Tuesday, October 31, 2006

National Dress Up Like An Idiot Day

HELL, GOD HELP ME I'M IN HELL, CA

It's Halloween. Oh joy.

Don't get me wrong, I like Halloween. Rather, I like the blood and gore and horror stuff. Gimme a good gut bursting demon, gratuitous nudity and victims who contain about 40 gallons of blood in their systems, and I'm happy.

What I don't like is Mandatory Workplace Fun. You know, Dress Up Like An Idiot Day.

Last year was... interesting.

Fortunately, it hasn't gotten too traumatic. No zombie clowns or gypsy asshats. Yet.

This year, we've been ordered requested to do our area up like Las Vegas. That'd be great if I could bring in whores, strippers and a suitcase full of blow, but we didn't have the budget. The way they've decorated the place, you'd think people went to Vegas to gamble, or something. You call that Sin City? If there isn't a body buried in the desert by the end of the weekend what's the point?

The most frightening thing about this event is the number of people who have threatened to appear as showgirls. Trust me, this is NOT the place for it. I'm not looking forward to the sheer amount of pasty, wrinkled flesh that's about to get shaken in my direction.

The things you see when you don't have a gun.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Court Order Bends Space And Time

Los Angeles, CA

Judges have a lot of power. Power of life and death, freedom or prison. And now, apparently, space and time bend to their will.

L.A.'s jails are severely overcrowded. Have been for some time. When the inmates riot, like they did up at the Pitchess jail near Castaic a few month ago, it took weeks before Sheriff's deputies could get the problem under control. Racial tensions leading to the riot aside, the problem comes down largely to too many inmates, not enough room and not enough staff to watch over them.

But that's okay, because a local judge has issued an order that the county cannot hold more than twenty inmates in a holding cell. Yes, it's that bad. One cell. Twenty people. Problem is that a court order is not going to make more room, hire more Sheriff's, or reduce the number of criminals being arrested.

The Sheriff's department has already been letting non-violent offenders people out of jails in early release programs due to the problem. Unfortunately, we have a lot of violent offenders out here.

So, thanks your honor. Words well spoken, I'm sure. Heartfelt and sincere. And totally fucking useless.

We need programs to reduce the things that lead to crime in the first place. Then we don't have to build more jails. Reduce homelessness, shut down more one-hour hotels, give local businesses an actual boost to get people jobs. Not going to happen, of course. The aftermath of the riots proved that.

We need a stronger police presence to patrol more areas. Los Angeles city has one third the number of police of New York city and half the population. The County Sheriff's department is far worse off and has to patrol a larger area, as well as handle the jails. Start by paying them a wage comparable to LAPD, maybe?

We need conditions better in the jails, yes. I'm with you on that one. But you don't get that without improving the support systems and reducing the load on them.

I'm with the judge on the intent. But the reality of the problems have to be addressed. And that's going to take that one commodity that so many of us are lacking.

Not money, though that's needed too. Willpower.

Where's the Bull Moose party when you need it?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Score One For RICO - Well, Eight, Actually

Los Angeles, CA

Eight of the nine Vineland Boys accused of racketeering, drug trafficking, such and whatnot, were convicted on the RICO charges. The ninth just got nailed for other things. Like accessory to murder.

Three of them Boys get life in prison. Five others could get life when they're sentenced in January.

Bodies, Bodies, We Got Bodies

Cerritos, South Gate, CA

Three today.

One found dead in the L.A. River down near South Gate. Is it a murder? Suicide? Homeless guy who finally drank himself to death? No details, yet, but it's always fun to speculate. Well, for me, anyway.

And then we have two more down in Cerritos. Homicides. Shot in the chest. No names, yet. And because I love quotes:
"Somebody did this, but unfortunately right now we don't know who or why," Hartshorne said.
You ever see Plan 9 From Outer Space? There's a line in there when the cops find a corpse. "This man's dead! Murdered! And somebody's responsible!"

Must have been working in Cerritos.

It'll Only End In Tears

Los Angeles, CA

Yet another stand-off. Pulled a SWAT team and everything.

Guy pulled a gun, ran into an apartment and holed up in somebody's apartment near 76th and Figueroa.

SWAT finally pumped tear gas in. Flushed him out. I'd hate to be the guy who's apartment that was.

