The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Journal and Brenner fly fast and loose

The following story ran in the Rapid City Journal July 22, 2010

Rapid city teen accused of abusing kitten

A 19-year-old Rapid City man could be sent to jail for abusing a kitten in May.

Spencer Haley was charged with two Class 1 misdemeanors for killing or injuring the kitten and mistreatment, torture or cruelty of animals. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in the Pennington County Jail and a $2,000 fine.

Haley is free on a $300 bond.

The online story was appended with 33 reader comments, about half of which were drooling rabid demands for Haley’s head. Fortunately, some people who actually saw what happened also responded.

I’ve known Spencer for a few months. This did not sound like the guy I’ve spent time with. When I heard it, his story rang true to me.

Spencer has probably not had much guidance in his life. He seems like a lot of skateboarders who hang out downtown, a kid without much of a home life. He told me he had been hanging out at a friend’s house, where a cat had recently whelped, and the litter was on the doorstep.

A bunch of junior-high-aged kids who were also there were talking about various ways to kill the kittens. Being an unconfrontational type, Spencer picked up a kitten and placed it in an adjacent yard. “I thought I’d at least save one kitten,” he said.It was almost immediately attacked and mangled by a pair of small dogs of whose presence Spencer was unaware.

Hearing the commotion, Spencer jumped into the yard and rescued the kitten, which he then took to a veterinarian in a taxi. The kitten died soon after arriving at the vet’s. A few days later, Spencer was charged. His case was presented to a grand jury, where Spencer had no chance to tell his story. The grand jury indicted him, of course. The Rapid City Journal, as is its practice, accepted as gospel everything released by the Pennington Co. State’s Attorney’s office, and ran the above story, inviting the fires of local opinion to rain on Spencer.

Haley responded to a dispositional conference, wherein the prosecutor makes an offer of a plea bargain. Spence went with the owner of the cats, who told the story to the prosecutor. According to Haley, the prosecutor said, “I don’t see why this was charged. I’ll see about getting it dismissed.”

"I don't see why this was charged." WTF! It's not the first time Brenner's office has shot first and asked questions later.

This event should raise some eyebrows about the grand jury process, where prosecutors go to ruin someone’s life when they don’t have enough evidence to get past a judge. For example, you would think they would call a witness to the event. We’ll see if the Rapid City Journal is as diligent about clearing someone’s name as it is about besmirching it.


taco said...

Good job, Mr. Newland.

DDC said...

What's the old saying about being able to indict a ham sandwich?

Poor kid. I hope he's able to get through this without becoming too cynical.

Bob Newland said...

On the contrary, I hope he has learned to be cynical about a justice system that concerns itself primarily with numbers rather than guilt or innocence of folks.

DDC said...

True. Maybe cynical wasn't the right word.

For lack of a better way to say it, hopefully it doesn't derail him.

larry kurtz said...

Good eye, Newland.

Oh, and the SDWC thing? Think of it as a badge of honor. Pat is up to his areolae.

Bob Newland said...

He'll probably be okay. This event probably only harmed him for about three days. People forget things pretty quick.