Voilà un nouvel article qui va étendre notre revue de presse sur « la justice ».
Le titre (A mother’s excruciating wait for justice in her daughter’s death just got longer) est parlant.
Annoncé sous le nom «d’anonymat
», le pigiste est connu et fiable.
Vous pouvez donc faire confiance aux révélations qu’il communique.
Texte d’origine :
Five years ago, 13-year-old Hania Aguilar stood outside her family’s mobile home in Lumberton, waiting for a ride to junior high, when a stranger in black clothes tossed her in an idling SUV and sped away while she screamed.
The world soon knew Hania by the missing person reports flooding the Internet. They waited anxiously through a massive manhunt led by the FBI, which confirmed the worst after 22 days.
Investigators found Hania in a swamp 11 miles from home, her body covered by a plastic door. She had been raped and most likely asphyxiated. Her funeral drew nearly 1,000 mourners dressed in purple, Hania’s favorite color.
“I have been living a nightmare,” her mother Celsa Hernandez said on Thursday, “and I’m feeling like it’s time for justice to be served.”
Since then, the unthinkable horror that struck Hania’s family remains as sharp as it did on day one, largely because they are still waiting for a murder trial to begin in rural Robeson County.
A mother begs for closure
The case against Hania’s accused killer, already delayed, got set back again at least until early 2024 — meaning a full 5.5 years will have passed before a jury gets chosen.
Wearing a purple shirt, Hernandez stood before a Superior Court judge Thursday and begged for some closure, asking that the case go ahead in September as scheduled.
“I’m here to ask for justice,” she said in Spanish, speaking through a translator. “I believe they’ve had enough time. If the defendant didn’t give my daughter enough time to live, why should he be given a chance to continue?”
She will wait until next year.
The most recent delay added a fresh entanglement in a case that already ranks among North Carolina’s most infamous tragedies.
Suspect shouldn’t have been free
Agonizing as it was, Hania’s death cut even deeper because Michael McLellan, the 38-year-old man charged with murder, shouldn’t have been walking the streets anywhere in the fall of 2018.
On the day Hania disappeared:
▪ Robeson County sheriff’s deputies had evidence from the state crime lab connecting him to a separate 2016 rape. They never acted on it in more than a year.
▪ police in neighboring Fairmont had a warrant for McLellan’s arrest for robbery and kidnapping in a carjacking gone wrong. It wasn’t served.
▪ the state Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission had a second warrant for McLellan’s arrest because he had violated terms of his recent release from prison. Nothing happened.
In the days after McLellan’s arrest, as the state sorted through the mess, then-District Attorney Johnson Britt said Hania “might be alive” if authorities hadn’t overlooked DNA evidence.
But now attention shifts to McLellan, still sitting in Central Prison.
Delays from defense team
On Thursday, his attorney Harold “Butch” Pope said COVID-19 had severely limited contact with his client, and that experts on the defense team were both restricted and reluctant to visit during the pandemic. Though Pope has been on the case from the beginning, his co-counsel joined only a year ago after another of McLellan’s attorneys withdrew.
On top of that, the defense is contending with McLellan’s two unrelated felony cases on top of the 10 charges stemming from Hania’s death.
“We are just not going to be able to effectively represent Mr. McLellan,” Pope said Thursday.
However, Pope said almost exactly the same thing two years ago when asked for a status update.
“In addition to the capital case, there are two unrelated rape cases in 2019,” he said in 2021, according to ABC 15 news. “We are nowhere near prepared for trial just yet. In addition to COVID delays, there are some delays with experts.”
Anyone familiar with Lumberton and the Robeson County courthouse, both about 100 miles southwest of Raleigh, is accustomed to justice unfolding slowly.
Robeson’s slow justice
The violent crime rate there consistently ranks among the highest in the state, but Robeson has the legal resources of a rural outpost because more people live in Cary than its vast swampland.
Superior Court Judge Greg Bell noted Thursday that a murder case in Robeson normally takes three years on average, and post-pandemic, it takes closer to five. He spoke sympathetically to Hernandez, telling her he’d rather delay now than days before a trial in September, or make a mistake and have to do it all again.
“I understand y’all want justice as quick as possible,” he said. “We just want to do it right the first time.”
Hernandez left the court in tears, a tissue pressed to her face, thinking of the daughter who never got to grow up.
So much time has passed since Hania died that a friend who came to court on Thursday stood taller than the principal who accompanied her.
Some of the friends who showed up in support wore purple T-shirts with Hania’s face on the front, a pair of wings beside her head. In those pictures, she remains the girl who played viola and loved science, who had a dog named Pedro, who wasn’t old enough to have a cell phone or hang around with boys.
She would be a high school senior now.
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