Tuesday, November 24, 2020

People v. Schultz (Cal. Supreme Court - Nov. 23, 2020)

Sometimes you put yourself in a pickle.  This one's definitely a pickle.

Michael Schultz gets sentenced to prison in 1996.  He serves most of his sentence and, in 1999, gets transferred to a low security fire camp, and is about to get out.

The problem (for Mr. Schultz) is that he killed someone during a residential burglary six years ago -- a murder that had never been solved.  But in 1999, Mr. Schultz started to hear that they were trying to pull some DNA from the victim (who had been raped), and he thought they'd shortly ask to pull DNA from him in prison in order to see if it was a match.

So he's like to escape from prison before that transpired.

He'd been dating someone from around the time of the murder, the couple had continued their relationship (of a sort) while he was in prison for the unrelated offense, and the two were now engaged to be married.  So Mr. Schultz thinks -- not irrationally -- that his fiance might potentially be willing to help him escape.  Which shouldn't be all that hard since he's in a low security environment at this point anyway.

But, not surprisingly, when he asks his fiance to help him escape, she's incredulous.  Why does he want to escape when he's about to be released (and the parties married) in six months anyway?!  That sounds crazy.  Doesn't make any sense at all, so without more information, no way she's willing to help.

So the pickle is:  Does he tell her about the murder?

On the one hand, it might make her more willing to help him escape.  On the other hand, she's likely to be more than a little bit miffed about the murder and rape, especially since it transpired when the parties were dating.  Plus it's a murder.  Not exactly what you want to hear about your fiance.

That's a toughie.

He ultimately decides to tell her.  Which leads to her telling other people.  Which leads to him being turned in to the police.  Which leads to his conviction and death sentence.  Which the California Supreme Court promptly affirms.

Wrong call (for him), apparently.