The Lenient Judge

     On June 14, 2014, Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto was playing a video game in his parents’ garage in Santa Ana, California. A three-year-old girl, a relative visiting the home with her mother, wandered into the garage and encountered Rojan…

     On June 14, 2014, Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto was playing a video game in his parents' garage in Santa Ana, California. A three-year-old girl, a relative visiting the home with her mother, wandered into the garage and encountered Rojano-Nieto.

     Sexually aroused by the toddler, the 20-year-old Rojano-Nieto pulled down her pants and began sodomizing her. He stopped and put his hand over the victim's mouth when the girl's mother, calling for her, jiggled the handle to the locked garage door. When the concerned mother left the house to search for her daughter at a neighbor's place, Rojano-Nieto continued the sexual assault.

     When finished with the little girl, Rojano-Nieto unlocked the garage door and let her back into the house. After her daughter complained of pain shortly after the sexual attack, the mother figured out what happened and called the police.

     On December 3, 2014, a jury found the defendant guilty of one count of sodomy of a child under ten and one count of lewd acts upon a child under fourteen. (Rojano-Nieto had forced the little girl to touch his penis.) The conviction meant that the guilty man would receive the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life.

     On April 3, 2015, Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly shocked everyone familiar with this case by ignoring California's statutory minimum punishment for this man's sex offenses by sentencing Rojano-Nieto to just ten years in prison.

     The judge, perhaps aware that his ruling would create an angry backlash, carefully laid out his sentencing rationale in writing. According to this southern California judge, "The facts [of this case] don't support there was any violence or callous disregard for the victim's well-being."

     Huh? No violence? Did this girl consent to being sodomized? Did she participate in her own victimization by flaunting herself in the garage? Good heavens.

     Judge Kelly noted that the defendant had not sought out or stalked his victim. Moreover, he now felt  really bad about what he had done to her. Sure he did, but so what?

     The judge, in defending his sentence, wrote: "He [Rojano-Nieto] reacted to a sexual urge and stopped almost immediately." According to Judge Kelly, while the little girl was sodomized by a 20-year-old man, she had not been seriously injured and was therefore "headed for a normal life."

     Judge Kelly had been on the bench in Orange County for fifteen years. How could that be?

     Not content to blame the toddler for her victimization, the judge tried to illicit sympathy for this sex offender by revealing that he had grown up in a "dysfunctional" family with "disruptional abuse." What the hell does that mean? "Disruptional" isn't even a word. This upbringing, according to the judge, had made Rojano-Nieto "insecure, socially withdrawn, and extremely immature." This background had also turned him into a dangerous sexual pervert who should, for the rest of his life, never be around children.

     Orange County Deputy District Attorney Tony Rackauckas responded to Judge Kelly's disturbing decision by announcing his office will appeal Rojano-Nieto's sentence. Referring to the defendant, the prosecutor said, "He's a grown man. He knowingly [actually intentionally] committed this terrible crime and should pay the price."

     Public outrage over the pedophile's light sentence led to a grass roots effort to recall the judge. On December 31, 2015, the bid to have Judge Kelly removed from the bench failed when the recall supporters were unable to collect the minimum 90,829 signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

    Judges with the 4th District Court of Appeals, in the spring of 2017, reversed Judge Kelly's sentence and ordered that Rojano-Neito be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

     The post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a fairly recent entry in psychiatric terminology; in fact, it was only officially recognized with the publication of the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorder…

     The post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a fairly recent entry in psychiatric terminology; in fact, it was only officially recognized with the publication of the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders in 1980, known as DSM-III. In World Wars I and II, there had been what was known to laymen as "shell shock" and to mental health professions as "combat neurosis," a battlefield condition in which men become too traumatized to function properly. A fairly large proportion of discharges from the army were due to this condition, and the problem remains a serious one for all those who participate in combat, with its attendant horrors and stresses.

     During the 1950s when DSM-I was published, there was a condition referred to as "transient situational disorder," which was sometimes used to encompass battlefield stress. It was the initials TSD that were lifted from this previous neurosis and made to fit a condition that seemed to have sprung up in American survivors of the war in Vietnam, and which became known as PTSD--or, in layman's terms, "the Vietnam syndrome."

