Monday, September 21, 2009

Nathan Ybanez Hearing - Tuesday February 24, 2009

Tuesday morning brought no more interruptions from other cases and we picked up promptly where we left off last night with the questioning of Craig Truman. Mike Gallagher was extremely thorough in once again picking apart absolutely everything Mr. Truman did in Nathan’s previous trial. Craig Truman strikes me as your typical, cocky, arrogant, good ole boy lawyer. A man now in his late 50’s I would guesstimate, his best years behind him. During breaks in the proceedings, he could be seen chatting and joking amiably with the prosecutors. From the defense team, he kept his distance, his seeming disdain for them apparent with having been subponeaned and once again coupled with Nathan. I suspect that once he sent Nathan off to life in prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing he never expected to see him again. Now here he was, himself spending more time on the witness stand than Nathan’s whole trial practically took. It was as if he felt the defense had some nerve asking a fellow attorney to come down here, spend several days and be inconvenienced in this way, much less have his methods of conducting law questioned. I couldn’t look at him for long without wanting to spit on him. It was apparent from his demeanor that I didn’t have to wonder how he could sleep at night; with his arrogance and ego for pillows I had no doubt he slept like a baby. We all know someone like him; an individual who feels he should never be questioned, held responsible for, or was culpable for anything. Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s a fine line between human being and sociopath.

The questioning of Craig Truman by Mike Gallagher wrapped up by the morning break. Even though Mr. Gallagher got Mr. Truman to admit to a great many things he didn’t do or coulda woulda shoulda done at Nathan’s previous trial, it was somewhat unclear to me whether or not Mr. Gallagher effectively made his point to the judge that what Mr. Truman did or didn’t do was necessarily unethical. I guess we’ll see.

Cross examination of Mr. Truman by the prosecution began at 10:00 am. Mr. Truman was asked to briefly leave the courtroom while the prosecution raised the question to the judge as to the issue of who was paying the current defense for Nathan’s legal costs and whether or not the defense had adhered to the current rules on ethics regarding having proper written engagement documents between their firm and the individual paying Nathan’s legal feess. The prosecution seemed to be fishing for the name of exactly who was footing the bills. The judge asked the defense, without requiring them to name Rolling Stone or Jann Wenner, as to whether or not these rules had been adhered to. Mr. Gallagher replied, “We absolutely have Your Honor”. :P So there.

The prosecution then continued with their questioning of Mr. Truman and the previous transcripts from the trial. Their intent, of course, was to continue on their quest to show that Nathan had a drug problem, was violent, repeatedly in trouble with the police, and resisted all attempts by his parents to help him.

I have, with good reason, not gone into the minutiae of detail that was gone into during Mr. Truman’s questioning, mostly because I want you to stay awake so you’ll keep reading my blog. The questions covered Mr. Truman’s knowledge of Nathan’s abuse, Nathan’s psychological reports that Mr. Truman never requested nor brought up at the trial, Nathan’s running away, the runaway reports, conflicts of interest, ethics, Mr. Truman’s lack of confronting Roger Ybanez on the stand during the trial because he was being paid by Roger. The prosecution also spent a copious amount of time focusing on the events of the day of Julie Ybanez’s murder.

To his slimebag credit, Mr. Truman did seem to regroup this morning, seemingly intent on “setting the record straight”, even if that record contradicted what he said yesterday. Based on the fact that Mr. Gallagher yesterday drove home the point that Roger Ybanez paid for Nathan’s legal fees during the murder trial when he himself was a prosecution witness, Mr. Truman’s story seemed to change overnight and he now claimed that Nathan’s maternal grandmother was the one who fronted the funds. Once the grandmother found out the exact circumstances of the case and situation, she refused to provide any further financial assistance. This seems to now let the prosecution off the hook of having to prove there was any conflict of interest. We’ll see.

I was also surprised to find that it is and was Mr. Truman’s belief that it was Erik Jensen and Brett Baker who convinced Nathan that he was indeed abused and should kill his mother and participated more in the actual act than they may have actually done. I have never had the privilege of speaking to the Jensens to hear their side of the story concerning Erik.

After lunch the prosecution’s cross examination of Craig Truman resumed. The prosecution seemed to want to go over and over the grisly details of the day of the murder and point to their belief that Nathan planned and plotted this crime between himself and his friends and then carried out the crime with their assistance and support, mainly from Erik Jensen. The prosecution also wanted to hammer home their point that Mr. Truman did not have a conflict of interest with Roger Ybanez, that Nathan’s legal fees were NOT paid by Roger Ybanez, and that Mr. Truman had no allegiance or ties with Roger Ybanez. Yeah. Right. OK. Whatever.

FINALLY, the prosecution rests in their cross examination. The defense asks a few more questions and then he rests as well in his questioning of Craig Truman. The scumbag is free to go and we no longer have to look at him. Buh bye. Your village called, Mr. Truman. They have your rock waiting for you to crawl back under.

Camille Mottl, best friend of Julie Ybanez, is then brought forward as the next witness. It is difficult to tell now which witness is whose. I thought Camille was a witness for the defense, but she testified against Nathan at his previous trial and goes on today to describe Julie as a very good mother who loved her son, wanted what was best for him, and was concerned about the direction his life was taking. She did not meet Roger Ybanez until later, and was aware only of his bluntness and oppressive nature. The prosecution is quick to point out, using Camille as a club, that she NEVER witnessed any abuse or even verbal abuse; at worst Roger Ybanez was controlling and had a short temper, not necessarily the criteria for abuse according to the prosecution. Camille is not long on the witness stand.

