Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Weekly and daily newspaper work together to give update about national story in their area

Large daily and small rural weekly newspapers don't often work together to write special reports, but when they do, the results can be well worth the effort. The Pueblo Chieftain and the weekly Johnstown Breeze collaborated on an update about the "Mortal Kombat" killing, in which Heather Trujillo, left, and her boyfriend were charged with the murder of Heather's seven-year-old sister, Zoe Garcia, by acting out moves from the video game.

When the story broke in 2007, it got national attention and was lauded as the example for why children shouldn't play violent video games. Steve Henson of The Chieftain and Matt Lubich of the Breeze report that the story is actually more complex, starting with the fact that Garcia's death had nothing to do with Mortal Kombat. It was more about Heather's violent boyfriend and her inability to stop his drunken rage that led to the beating death of Garcia.

The reporters write that the case was also about Heather's troubled upbringing, which included being born to a 13-year-old mother, at times raising some of her 10 younger siblings, many of whom had different fathers, and her struggles with drug and alcohol abuse. Henson and Lubich also report the story is about how the system sometimes fails those born into poverty with drug-addicted and neglectful parents. "To understand" this story, they write, "you need to come to terms with children having children, the numbing of logic brought on by reliance on bureaucracy, poverty, drug abuse and parental neglect." Heather is now 21 and is scheduled for release from the Colorado Department of Corrections Youthful Offender System in December.

Read part of Henson and Lubich's joint report here. The Breeze has the full story behind a pay wall, but it can be accessed for $1.

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