Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Luis Aguirre Murder Trial Sentencing (Phase II): Day 2

OK, today, Tuesday, is the second day of Phase II of the trial, during which Mitigating Factors are presented to the jury. The defense can present mitigating factors, circumstances regarding the defendant or the situation that can move a jury to give a sentence of life without parole instead of death; the State can present aggravating factors that might move a jury toward the death penalty.
(click HERE to see the various aggravating factors in each state
-- for example
 Illinois has listed 17 aggravating factors [e.g., (16)The murdered individual was subject to an order of protection and the murder was committed by a person against whom the same order of protection was issued under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986].
The Aggravating Factor in the present case is the fact that more than one person was killed.
Trial opening statements HERE
List of 35 mitigating factors presented for 
Mr. Aguirre from the defense: Click HERE
Yesterday, the State indicated
at the beginning of Phase II that they did not wish/need to present again the aggravating factors--that indeed, all of the evidence of Phase I could be considered. The judge indicated to the jury that Yes, all of the evidence they had heard during the trial could be considered and weighed against any mitigating factors the defense might present. In this case, and in the state of Kansas, the very charges: that Luis Aguirre deliberately, with forethought, killed more than one person as part of a plan--are in fact, the aggravating factors.
So, Phase II is primarily,
 it seems to me, the defense attempting to either 1) show the jury redeeming qualities in the individual, that it is better to let the convicted person live, that there are good reasons to allow him to live out his life in prison, or 2) that factors in the person's life were such that perhaps a certain amount of their behavior was a bit out of their control; that they had been put on such a bad path that it is practically predictable that they might commit bad acts.
However, i think the bottom line is that the defense wants to make the convicted person seem more human. Since Luis Aguirre did not testify, one only knows what one has heard during the trial, and baby, that is some bad stuff.
If during the mitigation phase
the testimony of friends and family can make the jury see the Convicted as a real human person, the chances of them allowing the mercy of Life in Prison surely increase.

So as i posted yesterday, the first witness spoke at length about the neighborhoods that the family of Luis Aguirre lived in. The point was that there were a lack of positive role models; that there was poverty, instability, and lack of educational achievement in these areas of Chicago, and that these factors are suggested by research to be predictive of an increased risk for committing violence.

[If Luis Aguirre had a history of violence, had been arrested for batteries or assault or impulsive acting out, this might have resonated. However, subsequent testimony was that Luis was not violent, was in fact "quiet" "thoughtful" "nice" "smart" "shy" "polite"-- liked to read, etc. So rather than this witness presenting these risk factors to suggest that Luis had been pre-disposed toward violence, perhaps it was to make the jury feel sorry for him.]

Monday afternoon the jury heard testimony from a sister of Luis. She testified about great instability in the family. A great variety of parent figures, of alcohol abuse, of separations and deceptions in the family. She testified that there was physical abuse and psychological abuse, such as shutting Luis in a bathroom with the lights out. This older sister described Luis as a loving, kind and wonderful person. She indicated that he was a great father to his daughter by another girlfriend, but that she had not heard about Tanya and Juan until a detective called her.

The next witness was a cousin and godmother to Luis. She testified to witnessing Luis being beaten by his mother, who was often drunk. She described the movement of the children to a variety of caretakers, including foster parents.

Investigators for the defense played a variety of taped interviews with family and friends in Chicago.
A story of a troubled family of 11, who moved to the U.S. from Mexico when Luis' mother was a teenager with an infant daughter was described for the jury.

Each witness was asked, "Do you want Luis to live?"
A variety of reactions to this awkward question included tears, sobs, "Of Course!" "Life should be taken by God"--but through the testimony Luis appeared emotionless. The times he showed emotion--i will mention below.

Luis' English teacher seemed to provide incentive for Luis [whose poetry was read in court]. She seemed to be that role model that many disadvantaged children describe later in life, as the one who gave them encouragement and self esteem to move past the troubles.
One witness showed pictures of the metal detectors in the high school and the security cameras everywhere. There was a police substation in the school-2 security officers remembered Luis and said they would never have guessed Luis to be involved with this. Again, this indicates that he was not an out-of control violent kid, whipped up into a thug through bad role models.

Day 2 of Phase II:
Very moving testimony was given this morning from Luis' little sister. Her descriptions of the life she and Luis led were alternately heart wrenching, deeply touching and maddening.
Those of you who read this blog know that child abuse, neglect, and all maltreatment is the number one problem we must address to change our society, in my opinion.
(See our-national-treasure-children-detroit and dickens )
She indicated that Luis saved her from sexual abuse in foster care; that he took beatings meant for her from mother; that he was "the one person who never hurt" her in life. She described a life of great brutality, loneliness, and sadness due to an alcoholic mother.
 [During the trial, emails were read where Tanya wrote that she did not want to take baby Juan to "the Family Home" where Luis' mother was due to the drinking.]
Day three of this phase HERE
this post is getting long and late. i will finish tomorrow, and expand on the following points:

1. All the testimony, which i will detail here in this post later, indicated that the instability, abuse, and poor role models experienced by Luis Antonio Aguirre did not make him into an impulsive, violent man.
All the witnesses stated that he was "quiet" "thoughtful" "nice" "smart" "shy" "polite" and so on.
This basically promotes the idea that the events for which he is being tried have nothing to do with an upbringing that made him unstable and prone to violence, a pattern of acting with passion, with impulsivity. Instead, they indicate that he used his thoughtful nature to plan how to change his circumstances. His motives. His behavior. more later.

