Nah. Updating doesn’t go quite far enough; I really should eat a little more crow. But just a little.
Let’s try that again — and I’m going to leave the original up, for historical purposes. Bloggers — well, ones who care to do it right — don’t throw errors down the memory hole. Hence, Version 1.1.
Let’s start off by reviewing the key paragraph in our last episode:
On April 16 of 2008, Sheriff Bob Fletcher and Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner filed a hundred-page petition (here’s Part 1; here’s Part 2) with District Judge Joanne Smith, requesting that the judge revoke what they called Wilson’s “conceal and carry permit”, and documenting, in great detail, each and every one of the incidents above. In detail. The petition had been written and researched by David Rossman — then a deputy assigned to Sheriff Fletcher’s gun permit unit.
Which, combined with all the other strangenesses, was more than strange enough.
This morning it got stranger. The following was posted in the comments — go look for yourself.
I represent Ms. Wilson. You are wrong on many of your facts.
In addition, the incidents of 2004 and 2007, did not involve Michelle Rae Wilson. Those incidents involved another “Michelle Wilson”. Ms. Wilson has no son named Terrance. She was not the perpetrator in those situations. I guess you should print at retraction.
All of this is wrong:
“In 2004, two neighbors accused Wilson and another son of pouring sugar in their car’s gas tank; according to police records, one said that, “Michelle Wilson threatened to blow up her house and kill her. She taunted her to go outside.” She owed Wilson $60, and couldn’t pay. Vandalism is a crime; terroristic threats are a felony.
“But Wilson was never prosecuted — SPPD Officer Kong just left a card at the house — and it all went away.
“In 2007, Nakeshia Britton, a high school classmate of Wilson’s son Terrence, got another restraining order, claiming that Wilson, her son and others had followed Britton’s school bus home, after which Wilson and her son Terrence, “came up on the porch with broken beer bottles and a bat trying to hit me… and told Edna, my foster mom, to let me come out so they can kick my retarded ass.” She said that they tried to force their way in.”
Michelle has a clean record. Her friends and neighbors love her. You wrote a very unfair and factually false piece as it pertains to her.
Attorney for Michelle Rae Wilson
I’m always up for correcting any facts, of course, and I have good reason to credit Mr. Wolf’s claims of this morning that the 2004 and 2007 incidents were another Michelle Wilson.
But, let’s be clear: they’re not my facts. The source for the story wasn’t my imagination — I’m just a fiction writer, by trade, and I couldn’t have made this stuff up; it’s far too weird for fiction.
The 1996 incidents, which Mr. Wolf doesn’t dispute was his client, is from sections #6 and #7 in Sheriff Fletcher’s and County Attorney Susan Gaertner’s revocation petition, and their Exhibit K and and Exhibit L, both of which were submitted to the court in support of that petition.
Somebody accused of hounding an ex for four years (and that’s what the accusation is in Exhibit K and L; I don’t know if the accusers were lying) being issued a carry permit in Ramsey County? Let’s not be silly. That wouldn’t happen unless the applicant was connected — say, by being the aunt of a Saint Paul cop.
But let’s turn to the two incidents that Mr. Wolf does — and with good reason — dispute.
The 2004 incident, which Mr. Wolf does say was some other Michelle Wilson (and he appears to be right) is also from Sheriff Fletcher’s revocation petition, in which he claims that Respondent — that’s Mr. Wolf’s client — was named as a criminal suspect, and which Sheriff Fletcher supports with his Exhibit J.
The 2007 incident, which Mr. Wolf also says was some other Michelle Wilson, is, yet again, from Sheriff Fletcher’s revocation petition, in which Sheriff Fletcher claims that Respondent — that’s still Mr. Wolf’s client — was hit by a restraining order, and which he supports by his Exhibit I.
Let’s assume — he does seem credible to me; you decide for yourself — that Mr. Wolf is right. Why — when trying to revoke (instead of to suspend, with a one-page petition citing the pending charges) a carry permit of a woman who was sitting in jail, accused of murder — did Sheriff Fletcher throw accusations about another Michelle (or Michele; and without the “Rae”) Wilson into the mix?
The reason I credit what Mr. Wolf says is that it appears that “Michelle Rae Wilson” has lived at the Iglehart address since 1996, whereas the “Michelle (or Michele) Wilson” in the 2004 and 2007 incidents lived at a Dale Street or Magnolia Avenue address. It is highly improbable Michelle Rae Wilson maintained two or three separate residences simultaneously.
Also, Mr. Wolf’s client apparently always uses her middle name in official matters. I suspect that the other Michelle (or Michele) Wilson doesn’t have a middle name. This is expressly identified as a fact on the West side of the river with a “NMN,” for “No Middle Name.” It aids in correct identification.
I can easily imagine the conversation between client and attorney concerning the background: “That’s not me; it’s someone else with most of my name,” Michelle Rae Wilson probably said.
I, and others with whom I researched this article, are humbled by the revelation from Mr. Wolf. We should have caught it in our fact-checking and it appears so obvious with 20-20 hindsight. No; we are chastened. Thank you, Mr. Wolf; no excuses; we will make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
No excuses, but here’s the explanation: we all were overwhelmed with the outrageousness of the overkill of Sheriff Fletcher’s petition to revoke, when a petition to suspend would have sufficed.
“Methinks she [don’t visualize Sheriff Fletcher in a dress; you’ll burn your retinas. JR] doth protest too much.” We, too, took the lengthy petition at face value and neglected to double-check the citations, simply because the Sheriff and the County claimed the asserted facts as true and adopted them. That’s our explanation, such as it is. Why didn’t County Attorney Susan Gaertner, Assistant County Attorney Karen A. Kugler, or the judge who signed off on Sheriff Fletcher’s petition didn’t check his homework?
I guess you’ll have to ask them; I’ll not draw any conclusions. Yet.
And I’ll refrain from drawing any conclusion as to the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office malice, at least at this point, when simple, bumbling incompetence provides an entirely sufficient answer, and yet another argument that somebody should always be checking out Sheriff Fletcher’s allegations, and not believing them until they’ve been reliably confirmed.
There are other good questions which still remain. Why wasn’t the 1996 restraining order enough reason for Sheriff Fletcher to deny Michelle Rae Wilson’s permit application in the first place? He’s certainly denied other applicants for less.
Why, when she was sitting in jail, did he apparently throw every accusation he could find up against the wall and see what would stick? Wasn’t the murder charge enough?
And why, after years in the Ramsey County Sheriffs Office gun unit, was David Rossman transferred to patrol after researching and writing that petition — apparently to the best of his demonstrably limited abilities?
Apparently, one of the possibilities I raised in the last episode has not panned out: the transfer was apparently not a reward for the accuracy and thoroughness of the research he did in the revocation petition. What did happen with the bumbling Deputy Rossman — and why? Is it possible that, after deciding that Rossman was too incompetent to properly shuffle paper around, Fletcher put him in a squad car with a handgun and a shotgun to do things requiring far better and sharper immediate judgment than he’d already demonstrated was lacking in his leisurely, carefully-considered one during his time in the gun permit unit?
I’d love to know the answers to these questions.
And there’s more. Me, I think it would also have been news to many of us, back in 2008, after the murder, that the accused murderer was a Saint Paul PD dog cop’s aunt, using supposedly, the gun that that same cop had given her.
Doesn’t that sound like news to you?
Ah, if only there were some enterprise locally, that hired people to look into interesting questions about public figures and public officials, then reviewed and edited their reports, and printed them daily upon some inexpensive medium for public distribution.
Instead, what we’ve got is the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.