monster

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I spent a good six straight hours today, sitting propped up at the laptop, either editing or writing or researching agents or reviewing information for the book. My derriere is killing me! In one of my searches, I ran across this video of the current Assistant Attorney General arguing an appeal for reconsideration by the 9th Circuit of Michael Apelt’s successful grant of a new trial last year. It is stomach turning to listen to the sympathy argued by the other side, now, nearly thirty years later, escalated to claims of his father being a Nazi rapist, Michael being product of a rape, his being tied up and locked in the basement, blah blah blah. I have no doubt that most, if not all, of these “facts” as she states them, came from the murderer himself.

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I’m reminded of Jodi Arias–her claims of her victim escalating further and further from anal rape to pedophilia, which all were argued and allowed in court with a straight face. And yet people think these murderers don’t get “fairly treated”. Please.

Pardon the interruption there, I had to go excuse myself to pour a big fat glass of wine to deal with the crap I’ve waded through today. I do like the way the Judges handled the arguments though, for the most part. It was easier watching this, knowing the outcome (appeal overturned). I mean, I could be sitting here right now, knowing that monster was prepping for a new trial, which I would have to sit through and testify at AGAIN. And yes, I did appreciate it greatly when the Judge on the left referred to Michael Apelt as just that:  a monster.

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I found it interesting that the female Judge (and the one on the left), both indicated that all of these “poor little abused boy” (yes I can say that in quotes because I don’t believe it at all–poverty yes, abuse, no. I mean no one knows what makes a sociopath but I do know plenty of people who grew up with abuse and abject poverty who did not end up plotting to kill people and killing them–my husband for one!–sorry for the long parenthetical comment) arguments can split both ways. Meaning a jury or Judge could see that as evidence of “what created the monster” as that Judge said OR evidence to be more lenient. Nevertheless, the facts remain–the plotting, the execution, the cover up, the brutality. Hard to mitigate, but they sure are trying. What’s next? His Dad killed Jesus?

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poor little abused monster

So, IF you are so inclined and I know many of you are in terms of viewing legal dynamics, it’s kind of an interesting hour to watch. Here’s the video, direct from Pasadena:

 

It’s been a super productive day. I’ve not even showered. I woke up thinking it was Saturday and glad I had gathered groceries, as I like staying in here over the weekends when everyone else is out and about. I did my outing last evening, when I went to a new Korean spa and had this oldish Korean woman take out all of her frustrations on my skin during a scrub. Let’s just say, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience I’ve had. I cheated on my regular spa, Olympus, to check out a different one and I regretted it almost immediately. But my skin is super soft nonetheless and it was good to get out, even if it was raining. I picked up some things at an Asian grocery store and made myself a damn good poached cod dinner. Then I slept like a baby. I was so glad to wake up and realize I have one more full day! I’m in Heaven here, literally Heaven.

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I poached the beans and oyster mushrooms first in spiced milk, then poached the cod in the same and made a little lemon butter shallot sauce for on top. Yum-it was as good as a restaurant if I do say so myself-and basically a one pot meal! Ok, two.

Ok I’ll leave you with a snippet of some writing I worked on today. I hope it’s not a repeat as I’m doing a ton of editing right now. But anyway, here it is…some hard walks down memory lane. Again, the wine. With dedication to the friend in Santa Barbara who I mention here, who serendipitously called me today wanting to connect.

Cheers.

This was terrifying to me. Cindy was always my rock. I had never seen her like this before for so long. She seemed to be getting worse, instead of better. I’d experienced those feelings myself though, so I knew exactly what she was describing. My own breakdown had snapped me in half three years earlier, and I was only just stabilizing. I’d had a severe panic attack on an airplane headed to visit a friend in Santa Barbara, hoping the trip would cheer me up from a recent hard breakup. Consumed with claustrophobia, I’d demanded to be let off the plane, as it was taxiing toward the runway. In this day and age, I’d be arrested for my behavior, which was completely out of control even to me. I was a psychiatric nurse at the time and had no idea what was happening.

I made it to Santa Barbara but still wasn’t myself. I was also pretending. I found myself walking along the beach with my friend feeling trapped and claustrophobic because there were a few clouds in the sky. It was a terrifying time, which climaxed with the psych nurse being hospitalized in a psych hospital briefly a few months later. It took me several years of all kinds of therapies to work myself out of that nightmare. I knew first hand how these things take time to build, then more time to recover from, but I was still terrified seeing it mirrored in my big sister. I was desperately afraid of losing her, losing her strength. She was my everything.

I had found my footing for the most part by the time Cindy started to tumble, but it was incredibly distressing nonetheless.  I had developed some skills by then to help navigate her, and for the first time in our lives, I moved into Big Sister mode.

 

digging in to the trial

I woke up from a dream where I left my purse precariously on a table while I went to dance, came back and my wallet, alone, had been opened but all the money and credit cards taken. Then I looked back on the table and there was everything “taken” neatly stacked. I thought “of course it’s still there” then went looking for the rest of my purse and my cellphone. It was a big party so I helped myself to a drink and snack and a dance while Pharell played the drums on the stage – knowing i would find my cellphone.
Went back out to the table where the African ladies were selling their wares – where I’d left it – and of course they had saved my cellphone in their cash lockbox knowing the person would come for it. And I did.

Then I opened the blinds to this vista and to the left clear snowcapped mountains. Life is good.

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I started digging in to the trial transcripts yesterday and writing about it. Last year I did mostly reading of the entire trial (and investigation and…) but little writing about it. It’s time.

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my living space split in to relaxing and work space

Here is a snippet from last night:

She delivered her opening statement in true Cathy Hughes style with a soft demeanor and clear, organized, detailed information. The jurors hung on her every word.

She began using Michael’s own words from the bizarre message they’d crafted in poorly translated English on Cindy’s answering machine.

“Mr. Villareal, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, hear what I have to talk. I’m going to tell you about the death of Cynthia Estelle Monkman Apelt. She died on December 23, 1988, just two days before Christmas.

She was murdered. She was murdered just one day after a $300,000 life insurance policy insuring her life became effective and just one day after another separate, additional $100,000 life insurance policy was delivered to her home.

She was murdered just one day before she was going to fly to Illinois to spend Christmas with her family. It was also her intent during that trip to discuss the insurance policies with her father.

She was murdered by her husband, by this man who is sitting right here with earphones on. His name is Michael Apelt.”

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Then from my father’s testimony:

Q: When was the next time that you heard anything about Cindy?

A: We.., we talked to Kathy early the next morning and she had not heard from her and could not contact her. And then I tried to call her at home.

My father went on to explain how he’d left a message that morning.

Cathy took him right after that in to funeral arrangements, Michael and Rudi attending the funeral and their behavior. She finished her examination of my father showing him a photograph of Cindy asking him if he could identify the person in the picture.

A: Yes, I can. That’s Cindy.

Q: And is that how Cindy looked around the time she died?

A: The last I saw her she did, yes, uh-huh.

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on a break yesterday I painted some highlights in to my hair — kitchen beautician style

 

And now something from my writing this morning:

I thought carefully about what to wear that day. Not because I had not seen Michael Apelt in a year and a half, not because I was going to perform a serious task in a crowded courtroom. Not because I would be photographed. I considered this decision for one reason: the jury. I knew that I was the closest possible opportunity for them to see Cindy alive and that I would be, at least in some of their minds, a representation of her.
I knew that the defense would, at least on some level, be smearing her reputation via their client. He had already doled out statements in interviews that my sister was entangled with Drug Lords, that she had been a serious drug user including injecting herself and that she had basically been a slut before marrying him. I knew the truth and needed to represent her as she was—an educated, clean cut professional raised humbly in an upper middle class home.
I chose an outfit from the Units collection that was popular in the 80’s– tunics, skirts and slacks with wide elasticized gathers of fabric that scrunched at the waist. We all had them. I chose my pink top, periwinkle blue skirt and patterned cummerbund with simple grey pumps. I wore my shoulder length blond hair down and lightly curled with my usual bangs. It was important to me to look professional yet approachable and attractive and modern, just as Cindy was. I finished my look with a pair of handmade ceramic blue and grey earrings I’d gifted Cindy from an art fair.
As I applied my makeup that morning I thought “well this mascara won’t make it through the day”.
I walked in to the courtroom following my parents’ testimony shoulders back, chin high and felt my serious but not angry or afraid demeanor. I glanced briefly at Michael Apelt looking very different than the last time I’d seen him, was sworn in and took the witness stand. I wasn’t afraid. I had a job to do and I was ready to do it.

(as a footnote I will add, compared to today’s trials such as the absolute worst, the smearing of victim Travis Alexander, trashing of my sister’s name was very mild. That behavior has escalated out of control now — victim blaming/trashing–and something I’d like to be involved in doing something about–my sister’s killers were allowed very little leeway in this regard in trial which is how it SHOULD BE)

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And now, back at it. Hope you are all enjoying a beautiful Sunday.

 

diving in

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Happy Saturday Morning from the gorgeous Northwest! A beautiful sunny day here to wake up to after an interrupted night of sleeping. I crashed at around 11:30 reading Juan Martinez’ book in bed and I guess it was haunting me as I woke up again at around 3:30 and read more for another couple of hours then crashed again until 9.  That’s the beauty of being on no one’s time but your own, you can do these kinds of things and not bat an eye. I kind of like being up in the middle of the night when the world is dark and silent anyway, speaking of bats. 😉

A passage in Juan’s book really struck me so I dog-eared it to share here:

“The highlight of the 48 Hours interview was the assertion that she intended to take the witness stand and testify at trial. That told me that she was confident in her public speaking abilities and that she believed she was persuasive enough to make the charges go away just by telling her story. She was masterful in front of the camera, playing the part of someone who couldn’t have committed this murder. The way she could look straight at the camera lens and answer the interviewer’s questions with apparent sincerity was impressive. She clearly wasn’t going to be intimidated.

“I don’t believe that I am going to be convicted, she confidently told 48 Hours Maureen Maher, just as she had advised the interviewer from Inside Edition. “I don’t think that I’m going to spend one day in prison.”

I guess this stuck out to me so distinctly because of what I’m reading on our own trials. I spent much of yesterday combing through the extra materials I’d picked up at Cathy Hughes’ before driving up here. I had two full boxes from last year but thought I’d just take a look. She was kind to remove any terrible photographs that I might inadvertently run in to.

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I was shocked to see how lucky I was in what I grabbed because I opened one file that contained two kind of brief packets of interviews (I have thousands of pages of interviews). In that folder I found something I’d really wanted to lay my eyes on: the actual interviews at the time when both the men were arrested. I jumped to the end to see what this was because frankly I don’t have the time or interest in reading more of their made up bullshit that is in every interview for the two weeks prior to their arrest. The one that really steamed me was the German speaking burglary detective brought in for translation who clearly had sympathy for them and even put in his own personal observation that all three of the killing trio were telling the truth (he had to eat those words pretty quickly, but still).

It was fascinating to read the trap that was set for each of the brothers as the detective make a sharp about face in the curiosity portion of the questioning to the accusing portion.

Like Arias though, especially with Michael who I believe was always the mastermind and true malignant sociopath, they both didn’t flinch. Michael was cocky,demanding to be arrested so he could speak with a Judge who would most certainly agree and set him free. The arrogance oozes off the page as their violence is shoved in their faces and never ceases even when they are handcuffed. Since that day 1/6/1989, neither has seen the light of day outside incarceration. Good. That is satisfying also to reflect on.

I’ve said this before and will again: SOCIOPATHS ARE NOT EASY TO PROSECUTE. Even seasoned prosecutors like Martinez and Cathy Hughes say that and they aren’t kidding or exaggerating!

They almost and do get away with murder! Murder convictions are hard fought and that is all over Martinez’ book as he prepared for this trial. So when people talk about how the “government” has all the cards and blah blah blah it slays me. Death penalty cases are the hardest–high profile the most arduous ! It is NOT easy to get a sophisticated killer their just sentence for many reasons not the least of which, their lack of conscience and really emotion or fear at all, makes them very formidable all the way up to the handcuffs (and beyond which you will read in my book).

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It’s so fascinating to be reading Martinez’ book along side these twenty five plus year old documents though. So much is written about diagnosing personality disorders and when you start to compare them to each other it’s like they were molded from the same cookie cutter–their methods and robotic ways of being coupled with high degrees of intelligence and sophistication. Yet 18 years post conviction, we taxpayers spent over 10 million dollars for their supporters to attempt to prove Cindy’s killers are mentally retarded. Mark my words, had Jodi Arias received the death penalty, we’d be paying for that argument for her too somewhere down the line. But I digress…more on that topic to come.

 

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I’m finally kicking in to productivity-have an appointment with my writing coach and editor next week up by the Canada border so I’ll get to take a little road trip, moved my desk space around and created a new more ergonomic setup which I love, copied some pictures of Cindy from my printer to have around me (can’t believe I forgot those unless they are in one of my boxes I’ve not dug through yet), listened to some Juan Martinez interviews online (Vinnie Politan’s is the best),  read and reworked several of my chapters to send to the editor, read several hundred pages of documents and managed to make myself a delicious dinner in my kitchenette. Oh and I also changed the font on this blog as people were having a hard time reading it–is this better? I have a huge screen so kind of hard for me to tell. Please let me know if I need to tweak it again as that’s so frustrating!

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It’s Saturday and gorgeous outside so I’m guessing most of this area is just that–outside. Which makes me think other than taking a little walk later, I’ll stay in and on my groove today. I have everything I need and mostly this view.

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Yes I’m reading Juan’s book kind of slowly on purpose. It’s become a security blanket for me in an odd way. I’m feeling a camaraderie with Juan while reading it as I dive in the same darkness and remotely, he’s supporting me through his book. Most of you know I’ve met Juan Martinez many times and he’s been nothing but kind and warm to me as well as genuinely interested in me and our case. I have a special place in my heart for him. He’s one of the good guys.

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sociopathic cross

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Good morning from Edmonds. It’s a beautiful drizzly day here today. Most people don’t understand why anyone would love a rainy day, people from the Northwest anyway. In Arizona we have sunshine most days of the year. We crave clouds and precipitation. I’d be ok with it if it rained here most days this month. It also keeps me cozy inside and helps motivate me to work.

I hit the ground running last year but this time it’s different. I’m a little resistant and sluggish. So I decided to work at my pace and by that I mean get something accomplished each day but it doesn’t always have to be writing. I’ve got lots of reading and researching yet to do.

Yesterday afternoon, I made it through the entire cross examination of Michael Apelt by the brilliant Cathy Hughes. I wish I could put the entire 128 pages in my book, it’s that stunning to read in terms of her skill as a cross examiner. I recently had lunch with Cathy and she said that was really what she felt was her greatest skill as an attorney. I’d agree.

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It’s hard to pin down a sociopath. They will be slipperier than you could ever imagine or foresee. You kind of catch them more in hindsight and distance with some reflection. That was certainly clear with Cindy. He had her in his sights from Day One (as well as numerous other women) so he started the gaming then. She was questioning things but privately in her diary. With him, she was like a little wooden marionette and he was pulling the strings. I remember feeling scared and annoyed at the time when I saw her act like that. I had absolutely no idea what she, or we, were dealing with. Now when I see that kind of glazed over behavior with someone who is in a new relationship–not the in love glaze–the sort of masked affect and tension beneath the surface trying not to be seen kind of glaze, I feel very triggered. I want to yank them as far away from that person as possible.

