Saturday, September 23, 2023

Kevin Murray, Mike Geniella, and David Eyster: When Facts Become Obsession—Letter to the Editor


Welcome to our letters to the editor/opinion section. To submit yours for consideration, please send to matthewplafever@gmail.com. Please consider including an image to be used–either a photograph of you or something applicable to the letter. However, an image is not necessary for publication. 

Remember opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of MendoFever nor have we checked the letters for accuracy.

All photographs of Kevin Murray, disgraced UPD Sergeant

As a kid, my dear Irish grandmother used to say: “don’t get too big for your britches.” We know what that means: Essentially, don’t let your imagination and personal prejudices run away from the facts. Admittedly, there are been plenty of times in my life when my britches got too tight, and I’m not talking about what I ate. I talking about what I thought. I talking about what I’ve written. This brings me to Mike Geniella, writer and, presently, self-appointed judge, who has sentenced Kevin Murray to a year in the pen.

MendoFever has thoroughly covered the bad, Ukiah cop, i.e. the Kevin Murray case. By my count, editor Matt LaFever has written at least seven fact-based articles keeping Murray’s alleged misbehavior and admitted crime prominently in the news. Sarah Reith has also written an excellent article. Journalistically speaking, MendoFever may be Mendocino County’s only hope, with young writers coming on board who essentially stick to the facts rather than what they heard on NPR or opinions from the Twitter world. 

Enter, Mike Geniella. He’s also covered the Murray case in his distinctly opinioned way. Essentially, in Geniella’s estimation, Murray should have gone to jail for a year rather than receive the probation he got. Frankly, I have scant objection to that if Geniella’s assembled accusations should be proven true in a court of law. Geniella has written by my account five opinion articles in this publication to date and several more in the AVA. He has brought forth accusations from women that claim that they too have been the recipient of Murray’s despicable behavior. If these women have their fair day in court and juries agree with them, as far as I’m concerned, Murray deserves to go to hell. (At this writing, apparently, at least one civil case awaits.) However, in the smoking ruins of the Johnny Depp trial, wherein Amber Heard brought ruin to the Me-Too movement, a day in court for any person—man or woman—abused or sexually assaulted is the essential thing. Hearsay, innuendo, and unproven accusations are the enemies of us all.     

And…since I’ve mentioned innuendo and allusion, I would like to ask: does Mike Geniella have a secondary target in regards to the Murray case? Could it be David Eyster, Mendocino County’s District Attorney? Mike Geniella formerly worked part-time for Eyster as his press release writer. Good choice on the part of the DA. Geniella, a practiced yet somewhat humorless writer, has had wide experience with major publications in northern California. He’s a pro. It was the perfect job for him. However, as Geniella began to write about bad cop Murray, most of the problems prosecuting this case were increasingly and exclusively laid at David Eyster’s door. According to Geniella, Murray’s probation sentence and no time in jail was part of a “sweetheart plea deal” that DA Eyster formulated.

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Geniella wrote that Eyster claimed the motel victim that Murray threatened and intimidated did not respond to Eyster’s purported and repeated requests to testify against Murray in court. According to Geniella, her attorney stated that she was easy to contact and willing to testify and that Eyster never gave her or her attorney a call to bring her in for trial. Did Geniella ask to see his phone records to substantiate what he said? After all, by then, according to news accounts the attorney had already—without ever going to court—received two hundred and fifty-grand in a lawsuit against the City of Ukiah for his client for her pain and trepidation, which in the end, due to Eyster’s efforts, Kevin Murray did confess. Without Murray’s accuser on the stand, what kind of case did Eyster have? “Sweetheart” deal? The victim never showed up. 

Early on in his righteous case against Kevin Murray and his insinuations against Eyster for not correctly prosecuting this case, Geniella mentioned—out of the blue and nowhere—that Eyster often wrote his own press releases. ? What did this have to do with Mike Geniella’s crusade against Murray? Nothing. It had nothing to do with Geniella’s bad cop narrative. It seemed like a personal complaint. The boss is doing my job. The job that I should do. Press releases from a DA’s office often involve complicated legal explanations. Perhaps, Eyster, as an accomplished attorney, felt that with certain cases he could do a much more accurate job writing a specific press release than the writer he had hired.

