Saturday, April 21, 2012


What would you do if your brother was cold-bloodily murdered by being stabbed over 100 times? What would you do if you had to testify as a witness at the murderer's trial? And what would you do if at the murder trial of the man who killed your brother, there was no defense attorney, because the alleged murderer was acting as his own attorney - so that the man you probably have more reason to despise than any other on earth was questioning you in front of a jury. You'd be angry. You'd be emotional. And you'd find it difficult to control yourself even if your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney was there with an electric fan trying to cool you off as you testified.
It really happened in Tampa Bay and according to the prosecutor the resulting mistrial was partly his fault, for not adequately preparing the brother for the impact of the emotional testimony, having decided only that morning that the brother's testimony was useful. According to a Tampa Bay Times article when Raynaldo 
Carrillo, the murder victim's brother
...was put on the witness stand to identify a gold necklace that had belonged to his brother. Carrillo said it was the necklace "that punk tried to sell at a pawnshop." As the judge, the prosecutor and bailiffs tried to hush him, Carrillo shouted at Chambers, "This is not going to be over, you freaking killer!"Judge Fuente immediately declared a mistrial and told Carrillo to come back to his court in two months prepared to go to jail. Before his sentencing Friday, Carrillo begged the judge's forgiveness. "My behavior didn't reach the level of respect you expected of me ,... I cannot make any excuses." he said. The judge learned that Carrillo is a military veteran, recently divorced, taking care of a 9-year-old daughter.
The Tampa Bay Judge was correct to determine a mistrial was necessary because even a murderer must have a fair trial. Judge Fuentes also made a wise decision in giving the brother probation instead of jail for contempt of court. A Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer  believes the Judge did the right thing considering the immense pressures that the brother of a murder victim was enduring at the time of the trial. The State of Florida plans to retry the alleged murderer soon and having that trial run correctly is what everyone involved needs to concentrate on getting right next time. And a special note to the prosecutor, don't put the brother on the stand unless you must, as the horrible facts themselves will speak louder than even a brother's tears.

Theo van Gogh may be lucky he never had to testify at a Trial for his brother, if as some scholars and a Pinellas Criminal Defense Attorney now believe, his brother Vincent's ear was really slashed off in a drunken absinthe rage by the artist Gaugin rather than by Vincent himself... 
Theo is lucky he never had to testify at gauguin's trial. portrait of brother of van gogh, theo van gogh
This portrait by Vincent Van Gogh,1887 was  long
 thought to be a self-portrait, but was reassessed in 2011 
and now is believed to be of his brother, Theo van Gogh.