YES, EVERY accused criminal deserves due process. Yes, the wheels of justice grind slowly, but exceedingly fine. But 10 years under the millstone could crush a case to quantum particles.
There is no statute of limitations on homicide. But the murder trial of Hugo Selenski has gone from high drama to cultural Rorschach Test (do you see dreamy hunk, razor wit or serial psychopath?) to Keystone Kops farce (a jail break through the window with bed sheets).
To the family of those he is accused of slaying — Michael Jason Kerkowski and Tammy Lynn Fassett — it has been a decade-long open-wound.
Remember when Selenski inspired admiration by the misguided? Remember when Attorney Demetrius Fannick rocketed his legal cache into the stratosphere by successfully defending Selenski pro bono in Hugo’s first murder trial (for the deaths of Frank James and Adeiye Keiler)? Remember Selenski’s wry verbal jousts with attorneys, judges and the media?
He was the rebel defying The Man: He was Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp, Jason Priestly and Luke Perry, David Cassidy and Davy Jones, James Dean and Elvis Presley.
Selenski was, and is, of course, none of the above. This is his rap sheet: Two-time convicted bank robber for heists in 1994 and 2002, convicted corpse abuser, out-of-wedlock father of a child, prison escapee and a man who either caused paralyzing injury to a fellow escapee or at the very least left that helpless inmate behind in his dash for freedom.
He is a defendant attorneys now avoid in droves — at one point he defended himself. Lawyers had to be hired as independent contractors to take his case.
If there is a pop idol who epitomizes Hugo Selenski, it might be (with deep apologies to Henry Winkler) “The Fonz” of Happy Days following the episode in which he literally “jumped the shark” — a phrase now used to pinpoint the moment a top TV show proves it has hung on past its expiration date.
Yes, Selenski deserves due process. But 10 years is longer than most wines age, longer than most TV shows last and longer than this saga should continue. Witnesses have died, others had testimony recorded fearing the same fate, judges and prosecutors have come and gone.
Barring a dramatic revelation, the trial of Hugo Selenski should begin this month as scheduled. Every delay is now as pathetically comical as a new sheet tied to the escape rope Selenski used.
And it is a trial Selenski himself should welcome. He has relentlessly proclaimed innocence. Upon surrendering after three days on the lam following his escape, Selenski told reporters that he turned himself in because he “wouldn’t miss this trial for anything.”
That comment referred to his first murder trial. It’s past time to adopt the same attitude toward this one.