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The Interview, The Victim (Part 2)

Detective Kevin Bailey is a youthful, fit-looking man in his mid-thirties. He comes across as a genuinely nice guy. Bailey is close enough in age and general experience to the young people he mostly deals with to understand their formative social and cultural influences. Hip to youth idiom, Bailey throws a lot of "dudes" into his interrogations, as in, "Dude, I know it's tough." Or, "Dude, like, I'm here for you."

Bailey proceeded to conduct a carefully seductive interrogation during which 19-year-old Tai inexorably convicts himself of murder. The detective was doing his job, and doing it well. 

"Well, first off," Tai began, "I want to explain my reasoning why I did not talk the first day when we had our conversation, and that you've probably been informed, I was scared shitless."

Bailey, who might have been Tai's favorite uncle, replied, "Dude, I would have been too." 

"I was let in on some information that I did not want to know," Abreu continued. "I was told about August's and Aaron's interaction with this Perez guy or whatever his name is. My dad says sing like a fucking canary. He told me to do what you have to do to make sure that you don't go down for something that you didn't do."

"And I respect you for coming in here and doing it, and I respect the reasons that you came in here and did it," Bailey said, reeling in the young fish, first taking care to separate Abreu from Stuckey.

"That guy's about as sharp as a bowl of jello," the detective confided. "Don't get me wrong. I honestly think that he can probably take a computer apart and put it together blindfolded, but I think he's basically a social retard."

Abreu agreed. "He's been a recluse for like six years. I knew him back in the 6th grade. We hardly hung out. The dude, like, never talked. He is what I would describe as the quiet type of psycho. And he has really no social interaction skills that I can see."

Turning from Stuckey's multiple personality defects, Bailey assured Abreu, "Basically what we're talking about is damage control now. The water has already hit the island. How much damage is it going to do? That's where we're at. The case is basically done. I've been working on this missing person case since the day it started. That's been over three weeks. I've talked to the guy's family just about daily for three weeks. I didn't know Mr. Perez. I never met him. I don't know what kind of person he was. I know he was into some pretty strange stuff. But I do know that he's got a good family. He's got a very good mother. He's got a very good sister. And they're really, really tore up over this. We want to see the right people get what they have coming. We want the people that are responsible held accountable. And like I said, I respect you coming in here and doing this but there are some gaps that I need you to fill in. Tai, Tai. I'm in here, and I know it's hard to believe, but I'm in here working for you. And if you're only going to give me half of it, man, I can't do my job.

Abreu told Bailey, "Aaron said he's the one who stuck him. Said he got him in the throat, pushed it in straight back like that. He was going for a direct no-questions-asked-the-guy-is-dead. August [Stuckey wore a K-bar knife on his belt] planned on killing the guy from the start because he didn't want any witnesses."

Bailey was reeling fast now. "What else do you have to tell me because if you're holding something back you need to let it go. You're not going to feel good about yourself until you do."

Abreu gives up more and more. "The only one other fact is that I went out with Hippy [Aaron Channel] to bury the stuff. I drove the car out there. I'm sorry I wasn't straight about that, but that's one thing that I didn't want you to know."

His best social work self to the fore, Bailey keeps on reeling. "When I give you an opportunity to help yourself like I did today, I dropped everything over in Fort Bragg to come all the way over here to give you an opportunity to help yourself. You need to take advantage of it. It's an opportunity that I'm giving you. I'm not giving it to those other two [Stuckey and Channel] because I know they're going to come in here and lie to me. I know they're going to come in here and play games with me and I don't have time for that. I've talked to you before. I know that you're going to be straight with me. I know it's not going to be easy. We're going to get through it, and believe me you're going to be a better man for it. Your family is going to be better for it and Jennifer [Wolchik, Tai's close friend] is going to be better for it."

