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Don’t Blame The Undertaker

I was searching Google high and low for all things wrestling in order to get some ideas for Face To Heel, and I came across a strangely titled article. “Father Who Killed Son With Wrestling Move To Serve 30 Years.” According to the report, Alonso Castillo, a 26 year old man, pled guilty to second degree murder this August and was recently sentenced to serve 30 years for killing the 6 month old baby.

 

While caring for his son, Draven, Castillo decided it would be appropriate to wrestle with the infant when he had become a bit fussy. The report says “in a move from his favorite wrestler, The Undertaker, the defendant lifted Draven into the air and slammed him into the ground.” The child suffered a fractured skull and traumatic brain injury, which caused his death two days after the incident. Mother, Paige Hydle, was not present during the time of the injury.

Neighbors stated that after Castillo dropped Draven, he came to their apartment and told them that his son was not breathing. He then “distractedly watched” as they called for help and attempted CPR. The neighbors stated that Castillo kept repeating over and over that he was in trouble due to a trespass warning from apartment management. Apparently Castillo had thrown a chair through a glass window while arguing with Hydle.

 

 

The investigation showed that Draven had “multiple bruises, a fractured arm, and a cut tongue.” Castillo’s original excuse was that he was imitating The Undertaker’s Tombstone Piledriver (though the actual move is not mentioned by name in any news stories). When officers questioned Castillo a second time, he confessed to slamming Draven on the ground because he wouldn’t stop crying.

The media, as they do, latched on to The Undertaker detail and ran with it. The story became less about an irresponsible idiot murdering an innocent baby and more about the fact that imitating Undertaker caused a death. This had nothing to do with wrestling. You can’t physically perform that move with a baby. A preteen, sure, but not a baby. No, this is the story of a man who couldn’t handle himself and threw his child into the ground, then attempted a pitiful cover story when he realized that he had gotten too rough.

It’s typical; something awful happens and the go-to reaction is to find something familiar and easy to blame it on. “Guy pretending to be Undertaker” makes more sense than thinking a father would be so awful to his own child. But it happens, and we need to quit making excuses for these people and allowing them to hide themselves behind public figures, video games, or anything else. Don’t blame the Undertaker. Blame Alonso Castillo. He’s the one spending the next thirty years in jail.

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Justice For None

It’s been near impossible to avoid hearing about the George Zimmerman trial.  A grown man who pursued a young teenager as part of what he determined was his duty as a member of the neighborhood watch.  A grown man who ended up killing this unarmed teenager.  A black teenager, which angered people even more, as they felt that the teen’s death was no doubt linked to his race.  The trial kept people on the edge of their seats up until the moment that the six person jury, all females, found Zimmerman not guilty of all charges.  Even the lesser charge of manslaughter did not stick, so Zimmerman is now a free man.

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I’ve heard many comparisons between this case and the Casey Anthony trial.  Two Florida cases where a presumed guilty killer got off scot-free and the family of the lost loved one is left feeling that justice was not served.  Some have compared it to the OJ Simpson trial as well; another case where a man who the general public viewed as guilty was allowed to walk free at the expense of lost lives and devastated family.  The only comparison I feel comfortable in making with the Zimmerman trial and any other trial is that the prosecution didn’t do their jobs to their fullest extent and didn’t provide the jury with enough ammunition for a verdict.

This opinion is coming from someone who did not follow every letter of the Zimmerman trial, mind you.  I read the updates in the news, I saw clips of the trial on TV, but I didn’t go above and beyond in obtaining information and immersing myself in the case.  The defense claimed that Martin “viciously attacked” Zimmerman, which caused him to shoot in self-defense.  Prosecutors claimed that Zimmerman profiled the teenager as a criminal, pursued him, and shot him because he wanted to.  Zimmerman did call the non-emergency police line and stated that he was following Martin, and the defense states that there was no suggestion from police that Zimmerman stop the pursuit.  One juror has come out to say that Zimmerman’s heart was in the right place and that things just went terribly wrong.

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Florida’s Stand Your Ground law allows someone to use deadly force if they are in fear for their life.  The confusion came from whether Martin was simply just walking home after buying some candy and afraid because a strange man was following him or if  Zimmerman was attacked by Martin and simply doing what he thought was his duty to protect the neighborhood.  There was no doubt that Zimmerman had injuries, but the question is did Zimmerman put himself in a bad situation by pursuing an unarmed teen and provoking an attack or was Zimmerman honestly in fear for himself and his neighborhood?

I personally cannot see how Zimmerman can say that he felt threatened.  If there is a suspicious person nearby, call the police and have them deal with it.  Keep an eye on the person from a distance and DO NOT FOLLOW THEM AROUND.  Martin wasn’t a large adult with weapons, he was a kid with candy.  Kids have big mouths, sure, but I have a hard time believing that Martin was a threat.  I have a hard time believing that the Stand Your Ground law was meant to allow people to pursue and antagonize others in order to provoke an altercation that would allow them to stand their ground and harm that person.  I firmly believe that Zimmerman got carried away with his neighborhood watch duties and the end result was a young life was needlessly lost.

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Legally though, my opinion (and yours) does not matter.  What matters is what the prosecution can prove and what the defense can counter with.  The prosecution did not do enough to show that Martin was innocent and that Zimmerman acted outside the bounds of the Stand Your Ground law.  They did not do enough to show that Martin was pursued for no reason other than having a suspicious appearance.  They failed to even prove that Zimmerman was guilty of manslaughter.  Whether or not Zimmerman racially profiled Martin is not the issue here.  The issue is that the legal system failed because the people we trust to put guilty people behind bars aren’t living up to their responsibilities and aren’t working hard enough to prove their case.