Trivial issue, perhaps. That is until it pops up again. In Geniella’s most recent piece about Kevin Murray. (last Friday) Geniella characterized Eyster as: “a pugnacious prosecutor who writes his own press releases.” What? There it was again. Eyster writing his own press releases. Attacking Eyster for his performance in the Murray case is one thing. It may or may not be vengeance, but DA Eyster writing his own press releases while pushing Geniella aside appears to be a recurring obsession and a thorn in Geniella’s side. Irritation and obsession can obscure a journalist’s judgment and detract from what they write. 

One more minor thing, and something important to all of us.

One. When it comes to Geniella’s campaign to righteously put a cop in jail, Geniella has sensitive skin. The finest writer in Mendocino County since Jack London stayed in Elk and Gualala to fish and hunt is without question, Tom Hine, who writes a weekly column in the Ukiah Daily Journal under the pseudonym of Tommy Wayne Kramer. In regards to the Murray case as well as DA Eyster and Judge Moorland, who sentenced Murray to probation, in a recent column, Tom Hine made a relevant point. He simply asked why would a DA and Judge deliberately destroy their careers by intentionally letting a bad cop off the hook. It didn’t make sense to Hine. In the Anderson Valley Advertiser, Hine’s column is reprinted weekly, and Geniella opined that Tom Hine should be ashamed of himself for offering such a devious point of view. Ashamed? Hine worked as a private investigator for the public defender’s office for decades in our county. When it comes to the courts and the district attorney’s office, I would venture to say that Tom Hine knows a hell of a lot more than Geniella and a hundred times more than me.

Two. I would like to note that Murray is not every law enforcement officer. Does Mike Geniella understand this? As yet, he’s failed to make that point. In fact, in his own words, and in his most recent tirade against the bad cop and Eyster, Geniella wrote: “while Eyster and other prosecutors and police agencies (my underline) stall (my underline once more) in providing full details of cases like Murray’s, the California Reporting Project, founded by KQED and NPR, in 2021 analyzed 103 sexual misconduct cases from different police departments across the state. The conclusion was that in many cases the victims were vulnerable to an officer’s authority: sex workers, confidential informants, and already incarcerated people.” Why did Geniella bring this up? Sex workers, snitches, and criminals as victims of the police?  “Many cases?” Geniella’s words. Wasn’t bad cop Kevin Murray the exclusive subject here?  Is there an epidemic afoot? KQED? NPR? These are one-sided, liberal-progressive media sources that have been at the forefront of grandstanding the defund the police movement. Defund the police? That particular movement has brought criminal chaos, police attacks, and police killings all across our land. In our own county, sheriff deputies, and local cops risk their lives for our safety nearly every day. They’re our neighbors. They’re our protectors, and the DA’s office finishes what they start after the cops have locked the criminals up. Two fine officers died for us while I’ve been living in this county: Ricky Del Fiorentino in 2014, ambushed by a crazed druggie, and Deputy George Robert Davis whose accused murderer got off the hook. Neither of these policemen, in Geniella’s words, were prone to “stall” when it came to protecting us. To use Kevin Murray to color all law enforcement officers throughout our county is misguided if not wrong. If Mike Geniella casts shame upon Tom Hine for stating an obvious fact, then Mike Geniella should turn his face into a mirror to see the shame he casts upon himself by thinking every cop’s the same. 

Michael Koepf

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  1. Ummm. If this isn’t a scorned writer I am not sure what it is? Who would write “put a cop in jail” after all of this? Murray was never a good man or protector of the law. Also using the terminology “prostitute and sex worker”? Crazy.

