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Girl's savior faces 3rd strike
Waterbury Republican-American ^ | June 19, 2006 | Sean Webby (A.P.)

Posted on 06/19/2006 7:20:18 PM PDT by Graybeard58

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- There is a growing pile of books in Matthew Hahn's cell at Elmwood Correctional complex in Milpitas, Calif. Among Plato dialogues, the Tao Te Ching and "Law for Dummies" is a paperback titled "Martyrs" -- a collection of stories about Christians who sacrificed their lives for their faith.

It was a present from the mother of a young girl, in gratitude for helping bring the girl's molester to justice.

Last year, Hahn, a 26-year-old Los Gatos, Calif., felon with a rap sheet full of residential burglaries, anonymously sent police some stolen photographs -- photos that showed a man molesting a toddler. Using the photographs, police found and arrested John Robertson "Robbie" Aitken. In May, Aitken pleaded no contest to molestation charges and received a 30-year sentence.

But Hahn, who was later arrested for a burglary spree after he turned in the photos, is facing a prison term that could be longer than Aitken's. The latest series of burglaries was Hahn's "third strike," and prosecutors have decided to seek a life sentence. His trial could begin this month.

The conundrum of weighing Hahn's crimes against his good deed has people across the U.S. debating whether he deserves leniency. There have been blog polls, raving CNN hosts, e-mails from Sweden, editorials in Jackson, Miss., radio shows in Canada, and three petition drives calling for leniency.

"Matt is not a career criminal," said Allen Schwartz, Hahn's attorney. "He has a terrible, terrible record. He is a thief and he is a drug addict. All of his previous crimes were from one crime spree. And after he went through the drug rehab, he got caught up again and he is doing it again. What will it take to get this guy's attention? I don't know. But I don't think we should throw this guy on the garbage pile of life."

Assistant District Attorney Dave Tomkins is the senior member of the panel that decides how to charge potential three strikes cases.

He said when the panel made the decision on Hahn's burglary case, it knew about his pivotal role in Aitken's arrest. That, Tomkins said, was one of the reasons he didn't charge Hahn with the specific burglary of the safe that contained the damning photographs.

But they also saw a record of crimes that, while not violent, had the potential to be.

"We see someone with a bunch of residential burglaries and his current case is a bunch of residential burglaries," Tomkins said. "This guy is a career burglar. In my experience, if you take residential burglars off the street, you are cutting the crime rate dramatically.

"But this isn't science. We try to consider everything."

Hahn's supporters say the district attorney's office should be more lenient.

Both the mother of the victim and Aitken's prosecutor Dana Overstreet -- a deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County -- have said they would be willing to testify on Hahn's behalf.

Hahn is also receiving help from people he's never met.

Ginger Davis, a 45-year-old Los Gatos woman who said she was molested as a child, started a petition drive, gathered 100 signatures and sent it to Hahn's lawyer.

"He has so many priors," Davis said. "But I'm not sure how they would put someone behind bars for life when you think of that little girl. I think he saved her life."

Hahn himself is conflicted about what punishment he should receive.

"I sit in my cell and think about the fact that I've hurt people with my crimes," Hahn said. "And I've thought about forgiveness. But finally, I am trying to let go of it, that question. It's in God's hands."

Now the former star student at De Anza College reads philosophy and teaches math to inmates at Elmwood. He said he got high fives and handshakes when they found out what he did. But his record only shows a drug-abusing repeat felon.

In fall 1998, Hahn went on a four-month methamphetamine-fueled spree of burglarizing garages, cars and houses in Saratoga, Calif., according to court records.

When he was caught, he pointed out the places he had burglarized. In one instance, he took guns, ammunition and a safe with $20,000 worth of jewelry and cash from his former Little League coach, Keith Barna, who was away on vacation.

After Hahn was arrested, Barna found his rifles stashed in the closet of Hahn's mortified mother, a Stanford-educated tech engineer.

"He's done a lot of reckless things and it's time for him to be spanked pretty badly," Barna said. "But life? I've got a lot of issues with the overcrowding in our jail system for non-violent offenders."

