By Susan Wood, Nevada Appeal News Service
June 7, 2003
Lisa Ann Platz was sentenced to life in prison Friday for her involvement in the first-degree murder of her 9-year-old daughter.
Wrapping up a two-year grisly case in South Lake Tahoe an El Dorado County Superior Court judge handed Platz the maximum sentence, which includes no chance of parole and a restitution order of $12,000.
Platz was convicted in a six-week trial and a conviction in March.
Rebbeca Aramburo’s throat was fatally slashed Sept. 21, 2001 in a tent at Campground by the Lake — the apparent ending of a child-custody dispute gone awry. Officers found the body when they stormed the tent, ending a nine-hour standoff with Platz, 33, and her bloody companion, James Csucsai. The 35-year-old man later hung himself with a bedsheet in jail.
Platz, an Alaska native, ran from the law with Csucsai after kidnapping her daughter from her grandparents in Lakewood, Wash., a month before.
“This is not an easy day for me. I’ve never lost so much sleep on a case,” Judge Jerald Lasarow said.
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He said Platz “couldn’t face the fact” that Rebbeca’s natural father, Jose Aramburo, could have involvement in his daughter’s life.
Lasarow made the claim that he still doesn’t know who held the military knife that caused the death of the vulnerable, young girl.
“Why, and I’ll probably never know the answer to this, why didn’t Ms. Platz do something to release her daughter?” he asked. At one point, he directed the question to Platz, as she sat motionless with her hair tied up in a tight braid.
With an eerie stillness in the courtroom, Lasarow denied a motion by county Public Defender Rick Meyer to lessen the murder charge to second degree.
The sentencing hearing brought forth two hours of arguments and redirects from Meyer and District Attorney Gary Lacy.
Meyer called Csucsai “nuts,” characterizing him as a mentally disturbed man who killed Rebbeca when he acted on a family annihilation syndrome that placed the trio’s lives in jeopardy. He said his client feared for she and her daughter’s lives and suffered from shock from her own knife wounds on her wrists.
Lacy countered that Platz took part in a double suicide pact that consequently included the young girl.
“Unlike what Mr. Meyer is trying to portray, Lisa Platz was not a victim in this case. She was an active participant,” he said.
But Meyer asserted the authorities were “concerned to get her head on a platter.”
However, Lasarow reminded Meyer that Lacy could have sought the death penalty for his client.
Platz is due to serve her time immediately. She is expected to be transferred to the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla when arrangements are finalized.
The public defender pledged his intention to appeal the case. He has 60 days.