Orange County District Attorney’s Office Folds In Battle For Constitutional Rights Of Arrestees In Southern California.
In response to a motion to suppress evidence and to dismiss an Orange County murder case for “outrageous government conduct” filed by Jerry L. Steering in People of the State of California Michael Baker, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has decided to release Mr. Baker on a “time served” “Alford Plea“, rather than risk having another Orange County Judge find ongoing systemic constitutional violations of arrestees by the Sheriff’s Department.
Accordingly to Mr. Steering, “If there ever was a sweetheart deal in Orange County Superior Court, this is it”.
In the Baker case, Michael Wesley Baker was accused of the murder of his grandmother, Sara Mowrey. She went missing in 2009 and Mr. Baker is the last person who admits having been with her on the night that she either left or was taken from her apartment. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department had a suspicion that Mr. Baker may have been involved in Sara Mowrey’s disappearance, but had no evidence other than him being the last person reported to have been with Mrs. Mowrey.
Although Sara Mowrey went missing in 2009, Orange County Sheriff’s Department Investigators did formally arrest Mr. Baker for the murder of Sara Mowrey in 2013. They had obtained no knew information on Sara Mowrey’s disappearance, but the Sheriff’s Department subjected Mr. Baker to a three day “Perkins Operation”.
In Illinois v. Perkins, 496 U.S. 292 (1990) the Supreme Court held that the police did not violate the Constitutional rights of an arrestee who had not yet been charged with a crime by the District Attorney, when they engaged a jail inmate to question and obtain incriminating information from the arrestee. The Perkins court held that Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) held that one’s responses to police interrogation were inadmissible in court against one who not first advised of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights, because custodial police interrogation is inherently coercive. The Perkins court went on to hold that questioning by one who the arrestee believes is not the police doesn’t bear the same coerciveness as police interrogation, and, therefore, such “snitch statements” are admissible in court.
After Perkins , various police agencies would arrest one who they suspected of a crime but had no evidence to prove it, and subject them to anything from listening to questioning to threatening by fellow inmates and to police officers posing as inmates.
In Mr. Baker’s case, he was placed in a jail cell with two actual Mexican Mafia dropouts who were in-custody for serious violent felonies, and were paid $1,500 per day to obtain incriminating statements from Mr. Baker. The statements that were ultimately made by Mr. Baker were literally provided to him to repeat under express and implied threat of death or great harm to Mr. Baker and to his father; himself in prison on a Ponzi-scheme real estate conviction.
A day later, Mr. Baker was told that there was a lawyer present to see him. The police officer posing as a lawyer entrapped Mr. Baker into equivocally acquiescing to the murder of a witness to Mrs. Mowrey’s disappearance, who himself was a parolee at large who was apparently only a witness because the police put him up to make incriminating statements against Mr. Baker.
Ultimately, Mr. Steering filed motions to suppress and to dismiss the charges against Mr. Baker. Rather than risk having another murder case compromised by the Orange County Jail Snitch Scandal, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office folded, and permitted Mr. Baker to plead to one count of accessory after the fact and to solicitation of murder, and to release him from jail on time served without having to admit guilt and with no parole or probation.
According to Mr. Steering, “The problem with a Perkins Operations is that the police will get innocent as well as guilty parties to confess to crimes”.
See, the Orange County Register Article on the “Sweetheart Deal” below.