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Media Got It Wrong: Shovel Beating Suspect Still In Jail

Media Got It Wrong: Shovel Beating Suspect Still In Jail

And this is what we call shoddy journalism, fake news, doing it for the ratings.

By now you have seen the headlines from July 11, 2017:

Judge: Suspect in 2008 cold case beating to be released (KOB)

Judge: Man accused of brutally attacking teen to be released (KRQE)

Judge orders release of suspect in beating with shovel (Albuquerque Journal)

Investigators livid over release of suspect in brutal beating (KOAT)

And they’re all wrong and misleading.

Justin Hansen, the man accused of attempting to murder Brittani Marcell was still in custody at Metro Detention when we checked this morning, July 17, 2017. How can this be when every local media outlet had screamed the headline that Hansen was being released?

And this is what we call shoddy journalism, fake news, doing it for the ratings.

If you got past the “outraged reporters” like KOAT Matt Howerton, you would discover that District Court Judge Charlie Brown didn’t release Hansen. What he did was deny the District Attorney Office request to hold him without bond. A very different matter, but you don’t see that in the headlines.

We’ve posted Judge Brown’s order of the conditions of release for Hansen below.

Judge Brown has specific instructions regarding Hansen’s release, that if not met, means that Hansen will NOT, let me repeat that, will NOT be released. You didn’t get that from our local news, did you?

In Howerton’s report, he interviews that bastion of truthfulness, Albuquerque Police Department Public Information Officer Celina Espinoza (remember Victoria Martens). When asked by Howerton what kind of message Judge Browns’ decision sends, Espinoza replies, “That our system is broken and there are no penalties for committing a crime like this.”

The problem here is that damn Constitution we all live by: “innocent until proven guilty.” Penalties are determined after conviction, not before.

These uninformed stupid comments, along with her conduct regarding Victoria Martens, is why Espinoza should not be speaking publicly. She doesn’t have clue what she’s talking about.

Espinoza finishes by saying, “this is not the profile of a person who commits this type of heinous crime and then goes on to live a normal life. So that’s our fear now he (Hansen) is on our streets, is there going to be a next victim?”

Except he isn’t on our streets, he’s still locked up at the Metropolitan Detention Center because no one has come forward to meet Judge Brown’s requirements for release.

Howerton never questions Espinoza about her inaccurate comments. He allows her to spew misinformation and simply nods his head. He is a new PIO in the making.

And even though Espinoza and Howerton seem to have convicted him, Hansen has not been convicted. This was just a detention hearing to set conditions of release, not to determine guilt or innocence.

To Howerton’s credit he does explain that Hansen has been arrested for other felonies but has never been convicted. It was a fleeting moment of sanity in a report that screamed sensationalism.

To end his report, Howerton then says this inflammatory statement: “This isn’t the first time a judge has been soft on a cold case. A suspect, last year, Jedidiah Rose, was finally arrested in connection to a 1996 murder here in the metro. He didn’t have to pay to make bail and he has already violated his conditions of release twice.”

Since Howerton wants to compare cases, why doesn’t he compare the APD homicide case against Donavan Maez and Chris Cruz? They were both arrested by APD and spent 11 months behind bars at MDC. INNOCENT.

They had nothing to do with the murder. Apparently the idea of locking up innocent people and holding them on bonds they can’t afford doesn’t matter to Espinoza and Howerton.

And you should know, the detective in that case is the same detective in the Hansen case.

Look, this was just a detention hearing, nothing else. It doesn’t prove guilt or innocence. Espinoza, representing APD, should know this and use her position to explain it to the public. Instead she inflames with untruths and misrepresentations and for that she should not be allowed to represent APD.

The local news media should be ashamed at the misleading information they spewed regarding this case and the new bond hearing laws. The truth takes a back seat to media personalities who bark false outrage meant to inflame instead of inform.

Albuquerque media should be embarrassed and ashamed of their reporting. They have done a complete disservice to the public they are supposed to serve. What they did was fake news. There I said it.

But the rest of us need to be on guard as well.

We have in this nation one of the greatest of all human rights: the presumption of innocence.

That means anyone who is charged with a crime is presumed innocent until the government proves them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

It means that no one is guilty of a crime just because the government, or in many cases, the news media, says they are. And it means that the government can’t lock you in a dungeon and throw away the keys.

And if you have forgotten, or never knew about it, that used to happen all the time in the old days in Europe. And it still happens in countries that don’t have the constitutional guarantees we have here.

And in case no one has read the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, here it is: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines be imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”

Cherish it. It’s one of the things that keeps us free.

Order Setting Conditions of Release by ABQFreePress on Scribd

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Dan Klein

Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque police sergeant. Reach him via Facebook and Twitter via @dankleinabq.

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