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  1. #1
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    WA - Deborah Byars, 45, raped & murdered, Ravenna, 23 Aug 2004

    This is the third in an excellent four-part Seattle Times series on sexual predators and the law.

    Swayed by a psychologist, jury frees 'monster' who attacks again

    Hours after falling asleep on a hot Seattle August night in 2004, Bernadette McDonald thought she was having a nightmare.

    Feeling suffocated, she gasped for air. But a tall, strange man standing over her had already pressed a bleach-soaked sock against her mouth.

    McDonald, 29, struggled but the intruder overpowered her. He tied McDonald down and raped her.
    How he got to that bedroom:
    Just 10 months earlier in a King County courtroom, a defense expert told jurors that the same man, Curtis Thompson, a repeat rapist facing civil commitment, most likely wouldn't attack another woman. The jury had to decide if Thompson, 44, set to be released from prison, was so dangerous that he needed to be confined to the state's lockup facility on McNeil Island for sex predators.

    Persuaded by the words of forensic psychologist Theodore Donaldson, the jurors decided Thompson did not meet the criteria for civil commitment, which would have allowed the state to detain him indefinitely. Instead the jury set him free.

    Donaldson would be horrifically wrong with his predictions.
    What further wages of a faulty decision?
    And McDonald wouldn't be the only victim: During his 2004 rampage, Thompson killed a 45-year-old woman and attacked two other women.

    The Thompson case is an example of what can go wrong with civil-commitment cases, a process that hinges on the words of dueling forensic psychologists who are paid to sway the jury.

    "It's the kind of case that haunts a prosecutor — that I think haunts anybody," said David Hackett, King County prosecutor in charge of civil commitments.

    McDonald, speaking publicly for the first time about the 2004 rape, recently told The Times:

    "He should have been civilly committed," she said. "I truly think he's evil and a monster."
    ---
    the rest of the lengthy article, plus links to the four parts of the ST predator series, at link above

  2. #2
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    Our justice system for sexual predators needs to be completely revamped. Predators are released over and over again to reoffend. It has to stop. I believe any experts should be brought in by the court, not paid to support a particular side. This seems so simple, yet it's not done.
    Forum: Jury Room
    Thread: Most interesting classic unsolved murder cases

    This thread currently has over 350 cases with a brief synopsis of each and we are still adding additional cases.

    You can access a spreadsheet that lists the cases in alphabetical order with the page & post number so that you can locate a particular case you may be interested in. It also contains links to any cases that already have a thread on WS.

    Many cases do not have a thread. Please feel free to start one in the appropriate forum if you would like to look into one. Should you start a thread on one of these cases, please let me know so that I can add the link to the spreadsheet.

    Here is the link for the spreadsheet in alphabetical order:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...hl=en_US#gid=0


    Here is the link for the spreadsheet in country order:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...FBBcGVid0lmUHc
    =======================================

    Forum: Jury Room
    Thread: Cold But Not Too Old Murder Case List

    This is a listing of newer but still cold cases. As with the above thread we will be adding as we go along. Most of these cases will probably have threads. If you do start a new one, please let me know so I can add the link to the spreadsheets. The spreadsheets may be accessed from the links below.

    Here is the link for the spreadsheet in alphabetical order:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...mlNV2lSQ1dDWHc

    Here is the link for the spreadsheet in country order:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...FBIaHRnR1g0SEE

  3. #3
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    I've never heard of the term "civil committed" before. What is that?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownRice View Post
    I've never heard of the term "civil committed" before. What is that?

    IIRC, once a prisoner has served his/her term, they are free to go. For serial predators like this one, some states have a back up plan where they can continue to incarcarate them under the umbrella of mental defect until a time when they are no longer a danger. Civil committments are indefinite and they can be polarizing because of the way our justice system is structured.

    So what is the defense of this psychiatrist, I wonder? "Oops, my bad."
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Belinda View Post
    Our justice system for sexual predators needs to be completely revamped. Predators are released over and over again to reoffend. It has to stop. I believe any experts should be brought in by the court, not paid to support a particular side. This seems so simple, yet it's not done.
    I think the problem is how to insure the objectivity of the Court. The judge and the D.A. are both paid by the government. This isn't to say judges are consciously corrupt, but our system recognizes that people have a tendency to favor he or she who signs the paycheck.

    Although juries often ignore expert testimony, figuring each side simply presents the testimony it likes, at least under our current system a defendant has the opportunity to present an expert who agrees with the defense view.

    In this particular case, that didn't work very well, obviously. Perhaps the real solution is for courts to admit that the field of psychiatry has limited and imperfect powers of prognostication. Unfortunately, the law treats psychiatrists and psychologists as if they have greater powers than they actually have. Mental health professionals themselves admit as much; many write that they are very uncomfortable with the decisions the law forces them to make.



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