Archive for Thursday, December 2, 2010

Vet charged with stalking Westboro church members

December 2, 2010


— Prosecutors Thursday charged a decorated, double-amputee veteran with stalking and three counts of criminal use of weapons in an incident involving members of a controversial Topeka church.

Ryan J. Newell, 26, an Army veteran living in Marion, Kan., made his first appearance in Sedgwick County District Court through a video connection with the Sedgwick County Jail.

He also was charged with false impersonation. His bond remains at $500,000.

Sedgwick County sheriff’s detectives arrested Newell mid-morning Tuesday in the Wichita City Hall parking lot after a detective saw him following a van with members of Westboro Baptist Church, Sheriff Robert Hinshaw said.

The church members were meeting in City Hall with police officials. Detectives found Newell in a vehicle backed into a parking space. In the vehicle, investigators found two handguns, a rifle and more than 90 rounds of ammunition. Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives went to Newell’s home, and his wife turned over items including firearms to law enforcement.

The Topeka church has drawn wide condemnation because its members protest at soldiers’ funerals nationwide. The members claim that war deaths are God’s punishment for immorality.

Newell lost his legs after an improvised bomb exploded while he was serving in Afghanistan in 2008. Some of his fellow soldiers died in the attack.

The church did not protest at funerals of the soldiers who were killed in the bombing that wounded Newell, said Westboro spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper.

Newell has received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Marion residents put on a parade for Newell when he returned home from Afghanistan and pitched in to help build his family a new home through the nonprofit group Homes for Our Troops. The home was designed to accommodate his injuries.


To Sides 7 years, 4 months ago

False impersonation? Why aren't the Phelps arrested for false impersantion of religion?

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 4 months ago

From the Koran: The Disbelievers: [109.6] You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.

The Phelps have their own religion. It's just a little different than you're used to.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 4 months ago

This man needs to be judged by a jury of his peers - that is, only wounded vets should be allowed to be on the jury.

That's what the Constitution of the United States specifies, so be it.

Liberty275 7 years, 4 months ago

LOL. Maybe Timothy McVeigh's jury should have been composed of right-wing militia members too. Wouldn't that have been a hoot.

LogicMan 7 years, 4 months ago

One time I might actually enjoy serving on a jury! We'd tell the judge to just forget about the prosecution and defense presentations, and send us straight to the deliberation room. Done in two minutes, guaranteed. And that would be just to elect a foreman to read the two word finding.

DGL 7 years, 4 months ago

Ryan Newell, you are an American Hero! Thank you for serving our country and all of the sacrifices you have made. We don't need to throw a decorated veteran who fought for America under the bus or give Phelps anymore justification for his actions.

gphawk89 7 years, 4 months ago

"criminal use of weapons" What exactly did he do with the weapons? Is it illegal to have weapons in your vehicle? Need a bit more information here.

Mr. Newell, thank you for your service. The Phelps gang should thank you as well. In some other parts of the world they'd all be dead already.

gogoplata 7 years, 4 months ago

Or #5, the cops just make something to charge you with.

Bob Forer 7 years, 4 months ago

Can't think of a better "jury nullification" case than this one.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

This is sad. Another vet has been victimized by the Phelps clan, only this one is still alive. This man has been through so much already and undoubtedly has PTSD. Here's hoping the "justice" system treats him kindly. Either way, the military trained him to be a killer and I have no doubt he saw them as "the enemy". Sad. Very sad.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 4 months ago


But the second amendment of the Constitution states: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

kernal 7 years, 4 months ago

Maybe someone or some organization will set up a defense fund for him, once more information about the man and the incident becomes available. and the circumstances are fully reviewed. Things like he's not had other stalking incidents or criminal record, etc.

Please don't take that as a slam against this vet, just a precautionary statement since this is a "breaking" story. My first thought was, "Atta, boy"; my second thought was he snapped. Given his circumstances, it's understandable.

I don't think enough returning vets are getting all the support they need from our military, or the people, especially the injured and traumatized.

weeslicket 7 years, 4 months ago

from the article: Prosecutors Thursday charged a decorated, double-amputee veteran with stalking ...... involving members of a controversial Topeka church.

just because i think this is ironical.

(but did.i.say.that already beat me to it.)