We can be angry with the jury, but it will do no good.  We can hate Zimmerman and riot and protest, but it won’t fix anything.  We can cry racism until we’re blue in the face, but the only result will be tiring ourselves out.  Look at Casey Anthony for a minute; most people see her as guilty, but the prosecution couldn’t prove it and that is why she is free.  Don’t believe for a second that people on her jury didn’t believe 100% that she killed her daughter.  Don’t believe for a second that one or more jurors on the Zimmerman trial didn’t believe that he killed Martin out of spite, racism, or to be some sort of vigilante.  But belief and personal opinion is not what matters in a trial.  It’s what can be proved and disproved.

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Zimmerman is now said to need to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life.  It’s made worse by the fact that he will be able to retrieve the gun used to kill Martin.  And while I fully believe that this man should suffer with what he did, I do not feel that it’s the public’s responsibility to make him suffer.  What is being fixed by going outside the justice system and harassing or harming a man who was cleared of guilt by the court?  I’m disgusted by the fact that Zimmerman is “not guilty,” but I’m also disgusted by the people who are now saying they’ll attack him on the streets if they see him.  How does that make you any better than him?  How is that helping?  We do not live in a society that accepts eye for an eye justice.  We have to be better than the people who anger us.

What I do hope is that Zimmerman suffers emotionally for what happened, learns from it, and that people learn from his experience.  I hope that Martin’s family is able to find peace and able to move on.  I hope that the focus shifts from racism and onto what seems to be a broken judicial system.  The fact that Zimmerman is a free man is a clear sign that there is a serious problem with the prosecution teams in Florida (and probably elsewhere) and that needs to be repaired.  We need prosecutors to do their job and make people accountable for their crimes.  If you’re riled up about this case, please put your focus in the proper place.  Focus on the people who can make a difference and who can keep something like this from happening again.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Being a parent of a child who isn’t quite old enough to stay home unattended means that my husband and I don’t have the most thrilling social life in the world.  Unless my mother-in-law is free and well rested, we stay home while the rest of the world gets to run wild and free.  As a result, it’s rare that we get to the movie theater; we generally save our movie outings for things we absolutely cannot miss and things that will no doubt be spoiled for us on Twitter if we don’t get in early.  We Need To Talk About Kevin was one of those films I wanted to see badly, just not bad enough to catch it in theaters.  Thankfully, my husband spotted it on one of our movie channels and recorded it for us to watch.

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Based on a novel by Lionel Shriver, the film stars Tilda Swinton as Eva, the mother of a troubled and strange boy named Kevin (Ezra Miller).  [SPOILERS]  We see Eva in the present day, living alone and shunned by the community, as she tries to cope with the ruined life that is her new reality.  Through her memories, the audience is shown Eva’s family from the moment she becomes pregnant with her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) up to the time her life fell apart.  As a baby, Kevin fills the home with his shrill cries, never giving his mother any peace as she tries her hardest to be the loving mother her son needs.  As a young child, Kevin refuses to be potty trained, wearing diapers and even mocking Eva by purposely soiling himself immediately after she has cleaned and changed him.  At only six or seven years old, Kevin seems to be intelligent beyond his years, more manipulative than any child should rightfully be, and even a bit evil.

While Kevin continuously tortures his mother with his lack of affection and his defiant attitude, he is the sweetest boy imaginable when dealing with Franklin.  His father does not get to see the cold and emotionless glare that Kevin lays on Eva, nor does he see any hint of the dark side of his son that is frightening and worrying Eva so much.  Franklin sees Kevin as “just a boy,” certain that his wife is simply overreacting or just not understanding her son properly.  Meanwhile in the present time, we see Eva struggling to repair the damage done to her small home by vandals while receiving nothing but hate, disapproval, or indifference from her community.  At this point, I’m assuming that Franklin divorced her after Kevin lost his mind and did something terrible to either the family or the community. 

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The film jumps a bit, skimming past Eva’s second pregnancy and the arrival of a daughter, Celia.  Blond and cheerful, Celia is the polar opposite of the dark and devious Kevin.  She is loving and clearly adores her parents and big brother.  As Eva tries to hold herself together, Franklin finds a new way to bond with Kevin by encouraging his new-found interest in archery and purchasing him a bow and arrow set.  Kevin is a natural, hitting bulls eye after bulls eye to the delight of Franklin.  There is no delight in Eva’s heart however; Celia’s lost pet is discovered by her in the kitchen’s garbage disposal, Celia is blinded in one eye by drain cleaner, and she suspects Kevin is guilty of the death and the injury.  Of course, Franklin is not hearing a word of it and dismisses her suspicions as their marriage crumbles even further.

As Kevin’s parents plan a divorce, the nearly sixteen year old Kevin plans a massacre.  While Eva is at work, Kevin brings his bow and arrow set to his high school and let’s loose on his classmates.  Multiple students are killed, some are permanently injured, and Kevin is incredibly pleased with himself.  The violent act quickly hits the news and Eva rushes to the school fearing for her son’s life.  When she arrives, she begins seeing bodies penetrated by the arrows she knows belong to her son.  When Kevin finally emerges from the school, the smirk on his face says it all and Eva slowly retreats from the scene as a broken woman.  She returns to her home in search of her husband and daughter, finding them dead in the backyard, two more victims of Kevin’s violence.

