Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Twin Peaks defendants offered misdemeanor probation, negligent murder, and other stories

Let's clear some browser tabs with a roundup post. Here are several items of which Grits readers should be aware, even if I haven't had time to write about them:

Twin Peaks defendants headed to trial
The McLennan DA offered one of the 150+ defendants in the Twin Peaks biker massacre a plea deal of a deferred misdemeanor probation instead of the first-degree felony he was charged with, and the defendant said no, we're going to trial. Grits had earlier placed the over-under regarding how many of the original 177 people arrested would be convicted of anything at 1.5. That still sounds about right, though at the moment, if Grits were a betting man, I'd place my wager on "under." I couldn't begin to estimate the over-under regarding how much this fiasco may eventually cost McLennan County in civil suits for constitutional rights violations, but it'd be a good bet it'll be a non-trivial number.

Firing director not a cure-all for Dallas juvie detention woes
In Dallas, the juvenile probation director may or may not have been run out of her job but is definitely on the hot seat for allegations that youth under her care at a treatment center weren't allowed time for outdoor exercise. The same facility last year witnessed allegations  that five boys aged 13 to 17 engaged in sex acts with one another while sleeping on the floor of the cafeteria due to understaffing. I don't dispute that the chief needs to go, but this is not an NFL team. Firing the coach doesn't change much about a government bureaucracy, which is more effectively influenced through the passage of laws, policies, and budgets. At the end of the day, real solutions will likely involve ponying up more money for staff and services to solve the problem, not just firing the bureaucrat in charge.

All about the money
It took a guest columnist instead of working reporters to get to the heart of the debate over Austin's newly rejected police contract. Read Lauren Ross' article, it's the first time in the local press that the economic critiques of contract critics have been presented to MSM consumers in full form.

Six year old died in awful shooting by Bexar deputies
A six year old was killed by a stray bullet last month after four Bexar County Sheriff's deputies, including one with a rifle, opened fire at an unarmed suspect, who also died (law enforcement insists she earlier had a gun but now cannot find it). As a result, the Sheriff is reviewing use of force policies. This one is a mess. The officers appear to have fired based on assumptions they brought with them to the scene, not what they saw in front of them. And clearly they didn't take into account that she was standing in front of an occupied mobile home when they opened fire. Bodycam footage would help here. A GoFundMe page was created on behalf of the family to cover funeral expenses.

Some TDCJ units ill-equipped for cold weather
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice faces allegations that inmates at up to 30 units slept in un- or under-heated cells during the recent cold snap. TDCJ denies the problem, but the Texas Inmate Family Association identified a couple of dozen underheated units, notably including the Allred Unit near Wichita Falls. Editorialized the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "An ongoing lawsuit is demanding the state improve summer conditions. While they’re at it they should fix the heating for winter."

Negligent murder?
In Waco, a murder conviction was overturned because the jury was instructed to convict a defendant of murder based on "reckless" and "negligent" rather than "intentional" behavior. (A day care owner had given children in her care Benadryl and one of them died.) Prosecutors have appealed the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, where three votes to uphold the conviction are virtually guaranteed.

Clemency beneficiary reoffends
When Barack Obama issued sentence commutations to hundreds of drug offenders, it was inevitable that some of them would eventually reoffend. That has finally happened in San Antonio. The Express-News had the coverage. While some may use this to criticize the commutations, to me it's remarkable it's taken so long for somebody to screw up, and more remarkable still that the overwhelming majority of those with commuted sentences have not gotten into trouble again.

3 policies that punish the poor
Rudy Apodaca, the former chief judge of the New Mexico Court of Appeals, now living in Austin, had a column in the Express News linking three punishing policies for the poor: Overreliance on property taxes, money bail for criminal defendants, and the Driver Responsibility surcharge. He concluded, "Without change, the rich will continue to get richer and the poor poorer, the gap between them growing further apart. And caught in between, the middle class will keep struggling."

(Literally) sick of prison food
The Atlantic has the story of prison food literally making inmates sick. Prison inmates are six times as likely to contract a food-borne illness compared to the rest of the population, a recent study found.

