Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mercer County DA Candidates Square Off

The League of Women Voters of Mercer County, WPIC-AM, and The Herald sponsored a District Attorney debate last night between Republican James Goodwin and Democrat Robert Kochems.

The debate showed the clear differences between the two men: one favors plea agreements and rehabilitation, and the other favors strict prosecution and harsh penalties.

Want to guess which favors what?

It's no surprise why Goodwin chose to go after Kochems on the percieved soft-on-crime status of the DA's office. Retiring DA James Epstein has had Mercer County residents scratching their heads over ludicrous plea bargains offered to criminals - violent criminals at that.

In Grove City, Epstein was quick to pull the death penalty off the table for Scott Dunn, who savagely murdered his wife Brandi. By the time the trial was set to start, Dunn and Epstein came up with an excedingly generous deal that could see Dunn walk in 26 years. And this could be reduced by 13 more years pending a sentencing appeal.

Goodwin was also quick to point out the squandering of tax dollars by the DA's office, noting that they need to do more with less. Goodwin noted the lack of efficiency and case backlog that currently hampers prosecutions and paves the way for plea bargains.

Kochems denied that a backlog exists and was quick to defend the actions of Epstein, which isn't a surprise - Epstein has endorsed Kochems.

Have you been outraged over the plea bargains given to violent predators in Mercer County? Your choice is clear in November.

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