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Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

Justice for Yashanee Part Two – Keeping Secrets

In Uncategorized on January 18, 2013 at 7:26 am

The words came like a knife

“A decision was made to delay that, that was made by his lawyers, not by him, in accordance with our sworn duty to zealously defend Mr. Bennette, We would ask the Vaughn family to accept our sympathy and our regret for the additional pain that the family had to endure because of that decision.

That was a lawyer for Parrish Bennette telling the court – and the family of Yashanee Vaughn whom Bennette had just admitted to killing – that it had been the decision of the lawyers to not disclose where Vaughn’s body was for nearly four months.

Vaughn was 14 when she was last seen with Bennette, her boyfriend two years older, on March 31, 2011. It wasn’t until July 15th that Bennette finally told police where they could find her.

It was awful news for the family for which there had been precious little in the way of positive news since Yashanee went missing. At first, despite the family’s belief that the worst had happened, the police classified her as a missing person, with some officials expressing disbelief that reporters were interested in – as one put it – “a girl with a rap sheet who probably took off.”

Even when it became clear she had been murdered – Bennette’s father had come forward to say that his son had confessed to him and police found blood stains – they received little solace as Bennette refused to disclose what had happened and where the body was.

It turns out now that was part of a calculated effort on the part of the defense team.

The defense team knew that they were going to have an uphill battle showing their client was not guilty but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to do everything they could to defend his best interests. And that meant making sure that even if they couldn’t get him an acquittal, they would do what they could to cut down on the time he spent in jail.

So, they approached law enforcement with an offer. They would be able to help them find the body as long as they got a guarantee that law enforcement would look favorably on the fact that the information had been shared.

The lawyers were told no deal.

And that’s where the stalemate started; one that last nearly four months, four months during which Yashanee’s family could only wait and suffer.

“They let her lay in the dirt and decompose for four months and knew where she was?” Vaughn’s great aunt, Marsha Hayes, said in court. “Where’s the justice for that? That’s sick.”

It may be sick and it absolutely leaves one questioning where’s the justice? But the lawyers really had no choice. The way the system is set up – prosecutors and defense lawyers have to do pretty much what they can to advocate for their positions.

And a defense lawyer cannot disclose something his client told him without his client’s permission. So, presumably when Bennette was told he wouldn’t get special consideration for revealing where Yashanee’s body was, he told his lawyers to stay quiet.

“It’s a very difficult situation,” says Jim McIntyre, a long-time top prosecutor turned defense lawyer. “If the only way they knew something was through communication with their client and the client didn’t want that information disclosed, they had no choice.

“It’s carved in stone. They are duty bound to say nothing.”

McIntyre points out that the only time that an exception could be made is when the client says I am going to kill or harm someone.

“You never want to sound callous but when you look at situations like this you have to remember that sometimes what people think is right and what is justice are not the same thing,” says McIntyre. “And in a murder case, so much of it is going to be about physical evidence and there is no bigger piece of physical evidence than the body.

“There’s the humanitarian perspective that you want the remains returned to the family and there’s the legal constraints on what you can and cannot say.”

McIntyre says that the defense lawyer has to do what it’s in the best interest of their client. The lawyer has to decide whether it’s worth their while to disclose information whether it was the involvement of a third party, the location of a weapon. Or the location of a body.

“It’s very easy to look at these things from an emotional point of view. The problem is that it’s much more complicated.”

Justice for Yashanee?

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2013 at 3:57 am

Sometimes it’s not always easy to recognize justice as being the right thing.

There is currently an offer on the table that would send Parrish Bennette to prison for 18 years if he admits in open court that he killed Yashanee Vaughn in March 2011. He was 16-years-old, she was 14 and both came from troubled families.

It would be what they call 18-years hard for Bennette – no time off for good behavior, no chance for early release. Eighteen years with the only reduction coming for time he has already served.

Bennette is not exactly the most sympathetic of characters. Even though he had told his Dad that Vaughn was killed when the gun he was playing with accidentally went off, he would deny having said any such thing when detectives later questioned him.

And even after he was arrested, he refused to cooperate for months until he finally told police where they could find her body. Last month he was charged with assaulting a deputy in prison.

Members of Yashanee’s family were told about the possibility of a deal in a meeting Tuesday afternoon and were originally very vocal that they thought that 18 years was not enough. 

There was a lot of screaming at first.

Yashanee’s family has had a somewhat tenuous relationship with the law – and not without reason. When they first reported her missing, there was a sense that it was a troubled girl who had just taken off. And the more the family insisted that she must have been the victim of foul play, the less people seemed to care.

So, when they sit there and hear about a plea deal instead of barreling forward toward a conviction, there was suspicion. And anger.

Then there was discussion.

The key – it was pointed out – was that if they did not reach a settlement and the case went to trial, there would be no guarantee of conviction. And, even if Bennette were to be convicted of the top charge, there are several mitigating factors that could result him in not serving much more than 18 years anyway.

