You never know when you might need to write a Victim Impact Statement. I wish this on no one. But if you do, here’s what I learned while preparing my statement for the Joseph DeAngelo sentencing hearing. I hope you find this helpful.
For some darn reason, Minnie Mouse decided to enter my body and speak during this podcast. It’s on speed and I can’t change it. So you can either save time and listen to me talk even faster (as if that was possible), or use your device to slow down the pace.
If you look at how the legal system works, Victim Impact Statements play an important role. They are intended to help the judge to understand three things about the victim, relative to the crime: the physical, emotional, and financial effects of the crime. From there, the judge may use that information to determine sentencing and financial restitution. We address our remarks to him, not the defendant.
This nuance, not being able to address DeAngelo, has made several of his victims really angry.
The reality is, while we won’t be censored, we do need to follow the rules of the court. Rage, sadly, is not part of the process. It’s interesting that it isn’t. If I think about it, it’s a by-product of the men who shaped our legal system. Feelings are eschewed – well, they are in court. Instead, feelings are shifted to punishment and that punishment has become more and more severe over the years.
Yes, I know old punishments included the stockade, physical abuse and more, but let’s focus on the our times where incarceration and the death penalty are where we are likely to see our rage turned into action. Maybe if we could get more of our feelings out directly, at the convict at sentencing, we might all feel a bit better. At least, it would allow convicts who deeply regret their mistakes to listen to the rage and understand the consequences of the actions on those they hurt.
But no, instead we are to be civilized, address the judge and mind our manners.
I give absolutely no fucks about DeAngelo.
He got away with it as far as I’m concerned. Justice isn’t possible in this case. How could we ever punish him for his crimes in a method commensurate with what he’s done. The death penalty would not have been enough. He will likely die at his own hands because he seems hell bent on staying in control. But that’s what it is.
The good news is there’s opportunity to change things with defendants who do regret their behavior and are seeking rehabilitation or just opportunity. That’s where your Victim Impact Statement can truly make a difference. It allows you to examine your humanity. Your resilience. Your commitment to making the world a kinder, gentler place.
This is a summary of my March 5, 2020 podcast, DeAngelo Wants to Plea. You can listen to the podcast here or search Lawyer’s Daughter on Spotify, TuneIn, Apple Pods, Google Play Music and PodBean. As always, I appreciate your ratings, reviews and sharing with your family and friends.
On Tuesday, March 4, when I was preparing to do my first talk in Santa Cruz around four o’clock, I saw a notification come through on my phone from Reddit that said JJD is going to plea. And I stopped breathing. I held my breath as I just stared at it. Folks ask, how did it feel? Well, it felt like all the feelings.
I think physiologically, my body flooded with adrenaline. I felt cold and hot. I felt completely confused. It was almost like I got punched. I was really mad that it happened at that moment because I was already working up confidence to do my live talk for the first time; I was putting a lot of energy into preparing. As soon I calmed myself I bit, I immediately started investigating.
Hidden in a footnote, DeAngelo is willing to plea.
I started looking and found out it was something that Paige St. John had found in a footnote on a motion that was filed by the defense. Buried in the Motion to Dismiss, the defense slipped it into a footnote. This motion is looking to six-furcate (my word because bifurcate isn’t applicable here), the cases by jurisdiction. When the prosecution decided to prosecute everything in Sacramento, I started calling it the big gulp.
The prosecution did this in April of 2019 if I have my facts right. There are a couple of reasons why this big gulp strategy is important. First, it makes the prosecution big. As you can imagine, we’re going into a trial that’s got all this stuff happening from all these jurisdictions. So that’s a big deal. And second, it makes it expensive. Prosecutors from the different jurisdictions must come to Sacramento. It could be argued it reduces costs by requiring only one jury, one judge, etc. I’m not a bean counter – either way, we are spending money. This request from the defense would basically disassemble the approach.
Meanwhile, the defense has also asked for money from the different jurisdictions. Now, take a minute and realize what we’ve done here. In America, we believe in law and order. We believe in justice. And our tax dollars are used to support that legal system. And ironically enough, our tax dollars are paying for D’Angelo’s defense. That is how we fund the public defender’s office. It comes from the Sacramento County budget.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to ask for money and or other resources from the different jurisdictions, because that really should be a shared financial responsibility when it comes to defending D’Angelo. That shouldn’t that burden shouldn’t fall wholly on Sacramento County.
The question I have is why did they wait till now? The prosecution made this clear that this is how we were proceeding months ago. It seems odd. I feel like this defense team just woke up since the January hearing. The judge said, no, we’re not getting a continuance until January 2021. No, we’re not going to sit around and wait for you to go through all that discovery you’ve had forever. Let’s get it together here. Let’s prioritize. (Okay, he didn’t say those last two things – I’m just saying that on his behalf.)
