Now anyone who knows me or has heard me give commentary on news shows may point out that I usually speak quite bluntly and say that someone looks mighty darn guilty, that I have little question that they committed a particular crime. I then list the various pieces of circumstantial evidence.
So why am I so upset when I see headlines about Ivins declaring "Homicidal Anthrax Maniac Plans Murder of Coworkers" or "Mad Scientist Obsessed with Sorority Near Anthrax Mailbox" or "Crazed Anthrax Killer Gets Porn at Secret Mailbox"? Because many of these facts are unsubstantiated, meaningless, taken out of context, and woven together as "proof" of unquestionable guilt that the FBI has found the anthrax culprit and the case is solved.
Sometimes circumstantial evidence is indeed strong enough to have little doubt of an individual's guilt. At other times, it is only good enough to encourage more investigation. With respect to fairness and a person's reputation, we ought not to confuse or manipulate the two different levels of quality of such evidence.
A couple of recent cases illustrate this point. The first one made major news last week when a police SWAT team raided the home of Cheye Calvo in a "no-knock" drug raid, blasting through the door, shooting down the family dogs, and terrorizing the residents of the home. The story has spread like wildfire across the Internet and the police action has received much condemnation.
Here are the basic facts of what went down: Drug dogs hit on a package containing 32 pounds of marijuana at a package facility in Arizona. The parcel was addressed to one Trinity Tomsic of Berwyn Heights, Maryland. Law enforcement there set up a sting operation, allowing the package to continue on its way to be delivered by one of their own to the home of Cheye Calvo.
Calvo was working at the time of the delivery and his mother-in-law, who lived with Calvo and his wife Trinity, told the delivery man to leave the package on the porch. When Calvo arrived home from work, he noted the package and carried into the house, dropped it unopened onto a table and went to change his clothes.
Moments later, all hell broke loose. The SWAT team blasted into the house, shot Calvo's beloved black Labradors, and for the next three hours Calvo and his mother-in-law—handcuffed and kneeling on the floor—were interrogated. The dogs lay dead nearby in pools of blood. Nothing in the house was found and no arrests were made.
If this had happened in a ghetto, perhaps no one would have taken note. However, Cheye Calvo is not just an upstanding citizen but the mayor of Berwyn Heights, a small, peaceful suburban town just one mile from the University of Maryland. Both Calvo and Tomsic have jobs working with the government, do much charity work, and are pillars of the community. Most everyone in town is outraged and appalled by this horrific incident.
A rally was held in protest of the police action and in support of the Calvo family. Most think they are unwitting and innocent victims of some drug ring using their address as a drop and someone else was intending to intercept the package before the Calvos even saw it. Some think they were set up.
So, are they guilty or innocent? I personally don't know but I can "prove" Cheye Calvo is guilty the FBI "Bruce Ivins" way, by picking and choosing which circumstantial evidence I will focus on and developing my theory to prove Calvo committed the crime of purposefully receiving illegal drugs.
The police must have had excellent reason to believe the Calvos were planning to receive the package, knew what was in it, and were involved in some sort of shady dealings or they would not have taken the huge risk of public outrage by carrying out a "no-knock" raid on the well-respected mayor of a peaceful, middle-class town.
The idea that the Calvos were just used as a drug drop location with someone else planning to intercept the package does not hold water. The police were surveilling the house and no one else was seen waiting for the package. Surely the police investigated the possibility that the delivery man could be in on the drug operation and they cleared him of any involvement. This leaves Calvo or Tomsic as the intended recipient.
Cheye Calvo was in Arizona (pure hearsay) around the time the package was sent. By not sending it to himself, but putting his wife's name on it, he distances himself from the package if ever he is questioned about it. The package is not his and was not sent to him.
Calvo planned to receive the package and then remove the contents to a secure location without the knowledge of his wife or mother-in-law. The package was delivered on a day Trinity Tomsic worked into the evening, allowing Calvo to come home and deal with package before Trinity's arrival.
He likely told his mother-in-law that he was expecting a package and, because it contained items for the yard, to just leave it on the porch. He had to have given this instruction to his mother-in-law because the porch had no overhang and it is unlikely she would leave a package addressed to her daughter out in the elements (heavy afternoon thunderstorms) if she thought it could be damaged.
Calvo would not want the package in the house before he could take care of it because his two black Labradors might rip open the package and damage the contents. When Calvo arrived home and carried the box in, he placed it on a table out of reach of the dogs.
Motive would be a question in this case. Although Calvo claims he is vehemently anti-drugs, because he and his wife have no children they may feel less restraint concerning recreational use of marijuana. However, 32 pounds is a lot of marijuana and worth $60,000 to 100,000 on the street, so one would suspect a financial motive. The Calvos recently sold one house and bought another with a good number of months passing where they had both houses in their possession (double mortgage payments) and the huge housing slump may have caused the sale of the first house to plummet $50,000-$100,000. This could cause quite a financial crisis for the Calvos in spite of their reasonably secure employment with the government.
Why would Cheye Calvo risk that security and lifelong benefits associated with working for the government just to make a quick buck? He may have thought his job as mayor eliminated most of the risk of such an undertaking. Should the police show up at his door, he would simply deny, as he did, that he knew anything about the package or what was in it, and who would question him? He is the mayor and well-loved in the town.
The chances of the police finding out about the package were statistically low (and both Calvo and his wife deal in statistics in their work), so the chances were high that the package would get through and their financial problems would be solved.
Have I convinced you that Cheye Calvo is guilty? Are you ready to see him arrested? I sure hope not. I have taken the few facts that exist and I have added conjecture and theory to weave them into a guilty scenario. While the facts may be thought-provoking and warrant further investigation and even a search warrant, this is the limit of what can be determined at this point in time.
Casey Anthony, however, is the exact opposite. Casey looks guilty as heck and I don't mind saying this. First of all, she is a liar. This is a fact, not a guess or conjecture. She is also a pathological liar. Fact. She didn't report her daughter missing for 31 days. Unbelievable fact. She has a car with a trunk that smells like a dead body. Fact. She is seen partying and smiling after he daughter went missing. Fact. She is not cooperating with the police. Fact.
I cannot assassinate this woman's character by saying she likely killed her child because she has accomplished that without my help. I think there is ample circumstantial evidence that points to Casey killing Caylee. Not just one or two or three interesting possibilities but a dozen or so facts that build a pretty solid case for guilt.
Bruce Ivins may be guilty of the anthrax attacks, but it won't be because he supposedly had a thing for a particular sorority or because some bizarre social worker with a criminal history claims he is homicidal, or because someone says he got porn at a secret mailbox. First of all, I have no idea of the validity of any of these claims, and, secondly, they do not prove a link to the anthrax attacks. If they were all true, then, yes, certainly, these verified facts would make me want to look more carefully at the man. According the government, we will have answers today.
A fair amount of circumstantial evidence equals probable cause for further investigation. An excessive amount of circumstantial evidence or extremely strong circumstantial evidence may constitute proof of guilt if altogether the evidence is convincing beyond a reasonable doubt. A sketchy amount of circumstantial evidence twisted and magnified is nothing but persecution.Tweet