The Case was the People vs. Effrain Velasco – Palacios in Kern County California. In 2013, Palacios was accused of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 14 years of age. During plea negotiations a transcript of the police interview was requested by defense attorney Ernest Hinman of the public defender’s office after Hinman was informed by Prosecutor Robert Murray that his office was considering withdrawing the charges to include much more aggravating charges that would include allegations of penetrative acts with exposure to a life sentence following the rejection of a plea offer which included 8 years in prison.
Murray provided transcripts that he altered to include two fabricated lines in support of the more aggravating charges. Those lines were:
“[DETECTIVE]: You’re so guilty you child molester.”
“[DEFENDANT]: I know. I’m just glad she is not pregnant like her mother.”
After the Palacios denied that those lines were ever spoken, with the defense attorney finding something suspicious about the abrupt ending of the transcript, Defense Attorney Hinman requested the actual recorded CD’s of the interview.
Prosecutor Murray never provided them, and when his feet were put to the fire over the issue, he admitted to fabricating the evidence.
The trial court dismissed all charges against Palacios, citing that the behavior of the prosecutor’s misconduct was “egregious, outrageous and….shocked the conscience”, but the story didn’t end there. The People appealed the dismissal through the Attorney General’s Office. Prosecutor Murray stated that the fabrication was done as a joke, and Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Assistant Michael P. Farrell, and Deputy Attorney General’s R. Todd Marshal and Larenda Delaini supported him to overturn the dismissal.
Luckily, the appellate court for the 5th district of California saw through the argument and upheld the lower court’s decision to dismiss, but was that corrective action enough to instill accountability for the actions of the Prosecutor? What kind of message does just having charges dismissed send to prosecutors who may have an emotional reaction to heinous crimes and want to ensure a conviction? It’s okay to fabricate evidence as long as you don’t get caught? And, if you do, you will only lose the case by dismissal.
Under those situations, how many cases are out there that prosecutors did the same thing and did not get caught doing it, and how does that serve society’s interests based on our legal principals.
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One of the most overlooked things through this whole process is that there has been no personal accountability for the Prosecutor that fabricated the evidence, nor has there been any consideration of our laws regarding the crimes that he actually committed in doing so. However, there have been these people that are supposed to be the integrity of society, fighting for truth and justice … people that are bound by ethical rules to report misconduct to licensing organizations and report crimes to appropriate law enforcement entities in an effort to protect the fabric of society who are not only looking the other way, but covering up for their colleague.
Upon checking on the status of Prosecutor Robert Murray it was found that Mr. Murray is still employed by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, and when asked if there was any disciplinary proceedings in process we were told “any disciplinary issues are a personnel matter that we will not discuss.”
We further contacted the State of California’s Office of the Attorney General for comment and to inquire as to whether there will be criminal charges lodged against Murray. They responded by sending us a pre-written statement that appears as if it was generated before they took appeal, in other words after the trial court originally dismissed the charges in 2013. We sent a further request, once again asking the specific question as to whether they would be filing charges against Murray since the appellate court ruling this year. The attorney general’s office did not replay. Obviously there is no intent to add accountability to this broken system, by the people that could have the greatest impact of insuring that the criminal acts will not be repeated in the future.
The question remains, should we, and more particularly the people of California, now stand up and demand that the United States Justice Department step in and not only file charges against Murray for his actions, but also file charges against the California Attorney General’s office for aiding and abetting the commission of a crime and dereliction of duty? It is ironic that California currently has a law on the books that allows people to be punished for supporting gang activity, as conspirators in illegal acts of a gang, with such a low threshold as to being able to press charges for simply posing in pictures displaying gang signs.
Once again, we see the predatory system of “Just us” rather than “justice”. As author Judge Andrew Napolitano writes in several of his books, “it is time for a revolution.”