Jeanette Sliwinski, the lingerie model who killed three Chicago musicians, including my friend Doug Meis, was found mentally ill and guilty of reckless homicide instead of the three counts of first-degree murder sought by prosecutors. Rather than life in prison, Sliwinski faces a maximum of ten years in prison when she is sentenced later this month.
When Michael Mukasey, President Bush's nominee to succeed Alberto Gonzalez as Attorney General, faced Congress last week he was presented with a long list of questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he was expected to respond in writing. The resulting document is well over 100 pages. Dick Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois, asked Mukasey specifically about the Cornbleet murder case, which has been reported on and discussed extensively at this site. Mukasey's responses are not edifying in any way, but the fact that the question was asked is significant and so, in the interest of completeness, here is the text of the exchange:
34. On October 24, 2006, Dr. David Cornbleet of Chicago was brutally murdered in his office by a former patient, Hans Peterson. Peterson is a U.S. Citizen who was born in the United States and lived in the United States up until the time of the murder. After the murder, Peterson fled to the French West Indies, turned himself in to the French authorities, and confessed to killing Dr. Cornbleet. Peterson's mother was a French citizen, and therefore Peterson is also considered a French citizen under French law. Because French law prohibits the extradition of French citizens to the United States, France is refusing to extradite Peterson to face trial for his crimes in Illinois. Media reports indicate the [sic] Peterson purposefully fled to French territory and turned himself in to French authorities because he knew that if he was convicted for murder under French law, he would face more lenient punishment than under American law.
a. If you are confirmed as Attorney General, will you work to see that justice is done in the matter of Dr. Cornbleet's murder?
ANSWER: I am not familiar with the specific facts of Dr. Cornbleet's murder.
b. If you are confirmed as Attorney General, will you work with other federal agencies to ensure that U.S. citizens who have dual citizenship with another country are not able to commit murder within the United States and then surrender to the authorities of the other country in order to avoid justice in the United States?
ANSWER: It is true that dual citizenship can raise complex issues. I would consider this type of question on a case-by-case basis and examine the facts and applicable law in each situation in which it arose.
On October 24, the first anniversary of Dr. Cornbleet's murder, Channel 5 in Chicago ran another update on the case. Much of this material will be used in the upcoming Dateline NBC feature.
The Cornbleet family is still asking people to contact the US State Department and urge them to continue to pressure the French to extradite Hans Peterson for the crime.
UPDATE: The story of Dr. Cornbleet's murder will air tonight (Monday, November 5) on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 at 9:00 PM Central Time.