Judge Ralph Moody had a difficult task before him. He stood at the apex of a system that had failed miserably and now had responsiblity for explaining how it happened. Before he took that step, however, Moody gave Robert Hansen one more chance to explain himself.
Judge Ralph E. Moody
THE COURT: Mr. Hansen, you may stand. Do you have anything to say before the court pronounces judgment?
MR. HANSEN: No, sir, I don’t.
THE COURT: Well, it’s hard to believe that humanity produces and sustains people who have the ability and propensity to commit such enormous, such beastly, such undescribable crimes. […] What we have seen here today and what the defendant has admitted to in many respects is a condemnation of society as a whole…
“We have let down not only the victims, but many of our compatriots here in court, here in Alaska. The court system has failed. Knowing that he was a problem, probation officers, police officers, members of society themselves who would not come forward, I can’t think of a bigger indictment of society than this. […]
“We say he paid his debt to society when we give him sentencing, depend on psychiatrists — and here again, we’ve got doctors and psychiatrists are in this indictment, too, as well as all of you know, I’m sure, we’re involved. I’m a judge and a lawyer, and so I place myself in the collective pot for criticism. […]
“In these cases, he took people who could least protect themselves, people from the standpoint of the lower point of society, but from the standpoint of the man were angels compared to what he has done. There just isn’t much you can say of what happened here, of what this man has admitted to, of what he has placed upon society, and what society has to a great extent allowed to occur.
“I hope when we leave this courtroom today that I have to the best of my ability provided this man shall never walk the streets of America or any other place as a free man.”
Judge Moody ultimately gave Hansen the maximum sentence on each count, noting that, “Sir, I have to consider you the worst offender in all respects in all these charges against you.”
Moody gave Frank Rothschild and the district attorney’s office everything they asked for. He sentenced Robert Hansen to 461 years, plus life.
“The night the Hansen conviction came in, Glenn Flothe held a quiet celebration at one of Anchorage’s finest restaurants. It would cost him three hundred dollars but it was worth every penny. His wife Cherry was with him. Cindy Paulson was with him. And so were the two women who watched over Cindy after she decided it was time to come in off the streets.
“It was a gathering interwoven with emotion. Everyone spoke nervously, but with evident relief. Everyone except Cindy, who was subdued, pensive and somewhat withdrawn through much of the evening. She was emotionally drained.
“Flothe hoped Cindy had learned something from her experience. At dinner, she looked scared straight, ready to trade her life on the streets for life in a Christian home. Flothe resolved to do everything he could to help her stay on the right path. He promised himself not to let her down, now that her “usefulness” to the criminal justice system had been fulfilled. It wasn’t long, however, before this sensitive young woman was back on the streets. That’s where her friends were. That was her life.”
Excerpt From: Walter Gilmour & Leland E. Hale. “Butcher, Baker.”
In the years since Robert Hansen’s conviction, Cindy Paulson’s life took another turn, one for the better. She married. Had kids. And, given the chance by the filmmakers for “The Frozen Ground,” she not only told her story, she owned it.
Purchase Butcher, Baker