Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Top 8 Stories of 2010

by Robin Sax

Eight cases, why not? Everyone else can do a Top 10 list -- here are my Top 8 from 2010:
8. Casey Anthony going to trial 

In the case of Casey Anthony,  the mother who allegedly murdered her child Caylee, the jury will want to know how a mom, an attractive, normal woman, could do such a thing to her own daughter. The most damning evidence against Casey Anthony -- the reason, the answer to why she might murder her own daughter, the smoking motive: she didn't want to be a mother anymore.  Anthony wanted to party and be free, and so researched a murder method (chloroform) and went ahead and got rid of her daughter one mile from their home. Sounds like an awful scenario. But it may very well be true. That Casey Anthony is a party girl who killed little Caylee in favor of a liberating, carefree life is not a new theory. But the jailhouse letters and inmate interviews support the idea that she was too young to have a kid and could not hang with being a mom, that she wanted freedom from everything, and that she was willing to do absolutely anything to get that freedom - including murdering her 2-year-old baby. This case may top the list for next year when it goes to trial.

7. Bruce Beresford Redman's wife's murder

Beresford Redman, former Survivor producer, went on vacation to Cancun with his wife, who was found strangled to death adjacent from the Moon Palace Resort. Factors that tend to show that he is guilty: the 3 different life insurance policies he took out on his wife's life within 3 months, including the accidental death and dismemberment policy; witnesses that will attest to fighting the night before her mysterious death; a weak, if not lame, excuse that she went shopping but whoops didn’t bring a cell phone and left at 8:30 am (who does that in Cancun while on vacation?); scratch marks on his neck; inconsistencies in his accounts and the accounts of witnesses; need I go on?  Face it people, we live in a judgmental society. We size people and situations up all the time. We draw conclusions over cocktails, in lunchrooms, and in op-ed pieces, like this one.  I say Bruce (and Richard) it’s time to think of a new PR strategy because this one isn't working! We'll see what happens.

6. Mitrice Richardson murder -- any closer?

This 24-year-old Cal State Fullerton graduate mysteriously vanished after walking out of the Lost Hills Sheriff's station nearly three months ago. According to the Los Angeles Times, authorities believe that Mitrice had gone without sleep for as many as five nights before she was arrested for not paying her bill at a Malibu restaurant. They think she may have had a major mental breakdown, including possibly suffering from bipolar disorder. This begs the question, why didn't anyone at the Lost Hills sheriff's station notice anything strange about Mitrice's mood and behavior? Tragically, the body of Mitrice was found this year (she went missing in September of 2009). Richardson's body was found naked, and her bra and jeans were found apart from her body. The search is still in motion for her killer. 

5. Mel Gibson and Oksana domestic violence blow-up/out

After the details of the January 2010 domestic abuse incident surfaced against Mel Gibson, and the taped rant and tirade were released, the incident chills down the spines of even the most hardened people. No one thought Mel would survive the abuse against Oksana Grigorieva, his girlfriend and mother of one of his children. It seemed clear to all he was going down this time, at least in PR if not as a criminal. To make sure I was not missing something, I called a few of my detective buddies at Lost Hills Sheriff's station back in January and found that they concluded as similarly as I -- that Mel Gibson committed a crime against Oksana and if it were any other person, he or she would have been arrested on the spot. The evidence, when compared to that of a typical domestic violence case, was overwhelming. A report from Oksana, taped calls corroborating Oksana’s words, a suspect clearly afflicted with anger among other issues, medical records and statements consistent with the injuries, and another victim who says similar crimes have happened to her. But the tides shifted to disbelief of Oksana and the case virtually died out. It's unlikely that we'll see much justice in this case.

4. John Gardner confession to killing Chelsea King & Amber Dubois 

How could a man who admittedly molested a 13-year-old girl in 2000 serve only five years in jail when he could have served 30? How could he wind up living yards away from an elementary school? In this case, there are lots of questions but only one answer: It should have never happened. There is no excuse, justification or mitigation that can comfort the King or Dubois family for the murder and rape of their beloved daughters. These are deaths that simply could have been avoided. I participated in a press conference and rally this year to help shed light on the horrible parol system in California that could allow this kind of monster out on the streets. Where is the public outcry on this parole supervision crisis? Where is the accountability? Why are these parolees not being properly supervised and monitored by parole agents? Where is the governor of the State of California on this? Why do these parole administrators continue to have their jobs? Shouldn't they be held accountable for these resulting disasters? How many more innocent people have to be murdered for the department to make changes? How many more innocent victims have to suffer at the hands of roaming parolees?

3. Lindsay Lohan saga

Lindsay Lohan has an appetite for destruction. What can we learn from the recent media blitz on Lindsay Lohan besides just a baffling dose of "why" when watching all of her legal debacles? You may expect me to come up with some hidden message or special lesson here but sometimes the obvious is the hardest to digest. The lesson from LiLo's case: don't drink & drive.  I would like to use my platform and big mouth to rant a little about the issue of driving under the influence. Most of you reading this probably have driven home buzzed at some point in your life. Don't do it again. It's not worth it. Just call a cab or a friend if you have had too many drinks. Not only because you don't want to go to jail like our Ms. Lindsay, but because you want to prevent tragedies. Life is too short. We see that Lindsay did get some celebrity justice but, sadly, there doesn't seem to be enough of time on these celebrity news shows to discuss the dangers of getting a DUI and how rampant, and deadly, the practice of drinking and driving is.

2. Human Trafficking on Craigslist and other sites

Websites like Craigslist, MySpace and MyRedBook have facilitated and spurred new growth in child/human trafficking and prostitution within the United States. The Internet has made it possible for pimps and traffickers to sell and solicit children from thousands of miles away. Savvy online criminals can easily pick up at-risk children and runaways through social networking sites. Craigslist seems to be at the forefront of the online solicitation of children in America, and indeed came under fire in 2010 for this practice. Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said any ad on Craigslist that enables human trafficking and child exploitation is completely unacceptable and that his company works tirelessly with law enforcement to help stop the attackers on their site ... really? Well, I think we will be hearing a lot more about the Craigslist site in 2011. Tragically, human trafficking of children for the sex industry is a rapidly growing domestic crisis. Yes, here right in America!

1. Ronni Chasen's murder mystery

The police are convinced that the shooting of Ronni Chasen, a wealthy and respected Beverly Hills publicist, was not a professional hit and that 43-year-old Harold Martin Smith acted on his own with the motive being a robbery, albeit a botched robbery. But there have been a ton of rumors and speculation. It is possible that all the premature speculation generated too many unanswered questions to what really happened to Chasen on November 16. Some questions, that are harder than others, contradict Beverly Hills Police Department statements that 43 year old ex-con Harold Smith rode his favorite bike to commit an armed robbery with Chasen the random victim. BHPD will hopefully come forth very soon with convincing information to legitimize their theory that this was not a merciless contract murder that took the life of this vital member of the entertainment industry. Until then, the questions remain. Rest in peace, Ronni Chasen. We will continue to press on as we know you would have. 

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