Among the factors that could weigh against a conviction or add to a reduced sentence are the fact that he has claimed the shooting was an accident, that he had a clean record, his age and that, ultimately, he did help lead investigators to her body.

At least one member of the family, though, pointed out that no amount of time would bring Yashanee back and that there was a certain wisdom in accepting a guaranteed prison time for Bennette.

The family put out a statement late Tuesday expressing displeasure with the possible settlement.

 

“Today is a sad day for justice for Yashanee and her family,” the statement said.

Yashanee’s grandmother, Reynelda Hayes, added: “It’s my time to mourn. I’ve held my family together for two years and now my heart is filled with tears and regrets we could not save my granddaughter from this monster.”

The family’s statement also states they believe that Bennette had help., something investigators strongly dispute.

Sources says that while Bennette did ask a friend to hide the gun, there is not a shred of evidence that anyone was else was involved in either the murder or the disposal of Yashanee’s body afterward.

If no settlement is reached, the trial is scheduled to begin on February 1.

Even though Bennette would be required to state what happened when he killed Yashanee, there’s a strong chance we’ll never really know what happened; certainly not why.

The problem is that even if it went to trial, there’s an equally good – if not better – chance that the pictured will become even more muddled as the defense could very well do everything they could to make Yashanee the target.

As a relative of Yashanee’s pointed out today, whether he receives 18 years or 25, no amount of time is going to bring her back. So, while a plea may not make anyone happy, it may just be the only just answer.

 

Portland Weather: We’re All Going to Die. Or Not.

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Snowpacalypse Now! Snow Country for Old Men. February Flakefest. Snomageddon!

These are just a couple of ways residents of Portland, Oregon now it’s really not going to be all that bad outside.

Through the fault of no one in particular, weather forecasters across the city have been predicting doom and gloom on and off most of the winter and, as is typical in Portland, the result has been a lot more gloom than doom.

It’s hard to be mad at them though one woman wrote to a local station saying she thought it was typical that a man would promise seven inches only to deliver two.

It’s worth noting that there doesn’t seem to be any truth to the rumor that the weather guys were all paid off by Les Schwab or one of the other tire shops looking to clear their inventory of chains and snow tires.

And given the fact that Portland, despite being in the shadow of several mountains more than 10,000 feet tall, is unable to deal with snow on any sort of logical level, it’s important to let people know what might happen.

At the supermarket the day before the last “storm” people were lined up at checkout with carts full of supplies as if they weren’t going to be able to get out of their house for weeks once the storm set in. Even under the worst case scenario, it wasn’t going to be that bad.

But living in Portland with snow in the forecast is like living in a city filled with Jewish grandmothers: You never know… better safe than sorry.

But that’s what life is like in the city where there seems to be just a little bit of rain pretty every day. Certainly during those glorious days of summer (roughly July 5-13) when there is nary a cloud in the sky.

The rest of the time there is rain in one of its various forms. Forecasters in Portland seem to have as many words and phrases for it as Eskimos apocryphally have for snow. Rain. Showers. Scattered showers. Thunderstorms. Sprinkles. And, my favorite, filtered sunshine.

It’s often so wet in Portland that seagulls fly inland from the Columbia and Willamette Rivers only to find themselves disappointed. I don’t get it, the gulls say, if it’s this wet there really should be fish.

The thing you have to remember about rain in Portland can be summed up by looking at how Groundhog Day is celebrated.

While the rest of the country uses it as a barometer indicating whether or not it will be an early Spring, in Portland, it’s different.

In Portland, they take out the groundhog and if the little guy doesn’t drown, it means five more months of rain.

If it does rain, it also means five more months of rain.

And you have to buy a new groundhog.

Who is Doitchen Krasev?

In Crime, Strange, World on January 26, 2011 at 5:21 am

In the Spring of 2009, an inspector for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission named Jason Evers was arrested when it turned out that he had stolen the identity of a three-year-old boy who had been murdered in Ohio several years before.

For several weeks, the msn refused to give authorities any clues as to his real identity. When he did, it turned out to be quite a story.

On Thursday, he will be in Federal Court in Portland to be sentenced for identity fraud. The family of the real Jason Evers will be in attendance.

Here is a story I wrote about Evers for KGW.Com

***

In the Spring of 2009, an inspector for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission named Jason Evers was arrested. It turned out he was not Jason Evers who had been a three-year-old who had been murdered in Ohio several years before. After being arrested, the man refused for weeksnto give the authorities any clue as to his real identity. When he did,it was quite a story. Here’s the story I did fir KGW about the mystery.

Krasev will be sentenced in Federal Court in Portland on Thursday. The family of the real Jason Evers will be among those in attendance.

Jason Evers. Dutch Kiser. Danny Kaiser. Doitchin Krasev.

While it turns out that the former Bend-based investigator for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has been known by several names over the years, his real identity is Doitchin Krastev, an immigrant from Sofia, Bulgaria.

His grandfather, for whom he is named, was a leading Bulgarian general who was a hero in the partisan fight against

Adolph Hitler.

