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VIDEO: Kenyan who killed an American woman in Tacoma car crash suffered from schizophrenia – Lawyer

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Kenyan born Win Gikonyo has pleaded insanity in a case where she has been charged with vehicular homicide in Tacoma, Washington.

Ms Gikonyo, 26, is said to have crashed her car into a Toyota Prius belonging to Ms Marianne Burton.

My client was suffering from hallucinations when she crashed her new Hyundai Elantra into 60-year-old Marianne Burton’s Toyota Prius, defense attorney Michael Stewart told the court.

“She was hearing voices shouting commands in her ear,” Stewart said. “… She felt that she could communicate with the traffic lights.”

Gikonyo wrote in a declaration filed with the court that she understands her plea means the court could hospitalize her indefinitely if she’s found to be a substantial danger to herself or others. She also understands that if the court finds she is not a substantial danger, it could put conditions on her release — including prohibiting her from driving.

A report filed by a psychologist at Western State Hospital this month diagnosed Gikonyo with “unspecified schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorder” and found her to be a low risk to re-offend or exhibit dangerous behavior.

Blood tests showed Gikonyo wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol when she drove more than 100 miles per hour, tried to pass two cars, then hit Burton’s car April 18, 2018 near 84th Street and McKinley Avenue.

Burton died at the scene.

Win Gikonyo appeared in Pierce County Superior Court, with her attorney Michael Stewart, right. Gikonyo pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to vehicular homicide for the Tacoma crash that killed Marianne Burton

Her family was not happy with the resolution of the case.

Her daughter, Amber Falaschi, told the court Tuesday that she doesn’t believe Gikonyo was insane at the time of the wreck. She argued that Gikonyo had held a job and bought a car — “things that insane people don’t generally do.”

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“She stole my mother’s life from everyone who knew her,” Falaschi said.

Members of the family of the crash victim. PHOTO I SCREENSHOT

Burton’s son, James Burton, told the court by phone that his mother had been less than two years from retirement when she died.

“My mother was robbed of her hard-earned retirement and her life,” he said.

Burton cleaned houses a few days a week and had been working at a pizza shop, according to News Tribune archives.

Her family said Burton was beloved by her cleaning clients and pizza shop coworkers, to whom she was a sort of store mom.

She was making a pizza delivery at the time of the crash.

Stewart read a letter that Gikonyo wrote in which she apologized to Burton’s family and said she hoped they could forgive her one day.

“I just want to tell you how sorry I am,” it read in part. “… Please know it was an accident.”

He said Gikonyo had moved out of her mother’s home before the wreck and isolated herself. Her mother didn’t know where she was for several months.

Charging papers said Gikonyo started rolling in the street as officers tried to speak with her after the wreck, and that at various points she hissed, spat and pretended to be dead.

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“She was suffering from hallucinations and is not legally responsible for her actions at the time,” Stewart said of the crash.

She underwent treatment at Western State and is responding very well to medication now, he said.

Superior Court Judge Frank Cuthbertson acknowledged that Tuesday was tough for Burton’s family.

“I know that this is not cathartic, that this is unsatisfying,” he told them. “… to lose a parent is terrible.”

When it comes to convicting someone of a crime, Cuthbertson told the family, a judge has to look at the act and the mental state of a defendant.

“You have to have both,” he said. “This is a classic case of when that comes into play.”

He noted that Gikonyo doesn’t have any criminal history.

The judge also said that she has prior hospitalizations for mental health treatment and for some reason discontinued her medication in the past.

“I’m concerned about her going off the medication, because this can’t happen again,” Cuthbertson said.

He ordered her held without bail pending a hearing in two weeks to discuss what mental health treatment Gikonyo will get going forward.

2018 Reporting: Woman accused of fatal wreck hissed, rolled in street and said ‘life goes on,’ charges say

A woman accused of causing a fatal crash in Tacoma rolled in the street, pretended to be dead in the ambulance and told police “Life goes on” after the wreck, records show.

Win Gikonyo, 25, was charged Friday with vehicular homicide for the death of Marianne Burton, 60. She is expected to appear in court this afternoon.

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Burton died Wednesday after Gikonyo tried to pass two cars on McKinley Avenue East while traveling more than 100 mph and slammed into Burton’s Toyota Prius, police said.

