Sometimes the media and the public tend to make light of very serious matters. In criminal cases, people’s lives and futures are on the line. There are people at the center of criminal cases whose lives and families deserve respect.
A current high-profile Denver criminal case is an example of the public taking a grave matter and trying to make it funny. The defendants in this case, however, deserve a fair trial, free from jokes. Sometimes, the court of public opinion can feel as harsh as a real trial. This criminal case involves a death. And the two defendants are supposedly the decedent’s friends.
According to news reports, two friends, each 25, met up with their 43-year-old friend on a September evening in order to enjoy a night out. The defendants claim that their friend was unresponsive when they met him but that they just thought he was drunk. They put their friend into their vehicle for the night and drove him around with them, leaving him in the backseat as they visited bars and bought drinks.
It wasn’t reportedly until later when the duo realized that their friend in the backseat wasn’t drunk but dead. They called authorities, brought their friend’s body back to his place and left. Where suspicion increases against the defendants in this case is in the report that they used the deceased man’s credit card to pay for their evening out. One of the suspects is currently charged with identity theft and abuse of a corpse.
He says that it took long to recognize and report that his friend was dead because he “didn’t want to believe he was dead.” As for the alleged identity theft, the defendant claims that his friend loaned him his credit card because he supposedly owed him money.
The other suspect is due in court next month.
This is certainly an unusual criminal case. Unusual or not, the allegations could significantly alter the young defendants’ futures. Even if they are not convicted, the accusations against them and the comparisons to “Weekend at Bernie’s” will be nearly impossible to live down.
ABC 7 News: “Man Says He Thought Dead Friend Was Drunk,” Deb Stanley, Oct. 6, 2011