I stated that I would use the blog to comment on the effect on my Marsy’s Law survivor’s rights during Urdiales’ trial for murdering Robbin and four other young California women.
Voters approved Marsy’s Law in 2008, 22 years after Robbin’s murder. During those years, Genelle and I suffered cruel abuse by the original Orange County, CA, Sheriff’s investigating detective: insults; ridicule; unanswered phone calls; coarse, vile gutter language, swearing, at us; demands we not “bother” the detectives with inquiries, questions, requests or leads. The detective said his department and investigators had other things to do and that we were hindering them, getting in the way. It was a nightmare. The abuse began in earnest around the anniversary date of Robbin’s death day (1987). Genelle and I suspected something must have gone terribly wrong with the investigation to cause such outlandish behavior.
I can not forgive the detective for the misery, sorrow and anguish caused to Genelle and me. There was no Marsy’s Law to protect us all those years. Any cooperation given us, or to any survivors, was solely at the discretion and kindness of the detectives and prosecution. Basically, victim’s and survivor’s were not part of the criminal justice system, we were by-standers who must not interfere, not talk until asked, rarely consulted: Marsy’s Law changed all that.
We became full fledged Marsy’s Law supporters. We were determined that the Law be approved by voters. We believed we had an obligation to future survivors. We wrote many letters to editors throughout the state, to magazines and appeared on local interview programs. Marsy’s Law has a very detailed list of rights for victims and survivors. We now have protection from defense and prosecution abuse. I will use my Marsy’s Law rights in the trial if/when necessary.
Marsy’s Law provides rights and standing, guaranteed to victims and survivors in the California Constitution to participate, be keep informed, at the victim/survivor’s request in all phases of the criminal process, including the investigation and prosecution and sentencing and parole.
And most importantly to Genelle and I, victims and survivors must be treated with respect by the defense and prosecutors.
By the time Marsy’s Law passed, Urdiales had confessed to five California murders (1997), including Robbin’s. He had been convicted (2002 & 2004) by two Illinois juries of three murders committed in Cook County (2) and Livingston County (1). He received two separate death sentences, both of which were commuted by two different Illinois governors to life in prison w/o parole.
Urdiales was finally extradited to Orange County in 2011. The Orange County District Attorney took charge of prosecuting Urdiales for five murders in one trial; this too was not an easy, cooperative process. Again, our suspicions were raised that something was wrong with the investigation/prosecution of Robbin’s murder. The prosecutor repeatedly changed his stories to us and made statements that were stupid and/or not true in the media. He actually said that he was not going to prosecute Urdiales because the “physical evidence at the crime scene was not his.” What!! The prosecutor indicated in one newspaper story that Urdiales was locked up in Illinois, why waste time and money to extradite him for a California trial. The prosecutor called survivors “poor folks” (simpletons?) who can’t understand the problems/dilemma of the prosecutor.
With the start of the trial, I must put away any resentment of our treatment into the past. Focus on the future.
Was our experience normal? No, not at all. Almost all survivors we met throughout the years have high praise for the police and the prosecution. Genelle and I felt the same way toward officers and prosecutors in general and those we honored at awards ceremonies.
I still have no idea what the Orange County problem was/is with Robbin’s murder. I hope the trial will unravel the mystery for me and that Genelle can rest in peace.