Los Gatos Police Sgt. Mike Barbieri, who was involved in Hahn and Aitken's arrests, sees both sides.

"You gotta give the guy some credit. He got someone off the street who is pretty bad," he said. "But he's also a pretty prolific thief. It's an interesting question: Does he deserve a break? But I don't think so."

The district attorney's office has indicated that Hahn's help in convicting Aitken may be a mitigating factor in his case and has asked his lawyer to submit it for consideration.

In San Mateo County, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said he asks lawyers for "mitigation packages" -- documented information of good deeds by suspects facing three strikes. He recalled declining to charge three strikes for a suspect who discovered a fire in a jail cell.

Hahn's case comes when there are renewed efforts in the state to reform the three strikes sentencing law that began 12 years ago. For example, two ballot initiatives from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office aim to give judges more flexibility when giving three strikes sentences in nonviolent, less serious crimes.

Said Franklin E. Zimring, a professor of law at the University of California-Berkeley: "He's not violent, yet not inactive either. The question is how to balance these two. My tendency is to give him a break. If I ran for district attorney and all the people who worry about child sex abuse voted for me and all the people who worry about burglary didn't, I think I would get re-elected."


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; US: California
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 06/19/2006 7:20:20 PM PDT by Graybeard58
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To: Graybeard58
Justice measured with mercy.

This will be interesting to follow.

2 posted on 06/19/2006 7:25:45 PM PDT by Thumper1960 (Politicians are like diapers. They need changed often, and for the same reasons.)
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To: Graybeard58

Ah, yeah. I remember this story. Aitken plead no contest? Good, then there is no practical reason to keep Hahn in play.


3 posted on 06/19/2006 7:28:21 PM PDT by Gordongekko909 (I know. Let's cut his WHOLE BODY off.)
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To: Thumper1960

Hold on, I'll link you to the old thread. I'll ping up some people that were on that thread, while I'm at it.


4 posted on 06/19/2006 7:29:01 PM PDT by Gordongekko909 (I know. Let's cut his WHOLE BODY off.)
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To: Graybeard58

if there is ever a reason for a "do-over" on the third strike, this is it.

I hope it's a true turning point for him.


5 posted on 06/19/2006 7:30:13 PM PDT by justche (Let me make something perfectly clear. I never explain myself - Mary Poppins)
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To: LucyT

one we've talked about....


6 posted on 06/19/2006 7:30:53 PM PDT by justche (Let me make something perfectly clear. I never explain myself - Mary Poppins)
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To: Thumper1960
Tough call. Has he committed any violent crimes against persons? He is indeed a "career criminal". Perhaps he did save a life.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm
7 posted on 06/19/2006 7:33:15 PM PDT by taxed2death (A few billion here, a few trillion there...we're all friends right?)
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To: Graybeard58
This case might prompt a fine-tuning of the third-strike law. In general, I approve of such laws, but I think the sentences from the third strike may need to be tempered to fit.

For example, one proposed approach is to make the sentence a REPEAT of all the full sentences of all the crimes to date, instead of life. If you did 5 years for robbery, 5 for grand theft, and you get picked up for shoplifting a candy bar, your third strike nets you the shoplifting time, PLUS a repeat of the prior ten years - the theory being that they didn't "take" the first time, so do 'em again.
8 posted on 06/19/2006 7:34:18 PM PDT by beezdotcom
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To: Graybeard58

Criminals have code. You can go to jail for being a thief, a drug dealer, assault and battery, cop killer, etc but do not molest children.

Frankly this guy is a lowlife who steals from other people and cannot seem to get it that it's wrong. I don't see any reason to give him life but ten years is about right.


9 posted on 06/19/2006 7:34:19 PM PDT by misterrob
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To: Thumper1960
Ka-shwa.
10 posted on 06/19/2006 7:35:39 PM PDT by Gordongekko909 (I know. Let's cut his WHOLE BODY off.)
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To: Graybeard58
I was living at a house that got burgled.

It is a rotten feeling coming home and seeing all your belongings (except the stolen items) dumped out on the floor of every room.

I say let him rot -- unless the Governor wants to pardon him on account of this one good act.

