Sunday, September 29, 2013

Aquelin Talamantes To Be Arraigned Monday In Yolo County

Aquelin Tamalantes - Photo: Sacramento/CBS Local


29 year old Aquelin Talamantes of Davis, CA is expected to be arraigned Monday in Yolo County.  Talamantes was arrested after Sacramento police officers performing a "welfare check" searched the mother's Honda Accord and discovered 5 year old Tatianna Garcia unresponsive in the trunk.  Officers and bystanders on the scene desperately tried to render medical aid to the girl, who was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

It is still unclear exactly what happened to Tatianna Garcia and how she ended up in trunk of her mother's car.  The child had been seen earlier with her mother and 5 year old brother at their Glide Drive home in Davis. Davis police actually had contact with Talamantes earlier in the day, when responding to an unrelated traffic incident in front of Talamantes home at 9:30AM. Something about Talamantes behavior concerned the officer enough to make him call for backup. When backup arrived, the two officers went to Talamantes home and spoke to her and another unknown adult for 30-40 minutes. According to the responding officers, the home was clean and 5 year old Tatianna and her 4 year old brother did not appear to be abused or neglected. The officers provided Talamantes with information on family resources and left without incident.

Exactly what happened between 9:30AM and 2:30PM that Thursday is a mystery. Neighbors in Davis reportedly overheard an argument between Aquelin Talamantes and an unknown male.  Later that afternoon, Aquelin drove to a relatives apartment near Pocket Road in Sacramento.  When she arrived without her daughter, family members became concerned enough to contact police and ask them to conduct a welfare check on the child.  This in itself raises questions.  Why would it concern them that Talamantes arrived alone? By all reports it sounds like she has 2 children - 5 year old Tatianna and a 4 year old son.  I would imagine she may have had access to babysitters, or daycare - and depending on who the unknown male police encountered earlier that day was, perhaps she had left the children in his care?

Something about her behavior must have caused her relatives in Sacramento to become so concerned and suspicious that they contacted law enforcement. Those are the questions that have not yet been publicly answered.  Tatianna's father's name has not been disclosed, and I have no idea if he was a part of her life. Her family in Sacramento have posted a sign on the front door of their apartment telling the media that they are not ready to talk about this incident. I'd imagine they are in shock and are grieving. They need time to process what has happened and how this could have happened in their family. I hope the media allows them the time to privately grieve their loss. I'm sure in time the pieces of this puzzle will fall into place. 

Aquelin Talamantes is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday. At that time, we should learn more about what charges she is facing. The coroner has not disclosed a cause of death, and toxicology reports could take 4-6 weeks to come back.  Until then, how the little girl's life ended in the trunk of her mother's Honda Accord remains a complete mystery. Talamantes doesn't have a police record, with the exception of a 2007 conviction for disorderly conduct while under the influence of a controlled substance. Drugs, as well all know, can lead people to do the unthinkable.  Did the officers who encountered Talamantes that Thursday morning suspect her of being under the influence of something that caused them to be concerned? Obviously, the initial officer involved with the unrelated traffic stop/accident observed behavior that concerned him enough to call for backup and spent 30 minutes in her house.

Could this tragedy have been prevented? We may never know. All we do know is that a 5 year old girl is dead. Her mother is under arrest, and being held for suspicion of murder. Police believe Talamantes Glide Drive home is the primary crime scene, but haven't said why they believe that. We don't know if little Tatianna's body showed any signs of trauma at this point.  My prayers go out to this little girls family. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

5 Year Old Girl Dies After Being Found in Trunk of Mother's Car - Update

More details have been released around the 29 year old woman arrested in connection with the suspected murder of her 5 year old daughter, who was discovered unresponsive in the trunk of her mother's car Thursday afternoon.  Aquelin Talamantes is being held at the Yolo County jail. Thursday afternoon, Aquelin Talamantes drove from her Glide Drive home in Davis to a relative's apartment in Sacramento. When she arrived without her 5 year old daughter, identified as Tatianna Garcia - family members became concerned and contacted Sacramento police to conduct a welfare check.

When officers arrived at the Sacramento apartment complex, they spoke to Talamantes and then searched her Honda Accord which was parked nearby. In the trunk, they discovered the child unresponsive and in need of "immediate medical care". She was transported to an area hospital where she was pronounced dead.  It is not known how Tatianna ended up in the trunk of her mother's car or how long she had been there, but neighbors in Davis reported seeing the two together earlier in the afternoon.  There had been reports of an argument between Talamantes and an unnamed man in the hours before the crime is believed to have occurred. 


New details are emerging about another encounter police had with Talamantes on Thursday. Davis Assistant Police Chief Darren Pyten said that his officers initially came into contact with Aquelin Talamantes Thursday morning at 9:30AM, when an officer who was conducting an unrelated traffic stop in front of her home encountered Talamantes acting strangely. She came out to ask what was happening, and her behavior reportedly concerned the officer enough that he called for backup. When backup arrived, the two officers entered Talamantes home and spent 30-40 minutes speaking with her and another unknown adult in the home. The officers reported that the home was clean, and the 5 year old girl and her 4 year old brother showed no sign of abuse or neglect.

Police didn't elaborate on what about Talamantes behavior caused them to be concerned. When no signs of neglect or abuse was detected, the officers gave her information on "family resources" and left the home.  By 2:30PM Thursday afternoon, officers in Sacramento had arrived to conduct a welfare check and found 5 year old Tatianna in the trunk. What happened between 9:30AM and the time she arrived in Sacramento remains a mystery.  It is also unclear why her relatives were so concerned that she arrived without her daughter.  Theoretically, she could have left the child at home in Davis with the other adult who was reportedly at the home or with a babysitter. I'm also wondering where Tatianna's 4 year old brother was during this time - his name has not been disclosed, nor do we know where relatives believed he was at the time of Talamante's arrival in Sacramento on Thursday afternoon.

There has to be more details on this case that are not being released to the public. They haven't released the name of the other person who was at the Glide Drive home in Davis when the police first encountered Talamantes, nor have they confirmed the argument neighbors reportedly heard earlier in the day.  The information is sketchy at best. All we know for sure is that 5 year old Tatianna Garcia is dead, and how she ended up in the trunk of the car is unclear. The police must have some theory that would lead them to arrest her in connection with her daughter's death. Most reports I've read seem to indicate that Tatianna was alive when they discovered her in the trunk, but just barely alive. No details have been released about potential signs of trauma on Tatianna's body and the coroner has not released the cause of death, pending results of the autopsy.

The Sacramento and Davis police departments were both involved in this case. Since the "crime scene" is believed to be the family's home on Glide Drive in Davis,the Davis police department is spearheading the case. Talamantes will be arraigned on Monday at 1:30PM, according to Yolo's chief district attorney Jonathan Raven.  His office has not yet determined what charges will be filed against Talamantes because police reports have not yet been finalized. This appears to be Aquelin Talamantes first major brush with the law, but records indicate that in 2007 she was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor disorderly conduct while under the influence of a drug in Solano County. Court records indicate she appeared in court in July on a traffic violation.

Meanwhile, relatives at the apartment complex on Pocket Drive in Sacramento posted a note on their front door indicating they were not ready to speak to the media, and attempts to reach Tatianna's father were unsuccessful, according to the Sacramento Bee

I can't help but think of the similarities of this little girl's fate and the fate of 2 year old Caylee Anthony - who law enforcement officials believed was in the trunk of mother Casey's car for some period of time before her body was discarded.  At the same time, there are some major differences in these cases.  Tatianna is believed to have been clinging to life when she was found by police in the trunk Thursday afternoon.  Casey Anthony has always denied that Caylee was ever in her trunk, for any reason. However, evidence presented at her murder trial indicate a hair linked to Caylee was found in Casey's trunk - characteristics on that hair indicated that it came from someone who was deceased.  The disappearance of Caylee Anthony changed course after several people reported a strong odor coming from her mother Casey's car. It was reportedly the smell of decomposition, and the missing person case gave way to a potential homicide case.

