MORENO VALLEY: Sheriff probe helped free kidnap defendants
By Brian Rokos; The Press-Enterprise
Originally Published on September 6, 2013
by The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA),
When the woman who claimed to have been kidnapped off a Compton street in order to be forced into prostitution in Moreno Valley suddenly recanted her story on Thursday, Sept. 5, we wondered how a case that seemingly fell apart so easily ever got to the point of a preliminary hearing.
Four men and a women had been charged, the accusations including attempted pimping, kidnapping for rape and human trafficking. They faced some serious prison time.
But by Thursday night, they were free.
Did that mean that the investigations of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and district attorney's office were lacking?
Quite the opposite, a defense attorney involved in the case said.
Riverside-based attorney Mark Cantrell, who represented Ibrahim Malik, wrote The Press-Enterprise to say that the criminal justice system in this case worked exactly as intended.
Here is the rest of his email:
"Allegations were made and the sheriff investigated. The detectives did an extremely thorough job. They were not only searching for evidence to convict, but they also looked for evidence to support the defendants' version of the events.
The defendants were treated with dignity and respect by the jail staff and the court.
All the police reports were provided to the defense team in a timely fashion and the preliminary hearing was conducted within the time limits. The defense team was given the opportunity to confront the accuser and that cross examination resulted in her admitting that the charges were false.
It should be noted that an important part of the cross examination was based on evidence uncovered by the sheriff detectives, specifically the cell phone text messages. Neither the DA nor the sheriff department was hiding anything.
As soon as it became apparent that the alleged victim had made false accusations, the Deputy District Attorney asked the Judge to dismiss all the charges in the interest of justice.
All parties worked in an ethical and transparent way to do our best to see that justice was done. The citizens of our community should be proud of their sheriff, District Attorney, and court system.