Investigator tied to botched case

Investigator tied to botched case

There are 5 comments on the Palo Alto Daily News story from Apr 24, 2008, titled Investigator tied to botched case. In it, Palo Alto Daily News reports that:

The Palo Alto police sergeant leading the investigation into potential crimes at the Children's Theatre was instrumental in convincing a Santa Clara County prosecutor to mistakenly press homicide charges ...
The Palo Alto police sergeant leading the investigation into potential crimes at the Children's Theatre was instrumental in convincing a Santa Clara County prosecutor to mistakenly press homicide charges against a man whose wife committed suicide in 1995, court documents obtained by the Daily News reveal. <br/> <br/>Santa Clara County Executive Peter Kutras, Jr. released a letter Tuesday apologizing to members of the Palo Alto family for mistakenly accusing the late Nelson Galbraith of killing his wife, Josephine, based in part on information provide by the police sergeant, who was then a homicide detective. <br/> <br/>The county's former medical examiner, the late Angelo Ozoa, sparked the colossal flub when he performed a flawed autopsy and later covered up his mistakes, according to court documents. A jury acquitted Galbraith in 1998. <br/> <br/>But after the Galbraith family filed a federal lawsuit against Ozoa and the county for violating his civil rights, the prosecutor who originally filed homicide charges against Galbraith said her decision was not based on Ozoa's report. <br/> <br/>Linda Condron, the deputy district attorney on the case and now a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge, said in a 2005 court deposition she decided to press charges on the recommendation of Palo Alto police Sgt. Michael Yore, who today is leading the investigation into alleged financial crimes at the Palo Alto Children's Theatre. <br/> <br/>"I believe that I relied extensively on the investigation conducted by Detective Yore in making my determination to file charges against Nelson Galbraith," Condron said in the deposition. <br/> <br/>Condron, who is currently presiding over a murder trial, declined through a spokesman to comment Wednesday. <br/> <br/>Yore did not return phone calls seeking comment for this article. <br/> <br/>Yore, the first officer to arrive at the Galbraiths' Wilkie Way home on Sept. 18, 1995, initially considered the death a suicide, according to an opinion filed in 2002 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Later, after being contacted by the coroner's office, Yore amended the report to reflect the theory that the death was a homicide. <br/> <br/>"This homicide was originally thought to be a suicide until the Corners [sic] Office advised me that he [sic] cause of death had changed," Yore wrote in the report, according to court documents. <br/> <br/>In his own 2005 deposition, Yore said that in 1995 it was "unclear" what caused Galbraith's death, though court documents state that Galbraith had told family members she wished to die, had requested lethal doses of medication from her doctors and had been classified as severely depressed. <br/> <br/>At the scene, there was no indication of a struggle, Yore said. But he called the death "suspicious" because the victim, who had slit her wrists, had blood on her hands but barely any on the sash she had apparently used to strangle herself. In addition, the sash had been wrapped three times around her neck and double-knotted. <br/> <br/>"I had a strong suspicion that she could not do this to herself," Yore said in the deposition. <br/> <br/>After the coroner's office told Yore the cause of death was believed to be "ligature asphyxiation," or neck strangulation, Yore processed all of the evidence from the scene, including a five-gallon plastic bucket he noted had been placed "next to her bed to catch the blood from her wrists." <br/> <br/>The bucket, containing roughly a pint of blood, was later misplaced, according to court documents. Yore also noted it was odd that a butcher's knife was placed several feet away on a chest of drawers. <br/> <br/>"All of the evidence was ultimately consistent with a finding of homicide," Yore said in the deposition. "Therefore, I made the recommendation to Linda Condron that criminal charges should be instituted against Nelson Galbraith." <br/> <br/>In a deposition two years earlier in 2003, Yore explained how he had reached the conclusion that a homicide had occurred when asked by the Galbraiths' lead attorney, Michael Goldsmith, about his knowledge of "ligature asphyxiation," which Ozoa deemed could only have been accomplished by someone other than the victim. <br/> <br/>After stating that he was familiar with the characteristics of ligature strangulation, Yore said he could identify such a death because "No. 1, the corpse is cold to the touch in many cases ... We may - obviously, the corpse would not be breathing," he said. <br/> <br/>"Doesn't everyone who's dead become cold to the touch?" Goldsmith asked. <br/> <br/>"Exactly," answered Yore. <br/> <br/>In addition, Yore said that lividity - the gathering of blood at the body's lowest point - would indicate someone had died from a ligature asphyxiation. <br/> <br/>"Is it also fair to say that every person that you've seen who's died has also had lividity?" Goldsmith asked. <br/> <br/>"That's correct," Yore said. <br/> <br/>Yore also testified that ligature strangulation corpses often display petechiae, or small red spots on the body caused by the bursting of small blood vessels. When Goldsmith asked whether he was aware that petechiae are now commonly associated with suicides, Yore said he did not "accept that premise." <br/> <br/>Palo Alto police Chief Lynne Johnson said officers attend basic and advanced homicide training, which includes lessons in how to distinguish suicide and homicide victims. But she cautioned that officers usually base their determination on autopsy results, which in this instance had been bungled. <br/> <br/>"In most suicide cases, the standard procedure is to treat it as a homicide until we can determine it's a suicide," said Johnson, noting that homicides are more often disguised to appear as self-inflicted deaths than the reverse. <br/> <br/>She said the case did not reflect on Yore, whom she and department captains selected to lead the Children's Theatre investigation. <br/> <br/>"We had most of the other detectives working on other cases," she said. <br/> <br/>In 1995, Yore, a Palo Alto police officer since 1981, was accused in court of forcing a murder confession by threatening to handcuff suspect Eddy Pereles to a billboard and call a rival gang member, according to the suspect's attorney, public defender Craig Kennedy. <br/>Kennedy said in a police report that Yore had "admitted he discussed billboards and (Pereles' enemy)" with the suspect, according to Bay Area News Group archives. <br/> <br/>Supporters of the Children's Theatre said Wednesday the news weakens Yore's credibility as an investigator. <br/> <br/>"I would question his judgment," said Suzan Stewart, former president of the Friends of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre, which has advocated on behalf of the suspended employees. <br/> <br/>Diane De Seve, the attorney representing theater director Pat Briggs, said Yore has been "a loose cannon" in the theater investigation. <br/> <br/>"I think he's got an agenda," De Seve said. Yore "seems to have no real focus and is just digging and digging," she added. "I have always questioned his judgment on this case." <br/> <br/>Meanwhile, Friends spokesman Rick Saal said he hopes Yore's involvement in the recently settled Galbraith case does not "distract him from a thorough and expeditious resolution of the long-pending Children's Theatre investigation." <br/> <br/>In 2006, Yore earned $138,212, including $10,356 in overtime pay. <br/> <br/> <br/> <br/>E-mail Kristina Peterson at kpeterson@dailynewsgroup.com. <br/>
YIKES

