Lisa Randall, Peoria Woman Wrongfully Accused in Baby-Killing Case, Sues Officials

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Lisa Randall--onetime first-degree murder defendant whose case was dismissed--seen here with attorney David Cantor after all charges against her were dismissed last July.
We first heard about the Lisa Randall case about six months before we broke the story of her unfortunate prosecution here in "Phantom Murder," published last July.It took awhile to wrap our head around the unusually tragic and complex facts that had landed the Peoria grandmother and veteran day-care operator in jail awaiting trial on the worst death-penalty rap imaginable--killing a 4-month-old baby boy whose mother had dropped her off before going to work.

Eventually, though, we came to the surprising (to us) conclusion that the case against Randall, which then-Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas had trumpeted as yet another example of his being "tough" on crime, was a dog, a rush to judgment, a miscarriage of justice.
 

We also became convinced after looking at all the evidence and speaking to experts in the field of child abuse that officials, including Peoria police detectives, county prosecutors and the doctor who performed the autopsy, were wrong--that the death of little Dillon Uutela hadn't been a murder at all.


Randall, now 50, spent about seven months behind bars during her three-year ordeal, and was under house arrest until Judge Michael Kemp tossed out the case last July.

Just days before trial, prosecutors had asked Judge Kemp to dismiss the case against Randall, which he did in such a way that it cannot be refiled. A happy ending for the Valley native and her family.

Here's the rub:

It probably wouldn't have happened had not then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas resigned to run for Arizona Attorney General (he lost in the primary) in the spring of 2010. 

With Rick Romley temporarily running the office, a team of senior prosecutors reexamined the Randall case, and unanimously concluded that any likelihood of a conviction was scant.

Those opinions were forged after an expert witness hired by the prosecution to analyze the evidence concluded that no crime, much less a homicide, had been committed.

"I cannot support the cause of death as being blunt-force trauma of the head and neck," wrote Dr. Cliff Nelson--a medical examiner for the state of Oregon--to the prosecution team. "Not only is the conclusion unsupported, I feel most of the observations of that conclusion are in error."

Dr. Kevin Horn, a county medical medical examiner, had determined that Dillon's death was a "homicide," citing typical signs of blunt-force child abuse such as bleeding in the baby's eyes and brain, and a tiny crack in his skull.

But Dr. Nelson concluded that "at this point the cause of death remains undetermined...I have had other cases thought [by pediatricians] to be deaths due to inflicted head trauma by which after complete death investigation proved the result of a SIDS-like event."

In other word, little Dillon Uutela's death will remain a mystery.

It comes as no surprise to us that Lisa Randall has filed a $12.6 million claim seeking damages against Maricopa County and the City of Peoria--specifically naming Andrew Thomas, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and several other individuals.

But lawsuits such as hers usually are uphill struggles: Public officials, including prosecutors, medical examiners and cops do make mistakes like the rest of us, and honest mistakes rarely translate into money-making civil judgments for those who have been wronged.

But we gotta tell ya:

The lives of Lisa Randall and her family will never be the same as the result of what happened to her in Maricopa County's criminal-justice system, and that is the truth.


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10 comments
Gerry_C
Gerry_C

By prosecuting people where evidence was light or lacking, seeking the death penalty when not warranted, and other measures, Andrew Thomas did not portray a prosecutor tough on crime. He presented as an immature little brat that made up for his incompetence by passing his decisions on to the Jury.

"Let's try this loser case and see what happens."

"Charge it high and maybe we will get a plea."

"Scare him into taking a deal and copping to something he did not do."

"Seek the death penalty and see what happens."

"I am tough on crime."

"I am Andrew Thomas"

Shelly
Shelly

I agree, poor woman! First, a healthy baby doesn't run a temperature for 10 days. Dillon had not been to the sitters for a week prior because he had been ill! And it was the concerned babysitter who told the young, inexperienced mother that she needed to take her baby to the doctor because of his continuing fever. Sounds like this woman dedicated her entire life to caring for children.This baby had no visible injuries. No marks. No bruises. Yet they went after this poor woman anyway- and for Capital Murder!! Honest mistakes?? I think not! Two Grand Jury's refused to indict Lisa, yet they still pursued her. And even after the state's own expert said there was no evidence of wrong doing, they continued on with the case against her! Doesn't sound like an "oops" to me. A panel had voted 8 to 0 that there wasn't enough evidence to proceed against Lisa, yet they continued anyway! Obviously, not an "honest mistake!" Seems very malicious to me! This poor woman has had almost four years of her life taken from her. And time taken from her family and loved ones. She's lost her marriage and her home. What hell she has been through! Shame on Arizona, Peoria Police, Moran, Horn, Andrew Thomas and everyone involved for all their injust acts against Lisa. I don't think there's an amount too high to pay for all the hell they put this woman and her family through! And I sure hope she makes everyone involved pay! Go Lisa!!! It makes me wonder how many innocent people have been caught up in our injust system. I would sure hate to be accussed of anything in the state of AZ because you are definitely guilty until proven innocent. Where's the Justice?? God Bless and Best Wishes to you, Lisa Randall and Family!

