We may all wonder if there is such a thing as justice for all, or is justice not really for all; and many people, such as myself, are too cynical to believe that a badge and a gun would not open doors and offer justice regardless of the nature of the crime; but I also wonder if equality in this world is just a myth and the male gender is still the favorite positive choice in a predominantly male world. OJ Simpson along with four other men were charged with, and found guilty of, kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, burglary, coercion, assault, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime.
The four co-conspirators were given short years or probation, and the infamous OJ was given 33-1/2 years in a state penitentiary.
Court documents placed Simpson with four other men at a Las Vegas hotel room registered to sports memorabilia dealer Bruce Fromong, who accused the intruders of breaking into the hotel room and stealing various memorabilia at gunpoint. At all times OJ Simpson admitted to taking the memorabilia that belonged to him.
Now fast forward to the year 2015 when Las Vegas Police officer James Burt was arrested for one count of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of domestic battery by strangulation and one count of coercion with force or threat of force.
This was not the first time for the ten-year veteran with our local police department; in 2011 he was arrested on two counts of domestic battery, coercion with force and kidnapping involving his then wife.
Three years into his law enforcement career (2009) Officer Burt was one among three officers who shot and killed 35-year-old Edmundo Del Valle Jr. in a downtown Las Vegas confrontation. As is always the case in Clark County, a coroner’s inquest found the shooting justifiable.
A Clark County jury of six men and six women took less than two hours to find the ten year veteran not guilty of four felony charges: one count of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of domestic battery by strangulation and one count of coercion with force or threat of force.
I have always contended that in Clark County the prosecutors pick the jury that will make it easiest for them to control and manipulate that jury to their advantage.
Those who are Las Vegas Tribune readers know that it is our humble opinion that OJ Simpson was really sentenced for the murder of his former wife and a friend after a jury of his peers found him not guilty, and many cannot accept the jury decision as final.
Now consider this:
A Category A felony shall be punished:
—By imprisonment in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole;
—For life with the possibility of parole, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 15 years has been served; or
—For a definite term of 40 years, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 15 years has been served.
Where the kidnapped person suffers no substantial bodily harm as a result of the kidnapping, the punishment shall be by imprisonment in the state prison:
—For life with the possibility of parole, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 5 years has been served; or
—For a definite term of 15 years, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 5 years has been served.
But after being faced with two charges of kidnapping by a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer, a jury found Officer Burt not guilty, while OJ Simpson is doing 33 years in a Nevada penitentiary just because the Clark County prosecutors office and an Eighth Judicial District Court Judge did not want to accept the California jury’s finding.
It has always been my belief that if we are not going to accept and honor the decision of the jury, there is no need to assemble a jury panel; it is bad enough that the presiding judge in the case can veto the jury’s ruling, but when a judge in a different jurisdiction, and even in a different state uses her personal feelings and beliefs to sentence a defendant in a different court, it could be abuse of power or even injustice.
During the OJ Simpson trial several defense attorneys and even some sitting judges told me that OJ Simpson’s charges did not amount to more than a gross misdemeanor, punishable with a possibility of probation, but as one of those people stated,“if it was not OJ.” I would like to know the connection between Officer Burt and the prosecutor in the case and how he may have lead the jury to conclude a not guilty verdict after listening to his ex-girlfriend’s testimony; I wonder if the jury was told about the ex-wifes testimony in Officer Burt’s first trial.
I wonder if Officer James Burt is going to be our own local Sergeant Drew Peterson?
My name is Rolando Larraz, and as always, I approved this column.
Rolando Larraz is Editor in Chief of the Las Vegas Tribune. His column appears weekly in this newspaper. To contact Rolando Larraz, email him at: Rlarraz@lasvegastribune.com or at 702-272-4634.