Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Morning Call "Welcome Mat" Should Extend to Drunk Driving Victim

Imagine this.

Imagine, for a moment, that you're the father of a precious little girl. Imagine watching her as she grows up, saying her first words, playing with dolls and complaining about bed time. Every now and then she'll crack you up with something goofy. My daughter once actually shaped dirty underwear like a tiara, put it on her head and marched around the house, claiming she was the pope!

"You can't send me to bed. I'm the pope!"

Imagine that one day, this little girl becomes a woman. A dance instructor who touches the lives of others, but who still remains close to her dad until her 25th birthday. Suddenly, her life is snuffed out, killed by a drunk driver.

Imagine learning, long after your daughter's death, that she herself had just become pregnant with a grandchild you'll never know.

Imagine that the drunk driver, the spoiled son of a prominent attorney, refuses the decency of an apology. Worse still, imagine him actually give you the finger as you drive by him on the way home. Imagine him taking a vacation, in Europe, while awaiting sentencing.

This is some of the tragedy that has touched Bill Villa.

Before his daughter's death, Bill and his wife, Angie, had a rather popular band called The Villas, whose music was performed on Dawson's Creek. In fact, his band was actually signed by Blue Buddha Entertainment with this endorsement. “This husband and wife power pop team gets everything right: the hooks are rich, the musicianship sharp, and the lyrics are literate but never pretentious." Sadly, that music is now silent.

Like many parents of children killed by drunk drivers, Bill is angry and bitter. He feels a need to do something and has paid close attention to other drunk driving deaths in Lehigh County. I'll be the first to agree that, at times, Bill lashes out at newspaper people and prosecutors.

Can you really blame him?

Since last fall, he has sent The Morning Call forty requests for a brief meeting with its managing editor. I know. I received copies of every one of them. A similar request to the Express Times was answered immediately, and Villa was granted a ninety minute meeting with its managing editor. But still no answer from Allentown. Why not?

Is he bitter? Yes. He's also a fatrher grieving over his daughter. The Morning Call's managing editor should meet Villa, at least once, unless its editorial policy has changed with its ownership.

"[T]he board intends to be as open with readers as possible. It meets regularly -- a few times every week -- with people and groups about topics of public interest. The Lehigh Valley area is blessed to have public-spirited citizens who recognize that the newspaper is a corporate citizen that strives to be engaged in the debate on such issues, and that tries to offer leadership. The welcome mat always is out for those who want to be heard."

Where's Villa's welcome mat?
Clarification: In fairness to The Morning Call, I need to point out that Mr. Villa did meet with the comments editor for about 45 minutes on July 18, 2007. It isn’t accurate to say “The Morning Call” refused to meet with him. Mr. Villa has been seeking an audience with the managing editor, and I'm told that the principles that apply to the editorial board may be inapplicable to the managing editor.

88 comments:

michael molovinsky said...

considering the msm reluctance to address mr. villa's grievances, we are lucky the blogosphere now exists as a potential counterbalance. casey and the lvpoliblog have also advocated for mr. villa.

Bill Villa said...

To: Morning Call Managing Editor David Erdman

From: Bill Villa

Re: Meeting Request # 41

Mr. Erdman, would you have some time to meet with me today, late afternoon? Or another day this week? Or next week? Or the week after that? I'm flexible.

I'd like to discuss my "excellent questions that deserve to be answered" (Morning Call Investigations Editor Tim Darragh's words) regarding a recent DUI homicide case that fell apart the night before trial to the amazingly good fortune benefit of the homicidal drunk driver criminal defendant-- i.e., he'll serve 18 months in county jail instead of the 3 to 6 years in a state penitentiary that is our state's mandatory minimum sentence for the crime he committed. And this was one, terrific, sticks out like a sore thumb 11th hour deal when considering that this particular criminal defendant had scored a 2nd DUI after committing vehicular homicide while DUI.

Although you've told me in an e-mail dated 1/15/08 that The Morning Call has thoroughly investigated my "excellent questions that deserve to be answered," I know this isn't true, because I know The Morning Call did not interview one of the major players in this behind the scenes investigation-- a local political blogger who interviewed the judge in this case.

As you know, what this judge told the political blogger had happened with DA Jim Martin's case the night before trial was a totally different story from what DA Jim Martin's office told the victim's family had happened to their case.

So it looks like DA Jim Martin's office may have lied to the judge, lied to the victim's family, and lied about Lehigh Valley Hospital's blood evidence, the night before trial.

Mr. Erdman, since the "excellent questions" you've allegedly "investigated thoroughly" were my excellent questions, I'd like to know the answers you've received from the relevant parties that you're so thoroughly satisfied with.

And while I understand (via an e-mail from Tribune NYC attorney Kay Murray) that The Morning Call is under no obligation to tell me anything, I ask that you do tell me what you know ... and I ask this as a grieving father who has valid reasons to believe that DA Jim Martin prosecuted the homicidal drunk driver who killed my daughter Sheena equally as unenthusiastically as he prosecuted this more recent DUI homicide defendant.

You see, I believe there's a demonstrable pattern here.

As I've stated to you in my previous polite requests for a meeting with you, if I'm wrong about DA Jim Martin having "fixed" this recent DUI homicide case that's unrelated to my daughter's case (except in its parallel ease of outcome for both criminal defendants), please help me to see where I'm wrong and I swear on my daughter Sheena's ashes that I'll apologize to you and your Morning Call colleagues for my persistence and I'll never ask you for a meeting on this topic again.

Thank you as always for your consideration.

Best Regards,

Sheena's Dad, Bill Villa

Chris Casey said...

There is a reluctance on the part of management at the Morning Call to investigate anything that might shine poorly on the office of District attorney Jim Martin.
I've talked to the folks in charge, and they have been cordial and polite in their dealings with me. I understand their reluctance to speak with Bill, but we all have to do things in life that we are afraid to do, because we can't, or don't want to, stomach them. The Villas deserve to be heard, and their issues addressed.
It's always easy to jump in a fight that you know you are going to win, a true test of character is a willingness to take up a fight in which the outcome is uncertain, but of which the principles are sound.
I believe the reason the Call hasn't questioned Jim Martin thoroughly is that they don't wish to endanger their working relationship. That's only my opinion as an interested observer, but if it holds to be true, then it would be a betrayal of the public community the Call professes to serve in its' role as the "Fourth estate."

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that The Morning Call would not be so afraid to meet with Bill Villa is they were not afraid of the 'repercusiions' from a certain DA

Anonymous said...

There are serious implications here - and one would think that this would be worthy of the Call's attention.

What has the Express-Times done in response to the meeting? Have they written anything on the subject or has there been any further investigation on their part?

Has anyone tried to contact the PA Attorney General's office? I understand the help that pressure from the press can play, but even without the press it might be worth a call.

Bill Villa said...

"There is a reluctance on the part of management at the Morning Call to investigate anything that might shine poorly on the office of District attorney Jim Martin." -Chris Casey

Well said, Chris. This hits the nail squarely on the head.

itzmedave1 said...

It is rediculous that this is even an issue. The Morning Call is hiding from the truth and fearful due to political/legal connections.

If there is nothing to hide and nothing that is questionable then where is the problem?

The treatment of Bill Villa and the blantant disregard of his excellent questions tells me something stinks in the upper ranks. This kind of thing cannot continue to be ignored or tolerated.

I believe Bill should be granted his time to have his questions answered and to ease his mind as well as those of LV citizens in general.

I have known Bill and his family for about 8 years now. He would not pursue these questions if they were not in fact valid and in need of answering. The loss of his daughter is something none of us can begin to imagine. I applaud him for his persistance and vigilance in regard to these questions.

Don't quit Bill! We ARE with you!

