Monday, July 09, 2007

Charges dropped in infamous Hazleton murder

Although they were flawed in some ways (see: slavery, voting rights), our Framers were brilliant in a lot of ways. They were particularly visionary in the area of the judiciary. They believed that defendants deserved due process, a trial by a jury of their peers, the opportunity to see the evidence and hear the witnesses against them, and a presumption of innocence.

Sadly, our ability to carry out these ideals in practice has been mixed, at best. And that brings us to Friday's news that the Luzerne County District Attorney has dropped all charges against Joan Romero and Pedro Cabrera in the murder of Derek Kichline in Hazleton last year. The DA had shaky eyewitnesses and little physical evidence and deserves credit for doing what the law requires in not going forward with this case.

For more than a year now, we've been hearing from Hazleton Mayor Louis Barletta that Kichline's murder was the "straw that broke the camel's back" and pushed him and city council into passing the Illegal Immigration Relief Act. As if the ordinance- well, ordinances since there are eight (or is it nine?) different versions- didn't already show Barletta's disdain for the Constitution, he has been trying these two men in public for more than a year, before they ever saw the inside of a courtroom, saw the evidence against them, or had the opportunity to confront the witnesses against them. Barletta has made it clear that he is hostile to the American way of justice, and it is public officials like him who feed on Americans' fear of crime that debase the ideals our Founders put forth.

ACLU-PA's Vic Walczak responded to the latest development in the case:
"This dismissal of charges adds to the long list of discredited claims Barletta has made in the course of demonizing undocumented immigrants for allegedly destroying Hazleton," said attorney Witold "Vic" Walczak, of the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups suing the city.

The city's own stats don't back up Barletta's claims that crime by illegal immigrants is destroying Hazleton, and now the anecdote that he has used over and over and over is gone.

Barletta responded:
Barletta called Walczak's statement repulsive.

"Derek Kichline's family and friends will never see justice for his death," Barletta said. "The fact that the ACLU celebrates this and turns it into a public relations spectacle is disgusting, and Mr. Walczak should be ashamed of himself."

To paraphrase Carl Weathers in Happy Gilmore, now that's spoken like a true demagogue. That is, a demagogue who is watching the very issue that rocketed him to fame fall apart right before his very eyes.

Andy in Harrisburg

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the end it won't matter, as the American people have shown themselves to be strongly opposed to the presence of illegal immigrants. This is evident by the fact that few Americans have become indignant over the current series of deportations, in spite of the hundreds of sob stories in the news. The people want their laws enforced and the ACLU's efforts will be for naught, as city and state governments exercise their lawful right to have illegal aliens removed from their society. I would suggest that state and city governments ignore federal judiciary rulings, such as the Hazleton TRO, just as the federal government ignores its Constitutional obligations to enforce immigration laws and our nations borders. If the president can violate his oath of office, then why should the states obey federal rulings? Call it anarchy, but the federal government is already permitting anarchy through its failure to enforce our sovereignty and by allowing foreign interference from Mexico to enter our national political debate.

Since the Constitution does not contain any prohibition against state enforcement of immigration or restict it as a plenary power of the federal governmnent, then such powers clearly default to the states. Considering how the states are reacting to illegal immigration, perhaps it's time to amend the Constitution to make this issue perfectly clear to all.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the ACLU should feel all righteous about a case in which the defendants get off scott free when it is fairly evident that the witnesses are likely under duress from threats from the defendent. Most Americans would not concur with the certainty of Walczak's conclusions in the extract from the article that follows. I agree with Barletta that this appears to be a miscarriage of justice more than a vindication of the ACLU's assertions. The ACLU lawyers must be on drugs if they think this approach is buying sympathy from the American people.

"When two key witnesses, including one who has since been deported, changed their stories, prosecutors said they had to drop the charges."

"The lynchpin of the case was Sara Hittinger, Romero’s girlfriend at the time of the murder, changing her testimony, Vough said. She originally told police Romero and Cabrera admitted to killing Kichline. Hittinger later claimed she was under the influence of both drugs and alcohol that night and could not remember what Romero said."

""This dismissal of charges adds to the long list of discredited claims Barletta has made in the course of demonizing undocumented immigrants for allegedly destroying Hazleton," said attorney Witold "Vic" Walczak, of the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups suing the city."

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If the president can violate his oath of office, then why should the states obey federal rulings?"

You forgot to mention the anarchists in the sanctuary cities and the Catholic churches who harbor illegal immigrants in direct violation of federal law. Disobeying temporary restraining orders or final decisions would just be following the examples of the illegal alien advocates and protectors. If the ACLU is truly interested in defending the rule of law, it shouldn't discriminate based upon it's bias towards certain social agendas, but then again, that was the old ACLU.

