The Anatomy of Fighting a False Murder Prosecution
“The corrupt and illegal acts of Okanogan County prosecutors Karl Sloan and Branden Platter would never have been exposed if we hadn’t had the help of the US~Observer. They would have put us behind bars and continued their abuse of the innocent. Now, the US~Observer tells us that they are going to pay for abusing us; Angela and I have no doubt whatsoever that they will.” – James Faire
By Ron Lee
Okanogan County, WA – On July 11th, 2018 came these welcomed words, “I am writing to advise you that the Court’s decision is to grant the motion. The case will be dismissed.” The email was signed by Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Christopher Culp. While it would take a day for the official Findings of Fact to be entered into the record, James Faire’s 3-year-long nightmare, of first being falsely charged with murder then ultimately, under Prosecutor Platter, wrongly prosecuted for Vehicular Homicide and Vehicular Assault, came to its rightful conclusion.
The final order dismissing James Faire’s case with prejudice was filed July 16th.
The news quickly spread through the many supporters who know the facts of the case, and a collective sigh of relief was heard in the form of congratulatory comments which rolled in via Facebook and email. All were relieved for James and his wife Angela Nobilis-Faire – whose charges had been dropped earlier this year – and they were grateful for the US~Observer’s reporting and efforts on the part of the Faires.
“I’ve been following the case and sending prayers your way!” – Jim F.
“Edward Snook [Editor-in-Chief of the US~Observer], thank-you for running quarterback on James’ behalf… in fact, in reality, on behalf of LIBERTY!” – Dr. N.
“Now, Okanogan County needs to go after the ‘REAL’ guilty ones in this case. Richard Finegold, George Abrantes, Michael St.Pierre, and Ruth Brooks need to answer for the crimes committed against James and Angela Faire, and the death of Debra Long. Karl Sloan, his detective brother, Kreg Sloan and Branden Platter need to answer for the malicious arrest and subsequent false prosecution of James Faire. This travesty should never have happened in the first place, and should have never been allowed to continue once Platter became interim-prosecutor.” – Jeff C.
Arian Noma, who is seeking to replace Branden Platter as Okanogan’s Prosecutor in the upcoming election, even weighed in on the Faire dismissal saying, “The Faire case is an example of prosecutorial misconduct, incompetence at best. A prosecutor must think, investigate, and learn the events and facts before charging anything – something that obviously didn’t take place in Faire’s case. It’s taken three years to get this case dismissed, which equals many months of lost liberty; many months of being in jeopardy of losing liberty. It will take years for the Faires to rebuild their lives and they were not even guilty or convicted of any crimes. Despite this, just being charged, their reputations will be affected forever.” He went on to say, “I appreciate your reporting in the Faire investigation, and my community appreciates your paper’s search for the truth.”
And then came an email from Angela Faire…
“As I sit here in the quiet and think about ‘where to from here,’ I want you to know how very grateful I am to each one of you. There are not enough words that can express what is on my heart and my mind. Simply put, you saved my life; you have saved James’ life.”
Even though the US~Observer wins a great many cases, we don’t often get such heartfelt communiques. Typically our clients, while immediately grateful, are too busy celebrating with friends and family to worry about sending such thoughtful expressions. Then the next day it’s seemingly as if they want to forget the whole ordeal, including us. Who can blame them?
Then again, this case has been different from the very start.
Edward Snook knew James Faire previously and that James was a upstanding, moral man who put others in front of himself. Snook wanted to help the man who had become his friend years earlier, and once the US~Observer officially became involved, we attacked it head-on. Our investigation was swift and in-depth. There were mountains of communications, calls, emails, texts, financial documents and police reports. And, every day there seemed to be more evidence that showed there had been a conspiracy and plan set in motion to entrap the Faires in made-up crimes, kidnap them, and even brutalize them.
Once it was established that a false 911 call and police report had been filed by Richard Finegold against James and Angela just the day before the Faires were viciously attacked and had to flee, which sadly resulted in Debra Long’s death, everything started falling into place. Not only was the only impartial eyewitness, Boyd McPherson, saying that James acted purely out of self defense, he was saying that James couldn’t have even seen Debra Long before he inadvertently struck and killed her while escaping a serious assault. McPherson said that he was scared for James and Angela’s lives as he watched them be attacked; that he was scared for himself when James pulled away and one of the mob started after him. It seemed as if McPherson, the only non-involved eyewitness, completely exonerated James of any wrongdoing and we thought that the police and, by then, the prosecutor would see that, too.
