“He told the truth after he told the lies,” the defense lawyer said. “It’s not the brightest thing to do, to lie. But people tell them all day.”
The success of Corrado’s effort to repair Wagner’s credibility depended on Schwarm, a former prosecutor with a decidedly evenhanded courtroom demeanor. He patiently allowed the defense to perform what appeared to be obvious filibustering. Corrado tried to be sweet at one point, telling Schwarm that he was honored to work in his courtroom. When it didn’t look like he’d get a favorable ruling, he told Schwarm he didn’t “care” about the judge’s observations and demanded “more time” for Wagner.
Jack Gould/OC Weekly file photo
Attorney Jennifer Keller: “He'd never been able to give me a straight answer”
But Schwarm had finally heard enough. He said he didn’t believe Wagner’s intoxication defense, which—again—returns us to Keller. The judge said that she’d been credible when she testified that she saw no signs to support Wagner’s claims. He noted that Wagner, according to Keller, had asked “intelligent questions” and even helped to plot strategy to get the most favorable plea bargain possible.
The judge also said Keller’s observations supported his own when he asked the ex-cop in May if he had freely admitted guilt.
“He wasn’t nodding off,” said Schwarm. “He was lucid. . . . He never said he was under the influence.”
The judge ruled the guilty plea valid.
Before formal sentencing and a half-dozen more increasingly pathetic Corrado delay tactics, two weeping Spanish-speaking victims told Schwarm how they will never be able to recover from what Wagner had done to them. They demanded he spend the rest of his life in prison, a request blocked by the plea deal. Don’t be surprised if the victims sue for damages.
The judge ordered two bailiffs to handcuff the ex-cop and to make sure the California Department of Corrections places him in permanent protective custody when he arrives in prison. The last thing I heard before the courtroom closed was Wagner complaining. He didn’t like the feel of the steel handcuffs.