Friday, November 2, 2012

Belinda Temple, Julie Keown, Kari Baker, And Other Cases--And Another Conversation On Peterson

I'm going to take a break from blogging about the Peterson case for the season----this is the time of year when everyone connected or personally involved deserves a little privacy.

However, I'm becoming interested in comparing the Peterson case with other domestic violence murder cases, of which there are far too many.

In particular, I'm reading about four other cases.

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One is the California case of Susan Polk, accused of knifing her husband Felix to death. The book is called "Seduced by Madness" by Carol Pogash, and it's fascinating. I feel like I need more information to really have an opinion on what happened.

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Then, there's the case of Julie Keown. Her husband James, a radio talk show host, was convicted of murdering her in a most horrible way.

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Anyone who thinks Scott Peterson is a "pathological liar" because he didn't reveal his location on cell phone calls (open radio) while receiving death threats, really ought to read Lara Bricker's Lie After Lie to see what a pathological liar really looks like.

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Then, there's the story of beautiful Belinda Temple. Shattered: The True Story of a Mother's Love, a Husband's Betrayal, and a Cold-Blooded Texas Murder by Kathryn Casey, is heartbreaking---and infuriating. Belinda Temple was eight months pregnant when she was murdered.

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There are many similarities between the Temple case and the Peterson case---and many dramatic differences. I've been making notes and will post about them in detail, in the new year. After reading the book, I don't have much doubt that David Temple, hometown football hero of Katy, Texas, killed his wife. However, I'm nowhere near convinced Scott Peterson killed his wife. These are two very different stories.

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The story of Matt and Kari Baker, the latest I've read, also by Kathryn Casey, is profoundly disturbing. Both of these young people were Baylor students, and I went to Baylor and lived in Waco for six years, so the story feels personal in a way. Kari Baker sounds like someone I would have liked an awful lot to know. And her husband, a minister, got a complete pass from law enforcement---despite the fact that, had they dug even a little bit, police would have found extremely troubled relationships and bizarre behavior in his past.

In fact, this last story almost seems like an opposite story to the Peterson case.

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But that's all I want to say right now about these cases.

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On another topic----

Here's a conversation that recently started up about the Peterson case. I've reprinted here some of the original poster's thoughts on it.

Sydney Carton

According to all the best medical evidence (and Cyril Wecht and Henry Lee have stated they incline to the same opinion). Conner is a full time naturally born infant. Kpb, the often repeated assumption which you cite is completely fallacious.Conner was alive, was born, long, long, after his father returned from fishing. There is evidence from more than one witness that the wife was seen alive long after Scott left for fishing....

......He built the furniture and painted baby Conner's future nursery himself,and there were no less than thirty-nine character witnesses who testified for him during the death penalty phase. So far as motive was concerned,Laci was slated to shortly inherit a two hundred thousand dollar plus legacy and Scott knew it.That was lost by her death.

Hardly any of this was covered in the press. Garagos made the mistake of a lifetime in not putting these people on as part of his direct case. As it was the jury got a twenty-four barrage of damning outside commentary from the likes of Wendy, Nancy and Amber's attorney,Gloria Allred. Gloria also signed on Scott's estranged half-sister and seven of the jurors for a total of three books in which she held an hefty financial interest. Despite this the judge refused to either sequester the jury or put a gag on Allred. Certainly, in itself, grounds for reversal in a case where most of the purported key proofs are either murky or absolutely non-existent.

To make this worse a state of war broke out between the blue collars and the original foreman.

(--I'm not sure if I have mentioned this on the blog or elsewhere, but I think the economic status of the jurors and the perception of the Petersons as being wealthy took a toll on his case. It seems pretty clear to me that Mr. Peterson, being a small business owner, has pretty much earned everything he has, or had. But as the income gap grows, people are struggling---and resentful. A lot of that resentment is righteous, but in the Peterson case, I think it helped distort the facts. Just a few thoughts. -cb)

The latter (Juror 5, Jackson) was probably a good a juror as any innocent defendant could ever hope to find. He held degrees in both law and medicine from respected universities and he was extremely troubled by how the prosecution was twisting the logical inference deducible from the exhibits. In the end he asked to be excused to avoid possible violent physical attack. And the judge let him go and kept the rednecks who were causing all the trouble.

He was replaced by a fluffy bunny and the jury brought in a guilty in less than six further hours though the law plainly states that the jury is required to review from the beginning of the evidence once its constitution is changed.

As a matter of fact there were no less than three acquittal minded jurors who got bumped by the judge all on complaint of the same guy; but Lobo was allowed to stay on all through the mayhem which he was directly inciting!

Needless to say he was,apparently, to the first to sign on with Aldred and played a big part in rallying his mates to the Amber cause.If the Court of Appeals let's this stuff stand,kiss the jury system, as we know it ,goodbye in California.

Ms. Marlene Newell ..... is calm, patient,consistently improving her presentation, and, unlike the people at the MacDonald blog, she is courteous, non-abusive and encourages critical dialogue.

I lack the scientific expertise to appraise the arguments that the bodies would not have drifted from the area of the alleged drowning to the spot at which they were found, that Laci's state of decomposition is inconsistent with a pre-Christmas murder and that Connor's body was deliberately placed where it was found, however none of us should have any difficulty with the evidence (which so struck the first jury foreman) that Conner was physically born (five days to weeks) after his purported drownig and then, probably, strangled with his umbilical cord.

And,most obviously, there are those Laci sightings, by witnesses who accurately described far in advance the clothes in which she was eventually found.

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Ms. Carter gives some background, and it seems pretty clear she's observed and analyzed an awful lot of criminal cases with an eye toward whether the trial and investigation was a just and proper one:

When I was a student at Columbia I earned my keep by taking Court surveys for Lou Schwartz, who later got in some major reform legislation due to proof of misdeeds which we kids uncovered in the juvenile justice system.

In my spare hours (I got paid by the material produced within a given period) I attended nearly every major trial then being held in Queens,Brooklyn or Federal court. I got to be well known among the locals as I only stayed through for cases where I thought the defendants were innocent but likely to be convicted. Actually I didn't have to worry; every one of those cases ended in acquittal or a hung jury. By the time this occurred about a dozen consecutive times, I became an absolute mascot. Regulars were noting that if I didn't walk out,it was a sure indication that the defendants would soon be walking.

Unfortunately,I stayed one time too long. The last one an obviously innocent woman (who must remain forever anonymous as she may still live) was being tried for her husband's murder. She lost. The Court of Appeals split 3-2 against her. Two saw it as I saw it. Haven't sat in on a homicide case since.

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On the Injustice Anywhere forum, LSmith posted a note from Amber to Scott, by way of explaining why Peterson had her address.

She asked him to do it in the note that she sent with the book. She mailed the book and the note to him on Feburary 16th, 2003. They were both going to read the book at the same time over the next 40 days...she wanted him to make notes after every chapter - and then she wanted him to mail her the book back - and then she said she would call him. The note is in People's Exhibit 293.

Here's the link to the pdf of the note: Click here, source PWC-SII.com

It's hard for me to understand when people don't have a problem with Amber Frey testifying, while she had a book deal contingent upon conviction, a fact which was not disclosed to the jury. It's really, really, really hard for me to get where that's just OK with people. I'm pretty sure I brought that up on that forum, but I don't think there was a response.

I don't think there was any response to LSmith's post of that note, either. It's a little weird: saying something that (to me) seems important, and then there's just, like.....nothing.

I think Laci might have liked this.

Her mother does tell, after all, that she loved life forms great and small.

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Also posted at Exiled In Hollywood (Actually, I posted it there first by mistake, thinking I was posting it here.)