Off Beat: Inmate can't evade court system
In the annals of crime, Dwayne Eichler doesn't rate very highly. He's not a Manson, or a Corona or anybody else whose name you might remember.
But Eichler has one claim to fame in Yuba-Sutter: He was the first defendant around here sentenced under the state's three strikes law.
That happened in June 1995. Eichler received a term of 27 years to life for felony evasion. He had five prior felony convictions from the 1980s.
He was accused of kidnapping his girlfriend in San Jose, driving to Marysville and leading law enforcement on a chase to Timbuctoo and back before he was arrested. The kidnap charge was dropped.
The judge who sentenced Eichler, Thomas Mathews, died in 2005.
So why bring up Eichler now?
He's still in court, battling that Yuba County conviction from 15 years ago.
A few weeks ago, a federal magistrate judge dismissed Eichler's latest effort, saying he had failed to file his petition for a writ of habeas corpus within the statute of limitations.
Why did Eichler fail to file in a timely manner?
As Magistrate Judge Dale Drozd noted in his decision, Eichler cited "his lack of knowledge of the legal system, mental illness, physical illness, numerous transfers, Administrative Segregation and Security Housing Unit placements, lockdowns and limited access to the law library, loss of legal documents at three institutions, or because he was pursuing other criminal and civil cases."
In fact, Eichler has three other lawsuits pending in federal court, mostly dealing with his treatment in state facilities.
According to Drozd's 18-page opinion, Eichler described himself as a "a well known and respected paranormal, who was born with some psychic abilities that are substantiated in several books."
Eichler claimed in court papers that he "had some very complicated mental health issues with a varied diagnosis of depression, catatonia, paranoid schizophrenia, psychotic, delusional, auditory and visual hallucinations, obsessive compulsive disorder, psychosis, antisocial personality disorder and organic brain syndrome," Drozd wrote.
In addition, there were many physical problems, including "untreated gingivitis and periodontal disease such that he lost six teeth from 2000-2003, migraine headaches from 2001 to 2007, a hernia surgery in 2001-02, osteoma in 2002, and diverticulosis so severe that he was 'flat on his back and unable to do anything, and close to death' on at least three month-long occasions in 2002," Drozd noted.
In 2003, Eichler's "face was slashed from lip to ear by another inmate," the magistrate judge wrote, and the inmate complained of a variety of abdominal pains.
Eichler also contended that he was innocent of the charge that the Yuba County jury found him guilty.
In the end, however, Drozd wasn't sufficiently impressed to grant Eichler's petition.
And that's what became of Dwayne Eichler — for now.
Harold Kruger is a veteran reporter and copy editor for the Appeal-Democrat. Call 749-4717 or e-mail hkruger@ appeal democrat .com