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Mendocino County Today: February 19, 2012

Dane Kraich

LATE TUESDAY NIGHT, Dane Kraich, a 49-year-old Point Arena, shot his young wife, 24, and disappeared. Kraich is being sought for attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, as well as a parole violation warrant out of Idaho on a drug charge. Sgt. Van Patten of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department said Kraich “has several family members in the Point Arena area and connections outside California.” Van Patten said that Kraich's friends and family “haven't heard from him since within a few hours of the incident, when he sent text messages to an ex with whom he had a child and to his boss.” The first message said, “I'm sorry,” and the second said “something to the effect of things went too far.'“ The newly married couple were drinking Tuesday night when they argued, according to Van Patten. Kraich attacked his wife with closed fists, leaving her bruised and swollen, Van Patten said. Kraich then drove away from the property and his wife left the home on foot. “This is a pretty rural piece of property,” Van Patten said. “She's got a mile and a half to a mile to go to get back to the main road.” She was apparently walking up the long gravel driveway toward Buckridge Road where Kraich discovered her. He told his wife that she wasn't leaving ever, and fired at her three times with his handgun. The one round that hit her “went all the way through her back,” Van Patten said. Kraich then bundled his wounded wife into his vehicle, drove her back to their house where he put her inside and drove off again. “She thought she was left for dead,” Van Patten said. The young woman, shoeless, again left the house, again making her way down the long gravel driveway toward the main road. She saw Kraich's car returning and hid in the woods by the road, then made her way to a neighbor's house, where she summoned help just after 1am Wednesday.

IT SEEMS that Judge Richard Henderson had a major change of mind Friday when Cody Fisher, 30, appeared before him for a re-sentencing on the four years in state prison Henderson had already given Fisher for a DUI accident in which Fisher's best friend was killed. In January, Henderson had notified the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office that he was considering a lighter sentence of up to a year in the County Jail and five years of probation. Re-sentences are rare to non-existent in Mendocino County. Court watchers assumed Henderson had been persuaded by Fisher's influential San Diego attorney, Thomas Warwick, to reconsider because Warwick also sits on the judicial committee that allocates funds for new courthouses, and Mendocino County's over-large judicial delegation is unanimous in their desire for a new courthouse. Henderson's move to re-sentence Fisher caused quite a hullabaloo beyond the DA's opposition to it. Mothers Against Drunk Driving was opposed as were numerous local individuals, all of whom argued that four years is the median sentence for lethal drunk driving, but the Fisher case was even more egregious than that crime normally is. Fisher had gone out drinking on August 28th to celebrate a birthday, and despite having taken a cab to and from where he parked his pickup truck on McNab Ranch Road at Highway 101, he drove his truck back up the winding, unpaved mountain road towards his home. En route, the truck plunged off the dirt road, turning over on to its roof as it careened down an embankment, finally hitting a tree. Matt Pare, also 30, was trapped inside, but Fisher waited almost four hours before calling for help, instead summoning his fiancé to the scene with a pot of coffee. Photographs of the crushed vehicle show Pare “half hanging out of the car,” in the judge's words. “Surely Mr. Fisher saw him, but instead of being stricken with concern for the death he had caused, he was concerned first for himself.” The victim's mother and Fisher's attorney pleaded with the court to consider probation for Fisher, rightly pointing out that state prison is unlikely to benefit the young man, just as it tends not to benefit most of the people consigned to it. But Lynn Darst of Mothers Against Drunk Driving urged Henderson to uphold Fisher's original sentence. “In addition to killing his friend, he put many more people in the public at risk of the same fate on that awful day. The time for the defendant to have expressed concern for the amount of prison time to be served was somewhere between his previous DUI conviction and before putting his key in the ignition of his vehicle while under the influence once again.” Henderson said that Fisher's “severe degree of intoxication” at the time of the crash, and the fact that he and his friends had arranged in advance for a cab to take them from McNab Ranch Road into town and back meant that Fisher may have known he would be driving under the influence. Fisher readily admitted to gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol and a charge that he failed to render aid to his friend after the accident. He originally faced up to 11 years in state prison and received the minimum sentence of four years. Prosecutor Paul Sequeira boldly challenged Henderson's reasoning for bringing the Fisher case back into court “in light of sentences recently imposed on other defendants in Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties for similar offenses.” Sequeira pointed out that defendants in similar cases got similar or heavier sentences, and asked Henderson if he had specific cases in mind when he decided to consider a re-sentence for Fisher. “Just proceed with your argument,” Henderson stonewalled. Sequeira persisted. “The public has the right to know what was on your mind,” to which Henderson again replied, “Just proceed with your argument,” and proceeded himself to unconvincingly weasel-lip the proceedings to a close. “I apologize to everyone for having to bring this matter back before the court,” he said. “I did not intend to create the false impression ... that the court would place Mr. Fisher on probation at this time.” Henderson said “seven factors” had gone into his original sentencing, but that he had “failed to consider some of these factors and “felt I had to recall the case to reconsider it and discuss it on the record.”

THE NEW courthouse will be a monstrosity

that will look like a neo-Stalin atrocity.

Secure parking spaces

for each of Their Graces

will be defended with judicial ferocity.

Dane Kraich

One Comment

  1. John Wester February 19, 2012

    I like the rhymes, glad you’re blogging so more people can see your stuff. Are you getting any replies from non-subscribers? Is there a way to subscribe to the blog without having to subscribe to the AVA on-line? Is there any way the replies can be put in a separate post that we could get to from a link in yours? I’m sure they’d be fun to read. Chilling, too, probably.

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