But their investigation, headed by Kreg Sloan (the then prosecutor’s brother), seemed to stop at the witness statements of the four individuals who, by even their own accounts, conspired and attacked James and Angela. These people were Richard Finegold, Michael St. Pierre, Ruth Brooks and George Abrantes. See the section “The Conspirators” on the right hand side of this page for information on each individual, including the ringleader.
According to Professor Gregory Gilbertson’s assessment of the Faire Investigation he found, “Okanogan County’s investigation into Debra Long’s death to be amateurish, incomplete, and inept …” Apparently, among other failures, detective Sloan never even contacted the State Police to have them complete a “Total Station” crime scene diagram.
With much of our evidence of a conspiracy in hand, it was time to reach out to then Okanogan County Prosecutor Karl Sloan to ensure he had the whole picture. He wasn’t interested. His stance was that James and Angela had been squatting, because that is what was reported by Finegold to police earlier (subsequently uncovered to have been a false report – which Finegold even admitted to), and that James willfully murdered Debra Long. It is a stance that was very publicly disseminated by Sheriff Frank Rogers the day after the incident on KREM2 News.
And just like that, Sheriff Rogers, the highest ranking law official in the county – who couldn’t even bother to show up at the crime scene the day before – bought the county a whole heap of liability through his assumed-to-be-true, ignorant-of-all-the-facts and completely indicting statements.
To this day the US~Observer believes that if the senior Okanogan officials had not taken such a hard-line, public opinion on the case – thinking it was going to be a slam-dunk, hang-your-hat, career-maker – charges would have been dropped early on, especially when it was discovered that the narrative of their leading witnesses was built around a central lie, thereby proving James and Angela had not trespassed, stolen anything, squatted or willfully run anyone over.
But then again, this Okanogan Government cartel probably just thought they could steam-roll the Faires just like everyone else in their cross hairs. Fortunately, the Faires had the US~Observer to fight against the government’s injustices and expose the facts. Prosecutor Karl Sloan had never faced the kind of public opposition brought on by the US~Observer.
Since there was no reasoning with Prosecutor Sloan, who committed to an all-out false prosecution, the US~Observer had no other option than to go on the offensive and inform the public of the truth by publishing the Faires’ story and distributing it throughout Okanogan County.
James, by this time, had already spent close to three months locked in jail without adequate representation. He had a public defender in name only. No one aided in his defense until after about six months of incarceration when he was able to retain Attorney Stephen Pidgeon. It took weeks and another US~Observer publication before Judge Culp lowered the bail amount for James and he was able to post bond.
James was forced to wear an ankle monitor and was severely restricted. It made making money for his defense literally impossible. But James is well known and respected and through the grace of many supporters, James and Angela were able to make ends meet but just barely.
Eventually, the court made the unprecedented move of allowing James to be free of his monitoring. When have you heard of someone charged with 1st Degree Murder running around free without monitoring? Never. It just doesn’t happen.
The US~Observer always believed that Judge Culp saw the truth; that James wasn’t a murderer.
But the prosecution continued, as did our publications. They were brutal and honest and justified in calling out the corruption that was taking place. How could justice be assured to anyone in Okanogan County if this was happening to James and Angela Faire? And, the US~Observer made sure to say so.
A little over two years into the fight, Karl Sloan called it quits. Did he right his obvious wrongs and side with the truth? No, he left his post to take a lesser paying job with the Attorney General’s Office, leaving his handpicked replacement from his existing staff, Branden Platter, to continue the factually baseless prosecution.
Soon after Platter took over, James’ defense team had Attorney Stephen Pidgeon write Platter imploring him to take a fresh look at the case. As a result of this, the mounting pressure by the US~Observer, or his drive to get a conviction through plea-bargaining, Platter reassessed the charges and downgraded them to charges demanding a much lower burden of proof on part of the prosecutor – in essence, it would be easier to convict someone of them.
Platter also dropped the trespass charge and lowered the theft charge.
In Angela’s case, he offered her a series of plea deals hoping she’d bite on one of them. Ultimately, it was determined that Okanogan County didn’t have jurisdiction to charge Angela with a theft crime and her charges were dropped completely to never be pursued elsewhere, based on the facts at hand; Angela is innocent.
Soon after, Platter lowered James’ charges, Edward Snook reached out to Platter asking him to serve justice and drop the remaining charges based on the evidence. Platter’s response was to claim that he felt James hadn’t acted reasonably by trying to flee from being violently attacked and he would pursue the charges.
