Dismissal an Injustice, Mom of LCSD2 Student Lost to Suicide Says
The mother of a Carpenter Elementary School fifth grader whose music teacher was charged after the 11-year-old slipped away from her classroom and hanged himself in a school bathroom says the recent dismissal of the teacher's case is an “injustice.”
Amelia Giordano's trial was set to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 23, but the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office dropped the case last Friday, Jan. 19, saying it couldn't meet its burden of proof.
Giordano was facing a misdemeanor count of abandoning or endangering a child stemming from the Jan. 9, 2023, suicide of Paul Pine Jr., and would have faced up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both, had she been convicted.
"This dismissal was a very cowardly position to take after having enough evidence to press charges, attend court hearings, file the pretrial memorandum, attend a hearing regarding limitations of evidence which they had no objection to and serving subpoenas on witnesses," Paul Jr.'s mother, Chandel Pine, said in a Facebook post (see below) on Tuesday evening.
But DA Sylvia Hackl says the burden of proof to bring charges is different than the burden of proof to prove someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
"I won't say this happens often because it doesn't, but there are cases in which we believe we have enough to charge, and then as the case develops, realize we don't have enough to take it to trial," said Hackl. "That's what happened here."
Hackl says they were getting different information from the Pines and school administrators regarding the level of supervision the Pines wished to have for Paul Jr.
"Their position is that he was to be watched and accompanied anytime he left the classroom, and the school district's position is that the Pines themselves had asked that be relaxed after the holidays and that he be allowed to be more like a regular kid and not have to be supervised every juncture," said Hackl.
Still, Chandel Pine says Giordano is the reason her son is no longer here.
"Truly, this dismissal was an injustice to our family, Laramie County residents and Amelia Giordano," she said. "What happened to the right to a trial by an impartial jury chosen from a cross-section of your peers?"
"I understand that the Pines are absolutely devastated by this event and they're very upset at our decision," said Hackl. "I empathize with that and I also believe it's the right decision."
Hackl says she and Deputy DA Bill Edelman also had some concerns about how the outcome of a jury trial would impact the Pines' civil case, which is currently pending in United States District Court.
"Both Mr. Edelman and I talked to their attorney and expressed our concerns that if for example Ms. Giordano was found guilty, would that enable the school district in a civil case to point their fingers at her and say it's all her fault and thus absolve themselves of liability? And I don't know the answer to that question by the way. But we were also concerned if there was a not guilty verdict, would that undermine the strength of the civil case," Hackl said.
"The DA was more concerned about how the outcome of the jury trial would affect our civil case than we or our attorney were," said Chandel Pine.
"The DA should only be concerned that justice is served by prosecuting individuals accused of committing crimes," she added.
Because the case was dismissed without prejudice, Hackl says her office could refile if additional or different information comes to light.
"I do not anticipate that it will, but that left us with the most options," she said.
As some of you may or may not know the Laramie County District Attorney, dismissed the charges against Amelia Loren Giordano on Friday, days before the trial was set to begin. I have always believed in justice and our legal system until this past year. This dismissal was a very cowardly position to take after having enough evidence to press charges, attend court hearings, file the pretrial memorandum, attend a hearing regarding limitations of evidence which they had no objection to and serving subpoenas on witnesses to only dismiss. Make no mistake that Amelia Giordano is the reason our son is no longer here. Paul was in a class of nine and her class allotted time was 30 minutes. She allowed him to leave class 8 minutes early and never bothered looking for him or notifying anyone that he was missing. In the surveillance footage that WE obtained via a private attorney, because Laramie County School District #2 would not release the video footage to Laramie County Sheriff's Office, you can clearly see Amelia’s disregard for where Paul was, she rolled her eyes with her hands on her hips as if annoyed that he wasn’t responding when she called his name. The bathroom door was propped open while she and another teacher stood there and did absolutely nothing. Even once they found Paul, called 911 and were performing CPR Amelia hid. When she was questioned she admitted she knew he was not to be alone at school and had had suicidal thoughts. The District Attorney did not even know she was still teaching until we met on Thursday afternoon. The DA was more concerned about how the outcome of the jury trial would affect our civil case then we or our attorney were. The DA should only be concerned that justice is served by prosecuting individuals accused of committing crimes.
Truly, this dismissal was an injustice to our family, Laramie County residents and Amelia Giordano. What happend to the right to a trial by an impartial jury chosen from a cross-section of your peers?
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Gallery Credit: Conor Walsh