    • You know, you may be right. “Prostitute” or “sex worker” was the wrong characterazation
      in relation to Murray’s motel victim. I loosely picked that up from news accounts or misreading Tom Hine’s column. I have no knowledge of who this unnamed victim was; her employment history or anything else. Apologies to you and her. Nonetheless, as stated, I believe Murray was very bad cop and should further charges against him, either criminal or civil, be proven in court he needs to go to jail for a very long time, which i’ve also said. The point of what I wrote was about Geniella using this case to flog a personal complaint and and tarnish law enforcement officers as somehow akin to Kevin Murray by citing a study by KQED and NPR, no friends to law enforcement there.

      • Your apology is a little late (and lame). You already showed your own bias in terms of who deserves to be protected by law enforcement and who does not.

  2. I thought Sonoma county peeps said it should be a year and that Murray had sophisticated criminal tendencies?
    I know it’s hard to believe, but men in power tend to attempt weird sex stuff. Its disgustingly common. Remember the catholic priest issues in this county and Sonoma county? Beautiful nun kept going higher up to report sex crimes and discovered how high up it went.
    I have a hunch this goes up high too…imagine what crimes Murray committed that have no light shed upon them. Would he kill to cover up?
    People who arent public servants have gone to jail for less. Eyster, come out and talk!
    Appease the public and help quell the people’s fear of the police. Convince us it’s safe to dial 911, especially if you’re a woman.

  3. Why would the higher ups put their jobs on the line to defend a rapist? Did you really ask?! Cause they’re rapists too! That’s why higher ups do that! Omg that’s almost funny…

  4. Come on Micheal. We all know the DA is a huge part of the corruption problem around here. AND APPARENTLY YOU ARE HAPPY TO SUPPORT THAT CORRUPTION. Real nice person you are.

  5. I don’t understand why you’re defending two individuals, Eyster and Moorman, who are responsible for an outrageous decision that put a sex offender back on the street.

    So Mike Geniella is the bad guy in all this? Seriously!!!!!!! That’s just pure stupidity.
    And you praise Tom Hine, a guy who started his journalistic career afraid to use his own name. At least Geniella doesn’t hide behind a fake personality.

    I’m pro law enforcement and know Murray personally. He should be in jail. I know how many times this man was put on Administrative Leave, and yet Chris Dewey and Justin Wyant promoted him. I do agree with you that Murray does not represent the hard working men and women of our law enforcement.

    So you don’t like Mike Gienella, we get it. But he has the right to report on matters and use his experiences in the story.

    • “And you praise Tom Hine, a guy who started his journalistic career afraid to use his own name.”
      So, why aren’t you using your real name as you hide behind a “fake personality?”

      Mr. or Ms. “Call It As I See It” whoever the heck you are, I actually like Mike Geniella when he writes about here and there. I just don’t care for his using bad cop Murray in what appears to be a personal grudge to castigate our local legal system and use Murray as a representative for all law enforcement, a common, dishonest theme in liberal America today. You knew Murray “personally?” If you were aware of his hideous behavior why didn’t you take steps in order that “he should be in jail?”

      • I don’t work for a paper and write stories or have a column. In other words I’m not a journalist, as Mr. Hine is.

        How do you know I didn’t complain? You just assume because you know everything and feel like you need to project your BS on everyone. And by God if you don’t listen to me or agree you must have an agenda. Get a life, dude.

        Gienella is reporting the information he is getting, and yes it maybe an Eyster issue. All these people have been given a huge amount of trust and when they violate that they need to be held accountable. Why aren’t we asking the tough questions to Eyster? Gienella is and he gets a press release blaming the victim. But no, you’re going after the messenger.

      • The local legal system should be castigated! Something is wrong with anyone who thinks otherwise.
        I bet you’ve raped before haven’t you.
        I’d bet 5 years salary on it.

