Fake News: Murderer Did NOT Walk Free After Judge Doesn't Show Up For 15 Minutes

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Murderer Did NOT Walk Free After Judge Doesn't Show Up For 15 Minutes

Was 25-year old Efrem Berry accused of murder but allowed to leave court because no judge showed up for 15 minutes? That's a load of nonsense, it did not happen, there is no 15-minute rule in court that says you go free if the judge is late.

The story originated from satirical website 8shit.net which published an article on March 30, 2018 titled "Murderer Walks Free After Judge Doesn't Show Up For 15 Minutes" (archived here) which opened:

Efrem Berry, a 25-year old man who was accused of murder a month ago, has walked free from court after the judge didn't show up for 15 minutes and the man was legally allowed to leave.

Berry walked away from court yesterday after flipping off the entire jury present in the room. No one could do absolutely anything, because the judge Tyrone Allen broke the 15-minute rule, which states that if the judge is 15 minutes late, the accused is legally allowed to leave.

No such thing happened, the man in the picture illustrating the story is actually 22-year old Fouad Saleh who was convicted for several murders in Sweden earlier this year:

Trippelmördaren Fouad Saleh, 22, döms till livstids fängelse - hånlog i rätten

De fem vännerna mördade tillsammans. Ledande: Fouad Saleh, 22 - som dödade en man för att senare söka upp ett vittne och hugga ihjäl honom och hans fru. För det straffas han med livstid. Vännerna Mikael Chamoun, Munir Nooraldin och Amir Jabbari Taklar döms också till fängelse medan en 17-åring får sluten ungdomsvård.

We were able to determine there does happen to be a real "Efrem Berry" who was listed as being granted a commutated sentence by President Barack Obama:

Efrem Berry

Offense: Possession with intent to distribute a detectable amount of cocaine; possession with intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana; possession with intent to distribute a detectable amount of 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, aka MDMA

District/Date: Middle District of Georgia; November 9, 2006

Sentence: 235 months' imprisonment; six years' supervised release

Terms of grant: Prison sentence commuted to a term of 151 months' imprisonment.

But this clearly isn't the same guy as he wasn't accused of murdering anyone.

We wrote about 8shit.net and their brand of "faux satire" (aka "fauxtire") before, here are some more examples:

Because 8shit.net carries a disclaimer on its about page that reads:

8Shit is a satire and humor website.

It contains cutting edge satire on a diverse range of topics.

The website publishes fake news, shocking rumors and reports with incisive sarcasm, and humor.

We also post crazy real news which often sounds too good to be true.

And an additional disclaimer in the footer of every page:

8Shit is a satire news and humor website. All its content is fiction (except those posts under the "serious" category) and shouldn't be taken as real. All references, names and marks or institutions in this website are used as contextual elements, like in any novel or science-fiction story.

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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