The idea is we’ve got to move forward. That’s the point. And I wish I could have been in court the cheering when he said that – I was home sick with Norovirus. He set the date for May 12th, and that’s just about eight weeks out. And just like that, things finally started to happen.
Anxiety is increasing among those who’ll have to testify.
They knew it conceptually, but this made it very real. This is especially true among the people who are being asked to testify, relative to the kidnapping charges. Those are the rape charges and not the murder charges. In the rape charges, where a person was moved or there was some sort of act that was considered kidnapping, those became charges that could still be applied and weren’t affected by the statute of limitations. And they also helped with special circumstances, which are required for the death penalty request.
As you can imagine, those folks who are scheduled to testify are starting to get anxious. And that’s hard. I guess we’re unique because as victims, we became a squad.
Not everybody has joined us. Some folks have remained anonymous and I’m sorry, they haven’t. They’re really missing one of the most healing parts of this whole thing. For those of us who do get together, we’re working hard to support one another.
We’ve discovered, now there are two groups of victims.
First there are those that have cases that cannot be tried. All of the rapes hit the statute of limitations. With the exception of the cases with new kidnapping charges, the rapes victims are not part of the active group. The second groups are the victims who have charges that can be applied. This is suddenly an odd shift to the murders from Southern California.
If you think about it, at least I grew up thinking the murder first was a murder in a small town. When I heard about the other murders in Southern California, I considered myself part of that group. Absolutely. As those as we were all connected through DNA. When our murders suddenly connected to the rapes in Sacramento (and beyond), I instantly identified with the people in Sacramento.
These are my people. I’ve spent so much time, so much of my life has been spent in Sacramento – gramma lived here, I went to UC Davis and Sac State. It’s always felt like a second home to me. When we came together, we were all one. But now there’s a slightly different dynamic going on.
And I don’t think it’s particularly playing out in terms of our relationships.
But some of us, including me, feel like we are representing those that don’t get to have a voice in this right now; those that don’t have active charges. These are the things nobody talks about. But it really is interesting how the legal system has an impact even on relationships, even on your ability to be a victim and how that works. And that’s absolutely in play.
Let’s go back to DeAngelo being willing to plea.
Why was that put in writing? Because the minute you write down that someone is willing to plea you taint the prospective jury pool because you’ve essentially said your client’s willing to plead guilty. We don’t have any information on what he’s willing to plead guilty to, but I sense the defense isn’t focused on the what. How do we possibly move forward at this point? I mean, this is really screwed up if you think about it.
I wonder about legal malpractice. I cannot think of a case, and I’d love folks to let me know if they have any examples of where that kind of information was leaked publicly. I’m really pissed about how this is being handled.
This is classic D’Angelo: controlling the narrative.
I am so tired of this man who lived his full 72 years out in the wild doing all these awful things, but also having his nice little middle age, and early senior years, living undetected without any constraints, without any rules – living in Citrus Heights, doing his thing, fishing, riding his motorcycle, being a jerk.
He’s been out there and now he gets to control the narrative when it comes to how we’re going to find him guilty. I’m hot about this. I don’t want any part of this. At a minimum, I feel like a plea is too soon. At a minimum, we should have this prelim that’s coming up in May. And here’s why: there are still people who aren’t sure he’s the guy.
Innocent until proven guilty.
This is truly how it’s supposed to work. It’s the responsibility of the prosecution to prove that this man is guilty. Maybe we have the wrong guy. I don’t think that’s possible because SCIENCE (DNA), but I’m going to give nonbelievers the benefit of the doubt. Then let’s go ahead and move into the prelim. Another very big reason why a prelim is important: DeAngelo didn’t just hurt humans and families, but he terrorized whole communities. I feel it’s his civic responsibility to sit in a courtroom for at least eight to 12 weeks before copping a plea.
He needs to face his accusers and listen to all the evidence that supports holding him over to trial. That is the point of the prelim: to show there is enough evidence to bind him over to trial. And after we all hear that; after we hear the evidence – I know I know there’s evidence beyond DNA – then he can make a plea. And that can work through the plea process.
But let’s go ahead and move with this prelim. I think it’s owed to far more than just the victims. It is owed to all of us who lived in fear. I lived in fear for decades. I didn’t even know there was a serial killer that I was afraid of for the first 20 years. I thought there was just a crazy person who hated my dad and Charlene. Around 2000, I find out.
