COMMENT: DID KILLER SLIP AWAY?
After reading our story on accused murderer Michael Gargiulo, charged with killing two Southern California women ("The Chiller Killer," by Christine Pelisek, Nov. 26), readers demanded to know why Illinois prosecutors failed to arrest him for an earlier slaying, in that state.
As the Weekly's story by Pelisek reported, Gargiulo's DNA was found under the fingernails of a high school student murdered in 1993. If Illinois prosecutors Richard A. Devine and Anita Alvarez had acted against Gargiulo in that earlier killing, the California victims might still be alive.
Jef writes: "When do the people of Illinois wake up and turn their government inside out? Richard Devine and Anita Alvarez should be held accountable for the murders that took place when this monster moved to L.A. There is no excuse. They are simply trying to cover their asses, but they do have to look in the mirror every night. Disgusting."
Wonderwoman writes: "What are the Illinois prosecutors trying to cover up? There must have been a very good reason why they did not go after this scumbag. I don't know how the victims' families keep from going mad with rage over this — I think I would have lost it by now."
FORCING COPS TO REMEMBER
Police officers and other readers held a lively debate over our story about the LAPD warning officers not to claim memory loss as a reason for not testifying in traffic court ("Citywide LAPD Ticket Shakedown," by Simone Wilson, Nov. 26). Many officers claim they can't remember the details of every ticket because too much time passes between the date of a citation and the court date.
Without their testimony, judges dismiss citations, which irritates judges who fear that officers use faulty memory as an excuse to avoid the drudgery of going to court. Critics suspect the city is pressuring officers to testify so that more tickets are upheld, sweetening revenues.
Gary distills the situation: "There are occasions where the officer does not remember. Officers write dozens of citations a week. The citizen has about four to five weeks to make a plea. If a trial is requested, it can take another two to three months to schedule. Now, three to four months have passed, the officer has written 600 to 800 more citations. Maybe the officer cannot remember that one citation.
"However, there are officers who do not want to spend time in court. The officer is on his day off, has other things to do, and does not want to spend hours in court. He tells the judge he has 'no independent recollection,' the case is dismissed, and he is free to go home. Those are the officers who are not doing the job that they are paid to do."
Two officers weigh in.
Mike offers this view:
"Unless the courts and the LAPD can come up with hard numbers, what they feel is occurring is meaningless. Yes, in 20-plus years I have on a couple of occasions said that I could not recall a violation and requested the citation to be dismissed. But for the vast majority, I did have an independent recollection or had my memory refreshed by reviewing the citation.
"It is wrong for the LAPD to put out a blanket order without having hard numbers behind them to prove their hypothesis. Officers should not be placed in a position that forces them to testify to something that they cannot remember. We should not be willing to jump into forcing testimony as I still believe that the majority of officers are doing the best job they possibly can do."
AB declares: "I have written citations for 22 years and have appeared in traffic court hundreds of times. I've never failed to remember the circumstances causing me to write a citation, never asked for one of my citations to be dismissed, and never lost a case in court."
Doolang has the last word:
"When times are tough, put the screws to the public."
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