Sunday, April 24, 2011

That Damned Oxbow Incident

I find myself constantly reminding others to try and withhold judgment in criminal cases but find my own judgment often fixed after seeing or hearing one thing or another about a given crime. One that came to mind the other day being the killing of Caylee Anthony, a 3 year old girl from Florida. Her mother has been arrested for her murder.

It's a case that's gotten national attention but I don't recall hearing about it until I saw it on a TV documentary a week or two ago. I think it was on 48 Hours: Hard Evidence, a show I've been trying to watch lately. Quite a compelling show and I came away convinced of the mother's guilt. I'm still trying to tell myself to remember the Oxbow Incident and give her a chance.

Wikipedia gives a decent account of the facts of the case. The TV show went over the facts, including an appearance by the mother's defense team. They insist she's innocent, as does Caylee's grandmother. There's just one issue I have with the mother's claim of innocence:

The mother avoids letting the grandmother see her daughter for about a month. When the grandmother finally insists on seeing the girl, the mother claims she's with some nanny she dropped her off with a month ago and she's not sure where she is at that point. A search entails and they find the supposed nanny who has no idea who the mother is and wasn't a nanny for the girl at any point in time.

During this time, by nearly all accounts, the mother is out partying it up and having a great time. It just seems impossible for me to believe that a mother that supposedly loves her daughter so much wouldn't see her for a month and wouldn't know or seemingly care where she is.

In the meantime, Caylee is nowhere to be found. Her body is found months later near the mother's home.

There's more evidence, but not any strong physical evidence that directly ties her to the murder. Sorry, I have a hard time accepting the girl's absence for a month. It would take a lot to get me to swallow whatever story the mother's attorneys are going to come up with.

But what if the defense is right?

Regardless, I have to wonder about these TV shows that profile criminal cases before the trial has taken place and Caycee Anthony's trial doesn't start until the beginning of next month.

Speaking of TV hatchet jobs, Debra Saunders picked up on a 60 minutes show I watched last Sunday, as did the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat. 60 Minutes went after Greg Mortenson, a guy that wrote a book about his travels in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He ended up starting up a charity to build schools for girls in those countries.

While I often find 60 Minutes entertaining, I also know they usually produce their shows having an axe to grind. I was privileged to see a video years ago called "60 Minutes: Our Side". It was about a nuclear power plant in Iowa or Ohio. 60 Minutes wanted to do a story on it and the power company agreed, so long as they could record alongside the 60 Minutes cameras.

The power company's cameras showed the parts that 60 Minutes cut out of the final segment. It was remarkable, showing 60 Minutes certainly had an agenda in producing that story.

As far as this Mortenson guy, yeah, he seems kind of creepy, especially when you hear 60 Minutes tell the story. But he did build some schools. It seems to me most, if not all, of the criticisms leveled against Mortenson- spending most of the money on himself and promotional efforts- could be said about most other private charities. I've heard similar stories about worldwide charities, some as big or bigger than the Red Cross.

No, Mortenson may not be as great a guy as he likes to paint himself to be and his charity may not be nearly as effective as he claims, but neither are most others.

I was a bit beside myself after they spent 20 minutes or so bashing Mortenson when, in closing, they had Jon Krakauer, a former supporter of Morenson, make one of the closing statements. To paraphrase, as best I remember, the guy says, "He's a good guy who has done some good things. I just wish he'd keep better track of his money".

Doesn't sound like too bad a guy to me. Funny thing was, they started off the Morenson bashing with the Krakauer guy saying he was a former supporter but changed his mind because he made up or embellished some stories. Then they turned Morenson into a scamster.

I've got the feeling he's no more a scamster than anyone running a charity.


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