Victim’s Corner

Carol Sherman

In 1985, Carol Sherman’s grandmother, Carmen Carlos Vasquez was raped and killed in her Richmond home. She was an 84 year old widow at the time of the violent murder. Freddie Lee Taylor, was convicted for the murder and spent 33 years on death row before he was released.

The Mercury News covered the case, noting, “Three days before Taylor’s plea deal, the assigned deputy district attorney, Jason Peck, called Edward Vasquez, 86, Carmen Vasquez’s son who had found her body in 1985, to tell him Taylor would soon be released. Vasquez’s grandchildren say their “Uncle Eddie” has early onset dementia and did not know who he was talking to.
“He thought the man on the phone was talking about his wife, who recently passed,” said Thomas Garcia, another of Vasquez’s grandchildren. “He was confused.”
Days later, one of their cousins saw a story in this newspaper about Taylor’s release and began sharing it with the family. Sherman said they were “furious” and called a meeting with Peck and District Attorney Diana Becton. They met with Peck and members of Becton’s administration, and say they were told prosecutors had a “roster” of other family members who could have been contacted.
“If just one of us would have been called it would have been a different scenario,” Garcia said. Sherman said Peck admitted to them he had “dropped the ball.”

Mercury News, We let the public down’: Outrage swirls after man convicted of 1985 Richmond murder freed from Death Row, 2019 April 19.

Melanie Schwartz

Melanie Schwartz’s daughter was killed by a gang member in 2017. Her story made headlines when a new state law prevented her killer from being tried as an adult. As a result, the killer will serve only 8 years in prison.

The San Francisco covered the case, noting, “Contra Costa County prosecutors had planned to prosecute the El Cerrito teen as an adult — and Judge Barbara Hinton agreed last May that the defendant’s behavior was so heinous he wasn’t fit for juvenile court”

“Chad Mahalich, the prosecutor on the case, was so infuriated that he attempted to halt any plans for the juvenile to plead Thursday by threatening to walk off the case — a move that went against the directive issued by his boss, District Attorney Diana Becton, and could put his job in jeopardy.”

SF Chronicle, New law gives teen killer a break, victim’s family anguish, 2019 Jan 24.

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