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The letter below is a rebuttal to this letter published yesterday.
Mr. Koepf’s obsession with my coverage of the Kevin Murray police misconduct case is odd, and misinformed. His Trump-like attacks on what he sees as my engagement in ‘fake news’ need rebutting.
Let’s look at facts surrounding the Murray case:
- Sonoma County probation authorities after viewing limited information about Murray that was turned over to them by Mendocino County urged a year’s jail term. Probation officers said more time behind bars might have been recommended had they received all background reports surrounding the felony sex charges that the DA’s Office dropped against Murray as part of a controversial plea deal. Probation officers and judges have the right to consider factual elements of all investigative criminal reports in sentencing.
- The alleged victim’s occupation is not the issue. What is pertinent is the fact a Ukiah Police Sergeant encountered the woman while on patrol, and later stole the key card to her room. He then returned hours later off duty and out of uniform and forcibly entered the room. The officer exposed himself, made her fondle him, and demanded sex. Murray admitted to the sex demands in presentencing interviews with probation officers.
- A second alleged victim in the criminal case for some reason is not mentioned by Koepf. That woman outlined in graphic detail the circumstances of her experiences to the sentencing judge. It was this woman who called the plea agreement a ‘sweetheart’ deal.
- Investigators in the case, the East Bay attorney representing the Sacramento woman who Murray attempted to intimidate into sex, and the second woman identified as ‘Jane Doe’ in court documents are adamant that they were prepared to testify despite DA claims to the contrary. The disputed plea deal apparently is more the result of trial delays, shortage of available jurors, court scheduling conflicts, and DA Eyster’s reluctance from the beginning in prosecuting the case. It should be noted that neither Eyster nor Assistant DA Dale Trigg chose to marshal this high-profile case through the system. Originally, Sgt. Murray faced five felony charges.
- Mr. Koepf makes brief note of a third alleged victim who has a still-pending civil lawsuit (the DA said her complaints were beyond the statute of limitations) against Murray and the city for her sexual abuse at his hands. She could have been called as a witness in the criminal matter, however.
- As for my former position as Eyster’s spokesman, Mr. Koepf’s ‘vengeance’ theory is laughable, and so like the Trump world of misinformation that he clearly inhabits. I chose to leave the DA’s office because I disagreed with the increasingly verbose accounts Eyster wrote and posted on his website instead of the accepted journalism practices we had agreed upon when I took the position. My references to the DA taking time out of his presumably busy days as a chief prosecutor to write his own accounts is not personal, nor related to his notion that the Eyster is the final arbiter of public information. The fact is that the DA typically takes pains to write and post prosecution details about cases of far less significance including outcomes of misdemeanor DUI trials. Yet Eyster has not posted one word or publicly answered any questions about Murray’s sentencing. He nor deputy DA Heidi Larson so far have not publicly disclosed the reasons behind the controversial plea deal they accepted.
- I have worked with and enjoyed the friendship of many law enforcement officers over the years, from cops on the beat to police chiefs, sheriffs, and CHP commanders. I hold them in the highest regard. They are friends, neighbors, and community leaders handling increasingly tough jobs as our social ills mount. Murray has been described by colleagues as a ‘bad apple.’ Enough said.
- Tommy Wayne Kramer and I share a professional relationship and a longtime friendship. That we disagree sometimes is no surprise. We enjoy informed debates over lunch with friends.
- Lastly, if Eyster or Larson deigned to answer questions from the public about this high-profile case, we might all be better informed. Instead, we are greeted with silence in an unacceptable display of arrogance from an elected public official.