     I had discovered, over the years, that while there were people who really did suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder--had difficulty in living normal lives after returning from the brink of death experienced either in war or as a result of some other traumatic event--many other claims of PTSD were just a lot of poppycock, a form of malingering. The diagnosis of PTSD had become fashionable in certain psychiatric circles, mainly those that dealt with people in and out of veterans' hospitals. Other psychiatrists, just as well qualified, who also dealt with veterans had not seen many genuine cases. Also, the United States had been involved in several traumatic wars earlier in this century, and while there had been a few diagnosed cases of what was then called battlefield shock, most of the people who did experience these sort of shocks recovered and went on to lead normal lives. Could the experience of fighting in Vietnam have been worse than the experience of fighting in Korea? Or in Europe or the Pacific Islands during World War II? Were American servicemen of the 1960s and 1970s so much more emotionally fragile that those who served in earlier conflicts?

Robert K. Ressler and Tom Schachtman, I Have Lived in the Monster, 1997    

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Chad Wolfe’s Mysterious Death

     On Thursday night, March 14, 2013, Chad Wolfe and Jessica Price, his girlfriend of ten years, boarded Delta Flight 2233 out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania en route to Atlanta and their final destination, Tampa, Florida. Wolfe resided i…

     On Thursday night, March 14, 2013, Chad Wolfe and Jessica Price, his girlfriend of ten years, boarded Delta Flight 2233 out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania en route to Atlanta and their final destination, Tampa, Florida. Wolfe resided in West Newton, a Westmoreland County town of 3,000 twenty-five miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The 31-year-old worked in a Sewickley Township body shop with his father. Chad and Jessica planned to meet up with friends in Tampa, rent a car, then drive to Daytona Beach to participate in Bike Week festivities. They also planned to visit a few automobile auctions.

     The couple flew into the Tampa International Airport from their layover in Atlanta just before midnight. The couple had been arguing. Chad took an elevator from the third floor of the main terminal to the 7th floor parking garage while she picked up their luggage from baggage claim. When Jessica returned to the main concourse with the luggage, Chad wasn't there. When she couldn't find Chad, she alerted an airport security officer who organized a search party.

     At ten o'clock the next morning, airport maintenance workers found Chad Wolfe's body lying on top of an elevator car stopped at the third floor of the main terminal. In his pocket, investigators found an empty Xanax bottle. (He had a prescription for Xanax and Paxil.)

     Investigators found, on the seventh floor not far from the bank of elevators, Chad's cellphone and carry-on case. This discovery raised questions of what Chad was doing in the parking garage, and how did his body end up on top of the third floor elevator car.

     The authorities who looked into this mysterious death, certainly a suspicious one, came to the conclusion that Chad Wolfe had somehow accidentally fallen down the elevator shaft. But the young man's father, Garland Wolfe, didn't believe his 150 pound son had the strength to pry open the elevator doors. Don Cassell, an elevator expert, agreed. According to Mr. Cassell, opening the doors of a working elevator with one's bare hands is next to impossible.

     Jessica Price revealed that Chad had taken a Xanax pill to ease his anxiety about flying, He had also consumed a drink on the plane. Did her confused boyfriend go to the parking garage to smoke a cigarette? Still, how did he get into the elevator shaft?

     In May 2013, the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner issued the report on Chad Wolfe's death. The cause of this young man's demise went into the books as "blunt force impact to the head and neck." The manner of death: an accident.

     According to the medical examiner's report, the deceased had Alprozolam and Paxil in his system. In the report, a forensic investigator wrote: "It appears the deceased forced open an elevator door to gain entry into the elevator shaft."

     According to a report submitted months later by the airport, witnesses on Wolfe's flight from Atlanta to Tampa said that Wolfe had been drinking alcohol, popping pills, and acting rudely on the plane. At the airport, a witness saw a belligerent man banging on the seventh floor elevator door. Tampa airport detective Kevin Durkin, the lead investigator in the case, concluded that Wolfe forced open the landing doors on the elevator. He then wrapped his arms and legs aground "the elevator cable inside the shaft with the intention to slide down the cable to the elevator car roof. As he descended down the elevator cable, friction wounds caused him to let go."

     Detective Durkin concluded that Wolfe fell to his death by hitting the top of the elevator car.

     In October 2014, Chad Wolfe's parents filed a lawsuit against Tampa International Airport claiming that a malfunctioning elevator had caused their son's death. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Presumption of Guilt

     Anastasio Prieto was driving his truck toward home along US Route 54, just north of El Paso, Texas on a late night in August 2007. While enjoying the beautiful countryside passing him by, he noticed a weigh station and pulled over t…

     Anastasio Prieto was driving his truck toward home along US Route 54, just north of El Paso, Texas on a late night in August 2007. While enjoying the beautiful countryside passing him by, he noticed a weigh station and pulled over to have his truck inspected. A state trooper approached him and asked whether he could search Anastasio's truck for contraband. Not protective of his own privacy, Anastasio said, "Of course," knowing  that no contraband would be found. During his conversation, Anastasio did mention that he happened to be carrying $23,700, his life savings, used to pay bills and maintain the truck, which he carried with him because he did not trust banks. What he did not realize was that his opinion of banks would be his undoing.

