By Donna Westfall – June 20, 2017 – By the end of Day 5, I’d swear that the Prosecution Team is trying to wear down the jury. Gotta wonder if they hand out No-Doz pills because I don’t know how the jurors manage to stay awake. I couldn’t. I found myself trying to stay awake, but after my head kept drooping, I was concerned that I might start snoring. I left the courtroom before Judy Ranger’s testimony concluded for the day, went home and instantly fell asleep.
I noticed that some of the jurors take a lot of notes and many don’t seem to. This being my first time to witness a real life juried case, it’s not like court room drama’s on TV or in the movies. This is a very, very slow moving process primarily to lay the foundation that the prosecution have dotted all their “i’s” and crossed all their “t’s.” as you’ll see from today’s witnesses. However, because of their choice of people they put in the witness box over the last 5 days, the lies are starting to stand out, at least in my mind.
Here’s the line-up of witnesses from morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. I’m going to pull a Chairman Chris Howard from the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors and take them out of order like he does with his agenda.
“Expert” witnesses: The nurse at St. Josephs and the domestic violence guy currently heading up security for the San Francisco 49’s.
Starting with David Boffi. Quick note: It’s a good thing the clerks in the courtroom have the witnesses spell their names. Mr. Boffi’s claim is as an expert in DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. While the Defense Attorney, William Cater, pointed out his objection to Mr. Boffi’s testifying because this was not a domestic violence case, no charges had every been brought against Bryan Ranger for domestic violence and no one ever witnessed physical abuse by Bryan Ranger against his wife, Judy Ranger; the prosecution still wanted to make a case about the power of control and domestic violence. Judge Spinetta overruled Cater’s objection and Boffi was allowed to be questioned after stating his long list of accomplishments, experience and qualifications.
The prosecution flew Boffi in to Crescent City, at taxpayers expense, where he arrived late. His testimony was not concluded by the end of Day 5, so he has to stay over in our fair city and be first up on Wednesday morning, Day 6. When Connie Morrison, a member of the local taxpayers association complained to the Board of Supervisors during her three minute public comment a couple months ago, about all the money that is being spent on this case and having Bryan Ranger locked up for four years, no one considered all the money that was being spent by the prosecution’s side. In my rough guesstimate of monies spent so far, we’re probably looking at several million dollars and climbing. Boffi is being reimbursed for his expenses but otherwise is donating his testimony which was good to hear.
Next expert witness: Traci Dona Conner, is a registered nurse for 11 years, with 10 years as a SART (Sexual Abuse Response Team) examiner. Although she has attended seminars in her field, she has not taught any and has never published. However, Defense Attorney Cater, did not object and the court declared the witness qualified and I’m thinking, Oh Boy! Finally something juicy. But, no. She wasn’t there to say she met or examined any of the Ranger children because she hadn’t. She was there to explain why a SART exam would not always be conducted on sexual survivors.
Here’s the skinny: She’s worked in the sex unit for the past six years at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Humboldt County. The process involved with sexual abuse is started when they get a phone call from law enforcement. The victim is brought in along with anyone from family or a friend to render emotional support. Two nurses conduct the exam together. There’s a special place at St. Joe’s where the exam’s are conducted. They take an oral history first. Then they collect forensic evidence. They use cotton tip swabs and wipe the body and submit what they collect to the crime lab.
Typically they are looking for semen, saliva, hair or anything that would be questionable.
Question from Prosecutor Joyce Blair: Do they do an internal exam if the survivor has no memory of the event?
Answer: Yes, they do with adult survivors, but no, they try not to insert a speculum with special lighting into a sexual survivor of rape in a girl under 14 years old because it’s traumatic.
Huh? If you break a bone, that’s traumatic. But you have to get the bone set. That’s traumatic but necessary. If one is raped, that’s traumatic, but doesn’t it make sense that an internal exam would be mandatory… traumatic or not?
Next the witness explained why a SART exam is not always done by describing the difference between “acute” and “non-acute.”
Timing is everything. Acute means that an exam is conducted within 72 hours and this is the prime time. Non-acute is anything greater than 72 hours. The most time between the event and an exam is about three weeks because any biological evidence they could have been collected would most likely be gone. Showers wash away evidence. The area is highly vascularized which means that there are lots of blood vessels internally which promote quick healing. Tiny scratches and scrapes heals within days.
Then the witness dispelled some of the myths about being able to tell if a girl was a virgin because the hymen was or was not intact.
At least her testimony seemed to answer the question previously referred to as sloppy police work about not ordering a SART exam.
However, it doesn’t explain why Mercy lied and kept secret having sexual intercourse with Marcus Nash when she was 14-16 years old and he was over 40. Had she told the truth and submitted to an exam, then there would be proof positive who’s semen was inside of her. Her lie was telling the dependency court that Marcus was like a brother to her when she knew darn well he was much more. Despite phone records proving they talked much more frequently than she let on, Judge Follett believed her. Here’s where the discrepancies start mounting up.
The court has now heard from five Ranger kids. Four of them testified that they understood the difference between the truth and a lie. Four of them testified that they ate primarily oatmeal and canned vegetables. Their ages: 21, 19, 18, 17 and 10. In addition to the four children relating this, two adoptive mothers confirmed that that’s what they were told by these children and parroted the same thing; oatmeal and canned vegetables.
Witness Erica Moore testified because Mercy lived with her for 30 days from late January to late February 2012. She believed Mercy when she served the young lady a SALAD and Mercy said that she never eaten a salad at home. Also, she thought Mercy came directly to her home after the event of December 29, 2011. Mercy did not tell her she spent the first 30 days with Sasha and Earl Upton before staying with her. So, when Mercy would wake up at night, every night with night terrors and screaming and hearing her slowly relate the sexual abuse by her father, Bryan Ranger, Erica Moore believed it. When asked if she heard about Marcus Nash, she replied, “I don’t remember.”
Erica contacted law enforcement and Child Welfare Services. Erica Moore is a teacher, and therefore a mandated reporter. However, after 30 days, Mercy was taken from her home because Social Worker, Georgia England, told Erica she was too emotionally involved.
Let’s look at what I would call discrepancies or lies: (NOTE: the 17 year old Ranger boy told me this outside of court)Social Worker, Georgia England, did not take any pictures on December 29, 2011 of the contents of the refrigerator, freezer or cupboards, nor did she take any in subsequent follow-up visits. Further, the 17 year old said they didn’t eat oatmeal every day. Often they would have pancakes or eggs and bacon. As far as meats, they ate turkey, chicken and fish. Lunches included sandwiches made with bread and luncheon meat. He told me one of his sisters liked to make “ants on a log.” He described it as celery with peanut butter and raisins on top. But concluded that his mom’s oatmeal was delicious.