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September 17, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Lawyer for Josh Lueke goes on KJR AM 950

Some of you may have heard, in listening to KJR AM 950’s Mitch in the Morning show that David Torres, the lawyer for Josh Lueke, went on the air to defend his client. You can hear the interview by clicking right here.
Normally, I’d leave it at that. Unfortunately, Torres made a number of claims over the air that are not supported by fact.
The two most serious claims are that, first, there was no element of violence associated with Lueke’s plea. And second, that there was no DNA found on and inside the victim.
First, Lueke pleaded no contest to felony false imprisonment under Califonia Penal Code Section 236. In California, false imprisonment comes in two forms: misdemeanor and felony. To elevate the charge to a felony, the prosecution has to prove that the false imprisonment was accomplished by “violence or menace.”
There are other provisions involving fraud and deceit, but those are not pertinent here.
The degree of violence required to sustain such a charge can vary from case to case. But to say there was no violence associated with Lueke’s felony case is simply untrue. In Califonia, the plea Lueke made was to a charge commonly referred to as false imprisonment by violence, or false Imprisonment with violence. If not, he would have been sentenced for a misdemeanor and would not be on felony probation through the 2012 season.
On the second point, regarding DNA evidence, the Kern County Regional Criminalistics Laboratory, in a report dated March 25, 2009 and numbered PE08-00291-09, determined the Lueke was linked by DNA testing to semen found on the woman’s tank top strap, jeans, hair and multiple points inside her body. These results were the very foundation of the arrest warrant sought and obtained against Lueke in the case.
To suggest otherwise is false.
There were many other theories floated over the air by Torres in regards to what happened that night. None have ever been supported by evidence. Had the case gone to trial, Torres could have tried to introduce some of them. Maybe they’d have stood up to scrutiny, and maybe they’d have been shot down in five seconds.
But I’m not going to try the case here when his client already accepted criminal responsibility in the matter. Nor am I going to blame the victim based on the clothes she was wearing that night. Torres had his chance to go to trial and argue whatever he wanted and back it up with evidence. We are not going to try the case here based on theories and supposition from the party that has already agreed to be held responsible.
We interviewed Lueke for our story in order to verify certain facts in the case and to get his explanation for why he lied to police. He told us and we published his answer. We also asked him if he could tell us what he was specifically apologizing for when he read a letter to his victim in open court. He declined.
The purpose of contacting Torres was to get his client to submit to an interview, not to quote him in our story. Once we had Lueke’s comments, there was no need to duplicate them with those of his lawyer. Torres did talk to me for approximately 20 minutes about his reasons for taking the plea and about how Lueke is a good person. But I can’t speculate about why Lueke took the plea and neither can you. Innocent people take pleas. Guilty people take them too. All of those people are held accountable by the legal system when they do plead out.
Lueke told us he is “a good person” and we published that in our story. He said he regrets what happened and has “paid the price” for his mistakes. We published that as well. But the thing is, whether or not he’s “a good person” right now adds nothing fact-based to a story about a criminal case that concluded 10 months ago with Lueke held responsible.
It’s a case that caused Mariners team president Chuck Armstrong, when he first heard the actual details of it, to order his general manager to rescind that part of a trade with the Texas Rangers. That was Armstrong’s initial reaction, regardless of whether Lueke had been good or bad since. And the team’s actions leading up to the trade and subsequent to it, are still in question. There have been contradictory statements made by the people directly involved in the decision-making. Conflicting statements the team has yet to address in public more than two weeks after they came to light.
As I’ve said all along, it’s now up to the Mariners to decide whether or not to add Lueke to their major league roster. I am not going to tell them what to do. It is up to them to decide whether his “second chance” means getting to have an MLB career, or whether it’s simply to be out of jail and free to earn a living doing other things. There are varying examples of second chances all across the spectrum. Some people get them in their chosen fields and some don’t.
That’s the Mariners’ call. And based on their history of support for women’s groups, it will be an interesting decision to monitor either way.
But we were interested in the facts of this case. Not in speculating on what might have happened had Lueke gone to trial. None of us knows the answer and it’s not our job to guess once he accepts blame for his part.
What we do know is that the legal system is holding Lueke accountable for a felony criminal charge. We stand behind our story, which the Mariners have not challenged, and behind our telling of the facts of the case.
The Mariners now have a decision to make based on what they can prove and justify to themselves.
And we are leaving it up to you, as readers, to choose whether or not you agree with what the team decides and their reasoning behind it.

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