I totally missed this

In April 2011, Raogo Ouedraogo was convicted of kidnapping and killing Donald Dietz, who disappeared from Saranac, Michigan in 2007. (In June, Ouedraogo’s alleged partner-in-crime, Rami Saba, was also convicted.) However, I was just looking at the No Body Murder Cases website and found a link to this article and this one from back in December: Janet Neff, the federal judge who presided over Ouedraogo’s trial, has overturned the jury verdict and issued a judgement of not guilty.

You can read Judge Neff’s 36-page ruling here. I present the highlights:

The government acknowledged that Saba was the central figure in the scheme to kidnap and kill Dietz and steal his money and that so much of the government’s case was about Saba that the jury probably wondered at times who was on trial. Nonetheless, it was the government’s ultimate contention that Ouedraogo knowingly and voluntarily agreed to help Saba execute his scheme and helped his friend commit the crime, despite presenting evidence of only Saba’s wrongdoing. […] The government’s case against Ouedraogo was based entirely on Ouedraogo’s friendship and association with Saba, primarily their telephone call records and travel in 2007, which the government alleged increased significantly from past years. The record was devoid of evidence of any link between Ouedraogo and Dietz, either directly or indirectly through Saba. […]

Thus, the charges against Ouedraogo were based, at most, on his presence in Grand Rapids and association with Saba at suspect times. […] Aside from the fundamental deficiency of proof of a kidnapping or death, even if these events took place, the proof of Ouedraogo’s involvement is far too attenuated to sustain his conviction of crimes charged. Further, for a conviction of kidnapping, the government must prove intent. The government must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Ouedraogo knowingly and willfully kidnapped, abducted, seized or confined Dietz. There is no such proof. The circumstances of the presumed death in this case are completely unknown. There is no evidence of how, when or where the death occurred. The evidence is so lacking that at trial the government offered no specific theory, or even speculation, of how or where the death occurred. [emphasis hers]

Absolutely nothing connects these time and location dots to a kidnapping and death. Nothing. Mere idle time and Saba’s momentary cellular phone location near Saranac (an area through which a state highway runs from Grand Rapids) does not move the government theory of the date and time of death from speculation to a reasonable inference. As Ouedraogo argues, the government again fits the facts to the theory instead of having the facts establish the theory.

Um…she’s got a point. If all she wrote in this ruling is correct, I would totally have acquitted him too. In America they’re not supposed to find you guilty of a crime just because you associate with a criminal.

The prosecution is appealing.

Musings on more murders without bodies

Exondia Salado, the wife of the missing Manuel Salado, has been convicted of his murder. From the article:

She had searched the Internet on ways to kill someone and how to dispose of a human body, according to testimony from computer experts.

Google searches, for instance, were made on her computer early Aug. 28, 2007, on “handcuff,” “easy murder,” “murder methods,” “spousal murder,” “quick kill,” “strangulation,” “execution methods,” “human torture methods” and “human castration,” according to testimony.

Wow. She must have been REALLY mad at him.

But here’s a tip for you, folks: if you’re planning to murder someone and you MUST research it on the internet, for God’s sake do so on another person’s computer that can’t be traced back to you. Because if you become a murder suspect, the police will definitely confiscate your computer and go over it with a fine-tooth comb, and those computer experts WILL find your murder-related Googling and it WILL be used against you in a court of law.

Raogo Ouedraogo has been convicted of murdering Donald Dietz in a plot to steal his considerable assets. (He was acquitted of interstate murder-for-hire, though.) Like Manuel Salado, Donald Dietz disappeared in 2007. Ouedraogo (who, btw, is from Burkina Faso in West Africa, one of the poorest nations in the world) faces life in prison. His accomplice, Rami Saba (who is either from Lebanon or just of Lebanese parentage, I forget which), is supposed to go to trial next month. Saba plans to represent himself in spite of the fact that he has no legal knowledge whatsoever; he claims Allah would see him through. From this article:

On Wednesday, [Saba] filed documents asking [Judge] Neff to reconsider her order that he cannot invoke Allah throughout his upcoming trial.

Not sure what they mean by “invoke.” Is Saba not allowed to tell the jury that Allah knows he is innocent and they will bring the wrath of Allah upon themselves if they convict him? Hmm.

The guy sounds as if he’s a few beers short of a six-pack. But in (of course) Texas, they let a diagnosed schizophrenic represent himself at his capital murder trial and he wore a cowboy outfit throughout the trial and tried to subpoena Jesus Christ, John F. Kennedy and other dead people. He’s still on death row.

Rami Saba to rely on Allah to defend him in murder trial

This article is six weeks old, but I just found it: Rami Saba, one of two defendants charged with killing the missing Donald Dietz, has fired his attorneys, saying “I rely on Allah” to get him out of his predicament. Technically speaking, he’s going to represent himself, in spite of the judge telling him it was a terrible idea and basically begging him to get that nonsense out of his head.

Saba, who acknowledged his religious interest is relatively recent, had a basic knowledge of the legal system, but said that his faith in Allah was all he really needed. If he is convicted, and goes to prison for life, it will be Allah’s will, he said. […] Saba recently underwent a psychological evaluation, and was found competent to stand trial. Last week, his attorneys revealed to the court that Saba had in recent years been diagnosed with delusional disorder. But the information was not enough to change the examiner’s opinion that Saba is competent, Green told the court. […] He considers Allah the “best protector,” who would help him understand the law.

Good luck, Rami.

News on murder-without-a-body cases

The jury in the Aarone Thompson trial has still not reached a verdict, and it’s been over a week. They say the longer a jury is out, the more likely they are to acquit or to hang. But in this case they’re considering dozens of charges. I have confidence that they will do their duty.

A trial date has been set for Geralyn Graham, the accused murderer of Rilya Wilson. Rilya’s case gained national notoriety when it was discovered that she, a Florida foster child, had been missing for a year and a half without the Florida Department of Children and Families finding out. Geralyn was her foster mother. I’m a bit concerned about this case. Geralyn killed Rilya, I’m quite sure — but can they prove it? There’s very little evidence and a principal witness has backed out. Anyway, Geralyn is scheduled to be tried in March. She could face the death penalty if convicted.

Two suspects have finally been indicted in the presumed kidnapping and murder of Donald Dietz, a Michigan man who disappeared in September 2007. He was vulnerable — one account I read said he was autistic, though I’m not sure how they’d know — and he had a lot of money, and the police think these two guys killed him and stole his identity. Another article is here.