Guest entry by kathlb
Darren Mack Sentencing – Day 2
Playing a CD of proceedings in Judge Weller's courtroom. It looks like Weller is on the stand watching also. Charla's mother crying. This seems to be proceedings in a hearing concerning setting rules for contact between Charla, Darren and their daughter.
Pros: I am making a record. The relevance was alluded to in my offer to the court. This video was admitted to the trial without objection.
Judge: Actually there were 5 videos and I have watched them all. I think it was relevant.
Pros: Judge Weller would you like to read something to Darren.
Judge Weller: Yes. I was standing in my office that morning and I had a sharp burning sensation in my chest. I thought my cell phone exploded, but it hadn't. Then Annie screamed. I said to call my home and dropped to the floor and crawled out of the office. I called my wife then. Deputies applied pressure to my wound. When I spoke to my wife, I wondered if it would be the last time. Then medics put me in to an ambulance. I was losing a lot of blood. When I arrived at the hospital, I was taken to emergency. I had 5 wounds and they couldn't remove one of the bullets. It's still there. The sniper was still on the loose. Our family's lives have changed. We still live in fear that it will happen again. I got a death threat, which made the same worded threats that Mr. Mack did. Five other judges have received these death threats since Christmas like the one I got from Mr. Mack. It says that they will finish the job he started. No one should have to go through this. Our lives will always be changed because of this. We don't go out like we used to.
I tried to be fair to both of them and their child in court in that matter. Darren Mack wouldn't accept that and instead murdered his wife and shot me. He has demonstrated that he is too dangerous to live in this society. Judge I trust you to do the right thing.
Def: I have no questions.
Judge: Thank you Judge Weller, we will now recess for 10 minutes.
It looked like from what I saw, that Judge Weller was being fair to both of them in that video. Charla's mother was sobbing throughout while seeing her daughter on film. From what I could see, I don't think that it bothered Darren one bit to see her on film. He was sometimes smirking a bit, sometimes looking angry and whispering to his lawyer a lot. Just my observation.
Next Witness for the Pros.
Name: Christopher Broughton - Charla Mack's brother
Christopher: I thank the court to address. I am using her birth name since she should no longer be associated with the name Mack. This has been the most gut wrenching and painful experience of my whole life. I had to see the cold dead corpse of my sister. Once beautiful but now cold and shrunken after killed by a butcher. I had to choose a casket and go through this. I had to face this murderer and his family and their absence of remorse and feeling. I have watched my mother suffer what no mother should have to. I feel she will never recover from this. I have lost my sister and my only sibling and a close friend and confidant. My unborn children will never know their Aunt. After her death I began stuttering again...a childhood affliction that affects my life. As we live in a civilized in society of laws and not men, there are sanctions for this type of thing. Your honor I recommend the strongest punishment. Send him to the far reaches of Nevada. May he die in prison. This will not bring my sister back but it's what I want.
Name: Jan Sampsel - Her father
Jan: I have started this statement in my mind hundreds of times. Every time it's different. Sometimes in sadness and sometimes in rage. Most of the time it's hostile to Darren and his family and his lawyers. No matter how I start it, it ends the same way, my daughter is dead and Darren killed her. I can't bring her back. To me Darren is already dead and so is his family. HE wants everyone to believe that he was threatened by Charla using his own gun. HE murdered her and tried to assassinate a judge. Even now he still tries to justify it. He did it in his divorce case and still is doing it. When his tricks don't work he cries foul by the judge. Then he says he made decisions under duress. He did this in his divorce proceedings and also now in this. Finally when decisions aren't going his way kill the antagonist. He has always had his family covering his tracks. Not this time. The judge probably won't be influenced by any of us. He has made it clear that he will go by the law. I trust he will make a fair decision.
Yesterday Darren talked a lot about Judge Weller and said he coerced him into decisions that weren't in his interest. Then he tried to kill him. He also said the Pros. forced him into the plea agreement and called them all liars. He was talking as passionately about these people as he did Judge Weller. Given the opportunity would he try to kill them too? All of his letters in his behalf said how lovable he was. It's hard to believe a person like that could kill but he did.
