I met Earl at the Men's Federal Correction Center.
I was a Corrections Officer at the jail when Earl first arrived.
The first thing you noticed about him was he had some kind of inner strength, he didn't seem aloof, exactly, but it was like he had, I don't know how to describe it, (I'm not much of a writer) a power that he drew on out of himself.
The first day, during report, one of the other "C.O."s" told me, "That's Earl Krugel, a high profile case, David, he's the West coast Chairman of the Jewish Defense League."
I'd read about the case, of course, and the nickname, "Captain Krugel" popped into my head, so I always called him "Captain."
I found myself drawn to him immediately,
I was having some problems at home, I was separated from my wife, and Earl had a way of reaching out to people.
With all the legal problems he had himself, he spent his time counseling everyone around him, and he reached out to me, as well.
Late one morning I was doing rounds, I made a check next to his name and remarked, in "comments", "studying Bible, no apparent problems, adjusting well."
"How you doing, captain?" I asked.
"I am well," he said, lowering his leather bound Jewish Bible. "And you, David, how are you?"
Although, like I said, I found myself liking Earl immediately, as a trained professional I always did my best to appear impassive while conversing with inmates.
"I'm fine, Captain, just dandy."
He smiled a little and said, "Your words say one thing but your eyes say another."
I looked at him, "You're guessing. But you're right. It's my wife. Last night I went by to see her and there was a man there. I almost lost it. I could have killed the dude."
Earl got up and walked towards me. "There is a strength." he said, a slight smile on his lips.
"What are you talking about, Captain?" I asked.
His right hand shot out through the bars and grasped mine in a gentle yet vise-like grip.
I'd never seen a move that quick, yet I didn't feel threatened.
Something was flowing from him to me.
"Pull your hand away." He said.
I couldn't move.
"It's the strength of our people, our faith and our G-d." He said, and let my hand go.
"Our G-d?" I shot back. "You mean the one who let most of my family be tortured and murdered by the Germans in Europe?"
Earl's eyes were hooded but burning with intensity.
"You seek to know why.
You don't understand, so you turn your back on your faith, your people, your wife, and your
G-d." I started to walk towards the next cell. "Don't preach to me, Convict." I snapped.
Earl had a composure that was unreal.
"You don't understand the birth of a sapling in a Redwood forest. You don't understand the crash of waves on every beach in the world, one after the other. You don't understand the tears in the eyes of a hungry child. You don't understand the explosion of a supernova which pulls solar systems into the void and returns a million verdant planets, so do you now turn your back on the universe?"
I just looked at him.
"Your wife is coming back to you, David. Take her to synagogue, return to our people. Make babies. Be a light to the nations."
I spoke over my shoulder, cynically, "What are you now, Captain, a prophet?"
He grasped his bible from the bed and and gracefully lowered himself onto the floor of the cell, crossing his legs, the Book on his lap. "I am a man, David. A child of G-d, like you."
The next day there was a small riot in the day room. Two black convicts were beating Hell out of some poor white kid.
A phalanx of C.O.s headed towards the scene to break it up.
Earl emerged from a crowd of screaming inmates, grabbed the two black guys, one with each hand, and pulled them off of the kid.
"Enough!" he shouted.
A strange stillness descended over the inmates. The disturbance was over that quick.
Later, during rounds, I stopped by Earl's cell.
"Captain." I nodded, holding my clipboard.
"David." he responded, still sitting in what he later told me was the "Lotus position" on the cement floor.
I looked towards him. "Don't get involved in inmate situations, Captain, that's our job."
He smiled, "As you wish."
Earl stood up and stretched, doing some slow ballet looking martial arts movements.
I went on, "My wife called last night, Captain, she wants to try again."
He detected the joy in my voice.
" A man and a woman. Two people, one flesh. Treasure her, my young friend."
Earl and I grew closer over the years. I was relieved, though saddened, when he was sentenced and assigned to what was considered a "nice" prison, as prisons go.
I went to wish him well as they called his name to roll up, but was called to another wing for an issue over there.
I almost missed him.
I trotted back to Earl's cellblock and saw him for what was to be the last time.
"Captain, Captain!" I yelled as Earl headed down the stairway, a saint like expression on his handsome face.
I broke and ran as he looked back vaguely in my direction.
In a minute he'd be gone and I'd never see him again.
I caught him as he stepped off of the metal stairway and put my hand on his arm.
He turned around and looked at me.
Tears welled up in my eyes.
"What?" he asked, softly.
"Good luck." I said, and hugged him fiercely.
They took him away and I never got to see him again, but I will never forget that remarkable man.
Three days later he was murdered.
Below are some of the details.
I wish to add that the U.S. Attorney was threatening to revoke the plea agreement since Earl refused to inform as was called for in the agreement.
