Patterico's Pontifications


Proposition 66: Jerry Keenan Tries to Buy Your Vote and His Son’s Freedom

Filed under: No on 66 — Patterico @ 9:27 pm

If you support Proposition 66, you are a pawn of a millionaire trying to buy his son’s freedom.

By now you must be aware that the man providing major financing for Proposition 66, millionaire Jerry Keenan, has a son serving a prison sentence for manslaughter. That sentence may be substantially reduced by an obscure provision — inserted into Proposition 66 by Keenan’s lawyer — which would lessen the penalty for personally causing great bodily injury to another during the course of a felony.

In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Keenan has claimed, quite implausibly, that his almost $2 million in financial support for the proposition has nothing to do with trying to get his son out of prison early. “I can guarantee you, the money I put into this wasn’t about Richard. It was about fairness.”

Horse hockey. It’s all about Jerry Keenan’s son and always has been. And I have the proof.

According to Deputy District Attorney Brian Myers from the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office, Keenan has engaged in a long campaign seeking dismissal of the “great bodily injury” allegation that has forced his son to serve 85% of his eight-year prison sentence. I spoke with Myers recently, and Myers told me that Keenan filed 4 separate legal documents seeking dismissal of that allegation. Numerous separate judges have turned down these requests.

The court filings in question included an affidavit from Richard Woodrum, the one surviving passenger in the car besides Richard Keenan. Woodrum’s injuries, which Myers described to me as extensive, were the basis for the “great bodily injury” allegation that extended Richard Keenan’s prison sentence. After the crash, but before the sentencing, Woodrum was put on Jerry Keenan’s payroll. Subsequently, Myers said, Woodrum filed an affidavit claiming that his injuries were not that severe.

Note the timeline and draw your own conclusions:

  • Woodrum is injured
  • Woodrum is put on Keenan’s payroll
  • Woodrum files an affidavit seeking to shorten Richard Keenan’s sentence

Does that sound to you like someone trying to use his money and power to influence the legal process?

In another unusual move, Keenan’s attorneys had a one-on-one meeting with the sentencing judge, and hand-carried a letter from Keenan to the judge, without providing a copy to the prosecution. In this letter, a copy of which I obtained from Sherry Souza (the mother of one of Richard Keenan’s victims), Keenan argued that his son should be transferred to fire camp rather than prison, arguing (among other things):

The seriousness of Richard’s crime cannot be understated. [sic] . . . He is not a “criminal” in the traditional sense, but a young man who committed a crime.

Here is Richard Keenan’s letter:

According to Deputy D.A. Myers, under CDC (California Department of Corrections) guidelines, fire camp was not an option for someone like Richard Keenan, because he had more than two years left on his sentence. If Deputy D.A. Myers had been told about Keenan’s request, as legal ethics require, Myers could have opposed the fire camp request on that basis.

Instead, without the benefit of input from the prosecution, Judge Ure wrote a letter to the California Department of Corrections seeking Richard Keenan’s transfer to fire camp. Here is a file copy of that letter:

Deputy D.A. Myers told me that he was not informed of this letter before it was written. He found out about the letter from Sherry Souza, who learned about it from a caseworker at CDC. Deputy D.A. Myers than approached the judge and asked whether she had written the letter. Judge Ure admitted that she had, and provided an unsigned file copy of the letter to Deputy D.A. Myers, who gave a copy to Sherry Souza, who sent me a copy.

This is all highly unusual. Deputy D.A. Myers told me that Judge Ure is considered a good judge, and is not an extremely liberal judge. However, I must say that I find her actions in writing CDC without input from the prosecution to be a very questionable move.

Richard Keenan appears to be a spoiled rich kid who has always turned to his father when he got in trouble. Deputy D.A. Myers told me that, according to cell phone records, Richard Keenan called his father immediately after the crash — even before he called 911 to get medical assistance for his injured passengers. When Jerry Keenan showed up on the scene, police reports show, he ordered his son not to have any further conversation with police. This was probably wise advice, as the same police reports also show that Richard Keenan had admitted to police that he had been driving at speeds up to 95 mph on a back road where the posted speed limit was 45 mph. Here is a page from a police report in which Richard Keenan admitted to going 95 mph:

For some reason, published reports of this incident never seem to mention his admitted speed of 95 mph. For example, the Sacramento Bee says he was doing 75 mph — most likely based on the testimony of defense experts at the preliminary hearing. Shouldn’t the papers have at least reported Richard Keenan’s admission, which is at odds with what the defense experts said?

As Deputy D.A. Myers explained, however, it doesn’t matter even if Keenan was going “only” 75 mph. His car was going fast enough that, after Keenan lost control, the car flew 250 feet through the air, and rolled over four times. Keenan killed two people, including the only child of Sherry Souza. Her son Thaddeus had just graduated from high school, and planned to go into the family business.

And how sympathetic was Jerry Keenan to Ms. Souza’s loss? Ms. Souza told me that Keenan once said to her outside court: “My son is not a murderer. If you call him one, I’ll take you to court and sue you.”

I’m not trying to make Jerry Keenan into a monster. He loves his son, as we all love our children. Many people would do all they could to help their children — though not everybody could do as much as Keenan.

But voters shouldn’t release thousands of criminals with serious or violent histories so that Jerry Keenan can get his son out of prison quick. He’s done enough to manipulate the system. Don’t let him manipulate you too.

Vote no on Proposition 66.

