The Washington Times:
Desiree Andrade tapped heartbreaking story of justice denied to bolster recall of George Gascon
Desiree Andrade fervently believes that the killers of her 20-year-old son, Julian — who was brutally beaten, thrown off a cliff and then stomped to death — should get the death penalty or spend the rest of their lives in prison.
But that isn’t how justice is meted out in Los Angeles today.
Ms. Andrade watched with disbelief and anger as Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon’s far-left criminal justice agenda, in her opinion, made sure those who committed the killing paid the smallest possible price.
“I’m disgusted. That’s the best word I can use to describe it,” she said. “I’m just disgusted at what has happened.”
She helped organize a campaign to recall Mr. Gascon, who took office in December. Ms. Andrade, with her heartbreaking story of justice denied, emerged as one of the most visible spokespeople for the recall.
The recall campaign started nearly three years after five “friends” abducted Julian Andrade at his home in May 2018 because they thought he stole some marijuana from them, his mother said.
What followed was a torturous killing.
“They stabbed him with shards of a glass pipe and beat him with a metal chair,” Ms. Andrade said with an icy calm she has developed from years of tears.
“Then they pulled to the side of the road and beat him some more, and then they dumped him down the side of a canyon. Then, when the ringleader thought he saw Julian’s head moving, he scrambled down into the canyon and started stomping on his head with his steel-toed boots.”
She said she knows why Julian fought so hard to stay alive.
“It was because he has two children and a daughter he never met. It seems to me that [the killers’ sentence] should be life without parole or the death sentence. He’s gone, my oldest. … To me, a life for a life,” Ms. Andrade said.
The DA had other plans.
Mr. Gascon, who was elected last year with the help of super PACs financed by liberal billionaire activist George Soros, took office to implement a leftist criminal justice agenda.
For Mr. Gascon and other “Soros DAs” who recently took office, the death penalty is off the table.
They are remaking a court system that they deem systemically racist. They oppose cash bail, pursue fewer indictments and toss aside special circumstances and other laws that enhance sentencing such as three-strikes penalties.
If convicted, they would face the possibility of life without parole. Ms. Andrade considered such a sentence a just punishment for her son’s brutal killing.
Less than two weeks after Mr. Gascon took over, he dropped the special charges, reducing the maximum sentence to 25 years in prison.
Ms. Andrade was devastated.
“When they announced they were dropping the charges, the defense lawyer turned to his guy, both of them with beaming smiles, and they fist-bumped each other right in front of me,” she said.
She was far from alone. She said the deputy district attorneys also were upset.
“They did not agree with this. They did not want to do this. They said they didn’t become prosecutors to do this,” Ms. Andrade said. “I feel bad for them.”
Mr. Gascon is facing something akin to a mutiny in addition to the recall drive.
He regards sentencing enhancements as matters of prosecutorial discretion and has banned their use because they are often enforced against people of color.
Dozens of deputy district attorneys in Los Angeles disagreed. They argued that California voters decided the issue and they are legally bound to pursue felons as aggressively as possible.
The five defendants are
- Andrew Joseph Michael Williams
- Hercules Dimitrio Balaskas
- Francisco Amigon
- Jacob Hunter Elmendorf
- Matthew Luzon Martin-Capiendo