Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Local: Weissman "murder for hire" coverage

commentary to follow in future post; here are facts, links and some minor innuendo and digression. I think this covers all the salient articles; if not, please send email...

(For non-local readers, William Weismann is a prominent local property-rights advocate who was arrested last spring for trying to hire a hit man to kill his neighbor. There is some question (in my mind at least) as to whether the county newspaper has treated the story fairly.)

from April 2003 ncfocus archives,

Sept 5 2003, Murder-for-hire case back in court
September 2003, normally wise fair and thoughtful Union editor drinks bad Labor Day hootch, is possessed by a demon of a hangover*:
  • Sept 5, 2003, Dreams end in desolation for Mr. Weismann, an extraordinarily sympathetic recounting -
    A year ago, William Weismann - a Bay Area businessman who had retired to his dream home on the shores of Lake of the Pines - was a community leader, one of those leading a fight for property rights and for the election defeat of two county supervisors whom he felt threatened those rights...

  • Sept 5, 2003, `My parents never knew what hit them' - interview with the daughter:
    She feels her father, in taking such a drastic action [trying to get his neighbor killed], was crying out for help..."My father was never a violent man, and isn't today."..."The district attorney's attempt to obscure [the man Weismann wanted to hire]'s [long-ago] criminal background through a series of court orders is puzzling, too," she said. "Aren't they supposed to be the ones interested in getting the truth out, not hiding it?"**

  • Sept 6, 2003, Editor defends The Union's coverage against claims that it was unfair and that it has tainted the jury pool:
    ...some people who say we're being "used" by the defense.

    That's called "spin," and everybody does it. Lawyers and business people have seminars on the technique. Journalists counter it by being open to everyone. We'll listen to anything anyone wants to tell us...
    Wess[the intended victim] has not talked to The Union or any other news organization since the day Weismann was arrested, despite repeated attempts by us to contact him as recently as Thursday...
    I doubt there will be a problem finding a jury for this case, if it goes to trial (and it's doubtful it will). There are plenty of news-averse people in Nevada County who have no clue who the president of the United States is, let alone Bill Weismann.

October 2003 coverage:
  • Oct 11 2003, civil case dropped for now
  • Oct 20 2003, plea bargain in process:
    William Weismann, the Lake of the Pines man accused of trying to have his neighbor killed by a hit man, has pleaded no contest to two counts of soliciting a murder...

  • Oct 21 2003, update:
    [defense attorney James Roberts says Weismann ]could be released from jail in as little as two years.
    "I can't comment, but this is more complex than just the Wesses and the Weismanns," [Wess] said. ...
    Roberts said his client never wanted Wess killed, only harmed.
"not a violent man"...yeah, I always breathe a sigh of relief when I find that my neighbors only want to harm me.

* Regarding this unfortunate lapse: the hootch is pure fabrication, libel, whatever, but the evidence for possession by malign spirits is incontrovertible. Normally he shows excellent judgment.

** Re ferreting out and publicizing long-ago misdeeds of whistleblowers - Sure, a fine idea, so let's name rape victims who report the crime, and publish their photos and sexual histories at every supermarket checkout line! (including, alas, SPD's, which was disillusioning, I had thought they might have stronger principles.)

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