What does consensual statutory rape have to do arson? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
"War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin'!"-Edwin Starr-War
By Dave Iseman
A sad and frightening criminal case started early March 15 in Springfield.
Three children died horrific deaths. Their grandfather was hurt. A home was destroyed. Within hours, authorities accused 26-year-old _____ of knowingly setting 1711 W. Olive St. ablaze.
An important piece of evidence, police say, is that _____ had no soot or smell of smoke on him when investigators talked to him about the fire, yet he claims he tried to save the kids.
And, one more thing: It's not supposed to be important to this case. You decide for yourself: _____ is a sex offender.
- You see, if all is true here, just because he has a sex offender label, they immediately assume he's guilty without any proof.
Looking at the photos of the now-dead children, your mind might immediately go to punishment, maybe even to the death penalty.
Mine did not. Having covered a lot of court cases as a journalist, and edited stories about more, I wanted to know the motive. Why would he do this?
_____' fiancee, the mother of the children, says he's innocent. In more than an hour of TV interviews, she insisted time and again that she saw him trying to save the kids from the burning home they all shared.
When _____ was so quickly arrested and charged -- about a day after the fire -- I figured that the paperwork would finally point out a "why" in this case. There had to be a confession or evidence of some tragic domestic dispute or, with the sex- offender history, maybe worse.
There was nothing like that.
The paperwork talks of "pour patterns" in the house indicating arson, dogs alerting to accelerants and opinions of how _____ looked and smelled hours after the fire -- at the hospital.
Arson, experts acknowledge, is a very difficult charge to prove.
Fire investigators are trained to not to put too much trust in a dog's nose or human perceptions of "pour patterns." Both can be explained other ways, with lab testing.
Surprisingly, the prosecution reports no damning lab tests in this case, which begs important questions: Does this seem strange? Were you surprised at how quickly the charge was filed in this case? Did you already have _____ convicted in your mind when you heard he was a sex offender?
Do you realize the sex offense happened years ago, reportedly when _____ was 17 and his female victim 13? [Like the Doctor in "A Time to Kill", who Kevin Spacey's character tried to impeach. The Doctor's only crime was that he had statutory rape, and HE MARRIED THE "VICTIM"!]
I tried to press the prosecutor to explain more of the reasoning behind the arson charge, other possible evidence, whether more tests are coming.
He said he cannot talk about details other than those that come out in court. That's understandable.
But _____' fiancee is talking, as is at least one of his former bosses, Nikki Wardell. Both saw him after the fire at St. John's Hospital.
They describe him as sooty, smelling of smoke. Wardell said she gave him a Baby Wipe and watched the black come off his hands.
They point out he changed some of his clothes before police talked to him at the hospital.
On video, the fiancee tells of how her now-deceased little boy had only days earlier lit a cover on fire. Wardell says she was told before the fatal fire that the boy had a history of playing with lighters and once lit a mattress afire. [I wonder who abused the boy, the grandfather? The fiancee? It could have been physical abuse, and it could have them that abused the boy, BUT IT THE BOY THAT MAY HAVE STARTED THE FIRE!]
They both talk of a young man with a mistake in his past who doted over these three kids and planned to adopt them. They talk of a hard worker who seemed to be turning his life around.
Above all, they presume innocence. And that begs the most important question of all in this case: If you were a juror, could you do the same? [Yes, as in WHERE'S THE HARD FUCKING EVIDENCE?!!! Konservatives would like to go back to the days of the Nazi People's Court, where the Chief Judge simply harangs the shit out of you before he imposes sentence. Sounds like a Star Chamber or a Court of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland to me.]
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin
Saturday Night - It's alright.
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