Friday, November 19, 2004

It Is a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird

“A great weight has been lifted…As far as what they wanted me to say, I wasn't going to lie." – Earle Caldwell, after being released from co-conspiracy charges on October 31, 2003.


Earle Caldwell, Robert Blake’s former co-defendant, appeared in court today to invoke his the Fifth Amendment right. This was not unexpected as the District Attorney’s office can re-file co-conspiracy charges against Caldwell and Blake at any time. In fact, LA assistant district attorney Shellie Samuels told the court when she issued the subpoena that she had expected Caldwell’s reaction.

Outside court, Caldwell’s lawyer, Dana Cole, said that the prosecution has never offered Caldwell immunity in exchange for his testimony.

The prosecution is not obligated to offer deals for testimony. But if the prosecution knew Earle Caldwell would take the Fifth, why subpoena him and not offer him immunity?

The prosecution has already established that their case against Blake is based on circumstantial evidence. “No DNA evidence, no fingerprints, and no eyewitnesses,” according to Samuels. The prosecution has, in the last two weeks, prepped the jury to consider convicting on circumstances instead of relying on physical evidence.

But circumstantial evidence in this case seems to have been driven largely by media innuendos and things that appear suspicious because the parties involved have not told their side of the story.

A few weeks before the murder, Bakley, Blake and Caldwell took a camping trip. Allegedly, Caldwell jumped out of the bushes waving a gun and crying, “I can’t do it.” Bakley told this story to her sister, her friends, and even her attorney --many people who could corroborate at least the story as she told it. Oddly, she didn’t tell anyone who could have done something about it – the police, the park ranger, the campground staff. Even more odd is the fact that, after her life was threatened, she returned home with Blake and Caldwell.

Remember, Bakley was preparing for a custody battle, too.

It may be that Caldwell did come out of the bushes shooting, with a camera, that is, as evident by the pictures of the trip that were published in the media after her death.

Still, the DA listed the story as an overt act against Caldwell and Blake, and Lead Detective Ito noted that Caldwell “lost his nerve.”

It’s kind of like putting a dot in front of the words, “25 – auto --".

The infamous murder tools list was one of the sparse pieces of physical evidence the DA held against Caldwell. A list found folded in the cupholder of Caldwell’s Jeep, with no date, smudged, and dirty. A list of items not used in the murder.

The police decided that due to the circumstances, the list must have been part of some master murder scenario, and focused their attentions on the items “25 -- auto –-" and “get blank gun ready” as key elements of the plan. In fact, the lead detective felt so strongly this was a murder tools list, that he inserted a period before the “25” just to make sure everyone else came to the same conclusion.

Caldwell’s attorney stated that the notation “25 -- auto –“ refers to a notation for a 25,000 mile auto service check and that also found in Caldwell’s car was a receipt for such a service. Further, he stated that a “blank gun” could be a prop gun used in the movies, and that no one to his knowledge has ever been killed with a blank gun. Whatever its meaning, the word “auto” is set apart from the “25” by dashes, almost like “auto” is an afterthought to add meaning to the “25” and not part of the phrase “25 auto.”

Put some innuendos in front of circumstances and what you come up with may be some assumptions based on false premises. The jury in the Blake case is tasked to decide a man’s fate based on a set of circumstances. To be fair, they must hear all sides.

One might assume, for example, given the circumstances surrounding Caldwell’s subpoena, that the prosecution does not want Caldwell’s testimony heard, but wants the jury pool to know he has exercised his Fifth Amendment right. One might also assume that because many of the potential jurors questioned about "innocent until proven guilty" do not understand the concept, the prosecution believes that many of the jurors and the public do not understand why one would exercise his Fifth Amendment right unless he had something to hide.

But these are only assumptions. The prosecution has not explained its actions or its motive in regard to Earle Caldwell.

We will have to wait to hear Robert Blake’s explanation of the circumstancial evidence against him. Much will be explained by other witnesses. However, we will never know the explanation of circumstances from Earle Caldwell, the one closest to Blake at the time of Bakley. The prosecution has effectively silenced him.

Perhaps Lady Justice should remove her blindfold. She may be shocked at what she sees. But then, it’s all about winning, isn’t it?

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