David Mahler needed a change. He'd spent years working as an attorney in New York and New Jersey but now the draw of California's year-round warmth was beckoning to him.
That, and the intense rumors of his being connected to the Mob. Plus he had a girlfriend out there, so why not?
After Mahler landed in California, he found his litigating days pretty much over since he couldn't pass the California bar exam. After two unsuccessful attempts Mahler declared himself a commodities trader and established a good clientele - good enough for David to live in a seven-story home overlooking the Los Angeles basin featuring a breath-taking skyline and a view of the famous "HOLLYWOOD" sign. And Mahler's new career also allowed him to own a couple of Jaguars and take exotic vacations.
While Mahler may have appeared to be living a lifestyle of the rich and famous, truth was that Mahler was actually existing as one of the drugged-out and trashy sorts.
Surrounding himself with hookers, porn stars, and other junkies, Mahler was trouble waiting to happen.
And it finally did in the wee morning hours of Sunday, May 27, 2007. A couple of guys living in the studio apartments of Mahler's home overheard ear-piercing arguments between Mahler and a woman and then a shot rang out. Soon thereafter Mahler tried to recruit the men to help him dispose of the body.
If not for the bravery of one of those men, the body of Kristen Baldwin may have went unidentified after it was discovered on the heels of near car accident in the California desert.
Now true crime author Don Lasseter along with Los Angeles County prosecutor Ronald Bowers recounts the tale of a lawless lawyer who found himself doing time in a California prison in their new book Date With the Devil.
I have to say this is one of the better Lasseter books I've read in a while, even despite it's lack of background information on David Mahler as well as the sugar-coated description of the victim's life.
At one point Ron Bowers wonders why the media was all over the story of Phil Spector and the murder of Lana Clarkson, especially considering the colorful cast of characters including prostitutes, adult film actors, and drugs. Well, quite frankly, I think he answered his own question. It's a story of two fighting addicts that turns deadly.
Not really news in today's world. But before anyone says it...no, no one deserves to die in such a violent manner but if you're living the life, you're at high risk. But while I may not be able to garner up as much sympathy for the victims in these type situations, I can feel sorry for their families and do. Their families undoubtedly wished for their loved one to get away from "the life" and was devastated when that chance came to an abrupt end. And that breaks my heart.
So, that said - Date With the Devil by Don Lasseter and Ronald E. Bowers isn't a shocking story, but an interesting one nonetheless. You'll walk away feeling a little cheated on how someone with such potential wound up being sentenced to more than 20 years in prison but not so much I would say skip it altogether.