Did a Megan’s Law Listing lead to a California Sex Offender’s Murder?
[Guest post by DRJ]
A Lakeport, California, father is in jail charged with murdering a neighbor who was a convicted sex offender. Initial reports suggest the murder may have been prompted by a Megan’s Law internet posting:
“Convicted rapist Michael A. Dodele had been free just 35 days when sheriff’s deputies found him dead last month in his aging, tan mobile home, his chest and left side punctured with stab wounds.
Officers quickly arrested Dodele’s neighbor, 29-year-old construction worker Ivan Garcia Oliver, who made “incriminating comments, essentially admitting to his attacking Dodele,” the Lake County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
Prosecutors said they have investigated the possibility that the slaying of Dodele, 67, stemmed from his having been listed on the state’s Megan’s Law database of sex offenders. If so, his death may be the first in the state to result from such a listing, experts said.
Oliver pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, burglary and elder abuse when he was arraigned Nov. 30. In a jailhouse interview Wednesday night, Oliver said he has a son who was molested in the past, and he took action to protect the child.
“Society may see the action I took as unacceptable in the eyes of ‘normal’ people,” Oliver said. “I felt that by not taking evasive action as a father in the right direction, I might as well have taken my child to some swamp filled with alligators and had them tear him to pieces. It’s no different.”
Although Oliver did not say he killed Dodele, he said that “any father in my position, with moral, home, family values, wouldn’t have done any different. At the end of the day, what are we as parents? Protectors, caregivers, nurturers.”
In fact, Dodele was not a child molester. But a listing on the Megan’s Law website could have left Oliver with the impression that he had abused children because of the way it was written.”
Oliver was arrested after neighbors saw him leave Dodele’s trailer with blood on his hands. Apparently the police were also contacted by a psychologist, Charlene Steen, who had examined Dodele in two recent trials:
“I think [Oliver and Dodele] are both victims of the Internet,” said Charlene Steen, a psychologist who examined Dodele on behalf of the defense in two 2007 trials about whether he should be recommitted to Atascadero.
Both ended in hung juries. Dodele was freed Oct. 16 and was hoping to start over in the crowded little mobile home park, where neighbors described him as open and friendly.”
I’m curious if Steen was the source of the idea that Dodele’s murder was motivated by Megan’s Law:
“Steen wrote a letter to a local paper decrying Dodele’s death “simply because he was a sex offender whose name and picture were on the registry.”
Shortly after the letter was published, Steen said, a woman describing herself as Oliver’s wife called to complain. “She said, ‘We have a child who was molested, and my husband is very upset to have a child molester living nearby’,” Steen recounted, noting the irony that Dodele’s crimes all involved adult women.
Steen said she had not talked to police about the phone call. Oliver said that the woman with whom he lived in the trailer park was his girlfriend, and the two were not married.”
If so, how can Steen be so sure Megan’s Law was the reason Oliver allegedly murdered Dodele?