Bill Villa said...

"What has the Express-Times done in response to the meeting? Have they written anything on the subject or has there been any further investigation on their part?" -Anon 8:33am

Great question.

My read is that The Express-Times is avoiding the story.

Ditto The Philadelphia Inquirer, NBC-TV Philadelphia, CBS-TV Philadelphia, Harrisburg Patriot-News, Channel 69 News, WAEB-AM, The Pocono Record, and the 50+ other mainstream media I've contacted.

Too busy with Britney, I guess ...

Anonymous said...

Bill -

Thanks for filling me in.

I can't imagine what you have gone through but I hope that somehow this story catches fire and you are able to receive justice.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Villa - What a heart wrenching story. I'm so sorry for you.

What exactly IS the story you are pursuing? I'm not clear from your recap. What was changed the night before the trial?

Bill Villa said...

"What exactly IS the story you are pursuing? I'm not clear from your recap. What was changed the night before the trial?" -Anon 10:47am

The night before trial, DA Jim Martin's office told the judge that they, the prosecution, were withdrawing (dropping) 9 of the 14 charges against the homicidal drunk driver defendant, including the major charge that carries a state mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 to 6 years.

DA Jim Martin's office told the judge that the DUI homicide victim's family was in agreement with this plea deal. This was a lie. The victim's family had been opposed to this plea deal for 5 months.

Same night before trial, DA Jim Martin's office told the victim's family a totally different lie-- Martin's office told the victim's family that the judge had "tossed" the major charge because Lehigh Valley Hospital's blood evidence could not be used reliably. This was a lie too.

Here's something that's true:

DA Jim Martin and the criminal defendant's grandfather have been close friends for many years. So close, this man was invited to attend, and did attend, DA Jim Martin's top secret swearing-in ceremony (Martin was handed a second, unopposed, 4-year term as DA in November 2007) first week of January 2008-- an event the DA's secretary Marilee hung up on me over when I called to inquire about its date, time, and whereabouts. I guess they didn't want me there.

Why am I (still) fighting this fight?

To spare future grieving family members the needlessly cruel added agony of seeing DA Jim Martin, our county's alleged top law enforcement officer, siding against their deceased loved one and in favor of the criminal defendant who killed him or her.

Unless he is stopped, DA Jim Martin will continue to fix DUI homicide cases for pals.

He must be stopped.

Ditto any institution that is enabling him.

Thank you in advance to anyone willing to join me in this fight which we will win.

Anonymous said...

I strongly believe the Morning Call should grant Mr. Villa a meeting, at the very least. I would hope that the paper would have the decency, fair-mindedness and ethical/moral backbone to investigate the issues brought to light in the case of Sheena Villa, because of the gravity of the situation and because of the potentially far reaching and serious implications for public safety if the issues are subtantiated are then ignored. It struck me how the Morning Call printed a story that didn't necessarily reflect positively on the State's Attorney in the case of the Lehigh Valley College and how the students got "shafted," yet the paper appears to avoid question ing or reporting openly and fairly on what happens in our own county DA's office. It's curious... What happened to the search for the truth and the paper's duty to serve as a public advocate and "watchdog" for the public's safety and best interest, not necessarily the best interest of the staff of the paper or the DA's office. Unfortunately, I don't think the DA's office will ever discuss (let alone admit to) any allegations of potential mishandling of the Sheena Villa or other DUI homocide cases. And from the sound of things, unfortunately, it seems unlikely that the Morning Call will step up and give a fair airing of the issues either. I hope I am wrong. Our community is in worse shape than I thought if this is so. I sure would like to know how the Morning Call decides which issues to investigate and pursue and which ones it passes over. I challenge the Morning Call to investigate and report on the story fairly.

Bill Villa said...

Re: "the case of Sheena Villa"

DA Jim Martin has "wiggle room" in his lackluster and disinterested prosecution of the homicidal drunk driver who killed my daughter Sheena ... and this is a totally separate issue that we can hopefully address down the road. I believe DA Jim Martin could and should have charged Sheena's killer with third degree murder and I have numerous valid reasons for believing this. But again, it's a separate issue.

Thing is: DA Jim Martin has Zero (0) wiggle room in this more recent DUI homicide case I'm talking about here today and have been trying to meet with The Morning Call on since September 2007.

Martin fixed this case the night before trial in full view of the public and the local media. And it's real easy to prove.

Anonymous said...

Question. Are DUI drivers who kill passengers of their own vehicles against the same charges as someone who kills passengers of another vehicle? In other words, was there some sort of lesser charges in this case since the victim was a willing passenger?

No offense to the father intended.

Bill Villa said...

"Has anyone tried to contact the PA Attorney General's office?"

Yes, several of us have, but The committee to Elect Jim Martin is a major campaign contributor to PA State Attorney General Tom Corbett ... so, AG Corbett has yet to answer any of our many phone calls and letters.

I've also contacted the Office of the U.S. Attorney, Eastern District, Patrick Meehan. Meehan. Martin. Corbett. Meehan. Martin. Corbett. Hey. Guys. I'm HALF-Irish. How about returning half of my phone calls ...

Bill Villa said...

"Question. Are DUI drivers who kill passengers of their own vehicles (up) against the same charges as someone who kills passengers of another vehicle?"

Yes.

"In other words, was there some sort of lesser charges in this case since the victim was a willing passenger?"

No.

Friend of Sheena said...

Bernie,

I believe the privileged lawyer's son who killed Sheena Villa vacationed in the tropical paradise of Belize, Central America, not Europe,
while out on bail for DUI homicide.
He never lost his driving privileges either, because there is no law that requires loss of license, even though he killed someone while intoxicated and is a danger to society.

hollis48 said...

To The Morning Call
The Morning Call editorial staff owes it to Mr Villa, to at least sit down with him, and hear him out, if not try to get some questions answered. Show him the courtesy you would show any other long-term reader, and not shun him because the subject may be uncomfortable to you, at best, or touch closer to home than most of us realize, at worst. Think how uncomfortable it will be for Mr Villa to ask questions about his only daughter's death, and the circumstances surrounding it, not to mention the prosecution of the drunk driver responsible. All Mr Villa is asking for, is his day in your newspapper's court, so to speak. I'm sure you would like to think that your papper does some good in the community. At least let Mr Villa voice his questions, and state his opinions, and possibly get some closure, knowing he has done all he could to honor Sheena's memory, and see that justice has been served. In this country, we don't all have to agree, but we do all have the right to have our opinions heard, and questions answered. If Mr Villa is not satisfied with the answers, so be it. At least hear him out. Thank you
Mark Hollis

Bill Villa said...

"I hope that somehow this story catches fire and you are able to receive justice." -Anon 10:40am

It's really all of Lehigh County that's being screwed out of justice when our DA fixes a case the night before trial in favor of the criminal defendant and his family, while screwing the victim's family.

And your family could be next.

Jim Martin's gotta go.

I believe he should be recalled by the voters, removed from office, and disbarred.

DA's are not supposed to advocate for and take the side of the criminal.

Bill Villa said...

"In fairness to The Morning Call, I need to point out that Mr. Villa did meet with the comments editor for about 45 minutes on July 18, 2007." -Bernie

Bernie, with all due respect, and in fairness to me, this July 2007 meeting with Glenn Kranzley preceded, by 2 months, the DUI homicide case that "fell apart the night before trial" that I'm writing about today.

And, incredible as this may sound, Mr. Kranzley agreed to the July 2007 meeting with me only after I assured him that I would not initiate any discussion of my daughter Sheena's case which Mr. Kranzley made very clear he did not want to discuss.