Perhaps the only thing these two cases have in common is the notion that both involve children ending up in the trunk of their mothers cars. In the end, Florida prosecutors were unable to convince a jury that Caylee Anthony was murdered by her mother and placed in the trunk of her car, where she remained for a period of time before being discarded in several trash bags in a swampy wooded area just blocks from the Anthony family home. Although it seemed to be a very strong circumstantial case, the jury wasn't satisfied that the coroner could not definitively say how Caylee died - therefore, they had a difficult time convicting Casey of her homicide. The real shocker there was that the jury didn't find Casey's failure to report her daughter missing until she could no longer hide that fact from her concerned parents - and her parents, not Casey, contacted police to report the child was missing. In this case, it was again concerned relatives who contacted police.

In this case, the child was discovered by police in the trunk.  Will the mother claim that she didn't know Tatianna was in the trunk? Will she say the child got into the trunk without her knowledge?  The autopsy report will be key in this case.  In keeping an open mind, accidents happen - it's not a stretch of the imagination to think a child may want to go with her mom, and hide in the trunk. I personally don't believe that, but it's not unheard of. The physical evidence and the autopsy results should fill in the blanks in this case.  I'm sure the police have a statement or some definitive evidence that caused them to believe this death was suspicious and there may have been foul play. If the evidence pointed towards an accident, I'm not sure they would have arrested a grieving mother - but I may be way off.

I will continue to update this blog as more details of the case become available. I live around 90 minutes from Sacramento, so I consider this to be local news.  Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Jodi Arias Trial - Mysterious "Settlement Conference" Scheduled For Oct 24

It appears there are some new developments in the never-ending Jodi Arias penalty phase retrial.  The next status hearing was scheduled for October 4, 2013. However, yesterday a October 24, 2013 "settlement conference" between the two sides was announced. According to Maricopa County Attorney spokesman Jerry Cobb,the court asked both sides if they would be willing to sit down and discuss a potential resolution. "Neither side has presented an outline or agreement or an official position to the court", Cobb said. Retired Superior Court Judge James Keppel will reside over the conference.  In settlement conferences, the original trial judge is not involved.  Judge Sherry Stephens could come back into the picture to ultimately decide if Jodi Arias receives natural life, or life with the possibility of release after serving 25 years.

Neither side is revealing what prompted the settlement conference and neither side seems to have much leverage to settle - one possible scenario would be if the DA's office and Travis Alexander's family were to agree to take the death penalty off the table in exchange for Jodi Arias dropping any and all appeals.  Ironically, Jodi Arias' best chance for an automatic appeal would occur if she received a sentence of death. What prompted this settlement conference? Has the Arias defense strategy of delaying the process for as long as possible finally paid off for her? I'm sure that the defense has sought to delay the retrial all along in the hopes that the public outrage over this brutal murder would fade with time. 

I'm surprised at this latest settlement conference news. It doesn't necessarily mean there will not be a retrial. I'd love to know what prosecutor Juan Martinez thinks of the settlement conference. He seemed to be 110% for taking this trial all the way to the end, and pursuing the death penalty - with disregarding the notion of any plea deals. Has something changed?  For now, it remains a mystery, but common sense would tell us it's at least a possibility that an agreement could be hatched out to avoid the ordeal of another trial. Just my opinion, but I feel like IF this re trial would have been kept on a tighter schedule it could have been done and over with.  Juan Martinez and the court seemed ready to start in July. Arias' defense was not. Not hard to figure out who this will most likely benefit.

The saga continues!

5 Year Old Found In Trunk of Mother's Car Dies - Aquelin Talamantes Arrested

Another sad story is unfolding in Sacramento, CA.  A 5 year old child was found unresponsive in the trunk of her mother's car yesterday afternoon.  She was transported to a hospital after being discovered, but it was too late. Authorities are trying to determine how long the child may have been in the trunk - and the coroner has not released a cause of death.


Photo: Sacramento Bee

Why does this kind of horror story seem to repeat itself? From coast to coast, we hear reports of children dying or being injured at the hands of the very people who are supposed to love and protect them from danger. I don't get it. I don't want to get it.  It's just wrong on so many levels and its frightening that this has become a far too common occurrence these days.

Police are not releasing much information on this ongoing investigation, but here is what is known.  29 year old Aquelin Talamantes, the child's mother was arrested on suspicion of murder and is being held at the Yolo County jail. Talamantes arrived at a relatives Shore Park Apartment on the 7900 block of Pocket Drive in Sacramento Thursday afternoon. She was alone. Her family became concerned and suspicious when she showed up without Tatiana Garcia, her 5 year old daughter.  They subsequently called the police, who arrived at 2:35PM to conduct a simple "welfare check." When they searched Talamantes' Honda Accord, an unresponsive child was discovered in the trunk.  It was not immediately known how long she had been in the trunk, but she was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.  The coroner hasn't released a cause of death for the child.

Family, friends and neighbors in the Sacramento apartment complex where the car was parked were stunned by the discovery.  Aquelin Talamantes lives on Glide Drive in Davis, and police conducted a search of that residence Thursday night. Police believe the Davis location is where the crime was committed, and evidence was removed from the house. Neighbors on Glide Drive in Davis reportedly told authorities that Talamantes was seen or heard arguing with a man on Thursday, prior to the time they believe the child was put into the trunk of the car.  Earlier on Thursday, neighbors reported seeing Talamantes with her daughter - so when she showed up in Sacramento Thursday afternoon without the child, family members were suspicious and concerned about the whereabouts of the child. No additional details have been released by authorities.

The Sacramento Police Department are seeking tips from the public, and have set up an anonymous tip line:  Sacramento PD (916) 264-5471, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP, or you can call in a tip to 274637 by entering SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers may remain anonymous, and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

I'm going to follow this local story and post updates as more information is uncovered.  



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jodi Arias Defense Wants Mitigation Witness List Sealed

As we patiently wait for the October 4, 2013 status hearing in the never-ending Jodi Arias penalty sentencing re-trial, "minute entries" on the Maricopa County Superior Court's website gives us a hint of what's happening behind the scenes.  In a 9/16/13 minute entry, Arias' attorneys requested that "all mitigation witness names shall be filed under seal with a copy to be provided to the state".  According to that court document, the hearing began at 9:53AM and ended at 10:26AM. Jodi Arias, Kirk Nurmi, Jennifer Willmott and prosecutor Juan Martinez were present when the meeting began at 9:53AM, but at 9:54AM the attorney for the State left the room - the remainder of the hearing was "Ex Parte" between the Court and the Defense.

Here is what was transcribed by the court reporter Mike Babicky:

IT IS ORDERED all mitigation witness names shall be filed under seal with a copy to be provided to the state.

IT IS ORDERED sealing this hearing not to be transcribed without Order of The Court.

IT IS ORDERED affirming prior custody orders.

IT IS ORDERED excluding all time.

10:26AM Matter concludes.

Interesting.  Another "minute entry" seems to point to the reason for the latest court delay.  It was requested by Jodi Arias' defense team.  In a 9/13/13 minute entry:

Discussion is held regarding the Defendant's Motion to Continue 9/16/13 Status Conference.

