A 26-year-old double-amputee war veteran has been charged with stalking members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, which holds demonstrations at soldiers' funerals to assert those deaths are God's punishment for America's "sin of homosexuality."
Retired Sgt. Ryan Newell of Marion, Kansas, a turret gunner who lost both legs to an improvised bomb in Afghanistan in 2008, is being held in Sedgwick County, Kansas, in lieu of $500,000 bail, and defense attorney Boyd McPherson was negotiating with prosecutors Monday to reduce the bail, he told CNN in an interview.
I've seen diaries asking for, and getting, monetary assistance for a number of people, here on Daily Kos, over the past couple of years.
I'd like to think that helping a double-amputee Afghan War Vet would be something kossacks would be interested in doing...
I spoke just now with Kerri, at the offices of Attorney Boyd McPherson, who is representing Sgt. Ryan Newell in this case.
The Sgt. has today been released on his own recognizance, with the caveat that he check
in with the Veterans Administration into the Veteran's Administration Hospital.
However, he does have, and will have some serious legal bills to deal with over this matter, and he is facing some serious charges relating to weapons. He has a wife and four children, so I'm guessing that he could really use some assistance at this time...
So, if you are interested in assisting this veteran, who is now being drawn into the web of the litigous Westboro Baptist group - who routinely protest at the funerals of soldiers across the land, and who are expected to protest the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards...
Please consider sending some assistance to Sgt. Ryan Newell's Defense Fund.
Kerri says they don't have a PayPal link available yet, but that checks can be mailed to:
Sgt. Ryan Newell Defense Fund
500 N Market St
Witchita, KS 67214
The attorney's contact info, for anyone who may have other assistance for this Veteran:
500 North Market Street
Wichita, KS 67214-3514
FYI - I have no connection to the Sgt. or his family in any way. I simply read about him today and felt that our community might consider assisting him and his family in this time of need.
I wanted to get the diary up, but as I can garner any more information regarding Sgt. Newell, I'll add.
Update One: Background on Sgt. Ryan Newell from the website of the organization (Homes for for our Troops) that helped his family get a home, after he returned from his service and rehabilitation.
Update Two: CBS News story with a bit more details.
God might not hate Westboro Baptist Church, but he might be a little embarrassed
While two wrongs never make a right, most of us can understand a wounded war veteran like Sgt Ryan Newell being angry at the Westboro Baptist Church, and many veteran's group have shown their support to the man who lost both of his legs to an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) in Afghanistan. Fellow veterans have even gone so far as to raise $3,500 for his legal defense.
As you can see, he is already receiving some assistance, but I hope that he'll also get some from our community, too.
Due to comments on whether or not the Sgt. is deserving of assistance, due to the nature of the charges, I'll add one of my responses and one by DaNang65:
...the Homes for our Troops website, shows that he is a outdoors type "SGT Newell enjoys hunting, boating, golfing and photography."
The reports don't say that he was arrested carrying weapons, but that the 3 weapons were found in the vehicle.
It is entirely supposition, to determine whether those weapons were routinely carried in the vehicle, or if he had any nefarious use of them in mind, on the day he was arrested.
I'm focusing on the facts of his service, his injuries from that service, and the fact that no person was injured.
From this basis, I feel that he is deserving of support with his defense.
Perhaps more to the point let's suppose a worst case scenario: Sgt. Newell went then and there with those weapons, and at least the possibile intent that he might use those weapons. Suppose he had even formed the specific intent to kill them, Lord knows he had reason enough to be outraged by them, he still didn't do it. He was intercepted by the police before the harm was done. He may have just changed his mind and drove away.
And if that's all he did, or was going to do, so what? He's earned at least that much understanding.
And as for the benefit of the doubt, he loses that with me the day he regains those legs he left in Afghanistan.
New CNN posting, with video link:
Excerpts - (Shirley Phelps-Roper is the daughter of the leader of the Westboro Baptist group [WBG])
"Isn't this an amazing turn of events?" Phelps-Roper said. "These young people have gone to war with broken moral compasses and now they think they are in charge and that the mob is ruling the country.
"He comes with his cache of weapons and 90 rounds of ammunition, and he's going to kill us because we're simply saying that if you stop sinning, God will stop this pain in Iraq and Afghanistan," Phelps-Roper said.
"He thinks (if he is released on bail), he is going to go back and try it again. He's already had a God-smack, and he's going to try to get another one again. This time he's not going to lose his limbs. He's going to lose his life. God is going to kill him. He warned, 'Don't touch my people,'" Phelps-Roper said.
The CNN article notes that these charges stem from complaints by the WBG that:
"...a stranger's car was following her and other church members after they picketed the high school in Mulvane, Kansas, "where they are teaching rebellion against God," she said. Phelps-Roper said she later learned that Newell was the driver of that car."
The Phelps family (who are, after all, reportedly the only members of this supposed church group) can terrorize Veterans and their families on the worst day of their lives, but another Veteran who "followed" the WBG on a single day is a stalker?