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Hoerig case just awaiting Trump


Published: Sun, November 26, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


Now that the decades-long saga of the Karl Hoerig murder has been aired in prime time on national TV, it won’t be long before President Donald J. Trump gets involved in the search for justice.

The prediction is based on the fact that Trump isn’t one to allow a chance at political glory slip through his fingers. Through his words and actions since taking office in January, the billionaire real-estate developer from New York City has made self- aggrandizement one of the tenets of his presidency.

The murder of Karl Hoerig is the stuff of suspense novels – and of individuals with visions of grandeur.

The Vindicator has dedicated thousands of column inches to detailing every aspect of the March 2007 cold-blooded killing of the decorated Air Force flier. His body was found in his Newton Falls home. He had been shot.

His wife, Claudia, fled to her native Brazil before her husband’s body was discovered.

Mrs. Hoerig was subsequently indicted by a Trumbull County grand jury of aggravated murder with a gun specification. The indictment was the result of county Prosecutor Dennis Watkins’ unbounded determination to ensure justice is served and that Karl Hoerig’s family has closure.

Unfortunately, Watkins has been unsuccessful in having Claudia returned to Warren to stand trial.

But all that could change with one telephone call from President Trump to President Michel Termer of Brazil.

Not a reader

Trump has admitted that he doesn’t do much reading, which might explain why he has ignored pleas from The Vindicator to get involved.

He does, however, watch television, so he could well have tuned in last night to the CBS magazine show “48 Hours,” which aired a story called “A Brother’s Mission.”

Veteran correspondent Erin Moriarty came to the Mahoning Valley in May and interviewed members of Karl’s family and friends and discussed the case with Watkins.

She also traveled to Brazil with one of the brothers in search of Claudia, who had dual citizenship when she was married and living in Newton Falls.

But as this newspaper reported earlier this year, Brazil’s Supreme Court has stripped Claudia of her Brazilian citizenship and has voted to extradite her to the United States.

However, the court conditioned the extradition on the accused being spared the death penalty or life in prison if she were found guilty.

That’s a moot point.

Watkins, who has spent an inordinate amount of time on this case and is unrelenting in his push to have the accused returned to Warren to stand trial, has made it clear the concerns of the Brazilian Supreme Court justices are unfounded.

According to the county prosecutor, the aggravated murder charges against Claudia do not add up to a death-penalty case.

“This is not an issue,” Watkins said recently.

With a national audience tuning in last night, the saga of the Karl Hoerig murder is no longer a local story.

Indeed, the long battle to bring the accused killer back to this country to stand trial fits nicely with Republican President Trump’s America First strategy in dealing with foreign countries. He won the presidency with the pledge that the world’s lone superpower would no longer be pushed around when in the conduct of foreign policy.

Trump has gone out of his way to take potshots at his predecessors on a range of issues, and the Karl Hoerig murder would give him another excuse to denigrate Barack Obama, a Democrat, and George W. Bush, a Republican.

It is true that Obama and Bush weren’t willing to use the power of the office to move the criminal case against Claudia Hoerig along.

The White House has been sent reams of information laying out the arguments for Claudia’s extradition. There also are documents that detail the efforts Watkins, Congressman Tim Ryan, former congressman and now state Rep. John Boccieri, and other members of Ohio’s congressional delegation made to persuade the former presidents to get involved.

There’s another compelling reason President Trump should dive in: He enjoys strong political support in the Mahoning Valley, as evidenced by his victory in predominantly Democratic Trumbull County and his strong showing in predominantly Democratic Mahoning County.

Trump’s promise to make American manufacturing great again – he specifically talked about reopening the huge steel mills that once dotted the banks of the Mahoning River – struck a chord with Valley residents who have failed to join the technological revolution fueling the new global economy.

Finally, President Trump can rest assured he will be greeted as a conquering hero by his supporters and critics alike if succeeds in bringing Claudia Hoerig back to Warren to answer to the charge of aggravated murder with a gun specification.

There’s no doubt Trump could use a warm embrace after being spurned by the father of one of the UCLA basketball players arrested in China on suspicion of shoplifting.

LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball, contended that the president had little to do with the matter. To which Trump, who had touted his involved in the release of the three players during his visit to China, tweeted this:

“Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!”

In another tweet, Trump called LaVar Ball an “ungrateful fool.”

President Trump can rest assured that no one in the Mahoning Valley will dismiss his efforts should he get involved in the Karl Hoerig murder case.

The region has waited a long time for the accused killer, Claudia, to be brought to trial ... in America.


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