     The money was confiscated, and Anastasio was detained, photographed, and fingerprinted while canine dogs sniffed his truck. The state police, who believed that Anastasio must be guilty of something, turned the cash they seized from him over to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Though no evidence of illegal substances was found, the DEA explained to Anastasio that they would be keeping the money, and that in thirty days he would receive notice of federal proceedings to forfeit the money permanently to the government. Anastasio was told that if he wanted to get the money back, he would have to petition a court and prove that the money was legally obtained by him and not the product of criminal conduct.

     That's right; even though not a single shred of evidence of any illegal activity was found in his truck, Anastasio was considered guilty and would have to prove his innocence. Thankfully, the ACLU stepped in and sued the DEA on behalf of Anastasio. With the lawsuit looming, and fearing a more public revelation of its Gestapo tactics at a trial, the DEA returned the money months later.

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Lies the Government Tells You, 2010

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The O.J. Simpson Jury

The makeup of the Simpson jury kept changing. Three jurors were gone, replaced by alternates. A sixty-three-year old white woman was replaced by a fifty-four-year-old black man after she allegedly became involved in a shoving match with another juror, …

The makeup of the Simpson jury kept changing. Three jurors were gone, replaced by alternates. A sixty-three-year old white woman was replaced by a fifty-four-year-old black man after she allegedly became involved in a shoving match with another juror, and accused several black jurors of being pro-O.J. Despite subsequent denials by the court and the white juror concerning the event, the daily admonishment of Judge Ito to the jury not to discuss the case among themselves seemed not to be very effective. The resulting jury consisted of nine blacks, one white, one Hispanic, and one person of mixed race. [As they say, the rest is history.]

Dominick Dunne, Justice, 2001

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Eyewitness Unreliability

     Pennsylvania criminal defendants are now able to offer expert testimony about the unreliability of eyewitness identification following a decision by a divided state Supreme Court that overturned a 20-year prohibition against such evidence. [In the past, the judge could inform jurors of the dangers of eyewitness testimony in the jury instruction phase of the trial.]

     ….Pennsylvania will join the great majority of states and federal courts when it comes to letting an expert tell jurors about research into eyewitness testimony….[Since more that thirty years ago, hundreds of studies have shown just how unreliable this kind of evidence can be. A countless number of rape and robbery defendants have been sent to prison on the strength of false line-up identifications. Today, in almost all jurisdictions, eyewitness testimony alone will not, by law, sustain a conviction.]

“Court  Decision Allows Expert Testimony on Eyewitness ID,” Associated Press, May 29, 2014 

     Pennsylvania criminal defendants are now able to offer expert testimony about the unreliability of eyewitness identification following a decision by a divided state Supreme Court that overturned a 20-year prohibition against such evidence. [In the past, the judge could inform jurors of the dangers of eyewitness testimony in the jury instruction phase of the trial.]

     ….Pennsylvania will join the great majority of states and federal courts when it comes to letting an expert tell jurors about research into eyewitness testimony….[Since more that thirty years ago, hundreds of studies have shown just how unreliable this kind of evidence can be. A countless number of rape and robbery defendants have been sent to prison on the strength of false line-up identifications. Today, in almost all jurisdictions, eyewitness testimony alone will not, by law, sustain a conviction.]

"Court  Decision Allows Expert Testimony on Eyewitness ID," Associated Press, May 29, 2014 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Law

The Cannibalism At Sea Dilemma

     In the summer of 1884, four English sailors were stranded at sea in a small lifeboat in the South Atlantic, over a thousand miles from land. Their ship, the Migonette, had gone down in a storm, and they had escaped to the lifeboat, …

     In the summer of 1884, four English sailors were stranded at sea in a small lifeboat in the South Atlantic, over a thousand miles from land. Their ship, the Migonette, had gone down in a storm, and they had escaped to the lifeboat, with only two cans of preserved turnips and no fresh water. Thomas Dudley was the captain, Edwin Stephens was the first mate, and Edmund Brooks was a sailor--"all men of excellent character," according to newspaper accounts.

     The fourth member of the crew was the cabin boy, Richard Parker, age seventeen. He was an orphan, on his first voyage at sea. He had signed up against the advice of his friends, "in the hopefulness of youthful ambition," thinking the journey would make a man of him. Sadly, it was not to be.