The agenda of our July 2007 meeting included DA Jim Martin's scrutiny- and question-worthy handling of other cases, including the Marge Szulborski embezzlement case, the Bankos brothers vehicular homicide case, the Charles Cullen "Angel of Death" nurse case, and the APD Officer Michael Kenderski case.

thomas said...

I, along with many many others will eternally do our part for justice. Corruption has no place in any courtroom or any newspaper. I truly hope that those in charge of this ignorance cannot go on living with themselves...

Bill Villa said...

Bernie, again, in fairness to me, I need to point out that Glenn Kranzley refused my request to write an Op-Ed piece that would have taken Morning Call readers down the heartbreaking path of "justice" in Lehigh County under DA Jim Martin from the perspective of a DUI homicide victim family member.

Additionally, at last November's election time, Mr. Kranzley refused to publish a very reasonable Letter to the Editor I submitted expressing disappointment that Lehigh County Democrats, for a second time, had failed to present a candidate to run against DA Jim Martin. In fact, there were no letters, and no editorials, addressing this legitimate issue.

And as I've mentioned on your blog before, per an e-mail from Tribune NYC attorney Kay Murray, I am prohibited from entering The Morning Call's building without an appointment (the appointment Managing Editor Dave Erdman won't give me) and I will be "escorted off the property" if I try to enter.

My Fellow Citizens: this is what The Morning Call does to you when you raise "excellent questions that deserve to be answered."

FYI, I'll keep doing it.

Bill Villa said...

Re: "an Op-Ed piece that would have taken Morning Call readers down the heartbreaking path of "justice" in Lehigh County under DA Jim Martin ..."

Sample Paragraphs:

In August 2006, after numerous requests, DA Jim Martin finally agreed to meet with me. My agenda for the meeting was to scope Martin out regarding where he stood on the punishment continuum for the totally remorseless homicidal drunk driver who killed my daughter Sheena by slamming into a tree at a speed determined by the police's crash reconstruction to have been a minimum speed of 85 miles per hour on a 35mph residential neighborhood street.

DA Martin opened the meeting by saying, "Mr. Villa, I must tell you, I've received letters of support for the young man and quite frankly I'm impressed by these letters."

Several minutes later as I was stating my request and legal rationale for a charge of third degree murder, DA Martin, obviously annoyed, abruptly interrupted me to ask, "Mr. Villa, how would you feel if you were this boy's father?"

Glenn Kranzley saw no story here ...

Anonymous said...

Why not just contact a reporter? I know of at least one hot local story that was started in that way? Why a face to face with an editor?

the observer said...

jesus christ! enough crying already !give it up. it is a non -story. how can all the media outlets come to the same conclusion? all your whinning and bitchin aint bringing your daughter back! move on . you risk becomming a pest. a pyriah.

Anonymous said...

Seems Martin was viewing this case as friends partying and then driving recklessly. Would he see it differently if the girl was in a car driving the opposite direction? Don't know all the circumstances. Is it still homicide if all three were together and under the influence? Why did they get in the car with the person with a .24 BAL?

Bill Villa said...

Re: my Meeting with DA Jim Martin that would have made such a swell Op-Ed piece, continued:

When I told DA Jim Martin that I knew the crash speed (the arresting officer told me) involved in my daughter Sheena's death, Martin got all red, pointed his finger at me and bellowed, "I'll come after you! I'll come after you in the media!"

Glenn Kranzley saw no story here ...

Bill Villa said...

"jesus christ! enough crying already !give it up. it is a non -story. how can all the media outlets come to the same conclusion? all your whinning and bitchin aint bringing your daughter back! move on . you risk becomming a pest. a pyriah."

Observer: I could not care less what you and like-minded people think of me and it's spelled pariah.

Anonymous said...

18 months doesnt seem like a fair punishment. Is it possible to also have some kind of wrongful death lawsuit against him?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Observer,

This post is specifically about Bill Villa and what happened to him and his daughter. He has the right to post as many comments as he feels are necessary on this blog story.

You are under no obligation to read ther post or the comments that follow.

Your insensitivity is appalling and I hope you never find yourself in a similar sitation.

Bill Villa said...

"Why did they get in the car with the person with a .24 BAL?"

Professional drinkers have lots of experience concealing their level of drunkenness from most people.Tavern owners and bartenders, however, are supposed to be trained to spot it and cut them off.

Bill Villa said...

"Bill Villa ... has the right to post as many comments as he feels are necessary on this blog story." -Bernie

Thanks, Bernie. I am getting sorta off topic though in that we need to stick to the case where DA Jim Martin has been caught like a deer in the headlights fixing a case ... and that is this more recent DUI homicide case that The Morning Call refuses to meet with me on.

How easy is it to prove that DA Jim Martin fixed it for the criminal defendant the night before trial?

Easy as 1, 2, 3 ...

1. Ask the victim's family what DA Jim Martin's office told them the night before trial about why the major charge against their son's killer was suddenly "gone."

[Note: the victim's family, outraged at the 11th hour major charge dump, actually posted what they were told by the DA at The Morning Call forum; this is where I spotted it and contacted the family; it has since been scrubbed clean and removed from The Morning Call's website and archives]

2. Ask the local blogger who interviewed the judge in this case what the judge told him about how the case was really "resolved."

[Note: it's a 180 degree lie from the lie the DA told the victim's family]

3. Ask Lehigh Valley Hospital if the defendant's blood evidence could have been used in court.

[Note: LVH's blood evidence was fine, despite the DA's lie to the victim's family that it wasn't reliably usable in court. It was.]

I've given The Morning Call and The Express-Times the three phone numbers they need to call to crack this case wide open.

In the meantime, I'm banned from entering The Morning Call.

Anonymous said...

My brother was killed four years ago by a well connected doctor. The cipher who killed him received two years probation and a $150 fine - only after the piece of shit agreed to change his plea from no contest to guilty. My family was never consulted. My mom hasn't been the same since.

God bless you, Bill. I believe I somewhat understand the depth of your sadness and frustration. The MC and Martin are incapable of shame.

Bill Villa said...

"Why not just contact a reporter? I know of at least one hot local story that was started in that way? Why a face to face with an editor?" -Anon 4:59pm

Normally, this should be a great idea (remember Bob Woodward! Carl Bernstein!) but the reality is here are the reporters I've politely contacted at just The Morning Call who I've never gotten even the courtesy of an "I got your e-mail" acknowledgment let alone any interest in investigative reporting involving DA Jim Martin and this most recent DUI homicide case fix ...

Paul Carpenter
Kevin Amerman
Matt Birkbeck
Manny Gamiz
Debbie Garlicki
Paul Muschick
Ann Wlazelek
Bill White
John Micek
Joe McDonald
Scott Kraus
Christina Gostomski
Josh Drobnyk
Sam Kennedy

I did have three lengthy phone conversations with Morning Call Investigations Editor Tim Darragh who told me the questions I was raising (see: "Easy as 1,2,3") were "excellent questions that deserve to be answered."

Tim Darragh told me he'd take my questions to his bosses, editor Mike Miorelli, and the big boss, managing editor Dave Erdman.

And this is where my "excellent questions that deserve to be answered" appear to have been killed.

At Dave Erdman's desk.

So I want a meeting with Dave Erdman.

Bill Villa said...

"My brother was killed four years ago by a well connected doctor. The cipher who killed him received two years probation and a $150 fine - only after the piece of shit agreed to change his plea from no contest to guilty. My family was never consulted. My mom hasn't been the same since. God bless you, Bill. I believe I somewhat understand the depth of your sadness and frustration. The MC and Martin are incapable of shame."

Anon 6:40 pm, thank you, I am honored to be fighting for people like you.

haystacks calhoun said...

