Sunday, September 06, 2009

Murder conviction overturned

The San Jose paper reports:
Rena Alspaw was only 16 when she pulled out a stolen pistol along an isolated wooded trail and shot her ex-boyfriend four times — three to the body and one to the back of the head.

After a brief trial in 1994, the San Jose teen was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years to life.

Now, fifteen years later, a judge has taken the rare step of voiding that guilty verdict, opening up the possibility that the girlish-looking 31-year-old killer with long auburn hair could be retried — or even freed — on the grounds that she was a battered woman.

What makes this case so unusual is that Alspaw isn't a classic battered woman. She didn't live with the man she killed, and he didn't physically abuse her, except for handcuffing her once against her will. But there's evidence he harassed her, including calling the police on her for no reason and broadcasting insults about her over a loudspeaker. His violent past, and the threat of violence are what Alspaw contends made her a battered woman.

Her case is getting a second look thanks to a 2002 state law that allows certain convictions to be overturned because jurors didn't get a chance to take into account substantial evidence of the role of battering.
No, she was not physically abused. Her complaint is that the jury was not told that her victim had served time for killing cats!
But most compelling might be Swanson's substantial record of animal cruelty.

"All you need," said Kelly, Alspaw's lawyer, "are animal lovers on the jury."
This is crazy. She confessed to a cold-blooded premeditated murder of her boyfriend. Are cat lovers going to excuse this because he was a cat-killer? If so, I would favor keeping all the cat lovers off the jury.


Anonymous said...

it may be a little more convoluted than the scores of dogs and cats Sean and his carload of boys slaughtered for amusement near my home. How does 50 - 80 animals grab ya? Those are just the parts of the ones that all seemed to fit together by color or shape, one of which was turned into a mile long stripe on the boulevard.

Anonymous said...

whoa, a mile? musta been a really fat cat! I know Sean was eaten by mountain Lions when the Sherriff eventually found what was left of him in the woods, is that poetic justice or irony?

Anonymous said...

Had all the evidence been brought out and the facts about who HE REALLY was she would never have gotten 30 years... Case closed.. I hope the new jury is full of animal lovers