  6. I am not sure how Mr. Koepf’s letter or Mr. Hine’s editorial are proper to display, since both openly call the victim a prostitute, without proof of that, as far as I know. Even if it is somehow possible that Mr. Hine and Mr. Koepf have some kind of “inside knowledge” on this matter, it is still immaterial. First, they are not naming that source, therefore what they say is open to question and therefore a classic case of libel if the names of the victims are ever revealed. Note: Since two of the women victims are not using their names and they have never been published, as far as I know (and the other victim is a law enforcement officer), this purported knowledge of one of the victims’ occupation is highly suspicious. Also, even if ONE of the victims (remember, there were three sexual assault victims) was a “sex worker” (not that I am saying she was because I have no idea), sex workers are entitled to be protected by the law from being beaten or assaulted, and must not be victimized, by police or anyone else, regardless of the contempt with which they are regarded by some people.
    We cannot allow police to do “whatever” because they can with impunity. Mr. Koepf and Mr. Hine fail to mention the other sexual assault victims and the physical assault victim, a male who suffered several broken bones in his face. This also distorts the presentation of the case in these letters/editorials. Beating innocent victims and raping women is illegal and punishable by the full extent of the law. Any other claim is anti-American and anti-police, i.e. against our community government and law and order.

  7. Koepf is the most dangerous one here, a talented wordsmith, with an extreme right wing agenda (see his other letters) and an embarrassing sychophant for law enforcement. This person can help stop any legitimate investigation of law enforcement in the future. Koepf could get the inside dirt from the cops on a future case that any journalist stupid enough to write objectively will not.. Being the stooge of the DA, he of course does not point out how incosistent this outcome with Eyster’s other work, lol. Imagine if any judge he suspects of having Democratic leanings issued this sentence for someone who wasn’t inside Eyster’s blue wall? Imagine Clay Brennan issuing this sentence for some Joe who got blow that Eyster wanted the usual maximum for! Whatever happened to Eyster’s maximums?. The prose is very good and somehow famiiar too, from the grandpa smiles to the bluster then back the damning with faint praise. Colorful oratorial style that Koepf just found within himself! Despite Koepf trying to discredit Geniella as the only one who doesnt smell a rose, we do have some serious problems with law enforcement here in this county folks. In Koepf’s sappy screed the most laughable point is that they would risk their careers by going light on a cop? The opposite is of course true, they win all kinds of support for doing so. Yes, most cops are great people and do tough work here but there are bad people in every profession and there are BIG questions about the leadership, such as how the Healdsburg cops got away with crimes and knew just when a shipment was on the way by. The bad cops, few though they be, now have a folk hero in Koepf and a defender in the DA, who has no likely challenger and can’t be hurt by being entrenched with anything and everything the law does. PS Michael- praising every writer and publication you can think of probably won’t prevent them from reporting legitimately on the issue. Why not use my real name? When kissing the backside of law enforcement that’s pretty safe so you never have to worry about any backdraft. Everyone arrested is a criminal as you wel know Mr Koepf!

  8. Kudos to mendofever for posting this letter & not being biased. It shows great integrity & equality. As for the letter writer, I can’t say he has much of either. He has continually made Geniela out to be biased, disgruntled & vindictive. I see a guy reporting on newsworthy stories. And this story bears more reporting than others for obvious reasons. Mr. Koepf, I believe is either related to or friends with Eyster, & therefore biased, disgruntled & vindictive. Why else would he so blindly defend these 2 self-serving, corrupt & lawless public servants? You’re the problem, sir! People, like you, whom defend the indefensible, are why this case is in the news in the 1st place.

  9. The curmudgeon of the AVA sounds off with another partially unhinged rant.
    He puts way too much effort into making this particular point, but there may be a small nugget of truth in there somewhere.
    Geniella’s usual smooth but smarmy style has changed dramatically with the Murray issue.

  10. Telling how the author completely elides Eyster’s role in covering for former Ukiah police chief Noble Waidelich’s domestic violence against Amanda Carley and then retaliating against her by engineering her termination from her job as a probation officer through the disingenuous and dastardly move of placing her on the Brady List of dishonest cops. But if Carley lied when she said Waidelich didn’t strike her, why didn’t he prosecute him? Eyster, a guy you really need to watch your back around.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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