UPDATE, OCT. 20, 10 A.M.: The victim of Jill and Kent Easter finally got her chance to speak out about the nightmare the vindictive Irvine lawyer couple put the school volunteer through, something she remained silent about until both had been prosecuted.
An Irvine Police Department representative read a statement from Kelli Peters to Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals that revealed the Easters put her and her family through "a daily regimen of bullying and harassment," adding that, "I actually started to fear for my life and the life of my daughter."
Besides the previously reported civil lawsuit against Peters that a different judge tossed and the drug-planting case that resulted in felony convictions of both Easters, the couple tried to get Peters booted from the PTA and her daughter kicked out of Plaza Vista School, relates City News Service courtroom reporter Paul Anderson.
Peters said she was humiliated over being detained by police and eyed with suspicion even after the focus of the investigation shifted to the Easters. "My life was literally spinning out of control," she said. "... I was so humiliated and I will never forget that feeling of helplessness."
"In a perfect world, a world of absolute justice, I would probably send you to prison largely as a statement of disgust at what you and your wife did," Goethals told Kent Easter Friday. Due to prison overcrowding, such a move might lead to the release of a more dangerous inmate, the judge explained.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 17, 12:02 P.M.: Sunbeams breaking through clouds, birds singing again and our collective sigh of relief being accompanied by a pleasing endorphin rush can mean only one thing, Orange County: Kent Wycliffe Easter is officially jail-bound.
The Hon. Judge Thomas Goethals made it official this morning, sentencing the Irvine dad to six months in jail--minus 76 days already served--for joining his fellow attorney wife in trying to frame an elementary school volunteer for drug possession because they thought she'd insulted their then-6-year-old son. She hadn't.
Besides the jail time, Goethals from his Orange County Superior Court bench ordered Easter to spend three years on probation and perform 100 hours of community service. The cuckold attorney was also ordered to stay away from his victim, Kelli Peters, and the Peters family.
Forty-year-old Easter's 41-year-old wife Jill Easter pleaded guilty last year on the eve of her trial on the same charge: false imprisonment by fraud and deceit, because Peters had been detained by police due to the Easters' plot against her. Jill was ultimately sentenced to 120 days in jail and 100 hours of community service.
Kent Easter rolled the dice and went through with his trial--his defense being that his cheating wife was behind the whole thing, that he went through with it to try to win her back and that he had no idea drugs were planted in Peters' car when he called police on her--in an Indian accent and under the name of a neighbor.
Jurors deadlocked 11-1 in favor to convict in November, leading to a new trial that had a new jury deliberating about an hour before convicting Easter last month.
Orange County's long suburban nightmare began on Feb. 16, 2011, when Jill Easter went to pick up her son from Plaza Vista School but he was not with the other young students lined up awaiting their parents. When she asked Peters why her son was not there, the volunteer yard lady informed he was "slow," meaning not speedy. Mrs. Easter took it to mean Peters was saying the boy was a 'tard.
The Easters went on to file a civil suit against Peters that was tossed. About a year after the incident at the school, one or both Easters sneaked into the gated community where Peters and her family resides and planted a bag with a marijuana pipe, Vicodin and Percocet behind the driver's seat of her PT Cruiser. The following morning, Kent Easter called police to report Peters was driving "erratically" and may be on drugs.
Cops found the bag and went inside the school to question Peters. When it became clear she knew nothing about the bag--the officer or officers who came to that realization are the heroes here, folks--Peters was asked who would set her up. The sue-happy Easters immediately sprang to mind, and the twisted plot was unraveled from there, leading to the power couple's eventual arrest, convictions and punishment.
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"As officers of the court, they know how the legal system is supposed to work," Goethals said upon Kent Easter's September conviction. "Abusing the integrity of the system is a horribly aggravating factor. ... If there's anybody in our community who should know better, it's an officer of the court."
Cal Berkeley law-educated Jill Easter is no longer an officer of the court. Her law license was suspended, a fate that will likely befall Kent. It will sting him more because he was still practicing at the time of his conviction. His wife had given up lawyering to become a crime fiction author.
The bright side for her--besides avoiding prison time like the old man--is that she gained future inspiration for her writing career in jail, where she was roughed up by other inmates, according to Kent's lawyer. There goes that endorphin rush again.