Posted by Disgusted-With-The-Law, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm
There is so much wrong here it's difficult to know where to start examining this affair.
> Police said on June 9, 2010, Elarms laid in wait for Lewis
> at San Mateo General Hospital where Lewis worked and followed
> him to the shopping center where he confronted him and shot
> him once.
So .. either he did it, or he didn't .. and the police have the wrong man.
> The court granted defense attorney Jonathan McDougall's request
> to dismiss the murder charge and a charge of being a felon in
> possession of a firearm. Judge Stephen Hall threw out Elarms'
> confession on the grounds that San Mateo police violated his
> Miranda rights when they continued to interrogate him after
> he repeatedly requested an attorney.
Ok .. so he confessed, and there doesn't seem to be any claim of "torture"--so it would seem that the Elarms actually shot and killed Lewis. But now the Judge says: "I don't care. Even if it's true--it's not murder--not in my court, it isn't!"
Why? Well .. seems that the police didn't exactly follow the rules. The rules, it seem, are designed so that if Elarms has enough money he can buy the services of legal counsel who can guide him through "the process"--so that with some luck those with enough money might get off on a technicality--if for no other reason?
So--if it's not murder, what is it? We have a dead man, and someone one in jail, who has confessed to the crime, but now the confession is not valid. So--is the dead man no longer a murder victim? He certainly seems to be from everyone's perspective--but not this trial judge.
The case is presumably back in the hands of the SMC DA, but given that they have bobbled it so far, what chance is there that they will be able to get this guy back into the court room, and convicted?
Now--there is the matter of the police who denied him "his rights". Their actions have now imperiled the legitimate prosecution of Elarms, who would seem to be a murderer--except the Judge says: "No!". These police should be brought up on some sort of disciplinary charges, as well as everyone in their chain-of-command--up to the Chief of Police. They knew that that had violated "his rights", and that once the defense attorney got hold of that information--the confession would be considered "tainted fruit". And that's exactly what happened.
And the SMC DA either knew, or should have known, about the failure of the police to allow Elarms to have access to an attorney, and yet--they pushed this case to trial, and got their murder charges thrown back in their faces. The DAs should be subject to some sort of disciplinary action also.
And then there is this grand jury issue. The grand jury isn't really guilty of anything except perhaps not having the instinct to question the validity/sufficiency of the information being presented to them. Still--one has to wonder about how many grand juries are "used" inappropriately to push indictments through to trial that might not actually have sufficient proof in the investigative side of the case to support a conviction in a jury trial?
All-in-all, this is another of those cases that makes one really question if anyone in law enforcement really knows what they are doing. It would be wonderful to read that they (the police) did their jobs, followed all the rules, and were able to make their cases in court. But this case makes one wonder just how competent this police department/DA's Office really is.
If Elarms really did it, he needs to be tried, convicted and put away. Unfortunately, there is a clear possibility that this guy, who seems to be clearly a killer, might walk!
It's enough to make you disgusted with the law.