Abreu replied, "Yeah. My big concern is I don't want to go down for murder. Okay. Here we go. Straight facts. August approached Hippy and I the night before the incident occurred. He said, 'There's this dude I've been talking to on-line who has these things that I want. He's coming down tomorrow morning. I'm going to off him. I want his stuff.' Hippy and I looked at him. Hippy said, 'Dude, you ain't doing this alone. You'll fuck it up like mad.' Hippy knows August, knows he's stupid."

"Yeah, he is," Bailey agreed.

"So at that point," Abreu continued, "Aaron's point of view changed from, 'My friend's going to do something dumb' to, 'I'm going to make sure he doesn't do everything dumb.' And they discussed it. I was there with them. I witnessed the conversation. We planned it out and stayed up all night. The next morning we went down the A&W logging road about 6am. It was still dark when we walked down there. And we walked; we went behind the shortcut by the Redwood Health Club so we wouldn't be seen actually walking on the road. We walked down A&W logging road and..."

Bailey, knowing he'd hooked the kid, began reeling him in. "Take your time, man. You've been holding it a long time," Bailey consoled the young fish.

"So," Abreu immediately continued, "we walked down the A&W logging road and we stashed [hid out] just past the bridge. There's this one spot where you can walk down, and there's some trees and a nice climbing area that I used to hang out at. We stashed down there. We remained on scene, and we watched the vehicles that drove by. We waited there. I was told the vehicle was a Dodge Ram. Stuckey told me the color but I couldn't remember it. So I was just like watching for anything that could be a Dodge Ram. Hippy and I took turns at watch. We took naps. The plan was that if by 9 o'clock there was no sighting we were going to call August, see what was up, see if the guy had, you know, some sort of delay getting there.

"9 o'clock rolled around. We were using Hippy's pocket organizer for the time because it had a little clock on it. No sign of anything. We walked up to the road. I look up and I see a blue truck parked just down the road facing this way, no one in it. And I looked at it and it's a Dodge Ram. As I'm standing there, August and this Perez dude walk down from a hill along side the road. There's like this hill across from where the truck was parked and this little hard-to-see trail. August had his K-bar knife at his side at the time. 

"Hippy and I walked up and August introduced us to the guy, and this is about the screwiest part when August introduced us to him. We had a short conversation with him. He said he was interested in possibly moving here. I don't know if he was just shooting the shit or trying to make conversation or what. I kept pretty much quiet the entire time because I was in a situation I didn't want to be involved in. I didn't really want to be there. I was dumb and got talked into it. Anyway, Hippy suggested a couple of job options. The dude mentioned he was a trucker. Hippy told him there was a job option around where you could be a trucker pretty easy. Pretty much fishing industry and logging industry is what there was in Fort Bragg.

"That took about five, ten minutes of conversation. Then August knocked the guy's glasses off and said, 'Okay. There's two ways this can happen. There's the easy way and then there's your way.' He told the guy to step out of his truck. He started walking the dude up the hill. I was going to stay by the truck and keep watch. The dude tried to run off. He runs towards the bridge and he didn't have his glasses at the time. Hippy had them in his pocket. The guy bolts for the bridge. He stops at the bridge, and Hippy laughed and said, 'Oh, so you're going to make your stand at the bridge.' I mean he was just totally getting a kick out of the situation. And the guy turns around. August and Hippy stop. I'm still back by the truck. The dude left his keys there. He had an extra copy. There was a set inside the truck and he probably had the other set on him. And he turns around and says, 'At least let me have my glasses back. I've got 200 bucks in my wallet and you can have that if you let me have my glasses and move on.' August stopped, put his K-bar in his sheath and said to the guy, 'All right. You set down the money, I'll set down your glasses. The guy said, 'I'm coming to set the money down. I'm going to back off. You come and pick up the money, drop the glasses, and then you back off'."

"He walked down on to the bridge and set the money down at the edge of the bridge. Then he backed up. August walked up, picked up the money, set down the glasses and stayed standing right there. Perez looked at him and backed off. Perez said, 'You don't get to be around my glasses,' and Perez runs up and grabs them and turns around and starts running, and puts them on as he's running. But he loses his footing and then Hippy clubbed him in the head with a rock. Right there I would have to say it was probably an instant concussion. Hippy's got some good swinging power behind his arms.

