On April 8, 2002, staff writer Linda Davis published an article in the Contra Costa Times about a man convicted of voluntary manslaughter. The article was titled Addict, Convict, Author, and focused on a former California resident, Jimmy Lerner. A thorough review of the article raises many moral and ethical questions about the individual, the legal system and the media. The nature of the crime and events leading up to Jimmy Lerner's minor celebrity status leaves one to believe criminals should not profit from his crime, nor should they be given recognition as a celebrity. This research paper will reveal contradictory statements, and raise question or doubt about the conviction, the sentence served and Lerner's potential mental state to support the belief that criminals should not reap any rewards from his or her crime. Jimmy Lerner is a shrewd individual who managed to profit from his ability to exploit the system by lying and manipulating people. His background is impressive; having an MBA and a successful 18 year career at Pacific Bell as a marketing executive. At the time of his heinous crime, Jimmy Lerner was a middle aged man, married with two daughters, living in an upscale community outside San Francisco. This was a man living the American dream but his addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling brought that way of life to an end.
In November 1997 Jimmy Lerner killed a friend, Mark Slavin, during a weekend of drinking, drugs and gambling. On that fateful weekend, Jimmy Lerner beat and strangled Mark Slavin with a belt and plastic bag. When Jimmy Lerner called 911 he claimed to have killed Mark Slavin in self defense, yet he exhibited no self defense wounds from the knife wielding victim. The only indication of conflict on Lerner's body was his swollen hands from beating and strangling Mark Slavin. Jimmy Lerner had a great deal to lose if he was convicted of charges beyond self defense.
Jimmy Lerner was a desperate man attempting to map out a plan to keep himself from being convicted of pre-meditated murder, a conviction that could carry a sentence of life imprisonment or worse. He had a quick mind and the on-the-job training he received from Pacific Bell gave him the tools to build a rapport with key stakeholders (jurors) and know how to mirror or echo the behaviors and speech patterns of people. The skill set he gained from the job seminars prepared this shrewd man to develop a strategy of lying and manipulation to minimize the outcome of his conviction. This was an educated man possessing the skills to exploit the system and coerce or lie to people for his benefit. Reading and comparing media articles, interviews and other records reveal numerous incidents of his lying and manipulating ways to position himself as the victim and get the sympathy of the media, associates and onlookers. In court he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and showed sincere remorse for his actions in self defense. Not surprising, his sentence was limited to serve two to twelve years in prison with the opportunity for parole. How does a man come away with such a sentence after beating and strangling another person with- their own hands, especially considering the fact that drugs and money were involved? In a television interview after his release he did not express similar remorse. If Mark Slavin was a friend, even under the influence of drugs and alcohol, why would Lerner have exerted the energy to kill him rather than disarm him of a pocket knife when he had control of the situation? Lerner is liar; he wanted Mark Slavin dead for other reasons. In Lerner's book he refers to Mark Slavin as a "monster" who was a pathological liar and obsessed with child pornography. Perhaps Lerner was the "monster" who obsessed over child pornography and Slavin intended to use his knowledge of these shortcomings to blackmail him. Lerner's motive for killing Slavin may have been to prevent him from exposing these undesirable traits to his family...
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