The Uphill Slide

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Bail and Release

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We are awakened by the phone ringing at 3 AM. Good news never comes at this time of night. The woman on the other end of this call asks me maybe four questions. I think they were about Jacob’s address, job and marital status. He was quite capable of providing all that information himself, but now he was treated as unreliable and a liar. It is revealing to Roy and I that Jacob never gave his wife’s contact information to the police or the jail. Later Jacob admitted to me that he had always known in his heart that this woman he had married would never be there for him in a time of need. She would never be his strength; in fact, loving her was his downfall. She abandoned him, betrayed him, and vilified him. She was the instigator of so many things that happened in this sordid tale of betrayal and lies. He had been there for her, staying in her hospital room after her surgery, buying a new mattress for her return home after that surgery, listening to her complaints of a distant father and an attention-seeking sister, throwing birthday parties for her, buying her presents, taking her out to eat and the movies, paying when she could not come up with the money. He took her belittling of his attire, her disdain for his game playing, her dislike of his friends, her complaints that he woke her with the beeps of setting the alarm system, her complaints that the television played to loud, her complaints that he did not clean the litter box enough, her complaints that he expected her to bring him something from her night out, her complaints of the too-hot house and on and on. On their last fight in the car before their decision to separate, she told him he was a terrible nurse with no drive–she knew how to hurt. It would seem she did not like him, much less love him.

This phone call at 3 AM was the preliminary step to his closed-circuit television arraignment later in those early morning hours. This was undoubtedly the most efficient thing to occur in this year of hearings, court and jail. The arrest and arraignment took only twelve hours. The other rapid-fire event in this story was the decision to arrest Jacob once the complaint reached the Allegheny County Police. Here are the dates as revealed in discovery materials. The first disclosure according to the accuser’s mother’s statement was made to her on September 5, 2014, the day before Jacob and I met with his wife and mother-in-law to discuss the marriage and right after that big fight. According to the testimony of the accuser’s mother in court, she immediately called her aunt (Jacob’s mother-in-law) when she heard these accusations. The report to the Swissvale police was made on the third day after the first disclosure, September 8, 2014. This local department was not the proper authority to handle this complaint, so it was in some way passed on to the Allegheny County Police. On the third day after the Swissvale report, September 11, 2014, Detectives Kuma #500 and Detective Keebler #508 from General Investigations (not Sex Crimes) with the Allegheny County Police took the accuser’s mother and the accuser’s statements. They took the mother’s statement first at 6:15 PM and the accuser’s statement at 7 PM. They obtained an arrest warrant; less than 24 hours after these statements, Jacob was in handcuffs. There was no search warrant for his house or possessions. The detectives completed their written report of the interviews with the accuser and the mother on September 11, 2014. This would be the same day as the interview. Jacob’s arrest and interview was on September 12, 2014. The written report of his interview is two pages long. Page 1 was completed on September 15, three days after the interview, while Page 2 was completed on September 12, 2014. Were these reports done on the day of the interview or days later? Was the 2nd page completed before the 1st page? Jacob’s wife then was interviewed on September 16, 2014. What exactly was happening in the week between September 5, 2014 and September 11, 2015? Who was involved in developing this accuser’s statement? The only thing we know is that the entire family including Jacob’s wife knew about the accusations as she continued to live with him.

For Jacob September 12  into September 13 was a long night. His arrest according to the report was at 3:54 PM, and he was arraigned and bail set about 12 hours later. The investigation and arrest happened in a mere 24 hours, but we would soon find moving forward that (in)justice moves at a slower pace. The lawyer once told us that in court time two or three months was nothing. For us time was excruciatingly slow. The timing of Jacob’s arrest itself is just what you have seen on those legal television shows, timed so that he would spend the weekend in jail. The arrest came on a Friday night at the end of business hours. There would be no phone call to a lawyer or anyone else. He was sleep deprived; that is how confessions are elicited. Tactics of law enforcement – lie, withhold sleep, tell the accused you just want to straighten things out. Pretend you are interested in what the accused has to say. All tactics designed to have the accused break down and confess, twist the accused’s own statements. Do you ever wonder why all these things are not taped so they can be played back? I read recently of a case under “The Wrongly Convicted” where a judge’s defaming statement about the accused never made it into the court transcript. Do not ever be fooled by police tactics. They are not there to listen to your story. They are there to trip you up, use your words against you, throw everything possible your way. For all the lawyer jokes you might have heard or even told, remember to utter these words first. I want a lawyer. It does not matter what story the officer tells you. Remember he can and will lie. Who are the liars in this situation? Who is really interested in the truth or justice? It is not the police. Law and justice are businesses in this country. There is money to be made on the troubles and trials of the accused and their families.

