* We read the Nov. 3 article headlined "Keeping a Straight Face Often a Trial" by Evelyn Larrubia. It is inconceivable to us how this writer and this newspaper would find the plight of a clearly mentally ill, third-strike defendant humorous.
The draconian three strikes law, which mandates a life sentence, is bad enough when applied to competent defendants who commit petty third offenses. To find any amusement in the application of this law to a man whose competency is so clearly in question based on his defense of a government conspiracy to kill him, is appalling.
Did the author really expect us to chuckle at the fact that a man, who is in need of mental help, is spending his life in prison for stealing a wallet and a checkbook? If this is Ms. Larrubia's idea of humor, perhaps she should visit a local mental health treatment center. We are sure she would find several "humorous" individuals who are afflicted with the tragic disease of paranoia and she could pass those stories along for the amusement of her readers.
We were struck by the glaring omission in the article of any explanation of why a judge would allow this defendant to represent himself without counsel when his competency clearly should have been questioned. The district attorney should have been ashamed of himself for providing this case as fodder for an article that would even attempt to make light of such a tragic situation.
Regardless of a man's past strike offenses, no one should be imprisoned for life for petty offenses, least of all people who suffer from mental disorders. There is no humor in this law, and certainly no humor in this case.