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The End of a Long and Painful Road?

The last few weeks have been stressful- January 27th marked the two year anniversary of Handsome Joel's death, and the trial for the drunk driver who killed him FINALLY began yesterday. I was interviewed this week by Raul Gonzalez, District Attorney for Travis County, as a potential witness in the punishment phase of the trial. It was pretty much a done deal for the intoxication manslaughter charge, so what was really up in the air was what the punishment would be.

Checked my email just now, and had this message yesterday from Joel's mom:

Mr. Wandersee has agreed to a plea bargain. He will be sentenced to 13 years with a deadly weapon charge which means that he will be required to serve at least half of that time. No early release or probation before at least 6 1/2 years. He will appear before the judge in the morning to officially accept the plea and plead guilty then the judge will give him two weeks to get his affairs in order before appearing to to start serving his time.

He accepted the guilty plea today, and we have another chance to see Wandersee in court and this time it will be when he is taken into custody. At the sentencing Katherine and family will be able to address Wandersee directly. If the judge permits, we may be able to have a friend of HJ (Lance graciously voluteered) speak on our behalf and be able to play a song from the HJ Tribute CD.

*cries*

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
tsarina
Feb. 12th, 2005 05:39 am (UTC)
It must be so strange, to wait so long for the trial and end up with an 11th hour plea bargain.
eliset
Feb. 12th, 2005 05:59 am (UTC)
True, but the idea that this went to trial in the first place is very unusual.

Most of the time (Read, about 90% of the time, statistically), criminals plea bargin. If all 100% chose to go to trial, our justice system would promptly collapse - it can't handle that much. DAs main strategy is plea bargin.

For what it's worth, of the 10% of people that do go to trial, only 1 out of every 10 is found not guilty.

So, from a statistics point of view, 99% of people indicted are guilty (in the eyes of the law) of the crime they're accused of.
tsarina
Feb. 12th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC)
That makes sense too.

When I served on a jury, we found the defendant not guilty. It was just misdemeanor traffic court, but it was an interesting and exciting experience.
snaxxx
Feb. 12th, 2005 05:23 pm (UTC)
Ironically, this experience connected me more to Cate- I remember one of her posts about prosecution. I told her how people were telling me how to get out of jury duty, but I didn't want to. I knew that when the time came from HJ's trial, I wouldn't want a jury of people who just couldn't figure out how to work the system.

Glad it was a good experience for you!
snaxxx
Feb. 12th, 2005 06:05 am (UTC)
Yes, it is, because he had tried to plead out last year. The offer was so ludicrous, it was likened to a slap in the face for Joel's mom. Wandersee wrote a letter to Kat, basically stating "I'm sorry Joel is dead, but my going to jail won't bring Joel back". They tried to cut a deal for 3-5 yrs in jail. Kat said no dice. Jury selection would have been Monday, opening arguments on Tuesday.
I am sure there were concerns by family that it had been too long to have an effective trial- even at the hearings last year, officers who had been on the scene couldn't recall all the facts.
tsarina
Feb. 12th, 2005 03:50 pm (UTC)
You know, that's a pretty crappy thing to do. How did he have the nerve to write such a letter?! I don't know this guy and I already want to kick him in the balls.
snaxxx
Feb. 12th, 2005 05:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it was revolting to hear the details. Believe me, it wasn't the first time this guy had a run-in with the law while under the influence. Apparently there had been a civil case against him that had been dropped, from a young woman whose car he had hit and damaged. I think there was also a drunk and disorder/assault and battery charge years ago as well.

He owned Austin-tacious Liquors (family business), I think on Ben White, but apparently it is now under new ownership. Might be trying to liquidate his assets in case of a civil case.
rogue_buddha
Feb. 12th, 2005 05:09 pm (UTC)
*hugs*
snaxxx
Feb. 12th, 2005 05:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks, sweetie!

Feel better this morning, a little numb. Last night was pretty rough for me.

Odd how it's easy for me to be strong for friends, but not myself sometimes. Think I needed a good cry anyway.
rogue_buddha
Feb. 12th, 2005 05:55 pm (UTC)
I'm glad one of us does :)

The flu sucks =/
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )