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Irina

Ira On Dateline

Friday night I did appointment TV for the first time in years. Dateline was running a story about Ira Yarmolenko. It was the second half of a two hour episode, the first being devoted to Casey Anthony. I have taken pride in my ignorance about the Casey Anthony case, but I was willing to sit through the first part to make sure I didn't miss anything about Ira.

The segment on Ira was entitled  Mystery On The Catawba. Given that there have been arrests and a trial and a conviction, the word "mystery" seemed a bit overblown. I guess they chose that word because there are still some doubts about the verdict. And there were certainly twists and turns in the case that most people in the national Dateline audience would not be aware of.

I did not learn much new from watching this segment, as I should have expected. I did come away slightly more convinced of Carver and Cassaba's guilt than I was after watching their defense attorneys, David Phillips and Brent Ratchford being interviewed. Keith Morrison asked them about their DNA on the car. They made no effort to explain it, and simply continued to insist their clients didn't touch the car. That is an implausible claim. I can only conclude that after talking to Cassaba and Carver they couldn't get the truth, or heard a story that would not have sounded good to a jury.

And they seemed really wedded to the idea that Ira committed suicide.Phillips suggested  "they can't find the killer because there's not one". Not only is this a ridiculous statement, it suggests that suicide is the best alternative theory to Cassada and Carver being the culprits. Phillips tried to back up his suicide claim  by saying Ira  had given away a lot of her possessions, which is consistent with suicide. Keith Morrison, to his credit,  pointed out her friends said she was a very generous person who liked to give things to people.

That's a pretty good counter argument, but there's an even better one he could have given if he'd done a little more research. Ira was planning on moving back to Chapel Hill. Giving things away is as consistent with moving as it is with suicide.

There were interviews with Cassada's daughter Amy which I must admit were very moving. She seemed to genuinely love her father and genuinely believe in his innocence. I couldn't help but think somewhere Ira was wanting to give her a hug to comfort her. Amy Cassada was actually more persuasive on Cassada's behalf than his lawyers were.

But ultimately, I remain convinced of Carver and Cassada's  guilt. I'm open to contrary evidence, but this dateline episode did not provide enough to convince me.

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