Follow the Evidence Wherever it Leads, and Question Everything

Neil deGrasse Tyson

30 replies on “Follow the Evidence Wherever it Leads, and Question Everything”

There are people on here who will try to explain, rationalize, and even justify the very long delays that are occurring with this trial. I don’t need to name names. They talk about the case complexity, or the judge needs this, or the defense wanted that, and so on. But, these long delays are more of a California plague, not a national one.
Here’s an example:
https://www.npr.org/2018/12/07/674672922/james-alex-fields-unite-the-right-protester-who-killed-heather-heyer-found-guilt

Virginia man arrested 16 months ago for murder.
And here we are today. Not only has his trial started, it’s already over. Oh, and the jury already decided, and convicted him.
16 months, from ARREST to CONVICTION. In a MURDER case.

Sooooooo, how long since Merritt was arrested? Four years, and one month.
Has his trial started? Barely
Any verdict yet? Not even close.

We need to understand, that the problem is mainly CALIFORNIA.
Other states know how to do this process better. This state is an effen mess.

You don’t notice any difference between the case against Chase Merritt and the case against James Alex Fields Jr?

For starters, there was no debate as to whether Fields ran his car into the crowd, only why he did so. Chase Merritt claims he murdered no one. Two entirely different types of cases.

Hi
Do you know if this trial will be televised? I noticed a limited media doc but was unable to pull it up.

Apparently there is a film company (TSG) that got some type of permission to film. Someone commenting here said that this footage could then be sold to news stations. And perhaps we’ll see clips from the trial.

My sense is that this trial won’t be live-streamed, though. California seems to be pretty strict about this sort of thing. I had asked one of the live-stream court channels if they would cover the trial, but they told me it was not easy to get permissions for live-stream in California.

Something that I feel the need to address is the notion that somehow, because I want to be certain that the right person is being convicted, that it follows that I don’t care about the victims of these brutal murders.

The opposite is true.

It is because I care about the victims (and the potential for future victims), that it matters so much to me that the state gets it right. And it would be true to say that I also don’t want innocent people incarcerated (or killed) for crimes they did not commit. A person wrongfully convicted is also a victim.

If you haven’t done any real research into this case, then accusing me of not caring is extremely hypocritical. How much do you care about the victims of any crime, if the only effort you are willing to exert, is reading an article or two? The McStay murder case is unique in that there is a lot of information made available to the public, pre-trial. If you really give a damn about the victims, read up.

If you can’t discuss the details of this case, I would suggest you haven’t done enough to be certain of anything. So accusing someone else of not caring is nonsense. Maybe you need to take a harder look into why you are commenting on a case you have put so little real time and effort into understanding.

At this point I’m almost convinced that Merritt himself is the reason for these long delays and continual postponements.
Assume for a moment that you were accused in four first-degree murders. Also assume you were 100% innocent. You didn’t commit the crimes, and you know you didn’t commit the crimes. And assume you had been in prison many years now, accused of these murders that you didn’t commit. So, what would you would be thinking? What would be the one, constant, chronic, never-ending thought that racked your brain, every moment of the day? Well, I suggest it would be something like this: “Oh my God! Why is this happening to me? Why am I in here? This is horrible. How do I get out of here? Why won’t they let me go? I have done NOTHING wrong!!!! This is insane! I am getting older and older, and watching my life slip away and being wasted in this jail! Why am I in here? Why is this taking so long????”
I propose that any normal, innocent person—especially one who was 61 years old—would be freaking out, as they were watching their life being drained away in prison. Such a person would be on the phone with their attorney every single day, saying “Do whatever it takes to start that trial ASAP. Tomorrow if possible. Get me out of this hellhole. I am 100% innocent, so I want to go to trial and proof of my innocence will come out.”

But, seemingly, NONE of that is happening. In fact, it’s just the opposite. All we get is stall, stall, stall, stall. And most of this stalling is coming from Merritt’s defense team.

Sooooo, if a 100% innocent person would be clamoring to get out of prison, no matter what, and ASAP, then what does it tell you when a defendant is instead stalling, and seemingly trying to stay in prison as long as possible? What does such a strange behavior tell you about such a defendant?

