Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jury Duty - Part II, The Evidence

This is a continuation of my first post on my recent jury duty experience. So people ask, how did you know he did it? So here is what I felt was the most convicting evidence.

For every expert witness confirming their belief in something, there was another expert disputing it. I felt sorry for even the most educated and convinced witness because the opposing counsel could be quite ruthless in their cross-examination.

The blood evidence for myself was key. The prosecution said that there was no way Nancy could have been alive to enter the distress code into the alarm at 5:52a. The said the evidence in this was the blood. The first shot produced a wound that did not produce a lot of blood. There was an area on her head that was coagulated, which takes some time to occur. This matched a spot on the floor where they believed her head had first fallen. When it was noticed whe was still alive (although unconscious), her head was moved from the initial position, this was after 12-20 minutes from the first shot being fired. She was then shot again in the nasal cavity at very closse range. This second shot produced a very large pool of blood. When the police arrived to the house at about 6:20a there was already a large amount of serum separation in the pool of blood. Something that takes time, a considerable amount of time for the amount of separation that was present in this pool.

The defense brought in another "expert" that came up with another story of how things could have happened but it didn't make sense and the blood did not correlate with their story. The blood evidence and timeline that was presented by the defense was the biggest factor in confirming guilt.

Guns. This family owned tons of guns and Mr. Floren frequented the shooting range. There were guns all over this house, in both vehicles and in dresser drawers. There were guns under each side of the master bed. Nancy's gun was found next to her right hand, as if she had confronted a burglar in the home. The holster her gun was held in was buttoned and placed neatly back under her bed. Suspicious of someone to be so neat when frantically awoken and scared enough to grab her gun to go confront an attacker.

The murder weapon was thought to have been a .22 caliber. Mr. Floren did own guns, lots of them. Over the course of the years I think he bought and sold something like 50. Only one was unaccounted for & it was a .22 caliber gun.

Habits. These people were very safety minded people. They always did a perimeter check before bed, always kept the alarm armed and always locked their doors. People that had known them, their maid and family that had stayed with them and dog sat for them attested to this. Tracy claimed he had quit locking the garage to mudroom door because the jingling of the key would startle Nancy upstairs if she was sleeping. This sounded very suspicious to me considering she would hear the car garage door would be much louder then that and key her into Tracy coming home.

He also said that he would leave the alarm unactivated when he left her alone in the early mornings to go to meetings, again this did not seem right. He also said the garage door to the side yard "might have been unlocked". For a family that seemed very concerned with locking doors this seemed strange. There was a very neat square scored on the garage door glass but not pushed in. It was presented by the defense as a burglar who after scoring reached down and realized the door was unlocked in the first place, suspicious????

Internet History. Over a handful of months before the murder, Tracy had looked at plenty of dating and matchmaking sites including the Craigslist personals. He was looking for a new partner, and was dating someone at the time of his arrest in March. Even over their vacation in Sequim he was looking at Chinese mail order bride sites. Suspicious of someone that was having what he called some of the best weeks of his life with Nancy.

There was a lot of talk about plant pieces found in Tracy Floren's clothes. Many pieces matched what was in the retention field (and no where else) which was on the other side of the fence that was climbed in an escape. Human and dog trackers confirmed the route of escape and took many pictures to show it. Pictures from the day of the crime showed no mowing or herbicide activity along the fence line of the home. Photo's from 2 weeks later showed that the area along the fence was weedwacked and sprayed. The defense said that this occured the weekend the family had returned home in the middle of their trip to Sequim, and that Tracy might have had those same pants on the day of the murder. The prosecution said no way. They said this happened days after the murder (Tracy had not been arrested until 6 months later) when he was trying to explain or cover up evidence.

Overall the crime was just too neat. The scored glass was a very neat square, the house was not ransacked and not even a drawer had appeared to have been opened. There were lots of valuables in the office very close to the murder and nothing was touched. The gun holster being so neatly placed back under the bed. Good friends swore Nancy would never confront an attacker, she would hide.

The man that committed this crime was very smart. He did a lot of things to ensure he would not get caught and it was a very well planned crime. I am so thankful that nature played many a roles in confirming his guilt. It would have been a shame if he got a way with such a heinous act of cold blooded murder.

Rest in Peace Nancy Floren, justice was served.

Karma - Lost & Found

So yesterday I put my 13 year old son on a plane on his way to Texas to see his dad. This is the first time I have sent him off to another state alone, scary! Well, last night I got a call from a man in San Diego saying he found an iTouch on a airplane and our # was under home. I explained my son was on the plane and that it must have got left behind. I told him I would be happy to send him some money as a thanks and to cover shipping, he said not to worry about it, "call it karma". What a guy!

