~ And I Need Some LIP! ~
Roger Renteria (left) and Jay Whittington of Renteria & Whittington
WE NEED THESE MEN
RENTERIA & WHITTINGTON
My first phone conversation with Roger Renteria, Micah Stewart’s attorney, didn’t go well. After several minutes of talk, I yelled into the phone, “You’re a defense attorney! Defend him, for God’s sake!” and I slammed down the phone.
I immediately emailed someone connected with the Stewart family and said, “Get a new attorney now!” I looked up Renteria and found he was four years out of law school. “He’ll be a disaster,” I emailed the person. “He has no idea what he is doing.”
Do I care about the Cortney Fry case? Oh, my. You just don’t know how much. It is that case and the incest story that caused me to start this website in the first place. I care deeply about both the Fry family and the Stewart family. Let me make that absolutely clear. And my overwhelming concern at the time was that the DA would ask for the death penalty.
It had been a very long time since I’d been in a courtroom. I cut my teeth in Lancaster twenty-five years ago on the likes of Rick Gray, John Pyfer, Jr. and Samuel Mecum. So I had seen some of the best.
When I walked into the preliminary hearing, I had no idea what to expect and I surely wasn’t expecting much out of Renteria.
Sometimes in life, we get a pleasant surprise. Sometimes we are just bowled over. And maybe, just maybe, I’m giving Renteria too much credit because the prosecution had nothing. But I don’t think so.
A defense attorney in Lancaster has a very difficult row to hoe. You can’t be indignant. You can’t offend or appear to insult the DA and certainly not the judge. You have to be respectable and reasonable and collected and make your points with subtlety.
Renteria did all of the above while at the same time kicking the hell out of the prosecution. It was an understated, strong and remarkable defense.
I went to talk to him as soon as the hearing was over and we were still in the courtroom. He looked at me and said “later – Micah” and went out the back door to talk to Stewart.
Later, I sat in the hallway and talked to his associate, Jay Whittington, for a good twenty minutes or more.
Lancaster needs these young men. Seriously, Lancaster needs them. They are good and caring and not jaundiced by the system. And they believe in justice.
And what the Lancaster Newspaper have never even noted in their coverage of the current mistrial – is that even with the juror’s knowledge of the homicide charge against Stewart, Renteria got two verdicts of not guilty on attempted homicide charges in that trial. Two. And those not guilty verdicts rightfully stand.
Coming tomorrow – one of the many reasons we need them – “City cop testifies via phone from Iraq; man jailed” by Janet Kelley, Saturday’s New Era (click here).
THE VIDOCQ SOCIETY
“We will not be inviting you to our meeting,” said Frederick Bornhofen by phone to me last evening. You see, Bornhofen is Chairman of the Board and Case Management Director for the Vidocq Society (click here). They are scheduled to try and solve the murder of Lindy Biechler this month. I will have much more on all of this and why I’m not being invited later this week! What a hoot!
A friend has informed me that old copies of LIP’s are being sold in a downtown Lancaster store for $1.50 apiece! Yikes! I will have more details shortly. I am seriously hunting for old copies from January and February of 1980. If anyone has those original LIP newspapers, please, please email me at BeckyH209@aol.com.
For those of you who don’t know, the Lancaster Independent Press was a real newspaper for years and years in Lancaster (my friend said she bought three copies; one from 1969 and two from 1970). I am going to have some of the history here shortly. It was one of the longest lived “alternative” newspapers in this country and I hope the spirit lives on through this website.
CHANGE IS COMING
Speaking of this website, major changes are coming…so please stay tuned and thank you for reading LIP News!
~ Before the Retrial ~
CORTNEY FRY HOMICIDE TRIAL WILL COME FIRST
“There can be no doubt that Defendant’s possible involvement in the murder and burning of a young woman’s body is highly emotional and inflammatory.”
JUDGE MADENSPACHER’S FULL OPINION IN THE MICAH STEWART MISTRIAL IS HERE.
I spoke to Assistant District Attorney Christopher Hackman by phone this morning. He prosecuted the Stewart attempted homicide trial and will be the prosecutor in his murder trial in September. He said the retrial of the attempted homicide charge will “probably be after the homicide trial in September.” He said it makes more sense. If they were to retry the attempted homicide case first, he said, that would push back the Cortney Fry homicide case that is already scheduled for the September term of Criminal Court. Asked if the prosecution plans to retry Stewart on all of the four courts that were vacated (one attempted homicide and three counts of aggravated assault,) he said “that would be the plan.”
LIP News will not publish Saturday or Sunday this weekend. Please check back on Monday for a full review of Stewart’s trial and the New Era story “Chatty jurors force mistrial.” Please note that I am printing the juror’s names and the Lancaster Newspapers have chosen not to.
