Tuesday, March 04, 2003
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The 'Chambers Defense' Again?

In Danbury, Connecticut, 25-year old Saul Dos Reis today entered a so-called "Alford plea" in connection with the strangling murder of Christina Long, a 13-year old girl he met and arranged meetings with through e-mail. Echoing the Robert Chambers "Preppie Killer Case" of the 1980's, Dos Reis claims he "accidentally" strangled the girl during sex. From GreenwichTime.com:
Following an encounter at the Super 8 Motel in Danbury on May 10, Dos Reis and Christina exchanged 14 e-mails and arranged to meet on the night of May 17 at the nearby Danbury Fair Mall shopping complex, Murray said. During intercourse in the parking lot of a nearby [McDonald's] restaurant, Dos Reis strangled the sixth-grader, according to his statement. DNA evidence taken from Christina's body confirmed a sexual encounter between her and Dos Reis, Murray said. Dos Reis pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge under the Alford Doctrine, in which a defendant does not admit guilt but agrees that the state has enough evidence to obtain a conviction.

The attorneys said they plan to call witnesses on May 6 who will testify to Dos Reis' good character as a manager at his stepfather's Port Chester, N.Y., restaurant and characterize his involvement with Christina as a "mistake." "We'll establish that he's never been in trouble before in his life and lived a completely passive, nonviolent existence," [defense attorney Peter] Tilem said. "His defense in this case has always been that it was an accident and that because of this one horrible mistake he has lost everything."
Strangling another human until they gasp their last and their life ebbs away is never a "mistake" (it reminds me of "Preppie Killer" Robert Chambers' on-camera joke, "oops, I think I killed it!") - it requires a series of conscious decisions and acts. It's not as easy or simple as, say, pulling the trigger of a gun. Murder by strangulation takes a lot of effort.

While the Dos Reis case prompted the Congressional creation of a "kids only" Internet zone, such a measure is like putting a Band-Aid on a malignant tumor.

The Internet doesn't kill people - people kill people. While e-mail may have facilitated Dos Reis' and Long's meeting arrangements, as the adult, he still made the choices that led to real-life sexual encounters with the girl. There must have been numerous opportunities for Dos Reis to back away, say "No", find a more appropriate outlet for his urges. He did not choose them.

Christina Long should have been having a Big Mac at that Connecticut McDonald's instead of being strangled and raped in their parking lot. This isn't the kind of crime you deserve "first offense" slap-on-the-wrist leniency for, and charges of manslaughter seem unconscionably mild - the case being all the more reprehensible in that Dos Reis' wife Tatiana was recovering from cancer chemotherapy at the time her husband committed the crime.

From CNN.com:
The Brazilian national has said that he strangled the girl accidentally while they were having rough sex in his car after he picked her up at a mall. Police said the two met in an Internet chat room. The case led to a push in Congress for a kids-only domain on the Web. "He's not doing well. He looked like hell," defense attorney James Lenihan said of his client. "His appearance reflected the emotional turmoil and the complete and utter devastation this has wrought on him." Dos Reis faces a maximum 30 years in prison; he could have been sentenced to as many as 50 years if he had been convicted at trial.
Please excuse me while I get a handful of Kleenex. An admitted child-murderer "utterly devastated" by getting caught? I think that's the point.


1. Soup or salad? Unequivocally, soup - It's something I love to cook. Salad is just leaves and berries. ;)
2. Hot or cold sandwiches? Depends how long they've been in my pocket.
3. White or whole wheat bread (or rye, etc)? The bread should match the sandwich...like red wine and beef, or fish with white. Rye with corned beef or pastrami, and any type of reuben; whole wheat for tuna salad, white for bologna. Not that I eat bologna.
4. Pack a lunch for work/school, or buy it? I usually pack, unless I forget - or I'm in the mood for the Divinity School Cafe's pad thai.
5. If you eat out...fast-food chain, or mom & pop type place? Mom-and-pop places have the most character, and Chicago's full of 'em.
6. Tuna or chicken salad? Tuna - add a shredded scallion, tablespoon mayo, black pepper, dash Tabasco if you like.
7. Cheese: Swiss or cheddar (or American, etc)? No cheese, please. Unless you're a pizza.
8. Mustard or mayo? Definitely mustard. Unless you're tuna salad.
9. Sandwiches: wrap/pita pocket, or regular bread/roll? Wraps are fun, and anything in a burrito tastes better. Ever had a Spamburrito? You take a large flour tortilla, add about 2-3 ounces of julienned Spam(TM), squirt of mustard to taste, fold up and nuke for about one minute. Mmmm. It's porkariffic!
10. Sweet stuff: cookie/cake or fresh fruit? Fruit in season is always nice - strawberries and peaches are my faves - but I won't turn down a good oatmeal raisin cookie.