minds want to know!

bearded_gnome 11 years, 11 months ago

note error occurred on CNN (definitely not "the most trusted"), did not occur on Fox News, who had the story first, too.
sad these people automaticly resort to flaming and didn't even have the right target. sad, the DG Co. Dad had to bring the video to public display to get justice for his kid.
hope net effect is to make other thug-kids think twice before wallopping away on the court, and thug dads from encouraging it.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 11 months ago

Interesting thing about human behavior, gnome. It's the anonimity of the internet and e-mail that makes nasty people think it's perfectly safe to send profanity-filled messages to others.

There wouldn't be nearly as many of them if all those nasty people had to sign their real names to them, and it was possible for everyone to know who they were, where they lived, who they work for, and who their neighbors are. Far too many people are willing to send hateful, ugly, foul letters to others, if they know they will remain anonymous. (These boards are a good example of that.) If they knew they had to do it publicly, in front of a camera, and everyone would know who they were, most of them would opt out.

These people should know that it's quite easy to trace an e-mail back to the sender. Sending hate-filled, profanity-filled, threatening e-mails is also against the law in most areas. Every ISP or e-mail provider online has Terms Of Service that are supposed to be followed, and most all of them have rules against this very kind of thing. In other words, in order to receive this service, users have to agree not to do this kind of stuff. If they find out that you've violated the TOS, then at the very least they can terminate your service.

The article didn't say that the D.A. had any such intentions, but he could legally decide to prosecute some of the nastiest senders.

Probably not worth the effort, but I'd like to think that the possibility would make the senders think twice next time before being so juvenile and hateful.

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