     From the lifeboat, the four stranded sailors watched the horizon, hoping a ship might pass and rescue them. For the first three days, they ate small rations of turnips. On the fourth day, they caught a turtle. They subsisted on the turtle and the remaining turnips for the next few days. And then for eight days they ate nothing.

     By now Parker, the cabin boy, was lying in the corner of the lifeboat. He had drunk seawater, against the advice of the others, and became ill. He appeared to be dying. On the nineteenth day of their ordeal, Dudley, the captain, suggested drawing lots to determine who would die so that the others might live. But Brooks refused, and no lots were drawn.

     The next day came, and still no ship was in sight. Dudley told Brooks to avert his gaze and motioned to Stephens that Parker had to be killed. Dudley offered a prayer, told the boy his time had come, then killed him with a penknife, stabbing him in the jugular vein. Brooks emerged from his conscientious objection to share in the gruesome bounty. For four days, the three men fed on the body and blood of the cabin boy.

     And then  help came. Dudley describes their rescue in his diary, with staggering euphemism: On the 24th day, as we were having our breakfast," a ship appeared at last. The three survivors were picked up. Upon their return to England, they were arrested and tried. Brooks turned state's witness. Dudley and Stephens went to trial. They freely confessed that they had killed and eaten Parker. They claimed they had done so out of necessity.

     Suppose you were the judge. How would you rule?

Michael J. Sandel, Justice, 2009 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Law

Traffic Laws Don’t Apply to Politicians

     After unveiling a plan to curtail the number of traffic deaths in New York City, an SUV hauling Mayor Bill de Blasio was videotaped speeding through the streets of the city and running stop signs….Mayor de Blasio was riding in the front seat of the vehicle which was traveling at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone, and up to 60 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone….The SUV also cut through a stop sign at a Queens intersection….

     Those infractions would seem minor if they hadn’t come just two days after a big traffic safety initiative announced by de Blasio. “We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard,” he said on February 18, 2014 while announcing “Vision Zero,” which is based on a plan first developed in Sweden in the 1990s.

     The plan would implement a number of changes with the goal of eliminating all traffic-related deaths. Those changes would include lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 25, widening traffic lanes and installing cameras that track speeding and issue tickets. The size of the Highway Patrol department will also be increased. [These people are taking the fun out of driving.]

     One controversial part of the “Vision Zero” plan would target speeding cab drivers by pausing their meters if they were driving too fast….

     [One of the hallmarks of American jurisprudence involves the fact that the law is applied unevenly to the disadvantage of citizens who are not members of the ruling elite.]

Chuck Ross, “Anti-Speeding New York Mayor Caught Speeding After Announcing Big Traffic Initiative,” The Daily Caller, February 20, 2014 

     After unveiling a plan to curtail the number of traffic deaths in New York City, an SUV hauling Mayor Bill de Blasio was videotaped speeding through the streets of the city and running stop signs….Mayor de Blasio was riding in the front seat of the vehicle which was traveling at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone, and up to 60 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone….The SUV also cut through a stop sign at a Queens intersection….

     Those infractions would seem minor if they hadn't come just two days after a big traffic safety initiative announced by de Blasio. "We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard," he said on February 18, 2014 while announcing "Vision Zero," which is based on a plan first developed in Sweden in the 1990s.

     The plan would implement a number of changes with the goal of eliminating all traffic-related deaths. Those changes would include lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 25, widening traffic lanes and installing cameras that track speeding and issue tickets. The size of the Highway Patrol department will also be increased. [These people are taking the fun out of driving.]

     One controversial part of the "Vision Zero" plan would target speeding cab drivers by pausing their meters if they were driving too fast….

     [One of the hallmarks of American jurisprudence involves the fact that the law is applied unevenly to the disadvantage of citizens who are not members of the ruling elite.]

Chuck Ross, "Anti-Speeding New York Mayor Caught Speeding After Announcing Big Traffic Initiative," The Daily Caller, February 20, 2014 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Law

The Cannibal Cop Fee Speech Case

     Gilberto Valle, a 6-year New York City police officer assigned to the 26th Precinct in Harlem, lived with his wife and child in the Forest Hills section of Queens. On an online dating site called OKCupid, the 28-year-old police offi…

     Gilberto Valle, a 6-year New York City police officer assigned to the 26th Precinct in Harlem, lived with his wife and child in the Forest Hills section of Queens. On an online dating site called OKCupid, the 28-year-old police officer described himself as a "very calm individual" with "an endless supply of hilarious short stories from work that can't be made up. I'll try anything," he wrote, "and I'm not picky at all." According to his online profile, Valle had attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens and the University of Maryland, College Park.

