Sunday, May 29, 2011

Miami Homicide Detectives on First 48 ROCK!!!

"The First 48" is a mesmerizing documentary series following real detectives solving real cases. I grew up "hating cops" out of some misguided anti-establishment notion. And I realize now that what I dislike is a) the fact that "Vice" even exists and that people's personal 
choices, good or bad, are regulated by law.  I don't believe you can legislate morality.  Nor do I think we should;  and b) cops who abuse their power. 

But I digress. I'm watching Miami homicide detectives, Det. Kevin Ruggiero, Det. Orlando Silva, Sgt. Ervin Ford,  solving the brutal murder of a 24 year old woman, a corrections officer, and her beautiful 2 year old son. The woman's boyfriend, the boy's father, was laying in bed with his girlfriend with their two-yr-old lying in the middle, and suddenly half asleep he heard POP POP POP POP POP... Bam! His son is dead in his arms- And he sees his girlfriend, his son's mom, also shot dead. All I can say is, should something so tragic, so chilling, happen to you or someone you know, you--or they--should only hope for detectives a tenth as passionate and capable as Miami PD Murder police.  They do not give up! 

 I'm glad for us and for them that doing this job has not deadened or hardened them so much that they are unaffected by a crime like this.  I mean using an AK47 to shoot a baby?!  Who could possibly be so cruel and heartless.  If there weren't detectives willing to face that kind of ugliness, who would get these animals off the street? How would we? 

Moms and dads themselves, they have to live with these images  yet  keep their perspective. They have to care enough to be motivated, but have to keep the feelings in check so they really can do their job. It's amazing how little respect police tend to garner and how much we owe cops like these.  

To have the chance to see homicide detectives up close has changed my view of "cops" forever. (Thanks First 48.)     These men and women in Miami homicide are surprisingly free from gender bias, to my surprise. The boss is a woman, Sgt. Eunice Cooper, and not one of these men treats her differently than their male superiors.  The best of the male detectives aren't afraid to tear up or experience genuine emotion when on a scene like the brutal killing of a young woman and her two year old son..  And yet they're  professional enough, and experienced enough, to find a way to set their emotion aside to do their job. 

This murder, of a completely innocent young and her toddler son, is no run of the mill crime.  Left behind is a shocked and traumatized husband whose son died in his arms, grieving siblings and parents devastated. Detectives feel this woman, a corrections officer, is one of their own, and several have children around the same age.  With nothing at all to go on, every  detective in homicide works this case, no one sleeps for 48 hours.  And by the third day they know the identity of both perps and bring them in. Way too hardened too be swayed by interrogation techniques neither talk but one is arrested and charged as they also found his gun .   

How did they do it? Because the victims were shot from outside the house through the window, and thus there were no fingerprints, DNA, and no witnesses who saw their faces.  All they had were shell casings.

First they put out a public plea for information. The female victim's parents who were also the baby's grandparents spoke about their daughter. She was clearly kind and caring and greatly beloved. The boy's father was too distraught to speak but several spoke of the sweet, bright young boy who had barely begun to live. And  after the parents spoke, Sgt. Ervin Ford spoke too.  He also teared up as he spoke, concluding his remarks with a simple plea.

Usually television pleas like this bring many calls to a tip line in a city like Miami as even gang members will call in on the death of a child.  This time the lines were eerily quiet. 

Experienced detectives knew there had to be someone out there who knew something, and the silence told them that anyone who did know was too scared to talk. So every member of homicide reached out to any of their informants who might know who was likely responsible or be able to find out.  Det. Kevin Ruggiero had a hunch that a C.I. who was serving time might be able to get some info. The felon made one phone call and produced a name- not the shooters, but a woman who knew their identity.

She was brought in though determined not to talk. Det. Kevin Ruggiero asked if she thought what they did was right.  It was clear she did not but her fear of retribution was great. Det. R masterfully got her to see that she had to help them. Meanwhile they finally got a tip about where the guns used were being kept. And lo and behold they found the 357 Magnum (though not the assault rifle) and were able to tie that gun to one of the men the witness named. 

They were not able to arrest the second perp who'd used a "stick" in the shooting ("stick" being slang for an assault rifle) then but one imagines they'll find enough evidence soon. 

My new heroes: Sgt. Ervin Ford, Det. Kevin Ruggiero, Det. Orlando Silva, and Det. Emiliano Tamayo, Sgt. Eunice Cooper- you guys ROCK!   

Friday, May 27, 2011

Casey Anthony Trial continues...

