This e-mail recently wafted out of cyber-space and on into our Boonville office: "I'm very appreciate to know you. Did you read someone in the book? What do you thinks? There are some error. I'm sorry, but I thinks the means you can understand. I'm appreciate if you help me to contact other journalist same to you can interesting in the case."
The case. The case was about Carlo Parlanti.
Mr. Parlanti is presently confined to the perv unit of the state prison at Avenal. He beat a Ventura woman so badly she almost died and got convicted for it.
Carlo's lady friend wrote us the fractured e-mail letter as a follow-up to the impenetrable precis of Carlo's case she'd sent us. She'd been to the LA Times and Mother Jones. They weren't interested.
Carlo's lady friend believes Carlo didn't do anything to the Ventura woman that the Ventura woman herself had not requested. And nothing much happened anyway beyond maybe a black eye, if that.
That was Carlo's story and he stuck to it all the way into a lengthy stay at Avenal. A bundle of his former American girl friends had turned up in court to testify against him. Carlo says they all lied, that it was all a conspiracy against him. He should have been acquitted.
Carlo's Italian lady friend said Carlo's former American girl friends were "lying-a beeches" and "Carlo is-a innocent-a."
The lady friend was in Los Angeles, and then she was in San Francisco. She had come all the way from Italy to campaign for Carlo. She said she'd like to come to Boonville to tell me about how Carlo got railroaded into prison by "these-a lying-a beeches."
"You don't have to come all the way to Boonville," I'd said. "Just send me the documents. Police reports and court transcripts would be most helpful."
But she came all the way to Boonville anyway, the journalism equivalent of a Hail Mary.
She was a woman of maybe forty, and nicely turned out as it's said of trim, fashionable women. Not that I know anything about fashionable European women, but whenever I do happen to meet one I'm struck how unlike they are to the unkempt nasal yowlers we tend to encounter here in women of middle years. By contrast, the Europeans look and sound kind of elegant. This one for sure did.
Ms. Annedda said, "You canna calla me Katia."
That rhythmic vowel she put at the end of her words immediately put me in sing-a-long mode. (You get old, you can get lost in the moment.) I resisted an impulse to wave my hands in a syncopated reply, "Thank-a you-a, Signorina Katia."
Katia was no dummy, but she was in love with her Carlo, and love isn't always smart. She said her Carlo "was-a innocent-a," that he "was-a lied about-a by these-a woman. You can talk-a to him if you want-a."
And darned if Katia's cell phone didn't ring, and darned if it wasn't Carlo calling from the state pen.
Katia and Carlo certainly had their one-two sales pitch down.
Carlo thanked me for my interest in his case. He said he'd been in America working as a computer guy, that this woman had lied about him, that he'd been framed, that there was a two-county conspiracy against him launched in Monterey County and finalized in Ventura County.
His wasn't the organ grinder English of Katia, but most of us Yanks, me for sure, are mono-lingual and kinda weak at the one we're born with, so who are we to judge a European who probably speaks four of five languages when we barely speak one?
Of course Carlo had had a half-dozen years of intense language immersion at Avenal. He said he now had only 14 months more to do. Then he'd be deported, which is what happens to foreigners who commit crimes in our seamlessly lawful land.
I told Carlo I'd give his case a careful look. I handed Katia her phone. She and Carlo cooed at each other in Italian for a few seconds and he was gone.
So was Katia. She'd stayed for exactly an hour. She'd arrived punctually at one, departed at two pm on the nose, bustling out the door with a merry, "Ciao! I'll-a be-a in-a touch-a." I remembered I'd told her I'd be in my office from one until two. That's another thing I like about Europeans. Their manners. They get on and they get off.
A few days later a big envelope arrived in the mail. Katia had sent me a loose-leaf copy of a book, a purported book more than a book-book, a casebook, a whole manuscript written in organ grinder English. I would have thought they'd have had a native English speaker put the thing into clearly readable form, but here it was. I buckled down and read it.
It was called "Rape? Perverse Trials: The Case Parlanti." It seemed to be by a famous Italian lawyer and a famous Italian scholar from a famous Italian university. Their famous Italian names were on the cover, but the more I read the more I realized that while the famous lawyer and the famous scholar had been invoked and maybe even consulted, they hadn't written the thing. Carlo and Katia must have written it.
The book invoked the opinions of the Italian experts on American criminal procedures and concluded that American criminal procedures were inferior to Italian criminal procedures, and that Carlo was of course innocent of so severely injuring the Ventura woman in a perverted sexual assault that he claimed had been mutually agreed upon.
We read the book. We looked up the case on-line. We read the few newspaper accounts we could find.
Carlo was lucky he didn't get twice the time he got.
Carlo had been investigated in Italy for assaulting a woman or women. It wasn't clear. American women came forward at his trial in Ventura to say he'd battered them.
Carlo and Katia claim these women were all lying, that they knew powerful people in Monterey and Ventura counties who helped them get poor Carlo locked up. It was a conspiracy against Carlo by the women who'd loved him.
Apart from his assaults on women, Carlo had also been arrested for beating up a parked car. He was still punching the vehicle when a cop drove up. Carlo went to a therapist for help with "anger management" and wound up in complicated sexual rituals with the therapist. The therapist subsequently appeared in court against him. Carlo accused her of "unprofessional behavior."
Carlo was packed off to state prison after a jury trial, and right off a guy attacked him in reception.
Carlo is either the most wronged green card worker in the imported labor history of America or he's a lunatic. The smart money would seem to be on lunatic.
Here at the office, we grouped on the case. But the only thing we found peculiar about the Carlo matter was that Ventura County had pursued him all the way to Europe. Carlo says he didn't know the police were looking for him when he left the country. He was eventually arrested by Interpol in Germany and extradited to Ventura. Most counties, Mendocino County for a slam dunk fact, wouldn't have gone to the trouble and expense of extradition. Carlo got the Italian government to resist the process for him, but back to Ventura County he came. Now, Carlo's got a little more than a year to go at Avenal, but he wants vindication, wants to clear his name.
I wrote to Katia. "Dear Katia: Three of us here at the AVA read everything, including the material on-line, and we all came to the same conclusion, which is that Carlo is guilty. The only odd thing we found about the case is Carlo's extradition. Most jurisdictions wouldn't have done it. The material you sent me indicts him, that and the fact that these accusations from his many female friends just keep on happening. I'm sorry to disappoint you. You are a nice lady and it was a pleasure to meet you. I hope you and Carlo can make a good life for yourselves in Italy."
What I wanted to say was, "Run, Katia, run!"
Katia wrote back: "I'm very sorry you changed idea if someone pressed you for not speak about the case, I can understand. Please I ask you to send the draft copy to Carlo by legal mail. Thanks for your answer. Katia Anedda."