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Blaine's trials and tribulations[1]


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Blaine's trials and tribulations[1]

  1. 1. Blaine’s Crime Experience 1 Blaine’s Crime Experience Elizabeth Hall Kaplan University Intro To Criminal Justice CJ 101 Michael Lewis “Unit 213 come in” crackled the radio. Officer Diane Denton picks up the radio and replies, “Unit 213 go ahead” as her partner, Officer John Beasley starts the engine. Diane checks her watch, and notes the time to be 6:30 pm. Just then, the radio crackles “I have a burglary call at 3250 Pembroke Lane”. “On the way” responds Diane as she notes to herself that there have been several burglaries in that area in the last few months. As they drive over to the house, she wonders if the MO would be the same: window broken in back of house, middle of the day crime, house ransacked, all jewelry, electronics, and cash taken. To top it all off, the perpetrator always manages to fix himself lunch in the process because there is always food missing from the refrigerator. John chimes in with the same thought, but adds “and no witnesses”. As they approach the house, they see several people standing outside on the sidewalk. It was the victim, his wife, and several of their neighbors. The officers exit the squad car and John asks, “Hello, did someone here report a burglary?” “We did officer” and a couple steps forward out of the group. “What happened?” asked Diane, as she got out her notebook and John turned on his tape recorder. The male of the couple spoke up “When my wife and I came home from work this evening, we found our house had been broken into, ransacked, and all of the jewelry that my wife had, my computer, my stereo, and my TV are all missing, along with some leftover chicken and some baked beans. I wouldn’t have noticed the food, except that I watched my wife empty the dish drainer this morning at breakfast, and when I came home, the dish drainer had clean dishes in it. “And you are...” John asked. “I am Mark Wilson, and this is my wife Amy” the man replies. During all of this, Diane is steadily taking notes. She inquires, “Where did they enter the house”?
  2. 2. Meanwhile, John radios for Crime scene technicians and a photographer, and begins to unroll crime scene tape to follow the path they would take to the break in point. “Please, stay on the sidewalk” Diane instructed the neighbors. They would need to get statements from all of them. Mr. Wilson leads them to the back of the house. On the way, Diane finds a cigarette butt on the grass near the fence. In the rear of the house, the detectives find a basement window broken, with the glass appearing to have been broken from the outside, because it seemed that most of the glass was on the inside. Diane asks, “Do either of you guys smoke?” Mr. Wilson says “NO” adamantly shaking his head. Diane put an evidence tag with the number 1 printed on it next to the cigarette, and looked up at the sky. It was raining quite hard earlier, and the ground really hadn’t had time to dry. When they entered the backyard, John noted that there were large flowerbeds all the way around the house under the windows. Under the window that was broken, there appeared to be a footprint. Diane dropped another evidence marker with the number 2 printed on it. By this time the photographer and the crime scene technicians had arrived, and were proceeding to photograph and gather all of the outside evidence. They took this task very seriously, and used great caution to date, and identify everything according to proper procedure. The photographer went first taking pictures of everything, only then did the technicians come behind them and process it. Other police officers were talking to all the neighbors from the two houses on either side of the victims, all the way back to the three houses behind the Wilson’s house. Overall, they ended up with a footprint, a cigarette butt, and a hair that was found in the glass from the broken window. Our perp was getting sloppy, Diane thought to herself, considering this was all the evidence they had from all three burglaries. While the crime scene technicians were getting the evidence from the outside, John and Diane entered the residence. The victims were right the house was a mess. The living room, kitchen and bedrooms looked like a cyclone went through them. Drawers and canisters in all of the rooms were dumped out, and you could see where the computer and the flat screen television were supposed to be, because of the brackets and cords that were left in place. The only thing in the whole house that was neat and orderly was the dish drainer on the sink, sitting there with a few clean dishes in it. During the course of the other officers interviewing the neighbors, they found that the woman living directly behind the Wilson’s, just happened to be home that day because her child was sick and might have gotten a good look at the burglar. The officers reported to John over the radio. “We will be right there”, John said. When they got to the house, the witness, Mrs. Robinson, explained that normally she would be working, but her daughter was home sick from school that day. She said that in the early afternoon about 1:30 pm, she was standing in her kitchen doing dishes, and she saw a male figure crossing though her backyard. She noticed because it was raining, and she was wondering what anyone would be doing in the rain. It was just a drizzle then, but it had been pouring just a few minutes earlier. She watched him cross over to the neighbor’s backyard, and made a mental note to tell the owners of the house. John called for a sketch artist, because she stated that she got a good look at him. The detectives released a news story with the sketch on the nightly news that same evening, and poured over the other evidence gathered. These items were then sent to the lab to be processed. The police also had inventories of all of the items taken from the three houses broken into in the past few months. These burglaries seemed to have a pattern: they were always done at the end of the month, always the same MO, and always clean dishes. John and Diane decided to check out the local pawn shops, and see if any of the items showed up in one of them. Just then the phone rang again has it had been all morning, with tips from the sketch. John picked up the phone, “Detective Beasley” John says quickly. “Hello” the caller says tentatively, “My name is Anita Hallman, and I am sure that I know who your suspect is. It is my son, Blaine Hallman.” “We will be there shortly, if that is alright with you.” “That will be fine, I don’t have any plans for the rest of the day, I live at 178 Smallwood Lane,” stated Mrs. Hallman.