As KEEPING for three strikes - heck yeah!
11 posted on 06/19/2006 7:36:16 PM PDT by BenLurkin ("The entire remedy is with the people." - W. H. Harrison)
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To: Graybeard58
Just send him to a better prison for his LIFE term.
12 posted on 06/19/2006 7:40:50 PM PDT by Pukin Dog (Dont be a Conservopussy! Defend Ann Coulter, you weenies!)
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To: Pukin Dog
Just send him to a better prison for his LIFE term.

Just my 1/50 dollar.

Why not put him in "Club Fed" ? That way, when the Enron gang arrives, they'll discover what it feels like to be the one getting robbed.

Full Disclosure: On second thought, that won't work. The Enron folks should go to Leavenworth or share cells in Gitmo.

Cheers!

13 posted on 06/19/2006 7:52:24 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: Graybeard58; SampleMan
Sorry, no sympathy for Hahn, regardless what he did.

Throw him in a deep, dark, dank cell.

14 posted on 06/19/2006 7:54:59 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: Graybeard58

I'm puzzled by the nonchalant attitude toward residential burglary. Perhaps those who find it no big deal have never suffered one.

In addition, I personally have known of two people who were "just burglars" until one of them came across a resident who was at home during one robbery and killed him and the other killed a child and injured many in a car accident when he fled from the police. Burglary is a serious crime, and this defense attorney's ridiculous statement that this guy is not a career criminal demonstrates once again the idiocy in the judicial system that frustrates voters so much that they vote for three strikes laws. The criminals who commit the small crimes many times become the ones who commit the more serious crimes. Three felonies equals being a career criminal, as far as this voter is concerned.


15 posted on 06/19/2006 8:04:25 PM PDT by djreece ("... Until He leads justice to victory." Matt. 12:20c)
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To: Graybeard58

Why should he receive leniency for reacting in a way that should just be natural. Who in their right mind would not immediately turn over pictures of an adult molesting a child? Are we so jaded that we must reward someone for doing their human duty?


16 posted on 06/19/2006 8:51:03 PM PDT by peggybac (Tolerance is the virtue of believing in nothing)
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To: Graybeard58
Life seems too harsh for this guy Hahn considering he literally saved that little girls life, and spared many other children from the horrible abuse they surely would have suffered at that sickos hands if he hadn't been caught because of those pictures. That should be taken into consideration also, it isn't just that one girl he saved. This guy WOULD HAVE DEFINITELY abused other children. All pedophiles are multiple offenders. The only ones that don't abuse multiple children are the ones who are caught or killed after the first offense. That's a fact.

I'm pretty much a hard nose when it comes to criminals; always been for the death penalty when it's clear the person did it, BIG supporter of that Sherrif in Arizona who keeps cons in tents, don't like early parole, etc. But this guy, I don't know. I don't know that it's not a bad idea to give him one break, telling him that this won't be counted as his third strike, and putting him back in rehab one last time, and make it clear to him that if he breaks the law one more time, if he steals so much as a fork from a restaurant, that's strike three and he's done, for life without parole. I can see doing that, considering the fact he's saved many children the life long scars of being molested. I can see doing that.

Only reason I consider that is because he never physically hurt anyone in any of his crimes. That makes a big difference with me in just this one case. If he had ever clocked some old lady on the head or beat up some guy and his kids and then robbed him, I wouldn't be for cutting him a break.

17 posted on 06/19/2006 8:52:15 PM PDT by TexasPatriot8 (You can't get blood from a turnip, and with liberals, you can't get common sense from stupid.)
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To: TexasPatriot8

I agree totally with your post. Yeah, have him do some time for theft, get him back into drug rehab, but a life sentence is too harsh...especially when you consider that most molesters end up walking the streets after a few short years in prison looking for fresh victims to terrorize.

This guy didn't have to send the pics to the police, but he knew right from wrong...at least in this situation. If anyone deserves a break, it's this guy. If he blows it again, well, then throw the book at him. It's a sad story. My heart goes out to that toddler. If it were my child, I'd sign the petition to help him out. After that, it would be up to him to get his life together.