IT IS ORDERED continuing the Status Conference from 9/16/13 to 10/4/13 at 8:30AM.

IT IS ORDERED excluding all time.

10:55AM Matter concludes.

These minute entries are interesting, but frustrating to see how many deadlines have come and gone, and I'm wondering why this continues to happen in this particular case.  The various motions around the retrial have been known virtually since the previous mistrial was declared, or shortly thereafter.  Why hasn't Judge Stephens been able to rule on these issues and move forward? For example, a 8/26/13 minute entry from a status conference says the following:

IT IS ORDERED setting a Complex Case Management Conference on September 16, 2013 at 8:30AM in this division.

The Courts Oral Argument will be held at the next said hearing date of September 16, 2013 regarding Pending Motions filed.

JOINT CASE MANAGEMENT POINTS:

No less than two working days before each Case Management Conference, the parties shall file a Joint Case Management Report. The Report will inform the Court of:

1.  The specific progress made since the last Case Management Conference in completing activities previously previously established by the Court and the parties;

2.  Specific case preparation to be completed before the next Case Management Conference;

3.  Witnesses who have been interviewed in the preceding month;

4.  Witnesses who will be interviewed in the upcoming month;

5.  Pending issues to be resolved.

8:41AM Matter Concludes.

In a July 15, 2013 minute entry, it states that the defense had until August 5, 2013 to file a reply to the State's Response. Can this just go on forever? Back and forth, deadlines coming and going with new deadlines being set - then extended with no end in sight? At some point, don't all outstanding Motions need to be wrapped up so they can begin the jury selection? I'm really at a loss for our slow moving legal process.  Given the fact that the defense should have been ready to present mitigation during the first trial, you wouldn't think it would be too difficult to tweak it or refine it to present to the new jury panel. It just seems it shouldn't be like they are starting from scratch.

The remaining issues the defense is trying to iron out:


  • NOTE: Renewing Ms. Arias' request for individualized voir dire for by counsel
  • NOTE: Defendant's Motion to compel juror Twitter accounts
  • NOTE: Defendant's Motion to preclude or limit live media coverage of Sentencing Phase retrial
  • NOTE: Motion for Change of Venue
  • NOTE: Defendant's Request to sequester her jury
  • NOTE: Motion to Continue evidentiary hearing scheduled for 9/16/1
The State has objected to many of the Defense motions. Interestingly enough, the mitigation specialist name on the Case Information page for this trial still says "TBD". I guess that means Maria De La Rosa is out, and a new mitigation specialist is in? I have never seen a trial that has had so many delays, twists and turns as the Jodi Arias murder trial. Is this status quo for a death penalty case? It seems to me there have been other even higher profile cases that have gone to trial faster and more efficiently than this one.  I have a feeling the tactic all along has been to delay this thing until early 2014, hoping the public outrage over this violent murder will fade with time.  While that may be somewhat correct, the outrage will remain until Jodi Arias is sentenced one way or another.  The delay tactic may in fact backfire on the defense. A new jury may not feel sympathetic towards Jodi Arias, who was seen as public enemy number one during the first trial - rather, they may be able to take an objective look at the aggravating factors and weigh them against the mitigation and see how it balances out.

The first jury went through 5 months worth of testimony, and they had the opportunity to see Arias throughout the trial - and they heard her testify for 18 days straight. Like her or not, they may have formed a subconscious bond with her after spending so much time hearing her life story. Juan Martinez has also been given additional time to refine his arguments, which may not bode well for the defense! He may now have a better feel for the points he needs to drive home and where he may have feel short. Giving a prosecutor like Juan Martinez more time could turn out to be a very bad risk!

Until October 4th.......






Cold Justice - Rachelle Escalante Hit & Run Death Remains A Mystery

Episode 4 of TNT's Cold Justice aired last night, and the outcome was much different than the previous 3 cases they have worked on.  The Cold Justice team of Kelly Siegler, Yolanda McCleary, and Johnny Bonds were joined by former detective Orlando Martinez as they traveled to Globe Arizona in search of answers in the 1988 hit and run death of 17 year old Rachelle Escalante.

Rachelle Escalante was last seen leaving a house party on July 7, 1988 on foot.  Two police officers came across Rachelle's body in the middle of a highway on their patrol - the officers stopped and tried to help her, but they were unable to save her as they watched her take her last breath.  Rachelle's hit and run death has never been forgotten by the people in the small town who knew her and her family.  One of the Globe detectives who appeared on last night's episode was a classmate of Rachelle's and he certainly never forgot. He had hoped that the Cold Justice team could get the bottom of the suspicions and rumors that circulated for more than two decades around this case.

Watching last night's episode, one thing was clear:  there were definitely people who had their theories about who may have been involved in this crime.  A cloud of suspicion around two sisters in particular, and one of the sister's boyfriends seemed to be a reoccurring theme among those who Siegler and her team interviewed.  They went back and reinterviewed the kids who attended that house party - hoping that now, as adults they may come clean about any knowledge they had about what happened to Rachelle Escalante.  A girl who could have been a key witness in the investigation is deceased.  "Cathy" was a friend of Rachelle's, and reportedly may have been romantically involved with Rachelle but she died in an automobile accident after Rachelle's death.  It could have been helpful in this case for Johnny Bonds to have been able to interview Cathy, since she and Rachelle reportedly argued at the party the night Rachelle was killed.

Also at the center of the investigation, a 1979 black Trans Am, seen circling the highway where Rachelle's body was found at least three times by police. Police followed the suspicious Trans Am and it led them back to the house party Rachelle had been at.  Could this have simply been a coincidence? Rachelle was hit on one of the town's main highways, but there was reportedly little traffic there at that time of night.  The occupants of the Trans Am were believed to be a teenager named Laurie, her boyfriend and Cathy.  With Cathy unavailable for interview, the team set out to find people who attended that house party.  

Several people they interviewed reported a fight involving Rachelle, Cathy and possibly Laurie. Laurie was believed to have been jealous over Rachelle's involvement with her boyfriend - and Cathy may have also had jealousy issues with Rachelle if they were romantically involved. I don't recall Laurie's boyfriend's name - but he is currently serving time in an Arizona prison and was easy for Johnny Bonds and Orlando Martinez to find an interview.  The former boyfriend's story was that he was the only person who had possession of the Trans Am's keys that night, and he insisted that the Trans Am never left the party until after Rachelle had been hit.  He maintains it is not possible that Laurie or anybody else took the keys and left the party, and therefore Laurie could not have been involved in this accident.

There were conflicting stories on this point.  Several friends of Laurie told investigators that Laurie called them and asked them to lie to police, and tell them that Laurie never left the party that night.  At least three people told the same story.  She may not have been involved, but why would she ask people to lie to the police?  When the police followed the Trans Am back to the house, Laurie told the police she had not been in the car since she arrived at the party, despite the fact that several officers said they saw her in the car as it circled the crime scene at least three times.  Why would she lie about this?  Laurie may not have had anything to do with this, and it may have really been a tragic accident - but Laurie, her sister Shawna and their mother Bev seemed to be hiding something back in 1988, and they seemed to be hiding something when interviewed by Bonds and Martinez.

