A new article in the December issue of Marie Claire Magazine has a former Reno native essentially convicting Darren Mack...and questioning whether the environment of the Biggest Little City contributed to the millionaire's downfall.
An interview with the article's author reveals that she is a Reno native who went to Reno High School. Amanda Robb can claim as her classmates, Darren Mack's first wife, and his second wife Charla Mack...who was murdered last June.
Robb says she wrote the article entitled "Murder in Reno" because she has written articles before on domestic violence and homicide. She says the article is an examination of the lifestyle here in Reno...how the gambling, the sex, and the money all may have contributed to Charla Mack's death. Robb wastes no words in describing Darren Mack, the accused murderer.
"If the taking quality of his family life," Robb says, "if the taking quality of his business, if the decadent access to whatever made him feel good was a contributing factor to the monster that he became."
Robb makes no apologies about convicting Mack in the first sentence of the first page.
"Well I mean, I assumed people know that he isn't convicted but in my mind, he seems pretty guilty," Robb says.
When News Channel 8 questioned Robb if it was OK to convict Mack without a trial, Robb responded by saying, "I'm not a judge or jury so I didn't feel I was convicting him."
Mack's attorney Scott Freeman says an author who had been looking at the big picture would have called him.
"That's just the sign of a little mind," Freeman says. "You know, a big mind would have called and said 'this is what I'm going to say, and do you have any comments, can you comment, is this true, can you comment' and I never received that phone call."
Robb says she didn't think he would talk to her. But in fact, Freeman has been very receptive to local as well as national media. In part, because Freeman has believed since the beginning, the Darren Mack case has had tabloid air about it. Being available, he says, helps keep the record straight.
Freeman says he first heard about the article in court with his client on November 16th. At that time he says a reporter for the news program "48 Hours" told him of its existence. He says as Mack's attorney, he and he alone knows all the facts of the case... and the article he says, contains many errors. Which could pose a problem when it comes time for jury selection next October.
"That's just the bottom line of the Mack case," Freeman says. "If we can't find 12 jurors that cannot be effective, we are not going to be in Reno, and we will try it somewhere else."
The article not only takes a shot at Darren Mack, but for many residents "Murder in Reno" denigrates the city of Reno. The article describes the city as "a place where one parent is plenty, money is for fun, and sex is always available."
Robb says if lifestyle here, where gambling and murder is not out of place...is it no wonder it spawned a Darren Mack?
"You know, to make it so that person is still alive and I think communities can ask those questions too, and as a writer, you ask those questions," Robb says.
Reno Gazette Journal Lifestyle Columnist Sioghan McAndrew says Robb took a writer's approach with an attitude to sell the story, but did so with a slight unethical manner.
"She just kind of picked on it to sell magazines," McAndrew says, "but I mean she is a writer and everyone has a right to say what they want but I think she took some cheap shots to sell a magazine."
McAndrew wrote about the "Murder in Reno" article one week ago and has since received hundreds of comments from local residents who believe Robb is off-base when it comes to Reno attitude and lifestyle...many say in essence, Reno is a great place to live...keep this place and town our secret.
Beside its knock against Reno, the article's accuracy is being questioned by Scott Freeman, who again reminds readers that he was never contacted by Robb.
Robb tells News Channel 8 that she believes the strum and drang over her article misses the point. She says there is a little girl without a mother and won't have a father for quite some time.