I think Darren should be kept away from all of us since no one can predict what he will do. There is also a final reason to keep him out of the public. He killed my daughter. My recommendation is to keep him out of our lives forever.
Name: Soorya Townley - Mother of Charla
Soorya: Your honor I was one of those lucky mothers to be best friends with her daughter. Charla and I chatted two or three things a day. Charla was a person capable of giving wise counsel to me because she herself was wise. She shared almost every intimate thing about her relationship, which sometimes seemed too much to me. But I valued the fact that she felt she could share with me.
WE were great friends. We conquered every difficulty we ever had in our relationship. We were mostly focusing on creating a full life in the rearing of Erika. Charla and Christopher and I were a united happy family. We were fun to be around and laughed a lot I was grateful to have participated in producing such a family.
Judge Herndon, to give you an example, when we were younger we would dress up in dorky costumes and drive around in a milk truck doing skits for birthday parties. She was the funniest person I had ever known. She wanted to sing country western, but she knew she couldn't do that. So she figured out a way to help others. She wanted to do seminars for divorced couples to help them with their children. She flew to Washington DC to learn how to do this and conduct these seminars. She wanted to bring her father and stepmother into the business also. She always wanted to help her family. She promised me that she would take care of me in my old age so I could pursue my dreams also. Ironically and tragically she believed that she could soften his rage and bring him on board so others could learn from their success in working things out. That is all gone now. Charla had planned on having another child. I have been robbed of that experience. All things remind me of her. I am having health problems over it. I have to take medications. I have a deep-seated depression that is hard to shake off. I feel like my body is weighted down. Several times I have let bills go by because I have forgotten them. I have been forced moment to moment. I loved being alone, now I dread it since I then think about losing my daughter. I used to be independent. But I don't belong anywhere now. I feel that I am not connected to anyone now. I am frightened all the time. I am suspicious of strangers and am afraid of shadows. I never used to have these types of thoughts. People used to say we were alike. I am afraid of that now. I know what emotional torture now.
Friends hear her through me since we are so much alike, how can I separate Charla from myself? I don't know. It's like trying to break off pieces of a puzzle. I can't do it. Our love lives on in spite of what has happened. Day to day I can no longer experience the living action in my life. We were supposed to have a destiny together. Now this man has interrupted it. He decided to play God. (she shouted this at him) I don't know if I will ever be able to handle this.
I have always prided myself that I was always naturally balanced and at peace. Darren has robbed me of that. I feel like a soldier on duty. I have my orders. Darren told me in a letter he has to now clean up the shattered pieces that Charla made of their lives.
I know how many friends of Charla’s are tying to get through losing her too. Darren has hurt so many people on this earth. I say all the time that I can't believe this happened. I got shingles after her death. I also have developed asthma. In all these years I have never been ill, but now I have to. The Dr. said that the muscles around my trachea have been hardened. Interesting that Charla's neck was cut right where mine is hardened. I drag myself out of bed and can't find any reason to get back into my spiritual rituals.
A friend Lisa, can't get over this as well. They were like sisters. They shared everything dancing through life with their children. They had been together since infancy. Her children have been so traumatized they are getting therapy. They are afraid that Darren will come and kill them and hide in their closet.
Another friend of Charla's, Shandra has been with me. She and her husband have been deeply affected by this. Her son used to have outings with Charla. He is lost since she is gone. Others also are affected by her death as well as their children.
Judge Weller and his family also. I suffer for them too. Even her housekeeper still grieves. An elderly couple who used to baby-sit Erica. She can't even see Erica now since it hurts them so badly. There are at least 40 children who have been traumatized by this also knowing she was murdered. Words do not reach this kind of magnitude. I wonder if these children are damaged for life and will never trust adults again. Her grandparents have suffered...her aunts and cousins. They would all be here if the court would give them time.
(Darren whispering to lawyer during this)
We all realize that if Charla could be wiped out like that life is fragile. Darren has betrayed me personally on many levels. I thought he was my friend. Charla literally saved his life when he was dying of spinal meningitis. I also did therapy for a year and cooked for him after that while he recuperated. This is how he paid us back.
