|Do Nothing? Face public shame.
by Chris Seidel
August 26, 1998 Wednesday
What would you do if your best friend committed a murder and then confessed to you immediately afterwards? Would you turn them in? Would you try to convince them to turn themselves in? Would you feign indifference? David Cash apparently chose the latter. There was a xerox of David Cash in the elevator today. I had just gotten out of lab meeting and was surprised to see it there on the wall. Cash is a 19 year old sophomore here at Berkeley. He's from Orange County and studies Nuclear Engineering. The flyer had a picture of Cash and read, "Why is David Cash still a Cal student?"
In May of 1997 the body of 7 year old Sherice Iverson was found strangled and molested in the bathroom of a Las Vegas hotel. Her father had been in the casino gambling. At the time no one knew how or why she was killed. Eventually a suspect was identified from Casino video tape and subsequently arrested. The suspect is Jeremy Strohmeyer, 20, David Cash's best friend. His trial begins Monday. He's facing charges of kidnapping, murder, and sexual assault. He has plead innocent.
David Cash and Jeremy Strohmeyer were in the hotel the night Sherice was killed. David's Dad was in the Casino Gambling. The San Francisco Examiner (August 25, 1998) reports that David admitted that he was present at the hotel when Strohmeyer allegedly dragged Sherice into the bathroom and began to strangle her. According to the Examiner, Cash left the room before Sherrice was killed. Strohmeyer corroborates his friend's account. After strangling her Strohmeyer confessed to his friend that he'd killed Sherice. Cash did nothing.
Apparently he was more concerned over the fate of his friend than the death of Sherice Iverson. That is what he is reported to have said during interviews with the LA Times and a radio talk show. He Told the Times, "I'm not going to get upset over someone else's life. I just worry about myself first. I'm not going to lose sleep over someone else's problems." Unfortunately for Cash his lack of action is not being met with indifference. During a radio interview with Doug Steckler and Tim Conway Jr. of KSLX FM in LA Cash is reported to have said that the notoriety he has received from the case has helped him meet women. His comments and general attitude apparently enraged Conway such that during a heated exchange Conway said, "We are going to do everything we can to get your ass kicked out of Berkeley and to make your life as miserable as possible until you're cremated and boxed up."
Today there was a rally in Sproul Plaza led by a bus load of people from LA publicising the apparent dishonorable actions of Cash. Quite a few people were upset that a Cal student would act on such a fashion, and many are outraged that the state is spending money to educate him at one of it's finest universities. There were a lot of enraged people at the rally including such notables as Marc Klass of the Polly Klass foundation and Irv Rubin of the Jewish Defense League.
It's hard to imagine what it must be like to be David Cash and have a mob of people denouncing you and hating you during the first week of classes here at Berkeley, a time when everyone is usually more friendly because of all the new faces and the begining of the school year. However it's also hard to imagine how someone could walk away from a horrific crime against a child, and not have any sort of crisis of conscience. After the murder, David and Jeremy spent the day in Las Vegas casually discussing how not to get caught for what Jeremy had done in the early morning hours. David was able to conceal any odd feelings he may have had from his father and the rest of his family for several days, and only came clean after his father had gone to the police.
Last week two women were omitted from the honor society at their school because, in spite of their excellent grades, they had given birth to children out of wedlock. I understand David Cash was an honor student. How is it that a person in his circumstances could refrain from coming to a complete halt upon learning that his friend, only moments before, had killed a small child, and then get into a car with his father and drive to Vegas as if nothing had happened? How is it he could avoid any sort of moral breakdown and simply shine it on?
Regardless of the answer, he is one among many. He is the person standing next to you on the BART train. He is the person who will walk away from any tragedy with no compulsion to help or do anything because as he said, he can't bring himself to be concerned with other people's problems. And so for a short time at least, he is under public scrutiny. Perhaps he feels shame. Perhaps not.