     Based upon an investigation conducted by the FBI over several months, officer Valle was not calm, or funny. And what he was willing to try was more than a little disturbing. 
     According to court documents related to the federal investigation, Gilberto Valle, and several unnamed co-conspirators, had used the Internet to acquire potential female victims to kidnap, rape, torture, murder, cook, and eat. In his search for targets, Valle had used federal and state law enforcement crime-victim databases. The suspect corresponded with his like-minded co-conspirators through online dating forums.

     In addition to his use of the Internet to identify and lure women, Valle conducted physical surveillances of their homes and workplaces. He used this data to draw up and revise detailed kidnap/murder "operation plans." 
     In February 2012, Valle, in an online communication with a co-conspirator who had expressed a desire to rape a woman, offered to kidnap a victim for this man for a fee of $5,000. Pursuant to his offer, Valle wrote: "It is going to be hard to contain myself when I knock her out, but I am aspiring to be a professional kidnapper, and that's business." Later in the conversation, Valle wrote: "She will be alive. I think I would rather not get involve in the rape. You paid for her. She is all yours, and I don't want to be tempted the next time I abduct a girl." 
     On July 2, 2012, Valle and a co-conspirator conducted a disturbing online conversation in which Valle wrote: "I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus. Cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible."
     "How big is your oven," asked the co-conspirator. 
     "Big enough to fit one of these girls if I folded their legs...the abduction will have to be flawless...I know all of them."
     In another Internet exchange regarding a specific woman, Valle wrote: "I can just show up at her home unannounced, it will not alert her, and I can knock her out, wait until dark and kidnap her right out of her home."
     Valle's co-conspirator offered Valle some kidnap advice: "You really would be better to grab a stranger. The first thing the police force will do is check out [the victim's] friends [as suspects]."
     "Her family is out of state."    
     "I have anesthetic gasses," replied the helpful co-conspirator.
     "I can make chloroform here," Valle replied. 
     In another July 2012 conversation, one of Gilberto Valle's co-sickies asked, "How was your meal?"
     "I am meeting her on Sunday," came the reply. 
     FBI agents, on Wednesday, October 24, 2012, arrested Gilberto Valle at his home on charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and intentionally and knowingly accessing a computer without authorization. (The bureau moved in because Valle had recently had lunch with a woman the FBI feared he would abduct.) From Valle's home in Queens, agents seized a computer that contained personal data--names, addresses, physical descriptions, and photographs--of 100 women. Valle's computer also held hundreds of incriminating emails and instant message chats between the suspect and his co-conspirators. 
          In March 2013, a jury in Manhattan found the defendant guilty as charged. In July 2014, however, a federal judge, except for the count of illegally using the federal databank to target victims, overturned Valle's conviction. Instead of facing up to life in prison Valle walked out of the jail having already served enough time to satisfy the punishment for the lesser offense.

     This judge did not believe Valle's writings and behavior rose above the expression of his bizarre fantasies. In America people are punished for criminal actions, not thoughts. This was a close and controversial decision.

     Gilberto Valle, in January 2018, published A Gathering of Evil, a horror novel that features his obsession with killing and eating women. The work of fiction is narrated through the eyes of a sadist who kidnaps two young women. The author said he hoped to make a living as a novelist.

     In May 2018, Gilberto lost custody of his daughter after his ex-wife claimed she had fears he would murder the girl.
     
     

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Law

Snitching On Speed Cops

A federal judge in Missouri ruled on February 3, 2014 that drivers have a First Amendment right to flash their headlights to warn other motorists of nearby police and speed traps. The order by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey in St. Louis stems from a lawsuit filed by Ellisville resident Michael Elli. In 2012, Elli flashed his headlights to warn oncoming vehicles of a radar set up by police in the town of Ellisville….An officer saw the flash and pulled over Elli, who could have faced a fine up to $1,000 if convicted….
“Federal Judge Rules Drivers Allowed to Flash Headlights to Warn of Speed Traps,” Fox News, February 6, 2014
A federal judge in Missouri ruled on February 3, 2014 that drivers have a First Amendment right to flash their headlights to warn other motorists of nearby police and speed traps. The order by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey in St. Louis stems from a lawsuit filed by Ellisville resident Michael Elli. In 2012, Elli flashed his headlights to warn oncoming vehicles of a radar set up by police in the town of Ellisville….An officer saw the flash and pulled over Elli, who could have faced a fine up to $1,000 if convicted….

"Federal Judge Rules Drivers Allowed to Flash Headlights to Warn of Speed Traps," Fox News, February 6, 2014

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: Law