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Officer, There’s A Man In My Underwear Drawer

Accused underwear
Accused Underwear Man, Marc Radcliffe.

Attorney General Eric Holder was just in San Francisco to address the American Bar Association. He told the lawyers that he wanted federal prosecutors to lighten up on non-violent drug offenders. On Wednesday, the Mendocino County DA’s Office lightened up on pot pharma Peter Richardson to where the case against Richardson became so light it disappeared.

The level of interest in the Richardson matter was great enough to attract a crowd, including Sheriff Tom Allman, and after a meeting between the contending lawyers in Judge Ann Moorman’s chambers, Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster and defense attorney Keith Faulder announced to the crowd that the case was going to be resolved and would not proceed.

Attorney General Holder also told the ABA that he wanted an end to mandatory sentencing in non-violent drug cases, and if the county DA couldn’t hit Peter Richardson with a tough sentence why go to trial, especially against a man who may be dying of prostate cancer?

Out went Richardson and in came a pre-trial hearing led by that master of false starts, Public Defender Linda Thompson. Ms. Thompson doubted that her client, Marc Radcliffe, had been read his Miranda rights. She's a stickler for Miranda. Ten years ago she mirandaized a Fort Bragg kid, Tai Abreu, straight into prison for the rest of his life. In that one, even the prosecutor was begging Thompson to take the plea deal the DA was offering. Nope, Thompson took a vague Miranda argument to the jury, an argument she confused even further, and after a one day trial off the boy went for the rest of his days. Abreu's co-defendants will be back in Fort Bragg in another few years, although the man the three of them murdered will probably still be dead, and Thompson will still be asking the cops if they read the perp his Miranda rights.

Mr. Radcliffe wasn’t facing murder charges. He's accused of breaking into an apartment at the Autumn Leaves retirement community last February where he'd rummaged through an older woman's underwear drawer while the woman was working on a puzzle and her husband was on the computer. A man appeared at the woman's elbow clad in her undergarments and began whispering unappealing endearments in her terrified ear. The husband, no spring chicken, sprang at the intruder but was shrugged off. Underwear Man, snagging the woman's purse as he departed, ran off down the street in red panties and a pink camisole.

Radcliffe, the alleged Underwear Man, is a hefty guy in his early 50s. He's festooned with all kinds of tough-guy tattoos, although running around Ukiah in an old lady's underwear kinda weakens a tough guy's public image. Radcliffe has been arrested several times in recent years on methamphetamine charges and parole violations, but this is his first beef involve grandma's knickers.

This is the kind of thing where a testifying witness might have a hard time keeping a straight face. But the witness was Anthony Delapo of the Ukiah PD. His grandmother had been robbed at knifepoint in the Pear Tree Shopping Center parking lot last Christmastide by another tattooed dude. Tattooed thugs hassling little old Ukiah ladies is no joke to Officer Delapo.

Deputy DA Damon Gardner called Officer Delapo to establish the verity of Radcliffe having been properly “Mirandaized,” to use the tortured verb Ms. Thompson seems so fond of. Delapo is a rookie serving his first year on the police force; he carries a field guide to the care and handling of Ukiah's night birds. He told the court that he read Mr. Marc Radcliffe his Miranda rights right out of the book, “word-for-word.”

DDA Gardner: “So you read it to him verbatim?”

Officer Delapo: “Yes, I did.”

Gardner: “When did you do this?”

Delapo: “The evening of February 2nd; it was past eight o’clock. May I refer to my report?”

Gardner: “If it will help refresh your memory, go ahead.”

Delapo (after a pause): “It was sometime between 11pm and 12:54am.”

Gardner: “Did the suspect appear to understand his rights under Miranda?”

Delapo: “He said yes, he did understand the admonishment.”

Gardner: “Did you ask him if he knew where he was at, what he’d been doing and whether he’d been in anyone’s apartment?”

Delapo: “He appeared to be under the influence.”

Gardner: “Did you ask if he’d been using any drugs?”