Several people told the team that Laurie and Shawna had a very close and unusual relationship with their mother Bev.  Bev was known to go out and party with her daughters, she acted more like their friend than their mother. People reportedly believed the three would stick together, and if one or more of them were involved it would be difficult to get one to turn against the other and tell the truth.  Of the three women, the only one who came across as credible to any degree was Shawna - when asked if she thinks her sister Laurie could have been involved in Rachelle's death she said "I really don't know". Siegler was struck by the fact that Shawna couldn't seem to say NO, Laurie was not involved.  Bev was the next person they brought in. She was completely defensive and insisted that nobody in her family was involved in what happened to Rachelle.  She further claimed that people were lying about her partying with her daughters.  Perhaps she was embarrassed of partying with her daughters, but why lie about it? In the end, she came across as more concerned about the reputation of her family than finding out the truth of what happened that night. Bev was a bust.

Laurie was interviewed last.  She was completely defensive, uncooperative and she didn't answer many questions before asking if she was free to go - and she left without giving any new information. What struck me about Laurie is that she continues to lie about things she shouldn't need to lie about. She insisted that she was not in the Trans Am, circling the crime scene as reported by the original officers back in 1988. She insisted that she never called to ask her friends to lie about whether she left the party at any time. They are all lying, according to her. When pressed by the detectives on what motive the police would have to put her in the Trans Am circling the crime scene, she asked if she was free to go and the interview was over.

There wasn't much physical evidence on this case - and what they did have could not be linked back to the Trans Am or any of the suspects in this case.  A new witness was also discovered who reported seeing a large yellow semi driving in the area during the time Rachelle was believed to have been hit.  This was a turning point in the investigation, it seems this really could have been a tragic accident and the chances of locating the yellow truck or the driver of the truck were little to none. It's possible the driver didn't even know he/she hit Rachelle.  In the end, there just wasn't enough evidence pointing to the Trans Am, other than the strange behavior of Laurie and her mother.

Sadly, it seems they may never really know what happened that night.  Short of somebody coming forward and confessing to hitting her, or a new witness coming forward with information, it seems this may remain a mystery.  I'm still curious as to why Laurie and Bev seem to have a problem telling the truth.  But that's something they both will have to live with.  The teenagers who attended that party in 1988 may have been afraid of the police because there was alcohol at the party and they were under age, but there is no reason to not tell the truth 25 years later.

Kelly Siegler got a little emotional and teared up when she talked about having to go back to Rachelle's mother and brothers to tell them they were unable to uncover anything that would help them solve this case. The family handled the news with dignity and grace, and they thanked her for taking the time to look into the case. Maybe now they can have some peace, knowing an outside independent investigation was done on this hit and run. I think there may always be suspicions in this small town around this case.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hiccup Girl Found "Guilty" Of Murder

22 year old Jennifer Mee, who in 2007 became known as "Hiccup Girl" has been found guilty of first degree murder by a jury in Pinellas County, Florida on Friday.  
Jennifer Mee reacts to verdict

Mee was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the only sentence allowable under the law - according to Judge Nancy Moate Ley.  At age 15, Mee reportedly developed hiccups that would not go away. She had appeared on the Today Show and Inside Edition for her odd case of the hiccups.  Mee reportedly tried many therapies to rid herself of the hiccups,which stopped for a period of time and then returned. Mee disappeared from the spotlight and then in the summer of 2007 she disappeared from her family for 24 hours. Her parents found her crying on a park bench. Friends of Mee's say she was afraid her hiccups would hamper her life, and it may even prevent her from getting married. 

According to her family, she suffered from seizures and had to be placed in a psychiatric hospital and may have been beaten by her boyfriend. She eventually "withdrew" from high school and by 2010 she was living away from home on social security disability. Mee was on trial for her role in the 2010 murder of 22 year old Shannon Griffin.  The prosecution alleged that Mee met Shannon Griffon online and lured him to an vacant home under the pretense of wanting to buy marijuana.  Once at the remote location, two of Mee's friends robbed Griffin at gunpoint and during the struggle he was shot four times. LaRon Raidford, one of Mee's co-defendants was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in August.  The remaining co-defendant, Mee's former boyfriend Lamont Newton has yet to go to trial.  John Trevena, Mee's attorney argued that she did not orchestrate a robbery and he claimed there was not sufficient evidence to convict her.  Apparently the jury thought otherwise.

The prosecution argued that Mee did set the robbery up, and they used a taped jailhouse phone call between Mee and her mother as evidence at her trial. In the call Mee told her mother that she did not pull the trigger on the gun that killed Griffin, but was charged with murder "because I set everything up". She told her mom "it all went wrong mom, it just went downhill". There have been debates over whether Mee was the "mastermind" of this robbery gone bad or an innocent bystander who got caught up in a bad situation.  I don't know which one she is, but any time you plan to rob someone or lure them to a place where others are lying in wait - you are responsible for what happens to that person. It's as simple as that.  She may not have intended for him to get shot and killed, but if she knew he was going to be robbed for drugs,money or both then she is responsible.

It's amazing to me that people still don't grasp the gravity of their actions, and still seem to believe you have to be the one who pulled the trigger to be charged in something like this. Jacklynn Allen, the sister of co-defendant LaRon Raidford insisted that Mee was in control.  "If it wasn't from her, none of this would've happened", Allen told tampabay.com.  Mee argued that she and her co-defendants all had access to the phone that was used to call Griffin and direct him to the remote location.  Mee's attorney argued that if Mee didn't know about the robbery, she was not part of any "plot". A look into the mindset of Jennifer Mee from her Facebook page:

September 2, 2010:  Maken mo money than da avarage bitch...
September 5, 2010:  Bae gave me 2beans n refa..im f****d up gota work at 930am wtf

Looks like Mee forgot to use spellcheck. The Facebook messages were posted around the time Mee moved into an apartment with her boyfriend with boyfriend Lamont Antonio Newton, LaRon Raidford and a woman named Jennifer Charron.  During a formal interview with attorneys, Charron said that one night in October of 2010 Mee, Raidford and Newton all left the apartment - Mee told her they were "going to get some money", without saying exactly what that meant.  Before long, Mee ran back upstairs and was very upset. She said "somebody got shot". Then LaRon Raidford ran up the stairs and was so upset he punched the wall. He reportedly was screaming "Lamont is dead bro". But Lamont Newton was not dead, and soon after he staggered up the stairs and collapsed on the ground, out of breath. "Lamont was saying he had to do it...he had to kill the guy or he would've been killed himself". 

Lamont Newton is the only one of the three that has not yet gone on trial for this murder.  Jennifer Mee's own mother, Robin Robidoux was arrested just days before her trial began on a warrant for interference of child custody. What a story. You couldn't make this stuff up. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"Cold Justice" Looks At 1988 Hit & Run Death of Rachelle Escalante

I have been watching and writing about this new TNT series since it aired earlier this month and I find the cases thus far have been interesting. The Cold Justice team of Kelly Siegler, Yolanda McCleary and Johnny Bonds have had some success already in the form of Ronnie Hendricks pleading guilty to the murder of his girlfriend Pam Shelley, who was packed up and ready to move out of state when she was found with a gunshot wound to the head. Her death was originally ruled a suicide, but thanks to a renewed investigation and help and attention drawn from Cold Justice's participation netted results.

Next week the team heads to Globe, Arizona to look into the suspected hit and run killing of 17 year old Rachelle Escalante.  I've been looking for news relating to the original investigation from July of 1988 but I haven't come across much at all - the information is scarce.  However, it seems that people who were familiar with this incident are posting comments that indicate the person or people involved with this hit and run are "well known" in that community.  These are only comments and I don't know if there is any validity to them, but I've seen several anonymous postings that state "everybody knows who is responsible for this crime", one even states that one of the responsible parties worked as a cashier in a local store.

