The Stuart Alexander Case

Undisputed Facts:

 1. On June 21, 2000 Stuart Alexander murdered USDA inspectors, Jean Hillery and Thomas Quadros and state FDA inspector William Shaline inside his sausage factory in California.

2. Prior to the murders Stuart had been vocal in the community that he felt the state was harassing him concerning his business. He had convinced a significant portion of the community that this was the governments way of pushing out the "little man."

3. Inspectors had had many run-ins with Alexander in the past.  Two of the biggest contentions were the smoker or smokers in which were used in the factory and the temperature in which the sausages were cooked.  When Alexander would fail to comply the inspectors would shut the factory down, this happened at least twice.  Alexander would re-open the business against state laws.  During these times the once thriving business lost massive amounts of money and was the motive that Alexander used in his 'campaign' against the government.

4. When the inspectors arrived at the factory on June 21st they attempted to have the police accompany them as they foresaw there to be problems. The police treated this call as a non-emergency call and did not arrive.  When they entered the business Alexander also called the police complaining of the harassment. This too was treated as a non-emergency call.

5. Alexander had installed video cameras in the factory in his attempts to prove the harassment.  He was seen retrieving his gun when the inspectors were in the building. He shot the three inspectors while a fourth inspector had gotten away and ran down the street with Alexander chasing him.  When he did not catch him he went back into the factory and shot the now dead and dying inspectors again. The police were called a third time when someone had observed Alexander chasing the fourth inspector, apparently shooting at him down the street.  By the time police arrived at the scene Alexander was standing outside the factory, admitted to the murders and was taken into custody.

6. Alexander was charged with three counts of first degree murder and was convicted on October 19, 2004.  He was sentenced to death on February 15, 2005.

7. On December 27, 2005 Alexander died in prison of a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot to the lungs).

Disputed Facts:

1. There is really little to dispute in this case as the murders were videotaped, ironically by Alexander.  However, his lawyers attempted to argue an insanity plea, mostly in attempt to prevent the first degree murder and death sentence. They also argued blind rage to lessen the idea of premeditation.

2. This case became a case in which the actions of the victims were taken into question.  This was partially because of the 'campaign' of Alexander prior to the murders, many citizens believed that Alexander was indeed being harassed by the USDA (ie. a government entity) and had done little more than stood up for himself.  Others believed the inspectors knew of the dangers and should have reasonably believed the dangers that lay ahead and should have taken more precautions before dealing with him, such as continuing to call for police back up and not confronting Alexander until they arrived.  There was also much criticism given to Jean Hillery based on the fact that she was the only female USDA inspector in the county and perception was that she was more firm than most as it was felt she was trying to prove the point that she was capable and able to do the job.

My Opinion:

As noted, and stated, there was little to dispute these murders.  There was no question of guilt or innocence.  There is no question who committed the murders since a) they were videotaped and b) Alexander admitted committing them and immediately turned himself into the police.  In fact, it has been presumed the reason he was standing outside the factory in the first place was to wait for the police to turn himself in, as he did so without incident.  

One question lies with the fact of why did he so calmly turn himself in?  Was he narcissistic enough to believe that he could get away with it?  Did he so ardently believe what he had told the community about being harassed and felt it was a justified murder and planned to claim self defense?  Did he really believe that this was a larger effort by the government to end small business? And, if he really thought these things were they true or were they things an insane mind had created?

When it comes to the issues of the actions of the inspectors I am in the middle.  I truly believe they were just there to do their jobs, nothing more, nothing less.  However, I do agree with those who believe they knew the possible dangers ahead, even if they would not have believed he would go as far as murder, and should have waited for the police to arrive. It should be noted, these inspectors were not the first to encounter Alexander and have issues with him. Do I believe there was likely a aura of power and entitlement to the inspectors?  Eh... maybe.  But, who is to say they were not entitled to that?  They were the law per se.  In the same respect Alexander had a sign at the front of the building that stated: "To all of our great customers, the USDA is coming into our plant harassing my employees and me, making it impossible to make our great product. Gee, if all meat plants could be in business for 79 years without one complaint, the meat inspectors would not have jobs. Therefore we are taking legal action against them."  I have been unable to determine if he had in fact taken legal action.  It is my opinion that if "legal action" had in fact been filed then until that was settled maybe the government should have laid off. Then again, it was their job.  Through my research I have been unable to find any reports that there was any immediate danger to the community due to the quality of the product or the manufacturing of. It is my belief that these inspections began as total routine inspections conducted by the state and county officials and not based on any complaints by consumers.  They continued due to Alexander's failure to comply to regulations set.


One of the things that Alexander was arguing was the temperature to which his sausage was cooked.  Reality of it is that they were arguing over a mere 4 degrees in temperature.  According to FDA standards it was to be cooked at 140 degrees where as the company cooked it at 144 degrees.  According to Alexander those 4 degrees would make a significant difference in the size, and ultimately the price of his sausage.  I suppose I could understand the FDA's argument if those 4 degrees were LESS than regulated temperatures, and misunderstand the issue with 4 degrees more.


Another significant argument between Alexander and the FDA surrounded the smoker used to cook the sausage.  According to the FDA it was outdated and did not meet regulations.  I have been unable to find a lot of information on this so I cannot tell you if there was an issue of safety to the workers or what the exact issue with the smoker was.  It is reasonable to believe that to upgrade the smoker (unsure if we are talking of one or more) would be a significant financial purchase for the company.  From Alexanders point of view (at least what he outwardly expressed) it was the  smoker(s) that gave the sausage their signature taste and it was still functioning properly.  Whether that was completely true, I cannot say.  For all I know the smoker was a complete danger to employees, and who knows, maybe the neighborhood as a whole.  However, if we stand on the side of Alexander's arguments, that it was functioning properly, was not a danger and was significant to his business then one could argue that his perception of the government attempting to take out the "little man" holds merit. But, if in fact the smoker was dangerous to employees or the community at large, then the FDA had every right to enforce the upgrade.  