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Ezra Miller terrified me, as did Jasper Newell who portrayed the younger version of Kevin.  The cold, dead and dark eyes, the hate in his gaze when looking upon his mother, and the small hints of joy that entered his expression when causing his mother pain felt so real that I found myself loathing and hating Kevin even as a child.  He manipulates his clueless father into seeing him as a sweet little boy who is growing into a wonderful young man.  He gives his mother a single moment of normalcy one night while sick, cuddling up to her as she reads him a story, but quickly returns to his true self and gives her nothing more than indifference and defiance.  Both actors who played Kevin amazed me in the way they gave the character life and allowed the audience to feel the same pain and fear felt by Eva.

Tilda Swinton is perfect as Eva.  Socially awkward, often unsure, but always committed to being the best mother she knows how to be.  I myself would have given up on Kevin, but Eva hangs on for dear life and is constantly searching for ways to connect with him and to find a path to his heart.  She sticks with her son until the very end, remaining in a town where she is hated in order to be able to visit him in prison.  At the end of the film, Kevin’s shell cracks and his nervousness about a transfer to an adult facility seeps through.  As the visit concludes, Eva asks Kevin why he did it.  Kevin replies that he thought he used to know, but now is no longer sure.  Eva embraces her son and he is taken away.  It’s a sad moment, but Eva seems to be so hopeful that her child may finally become the son she wanted him to be.

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We Need To Talk About Kevin gives us a glimpse into the lives of a family that could very well mirror a family in your own neighborhood.  With the multiple and frequent violent acts in schools across the country, we are constantly struggling to find the WHY and the HOW.  Was it the fault of the parent?  Should the child have received therapy or medication?  What were the warning signs?  What was the reasoning?  In the film, Eva is blamed and tormented because of Kevin’s actions, even though she tried her best and did what she could to be a loving mother to her troubled child.  Could she have done more?  Of course, but no evidence exists that would allow us to say that certain actions would have prevented the violent events.  As outsiders, it’s easy for us to pass judgment and make suggestions, but impossible for us to know for sure what we would do if our own child lashed out.  This film allows us to get a glimpse at the creation of a psychopath and the horror of the aftermath, hopefully also giving us a bit of understanding and hopefully some sympathy.

I adored this film, but it also gave me nightmares.  It is terrifying to think that a child you created and loved could be so cold and heartless, even at a young age.  It’s scary to think that a child could be so manipulative and crafty that one parent could be totally blind to the problems while the other parent sees nothing but those problems.  It’s sad that a community could place blame on the family of the guilty party, adding to the pain and grief they are already feeling by shunning them and sometimes causing physical harm, emotional damage, or property damage.  If I didn’t ruin the surprise for you, I definitely recommend checking this film out.  I also plan on hunting down and reading the novel that inspired it; hopefully it lives up to the hype.  Happy viewing.

Dying To Escape

Like many of you, I have been following the Jodi Arias trial fairly closely, getting updates via Twitter and through various news sites.  Her defense that she committed the crime of murder because she was abused, threatened, and afraid is one that can definitely be justifiable.  Anyone who is in fear for their own life has the right to defend themselves against whatever is threatening it.  Unfortunately for Arias, her defense is full of more holes than anyone can count and her excuses surely won’t fly; I predict a guilty verdict in her near future.  That said, what are we to think in a situation where the only way out of a terrible place is to harm another human being, possibly to the point where that person’s life is lost?

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I am one of many people who have been stuck in an abusive relationship.  I was battered, beaten, and very fearful.  It was a low point in my life and I felt that there was no escape from it; I was afraid to run because I did not know what the consequences would be.  Unlike Arias, I enlisted the help of family, friends, and the police to make my escape.  The only casualty in my run for freedom was a cheap toaster from Walmart that he smashed and possibly a couch that he was throwing around the room as I drove away with my belongings.  I had thought many times about fighting back, and did get a few swings in here and there, but killing the guy was not a thought that ever crossed my mind.  Making murder an option seems insane to me.

The issue of domestic violence is cheapened by Arias’s defense.  At this moment, there are women, men, children, and animals being abused or killed at the hands of a thoughtless lunatic who cannot control their anger or urges.  These innocents need to be recognized and need to be helped.  It’s disgusting for a person who is nothing but a cold-blooded killer to jump into the battered woman role simply because it may help a jury sympathize with her and possibly see her as not guilty of her crimes.  A frightened woman trying to defend herself does not stab a man almost 30 times, shoot him, and nearly decapitate him out of fear.  A frightened woman maybe gets one or two in before fleeing the scene in search of help.  A frightened woman does not invent a masked intruder to cover her tracks either, she spills her guts afterward and pleads for understanding.

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I can’t count how many females I’ve come across in my life who have sex with someone when they know they shouldn’t, maybe get pregnant or contract an STD, and then cry rape in order to make themselves seem innocent.  The result is that women who have actually been raped are looked at as liars because of all the women who lie about it.  I fear that the same thing will happen with domestic violence and women who choose to fight back if people like Arias continue throwing it out there as a cover for their terrible behavior and poor choices.  Taking it to a simpler form, for example, when you get one person who lies about a missed call and says the voicemail just didn’t go through, you begin to doubt every person who uses the same excuse.  It makes it much harder for the honest people to be seen as truthful when we have so many reasons to doubt.

