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Los Alamos Police Lt. Reggie Briggle expressed his disappointment regarding the jury’s not guilty verdict Tuesday in the State v. Penny Granich case heard all last week in First District Court in Santa Fe.
Briggle led the investigation that resulted in vehicular homicide charges against Penny Granich for the death of her husband Thomas Edward Granich. He died when the pickup he and Penny were in on Dec. 4, 2005 crashed some 350 feet into the bottom of a White Rock canyon.
“I’d like to express my condolences and apology to the family of Thomas Granich, which had to relive the anguish of the details of his death four years ago all over again in court. The stoicism and perseverance of this long-time Los Alamos family is admirable,” Briggle said Tuesday afternoon. “I would like to thank Assistant Attorneys General Carlos Gutierrez, Mary Helen Baber and Jody Curran and their assistant Elora Martinez, all of whom expended many long hours in preparation of the case, especially Mr. Gutierrez.”
Briggle described Tuesday’s decision in Santa Fe as, “nothing less than overwhelmingly disappointing.”
“We felt we had prepared a good case. But thanks to the legal wranglings of the defense counsel, certain crucial information never got to the jury,” Briggle said. “Their clouding of the facts of the case and their presentation of completely improbable alternate scenarios successfully muddled the minds of the jurors. I know beyond any doubt who is responsible for Thomas Edward Granich’s death, but the jury never got the whole story. I feel that a jury should have all of the information available in order to make a fair and just determination of guilt or innocence.”
The realization that it is so acceptable to prevent the jury from hearing everything they need to make an informed decision really has been a disappointment for Briggle, he said.
“Early in the investigation, one pivotal bit of information was denied to us, and that information is the entire reason for us having to go through this trial now. Several controversial rulings by the court in pre-trial motions that prevented the jury from hearing critical information also hobbled the State’s case,” Briggle said. “And a time limitation set by the court to hear the case prevented the State from adequately presenting its case, which should have included a jury viewing of the crash site at Overlook Park. The jury could not possibly have gotten the full impact of the crash scene without actually going there and seeing the terrain.”
Briggle explained that the officers involved in the initial crash investigation and subsequent case did everything they could under difficult conditions to complete a thorough assessment.
“The bizarre circumstances surrounding this case would prove difficult for the best of investigators,” he said. “Now, the case is complete – but there has been no justice for Thomas Granich.”
In addition to vehicular homicide, the jury also found the defendant not guilty of DWI and reckless driving.
Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy expressed his thoughts after hearing the verdict.
“I knew it was going to be a tough case from the beginning. We worked hard to bring it to a jury in fairness to all sides,” Torpy said. “I can’t say I’m not disappointed for the Granich family who’ve waited nearly four years for some kind of closure and I’m sure they are very disappointed with the verdict. But I believe in our system and the conclusion of the jury is the final judgment.”
This is the first of several follow-up stories to come.