Friday, September 30, 2011

The Worst Day Of My Career - Part One: The Revalation

 November 1996

It started like any other day. Awake before dawn and before the alarm went off. Threw on a shirt, staggered out to the street and got the paper. Staggered back inside and got the coffee started.. Staggered back to the bathroom and peed. Headed up to the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee. Took a chair, enjoyed a cup and read the paper.I, like most everybody, am a creature of habit.

I could tell as I staggered out to the curb, that the day was going to be warm and dry. A warm breeze was coming from the ENE, a sure sign of a pending Santa Ana wind event. The Santa Anas are a regional weather pattern that usually occur in the fall and early winter. They have the potential to turn small incidents into large scale disasters, all of the firefighters in the area are wary when they blow. I can rattle off dozens of major wildfires involving the loss of thousands of homes and the deaths of dozens of people that have occurred during Santa Ana wind events. They can be brutal.

I always started with the local section, I wanted to see if any of the stuff my department ran on made the paper. Back then, the paper was locally owned and profitable. They actually called us every day to see if anything newsworthy had occurred. I have made the cover of the local section a few times over the years, as have many of my friends.

I don't remember what caught my eye first, but it was probably the headline. I can't quote it, but it went something like "DA Frustrated That Jury Can't Reach First Degree Murder Verdict". For some reason, I read the article. It was about a murder trial in town. The case involved the murder of a four month old baby, who was killed by his step-father. His mother had some role in the case, she had plead guilty to a child neglect charge, likely in exchange for testifying against her husband.

The article went into the details of the crime, and how evidence indicated that the baby had been tortured for nearly all of it's short life, with numerous healed fractures showing up on x-rays. The article also mentioned vast quantities of scars that were present on the baby's body. Apparently, things had gotten a little out of hand one day and the baby, tough as he was,  succumbed to his injuries.

For some reason, the jury could not agree on a guilty verdict for first degree murder, but were able to agree on second degree murder. The DA was outraged. Rather than life without parole, the defendant was looking at twelve to fifteen  years. Provided he was a good boy in prison, he could be paroled in as little as seven years. I shared the DA's outrage, enough so that I read the entire article.

Toward the end of the article, the unusual circumstances of the baby's birth were mentioned, circumstances that included being born in a car on the freeway. At some point, a light came on and I realized that the murdered baby was likely Baby Jake, the subject of my last post. The first name was the same, the dates of the murder, the age of the baby and my recollection of Jake's birth-date all coincided. Yet, I was still not totally sure. Still, the news hit me like a ton of bricks.

One of my heroes, the toughest baby I ever met, had been murdered? By his parents? Unbelievable. I tried to get my head around the matter and went to work. As soon as eight o'clock rolled around, I got on the phone and called the DAs office. By some miracle, the deputy DA who prosecuted the case picked up his phone and spoke with me.

I could hear the emotion in his voice as he told me about the case. Basically, Jake lived a life of pain, torture and agony., all at the hands of people who were supposed to care for him. All of the crap that Jake endured when he was born,  was just so that he could be the target of a sadistic murderer, one who his derelict mom picked out to be her partner. What a tragedy., It still saddens me when I think of it, it still angers me as well.

To be continued.....

Thanks for reading,

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