I nor none of my children would ever get in the car with a "homicidal drunk driver". We were raised better than that.25 years of age is old enough to have known right from wrong....or was she drunk too that night.Being pregnant and drinking aren't such a good combination.

I guess it is all The Morning Call's fault. It is always somebody elses fault.

Bill Villa said...

My 1st Question for Dave Erdman when he eventually agrees to meet with me:

Dave, in your September 26, 2007 edition, reporter Debbie Garlicki quotes the victim's father as saying the family "had agreed earlier this year to prosecutors dropping the [major] charge of homicide by vehicle while driving drunk." 

Dave. There's a huge problem here.

You see, the victim's father told me that the family had agreed for all of about 45 minutes in April 2007 to the DA dropping this major charge ...

until they learned from DA Jim Martin's office, at the same meeting, about a 2nd DUI the criminal defendant had received after killing their son while driving drunk.

Flabbergasted, the family immediately changed their minds about dropping the major charge.

And the DA's office was obviously on board with this. Hence the scheduled trial.  

Knowing that the victim's family had rejected dropping the major charge in April 2007, it would have been purposefully deceitful for the DA's office to state, or allude, to the Morning Call, in September 2007, or really anytime after April 2007, that "the family had agreed earlier this year to prosecutors dropping the major charge of homicide by vehicle while driving drunk." 

Remember, the family agreed ... for all of about 45 minutes ... before deciding against it ... a position they then maintained for the next 5 months.

So ... Dave ... how did false information get published in The Morning Call as fact with no retraction or clarification anywhere in sight? 

Remember, in covering the defendant's September 25, 2007 guilty plea hearing, The Morning Call reported:

the family "had agreed earlier this year to prosecutors dropping the [major] charge of homicide by vehicle while driving drunk." 

When I questioned Tribune NYC attorney Kay Murray about this, Kay said, "but that was TRUE. They HAD AGREED."

Yeah.

For 45 minutes.

Nice integrity, Kay.

So Dave ... was Debbie Garlicki's reporting just "sloppy?"

Or ... was it cleverly selective to facilitate DA Jim Martin's agenda to drop the major charge against the criminal defendant, the night before what had been scheduled as the trial's starting day, and directly against the wishes of the victim's family?

Dave?

 

 

Bill Villa said...

Haystacks Calhoun, please give me your real name and address, I'd appreciate having an in-person meeting with you too ...

Anonymous said...

Bill,
Sadly you will wait a long time. The MSM here(Morning Call & Easton Express) pick and choose their heroes and goats. They always have and I doubt anything short of an agressive publisher or a Philly or NY based paper here will change it. These guys are interwoven into the commuity. They sponser events all over the place like Musikfest and other events with partners as co-sponsers. That is why you will never read a very factual account of Musickfest or some other venues.
As for Community leaders both papers have routinely protected and attacked individuals based on purely subjective criteria.
I wish you had a chance to meet them but if they stick to their usual MO you will never have a meanigful discussion with any of them. I would try to convine a Philly paper or station to run with your info.

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

Jim martin can not continue to ignore certain crimes, because he has friends who ignore his.Freinds do not let friends drive drunk. We will be watching.

Bill Villa said...

"I wish you had a chance to meet them but if they stick to their usual MO you will never have a meanigful discussion with any of them."

Thank you for your astute thoughts, anon 9:59pm. While I can't predict the outcome here, I can certainly work my plan, and my plan is to chase these colluding crony bastards to the gates of hell.

FYI, I've also gotten ("back channel") some terrific and supportive input regarding legal action I didn't know I had as an option.

There are some wonderful, caring, and sharp people out there regularly reading Bernie's wonderful, caring, and sharp blog.

Bill Villa said...

"Jim martin can not continue to ignore certain crimes, because he has friends who ignore his.Freinds do not let friends drive drunk. We will be watching."

Watchful surveillance on DA Jim Martin and The Morning Call by as many concerned citizens as possible will help a lot. And I'm not talking stalking. I'm talking vigilance and 'calling them' on any, and every, questionable move and purposeful omission ...

Bill Villa said...

"18 months doesnt seem like a fair punishment. Is it possible to also have some kind of wrongful death lawsuit against him?"

I don't know if the victim family in this recent DUI homicide case has the strength or the will to fight.

Sheena's killer got 5.5 to 12 years.

But we had to fight, hard, for it.

And there were hundreds of us fighting.

And writing.

Had we not fought, I'm convinced DA Jim Martin would have arranged a weekend in jail and some house arrest. In fact, Sheena's killer had been telling his friends that this is what his lawyer father was arranging ...

Bill Villa said...

In Pennsylvania, recipients of a third degree murder charge and conviction for a DUI-related death are typically sentenced to serve a state prison term in the range of 12.5 to 25 years.

Anonymous said...

This is horrible. All the best to you, Mr. Villa, and my profound sympathies. I hope you get the meetings you deserve.

Bill Villa said...

"I believe the privileged lawyer's son who killed Sheena Villa vacationed in the tropical paradise of Belize, Central America, not Europe, while out on bail for DUI homicide." -Friend of Sheena

Regarding this AWOL Belize vacation, it should be noted that The Morning Call isn’t the only unopposed monopoly empire that won’t meet with me or answer my excellent questions.

DA Jim Martin also refuses to meet with me or answer the four (4) very simple questions I’ve been asking him for over a year.

One of my 4 questions involves this breezy Belize vacation Sheena’s killer was somehow allowed to leave the United States to enjoy while out on bail for killing her—

a consideration I doubt 'Joe Blow' homicide defendant would get but then again Sheena’s killer had grown accustomed to a lifetime of getting anything and everything he wanted whenever he wanted it.

No way merely killing someone was gonna cancel vacation plans. Let's party.

Here’s my Belize question and please feel free to have someone type your answer for you, DA Martin ...

... and again, Glenn Kranzley, Dave Erdman, and The Morning Call saw no story here, either …

DA Martin:

in August 2006, while out on unsecured bail for killing my daughter Sheena, the homicidal drunk-driver defendant left the United States and enjoyed an unauthorized, 10-day vacation in Belize, Central America.

As you know, it was I who discovered the criminal defendant was AWOL and his whereabouts-- via an anonymous tip from an outraged member of the defendant's inner circle ...

I then reported it to Pre-trial Services (the office allegedly supervising him) and your office.

Pre-trial Services, and you, personally, via phone inquires by Morning Call reporter Manny Gamiz, both lied and claimed having no knowledge of the defendant’s unauthorized absence or his whereabouts.

The truth is that Sheena’s killer was indeed in Belize, Central America.

And for Sheena's family, the waiting to find out if our daughter's killer was coming back ...

or was a fugitive from justice ...

was an especially excruciating time.

When the tanned defendant showed up for his 9/2/06 arraignment, the judge ordered him to hand over his passport.

The judge also mandated that the defendant receive written authorization from Pre-trial Services for even a day trip out of Pennsylvania or risk bail revocation and incarceration in Lehigh County Prison.

As the judge’s swift and stern punishment indicates, obviously, there was something 'wrong' about this prominent local attorney’s son having been able to go on vacation outside of the United States while out on bail for killing Sheena Villa.

Mr. Martin, my reasonable question is:

How was this homicide defendant’s unauthorized vacation allowed to happen?

Pre-trial Services suggested I ask (then District Justice) and (now) judge Michele Varricchio and so I did, but she never responded to any of my many polite e-mails.

Mr. Martin, since you are the county's Top Law Enforcement Officer (you “trump the Mayor” and you “trump the Police Chief,” in your own words), I'm asking you:

How was this homicide defedant’s unauthorized vacation to Belize Central America allowed to happen?

Bill Villa said...

"This is horrible. All the best to you, Mr. Villa, and my profound sympathies. I hope you get the meetings you deserve."

