Letter to Attorney General Bill Lockyer
December 8, 2004
James R. Segal
Mr. Bill Lockyer
Dear Mr. Lockyer,
(I write knowing that the chance of this letter reaching you is infinitesimal. But not writing is simply not an available option. It's a bit like praying! Is anyone out there? One prays anyway. And so I write. )
My wife and I had a remarkable son, Anton Segal, who was brutally murdered in San Francisco 6 years ago by Daniel Alas, the confessed killer. Alas was tried, found guilty of 2nd degree murder, and sentenced to the maximum permitted by law.
Of course Alas, a seasoned criminal with a very long record, including violent crime, was well aware of his rights and knew how to "work" the justice system. He appealed and, astonishing to many seasoned court watchers (not to mention our family), his conviction was overturned. The bad guy won; the S.F. District Attorney, your own Attorney General's office, the People, and the friends and family of the murdered boy -- all of us lost.
A second trial was held. Family and friends again flew in from various parts of the country (and globe); we suffered again, watching the arrogance and lack of contrition on the part of the murderer. Again Alas was convicted. Again he was sentenced to the maximum permissible. Again he has appealed. Again this murderer claims he was treated unfairly (for reasons not yet even unfashioned) and deserves either his freedom right away (claiming double jeopardy), or a chance for freedom after yet another, third trial. He keeps trying, and why not? He has absolutely nothing to lose. And to gain, all he needs is a little doubt in the mind of one juror in a third trial. Or a fourth….
Of course all of us who knew and loved Anton suffer horribly from this prolonged finger in our collective face. Beyond that, it seems that the people of California suffer. Not only must Californians undergo the enormous expense (in time, effort, money, manpower) of 2 trials, 2 appeals, and now possibly a third trial. Even worse, Californians must now face the prospect of a hardened, unrepentant, dangerous, violent, repeat offender, twice convicted of murder, back on their streets. Is this far fetched? If you dig into Alas' background, you will find that the justice system had already previously provided him succor, multiple times, and thereby permitted him to be loose on the street when he killed our son. He should have been in jail at the time, but the courts - the very "system" Alas has learned to work so well -- coddled him so that he could be free to kill our son.
Water under the bridge? I suppose. Our son is certainly dead forever. We can only pray (is anyone out there?) that the "system" does not now open the door to the real prospect that Alas might one day be free(d) to kill again, to destroy some other family. If he walks free, whenever that may be, please mark these words: Alas is a violent repeat offender and he will kill again. We hope that you, sir, as Attorney General, may be in an oversight position capable of taking the special pain and preparation necessary to see that this will not happen again.
Thank you genuinely for hearing an anguished family plead not only for closure on the case, but for the justice already dispensed by the two prior trials, their two sets of jurors, and both sentencing trial judges. As one of those judges noted, to be kind to the cruel is to be cruel to the kind. Do not be kind to Mr. Alas. Please sir, please do your utmost to oversee that we do not lose again before the same First Appellate District Court.
Thank you for reading this long letter with an understanding heart, and for doing everything, every single thing, that you possibly can to win this case for the People.
In the probable event that this heartfelt missive never reaches you, I hope I do not offend by sending copies to others in the Criminal Division of your office who might be reachable…and willing and able to help.
Cc: Mr. Garrick W. Chock