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A Sobering Tale of Innocence, of Jailhouse Violence & Other Must Reads

June 28th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon



IS LOUIS GONZALEZ III A CALCULATING MONSTER IN A BANKERS’ SUIT—OR AN INNOCENT MAN SET UP FOR A FALL?

The LA Times’ Christopher Goffard has written a rigorously reported and entirely gripping narrative tale of a man accused of unspeakable things, who would have gone to prison for the rest of his life…..but then some cracks in his case began to appear.

Here is Part 1 and Part 2:

Note the photos, many of them by Anne Cusack, as well.

And here are a few clips to persuade you that you need to read this puppy:

He kept thinking that there had been a mistake, that he’d be out in no time. That the system, set into motion by some misunderstanding or act of malice, would soon correct itself.

That was before the detective informed him of the charges, and before the article in the Ventura County Star. “Man held after woman found raped and tortured,” read the headline, and there was his name, along with a quote from a police officer: “In 19 years of police work, this has to go down as one of the most brutal attacks I have ever seen.”

The sky was beautiful that afternoon. Louis Gonzalez III remembered it felt like spring…..

[SNIP]

Minutes before Gonzalez’s arrest around 2 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2008, Tim Geiges placed a frantic 911 call. By the account he would give consistently in years to come, he’d just returned from work and found his wife, Tracy West, naked and bound in an upstairs bedroom of their Simi Valley home in the 1900 block of Penngrove Street.

The dispatcher tried to calm him. “Sir, somebody beat your wife up?”

“Somebody tied her up, and I just got home — oh my God…” He was whimpering. “I just untied her head just now. She’s crying. I need somebody, please!”

He managed to say that his wife’s attacker would be at the Montessori School, a mile away.

“Who is this person?”

“Louis. Louis Gonzalez the Third.”

When paramedics arrived at the house, they found West on the bed leaning forward, crying, with purple duct tape tangled in her hair…..


A TRIAL MOVES FORWARD FOR THE CASE OF AN OC JAIL INMATE BEATEN TO DEATH IN 2006

The OC Register has the story. Here are a few clips that give you the gist of the matter:

A judge is mulling whether to allow statements made by an Orange County jailhouse inmate on the day he was beaten to death in an upcoming trial.

Prosecutors allege the inmate was beaten by nine other inmates. Three of the inmates charged in the October 2006 slaying of John Chamberlain, 41, who was wrongly identified as a child molester, have pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and a fourth is expected to plead.

[SNIP]

An Orange County grand jury investigation into the incident found that Orange County Sheriff’s deputies at Theo Lacy jail often used jailhouse bullies – identified as shot-callers – to punish unruly inmates.

That investigation came after The Orange County Register obtained confidential documents and published a story about deputies’ actions before and after Chamberlain’s death.

The upcoming trial is the first in Orange County involving a jailhouse beating death of an inmate reportedly at the hands of several other inmates.

Investigators believe the group targeted Chamberlain on Oct. 5, 2006, under the mistaken belief that he was a child molester, perceived as the worst kind of person in inmate culture. Chamberlain had been awaiting trial on a misdemeanor charge of possessing child pornography.

I find this story particularly unsettling because a student of mine at UC Irvine wrote an extremely well-reported story on another OC inmate who was accused of a sex charge (with no priors) who proclaimed his innocence. Lke,Chamberlain, was awaiting trial. However, in early June 2006, the inmate, who was then 21, was beaten by a group of inmates to the point of permanent brain damage. Same jail, same issue, just four months prior to the beating of Chamberlain.


DEAR JACK SHAFER AND PHIL BRONSTEIN, ABOUT YOUR JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS COMMENTARY—PUT A SOCK IN IT!

In Sunday’s New york Times Magazine, Pulitzer-winning reporter Jose Antonio Vargas revealed that he is undocumented—a fact that he’d kept secret from friends and employers all of his adult life. (Vargas was sent to the US from the Philippines by his mother when he was 12.) After observing the courage of a lot of the DREAM ACT-supporting college kids who have risked deportation by coming out about their own immigration status, Vargas finally decided that he needed to come out too.

Vargas’ essay—which was posted online well ahead of the Sunday pub date— was brave and terrific and, as expected, it stirred up a lot of comment and controversy. However the one kind of comment I would never have expected was the self-righteous tripe that came from the keyboards of Slate’s Jack Shafer and SF Chronicle editor-at-large Phil Bronstein, for whom Vargas once worked. “Jose has disqualified himself from being a journalist,” sniffs Bronstein.

Daniel Denvir at the Guardian has some good commentary on the high-horse-ish commentary of the other guys.


ON A “FREE SPEECH” ROLL, SCOTUS STRIKES DOWN CA LAW BANNING SALES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES TO MINORS

Every newspaper with a Supreme Court reporter has a story about this Monday ruling, including the NY Times’ Adam Liptak.

Here’s Liptak reporting on what Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion:

“Like the protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages — through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world),” Justice Scalia wrote. “That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.”

Depictions of violence, Justice Scalia added, have never been subject to government regulation. “Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed,” he wrote, recounting the gory plots of “Snow White,” “Cinderella” and “Hansel and Gretel.” High school reading lists and Saturday morning cartoons, too, he said, are riddled with violence.

The California law would have imposed $1,000 fines on stores that sold violent video games to anyone under 18.

Posted in crime and punishment, criminal justice, immigration, jail, media | 1 Comment »

One Response

  1. Kevin Says:

    ““Jose has disqualified himself from being a journalist,” sniffs Bronstein.”

    Phil Bronstein disqualified himself from that a long, long time ago.

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