18 posted on 06/19/2006 9:05:57 PM PDT by demnomo
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To: peggybac

I sure understand where you're coming from, but most criminals don't posess that kind of decency or moral compass that most of us do. So it was pretty unusual for him to send those pictures to the police I think. I would imagine most criminals wouldn't care. I don't know it's a tough scenario. The only reason I'd even consider leniency on his third strike is because he never harmed anyone in any of the thefts he committed. I don't know. I can maybe see cutting him a break for this one time, but then sending him to rehab and having him on probation for a few years, and if he breaks any law again, even just one, it's curtains for him, life without parole. When someone like that that is a career criminal, finally does something right, rewarding that can turn someone around. It does work sometimes.

It would be nice to see 20 years from now that maybe he really got a hold of this in his head and turned his life around and started a family, got a job, and was a productive member of society finally, a good example to the rest of the criminals. Longshot I know, but sometimes longshots pay off. Rare, but sometimes. I guess I'm having an uncharacteristic optomist moment here. The fact he did a big thing that helped that little girl and other kids that would have been abused just makes a difference with me.


19 posted on 06/19/2006 9:06:51 PM PDT by TexasPatriot8 (You can't get blood from a turnip, and with liberals, you can't get common sense from stupid.)
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To: demnomo
Yeah, I think I'm coming from the same spot as you. Most criminals just don't have morals or scruples, but this guy really stepped up. And like you said, I can see some minimum time, a year or two in a minimum security place, soft time, and then rehab, years in probation, and help him getting a job and give him every reason to keep his nose clean. And if he breaks the law again, it's life for him, no ifs ands or buts.

I feel conflicted though because this is the first time I've ever felt led to suggest leniency for a definite criminal that did do the crime. But I keep thinking of that girl that would STILL be being molested if not for him, and beyond that, there WOULD BE OTHER KIDS that that scum bag would molest after or during that little girl. Might be others that he was molesting at the same time that weren't pictured with the pictures of that girl. And statistically, there were likely others before that girl. Certainly would be more after her IF he hadn't been caught thanks to Hahn. That just makes a BIG difference in my mind. This is the only time I've ever felt a slap on the wrist was appropriate, but woe be to him if he blows this chance after being cut a BIG BREAK, and I was the Judge or DA. ;|

20 posted on 06/19/2006 9:13:41 PM PDT by TexasPatriot8 (You can't get blood from a turnip, and with liberals, you can't get common sense from stupid.)
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To: Graybeard58
The district attorney's office has indicated that Hahn's help in convicting Aitken may be a mitigating factor in his case and has asked his lawyer to submit it for consideration.

I'd say that if anyone deserves a break from the three-strikes rule, it is this guy. Give him a few years in jail for the burglaries, then put him through rehab. But make sure he knows that this is a one-time offer and that if he messes up again, he is going away for life.

21 posted on 06/19/2006 9:21:43 PM PDT by Stonewall Jackson ("I see storms on the horizon")
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To: TexasPatriot8
I totally agree with you. If he had committed a crime of violence against a person I would feel differently. He needs rehab and no slack if he re-offends. But what an altruistic act for someone in his position. He had no reason to think he had anything to gain, and since he got the pic from a burglary he had plenty to lose.
22 posted on 06/19/2006 9:34:38 PM PDT by BruceysMom (.I'm hot & not in a good way, menopause ain't for sissies.)
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To: Graybeard58

Simple solution: give him life.

The Governor can pardon him if the guy's a saint.


23 posted on 06/19/2006 9:34:55 PM PDT by LibertarianInExile ('Is' and 'amnesty' both have clear, plain meanings. Are Billy Jeff, Pence, McQueeg & Bush related?)
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To: Graybeard58

I'd want to cut him a one-time break. He gave up a truly heinous monster.