14 Responses to “Proposition 66: Jerry Keenan Tries to Buy Your Vote and His Son’s Freedom”

  1. But regardless of Jerry Keenan… his money or his motives, there are a number of groups that have opposed the current 3-Strikes law as a flawed provision of the criminal code.

    It needs to be changed or eliminated. The state legislature won’t touch it because our legislators don’t want to take any political risks in bringing it up.

    There appear to be hundreds of people serving ridiculous prison terms for actions that merit lesser penalties.

    You rail against Jerry Keenan, but others find that the self-serving political activities of the Prison Guards union to be a far bigger problem. I’ve noticed that the Guard’s union has funded every anti-Prop. 66 ad that has appeared on TV.

    It’s too bad that the tide has turned against Prop.66. Would have been much better to see it pass and then have more sensible heads fine tune the 3-Strikes provisions to eliminate the special cases that shouldn’t be serving 25 yrs to life for what they did.

    Cz (494d1f)

  2. Cz:
    It has been fine-tuned. They’ve been fine-tuning it for the pass 10 plus years. You do not know who does and who does not merit a lesser penalty. These anti-3 strikes groups you refer to and the website you mentioned earlier are not showing you the actual rap sheets. Why do you think they aren’t showing you the actual rap sheets? The prosecution can’t do it but the defense could. But, they are not. Why? Take a guess.

    julie (bf2f5e)

  3. Cz,

    Once again, with all due respect, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Once those criminals walk out the door, the Ex Post Facto clause prevents any “fine-tuning” that could send them back to prison where they belong.

    Unless, of course, they commit new crimes — which most will. And, God help us, many of those crimes will be violent.

    Patterico (756436)

  4. Julie: are you sure the Legislature has “fine-tuned” the initiative? If so, how? I know the courts have, but the Legislature is not generally allowed to amend initiative statutes, unless the statutes expressly permit amendments, which they rarely do.

    Cz: if you really think the law needs fine-tuning, draft an initiative that fine-tunes it as you see fit. That’s no reason to vote on a blunt instrument like Prop 66.

    Xrlq (6d213c)

  5. No, I meant the courts.

    julie (bf2f5e)

  6. The “fine-tuning” that I would support allows for substantial discretion by the judges in sentencing. There will always be legitimate exceptions in criminal prosecutions that would suggest lesser sentencing, and the biggest problem with 3-Strikes is taking away that discretion.

    As I’ve argued in earlier posts. Having experienced the Orange County DA’s overzealous prosecution in cases, and hearing the Public Defender’s (3 different sources) complain about the merit point system that Assistant DA’s are evaluated with, they have zero incentive to downgrade felony charges unless there is a possibility that they will lose the case.

    The basic defense against overzealous prosecutors is a flexible sentencing system. Three-Strikes takes that away. Recall that the second conviction on a felony charge automatically increases the sentence. You don not have to wait for the third strike.

    I voted my conconscience with a “Yes” on Prop 66, and not that the Orange County Register also recommended a Yes vote, despite the “scare” tactics of it’s opponents.

    Cz (494d1f)

  7. Cz: Judges do have a certain amount of discretion as do the prosecutors. When the law was first passed ten years ago, it was thought that all discretion was taken away. Through a series of court cases, it has been determined that the prosecutor does not have to charge every strike, that he/she can agree to a plea bargain, dismissing a strike, and that the judge has the discretion to strike a strike. And is also wrong for you to say the Orange Co DA’s have zero incentive to reduce a case. Their biggest incentive is to do justice. I have no doubt anything I say will only fall on your deaf ears. But again, I think it is worth setting the record straight for other readers.

    julie (c7fd99)

  8. Judges currently have discretion not to impose 25-to-life when they believe the defendant is not a violent recidivist.

    Under Prop. 66, judges do *not* have discretion to refuse to resentence offenders whom they *do* believe to be violent recidivists.

    So for all who favor judicial discretion, the clear vote is no.

    Patterico (28dbe1)

  9. PROP 66 — it’s all about
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  11. Submitted for Your Approval
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  14. […] In California, the state is attempting to pass proposition 66. This basically states that felonies will be limited and will only aim at second and third offenses that are violent or serious crimes. Prop 66 limits the second and third crime that is serious and violent. This would mean prosecutors counting one pass strike for every prosecution instead of one strike for every conviction. Therefore, if passes, it will enlarge penalties for child molesters. This in a way is a good thing. But it will terminate home burglaries because they would not be considered serious enough. Meaning residential burglaries would not count as strikes. The only exception for this would be if someone was at the house at the time of the robbery and it can be proven. This pass proposition will keep violent and serious criminals in prison. There are rumors floating about that the main supporter of prop 66 is Jerry Keenan. Rumor has it that the only reason for supporting prop 66 is to get his son out of prison early. I am not sure where I stand on this issue. Both sides have good and bad elements to it. I think I will lean more against it than for it because thousands of dangerous and violent criminals will be free and using the taxpayer’s money for the legal stuff. One of the big things for me is that a person who murders 4 people under this prop. will only be sentenced like it was one. It won’t count for four but one. Secondly it abolishes six other dangerous crimes like residential burglary, criminal threats, gang crimes, attempted burglary, drunk driving, and criminal threats. This could mean more crimes because laws. People will be getting away with more crimes. The level of danger does not eliminate it as law. […]

    not of this world » Blog Archive » Prop 66 “Three-Strikes” (07ed37)

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