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Mon Apr 23, 2012, 06:52 PM

Norwegian student risks 35 years in jail in the US - made a wrong turn [View all]

http://www.vg.no/nyheter/utenriks/artikkel.php?artid=10073343 Translation follows

This is a story about what must be one of the most unlucky people ever. This is a guy that moved to the states because he was bullied at his school in Oslo. In 2002 he studied in Chicago. He was assaulted by two people while jogging, and in September the same year his school kicked him out because he might be a terrorist. He sued the school so that he might continue his studies elsewhere.

He has spent the last seven months in Navajo County Jail, mostly isolated, with handcuffs and foot chains, convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The weapon: His moms rental car.

On Saturday 24th of September last year, John and his mother were driving from Los Angeles to Chicago in John´s Volvo. His mother was driving, when a warning light comes on indicating something is wrong with a tire. She decided to exit at the first opportunity, Winslow, Arizona. However something is wrong with the steering and they crash in the central reserve.

They are taken for a check-up at Winslow hospital, then they need a rental car. A taxi driver took them to Flagstaff where they could pick up a rental car, then they headed back to Winslow to get their belongings. On this day, the annual music festival was going on in Winslow. John mistakenly turns into Winslow´s 2. street going the wrong way down the one way street full of people enjoying the festivities. John drives slowly but some people still hurl abuse and make threatening gestures towards the car.

When he tried to turn into the Auto Shop where his Volvo was towed, a crowd surrounded the car and his mother panicked and told him to get out of there. He backed up against a curb and got a flat tire. He stopped a few meters away from a hot dog stand. There is a woman and her kids inside the hot dog stand, the car never made any contact with them or the stand. Many of the witnessess thinks this is deadly dangerous driving. They drive around the block, enter 2. street the right way and stop. The car is surrounded by people. Michael Mendoza, saw what happened from his store and had chased the car around the block thinking John had attemted to kill his wife and children. John has the window rolled down and is reciving verbal abuse when Mendoza shows up and punches John in the face, spewing blood all over the steeringwheel, breaking his nose.

He panicks, hits the gas, turns in the street and leaves as fast he can. During this maneuver one woman surrounding his car has her toe run over, another woman was scratched as she jumped away from the car. Those are the only injuries.

John calls 911. Right after this, at least 10 police officers show up with their weapons drawn. Both his mom and John is arrested. John has not been released since.


It turns out that the angry witnesses are all related or friends. His lawyer Criss Candelaria, a former DA of 22 years, calls it a scandal. The honrary consul of Norway to Phoenix, Professor George Olander at State University of Arizona says the case is shameful for the United States, and that a ticket for reckless driving would have been enough.

Tomorrow he will recieve his sentencing, a minimum of five years.

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Reply Norwegian student risks 35 years in jail in the US - made a wrong turn [View all]
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