What the Papers Aren't Reporting: the All Over the Map Stories Coming Out of DA Steve Wagstaffe's Office Concerning Ayres' Mental Competency since 2011.
Plus: Exclusive information on what San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said about Ayres' mental competency one year ago that no reporter ever bothered to publish: "It would have been more helpful if Ayres had been seen driving a car."
Immediately following the mistrial for mental competency of Ayres in June 2011, San Mateo prosecutor Melissa Mckowan told a number of parents of Ayres victims that Ayres was NOT competent; that his dementia was rapidly advancing; that she would NOT retry Ayres and that (direct quote) "no jury would ever find Ayres competent to stand trial." She also stated that she would NOT send Ayres to Napa as "he would not get better there."
However, that same summer, a medical colleague of Ayres tipped off the familes of victims that Ayres WAS competent, and had been seen by other medical colleagues in San Francisco at restaurants, holding forth and acting lucidly on all sorts of topics. She said that everyone could see he was competent.
Additionally, a friend of an Ayres victim who committed suicide last August learned from his employer, who is married to a psychiatrist who works at Ayres' old office complex, that psychiatrists there had seen Ayres driving a car to the complex. The wife of the psychiatrist said that Ayres would then hang around the breezeway of the office complex, lurking about his old office, the scene of the crimes. The wife of the psychiatrist told the friend of the Ayres victim that other psychiatrists were "creeped out" by Ayres hanging around the building. She said that Ayres would then get into his car and drive away.
These tips of sightings of Ayres driving and acting competent were turned over to the police department in the summer of 2011. They were never acted on. The County did not put Ayres under surveillance.
Because the County would not act on the tips that he was competent, and the prosecutor was insisting he would never be competent to stand trial, in a last ditch effort, a group of parents and victims pooled their own money and hired a private investigator to tail Ayres just a week before the hearing where the DA was going to state that they would not retry Ayres in August 2011.
As readers of this blog know, the team of three investigators tailed Ayres to a restaurant in San Francisco, where Ayres lunched with his wife and two medical colleagues.
Although Ayres' lawyer had stated in the trial that Ayres had very little memory of the past and had trouble comprehending events in the present and future, the three investigators heard Ayres talk about his business ventures, his former patients, the Iowa straw polls, the future of the Republican party, and that he had a court hearing in a few days. He also joked, to the merriment of his luncheon colleagues, about how one benefit of Alzheimer's is that you could use "it in the courtroom" for one's own benefit.
But when the lawyer for one of the victim's families contacted prosecutor Melissa Mckowan on Friday August 19th, 2011 and told her he had evidence that Ayres was competent, Mckowan stated, "I don't believe it. Ayres has dementia. He is mentally imcompetent to stand trial. He will never be competent to stand trial. I am NOT retrying him."
The prosecutor said she didn't even want to look at the video surveillance and then stopped returning the lawyer's calls. The lawyer for the victim's family then frantically tried to call DA Steve Wagstaffe. Finally, after considerable effort, he managed to speak to Wagstaffe about the surveillance video. Wagstaffe agreed to see the video.
Then, utter, dead silence from the San Mateo DA's office on this matter for the next 24 hours. Calls from reporters who had seen the video to Wagstaffe were, very uncharacteristically ( Wagstaffe is famous for returning every reporter's calls) unreturned.
Bear in mind that just two days earlier, DA Steve Wagstaffe had told San Mateo Supervisor Dave Pine that he gave him his "word that retrying Ayres was a strong option and still on the table." That was BEFORE Wagstaffe had seen the surveillance video that showed Ayres acting competent.
Then, 24 hours after the San Mateo DA had received the surveillance video, at a time when Wagstaffe was refusing to return reporter's calls, a mother of an Ayres victim finally got him on the phone late in the afternoon on Saturday, August 20, 2011.
Her description of her conversation with Wagstaffe on Ayres' mental competency and the video is described in an email here. Names of the sender and receiver have been redacted for reasons of privacy. But this is the email verbatim.
Subject: Re: Media Contact
Date: August 20, 2011 6:06:12 PM EDT
I called Wagstaffe today and got a return call about 10 muinutes later. He talks faster than a machine gun, and I will try to relate here everything of importance.
He said that he looked at the videos and read the transcript, and that the overwhelming, dramatic evidence we needed was a video tape of Ayres driving a car. He would have gone back and retried him for that. He also mentioned seeing him without a walker would have helped.
He was very disturbed about McKowan telling people that Ayres would never go to Napa. He said he never knew that, and if that's the case it's a serious violation. He said that sadly, justice had not been served in the initial trial and mentioned that if the 11-1 count had been overturned, Ayres would have gone to prison for the rest of his life. He also said that delays weakened the trial, and Melissa was very frustrated after the trial.
We talked about re-trial, and he said because of the 8-4 verdict on the competency trial, he could not justify a repeat since he has an obligation to the taxpayers against spending more money on a subsequent trial that can't be won.
Here is the official plan for Monday: The DA's office will argue for committment to Napa State Hospital, and only Napa.
➲ Ayres' medical colleagues last year said Ayres was competent.
➲ The surveillance video showed he was competent.
➲ The court appointed, unbiased doctors who testified at Ayres' competency trial said Ayres was competent.
➲ Now according to Napa reports, even the custodial staff could see that Ayres was mentally competent.
Why is it that Wagstaffe's office couldn't see that he was competent? Or, did Wagstaffe know he was competent but just couldn't be bothered to retry him?
I would be interested to hear how much it has cost San Mateo County to house Ayres at Napa for the nine months versus the cost of a mental competency retrial that Wagstaffe said a year ago "couldn't be won."
Just to give readers a comparison of how other DA's offices around the country stack up in convicting pedophiles - all of whom were arrested AFTER AYRES.
Jerry Sandusky case in Pennsylvania. Length of time from arrest to conviction: 7 months.
Dr. Scott and Dr. Mark Blankenburg, pedophile pediatricians in Ohio: Length of time from arrest to conviction on 79 counts of child molestation, possession of child pornography and bribery: 9 months.
Dr. Earl Bradley, pedophile pediatrician in Delaware in one of the largest cases of child abuse in the history of the US. Length of time from arrest to conviction of molesting more than 100 children: 9 months.
Dr. William Ayres case: Arrested in April, 2007. More than five and a half years ago. NO CONVICTION.
Please also read the new post immediately below this one for more detailed coverage of the August 3rd, 2012 hearing than you're going to see anywhere in the paper.