Delapo: “Yes; he said he’d used methamphetamine at about 4pm that day.”

Gardner: “Did you ask about the apartment?”

Delapo: “Yes, but he seemed confused, and said he couldn’t recall where he’d been that day. I showed him a jacket that was found at the apartment and he said it was his.”

Public Defender Thompson: “Where exactly did you — well, let me ask you this: Did this occur in a particular area of the Police Department? Were you at the office in Ukiah?”

Delapo: “Just in a holding cell.”

Thompson: “”You also said — but, wait… uh, do you have any sort of recording device?”

Delapo: “Yes, I do.”

Thompson: “Were you using it when you Mirandaized my client?”

Delapo: “I don’t think it was working that day, or maybe it wasn’t on.”

Police department tape recorders have a tendency to go on the fritz at the darndest times.

Thompson: “But your camera was working alright… So let me show you a photograph — may I approach the witness, your honor?”

Judge Ann Moorman: “Go ahead.”

Thompson: “I’m showing you a photograph marked People’s Exhibit Number Eight…”

Delapo: “Yes, that is Mr. Radcliffe.”

Thompson, a great one for irrelevant detail, said, “He seems to be seated on a bench of some sort.”

Delapo: “Yes…”

Thompson: “Is that where you questioned him?”

Delapo: “Yes.”

Thompson: “So you asked Mr. Radcliffe — well, first of all, you Mirandaized him first, didn’t you?”

Delapo: “Yes.”

Thompson: “So you asked him a number of questions about the apartment, correct?”

Delapo: “Correct.”

Thompson: “Did you ask him which day of the week it was?”

Delapo: “I don’t recall.”

Thompson: “Did you ask what month it was?”

Delapo: “I don’t recall.”

Thompson suddenly blurted out a loud gotcha-sounding guffaw, which she does often in open court, at no visible or audible gotcha. The gotcha out of the way, Thompson asked, “Would it help refresh your memory if you checked your report?”

Delapo scanned his report and said, “Yes, I did ask which day of the week it was. I was trying to make just simple conversation.”

Thompson: “And he was still confused?”

Delapo: “Yes. He kept picking at his skin; he was fidgety and often tensed his muscles.”

Thompson: “Did you ask where he lived?”

Delapo: “He gave an address on Del Rio Street and said he lived with a friend.”

Thompson: “So you just showed him a jacket and asked if he recognized it?”

Delapo: “Yes.”

Thompson: “And after questioning him you took him to the local hospital, correct?”

Delapo: “Correct.”

Thompson: “For a blood test?”

Delapo: “Yes.”

Thompson: “What were the results?”

Gardner: “Objection, relevance.”

Moorman: “Do you know the results?”

Delapo: “No.”

Thompson: “When you Mirandaized him, did you ask if he understood?”

Delapo: “Yes.”

Moorman: “So you read to him from the booklet?”

Delapo: “Yes.”

Moorman: “What does it say?”

Delapo: “I don’t have it with me, now.”

Gardner flipped out his wallet and produced a card with the Miranda rights printed on it and read it for the judge.

Moorman: “Then you asked if he understood. What’s the next thing you did?”

Delapo: “I started asking questions about where he’d been.”

Thompson: “At the conclusion of the, uh, part about asking if he, uh, understood — HUMPF! came another odd explosion from the diminutive public defender — did you ask, ‘Do you want to talk to me now’?”

Delapo: “He just started talking.”

Thompson: “I’m gonna have to object —- and he appeared confused, correct?”

Delapo: “Yes.”

Gardner called his next witness, Mariano Guzman, who was a patrol Sergeant at the time, and had been called in to help Officer Anthony Delapo. Mr. Guzman now works as an investigator for the DA.

Gardner: “Did you participate in the pursuit of the defendant?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Gardner “Was the defendant apprehended?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Gardner: “What did you do?”

Guzman: “I drew my weapon and ordered him to the ground.”

Gardner: “What did he do?”

