Thursday, June 06, 2013

Ah, the implications are rich with this one.

Gawker writes of the acquittal of Ezekiel Gilbert in the killing of prostitute Leonora Frago: Texas Says It's OK to Shoot an Escort if She Won't Have Sex with You.  I learned of this story when TBeck's comment on someone else's link to it popped up in my Facebook friend.

There's a lot of "this is Texas we're talking about", as though shitty verdicts are never handed down anywhere else. 

These comments and some of the others have two main implications:

1) The verdict is racially motivated, as in comments like this one:

OK - I finally clicked on the link and now I get it - Ezekiel Gilbert is neither black nor Mexican.  And the victim looks vaguely non-Caucasian. So it all makes sense.
 2) The verdict came down because of Texas's right-leaning politics, as in comments like this one:

Now that's the Libertarian dream in action: that man paid good money to rent the body of another human being in the free market, and when she didn't deliver the promised services he asserted his property rights without appealing to the tyrannical state by shooting her. Texas — the beacon of liberty!

There are, of course, problems with both of these theories:

1) San Antonio is 63.2% Hispanic (including, apparently, a fairly large proportion of "white Hispanics"--Wikipedia says that 72.6% of the population is white, but only 26.6% are "non-Hispanic whites").  Though Ezekiel Gilbert does look fairly white in his picture, that's a pretty idiotic assumption to make, given the demographics of the area.  And for that reason, it's equally idiotic to assume there were enough white folks on the jury to have made that decision based upon the races of those involved.  Further, these are the names of the defense lawyers: Bobby Barrera and Roy Barrera, Sr.  These are the names of the prosecutors: Matt Lovell and Jessica Schultze.  Again, you can't draw firm conclusions from white-seeming names, but it's pretty damn obvious the dude had some Latinos on his side.

2) Bexar is a blue county.  Julian Castro, our mayor, was the fucking keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention.  Bexar was one of a handful of counties in Texas that went blue in the last national election.  We are hardly representative of the "Libertarian ideal".  Or of Republicans.

So, what was it? Not having been part of the jury, I don't know.  It certainly appears to be a questionable verdict, on the surface.  I am under the impression--and I may well be mistaken--that our laws allowing you to shoot people to recover stolen property wouldn't protect you if you're in the commission of an illegal act.  But we have a history of uneven prosecution of sex crimes in this town--the whores are much more likely to be arrested than the johns.  The defendant's claim that he didn't intend to kill her when he shot her is total bullshit.  It's a Rule Two violation. 

But without knowledge of the true specifics of the case, I don't really feel comfortable making assumptions.  I mean, it looks a lot like sexism, but for all the hell I know the jury was mostly women (in which case it could have been disdain for the whole prostitute thing, but again I just don't know).   It could have been that the prosecution  presented a shitty case, or that the jury was not given the possibility of convicting him on lesser charges--remember that murder takes a certain mind-set, and there's no indication he set out that night to murder an "escort."  I don't know.  All I do know is that the implications people showcasing their ignorance and prejudices.

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