Assuming for a moment that every claim Arias made about Travis Alexander is completely true and that he was a terrible abusive piece of dirt who didn’t deserve to live, what was stopping her from escaping the situation in a non-violence way?  Why didn’t she stop the “self-defense” at incapacitation rather than taking it to murder?  Why didn’t she seek support from family, friends, or law enforcement if she was truly afraid?  Why not seek counseling in order to gain the strength to leave him behind?  If all claims were true and Alexander was this horrendous person, is that enough to justify the brutal and senseless way he died?

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Homicide can be considered justified if it’s a matter of only one person getting out of the situation alive and having no other choice.  It is surely an impossible call to make and leaves you living with the fact that you took another person’s life.  It should only be considered as a last resort and isn’t something to be celebrated or enjoyed.  Arias not only wasn’t put in a situation where physically harming Alexander was the only escape, but she seems to have enjoyed killing him and doesn’t seem to have much remorse.  There should not be an excuse for this brutal crime, especially not the battered woman excuse.  Being abused is terrible, but it doesn’t give you the right to act equally as bad and then to use the abuse excuse as a way out.

The problem of domestic violence needs to be taken seriously and must not become a go-to excuse for people looking for a justification for their own bad decisions.  There is almost always a way out that does not involve any bloodshed, so long as the abused person is willing and able to seek out that escape route.  Women who were in the same situation that Arias alleges she was in should not turn to murder as a means of escape, they should simply escape.  When nothing is holding you back except for your own insecurities, there is no excuse for remaining in a bad situation and definitely no excuse for killing your abuser.  I honestly thought I was going to die a few times when trapped in my own abusive relationship.  But then I realized that “trapped” was the wrong word.  I chose to stay, and I could choose to leave.  Cutting those ties are hard and the pain is severe, but it sure as hell beats becoming a murderer and sitting in court at the mercy of my peers.  You don’t defeat evil by becoming evil yourself, and you sure as hell don’t pretend someone was evil in order to justify your own evil behavior.

Surprise!

This season of Dexter started off with a bang.  [SPOILERS]  Picking up right where season 6 left off, Dexter must finally reveal exactly who and what he is to his sister, Debra.  This season dealt in part with the struggle Debra goes through with both her romantic feelings for Dexter and the realization that her brother is the Bay Harbor Butcher.  The structure of this season was also different in that there were two “big bads” with very different and separate stories.  First we have Issak Sirko, a mob boss and ruthless killer who has targeted Dexter for killing his lover after his lover killed a cop.  Second, we have Hannah McKay, who seemed at first to be a victim but soon proved to be a killer who looked out for herself above all others.  In typical Dexter fashion, both killers are targeted and set to receive a spot on his table, but neither are dispatched in a way we are used to.

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This new structure, combined with Captain Maria LaGuerta’s suspicions of Dexter, has successfully broken the image of Dex as an untouchable being and has made him incredibly vulnerable.  His vulnerability is even more apparent when he has Hannah on his table, preparing to end her life as punishment for the lives she has taken.  Before he can remove her from this world, Dexter is overcome with emotion and ends up sparing her and eventually falling in love with her.  It is similar to what he went through with Lila in season two, but different in that Hannah isn’t unstable as Lila was, and is much more similar to Dexter in her thought processes and in the way she projects her image to the rest of the world.  While Dexter lets his guard down with Hannah, opening himself to love and to the future, LaGuerta continues to gather evidence that points away from the late James Doakes as the Bay Harbor Butcher.

LaGuerta’s determination to expose Dexter for the killer he is turns Debra into a silent rival.  Deb “assists” her with the reexamination of the Butcher case, but only to pull her way from Dexter and to plant seeds of doubt in her mind.  Debra and Hannah are also clear rivals, as Deb is unable to allow Hannah to walk free for the murders she committed when younger (that she cannot be charged for) and for the murders she suspects her of committing in the present day.  This adds another element to Deb’s struggle in accepting Dexter’s darker side; how can she allow one to walk free but need to punish the other?  The separation and tension between the two most important people in Dexter’s life is as stressful as it sounds, forcing him to choose between the two women.  Dex does finally make a choice, but only after Hannah makes it clear that Debra is not safe with her walking the streets a free woman.

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When Dexter finally says goodbye to Sirko mid-season, respectfully allowing his lifeless body to drift to the bottom of the sea in the same spot Dex disposed of his lover, his full attention turns to the various women in his life.  Season 7’s finale episode kicks off with Captain LaGuerta arresting Dexter for the suspected murder of Hector Estrada, one of the men responsible for killing his mother as a child.  Dexter has thankfully anticipated this and plants evidence that makes it seem as though LaGuerta was attempting to frame him by planting evidence of her own.  With Hannah in jail and LaGuerta shamed, it seems as though Dexter is in the clear.  Nothing is that simple and easy though; Hannah escapes from custody and LaGuerta comes into evidence implicating both Dexter and Debra.  The other way out, in Dexter’s mind, is to kill LaGuerta.

As Dexter begins to realize what must be done in order to save himself, his sister, and his son, he thinks back to the first time he allowed his mask to slip and for his true self to shine through.  James Doakes, the man he set up as the Bay Harbor Butcher, was the first person to see past Dexter’s phony smile and fake personality.  Doakes had Dexter figured out before anyone else and we were finally able to see the little things he picked up on with these flashbacks in the finale.  As a huge fan of the series, I was thrilled that the writers decided to bring Doakes back and allow him to once again share the screen with Dexter.