"And, um, Perez fell down. I got in the truck and started it up. I had a pair of socks on my hands because I was avoiding fingerprints. I drove the truck up to the far side of the bridge to the little pullout. I turned it around and faced it the other way because they wanted to drive the truck down the road. While I was there with the truck there was some rustling in the bushes. About five minutes later August and Hippy come running up to the truck and told me to go. 

"There was a dude that had passed by not too long before, probably the guy that identified us, probably one of the loggers. The logger was going down the road, right on past us. We took Perez's truck down to the end of the road [east] and crashed it there at the spot where you guys found it. Hippy spilled the alcohol around to make it look like some kind of drunk driving thing. We wiped down the truck for prints. August and Hippy moved off up the road. I stayed at the truck for a minute and kept watch on the situation before I went to catch up with them. I didn't know the path to the [fish] egg taking station so I took a left and went the wrong way before I realized it and turned back around to come back. I met them again and they told me where they burned and buried all the stuff. They decided they didn't want to go to the egg taking station because it was in sight of CDF and everyone else who could see us. As one of the CDF trucks came by we dove down in the bushes. We heard the Skunk Train go by. We walked down hill to the tracks and walked to DeWitt's house in town. From there I tried to forget about the situation.

Bailey asked, "Did you guys tell anybody what you did?"

Abreu, telling all, said, "August informed Mike Johnson of what happened, which was pretty dumb. The way that happened was me and Hippy were at Mike's house. We were hanging out with him in his backyard in his old Cutlass Supreme, the car he had that was all beat up and messed up. While we were there, August showed up. He walked out to the backyard because he noticed no one was in the house but the music was going and the door was open. Obviously someone was home. August saw us in the car in the backyard and got in with us. Then he said, 'Dude, we've got to tell Mike about what happened.' I looked at him and I was like, 'Dude, you're nuts.' And August starts blabbering at Mike about what went down. Apparently August's reasoning was that he wanted to find some explosives so he could burn the area where the body was to get rid of hair, DNA, fingerprints, stuff like that."

"It's reasonable," Bailey agreed. "Not rational, though. Did you guys ever go back out there to where Perez was?"

"There was one time," Abreu recalled, "after the incident where Hippy and I were down there. Jen was driving my car and we were hanging out for the night and I was passing out in the car and she didn't want to drop me off anywhere because I was passing out. So she drove down the A&W road. While we were there we fell asleep. A truck pulled up behind us, and I heard this from Jen while we were driving home because I was still asleep. She said an inspector came out and said, 'Okay, you guys need to leave.' And so we left. And that was the only other time I had been out there anywhere near where Perez was."

"You never took anybody out and showed them the body?" Bailey asked.

"I'm not that dumb," Abreu said. "I did not go back to the location at all."

Bailey, commiserating, said in a therapist's voice, "That's a big burden to haul around on your shoulders. It's been eating you. For weeks it's been eating you."

Abreu agreed. "As I said before, I was scared and I didn't know what I was going to do because I got into a situation I did not need to be wrapped up in."

Bailey pressed on. "Whose idea was it?"

Abreu answered, "August's."

Bailey, disbelieving, "Who put the plan together? August didn't put the plan together."

Abreu explained, "August said he was going to have Perez drive out a logging road. He specified A&W because it was the first one that popped to mind. He threw this plan all together in one night. And we went along, we did what seemed right. Spilling the alcohol in the truck was a convenient situation because the alcohol was there. And like I said, Hippy threw the bottles."

"Whose idea was it to duct tape him?" Bailey asked.

"That would have been Hippy or August," Abreu said, "because August had a small roll of duct tape that he said he picked up at Circle K. He brought that out with him. And it was, like, the restraining thing."

"When I put the duct tape under the microscope, is it going to match the duct tape that was in your car?" Bailey wanted to know.