The ultimate issue here was that if in fact, Alexander truly felt he was being harassed by the USDA inspectors and by extension the government he had the right to fight them in court.  He did not have the right to murder the inspectors.  Many would argue that had he fought through court he would have lost, not because he was wrong, but because of exactly what Alexander believed, government harassment.  I do not know what I believe would have happened but I can say that I would not have been surprised if that was the outcome, and that was the reason.  I am generally an all or nothing person.  If a rule or law is set whether you like it or not it must be followed.  That is not to say that you are not entitled to fight or argue the rule, just as Alexander should have done if this was really about the quality of his product as well as the integrity of his business.  


Alexander was given the nickname of "The Sausage King" through the media.  And even though he died over 7 years ago the story is still often in the media. And of course, there are still the disputes as to whether he was being harassed by the government or not.  I imagine there are still those who blame the inspectors for their deaths when they were simply doing their jobs.  I have never really heard anyone, including Alexander's family, defend the murders. Sadly, the business that Alexander fought so hard for was lost and is no longer in operation.

Comments

  1. Poor guy... Its really hard to watch family business go. We had our contracting services business for 13 years, before the market crash. Terrible to watch is flounder.

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    1. poor guy my ass he is a muderer

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    2. He shot three people, chased the fourth and then came back and finished off the wounded woman. He comes back, reloads and shoots the woman laying on the floor. He is a cowardly piece of shit

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    3. That's right poor guy my ass. I saw the video of him shooting those inspectors and heard all the testimony. He also REFUSED to cook his meat to a safety standard and lied to official at every turn.

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  2. Not quite sure you can say "poor guy" because he did shoot and kill people in his place of business in cold blood... but then again if he truly felt (and maybe he was) being pushed out by big government... idk

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    1. I do know and he was not being pushed out. He was being shut down after numerous attempts any the state and the feds to have him comply with food safety procedures. He refused.

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  3. Bureaucracy in CA is insane... I dont think even he disputed the crime. I just find him a sympathetic character. I have lived with my dad, during and after he was pushed out of his job... and Paul as he lost his. Something odd clicks in the brain of a man, when their livelihood is in jeopardy. Its an almost animal desperation. I agree he must be punished, but I just feel badly for him....

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  4. Yeah, this is another one of these cases that whichever side people were on over exaggerate the issues of the other one. I would have liked to have seen some of the reports and see what they said. I think the issue of the temperature was a NON issue. I wasn't like he was cooking them below the minimum but 4 degrees higher than that .... not sure how they can tell him his maximum temp. It was pork, obviously it was cooked. But I would like to see their argument on that. Then there was the smokers.... was he just not wanting to spend the money? Or were they a danger to the employees and the community.

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  5. I just watched a recap of the case on the ID Channel. From the information brought forth on the show, it seems to me Stuart simply wasn't capable of handling the USDA requests with the same finesse his father did (the business ran just fine all the years before his father's death.) My impression is Stuart was dealing with some sort of mental issues from way back, and once thrust into the role of businessman he cracked. As for the agents, of course they did NOT deserve to die doing their job, however, they chose to linger inside the warehouse AFTER their business with Stuart had concluded. It was Jean Hillary's idea to call the police (which they did, and that's why the fourth agent was outside, waiting for their arrival.) She and the other agents felt threatened by his behavior before he showed up with a gun. What the agents were trying to accomplish by calling the police, I don't know.

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  6. I will try to say this without being condescending to the victim(s)... and keep in mind that I totally believe that what he did was wrong... but based on everything that I have read and seen on this case I get the impression that the USDA agents, especially Jean Hillary, were in the attitude that they were going to win this fight and not be pushed over by Stuart. I think Hillary thought she had something to prove because she was the first and only woman inspector. Add to this the aura that many government agents have about superiority and control. Obviously they did not believe that it would get out of control as it did. I personally believe that the police were called not because they feared for their lives but again to exert their control. If they were in fear of their lives they would have waited for the police before going in.

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  7. I went to Jr. High and High School with Stuart... He was a STRANGE person, always. Amazing at the spin some people will put on this. Blame the woman inspector because she had "something to prove." Seriously?

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  8. For all of you that feel sympathy "for the poor guy", how would you feel if he had killed one of YOUR family members or loved ones? Somehow I don't think you'd be saying poor guy. Additionally this guy had issues. His father was verbally abusive towards him and it seems as though as though Stuart had some type of mental issues. He beat up a 75 year old man for God sake

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  9. Laws do not have to be followed just because they are passed. Jury nullification is a legal process by which citizens who disagree with a law may find the person innocent on those grounds.

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  10. U would have to deal with USDA Inspectors to understand they have no business being in these plants on a daily basis you are more likely to get sick in a restaurant yet they have a state health inspector drop in every 6 months gross waste of our tax dollars wake up America for every man or woman working we got 5 more watching to make sure he's doing it right then we got 10 more laying on the couch collecting welfare

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  11. Jean hillary trying to make her mark as only female inspector and being her overbearing self unfortunately cost the lives of her colleagues

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  12. All you arm chair quarterbacks adding your 2 cents here should know that the USAD put the food prep laws into place the Stuart ignored due to the Salmonella outbreak at a Burger King that killed a number of children.
    So get off your high horse and review the facts. I was a juror on that disgusting case and Stuart Alexander was no victim of Big Brother. He was an arrogant piece of shit that murdered in cold blood 3 people doing their job.

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