Tuesday Jul 25, 2023

Episode 19: Justice Delayed Is Not Justice Denied. Solving The Cold Case Of Price Waterhouse Accountant Julie Bucalo

In this episode, Dom & Tom discuss the case of Ralph Baldenegro, a former firefighter and current inmate, who took over two decades to solve. Baldenegro, a 42-year-old former firefighter, worked as security for the firm and had left the Santa Clara Fire Department in disgrace a few years earlier after an assault conviction and dismissal. The podcast explores the circumstances that led Baldenegro to turn from a protector to a perpetrator, and how DNA linked him to the brutal murder scene at Bucalo's South Meridian Avenue cottage.

The podcast also touches on the complexities of the tax and legal system and the lessons learned from the case. Baldenegro was charged with special-circumstances murder, attempted rape, and burglary, but it took over two decades to bring charges for Julie's murder.

The case began with Julie's boyfriend, Jim Kent, who was the last person to see her alive. Kent called the local flooring store to check on Bucalo, but his calls went unanswered. On Monday, Kent called the local flooring store to check on Bucalo, but the house remained silent. Kent and his friend Nick called the police, and they found Bucalo's home eerily silent. The police arrived, and the case remained for nearly 20 years. Baldenegro's arrival was not a complete surprise, as they had a friendly conversation at work. The podcast highlights the importance of understanding the complexities of the tax and legal system and the importance of pursuing justice when faced with a tragic case.

The story revolves around the crimes of Ralph Baldenegro, who was known for stalking and assaulting women. Baldenegro was arrested and his DNA was obtained, but he pleaded not guilty to the charges related to Julie Bucalo's case. The case also involved two other heroines, Linda A and DM, who reported being raped and assaulted by Baldenegro. The police found a pattern of using handcuffs, duct tape, and weapons like knives. Despite his weaponry, Baldenegro pleaded not guilty to the charges related to Julie Bucalo's case, and his lawyer called the prosecution a waste of judicial resources.

The story also touches on the experiences of other heroines, such as Janet P, who claimed that Baldenegro pinned her to the bed after accusing her of infidelity in 1982 and slapping her and strangling her. Sarah Griffith, once a girlfriend of Baldenegro, claimed that he assaulted her multiple times in 1984, and these incidents bore chilling similarities to his attack on Julie Bucalo. Baldenegro denied assaulting, binding, and raping Sarah G., and when interviewed, Baldenegro claimed the two were a couple and that Sarah G wanted to have his baby.

The hearsay rule against hearsay evidence protects constitutional rights, as it can affect someone's right to a fair trial, support the due process rights of defendants, and allow the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses. However, allowing hearsay without limitation would undermine this right, making it difficult to obtain evidence that happened outside of court to prove a case. Hearsay evidence can be admitted if it falls under certain exceptions, such as presenting motive or showing a pattern in the defendant's behavior. This exception allows for the use of hearsay evidence to show someone's state of mind at the time, as seen in the case of Julie Bucalo.

The justice system's handling of earlier assaults and the benefits of DNA evidence in cold cases are discussed. The jury found Ralph Baldenegro, 64, guilty of the 1991 slaying of the 26-year-old San Jose accountant, and he will spend the rest of his life in prison. The CHP chased Baldenegro for about a half-hour, and he eventually surrendered and his son was found unharmed. The episode highlights the importance of thorough investigation, especially DNA testing, safety measures, and justice, even in delayed cases. The episode also emphasizes the importance of perseverance and the need for continuous improvement in the justice system.

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Julie was my godmother and my Mom’s best friend. Everyone who knew her knew Ralph had murdered her, but the forensic science wasn’t enough to convict him. Having justice served finally, even if it was decades late, was so healing for all of us. Thank you for covering this case and telling Julie’s story.

Friday Dec 29, 2023

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