2. Therefore, the possibility that he is high in characteristics of sociopathy is a better explanation of his actions in these charges. One thing i noticed in court today is that during testimony, he sat stonefaced at all descriptions of others' pain, sadness, trials, etc. -- but when HE was mentioned, he laughed, smiled grinned, etc.
In the midst of descriptions of a person's working though the terrible news that Luis Aguirre had been arrested, how one's Heart Dropped like a Stone--the horror of it-- a memory of how Luis had done this or that would bring a big grin to his face. He seemed unable to respond emotionally to the pain of others but was intensely interested whenever he was the subject. more on this later, particularly when a poem of his was read in court.
[Listen: the one most true emotion for one high in sociopathy is SELF PITY.--if a sociopathic person cries, it is self pity. They can also feel infantile anger and puffy narcissistic pride. more later...]

3. Chicago, you are really makin me mad.

I mean REALLY, Chicago???

I think tomorrow may be the last day of testimony, should know by noon.
Blessings to all the families affected by this.
All the children who will suffer, missing one they loved.
All the parents and grandparents wanting good things for their families.

Before  you do an action, ponder  the Massive Cascade of effects through time!


  1. Sylvia Ortiz- Tanyas AuntJuly 10, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    Luis had trying circumstances, So did Tanya. Luis was Neglected? Abused? So was Tanya. Luis was bounced around from house to house? So was Tanya. Yet She did what she Could to Ensure that her baby had Food, Diapers, Bare necessities. SHE was trying to break the Cycle of whatever pathetic crutch excuses he's calling 'circumstances'.

    It was a Difficult Community? Humboldt Park, Chicago? Let's See, Beatriz Santiago-Newly Appointed Judge, raised in Humboldt Park, Chicago. Mike Oquendo, successful comedian, from Humboldt Park, Chicago. Jaslene Gonzalez, from Humboldt Park, Chicago. Doctors, Lawyers, Policemen, Firemen and Countless other people who I know Personally, most of which I went to the Same impoverished schools with, from Humboldt Park, Chicago.

    He knows Damn Well what he did. Not Everyone from Humboldt Park, Chicago, or communities like it, grow up & decide to kill their ex lovers and own offspring.

    Sonia Soto-Mayor, Supreme Court Justice, raised in the housing projects of Bronx, New York.

    Sorry, but We are a Strong Community, with difficult Socioeconomic circumstances. But We do not all turn out like Luis Aguirre.

    God doesn't like UGLY.

  2. I agree Sylvia, Luis was not a product of his environment rather he made a decision and acted it on. He was a person who "made it out", but as far as Tanya and Juan he just couldnt get away from that so he calculated and planned and waited until he had a chance to do aways with them. What about Tanya and Juan no one got to sit and tell Luis the night he killed them how much they ment to the family or what kind of people they were and how much they would be missed, he took things into his own hands and ended their life.... Sylvia did you get to do a victim impact statement to be presented at the trial?

    1. Sylvia Ortiz-Tanyas AuntJuly 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      I wasn't asked to, but I intend to do a victim impact statement for consideration in sentencing.

      Thank you Dulce for be so compassionate. Your name is befitting who you are as a person and what I've come to know about you. God Bless You.

  3. --Each witness was asked, "Do you want Luis to live?"A variety of reactions to this awkward question included tears, sobs, "Of Course!" "Life should be taken by God"-but through the testimony Luis appeared emotionless--

    LIFE SHOULD BE TAKEN BY GOD???? so then what does that make him,he not only took one life but two, can they not open their eyes and see their ignorance had it been his life that had been taken they sure would be singing a different tune......

  4. I have been attending this trial haphazardly since it originally started in mid-June. I am in total agreement with the above comments, especially the first one from Sylvia. Bad communities don't necessarily make bad people, as proven by her lengthy list.

    While I do feel sadness for his family, it in NO WAY takes away the fact that he is and will forever after be a MURDERER. And he is the murderer of the worst kind; that is taking his own child's life.

    I hope that where ever Tanya and Juan are they are together, happy, and out of pain. She sounds like such a courageous young woman and Juan is just as cute as can be. Justice is just around the corner and I hope that brings peace to Tanya, Juan, and their family.

  5. Live and let live.

  6. Sylvia Ortiz - Tanyas AuntJuly 12, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Kill & be Killed. This was no Accident.

  7. I agree that a bad community does not in an of itself make a bad person. But I also agree with the psychologist that testified. If you've lived through the kind of abuse Mr. Aguirre did, the community he was in, etc. it is very understandable that you would be emotionally crippled and would not respond to stimuli/stress in the same way as a person who didn't encounter those situations would.

    It's easy for us here in Kansas to simply say that his life experiences played no role in what happened. But it's clear while they do not excuse or justify what happened (something I noticed the defense acknowledged more than once) they do explain in some way how it could happen.

  8. Thank you for your thoughts. [I must say, Kansas has its share of individuals who have lived through terrible childhoods. No one knows the burdens any individual carries...]
    On your point, i think that psychologist's testimony may serve the purpose of providing a reason for mercy. Not to excuse or explain the murder; if that was the case the testimony would occur during the trial phase.
    Since they brought him in during the mitigation phase, my feeling is that you use anything possible to allow the jury to find a way not to give the Death Penalty. Pity, sympathy, empathy, anything can help.
    A rich, privileged, perfect childhooded, well respected man who coldly murders his wife and child might have very few mitigating factors. Theoretically the jury would have no reason to pity him; theoretically he should be more likely to receive a death penalty when these factors are weighed.