Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Justice or Merely an Exercise?

By Heidi Hiatt

KOMO News has done an admirable job reporting on the questionable circumstances surrounding the “suicide” of former state trooper Ronda Reynolds. You may remember this story from a post on this site nearly 10 months ago,

KOMO has now said that despite an inquest jury’s finding that Reynolds’ former husband and stepson be held responsible for her death, Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield will not reopen the case.

CHEHALIS, Wash. — Lewis County Coroner Warren McLeod announced Tuesday evening that he has cleared up a possible legal issue and reissued arrest warrants for Jonathan A. Reynolds and Ronald A. Reynolds, who were deemed by an inquest jury as responsible for the death of former trooper Ronda Reynolds.

Here is the October 10th statement from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office that says the disposition of the case will not change regardless of the outcome of the coroner’s inquest:

I understand the sheriff’s position, and I also understand that laypeople and experts have pointed out some major issues with the evidence at the crime scene. In light of these questions, it would seem prudent to reexamine the case. If the sheriff will not reopen the case on the basis of the inquest and arrest warrants, then he should reopen it on another basis: it’s potentially an unsolved crime.

At what point do we stop trying to find justice? If people believe this is a suicide, then they must think there’s no justice to be found. A female cop simply wrapped herself in a blanket in a closet and shot herself in the head in such a way that the gun landed in an atypical if not highly improbable manner. No one heard it despite being feet away, the husband’s ex-wife moved back in the next night, and on the oddities and suspicious behavior went, not to mention that this isn’t how women usually kill themselves.

There’s a lot of buzz amongst the public that the authorities have something to hide and that’s why they consider the matter closed. Some online chat has referenced a harassment complaint Reynolds made against her employer.

The victim’s own mother alleges a falsified police report, This isn’t going to go away just because the inquest has happened. The victim’s mother, Barbara Thompson, has fought tooth and nail for 13 years to have her daughter’s death considered homicide, not suicide.

The ruling is a step forward, but it still isn’t the kind of attention this case deserves. I find it strange that law enforcement officials aren’t more outspoken on this subject; Reynolds was one of them. Maybe it’s time to bring in a different agency to get their take on the evidence and statements.

According to the coroner, this was homicide. According to the sheriff, there’s unlikely to be anything more to talk about. If I were an elected official, I would certainly take steps to restore the public’s confidence in the county’s employees including getting a fresh set of eyes to look at this case or actually arresting the two men that have been implicated.

Staying relatively silent and saying that the inquest is inconsequential barring any major new findings fuels speculation and shakes the public’s trust in their government. It’s not good for the agencies involved to have various theories and concerns flying around. Damage control is another valid reason to take the coroner’s inquest findings seriously.

People from all over the country are watching this case, and it’s disappointing that it’s come this far just to let two murder suspects– who both exercised their right to the Fifth Amendment in the recent proceedings– walk.

Because of the disconnect between what the coroner’s done and what the sheriff won’t do, now there’s more questions about this case than ever.

Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. –Barry Goldwater

Heidi Hiatt, MA recently graduated as a Forensic Psychologist.  You can read more of her posts at her personal blog, Truth, Justice, and All-American Allergen-Free Apple PieStraight Talk in a Crooked World

1 comment:

  1. I praise god for this. I have followed this case for a long time. At least it is still on someone's minds. may justice be served. I get sick of the incompetence.


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