Thank you, anon 9:06am. Favor ...

please consider calling or e-mailing Morning Call Managing Editor Dave Erdman and demanding that he meet with me.

Erdman's phone number and e-mail address are readily available at The Morning Call's website and right here ...

Tel: 610.820.6524

E-mail: David.Erdman@mcall.com

Bill Villa said...

"There are serious implications here - and one would think that this would be worthy of the Call's attention." -Anon 8:33am

Yes, one would think ...

Bill Villa said...

"The Morning Call is hiding from the truth and fearful due to political/legal connections." -itzmedave1

... it sure does look that way, doesn't it ...

Bill Villa said...

"I believe the reason the Call hasn't questioned Jim Martin thoroughly is that they don't wish to endanger their working relationship." -Chris Casey

Could be ... I imagine it's much easier just taking dictation from DA Jim Martin on a crime story versus having to actually investigate it ...

Bill Villa said...

"What happened to the search for the truth and the paper's duty to serve as a public advocate and "watchdog" for the public's safety and best interest, not necessarily the best interest of the staff of the paper or the DA's office." Anon 11:24am

... now here's an "excellent question that deserves to be answered" if I ever saw one.

Mr. Erdman? Mr. Kranzley? Care to answer it?

Bill Villa said...

"The Morning Call editorial staff owes it to Mr Villa, to at least sit down with him, and hear him out ..." -Hollis48

I agree. So what's the word, Morning Call ... my place or yours (after you lift the building ban on me) ...

Bill Villa said...

"Corruption has no place in any courtroom or any newspaper." -Thomas

... and this includes newspapers run by law firms.

Bill Villa said...
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Bill Villa said...

I believe this bears repeating ...

Mr. Erdman:

As I've stated to you in my previous polite requests for a meeting with you, if I'm wrong about DA Jim Martin having "fixed" this recent DUI homicide case that's unrelated to my daughter's case (except in its parallel ease of outcome for both criminal defendants), please help me to see where I'm wrong and I swear on my daughter Sheena's ashes that I'll apologize to you and your Morning Call colleagues for my persistence and I'll never ask you for a meeting on this topic again.

Thank you as always for your consideration.

Best Regards,

Sheena's Dad,
Bill Villa

Bill Villa said...

"It's always easy to jump in a fight that you know you are going to win, a true test of character is a willingness to take up a fight in which the outcome is uncertain, but of which the principles are sound." -Chris Casey

Thanks, Chris. And thanks to the many people still in my corner. I'll never stop fighting.

And speaking of character, I believe I learned a lot about DA Jim Martin's character in the hour and a half meeting I had with him on August 15, 2006.

I learned, up close and personal, that DA Martin, our county's top law enforcement officer, did not care about what was done to my daughter Sheena on her 25th birthday-- his empathy was clearly with the criminal defendant and his family. Martin didn't even bother trying to conceal his support for Sheena's killer, in fact, he opened our meeting by waving his support like a red cape in my face-- that's how arrogant, and sure of being protected, he is.

And surely, The Morning Call has been protecting DA Jim Martin for many years.

Go through The Morning Call archives as I have and if you can find anything even remotely questioning or critical of DA Jim Martin, I'll give you $100.00.

What you will find in The Morning Call's coverage (or lack thereof) of DA Jim Martin is instance after instance of either “preemptive protection,” as this November 30, 2000 Morning Call headline almost humorously (and transparently) telegraphs …

HOUSE ARREST ISN'T UNUSUAL FOR HIT-RUN. FULMER IS GETTING COMMON PENALTY FOR FIRST OFFENSE IN APRIL 4 INCIDENT.

… or “omission protection,” that is, not asking questions the DA maybe does not want asked.

For instance …

Q. Were alcohol and/or drugs ruled out as a factor in the car crash death of Whitehall High School senior Patrick Sinatore in 2003?

And the reason I ask is that, unfortunately, as we all know, alcohol and/or drugs are oftentimes very much involved in car crashes that kill young people.

But as I was re-reading the 5 main articles in The Morning Call's archives on this case, about twin brothers and fellow Whitehall High School seniors Zachary Bankos and Gregory Bankos and their alleged racing on MacArthur Road that resulted in a car crash and Patrick Sinatore's death ...

* 9/23/03 by Joe McDonald
* 11/6/03 by Romy Varghese
* 3/27/04 by Debbie Garlicki
* 4/2/04 by Debbie Garlicki
* 4/3/04 by Debbie Garlicki

... the question of whether alcohol and/or drugs were involved in the crash, like an elephant in the room, is just begging to be asked and answered, but curiously, is never addressed.

Think about this for a second and you tell me …

What would have been every Morning Call reader’s #1 question when reading about this case?

Wouldn’t it have been: “any alcohol or drugs involved here?”

And yet, The Morning Call never asked this question.

And they refuse to tell me why not.

Q. Were alcohol and/or drugs involved, or ruled out, as a factor in the car crash death of Patrick Sinatore?

I guess we’ll never know.

And my guess is that DA Jim Martin and The Morning Call will make sure we never know.

Mainstream Media: there’s a Britney Spears story coming across the AP wire, better go grab that …

my name is Pat Wallace said...

this whole thing has transcended into the realm of the bizarre. 40 ungranted requests with a grieving father for some face time? what are these guys so busy with? c'mon morning call, where's the justice?
where's the journalism? you do realize someone died here, right?

Bill Villa said...

The way I see it, there are only two possible reasons why Morning Call Managing Editor Dave Erdman won't meet with me about my proof that I've caught DA Jim Martin fixing a recent DUI homicide case in favor of the criminal defendant and his family the night before trial ... and The Morning Call proactively facilitating this fix in its "reporting" ...

* He knows I'm wrong-- but instead of helping a grieving father see where I'm wrong (which would help me find some closure and peace), Dave Erdman would rather withhold information and watch me continue to be tortured and twisting in the wind.

* He knows I'm right-- and if the story of a corrupt, case-fixing DA and a cooperatively colluding newspaper gets out, they're all ruined.

Bill Villa said...

Re: "Morning Call Welcome Mat" ... "Mr. Villa has been seeking an audience with the managing editor, and I'm told that the principles that apply to the editorial board may be inapplicable to the managing editor." -Bernie O'Hare

Wow.

Let's give The Morning Call credit:

they are the kings of chicken-shit loop holes.

And vague ones at that.

Let me get this straight ...

The Morning Call's Editorial "Welcome Mat" policy may not be applicable to managing editor Dave Erdman?

May not be?

How can we find out for sure?

And how many requests will THIS take?

In the meantime, allow me to offer a counter chicken-shit loop hole of my own:

DAVE ERDMAN IS LISTED AMONG THE "EDITORIAL" STAFF AT THE MORNING CALL'S WEBSITE.

So Morning Call, ya better wood slide Dave Erdman on over into the NEWS department at your web site if you want your chicken-shit loop hole to make any sense at all.

Geez. I'm surprised Tribune NYC attorney Kay Murray or your local law firm didn't recommend this, they're such bright guys N' gals ...

Bill Villa said...

For The Record:

After having 43 requests for a meeting ignored by Morning Call Managing Editor Dave Erdman, I just e-mailed Meeting Request #1 to THE MORNING CALL EDITORIAL BOARD, i.e., the applicable folks who wrote this here at www.mcall.com:

"[T]he board intends to be as open with readers as possible. It meets regularly -- a few times every week -- with people and groups about topics of public interest. The Lehigh Valley area is blessed to have public-spirited citizens who recognize that the newspaper is a corporate citizen that strives to be engaged in the debate on such issues, and that tries to offer leadership. The welcome mat always is out for those who want to be heard."