24 posted on 06/19/2006 9:36:36 PM PDT by newzjunkey (Support Arnold-McClintock or embrace higher taxes with Angelides.)
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To: Graybeard58
Isn't this what pardons are for?
25 posted on 06/19/2006 9:39:16 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: TexasPatriot8
give him a conditional pardon
26 posted on 06/19/2006 9:41:15 PM PDT by Charlespg (Civilization and freedom are only worthy of those who defend or support defending It)
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To: justche
I know this guy is a thief but there's no way he should get more time than the child molester.I don't understand why we act tough when it comes to some crimes and then give these filthy child predators a slap on the wrist?
27 posted on 06/19/2006 9:50:13 PM PDT by peeps36 (Satan Is Tearing Zarqwari A New Ass Right About Now)
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To: Question_Assumptions

He is a career criminal, who knew the rules and broke them anyway. Burglaries cost us millions each year and we all pay for it through higher premiums. People are not all good or all bad. Good people do some bad things, bad people do some good things. It doesn't mean we should not be held accountable. If this guy gets a pardon, should any criminal who does something good, like turning in other bad criminals get a pardon too? Three strikes means he should go to jail for life. I am very glad he turned the guy in, but he should still be accountable for his crimes.


28 posted on 06/19/2006 9:50:14 PM PDT by ga medic
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To: TexasPatriot8
started a family

Some people shouldn't reproduce. Just MHO.

29 posted on 06/19/2006 9:54:46 PM PDT by paulat
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To: Graybeard58

Hard call, with burglary and drugs there is always a serious possibility someone could die, and he can't control himself. He did protect a child, maybe 5 years of mandatory rehab and vocational training. Must complete, have job and be clean to be considered for parole. Must stay that way forever.


30 posted on 06/19/2006 10:02:27 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Striving to obtain liberal victim status.)
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To: djreece

I agree.

Burglary is a serious crime. It damages peoples lives for a very long time even if they weren't physically injured.

And sooner or later somebody will be home, or come home while he's doing his thing. What then?

His "good deed" was good, but cost him nothing other than a stamp to perform.

Give him donuts or a personal TV for his life term as a reward... But give him life nevertheless. Three felonies (and countless robberies) is a high enough price for society to pay. He knew the stakes when he continued what he was doing. The rest of us deserve no less of the justice system for our own security and well being.


31 posted on 06/19/2006 10:17:09 PM PDT by DB ()
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To: ga medic
The Pardon doesn't have to let him out of jail, just escape the "3 strikes" law.
32 posted on 06/19/2006 10:28:03 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Graybeard58

I say turn the third-strike into a "foul ball".

Not a get-out-of-jail-free card, but definitely give some incentive for someone to assist in such a manner on future similar instances... Lighter sentence perhaps, with the understanding that an additional infraction is an automatic "out".


33 posted on 06/20/2006 2:41:11 AM PDT by Son Of The Godfather
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist

Its interesting to me how the drug legalization folks go on and on about there being no correlation between drug use and crime, but then we get the sob story, "He's clean now." What difference should that make if drugs aren't a causal factor?

This man didn't do a good deed, he did a normal deed. What's the next "good deed" slowing down in a school zone?


34 posted on 06/20/2006 4:00:25 AM PDT by SampleMan
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To: Graybeard58; Extremely Extreme Extremist
But Hahn, who was later arrested for a burglary spree after he turned in the photos, is facing a prison term that could be longer than Aitken's.

So what is the problem? It is that Aitken will see the light of day again. Pedophiles should get life.

35 posted on 06/20/2006 4:03:35 AM PDT by SampleMan
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To: Velveeta; DAVEY CROCKETT; Calpernia

Ping


36 posted on 06/20/2006 6:53:32 AM PDT by nw_arizona_granny (Lord ,when we are wrong,make us willing to change. And when we are right, make us easy to live with.)
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To: nw_arizona_granny

I'd give him another chance.


37 posted on 06/20/2006 7:12:07 AM PDT by Velveeta
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To: justche

Thank you. It was a turning point for me.


38 posted on 04/09/2013 8:45:01 PM PDT by MrHahn
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To: misterrob

I ended up doing 7.


39 posted on 04/09/2013 8:45:01 PM PDT by MrHahn
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To: TexasPatriot8

I appreciate your kind words. I paroled over a year ago, and am doing well. I will be graduating from college this year, and I am clean, sober, and productive. This case was a major turning point in my life.


40 posted on 04/09/2013 8:51:00 PM PDT by MrHahn
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