  3. 3. When they got to the witness’s address, they learned that her son had given her a rather expensive ring, for her birthday last week. She asked him where he got the money for a present like that, since he had been unemployed for two years now. He has been looking for work, but in the present economy, jobs were rare, for someone who has a felony arrest on their record. “He has an arrest on his record?” John asked. Mrs. Hallman replied, “About a year ago he broke into a convenience store, got caught, and served six months in jail.” She explained that when he first was laid off, the unemployment office took about two months, to process his claim, same with the food stamp office. While waiting for his claims to be processed, they had no food and no money to get any food, so he stole some. She also said that she thought he had learned his lesson, until she was watching the news last night. “That sketch looked just like him. He lives at 3200 Lochness Dr.” She stated that the combination of the ring, and the sketch made her believe that it was her son. The detectives took the ring for evidence, and headed to the suspect’s house to question him. When they arrives at the suspect’s address, they knocked on the door and a woman opened it. “Diane says “Hello we are looking for Blaine Hallman”. She sighs and invites them in. The detectives introduce themselves to him and ask him if he would mind answering a few questions. “What about?” inquires Blaine. “It seems there have been a few break ins, and your name was given, from the sketch aired on the news last night,” John said. “Where were you yesterday between 1:00 pm, and 6:00 pm?” Blaine thought about it a minute, then stated that he was out looking for a job. Diane asked him where he applied, and he said that he couldn’t find anything new to apply for. She then asked him if he knew anything about the burglaries, and he stated that he had no idea, and that he didn’t have anything else to tell them, indicating that the questions were over. When John and Diane left the house, they headed over to the closest pawnshop. No luck at that one, however at the fifth one that they checked, there were multiple pawn receipts, with Blaine’s signature and thumbprint on them. Most of these receipts were also for merchandise that was reported stolen from the victims. They collected the evidence, along with the pawn receipts and headed back to the station. Back at the station, they filed for a warrant to arrest Blaine, and to search his house for other merchandise. As soon as the warrant was typed up, it was time to go and arrest Blaine. John, Diane, and about three other officers piled into their cars, and headed to Blaine’s house. Blaine was sitting in the front yard on a lawn chair. Apparently, he thought that he still had time before the police got enough evidence to arrest him. When they got out of the cars, John screamed, “Freeze, you are under arrest!” before Blaine even had time to react. The officers had him handcuffed in record time, in the car and back at the station to be booked. While in booking, he was officially entered into the system, by identifying his name, time of arrest, reason for arrest, and the arresting officer. Blaine was the escorted to a holding cell where he would wait for his fist pretrial hearing before the magistrate to determine if there was indeed, a crime committed, have the charges read to him, be assigned bail and a public defender since he is unemployed, and has no money for a lawyer. He saw the magistrate within 24 hours of being arrested. Bail was set at $50, 000, which Blaine didn’t have to offer. While this was going on, the detectives were meeting with the prosecutor, to discuss details of the case, and if the prosecutor thought they had a case. Blaine saw his public defender the next day, Mr. White. He explained to Blaine, that the next step is waiting on the Grand Jury to decide if there was enough evidence to proceed with a trial. He also explained that the prosecutor was aware of his first crimes, because he happened to be the prosecutor for that case as well. “This means that he will be trying to get repeat offender status because you were already arrested for burglary once, less than a year ago. If he succeeds that means 20 years added to whatever sentence you would have gotten for the crime itself, it is normally about 5 years for a second offense.”