Nobody witnessed the collision but a passerby stopped moments later and found the Prius on a sidewalk near 84th Street East. The driver’s door was too damaged to open and debris was spread across the street.

Burton was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gikonyo was found about 200 feet south outside her new Hyundai Elantra, which lost both passenger side tires in the collision.

A witness told police Gikonyo sped past her just before the crash and veered into oncoming traffic to go around slower vehicles in the southbound lane.

When officers tried to speak to Gikonyo, she allegedly fell to her stomach, insisted on sitting on a tree branch rather than the curb and began rolling in the street.

She also rolled around in the back of the patrol car, hissing and spitting, according to charging papers.

Police came to draw blood later to see if she was under the influence and Gikonyo “laid on the gurney, rigid, and pretended to be dead,” records show.

She did not respond to questions and signed the wrong name when she was booked into Pierce County Jail.

When corrections officers asked if she understood another driver had been killed in the crash, she told them “Life goes on,” documents show.

 

– AGENCIES

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Diaspora

Kenyans among 300 people arrested over international online scams

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A global operation targeting online scams has led to nearly 300 arrests in 12 countries including Kenya.

According to Voice of America, the suspects include 167 from Nigeria, 74 in the United States, 18 in Turkey and 15 in Ghana.

Other arrests were in Turkey, Ghana, France, Italy, Japan, Malaysia and Britain.

A statement from the U.S Justice Department (DOJ) said: “Foreign citizens perpetrate many BEC scams.  Those individuals are often members of transnational criminal organizations, which originated in Nigeria but have spread throughout the world,” the statement reads.

The four month operation was led by the DOJ and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

During the operation, $3.7 million (Ksh.384million) was recovered, the U.S Justice Department (DOJ) said.

Christopher Wray, the FBI director warned: ”We’re sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these BEC schemes.”

The DOJ listed some of the scams that the fraudsters used to con their victims:

  • Romance scams
  • Employment opportunities scams,
  • Fraudulent online vehicle sales scams
  • Rental scams
  • Lottery scams

Among those arrested in Nigeria were 77 Nigerian suspects recently indicted in the United States on conspiracy charges of swindling businesses and individuals through a variety of internet scams, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said.

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The Nigerians allegedly used so-called Business Email Compromise schemes, “romance fraud” and schemes targeting the elderly to steal millions of dollars from their victims in the United States and elsewhere before transferring the funds to Nigeria through an extensive money laundering network, according to a 252-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed last month.

Others arrested during the recent operation face similar charges.

In the southern U.S. state of Georgia, two Nigerian nationals were arrested in connection with fraudulently directing a transfer of $3.5 million from a health care provider to accounts across the United States. In Miami, two others were charged with laundering more than $950,000 of proceeds of BEC scams and recruiting about 18 others to serve as “money mules.”

Widely used by Nigerian fraudsters, Business Email Compromise schemes involve targeting employees with access to company finances and tricking them into making unauthorized wire transfers into accounts controlled by swindlers.

$26 billion online scam

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, Business Email Compromise is a $26 billion online scam. Last year, BEC and its variant, Email Account Compromise, resulted in losses of nearly $1.3 billion, nearly twice as much as 2017.

Operation reWired was part of the Justice Department’s intensified efforts in recent years to crack down on internet financial fraud. Among other measures, the department has set up an internal BEC Counteraction Group to coordinate cases.

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Through the arrests, “we’re sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these BEC schemes: We’ll keep coming after you, no matter where you are,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “And to the public, we’ll keep doing whatever we can to protect you.”

U.S. and Nigerian officials credited the mass arrests to close cooperation and coordination between their law enforcement agencies.

“Our efforts in coordinating the EFCC/FBI joint operations in Nigeria recorded tremendous successes” against “the infamous yahoo-yahoo boys,” said the EFCC’s director of information, Mohammed Abba, according to AFP.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said the Justice Department has “increased efforts” to combat cyber-enabled financial crimes.

“The coordinated efforts with our domestic and international law enforcement partners around the world has made these most recent actions more successful,” Rosen said.

U.S. officials didn’t say whether they have asked Nigerian authorities to extradite the suspects wanted in multiple U.S. jurisdictions from California to Florida.

Hassan Mohammed Hassan, Nigeria’s deputy ambassador to the U.S., told VOA last month that Nigeria will consider any extradition request based on a “verifiable” case.

