Monday, March 10, 2008

Deferred Sentences and a Quid Pro Quo

Dennis Huspeni reports in today's Colorado Springs Gazette about the local DA's use of deferred sentences. Assistant District Attorney Amy Mullaney defended the practice saying, "District attorneys are mandated to seek justice, not just to convict everyone or send everyone to prison. Sometimes good people just make a mistake."

Such use of deferred sentences makes good sense; however, Mullaney avoids raising the issue of the deferred sentence that serves as a quid pro quo--a deferral in exchange for services rendered, typically testimony favorable to the prosecution in an upcoming criminal trial. That's the very sort of deferred sentence Mullaney arranged for Brad Orgill in exchange for testimony against Todd.

A closer look at the circumstances surrounding Orgill's deferred sentence raises questions that Mullaney may not want to answer. You see, Orgill turns out to be the only person confronting Anthony Madril on the night Madril was killed. Orgill and Madril fought a fierce and bloody fight, which was witnessed by Madril's friends. According to his friend and witness, Chas Schwartz, Madril emerged from the fight saying "I've just been stabbed." Orgill's clothing was covered in Madril's blood.

Despite having been warned by others that a deferral may not be in the best interest of justice, Mullaney offered one to Orgill before the CBI crime lab even received all the evidence in the case. Almost a year after Mullaney gave Orgill the deferred sentence, the Colorado Springs Metro Crime Lab released a report stating that Orgill could not be ruled out as Madril's assailant.

Another item of interest: About four months after being given his deferred sentence, Orgill, then 30, was accused of rape by a nineteen-year-old woman. He admitted to having provided the under-aged woman with alcohol, but insisted that their sexual contact was consensual. The woman received a medical exam, which confirmed sexual contact; the DA's office paid for the exam and the DA's office is listed as a releasee for the medical report.

Orgill told the investigating police officer that he was on a deferred sentence as an accessory to murder. About a month later, the rape accusation was settled in a most curious way: the police officer, Orgill, and Orgill's attorney sat down together, chatted about the attorney's trip to Sturgis, and then made a pretext phone call to the accuser and got her to drop the charges. When queried about the practice of making pretext phone calls to alleged rape victims, both TESSA and CSPD said that such calls would be highly unusual--if ever--made.

Although providing alcohol to a minor is a violation of Orgill's deferral, as far as I know, there have been no repercussions.

The question for Mullaney: Do deferred sentences such as this one serve justice or some other agenda?

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