Thursday, April 23, 2015

People v. Brothers (Cal. Ct. App. - April 21, 2015)

For those who believe child molesters deserve to die, I wonder what the reaction is to this fact pattern:

"Early in the morning of December 5, 2005 Brothers learned information that caused her to believe Gates had sexually molested Mimi and John. Brothers immediately summoned Gates to the main house to interrogate him about the alleged sexual abuse. She also asked Sidney to get Robinson from across the street. Within a few minutes of Robinson’s arrival, Brothers’s boyfriend, Sam Persons, also arrived at the house with his adult nephew, Christopher Yancy. According to the prosecution, Gates denied molesting the children but Brothers did not believe him. She beat Gates, striking him in the head and face multiple times with a broomstick with such force the stick broke in half. Then, Persons, Yancy and Brothers tied Gates up and moved him to the garage where they continued to beat him about the face and body and burn him with cigarettes. One of the men shoved a large cloth gag down Gates’s throat, causing him to suffocate. Los Angeles County Deputy Coroner Dr. Paul Gliniecki, who performed the autopsy on Gates, opined Gates had died of asphyxiation due to airway obstruction and other contributing factors, including blunt force trauma. After the beating, Brothers returned to the main house and told Robinson, “It’s over.” Gates’s body was found the next day on the side of the freeway. His hands were bound, and his body was covered by a plastic tarp that had been set on fire."

Assume for a moment that Ms. Brothers was right about the molestation.  Justice?  Just result, but unjust process?

Ms. Brothers was initially convicted of first degree murder, but the Court of Appeal reversed this conviction based on erroneous instructions.  The second jury convicted her only of voluntary manslaughter.

The Court of Appeal affirms.