Sunday, March 09, 2014

NBC Dateline: "Miles from Nowhere" on "Saturday Night Mysteries"

NBC Dateline, with Lester Holt, aired a premier 2-hour of “Saturday Night Mysteries” on March 8,  a stunning docudrama “Miles from Nowhere.”
It was the story of reclusive “Christian” family, headed by Chad Wallin-Reed, an ex-military type, that had set up a completely unplugged hideway cabin in the high Sierras near Susanville, CA (I was there in 1978).  They seem like Doomsdaty Preppers.  Over the July 4 weekend of 2011, some teenagers repeatedly drove up the mountain roads having heard rumors of a party.  After some very minor vandalism, Chad chased them and shot at them, wounding two of them seriously, one of whom (Rory MaGuire) would die in a Reno hospital of a head wound.  A story in the Sacramento Bee on the Plumas County jury's verdict is here.  
Chad eventually got a game warden and then the sheriff to come.  The boys were rescued after about twelve hours.  Chad was prosecuted for first degree murder, which seems unbelievable.  California does not have a “stand your ground “ law but does allow self-defense in jury instructions.  But there seemed to be some evidence (as with an oil streak in the woods) that Chad had pursued them unnecessarily.  A huge cache of weapons was found in his home, some of them not legal in California (but legal in Nevada).  Questions about Chad’s military record appeared at trial.
The jury found Chad guilty, and he essentially got a life sentence. 
The presentation of the case is quite compelling. The visual and narrative style reminded me of a couple of films, particularly “Funny Games” (Michael Haneke, 2007, a remake of a 1997 Austrian film), and particularly “The House of Adam” (2006), by Jorge Ameer (Movie reviews, March 12, 2012).   

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