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Killing LaGuerta seems to go against the code that was taught to Dexter by his father years before, but not if you take into consideration that part of the code is self-preservation.  Don’t get caught.  LaGuerta is within arms reach of evidence that will damn himself and his sister, leaving his child to an unknown fate.  Even if Dexter takes all of the blame, his son will still be harshly affected.  Dexter’s plan, to kill Estrada and LaGuerta in one swoop and stage the murder to make it seem as though they killed each other, seems fool-proof.  But keeping with Dex’s string of bad luck, Debra shows up at the scene just as Dexter is preparing to shoot LaGuerta.  As LaGuerta pleads with Deb to shoot her brother, Dexter takes a line out of Hannah’s book and tells his sister “Do what you gotta do.”  Sobbing, Debra murders LaGuerta, immediately falling into hysterics and clutching the lifeless body, shocked by what she has just done.

I was baffled by where the season would go after season 6 ended with Debra discovering Dexter’s secret.  With this finale and Debra’s slow descent, I can’t wrap my mind around the possibilities that are in the future for these siblings.  There is only one more season planned for this series; 12 more episodes to complete the story and resolve what can be resolved.  I have to believe that the investigation into LaGuerta’s murder will not be simple and quick.  The scene will no doubt tell the story Dex wants it to tell, especially with him writing the blood report, but what about evidence left behind from Debra’s hysterics in clutching the dead body?  What about the inconsistencies in the blood patterns from Dexter moving Estrada’s body?  What if the ballistics don’t match?  What if someone takes notice that Debra left the New Year’s party for a while after calling the station to get a location on LaGuerta’s car?  What if LaGuerta confided in someone about her suspicions that we’re not aware of?

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This was the most complex season they have had in their seven-year run, and it has also been my favorite thus far.  I have been one of many fans that was on the “Kill LaGuerta” bandwagon, but to actually see it happen was a major and incredible shock.  I never expected Deb to be the one to pull the trigger either, although I also couldn’t imagine her simply walking away from the scene.  The genius that was put into this season definitely makes me sad that we only have one more year before Dexter is gone for good.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the dynamic between Dexter and Debra has shifted, whether or not Hannah will return, if Angel Batista will reconsider retirement now that LaGuerta is gone, and much more.  My hat is off to everyone who had a hand in making this series, and especially this season, a work of art.

Dark Passenger Revealed

After what seemed like an endless wait, Dexter made its triumphant return to our television screens last night.  [SPOILERS]  After toying with the idea of Debra Morgan discovering Dexter Morgan’s secret season after season, last year wrapped with Deb entering the church just as Dexter plunged his knife into Travis Marshall, season 6’s Big Bad.  I’m not ashamed to say that I stood up and yelled at my TV in excitement.  Season 5 brought us close to Deb discovering the truth, putting the two of them in the same room with their final kill.  Deb decided to give Dex and Lumen a running start from the police because she understood and sympathized with Lumen, an abused woman seeking retribution and revenge.  After that close call, I was certain the writers would never allow Deb to see under Dexter’s mask.  Damn, was I glad to be proven wrong.

Season 7 picks up right where 6 left off; Deb was shocked to see Dexter standing over Travis Marshall’s body, wrapped in plastic on the altar of the church.  Dexter begins to pretend to be panicked, claiming Travis attacked him and he didn’t know what to do.  After an internal struggle, Deb agrees to assist Dexter in setting fire to the church to cover his tracks and wait to be called back to the scene to investigate, playing ignorant to what she had just witnessed.  In their hurried state, Dexter’s blood slide falls from his pocket and into an air vent on the church floor.

During the investigation of Travis Marshall’s “suicide,” an officer is gunned down in the street, opening an important investigation for Miami Metro and a distraction for the Marshall case.  Dexter easily embraces his dark passenger and takes matters into his own hands.  His sudden departure from the department, usually overlooked, is noticed by Deb, who then questions Jamie Batista, little Harrison’s nanny, and learns that Dexter takes many late nights “working” at the office.  While Dexter is removing the cop killer from this world and delivering him to the ocean floor, Deb goes to Dexter’s apartment where she finds Dexter’s tools and blood slides.  As Dexter enters the apartment to find it in shambles, Deb sitting in front of the blood slide box, he is asked if he is a serial killer and if he killed all these people.  Having no out, he says yes.

Debra spends the episode putting piece after piece together in discovering who Dexter truly is.  She recalls Dexter’s brother, Brian Moser, the Ice Truck Killer, and the way Brian had Deb on a table wrapped in plastic.  The set up was identical to the way Dexter wrapped Travis and Deb does not see this as a coincidence.  She recalls how Dexter was wearing an apron with plastic sleeves when he killed Travis, dressed in clothes she’s never seen before, which leads her to believe he planned this killing.  She begins to have flashbacks of the night Brian nearly killed her and begins to see that while Dexter did save her, perhaps it wasn’t in his nature to do so.  With the discovery of the blood slides, there is no more denying what she knows and what Dexter has done.