Why do they do it? Is it just holding off the inevitable? Or do they think they'll somehow get away? That some shining opportunity for escape will present itself?

Sure, it's happened before, but I wouldn't stake my freedom on it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

And On The Topic of Death From Above

Riverside, CA

Some things are not designed to fly. Take car batteries, for instance. I'm sure that 30-year-old Shawn Kettlewell was awfully surprised when one came screaming out of the sky and hit him in the head on the 215 freeway.

Kevin Harville, the driver of the SUV from which the battery was launched, was chasing his girlfriend down the freeway in a car to car fight. Seems he tried to cut her off, but she slowed down and he plowed past her across four lanes of traffic, hit the guardrail and flipped into the northbound lanes.

The battery vaulted out from under the hood when he hit the guardrail and went straight through Kettlewell's windshield. Considering the likely speeds of both vehicles I suspect he didn't feel much when it hit. Small consolation to his family, I'm sure.

The San Bernardino DA's office is considering charging Harville with assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder and second-degree murder.

Everybody Comes To L.A. - Even The Death Squads

Los Angeles, CA

Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos was a Salvadoran janitor living in Los Angeles for the last 11 years. He went to work, he came home. He went to church on Sundays.

Oh and there's this little detail about how he was involved with El Salvadors Death Squads and was convicted of murdering a chuch full of sleeping priests.
A sublieutenant with the Atlacatl Battalion during El Salvador's war against the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, a leftist guerrilla group...
In 2003 the ICE formed a group to investigate and get rid of immigrants in the U.S. who had been involved in things like genocides and war crimes. They picked him up last week.

Apparently, murdering half a dozen priests in the dead of night qualifies. Who'da thunk?

He was pardoned in El Salvador but came to the U.S. thinking that it would be safer for him. What I don't understand is why he came to Los Angeles. This is Salvadoran Central. During the war L.A. was flooded with Salvadoran immigrants. One of the reasons the, oh Christ, I hate this word but I can't think of what else to use, notorious gang Mara Salvatrucha was created here.

It was only a matter of time before someone recognized him and blew the whistle. He's currently holed up in a detention center in Lancaster awaiting a deportation trial. Have fun in El Salvador, Gonzalo. I'm sure they're just itchin' to see you down there.

BOLO: Large Cartoon Coyote, May Be Armed With Anvil

Pasadena, CA

Shantie Maraj, 62, of Eagle Rock went to work last Saturday in Pasadena and unfastened the rope on the flagpole so that she could raise the flag.

Unfortunately, she didn't notice the shopping cart that had been hoisted to the top the night before.

She's currently in the hospital in serious condition and the police are looking for the perpetrator.

Was this a prank, or was it planned? I picture shadowy toons laying traps for unwary grocery store clerks. Did anyone think to check the cart for an ACME label? Next thing you know, pianos are gonna come crashing from the sky, parachutes will be packed with bowling balls, elephants will fly.

A word of advice. If you hear "Powerhouse" find cover.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Criminal Tip #57,823: Get A Driver Who Can, You Know, Drive

Indio, CA

So these two guys knock over a Circle K around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Hmm. Eight in the morning. That would be rush hour, right? Lot of cars on the road?

You can see where this is going, can't you?
The men fled the scene in a white Ford F-150 pickup truck, only to collide with another vehicle moments later a block away at Clinton Street and Riverlane Drive, authorities said.
The report talks about "incriminating evidence" found in the car. What is it? Ho-hos? Shriveled, foil wrapped hot dogs? Melted nacho cheese all along the dashboard?

They got one guy, but Deputies are eager to talk to the other one. If you know anything about it, call the Riverside Sheriffs at (760) 863-8990.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Armed, Dangerous And Fuzzy

San Pedro, CA

Back on the 15th, David Carl Franklin was fatally beaten to death in San Pedro.

Two 18-year-old suspects have been identified, Oscar Gomez, who is being held by police, and Mario Lemus, who is currently on the run.

How do you pronounce that? Is it a short e, like lepus? Or is it a long e, like lemur? Either way, he sounds like an adorable, little animal. Something to run over on the highway, skin for a hat and throw back to the vultures. Maybe something tie a string to and wave around as a cat toy. Or throw to the dogs as a midnight snack.

Yeah, I know. I have issues. Tell me something new.