On November 4, 2005, at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix, Arizona, Krugel was murdered by another inmate, who used a concrete block to strike his head. Krugel had been at the prison for three days. As the case against Earl Krugel was on appeal at the time of his death, Judge Lew dismissed conviction.
"David Frank Jennings, 31, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix (FCI Phoenix), was sentenced here to 35 years in federal prison by Senior U.S. District Judge Earl H. Carroll. Jennings had pleaded guilty on October 25, 2007 to Second Degree Murder.
The facts showed that on November 4, 2005, inmate-victim Earl Krugel (62) was doing pushups in the recreation yard at FCI Phoenix when Jennings approached Krugel from behind and bludgeoned him in the head five times with a piece of concrete wrapped in a mesh bag. Krugel was pronounced dead on the scene."
The suspect, David Frank Jennings, 30, allegedly attacked Krugel from behind with a piece of concrete hidden in a bag while Krugel was using an exercise machine at a federal prison in Phoenix.
The indictment, issued by a federal grand jury on July 19, offers neither details nor motive, asserting that Jennings "with premeditation and malice aforethought willfully kill[ed] and murder[ed] Earl Leslie Krugel."
FEDERAL INMATE SENTENCED TO 35 YEARS FOR BRUTAL MURDER OF FELLOW INMATE
PHOENIX – David Frank Jennings, 31, an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix (FCI Phoenix), was sentenced here to 35 years in federal prison by Senior U.S. District Judge Earl H. Carroll. Jennings had pleaded guilty on October 25, 2007 to Second Degree Murder.
The facts showed that on November 4, 2005, inmate-victim Earl Krugel (62) was doing pushups in the recreation yard at FCI Phoenix when Jennings approached Krugel from behind and bludgeoned him in the head five times with a piece of concrete wrapped in a mesh bag. Krugel was pronounced dead on the scene.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The prosecution was handled by Alison S. Bachus and Thomas C. Simon, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: CR-06-684-PHX-EHC
RELEASE NUMBER: 2008-060(Jennings)
Jennings is the only person charged in the killing, which took place in plain view. Authorities contend that Jennings acted alone.
"He was the only one charged. There was no conspiracy," said Ann Harwood, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office in Phoenix, Authorities would say little else, including anything about the motive of the alleged killer, a small-time repeat offender with nothing in his rap sheet to suggest either this level of violence or any particular animosity toward the 62-year-old Krugel.
Krugel had been transferred to the Federal Corrections Institute (FCI) Phoenix, a medium security prison, just three days before the assault. To date, there is no indication that Krugel and Jennings knew each other. "My husband was brutally murdered just a few days after he was sent to that prison," Lola Krugel said. "He wasn't there long enough to make any deadly enemies."
At the time of the attack on Krugel, Jennings was serving a 70-month sentence at FCI Phoenix for a 2003 bank robbery in Las Vegas, which netted him $1,040. Because Jennings had threatened the teller during the robbery, authorities eventually extended his plea bargain sentence from 63 months to 70 months.
Jennings, who lived in Oregon before moving to Nevada, has multiple convictions, but court records reviewed by The Journal did not indicate any association with racist or anti-Semitic groups in or out of prison.
In 1993, Jennings was convicted in Oregon on an Assault III charge; a "class C" state felony, which resulted in an 18-month state prison sentence. In 1994 he was arrested and convicted for unauthorized use of a vehicle and sentenced to six months in jail.
In 1995, a probation violation cost him another six months.
He had apparently moved to Nevada by 1996. That same year he was arrested and pleaded guilty to state charges of grand larceny and unlawful possession of a credit card, for which he received a sentence of 16 to 72 months in state prison.
Krugel was transferred to the Phoenix facility to serve out the balance of a 20-year sentence, following his negotiated guilty plea to conspiracy, weapons and explosives charges.
The high-profile case against Krugel and the JDL involved an abortive bombing plot against possible targets that included a Culver City mosque and the field office of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), an Arab-American of Lebanese descent.
A fitness fanatic, Krugel was using exercise equipment when he was blind-sided between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2005.
Details of the assault did not emerge in previous reports; a review of the autopsy depicts a vicious attack.
His main injury was the initial blow to the back of his head, which crushed the left side of his skull and severely damaged his brain and brain stem. But his attacker also delivered multiple blows to Krugel's skull, face and neck, according to the autopsy, which was performed by the Maricopa County medical examiner and obtained by The Journal.
Krugel suffered multiple skull fractures, internal bleeding and multiple lacerations to his head, face and brain. The beating knocked out teeth and also fractured one of his eye sockets. Krugel was pronounced dead at the scene.
Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel
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