JUDGE RELEASES INNOCENT MAN “INVESTIGATION OUTRAGEOUS”

JUDGE RELEASES INNOCENT MAN “INVESTIGATION OUTRAGEOUS”

He spent nearly 30 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. A CA judge just dismissed the case, called investigation ‘outrageous’

JUDGE RELEASES INNOCENT MAN “INVESTIGATION OUTRAGEOUS”

NCIP, with pro bono partner Morrison and Foerster, re-investigated the case, filed multiple briefs, presented witnesses at an evidentiary hearing, and argued the new evidence —especially MacCarlie’s confession—more likely than not would have changed the outcome of Fenenbock’s original trial, as it did for his co-defendants.

In 1991, when Bob Fenenbock proclaimed his innocence, facing charges that he joined a frenzied mob in the murder of a Trinity County man, no one believed him.

He was convicted and sentenced to life.

In 2019, even after the Northern California Innocence Project took up Fenenbock’s case and wrote a successful appeal, freeing him from prison, prosecutors moved to retry him.

Longing to return to his home state of Hawaii, Fenenbock spent a year in California facing the pending murder case, the prospect of returning to prison hanging over his head.

But on August 24, after listening to arguments from both sides, Solano County Superior Court Judge Carlos Gutierrez gave Fenenbock what he’s been spent three decades seeking: vindication.

In a blistering order that accused a lead police investigator of “untruths, lies, deception, and coercion,” Gutierrez threw out the case, effectively ending Fenenbock’s nightmare.

“I’ve been screaming this in a cell for 28 years,” Fenenbock said in an interview. “It was surprisingly amazingly incredible that this year of BS was over and I could move on with my life.”

Now back in his native state, Fenenbock has had time to reflect back on the time he spent as a wrongfully-convicted California prisoner,

And how different life would be for him if he was still locked away in a prison system rife with overcrowding amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

But for now, he said, he’s focusing on his future.

“I’m just wallowing in my family,” Fenenbock said. “The future holds pretty much whatever I want to do, cuz as of Monday of last week, I’m free…I’m beaming, man.”

Gutierrez’s ruling undid what Fenenbock’s attorneys argued was a case that never should have been filed.

The evidence against him was largely based on the word of a 9-year-old boy, Randy, who Gutierrez ruled had been coerced into providing false statements.

JUDGE RELEASES INNOCENT MAN “INVESTIGATION OUTRAGEOUS”

The youngster was threatened that if the defendants walked, they would come for him next. He claimed he witnessed the murder as he hid below his mother’s blanket and watched as the victim was attacked.

The victim, Gary L. Summar, 37, was described in media reports at the time as a “nomad” living in remote Trinity County when he was accused of molesting a 4-year-old.

Unsatisfied with the police investigation into the alleged molestation, the 4-year-old’s mom organized a group to attack Summar.

They lured him to a campsite about 50 miles west of Weaverville and attacked him with knives and blunt objects, breaking bones and stabbing him more than 70 times.

At least, that was the cops’ version of events.

According to Fenenbock’s attorneys, Summar had one killer, who admitted his deed, mounted a mental health defense, and told authorities that Fenenbock was not involved.

Faced with a lack of physical evidence tying Fenenbock to the murder, authorities interrogated Randy, who at first claimed to have no knowledge of the murder.

“The only way (police) could get a witness to this murder was with manufactured testimony,” Jim Bennett, one of Fenenbock’s attorneys, said in an interview.

“They told him, ‘If you don’t stick to this story these guys will come and hurt your family.'”

Though Summar was killed in Trinity County, the high level of media coverage forced the case into Solano County, where Fenenbock was tried and convicted.

The media referred to Fenenbock and his co-defendants as the “Hawkins Bar 8.”

All but Fenenbock and Bernard MacCarlie, the man who admitted murdering Summar, were acquitted at trial, Bennett said.

The Trinity County District Attorney’s office — which is dealing with the tragic loss of DA Donna Daly in an Aug. 18 car crash — did not return requests for comment on Gutierrez decision.

Fenenbock went through various stages of emotion as he tried to live his life behind bars with the knowledge that he was innocent, he said.

He filed handwritten appeal motions from prison, and after a quarter-century attracted the Innocence Project’s help. By then, Randy had recanted his testimony.

Fenenbock holds nothing against Randy, who testified last month that the past 30 years have been “a lifetime of hell” as he wrestled with knowing his testimony put a man behind bars.

“I got nothing but love for Randy to tell you the truth,” Fenenbock said.

In August 2019, the California Supreme Court found that evidence of the coerced statement would have “more likely than not” changed the outcome of Fenenbock’s trial.

His conviction was overturned, but Trinity County prosecutors promptly moved to retry him. Still, a judge allowed Fenenbock to be free while the case made its way to trial.

But rather than argue in front of a jury, Fenenbock’s attorneys filed a motion to throw out the case based on gross government misconduct, a rare move that has a high legal standard for success.

Gutierrez listened to five days of testimony — including from Randy and police investigators — before ruling Fenenbock had not received a fair trial.

JUDGE RELEASES INNOCENT MAN “INVESTIGATION OUTRAGEOUS”

“To implant a memory in a 9-year-old child that, in the Court’s view, is such conduct that is grossly shocking, it’s outrageous, and it violates the universal sense of justice,” Gutierrez said, according to a transcript of the hearing.

The judge’s ruling opens the door for Fenebock to successfully sue, and payouts for wrongful convictions are generally calculated in the millions.

Famous examples include the Central Park 5 received $41 million after their rape convictions were overturned, and Craig Coley, a California man who got $21 million after spending 39 years in prison for a double murder case that was eventually overturned.

Fenenbock says he has not yet made a final decision whether to pursue legal action,

But believes what happened to him “was not a mistake,” but rather an intentional malicious prosecution.

DAWG SAYS: I AM A PRO DEATH PENALTY GUY, BUT CASES LIKE THIS ARE A GOOD ARGUMENT TO ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY THAT IS NOT USED IN CALIFORNIA ANYWAY.


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3 Comments

  1. Always in these types of cases the prosecutor is quick to offer a plea deal that will keep the released prisoner out of jail, and thereby prevent a lawsuit against the prosecutor and investigators. The great majority of defendants take this deal. So, when Fenenbock refused to take a deal, he demonstrated a tremendous amount of courage. He may have figured that it was too late in life for him to rebuild, so he either gets a big civil judgement, or goes back to prison. Those were the only two choices he realistically had. He now has his multimillion dollar lawsuit and will be well set for the remainder of his life. And,hopefully, the prosecutor who retried him will be disbarred, but probably not.

    1. Author

      I think a smart move by the attorneys,
      Also as a side note the firm handleing this cas is Morrison and Forester the Atwals civil atty’s

  2. The “Hawkins Bar 8”. Do we see any parallel to the “Carson 8”? Difference is that lying perjuring and hateful self serving cowardly DA fladager and her lying perjuring and hateful inside group of detestable, disgraceful and shameful minions could not scam the jury here. A couple of the worst bunch and jacobson have fled the scene but will be back in court when all of the malicious prosecution trials start. My prediction is that none will go to trial and all will settle for enough money to break the county. Malpractice insurance only covers so much.
    R.I.P. Frank Carson. Scumbag fladager has to live and die with the truth that she was NEVER able to pull a big one off whenever you were involved.

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