I blogged the other day about Dennis Prager’s strongly expressed opinion that those who have runaway compassion for criminals lack compassion for innocent people. Prager made that point in connection with the killing of Sean Taylor, something that took place at the hands of four young men with lengthy rap sheets. I later updated that some post to ask this question: “What do you bet that the two guys arrested for this horrific accident both have rap sheets?” I’m now in a position to answer that same question.
To begin with, the “accident” was no accident. Two men stole a car and, once they were spotted by the police, they took off, ran a red light, and smashed into another car, killing both men in that other car. One of the men killed was Kristopher Bratt, only 20 years old:
Bratt, who was reportedly a nephew of the actor Benjamin Bratt, worked until recently as a laborer for Redwood Engineering in Tiburon. He was laid off last week because of a seasonal slowdown, said company owner Rob Poole.
“He was a nice guy,” Poole said. “If I hadn’t laid him off, he would’ve been in bed getting ready for work. You feel weird about it.”
Bratt’s survivors include his mother in Mill Valley.
Bratt’s mother had to say what any mother would say upon learning that her son was the victim of random, violent death: ”
I’m just in shock right now – my youngest son is dead.” [snip] “Kristopher happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said. “If he died instantly, that’s a blessing.”
About the other man killed, Alfonso Felipe Cortez, 36, nothing is yet known.
Those are the victims, men who had the spectacular bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But let’s get back to my question about the perpetrators. I asked, what do you bet they both guys had rap sheets?
I can tell you now that at least one of them, the man who drove the stolen car and caused the crash, had a lengthy rap sheet:
The 22-year-old man who allegedly fled from police in a stolen car and slammed into a second car early Tuesday in San Francisco, killing two men, has a long arrest record and was recently released from jail, authorities said.
Records show that Gosnell has a string of offenses dating back to 2004. Most were for burglaries and petty theft, but he also been arrested for allegedly making terrorist threats and carrying a concealed weapon.
In February, Gosnell was ordered to serve a year in county jail for a probation violation. He spent about 10 months behind bars. He could have faced up to two years in state prison.
Gosnell has four burglary- or theft-related convictions, records show, and each time, he served days to months in jail before being released on probation. As part of the sentence this year on the probation revocation, he was placed on probation through 2009.
He was arrested in November in San Francisco stemming from a warrant in Daly City, according to prosecutors. Details about that warrant and the status of the case were unavailable late Tuesday.
Gosnell’s attorney wins this year’s “master of understatement” award. In commenting on his client, he said “My impression is that he was a decent enough chap who had problems – I’m stunned that this has happened.” Yes, that’s what he was — a decent guy with problems, little problems such as terrorism threats, carrying concealed weapons, at least four burglary/theft crimes (and we assume many more for which he was not tagged), not to mention stealing a car and killing two innocent young men.
Now, I understand that this is an attorney talking about his own client, but here’s another bet for you: What do you bet that Gosnell’s defenders will quickly get back to us with stories of his social/economic/mental/racial/familiar/[fill in the blank] problems, all of which explain or excuse the terrible crime he committed?
UPDATE: And here’s a political note about being soft on crime, in a column asking if Huckabee’s penchant for forgiving violent criminals is going to make him soft on Islamic terrorism.