Homicide at Sam Donaldson's Ranch
  Vera Ockenfels, the Cody Posey defense team's mitigation specialist, discusses his conviction
Feb. 8, 2006

Court TV Host: Joining us now, Vera Ockenfels, Cody Posey's defense team's mitigation specialist.

Vera Ockenfels: Hello.

Court TV Host: Thank you for joining us today, and taking time out of what is obviously a very busy day for you.

Vera Ockenfels: My pleasure.

Court TV Host: Is there anything you'd like to say before we take questions from online?

Vera Ockenfels: Nah.

Court TV Host: Okay, then we'll get to it...there are MANY people with questions for you...

Question from tara: Vera, do you expect the judge to sentence Cody as an adult or juvenile?

Vera Ockenfels: My fear is an adult. My hope is as a juvenile.

Question from meliss: Vera, I just wanted to thank you and Mr. Mitchell for all that you have done for Cody. I am so proud of you! Do you think there will be an appeal?

Question from awakening2lite: Hello Vera Ockenfels, will there be an appeal?

Question from Alison: Vera Ockenfels, thanks for all you've done and continue to do on Cody's behalf.

Vera Ockenfels: Yes, there definitely will be an appeal.

Question from Laurie: How is Cody doing? We are worried about him.

Vera Ockenfels: You know, Cody is really upset, Crying, his head is hanging like it has his entire life.

Question from TootTooter: What role did you play in the trial?

Vera Ockenfels: Mitigation specialist. In cases in which there is a very serious penalty, i.e., death or a large number of years, defense lawyers hire essentially an investigator such as myself to work up a social history. In this case, it happened to be front-loaded in the trial, because it was directly relevant to defense issues. However, in most cases, the info I gather is used at the sentencing hearing

Question from Deano: How will the defense team handle the disposition hearing?

Question from Janeygirl: What do you plan on saying to help Cody?

Vera Ockenfels: We really have to meet about that. I don't want to comment directly on how we're going to handle it. Basically the idea is to present Cody in a sympathetic light and try to get him the childhood he never had.

Question from Cosmo: It's documented that kids flip out on Zoloft.....why didn't they use this in part of the defense ?

Vera Ockenfels: Well, if dr. Dimotta [cody's family doctor] had testified, we might have gone into that. Insofar as it's relevant to his failure to follow up -- because it's always been our concern that Cody never received treatment, one-on-one psychotherapy. That's what you're supposed to do with depressed patients, but we were not ever interested in making this a Zoloft case.

Question from Lori: Hi, Vera_Ockenfels, Cody didn't have an attorney present while being questioned, do you know if that can be used in an appeal?

Vera Ockenfels: Certainly, and it will be, certainly, a point of appeal. There was a pre-trial motion to suppress on that issue.

Question from frenchie: What can you tell us about the jury? What kind of people are they?

Vera Ockenfels: I wasn't present during jury selection.

Question from snuffy: Do you think you'll be allowed to present the evidence of intergenerational abuse in the Posey family?

Vera Ockenfels: Yes, I do. The rules of evidence are more relaxed at a dispositional hearing.

Question from tribe: Isn't the judge limited by the verdicts themselves? Manslaughter allows remanding him to a juvey facility, but murder convictions mandate he be sentenced as adult?

Vera Ockenfels: First, the judge has discretion even on the first-degree conviction to sentence Cody as a juvenile or an adult. In other words, zero to 30 years on that one count, without parole. So to a limited degree, the judge is limited by the verdicts.

Question from Geeter: Vera, why didn't Cody get to live with his aunt after his mother died? Why, even though he didn't want to, did he have to go back with his father?

Vera Ockenfels: I can't answer that.

Question from Leayra: Are they going to put Cody on suicide watch?

Vera Ockenfels: It depends on Cody's mood while incarcerated, but probably.

Court TV Host: We have an amazingly large number of questions...but the most common ones are along these lines...

Question from cindy: Hello Vera, can we write to Cody? If so, where can we send him cards?

Question from paulhenry: How can we reach Mr. Mitchell to e-mail? I am willing to donate to a pot to help Cody with an appeal.

Question from fairmaidenten: Vera, please tell us how we can send our letters of love and support to Cody.

