Monday, November 30, 2015

Cops' story doesn't pass smell test

Cops' story doesn't pass smell test



If you think the story about Osama bin Laden's killing kept changing, that plotline was rock-solid when compared to the Souderton police and their ever-"evolving" tale of what happened the first time that 9-year-old Skyler Kauffman encountered the lowlife creep who eventually (allegedly) killed her:

But a day after laying out that disturbing account, Montgomery County authorities backpedaled, saying their description of the April 18 incident was exaggerated in documents used to charge James Lee Troutman, a 24-year-old neighbor, in Skyler's death.


But the account presented in the probable-cause affidavit differs in significant ways from the report Souderton police originally filed, Reynolds said.

First, Reynolds said, the original report makes no mention of Troutman's locking the girls in his apartment. In fact, investigators conceded, it was Troutman who let them out after they used his bathroom.

As for Troutman's offering to show his "bird," the girls actually told police he said "pet bird," said two law enforcement sources close to the investigation who declined to be mentioned by name.

In other words, nothing to see here....

But wait a minute.

First of all, the Inquirer's story is entirely hung on sources -- both unnamed law-enforcement types and the mayor of Souderton -- who say they've read the police report from the April 18 encounter -- yet the authorities are refusing to make public the one thing that could go a long way toward clearing things up, the actual report.

Why not?

Second of all, what would be the rationale, legal or otherwise, for "exaggerating" the first incident in the murder affidavit, when the case that James Troutman actually killed Skyler on Monday seems about as airtight -- confessions, blood, etc. -- as it could possibly be? It makes absolutely no sense.

Third of all, and this may be the most important point: I'm not a legal expert, but in admitting they submitted a sworn affidavit with false information -- which is in essence what is being claimed here -- are we not talking about a case of police and/or prosecutorial misconduct? If nothing else, they seem to be providing an opening to Troutman's defense attorney (who can claim now, "What else aren't they telling the truth about?")

This issue needs to be put to rest. There's no valid justification at this point for keeping the April 18 police report under wraps. And someone -- maybe someone a little bit further removed from things than Montgomery County DA Risa Vetri Ferman -- should get to the bottom of what really happened that day.

I want to be clear: The main story here is the utter depravity of James Troutman, but unfortunately the actions and now the explanations put out there by police and prosecutors are too bizarre for the citizens of Souderton and Montgomery County to ignore. The latest version of this tale is not passing the smell test.

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Will Bunch
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