Abreu said, "Hippy got rid of the duct tape that was used. I don't know where he got rid of it, but he informed me he got rid of it."

Bailey was sweeping up, the case was made. "Anything else you can think of? Anybody else who knows what went down out there other than what you told me about?"

Abreu answered, "Like I said, August informed Mike. Other than that, I don't know of anyone else he would have informed."

"Mike's like you," Bailey said. "He doesn't want to go down for something he didn't do. Getting back to when they came back up out of the bushes, what did they tell you had happened?"

Abreu recalled, "Originally, it was scramble to get into the truck and get out of there. As we were going, I looked at them, and I said, 'Is he, you know, is he dead?' And Aaron said, 'I got him right in the throat. He gurgled.' And August said, 'Living people don't gurgle,' which was a spin-off of a joke from The Critic when The Critic's dad says, 'Penguins don't fly'."

Bailey, like everyone else in law enforcement who would encounter Stuckey, commented, "That guy's not operating on all cylinders."

Abreu agreed. "August has like about half his brain functioning for him, the other half functioning against him."

There it was, a murder, and all of it occurring in broad daylight on a 9am Friday morning on a perfect late summer day not a mile from the Fort Bragg Police Department. Everyone in Fort Bragg knows the spot, knows it would be just about the most unlikely place on the entire Mendocino Coast to hijack a passerby, chase him back and forth on a normally busy bridge, assault him, ransom his glasses, hit him over the head, drag him down off the road into the bushes, duct tape him to a tree, and plunge a knife blade into his Adam's apple. 

If that's what happened where it happened, and apparently it was. There was no blood in Perez's truck and no sign that Perez was killed any other place on or about the A&W Road.

Maybe the joggers, bicycle riders, loggers, hikers, and dog walkers who are usually passing back and forth over the bridge on a fine, sunny late summer morning were all at home, still mesmerized by the incessant replays of those passenger planes flying forever into the World Trade Center. Whatever the reason, no one happened by. Donald Perez's last stand was not witnessed in any of its essential parts by a single soul.

The three conspirators were seen twice, however. A logging crew, on their way to work, had seen four young men farther up the road near Perez's truck, and the man driving the crummy transporting the loggers had seen them again on his way back into town. The loggers hadn't seen anything felonious, just four guys standing around, then three guys standing around, but they would have no trouble identifying August Stuckey, 19, Tai Abreu, also then 19, and Aaron Channel, then 20, as the three persons they saw on the A&W road the morning of September 14th. 

Perez's perfectly maintained blue Dodge Ram, its doors unlocked, the key in the ignition, was found late the next day, three miles east of his corpse and the bridge. 

A young man from Albion named James Montgomery had first alerted the Fort Bragg police to the seemingly abandoned Dodge Ram. The Fort Bragg police called Cliff Lathrop, a former Fort Bragg police officer and now a security man for Anderson Logging who logged the area, and a search crew went out to look for the truck's owner. They found empty wine coolers strewn around the truck's interior and an address book on the passenger seat. The address book contained August Stuckey's name and telephone number. The truck was hauled to the Fort Bragg Police Department headquarters, right past what was left of Donald Perez.

James Montgomery, as it turned out, is the half-brother of Galina Trefil, the young woman who would marry Aaron Channel at the Mendocino County Jail. 

Montgomery was vague as to when he'd first seen the truck, but he was pretty sure it had been the afternoon of September 14th. This righteously concerned citizen had then blithely walked into the Fort Bragg Police Department where, just as blithely, he informed the lady at the desk that he was carrying a pistol because, "You never know what you're going to find in the woods this time of the year." Montgomery then told the police while he was out hiking that day he'd seen a well looked after Dodge pick-up in the brush about three miles up the road from the bridge. 