That coincided to exactly to when I had Katie. Suddenly I felt more vulnerable than I’ve ever felt in my life because now there was a bad guy out there and I didn’t have any idea what he might do next. Based on his behavior in Sacramento, I knew he’d revisit the crimes by calling people that he had hurt before.
In our case, he didn’t have my dad and Charlene to call. He only had his kids. I did feel vulnerable and I did feel afraid. I did wacky things like bells on doors and having a bat by my bed. So many of us did things to protect ourselves. That’s why it’s really important to me that he have to sit in court for at least the prelim.
What will he tell us if he does negotiate a plea?
I have had my expectations set that he is not inclined to share information with us. He is not inclined in any way to help us feel better about what’s happened. He’s not inclined in any way to make this any easier on anybody but himself. If we move forward with a plea without him having to ever walk into a real courtroom, he wins.
Once again, he’s controlling the narrative and he’s controlling the outcome. And I’m so over that. So one of the things that. So where we are. So one of the things that’s happened that came out the news in the last two days, I think is that it is true that I believe it’s only the people that have charges pending, got letters from the defense.
When it all comes down to it, the elected District Attorneys are the deciders. So maybe this really is up to you, the constituents. The DA’s represent you. Let them know what you want in this case.
Many of us have waited so long for this show to get started. Thanks to DNA, I never worried we’d get the wrong guy – he left his mark everywhere. But even the biggest cynic in the room – yeah, me – never thought things would take this long just to generate momentum.
The first surprise: getting a date for the preliminary trial to start.
I have to say, the survivors have much love for the judge who basically said, put a fork in it, I’m done. Let’s get things moving. That was in January. I know the public defender’s office wanted a lot more time, but it’s coming up on two years and honestly, there are very few “hooks” for a defense. Maybe none really except how the GED Match site was used to find a suspect, but after that, there’s very little to defend.
We’ve had the same, consistent suspect since the DNA was connected across the crimes in the early 2000s. Seriously: same guy. If you accept the DNA matches connecting all the crimes, the only thing you can fight is the matching process.
And that brings us to February development number one:
I did not see this coming; especially now. Again, we’ve all been aboard this prosecution boat for 22 months, how did they not know they would need more DNA before this moment in time. I don’t want to piss off the prosecution, but c’mon, how could this not have been on someone’s to do list before February of 2020? I’ve heard they ran out and need more for testing. I don’t know what’s true, but I do know we could have expected a fight (see not much to defend above). The defense is almost obliged to defend this request lest they be accused of malpractice. Apparently, these motions will be heard at the hearing on March 12th. Stay tuned.
This seems fair. They share an inordinate amount of the burden and it wasn’t their decision to jam a giant pile of crimes into a single trial. Sacramento taxpayers shouldn’t have to shoulder this whole burden. They should be getting support from other public defenders in the other jurisdictions.
Where I’m stuck is why is this just coming up now. I think we heard it first at the hearing in January (I wasn’t there so I don’t have first-hand knowledge, but I think it was brought up). This should have been an issue the minute the prosecution strategy was to lump everything together in 2018. My gut says this is a window into what’s happening at the public defender’s office and it doesn’t show well. Prioritizing what-matters-most is a life skill most of us have mastered (or at least understand). How could this issue languish until now?
And a snarky aside: if you crime so hard you trigger charges that can still stand 40 years later in six jurisdictions, you should not be entitled to a red carpet defense. I mean, I can point to legions of folks in prison right now who are jailed because they didn’t get a good defense. Why should this guy get anything better? This guy we have on DNA.
Finally, development number three:
Anxiety is starting to build among the survivors.
This was going to happen. It was inevitable. I’m feeling it every day and I don’t have to testify. I’m anxious for my brother and my (survivor) friends who really aren’t interested in going back to that ugly place. Nobody wants to be re-victimized. I don’t know anyone that wants to sit across from him in a courtroom and look at him. But it’s a necessary evil. To manage my anxiety, I focus on the process. I want this prelim to happen and I want it to be uncomfortable – for him.
He needs to be uncomfortable as he sits there on his non-existent ass, hour after hour, as the world talks about him and his repugnant behavior.
He needs to be uncomfortable as he listens to the witnesses, one by one, that will include the women and men whose lives he interrupted and changed because he didn’t want to get help.
He needs to be uncomfortable when he must shut-up and listen as people describe the fear, violence and terror he delivered on every victim and community.
I know he’s a psychopath, but let’s all pray this won’t make him happy. Let’s pray it makes him damn miserable as his daughters hear every ugly detail. I regret they must go through this, but if it brings him misery, I’m all in.
I expect more hijinks before we get started in May. I’m going to pick-up the podcast in March and start recording again. I plan to attend court and do a daily update. Stay tuned for details.