Dexter doesn’t only have Deb to deal with this season in protecting his identity and livelihood.  Louis, a tech at the office and Jamie’s boyfriend, has gone through Dexter’s computer, stolen a blood slide, and mailed Dexter the prosthetic hand from the Ice Truck Killer case.  There is no doubt he knows who Dexter is and it remains to be seen what he will do with this knowledge.  He thinks Dexter is a jerk and it wouldn’t be surprising if he tries to reveal his secret.  The other problem is Captain Maria LaGuerta.  In season 2, when James Doakes was believed to be the Bay Harbor Butcher after Dexter planted the blood slides and set him up before his fiery death, LaGuerta fought the idea to the bitter end, believing there was no way that Doakes could do such horrible things.  After she found the blood slide at the scene of Travis Marshall’s “suicide” and confirmed that no other cases other than the Bay Harbor Butcher case involved blood slides, she is confident that Doakes was not the culprit and seems to be ready to go ahead in finding the real killer.  Doakes always suspected there was something wrong with Dexter and it’s quite possible she could follow his lead and begin to look more closely at him as well.  Jonah Mitchell, the son of the Trinity Killer, has knowledge of Dexter’s true colors, as does Detective Quinn.  Add all of the elements together and Dexter could easily be outed.

I have high hopes for this season and I’m looking forward to seeing what Dexter does to deal with Debra learning about his dark passenger and how she comes to terms with the fact that her brother has an uncontrollable urge to kill.  Will Dexter tell her that their father, Harry, gave him the code to be used to kill only those who have killed others?  Will she understand that he has to kill or will she try to curb his urges to do so?  What will Dexter be forced to do in order to silence LaGuerta and to get Louis off his back and out of his business?  With one more season after this one, there are countless things that could happen and endless possibilities.  Whatever course this takes, I’m definitely rooting for the serial killer to come out on top.

Truth, Justice, & The Italian Way

Yesterday, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted of the murder of Meredith Kercher, overturning their previous convictions.  Rudy Guede’s separate appeal did not have the same result and his 16 year sentence was upheld.  It’s fairly obvious from comments from the Kercher family that they believe all three of these people held some responsibility for the death of their family member.  The most damning evidence was a bloody hand print from Guede under Meredith’s body as well as DNA evidence on her person, DNA evidence from Knox on the knife that was used in the murder, and DNA evidence from Sollecito on Meredith’s broken bra clasp.  While this seems like enough to uphold a conviction, the evidence was shown to not be as reliable as initially thought.

I truly feel for Meredith’s family and hope that they are able to find peace of mind and closure.  To have a family member die in such a violent manner, to have her violated as she was, has got to be heart wrenching.  It’s made even worse when two of the three people you believe to be guilty are set free, their time behind bars counted as time served for lesser crimes, the charge of murder dropped.  It must feel as though justice was not served, as though Meredith won’t be able to rest in peace because not everyone involved in her untimely death received the punishment that was due to them.  The fact that this trial received so much attention can’t help either.  Hopefully the family is left to mourn in peace and Meredith is remembered in a positive light.

The focus of this case has primarily been on Amanda Knox, who has been nicknamed “Foxy Knox” and compared to Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit by her own attorney.  I’ll admit, the one thing that stuck in my mind when first hearing about the trial was Amanda.  It wasn’t because I viewed her as the most important person, but because she was the primary focus of every news report.  Amanda Knox, the pretty girl from Seattle who was being unfairly treated overseas.  Knox, the femme fatale who killed her friend in a jealous rage.  Knox, the unwilling participant in a sexually driven blood bath.  No matter what the viewpoint, she always seemed to be smack dab in the middle with theories orbiting around her.

I imagine that some people feel an obligation of sorts to want Knox to be freed; a US citizen being prosecuted in another country doesn’t sit well with some, especially when you can’t be sure of how their legal system works and tend to assume that they would rather prosecute a foreign person than one of their own.  It’s easy to look at Knox and see a scared little girl, too innocent to be involved in something so violent.  It’s also easy to look at her and see a woman who is using her attractiveness to her advantage, knowing that she can bat her eyelashes and seem as good as gold.

One thing that confused me about this trial was the DNA evidence.  Initially, it was enough to convict all three of the accused in the murder of Meredith.  Now it appears that it was only enough to convict Rudy Guede.  I’m not going to dissect the case, you can do that on your own time if you desire, but it seems to me that DNA evidence is pretty straight forward proof that you were in a certain place or doing a certain activity.  It should be analyzed as soon as possible and recorded.  Part of the reason Knox and Sollecito had their murder convictions overturned was that the evidence was said to have been contaminated.  What I don’t understand is that if it was contaminated as they say, how could you still get a match?  DNA is quite different from one person to the next and it seems to me that contamination would result in a false negative match and NOT a false positive match, especially not for 2 people.

Now that Guede is the only person who has been convicted in Meredith’s murder, the race card players are coming out in full force.  Guede has maintained that the only thing he is guilty of is being in the flat during the murder and not doing more to help Meredith; he was not involved in harming her in any way.  Evidence strongly suggests that he was partially or fully responsible for her death, but his supporters still maintain that since he’s the lone black man out of the three accused, he is the natural scapegoat for the crime and has been wrongfully prosecuted.  The only fair stereotype I do see to lay on Guede is that it’s quite possible he’s guilty because he’s been in trouble with law enforcement prior to the murder.  I’d like to think that we don’t still exist in the separate water fountain era and an innocent man wouldn’t be convicted simply because he’s black and the only other options are white people.

If you’re waiting for my opinion on whether or not Knox and Sollecito are guilty or innocent, pull up a chair and get comfortable because I don’t have one.  I don’t even have an urge to form one because there are too many holes in the story that has been released to the public.  Meredith’s family stated that they would keep faith in the legal system and trust that the judges made the right call, and hopefully the truth will emerge eventually.  It was a graceful response to the result of the appeal and I believe it’s also the correct response.  Nothing is gained from crucifying Knox and Sollecito after the fact.  If they are guilty, it’ll catch up with them eventually.  If they are innocent, it’s a good thing that they’re finally free and can move on from this tragic event.