BlackVelvet 7 years, 4 months ago

I believe he was just exercising HIS first amendment rights to expression!

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 4 months ago

I wonder how difficult it will be to find a jury pool that has not heard of and already formed an opinion about the Westboro Baptist Church. If they can't find at least twelve jurors that haven't already formed an opinion about the WBC, they'll have to drop the charges, won't they?

Ralph Vickers 7 years, 4 months ago

STALKING?? What is the proof? These people desecrate the very flag he is fighting for, insult the soldiers that died, and HE is charged? Are the Phelps now own the law enforcements in Wichita? Sounds like a commie conspiracy to me. Phelps hide behind their so called BAPTIST CHURCH. NO RELIGION I ever heard of act like they do. SIC, SIC, SIC.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 4 months ago

In case you weren't already aware of this, every denomination of Baptist Church has denounced the Phelp's hijacking of the name "Baptist". There have been lawsuits attempted, but every one has failed, since "baptist" is actually an English word which anyone is free to use.

It is very much like how some extremists have hijacked the Koran and Muslim beliefs in order to further their political agenda.

bigdave 7 years, 4 months ago

Ryan Newell, you are an American Hero! Thank you for serving our country and all of the sacrifices you have made. Thank You!

somedude20 7 years, 4 months ago

unless you are bi then you choose to be heterosexual or homosexual from partner to partner

imastinker 7 years, 4 months ago

You're really splitting hairs here. He's just trying to say that he's not judgmental of others' lifestyle. If more folks were like that the world would be a better place.

amesn 7 years, 4 months ago

How nice of crazy Shirley to add that they didn't protest any of the funerals of Newell's fellow soldiers that were killed in the bombing that disabled him for that somehow implies Newell was the crazy one to 'stalk' them. Yea Shirley, he had no reason to be provoked after the countless other funerals you've protested. Honestly it sounds like he was just chillin in a parking lot..maybe he had some business to take care of at city hall that morning unrelated to the WBC Klan

kusp8 7 years, 4 months ago

I say throw him another parade right down Gage Boulevard in Topeka by Fred's commune. Anybody want to get the permit?

Liberty275 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm a vet and if i were sitting on a jury and it was proven to me he indeed stalked any American with the intent of injuring them because he doesn't like what or how they say something, I'd vote guilty in a heartbeat. When it's OK to be stalked for exercising your constitutional rights, phelps won't be the only person in some lunatic's sights.

What I find sad is that if he is guilty, he has shirked off his sworrn oath to protect the constitution because he has found out it means sometimes defending what you hate. I can only hope for his sake he is suffering from manageable mental problems.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

I hope Newell will be ok. I sympathize with his feelings and respect his service and sacrifice. If he was planning to shoot the Phelps then he should be in trouble. We don't need assassins. Political assassination . left, right, or against mean crazies isn't and shouldn't be the American way to handle differences. If you want to spit in the Phelps eye, get our Congressmen and Senators to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" If you want to spit in Phelps eye stand up against hatred.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 4 months ago

It could be an opportunity to defend by attack. Drag every one of those cretins into court until the jury is about to explode.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

How much you want to bet they have protesters across from the courthouse during his trial?

BorderRuffian 7 years, 4 months ago

This is certainly no surprise. On two counts.

First, it utterly amazes me that something more dire than this has not happened thus far. With the Phelpses desecrating everything our soldiers and vets hold sacred, including spewing hate during their funerals, it amazes me that the Phelpses remain untouched. This is more a testimony to the high morals and discipline of our veterans than anything else. How we as a country allow these Phelpses, scum of the earth, the worst example of humanity, to desecrate the lives, service, and memories of our very finest citizens - our soldiers - is beyond me.

Secondly, it also utterly amazes me that once again, our legal system will serve to persecute (and prosecute) someone like Ryan Newell for excercising his own First Amendment rights (did Ryan actually harm anyone?) to protest against those who, while abusing their own First Amendment rights, continue to crap on everyone else.

Please, oh please, let me be on Ryan's jury. Just two words - "NOT GUILTY!"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

Stalking the Phelpses while armed to the teeth, possibly with illegal weaponry, is not " excercising his own First Amendment rights."

