Top 10 Most-Read Phoenix News Stories of the Year (So Far ...)

Senator Jeff Flake
Senator Jeff Flake

10. Jeff Flake's Son Calls Himself "N1ggerKiller"

In June, Republican Senator Jeff Flake's 15-year-old son Tanner was caught playing the iPhone game "Fun Run" using the name "N1ggerKiller."

The teenager's offensive gaming screen name was just one of the offensive slurs he used. His Twitter account also includes statements of someone being a "faggot," and calling a friend a "Jew" for taking credit for good jokes. Oh yeah, he also created a video in which he pretends to commit suicide.

Read the full story here.

9. Tucson Teacher's Aide Accused of Sexing Three Students at School, While Three Others Watched

The Tucson Police Department says a 22-year-old high school teacher's aide was involved in a sexual "incident" involving six male students.

Police reportedly discovered a video of the incident, which was filmed by one of the six students involved.

That teacher's aide was identified as 22-year-old Clarice Lee.

Read the full story here.

8. Brendan McDonough, Sole Survivor of Firefighting Crew, Was "Remorseful" After 2010 Conviction for Stolen Property

Brendan McDonough, the sole survivor of a fire disaster that killed 19 Arizona firefighters, had sincere remorse in a 2010 vehicle-burglary case, according to a probation officer's report.

The pre-sentence report depicts a motivated, young father-to-be who deserved a second chance after a crucial lapse in judgment and who fretted that his felony conviction might ruin his chance to become a full-time firefighter.

McDonough, who at 21 was an experienced team member and fire-science student, was acting as fire spotter with the Granite Mountain Hotshots just before the tragedy. It was his third season with the team.

Read the full story here.


7. Jennifer Barnes, Mom Who Shoved Feces in Son's Mouth and Stuck a Toothbrush in His Anus, Pleads Guilty

The Gilbert mother who shoved feces in her 10-year-old son's mouth and shoved his toothbrush in his anus, among other abuses, has pleaded guilty in the case as part of a plea deal.

​Jennifer Barnes pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse, but the other 11 charges were dismissed.

Read the full story here.

6. Nina Koistinen Says She Killed Her 6-Day-Old Baby Because She "Had Too Many Kids Already"

A Phoenix mother admitted to killing her 6-day-old baby girl because she "had too many kids already," police say.

According to court documents obtained by New Times, the woman, 36-year-old Nina Koistinen, had prior run-ins with Child Protective Services and previously had said she wanted her children "to go to heaven in a vehicle accident that appeared intentional."

According to police, Koistinen's husband found his 6-day-old daughter, Maya, unresponsive inside their home, near 56th Street and Thunderbird Road, on the morning of April 8.

Read the full story here.

5. Doug Stanhope Raises Thousands for Tornado Survior Who Told Wolf Blitzer She's an Atheist

Comedian Doug Stanhope, a Bisbee resident, helped raise more than $100,000 for a woman whose house was destroyed in the Oklahoma tornado this past May.

Stanhope tells New Times he started raising funds for Rebecca Vitsmun after her widely-seen interview on CNN, in which anchor Wolf Blitzer asked her if she "thank[ed] the Lord" for her family's decision to leave their house before it was destroyed by the tornado, and Vitsmun gave a response that became an instant classic -- she's actually an atheist.

Read the full story and see the video here.


4. Phoenix Man Dead After Sister's Gun Goes Off While Posing for Gangsta Photo

Phoenix police say a man was killed on New Year's Eve after being accidentally shot by his sister, who was playing with a gun while the two were posing for photos.

Judging by the previous photo to the right of now-deceased 22-year-old Manuel Ortiz, this situation is not incredibly hard to believe.

In fact, that's just one of several Facebook pictures involving Ortiz and guns willingly held to his own head.

Read the full story here.

3. Rickesha Burns Accused of Shoving Vibrator Into 2-Year-Old Son's Anus

In March, a Phoenix woman was accused of shoving a vibrator into her 2-year-old son's anus, and doctors told police that surgery would be required to remove it.

According to court documents obtained by New Times, 21-year-old Rickesha Burns called police reporting that her son was bleeding from his anus.

Burns said she didn't know what happened.

Read the full story here.

2. Reverend Al Sharpton Reveals on National Television that the Emperor of Pinal County, Paul Babeu, Has No Clothes (ICYMI)

We all know the Danish tale about the emperor whose men and subjects stroke him in admiration over his new clothes. Of course, as the story goes, the emperor is actually naked.

Instead of questioning the obvious, everyone basks in a collective ignorance. Until a little boy in the crowd shouts that the emperor has no clothes.

This past January, the Reverend Al Sharpton was that little boy -- exposing Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's vacant rhetoric about President Barack Obama acting like a "king" and "dictator." Sharpton also revealed the nonsense of Babeu's pledge to defy what the sheriff describes as Obama's unconstitutional executive orders regarding gun control.

Read the full story here.


Juan Mendez
Juan Mendez

1. Atheist State Lawmaker Quotes Carl Sagan Instead of Doing Prayer Before House Session

An atheist state lawmaker tasked with delivering the opening prayer for the current session of the House of Representatives asked that people not bow their heads.

Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, instead spoke about his "secular humanist tradition" and even quoted author Carl Sagan.

"Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads," Mendez said. "I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state."

Read the full story here.

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