Tag Archive: Plea


TACOMA, Wash. — When Weldon Marc Gilbert was a wealthy jet pilot, prosecutors say, he spent much of his time and money manipulating young boys. He used his high-priced toys, including a sea plane, a helicopter and a boat, to lure them, they say, then molested them and beat them. He captured much of the sexually explicit action with his video camera.

Mr. Gilbert created more than 100 videos of the boys, sometimes turning the camera on himself. In 2009, he pled guilty in federal court to 31 counts of producing child pornography involving 17 victims and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

While Mr. Gilbert sits in jail here, he is preparing for another trial next month, this time on state charges of rape and molestation. In this case, he is acting as his own lawyer. And as such, he is allowed to review the evidence against him — including the pornographic videos — and watch them as often as he likes. Restricting his access could result in a mistrial.

Local law enforcement officials are furious, but there is not much they can do about it.

“It’s absurd and maddening,” said Mark Lindquist, the prosecutor for Pierce County, which includes Tacoma, where the state trial is to begin Sept. 19. While defendants normally can view evidence against them, Mr. Lindquist said, they are not usually allowed to possess it, particularly when it is contraband like pornography.

Defense attorneys typically ask to see some portion of the pornography that will be used as evidence, review a nominal amount of it and leave,” Mr. Lindquist said. “I have never had a case where a defense attorney wanted to possess the pornography. We don’t turn cocaine over to defendants for them to personally check out.”

After a local television station, KOMO, reported the situation last month, there was a public protest at the jail here where Mr. Gilbert is being held. Many state legislators have vowed to change the law but they cannot do so in time to affect Mr. Gilbert’s case. Mr. Lindquist said his office would draft language that would “pass constitutional muster,” though he expects challenges from defense lawyers concerned about the rights of defendants.

Unlike most inmates, who follow their lawyers’ advice not to discuss their cases with the news media, Mr. Gilbert, 50, who flew for U.P.S., is speaking out from behind bars.

He sent a four-page handwritten letter to Mr. Lindquist early last month, denouncing him and others for stirring up the outcry against him. He blamed officials for giving the public the impression that he was reviewing the tapes for his own prurient interests and noted that this was “ludicrous” since he had to look at them in a separate room monitored by corrections officers and with his private investigator present.

He told Mr. Lindquist to drop the charges because he was not guilty. He also suggested that Mr. Lindquist was pursuing the case for his own political advantage.

“Who, beside yourself, benefits from the second round of prosecution?” Mr. Gilbert asked.

In response, Mr. Lindquist said he did not give “a free pass” to criminals just because they were already serving time.

Then last week, Mr. Gilbert gave a jailhouse interview to KOMO, demonstrating, perhaps, why most lawyers tell their clients to stay silent.

“This whole issue should have never happened,” Mr. Gilbert told KOMO. “I caused it. I’m guilty of it. I truly wish I could have taken it back. What I saw is a lot of fun, reliving the teenage years, absolutely loving my time around these young men.”

But, he added, “wrong behavior, shameful behavior is not necessarily the same as illegal behavior that deserves a life prison sentence.”

Federal prosecutors have described Mr. Gilbert, who lived in an expensive house in Lake Tapps, just east of Tacoma, as a “master manipulator” who would groom his victims to gain their trust before abusing them.

“Gilbert saw each of the dozens of boys that he sexually abused as sex objects he could obtain by giving them things,” federal prosecutors wrote a few years ago. He gave them money, cellphones, flying lessons, trips overseas, strippers and alcohol, they said — even help with their homework.

“His sexual sadism and his fascination with boys was the center of his life,” they wrote.

John Henry Browne, a lawyer from Seattle who represented Mr. Gilbert on the federal charges and helped arrange the deal under which Mr. Gilbert pleaded guilty, is acting as standby counsel in the state case. He said in an interview that Mr. Gilbert was exercising his constitutional rights and that they should be protected.

Mr. Browne also said that he — and Mr. Gilbert — had watched the videos a few years ago in preparing for the federal case. He said 90 percent of them were “silly” and described them as “birthday spankings.” The remaining 10 percent, he said, were “problematic.”

A Pierce County Superior Court judge has ruled that in any pretrial interviews Mr. Gilbert cannot directly ask questions of the young men involved, some of whom were under 16, the age of consent, at the time of the episodes, which began in 2001. Mr. Lindquist is asking that during the trial Mr. Gilbert be barred from directly cross-examining them on the witness stand.