FYI, these folks (this week) are ...

* Tim Kennedy, Publisher, President & CEO

* Glenn Kranzley, Opinion Pages Editor & VP

* Eric Chiles, Opinion Writer

* Stephen Budihas, VP, Human Resources

* Sharon Repsher, Manager, Billings & Collections

* Liza Mattison, Newspapers in Education (NIE) Supervisor

Stay tuned ...

Anonymous said...

Lets see if the Editorial Board comes through for Mr. Villa. If they do not put down a "welcome mat" like it is stated then their words are meaningless. If no meeting is given I plan on cancelling my subscription because the rest of the words printed in the Morning Call will be meaningless as well.

Bill Villa said...

THE MORNING CALL EDITORIAL BOARD responds ...

In a message dated 3/3/2008 8:34:00A.M. Eastern Standard Time, gkranzley@mcall.com writes:

<< Mr. Villa, No thanks on your offer to meet with the editorial board.

>> Mr. Kranzley, are you speaking for the entire Morning Call Editorial Board? I notice that none of its other members are copied on your e-mail to me. And whether you are or you aren't speaking for them, I will not accept your glib and thoughtless "no thanks" as a legitimate answer to my legitimate request to meet with The Morning Call Editorial Board and experience its "welcome mat" that is "always is out for those who want to be heard."

<< (Kranzley) As you know, I did listen to your concerns and offered you my advice at a meeting here last July. I also note in your repeated requests for meetings with others here that you say you would be satisfied with one meeting. I expect you to abide by that, unless you want to tell me you don’t really mean it.

>> Mr. Kranzley, as you know, the meeting I've been requesting with The Morning Call since September 2007 is in on a totally separate (and singular) topic from the topics you and I discussed in July 2007. Don't act so dumb.

<< (Kranzley) One other point of information: I want to clear up a misunderstanding you have about how The Morning Call is organized internally. The editorial board consists of six people whose names appear at the top of the opinion pages every day. They are responsible for the corporate opinions expressed in our editorials, which are headed “Our View.” Otherwise, “editorial department” or “newsroom” applies to the staff that covers and presents the news. (as distinct from “advertising department” or “circulation department). The news operation and staff is separate from the opinion pages operation and staff. I realize we are using one word in two ways, but I think you can understand the distinction, now that I’ve explained it to you. -Glenn Kranzley, Editor of the opinion pages

>> Mr. Kranzley, what I'm understanding, loudly and clearly, is that not only have I caught Lehigh County DA Jim Martin lying to a homicide victim's family the night before trial and fixing a DUI homicide case in favor of the criminal defendant whose grandfather Mr. Martin is longtime pals with, I've caught The Morning Call trying to conceal its facilitation of this fix-- as evidenced in your curiously inexplicable and totally groundless refusal to meet with me.

Sheena's Dad,
Bill Villa

Bill Villa said...
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Bill Villa said...
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Bill Villa said...

Let's review, shall we ...

According to Morning Call Investigations Editor Tim Darragh (who I imagine maybe wishes he could take this statement back), I've raised "excellent questions that deserve to be answered," regarding a recent DUI homicide case that fell apart the night before trial to the amazingly good fortune benefit of the homicidal drunk driver criminal defendant whose grandfather is longtime pals with DA Jim ("I trump the Mayor, I trump the Police Chief") Martin.

But however excellent and deserving of being answered my excellently deserving questions are ...

* DA Jim Martin refuses to discuss them with me

* Chief Deputy DA Renee Smith refuses to discuss them with me

* Morning Call Reporter Debbie Garlicki refuses to discuss them with me

* Morning Call Investigations Editor Tim Darragh refuses to discuss them (further) with me

* Tribune NYC Attorney Kay Murray refuses to discuss them (further) with me

* Morning Call Managing Editor Dave Erdman refuses to discuss them with me at all

and ...

* The Morning Call Editorial Board, per Glenn Kranzley, refuses to extend me the courtesy of a "Welcome Mat" meeting with them to discuss my "excellent questions that deserve to be answered."

And presumably I'm still banned from entering The Morning Call's building without an appointment ... the appointment nobody there will give me ... although I question how enforceable this would be and I'll likely "pop in" there unannounced sometime in the near future to find out.

Q. Is it just me?

Or does The Morning Call come off like they're trying, rather strenuously, to keep something hidden?

Bill Villa said...

I believe this bears repeating ...

"The [Morning Call Editorial] Board intends to be as open with readers as possible. It meets regularly -- a few times every week -- with people and groups about topics of public interest. The Lehigh Valley area is blessed to have public-spirited citizens who recognize that the newspaper is a corporate citizen that strives to be engaged in the debate on such issues, and that tries to offer leadership. The welcome mat always is out for those who want to be heard."-www.mcall.com

John Dohr said...

The "funniest" thing about Morning Call Managing Editor David Erdman's stubborn, pompous, hiding-up-here-behind-the-castle-walls-from-you-annoying-peon refusal to meet with Bill Villa? Mr. Erdman must now have spent more time rebuffing Bill than the meeting itself would have taken!

Let's face it - Mr. Erdman clearly CANNOT meet with Bill. That would open a can of worms regarding DA Jim Martin's performance that The Morning Call clearly WILL NOT open. This is non-negotiable on their part.

The Morning Call's image, dignity, reputation, integrity, etc. etc. all come second to their obvious intention to NEVER NEVER NEVER print one single negative thing about DA Jim Martin.

The only thing that could possibly change the situation is some kind of public groundswell, outcry, demonstration, etc. that would itself be so newsworthy, The Morning Call could not help but report it.

Maybe, oh, I don't know, a peaceful protest gathering outside The Morning Call's offices on the anniversary of Sheena's death?

Even so, they would bury the lead -the reason for the protest - so there'd have to be nicely pre-printed Press Releases detailing the entire story ready for the media.

Bill Villa said...

"NEVER NEVER NEVER print one single negative thing about DA Jim Martin."

You "get it," John Dohr, thank you for this.

Here's another "excellent question that deserves to be answered" ...

WHY is The Morning Call so protective of DA Jim Martin?

There's no question that they ARE.

But WHY are they?

What are they getting in return?

I highly doubt they protect him out of the 'goodness of their hearts.'

There's got to be some Return On Investment (R.O.I.) at play here.

And it's in THIS zone that this story's Pulitzer Prize will be awarded, is my feeling.

Good Luck to any/all mainstream media and private citizens like me who are working on exposing this genuinely huge story of universal interest:

CORRUPT DA SHIELDED
BY CROOKED NEWSPAPER

Bill Villa said...

"The only thing that could possibly change the situation is some kind of public groundswell, outcry, demonstration, etc. that would itself be so newsworthy, The Morning Call could not help but report it. Maybe, oh, I don't know, a peaceful protest gathering outside The Morning Call's offices on the anniversary of Sheena's death? Even so, they would bury the lead -the reason for the protest ..." -John Dohr

The last "protest march" on The Morning Call that I know of was actually mocked, not reported on, by Morning Call "reporter" Brian Callaway on The Morning Call's own Queen City Daily blog on January 17, 2008.

Above a photo of placard-carrying demonstrators (whose mission was never mentioned) was this headline mocking Vietnam War era demonstrators ...

HELL NO, WE WON'T ... HUH?

And below the photo was this pompous copy ...

"We're used to arriving at work each morning to find angry phone messages and e-mails - we do bring such joy into the world. To our pleasant surprise, though, some of our finest detractors came to greet us in person this morning. The QCD loves the sound of protesters in the morning..."

Neither the demonstration nor its mission ever made it to the pages of the actual "newspaper."

The Morning Call just mocked it and blew it off on the internet.

