Commentary by Criminal Attorney Sam Spital:
“The UT online edition of the news on December 27, 2012, reported a previous rape suspect was now arrested for assault, rape, attempted murder and false imprisonment of a hotel housekeeper. The 44 year old offender who was released after an arrest for rape in October due to insufficient evidence, was reportedly linked by DNA to both the previous and current vicious crimes.
The defense attorney may be faced with what is often irrefutable DNA evidence establishing guilt, however, that still leaves open the issue regarding the penalty for the crimes. This is a significant area for the experienced lawyer to set forth with compelling evidence the elements of remorse, if any, as well as mitigation.
As a criminal defense attorney, it is my considered opinion that a sentence should depend upon multiple factors and not just the proof of a crime. Here is the opportunity to view the entire panoply of facts, issues and history regarding both the crime and the defendant. For example, the life and social history of the defendant as well as the lack of any prior jail &/or prison sentence are material facts and certainly highly relevant to the disposition of a case.”
COMMENTARY BY SAM SPITAL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:
”On October 26, 2012, the CBS online news reported a 17 year old boy was tried as an adult in the San Diego Superior Court and found guilty of rape, kidnapping and sodomy by force upon two girls who were friends taking a walk in a local park. These horrific and unspeakable crimes were committed in conjunction with a second defendant who faces a separate trial, and no doubt the reason the Judge sealed the verdict pending the outcome of that ongoing trial.
According to the Deputy District Attorney, the two teenagers were smoking marijuana when they saw the two girls, at which point one of the boys held a knife and used threats to force them to a secluded place where they were brutally and repeatedly attacked and subjected to a ‘30- to 40-minute series of sexual assaults that included every imaginable kind of rape.’ The police account reflected the defendant’s admission as well as the following statement: ‘(Expletive) happens… The body is weak when it sees flesh.’
“On September 27, 2012, the UT San Diego News contained an article in which a defendant pled guilty and was sentenced to 16 years in State Prison for an August 2011 kidnapping and rape of a 21 year old woman, who testified in the Preliminary Hearing that he beat her with a flashlight and golf club, then forced her into a car, ordered her to remove her clothes and used the golf club to assault her. In another count filed against the defendant, he pled guilty to breaking the nose of a man and knocking unconscious that man’s son thereby causing bleeding in his brain. Some will argue that 16 years in prison is not enough of a penalty, but they do not have all of the facts to reach that conclusion. This is the challenge when reading a brief summary written in the news. I continue to ask why a journalist does not provide a fair and balanced account so that the public is truly informed by the news. Clearly, there is a limited amount of time and opportunity for comment, however, no one benefits from a story that does not contain enough information on the relevant points; here, it would be helpful to know what the defense contended, the cross-examination it might conduct, and what evidence they might propound if the matter went to trial. That would reduce the speculation that inevitably arises in many readers’ minds as to the nature of the crime, the motivation and intent of the defendant, and the appropriateness of the sentence in an individual case.”
Sam Spital, Criminal Defense Lawyer