At this point, I have almost zero confidence we will see this trail start before 2020. Seriously.
In fact, it could be even longer than that.

But, flipping that script, imagine for a moment that the case presented against you is one that is highly technical in nature. That innocent people have been convicted on this very type of evidence when it was not countered properly by the defense at trial. That you have limited financial means, so you can’t demand that your attorneys put aside all other cases and focus only on yours.

I have no idea if Chase Merritt is guilty or not. But this case is complex and built on a lot of inconclusive evidence. And sometimes it is actually more difficult to make a case for innocence, when you are innocent.

“He told me that ‘an innocent man in a case like mine is absolutely useless to his defense attorneys.’ And it was true-1 knew nothing about the crime, had no explanation, could point to no suspects or offer any provable alternative explanations for what had happened to Chris. I was clueless. White told me ‘that wasn’t surprising, that a truly innocent man is the hardest kind of defendant to represent.”

Michael Morton
https://www.innocenceproject.org/cases/michael-morton/
Incarcerated 24 years while the actual killer of his wife went on to kill again.

I was all set for this trial to start on July 27, and now we see it’s postponed AGAIN(what is this, like the 9th or 10th delay????) for THREE more months.
This is totally disgusting and infuriating.
My thoughts on this, in no particular order:

Justice delayed is justice denied. “”Justice delayed is justice denied” is a legal maxim meaning that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all. This principle is the basis for the right to a speedy trial and similar rights which are meant to expedite the legal system, because it is unfair for the injured party to have to sustain the injury with little hope for resolution.”
Chase Merritt is 60 years old. He’s not in great health. His life expectancy is perhaps 10 to 15 more years. The longer this trial is delayed, the larger the risk that he will either die before a verdict is reached, or he will become too sick to actually attend the trial.
Relatives of the McStay family: It is critical in our system of justice, that the victims (in this case, the survivors of the McStay family….) are able to attend a trial and see that justice is done. The longer it takes to start and complete a trial, the more likely it is that survivors will pass away or become too sick to attend.
Taxpayer costs: The longer it takes to start a trial, the larger the taxpayer costs are. Each and every delay increases costs to the courts. Each and every delay increases the costs of Merritt’s court-appointed attorneys, which we ALL pay for in our state taxes. Another thing to ponder: What is Merritt is not guilty? This means that the state is paying thousands of dollars to keep an innocent man in jail. Every single delay in starting and finally rendering that verdict, is a delay that costs the taxpayers thousands of dollars to keep this man in jail.

Overall, there is almost zero common sense to these delays. This state badly needs some justice system overhaul and new strict guidelines for scheduling trials. There would be nothing wrong with instituting some hard-fast “limit of days per stage” in the system. As it is, we have an absurd open-ended justice system, where the people that run the courts act as if they have unlimited time, and budget, to take a trial through the system. This is unsustainable.

“Justice delayed is justice denied.”

What do you consider “justice”, to be?

Gravitas, I don’t exactly what kind of problems you have. I don’t know, maybe you had the courts or cops mess you up years ago, and you’re out for payback or something.
But, I do know that you consistently take the side of the accused here, rather than the side of the grieving relatives of the McStay family. It’s as if you have completely forgotten that 4 people were viciously murdered. How you’re able to shut that out of your mind and go forward with your Merritt-defending angles…..I haven’t a clue.

What do you consider “justice”, to be?

Here are a few more questions for you:

1) Have you read the Preliminary Hearing Transcript on this case?

2) Have you read the published search warrants?

(This is a place of ideas and intellect, not personal attack. There are plenty of forums you can post on that cater to insult over intellect. Feel free to visit those.)

“This is a place of ideas and intellect, not personal attack. There are plenty of forums you can post on that cater to insult over intellect. Feel free to visit those.)”

Gravitas, before I reply, I need to ask you: Do you own this website? Is “mcstayfamilymurdersthetrial.com” your personally owned domain? And, are you the person who makes the rules on this website?

I’m not trying to be a smartass. I sincerely want to know the answers to these questions.