Last year, a law enforcement operation aimed at BEC scams resulted in the arrest of 74 people and the seizure of $2.4 million, according to the Justice Department.

READ ALSO:   Meet a young Kenyan woman who is behind a program to feed 1,200 needy kids

-AGENCIES

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USCIS Announces Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Opportunities

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it is accepting applications for two funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program that will provide up to $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country.

These competitive grant opportunities are open to organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics.

USCIS seeks to expand availability of high-quality citizenship and assimilation services throughout the country with these two grant opportunities:

  • Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services. (PDF) This grant opportunity will fund up to 36 organizations that offer both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to lawful permanent residents. Applications are due by Aug. 13, 2019.
  • The Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program. (PDF) This grant opportunity will fund up to four organizations to provide individualized services to lawful permanent residents who entered the United States under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program or were granted asylum. These services will help them to obtain the skills and knowledge required for successful citizenship and to foster a sense of belonging and attachment to the United States. This grant strives to promote long-term civic assimilation of those lawful permanent residents who have identified naturalization as a goal, yet may need additional information, instruction and services to attain it. Applications are due by Aug. 13, 2019.
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USCIS will take into account various program and organizational factors, including past grantee performance, when making final award decisions. In addition, all funded grant recipients must enroll in E-Verify as a regular employer within 30 days of receiving the award and remain as a participant in good standing with E-Verify throughout the entire period of grant performance. Funded grant recipients will be required to verify all new hires at hiring locations performing work on a program or activity that is funded in whole or in part under the grant.

USCIS expects to announce award recipients in September.

Since it began in 2009, the USCIS Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program has awarded approximately $82 million through 393 grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

To apply for one of these funding opportunities, visit grants.gov. For additional information on the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program for fiscal year 2019, visit uscis.gov/grants or email the USCIS Office of Citizenship at citizenshipgrantprogram@uscis.dhs.gov.

For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).

 

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US welcomed 756,000 new Citizens last year, set to welcome 34,000 this month

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WASHINGTON—Did you know that more than 756,000 people became new U.S. citizens in 2018? That’s one new citizen every 42 seconds! Share in the celebration during Constitution Week.

USCIS announced Friday that it will celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by welcoming nearly 34,300 new U.S. citizens during 316 naturalization ceremonies across the nation between Sept. 13 and 23.

The USCIS Constitution Week activities will feature a naturalization ceremony at the DAR Constitution Hall on Sept. 17, where USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli will administer the Oath of Allegiance and provide congratulatory remarks to 1,000 new U.S. citizens. View a list of other notable 2019 Constitution Week-themed naturalization ceremonies.

“Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, our great country adopted the United States Constitution, and as we celebrate Constitution Week, it is important to underscore the significance of citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution,” said Acting Director Cuccinelli. “These nearly 34,300 new U.S. citizens followed the law on their path to naturalization and now call the U.S. home. I can think of no better way to celebrate Constitution Week than to welcome thousands of new U.S. citizens who have assimilated, made a commitment to our great country, and have vowed to support the Constitution.”

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On Sept. 17, the nation observes Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, as part of Constitution Week (Sept. 17 to 23 this year). The commemoration honors both the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, and an observance that began in 1940 as “I Am an American Day.” Citizenship Day began in 1952, based on a law signed by President Harry Truman, and in 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed the first Constitution Week.

This time of year serves as an opportunity to celebrate the connection between the Constitution and citizenship and reflect on the meaning of becoming a citizen of the United States. USCIS welcomes approximately 650,000 to 750,000 citizens each year during naturalization ceremonies across the United States and around the world. In fiscal year 2018, USCIS naturalized more than 756,000 people, a five-year high in new oaths of citizenship.

To help applicants prepare to become U.S. citizens, USCIS provides study materials and resources available through the Citizenship Resource Center. In addition, the only official USCIS Civics Test application, USCIS: Civics Test Study Tools, is a mobile app that challenges users’ civic knowledge and is currently available for download in the Google Play and iTunes stores.

Following each naturalization ceremony, USCIS encourages new U.S. citizens and their families and friends to share their naturalization photos on social media using the hashtags #newUScitizen, #ConstitutionWeek, and #WethePeople.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Homeless Kenyan in Chile appeals for help

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow them on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and LinkedIn (/uscis).

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