Redwood City, CA

#1 Apr 24, 2008
Unheard of in Palo Alto.
meme

AOL

#2 Apr 25, 2008
how many more cases is there going to be "crooked "
Janet

Redwood City, CA

#3 Apr 29, 2008
Police Chief Lynn Johnson, instead of taking responsibility for her officer's actions, is bashing the PA Daily.

Lynn should be apologizing to the Galbraith family and the community, not scolding the media who are simply doing their jobs.

Shoddy work by her detective and the former medical examiner lead to an innocent man in his 80s being arrested and jailed in the death of his wife.

Mr. Galbraith died with this cloud over his head, never knowing that one day after his death he would be exonerated. The county, after dragging its feet for years, has written a letter apologizing to his family and they've paid them $400,000, which probably won't cover his legal fees.

t's called taking responsibility. Blaming the Daily is a diversionary tactic. Chief Johnson should be ashamed!

P.S.-- This isn't the first case the PAPD has blown while Lynn has been chief. I remember a well-liked preschool teacher who was wrongfully accused of molestation by Lynn and her officers. His life was turned upside down and his reputation was destroyed. He spent three weeks in jail until the D.A. ran some tests and determined he was innocent. I support law enforcement in general, but when serious mistakes are made, the chief should be held to account.
Edwina Pereles

Rocklin, CA

#4 May 5, 2008
It sickens me to know that this investigator still has a job. Eddie Pereles is my cousin and was threatened by this officer in order to admit to a murder. My cousin has spent twelve years of his life in Corcoran for a murder that he is not responsible for. I work in the criminal justice system and am disgusted that someone like detective Yore is out there abusing his authority.I do hope people will see that he is a liar and is only out to make himself look good.I only hope that some day the truth will come out and my cousin will be able to live his life outside of prison walls to be with his family.
Anon

Berkeley, CA

#5 May 5, 2008
This does not surprise me one bit. Lynne Johnson is painting a picture of Mike Yore like he is supercop and a great guy. I happen to have worked under Sgt. Yore and he is the most disrespectful, condescending, badge heavy cop in the whole department. I dont normally bash the PAPD in the forums, but Yore is NOT the nice guy that Johnson makes him to be. He is a bully and completely unprofessional. I still remember comments he made to me when I was a rookie starting out in the department. Needless to say, these things are not fit to be printed on the forum or in any paper. Johnson should just resign instead of blowing smoke up the citizen's a$$es.

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