Susanville Mayor Kathie Garnier has drawn some heat after her husband was charged with smuggling cellphones to be sold to inmates into the prison where he worked. It’s true, her husband has been charged, but no evidence of any kind has been presented that the mayor had anything to do with this incident.
Prison officials investigated the alleged crime, and Lassen County’s contract prison prosecutor Dan Howe filed the charges against her husband, Jeffery Julian Garnier. A local resident at the Susanville City Council’s Wednesday, July 19 meeting said investigators served a search warrant at the Garnier’s residence. She and others at the meeting demanded Garnier step down as mayor because they believe she was involved in the alleged crime.
Despite that belief, there is no evidence the mayor had any involvement with her husband’s alleged wrongdoing, and she has not been charged with a crime.
In America, we presume a suspect is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Right now Garnier’s husband faces criminal allegations, and he will have his day in court.
However, that presumption of innocence is absolutely imperative in the mayor’s behalf because she hasn’t even been charged with a crime. It’s completely unfair to smear her reputation without any evidence because of alleged crimes committed by her husband.
Judge simply follows the law Several readers also reacted to a frontpage story in last week’s edition of the Lassen County Times — “Vehicular manslaughter charge dismissed” — by criticizing that decision made by visiting judge, Jerry Johnson.
Johnson said he dismissed the vehicular manslaughter charge against Juan Ruiz Esqueda during a July 12 preliminary hearing because, “I can’t connect it to the crime,” adding the testimony given wasn’t enough to support the charge. Esqueda is charged in connection with the Oct. 11, 2016 hit and run incident that took the life of Janesville teen Kolby Trumbull.
Some readers made what they believe is the obvious and common sense determination that Trumbull was struck and killed in the incident, and therefore the judge made a really bad decision by dismissing the manslaughter charge. But the judge’s job during a preliminary hearing is to determine if there is legally enough evidence to hold a suspect to answer to a criminal charge. The judge makes that decision based upon evidence presented by the prosecutor, in this case, deputy district attorney Mark Beallo. While Beallo offered testimony from law enforcement witnesses regarding the accident, he did not present any evidence of Trumbull’s death other than hearsay by the officers that medical personnel told them Trumbull had died.
“I have no evidence of a death,” Johnson said, dismissing the manslaughter charge because he couldn’t connect it to the crime.
Looking at the Lassen County Superior Court website page, it appears the district attorney’s office has refiled the manslaughter charge and Esqueda will be held to answer after all. Many in the community also believe Esqueda was drunk when he allegedly hit Trumbull. It should be noted there is no evidence Esqueda had been drinking, and he has not been charged with driving under the influence.