It’s not too late to get tickets!
Folks in Santa Cruz, Sacramento and Ventura, please come meet me live in March. It’s free and I look forward to seeing you! Get free tickets here.
I was roasted on Reddit* the other day – totally unexpected – and it seems like things got weird when someone accused me of posting to promote my coaching business. Of course, my website has my coaching business on it, but that wasn’t why I was there. I was just participating in the discussion like everyone else, and then suddenly I was defending myself. It’s the first time that’s happened in two years since I went public.
Let’s start at the top: the prosecution and defense of DeAngelo.
There’s no doubt there’s a Golden State Killer economy. Holy smokes; it starts with the $20M price tag that prompted AB 141 to pay for jurisdictional expenses “incurred in connection with the prosecution and defense of Joseph DeAngelo.” There are a lot of people getting paid to try and defend this case. There are lawyers and researchers, scientists and testing facilities, computer experts and investigators and legions more who are working for both sides. We are nothing if not job security as this case is being prepped for the prelim. Also, don’t forget travel and housing expenses as teams from around the state come in and out of Sacramento to move things froward. We can debate if this level of expense is necessary, (and goodness knows I will in an upcoming blog), but let’s just accept this at face value. If we ever get to trial, chances are, this cost will likely increase.
Then there’s the content value of the case itself.
News, movies, documentaries, books, podcasts, blogs – some of these are highly monetized and some make no money at all. We all know when HBO or Michelle McNamara are telling the story, the intention is to make money. Not the only intention, but let’s accept one chooses that approach because there’s money to be made. Maybe that’s a better way to say it. I’m not casting blame here, merely noting there’s an economy in play and we all participate in it. In this category, I believe these folks truly care about the subject matter and the victims. I’ve worked with some of these folks and I’ve found them to be credible.
But we also have the exploiters. The folks whose sole motivation is money. They aren’t interested in the truth and have no interest in the victims, they are only interested in selling their product. I encourage everyone to keep their eye out for these folks; they are fairly transparent and tend to have a pattern to their behavior like focusing on click-bait, lying and repetition of same themes.
And then there are the victims; have they made money? Do they make money?
The honest answer is no, with a few exceptions. For the most part, any of us who are making money off the crime have been remarkably transparent. Jane Sandler-Carson wrote a book (not an affiliate link). That’s legit. She lived the experience; she did the work to write the book and she lives her truth. To the best of my knowledge, no one has been paid for any television appearances. There’s one activity where some folks got an unexpected honorarium, but I can’t disclose it and when I finally can, it won’t surprise you. And it wasn’t much.
Victims aren’t making bank on this. In fact, generally we are all financially poorer because of DeAngelo’s crimes and arrest. Of the victims I know, we are out-of-pocket on therapy, time away from work for hearings and other legal proceedings. Some of us travel to Sac to participate in these activities and have hotel bills. If there’s one thing the “true crime” industry has done that’s a disservice to victims, it’s the implication that everyone is making money.
We simply aren’t.
It’s maybe the saddest part of the Golden State Killer economy. Yes, there are some Victim Assistance programs but they vary by jurisdiction and they are publicly funded so there aren’t deep pockets. Honestly, many of us are doing okay and feel like those funds should be used by people with greater need.
So back to Reddit and the great Jen Carole takedown.
Let’s get real. I don’t make money on my blog. You can do a quick check and see there’s no advertising. In fact, when I tried some affiliate ads, I got no clicks (and I was highly selective). Why? Because that’s not what my blog is about. Yep, it’s just me, the website (I pay for) and my computer.
It is the same for my podcast. Honestly, the reason I stopped doing it is I had to work and didn’t have time to dedicate to doing it well. I would very much like to sell my podcast and get paid to do it so I can afford to attend the preliminary trial in May. I am transparently sharing that with you. I have no idea if I can sell it. My coaching business is how I figured I could earn a living while attending court because I can coach in off-hours. My LawyersDaughter.com audience is not my coaching target. That’s why I have two URLs (that I pay for): one for my business and one for this journey.
I don’t intend to sound defensive. I just reread this blog and I still might. That’s truly not my point. My point is, if DeAngelo died tomorrow, this little economy is a house of cards. It all falls down with a few exceptions. I think the highly developed content will have a longer lifespan, but most of what’s been created around this [expletive deleted] criminal will fall by the wayside. As it should. And if you don’t believe me, just look at Casey Anthony and Scott Peterson, both who are realizing they are beyond irrelevant. So how do they goose the system to try and make money? They exploit it. Sickening.
