It's Better to Not Know 

Burglars break Montclair doors, gas goes missing in Berkeley, and defense attorneys are just doing their job.

We've all wanted to ask a criminal defense attorney, "How can you represent that pig?" They do it because somebody's got to, says Kimberly Cazinha, who handles East Bay cases for Summit Defense. "No matter what you've done," she tells Apprehension (I haven't done anything), "you deserve to be represented according to the law. Sometimes, yes: People are guilty. But we're there to make sure that the prosecution doesn't cross any boundaries and that the accused isn't being overcharged. We really believe in the Constitution." People accused of everything from money laundering to murder seek her help. "Usually they're pretty nice people. It's human nature to want to help them and do a good job for them." Do they tell the truth? "Most are more honest than you'd expect." And sometimes "it's easier if you never know whether or not they actually did what they're accused of doing. You don't want your emotions to cloud your judgment or your ability to do your job. Depending on the crime, sometimes it's better to not know."

Then again, some clients truly seem innocent. Cazinha is currently representing a teenager accused of rape by a high-school girl. "At a party, everyone got pretty intoxicated, and she claims she found him on top of her when she awoke," she says. "She went home very intoxicated. The next day, she and her mother went to the hospital. She hadn't showered. They tested her, got a rape kit. ... She insisted that she had never had sex with anyone before this incident. The tests came back with someone else's DNA, who wasn't my client. Then she admitted, 'Well, I also had sex with my boyfriend.' ... She had known my client for several years, and her friends testified that she had been persistently trying to hook up with him." Her client says he demurred. "These cases are hard because when people hear the word 'rape,' they don't want to believe that someone would falsely say such things. But it happens all the time." During the preliminary hearing, the girl's family "absolutely hated me," Cazinha says. "They sat there giving me disgusted looks. But I'm just doing my job, so I'm not really bothered by people's reactions to me. You can hate me, and that's okay."

Gas Theft

Continuing reports of predawn siphonings include two on September 12: one on 10th Street, another on Grizzly Peak Boulevard, according to Berkeley police logs.

We Need Steel Doors

Another trend, now plaguing Montclair, is burglars breaking down houses' doors to enter when no one is home. One resident tells her neighborhood-watch group that sometime between 9:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. on September 17, robbers "broke our front door and took our flat-screen television, a camcorder, and a small safe which had all our personal documents (wills, SS cards, passports, etc.)." Similar reports have surfaced this month.

Not Joking Anymore

"Amariae Sanders was my friend and neighbor. He was very kind. ... He was always smiling always joking around, he was just fun to be around," a former neighbor claims at an online memorial page for the sixteen-year-old shot to death by the terrified owner of San Pablo's A&L Posters after jumping over the shop's counter in a September 17 armed-robbery attempt.

Sweet!

You know your attacker belongs to the Slow Food Nation when the vandals wield maple syrup. According to a Piedmont police report, it was sluiced all over a home's walkway and porch on Sept. 7. The rest of us just get egged.

No Blood for Blood

Albany nurse Judy Kerr responds to her brother's still-unsolved 2003 murder with anti-death-penalty activism. As a liaison for California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, she does public appearances with exonerated former death-row prisoners. "We're human beings," Kerr tells Apprehension. "We're gonna make mistakes. Can we perfect our system enough so that no one who's innocent ever gets executed? We cannot." Those vowing to avenge blood with blood are "confusing justice with the grieving process. Putting someone to death because your loved one was murdered has nothing to do with grieving." When, after the June 22 slayings of her husband and sons in San Francisco, Danielle Bologna said she wanted the death penalty for their killer, "she hadn't slept in two days," thus couldn't be rational, Kerr says. "But now that headline has been framed as her position, forever." Kerr's group wants citizens to write their politicians anti-death-penalty letters on September 25, this year's National Day of Remembrance for Homicide Victims. Her brother Robert, a hotel clerk and avid hiker with many East Bay friends, was beaten and strangled in Everett, Washington: "It's categorized as a cold case — that horrible terminology," says Kerr, who won't watch the TV drama of the same name.

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