What if he'd actually managed to attack them? And what if innocent bystanders or police had been killed or injured as well? Would he still be a hero?

topeka52 7 years, 4 months ago

Mr. Newll lost his legs in service to our country by a IED. Fred and WBC hold signs that say "Thank God For IED's", wouldn't that provoke most folks who have payed dearly for WBC's first ammendment right to free speach

Amy Heeter 7 years, 4 months ago

"two handguns, a rifle and more than 90 rounds of ammunition." Just what do you think he needs all that ? When George Tiller was shot and killed in his church the same lot of you cried for justice, but now the screw has turned While I don't agree with what Fred does ( that goes way back to hating fags) I do not think it is ok for anyone wether decorated or not to have 90 rounds and guns in a vehicle. lf some of you think it is just fine for Fred Phelps to be killed then you shouldn't have jumped so fast on the soapbox when Tiller was killed. Now me I could care less if the whole Phelps clan is eliminated but that is not up to me to determine. it isn't up to the decorated soldier either or you.

unite2revolt 7 years, 4 months ago

Two handguns and a rifile can pretty quickly add up to 90 rounds of ammo. For example two 9mm semi-auto pistols with 15 round magizines + a spare magizine for each is 60 rounds of ammo. Add one magizine for a semi-auto rifle which commonly holds 30 rounds and you have a total of ninety rounds with only two reloads. I have often in the past carried hundreds of rounds with me when going to target shoot, and yeah they were in my car with my guns. It doesn't mean I was planning to kill anyone. That said, this was obviously some very good police work on some officers part. Now its up to the court system to decide if he was guilty of any of these charges or not. I am not real sure why the wife surrendered additional firearms from the house that weren't involved in the arrest. I suspect part of the gun related charges are based on the fact that he was on city property with them at the time of his arrest.

Amy Heeter 7 years, 4 months ago

Yeah but target practice at city hall? Wouldn't that be a sniper? As far as Tiller goes he killed many children in his time. Tiller's killer is in prison as he should be. Who has Fred or any of the Phelps killed? I read alot of posts on here about hate crimes but the same people who rage about that are now saying it would be good if Fred were killed. I wouldn't mourn if someone killed Fred but I do not advocate anyone doing so. Which BTW is exaxtly the way I felt about Tiller.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

Most likely what he really needs is to be treated for his PTSD.

And if he's going to stalk anybody, and much more rational target would be those who sent him to Afghanistan to maim and be maimed for no good reason.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

I wasn't advocating his attacking them. I was merely pointing out that if he were looking for someone to attack, it would be a more logical target.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

It was only a matter of time and in my opinion won't be the last. Members of the military, especially combat vets, consider themselves "family". Why? Because only a combat vet knows what hell another combat vet goes through. It's a relationship forged in fire out of necessity to save your own life. So often violence is the last resort of a person too frustrated to know what else to do and these people are trained in violence. Phelps has always been extremely careful to stay just within the letter of the law but in the end he needs to learn that hate begets hate and there are people out there not so careful to stay within those boundaries. "For whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." " For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind."

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

If you want to spit in Phelp's face, mention his name when you email Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback . Ask them to repeal Don't ask, Don't tell. It isn't a waste of time. If they want to know how people feel, they need to hear it.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 4 months ago

Where's the ACLU to stick up for this guy when we need it? If they'll stick up for NAMBLA, why not defend this dude?

gogoplata 7 years, 4 months ago

The guy did nothing wrong.

To many fools making to many rules.

Tom McCune 7 years, 4 months ago

I've got an idea. How about arresting the WBC for stalking vets? That makes much more sense.

Christine Anderson 7 years, 4 months ago

Too bad Ryan Newell's trial (and there shouldn't even be one) can't be held in Harrisonville, Mo. Agnostick and Border Ruffian, well put.

Phuck Phred.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

Liberals have been more responsible in support vets than many conservatives. They vote for the GI bill while others put plastic ribbons on their SUV. Each is entitled to their choice in how to support the troops. You must not know history. If this moves you to support all the vets, ask Roberts and Brownback to repeal Don't ask, Don't tell.

Grammaton 7 years, 4 months ago

As a former 8404 Corpsman, I completely empathize with Newell. I wish he hadn't brought upon himself the impersonation charge, but he has courage. A salute and a swig for him.

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