The Power of Two

Los Angeles, CA

The great thing about numbers is that they can so easily be used to create patterns that aren't there. We're wired for organization. We look for these things. this is why people listen to astrologers and conspiracy theorists. The world's a lot more coincidental than we'd like to believe.

Like this.
Says to me people should be doing things by the threes for a little while here. If you can convince your significant other to go along with you, of course.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Nobody Walks In L.A.

All Across The Southland, CA

Los Angeles loves its cars. Unlike some places we have fuck all for public transportation. Our subway serves a minor strip of the city. Our buses are filled with crackheads and three card monte dealers. Half of them don't run on time and the other half don't run at all.

L.A.'s a different city than most. More a sprawl, really. Doesn't share the kind of density of New York or San Francisco. As Jim Thompson puts it in The Grifters, "New York isn't big, it's just got a lot of people in it."

Well, L.A. is big. And it takes a lot to get from place to place.

So we drive. Knew a guy lived in Saugus and commuted to Santa Monica every morning. Two hours each way. I used to have one of those commutes. Lived in Long Beach, worked in Agoura Hills. Hell, I still have an hour each way. And that's the short, non-freeway route. Provided mudslides don't close PCH in the rainy season.

That said, it's not surprising that things happen around our cars. For example, looking at the news this morning:
Wow. A lot of SUV deaths there. Maybe we should ban SUV's? Or, hey, maybe people should learn how to fucking drive their cars. Obviously they can shoot and drive at the same time.

Why Do They Always Stay In Mexico?

Ventura, CA

Rudolpho Negrete has been wanted for the murders of three people since 2004. He fled to Mexico. Today he's been picked up by the Federales and is awaiting extradition.

Now, I can understand heading to Mexico after a murder. It's convenient. It's right there, right across the border. Easy to get to. Easy to get lost in.

If you take a look at L.A.'s Most Wanted List, you'll find a preponderance of Latino men. They're on the run. Where do you think they probably are?

So running to Mexico is a logical choice.

But don't fucking stay there. They're after your ass. They know your name. They have your description. They have an extradition treaty.

Sure, it's a gamble you're maybe going to win. After all, it takes money to find you, to drag your ass into court. Money they'd rather spend preventing fucks like you from committing crimes in the first place.

But every once in a while the odds are going to be with the house. And when you lose, you're going to lose big.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Wind-up Aaaaaand The Pitch

Had lunch a while back with some very cool people and during the conversation someone asked me what the book I'm working on is about.

To say I choked is putting it lightly. Brett's response to me was a very dry, and wholly accurate, "You need to work on your pitch."

The reason I bring this up is that I had the same conversation yesterday. As expected, I choked.

The problem isn't that I couldn't make up some buzz phrase to describe it or what the story is. It's just that the minute I talk about it, it sounds fucking stupid. I have a real problem talking about my writing. What do I say? How do I say it? Am I trying to get the person I'm talking to interested in it? Am I trying to sell them on it? If so, why? If not, why not?

And then there are the conventional questions. What's it about? Is there a theme? What's the genre? All this stuff comes rushing at me, and I say something insightful like, "Ggglhrbrrghghg".

It's all downhill from there.

It's an expansion of a story I had in Spinetingler Magazine's summer issue. It's a crime story, it's a horror story. I like to think of it as "Zombie Noir".

I can write it. I can write about it. But for the life of me, I can't talk about it. God forbid when it comes time to try to sell the thing. If I can't articulate it, clearly if not enthusiastically, how the hell am I supposed to get someone else interested in it? Like, say an agent or a publisher?

How does everyone else go about talking about their books? What makes it possible for you to do that? Do you practice? Do you have a cuecard? What's your secret?

Hallmark's New Line: "Sorry I Threw You In Jail"

Riverside, CA

I've always thought a line of apology cards would be a good idea. "Sorry I shot your dog", "I didn't mean to sleep with you sister", "My apologies for the forced removal of your kidney. Stay in the ice and call 911".

It probably would have helped the Riverside Sheriff's department this week.

Enrique Jimenez Macias was thrown in jail and kept there for 5 days by Riverside Sheriffs in May of 2004, despite having documentation showing that he wasn't the man they were looking for. A judge saw things the same way and ordered the department to pay him $15,000.00 for lost wages and legal fees as well as issue him a formal apology.

It only took 16 months and an additional court order to make it happen.

"Sorry You're Somebody's Prison Bitch. Hope you stop walking funny soon."