The Man Who Played God
The Man Who Played God

I second your blessing to the Randall family.Yesterday AM, I was in my bosses office and had to suffer through five minutes worth of the Rush Limbaugh radio program... and guess what Limbaugh and his female shill were discussing - none other than Andrew Thomas and what he did to Lisa Randall. They both spat upon the diseased man called Thomas and encouraged him to write Ms. Randall a fat check (as though that might salve the torment of what Lisa has lost because of the human garbage who calls himself Andrew Thomas)

TheChef
TheChef

Can you say "Matt Bandy?"

The Man Who Played God
The Man Who Played God

I have just one question for our erstwhile county attorney:WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU ?

Mr. Thomas, you would do well in filing an S.S.I. application and one for the State's Magellin psych assistance program, as you, sir, are seriously mentally ill.In a blog response to a long ago news post by James King, regarding your mindless attack on Judge Donohoe, I referred to you as Arpaio's red-headed stepchild. That does disservice to the sheriff. You are the endgame of useless human disease. Someone once told me you were a graduate of Harvard Law - an obvious lie. Doubtful you graduated from anything but a juvenile case of acne.

Who gave you the notion that Constitutional law (you have heard of that, haven't you ?) is to be subscribed to only when personally expediate ?And what gives you the right to play God ? Do have any clue what you put Lisa Randall through ? Do you care ? You heartlessly destroyed that woman by lying and manipulation; and for what ? Because you are unwilling to admit you're wrong ? You seem to believe that pursuing prosecution all the way in the glaring face of failure is less embarrassing than being a man and saying "I was wrong, I apologize" PLEASE tell me there are no children who look to you for guidance, as they will be ruined for the effort.You are a diseased man who we are better off without. May you lose everything, your law practice, your home, cars, and bank accounts, everything, except your self respect, since you never had any to begin with.If I was one of Lisa Randall's civil jurors, she wouldn't get 12.6 million, I'd award her $126,000,000.00

XSoldier
XSoldier

Unfortunately, Candy has 4 kids that look to him for guidance. And his wife is reportedly an illegal immigrant.....

Other than that, well said.

The Man Who Played God
The Man Who Played God

You would think he'd want to set a bettre example of honesty, fair play and humility.Instead, Andy-ass creates fraudulent Grand Jury indictments, and costs this county hundreds of millions of dollars, just because he lacks the integrity required to say I-Was-Wrong.

Freedom Fighter
Freedom Fighter

"Public officials, including prosecutors, medical examiners and cops do make mistakes like the rest of us, and honest mistakes rarely translate into money-making civil judgments for those who have been wronged." - -

Does this passage suggest that the players involved in THIS CASE were "honestly mistaken"? Hardly the case . . . .

XSoldier
XSoldier

Poor Ms. Randall. I hope she gets every penny. I'd galdly cut her a check for the hell she endured.

She's accused by an overzealous Peoria PD for what amounts to be a mystery death, is then handcuffed, perp-walked, and indicted by Maricopa County's mentally unstable former county attorney, Candy Ass Thomas.

However, when the facts of the case tell Candy the opposite, what does he do? He pushes forward, and files notice to seek the needle. This, after Judge Donahoe (Candy and the Flaccid Fool's biggest rival during that time) tells lawyers for both sides that he is unsure he'd seek the death penalty and is unsure of even scoring a verdict.

Unfortunately, Judge Donahoe fell victim to Candy and the MCSO shurf's political bullshit and now he has a $4.75 million lawsuit pending against the county for what Candy Andy and the Ancient One did. I'd gladly cut him a check too. He has suffered irreparable harm.

It took her spending more than $220,000 to resolve the never-existent charges, and is probably costing her even more to resolve her lawsuit.

Mr. Burke and Mr. Holder, when are those indictments gonna be handed up?

Stacy:I agree 100% that Candy Ass Thomas should be sued. I think Thomas tried to say that he convicted Judge Donahoe, and that he was "tough on crime". Sure makes me glad that Mr. Horne won the GOP primary or we'd all be in serious trouble....I further agree that Mr. Romley had the balls to admit that this was a tough case and that he did not want to expose the county to potential civil liability. If anything, Mr. Romley should have run for the AG's Office, not Candy.......

Stacy
Stacy

poor woman... and also poor baby. But fact of the matter is, if Thomas tried to use this case as a way to tout his "Tough on Crime" campaign then he should definitely be sued. I'm glad that Romley had the cajones to admit that this may be a tough case to prosecute. He saved the tax payers in costly litigation and perhaps spared us (the taxpayers) from further liability damages. I hope this woman finds resolve and that the county and her can come to a mutual agreed settlement.

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