This week Jacob and I talked again about the day of his arrest to refresh my memory and notes. He answered the knock at the door to two men, Detectives Kuma and Keebler from the Allegheny County Police. When Jacob opened the door, one of them clicked a handcuff on him; then they asked if he was Jacob Yockey. What a shocker if he was not Jacob Yockey. Whoops! This does differ from the report of the detectives. According to their report, they asked first and handcuffed second. Of course, they undoubtedly had a photo of Jacob; perhaps that photo was supplied by his wife. After all, she had known this arrest was coming for a week. Later when she gave her statement to the police, she implied improper behavior in one of his jobs, stolen pills, an incident before the wedding that her mother and she had discussed. That was an incident that purportedly happened on a day that Roy and I had been at the house with her mother, the accuser, the accuser’s mother, the accuser’s sister, and the accuser’s grandmother. Her statement to the police was a mix of lie and implication. When Jacob and I discussed her statement later with his expert witness, I suggested that the statement actually revealed two women who had shown wanton disregard for the welfare of a family member. He agreed and said that after January 1, 2015, their actions would be considered a crime. I call foul on this sham statement. It reveals the true nature of the person making the statement.

Jacob asked the detectives what this was about. They told him they would discuss it later. They revealed nothing to him. Keeping the accused in the dark was the plan. They told him they had an arrest warrant for him but would not tell him the charges. We will discuss it later they said again. Jacob was now in his living room in handcuffs and shoeless. He asked the detectives if he could get his shoes and a coat. The told him he did not need a coat. Another tactic – make the accused as uncomfortable as possible, too hot or too cold. One of the detectives goes downstairs to where Jacob had been playing a video game online with a friend. He got the shoes and helped Jacob put them on. The cats came to greet these strangers in their house. They were unaware of the danger of these men. One detective asked Jacob if there was someone to take care of the cats while he was gone. They are more concerned for the cats’ welfare than whether Jacob needed his coat. Jacob asked how long he would be gone. They told him it depended. What did it depend on? It depended on nothing. His fate was sealed. They took the accuser’s statement and arrested Jacob. They were not interested in Jacob’s statement or any investigation of Jacob or the accuser. They knew Jacob would not be coming home for a few days. The untruths had begun. He asked again in the police car what the charges were. They said we will get to that. He managed to get a text to me. They did not read his Miranda Rights until he was shackled to the table in the interview room.

Where was Jacob’s wife? She should have been arriving home from work at her job with Giant Eagle at RIDC Park. But of course, she knew what was happening at their marital home. Perhaps she was waiting at the top of the hill for the detectives to pull out or perhaps she was awaiting a phone call. We knew only that she was a coward who never confronted Jacob with these accusations. She was a game player. Jacob loved playing his video games and board games, but he was no match for this family of game players. At some point after Jacob’s arrest his wife was at the house. She talked to Jacob’s friend, Justin, who had been playing that online game with Jacob when the detectives arrived. Justin did not know what had happened to Jacob, so she told him. She knew where Jacob was as did her entire family. Jacob reminded me again that if he had not gotten off his short text to me, we would have been awoken by that 3 AM phone call from the court totally oblivious to his arrest. That reminded me again of the meeting a week later with Jacob’s mother-in-law when we met so she could return the garage door opener. As she stepped out of her car with her witness sitting in the front seat, she began to smile and say hello. Did she have the audacity to think we could be civil friends or even civil acquaintances? Her face changed imperceptibly when I mentioned sending her and my daughter-in-law an email listing the belongings Jacob would like returned. I could see she was shocked that I dare suggest Jacob was entitled to anything. She was not expecting this from me. She had already convicted Jacob. We parted that day never to speak again until that moment when I called her a liar after the verdict. She was a brazen person who thought she could pretend that I did not realize exactly what she and her daughter and family had done. Roy and I knew that had we not called her the night Jacob was arrested, we would have been blindsided by the accusations and arrest. We would have been humiliated by learning from friends that they had seen the news report of Jacob’s arrest and the accusations of the wedding night. She was willing for that to happen to us. Perhaps she looked forward to that. When Jacob got the discovery materials weeks later, I realized even more how devious she and her family had been. On September 6, 2014 while this woman was hugging Jacob and I, she had the knife in her hand ready to plunge it into our backs.;She carried a facade of civility that hid a cunning, devious woman. It was not enough that Jacob be separated from her daughter. He must be separated not only from those who hated him, but also from those who loved him. What kind of person is this woman? What kind of family is this? I can offer nothing to explain them. I have never met any others like them. Entitlement breeds a skewed morality.