And, in checking for periodic updates, I’m back here, again. I just saw the postponement until 29 October 2018 with a prospected start of trial for January 2019, and it’s just infuriating.
Five years…5 YEARS!…and still waiting.
For what is Judge Michael Smith waiting? For Merritt to die of natural causes? This is absurdity. Perhaps SBCSO did well in their investigation, but the SBC Court is allowing the Defense to abuse the system with repetitive delays, which they seem to have incrementally planned.
When will the Prosecution actually care to object to these delays?

Yesnia,

Your frustration is understandable, the justice system is a complex and slow moving beast. Death penalty cases, on average, take a long time to get to trial. I would imagine, in large part because of what is at stake. We are talking about a trial that could end in our killing a man. We do want to be very careful who we kill, right? If we err, there are no do-overs. And at Merritt’s age, even if he were to appeal a “wrongful conviction”, he might not live to see the outcome. Appeals can take decades to prevail.

And speaking of this, if it’s any concern for you, the justice system moves even slower in correcting itself, than it does in convicting. Ryan Ferguson spent 10 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Michael Morton, 24. Kevin Green, 16. William Barnhouse, 25. Marvin Anderson, 20, and on and on.

Merritt isn’t going anywhere. He’s in jail. West Valley Detention Center recently lost a lawsuit over it’s mistreatment of inmates (a lawsuit filed by one of Merritt’s ex-attorneys, as a matter of fact). So West Valley Detention Center, is, I’m sure, no Carnival Cruise. It’s probably a pretty miserable place to be.

And this is a complicated trial with no direct evidence. And the type of circumstantial evidence that is being presented is sophisticated and takes time and money to investigate. I’m sure this case cost SBC a pretty penny to put together, and no doubt there is a great deal of expense and time being put in on the side of the defense.

Due process is the cornerstone of a free society and at the center of American values. And there is no due process if a defendant is not able to wage a real defense.

If Merritt is guilty, I’m sure he will be convicted. There is a highly skilled DDA on this case. And allowing the defense the time needed to investigate and present their rebuttal in full, will go a long way, I think, in convincing people that the outcome is correct, whatever that outcome ends up being.

Michael Smith leans pro-death penalty, from what I can tell. He’s a tough judge. So if he’s allowing continuances, he likely has good reasons for this. And his schedule has also been an issue in the delays, as has that of other key players on this case. Merritt may be as anxious as anyone else for his day in court.

It will be interesting to see if having a new District Attorney in charge, will make any difference. Mike Ramos is out of that position come January 2019. Jason Anderson will be the DA in charge then.

You said “We are talking about a trial that could end in our killing a man. ”
Come on, you know very well that nobody is going to be executed in CA.
One, there have been ZERO executions in this state in almost 13 years. Two, the state has little or no intention start executions again.
And finally, look who’s about to become Governor: Gavin Newsom.
Barring some kind of miracle from God, Gavin will become governor in January.
The man is a flaming liberal and rabidly anti-death penalty. Meaning, even IF the death penalty was technically re-activated in this state, it will be EASY for any condemned prisoner to get Newsom to stop any execution.

So, lets please stop the nonsense about “killing a man”.
You and I know that will never happen.

Proposition 66.

Championed by none other than departing DA Mike Ramos.

As this is a death penalty case, the question put to the jury is: will we, as citizens of the state of California, decide to kill Chase Merritt? The jury may decide something else, but this is what a death penalty case is about. We decide whether we are going to kill a man.

According to a recent news article, the defense has more investigation to do. If you’ve been following closely, you might recall that the defense subpoenaed records from T-Mobile. T-Mobile didn’t immediately comply. It’s unclear if the defense finally got the records requested, and also not certain that this is what they are investigating. But it seems reasonable to assume this could be what they need extra time to look into.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/courts/sd-me-mcstay-postponed-20180718-story.html

Obfuscation and delay, delay, delay. That should tell you something. The jurors should be told how long this guy was allowed to play his games before this tragedy goes to trial. I thought he had a heart condition and was supposed to keel over at any moment!

My thoughts exactly. Disgusting display of manipulation and shouldn’t be allow. In saying that, the prosecutor called in sick for the last hearing. Shameful to that poor grieving family.

At the end, of each trial day, filmmaker Jon Knautz, will share his footage, with the media. There, will be no livestreaming.

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