Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Stone-cold killer sentenced

Justice has been served (not really, as you'll see) in one of those cases that grabs the headlines, then fades into the obscurity of time. Daniel Angus has been re-sentenced for the cold-blooded murder of Anthony Basta on April 26, 2000.

Was this a drug deal gone bad? Gang on gang crime? A crime of passion?

It was none of the above. It was killing for sport and "for the fun of it". It was the senseless slaughter of a 17 year old bicycle rider, who was simply doing what thousands of us do in the warm months, enjoying a bike ride on a city trail. Death came from a passing car. From a City Pages news item dated 5/10/00:

THE APPARENTLY RANDOM murder of 17-year-old Anthony Basta two weeks ago left many in the victim's quiet St. Paul neighborhood reeling. So too, apparently, St. Paul-based KSTP-TV (Channel 5), which offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. Why would a media outfit become involved in a criminal investigation? Station spokeswoman Dayna Deutsch says Basta's murder hit especially close to home because the victim's cousin, Mark Ginther, is an assistant news director at KSTP. But according to Deutsch, that wasn't the primary motivation for offering the reward: "It's the senselessness of it, officially. It happened in a family neighborhood at 10:00 in the evening. It wasn't like he was out at 2:00 in the morning. Once in a while, something strikes a deep, deep chord. This was one of those things that moved people here."
That summarizes the theme of many Rambix posts - the crimes that affect normal people going about their everyday lives. This could have been any on of us.

Daniel Angus' original conviction and life sentence was overturned by the often reprehensible Minnesota Supreme Court. This, folks, is part of how we in Minnesota get our reputation as softies on criminals. From the WCCO TV News web site:

Angus was sentenced to life in prison, but the Supreme Court ordered a new trial, saying the trial court improperly denied a defense effort to exclude a black man from the jury. The defense said the issue was his credibility, not his race, and the high court said the lower court failed to establish that the defense's real purpose was discriminatory.
Two other criminals were charged and convicted along with Angus:

Angus was accused of providing the gun Dale Stewart used to shoot Basta. Stewart was convicted separately and sentenced to life, while the driver, Jonathan McNeill, was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge for testifying against Angus and Stewart and was sentenced to 251/2 years.
Following the re-sentencing, Angus was sentenced to 37 1/2 years in prison. With credit for good behavior, he'll be out in 25 years. His previous "life" sentence would have kept him in 30 years minimum.

Can you imagine giving a break to such an evil person?