On behalf of the victims, we appreciate your goodwill. We have no intention of exploiting it. We will take the opportunity to support ourselves if it makes sense. If you feel we have crossed a line, please speak to us directly. Otherwise know, you’ve bet on the right people in this hot mess.
And it’s appreciated.
*This did not happen in the EARONS sub-Reddit. I traveled outside our group and I will never do that again! The EARONS community has been amazing and honestly, along with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. and those of you that read this blog, have been so supportive. It’s the reason I have the courage to do these speaking engagements.
March 2020 – Santa Cruz, Sacramento and Ventura
I’m coming to town in March. Absolutely free. Get a ticket by clicking on the graphic!
It’s fall and we have a new house in Sacramento! I won’t be living there full time but at least I can come up and hang-out now – for at least as long as the kiddo can handle me. It’s just a bus ride away from court so I’m ready baby. Bring it on!
Ever since the last hearing in August, I’ve been thinking a lot about the health and well-being of DeAngelo. He has lost considerable weight. Enough, in my humble opinion, to make me wonder if he’s getting enough nutrition to stay coherent. I have no idea if he’s eating and what he’s eating. I realize he has very little to live for, but at a minimum there are three daughters who deserve to work through this with him. And at least one grandchild. His legacy will haunt them for the rest of their lives; he should at least make time for them. To my knowledge, this hasn’t happened. But if it has, good. They deserve answers.
The DOJ said, “that two primary causes for jail suicide exist: (1) jail environments are conducive to suicidal behavior and (2) the inmate is facing a crisis situation. From the inmate’s perspective, certain features of the jail environment enhance suicidal behavior: fear of the unknown, distrust of an authoritarian environment, perceived lack of control over the future, isolation from family and significant others, shame of incarceration, and perceived dehumanizing aspects of incarceration.” read more
Whose responsibility is his health and well-being?
It’s interesting, I’ve been asking this question of lots of people, but I never get the same answer. Some say it’s the jail. Some say it’s a medical professional. Some have pointed to the District Attorney (in this case, Sacramento’s since he’s lodged in their county jail). Others have said it’s his attorneys’ job. Here’s the code on imprisonment, it goes on forever, but I can’t find the part where someone actually owns responsibility. It seems as though it’s up to someone, at some point, to decide he needs medical help. My issue is, without clear definition, this seems woefully ambiguous. The easiest way to ask the question (especially in a post-Epstein world), who will be held accountable if he dies or suffers mental decline? Seems like we should have a name.
Is it ethical to let him starve or choose to starve himself?
I have been searching for an ethicist with whom I could discuss this topic, but I’ve had no luck. In fact, in doing a quick survey of the literature I could find online, this issue hasn’t even been academically tackled in a long time. Most articles are from the last century or early 2000s. I feel like maybe we are all in denial about this. (Author Al Tompkins has written a good article about suicide in jails – versus prisons – in August of 2019. Interesting read.)
So without outside help, you get to think about this with me: he has not been convicted. He’s a suspect and while we (The People) are detaining him based on good evidence, he’s still – theoretically – innocent and entrusted to our care as an un-convicted suspect. Do we owe him more because of this? Do we have a duty to keep him from hurting himself, or more importantly, to keep him cognitively sound until he has a trial? What if he was allowed to starve, stop getting nutrition and then claim he’s mentally unsound for trial? Who worries about that besides me?
If he dies without conviction, what would that mean?
For me, it’s easy. The minute my District Attorney told me it was a 100% DNA match to what was found in Charlene, I knew we had the right guy. I don’t need a trial or all the other claptrap. He’s guilty in my mind and I’m good. But for many, they want to see him convicted. I’ve had some survivors tell me they wish they’d simply prosecute Ventura – because it’s pretty open and shut – so at least he’s been found guilty of that crime. It’s absolutely possible that he won’t make it long enough to stand trial for all the crimes for which he’s charged. I bet there are odds somewhere. Many might feel cheated if he dies without a conviction.
For others, they want a chance to confront him. They have waited a lifetime to have their moment in court. It’s bad enough most of the rape victims won’t get to face him, but several will that have the kidnapping charge as part of their crime. While they struggle to deal with the idea of testifying, there is some comfort in knowing they got to face him in court. It would be awful to cheat them of this.
For a long time, confronting him wasn’t even on my radar. But over the months, I’ve changed. Now I do want to see him sit at the defense table and face his accusers. I won’t be an accuser, I won’t be testifying, but I can vicariously experience that confrontation. All I know is right now, it’s very unsatisfying not to be able to speak to him. It’s one of our most human traits and yet, it’s simply not allowed. I suppose I should consider that a gift. I’m pretty sure nothing decent would come out of my mouth.
