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Friday, February 25, 2011

How Do You Stack Up?

Live in the UK? This book is now available!

Story #8 takes place in the deserts of Arizona and was written by moi, Camille Kimball. All the stories in here are true, including mine. "Almost Out of Time" is the story of a terrifying night in one guy's life where he proved he could outwit the most cold-blooded and violent of men.
The Mammoth Book of Hard Bastards (Mammoth Books)

If you've read A SUDDEN SHOT, then you will recognize Scottsdale detectives Pete Salazar and Hugh Lockerby in the new story!
A Sudden Shot: The Phoenix Serial Shooter (Berkley  True Crime)

THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF HARD BASTARDS is currently available at any UK bookseller. (Hint: The American edition is coming soon!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Watching a Good Lawyer Work--the Almaleki Trial

The first time Maricopa County prosecutor Laura Reckart came to my attention, she was grilling witnesses in the Serial Shooter Trial of serial killers Dale Hausner and Sam Dieteman. Over the course of more than 6 long months, she won the admiration of everyone in court. Oh, except for Dale, who complained to the judge about her "facial grimaces" he alleged were intended for him.

So, of course, my attention was riveted when I saw that she was also the prosecutor for the Faleh Almaleki "honor killing" trial. I couldn't help myself, I went down to court to watch her work.

A Peoria police detective, Chris Baughey, had been cross-examined by the defense. Baughey had met the plane in Atlanta when defendant Almaleki arrived from London, to which he had fled after driving his jeep into two pedestrians, one of them his own daughter. The defense made a big deal out of the fact that Baughey had presented his badge and, apparently even more ominously, his credentials to Almaleki as he arrived. I'd never heard it sound so sinister that a policeman would be carrying his authorization to do his work. Poor Mr. Almaleki had been so traumatized by this little bit of paper and flash of badge that he apparently made statements he should not be held accountable for we were, it seemed, to infer.

Statements such as that his adult daughter, Noor, was "a little fire" that needed to be "extinguished." Mr. Almaleki, who has been in this country 17 years, spoke to the detectives in English.

When it was prosecutor Reckart's turn to do the re-direct, she sliced right through the smoke cloud:
(aaaaaack! blogging is supposed to be writing chaos, according to Andrew Sullivan of Atlantic Monthly, so I'm just going to keep going here. I wrote down this exchange word for word in court but I can't find the proper notebook in which I wrote! Well, Mr. Sullivan, I'm gonna take your word for it and go from memory.)

She led him through step by step each one of the defense points, moment by moment, in the Atlanta airport, and filleted the center right out of them. Her razor edged questions culminated in, "Was Mr. Almaleki so traumatized that you successfully gained a full and detailed confession from him?" The answer, from a relieved detective, clearly was "no."

Sorry for the loss of notes but, trust me, the exchange between Reckart and Baughey was a thing to behold. The defense's carefully constructed platform of doubt had collapsed, puffs of sawdust in the air and the faint of echo of a buzz saw. That's what I knew I would find when I followed the Serial Shooter prosecutor, Laura Reckart, into court.

(Photo above: Convicted serial killer Dale Hausner listens to Maricopa County Prosecutor Laura Reckart work during his own trial in 2008--same courtroom as the Almaleki trial in 2011)

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Noor Almaleki...the Trial Continues

Noor, who should have been loved and protected by her father

The things you learn sitting in trial....

Accident reconstructionists have figured out at what speed of impact by a 4000 pound vehicle the human body will do certain things. Can't find my notes at the moment but by memory it goes something like this:

At 14 miles an hour, human bones will get a fracture.

Around 20 miles an hour, you get compound fractures.

At certain angles, you get deflected off the vehicle.

At other angles you go up on the windshield.

And at certain angles and speeds you continue on up from the windshield and over the roof of the vehicle.

Reconstructionists have determined the Almaleki jeep was going as much as 28 miles an hour during the incident in which Amal (40) and Noor (20) were hit. Hit first, at an angle, Amal survived. Noor, several feet away from her friend, was hit after Mr. Almaleki took a sharp left turn without decelerating.

Noor died after 13 grueling days of broken bones and smashed organs struggling to repair themselves but ultimately falling to infection.

Was her father at her bedside whispering words of encouragement and delicately squeezing her hand? Serial Shooter victim Paul Patrick, shot by serial killer Sam Dieteman and still suffering multiple complications from those wounds, has been in the hospital this past weekend. That's what we at his bedside have been doing for him and an international crowd of well wishers has been doing from afar via FaceBook. That's the human response in the face of suffering.

But Noor's father, by his own admission and legal defense, at first watched the mayhem surrounding his daughter's crushed body from a nearby Walgreen's parking lot. Then he hot footed it to Mexico and then on to London. He was in a panic, his defense said, but not in so much of a panic that he couldn't analyze and reflect on the American point of view on hit and run. He felt motivated to escape American law, but not motivated to run to his daughter's side.

Mr. Almaleki, as a professional truck driver, had to know a little something about mph and driving safety.

At 14 mph you get your first human bone cracking.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Noor Almaleki...At the Trial

Noor Faleh Almaleki moved with her family to the U.S. from Iraq in  the mid-1990s, a police spokesman said.
Noor Faleh Almaleki moved with her family to the U.S. from Iraq in the mid-1990s, a police spokesman said.

I have been making some trips downtown to sit in on this trial of international interest. I head into court and sit just a few feet away from an Iraqui-American man accused of bringing Iraqui values to Arizona in the form of "honor" killings of women in the family who have spoiled a man's image of how his family should be.

Faleh Almaleki is currently in a Phoenix courtroom on trial for the hit and run death of his beautiful 20 year old daughter, Noor. Noor, his oldest child, had run away from an arranged Iraqui marriage and into the home of her American boyfriend and his welcoming mother. The boyfriend and his mother were also Iraqui-Americans.

One day Noor spotted her father while she was out with her friend and pseudo mother in law. She texted about it. Moments later, her father's car plowed into the two women. Noor died after eleven days of agony. Mr Almaleki fled the scene. Testimony at trial shows he drove a few blocks and watched the mayhem from a Walgreen's parking lot. He did not call 911. He did continue on to Mexico and then to London. Prosecutors say he deliberately killed his daughter because of her refusal to cooperate with the arranged Iraqui marriage and her embracing of a westernized lifestyle, including choosing to live in a home and manner her father disapproved of.

At trial, Mr. Almaleki is flanked by his lead attorney, a woman, and two other members of his defense team, both women.

Sitting a few feet to his left are two more women, the prosecution team. His ultimate nemesis in this proceeding is lead prosecutor, Laura Reckart.

Sitting a row or two behind them all, I can't help but have the repeating thought that Mr. Almaleki's fate is in the hands of women. Women. Women who chose their own destinies, their own romances, their own living arrangements, their own education and their own life paths.

I wonder how that fact sits on his shoulders.

What I do not wonder is that Noor wished to be one of them. A woman who could develop her own talents and choose how to approach life. Perhaps most viscerally, a woman who could choose whose bed she slept in. That's not hard to imagine at all.