As national news reports focus on the kidnap-killing of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in Florida, the trial in an equally tragic Arizona case gets no attention. Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts recalls that the body of Elizabeth Byrd, 8, was found in a shallow irrigation canal. She had lived in a rundown trailer on Huntington Drive in a forgotten part of Phoenix.
The trial of her alleged murderer began last week, but no one noticed, Roberts says.
Elizabeth often walked alone to her elementary school. Steven Ray Newell was a 20-year-old loser who had received a mere 6-month jail term in a plea bargain for kidnapping a woman. In May 2001, prosecutors charge, he tried to rape Elizabeth, and then strangled her with her purse strap. Newell reportedly said that he was rubbing against the girl when “the rage took over.”
Concludes Roberts: “Unfortunately, the rage has never seemed to spread. The rage we should feel at a guy like that being on the street and a child like that being on the street, all alone. While Carlie’s death has prompted talk of whether the Amber Alert system needs improvement and whether the criminal justice system needs improvement, Elizabeth’s death has prompted talk of, well, nothing.”