I have had many of my own experiences at having lost things found and I have come to find out that there are more good people in the world then bad, and most people I believe want to do the right thing. I was just thinking there are people all across this country that do the right thing and I just don't think we hear enough about the do-gooders in the world.

I have a few examples (please don't judge me on being completely spacey when it comes to keeping track of my stuff!):

I have had my wallet and purse lost a number of times but this is the story that takes the cake. We were in Florida last spring and had a fabulous family trip. We were on our way home, through security and waiting for our plane home. We boarded the plane and it had a quick stop in Indianapolis when my husband checked his voicemail and had a message from his dad saying someone called and said they had one of our bags. Huh, I thought I mentally tracking my stuff I wondered what it was. Well when we landed in Chicago for a plane change I realized what it was. It was my main travel bag with my very important stuff: my wallet w/ both my husbands and my own ID's, my very nice Nikon digital SLR camera (with all of our vacation photo's), my iTouch (this has my life on it), my airplane transfers & my cell phone. My life was in that bag!! Luckily we were able to get new transfers at the airport desk, and we were through security so we were able to make it home without incident and when I got home I got to talk to the lovely lady that found it.

She said she was waiting for a plane when she realized her 3 year old son was going through somebodies bag. He was pulling the wallet apart and happily looking at the Mickey Mouse Disney tickets. She didn't want to leave it with the airport staff because she didn't know who would have access to it so she took it home to Maryland. She ended up sending it to me Fedex and would not even take cash out of my wallet to pay for it. I was so thankful for her help in getting it back to me, I would have been heartbroken to loose all those vacation photos. I did send her a thank you card and some money for a night out on me, but what she did for me was truly priceless.

Another time I had about $500 cash in my wallet because I was hoping to buy a piece of furniture off of Craigslist later in the day. I work at a hospital in Seattle with the methadone clinic right down the street. Needless to say, we get plenty of seedy people that congregate in the area. I went to the Rite Aid across the street to grab some stuff at lunch and kind of spaced and left my wallet (filled with cash) on the counter of the film area. I didn't realize this until later that evening when I was trying to find some cash to get out of the parking garage and realized I had no wallet. Oops! Well, I backtracked and ended up at the Rite Aid where the manager nicely went and retrieved my wallet from the safe, giving me a little warning about keeping that much cash in my wallet at one time. Some nice customer had found it and turned it in to him, saving my day! Not long before that...

I was up at our cabin in a pretty small town called Belfair. I made a grocery run and stopped to fill the tank before we headed to the cabin. Well, I must of left my wallet on the car roof when I was filling up and drove away without moving it. After freaking out for a few days, wondering where it could of gone, I got a big envelope in the mailbox with no return address or anything. In it, was my wallet...with not a dollar or anything else missing. Not even a note was included. Wow!

I just need something to happen so I can return the favor, call it "karma".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jury Duty - Part 1, Jury Selection & The Crime

Wow, I obviously haven't taken on to blogging to terribly much but I thought I would share about my recent experience on jury duty. Parts of this blog are graphic, please be advised before reading -- murder is not a nice subject.

I was called to jury duty on 10/26, no big deal I thought 2 days sitting in a room with hundreds of other potential jurors in the King County Superior Courthouse, then back to my regular work schedule. I had had to do this one other time and that was the outcome, I thought my chances of serving on a real jury were slim. Well after a few batches of jurors were called to go be questioned for a trial, my name came up and I was lucky (?) 3 out of 100 jurors. Walking into the courtroom was interesting and before me in the defendants seat sat an older gentleman (64), a Boeing engineer, who the judge declared was going to be tried for 1st degree murder. Wow, this could be interesting I thought. We learned the defendants name was Tracy Floren & he was being charged with 1st degree murder, the victim was his wife of 24 years, Nancy Floren. When I heard the charges I had an uneasy butterfly feeling in my stomach knowing that the rest of this mans life could be held in the hands of myself & 11 other jurors. But still, what were the chances?

Well, as the week progressed they went through about 160 jurors questioning us on how the trial length (4-6 weeks) would cause a burden on our lives. Most jurors were able to get out of it for this reason, because many people were not lucky enough to have an employer like myself who pays my full wage during jury duty. They also asked us about how we felt about alcoholism, lying, previous experiences of our own with the law that could impact our beliefs of guilt or innocence. We were questioned about our lives and read a list of at least 100 names or so asking if we knew any of them (witnesses).