Rachelle Escalante


Rachelle Escalante attended a party with friends on July 6, 1988.  A fight reportedly broke out at the party and Rachelle is believed to have left the party on foot.  Patrol Officers Lee Kinnard and Ray Hernandez came across Rachelle crawling across the road later that evening and they stopped to help her but it was too late.  Rachelle Escalante took her last breath and died in the street with the patrol officers at her side.  It certainly sounds like the fight that broke out at that party may be the key to solving this case.  If so many people knew who hit Rachelle and why, I'm curious as to why there were never any arrests made in this case. The few things I've been able to find online about this case is that a Black Trans Am is believed to be the car that was involved, and jealousy over a boy may have led to this tragic event.

I'm posting a link to an article that was published on news.gila1019.com recently that discusses Cold Justice's involvement in this cold case:
http://news.gila1019.com/1988-cold-case-murder-of-rachelle-escalante-now-open/

It's not really an article, rather more of an announcement that TNT's Cold Justice is looking into the case - but the comments linked to the announcement are what really caught my attention. Naturally there is no way to tell if the comments posted are in fact from people who legitimately know something, or if they are just pranks, but reading the details of these comments and the common theme that it was no secret who was responsible for running Rachelle Escalante down and what car was used to do it seem to be too detailed to be random prank comments. It sounds like people in that small town had a very good idea of who was involved in this hit and run and why it happened. 

Several people posted comments stating they remember when this happened and they indicate they would be willing to talk to investigators to tell them what they know. Some comments are anonymous and some have names.  An anonymous commenter points to jealousy as the motive for the crime. Rachelle Escalante's younger brother Gabriel (or someone claiming to be Gabriel) left comments asking these people who were commenting to bring their information to the Globe Police Department.

There are a few very specific themes in these comments:  In a comment left on June 2, 2013 somebody named Fawn wrote:  "Gabriel, I was in college at the time, however, when I came home and saw all the signs and markings at the crime scene I was sick and overwhelmed with sorrow for your family.  I have prayed for years that the truth would be exposed, I was ecstatic when this was brought to my attention. As the anonymous comment says above, everyone in town knew about the party, the jealousy outraged sisters, I only wish I could remember their names."

A comment left by Tabitha on June 8, 2013 says: "It's about time!!! Yes - everyone who was around at the time knows exactly who did it, and why the police didn't perform the most basic of investigating at the time, reeks of corruption, bribery and secrets.  I just hope it's not too late - that the women leading this investigation are able to get the proof they need, after the perps were allowed to wash their car and get rid of all other evidence, and the cops ignored or botched everything else".

On September 14, 2013 a comment by Xameria says:  "Wow Tabitha those are some seriously harsh words. Coming from a different perspective, there was a lot of fear surrounding this case, you know as well as I do that the responsible parties have done everything within their power to frighten and keep the people who know the truth quiet. That being said, yes the evidence on the car was washed away within hours of this happening and the police hadn't even begun to put the evidence together. 

It certainly seems that the people who lived in that small town remember this event and haven't forgotten about what happened to Rachelle Escalante. It's alarming to think that people may have known who committed this crime for all these years and law enforcement did not or could not make an arrest - but I'm hoping that a little exposure from Cold Justice is just what this case needs to uncover the truth once and for all.  If you want to see the comments I'm referring to and judge them for yourself, use the link to the announcement and then scroll down to see the various comments left in response to the announcement.









Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cold Justice Uncovers 31 Year Old Murder Indictment

Episode 3 of TNT's Cold Justice uncovered a 31 year old blunder, or a mystery - depending on how you look at it.  In last night's episode, former prosecutor Kelly Siegler returned to her home town in Matagorda County with Yolanda McCleary and Johnny Bonds to look into the 1982 homicide of 48 year old Charlene Corporon, who was shot in the head in the bedroom of her Palacio Texas home.  Corporon ran a successful agricultural business in town with her son Gary, following the accidental death of her husband.

Police were called to the Corporon home after Charlene's boyfriend reportedly called her home and Gary told him "Charlene doesn't look too good". Her body was discovered on her bed, and although the bullets recovered from her head were fragmented they were later identified as .22 caliber. Back in 1982, there were two suspects in this case - Charlene's son Gary and her boyfriend. Family and friends told police that Gary was physically abusive towards his mother and he is believed to have injured her on more than one occasion.  A former employee reportedly overheard Gary threaten to kill his mother.  Her boyfriend was also a suspect early on because several of Charlene's friends reported that she planned to break off the relationship with him.

The investigation in 1982 led law enforcement to Gary Corporon, and the DA brought the case to a grand jury to seek a murder indictment against Corporon.  This is where the mystery or blunder begins - law enforcement believed that the grand jury "passed" on this case, believing the police didn't have enough evidence at that point.  Corporon had been arrested and later released on $100,000 bail. Several years, then decades went by and the case went cold.  That is until a new sheriff decided to look into 5 unsolved homicides and Kelly Siegler and Cold Justice got involved.  Their investigation uncovered something shocking - they discovered the grand jury had indicted Gary Corporon for murder on September 20, 1982!  What happened here? Why were police under the impression the grand jury had not indicted Corporon, and who is responsible for ensuring the CORRECT information gets to those who need it?

It seems to me that this would be the responsibility of the District Attorney's office.  After all, they would be prosecuting the case - did somebody drop the ball back in 1982?  This seems shocking to me.  Gary Corporon is now 58 years old and is believed to be working off-shore in Louisiana.  Former sheriff's detective Nubbin Chamblee worked the case back in 1982, and he says he was surprised to find out that Corporon had been indicted by the original grand jury. Chamblee declined to discuss the potential miscommunication that led to the embarrassing 31 year delay in bringing this case to trial.

There is no record of the indictment, according to District Clerk Becky Denn. The former district attorney and former sheriff involved with the case in 1982 declined to comment. No surprise there, given the potential issues that have come to light. I believe the current District Attorney plans to re-indict Gary Corporon, using the information gathered from the original investigation back in 1982 and what Siegler and McClary were able to add based on their look at this case.  Siegler found new witnesses who saw Gary Corporon with a .22 caliber gun just 2 weeks before his mother was killed.  Corporon reportedly showed a .22 caliber rifle to friends during a fishing trip. This could be a crucial detail, given the chances of finding the murder weapon after 31 years is not likely.

Siegler interviewed her father, the town's barber who knew Charlene, Gary and Charlene's boyfriend.  Siegler's father owns a barber shop/liquor store in this small town - Siegler's hand written signs still hang on her father's wall of the barber shop.  That is definitely a small town where everybody seems to know each other, which makes this whole thing even more odd.  You would think something as important as a murder indictment would be followed up on - I don't understand how Gary Corporon could be out on bail for 31 years. Doesn't the bail bond company follow up on people they bail out of jail? It seems there were so many missed opportunities and system failures with this murder case.  Mistakes happen, but it's truly frightening to think that this may not have even been uncovered had it not been for a new sheriff and Cold Justice.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Ryan Burns Appears On ID Show "Who The Bleep"......

It seems I've been watching too much TV these days, as evidenced by my "Cold Justice" posts.  I usually don't watch the Investigation Discovery Channel's "Who the Bleep Did I Marry", mostly because the format seems a little lame and too scripted - but after catching the first two minutes of an episode yesterday, I realized the episode was on Ryan Burns and his experience dating convicted killer Jodi Arias. Burns was a key prosecution witness who through a wrench in Arias' alibi when he told police Arias was more than a day late showing up to his house in Utah during the time Travis Alexander was killed.

