The heartbreaking case of Jasper Wu, the toddler murdered on an Oakland, California freeway when crossfire between members of rival San Francisco gangs caught the car in which he was riding with his parents, took yet another maddening turn on Wednesday when it was revealed the accused shooters, if convicted, no longer face the possibility of the death penalty or life without parole. The decision to eliminate the special circumstances charges needed for either result should the defendants be found guilty of Wu’s murder was made without explanation by Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, whose reluctance to prosecute crime has been previously detailed here at RedState (see California Community Demands Justice for Murdered Toddler; Alameda County DA Pamela Price Calls It Racist, Alameda County DA Pamela Price Believes a Man’s Life Is Worth … Five Years, Tops, and Alameda County DA Pamela Price Believes Gang Members Who Murdered a Child Don’t Deserve Longer Sentence).
Although the DA’s office has made no statement on its website regarding the decision, it has commented to local news media on the matter:
Price’s predecessor, Nancy O’Malley, filed the initial charges in the case, which included the special circumstances to the murder charges. But Price amended the case by removing the condition of special circumstances. She kept the murder charges with a gang enhancement.
This means if convicted, Bivens and Green, will no longer face life in prison without parole or the death penalty, which is already on hold in California.
The defendants still face stiff punishments, the district attorney’s office said. If convicted, Bivens faces 265 years to life in prison. Green faces 175 years to life in prison.
“We will continue to hold these men accountable for these serious charges that will likely land them behind bars for the rest of their lives,” said Price, who did not explain why she made the changes.
No doubt Wu’s family takes maximum comfort in Price’s choice of the word “likely.”
Ernie Castillo, the attorney representing defendant Ivory Bivens, made the following public comment:
Despite not filing special circumstances, my client continues to face an indeterminate life sentence under the filed Information. It’s obvious to me that the District Attorney’s office has given in to the political pressure surrounding this case by pursuing the gun and gang enhancements. We will challenge the legality of the gang enhancements, and, if we need to, we will take this case to trial and establish Mr. Bivens’ lack of involvement in this case. The fight to protect Mr. Bivens will continue.
While most of Castillo’s comments are dismissible as so much lawyer talk, the “if we need to we will take this case to trial” part sets off multiple alarms. Why would a defendant’s lawyer make such a statement unless they were either highly confident in the case’s dismissal before a trial took place, which seems quite unlikely, or a plea bargain deal was within possibility’s realm? Should Bivens and co-defendant Trevor Green be allowed to negotiate their way down to a lesser sentence in exchange for a guilty or no contest plea, the San Francisco Bay Area’s AAPI community’s burning fury, already expressed via public protest, will undoubtedly boil over. But, this is an era in which, for example, parents demanding their children not receive unwanted graphic sexual instruction in public schools are branded homophobic or worse. Price’s supporters will label her detractors as racists and … oh, wait, they already have, led by Price herself:
Black and Brown people are the most impacted by this system and yet we are the least respected. And I hope that we are learning that those who are closest to the problem have the best solution to the problem.
The solution, apparently, is to let criminals — including the murderers of children — skate. Yeah, that’ll solve everything.