Original article no longer available
4/8/2002 10:08 pm
A man charged in the killing of his girlfriend’s 9-year-old daughter left a suicide letter before hanging himself in his South Lake Tahoe jail cell, but it wasn’t a confession, two people who read it said Monday.
James Csucsai, 36, was being held without bail in the El Dorado County jail since he and his girlfriend, Lisa Platz, 32, were arrested on Sept. 21 in connection with the killing. Both had pleaded innocent.
There were a few things in the letter about the case, said Detective Pete Van Arnum, deputy coroner for the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, but mostly it was personal stuff to his family and children and some stuff to Lisa. We won’t be releasing it because it was private and directed to the family.
Csucsai’s sister generally agreed with the detective’s assessment.
There is nothing damning in there and there is no confession,? said the sister, Cathy Tarzia, of Southern California. ?He wrote to us and his children.
Platz’s daughter, Rebbeca Aramburo, was found dead with her throat slashed inside a tent at a South Lake Tahoe campground Sept. 21 after a nine-hour standoff with police.
Csucsai and Platz slashed themselves and were found nearly unconscious in a tent when a SWAT team stormed it, the sheriff said.
Superior Court Judge Jerald Lasarow on Friday scheduled an April 26 court hearing to set a trial date for Platz. Like Csucsai, she was charged with murder with special circumstances which include kidnapping and use of a deadly weapon, a knife. Under California law, this qualifies the prosecutor to ask for the death penalty.
Tarzia said her younger brother grew up in a normal home, but had taken medication for the past four years in a battle against depression. He certainly was not some painted saint, but he was a very kind-hearted man and his conscience was very tender. This whole thing was extremely painful and embarrassing for him, and he already had deep-down issues with depression, she said.
Tarzia said Csucsai went through a divorce about four years ago which contributed to his state of mind. His daughter, 15, and son, 13, live with their mother in Alaska, she said.
He was very attached to those children, and they’re having a very hard time with this. It’s a double-whammy for them first losing their dad, and then dealing with this situation.?
A jailer making rounds Friday night found Csucsai slumped on the floor of his cell, Lt. Les Lovell, the jail commander, said Monday. He had a torn piece of bed sheet wrapped around his neck with the other end wrapped around the corner of a shelving unit, he said.
Medical personnel had taken Csucsai off suicide watch several months ago, Lovell said.
He had just spoken to a nurse before this and seemed to be in good spirits, he said, but he was in administrative segregation for his own protection because of the the murder of a child.
Csucsai’s attorney, David Eyster, said Monday he had no indication his client was despondent the day he hanged himself.
This is a man who had some mental issues, and jail incarceration was very depressing to him, he said. “Jail was really hard on him. I think he was kind of seeking a way of regaining some dignity. He had demons in his head that were very hard on him. There are a lot of victims in the wake of this thing”.
Detective Van Arnum said an autopsy would be performed today, but results would not be available for several weeks.
Independent investigations will be conducted into Csucsai?s death by the El Dorado County Sheriff?s office and the California Board of Corrections, he said.
Platz’s public defender, Richard Meyer, could not be reached for comment.
Copyright Reno Gazette-Journal, a Gannett Co. Inc. Newspaper. Use of this site signifies agreement to our terms of service (updated 08/01/2001).