I'm screening cases today, and the thought occurred to me that we should share some of our true life criminal history horror stories. Here's the one that got me going. It's not the worst I've seen, to be sure. Just the latest.
In 1991 my defendant received a 10 year probation for U.U.M.V. In 1993 he received 2 40-year sentences for burglary of a habitation, 2 20-year sentences for burglary of a habitation, 1 15-year sentence for burglary of a habitation, 1 10-year sentence for burglary of a habitation and 1 10-year sentence for burglary of a buidling. Then, in 2005 he received a 2-year sentence for accident involving injury or death. All those priors are from 5 different counties.
Now I've got him in his 6th county, for evading with a vehicle. Routine traffic stop that he turned into Death Race 2000, running stop signs and cutting across highway medians. Why? Because he had a parole violation warrant, of course.
But he's not a threat to the community, right?
6 strikes and your out?
I'm sure it was just technical violations. No harm.
Just ask Eve Carson and Abhijit Mahato. Oh wait, you can't. They've been murdered.
MSNBC Article on UNC and Duke Murders
You can't ask Gil Epstein either, a former Fort Bend County Assistant District Attorney, who was murdered by a parolee in 1996 when the parolee was robbing Gil at gunpoint and saw Gil's badge in his wallet and assumed Gil was a police officer.
Thankfully, Gil's killer was executed after murdering Gil, so that killer won't be given trust again by a parole board.
What was Gil's killer on parole for? Attempted murder.
Ol' Grits for Breakfast is checking up on us again. Here's how he describes PW's facts: "A guy who stole a car in 1991 and was a professional burglar by 1993 spent time in prison, got paroled, then committed a new offense in 2005 - an "accident causing injury or death" (I'm guessing it was "injury" since he was paroled so soon)." Huh. When you leave off the fact that the sentences he received obviously indicate some serious facts were involved in each of these cases, he really sounds like a nice guy, huh?
I wonder if Grits has ever had to respond to a group of voters about why he thinks guys like that should be let out on parole. The fact that a guy that got 155 years in prison in 1993 was paroled before 2005 doesn't seem to have registered.
Senor Grits was good enough to offer another example of Texas parolees gone bad (again):
Texas parolee charged with robbing 2 elderly men
Today, we concluded a drug prosecution. Female defendant was sentenced to 35 years in prison for two undercover deliveries of methamphetamines. She had made THREE prior trips to prison for drug and burglary cases. The Parole Board had granted early release at least twice, and she was on parole when she committed the most recent drug deliveries.
I hope we will remember these property and drug offenders when we are listing horror stories. These are crimes that are absolutely repeated because politicians have bullied the Parole Board into voting leniently on early release. Yet, those same politicians will not make sure they count the costs of the new crimes and investigations in their early release "smart-on-crime" conclusions.
For those who have been involved in criminal justice for two decades or more, you can see the signs. The price will be paid.
How about this guy, with priors from three different counties:
In 1989 he received 2 5-year sentences for burglary of a habitation. Two years later, in 1991, he receieved 2 15-year sentences for burglary of a habitation and 2 20-year sentences for burglary of a habitation. Then, five years later, in 1996, he received 2 25-year sentences for burglary of a habitation.
Can you guess what he's charged with now? Two burglaries of a habitation and one burglary of a building (which was actually a home office). And he's 41 years old. So is he "nearing the age when statistically antisocial behavior declines?" I'm curious to know.
Concerns spur audit over rise in inmates' early releases
By Jessica Fender
The Denver Post
State auditors got the green light Tuesday to start probing the practices of the state parole board, following the revelation this year that the number of early releases has recently jumped by about 40 percent.
Prompted by a seven-question inquiry penned by statehouse Republicans, the Legislative Audit Committee voted to allow the preliminary fact-finding. Staff could report its initial findings as early as June, when panel members will decide whether to launch a full investigation.
About 115 more inmates a month walked out of prison on early release in 2007 compared with the previous year.
For the rest of the story, click here.
Then there's the one where the defendant received two 99 year sentences in 1983 for attempted capital murder of two undercover narcotics officers, after ambushing them; was paroled; while on parole, was convicted of PCS and given 3 years probation in 1995 (probably mandatory at the time), then committed a violent assault on his girlfriend, was tried and convicted by a jury in June, 2002, and sentenced to four months in jail. Parole officer saw no need to revoke his parole or file blue warrant to hold him. With credit, he was released in plenty of time to commit murder in August, 2002. Oh, he started his career in 1978 with a conviction for Air Piracy.
Yeah, that'll steal your breath away.
Parolee charged in Fort Worth birthday party slayings
09:56 PM CDT on Tuesday, April 8, 2008
By DEBRA DENNIS / The Dallas Morning News
FFORT WORTH � Police arrested a 21-year-old parolee Tuesday in connection with the Sunday night slayings of a 5-year-old girl and her 48-year-old grandmother.
A former colleague in my office now works in Louisville. Apparently the State of Kentucky is dealing with some of the same early release issues. Here's a well written letter to the editor on the subject from a KY prosecutor.
"The Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader have written favorable editorials on the state's new parole policy. They fail to see its immense negative impact on our justice system.
Once again, a not-so-dangerous parolee kills an innocent victim.
Drunk driver on parole kills crossing guard
After beating his mother's roommate with a garden tool at their South Austin home Wednesday, Seth Tatum walked about three miles to the home of an Austin actor whom he had never met and killed him, according to an arrest affidavit.
Tatum, who has been out of prison for about three months, beat Carl Drake and killed 67-year-old Louis Byron Perryman, police said Friday.
The story mentions that Tatum stopped taking his medication. Without commenting on his case specifically, because there may be other relevant facts that are not yet known, there is a problem in our system with maintaining a continuity of care for a person with a mental disease that requires consistent medication.
It is quite difficult to get court authority for forced medication. And there are good reasons to be skeptical of any system that permits it. But, for some cases, that is the only way to keep the public safe and provide the patient with some measure of independence from the criminal justice system.
At some point, we are going to have to identify the circumstances under which our civil laws and mental health providers should be able to adopt forced medication as a way to prevent violence and harm to the public.
Update. Tatum, it seems, discharged his criminal sentence. That means there was no basis for the State to provide ongoing supervision or impose conditions of treatment or medication.
Two men from Tarrant County who were suspects in an Oklahoma bank robbery were killed Thursday in a shootout at a roadblock on a southeast Oklahoma highway, authorities reported Friday.
A woman from Euless was with the men as they tried to run through the roadblock about five miles west of Antlers, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
[What are the odds that all of these people would have criminal histories or be on parole? And, gee, for "nonviolent" crimes. You don't see a lot of shootouts following a bank robbery anymore.]
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