Finding truth and justice

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We like to think that good ol’ boy, small-town justice that goes on everywhere but is somewhat of a sport in the South, is exaggerated or a thing of the past. We know that’s not the case. There are people in every town in every state who can make a phone call and get a traffic ticket or other misdemeanor thrown out — and those are usually the ones who can easily afford to pay it while the poor saps who can’t are stuck with the fines.

In the last decade, a city councilman and a county supervisor have been arrested for DUI. They weren’t above the law, and we were proud, in a sort of warped way, to show that to the public.

Everybody should be the same in the eyes of the law. Maybe that’s not realistic, since people of means will always be able to hire tougher attorneys, so maybe we should hope that everyone has the same opportunity for justice.

We haven’t called anyone corrupt in our reporting or editorializing about the shooting death in Windermere on June 1. We would never go that far without evidence, but it has been implied, based simply on the power and means of the family involved, the way the investigation was handled and the “luck” Greg Burroughs has had in past brushes with the law.

We learned a long time ago not to stick out our necks for anyone — even family or employees — to say with certainty that they are as pure as the driven snow and wouldn’t do wrong. That kind of thinking can get someone burned and melt the snow real quick.

People have taken to social media to offer theories as to whom is “on the take.” Even though there is a lot that’s fishy about this case, we can’t go that far without evidence. It would be irresponsible and we would be liable.

We will, however, jut our chins slightly forward — not our necks — to say that we believe DA Tony Buckley is not caught up in a “good ’ol boy” syndicate. First of all, each side would need translators. Second of all, he isn’t beholden to anyone politically since he has won his office by landslides and/or unopposed every time.

Our theory about his seeming reluctance to move forward with this case is that he knows — if it does go to trial — he’ll be going against a really strong, sharp defense attorney, Brad Thompson. And he knows that the LPD has given Thompson plenty of defense material by allowing Burroughs’ family and friends to clean the scene so he wouldn’t come back home and “be upset” when he sees Sinclair’s blood and brain matter in his garage. Yes, Burroughs is obviously the sensitive type, mourning on the golf course and at the beach … but we digress.

Buckley is a gentleman who is trying to maintain his office’s necessary relationship with the LPD by not calling them out. But he and LPD investigators are the only people of dozens in criminal investigations we’ve talked to who said that the cleanup wasn’t a problem.

A year ago, Steven Anderson was found not guilty in the death of 19-year-old Eagle Scout Isaac Holloway. The teen was killed in a head-on collision with Anderson, who was high on meth at the time. The reason he wasn’t convicted of that crime? A fire truck full of volunteers who were trying desperately to save the life of a dying teen parked over a skid mark that could have had exculpatory evidence for the methed-up driver.

If that’s enough to create doubt for a jury, what do you think a defense attorney will do with the deliberate act of evidence destruction in the Burroughs case? Buckley knows. So do the investigators. So do the people who are insisting on getting justice for Katherine.

The LPD and DA’s office can still gather plenty of evidence to present to the grand jury and take to trial, and it still may not matter. There was no argument that Anderson was high at the time of the crash, based on lab results. But the defense hammered on that one piece of possible evidence to get the “not guilty” verdict.

Buckley and LPD investigators need to concede that mistakes were made at the scene in Windermere and acknowledge that it’s a problem, then say that there is still plenty of other evidence that they have gathered and will be used to present the case to a grand jury.

They need to articulate, in the strongest language possible, that they are pursuing this case with the same passion and vigor they’d use to take down a common street thug. We have confidence that DA Buckley will ultimately do just that. And we also believe that he is the best chance Katherine Sinclair and her family have at getting justice.