The police said they assumed Mr. Montgomery, being armed and not particularly dressed for recreational hiking, had been looking around for marijuana patches to rip off. It was, after all, the time of year that the lucrative plants are ready for harvest, by both thieves and their planters, and marijuana gardens thrive throughout the 30 miles of back country separating Fort Bragg from Willits. 

But speculation not being grounds for arrest, the police thanked Mr. Montgomery for having exercised his civic responsibilities, handed him his Glock 27 back and bid him good day.

Having discovered Stuckey's name and phone number in the address book in plain view on the front seat of Perez's truck, the police called Stuckey in for a chat. Stuckey said he knew Perez and had expected to see Perez the morning of September 14th, but Perez hadn't shown up. Detective Bailey was suspicious, but it wasn't until Michael Johnson went to the police three weeks later to tell them that he was pretty sure his friends had killed someone, that Bailey knew Perez was a homicide victim, not merely someone who'd pounded down a six pack of wine coolers then staggered off into the woods and gotten himself fatally lost. The detective also knew instinctively that Stuckey knew what had happened to Perez.

Perhaps aroused by Stuckey's fantasy that Perez was rich, perhaps out of a stoned, misplaced sense of loyalty to their occasional friend, perhaps out of pure, murderous boredom with their lazy, aimless lives, Abreu and Channel had decided to help Stuckey bring off his lunatic robbery scheme. 

The three unlikely conspirators, camping in the woods at the Jackson State Forest egg taking station, stayed up much of the night before planning their first adventure in crime. Given the hours they put into it, their eventual plot wasn't so much a plan as an hallucination. 

Donald Perez was conceded to have a bad temper, even by his family. He was also something of an enigma to them. He'd spent 11 years in the Marines before opting for an honorable discharge and, because of his temper, had bounced from job to job ever since. At six-foot-tall and 165 pounds, Perez was in good shape. One of the mysteries of his abduction and murder is how three unathletic potheads could have subdued a Marine with a bad temper and no known reluctance to engage in physical combat, but they did. 

The ex-Marine had done some jail time for brandishing a hand gun at neighbors he thought were making fun of him. He'd earned a month in jail and three years probation for that one. When the Santa Ana police were informed that Perez was a missing person, the officer who happened to answer Mendocino County's first inquiring phone call, asked, "Who'd he kill?" Perez had just come off probation when he was murdered in Fort Bragg.

The dead man was last seen alive on the morning of September 13th by his roommate, Paul Smith, and his landlady, Paz Nelson. Smith and Nelson both described Perez as "quiet with a hot temper." He'd rented a room from Nelson for eight years. Even Perez's roommate in the Santa Anna house claimed to know little about him, less even than his landlady. The landlady and the roommate both said Perez spent "a lot of time on his computer," and that both men and women sometimes visited him, "but more men than women." They said that they knew that Perez had just been fired from a truck driving job for threatening a co-worker, but they were sure he would soon get another job because he was disciplined and hard working. Perez had some $8,000 in the bank and he owned his new truck free and clear. For a guy who bounced around the job market, he did pretty well.

Perez's family certainly didn't know that their Donald was involved in the most vile exploitation of children that there is. When the police examined Perez's computer after his murder they destroyed the many illegal pornographic images of children they found there. 

"The first disk, labeled Guy-1," the police report says, "contains a mix of graphic images that depict primarily male homosexuality. While most of the images appear to be young adults, some are of minors, both male and female, engaged in various forms of sex acts. The disc labeled ADF-2 Guy-2 NS contains a mix of graphic images that are primarily nude photos of prepubescent girls and boys. Some photos include minor boys and girls engaged in sex acts with adults. Due to the illegal nature of these images, these discs should not be returned to the decedent's next of kin and should be destroyed." The police report went on to say the images had indeed been destroyed "to spare the family." 

Deanne Perez-Granados, Perez's sister, works at Stanford University. She concedes that she speculated about her brother's hidden life. 

"I wondered about his sexuality because it had been some time since Don had been in a relationship with a woman. So although I'm surprised by his relationship with this Stuckey person, I'm not completely surprised. But Don was a good person, the kind of person that if a friend or family member was in need, he was there for us."

