Letters for August 8, 2002

I object

Re “Disorder in the Court” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, August 1):

I read this article with great interest. I am concerned, however, about several things that failed to be addressed.

The first and foremost is, in my opinion, your lack of journalistic integrity regarding my wife’s right to privacy. I am aware that you are not required to seek permission to publish a victim’s name in the paper. However, the thought might have crossed your mind to ask first. My wife was terribly disturbed to have her name out to the public. I would think that her desire not to talk to you or any other paper would have sent a clear signal that she is not comfortable with this. I believe an apology is in order.

I do realize and appreciate that you spent a substantial amount of time researching this story, but some of the facts reported are not accurate. The story states that “in reality” my wife ran back into the store. This is true, but only after running in circles around several cars in the parking lot to avoid Mr. Maggi. After several minutes, when she felt the distance between the two of them was sufficient, she ran back to the coffee shop and the police were called. Secondly, Mr. Maggi didn’t just “shuffle” around until arrested. He walked a few hundred yards down to the Wal-Mart building and waited there to find another victim to stab. Fortunately, the police apprehended him before he attacked someone else.

I write to you mostly out of frustration and anger. Both my wife and I are sympathetic to David’s story. How can anyone not be? We are not monsters looking to throw the book at him. We are, however, interested in justice and victims’ rights. I do not expect you to understand since it was not your wife, girlfriend or mother who was attacked. Every article to this point that has been published in the media portrays a poor, mentally retarded, autistic boy who is being wronged by Proposition 21. Not a second thought has been given to the horrific nature of this crime and its forever lasting effects both physically and mentally on my wife. Our anger lies mostly with those who knew he was a danger and did nothing to prevent this from happening. As you are aware, because you were at the hearing, Maggi has made several attempts to kill his parents and himself, as well as hurt others. And even more recently, he was declared incompetent to stand trial for his actions. Knowing this to be true, ask yourself this question: How did the people responsible for his care let an autistic, mentally retarded 15-year-old boy with documented suicidal and homicidal tendencies, take a knife and walk for hours unnoticed only to try and murder someone? What angers me is that this was preventable and should never have happened.

Jeff S. Volp
via e-mail

Cosmo Garvin responds:

As Mr. Volp knows, we tried, repeatedly, to speak to his wife because we thought it was important to have her perspective included in the story. She declined, but her attorney did offer some comments. No one, ever, asked us not to use her name. Had we not used her aspect of the story and name, I’m fairly certain that the crime victim’s perspective would have disappeared from the story altogether. At the time I wrote the story, I felt that not having that perspective wouldn’t have been fair, either to the readers or to her.

Family court

Re “Disorder in the Court” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, August 1):

While I appreciate the intent of your article, I think you’ve missed the most important point. You can only be tried and sentenced as an adult for a violent crime. Crimes of this nature, regardless of the end result, should be punishable to the fullest extent the law allows, regardless of any extenuating circumstances. Very few retarded or autistic people plunge knives into the backs of strangers. Those who do should be treated in the same way as their felonious “competent” counterparts. You basically portray David Maggi as a victim, which is totally absurd. He’s only a victim of his own actions and consequence. Should the degree of David’s punishment be a representation of his success or failure in completing his crime? Or should he be tried by his intent alone? Walk in the victim’s shoes for a moment and then let me know what you believe is fair and just punishment.

The victim of this crime was my sister-in-law, who, at the time of the attack, was a young newlywed mother with an infant daughter who was viciously and indiscriminately stabbed by a stranger intent on committing her murder. Retarded, autistic, brain-dead, teen or elderly, who cares? This bastard tried to kill her. Don’t minimize the severity of the crime or the necessity of the punishment because his defense attorney (who ironically played a part in acquitting the most obviously guilty murderer in history) is using every possible angle to keep his client out of prison.

If Maggi was as retarded or autistic as his defenders portray him to be, he shouldn’t be able to walk and chew gum, let alone plan and carry out a murder. The fact that she survived should be chronicled and applauded, not the story of the poor, retarded kid who tried to murder her. Next time you attempt to write a “human interest” piece, why don’t you pull your head out of the sand and take a look from the real victim’s perspective. It would be greatly appreciated.

Craig Volpe
via e-mail

Deal with issues, not labels

Re “Native American Gothic” by Liv O’Keeffe (SN&R Cover, July 25):

Thank you for this somewhat unfortunately titled article. Toward the end of it Mr. Dickstein, the Wintun attorney, states that the organic farmers are “ … middle-class people who rejected traditional values and now have chosen to live alternative lifestyles.” I believe Mr. Dickstein’s emphasis to be mistaken, and that he chose to explain things in this way to gain brownie points with those of us who might be described as middle-class, but who have not rejected traditional values.

We need to move beyond these stereotypes bestowed upon us by society and attorneys with a legal battle to win. Both the Wintun and the farmers have to engage in a discussion of the issues without old-fashioned expectations governing their behavior. They need to talk to one another as people with a common problem working out a solution that will be acceptable to all.

Some of the farming families mentioned in the article have been farming for many years. Those families who own their land are farming not just for the present but also for future generations. Instead of employing poisonous chemicals on their land, they put diversity into their planting, using predator bugs, cover crops and other natural resources to control pests and to restore goodness to their fields. Their farms will last because their land is nourished. I believe that these visionary farmers are the leaders in agriculture and should not be labeled as middle-class people who have rejected traditional values to live an alternative life-style.

Noné Chinery Redmond
via e-mail

Dirty little playground secret

Re “Native American Gothic” by Liv O’Keeffe (SN&R Cover, July 25):

One fact missing in this article that might be of interest to the local farmers is that under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988, Cache Creek Casino and all other Indian casinos in California are illegal under federal law. The IGRA allows tribes to conduct Class III gaming (that is, slot machines, video poker and blackjack) only if such activities are “located in a state that permits such gaming for any purpose by any person, organization, or entity.” Since state law prohibits Class III gaming to only Indian tribe-owned casinos, their operation of slots and card games is illegal.

Even though Native American tribes have greatly increased their health and prosperity as a result of operating casinos, we need to balance that reward with many of the negative aspects resulting from casino operations. Overwhelming traffic and dangerous problems with gambling addiction are just some of the problems brewing in the Capay Valley. There are better ways to help struggling communities than turning them into Northern California’s dirty playground.

Kristian Damkier