When you're a monopoly you can get away with crap like this.

And much, much more.

Friend of sheena said...

The fact that Kranzley and Erdman refuse to meet with Mr. Villa says to me that they might be hiding something or are covering for Martin. Mr. Villa is only asking questions. There needs to be an investigation of DA Martin. How can newspaper editors be so unbelievably cold, callous,and rude to a grieving family. This is outrageous. The investigations editor(Darragh) said Mr. Villa had raised excellent questions, but when he took it to his bosses, that's where the story ended. I'd really like to know why.

Bill Villa said...

If I'm wrong about DA Jim Martin having fixed this recent DUI homicide case the night before trial ... how hard would it be for The Morning Call to show me where and why I'm wrong-- if they know I'm wrong?

And while I can appreciate that The Morning Call cannot waste time showing everybody in town with a conspiracy theory where and why they're wrong about it ...

don't forget ...

I have raised "excellent questions that deserve to be answered" regarding the handling of this case, in the determination of The Morning Call's own Investigations Editor, Tim Darragh.

I have spoken with the victim's family, several times, and so I know the "story" DA Jim Martin's office told the victim's family the night before trial.

I also know what the judge in this case told a local blogger who phoned him about this case.

I know that DA Jim Martin's office told the judge and the victim's family two (2) completely different stories the night before trial and that both stories were lies.

Legally just hearsay?

Yeah. So far.

But get the victim's family and the judge to verify what I'm saying by going on the record and we've got one terrific and explosive story out in the open.

And ... newspapers thrive on explosive stories ... don't they?

John Dohr said...

Bill Villa said: I have raised "excellent questions that deserve to be answered" regarding the handling of this case, in the determination of The Morning Call's own Investigations Editor, Tim Darragh.

I wonder if Erdman has flogged Darragh for ever telling Bill he had "excellent questions that deserve to be answered". Erdman must hate this being on the record.

Then again, if he gave Darragh as hard time, mayube Darragh's morale would slip and he wouldn't be able to do such wonderful puppy abuse exposes.

Now that there's some darn good journalism!

Bill Villa said...
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Bill Villa said...

Persistence Maybe Pays Off Department

Encouraging News: there is a mainstream media outlet investigating my allegations.

As mentioned earlier, we need the victim's family, the judge, and possibly LVH to repeat the truths they've told the victim's family, me, and a local blogger-- on the record.

To this end, I have contacted all the relevant parties and asked them to return this media outlet's phone calls (prior phone calls by this media outlet to the relevant parties have been ignored, I've been told).

I e-mailed and regular-mailed this letter to the judge in this case ...

Judge _________, please return the media's phone calls when they contact you.

Please tell them what you told blogger _____ _____ about DA Jim Martin's office withdrawing the major charge of vehicular homicide while DUI against _____ _______ the night before trial and that this was presented to you as a plea deal that both sides were in agreement with.

As you must know by now, the same night before trial, DA Jim Martin's office told the ______ family a completely different story-- Martin told the _______ that you had "tossed" this major charge because LVH's blood evidence wasn't reliably usable in court. _____ ______ told me this.

_____ ______ also told me the _______ were not in agreement with this plea deal; they were on the record against it since April 2007 and the DA's office was fully aware of this-- hence the scheduled trial.

Your Honor, as I'm positive you know having been an excellent DA yourself, when it comes to dispatching a case, there's a huge difference between "prosecutorial discretion" ... and lying.

It appears that DA Jim Martin lied: to the _______, to you, to the media, and about Lehigh Valley Hospital's blood evidence, the night before trial in the _____ _______ case.

Did you know that DA Jim Martin and the defendant's grandfather, ___ _______, are longtime friends and that Mr. _______ was an invited guest at DA Martin's top secret swearing-in ceremony in January?

Here's my agenda, Your Honor:

To spare future grieving family members the needlessly cruel added agony of witnessing DA Jim Martin, our county's top law enforcement officer, siding against their deceased loved one and in favor of the criminal defendant who killed him or her.

Losing a child is surrealistically awful enough, trust me, I know firsthand-- but to then have to experience DA Jim Martin exercising every option he has in an effort to go easy on the killer ...

no one should have to experience this.

Unless he is stopped, DA Jim Martin will continue to fix DUI homicide cases for cronies.

He must be stopped.

And you can help in a pivotal way, Your Honor.

Please do.

Please take the media's phone calls and tell them the truth about Jim Martin and the _____ _______ case-- a truth the public has a right to know.

Thank you as always for your consideration.

Best Regards,

Sheena's Dad,
Bill Villa

Bill Villa said...

Ripley's Believe It Or Not Department

After I picked my jaw up off the floor upon reading this at Northern Lehigh Valley Logic's blog, I copied and pasted it here for all of us to marvel at:

From Tuesday's, March 4, 2008, Morning Call classified ads section:

The Morning Call seeks a Watchdog Reporter

to act as a zealous crusader for the reader by exposing fraud, inequity, injustice and incompetence in government, institutions, bureaucracies, corporations and business via a twice weekly watch dog column.

The successful candidate will report to the Sunday Editor and develop work that will hold public officials, institutions and companies accountable to the citizens.

The successful candidate will publish Sunday and during the week, covering subjects of broad impact and updating readers weekly on the progress of problems exposed in the past columns.

Please send cover letter, resume and web links to relevant work.

Email inquires to christine.schiavo@mcall.com

Reference WEB ID MC23930.

Bill Villa said...

What's jaw-dropping to me is that ...

The Morning Call doesn't have any "Watchdog Reporters" on staff already (?)

And ... I've done some solid "Watchdog Reporting" on DA Jim Martin (raising "excellent questions that deserve to be answered") ...

no interest in my "Watchdog Reporter" findings, Morning Call? None?

Bill Villa said...

The Express-Times Takes a Chance

Thanks to Editor Joe Owens and The Express-Times for cracking the seal on the vault of protective untouchability that normally conceals Lehigh County DA Jim Martin:

see "Exasperated dad sees little satisfaction" in the Sunday, March 9, 2008 Express-Times.

While the article gives a carefully written and oftentimes cryptic overview of my allegations against DA Jim Martin, still missing, for now, is corroboration of my allegations from the victim's family, the judge in the case, and Lehigh Valley Hospital.

It is only this very thin line that is separating circumstantial evidence and hearsay from slam-dunk proof that DA Jim Martin fixed this recent DUI homicide case the night before trial in favor of the criminal defendant.

I'm counting on The Express-Times (or another media outlet or independent investigator) to not take "no answer" for an answer from the victim's family, the judge, and LVH.

Justice needs these people to put their fears and conflicts of interest aside, be men, and go on the record.

In the meantime, I'll keep the "buzz saw" on Jimbo and that "other newspaper" that is not named by name in the article.

P.S. If Jim Martin and The Morning Call would like me to go away, they might try answering my "excellent questions that deserve to be answered." I'm zealous but I am not an unreasonable person. I'm fully able to see, and to admit, when I'm wrong. If Martin and The Morning Call are innocent of my allegations, and their answers can demonstrate this, I'll apologize to both of them and give it up.
But if they refuse to answer my questions, I'll never leave them alone until I die.

trick1 said...

Look nature lovers; another sighting of the American Ostrich, in this case the Morning Call's either inability or unwillingness to even respond to repeated requests by Bill Villa to meet with him. it's against everything they're supposed to be about, y'know, truth, fairness, integrity and all that, and why? to protect Jim Martin? Have they looked up 'journalism' in the dictionary lately? not to mention that the one concrete way to get rid of Bill Villa is apparently the last thing on earth they'll do. looked in the mirror lately, Morning Call? can you?

Bill Villa said...
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Bill Villa said...

