By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Courtesy pool photographerJust when you thought high school girls could be safe at night, gang rapist Greg Haidl and his two co-defendants are searching for ways to avoid a single day in state prison.
In fact, if Haidl, Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann get their way, they'll walk free from county jail in coming months without ever showing remorse. A speedy, painless resolution to the case would be "appropriate and fair," according to defense lawyers. They're contemplating a plan to soften any punishment the trio receives for the July 2002 videotaped rape and molestation of an unconscious 16-year-old girl. The men were convicted by a jury in March.
According to John Barnett, Nachreiner's attorney, the defense team is "studying the complicated issue" of getting the case transferred to juvenile court for sentencing since the men were all 17 at the time of the gang rape. If they pursue this strategy and succeed, the worst punishment the young felons could receive is incarceration at the California Youth Authority (CYA) until they are 21 years old. This outcome would be a considerable gift for Nachreiner and Spann, whose 21st birthdays are in December, as well as Haidl, who reaches the same age next June.
Prosecutor Chuck Middleton views the CYA scenario as an attempt to thwart justice. "That would be a slap on the wrist," he said. In Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseño's court, the sentencing ranges from probation to a maximum of more than 14 years in prison for each defendant. Middleton has not yet provided Briseño his sentencing recommendation, but courthouse observers believe it's likely to be eight years or more.
"For somebody to do this type of activity [raping as well as vaginally and anally molesting an intoxicated minor with a pool cue, Snapple bottle, juice can and lit cigarette] that has such risk and such danger, I think they should be sent to state prison," Middleton said.
The defense may face an insurmountable hurdle, however. By law, Briseño must consider several factors to determine whether adult or juvenile sentencing is appropriate, including: the degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the defendants, their previous criminal histories, the gravity of the offenses and, most critically, whether the defendant can be rehabilitated before he turns 21 years old.
If a juvenile court levies punishment in, say, October, prosecutors say it would be doubtful that Nachreiner and Spann could be rehabilitated during only two months of incarceration at CYA. Relatives of the defendants take a different stance—despite a singular lack of remorse. One, a woman who asked to remain anonymous, told the Weekly she is "confident" that Haidl, Nachreiner and Spann "have already suffered enough and deserve to go home to their families."
"They are good boys and we love them," she said. "They need to get on with their lives."