Finally, after the first week in the courtroom it was decided. There were 16 jurors chosen, 12 which would lay judgment during deliberation and 4 to alternate into deliberation if we were needed. Those 4 alternate jurors were chosen by random numbers being drawn, my lucky #3 was one of them. I would still sit & listen to the trial and follow all the rules of the court, knowing I might be called in if needed for deliberation.

The first week of the trial was intense, I came home exhausted from trying to focus so hard. The prosecution opened up showing us a picture of a very nice, professional looking upper class woman and stated she had been assassinated in cold blood by her husband of 24 years. They were a very neat and orderly, upper class couple. They had no children, but a dog and cat that Nancy adored. They had a beautiful home with extremely well manicured gardens and were almost ready to retire from very good jobs. Why would this happen, why would a gentle & well composed gentleman commit such an act after being married to someone (quite happily it seemed) for so long? The prosecutors said it was because he had been struggling for years with an alcohol problem, and although he had kept it under control for many,many years...he relapsed. He relapsed and knew his wife was on her last straw with his drinking, he had been given his last chance and it failed. This thought led him to picture his life without Nancy and it would be an easier life without Nancy.

Over the course of the next 6 weeks this is what we learned.
Summer, 2007. The couple spent 2 weeks in Sequim, vacationing and breaking ground on their dream home which they were custom building in an area they had been in love with for many years, they were going to retire there. By all accounts it seemed like a nice trip, the did return home to Kent for one night about a week into their vacation to get the plants taken care of and manicure the lawn. After that night they returned to Sequim for the following week. Had many dinners with friends and working hard to get things in order for their new home, including trips to pick out the granite they chose for their counter tops. It sounded like a lovely vacation.

They returned from vacation on September 1, 2007. They picked strawberries from their garden, made dinner & strawberry shortcake and Nancy caught up on some of her favorite shows. She drank wine and they looked over the plans for their new home, he drank vodka in secret and hid the airplane sized bottles in trash. They went to bed.

September 2. He got up early to attend an AA meeting called the Kent Earlybirds which met at 6:30a, he did this regularly. This morning was quite different though. He woke up about 4:30 (he was always an early riser), went and unarmed the alarm to let the dog out. He is thought to have hid in the laundry room and gotten his wife to come downstairs. He hid in the laundry room (between the garage and a main downstairs hallway) and when his wife came down the hall he reached out and shot her from a very close distance into her right temple with a .22 caliber gun. She fell to the ground, with a gunshot into her brain...but she didn't die. It is unknown what he did next but it appeared that after about 12-20 minutes he must have realized she was still alive. At that point he lifted her head up and shot her directly up the left nostril at very close range, this finished off the job.

Tracy needed an alibi. So, he left his house and went to Starbucks which was closed. He crossed the parking lot to Circle K and got a cup of coffee and a danish (this was viewed on surveillance video at 5:18 or so). He then returned home. He would have left his car somewhere close to a retention field that his housed backed up to and walked to the house. He verified his wife was truly dead and at that point, he put in an emergency code into their home alarm system, triggering a silent alert to the alarm company. This alarm signal went off at 5:52am. After triggering the alarm he left out of a side garage door, through the yard, and climbed his back fence placing him into the retention field. Here there was some of the only hard evidence in the case, some earplugs that Tracy kept all over his house and used whenever he went shooting.

6:20am: Tracy was first seen at the AA meeting that started at 6:30a. He claimed to have gotten there at 5:45a, but all evidence pointed to 6:20a. He stayed for the meeting and then left to return home, returning home about 7:50. It was when he arrived at home that his life changed forever, that's when the police entered the picture.

This will be a long post, and I will finish it later. I can say this was a big experience for my and I am glad that I got to take part in it. One thing I learned is that murder cases do not happen like on Law & Order.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 4th 2009

Oh how we love the 4th of July. This is one of my favorite holidays. It's low key, not a lot of commitments are required and there tends to be fun festivals going around all over. This year we were able to head over to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island & then spend a couple days on Orcas Island. In Friday Harbor we stayed in our fancy "glamping" tents at Lakedale Resort. This was our 3rd year there and it is a great place to stay and we always enjoy it. On Orcas we roughed it at the oldest hotel on the island in downtown Eastsound (which is only about 6 square blocks). We hiked around Cascade Lake one day & Mountain Lake (up Mt. Constitution) the following day, the islands really don't change much with time. Very much as they were when we used to go up as kids. Caleb got to fish on Cascade Lake for a couple hours (although, we made him catch and release) so he was a happy camper. Anyways, this was a great long weekend for us. We had smores, bubble contests, campfire dinner, fireworks, fishing and fun. We even enjoyed a great wine tasting. We are lucky to have the islands and whenever I go I come back envying small town life.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Orlando, Disney World here we come... 2009