We take a 10 minute break before moving on to the next witness, and when I return from the restroom there is a young,tall, blond woman sitting in the front row making silent conversation and eyes at Nathan. Whoa! Talk about acknowledgement and emotion. This is more emotion than I’ve seen in Nathan in 2 whole days of staring at him. I can’t sit down fast enough to lip read the exchange they’re having . She abruptly leaves, but not without a final, sad, and desperate look behind her at Nathan. He does not watch her leave. Hmmm. Wonder who THAT was? I find out later that she had given one of the defense team a picture and requested that it be given to Nathan. The sheriff, however, quashes this request.

Dr. Richard Spiegle, forensic and clinical psychiatrist, then takes the stand for the defense. He covers his background, education, and degrees. He attended both Ohio State University and Bowling Green (all right, an Ohio State alumni, a hometown hero, a fellow Ohioan, rock on, how about dem Buckeyes? ), among others. The man’s education and dedication to his field are staggering. He passes all my standards and then some, he’s good to go in my book. I tune out the rest of the blah blah blah of his practice and experience and wait for more. I don’t have long to wait. The prosecution doesn’t seem to present many pertinent or interesting questions. The defense, however, does.

Dr. Spiegle treated Nathan from 2004-2006. It is his opinion, among many others, that Nathan, being 16 years old at the time of his mother’s murder, his brain was not developed enough to be able to make sufficient decisions or determinations. In addition, it is his opinion that having Roger Ybanez constantly present at Nathan’s trial when Roger was the primary perpetrator in Nathan’s life, as well as paying for Nathan’s defense, was highly damaging to Nathan at his trial.

Dr. Spiegle testifies that a youth’s brain is not sufficiently developed until around the age of 22 or 23. At the age of 16, a child is not able to sufficiently fend off impulsivity. There has been extensive research around children who were subjected to high stress and chaos early on in their lives; these children grow up having problems with their cognitive abilities and a diminished ability to make good judgements and decisions. When asked if Nathan was capable of deliberating to kill his mother, Dr. Spiegle admitted that while Nathan contemplated killing his mother and of killing himself, he did not have the ability to make a plan to kill his mother. Was the act of killing his mother an impulsive act? Yes, Dr. Spiegle replied.

A lot has been made by the prosecution of Nathan’s lack of emotion, of him having a “blunted affect”. Dr. Spiegle testified that this can be due to an individual having Early Life Stress Syndrome, past trauma in his family, and/or a possible chemical imbalance in his brain.

The scars on Nathan’s back that both Dr. Spiegle and another doctor (Dr. Serotnik?) examined were then brought up. The prosecution objected to Dr. Spiegle being able to give an opinion based on another doctor’s opinion who is not present as a witness today. The judge overrules and allows the defense to proceed. Dr. Spiegle testifies that these scars are “specifically inflicted trauma” that was well and long healed, and consistent with abuse.

The prosecution cross examines again. Ms. Rosenthal of the prosecution points out that Dr. Spiegle was present during Craig Truman’s testimony in which Nathan “planned” (the prosecution’s word) to kill his mother earlier on in the day that she was murdered. She then launches a calculated tactical attack of Dr. Spiegle in which she begins asking him rapid-fire questions regarding if Nathan told Dr. Spiegle about all the grisly details of the murder, rehashing every single one of them again. Dr. Spiegle remains calm, saying things like, “I don’t remember, no, he didn’t, it’s in my notes”. Then she springs what I suppose is her version of an ace in the hole. She asks how Dr. Spiegle was first contacted in this case to examine Nathan. Dr. Spiegle replied that he was first approached by Tim Firth, a member of The Pendulum Foundation. What? The Pendulum Foundation you say? Who started The Pendulum Foundation? What? Erik Jensen’s parents you say? How interesting! (She didn’t really say this, but I’m paraphrasing based on the smug look on her face). Ms. Rosenthal wants this established to lay a foundation of prejudice on the part of Dr. Spiegle.

The remainder of the questions asked by the prosecution for the day pertained to whether or not Dr. Spiegle ever reviewed the 2500 pages of documents from the previous trial and murder investigation. Dr. Spiegle replied some, but not all. Having reached the 5 o’clock hour, court is adjourned for the day and Nathan returns to his holding cell without looking at anyone.

Anxious to get this posted, I leave you with your own collective thoughts from the day. Good night.


  1. i hope erik and nathan will find redemption someday

  2. I do hope and pray that the people in power can help these two lads. What a terrible miscarriage of justice. Not only for Eric but Nathan too. Neither should be in prison after all this time.

  3. I am the tall blonde woman who exchanged a few precious moments with Nathan. I think if him everyday, and everyday it still hurts.

  4. As a criminal justice major I do believe some juveniles deserve life without parole, but not a child who commits murder because of years of mental, physical, and sexual abuse. This is where our system fails miserably. We're supposed to protect our children from people like this, instead, we throw them back to the wolves. Murder is a heinous act, but not nearly as heinous as the acts Nat's mother and father placed on him for the last sixteen years of his life. She should've suffered and she didn't and to prove my point, why is his father still walking around? Exactly my point! Maybe locking him up for the rest of his teen years was good, otherwise our failed system would've released him to his father. My other point is Nat should not be in prison at all, his father should since he's still alive, and his friend Eric should've never been put in prison, if anything he was placed in a situation in which he panicked and the only thing he knew to do was help his friend without getting him in trouble. I really hope Colorado releases these boys because they aren't monsters and I personally don't feel they're a threat to society.