Sacramento County, please don’t mess this up.
I’ll continue to ask questions and seek to understand. I hope there is someone in Sacramento County who is taking responsibility for DeAngelo’s physical and mental health. At this point, his work here is not done. He might think taking the easy way out is his best option, but no. He still has work to do. He needs to sit with himself as he wastes in jail. He needs to have the awareness that we know him now and live with the consequences.
He has a duty to his family. He has a duty to his victims. He has a duty to everyone who lived in fear because of his horrendous behavior.
I spent the day with the HBO folks yesterday. They are really great people and I was impressed with their thoughtfulness in the questions they asked and the insight they seem to have about the crimes and the people involved. I finally had to sign an agreement to keep my yap shut, so I can’t say more about it until they are ready to release. Let’s just say, I have a good feeling about this.
We knew today was going to be nothing. We were warned it would be nothing. I’ll be damned if the whole thing wasn’t done “in the blink of an eye” according to my mom, who was my guest this time. I think Melanie clocked it at one minute. But I think I can slow it down a bit to at least provide the color commentary.
Starting out on the right foot: the lawyers for the prosecution actually took a moment and spoke to us today.
For me, this was huge. It was the Sacramento and Tulare County folks, and they had us come in a little early and did something we truly appreciated. They explained a little about what’s going on behind the scenes and set our expectations for what’s coming next. Some of it was confidential (you’d be proud of me, I checked), but what I can share is that they are about two-thirds of the way through discovery; they need to provide the last batch to the defense and they are working to do that in an orderly manner so it keeps things moving.
We won’t meet again until January 22, but it sounds like things will begin to move forward in the new year. I’m not talking about a trial, in California we have something called a preliminary hearing that allows the judge to determine if there’s enough evidence to have a trial. I think I’m the only survivor to have already been through one of these in Ventura in 1982. For those of you that know, that was the Joe Alsip hearing. While I don’t have information on a preliminary hearing, we all know that’s coming at some point – we’re hoping it’s soon. At a minimum, it seems the attorneys realized what happened last time was not cool and a little expectation setting can go a long way.
A great question, an even better answer.
One of the survivors asked if, like in the Jeffrey Epstein case, was it possible that IF there was some sort of deal, would they need to ask us about it first. It was a great question and it got the attention of the lawyers in the room. They said, first, California law prohibits that kind of behavior – negotiating a plea agreement without involving the victims – and in no way was that even on the table. I don’t know if they realized it, but they all had the most satisfying look of confidence on their faces.
Who’s running the show here? Where’s “our” bailiff?!
The courtroom was significantly different (again) this time. The practice of letting us come in early was restored; we got to sit where we wanted. That was great. The lawyers from both sides came in and immediately starting talking with one another. The media snaked their way to the front right side of the room (we always see that angle of DeAngelo on TV as a result), and then the public was allowed to come in to take the few, remaining seats. The hub-bub of conversation and energy was high. All of us were catching up with one another. Finally a bailiff asked us to settle down and we were like an 8th grade class that heard the teacher, but really just kept talking at a lower volume. I need to be clear that “us” was every darn person in the room, not just those in the gallery. It was kinda cool but not particularly court-like.
We waited to hear the smack of a gavel or the commanding voice of our usual bailiff (who was missed) telling us to come to order, that court was in session. But none of that happened! Instead, suddenly DeAngelo emerged from the hallway door and entered the cage. He looked emaciated. Let slow down here on this point, because the TV coverage isn’t really showing what we could see. He is thin. Extremely thin. Maybe 100 pounds all in at this point. There is skin sagging on the back of his neck that looks like excess skin from his halcyon days of knocking back beer and eating roast. He was in chains: the kind that go around his waist and include cuffs for his hands. The chains dripped down his backside about 20 inches; that’s how much slack there was. His waist was tiny. His pants were barely staying up.
He stood in the cage, attentive but looking almost a little confused. I’m not saying he was, but he didn’t have that little edge in his face that we are used to seeing. The judge immediately continued the case to January 22, 2020, and DeAngelo stayed for a few moments to talk with his lawyer. We stayed seated until we were adjourned, maybe another three minutes, and then DeAngelo was escorted out and we were released.
After the hearing, we made our way to Carol Daly’s house.
Of course I managed to find the cameras after the hearing. Brandi from KCRA has always been very easy to talk with and she asked me to stop by on my way out (she was my court seat mate). She did a nice piece for the evening news. I talked with a couple other reporters and then I excitedly grabbed mom and we made our way to Carol’s house.
