Yep, sometimes things go wrong in the criminal justice system, no matter which side you are on.
But, no, not in the way we have been discussing in my last few postings.
We turn Northward, to Peabody. According to the Salem Daily News, A gent who had been labeled by a judge in February as an “uncontrollable danger” to women walked out of court yesterday a free man. Case dismissed.
Mark Papamechail, 55, of Peabody (hereinafter, the “ExDefendant”) had been ordered held without bail since the fall after a woman accused him of “date rape” in October. The allegations were that the woman had been in her 50’s, she had gone on a few dates with him, he invited her back to his place where he pressured her for sex and then forced himself upon her.
The allegations of the case were similar to those in a 2014 case involving another woman in her 50s who had met the ExDefendant on a dating website called Plenty of Fish. She too said he had invited her to his apartment after a date, where a sexual assault allegedly took place.
That case went to trial and, in 2016, he was found to be not guilty.
The ExDefendant has a history of sexual assault charges, starting in 1986 and continuing through the 1990s. His record also includes convictions in 1986, 1994, 1991 and 1997.
Had he been convicted in either the 2014 or the 2018 case, he was facing 20 years in prison. He was not convicted in 2014 and he won’t be in the 2018 case. That matter was just dismissed.
The complainant in the 2018 case has died and, because the case could not be prosecuted without her, the case was dismissed yesterday in Salem Superior Court.
I think it worth pointing out how things are misreported. When the Superior Court Judge ruled to hold the ExDefendant after the Dangerousness Hearing, he did not say what the media claimed he said. He did not label him as an “uncontrollable danger”. He, in fact, opined that he had concerns, given the ExDefendant’s record that he could be a threat as the ExDefendant’s record reflected “propensity for sexual violence against women is uncontrollable.” Further, the court also indicated that part of this concern, now that the ExDefendant was before him, one would think that someone who had so recently been cleared of a charge that would have put him in prison for decades “would make sure that he never put himself in a position again for such charges to be brought against him.”
There is no question that the ExDefendant was before the court once again. The comment was played with a bit when relayed at the beginning of the article. After all, the ExDefendant was presumed innocent of the crime-at-issue.
Now that the new charge had been dismissed, the News decided it best to print picture and give his address in the article that one can only expect to incite reaction, if not vigilantism, toward him.
“Well, why not, Sam? I mean shouldn’t they sound the alarm that this guy is out of custody?”
There is no problem in delivering the news. However, I remind you that the insinuation that, in fact, this man had actually committed the rape and is now out there searching uncontrollably for another victim is inappropriate.
“But look at the guy’s record! Plus, didn’t the complainant give a statement to the police and testify at a Grand Jury?”
Sure. But at a trial, the complainant would have to testify live. A Defendant has a Constitutional Right to be able to face the accuser and cross-examine. It is how we test evidence in our justice system. No live witness…no cross examination.
“Well, he had been convicted in the past! Doesn’t that count for something?”
It sure does. He has had to register with the Sex Offender Registry Board. Depending on the level offender he is, the information is out there already to warn the populous. In fact, according to the article, he is listed as a Level 3 offender .
That is the highest level so being convicted again would not have changed that.
So, there you have it. A case where everyone is left frustrated. The “hang ‘em high” types are angry that he did not get sent back to prison forever. He is a free man. Those who hate it when Constitutional Rights are disregarded are frustrated that the man is released with an unnecessary target on his back.
I just want to wish everyone a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!