(by Student #23 AMH 2010 1115)
1927 in Santa Barbara, California. There was a woman named Anita Orneles, she was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to 0-10 years I hope to find out during my research why she was convicted of manslaughter, whom did she kill, or accidently kill. I also would like to know how many years that she ultimately ended up spending behind bars, and how and when she was released.
First, I started out by paying close attention to the first paper we received in class, with our person on there. It states several interesting things starting with the fact that she is clearly a white woman according to her mugshots but on her prison, paper work they consider her to be a “dark complexion”, which I as a black woman find extremely comical. Also, listed as her occupation was “housewife” many women back in the 1920’s were just house wives, and she was one of them. After looking over the case file I moved on to my next point of research and tried to dig a little deeper.
I choose to look through Ancestory.com first to see if I could find anything about her family or life in general. I was hoping to find things about her family or life in general. I was hoping to find things about life before prison, but it led me straight to more of Anita Orneles arrest records and more facts on the date of her arrest and the date of her release.
So here is what I found, Mrs. Anita Orneles was a 39-year-old white woman born in 1888 in California. She was arrested on October 13th, 1927 for the crime of manslaughter her crime took place in Santa Barbara, California. Anita had absolutely no previous record, so what happened? Why was she convicted of manslaughter who did she kill? Or try to kill. She was taken to San Quentin, which is a prison in Marin county in California. It is one of the oldest Prisons in California that opened in July 1852.
After digging and digging through Ancestory.com and coming up short I went to NewsPapers.com. There I found several articles stating pretty much the same thing. They were all talking about the release of Anita Orneles. On Jan 6ththe state Prison Board disposed of 105 cases that were up for parole or determination of sentence. Only 18 paroles were granted while 66 appeals were in fact denied. Among the 18 cases paroled Anita Orneles was in fact one of them. She was paroled May 13th, 1930. She only served 3 years behind bars for the crime of manslaughter.
Although I was not able to find out who Mrs. Anita Orneles killed, we can assume because she was only in the Prison a short amount of time it may be possible that she in fact may have had an abortion. Abortion is the 1920s, back then a lot of women were convicted of manslaughter or murder for having abortions it was not legal until Roe vs Wade in 1973. Anita was only in jail from 1927-1930, in most cases of actual manslaughter you would get years added to your sentence, so I feel like it is safe to say that Anita Orneles, may have just wanted to get rid of her unborn child.
This concludes my research on Anita. After searching and digging I am sad to say that my research fell short, I was unable to find any relatives to Anita or the reasoning behind her conviction. All the information I was able to find was very general although we can only assume why Anita was in the situation she was in, and we can only assume whom she killed although it is evident from the time frame in which it took place, that it was more than likely her fetus.