The truth is though, there are all kinds of personality disordered people out there–from Narcissists to full blow Sociopaths–and the vast majority are not plotting to kill anyone. Many are just playing in the power fields and enjoying the games of manipulation. When something this drastic has happened in your life, one of many legacies left is a state of over reaction to this kind of behavior. Try dating in that kind of swamp. It was pure Hell.

Ok, back to the cross examination. I wore out a highlighter yesterday marking lines. I will share now one of many many exchanges between Cathy Hughes and Michael Apelt that are just mind blowing. It reminds me so much of Jodi Arias on the stand squirming and wiggling under the direct laser of Juan Martinez. Now Cathy’s style is much softer and less aggressive. Imagine as you read this, a very feminine woman with a pleasant face and smile, wearing my sister’s earrings, gradually gaining speed in her cadence but not raising her voice much as she nails this killer to his own cross.

This particular passage has to do with the alibi he’d established at a restaurant/bar (the one where he met Cindy)–going there for Happy Hour and tipping $7 on a $3 beer to be remembered, slipping out to kill Cindy, then returning and “waiting for her” to show up then finally enjoying a post kill celebratory dinner with his killing companions using her credit card.This is about the various stories he told about what he did during the time he thought she was “missing” (7ish to 10pm) and how his behavior didn’t quite line up along with stories he told from jail to another woman he was still manipulating. Sociopaths never get normal human behavior quite right so there is often a lot of cleanup and explanation making on the other end. We saw this for 18 days with Jodi Arias on the stand, this exact cut-from-the-same-sociopathic-cloth style of excuse making.

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Q:  For three Hours you were in there, in Bobby McGees?

A:  I don’t know about the time. All I know is that I called at 10:00 because I didn’t know what was going on. Cindy hadn’t come.

Q: And you left a message on the machine?

A:  No. I hate messages on the answering machine.

Q:  You have had several conversations with Kea Amara since you have been in the jail isn’t that true Mr. Apelt?

A: That is true.

Q:  And you told her on more than one occasion that you left a message on the machine, isn’t that true?

A:  Sometimes I don’t understand Kea on the telephone and sometimes I may give wrong answers when I talk to her.

Q:  Didn’t you tell her that you left a message and you said, “Wife, wife are you there? Pick up, pick up.”?

A:  Sometimes when I talk to her it was people who are so loud in the background that sometimes I gave her wrong answers when I talked to her.

Q: Did you say that or not Mr. Apelt?

A:  I cannot remember.

Q:  You know that the conversations are tape recorded don’t you Mr. Apelt?

A: That is true. I had learned that later.

Q: And you have copies of those tapes, don’t you?

A: That is true.

Q:  And you have read them,have you not?

A:  Yes.

Q: And isn’t it on the transcript that that is what you told her?

A: That is true, but as I already said, there were several conversations where I didn’t understand because on the telephone it’s very difficult for me to maintain and English conversation.

Q: But you did tell her that, didn’t you Mr. Apelt?

A: Yes, I agree.

He used this “I don’t understand English well” excuse over and over, both in his manipulations of Cindy and during the investigation/trial. Yet in another cross examination, using a German interpreter, (which he requested) he answers quickly and accurately in English admitting he has a hard time responding in German now as it’s become his second language. Just after claiming he doesn’t understand English very well. It’s mind numbing the loopdeloo’s they take people on. If it’s not recorded in real time you can see how one would question if they just didn’t hear what they said correctly. This is the sociopaths’ greatest weapon–disarming honest people with their ability to reconstruct reality moment by moment–usually playing victim at the same time demanding their prey take responsibility. This is exactly what we saw between Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias.

This dynamic is all over Cindy’s journal and in conversations she had with me. By that time she was a bug caught in his web and any way she tried to free herself got her stuck even deeper. And her one secret weapon she couldn’t access at the time was her own screaming intuition that knew something was wrong. Which he wiped out with his huge bear claw of words each and every time. Pretty astounding for someone who claimed they didn’t have good command of the English language.

And my sister was smart. Not all his women were, like Kea Amara, but my sister was.

She was smart but vulnerable and one open crack is all they need to slip through.