At 5 AM or 5:30 AM we got another 30-second call, this time from Jacob. The only word he speaks is $25,000. We had to assume that was the bail. There is no conversation. We had no time to ask questions; the line was dead. We searched the internet to find out what to do. Where did we go to pay and how did we pay? We called bail companies and left messages. They never returned our calls that day or even on Monday. We calculated the fee on this bail. We decided to gather from savings, retirement and loans and not use a bail bondsperson. We were lucky to be able to do that. Many people sit in jail because they cannot make bail. They lose their jobs, their apartments, their homes, their loved ones. Is this really what we want to happen to the accused in our justice system? Remember these are the accused and not convicted. We are destroying lives of many who may be innocent or the guilty who have made mistakes but still can give to society. We begin our punishment long before a conviction.

Roy and I went to banks that were fortunately open that Saturday morning. We gathered the money and drove to the Municipal Court Building on 1st Avenue. We walked through metal detectors as we would many more times in the next year. The employees manning these stations are often lackadaisical and treat everyone coming through with suspicion. You are seldom greeted with any friendliness, courtesy or respect from these employees. Perhaps we are too sensitive now, but there is a camaraderie with those who belong in these halls: judges, lawyers, stenographers, bailiffs, law enforcement, county clerks. The rest of us are the outsiders, perhaps criminals. We checked in with the gray-haired, pony-tailed, shirt-and-tie-dressed clerk. We told him we were here to pay someone’s bail. He gave us paperwork to complete. He did not want to count the money and suggested we could return on Monday. He suggested returning on Monday because even though we paid the bail, Jacob would not be released. We had thought if we paid for him, he would be coming home with us. We were not leaving though. Sorry this clerk had to work Saturday, but we had driven an hour and had the money now. The safest place for this money was here in their hands now. Roy counted the bills separating the denominations as the clerk re-counted and stacked the money. Finally we were done, and the paperwork was completed. We asked this man if we might be able to see Jacob now at the jail. He sent us on our way saying we could ask at the jail. Why did he not just tell us the truth? We would not be getting in for a visit. We drove around the block following our GPS. We actually were directly below the jail entrance and could have walked up the hill. When we walked into to the jail entrance, the guard manning the metal detector told us we could not visit. Jacob was actually still in a holding cell sleeping on a hard surface and wearing the same clothes he had on when he was arrested. He would not go up to a cell until Sunday night. He had nothing to do and nothing to read. He had no money to buy snacks from the vending machines. He was cold and could have used that jacket. He listened to others in the holding cells complain. He watched a man who obviously needed his meds be denied those meds. Are these all just tactics to wear the accused down or is this the incompetent and complacent bureaucratic government institution that we pay so dearly for in recidivism rates. We breed criminals both inside and outside of the jails.

