Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Verdicts Aren't Always Fair

I've been a Private Investigator for several years now, it's a role in the judiciary system that I take very seriously. My dad used to ask me, "Why would you defend some no good sorry guy that has broke the law."

Great question. Am I always for the underdog? Am I a "fixer"? Am I the kind that always wants to "help people"? To some extent I probably could answer yes to all of those questions. But, I think the most important reason why I am a PROUD private investigator is because if, for some short moment, I allow the worse of defendants' constitutional rights to be violated, then somewhere down the line, mine and yours will be also. That is the best answer I could ever give.

I've sat through hundreds of trials in my years. And, I've always cringed at what I felt are the injustices in verdicts. I saw a man, get 4 years for murder, and a woman get 20 for the same offense. I've seen the worse of juveniles walk with probation and the ones who truly needed salvaged and could be saved were thrown into prison where I know they would become punks.

I have a new case coming up - I can't yet discuss it yet- but I can tell you - I pray for justice - for her. I pray - she is given the best of the deals that our judiciary system and a jury can possibly give.

A few years back, we had a case - her name was Amanda. She was charged with shooting her husband., Mario (name changed) while he slept. She had been beaten, she had been urinated on, she had her stomach hit over and over while she was pregnant. On the outside, folks thought they were the perfect couple. But, behind closed doors - life was far from that.

I thought of the Clara Harris case - and how far different this one was. Clara Harris was a renown dentist who hired a private investigator to locate her husband and his paramour. They were located at a hotel in upscale Clear Lake. Clara arrived on the scene. She was convicted of running over David, her husband, in the parking lot. Clara got 20 years in Texas Deparment of Criminal Justice. I knew Amanda's case was going to be an uphill battle.

Mario accused Amanda of running around on him, he berated her, he told her the baby she was carrying wasn't his - though DNA proved it was.

After the shooting, his parents and people tried to paint him as a Saint. The district attorney originally was buying their story

Amanda had a fantastic lawyer, who, together we located the first ex-wife. Lori screamed in terror when just his name was mentioned. She had been hiding from him for all these years. She related to Amanda's attorney how one day when she and Mario were married, while he had gone to work - she changed the thermostat and forgot to change it back before he got home. The next day, Mario stripped her, tied her to the bed post, turned the air way way down to where she was freezing when he came in. She had urinated and defecated on the floor - he rubbed her face in it to "teach her not to mess up his house." Thirteen years later, she still would not touch a thermostat.

Amanda pled guilty and went to the Judge for punishment. The district attorney had put a "cap" on the amount of years he wanted her to have. Lori's story was repeated during court room testimony for the sake of Amanda, to show the court what type of person Mario really was.

In all my years, I've never heard happen what I'm about to tell you.... the attorneys had not yet finished putting on their case. The Judge asked for a recess. He went into his Chambers, closed the curtains, asked not to be disturbed, got on his knees and prayed - after 45 minutes he returned to the Courtroom - he looked worn out - he had wrestled with his verdict - he later told the attorneys - that when he first got to the courthouse his mind was set on giving Amanda 20 years - but after the emotional and compelling testimony that he had just heard - he knew a leopard couldn't change his spots - Amanda was given 5 years probation!

I couldn't believe it - in one way - but in another - I could! I'd called and written to every praying woman I knew asking them to pray all morning for Amanda and for the Judge.

God granted Amanda a new life. She has almost successfully completed her probation. The parents and family of the husband continue to harass her and give her grief. But, though she has to live each and every day that she took a life, she is grateful that she was given her's back.

Sentences aren't always equal nor fair - but sometimes... the Judges get things right in the end, in my humble opinion.

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