Saturday, December 05, 2009

”We have the most incompetent DA in the state,”


Whitmill, Flores take pleas in deadly street race case Times-Standard breaking news
Whitmill, Flores take District Attorney's deal Times-Standard complete write-up
...Ken Quigley, father of Nicole Quigley, attended nearly every court appearance by Whitmill and Flores with many family members and friends. He expressed frustration that the District Attorney's Office never discussed the plea bargain with him or his family.

”We didn't find out until yesterday afternoon, late, that this was even in the works,” Quigley said on Friday. “We're very disappointed in how this worked out.”

He blamed District Attorney Paul Gallegos for settling instead of going for a stronger sentence.

”We have the most incompetent DA in the state,” Quigley said.

A call seeking comment from Gallegos was not returned by deadline Friday.

In a press release, the DA's office stated that it was a potential technicality that led to the decision to accept the pleas.
”The case has been delayed in going to trial as the defense has appealed the issue of defendant Whitmill's blood being drawn without his consent at a time when it was unknown who the driver of the vehicle was,” the release states.

Initially, Cheri Marcelli -- Whitmill's wife -- was listed as the driver in police reports but it was later changed to Whitmill.
Neither the California Supreme Court nor the Court of Appeals has ruled on the appeal, the DA's office said.

”Given that issue, the prosecution made the decision to accept the plea,” the release states. “The murder charge was dismissed in exchange for his plea to these counts with the agreement he would waive his appeal rights and be sentenced to the maximum term for each count.”

Flores also waived his right to appeal the case.

Quigley said he is not upset with the deputy district attorney who most recently prosecuted the case, Maggie Fleming, because she has only been on the case for two weeks. The case was “dropped into her lap,” he said.

”Maggie Fleming is excellent, she's brilliant,” Quigley said.

Franklin Zimring, a professor at that Boalt School of Law at the University of California, said there is no legal requirement for a DA to ask for the victim's family's input on plea deals or to keep them informed of developments.

”In large cities it's rare, but the smaller the town, the more visible cases are,” Zimring said. “And you have to remember ... it is an elected position.”

He said the practice of involving victims' families and keeping them informed varies from office to office and case by case.


Other coverage:
◼ KIEM-TV apparently refused to report Ken Quigley's negative assessment of DA Paul Gallegos.
Big Plea in Quigley Cast The Journal

Related:
09
Whitmill and Flores trial date delayed another month 08/04/2009
Whitmill, Flores take District Attorney's deal 12/05/2009
Jury selection begins in trial of Whitmill, Flores 11/23/2009
Whitmill, Flores trial to proceed 11/10/2009
Motion denied to suppress blood sample in Whitmill case 11/06/2009
Whitmill faces murder charge for alleged role in crash 10/15/2008
Quigley family, friends remember 9-year-old Nicole 10/06/09
Nearly one year ago 10/01/2009
Case surrounding fatal crash on Highway 299 delayed 09/15/2009
Too many delays 9/10/09
Legal maneuvers slow case of men charged in 9-year-old's death 09/01/2009
Whitmill and Flores trial date delayed another month 08/04/2009
Evidence, charges unchanged against Whitmill 07/17/2009
Evidence for second degree murder charge? 06/19/2009
Thinking of the Quigleys 05/29/2009
Remember Nicole 05/08/2009
Looking forward: Quigley family watches and waits as case continues 05/17/2009
Defendants in 299 wreck plead not guilty 03/28/2009
Judge holds Whitmill, Flores to answer for 299 wreck 03/14/2009
Wife refuses to testify against husband at preliminary hearing 03/13/2009
Investigator testifies suspect in fatal crash changed story 03/12/2009
Officer testifies about 299 crash at prelim 03/11/2009
Preliminary hearing over Highway 299 wreck continues 03/10/2009
Superior Court delays hearing in 299 crash case 02/11/2009
Broken system 01/23/2009

08
Hug your children 12/03/2008
Vehicular manslaughter suspect has extensive criminal history 11/13/2008
Whitmill-Flores hearing continued 11/06/2008
Street race case waiting on CHP reports 10/23/2008
Authorities seek Mustang passenger for questioning 10/17/2008
Court document: Flores tried to 'subvert' investigation 10/16/08
Whitmill faces murder charge for alleged role in crash 10/15/2008
Authorities arrest driver of Mustang 10/10/2008
New driver named in fatal collision 10/09/2008
Search continues for other driver in fatal crash 10/08/2008
◼ ER Parolee named as driver in fatal collision
◼ TS New driver identified in fatal crash
◼ TS New driver named in fatal collision
TS Update: ☛ TS Police still looking for driver
◼ TS Driver sought: Suspected drag race on 299 results in fatal crash

Note: there were other articles in the Eureka reporter, but none are available online anymore.

