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
According to Derby, I am making "an assumption" that Marino's $35,000 fee was just for work on the two Jessee trials. But my "assumption" isn't an assumption; it is based on Marino's unambiguous testimony. The prosecutor asked this witness multiple times if the fee applied just to this case, and she answered affirmatively.
To clear up any possible confusion, I asked Derby to reveal details of Marino's bills, her hourly rate and the terms of her contract. She declined. "The payment records are privileged," Derby said.
Translation: In her view, the public doesn't have a right to inspect these government-spending records.
I have no evidence that Derby is anything but an honest public servant. However, in a county with continual spending debacles, her anti-disclosure stance fuels suspicions of mismanagement or worse. Given the sensational size of the fee—an entire annual salary for some county workers—the public deserves to know the now-mysterious facts.
What's clear at this point is that, at least in the Jessee murder, you can make substantially more from a homicide as an accountant holding a calculator than an assassin armed with a blood-drenched hunting knife.
Note: This column was written as the lawyers made their closing arguments in the trial. For up-to-date coverage, visit our Navel Gazing blog.
This column ran in print as "Killer Fee: The odd case of an accountant who made a killing in an OC murder trial."