semiotic_pirate: (Pirate Grrl - RIOT)
[personal profile] semiotic_pirate
From [ profile] ginmar; Until the dotted line is what is on gin's post, and this is the situation:

Woman who was beaten says DA's office mishandled her case
I'm reposting this with [ profile] mindslide's permission, and urge you all to do the same. This is [ profile] mindslide's experience with her friend's case. This is a gross injustice. How do we right this? How do you start an internet petition?

All comments in regular type are [ profile] mindslide's; remember, this is her friend who was treated this way.

Not a strong enough headline, in my opinion.

Headline and article here.

That is a story about my friend, Shadayra.

When I had my jaw wired shut, I had a friend who was going through the same thing. Only, while I had mine wired shut due to a planned surgery, she had hers wired shut because her exbf broke into her house, expressed his intent to kill her, then choked her and beat her senseless, breaking her jaw and severely damaging her facial bone structure.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 1, Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores picked herself up off the floor of her apartment. Unable to see out of her right eye, she watched as her attacker, Christopher Burns, grabbed her cell phone and took it with him as he left her apartment. She stumbled down the hallway for help.

You wouldn't know it to look at Kilfoy-Flores now, but she spent the remainder of that night in the hospital, where doctors determined she had suffered five fractures to her face that required her jaw to be wired shut for eight weeks, and the bone and tissue around her right eye to be reconstructed with metal plates. The emergency room doctor called it a "blowout" fracture, meaning that her eye was not moving correctly because of nerve damage.

During a preliminary hearing for Burns on April 10, Kilfoy-Flores testified on the details of the attack. According to the hearing transcript, Burns, while screaming he wanted to kill Kilfoy-Flores, kicked the door to her apartment open. Once inside, he grabbed her by the neck, cutting off her airway for up to 30 seconds. He threw her across the dining room table, then onto the floor, where he punched her repeatedly in the face during an attack that lasted between six and seven minutes.

Shadayra originally had a DA who was going to go after the perp for burglery and battery. The max sentence for burglery is 10 years, while the max sentence for battery is a whopping 18 months.

The original DA assigned to her case, however, has retired. The case was assigned a new DA and she, as a victim, never recieved notice of that. In addition, the new DA offered the perp a plea bargain.

She is angry about the potential sentence, too. The plea deal dropped the maximum number of years Burns could serve in prison from just over 11 years to 18 months. Last week, Kilfoy-Flores attempted to resolve the issue through an informal complaint process that involved a meeting with Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard, members of his staff, and Jennifer Rhodes, the victims services specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Blanchard maintained that some miscommunication between his staff is to blame for Kilfoy-Flores not being told of the plea, but he said no legal errors were made by his office in prosecuting the case. Not satisfied with that explanation, Kilfoy-Flores is in the process of filing a formal complaint with the Crime Victims Rights Board, an independent agency with staff support from the Department of Justice. She said an understaffed district attorney's office coupled with the fact that the attack was a minority-on-minority crime -- she is Hispanic and her attacker is African-American -- led to her case not receiving adequate attention.

I am really pissed about this. I had to drive this woman to work for months because even after all the reconstructive surgeries, she still can't see out of one eye. I don't understand how this dude is going to walk because the DoJ switched up the attorney handling her case without notifying her, so her voice could be heard BEFORE offering the guy a plea bargain. A dude is going to walk because the DA fucked up.

She refuses to believe her case was properly handled, citing sections of state statute 971.095. The statute reads, in part:

"...the district attorney shall, as soon as practicable, offer all of the victims in the case who have requested the opportunity an opportunity to confer with the district attorney concerning the prosecution of the case and the possible outcomes of the prosecution, including potential plea agreements and sentencing recommendations."

It also says: "... if a person is charged with committing a crime and the charge against the person is subsequently dismissed, the district attorney shall make a reasonable attempt to inform all of the victims of the crime with which the person was charged that the charge has been dismissed."

I mean, this beating was fucking brutal, and he had every intention of killing her and actually DID take something from her home -- her cell phone.

Blanchard conceded that miscommunication between members of his office did occur in this case when former Assistant District Attorney Lynn Opelt, who was handling Kilfoy-Flores' case, retired in July. The case was then reassigned to Assistant District Attorney Chris Genda.

Blanchard said that while he would never use the office's staffing shortage as an excuse for how victims are treated, he said miscommunication between his staff and victims could happen less frequently if attorneys had more time to spend with each case file. According to the state Department of Administration, the Dane County District Attorney's Office is in need of 11 more attorneys.

