Sixteen-year-old Cassie Jo Stoddard agreed to house sit for relatives on the weekend of September 22, 2006. It was something the teenager had done before…but this time something went terribly wrong. When the family returned home at the end of the weekend they found Cassie lying on their living room floor brutally stabbed to death.
Detectives focused on two of Cassie’s classmates who had briefly visited her on the night that she was murdered: Torey Adamcik and Brian Draper. Initially both boys denied any knowledge of the crime, but after two separate interrogations, Brian Draper told detectives a chilling story of murder straight out of a horror movie. The two boys were immediately arrested, and a shocking videotape was discovered that seemed to depict the two teens not only planning the cold-blooded murder, but celebrating it.
Community outrage was strong and immediate. The public demanded justice. But was the video actually what it appeared to be: a cold-blooded documentary that detailed the plotting of Cassie’s murder; or something else entirely? Could anyone uncover the truth in time and convince a jury that sometimes things aren't always what they appear to be?
The Guilty Innocent is narrated by Shannon Adamcik, mother of Torey, one of the accused boys. It takes readers behind the scenes of a trial where prosecutors cared more about public opinion than truth, defense attorneys, who had never argued a murder case, were in over their heads, and a young boy’s life hung in the balance.
The United States is the only country in the world that will charge a juvenile as an adult and sentence them to life without parole. As the mother of one such child, I know exactly what happens when a juvenile is placed in adult court where they cannot defend themselves. They are immediately cut off from all human contact, locked in isolation, and railroaded through a justice system they simply cannot comprehend. Consequently, many of these juveniles are sentenced too much longer and harsher terms than their adult counterparts. I've personally lived through this, and I was compelled to write about it.
I began for the simple reason that I had lived through this horrendous ordeal and I ached for someone to confide in. But reliving the most painful part of my life was extraordinarily difficult. Ultimately the only reason that I was able to persevere was my deep belief that the story was important and needed to be told. That is still true.
This is a true story and no one can tell it better than the people who lived it. A crime reporter can look at the details of a case, but they cannot tell you how it feels to live through it. I can and I did. I used the pre-trial and trial transcripts, copies of the police reports, the autopsy and DNA reports, and DVD recordings of all of the evidence in the case. I've done copious research. But more importantly, I take readers step-by-step through what it feels like when your 16-year-old son is accused of first-degree murder; all the odds are stacked against him; and his defense is in the hands of attorneys you can’t fully trust to come through for you.
"Gangs are on the rise again." This portent of trouble comes from the FBI'S expert on gangs, Linda Schmidt. Today, there are over 30,000 gangs across America and over 800,000 gang members. Gangs are savvy and scarier than ever. Their firepower, military background and lack of restraint have made some city centers too dangerous to patrol. As gang power grows, knowledge is the best antidote and the best inducement to corrective actions. The interviews, street wisdom and advice that are used throughout this book show its heavy dose of reality. Specialist Linda Schmidt goes deep into gang territory without a badge or gun. She uses a lethal mix of wily street smarts, courage, and determination. She possesses the secret weapons of confidence and caring, and the unnerving manner and moral compass of a grandmother. There are very few in law enforcement who have gotten so far beneath the surface of gang life. Linda can look at a wall of graffiti and read the hieroglyphics that predict an impending murder. She has leaned over unidentified corpses on the cold steel of the coroner's table and told their life story by interpreting the codes of their tattoos. Linda's book is a crucial primer for anyone who needs to learn the customs and codes of the gang world. She brings you systematically through the anthropology, psychology and pathology of the gang culture. This book is not an ideology approach but rather a practical book with a set of steps to follow. It provides specific advice and ideas for actions. Interviews, photos, experiences and case studies are included to make the book much more user-friendly to prosecutors, police and corrections officials. One of the goals of this book is to provide all law enforcement (local, state, and federal) with a method for working together to get the best results when dealing with gang cases. It will make law enforcers sit up and take notice. This book will get real results in a short time if it's carefully explained advice is heeded.