I don't know how to read Burns' appearance on this show. I'm certain he was paid to appear, in fact at the end of the show it gives you information on how to contact the show if you want to appear and have a story. You can't blame a person for trying to make a buck, but I can't say it sits well when people are paid for appearances in this manner when someone was butchered. Ryan Burns had a story to tell, but I can't say he said anything we didn't hear at the trial - no "exclusive", rather just a recap of what we already have heard. No doubt there will be more stories on Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jodi Arias on an episode of Oxygen's "Snapped".

I do credit Burns for cooperating with the police, despite his romantic interest in Arias and sharing what he knew about where she was or more importantly where she was not during the time it is believed the murder occurred. On the show, Burns' credited Travis Alexander for inspiring him to succeed and he felt he owed it to Travis to bust Jodi's timeline wide open and report her late arrival and unanswered phone calls and text messages during her trip to Utah. We all know where she was and what caused her delay, what is still chilling to this day is how calm and normal everyone who had contact with her reported Arias to be in the days after the murder.

Ryan Burns is now married with children - but he did say on the show that Jodi Arias wanted to go back to Utah for another visit after Travis' death and before she was ultimately arrested on July 15, 2008. He wisely heeded the advice of his close friends and told her he didn't think it was a good idea.  He still wonders where Arias was going when she was arrested and weapons were found in her car. 


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Can "Cold Justice" Help Solve 33 Year Old Unsolved Homicide Of Joyce McLain?

Joyce McLain (sunjournal.com)
In Medford Maine, residents are still haunted by the unsolved homicide of 16 year old Joyce McLain, who was beaten to death on August 8, 1980. McLain was a sophomore at Schenck High School in East Millinocket.  She was last seen jogging in her neighborhood - her badly beaten body was found on school grounds.  There are reportedly a dozen suspects in this case, but no arrest has ever been made. The murder shook up the residents of this small town.  Patrick Day went to school with Joyce McLain, he was a freshman at the time of her murder. Day took the initiative and went to Joyce's mother Pamela McLain with the idea of trying to get the "Cold Justice" team to re-open her daughter's unsolved case.  She was receptive to the idea. Day is now 49 years old and recovering from throat cancer. He told the sunjournal.com how the McLain murder changed his town. Petitions have been signed by residents in an attempt to get the FBI involved in the case have not yielded much results.

Public safety spokesman Steve McCausland says the McLain investigation is still open, and while the FBI has helped on the case in the past it cannot take over the investigation because no federal laws were broken. The FBI says that despite the petitions, the case can only be directed by state investigators.

District Attorney General William Stokes confirmed his office and state police are considering getting Kelly Siegler and Yolanda McCleary's help. State police have reportedly completed online applications for "Cold Justice" and are waiting for final approval from supervisors before submitting the application to TNT's producers.  Law enforcement officials want a better understanding of how the show works before deciding whether to apply. Among their questions: Will Siegler and McClary seek total access to the case? (I would think that's an obvious YES) What impact might that have on maintaining the chain of evidence as the law requires? 

Day says Maine State Police Senior Investigator Darryl Peary, described as the primary investigator on McLain's case seemed receptive to the idea of involving Siegler and McClary. However, Peary's supervisor Sgt. Troy Gardner was "less enthusiastic".  Are state investigators fearful that their original investigation would be called into question or scrutinized publicly in front of a television audience? I don't see any downside to getting outside help in a 33 year old cold case. Seems to me that they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. 

Of course there is no guarantee that "Cold Justice" would agree to examine the case, should they decide to apply.  Nor are there any guarantees that "Cold Justice" would uncover anything new.  The McLain case was previously featured on "Unsolved Mysteries", with no real results. Isn't it worth a try? I say submit the application and see where this takes you.  This was a 16 year old high school sophomore, beaten to death and left on school grounds. Somebody has walked the streets unpunished for 33 long years. Submit the application, for the family - and for the community! Politics should not have a place in decisions such as this.  
Ronnie Hendricks Sentenced to 22 Years



CASE UPDATE: chalk one up for the good guys - or in this case the good gals! 
Following the "Cold Justice" team's investigation into the shooting death of Cuero Texas resident Pamela Shelly, previously ruled a suicide - Ronnie Joe Hendricks plead guilty to the 2001 murder and was recently sentenced to a 22 years in prison.  I truly believe that if it hadn't been for the efforts of Kelly Siegler, Yolanda McClary and Johnny Bonds - along with the local Cuero officer who never bought the suicide theory and never forgot about Pamela.  Pamela Shelly had loaded all of her belongings onto a trailer and was 15 minutes away from pulling out and leaving Hendricks for Arkansas when she reportedly "killed herself". Who does that? Shelly's family insisted she never would have done that to her two small children. She was leaving an abusive relationship with Hendricks, always the most dangerous time for a woman in domestic violence situations.

In Esipose 3, airing next Tuesday - the team travels to Siegler's home town to look at a complicated cold case. Siegler gets to visit with her father who still lives in the same small town. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Another Delay In The Jodi Arias Trial - Judge Stephens Moves Back Status Hearing

It really should be no surprise that Judge Sherry Stephens announced today that the September 16, 2013 status hearing in the Jodi Arias Saga will be moved back to October 4, 2013.  Stephens announced the move largely because she is not prepared to rule on several outstanding motions filed by Arias' attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott.  I certainly hope additional time will allow her to come into the court room on the 4th ready to rule and get a date on the court's calendar to begin the jury selection. I don't get these delays, as the issues she has to consider have been known for some time now - I know this isn't the only case on her calendar, but these delays have become far too common place and if I were a betting woman, it looks like Nurmi & Willmott may end up getting their wish for a January 2014 start date.
Judge Sherry Stephens, CBS 5 News
Jodi Arias, CBS 5 News



Not that I'm counting, but this is the third time a status hearing in the penalty retrial has been postponed. If I'm not mistaken, the prosecution still has to respond to these motions and make his arguments. It's beginning to feel like "Groundhog Day" - if October 4th roles around and we hear the intro to Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" playing in the courtroom I wouldn't be shocked.

Juan Martinez has been ready and eager to set a retrial date since the mistrial was declared.  Remember way back when Judge Stephens told both sides to prepare for a start date of September? They aren't even close.  Who knows how long jury selection will take, or when it will begin. They still have to determine where the trial will be held, if the jurors will be sequestered, if cameras will be allowed in the courtroom and if the jurors will have to disclose any Twitter accounts.  Did I leave anything out? You know a trial has been going on for too long when you can recite the pending motions off the top of your head.  Looks like Nurmi/Willmott's stall tactics have worked. I'd be surprised at this point if this thing kicks off before the new year.  So must for swift justice.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

What Really Happened To Caylee Anthony?

It's been more than 2 years since a Florida jury acquitted Casey Anthony for the murder of her daughter Caylee.  The trial was often referred to as "The Social Media Trial of The Century", in part because Florida's Sunshine Law allowed the public access to so much information, and the nation seemed to fall in love with the little girl who was found discarded in the woods.

This case was one of the most widely followed and debated trials on record, perhaps even more than the Jodi Arias trial.  Last November, Fox News Insider published an article that cited a key piece of evidence the prosecution failed to bring up at trial - would it have made a difference in the outcome? The evidence was a computer search on the Anthony's home computer on "foolproof suffocation methods", reportedly made on the last day Caylee Anthony was seen alive.  Anthony's defense team was aware of the search evidence but wasn't obligated to bring it up at trial, and reportedly was shocked when the prosecution didn't present the evidence. 