After Clearwater Beach we ventured back over to Orlando where we met Cory's Mom, Dad & brother Jordan for the remaining week. We had a blast. WOW, Florida is so incredibly BIG. Everything is built around the tourist industry and I think you could spend a month there and still not run out of things to do. There is something to do everywhere you go. Put-put, arcades, amusement parks, water parks, shopping malls. Everything is huge! I would love to go back but it would be in February not the prime of April spring break. I had thought we were in a recession. The word on the street was that no one was traveling, but I think everyone that was going out of town for spring break must of headed to Orlando. LONG lines & HUGE crowds were everywhere. We had planned to spend 5 days at the Disney Parks, that should be plenty of time right? NOT!!! Do you realize Disney World is the largest recreational resort in the world, containing four theme parks; two water parks and so much more. It is roughly the size of San Francisco. Just figuring out how to get around can be a challenge. This is our second Disney vacation with Cory's parents and we enjoy it so much. We are able to break off for some grown up time (we had the most fabulous dinner out at a Brazilian restaurant one night) and the kids are able to get some great one on one time with grampa & grandma.

Orlando was a blast. I think we rode enough rides to last us a very long time. Avery was a trooper and was continuously impressing her brother by going on rides like Space Mountain all by herself (after standing on her tippy-toes with a very high pony tail of course!). Avery also got to get made into a very real princess at the Bippity Boppity Boutique in Cinderella's castle, so sweet. While me & the boys went to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Grandma Sue took Avery for the to Disney World for the whole day and let her call the shots. They had SO much fun and Avery came back with tons of memories, she was particularly excited about Mickey's Philharmonic Orchestra. She was so stinking cute talking about her exciting day with Grandma!

Caleb got to ride all the huge roller coasters over at Busch Gardens (that's where the real hard core roller coasters were). Busch Gardens was packed, but it really is an awesome park. He also got to sit on a live alligator at Gatorland (it's amazing how quick they can get those kids on and off there for $5). He was also able to spend the majority of a day over at Epcot with Grampa & Grandma Rigtrup. He had a great time and was happy not to have to do some of the little kid stuff with Avery.

One of our favorite things of the whole trip was our day at Discovery Cove. This place is so incredible. They limit the number of guests to 1000 a day and everything is all inclusive. We were able to swim and meet with dolphins (amazing) and manta rays. There were also huge Aviary's & tropical lagoons as well as a huge lazy river to float down. This was another highlight of the trip. This is a trip we will remember for a long time and I am so glad the some of the Rigtrups were able to enjoy it with us. So much happened on this very week and I wish I could post it all. Memories that we'll have for our lifetime!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Clearwater Beach 2009

So this is a VERY delayed post. Last April we were able to snatch up some very cheap tickets round trip to Florida. This was a particularly happy moment because from January to April Seattle weather was awful. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest I do not usually mind the rain, but this year it just wouldn't stop. Yippee, Yippee, Yay -- sunshine here we come! We spent 9 days on the sunny East Coast (farther then any of us has ever been). We ventured over to the gulf coast for a couple days to a lovely little island called Clearwater Beach. I heard that if you go to Clearwater Beach super at sunrise the water is so clear you can see right through to the bottom. Awesome! This place fit our meaning of "vacation". We got to hang out on the soft sand and play at the beach for hours on end in the hot sun. We got to be lazy and have nice dinners out (our favorite by far was "Frenchys" an outdoor beach restaurant with great live music) and walk along the shore lazily at night. Caleb even climbed up a coconut tree and picked his very own coconut, something the person he sat on the plane ride over told him to try. We stayed at the Marriott Suites right on the water, this was a treat!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day to You!

                Have I mentioned our family loves holidays?  Any sort really, we love to have a good reason to mix it up.  Well, late last night my hubby reminded me about St Patrick's Day  & at 11pm I made a last minute run for Corned Beef, Carrots, Potatoes & Cabbage to make for a festive dinner.  Any excuse to cook potatoes with dinner is good for Cory.  I actually remember many years ago my husband sharing with me about the Irish's huge reliance on the potato crop, who knew?   Anyway...

Working 4-10's  my days are long, but tonight I came home to a great little dinner party.  Two very excited kids & a husband that did a fabulous job at organizing our St. Patty's Feast.  It included The Corn Beef mentioned above, green poppy seed muffins (made by Avery & Cory) on our green platter, green peppercorns, green punch & of course Guinness Stout (even if I only took a sip!).  Avery & Caleb made sure everyone had their touch of green on.  4 is the greatest age because they are really getting a huge understanding of the holidays and what they are about.  And it was just a fun little excuse to have a party!