I don’t know why I was so excited to have my mom meet Carol, but she’s like a hero to me. Not only is she one of the kindest and generous women I’ve ever met, but she did so much good in her career that changed the way rape was investigated. I continue to be amazed at her generosity of opening her home to us and feeding us to boot! Only this time, the food was a gift from her cousin! Apparently her family knows about what’s been happening here, and follows the case, and he wanted to do something nice for us. I’m not surprised at all that she comes from good people.
If you didn’t notice the photo for this blog, it’s a picture of Carol with my mom. It makes me smile.
Epstein is dead. I did not see that coming. Sometimes I am so naïve. I think good things happen to people who are good. I think the bad guy gets caught. I might as well add unicorns and fairies to my list because I’m clearly delusional. I heard one Epstein victim anger crying this morning because she’ll never get to face him and hold him accountable. Kinda relatable.
This justice thing is exhausting.
I don’t have to tell the thousands of you out there who are still pursuing answers for your cold cases, your rape, or your abuser that the pursuit of justice is tiring. I follow many of you on Twitter and I watch and support your efforts to keep hope alive: to fight for answers, seek justice, pursue the truth. But it can be so slow and painful and sometimes we just want to give up.
I totally get it. I lived 20 years thinking my dad and Charlene were killed by a local. Someone in their world who had had enough. Maybe a boyfriend of Charlene’s. Maybe a business deal where my dad was just a bit too clever and screwed someone over. Never did I think it was a stranger; that it was not motivated by passion or jealousy or anger. Low and behold, it turned out to be a demon. Pure evil. Or was it?
Oddly I have spent this summer binging on horror movies.
Some have been really good and some have been awful (my little list below). All of them, for me, have been funny. That’s because I don’t believe in demons. I don’t. Having lived for almost another 20 years in fear of an unknown assailant, who had eluded the law and managed to hurt so many people, I’ve had my fill of fear.
I do think, maybe, there are monsters. Sociopaths who don’t belong with the rest of us. People who have no empathy, sympathy or connection to others. I suspect they do have feelings, but they aren’t like the feelings we have. I suspect their feelings are more like a hunger or compulsion to do the evil they do. And whether or not the monster has been caught, all the waiting is so damn cruel.
I think that’s what makes “justice fatigue” so much harder.
Justice presumes the bad person will get what he or she deserves. That’s a good outcome for normal fuck-ups. Humans make mistakes – sometimes bad ones – and there should be consequences. As I write this time is still ticking on an acquaintance who committed several bank robberies and crossed state lines in the melee and he’s still serving his 35 years. Basically, his whole adulthood. Ironically, he’s at peace with the consequence. Hopefully he’ll be paroled next year and he has every intention of quietly trying to make a contribution and live a good life. That’s how it should work.
Instead, whether we are searching for or have arrested a real monster – DeAngelo, Epstein, this trash human in El Paso – justice turns into an obscene dance that’s about everyone else except the monster and the victims. For those with a vested interest, I don’t know, say like the victims, it becomes an uncomfortable journey of hearings, news stories, missing the point, speculation, and fatigue. And this is what happens when someone gets caught. We know there are many, many others out there who haven’t been arrested. Some are monsters and some are just really bad people.
I don’t have a remedy, but I encourage you not to give up.
Justice fatigue, regardless of whether or not your crime has been solved, is just that. Instead of drowning in it, I encourage you to name it, put it in a jar and set it on the shelf. For many of us, we might not get the answers we seek. But I assure you, if your intentions are honest and your efforts sincere, you’re creating energy that helps us all. I am buoyed by those who won’t give up. We all have days when a pity party is justified. But when you’re done being sad and frustrated, get back to work.
If you need help, join me on Twitter @jcarole. There’s a whole squad there who fight through justice fatigue every damn day.
Jen’s Little List of Summer 2019 Horror Movies on Netflix
The El Paso shooting has just happened and I am heartsick. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn I’m anti-gun – particularly when it comes to using them to kill one another – but I even feel like it’s not a fair fight when hunting. I don’t mind hunting, but use some skills darn it. I’ve fired a gun. It’s unforgiving. [Sunday morning: another mass shooting overnight. Hard to get out of bed. But I had a comment about guns for legit protection and I agree. There are horrible moments in life when you need to protect someone or save yourself. Damn.]
As the August 22nd hearing grows near, I’ve realized I’m really starting to resent these quarterly treks to Sacramento just to watch an aging monster, age. This thing is moving at a snail’s pace and honestly, there’s no story here anymore. He’s been caught. He’s been vilified in the media. The survivors have proven their resilience. The investigators can finally sleep. Even his family must have figured out some way to get up every morning knowing the horrific legacy he’s left them.
So yes, I’m way over it.
