STORIES BY KETAN “KJ” NAROTAM

Instructional Video: How to Setup VoiceMeter Banana

Published: December 9, 2020

Video

In this instructional video I show you how to make any quality microphone sound like it’s from a studio without breaking the bank using a free program called VoiceMeter Banana.

Project Cold Case: Jermaine Crumpton

Published: Dec. 9, 2020

Jermaine “Ball” Crumpton of Clearwater, Florida, was the Grinch when it came to the Christmas holiday, according to his sister Sabrina Stubbins.

Jermaine “Ball Crumpton”. Photo Courtesy of Project Cold Case.

Sabrina said she remembers her brother being stingy on Christmas- he would never buy gifts for anyone. However, Jermaine’s title of being the Grinch changed to Santa Claus on Christmas 2017 when he randomly decided to buy everyone presents.

“I was shocked when my mom told me Ball got me a gift card for Christmas,” said Sabrina. “I immediately called him up to thank him and say I love you.”

It would be the last time Sabrina said “I love you” to her brother. 

Jermaine died from severe injuries at the Bayfront Health-St. Petersburg hospital on the morning of January 3,2018. He had been robbed and shot five times in the back the night before, in his room at a Super 8 Motel in Clearwater, where he had been living. Jermaine’s homicide has never been solved. He was 44 years old.

“We were a close-knit family and did everything together,” said Sabrina. “We especially loved to travel and have been all over the United States and Canada.”

As a kid, Jermaine loved to watch cartoons and liked all types of music. Sabrina said she remembers loud music always coming from her brother’s room. He loved to eat and had a sweet tooth. Jermaine’s favorite sweets were cakes and peanut butter cookies.

As Jermaine grew up, he became kind-hearted and loving. He was the type of person who wouldn’t rest until everyone around him was happy. Sabrina said Jermaine was always there for those he loved and would give anyone a helping hand.

He never married, but at age 22, he had a daughter named Tymara and raised her as a single father. Jermaine was also a grandfather and helped Tymara raise her son Makai who is now ten. Tymara is now 25 and was 23 when her father died.

Tymara said her father was funny. He would always joke around and could talk about anything.  Jermaine was a hardworking cook and would do anything for his family. He would spend all of his money supporting his family and never on himself.

“He was paying for my mom and me to take real estate classes,” said Sabrina. “We couldn’t continue going after he passed.”

On the morning of January 3, 2018, Sabrina said she remembers lying in bed when she received a phone call from her younger brother Damion.

“You need to go to your mother’s house,” said Damion.

As she was driving to her mom’s house, Damion called again and told her to go to St. Pete’s hospital instead.  When she arrived at the hospital, the detectives were in the room with Sabrina’s mom and two brothers.  It was at this moment Sabrina realized her best friend was dead.  She was lost for words and ran out of the room, crying.

“Why didn’t God take me instead?” Sabrina remembers asking her brother’s best friend in the hospital lobby. “He was just a baby.”

Sabrina recalls Jermaine’s best friend comforting her and saying everything happens for a reason.

Clearwater detectives said they believe Jermaine’s robbery-homicide was a case of mistaken identity. Sabrina said she thinks some people know who shot her brother but are afraid of coming forward with the information. To this day, there have been no new developments in Jermaine’s case, and it remains unsolved.

“Coming forward with new information would bring closure to me and my mom,” said Sabrina.

Everyone has different ways of mourning a loved one. Sabrina said the way she mourns Jermaine’s loss is by meditating and writing poetry.

“When I write poetry, it’s like I’m speaking to Jermaine,” said Sabrina. “The best advice I can give to anyone dealing with loss is never to let someone tell you how to cope with your grief and find your outlet.

Sabrina wants Jermaine to be remembered as a loving father and grandfather. She accomplished this by starting a shoe line seven months ago and naming it after her brother.

Ex-Felons in Florida Must Pay Court Fines Before Voting in Upcoming Election

Published: December, 6, 2020

Jacksonville resident TW was excited and hopeful about voting in the upcoming presidential election. However, the feeling of excitement and hope quickly turned to disappointment after TW discovered he owed $1,700 to Duval County.

The 11th U.S. The Circuit Court of Appeals in September ruled that ex-felons must pay all fines before they can register to vote in this year’s election.  The court ruling could disenfranchise 735,000 ex-felons from voting. In 2018, 60 percent of voters passed Florida’s Amendment 4, which restored the voting rights of 1.4 million ex-felons. 

“My right to vote is important to me,” said TW. “It’s a chance for me to be a normal member of society without being judged as a criminal.” 

TW, 35, had served a two-year sentence from 2010 to 2012 in Florida State Prison for drug possession. TW received a phone call from the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) last month, informing him that he owed $1700 in court fees to Duval County.  The FRRC not only informed TW of the court fees, but they also paid them off. TW is lucky because had the FRRC not called him, he would not have been eligible to vote in this election and possibly be charged with voter fraud. 

“I am so grateful for the generosity of the FRRC,” said TW. “If it wasn’t for them, I could have been locked up for fraudulent voting.” 

Desmond Meade is the founder and president of the voting rights group Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.  Meade, alongside FRRC volunteers, spearheaded the fight two years ago to help pass Amendment 4.  He called the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling an attempt to “hold our democracy hostage.”

Mead and the FRRC, quickly went into action and came up with a plan to help thousands of ex-felons like TW pay their court-related fees to vote in the upcoming election. Since September, the FRRC has raised more than $20 million in donations. 

“So far, we received over $190,621 in payments from the FRRC,” said Duval County Clerk Ronnie Fussell.

UNF political science professor Dr. Michael Binder said he believes the September court ruling was a political ploy by Republicans to suppress voter turnout. Binder says allowing ex-felons to vote could significantly impact elections with minuscule margins of less than one percentage point, as seen in the 2018 Florida governor’s race. According to an American Sociological Association, 2002 study by Christopher Uggen and Jeff Manza, 73 percent of felons and ex-felons tend to vote Democratic and register as no party affiliation.

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