I think of her lying on that cold dirty floor of that garage. Charla lying in her own river of blood. I see in my mind how her face looks when the examiner held her up to the camera. All of her lager than life personality was gone. The knife wounds to her legs were so massive and deep it would have taken a long time to get the use of them back. Knowing her child was a few feet away had to be devastating to her. Judge Herndon, this is what I think about all the time.
I grieve for Erica for what has dirtied her life. At age 8 she suddenly had to deal with reality. Instead of having a mommy and daddy, playing and going to school. Now she wakes in the middle of the night screaming with nightmares. It might take her a lifetime to get over this. It's challenging for me to be this honest right now since I know some of the Mack family could use this against me to get Erica away. They might say if I am this upset I shouldn't have her. But I have to let you know what it's done to me. There is nothing that can fill the hole she left in my heart. I see geographic sites ...one side of town is where she is buried...one side of town is where she was killed. Another is where she lived and was finally free of him.
I had Charla at 20. I had to say goodbye to my youth to raise her. All of the efforts of raising her to adulthood was worth it. She was a beautiful woman in all ways. She worked very hard to gain her own truths. Darren has taken all of this away from us in a matter of seconds. It's so much nobler to build on life in contrast to a coward's path that takes it all away in seconds.
Charla was better with children than anyone I have met. I am raising her daughter...she should be here to enjoy that. Why am I here instead of her? I need to be watchful and concerned for Erica daily. On top of all this I must manage her feelings after the trauma she has been through. I haven't had time to grieve fully due to taking care of Erica. I took courses to learn how handle this with her and her trauma. Darren's family have fought me all the way trying to get Erica away from me.
I had a wonderful job in an alcohol recovery center. I loved it and was also going to enter the music business. I quit my job after Charla was murdered. In shock, coming back and moved my possessions. We all knew that Erica was in horrible emotional shape. I started from scratch at 60 in a new job to be the caregiver for Erica. Darren has yet to pay a dime in child support. His mother offered but he told her not to.
There is nothing worse than putting your dead daughter's belongings in storage. I've had to look at Darren's smug face showing no remorse. Charla will never get the opportunity to fulfill her dreams. Your honor I'm asking from the bottom of my heart that Darren receive the maximum sentence consecutively. He is a dangerous person. He needs to be kept away to protect the rest of us. Thank you.
Pros: You brought a CD to play for us?
Soorya: Yes... she was pursuing her career in music and she met a couple in the business. There is a song that she wanted to sing for Darren and I thought it would be appropriate now.
They play the song. She sings very well! It's about being true to her and not straying and not lying to her. And to be a man. The song is wonderful and her voice is too. She could have been a hit. The audience is crying. Darren is crying. She says in the song she will love him forever and all she is asking in return is to be true to her, love her and don't stray. Don't lie to her.
I have to say I have tears in my eyes listening to it. What a sad loss. The lawyer for the prosecution is crying.
Pros. No additional questions your Honor.
Judge: Does the state have anyone else?
Pros. No your Honor.
Judge: We will be in recess for a half an hour and I will give the sentencing.
At times during Soorya's speaking with such pain and feeling, the camera would switch to Darren's brother in the courtroom and he was actually smirking at times. I find that so inappropriate and cruel no matter what his thoughts. I think that this family has been running roughshod over people for years and protecting each other. Just a feeling I get since I don't know them, but it seems to permeate the air around them in my mind.
Back in the courtroom:
Judge: It is time set for me to sentence.
For count one first degree murder and also the second degree count with a weapon.
I deny re-opening the matter of the plea.
I think there are a number of things that bear talking about today. There are people at times unhappy with the rulings we make and they can express their feelings. We cannot discuss it on camera, but it doesn't mean that in making rulings we can't discuss the sanctity of these rulings.
It is obvious to me after listening to Mr. Mack and his family and friends and they will not like what I am about to say. But the propriety of these proceedings is important to all of us. All of us. Those who watch this also. They watch and listen and discuss about these proceedings and they need to know that this judicial system works. I want to address this conspiracy thoughts put out there by the Mack's and their attorneys. I remember Lee Harvey Oswald and those circumstances. Mr. Mack has called everyone a liar in the trial and this hearing, I don't know the district attorney here and I don't know Judge Weller personally. I have watched the tapes and you don't change your personality on tape. People don't always like what you say or do but this does not give you the right to go out and shoot someone because you don't like what they say. I have worked with the Pros. since I have become a judge and others you have called liars too. I respect them for the jobs they do. As far as local law enforcement here they are some of the finest individuals I have ever worked with.