This whole immigration issue has taken on the emotions and rebelliousness of a civil war, all for the sake of persons who are not enfranchised by our Constitution. If anyone has to be sacrificed for the sake of peace, it should be evident to all that the immigration laws should be enforced and illegal aliens should be returned to the countries of origin.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's try to follow Wolczak's (and Andy pandy's) logic. He's saying that the acquittal of the defendants because of a lack of evidence (convenient retractions of testimony, and the my brain was on drugs at the time, excuse) for a conviction somehow discredits Barletta's contention that the presence of illegal immigrants in his city is detrimental to the good citizens welfare. Wolczak is a terrible spin doctor, and lawyer, as he fails to make a credulous nexus.

Wolczak is playing to a small crowd of elitests, because few Americans hold his views. Fortunately our Congress has been chastened out of it's inclination to pander to illegal immigrants and their supporters, and state and local governments are putting the lie to the elitest contention that illegal aliens are solely the concern of the federal government. There won't be enough ACLU lawyers to take on every state and city government in the U.S. Perhaps we can bankrupt the ACLU.

Quoting Mr. Wolczak:

"This dismissal of charges adds to the long list of discredited claims Barletta has made in the course of demonizing undocumented immigrants for allegedly destroying Hazleton," said attorney Witold "Vic" Walczak, of the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups suing the city.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first commenter has a point. Why should I pay my income taxes when the feds won't carry out their Constitutional duty by enforcing the immigration laws. Like the Catholic Church argues, why should we support laws that we disagree with or support a government that doesn't do the work it's paid to do.

I don't like the "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska. I don't like porkbarrel spending of any kind. I elect not to pay taxes to pay for wasteful projects. I want comprehensive tax reform, now, and the welfare of the nation be damned! I like this selective compliance idea. Everyone choose a law that they don't like and disregards it, it's the new movement, anarchy. And what's more, we'll use the ACLU to defend our right to do so.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The guy who was acquitted is back in custody and being charged with a stabbing. I guess it's just more demonization on the part of Barletta. I'll bet that Witold doesn't cease his idiotic posturing even if the verdict doesn't support his hyperbole. Witold, will you apologize to Barletta if this fellow is found guilty? What do you and the ACLU have to say about that, Andy pandy?

Man who escaped murder charges last week held for alleged stabbing
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Staff Writer
A man charged in the shooting death of a Hazleton man more than a year ago – for which the charges were dismissed Friday – was arrested Tuesday in connection with a stabbing incident that occurred about a week and a half before the fatal 2006 shooting.

Hazleton police arrested Pedro Cabrera, 24 – who was jailed in Luzerne County Correctional Facility on a detainer by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency – on charges of criminal attempt to commit criminal homicide, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of simple assault for the stabbing of Damian Justofin inside Justofin’s East Fifth Street apartment just after midnight on April 30, 2006.
Cabrera had been charged, along with Joan Romero, in the shooting death of Derek Kichline outside his home on East Chestnut Street just before midnight May 10, 2006.
But those charges with withdrawn – at least temporarily – because one witness who helped prosecutors build their case against the two men had been deported.
City Det. Chris Orozco said that witness, and other witnesses, had “changed their stories” about the crime.
“But we are still confident we have the right man,” Orozco said at Cabrera’s arraignment Tuesday. “We have the gun.”
After the charges were withdrawn, ICE put the detainer on Cabrera, and he has been held at the county lockup, where he was sent after the arraignment.
In the probable cause affidavit police filed with the arrest, police said Justofin was in a coma after he was stabbed twice and could not talk to police for several weeks after the incident.
But when he felt better, Justofin picked Cabrera out of a photo lineup as the man who stabbed him.
Cabrera apparently isn’t going anywhere soon.
During his arraignment, District Judge Joseph Zola set Cabrera’s bail at $5 million cash.
Through an interpreter, Cabrera asked why he was at the district justice’s office. Zola explained the charges against him, and why they were being made.
When Zola asked Cabrera if he had ever been arrested before, he said he had been arrested for drugs.
Orozco told Zola Cabrera had been arrested for homicide in New York City and in the Kichline case, but Cabrera said he “never had a case of homicide.”
Zola set a preliminary hearing for Cabrera for 9:30 a.m. July 17 in Luzerne County Central Court.
In the murder case, Kichline had gone out to his truck to get some compact discs when two men walked up to him and shot him once in the head with a stolen .380-caliber Bersa.
The motive for the shooting remains a mystery. Cabrera and Romero, both Dominican nationals illegally in the United States, were charged in the shooting.
Romero is in the process of being deported.

6:32 PM  
Blogger ACLU of Pennsylvania said...

If Cabrera is guilty of this assault, then of course he deserves to go to prison for it.

And he deserves due process and the presumption of innocence.

Both of these points are no-brainers. Duh. That is, unless you don't believe in the founders' way of dealing with criminal defendants.

Andy pandy

9:06 PM  
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4:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Walczak, you and the ACLU should move to some third world country, where you can help all the criminals you want. No one needs your useless organization. It amazes me how many clueless, self-serving people look to your useless organization because they lack brains and character.
ACLU-Anti-American, Clueless, Lowlives United.

9:30 AM  

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