His father, Dr. Dincho Krastev, is a noted mathematician and the director of the Central Library of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. His mother, Baychinska, is one of the leading Jungian scholars in Eastern Europe.

“Doitchin is so smart, he had so much potential to become a leader in his country,” according to Michael Horowitz, a former Reagan Administration official who helped Doitchin come to the United States and acted as a surrogate father to him here. “It is such a sad tale.”

Horowitz is now the director of Hudson Institute’s Project for Civil Justice Reform and Project for International Religious Liberty in Washington D.C.

Horowitz said he was in Moscow in the early 1990s as part of a trip through Eastern Europe to look for marketing opportunities in the aftermath of the fall of Communism when he met the press secretary to Czech President Vaclav Havel.

“She told me to go to Sofia and meet a friend of hers from college,” Horowitz remembers. “That’s how I met Dincho, his wife and their son, Doitchin.”

At the time, according to Horowitz, many of Eastern Europe’s top scientists were in an unusual position. They had a certain amount of freedom from politics but often made little money and, thus, were limited in how much they could provide for their children.

“Doitchin’s parents, their friends, their families, these were people we were privileged to meet,” said Horowitz. “We wanted to do what we could to help them.”

Of course, at the time, he had no idea where the story would lead. How Doitchin would change names – change identities over the years – eventually reaching the point where he is now, a former OLCC investigator facing federal charges for allegedly stealing the identity of a three-year-old boy in Ohio who was murdered 28 years ago.

How Doitchin would only be caught when he tried applying for a passport under the assumed identity.

A U.S. EDUCATION

The more that Horowitz and his wife got to know Krastev’s parents, the closer they became.

That’s when they came up with the idea of offering up their home to Doitchin so he could live in the United States and get an education here. Everyone thought it was a great idea.

Horowitz says it didn’t take long for Doitchin to adjust though there were obstacles.

“He had been at Georgetown Day (a prestigious prep school) for about a month and he came home one day and was just amazed,” Horowitz recalled. “Not only did nobody cheat, they turned people in for cheating, he said. It was so different from Bulgaria.”

“In my country, everyone cheats,” Horowitz remembered the young man saying, “Here people are so lucky because even when they lose, they win because they live in a country of rules.”

“More and more,” Horowitz said, “he was identifying with being an American and less with his native country.”

One day, Horowitz noticed that Krastev had dropped the ‘t’ from his last name, making it sound, the young man thought, less Bulgarian.

“I asked him about that,” he said. “We would talk about the missing ‘t’ and I would say to him, Doitchin, we are so happy to have you here, you have added so much to our lives. But what do you want from life? You could find a place in nice American city and have a life with a white picket fence or you could home and with your skills be a leader in industry, a leader in your country.”

Krastev rejected the idea of returning.

Horowitz said he told him “I’m not Bulgarian.’ Apparently, the thought of being here was what really appealed to him. He rejected being a Bulgarian with such an intensity.”

DROPPING OUT

After Krastev dropped out of college and disappeared, Horowitz and his wife hired a private investigator to try and find him.

“We didn’t know if he was alive, if he had died, it was so horrible, the not-knowing,” said Horowitz who now realizes that, in trying to find Krastev, they were probably driving him farther away.

“It really is a horrible irony,” he said. “We really think that he knew we were trying to find him and he didn’t want to be found. And that’s what drove him to take new identities. The fact is he also had to have known that he was here as an illegal alien and that he ran the risk of being deported.”

That, Horowitz said, may actually be the greatest irony, the greatest sadness from his point of view.

“He wanted to be an American. He knew that he had to live a careful life, a good life because if he didn’t, there was the possibility, the likelihood that he would have to leave. And, from all indications, he did live a good life. I spoke with his lawyer who told me about all the people he had touched, all the people who were offering testimony on his behalf. He built a real life for himself.”

“The problem, the irony,” Horowitz said, “is that by leading such a good life, he has put himself in a real dilemma. He faces charges of aggravated identity theft, which is an anti terrorism law that gives prosecutors very little leeway when it comes to granting leniency. And by leading such a good life, he’s got absolutely nothing to offer prosecutors and faces the very real likelihood that he will have to go to prison and then be thrown out of the country.”

“A TERRIBLE SADNESS”

Horowitz said that’s what makes the situation so hard for him, his wife and Krastev’s parents.

“On one hand, we are so very glad he is alive. We are so glad that he was able to build such a good life. On the other hand, there is such a terrible sadness as to how it is going to end up.”

Horowitz also makes it very clear that he understands that in assuming the identities of others, Krastev committed crimes. And while he understand that the family of Jason Evers, the murdered boy from Ohio whose identity Krastev assumed, feels violated, he thinks there is another way to look at it.

“I know this might be hard but I think that, if for a second, they could look at it not as Doitchin stole their son’s identity but that the boy’s tragic death allowed Doitchin to live life as American, maybe they won’t feel quite so violated.”

Horowitz knows that might be a long shot.

“Right now we’re still trying to figure it all out and figure out what the next steps are going to be and when we can see him. There are so many emotions at play.”