The def. has questioned about what justice is. My views on justice are things that are formulated when I was a district attorney and I carry them over. I don’t believe that justice is about arresting and sending people away. Sometimes it’s pleading to a lesser offenses, sometimes it means a case gets dismissed, sometimes they get sentenced, there are a lot of things that can happen in justice. I have gone through every one of those situations. I have advised other attorneys that they need to be open to all of those ideas. If you can't then you don’t belong in the justice system. Justice encompasses all of those things. The other thing that is important to me is how you make those decisions...simply, you do what is right. You know what is right and wrong and you do it with honesty and integrity when you engage in public service. You are always honest and respectful. Def. attorneys have to give it all they have. Sometimes that involves engaging in attacks on law enforcement. I think that you should stay above that. You don’t go out on the courthouse steps and rant about it. I use these guiding principles as a judge and in making sentences. I don't regret a single decision I have made in the past and this sentence today will be fair concerning the evidence that has been presented. Mr. Mack has been treated fairly even if his family doesn't agree. I don't care who is in front of me, whether they contributed to a campaign or not. I will be fair no matter what. I see a problem when one side or the other loses focus. They harp on how they have been wronged, they see what they want and ignore wheat they don't want to see. It's not that the judges have their heads in the sand often, but that one side or the other does.
Mr. Mack is guilty of these crimes but he doesn’t want to hear that. Because I denied the plea removal, I am supposedly a liar and ignored his facts. He criticized that I suppressed the phone calls and other evidence. But that doesn't mean anything now since I denied his plea withdrawal. He said he didn't get a fair trial even after I moved this trail to avoid any problems. I don't begrudge Mr. Mack for having those feelings but I stand behind my actions fully. I leave that to the people of the state to decide on my actions.
I have considered all of the notes and things from the trail, the notes from the plea withdrawal hearing, transcripts, read all of the letters submitted and considered the notes I've taken over the course of this hearing.
I will say that the fact that he wasn’t interviewed by the PSI has no bearing since he was on the stand 3 hours yesterday and the PSI interview would have only been one paragraph. I have all of the info I need concerning his childhood, his life, his children, his family, his history, his child support status, income, assets, military service, mental health and medical history, a character letter from Dr. Hymen, gambling history, substance abuse history and more. I have all of that information on him.
PNPs recommendation has no affect on me and my sentencing. Mine is the only opinion that counts. Sentencing is wholly my prerogative after reviewing the facts. My wife's opinions are important to me but not when I rule a sentence. It's my decision all on my own. I am comfortable with all of that and my feelings and all of the evidence I have reviewed.
I also considered the feelings of those who testified here on both sides in this hearing and also how it affects a small child involved. Sentencing is an art; it's not a science. There are no rules. It's a discretionary rule for the court. There are 4 things involved.
1) Rehabilitation: Can you rehabilitate them. I don’t see that applying here. I don't see issues to rehab here. These are non-probational crimes here with very serious results.
2) Retribution: This is a strong emotional sentencing theory. Like and eye for an eye. I do not as a judge subscribe to this theory although I understand it. Sentencing wholly on retribution is inappropriate just as letting someone go because they have no criminal history.
3) Deterrence: This is vital in this case. What message this will send to others concerns taking action against the judicial system because you don’t like the outcome and shoots someone. This is very important no matter whether it's the gardener, the grocer, etc. We can't condone shooting people because you don't like how they do their job.
4) Incarceration: That is the pure punishment issue. I have to consider a lot of things. I will commend Mr. Mack for some things. I will commend him for the life he led before this act. I do believe he loves his children, has been a good friend, a good son and other things. I believe he has had admirable traits in the past. I admire his family for standing by him. Bonds of blood are eternal.