We decided to go to Jacob’s house. The law said this was the marital residence, but this woman had contributed nothing to the house or to the costs of upkeep. She paid two utilities and often paid late. She let the garbage bill go to a lien. The late bills incurred fees and penalties. Sometimes Jacob paid the late ones and rather than have bad credit attached to his name. Perhaps that was the ploy. She was making about the same salary as Jacob and together they should have been able to put away money for the clogged sewer or the new roof or the vacation she wanted. Yet she often did not have money for things she wanted like a new phone or the beginning payments of a new computer. On the Parkway headed to Swissvale, I called Jacob’s mother-in-law and told her that her daughter should move her personal belongings out. She said they were doing that. I think she commented that her daughter was afraid to be there now. Why would she be afraid? Jacob was in jail, and she now had free rein to take everything she wanted. She did exactly that. She and Jacob had discussed the division of some property prior to his arrest when they planned a separation. He told me later that she had talked about moving out all summer, but said she owed him. She forgot those feelings in her haste to move, taking things that were his and leaving some of her own things. She never got the rest of her things because her family forced a no contact order with us. Unfortunately, she left nothing of value. Everything is now donated, trashed or burned. She felt entitled to take Jacob’s things and planned to take what she had left later. She threatened me in a text with the magistrate and police. She felt entitled to take Jacob’s things. She threatened me in a text with the police and magistrate. There was that sense of entitlement again. She felt entitled to use Jacob and discard him, to use us and give nothing, to take and take and never give back. I watched a show last night about texting and driving. A young man who was responsible for people’s deaths in a car accident said he had been told that in this life you must give back more than you take. He lamented that he would never be able to give back the lives he had taken. I thought about his words in this situation. This may all sound as if these things, these possessions were important. They were not important and actually irrelevant to us. The story of this last week and the things she took or the way she used us is simply told to show her character and sense of entitlement. We stopped at the house, went in and looked around, then left. We returned home to wait for Jacob’s calls.

We were angry and frustrated when we returned home. We had expected to get Jacob that day. Jacob had called us earlier in the morning before we left to pay the bail, his voice breaking into sobs as we talked. I was heartbroken to hear the despair in my child’s voice. “We love you,” I said. “We are trying to get you out.” We put money on the phone so he could continue to call. He called again several times that day. We had nothing new we could tell him. We then began looking for a lawyer. Should Jacob ask for legal aid or would he even be eligible for that? He had no money but still had a job and a house at that moment. We thought a private lawyer was the better choice. How would we go about picking one though? We did not know anyone to ask about criminal lawyers. Our family unlike his wife’s family did not include lawyers, judges and magistrates. Our family did not have a relationship with law enforcement and the knowledge of maneuvering the legal system. At this point we did not know just how many connections Jacob’s marriage family had. We knew only that his wife had stated to him and a neighbor that their family knew judges and lawyers and television personalities. People choose lawyers on whom they will depend to win their freedom by using the internet or asking friends. It is like buying a pig in a poke. You only learn when it is too late. I have listened to the stories of people who hired someone who did not fight for them and did not listen to them. In the final tally, the only person who pays for that mistake is the accused. The lawyer walks away with your money while you end up in jail. The top of the internet search brought up David S. Shrager’s name. We read his biography and cases that were included on his website and a search. We spent the weekend at home and talked with Jacob when he called. On Monday morning I opened an online chat with David S. Shrager’s office explaining what we knew of Jacob’s case. We now knew the charges listed from the judicial website. This person I was chatting with said they could help. We scheduled an appointment for 4 PM the following day. Our experience with the slower self-paced justice system had begun. That Monday Jacob called and said he met with a doctor. I am still not sure what credentials this man had. Was he a medical doctor or psychiatrist or psychologist or none of those? Jacob said the meeting went well, and he would be released soon. He said the jail would call us to pick him up. We called the jail when we had not received a call by afternoon but learned nothing helpful. We could only wait for the call from the jail or the meeting with the lawyer the following day. Jacob called several times that day asking if the jail had called. He was anxious to get out, as we were anxious to have him out. The next day we still had not heard anything from the jail. We met with Dave as scheduled and told our story or at least what we knew from our phone conversations with Jacob’s mother-in-law and father-in-law. Also in the meeting was Erin, the paralegal working with Dave. We were introduced to others who worked in this small office and might be working on Jacob’s case. Dave said this is a big case and gave us a figure for his fee. Then he dropped it slightly, and told us he could tell we were a good family. He printed a contract that we signed, and I paid him half the fee with a credit card and the rest with a check. Later, I would regret not paying the entire fee with a credit card. Roy broke down as we started to talk, but I remained stoic even though I was crying inside. I am judged by that stoicism, but others need me to be that person. As I told him about the players in this story, I could not remember the accuser’s last name or the mother’s last name. I wished I could tell him more, but I did not know more. They printed the docket sheets, and he and Erin mentioned one of the police officers as someone involved in another case. I wish I knew now what they had said about that officer. Dave told us he would visit Jacob in jail the next day. We felt better as we left his office because we were one step closer to getting Jacob released from jail.

