Nazi Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas is trying this lady for hit and run even though she didnt hit anybody. Maricopa County Andrew Thomas has replaced Sheriff Joe as the worst danger to freedom in Maricopa County!

Trial strategy: Have backup for missing hit-and-run driver

Mar. 22, 2006 12:00 AM

They file into the courtroom, the judge and the attorneys and 10 jurors, to see justice done on behalf of a man who was left to die in the street by a hit-and-run driver.

All that's missing is the hit-and-run driver. Muneerah Al-Tarrah, the suspect, is long gone, having slipped through the court system's fingers in January.

That leaves her friend, Reem Bishara, holding the bag. This week, Bishara, the driver who didn't hit Todd DeGain, is standing trial in Superior Court.

I guess if you lost the driver who hit him, it's nice to have a stand-in.

Al-Tarrah, 22, and Bishara, 19, were in separate cars on Alma School early Sept. 14 when DeGain pulled in front of Al-Tarrah on his motorized skateboard. The 35-year-old likely died instantly as he was struck by Al-Tarrah, who then sped away, smashed into a nearby light pole and again took off, authorities say. Meanwhile, Bishara, following, ran over the wreckage and continued after her friend.

Both women were charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Al-Tarrah was also popped for extreme DUI; Bishara was hit with underage drinking. Neither was held responsible in DeGain's death.

This case is about hit-and-run. Or, in the case of Bishara, no-hit-and-run.

Rarely do prosecutors try the cowards who hit people and leave them to die on the street. Only if you're a bishop is a full-blown trial held, and even then, sadly, the result is probation. Attorneys for both women have told me that prosecutors had indicated that plea deals were coming.

Then Al-Tarrah skipped the country, leaving egg on everybody's face.

Suddenly, all deals were off. Suddenly, prosecutors were all over Bishara.

Who can forget the Friday afternoon news conference in early February, after a week of revelations about court bungling that let Al-Tarrah skip the country? Who can forget County Attorney Andrew Thomas announcing that Bishara, too, had attempted to flee to her native Kuwait?

"We apparently got there just in the nick of time," Thomas told the rolling cameras.

That PR stunt smelled from the start. Who gives their landlord a week's written notice if they're going to flee the country? And if you're going on the lam, why plunk down $1,000 to buy out your lease?

And while I'm posing questions, who puts a driver on trial with evidence so flimsy you can see right through it? Maybe someone motivated less by justice, I suspect, than public relations.

Prosecutor Jennifer Green tried heartily to make her case to jurors Monday, no easy task when you have no eyewitnesses and no proof that Bishara knew a dead man was lying in the street as she drove away.

Still, she gamely went on, pointing to a few drops of DeGain's blood on Bishara's Mustang. To the front-end damage that shows she ran over the remains of DeGain's skateboard. To the mark on the street that shows Bishara took evasive action to avoid DeGain's body as it flew over Al-Tarrah's SUV, Green told jurors.

"She was quite involved in this collision," Green assured them.

Attorney Larry Kazan, meanwhile, said his client never saw DeGain and assumed Al-Tarrah had blown a tire when she saw debris coming from the SUV. That he said, was what she swerved to avoid.

He told jurors that Bishara tried to get her friend to stop after hitting the pole and even put on her emergency flashers.

Funny, don't you think, that someone fleeing a death scene would put on emergency flashers?

Reach Roberts at or (602) 444-8635. Read her blog at

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