Jewish World Review Oct. 26, 2000 / 27 Tishrei 5761
`I'm not going to go up there and
yell and scream'
COLUMBUS, Ohio | With Franklin County
prosecutors having misplaced the motion by
Patrick Bourgeois asking that he be released
from the prison sentence he was serving for
torturing and killing his 3-year-old son, the
motion went before Judge Nodine Miller
Judge Miller -- the Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge who had
already released the other killer, Tracy Lynn Bratton, Patrick Bourgeois'
girlfriend -- had several options available to her.
She could have informed the prosecutors that for some reason they had failed
to file any response at all to the motion asking that Bourgeois be released
early from prison.
This is an option that Franklin County Prosecuting Atty. Ron O'Brien, and his
first assistant in the criminal division, Ed Morgan, have pointed out to us.
O'Brien and Morgan have told us it is not uncommon for a judge to remind
prosecutors that they have failed to respond to a motion -- and to give them
the opportunity to do so.
Judge Miller told us that the prosecutors are just making excuses after the
fact. She correctly points out that they had months to tell her whether they
objected to Bourgeois being released -- and they didn't do it.
(The prosecutors indicate now that Bourgeois' motion to get out was most
likely lost in their office. Morgan, who was in charge of the case, said he
might have been on vacation when Bourgeois' motion arrived at the
Judge Miller had another option, of course -- she could have simply turned
down Bourgeois' request for supershock probation.
After all, the judge was aware of what Bourgeois and Bratton had done to
3-year-old P.J. Bourgeois -- how they had beaten him, bitten deeply into his
flesh, dragged him around by his ears, bound his legs and tied his wrists
behind his back, and left him alone to choke to death on his own blood. She
was aware the prosecutors had charged Bratton and Bourgeois with the
relatively light offense of involuntary manslaughter -- allowing the two to
escape murder charges that could have put them in prison for life.
The judge had sent them to prison for 7 to 25 years -- and neither Bratton
nor Bourgeois had even served enough time to appear before a parole board.
But they had asked Judge Miller to let them out on her own authority, under
the portion of the law known as supershock probation.
She could have said no -- she could have said that, because of the nature of
the crime and the helplessness of the victim, early release from prison was not
Judge Miller couldn't claim to be unaware of just what Bourgeois and Bratton
had done to the child. As a matter of fact, after she had sent them to prison,
she had met at Children's Hospital with medical workers who were upset by
what they considered the light punishment the killers had received -- and by
the possibility they would eventually be released early.
One of the doctors who was at the meeting -- Dr. Brian Seifferth, who was
working at Children's Hospital at the time -- told us: "My impression was that
[Judge Miller] didn't understand our point. I felt that she just didn't get it.
"I was explaining to her the process of the autopsy. That the cause of death
just could not be accidental.
"I explained to her that what was found in the autopsy was intentional,
significant injuries. My analogy is that if you were to hit an adult with a
baseball bat -- if you were to attack an adult in that way -- you would get the
same kind of physical results that were found in that child's body. That's the
kind of force it takes, to do what was done to him.
"I knew as I was telling this to her that she was going to let [the killers] out. I
could just tell by her response -- or, more to the point, her lack of response.
There was no question in my mind -- they were going to be released from
Dr. Seifferth turned out to be correct. On Sunday we will report what Judge
Miller said in releasing Patrick Bourgeois -- and what Bourgeois' attorney
told us his client's response was.
For now, though -- now that all these facts are available to everyone involved
in the case -- what can be done?
"Nothing," assistant prosecutor Morgan told us.
No recourse at all?
"I'm not going to go up there [to Judge Miller's courtroom] and yell and
scream," Morgan said.
"You have to understand -- I've got other cases before the
JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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