With less crime, do we need fewer cops?
The Washington Post pointed out that, despite crime plummeting in the last three decades, the number of police has not declined. "In 2016, there were slightly more officers per capita than in 1991, when violent crime peaked, according to data collected by the F.B.I. Now, officers deal with half the crimes per capita that they did then." Grits could make an even stronger case that we have too many prosecutors.


Charlie O said...

The Twin Peaks massacre will eventually financially ruin McLennan county. There is no way they are indemnified for the amounts of monies this will cost in civil rights lawsuits. They should start by cleaning out Abel Reyna's bank accounts. Seize any and all of her personal property as well. He deserves to be penniless alongside the rest of the citizens of the county.

Anonymous said...

So where is barkgrowlbite to comment on the killing of a six year old and the unnamed suspect in this story. Let's talk about a police war on unarmed citizens.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Anon, I don't defend bad policing. This is one of those cases. As far as your police war on unarmed citizens ..... stick it where the sun don't shine.

Anonymous said...

Truth hurts huh?

Anonymous said...

You call murdering a six year old kid as bad policing?!?! That's a messed up cop/god mentality you have going on there dude.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with anon 6:35. If the roles were reversed and a cop was killed in this exchange someone would be going to death row.

Steven Michael Seys said...

About TDCJ housing prisoners in under-heated or unheated cells: This is so common that I am surprised that you were unaware. Standard practice includes environmental stress.

7Susanna said...

I wish there were "like" buttons. Some good Anonymous comments.

George said...

@ 7:03

I concur also with 6:35. Not only would someone be going to death row, the dead cop would be heralded as a hero whether he/she was or not. Their funeral would cause huge traffic problems and cost the taxpayers large sums of money to celebrate the life of one of their own. I commend most cops for the job they do, but it is just that a job, a job that no one forces on them. They are NOT inherently heroic nor BETTER than anyone else just because they wear a uniform, carry a gun and have legal authority to end someone's life.

Where's the celebration of the life of this innocent boy? It's more than just merely bad policing BGB and your response is to tell someone to shove it. Funny, shows your intelligence but then intelligence isn't a requirement to be in law enforcement is it? You come on here often and try to project the image of cops as ones who are above the level of the people they supposedly serve and protect. Tell that to the family of the child that those deputies murdered. It might be wise to shut your decrepit old pie hole unless you can come up with a better alibi for the murderous brother's you purport to represent.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Wake up you jerks, the deputies did not murder that child. He was accidentally killed behind a wall. The cops never saw him. You can question my intelligence all you want, but it sickens me when I see the attitude some of you have about the cops who are on the streets facing dangers every day while protecting your worthless butts.

Anonymous said...

BGB is a lost cause and a waste of time. It's like trying to convince a Nazi that Hitler was a bad man....he has this jacked up mind set that cops can do no wrong...and that when they do something horrendous it's "bad policing".

Anonymous said...

I think the salient points are that four deputies shot and killed an unarmed man in front of a residence subsequently killing a child inside and the response is to "review use of force policies," except that's the canned answer touted nation wide whenever something awful like this happens, and in spite of all the "reviews" by hardly independent agency investigators no one is facing charges.

To the average citizen, if it looks like a murder and smells like a murder it is at least negligent homicide.

It might not be that these particular officers should be held accountable but it certainly appears that no officers are being held accountable. When you see a police officer ambushed on the street it hasn't been by an ISIS assassin or a Cartel Hitman, it's some disillusioned malcontent tired of believing nothing is being done about a perceived wild west attitude amongst police. Departments close ranks before any one of us gets a chance to look inside.

People don't have empathy with police officers because police live behind Oakley's instead of in our communities.

abuseofpowermustbechecked said...

BGB sounds like a police officer...the "worthless butts" shows that officials do NOT value human lives or respect human dignity. Speaking of humans in such a monstrous, undignified way comes from a mouth that should not be able to speak. Reckless policing must be challenged. Abuse of power must be stopped. If you have not received the indignity of police abuse then you will not understand. but the Third Reich regime shows how abuse of power concludes.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Reyna has a lot more to worry about than most of you know. He's about to face a federal indictment himself. And his daddy can't save his ass either.

Anonymous said...

I'd happily take an Abel Renya mentality in Bell County as opposed to the current bozo, DA Henry Garza. Crime in Bell County is disproportionately worse than crime in McLennan County and the populations are similar. 17 years of Garza is about 10 years too many.