A Matter of Conviction
I wanted to thank Westword for Juliet Wittman's story of Lisl Auman, "Zero to Life," in the April 15 issue. I believe I now have a clearer idea of the actual events, and it seems obvious that life in prison is in no way warranted for this young lady. She was sitting in a police car when the murder took place, and that fact alone should have prevented her conviction. I hope her case gets some review because of your story.
P.S.: I was one of those who previously thought Lisl got what she deserved. How quick I was to judge without all the facts, as I imagine so many others have been.
via the Internet
I want to praise Westword for bringing up the Lisl Auman drama again. The real fact of this story is that Lisl Auman was in police custody when the killing took place. Upon first encountering police officers, she gave up, peacefully, and was trying to tell police all she knew. Maybe she didn't recall the color of the car and whether she was "anti-gun," and then some jerk started a gun battle with the cops. She was probably in a state of shock from the very beginning. Remember, they were her possessions. If someone tried to take custody of my belongings, I would seek help trying to get them back, too. And if you've never been arrested and suddenly you're thrown into the jail/prison scenario, it's total culture shock. It's not pretty, and to be labeled a "cop killer" justifies you the worst of treatment.
You are thrown into a cage, deprived of sleep, fed trash food that is anything but close to a nutritional diet and expected to be in top shape to try to defend your innocence while the media is flooded with follow-up stories on the victim's friends and wife and children. And innuendos. As is so common now in this type of prosecutorial misconduct, I remember the police paraded all the people they could to testify for the fallen officer's integrity, including the victim's widow, who spoke vehemently to the press about Lisl's fate.
The Denver mainstream media, starved for something to dominate the local headlines, displayed their alliance with "The Thin Blue Line." I'm sure neither Lisl nor her attorney expected the harshness of this sentence, but this is the same police department that has been shooting and killing unarmed citizens of this city for a few years now with no more than a slap on the wrist for the officers involved.
This was a grand railroading job by the people we trust with justice. Lisl's stepfather was correct: The real crazed Nazis turn out to be our own "officers of the law."
via the Internet
After moving to Denver in the last month, I find that I'm still trying to determine the best of everything: the best place for a burger, the best route to work in rush hour, the best newspaper. I have to say that I really enjoy Westword. There is something to be said for real, in-your-face, "this is the reality in which you live" reporting. Thanks to everyone at Westword for a wonderful read and also to Juliet Wittman for the in-depth, very readable piece on Lisl Auman.
Our Featured Attractions
Two excellent feature articles in your April 15 issue show that Westword writers often add valuable contribution to the public dialogue.
As a sociologist, I could recommend no better reading than "Zero to Life," the article on Lisl Auman. While there is nothing to recommend in Auman's confused lifestyle, there is much to criticize, as Wittman's article makes clear, in the behavior of certain cops, prosecutors and the court in their political eagerness to condemn Auman to a long prison sentence. Reading the article makes it clear that there were far worse offenders in the case who are not in jail.
As a boardmember of ColoRail, the rail-passenger advocacy group for Colorado, I can only shudder at the sad experience freight- and passenger-locomotive engineers must go through due to the stupid and/or suicidal behavior of some motorists who think they can beat trains or obliviously drive into the sides of trains. Some Coloradans have a lot to learn about safe and ethical driving.
Ron Vander Kooi
via the Internet
After the Fall
Thanks for Alan Prendergast's article on Richard Rother, "Falling From Grace," in the April 8 issue. He added local color to our Capitol Hill neighborhood when my wife and I lived around the corner from him. Prendergast captured the essence of Richard: difficult, eccentric and oddly lovable. He was a real treasure hidden behind a little shabbiness in our throwaway culture. We'll miss him.
Doug and Sheila Robinson
I have long suspected that the persons behind sting operations were failed police detectives, frustrated because they are unable to solve crimes and creating crimes so they will be sure to get their man. Alan Prendergast's story on the death of Richard Rother was aptly titled; he was the prince of pickers, and he will be fondly remembered.
Hats off to Alan Prendergast for his compelling but disturbing story on Richard Rother. It was sad to see Rother fall prey to the perfidious chicanery of Detective Mumford of the Denver vice squad. Not only is Big Brother watching, he's also pushing and prodding and doing all he can to lure people like Rother into a deadly trap.
That a kind of eerie paranoia shrouded the last few days of Rother's life is certainly understandable. This whole scenario is an excellent example of the vicissitudes and inequities of entrapment. All this poor soul wanted was to eke out a meager living and drink his beer in peace. Sadly, like other like-minded predators, I doubt Detective Mumford will feel any remorse or, for that matter, lose any sleep over destroying someone's life.
Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:
P.O. Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail (include your full name and hometown) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Missed a story? The editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.