Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Nightmare Continues

Our nightmare continued when we learned that the sheriff’s department wanted to talk with Joel and might charge him as an accomplice to murder because he was driving. Joel talked to his attorney, Billie Trujillo (recommended by Todd’s attorney, Phil Tate), who advised Joel that the others in the truck have already talked to the sheriff’s department and that Joel needs to make a deal with the prosecutor.

Bill advised Joel to talk to his attorney and tell the truth; Joel has stated that Todd said in the jeep that he’d punctured the tire on the truck. Trujillo, who was supposed to be representing our son, sent Joel out of the room while he made telephone calls to the prosecutor and led Joel in the process of guessing what it was the prosecutors wanted to hear in order not to be charged with being an accomplice to murder.

When Joel finally guessed close enough, they offered him a deal. Joel knew that Todd had stated that he’d stabbed a tire, but he had to add a level of ambiguity; Joel said “they want me to say that Todd said ‘I stabbed one of them’”(meaning tire). Trujillo nods and the deal is made. Later, Trujillo arranged for Joel to meet with the investigator, Jeff Nohr, and the original prosecutors in the case, Amy Mullaney and Stephanie Rikeman; Trujillo himself didn't show up for this meeting. When Joel called Trujillo, he's unavailable, and Trujillo’s receptionist says he must have forgotten about the meeting. However, when Joel does reach him before the meeting begins, Trujillo advised Joel to go ahead with the meeting without him.

Joel is a 21-year-old young man, representing himself in front of the prosecutors and investigator, despite the fact that he is paying to be represented by counsel! Joel’s father Bill was outraged and called Trujillo to express his outrage at this abandonment. Trujillo told Bill it was none of his business, that Joel was his client.

During this meeting, Joel told Nohr, Mullany and Rikeman, that Todd was nowhere near the victim and that according to the discovery, they have found no blood on Todd’s knife. Mullany says, “Not yet, but we will.” (She made good on her promise; the knife was “missing” in the evidence room for two months; when it resurfaced and was delivered to CBI, the black debris, previously documented as being present, was gone and a microscopic amount of blood, previously documented as absent, was found on the knife.) The prosecutors then argued that Todd cleaned his knife – unbelievable since the knife was clearly not cleaned by nature of the fact that it was identified as having black debris on it by the detective who examined it!).

Throughout the time Trujillo was paid to represent Joel, he spent his time with Joel proselytizing rather than providing adequate legal counsel. Notably, Trujillo was promoted to magistrate shortly after this event and before Todd went to trial. We did hire a competent attorney to represent Joel prior to Todd’s trial.

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