If there’s one place a TV reporter should NOT be, it’s sitting in court among angry family members of a convicted child killer.
They are deeply upset and are looking to channel their anger at someone or something.
A reporter like myself is an easy target.
I should have picked my seat earlier. There was no other place to sit. Lesson learned.
Ruiz already pleaded guilty and admitted to body-slamming his girlfriend’s two-year-old daughter because she wouldn’t stop crying. She later died as a result of head injuries.
Towards the end of a heavy, emotional hearing, an unidentified Ruiz family member turned towards me and told me “not to paint him as a monster like everyone else does.”
Of course, when I offered this man an on camera interview to defend Ruiz, he declined and shook his head at such a revolting offer.
I heard the rest of the family sigh in disgust as if I’m the one responsible for their loved one’s character and credibility.
I told them they could be angry at me and that’s fine, but I was willing to share their side of the story.
A family member then turned to one of deputies and said I was “stirring people up.”
I was in the middle of a hornets nest, I sensed trouble and I got up quickly and I left my seat.
A really cool deputy saw and heard the predicament I was in.
She went out of her way to find me a seat next to the prosecution.
Ruiz was given a 36 year sentence, four years below the maximum under the stipulated plea agreement.
His family left. I didn’t bother approaching them, knowing things could have turned bad.
I wrote my report, while trying to be fair as possible.
Looking back, I still debate with myself if I should have even engaged the family.
But it’s my job to offer them their say, even if some of them would like to punch me in the face.
I walked out of court making sure I was aware of my surroundings, leaving behind another case, another convict and another short life remembered in court.
The little girl who was killed didn’t have a voice.
And that’s the real shame.