Guess I Better Pack My Stuff

Los Angeles, CA

The Alvarado Inn Towner Motel is one of those motels. Rooms by the hour, business at night, frequently visited by the LAPD.

And is now being shut down.

The Rampart area motel has been locked in a long court battle with the City Attorney's Office since 2001 over its practice of hourly room rates. After numerous injunctions against the Motel, which they've all but ignored, the court finally ordered the place closed.

First the City Council votes to force hotels to keep records for 90 days, now this. They're biting into a lucrative night time market of supply and demand here. Now where will all the crack whore and crank dealers ply their trade? Looks like it's back to turning tricks inside construction site porta-potties.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Red Wind Blowing

Los Angeles, CA

Santa Ana winds kicked up yesterday. Kind of wind you feel in your teeth. Suck the moisture right out of you, every molecule of water blown away to points south.

I've yet to see a better description of the Devil Wind, as it's sometimes been called, than Chandler's description of it from his short story "Red Wind".
There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.
If you know L.A. you know that the Santa Anas can really fuck with your mood. Felt it myself, yesterday. Feeling it now, in fact. Little edgy. Little off.

I've always wondered if, like the full moon, the Santa Anas actually make things worse. Running my morning slog through stories of murders, shootings and generally fucked up happenings around the Southland, I'm not seeing anything out of the ordinary, which in and of itself is depressing.

Gang violence is up in the Valley. A biker gets busted for $8K in meth found under the seat of his bike. A woman shoots a home invader with her .38 in Palmdale.

But nothing that grabs you and says that the wind's got people jumpier than normal. Maybe it's because we're jumpy to begin with. We don't notice that extra jolt we're getting. We're all so goddamn caffeinated, medicated, nipped and tucked out here, that we can't see when the shit hits the fan. Because, well, the shit hits the fan every day. Why bother to take a closer look at it and see if maybe this shit has a slightly different texture, maybe a different stink? It's all just shit, right?

It's an ill wind. Always is. Funny thing, this is my favorite weather in this town. When the cold hits at night, it bites, digs under your skin. When the heat hits the morning, and the orange sun wobbles just over the horizon, I feel a little more alive.

How about you, dear readers? What does this Devil Wind have you thinking about?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

They've Got The Perp, But Lost The Victim

Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth William, a convicted rapist, allegedly followed a woman he'd been dancing with into the bathroom of The Good Hood Urban Art Space on Pico around 2am, raped her and ran from the scene. Security guards grabbed him, and he's in custody. There's a bit of a snag, though.

The victim left and they don't know who she is.

So if you happen to have a handle on this unidentified woman, call the LAPD at (877)529-3855.

Monday, October 16, 2006

And The Man In The Back Said Everyone Attack

Fontana, CA

I was having a conversation last night in a bar about why so many people seem enamored of their high school reunions. My take on it is that that was the one time in so many people's lives where they felt they'd actually accomplished something. The time and place where they believed they had reached some sort of pinnacle.

For the record, high school sucked, and the only way I'll ever go back is if I've got a gallon of gasoline and a roadflare. If that's the pinnacle of my life I should just shoot myself now.

Now, if I'd had a riot at my high school, that'd be a different story.

500 students. And it all started with a fight between two of them.
Fontana police Sergeant Doug Wagner says authorities don't know if the fight was gang related or racially motivated.
Back in my day it was neither. But then, we didn't have riots 500 students strong. More's the pity.

Triple Homicide, Hold The Hot Sauce

Koreatown, Los Angeles, CA

I just loves me the K-Town. For some reason, I always expect some of the worst shit in this city to happen down there. Is it just me, or does the whole Koreatown vibe just scream out bad news?

Like this for instance. Three people were shot to death at the Cinyuya Restaurant on Eighth in Koreatown, Jae Woong Cho, 46, one of the owners, a waitress and an unidentified man. The suspect, Tai Zui Chi, 55, is the waitress' ex-boyfriend. Police aren't saying exactly why they think he's involved, but they really want to talk to him.

He is described as about 6 feet tall, 190 pounds, and has black hair in a flat top. He drives a Toyota Sienna minivan with California license plate 5KEF678.

