Diary of a Mad County

MONDAY, Aug. 5 Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona—already hailed as a presidential contender by the great and powerful Larry King—receives the penultimate step in canonization: a glowing feature in People magazine. King of CNN's fiercest competitor in the cable-TV gabfest wars, Bill O'Reilly, also weighs in on the tragic Samantha Runnioncase. Writing on the conservative TownHall.com website, he criticizes John Pozza, the former attorney for murder suspect Alejandro Avila, for vigorously defending his client in a child-molestation case two years ago even though he allegedly knew Avila failed a police polygraph test. Because Avila was acquitted, O'Reilly reasons, Pozza has 5-year-old Samantha's blood on his hands. The bombastic TV host concedes polygraphs are inadmissible in court, but he fails to explain why: they're unreliable. He also re-heats the hostility directed at the jury for not believing the testimony of two little girls in the molestation case but ignores the fact that one of those girls volunteered to let Avila baby-sit her after the alleged molestation. It wouldn't take much vigorous defense for that alone to raise a reasonable doubt in a jury.

TUESDAY, Aug. 6 Alastair Irvine—who probably is not related to OC's royal Irvine Family but is related to Britain's lord chancellor; he's the son of Lord Irvine—steps into Superior Court in Santa Ana today in handcuffs and a Men's Central Jail jump suit. The 25-year-old bodybuilder is charged with stalking 19-year-old Karel Taska, making a terrorist threat against Taska and his girlfriend, carrying a concealed weapon, and pouring acid on Taska's Dodge pickup. Irvine came to San Diego for treatment of an addiction to crack cocaine but somehow wound up in a Newport Beach tanning salon where he met—and apparently fell hard for—Taska's girlfriend. When Irvine would not leave her alone, she had Taska intervene. That's when things got really weird—so weird that the couple pulled out of school, quit their jobs and moved out of the area. Irvine's looking at up to 15 years in prison if convicted (after a vigorous defense). Meanwhile, the British tabloids are having a field day with Alastair's drug escapades because his father—one of Prime Minister Tony Blair's closest allies—championed the Labour Party's call for cannabis decriminalization. Some movie scripts just write themselves.

Paul Brennan contributed to this week's report.
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