Monday, July 9, 2012

Risk and Protective Factors: Murder Trial of Luis Aguirre, Sentencing Phase

Thank you Barry Disney. Today in Phase II of the Murder Trial of Luis Aguirre, convicted of Capital Murder in the deaths of Tanya and Juan Maldonado, the defense began with testimony regarding the risk factors of growing up in neighborhoods which have higher than average rates of poverty and lower educational achievement. I have studied research in this area extensively and i am amazed at the lack of reporting on a key issue:
Most people who grow up with risk factors,
even terrible risk factors: horrible abuse, bounced around from foster family to foster family, etc--do not become murderers. They do not become violent lawbreakers. They do not kill their own children. Sadly, some do, it is true.
(So do some who are rich and spoiled rotten. and those with the highest of educations...)
The research i did found that generally, those children who witness violence, suffer from violence, and/or live amidst many of the risk factors such as low SES (socioeconomic status), family disturbances, and genetic predispositions have one of three outcomes:
  • They may live average or better than average lives. Their troubles may lead them to be passionate activists for the health of children. They end up Strong at the Broken Places (by linda sanford).
  • They may deal with increased rates of depression, anxiety, and other personal and relational challenges. This may last for shorter or longer times, depending on the ways they get help and on the sorts of protective factors in their lives.
  • They may pass along the violence that they received. They may be verbally or physically abusive or live lives where violence and crime are part of their behavior patterns. It appears that between 15%-30%, of those who have witnessed and experienced violence and other risk factors as children enter into this category, to a greater or lesser extent.
The first witness brought by the defense today was a woman from Texas who works for a Geographical Information Systems company. She testifies in murder trials about neighborhoods where perpetrators grew up, using U.S. census data to show poverty or educational deficits in the neighborhoods of the defendants.

If you read the previous post (Judgement, Compassion, and the Death Penalty), you know my feelings about the Death Penalty.
So, i am not trying to eliminate reasons to spare the life of Luis Aguirre.
What i am against
 is using research to suggest that anyone can be excused from their crimes because of poverty, less education, and moving around a lot. So many children from our country and all over the world live in trying circumstances who are the pillars of society in their adult years. They are the fabulous artists, the writers, they are wonderful parents and teachers. They are your best friend who gets up and goes to work each day as a carpenter, a waitress, a taxi driver and goes home at night and loves their kids.

The opening defensse lawyer, Mr Wicks took 20 minutes today to tell us how we would hear of the sad childhood of Mr. Aguirre. (Details later)--
Thank you to Mr. Disney for asking the questions a psychologist wants to hear on the cross-examination.

Where there is no compassion,
let there be no judgement.

I believe that.

Rather than listing the risk factors Mr. Aguirre endured--which do move me to pity--
he was a little boy once, after all?

There is one way to have one's life spared, i think
Admit one's guilt and plead for mercy.
Tell the truth, the whole truth.
Allow one's spirit to be broken, allow the shell of Guise and disguise and deception to crack open and tell all, admitting one's failure and sin and pain and hell and sadness and grief and shame and guilt.
Ask for hope,
Ask for time for forgiveness.

Juan Maldonado Rest in Peace Little One

Trial Day One click HERE


  1. He knew what he was doing, poverty and abuse did not lead him to do this. He was a happy and accomplished person and to try and make excuses and put blame is only a bigger slap in the face of those who where affected. Instead of standing up and saying Yes I did this, I am sorry, this is what happened and why, he is still making excuses lying, saying look at me and what a victim i was. That is what drove me to this but its not. To me thats like saying if it hadnt been them it would have been someone else but that is not the case had they not posed such a burden for him he would not have killed.

  2. Anonymous: you bring up a very good point: you say, this poverty and instability issue means "...if it hadnt been them it would have been someone else..."
    That is to say, "my lousy circumstances have overwhelmed me, now i hardly have a choice, stay our of my way or you will be hurt..."
    when in fact, this crime required hard cold calculations and appears to be based on utter selfishness.

  3. Couldn't agree more. Thank you Katy for bearing witness and posting your observations on this very sad story.


  4. Sylvia Ortiz-Tanyas AuntJuly 10, 2012 at 4:59 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. Doctors, Lawyers, Policemen, and Countless other people who I know Personally, most of which I went to the Same impoverished schools to, 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.

    1. We here in Manhattan KS, know Luis Aguirre does not represent the people of Humboldt Park and surrounding neighborhoods. He is evil and he does not value life. Tanya and Luis had similar childhoods, and as horrible as they were, Tanya chose to fight to make her and Juan's life better. Not a day goes by where I don't think of Juan and Tanya. I know they are in peace in Heaven. Though my heart still remains full of sorrow because of how I got to know them. I will never forgot Tanya and Juan and there are many people here in Manhattan, who will not either.