Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Simpson says Manieri plea agreement existed; court document says otherwise

In a story that has been developing all day, Republican Attorney General nominee is defending his extremely light sentence in a 2006 child molestation case.  An AP story from about 15 minutes ago says in part:
Simpson said prosecutors reached a plea agreement in the case, so he didn’t have access to the evidence and based the sentence on the prosecuting attorney’s recommendation.

“I was given no reason by the prosecution to believe that the sentence requested by the Prosecuting Attorney was not just,” Simpson said in an email.

Here's the problem. As explained in a prior post, this was an "open plea," meaning there was no recommendation from the prosecutor. How do we know that? The third page of the court file is the second page of Manieri's Petition to Enter a Plea of Guilty. Paragraph 7 of that Petition reads in pertinent part: The District Attorney will take no part other than providing to the Court, Police Reports, and other factual information as requested by the Court; and the District Attorney shall make no recommendations to the Court concerning my sentencing except as follows: (handwritten) OPEN PLEA.

Again, as stated before, an "open plea" leaves sentencing up to the judge. My guess is that Simpson made that statement to the AP reporter having not looked at the court file.

How does Waveland Chief of Police James Varnell feel about this? According to the article:
Varnell said Manieri has a long criminal record, but somehow ended up serving short sentences for serious crimes. Varnell said he was “very much” disappointed in 2006 when Manieri pleaded guilty to molesting a girl, and received what Varnell considered a light sentence.

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