FROM AV PRESS: ‘Something wrong with our justice system’
June 28, 2011
We know that Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson is running for the post of district attorney, but Friday he just seemed to be running from our phone calls. We wanted to know why a Palmdale woman was literally crying to us about the plea-bargain deal her brother’s killer received.
It made no sense. Joseph Azevedo, an aerospace worker, was murdered 30 years ago, and last year cops nabbed anIndianatruck driver named Christopher Winter and charged him with the crime. But as Valley Press Managing Editor Charles F. Bostwick reported Saturday, prosecutors struck a deal – a guilty plea in exchnge for a sentence of less than 6 years – and family members said they were unaware of it: “Joseph Azevedo’s sister and nephew said the family was not told about a June 7 hearing in Los Angeles at which Christopher Winter, 55, was sentenced after being allowed to plead no contest to involuntary manslaughter and two counts of receiving stolen property.
A murder charge carrying a potential death sentence or life in prison was dismissed. ”Where is the justice? I can’t believe it after all these years,” Esmeralda Tirak of Palmdale said Friday. “The guilty get away with murder, and the victims” she said, breaking into tears. “I can’t talk anymore.” Michael Tirak, Azevedo’s nephew, said: “There’s something wrong with our justice system.” After three decades, the family at least deserved the decency of a phone call to give them a chance to be there. Victims’ families usually speak in court to let the judge know the impact the loss of the loved one has had on friends and family.
Deputy DA Jackson did not return our calls. A DA spokeswoman said she was told that Joseph Azevedo’s relatives had been informed by an investigator that Winter was expected to enter a plea to reduced charges that would let him avoid the death penalty, though she didn’t know if they had been told the hearing date. The family members told us they were aware of a hearing and possible plea deal, but it had been postponed and they were never told the new date and a plea “to avoid the death penalty” is far cry from a plea for 6 years.