March 18, 2007 in City

Doug Clark: Often, there’s no telling when we’ll see justice

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review
 
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A few takes on that mysterious subject called justice:

JUSTICE DESERVED – If anybody really believes Josh Heytvelt didn’t get special consideration in being OK’d for entry into a diversion program that could clear his name, well …

Might I interest you in some Metropolitan Mortgage investment opportunities?

Prosecutors say it’s all just a BIG coincidence that Heytvelt – the Gonzaga University basketball star who was caught ‘shroom-handed last month – will be Spokane’s very first felony drug suspect approved for the program.

These idiots must think we’re all on magic mushrooms.

But you know what?

I don’t care whether the wheels were greased or not.

If this treatment protocol can keep the 20-year-old from future moronic acts, that’s terrific.

As for punishment, I believe Heytvelt has suffered enough.

The suspended player received a lifetime’s worth of painful regrets Thursday night when the Zags went down in NCAA flames – without him.

The Bulldogs fell 70-57 to the Indiana Hoosiers, an ignominious exit on the opening day of tournament play.

Gonzaga was out-shot and outclassed. The Zags could have used a 6-foot-11 rebounder.

March Madness.

Not for Heytvelt. From now on, I’m betting that for him the third month of the year will have another catchphrase.

March Sadness.

JUSTICE DEMANDED – It’s started.

Less than a week after 4-year-old Summer Phelps’ death, we’re starting to hear about the sad life of the stepmother accused of torturing and killing her.

Adriana L. Lytle, according to those who know her, has a history of drug use and trouble and telling lies. She was sexually abused by her father. She once bit the leg of a puppy that had playfully nipped her hand …

None of this is surprising in the least.

The abused often become the abusers. Every journalist who has ever covered the court beat will testify to that.

But as tragic as Adriana’s life might have been, we can’t let it sidetrack our attention from the real victim.

Little Summer lived an unimaginably wretched life. She was tortured like a prisoner of war, police say. She died after being left in a bathtub.

She had no choice.

Her misery, authorities say, was because of immoral and illegal choices that were repeatedly made by the adults responsible for her care.

Adriana, 32, and Jonathan Lytle, 28, are charged with homicide by abuse and three aggravating circumstances: violating a position of trust, deliberate cruelty and that Summer was a particularly vulnerable victim.

Sorry. I won’t let the personal histories of the accused shift my focus or soften my rage. There is only one character in this story who merits our pity.

Her name is Summer Phelps.

JUSTICE DENIED – One year ago today, a mentally impaired janitor walked into a Spokane convenience story to buy a Snickers bar.

That would be the last decision Otto Zehm ever made.

Wrongly branded a thief, Zehm was forcefully confronted by a cop who supposedly took the 2-liter bottle of soda pop the confused man held as an alleged weapon.

Zehm never had a chance.

He was knocked down and clubbed with a police baton. He was shocked with Tasers. He was hogtied.

The story should have ended there.

So sorry. Huge mistake.

But officers placed the bound man on his stomach, a violation of department protocol. To prevent any spitting, a plastic non-rebreather mask was stuck over the helpless man’s face – with no link to an oxygen tank.

Zehm died not too long after this violent encounter.

And now a year has passed.

Many people have forgotten the whoppers told about Zehm by the acting chief, who tarred the innocent man as a dangerous, lunging desperado.

Safely re-elected and back in hiding, Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker has yet to file any charges regarding Zehm.

I understand. With spring coming, Tucker has so many other irons in the fire.

A 9-iron, a 7-iron, a 3-iron, a …

Rest in peace, Otto.

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