  4. 4. Blaine had to wait for two weeks, for the news that the Grand Jury had in fact indicted him, and another week for his arraignment. Blaine sat in the cell with the other 10 inmates scheduled to appear before Judge Miller that day in courtroom D. He sure had a lot to think about. Here he sat, once again, in a public building in chains, waiting to be arraigned, and the worst part, was that the prosecutor and the judge both were present in his last trial, and he had no choice but to plead guilty, because there was no point in dragging this out. They had enough evidence to convict him, even if he wasn’t present. His public defender didn’t even have a defense; the only thing that he was going to do is try to get a lighter sentence in light of the circumstances. Those being that he was out of work, and was having problems finding a new job because of the previous arrest. He was only trying to feed his family, and keep a roof over their heads. None of this would have happened if he hadn’t been laid off. Before then he was a “regular Joe” going to work everyday, a productive member of society. Blaine hears his name being called at the door, and an officer saying that they are ready for him. As he enters the courtroom, he hears “the court now calls docket number CR 101 People vs. Blaine Hallman”. He steps up to his chair at the defense table. Judge Miller formally reads him the charges: breaking and entering, receiving stolen property, unlawful theft of property exceeding $8,000 and persistent felon, and asks him if he understands these charges. Blaine says yes to this. The judge then sets a trial date, and Blaine is removed from the courtroom to wait in the cell for the other inmates to get their hearings over with. When the trial day comes, Blaine is shaking. He could be spending the next 25 years in jail, or worse, prison. He sits in the defendant’s chair and doodles on the legal pad nervously during the trial. The prosecutor puts on a good show as he presents his evidence, and when he is done, the defense tries to explain the situations that his client faced. The prosecutor then explains the questions that arise from the testimony of the witness Mrs. Robinson, and the defense then says that they are done. This takes about two days. The jury files out of the courtroom to deliberate. They were out for about two hours total, because they had some questions posed to the judge about the case. When they come back in, the foreman answers the judge that they are through, and have reached a unanimous verdict. The judge reads the verdicts for each of the charges. “Breaking and Entering, guilty, receiving stolen property, guilty, unlawful theft of property exceeding $8,000, guilty, and persistent felon, guilty" Blaine just went pale, and put his head down on the table. The judge then sets a date for sentencing, and once again, Blaine is returned to his cell. On the day of his sentencing trial, Blaine sits at the defense table quietly. Most of his time since the trial has been spent trying to figure out where he went wrong in his life, and cursing God for his rotten luck. The judge and jurors are all present again. The judge says a few words to the jury about the sentencing procedures, and then sends them once again to deliberate. This time they were out for three days. It seems that they were having problems with the repeat offender portion of the sentence. Some of them didn’t think he should get all of that time because they felt sorry for him. At the end of the three days, the jurors came back in the courtroom for the reading of the sentence. They recommended that the judge give him half of the time. The judge took a recess. When the judge returned, she read the sentence. She gave him the whole 25 years, with the possibility of parole in 8. She then explained to the court, that she couldn’t lighten the sentence, because she believed that he would just do it again. He would also be sent to prison, because his sentence was over a year. Blaine spent the next two days in the jail that he was in during the trial, and then the corrections officers told him to pack his things, because tomorrow he would be transferred to Blackburn Prison, 300 miles away. The next day, the officers came and got him from his cell, and put him on a bus. He was blindfolded on the way there. He could only assume that was so he didn’t know the way to minimize escape. When he got to the prison, he was processed in, and assigned to a cellblock, and a cell.
  5. 5. Blaine spent a total of 12 years in prison, because the first time he was up for parole he was denied. The second time around, he had a college degree, and a better outlook on what happened to him, and he was granted parole. Blaine spent two years on parole, and had to check in with his probation officer every two weeks. He also had to take random drug tests, hold a job and not get into any more trouble. He managed to do all of this partially because he got the degree in prison, and because his time spent in prison was the worst time of his life. He had to watch his back every second of the day because of the environment he found there, and a couple of times he almost got himself killed because of fighting amongst the inmates. This just goes to show you that no matter what you think you are benefiting from the crime, “Crime doesn’t pay!”