So what really happened to Caylee, will we ever know the truth?  Casey Anthony is the only person who knows what really happened, and I don't think she will ever reveal the details.  Once voted the most hated woman in America, Casey Anthony has remained out of the public's eye for the most part since her dramatic release from jail was televised.  Her few public appearances have been related to her bankruptcy filing. In January, Anthony filed for bankruptcy claiming she had no assets and was more than $700,000 in debt. 

Since the dramatic conclusion to the trial, Judge Belvin Perry Jr. has publicly discussed his surprise at the verdict. He believed there was enough evidence to convict Anthony, although the case was circumstantial in nature. Ultimately, the state may have discounted the appeal of Anthony's inexperienced attorney Jose Baez.  Prosecutors Jeff Ashton and Linda Drake Burdick appeared to have the upper hand going against the unknown Baez, and I think Ashton made a monumental mistake in appearing to laugh at him at points during the trial. It's the David vs Goliath thing. Not to say Ashton isn't a great prosecutor, and the two did an excellent job in presenting this case and explaining the scientific evidence - but the jury seemed to want more than science, they wanted to know how Caylee was murdered and perhaps more importantly IF she was murdered.

This is where the state fell short. Little Caylee's remains were found in such poor condition, the medical examiner was unable to tell that story. Still, the evidence was compelling. The duct tape that remained on the skull of Caylee Anthony should have pointed to a murder, or at the very least a highly suspicious death. The second highly suspicious thing the jury should have focused on is why wouldn't a mother report her 2 year old daughter as missing? Who does that? Who would be able to go on with their life, dodging family members and putting people off while continuing seeing their friends and carrying on a romantic relationship? That is highly suspicious in itself.  The third point that should have tied this together was the smell in Casey's abandoned car.  Who leaves their car, their only form of transportation in a parking lot where it can be towed away?  Even days later, numerous people reported the car smelled like death.  Another red flag was when raised when a neighbor of the Anthony's told law enforcement that Casey asked to borrow a shovel in the days following the disappearance of Caylee, before anybody even knew she was missing. Why did she need a shovel?  Didn't her own family have one?  When Caylee's scattered remains were finally found, the same clothes she was wearing the last time the Anthony's saw her leave the house with Casey were nearby. A reasonable person would come to the conclusion that she died within a short time of leaving the Anthony's home. This seems to fly in the face of Baez's defense that Caylee died in a drowning accident - depending on who you believe, George or Casey Anthony. Circumstantial, yes - but the sum of all circumstantial pieces provides a compelling case for foul play.

Did Caylee die accidentally while in the care of her mother? Did she panic, then concoct the kidnapping story, wrapping duct tape around Caylee's mouth to make it look like a kidnapping to whoever found her?  Prosecutor Jeff Ashton was unable to say for sure whether the duct tape was placed on Caylee's mouth and nose before or after she died.  To me, does that really matter all that much? Like the medical examiner said, there is no reason for a child to have duct tape on her face. No reason, dead or alive. I personally have always believed the duct tape was an amateur attempt at staging the victim or crime scene to make it appear to be something other than what it was. That's what we are used to seeing on television right? When people are kidnapped, they often times have their hands, feet or both bound behind them and have duct tape, blindfolds or both.

Did the jury have unreasonable ideas about what "beyond a reasonable doubt" meant? Looking at another high profile murder case in which there was little direct evidence, including a cause of death are the murders of Laci and Conner Peterson.  The condition of their bodies prevented the medical examiner from being able to determine the cause of death. Prosecutors in that case had little physical evidence to present to the jury, but they did have some strong circumstantial evidence that told a story.  I'd say Scott Peterson was convicted with less evidence than used in many trials.  The California jury that convicted Peterson saw the totality of all of the pieces of evidence, including the behavior of Laci's husband Scott before, during and after her disappearance.  I'm sure they had some doubts during their deliberations, but they seemed to grasp what reasonable doubt was.

There have been many theories about what happened to Caylee Anthony, including the theory presented by Jose Baez at trial that Caylee died from an accidental drowning in the family's back yard pool.  Baez managed to key in on social media and what people were saying about Casey's father George and they used that information to their own advantage at trial.  I thought George Anthony was a very believable witness. He seemed to be completely distraught over the disappearance of Caylee, and his frustration with his daughter during the jailhouse visits was obvious.  But some people viewed George as combative - the Anthony's had people camped out on their front yard for weeks, I wouldn't blame anybody for getting irritated and frustrated with that type of activity. I think George was just another victim in the trial, sacrificed for the sake of his daughter. Does anybody believe George Anthony ever abused Casey sexually? I was just as outraged at Baez's opening statements where he made those allegations as I was when Jodi Arias accused Travis Alexander of being a pedophile. These are desperate ploys by manipulative women who use hot button issues to gain sympathy with the jury.

Casey's lies to investigators in this case should have been another huge red flag to the jury.  If I were on the jury, it would have been difficult for me to get past the fact that she didn't report Caylee missing - and she lied about having a job and going as far as leaving for work every day, the smell of death in her car, and the biggest whopper of all lies: the fictional nanny "Zanny". It's hard to believe she created this fictitious character, gave details of Zanny's life to her friends and family and nobody ever caught on. How does that happen? Were the Anthony's too busy in their own lives to have wondered why they never EVER saw a photo of Zanny, or ever talked to her on the telephone? Or did they simply trust their daughter? There were so many red flags with the tales Anthony told. But Casey doesn't look like what we have come to expect a killer to look like.  Even after her lies were exposed, people had doubts that a mother could kill her daughter.  Casey wisely kept quiet after she was arrested. No media interviews, she didn't draw unwanted attention to herself. She had already been exposed as a liar, and many believed strongly that she was a killer.


This case shook Orlando in a big way.  The trial was unlike anything we have seen since the OJ Simpson trial, and I'll never forget the footage of people running and pushing and shoving other people to get the highly coveted public seats in the courtroom. If you think a defendant can't get a fair trial with cameras in the courtroom and media coverage, you may want to check out the Casey Anthony trial.  It's not the coverage, it's the case. While we may never know the truth behind Caylee's disappearance or how she ended up discarded in the woods near her grandparents home, I can't think of a single reasonable explanation for a mother not reporting her 2 year old child as missing. That in itself should be a felony in every state in America, and I was surprised to learn that it wasn't.  Many states have proposed bills that would change current law, making it a felony for a parent or legal guardian to fail to report a missing child, in cases where the parent knew or should have known the child was possibly in danger. Unofficially dubbed "Caylee's Law", the idea for the bill began with protesters who disagreed with the jury's verdict of not guilty on all major charges.

One petition, authored by Michelle Crowder on Change.org gathered more than 1,261,130 electronic signatures (as of 7/19/11). As a result of these grass root movements, legislators in Florida, Oklahoma, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia began drafting versions of Caylee's Law.  Laws have already been enacted in several states, the potential punishments vary by state. For example, Bill SB1 was approved in Alabama on June 10, 2013 making failure to report a child missing a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, yet Florida Bill HB37 sets punishment at up to 5 years in prison. Regardless, this is an excellent example of how people can ban together and enact positive change in their communities. There is strength in numbers. I can't tell you how many petitions I've signed on Change.org.

So what's happening in the lives of George and Cindy, and brother Lee Anthony in the years since their lives were turned upside down with the death of their beloved Caylee? The Anthony's made news when they reportedly had a yard sale, selling some of Caylee's toys and other belongings. On July 26, 2013 radaronline reported that a woman named Christina Werner filed a police report alleging she was assaulted by Cindy Anthony when she drove by the yard sale and yelled something out of her car window and a "scuffle" ensued. Werner reportedly said "I can't believe you are selling Caylee's belongings", a statement Cindy Anthony did not appreciate. According to radaronline Werner videotaped her experience at the Anthony's June 28 yard sale, where she purchased items believed to be Caylee's and Casey's. Werner said during the interview "I simply will never understand how these grandparents can put a price tag on Caylee's items. I can understand Casey's things, but I will never understand how they could part with these things".