I have to balance all of those things against the acts. Regarding the murder of Charla, that was set by negotiations. I know how he feels about that. Life in prison is hard, but there is evidence that this crime was brutal. I found things yesterday in his testimony that totally contradicted what he has said before about how the action took place. I am not buying that he put his knee on her neck because of a dog attack. Some of those things he said just don't ring true to me. But that sentence is set.
I have to balance things also against what his family has said about Judge Weller. I have to decide on his sentence today for that.
There is the attempt on his life and also using a deadly weapon.
Regarding mental health experts, they have referred to his being in a state when he shot the judge. He supposedly was under a huge amount of stress. He was past his breaking point.
All of these things seem to mirror the path that the former defense put forth of Temp. Insanity. I don't know why they dropped that. I have never been involved in a situation where the def. has given me less to go on during this hearing. I was left with them arguing about the plea more than anything. He admitted that he shot the judge, but he never spoke one word yesterday about shooting Judge Weller. He never addressed that at all. I let it go on yesterday to see if he was ever going to address that. He didn't. I know what he thinks of everything and everyone, and all of it was all going to be irrelevant in this case because ............. and it was never answered. No discussion yesterday from them about shooting the Judge. So that brings me back to the issue that Mr. Chesnoff said that Mr. Mack had said that the constitution allowed Mr. Mack to shoot Judge Weller by right. That was never addressed yesterday by Mr. Mack or his lawyers. It was said in trial that Mr. Mack believed that the second amendment gave him the right to shoot Judge Weller. There is nothing like that in that amendment. There is the right to keep and bear arms, but you cannot go and shoot an official because you don't like how they do their job. Since he never explained or touched on that I have to believe he had the right to do that. I believe our forefathers would look unkindly on that when they put that in the constitution. You can remove by elections, impeachment, etc. You can't shoot them. Mr. Mack has a misguided understanding of patriotism. They are those who fight in far-away lands, protect our freedoms, promote and protect a democratic way of life. Those people are patriots. It's not patriotic to shoot a family lawyer judge because you don’t like the way he does his job. A reference to Hamlet entered my mind. He said "to be or not to be......". Some people believe he meant suicide, others think he was talking about do you sit back and suffer or take action against what you feel is oppression. Here I think Mr. Mack felt that he was justified in taking literal arms against those who felt had wronged him. He knew he didn’t have to do that in my mind. He had lost before in one court and won in another. He knew he could appeal any decision from past experience. He still took action with a weapon instead. This was 19 days later also. He had time to think about it. Mr. Mack's actions in my mind showed a disregard for the functions of the branches of Government checks and balances. I wanted information and even testimony by mental health experts. I didn’t get any of that.
Two women challenged some judges years ago. They also hadn't been in the system long. They got the judges bounced. The power of law enforcement in Government with checks and balances works. No one has to shoot them to get them out of office if they feel they don't deserve to be there. There have been people's initiatives that have been passed that have actually changed laws. To suggest that people can't do things within the law to change things is foolish. It can be done. Others have been removed from office, I have done this myself, and to suggest that shooting is the answer is misplaced and misguided. Our forefathers had in mind the checks and balances, not the shooting of others.
I have come to the conclusion that these sentences are going to run consecutively. These two acts were separate and involved extreme violence. He shouldn’t be rewarded by concurrent sentences. How long in years, well that’s that hard part for us always. There are so many people to consider. Children involved, parents involved. The best thing he could do was to say what a horrible tragedy. I think he tried. But he never said, "I'm sorry". Never. He said it was a terrible tragedy, but never that he was sorry either over killing Charla or shooting the judge. I let him go on and on waiting for that and it never came. Despite prodding from his lawyer to say whatever he wanted, he had time, he never once said he was sorry. Finally he said he didn’t know what else to say. It wouldn't have gotten him exonerated, but it would have been nice. It would have been appropriate; it would have shown just a little remorse. I feel you are not sorry Mr. Mack. Saying I wish that had never happened doesn't remove your culpability. To not be able to express remorse for that when you have inflicted that type of pain is horrible. To not be able to express remorse is a dangerous thing. It deserves severe punishment in my mind. I commend the victims’ families on how they persevered through these proceedings. For their dignity and respect through these proceedings and their conduct in this court of law. Mr. Mack this sentence will speak to you for the error of your ways and how the system of checks and balances works in this court.