Guzman: “He went down, face down, then reached in his pocket and withdrew a lighter and a small, used cigarette. He put the cigarette to his mouth, lit it and proceeded to smoke it.”

Gardner: “What was he wearing?”

Guzman: “A woman’s sweatshirt and torn jeans. He appeared to have torn his jeans from eluding police officers through bushes and fences.”

Gardner: “Did you cuff him?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Gardner: “Put him in your patrol vehicle?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Gardner: “Ask him questions?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Gardner: “His name?”

Guzman: “Marc Radcliffe.”

Gardner: “Were you acquainted with him?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Gardner: “Was he on parole?”

Guzman: “That he was.”

Gardner: “Do you know his Parole Officer?”

Guzman: “Jennifer Farley.”

Gardner: “Did he appear injured?”

Guzman: “Yes, and he told me he had pain in his abdomen.”

Thompson: “His jeans were ripped — well, let me ask you this: He was wearing a woman’s sweatshirt — what you perceived to be a woman’s sweatshirt?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Thompson: “May I approach, your honor?”

Moorman: “Go ahead.”

Thompson: “Do you recognize these photos?”

Guzman: “Yes, I took ‘em.”

Thompson was togged out in a man’s navy blazer, white ducks and deck shoes. She looked like a yacht steward: “Had you received a description of how he was dressed?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Thompson: “A white pleated skirt?”

Guzman, suppressing a smile: “Yes, that’s correct.”

Thompson: “And Mrs. Dotson had told you the perpetrator was wearing her pink undershirt and red panties when he fled her apartment?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Be on the lookout for a large tattooed man in hot pink. Check that. The pink may only be a small part of a fetching ensemble that includes both pink and red garments sequestered beneath a white, pleated skirt.

Thompson: “But when you apprehended him, he was wearing only the ripped jeans and sweatshirt?”

Guzman: “Correct.”

Thompson: “No underwear, no socks?”

Guzman: “Correct.”

Thompson: “And Mr. and Mrs. Dotson said they did not observe any scars, marks or tattoos?”

Guzman: “Correct.”

Thompson: “Nothing further.”

And then another wild creature eruption from Thompson. “EERCH!”

These startling animal cries from the public defender may be a kind of courtroom Tourettes. The old girl might have a workman's comp claim going here if she doesn't get control of these disconcerting blasts.

“Sorry,” she said, “Ha-ha, I need to, uh, ask a couple more, uh, questions. Well, first of all, who did you speak to first — Mr. or Mrs. Dotson?”

Guzman: “Mr. Dotson, I believe.”

Thompson: “Did you take him out to your vehicle to identify the suspect?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Thompson: “What was the lighting like?”

Guzman: “It was still dark, but we had our flashlights and vehicle lights on.”

Thompson: “Were there any other witnesses?”

Guzman: “No.”

Gardner: “Do you recall how much time elapsed between the time of the dispatch and time you apprehended the suspect?”

Guzman: “Two hours.”

Gardner: “In your opinion, is that enough time to change clothes?”

Guzman: “More than enough.”

Gardner: “How many times have you arrested Mr. Radcliffe?”

Thompson: “Objection! Relevance!”

Moorman: “Overruled.”

Guzman: “At least a couple of times.”

Gardner: “Are you familiar with his criminal record?”

Guzman: “He has more than five convictions.”

Gardner: “Has he been to prison?”

Guzman: “Yes.”

Gardner: “And Sandra and Darrel Dotson made a positive ID in the field?”

Guzman: “I was told it was a positive ID by Mrs. Dotson, and a partial by Mr. Dotson.”

Gardner: “And the alleged victims, Carlotta Snodgrass and Andrea Hughes — were their descriptions consistent?”

Guzman: “Yes. In my mind it was the same person.”

Judge Moorman ruled that the hearing would resume on Monday with Ms. Snodgrass and Ms. Hughes. A jury trial was set for Monday, August 19th. They would then pick a jury on Tuesday and the trial was expected to be over by Thursday afternoon, at the latest. ¥¥





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