Narcissistic and sociopathic personalities are by definition charming, and easily able to convince others they are sincere and normal.  Casey Anthony appears to fall right into that category, and apparently has convinced her defense team that she's just a poor innocent young woman who was sexually abused by her father, a fact that hasn't been proved, and seems merely a ploy to get sympathy by Casey.

On TruTV, several of the correspondents seem to say that Casey seems to have "loved" her daughter Caylee, based purely on behavior she displayed in front of others.  Her former friends, mostly male, state that her daughter appeared "well fed," that Casey did not yell at her or hit her, that Casey has a backpack with her with various DVDs and toys, that Casey played with Caylee and appeared to be having fun, and Caylee seemed to enjoy it. When the defense asked if it appeared she was a "good mother," several said "Yes", based on the above facts.

The defense (Attorney Jose Biaz) keeps asking questions like this: "Did you ever see Caylee malnourished?" and  "Did you ever see Casey strike or torture or harm Caylee?"  Well, first of all, Casey and Caylee lived with Casey's parents for quite some time, and they made sure Caylee was fed, clean, well dressed, and had DVDS, toys, learning tools.  Certainly Casey hadn't worked in two years so she wouldn't have had her money to buy these things.

But more relevant here is this: What is the definition of a good mother? Feeding and clothing and not "torturing" your child only suggests a lack of neglect and overt abuse. They certainly do NOT indicate, alone, that a mother loves a child.  In my view, a good mother is someone who is mature enough to love her child enough that her well being is more important than you "having fun. A good mother does not leave her 2-year-old unsupervised while she has sex with her boyfriend of one month in the other room.  One witness, Maria K., testified that when she came to Tony/s (the boyfriend's) apartment, little Caylee answered the door while Casey was nowhere to be seen. Maria then noted that Casey was in her boyfriend's bedroom at the time.

Casey Anthony seems to have some similarities to Susan Smith, who killed her two children because her boyfriend did not want to be with her because she had kids and he did not want the responsibility.  Prior to the incident where Smith's children were drowned, no one said or noticed that Susan Smith was either a bad mother or abusive to her children.  But the fact is, she loved herself more than she loved them.  As soon as they became an impediment to what she wanted, she got rid of them.

As for Casey Anthony's father George, several of the In Session correspondents, including Beth Karas and Casey Jordan, defended George's behavior on the stand, and felt that defense attorney Jose Biaz was badgering him.  Jose Biaz was questioning George about two gas cans that were stolen from him and the police report that George then made. He questioned whether George had he told the police that his daughter may have been the one who took them since she'd taken his gas cans in the past.  The point of the questioning was to show that George may have been lying about the gas cans being stolen (a key piece of evidence) and may have in fact reported them stolen in order to lay groundwork for a later defense.

There was much discussion about whether Jose Biaz was badgering George Anthony or whether George Anthony was simply a controlling angry man.  The fact is, Jose Biaz was nervous and tripped over his words quite a bit during that cross examination.  He would ask a question about July and then say, Oh, I mean June.  He asked other questions that were leading, and others that were simply unintelligible.  George Anthony had to say he did not understand the question, or challenge the question, a number of times.  I myself found Jose Biaz confusing and unclear, and don't think George Anthony was doing anything other than trying to be certain that what he said On the Record, was true.

In addition, Jose Biaz had accused George in opening statements of sexually abusing his daughter beginning when she was 8 as well as knowing about and covering up his granddaughter's disappearance. It certainly is understandale, if these things are untrue, which I believe they are, that George would be angry, and humiliated after hearing these statements (which he was called by the state to deny)

Most of the In Session correspondents (Beth Karas, Casey Jordan, their law enforcement expert) felt that George Anthony was believable on the stand, appeared genuine, and wasn't any angrier than anyone else would be in the same situation.  I tend to agree.

The only emotion Casey shows is when her ex-boyfriend testifies, someone she either loved or was extremely attached to, and when Tony says that Caylee was a wonderful little girl, Casey mouths the word, yes, while holding back tears.  However those tears were turned on and then off.  I think she wanted appear to be touched by hearing about her daughter in the presence of this man she loved or wanted. No such emotion appeared at any other mention of her daughter thus far in the trial.

They have Casey dressed quite conservatively of course.  On Thursday, however, she was wearing a white shirt with poofy sleeves, and a ponytail with the top teased up in such way that she looked like one of those Mormon wives living on the Texas compound that were in the news.

The prosecution is painting a pretty ugly picture of Casey, pretty effectively.  The defense is going to have a lot of "splaining" to do.