10 comments:

  1. Yes, I know there is no requirement for the District Attorney to consult the family of the victim prior to making, offering, or accepting a plea deal. But, doesn't common human decency require it in a case like this? With Gags it's hard to tell whether it is straight up sneakiness or just ham-fisted public relations. Or incompetence in being unable to prove the case BARD in the first place. Or all of the above. He needs to go.

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  2. It's very simple. either you have a DA who cares more about the victims than the perpetrators - or not.

    From the very beginning, Gallegos has not cared about the victims or their families. Except when he could use them to get himself elected, only to discard them and stop taking and returning their phone calls when they were no longer useful.

    The evidence of his caring about the criminal surfaced early, and includes his excusing the beating of a baby by sympathizing with the "multiple" personalities claimed by the defense, and the evidence is in the letters to the editors by people who, like the Quigley's weren't consulted about plea deals like this one.

    So, it's not like he slipped up once, realized the error of his ways and made a point of fixing it. far from it. Despite being put on notice he has callously and steadfastly refused to change his own mentality.

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  3. Rose,

    You are living in a fantasy world. Read some law. Cases are decided by evidence alone, not the wishes of a third party even if that party is the surviving kin.

    In this case, apparently the police may have broken evidentiary rules in the blood test. Therefore, further prosecution might well have resulted in a dismissal. It looks like the prosecution got the best deal they could given the compromised evidence.

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  4. And it took a year to arrive at this conclusion? Just in time for the holidays, I guess.

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  5. A year is not unusual--even fast-- for this kind of proceeding.

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  6. I'm not happy with this. I am willing to bet PG isn't either. Unfortunatly it seems he didn't "man up" and keep the Quigleys in the loop on this. For that, PG deserves to face the heat. And if he's voted out next year because of this, I think that would be a legitimate reason to do so.

    Rose, as you hopefully know, the "justice" system is a team effort. The DA seems to be placing the blame for this on law enforcement. It wouldn't be the first time they've bungled something like this. We'll see if law enforcement has a response or not. But as anyone will tell you who is involved criminal defense, the cops make basic mistakes all the time. It's too bad that they're either not given enough training or perhaps they're all (including the DA) put into this lose-lose bind by a system that is too criminal friendly. Jury trials are somewhat of a gamble, I know, I've been on them before.

    It's all too bad. I understand the anger. I hope people can come to look at the larger picture.

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  7. This may be an appropriate outcome for this case, I don't know enough about the facts to say. I do know that a second-degree murder under these circs would be very difficult to prove. That's why there's a separate vehicular homicide statute. The problem is in the way it's been handled by the DA's office. In the first place, victims (and I believe that surviving family members count) ABSOLUTELY DO have the right to be notified of any proposed disposition, if they ask to be kept in the loop; California Constitution, Article I, section 28. In the second place, it is chickenshit to say that we took this plea because we thought an appellate court would overturn this." WTF? There were apparently three separate motions about this and each was denied. Why does PVG think there was an issue? If that's his excuse then he needs to explain further why he thinks his officers blew it, in my opinion. Does this mean that he opposed the various motions to suppress the blood tests even though he thought they were right? Officers can obtain a blood sample without consent, that's not at all obscure. And given the number of probations he was on, didn't he have search terms in one of them? That is just a weird-ass explanation, and smacks of an attempt to blame the officers. Again, this may well be the appropriate disposition, but if so, it means this case was overcharged, which is a bad sign. And PVG certainly violated the spirit of Marsey's law, if not its letter.

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  8. Well, it could be for some reason,
    appellate courts scare the daylights out of PVG.

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  9. 1;19, you made me snort milk through me nose. You bastard. Point to you, sir.

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