Perez-Granados said that the murder of her brother had been "a pretty difficult couple of years for us, and to re-visit all this is too painful. I want to humanize Don, though. He was younger than me, the oldest of the four children in our family. We are Irish-Scots-Latino. Don was the nurturing one. He cared very much about us. We were all only a year-and-a-half apart. We grew up together around Pasadena, then we moved to San Francisco when my mother re-married. That was in the mid-1970's when my mother re-married and we moved to San Francisco. Don didn't do all that well in school but he was very intelligent. He could figure out how things worked. In high school he took a lot of vocational education classes, especially in electronics and mechanics. In the Marines he worked on airplanes. He'd gone to Europe and Japan with the Marines. I just don't believe my brother was sexually involved with one of them. I think that's just a way of them trying to elude guilt."

Donald Perez is buried in Portland. His mother, Gladys Fontaine, lives in nearby Eugene. Her daughter says, "My mother wanted him nearby to be buried where she and my stepfather plan to be buried," adding, "the one thing I want to be conveyed about my brother is that he was a very caring person, and that whatever went on between him and... well, he did know one of the people. He was going up there to help that person, to give that person money for whatever purpose that person needed it. The end result was that this person took his life. There's a big hole in our family because he's gone."

The grieving sister is perplexed by her brother's killers. 

"I looked at them in court. It's a puzzle to me. They didn't look like the kind of people who could do the horrible things they did. My brother was not a violent person. I just don't see him threatening anybody to where they would feel compelled to do what these three did." 

Perez-Granados said her brother was close to his family, always sending birthday cards, frequently spending time with her and her family's children, "his surrogate kids," playing with them for hours at a time and taking the older ones to Disneyland. 

"My son, all his nieces and nephews, just adored him," Perez's sister emphasizes. "Whenever they were with him, they were just climbing all over him."

Gladys Fontaine describes her son as loving and generous. 

"He was a good, giving person, and there's not too much I can talk about now because it hurts too much," she says.

In addition to his mother and sister, Perez is survived by his stepfather, John Fontaine, and two brothers, Rocco and Michael Perez. 

Perez's family is not the only person puzzled by his killers. The three young men weren't the usual rootless, drug-driven criminals familiar to Mendocino County law enforcement. All three had functioning families who were behind them before and after their horrendous criminal misadventure. To everyone who knew them, their rootlessness would only be temporary. They'd get jobs, or go to school. It was only a matter of time before they grew all the way up. They'd never admired criminals or themselves been involved in criminal conduct. They certainly weren't tough guys. Young people who know them were disbelieving when Channel, Abreu and Stuckey were arrested for the Perez murder. 

"Those guys? They did what? No way!" was a typical comment of one contemporary. 

August Stuckey was something of a social isolate, but Abreu and Channel had wide circles of respectable friends, and all three were intelligent, literate, and fascinated by the confused world they spent hours trying to puzzle out in long, all be them stoned, conversations in Michael Johnson's backyard and in the shack on Todd's Point out behind Channel's mother's house. 

"If there's a way to describe them," an adult acquaintance would say, "I'd call them like young beatniks from the 1950s. They read a lot poetry, they wrote long letters to each other, and they were drawn to the various brands of undisciplined mysticism that floats up and down the Mendocino Coast. They called themselves 'pacifists.' Rougher kids described them as wusses and weirdos, but also said they were the absolute last guys who would kill somebody. Take away the dope and the violent music and video games and these three never would have harmed anyone. Sad to say though, there are always a bunch of kids like them at loose ends around here. And there's dope of all kinds everywhere on the coast and not a whole hell of a lot of intelligent adult-type input that alienated, confused kids can respect. But Aaron Channel was the lead guy. The other two looked up to him. Stuckey couldn't have done anything like it by himself. Ditto for Abreu. Channel could have stopped it. Why he was involved is the biggest shocker of all."

