Saturday, March 6, 2010
OK, we all know very well there is a gag order in the Melissa Huckaby case, but some disturbing news has been circulating recently that has me worried that total justice for Sandra Cantu may get circumvented.
The Tracy Police Department has begun an internal review to determine if any investigative rules were broken by detectives. Apparently, one of the detectives, Nate Cogburn, made a comment to Melissa Huckaby when she was being questioned on April 10, 2009. Because of the gag order we haven't been told what the comment was, but it may have led to Huckaby incriminating herself which led to her arrest. Whatever Huckaby uttered, it was used in several search warrents.
Prosecutor Tom Testa sent a memo to defense attorney Sam Behar saying several detectives were being looked at though it is not known how many. The investigation was filed January 21 and led to Behar requesting more time to prepare for the February 16 hearing. Ultimately, the hearing was delayed.
The next hearing is scheduled for March 29 at which time Behar will try to suppress some evidence that could be used in the upcoming trial or ask the judge to toss out key evidence.
Maybe the internal investigation will prove nothing untoward and we are erring on the side of caution to avoid appeal issues down the road - I just don't know.
Then, news today that an appeals court overturned the convictions of two men in a 2004 fatal stabbing case.
Among errors, the judge allowed the prosecution to characterize Frankie Joe Prater and Robert Kenneth Memory as Jus Brothers with ties to the notorious Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, the state's 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled. The pair were convicted in what amounted to "guilt by association," the 61-page decision says. The prosecutor called them members of a criminal gang, but never proved it, the ruling says.
The "irrelevant, inflammatory evidence harmed the defendants' credibility," the appellate ruling says. It adds that "absent the error, it is reasonably probable they would have received a better result."
Any guesses who was the presiding judge was? None other than San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus who is currently presiding over the Melissa Huckaby case!
Maybe all will be well and little Sandra and her family will get the justice they so deserve, but I'm getting nervous.
And, that's my opinion!
Tracy police investigating Cantu detectives
Detectives In Cantu Case Investigated
Convictions overturned in 2004 fatal stabbing case