What we, the general and mostly ill-informed public, need to do right now is to back off a bit and quit trying to inject their opinions into what is now a closed matter.  The parties who have now been deemed innocent of the murder have the right to be able to move on with their lives without fear of retaliation from those who seek to carry out justice in their own way or who feel it’s appropriate to harass them for the crime they were cleared of.  Meredith’s family also deserves to be left alone to heal; they’ve been through more than enough as it is.  Life can be great, can sometimes give you lemons, and sometimes just plain out acts like a bully.  There is very little about this chain of events that can be called positive, but that’s life.  People die before their time, guilty ones get away and innocent ones sit behind bars, people get angry and sad and frustrated, then it ends and starts all over again with a different cast of characters.  This time around, can we please begin to resist the urge to obsess over things we can’t change and let these people fade into the background?

The View From Where You Stand

When Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter Caylee, my heart skipped a beat and I immediately felt angry.  When it was announced that she was found not guilty of even manslaughter and child neglect, I was enraged.  Casey did a great job of portraying herself as a selfish woman who was not prepared to raise a child and who was not quite ready to grow up and accept the responsibilities of adulthood.  The media overwhelmed the public with all the juicy details of Casey’s private life; incriminating photos, rumors from friends, facts from family members and employers.  Casey easily became one of the most hated women in this country.

After the verdict was handed down and Casey was to become a free woman, the collective rage of the public was palpable.  People needed someone to blame.  The court found Casey to be blameless in the eyes of the law, save for lying to law enforcement, and we had been blaming her all along anyway.  The natural scapegoats were the jurors assigned to this trial.  People were outraged that this group of 12 let a murderer walk away after killing a child.  How could they come to such a decision when it was obvious to US that she killed her baby?  These people truly were clueless, heartless bastards.

Jurors have been banned from restaurants, insulted and threatened online, and shunned by family members. One woman quit her job and moved out of Florida because she was afraid for her life.  Nearly every day I check the news websites, there is a story on a juror and the hardships they now face for being associated with this trial.  The hatred and anger that should be reserved for other parties has now landed solely on the shoulders of these jurors.

Personally, I was outraged at the verdict and initially couldn’t understand why she was acquitted of murder and not charged with manslaughter or neglect.  That being said, it’s understandable that Casey was allowed to walk free.  An anonymous juror told People Magazine that the vote to convict Casey of lying to the police was easily 12-0, while the vote to convict her of murder went from 10-2 to acquit to all voting for acquittal after 30 minutes.  The manslaughter charge went from a split decision, to 11-1 to acquit, and finally to 12-0 to acquit in what was called a very difficult decision.  Every single juror interview I have read or seen has included a variation of the statement “I wish we could have convicted her, but the evidence just wasn’t there.”  That may sound like a cop-out to many of us who have had full internet and TV access throughout the trial, but it makes perfect sense to the sequestered jury who had to go solely off of the evidence provided by the prosecution and the defense.  Every single one of those jurors could have thought Casey was a murdering cold-hearted sorry excuse for a parent, but that doesn’t mean a damn thing when it comes time to handing down a verdict.  The only thing that matters is what was presented to them in court, and what was presented was a very weak case by the prosecution.

If we are going to be angry, let’s get angry at the prosecution for not presenting a better case.  Even better, let’s be angry that a small child lost her life.  Let’s get mad over the fact that it took far too long for Caylee to be reported missing because no one seemed to care enough to speak up.  Let’s be angry that a murderer, whether it’s Casey or someone else, is walking free after committing such a vile act.  I truly hope that this case serves as a learning experience for the prosecuting team and that next time around, they are able to build a solid case that finds the guilty party guilty and provides proper punishment.  I also hope that people refocus a bit and stop blaming the jury for doing the only thing they could have done, handing down a not guilty verdict while knowing the public would hate them for it.  These people performed their civic duty to the best of their ability and don’t deserve this backlash of anger and hatred.  Let them move on.

The Verdict Made My Head Explode

[Updated at 2:17 p.m.]  Casey Anthony has been found not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. She was also found not guilty of aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter. – CNN.com

[Updated at 2:20 p.m.] Casey Anthony has been found guilty of four counts of providing false information to law enforcement in the case of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, who was slain in 2008. – CNN.com

[Updated at 2:22 p.m.] Casey Anthony has left the courtroom. – CNN.com

I’ve been following Casey’s story on and off from the beginning and I’ve followed the trial’s progression almost daily.  At first I had my doubts, but as more details of Casey’s behavior following Caylee’s disappearance emerged, the guiltier she got in my eyes.  Assuming the defense’s story about an accidental drowning was in fact true, how does a young mother who just discovered her child drowned, then assisted her father or at least knew her father covered up the accident to look like murder, go from grieving to partying so quickly?  Nights out at bars, getting a tattoo that means “the good life” or “beautiful life,” and acting like she doesn’t have a care in the world.  The only answer I see is that she got rid of her daughter, who she saw as a burden, and then felt free to live her life as she chose without a toddler holding her back.

The defense worked to discredit the prosecution’s evidence of a decomposing body in the trunk of Casey’s abandoned car and I guess the jury believed it.  It’s the defense team’s job to discredit everything in any way they can.  How did the jurors forget about that so quickly and decide Casey is blame free?  To me, this was a damning piece of evidence that Casey put Caylee’s body in her trunk and kept her there for a period of time prior to dumping the body.  The jury also seemed to forget about the internet searched for chloroform and other terms related to the little girl’s death.  Casey’s mom Cindy tried to claim that she made the searches (disproved by her time cards at work) which I saw as a mother’s desperate attempt to help her daughter who is facing the death penalty, but which unfortunately allowed some room for doubt.