In addition to the $25 assessment and the $150 DNA analysis fee…
Life in the Nevada state prison system with the possibility of parole beginning after a minimum of 20 years.
A maximum of 240 months or 20 years with a minimum of 96 months or 8 years for the attempted murder
And a maximum of 240 months or 20 years with a minimum of 96 months or 8 years for the use of a deadly weapon, count two to run consecutively to count one.
I will grant restitution in the amount of $16, 529.16 for the monies paid out for Judge Weller’s medical bills. I will also grant restitution in the amount of $12,289.29 to the county for the property damage to Judge Weller’s chambers. I cannot award restitution for the county hiring security during that time and I can’t award restitution for the shrapnel in the secretary and her medical bills. It is also understood by me that Charla Mack’s family does not want any money for her funeral and arrangements. There will be 595 days credited for time served. I will say that it is not my job to decide where he will go. That is a prison classification matter and will be decided by the Nevada State Prison System.
I am certain there will be appeals. But I hope there is some closure. It will not remove the stain on this county, but this part is over. I hope you can move on with a feeling of some closure. I also want to say, with regard to Erica Mack, (judge has trouble with his feelings and has some tears here) it seems there are two ways to go. You have a young child at a very impressionable age that will head in to her teens. You can choose to raise her with fighting or you can try and get past these cases and trials and be a bigger person and try and raise her with knowing the good things about both of her parents. She needs to be raised with hugs and loves, not fighting. A child without a mother and a father is going to need a whole lot.
With that the court will be in recess. Thank you very much.
Personal thoughts of Kathlb:
Having watched the trial and now the sentencing hearing over the past months as well as reading articles, I have some thoughts on how this went and ended. I have felt for some time that Darren Mack is a habitual liar. I know the judge said that he felt he had led a good life up until this point, but I feel that these types of actions by a person don’t drop from the sky with any prior thought or action. I feel that Darren’s family is a close one and has been that way for generations. They are about being close knit and protecting each other against outsiders. I feel that they are all protecting Darren and Darren has probably been involved in that protection in the past with other members of his family. It’s how they are. This isn’t always bad, but can be so if as in this case, it attempts to get a family member off after they have committed a horrendous crime. At first, in watching his mother in the audience during trial, I felt she was unconcerned about anything other than protecting her son. After hearing her on the stand and also hearing Charla’s mother say that she offered to pay child support for her Granddaughter and Darren forbid it, I feel that she does have a good heart in there. It is just unfortunately overshadowed by her strong need to protect family no matter what. His brother seemed smug, uncaring about Charla’s family and cold, even smirking at times. I hated that and it colored the whole family’s presentation to us watching. I think that Darren killed her with premeditation as he did in the shooting of Judge Weller. He was driven to make himself right no matter the consequences. I also feel that he is smug to a fault in thinking he is above the law and can get out of anything by using his words and supposed brains. But he isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. He contradicted himself many times, tried to tap dance when that was pointed out to him and showed no remorse for his actions. He is a dangerous man. In my mind a true psychopath. The definition of a psychopath from Webster is … “Broadly speaking, they are people who use manipulation, violence and intimidation to control others and satisfy selfish needs. They can be intelligent and highly charismatic, but display a chronic inability to feel guilt, remorse or anxiety about any of their actions.” To me this fits him perfectly. He is where he belongs and I hope he stays there for many, many years. I feel for his family and his children. It will be hard for them even if everyone puts their feelings of dislike for each other aside and present a loving front to them and especially the youngest. Just my personal thoughts and I hope I have helped some a bit by trying to transcribe this hearing. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Please ignore any mistakes as I was typing as quickly as I could and may have missed a term or two.
CNN In Session commentary by Jean Casaraz
Update: 8:30 pm
Poor Darren Mack. He wasn't aware that in taking the witness stand in his own defense, he would be under cross examination. In this video capture, you can see Charla Mack's brother was clearly delighted about Mack's predicament.
Special thanks to Sedonia Sunset for uploading the clip to YouTube.