I don’t know about you but if someone was trying to smash me in the head with a large chain, and someone else was trying to potentially hurt my wife, I’m out of there! And, if someone gets in my way and gets hurt or killed, according to Washington State law, the person attacking me would be responsible! At least that is how it’s supposed to work.
The fact is James Faire acted more than reasonably given the situation. Every witness claimed the scene was chaotic, and that it happened in a flash. This wasn’t a long drawn out confrontation.
In one of his court filings Platter alluded to having evidence that George Abrantes attacked James with a chain after James had run over Debra Long. If he did, that evidence would go against literally every single one of the witness’s recollections, including George Abrantes’ own statements to police – fact is, Abrantes factually stated the exact opposite.
As the fight continued, and James’ trial date neared, Platter’s office had yet to hand over key pieces of discovery. This included all of the files and information that was contained on George Abrantes’ cell phone, which had been downloaded onto Kreg Sloan’s computer 3-years before.
Low and behold, Detective Kreg Sloan claimed that he no longer had the files. In what is a bizarre set of circumstances – utterly unbelievable if you are technically inclined – somehow, over two months after the date of the incident, when he reportedly went to view the phone’s data for the 1st time, his computer was “infected by a Russian ransomware virus and all of the files were corrupted and had to be deleted.”
Assuming his story is true, for the better part of 3 years he reportedly didn’t say anything to the prosecutor’s office, nor did he seek to retrieve Abrantes’ phone for another data dump. Instead, he simply didn’t do anything.
Interestingly, after Abrantes was contacted by the prosecutor’s office in early 2018, he admitted to deleting the files to “free up space” on his phone. He literally had texts to and from Debra Long and all the others for 3 years, along with potential video of the incident, and he suddenly deletes everything because he needed more space? Are we seriously supposed to believe he wasn’t informed that they might need his phone back, or that he didn’t delete those files to hide evidence?
Stephen Pidgeon filed a motion to dismiss based on this new information, and with much thoughtfulness, Judge Culp granted it.
In his decision and Findings of Fact Culp concluded, “The cumulative effect of the government’s actions, or inaction, constitutes sufficient bad faith that dismissal is required.”
He expounded, “In this case the Abrantes phone was intentionally returned to Mr. Abrantes before any attempt was made to ensure the data extracted from it was retrievable. The decision to return the phone was not accidental or inadvertent; it was deliberate. By itself, this act (returning the phone) seems unusual and not normal. Indeed, other electronic devices of witnesses or the co-defendant have not been returned, even though the Court assumes similar data dumps have been executed on them. … the net effect of the phone’s arbitrary return, not running a report of the extracted data before the return, the ransomware attack and encryption of the data so that it could not be retrieved and subsequent loss of the text messages, among other possible evidence, is tantamount to bad faith in its impact on the defendant. To return the phone before ensuring the data could be retrieved necessarily means the defendant has no chance to present material evidence probative of his self-defense claim.”
Judge Culp essentially indicted Karl and Kreg Sloan, while throwing Branden Platter a lifeline. Perhaps he forgot Platter had worked for Sloan prior, and potentially worked on this case during the time all these egregious actions took place; actions that, according to Judge Culp, prevented James Faire from ever being able to have a fair trial.
Actually, Platter is every bit as liable for this mess as the Sloan brothers in that he had much more detailed evidence in front of him for the past year than Sloan had during his two years of falsely prosecuting the Faires. At the end of the day, they all share responsibility for their attempted destruction of the Faires – all for the sake of frantically trying to protect their phony public images, and desperately working to keep from owning the liability they are obviously responsible for.
Upon hearing the news of the dismissal, Edward Snook looked up from behind his computer monitor and said, “Damn, I wanted this to go to trial. There isn’t a jury in the world that would have convicted James on the evidence. But I am thrilled for James and Angela.”
Mr. Snook continued, “Mark my words, though, Branden Platter, as corrupt as he is, will do anything to revive this case or keep it going until he gets past the upcoming election in November. He will appeal it if he can, simply because he will think his career is over if he doesn’t. He isn’t smart enough to realize that his career of abuse is already over.”
Editor’s Note: With an election upcoming, the citizens of Okanogan County need to take a long, hard look at the kind of person they want running their prosecutor’s office. Someone like Platter who believes it is okay to turn a blind-eye to facts and reasonable judicial rulings in order to achieve a conviction at all cost. Or, someone like Arian Noma who says he will, “work to achieve justice, not just convictions.”
We trust it’s the latter.
James Faire and Angela Nobilis-Faire are two of the hardest working, kind, human beings this publication has had the honor of featuring. They have suffered much hardship and pain throughout this sham process, yet they remained vigilant.