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January 26th, 2006

What’s the Point?

A number of people believe there should be a statute of limitations for murder. Early in my research, I interviewed attorney Scott Tulman, who in 1988 defended someone named Raymond for the murder of someone else in 1977. “Their lives are disrupted and ruined,” he said, speaking about the defendant. “We live our lives, and the person you are today is going to be something very different than the person you were ten years ago, or ten years before that. Assuming that Raymond did that which he was accused of doing, even though he wasn’t found guilty [he accepted a plea], that happened when he would have been seventeen or eighteen years old. When you have someone who is arrested twenty years later, who is now 38 years old, it’s a completely different person. What we do at 18 we don’t do when we’re 28, and things that we do at 28 we may not do when we’re 38. When you have a delayed case over twenty years, the person you are prosecuting is not the same who committed the crime. Raymond was married with two young children, leading a life, employed, and then all of a sudden he’s called to answer for something.”

Raymond served five months. This was one of retired Detective Margie Yee’s cases. I didn’t get to write about her in my book, but she was one of the more intriguing detectives (to me) on the Cold Case Squad. I’d still like to write about her history with the police department. This is from a Times piece about the murder in 1977:


→ 2 CommentsTags: Old Murder Cases ·

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Cecilia // Jan 26, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    Oh, so much to say.
    Leah Tagliaferri, 31, murdered by ligature strangulation in her apartment in Woodside on April 5, 2002. Case still open.
    Prior to her murder life was good. We are retired, one from firefighting, and one from Pan Am. Our daughter Ilene was in boarding school in France, looking forward to college. Leah had just moved into a new apartment with her boyfriend. She was teaching herself HTML code, setting up a website, and was considering going back to college.
    Then some disgusting, slimy, cretin viciously murdered her.
    Hopefully, Leah is in heaven, at peace. We are not at peace though; we are here suffering every day. We go about our lives with the veneer of normalcy, but we are not normal, we can never go back to the way things were.
    I think about Leah almost every minute of every day of every week of every year. I can only think of her in an abstract kind of way however, because, if I delve deep and concentrate on what happened to her, how she was murdered, how afraid she must have been, how painful it must be to be strangled, then I feel like I have been kicked in the gut, my insides torn out. I force myself not to cry; I want to keep the rage I have against the murderer so that I can keep working on finding him, always looking forward to the satisfaction of seeing him in jail.
    I have a picture in my mind of the murderer eating pizza, going to the movies, enjoying himself, while I suffer, unable to properly grieve, finding little to enjoy.
    Who cares if the murderer matures, gets married, has kids, he’s still a murderer who not only committed a horrible crime against one person; he also has destroyed the lives of the people closest to the victim.
    Do people change over time? Possibly those in their teenage years mature, straighten out, lead good lives. We all know some who were devils and who are now grown-up and are straight as arrows. But were they vicious killers?
    Society has already tried that route of being forgiving towards the young, treating them with kid gloves, looking for the Òroot causesÓ, feeling sorry for them, and it has been a disaster which we are only now recovering from. As much as we may feel sorry for Òmisguided youthÓ who impulsively commit horrendous crimes, their crimes cannot be ignored, there can be no get-out- of-jail-free card just for being young and stupid. And, the passage of time does not, and should not, wipe the slate clean.
    So, Raymond served five months under a plea bargain deal. What a travesty. How did the parents of the victims feel about that, or did no one care?
    At least, things are getting a bit better now. Michael Skakel is in jail, deservedly so. It’s a shame that Mrs. Moxley had to wait so long to see that day. It’s a shame that Skakel had such a long time to enjoy his life before he was caught. I don’t think it ever enters Mrs. Moxley’s mind that because Skakel didn’t murder anyone else that he shouldn’t be punished for murdering Martha.
    ItÕs been almost four years since LeahÕs murder and I feel just as bad today as I did the day she was found dead. And, twenty years from now I will still feel as bad. This pain is permanent, it doesnÕt diminish. The statute should last as long as the pain of those left behind lasts.

  • 2 Stacy Horn // Feb 3, 2006 at 8:20 am

    I agree. I actually don’t think anyone genuinely thinks there should be a statute of limitation for murder. I think lawyers have an obligation to do their best for their client, regardless of who they are, but this is not necessarily a reflection of their feelings.

    I am so sorry for your loss, which you very painfully, and effectively described. Is there a detective working on Leah’s case?