The usual drill. If you know anything about it call the LAPD at (877)529-3855.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Situational Awareness As A Pass/Fail Course

Pomona, CA

A 17-year-old girl in Pomona, while walking home from school, was attacked by a man who tried to pull her into his car. She managed to escape and went to police with the following description:
...a male between 35 and 40, 6 feet tall and thin. He was wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans, and drove an "unknown type black vehicle"...
Okay, throw us a bone, here. Was it a large, black vehicle? A small, black vehicle? New? Old? Shiny? Dull? Truck? Van? Sedan? Did he have hair? Light? Dark?

This is why observational skills need to be taught in school. The least we can do in our public schools is teach kids how to notice shit.

Well, if you happen to see a 6 footer in a black car in Pomona, call the police at (909) 620-2085.

Can't Crack A Case For 28 Years? Send In The Nutballs

Garden Grove, CA

Back in 1978, 34-year-old Patricia Ann Neufeld was beaten to death while baby-sitting in Garden Grove. The case has never been solved. Laurie Campbell and Pam Coronado, two television psychics for the Discovery Channel's show, Sensing Murder, pointed police to convicted serial killer Gerald Parker, the "Bedroom Basher" who raped and murdered several women in the Seventies.

There's only one problem.
According to the newspaper, Investigator Elaine Jordan, who worked with the psychics, said they didn't crack the case. Prior to their involvement, Parker had been questioned three times. Additionally, Neufeld's death didn't completely match his MO.

"Maybe I expected too much," Jordan told the newspaper. "Maybe I thought there would be this huge revelation during our time together. I was waiting for it to happen. And it just didn't."
Well, duh.

Now, I'll be the first one in line with the "I HEART PSI" buttons if somebody can show me compelling evidence of psychic phenomena. Bit of an old obsession (and I really mean obsession) of mine, actually. But the vast majority of these people are fucking crackpots who get off on manipulating other people and exploiting their emotional weaknesses. They're con artists. They just happen to have a paying gig to do it on film.

And I just gave them free publicity. Fuck me.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cuecard Bandit, We Hardly Knew ye

Lake Forest, CA

The Cuecard Bandit has been captured. After a four hour stand-off with Sheriff's Deputies (I think I head somebody mention a SWAT team, but I can't find it), he surrendered peacefully.

Four hours. Why not five? Or three? Hell, I'd settle for two. But it's always four hours, or eight. Sometimes, god forbid, it stretches to 16. It's like these guys realize they've missed their window so they take another hostage, or something. Just once, I'd like to see a stand-off that lasts half an hour.

Oh, Cuecard Bandit, such an ignoble end. Whatever happened to the tried and true hail of gunfire, the witty quips of "You'll never take me alive, copper!", the scenes of remorseful regret over a life long ago corrupted and twisted by society?

I'm sure somebody'll take his place. Just so long as they're not like those crazy fucks who hit North Hollywood a few years back. Banks are no place for automatic weapons fire.

Those Sheriffs - Really On Top of The Fresh Crimes

Rowland Heights, CA

On September 22nd, David Lam's wife, Susan, was found strangled and buried in her backyard. Sheriff's deputies are looking for help in locating him.

Wait. Let me back up a second. That's September 22nd, 2005. Yes, they are asking for assistance from the public in locating a man they haven't seen in over a year, who was last tracked to Singapore.

Why are you telling us this? Tell Interpol. Tell the FBI. If he's back in town, SAY SO. If not, don't bother me. Now, I'm going to be looking for a Vietnamese man, who I have no description for, who might be looking for a good game of Faro. How is this supposed to help anybody?

For what it's worth, if you see this indescribable Vietnamese gentleman, call the Sheriff's department at 323-890-5500.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My Rage Meter Just Redlined

Los Angeles, CA

A few weeks ago I mentioned the shooting death of Cesar Avila and his three-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn outside their Bladwin Hills apartment.

Police picked up the getaway driver driver last week and finally picked up the shooter, 17-year-old Jonathan Durrel Banks, earlier this week. Now, it's bad enough that people died, two innocents caught up in a case of mistaken identity and gangland violence.

But the real horror story is that three-year-old Kaitlyn was intentionally killed.
Police say the gunman shot and wounded Cesar Avila, erroneously believing that he was a member of a rival gang. The gunman then aimed at Kaitlyn and shot her once in the chest.
Five minutes. Five minutes of him alone with the family in a small room. That's all I ask.