I resent he hasn’t just died and given us all an out; allowing us to go on living without his god-awful name ever having to be mentioned again.
I resent he’s taking up space.
I resent my taxes are paying for him.
I resent he’s going to cost our state tens of millions of dollars.
I resent politicians – whoops, I’m sorry – district attorneys who will use this as leverage in their next election.
I resent this gives any fuel to the death penalty debate.
I resent watching his female attorney look at him like he’s a small boy who’s lost his way.
I resent that we have to shut our mouths in court because “decency” and “rules” as if this was in any way related to how he behaved.
I resent family members and survivors are living with the dread of having to testify.
I resent every trauma he caused, every person he hurt, every life he stole.
I resent the years we all lived in fear because he could still be out there.
I resent every damn breath he takes.
Yes, I’m going to be there. My expectations are minimal. I’m much more excited about seeing my kid (who lives there now) than being ushered into that tiny jailhouse courtroom in the August heat.
It’s nearly 8pm and I am swimming in a hot mess of feelings. I might not even be able to write everything tonight because I need sleep and a chance to form my thoughts. Today had a lot of surprises and some of them are really bothering me. Don’t worry. I’ll explain. But I first need to clarify my thoughts. Meanwhile, I can knock out some of the basic, non-controversial stuff. Let’s do this!
First, a paragraph about the Planned Parenthood Capitol Advocacy Day.
It was a great way to start the day. I’ve always supported Planned Parenthood because I know they serve people who truly need help. I have to say, I don’t even think I had a clue about how focused they are on protecting our right to healthcare. Talk about woke! Setting aside abortions (because I don’t want to trigger anyone), the outreach, education and accessibility this organization is providing blew my mind. I need to do some research to make sure what I heard is true, so I’m going to write more about this later. All I can say is you should not be afraid of this organization. It’s truly worth our support. Couple photos below.
Court was different today. Survivors took a back seat to politics.
Didn’t expect to type that sentence. I guess I will walk right into one of the weird things that happened today. Typically, we survivors meet on the corner with Victim Services and we walk in together ahead of everyone. It’s happened that way every other time. Today our squad was the last to enter (but still ahead of general public whom I’m not sure ever get in). We entered the courtroom to be greeted by a wall of media – typically it’s been a pool camera and sound guy. The first nearly three rows of the gallery were filled with people in dark clothing (that’s the uniform lawyers wear). We ended up having to find seats where we could and that kept us from sitting together. This sounds worse than it was. Let’s say this is how it felt: crowded, staged and for the first time, we had a different role. But then, it seems only one survivor knew what was going to happen today. [This is an intentional cliff hanger because I need to do just a bit of research before I open my big yap. If what I’m thinking is true, I’m pretty angry.]
DeAngelo is doing great on Keto. Absolutely no visible body fat.
Imagine a packed courtroom, media piled on top of each other to your right. A dozen lawyers for the prosecution and two for the defense. The room is silenced promptly at 1:30 and a different judge walks in! No adorable Judge Sweet. But it’s all good. We quietly wait to get started and then I realize, DeAngelo hasn’t arrived yet. The bailiff is peeking through a cracked door waiting – for what I think is – an elevator to deliver DeAngelo to the hallway that’s just outside the cage. We wait for a little bit (not that long but it’s noticeable since we’re all quiet) and then he walks in.
He looks exactly the same and yet smaller and more frail. Frail in that he seems to have finally lost all body fat. He has no butt. His arms were much smaller (circumference). He still stands at parade-rest with his mouth looking like it’s hanging open (I’m not able to see him from the front so until I watch a television report, I can’t tell if it was actually open). He remains unremarkable.
New judge (I’m too lazy to get up and get my notes right now to find his name); new judge is great and immediately denies the defense motion to once again prevent the media from participating. This is going to be DeAngelo’s lawyer’s pro forma motion every time. Then, in an unexpected move, the judge said, we are here today for an announcement. (We are? I thought we were just here to check on how discovery was going?) At that point, the different district attorneys got up and announced they were going to pursue the death penalty. It was a dramatic moment and I didn’t realize that this is how things work – that it’s done in an announcement. I guess it usually happens much later in the process. Since our case is a horse of a different color, this is how they did it. I’ll admit, even though I oppose the death penalty, it was incredibly satisfying to have them say it county by county so that DeAngelo could hear it.
After the announcement, we were done. Hearing dismissed.
I have so much more to say…but I need to sleep first.We did get together afterward, and I want to talk about that too! Thank you for all the support. I do read your comments and messages and I love the squad on Twitter.
I just got off the phone with a reporter friend and I think I might break some news tomorrow.