A lot can change between now and the end of the year when someone would have to file to run against him. Indeed there are some surprise bombshells that are being held just beneath the surface at this point, that if they saw the light of day could change entire calculations. But that will depend on many factors outside of anyone’s control and it’s not even clear that anyone is waiting in the wings to take advantage, should such an opportunity arise.
Again, in this particular case, I do not know that there was a wrongful conviction. However, there are so many other aspects of this trial that raise alarm, that I think setting aside the ultimate question of guilt or innocence, it is worthy of raising this point.
First, 378 is absurd for these charges and I don’t want to dismiss the severity of child molestation. But he is being charged as though he committed crimes against 76 individuals rather than against one individual on multiple occasions. He is receiving a longer sentence than he would have gotten had he committed manslaughter and perhaps longer than if he had committed second degree murder.
In the comment section someone who seems to know the victim argued that he destroyed the girl’s innocence and deserves this sentence. I do not argue with the prospect of the heinousness of the crime if guilty, but regardless the length sentence takes a lot to swallow. From all accounts she is now 25 years old and married. I have no doubt that if this happened it has made her life more difficult, but is she worse off now at 25 and married than she would have been had he killed her at age 15? That question sounds very inconsiderate and I apologize to those who may be offended, but there just seems an incongruity in our justice system.
Family members compare this sentence to the issue of Brett Pedroia who received 1 year for a guilty of plea of molesting a 9 year old. They argue that since Pedroia is white and Dev is Nepali, this represents racism. To me this represents a huge flaw in our legal system. As someone told me, this kind of sentence would never have happened in Sacramento County and it is not necessarily because Yolo County is so horrific, although it may be. But in Sacramento County it would have never gone to trial. It would have been plead out, Dev would have gotten a year or two, and he would be a registered sex offender and have a record, but he would see his young child in a year or two.
That discrepancy between Dev and Pedroia should alarm anyone concerned about the notion of justice. It should really alarm people who ponder–what if he is innocent? We create huge incentives for people to plead guilty to avoid the horrific life sentence for a crime that does not warrant such a punishment.
That leads us to the question–where is the common sense in our justice system? There are mandatory sentencing guidelines for sure that tie the hand of the judge. But was it necessary to charge Dev with 89 crimes? Was it necessary for Judge Fall to impose the maximum sentence for each of those convictions?
These things baffle the mind at a time when our jails and prisons are overflowing. At a time when our county and state are running huge deficits, we are trying these cases for mindboggling amounts of money and putting people in prison for mindboggling amounts of time.
Again I don’t want to diminish the severity of this crime. If he did perpetrate these crimes on a teenager, he certainly deserves a good and fair sentence. I’m just not convinced that 378 years is a good or fair sentence and neither the DA’s office, the Jury, nor the Judge stood in the way of that.
Throw out the question of whether or not we have locked up an innocent man in prison, to me right now, given what we know, I just don’t get how we locked up any man in prison for this long for a crime against a single victim that did not result in the loss of life. To me that is not justice and that is something we need to fix.
—David M. Greenwald reporting