The New Point And Laugh Camera

Newport Beach, CA

Paul Charles Dishno, 39, was sentenced to six months for exposing himself to eight young girls, six at Northwood Elementary School in Irvine and two, more creepily, after following them as they were walking along a trail.
The girls, who were taking photos with a digital camera, turned their attention to Dishno when he whistled, then allegedly saw him across the ravine exposing himself and masturbating, Grogan said.

One of the girls took a photo of Dishno that was handed over to police. She later identified him in a photo lineup.
I see a lot of giggling and, "You call that a penis?" jokes.

Six months. Great. He'll be back flapping his todger in time for Spring Break. Let's hope that's all he does.

Wait, There's No Demolitions Merit Badge?

Redondo Beach, CA

Three Boy Scouts, two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old, were arrested Tuesday for blowing up a car. Looks like they put together a homemade pipebomb, which took out a 1968 Chevy, a wall and somebody's garage door.

See, if it had been guys from my troop, they'd have blown their hands off putting the damn thing together. I don't know where the hell Boy Scouts ever got the reputation as being even vaguely competent. Or trustworthy, for that matter. All those little old ladies they're helping across the street? They're pocketing their wallets. We had one guy who ran into walls on a regular basis. And I mean ran. Full on. Concussed himself once. We kept him away from the ammunition after that.

Boy Scouts and high explosives. Like chocolate and peanut butter.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The FBI Is Out Of Ideas

Dana Point, CA

When someone robs a bank it's up to the FBI to come up with a moniker to identify him by. The latest is a man who has been hitting banks in Orange County.

They call him the Enormous Ears Bandit. Apparently, he has, you guessed it, enormous ears.

I'm not sure who I'm more upset with, the FBI for coming up with stupid names, or bank robbers for not having better gimmicks. Like The Cuecard Bandit, who showed cardboard signs to the tellers demanding cash. At least he was trying.

So here's a challenge for all you would be bank robbers. Hit a bank with one of the following and I'll give you a t-shirt that says, "I Knocked Over A Wells Fargo And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt And Ten Thousand Dollars In Small, Unmarked Bills".

Specify your shirt size, as well as a name and address and I'll have it personally hand delivered by a helpful FBI tac squad.

The Gimp Bandit - You know, one of those latex, zippered bondage outfits. Extra points if you do it in stiletto heels and carry a whip. And send photos.

The Giant Pecker Bandit - Dress up like Woody Woodpecker and get caught on tape laughing like a maniac. What did you think I was talking about? You people are sick. This is a family show. Of course, if you can get Ron Jeremy to rob the bank that counts, too.

The Enormous Breast Bandit - I think this one's pretty self explanatory, don't you? Don't forget the photos.

The Donkey Show Bandit - If you can figure out how to pull this one off, I can get you booked in a strip club in Tijuana.

The Juggling Bandit - Rob a bank while juggling three bowling balls, two torches, and a complete dinner set of bone china to the tune of The Saber Dance. Extra points if you wear a jester's outfit with bells or just do it naked.

So go to it ladies and gentlemen. And make sure you pose for the cameras.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Misplaced Vengeance

Los Angeles, CA

Back in 2004 Rocio Santoyo discovered that her estranged husband, Walter had had a child with another woman while they were separated. They had a child together, and he'd had two before they hooked up. She knew about those. She found out about the fourth when she went to the child support office. She was a mite upset.

Her options:

A) Weep silently and rally against an unkind fate.

B) Remove Walter from her life completely, moving on and working toward making her and her son's life better and more fulfilling.

C) Blindfold and stab her 10-year-old son, Soloman, to death in a misplaced act of vengeance, leaving a note in red Sharpie on the bathroom mirror saying, "Walter, I told you so. I hate you. Now you really only have three kids."

Guess which one she opted for?

Well, two years on and she's finally been convicted of 1st Degree Murder, getting a paltry 26 years for slaying her son.
"She killed her child with ruthless efficiency," the judge said, noting the "unimaginable horror" the child must have felt at being attacked by his own mother.
Rocio is 30 now. She'll probably get parole in 10 to 15. Unless she gets more tacked onto her sentence for violations. Or the parole board ignores the overcrowding situation in California's jails and looks instead at the seriousness of her crime. Or maybe we'll all get lucky and she'll get shivved in the exercise yard and die under a basketball hoop. One can hope.

