A brighter Sunday at the Chronicle


Things improved at the Chronicle with yesterday's weekend edition, compared to some of the fluff that graced its pages last week.

Congrats to cops-and-crime reporter Jaxon Van Derbeken for snagging the story on an out-of-control snitch named Marvin Jeffery Jr. that the San Francisco Police Department used to arrest a suspect in the 2004 shooting death of Officer Isaac Espinoza. An identity-theft master, Jeffery was repeatedly released from jail in exchange for information he’d provided to the department. And each time, he went right back to formulating fraudulent monetary schemes making somewhere around $3 million in the process. Now the department is not sure where he is.

According to the story, Jeffery never told his SFPD sources until he was pressured with evidence that, in fact, he’d personally given Espinoza’s alleged killer, David Hill, the AK-47 that police believe was used in the murder.

Rumor has it the tip on this story was circulating elsewhere, but Jaxon nailed it first.

Two pieces on the Chron’s Insight page caught my attention as well. “The Science of Creating Killers” highlights the ways in which the Pentagon conditions soldiers to kill overcoming their natural inclination not to do so. And a second piece focuses on atrocities committed against civilians in all wars, including those committed by U.S. troops.

Notably, they mention a groundbreaking LA Times story from a couple of weeks ago that was based on thousands of pages of newly uncovered defense department records revealing just how regularly U.S. soldiers terrorized Vietnamese civilians. It’s a sad, ongoing story that extends from The New Yorker and the Toledo Blade’s original reporting on this subject.