Some People

March 23, 2005

I do not work in criminal law but stumbled across the following case researching an entirely different topic (always entertaining to see what LexisNexis turns up). I include a taste for your reading enjoyment:

[*P3] Pinder owned a lion, which he kept in a pen on his Duchesne County ranch. Pinder kept a baseball bat, which he used to intimidate the beast, near the lion’s pen. On a Sunday evening in late October 1998, Pinder used that bat to strike June Flood in the face, the first in a series of brutal and gruesome acts spanning several days, including a double murder and the implementation of a horrific scheme to destroy all evidence of the crime.

[*P4] Pinder did not commit those acts alone. At trial, Filomeno Ruiz, an ostensible ranch hand, testified that he was present both when Pinder beat Flood and Rex Tanner with the baseball bat and when Pinder subsequently shot and killed the two victims.

[*P5] Ruiz styled himself a member of the “Mexican Mafia” and was heavily involved in the drug trade. Pinder’s primary purpose for keeping Ruiz at the ranch was to ensure a ready supply of drugs for his own use. At trial, Pinder conceded that Ruiz was a “drug smuggling, gun running, mafioso, wife beating, dog killer.” Pinder additionally acknowledged that, while Ruiz did some work on the ranch–including feeding the ostriches and the ranch’s resident lion–Ruiz was not supervised by Pinder’s ranch hand supervisor. In fact, Pinder admitted that Ruiz did very little work at the ranch and agreed that Ruiz was no ordinary ranch hand, but was more akin to a personal employee. Pinder loaned his “personal employee” an AK-47 n1 for “work on the ranch” and also provided him training in explosives. It was this personal employee who accompanied Pinder on the night he killed Flood and Tanner.

n1 An AK-47 is “a Soviet-designed 7.62 mm (.30 cal.) gas-operated magazine-fed rifle for automatic or semi-automatic fire.” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 28 (11th ed. 2003).

For the rest of this riveting and gruesome story dealing with such dignified representatives of the human race, see State v. Pinder, 2005 UT 15.