…or, The Birth and Death of a Spinoff Web Site
Sure: a picture is “worth 1,000 words.” Sometimes it’s worth 1,000 minutes on your cell phone plan, as in this case. The story, from True’s 27 December 2009 issue:
You Ought to Be in Pictures
A woman was robbed at gunpoint in Philadelphia, Penn. One of the things taken was her cell phone, and the robber allegedly used it to take a snapshot of himself — holding his gun to his own head. The phone was programmed to upload all photos to the woman’s computer, and she forwarded it to detectives. “We really appreciate him taking a picture of himself,” a police spokesman said as it was released to the media. The photo got so much coverage in local media that Kadeem Cook, 18, turned himself in; he has been charged with robbery. (Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer) …Hey, if he wants a cell so bad, the state is ready to give him one — for 3-5 years.
And the photo:
Which Led To…
The popularity of this photo led to the creation of a new web site, Mug Shot Museum — which sure enough had amazing traffic: it quickly ramped up to the Top 45,000 web sites in the country!
Yet “no one” clicked the ads, which meant the huge traffic load wasn’t paid for, let alone the time and effort to create the pages.
Plus, other mug shot sites quickly followed on, and they solved the income problem this way: by demanding payment from the perpetrators to remove their photo. I had no intention of playing that slimy game, so I pulled the plug.
The victim who cracked the case was just one of four in Cook’s robbery spree; one included an unsuccessful carjacking. All were apparently able to pick Cook out of a lineup. He was convicted of three counts of robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of attempted robbery of a motor vehicle, and three counts of possessing an instrument of crime. In January 2011, he was sentenced to 8–20 years in prison; more than I predicted, probably in part because I didn’t know about the other robberies.
Still, Cook appealed. The appeals court upheld the ruling. In a second appeal, saying his lawyer was ineffective because he failed to establish an alibi, was also rejected. In that 2014 ruling, the court noted that even in his appeals, Cook didn’t provide an alibi, let alone four of them. Plus, the evidence of guilt was “overwhelming” — not the least of which was the photo uploaded by victim Danielle Dickson’s phone. It upheld the conviction and sentence again.
Cook was released in February 2019 after serving approximately the minimum of his sentence, and is on parole. I hope to never have the need to write about him again.
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