One of the things that bothers me the most about this is the desperate workings of the defense.
Defense attorney Leslie Stearns maintained that the prosecutor's version of the events, while true, did not tell the whole story. Santoyo was a single mother struggling to make ends meet, whose life was suddenly shattered when her dream of having a family vanished, Stearns told jurors at the beginning of the case.
How does that situation, tragic though it is, even begin to excuse the heinousness of this murder?

I get it, she's grasping at straws, looking for anything that might help her client. That's her job, and I respect her for it. I also feel kind of sorry for her. This could not have been easy. It's hard enough to be a defense attorney in this town and keep your soul intact. I have to wonder what this one job cost her.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

One More Time, Leave The Kids Out Of It

Compton, CA

Over this last weekend Compton had three more homicides. Hardly a record, of course, but I think it's noteworthy because one of the victims was an 11-year-old boy, who happened to be in a car with his father, 46-year-old Derrick Andrew Kellum. Both died. Kellum's other son, who was with the pair in the car, was able to run to safety.

It's unclear why Kellum was where he was. But really, that doesn't matter. He could have been affiliated with a gang, he could have been a church leader, he could have been a goddamn accountant. What matters is that some asshole is bringing children into this.

These days there is no such thing as innocence. Maybe there never really was. Maybe all it's ever been is ignorance and naivete. Regardless, eleven is too young to die from a misplaced shot. Or from anything else, for the matter.

Everyone deserves a chance. Let them have theirs.

Out With A Whimper

San Quentin, CA

Robert Jackson Thompson has been on death row since benig convicted of sodomizing and strangling to death 12-year-old Benjamin Brenneman in Anaheim, who came to his door to sell him a newspaper subscription in 1981.
Over the weekend the slow moving wheels of justice took a backseat to twenty years of bad prison food when Thompson, now 60-years-old, died of a heart attack.

Benjamin's mother, Kay Brenneman, is a little upset, saying, "I'm angry and feel like I got robbed because he never got executed."

At what point is vengeance satisfied? Would the execution have been enough for her and her family? Would throwing the switch have been enough? Would torturing him over a weekend with hot pokers and rabid weasels have done it? Somehow I doubt it. Nothing's going to bring back Benjamin. I have to wonder what sorts of things bring closure to the families of victims?

I'm glad Thompson's dead, but I have to think that he got off light.

Narrowing Down The Victims

Los Angeles, CA

Back in July, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department released photos of 54 women considered to be possible victims of serial Killer William Richard Bradford. A number of them were confirmed as alive and ruled out. Thirty more photos of the remaining potential victims have been released. These are people unaccounted for and believed to have lived in the West L.A. area between 1975 and 1984.

"The Person In The Chicken Suit Was Assaulted Twice"

Los Angeles, CA

On Friday, over at L.A. Voice, Mack Reed posted about an animal rights group called, wait for it, The Chickens Of Los Angeles, who are against the Jewish ritual kapparot, wherein a chicken is slaughtered to atone for one's sins. Apparently, they were planning on picketing Temple Ohel Moshe on Pico to protest the practice.

And it's all gone downhill from there. Apparently it's raised quite the shitstorm with both Jewish and animal rights supporters jumping into the fray. Accusations and misinformation are popping up like a crack-whore at a methadone clinic. The absurdity levels are redlining.

A couple choice comments:
The person in the chicken suit was assaulted twice by teenage Jewish boys walking the block to the picket. He was then kicked, hit, spat on, cursed at and threatened with his life by the people partaking in the Kapparot ritual. Even the children hit him and threatened to kill him.
Because everyone takes you more seriously when you're wearing a chicken suit.
The Rabbi called a Jewish woman picketer who goes to that temple a "whore." Then he said "Fuck you!" and gave us the finger. The Rabbis assistant grabbed a picketers video camera and broke part of it then ran down the street. The kids at the high school yelled "Kill more chickens! Go fuck yourself!"
Kill more chickens? You mean, children are bloodthirsty examples of humanity at its worst? The hell you say!

They're chickens, people. Jesus H. Fucking Christ on a pogo stick. CHICKENS. You know, "bok-bok-bok"? Tasty when fried, broiled or bitten in two by a hunchbacked carnie named One-Eyed Jackson? Get a real problem. Like homelessness, or gangbangers setting kids on fire, or the war in Iraq, or bathing regularly.

God, I love this town.