Question from Diana: What can we do to help Cody?

Question from Laurie: Can we write to Cody?

Question from morningstar: Do you think that there is anything we can do to help Cody?

Question from Tia: What can be done by the public to bring attention to this injustice, who do we write? What can we do??

Vera Ockenfels: I don't think I would be remiss to say that they can reach Cody through Gary Mitchell's office You can get his address through his web site or qwestdex.com [yellow pages online] Or it's: http://gmitchelllaw.com/

Question from coverton: Would it help to submit letters to the judge asking him to throw out the jury's verdict?

Vera Ockenfels: The judge isn't allowed to receive them. However, you can send those letters to Gary's office, especially if you're from Alamogordo.

Question from solidgoldangel: What other information is given to the judge to help decide sentencing?

Vera Ockenfels: There's going to be reports, further testimony from witnesses whose testimony was not previously allowed, more psycho-evaluation and argument.

Question from Kay: How tough is this judge on children in cases similar to this in his sentencing?

Vera Ockenfels: I can't comment on that . I don't know this judge's history.

Question from HC: Why didn't Cody's doctor testify?

Vera Ockenfels: Neither the state nor the defense thought he was going to be helpful.

Question from tribe: How much effect will the fact this judge is in an elected position have on the final sentencing?

Vera Ockenfels: That's always a concern. I can't say how much it will effect the decision, but I can also say that it's perceived to always have an effect on the judge's decision.

Question from tybee: Can you better elaborate on Cody's altercations with other inmates and staff while in detention?

Vera Ockenfels: Simply, Cody is, due to the nature of the charges, subject to challenges from other kids that are prone to stir trouble and challenge him into manhood.

Question from KM: Vera, I heard that you will be appealing, will that be filed right away or will you wait until after sentencing?

Vera Ockenfels: It has to happen after disposition under the rules.

Question from JERRY2: Vera, Paul Posey's brother was just in here chatting and he said that Cody lied and deceived his whole life, "even as a baby"? Comment?

Question from Laurie: Verlin Posey said abuse was one person's opinion. He sounded a lot different in this chat then he did on the stand!

Vera Ockenfels: Abused children may use lying as a tool to keep out of trouble. Would it surprise anyone of us that Cody might have lied to cast himself in a better light to avoid trouble with his father? And who doesn't know kids who haven't lied? Let's not ever forget Cody's a child. When it matters, Cody has not been deceptive or deceitful or disingenuous, never.

Question from cherie: Vera_Ockenfels What in your opinion was the most damaging point against Cody in the trial?

Vera Ockenfels: The homicides -- the simple fact he killed three people, one of whom was a child.

Question from AnnaAgain: What kind of person is Cody Posey, as you know him to be?

Vera Ockenfels: Cody is a remarkable young man. He's bright, Articulate, Engaged, interested in others, asks all the right questions, and he has a big heart. If it wasn't for his unfortunate upbringing, he would be the boy that you would always want for your own child.

Question from solidgoldangel: Vera, it seems there is so much that was not allowed in the court. Can this information be brought forward at appeal?

Vera Ockenfels: Absolutely. The judge's rulings are always subject to review by an appellate court to determine if there was error on the admission or failure to admit evidence in the form of witness testimony or documents.

Question from Jaymie: Vera, do you think yesterday's motion from the prosecution, on the judge and ex parte communication, will affect the sentencing?

Vera Ockenfels: This judge has been fair throughout the trial. We expect him to be fair through the sentencing.

Court TV Host: I know you've got to go soon to be back on Court TV...

Question from morningstar: How is Cody's defense being funded, does he need money?

Question from What: In other words, what can we do to help, is there anything?

Question from bolive: Is there a defense fund set up, for people to donate funds for Cody's continued defense?

Question from snuffy: Is there anything we can do to help support your efforts, even though we are outside of the immediate area?

Question from What: Is there any way people can sign a petition or request asking the judge for leniency for Cody?

Vera Ockenfels: All of those sorts of requests should be handled by Gary Mitchell's office: http://gmitchelllaw.com/  There is e-mail, phone, address. Thank you so much for support. All positive stuff is very heart-felt. I've got to go.

Court TV Host: Thanks for being our guest online today.

Vera Ockenfels: My pleasure.

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