Jacob had called us to see if we had heard from the jail yet about release. No one ever called; they were not releasing Jacob. Dave visited Jacob on Wednesday as promised. After the meeting he called us. He said he felt the doctor had misinterpreted Jacob. &Jacob was not suicidal. I knew he was not suicidal. He was and is in more danger of death from those in the jail or from medical incompetence than from his own hand. This would not be the first time that someone misinterpreted Jacob’s behavior or the words he spoke. The role of this doctor was to evaluate whether the accused was a danger to himself or others. His evaluation was that Jacob was a danger to himself.  Jacob admitted that he was emotional when he spoke to this doctor. Who would not be emotional when confronted by the betrayal of this young person he had treated with kindness and who now accused him of these heinous acts? Who would not be emotional knowing his wife had abandoned him with never a word of accusation?  Jacob knew only that his parents believed in him and stood by and with him. I thought about how I would have reacted if someone had accused Roy of such acts. I knew that I would have confronted Roy and screamed at him. I could not have been silent playing the waiting game. This woman who Jacob had married was not me though. She played her part easily, living in the house with Jacob and sleeping in the same bed. When Jacob was finally released and we spoke about his wife, I could hear in his voice that he still had love for her. I had no such feelings and had lost whatever good feelings I had about this woman before the arrest. Dave told us that the doctor who had examined Jacob was  on vacation for a week or ten days. Supposedly, no one else in the jail could reevaluate Jacob. This made no sense. Was there only one doctor for the entire jail? I was worried that Jacob had to sit in jail another week and a half. Thankfully, Erin started making calls and succeeded in getting Jacob reevaluated. Jacob called a couple of times a day to ask what we knew. We were his lifeline. He was a captive not knowing what was happening on the outside and unable to fight for himself. Do others in jail have someone on the outside advocating for them? Finally, Jacob called Friday and said he was being released. We had to wait for the call to come from the jail though. We waited and waited all day. Jacob was actually the one who made the call to us. He would be released by 8:00 PM. He walked out of those now-familiar doors at 8:30 PM. Roy and I were sitting in the truck along 2nd Avenue waiting. He walked toward me wearing the same clothes he had worn one week before. I gave him a long hard hug, and then he climbed in the backseat. He turned on his phone to listen to messages. He played two messages left by his wife a week ago. We listened to her seldom-heard, sweet concerned voice asking where Jacob was. She said your car is in the driveway, but you are not here. Where are you? We thought we heard a slight laugh in the message. Why did she leave those messages for him? What was the point? She knew where he was, and we knew she knew. Perhaps she wanted those lies to be the last words he heard from her. They never spoke again.

In the truck, we were emotional. Roy yells, and Jacob asks why we even came. I am in the middle, the peacemaker, a role I have often played. Why are we yelling? I am so grateful that Jacob is finally back with us. My heart is breaking to think of how this family that he had married into and cared for had abused my son’s kind and trusting nature. We insisted that Jacob come to our house in Cowansville. He did not want to leave his house in Swissvale and kept asking why he should go to Cowansville. I was afraid for him to be alone here. I feared not that he was suicidal but simply that he would feel alone and brood. I was afraid someone from his wife’s family might come here, and Jacob would end up back in jail. I did not trust them. I could not imagine what this family was capable of doing. I did not trust the police.  The lawyer had suggested someone stay with Jacob for a while, and we had decided that even before he mentioned it. Jacob agreed to go home with us for the night, so Roy left while I stayed to ride with Jacob. I hugged him and said we loved him. Dad just does not know what to do with his frustration. Jacob gathered his clothes and we left. When we got to Cowansville, Roy immediately apologized for his behavior and told him he loved and believed in him.

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