Thursday, March 24, 2011

People v. Gann (Cal. Ct. App. - March 24, 2011)

I felt something in common with this case.  Though I hope not too in common.

The relevant people live in San Diego.  Just like me.  It's a father and his two kids.  The daughter lives at home (she's 17), and the son goes to college in Arizona.  Just like lots of families in San Diego.

But things aren't great.  The mother killed herself the previous year.  Depressing.  And the father is the kids' stepfather.  He starts dating a new woman a few months after the suicide.  Things are getting serious.  And the daughter isn't feeling all that positive about her stepfather when he tells her that she should be ready to move out of the house once she's 18.

The solution?  Kill him, of course.

Daughter calls up Brother at College.  "Let's kill Father."  "Okay."  They withdraw money from the bank to pay a hit man, retrieve a gun that belonged to her mother, and put the cash, gun and key in a box out back for the hit man to use.  But apparently hiring a hit man involves more than just looking under the letter "H" in the Yellow Pages.  They can't find one.

So they decide to do the job themselves.  They want to kill Father on his birthday.  July 18.  (Hey!  That's my birthday too!)  'Cause nothing makes a birthday special like being killed by your kids.  But Father says he's going to spend his birthday with his girlfriend.  Change of plans.  We'll kill him the day after.

Which they do.

They make it look like a home invasion robbery gone bad.  Which sort of works.  For a while.  When the police interview daughter -- whose hands were tied by the "intruder" just like Father -- she tells the story they've agreed upon.  But slips up, and accidentally says:  "Then Nathan tied my hands."  Which is a problem because the alleged burglar had a black ski mask on, and her brother's name is Nathaniel.

The crack San Diego police department does not miss out on the connection. They write down the name "Nathan" in their interview book.  They also ask Daughter:  "Why'd you say Nathan?"  To which she replies:  "I didn't."  The police:  "Yes you did.  You said Nathan."  Daughter:  "No I didn't."  At which point the police -- being no dummies -- tape record the rest of the conversation.  Thinking, no doubt, that Daughter might not be so entirely innocent in the killing of her stepfather.

The police ultimately release Daughter.  Who then talks to Stepfather's daughter and says that a composite sketch of the intruder put out by the police is inaccurate.  Which Stepfather's Daughter finds interesting since Daughter has always insisted that she never saw the intruder's face.  So how'd she know it was inaccurate?

At which point the police now arrest Daughter.  And she confesses to the whole thing.

And that, my friends, is how crimes actually (1) occur, and (2) are solved.  At least down here in San Diego.

Not exactly CSI, is it?