"The one concrete way to get rid of Bill Villa is apparently the last thing on earth they'll do." -Trick1

At the risk of repeating myself more frequently than the saying "Repetition is the Mother of Learning" applies, and warrants ... hey ... who knows the "thinking" behind The Morning Call's singling me (a grieving father) out as being not worthy of their "Welcome Mat."

Whatever the reason, I believe their decision (so far) to not meet with me makes them look really bad--

shockingly cold and inhumanly uncaring at the least--

and, very possibly, 'caught red-handed guilty' of shielding DA Jim Martin ... as I have been alleging.

In my mind, the more they deny me that "Welcome Mat" and the chance to be heard, the guiltier they look.

friend of Sheena said...

It was nice to see so many girls dancing to honor Sheena at the 2nd annual Sheena Villa Dance Marathon this past weekend. She was a popular girl.
As the 2nd anniversary of her death (which is also her birthday which will fall on Easter Sunday this year) approaches, friends and family are feeling the tremendous loss of a truly special human being. It is so cold and callous of the Morning Call not to meet with Sheena's dad, who is only trying to save future grieving families the extra pain of having to deal with a corrupt DA and an equally corrupt newspaper which so obviously protects this arrogant man.

John Dohr said...

I heard that DA Jim Martin's recent swearing-in was super-secret, and by invitation only. Anybody know anything about this? Sounds like he's hiding from some person or persons who might've liked to demonstrate at this auspicious occasion.

Bill Villa said...

Friend of Sheena, yes, it was really heart-warming to see so many girls, most of them former dance students of Miss Sheena, still remembering her with so much passion. Sheena left this life much too soon but she sure made a huge impression on so many people while she was here. Our thanks to Miss Tanya and Sheena's dance family at Expression of Dance in Nazareth for keeping Sheena's memory alive and dancing from the heart.

Bill Villa said...

"I heard that DA Jim Martin's recent swearing-in was super-secret, and by invitation only. Anybody know anything about this? Sounds like he's hiding from some person or persons who might've liked to demonstrate at this auspicious occasion."

John Dohr, here's what I know about this. I called the DA's office in late December I believe it was inquiring as to the day, time, and whereabouts of DA Jim Martin's swearing-in ceremony slated for early January. Martin was handed a 2nd, unopposed 4-year term as DA in November 2007, as the local Democrats, for a 2nd time, failed to put up a candidate to run against Jim Martin. Martin's secretary, an abrupt, rude, and disagreeable woman named Merrilee asked me "who's calling." When I said, "Bill Villa," she immediately hung up on me.

I called the Courthouse back and when the switchboard operator answered I told her what had just happened. She said, "Well that wasn't very nice" and she asked me if I knew who in the DA's office I had spoken to. When I told her Merrilee, she said something in acknowledgment that led me to believe she maybe knew Merrilee ... so I asked the Courthouse operator if she would call Merrilee, ask about Martin's swearing-in ceremony, and call me back with the info ... and she agreed to do this.

Coupla minutes later, my phone rings and it's the Courthouse operator who tells me, "Well, the DA's office obviously does not want anyone to know when and where District Attorney Martin will be sworn in. Merrilee told me that a Lehigh County judge, who she would not name, would be doing the swearing-in, and that it would be held in a private location, day and time confidential, and attendance will strictly by invitation only."

FYI, The Morning Call did a nearly full-page article on the swearing-in ceremonies for the three new Lehigh County judges ... but ... nary a drop of Morning Call printer's ink was expended even mentioning DA Jim Martin's top secret invitation-only swearing-in ceremony.

Maybe this was because all The Morning Call big wigs were there (?) and on this, I am speculating.

But this I know as a fact:

the grandfather of the criminal defendant in this recent DUI homicide case The Morning Call refuses to meet with me on is longtime pals with DA Jim Martin. And this man was an invited guest at Martin's swearing-in ceremony.

No wonder DA Martin and his loyal secretary Merrilee didn't want me at this ceremony.

Bill Villa said...

Here's another example of how DA Jim Martin takes the side of the homicidal drunk driver criminal defendant and the criminal's family in DUI homicide cases-- in my firsthand experience.

FEB 12, 2007 had been set as our case's trial start date, or, the date before which Sheena's killer would have to plead guilty, if pleading guilty was going to be his choice.

And the choices were all his, of course-- all we could do was wait.

And in the run-up to FEB 12, DA Jim Martin's office and the killer's defense attorneys would be plea bargaining.

Of course, no progress reports on these plea deal talks were shared with Sheena's family. Zero. Zip. Nothing. Not a word from DA Jim Martin's office.

However ... very near the end of January ... we did get an important (and anonymous) "progress report" from the same person who had tipped us off on the criminal defendant's AWOL Belize Vacation-- that is, valuable info came to us from a member of the criminal defendant's inner circle who was, again, appalled at what Sheena's killer was attempting to get away with:

We were told by this compassionate tipster that Sheena's killer was going to plead guilty on FEB 2 ...

10 days PRIOR to what Sheena's family (and the media) all had marked in our calendars as being the "next scheduled court date" of FEB 12.

I checked the criminal docket online and sure enough, there it was:

On January 17th, the "next scheduled court date" of FEB 12 had been moved up to FEB 2.

AND NOBODY FROM DA JIM MARTIN'S OFFICE HAD TOLD SHEENA'S FAMILY OR THE MEDIA ABOUT IT.

Standard DA Jim Martin incompetence?

Maybe.

But just as likely, this was DA Jim Martin's way of arranging for Sheena's killer (and his family) to plead guilty "in private," without any media present, without any Sheena Squad supporters present, and most importantly, without Sheena's vigilant and pain in the ass dad being present.

And there would have been numerous advantages to Sheena's killer pleading guilty in private and away from the watchful eyes of Sheena's family and the media, including:

* Certain charges (such as the major one) could have been "tossed" or "dropped" at the last minute and presented to the judge as "part of a plea deal that both sides were in agreement with," as was done in this most recent DUI homicide case.

* With no one from the victim's family present to dispute it (as happened in this most recent DUI homicide case The Morning Call refuses to meet with me on), DA Jim Martin's office can tell a judge whatever it wants. And apparently does.

* With no media present, no one would see Sheena's killer being taken away to jail in handcuffs-- the media, caught flat-footed, wouldn't have any "embarrassing" pictures of the criminal defendant to broadcast or publish.

* And, most importantly, the killer's family and the DA's office could deny Sheena's family the "satisfaction" of seeing a table scrap of justice finally being served nearly a year after losing Sheena.

The Morning Call, of course, never reported on this attempted bait and switch of the "next scheduled court date" by DA Jim Martin's office.

And DA Jim Martin's office offered only a really lame and transparently insincere "sorry" on FEB 2, when, obviously surprised by our attendance, the DA's office and the killer's family saw dozens of Sheena Supporters in the courtroom making sure that Sheena's killer wasn't getting away with anything further and was handcuffed and finally hauled off to jail.

Moral Of The Story:

When dealing with DA Jim Martin on a DUI homicide case as a victim family member, it helps to have eyes in back of your head--

and an appalled informant from within the criminal defendant's inner circle.

Bill Villa said...

... for those keeping score at home, my polite e-mail requests to The Morning Call for a meeting with managing editor Dave Erdman and/or The Morning Call Editorial Board now number 56.

"... the [Morning Call Editorial] board intends to be as open with readers as possible. It meets regularly -- a few times every week -- with people and groups about topics of public interest. The Lehigh Valley area is blessed to have public-spirited citizens who recognize that the newspaper is a corporate citizen that strives to be engaged in the debate on such issues, and that tries to offer leadership. The welcome mat always is out for those who want to be heard." -www.mcall.com