But Mr. Gilbert argued in his television interview that he would be more sensitive in his questioning than anyone else because he knew the young men.

“The last thing I want to do is embarrass and humiliate them,” he said.

Chief Justice Michael Kruse says the case of a man who savagely beat to death another man following a drinking binge highlights the problem of alcohol in the territory, and that the government needs to be “more proactive” in enforcement of law.
Kruse’s statement was made yesterday during sentencing of 32-year old Eperone Tipasae, accused in the beating death of Alapati Naisati, which occurred Apr. 10 of last year at a bus stop in Lepuapua.
According to a court affidavit, a hospital physician told police that the victim suffered “extensive and multiple head, neck and mouth injuries.” Additionally, the left side of the victim’s face was “extremely swollen and bruised” and the victim had a two-inch laceration above his left eye, bruises on his forehead and missing teeth.
Tipasae was initially charged with one count each of first-degree murder and first degree assault but under a plea agreement with the government in March this year, the defendant pled guilty to second degree murder and assault in the third degree.
During sentencing Kruse said the defendant earlier this year had “admitted to savagely” beating another person and later returned to administer another beating that resulted in the victim’s death.
Kruse pointed out that the Probation Office believes that the background of the defendant is very good, and that he was good to his parents and his siblings. However, he said the Probation Office also believes this incident occurred due to “binge drinking” by the defendant and this was the only explanation for the reason that such an assault occurred.
“This case highlights the problem of alcohol in the territory,” said Kruse, who added that “alcohol is not a mitigating circumstance” in this case.
He told the court that this is an issue, which District Court Judge John Ward II has often spoken about. Kruse said the government’s Alcoholic Beverage and Control board needs to “be more proactive” in enforcement of alcohol issues.
For second degree murder, the defendant was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment and 5 years imprisonment for the assault charge and both are to “run concurrent”, said Kruse.
Sentencing for Tipasae, who has been in custody since his arrest, initially started in late May this year, when the victim’s sister told the court that the “brutal beating” of her brother showed “no mercy” and that her mother has never been the same since then.
The defendant’s attorney, Public Defender Ruth Risch-Fuatagavi and Assistant Attorney General Mitzie Jessop Folau also addressed the court at the time, but sentencing was never completed because of a discrepancy in the charges to which the defendant pled guilty.
Both the defense and prosecution didn’t have anything new to add at yesterday’s sentencing.
According to a court affidavit, Tipasae punched the victim in the face and the “victim fell on the ground and the defendant started kicking the victim and stomping him in the face.”
After the assault, Tipasae left the scene and went elsewhere and later returned to find the victim still on the ground from the first assault. He then resumed punching the victim again by first pulling the victim up by his hair, the affidavit states.
When questioned by police, Tipasae admitted that he assaulted the victim by punching him several times in the face.
The victim tried to get up but the defendant continued to assault him and he also admitted to kicking the victim in the head several times as well as in the facial area, the affidavit also states.

 

Not Ready for the crime

Eric Cogan, 33, was arrested in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in June after (according to police) presenting a holdup note to a teller at a TD Bank. To get to the teller, Cogan walked right by a sheriff’s cruiser parked in front of the bank and a deputy in uniform seated inside the bank’s entrance. [TCPalm.com (Stuart, Fla.), 6-11-2011]

In April, Matthew Hudleston, 33, pleaded guilty in Mobile, Ala., to robbing a Regions Bank, using a holdup note that mentioned a gun. He got away but was arrested after he returned a few minutes later to ask for the holdup note back. [Mobile Press-Register, 4-25-2011]

We’ve got plenty of candidates for Worst Mother Ever, and most of them seem to be coming from Florida.Today’s candidate is Candice Marie Miller, a 31-year-old from Alva who has just pleaded guilty to producing, transporting and possessing child porn image.

Of her own children.

Candice Marie Miller

Police say Miller took nude photos of herself and her son and daughter, who were 13 and 9, respectively, at the time and sent them to a man posing as an online child therapist who allegedly told women to abuse their children sexually as part of their “therapy” and send him the images.

That man, Steven Demink, was actually a car salesman who apparently just wanted women to send him child porn images, according to Huffington Post Crime.

The two met on a dating site for single parents… which is not exactly how I pictured those places.

%d bloggers like this: