Racist killer Ron McGrew set free


Ron McGrewRon McGrew came to Panama after he was kicked off the police force when he got mad, got drunk, and crashed his pick-up truck into a patrol car. In Panama, one day he saw someone apparently break into a neighbors’ house, he got a gun and killed the guy, no further questions asked.

Yes, kind of a Trayvon Martin like thing.

First the court convicted him to 5 years in jail, but now we read on the racist killer fanzine Panama Guide that the Supreme Court has apparently overturned that decision and dropped all charges. Writes terrorist PR flack Don Winner:

Ron’s mistake was leaving his own house with the shotgun – if he had killed a robber in his own home no one would have batted an eye. In any case, this most recent decision by the Supreme Court goes a long way to restore some faith in the Panamanian justice system, such as it is.

Had the case been in reverse – Panamanian kills gringo suspected of attempting a burglary at neighbors’ house or, say, Panamanian shoots Don Winner when he harasses women and children as he likes to do – there would be no end to the calls for the death penalty, swift justice, lynchings and so on, because that sleazeball punk Don Winner heads a gang of lunatic right-wing fascists and militia types here in Panama.

And Ron McGrew? He won’t have a life here in Panama because, Supreme Court or not, everybody knows he’s an out-of-control murderer. Maybe he should just go back to drunken police car ramming, for his own safety.

Okke Ornstein is an award winning journalist, TV/Radio producer and photographer from the Netherlands and currently based in Panama. Specialized in high-impact investigative journalism, his work has led to arrests, questions in parliament and the downfall of many frauds and swindles.

15 Comments

  1. Michael

    May 31, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    I can’t understand why a Manslaughter charge was never levied. And 5yrs for a 1st degree Murder charge? The law and law enforcement beggars belief.

    On dropping all charges?

    A man takes a shotgun from the safety of his own home and patrols some other persons property and discharges his gun killing a human being. No offence? Laughable

  2. Eric Jackson

    May 31, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    Trayvon Martin was innocent. Big difference.

    But you are right, we don’t need these trigger-happy gringo vigilante types in Panama. They are likely to at some point provoke an anti-American riot.

  3. Susan Guberman-Garcia

    May 31, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Anyone who was either present at the trial or has read reports of what occurred there understands that the only just alternative was to reverse the conviction. The trial was a kangaroo kourt, in which the prosecutor made grossly unethical and racist appeals to anti gringo sentiment, key evidence was not permitted, and the defendant’s attorney did not provide a competent defense. To have done anything else other than to reverse the conviction would have been a travesty of
    justice.

    As to whether or not a new trial should have been ordered, there are different ways to look at it. As Don pointed out in his article, there was a good
    argument to be made that the defendant was wrong, and that his use of a gun at the neighbor’s house did not comply with Panama’s use of deadly force law
    (which is quite similar to that in effect in California and many other states in the USA). Had he used the gun in his own home, there would not even have been a case. That is my opinion as well.

    So, had there been a fair prosecution, it is possible that the defendant could have been convicted of some level of lesser offense, but not murder. As to why the Supreme Court did not order a new trial, I can’t say until I read its opinion. It may be that the court found that there was insufficient evidence of ANY crime to sustain a conviction. I am not clear about the issue of lesser
    included offenses and how they are handled in Panama. From what I have read, the prosecution is limited only to those charges actually filed and there is no ability for a jury to find a defendant guilty of something else. I don’t know for sure. It is also possible that the court could have found that the degree of prosecutorial misconduct was so great that the prosecution should not be rewarded with a do over. But that’s just speculation on my part, not having seen the ruling.

    In any event, I am glad that the court threw out the conviction. It is nice to read something good about the Panamanian legal system, it is a rare occurrence.

    • the Editor

      May 31, 2012 at 11:28 AM

      Well, as far as anyone is concerned, the victim of this murder was innocent as well. I’m not aware of any conviction, and it’s only the killer’s word that he was about to break into a house.

      But what I really want to know is if, when the lynch mobs come for Mr. McGrew, we’ll read more of this:

      “Sometimes Panama can be ‘old school’ in a good way – where the ACLU’s crap has yet to reach. ‘You hold him down, while I kick him.’ ‘Getting tired? My turn.’ ‘Should we call the police? Nah, not yet … he’s still making noises.’ Thump, thump, thump… ‘Let’s find something else to break.'”

      And you know, I think that this kind of glorifying of lynching quickly evaporates when it’s about a known white gringo instead of an anonymous Panamanian.

  4. the Editor

    May 31, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Susan, I have never heard you make such pompous legalese arguments in cases where there were Panamanians in similar positions. Your blind, groupie-like and mindless support for anything Don Winner writes or does, insufferable as it is, is wearing real thin, you know.

    If the prosecution and courts are unable to prosecute and convict a killer, that is a shame, not “something good” about Panama’s legal system. Someone who kills a guy like McGrew did belongs in prison, not out in the streets because of a legal screw-up. To spin that as some sort of victory is because you and your idol wanted to see the guy off the hook all along.

  5. Susan

    June 1, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    maybe you should interview mr mcgrew yourself before making any statments or forming any opinions and find out what kind of person he really is.

    • the Editor

      June 1, 2012 at 8:28 AM

      Susan, I think Mr. McGrew’s actions pretty much speak for themselves and I don’t need to know what kind of personality he has to understand that he murdered someone.

  6. Eric Jackson

    June 1, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    In the Panamanian legal system all sorts of statements and proofs or purported proofs get allowed in trials, but judges then tend to discount them. A prosecutor who makes an argument like the one in the McGrew trial gets held in contempt in Michigan or California, but here the judge allows that argument but discounts it or tells the jury to discount it.

    At the end of McGrew’s ugly trial the result was roughly just. Letting him walk, without a remand for a new trial, is not just. His remaining in Panama and people talking him up as a hero or martyr of the Gringo community is downright dangerous. Those are the sorts of grievances that accumulate and can explode into an anti-American riot. But the belligerent drunks and rednecks who have gotten the entire community into such situations at various points in Panama’s history are always so wrapped up in themselves, and their apologists are all so wrapped up in rationalizations, that nothing ever gets learned.

    McGrew is a 21st century Jack Oliver wannabe, except a bit more vicious.

  7. frombocas

    June 1, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    The “ugly American” at its best…

  8. Ronnie

    June 5, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Well I used to hang out down at the local VFW hall
    And stare at the photographs up on the wall
    Of the neighborhood boys that died in the wars we’ve been through
    And the hand lettered sign that said remember Ronnie McGrew

    Well Ronnie went to Nam back in 1965
    But there’s a lot of men here that think Ronnie McGrew’s still alive
    Though they carved his name on a stone in Washington DC
    His brother said that stone don’t prove a damn thing to me

    It’s veteran’s day and the skies are gray
    Leave the uniforms home cause there ain’t gonna be a parade
    But we’ll fill up a glass for the ones that didn’t make it through
    And leave a light in the window tonight for Ronnie McGrew

    There’s a hot rain fallin’ on the back streets of Panama
    There’s an old soldier stumblin’ down the alley with his mama
    Lord his eyes are cloudy and his arms are black and blue
    He’s just hangin’ by a thread and he looks like Ronnie McGrew

    It’s veteran’s day and the skies are gray
    Leave the uniforms home cause there ain’t gonna be a parade
    But we’ll fill up a glass for the ones that didn’t make it through
    And leave a light in the window tonight for Ronnie McGrew

  9. Benfatto

    June 7, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    Crying racism is a very common reflex in today’s oversensitive society. How do we know it is not like the George Zimmerman case?

    Need more evidence, what he did in the past is not substantial enough.

  10. the Editor

    June 18, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    We do indeed need more evidence. For example, I am pretty much lost about the whole idea of breaking into a house with a machete. Who does that?

    Also, there are some McGrew fans who are trying to post comments here maintaining that he is such a great upstanding person, while at the same time slinging all kinds of mud at yours truly. I mean, that’s all they got, “He’s a great guy and you suck”? That’s pretty pathetic as a defense I think and doesn’t convince me at all.

  11. Sal Good

    June 19, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    I did not know about this case until reading this post. I read an article about it on another page and it says that this guy was convicted by a jury for murder. A jury verdict can’t be overturned by the Supreme Court. Once the guilty verdict is reached it is up to the trial judge to establish jail time in a ruling. That ruling can appealed by the defense, the prosecutor or both and then it’s up to the Supreme Court court to determine what they think should apply as sentencing but by no means can they overturn a verdict. This story does not seem to be very accurate.

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  13. Benfatto

    June 23, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    @Editor: it is the job of the prosecution to show a crime, or you in this case.

    Now I understand your disapproval of the way many ex-pats view Panamanians, and I share many of your sentiments.

    But without any detailed evidence I cannot condemn Ron McGrew.

    Suppose Ron McGrew did stop a burglar from breaking into his neighbors house and had to use deadly force in order to defend himself. Would it matter whether McGrew is a racist or not?

    I thought you’d appreciate neighbors helping each other out.

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