I would like to commend the juror who did her civic duty and wrote Judge Madenspacher the letter. I also do not in any way disparage the jurors who discussed the homicide charge. The jurors were chosen on a Wednesday. They returned on Thursday to find that two prosecution witnesses did not appear/could not be found. Judge Madenspacher continued the trial until Monday telling jurors not to discuss the case or read or watch any TV stories about it. I think we would all agree that as human beings, that is an almost impossible task.
Thank you for reading LIP News and please check back on Monday. And please read Lanco Yokel's article! The link to it is right below this box.
IT’S FRIDAY! Start your day off right with “GibE, It’s Up to You.” Click here and check back later today…
*** BREAKING NEWS ***
~ Judge Madenspacher’s Opinion ~
Attorney Roger Renteria
MISTRIAL FOR STEWART
The beginning of Judge Madenspacher’s Opinion and his Order in the Micah Stewart case are below. The entire 7-page opinion will be posted here tomorrow along with a great deal more on this case and the DA’s press conference this morning to take attention away from this story. Jay Whittington, a partner in Renteria & Whittington, said by phone this morning, "We are very pleased. We got everything we requested."
Micah J. Stewart (hereinafter “Defendant”) was found guilty on March 7, 2006 of the following charges: one count of criminal attempt at homicide (felony 1), and three counts of aggravated assault (felony 1). Defendant was found not guilty on two counts of criminal attempt at homicide (felony 1).
Defendant is also charged in an unrelated incident with the murder of another individual. During Voir Dire, any prospective juror with any knowledge of Defendant’s pending homicide charges was struck for cause.
The day after the verdict was reached, this Court received a faxed letter from Ms. Deborah Kamacho, a juror in the instant case. As a result of this letter, Defendant’s attorney, Mr. Roger Renteria (hereinafter “Defense Counsel”), filed a Motion for Extraordinary Relief and a hearing was held on April 11, 2006. At this hearing, Ms. Kamacho was called to testify. Ms. Kamacho testified that during the trial she and three other jurors (Helena Russo, Darlene Greenly, and John Zubeck) went to lunch at the Red Rose Diner. (Notes of Testimony, Post-Conviction Hearing. page 6, lines 9-10). (Hereinafter “N.T.P.C.H.”) Ms. Kamacho alleged that during this lunch, Ms. Greenly told her that Defendant was the “one who killed his girlfriend [Courtney Fry].” (N.T.P.C.H., page 7, lines 4-5). Ms. Kamacho also alleged that on the day after the jury was picked, an alternate juror (Courtney Fikkert) told the entire jury paned that she now knows all about Defendant’s other charges. (N.T.P.C.H., page 8, lines 1-5). However, Ms.Fikkert did not go into any detail regarding the nature of those charges. (Id. at lines 5-6.)
Ms. Helena Russo was also called to testify at the Post-Conviction Hearing. Her testimony basically corroborated Ms. Kamacho’s testimony. However, she noted that when Ms. Fikkert told the jury panel that she knew all about Defendant’s other charges, she said “there’s a lot more to it and it’s really bad.” (N.T.P.C.H., page 14, lines 24-25.)
Finally, Ms. Darlene Greenly testified at the Post-Conviction Hearing. Ms. Greenly testified that although she did not remember what she said during the lunch, she may have said that Defendant had a pending murder trial against his girlfriend. (N.T.P.C.H., page 18, lines 3-4). Furthermore, while both Ms. Kamacho and Ms. Russo testified that Defendant’s pending charges were never mentioned during deliberations (N.T.P.C.H., pages 9, lines 7-8; page 14, line 17), Ms. Greenly testified that she mentioned Defendant’s pending charges after the verdict slip was filled out but before the jury officially announced their verdict. (N.T.P.C.H., page 19, lines 10-22.)
AND NOW this 30th day of May 2006, upon consideration of the Defendant’s Motion for Extraordinary Relief, it is hereby ORDERED that the jury’s verdicts of guilty on Counts I, IV, V, and VI of the information are vacated and a new trial is granted. The jury’s verdicts of not guilty on Counts II and III of the information shall stand.
BY THE COURT:
JOSEPH C. MADENSPACHER
*** BREAKING NEWS ***
“$20,000.00 on June 24, 2005 from "Sprague & Sprague." The occupation listed was ‘Attorney’ (singular) but Nigro failed to report the full name of the person contributing.”
PA Clean Sweep – click here.
*** BREAKING NEWS ***
MISTRIAL FOR STEWART
Judge Madenspacher has ordered a mistrial in the Micah Stewart attempted homicide trial. Further, the two not-guilty verdicts on two charges of attempted homicide will stand. The prosecution cannot retry them.
Please check back tomorrow for all of the details…