Like so many other alienated youngsters up and down the Northcoast, Channel and Abreu spent their days wandering around Fort Bragg, often stopping in at the informal youth center on Laurel known as the Headlands Cafe. When Headlands closed at ten, they'd head for the all-night Denny's north of downtown on Highway One. In the summer months, the two young men would spend many days and nights camping out in the woods east of town. They were always short of money, but there was no work that appealed to them. There isn't much work of any kind on the Mendocino Coast for restless, haphazardly educated boys who'd struggled through high school. Tai and Aaron were adrift. 

The Ukiah Daily Journal, and the two interchangeable weeklies "serving" the northern part of the Mendocino Coast, the Fort Bragg Advocate and the Mendocino Beacon, all three owned by the same newspaper chain, printed inflammatory news stories based entirely on press releases from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's office. The New York Times-owned Santa Rosa Press Democrat published equivalently prejudicial pre-trial accounts of the Perez murder. The newspaper stories were invariably accompanied by gaunt mug shots of the alleged killers. These forlorn booking photos reinforced the newspapers' press release depictions of the defendants as aimless drug psychos. 

The Northocast media, including the opportunistically "liberal" Philo-based public radio station KZYX, often mentioned that the victim was gay, implying that Perez was a double victim. Considerable pressure was brought on the District Attorney's office to add the additional capital charge of hate crime to Perez's death but, according to District Attorney Norm Vroman, "It just wasn't there. We looked hard for it, too." 

While the three suspects were buried beneath a barrage of prejudicial public statements from their prosecutors, their defense attorneys said nothing. Public opinion being duly poisoned, the defendants undefended, there was no way any of the three alleged killers could get anything resembling a fair trial in Mendocino County.

Typical of public opinion elicited by the inflammatory media coverage of the case was this letter from a person calling himself Juan Garcia of San Francisco; Garcia was responding to one of the rare, defendant-friendly letters-to-the-editor from Kande Trefil, Aaron Channel's mother-in-law:

"The naive, mawkish article by Kande Trefil in defense of Aaron Channel and Tai Abreu reflects the deep denial of the local hippie counter-cultural community regarding the murder of Donald Perez. How could the sons of such an enlightened culture commit such a heinous crime? Impossible! See, Aaron was a Buddhist and such a sweet guy. Uh-huh, and The Sniper was a Muslim and an upstanding family man, and of course those two kids at Columbine came from such nice families. Give us a break! Actually, these guys reflect the self-indulgent, narcissistic hippie-dippie culture they grew up in the 'Albion Nation' of New Age charlatans, welfare deadbeats, dope dealers, scam artists, and now robbers and murderers. Of course that milieu is definitely minor league compared with the environment of the Aryan Nation, Nazi Low Riders and bad boys that these guys are gonna be functioning in for some time at Pelican Bay or Corcoran or wherever. It's time they grew up and took it like men if they expect to survive because, whine as much as you will, they are not getting out for a long, long time... Yeah, you people go ahead and blame it all on August Stuckey, the youngest, physically smallest and most vulnerable of the three, and the only one who can plausibly be seen as a victim in this matter mitigating his culpability, having suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the deceased, an older man twice his age."

Somehow Stuckey, a kind of rural innocent just turned 18 had been beguiled into a sexual relationship with the 39-year-old Perez. Given the age discrepancy, the reasoning goes, and given that Stuckey had legally been a child of 17 a few months before he killed Perez, Stuckey was a child and Perez was a child molester.

In living fact, a 17-year-old is not a child and none of the three accused killers were raised in the hippie households of the mythical Albion Nation or in loose households anyplace else.

But the three accused and their few supporters would consistently express outrage at "child molesters," in whose dreary ranks, they would allege, marched Perez because of his relationship with young Stuckey and the post-mortem discovery of child pornography on Perez's computer. In this twisted reality, the distinction between a pervert who collects child pornography and a pervert who actually molests children was lost, and somehow Perez had only gotten what was coming to him.

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