"We do our best not to put the staffing problems of our office on the shoulders of the victims," Blanchard said. "But victims are effectively competing with each other for the attention of too few attorneys."

The change in attorneys also meant a new approach to the case.

While Opelt felt there was sufficient evidence to charge Burns with two felonies -- burglary, which carries a maximum prison time of 10 years, and substantial battery, which brings a maximum 18 months -- Genda didn't prosecute Burns for both. She offered a plea deal that dismissed the burglary charge in exchange for Burns pleading guilty to substantial battery. He accepted.

"The new attorney decided that burglary was not a charge that could prevail at a trial," Blanchard said of Genda. "And I agree with her."

In order to get a burglary conviction, Blanchard said the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Burns entered Kilfoy-Flores' apartment with the intent to steal or to commit another felony. Proving that intent would have been difficult, Blanchard said.

After hearing the testimony, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas said: "There is ample probable cause for a number of felonies based on the testimony and the evidence that's been presented," according to a transcript of the hearing.

The case then moved into arraignment, with Opelt entering the felony burglary charge against Burns. Burns stood mute to the charges, a move that automatically results in the court entering a not guilty plea on a defendant's behalf. This move also forces the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"He broke my door in and planned to kill me," Kilfoy-Flores said. "He bashed my skull in and now is having his freedom handed to him on a platter."

Disgusting. Our system fails.

# How the fuck are you NOT going to charge the dude when you have the evidence to prove it and the JUDGE even says theres ample evidence to prove it?
# Even more disgusting, how is burglery punishable up to ten years while beating a woman is punishable up to 18 months?

Any ideas on what she could do, or how I can help or motivate others to help as a citizen? Can I write the judge a letter or something??

Edit: Help us out and do something about it --

Contact DA Brian Blanchard by mailing or e-mailing the following addresses:

Dane County Courthouse Room 3000
215 S Hamilton St
Madison, WI 53703-3297
Tel / TTY: (608) 266-4211

Spread this around.

This was the response I made to the DA:

Mr. Brian Blanchard,

I was told about Shadayra's case via a mutual friend, and I just don't understand how burglary carries a maximum 10 year sentence, but bashing
in a person's skull, leaving her with permanent injuries with the intent to murder her only gets you 18 months?

As described, the event involved; breaking and entering, assault and battery, theft (or burglary, depending on cost of said cell phone), a hate crime, and last but certainly not least - Attempted Murder. Why isn't this man being charged with any of these other crimes?

The assailant/perpetrator broke into the victim's residence in order to assault her, beating her to within an inch of life (with the probable intent to have her die of her injuries) and then stole what he took as her only means of calling for help given his possible belief of the extent of her injuries.

Shadayra's attacker is black, Shadayra is hispanic. Those are two different races and race may have been a factor. Why isn't the Hate Crimes Enhancer being utilized? Why not use it as a base to establish a black/hispanic hate crime and maybe expand upon the factor gender played in court, even though it (nor sexual orientation) is not a basis for a hate crime as of yet? It would play well with a jury. As concerns hate crimes and race: Does it count as a hate crime only if one of the races involved is white or wouldn't the law count black on hispanic crimes?

I thought the purpose of plea arrangement was to keep less violent offenders out of prison so that space could be used for the real
threats? So choking and beating a person's head and leaving them for dead in isn't violent enough? And what happens in 18 months when he gets out and comes back after the victim?

Please do whatever can be done. This is a hate crime. It victimized Shadayra, and showed every other (hispanic) woman that this could happen to them, when dealing with a (black) man - and yes, you can put any other race into the two placers and get the same result - and nobody would help them.

Justice is not being served in this situation. Please do something. The world is, literally, watching. Thank you for your time.


Ms. Real Name
Member of the Concerned Public

Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.
- Plato

I included the signature quote for the emphasis to act responsibly. Hopefully it adds the final twist to my argument. I would suggest responses in a similar vein, from everyone and anyone, regardless of physical location. There was someone from the UK in the comments who wanted to make sure she wasn't just going to seem sensationalist by writing from there. I'm not a voter in Wisconsin - neither is she and we are part of world-wide public response and outcry for justice. I may note that the DA may be trying to use this as a platform to create an outcry of his own to change the Substantial Battery maximum sentence but this isn't the right way to do it. I will edit with the response I get or put it in a new post with a link back to this one.

Rise up and protest!

Edit: Went to the article linked in the original post again, here and got this as a response:

We are currently in the process of upgrading our systems. Thank you for your patience.

Wonder if they are changing the article or upgrading the system in general. It goes all the way up to the parent website so it is probably the latter. Can't find a copy of the article cached... wish I could.
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