I have zero doubt in my mind that Casey murdered her little girl.  I also have no doubt that the prosecution didn’t present a solid enough case for first degree murder.  The thing I don’t understand here is why the jury felt she should get off on the manslaughter and child abuse charges.  They didn’t deny that Casey was a liar, as they found her guilty of lying to law enforcement, so why absolve her of manslaughter and child abuse?  I’m not claiming to be an expert on anything here, but I believe there was enough evidence present to convict her on the manslaughter charge at the very least.  This chick killed her kid and all that’s being done is a conviction for being a liar, and a bad one at that.

Our justice system is fucked, plain and simple.  At the very least, Casey knows exactly what happened to her daughter, and at the most it was done at her hands.  This unnecessary tragedy will go unpunished because a system designed to protect the innocent is also a system that is easily manipulated to allow guilty folk to weasel out of trouble with the assistance of smooth talking attorneys.  At times, I long for years past, where Casey would have been strung up or stoned to death for murdering a baby instead of celebrating as I’m sure she is at this very moment.  I wouldn’t mind seeing the return of “an eye for an eye” justice, especially when the news is filled with stories of babies in microwaves or cages, people shooting and stabbing loved ones, and other horrific events.  I bet people would stop and think before running over their ex in a jealous rage if they knew that their punishment would be getting hit by a speeding car themselves.

I hope Casey enjoys her freedom once she’s released from jail (she can serve up to 4 years for lying to the police, credit for time served).  Karma is a spiteful bitch and it will catch up with her soon.  Murder of anyone is an unspeakable crime, but killing your own child?  You deserve nothing but the depths of hell for that one.

Disposable Children

For the past couple of months, I’ve found myself caught up with the Casey Anthony trial.  For those not paying attention or who don’t care, she’s accused of killing her almost 3 year old daughter, Caylee.  She’s maintaining her innocence and tried to blame her daughter’s death on a fictional nanny and an accidental drowning in her parent’s swimming pool.  The trial has been going on for a while now and every day I’m at work I can’t help read nearly every news story I see about it.

From what I’ve read, I’m certain that she did kill her daughter and carelessly disposed of her body.  I believe the accusations that she did so because she felt her daughter was holding her back from leading a “normal” life, which is one thing the prosecution is trying to prove by showing her participation in hot body contests immediately after her daughter’s disappearance.  I believe it 100% because in a small way, I understand what Casey felt.

Obviously you don’t harm or kill your kid, or anyone for that matter, regardless of how bad you think your situation is.  That being said, if Casey felt trapped, I get it.  I was a single mom too and I remember feeling stressed out due to my parents and their judgmental attitude towards me and the things I wanted to do.  I get how she was frustrated by not being able to go out and party as she used to because she has a responsibility at home.  I get the depression a new mom feels, even to the point where some mothers want to throw their kid out a window to make it stop crying or to get some sleep.  It’s a bitch when you have a kid at a point in your life when you’re not yet ready to fully grow up.

Most people in that kind of situation, including myself, find ways to deal with it.  I sacrificed most of my nights out and instead invited people over so I could have time cutting up with friends while my son slept.  I had to quit going to 2 concerts a month and be very picky about which ones I wanted to attend.  Even if you have the greatest baby sitter in the world, you just can’t live like you used to once there’s a baby in the house.  It changes everything.

In Casey’s case, I think she felt overwhelmed and desperately wanted a way out.  Being one of the many who think she’s guilty, I have to wonder why in the hell she didn’t just have an abortion.  Even if you’re totally against abortion, you can’t tell me it would have been a worse option than killing a toddler by suffocating her and then dumping her in the woods.

I understand a lot of what Casey must have felt.  I sympathize with her.  I also hope that jury finds her guilty of first degree murder and whatever else they can tack on and I hope she received the maximum allowed sentence.  As a mom, you’re allowed to get pissed off and frustrated at your kids, you’re even allowed to imagine how great life would be without them.  But there’s a line, and it’s not even a thin line, more like a brick wall that you have to climb in order to get to the extremes of Casey and other parents who do this kind of thing.  There are plenty of opportunities to quit climbing and jump back down to sanity.  Once you’re over that wall, you’re lost to this world.

I wish I could end this with a brilliant solution, but I’m fully lost on this one.  My son has kept me up at night for weeks on end, stressed me out with bad behavior, frightened me with hospital visits, murdered my social life in a lot of ways, contributed to past weight gain, taken away a “normal” beginning to marriage, and has got me saying “potty” to adults.  He has pooped in the bathtub.  And peed on me.  He has the worse selective hearing in the world.  He uses up a huge chunk of my paycheck.  He spilled water on the bathroom floor one day and tried to clean it with a tablet you put in the toilet tank, which dyed the floor blue and took me an hour to clean up.  Honestly, he can be a pain in the ass.

Still, a hug from him speaks volumes, as does hearing his little voice tell me he loves me.  I look in his eyes and see a world of opportunity ahead of him.  Seeing him grow and develop new talents and quirks is amazing, I love the kid more than I can say.  Not even with a gun to my head could I ever harm that little boy.  Someone please explain to me why the fuck this world is so filled with people who can, because I just don’t get it.

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