We continue to hear from readers about our story, "Phantom Murder," about a Peoria day-care operator who was charged with first-degree murder in the tragic 2007 death of a four-month-old boy.
People want to know three things:
Do we think that Lisa Randall "got away with it?" How's she doing now? And, could prosecutors refile the case down the road?
As for the first question, hell no, she didn't get away with anything. This was not, repeat not, a case of a "legal technicality" freeing a child murderer.
Two, we haven't spoken with Randall since shortly after her case abruptly ended, but have a notion that she's doing okay, especially with the support of her wonderful family (great kids).
We'll get to the third question--about the possibility of a refiling--in a sec.
The piece described how Randall, a mother of five (and grandmother of seven) with no criminal record, for a time faced the death penalty in the death of little DIllon Uutela, who slipped into unconsciousness at Randall's home about an hour after his mother dropped him off there.
The official cause of death listed by the Office of the Maricopa County Medical Examiner was "blunt-force trauma of the neck and head," and deemed it a homicide.
All that turned turned out to be wrong.
Randall would spend months in jail before a county judge allowed her to post bond (with electronic monitoring). She lost her home, and her marriage broke up along the way.
In April 2010, County Attorney Andrew Thomas resigned to run for Arizona Attorney General (he lost to Tom Horne in a closely contested primary).
His interim successor, Rick Romley, soon decided to drop the death penalty.
Then, on July 20, prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss all charges against Randall, but they asked Judge Mike Kemp to allow them to have the option of refiling the case at a later date.
That leads to the answer to the third question listed above:
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Judge Kemp dismissed the murder case in such a way that it cannot be refiled--ever,
End of case.
And so it ended like this--with justice for Lisa Randall, and an enduring mystery of how and why the little baby died (read the story if you want to know more).