Trial and troglodytes

Shining a light on domestic abuse, and the Democratic establishment’s blinders

Back in March in this space, I wrote about having to go through jury selection at Butte County Superior Court in Oroville. Coincidentally, I’d been summoned for a murder trial that the CN&R had planned on covering—the People vs. Zir Ion Weems.

Weems was accused of strangling his wife, Angelica, the mother of his four children. The case was interesting for a number of reasons, including the fact that Angelica’s two sisters are romantically linked to two of Weems’ brothers.

Days into the selection process, immediately following the defense attorney’s efforts to vet me as a prospective juror, the judge, Robert Glusman, cut me loose. He didn’t give me a reason, but I suspect it was because I knew more about the case than the average citizen. I’d also previously interviewed a few of the potential trial witnesses, though not about the case.

To be honest, I was relieved to get the boot. I thought it would be distracting for Managing Editor Meredith Cooper to see me in the jury box each day. And likewise, it likely would be distracting to see her in the gallery. Cooper spent weeks in Oroville, covering each day of the trial. And in this issue, the week after Weems received the maximum sentence for first-degree murder, she tells the story of the proceedings, during which some of the details of Angelica’s short, abuse-filled life were revealed (see “History of violence,” page 20). She was just 23 years old at the time of her death.

Short of purchasing transcripts from the court, you will not be able to read about it anywhere else. That’s because Cooper was the only journalist to cover the length of the trial—a high-profile case. That says a lot about the state of the local media landscape. It’s especially disconcerting considering that this is a story of domestic abuse ending in the worst possible outcome, a story that needs to be told to help others trapped in abusive relationships.

In other news, this week we’ve published our endorsements for the June primary (see page 4). It took a couple of meetings of the CN&R’s editorial staff to come up with the picks. And the end result in some races surprised even us.

I’ll probably get hate mail. That’s fine. I’m getting used to it. I got a nice little batch this week in response to my extolling the virtues of Bernie Sanders, along with the reasons I’m on Team Sanders.

I guess that makes me some sort of degenerate. In case you missed our last issue (see “Political super powers,” Cover story, May 12), local superdelegate Bob Mulholland basically implied that Sanders supporters are a bunch of pot-smoking troglodytes. In addition to being an unfair characterization, it’s the kind of attitude that’s going to further alienate independents—and, in many cases, Democrats.

It’s hard to believe Mulholland doesn’t understand Sanders’ appeal or why many longtime voters are fed up with the status quo. Considering the Vermont senator won by 11 points in Oregon on Tuesday—the state has a closed primary, and Hillary Clinton was favored to take it by 15 points—Mulholland and other establishment insiders appear to be the cave-dwellers.