Saturday, March 15, 2008

How an Innocent Person is Convicted, Part 2: Cultivation of Ingnorance

The cold gray November day flowed in from the street as I opened the door of our house to what turned out to be a plainclothes detective from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. The chill followed him inside. "We want to talk to your son, Joel," he said.

Joel was at his apartment near the Colorado Springs campus of the University of Colorado, where he was working on his since-finished degree in chemistry. We asked why the detective wanted to speak with Joel. The answer seemed less than forthcoming. The detective said Joel had witnessed an event the preceding night--not a big deal, the detective said, "just a minor tiff--no not even a minor tiff." Just a trivial thing.

It sounded disingenuous. If this event were so minor, why a plainclothes officer, why a Saturday afternoon?

Gloria, my wife, called Joel at his apartment and told him to come to our house. When Joel arrived, the detective wanted Joel to come downtown with him. We demurred. The detective retreated to the cul-de-sac in front of our house.

Inside, the phone rang. Gloria took the call upstairs. Afterwards, she called to Joel and to me, "That was Officer Shannon from the Sheriff's Office. He said that last night Brad Orgill stabbed someone and killed him. They need to talk to Joel and Todd as witnesses."

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