I don't think it was appropriate for this woman to be videotaping anything at the Anthony's yard sale - seems to me, she was exploiting the situation since she was interviewed at least twice by radaronline.  The Anthony's have been to hell and back, and whether you like them, or approve of the way they handled the worst thing that could happen to a family they don't deserve to remain under the public spotlight years later. Let them live their lives without judgement. They lost their Caylee, and who knows if they have any type of relationship with Casey now. Wesh.com reported that Cindy and George are considering filing a lawsuit against Werner for videotaping their yard sale.  So the battles continue. 

Cindy and George are said to be setting up another foundation in memory of Caylee, according to www.issues.com.  Called "Caylee's Fund", the foundation lists three main objectives: 

1)  Grandparents rights
2)  Helping missing and exploited children
3)  Lobbying for Caylee's Law

Many of you (myself included) may be saying WAIT A MINUTE....remembering what happened with the Anthony's FIRST charitable foundation in Caylee's memory, "cayleemarieanthonyfoundation.net", where they reportedly used 80% of the charitable donations for "administrative expenses". That raises the "WTF" factor in a big way, as little of the money donated was actually found to be used for the purpose of helping any victim. The foundation account was eventually closed, and it was widely believed that the fund was being used to pay Cindy and George's expenses via salaries. And let's not forget that the same person ("SJ") who is running a website for Jodi Arias ran a website for Casey Anthony that is an exact replica of the newer Arias website.  I really hate that there are snakes out there who would exploit the public, accepting donations for a good cause that end up being used for something else altogether. Many regard "SJ" as nothing more than an opportunist, a scammer and somebody who creates false positive postings on these websites to make it appear that Arias and Anthony had supporters.

The Caylee Marie Anthony Foundation's "Statement of Revenue" from 12/31/2009 says it all:

Total Revenue:  $2,580.72
Total Expenses:  $3,107.49
Surplus/Deficit:  -$526.77

Program Service Expenses:  $630.25
Administrative Expenses:  $2,477.24
Fund Raising Expenses:  $0.00

Cindy and George plan on drawing salaries on the new foundation as well. They claim they have been unable to find employment due to their notoriety. Hmmm. I can see how the Anthony's notoriety may effect employment opportunities, but they both have marketable skills and had professional careers before Caylee's disappearance and murder turned their lives upside down. The Polly Klaas Foundation is a shining example of how a charitable foundation should be run and handled.  Mark Klaas has been a huge presence and strong voice for the plight of missing and exploited children. The Anthony's should follow suit if they want to be successful this time around.

While some people out there continue to lash out at Cindy and George Anthony, accusing them of helping Casey dodge the murder charge - I truly believe they wanted justice for Caylee, and they seemed just as shocked by the verdict as the public was. Just my opinion, please don't bash me for stating it. It was my belief that George Anthony in particular believed Casey was responsible for what happened to Caylee, and he seemed particularly distraught and torn apart by what happened to his entire family. The defense tore him apart, using his depression and suicide attempt against him. Way to exploit the misery of a grieving grandfather Mr. Baez.  Whatever you need to say to get your client acquitted. I wonder if Jose Baez truly believes that Casey is completely innocent, or if he was just doing what defense attorneys do - get a favorable verdict, at whatever cost - George Anthony's reputation was the cost. Makes me wonder how some of these defense attorneys sleep at night?







Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Arias Attorneys Pressing For Sequestered Jury In Retrial

This is not anything new being reported by kpopstarz.com, but they confirmed yesterday that attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott are pushing hard to get the new jury sequestered for Jodi Arias' penalty phase re trial.  The lawyers are asking Judge Stephens to shield the jury from the intense publicity surrounding the first trial.  The motion filed by Nurmi cites thousands of television news shows and news articles about Jodi Arias throughout the trial. Did Nurmi cite Jodi's self-initiated interviews, including the one that famously was given minutes after her guilty verdict?  Hmmmm.....

The motion also makes mention of the 3.1 viewers who tuned in to Lifetime's "Dirty Little Secret: The Jodi Arias Story.  Attorneys for Arias fear the second trial will be just as sensational and interfere with her ability to get a fair trial.  If I were Judge Stephens, I would just feel a need to call Nurmi and Willmott on their media allegations and question the effect Arias' own actions have had on her ability to get a fair trial. She seemed to bask in the limelight, oblivous to the fact that so many people believe that she perjured herself on the witness stand, completely fabricated the claims that Travis Alexander was a pedophile and exaggerated greatly or lied altogether about the abuse.

If you are going to point fingers at the media, I really feel strongly that Arias played a big role in making sure the media remained interested in her story! Arias' attorney wrote "This integrity is in the most danger of being compromised when the process is contaminated by outside influences. Given what took place during the last trial and the propensity for history to repeat itself, it is certainly beyond legitimate dispute that the threat to the integrity of the retrial is severe". Also at issue is where the retrial will be held. Attorneys for Arias have filed a motion for a change of venue, in addition to a motion to compel the seated jurors to disclose Twitter account information. Who is going to be charged with monitoring juror Twitter accounts?  While they are at it, Ms. Arias has a little disclosing to do as well.....

With the next status hearing approaching next week, we should be hearing the prosecution's response to these motions. How long will Judge Stephens take to rule on the remaining issues?  How long will it take before a new jury is seated? There seems to be a lot of work remaining before this thing gets going again.  There's the matter of jury questionnaires, individual voir dire? I'm sure they will battle tooth and nail over every last detail - they may actually get their January 2014 start date, as they originally requested. Stall, stall, file a motion - stall, have a hearing where nothing is resolved and set a new date for a status hearing.  This is our justice system?  Please tell me this will end at some point. The jury decided Arias killed Alexander, it was premeditated and committed in a cruel, heinous and depraved manner. Yet they were split on a life sentence or death.  

Yet in the same county a former death row inmate walked free on $350,000 bond recently - after being found guilty and sentenced to death for her alleged role in the execution style shooting death of her young son. Of course, I'm speaking of Debra Milke - one of 3 women who were on Arizona's death row. Milke's conviction was thrown out after she was imprisoned for nearly 25 years. Milke has always denied having anything to do with the murder of her son, yet she was convicted in part due to testimony from Detective Armando Saldate.  Saldate had a less than stellar conduct record and says Milke confessed to him. There was no audio or video recording of the interrogation or the confession - rather, the jury had to rely on the word of a law enforcement official who they more than likely believed. His testimony undoubtedly held a lot of weight with the jury that convicted Milke.  Two other men were found guilty of the actual shooting of the child, however the state's theory was that Milke had her son killed to collect on a $5,000 insurance policy, and because the child was an inconvenience to her. 

Sounds like a very circumstantial case here,yet she was convicted and sentenced to death for her alleged role. It goes to show how different the outcomes can be when it comes to murder trials. 

Regardless of whether you believe Milke was involved in this tragic murder, it appears she did not get a fair trial. The jurors were not given the benefit of knowing the officer's questionable conduct record. This is something that may have given them pause to consider whether the alleged confession ever happened, or if this was an over zealous detective who railroaded Milke onto death row.  Milke has asked that Saldate's testimony be disallowed at her retrial, and she still professes her innocence and says she never confessed to Saldate or anybody else.  Her next court date is slated for September 23rd.